Author's Notes: Thanks go to my beta and to all those who sent feedback about the original draft of the fic at schnoogle or on my LJ. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Gold Tinted Spectacles
Chapter 24 - A Very Weasley Christmas
"Ready?" Draco asked and squeezed Harry's hand as he considered his answer.
The invitation to Christmas dinner at the Weasleys had arrived by owl the previous morning and Harry had been really enthusiastic until he realised that the only way they could make it to the Burrow was to Apparate. Short distances were one thing, but he hadn't been sure about trying it over such a long journey. He had almost written a note to politely refuse the invitation, but a comment from Snape at the lunch table the previous day had brought out his stubborn side.
Draco had been less than pleased with the idea, but had not objected. Harry had proved he could Apparate without splinching himself so his soul mate was only worried about how ill it would make Harry feel. Their little experiments had proved that the Hecatemus was very sensitive to the mode of transport, but it was like everything else in their world now: Harry could deal with it if he needed to.
"As I'll ever be," he finally said and tried to smile.
They both had their wands clutched in their hands and a large bag of presents between them. The pair had practised Apparating together all the previous afternoon in the room of requirement so they had the spell down to a fine art. Taking a deep breath Harry lifted his wand, opened his mind so he was perfectly in tune with Draco and then they both cast the spell. He did not hear the crack of them Disapparating nor was he really aware of the crack that announced their arrival at their destination, all he noticed was the fact that his stomach was heaving and the world was spinning.
Harry sat down heavily, regardless of what he might be sitting on and begged for the universe to forgive him. A hand around his shoulders steadied the world somewhat but he still couldn't focus.
"For future reference," he said more to try and distract himself from the nausea than anything else, "distance makes it worse. There has to be a better way of getting about than this."
"Next time we'll borrow a Thestral or two," Draco said and waved a couple of fingers in front of Harry's face. "How many?"
"Two," the Hecatemus replied as his eyes finally began to behave.
"Good," his soul mate said with a smile, "you're better than after the first try the other day at least. You look like death warmed over, but at least you're not going to pass out on me, I don't think I can carry you and the presents into the house."
Harry snorted a laugh and pushed his glasses properly onto his nose.
"How about helping me up then?" he asked cheerfully: his stomach was still doing little flip-flops, but the world had come to a stop.
Shaking his head and rolling his eyes, Draco reached out his arm and Harry grasped it just below the elbow as his lover's fingers wound round his own forearm. With a firm tug Draco helped Harry to his feet.
[Do I really look like death warmed over?] Harry asked as he surveyed the front of the Weasleys' house.
Draco nodded with a wry grin.
[If I hid in the dungeons for a month and didn't come out I'd still have more colour than you at the moment,] his lover told him and released his grip on Harry's arm.
Draco also helpfully flashed Harry an image of what he looked like and he had to agree that the almost grey skin and little pink spots on his cheeks did make him appear as if he was about to keel over. Harry gave a groan of resignation and tried to will some colour back into his face: the last thing he wanted was to worry anyone.
[There really does have to be a better way to travel,] he said firmly and went to reach for the bag of presents.
With a quick step and a swift grab, of which Harry was incapable at the moment, Draco made it to the gifts first.
"I don't think so, Father Christmas," the blond youth said with a shake of his head and an amused smile. "If you want to make it to the door upright you'll let this elf carry the presents for you."
The image of Draco with pointy ears and a little green hat leapt into Harry's thoughts and he couldn't help but grin. Wizards often scoffed at Muggle things, but it was amazing how many Muggle ideas spilled over. Wizards might not drink Coke, but Santa Claus still wore a red suit and was helped by a whole hoard of short men.
Harry held out his hand and Draco took it as the Hecatemus sured up his shields, then they walked to the Weasley's house. Since both of Draco's hands were occupied Harry knocked and they waited. A very happy looking Arthur Weasley opened the door after a few seconds, and by the cheerful red tinge to his face, Harry thought Ron's father had probably been enjoying the Christmas sherry already.
