Fanfic: Christmas Courting by Kai_Embers (Free to read, 564,411Clicks)

Description:

‘Christmas Courting’ or ‘Yuletide Courting’ is an ancient ritual that many Pure-blood wizards – and all members of the Sacred 28 – go through when choosing their intended. A notice is published to the public on the 1st of December announcing their intention of beginning the ritual. Ten Courting Rituals are chosen from the suitable options for the time by the Courtee and their family.

Characters:

No Archive Warnings ApplyDraco Malfoy/Harry Potter George Weasley/Blaise Zabini Hermione Granger/Ron WeasleyDraco Malfoy Harry Potter George Weasley Blaise Zabini Ron Weasley Hermione Granger Teddy Lupin Andromeda Black TonksChristmas Angst with a Happy Ending Courting Rituals Draco Malfoy Needs a Hug House Elves First Kiss Oblivious Harry Potter Enemies to Friends to Lovers 25 Days of Harry and Draco Christmas Special Christmas Presents Auror Harry Potter

Summary:

Summary:

‘Christmas Courting’ or ‘Yuletide Courting’ is an ancient ritual that many Pure-blood wizards – and all members of the Sacred 28 – go through when choosing their intended. A notice is published to the public on the 1st of December announcing their intention of beginning the ritual. Ten Courting Rituals are chosen from the suitable options for the time by the Courtee and their family.Draco has no family, limited prospects and a legacy he needs to live up to, so on the 1st of December his name is published on the Christmas Courting list with Blaise backing him through the process as suiters vie for his hand. The Malfoy name is still worth something in the right circles.Harry barely manages to fit in work, life and coffee into each day. When he accidently applies to Malfoy’s Courting it quickly takes up more time than it should. He doesn’t want to win … just … he’ll make up an excuse later. Malfoy has always been a bit of an obsession, of course he’d have time for that.

Notes:

So, this is the whole one day of December per day, aiming for 4,000 ish words per chapter to get me back into writing while I hear about a new job … Then back to my other fics I promise. Luck I love Christmas, wish me luck!

Chapter 1: Listing

Chapter Text

‘Christmas Courting’ or ‘Yuletide Courting’ is an ancient ritual that many Pure-blood wizards – and all members of the Sacred 28 – go through when choosing their intended. Depending on the family, and the circumstances, they may have prearranged engagements; these are classified as ‘Private Courtships’ but must still be put through these stages to officially confirm the match; where able the preferred method is a public, open, Courting.

A notice is published to the public on the 1st of December announcing their intention of beginning the ritual. Ten Courting Rituals are chosen from the suitable options for the time by the Courtee and their family. There are currently over forty listed Rituals to choose from. Some of these Rituals are mandatory (e.g the Bonfire, Family Ties, ect.) to confirm stages of the Courtship Ritual; most are chosen by the family to identify the best match. Multiple suitors proceed through the stages of courting, they leave, or are dismissed, as they are deemed unsuitable or uninterested.

Nb. The largest number of suitors ever recorded for one hand was fifty-seven in 1387. Shortly after this the courtship was withdrawn and rules were put in place around the use of Amortentia through Courtship Rituals. No connection between these two changes has been recorded.

