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When he was a kid, Harry had never liked his birthday.

Until he turned seventeen, Harry’s birthdays were a day like any other – a day spent alone in his room, ignored by the Dursleys. More than once, Harry had forgotten his birthday altogether, only to have the disconcerting realisation at some point in early August that he’d aged another year without noticing.

Consequently, when he’d started Hogwarts, Harry had been amazed by Christmas. The idea of a day where he could eat food, open presents and spend time with friends had been nothing short of brilliant. And though the Dursleys continued to send him rubbish like tissues and toothpicks, it didn’t bother Harry nearly as much when he didn’t have to see them sneer at him over a pile of Dudley’s new toys.

By the ripe old age of twenty-nine, things had changed. Harry no longer disliked his birthdays; on July 31st, his friends piled into his house, bringing food and booze and laughter. They’d stay up late drinking and talking and making sure Harry was enjoying himself.

No, these days, Harry thought his birthdays were quite nice.

But he fucking despised Christmas.


“Nearly ready to go?”

Harry resolutely didn’t look up from his report.

“Potter.” The sound of Draco’s snapping fingers dragged Harry’s attention from the parchment. “Are you listening? I said, are you nearly ready to go?”

“Go?” Harry asked, feigning confusion. “Go where?”

Draco gave him a look that said he knew Harry was being an idiot on purpose but he wasn’t entirely sure why. “I’m positive it hasn’t escaped your notice that it’s the Friday before Christmas,” he said, sniffing. “Why have you chosen this moment to take an interest in paperwork when I have to bribe you with increasingly ridiculous incentives to get you to even glance at it the rest of the year?”

Harry avoided Draco’s gaze. “This one’s important.”

“Oh no, is it?” Draco asked in mock-seriousness. “What case is it about?”

“Erm.” Harry scanned the page, trying to pick out something relevant. “The … er … It’s a new one. Just come through. We might have to stay late tonight.”

“Fascinating,” Draco said. “I’d love to see where you’re going with this, but unfortunately I can’t pretend I don’t know that’s a report on the centaur territory dispute that you should have filed three weeks ago.” He smirked and wrapped his moss-green scarf around his long, pale neck, pulling his ponytail out of the back with a practised flick of the wrist that Harry had long since memorised. “Incidentally, you can bin it; I did write that up for you, even though I said I wouldn’t, so that’s another one you owe me.” He drew his wand and pointed it at the blackboard that hung on the wall of their office. A number two rubbed itself out and a number three took its place. The board now read:

Favours Potter owes Draco: 23.

Favours Draco owes Potter: 4.

Harry winced at the update. “Another one? Can’t my four cancel out some of yours? So I only owe you nineteen?”

“Of course,” Draco said, eyes glittering. “If there’s nothing else you’d rather have me do for you?”

Harry’s breath caught. Draco did that a lot – said things that were just on the edge of flirtatious. Harry could never tell whether it was just his personality, or whether he knew – whether he was teasing Harry on purpose–

Harry shook his head. “Fine, never mind,” he said. “But in the New Year, I’m going to think up something awful for you to do, and then you’ll be sorry.”

“I can’t wait,” Draco said with relish. “Which brings us back to my original question: Potter, it’s six o’clock on Friday December 22nd. I’m leaving this godforsaken place and not coming back until January. Are you coming or not? I want to wish Madam Tamsworth a merry Christmas on the way out, see if I can’t get one more of her mince pies. You know how I like her mince pies.”

Harry knew. Every December for the last three years, Draco had gone on and on about the glory of Madam Tamsworth’s mince pies and the incredible injustice it was that she wouldn’t give him any unless Harry was there to smile a half-arsed Saviour Smile – even though Harry didn’t even like mince pies. (“And don’t get me started on the outrage of that! How can you not like mince pies? Especially not the sacred ambrosia that comes from Madam Tamsworth’s incredible kitchen. Lord, the things I would do for her pastry.”) Harry had found himself several times in the embarrassing position of feeling jealous of a festive baked good.

Unable to think of another excuse, Harry grudgingly tidied his desk, taking as much time as he dared.

It wasn’t that he was ever alone at Christmas, as he had been for his childhood birthdays. On the contrary, every year he Apparated to the Burrow and submerged himself in the warmth of the Weasley family. Over the course of the day, others stopped by: Andromeda Tonks and Teddy Lupin (his hair a bright, excited orange) usually popped in for a cup of tea at around eleven o’clock. Hagrid and Madame Maxime generally poked their heads through the back door just after lunch, which prompted everyone to pour outside with grins and mugs of hot chocolate. The last few years, Luna and Xenophilius Lovegood had appeared as it was getting dark, both of them seeming to have wandered over by accident, but they were welcomed quite warmly (though Mrs Weasley hadn’t forgiven Xenophilius for trying to turn Harry, Ron and Hermione over to the Death Eaters quite as readily as Harry himself had).

But no matter how many friends and family members with whom Harry exchanged presents, hugs and laughter over the Christmas holidays, he couldn’t help but resent the time away from work.

It wasn’t that he was a workaholic. It wasn’t that he missed the excitement, or the early mornings, or the Auror Headquarters tea that was somehow weak and tasteless no matter how long you brewed it.

No, the thing Harry disliked about Christmas wasn’t any of that.

It was that being away from work meant being away from–

“It’s five past six now,” Draco pointed out as Harry lined up the last of the paperclips inside his desk drawer.

God, had he only managed to waste five minutes? Harry gazed at his desk in despair. It was the tidiest it had been all year. “I suppose we should go then,” he said unhappily.

Draco snorted. He unhooked Harry’s cloak from the rack and held it out. “Madam Tamsworth isn’t that bad. And anyway, her mince pies make up for the, you know” – he waved a careless hand – “general over-effusiveness. If you’d just try one.”

“I’ve tried one,” Harry said, shrugging into his cloak. “It was okay.”

Draco held a hand to his heart, his mouth falling open in outrage. Harry allowed himself half a second to look at the parted lips, the glimpse of pink tongue, then focused on the blackboard. He’d be hearing If there’s nothing else you’d rather have me do for you? in his dreams for days.

“I’m going to have to start taking you to dinner, refine your palate,” Draco said sternly. A touch to Harry’s neck made him jump and look back, but it was just Draco absently fixing his collar. Harry wondered if Draco could feel the way Harry’s pulse sped up at the contact. “You can’t go on like this. It’s embarrassing. First week back after Christmas, we’re doing the tasting menu at Lakewend’s.”

I’d like that, Harry wanted to say. I’d do anything to spend more time with you. I’m going to miss you so much.

Instead, he said, “I don’t think they’d even let me into Lakewend’s. Don’t you need about two hundred Galleons to even make a reservation?”

