Winter was coming. Draco could feel it in his bones. Even though the window in the Slytherin boys' dormitory only looked out to the Black Lake and it was ten times colder in the Slytherin dungeons than any other place in the school, a pleasant shiver ran down Draco's spine. He always liked winter. It was white, bright; the seasons were changing. He didn't look up from his book when he heard the door open, though he sensed immediately that it was Blaise, and that Blaise wanted to talk to him. Draco suppressed an irritated sigh – he would interrupt his studying, and he was currently trying to understand the complex theories of human transfiguration. Transfiguration, in general, was not exactly his best subject.
"Still reading?" said Blaise, and when Draco didn't respond, he smirked. "You're probably thinking about how annoying I am, aren't you?"
Draco was, indeed. Blaise was much better at Transfiguration than Draco was. He could also always read Draco's mind without even reading his mind. Blaise was indeed very annoying like that.
Blaise sat on Draco's bed and snapped his fingers. "Hey," he said. "The Quidditch team's going to go practice. Don't you want to come?"
Draco shook his head.
"Oh, Draco," said Blaise, and from his peripheral vision, Draco saw him roll his eyes. "Is it just because of last time? Because Urquhart didn't mean it; later he apologized for trying to make you think faster."
Draco glared from atop his book, and nodded his head so Blaise could wave his wand. He didn't apologize to me, Draco thought pointedly.
"You know he means it. You know how Urquhart is." Blaise's dark hand had crept up onto Draco's book. He gently set it down, making Draco look him directly in the face.
"Besides," said Blaise. "You know how much you like Quidditch."
Fifteen minutes later found Draco and Blaise, along with Pansy Parkinson and Daphne Greengrass, trailing behind the Slytherin Quidditch team to the Quidditch pitch. Pansy Parkinson was prattling on about how she didn't want to be here and Blaise was telling her that she had been the one to asked to come with them in the first place, and Pansy said,
"But I didn't know we were going to watch Quidditch practice."
"She just wanted to be with you, Blaise," said Daphne.
"Obviously," said Blaise.
"I'd like watching Quidditch practices better if there were more attractive boys on our team," she said. "They're all big and beefy, and fat—"
"Big, beefy and fat can hear you, you know," growled Goyle, one of their Beaters, from ahead of them.
"And not all of us are," added Astoria Greengrass. She was the Slytherin Seeker, and the only girl on the team.
"Well of course you aren't, Astoria," said Pansy, rolling her eyes. "That's because you're Seeker. But the rest of you – Blaise, I think you should join the Quidditch team. You too, Draco."
"Parkinson, Quidditch isn't for pretty boys. It's for strong men," said Urquhart, glaring. "And Zabini isn't man enough, while Malfoy –" He broke off then and shook his head, then turned back around like he didn't want to trouble himself.
Draco studied Blaise's thoughts. He was probably going to say that Draco's not capable of playing.
Probably, Draco agreed, earning a surprised look from Blaise. And I'm not, it won't be a team effort.
Are you doing that thing where you're reading my mind without telling me? Blaise asked, meeting his eye. You always scare the pants off of me.
I can't help it. Pansy's thinking about you, by the way. She wants to know why you're not talking to her.
Probably because I'm talking to you.
Technically you aren't.
Thinking, talking, what's the difference for you?
"Blaise!" said Pansy suddenly, and when she saw the intense stares between Draco and Blaise, she rolled her eyes. "Are you guys talking through Legilimency again? Honestly, Blaise, why don't you just answer him by speaking? It's not like Draco's gone deaf."
Blaise shrugged, then, as if remembering that he still had a voice, said, "It's faster, I guess."
"But it's better to talk. Then you actually can think before you speak!"
She's just horrible at Occlumency, thought Draco, and Blaise chuckled.
Only horrible when talking to us, he replied, and said to Pansy, "Your thoughts are still readable even when you speak. It's really not that much different."
"You just think you're a special snowflake," said Pansy, sticking her tongue at him.
They arrived at the Quidditch pitch then; but their Quidditch team stopped short and the four sixth-years glanced to each other. "What's wrong?" asked Daphne, peering out from behind Crabbe's large head.
"Someone's already here," said Goyle.
"Yeah," Vaisey snarled. "Gryffindors."
It wasn't a personal vendetta the Slytherins had against the Gryffindors, as all four Houses had a sort of friendly house-rivalry; but when it came to Quidditch, it was much different. For the past five years now, the Gryffindor Quidditch team had snatched the Cup from right under their noses. Slytherin had owned the cup prior to Draco's year, and every year since then they'd been training harder and harder to defeat Gryffindor for once. But though they beat Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff each time, they simply couldn't beat Gryffindor.
The Gryffindor Quidditch players were flying around in a flurry of scarlet and gold, and it wasn't until Urquhart shouted, "Oi! What're you doing here?" when they finally noticed the Slytherins. Soaring toward them and sliding off their broomsticks, the Gryffindors made their way over to them, led by a bold redheaded girl.
"We already booked the pitch for practice," she said. "What are you doing here?"
"Ginny – Ginny, you're not the Captain, don't worry about it." A boy who looked to be in Draco's year, with messy black hair and round glasses, came to the front of the team. There was a shiny Captain's badge on his chest. At seeing the glower on Urquhart's and pretty much every other Slytherins' face, the boy looked taken aback and said, "But – er – what are you doing here?"
"We booked the field for practice too," said Crabbe. "We've got a letter from Snape 'n all." He nudged Harper, who pulled Professor Snape's note out.
"We have one from Professor McGonagall," said the Gryffindor Captain, showing them his.
Draco saw Urquhart ground his teeth irritably. Urquhart couldn't pitch the blame on the Gryffindors now; Snape and McGonagall, like all the other Houses, had their own form of rivalry going on, albeit more competitive and less friendly. It would be like them not to tell the other when their Quidditch team was going to practice.
Draco nudged Blaise. They could always practice together, he thought. It would be beneficial to the both of them.
Blaise nodded, and then said, "You both could still practice. Just do it together."
