Fandom: Yugioh Zexal (Harry Potter AU)

Pairing: V/Gauche

Summary: Companion fic to Memento Vivere. Christopher thinks about the sacrifices he's had to make and how it would be so much easier to just stop keeping secrets.

AN: this is stupidly indulgent and they're probably ooc anyway and Christopher doesn't even start doing much in MV until chapter 6, but I have been wanting to write a fic about him and his Auror boyfriend since I originally threw him in there. mostly because lol the Arkwrights are totally Zexal characters and this is my Zexal OTP

anyway, Merry Christmas, and if you enjoy this, well, more power to you. :)

In the Bleak Midwinter

"Merry Christmas, Christopher."

Christopher froze for a minute second as he entered the room, then went on as if he had not heard the voice at all. He had known that eventually, he might be found out, that his mission might be put in jeopardy through one tiny misstep, but he had not thought it would be so soon. It could not be so soon. He would not allow it.

But the voice had been cold, far more cold than Christopher ever heard it when it was directed toward himself. He had heard that tone when that voice was interrogating prisoners, on the one or two occasions that he had been allowed to wait outside the interrogation rooms rather than being hurried off to another area of the Ministry building to wait. That voice belonged to an Auror and not the man he had come to know and love over the last few years.

"Merry Christmas, Gauche," Christopher murmured as he carefully unclipped the travel cloak from around his neck. He hung the dark length of cloth over the back of the nearest chair and paused awkwardly behind it. "I didn't know you would be visiting today. I might have been here to receive you. Has an elf been in to tend to your needs yet? I'll call one-"

"We made plans weeks ago for today," Gauche said, crossing his arms and his legs in the chair he was occupying, as if to say more firmly that he would not be going anywhere until his questions were answered. It was a completely unnecessary gesture; the tone of his voice was more than enough. "I sent you a letter Monday to make sure you'd remember. I fire-called you yesterday too."

Christopher sighed and shook his head, determinedly looking everywhere but the angry wizard sitting across from him. It was true that they had been planning to spend Christmas together for weeks, and that they had even spoken of it as recently as yesterday. So much had happened since, however, that he had entirely forgotten about it.

"I'm sorry, Gauche," he said softly, and he hoped that Gauche would hear and believe the sincerity in his voice. "Something came up."

Gauche stared at him in disbelief and Christopher's fingers curled tightly on the back of the chair he stood behind. One moment of carelessness...and of course Gauche would be able to tell something was wrong; Christopher had an immense amount of difficulty actually lying to him. It was a bit ridiculous, actually, just how easily Gauche was able to see through him at times. He had over a hundred years experience in the arts of lying and deception, and yet his carefully fabricated houses of cards always tumbled away at Gauche's feet.

It was one of the many reasons he had fallen in love with the man, but at times he did find it a bit frustrating. Now was looking to becoming one of those times.

"Something's always coming up with you, recently," Gauche said with a frown. He tilted his head to the side, studying him with an intense gaze that was surely the result of his Auror training. "You're always too busy to do anything, or you aren't here when I stop by. What's going on?"

Christopher said nothing. He snapped his fingers to call one of the house elves, and he gave her instructions to bring them tea and to inform his father that he had returned, and then he stepped around the chair to the fireplace to prod the dying fire back to life with his wand. All the while, he could feel Gauche's eyes following him, and he knew he would not be able to ignore the question forever. He would be able to ignore it for long enough, however, to come up with a good answer. He could not tell Gauche the truth, and the man had been content to let him be up until now.

Something in his tone of voice told him that he would not be letting it go this time. Christopher had disappeared on him one too many times now.

He heard steps behind him and, even though it would surely destroy his carefully crafted masks, he allowed Gauche to embrace him tightly from behind. He allowed himself to relax into the man's intense warmth, soothing and so incredibly different from his own intensely low body temperature. He could so easily allow himself to fall asleep, surrounded by this warm comforting presence, by the slow but strong heart beating in his chest, by the musky scent that he had become so familiar with.

"I'm worried about you," Gauche murmured in his ear, and he could not help but relax further into his embrace. He always felt so safe with Gauche, which was, of course, absolutely ridiculous given that the man was an Auror and he was a creature Darker, perhaps, than any but the dementors. But it was true that he had never dragged Christopher to the Ministry like he was supposed to, even when he found out the Ministry could no longer keep track of him, and Christopher had never felt like he ought to give him a reason to. And then, of course, Gauche said things like that, which meant more to him than, he was sure, Gauche would ever be able to understand.

No one worried about him, other than his family and now, perhaps, Harry-certainly no other wizard had ever worried about him since he had been one himself.

"I'm worried about you," Gauche repeated when Christopher remained silent. He left one arm tight around his waist while the other began tracing light paths over his hips and up his side and down his arm. "You've been stressed out for months, over this stupid secret you won't let me in on. Stressed out, and...if I didn't know you better, I'd say you were having fun for once, too. I've never seen you like this."