"Come in, come in," the wizard greeted cheerfully and stepped backwards into the house. "Welcome to the madhouse."
Arthur at least did not appear to notice that Harry was auditioning for the part of the ghost of Christmas future.
"Thank you, Mr Weasley," Draco said in what Harry referred to as the 'charming-of-his-elders' mode.
"Arthur, please," Ron's Dad replied brightly. "You're the last to arrive so I'm afraid we've been on the Christmas cheer for a while without you. Everyone's in the living room."
Harry briefly wondered how it was possible to cram the entire Weasley family plus Hermione and her parents into the Burrow's main room: he found out when he and Draco walked in. It appeared that someone in the household had been doing some serious magic, because the kitchen and the living room had expanded quite dramatically.
"Room expanding spell," Arthur said proudly as Harry stared. "It only lasts twenty four hours, but it's useful while it works."
"Wow," was all Harry could find to say: the effect was quite spectacular.
Every one else was gathered around the large sofa and assorted chairs in front of the Weasley's large fire place and every face turned towards them as they entered. Hermione and Ron were on their feet instantly and came dashing over, even though it had only been a week since they had seen their friends. Hermione gave Draco a warm hug and then Harry a much shorter, but equally enthusiastic one as Ron grinned at them happily.
It took Hermione looking at Harry critically and about another ten seconds for Ron's smile to turn into a frown.
"Mate, you look like one of Sprout's death's head roots, are you okay?" his best friend asked in a very concerned tone.
"I'm fine," Harry promised and gave Ron the most cheerful smile he could muster. "Ask me when you get back to school and I'll explain in detail why I really hate Apparating."
Neither of his Gryffindor friends looked convinced and both turned to Draco, which made Harry role his eyes.
"He is fine," his soul mate confirmed with a grin at Harry's resigned mental sigh, "or at least he will be in a few minutes."
Harry shook his head.
"Why does no one believe me when I say I'm fine?" he asked good-naturedly.
"Harry, you'd say 'I'm fine' if you'd been poisoned by a basilisk and your arm was falling off," Hermione pointed out and patted him fondly on the hand.
That caused several laughs from the rest of the Weasley's, although Molly was eyeing Harry in a way that suggested to him he was about to be mothered within an inch of his life.
"Let me take your cloaks, and then we can all sit down," Arthur suggested cheerfully. "And while we're doing that you can decide what you'd like to drink. We have mulled wine, Christmas punch made to Molly's mother's secret family recipe, or hot chocolate -- Weasley style."
Harry reached up to unfasten his cloak as he wondered what was actually in the Christmas punch.
"I couldn't possibly turn down an old family recipe," Draco said charmingly as he disengaged himself from his outer garment and handed it to Arthur, "I'll have the punch please, and no matter what Harry says, he'll have the hot chocolate: he needs the calories."
The Hecatemus opened his mouth to protest and his lover looked at him with one raised eyebrow: Harry decided against disagreeing. This caused a giggle from both Hermione and Ginny and Harry couldn't help thinking the whole incident had been filed under 'cute' along with fluffy bunnies and little pink hearts.
"We were beginning to wonder if you'd ever get here," Ron complained good-naturedly with a confused look at his girlfriend's knowing smile.
"Oh you know Draco," Harry said with a grin as the opportunity arose to get his own back, "it took him three hours to decide what to wear."
[You will pay for that,] his soul mate returned and smiled wickedly.
[Going to tie me up and spank me?] Harry asked nonchalantly.
[You wish,] was the light reply.
They were dragged into the living room where Fred and George immediately moved off the sofa onto the floor and the soul mates were forced into the vacated seats. Harry sat at the end, which was next to the chair from which Hermione's father was observing the whole proceedings, and Draco was in the middle of the three-seater between the Hecatemus and Ginny. After a brief introduction for those who had not yet met, the drinks arrived. Harry's hot chocolate was in an absolutely huge mug and crazy coloured marshmallows floated all over the top of it. As he tucked in he had to admit Draco had made the right selection as he felt the sugar head straight into his system.
