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Too Cold Outside (For Angels to Fly)

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[IMAGE: London's Tower Bridge lit up at night.]

"Hello, Harry," Luna said brightly, leaning in to brush her lips against his cheek. "I'm glad you were able to meet me today."

"Yeah, of course," Harry replied. He'd been somewhat surprised to get Luna's owl yesterday asking if he was free for coffee this afternoon, as they'd just seen one another at her party the previous weekend, but he was more than happy to see her again. "I was a little surprised by the location though."

She'd asked to meet at Potters Fields Park in Muggle London, which wasn't anywhere near their usual haunts, though he had to admit, the views of the Tower Bridge were spectacular. Across the Thames he could see the Tower of London, which of course made him think back to Friday night, when he and Draco had watched the Muggle ice skaters before sharing that mind-melting kiss. The fact that Luna had contacted him out of the blue to meet up so near to the scene of that recent… incident, seemed like some kind of sign. A sign of what, however, Harry had no idea.

"Oh, I just had a meeting at the Bridge Theatre." She gestured vaguely towards a modern-looking building that bordered the park. "We've been thinking of bringing The Hornless Snorkack to the Muggles—we've already talked to the Ministry's Department of Culture and confirmed that it shouldn't violate the Statute if we modify the play to remove the spellwork. I think the Muggles will really enjoy it, don't you?"

In addition to her work as Editor of the Quibbler, and the assistance she gave her husband, Rolf, in his career as a magizoologist, Luna had recently decided to become a playwright. The Hornless Snorkack was her first foray into the world of theatre, and Rolf—always her biggest supporter—had worked tirelessly to bring it to the stage. It was… an experience, to say the least, and exactly the kind of strange and magical play one would expect Luna to write. Lucky for her, eccentricity was often rewarded both in the wizarding world and when it came to the theatre, and the play had enjoyed a modest success, much to Harry's surprise. He wasn't entirely sure how the play would translate for a non-magical audience, but he'd let Luna and Rolf deal with that.

"I'm sure the Muggles won't have ever seen anything like it," Harry said sincerely. Luna beamed.

"Yes, my thoughts exactly," she said dreamily. "Though I'm not sure the Bridge Theatre is a good fit. They had a very serious infestation of Nargles, though of course I couldn't tell the Muggles that." She frowned. "It might only be from all the mistletoe they had up for Christmas, though—you know how much Nargles love mistletoe. I'll have to come back in January and see if it's cleared up."

Harry grinned as Luna took his arm and began to guide them towards the coffee shop across the park. "That sounds like a very smart idea."

They continued to chat about the play and her thoughts on the expansion into Muggle London as they queued up and got their coffees, sitting down at one of the tables with a lovely view of the bridge. The sun was already beginning to set, though it was only late afternoon. The diminishing daylight was one of Harry's least favourite parts of winter, but he couldn't deny that the Tower Bridge looked quite lovely as the lights began to turn on, as did the trees throughout the park, all decked out in Christmas lights.

"But that's enough about me," Luna said as they settled in. "Tell me about you and Draco."

Harry choked on his latte while Luna watched him tranquilly. "What about me and Draco?" Harry asked carefully, once he'd cleared the coffee from his lungs.

"We didn't get a chance to talk much at my party, but I could tell your new partnership was weighing on you, and it's even more obvious now. Did something happen?"

Harry hesitated. "Do you think it's possible for somebody like Draco to really change? I mean, it's been ten years, and a lot has happened to him—to all of us—since the war, but the things he did…"

"Are you asking because you think he hasn't and you don't know if you can work with him? Or because you think he has, and you feel guilty about it?"

Luna always had been more perceptive than anybody gave her credit for. "The latter," Harry admitted reluctantly. Luna smiled serenely.

