Title: Fortune Falls From the Air
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairing: Harry/Draco (preslash)
Summary: Harry just noticed him one day, and half-wondered why he never had before. But he knew the answer to that question, if he thought about it, so mostly he occupied himself with wonder.
Author's Notes: The title is a twist on the line "Brightness falls from the air," from Thomas Nashe's poem "A Litany in Time of Plague."
Fortune Falls From the Air
Harry sighed, and yawned, and stood up to go get another cup of tea. If he was going to stay late at the Ministry working on these reports-which, yes, he should have turned in a month ago, but Kingsley had never demanded them on time before-then he would have to swallow cups of the stuff.
He made his way down the corridor slowly, not really thinking, not really looking. If he was thinking of anything, it was a way to try and rephrase "I charged at the criminal and used Incarcerous" for the hundredth time.
"Watch where you're going, Potter."
It was said neither more nor less harshly than people said things like that to Harry every day, when his glasses or his weariness prevented him from getting out of the way in time. He stepped aside automatically, muttered, "Sorry," and wandered on. Only when he reached the table where the tea things were set out did he turn his head to see who it had been.
And saw a tall, slim figure vanishing around the corner, his cloak sweeping the ground like a prince's in a fairy tale, his hair sparkling like snow.
Harry reached a hand up and rubbed his eyes, which of course was useless, since the vision had vanished by the time he looked again. But when he turned back in his memory, he knew who the voice belonged to. He had heard it muttering things and shouting them in the Ministry for years now, ever since its owner had been promoted to Special Undersecretary to the Minister.
It should have been a minor mystery. Harry should have nodded in satisfaction at solving it and gone back to his reports.
But instead, that shining image remained in his head, and he found himself nearly tripping into his desk, nearly spilling his tea on the reports he had worked so hard on.
Harry had no idea why Malfoy had intrigued him that much. The sight of his hair out of the corner of Harry's eye? That was silly.
But he was accustomed to thinking that things were silly and following up on them anyway. Sometimes the "silly" thing was the clue that could save someone's life, or the one trace of the curse that a Dark wizard had neglected to clean up.
So he made sure he was on the lift with Malfoy when he arrived to work the next morning, and that now and then they crossed paths during the course of the day, going to get tea or taking reports to their destinations or helping to break up the same overheated row. And he watched, and listened.
The more he saw, the more he liked.
It wasn't just that Malfoy had grown taller and dressed in things that weren't those awful Slytherin robes now; the colors complemented his skin tone and hair, but that was the kind of thing Harry never noticed normally, and wouldn't have now. It was that his face had settled. He didn't sneer a lot anymore, he didn't constantly try to get people in trouble, and he looked serious, sometimes with his nose thrust in a book or a huge sheaf of parchment. He'd grown up, and the angles of his face didn't look as though he spent his time poking his nose into other people's business anymore. Poking it into paper instead was perfectly fine with Harry.
He handled his work on time, a skill that Harry, who had given those late reports to Kingsley only because he'd worked almost until dawn, had to smile at. He worked beside even Martin Digger, the most obnoxious Auror in the Department, without allowing more than the slightest of grimaces to change his expression. He received international visitors for the Minister and local people who thought they had a grievance the Minister needed to hear right this second with equal calmness.
The calmness did make Harry wonder about other things, though. Did Malfoy ever change his expression? Would he stare at Harry if Harry was polite to him, or even notice? Maybe it would become part of the same panoply of strange shit that he dealt with every day.
Harry didn't want to be relegated to that. He wanted to do something to get Malfoy's attention, to make his expression change, to make him smile.
Especially if he wears that same slight boredom in bed.
Harry tilted his chair back at his desk and stared at the ceiling of his office. So he had finally admitted to himself what he was reaching for, what he wanted.
"Get your boots off those reports, mate," Ron said from the other side of the office, not looking up from his own piles of paper. "And stop daydreaming. If you don't have anything else to do, I could use your signatures on these files."