[Repeat after me,] his lover's mental voice said playfully. [Draco knows best, always listen to Draco,] they finished together.
Harry tried desperately not to snort hot chocolate down his nose.
"Are you all right, dear?" Molly asked as the young man all but choked.
"Marshmallow," he covered smoothly, "stuck to the back of my throat for a moment."
The look Hermione sent him told Harry that she knew it had been no such thing, but she was trying not to laugh so he didn't think he was in trouble.
"Can we do presents now?" Fred and George chimed in with a beautifully petulant whine.
Everyone except Molly found this hilariously funny and after a moment even her motherly, reproachful frown turned into a smile: the twins charm was irresistible to their mother and Harry couldn't help feeling very warm and happy as he watched the family interplay. The Weasley household was always organised chaos, but it was also always so happy at times like this. It was nice to see Percy back among his siblings as well. It had taken a long time to mend the rift in the redheaded clan, but it had finally happened just before the Summer and it had made Molly so happy.
There were a lot of presents what with there being fourteen people in the house with several gifts for each person. Harry and Draco had brought things for everyone; there was a parcel for everyone from Molly and Arthur, and in the case of their children two; the twins had gifts for all as well; Hermione and her parents had clubbed together and bought everyone something as had Ron, Ginny and Percy; and Bill and Charlie hadn't produced any parcels, but the way they were looking at each other while everyone else passed out their presents to people, they had something else up their sleeves.
Harry was really enjoying himself, especially since every time Draco was passed a gift-wrapped bundle a small shot of amazement went through him. It was not that Draco was unused to receiving presents, Harry was well aware that his soul mate's parents had always spoilt their child, it was that Draco had never expected to be given anything from those at the Burrow. The look on Draco's face was like that of a five year old who had found Father Christmas filling his stocking.
When he was ready to open his hoard Harry really didn't have to read any of the tags on the presents to figure out what gift was from whom: the wrappings gave them away. The one from Hermione and her parents was in neatly stripped paper with one gold stick-on bow holding on the tag; the parcel from Fred and George which was to both himself and Draco was in bright green paper with loud red spots and a large floppy bow; Molly and Arthur's gift was in sedate, modest paper with an ornately tied ribbon holding it closed; the present from the younger Weasley children was in pink paper with a Gryffindor coloured bow and an official looking tag; and lastly Draco's gift to Harry was in silver paper with a carefully tied gold ribbon.
Harry left the present his soul mate had given him to one side for last and started with the one from Hermione and her parents. It was a Muggle book entitled "How to tell if your boyfriend is a mad axe murderer" which caused Harry to laugh out loud, and a charmed bookmark that clung to any page on which it was positioned. He showed the book to his lover and Draco calmly raised both eyebrows and said: "Oh please, I'd never use anything as common as an axe."
Hermione's parents hadn't quite been expecting that reaction, and having heard all about the "awful Draco Malfoy" didn't quite know how to take it until Ron fell off his chair laughing, at which point they joined in. There was more hilarity to be had when Draco showed Harry his present from Hermione and her family. It was also a bookmark and a Muggle book, but the title of this one was "How to cope with the hero in your life: for when they won't commit him". It appeared that the family Granger had well developed senses of humour.
Harry decided on opening the one from Molly and Arthur next. It was soft and squishy and he had no doubt what it was going to be. Tearing into the parcel he found a maroon jumper with a large golden 'H'. He beamed at the couple who had all but adopted him over the years and pulled off the black sweater he was wearing to replace it with the official Weasley jumper. Draco was mirroring Harry's opening cycle and when he held a similar garment in green with a grey D on the front he just sat there and stared at it.
Harry could feel the conflicting emotions that were warring in his soul mate as the significance of the gift hit him. Draco had been cheerful all day, but under it all there had been a current of loss: after all, Draco had never before spent Christmas without his family. Harry had not pushed his lover to talk about it, but Molly's homemade gift had brought it all to the front of Draco's mind and Harry could tell his lover was torn between tears of sadness and tears of joy.
