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February 15th

Chapter Text

The smacking noise of an interdepartmental memo hitting the side of his head rang loudly in the quiet lift. One of the wizards in the elevator with him chuckled a bit, and leaned over to hand Draco the blue parchment that was a bit bent at the tip.

"Thanks," he said, taking the memo with his free hand. What he didn't say was thank you for stopping that particularly Potter-oriented train of thought.

The coffee in his other hand, in a travel mug he'd gotten for Christmas that year from Granger, filled the small space with the rich aroma of a dark Italian roast. He couldn't open the memo with only one hand, and he was not about to set the mug down with how greedily one of the witches was inhaling the scent. However, he could make out his first and last name written in untidy scrawl over the top, without a return department on the other flap, as was customary.

Only through his considerable force of will did he not sprint to his desk to open the note immediately. No one sent Draco Malfoy of the Magical Detachment Facility, little blue notes. But over the last week he'd been sending requests for documents to several departments. And, there was the little detail of full reinstatement of both his funds and power.

Signing Lord Draco L. Malfoy, Arithmancy Master was sincerely gratifying.

When he rounded the corner of his cubicle, he was struck by how many other little notes were flocked on top of his desk. He struggled to find a safe place for the ceramic mug, and gave up, putting it on top of his metal filing cabinet.

"They were waiting to fly in when I opened the office today," Lorna said, smirking as she marched up to Draco's cubicle. Her pride shone like a star. "You'll find your theories and ideas have caused a stir up above."

"A stir? You call...forty five memos in one day a stir? Madame Gastigan, this is an uproar!" The incredulous, and delighted, wonder in his voice was not lost on her.

"Lorna, dear boy. The next time you say that name I'll put grounds in your coffee."

A slow build of giddiness, shadowed a bit by nervous energy, tipped his lips up in a smirk. "I brought my own, thanks."

Lorna lightly smacked the highest part of him he could reach, the meat of his shoulder, and chuckled as she trotted back to her office. He could see a small flock of notes waiting for her as well, hitting the door insistently, and all of them unceremoniously fell ontop of the already mountainous piles of paperwork. He sat down heavily in his desk chair, summoning his coffee from its perch, and sighed happily at the task before him. Several weeks stood between his department and Valentine's day now. Without the extra witches and wizards filing through the office, he had both time and energy to devote to the happy distraction before him.

Lord Malfoy, it has been brough to my attention you've requested copies of the census...

Draco, darling, so good to hear of your probation ending! Do make the stop in my office for tea like you promised last month. Theo should be back from India by that time. I did find it interesting the motivation for your request to my department's attendance records...

Hello, Master Malfoy. St. Mungo's is thrilled in your interest towards the ongiong development of our Muggle Relations team...

Malfoy - stop avoiding the office and ask your questions here.

The last missive caught him off guard. This one was clipped, undiplomatic, and refreshingly not vying to get in his good graces now that he wasn't under strict probation. Two letters scrawled on the back raised the hairs on the back of his neck. R. W. Was it too much to hope the handwriting belonged to Randall Wilkins?

"Hey, Malfoy."

Draco cleared his throat and dropped the note on top of the others he'd read. "Good morning, June."

"You've got a few dozen more notes at my desk. Mind taking them?"

"Send them down, please."

June didn't say a word as she turned and went to the next counselor with their morning announcements and appointments. He didn't mind the cold shoulder. Much more comfortable than the unsubtle hints dropped before Valentine's day. He hoped she'd found someone to hold her attention, as fiery as she was, his flames burned in a different direction. A direction Ronald Weasley all but demanded he run down.

He ignored the note, moving it to the bottom of his in folder when he couldn't stop looking at it on top of all the others. His fingers were freckled with ink by the time the lunch hour rolled around, and he couldn't blame the rolling of his stomach to only drinking coffee.

Without pausing to let anyone where he was going, to avoid the predictable oh could you grab me this's or mind stopping here's. Draco left the scarf on the coatrack but grabbed his jacket. March was more forgiving than February but not by much.

The hallways were full of wix on their way to their lunch break, a clock several meters above their heads chiming noon in the Atrium. He counted the chimes in his head like he always did at noon, adjusting his steps to move in time with the rhythm. The lines were too long at the lifts and he refused to Floo if he could help it, so he made his way to the solitary desk near a set of black doors, nodding to the witch at the counter. She glanced up from her book Werewolves of the Second Moon to jerk her head towards the exit for him. He sprinted up the two flights of stairs to the street level, passing by a second witch who was an exact duplicate of the one below, a mirage for the sake of Muggles attempting to enter.

A wave of rain hit his head before he had the sense to pull his shrunken umbrella out of his coat pocket. Cursing, he fumbled until he had it, hiding beneath the eaves as much as possible. He cast impervius on both shoes and his trousers to repel the splashes of puddles all around.

He noticed around the first corner that a pair of footsteps were matching up with his own, a sound missed in larger crowds, and wondered how long he'd had a follower. Living in London with insomnia afforded him a relative confident knowledge of back alleys and streets. The steps persisted, giving themselves away as a potential assailant. Taking a deep breath, he raised his arm as if to hail a taxi as he reached another street corner, but he let momentum carry him and swung the arm instead to forcefully use his palm to hit their sternum. It wasn't enough to knock the wind out of anyone older than a child, but it was enough to stun Harry Potter as he was caught.

"Merlin!" Draco exclaimed, fisting his hand into Harry's drenched cloak instead of pulling away, dragging him under the plastic covering outside the cafe he'd been headed to. He let go as soon as they were under and all but launched himself to the opposite side. "Fuck, Potter. What's the matter with you?"

"I could ask the same!" Harry fired back, ripping off his glasses and reapplying an impervius. The rain poured on top of the cover, loud and near deafening, but Harry's voice cut through the sound like an arrow. "I came up for lunch, you numpty, didn't know you were the one dragging your heels in front of me."

Draco narrowed his eyes as he watched Harry put the glasses back on and run his hand through his hair to push the curly mop back. "So you weren't following me?" Harry shook his head once, firmly, his mouth in the most distracting pout. "I hate it when you Gryffindors tell the truth. Utterly infuriating."

It seemed to soften Harry, the pout twitching as if he wanted to laugh. "It's wretched out, let's go to the loo."

"What?" Draco spluttered, swinging his head from gazing in the steamed windows to examine Harry closely.

"It's a Muggle shop, I usually use the bathroom for any spells, and I refuse to eat wearing rain-soaked clothes. Besides. You still owe me a date."

Draco swallowed, watching Harry slip into the door, glancing once over his shoulder to throw Draco what could have been a shy grin, but he couldn't tell properly with raindrops stuck to his eyelashes, distorting his vision to a kaleidoscope. The bell chiming loudly before it was cut off by a thunderclap overhead.

He shuffled his feet. He took his hands out of his pockets and folded his arms petulantly. He shook his head to release the last of the water droplets gluing the strands to his face. He let four other people walk in before him and wished he hadn't quit smoking so he would have an excuse to stand outside. Through the distorted fog he could see straight to the men's room, where Harry held the door open for a bloke who almost stumbled directly into him. The sight of his winning smile facing someone else snapped something in him.

"Fucking hell," he grumbled, yanking the door more forcefully than necessary, and hoped Fate was having a good laugh at his expense.