"Together?" said a few Gryffindors, and the majority of the Slytherins.
"Why would we want to practice together?" said Theodore Nott, one of their Chasers.
"Well think about it, we could figure out their strategies," said Blaise. And then at the looks on the Gryffindors' faces, said, "Oh, don't worry about it, you could probably figure ours out too. It's a win-win situation."
"Zabini, you're not even on the Quidditch team," said a ginger Gryffindor. (Draco privately wondered if the Captain had a thing for gingers.)
"Well spotted, Weasley," said Blaise dryly. "What was your first clue, my lack of broomstick?"
"Well I don't think you're in the position to say anything about Quidditch, then, if you're not even playing –"
"Just because we don't play doesn't mean we don't know anything about it," said Blaise, ignoring Draco's forced thought to him of, That was a triple negative. "Well, okay, Pansy and Daphne here are pretty useless, but Draco and I," he gestured to the two of them, "we know plenty about Quidditch."
Everyone's eyes went to Draco now, who suddenly felt uncomfortable at being on the spot.
"Malfoy?" said Weasley disbelievingly. "How do you know that he knows anything about Quidditch? He never speaks!"
Before Blaise could bite an explanation out, Urquhart hit his broomstick on the snow and said loudly, "Are we going to stand here all day or play already? I don't care if you Gryffindors want to stay or leave, but we already had the field booked so we're going to play!"
"We're going to play too," said the Gryffindor Captain, looking a bit uncomfortable. "But, er, I don't know if playing against each other is a good idea..."
"We'll be up in the stands!" Pansy cheerfully told no one, and they left as they heard Urquhart bark, "Make up your mind then, Potter!"
"That wasn't disastrous at all," said Daphne sarcastically, as they walked up to the stands. "What'd you have to go mentioning Draco there for, Blaise?"
"I had to defend our masculinity," said Blaise haughtily. "And our knowledge of Quidditch. I do know a lot about it, you know –"
Yeah, but you're just bad at it, thought Draco.
It's not my fault I can't play!
"They're at it again," said Pansy, rolling her eyes. "C'mon Daphne, let's talk like normal people."
The girls started talking about things that Draco didn't care about, like gossip and their weight and clothes. Draco focused more on watching the game with Blaise, who was observing the Gryffindor team with mild interest.
The two teams had started their game already. It seemed a bit awkward for them, at first, because it wasn't an official game but only a practice, and as brutal Beaters Crabbe and Goyle were, Draco saw them lob the Bludgers a bit more hesitantly toward the Gryffindor Chasers, who dodged them easily. The Gryffindor Keeper looked unsure as Vaisey flew over and threw the Quaffle to one of his rings, and barely managed to save it in time.
The game was won easily, though, by the Gryffindors, when the Captain – who apparently was the Seeker – caught the Snitch in less than ten minutes. Draco had never seen a Seeker catch the Snitch with such ease before. He bumped his shoulder against Blaise's.
That's Potter. He's the Captain, too.
Like I didn't figure that out already. What's with his team lineup?
What do you mean?
Does he always pick redheads? They look like they could be siblings.
They are siblings. They're also both his friends. Ginny and Ron Weasley.
Weasley. The last name sounded familiar. Draco thought he might've heard his father mention it once or twice, at home; but his father was always out at work, so he wasn't quite sure.
He picks his friends to be on the team then?
I suppose. I do have to admit they're quite good, though. Ginny Weasley, at least.
Draco watched as Potter, with red cheeks from the wind whipping him in the cold, continued flying around and getting to the Snitch faster than Astoria could hope to go. And Astoria was already an excellent Seeker. Draco wished that he could be on the team too, to fly, to see if he could catch the Snitch as fast as Potter.
Monday didn't come as quickly as it usually did, although Draco wasn't too disappointed. It didn't matter to him, if he had to go to classes or not, as he never was quite learning the same things as the rest of his classmates. Although they were starting on non-verbals this year, which almost put them at his level.
The only class where he was expected full participation was Potions, as only very few spells needed to be cast the whole time. Draco had already mastered this in first year, so with a lazy flick of his wand, started his cauldron up while the majority of the class was still struggling not to speak.
"Damn it, Malfoy," said Nott from beside him. Draco knew that Nott was too proud to ask him for help, but was as bad as the rest of them. Draco just gave him a smirk, and then began reading the instructions on the board to make his potion.
As he grabbed his silver knife, he heard whispers from a few tables in front of him. When he dumped his chopped roots into his cauldron, he heard the whispers getting louder. He concentrated on his potion and tried not to let himself get distracted, when he suddenly saw someone standing in front of him and looked up to see a familiar black-haired boy standing in front of him.
"Er," he said. "Um. Hello."
Draco raised an eyebrow and suppressed his feeling of surprise. He had the distinct feeling that he should know this boy from somewhere, but wasn't sure from where.
"I saw that you did that nonverbal spell really easily," said the boy. "And – er – well, I was wondering – my friend knows the spell, but she won't tell me and Ron what it is, and..."
His cheeks turned red, and Draco suddenly remembered who he was.
Ah. Right. The Gryffindor Seeker. Draco distinctly recalled his name being Potter.
"We kind of need help," finished Potter, feebly.
Draco nodded, and then after making sure that his potion was frothy and bubbling happily, followed Potter over to his table where he was with a blond-haired Hufflepuff, a bushy-haired girl whom Draco assumed was the "she" Potter had been referring to, and a ginger boy – Draco immediately associated the ginger with Potter, and recognized him as the Gryffindor Keeper.
"Thank goodness," said the ginger at the sight of Draco. "Hermione's being a stuck-up bint, and we need your help –"
"I am not stuck up, and I am not a bint!" the girl said indignantly. The blond-haired Hufflepuff inched away from her carefully.
"It was Ron's idea to ask you, really." Potter turned redder and scratched the back of his head, like he didn't want to be blamed for bothering Draco.
Draco ignored the three of them and pointed his wand to both the ginger's cauldron, and the one he presumed to be Potter's, and both of them started up immediately. Joyfully, the ginger jumped up and said, "Brilliant! C'mon Harry, we should get started on this, we don't have much time left!"
