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Snow Fall

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It begins to snow the morning of Christmas Eve. The flurries just start to appear when Hermione gets back from her morning run. Once she kicks off her trainers and hangs her jacket in the entry, she goes to the sitting room window to watch it fall, pulling her wand free from the bun twisted on the top of her head. 

The flakes are sparkling in the morning light. Hermione’s panting, still catching her breath as she watches, rubbing her hands together to warm her fingertips. There’s a bright fire crackling merrily in the hearth. The cold doesn’t penetrate the warmth of the sitting room where a small Christmas tree stands in one corner, decorated with baubles and tinsel and glittering fairy-glass ornaments that are all perfectly matched. The scent of pine and cedar wreaths fills the air, paired with cinnamon and clove oranges.

There is quiet cosiness to the cottage combined with a feeling of newness about the room; empty walls, odd bare spots over the hearth and tables, as though the surfaces are still waiting for just the right knick-knack to find its way there and make a home. The wall of bookshelves is almost full, but there are still boxes at the foot of them. Several shelves are occupied by duplicate copies of certain titles, waiting in pairs while their respective owners debate whose copy should be kept. 

It’s a home, but one that isn’t yet assembled in full. 

Hermione’s eyes flutter closed, savouring the quiet until she hears soft footsteps approach, coming to a stop beside her. Her eyes open and she looks out the window a moment longer.

“Look, it started snowing,” she says.

 “I noticed,” is all the reply Draco gives as he slips a mug of tea into her chilled hands. She leans back against his chest, and they stand together watching for a few minutes in silence.

 “I used to dream about white Christmases when I was little,” she says. “It would be a bit like a fairy tale to have it snow for our first Christmas.”

She glances up at him. His features are sharp as cut glass, and the corner of his mouth quirks as he stares back at her. She slips her left hand back and finds his, entwining their fingers and pulling his arm around her waist. He rests his chin on the top of her head, and his thumb rubs slowly back and forth across her wedding band as if he still isn’t quite used to finding it there.

“Maybe it will stick,” she says after a few minutes.

 “Did you have things you did growing up, when you got snowed in?” she asks while chopping vegetables.

Draco is standing a few feet away, prepping veal shanks, entirely indifferent to the weather outside, unlike Hermione who has spent half the day glued to the windows. There’s an apron tied around his hips, his sleeves carefully rolled up to the elbows. His wand has been laid aside on a shelf as he unwraps the butcher paper, inspecting each piece with a critical eye. 

“Snowed in?” He glances up.

She nods. “You know when you can’t travel because there’s so much snow outside that it’s not safe.”

His eyebrows furrow and he looks briefly uncomfortable, the way he always tends to when a ‘cultural’ difference between them happens to come up.  “Wizarding folk don’t generally have that issue. Floo, apparition, portkeys, there’s usually some way to travel regardless of the weather.”

Hermione pauses, chewing thoughtfully on a carrot stick. “Oh, of course. I suppose as long as you have a wand, there’s a way.”

She places the carrots into a bowl, alongside several others filled with diced onions, celery, and prepared herbs, checking that they’re all neatly uniform before turning and pouring herself a glass of wine. 

 She perches on the edge of the kitchen table, watching as Draco begins shaping and tying the veal with kitchen twine. 

 It’s one of the first evenings during the holidays that they have just the two of them. Between Christmas parties, Ministry Department parties, a Ministry ball, the little get-togethers, and friends visiting from other parts of Europe, there’s always been something. Blaise Zabini is back from Italy, Charlie has returned from Romania, and Luna just finished an expedition in South America. 

 Their social circles have yet to integrate in any meaningful way, which results in a busier holiday social calendar than either of them want. 

Christmas Eve, they agreed, would be theirs, and then Christmas day they’ll be back on the social circuit until New Year. Hermione is already dreading it. 

She shoves the thought away and focuses instead on the view at hand.

“I know I say this all the time,” she says after a minute, “but I still find it surreal that you cook.”

 He raises an eyebrow. “I had to do something while wandless under house-arrest and not just wallow about angsting the way some people like to claim I do.”

Hermione gives an indelicate snort. 

He glances up at her. “Paid off for me in spades too. Wouldn’t you say?” 

 A smile plays on her lips as she cradles her glass. “Did it?”

“Yes. A certain know-it-all Unspeakable was rather impressed by the revelation that the hands she was so frequently caught staring at were capable of more than brewing potions for her.”