There was no question that Draco would swallow both signs of emotion and pretend everything was completely normal: Harry knew that without a doubt, but just for a moment his soul mate sat on the brink. Eventually he copied Harry and pulled the cashmere sweater he was wearing off and pulled the green jumper on.
"You'll never get rid of me now, Weasley," he said to Ron with a grin and the moment was over.
The parcel from Ron, Ginny and Percy contained sweets and a badge that said: "Call me a mascot again and I'll show you my Wronski Feint". Predictably Draco had a badge too, although he had a small book of charms rather than sweets, and his said "Ex-Death Eater in Training. Don't mention Dark Marks".
When they opened the box from the twins together, under the paper the lid read: Danger, Experimental Products and then had a disclaimer that continued to shrink in letter size and grew in number of words the more Harry looked at it. He assumed it was part of the joke, or at least he hoped it was part of the joke and they weren't about to blow up. Inside were various devices with dubious names that for safety's sake the couple decided to investigate later.
That left only their presents from each other and Harry picked his up reverently. He had an idea of what type of thing it was going to be since they had been shopping together when it was bought and the only way Draco could buy it without Harry finding out what it was, was to tell him to stand in the corner of the shop and think of something else. It was the same technique the Hecatemus had used to buy both Draco's birthday and his Christmas present.
The young man pulled off the ribbon carefully and tucked it in his pocket, then he opened the package with careful precision. He revealed a long thin velvet box which he sat on his knee and considered for a while: when he touched it, the black material seemed to buzz under his fingers. Slowly he opened the case and Harry was captivated: even with his barriers up the slender shaft sitting on more black velvet, glowed.
Harry was aware of Draco's attention on him, but he did not look away from the gift: in fact he lowered his magical barrier slightly to take a better look at the object. It sparkled and danced with colours inside its completely clear surface. It looked like a wand but it was made of crystal.
[What's it for?] Harry asked and moved one finger into the box to touch it carefully.
The moment his skin connected with the crystal, power lanced up his arm and he drew back the digit with a yelp of surprise.
[Wild magic,] Draco said as Harry looked at him, not really understanding, [it's infused with it. It is not just released raw magic: this comes from deep in the earth where no wizard has ever tried to use it. Most people can't cast wild magic it is too unruly for them, but I know in time you will be able to.]
"What you got, Mate?" Ron asked curiously and Harry realised his outburst had made him the centre of attention.
Carefully the Hecatemus turned the box around so his friend could see the crystal wand and passed it towards him for a closer look.
"Oh wow," it was Fred who spoke and the young man's expression was very approving, "is that what I think it is?"
"Depends what you think it is," Draco replied enigmatically.
"A wild wand," the twin replied and leant over Ron's shoulder to look at it in more detail.
"Then yes," Draco replied calmly, "it is what you think it is."
Hermione was almost leaning in her boyfriend's lap to look at the magical item.
"Aren't they supposed to be dangerous?" she asked as she stared at the carved crystal.
Harry would not have been surprised if the answer was yes. Surprisingly it was Molly who spoke up to reply before Draco could.
"Only for those who cannot handle the magic, dear," the woman said and smiled at the young woman before changing to look at the Hecatemus, "and I'm sure Harry will be careful."
Harry just nodded as he was handed back the box and he looked at the wand for a few seconds more before closing the case and turning to smile his thanks at his lover.
[I love it,] he said silently, [thank you.]
[Just promise me not to try and use it in our room the first time,] Draco replied with a mischievous smile, [I like that we have walls.]
[Maybe I could try it in Snape's office then,] Harry suggested lightly. [How do you think he'd like me redecorating?]
[Remember how he wanted to poison you because you disrupted his lesson with your allergies?] Draco replied in kind. [Imagine what he'd do if you destroyed his sanctuary.]
The Gryffindor grinned broadly and put his hand on his lover's knee before giving him a quick kiss.
"That's so sweet," the comment came from George and when Harry glanced over the other twin was batting his eyes in a very coy expression.