Draco tutted. “Don’t pretend you’re not filthy rich, Potter. It’s unbecoming.” He smoothed Harry’s collar again, his fingers lingering at the clasp at the base of Harry’s throat. Harry resisted the urge to swallow. “A new set of robes wouldn’t hurt, though.”

“Maybe Mrs Weasley will have made me some for Christmas,” Harry said, attempting a grin, fully aware of how Draco felt about Harry’s collection of Weasley knitwear.

But instead of shuddering dramatically, as Harry had expected, Draco straightened and snapped his fingers.

“That reminds me,” he said. “I have a present for you.”

“You – what?”

“A present, Potter. A Christmas present.”

“But–” They’d never exchanged presents before. Harry had nearly bought Draco about twenty different things over the last month but had stopped himself – presents weren’t something they did, he didn’t want to make it weird. But Draco had got him something?

“I haven’t wrapped it yet,” Draco continued. “So you’ll have to come and collect it from my house. Tomorrow?”

“I…” It was absurd, the dizzying relief that came from knowing he’d see Draco again before the New Year.

“No? You don’t want it?”

“No! I mean, yes – I can come over tomorrow. Sure, of course. No problem. What time?”

“Hmm.” Draco looked at him consideringly. “Six o’clock? You could stay a while, maybe.”

“Yeah.” Harry cleared his throat, fighting a smile. “Yeah, okay. Six o’clock works. That would be nice.”

“I hope so.” There was a wicked glint in Draco’s eye that made Harry’s insides squirm. “Don’t be late.”


Harry shook the soot from his hair. The flames behind him flickered from green to gold, casting warm, merry light over the empty parlour.

“Draco?”

A large Christmas tree stood in the corner of the room. It was decorated sparsely but handsomely, with delicate silver ornaments that looked like they would shatter if Harry so much as touched one. Carefully, Harry put his gift amongst the pile of presents that were arranged beneath it.

He hadn’t been able to face going back into Diagon Alley two days before Christmas to get any of the things he’d previously been tempted by, but he hoped Draco would be happy with the gift anyway: two dozen mince pies under a Stasis Charm, fresh this morning from Madam Tamsworth’s kitchen. She had been overjoyed to receive Harry’s owl, and had refused his offer of Galleons, waving him away with a chuckle and an, “Oh, you’ll pay me back one day, I’m sure!” Harry would have preferred it if she had accepted the gold; the number of favours he owed people was starting to make him nervous.

“Draco?” Harry called again.

The reply was muffled, distant. “Potter?”

Harry went into the hallway, shivering as he left the warmth of the fire. “Yeah, it’s me. Where are you?”

“Bedroom,” came the faint response. “Upstairs, first door on the left.”

“Bedroom?” Harry repeated to himself, baffled. It was one thing for Draco to have got him a gift that he couldn’t have brought into work – it was quite another for it to be something he couldn’t even bring downstairs. Given what had prompted Draco’s memory yesterday, Harry had assumed he was to receive some embarrassingly posh robes, suitable for a snobby dinner at Lakewend’s. But maybe he was thinking too small. Maybe Draco was going to offload an entire wardrobe onto him.

Grimacing, Harry took his time making his way to the staircase. He had been to Draco’s house a few times, but had never managed to have a good look around. He examined the stack of old newspapers on the sideboard, ran his finger over the edge of an ornate-framed mirror, and came to a halt beside the coat stand. He recognised every cloak, hat and scarf that hung from it.

Without letting himself think about it, Harry reached out and ran Draco’s favourite moss-green scarf through his fingers. It was so soft, some kind of fancy posh material that felt like it had been charmed to kiss your skin rather than keep it warm. Maybe it had. With a quick look over his shoulder, Harry lifted the end of the scarf to his face, rubbing it against his cheek and inhaling deeply, his eyes falling closed.

It smelled like him. Like tea and pine and potions.

“Potter?”

Harry dropped the scarf as if it had burned him. “Yeah – coming,” he said. “First door on the left?”

“The one with the snake-head doorknob.”

“Of course,” Harry muttered, casting a last guilty glance at the coat stand. He trudged upstairs.

The door with the snake-head doorknob was slightly ajar. Harry took a deep breath, plastered an “I definitely haven’t just been nuzzling your clothes” smile onto his face, and pushed it open.

“I can’t wait to see what was worth me traipsing all the way through your hou…” He froze.

Draco shot him a sly grin. “I hope you don’t mind? It’s just – I’m a little tied up.”

Harry didn’t move. Draco wasn’t lying: he was tied up. Literally, gloriously, devastatingly tied up. And he was naked. Naked and hard, on his knees on a four-poster bed with ribbons wrapped around the whole length of him, circling his neck, winding down his arms, tying his wrists behind his back, twisting down each thigh, binding his ankles, and, worst of all, looping around the base of his erection, which stood hard and proud from a neat bow of green and silver.

Harry was vaguely aware of a clock ticking somewhere on his left. A log cracked in the fireplace.

Draco tilted his head, his eyes dancing. “Happy Christmas,” he said.

The words were like a hex. The reality of what he was seeing hit, and Harry’s face flamed. Horrified, he wrenched his eyes from Draco and flung himself back out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

He slumped against it, heart pounding. “Oh my god,” he said loudly. “Fuck, I’m sorry, I thought you – Why would you invite me in?!” He thunked his head back against the door. He had been so obvious. He should have taken one look at Draco and laughed, thrown some robes at him and left. Instead he’d stared, rooted to the spot, probably drooling. He pressed his hands to his cheeks, trying to cool them. “Where’s this present, then? Under the tree? Tell me which one, I can just pick it up and go. Leave you to – you know.”

The silence stretched. Harry was just about to open his mouth (though he had no idea what he would have said) when Draco spoke.

“This is the present,” he said. His voice sounded strange, even through the wood of the door. Harry would almost say he sounded hesitant, but Draco hadn’t been hesitant around Harry since their first awkward month as partners, three years ago. It had been self-assured jibes and haughty smirks ever since.

Harry knew how to handle Draco’s jibes and smirks. He knew how to handle them in the office – with an eye-roll or a sarcastic retort – and he knew how to handle them when he remembered them later, in the privacy of his bedroom – his hand clenched around his cock, his face screwed up in pleasure. But he did not know how to handle a Draco who was hesitant. A Draco who wasn’t making sense.

“You mean … the bed?” he tried. Perhaps Draco would have found it funny to gift Harry a bed that he’d just had a festive wank on. Maybe he just hadn’t finished in time, maybe he expected Harry to linger more on his journey upstairs. Or, shit, maybe he had someone else here. Maybe–

“No, not the bed, you idiot.”

The words hung heavy.

"Then what?”

Harry’s head was still resting against the door, so he heard Draco’s low curse. He wasn’t sure he was supposed to.

“Me. I’m the present.”

“You?” Harry swallowed, trying to moisten his dry mouth. “What do you mean? Do you need … help?”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” Harry was definitely supposed to hear that time. “Will you just get back in here?” There was a beat. “Unless you don’t want to?”