"Yeah," said Potter, hurrying back around his seat. "Thanks, Malfoy," he said, but Draco was already walking off.
"That's not right!" he heard the girl say, and when he was back at his seat, he turned only to face that bushy-haired girl again.
"You shouldn't have done it for them!" she said. "You should've taught them how to!"
Her face was in the way of Draco's potion, and feeling annoyed, Draco pulled out a quill and scrap piece of parchment, and scribbled on it.
I can't unless they're skilled in Legilimency, his slanted handwriting read. And it's none of your business.
"What do you mean, Legilimency?" the girl asked, but Draco was ignoring her. He needed to get back to his potion. He didn't want to bother himself with these Gryffindors.
"I said, what do you mean by Legilimency?" the girl repeated. Draco felt a headache coming on and snatched the parchment from her.
I don't talk out loud. I talk through Legilimency. Go away.
"But how –"
He pointed before she could finish her thought, and heard her huff and stomp off. His headache faded, and Draco was able to finish his potion without any problems after that. Ten minutes before the end of class, he scooped out a sample and put it on Slughorn's desk, before going back to his seat. He knew Slughorn hadn't seen him helping Potter and his friend; Slughorn was asleep during most of the class, behind his copy of the Daily Prophet.
A part of Draco wished that he paid a bit more attention and that he was more social, so that he could know more of his classmate's names. He only knew his Housemates', though, and Potter's.
"I am starved," said Blaise on their way to lunch. "Who knew that Snape was going to make us battle a Dementor? Well, okay, it was a fake Dementor, but still –"
He did tell us that we were going to yesterday.
"Shut up, Draco, I don't need your sass," said Blaise.
They walked around the corridor and by the Divination staircase to wait for Pansy. For some godforsaken reason, she'd decided to take Divination for N.E.W.T.s. Draco had always thought that taking it was the biggest waste of his time, ever.
"Hello," said Pansy brightly as she decided the staircase. "I've a boyfriend in the future, apparently."
"Pansy, Trelawney's a fraud and you're never going to get a boyfriend," said Blaise. "Sorry to say."
"Ye of little faith." Pansy stuck her chin up. "I'm going to get one, just wait and see. I'll get one this year, just to spite you."
"I'm not sure how that'll spite me," said Blaise, as they walked along.
Pansy turned to Draco and said, "Legilimens," and Draco suggested to her, If you get a boyfriend that's not Blaise, that might spite him.
"Oh yes, I'd like to date you, Draco," she said teasingly, though Draco read her thoughts and saw that she was seriously considering it – getting a boyfriend just to spite Blaise.
Never mind, I was just joking, he thought quickly.
"No, I think I will." Pansy was grinning at him now. "That's an excellent idea, actually."
"What, you'd date Draco?" said Blaise, bewildered.
"Of course." Pansy cast her smirk on him. "Anyone would date Draco. Don't you think so, Blaise?"
Blaise scoffed at her and looked like he was about to say no – but before he could, they were interrupted when they heard someone say, "Malfoy!" Draco looked bemusedly at the thin crowd of passing students.
"Hi, um, Malfoy." Potter was panting a little, and his messy black hair was even messier than before. "Um, I just wanted to say thanks, again, for today."
Draco stared at him. Blaise said, "He says it's no problem," even though Draco knew that Blaise had no idea what he was talking about.
"Actually, he doesn't," said Pansy, who was, while not above answering for Draco, confused at Potter's presence. "He's wondering what you're doing here." Which was a more accurate sentiment.
"Um," said Potter, again. "I just wanted to say thanks? And, er, why are you talking for him?"
"Because Draco's a helpless little ferret and he needs us to help him around – Hey!" Pansy almost fell when Draco shoved her. "What was that for?"
I'm not a helpless little ferret.
"Ignore her," said Blaise airily, waving Pansy off. "Draco just has special needs."
Draco pushed him too. Blaise turned to him, but Draco told him, I don't have special needs, before Blaise could defend himself.
"I'm so confused," said Potter, looking between the three of them. "What's going on?"
Draco gave both Blaise and Pansy looks, then Blaise sighed and said, "Don't worry about it, Potter. What do you want from us?"
"I don't want anything, really," said Potter, surprised. "I just wanted to – um – well, that's all, really." He shuffled his feet a bit, but it was obvious that there was something else on his mind.
"What is it?" said Blaise. He'd obviously picked up on this implication as well. "Are you sure that's all?"
"No! Well, my friend Hermione was just wondering – well." Potter pulled out a piece of parchment from his pocket. "Malfoy wrote something to my friend yesterday, and said that he only talked through Legilimency or something." He looked back up at them. "What's Legilimency?"
Blaise and Pansy exchanged a look, and then turned to Draco. Draco glanced away.
"Legilimency is... this type of magic," said Blaise. "Where you can probe people's minds to find out what they're thinking. Occlumency's the opposite, where you block it."
Potter nodded. "Hermione said something like that, like it's mind-reading. I just wasn't sure." He looked at Draco curiously. "Why do you only talk through that?"
"Now that," said Blaise, "is none of your business, Potter. Why don't you go back with your friends and let's pretend that we don't associate with each other unless we're in class, like we always do?"
"Yeah, you're disrupting my social airs." Pansy waved her hand in the air. "I'm not sure if I ever had a decent conversation with a Gryffindor this long before."
Potter backed away, looking slightly hurt. "Sorry," he mumbled. "I was just wondering."
As he walked away, Draco felt something drop in his stomach. But it certainly wasn't guilt, because he hadn't done anything to be the one at fault.
But he felt it again when he walked into the library a few days later and saw Potter at one of the tables, bent over reading a book. And Draco had had this feeling since their encounter, in the classes that he saw Potter in—which was quite a lot, and Draco didn't know why he didn't notice until now. So deciding to resolve this to get the disgusting feeling inside of him away, he sat at the end of Potter's table and pulled out a book, and didn't do anything until Potter glanced over at him and noticed his presence.
