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Harry Potter and Life

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Harry and Ginny were sitting in a café. It was their one month anniversary since they had gotten back together after the war. Harry was watching as the sun hit her skin and hair. She looked beautiful, yet Harry couldn’t help but feel like something was amiss. Ginny tilted her head to the side and looked at him.

"What?"

"I don't know... something about you. It's weird."

"Don't know what it could be..." She ran her fingers through her hair. Her new haircut felt weird, it was much shorter. "Maybe that I got a haircut?"

"Oh, right."

"Harry, look, I have to tell you something…" She touched her hair again nervously and looked directly in his eyes. "I'm pregnant."

He choked on his coffee and stared at her, an incredulous expression on his face. He waited for her lips to twitch, but her face was impassive.

"Woah." Harry leaned back in his chair. "What? What? How? No... I mean..." Harry was stumbling on his words and felt more than a little nauseous.

Ginny just watched him over her mug of coffee with a serious look on her face.

"I mean, I'm surprised. And happy. Wow." His face was filled with horror that he tried to hide with a weak smile. His eyes darted from Ginny's face to her belly.

Behind the mug, her lips twitched. Her smile grew, and a big grin appeared on her face. Balancing her coffee mug on the table, she clutched her stomach and started laughing.

"Oh...Oh, my god." She wiped her eyes, looked at Harry, and exploded with laughter again. "Okay, no, wait..." she laughed a bit more, while Harry watched her in puzzlement. When he finally caught up, his face first filled with relief, which turned into slight irritation.

"It's not funny!" Ginny just laughed ignoring Harry’s scolding. "You need to get a better sense of humour. I almost got a heart attack."

"Admit it, it was a little funny."

"Well. Maybe a little." Despite his words, he didn't smile.

Ginny finally calmed and cleared her throat.

"No, really, I have to tell you something."

"What is it?"

"I don't think we're working out."

Harry looked at her, pretending not to understand what she meant.

"What do you mean?? I'm in great shape, and you're not bad, either."

Ginny looked at him, frustrated.

"Seriously?"

He abandoned his attempts at being funny and nodded slowly. "No. I agree. I see you as a sister and a-a wa-war... damn it." He drew a deep breath, his face suddenly looking much older, the hurt he kept hidden under a mask showing for a moment. "A w-war hero. So you know." He shook his head slightly.

"Harry," she started a note of worry in her voice. “You should consider seeing a therapist. It helps. It really does."

"I'm fine, just tired." He did look tired, bags under his eyes, hair messier than ever. However, he wasn’t the only one who had nightmares. Ginny woke up a couple of times every night, too.

"You aren't sleeping again?"

"I said I'm fine," Harry said, dismissing her, and drank the remains of his cold coffee.

Ginny didn't look away, so Harry forced a smile. Ginny hadn't seen a smile that fake since Neville was told that Snape was a war hero. She sighed and changed the subject.

"Good thing we didn't get that apartment together that mum wanted."

"Hmm?" He nodded fiddling with his now empty cup. “Yes”

As the atmosphere now felt slightly strained, neither of them pressed on continuing the ‘date’.

"Well, if we both said what we wanted, we should go."

They left the café and found some lonely alley to apparate from. They hugged goodbye and Ginny went home. Harry walked back on the busy street and strolled through London with no certain destination. He hadn't been in this part of the city before.

He went past an old bookshop, it was dusty and filled with books to the brim. Inside he saw only a girl with coloured hair in a black t-shirt, frantically rummaging through a bookshelf. When the owner – an older man with grey hair approached her, she shouted at him so loud Harry startled when her voice carried through the open door.

"Where is it? I left it here." She drew a sad breath and calmed. "Sorry, I, just wanted that book very much."

The old man nodded, smiling. "Yes, I noticed, dear, I put it aside."

"Oh…" Surprise showed on her face, in no time it turning in to happy grin. They wandered deeper in the shop and out of sight.

Continuing his stroll down the street, Harry wanted to smile, but before he could, he remembered all the people that were killed. He remembered how he is all alone now and how it was his fault, and kept walking. Guilt was eating him alive. All those people lost their lives, children left orphaned. Parents left without their children. He wanted to be home and alone, and not alone, and somewhere new. He wanted to forget and to remember, to feel and not to feel.

Harry stopped and steadied himself on a lamppost. A woman bumped into him, and though she apologized, he didn't notice.

His green eyes were wide, he tried to draw deep breaths to calm his racing heartbeat.  After walking to the nearest human-free place, Harry disapparated. Next thing he saw was Grimmauld place looming over him. It wasn't home, but it was the closest thing to Harry.

Opening the door and walking in, he tripped on the fallen troll-leg umbrella stand.

"Fuck. That's it! You're going."

He took out his wand and furiously pointed at the helpless piece of furniture. It disappeared without any protest, but nothing could calm Harry. Next his eyes fell on the ugly dresser that had been there as long as he remembered. He vanished it with a heated swing of his arm, swivelling he shouted ‘Evanesco’ and the coat hanger disappeared at once, an ancient hat falling to the ground. He stomped on it with all his might. Thundering through the house angrily he continued shouting the vanishing spell.

After he stubbed his toe on a door, he cursed and disintegrated the door without even thinking properly, just furiously waving his wand around. He continued on the destruction of his house, shouting occasionally. All of his anger about the unfairness of the war and those who died and those who now have to live, simmering in him. Half an hour later Harry collapsed exhausted on his bed. His breathing was heavy, but luckily didn't feel as angry anymore. He knew nothing would bring back those who died, so he closed his eyes and stubbornly stayed still until he fell asleep.

In the middle of the night Harry started thrashing about in his bed and mumbling in the dark room caught midst another nightmare. As he had fallen asleep fully clothed and wand still in his hand, when he tossed and turned, he managed to startle himself awake by gawkily poking himself in the neck with his wand. Harry felt cold sweat on his skin as he shook his head trying to get the confusing images of green light and dying friends out of his mind.

Clattering the doors closed behind him he went to the bathroom. After throwing his dirty clothes on the floor, he looked in the mirror. A wide-eyed boy with unruly hair looked back. Suddenly he wanted nothing more than to punch the hell out of his reflection. He was useless and guilty...

"No."

Harry took a grip on his thoughts and closed his eyes.

"It wasn't my fault. They died because of Voldemort," he said aloud with a faint hope that that would make him believe the words.

But you could have saved them.

"I saved as many as I could."

The Voice in his head kept talking while Harry took a shower, while he shampooed his hair and while he dried his body with a towel. It didn't stop when he stood in front of the mirror, cutting his hair shorter, either.

Harry stubbornly didn't listen. He still felt guilty, but he couldn't change what had already happened. The only thing he could do was live on even if it meant battling that voice every day.

He sighed. When you defeat your enemies, you get demons inside your head. Who would have guessed? I hoped it would end when Voldemort died.

After the Battle of Hogwarts ended, there were trials and prison sentences, and reunions, and announcements of deaths to families. A week later Hogwarts’ rebuilding started, by the start of the next school year it will be restored and upgraded. All the survivors had been asked to finish their education as eight years.

Harry desperately wanted to go back to the place where he had felt most at home for the previous six years, but at the same time now it is the place where so many had lost their lives. He was horrified to go back, yet he had agreed.

Luckily, he had managed to evade most of the reporters and ministry's people who had wanted to talk to him, ask him questions and make him relive what had happened. He had avoided Diagon Alley and other places where wizards could be. On those rare occasions when he did go out, he visited only the muggle parts of London. His long, lonely evenings he had spent watching muggle movies and series, somehow ignoring the voice that appeared anytime he wasn’t fully concentrated on something else.

Now he was concentrating on his hair and making it more manageable.

How do people do this?

He cut the front as good as he could and tried to cut the back too, but it didn't end up anything like what he had imagined. Sighing he tried to make himself feel better and looked in the mirror again, flashing a forced grin.

"At least I look better than Malfoy."

He sighed again.

Whom am I kidding? Malfoy's hair was perfect!

Even in the court. Harry had felt terribly self-conscious while testifying for him, because even in prison robes Malfoy had looked collected and neat. His hair bloody flawless, while Harry hadn't had shower in 3 days and his hair was long and unkempt.

During the trials he had been so stressed he had barely remembered to eat. He had been required to be there in 2 minutes, and half an hour later in two other places. Thankfully Ron and Hermione had helped him a lot.

He ran his fingers through his short hair grimacing.

Will have to do for now.

Stepping into the bedroom, he reached out to grab a clean t-shirt from his dresser but was surprised when his hand came in contact with… nothing.

"What…"

The dresser wasn't there. It took him a moment to realise that in his anger he had vanished all the furniture in his room except for his bed and that included the dresser with all of his clothes.

"Shit."

As he couldn't do anything at the moment he just dropped his dirty clothes on the ground and jumped in his bed with a groan. He shifted until he was comfortable and dozed off. The nightmares didn't stop and he woke a couple of times sweating and breathing heavily. At one point he must have screamed because his throat became sore. At dawn he gave up on being rested and got up to make breakfast.

Kreacher had wanted to stay and work for 'the great Harry Potter' but after Dobby, Harry couldn't permit that. He had freed him and proposed that Kreacher could work in Hogwarts.

After that, Harry had been all alone in this house. While he was together with Ginny, she sometimes stayed over but not often and it was clear that she didn't really like the house. He couldn’t blame her, it was big, dark and dusty. Even after the cleaning hat the Order of Phoenix had done, many rooms were untouched dirty and dangerous.

The idea of redecorating the whole house came to him because he was bored out of his mind.

On his way to the kitchen he saw the damage of the day before. Empty spaces where previously had been furniture, some of the things were shattered and one room was full of splinters. He closed the doors to the last room deciding, to worry about it later.

Good thing I didn't use any flame curses.

Once he was in the kitchen, he discovered that he was almost out of food. Barely enough left to fix something nutritious. On a piece of paper he wrote which groceries he needed from the muggle shop and what he needed from Diagon Alley. He scowled. He wasn´t keen on going there but he needed supplies for the planned redecoration.

Not feeling rested in the slightest, which was a well-known feeling, he hoped moving would help. Unhelping with his already sluggish state, the Voice in his head was like a heavy weight veering down on his brain, trying to make him lie down and pity himself for all eternity.

Leaving the table after breakfast he pocketed the list, brushed off his dirty clothes from the day before and braced himself for human interaction. Harry exited Grimmauld Place, wearing his dark cloak concealing his weariness and famous face.

The trip to the groceries store was successful and an hour later Harry was at home stashing away the food. After a minute of hesitation, he left the safety of his house again and apparated to Diagon Alley. Pulling the hood over his head to hide his face, he walked along the cobblestone roads until he found the shop he needed. Walking in, a bell chimed somewhere above him and he was greeted from the main desk.

“Hello there! Welcome! How may we help you today?”

Walking closer to the desk, he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and tried to force a smile.

“I need a consultation about some renovations I’m working on.”

The girl nodded and smiled at him her eyes showing weird pity. Harry guessed his attempt at smiling wasn’t a success. He followed the girl which led him to a neat looking office.

“Ah, Mister Potter! Welcome to our shop! How are you?” The man wore immaculately cut wizards robes and not a hair out of place as he gestured to a seat.

“Fine, thank you. I was wondering if you could help me…”

They discussed all of the details he wanted to change in Sirius´ house. Talking about his vision took about two hours, but his purchases would arrive the next morning and he contently stood up. After a thousand thank you’s, he gave a nod, and left the shop mind still going over his plans.

Making his way further down Diagon Alley Harry stopped in numerous shops to get what had been mentioned in his Hogwarts letter. Walking into Flourish and Blotts, he grabbed all the standard spell books, along with some more tomes on rebuilding and redecorating. One with tips and tricks and the other with some useful little spells, including one that could make the windows of the Grimmauld Place bigger, allowing more light to shine through the darkness of the house.

Plumbing also needs to be redone.

Harry decide that some help might be needed to not blow the ancient house up. He looked around until his eyes registered a small store that looked useful. Entering it, he saw that the little shop was equipped with all kinds of furniture, lamps, and fixtures. Just what he needed. While shopping Harry picked everything he could think of and had it shipped directly to the old Black house. Feeling tired out for the day, Harry apparated back to Grimmauld Place.

Once he was back in his room, he put all his new books and quills, along other purchases into his trunk. Pulling the hooded coat from his body and throwing it onto his bed, he prepared himself to make a call.

Going down the stairs into the drawing room, he kneeled on to the carpet and grabbed up a pinch of Floo powder.

"The Burrow," he said putting his face in the green flames. Harry saw a couch, but no signs of Weasleys. "Hello?" He would have to try again later if they weren’t home.

“Yes? Oh, Harry! Come through! Come through!” Molly Weasley’s voice filtered through from the other end of their living room. Pulling his head from the fireplace, he stood and stepped over the fire grate before throwing down another pinch of Floo powder and calling out the Weasley home again. Stumbling from their hearth, Harry was engulfed in a warm hug from the redheaded matriarch, who then ushered him into the kitchen.

"Ginny is in London for the day and Ron is out with Hermione. How are you, dear?”

He smiled at the bustling woman and shook the soot from his clothes and hair.

“I’m fine, Mrs. Weasley. Thank you.”

She smiled and nodded out to the yard. “Fred and George are here for a visit. They’re out in the garden, presumably getting carrots for dinner.”  

Harry went through the Weasley's kitchen and into the garden. George was crouching in the garden but Fred was sitting on a bench pointing with his finger in George's direction.

"A bit to the left, I think! Oh, Harry! Nice to see you!"

“Hello you two. How’s it been?” Harry sat next to Fred, quirking his brow at their antics.

The twins happily spoke about their shop and how well it was doing, telling him that they were going to send him some of their new products soon (what with him being their “silent partner” and all), and he almost laughed. They spoke a bit longer, the twins talking him into helping them set up a prank for when Ron came back home.

Fred was still recovering from a curse that hit him in the Hogwarts battle and George was still missing an ear, but they seemed well. Their business was thriving and they seemed happy. Cautiously, Harry asked if they had any free time to spare to help him with the renovations of Grimmauld Place.

"Maybe on the weekend? How does that sound?" Fred asked his twin with a wink.

"I can't ear you Fred, can you repeat that?"

"It's okay if you're busy, guys. No problem."

The twins looked at him in all seriousness.

"We can make it the next weekend," they said in one voice.

Suddenly, something popped up from the ground beside George and flew to the windows, stunning the three of them as they watched the thing disappear into the house. An irritated shout came from inside and the window flew open to reveal Mrs Weasley, red-faced and covered in confetti and glitter.

"Did we...?" Fred gulped, staring at the angry woman.

"Make a slight clanger with the windows? Yes." George was also looking up, his eyes wide.

"Now, young men, what have I told you about...!"

"Sorry, mum!" They both called up in unison, torn between laughing and cowering.

"Better get those carrots!" Fred whispered to George, who nodded.

Mrs Weasley shook a finger in their direction, mouth set in a thin line, and closed the window. Not long after Mrs. Weasley continued cooking supper, Ron and Hermione arrived at the Burrow with the chiming of the Weasley clock. Mr Weasley arrived when it was already served.

The family ate happily, laughing when Ron's spoon kept running from him and while Fred tried to avoid flying bread chunks. It wasn’t long before Ginny came into the chaos as well, smiling and content as she took her seat next to Harry. He had been afraid that they would somehow be awkward now that they weren’t together anymore, but as their breakup was mutual, their friendship came back in full force.

After supper, while they were sitting in the living room, catching up with each other, Harry had asked his friends what they thought about the renovations he had in mind.

“Oh Harry! I think it’s wonderful!” Hermione gave him a pat on the knee with a large smile.

“It’s just what that old place needs, really!” Ron nodded along, slinging his arm over Hermione’s shoulders. “Just don’t make me clean any more pixy curtains…”

“Don’t worry, we can make Fred and George do it,” Harry said, leaning his head back against the overstuffed chair, trying to keep his eyes open. “I even bought books earlier to read up about it,” he murmured. Immediately he and Ron noticed the light that had entered Hermione’s eyes and shook their heads. “We’ll help you with whatever you need, Harry!” Hermione was excited, as Harry had actually gone out, and what’s more – actually bought books.

“Thanks, guys.” He gave a nod.

Ron stretched out his long legs and leaned back. “No problem, mate!”

“We’ll start tomorrow! Bright and early!” Hermione beamed at both of them.

Harry and Ron both groaned good-naturedly, not batting an eye when Hermione hit each of their legs with a content complaint.

“Boys…”

Sometime later, standing up from his chair and stretching a bit, Harry bid everyone a fond goodbye before stepping through the hearth and flying through the Floo. Climbing the stairs one at a time, he shed his clothes and crawled into bed, exhausted after his long day. He was asleep before his head hit the pillow.

Chapter Text

After an unpleasant night Harry woke up in a surprisingly good mood. He got in the shower whistling and successfully pushing the annoying voice into the back of his head at least for today.

When he walked downstairs there was a knock on the door. He opened it and signed for the box that had been delivered, the paper rolled itself up and disappeared. It was the new wallpaper he had chosen. It was light grey now, but with a special spell he could change how it looks. Any picture, any colour. He had thought it was cool.

He put the big box in the corridor and went to make breakfast. Harry was putting cereal in the bowl when someone knocked at the door. He put down the almond milk and got the door. It was Ron.

“Hey, mate.”

“Hey, Ron.”

They went to the kitchen and Harry picked up the milk again. Before he could pour it into the bowl he heard knocking again. He put the milk down again and it spilled a little.

“Crap.”

Harry got the door, it was another box with some of the furniture he had chosen. It was all customizable with magic. He put that box next to the first one and continued with his breakfast.

He and Ron talked a bit about what Harry was planning and then Hermione arrived. She commented on the stuffed corridor sceptically, her wild hair put up in a bun. Her face was weary but she was smiling at Harry and Ron happily, Harry finished his food and got up.

“I guess we can start with removing the old wallpaper and stuff from the walls.”

“Okay, but we need to move all the furniture.” Hermione looked in the hallway.

“Let’s start with the first floor, then the kitchen, then upstairs.”

They worked all day, moving furniture to the first floor rooms and deciding what they should keep and what throw out. At every cupboard was a thick layer of dust and beneath eerie dust bunnies. Under the stairs the dust layer only slightly shifted when Ron tried to clean it and stayed in place hovering and humming quietly. He stepped back suspicious.

“Hermione, there is something weird here… GAH! And a spider! Shit!” Ron jumped three steps back gallantly pushing Harry to the ground.

“Ron, calm down.” Harry tried to get up from the rubbish pile.

“Oh, sorry, mate... But NO.”

Hermione came and dealt with the spider by throwing it out the window.

In the book Harry had bought the day before they found out what was up with the humming dust and successfully got rid of it.

By the end of the day they had cleaned the first floor and awakened the portrait of Walburga Black only about twenty-seven thousand times. They had removed the old wallpaper and all the paintings that came off. The hallway looked bare and empty, but cleaner than it had been in ages. The annoying portrait still didn’t come off. Harry thought about removing it by destroying the wall, but Hermione said it would be a horrible idea as they didn’t know how the house was built and it might collapse on their heads.

Harry called for Kreacher and asked him if he knew where the Grimmauld place’s blueprints were. He knew and got them out of a box in the attic. Kreacher didn’t like the thought of destroying all of the history that this house had, and Harry had to remind him who was in charge of the house now. So the house-elf only watched with horror when Ron dropped something that once upon a time might have been a precious portrait.

After the house-elf left with a few treasures he picked out of the trash, they looked at the blueprints, but none of them had any clue as to could they destroy that wall or not. For dinner they heated up what Mrs Weasley had given Ron for them to eat. Hermione decided that Ron and Harry will go to Diagon Alley tomorrow, to find someone who could help them with things they didn’t know.

The following weekend he found out what should have been easy to predict – Fred and George were more trouble than help. Harry was sure they had hidden surprises for him to discover over time. Luna and Neville had also come by a couple of times to help, they gave him a plant as a present for new beginnings. It started off small but placed where Neville said it would feel the best by the end of the summer it grew three times as big. Harry had to buy a new pot for it.

Andromeda and Teddy came by to visit and Harry had a great time looking after his godson. After that, Harry started smiling again rarely but still. When Hermione noticed that she invited them for a picnic and made Harry go out.

It had been Harry’s birthday, a beautiful sunny day with strong wind. The Weasleys had come, Neville and Luna. George had invited Seamus and Dean as well. They had spent all day flying and playing wizard outdoor games. That night was Harry’s his first night without nightmares.

Over time it became slightly easier to ignore the voice, his friends and kept him busy restoring his house. Harry had already started thinking of it as home as he had put so much time, energy and work into it. The nightmares didn’t stop but there were nights when Harry slept without waking up.

Over the remaining month of summer Harry made sure he didn’t have much time to feel sorry for himself, hate himself or take proper care of himself for that matter. The latter was an unfortunate side effect of being overly busy. By the end of August his hair was so long again that he could put it in a man bun. When Ginny had seen that she had had a fit of laughter so hard that she stepped in a bucket of white paint and was useless for the rest of the day.

The twins had been making fun of him so much, he finally dropped everything in the middle of painting and stormed out of the house. The raven-head disapparated with such force that the sound made Ron drop the dish with sandwiches, he had been carrying upstairs for the others. Harry was back an hour later much calmer and with a haircut that suited him well.

Two days before Harry had to leave for Hogwarts he was officially finished with everything except for the attic. It was rebuilt to be one spacious room but didn’t have any furniture yet. On that day Hermione and Ron showed up with a box of champagne and announced a party in honour of finishing the house and because they would go back to school in no-time. Two hours later people started to show up. It was fun and Harry felt very lucky to have such wonderful friends.

Everyone had brought presents for the house, most of them useless.

“Hermione what am I going to do with that? – What is that?” Harry walked around a thing that Hermione had brought.

“It’s for cooking, Harry, you can’t live on fresh fruits forever.”

“You think so? Watch me.

In the hallway Harry had hung a picture of his parents and one of Remus and Tonks with Teddy. Also picture from his birthday and another with him, Ron and Hermione. There was also a picture with him and Sirius, Hedwig and Hagrid.

The next day he, Ron and Hermione finished the attic. Afterward they left Harry alone to gather his things for Hogwarts.

“You should have already packed, Harry, I swear, you will be the death of me one day.” Hermione chided before hugging him and leaving through the door.

“I have loads of time Hermione, don’t worry.”

When she smiled at him Harry could feel she was holding down another advice. He hugged Ron goodbye, avoiding the girl’s eyes.

“Meet us on the platform tomorrow, Harry,” he said against his friend’s ear.

“Okay, Ron, see you tomorrow.”

He closed the new door and turned around resting his head against the door and letting his breath out. People sure can be exhausting… still, he couldn’t imagine where he would have been if not for them. He looked up at the big chandelier thinking. The place had really improved since his first visit. Now it was almost homey if a little quiet as Harry was the only one living there constantly.

Harry cleaned up the kitchen and went to his room. Oliver Wood had given him a book about Quidditch and he started reading it lying on his bed. Not long after he passed out with his face still in the book. He woke up when in his dream Hagrid made him dance on the roof of his house while all the students watched.

He shivered and moved in his bed to be more comfortable. Then his eyes flew open and he looked at the clock frantically. It was three in the morning.

I haven’t started packing…

Oh, shit.

Harry jumped out of his bed and slipped on the dirty t-shirt that was on the ground.

“Shit!”

He reached and grabbed his wand from the bedside table. He waved in the direction of the ceiling and the lights turned on. He started by putting all his books in his trunk, after that all the quills and ink from his table went in there as well. The robes he hadn’t thought about since his sixth year were still in his trunk as he had never bothered to unpack them.

He decided to try them on, and even though it´s usually a good thing to grow, this time it was unhandy, his robe’s sleeves and the trousers were too short. He cursed again and groaned annoyed. He would have to visit Madam Malkin´s before he could go to the Hogwarts Express.

He quickly wrote a letter to warn Madam Malkin and wanted to send it, but then realized that he doesn´t have an owl. His heart stung and he dropped the letter in the bin angrily. In a sour mood he went back to sleep.

Harry woke up at half past eight, quickly ate the last of his cereal and apparated to Diagon Alley. He walked to Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions and knocked on the door as it was still closed. After a minute Madam Malkin opened the door.

“I’m sorry, I would have owled – but I don’t have an owl. And this is an emergency.”

“I have to open soon anyways. New robes, I presume?”

“Yes, thank you.”

She pointed where he should stand and started measuring him, then he had to wait 25 minutes.

“Madam Malkin, do you know if Eeylops Owl Emporium is open now?”

“I believe it is.”

Harry left the clothing shop and walked down the street. It was a pleasant day, people seemed happy. Some stared at Harry or stopped and talked to him, but disregarding that and if you didn’t count the old lady who started to photograph him franticly, he got to the owl shop without trouble.

Harry hesitated before opening the doors to the shop. From outside seemed like most of the occupants were still asleep. He could see a white owl sitting on a perch, head under its wings. Harry’s breath caught in his throat and his hand froze over the handle.

The owl stirred and lifted the head meeting Harry’s eyes. That woke the boy from his shock, he reverted his eyes from the owl’s black ones and entered. He started looking around anywhere but at the white owls, there were many other kinds as well. The owner came out of the back room and approached Harry.

“Something catches your eye, sir?”

“Yes, actually. That one,” Harry said hoping his voice didn’t betray the lump that was restraining his words.

“Good choice.”

Without another word Harry paid and walked back to Madam Malkin’s shop. After entering he saw that there was another customer, Madam Malkin was already mostly done his measurements.

“Sit over there.”

Her icy voice surprised Harry until he recognised the other customer as Draco Malfoy.

Before Harry could say anything to either of them, Madam Malkin turned to Harry.

“Didn’t know they allowed snakes back at Hogwarts,” she said a matter of factly.

“What?” Harry was taken aback by seeing Malfoy here and Madam Malkin being unexpectedly rude to him.

“Well, he is here for robes too.”

“And?”

“Well…”

But Harry didn’t let her finish.

“I am sorry. I must have missed something. But I seem to RECALL THAT HE WAS CLEARED BY THE WIZENGAMOT. And want to know who spoke on this sods behalf? No one other than ME. I didn’t do it so people would go around slandering him.” Harry swallowed his immense want to scream. This was the other reason he didn’t leave the house – everything was still not okay. “Now if you don’t mind I would like to collect my robes so I can be on time for my train.” His voice was cold as ice and his eyes hard as he looked straight into hers. Harry was barely holding his temper, he felt sick of war, fighting and all the unhappiness it all brought with it.

Madam Malkin clearly no longer felt comfortable.

“Of course,” she said clipped, but Harry kept looking at her with a calm face, only his eyes betraying his anger.

She turned towards Malfoy whose face was of pure disbelief as he watched Harry deal with the situation.

“I apologize,” Madam Malkin said, not meeting the blond’s eyes and stalked off to get Harry’s robes.

Harry shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. War is over. Why can’t people move on? But deep down he understood. Still - he would never act like that.

When he looked up he saw that Malfoy was still staring at him.

“You’re welcome,” he said to Malfoy who was watching him transfixed.

“Nice owl.” Malfoys voice sounded as arrogant as ever.

Harry shook his head and ignored the blond.

He looked down at the cage in which two yellow eyes were watching him. The owl didn’t have a name yet, but his feathers were even more black than Harry’s hair, he was young and active and Harry hoped he would with him. In the owl shop there had also been owls similar to Hedwig, but he couldn’t have brought himself to buying one of them. The constant reminder of yet another dead friend wouldn’t help his recovery.

Harry glanced at the blond who was standing beside an exhibited green dress and a red hat. Compared he seemed pale and unnoticeable, only his eyes were still burning with grey fire. And still staring at Harry.

Malfoy’s mind was racing as he recovered from the fact that Harry bloody Potter had just defended him. So deep in thought, he didn’t even register that he should insult him. When he came back to his senses Harry was already leaving.

“Well, have a good day Malfoy.” His voice wasn’t friendly but it didn’t feel right to insult Malfoy after he had defended him.

Malfoy just stared at him suspiciously and didn’t answer.

Harry puffed and left the shop, in one hand the cage with the black owl and in other two new sets of robes. Draco shook his head irritated and confused.

After Harry was outside the shop he apparated home and threw his new robes into the trunk. He looked around the room one last time and tossed his other t-shirt into the trunk, then closed it and took it downstairs. He closed the door activated the wards and apparated to the noisy platform.

He looked around searching for his friends when someone bumped into him.

“Harry?”

“Ginny? I’m late, where are Ron and Hermione?”

“I saw them over there. Oh, hi!” She went on to hug some girl from Ravenclaw.

Soon Hermione saw Harry and called for him.

“Where have you been? There will be no free places left.”

“Sorry, I realized I didn’t have robes.”

“In the name of Merlin, Harry.” Hermione looked positively stressed.

They got onto the train and found one free compartment, Ron defended it from a bunch of third-year girls while Harry and Hermione put their trunks on the shelves above them.

Two minutes later the train started moving and Harry could barely hold back a smile. He was going home! He felt anxious because he didn’t know if his nightmares would get better or worse at Hogwarts, but he didn´t want to think about that now. Instead he opened a window and closed his eyes feeling the brush of the wind and the early sunrays on his face.

“What are you smiling about Harry?” Hermione watched him suspiciously.

“I saw Malfoy today,” Harry said the first thing that came to his mind, but judging from his friend’s faces, he hadn’t sounded sarcastic enough.

“Right.” Ron looked weirded out.

“Seriously? Guys, it was sarcasm…” before Harry could say anything else in his defence, the door of the compartment slid opened and a pale face looked in. It was Malfoy, he was breathing heavily.

Behind him there was an angry voice.

“…and don’t come back this way. I will hex you so hard you will never stand straight again!” And then a sound of doors shutting with way more force than necessary.

Malfoy rolled his eyes and looked over the three surprised Gryffindors.

“I suppose, I can’t stay here either.” He closed the door.

Harry shifted remembering that there were no more compartments to right and that the angry voice had come from the left side.

“Guys, we’re in the last compartment.” Harry heard himself say. The war was over that was true, but that didn’t mean that he had to be friends with his rival. On the other hand – he really didn’t feel like fighting and being paranoid this year.

“We are, aren’t we?” Hermione sighed.

“What? No. Hermione. Harry. You absolutely won’t do this. NO.” Ron was pointing at them with his finger. Hermione ignored him and nudged Harry with her foot.

“I’m not asking him in.”

“Why do I have to do that? Fine.” Harry stood up while Ron looked at Hermione with utter disbelief.

Harry opened the door and looked to the right. Malfoy was sitting on his trunk and by the looks of it trying to burn a hole into the wall in front of him with his furious stare.

“Hey, Malfoy. You can sit with us if your royal self can endure that.” Harry tried for it not to sound like an insult.

Malfoy looked at him incredulously.

“We’re not going to curse you,” he added after the blond send him a lofty look.

“I could take all three of you, even if you tried,” he noted, getting up. Sitting with the Golden Trio sounded dreadful, but spending the journey sitting on his suitcase for everyone to see would be just too much for his self-esteem. Why must the only two choices I have BOTH be mortifying?

Only if you have gotten about 50 times better over the summer. Harry thought, rolling his eyes.

Harry went back and sat opposite of Ron. As Malfoy entered and tried to put his trunk into the last free place, he almost dropped it and cursed. Harry stood up and helped Malfoy before he could register who he was helping. This was weird, he wasn’t supposed to help his rival. Why did he even ask him in? He would deserve much more than sitting alone and humiliated because nobody would let him in. Harry knew for sure if he were left in such situation Malfoy would only make fun of him. But he guessed that was the difference between him and the Slytherin.

“I was handling that.”

“Sure you were. What’s wrong with your arm?” Harry asked sitting down again.

“Nothing,” Malfoy answered a little too fast for it to be true and sat down opposite Hermione.

“Well,” Hermione said with fake cheerfulness. “Let’s try not to kill each other.”

Harry nodded, Malfoy only looked at her like she was something stuck to his boot, while Ron was trying to with his stare. Hermione sighed, shook her head and took Ron’s hand pulling him closer and gave him a quick kiss on his cheek. Surprised Ron forgot all about Malfoy and turned to his girlfriend. Harry sighed and looked out of the window.

An hour later Harry and Ron were playing cards while Hermione was reading a book and Malfoy was looking out of the window trying not to fall asleep.

When Harry was putting his winning card on the table, Malfoy suddenly jerked his head up, his hand on his wand and eyes wildly looking around.

Ron snickered, Harry turned to Malfoy.

“You good?” he asked ready to pull his wand if the Slytherin freaked out because Malfoy looked really disturbed.

“Never better, Potter,” he grumbled, put his wand away and sat with a straight back again.

Hermione turned back to her book and shifted closer to Ron.

“I’m not going to attack you.” Malfoy sounded imperious and little offended, which Harry thought was ridiculous.

“What? No, I was just moving closer to my boyfriend.”

“Hey, what’s your problem?” Ron put his cards down and turned to look at Malfoy.

“I have no problem, Weasley, except for your long nose in my business.”

Harry was annoyed because he had been winning and wanted to resume the game. “Guys…” Harry began but was interrupted by Ron who stood up and took out his wand.

“You arrogant conceited arsehole.”

Harry stood in front of Malfoy before he realized it. His arms raised and looking Ron in the eye.

“Calm down, Ron. He is just a spoiled prat.”

Ron met Harry’s eyes and after a moment calmed down and pushed his wand back into his pocket.

Malfoy sat with arms crossed and only one string of self-control away from mumbling something about Ron’s red ears and Potter’s hero complex. He watched as the two Gryffindors went back to playing cards.

The wizarding world’s saviour, Saint Potter. Well, Draco doesn´t need to be saved, he deserved what he got. He thought about how Potter was right and he was just a spoiled prat. He sighed. Mother also had said that he was lacking certain… social skills, like appearing likable and not as a conceited arsehole.

But I can’t be civil with them! Weasley is a tosser, Granger is a bossy know-it-all, and Potter is a heroic, arrogant prat that thinks he is better than everyone else.

Before the war Malfoy was acquainted with other Slytherins and purebloods, so he didn’t have to bother with ‘making friends’. According to his mother, it was time for him to let go of his father’s ridiculous agenda and try to be nice instead of arrogant and rude.

He let out an irritated sigh and opened his mouth.

How do you even do ‘nice’?

“I…” he started, but Ron also started talking at the same time.

“What’s wrong with you? You have been puffing and huffing like a train for the last five minutes.” He looked amused and his voice was mocking.

Potter was also watching Malfoy slightly amused, Hermione was ignoring them all completely immerged in her book.

"No, nothing, I mean... Well…” better sooner than later “…I have been advised to make friends. I have also been told that for that I need to quote: stop being a self-absorbed bugger, rude toff and all in all a wazzock of a person,” he recited, making Ron snigger and Hermione nod while looking up. “So, would you like to accept my humblest apology for unrestingly making fun of you for years?"

Draco made sure his face reflected the sweetest Hufflepuff, but his voice dripped with disgust despite himself.  With a new wave of distaste, he felt his eyes watching the Golden Trio with expectation. Now when he had apologized, they for sure will pay him the respect he deserves.

"You can’t possibly expect us to be friends just like that, do you? Just don’t bother others anymore, then I might forgive you Malfoy," Hermione said, earning a gobsmacked and betrayed look from Ron.

"Yeah, Malfoy, if you stop tormenting people, it´s all forgiven and forgotten."

To Draco it didn’t seem like Potter meant it. More like he said it because he had to – because he was supposed to.

Ron hesitated looking disgusted.

"For Merlin's sake, he´s trying to change, Ron," Hermione scolded, placing her hand on his.

"I guess, it's fine then," he said slowly, looking very unhappy.

"Marvellous," Malfoy smirked his voice dripping with sarcasm.

"You were the one to ask, so don't pretend we're forcing you to talk to us. So… Wanna play cards?"

Malfoy looked at Harry with an unreadable facial expression and then raised one eyebrow. At that Harry felt like his gut was suddenly full of butterflies and his heart fluttered, he quickly broke the eye contact and looked at Ron only slightly red. He might as well give the Slytherin a chance, he never did before, maybe it won’t be so bad.

"Depends, what are you playing?"

Ron told him the name of the game and Malfoy sneered.

"Well, that is a lame game, but sure, if you want to be defeated miserably, I can play."

"We'll see about that." Harry moved closer to the window to make space for Malfoy and dealt cards again.

Chapter Text

On the way to the carriages Ginny, Neville and Luna found the other three Gryffindors and the Slytherin walking together not yet friendly but not in the trying-to-kill-each-other way either.

Ginny grabbed Harry's arm and hissed only half quietly. "Hey, what's that slimy git doing with you?"

