Actions

Work Header

as the crow flies

Work Text:

It started out as a group endeavour. Harry supposed it was technically his idea, but he’d just mentioned it, off-handedly. Hermione was the one who had gone and found the books, and made a plan, and drew out a timeline.

Blaming Hermione never really went well, though. If you were mad at her, you couldn’t ask her for help. And you usually needed her help.

It wasn’t Hermione’s fault anyway. She had been strict about her timeline.

“If we’re going to do this,” she had said, seriously. “We have to do it the right way. There are a lot of risks involved, especially for you, Harry, if you’re insisting on doing this outside of the law.”

“It doesn’t make sense otherwise, Hermione,” Harry had said, defensively. “If they know it’s me, even as an animal, they’ll still follow me around.”

“It’s your decision, Harry,” said Hermione, which was a nice way of saying she disapproved of it.

As if the process itself wasn’t difficult enough, approval for Animagus applications was hard to come by. Each application had to be reviewed and signed by the Minister himself. Hermione was a shoo-in, of course, and as an Auror, Ron had excellent reason for applying, as an animal disguise could prove to be an asset, depending on what animal it was, of course. Harry, on the other hand, felt like there was no way Kingsley would approve his application, Chosen One be damned.

He hadn’t exactly found his footing, after the war. He did the rounds, attended the trials and went back to Hogwarts to help rebuild. But there was a point in time where it seemed like everyone was starting to move on, and somehow, Harry never felt like he quite got there.

He felt as though he were adrift, unsure of what to do with himself now that he didn’t feel like he had a purpose. He had considered joining the Aurors with Ron, but the thought of jumping back into any sort of combat situation made him sick to his stomach, so that idea hadn’t lasted long. Instead, he spent much of his time at Grimmauld Place. He kept insisting he was fixing it up, finishing the cleaning they had started so long ago, but more often, he found himself sitting in Sirius’s old room, staring at the posters on the wall and looking through the clothes in the wardrobe.

Perhaps that had also been part of why he had been so motivated about becoming an Animagus. Besides being something to do, it was something more to connect him to Sirius and to his father. Maybe he would understand what Sirius felt like, spending all of that time in his Animagus form.

It was a project—a mission—and Harry poured himself into it. The days that they each first achieved their form were monumental. Surprising everyone, Ron was the first to achieve it in one of their practice sessions, morphing into a little red squirrel. Hermione had clapped a hand over her mouth to keep from snickering, and then walked him through the steps to change back.

“Don’t say a word,” Ron had said to Harry, as soon as he was back to his human form.

“Not going to tease you until I know what mine is,” said Harry. “With my luck, I’ll end up being a ladybird or something.”

“Being a bug of some kind might actually be good, Harry,” chimed in Hermione. “Remember Rita Skeeter?”

“The less I have in common with Rita Skeeter the better,” said Harry. Hermione rolled her eyes at him.

“You know what I mean,” she said. “You wanted to do this to hide from the press. Easier to hide if you’re small.”

Hermione was the next to achieve her form, which turned out to be an extremely fluffy brown tabby cat.

“Oh, I have to write to Professor McGonagall,” said human Hermione, sounding slightly out of breath after her transformation.

“You make a much cuter cat than Crookshanks,” said Ron, shooting her a grin.

“Oh, hush, you,” said Hermione, flushing slightly.

“No, he’s right,” added Harry, grinning. “Very fluffy. I’d definitely pet you.”

Harry had started to grow frustrated when session after session passed by without him being able to turn into his form.

“I don’t think you’re a mammal,” said Hermione once, her eyebrows furrowed by thought. “Non-mammals are much harder to transform into, because of course there are more differences between them and humans.”

“Or maybe I’m just bad at this,” growled Harry.

“Stay positive, Harry,” she insisted. “You’re doing everything right, try again.”

Eventually, it happened. He transformed.

It felt like nothing he had ever experienced before, not Apparition, not Disillusionment, not even dying. He completely lost all sensation of his body, which he supposed made sense, since his body was no longer…there, exactly. He felt light and energetic and strangely awake and he realised he was making some sort of movement but he didn’t recognise what it was.

“Oh, Harry!” came Hermione’s voice, sounding thicker, as though two Hermiones were speaking in unison. He looked around, becoming vaguely aware that his field of vision had shifted and saw her looking up at him. He had to be at least three feet above her.