"Oh," he whispered. "Malfoy!"
Draco looked over the top of his book and nodded to him, before returning to reading.
Potter slid down the bench with his bag so that he was sitting almost directly across from him.
"Sorry about the other day," Potter said. "When I asked you. Um – I was just –"
Draco shook his head, as if to say it was nothing. You were just wondering, I know, he thought, before remembering that Potter couldn't read him yet.
"Um," said Potter (evidently it was his favorite word). "Anyway. Er, I'm reading a book on Legilimency –" he held up the book that he'd been so engrossed in, and Draco saw, The Beginner's Guide to Legilimency emblazoned on the front, "and I was wondering if – if I could try it on you. I mean," he added hurriedly. "I'm just really curious how you do it. It mustn't be easy, having people always reading your mind, right?" He laughed nervously.
Draco eyed him, and then pulled out a piece of parchment and quill from his paper.
I read their minds all the time too, he wrote. Sometimes when they're not even reading mine.
"Yeah, but." Potter bit his lip. You actually have a reason, Draco heard his unfinished thought say.
I just read yours, he wrote on the parchment. And no, I don't have much of a reason.
"You did?" Potter looked caught off-guard, even though he really should have expected it. "And I think you do, if you're not talking and all."
Draco shook his head, and returned to his book, half-hoping that Potter would allow the both of them to study in peace. But Potter said, "So can I use Legilimency on you?" and before Draco could pick his quill up again to write a proper answer, Potter pulled his wand out of nowhere and said,
Draco didn't even feel the lightest prod at his mind before he instantly silently blocked off Potter's enchantment with a silent Occlumens. Potter frowned and looked at him, wand still raised in the air.
"I don't hear anything," he said. "Why isn't it working?"
Draco picked up his quill again.
Because I'm not letting you, git. That's what you get for trying to startle me.
"Well sorry," said Potter half-heartedly. "I thought that since you did it to me without even me noticing, you could at least let me do it to you..."
Draco rolled his eyes at Potter's insistence of being fair, but had to admit that he had a point. Fine. Go on, do it again, he wrote, and then ended his Occlumency spell.
Potter looked nervous this time. "Okay," he said, and then swished and flicked his wand. "Legilimens!"
Again, Draco didn't feel even the slightest poke at his mind. Maybe there was a small one, but it would be so small that the only thing it could sense was Draco's irritation and confusion.
"What's going on?" said Potter, frowning at his wand again. "Are you blocking me again?"
Draco shook his head. Potter looked like he might accuse Draco for lying, but then saw the genuine confusion on his face.
"I thought I did the spell right," said Potter. "It's Legilimens, right?"
Draco nodded. Maybe you're just bad at it, he wrote.
Potter's cheeks turned pink. "I'm not bad!" he said. "I just need – This is my first time doing it! I just need practice!"
Potter needed practice indeed. For the next couple of weeks, he came up to Draco random times in the corridors to cast the spell on him. Even though it was without much warning, Draco wasn't very worried with putting up his Occlumency barrier all the time around him; Potter's Legilimency wasn't getting any better.
"I don't get it," he said after assaulting Draco on their way to Defense Against the Dark Arts. "I've practiced with Ron and Hermione, and I thought I was getting better..."
Draco scoffed, which earned an offended look from Potter. You're not, he'd tell Potter, if he would speak or if Potter could read his mind.
"And the thing is, they can do it too!" he said. "Ron and Hermione can read my mind, and I can read – well, kind of read theirs! I think. I mean, I thought I was." He frowned. "Is it possible to make someone think they read your mind?"
Draco was about to shake his head no, but then considered Occlumency. Then again, he doubted if Potter's Gryffindor friends had ever practiced it. He shook his head.
"Oh," said Potter. "Then – well – why doesn't this work when I do it to you?"
Maybe because your friends are a lot more comfortable around you than I am, Draco would say, or, again, think if Potter could read him. He settled with staring straight ahead, as if Potter wasn't talking to him.
"This is so annoying," Potter grumbled as the two of them joined the rest of their classmates filing into Professor Snape's classroom.
"Hey Draco," said Blaise, coming over to him and then narrowing his eyes when he saw Potter. "Potter, what are you doing with him? Are you trying to get him to talk to you again?"
"No! Well it's not talking –"
"Why are you bothering, anyways?" asked Blaise. "Why do you want to talk to him so much?"
Potter's cheeks, like always, flushed red. They always did when Draco's friends asked him a difficult question, Draco noticed. "I just want to," he said. "But – it never works."
"Of course it doesn't. Talking to Draco is a Slytherin thing," said Blaise. "You have to have the privilege. Except you don't. Goodbye."
Potter gave him a dirty look when he walked off to join his friends at their table, but turned redder when he caught Draco's eye again and quickly swiveled back around.
"Honestly," said Blaise, rolling his eyes and leading him to a table with Nott and Daphne.
He's not that bad, Draco couldn't help himself from thinking to Blaise. And if I had a choice, I wouldn't give you this privilege at all.
Yes you would. And of course he's that bad, Draco, do you think I haven't noticed how you get that annoyed look on your face every time he talks to you?
It's impossible that you've seen every time he talks to me.
No, but I've seen enough. You always look like you're dealing with a misbehaved puppy or something.
I do have to admit that Potter is almost the equivalent of a misbehaved puppy.
During Snape's lecture, Draco saw Potter glance around to look at him again. When Potter accidentally caught Draco's eye, Potter turned back around and Draco saw his neck, though barely visible behind his scruffy black hair, turn red.
Or like a fangirl, he thought to Blaise.
Malfoy, Zabini, eyes up front, they both heard Professor Snape say suddenly in their minds. I can tell you're both not paying attention.
Draco and Blaise avoided looking Snape in the eye, embarrassed
"I've been practicing," said Potter proudly. "Want to see?"
They were in the library again; this time, Potter had been the one to find Draco by chance and had marched right over and plopped himself on the seat across from him.
Without any nervousness this time, Potter brandished his wand and said, "Legilimens!" and Draco kept his Occlumency wall close at hand.