It was the catch in Draco’s voice, more than his words, that made Harry straighten and open the door. He peered around the wood, one hand gripping the snake-head doorknob.

The scene inside the room hadn’t changed much – the same grand fireplace, the same four-poster with rich, dark bedding. But now, a flush painted Draco’s cheeks and spilled down his neck, across his chest. His cock had drooped a bit, but it was still half-hard, jutting outwards from that green-and-silver bow. The fangs of the snake-head doorknob dug into the flesh of Harry’s palm.

You’re the present?” he croaked.

Draco’s smile was tense. He didn’t quite meet Harry’s eyes. “Surprise.”

Harry didn’t know whether it was ruder to stare or to look away, but it was a moot point anyway; he couldn’t stop his eyes from trailing up and down Draco’s body: the fall of his hair across his bare shoulders, the criss-cross of ribbons restraining his arms, the softness of his bare feet, toes digging nervously into the bedspread.

“I don’t get it.” Harry swallowed against the break in his voice. “What do you want me to … do? With you?”

At this, Draco’s gaze met his. Harry was once again pinned, frozen to the spot.

“Whatever you want to,” Draco said lowly. “If that’s Flooing home and requesting another partner and never speaking of this again…” He shrugged one shoulder – with some difficulty, because he was tied up. And naked. He was tied up and naked. “But if not … you can do whatever you want with me. To me. I want you to.”

Harry must be dreaming. It was the only explanation. Someone must have slipped him some kind of – Fantasy Potion. Or perhaps he’d been hit with a Hallucination Hex. Because this couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be. He’d wanted Draco for years. This couldn’t be happening.

Draco cleared his throat. “Either way,” he said, straightening, armouring himself in Malfoy bravado like Harry had watched him do hundreds of times before. “Would you mind closing the door? You’re letting in a draft.” He gave an exaggerated shiver.

Harry stepped into the bedroom and closed the door.

Draco watched him, eyes wary.

The ticking of the clock was loud in the silence of the room.

Harry cast around for something to say to clarify the situation, but his thoughts were racing too fast to pick out anything coherent. Instead, he nodded at the ribbons. “Slytherin colours?”

Draco looked down at himself. “Do you like them? I thought silver and green would be funny. But they’re colour-changing, so if you’d rather something different…”

Harry didn’t say anything, and Draco took his silence as distaste. He nodded and closed his eyes. As Harry watched, still wordless, still confused, the green ribbons changed colour, bright crimson bleeding out from the flush that lingered on Draco’s chest, fingers of gold licking over the silver.

When Draco opened his eyes, he was wrapped in thin, winding Gryffindor stripes. He looked at Harry hopefully. “Better?”

“No.” Truthfully, the red made the soft flush of his skin look splotchy. The gold diminished the pearly shine of his hair. He was still one of the most captivating sights Harry had ever seen.

“Well, what would you prefer?” There was a faint note of hysteria in Draco’s voice. Harry realised he wasn’t acting very grateful for his present.

He stepped towards the bed.

“For one of them, the colour of the sea when we fought that counterfeit cauldron syndicate on the cliffs in Shetland.” Harry had been distracted all the way through that duel; the stormy grey-blue of the waves crashing below them had been the exact shade of Draco’s eyes.

“For the other, the colour of the robes you wore to the Victory Ball after we broke up the Pixie Powder ring. The ones with the fancy buttons.” That had been the first night Harry had realised how much Draco came alive under positive attention. His pinched face had opened, blossomed like a flower at the first taste of sun. His sneers had brightened into delighted laughter. His snarky jibes had come out as affectionate teases. Harry’s chest had ached all night.

Draco’s stormy-sea eyes met his. “Those robes had perfectly standard buttons, you uncultured swine.” He didn’t look away. Neither did Harry. In Harry’s peripheral vision, blue-grey dripped over red; shimmering charcoal swallowed gold. Harry reached out and traced a dazed finger over the twining ribbons that circled Draco’s neck like a collar.

“Better now?”

Draco’s murmur hummed against Harry’s fingertips. Harry let his hand fall to his side.

“Look,” he said, exhaling shakily. “You’re – I mean, I’m going to be thinking about this forever, probably, and I really appreciate all the trouble you’ve gone to – And it’s not that I don’t want to, because I do, god, but…”

Draco looked at him through his eyelashes. Having him change the colour of the ribbons had been a mistake. He was unbelievably gorgeous. He was Harry’s favourite person, wrapped in Harry’s favourite colours. “But?”

Harry’s gut clenched. But clearly he hadn’t hidden his feelings particularly well if Draco had wrapped himself up as Harry’s Christmas present. He might as well get it all out there.

“Whatever it is you’re offering…” he said. “I couldn’t do it. Not like this. Not as a gimmick.”

Draco frowned. Out of respect, Harry kept his eyes from trailing down the taut lines of Draco’s body to his dick but, god, it was difficult.

“Because you don’t want me?”

“Because it would be the best thing to ever happen to me,” Harry said bluntly. “I couldn’t go back to not having you.” He grimaced. “I understand if this changes things. I tried not to let it get in the way of – Anyway. I’m sorry.”

Draco’s mouth got that twisted look that meant he was running through possibilities in his mind. Usually, a case-solving suggestion followed – the answer to a riddle that had been stumping them for weeks, an idea that led to a breakthrough, a lead that no one else had noticed. Harry would miss that look, if Draco didn’t want to work with him any more.

“Harry,” Draco said slowly. “You understand how Christmas presents work, don’t you?”

Harry attempted a smile. “Well, I thought I did until about ten minutes ago.”

Draco didn’t smile back. “They’re not Christmas loans,” he said. “You’re not supposed to return them after you’ve used them once. In fact, it’s considered rather rude if you do.”

Harry wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep up with this conversation even if they were both fully clothed and sitting across the office from one another. He certainly couldn’t keep up while he was standing in Draco’s bedroom with Draco naked and tied up and within touching distance.

“You don’t want me to … return you?”

“No.” Draco raised his chin. “I’m your Christmas present.”

“You keep saying that.” Harry’s voice came out hoarse. “I still don’t know what you mean.”

“Let me show you, then. Come closer.”

When they had first been assigned as partners, Harry had quickly learned that he couldn’t say no to Draco. It had surprised him at first, how Draco could tell him to do something in that imperious tone, and Harry would obey unthinkingly. Even when he’d still thought Draco was an arrogant dickhead, Draco could order Harry around, and Harry would always listen.

