maxine_chan: (HP - HarryDraco paint by Sherant)
Maxine ([personal profile] maxine_chan) wrote2011-11-09 07:34 pm
Entry tags:

FIC: All the Answers - Chapter 24, part 1

So hey! Turns out there won't be a delay after all, haha. You get this chapter EARLY. But only because you guys are awesome. :D


Title: All the Answers
Fandom: Harry Potter
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Harry/Draco
Word Count: 10,400
Disclaimer: It's not mine. JKR is the brilliant mind behind HP.
Notes: This is a post-HBP 7th year fic that is not compliant with Deathly Hallows at all. Many, many thanks to my awesome beta, [livejournal.com profile] lksnarry1!
Summary: Horcruxes, former enemies showing up out of nowhere, and the usual teenage drama on top of it all - Harry isn't sure how he's ever going to make it through all this. But since when has conquering evil ever been easy?


--> All chapters can be found here. <--



previous chapter


~~Chapter 24~~


“Ginny!” Harry exclaimed, trying to untangle himself from her arms. She released him but didn’t step back, so she was still well within his personal space.

“Oh, Harry, I’m so glad you’re alright,” she said, as Hermione rushed past and flew straight into Ron’s – who still looked liked Harry – arms. “Hermione told me you were off doing something dangerous,” Ginny continued. “But she refused to tell me what. Is everything okay?”

Harry ignored the question. “Ginny,” he said again. “What – why are you here?”

Ginny frowned for a moment, but then her lips quirked upward in a small smile. “Christmas is in a few days, silly. I’m on winter break from Hogwarts.”

Was it really? Harry blinked, wondering how that much time had passed already, and automatically glanced at Hermione for confirmation – except she was busy peppering kisses all over Ron’s face, which was a disturbing sight since it was still his face.

“What took you all so long?” Hermione asked, pulling back enough to ask the question but keeping her hand wrapped around Ron’s. “I’ve been out of my mind with worry!”

Dobby hopped nervously from foot to foot. “Dobby was taking awhile,” he said. “The wards was very complicated! And dark.”

“It wasn’t you, you did great,” Ron said, grinning down at the elf. “We just ran into a couple of snags.”

“And a couple of Death Eaters,” Draco added dryly.

Hermione’s grip on Ron’s hand tightened. “Did you at least – get what you went for?”

Draco crossed his arms and smirked over at Ron. “Weasley killed the snake,” he said, and both Harry’s and Hermione’s jaws dropped.

“That was you?” Harry said. “Ron, that’s – that’s amazing!” He laughed. “Well done!”

“He cast Sectumsempra on it,” Draco said in a wry tone, while Ron flushed slightly and looked pleased.

“It wasn’t anything, really,” he said. “Malfoy was the real impressive one. He had all of them fooled, even Voldemort–”

“Only because Weasley did some excellent acting, too,” Draco cut in. “The only thing he couldn’t pull off was faking an understanding of Parseltongue.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t even crack when he had you under the Cruciatus,” Ron said.

Harry’s eyes went wide as he spun to face Draco. “He had you under–?!”

“But you even managed to stop Greyback from killing me!” Draco interrupted again, and Harry could only roll his eyes at that point because, seriously, only those two would actually try to out-compliment each other.

“I don’t understand,” said Ginny. “Why did you have to kill a snake?”

The others went quiet and glanced at each other, and then Draco frowned suddenly. “Hang on, Potter. You knew we killed it?”

“Yeah, of course,” Harry said. “I felt it.” He gestured at his scar. “You know, like with – like…last time.” He shot a guilty look at Ginny, who propped her hands on her hips and scowled.

“Why can’t you just tell me what you’re going on about?” she asked, starting to sound upset.

Draco didn’t even seem to notice she’d posed a question and spoke before anyone could answer. “You felt it,” he repeated. “Even though you weren’t anywhere near the Dark Lord.”

“No…I wasn’t.” Harry’s brow furrowed. “I went the opposite direction you two did. What are you getting at, Malfoy?”