There was a light prod, perhaps a little bit stronger than before, but only that – a little bit. Draco stared blankly at Potter, as Potter's expression fell and his wand arm dropped.
"It's not working again, is it?" he said, and when Draco didn't do anything, he said, "It isn't." He slumped in his chair. "I don't know why I'm so bad at it. Is it because I don't want to do it enough? Because I think I do."
I think you do too, Draco thought, and returned to his book. He was privately glad that Potter couldn't read his mind at the moment, though, or else Potter would find out that Draco had been studying at the library more often lately in the slim hopes of running into Potter again.
Potter sighed, apparently unbothered that Draco was ignoring him. "Can you help me?" he asked.
Draco shook his head. He didn't know what else Potter would have to do, besides waving his wand and saying the spell and actually having the will to read his mind, all of which Potter definitely had.
"You hate me, don't you?" said Potter suddenly. "You probably think that I'm annoying, by the way I keep talking to you."
Draco was about to shake his head again, but a small part of him did find Potter annoying. It didn't piss Draco off, though, so he just held his book up higher, neither confirming nor denying Potter's words.
"I'm sorry," said Potter. "I just want to get to know you better, you know? I think it'd be easier through our thoughts, then 'cause we won't have to worry if the other's lying. I mean, we could do that with speaking, too, and I'd prefer it if you spoke of course, but I'm not making you and I guess speaking isn't quite as honest as communicating through thoughts –"
Draco took his empty piece of parchment paper and the quill that had already been lying out. Not necessarily, he wrote. You can use Occlumency to prevent people from reading too much. That's what I do.
"Oh." Potter looked confused at the word. "Well, I'd probably be awful at that too, since it's obvious I can't do anything with my mind –"
"Shut up," said Potter, although he blushed. Draco thought he looked quite nice. "Magic with my mind, I mean. You know what I mean."
That, Draco did, though he didn't write anything else as he put his quill back down and continued reading his book. He hadn't turned a page since Potter had come and started talking to him, but Draco ignored this small detail.
After their conversation in the library, Potter stopped trying to use his hopeless Legilimency on Draco, as it was most likely that he'd accepted it as hopeless. However, this didn't mean that Potter stopped trying to get to know him altogether—in fact, Potter was attempting to use another tactic.
Draco figured this out on his way to N.E.W.T. Arithmancy a few days later, when Potter suddenly barreled right up to him in the middle of the corridor and yelled, quite unnecessarily, "WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?"
Green, Draco thought immediately, but just stared at Potter. Potter looked at him eagerly, expectantly – and then after five seconds, his shoulders slumped.
"Damn," he said. "I was hoping to scare you into talking –"
He was broken off when Draco stifled a chuckle behind his palm. It sounded odd, as it was coming from Draco's rarely used vocal chords, but Potter beamed nonetheless.
"You can laugh!" he said. "I didn't know you could laugh! I thought that when you said that you couldn't speak, you couldn't – Well, technically you didn't say it and you did say that you only couldn't speak," he added hastily, looking embarrassed.
"I thought I could scare you into talking," Potter continued. "Because – well – I dunno, it just made sense in my head."
If I haven't been talking for the past several years, why would you think that you scaring me would make you?
"I'm stupid, I know." Potter looked even more embarrassed. "Sorry."
Draco gazed on ahead, again not confirming nor denying his statement. After a few moments of walking down the corridor, he turned to Potter and raised his eyebrows.
"What?" said Potter. Then an expression of realization flashed across his face. "Oh!" he said. "I have to get to class! Shit, right – bye, Malfoy!" he said, and turned around and ran off.
Draco rolled his eyes and shook his head, but found his lips curving into a smile. As irritating as Potter was, Draco couldn't find a reason to actually dislike him or anything he did. It was a bit endearing, in an exasperating kind of way.
When he arrived in Professor Vector's class, she was saying, "Settle down, settle down, you'll be given a lot of work today." At the chorus of the students' groaning, Professor Vector said, "It's nothing you're not used to already."
"Hi, Draco," greeted Daphne when Draco went over to sit with her. He saw her wave her wand gently and felt her cast Legilimens.
Guess who attacked me on my way here?
"Potter?" Daphne looked amused.
It's not just that anymore. He's stopped trying to read my mind, but just tried to scare me into talking.
"I think he really likes you," said Daphne. "Like, really. Is that even possible?"
It's not. I don't know why anyone would like me this much. I barely know who Potter is. I only started noticing him after that Quidditch practice.
"That's probably because you've never seen him play before," said Daphne. "You never go to any games."
The lesson started then, and Draco focused his energies in memorizing the charts Professor Vector had given them today. She wanted them to memorize quite a number of charts today, actually; they usually varied from one to three a month, but she had given them five in a single class. "They're very important for your N.E.W.T.s," she'd explained. "I don't think we'll have enough time in the curriculum to learn them all during the school year."
"So why not just assign them for homework?" someone asked.
Professor Vector had given that person a stern look. "If you wish to memorize all of these tonight, then be my guest."
So Draco, and the majority of his classmates, was currently working on studying at least two of the five so they didn't overwork themselves in the evening. Besides, Vector had also mentioned that she was going to give them problems based off the charts for homework as well, so he really needed to get these under his belt. But Draco was quite good with memorizing things, as his mind was usually clear, and numbers were impersonal and logical. Names and faces, usually, were a much different situation.
But when he heard a wooden chair scrape, some whispering, and then a chair much closer to him scrape and a shadow fell over his notes, he looked up to see a bushy haired girl, and immediately associated her with Potter.
"Hello," she whispered to him.
Draco gave her the oddest of looks. He saw Daphne, from beside him, looking puzzled too.
"I'm Hermione Granger," the girl whispered. "Harry Potter's friend."
Draco continued staring at her.
"I apologize for that impression I may have given you during Potions a few weeks ago," she said. "Please forgive my rudeness."
Draco blinked at her. Then he turned back to his charts.