She started to talk him through the steps to transform back and he listened intently and tried to follow her instructions. She had to go through it twice before it finally worked, and he stumbled backwards as he transformed back into his human body. He blinked, readjusting, feeling gravity holding him to the ground particularly firmly.

“What…” he mumbled, as the pieces started to click in his brain. “A bird?”

“A crow,” said Ron. “You look wicked.”

A grin started to grow on Harry’s face.

“I can fly,” he said.

Harry’s transformations were more difficult than Ron and Hermione’s, being that their forms were both mammals and his was not. He especially had trouble transforming back into his human form, and Hermione once had to force the transformation herself through a spell.

“Honestly, Harry, I’m a bit worried,” she said.

“It’s alright,” said Harry. “Like you said, I just have to work harder, since my form isn’t a mammal.”

“Yeah,” she sighed. “We’ll practice more next session. In the meantime, don’t practice on your own. You need to have either Ron or me there to perform the spell in case you can’t transform back, okay?”

“Of course,” said Harry.

Harry had thought their sessions would continue as they had been, meeting up regularly two or three times a week. But they started to grow few and far between, as Hermione and Ron become more busy with work. Since they had mastered their transformations, they were officially registered as Animagi, and were no longer receiving time off for practice.

Harry couldn’t ask them to meet more regularly, they were exhausted enough already from work and still trying to make time for him. He felt guilty, dragging them away from their well-deserved free time to help him with his transformations, which he felt he should’ve had a better handle on by now.

He wondered if the long stretches between practice sessions would slow him down, and perhaps set his progress backwards. At times, he wondered if he should just give up on the idea altogether.

*

It was a Friday afternoon when it happened. He had popped by to visit George at Weasley Wizard Wheezes and was just exiting the store when it became apparent he had been seen, and people began to surround him, all talking animatedly, crying out his name, getting louder and louder by the second, and Harry felt his blood start to race.

“Harry!” George called from behind him. “Go out the back!”

Harry ran back into the store, jumping over the counter and heading for the back exit. People of course had heard George, and were rushing around the store to catch up with him. Harry broke into a run, but he knew he had nowhere to go from here. The back of the store only lead to a dead end, so he supposed he would have to Apparate. His heart was thumping aggressively, his stomach tied up in a knot. It felt like a mob was descending on him, their cries of his name getting louder and louder until they were ringing in his ear, he could feel himself start to panic and slow down and he barely realised that he was gasping for breath, barely taking any oxygen in, and he screwed his eyes tightly shut and—

He was weightless, floating on air, gentle and cool. Looking down at the buildings of Diagon Alley, growing smaller as he soared, he realised what had happened. Some part of him, somewhere in the back of his mind, reminded him that he wasn’t supposed to be transforming, but he hadn’t even meant to do it. It had been automatic, instinctual. He flew higher into the air, through the clouds, revelling in how light and free he felt.

He had left the anxiety in his human body, and now all he could focus on was the wind against his feathers.

He felt like he’d been flying for hours before he started to think he should probably head back down and find his way to Hermione. He thought he could probably transform back on his own, but she’d been right—it was safer to have someone else there in case something went wrong.

He started to fly back down towards the ground, until buildings came back into sight. He had long left Diagon Alley, and couldn’t recognise exactly where he was. It seemed to be within the Wizarding area, as he could see people walking through the streets in robes. He flew down lower, hoping to catch sign of a street sign, or something else to help him identify where he was, when, out of nowhere, something swooped into him.

It was instantaneous—the pain wracked through him like he’d been struck by lightning. Still not fully comfortable in the body of a crow, he struggled to identify what part of him the pain was coming from. He was trapped in something, he could no longer move, though he flapped his wings desperately. He looked around, still only seeing the buildings and people below him and he turned his head around until he saw…talons. Long, sharp talons extending out of feathery feet, tightly gripping around his wing and body.

Harry recognised those kinds of talons. They had scratched him in the arm more than a few times during his Hogwarts days.

He’d been captured by an owl.

*

He tried to think about what to do. He couldn’t try and transform back now in mid-air, he’d fall to his death if he was successful. He supposed he could wait and see where the owl took him. He’d have a limited window of time—before the owl ate him, he reminded himself—to try and transform. Hopefully if he was in a nest or something, the branch would be able to support him, or at least he wouldn’t fall from such a great height.

His wing burned in pain and a cawing sound came out of him, involuntarily. He didn’t want to think about what would happen if he couldn’t transform back. There was no way he was going to be able to fly away with his wing this badly injured.