 
——————————————————————————————————– Draco stared out across the manor grounds, watching the peacocks dart in and out of the dry safety of their hideouts. The drizzling rain was pounding against the window, a crack in the glass letting in a small but constant drip of water.‘I think we’re done.’ Blaise flicked through the papers again, looking up for a response.Draco’s reflection locked eyes with him, the dark grey was piercing even when not looking directly at him.‘You think I’m being foolish, don’t you?’ He muttered, still not daring to face his friend.Blaise offered him a lazy smile, folding up the papers, slipping them into his suitcase and standing to join him at the window.‘I’m not going to lie, it’s not how I expected this to happen. You deserve love Draco, I’m not sure you’ve really ever known what it feels like. But I’m hardly going to judge how you live your life. If you think this is the way to get the future you want, then you’re usually annoyingly right with this kind of thing. I just hope it makes you happy.’Draco snorted, turning to pull him into a tight hug, the warmth was a comfort.‘You have far too much of your mother’s sentiment. You should know that ridiculous notions like love will not keep a Malfoy household running.’Blaise lingered as Draco pulled back, kissing his cheek before pulling away.‘I’m just hoping it will rub off on you.’ Blaise chuckled at the disgusted eye roll that earnt him.Looking around the room you wouldn’t guess it. The fire was crackling in the hearth, the furniture was antique, luxurious, but comfortable and newly upholstered in tasteful but new fashion. The rich, dark oak floorboards were recently polished. Every nook and cranny was perfectly dusted, a clear sign of dedicated house elves which not many households had anymore since the freedom rallies.It all looked like the perfect, rich, Pure-blood drawing room.It was only when you looked closer that you saw the cracks.The signs of Draco’s struggle.Some quite literal like that damn window he wouldn’t let Blaise pay to fix, others in the paintings that didn’t quite fit the colour palate, put on the walls to cover curse burns still there from the war and the careless Auror raids afterwards. Anything that the house elves and Draco couldn’t do by hand themselves was left as it was. He was good at maintaining appearances, a particularly impressive Malfoy skill. It wasn’t for lack of getting his hands dirty, there was just a limit to what anyone could do on their own, without money, and Draco had finally reached that point.If someone was to look at Draco with the same eye, they’d pick up the same minor details. At first glance, he was perfect.He always made sure that’s what was seen.But, the shadows under his eyes were an easy giveaway to anyone who knew him. His hair wasn’t as slicked back as it was in high school, but was still combed flat, out of his face, the ends brushed his shoulders at the nap of his neck, very in style for high society at the moment – long hair was out of style. It was perfectly presented upon greeting, not a strand out of place, but about ten minutes into any conversation with him it was tousled, a strand falling over his eye and constantly being twisted behind his ear where it didn’t stay. His part fell slightly to the side and most of his hair brushed gently at his shoulders. Blaise would have said it looked better on him that way, if he didn’t know it was just another sign of his stress.Maybe it was time for drastic measures.Maybe this would give Draco someone else in hiss life who cared about how he was going.One person caring for them wasn’t enough to keep anyone going. Especially for someone like Draco who seemed to get his energy from the attention of the people around him. He’d been a pariah since the Final Battle. Retribution debts to pay, but no formal charges, his father was in Azkaban for life and his mother had passed away last year around this time.Christmas was going to be hard on his own.Besides, all the depressing details of why they were doing this put to the side, this could be fun.‘Christmas Courting’s are always fantastically entertaining to watch anyway.’ Blaise bumped Draco’s side, grinning toothily at him to lighten the mood. ‘I’ll consider it your present to me this year.’ Hopefully that meant Draco wouldn’t try to spend time or money on that again at least.Draco huffed, leaning into him all the same.‘It’s Yuletide Courting. If I’m going traditional you may as well call it the right name.’‘Whatever you say.’ Blaise smiled, watching a brief scuffle between the birds on the lawn before glancing back at his briefcase that had the list. ‘And you’re sure about the Courtship events you’ve chosen? Potions Proof might scare some people off … and Lock and Key …’ He didn’t want to say it, Draco had no such qualms.