They laid together quietly for a few minutes, catching their breath and enjoying the sizzling remnants of good sex. Snow was falling outside of the window, big clumps of flakes that would accumulate quickly and make the roads unnavigable. The afternoon sun was dipping towards the western sky with a gradual dimming that would eventually drive them from the bed to turn on lights or force them to sleep. They eventually chose to get up.
They touched a lot while getting dressed, reassuring, glancing touches just because they could. They padded down the stairs in their stocking feet and made their way to the kitchen. Harry basked in the comforting familiarity of the sound of Draco descending behind him. He marveled again at the impact those few days had made on him. Draco's eyes lit up as he entered, and he smiled around at the comfortable space. He strode over to the dumbwaiter and traced his hand over the control buttons.
"Oh how I missed you," he cooed.
"Do you miss any of the groceries your family bought?" Harry asked as he plugged in the tea kettle. "We still have bags of crisps in there from your trip."
"Those things never go bad."
"Maybe I should bring one home to my parents as a peace offering," Draco grimaced as he flopped down at the large table.
"Rough patch?" Harry asked mildly, thinking about Narcissa's note and its lack of information about his date of return.
"It turns out we may not have been as subtle as we thought," Draco traced his finger along the wood grain. "Auntie Gliese knew about us. I'm not sure how but she knew. And she let it slip." He shrugged tolerantly, "It wasn't intentional, but my parents heard her and became very cross."
"And here I thought I had won them over," Harry poured the tea and set a cup in front of Draco.
"It's not that," Draco sipped and grimaced. "Where's the sugar?"
"Almost forgot," Harry grimaced in return. He wandlessly waved the sugar bowl over as he retrieved the milk from the fridge.
"Showy prat," Draco muttered, snatching the sugar out of the air. He dumped in several scoops and poured in enough milk that the cup nearly overflowed.
"Next time I'll pour a cup of milk and sugar and let you add the tea last," Harry said.
"It's not you," Draco continued. "It's their desire for an heir. A pureblood heir. That nonsense hasn't gone anywhere."
"I heard Astoria Greengrass is available," Harry said mildly, remembering the article in the Daily Prophet.
"They wish," Draco snorted. "Her family originated that rumor. I'm sure my parents would be perfectly happy with that choice, but there's no truth to it."
"Oh," Harry knew the relief showed on his face.
"Come now," Draco sneered, showing a bit of the old rival Harry had known during their school days. "Saint Potter forgot what rubbish the Daily Prophet prints? I mean, really. Most eligible bachelor? Please," his eyes sparkled devilishly.
They went out in the evening to walk in the snow, not comfortable enough with inclement weather and motorcars to hail a taxi. Draco suggested popping over to The Magic Hat and had to duck when Harry took a swing at him.
"So you're still done with that bartender tosser?" Draco asked.
"Yes," Harry rolled his eyes. "Again."
"'You went back to him?" Draco sneered.
"You left," Harry said miserably. "And he said it would be different."
"Not particularly, no," Harry scuffled his boots through the slush.
"But you're done now," Draco paused. He had snowflakes caught in his hair and eyelashes.
"I'm done now,' Harry said firmly. "I was done with him whether or not you came back."
"Good," Draco regarded him pompously. "You know I don't like to share."
"What about you, did you see anyone?" Harry winced as soon as he asked. He wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer.
"No," Draco chuckled. "If you saw my classmates you'd understand."
"You have been with other men than me, right?" Harry slipped his arm through Draco's.
"Did you ever tell anyone from school?"
"No," Draco said as though the idea were completely daft. "Well, Blaise Zabini knew."
"How did he know?"
"He probably figured it out when I fucked him," Draco said lightly.
"Blaise is queer?" Harry couldn't believe his ears.
"No," Draco laughed. "But he thought he might like to make sure." He smiled distantly at the memory. "He thought we were two straight boys experimenting together, forever bound to keep each other's dirty secret." He shook his head, "I corrected his assumption but he never told anyone out of fear that I would expose him."
"Slytherins," Harry said as though it explained everything.
The phone in his pocket dinged and he reached in to silence it. They continued along, walking in the snow, getting colder by the minute but enjoying the sights. Harry's mobile dinged again.
"What in the name of Salazar is happening in your trousers, Potter?" Draco finally turned on him with outrage.
"It's just my mobile," Harry said dismissively.
"Why is it chiming at you? That's the fifth time since we left," Draco folded his arms across his chest and Harry suspected a declaration of inelegance couldn't be far from his lips.
"It's a text message," Harry said. "It means someone is sending me letters, but instead of by owl they're going straight to my mobile."
