Draco's feet were unwilling to support his weight. He had to drag them to breakfast, mourning the fact that one didn't have the luxury of leaving their feet behind when they were being useless and uncooperative. As well as one's head, really, as it was clear his head was the main cause of his troubles. A pounding headache made it feel twice as large, and Draco had to go as far as thoroughly inspecting it in the mirror to make sure it was normal-sized.
It served him right. Who in their right mind studied late on a Saturday night? What was he thinking? He spent far too much time studying. The N.E.W.T.s were still far away, and even though last year had been a blur of fear and pain, he'd learnt more than he realised. If he'd had any say in this, he would have never come back to Hogwarts. But apparently in order to have a future, one must have a good reputation, a good education and loads of gold. He had certainly lost the good reputation, and his father was the one with all the gold, so a good education was all he could aspire to. Nonetheless, the amount of studying he had done in the past several months was simply unnatural. Even his father would think he was exaggerating.
Well, no. No, he wouldn't.
Draco scowled and shook off thoughts of his father. They made him uneasy. His father's usual pressuring ways increased tenfold this year. All because the two of them had failed to do what all the Malfoys had managed before them — pick the winning side. Well, fuck that, was all Draco had to say about it. He couldn't fix it by getting an O in Potions. Not that he planned to get anything less than an O in Potions. But fewer headaches and more obedient feet should definitely be a part of his plan.
It was settled. He was having fun today, and no one was stopping him. It was Sunday, after all, and he deserved a break. All he had to do was decide how best to entertain himself. Quidditch was the obvious choice, but he'd have to find someone to play with. Instead, he might pick a convenient spot for setting up an ambush to throw snowballs at unsuspecting students. He didn't need anyone's help with that.
Draco felt much better when he walked into the Great Hall, either because of his resolution or because of the sweet scent of food. The Hall was packed with light and colour and chatter and bacon. There was no room for headaches and heavy limbs or the anxious feeling he should be doing something relevant rather than have a moment of peace.
As he sat down next to Pansy at the Slytherin table, Draco glanced across the Hall out of sheer habit. Potter was in his usual spot, surrounded by his gang of Gryffindors, laughing with Weasley and Granger at something the Weasley girl was saying. Gaze fixed on Potter, Draco filled his plate with bacon and eggs. Potter would have to look his way today because today was a fun day, and winding Potter up was simply the best possible entertainment available. And it was so easy. For example, all Draco had to do was scowl at him, and Potter's eyes would promptly narrow, as though he couldn't believe someone would dare to give him the evil eye after he had saved them all so bravely. But Draco dared and was mighty proud of it.
Draco felt even more daring today. When Potter finally looked at him, Draco not only scowled, he made a rude gesture in Potter's general direction. Potter's look of confusion was golden. But it only lasted for about two seconds. In the next moment, Potter's lips twitched, as though he were about to smile, and then he winked.
"I slept very well, thank you for asking."
Pansy's annoyed voice made Draco look around. "Right. Good morning," he said, distracted. Potter had turned away towards his friends, as though nothing out of the ordinary happened. Draco stared at the back of his head. "Potter just winked at me."
Pansy gave a huge sigh. "Oh, don't start."
"With the Potter hate. It's too early in the morning for that." She glanced around nervously. "Or at least keep your voice down." Pansy did not scowl at Potter these days. She tended either to smile at him, with a shyness of a two-year-old, or to avoid looking at him altogether. Her loss, really.
"No, Pansy, you don't understand. He winked at me."
"Mm-hmm. Which is clearly a sign of him planning to do something horrid to you."
"Well, maybe." Potter didn't look like someone who was making evil plans, though. He was laughing with his friends again, ignoring Draco.
"Or you imagined it," Pansy went on. "Or he was winking at someone else, and you're just really self-involved." She scowled at her sausage. "Or maybe he was winking at Blaise."