"I could ask the same to you Weaselette."

Malfoy wasn't fast enough to avoid Ginny's elbow to his stomach – not strong enough to leave a bruise, but strong enough that the blond doubled over.

"What did you say about my sister?"

"Shit, it was a natural reaction to too many Weasleys too close to me."

"Seriously, Malfoy, cut it." Harry stepped in before Ron could take out his wand.

"Shut up," he said still one hand pressed against his stomach. "Ginevra, Longbottom, Lovegood, I apologise for my immature attitude to you in the past."

"I always knew you would get all those Wrackspurts out of your head," Luna proclaimed and petted Malfoy's head who looked utterly confused, slightly scared and, just to be sure, decided to take a step back.

Neville shook his head. “What you did last year can’t be forgotten just like that.”

“You think I wanted to torture those small brats? My house was the headquarters of the Dark Lord, my mother probably didn’t sleep at all while he was there. I know it was bad for you, but it wasn’t a walk in a park for us either.” He took a breath. “If I could change what I did I would, but I can’t, so I have to deal with the consequences. You shouldn’t think about it much, you heroic prats, won’t have to live with that on your conscience, I will.”

“Wow, Malfoy, where did you get a conscience? You should get some manners from there too,” Harry commented.

“I can be polite, Potter, believe it or not.”

“Not!”

“Wanna bet?”

“Sure. Be polite for a week… with everyone.”

“Week? And everyone? That’s just cruel.” But they shook hands.

Ron, Neville, Hermione and Ginny watched the exchange with weird looks on their faces. Luna looked dreamily at something, in their direct surrounding.

“Okay, we should get in.” Ginny pushed others toward one of the last carriages.

All of them got into one carriage, but Malfoy and Harry were left standing on the road.

“There is no more space,” Ginny said leaning out.

“Oh, what the hell…” Harry put his foot on the wheel and pulled himself up. On the roof there was enough place for two so he looked down and called.

“Scared, Malfoy?”

“You wish, Potter.” He hauled himself up with the grace and ease of a cat. Harry was sitting with stretched legs and watching Malfoy.

“See something you like, Potter?”

Harry turned slightly red and looked away embarrassed. Malfoy’s lean muscled body was apparent, even under the robes, and he had been slightly staring. Still, as soon as Malfoy opened his mouth all the ‘attractiveness’ disappeared – it wasn’t even attractiveness… he just stated the fact that Malfoy wasn’t unattractive. Yes, that’s it.

“You wish, Malfoy.”

Malfoy shrugged and settled down. He felt weird, he hadn’t been friendly with anyone for ages. Not that he was friendly with Potter and his friends. No. But maybe… civil for the time being. He hated to admit it but over the summer he had felt atrociously lonely. And now any interaction that wasn’t fighting as alien as it felt, was welcomed. To be honest even fighting if it was with Potter. It reminded him of the good old times.

He had been afraid that apologising would somehow make him more miserable, but his mother made him swear, and as it was he was miserable anyway. All the things he did in the last years, he regretted them every second. Still, what’s done, is done. He can’t change the past. He had to keep living, adapt and change the future.

“You okay?” Harry asked because Malfoy had sat there with a frown on his face and silent for a while.

“Never better,” he said calmly and turned his head to look at the Forbidden Forest.

“Okay, then,” Harry said unconvinced. “Tell me, what will be the loser’s task?”

Malfoy thought for a moment and then smiled content with his thought.

“Writing a love poem of sexual nature and sending it to .”

Harry’s smile faded a bit and only after a second Malfoy understood why.

“Oh, shit.” His face was a mix of regret and confusion. I didn’t mean to… S H I T. Why can’t I be nice even when I try?

“You’re so sure you will lose?”

“What? No. I…” Malfoy gritted his teeth to stop stuttering.

“McGonagall.”

Malfoy seemed eager to correct what he had said and shook his head at the same time as nodding, and all in all ended up looking comic.

“No. That’s good. And bad. Yes, let’s do McGonagall.” When he realised what it sounded like he turned slightly pink, and Harry collapsed in laughter because Malfoy had sounded so determined.

“Not like that, come on…” Draco just accepted the embarrassment and facepalmed himself, his pride slightly bruised.

“Hey Malfoy, why didn’t you stop being a prat sooner?” Harry hadn’t laughed like that in… he didn’t remember in how long. He stretched happily and put his hands behind his head, watching the sky.

Malfoy watched Harry, he was muscled, his hair black and messy and somehow he still managed to look… well… attractive. Malfoy shook his head. Awesome. I shouldn’t be here. Suddenly Malfoy’s dark thoughts started and there was no stopping them. I am an evil, terrible bastard who doesn’t deserve anything good. Even Weaselette is better than me, she never tortured kids. It was like he had opened the box, with all the bad things and thoughts, and now couldn’t close it again

“I did all those terrible things. I’m fucking sorry. I am, I swear,” he muttered quietly, but Harry heard it nonetheless.

Draco felt disgusted and weak for saying things that didn’t have any meaning.

“I know. I am sorry too.” Any shadow of laugh was gone from the Gryffindor’s face. But he was suspicious too, why was Malfoy so… human with him. Harry had thought that this Slytherin was a through and through rotten git.

Malfoy couldn’t comprehend what Potter could possibly be sorry about, he saved them all. He tried not to think. He didn’t want to die, that much he knew. The summer hadn’t been kind to him, he had lost weight and it had been ages since he last been well rested. So he tried to keep talking, words came weird and forced out of his mouth.

“What are you sorry about, Golden Boy, you saved all of us.” He had tried to joke, but his voice was too tense.

“About all the people that I couldn’t protect.” Harry looked Malfoy in the eye, suspicious of the blond’s tone.

“At least it’s not wrecking your life. You seem fairly healthy and socially adequate. I have seen veterans who see Death Eaters under every rock.”

Yes! I have been magically protected from the trauma that was the war, I mean I was never captured or held in a basement or hit in my face with a spell that made me look like a potato, or almost drowned by an evil necklace.” He shook his head. “It was bad in the beginning, but I busied myself and my friends didn’t leave me much time to overthink stuff.” Saying it out loud and to his rival seemed more than weird so he hoped Malfoy would quit his sulking soon.

Malfoy raised an eyebrow and his face didn’t look as grim anymore. He hadn’t had any friends to spend time with and doing something had seemed too energy consuming.

“At least you didn’t have to look at yourself while you looked like a – potato – which in my opinion is a very modest word to use.” He looked at the sky and sighed closing his eyes.

“Yes, I’m so sorry you had to endure that.”

Harry suddenly felt slightly weird, was he supposed to find the man sitting opposite so… not revolting. Slightly thin, but strong and his hair shining in the late sun. Harry decided that when Malfoy shut up he was not so bad to look at.

“Okay, we are here, let’s get down before Filch sees us.” Harry nudged Malfoy´s arm and slid down the carriage’s side.

Malfoy opened his eyes and also slid down. Before he could brush off the dried leafs on his robe, Harry nudged him again. He wasn’t sure what it was, but returning to the castle and the civil conversations with his rival had him in a weird mood. He was elevated and exhilarated and wanted to run.

“Let’s race to the castle,” he said, already moving away from Malfoy through the student ruffle.

“Unbelievable,” Malfoy called, taking off after the Gryffindor.

Soon he caught up with Potter, who let out a determined breath and started running slightly faster and slightly to the left. Too late Malfoy realised he was running straight at Professor McGonagall.

“Excuse me, Professor!” he called ahead and just avoided the collision. She jumped back and seemed displeased with the maturity level of her eight years.

They raced both determined to win, other students threw themselves out of their way to not be run over, some shouted to cheer for Harry but most looked confused watching the eight years running like kids.

Despite Harry’s efforts, due to Malfoys longer legs, he was faster and won by a second. They both crashed into the wall of Hogwarts and leant on it breathing heavily.

“You cheated Potter, didn’t know your heroic ass could fall that low.”

“Well, extreme situations ask for extreme measures.” The mood he was in was possibly also due to his lack of sleep for the last couple of nights.

“Harry, are you okay? Did he do something? We saw you both running…” Hermione called sounding short on breath.

“What? No, Hermione, we were… just running.”

“Okay… Well, be careful, McGonagall seemed slightly irritated.”

“If by slightly you mean angry as a dragon protecting her offspring.” Ron caught up with his girlfriend.

“Is she as mad as a bag of ferrets?” Harry said in an innocent voice.

“Uh! That was under the belt, Potter.”

“Under Goyle´s belt for sure.”

“Merlin!” Malfoy laughed.

Then they heard the Professor’s voice behind and instantly entered the castle.

They walked into the Great Hall, its roof had been destroyed during the battle, but now everything seemed as always with the evening’s sky on the ceiling.

Everyone sat down at their tables and waited for Professor McGonagall to start the ceremony.

Hagrid led the first years in and after slight introduction words they were sorted. McGonagall then thanked Harry and those who had fought in the battle, for the fact that this year was even possible. When his name was mentioned it seemed like everyone started looking for him, some whispered to their friends. This year, however, it wasn’t anything bad. The worst thing being rumours about him dumping Ginny for a half mermaid or something like that.

Harry looked around the hall and while he saw many faces, he also saw the empty spaces, there were much fewer people this year. However, it still seemed he was the main thing happening. This year he was fairly sure they were as safe as it got in this world and he didn’t care much what others thought of him if it didn’t hurt anyone.

Though some of the rumours were incredible. ‘He defeated 100 Death Eaters without a wand’, ‘he is in a relationship with a Veela,’ ‘he has a child that is a vampire,’ ‘he died and came back,’ ‘his Patronus is a dragon,’ and much more. His friends never ceased making fun of the newest stuff they had heard.

Professor McGonagall introduced the new Professors and then talked about rules and about how the castle had been rebuilt, so not all hallways were like they used to be, and students should pay attention to where their classes are held.

Harry zoned out until he heard the word Quidditch.

“…eight-years are allowed on the teams as the last year wasn’t much of a fair competition.”

Smiling Harry and Ron wanted to discuss who would be the captain, but Hermione shushed them both and they turned back to the Professor.

After the announcements McGonagall wished everyone a good year and motioned with her hands for the food to appear.

It did and everyone dug in, the hall was filled with happy voices of students. Until this moment Harry was afraid that Hogwarts was somehow tainted and that he would never feel at home here again. But when he heard the many voices as cheerful as ever he smiled and dismissed the annoying thought. Hogwarts will always be his home.

After they finished dinner they went to the eight-year common room. It was on one of the upper floors with windows to the lake. It was slightly smaller than the Gryffindor one and decorated with all four house flags, but pleasantly neutral. There were two stairs – one for girls other for boys.

Harry and Ron went searching for their room, it was close to the middle of the narrow hallway. They went inside and saw their trunks on the sides of beds at the far end. Before Harry could make his way to his owl to let him stretch his wings, there was a shout from further down the hallway.

Harry looked out and saw a couple of boys - standing around someone, from the looks of it. He walked in the direction of angry voices and saw that Malfoy and one other Slytherin was on the floor and two Gryffindors were shouting insults at them when Harry approached one of them was about to kick Malfoy in the gut.

“Hey, you! What’s your name?”

 

than most of the people so he decided to take over the world. I hope there is no new Dark Lord growing in this castle.”

Harry looked sternly at every boy, most of them avoided Harry’s eyes. He turned to see Malfoy and the other Slytherin getting up.

Malfoy didn’t meet Harry’s eyes and just stepped into his room. Harry sighed and went back to his room.

“Blimey, Harry, you should have been the prefect,” Ron said hitting him slightly on the back.

“Yeah, well, I’m not.”

They readied themselves for bed and soon the room was full of calm breathing. Harry didn’t feel sleepy so he decided to . He got out the invisibility cloak and the Marauder´s Map, opened the cage and let the owl sit on his shoulder.

“We need to choose a name for you,” Harry whispered petting the owl gently.

He put the and went down to the common room, it was empty except for a pair of girls, but they were otherwise occupied and didn’t seem to notice Harry. When he was out in the hallway he opened the Marauder´s Map and looked for danger. It was nice to be back in the castle while its walls were not bombarded by Death Eaters. And to be able to feel like before, only without the shadow of death hanging over him.

The owl was excited to be in a bigger space so it left Harry’s shoulder to fly forward and back, landing in Harry’s messy hair and start again.

“Calm down, owl. How about , I think it means unstoppable or something like that.” The owl landed on Harry’s arm and turned his head almost 180°.

“No, I guess that doesn’t work.” He thought for a moment.

“How about Lucifer?”

The owl’s head sprung back into the right position and he jumped from Harry’s arm in the air with his black wings wide.

“Why am I surprised?” Harry smiled, put the hood up and went towards the Owlery. Lucifer flew above him, excited to find out where Harry brought him.

They reached the Owlery without meeting anyone and Harry left Lucifer with the other owls. He seemed happy enough. On his way back, Harry started feeling a little sleepy and when he got to his room he onto the floor beside his bed and happily settled under the covers.

He fell asleep smiling about how he had joked with one certain, blond Slytherin.

Chapter Text

"Harry..."

"Harry!"

It was his mother calling from beneath the sun. Harry put his hand up to protect his eyes from the bright light.

"Mother? What are you doing there?"

"Harry!"

Suddenly Harry felt a punch in his gut and sat up in his bed, Ron's pillow on his stomach.

Ron, Seamus and Dean were laughing while putting on their pants and from where Harry was sitting they weren't very good at that. Dean fell over on his bed.

Ron approached his best friend with a serious expression.

"Harry, mate. I'm sorry to tell you, but... ."

"Oh, shut up, Ron."

He only laughed again.

They went down to the common room and looked at their schedules.

"Blimey, that's worse than sixth year."

Hermione pushed her way towards Ron and Harry.

"I need to ask McGonagall about additional classes."

Ron seemed already desperate, and Harry looked at the schedule too. It was bad but better than fighting a dark lord. Then he noticed what lessons will be today.

"Look at the first lessons," he pointed Ron.

"Double lesson Potions! What a great way to start the school year."

"It's the first day, stop whining." Hermione pushed both in the direction of the door to get some breakfast.

"Besides, Snape is gone." Nothing could spoil Harry's mood. He was Mr Sunshine today, especially since Ron had put his shirt on the wrong way around. Twice.

Ron calmed down while he got to stuff himself with food and afterwards they went to the potions classroom. The doors were open, but the new professor wasn't around.

Ron and Hermione sat down together and Harry was left to stand as a third wheel.

"Hermione, I'm sitting with you in charms then."

"Harry!" Ron didn't seem pleased with that idea but Harry ignored the redhead and moved to one of the last empty tables in the classroom. He sat down and slouched against the cold wall prepared to fail this class miserably. And only after he had already buried his career as an Auror mentally, a paper aeroplane landed on his table. He opened it and read the neat handwriting.

'Nice robe, Scar-head.'

Harry looked down and saw that his shirt was undone and his tie not-tied. Harry cursed Ron for distracting him all morning, crumpled the aeroplane and turned. Just in time to see Malfoy, a couple of rows back, grinning like a fox. He was sitting next to a Slytherin girl which was eyeing the blond with a predator-like look. Harry threw the remains of the at the grinning Slytherin and turned to put his clothes in order.

The class was full of people, everyone was talking, someone was throwing around someone else´s bag, but Harry decided it was harmless teasing. Malfoy approached him with the crumpled remains in his hand.

"You destroyed my art."

"You call that art? I would have aimed for... hmm… maybe something you made when you were three and now can't allow it to see the light of day."

"Very mature, Potter."

"Okay, students, settle down, immediately." The new professor entered with a swish of robes and a serious expression.

Malfoy turned to get back to his place, but the professor addressed him.

"You too, Slytherin, sit down immediately." Malfoy turned around, met the professor’s eyes and sat down - on the floor. The professor looked slightly surprised but not impressed.

"You may sit next to your Gryffindor girlfriend over there." Professor motioned in the direction of Harry, who crooked an eyebrow at the professor. Some of the people laughed, and when Harry turned to see what the choking noise was, he saw Ron barely holding it together from laughing.

"Why, thank you, professor." Malfoy got up and sat beside Harry from the looks of it trying hard to conceal a smile about the professor's remark.

"My name is professor Melbourn, I will be teaching you potions this year."

Before Harry could stop himself he muttered very sarcastically, "No shit."

Luckily the only one who heard him was Malfoy, who snickered and silently accioed his book, quill and other equipment.

Professor Melbourn gave them the assignment of this lesson, to make a potion called something along the lines of 'Hentai-kles'.

"Heikles potion! It's a waste of my time and my talent." Malfoy complained reading the instructions on the blackboard. "AND I have to put up with a boy-who-lived-never knowing anything about potions or proper clothes."

"Look at the bright side, at least you will get to order me around." Harry desperately needed help with potions.

"True… well then, Scar-head, go fetch me some ingredients."

"Git." But Harry got up and went to the cupboard to find the needed supplies. When he returned, Malfoy had already started the fire under the cauldron and was waiting for him impatiently.

"If you don't move slightly faster than Longbottom on a broom, we might not be finished by next month."

Harry didn't answer instead started walking even slower.

Malfoy who looked ready to scrape out his eyes from frustration yanked the ingredients from Harry's hands and set them on the table.

"Scar-head, we don't need the toad legs, what we need is turgroot. Do please act like you have brains of a slightly more evolved animal than an earth worm, if you even can, that ." He tossed Harry the wrong vial and motioned him to go put it back.

Harry turned around again slightly annoyed with the rudeness of the Slytherin, but then he smiled wolfish and turned around.

"Malfoy, I believe you just were rude to me."

"What on earth are you talking about, Potter?" But his face showed that he realised what Harry had implied.

"I was right, you can't be polite for shit, Malfoy," Harry said and walked to get rid of the toad legs.

He returned with the turgroot and set it down on the table.

"Well, it's not fair if you can be rude to me," Draco said. He didn't want to accept defeat.

"Since when do you care about what's fair?” Harry thought about it. “Fine, then, we will be polite to each other for a week."

Malfoy nodded and went back to stirring the potion.

"Could you, please, pass me that?"

Harry bit his tongue and repressed a sarcastic remark.

"I already regret agreeing to that bet."

At that Malfoy smirked and poured whatever was in his hand into the cauldron.

Potions went by fast after they both started being overly-polite and still managed to make fun of each other.

Harry found it easy to lock up the voice in his head while busy in Hogwarts. But in moments when he was left to his thoughts like right now, it kept whispering how Harry didn't do enough, how he wasn't enough. And how he should be out there hunting the free Death Eaters.

"Potter! You imbecile! What are you doing?" Harry blinked, came back from his thoughts and looked at his hands, he was mashing whatever Malfoy had told him to mash.

"What do you mean-?" Then he noticed that he had by mistake mixed two similar plants together and now the mass on the table was slightly blue and starting to stink. "Crap."

"Evanesco!" Malfoy´s wand pointed at the stinking plants and then he turned to Harry.

"The sheer amount of mistakes you have made in this lesson alone is surely a record. I can’t believe I am stuck with a thick-headed moron like you. I would rather work with a trained crup. That would be more productive." He was furious, and Harry would feel offended if Malfoy hadn't just lost a bet. So Harry just smiled a smug smile.

"I am sorry. - But you just lost a bet. Again."

"Whatever. Mash those and don't mess up again, we are running out of time."

They finished in time and put the vial with the potion onto the professor´s desk.

"Harry, next lesson is transfiguration. Are you coming?" Ron called from the door.

"Yes, I will be right there." He called back while going back to his table to pack his things. When his stuff was mostly in his bag, he looked up to see Malfoy looking at him again.

"Malfoy, are you waiting for me?"

"What? No, Scar-head, I am memorising the homework, because I forgot to write it down."

Harry stupidly looked over his shoulder to see the homework assignment written on the blackboard.

"Oh." Harry felt stupid for presuming and wanted to leave sooner, as he and Malfoy somehow managed to be the last persons to finish. He exited the almost empty classroom into the empty hallway. He stopped to think about where the new transfiguration classroom is, but someone pushed him forwards.

"Watch where you're going, Malfoy."

"Well then don't stand precisely in my way."

 

 

"Sod off, git." Harry started walking in the direction of the stairs. He went a floor up but didn't see any of other eight-years and he didn't have a clue where the classroom was, he stopped again thinking.

Malfoy went past him ignoring the Gryffindor and peacefully strolled down the hallway like he owned the place. Harry followed him, cursing Malfoy's mood swings. Yesterday he was almost bearable, funny even, but today only thing wanted to do was to put a muting jinx on him.

Malfoy was walking and listened to the other boy's footsteps behind him. To his surprise, he didn't feel as good as he hoped he would after insulting Potter. He had actually liked yesterday And Potter hadn't laughed at him when he apologised and when he was attacked by those Gryffindors or when he saved him from the fire in the room of Requirement.

Shit, I am being a conceited arsehole again.

And despite what he told everyone, he didn't want to die alone and hated. So he turned around.

"Potter, sorry, about my remark about your mother," he said stiffly. He had done more apologising in these two days than in his whole life.

Harry only looked at him and kept walking. Malfoy desperately thought of what could Potter 'like', 'what would lift his mood', he had never thought much about anyone else, sometimes about his mother but usually only about himself so ideas came slowly.

"We can go flying later so I can beat your Gryffindor arse." No, that didn't come out quite right, he shouldn't have said he would beat Potter. Ahh, my mother is right.

But Potter stopped and looked at Malfoy with a raised eyebrow.

"I'm sorry, beat me?" He sounded like he didn't quite believe what he heard.

"You're out of practice it will be like playing with a child."

"What?" Harry was angry again. "I have beaten you every single time we have played. I really want to see your extra-super-uber-magic broom you have that will help you beat me." He wasn't quite sure what he had just said, so for a moment he looked at his shoes confused, but then looked up at Malfoy again daring the blond to contradict him.

"Calm down, Scar-head, we'll see who wins, won't we? After the dinner then?"

"Okay."

They had reached the classroom just at the same time when the others had already gone inside and sat down. Harry went through the door and saw the only free places in the very front. He sighed and went to sit down, Malfoy took the seat next to him.

Transfiguration passed in hard work of keeping up with what professor McGonagall said and performing transfigurations on random things put in front of them. Harry was very jealous of Malfoy's flawless results. He could only grimly look at the thing that had been a book but now was half eraser and half rabbit. When Malfoy saw that he almost lost his shit laughing and Harry barely held back from hitting the git on the head. He hadn’t been able to hold back from kicking him under the table though.

After the lesson ended Harry caught up with Ron and Hermione, and they went to lunch together. But Harry felt like he was interrupting them with his sarcastic comments.

"Aarry, mate, is Mahlfoy rh'ubbing off on'gh you?" Ron sounded muffled because his mouth was filled with food.

"What? No!" Harry said defensively.

"Just be careful, he might be up to something."

Ron nodded in agreement and tried to kiss Hermione only to be pushed away.

"Ron, brush your teeth first. Merlin." Hermione's voice sounded amused and slightly disgusted.

Harry looked down at his plate. Not very fun, being alone.

Afternoon classes passed without any events and Harry went back to his common room not trying to hang with Ron and Hermione anymore. As it was more than clear they were occupied with each other. He didn't feel like doing homework on the first day so he sat down in front of the fireplace. When Hermione arrived, she distracted him with a loud proclamation about how this year it was extra-important to not be behind on any of the subjects. So, with her watching eyes on him, Harry took out his potions assignment.

"I don't even know anything about 'the 7 potions from hin-thgrowt'!"

"What? It's Haingroot, Harry, and go to the library if you don't know anything." She motioned him away and sat down next to Ron, who looked guilty at Harry.

Harry wrote the correct name on his parchment and left the common room. So much for a lazy afternoon.

He slowly made his way to the library and started searching books about 'Hainroot'. He was searching for a comfortable place next to the window when he heard muffled angry voices. He put his books down and went to look for what was disrupting the peace in the almost empty library.

What he saw infuriated him even more than Malfoy's remarks. Two fourth-year girls one from Gryffindor other from Ravenclaw were pushing and insulting a young Slytherin girl who looked no more than twelve.

"Hey girls, stop it." Harry wasn't sure how to deal with girls but he presumed he would try anyway.

One turned, saw him and tugged the other one by her arm.

"Look, it's Harry Potter."

"Leave her alone, only weak people hurt those weaker than them." He wasn’t sure from where that fact came but it was true enough.

"But... But she is a Slytherin." The Ravenclaw girl seemed very sure about herself and confused as to why Harry would stop her.

"It doesn't matter, I might have been Slytherin. But I would never bully anyone."

"We... we weren't bullying her."

"And Malfoy plays Quidditch better than me, don't bullshit me."

They both looked at Harry funny but nodded.

"As you wish Mr Potter, sir." The Gryffindor girl was very serious so Harry stopped a laugh before it reached his mouth.

"Just call me Harry."

They both kind of bowed to him and ran off giggling. Shaking his head, Harry turned to the small Slytherin girl.

"You okay?"

"Fine, Scar-head, no need be all heroic, I was handling them."

"My apologies, miss." Harry was taken aback by girl's fierceness.

The girl looked at him funny and laughed.

"My name is Elizabeth." She reached out her small hand.

"I'm Harry." He shook Elizabeth's hand and she smiled.

"I know. I also know that you're not pretending to be heroic, that is just what everyone says."

Harry didn't really know what to answer to that so he just nodded.

"Well, I don't have all day so, see you later." Elizabeth waved him goodbye and ran off.

Harry smiled and went back to his table and tried to at least start the essay. When it was time for dinner he had written the title, read about 3 pages and wrote one sentence. He put the books back and went to the Great Hall. He ate in record time and told his friends that he was going flying. He went to his bedroom, took his Firebolt and changed into more comfortable clothes.

Then he opened the bedroom's window and stepped on the windowsill. He had never done something like that, but he felt like today was a good day for new things. He had to crouch slightly, but he got on his broom and then looked into the wide landscape of Hogwarts feeling his broom's eagerness to be in the air again. He inhaled and jumped out the window with a happy shout leaving the window swinging in the wind.

He fell free until the last moment, then pulled up barely avoiding a collision with the ground. He was smiling widely, it felt great to fly again, and the weather was magnificent: warm and gentle wind moving the trees. Now he was ascending as fast as he could, enjoying the airstream in his hair and letting his dark thoughts flow away with the wind. Soon he was just a tiny bit lower than the Astronomy Tower. He started flying slower and took a look around.

From up there he could see the Forbidden Forest and the Quidditch pitch as well as Hagrid's house. He flew in circles around the castle´s towers and remembered flying here with a gigantic dragon on his tail. He smiled at the memory, trying not to think about what had happened later that year.

After a couple of circles around the Astronomy Tower, he saw a white-headed person exiting the castle. Harry stopped for a second, thought about it and then started to fly full speed in that direction. Too late he realised that the student wasn´t Malfoy, as the person didn't carry a broom. He pulled up at the last moment but still made the short-haired girl duck so she wouldn´t get hit.

"Sorry!" Harry called over his shoulder embarrassed. He resolved to better sit down, so he won´t embarrass himself further until Malfoy decided to show up. He landed on the rooftop, sitting down and dangling his feet over the edge, turning his face to the sun.

Malfoy, on the other hand, was still in his room changing into Quidditch pants and a nice fitting muggle t-shirt. He had to think about today, it was pretty much the first day in his life where he didn't walk around insulting and tormenting people. And to his surprise, it wasn't that bad. People didn't magically start liking him, not that he needed them to, but still, they pretty much ignored him at best. A couple of times he had been called a Death Eater or Slytherin scum from behind, but when he looked he couldn't see who had said it.

Well, he thought, it was the best to ignore such things, as he did deserve them. Well, about the things he had done, not about his blood.

Malfoy left his room and strolled down the hallway, in the room with Potters nameplate was only Longbottom, crouching above some strange plant. So Malfoy went through the common room his broom over his shoulder. When he was out of the castle he only managed to take about five steps when he heard a flapping noise behind him.

He ignored it but at the last moment doubled over and felt a light brush of air against his head. Potter gave a surprised noise and turned around.

"Trying to injure me so you have a chance to win, Potter?"

"Hahaha, No, I'm not," Harry said in a voice that suggested the opposite.

"You've got a snitch, Potter?"

Harry shook his head hovering above the blond.

"Well, then we're lucky that you at least have a head on your shoulders," Malfoy smirked, got the small golden ball out of his trouser pocket and got onto his broom. He kicked off the ground and threw the Snitch in the sky at the same time.

"And let the games begin," he shouted in a perfect imitation of Madam Hooch. Harry laughed and set off into the sky again.

Malfoy soon caught up and swooshed past Harry so close, that the golden boy barely held himself onto his broom.

"So, this is how you wanna play." Harry grinned wolfishly and determined sped up his broom. Soon he was past Malfoy who looked weirdly nice in a dark muggle t-shirt.

They flew in arches and circles, racing each other, searching for the Snitch. Harry saw it first hovering above the Whomping Willow, he turned and flew straight at it. Soon Malfoy was on his tail, but when Harry extended an arm to catch the golden ball, it suddenly started flying down right into the tree.

Harry started a nosedive hoping to catch the snitch before it hides in the Whomping Willow's branches, Malfoy followed him not missing a beat.

When snitch reached the upper branches Harry swore and changed the direction to fly out of the violent tree’s reach. Malfoy, on the other hand, kept going little further and was hit in the leg with a long branch.

"Shit! What the hell?" Malfoy nearly lost his balance and flew away from the attacking tree before it would reshape his beautiful face.

Harry laughed hovering out of the tree's reach.

"Very funny, Potter, I could have been killed," Malfoy yelled restoring his composure.

"And that would be such , I'm sure you would be missed endlessly." Harry intended it as a joke but he didn't think Malfoy appreciated that when he flew right at his head forcing Harry to duck and almost fall off of his broom.

"Hey! Watch it!"

"You better watch your mouth, Potter."

"Okay, okay, calm down," he called and then muttered under his breath. "Touchy."

Malfoy looked at him but Harry made the most innocent face he could and Malfoy turned his stare to the still moving willow.

"Anyways, what's up with that tree?"

"I don´t know. Maybe it's still angry because I once crashed a car into it."

"Right."

Soon the Snitch left the cover of the sweeping branches and both boys rushed to catch it. Usually it didn't take long for Harry to capture it, after noticing the golden ball, but Malfoy seemed hell-bent on if not capturing it himself, sure as hell not letting Potter do it. He kept flying in his path and pushing him off the course.

"What are you trying to do? Make me fall off?"

"No-o-o, nothing like that," Malfoy smirked.

"It's annoying, that´s all."

In three minutes Harry had shaken Malfoy off and was now flying to try and keep it that way. But Malfoy wasn't so keen on chasing Potter anymore.

He was thinking about how Potter was right – no one would miss him. Then he shook his head and mentally slapped himself for such useless thoughts. Nevertheless, he felt much more exasperated, than he would feel sometime else, and if he could not throw Potter from his broom, then perhaps he would throw himself into something. He looked again at the Whomping Willow and couldn't believe his eyes – the Snitch was there, again hovering over the tree.

Malfoy glanced at Potter, but he had still turned his back on him. Malfoy looked at the golden ball again grinning and started to fly in its direction. He was fast and his smile only grew bigger when he heard a shout from behind. He rapidly closed in and could practically feel his success, in the next second he closed his hand around the golden ball, smiled a wicked smile and let out a shout of triumph.

The next second his smile was gone, as he had raised his hand in victory, his sleeve had fallen and he had caught a glimpse of the leftover scar of his dark mark. He felt empty and regretful again. How could he have been like that - so stupid and eager of power, blindly believing everything his father said?

I don't even know how to make friends!

His father was never concerned about Draco, only about the family's pride and being useful to the Dark Lord. Lucius Malfoy messed with him even now. Draco was flying and having a good time and then his father´s legacy showed and spoiled everything.

He was a bad person, as everyone kept reminding him. He was a useless Malfoy – a blemish to the whole bloodline and the whole wizarding world. He wasn't even the best student in his year, something his father always scornfully reproached him off. Malfoy tried hard not to start counting all the ugly things he did as a Death Eater. The unsuccessful murder of Dumbledore, letting the Death Eaters into Hogwarts, using Imperio on Madam Rosmerta, torturing half-bloods when Carrows ordered it…

He battled the sudden urge to relax his muscles and let himself fall from his broom, no more worries about anything.

Still, he was a Slytherin and he was a Malfoy. He was Draco bloody Malfoy and he won´t lead a pathetic sad arse life, he will be what he want to be. To be honest, he wasn't sure what that was, but that was what he shouted right now at the voice in his head constantly telling him to lay down, as he had all summer, feel sorry for himself and to end his pathetic life.

While he had been fighting his thoughts, he hadn't paid attention to Potter who flew closer, reached out and tried to snatch the Snitch from Malfoy's hand. He moved his hand out of Potter reach and looked at the raven-head.

"No insults, Malfoy? Are you in shock that you actually did win?"

Harry was dazzled, after catching the Snitch Malfoy had smiled, really smiled, not smirked or sneered - a real, wholehearted and radiating smile. Harry had been stunned by how handsome Malfoy was when he didn't pretend to hate everything.

"Not much of a victory, is it? Against the poor Scar-head."

And back to insults we are.

Harry puffed, "I have a name you know."

"I know - the great Harry James Potter, the Saviour of the Wizarding World, the Chosen One, the Golden Boy," Malfoy bit back, that at least felt as natural as always – fighting with the annoying Gryffindor. Can't appear weak. No.

"Just Harry is fine." All those names came with responsibilities and expectations which Harry never wanted.

"You sure? I have heard also the Master of Death."

At that, Harry laughed and shook his head.

"Yes, plenty sure, Harry is enough," he repeated not sure if he meant it. He didn’t want Malfoy to call him by those titles he had been given, but first names also seemed like a stretch.

"People will think we're friends or something." Malfoy laughed but he was unsure. Not that he wanted… this friendliness thing was just weird!

"Well, if you mind we can go back to open war with each other."

"I think there has been quite enough of war for all eternity, thank you very much."

Harry nodded, a couple of years ago he wouldn't even consider being civil – because there was no denying that this was what he was doing - with Malfoy, but he guessed that war changes people. Harry thought back about how he had acted - immature. But he was young so he guessed it was forgivable, besides Malfoy had been a downright git as well.

Malfoy let the Snitch go and Harry caught it the next time. After that, they decided not to play anymore and flew around the castle's grounds for a while daring each other to new stunts. When the sun started to set, Harry was exhausted and Malfoy seemed to be too. By the time they landed Harry had counted three sentences in a row from Malfoy without any insults. And he was actually surprised how fun it was when they weren't trying to hurt each other with their words .

They walked into the Entrance Hall together but stopped instantly because there were about 20 people standing and arguing.

There were five Slytherins in the middle and around them Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws crowded. Three older Slytherins were shouting while the younger two stood behind them, it looked like one was clutching a hurt arm and other was trying to help him.

Harry approached them and stopped in middle of the argument. His hands were slightly trembling from anger and he didn't even know what was happening yet.

The angriest people in front were a seventh-year Gryffindor and two of his friends, one of them Hank the eight-year from yesterday. They had their wands out pointing at two Slytherin girls and one boy which also had their wands out, they all were sixth-years. Behind the three Gryffindor boys, were a couple of third-year students.

"Please be quiet." When that didn't work Harry inhaled and shouted. "SHUT UP!" 

They did, all eyes fastening on him. He suddenly felt uncomfortable in the middle of attention but decided that, if he had started he would go through with it and end the fight.

"What's going on?"

The blond Gryffindor boy looked unimpressed by Harry, and when he opened his mouth the taller boy sounded arrogant.

"That little snake over there attacked my sister."

"He did no such thing, you thick-headed MORON!" yelled the dark headed Slytherin girl at him and before he could answer she turned to Harry.

"The little girl called him a Death Eater and then he told her to shut it, but she shouted that he attacked her and that big-mouthed wanker came and cursed his arm."

The blond Gryffindor pointed his wand at the Slytherins behind Harry and started talking.

"He is a Slytherin, which is as good as a Death Eater. And you girls are no better so if you don't want to be my slaves tonight I suggest you to shut –"

At that moment, Harry lost it. Before the Gryffindor could end his sentence or Harry could think about using his wand, he punched the yellow-haired Gryffindor in the face.

He didn't fall down only stepped back surprised, his hand over his nose, people behind him gasped some people ran away, the rest stepped back and formed a circle not really cheering for either.  The two friends of the blond stepped forward.

"Look, Potter, we get that you defeated the Dark Lord and all, but you have no right to go around and punch random people."