"Yes, I thought so. I won't deny that Draco did and thought some horrible things as a child, but I do think change is possible," she said. "What would be the point of it all if there was no room to grow and change? From what I've seen and heard of Draco, I don't think he's the same boy he once was." She paused and took a sip of her herbal tea, her gaze distant and somewhat troubled. "Even towards the end of the war, he was changing, I think. When I was held captive at the Manor, I could tell how much he hated what was happening. I used to resent him for being so cowardly, for not even trying to make things better for us by sneaking us extra food or blankets, but knowing now that he'd already presented as a Veela…" She shuddered, the action seeming to snap her out of the vague trance she'd been in as she met Harry's gaze. "It does change the way I view what happened. I don't condone his actions, but I imagine that would have been very difficult for him, having got in so deep and realising he was a Veela on top of all that. He must have been petrified of stepping so much as a toe out of line for fear he might be found out."

"Yeah," Harry agreed, a shiver going through him as he thought of what might have happened had Voldemort discovered Draco's secret. It put Draco's refusal to concretely name Harry at the Manor into a new light. True, Draco hadn't outright denied that it had been Harry, but given how desperately Draco hadn't wanted to attract notice, just the fact that he'd not immediately handed Harry over…

"I do think he's different," Harry said, fiddling with a paper napkin on the table. "We work well together, and I think this partnership could actually work. He's smart, you know? Sharp. He really knows what he's doing."

"Those all sound like positive attributes," Luna said. Harry nodded, and she gave him one of her placid, penetrating stares. "So why are you saying them like they're a bad thing?"

"What if it's just the Allure?" Harry blurted out. "He's a Veela, right? He's got the ability, and I don't think he'd use it on me, but… isn't it a little weird, how quickly I trust him?"

Luna was silent for a moment and then, "Do you like him, Harry?"

Harry's cheeks grew warm and he focused on shredding the napkin in his hands into even smaller pieces. "I just said I did." Harry could practically feel Luna's unimpressed stare. The silence grew heavy, and Harry sighed.

"Yeah," he whispered. "I do."

"And that's why you're so worried?"

"I mean, the trust thing is a pretty big deal, too, given everything he's done. And yeah, he's fit, whatever, I've got eyes. But I like him. Draco Malfoy. Me." He gave her a look that conveyed exactly how bizarre that turn of events was, before continuing in a whisper, "What if it's not real?"

Luna's expression was gentle, kind. "Do you really think that, Harry? Or are you just worried that's what everybody else will think if they find out?"

Harry didn't answer. He wasn't sure himself.

"Okay then, how about this," Luna said with a soft smile when Harry remained silent. "You've been around other Veela before, yes?"

Harry nodded. "There were full Veela at the Quidditch World Cup the summer before fourth year, and I've been around Fleur and Gabrielle loads, who are both partial Veela."

"And have you ever felt the effects of the Veela Allure during any of those encounters?"

Harry remembered the first time he'd seen the Veela dancing from up in the Quidditch stands during the World Cup, the way he'd gone light-headed and how he'd half-wanted to pitch himself off the Top Box in a fit of gallantry. It had felt almost trance-like, not dissimilar to the feeling of being under the Imperius Curse. His eyes widened. "Yeah," he said slowly. "But just the once. Only the first time I ever saw a Veela, when I didn't know what to expect."

Luna's smile widened, clearly pleased he was following her logic. "Veela Allure is most effective the first time, and particularly if you're caught unawares. Prolonged exposure, knowledge of the effects, and a strong will all weaken its power. I'd imagine that somebody who can throw off the Imperius would be pretty hard to influence."

"That's true," Harry said thoughtfully, working through the implications. "We saw the Veela again after that first time, when we were at the World Cup, and Ron was still affected but I wasn't. And he and the rest of the boys at school always went mad around Fleur, and she didn't seem to affect me the same way."

"And they all acted like a bunch of fools," Luna said with a wrinkle of her nose. "They all said whatever they thought would sound the most impressive, even if it was an outright lie. Have you had the urge to tell Draco you defeated a Dark Lord and saved the country at the age of seventeen?" She giggled and winked. "Oh, wait, I suppose that would be true."

"Oh, piss off," he said with a laugh. "I doubt reminding Draco that we were on the opposite sides of a genocidal war as children would be the way to his heart."

"Is that what you want?" she asked mildly over the rim of her cup. "To find the way to Draco's heart?"

Heat flooded Harry's face and he groaned, folding his arms against the table and pressing his forehead against them. "I kissed him," he mumbled to the table.

"What was that?"