Draco whipped around to glare suspiciously at Blaise, who was pouring himself some pumpkin juice. "Why would he be winking at Blaise?"
"Everyone's winking at Blaise."
Blaise must have felt eyes on him because he looked up, smiled, and winked. Draco's cheeks heated up. He was completely charmed for a few seconds, and then he shook his head to snap out of it. He had long suspected that Blaise was actually a Veela.
"I see," Draco said. "But I doubt Potter was winking at any of the Slytherins."
"You're a Slytherin."
"He was winking at me evilly. There's a difference."
Pansy shook her head and continued to maul her sausage.
Draco scanned the Hall in search of something else that was amiss. A Hufflepuff boy smiled at him, but Hufflepuffs were strange and smiled too much in general, so that might not have been all that relevant. Everything else seemed normal enough. Perhaps a little too normal. For all he knew, the other three houses might have been planning something, a vicious trick to pull on the Slytherins. Or Draco specifically. He expected it to happen long before this. The entire year had an air of calm before the storm. The Gryffindors were just generally too friendly, in his opinion. Perhaps it was a kind of graciousness only winners could afford.
As worrying as that thought was, out of the corner of his eye, Draco noticed Pansy pouring something into her pumpkin juice. She downed the whole thing with several large gulps and then let out a happy sigh.
Draco was more than a little unnerved. "What was that?"
She looked up, blinking. "What was what?"
"You just put something in your pumpkin juice. A potion or something."
"So?" She lifted her chin. "It's my pumpkin juice. I can put whatever I like in it."
"But... are you sick or —"
"I'd appreciate it if you didn't pry." She seemed quite flustered. "I'd suggest you worry about Potter's evil plans instead."
"You told me not to."
"No, go right ahead. Just do it quietly."
Several Slytherins were already looking their way, and Draco let it slide for now. He poked Pansy in the ribs. "You need more fun in your life. Come on. Let's go out and play some Quidditch." It was a long shot, he was aware.
"As if. I have to study. You should come with me to the library instead."
That was, without a doubt, the last thing Draco wanted to hear. For a second, he felt like growling, but he managed to keep his temper in check. "I'm sick of studying. All I've done for months is study. We should do something fun."
Pansy gave him a withering look. "I can't afford fun."
Draco sighed. Pansy had the same reputation-education-gold problem he had. Only her father had far less gold than Draco's, so she was probably worse off. It still didn't mean she had to study on a Sunday.
Just as well. She wasn't any good at Quidditch, anyway. Except neither was Goyle, unless one wanted to be knocked off their broom a lot. Besides, he was still in bed and likely not to wake up before noon. Draco would not be playing Quidditch today, it seemed. Just as he didn't get to play it yesterday.
Accepting the fact that Pansy would be of no help, Draco quickly finished his breakfast, drank some juice, and escaped the Great Hall. But not before he trapped Pansy's head in his palms, blew in her ear, and said, "You better not be on drugs you're not sharing." She pushed him away with a grimace, and he left her alone.
Only when he reached the Entrance Hall and looked outside did he notice that the snow had melted overnight. He'd be setting up no snowball-throwing ambushes now.
Or ever, he realised. He'd be long gone by the time snow covered Hogwarts grounds again.
It hit him suddenly: three more months and he'd leave the school, its familiar routine and the company of a thousand students forever. Many of them he'd never see again, except in passing. He'd be at home, with his parents, figuring out his future career path, searching for a job. It was likely he'd be trapped in the manor for months, if not longer. This wouldn't have been a problem two years ago, but these days his home was a darker, damper place.
And here he was, worrying he'd have no one to play Quidditch with today, but that described his future, not just a random Sunday.
Draco scowled at the loud, laughing Great Hall. On the other hand, this lot was utterly annoying, and he'd finally be free of them. Really, it gave cause for celebration not worry.
There was at least one fun thing he could always do, and he didn't need anyone to help him. He decided to go back to his dormitory and have a good, long wank.