He’d done it in front of Ron once – Draco had demanded Harry fetch him a scroll of parchment while Ron was leaning against Harry’s desk, listening to Harry complain about Ginny’s latest Quidditch match. Harry had stood, crossed the room, rifled through Draco’s bag and handed over the scroll without pausing in his assessment of Valmai Morgan’s fumble of a simple Reverse Pass. Ron had stared, mouth open. Harry had stopped, confused, until Draco had said, “Thanks ever so, Potter,” with a wickedly sweet smile. Ron had grilled him about it for weeks.

Harry stepped closer. Kneeling on the bed as he was, Draco was half a head shorter than him. His face was tilted up, his eyes fixed on Harry.

“Kiss me,” he said, and it was that tone again – that imperious tone that Harry could never resist, even if it was a little quieter than usual, a little more strained around the edges.

“Draco,” Harry said, but his hands were already rising to tuck Draco’s hair behind his ear, to brush the back of his finger against the warm, pink skin of Draco’s cheek. Draco’s eyes slid closed. A throb went through Harry’s entire body. “Draco…”

“Harry.” Draco opened his eyes. His swollen pupils were surrounded by a thin rim of stormy blue-grey. “Kiss me.”

And, utterly powerless, Harry did.

It was like he had been handed one of the delicate silver baubles from the Christmas tree downstairs. Harry felt clumsy, sure that one wrong move would shatter this moment, would ruin everything. He slid his hand into Draco’s hair to hide the trembling of his fingers, and Draco made a low noise of approval. His lips parted under Harry’s. Harry’s knees went weak. He was lost.

Draco’s mouth was hot and soft, and he tasted faintly minty, like he’d recently brushed his teeth. The skin of his jaw was smooth – no rough stubble, not like Harry’s own face – and Harry had never felt anything so achingly perfect.

Harry soon found himself echoing Draco’s approving noises as they pressed closer, as their mouths learned each other, as their movements became jerkier, more urgent. Between the heat of the fire on his back and Draco on his front, Harry was getting uncomfortably warm, but the thought of pulling away to remove his robes sent a sharp pang through his chest. He didn’t want to stop. If he stopped, he might come to his senses. Stopping was an awful, awful idea.

“Mmm – Harry–”

“Yeah?” Harry scraped Draco’s hair back with both hands and kissed him deeply, drinking in his quick breaths, the sharp nips of his teeth.

“Don’t you – ah – Don’t you want to unwrap me?”

Harry’s world had narrowed so much to the hot sweetness of Draco’s mouth that it took a few seconds for the words to make sense. He pulled back, only to be confronted by Draco’s kiss-swollen lips and heavy-lidded eyes. Harry let out a whine and kissed him again, helplessly.

“You’re beautiful,” he murmured against Draco’s mouth, fingers tightening in Draco’s hair. “You’re so beautiful, all I want to do is look at you. And kiss you. God, I love kissing you.”

“Harry–” Draco’s voice cracked. “Harry, please – god – touch me.”

“Never wanna stop touching you,” Harry assured him mindlessly, dragging his mouth over Draco’s jaw to his neck, starting at the sensation of silk against his lips. He’d quite forgotten about the ribbons.

It hit him, suddenly, that Draco was naked. All of Harry’s fantasies unrolled in his head, painfully close to being attainable. Harry didn’t stop lavishing attention on Draco’s neck – how could he, when Draco was groaning like that? – but he let his hand fall from Draco’s hair to his shoulder, finding the edge of ribbon under his fingers and unseeingly following its path as it circled Draco’s sternum, his ribs, his stomach…

“Oh my god,” Draco said raggedly. “Please–”

Harry slid his thumb into the gap between a ribbon and the dip of Draco’s hipbone. “Can I…?” He moved his hand lower. His chest was a knot of anticipation.

“I think I might die if you don’t.” Draco nudged Harry’s head with his chin, bumping a kiss to Harry’s hair. “Please – anything – Oh, god.”

Draco swayed as Harry wrapped a hand around his cock, and Harry instinctively steadied him, his free arm settling at Draco’s lower back, just above the swell of his arse. Fuck, but he was so hot and so hard in Harry’s fist, and a tremor went through his whole body when Harry tightened his grip. Pressed against him as he was, Harry could feel Draco’s every shudder, every twitch, and he couldn’t suppress a noise of amazement. He’d never thought – never even considered that one day he’d be able to–

“You’re such a good kisser,” Draco breathed, pushing himself into Harry’s fist. “Look what you did to me.”

With a low moan, Harry finally let himself look. He lifted his head and allowed his gaze to drag down Draco’s body, the flush that flared over his chest, the lattice of blue and charcoal over his smooth skin, and, gloriously, his cock, hard and flushed and mouth-watering, thrusting slowly in and out of Harry’s hand.

“Fuck.” Harry tightened his grip, twisting his wrist at the top of each stroke so the leaking head dragged against his palm. Draco shuddered again and pressed his forehead against Harry’s cheek.

“This doesn’t feel real,” Harry murmured, still mesmerised by the movement of Draco’s cock in his fist. In and out. Twist. In and out. Twist. “Tell me it’s real.”

“It’s real. I’ve – ah – I’ve wanted you for ages. Some days you’re all I think about.”

Harry stilled. “What?”

Draco lifted his head. His eyes took a second to focus. “What?”

“You don’t mean that.”

“What do you mean, I don’t mean it? Of course I do.” Draco frowned. “Surely you know. I flirt with you constantly. I asked you to dinner literally yesterday.”

“But that…” That was just how Draco was. It didn’t mean anything. “I thought you were joking.”

Draco’s gaze sharpened. He looked like the proper Draco again – clever, capable, baffled by the depths of Harry’s stupidity. “Harry,” he said. “I got naked and tied myself up and offered myself to you. I might enjoy a light-hearted tease every now and again, but my commitment to a joke would not stretch this far, I assure you.”

Something nervous inside of Harry poked its head out from where it had been hiding.

“So when you said you’re my Christmas present, and you don’t want me to return you…”

“I mean that I’m literally on my knees begging you to take me. In any way you’ll have me. For however long you’ll have me. It’s rather pathetic, really, but I’m trying not to think about it too hard.”

Harry, however, his hand loosely gripping Draco Malfoy’s erection, was thinking quite hard indeed. He was remembering every touch, every look, every wicked smirk. The way Draco’s hands had lingered as they smoothed the collar of Harry’s robes.

The nervous thing inside him emerged further. A timid warmth pooled in his stomach.

Hope, he realised. That’s what that strange feeling was. Hope.

“Draco,” he said. “Can I kiss you?”

Draco looked at him incredulously. “Yes. Obviously. I thought–”

But Harry didn’t find out what Draco thought, because Harry was kissing Draco desperately, fumbling with the fastening on his own robes. He needed to be closer to Draco, to feel him, to have as much of him as possible before he changed his mind and realised that he didn’t mean it – couldn’t mean it–

Harry flung off his robes and tore himself from Draco’s mouth to tug off his shirt and jeans. It felt good to be free from the stuffiness of his clothes, but it felt even better to climb onto the bed and pull Draco close, to feel the hot thrill of his skin and the hard line of his dick. Harry ground himself against it – his own dick was aching and desperate for attention, still trapped in his boxers (which were bright orange, the Chudley Cannons logo emblazoned across the arse).