“We had to make a mad dash out of the room after Weasley sliced the bloody thing’s head off,” Draco said. “And the farther we got, the less my mark hurt.” He looked at Hermione, who had gone a bit pale. “The mark only hurt when I was near Voldemort. I’m guessing last time it hurt because we were near – well.” He finally glanced Ginny’s way, but then turned back to Hermione almost immediately. “You know where I’m going with this, Hermione, I know you do. You’ve noticed it, too. If Potter’s scar hurt when he wasn’t near the – thing, or Voldemort himself…”

“Look, just spit it out already. What exactly are you trying to say?” Harry asked. He didn’t like that they seemed to know something he didn’t.

Hermione shook her head. “We shouldn’t jump to conclusions,” she said, and then aimed a pointed look in Ginny’s direction. “And we can discuss it later.”

Ginny threw her hands up in the air. “You lot are always so damn secretive!” she cried, and then jabbed a finger toward Draco. “And since when has he called you Hermione? What’s going on with all of you? I could help, too, you know!”

“We can’t tell you, Ginny,” Harry said, in a pained sort of way. “Dumbledore didn’t want me spreading it around–”

“Oh, but you can tell Malfoy?” Ginny interrupted. “Seriously?”

Harry floundered for words, uncertain how to explain, but Draco just scowled. “I think I’ve earned the right to know,” he said, and Ginny gave an incredulous laugh.

“Oh really? Earned it, have you?” She crossed her arms, glowering. “Must be nice that you were given the chance to earn it.”

“For fuck’s sake, Weasley – other Weasley – stop whining,” Draco snapped. “We don’t always get what we want, alright? You adventuring across the countryside as part of Potter’s quest to vanquish evil from the planet isn’t going to happen. Get over it.”

Ginny’s eyes flared up, suddenly full of the blazing energy that Harry used to love about her. Except at the moment it was an angry energy, and a furious look quickly spread over Ginny’s face. Somewhere around Harry’s knee, Dobby whimpered.

“No,” she said tightly, barely sounding in control of her own voice, and Harry abruptly realized that she was just as upset as she was mad. “Because you stepped in and filled the four-person quota right up, didn’t you? Because you’re so useful – the only good thing you’ve ever managed to do was fail at killing Dumbledore!”

Draco immediately tensed up, but it was Ron who stepped in and grabbed Ginny’s arm, saying to her in a low voice, “Stop it, Ginny. Malfoy’s more than proved himself – he’s nearly died about three separate times already and he hasn’t done a damn thing to put the rest of us in danger. You’re out of line.”

“And you’re my brother,” Ginny said thickly. She ripped her arm out of Ron’s grip, looking betrayed, and stormed out of the entry hall.

Harry made an exasperated sound. “Ginny!” he called. He took one step after her, and Draco gave him a disgusted look.

“I’m going to take a shower,” he muttered, and headed up the stairs before anyone could stop him.

“…Harry Potter, sir?” Dobby spoke up meekly. Harry glanced down at him. “Is Dobby being needed here anymore?”

“No, Dobby, I’m sorry,” Harry said with a sigh. “You were brilliant today. Tell Kreacher I said hello, will you?”

Dobby nodded, gave Harry a little salute, and then Disapparated on the spot.

Harry sighed again, more in frustration this time, and took another step in the direction Ginny had gone.

Then he paused.

“If you’re confused, it’s because the stairs aren’t over there,” Ron said. “They’re this way.”

Harry hesitated. “But Ginny…”

“Oh, Harry,” Hermione said softly. “Is that really who you want to go after?”

“She’ll cool off on her own,” Ron said. “Just – make up your mind already, yeah?” He headed for the stairs himself, tugging Hermione along with him. “I’m going to go change. Don’t want to turn back into me when I’m still wearing your clothes.”

“You’re so much shorter like this,” Harry listened to Hermione say as their voices faded away. “It’s a little bit weird…”

He stood there for a moment, shifting his weight from foot to foot, and then all at once he swore, because who was he kidding, really? He was being ridiculous, especially considering he’d just spent half the day panicking that something had happened to Draco.