“That’s not—” She chokes and blushes. “It was my materials and my lab, I had to make sure you were preparing things properly.”

“Of course, you were being responsible as the diligent researcher that you are,” he says with a mock salute. “You simply watched closely in order to steal my brewing secrets.”

“I wasn’t stealing them,” she says, scowling. “The reason you were allowed there was to demonstrate your methodology for stabilizing Wolfsbane Potion. I wasn’t sitting around—ogling you.”

Draco says nothing in reply, but the ghost of a smile lurking in his features is sufficiently damning all on its own. 

She pretends not to see it, sniffing and primly sipping at her wine. “I can’t believe that I didn’t realise sooner you were sourcing the techniques from Muggle cooking.” 

He straightens, sighing and staring at the ceiling for a moment. “I can’t believe I wasted over a year attempting to charm you with my personality and potion craft, and it turned out that all I’d needed to do was say ‘The reason I know this is because I cook. Let me make you dinner sometime.’”

Hermione flushes with affront and gulps a mouthful of wine.

“You’re making it sound like you said, ‘I can cook you dinner,’ and I immediately proceeded to throw my knickers at you,” she finally says in a severe voice. 

“I’d never.” Draco hid a grin. “As I recall, it took three meals—”

“Four. It wasn’t until the fourth,” she says, endeavouring to hide her blush behind her wine glass.

His left eyebrow quirks up, his eyes sly as a fox. “I don’t remember eating that meal until the next morning. Does it count? Wasn't it—”

Her ears burn. “You had to prepare it, so, yes, it definitely contributed and therefore it counts as four. Anyway,” she clears her throat. “I agree that you should have led with cooking.”

He finishes dredging and dusts his hands off. “Well, as much as I would have gladly skipped the year of unrequited pining while I was killing myself in the lab in the hopes of impressing you, it was probably necessary. After all, if I’d invited you to dinner at my flat too early, you might have assumed I was trying to get you out of the Ministry in order to murder you.” 

Hermione’s cheerful mood vanishes abruptly and she shifts. “Don’t say that. I never thought that. Ron should never have made that joke.”

Draco scoffs under his breath before catching himself and shrugging. “It’s fine. Weasley and I are civil now, remember? We played darts for an entire hour just yesterday.” 

His voice is light, but she recognises the lurking expression in his eyes. It’s the way he looks when they’ve been anywhere for too long and he feels viscerally out of place. It’s been eating at him, accumulating from one evening out after another, and now it’s all surfacing. The hidden exhaustion of being tolerated.  

Her throat tightens and she studies him carefully. “You know, Draco, we don’t have to go tomorrow. If you—”

He stiffens and his expression instantly shutters. “We’re already committed to it,” he says as he sets the veal aside and pulls out a cast iron pan, setting it on the stove. “It’ll be fine. We’ll have a lovely time.” 

The pan is nearly rippling heat, and he still hasn’t said anything else as he turns and begins searing the veal. The meat makes a sharp, sizzling sound that fills the air as it browns.

She stares at him pensively, fidgeting with the stem of her glass. “It’s mostly in the morning. Once we’ve done breakfast and presents—I don’t mind—we could go to the Manor for—”

“I already told my mother not to expect us,” he says, cutting her off. 

He inhales, still not looking up. “Christmas is your favourite holiday, so we’ll spend it with your friends.” 

He says it evenly, with a flat note of finality. His expression is closed, making it abundantly clear that he doesn’t want to talk about it any longer. 

Hermione draws a deep breath and watches as he sets the seared shanks aside and begins adding Hermione’s vegetables to the pan. 

The silence is oppressive. Tired. Their intentions of forcibly bridging a stubborn social gap hadn’t taken into account how draining it would be; that most of the time they spent alone together would end up devoted to decompressing from it all.

 She lets out a quiet sigh and glances out the window to find that the falling snow has slowed to only a few scattered flakes. She sets her wine glass down and steps over to the kitchen window for a minute before turning back. “Do you need help with anything else?”

“I think I’ve got it.” Draco’s tone is still withdrawn. 

 “I need to go check something. I’ll be right back.”

She pulls a jacket and scarf on before slipping her feet into her boots. The world outside is crisply cold and sparkling. The snow never did much more than flurry, but everything is lightly dusted. She exhales, watching her breath rise up like a cloud. She holds out a mittened hand and catches one of the last falling flakes. The late afternoon sun is beginning to penetrate the clouds overhead. 