‘That’s the point. If they don’t trust me, if they don’t want to be publicly connected with me, then I don’t want the to even apply. Besides, there are at least three other Courtships running, that’s why we have the Bonfire and Lock and Key, there would be … talk,’ he sneered at the word as though it had personally offended him, ‘… if I was the only one not to participate in them.’It made sense. It was tactical, cautious and clever, all things Blaise had never associated with any romance worth his time. But it wasn’t his life. If Draco wouldn’t let him help support him financially then he was going to support him in every other way.This time, it was a kind of haggling father, glorified chaperone and entertained spectator for the 10 Chosen Courtship events over the 25 days leading to Christmas.He could do that.Draco, as usual, had the harder role. He needed people to fall for him, or, at the very least, put up with him in public. His parents might not have had the typical marriage of love, but one thing he knew Draco had taken from them was the sense of family. He may not have wanted romance, or any of the complicated feelings that came along with it, but he wanted a partner; one willing to face anything life could throw at him and stand by his side. And life, it seemed, could throw a hell of a lot at the Malfoy’s. Draco especially.The first task was logging his intentions with the Ministry. It was already out in the papers as of this morning, but that was the way bureaucracy that didn’t want Pure-blood things to work, worked. They had to begin it, then let them know it had begun, before they could get approval to do the damn thing. They were opposed to any Pure-blood things at the best of times, and, technically, this could be seen as a Pure-blood ritual of sorts. It needed to be logged and approved on the day it began, one of the many hoops to discourage the whole thing. Draco wouldn’t be the only one signing up for it this year – plenty of Pure-bloods wanted to rebuild their connections, show that not all of their traditions were evil – but he would be the only one trying to walk through the Ministry with his head held high and the mark of a Death Eater on his arm.Blaise had offered to do this for him. Blaise was always offering. He’d been turned down. This was Draco’s first move to be seen differently. He was dressed perfectly for it. It was probably his only outfit still holding together by its own merit and not House Elf magic. He looked ready. This was one of his final plays to be viewed as anything by society and every move had to be played perfectly.This month would either build his family back up or destroy the name completely.December 1st …It was time to begin. — ‘Did you hear? Draco Malfoy is running a Christmas Courting.’ A voice whispered; it was a semi-hushed stage whisper at best.Harry groaned, head down as he wove through more people. This was the Ministry for Merlin’s sake; didn’t anyone have anything better to talk about? Or, wild thought, didn’t anyone else have work to do? There were reports he was waiting on, new tasks to be assigned, debriefs to do.‘Are you serious? Wow, still Pure-blood as ever.’No, apparently not. Holding everyone up for their morning coffee fix was the perfect time to discuss Malfoy’s love life. Joy.‘It’s terrible, I wonder if he’ll even get enough people applying to proceed to the second stage? And he doesn’t have any family left, who the hell’s running it?’Apply, that’s right, he had to put in a new application for holidays, he said he’d done it ages ago … but work got in the way. It always did. If he got it in now, he’d probably get it approved, it’s enough notice, right? It’s only … Crap, how the hell is it December already?‘The article says the gifts are to be presented to Blaise Zabini. That’s sad. Who has a friend oversee this kind of thing?’Right, yup, gifts … Christmas shopping. He still had a month to get people crap at least. Maybe he’d have time this week? Today, after his meeting with Kingsley? No, they always ran late. Thursday? No, he cancelled on Teddy last week, he couldn’t do that to him again. Oh well, there was still a month, he’d find time …‘And a Zabini? He’s not going to take it seriously. Are his family even Pure-blood? They’re not part of the Sacred Twenty-Eight.’They were still talking about that? Wasn’t the Half-blood/Pure-blood stuff not meant to matter anymore?‘It’s insane.’‘It’s pathetic.’Insults out of the way they stepped aside, finally moving away from the liquid life they had been keeping him from. Out of the main tearoom their voices dropped to actual whispers, no one but Harry would have been able to hear them there as he pulled out his special coffee mug, about double the size of normal issue ones.‘Will your family apply?’ One man continued.‘Of course. And yours?’ The first speaker confirmed.‘Wouldn’t miss it.’ The second voice agreed.Harry sighed, his hand curling around the warm handle of the glass jug, what hypocrites, the company some people keep. He pulled it out from the coffee station, it came easily, too light. The dregs were left in the bottom, Harry was almost tempted to just skull them, but there were people in the room. It probably wasn’t the appropriate thing to do.He poured it out and started the next jug of coffee, fingers taping on the benchtop, glancing over to the clock every now and then. The morning meeting started soon, but he had time. He out two spoons of sugar in the cup, ready to go as soon as it was and-‘Potter, we’re staring.’He sighed, staring forlornly at the coffee. It wasn’t ready. Nowhere near it. Damn it.‘On my way.’ He called back, tipping out his cup and rinsing it before hurrying down the hallway to his first meeting. He could get through this, then coffee before he got into the reports. That would work.Through the meeting with the department heads his focus wandered. Scribbling notes about what kind of presents he could buy, listing things to look into or chase up for his current case … it was a little disconcerting to see ‘jellybeans’ written beside ‘check stomach contents of the deceased’ but … he was being productive and working with a pre-coffee brain so … what did he expect? Thoughts of the conversation he’d heard that morning began to seep in as he tried to pay more attention to the meeting and the list … got worse.
Neighbour Interview