Without wasting another second, Harry took the stairs two at a time and marched down the hallway until he made it to the bathroom. He could hear the water running and when he tried the doorknob, he found that it was unlocked.

“Malfoy?” Harry called cautiously, as he pushed the door open. Draco’s clothes were strewn haphazardly across the floor, like he’d stripped them off as he made a beeline for the shower without pausing anywhere along the way. The mental image of Draco’s wet and naked body made Harry’s cheeks burn, and he quickly shook it away.

“What do you want, Potter?” Draco said, his voice a bit muffled. It was a question Harry suddenly had a hundred answers to, but all of them seemed to hang apprehensively on the tip of his tongue. Draco didn’t seem surprised that he was there, Harry noticed. Maybe that was why the door had been unlocked. Maybe Draco wanted him there.

“Are you okay?” Harry blurted, which wasn’t one of the many replies he’d been waffling over. He frowned at himself.

“…I’m fine,” Draco replied after a beat. “A little sore, I guess.” Harry saw his silhouette shift behind the shower curtain, and then he grunted. “Or a lot sore, rather.”

“Malfoy…” Harry leaned back against the wall as a wave of guilt washed over him. “Thank you,” he said abruptly. “I should have said it ages ago, but we really – you’ve been a huge help with the Horcruxes. I don’t know how we even would have gotten the cup without you, and it’s because of you we could kill Nagini–”

“Weasley did that,” Draco interrupted. “Seriously, I’m not sure I would’ve made it out of there without him. He’s the one you should thank.”

“And I will,” Harry said impatiently. “But you’re the one who got us in there and close enough to Voldemort in the first place.”

“Snape could have done it. I ran into him, by the way. Before he showed up with my aunt, I mean.”

“Jesus, Malfoy, just take the compliment, would you?” Harry said, somewhat exasperated. “And the gratitude, you git.”

Draco huffed, whipping back the curtain partway so he could glare at Harry. “I don’t want your bloody gratitude, Potter. Is that all you came in here to say?”

“No…” Harry mumbled, quickly distracted by the pale skin of Draco’s neck and the way the water ran in streaming rivulets over it. His eyes trailed down, following the line of Draco’s body until it disappeared behind the shower curtain.

Heat bloomed in Harry’s stomach and he swallowed hard, fighting back a sudden urge to rip the rest of the curtain out of the way and jump right into the shower with him.

Oh, for the love of–

He wanted Draco Malfoy. Draco bloody Malfoy. How the hell had that happened?

Not that Harry was altogether surprised. Not at this point in the game. The prat had gotten under his skin – he’d always been under his skin, actually, since the moment Harry had met him. He was just less annoying now. Or maybe it was just that Harry had finally taken the time to get to know him, to learn what was behind the haughty façade. He’d discovered more about Draco Malfoy in the past six months than he had in the six years they’d been in school together.

Draco was smarter than Harry had ever given him credit for. He had a sharp wit and while he was still snarky as hell, Harry now found that he was surprisingly amusing, too. He was prickly, he got riled up easily, and he and Harry would probably never see eye-to-eye on a lot of different things, but maybe that was actually part of the reason Harry liked being around him. It kept things…interesting.

There was still the fact that he was a boy, but it confused Harry how little that bothered him now. Perhaps it just didn’t matter. Draco was fit enough, if you liked your blokes pointy and pale. Which apparently, Harry did.

He had nice hair, at least…

Harry couldn’t seem to get his thoughts under control. It was like a switch had been flipped somewhere inside of him, now that he’d…what? Admitted it to himself? Accepted it?

He was still staring.

And Draco was starting to sound exasperated.

…Wait.

Potter!” Harry’s head snapped up, his cheeks going bright red when he realized Draco had obviously called his name more than once. Draco mostly just looked amused, though, and also a little pleased, if Harry wasn’t mistaken. “Whenever you’re done staring,” Draco said, and Harry didn’t even try to deny that he had been.