She walks into the front garden and then turns to find Draco looking out the window at her. His eyebrows are furrowed, just a little, in a way that would be interpreted as moodiness by most, but she knows him well enough to recognise the carefully concealed uncertainty in his expression.

She smiles and waves, trying to be reassuring. He returns it tentatively but keeps staring until she turns and makes her way around the corner of the house. 

She comes back inside fifteen minutes later. 

The oven is on, the kitchen surfaces have been cleaned, and every knife and pan has been returned to their exactingly selected places. Draco is standing by the sink, shucking oysters. 

She pauses in the doorway, watching him, limned by the winter light. She tilts her head to the side as she pulls her scarf off. His pale fingers slot the knife into the hinge of each shell before he twists his wrist sharply.

“Everything alright out there?” His voice is still withdrawn.

“Yes, I just wanted to check something,” she says as she steps up beside him. 

Unless he stops and leans down, she’s too short to kiss his cheek, so she presses what’s become a customary kiss against his shoulder.

It’s one of those little things that developed along with their relationship. When he’s moody and withdrawn, it brings him back to her. It’s become her way of reminding him that she isn’t going anywhere. The first time, it had been impulsive, trying to jostle him out of his thoughts, and when it worked, she did it again the next time. Now it’s a habit; one of those things that say everything without saying anything. 

Draco’s hands pause mid-motion. 

He turns and drops a kiss right on the top of her head. 

Ritual complete. 

“You have snowflakes in your hair,” he says. It’s an incidental, off-handed observation, but the cadence of his voice is the point. That stressed, closed-off tension has faded away and he’s come back to her from whatever worry his mind had taken him. 

She meets his eyes as she reaches up to brush them free. “It started snowing again while I was outside, so maybe we will get that White Christmas I want.”

She hops onto the edge of the table and resumes watching him.

The way that he cooks and the way that he brews potions is identical, and she knows this because of all the time she’s spent watching him. That meticulous attention to detail, the contemplative precision. She had loved watching him in the lab, but the intimacy of cooking is unique. No one else cares for Muggle prepared cuisine. The effort of the process is seen as excessive. Hand preparation is for potions, why take the time when a household charm can do it for you?

Because of that, cooking is something Draco does only for her. 

After a few minutes, he sets his knife down and looks piercingly at her. “Do you intend to bite your lip like that the entire time that I work?”

Hermione’s teeth instantly release her lower lip as she looks up guiltily from the tendons she was admiring in his forearms. 

“I’m enjoying the view.” She waves her hand imperiously. “Keep going.”

He glances down, squeezing a wedge of lemon over the oyster in his hand before he steps towards her. Her breath catches in her throat, and she squirms as he stops in front of her, close enough that his trousers brush against her knees.

He stares down at her through hooded eyes, gaze fastened on her lips.

 “Open your mouth,” he says after a moment.

She inhales as her lips part slowly.

He rests the shell against her lower lip. 

“Inhale. Chew twice. Swallow,” he says as if this isn’t the hundredth oyster he’s hand-fed her.

Despite that, she still blushes as he tilts the shell up.

The cold, slippery oyster slides into her mouth, briny and sharpened by the lemon juice. He stares intently down at her while she chews and then swallows slowly

“Good?” he says, cocking his head to the side.

Her face is burning as she nods. “Very—fresh.” 

His jaw twitches and he stares at her with a martyred expression of aggravation as his shoulders slump petulantly. “Fresh? That’s all you have to say about them? You still can’t admit you like them?”

 “I—” she starts and then lowers her eyes, trying to look demure as if this isn’t the hundredth argument they’ve had about oysters, “do not entirely hate them anymore.”

He’s beginning to sulk. “How can you not like oysters?”

She struggles not to laugh as he stands glowering. This is the Draco that she knows, not the withdrawn one who vanishes defensively into himself.

“I’m sorry. I know this is important to you, but you are not going to make me like oysters. They’re too cold and slippery, I can’t get over the texture and the taste is just sort of—” 

She gestures ambiguously in midair as she glances out the window. It’s beginning to snow again, large feather-like flakes swirling down from a darkening sky. 