"Thank you, Potter, I was able to pick that up from the context clues," Draco held his hand out expectantly. "Give it to me. Who is messaging you?"
Harry sighed and slipped the phone from his pocket. He called up the message list and handed it to Draco.
"Colin," Draco pressed his lips together. "I thought you said you were done with him."
"I am," Harry said. "But he's not done with me, I guess. He's been messaging like this since I broke it off."
Draco touched the screen and figured out how to scroll through the previous messages. Over and over, day after day, the same request for Harry to call him with no reply.
"How do I text him back?" Draco poked at the screen.
"Don't answer, you'll just encourage him," Harry covered the mobile with his hand.
"Ignoring him clearly isn't working. It just makes him want to wear you down more," Draco looked up with a raised eyebrow. "I know his type. I used to be his type."
Harry sighed and pressed the reply button. The keyboard popped up and Harry showed him how it worked. It took him longer than it should have to hunt and peck the right letters, but eventually he wrote a short note and hit the send button.
"What did you say?"
"I said this is Draco Malfoy, please stop messaging my boyfriend," Draco said smugly.
"Am I your boyfriend now?" Harry couldn't suppress a pleased grin.
"Don't be daft, Potter, of course you are," Draco said in his best sharp tone, echoing the hostilities of their schooldays. Harry would have bridled if not for the smirk on his lips.
Just then the phone rang. Harry snatched it back and pressed the ignore button. It immediately rang again.
"What is happening now?" Draco asked, his eyes wide and alarmed by the sound.
"He's calling me. He wants to talk directly," Harry struggled to distinguish the function.
"Give it to me," Draco beckoned with his hand. "How do I turn it on?"
"Press here, then hold it to your ear and say hello," Harry cringed as Draco followed his instructions. Oh Merlin, this was either going to be very entertaining or horrible to watch.
"Hello," Draco said into the phone. His eyes widened as a voice spoke in his ear. "Tell me your name first," he commanded. "Colin, yes, this is Draco Malfoy. No you may not."
He listened with a raised eyebrow while Harry paced anxiously. He should have kept the phone. He didn't mind ignoring it. It would have stopped eventually.
"Yes, I understand your disappointment," Draco said condescendingly. "I suggest you summon whatever shred of self-respect you have left and move on with your life." He nodded, even though the other man couldn't see him, "That's a consequence I'm prepared to live with." He listened and nodded again, "Colin, I'm done talking to you. I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but you bollocksed it up properly and now you're going to have to spend the rest of your life wondering what you missed out on. And as the better man, I can assure you that you've made no bigger mistake than letting Harry get away. Now bugger off and stop calling."
He handed the phone dismissively to Harry, who scrambled to disconnect the call.
"Well, I'm banned for life from The Magic Hat," Draco shoved his hands in his pockets and gazed thoughtfully off into the distance. "I'll need some time to grieve, of course."
Harry stared at the phone, expecting it to ring again. When it remained silent he looked up in disbelief. "You're an utter prat," he said reverently. He grabbed Draco's hand and roughly pulled him in for a kiss.
"That," Draco pointed at the bulge in Harry's pocket where the mobile was, "is the height of inelegance. But I will admit it's convenient."
"I'm freezing my arse off," Harry stepped back towards the house. "Let's go warm up."
They spent most of Christmas Eve keeping each other warm, even inside the adequately heated house. As Harry had mentioned to Dean the pantry was low on supplies, but with some creativity they were able to put together a few reasonably satisfying meals. Christmas dinner would be a stretch, though.
On Christmas morning Draco poked Harry awake. And not the good kind of poke, the kind that was a finger in Harry's ribcage. He squinted and opened his eyes, swiping his hand feebly at the intrusion.
"Sod off, Malfoy," he grumbled, then realized why Draco was poking him. There was singing coming from downstairs. Not one or two voices, but several, coming from Inside of the house.
"Someone has come a-wassailing," Draco said dryly.
"Do you know what this is about?" Harry sat up, suddenly very self conscious about his nudity. There were unknown people in his house, and his knob was exposed.
"How would I know what this is about?" Draco rubbed his face grumpily. "What kind of people intrude on Christmas morning before I've had a proper cup of coffee?"
"Harry! Malfoy! I hope you're decent!" a familiar voice shouted up the stairs.
"Ron," Harry said.
"Weasel," Draco said at the same time.
Harry scrambled out of the bed and found something to throw on. Draco grumbled about having to face Harry's friends in the previous night's clothes, without a shower, and before he'd had his coffee. Harry planted a kiss on his mouth to shut him up. They descended the stairs, following the sound of the singing until they reached the drawing room.