The owl began to soon began to fly towards a tall brick building, and Harry could feel that they were descending. He barely caught sight of the open window before realising that was where they were headed. He squirmed urgently, trying to get free, but the talons only pressed deeper into him and the owl flew directly into the window.

“Merlin!” came a surprised voice as the owl hurtled in. “What are you making such a racket fo—Aquila, what on earth did you do?

Another caw escaped Harry as the owl hooted and released him. As the talons relaxed their grip, Harry felt a fresh wave of pain hit him. How strange it felt to have pain that his brain couldn’t adequately understand.

“Get away!” said the unknown man, his voice doubled, the way human voices sounded like to Harry in his Animagus form. He wondered if that was how humans sounded like to regular birds.

For a moment, he thought the man was talking to him, and attempted to flap his wings, but the pain stopped him. He looked around, terrified to take a look at his wings and see the extent of the damage done.

“Goodness,” said the man, and Harry saw a pale hand coming towards him. Terrified at how large it looked, he squawked and tried to propel himself backwards.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” the man said, softly. “Aquila has only ever brought back mice and rats, and they’re usually already dead when she…Merlin.

Harry turned his head cautiously, looking for the owl. Finally he found it, having flown into its open cage on a cabinet across the room. Its orange eyes were still watching him beadily.

“I’m going to take a look at that wound,” said the man’s voice, and Harry turned his head again to look at his would-be rescuer. If he were in his human form, he would’ve gasped. Looking down at him, with an expression of deep concern, was Draco Malfoy.

*

Harry wasn’t quite sure what to do. As soon as Malfoy had walked away, he had tried to transform back, focusing on what Hermione called ‘the checklist,’ the steps he had to take to transform back. It was so much harder than the initial transformation, harder to try and channel one’s magic without a wand, without even being able to envision the magic flowing through his—human—body, the way he did when casting wandlessly.

He eyed the owl—Aquila—nervously, but she had taken to crunching on the owl treats Malfoy had scattered across the bottom of her cage. He focused on the steps, again and again, trying to concentrate, but his mind felt tired—small. Fruitlessly, he tried to flap his wings.

“Hey, hey, hey!” said Malfoy, reappearing in Harry’s field of vision. “Don’t do that, you’ll make it worse.”

He started setting things on the table beside Harry, who hopped from foot to foot, trying to see what was going on.

“Don’t you worry,” Malfoy said, in a soothing voice, which did more to alarm Harry than soothe, as he had never heard Malfoy say a kind word before.

“We’re going to patch you up,” Malfoy went on. He started picking up things—cotton balls, small vials. Harry started to panic, flapping his wings and hopping backwards. Malfoy was just so much larger than him, and so close, and that couldn’t possibly bode well.

“Oh, sweetheart, you’re in bad shape, aren’t you?” said Malfoy, softly. “Listen to me, the more you flap your wings, the more you’re going to tear at the wound. I know you’re scared, but I’m only trying to help you.”

It was as though he knew that Harry could understand him. Despite his precarious situation, Harry tried to relax and stay still.

“Alright, this is going to sting a little bit, but I have to clean the wound. Who knows what Aquila had her talons in before you?”

Harry emitted another cawing sound as Malfoy dripped a liquid of some sort onto his wing. It did sting, but strangely it made Harry more aware of his wing, this other body he had, something he had been struggling with in his practice sessions.

He twitched it, twisting his head to try and get a better look, scared to completely shake it out.

Malfoy gave a little smile.

“Don’t trust me, do you?” he said, dabbing at Harry’s wing with some cloth. His touch was feather-light and careful, and Harry started to feel calmer. He reminded himself that Malfoy, of course, didn’t know it was him. He had had an eagle owl during Hogwarts, Harry remembered. He must have been kind to her. Harry looked over at Aquila, wondering if that was the same owl.

“Probably smart,” Malfoy went on. “Haven’t given you any reason to trust me yet.”

He lifted the cloth and leaned forward to look at Harry’s wing, his blond hair falling into his face. Harry took a moment to marvel at how different he looked with his hair loose and free instead of slicked back the way he had always worn it in school.

“You’re still bleeding,” Malfoy murmured, a frown on his face. “I’m going to have to push for a bit. Hold still.”

Malfoy started pressing the cloth down onto Harry’s wing, and Harry heard himself squawk again.

“I know,” said Malfoy, wincing at if it was hurting him too. “You’re being very brave. I’m amazed you haven’t gone into shock.”