"I…” Harry paused for a short, enraged laugh, “watch me,” he shifted from leg to leg holding in his rage. “You see I am FED up with the war. Okay?” Harry was incredibly angry his temper raging over his head. Not only had the blond said unacceptable things to those two girls, but he had even cursed a bloody first-year and now he had the nerve to hide behind his two friends who looked more like blond gorillas. Harry was unpleasantly reminded of Dudley in his teens by those boys. “I wouldn’t have punched him if I thought that his brain could comprehend something more complicated.”

The three Gryffindors frowned, their leader seemed to have recovered first from his surprise and stepped closer to Harry nearly poking him with his wand.

"You, Potter -"

"Yes, that's my name."

"- are a little wanker. You weren't here last year, you didn't see what the Slytherins did."

"HE IS A FIRST-YEAR, YOU MORON." Harry had had enough, he now took out his wand as well. "HE WASN'T EVEN HERE LAST YEAR, AND EVEN IF HE WAS, YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO WALK AROUND AND CURSE CHILDREN, IF YOU THINK YOU DO, THEN YOU'RE NO BETTER THAN VOLDEMORT." Some more people left hurriedly, half of the rest gasped at the name, including the blond idiot in front of Harry.

"I will do as I please you prat," he said and punched Harry in the gut. Then Malfoy decided it was time he stepped in and tried to calm down the people.

"You! monkey mob, I suggest-"

He didn't get to finish as one of the Gryffindors flung a curse at Malfoy, which Harry had never heard before, before he could even take out his wand. Malfoy flew a couple of metres back and collapsed on the floor, his broom clattering on the marble floor.

Even more people left the hall.

Harry felt cold fury trickle down his backbone and he shoved his broom into the hands of the Slytherin boy who was standing there, watching his eyes wide and knees practically shaking. Harry cast a shield charm around the lifeless Malfoy and the blond again but this time with all his might, for that he got two punches in the gut from the two gorillas. They took Harry by his arms and held him while the blond punched him a couple of times in his face and gut.

Harry's head throbbed, but he felt his magic sizzle out of him and free him from the grip of those gorillas, he pushed the blond on the ground. He had been in enough fist fights with Dudley and his Gang but he never fought back, he really didn't like it anyway. His wand was on the floor a couple of steps to the left, he ran for it, picked it up and stunned the two gorillas before they could grab him again. Then he turned to the blond who was showing an evil snare.

Harry felt physically sick and was about to curse the blond bully when a voice as angry as Harry felt, made him turn towards the stairs.

"WHAT, IN THE NAME OF MERLIN, DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?" McGonagall asked imperious, descending the stairs. All the remaining spectators ran away at once, Harry´s broom clattered on the floor behind him as the boy who had held it also removed himself from the hall. Only the three Gryffindor morons, the young cursed Slytherin boy and the dark haired Slytherin girl remained as well as Harry and Malfoy, who was still on the ground unmoving.

Harry knew that the professor would take care of the three blonds, who looked very eager to leave. The only thing that had stopped them from running, after they heard the professor was the dark-haired girl and Harry pointing their wands at them, so he ran to place where Malfoy was laying still as dead and removed the shield charm.

"Malfoy? Shit, shit, shit. Malfoy." He nudged the Slytherin´s arm and hated himself about not knowing anything about healing charms.

Professor McGonagall had found out what had happened from the Slytherin girl and was now handing out punishments. The Gryffindors including Harry got detention and 70 points taken from each of them, which made Gryffindor's points be less than zero. But Harry didn't care, he slapped the blond Slytherin lightly but Malfoy didn't budge.

"Draco, shit, don't die." He mumbled, his fingers shaking with fear. Harry got up, wand still in his hand eyes fiery and stepped in Karl's direction – as that was how apparently the main blond git was called.

"You! What did you do to Malfoy?" Harry pointed the wand at the blond's ribcage, his eyes spouting sparks and his magic danced around him, and prayed that Karl would do something that would justify the curse on his tongue.

"Mr Potter! Put your wand away at once!" McGonagall was enraged. To be fair it was only the first day of school.

"After he answers!" Harry was boiling with fury and any punishment, at that moment, seemed far and insignificant.

"Calm down, Potter, your dear snake is only paralysed," Karl spat and earned another furious stare from professor McGonagall.

Harry put away his wand, went over to Malfoy and picked the slim Slytherin up. Then he started walking in the direction of the hospital wing, carefully cradling Malfoy in his arms, ignoring the looks he got.

"You, with the cursed arm, should come to the hospital wing as well," he told the small Slytherin boy, which looked terrified of not only Karl and his but also Harry and McGonagall, despite that he clenched his arm tighter and followed Harry.

 

Chapter Text

By the time, Harry had reached the doors of the hospital wing, he had already regretted not asking McGonagall to levitate Malfoy multiple times. His arms were hurting in addition to his stomach and head.

He kicked the door open and tried to put Malfoy gently down onto the closest bed. Because of his sore arms, it didn't go quite as planned and the blond almost fell off the bed. Luckily Harry caught him in time and placed him on the bed properly.

"Mr Potter! What is the meaning of this?" Madam Pomfrey had run out of her office at the sound of the not-so-gentle opening of the doors.

Then she noticed Malfoy and motioned Harry to sit on the other bed.

"What happened to him?"

Harry told her and Madam Pomfrey relaxed as she had heard about that curse before and hurried to get the counter potion. She returned and poured a little of the potion into Malfoy's mouth all the while talking to Malfoy as if he could hear her.

He immediately got up in a sitting position and gasped as he slung his arms around his body. His expression was one of hurt and disgust, his eyes wide and looking straight ahead.

"Mr Malfoy, do you hear me?"

He moved further away from her and pulled his legs onto his body hugging them with his arms.

"I hear you loud and clear, Madam Pomfrey – don't touch me… please." His voice was tense and his eyes fixed on something out the window. He was sitting completely still, even his chest barely moved.

"Of course. Stay calm, the potion takes a while to remove all the symptoms. The curse put on you was a nasty one, it paralysed you but made everything feel much more intense."

"I got that part, yes." His voice was bitter and angry, he could precisely determine the places where bruises will make their appearance. He avoided looking at Potter who had meant well but hurt him nonetheless. Malfoy could still feel his hands all over him and his arms hurt where he had poked him. His cheek numb from where Harry had slapped him.

“It’s a street curse, used to make the person unable to defend himself and makes every offence feel much worse.”

"Madam Pomfrey, you should attend to him now," Harry said pointing at the first-year. The silent Slytherin still gripped his arm and stared at Malfoy and Harry with fear. Madam Pomfrey turned around and started to care for the kid.

Harry turned to Malfoy who was still sitting like a statue and pointedly not looking at him.

"I didn't mean to hurt you. I am sorry,” Harry said looking at his bruised knuckles, “I should have gotten Madam Pomfrey sooner, I didn't know." He felt guilty for leaving Malfoy unattended to for as long as he did.

"I know. It's fine." Malfoy's voice was still bitter, but not as angry anymore. He glanced at Potter but ended up staring.

"Do I look that bad?" Harry asked only half-joking, his face hurt when he spoke. "I should say – you should have seen the other three."

"Ha-ha. You're stupid."

Potter looked like shit, his lips and forehead bleeding, hands bruised from hitting the other three and his hair messier than ever. In addition, the skin around one of his eyes was turning black and started swelling.

"Mean! Mr, you're rude again."

"Who goes to fight one against three? Besides you almost dropped me off the bed so you deserve everything you get."

The impossibility of Potters idiocy was behind Malfoy’s comprehension. The Slytherins probably would have handled the Gryffindor prat even if the golden boy wouldn’t have intervened.

"I had hoped that somebody would help me, but no-o people were there just for the drama. And I already said – I am sorry," Harry mumbled looking sheepishly at his shoes.

"Yeaa-h, I heard you, it's just pleasant to hear you say that again and again, besides I'm going to have bruises where you poked me."

Also, his back and legs were hurting from where he had fallen from the curse’s force, he had laid there unable to move, only surrounded by his own hurt. He had tried to concentrate on whatever he heard and so had somehow avoided going insane from the helplessness.

"What? I barely touched you!"

"Felt like you were trying to carve your fingertips in my bones."

He shivered, even now everything still felt much more intense. His clothes were rubbing against his skin like sandpaper, even his own touch was like several stinging hexes, every breath was a struggle and the beddings felt like they were stabbing and slicing him slightly every time he moved.

"I'm sorry."

When Malfoy looked at him, Harry looked so miserable that the Slytherin decided to stop guilt-tripping him. For now.

"It's fine. Cut it."

He wanted to be left alone so he could fidget in peace and be angry at everything that touched him. He wanted to scratch his skin off and was only somehow keeping it together because the golden boy was watching him with a serious face.

Madam Pomfrey approached them again.

"Mr Malfoy, you will be staying overnight so get comfortable. Mr Potter be still, I will check for broken bones."

Both did as were told.

"Have you been sleeping well, Mr Potter?"

He only shrugged as 'sleeping well' was a relative term these days.

"I see… you will stay overnight as well."

Harry sighed, of course, he is back at the hospital wing on the second night. After healing Luke’s (the young Slytherin) broken arm and wishing him a pleasant night, Madam Pomfrey gave all of them some chocolate and left instructing them to take the dreamless-sleep potion before she comes to check on them later.

"I think it's a new record even for you, Potter," Malfoy said, trying to distract himself from his hurting skin.

"What?"

"The soonest you have gone to the hospital wing." He explained irritably.

"Oh, yeah, might be."

Harry felt absolutely devastated, so he got rid of his clothes and tried to make himself comfortable under the sheets. His face and knuckles stung as Madam Pomfrey didn’t heal fistfight wounds, he had washed off the blood and nothing seemed to be bleeding for now.

Malfoy also took his clothes off, just relocating them with a spell. When Harry had already put his head on his pillow he glanced at the blond and gasped in terror getting half up again.

“What... no, no. Merlin, are those..." Harry´s face paled significantly. His skin now nearly as white as his pillow.

Malfoy, who was examining his bed with a faint hope to find some way to make it less unpleasant to be in, looked up.

"From the time you were a reckless jackass? Yes, yes they are. Messing up my otherwise flawless body since 1997," he said putting his hands on his hips and it would have made Harry blush like crazy if he wouldn't have been so caught up in the terror of what he had done.

"I... I wouldn´t… I didn´t know… I didn't mean to. I didn't know what the spell did." Harry was in a sitting position, his hands twisting the sheets, eyes tracing Malfoy's scars. They were faint lines on his chest, well healed, but Harry could only think about them wide open, blood everywhere.

"You're a reckless idiot, it's fine, at least I will be prepared the next time."

"There will be no next time. I'm sorry, Malfoy, I am so sorry."

"Stop apologising, you poor excuse of a . I am well and alive, my wit undamaged and I´m still stunning so it's fine." He thought about it for a moment and said something else but too quiet for Harry to hear.

"Sorry,” Harry said shaking out of his contemplations, “I didn't catch that last bit."

Malfoy sighed.

"I said – I did act like a git, so I see why you cursed me. I was about to use an unforgivable on you." He didn’t like to think about past too cringe-worthy things. Even some of the retorts he at the time found very amusing. He shrivelled every time remembering, ‘training for ballet?’ …I mean really? That was the best I could come up with? – Pathetic.

"It was idiotic of me to use an unknown spell," Harry said falling back in his pillow.

"Yes, it was." Malfoy laid down as well.

"Thank you for stepping in when he punched me," Harry said his voice already slightly sleepy.

"Yeah, a lot of good that did." Slytherin felt quite stupid for his heroic, pompous act ending this disappointingly.

"Well, it proved that you're not thoroughly a rotten git."

"Should I take that as a compliment?!"

"Dunno…" Harry closed his eyes for a minute.

Malfoy thought for a bit, but when he looked at the other boy again, his eyes were closed, mouth slightly open and he was breathing peacefully.

"Goodnight to you too." Malfoy downed the potion and fell into a blissful sleep forgetting all about how his skin felt like a thousand ants were nibbling on it.

<….>

Harry was woken by a jolt when somebody took him by his shoulder. He opened his eyes, searched for his wand in the dark and swatted at the unknown attacker.

“For Merlin’s sake, Potter, calm down, you will wake the whole castle!”

Harry put his glasses on and made out Malfoy standing mostly naked in the dark at his bedside, an annoyed expression on his face.

“What’s happenin’?” he muttered gripping his wand, ready to kick whatever monster had got into the castle. “Is it the ?”

“What giants, Potter? Are you daft?” Malfoy asked not amused only because a minute ago Potter had screamed and trashed around in his bed like possessed.

The scream had ripped Malfoy out of his dreamless sleep and with a thought of Death Eaters attacking he had leapt out of his bed. Instantly his wand in his hand and a curse on his lips, when he understood what was happening instead, the alertness had turned into annoyance in a second.

“What? No. Malfoy? Wait, what the fuck is happening?” Harry was looking franticly around with his wand in his hand, trying to find the danger in the darkness.

“Nothing, Potter! Everything is fine. You had a nightmare.”

Harry focused on the faint contour of Malfoys face.

“Oh…” he unsurely lowered his wand and ran his hand through his hair.

“Yeah.” Looked like Potter was finally coming to his senses.

“I’m sorry I that I woke you. You can have my potion if you want.” Harry put his wand on the bedside table, trying not to remember all the accusing faces from his dream.

“So you can wake me again? No, thank you.”

“I won’t be sleeping anymore tonight. So it’s fine, you can take it.”

“And what kind of tosh idea is that? It’s 4 in the morning, moron.”

Harry looked at him annoyed.

“Fine then, if you call me a moron, I won´t give you the stupid potion.” He took the vial, opening the lid and drank half of it, then holding the rest for Malfoy to take while sinking down on his pillow already drowsy.

“You’re so weird,” Malfoy stated confused. He felt tired and his skin was still sensitive, so he shook his head, took the half-empty flask and got back into his bed. Potter was watching him, his eyes glinting in the pale light of stars.

“Cheers, moron,” Draco said before downing the potion.

“Prat.” Harry shifted and put his hand beneath his head trying to fall asleep. Trying not to think about how attractive the Slytherin prat was in the faint starlight and about the scars he had caused.

“Don’t wake me up again or I will put a muting spell on you.”

“Goodnight.” He closed his eyes hoping the potion will relieve him of his thoughts.

Chapter Text

“Don’t wake me up again or I will put a muting spell on you.”

“Goodnight.” He closed his eyes hoping the potion will relieve him of his thoughts.

***

It did until Malfoy woke Harry up again by poking his face.

 “What now?” he said wanting nothing more than to stay in bed and sleep until he would feel somewhat better.

“It’s morning. Rise and shine,” Malfoy said sounding more like a drowsy thundercloud.

Harry grunted and rubbed his face, trying to make himself feel more awake. No luck there, he only made his bruises hurt more.

Malfoy was already clothed while the other boy hadn’t even got out of the bed. So the blond took his pillow and punched the unsuspecting Gryffindor in the gut. Surprised Potter sat up immediately and grabbed for his wand.

Malfoy laughed at the other’s expression of horror while Harry narrowed his eyes and mulled over the idea of cursing the annoying git now grinning on his bed in the morning’s sunshine. Harry noticed that his hair was messy and spiked from sleeping in one positon, suddenly he felt very hot and decided to get dressed.

“You know your hair looks horrendous right?”

“It’s just my normal hair.” Harry ran an uncertain hand through his black hair.

“That’s exactly my point.” Malfoy grinned an unpleasant grin and Harry looked down, he liked better the smile he had seen for a second yesterday, but he guessed Malfoys didn’t show people all of their secrets in one night.

Okay then, baby steps.

“You’re the one to talk,” he said still not properly gotten over the fact that he was out of bed. That made Slytherin brush his hand through his hair self-consciously. Then Malfoy retorted about how they would be late for their first lesson if Harry didn’t hurry up his Gryffindor arse and they left the hospital wing.

In the whirlwind of lessons, Quidditch practices and doing homework under the all-seeing eyes of Hermione the first month of school passed in a blink. Harry endured the detention witch merrily was not in a close proximity of the other three Gryffindors who held together like once certain Slytherins. But Harry was much more repulsed by them because they were from his own house and he felt like he was responsible for them somehow.

When he had entered the Common room of eight years that morning he was assaulted by Hermione and Ron, who were demanding an explanation to where he had disappeared yesterday and why there were rumors about him attacking Karl and his friends and ending up in the hospital wing. Harry irritated because they were wasting the limited time he had for breakfast, told them the bones of the story.

Since the first encounter Karl and his two sidekicks – Bob and Henk – had always lurked not far from Harry eager for a rematch, Harry ignored them as long as they were leaving others at peace, witch they seemed to be doing after the shouting they had gotten from McGonagall.

To Harry’s surprise he also had gotten a reprimand from McGonagall for ‘not attending the matter maturely as grownups would’ Harry had barely kept his temper under control as he thought about how he had never had the chance to be immature, he had to either chase an evil maniac or run from him or dementors or his own cousin. He bit down whatever had wanted to come out of his mouth and left the Headmistress’s office without a word, feeling hurt and angry at the world.

When the work-load allowed he, much to his friends surprise and horror, often went out to fly with Malfoy to relieve the stress and sometimes his flaring temper. He had got the first glimpse from under the mask Slytherin had worn all these years and now he was intrigued to see more, not completely sure why. Not to mention his friends thought he was nuts when he once mentioned that Malfoy was not such an arse anymore, to them he only seemed less attacking but still as much a royal prick as before. Perhaps it was because they couldn’t always tell when Malfoy was meaning his insults and when he was joking, Harry in contrary and to his own surprise found himself more and more comfortable around the blond, who didn’t subside on the insults but now for the most part out of habit not hatred towards the other, at least that was what Harry hoped cause he had grown to like this side of Malfoy.

Also he kept breaking up bullying and fights around the school not seeing the change it stirred, when Hermione noticed some other people start to regard the inter-house bickering as immoral, she wanted to throw a party in honor of him – the great uniter of school – he only looked at her bewildered not seeing how anything of that was his merit.

First Malfoy had laughed as tickled when Harry had mentioned his surprise that she thought he had such power, but then realizing that Potter’s surprise was genuine he looked like realizing something.

“You really do hate the fame don’t you, Potter?” he said walking back from flying on a rainy Saturday.

“Voldemort killed off my parents and couldn’t kill me, who would want to be famous for that?” he bit at the stupid question.

“Do you honestly think that it’s the only thing you’re known for?”

“Well…” he trailed off embarrassed.

“Stop being daft Potter, we both know you’ve got a bit more than you show under your unkempt hair.”

“Leave my hair alone you hellion.”

“Potter, you faced the evilest bastard in this century every year since you were eleven and in the end killed him off.”

“Not every year! And I didn’t kill him off. And it wasn’t me alone! I would have never done it alone. Stop writing everything on me, Malfoy!”

“Why are you being so ridiculous, golden boy? You can’t deny saving everyone…”

“I didn’t save everyone, Malfoy!” not wanting to cause a scene he left the common room that they just entered and fled to his room to calm down and get his mind off of the faces he saw every time he blinked.

Even people who survived, but lost something, George’s ear, Teddy losing his parents, Andromeda her daughter. All those people who had laid there in the great hall at the end of the battle. If only Harry could have been faster, better, more powerful. He sighed and bit his inner lip, no beating myself up about things I can’t change.

He indulged in a book about Quidditch until his roommates came up to get ready for bed, he closed the book and took off his shirt to go to sleep too.

“Potter!” a loud banging on the door and the unmistakable voice of Malfoy made Neville jump and before Malfoy would make any more trouble Harry went to open the door.

“What?” he sneered at Malfoy, who was irritated without end that in his poor attempts to not offend Potter he had done just that. Now he had written a piece of poetry and shoved the paper in the shirtless git’s face.

“What’s that?” he took the paper and read the first lines. “What the fuck, Malfoy?”

“I lost the bet, remember?” he flushed realizing what this all looked like – Potter shirtless and him with a piece of inappropriate poetry. Then he flushed even harder when his eyes ran up and down the muscled body of the Gryffindor.

“Oh, right.” Harry calmed as the poem was highly not to his taste.

“Let’s go give it to McGonagall.”

“Fine.” He still was pissed at Malfoy for being an insensitive prick, but this promised to be good. He stepped outside and was closing the door when it occurred to him that he was half naked, he turned red and stepped in to the room again. “Wait…”

He walked to his bed and got a t-shirt remembering again that he needed to go shopping as he had about two t-shirts and one pants since he had destroyed his cupboard.

“Harry? Where are you going?” Ron looked at him from his bed.

“Out. I won’t be long.”

“Well, goodnight then.”

“Goodnight, Ron.”

He left the room and followed the Slytherin to the professor’s rooms. When they turned around corner they saw McGonagall about to retreat for the night.

“Professor! Excuse me, I have something to give you.”

He approached the confused woman and gave her the paper, then looked back at Harry who was trying to hide a smile as the professor read the poem.

“Mr Malfoy, this is highly inappropriate. Please find yourself a girlfriend or a boyfriend or whatever and leave me at peace.” Only her decades of student mischief were keeping her calm exterior in order.

“But professor…”  Malfoy trailed off and Harry wasn’t sure he wanted to know what implications were behind that.

“Fine then Draco, I had no idea you felt that way, would you like some tee?” She said in a teasing tone and opening the doors to her apartment.

Malfoy’s face changed from a sly grin to surprised and slightly horrified.

“What? I mean…” he muttered unsure and gobsmacked that the joke had gone so wrong.

“Thank you, professor, but young Malfoy is merely paying for losing a debt.” Harry stepped forward.

“I gathered as much, Potter. Goodnight,” she said sternly, leaving Malfoy transfixed and Harry barely holding in laughter.

“Okay, that was brilliant.” Harry said bursting out laughing.

“You feeling funny in your head? I almost got a heart attack.” But Malfoy wasn’t really that upset because Harry was laughing which didn’t happen that often, he could actually count all the times in the past month – six – trice with him and other three when he was with his friends. And Malfoy absolutely had not been watching him.

 “Shut up,” he said still laughing at the other’s face.

Malfoy still pretending to be not amused shoved the other in the wall.

“Hei!”

“Okay, okay, calm down, scar-head,” Malfoy said avoiding a push from the Gryffindor.

“Whatever, Malfoy.”

“What did you get mad about anyways?” Malfoy asked cautiously not wanting to madden Potter again.

“I didn’t save everyone, Malfoy. All the people who died…”

“That was the Dark Lord’s fault. Not yours, Potter, without you we would all probably be dead.”

“I could have done more.”

Bullcrap. Not to mention, you saved me. That’s got to count for something.”

“I did what anyone would.”

“You think that? Honestly? Saving a seven year rival, who had tormented you and your friends since you met him, from a painful death in a magical fire? I don’t think so.”

“And a Death Eater, don’t forget that.”

“AND a Death Eater. Do you see how that’s not common behavior?”

“I guess… Ron too thought I was ridiculous, he still sometimes mentions that.”

They strolled through the empty halls, Malfoy looked like he was trying to say something and not quite finding the words.

“What is it, Malfoy?”

“Nothing. Well, okay. I never thanked you.”

“You don’t’ need to, it’s fine.”

“And still, I don’t like debts. Thank you. Not that I deserved – or deserve now for that matter – to live, but thank you for saving me.”

“What are you talking about? Of course you deserve -”

“Don’t, Potter. I am well aware of what kind of shit I am.”

“You made some bad mistakes, that’s true. But you can make them right again by living better than you did.”

“Everyone hates me, or is afraid of me. And despite my devilish looks, I’m nothing worth living.”

“What kind of tosh is that?” Harry felt a black hole inside of him when he heard the Slytherin talk like that. Over the last month he had occasionally spat out similar phrases but Harry had ignored them not quite sure what to make of them.

“That’s true and if I wasn’t as selfish as I am I would relieve everyone by removing myself from this life.”

Malfoy suddenly sounded so broken and sad, his arrogant Malfoy mask gone, Harry wanted nothing more than to comfort the other. No to mention how human Malfoy looked, to Harry it was unsettling, but thrilling.

“That’s nonsense, not everyone hates you.”

Malfoy felt annoyed, why would Potter make fun of him like that when he was opening up.

“Name one person!”

“Harry Potter! I most certainly do not hate you, Draco Malfoy.” He wasn’t sure since when it was true, but it was what it was.

“You’re the only one then.” He calmed, but he was Harry Potter, the golden boy, he didn’t hate anyone.

“What about your mother? And your Slytherin friends?”

“Oh, mother, yes, though I expect she would be better off without me too.” How stupid was to forget his mother, but she was far and they only wrote to one another once a week or so. “But not Slytherins, we were never really friends, just put together because of our blood or parents.”

“Ah, that’s sad, but explains why you’re so bad at making friends, and not being a royal arse.” Harry felt kind of panicked because he never thought that Malfoy had such deep hatred for himself, him being so arrogant all the time.

Malfoy didn’t reply he was standing a step away from Harry and looking out the window seemed like bracing himself for something.

“What’s wrong?” Harry took a half-step in his direction.

“I’m sorry, I just for a minute forgot who you are. Everything is perfect.” And when he said the last sentence, the mask was back on. Harry taken aback from this sudden change just gaped as the Slytherin gave him a grin and started in their common room’s direction.

“How do you do that? Never mind. Don’t do that!”

“Do what Potter? Be so handsome? Sorry, can’t help it.” Even his voice was cold and emotion-less.

“No, don’t shut me out. Okay, call me Hufflepuff all you want, but I want to be friends…”did he really? He certainly didn’t mind spending time with Malfoy, might as well be friends. “…okay? I know we have been rivals, but I enjoy spending time with you.”

More than I care to admit. He sometimes wasn’t sure Malfoy liked him at all. But now he felt sinking helplessness and slight anger that he hadn’t asked to be proper friends earlier.

Malfoy was struggling to keep his appearance, Potters words rang in his ears.

“…I guess, if you don’t like spending time with me, you can just…”

Potter was still babbling about, and seemed less and less sure about himself. Oh right, I have to say something, Malfoy had been just staring at the Gryffindor stunned, he had no idea that Potter actually spend time with him because he enjoyed it, he had thought it was some kind of charity thing, or something to make others be civil with Slytherins so he just went along with it trying to not relay on Potter too much.

“…well, I guess, I will just go then…” Harry had talked till his breath ended. Twice. But Malfoy just stood there watching him, and Harry had started to feel more and more stupid.

“Potter.” Finally Malfoy’s thoughts could connect to say something, he wasn’t sure what was his point was yet.

“Ye-es.” He turned on his heel back to Malfoy.

“I well, I –” he bit his tongue, no self-respecting Malfoy stumbled this much, he let out a breath to calm himself and tried again.

“I don’t mind your company if you must know.”

More like – you’re my only ‘friend’ and I don’t even deserve you but I’m too selfish to stop hanging out with you – but he was never saying that to Potter. Ever.

“That’s nice to hear.” Harry smiled relived, because for a moment there he had felt very unsure about their friendship.

“But I do mind you walking about looking like a bird’s nest.”

“For MERLIN’S sake, Malfoy! Leave my hair alone. It’s not yours. It’s mine! Stop.” He pulled his hair in frustration as Malfoy had been picking on his hair unrestingly for the last month.

At Harry’s outburst Malfoy couldn’t help himself and started laughing.

Harry glanced at the Slytherin and was surprised again that the blond looked so beautiful when not sneering. Wait, no, he is my rival and I hate him. Only we are friends now. And he didn’t hate him. No, not anymore, not sure ever really.

They got back to the common room and went to sleep not even remembering the gigantic pile of homework that was waiting for them in the morning.

Chapter Text

A murky Sunday came and Harry woke from yet another nightmare. He had seen Elizabeth standing in a misty field – crying and then turning to him for help, but before he could reach her a snake erupted from her face, her accusing eyes never leaving Harry’s. Then it changed and another one of his friends was crippled and he was blamed because he was always too slow or too far to help.

He clenched a fist on his chest reminding himself how most of them were well and alive and those who weren’t were beyond his help. He was really getting tired of… everything. All day he busied himself to distract his mind, but at night his nightmares took the time he refused them while awake. It was exhausting to keep himself in one piece. Some days it was easier, some days harder, but it never stopped. And he grew more and more tired by day.

Still he kept going, for those who died, those who lived and himself.

His roommates were sleeping soundly while he got some clothes on and left. The castle was dim and gloomy, Harry’s hands were freezing by the time he reached the Owlery. Lucifer was sitting on a window sill high above but when he saw Harry he fell in his direction like a bullet. He had grown in the last month but still was active and excited for any letter.

Harry gave him a piece of owl treat and tied a letter for Andromeda to the owl’s leg. They went outside and Harry looked in the owls yellow eyes.

“Have a safe trip, okay?” Lucifer looked at him like it was a self-evident thing and nibbled on Harry’s nose before taking off with a theatrical dive.

Harry smiled and watched as the black owl got smaller and disappeared in to the gloomy sky. He felt a little better thinking about his godson and hoped Andromeda would be okay with him coming over the next weekend.

He reached the portrait-hole secured with the painting of a knight who always sounded vaguely cross and wheezy under his helmet. This morning however the helmet was off and Harry was surprised to see not a senile and grim man but a girl about 16, she was braiding her hair and humming quietly.

“Wow, you’re a girl!” he said looking at her wide-eyed.

“Ahh!” she exclaimed and dropped her comb. “Hello. I mean, password! I mean, oh, no, uhh…” she seemed distraught and annoyed. “Well, yes, I am.” She stuck her nose in the air proudly. “’ve got a problem with that, Mr?”

“No. Sorry, I didn’t mean to trouble you.”

“You didn’t.”

“Well, Justice league, then.”

“Correct.” She said but didn’t open the entrance.

“Is there a problem?”

“Can you not tell anyone?”

“About you being a girl? Why?”

“Because, uhh… because nobody takes girls seriously.” She talked fast and didn’t look at Harry only fiddled with her helmet’s feathers.

“Sure, if that’s what you want. But I would take you seriously even if you didn’t pretend to be grumpy, old knight.”

“Yeah?”

“For sure, you seem cool.”

“Oh.” She looked at Harry appraisingly. “What’s your name?”

“Harry. And yours?”

“Artemis. Wait… Harry Potter?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh!”

“What is it?” her reaction seemed suspicious, like she had heard something about him before and it didn’t fit the facts.

“Nothing, well, something. I had heard, from an anonymous sources that you are an obnoxious, supercilious ass with a hero complex, but… you seem rather nice.”

“That’s a nice source you’ve got there.” Harry puffed.

“Heii! Me – always stuck here to let people in and out never given a second thought – I don’t complain when somebody bothers to talk to me more than the password. Even if it is to complain about their classmate.”

“Right, sorry.”

“Yeah.” She nodded and looked down on her armour. “You know, you’re right, and I’m tired of this armour anyway, always catching my hair on the hinges.” She said ripping off the metallic glove, then the other one and then every piece that came off. She wasn’t discrete and just threw everything out of her painting to the right. Finally free she straightened and stretched her arms.

“I do feel much better.”

“Nice, well if anyone gives you trouble feel free to tell me and I will kick their face in.”

She laughed, but shook her head.

“I doubt that will be necessary.” The next second her eyes turned black and the painting became significantly darker, her voice turned to rattling thunder and her movements became eerie. She looked like a demon queen with her shadow cloak, her dark skin beaming and eyes sparkling from black to white fire. The background seemed to become cloaked in mist, wind lashed against Artemis’ clothes and picked up a couple of dry leaves from the autumny forest drawn behind her.

Surprised Harry took a step back.

“Wow, that’s awesome!” he said slightly disturbed but also impressed.

“Ha–haha. I know right? My last girlfriend, didn’t think so though.” In a second she was back to looking peaceful and lovely with her hair braided all neatly.

“She needs to sort her priorities out!”

“I know! But I’m over mermaids anyway.”

Harry laughed, it was weird, he never thought about portraits much and usually they too minded their own business, but now he found out they had their own lives.

“Okay, I won’t hold you here any longer, have a nice day, Harry.”

“You too, Artemis.”

He closed the painting behind him and stepped in to the common room, it was clean and peaceful only fire cracking in the grate. He went to sit by the fire when he noticed that Hermione was already there sitting curled up with a book.

“Oh, hi, Harry.”

“Hi, Hermione.”

He slouched down in a chair next to her and looked at the fire. She didn’t ask him where he had been instead she watched him with a worried look.

“Stop that.”

“I’m not doing anything.” Harry looked at her with a stern look and she puffed. “Well, okay, then, I’m worried about you, is that a crime nowadays?”

“No.”

“You don’t talk to me and Ron, you barely spend time with us, he is worried too you know.”

“It’s not like you need me, I seem to interrupt you two if anything.” He tried not to not get angry, but it stung a bit.

“Oh, Harry, it’s not like that. I’m sorry.” She winced because in her newly formed relationship with Ron she might have neglected Harry more than she should have.

“It’s fine, I understand.” He smiled, he was hurt that they didn’t hang out with him as much but also he really did understand. Besides sometimes he just didn’t feel like hanging with people at all.

“Well, we should do some homework, I’m sure Ron will be up soon. We can just start.” She fussed falling back in to bossing the boy around.

“I guess we have to don’t we?” he sighed and Accio-ed his bag.

“The Herbology essay first?”

“Okay.”

They immersed in homework, about an hour later Ron came down and escaped also being put to homework only because it was breakfast time. They went and ate hurriedly as Hermione had promised to curse their asses off if they slacked before finishing all the work they didn’t do when they should have.

Harry had just finished the essay for professor Sprout, when Malfoy entered the common room.

“Hei, Malfoy, do you want to come study with us?” he called over the mostly empty room.

Hermione hissed at him with a frown.

“Harry, what are you doing?”

“What? I thought you forgave him.” He hissed back.

“I just… I did, well, kinda, I did for what he did to me, we were kids, but he did try to poison Ron,” she said angrily.

“Well, technically it was an accident.” Harry didn’t understand what was going on.

“Yes, his goal – was to kill Dumbledore!” she exclaimed in a hushed voice.

“My father had ordered me to do it, and I didn’t have a lot of choices as my mother was under one roof with him and the Dark Lord.”

“Oh!” she startled as she hadn’t noticed that the Slytherin had approached them.

Harry looked up from couch and motioned to Malfoy to sit, trying not to appear too eager, if Malfoy sensed how desperate Harry was there was no chance he would help him without praising himself to the sky.

“Will you be doing your potion essay?”

“I might be.” He didn’t seem so keen on studying with the Gryffindors.

Harry sighed and put aside his attempts not to feed Malfoy’s ego.

“I need help with the Potion homework but Hermione already finished it, so maybe, you would be so charitable and help me?” he made his best pleading face and hoped Malfoy wasn’t too offended by Hermione.

“You’re not afraid I will poison your ears with my dark Slytherin words?” he was angry with himself that he had done all those ill considerate things, but what’s done, done and he was done apologizing. They could hate him or not, but he was who he was, no apologizing for that. He was different now and if they didn’t want to see that, their loss.

“Don’t be stupid.”

“Okay then, I will help you, as you truly are an imbecile in potions and I am known for helping those evidently much less gifted than me.”

“I would say for you to shut it, but I’m in terrific need to get a good grade so I will say please shut it.”

Malfoy smirked and sat down Accio-ing his bag from his room. It flying through the narrow corridor summoned a couple of frightened voices and a curse that made Hermione jump to her feet and tell the rude-arse off. Malfoy merely smiled a smug smile and opened his bag.

“So, firstly, did you write down the task correctly? – No? Well, to be completely honest, I’m not surprised.”

Ron returned from the loo and almost fell over when in his place he saw sitting Malfoy.

“Uh, Ron, sorry, you can sit in the chair beside Hermione can’t you?”

“I sure can, mate, if I don’t get cursed right down to the hospital wing.” He said eying the blond angrily.

“Ron, came off it, he is helping Harry with the potions.”

“Why can’t I just fight with whoever I want? Hermione. He is a war criminal.”

“Ron! Shut up. He didn’t identify me to Bellatrix did he? And think about what you would have done if your mother would be held hostage by the Dark Lord. Okay?” Harry cut in.

“No, Potter, he is right, I am one bad, bad Death Eater, he should kill me right here. That would, for sure, make him a better human.”

Ron looked at him confused. “I wouldn’t do that.”

“And why is that? I mean I did hate you, and I was on the wrong side.”

“Because it’s not right.” And saying that he somewhat calmed. It was obvious he still disliked the Slytherin but he didn’t look ready to curse him on the spot anymore.

“Yes! Congratulations! It’s not, Weasley. Can we, please, ignore each other now? I will get a headache arguing with a – a person… like you.” he had in mid-sentence looked at Harry who was watching him sternly. When the blond ended the sentence without a real insult Harry smiled slightly and turned over to Ron.

“Please, don’t fight. Okay? We can duel later.” That idea came to him suddenly and escaped his mouth before he could properly think about it.