Patrol guys statement followed up

Scarves are good for Weasleys

Something dangerous for George

Poison?

Check stomach contents of deceased

Jellybeans

Those new magic room star things?

Malfoy Senior still in Azkaban?

Christmas Courting?

GET A CHRISTMAS TREE THIS YEAR!

Clean backyard

Work Christmas Party – 24th

Find witness for argument at work

Secret Santa

Who’s Malfoy’s Fiancée?

Condolence’s card

Alcohol

Weeklong meditation retreat

Gag?
Okay, he definitely needed his coffee … and to throw out most of that list.People around the table finally started moving, pushing their chairs back and breaking off into smaller groups to continue some conversation. That meant Harry was FREE. He slipped out of his chair, shoving all of the papers he’d pulled out for the meeting under his arm along with a stray folder that had been forced on him and hurried out the door before he was caught in one of the smaller groups.The tea trolly was rolled in to mark the official end of the meeting and Harry quickly got his hands wrapped around a warm cup of coffee. Inhaling deeply as the steam fogged up his glasses, he held back a sigh of relief as his brain began to wake up. FINALLY.‘Oh, Potter-’ Called a voice from behind him just as he opened the door, taking his first step out into the corridor.‘Oh, Gerrick, really sorry, I have back to back meetings this morning so-’ he looked over his shoulder to offer an apologetic shrug, so close … one more step.  His shoulder collided into someone rushing past, the folder and papers that were in his hands scattered to the floor, but he managed to keep his feet. Better than the other party at least. His cup was tilted, more than half of the steaming liquid spilt across what looked like a silk shirt of the man he’d run into. Shit. People always got pissy when something got spilt on silk … and half a cup was not enough to hold him until morning tea …He managed a rough, apologetic chuckle, hoping that the ‘Chosen One’ awkwardness would get him out of being yelled at this early in the morning. He held one hand down to the lithe figure sprawled on the floor.‘Sorry about that, couldn’t see anything around the door, and these corridors-’His eyes roamed slowly over the figure in front of him. Clean, dark grey pants draped over long, lean legs, pulling across well-muscled thighs as one leg pulled up to right himself. The white, silk shirt cinched in at the thin waist, his thick, black cloak sprawled open around him to show off his figure. Then the head tilted back to look up at him.Pinched, pale face- crap.Long fingers batted the platinum blond hair off his face and steely grey eyes pierced through Harry. ‘-Shit. Malfoy.’Yup, he was going to spend his coffee-less morning being yelled at. Joy.The disapproving eyes dropped to his limp, outstretched hand and dismissed it as he pulled himself to his feet. Harry could see his shoulders tense as he stared at the stain still spreading across his shirt, he offered out the thin paper napkin that he’d gotten with his cup, but … well, it had coffee over it already and was similarly dismissed. Well, it wasn’t like he couldn’t afford a new one. Malfoy took his time to rearrange himself, running his hands carefully down his shirt even though it was far too damaged to make a difference. From the shine it looked like one of the special, magic resistant ones that Harry swore people just wore to say “that’s right, I made a House Elf clean this by hand”.  That made him feel a little less guilty about the whole thing at least.‘Look, I’m sorry-’ He tried, though there wasn’t really anything he could offer and the words sounded sarcastic when spoken to a Malfoy, even if he honestly meant them, probably …Malfoy didn’t look up, pulling his open robe in at an angle to hide the worst of the coffee stain.‘Not a problem, Potter. They say you embody the best of our fine Aurors; it was a pleasure to have a front row seat to see the perception and reflexes that you boys tout in action.’ He mumbled lowly, his words clipped and clear in his posh accent, spoken quietly enough that no one passing by would have heard any of them.Harry paused, taking a long sip of his half-empty coffee before responding. Shouting at the man he’d crashed into wouldn’t look great, and the coffee was still scalding hot, burning his tongue. Good. He could accept that the punishment had come before the crime and put the stupid comments aside. They were grown-ups now for Merlin’s sake- or they could at least act like it while he was at work. He just needed something else for them to discuss. Something safe.‘Actually Malfoy, this might have been great timing, if poorly timed.’ Harry spoke loud enough that some people nearby stopped at the name and Malfoy was pressed into giving him a forced half smile for the terrible pun, maybe harassing him in public was the way to go? He’d have to remember that in future. Malfoy was always running these interactions at school but here he had the audience on his side.‘There’s a case that you might be able to help me with if you have time? From what I’ve read in the papers it doesn’t look like you’ve been up to much at all lately, so I assume it wouldn’t be a hassle.’There were sniggers at the dig from some that had subtly stopped other conversations in the hallway. He knew he was milking it, and it was beyond childish. But it was his turn to win one of their encounters and with a coffee-stained Malfoy in front of him it seemed like the perfect time. Besides, there was a case. The second he’d seen the peacock feather in the evidence bag he’d thought of Malfoy, and then tried really hard to think of anything else because he wasn’t going to be one of those shitty Auror’s who kept harassing him for a mistake he’d made as a child. No, this wasn’t about the tattoo on his arm. This was about a petty childish rivalry, and he figured Malfoy would probably get that.The case, however, didn’t have any reason to point to him except for the feather and so Harry hadn’t let it go in that direction. It didn’t really point in any other direction though, so even if it was a long shot, even if they both hated the interaction, even if it led to nothing more than him getting a few swipes in at Malfoy in the middle of the corridor in the morning before he’d had enough coffee to think better of the whole thing, he’d take it.Malfoy managed a strained smile as his eyes skirted around the corridor to see who was actually listening. Harry might have worked there but he was willing to bet that Malfoy knew each of the people standing around better than he did and he clearly decided it wasn’t worth making a fuss.