the clock strikes twelve
They’d look back on this in years and laugh over it, he was sure; how Zach had spilled hot chocolate on himself and how the dogs had come running to it; how Audrey had been humming and swaying to the music and had nearly ended up tripping over Gizmo; and of course, the fateful kiss that hadn’t yet happened.
“Twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping-“
“If I have to listen to one more second of this rubbish, I swear to Merlin-“ Zach flicked his wand and the wireless stopped blasting out the crooning sound of the Muggle carol, quickly replacing it with a more upbeat song which he let play.
“Who plays Christmas music after Christmas anyway?” he asked his wife as he sat by the counter, carefully dropping in the precise number of marshmallows into two steaming mugs of hot chocolate (for reference, Audrey’s mug required fourteen while his only required twelve).
“Oh, don’t be such a downer, Zach,” Audrey shook her head good-naturedly as she stepped toward the wireless and twisted the dial, returning once more to the station that they had been listening to only moments earlier. “Some people just have an excess of Christmas spirit.”
“But it’s New Year’s Eve,” Zach protested, handing her the snitch mug while keeping the keeper one for himself and cradling it in his fingers, “They’ve got to be singing about, y’know, New Years stuff.”
“And what’s that, then?”
“Kissing at midnight,” he replied bluntly, shooting the witch a quick smile before motioning her to the living room.
The television had been playing for the last half an hour, set to the news channel where displays of fireworks in several countries that had already welcomed in the new year dazzled viewers. Zach sat on the couch, silently watching fireworks in Australia spell out the year before dissipating into the night sky.
Audrey followed him, gently pushing his legs off of the cushion beside him so that she could sit there instead. She cupped her mug in both hands, leaning against him, and by mere instinct he held his own mug with his right hand and wrapped his left around his wife.
Wife. They’d been married less than three months, so Zach still had trouble getting used to the fact, but what he couldn’t deny was that this was their first New Year’s that they were spending together. They’d look back on this in years and laugh over it, he was sure; how Zach had spilled hot chocolate on himself and how the dogs had come running to it; how Audrey had been humming and swaying to the music and had nearly ended up tripping over Gizmo; and of course, the fateful kiss that hadn’t yet happened.
“Magical fireworks would be even more impressive,” Audrey murmured, startling Zach out of his thoughts.
He disjointedly glanced at the television, looking at the dismal fireworks display in Russia. “I think that the Ministry would frown upon exposing magic just for the sake of enjoying New Year’s more,” he replied, lifting the mug to his lips.
It was nearly half past eleven, but both of them had had a long day. Despite the fact that today was technically a holiday, they’d gone into Honeyduke’s early anyway to sort out the new shipment before returning home. Then the dogs had been a bit of a handful, and they’d gone to a quick New Year’s Party, and little by little, all these activities had added up so that sleep was heavy on both of their eyelids.
Placing his empty mug beside hers on the coffee table, Zach leaned back a bit in the cushions of the sofa. Merlin, when had they gotten this soft? Before he knew it, his eyelids were drooping shut, and so were Audrey’s as she remained nestled into his side.
The television continued playing in front of them but neglected to wake them until the countdown began, and the thousands of chanting spectators in London pulled Zach from his light slumber. As soon as he realized the time, he nudged his wife and startled her awake as well. Audrey sat up quickly, brushing brown hair out of her eyes.
“What’s happened? Have we missed New Year’s already?”
“No, not yet, but-“
“Five, four, three, two, one!” The people on the screen chanted, punctuating their countdown with a raucous cheer.
“Happy New Year!” both husband and wife proclaimed simultaneously.
“Ooh, those fireworks are actually quite spectacular,” Zach added, pointing to the brilliant display on the screen in excitement.
Audrey rolled her eyes, “Zach.”
“It’s New Year’s.”
“So it is.”
“You do know what that means, don’t you?”
“Of course! It means that today is the first day of – oh. How could I forget?” Zach’s mouth slid into a grin as he glanced sideways at his wife.
Audrey repressed another roll of her eyes, but her own lips twitched into a smile as they lifted upward at the sides. Instinctively, she leaned back into him, and he did the same to her, sliding his hand under her chin and lifting it up before pressing his lips to hers.
Looking back on this, Zach could certainly say that this year had started perfectly.
Pulling away from the kiss after several long seconds – or what felt like several sunny days – Zach grinned again, leaning his forehead lightly against hers. “Can we go to sleep now?” he asked hopefully, eyelids still heavy with sleep.
“Zach,” she laughed, but the urge was too strong for both of them to fight.
When they woke up in the morning, they realized that they hadn’t had the energy to climb the stairs and collapse into their bedroom. Instead, they found themselves in the exact same position that they’d ended the night before in; lying sideways on the couch, limbs tangled, his hair standing up on one side while hers was half in his face.
“The day’s not off to a fantastic start, but at least I got my kiss,” Zach murmured, brushing her hair out of his face and rubbing the crick in his neck.
His words were rewarded by a generous push from his wife, and Zach landed on the floor sideways.