Ron, Hermione, Dean, Ginny, Luna, Neville, and Seamus were standing in the middle of the room, bundled up for the cold, bellowing Christmas carols.
"Happy Christmas!" Hermione shouted as they entered. They applauded, although Harry wasn't sure whether they were applauding for Harry and Draco or for themselves.
"Happy Christmas," he said. "What are you doing here?"
"We thought we'd pop by and see how you were getting on," Dean said with a smug smile. He had clearly orchestrated their little musical ambush. "Alright, Malfoy?"
"Alright, Thomas," Draco nodded respectfully.
Suddenly a thought occurred to Harry. "Did you know the Christmas reservation was Draco before he arrived?"
"Of course I did," Dean smiled. "He came in looking for you so I told him he should book the house for three days."
"Is he charging you?" Harry asked Draco.
"Through the nose," Draco said pointedly. He yawned and stretched and scrubbed his fingers through his hair. "This is brilliant but I need coffee. Anyone else? No? Okay." he slouched out of the room and the sound of his feet receded.
Harry's friends suspended the conversation until Draco was well out of earshot. Then they descended all at once.
"How is it going?"
"Are you together now?"
"Is it strange?"
"Has Colin come around?"
"Does he know about Colin?"
"Don't mention Colin."
"It's going well," Harry waved them back. "We're together now. It's not strange. Colin was done weeks ago, you know that."
"So," Ron looked confused. "This is really going to be a thing?"
"It's really a thing," Harry nodded apologetically. "Merry Christmas, Ron, I got you a Malfoy."
"Just what I always wanted," Ron grimaced comically.
Harry's friends peeled off their winter gear and sat around the drawing room. Draco came back up the stairs a few minutes later with a coffee mug in hand and a placid expression on his face. He squeezed in next to Harry on the fainting couch and raised the mug to the room.
"Cheers," he said, and took a long pull. "Elixir of life."
"Are you two coming to the Burrow for Christmas supper?" Hermione asked.
"I don't know," Harry looked at Draco questioningly. "I hadn't thought about it."
"Is anyone really okay with that suggestion?" Draco looked pained. "Or are we going for some kind of Guinness World Record for most awkward holiday?"
"It won't be that bad," Ginny said. "A bit bumpy for the first minute but fine after that."
"Mm," Draco hummed noncommittally as he took another sip.
"Unless you have your own family's Christmas supper to attend," Hermione added.
"Not bloody likely," Draco frowned. "I do need to get over there and patch things up at some point, but not today."
"Then you'll come," Hermione smiled winningly. "Brilliant, we'll let Molly know."
"I didn't say-" Draco's eyes widened as Harry's friends all stood en masse and reassembled their outdoor gear.
"It's decided," Harry shrugged helplessly. "Get used to it, you're part of this group now."
"Bloody Merlin," Draco palmed his face and shook his head.
Their guests all filed out through the Floo, one by one until they were all gone. Harry and Draco sat on the fainting couch in silence, equally bemused by the morning's surprise. Draco gazed thoughtfully into his mug and then finally tugged Harry to his feet.
"Breakfast. Now," he dragged Harry behind him.
They had to scrounge for something to eat, which made a strong argument for visiting the Burrow for supper. Harry taught Draco a few of Molly Weasley's cleaning spells, although he protested that he should never need that sort of knowledge, and then they went upstairs to finish prepping the house. Harry hung the remaining clothing items in the dressing room and checked to make sure the beds had finished refreshing themselves. The loos were all clean, and soon enough they were ready to go.
Pausing in front of the fireplace, Harry knew they were both thinking about their last departure from Grimmauld Place. Draco was pensive and withdrawn, his eyes shadowed and evasive.
"What if," he paused and seemed unable to continue. Harry could tell he was feeling vulnerable, a very uncomfortable place for a Malfoy to be.
"What if nothing," Harry said, hoping to cover the gamut of whatever was bothering him.
"What if this only works here?" Draco insisted. "Everything is out of context here. How can we go back and not have to deal with the past?"
"We started over," Harry said simply.
"But everyone else didn't."
"Everyone else can piss off," Harry said, his sharp tone very Malfoyish in that moment.
A grin broke across Draco's face. "I'm rubbing off on you, Potter."
Harry smirked and threw his handful of powder into the fireplace. The viridian flames leapt to life and crackled invitingly. Harry announced his destination and stepped through.
P&T Muggle Adventures was cold and empty, and the windows at the end of the long unit looked out onto the snowy street outside. Diagon Alley was deserted, closed up for the holiday, waiting in quiet anticipation of the Boxing Day crowds that would descend in the morning.
