Several days later, on Christmas Eve…
The Zabini family was very hectic for their first Christmas together. They had given a majority of the house-elves their guaranteed vacation and therefore the house was practically empty. Blaise and his father were busy decorating, while Grace and her mother worked in the kitchen preparing Christmas day dinner.
“Blaise, don’t you dare.” Grace warned from behind her bowl. Both her brother and father had walked in from moving the Christmas tree, and the sweaty men thought it appropriate to take a break in the kitchen.
Their father observed them from the kitchen table with great interest, a drink in hand. Blaise, however, carefully watched his sister’s movements, and just like any Slytherin, sneaked his finger into the bowl.
Grace smacked his hand with a spatula before he could dip into the contents.
“Oh come on!”
“Wait until the brownies are done!”
Blaise frowned, “But they look good right now!”
Their mother pulled a casserole out of the oven, “Blaise, wait until they’ve cooked.”
The boy sighed, pulled himself onto the counter, and began to follow his twin’s movements. “Can I lick the spoon?” He was such a child.
“Mi cara, let him have the spoon.”
Grace reluctantly gave the stirring spoon to her brother and obtained another to further mix the batter.
The doorbell rang and the Zabinis silenced all possible noises. There were barriers of spells and curses layered around their home, including constant patrols from Ministry officials; no one could make it to the front door. Mr. Zabini motioned for his family to stay in the kitchen and then proceeded to reach for his wand. “I’ll get it.” He said as he stepped out of the room.
The patriarch walked to the main foyer and pointed his wand towards the entry. If someone had, in fact, endured all the obstacles that stood between the main gate and the front door, they would have to be physically impaired. Therefore, the man of the house was not the slightest bit afraid. Mr. Zabini took an extra measure to ensure there were no noises left in the house, and when he was met with just that, opened the door to reveal their ‘guest’.
The door swung open with a dramatic crash, letting a harsh gush of freezing air sweep its way throughout the first story of the Manor. A bundled being was left leaning against the doorway, covered in snow and their own blood.
Mr. Zabini’s eyes widened, just like his children’s had many times before, as he recognized the intruder. He grabbed the person before they collapsed and let them to the main sitting room.
Hearing the commotion, Mrs. Zabini walked out of the kitchen into the nearest room. Immediately her hands flew to her mouth as she attempted to prevent herself from tearing. She quickly went up to the two and guided the intruder to a nearby chair.
Both Blaise and Grace stumbled out of the kitchen doorway, giggling about the brownie batter smear across Blaise’s cheek. At the same time, the twins looked at the image before them and froze.
Grace dropped her spoon, ”Draco?”
Half an hour later…
After Mrs. Zabini spent twenty minutes healing Draco’s injuries, Mr. Zabini pulled the man to a corner of the room in order to speak with him. Currently the siblings stood on the opposite side, next to an armchair that held Draco’s soaked cloak.
Blaise watched his father and his best friend converse, “Something isn’t right.”
“I didn’t expect him to actually come,” Grace agreed.
“No, if he planned to come, he would have told us in advance. This was sudden.”
Grace glared out the window to view the mass amount of space that stretched to the front gate. The blizzard outside had frozen the majority of the gardens, leaving a smooth landscape of white across the grounds. Grace squinted her eyes as she noticed an object protruding from the snow. In between the iron bars of the Zabini gate settled a familiar metal structure.
Her mouth fell open as her father and Draco ended their conversation. Both their heads turned towards her, “Did you ride a bicycle here?”
Draco looked at her with a grateful glance.
“Draco, you need to wash up. Blaise, lead him to the guest room.” Mrs. Zabini said once she laid out Draco’s cloak.
Blaise slowly began to guide Draco up the grand staircase.
Once they were out of sight, Grace went back to the kitchen. Draco couldn’t have come out of desire. The man risked every spell that protected the Manor. He must be desperate. Grace’s hands trembled as she lifted the teapot onto a tray. Now was not the time to let her curiosity get the better of her. If she really loved him, she would respect his privacy…at least this time.
As she reached the guest room on the second floor, Grace lifted the levitation charm from the tea tray and held it in her arms. Opening the door, she stepped in to see Blaise leaning against a wooden wardrobe and Draco sitting on the bed, head in hands, with a towel hung over his shoulders. They appeared to be in a deep conversation. The two men looked up at her.
“I-I brought tea. If you would like some.”
Blaise gave her a look that implied, ‘not now’.
She turned to leave.
“Thank you Grace. Just leave it there.” Draco said.