“That’s a wonderful idea, Harry.” Ron said with a malicious anticipation for when they finish their homework. He sat down and pushed his chair closer to Hermione’s so she could help him easier.

By the lunch time they had all finished their most pressing assignments. Ron practically ran to the Great Hall frightened to be put to more work. Hermione hurried after him saying things like ‘I know you will regret it later’ and ‘I will not give you any of my notes!’ at that though Ron had stopped and swept her off her feet with a kiss, Hermione flushed and murmured something about responsibility and future.

Harry couldn’t help but smile watching his two best friends so happy.

“Wow! I want to bleach my eyes.” Malfoy glanced at the couple again. “Right now.

“Leave them alone.” Harry smiled watching them run down the corridor hand in hand.

“Phh,” Draco hissed in pure disgust. “If they make babies I hope I never have to meet them.”

“Really?” Harry crooked an eyebrow at the other. “You wouldn’t like a young redhead running around reciting random facts and setting everything on fire thanks to their uncles – Fred and George? You are intimidated by a little baby making? Only imagine – Granger-Weasley – the ultimate horror of McGonagall.”

Slytherin looked at the other incredulously, “are you absolutely out of your mind, Potter? Never, never have I ever in my life thought of something so revolting. Please, shut up or my mind will go to dark places that I do not wish to visit.”

“Maybe a little fun is what you need Malfoy, always so collected… I wonder if you even had a proper childhood.”

“My childhood was… fine.” He said remembering the discipline his father had made him pick up soon after he started walking. “Not bad…” remembered a couple more things, “it could have been worse.”

“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. Just I was kind of starved and used as a house elf. So if you want to share experiences…” he trailed off unsure if he was being too nosy.

“You were what, Potter?” he stopped in his tracks completely taken aback by the other’s statement.

Harry looked back at him, “yeah, by my aunt and uncle.” Malfoy motioned for more detail and Harry sighed. “I had to do all the cleaning, cooking and other chores if Petunia didn’t think I would mess something up with my disgusting wizard hands. It was fine as long as I didn’t do magic or talk back. I didn’t have friends till coming here actually. That’s one of the reasons I started disliking you – you started bothering them right away.” He blabbered hoping he didn’t sound whiny.

Malfoy listened as Potter talked about his childhood in an unemotional voice, just stating facts. In the previous years he had never heard a single rumour about this. About Potter living with muggles – yes, them being not a bunch of Golden boy’s admirers – no.

“Made me sleep in the cupboard under the stairs too. And Dudley used to like to practice his punches on me.” Harry recalled, now it seemed long ago. “They locked up Hedwig too.” At that he frowned and clenched his hands.

Malfoy raised his eyebrows “Really? Are you that holy? Not angry about what they did to you, but to – whatever Hedwig is?”

“For your information, Hedwig is… was my owl.” He bit his tongue.

“Oh… Cruel.”

“You’re the one to talk – you almost killed Buckbeak in our third year!”

“I was young and dumb!”

“Aha! You admitted! I knew it.”

“Shut up, scar head.” He started walking down the corridor again.

Harry followed him looking out the window.

“My father used Imperius on me, for discipline.” Malfoy said his voice cold as ice.

Harry’s eyes darted to Malfoy. “Ah,” he said, not being able to get out of the surprise right away.

“At least my mother was there for me. You were alone,” Draco stated.

Harry was boiling with the rage of the unfairness of the world. Children were supposed to run around happy and fed. Not – under Imperius. That’s inhumane. And the War, what was up with that? Did any good come out of that? Harry didn’t think so. Only suffering and pain. He let out a breath reminding himself that it was over and the life went on. Last summer was the proof of that.

“Your hair will catch fire from such furious brain-work Potter. What you thinking?”

“Nothing… That I’m glad I wasn’t alone this summer.” He admitted slightly disturbed that he was feeling such compassion for his ex-rival.

“Mhh.” Malfoy puffed, “does having those adorers of yours around really help that much?”

“They are not adorers, Malfoy. But, yes. It does.”

“Whatever.” Why was he talking about this with Potter again? Oh, yes, because they were friends. Hardly. Potter probably only pitied him because he was always alone these days. At that thought Malfoy frowned, he didn’t need pity. That was disgraceful and unhygienic and absolutely un-Malfoy like.

“But to be fair, it did work. Until the sixth year only thing he complained about was my inability to beat you at Quidditch and having slightly worse grades than M… Granger.” And complaining again, what was with him today? “Okay, I’m shutting up. My daddy issues are none of your concern.”

“It’s okay to act like a human once in a while you know. Pretending to be an emotionless rock is probably unhealthy.”

Malfoy snorted at Potter’s choice of words.

“You’re probably right.”

“Of course I am, I always am.”

“Ohh, sure always.”

“Most of the time then.”

Malfoy kept staring at him.

“…Sometimes?”

“Sometimes. When I whisper you the correct answer.”

“That is not true!”

Malfoy only laughed.

They entered the Great hall and split up to sit with their house-mates. Harry sat down and eagerly started eating his lunch. Ron wanting to start the duelling sooner ate hurriedly not talking much, Hermione was busy scolding Dean and Seamus, so Harry was left to his own devices.

While eating apple pie his eyes landed on Malfoy who was reaching for his desert. His face was passive, moves stern, but his hair was dazzling white in the sunlight that shone through the windows. Suddenly their eyes met and Harry, in surprise, missed his mouth and ended up with pie all over his robe, at the exact same moment somebody hit Malfoy’s face with a piece of lemon cake.

It hit him right on the side of his face, furious he swivelled around to find the guilty party, small particles of the cake splashing the surrounding Slytherins.

Immediately he noticed four young Slytherins who were looking at him with horrified faces, one of them hurriedly shoving his wand under the table. Malfoy got up, his face unreadable, cake still stuck to the side of his face, he approached them calmly. They trembled and looked ready to blot if he came any closer, before he could, another cake hit him on the back of his head. He stopped in a half step and whirled around to see a young girl an empty plate in her hand and a fierce grimace on her face.

“They did it on accident. I – on purpose. What will you do?”

Harry recognized the little girl as Elizabeth. What was she doing? Very un-Slytherin like.

Malfoy smirked and took out his wand, pointing it at a cake witch happened to be on the Ravenclaw table. Malfoy was enraged so the nonverbal spell did more than he had anticipated and caused not only that piece of cake flying at her face but all of the deserts from that general area to shoot from their plates in her direction.

And those unlucky Ravenclaws who were in the way of Malfoy’s charmed cakes ended up full-face in desert too.

Elizabeth ducked the first slice and used a shield charm to avoid the rest. Sudden movement to Harrys left made him avert his eyes off of the Slytherin table, but what he saw was confusing.

It was Elizabeth standing up from Gryffindor table.

Harry blinked and looked over to the Slytherins again. Yep, Elizabeth was still there. What the hell??

But before he could do something, forth year Ravenclaws that had suffered the most damage from the flying cakes had stood up and were levitating their own deserts and approaching Malfoy who had casted a shield charm and was now retreating by jumping over the Slytherin table. He alone defected deserts flying in his direction from the Ravenclaws and others who had thought this could be fun. But soon some cake hit also the Hufflepuff and Gryffindor tables who before had mostly watched events in amusement.

In moments the Great Hall was thrown in to complete chaos. Cakes, pies and jelly flying in all directions and students running around, shouting and pie-ing others in face.

Hermione and some others were running out of the hall only protecting their clothes from all the deserts shooting around, but Harry was pretty sure he had seen Hermione cast a nonverbal on a chocolate cake in one Ravenclaw’s face.

Harry got hit by vanilla cream but he retaliated by sending a horde of strawberry muffins right back, missing Ron’s head by inches.

Harry and Ron paired up and became invincible, Malfoy still standing on the Slytherin table and being like a machine-gun for cakes and muffins. He didn’t get hit even once, after the first two times.

The turmoil continued for about five minutes until professor McGonagall stood up and with magically amplified voice shouted,

“Stop this pandemonium at once! Students –” she didn’t get to finish as Flitwick sent a chocolate cake flying right at her face, she deflected it with ease and sent a lemon muffin shooting right back not even blinking.

“As I said this is well and enough! If you wish to avoid punishment put away your wands and proceed out of the hall.”

Students sighed but the mood was exhilarated and cheerful. They fled the Great Hall not wanting to enrage McGonagall more. Most were covered in remains of their deserts, some more chocolate than humans, so everyone went to their common rooms to shower and change.

Harry was beaming with happiness – a fantastic food fight that had been, yes. For a second in the crowd he saw Elizabeth who had magically avoided any desert landing in her black hair. But people were still full of adrenalin, somebody had started singing and in the disorder of it all Harry lost sight of her again.

Deciding to deal with this mystery later he caught up with other eight years who were cheering and fooling around like Harry hadn’t seen them do since before the war.

“We still are going to duel?” Ron bumped in to Harry’s shoulder.

“Sure. I you’re up to it.”

“Oh, I am. I will pulverise that slimy git.”

“Will see, Ron.” Harry laughed.

They showered and in 15 minutes were ready to go duel for real not with just cakes and pies. Excitement still rushing through Harry’s blood, he decided that going through the castle would take too longs so he grabbed his Firebolt and repeated the jumping out of the window from their dormitory. Ron shocked had ran to the window only to see Harry free-fall till the last moment and then laughing fly upwards almost grazing the redhead’s nose.

Ron also didn’t want to stay behind and after a second of hesitation jumped out of the window with a thrilled shout, they together flew down to the lake and sat down under a tree waiting for Malfoy and Hermione.

While Ron’s girlfriend was coming down from the castle and both boys could already tell she was going to have a row about the jumping out the window. There was just that something about her stride and the violent head shaking.

“– we are grown men, Hermione! Honestly seems like you think you’re our mother!” Ron was angry.

“I do NOT think that. I merely think that jumping out of a window is not how ‘grown men’ are supposed to act.”

Harry tried not to attract the angry girl’s attention and hoped Malfoy would show sooner so the pair would have something else to think about. But the blond was nowhere to be seen.

Suddenly Ron and Hermione were kissing again and Harry had no idea how the argument had ended.

Some more people had shown to sit by the lake, but still no blond Slytherin.

Ten minutes later Harry was sick of sitting in the shadow of a tree and listening as the lake’s waves hit the shore. He grabbed his broom and irritated flew in the direction of his window. Somebody had closed it so he Alomohor-ed it and awkwardly climbed in. When he did, something in the room seemed off, he wasn’t quite sure what, but something.

Then the doors to the showers opened and in a cloud of steam Malfoy came out, his hair drizzling with tiny water drops, all Harry could do was stare, as Malfoy only had a towel around his waist. His body was lean, his skin pale and beaming from the hotness of the shower. Oblivious to Gryffindor in the room he started drying his hair with another towel, then the blonde startled Harry by starting to hum quietly. He put a towel around his head in a turban and went back in to the showers.

Harry couldn’t get out of shock, ‘how did I mess up windows that bad??’ he blinked as the Slytherin started singing in the bathroom, not a particular song but more like adoring poems to himself. His voice was beautiful and Harry took a sharp breath in as Malfoy half-jumped, half-danced in to his bedroom again, his dirty clothes in one hand, other holding his towel on his waist in place.

‘What should I wear for a duel?’ Malfoy had just taken a long liberating shower and felt positively wonderful. The incident in the Great Hall, to his surprise, had made his mood even better than it was before. Something about just not caring and throwing cakes around had been – and still was excellent. Something.

He was so happy he hummed and let himself to do a very unlike-Malfoy half-dance, half –jump out of the bathroom. He almost slipped, but turned it in to a cool 180° pirouette. He smiled.

A sharp intake of breath that came from the other side of the room made his smile freeze on his face. Slowly he turned around embarrassed already felling as his face turned in a shade of pink. ‘Who??’

“I’m sorry… I… there was a misstep… well… you could say a mis-fly with the windows –”

“What the hell are you doing here, Potter?” Malfoy put all the venom he could muster in to his words as he was standing half-naked in the middle of his room just preformed a pirouette and a towel around his head. He wanted to hide and cover up but his pride didn’t let him shriek and run like a twelve year old girl, instead he crossed his arms and looked at Potter with the most evil stare he had in his repertory.

“I confused the windows, somehow. I was aiming for my room.” Potter was bright red and didn’t look Malfoy in the eye, his head was turned slightly sideways and stare fixed on some point on the wall.

“Why are you even flying around? I thought we were going to duel.” Malfoy wanted to throw the Gryffindor out.

“Well, yes, but I grew tired of waiting for you so I flew up to find you and make you move faster.”

“Well, you will have to wait until I get dressed.”

“Yea, sure, no problem.” He answered, relived to leave the awkward situation. Harry jumped on the window sill and stepped out.

“What the hell?!” Malfoy ran to the window only to see Potter well and still red flying a circle until settling on a gargoyle above Malfoys window.

Malfoy stepped back not wanting the Gryffindor to see that he had startled and went to put on some clothes. In a record time – two minutes he was ready, his broom in his hand.

He climbed on the window sill and without glancing down jumped out and mounted his broom on the way down. Soon Potter was behind him and they both flew down to the lake.

Harry landed gracefully one step away from Ron.

“Okay! We’re all set! Let’s duel!”

“Sure, in a minute.” Ron was lying down in the grass and seemed sleepy more than ready to ‘pulverise that slimy git’.

Malfoy landed a second after Harry.

“Hei! You! Weasley! Did you get cold feet? Too afraid of the powerful wizard that I am?”

At that Ron seemed to activate.

“Shut up, ferret. Okay, let’s do this.” He got up from where he had laid and stretched his hands above his head.

“Ron! I want to duel with you first.” Hermione also got up taking her wand out.

“But Hermione…”

“No buts, Ronald.”

“Okay, I will first defeat the Golden boy, then the Weasley and then you Granger.”

“You wish!”

“Never in a million years.”

Hermione drew two magical fields so the spells wouldn’t hit other people that were nearby.

“Only spells, to disarm or disable. Obviously, no dark magic.” She didn’t look at Malfoy while saying that, but Ron stared enough for both of them.

They stepped in to the fields Ron against Hermione and Harry against Malfoy.

“One –” they all readied their wands and stepped in to their stance.

“Two –” Malfoy shot a nonverbal stunning charm witch Harry deflected only thanks to his seeker’s reflexes.

“Three!” and Hermione also shot a spell at Ron who sidestepped it.

Harry shot a spell after spell at Malfoy trying to make him lose his balance, but Malfoy deflected every one of them. Slytherin shot a blue flame that Harry’s shield spell absorbed. Gryffindor sent back a blasting curse.

They were shouting spells and ducking, not paying attention to where they stepped. Malfoy disturbed a pair of young Ravenclaws who swiftly got out of the way. Good thing Hermione’s barriers followed the duellists around because the deflected curses shed sparks everywhere.

Soon people started watching the fighting four, not only to be safe from being stomped over, but also because they looked impressive – sparks flying everywhere, some grass patches on fire, and a hole in the ground where Ron had tried to blast Hermione off of her legs.

About 4 minutes in Hermione bested Ron with a complicated binding spell and jumped in victory, her wand emitting red sparks. They were both breathing heavily, Hermione started to free Ron who was watching Harry and Malfoy fight.

Seemed like they didn’t see anything else only each other, their eyes focused, trying to predict the next move of the opponent.

After releasing Ron, Hermione too stayed still watching as the two boys fought. Everyone watching were holding their breaths having not a slightest clue as to who would come out on top.

There was something about fighting Potter that Malfoy really enjoyed, also when they flew, it was something, different than when he flew alone. He ducked a lame spell and sent a jinx back not really expecting it to hit Harry, he was too focused. What Malfoy needed was a distraction, when he had to avoid the next spell he stepped in the direction of the closest people.

He sidestepped and tried to stun the other. After one more step Ron was in Malfoys range so he sent the next jinx right past Potter and in to the Weasleys red face.

When Harry realised what Draco was doing it was too late. Hypothetically he could let the jinx that he didn’t recognize hit Ron, but that was not the Gryffindor way.

Harry jumped in front of his best friend and was sent back stumbling. Ron surprisingly kept him on his feet and three seconds later Harry was out of the daze enough to send a curse to Malfoy.

The jinx made him feel funny, his vision was swaying and he could barely stand. He blasted the ground beneath Malfoy to buy himself some time and tried to shake his head out of the weird buzz. His head felt like it was floating and at the same time there was a weird pressure on his eyes and ears.

He swatted with his wand in the general direction of the blonde and was surprised as a large green flame erupted. He got an idea and pointed his wand to his head, mouthing a spell that he had read somewhere recently, it was supposed to improve focus.

And it did. Harry acquired a pinpoint accuracy, he shot three head-shots only ineffective because the other boy deflected them without a blink. He needed something stronger, faster. Because he needed to win.

He ducked two curses and blasted a curse in the Slytherins direction. The fire didn’t even reach him but the force of the explosion was enough to send the blonde flying in the lake.

Harry put a fist in the air as the sign of his victory and his wand burst out in a firework. He watched as the fire went out looking shimmering and confused. ‘How does a fire look confused?’ he questioned his own thoughts.

People around him clapped but he felt very hot and sweaty and too winded up to calm down. He approached the lake where he could see the blonde swimming back to the shore and caught his breath for a moment. Somebody was saying something but everything seemed to be in a slight mist.

He kicked of his shoes and took off his torn t-shirt ‘Why was it torn?’ He stepped in to the cold water, but it seemed to calm his hot head so he didn’t hesitate and jumped in the lake his wand forgotten on the shore.

He swam in a blond-head’s direction, his skull feeling very heavy. Only now it occurred to him that maybe it wasn’t the wisest idea to go swimming in cold water after receiving two charms to his head. ‘Wait, what charms?’

‘Meh, too late now.’

He made a somersault in the water but his head suddenly started feeling too fuzzy. Harry had no idea whether he was swimming up or down and when he was supposed to breathe in. He clenched hands around his head and tried to focus on holding his breath. ‘Or was I supposed to inhale?’ he opened his mouth, letting the bubbles out but hastily closed it again deciding that – no he was supposed to keep his mouth shut. But his brain was screaming for oxygen. Harry moved his arms in effort to reach the surface but the faint light was too far, he was sinking. He closed his eyes and frowned. His head was weary.

He started moving his legs, with the last strength he had he struggled to reach the sky. He wanted to fly again and to see again and to not feel only the freezing lake water.

A strong arm grabbed him from behind and he felt bit warmer again. He was hurled to the surface and soon could breathe again. The air stung in his lungs and his head still was dizzy and heated up, but the person that saved him was cool and Harry rested his head on the wet chest of his rescuer.

His eyes were closed, and the weird pressure still there. Harry didn’t feel well – his body was heavy and cold, his head – too light and confused. ‘What am I doing again? – breathing? – not breathing?’ he held his breath for a moment but the chest under him kept moving up and down heavily. He inhaled sharply and tried to open his eyes. Or were they open?

No, he didn’t think so. He frowned and opened one eye, his wet hair obstructing his vision. He puffed, maybe he should sleep.

‘No! Wait, I was doing something!’ he scowled trying to remember.

‘Oh! Right, I was fighting a duel!’ somehow it seemed it was already over though.

“Did I win?” he asked the other boy who was lying still, his heart beating like crazy.

“What?” voice spat tiredly.

Harry winced at the unkind voice.

There was a pause and then the boy continued in a slightly calmer and warmer voice.

“Well, technically you did. But I would say I definitely did the most damage.” Malfoy was lying in the sand, his arms splayed and trying to catch his breath. He had seen the Gryffindor go under water and not wanting to risk it, he had dived after him. He reached the raven-head and then with a blast of his wand got both of them in a close proximity of the shore, though some way away from the place they had fought at.

“Why were you swimming when the water is so cold?”

“What do you mean, Potter? You yourself blasted me almost to the other side of the lake.”

“Ohh.”

Harry!” there was a stressed call from Harry’s left, “I found them! Get Madam Pomfrey! – Harry, Harry, are you okay?”

Boy lifted his head from the comfortable position and turned his face in the direction of the voice.

“Me?”

“Yes, Harry. Are you all right?”

“My head hurts… but I’m okay.” He didn’t know why he lied, it was just something he was supposed to do. He did not feel okay.

The girl fussed around summoning things and loudly bossing some other people around.

She covered him in a warm blanket that made him shiver with content and get up to sit on his knees. The girl fussed further casting a warming spell on him and drying his hair.

“Harry, what happened?”

“I won the duel!” he frowned ‘what else? Did I forgot –’

“Yes, but why did you drown?”

“Did I?” his head was covered in clouds, everything was fluffy, he laughed. But everything was dark. ‘Why?’

“Why is it dark?” he asked the girl who was talking too quickly for him to pay attention.

“Oh… because you’re eyes are shut, Harry.”

“Right,” he proclaimed, frowned and opened one eye, the light blinded him so he blinked. Slowly he opened the other one and focused on a richly haired girl with a worried facial expression. Everything was still blurry though.

“You look like a lion, fluffy…” he extended his hand but his fingers were numb so he ended up only tangling himself deeper in the warm blanket.

A laugh distracted him from his confusing finger-labyrinths. He looked to the other boy who had sat up and now was laughing in the most amazing way.

“You laugh so beautifully.” Harry exclaimed, but judging by his gut feeling and the other boy’s face that was something he wasn’t supposed to say.

“Sorry. Sorry. Don’t be mad, please don’t.” Harry looked at the other pleadingly, the boy was so beautiful when laughing, he did not want to see him angry.

The blond opened his mouth to say something but a violent sneeze shook his body before he could respond to Harry.

Harry looked at the girl and demanded.

“Give him a blanket too!”

“I don’t have one, Harry.” She seemed utterly confused.

Harry clenched his fists and forced his legs to move, he walked cautiously over to where the other boy sat motionless but his eyes watching Harry carefully. He heavily sat down next to the blond and put one half of the blanket around the other’s shoulders.

Harry felt that the other was shivering so he kept his hand on his shoulders and tucked the blanket around him despite that the other boy was sitting still like a rock. ‘What is with him?’

“Are you frozen?” he asked confused as to why the blond was so tensed. He was shivering slightly under Harry’s arm, his blond hair still soaked, the water trickling on to Harry’s arm and then down the other boy’s back again, a violent shiver went through the blonde’s body.

Malfoy was sitting tensed and scared to move, Potter had put his hand on his shoulders. He was stubbornly avoiding Grangers gaze. He didn’t want to let his mind wonder too much in the shirtless Gryffindor’s direction but he couldn’t stop a shiver from Potters touch going through his body, but the other only gripped his shoulder tighter.

“No, but saving you, git, left me quite breathless.”

Why was the other one so rude? Didn’t he like Harry? But why did he save him then? Harry shook his head in confusion. The blond boy looked cold and small, all Harry wanted was to make him warm and happy.

“You! Lion girl. Why don’t you dry him too? You did a spell on my hair…” he lifted his hand to touch his head, his hair was silky. Somehow he was sure it was never usually like that.

“Erm, okay, I can, if Malfoy agrees.” She looked at the blond.

“No, no, no, I’m fine. I, of course, didn’t lose my wand.” Somehow through the flight in the lake and then swim back to the shore he had never let go of his wand. And a good thing too, without it he never could have gotten Potter out of the water. What was the damn git even thinking? Going swimming after a confusion charm.

He took his wand from the ground near him and pointed it to himself murmuring a drying and warming spell. He closed his eyes in content as warmth settled in to his body.

“Wooow! Your hair is so soft.” With a childish grin Potter ran his fingers through Malfoys hair on the back of his head. Malfoy froze as the other boy’s fingers caressed his neck and hair. His first reflex was to swat at the offending Gryffindor, but maybe it– he wasn’t actually thinking that! Kind of… felt a little bit good.

It was the trauma talking, surely – being hurled half way across the lake and then having to save Gryffindor’s arse in quick session of things – surely came with consequences. So he breathed out and rested his head on his knees, hugging his legs. He closed his eyes and relaxed slightly, hoping that Potter wouldn’t come to his senses too soon, or he might get a heart attack and then all the Malfoy’s heroics would be for nothing.

Hermione’s mind was working furiously, Harry seemed all right except for his mind. She supposed that the charm that hit him was some kind of confusion or memory altering spell. She wanted to try and reverse it but she knew better because it was very dangerous to use multiple brain-affecting spells at once, so she watched her friend anxiously. Soon she heard Ron and others coming this way through the bushes.

She went to greet them and started explaining the situation to Madam Pomfrey. The med-witch ordered all the other concerned people stay back and approached the two sitting in the sand.

“Harry?” she asked cautiously.

“Yes?” he looked at the witch.

Then she asked him many questions, mostly they made no sense. He answered best he could, but it was hard to concentrate. Who was she again?

“Looks like you were hit by a confusion charm, Potter. We should get back to the castle there we will sort this out.”

“It was an altered confusion charm, yes.” Malfoy said annoyed that he was ignored, “it is meant to disable your opponent. I have no idea how he kept fighting, he even seemed to be more precise after it hit him, it was very weird.”

Harry frowned, why would he get hit by a charm? It would have made more sense if he would have deflected it. A vague memory of the fight came back and he was pretty sure he had jumped in the way of the spell at his own free will. What a dumb thing to do.

The med-witch refused to let them walk to the castle so they were put on flying stretchers, too tired to complain both boys obeyed.

Harry’s head was throbbing, since entering the castle it had gotten steadily worse, his thoughts more and more confusing. Lying still while he was floating up the stairs made him sick so he sat up, but movement made his head even worse. He grabbed his hair and dug his nails in his skin trying to stop the pain.

“You all right, Potter?” it was the other boy, up on one elbow watching him with his beautiful grey eyes. They were like the morning’s mist with a hint of unicorns and miracles.

“You stole your eyes from a unicorn, but they suit you.” He said through clenched teeth. His brain was killing him. A wonderful laugh made him open his eyes again and watch in wonder how the blonde laughed.

“Why do you think I stole them?”

“Because the unicorn would never give up eyes so beautiful.” And there it was again the other boy smiled a small smile and laid down, seemed like Harry had a talent for making people uncomfortable.

“Sorry.”

“It’s fine, I know I am uncommonly beautiful, it’s just that… you would never say anything like that. It’s just the confusion.”

They entered the Hospital wing and Madam Pomfrey positioned them in beds next to each other. She gave them both Pepperup potions and then started to fuss around Harry.

Malfoy explained what jinx that was and even Accio-ed the book he had read about it in. The counter spell was on the next page. Madam Pomfrey read the page and turned to Harry.

“Now, Potter this spell is supposed to make you baffled and disoriented in 6 seconds, but Mr Malfoy claims you shot three head-shots at him right after, and a blasting curse that send him flying half way across the lake. Mind telling me how you did that?”

Harry thought for a moment. “I think I just concentrated really hard on winning.”

“Okay, try to remember if you did any spells on yourself before you started focusing.”

Harry’s face lit up. “Oh right! I made myself focused.” He beamed with pride. “And then I won.”

The woman cast a detecting spell on him and he shivered slightly.

“Yes. Seems like you have two charms on you, one – confusion, the other for focus.”

“Can I have some more chocolate?” he asked shyly, like afraid to be rejected. He was sitting on the side of his bed, feet dangling over the side, the blanked was behind him forgotten.

Malfoy was standing behind Madam Pomfrey and was trying to not stare at Potter’s bare chest too much. The Gryffindor looked content, and carefree. It was weird seeing him like that, because even now when the war was over and all, he still defiled around the castle like he was expecting something bad to happen the next moment.

Absentmindedly Malfoy broke his own chocolate in half and gave a piece to Potter, who’s face lit up and he bit in to it happily, thanking the Slytherin with a full mouth.

“Potter.” The woman addressed him briskly, Harry’s eyes focused on hers in anticipation of a scolding. “Can you, please, try to remember what spell you used?” she continued in a kinder voice, trying to correct her first outburst that had been out of pure habit.

Harry was tensed, distraught by the tone of her voice and he tried to think desperately. He had no idea what the name of the spell was, but he knew where he had read about it.

“It was in a book.”

“Well, that narrows it down.” The blond boy retorted sarcastically. Harry threw a look at him and tried to think.

“Sorry, sorry, it was a book, it was blue, with black letters on the spine, dark blue. I’m sorry. I can’t… I don’t. I’m sorry.” Harry was looking down on his hands, his head was pulsing his limbs felt heavy. He didn’t feel so good.

“It’s okay Potter. Everything is okay.”

“Okay,” he echoed.

“Get some rest. If your head hurts too bad I can give you a painkiller, but only if it gets too bad, I don’t want to mix your brain up even more.”

Harry nodded still looking down at his hands.

“Mr Malfoy, would you be so kind and look after him while I’m gone? It might be better if we wouldn’t leave him alone.”

“Fine.” His voice was cold, Harry didn’t want to look up to see the other boy looking at him like he was a burden.

Before Harry could gather enough thoughts to say that he could look after himself, the med-witch had already left. He felt the blonde’s eyes watching him intently but he didn’t look up, he felt bad holding back the other boy from his friends and stuff he probably needed to do.

“You can leave. I can fend for myself.”

Malfoy raised his eyebrows at the quiet voice, three minutes ago Potter had been carefree like a puppy. What had happened?

“Potter, don’t make me laugh, you can’t fend for yourself even usually, now even less so.”

Why was the blonde boy so mean? He didn’t want to receive any more insults so he stayed silent.

He thought about how the other one had laughed, then it hadn’t seemed like Harry was messing up his life. Maybe he could make him laugh again and he would forgive him for being a burden.

Potter didn’t talk back. Not one smart-ass remark from the Gryffindor. Malfoy shifted uncomfortably as Potter’s shoulders tensed after his words. This was weird, he wanted Potter to go back to normal, this was unnerving.

“What’s wrong, Potter? Just a minute ago you were smiling like an idiot about the chocolate.”

“Noting, just… I know I am a burden. I would like not to be that. I want to help.”

“You’re not a burden, Potter.”

“But you have to stay here without your friends and…”

“I don’t have any friends, Potter! Forgot that?”

Finally Harry looked up not believing his ears.

“How can you not have friends?”

“I am too handsome and too royal for all the pathetic people in this school, so I don’t bother.”

“Oh.” Harry looked down again disappointed, he had hoped that they were friends despite the feeling like that was just a hope, even when he wasn’t confused.

“What again?”

“I dunno,” he thought for a bit, “in my confusion I thought that we were friends. Sorry.”

“Well, we’re not, you’re just hanging with me because of pity.” Malfoy spat.

“What? I wouldn’t do that… would I? I don’t think so.” he thought furiously but his mind was swimming in a sea of random emotions and memories of events.

“Well, if you’re not doing it because of pity I don’t know why, Potter. Don’t ask me. Ask yourself.”

Harry focused on the other boy’s face and tried to understand why he was hanging with him. It was difficult as everything was blurry. His thoughts were tangled and he couldn’t get to the root of things. He remembered laughing with the blond boy and flying and arguing, a lot of arguing.

“Why were we always arguing?”

Malfoy turned because the other had been lost in his thoughts for quite a while.

“Because we were rivals, that’s what rivals do – they make each other’s lives hell.”

“But we are not rivals now?”

“I guess – no, Potter, we’re not.”

Harry kept thinking trying to understand the blonde. He calmed as a vague thought reminded him that the blonde boy was always saying mean things, but not always meaning them to hurt anyone.  

He looked the other boy up and down – he was leaning against the bed next to Harry’s looking out the window. Harry shifted and crossed his bare legs on the bed. It was cold so he put his hands around him.  His face felt hot but hands were chilly, as were his toes, he brushed off his feet and tried to warm them.

Malfoy watched Potter fidget for a moment, then stepped in his direction and took the blanket from behind Potter. “Honestly, Potter, and you’re saying you can take care of yourself?”

Harry froze when the blonde reached past him having no idea what was he going to, then he felt something warm settling on his shoulders, the other boy’s fingers sending shivers down his arms.

“Wow! You conjured a blanket!” he exclaimed in pure surprise and smiled contently covering his freezing toes.

Surprised by the genuine amazement in Potters voice Malfoy smiled. A green pair of eyes were watching him and his smile froze a little.

“What?” he asked suspicious.

“Everything is so blurry, my head hurts.”

“Oh, right, you must have lost your glasses while swimming.”

He picked up his wand from a nightstand and Accio-ed the spectacles through the window. Soon they saw them flying in their direction and Malfoy opened the window just before they crashed in to the room after that the blonde snatched them out of the air skilfully.

“Wooow! That’s amazing. Thank you.” He took the glasses from the other’s hand put them on. He blinked and his eyes relaxed a bit, but there was still a weird pressure on them and he couldn’t look in one spot for too long.

“You’re welcome.” He went back to leaning on the opposite bed.

Harry wasn’t cold anymore, but his ears were ringing, his head pulsing and he suddenly felt like vomiting. He moved to sit on the side of the bed and leaned forward, hand on his mouth, eyes screwed shut. And then as fast as it started the nausea passed and he let out a shaky breath.

His head still didn’t feel any better though.

“Potter?” he heard a worried voice but it was muffled by his own thoughts and random ringing that was the only thing he could concentrate on. He didn’t feel his own body, he tried to move his arms but couldn’t. Panic was starting to creep up on Harry, he blinked furiously but not being able to focus on anything, there was pressure on his head. He put his hands over his eyes and curled up hiding his face.

Potter had suddenly paled and seemed not aware of his surroundings anymore. Malfoy stood alert but having no clue what to do. He called the Gryffindor’s name but the other didn’t budge. He curled up occasionally whimpering quietly in pain.

The way he acted was like he didn’t expect any help, only like he was enduring the pain until it would pass. Despite himself Malfoy couldn’t not feel bad for the other. He sighed and sat down next to the Gryffindor putting one of his arms around the other’s shoulders, hoping he wouldn’t make Potter feel any worse. But to be fair Malfoy felt completely out of his depth. Comforting others wasn’t what he usually did.

Harry felt like drowning all over again only not in water but in his own confusion, he couldn’t understand, he looked but didn’t see. His ears were ringing and he didn’t know if it was from silence or from noise. Suddenly he felt a pressure on his shoulders and vaguely understood that someone was trying to comfort him.

Nothing changed but he felt slightly more hopeful as he wasn’t so alone anymore.

Chapter Text

Draco was feeling positively awkward. He had his hand around the curled up Gryffindor, but it didn’t seem to help much.

His mind was racing and at the same time – only things that were utterly useless.

I am not responsible for his condition. The git jumped in front of the Weasley himself!

But at the back of his mind he still felt… guilty. Well, there was a first! He frowned annoyed.

The spell was supposed to just disorientate and confuse Potter – or Weasley – until Draco would so mercifully cast the counter spell. But no – the git had to go and mess his brain up. AND win the duel. It was ridiculous.

And then be all cute and touch his hair. GHAAAHG! His thoughts! He needed to get a grip this instant. Potter was not cute. He was – moving.

Draco straightened his back and looked at the head that had lifted. Potter seemed drowsy.

Harry lifted his head with all the strength that he had. He wanted to see who was sitting next to him in this sea of confusion. It was a blond boy with silver eyes and a worried face.

“What?” Malfoy spat before the part of him that was trying to help kicked in. “I mean… how are you feeling?” it felt weird, saying that kind of stuff.

But Harry seemed lost in his thoughts, not comprehending his surroundings. He didn’t answer or register Draco’s words in any way, but he shifted on the bed and slouched against the Slytherin.

Even through the blanked Draco could feel that Harry was burning up. Not good.

But. What the hell am I supposed to do??

He had no clue. After a couple of minutes of sitting in silence, actively wishing for Madam Pomfrey to come, she actually did. He was so relieved that he actually forgot to pretend not to care.

“Madam Pomfrey, he is hot as hell!” he said not moving to not disturb the other boy, who was still leaning on him. Madam Pomfrey raised her eyebrows and Draco’s pale face turned pink. “I… I mean, he is burning up.”

She put her hand on his head and nodded. Then she took her wand and murmured a spell from a blue book. After that she also lifted the confusion charm and moved Harry to a sleeping position. She thanked Draco and after making sure he was in full health told him that he could leave.

At that he felt conflicted – he wanted to make sure that Harry would be okay and he also wanted to leave the hospital wing and his confusing thoughts.

“Will he be okay?”

“Of course, honey, he will wake up in the morning all sorted out. The tricky thing was not to mess up anything further. Now I can give him something for his fewer and pain. He will be just fine.”

He hated the tone she talked to him in. He nodded and left the hospital wing without another word.

On the other side of the doors he stopped because there were two people pacing stressfully beside the opposite wall.

It was Granger and Weasley.

“Malfoy!” Ron took out his wand.

“How is Harry?” Hermione asked briskly, but still pushing Weasley’s wand away from his chest.