Instead, he rolled his eyes. “I’m done,” he quipped.

“Good,” Draco said, disappearing completely behind the curtain again. “Then bugger off so I can wank in peace.”

Immediately, Harry’s imagination went into overdrive, supplying him with a long stream of images and filling in the silence with sounds that Harry himself had caused Draco to make. His knees buckled and he was glad he was already leaning against the wall because the extra support was suddenly a necessity.

Merlin, he had it bad.

“You don’t want any help?” he asked faintly.

“What?”

Harry cleared his throat. “Nothing. I was just – nothing. Never mind. I’ll leave you alone.” He turned and forced his feet to carry him to the door.

“Hey, Potter?” Draco said, poking his head through the shower curtain again.

Harry spun back around so quickly he nearly banged into the wall. “Yeah?” he asked, eagerly and just a touch breathlessly, as well, which just made Draco look all the more amused and fuck, how embarrassing could he get? This was Malfoy, there was no need to suddenly be completely pathetic around him.

“You’re welcome, you tosser,” Draco said, with a grin. “Now get out of here before you hurt yourself.”

Harry did as told, and promptly ran into Ron – who had finally turned back to normal, thank goodness – in the hallway.

Ron blinked at him.

“Er – hi,” Harry said, and then instantly wanted to smack his face his into a wall.

“Er, hi,” Ron shot right back at him, in a teasing tone. “I was just heading down to get something to drink for me and Hermione.” He glanced over Harry’s shoulder and then raised an eyebrow. “Déjà vu,” he said, grinning a bit. “Showering together again, eh?”

Harry scowled. “No,” he said, and then scuffed the toe of his shoe against the ground and looked sheepish. “Mostly because I’m an idiot,” he admitted. He rubbed at the back of his neck, watching Ron carefully for signs of an impending explosion.

But Ron just clapped him on the shoulder in a good-natured sort of way. “I’d try to help you out, mate, but I don’t even know how I managed to get my own love life sorted.” Harry’s face flamed up again at the term love life, and he shoved his hands deep into his pockets to keep from fidgeting. Ron continued, “Also, I don’t have a clue how to deal with blokes. Reckon I’d just botch things up even more.”

“So,” Harry hedged. “You know, then.”

Ron barked out a laugh. “Well, yeah. You’re both kind of obvious. Especially that one.” He jerked a thumb in the direction of the bathroom. “Pining for you all over the place like he does.”

Harry frowned. “He hasn’t been pining.”

“You say that because you’ve been stubbornly looking the other way,” Ron said. “Guess you didn’t notice.”

“…This is so pathetic,” Harry grumbled. He slumped back against the wall. “I don’t even know how I ended up here.” Ron didn’t say anything; he only shrugged. Harry chewed on his bottom lip for a moment. “I should have told you.”

“Right you should have.”

“I just – I didn’t know–”

“I know.”

Harry hesitated. “Did he…?”

“Yep.”

Everything?”

“Pretty sure.” Ron smirked. “Unless you’ve done anything since–”

“No,” Harry cut in hastily. “No, no. Nothing.”

Ron nodded, before his brow furrowed slightly. “I’m not mad about Ginny, you know.”

Harry blinked. “Really?”

“Nah. If you were meant to be, you’d have worked it out. At least you’re not dragging her along,” Ron said. “Besides…it was a bit weird. Knowing you two – and she’s my sister.” Ron blanched slightly. “I mean, not that I want to hear anything about you and Malfoy, either, mind you,” he added quickly. “But given the choice…”

Harry chuckled. “Yeah, I get it.” He frowned suddenly. “Did you really save him from Greyback?”

“Well, he might’ve come up with something on his own,” Ron said, though he didn’t look much like he believed it. “But yeah. Greyback and another Death Eater were fighting him at the same time.” He leaned a shoulder against the wall beside Harry, crossing his arms. “I was glad for the opportunity, to be honest. Been wanting to get a piece of that arsehole ever since last year.”