“You’re going to have to take those off,” Draco said, his head tipped back so Harry could kiss down his throat again. His skin smelled like his scarf had – tea and pine and potions. Harry inhaled deeply, pressed open-mouthed kisses down Draco’s neck, bit at the juncture of his shoulder.

Fuck, Harry, that’s – I’m serious, get those horrid things off. You can’t make me think of Ron Weasley right now, it’s cruel.”

“Don’t think of him, then,” Harry said, grinning against the mark of his teeth on Draco’s skin. It was beginning to sink in that Draco might want him back, that Harry might actually have a chance. He was giddy with it. “Think of me.”

“Of course I – Oh god, yeah, do that again – ah–”

Harry obligingly sucked at Draco’s earlobe, nipping gently. “You were saying?” he murmured. “You’re thinking of Ron?”

“Not by choice,” Draco hissed.

“Can’t help the image of him coming to mind while you’re in the throes of passion? I get it. He’s a popular bloke.”

“You’re feeling more comfortable, I see.” Draco’s attempt at a sneer was shaky at best.

Harry’s giddiness bubbled up inside him. “Well, I recently got some good news.”

“Oh, yes?”

“Yeah. See, yesterday, I thought I wouldn’t see this person I really like until next year” – Harry dragged his mouth over the sharp line of Draco’s jaw – “but then he invited me over to his house to give me a Christmas present. So now” – he kissed the end of Draco’s pointy chin – “I’m beginning to wonder if he might like me too.” He ran his nose over the side of Draco’s face, pressed his lips to the very corner of Draco’s wonderful, clever mouth.

“Oh? Was it a good present, then?”

“The best,” Harry said, and kissed Draco again, hard and deep. It wasn’t long before they were both panting, their bodies pressed together, their cocks rubbing through the cotton of Harry’s underwear.

“Harry – Untie me – Let me touch you–”

“No,” Harry murmured.

“This is supposed to be your present – I want to make you feel good–”

“You’re already making me feel good.” Harry grabbed Draco’s arse and pulled him closer, grinding them together. They both groaned.

“I can’t believe you’re making me rub my dick against Chudley Cannons boxers,” Draco complained, making no attempt to stop.

“What team would you prefer, so I know for next time?” The pleasure of even saying the words “next time” made Harry’s breath catch. He hoped Draco would attribute it to the roll of their hips, the friction that sent sparks shooting over his skin. “I could get some vintage Wimbourne Wasp ones. You could have Ludo Bagman grinning up at you, if you’d rather.”

“Ah, he’s – not really my type.”

“Puddlemere, then. They’ve really leaned into the ‘Wood’ branding, I’ve heard. Oliver’s quite good-looking. Very intense.”

“You’re going to make me say it again, aren’t you?”

“I’m sort of hoping you will, yeah.”

Draco huffed. “It’s you I want to look at, you dickhead. Your stupid face. Not anyone else’s.”

Harry beamed, unable to help it. Draco made a show of rolling his eyes, but Harry knew his face so, so well – the tiny upward tick of the corner of his mouth betrayed him. Harry grabbed Draco’s jaw and dotted kisses over the pointed little quirk until the hidden hint of a smile crept over Draco’s whole mouth – then he was laughing, and Harry felt like he was flying.

“Bloody hell, stop,” Draco said through breathless snorts, trying to push Harry away with his shoulders, his head.

“But you look so delicious all tied up,” Harry said, feinting left so Draco ducked right then meeting him with another volley of pecks. “How am I supposed to resist kissing you all over?”

“It’s like being attacked by an overly affectionate pigeon,” Draco complained with an amused huff. “I never thought you’d be like this.”

Draco had thought about what Harry would be like in bed. Harry glowed. “What did you think I’d be like?”

Draco did another one of those awkward half-shrugs, straining against the ribbons. “I don’t know. More … fierce.”

He seemed to realise his mistake as soon as the words had left his mouth. He tried to take it back, wide-eyed – “But this is nice! I like this!” – but Harry stood, dragged the Chudley Cannons boxers off and shoved Draco hard in the chest. He fell awkwardly onto the bed with a squawk.

Harry straightened Draco’s legs with a sharp tug and crawled over him. “You want fierce?”

“I didn’t say–!”

Harry kissed him again – roughly, deeply, until Draco’s protests melted into those small, delicious noises of approval. Harry drank them up, swallowing each one greedily, then made his way south. He followed the lines of the ribbons with his tongue and raked his teeth over the peak of Draco’s nipple. Draco cursed, arched his back – and Harry licked further, further, ducking under Draco’s thigh until he lay on his stomach between Draco’s spread knees. Draco’s bound ankles rested on Harry’s back.

“Is this more what you had in mind? When you imagined me in bed with you?”

Harry.” Draco pushed his hips upwards, angling his dick towards Harry’s mouth. Harry wrapped his hand around it, marvelling at the resistance of it as he pulled it upright. Despite his complaints, Draco was still so, so hard.

“You have such a beautiful cock.” Harry stroked it slowly, watching as the foreskin revealed the glistening pink head, covered it, revealed it. He licked his lips. “How is it that everything about you is perfect?”

Draco whined. The humour had completely gone from his voice. “Harry, please–”

“How come the cleverest, funniest and best person I know also has the world’s most beautiful cock? It’s not fair.”

The world’s most beautiful cock jumped in Harry’s hand. Harry licked a slow stripe from the blue-and-charcoal bow at the base to the tip, where he sucked briefly then pulled back.

“Fuck, please–”

“You even taste good,” Harry told him, thoroughly enjoying the physical reaction Draco had to each compliment. He remembered the Pixie Powder Victory Ball, where Draco had bloomed under every word of praise. “You’re amazing. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.”

“Fuck – There’s one thing I wouldn’t mind you – Shit, fuck, ahh!

Harry grinned around his mouthful. He bobbed his head, and Draco threw his head back and moaned, long and loud. Harry was so turned on that he was stupid with it, but luckily, sucking cock didn’t require much intellect; he dedicated himself to the task, and it wasn’t long before Draco was writhing, tremors running through his ribbon-wrapped legs, curses and filth pouring from his mouth.

“Fuck, you’re so good at that, feels so good, feels – Fuck, Harry, please – God, you’re – You’re going to have to stop, you’re gonna make me come – You’re gonna make me come in your mouth, shit – Don’t wanna come yet, Harry, please–”

Harry lifted his head with a wet pop and loosened his aching jaw. The flush across Draco’s chest had deepened to a dull red, revealing thin white scars that slashed from his neck to his navel. His eyes were dark and wild, and his hair was loose and messy, spread like snow over the dark bedsheets.