“Who knows? When I saw him last he was shaking in a fit and coughing blood.”

Granger’s face was priceless. She took out her wand too and opened her mouth threateningly stepping closer. Malfoy took pity on her.

“Quit worrying! He is unconscious, Madam Pomfrey said he would be fine in the morning.”

Before she could hex him he turned to go to his room calmly, safe under his Slytherin mask. When in reality he felt like sitting out here all night only to see Harry walk out of the hospital wing in the morning fine and dandy. He wanted to scratch his eyes out and to not care, but he couldn’t. He could pretend. But not stop feeling.

“Don’t you have any compassion, Malfoy?” Hermione called after him.

“You will regret this, snake!” Ron sounded enraged, but Malfoy couldn’t bring himself to care too much. He waved indifferently not looking back and strolled down the hallway, hands in his pockets.

In the end, he hadn’t done anything wrong, he had just played a little trick, if Potter hadn’t been such a damn Gryffindor, nothing bad would have happened.

He got to the entrance portrait before he could sort out his thoughts.

“Steven universe. Have a nice night, Artemis,” he mumbled absentmindedly.

“It’s not even dinner yet, has something happened?”

“No. Well… I landed Potter in hospital.”

“You what? You are impossible! I need to go right now. What’s wrong with you!?” she was enraged, and her portrait darkened. Before she disappeared behind the side of her painting she too turned in to a creature of darkness. Draco was left wondering if there was anyone who didn’t hate him tonight. And in front of a closed portrait.

Fantastic.

He needed to think. He kept walking, wondering around the castle until the diner time came and went. When encountering other people he straightened his back and regarded them with a cold stare but really he just wanted to sleep in his bed and not get up.

The duel, the swim, the confusing attitude of Potter had him exhausted. He ended up in the Astronomy tower, it was already getting dark, he stood for a while and then sat down his back to wall. This place was filled with bad memories, but tonight he didn’t feel like sparing himself a pair of new nightmares.

I really should stop hanging with Potter, it won’t lead to anything good.

Malfoy suddenly felt very lonely.

It was already the middle of the night when he forced his frozen limbs to move and dragged himself to the portrait hole, to be greeted with a grumpy half-demon Artemis.

“Malfoy,” she greeted coldly.

“Steven universe,” he said tiredly.

“No.”

“What do you mean?”

“What do I mean? I mean N… O... No. That is not correct. You’re wrong.” She crossed her arms and put her nose in the air.

“Well what’s the password then?”

“I am not at liberty to say.”

“Of course you’re not. But who else am I supposed to ask, since it is the middle of the BLODDY NIGHT.”

“I don’t care.”

“Want me to sleep outside, do you? Do you have any idea what kind of day have I had?”

“Well, you managed to curse Potter. That must have been exhausting.”

Actually – it was. And you know what else? Dragging him from the lake when he got himself drowning! And watching him under that stupid spell that I didn’t even intend to hit him with. And then trying to figure out why I mess everything up! Yeah, you could say it was a BAD day.”

He was furious and forgot all about returning to his bed. He marched down the hallway ignoring Artemis’ voice. She didn’t want to let him in? Fine. He would go somewhere he wasn’t unwelcomed.

Erm. He stopped in the middle of the hallway and grunted angrily.

Fine then, he would go somewhere nobody would find him. He found the first empty hallway with big enough windows and made himself comfortable on one of the window sills. He transfigured his white – not so white after today – shirt in to a blanket and tried to sleep. He cast a warming spell and soon was asleep despite the unresting thoughts and the hard rock beneath him.

Chapter Text

Malfoy?” a harsh voice awakened Draco from his half sleep half nightmares and he sat up looking around frantically, his wand in his hand.

He had been startling up periodically all night, his back was sore and his head was pulsing from the lack of sleep. He winced and rubbed one eye as the other focused on the boy standing in the hallway. He froze.

Harry had gotten up this morning with his head pulsing and Madam Pomfrey fussing around him. She had explained what had happened yesterday what Harry hadn’t remember himself. He remembered everything until when he had started to not register what was happening around him, he remembered as Malfoy saved him from drowning, and he could ‘happily’ cringe at all the things he had said. He had felt confused, he hadn’t understood anything. Now he looked back and shuddered – it had been terrifying. He had had to concentrate so hard to comprehend anything.

The medwitch let him out and he had been walking through the hallway on the way to his dorm when he saw somebody sleeping on the window sill in the middle of the hallway. When he had recognized just who was sleeping there his surprise had frozen him, he stood just watching the Slytherin sleeping soundly while the morning’s sunlight hit his features.

The call had come out harsher than he had intended but he was confused as to why the Slytherin was here. He had not been expecting to see anyone before going back to the common room. Besides – who sleeps in a place like that?

“What are you doing here, Malfoy?”

It was Potter. Of all the goddamn people... it had to be Potter.

Malfoy lowered his wand and rubbed his eyes not wanting to engage in the uncomfortable conversation that he was sure was about to follow.

Most of the last evening, despite his own disgust by it, he had thought about how their next conversation would go. He was pretty sure that by the thousandth time that he had gone over all the possibilities, but apparently – no.

“Were you sleeping here?”

No. Don’t be stupid, Potter,” he spat with all the sarcasm he could muster in this early hour. He stretched his arms.

“I am not stupid, Malfoy.” The Slytherin looked surprisingly relaxed but there was no way it was that comfortable there.

“Whatever.” Draco looked at the blanked witch was laying on the floor looking not appealing. He made face at it and made it disappear.

Harry needed to decide fast whether he was angry at the other or not. The trick that Malfoy had used was a dirty one, but it was Harry’s own fault that he had jumped in front of the curse and then made it all worse by placing that focus charm on himself.

He had hoped that he would have more time to think about it, but… if he needed to think about it maybe he actually didn’t. Harry shrugged. He wasn’t angry – he was curious as to why Malfoy was out here and not in his bed.

“So… Did you have a fight with your roommates?” he guessed.

Malfoy stared at him, still sitting one leg under him, other dangling over the side of the window sill.

“None of your damn business, Potter.” He stepped down from the window sill and stretched trying to relax his neck.

“Whatever.” Harry didn’t understand why the blond was being so rude to him. He didn’t feel like arguing so he just watched as Malfoy stretched and ran a hand through his hair yawning. Then completely ignoring Harry he started towards the common room. As always he looked like he owned the place and nothing out of the ordinary was happening (like him sleeping in a hallway shirtless, for example).

Harry didn’t understand what he had done. Maybe he’s mad about me winning the duel? But I won fair and square! If he’s upset ‘bout that, he can go drown in self-pity all I care. Harry sighed and followed him down the hallway.

He didn’t want to admit it but he felt slightly – hurt that Malfoy was being so childish about this. Hopefully he will come around soon. But he also was intrigued as to why Malfoy had been sleeping in the hallway. He decided to investigate later as the Slytherin seemed to be in a bad mood now.

Harry reached the Artemis’ portrait soon after Malfoy who was standing in front of it looking very annoyed.

“What’s up?” he looked at the portrait – Artemis was angry, her arms crossed and her head turned to the side, wind picking up and dying down around her.

“She won’t let me in,” came an irritated answer from Malfoy.

“Ohh, Harry! You’re okay!” she noticed the other boy and her attitude changed. Her posture relaxed and the painting became more filled with light.

“Of course, I am. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Well, that inconsiderate git cursed you didn’t he?”

“Yea, he did, but it takes more than a confusion charm to take me down.”

“A confusion charm?” she asked in a small voice baffled by the new information. When she had visited Harry in the hospital wing yesterday she had just seen him unconscious so she had thought that Malfoy had really hurt him.

Yes! What did you think I did? An Unforgivable?”

“No… I over reacted, sorry.”

Malfoy pouted.

“Wait… You two had a fight? Is that why you were sleeping in the hallway?”

“I was not…” Malfoy started enraged but Artemis was already laughing.

“The great Draco Malfoy… sleeping in a hallway. Shirtless. This is priceless!”

Malfoy looked ready to burst in to flames. Harry mouthed an apology, he hadn’t meant to embarrass the proud Slytherin. Malfoy didn’t say anything only watched the Gryffindor with an unreadable facial expression.

Artemis laughed again but then turned to Harry.

“The new password is Mockingbird.”

“Thank you –” he was interrupted by the blond shoving him aside and looking at Artemis.

“Will you let me in now, please?” he said masking his annoyance with fake politeness.

“Aren’t you going to apologize to Harry?”

“It’s fine –” Harry started.

“No,” Malfoy bit not looking at Harry.

“– Okay, Artemis, Mockingbird. Let us in, please.”

Malfoy was SO weird today, honestly. It wasn’t like Harry needed an apology as he was partly guilty for what had happened too, but knowing that Malfoy hadn’t really tried to injure him wouldn’t hurt. On the other hand he did blast Malfoy halfway across the lake.

Maybe he was the one hurt.

“Okay, okay. Have a good day both of you.” She opened the entrance and Malfoy stormed in, Harry thanked Artemis and entered as well.

“Hei, wait up!” Harry called after the boy who was already with one foot on the stairs to the bedrooms. Malfoy paused and turned slowly looking at Harry like he was the most despicable thing he had ever seen.

“I wanted to know if you were okay. And are you mad at me or something? You’re acting very strange.” Harry felt uncomfortable because Malfoy looked so distant and cold, reminded of the time before they became friends.

The Slytherin watched Harry rub his neck while talking, he seemed unsure.

Malfoy listened to the words Harry said, but they were all wrong – not what he had expected. He had expected some reprimand for the dirty trick or cold insults. He had also considered the possibility that Harry wouldn’t even want to talk to him but there he was – looking worried whether he was hurt. What the hell is this?

Harry was confused, Malfoy just kept staring at him, his face unbelieving, is he really that angry? Harry couldn’t quite believe that. What have I done?

“Malfoy? I don’t understand what I did, but let me assure you – it was on accident. I’m sorry–”

Why the fuck are you apologizing to me for?” Malfoy stepped down from the step irritated and confused. “You didn’t fuck shit up! I did. Again. Stop and insult me already.”

He had been stressing all night and the previous evening. Why was Potter being so not-predictable?

Harry surprised by the outburst needed a time to compose himself, but he was glad that the abrupt phrases he had gotten all morning had ran out.

“Do you want me to insult you?”

“Yes, so you can embarrass yourself as I put you down with a flawless comeback.”

Harry laughed – so Malfoy was himself this morning after all.

“Sure, better tell me what’s bugging you.”

Draco’s heart was beating fast. It didn’t look like Harry was angry with him, but surely he must be. But he couldn’t admit that he had been worried about that. He let a breath out and calmed his heartbeat.

“Nothing’s bugging me, Potter, don’t get full of yourself.”

Sure, I’m the one full of myself.” He raised an eyebrow at the Slytherin and his usual arrogant tone.

“What are you doing out of the hospital wing so soon anyways?”

“Madam Pomfrey let me out as I was showing no further signs of confusion, however I am to immediately return if I feel even slightly worse. Why? Are you worried?”

“Don’t be ridiculous Potter, I merely thought you would have had to stay there longer as my charms are usually effective.”

“Don’t be fooled – it was effective, I just am tougher than I look.”

“Nah. Your head looks like bricks too,” he said shrugging.

Ha, ha.”

Malfoy smiled, seemed like Harry really wasn’t mad at him. He felt relieved despite the fact that there was no way he was ever going to admit that. But maybe he should just make sure.

“So… you’re not mad at me?” he asked quietly.

“I guess I’m not.” Harry shrugged. “And you?”

“I am not angry with you.”

“Then why were you acting so weird before?”

“Because you woke me up, scar-head.”

“Oh yea, sure. I bet you were just upset about losing the duel.”

They kept bickering until Hermione came down from the girl’s dormitories.

“Harry! I’m so happy you’re all right. Madam Pomfrey wouldn’t let us in yesterday, we tried everything. And then he came out and said you were vomiting blood–”

“I told you I was joking. Way to overreact Granger.”

“Well, I wouldn’t expect you to understand, Malfoy. You don’t have friends.”

“Nice.” Malfoy spat, only not responding with an insult because what she said was true, and he didn’t like it.

“Hermione, calm down, I’m okay. And stop blaming Malfoy. He hit me with a confusion, but I made it all worse by casting that focus charm. It was reckless and stuff, I know, but don’t -”

“Wait, wait, wait… I haven’t even started yet! What, in the name of Merlin, was going through your head, when you decided to meddle with your brain after a confusion? Do you never pay attention to any of the classes?”

“I do -”

“Then shouldn’t you know better? The human brain is a delicate thing, you can’t just fix a confusion with a focus! It doesn’t work that way! I shouldn’t have allowed any of us to duel. I just hoped you would be mature enough to not get hurt!” she kept scolding him angrily and Harry shrunk smaller and smaller. She had a point. They were the eight years, they should be an example to other students.

Malfoy held his mouth shut, happy that he had gotten through with just two sentences. A couple of times he noticed Potter eying him with a silent plead, but there was no way he was getting involved with Granger when she was furious like that.

Harry started feeling very uneasy, Hermione looked almost panicked and kept shouting at him.

“Hermione -”

“- the mere nerve, Harry! How could you-”

“Hermione, calm down.” He stepped forward and hugged his friend. She stopped midsentence and hugged Harry back.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t… if something would have happened to you... And all the nightmares -”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

They stayed like that for a moment while Hermione calmed and relaxed. Malfoy watched them puzzled, it had seemed like Granger was going to tear Harry apart, but he had noticed that she was more worried than angry. The witch had looked weird towards the end of her tirade.

Malfoy sighed, well, if the show was over he would now go to his room and take a long shower before the breakfast. He started climbing the stairs before a voice called from behind.

“Malfoy, I’m sorry I said that you have no friends.”

“Whatever, Granger, I, at least, know how to tame my hair.”

“I think, if he insults your hair it means he likes you,” Harry explained to the confused girl.

“Ohh…” she seemed unsure.

“That’s ridiculous, Potter!” he called as he fled in to the corridor.

“No, I’m pretty sure I’m right.” Harry smiled.

Then he excused himself and went to his room. He successfully got to his bed without making too much noise and got clean clothes while his roommates were still sleeping.

Harry was exiting the shower when they started to get up and drowsy dragged themselves out of their beds. Ron greeted him happily already proposing a plan how to get back at Malfoy, which Harry rejected, saying that the Slytherin already got his share while in the lake and when Harry won despite being confused. Ron shrugged, but let it go and preceded to talk about something else.

A week passed in a whirlwind of lessons and Quidditch practices that Harry had to plan as the captain. He was exhausted and what small time he had free he spent with his friends, including Malfoy, though it was hard for him to think of his ex-rival as a friend.

Something about the blond was different. Harry was pretty sure that if he just let his mind wonder he could find the right words for what he felt for Malfoy, but he didn’t. There was no point – in best case scenario Malfoy endured him as a friend. So he didn’t let his mind go its course and tried to see the (gorgeous) Slytherin as only a friend. It was hard. When they flew all he could think about was how Draco’s face lit up with joy, and when they studied – he looked so focused like his life depended on the grade. Or when he was embarrassed – his pale skin turned slightly pink and his face was irritation on the fence with anger.

Harry busied himself as much as possible and his nightmares visited on fewer nights, but now he saw not only Weasleys and Hermione dying, but also Draco. The first time it had happened he had been so scared he had to walk over to his room and peak in to see the Slytherin sleeping soundly.

He hadn’t slept much more that night.

He and Draco kept bickering and making fun of each other, it was fun and even on days when Harry felt like sleeping right there in his porridge with fruits Malfoy managed to make him want to think of something witty to say in response. Besides – Ron always could be counted on to make him laugh and Hermione was always there as well as all the other people. Harry more often than not went to sleep happy and filled with hope. Sometimes though all hell crashed on him and he barely stopped himself from taking it out on his friends.

Some days they all walked around like thunder-clouds and nothing could make it better. But usually it was not all of them at the same time, so those people who had the good days tried to make it better for those who had the bad ones and vice versa.

The October came to an end, the weather becoming more and more cruel on Quidditch players.

The Halloween feast was magnificent as always, filled with all the sweets you could want and more. Some of the students, though, started to spontaneously change colours, thanks to special candy from Fred and George. Even McGonagall’s nose turned green and Ron got an orange hand. Draco got a candy that changed his silvery hair to electric blue.

All Harry could do was stare until the Slytherin noticed at what and in terror tried to change it back. It didn’t work, the colour only seemed to turn more vibrant.

Later Ron got a letter saying that all the colours would dissipate in a couple of weeks.

“Well, at least my nose isn’t green,” Ron had said looking at his brightly coloured hand. Harry nodded amused as he had luckily evaded being coloured.

Next morning he saw a very furious Draco, with his hair still very blue. It was almost like a blue flame. Apparently, if you tried to wash the colour out or try to put a spell on it, it only became more radiant.

Harry had held his tongue as long as he could but by the end of the day he just couldn’t and started complaining to Hermione about how Malfoy suited the blue hair so well. Hermione had listened and then asked if there was anything else he wanted to tell her about Malfoy. He had been frustrated so he mumbled a couple of other things that bugged him about the Slytherin. By the end of his tirade Hermione was smiling knowingly, and he felt like he had told her something he hadn’t meant to.

Next morning he caught Hermione staring at him a couple of times smiling.

“What?”

“Oh, nothing, Harry, just enjoy your breakfast.”

“I will.” He puffed and bit in to the toast, his eyed wondering around the hall, setting on a blue haired Slytherin. Gosh, Malfoy looks so dazzling.

Seemed like Malfoy thought the exact opposite. He stormed in to the potion class and threw his bag under the table angrily.

“Good morning, you look blue-tiful on this fine morning.”

Malfoy looked at Harry like he was nuts. “Shut up.”

“You must be especially gallant today, ‘cause you blue me away.”

“Are you serious?”

“No, I’m trying to think of more blue puns, but I’m too blue-locks at it.”

“I will curse you. Say any pun one more time and I will curse your Gryffindor arse to the moon.”

“Okay, okay.”

Malfoy finally slouched in his chair and tried to compose himself. The teasing was no surprise, but it still annoyed him. ‘Damn those Weasleys!’

“You look blue, are you feeling okay?” Harry said calmly and innocently.

“Oh, I’m so done with you.” Draco took out his wand but before he could say any spell, the professor entered and the lesson started.

During the double potions Harry periodically spat out a new pun and Malfoy became more and more angry and desperate for the lesson to end. He was so out of his depth and he really hated his hair right now.

“Malfoy. Are you listening? What do I have to do next?”

“Just, shut up!” Malfoy hissed and went to the storage himself, just to get away from the Gryffindor for a minute.

When he got back Harry seemed ran out of the puns and was pleasingly quiet.

“Malfoy?”

“What?” he said, bracing himself for a new and no doubt – terrible pun.

“I wanted to say that I think the blue hair suits you very well.”

Malfoy stared at the other waiting for the punchline, but it didn’t come. Harry fiddled with some leaves and watched Malfoy nervously.

“No joke?”

“No.”

Malfoy turned to the cauldron and shrugged. Whatever. I don’t care what he thinks. But somehow he didn’t feel just as self-conscious about his hair anymore.

 

Chapter Text

Draco was late for Transfiguration. If Harry thought about it, Malfoy had been late quite frequently since the school year stared. Weird, seemed he was either creepy-punctual minding seconds or twenty minutes to half an hour late.

An idea popped inside of his head. Maybe he has a girlfriend or a boyfriend?... that’s a good thing. Right? He didn’t want to get in to why the thought didn’t feel like a good thing.

When Malfoy finally entered the room McGonagall looked at him disapprovingly, but he just sat down without apologizing and she continued the lesson.

“Where have you been?” Harry leaned over and asked quietly as they were in the first row.

“I had something to take care of. What are we talking about?”

Harry raised his eyebrows at the abrupt subject change, but didn’t press.

After the lesson ended they exited the classroom together walking behind Ron and Hermione. Malfoy was in a bad mood as he had missed the beginning of the lesson and Harry wasn’t any good at explaining things even if he wasn’t too horrible at doing them.

“Honestly, what’s wrong with you today? You’re acting like you just got dumped or something,” Harry exclaimed hoping to discover whether that was what had happened.

At that proclamation Malfoy laughed a bitter, but amused laugh.

“Like there was anyone who would even be remotely acceptable in this school. Truly, Potter, how naive can you be?”

“Whatever.” So he had been wrong.

At that moment another student was shoved in to Harry and he tripped, Malfoy tried to catch him, but some kid got in the way and Harry ended up falling and hitting his head on the wall.

Everything was dark he felt a cold stone ground and even colder wall behind him. His head hurt sharply, his palm felt bruised and his bottom didn’t feel great either as he had landed on it. After his head subsided a little he sat up his back pushed against the cold stone wall trying to understand where he was. All he could hear was blood rushing through his body, ears seemed to be filled with wool.

 He heard murmurs of distant voices and lifted his head turning in the direction he thought they came from. Suddenly there were voices all around but he couldn’t understand what they were saying. He remembered his eyes and opened them, bright light blinding him for a moment. He pushed his face down and put it between his knees, concentrating on his breathing.

He felt a hand on his shoulder, after a moment to calm himself he lifted his head. Then everything felt like in fast forward. People moved further away and it became quieter.

It was Ron, Hermione standing looking worried behind him, and on the other side Malfoy was crouched down as well.

Their voices came in to focus with a blow.

“- you okay? Harry? Can you hear me? Harry?”

“Yes, yes. I am fine.” Harry moved to get up, but Ron didn’t lift his hand and Malfoy also pushed him against the wall. Harry’s heart was beating fast.

“Your head is bleeding,” Ron said hastily.

“Oh.” Harry lifted his hand to touch his buzzing forehead, but bumped in to his nose. What? How did that get there? he felt slightly floating.

“Okay, that settles it – he is going to the hospital wing.” Malfoy watched as the boy grinned dumbly at his hand that he was moving around in front of his face.

Somebody had thrown a stink bomb in a bunch of girls and they had fled from the stench like ants from fire. With the hallway so crowded it wasn’t a big surprise that they knocked over other people. Then somebody fell on Harry who knocked his head pretty bad. Hermione had assured other students that they would take care of Harry and students reluctantly had returned to their amends. Ron had seen the stink-bomb-thrower and told Hermione who had sentenced him to detention.

Students were emptying the hallway and fleeing to the great hall for lunch. Everyone was staring at the three Gryffindors and Malfoy, most of them didn’t stop but they seemed to whisper and already start gossiping about what had happened.

“Yes,” Ron agreed harshly. “Harry, get up, mate.” He took him by his arm and helped him up.

Harry felt the earth rock and shift beneath him as he rose, he stood still for a moment, but then Ron released his shoulder and stepped forward. Harry lifted his leg to follow, but the world turned and he couldn’t sense where the ground was anymore. He threw his arms up in an effort to keep his balance, but it was already too late he was falling up or side-ways… why not down? Until Malfoy caught him and harshly pushed Harry the right way up.

“Wow! Magic!” he exclaimed cheerfully.

“Wow, Potter! You’re nuts!” Malfoy answered in the same tone and with an exaggerated smile. But his hand was firm under Harry’s arms.

“Malfoy! Be nice,” Hermione said frowning.

“Why? It’s true,” Malfoy said, putting Harry’s arm on his shoulders so it would be easier to hoist him on the way.

“That’s not the point. Let’s get him to the hospital wing in one piece,” Hermione puffed and set off in the direction of the hospital wing.

Ron put aside thoughts of the lunch he was missing and followed Malfoy who was steering Harry in the right way.

They reached the hospital wing and Hermione opened the door, while Ron and Malfoy with combined efforts made Harry go inside. Dark-haired Gryffindor himself was distracted by any little thing – an owl flying by the windows, painting of an old man and even Malfoy’s face and still blue hair, the latter had summoned a shove from the Slytherin because he found Harry’s stare unnerving.

“Mr Malfoy! Why are you here again? I just saw you.”

“Madam Pomfrey, Harry hit his head,” Hermione intervened and turned the mediwitch’s attention to the boy sitting on the bed, swinging his legs and humming.

“Mr Potter? Another head trauma? What happened?”

“Well - ” Hermione started, but Harry’s voice made her stop.

“What do you mean?” his voice was strained and his face was turned downwards, his hands in fists on his knees.

“I’m sorry?”

“Why was Malfoy here?”

“None of your business, Potter!”

Harry lifted his eyes sharply and looked at Malfoy with wide eyes.

“Calm down!” Madam Pomfrey ordered sternly.

“Malfoy! Quit bothering him!” Ron stepped forward.

“Really. Would it kill you to be nice once in a while?” Hermione asked irritated by his attitude. It was quite clear Harry liked Malfoy and sometimes for a second she thought Malfoy liked him too.

“That’s it! Leave if you have no injuries,” Madam Pomfrey said in a voice – calm, but which wouldn’t tolerate any arguments.

Hermione and Ron tried to protest but Malfoy simply left the room and started towards the great hall.

Harry was left confused, in a fog of confusing facts. Malfoy hates me. Why? My head hurts. Why? My friends died? I just saw them? Sirius? Remus? Ron? Fred? Ginny? Hermione? He clenched his hands over his head in an effort to protect himself, but it was no use.

After what felt like hours of never ending confusing thoughts – they dissipated, the fog of not-understanding was gone in a blink.

He opened his eyes and looked at Madam Pomfrey.

“How are you feeling?”

“I… I’m fine.” He let out a breath and relaxed his body.

“Please, try to protect your head from any further traumas. It can lead to permanent damage.”

“Of course. Thank you.” He got up and took a piece of chocolate from the smiling witch. He opened his mouth preparing to battle for the reason Malfoy had been here, but was stopped with a motion of the mediwitch’s hand.

“As for Malfoy… he was here because of a curse.”

“What?”

“Yes, and not only him, quite many students have come in with sprained ankles and that sort of things. Gashly business. I was wondering if you could put a word in against that sort of behaviour. It’s unacceptable.”

Harry stared, and there he had thought people had stopped, but apparently they just now were careful to not be seen by Harry.

“Potter? I have mentioned it to Minerva, but she is so busy, it would be great help.”

“Of course. I will do what I can.”

“Well then, thank you. But go if you want to catch the last minute of lunch.”

Harry thanked her and left. He had hit his head and jumped right in to being the same confused thing he was after the confusion. That was bad. He had to be careful now. Those were the thoughts in the back of his mind, but the main part of his brain was trying to work out how to stop the violence against the Slytherins. And Malfoy. To be honest, he mainly thought about the blond – who was blue for the moment.

Why didn’t he tell me? Doesn’t he trust me?

Harry kept rethinking possible explanations and the next seemed to be more depressing than the previous one. He reached the hall, Ron and Hermione were still at the table, they greeted him happily. Harry sat down but couldn’t make himself focus on whatever the other two were talking about.

“Why are people still fighting?” he finally asked tiredly.

Hermione raised her eyebrows at the sudden interruption.

“Well, Harry, this school is full of teenagers and children with little what to put energy in except for each other. So they just discharge on others, besides too many lost people during the war and now has issues that in my opinion are highly unaddressed.”

“Oho, you actually gave me an answer.”

“Of course, I’m glad you asked. I have been thinking, and actually I might have an idea…”

They talked some more and Harry left the great hall in much improved mood than when he had entered. What Hermione had suggested was an idea and not a horrible one, though it would require McGonagall’s approval.

They hurried to the next classes and made it just in time. Harry slouched in his chair content with life, his eyes wondered around the class automatically.

“Where do you think is Malfoy?” he asked Ron as the Slytherin was absent.

“Mate. It’s history of Magic.” Red-head looked at him incredulous. “With Hufflepuffs.”

“Oh.” Harry flushed at the stupid question. “Right.”

He was silent for the rest of the lesson.

“– Harry. Harry! What’s with you lately?” Ron apparently had been trying to get his attention for some time. They were walking to their next lesson.

“Nothing. Sorry, I –”

“Nothing my ass! It’s like sixth year all over again.” He narrowed his eyes and leaned closer to Harry. “You’re obsessed with Malfoy! And I’m pretty sure it’s not because he might be up to something.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said distracted by a blond head further down the hallway.

“You – don’t lie to me!”

“I am not. I am not. Come-on, Ron,” he said remembering that Malfoy had blue hair now.

“You’re always looking in the Slytherins’ direction. Even I have noticed!”

“I do not. Ron, come off it.” He sighed and finally looked at his friend.

Ron shrugged, not understanding why Harry was so obviously lying but he decided to bug his fellow Gryffindor later.

They entered the common room and Harry immediately noticed a blue-haired Slytherin sitting in the Gryffindor’s favourite chair. He looked focused and calm until a couple of eight years messing around almost knocked over his bottle of ink. Then he lashed out at them angrily and they hurriedly left the intimidating Slytherin’s sight.

Harry approached and slouched down in a chair next to Malfoy’s, Ron grumbled something under his breath, but followed his friend.

“Wanted something, Potter?”

“Well, you are sitting in my favourite chair.”

He raised his eyebrows not lifting his eyes from the homework.

“Am I? I hadn’t noticed, however, now when you mention it – it does have your Gryffindory stench all over it.”

“No matter, it’s ruined now anyways after your Slytheriny-highness has sat all over it.”

At that Malfoy barely supressed a laugh, though a chuckle still escaped before he could get a grip. Harry gave a brilliant smile.

Malfoy sure looks stunning.

His smile froze.

Oh no. oh no, no. no, no, no, no, no… oh shit… - I have a crush on him.

Oh,

Shit.

His panicked gaze turned from the Slytherin, still smiling contently at his homework, to Hermione, her look was worried and she shifted when her eyes met Harry’s panic-realization-horror look. Suddenly it felt like walls were closing in on him and, barely keeping his face in check, he got up hastily and left the common room as inconspicuously as possible.

Heading down the hallway he heard Artemis calling after him but he only waved his hand dismissingly not being able to collect his thoughts enough for a conversation.

It seemed he had two choices – tell Malfoy how he felt and have him hate him forever or never talk to him again or something even worse.

No. Better friends than rivals again.

The other choice was to ignore his feelings and hope they go away. That seems like a good idea, he decided.

In the next week and a half he made sure he was busy at all times – he did his homework till late hours, was first to come and last to leave Quidditch practices. At all times he tried to distract himself from the ache in his heart. He tried to hang with his friends as much as possible and tried to act normal around Malfoy.

In evenings he exhausted collapsed in his bed hoping to fall asleep right away. No such luck – he tossed and turned, thinking about Malfoy and his dammed face, cursed laugh and magnificent arse, how was it even humanly possible to look that good? He wanted to scratch his eyes out sometimes.

When he finally did fall asleep he was met by hordes of nightmares and soon startled awake again sweaty and panting, his brain full of accusing screams and faces.

In addition McGonagall had approved of Hermione’s idea and now in every common room hung a poster announcing ‘Duelling club’ every Saturday. It wasn’t mandatory, but most of the school had signed up as it was organised by eight years.

The idea was that the older students would help the younger ones and eight years would give tasks and in all monitor what was happening. And once a month there were going to be adventure games in teams from 4 – each needed to include students from all houses.

Harry, Ron, Hermione and a bunch of other eight years were in charge of all the students who had been divided in five groups. And one teacher and madam Pomfrey was to be available at all times.

First Saturday had went as good as expected, nobody killed or injured anyone. That was thanks to the very harsh suspension rules and also because at least three professors were watching everyone like hawks at all times. It had felt horribly tense and strained.

The great hall had been transformed for this purpose and all the tables were gone. People had been divided in pairs not by their houses but still minding their ages. It had been a huge work and Harry didn’t appreciate the many annoyed people coming up to him and trying to change partners as theirs weren’t to their taste.

Harry spent the whole day running around and correcting other people’s spells and moves. He was surprised himself how easy it was to show how to do things the right way even if he couldn’t for the love of it explain the basis of that spell. Hermione called it his natural instinct.

Despite having breaks for lunch and dinner, Harry felt like he had been in a nonstop duel all day. And, oh Merlin, was he exhausted.

Harry being one of the main organizers of the DC, and him being the Quidditch captain, led to him barely getting enough sleep to function properly and he seemed to show up for breakfast later and later with every day. But on the upper hand he was so exhausted that he actually did fall asleep right after closing his eyes, sometimes not in his bed.

 

Chapter Text

It was an early Sunday morning and Draco was walking down the stairs to the common room. He hadn’t been sleeping properly again. He rarely remembered his dreams, but he still woke up frozen in fear. He hated the feeling so he had started to walk around the school to take his mind off of things.

He yawned and stretched his back, all of his body felt sore from the Quidditch practice and the duelling yesterday.

And I only did it for two hours, Potter must be… exhausted, he thought as his eyes landed on the couch by the fire.

Speak of the devil, there he was. A quill in his hand, unfinished essay lying on the floor and a couple of books open on the table in front of him. Harry was snoring lightly, his head lying on the headrest, looking peaceful.

He looks cute – oh shut it! You’re supposed to be a Slytherin.

Malfoy frowned and dismissed his clearly still nightmare-ish mind despite feeling a tinge of sadness creep its way back into his thoughts. I’m not talking to myself. No, not in a million years.

He wanted to quietly leave the common room, but a loud noise startled him before he realized that he had stepped on something. He tensed with a faint hope that that wouldn’t wake the Gryffindor up.

No such luck, Harry startled awake, his head fluttering violently around, glasses awkwardly crooked on his face.

Malfoy sighed. Magnificent.

It wasn’t like he didn’t want to hang with Potter but for the last week the Gryffindor had been acting slightly amiss, and he could certainly do with a rest, with every day he looked more and more like a crazy person, either jumping around, being hyperactive or barely keeping his eyes open.

“Morning, scar-head,” he said acting as if he had meant to wake him up.

“Morning… Malfoy.” Harry clenched his teeth ‘almost called him Draco’ that had been a struggle for the last couple of days.

“Was the couch comfortable?”

“Could have been worse,” he murmured tiredly and fell back pushing his glasses up on his forehead and rubbing his eyes. “But not much.”

“Maybe you should try sleeping in your actual bed sometimes,” Draco lazily leaned on the couch and looked down at the sleepy Gryffindor still pressing palms against his face: “You know they are available. I’ve seen you sleeping at the breakfast table, in class, on your broom and in –”

But the Gryffindor didn’t let him finish and uncovered his eyes.

“I’ve never slept on my broom, Malfoy! Never. Never… maybe I should try…” he shook his head, “Don’t put dumb ideas in my brain. Hermione says I’m practically defenceless and highly suggestible when tired,” he recited, then looked up at the blue haired boy and lost himself in his bright eyes. He counted to three and then forced his eyes to move letting out an unhappy breath.

“Sure, sure.” Malfoy was dazzled, Potter’s eyes were sleepy, but so strikingly green. Then he looked away and Malfoy felt like he had been deprived of something. Annoying.

“So what are you doing up?” Harry asked sitting up and putting his feet on the ground, his back to the Slytherin.

“Just enjoying a morning stroll in the sunshine.”

“It’s still dark outside.” Harry pointed out, leaning on the back of the couch, resting his head. Malfoy was still standing behind him.

“Well, in the starlight then.”

“It’s cloudy.”

Draco scowled sarcastically.

You don’t say?” then he seemed to rethink and continued sternly. “Nightmares, Potter, I can’t sleep,” ending with a fake – “Happy?”

“Yes, very,” he answered in the same exaggerated tone.

Malfoy rolled his eyes and crossed his arms.

“Well, I will still go for that walk now in the darkness of the empty hallways.”

“Do as you wish, but I would recommend playing cards. Helps against all kinds of nightmares.”

“Does it? Well, I guess it wouldn’t hurt.”

They played a game of cards and Harry lost miserably, he wrote that off on his lack of sleep. They started a second game when Harry kept getting the most ridiculous cards – the worst of the worst. Finally frustrated he hit the table too harshly and cards shot up in the air and landed all over them.

Draco laughed and threw his own cards in the air too. He then put his feet on the table and laid his head on the back of the couch.

Harry mirrored his position and they talked about something neither of them could remember later. And when they got too mingled up in their own thoughts they just sat in silence enjoying not being alone.

The next time Harry opened his eyes he felt his neck and back uncomfortably arched. He moved his head slightly and with a jolt realized that he had been leaning on somebody’s shoulder.

He straightened himself hurriedly and mumbled an apology, but the other boy didn’t budge, his head turned to the side, pale pink lips parted and his chest rising and falling evenly. Harry wanted nothing more than to snuggle closer to him and sleep till he wouldn’t feel as dead tired anymore.

But he couldn’t.

No.

First off Draco didn’t like him the way Harry liked him, second he was terrified because what if something would happen to Draco because he was Harry’s friend. What if his housemates would curse him? Or his family disown him?