“I’m sure Bill will feel very avenged,” Harry said, giving Ron a slight grin.

Ron rolled his eyes, but he looked pleased. “Yeah, yeah.”

“Seriously, though,” Harry said, sobering up and meeting Ron’s gaze. “You did really good today.”

“Ah – it was nothing,” Ron said, but he looked proud of himself. Then he snorted. “Malfoy thought I was you,” he said. “When I came charging in. I swear he was going to kiss me after.”

“…He didn’t, right?” Harry said, his eyes narrowing.

Ron laughed. “Merlin, no,” he said. “But hell if I’m going to let him forget about it anytime soon. Anyway, I’m off. Hermione’s waiting.” He waggled his eyebrows, which frankly made him look a bit ridiculous. Harry just shook his head, thoroughly amused. “Now that I’m not you anymore, she can actually show me just how happy she is I made it back alright. Cheers!” He ambled off down the hallway to the stairs, waving once at Harry over his shoulder.

Harry remained where he was for a moment, listening to the oddly soothing sound of the shower running.

He wondered what the next step was from here.

* * *

Christmas passed uneventfully for the most part. They didn’t have a lot of privacy in the few days leading up to it, though, which meant that they didn’t have much of a chance to discuss what had happened in Little Hangleton. Instead, they were put to work by Mrs. Weasley, who was more than thrilled to see them venturing out into the rest of the house after spending the last month locked away behind closed doors. She had them decorating Grimmauld Place for the holiday, which Harry was happy to do because it was the sort of mindless activity that allowed him to mull over other things in his head at the same time.

He was sort of guiltily relieved to have this bit of a break, actually. It wouldn’t last long, he knew, and they couldn’t be sure Voldemort would lie low just because it was Christmastime, but Harry was pretty sure he knew what Voldemort’s next course of action was going to be anyway.

“He has a map of Hogwarts,” he confided to Hermione in a low voice, as they strung garland around the ceiling of the dining room. It was one of the few moments he’d managed to grab alone with someone who knew what was going on. “Or he has Wormtail working on one, at least.”

Hermione frowned a little. “Like the Marauder’s Map, you mean?”

Harry nodded. “I think that’s what it’s supposed to be. But I doubt Wormtail can make it on his own – he had my dad, Sirius, and Remus last time.”

“He’s planning on infiltrating Hogwarts, then,” Hermione said. “Why? He already has the Ministry.”

“Well…Hogwarts is the only place he ever considered home,” Harry said slowly. “And we just destroyed one of his bases of operation – according to Malfoy, the other is the manor. But neither of those are his.”

“Hogwarts is where the majority of our magical learning happens, though,” Hermione said. “If he takes that, then where does he expect his future followers to get an education?”

“Oh, I’m sure he’d welcome all Purebloods with open arms.”

“And likely teach them himself.” Hermione sounded disgusted. “I suppose he believes that way he can also control who gets in.” She was quiet for a moment as she flicked her wand, directing several wreaths to hang themselves on one of the walls. “You haven’t told the others yet?”

“No…” Harry poked absently at a red ribbon, trying to get it to twist into a bow. “I’m going to let Neville know. And–”

“Professor McGonagall.”

“Yeah, definitely.”

“And the Order.”

“…I guess – we don’t know when he’s going to make a move, though. I don’t want to get everyone all worked up too far in advance, especially not when they have the Ministry to worry about.” Harry sighed, dragging a hand through his hair. “And there’s no sense having a giant battle when Voldemort can’t even be defeated yet.”

Hermione hummed noncommittally. “At least tell Neville about all of the secret passageways, then.”

“I was actually thinking of sending him the map,” Harry admitted. “I just – don’t really want to part with it.”

“He’d take care of it.”

“I know.”

“Harry…you don’t think he’ll do anything over the break, do you?” Hermione asked uncertainly. “It seems like the most ideal time. There won’t be many people in the castle right now.”