Yes, Harry thought as he stood up, Summoning the files Ron indicated. That's what I need to do. Stop daydreaming. Ask for what I want, even if there's no chance I'll get it.
I'm not Malfoy. I can't let things like this roll off my back. I have to at least ask.
"Hey, Malfoy." Harry had planned for that much, but knew he would have to say more when Malfoy's eyes slid distantly over him and he continued walking without so much as a nod. "Would you like to go on a date with me?"
Malfoy stopped walking and stared at him. Harry smiled back. He hadn't thought what he said was that startling, but then, he was himself and Malfoy was Malfoy. Implacable mask or not, this wasn't a problem of the kind Malfoy dealt with every day.
"What I would like," Malfoy said after a moment, in a voice like ice cracking, "is to know who put you up to this ridiculous joke."
Harry grinned at him. "No one but me. Surely you've noticed I've bumped into you a bit more often over the last few weeks? That was deliberate. I wanted to know more about you, and now I want to date you."
Malfoy didn't move, didn't alter his position or change the position of the huge stack of files he was carrying, either. He just watched Harry. Harry looked back mildly, stirring sugar into his tea until it turned almost white. Ron claimed that anyone would get sick who looked at Harry about to drink that, but Harry figured Malfoy was likely to be put off by different things about him than that.
Or turned on.
Finally, Malfoy said, "I doubt I could fit your exacting standards."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Yes, two girlfriends and one boyfriend in the past are so exacting. Malfoy, my last boyfriend ate sandwiches in bed and tended to spill crumbs down my shoulders when we kissed. Daphne Greengrass-remember her?-was my girlfriend before that, and you must know what she does with her toenails."
From Malfoy's reminiscent shudder, he sure did. But he still didn't move and didn't look away from Harry, and his eyes weren't any less hard. "So you prefer slobs. Why pick me?"
"You're professional," Harry said simply, and sipped at his tea. Yes, perfect, down to the coating it left on his teeth. "You're distant. I was wondering what it would take to please you, or surprise you." At least I made him gape, if I didn't do anything else. "And I wanted to invite you on a date with me."
"It would expose you to gossip."
"Everything except sitting in a dark room naked would do that, and then they would speculate about how many clothes I still had on."
"It would make others in the Ministry think you were unprofessional."
"What's unprofessional is finding two Aurors going at it on the Minister's desk. Compared to that, I think a romance between two people who work in different Departments is pretty small."
"Your friends will disapprove."
"They disapproved of Daphne, too. They got over it. And Milo wasn't exactly romance-of-the-year material." Harry leaned forwards. "Hermione's learned that it's best to leave me alone to pursue what I want, and she drags Ron along with her. Eventually. What matters is what you think of it. And I notice you haven't said anything about that yet."
Malfoy watched him, still. Harry finished his tea, and reached for more sugar.
"Fine," Malfoy said at last. "I would like to go on a date with you." He gave Harry a thin smile. "But I don't think it will work."
"At least we'll have taken the risk." Harry saluted him with the sugar. "And who knows? Sometimes good luck falls on you. You never know."
Malfoy half-shook his head, but didn't say anything about no good luck in his life, which Harry had been afraid he would. Well, he was probably luckier than he'd thought he would be, to have a good job and be accepted in the pure-blood world now. "I'm sure I'll see you, Potter."
Harry smiled at him. "You will. Dinner two nights from now, at seven?" He knew Malfoy had less work on Wednesdays, because the Minister went home early.
Malfoy's eyebrows rose a little, and then he smiled. The smile was addictive, and Harry wanted another one more than he wanted sugar. "Very well. I'll meet you at Ibis's."
It was a hideously expensive restaurant in Diagon Alley, but nothing Harry couldn't afford. He saluted Malfoy with the sugar again. "See you there."
And Malfoy walked up the corridor, his back a bit straighter, his robe flaring out even more.
Harry smiled at his back. Sometimes good luck does just happen, and I think this is a piece of it.