Harry walked to the windows and gazed outside, marveling at the rare sight of untrampled sidewalks and shuttered shopfronts. The fireplace whooshed behind him and a moment later two arms wrapped around Harry's shoulders. His stomach fluttered. The last time they were here together they had parted ways painfully. This time Harry's heart overflowed with something he was still too shy to name.
Draco hugged in closer behind him and rubbed their cheeks together, his whisper-fine stubble rasping lightly against Harry's coarser grain.
"I don't have anywhere to stay right now," Draco said suddenly, as though the thought had just occurred to him.
"I happen to have a boarding house in London that would suit you," Harry said, leaning into the other boy's touch. "Very reasonable rates."
"I am not living in a boarding house," Draco said in an uncompromising tone.
"The flat upstairs probably isn't up to your standards," Harry mused.
"Does it have a coffee pot?" Draco asked.
"Sold," Draco released him and folded his arms across his chest challengingly. He raised an imperious eyebrow, as though daring Harry to tell him he wasn't welcome to stay.
As though he would say that.
"I'll have Dean rewrite the cleaning schedule to fit you in," Harry said, holding his face as neutral as possible.
Draco's expression faltered. He searched Harry's eyes for sincerity and struggled to respond without outrage. Harry enjoyed seeing him work for the right words. Finally he couldn't hold back and laughed in his face.
"Right, then," Draco looked annoyed. "Very funny."
"I'm sorry, you looked so horrified," Harry laughed. "Come on, I'll show you the flat."
They trampled up the narrow stairwell and Draco went straight to the kitchen to confirm the presence of coffee. Then he went into Harry's room and laid down on the bed.
"This one is too small for two people," he declared. "We'll need an upgrade."
"Oh so now you're moving in for good?" Harry quirked an eyebrow. "We really will need to put you on the cleaning schedule."
"Rubbish," Draco snaked Harry's wrist and pulled him down next to him. They kissed and stroked each other for a bit and then laid quietly together.
"No really, you're going to have to clean the loo," Harry said.
"Then we're getting a maid."
"Dean might have something to say about all of this,"
"Thomas is going to marry the Weasley girl," Draco said dismissively.
"How can you tell?"
"How can you not?" Draco pushed himself up on his elbow. "I'll bet you five Galleons that he asks her father for her hand at supper tonight."
"So that means you're coming to the Burrow?" Harry said hopefully.
"Well I suppose that's the kind of thing I've signed on for, haven't I?"
"I love you," Harry blurted out without thinking. He immediately blushed bright red.
"Are you mad?" Draco asked tolerantly. "I know you're a Gryffindor but really. Think before you speak sometimes."
Harry blushed deeper and squirmed uncomfortably, but Draco held him firmly.
"Oh come on," Draco nudged his chin. "Don't act all embarrassed. I knew you were thinking it, you git."
"Bollocks," Harry grimaced.
"It's fine," Draco tipped Harry's chin with the crook of his finger and kissed him tenderly. "If I had been sorted into Gryffindor I might be tempted to say I love you, too," his eyes sparkled. "Good thing I wasn't."
A smile broke over Harry's face. "Say it for real," he said. "No joking."
It was Draco's turn to blush now. He took a breath, his eyes flicking around the room nervously. He was naked, not physically but in a way that was far more vulnerable. Harry knew for sure he was seeing something few other people on the planet had ever seen in him. He cleared his throat and recovered a tiny bit of composure, then lifted his chin proudly.
"I love you, too," he said softly, his voice rough.
"See?" Harry grinned. "This will work. It has to."
"You're probably right," Draco agreed. "And if you forget, I know a pub in London where I can find you a reminder."
"You're banned for life, though."
"That's okay," Draco shrugged. "I'll make sure you won't need a reminder."
Harry pulled him down and kissed him again. They laid quietly together, watching wind-borne wafts of snow drift off of the rooftop and flutter past the window. In the silence Harry could hear Draco's breath, he could feel it in his hair. Draco gently stroked his arm with his thumb, and seemed in no hurry to get up anytime soon. The comforting warmth was soothing and soon Harry was drifting off, somewhere between awake and asleep, semi-aware that he was lying in bed but also dreaming.
He felt a delicious sensation spread through his scalp and rose back towards consciousness with a luxurious groan. Draco was pressing small kisses into his hair, nuzzling and tickling with his lips. Harry's eyes fluttered open and he swallowed a small yawn. He felt so safe, so comfortable, so protected, so loved. He tipped his head and looked up into Draco's eyes. Draco smiled and dropped a kiss onto the bridge of Harry's nose.
"Alright, mate?" he asked with a smile.
"Yeah," Harry sighed happily. "Alright."