Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and her associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairing: Harry/Draco preslash
Warnings: Fluff. There is no epilogue.
Summary: Three glimpses of Malfoy on a spring day inspire Harry to take a risk.
Author's Notes: This is a ficlet, the first in a "Seasonal Processions" Series that traces the growth of a relationship between Harry and Draco tied to the pagan calendar (Ostara, Beltane, Midsummer, Lughnasadh, Mabon, Samhain, Yule, Imbolc). I'm going to try and post the stories as nearly as possible on the days they correspond to, and they're set in this year. The title is the adjective form of "equinox."
"There's something different about Malfoy," Harry muttered, sitting behind his desk and following Malfoy with his eyes. Malfoy was standing next to an Auror named Darren and listening with what Harry thought was exceptional patience to his ramblings. He didn't roll his eyes or shift his body weight once.
"What?" Ron didn't look up from the report he was writing. "No, there isn't. He's the same annoying git he's always been."
"When was the last time he taunted us?" Harry shook his head, gaze fastened to the gleam of Malfoy's hair, the point of his chin when he nodded in response to Darren. It looked—different. "Has he done something with his appearance?"
Ron actually lifted his head this time. "How the fuck should I know that, mate? You want Viola What's-her-name, in Records. She's the one always going on about how handsome he is."
Harry felt his cheeks burn when he realized he could be turning into another Viola. He determinedly lowered his eyes to his work, but he couldn't help sneaking another glance as Malfoy walked away, wondering if he would look like his old normal self from this angle.
No, he didn't. But neither did he look exceptionally different, the way Harry had thought he did. There were only hints of a strangeness haunting his face, his eyes, his cheekbones.
It was, Harry thought, far more likely that he had simply never taken the time to look at Malfoy properly before.
Harry sighed and stretched out his arms to the sunshine falling through the window. Even knowing it was an enchanted window and thus didn't have to reflect the weather outside, he was grateful. The snow and the grime and the gloom of winter were finally done with. There would be other grey days, but the weather seemed to agree that today should not be one of them.
"I'm going to take this report to Kingsley," he told Ron, standing and scooping up the report, "since it's done."
"Lucky bastard," Ron grunted, and scribbled a line viciously down.
"If I put off all my reports until the last minute like someone else I know—"
Ron flipped him a gesture that would have made Hermione and Mrs. Weasley fight over who would slap the back of his head if they saw it. Laughing and feeling smugly virtuous, Harry practically danced down the corridors towards the Head Auror's office. Kingsley hadn't lasted more than one year as Minister, but that was the Auror Department's gain rather than its loss.
He stepped around a corner and slammed into someone else. Papers flew everywhere, and Harry's first thought was that it was someone from Records.
"I'm sorry," he said, kneeling to pick up the papers. "I wasn't watching where I was going—"
"Leave it, Potter."
Harry looked up, blinking. Malfoy stood above him, his eyes narrow and wary. He looked away when he realized Harry was looking back, and shook his head.
"I'm sure you must have more important things to do," he muttered, "and it was all my fault anyway. That's what you'd say, right? I can pick them up. You don't need to help."
He bent down. Harry, too stunned to say anything, craned his neck to look at the papers. They were full of unfamiliar pictures that looked like half maps and half photographs.
Well, of course. Malfoy worked in—
He had no idea where Malfoy worked, Harry realized slowly. No clue at all. You'd think that was the sort of thing he would have noticed when he first saw Malfoy around the Ministry, if only because he would still have been paranoid then and convinced it was good knowledge to have, but he didn't.
I haven't looked enough all around, Harry thought, and knelt down beside Malfoy to pull the papers into neat piles.
Malfoy stared at him, face tight in the way that told Harry he still expected a hex. "I told you, you don't have to help."
"But I want to," Harry said, and smiled at him.
After a moment, Malfoy smiled back.
"Wish me luck, Ron," Harry said, rising from his desk a short time before he would usually leave and casting the locking and warding spells that would prevent anyone but Ron from rummaging through his papers.
Ron, a scrap of parchment clinging to his cheek, blinked at him. "What do you mean? Aren't you coming to the pub with me?"
Harry shook his head. "I have someone to catch." He knew he was grinning like an idiot, but he was allowed. He was going to take a chance, and even if it didn't work out, the mere impulse to take it made him feel incredibly glad.
Ron seemed to get it then, and grinned back. "Good luck with her, mate."
Harry hurried away, not bothering to correct Ron's impression yet. He didn't know if this would work out, after all.
But the sunshine seemed to have sent a torrent of new blood flowing through his veins, and he stationed himself outside the door of the department Malfoy worked in—Geographical Surveys, part of Records, as he had discovered with a few simple questions—and waited. He could do this. He wanted to do this.
He wanted to see what would happen.
It was twenty minutes before Malfoy stepped out through the bleak grey door of the Department and locked it behind him. He stood there for a moment with his head bowed, swaying with weariness. Then he glanced up.
Harry gave him a warm, welcoming smile.
Malfoy's lips parted. When he looked over Harry's shoulder, obviously searching for signs of an ambush, Harry felt a bit insulted, but he also understood. There was no reason for Malfoy to assume that he was going to repeat the performance of that afternoon. Maybe it had even been a set-up for a trick.
"It's just me," Harry said quietly. "I wanted to ask you something."
Malfoy hunched his shoulders, then sighed. "Everyone does," he said. "Ask."
"It has nothing to do with your job, other than that was what gave me the opportunity to finally notice you." Harry took a step forwards. "Will you go out with me?"
Malfoy stood as if turned to stone.
Words weren't going to be enough, Harry thought. But he knew what would. He extended his hand.
Malfoy gazed at it for so long that Harry was unsure after all.
Then his fingers closed, cool and smooth, around Harry's, and he nodded, a tiny gesture that anyone would have missed who wasn't watching him as closely as Harry was.
As closely as I intend to watch him from now on, Harry thought, and nodded back, too warm and hopeful to speak.