Draco sighs and sets the shell aside. “You don’t have to eat them. You’re the one who said to buy oysters. If I’d known you still didn’t like them, I wouldn’t—” 

She straightens. “I don’t dislike them anymore,” she says quickly “And, more importantly, I don’t object to the way you feed them to me while trying to convince me to like them.” She looks up at him through her lashes. “That’s why I said we should buy them. I could easily be prevailed upon to eat several more, at the very least.”

Draco pauses, and his eyes glint a split-second before his hands find her knees, fingers pressing them together even as his body seems to loom in closer. Her breath catches in her throat, and her heart rate shoots up.

“Could you?” He has the ability to do the most inappropriate things to her with his voice. A quick flush of warmth runs down her spine as she gives a little nod.

“You realise,” he says in a relentless tone, “there are other things I can feed you; that I’m happy to feed you.”

She does, but she adores how earnest he is about the alleged attributes of raw oysters.

“I know,” she whispers.

His head dips closer, and her mouth curves into a smile as their lips meet. 

 His long fingers slide up her legs, parting them, pulling her towards the edge of the table until his thigh is nearly pressed against her centre. 

He kisses her and then slowly draws back just enough to see her. Their noses barely touch as they look at one another. His hand comes up to cradle her cheek. 

“Wife,” he says, his voice reverent. “My wife.”

A shiver runs through her. 

“My husband,” she says in return.

He exhales, fingers tightening against her jaw and along her thigh as his head dips and their foreheads meet.

“Fuck,” he says. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to hearing you call me that.”

There is a bleeding warmth spreading through Hermione that isn’t because of the radiating heat from the oven or the crackling fire in the next room.

She catches her heel around his leg, pulling him a little nearer. “Maybe someday, but I hope it’s not for a long time.”

He gives a low laugh that vibrates through her. 

 “You know,” his voice is low, and his hard body is pressing close enough now that she’s beginning to arch to keep upright. “It was very practical of you to insist on a kitchen table.”

“Yes… it was a good idea, wasn’t it?”

 His fingers on her outer thigh slide in and further up, and Hermione isn’t breathing anymore by the time his hand slips under her clothes and he touches her. 

He breathes heavily against her shoulder. “Fuck. You’re so wet.”

Hermione can’t quite manage to verbalize anything in response. She bites her lip but that doesn’t suppress the moan that escapes as her hips roll, pressing against his fingertips.

“It’s fortunate we decided on Osso Bucco,” he continues in a dark, sinfully thick voice as he pushes her down onto the table, peeling her jeans down off her hips. “That gives me plenty of time.”

“Happy Christmas,” Hermione says when he stirs the next morning. She’s been sitting in bed for an hour, reviewing charts and a research paper that he would probably call work if he were lucid enough to notice and complain.

He’s not a morning person. 

In fact, he’d probably become entirely nocturnal if she let him.

He inhales and mumbles something that sounds very distantly related to “good morning” and slings an arm over his eyes, lying unmoving for several more minutes. 

Then he gives a long, slow sigh.

“What time are they expecting us?” he says, voice thick with sleep.

 Hermione drops the scroll onto the bedside table and turns to him. “We’re snowed in.” 

 There’s a long pause, and he pulls his arm away from his face to stare at her through blurry eyes. “We’re what?”

“Snowed in,” she says again as matter-of-factly as possible. “There was a blizzard last night.”

He looks so blankly confused she can almost see him trying to recall if there are any definitions for the word blizzard that he isn’t recalling.

She points towards the window, and Draco lifts his head enough to look out at the blanketed countryside. Long icicles hanging from the eaves, and the snowdrifts nearly obscuring the garden fence.

“See? So we won’t be able to go anywhere for Christmas.” She gives a resigned shrug.

“We won’t?” Draco sounds completely baffled. 

“No.” She shakes her head. “Our fireplace isn’t hooked into the Floo network yet, and we can’t apparate either because it seems we’ve misplaced our wands.”

He blinks and his eyebrows knit together. “We—we what?”

Hermione suppresses a smile. Mornings really aren’t the best time for him. This would be infinitely funnier if he were lucid enough to appreciate it.

She gives an innocent shrug. “They’re somewhere I’m sure, but they appear mislaid. So, we’re trapped at home together. Christmas will have to be just the two of us.”

She leans over him and combs his hair back. “You can go back to sleep. You don’t need to be up yet.”

“Alright.” He still sounds very bewildered, but he’s still tired enough to be docile.

He wraps an arm around her waist and is asleep again in seconds. 