"Malfoy," Granger said, putting her hand on Draco's notes. "I want to talk to you about something. May we talk through Legilimency?"
Draco arched an eyebrow, as if to ask, You can do Legilimency?
"Harry told you he practiced with us, didn't he?" said Granger. "Anyways, I hope you don't mind." From the corner of the table, she pointed her wand at him and whispered, "Legilimens."
A rushing sensation flew into Draco's mind, but he immediately blocked it off with his silent Occlumens. Then, after carefully making sure that his mind was protected, he knew that Granger could hear nothing from his brain except for his clear, What do you want?
I wanted to ask what you think of Harry. Granger looked very serious, gazing at Draco from across the desk.
I don't think much of him. Why do you ask?
You don't dislike him? Or wish he'd stop bothering you?
Why would I think that? And why, again do you ask?
I just – I don't think – that – Granger's seemingly well-organized thoughts came into a jumble then, as she tried to sort them out, and it was probably because she hadn't used Occlumency as it was likely she hadn't looked up as much on it yet, that Draco was able to hear everything she was thinking.
Harry's very – sensitive – and not really the greatest at pursuing anybody at all – I don't think he's had the experience, but... he likes you, so – it's troubling, as he doesn't know much about you – thought you might hate him – and not very common to... hasn't been very long... the Gryffindor-Slytherin rivalry –
I don't care about us being in different Houses, actually, thought Draco. Contrary to popular belief, Slytherins dislike Gryffindors only on the Quidditch field.
Oh</i>. Granger looked a tad embarrassed. Well your friend Parkinson –
– hates everyone once in a while, finished Draco. Now are you finished? May I go back to my charts now?
"Fine." Granger picked up her notes, and then got up and walked away. As she did so, Draco could still hear her thoughts as he hadn't ended his spell (but had ended hers), and clearly heard her think,
What does Harry see in that git?
The holidays were the week after that. Everyone, of course, left to go home, except for Draco and a few first- and second-years. Draco never went home during any of the holidays, although he supposed that if his father came home from work, he would. His father made plenty of money as he had a steady job at the Ministry, but had to be there all the time and Draco didn't see the point in celebrating his holidays in a giant manor empty of all human life except for a few House Elves here and there. Draco wondered if House Elves could be considered as humans or as House Elves.
Though Hogwarts was noisier, Draco didn't mind the noise so much as he'd always thought silence more deafening. Besides, the castle was also much cozier, and warmer, and people milled about all the time. There were less people, but people nonetheless.
He spent his Christmas Eve evening on the edge of the Forbidden Forest, as usual. Sometimes he'd see the gamekeeper peek out his window to look at him, as if he couldn't imagine what Draco was doing. It wasn't that Draco wanted to avoid the company of other people, but that he enjoyed the feeling of being far away, of looking back and seeing everything from a distance. He always felt, that with his choice physical impairment, he'd always seen things from afar. He was never in the action, never wanted to be in the action. He was alone.
Draco sighed, and watched a few distant centaurs gallop through the trees.
He stayed there for a few hours. Soon enough, his legs had gotten tired that he just sat in the snow, covering his legs with his cloak and gazing up at the stars. He pulled his wand out and did a few tricks, like shooting out streamers and sparks in the colors of red, green and gold. Happy Christmas, he thought to himself, and wondered what Father had gotten him this year.
There was a loud crunching of footsteps, and then a quick gasp as if someone had just been running. Draco started briefly, as he heard someone say, "Malfoy?"
Draco didn't turn around, but rolled his eyes. He wasn't surprised that it was Potter.
"I've been looking for you all night," Potter panted, and then plopped down on the snow next to him. "This was the last place I'd ever think of looking. What're you doing here? Why aren't you at the feast?"
Draco gazed on ahead, like Potter wasn't there.
"Anyways," Potter said. "I saw your name on the staying-at-Hogwarts list for the hols and got exc... hoped that I'd run into you sometime this week, but I haven't seen you at all. Have you locked yourself up in your dormitory? That's what Ron insists we should do, though I think that's because he doesn't want to see Hermione." He chuckled. "They're fighting now, did you know that? Mostly because Ron started going out with Lavender and Hermione's really pissed off so yesterday she went with McLaggen to Slughorn's Christmas party and – ugh." He shuddered. "That must not have been a fun time with her. But I went with Luna Lovegood and we had a fun time. She's a friend, by the way, if you were wondering – I don't really date people, I haven't ever dated anyone yet. Have you? Oh right, you can't answer that – sorry."
He looked at Draco hopefully then, and Draco quirked an eyebrow at him. Is this another way to get me to talk? He didn't even need to ask it out loud, because Potter affirmed it then.
"You probably figured it out that I'm trying to get you to talk – right." Potter let out a disappointed sigh. "Well, it was worth a try, wasn't it?"
You talk like Pansy, Draco wished he could say to him.
"Oh! And right, I shouldn't forget." Potter pulled out something from under his cloak, then, and Draco saw something wrapped in silvery paper. "This is for you," said Potter. "Your Christmas gift. I know it's a day early, but I wanted to give it to you. And it's okay that you don't have one for me, too," he added in a mumble.
Draco ignored Potter's last sentence, but took the gift, curious as to what it was. It was bulky, and Draco could hear a little rattle inside when he shook it.
"Open it," Potter encouraged.
Draco opened it.
It was two empty scrolls of parchment, three ink bottles, and four new quills. It was almost like a bad joke, except it wasn't a bad joke because Draco knew exactly why Potter had given them to him immediately – the only way Draco had ever directly communicated with him was through ink and parchment. Still, he threw his head back and laughed because Potter's gift was just so Potter.
"Malfoy," Potter said, in awe. "You're laughing."
Draco stopped a bit and gave Potter a look that said, No shit, though he was still smiling.
"Sorry," said Potter hurriedly, looking embarrassed. "You just never do anything like that, since you're quiet and stuff all the time, so I just guessed –"
I'm just not easily amused.
"—but you're not easily amused, I supposed," said Potter thoughtfully, which almost made Draco start with surprise. It was only a coincidence though, he figured. Potter was still horrible at Legilimency, so that brief moment of mind-reading wasn't mind-reading at all.