Harry tried not to hop, despite the increased pressure and pain.

“A few more minutes,” said Malfoy. “You’ll be alright.”

Harry felt strange, like he wanted to sit, something he had never felt in his bird form. He squawked again, feeling frustrated that he couldn’t speak.

“I’m so sorry,” Malfoy said, reaching out with his other hand and stroking the top of Harry’s head with a fingertip. Harry nearly jerked away, but the pain kept him from moving. And…and maybe it felt a bit nice.

“After this, we’ll give you a nice treat,” said Malfoy, continuing to stroke Harry’s head, which Harry decided he wasn’t going to think too hard about right now. “What’s your favourite? Crickets? Aquila loves those, which I always found strange. Bit small for an owl, you know?”

Harry didn’t know if crows had facial expressions, but Malfoy seemed to understand the one he was trying to convey, because he laughed—a warm sound that shook Harry to his core. He had never heard such a sound come from Malfoy before.

“How about some nuts? I think I have some walnuts. I was going to make some candied walnuts, but I’m sure I can spare a few.”

Harry tried to imagine Malfoy making candied walnuts, but it was a difficult thing to picture.

“Don’t you worry,” said Malfoy, giving him another smile. “I’m going to take good care of you.”

Strangely enough, Harry believed him.

*

It had been two days and Harry had started to worry—at least, as much as he could worry with his brain being confined in the tiny body of a crow. His wing was feeling much better, he could flap it again, although he couldn’t quite fly yet.

But two days was a long time. He didn’t know if it was healthy to stay in his Animagus form this long. He wished dearly he had paid more attention to Hermione’s initial research. He needed to figure out how to get out, but he was afraid that if he took to the air again, something else would catch him and not wait before eating him. Besides, he had no idea where he was—he didn’t know where Malfoy lived—and no idea how to get to Hermione and Ron, who were his only hope of getting out of this mess.

Although, as odd as it was, Malfoy had been taking good care of him. He had taped up Harry’s wing and pulled up a bunch of books until he had found what he was looking for—healing spells designed for animals. He had been kind and gentle with Harry’s injuries, and was rather talkative. He chatted to Harry, even read to him from books, talked to him as one would to a person. He seemed to be rather lonely, he hadn’t mentioned anyone other than his mother. He read a lot, and spoke vaguely about going to work on Monday, but not enough for Harry to figure out what his job was.

Harry didn’t know what to make of him. On the one hand, he knew that to Malfoy, he was just an injured bird, and it would be an entirely different story if Harry in human form had tumbled through his window. But on the other hand, he had to wonder—how many sides of Malfoy were there? Harry had never known him to be capable of kindness—even to a bird. He liked it, he liked this Malfoy, sweet and talkative and…casual, in his ridiculous puffy white sleep shirt, like something out of a 1900s romance novel.

“Almost good as new,” Malfoy said, as Harry spread out his wing for him to take a look at. “Though I’ll be sad to see you go.”

Harry looked at him. It was a strange thing to say.

“I know,” said Malfoy. “A bit sad, isn’t it? Getting attached to a bird.”

He pulled the tape off of Harry’s feathers gently, careful not to pull any out.

“I always liked crows, you know? Misunderstood creatures.” Malfoy pulled out a green apple and began to chop it into little pieces for Harry. “You’re just trying to live your life. Just trying to fly around and find some food. And people call you an omen of death? Please.”

He gave a little smirk and shook his head, but his eyebrows were furrowed.

“People are scared, I think,” he continued, as Harry pecked at the pieces of apple. “Scared of things they don’t understand. Trust me, I know that all too well.”

Harry watched him. He hadn’t heard much about what Malfoy had been up to, not since the trials and that had been more than a year ago. But despite walking away from Azkaban, Malfoy couldn’t have been welcomed into the open arms of society.

“It must be said, you are far more innocent than I am,” Malfoy went on. “Can a bird even be guilty? You have no moral compass. Merlin, you don’t even understand what I’m saying and here I am, blabbering at you all day.”

Harry finished the last piece of apple and looked up at him.

“I’m pathetic,” said Malfoy, slumping over in his chair. “Is it possible I’m so lonely I’m talking to a bird?

Harry tested his wing, flapping slightly.

“I know. Don’t worry, I won’t keep you hostage. As soon as you can fly again, I’ll let you right out.”

