"Look, it's just a bit of red–"

"I said no."

"But it's Chris–"

"Don't finish that word, Potter. I said no decoration, and I meant no decoration. Must we go through this every year?"

Severus storms out of the room. Harry removes the red garland from the mantle, the brightness of it mocking him.

"Have you written your list to Father Christmas?"

Severus turns from his book, ignoring the teasing in Harry's voice. "Are you daft? I'm forty-five. Why in the world would I have written to Father Christmas? Only small children and ridiculously insipid adults write to Father Christmas. Besides, when has he ever turned his generosity towards me?"

Severus refuses to feel remorse as the sparkle in Harry's eyes dims to nothing. Harry leaves, a crumpled piece of parchment falling to the floor. Severus's fingers clench around the cover of his book. There are words there—words detailing complex infusions and tinctures—but all he can see is Harry's imagined list to Father Christmas. Guilt blossoms in his gut; self-righteous anger burns through it.

Harry watches the rise and fall of Severus's chest. It's three in the morning and he can't sleep. Moonbeams sweep through the room, painting everything with silver and gray.

Harry leans over and kisses the corner of Severus's mouth. Severus doesn't move.

Harry opens his mouth to say something, but closes it before words he can't take back slip out and damn him. Harry climbs back under the covers and spoons against Severus, hoping he can convey with touch what he's afraid to say with words.

The spoon clinks against the side of the bowl and scrapes across Harry's plate. A mound of mashed potatoes forms.

"You're awfully quiet," Severus says at long last, unable to bear a moment longer the frown on Harry's face and the oppressive absence of words.

Harry shrugs, still dropping spoonfuls of potatoes. "Not much to say, I suppose."


Harry moves on to the snapped beans.

"Look, if this is about the damnable twig you claimed was a Christmas tree of some sort, I made it clear–"

Harry interrupts. "S'not about the tree."

"What's all this moping about, then?"

"Doesn't matter."


"Doesn't matter."

Harry pushes his plate away and leaves the table.

Hogsmeade swarms with people rushing about to finish their Christmas shopping. Severus sneers at them as if they were ants that he could squash with the heel of his boot.

He pats his pockets, feeling the miniaturized treasures within. Harry needs new quills and journals and so what if he found them in deep scarlet?

He weaves in and out of raucous crowds, elbowing his way closer to Honeydukes to buy a few bars of medicinal quality chocolate. He sees Harry standing in the street, admiring something on an old witch's cart.

Severus stops. He watches.

Even in the distance, he can see the sparkle, the fascination, in Harry's eyes. Something catches the light, causing sunbeams to dance across the glittering snow. Harry turns and follows them, the joyous smile on his face breathtaking. It spills out of Harry—the joy—and wreathes Severus with warmth and longing. Severus wishes he could join him—experience the joy firsthand—but it's as if there's a wall of glass in between them, one he cannot bring himself to break.

Harry turns back to the cart. His hand reaches out, touching whatever has captured his fancy. He bites his lip. The old witch says something. Harry shakes his head and smiles apologetically before turning away.

Severus watches Harry trudge along the street, shoulders hunched, the joy having bled out of him.

The old witch turns her cart just so and Severus sees her wares. Baubles and trinkets—nothing more. Bits of copper and jewels wound together to catch the sun and glorify it. Mere frivolity.

Severus admires his new Potions phials that he's found at the back of his lab. It's the third gift he's found that morning. He smiles and wishes Harry a silent Happy Christmas.

Harry is unrelenting in his desire to share Christmas with Severus, despite Severus's scowls and protestations to the contrary. It was mere coincidence, he tells himself, that Harry needed new journals and quills at the end of December. It was mere laziness on his part that he left them wrapped in the shopping paper, still tied with string, on Harry's desk. The small note was a mere courtesy.

The lab door bangs open. Before Severus can give Harry a good telling off, Harry's pushing him against the wall, kissing him with lips and tongue and teeth. He's pulling him from the room, tearing off clothing as he goes. He's pushing him onto the bed, straddling him, sinking down on Severus's hard cock, and fucking him with all that he has. Making love to him. Saying with touch what he doesn't say with words. Severus thrusts up and says it back. He experiences joy firsthand. The invisible glass shatters.

The day dawns bright. Glittering sunbeams dance around the room, modulating in color, refracted by bits of copper and jewels wound together and hanging in the window.

Harry wakes beside him, nuzzling into Severus's neck.

"Happy Christmas," Harry says.

"Happy Christmas," Severus replies. He gestures towards the window. "It needs a proper hook."

Harry's fingers skim up and down Severus's arm. He says nothing, instead pressing a smile to the back of Severus's neck.



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