"It's cold," said Potter suddenly, looking at him. "Want to go in?"
Draco shook his head. He was quite enjoying the cool winter breeze.
"Oh." Potter faltered. "Well okay –" He shifted, and Draco thought for a moment that Potter was going to leave him when he realized that Potter was just making himself more comfortable "– I guess I'll stay with you a little longer too. It is beautiful out, despite the temperature." He shivered on the snow, but didn't say much else as the two of them sat there, out under the starry sky.
And Draco found that he enjoyed Potter's presence quite a bit, whether he was loud or quiet.
As it was still the holidays, Draco didn't see much of anyone else, as he had, as Potter had suspected, pretty much lock himself in his dormitory and snuck off to the kitchens when he got hungry. (A Slytherin fourth year had told him in second year how to get there.) So he didn't think he had to be particularly worried about Potter bothering him; Potter probably had better things to do during the break, than thinking about Draco.
However, as soon as classes resumed, students came back, and Draco un-shut himself from the world again, he found that this was not the case.
"Weirdest thing," said Pansy as Draco made his way to breakfast. "On Christmas morning, I got a letter from Potter asking me to answer a bunch of questions about you."
"I did, too," said Blaise, coming from out of nowhere and joining their conversation. "His white owl came to my house and I thought it got the house wrong, and my mother threw a tantrum because she hates white owls – but then I saw the letter was from Potter and it was talking about you and I had no idea what it was about."
"Are we talking about Potter's everlasting obsession with Draco?" said Daphne suddenly, coming in as well. "And about the interrogative letters he's been sending?"
"Yeah, you got one too?" asked Blaise.
"Astoria wanted to answer all the questions."
"Funny how Potter's probably known Draco existed since first year," said Pansy, "and only wanted to get to know him now."
Draco prodded the three of them with his fingers, and forced them to Legilimens to him so he could ask the question that none of them had answered.
What did you say to Potter?
"Oh," said Pansy. "Nothing. I told him it was none of his business."
"He should find someone else better to stalk," said Blaise.
"Squat," said Daphne.
Draco exhaled with slight relief. He was glad to have such loyal friends, though would never go as far to call them Hufflepuffs.
They walked over to the Slytherin table in the Great Hall, and started on their breakfast, issues with Potter all but forgotten. That is, until the mail came in.
Draco's father didn't write to him too often, though he did keep him posted at least once a month with his career situation and had the weekend ritual of sending him sweets, because Draco loved sweets. Draco also wasn't too interested with his father's job, although it was nice to know what he was up to, and just to hear from him.
But Draco had already heard from his father this month, wishing him both a happy New Year and a belated Christmas, so it was with some surprise when one of his father's eagle owls swooped down during breakfast this morning, bearing another letter for the second time within a week.
His friends looked surprised as well, but didn't say anything as Draco stared at his letter in shock before tearing the envelope apart to read it.
Would you kindly tell me why I've received a letter from a "Harry Potter" who wishes to know your favorite color, your favorite Quidditch team, your favorite food and your potential career of choice? As for your relationship habits and ability to handle animals and children, I am not able to answer as I do not know what the answers are.
Please be safe, and do watch who you associate with. This "Harry Potter" is a Gryffindor, is he not?
Draco ground his teeth and glanced over to the Gryffindor table, where he inexplicably saw Potter watching him anxiously. When Potter saw that Draco saw him, he quickly ducked his head down and hid behind a large piece of bread.
"What's the letter about?" Pansy asked, but Draco just fed his eagle owl bread crumbs and decidedly kept looking at Potter as if his gaze could push Potter to feel embarrassed beyond all embarrassment.
"I'm sorry," said Potter that afternoon in the library. Draco wondered why he kept apologizing if he just kept doing this. "But I do really want to know more about you, and as you can't tell me, I thought I could ask other people, like your friends."
You could just ask, Draco wrote absently on his piece of parchment, and then turned back to his book.
"I have," said Potter.
Like a normal person.
"Oh," said Potter, looking abashed. "Yeah, well – I guess screaming it in your face wasn't exactly like a normal person, was it?" He sighed, then looked around nervously and jiggled a little in his seat.
It was driving Draco insane. He went for his quill and parchment again.
Do you want to stop that?
"Sorry," Potter said quickly. It was obvious that he was restless. Draco didn't know why, though a light poking at Potter's mind suggested to him that it was nerves. Draco didn't bother figuring out what the nerves were about, as he wrote to Potter again.
You've stopped speaking.
"I thought you might want me to," said Potter. "Since you're reading and all, and every time we come here you're reading and I talk, so I just thought – well, you don't respond very much," he added, almost in defense.
Draco rolled his eyes, but figured that if Potter wanted him to, there would be no harm in humoring him.
Well, I did say you could ask me what you wanted to ask me, he scribbled on the parchment.
"Right, you did," Potter said quickly. "Sorry, I just– I forget things, 'cause I'm kind of – and, yeah."
Draco waited for him. Potter got the clue.
"Er, so," he said. And instead of asking for his favorite color, or if he was good with animals or children like he'd asked the others, Potter asked, "Do you like Quidditch?"
Draco grabbed his quill.
I do. I first noticed you during Quidditch, actually.
"You did?" said Potter, surprised. "Why? Which game?"
Draco shook his head. I don't go to the games. It was during the practice this year, with the Gryffindors and the Slytherins because McGonagall and Snape hate each other. That's when I noticed you.
"Oh." Potter's face fell, slightly. "Why don't you go to the games?"
Too many people. Too many thoughts swimming around, especially in a crowd and all pushed together and loud. It gives me a headache.
"That makes sense," said Potter, nodding. "So what did you think? What was your opinion of me when you saw me playing Quidditch?" He looked a bit afraid after these words, though, like he was scared to know the answer.
Draco smirked. I thought you were an awful Captain who only picked gingers and/or his friends on his team.
"Hey!" said Potter indignantly. "I do not!"