He gets up an hour later and wanders into the kitchen while she’s warming pastries in the oven and frying sausage. 

He’s pulled his dressing robe on and his hair is tousled and hanging over his eyes, but he appears coherent now. He pours himself a cup of tea and then stands staring at Hermione while he drinks it. 

 “So,” he says at last, “we’ve lost our wands.”

Hermione doesn’t look away from the stove as she nods. 

“And we’re ‘snowed in’.”

 “Yes. It’s an almost unbelievable set of coincidences, don’t you think?” 

There’s a deafening silence, interrupted only by the sound of sizzling grease. 

Finally Draco sighs. “What exactly do Muggles do when snowed in?” 

 She shrugs and glances up at him. “Oh, normal things, puzzles, reading, bundling up and going for a walk in the snow, curling up in front of the fire to keep warm, lots of hot drinks.” 

 He stares at her through narrowed eyes until she’s done making breakfast. After they eat, there are presents. Hermione gives Draco a set of Japanese knives, and he goes into their room scowling and comes back with a wrapped book that she’s certain he’d bought for himself, but she accepts it with enthusiasm. 

 Most of the presents they receive are books. Everyone, it seems, sent them books of some variety. 

The sole exception is Lucius and Narcissa, who sent them an epergne. 

Draco sets the enormous over-wrought silver monstrosity on the coffee table and then drapes a despairing hand over his eyes while Hermione sits back appraising it.

“It’s very intricate,” she says after several minutes, trying to imagine it in the centre of their table, which can only seat four comfortably, or six uncomfortably. It is the most intentionally useless gift she has ever seen. 

“It would look better if we throw it into the river,” Draco says.

 They decide not to, because there’s a chance that someday Draco’s parents will visit their “quaint little home” in order to see if Hermione’s educated enough to know what to do with an epergne. They stash it in the far corner of the attic and then bundle up and go for a walk to see the river as a form of consolation.

The snow has piled up above Hermione’s knees in some places, soft and downy and perfect for snowballs. After they’ve trekked along the river and around the nearby field, she confirms the snow’s quality by making a snowball the size of a quaffle and clocking Draco in the head with it.

In retaliation, he chases her across a field and tackles her into a snowdrift. Some wrestling ensues in her attempts to escape. By the time they get back to the cottage, they’re both soaked from melting snow and shivering almost violently. 

 “You know,” he says as he stomps his boots to knock the snow off them and glances with a plaintive air towards Hermione. “We’d be warm again in a matter of seconds if we had our wands.”

“Yes,” Hermione says, panting and clumsily trying to untie the laces on her boots with stiff fingers, “it’s very sad that we lost them. We’ll have to figure out other ways of getting warm.”

 Draco mutters something unintelligible under his breath as he jerks his gloves off with his teeth and helps her peel her coat off. 

There is snow everywhere inside the outer layers of their clothing. They leave it in a pile in the entryway and go huddle in front of the fireplace.

“See? We don’t even need magic,” Hermione says, pressing her back firmly against his bare chest in an attempt to absorb more of his body heat as she pulls a large quilt tightly around them both.

“No,” his tone is as dry as plain toast. “This is almost exactly as convenient as magic.” 

 Hermione ignores his sulking and cuddles closer.

 “It’s fortunate we have an Everburning Flame in our fireplace or we’d be fucked,” he says.

“Not necessarily,” Hermione says, her voice sly. “There’s a number of ways to stay warm in severe weather without magic. What we’re doing right now is actually a method of conserving body heat to prevent hypothermia and frostbite.”

“Really?” Draco sounds curious. 

The corner of her mouth quirks up secretively. “I can show you a few other techniques I know about, if you’re interested.” 

Her hand slides slowly up his thigh, and she feels his breath catch.

“Well, I suppose.” He’s sounding less petulant about the lack of magic now. 

She shifts so that she’s facing him. 

“Well,” she draws herself up, “the first thing is to do what we’re doing: get out of the elements, remove wet clothing, and share body heat by staying close together.”

His eyes are glittering. “About how close together?”

“Very close, I’m afraid,” She wriggles under the quilt, shifting nearer until she’s on his lap, straddling him, her legs bracketing his hips, hands on his shoulders, their faces nearly touching. 

“This way—” her breathing grows a little shorter, “—we’re sharing our body heat. Warms us both. See?”

His hand slowly presses against the small of her back, arching her closer.