He'd already made his way towards the dungeons when he caught movement in the corner of his eye. Potter had exited the Great Hall all by himself, which wouldn't be strange, except Draco couldn't remember the last time he saw Potter wandering about all alone. Normally, friends and admirers surrounded him, and he couldn't make a step without them. It looked like he might have snuck out. Draco felt obligated to investigate the matter.
He doubled back and hurried after Potter, who had already turned the corner. Left or right, Draco didn't know, but the left corridor led to Gryffindor Tower, so Draco picked that one.
Potter was nowhere to be seen. He couldn't have disappeared that fast. Unless… Unless he had used his Invisibility Cloak. That was probably it. Perhaps this was Potter's fun day, too, and Draco was his target. He was somewhere near, laughing at the fact it was so easy to get Draco to follow him. Pansy was right. Draco had to be careful not to show too much interest in Potter, or it would all backfire, and Potter would feel like an even bigger celebrity.
Draco spun around and headed back for the dungeons. Honestly. Now that he thought about it, he was sure he knew what this was all about. Slytherin had lost the match yesterday and was likely to lose the Cup, but Draco had assumed no one would mock him for it since the new captain kicked him off the team months ago. Not even postponing the Gryffindor-Slytherin match to give the new Seeker time to prepare helped. Gryffindor still won. The match was an embarrassment. The new Seeker was no threat to Potter. So if anyone had mocking rights here, it was Draco. At least that would be clear to people capable of logical thinking. He should have known Potter and his lot would be more interested in any excuse to make Draco feel like shit. This was likely an ambush. The Gryffindors would jump out of corners any moment now to insult him and goad him into doing something that would get him into trouble. He had to get away before that happened. Yesterday, after the match, Potter had given him such an intense and clearly evil look, Draco had escaped to the safety of his dormitory. He had managed to erase Potter from his memory by concentrating hard on his Transfiguration essay. But if Potter thought Draco was guilty of something, he was unlikely to just let it go.
Draco hurried down the corridor, trying not to look over his shoulder too much.
His paranoia was not unjustified.
Something fast emerged from the darkness. It grabbed Draco's arm and pulled. Before he could react, Draco was manhandled into a broom cupboard. The door slammed shut. Lights flared. Draco's thundering heart stopped beating altogether.
"Potter?" he breathed, for it was Potter, with his black hair and green eyes, which were entirely too green and entirely too close.
Despite all his earlier theories, Draco didn't actually expect Potter to ambush him like this. He truly didn't do anything to earn Potter's ire. Not this time. Potter had no reason to assault him, unless it was because Draco had flipped him the bird earlier.
Draco went for his wand, but Potter flattened his palms against Draco's chest and pushed him against the wall. He didn't look angry. But he looked... intense. Draco froze. He just stood there, helpless, as Potter leaned in and kissed him. Kissed him right on the mouth with warm lips and passion that made Draco's head spin. In his shock, Draco didn't even close his eyes. He could see Potter clearly, the dark locks of his hair falling around his face, the frames of his round glasses, the thick eyelashes resting on his cheeks. Potter's tongue slid into Draco's mouth with a slow, sinuous twirl that had Draco's body reacting instantly. His skin heated up and a pleasant pressure built low in his stomach. He almost let go, closed his eyes and kissed back, but this was Potter. It made no sense.
Draco grabbed Potter's shoulders and shoved him off. Potter looked surprised, frowning between Draco's face and Draco's hands that held Potter at a safe distance.
"What the hell are you doing?" Draco whispered even though he meant to yell. His throat was dry and his voice low, and his lips felt full, hot and tingling. It made talking difficult.
"It's called kissing." Potter cocked his head. "Or snogging if you prefer. But I heard you can't use that term seriously after you've turned seventeen."
Now that Potter was no longer kissing him, Draco's mind was clearer. Clear enough for him to be really fucking pissed off. "I don't know what you're trying to pull, but it's not funny." Draco was pleased to hear his voice sounded calm and threatening this time.