But you're a good Seeker, I'll give you that, Draco continued writing. When I play Quidditch, I usually go for the Seeker's position too, although I don't believe I'd be as good as you.
Potter blushed then. "We should play sometime," he suggested. "I want to see how well you fly."
Pretty well, if I do say so myself.
"But not as good as me?"
Draco scoffed. Don't get too full of yourself, Potter.
"You let me," said Potter, but he was smiling, and Draco found himself smiling too, smiling like he smiled around Daphne and Blaise and Pansy, though not quite the same.
"Malfoy," Potter said suddenly. "Can I kiss you?" Then surprised at his own sudden request, hurried to add, "I mean, you don't have to say yes, or anything, I was just – It wouldn't hurt to, I think, but if you don't want me to, you can just say so, and –"
He broke off. Draco was surprised, wondering loudly in his mind, He asked to kiss me? Potter wants to kiss me? It was the strangest thing he'd heard; he never thought anyone would want to kiss him before, at the most ask to. And Draco thought about kissing as often as he thought about Pansy's knickers – that is to say, never.
But Potter looked horribly nervous that Draco imagined that he'd feel something in his gut if he said no – and besides, like Potter had said, it wouldn't hurt anything. And Potter's lips didn't look unattractive, and Draco imagined that they wouldn't taste or feel unattractive as well.
So as Potter bit on his lip and tried to think of a less awkward way to phrase his excuses, Draco, slowly, nodded.
Potter looked up then, and his expression was hopeful. "You will?" he said, and then, "I can?" When Draco nodded again, Potter adjusted himself on the library chair, raised his eyes up to Draco's again, and said, "Um, okay."
He brought himself closer to Draco; Draco could see his irises behind his glasses, black on splashes of green. Potter wasn't touching him yet, but his breathing was steady and he was looking cautiously into Draco's face.
"I've never done this before," he whispered, before closing his eyes and lightly touching his lips with Draco's.
It was gentle and Draco barely felt it, the same way he barely felt anything when Potter tried to read his mind. Then Potter pulled back and looked at Draco carefully, and asked, "How was it?"
Draco took his parchment and quill.
Not very good.
"It wasn't?" said Potter, crestfallen.
Not very good. Not good enough. I think you'll need to do it again. Then Draco looked over his words and scribbled that out, too.
I think you'll need to do it again. I think I can do it better.
"What do you mean, better—" Potter started, but as soon as he looked up from reading the parchment, Draco put it down on the table, scooted forward, and closed the gap between them.
At least with Draco's kiss he could actually feel Potter. Potter was warm against him, and soft, sort of like how Draco thought he would feel if Draco ever thought of how Potter would feel, before. And Draco had never had any experience in kissing anyone, either, but he was sure he was doing it right, by the way he was holding the back of Potter's head with his hand and slowly shaping Potter's lips with his own. He heard, faintly, Potter inhale quickly between one of their little breaks, and this made him chuckle and want to kiss Potter more.
And it did do things inside of him, like make Draco realize that he never really hated Potter, was never really annoyed with him. Sure, Potter had always been annoying – but that didn't mean Draco felt that way. Potter being annoying was a fact. How Draco felt about it was his opinion. And Potter was sort of foolish, sure, but Draco didn't dislike this either. He actually quite liked both.
He also liked Potter's hopeless attempts to try to get him to speak, but he'd never admit that.
They broke apart after a while, and when they heard a small cough and turned to see Madam Pince glaring at them. She seemed less bothered at seeing two boys snogging than that they were snogging at all.
"I thought so," she said. "This place is for reading and studying only. So read!" she hissed, and then stalked away.
Potter stifled a nervous giggle, and said, "But reading's not very fun."
Draco raised an eyebrow. I beg to differ, it seemed to say, and Potter rolled his eyes and lightly hit him on the arm.
"I know, I know, you're like Hermione and actually enjoy reading books for fun," he said. "But, um." He looked Draco in the eye again. "So does this mean that you... like me?"
I enjoy having you around, Potter, Draco wrote. I'm not sure if that qualifies as liking.
"It's good enough," said Potter, taking Draco's hand and beaming.
My mother died, Draco wrote down on the edge of a roll parchment a few months later, one of the scrolls Potter had gotten him for Christmas. They were sitting under a beech tree near the edge of the Lake.
"Hm?" said Potter, and when he saw Draco nudging the parchment to him and then read it, his eyes widened.
"Oh..." he said. "So... that's why you don't speak?"
She was killed, he wrote. By that same madman who killed your parents. I lost the will to speak after that.
"Has it upset you?" Potter looked worried.
No. I just couldn't. I can't. I don't know why. Draco bit his lip, and then added, I suppose I'm a coward.
"You're not!" said Potter instantly. "You're not a coward at all! It's not your fault, it's that stupid Tom Riddle's fault, and I had my godfather so I could manage but no one can blame you for being like this –"
Draco chuckled then, and Potter fell silent to listen.
You're such a Gryffindor, he wrote, filling up the last of the parchment he had left.
"I'll take that as a compliment," said Potter, grabbing the scroll suddenly and angling it towards the sun for it to dry. "By the way, I'm taking this back. I want to keep this and all your writing."
Draco gave him a look, as if saying, You're disgustingly sentimental.
"Don't give me that look," said Potter without looking at him. "You like it as much as I like you."
That makes you sound even more disgustingly sentimental.
"Okay, we're not as bad as your friends Zabini and Parkinson, and Ron and Hermione will be when they finally get together," said Potter. "'Cause then they'll love each other like I love you and you love ..." He suddenly turned red.
"Well, you never said that you love me yet," he said. "And... well I guess I just did, and I'm hoping that you will – " He turned even redder. "I mean – never mind. Pretend I didn't say that, okay?"
Draco just laughed and bumped his shoulder with Potter's. Potter smiled despite his red cheeks and bumped back. The lake rippled in front of them, the afternoon sunlight casting onto the green grass around them.
It was spring now. Draco's heart was as big as his laugh as he and Potter listened to the peaceful sound of their silence.