He sighed again and tilted his head so it was his chin against his fingers instead of his forehead. He bit his lip and then said again, "I kissed Draco."

Luna's eyes widened, but she didn't look disgusted or horrified, so he supposed that was a win. Actually, what she most seemed was amused. Her lips twitched and, when Harry glared at her, she brought her hand up to her mouth to cover a "cough" that sounded suspiciously like a laugh.

"Oh," she said after she'd finished 'coughing'. "I suppose that makes more sense why you were so worried about the Allure."

"Yeah."

"Are you still worried that could be a factor?"

"No," Harry admitted. "I don't think I ever really was."

"How was the kiss?" Luna's expression gleamed with unrepressed curiosity. Harry groaned again.

"Bloody fantastic," he said with feeling. "I don't think I've ever had such an amazing first kiss. I don't know that I've ever had such an amazing kiss, full stop."

"You really do like him, don't you?"

"I really fucking do," Harry said miserably. "I wake up in the morning thrilled to go to work so I can see him again. Just the scent of his stupid cologne makes my heart race. I get fucking butterflies when he smiles at me."

"Oh, aren't those feelings the best?" Luna asked dreamily. She looked like she was seconds from clapping her hands together in delight, much to Harry's alarm.

"No, they bloody well aren't," Harry grumbled. "It's horrible."

Luna's brow furrowed, as if she couldn't imagine why Harry wasn't jumping for joy at his predicament. Harry gave her an incredulous stare.

"He's my Auror partner, Luna. I don't know what he wants. I don't know what I want. And most importantly, he's Draco bloody Malfoy."

"Yes, that does present a bit of a problem," Luna replied, her expression creased with sympathy. "You could always try talking to him. I'm not saying that you should necessarily be together, but don't let the past or your fear of other people's opinions keep you from pursuing something you want."

"He said it was a mistake," Harry said, remembering the heavy feeling in his stomach at Draco's pronouncement. "I agreed."

Luna nodded. "Yes, well, he does have a lot more to lose than you do. I'm not surprised he's cautious."

"More to lose?"

This time it was Luna's turn to look incredulous. "As you said earlier, he's Draco bloody Malfoy. I don't know how the Prophet hasn't caught wind that he's the Being in question that was brought on for the pilot programme the DMLE and DRCMC have been trying to get off the ground for years, but you can be sure they'll have some thoughts on Draco being an Auror—both due to him being a Veela and for being a former Death Eater. It's been ten years, but a lot of people haven't forgotten or forgiven, and he's going to have an uphill battle fighting discrimination on both fronts."

Harry's expression twisted, remembering the looks and the wide berth they'd been given in Diagon. If it was just because of Draco's actions during the war, Harry would be more understanding, but he didn't think that was exclusively the case. "Yeah, that's true."

"Dating you… it could really blow up in his face. All those worries you just had about the Veela Allure? Guess what the papers will say first? And if it's not the Allure, it'll be some Love Potion or Dark Magic. Not to say what might happen if you were to get together and break up. He doesn't have friends, family, nor connections here any longer. It's a pretty vulnerable place to be in."

She was right, and Harry hated it, hated the thought that Draco could suffer so much just for being with him. Harry didn't even know if that was something Draco wanted—hell, Harry didn't know if it was something he wanted, either—but the thought that they might never even have a chance to explore the possibility… Which was ridiculous, because Harry had already come to the same conclusion. They'd both agreed Friday night that the kiss was a mistake, that it couldn't happen again. There was no reason to feel so disappointed just because Luna had pointed out yet another thing set against them.

He took a sip of his latte—already cold—and flashed Luna a slightly forced smile. She was smart enough to know it wasn't genuine and kind enough not to challenge him on it.

"Well, no use talking about it anymore, is there? Why don't you tell me about the trip you and Rolf have planned for the winter holidays?" Luna and Rolf spent the last two weeks of every year travelling to some new exotic location in search of the latest mythical creature. It was something Luna looked forward to with great anticipation, and was a topic she could generally speak on for hours.

Luna gave him a kind look that told Harry she knew exactly what he was up to, but thankfully, she seemed willing enough to change the subject… for now.

"Well," she began with an excited smile. "This year we're going to Borneo to look for…"