“Mmm. Yes. Very practical. I understand completely,” he says when her hips shift against his.

“Then,” she wets her lips, inhaling unsteadily, “it can be necessary to remove any remaining layers. Skin to skin is warmest, you know. For survival.”

Draco gives a hum of agreement.

“Right.” He pulls her silk camisole up over her head and then uses his fingers to comb her curls back from her eyes. “It’s a good thing you have me for body heat. What is this useless thing you were wearing?” He tosses it over his shoulder. “If we’re going to be losing our wands every time blizzards spontaneously materialize, I’m going to have to start keeping you in flannels. Who bought you something so useless?”

She laughs under her breath. “I used to have very practical underwear, and then someone salacious replaced it all.” 

“Oh shush.” He runs his hands slowly over her bare skin and then tilts her backwards until she’s lying beneath him as he pulls her knickers down her legs and she shoves his drawers off. 

He’s kneeling over her, the weight just barely resting on her, propped on his forearms so that they frame her head as he stares at her. “Alright. Nude. Skin to skin. Now what?”

She bites her lip. “Well, in severe weather conditions, it’s not just a matter of getting warm but staying warm. It’s important to stay awake and keep the heart rate up, to maintain our body temperature. For example…”

Her fingers wander down between them until she finds him, already pressed hard against her thigh, and she sees his pulse quicken. She slides her hand slowly down before tugging up. His head drops. He buries his face against her shoulder as he gives a groan and his hips bear down against her hand, body curling in against hers. Heat floods through her.

“Warmer, right?” Her voice is breathy. 

“Yeah.” He sounds strained, fingers twisting in her hair as she keeps touching him. A quick tug, a slow stroke, sliding her thumb slowly along the spot she knows he’s most sensitive and feeling his entire body jerk. 

One of his hands slithers down to squeeze her breast, his thumb circling the nipple so that her breath catches sharply in her throat and heat flares in her pelvis.

“We have to go very slowly,” she says, fighting to keep her voice even and biting back a moan. “To stay warm—” 

Her voice breaks off in a gasp as he caresses her just the way he knows she likes it.

She pulls his hand away and pushes him down until she’s on top. “You can’t just grope me indiscriminately,” she says with mock severity. “ I have to show you how it’s done. There’s a specific technique to this.” 

He narrows his silver eyes as he stares up at her, pale skin and hair gilded with firelight. “Yes. This all appears to be extremely scientific.” 

“Mhm,” she says, kissing him, body pressed against his, fingers running down his neck. She nips across his collarbones, luxuriating in the weight of his hands on her back. Her shoulders arch up involuntarily as his fingers trail along her spine. 

“Where did you learn this?” he asks as she kisses down his torso, nipping at him, running her fingers across his skin, feeling the unevenness of the scars slashed across his chest. ‘Is there someone I need to be jealous of?”

She snorts. “I’m extrapolating. Significantly.” 

“Ah. Very good. Just verifying—” 

She reaches his hip with her mouth. She slips her body between his legs, running her hand up his thigh while her tongue follows the v of his pelvis, and he gives an incoherent groan, gripping her shoulder as his cock twitches eagerly. She ignores it in favour of touching him everywhere else.

“Slowly, remember,” she says in almost a whisper. “Very slow.”

 Finally, she wraps her fingers around him and gives a long lick. He groans and then bites his lip as she keeps going. She can see the tendons in his neck as he tenses and a guttural gasp escapes him. A shivering warmth quick as an electric shock runs through her. She keeps moving slowly, sliding her hand teasingly up and down while she laps lightly across his skin. When his knuckles are twisted into the quilt so tightly that she thinks he may tear it, she finally parts her lips. 

He stops breathing and doesn’t move as she takes the tip into her mouth, his gaze hot enough to burn.

His chest jerks and she feels him throb as she runs the tip of her tongue up the length of him. 

“Oh fuuuck.” His stomach ripples, the muscles stark as he goes rigid, his hand closing into a fist, gripping at her hair and then releasing as he hisses and his head drops back, the sound cutting through the air. Her head bobs down, tongue curling, anticipation rushing through her veins and across her skin as she loosens her jaw, taking him deeper. Deep as she can before she bobs up, flicking the tip of her tongue against the underside.

 She inhales and then repeats the motion. He moans and his hand finds her face, fingertips slipping behind the curve of her jaw, tugging, guiding, not forcing but desperately pleading as his thumb strokes across her cheek. 