Malfoy got up from the kitchen table, walking over to the cabinet where Aquila’s cage sat. He rifled in one of the drawers and returned with a pot of ink, a quill, and—to Harry’s surprise—a Muggle-looking notebook.

“I’m going to get one of those pens one of these days,” Malfoy said, sitting back down at the table. “Genius things. Better than a self-inking quill.”

Harry stared at him as he dipped his quill in ink and started to write.

“Mother wrote the other day,” Malfoy explained. “If I wait too long, she starts to worry.”

Harry watched him writing, his handwriting neat and slanted.

“You’d think, at twenty-two, I wouldn’t write to my mother three times a week,” Malfoy said. “I don’t think she expected me to move out so soon. She’s all alone in that big house, it must be difficult. After my father went to prison…”

He paused, his quill pressed to the notebook.

“Never mind. Not the kind of letter I want to send.”

Harry watched Malfoy writing, until finally something clicked in his head. He nearly knocked over the inkpot in his flurry of movement.

“Woah!” said Malfoy, reaching out as Harry’s wing flapped. “What’s wrong?”

Harry hopped closer to him, flapping one of his wings, trying to point to the quill.

Malfoy gave another laugh, a sound that Harry was now finding far more comforting than he expected.

“Don’t worry, no birds were harmed in the making of this quill. Birds shed feathers all the time, you should know that. I only buy ethically sourced quills, I promise.”

This information would have to be unpacked at another time. Harry jabbed his feathers at the quill again. Merlin, this was so much easier with fingers.

“What? What is it?”

Harry willed him to understand. He hopped on the letter, ink staining his feet.

“Now why are you messing up my letter?”

Harry looked down. Reading was difficult as a bird, but if he concentrated, he could do it. There had to be some way to communicate with Malfoy.

“Wait a minute,” said Malfoy. “Can you understand me?”

Harry let out a caw.

“No way,” Malfoy said in a low voice. Harry hopped on the letter again.

“Alright, alright,” said Malfoy, his eyes suddenly wide. “Let me think.”

He sat there, staring at Harry for a moment.

“Okay,” he finally said, making a shooing motion with his hand. “Back up, I think I have an idea.”

Harry hopped backwards, off of the notebook. Malfoy flipped to a new page, dipped his quill in the inkpot, and started to write.

Harry watched him, realising he was writing out the alphabet, each letter spaced about half an inch apart. He started hopping in anticipation. This could work.

“Merlin, this is insane,” said Malfoy, finishing up at the bottom of the page. “Alright, spell something out for me.”

Harry quickly hopped over to the A. He stood there and looked up at Malfoy.

“Alright, A. Keep going.”

Harry hopped across the page until he reached the N and stood there.

“A, N, alright.”

A few moments later, they were making steady progress.

“…another A, G, that’s animag—wait. Animagus. You’re an Animagus.”

Harry cawed loudly, feeling victorious. He flapped his wings excitedly and pushed his head against Malfoy’s hand, which automatically moved to stroke him.

“Bloody hell,” he said, leaning back in his chair. “An Animagus. Alright. So, what is it? You can’t transform back?”

Harry hopped over to the N on Malfoy’s notebook.

“You’re stuck. Merlin, you’re stuck in your Animagus form and my owl nearly ate you. Swear you won’t have me arrested when you’re back as a human?”

Arrested? He’d just spend two days patching up Harry’s wing, why on earth would he have him arrested?

Malfoy seemed to genuinely be waiting for an answer, so Harry hopped over to the Y and looked back up at him.

“Alright. I know the spell to turn you back, but if you’d rather have someone you know do it, I understand.”

Harry didn’t understand Malfoy’s sudden change in demeanour. He was suddenly quieter, more withdrawn. He had pulled his hand back and away from the table.

Harry supposed it must be a shock for him, discovering an animal he’d been caring for was actually a human. Not to mention the fact that Malfoy had been talking to him for two days, being open and honest in a way that Harry had never seen him before.

He started to have doubts. Malfoy certainly wouldn’t be happy to see who he was. Maybe he should ask Malfoy to take him to Hermione. Although, he supposed, spelling out Hermione’s name would certainly be clue enough as to his own identity.

He hopped over to the letter Y on the page.

“Yes?” asked Malfoy. “Yes, you want me to turn you back, or yes, you want someone you know to do it?”

Harry hopped over to the O, making sure to make eye contact with Malfoy, before going over to the U.

“You,” said Malfoy, sighing. “Alright, I’ll do it.”