"George!" his mother admonished quickly and Harry balled up the paper from one of the parcels and threw it at the young man in playful retaliation.
"Ow," the guilty twin complained loudly with a very over the top rubbing of the arm the missile had hit, "that's not fair. You're a hero, Harry, heroes aren't supposed to retaliate."
The Hectemus smiled at him broadly and pointed at Draco.
"I bonded to a Slytherin," he said chattily, "I'm picking up bad habits."
That caused Draco to snort a laugh and pull Harry towards him in a show of solidarity.
"Corruptor of the pure, that's me," he said dramatically, "because we all know Harry never broke a rule before I came along."
That made everyone in the room laugh. After that they went back to present opening and Harry noticed that Draco had only managed to pull the ribbon off his gift, he had not yet opened it. He settled back to watch as his lover meticulously unfolded the paper on the parcel and revealed the box inside. Harry found that he was incredibly nervous, after such a wonderful present from Draco he wanted his soul mate to like his as much.
Draco opened the box with the same care he had unwrapped it and his face broke into a smile as he saw what was inside. Without hesitating he pulled out the rather ordinary looking quill from its packing and examined it closely. The only thing that made it stand out from a normal writing implement was gold line running from the nib to the tip.
[An Everlast,] Draco said delightedly and turned to Harry. [Thank you, I've always wanted one, but Father said why bother when you can afford as many quills as you'll ever need.]
[I had it enchanted to you as well,] Harry said with a smile, [it will only write for you. It's to go with the book.]
[Not to you as well?] Draco asked.
[I figured with my handwriting, Everlast charms or no Everlast charms, it would break,] Harry replied lightly. [If I ever write in the book I'll use my own quill.]
Draco put the quill back in the box and leant back beside Harry and they both watched the rest of the room silently. Ron had finished unpacking already as well, but was engaged in commenting on how slow Hermione was, and the others were all in various stages. It was a truly lovely atmosphere.
[I'm glad we came,] Draco said eventually and slipped his hand into Harry's, [Apparating or no Apparating.]
[Me too,] the Hecatemus replied warmly, [and you haven't seen the food yet.]
Christmas dinner had almost been grander than a Hogwarts' feast and Harry was one hundred percent sure that even with his over active appetite, he could not eat another thing. The food Molly had produced had been incredible and she had been offering around snacks ever since the meal ended so that everyone was trying to run in the opposite direction if they saw the woman with a tray.
Harry's running ability was completely gone thanks to too much eating and one glass of wine which had travelled straight to his head. It hadn't affected his reasoning or his control of his powers, but he did have a rather overwhelming desire to go to sleep. Hence he was sitting on the sofa, leaning against Draco as his soul mate tag-teamed with Arthur to question the Granger's about all things Muggle.
Non-magical people were not Draco's favourite thing in the world and Harry had a suspicion that they made his lover a little nervous, but since his father had proved once and for all that on certain topics he was less than sane, the Slytherin had taken it upon himself to find out certain things. Hence, when given the opportunity to talk with two 'tame' Muggles (Harry was never telling Hermione what Draco had called her parents) Draco had jumped at the chance. Arthur, loving all things Muggle, had joined in and the Grangers had been stuck talking about everything from the Internet to prit-stick all afternoon.
Harry had joined in the conversation for a little while trying to give Hermione's mother and father some breathing room, but had eventually given up. Mr Granger appeared to be holding his own by firing questions about wizards back at his two interrogators and Mrs Granger had taken to steering the conversation in alternative directions if she found it completely ridiculous. When he had realised this, Harry had settled down and dozed against his lover, only adding the odd word to the discourse if the topic roused him from his partial slumber.
He was quite pleased with the whole set of events since from the general feeling of Draco and his soul mate's odd silent questions, Harry knew the Slytherin was being quietly surprised. When talking to Mr and Mrs Granger it was obvious where Hermione had gained her intelligence and Draco had gained a genuine respect for the two dentists even if he wasn't sure whether to apply this new attitude to all Muggles or not.