“Yes… just like that. Fuck, that’s perfect. You’re perfect.”

She sucks until her cheeks hollow, letting him guide the tempo, pumping her fist around what she can’t get her mouth over. He twitches against her tongue as he slides towards the back of her throat. She increases her tempo just slightly, watching him. His eyes are molten, and his lips twitch as though he can’t quite manage the shape of the words he wants to say.  

 His thumb keeps rubbing in a slow circle in the hollow of her cheek and his breathing grows shorter and shorter.

“That’s it. That’s enough.” His voice is harsh and rasping as he abruptly pulls her off him. “I thought we were taking emergency measures to avoid freezing to death.”

He rolls her under him and pins her in place. Hermione smothers a laugh. 

 “What happened to slow and staying warm?” he growls.

Hermione stares up at him, panting. “I’m pretty warm now. Aren’t you?”

 He bites his lip as his eyes run down her body. “You are—trouble, is what you are,” he finally says. 

 He closes his eyes and breathes very slowly for a minute. “I think you’ve sufficiently demonstrated the basic methodology. How about I’ll practice now and you can offer constructive critique.” He leers down at her. “We’ll see if I can earn an O from you.”

Hermione’s chest spasms with laughter.

“Now then,” he says, getting down to business. “I don’t think there was sufficient physical contact in your method.This position”—he slides one hand under the base of her head, fingers tangling in her hair to hold her there—“is much more effective for maximizing surface area contact.” 

As he speaks he dips his head low so that his breath is hot along her neck and he kisses slowly along her jaw before nipping at her ear. He shifts up off of her just enough to allow room for a hand to slide down the length of her body. Hermione inhales, tensing as his fingers skim between her breasts before trailing along the curve of her waist, finally insinuating his fingers between her thighs. 

Her legs tremble and her heart is already beginning to pound. He stares down at her. 

“Do you want to know one of my favourite things about you?” he says as his fingertip just barely strokes across her folds. Her breath catches. 

He dips his head low again until his mouth is right next to her ear, and it sends a flood of heat through her. “I can make you come as many times as I want.”

A sharp whimper escapes Hermione’s throat, and her heart takes off like a jackrabbit. 

“It’s much more practical for me to be the one on top keeping you warm,” his fingers tangled in her hair tighten just enough to arch and bare her throat, “because there’s no risk of our means of survival coming to a premature end this way. Don’t you agree?”

She makes an incoherent noise in response.

“Now,” he’s practically purring in her ear, “let’s see how warm I can make you.”

 His fingers slip away from the apex of her legs, trailing over her thighs as he begins kissing down her throat. He teases her slowly, touching her anywhere but all the places she wants him most. She arches under him, her nipples hardening until they ache in anticipation of the touch he isn’t yet giving. His fingers between her legs seem to stroke across every spot but where she’s dying for him. 

Heat is coiling empty between her thighs as she tries to roll her hips and find any source of contact. 

“Oh please, Draco,” she says when she feels as though she may shatter.

He’s staring directly into her eyes, his face centimetres from her own. “Hm?”

“Please,” she whispers.

 “What do you want, love?”

“Please, touch me.”

“Oh, are you enjoying this?” He raises an eyebrow as his thumb brushes so close to where she really wants him that her eyes cross. “I thought we were simply doing what’s necessary to survive this terribly unprecedented blizzard.”

It is unjust how capable of articulating he is during sex, while she can barely form simple sentences.

She swallows thickly. “I’m very warm now. Please.”

 “You seem to think that begging me will get you anything you want. Which—” his lips brush across her collarbones and down over the curve of her breasts until he is almost there. She arches up, pleading wordlessly. “—is entirely true.”

His gorgeous mouth finally closes hot over her breast, his tongue burning sin as it flicks against her nipple. 

 She tangles her fingers in his hair to keep him there and utters a string of curses; the only words she can seem to manage. Her hips roll helplessly in search of friction, and he just keeps teasing her until the only word pouring from her lips is, “Please, please, please, please.”

 He lifts his mouth from her breast, leaving her aching as his thumb finally brushes just where she wants him. 

 Her entire body trembles violently. 

He stares at her, his silver eyes darkened and possessive. “I want you to keep looking at me when you come, can you do that?” He strokes her folds.

She nods quickly.

“Good girl.” His fingers slide into her core. 