Besides he never did any good for his friends – Hermione had to make her parents forget her, Ron almost lost numerous of his family’s members, Tonks and Remus are dead, Teddy left without parents and all the other people now hunted by the horrible memories of the war.

He didn’t want any of that for Draco. So he needed to keep his distance.

He slouched forwards putting his elbows on his knees and grabbed his head in his hands. It was the right thing to do, but damn, did it hurt.

He thought about the possibility of leaving school to not cause harm to anyone. He was a bother to everyone anyways. Besides why would he be allowed to be happy? He didn’t deserve that, not when Colin Creevey was dead and would never see his brother again.

Not when Teddy would grow up never seeing his mother’s nose changing into a snort.

At the thought about Teddy and memories about Tonks’s behaviour made Harry scrunch his eyes up to prevent tears from falling.

Why was the world so unfair? Nobody deserved to be slaughtered or be oppressed because of their blood.

Harry pressed his fingertips against his eyelids and sighed, being on a verge of exploding in anger at the cruel world and himself for not saving everyone.

How can he go about his daily life if so many won’t ever get the chance again? And the helplessness…

I can’t do anything! he grabbed his face tighter.

I can’t save any of them anymore.

Then he relaxed his hands.

But I will protect everyone else! That I can. I will never let any harm come to people around me. Never ever again.

He rubbed his face and righted his glasses on his nose then looking at the other boy, surprised to meet two silver eyes staring back at him. The first sunrays hit the Slytherin’s face and made his eyes glisten, he scrunched up his face and turned so that the sun wouldn’t hit his face directly.

Shame he doesn’t like me.

“Potter…” Malfoy started not finishing his thought.

“What?” he said part of his brain filled with faint hope of something.

“Did you drool on me?” Malfoy asked annoyed before anything soppy could escape his mouth. The fact that he had just had the most relaxing hour of sleep in the last month was a fact Potter was never going to know.

“I doubt that,” he said yawning and stretching his hands above his head.

“Whatever… No, look, I literally have drool on my shoulder-”

“I’ve got no clue how it got there,” he said not meeting Slytherin's eyes and trying to find a reason to change the subject.

“Potter. Honestly. If you use me as a pillow you could at least not ruin my clothes.”

“Didn’t do it – oh look, a hippogriff,” he exclaimed and with a move of his wand dried the insignificant drool while Draco was looking the other way.

“What – oh I see, Potter, trying to curse me while my back is turned. Low, low.”

“I wasn’t… whatever. What time it is?” he put his wand away and stood up.

“I would say it’s about seven in the morning.”

“Okay, I will go take a shower. Wanna go flying later?”

“It’s cold.”

“Afraid to freeze off your royal face, Malfoy?” Harry teased.

“Fine, then.” He seemed hesitant and Harry stilled.

“You don’t have to. It’s fine. Sorry, I asked.”

“Are you backing down? I thought, nothing could frighten our saviour,” Malfoy said with a small smile.

“Okay. You’re so on. I will crush you.” Harry smiled wholeheartedly.

“Ohh, I would like to see that.”

Harry went up the stairs hurriedly, skipping every other step, took a quick shower, and put on clean clothes. Then he found his old cloak and put it over his jumper and dark pants, he pulled on his worn boots and took his broom.

He found Draco still sitting in the same spot.

“You’re not going to take your broom?”

Malfoy was sitting looking comfortable and smug as always.

“I thought later – meant later.” He looked up at Harry. “What the hell are you wearing?”

Harry confused looked down. “What?” he pulled at his cloak and adjusted the collar slightly. “What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s ancient for one thing. And second – it doesn’t even fit you. God, you would think the person who defeated the Dark Lord would have at least some kind of fashion sense.”

“Well, was I supposed to just overwhelm him with my glinting cloaks and hope he feels intimidated?” Harry puffed, he still hadn’t gone proper clothes shopping since destroying his wardrobe.

“Well, don’t look so miserable Potter, I can give you one of mine,” he offered before he could register that that was highly un-Malfoy like.

“Really?” Harry looked up.

“Phh… Sure. I think I have one that would look okay on you.” He was only making sure that Potter would be presentable, he wasn’t being nice. No.

“Thank you.”

Malfoy shook his head and Accio-ed two cloaks alongside his broom.

“I would be ashamed to be seen with you in that.”

“- And I was just going to say that you’re weirdly nice today.”

“Malfoys are never nice.” He picked up one of the dark cloaks and shook it. “Try this one.”

Harry put his broom down, removed his cloak and took the one Draco was handing him. It was light and fluffy, but, despite that, it felt twice as warm as Harry’s. He put it on and tried to close the snap, but his fingers mingled and he couldn’t.

“You’re pathetic,” Malfoy stated and stepped forward to close it for him.

Harry removed his hands and let Draco deal with the clasp. He turned his face away from the Slytherin standing in front of him. Too close for his comfort, but also too far for his liking.

“What -” The blue-haired boy didn’t seem to success immediately as well. Harry opened his mouth to comment on that but he couldn’t get a word over his lips when his eyes landed on the other. Draco’s eyes focused on what his fingers were doing, brows furrowed slightly, hair messy – some stuck in the air, one strand was on his pale cheek.

Harry’s thoughts were screaming to say something, to step away, to do something to stop his hand. Because his hand was moving. And it was not doing it with Harry’s consent.

Before he could do anything, it brushed the stray strand of Draco’s hair from his cheek.

Okay. Okay. That’s fine. I’m not dead. He won’t curse me for that. Surely. SURELY. I’m pretty sure.

Draco’s face was smooth, his hair soft and the look he gave Harry – utter bewilderment.

“I got it,” he said in a flat voice, still not sure what was happening.

Harry looked down. Draco’s fingers frozen over the now – closed clasp.

“Right.” He stepped away, willing the other not to comment. No wand? No curses. Okay okay okay, Huston, I think we might survive, after all.

The cloak was beautiful.

“Thank you, it’s -” he said in a strained voice, he coughed and tried again, “It’s very nice.”

Draco only looked at him with a blank face.

Harry felt like falling into abyss. What the hell had he done? Why did he have to mess up everything? He had only touched Draco’s cheek, that couldn’t be so bad. Not dead yet.

He looked at the other with big eyes not knowing what to do now.

Malfoy looked down and then at Harry again his face teasing.

“What? My un-made hair is so bad that even you had to try to fix it?”

“Erm. Yea. That’s exactly it. I can’t be seen around with someone who surpasses my unruly hair,” he started blabbering thankful that Draco wasn’t grossed out. Or at least wasn’t showing it. He probably was. He probably didn’t want to be anywhere close to Harry ever again. His heart was beating very fast, but his body relaxed and now he felt like crying, because some part of him had hoped. His eyes burned and he grabbed his broom trying to conceal his emotions. He turned barely missing the quiet response.

“It’s blue. I think that surpasses everything.” Draco put on his cloak and followed the Gryffindor who was heading out only giving him a shallow nod.

Draco was in shock. His mouth and body worked in autopilot while his brain was replaying the movement of Harry hand on his face over and over. It hadn’t been more than two seconds, but it had made his heart beat like crazy.

Why had Potter done that? Doesn’t matter, he looked terribly embarrassed about it, so it probably was something he had done unconsciously or something. Good thing Draco was a master at making up dumb excuses for dumb shit.

He shook his head. For a second before Potter had stepped away, he had hoped that he wouldn’t remove his hand. He had hoped so hard that Harry would say something and everything he wished for would come true – those two seconds had felt so hopeful. He had been about to burst into a smile as big as the sun, but before he could embarrass himself, it was all shattered when Harry looked away. Now he felt numb and raw.

It hadn’t even been anything! This shouldn’t affect him so much.

This was ridiculous – I am a Malfoy. Pureblood from an ancient family. I am a bloody Slytherin… and I have a crush on Harry Potter.

I need to sort this out as soon as possible.

In silence they exited the castle. Harry mounted his broom and shot in the sky, the wind was frigid and stung his face but he felt numb. Not looking back Harry started performing the most complicated maneuvers he knew so his mind would be distracted from his slip up. He was in the middle of a somersault when something hit his face. It had started to rain and drops felt like small rocks. It was freezing.

Soon his hair was soaked and was starting to stifle into icy lumps, his nose felt numb and he was afraid to move his fingers so they wouldn’t break off. He kept flying in the rain not sure where he was or where was the castle. I’m getting lost and I don’t care, he sang with his teeth chattering vigorously.

Wind was strong and he sometimes was swept up or sideways so suddenly that he could only grab his broom tighter and hope not to be thrown off of it. He didn’t see the earth or sky. What he saw was never ending rain and coldness. He shuddered and hurtled to do a nose dive.

He flew and flew but didn’t see the ground, the rain kept drenching him further and though Draco’s cloak was marvellous it too started to get damp, and the warmth soon completely left Harry’s body. He started to shudder violently. He felt like a soaked, cold lump of useless flesh and a cloud of upset thoughts kept nagging him. Because of the rain his glasses were useless, but he didn’t slow down, seeing only grey mist everywhere. Only thing he heard was rain hitting his back and swirling all around him. It was like he was alone in the whole wide world.

He shook his head.

Of course I’m not…

He looked around, and started landing, but the earth was nowhere to be seen. He was going quite fast and noticed the lake underneath him at the last moment, he turned his broom upwards and only his feet touched the raving water. He swept along the surface of the wild lake and hoped to reach the shore soon because his hands were going from burning cold to numb and no way was that a good thing. His body kept shivering like crazy and he could barely see anything.

After almost being plunged into the lake with a sudden wave he gained some height, but kept going in one direction wishing for it to be towards the castle.

The wind kept throwing him off course and he pushed to fly higher. He felt exhausted, of his thoughts, of the cold and the rain. He kept flying trying to find a place to land. Every muscle in his body was strained and tense.

Suddenly another flyer appeared next to him. The other one had a dark cloak and hair surging around his head. Draco.

He almost knocked Harry off of his broom when he flew by, then he turned abruptly and flew back, waving one hand around and seemingly shouting something, but his words were lost in the horrific wind. They were both constantly hauled in random directions – the wind didn’t subside nor did rain.

Draco’s posture still screamed that he was very cross, but Harry was so cold he couldn’t care right at that moment, he just felt glad that he was in fact not alone in this whirlwind of freezing water. So he waited out till Draco would shut up only the countless hours spent in the Quidditch pitch under Wood’s supervision in every ungodly weather still kept him on the broom.

The other seemed to realize that Harry was having none of his tirade and flew as close as possible and shouted in Harry's ear.

“Follow me, you dumb-arse.”

Harry complied and would have said something, but his teeth were clattering too much for any words to be understood. He started feeling sleepy, but, on the upper side, his hands didn’t burn anymore – he couldn’t feel them at all.

While they flew Harry didn’t turn his eyes away from the other’s back, and time to time Draco looked back to make sure Harry was keeping up.

What and idiot!’ and ‘I have to get him out of this rain,’ were the thoughts running through Draco’s head. His warming charms were running thin but he didn’t have the time to cast them again as Potter literally looked like he was about to fall off his broom like and ice statue – his lips blue and his hair frozen – it was a miracle he was still in the air.

Soon they landed on the shore and Draco immediately cast a charm to repel rain and wind from a nearby tree. Harry landed soon after him, but when his feet touched the muddy soil, they gave out and Harry collapsed on one knee. His muscles were painfully cold and strained, he let go of his broom and tried to move his arms, they were moving – at least he saw something moving through his watery glasses.

Malfoy cursed and helped Harry to get to the shelter and sat him down beside the trunk.

Harry felt sleepy he opened his mouth to thank Draco for finding him, but before he could say anything, Draco sent a spell in his direction. A wonderful sense of warmth enclosed Harry, he started rubbing his fingers and face. The cloak on his shoulders dried and kept Harry warm even after Draco stopped the spell.

“Wow. Thanks, Draco,” he said stretching, his boots were still damp, but he felt much warmer. Harry took out his wand. “I mean, Malfoy. Sorry.” He dried his boots with the thought – What the hell is wrong with me today? running through his head.

“No bloody problem, Potter,” he answered angrily watching the other dry the remaining of his clothes, Draco’s hair still drenched, water dripping on his shoulders.

He had lost the sight of Harry right after leaving the castle, because he had stopped to put some warming spells on himself, when he had looked up again the Gryffindor had been nowhere to be seen. So much for flying together. He had flown for a bit hoping that Harry would show up again, but the other seemed to have left him alone. When it started to rain Draco decided to take cover in the castle. Wondering whether Harry had also already landed, he cast a tracking spell that he had cast on his cloak ages ago for safety reasons or if it would get lost – not that he usually lost his clothes. That has never happened.

Nonetheless, the spell showed Harry still flying, Draco thinking that the other would soon land, sat under the roof and waited. He got lost in his thoughts and then realised that something must be wrong if Harry was still afloat in such a dreadful weather.

So he mounted his broom and found the careless Gryffindor flying in the entirely wrong direction. What a surprise.

Annoyed by the Gryffindor’s paranormal behaviour he had shouted at him for a minute, but realising, that the other must be freezing and didn’t hear anything anyways, decided to shout at him when they would both be warm and dry.

Now it was partially true - Harry looked dry and his face was returning to its normal colour, but Draco was still wet, cold water running down his back. He was angry that Harry had left him, but he was also angry with himself because had had gotten so worried about the Gryffindor. He disliked being dependent.

“Hoi, earth to Slytherin with blue hair. You okay?”

“I’m fine, scar-head,” he said annoyed and drying a patch of ground for him to sit on. He slouched down tired and sleepy.

“Why are you still drenched?”

“Because, Potter. That’s my hobby – being drenched and saving you from drowning.”

“Seriously?” Harry shook his head. What’s wrong? He lifted his wand and dried Slytherins clothes.

“Wow, Potter you’re sloppy. My hair is still wet.”

“Is it?” he walked over and put his hand on the other’s blue head. “Mhm, you’re right. Sorry.”

He cast the spell again and then sat down beside Draco who looked petrified.

“Potter?” it was a very strained question.

“I’m sorry, won’t touch your hair anymore.” Harry sighed he was relieved to be warm again and he wanted to be close to Draco.

“You’re…” he thought for a second, “an irresponsible Gryffindor,” he said very angrily.

“Wow... That’s like – the worst insult ever,” Harry said indifferently.

“Yea, I know,” Draco agreed “My brain is empty,” just minutes ago he had been raving at Potter, but now the things, that the wind had carried away, seemed hallow and stupid to say out loud again.

They decided to wait out the worst of the rain or go back to be on time for breakfast, but now to just rest. Draco conjured a flame and placed it in front of them. Harry took off his glasses and wiped them in his cloak, when he put them back on his nose, his eyes focused on two silvery eyes looking at him. Maybe just maybe, Malfoy did like him. I mean he did come for me. But he had looked weirded out when Harry touched his hair. Harry felt irritated and kicked a branch lying in front of him, it fell in to the flame and made a loud hissing noise.

“Potter,” Malfoy snapped irritated, his grim thoughts interrupted.

“Yes?” Harry replied innocently, pretending to not have done anything.

“What did you do that for?”

“I didn’t do nothing,” he said throwing a wet pinecone at Malfoy, missing his face only by inches.

“Potter!”

“What?” he said throwing something else in the fire, that sent sparks flying and made them both move away from the flames.

“Stop fidgeting around and kicking stuff! You’re insufferable.”

“Oii, Malfoy! That hurt my feelings.” Harry pretended to be stabbed in the chest and fell on his side.

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Draco leaned to look at Harry whose back was turned.

He was just lying there on the ground smiling, turning on his back as he felt Draco leaning over him.

“I’m not, I think I will need some time to recover. Me and insufferable! That’s something I’m not used to hearing, unlike you, perhaps.”

“What? Me! I’ll show you.” He took out his wand preparing to curse the Gryffindor lying on the ground beneath him. But before he could, Harry rolled to side jumping on his feet away from Malfoy and took out his wand as well.

“Cursing the opponent while he is on the ground. How very noble, Mr Malfoy.”

“Well, you fell on the ground yourself, it would have been stupid,” he sent a disarming charm at Harry. “Not to use the opportunity,” he finished avoiding the same charm flying back at him.

“So you’re claiming you’re not stupid?” Harry asked jumping to the side and pointing his wand at the other.

“Well, scar-head, I, at least, remember to put warming spells on myself before going flying,” he answered ducking.

They banted back and forth, exchanging minor curses and successfully vanishing all the remains of cold. Their cloaks constricted their movements so one after the other they ended up in careless piles on the ground covered with wet leaves. It seemed like nobody was going to get the upper hand, when suddenly Harry’s wand was yanked out of his hand.

He didn’t think twice and, before Malfoy could overcome his surprise, Harry was already tackling him to the ground. Malfoy, who hadn’t expected for this fight to become physical, let out a surprised yelp and tried to curse the boy on top of him on the way down. Unfortunately Harry had knocked all the air out of Draco’s lungs so nothing more than a gasp escaped Draco’s mouth.

They both crashed in the mud, Harry lying half on top of Draco, one of his hands clasped around Draco’s wrist to constrict his wand hand.

Draco unsatisfied with the outcome, showed Harry with his free hand and threw him on the ground placing himself on top of the Gryffindor’s torso. He pointed his wand to Harry’s face and grinned victoriously.

“Surrendering, Potter?”

“Never,” he said, grabbing Draco’s wand and jerking it out of the Slytherins grip. He smiled at Draco’s surprised face and threw the wand away.

“That’s not fair!” he said, grabbing Harry’s hands and pinning them on both sides of his head. His breath was heavy but he was fighting a smile looking down at the overpowered Gryffindor.

“Life is rarely fair,” Harry said, his voice quiet.

“Admit it. I won.”

“You… well…” Harry bit his tongue. He hadn’t actually planed on losing. Or ending in such position – him between Draco’s legs.

“Come on, Potter, I won’t let you go, if you don’t admit that I defeated you.”

Harry wanted to say that he doesn’t mind staying here. Draco was a pleasant weight on his stomach, and his arms were warm against his wrists, not to even mention his face beaming above Harry with the most beautiful victorious smile.

“Fine, erm… you…mighthavewonthistime,” he murmured flushed, his head turned to the side.

“What? Nobody can hear you.” Malfoy leaned closer.

Harry lifted his head and looked in to Draco’s eyes.

“You won,” he said, being painfully aware of how close their faces were.

“Yes, I did,” Draco echoed, releasing Harry’s hands and moving to get off of him, but, before he could, Harry grabbed his neck and pulled him back down.

Draco looked at Harry startled and was about to ask what’s up with his forlorn face, but before he got the chance, Harry closed his eyes and timidly pressed his lips to Draco’s.

Harry didn’t open his eyes, if he would, Draco would see that he was scared shitless. He couldn’t stop himself, he had to kiss those perfect lips still smiling about his victory. It had been so fun fighting and exchanging witty insults, it was just great with Draco. He could not worry and be free even if just for a minute.

Draco’s mouth felt mild and frozen in a confused half smirk and Harry was about to let Draco go, his heart aching.

Gryffindor’s hand was holding Draco’s neck, but if he decided, he could easily break away, all he had to do was push Harry to the ground and leave. But why? It felt so good, Harry’s lips were soft and warm, his touch send pleasant shivers down Draco’s back.

Draco let go of the part in his brain that was warning him about the dangers and answered the kiss.

Harry’s heart jumped, when he felt Draco’s mouth responding to the kiss. He almost laughed, but conceded with just a big smile and another kiss on Draco’s lips. He put his hand on Draco’s waist and tangled his other hand in to his blue, silky hair. He opened his eyes and met Draco’s looking back.

“How did you know?” Draco asked, his voice about to break. The rational part of his brain had resumed its work. Harry must have somehow realized that Draco liked him, and now was either pitying him or using him to get off. Witch neither was appealing to him. He should leave and pretend this never happened, he should forget the warmth of Harry’s hands on his waist and hair.

“Know what?” Harry was smiling so happily and openly, his face confused, Draco almost decided to go along with it, but he knew better. Nothing good could ever come out of this. This was simply not the way it worked. You didn’t get to have a happy ever after with the saviour of the wizarding world, not even if that was the thing you wanted more than anything. You got a pity kiss or sex, and then years of scar-licking and therapy, because the golden boy got tired of you.

“Exactly, Potter! Know what. What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he roughly pushed the confused Gryffindor in to the mud on the ground and got up. He walked over to his cloak and picked it up alongside his wand. He hurled the cloak around himself, fastened the clasp, and looked back at Harry, who was still on the ground, looking utterly baffled.

“I –” he opened his mouth but nothing sensible came out.