"So a mobile telephone allows you to travel and talk remotely at the same time?" Draco clarified a point about the last topic of conversation.
Harry cracked open an eye and saw Mrs Granger nod and fish in her pocket. Living with his Muggle relatives during the Summer Harry knew what a mobile phone was, Dudley had two, but he had never seen one up close. Such tools of 'normal' people were never allowed to come too close to Harry. As Hermione's mother passed her mobile to Draco so he could have a closer look Harry, couldn't resist taking a peek himself. It was smaller than he thought it would be; the last time he had seen one more than a room away was before Hogwarts, and the technology had obviously improved since then.
"It doesn't work properly with so much magic around," Mrs Granger explained conversationally, "but I couldn't live without it at home."
"It's possible to charm two objects to allow communication between people," Draco said in a very chatty tone as he examined the mobile, "but we tend to rely on other means of communication usually. If we could adapt this idea somehow so it was like the fire network it would be revolutionary."
Harry was sure that the conversation would have launched into discussions of networks and coverage if at that moment Charlie and Bill hadn't walked in from the garden and announced their presence with a small stream of sparks from each of their wands.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," they said with all the theatrics that were usually associated with the twins, "if you would be so gracious as to accompany us outside, we have something you may enjoy."
They were not quite as in time as their identical siblings would have been, but the effect was spectacular none the less.
"No need for coats," Bill said cheerfully as his family and their guests all looked at the brother's quizzically, "we have charmed the spot where you will all be standing."
It took a few moments for the gathering to move into action, but eventually the somewhat confused groups began to move. Harry uncurled from beside Draco and realised that he hadn't chosen the most comfortable position in which to sit as his neck muscles complained. It took a few moments of shifting his shoulder blades carefully to release the tension by which time everyone was on their feet. Dutifully the Weasleys, Grangers, Harry and Draco trouped towards the back door.
[Should we be worried?] Draco asked dryly as they were herded into the back garden.
[If it were Fred and George, I'd say yes,] Harry replied in kind, [with Bill and Charlie I'm not quite sure.]
The snow crunched beneath their feet where it had frozen in the frigid winter temperatures, but Harry found that there was no chill in the air. The Hecatemus let his barriers down slightly and revealed a shimmering, metallic blue haze all around the revellers. It had to be some kind of partitioning spell combined with a warming charm, which was not a simple spell, by any stretch of the imagination. Harry came to the conclusion that a great deal of effort had gone into what was about to occur.
Bill positioned himself on one side of the group and Charlie did the same on the other, at which point they both produced their wands.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," Bill said grandly, "we are proud to present, Christmas lights."
"Weasley style," Charlie finished and both brothers flicked their wands.
Suddenly the garden lit up with hundreds of tiny flames and from somewhere music started. The lights were of every different colour under the sun, arranged in complicated patterns and Harry, who still had his barrier to magic at a lower level could see the power it had taken to create the effect overlaid on the whole thing; it was breathtaking. It was so incredible that for a moment the whole group just stood there in awe before finally bursting into a round of applause.
That wasn't it, however, as Harry watched both Bill and Charlie chanted in time to the music, just below proper hearing and the lights began to move. Some of the coloured flames swayed, some danced and some bopped, all in correspondence to part of the classical track that was playing through the cold night air. Unconsciously Harry found himself pulling Draco close, wanting to share the moment with his soul mate completely and he opened his mind so that his lover could see it the same way he could.
It was beautiful; it was breathtaking; it was almost spiritual as the lights and sounds made the night come alive, and it was the most incredible thing Harry had ever experienced. Some of Hogwarts' festivals had had displays equally as vibrant, but this was so personal and made the young man feel such a part of the extended family around him that everything else paled in comparison.
When the lights finally began to fade and the music stilled to nothing, there was a moment of complete stillness and then everyone burst into a round of rapturous celebration. It was quite honestly the most wonderful Christmas Harry could ever remember.
End of Chapter 24
Return to Archive | next | previous