‘Of course, Auror Potter, only to happy to help. I’m assuming this would be in a freelance consultant compacity?’There was something beyond the awkward grit to his tone, something that almost seemed on the verge of panicked. Back at school he wasn’t that great at reading people, at situations really, but his time calming people in interrogation rooms had paid off. He might not judge Malfoy as a Death Eater, but from his tone there was little doubt that a few people in the corridor would be eager to make that leapt of assumption.‘Of course. It’s just a tricky case and there’s a bit of evidence I suspect you’d have a bit of an expert eye for. If it wouldn’t be an imposition.’ He’d never be cruel enough to try to push that kind of advantage. It seemed like, for possibly the first time ever, he’d said the right thing to Malfoy. The smile softened just enough that he could have almost mistaken it for gratitude. It was barely a noticeable change on Malfoy’s face, probably not even a twitch for anyone else, but Harry was sure his dopey, proud, toothy grin back was obvious to everyone. Malfoy was nice enough to look away, quickly continuing the conversation in his clipped, well put together, doing everything on purpose, tone.‘No imposition at all. I’m sure I can make time to help out where you so desperately need the aid.’So, the conversation was still really just snide digs at each other tacked together in a way that made a semblance of sense. He’d still got Malfoy to agree to help him. That was going to be his main riddle for the day. Now he just needed his brain to function long enough to close off the conversation without making an idiot of himself. He kneeled down, taking the time to collect the papers that had been forgotten since he realised who he’d run into. Unfortunately, it seemed like Malfoy – for possibly the first time in his life – was following the whole one good turn deserves another thing and knelt down to help him.Malfoy stooped down to pick up the scrap of paper off the floor that was closest to him. Harry thought he had all his sheets, flicking through them subtly to make sure no confidential information was about to land in the hands of a Malfoy. Nope, he had everything. Except-He looked up slowly, eyes narrowing behind his glasses to quint at the list in Draco’s hand.Oh Shit!Malfoy stood slowly, reading over the list as he straightened the sides of his cloak once more.‘-Potter … what the hell is this?’ Back to speaking quietly enough so as not to be heard, not that it really helped with everyone leaning in now.Harry’s mind sparked, nothing connecting in time to make up an excuse.‘-A list of things to do … and buy …?’He watched as Malfoy’s eyes scanned the list again, slower this time.‘And these few at the end?’ His voice was low, threatening the danger of answering that question.‘Gift ideas-’ He couldn’t convince his tongue to stop working. ‘For your fiancée?’‘Alcohol?’ A safe enough item, he could answer that- but that wasn’t all that was on the list, ‘A gag?’The delivery was flat. Harry knew he was in trouble but without the tone it was hard to work out just how much. Or maybe no tone meant he should just already be running. Australia should at least be warm this time of year, and he’d heard they had coffee?‘Because … you know … you talk a lot.’ Pot, kettle; why the hell couldn’t he shut up?!‘… I see. How … thoughtful of you.’ His lip curled up as he said the words, looking up from the list to look over Harry again.That sneer. Merlin, he remembered that sneer. There was a bit more of a Snape vibe to it now he’d grown into it which absolutely added to making him feel like an idiot.‘I’ll … uhhh … get you that thing for the case, tomorrow. Okay?’ Harry glanced around him, there were still snickers in the hallway but that could be at either of them now.Malfoy seemed completely unaware of it, back to glaring at the paper in his hand as though it had committed the insult all by itself.‘I’ll be at Blaise’s tomorrow.’ He muttered, possibly to himself, possibly to the paper, but Harry chose to assume it was to him.‘Right. Well. I’ll bring it there then.’ He managed it with a tone of decisiveness he definitely didn’t feel, then snatched the paper out of Malfoy’s hand and spun on his heal, heading off down the corridor, leaving a coffee stained, confused, Malfoy behind him.To be fair, he wasn’t even sure why he took the paper. There was something about leave no evidence at the scene of the crime going through his head but he tried not to think about it. He tried not to think about that moment of admiring Malfoy before he knew it was him, but he had grown up well … He tried not to think of that moment of a soft smile. What else there could be that he’d just never had the chance to see at Hogwarts.Then he looked down at the list and was sharply reminded that he was a idiot and he had a shitload to do.At least the damn feather thing would be in someone else’s hands for a while. In a way that was progress.

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