“You’re the most gorgeous person I’ve ever seen,” Harry said honestly.

Draco’s dick gave a violent twitch in Harry’s hand. “Stop,” he begged. “I’m serious, you’re gonna make me come.”

Harry raised his eyebrows. “You think I could? Just from talking to you?”

“That’s not a challenge. Get that look off your face right now.”

Harry grinned. “What happened to me doing whatever I wanted?”

“Well, if what you want is to watch me come in about ten seconds, then…”

God, yes, Harry wanted to watch that. His hand tightened at the thought, and Draco hissed, bucking into the pressure.

“But I was hoping you’d want to fuck me,” he said quickly, a desperate edge to his voice. “I was hoping you’d let me come with you inside me.”

Harry had to close his eyes against a renewed wave of desire. Over the last few years, he had begun to suspect that Draco didn’t hate him. It had just been a suspicion – Draco had certainly never said, and had never stopped insulting him – but sometimes Harry would catch that little quirk at the corner of his mouth after Harry had made a joke, or Draco would instinctively Shield him during an attack, and Harry would think, Oh. Maybe he likes me. Maybe we’re friends.

On those rare occasions, Harry would allow himself to daydream. He’d fantasise that if Draco had gone from hating Harry to maybe-liking him, there was a chance that one day – at some distant point in the future – Draco might feel more. That he might, one day, feel towards Harry a fraction of the affection that Harry felt towards him. He might even – maybe, potentially, hypothetically – let Harry kiss him, perhaps in the boozy haze of after-work drinks, or on a sleepy stakeout, or after they’d solved a case, the two of them drawn together by the thrill of victory.

Of course, Harry had also fantasised plenty about fucking Draco, about having him naked and hard and begging. But there had never been any part of him that believed that could actually happen.

And yet.

“Harry? Don’t – Don’t you want to?”

Harry opened his eyes. Draco was watching him carefully. His cock was insistently hard in Harry’s loose grip.

Harry lunged upwards and kissed him. He was stretched over the length of Draco, pressing down on him – Draco’s arms, still trapped under him, couldn’t have been comfortable, but he didn’t complain. Rather, he strained upwards with a whine, with little hitched breaths, with inviting rolls of his hips. Harry couldn’t stop himself from thrusting, chasing the addictive thrill of hot skin sliding against hot skin.

“God,” Harry said between kisses. “Yes. Of course I want to. God. Please. Please.”

“Ah – Then you’re going to have to stop doing that – You feel too good–”

“Can’t. Can’t stop. Fuck, Draco.” The movement of his hips was instinctive. Uncontrollable.

“Harry, please.” Draco broke the kiss and threw his head back. “Oh my god, feels so good – I’m gonna come – Stop – You have to stop. Harry.”

With a monumental effort, Harry lifted himself onto his knees, separating their bodies. He rested his forehead on Draco’s heaving chest.

“You okay?” Harry asked once he’d caught his breath.

“Yes. God. More than okay. Fuck, I was so close.”

“Shit.” Harry pressed his face into Draco’s sternum, his glasses smushing into his eyelids. “You’re killing me.”

“Not being able to touch you is killing me.”

“Next time,” Harry said. He held his breath to hear Draco’s reply.

Draco hummed. “Next time you should be my present. You’d look good in Slytherin ribbons. Would match your eyes.”

Harry smiled against Draco’s skin. “Mossy green. Like your scarf.”

“Exactly,” Draco said softly.

Harry lifted his head. Draco’s gaze was on him, intense even through the smudge of his glasses. The look felt significant. Like they were on the edge of a cliff, about to jump.

“Fuck me,” Draco said.

“Yes,” Harry said.

Harry moved back down the bed. He summoned his wand and aimed a Lubrico at his hand. “Are you okay like this?” His voice came out rough. “Your arms must be aching.”

“A bit, but it’s fine.” Draco shifted, widened his legs to give Harry better access. His bound ankles pressed against Harry’s back. “There are other spells too, you know. For stretching.”

“I know.” Harry circled a finger around Draco’s hole. “I want to do it this way. Is that okay?”

Draco’s breath caught. “I’m your present,” he said. “You can do whatever you like.”

“I want everything,” Harry said, and pressed his finger inside.

Draco’s only reaction was a slight hitch in breath and a further widening of his legs. Harry pushed in and out, watching carefully for any sign of pain or discomfort, but Draco’s gaze was steady. Harry had spent a lot of time cataloguing Draco’s expressions over the last three years. He’d never seen this one before.

A second finger, and Draco bit his lip, lifted his hips. In and out. In and out.

“You’re so beautiful,” Harry couldn’t help but tell him. “You really are.” It was true – everything from the dark smudges under his eyes to his pointy nose to his thin mouth. The uneven flush of his neck, his scarred chest, his bony knees. He was beautiful. He was everything Harry wanted.

“Harry.” Draco shifted, squirmed on Harry’s fingers. “More.”

Harry swore. He eased in a third finger.

Draco’s head dropped backwards. He was restless, not quite impaling himself on Harry’s fingers but definitely meeting each thrust, his hips rising, his thighs flexing. He was making these restrained little noises, biting off each one before it could become a gasp, letting out another immediately after.

And all the while, Harry was fucking him with his fingers, changing the angle with every inward push, trying to find the spot that would–

Draco’s back arched and his bitten-off gasp trailed into a moan. “There! Again.”

There was no universe in which Harry could have defied him. He did it again, and again, and again, and Draco took it beautifully, tied up and neck bared and entirely at Harry’s mercy. His cock leaked onto the charcoal ribbon around his stomach, leaving streaks of darkness on the silk.

“Please,” Draco said. He sounded wrecked. “Please – Harry – fuck me. I need you to – Please–”

“Yes.” Harry was aching for it. Every grip of Draco’s hole around his fingers sent a throb through him, through his cock. “Yes, I will, I want to. God, Draco – Come here, let me – Can you get up? On your knees?”

It took a second for Draco to understand, but he nodded. Harry eased his fingers out and helped Draco up. Draco leaned heavily against him, the tea-pine-potions scent Harry knew so well mixing with the heavy smell of sweat and the sharp tang of sex. Harry couldn’t help but kiss him again. His tongue was cold. He’d been dragging in desperate breaths through his mouth.

“Do you think you can ride me,” Harry murmured, their lips brushing. “Do you think you can get on top of me and fuck yourself on my cock while you’re tied up so nicely? You’d look so hot. So fucking hot, Draco, you’re so gorgeous.”

Draco shuddered in Harry’s arms. “Fuck. You’re going to kill me. Yes.”

“God.” Harry kissed Draco again, then lay on his back in Draco’s spot on the bed. It was still warm from the heat of him. Harry was too hot, sweat prickling over his skin, but he relished the echo of Draco’s body on the soft sheets.