“I don’t think so,” Harry replied. “The map wasn’t anywhere near finished. And – well. He might have other…priorities, at the moment.”

Hermione shot him a quick, worried look, but she didn’t say anything. Harry knew she understood what he meant. Draco and Ron had briefly told them about Voldemort implying he would be able to make more Horcruxes, but frankly that was one chilling thought that Harry just did not want to think about. He wondered if he’d be able to feel it if Voldemort went through with it, since he seemed to be able to feel every other bloody thing he did.

Dumbledore had told him that it was extremely difficult to make a Horcrux, though. Maybe, hopefully, Voldemort would be too weak to properly manage it. How many pieces could a soul be torn into, anyway?

The front door opened and a myriad of voices talking at the same time interrupted their sudden silence. Ron came bounding into the room, his cheeks red from the cold wind despite the fact that he was bundled up in a coat, scarf, and mittens.

“Hey all,” he greeted, swooping down to kiss Hermione on the cheek. “We got a tree. Didn’t have any problems, either. Where’s Malfoy?”

“Your mum roped him into cookie baking,” Harry said. “His own fault, mind, for refusing to help with the decorations.”

Ron snorted. “She feels bad for him, I think,” he said, as he unwound the scarf from around his neck. “Since he’s separated from his family and all that for Christmas. Reckon he’s the new lost boy around here.” He grinned. “Sorry, mate, you’ve been replaced.”

“Good,” Harry said. “Six years of your mum stuffing me to the brim with food because I’m too skinny was more than enough, thanks.”

“Didn’t see you complaining at the time,” Ron said, sounding amused.

Harry smirked. “Well of course not, your mum’s a brilliant cook.”

Ron barked out a laugh, and then let it trail off. “And Ginny?” he asked, after a moment. Harry shrugged, suddenly focused on tying another ribbon into a shoddy looking bow.

“Still avoiding all of us,” Hermione answered for him. “I’m going to try to talk to her tonight.”

Harry let out a loud sigh. “I’m sorry,” he said miserably. “I didn’t mean for her to get hurt in all this – that’s why I broke up with her in the first place. I didn’t want her to have to get involved. I thought it’d be safer this way.”

“Not all girls like to be protected,” Hermione said softly. “I know you meant well, but Ginny would have been fine.”

“…I know,” Harry said. “I know. But. I didn’t want – having her around would have been a distraction, and I didn’t think I could afford that.”

“He said, as he concentrates instead on the most dangerous task of hanging Christmas holly,” Ron commented dryly, and Harry glowered at him.

“How was I supposed to know we’d end up sharing a house with your parents?” he groused.

“Not to mention,” Hermione started to say, with a shrewd little smile, “that you’ve been quite preoccupied with Draco, as well.”

Harry flushed. “That is a recent thing, thank you,” he said in a clipped tone.

Ron and Hermione gave each other knowing looks. “It’s not all that recent,” she said.

“Have you worked it out with him yet?” Ron asked. “Not that I want details. But, you know, he seemed in a better mood. After the shower thing.”

“There wasn’t a shower thing!” Harry exclaimed, his cheeks turning an even darker red. “That was just – talking, for Merlin’s sake.”

Ron rolled his eyes and leaned in close to Hermione. “He’s such a liar; I’ve caught him coming out of the bathroom with Malfoy twice now.”

Hermione giggled, and Harry fumbled with his wand as he gave Ron an exasperated look. “Just. Talking,” he bit out, waving his wand jerkily to hang another wreath next to Hermione’s. The wreath shot up from its place on the table and zipped across the room so quickly that Ron had to duck to avoid being smacked in the face by it, which just made Hermione laugh even harder.

“Well, when are you going to come clean with him, Harry?” she asked, after she recovered.

“Seriously, mate, you have to make a move at some point.”

Harry huffed, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring up the ceiling. “I will, alright? I’m just – trying to figure out how.”

“It’s not all that complicated,” Ron said.

“Oh, like you would know,” Harry grumbled. “You don’t even know how you and Hermione got together.”