“If you want to get off, find some dogmatic Hufflepuff and they will do anything you want them to. I am not in your league. Not even close.” He turned swiftly, his cloak swirling and went out from under the gigantic tree. His broom soon followed him and he disappeared in the rain.

~~~

Wind had stopped.

The rain was still going at it tough.

Harry was lying on the cool ground. His hands spread, fingers digging in the wet leaves.

Draco’s spell was still in effect and not one rain drop could penetrate the invisible dome. His eyes were searching for something in the patterns of the rain, tree’s movements and leaves falling above him.

Suddenly the spell was broken and a wall of rain hit Harry square in the face, he inhaled abruptly and sat up, shivering.

He felt so cold and heartbroken and confused. Why had Malfoy kissed him back, only to then ask him a weird question, and then scoff, and walk away? Why? why? Why?

I am not in your league. Not even close. He hard those words over, and over, and over, and over.

Of course he wasn’t. Harry smirked bitterly rain soaking him through again, why had he thought anything different? Why had Draco kissed him back?

He wanted to lay down and to just grow one with the tree, and to never face anything remotely as heart-breaking ever again. But he knew he couldn’t.

Harry gathered his strength and got up. He picked up his drenched cloak and gripped it tightly. Why had Malfoy given it to him, if he disliked him as much?

Why…

He put it over his arm and picked up his broom, then he left the damned tree and didn’t look back once. By the time he reached the castle, the rain was finally subsiding.

He entered, crossed the Entrance hall and started dragging himself up the stairs. It seemed like everyone was in the Great hall having a grand time at breakfast. That was good. That meant the Common room was going to be empty.

After what felt like hours of floundering around the halls in his doused boots, he finally reached Artemis’ portrait.

“My Lord! Another one. Harry, are you feeling well? You look terrific.”

“I – I’m – I am just fine,” he forced and lifted his eyes trying to smile.

“Harry, honey, please, you don’t look okay.”

“Mockingbird, Artemis,” he said in a tired voice.

“Please, rest or something.” She fussed and opened the entrance. “Teenagers, these days! I swear…”

Harry gladly entered the familiar surroundings. As spending time with hundreds of people in the Great hall was the last thing he wanted to do he decided to skip breakfast and go to his room instead.

Not even close…

He pushed himself up the stairs and was about to close the door after him, when a cold voice stopped him.

“Ah, Potter! Wait.”

Harry straightened his back and blanked his face as well as he could. He turned, looking at Draco, who was walking from the other side of the narrow hallway. He wanted to retort, but he feared that his voice might give out, as he felt like vomiting, and screaming, and falling face down on the floor all at the same time.

“Can I get my cloak back?”

Harry extended the cloak in his direction, Draco took it and lifted to see it better.

“Wow, and I wondered how you ruined that cloak so badly, but look! You successfully ruined this one too. Potter’s got talent.” He smirked at his own smart words and looked at Harry, but the Gryffindor only furrowed his brows and shut the door sharply.

Draco clenched the fist holding the cloak and almost hit the wall next to the darned door, but he got a hold of himself and instead he grabbed the cloak with all of his strength and forcefully walked back to his room.

Damn, Potter, thinking he could just go around having anyone.

Only… that wasn’t what he usually did. As unpleasant it was to admit, Potter had never really abused his power and influence. Wanting a fling with a blue-haired dude hadn’t seemed to be on his bucket list, but who really knows? And what other explanation could there possibly be? Malfoy was not a person that Harry could fall for, not in a million years. That left two other things – pity or casual sex. Both not things that Draco was about to involve in.

What did he want then? A happy ever after?

When the fuck did my brain got melted?

He groaned irritably and threw himself on his bed. The cloak in his hands smelled like wet leaves and rain. Not a snippet off Harry.

He threw it away unhappily. Emotions were overflowing. Harry hadn’t even said a word to him. Was a fling all Harry wanted form him? Really? But then why he had taken such a long time to make his move?

Why? Why? Why was the world so unfair?

After a couple of hours marinating in his own thoughts he was on the verge of crying. Feeling so desperate that the only thing holding him back from going to Harry and being his dogmatic slave, was that he was pretty sure he would start crying halfway through, and that was embarrassment he would not to survive.

So he stayed, rolled over on his back, then stomach and then back again. Nothing was comfortable, nothing was enjoyable. He wanted to stop feeling all together.

He could just go to Harry and do – whatever, then he could at least be with him for some time… because he couldn’t live like this.

But cry-sex… Oh, Merlin, no.

Draco rolled over once more and covered his face with his hands trying to calm his heartbeat – it hurt. Every single one. It hurt like he was being stabbed with a million tiny, razor-sharp knifes.

He looked in the direction of the window and recalled how once he had been surprised by a beet-red Gryffindor standing there, clutching his broom and looking horribly embarrassed.

Did he ruin their friendship? Should have he just went along with whatever Potter wanted? But he was not some low-life pathetic tosser. He wasn’t fling material. He wasn’t. He wasn’t.

No, he wasn’t. If that’s all Potter wanted that would be the last thing Draco would do.

 

Chapter Text

Harry was still lying on his bed staring in one point, but not seeing much, when Ron entered.

“Hey, mate. Didn’t see you at breakfast. Aren’t you hungry?” he asked approaching his bed.

Harry blinked, but he couldn’t for the love of it get a word out of his mouth.

Ron started searching for something in his trunk.

“It’s blamey cold outside, and raining too, horrible weather,” he mussed around. “I swear I put them somewhere here...”

Harry tried to answer, there were things you were supposed to say if you were talked to about weather, but nothing came out. He just laid there trying to order his thoughts, he looked at his friend briefly, but then adverted his eyes, hoping to be left alone, but also dreading loneliness.

“Here they are!” Ron pulled out a pair of gloves. “Okay, well, Hermione and I are going to Hogsmeade...”

He turned to leave but at the last second his eyes met Harry’s and he stopped in his tracks.

“Harry?” he dropped the gloves on his bed and approached his friend, “Harry, what’s wrong?”

Harry desperately looked at Ron.

“Bloody hell, Harry, what is it?” Redhead sat down on Harry’s bed and motioned for Harry to sit up. His friend looked pale, his eyes desperate, he winced in sympathy even though he didn’t even know what’s wrong yet.

Harry pulled himself up and faced his friend who was looking at him with a worried look.

“I...” his brain was a mush, “he doesn’t like me…” he said barely louder than a whisper, his eyes filled with tears and he looked at Ron.

Redhead put his hand on Harry’s shoulders.

“He. Doesn’t like you?” he asked trying to calm his friend who was breathing unevenly, “what are we talking here?” he thought about who, the hell, wouldn’t like Harry. “We talking Malfoy?” he tried to joke.

Harry let out a whimper and looked at Ron, a couple of tears rolled down his cheeks.

“Oi, shit.” Ron grabbed Harry tighter and bit his tongue at his bad timed jokes. So Harry liked Malfoy. And the git hurt him. Well, he was going to regret that.

“Harry, I’m sorry…”

“-RONALD WEASLEY! I swear!” a voice shouted from behind the door, then a furious witch threw them open and entered the room. “You come up here to find gloves and –” she stopped shouting abruptly, seeing what was happening.

“Harry, what’s wrong?” she slammed the door shut and rushed over to Harry’s bed.

“Malfoy doesn’t like him,” Ron said quietly.

“What?” Hermione asked shocked. She sat on the other side of Harry and hugged him.

His eyes were dry, but the ache in his chest didn’t go away. Harry clenched his hand in his shirt and tried to calm his breath.

What the hell do you think you’re doing?

And he started breathing unevenly again.

“Harry. Harry. Harry…”

His friends were here. He should calm himself.

“Harry… Harry…”

…Harry Harry…Harry…Harry, Harry… Harr–

“YES! THAT’S MY NAME. IT DOESN’T CHANGE ANYTHING!” he screamed at his friends before he could stop himself.

They both sat surprised, looking at Harry, who had jumped to his feet.

“I’m sorry…”

“No worries. Are you feeling better?” Hermione asked cautiously.

“Yea?” Harry stated very unconvincingly, but his shout had shaken him up so his breath was more even now.

“No need to bullshit us, mate,” Ron threw a look at Hermione and they mutely agreed to stay with Harry.

“So… What do you want to do?” Hermione turned to Harry.

Harry slouched back between them.

“Nothing, I don’t care, I -”

“Okay, then! We are playing something called Cards against Wizardity. Fred and George sent it to me recently,” Ron said enthusiastically.

Hermione smiled as her boyfriend scrambled over to find the game in his trunk, she could tell he was trying to make Harry at least smile by being as childish as possible.

Harry sat on his bed uninterested, he appreciated his friends trying to cheer him up, but right now it felt like nothing would be okay ever again. Hermione reached over and put her hand on Harry’s squeezing a little. He looked at her thankfully, at least he wasn’t alone.

They spent the next hours playing the dreadful game, to boys’ surprise Hermione was brilliant at the game and occasionally made them squirm uneasy with the mental images she provided. As Ron had declared that he wouldn’t go to lunch without him, Harry was now following them down the corridors to the Great Hall.

Harry felt uneasy all the way to the doors of the Great hall. Malfoy probably has already told everyone what a freak Harry Potter is – trying to molest people in bright daylight.

But when they entered no more faces than usual seemed to look at them.

Harry sternly didn’t look over to the Slytherins table, not wanting to see the blue-haired one sitting indifferently and eating the bloody lemon cake that was his favourite. He sat down between his friends and tried to choose what food wouldn’t make him throw up. He settled for a glass of juice.

“G’arry, you ought to gh’eat somethi-ugh,” Ron suggested his mouth full with potatoes and Hermione reached over to flick him over the head.

“I’m not hungry.”

“Harry you didn’t eat breakfast. You really should eat something.” Hermione passed him a tray with pasta.

Harry sighed, but his stomach was tight and his mouth dry, and any thought about food, going down without a fight, seemed impossible.

“I really can’t…” he was interrupted when a girl squeezed between him and Hermione and started talking very fast.

“Hi! Harry, you looking pale, well, so, I was having the time of my life and then -”

And then she leaned forward and kissed him straight on the mouth. It was just a peck on his lips, but he felt all his insides twist. He pushed the girl away and got up.

“– and then, you see, my good friend dared me…” she kept chitchatting like everyone was listening and grabbed a cookie from the table. Munching down on it she looked at the girl sitting next to her and froze. Hermione opened her mouth, but before she could hex her, the talkative girl hurriedly jumped out of the seat and ran off to her girlfriends giggling.

Hermione looked after her with cold eyes. These kinds of things happened occasionally, but it had been quite the time since the last time so she had hoped that it wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

Besides did it really had to happen when Harry was so upset? Maybe they shouldn’t have dragged him here with all the people.

~ ~~~ ~

Draco was having the time of his life. As he had skipped the diner last night and breakfast this morning, he had no choice, but to drag himself out of his bed, and go tame the raging animal that was hunger.

So he was going down to the Great hall, trying to avoid people like the plague. He got to the doors and the first thing he saw when he looked inside was some girl snogging Harry. Draco turned on his heel and started walking in the opposite direction, the beast in his stomach not bothering him anymore. It had probably sank together with Draco’s feelings because now he only thing he could feel was desperation.

Well, Potter sure moved on fast. Draco winced, and was about to sit down in an empty hallway far away from the Great hall, when he heard a screech of some poor animal and unpleasant laughs.

He rounded a corner and entered a classroom. Bob and Henk were trying to catch an owl that was evading them by flying above their heads. It was a black owl and it seemed very distraught.

“Hei, you – blond monkeys. Why don’t you leave that pathetic bird alone?” Malfoy called. His many irrational emotional thoughts overflew his probably only sensible thought – that fighting was probably not the wisest idea – and decided to let out some of his frustration and anger on these two poor excuses for wizards.

Right at that moment one of the gorilla-like blondes hit the bird with a stunning charm, it collapsed and the other picked it up by the leg.

“Nice.” They high-fived and turned to Malfoy.

“Good job, Bob. Henk,” the voice came from behind and Malfoy stepped not to be with his back to anyone, his caution came little too late though. He felt a body-bind constrict him as he was reaching for his wand.

“Well, well, who do we have here?” Karl sneered at Malfoy, pointing his lopsided wand at his chest, “sneaky, sneaky Slytherin… what should we do with you?”

Draco was boiling with rage. The asshole Gryffindors had no right to touch him, he would have answered with a well-deserved threat, but he couldn’t move his jaw. Unfortunately, as stupid as the blonde was, his charms weren’t half as bad.

“Let’s kick his butt!” Bob snarled and pointed his wand at Malfoy who felt a punch in his gut.

“Oh, yea!” Henk agreed and flared a curse witch caused the bound Slytherin to fly out the open doors past Karl and crash in the opposite stone wall. The main Gryffindor snickered and came out in the hallway.

To Slytherin’s luck the crash with the wall had loosened the body-bind and gave Draco’s magic the opportunity to spark and dissipate the curse completely. He didn’t waste time getting up and cursed Bob straight in the chest, smiling victoriously, but Karl also wasn’t the one to waste time, and, growling at his friend’s misfortune, furiously muttered a curse that hit Malfoy in the arm.

Draco’s arm constricted and he grabbed it grunting in pain.

“You pathetic, half-arsed Gryffindor scum, I…” he didn’t get to finish as Henk turned away from his fallen friend and sent a spell hurling straight into Draco’s chest. He put up a shield, but, with his right arm useless, it was weak, and he could feel a bruise forming on his ribs. His breath caught in his lungs, and he gasped flopping down on his stomach.

Karl approached and kicked Draco’s wand away from his reaching hands. He crouched down, twirling his wand in his fingers and sneered:

“Draco, Draco… you should really learn to mind your own business.”

“I would, but…” he gasped when a curse that felt like an ice-cold blade sinking in his flesh, enjoying its way to the bone, hit him in the leg.

“We didn’t allow you to speak…” Bob growled his wand pointing at Draco’s leg.

Malfoy breathed in through his nose and continued despite the pain: “I would, but the stupidity of your comrades is irritating me, so I really had to…”

Henk also lifted his wand and Malfoy felt a flaring hot sensation on his foot, he would have continued to snarl as his anger was enormous, but Karl stuck his wand against Draco’s chin in a warning manner.

“Now, now, who do you call stupid?”

“The three of you. I would say stupid is a weak word though.”

“Would you now?” Karl pressed the wand deeper and Malfoy was forced to advert his eyes from the blue of his offender.

“Hei, Karl,” Henk seemed to have gotten an idea in his thick scull witch struck Draco as surprising.

“No way! The monkey can talk. I…”

Bob murmured the curse and another cold blade pierced Draco’s skin, at least that what it felt like – there was no blood though. He bit his tongue to keep himself from crying out in pain. That was definitely a nerve.

“Yes, Henk?” Karl turned away from Malfoy, panting on the ground, and looked at Henk.

“Remember that new spell you found?” he was beaming in hope that he would get to try it out.

“Of course, you recon we should test it out?”

“Yes, yes.”

“But we should go in the classroom, wouldn’t be good if we got caught.”

“Yes, yes.” Bob motioned Draco with his wand, releasing the painful cold spells and grinning widely.

“Why don’t you give me my wand back, and we will settle this as mature people,” Malfoy bit out, getting up, aware that he was being used as a try-out and being positively about to explode from anger.

“Ah! But that’s the thing, isn’t it? You’re not one of the people…. You’re a Death Eater and you’re worth nothing,” Karl spat his voice disgusted and enraged, but his eyes filled with complete conviction that he was doing the right thing.

Draco looked away, it was the look he had seen in many eyes, Death Eater eyes.

What the fuck? How have I gotten in a position where three dumb bloody Gryffindors have me overpowered?  Today was a bad day. First Harry…

And that was it, he stopped caring at all. His fist collided with Henk’s or Bob’s or whoever’s gut and he heard a satisfying grunt from his target.

“Woohow! Hold you horses, snake.” Karl barked pointing his wand at Malfoy and making him squirm in pain.

His head felt like it was about to explode and only thing he could see were green eyes in a sea of black misery. But he isn’t coming.

Nobody is.

The pain dissipated and Draco came to his senses already inside the classroom, Bob was closing the door while Karl and Hank were laughing about something.

When Draco focused on what was so amusing, he growled with hatred towards the cruel assholes in front of him. The black owl, that they had caught, was now crammed in a tiny cage, and they were pulling at its wings, owl was hooting desperately and trashing around, but incapable to escape.

“Hei! Pricks! I didn’t quite catch that,” he said forcing himself up right from the position on the floor.

“I just said – let’s do it and then go to lunch. I’m starving.” He grabbed the cage and hurled it across the room, with a pained hoot it landed on the floor.

Draco winced, his arm was numb, his knuckles were bleeding, but all in all it could be worse, he planned to wait until they would come closer, and then punch one of them again, but, before he could, the three Gryffindors lifted their wands simultaneously, and said a curse he had never heard before.

At first nothing happened, then a small tinge poked at his shoulder blades, then another one, and another. Then it pressed deeper, piercing his robes and skin, this time also blood trickled down his back.

All of his back was burning with pain, he pressed his palms against the floor and yelped in pain.

“Wohaa! It’s even better, than I thought it would be!”

They admired their curse’s work with loud cheers and then cast it again.

The needles sank deeper in to Draco’s back. The sensation was overwhelming, and he let out a cry. Then he bit his tongue and grinned a mad gin.

“What you grinning about, Death Eater? Can’t wait to join your master in hell?” Karl asked approaching and taking one of the needles out, looking at the blood drenching Slytherin’s back.

“I… I may be going to hell, but it’s you, who is more like Voldemort.” He surprised himself by saying the Dark Lord’s name, but the pain was too much for him to think clearly at all.

Karl didn’t appreciate the opinion and dug the needle back in to his back – deep and being sure not to be neat about it. Draco squirmed, screaming in pain, his eyes started going black and white, his head going around, back burning, hands incapable to move and legs struck again with the ice-cold daggers.

He coughed out blood and tried to think desperately of something to do. But all he could think about was giving up. And why not? He had nothing – no one.

Draco!

Oi crap, He thought. That was his mother. It wouldn’t be good to give in. That was not what Malfoys did. Malfoys found a way out.

Draco forced his eyes open and turned his head, his hands were covered in his blood, still flowing from his back. He clenched his hands in to fists and got up on his knees.

“Ohh, look we have a live one!” one of the Gryffindors laughed and the pain on Draco’s back intensified.

He desperately tried to stand up, but the pain only kept growing, and growing, and growing…

Tears started flowing from his eyes, and he kept biting his tongue and cheeks to stop the screams from escaping his mouth.

“Come on, sweetie, let us hear you sing,” Henk called and redirected his magic to Draco’s head.

Hooting from the hurt bird was distraught and irregular, Draco stopped trying to get up and just willed for the pain to end.

He screamed until his throat was sore, but he didn’t seem to be able to lose his consciences. Somewhere in his traumatized mind he decided it was part of his torment. The blond torturers had started taking turns calling him crude names and kicking him in the gut.

How am I still alive? was the thought ringing in Draco’s ears again and again.

After what seemed like ages, he was left alone on the stinging cold stone in a puddle of his own blood.

Draco was lying on his side, his back throbbing with excruciating pain as nobody had bothered to take out the needles. 

Hooting continued and he slowly regained his capacity to think more or less clearly. He needed to move or he would die. Bleed out here and never achieve what he wanted.

What do I want? 

Not die, that's for sure. 

Even though it would end the pain.

And not kiss a certain green-eyed Gryffindor. 

No.

So he slowly tried shift himself, but even the slightest movement of his hands send a wave of pain through his backside.

Owl was still hooting, almost rhythmically, and Draco felt like the world was a long way away, he felt only his pain and heard only the hoots of the scared bird mixing with his blood rushing in his ears. His breath was shallow and he tried to move as little as possible. He needed help, but he didn’t have his wand or any other means to call for it.

The hooting continued and Draco felt like he was slowly going mad.

“You! The bird…” his voice was harsh and he winced at the enormous tension it required from his neck.

No talking.

Great.

He closed his eyes and tried to stop feeling the pain. It didn’t help, if anything, he could concentrate on pain even more.

He forced his eyelids to lift and decided, if he was to get anywhere, he needed his wand. And to get rid of those bloody metal sharp-things still in his back.

Deciding to try to remove the needles first, he gritted his teeth, and forced his arm to lift. It was arduous as his shoulders were also punctured. He managed to take a hold of a couple of the needle-like objects and with a yelp he extracted them from his back.

He dropped the small blades on the ground, and stayed still, panting and taking a moment to recover from the pain.

I can’t do that again! I can’t… I can’t…

Hooting was still happening. He concentrated on listening to the owl, instead of his blood flowing from his veins on to the floor. He wasn’t sure if the bird was in pain or actually just trying to kill him with the monotone sound.

Draco was splayed across the floor, blood smeared all around him, not wanting to face the reality any time soon, but knowing there was no other way, he peeked. Right in front of his face were the blades – small triangular, not really needles, just small blades one end acute and other slightly wider. They didn’t look like much, but the amount of them, and the points they had been dug in to, really caused hell.

He exhaled desperately, and tried to lift his arm again, but before he even reached his back, his whole body convulsed and he yelped with the sudden lighting-like pain that left a throbbing after-pain. It caused him to just lay, breathing heavily, his eyes screwed shut and face pressed against the floor smeared with his blood.

Somewhere in the back of his delirious mind he thought about how his hair probably looked horrendous.

After some time he found the strength needed to try and move again. He bit his tongue in pain and felt his mouth fill with a warm metallic taste of blood, he spat it out and gritted his teeth.

He successfully pulled out a couple more of the blades, but that didn’t relieve the pain, if anything, moving made it all worse.

One blinding pain wave after another every time he moved, all he could think was why he was still conscious or even alive. Surely no person can endure this much pain, and not lose consciousness, but he felt as awake as ever.

I will go mad… he realised and decided to stop trying, and to lie as still as possible hoping that somebody would find him before he would bleed out.

The blades in his back didn’t let him bleed that much, but the ones he pulled out had bled and drenched all of his shirt. Now they seemed to have stopped. He must have dry blood all over his left shoulder.

Draco tried to relax his body, but it was impossible due to the convulsions of pain he experienced every other minute.

How am I not dead yet? he kept questioning himself, but no answer came.

He slowly felt his rational thinking seeping away, and the only thing remaining was pain. The tremendous pain every time he had to breathe.

He screwed his eyes shut concentrating on the owl and started counting to keep his mind occupied.

One…two…three…four…

…Thirty one…I’m going to die…

…One… two…three…

…forty two…please….

…One...two…THUD!

Somebody had kicked the door open. Draco opened his eyes, but he only saw a dark figure in the bright door-aisle.

“Ahhh!” he heard a screech and the person steadied themselves against the wall.

Draco wanted to shout at them for not attending to him immediately, but he was relieved to see at least somebody.

He grunted, hoping to get that person moving, and winced in pain again.

“Merlin’s beard… Liz! Run, get Madam Pomfrey or any professor! Run!”

Footsteps rushed and disappeared down the hall way, and the girl approached Draco.

“You! Are you still conscious?”

Draco sent her way the most sarcastic look he could, but adverted his eyes the next second to suppress a yelp of pain.

“Oh my, oh my, I know who you are! You’re Draco Malfoy.”

And you’re not helping!

“Well, my sister is going to get help, I’m sure, if you’re not dead yet, you will be just fine,” she talked standing a centimetre away from the blood puddle.

“You know… you will be in debt to me now.”

Nice. A Slytherin.

“There are things I might want from Harry Potter’s friend…why are you crying?”

She kneeled down and looked anxiously at the door.

“C’mon, Liz…”

Draco wanted to blast the girl out the window despite her probably saving his life. Why did she had to talk about Harry…

His breath was uneven and he cursed the girl for making him cry, every little sob felt like a thousand stabs in the back, not even mentioning his head, stomach and legs.

“On a more upbeat note, I think you’re not bleeding much anymore, and all the blood has dried. And you look like a vampire or something.”

I do what?

His look must have indicated what he thought, because the girl laughed.

The owl, that had been silent since the doors opened, let out a loud, irritated hoot.

The girl jumped and got up to help the annoying animal.

“Right, owl… you’re the one we heard in the first place.” She picked up the cage carefully, and put it on the table, she neatly pushed owl’s wings in the cage and opened the doors.

The owl rolled out and snarled at the cage… if owls can snarl.

“Well, aren’t you a cute thing…” girl mussed and tried to pet it, but the bird jumped back closer to the edge and pecking at her fingers. She retracted her hand and frowned at the bird.

The owl sat on the edge and brooded, crooking its head, and looking right back with yellow eyes.

“What a weird bird…” she concluded, returning to Malfoy.

Bird turned to follow her with his look and narrowed his eyes at Draco on the floor.

Draco wished he could lose consciences, the girl’s and owl’s eyes were burning holes in him. Like I need more holes today.

He shut his eyes trying to stop the pain showing on his face, he didn’t think he was too successful as the girl gasped in pity the next time a burning convulsion went through his muscles.

He gritted his teeth and clenched his fists, but the next one made him open his mouth in a mute scream. His back arched involuntarily and that caused even more pain, he trembled and his vision was blurred with white and black spots.

Only thing he heard was his blood rushing through his veins and his ragged breath.

Next seizure made him scream for his life and he didn’t care if he looked like a pathetic sissy. The pain was unimaginable, all he wanted was to loose consciences, and slip in to the relief of sleep.

“Madam –”

“Get out of the way girl –”

“Liz! What took you so long?”

“Mr Malfoy, try to keep calm…”

Madam Pomfrey’s voice rang assaulting his ears, but he didn’t understand a word, only the pain was real. And it was too much. He felt like dying, but his body kept tensing and the pain kept stabbing him…

And then bliss.

The pain faded to a dull ache and he felt himself being hurled in to the air.

His body was limp, blades were extracted from his back, he couldn’t move, but as the pain was much more bearable now he didn’t complain.

While he was carried away from the classroom, through his half open eyes he could see two girls standing close, looking at him with big eyes, and an owl watching him from the doors.

Before he rounded the corner he saw professor McGonagall approach the two girls, the owl starting to jump in the other direction.

He closed his eyes, hoping that he would be able to sleep now, but no such luck.

Draco could hear the fast footsteps of the mediwitch and occasional gasp from students.

If he would have been in his right mind, he might have at least glared at them to soften the prospect that he would be talked about for at least some time.

But he wasn’t, so he kept his eyelids shut and his body as relaxed as he could with the irregular fits of pain that kept occurring.

 

Chapter Text

The next night for Draco was not pleasant. It was leaning more to being the most exhausting and painful night he had had.

Madam Pomfrey had removed the blades form his flesh, cast countless spells on his back, and, despite the wounds being very spiteful, she had managed to kick-start healing. Then she had given him a menacingly sized glass, filled with potion that made his blood replenish faster.

But despite all of that, Draco still felt like – plainly put – like shit.

She had tried giving him sleeping potion so he could rest, but, as it turned out, the curse was meant to hold the victim awake and aware until his death, so nothing she tried worked. Needless to say, she was exasperated as sleep was essential to successful recovery.

All Draco wanted to do was to sleep, he lay on his stomach without moving, and tried to slip in to the realm of dreams not even worrying about nightmares.

But whatever he did or whatever madam Pomfrey tried, he stayed as awake as ever, aware of his now forever crippled back. He wanted to bury his face in the pillows and scream, but he was too exhausted and the jolts of pain every time he moved, despite being dulled by the potion, were not worth it. So he gritted his teeth and planned his revenge.

It included a dungeon and many, many sharp objects.

After 18 hours and 17 minutes, according to the time madam Pomfrey told him, he was about to scream in frustration.

He couldn’t sleep.

He won’t be able for the next two days, because apparently that was how long it would take to make the counter potion for this curse, according to professor Melbourn anyways. The mediwitch had asked him for advice when all of her attempts to put Draco to sleep ended up futile.

Then the she-general had declaimed that Draco was to stay here, but the Slytherin was unable to do so any longer.

Just lying there on the hospital bed all night awake had him off his rocker.

He braced himself for the pain and, when she brought him breakfast, he sat up on his bed shirtless, bandages covering all of his upper body and proclaimed:

“I can’t stay here. Two reasons. First: I will not have them thinking I’m afraid. Second: I will go mad if I stay here any longer.” He was proud that his voice sounded more or less normal, his throat had probably been soothed by one of the potions.

“Mr Malfoy…”

“If you don’t let me go, I will still go, but without the potions -” he left the threat hanging in the air.

She looked infuriated, but something in Draco’s eyes convinced her, and maybe also the fact that besides the incapability to sleep he was in decent shape, considering what he went through. His back was still healing, but it, at least, reacted the way it’s supposed to the treatment. Not like his sleep-regime.

“You have to return if you feel even slightly worse,” she sated her terms, “and you will be spending the night here. I will give you potion for pain, come back for more after lunch.”

He nodded and took the vials she was handing him. She looked concerned as he downed one of the potions and got off his bed.

“Have some breakfast…”

“I’m not hungry.”

Eat your breakfast,” she hissed, not liking when her patients disobeyed her.

Draco complied and took a tofu-pancake with raisins. Madam Pomfrey watched him carefully and tried to think of a way to make the Slytherin in front of her to tell her who had done this to him.

“No.”

She blinked surprised.

“Mr Malfoy, they deserve punishment, they will likely be expelled, their futures ruined…”

“I will take care of them,” he said a matter of factly, “they will regret this till the end of their days,” he finished, venom dripping from his words.

“Don’t interrupt me. You can’t be the judge of their sins, leave that to the grownups –”

“I am a grownup. Don’t treat me like a child.” He set his half-empty chocolate-almond milk glass down and got up, his look indicating that to continue this conversation would be pointless.

“Take this, it will give you energy as you haven’t slept in a while,” she said, sighing and Accio-ing a vial from her potions cabinet.

Madam Pomfrey left the boy to change in clean clothes and hurried to her rooms. She had sent Minerva away, when she had tried to question the boy in the evening, now they needed to talk.

Draco closed the infirmary door behind him and stopped to take a breath. He didn’t feel pain per say, but a blunt throb every time he constricted his back. And his head was weary too though the potion madam Pomfrey had given him sure helped a bit, he felt tired, but not as much as he should have.

He shook his head and turned to go to his common room. He held himself high despite the hallways being empty.

He reached the portrait and, after assuring Artemis that he was just fine, he went to his room, feeling slightly better in his own space. Mind you ‘slightly better’ was nowhere close to good.

Not even close to bad.

He entered his room where his roommates were just getting up. Classic Slytherins sleeping till the last minute. They eyed him suspiciously, presumably taking in his ravaged looks.

His face must have looked worse than he had thought, because alert eyes of two seconds ago sleepy Slytherins didn’t leave him until he had gotten proper clothes and slipped in to the showers.

What Draco didn’t know was that his roommates were staring because they were absolutely baffled, seeing him walk around less than 24 hours after he had been seen being floated through the corridors, covered in blood and a thousand knifes dug in his back.

Oblivious to the show he was putting on, he charmed his bandages to avoid them getting wet, showered, afterwards feeling refreshed, but still exhausted.

The potions kept him from losing his marbles completely, but he felt not quite right. He wanted to either laugh or cry and he wasn’t sure witch, but something stopped him from doing either. His mind kept turning around Harry kissing that damned damsel.

I definitely feel like crying, he decided. But he didn’t, instead he washed his hair, panicking as water turned blue.

The colour was washing out.

Shame. It was starting to grow on me.

Draco got out of the shower and, drying his hair with a towel, entered his room again. He was met by four boys, who stopped what they were doing and looked at him seriously.

Blaise Zabini was the first to speak:

“Malfoy…”

“Yes?” he replied passively not sure what to expect.

“Want to go with us to the breakfast?” he asked indifferently, lazily sitting on his bed. Blaze had been one of the few that had actually seen what had been done to his roommate, when he had been carried to the hospital wing. To his surprise he had felt the need to offer his fellow Slytherin protection.

Only Potter and few others stood up against tormenting kids, and Blaise had actually seen Draco do that a couple of times. Of course, the Slytherin had always made sure to snarl at the kid, he was saving, as much as at the tormenter. Merlin forbid somebody would get the idea of Draco Malfoy having a heart. No. That’s impossible.

Blaise had planned on mainly looking out for himself, until he saw what the Gryffindors were capable of. Now he felt obligated to do something, to protect his house-mate. As un-Slytherin as that sounded, not doing so felt wrong. The Slytherins should stick together.

Besides his therapist, that had been assigned to him as part of his sentence, had finally convinced that he, in fact, had a heart and despite him neglecting it for 18 years it still nudged him. Amongst other things he had also understood that he wanted to live a happy life, and to his own horror he couldn’t be truly happy if people around him were miserable. At least those that he didn’t detest. So thus, the logical thing to achieve his happiness was to be himself, and let others be themselves, as long as it didn’t hurt anyone.

Draco was shocked, but he didn’t let it show, he thoughtfully kept rubbing his head, then finally dropping his hand to his side, he smirked, ignoring the pulsing pain in his head.

“No – but you can accompany me. As we all know, I’m the prince of Slytherins.”

Goyle jumped to his feet, he had kept his distance from Malfoy as he had been advised, but it hadn’t felt right to him. He smiled happily and seemed to be ready to hug Malfoy, who grimaced at the prospect and threw him his damp towel.

“Happy to see you too, Goyle,” he forced, but only half fake. To be honest, despite both Draco’s common sense and his knowledge that his fellow Slytherin was not the brightest, he had missed having him around.

“Don’t humour me, Malfoy.” Theodor Nott got up. “You’re no prince to us.”

“Speak for yourself, Nott. I can’t take seriously anyone with a haircut like yours.”

What?”  He launched from his bed and looked in the mirror anxiously tugging at his hair. Despite Malfoy being the most gitty git, nobody, nobody doubted his advice in looks.

It had become a kind of legend that no matter what happened to Draco Malfoy, despite what the Slytherins had tried, his hair always looked ravishing. No exceptions. Even, when he was sick from lack of sleep or after spending days in Azkaban, or after a bucket of slime was dumped on his head. Somehow his hair was always flawless.

Didn’t even matter if he spent hours before mirror, annoying the hell out of others wanting to use it, or if he just ran a hand through them before getting out of bed. Always dazzling.

It had been a mystery for as long the boys remembered.

“Yes,” he said turning away from the frantic eight year, almost falling over a pile of dirty robes, “and you, sixth year, loose the pendant, it does not go with the school uniform.”

Honestly, these four are hopeless.

Draco grabbed his robe and finished buttoning his shirt. Hanging his robe on two fingers and throwing it over his shoulder, he turned his head back and smirked a brilliant smile over his shoulder.

“Let’s go then, shall we.”

Maybe the world wasn’t over after all.

But no.

It was.

Harry…

And once again Draco wanted to hex everything that moved, but most of all he wanted to punch a wall. His head was pulsing heavily and his breath was shallow, but he put up a good show for his rediscovered acquaintances, despite it draining his energy rapidly.

Other Slytherins weren’t bothered and started up the usual talks about school and the ridiculous amount of homework.

Only… it wasn’t like before.

Not right away, but after some time Draco grasped what exactly had changed – nobody feared each other anymore. Insults were still thrown and, mind you, none of the Slytherins had dropped their attitudes, but they seemed to have learnt from the Dark Lord’s mistakes. Now when eminent death threats weren’t hanging over their heads anymore, Slytherins seemed to have slightly let go of their agendas and were just being teenagers.

Maybe it was also due to them being under surveillance for the next 7 years of their lives. Or 10 for Draco. They would never get a job in Ministry and they couldn’t do politics probably also ever though officially for 10 years.

Blaise casually cited his therapist who as Draco found out was, quote: ‘a crazy ass lady, but always ready to listen and call out on your bullshit.’ The sixth year – Lim kept making fun of Nott’s hair who in return teased the boy about him looking like a peacock with his purple hair and coloured nails.

Goyle was mostly quiet listening to his friends, because, yeah, they were friends now. He particularly liked hearing about Blaise’s therapy.

As they neared the great hall Draco felt more and more sick, he dreaded the thought of seeing Harry, but, before they could even reach the hall, a livid voice cut through the torpor of the morning.

DRACO MALFOY!

Slytherins jumped all as one, and turned to see infuriated Hermione Granger, storming down the stairs. Draco felt others tensing up and about to reach for their wands, but he stopped them and turned to face Granger alone.

“Granger!” he exclaimed in mocked happiness, “I have done my homework no need to–”

He didn’t get to finish as the girl took him by his tie and dragged him in a nearby classroom, slamming the door shut behind her. Draco started to feel uneasy, but didn’t show it, his head was pulsing in rhythm with his heart and he felt like his back was slowly starting to burn again. He needed to take the potion.

He freed his tie and irritably put it in order again.

Hermione felt like straight out murdering the cold-hearted Slytherin right now.

“You! How can you be walking around like nothing has happened, you callous, monstrous…”

Malfoy wanted to give full attention to the Gryffindor girl, he honestly did, as the string of insults was highly captivating, but there was no way he could endure his back pains if he wouldn’t take the potion soon.

“I have no clue what I have done –”

“You WHAT?” she bellowed, “You have no right to not have a clue, Draco Malfoy. You’re the reason Harry is practically a zombie right now!”

“I don’t talk muggle,” he intervened irritated, thinking about the vial in his pocket.

“A dead person, walking around.”

“Are you bonkers?” Draco laughed bitterly, even more confused. “No way, a fling with me was that important.”

Now it was Hermione’s turn to furrow eyebrows in confusion.

“What fling? What is wrong with you? Do you think Harry is some kind of philander???”

“Do you mind actually getting to your point, Granger, because as surprising as it may seem I really do have many things that I would rather do than waste my time on a know-it-all Gryffindor,” he snapped annoyed, discussing this was not high on his to-do list, actually, it was about the last thing he wanted to do right now.

“Get down from your high horse at once!” Malfoy acting as a Malfoy really annoyed her this morning. “And listen –”

He straightened and looked at her with mocking attentiveness.

“– despite you acting like a prick more than half of the time, I know you like Harry. And I don’t understand –” her voice broke, “I don’t understand why would you hurt him like that…” she finished quietly, but her voice never losing any of its anger.

Yesterday she and Ron had actively tried to take Harry’s thoughts off of Draco, but every time it seemed like they would be successful, and Harry would smile, his face turned green, and he would shift, his look vitreous and hands clenched in fists.

They had went up right after the incident with the girl and then only emerged from the common room this morning, eating dinner in the boy’s bedroom. This morning Hermione had left her boyfriend with Harry, and descended upon the school as a fury. The people that crossed her path this morning and, Merlin forbid, did something remotely against the rules, regretted it dearly.

After Harry had said that he was trying to understand why he was not enough, Hermione had started to get angry. It had seemed like that was all Harry could think about, and by the end of the evening Hermione had been so incensed it was a good thing she didn’t find Draco then, because she would have eaten him alive.

Draco looked at Hermione incredulously.

“The only thing our saviour,” he spat the words maliciously, “wanted was to get off…”

Hermione slammed her fist down on the table, hard.

“Did he tell you that? Did he?

“He didn’t have to. I, unlike you, can do subtext.” He very exaggeratedly indicated that he wanted to leave. “Your Golden Boy is upset because of something else, Granger, leave me out of it,” he pushed her aside and put his hand on the doorknob.

“You! You!” she pointed at him furiously and then took a breath to calm herself, “tell me. What kind of person do you think Harry is?”

Draco opened his mouth, but his head was so full of fog about to turn in to pain, that he couldn’t say anything other than the truth as it was the first thing to come to mind.

“He is kind and just, and brave, and he loves flying, and he is ridiculously sarcastic and you shouldn’t hurt those he cares about, because he will have your head –” his voice broke.

Shame I’m not one of them.

He steadied himself on the wall when the pain hit. Draco froze trying to not hurt himself more.

“Does he seem like a person that would want a fling –” she sounded like the word offended her personally, “with random Slytherins?”

But Draco couldn’t answer, he rummaged through his pockets and finally grabbed the vial. He frantically ripped the lid off and downed the potion wishing for it to take effect soon.

It did and he inhaled relaxing slightly, Hermione stared at him puzzled.

“No, he doesn’t,” he bit. “But that leaves only one other reason for what he did – pity.”

He snarled in distaste to the idea. Better for Harry to be an insensitive brat than for him to pity Draco.  Hermione shook her head.

“What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing, Granger, if you don’t take in the account that I’m wasting my time with you.”

“It looked like a potion for pain… are you hurt or something?” she asked pretending very hard not to care.

“Don’t be absurd…”

“Wait!” she stopped him from opening the door the second time. “You’re – you’re so, so unbelievably stupid, Draco.”

The Slytherin raised his eyebrows at the use of his first name.

“Okay, that will do it. Bye, Granger. I will make sure to let you answer all the questions in potions today,” he puffed and fled the classroom before Hermione could stop him.

“What the hell?” Hermione was thoroughly annoyed by the git and it was only breakfast time. Maybe he really didn’t care for Harry… but no, he – oh Merlin, he was so dumb.

She ran out in the hallway, but the Slytherin had already taken cover in the overflowing Great hall. Hermione met his eyes stating that this conversation was not over and grabbed her wand to levitate food to Harry and Ron.

Taking a couple of breaths to keep the food from exploding in her agitation, she stomped back upstairs, sleepy students practically dwindling to get out of her way. Even ghosts made sure not to be in her way.

 

Chapter Text

Awakened by nightmares, Harry gloomily opened his eyes. His sleep had been as well as non-existent and only thing keeping him from wondering around the castle was his friends’ graphic threats. Over the night while he had dozed off from exhaustion, he had trashed his blanked and now it lay tangled around his ankles. He stared at his legs in the dark room, the wind was soughing and clinging behind the window, but all Harry could hear was his own mind. It didn’t say nice things. He bit his tonue and closed his eyes to keep calm. All of his body was strained and he made a conscious effort to relax it, his face smoothed and he started breathing more evenly. His mind wondered to yesterday to distract himself.

Dean and Seamus had been exasperated when even they couldn’t make Harry smile. He had tried as hard as possible to act normal, but every time he forced his mouth in to a smile it felt like a stab in his intestines.

Not pleasant.

Others too agreed that that looked more like a pained grimace not a smile.

Not being able to stay still any longer, Harry sat up, hanging his legs over the side of his bed, everyone else was still under covers, but he felt that it will soon be time to get up and ready for lessons. His heart jumped.

The first lesson was potions… Oh bloody sodding hell.

He facepalmed and fell back on his bed, deciding to skip. Skip everything. He could graduate if he skipped all the lessons with Slytherins in them, couldn’t he?

He didn’t want to deal with Draco’s anger… or indifference. He frowned at his ceiling grimly. I’ve got no clue witch would be worse. He sighed. But he also wanted to see Draco – happy. Harry feared that Draco would hate him now. He felt empty and tired. Dead tired. Exhausted–

CRASH!

His train of thoughts was interrupted by doors slamming open.

“RISE AND SHINE!” Hermione entered the room and not-very-gently placed the food on a table.

All boys but Harry lifted their heads from the slumber of their dreams and glared at Hermione distraught. Deciding that there was no immediate danger, they put their heads back on pillows. That was a mistake.

“I will not have any more nonsense this morning. GET UP!” she roared.

All the boys decided to comply and not test Hermione’s patience any further. A wise choice as she would not have hesitated to charm their beds to bite their lazy asses. After a couple more arctic glances from the witch Neville, Dean and Seamus gladly left the room.

Harry looked at her warily, hoping that she would restrain from shouting at him. She did. After Harry and Ron had gotten dressed, she offered them breakfast and sat down on Harry’s bed.

“Harry…”

He looked up at her thankful for an excuse not to eat, because he felt like his stomach had scrunched up in a tiny roll of anxiousness in the anticipation for potions.

“I talked to Malfoy…”

Harry turned away, hurt.

“I asked you not to -”