Draco manoeuvred above him with difficulty, shuffling forwards inch by awkward inch, his knees free but his ankles tied, his arms still twined behind his back. Harry kept his hands on Draco’s narrow waist, fingers tightening in anticipation more than assistance.

He still couldn’t believe this was happening. He’d come over to drop off some mince pies. He’d expected Draco to send him away with a pretentious joke present, some fancy robes for a posh restaurant they’d never visit. He’d expected he wouldn’t see him again until January. He never, not in his wildest dreams, expected–

“You’re going to have to line yourself up,” Draco said, voice rough. He hovered over Harry. His bound ankles rested on Harry’s thighs. “My hands…”

“Yeah.” Harry fumbled in the sheets for his wand and cast another Lubrico, slicked up his dick and held it upright.

The first touch of Draco’s hole was just that – a touch. Draco lifted himself immediately and shuffled forwards, seeking a better position, but Harry already felt dizzy from it, from the promise of being inside that clinging tightness that had been swallowing his fingers minutes before.

The second touch was a slow, almost motionless press of the head of Harry’s dick against Draco’s rim. Neither of them moved, united in wanting to savour this, this moment of not-quite-yet, the last moment they’d be able to say they hadn’t had sex. They could hardly take it back, not now, but there was still an exhilaration in being on the edge of this, the last barrier they had to cross.

They were colleagues. Partners.

They were going to fuck.

Slowly – so, so slowly – Draco sank down. Harry bit his lip against the aching heat and tightness. It felt like his whole body, not just his cock, was being enveloped by Draco. Harry wanted it. Welcomed it. He’d already been consumed by Draco, already belonged to him. It felt so right to have his body echo what his heart had been feeling for years.

“Fuck, you’re so big,” Draco said, voice strained. He sunk down another inch. “You – Harry, you’re inside me. God, you feel so good.”

Harry wouldn’t put it past Draco to, even now, be calculating. Wouldn’t be surprised if his brilliant brain was still trying to gain the upper hand, trying to figure out the exact things to say to drive Harry wild. But he couldn’t have known the effect that Harry, you’re inside me – in that strained, breathy voice – would have. It took everything – everything – to stop his hips jerking upwards at the words. It took everything not to swear and let instinct take over and bury himself deep in Draco’s body.

“I’m inside you,” Harry repeated mindlessly, digging sweaty fingers into Draco’s sides. “You’re amazing. You’re my favourite person, Draco, fuck – God, so tight.”

Draco took the last few inches. He was fully seated, his arse pressed against the tops of Harry’s legs. Harry was inside him. As deep as he could go.

Harry tried to distract himself from the burning need to move, god, move now by running his hands over every part of Draco he could reach – his thighs, his hips, his arse. He stroked up Draco’s chest, trying to find the thin scars that criss-crossed his skin, a sick, permanent imitation of the ribbons.

Draco was sitting tall, his head hanging backwards, the collar of blue and charcoal a possessive ring around the long line of his neck. His eyes were closed. His mouth was open in a silent oh of pleasure.

“Draco,” Harry said reverently. “Look at you.”

Draco shivered and lifted his head. “Like it?”

“Yes,” Harry said immediately, running his hand over Draco’s front, fighting desperately to keep his hips still. “So much. So, so much. You’re perfect.”

Draco’s cock twitched and Harry’s eyes fell to it. “Can I…?”

Draco shook his head. He shifted on Harry’s dick. Harry bit his lip again, hard. He tasted blood.

“Not yet,” Draco said, shifting again, settling himself. “I want to enjoy this first. God, you feel good.”

Harry swore through gritted teeth. “Let me know when I can move,” he said tightly.

“Yeah,” Draco said, apparently only half-listening. The casual disregard of Harry’s words was so perfectly Draco. Harry dug his fingernails into Draco’s thighs.

“Please,” he ground out. “Whenever you’re ready – Let me – Please.”

Draco raised an eyebrow and met Harry’s gaze. He looked so much like his usual self that Harry’s control slipped; his hips thrust upwards, burying him impossibly deeper.

“Shit, sorry.” Harry threw an arm over his face, blocking out the sight of Draco smirking down at him. He squeezed his eyes shut too, just to be safe.

“You’re so impatient, Potter,” Draco said softly, an indulgent emphasis on Harry’s surname. “It’s very sexy, you know.” And, with no further warning, he lifted himself up and slid down again with a low moan.

“Fuuuck,” Harry groaned, grabbing Draco’s hips and drinking in the sight of him. “Fuck.”

“Yeah,” Draco agreed, nodding. His long hair fell over his shoulders, into his face. “God, you feel – Unh, yes, like that, do that again.”

Harry thrust upwards again helplessly. The drag of his cock inside Draco’s slick, tight hole was incredible, but much better were the noises that Draco was making, the way he threw his head back and let his eyes slide closed, the way his cock bobbed and leaked onto Harry’s stomach.

“I’ve wanted this for so long,” Harry found himself saying. He thrust up into Draco again, couldn’t help it. “I’ve wanted you – God, Draco, I want you so much.”

Draco whimpered and ground down onto Harry’s dick. “The things you say.” His voice was high, strained. Reverent.

“I mean it.” Harry curled his fingers under a ribbon on Draco’s hip and pulled it tight. “I’d do anything for you. I would.”

“Fuck, I want to touch you.” Draco bucked his hips, but without his hands and feet to balance, was clearly struggling for the control necessary to take charge.

“Let me–” Harry steadied him, held him still, and fucked upwards properly – a long, deep stroke that made them both moan.

“Is this okay?” Harry paused, but Draco was already nodding furiously.

“Yes, more – I need more – God, yes.”

It was easy, then, to get lost in the pleasure of it. Of Draco’s easy vocalisations, of his visible reaction to the flattery that Harry couldn’t stop from pouring out. They fell into a rhythm – Draco’s weight on his knees, Harry supporting him with a desperate grip on his ribbons, on his hips, fucking into him with increasingly uncontrolled thrusts. Harry could barely think – the only thing he was sure of was that he wanted more – he wanted Draco to keep making those noises, to keep looking at him with those wild storm-grey eyes, to keep rocking back onto his bound heels, meeting Harry’s every thrust.

“Fuck, I can’t – can’t balance,” Draco whined, tilting a bit too far backwards on Harry’s next inward thrust and having to right himself immediately.

“You can,” Harry said, his hands moving higher on Draco’s sides, gripping hard despite the sweat that built between them. “I’ve got you.”

Draco let out a loud, desperate noise and leaned into Harry’s hands. He tipped his head back again and gave himself over to Harry’s thrusts. Judging by Draco’s shuddering reactions, Harry had found the right angle. His legs burned with the effort of hitting it each time.