She tenses, shuddering with pleasure as his fingers slide into her core, curling and pressing behind her pelvis and his thumb strokes gently. Her hands are still tangled in his hair, and they shake as she clenches around him with a gasping cry.

“Just like that.” He strokes her more softly. “You can make noise, I want to hear you.”

She’s certain he hears her. She gives a long, nearly vibrating scream as she climaxes, eyes locked on his as everything shatters into silver.

He kisses her slowly as she lies recovering, her heart pounding in her chest. When she stops panting, he draws back and kisses her forehead. 

“I think I should get you warmer,” he says, as he presses her thighs apart, moving down her body. His lips reverent with each kiss. 

She’s certain that planets have formed in less time than he spends gradually teasing her up to the brink of her next orgasm. And the one after that.

When he pauses, she’s practically boneless, her entire body slick with sweat. Her curls have grown damp and are clinging to her temples. At this point she’s radiating more heat than the fireplace.

When he starts on a fourth, she tries to bolt. He pins her down and touches her even more gently and relentlessly until she comes so violently she feels certain she’s torn something somewhere.

 She lies in a puddle under him, muttering threats if he does it again while he kisses across her face.

“I think we’ve nearly recovered from our excursion outside,” he says when she’s stopped gasping, and he shifts until his hips are aligned with hers. 

She wraps her legs around his waist, canting up for him. 

“Do you think you can manage one more for me, my sweet girl?” he asks as he sinks into her core, filling her with a low groan.

Oh god, no...

But yes. He always seems to know exactly how much she can take. 

She nods, clinging to his shoulders as he pulls one of her legs up over his arm and drives in deep and hard. She gives a ragged moan that he cuts off with his lips, kissing her as his hips meet hers.

“You are perfect,” he says against her mouth, and as he kisses along her jaw.

He kisses and caresses her in counterpoint to his tempo until she crescendos again and he groans low in his throat when he feels her come apart when he’s inside her.   

Then he fucks her. Truly fucks her, hard and fast, the force of every thrust rolling through her so that he has to hold her in place so that she doesn’t slide up the quilt. When he comes, he groans Hermione’s name against her throat, his arms wrapped around her shoulders as though he fears she could slip away or vanish if they don’t cling to one another.

Then they lay together, bodies entwined. The house is quiet except for the crackling hearth. The light outside has already faded into the darkness of a winter evening.

Hermione opens her eyes and wraps her arms more tightly around him, tilting her head to the side so that their cheeks are touching.

“Happy Christmas, Draco.”

His hold on her just barely tightens in response, then he turns his head and kisses her temple. “Happy Christmas, Wife.” 

After another minute, he pushes himself up and leans against the sofa. Hermione sits and scoots in beside him and he pulls the quilt around them, wrapping an arm around her. 

“You know,” he says after a minute, “we could have gone to the Weasleys for Christmas, I wouldn’t have minded.” 

“I know.” She presses a kiss against his shoulder before resting her head against him. “But you told your parents we were already committed to Christmas with the Weasleys this year because you said you didn’t want me to spend our first Christmas with people who were only tolerating me.” 

She stares into the fire. “I didn’t want you to go somewhere where you felt that way either. We’ve spent more than enough time with everyone, I think we were entitled to a Christmas that just belonged to us.” 

They’re both quiet. Draco drops a kiss on the top of her head and wordlessly picks up her left hand, thumb running back and forth across her wedding band.

She draws a deep breath. “They’ll all come around. Eventually. By next year.” She nods resolutely to herself. “I’m sure it will be better. We’ll make them come around.”

Draco’s mouth curves into a wry grin. “You know they’re never going to believe we couldn’t come because of a blizzard.” 

Hermione blushes. “I know. I just thought it was just more polite than saying we didn’t come because we didn’t want to. Lost wands and unprecedented snowfall sounds like a better excuse.”

He snorts. “How on earth did you manage a blizzard?” 

She presses her lips together and raises her eyebrows. “An Unspeakable can never tell. However, it was very tricky, so you should be impressed that I managed it.”

 “I am always impressed by you. However, in the future, if you don’t mind, I’d like some warning before I wake up and learn that my wand has been misplaced.” He nods towards the Christmas tree. “I can’t give you your actual present until I get it back because your gift is currently transfigured into an ornament.”

Hermione glances over and gives a little shrug. “Give it to me tomorrow,” 

She rests her head on his shoulder again. “I already have everything I want.”