It had no effect on Potter, however. He merely smiled. "Well, there was something I wanted to pull, and I definitely didn't count on you laughing about it. So I think we're on the same page."
Draco blinked at Potter's smiling face, lost for words. Potter was flirting so blatantly it was impossible to misunderstand. Which meant he had gone quite mad. Or someone put him up to it through magical means. Or Draco was going mad, and this wasn't even happening.
"Er." Potter looked down at Draco's hands. "Have you been working out? Because that's quite a grip you have there. Pretty soon I'll have to say Ow." Potter bit his lip. "In a very turned on way, of course."
Potter was not only mad, his madness was contagious. Draco could feel himself giving in, wanting nothing more than to just let go and let Potter flirt with him and kiss him as much as he wanted.
Draco's arms lost their strength. Potter approached, his hands on Draco's chest again, his smiling mouth tantalisingly close.
"See? I'm irresistible."
He really was. At least Draco couldn't resist him when Potter bent his head to the side and pressed his warm lips to Draco's neck, sucking and licking the tender spot below Draco's ear. Potter's teeth grazed his skin, and Draco shivered, his hips bucking only to be stopped by Potter's grip. When had Potter managed to get his hands there, Draco didn't know, but it seemed like the most perfect spot for them. Something fiery and intense clenched his insides every time he tried to move and Potter didn't let him.
"I hate robes," Potter mumbled, nipping on Draco's jaw, his palms dragging against the fabric of Draco's robes, up and down and around his waist and hips, as though in desperate search for an opening they could break through. It made Draco hate robes, too, with a passion he normally reserved for... Well, for Potter. "Would you mind terribly if I rip them?" Potter asked, breathless, his lips close to Draco's again. He pulled Draco's bottom lip between his teeth, bit down lightly, then licked and sucked the sore skin. Draco caught himself making a pathetic whimpering sound. It scared him so much he pushed Potter away again.
Potter didn't seem overly concerned; Draco didn't manage to push him very far. Potter's hands were still firm on Draco's hips.
"You worry about your clothes too much," Potter told him, in a fond sort of way that only added to Draco's confusion.
"It's not my clothes I'm worried about," Draco said. He was more worried about his sanity. This wasn't actually happening, surely. It was all in his head.
Potter's face filled with genuine concern. "Why? What's wrong?"
"Um. You sexually assaulting me is pretty wrong, I think."
Unexpectedly, Potter laughed. "You're right. I am rather grabby, aren't I?" He pressed closer with a wicked gleam in his eyes and lowered his voice as he said, "I heard you like that sort of thing."
Draco blinked, appalled. "I do not!"
Potter seemed to find that funny, too. "Well, then... My mistake. Perhaps you'd prefer to sexually assault me? I do like that sort of thing." With a grin, he spun them around so that he was the one pressed against the wall. It made Draco dizzy. "Go on, then," Potter said. "Have at it. You're welcome to rip my clothes off."
That was just about the most tempting offer Draco had ever heard in his entire life. His fingers itched to point his wand at Potter's clothes and rip them to shreds.
Except it felt like an evil overlord just offered him a million Galleons for no reason at all, and if he agreed he'd surely end up selling his soul.
But then again... Potter looked so excited and willing, with his full lips parted and his pupils blown wide, maybe it was worth selling his soul. It probably shouldn't reach such a high price, anyway.
Draco took out his wand and pointed it at Potter, already imagining him naked. But there was something about him standing there with a wand in his hand and Potter's green gaze looking back that reminded him — he was Draco Malfoy and this was Harry Potter. They didn't meet in cupboards to rip each other's clothes off and have sex. This was some sort of joke. One that would be on him if he showed any weakness.
Draco gripped his wand more firmly. "Stay away from me, Potter," he said. "Or next time, I'll break your nose. Again."
With that, he spun around, opened the door, and ran for the safety of his dormitory.