He stood up from his chair. Harry hopped off the notebook so Malfoy could close it and set it aside. He sat, feeling unusually calm, although he was sure the typical human anxiety would return full force once he was back in his regular body.

Malfoy aimed his wand at him, and Harry had the fleeting thought of how strange it was to feel so relaxed with Malfoy’s wand pointed right at him before Malfoy cast.

It felt far more disorienting than all the times Hermione had done it, probably because he had never stayed in his Animagus form longer than a few hours. He felt weighed down to the table, his body heavy and bulky. He blinked several times, his hands coming up automatically to adjust his glasses, and he patted himself down his torso until he felt his wand in his pocket. He often wondered what happened to his body and clothes and such when he was in his Animagus form. Hermione said it was similar to Vanishing objects and re-Conjuring them. His head hurt slightly, probably due to his brain being confined in the small body of a crow for so long, and he had a dull sort of ache in his left arm, a similar sort of ache to what he had been feeling in his left wing the last two days.

Harry took a moment to refamiliarize himself with his body, and then looked up, suddenly remembering where he was.

Malfoy’s face had gone from wary to hard. His jaw was clenched and his eyes sharp. He had lowered his wand, but had not holstered it.

“Right,” he said, shortly. “I’m sure you can find the door on your own, Potter.”

He turned on his heel and started to walk out of the room.

“Hang on, Malfoy,” said Harry, his voice sounding slightly rough from lack of use. Malfoy stopped, but didn’t turn around.

Harry supposed he shouldn’t expect much more—after all, he and Malfoy had never exactly been on good terms. But he felt…different, and not just because he had spent two days as a bird.

“Thank you,” said Harry, unsure what else to say. He wanted Malfoy to turn around, to face him, to look at him with that open and warm expression that Harry had become accustomed to over the last few days. “For taking care of me.”

Malfoy turned around, but his face was still shuttered and stern.

“Yes, I’m sure you expected me to watch my owl dismember you and celebrate.”

“I didn’t expect that, Malfoy,” said Harry, with a sigh. He started to wonder if maybe he should have just tried to fly to Hermione on his own once he had healed.

“The door is just over there, Potter,” said Malfoy, gesturing to the front door at the other end of the room.

It was clear he wanted nothing more to do with Harry, which Harry supposed he should have seen coming, but he couldn’t just leave it like this. He was aching with curiosity, he wanted to see more of this Malfoy he had been exposed to.

“I’ll go,” said Harry. “But do you think I could see you again?”

Malfoy’s jaw unclenched, if only because his mouth fell open slightly in shock. He quickly recovered, schooling his features back into the cold mask he wore.

“Why?” he asked.

Harry shrugged.

“Because I’d like to,” he said. “I liked listening to you talk, about your books and your job and stuff. I like how you laugh, and your Muggle notebook and the fact that you make candied walnuts. And now, I can even respond.”

Malfoy raised an eyebrow, a smirk starting to grow on his face. It wasn’t that same easy, beautiful smile, but it was something, and Harry felt his stomach start to flutter slightly.

“And you’re assuming I’d want to hear what you have to say?” asked Malfoy.

Harry shrugged again, and Malfoy eyed him, as though trying to figure out what he was thinking.

“What’s this about, Potter? Did you come here on purpose?”

It was Harry’s turn to raise his eyebrows.

“Did I get caught and nearly eaten by your blasted owl on purpose?”

“Hey, don’t blame Aquila! Hunting is in her nature. Not her fault you got yourself stuck in your Animagus form. Are you even registered, Potter?”

Harry laughed, loudly and genuinely, and watched in delight as it triggered a little smile to appear on Malfoy’s face.

“Is that a yes, then?” he asked.

“A yes to what?” asked Malfoy.

“I dunno,” said Harry. “Dinner sometime?”

“Are you asking me out on a date, Potter?” asked Malfoy, clearly teasing, hand on his hip and his eyes twinkling with mischief.

“Yeah,” said Harry, grinning. “Yeah, I am. Are you saying yes?”

Malfoy gaped at him, momentarily forgetting to put in the effort to look cool and collected and uncaring.

“I—what on earth—alright, hell, yes. Why not?”

“Great!” said Harry. “I should probably go tell Hermione I’m alive, since she hasn’t heard from me in two days. Can I pick you up tonight? At seven?”

“Eight,” said Malfoy, looking thoroughly overwhelmed. “I’m going to need some time to absorb what just happened.”

Harry laughed, feeling as light as a bird.