Christopher shuddered as Gauche's fingertips reached his forearm, where carefully placed glamours concealed a dark mark he had always hoped he would never have to take. That it was there now was a testament to his acting and his abilities to keep intruders out of his well as to just how badly things had become for his people and how much he appreciated the one person who was going to stand up and do something about it.

But it was also something he hoped Gauche would never see. He was not sure Gauche actually believed the Dark wizard had returned, but either way, seeing that mark would break him. Christopher did not want to do that to him.

He heard the soft pop of Milly the house elf behind them as she returned with their tea. A moment later, there was another pop as she left again without a word, familiar enough with how they usually interacted to know that they would not want to be disturbed.

"If all goes well, you'll be seeing me this way far more often," Christopher murmured once she was gone. He laid one hand over the one still on his waist and interlaced their fingers. "That's all I can say. Except that I am sorry and I really was called away at the last minute."

Gauche let out a soft growl and passed his fingers over the sensitive skin of his forearm a second time, to silently point out that he had noticed Christopher's unusual reaction the first time.

"You don't keep secrets from me," he said, resting his chin on Christopher's shoulder, and he sounded a bit like a petulant child and christopher couldn't help but smile.

"I know. And I don't wish to this time." He shifted his left hand so he could grab Gauche's and force him to stop making him shiver. "I think I'll be able to tell you eventually. I think we'll be able to use your help. But it's not up to me."

Gauche snorted softly and tightened his embrace, but that was all he did. He would surely try to push for answers again some other night, as he had been for the last few months, and he might even try to bring it up again later in the evening, but he would give up on it for the moment. He would not be getting any answers right now, and he knew it.

Christopher knew that if he pushed in just the right way, he would probably end up telling him everything, and he was sure Gauche knew that too, but for now, Gauche would allow him his privacy, and he was grateful for it. He really did want to tell him everything and bring him into the fold-Gauche was one of the few wizards out there who would probably agree with Harry and what he wanted to do-but it would have to wait.

After a moment, Gauche sighed and gently shook one of his hands free so he could wave his wand and summon a small box that had been sitting on the arm of the chair he had been occupying when Christopher had arrived home. It flew across the room and Christopher darted out a hand to catch it, since Gauche's were both full.

"Open it, it's yours," Gauche said as he tucked his wand away again and tugged his other hand free so he could go back to embracing Christopher with both arms again.

Christopher carefully slid the dark green ribbon from the box and tilted open the lid. Inside rested a simple silver ring, engraved with curling designs too dizzyingly delicate to follow for long and set with a deep blue stone cut in the shape of a triangle. The ring tingled with powerful magic in his fingers as he lifted it from its resting place.

"If I'm ever in danger," Gauche murmured as he reached up to take the ring and one of Christopher's hands, "this will grow hot and you'll be able to Apparate to wherever I am, even through most wards and protective spells. I have another one that we can key to you too, so I'll have one like it, if you want."

Christopher allowed him to slide the ring onto his middle finger and found that he could only nod in response. It was a princely gift, and he would undoubtedly use it, but he found that he cared more for the thought that Gauche would like to be able to come to his aid if he needed it.

And he would need it. If he played his cards right, that time would come far off into the future, but he had no doubt that there would come a time when he would find himself in a situation that he would not be able to get himself out of.

The problem, however, was that it might very well be the Dark Wizard who put him there, and he did not want to endanger Gauche's life like that.

Once again, Christopher wished he could let Gauche in on the truth, so he would at least be prepared, and, more selfishly, so he would just have another person to confide in whenever it became too much. But Gauche would have to be something other than an Auror, and he would have to be spying on someone less volatile and suspicious than the Dark Lord, and his saviour would have to be someone other than the Saviour of the Wizarding World.

And they would have to be further along in their plans, though that might take somewhat less time than he had expected, if what Sanguini had told him was correct.

"Thank you," he murmured after a moment, clenching his fisting his appreciation for the gift. "And I would like it if we did that. I would be honored to put my life in your hands, as you've put yours in mine."

Gauche chuckled against his neck (probably at his overly formal speech, as was usually the case), and he pulled a second box out of his robs with a bit of a grin. "I thought you might say that."

Christopher carefully watched and memorized every flick of his wand, every syllable of the various incantations and the unique stresses he gave them, as Gauche charmed the second ring to act as the first, so that he would be able to perform these charms later should he ever need to. Or, more likely, should he ever want to try them himself simply to see if he could. He had a feeling that Gauche deliberately said them more slowly than he had to just for that reason. He was well aware of Christopher's love of learning; that, and Gauche's own cavalier approach to his studies, had been the subject of more than a few arguments.

Christopher smiled sadly as he took the ring and slid it onto Gauche's left hand, where it would be less noticeable. It would be so simple to just tell him everything now.

Gauche interlaced their fingers again once he was done and pressed a light, fiery kiss to his neck. "I don't know what you're mixed up in all of a sudden, but I'm here for you, all right? Don't you dare forget that. And I'll be here when you feel like telling me about it."

"I know." Christopher tilted his head so he could return the kiss, a brief touch of his lips-so very brief, to avoid temptation-to his neck where his blood pulsed most firmly beneath his skin. "Maybe next Christmas, my gift will be to tell you everything."