“You’re gorgeous. You’re fucking gorgeous,” Harry gasped, barely aware of what he was saying. Draco whined, his cock jumping, and Harry carried on, mindless. “Draco, you – You’re everything. You are. You’re – Fuck, look at you – God, I love you.” He tightened his grip on Draco’s sweaty sides, on the silky ribbons that wound around his hot flesh. “I love you so much. I do.”

“You bastard,” Draco gasped, his voice so high, so needy. “You absolute prick. I love you too.”

Harry’s hips faltered, but there was no way he could stop. “You – What?”

Draco made a noise somewhere between pleasure and impatience. “Of course I love you, you stupid fuck. Of course I do. God, I’m – I’m so close, I’m gonna come, fuck fuck fuck–”

Harry sped up the pace of his hips, letting the threat of orgasm creep closer. “God, I love you so much. Draco, you’re perfect, you’re my favourite, you really are, you – Oh, god.”

“Touch me,” Draco demanded, his tone not imperious but high with desperate pleasure – even worse for Harry’s willpower. “Harry, please – Touch me – Touch me, I’m so close–”

Harry fumbled for Draco’s cock and tugged once, twice, and Draco was crying out, his stomach muscles tensing and his thighs tightening and his hole clenching and he was coming, shooting over Harry’s stomach, his chest. Harry kept his hand moving, kept fucking into him, holding himself back by sheer force of will until Draco’s eyes opened and he whimpered, then Harry grabbed his hips again, threw his head back and let the wave of pleasure crash over him. He was swearing and no doubt blurting more embarrassing truths but he couldn’t hear himself; his ears roared and his body seized and, god, he had never felt anything better in his whole life.

After what felt like a long time, he sagged back against the bed. He was suddenly aware of the come cooling on his front, of the ache in his thighs, of the sharp pain in his bitten lip.

He was aware of Draco, who sat on him, tied up in Harry’s favourite colours, his hole still twitching around Harry’s cock.

They looked at each other for a long moment. Harry didn’t know what to say, so he summoned his wand and pointed it at the ornate bow at the base of Draco’s dick. Draco didn’t flinch.

Relashio.”

The ribbons fell off like water. Draco made a pained noise as his ankles separated and his feet dropped to either side of Harry’s thighs. His arms sprang apart and his hands landed clumsily on Harry’s stomach – spunk smearing under his palms.

“Oh, pleasant.” Draco’s mouth wrinkled. “Can you…?”

Scourgify,” Harry said. The mess disappeared.

They stared at each other.

“I might need a bit of help,” Draco said. “My legs are killing me.”

“Oh – yeah. ’Course.”

Together, with a lot of wincing and shuffling, and a few more cleaning charms, they eased Draco up. They collapsed back on the bed, side by side. Not touching.

Harry had been too hot before; now he shivered. He wanted to get under the covers, to pull Draco close, but despite everything that had happened, the thought felt like a presumption. Draco had said he was Harry’s present. He’d said he didn’t want Harry to return him. But that didn’t necessarily mean–

Harry rolled over. Draco was staring at the canopy of his bed, his fingers idly tracing the pink marks that the ribbons had left on his stomach. His flush had abated, leaving behind pale, seemingly unblemished skin. The zigzag of scars had faded, white blending into white.

“It’s okay if you didn’t mean it,” Harry said quietly.

Draco turned his head and met his gaze. Harry’s breath caught. Damn it.

“Hmm?”

“What you said. It’s okay if you didn’t mean it. People say stupid things during sex, I get it.”

Draco frowned and opened his mouth, but Harry wasn’t finished; it was important that he clarify his position. He hadn’t intended to say it either, but having Draco know felt too good to take it back.

“But I meant it. Just so you know. I do love you, I have for a while. But I don’t expect – It’s really okay. If you don’t, I mean. I really – I don’t actually think–”

“Potter,” Draco said softly. “Shut up.”

True to form, Harry obeyed.

After a pause, Draco said, “For the ribbon, you picked the colour of the robes I wore to the Pixie Powder Victory Ball. Do you remember the rest of the night?”

Of course Harry remembered it. The attention. The crowds. Draco, alight with pleasure. “Yes.”

“Do you remember what you said to the Minister when he congratulated you on solving the case?”

“Er, probably something like, ‘Cheers, Kingsley’?”

“No. You said, ‘Thank you, but Malfoy is the reason we got them. He’s brilliant.’”

That sounded reasonable. “So? You are brilliant.”

Draco shrugged in agreement, but he lowered his eyes. “My point is, that was the first time I thought you didn’t hate me. It was the first time I thought that maybe – one day, if all the stars aligned, I might have a chance with you.”

“No way,” Harry breathed. He propped himself up on one elbow. “Are you having me on? That was the night I fell in love with you too! That’s why I picked it for the ribbons, you were amazing, I think about it all the – Why are you shaking your head?”

“You’re not listening, as usual. I didn’t fall in love with you then.”

“Oh.” Harry’s heart sank. “Sorry, I thought–”

“I’d already been in love with you for years. Since eighth year, in fact. The Potions project where you fucked up at every step but you were so earnest about it, remember? When you nearly blew us up by adding fairy wings to Dreamless Sleep because you were busy telling me I shouldn’t blame myself for what happened to Crabbe. When you said you forgave me. Since then.”

The ticking of the clock echoed around them.

“Draco.” Harry reached out helplessly, needing to touch him, needing an anchor. The bed felt as if it were on the waves of that wild blue-grey sea off the coast of Shetland. “You never said.”

Draco shrugged. He still wouldn’t meet Harry’s gaze. “Never felt like there was a point. Even after the Victory Ball, you wouldn’t respond when I flirted, or when I tried to spend time with you outside of work. But I couldn’t stop, because every now and then you’d look at me and I – I thought that if I did something drastic, at least you’d be angry enough to storm out and request a new partner. I didn’t think–”

But once again, Harry didn’t hear what Draco thought, because he was kissing him helplessly. Draco made a soft noise in the back of his throat and arched into him, and Harry’s heart felt like it would swell right out of his chest.

“We’re both idiots, aren’t we?” Harry asked, breaking apart and resting his forehead on Draco’s.

“Worst Aurors in the department,” Draco agreed.

“Are you busy after Christmas?” Harry blurted. “Can I – I’d like to come over, maybe. Do the thing where we spend time together outside of work. If you want to.”

A smile took over Draco’s mouth. It lit up his entire pinched, pointed, beautiful face. “Yeah, you can come over. I’d like that.”

Harry couldn’t help but grin in return. “I love you,” he said, just because he could.

“You’re a dickhead,” Draco said, still smiling, his eyes soft. “I love you too.”

It was interesting, Harry thought, as he pulled the covers over them and kissed Draco again, slow and sweet. He had never considered himself a materialistic person. He’d always thought a childhood with barely any possessions had made him quite the opposite.

But as it turned out, all he needed to start liking Christmas again was a really, really good gift.