Before breakfast on the day before Christmas, Harry finds Draco slumped on the library floor.
He is sprawled against the books on one side of the "Magical Creatures: Flying: Birds" aisle. His eyes are closed and his head is tipped on his shoulder, tongue peeking out.
Harry thinks Malfoy looks quite harmless, even defenseless in the morning chill with his neck exposed and pale because his Slytherin scarf is now owl nest. He nudges Malfoy's foot.
Pale eyes crack open. "Family planning, Potter."
Harry is watching the tip of the raggedy quill as Malfoy stabs at paragraphs in The Reproductive Characteristics of Magical Owls. He is trying to work out if he's pissed off or pleased that Malfoy knows about snowy owl breeding seasons.
- "Two weeks before the winter solstice, with laying on New Year's Eve." Draco points the quill at Harry, looking just like Hermione when she's explaining simple charms to first years. "Just over a week from tonight, Potter." -
Why is Malfoy so pleased? Harry fumes, and grabs the quill, because it's making him furious, that tatty quill, and that book, and Draco fucking Malfoy falling asleep in the library because he got up early to find things out about poor Hedwig.
- "The number of eggs in the clutch is entirely dependent on how much, and with what, the male provisions the female. Snowy owls can l ay anything up to 12 eggs in one clutch, if the female receives large amounts of fresh-"
Malfoy purses his lips at the interruption. Harry sees impatience and indulgence flicker in his eyes.
"Three, Malfoy, she can have three babies. You work out how to do it. Or how Quetzal will do it. Whatever." Harry sighs. "I'm going back to bed."
At dinnertime Harry sits next to Malfoy and sulks. They don't speak until Harry offers Malfoy his pudding.
"I can't eat."
Malfoy raises his eyebrows and digs his spoon into Harry's plum pie. Harry thinks in disgust that Malfoy is an even messier eater than Seamus, and can't believe the sloppy dribble of ice-cream on Malfoy's chin.
Honestly, he thinks, and pulls from his pocket a new quill. It is short but slender, and pure white, a gift from Hedwig's forewing. He puts it on the table in front of Malfoy, who gives him a sideways glance and a… smile?
"Merry Christmas," says Harry quietly.
There's a long, flecked black quill with a very small green ribbon hanging off the Fat Lady's portrait.
Quetzal delivers mail for both of them now, so Harry thinks he should sit with Malfoy at breakfast time. Harry gets bits and pieces of mail from most of the other Gryffindors, and something from Ron everyday. Harry hasn't told anyone about Hedwig. He writes imaginary letters in his head:
Hedwig is having babies. With Malfoy's owl. Isn't that hilarious? And Malfoy is here at Christmas, I don't know why. I could ask him, as I share toast and jam with him every morning, but there never seems to be the right moment.
How was Christmas with your grandparents? Give my love to everyone.
The curiosity is killing him. Why are you here and not at the Manor? Why have you cut your hair like that, you silly git? Why haven't you had mail from home? Why does Dumbledore look at you with that kind smile?
"Why Quetzal?" Harry plays with the little soft feathers on the owl's feet, who hoots softly and swivels yellow eyes around at the sound of his name.
Malfoy idly scritches his fingers on the tabletop to beckon to his pet. "Aztec god. Feathered snake." Quetzal hops over and pecks Malfoys knuckles. "Thought it was cool." He shrugs, and slides his hands out in front of him until he's face down on the table.
"Huh," says Harry.
Harry is flying lazy looping circles over the lake on New Years Eve. Weak late afternoon sun glances off the snowdrifts below him, off the pale frozen surface of the lake, and off a figure in white in the owlery turret. Harry ducks his head and dips downwards into the breeze.
Malfoy is perched in the window, wearing a white cloak with the hood pulled up, picking at his fingernails.
"Hedwig's eyes are blue," he whispers, "and Quetzal tried to nip me when I went near the nest."
Harry can't help it. He feels excited and nervous, real pit-of-his-stomach trembly. He maneuvers into the window bay and crouches down, wedging into the small ledge with Malfoy. It's cold this high up, but Harry doesn't want to disturb the birds by jumping down into the turret. He pulls up the hood on his cloak like Malfoy and they wait, and shiver a bit when the wind blows strong. Harry wouldn't want to call it huddling, exactly, but there isn't much room.
"Malfoy - "
"Not now." Malfoy pushes back his hood a little. Harry feels the world shift very slightly, and he frowns, thinking bloodshot eyes, and his fingers clench.
"Just. Later." The hood falls off when Malfoy tips his head right back, eyes screwed shut. "I'll tell you later."
The sky is dark and Dumbledore's New Year firefaeries are flittering all across the grounds. They are both nearly frozen when Quetzal whooshes by Harry's head.
Very quietly they clamber out of the window bay. Harry has to steady himself on Malfoy's shoulder as his foot has gone to sleep, and for a moment he thinks hundreds of things like
I miss Ron and Happy New Year and Hope there's butterbeer in the hall and Velvet, his cloak is velvet and Hedwig is so beautiful and Mustn't forget my broom and I want to give Hermione one of these baby owls and Still can't feel my foot and
Malfoy whispers lumos, and in the corner they see the nest of twigs and grass and Slytherin scarf and a ruffled and plump Hedwig and what looks like three eggs.