“Oh really,” Hermione said, propping her hands on her hips and raising her eyebrows at Ron, who suddenly looked very sheepish.

Lucky for Ron, however, his dad entered the room before he had to offer up any sort of bumbling explanation.

“You lot sound like you’re having too much fun in here,” Mr. Weasley said cheerfully, as he peeled off his gloves.

“Yeah!” Ron said loudly, sidestepping around Hermione, who by this point looked more amused than anything. “Just getting into the – holiday spirit! And all. You know how it is.”

Mr. Weasley clapped him on the shoulder. “Your brothers and I got the tree up in the sitting room,” he said. “Come and have a look!”

They followed him to the other room, where Fred and George were busy unpacking boxes and boxes of yet more decorations. Harry thought he saw the patented Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes insignia on the side of some of the boxes, and he wondered if he should be worried.

“Oh, it’s gorgeous!” Hermione said, clasping her hands in front of her. “And so – big.”

“Of course,” Fred said, as he straightened up and put his hands on his waist, looking up at the tree. “One crazy old dark lord isn’t any reason to slack off during the holidays.”

“Here, Fred, don’t think we need this box,” George said, lightly kicking the one in question toward his brother. “Not if it’s only going to be family here.”

“It’s not all family,” Fred said. “Malfoy’s not family.”

George snorted. “And I don’t particularly want to snog him; do you?”

“Nah, I’m not really in the habit of kissing ferrets.”

“What is it?” Ron asked, shooting the box a curious look.

“Mistletoe,” George replied.

“Of a sort,” said Fred. “One of our new products this year. It’s selling like mad!”

“You’ve done something with mistletoe?” Ron asked. He took a wary step back. “No, definitely put that one away.”

George smirked. “What’s wrong, worried you’d get caught under it?”

“Worried what you did to it, more like,” Ron shot back. “And I don’t need mistletoe to snog my girlfriend.” He pointedly wrapped an arm around Hermione’s waist.

“Oh ho!” Fred said, grinning brightly and propping an arm on George’s shoulder so he could lean against him. “Look at you! He’s growing up right before our eyes, Georgie.”

“Reckon he’ll be a man in no time,” George said. He raised his eyebrows in an unmistakably suggestive way, and Ron scowled at him.

“If you’re going to take bets on when that will happen, then you’ve already lost,” Draco said, as he walked into the room carrying a plate of cookies.

Ron’s eyes went wide and he made a panicked shushing sound, accompanied by a quick slicing gesture of his hand. Hermione squeaked out, “Draco!” and went pink as she darted a look around the room.

Draco lifted a cookie to his mouth. “What?” he asked innocently, as Fred and George caught on and suddenly howled with laughter. Draco held out for a moment longer, but then his face broke into an amused smirk. “Don’t worry,” he said to Ron, who had his face buried in his hands. “Your dad’s in the kitchen.”

“That’s not what I was worried about,” Ron grumbled. Fred and George swarmed him, Fred unceremoniously sliding between him and Hermione so he could throw an arm around Ron’s shoulder.

“Ron!” he cried. “You should have told us!”

“We would have gotten you a different Christmas present!” George said.

“Something you could have put to better use,” Fred added.

“We have a new line of handcuffs out–”

“They’re easily disguised as bracelets, in case anyone asks.”

“You know, like mum for example.”

Harry snickered at the look on Ron’s face. Hermione just pressed her hands to her cheeks and muttered, “Oh my God.”

Draco offered them the plate. “Cookie?”

Hermione merely glared at him, but Harry took one. “These are the ones you made?”

“Yes,” Draco said. “And they’re delicious.” He gave Harry a look, as though daring him to say otherwise.

Harry rolled his eyes and didn’t comment as he bit into the cookie, but as he looked around the room – at Fred and George still teasing Ron, at Hermione as she huffed and apparently decided to just ignore everyone and start decorating the tree, then to Draco who seemed far too pleased with himself – Harry thought it tasted perfect.

* * *


part 2





You can also read it at Skyehawke.

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