“I know, I know, but look. I think he misunderstood…”

“I kissed him. Not much to misunderstand!” he stood up sad and angry, leaving the room suddenly seemed even more tempting.

“Yes, well… you didn’t tell him why.”

“Oh. Yes. I forgot to tell him that I usually kiss people because I plan on throwing them under a train! You know, ‘cause that’s what I usually do.”

“I know, Harry, don’t get mad at me.”

“Sorry,” Harry sat back down bitter that she hadn’t listened to him. It was enough embarrassing as it was, he didn’t need more salt in his wounds.

She shrugged, Ron bit in to a waffle and slurped up some dark-chocolate-rice milk sighing half happily and half feeling his friend’s desperation. Hermione also ate some food, Harry just sat until he could tell from her gaze that, after she swallows, she is going to tell him to eat something, he beat her to it and unwillingly bit in to a waffle.

“Ohh! We’re going to be late!” she suddenly realized and jumped to her feet.

“Oh, no.” Ron followed her, continuing to stuff his mouth with strawberries.

Harry didn’t budge.

“I don’t feel up to it, I will–”

“Like hell you will!” Hermione pushed his robe in his hands and grabbed him by the tie, forcing him to get up.

Ron wanted to say something, but his girlfriend’s gaze made him reconsider, and he only looked at Harry apologetically. They hurried down to the dungeons and made it just in time. Harry was very reluctant to sit down, but Hermione practically shoved him towards the front of the class.

He already could see Draco, sitting in his place, his back straight and his hair – blond again. His hands started to shake, Hermione nudged him again and the professor entered. Harry walked over to his chair and sat down stiffly.

“Good morning, today we will be making…”

Harry zoned out, Draco was sitting right next to him, not saying a word. Well, it was lesson after all, but usually they would at least acknowledge each other.

“Morning,” Harry murmured, his heart beating in his chest painfully.

Draco looked at him like he just compared his mother to a troll, then turned away not even bothering to answer. Harry felt like his world had crashed down on his head. Again. It was like they weren’t even friends any more. It was like Draco hated him.

Hermione was wrong. She had misunderstood something, Draco definitely didn’t like him.

Harry blindly opened his textbook and tried to read the instruction. Letters swam and he couldn’t understand a word.

Oh, what the shit. He couldn’t go on like this.

“Look,” he restrained from saying both Draco and Malfoy, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to… do that. I just… I’m sorry, okay?”

Draco looked at him coldly.

“Couldn’t care less, Potter. Go be a good boy and get some ingredients.” Draco didn’t know how to talk with Potter anymore, his back throbbed, he wanted to sleep. Potter should know what happens when he acts like he owns everyone ([{he never does that}]).

Harry shrivelled, got up, his heart beating heavily, and dragged himself over to the cupboard. Surprisingly he managed to not drop anything despite his hands feeling awkward and weak. On the way back, however, he bumped in to another person and, because he was so preoccupied by his thoughts, dropped absolutely everything.

He stared blankly at the pile of broken vials and spilled liquids.

“Well, why are you just standing there, Potter?” Malfoy shouted over their cauldron.

“Well, why don’t you just SHUT UP?” Harry grunted, sadness suddenly flaring up in anger.

The classroom was quiet, professor had left them to their own devices for a minute. Harry looked up at Draco who watched him with the perfect indifference.

“Well, I did,” he said after a minute. “Did that help?”

“No,” Harry retorted annoyed, whipping out his wand and pointing it to the floor.

“Didn’t think so,” Malfoy enunciated. “I need the ingredients, some of us can’t just show up to a job interview and say ‘I killed the Dark Lord’.”

Harry snarled and tried to vanish the mess on the floor. Everyone was looking at him, and his heart was beating like crazy, Draco was being insufferable, and Harry was angry. Because of that the vanishing spell came out with much more force than needed. With Harry’s mind so unfocused some sparks flared setting fire to some kind of herb on the table to Harry’s right.

It flared up like crazy with a bright flame and Dean jumped back, Harry lifted his hand to protect his eyes and felt the flame touching his palm, his wand dropped to the floor. He heard a couple of screeches from other students, but the next second the fire was out, he turned and saw Draco, his wand pointing to the place where the flame had been. For a moment Harry thought the Slytherin looked worried, but the next second all Draco’s face showed was indifference and annoyance, Harry sighed. He wanted to thank him but he didn’t get to as professor Melbourn entered.

“What is happening here?” he sounded enraged. “You’re eight years, I thought you could be trusted to not set things on fire.

Harry dropped his gaze to the ground ashamed and opened his mouth to say it was accident. Before he could Melbourn had already decided who to punish.

“Malfoy, Potter, detention! Stay after the lesson.” He blazed a look that didn’t allow any arguments, “Continue your potions, we don’t have all day.”

Draco pushed past Harry and went to get ingredients himself, murmuring about unfear punishments and handicapped Gryffindors. Harry picked up his wand with his left hand, his right was flaring red and burning up.

Great.

He slouched down in his chair and rubbed the burn gently, wondering if he knew any spells that could help. He decided to ask Hermione after the lesson, because the only thing he could think of was a spell that froze stuff, and he didn’t see anyone here appreciating, him covering half of the class in ice because of his burn. Especially the professor, who was still eying him occasionally.

Harry jumped, when a bunch of things were dumped in front of him. Malfoy snarled and ordered him to slice up a root. The Gryffindor sullenly started doing what he was told.

Draco was so done, he detested fighting with Harry, it drained all the happiness form him. But he can’t be running after empty dreams…

What the…

“What’s wrong with your hand?” too late he realised that he sounded way too concerned than was acceptable.

Harry looked up, his eyes big and green, and surprised. His hands froze in air in the middle of taking the next piece of plant.

“I mean… you are gonna cut it up all wrong.” Draco tried to save his cover, adding a very indifferent gaze.

 “I don’t know any spells…” Harry turned his hand self-consciously, wondering, why was Draco even bothering.

“Imbeciele,” he reached for Harry’s hand, but he wasn’t quick enough.

“Don’t trouble yourself,” Gryffindor looked away, grabbed the knife again and started mashing the herbs, ignoring his smouldering hand.

Slytherin clenched his teeth. Oh, crap, crap, crappity, sodding crap.

“Fine, if you promise to never do that again, I will heal that.” Draco felt sick just saying that as kissing Harry was on his mind all the time, but he was also not living in false hope despite how much he wanted to.

Harry looked at him, stopping his hands once again.

Draco rolled his eyes and finished: “…and I will stop acting like a wanker.”

“Okay-” Harry’s voice broke and he restarted to chop up the herbs, and immediately he sliced into his finger. The knife was razor sharp so the cut didn’t hurt much, but it created quite a deep gash in his skin. He cursed silently in reality, wanting to scream his frustration and sadness out in the sky. Harry used a piece of his robe to stop the bleeding.

Just friends is better than rivals. Just friends is better…

Malfoy extended his arm to take Harry’s knife away, but while doing so he stretched his shoulder in a bad way and couldn’t help but let out a pained yelp. He retracted his hand and pressed it to his side, closing his eyes until the sharp pain subsided.

“What’s wrong with you?” Harry stared at him with wide eyes.

“Nothing you should worry about, scar-head,” he bit through his teeth. His back was numb, but his head felt like exploding at any moment.

“WHY ARE YOU NOT WORKING?”

They both jumped.

Harry thought professor Melbourn reminded him of Snape with the exception he detested everyone equally and was slightly more just, but not much. He didn’t only unfairly punish Gryffindors, Slytherins also got the taste quite soon and everyone could bond over how ridiculous were his punishments. Harry only could hope that his detention would be better than Dean’s, who had to help professor to collect some juice from the Forbidden Forest. He had come back all dirty and told horrific stories about spiders and angry stumps.

“You, boys, already have one detention don’t make it a recurring habit.”

Malfoy looked at Melbourn incredulously, weren’t he supposed to be brewing the potion that would let Draco sleep again? Apparently the knowledge that his student was hurt didn’t intervene with his attitude. Witch was annoyingly strict. Malfoy was on the top of the class – almost. He and Granger were splitting the vertex.

To relieve his burn Harry started waving his hand up and down, Draco and professor both looked at him with identical annoyed expressions – their eyes narrow and mouths set in a scowl.

“Sorry…” he dwindled.

They looked away, Draco started brewing the potion and professor shifted his attention to another unlucky student. But Harry’s hand kept hurting. He winced and grabbed it by the wrist, trying to stop the pain, but the sensation was only intensifying. He kept shaking it inconspicuously, the air slightly easing the pain. He decided to distract his mind with some light banter, though it will probably end in curses, knowing his temper.

“So... what’s wrong with you?”

Draco looked at him suspicious, he had been quite the event this morning at the breakfast table. People had stared not even pretending to be discrete, he had found it scurrilous. He had met the eyes of Karl who had been slurping up pumpkin juice, comfortably sitting between other Gryffindors. There was a glint in the blond’s eyes that Draco found unnerving, because it wasn’t fear. Draco also didn’t feel fear, he felt anger that burned in him, powering his ability to fake being perfectly fine and plot the revenge that will go down in history. Not only Hogwarts’, but the whole world’s history! he had thought sipping his own drink and trying to ignore his sensitive back.

The only thing Draco had wanted to see – the only thing the bloody git was allowed to feel, was panic at Slytherin’s miraculous survival and a plea for mercy. To be fair, Draco already had mentally sent a couple of letters, and it was highly unlikely that Karl or Bob or Hank were getting any respectable jobs ever, so he would be unable to give them any mercy. But plea would be nice. That aside, he was still going to have them pay for what they did to him. He thought about settling it all in a court room, but that seemed way too gentle.

People had discussed all kind of versions for why Draco had been in the state he had been. Some were absolutely ludicrous –

“He battled a troll -” awe.

“No, I heard it was a dragon!” shout from other side.

“In the castle?” scepticism.

“In the dungeons…”

“What kind of tosh are you talking?” new person.

“Draco Malfoy! The heir of Slytherins. The Death Eater, he had a thousand knifes in his back.”

No…

“I saw it. My own eyes. There was blood everywhere.”

“I’m eating here,” keep talking.

“He is up and walking!”

“But you said…”

“I just saw him. Look!”

“Eating that lemon cake…”

“Who said vampires? Okay, don’t be stupid…”

Draco had also noted Potter’s absence from the great hall. Maybe he didn’t know.

“I just had a pleasant encounter with your friends.”

“What? Ron and Hermione would never…”

“BOYS! I have had quite enough of you today. 10 points from each of you.” Professor noticed that Draco was green at face and, like it was the most irritating thing, continued, “Malfoy, you shouldn’t even be here in the first place, Potter you have to get madam Pomfrey to look at that hand otherwise it will fall off. Leave, and come back when you are ready to work. Five more points for making me tell you obvious things.”

Their classmates muttered unhappily at the loos of points and a couple of irritated glances were thrown their way. Both of the boys gladly left the unfinished potion as they weren’t getting anywhere anyways and hurried out of the class before professor would change his mind as he was angrily muttering about immature students that should know when to leave.

Harry felt like jumping out the window. Better friends than rivals. Better friends than rivals…

“Not Granger and Weasley, don’t be dumb,” Draco snarled at the impossible idea, continuing their conversation.

Harry started irritated. “Who then…” then his eyes widened.

“Yes. Well…”

“I will kill them!” No, that was too easy. “No. I will put them in Azkaban for life,” too easy, “and then kill them. And…” then he met silvery eyes of a very handsome Slytherin. “And… I don’t care?” he finished weakly, already realizing that he was in deep shit.

“My, my. I didn’t realise our Golden boy could kill.”

“Merlin, Draco. The things I would do for you,” Harry exclaimed, before covering his mouth in horror and turning a bright shade of red, called ‘please, kill me’. Okay, his hand burned. He was feeling queasy, and Draco had those beautiful silvery eyes.

Draco stared at him unbelieving.

“I’m sorry, I know you don’t like me. It’s fine. I’m sorry.” Harry faltered in unease, he felt angry and sad and ashamed. He turned to leave, because, with his temper going all over the place, he could only control his mouth to a certain level. That’s why I wanted to skip! He could already hear the never ending mocking he was going to get for his words, and in the pit of his stomach he could already feel how that would hurt. He didn’t want to face it right away. Maybe in a few hundred years. Or thousand. Yes, schedule it sometime in 20 000 years.

Draco stared as Gryffindor shuffled away from him surprisingly fast. When his brain finally registered what Harry had said, Draco’s face lit up in a smile that could cure cancer.

“Potter,” he waited until Harry turned around, and withheld a smirk at his face – looked like Harry was anticipating to be hit by a curse.

“Does that mean… you like me?” Draco teased in case he somehow had misinterpreted Harry’s words.

Harry turned even more intense red in the face and dropped his eyes to the ground. What an interesting floor, I think it’s made from stones. He scowled and started to move his hand around again. My hand burns. My hand burns. Draco is not asking me if I like him. No.

“Harry?”

“Okay. Fine. Merlin. Yes,” he blurted out, his face burning.

“But you…”

“Look, Draco, it’s fine. I won’t do anything weird again,” he felt miserable and didn’t registering the tone Draco was talking in – unsure and confused, not mocking.

“But you can’t like me! That’s impossible. What are you playing at?”  Draco snapped again, not quite believing the Gryffindor.

“Nothing. What could I possibly gain from a mortifyingly ardent crush on you?” he looked at Draco miserably, desperately wanting for him to stop asking. Slytherin looked very smug, probably already planning how to use this to his advantage.

“Oh, plenty,” Draco stepped closer, his face lighting up when he smiled contently.

“Draco?” Harry breathed out. This was the part when Draco said something mocking or proclaimed his disgust or cursed him or something similar.

“Harry.”

“What… erm, what are you doing?”

“I was planning on kissing you, but I can go murder some killer clowns instead if you wish.”

What the fuck did I just say? Okay, this was official. Draco Malfoy was mental.

But, if you go mental for Harry, it’s worth it.

“You what…” Harry dug his nails in to his arm to keep the pain at bay because this was infinitely more important.

“Well, from your very articulate sentences, I got the impression that you actually like me.” Draco stated still looking at Harry. He may come off as confident, but inside he was shrivelling in the effort it took for him not to turn tale and run. He didn’t like putting his heart on his sleeve, it was dangerous and could potentially be disastrous.

“Of course, I do,” he looked at the other and smiled timidly, “have you met you?”

Draco laughed. “Haven’t had the pleasure.”

“Oh, it’s pain in the arse,” Harry felt more and more nervous as the Slytherin approached, butterflies in his stomach going wild.

Draco was very close, Harry wanted to kiss him, but that hadn’t gone very well the last time.

The blond leaned forward, his eyes not leaving Harry’s. He was anticipating some protest or revulsion, and Harry laughing and saying something along the lines of you actually believed me!

“But I’m not in you league,” Harry said instead, bitterly taking a half step back.

Draco froze and mentally slapped himself, but raised an eyebrow at the Gryffindor, who was clutching his hand like it was a rabid snake and watching Draco with gleaming eyes – confused and suspicious.

“Yeah, well, as I am a celestial being nobody really is,” he stalled not wanting to admit what he had thought.

Harry eyed him annoyed, was Draco just toying with him?

“…but I am willing to make an exception for our golden boy,” Draco said trying to dispel the distrusting face Harry had made. Didn’t work.

“I don’t need exceptions from you Malfoy, or anyone for that matter.”

Harry felt like somebody had sliced his heart open and now crows were feasting on his warm flesh, thick blood still flowing down his skin. The butterflies had turned in to bitterflies and were clawing at his skin from the inside. Did Draco only ‘like’ him because of his reputation?

Harry turned away hurt, that Draco saw, what he couldn’t grasp, was, what he had said to cause that.

“I just said, that you have the unique opportunity…”

“Fuck off, Malfoy.” Harry pushed him away sternly and looked at him again angrily.

“What… why…” Draco felt lost, he could feel Harry’s palm of one hand and knuckles of the other – the burned one – against his chest.

“I can’t believe, I actually believed you for a moment! You manipulative little snake! I am a person! Like anybody else. You can’t have me like some trophy…” while swatting around to emphasize his point his hand started burning with a new energy. “Merlin’s pants!”

“Potter!” Draco realized what had happened, “Harry! Look, that’s not what I meant. And you’re not like everybody else…”

“What did you mean then?”

“I meant… that… Imaylikeyoualittlebittoo…” Draco blurted out and looked at Harry, hoping that he wouldn’t have to repeat himself.

“What?” Harry asked curtly, unimpressed

“I said – I don’t mind you.”

Harry was baffled and stared at Draco, not being able to string enough brainpower together to make a sentence. Well, that’s nice. Am I supposed to kiss your shoes now?

“You’re not a trophy to me. Being around you is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. I am not good at these things, but when you’re around it is easy – easier to be me. Or to become the me that I want to be.” The things he said didn’t come lightly, he had to lift a lifetime of barriers he had put between his feelings and his mouth. But he did it. As he talked his careful facade of indifference peeled away and all that was left was Draco. He looked at Harry aware of how vulnerable he was. “I am quite found of you.”

Harry’s eyes widened, his chest filling with air and happiness, he smiled. Draco was standing there and actually admitting that he liked him – well, sort of. Harry was about to have a break down, the relief and joy was overwhelming. Not for one second did Harry doubt Draco’s words, nobody could stand and look so sincere and vulnerable while lying. Harry just kept staring at the other with a weird awe in his face until Draco couldn’t wait any longer.

“Say something, Potter.”

“Call me Harry,” he stepped forward and, when Draco didn’t move away, Harry put his hand on Draco’s neck and kissed him gently.

Draco let out a whimper, witch immediately made him turn pink and defensive, and Harry had to conceal a grin. He succeeded partly. Draco put his hands around Harry and pressed his lips to the other’s. They pushed their bodies closer, almost falling over, Harry laughed, Draco laughed at Harry and he pushed him playfully. Draco grabbed him tighter and kissed him again. The two of them in a dimly lit corridor in the dungeons, but neither of them could think of a place they would rather be in than next to each other. Smiling Harry moved his hand and felt as Draco trembled in pain. Shocked Harry took all the pressure off of his hands.

“What’s wrong? Draco?”

“I’m fine…” he winced, “mostly. My back hurts.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“You have nothing to apologize for,” he put a hand in his side and drew deep breaths to control the pain. ‘No, really, did she gave me not working potions?’

“Either way, we should go to madam Pomfrey, I am no good with healing spells.”

Harry, bit embarrassed, put his hand over Draco’s who rolled his eyes, but took the hand, smiling out of the corner of his mouth at Harry. They strolled hand in hand down the corridor grinning like second years.

I’m turning Hufflepuff, Draco thought, but then he looked at Harry and decided that he couldn’t care less about that.

In no time they reached the infirmary’s doors, Draco was biting his lip to not complain about his back and head, Harry was fidgeting, his hand burning like on fire. They entered and Draco was done holding in his frustration.

“MADAM POMFREY! You gave me utterly useless potions! My back is on fire and my head feels like a couple of damned trolls decided to have a party. A VERY ROWDY ONE.”

Harry raised his brow in amusement at Draco’s tone. The mediwitch hurried out of the other room but to Draco’s dismal hadn’t heard a word.

“Oh, boys…” she briefly looked at their intervened hands, but didn’t comment, “what has happened now?”

“Draco’s back hurts…” Harry started.

“Harry burned his hand…” Draco said at the same time deciding to be offended and not talk about himself right now.

They looked at each other and grinned, madam Pomfrey raised her eyebrows. After taking a quick look at Harry’s hand she motioned in the direction of the closest beds.

“Sit over there.”

They did as were told and soon the mediwitch was back with a bowl and a small vial, she poured the seemingly small amount of potion in to the bowl, but, when she was finished, the bowl was almost full. The contents of the bowl seemed thick and were in a dark green colour, it didn’t shimmer much, it was much stiller than if that had been water. Harry plunged his hand in there and relief seeped in to his muscles. Even though the burn wasn’t that big, it had hurt nastily.

“Mr Malfoy, would you please remove your clothes, I will examine your back.”

“Do I have to? Just give me a potion for pain.” He didn’t want to show Harry what has been done to him. For one it was embarrassing, for two he didn’t want to see Harry angry, even if with Karl and for a good reason.

Madam Pomfrey’s stern look answered the question and Malfoy retracted his hand from Harry’s. He took off his robe, wincing when he had to lift his hands, soon his shirt followed and everything landed in a careless pile on the bed. Draco stood with his side to Harry, not looking at him and his back to the mediwitch. She waved her wand and the bandages disappeared.

While it couldn’t have been seen through the bandages, the wounds had bled quite a lot.

Madam Pomfrey’s face said what her words didn’t: this was not supposed to happen.

“Mr Malfoy, I’m afraid I can’t let you wonder around anymore. You shall stay here and get proper treatment.” She saw that the blond was already opening his mouth to argue and hurried to finish, “if you don’t comply, I will send you to St Mangos.”

Draco looked at her unbelievingly and puffed offended.

“And what am I going to do?” he asked aggravated, “I can’t sleep, I can’t go anywhere. I am going to die of boredom.”

“I am sure, Mr Potter will gladly grant you his company,” she looked at the boy who was sitting his eyes closed, and face turned upwards, faint smile playing at his lips. “Won’t you?”

“What? Company? Yes, of course. Gladly,” he mumbled, his hand feeling extremely good.

“Very articulate, Potter as ever,” Draco commented, not content by the events, as he had planned to sleep in the dorms tonight.

Harry looked at him to reply and all the peace, he had gained while his hand slowly healed, was gone, he gasped and jumped to his feet, bowl rocking dangerously.

“Draco –” his voice broke as he took in the sight. All of Draco’s back was covered in wounds, from some of them blood trickling down to his belt. On top of that it was all blue with bruises – dark purple, mingling with faint yellow and grossly green. They looked horrifyingly cruel, and made Harry sick to his stomach.

“Why aren’t you healing him?” he screeched, his heart tearing itself up at the sight of Draco in pain.

“These were inflicted by a curse, I can’t simply heal them –”

“But do something!” his voice shook.

Draco’s heart skipped a beat at the worry that could be heard in Harry’s voice. The blond walked over to Harry and despite the painful protest of his shoulders he pulled the other in a tight hug. The impulse to do that had surprised Draco, who hadn’t even thought for it to be possible to express his emotions so naturally. It’s probably because I’m fucking exhausted.

Harry also hadn’t expected a hug, but he sure was glad to get one.

“I want to hug you back so bad, Draco. Know that, but I don’t want to cause you anymore pain.” He put his hands up and held Draco’s elbows tightly, felling how hot the other’s skin was.

“I know.”

Harry sighed and relaxed slightly, burying his face in Draco’s neck.

“Mr Malfoy, you should lie down,” madam Pomfrey said before turning and hurrying to the cupboard full of potions.

Reluctantly Draco let go of Harry and lied down, Harry made himself comfortable in the chair next to the bed, one hand in the bowl with the green liquid, other clasping Draco’s. Lying down on his stomach really didn’t help Draco’s pain, but then standing was also not pleasant. He sighed, wincing at how that made his back stretch. He ran his fingers over the back of Harry’s hand and marvelled at how unbelievable this situation was. Him and Harry Potter. Together. Comforting each other. Draco held back a smile. My mother is gonna murder me, if I become any more Hufflepuff. He lifted his eyes and met a worried eyes of a flushed Gryffindor, he squeezed Harry’s hand and flashed a smirk. But I will never regret this.

“Now, now, Potter, no need to look so gloom, I will be up and running in no time.”

Harry smiled faintly.

“Of course,” but the worry didn’t leave his eyes.

 

Chapter Text

It had started to snow while Draco’s back had been repeatedly covered in various potions. Now madam Pomfrey had left the two boys to rest, Draco was glad to be left at peace. She had succeeded at dulling the throbbing to an unpleasant numbness, but that’s as good as it got.

“It’s snowing! Look!” Draco tugged at Harry’s hand excitedly. The blond himself didn’t quite understand why he liked snow so much, but he did. The freezing cold, perfect snowflakes falling from the sky had the power to make even the worst days seem hopeful. The wind was picking up and rattling against windows, throwing snowflakes against the glass.

“Yea, it is,” Harry didn’t quite feel the same excitement for snow as Draco did, but he couldn’t help but feel elevated looking at the Slytherin. Him smiling so happily was worth any amount of frozen water coming down from the sky. Harry grinned and watched Draco trace the snow behind the window with his eyes.

“I want to go out!” Draco stated already preparing to get up, despite his body feeling feverish.

“No way,” Harry shook his head.

“Harry, I don’t care. I’m fine. A little walk is not going to hurt,” he pleaded, not believing how motherly Harry was acting.

“Madam Pomfrey said, you are to stay in bed.”

“But…”

“No!” Harry leaned in and pressed a soft kiss on Draco’s pouting lips.

Draco buried his face in pillows to hide his smile that he couldn’t keep from showing. He was trying to regain his composure, but his thoughts kept slipping.

Nobody can mash up my thoughts with mere peck on my lips! That’s unacceptable! ...except for Harry…

Not fair.

Not fair at all!

It’s only that I’m injured now. If I was in full health, no amount of kissing would keep me from doing what I want. Yes. The potions and curses are at fault.

Harry leaned back content that he had managed to get the upper hand. Draco looked sickly pale, lying on his stomach, his torso and shoulders covered with bandages. Harry could practically feel Draco’s misery, it seeped like poison through his skin. It wasn’t like the Slytherin didn’t complain, he did. A lot. But it was deeper than that, he seemed so tired, but he could never sleep. Harry only hoped that he could hold on till the next day when the potion would be ready.

“Harry, Harry. I see your brain working! What you thinking about?” Draco crooked an eyebrow suggestively.

“Nothing like that!” Harry flushed and shifted in his seat.

“Oh,” Draco puffed, “I’m disappointed… I thought you liked me.”

“Hey! I do…” he saw a suspicious glow in Draco’s eyes, “you’re messing with me, aren’t you?”

“Guilty!” he smiled and tried to lift his arms in a surrendering manner, but he didn’t get further as his palms, as a throbbing sensation ripped through his back and shoulders. He winced and clenched his teeth, “okay. Let’s not do that.”

“Draco?” Harry got half up worriedly, “should I get madam Pomfrey?”

“Don’t be such a mother hen, Potter,” he looked at Harry disapprovingly, “but if you could… I guess, it wouldn’t hurt to get some more potion on my damned back.”

Harry nodded, reluctantly let go of Draco’s hand and walked over to madam Pomfrey’s office. She opened the door as he was lifting his hand to knock.

“Oh, Potter. I was just about to give Mr Malfoy more potions.”

“Yes, good, I was going to ask you just that.”

Harry moved out the way and let the mediwitch do her magic. He looked at his hand, the skin was very soft and seemed somewhat fragile, he was used to having rough hands, hardened by flying in all sorts of weather. He moved it and concluded that his burn was almost gone, he didn’t feel it at all, and the skin was only a tad redder where the burn had been, he dropped his hand and looked at what madam Pomfrey was doing. She was waving her wand above Draco’s uncovered back, the potion, she had been using, helped with pain, but it didn’t heal anything. Harry was frustrated that he couldn’t do anything.

“Now, now, Mr Potter, don’t look so grim. Show me your arm.”

“My arm is fine,” he grumbled quietly, fearing that as he didn’t have any injuries, he would be sent back to class.

“Good,” she waved her wand and a bottle flew in to her hand, “take this and use it every couple hours. Just in case.”

She waved her wand again and Draco’s back was covered again. Harry watched as she fussed around Draco until the Slytherin shot a very annoyed glance at her, she put her arms up and shrugged, stepping away. She was about to close the shutter that separated their beds and the remaining of the hospital wing when Harry spoke up.

“Erm, I can stay here then?”

She looked at him funny.

“What, you thought I was gonna listen to him whine all day? You wish,” but there was a hint of worry in her voice that Harry didn’t like one bit.

“Hei! I’m right here!”

“Yes, yes,” she acknowledged dismissingly, “you be good, boys, I will go talk to professor Melbourn.”

She looked at them with a stern look and it was clear they wouldn’t like what would happen if they disobeyed her, then she left them alone. Harry relieved that he get to stay turned around and sat back down, reaching out for Draco’s hand, but he had tucked it under the pillows. Harry looked puzzled at Draco, who didn’t meet his eyes.

“Draco? Is everything all right?”

“Just peachy, Potter! I want to sleep, my back aches every time I move, and I am missing out on my education.”

“Wow. You’re a sunshine,” Harry smirked, trying to figure out a way to lift Draco’s mood.

“I am tired, my feet are cold, and my back itches,” Draco continued not bating an eye, “in addition I’m hungry. And I still want to go outside.”

“Well, then, Draco, maybe you can just think up a magical cure to your wounds and we will do anything you want, how about that?”

“Sounds good to me. Maybe you should do that as you’re the one that can actually walk around.”

Harry shrugged. “Not a chance, I’m not leaving your side until you can protect yourself.”

“I don’t need a bodyguard! You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to,” he was uncharacteristically unsure about himself and too tired to even pretend not to be, despite that he still made sure to sound as annoyed as he was with this whole situation.

“Do you want me to leave?” Harry asked confused.

“I… want a number of things,” he shook his head, “that is not one of them.”

“Then why…”

“Because…” Draco looked out the window. “You don’t have to waste your time on me.”

Harry smiled and raised his eyebrows in surprise Draco Malfoy – insecure? He pushed himself closer to the Slytherin’s bed and leaned forwards and smiled. “Draco, listen. Look at me.”

“What?” Draco met his eyes annoyed and worried, but couldn’t keep a small smile off of his face.

“I don’t want to leave. I want to stay with you. Okay?”

“Okay,” he closed his eyes for a second then opened, a happy smirk showing on his face, “well then, make yourself useful. I’m famished.”

“At once, your majesty,” Harry rolled his eyes.

Draco’s cheek was pressed against his pillow and his neck was starting to get stiff. While Harry was talking to a house elf, Draco attempted to sit up, he succeeded - barely. His back was numb and his head felt floaty, but he supposed it could be worse. That of course won’t make him shut up.

“Harry, make it double chocolate! My back feels terrible. And my head… don’t even get me started-”

“-I’m not-”

“- it feels like a billion bees and a giant having dinner, without the food and with rock music.”

“That sounds unpleasant.”

Draco glared at him.

“Are you laughing at me?”

“No!” Harry hid a smile behind his hand and furrowed his brows in an exaggerated manner.

“Potter! You’re impossible! I am lying on my death bed and you’re – you’re laughing at me. That’s unbelievable,” Draco complained, his face full of suffering.

“Don’t say that.”

All the pretend-suffering gone, Draco looked at Harry taken aback by his tone, so serious. Harry stood there looking miserable again, Draco sighed unhappily.

“What did I say?”

“Death bed…” Harry sat down beside him.

“Oh. Harry, I didn’t mean it like that. I have no intention of dying anytime soon.” He put his hand on Harry’s and smiled, “I still have to see Weasley’s face when I kiss you in front of him.”

Harry snorted, “He will go mental.”

“I know!” Draco exclaimed excited.

Harry chuckled at how childish the blond was being and shuffled closer to him. They sat their feet dangling from the bed, their hands intertwined and grins on their faces. That was until Draco decided to poke Harry slightly in the side, Harry jumped and looked at Draco aware of how much trouble he was in now. The fact that he was ticklish was one he was not found of other people knowing. Draco smiled menacingly and reached his hand out, but Harry moved away.

“Draco! Draco! Don’t do that…” too late, Harry fell back on the bed and Draco mercilessly tickled him. Harry was laughing too hard and couldn’t get a hold on Draco, who was laughing himself, despite his back not taking very lightly that he was moving around so much.

“Haha-ha- ow! Shit.” Draco stopped and lay down next to Harry, who was breathing heavily.

“You are an evil man, you know that, right?” Harry said, beaming, obviously very content with the situation. Draco could understand him completely, it must be blissful to be so close to his perfect face. He smiled and put his hand on Harry’s waist.

“Oh, I know…” he said, feeling Harry’s muscles tighten in anticipation of tickling, he kept his hand very still until Harry relaxed. “But I know you like it too.”

“I do,” Harry admitted somewhat unbelievingly and Draco smiled pleased.

They spent the whole day mostly in Draco’s bed. Harry had to bit his cheek to restrain himself from, as Draco had stated, grinning like a simpleton. It was funny how Draco was so good at making him laugh even when he was pale – not the usual pale, but sick-pale. Draco kept complaining about his back and head and in the end Harry felt like he was being ordered round a bit. But he couldn’t help doing what he was told, if it made Draco feel even a bit better.

Hermione had visited them after the lessons had ended and brought Harry his homework and her notes. When she noticed how the both boys were looking at each other she excused herself but not before smiling and happily hugging Harry and looking sternly at Draco, who only raised his eyebrows, like saying ‘What’cha gonna do about it?’. After quickly admonishing them to use protection, she smiled and disappeared out the door. Draco only shook his head pondering whether he had only imagined her last look at him being somewhat friendly. I have a fever! Hallucinations are probably normal.

But Harry had turned an adorable pink and that pleased Draco to the tips of his toes.

“Why are you blushing, Potter? This can’t be unusual for you, with more than a half of the Hogwarts’ population swooning after you.” Draco had been trying to not think about the amount of flings Harry must have had.

“What?” Harry was taken aback. “Are you kidding?”

Draco only shook his head, trying not to show how annoyed he was by the fact.

“Draco. This is most definitely unusual.”

“Well, I don’t doubt that! I mean, I am me and all.”

“Yes… no. You don’t get it. I have kissed two girls before. That’s it – the end of my extensive sex life,” Harry stated awkwardly, he wasn’t ashamed, but it was intimidating to say that to an experienced person that Draco probably was.

“I have seen you being kissed more than that, no need to be modest.”

“Wha- Oh. They kissed me! I think they consider it a fun activity or something.” Harry pinched the bridge of his nose. “Catch me by surprise and – tadaa – you can tell that to all of your friends.” Harry started motioning with his hands and smiling exaggeratedly. “I kissed Harry Potter! He didn’t like it much, but who cares. I kissed Harry Potter!”

He slouched on Draco’s bed and looked at him.

“Oh.”

“Seems like you don’t believe me.”

“I do, it’s just wrecking all my impressions of you. Damn.”

Harry laughed, “Did you think I was some kind of Casanova?”

“Well… actually…”

“Really?” he furrowed his brows, bewildered and wondering what else was rumoured about him.

“What? And who wouldn’t? You are the saviour of this world! Anyone in your position would take advantage of it.”

“Hm.” He shrugged, “well, I didn’t.”

Draco wanted to be annoyed by how right Harry was, but all he felt was hotness of his skin and gladness that he wasn’t alone.

“I think I will lie down now.” He had been sitting cross-legged since they finished their lunch, Draco despite feeling his very empty stomach couldn’t bring himself to eat more than a couple of vegetables.

Harry jumped off the bed and sat down on the chair that had been moved as close as possible to Draco’s bed. The blond settled and Harry carefully put a blanked over his torso. They spent the remaining time bantering about this and that, occasionally laughing so hard that Harry almost fell off his chair. Madam Pomfrey checked on them frequently, but there was not much she could do, to both of the boys’ dismay. As the evening drew closer Harry felt sleep nagging at his brain and Draco too felt cross-eyed and tired. Draco had suggested that Harry should get some sleep, but Harry had dismissed the idea as ridiculous.

When madam Pomfrey called lights out, she supervised that they both brush their teeth and change in pyjamas. Draco complied simply because he didn’t have the energy to argue, however there was never a time when he didn’t have energy for stating how dumb it was as he couldn’t sleep. She left when they were both tucked in their beds.

As soon as he heard the doors of her rooms close and the lights went out Harry lit up his wand.

“What are you doing?” Draco asked watching the other get out of the bed.

“Well, I’m not sleeping, if you’re not.”

Draco felt a wave of affection overcome him, making a fast decision, he scooted over and gently turned on his side to make space for Harry who raised an eyebrow as Draco moved away from him. Draco rolled his eyes and patted the free space next to him. Harry realised what Draco was suggesting and blushed.

“Oh, come on, Potter. Even if I would consider the hospital wing an appropriate place to sleep with you, I am way too tired. Just come here.” Then his face fell, “if you want to, I mean. You don’t have to.”

Harry shut him up by getting in his bed and smiling.

“Sorry, I am not used to this.”

“It’s fine, it’s fine.”

They lay in Draco’s bed, their bottom halves under the covers and faces inches from each other. Harry’s eyes were falling closed but he kept talking about Quidditch. The next thing he knew - he was babbling about how Doctor Strange was a great movie and Draco was supressing a laugh.

“…not to mention… what?” Harry lightly pushed with his hand on Draco’s stomach.

“Nothing. It’s just that I think you fell asleep and kept talking, but it was very not-coherent.”

“Wow! Don’t laugh at me. I am being polite.”

“Aha. Polite as in making me listen to your drowsiness of a voice? And about some neurosurgeon becoming a sorcerer. What kind of tosh is that?”

“Not tosh, you moron! It’s a marvellous movie.”

“What, in the hell, is a movie?”

“Well… it’s like a moving journal-picture-thingy only with sound and it’s fictional.” Harry kept stumbling over his words, “I will show you sometime.”Hhhhsawegj

 

“Okay.” Draco could see Harry battling with sleep and as amusing as it was the Gryffindor should really get some rest. “Potter…”

“Call me Harry, if you don’t mind.” He closed his eyes for a second.

“…Harry. I think you should really go to sleep. I will be just fine. I will read a book or something.”

“You don’t have a book…”

“No, I don’t… but you’re asleep so it’s okay.”

Harry’s hand tightened around Draco’s and he smiled.

 

Chapter Text

Draco stared at the darkness of the Infirmary trying to occupy his mind with any thought that wasn’t about his burning back. One pleasant thought was Harry sleeping soundly beside him. Another was that he would get the potion tomorrow and be able to sleep.

Ohh, sleep...

What a blissful thought.

His thoughts were stumbling and bumbling and never ever making much sense. He shifted and hid his head against Harry’s chest. His back stung, but that at least gave him something to think about except for his infinite tiredness.

When professor finally makes the potion I will sleep for a couple of weeks, he decided quietly. His mind wondered on, trying to fall asleep until Harry mumbled something.

Draco perked his head up pondering if he wanted Harry to be rested or to entertain him. He pushed his head in to his pillow and groaned, it hadn’t been more than a couple hours but it felt like years had passed since Harry fell asleep. He already settled on lying unmovingly for the rest of the night, letting at least his body rest but Harry muttered again. Draco opened his eyes and tried to see through the darkness, Harry was right there, Draco gently put his fingers on Harry’s cheek.

Harry shifted and Draco realized he must be having a nightmare, his breath had suddenly became ragged and fast. Harry rolled over on his back and shoved Draco’s hand away, he was mumbling quietly and Draco almost jumped out of his pants when Harry suddenly screamed like he was being chased by a fire-breathing dragon. Quickly Draco recovered, sat up, and put his hands on Harry’s.

“Harry, calm down.”

Harry was still breathing heavily.

“No! no! NOOOO! God no…”

“Harry! Wake up. Harry, please, it’s a dream.”

Harry suddenly jerked upright and his hand collided with Draco’s chest, he shuffled away and moved his head around wildly. He scrambled to the bedside table and punched the light on. Draco squinted his eyes and watched Harry wiping his eyes.

“Shit,” he murmured slouched on the side of the bed.

“Harry?”

“Malfoy?” Harry looked up confused.

“Potter!” he shot right back with the surname, but moved closer to put his hand on Harry’s shoulder, he had experienced his fair share of nightmares too so he knew how tormenting they could be.

“Right, Draco.” Harry visibly relaxed and rubbed his eye.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“It’s just the usual.”

Draco looked at him blank.

“I do not know what ‘usual’ you’re referring to, dumbass.”

“Just people dying. Sirius… War. People blaming me for everything.” Harry shuddered and leant his head against the headboard. Draco shuffled forward and settled cross-legged, his fingers intervened with Harry’s.

“You realise you feeling guilty about the war you ended is utterly DUMB.” Draco tried his best to be supportive.

“So sensitive, Draco, it’s joy being around you.”

“If you want somebody soppy around, go hang with your Gryffindor sidekicks.”

Harry snorted.

Draco decided to better listen to Harry’s weird muggle stories than to see his face so gloom.

“Why don’t you tell me more about that Doctor Stranger or what’s his name?”

“I thought you weren’t interested.”

He closed his eyes and shrugged, “the things you do for Harry Potter.”

Soon they were actively debating Harry’s agenda to make Draco sit through all the Supernatural seasons. Draco didn’t seem very keen but Harry was sure he would drop the attitude after seeing a couple of episodes.

“AND DOCTOR WHO!”

“Oh my god, Potter. Quit making me jump,” Draco let out a breath, “I thought you fell asleep… I entered some kind of trance. It was weird.”

Harry laughed at how distressed the other was, and lied back down, his head in Draco’s lap and his feet up on the headboard. His eyes were falling closed themselves and Draco’s voice was lulling him to sleep.

Wait a minute…

“Draco!”

The guilty party that had been quietly mumbling mean things about Harry who hadn’t registered it smiled brilliantly.

“Yes, Harry?”

“You’re so mean,” he said and dragged his hand to poke Draco in the side gently. Draco tried to avoid Harry but unsuccessfully. Draco grabbed Harry’s hand and held it aside.

“My back hurts, scar-head.”

“Oi, shit. Sorry. It felt like you were ticklish not hurt. Forgive me.”

“It’s okay.”  He let go of Harry’s hand. Draco Malfoy and ticklish, NO. Never, totally, never in a thousand years.

Harry dozed off a couple of times, always jumping awake and scaring Draco out of his torpor. By the third time Draco shoved Harry out of his lap and ordered him to get out of the bed, arrange the sheets properly and put his head on their pillow. Drowsily Harry did as told and when his head collided with the pillow he was sleeping in no time. Draco sighed and settled besides Harry on his side watching him sleep. For a second he wondered if he was being a creep but the option of staring at the dark curtains separating the hospital wing was terribly unappealing.

When Harry woke next it was to an excited nudge on his hand, he pushed his face deeper in the pillow not wanting to get up until somebody slapped his upper leg.

“Ow!” lifting his head he saw that it was Draco excitingly shaking a vial, Harry’s eyes moved past him and he saw madam Pomfrey and professor Melbourn talking behind the half drawn curtains. Harry shifted and quickly covered himself, he had a bad habit of sprawling his limbs everywhere except for under the blanket while he slept. His eyes focused on Draco who was beaming.

“Good morning, Draco-”

“Na-ha. It’s good night, honey!” He clinked the vial in thin air and theatrically downed the contents. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and smiled widely. Draco closed his eyes and fell in to the pillow so fast that Harry had to move to not be stuck under him.

“If you wake me before Christmas, I will MURDER you,” he grumbled his face pressed in a pillow.

“Will you?”

With visible force required Draco opened one eye considering Harry’s question, “well, maybe not you. But ANYONE else. And they’re DE-AD.”

“Okay, I got it. Sleep tight.”

Rewarding Harry with a content smile Draco shifted and soon was breathing evenly.

“Mr Potter.” A voice way too awake for this misty time of the morning made Harry look up.

“Yes?”

Fifteen minutes later Harry was boiling and cold at the same time, his robe in his hands he had been thrown out of the hospital wing.

“Just, Merlin. Adults don’t make sense… wait, I’m an adult. GHaAAh.”

Harry was pacing towards his dormitory absolutely ready to curse the next person he sees. Oh, no, wait. He turned for 180° and continued in the direction of the headmistress’ office. When at her door, Harry knocked and waited biting his lip but reminding himself that it was after all an early morning.

“Mr Potter,” she greeted sternly, her eyes mildly glassy from sleeping.

“Professor! So I have a dilemma. These arseholes – excuse my language – put Draco in hospital, I hope you’re aware of that.” She nodded. “Well, I can go beat them up and stuff, but I feel like that wouldn’t be the most mature,Merlin, I’m such a wuss, “option.”

“I yesterday asked Draco about who did this to him but he refused to tell me.”

“That’s his damn pride, professor. It was Karl and the two gorillas, what’re their names… Frenk and…”

“Bob and Hank I believe.”

“Yes, right.”

“I will address this issue right away,” she snapped the doors shut and after three minutes emerged with her robe and with a look so menacing that until Harry remembered just who she was going to deal with, he almost felt sorry for them. Professor walked towards the eight year’s common rooms on the way stopping and ordering a sleepy madam Hooch to get Bob and Karl from the Gryffindor dormitory and escort them to her office.

When they had entered she pulled out her wand and amplified her voice. Harry stepped away and covered his ears.

“MR WORPORM! You’re requested in the headmaster office at once!”

A couple of thuds came from the bedrooms and some people hang their heads out the doors to see what was happening. Most of them hurriedly disappeared right after seeing how pissed off professor McGonagall was. Hank came down badly pretending to have no idea what this was about.

Harry clenched his fists not to attack him right then and there. He watched him being led out and wished he could be there when Minerva deals with them, oh, how he wished. They were all sick bastards and deserved to be in a correction facility till their ears rot off.

“Harry! Mate!”

If somebody hadn’t woken up yet Ron’s shout most certainly destroyed that possibility.

“Ron.”

Hermione and few people – most of the eight year dormitories’ occupants – joined Ron while Harry told what the three Gryffindors had done. He didn’t mention Draco’s name.

Some Ravenclaw girl pressed her hands against her mouth mumbling something, people around her annoyed asked her to repeat it properly.

“I heard Karl boasting yesterday that he dealt with a snake. But I never thought… that’s sick.”

“That’s disgusting…”

“Yea. They are not Gryffindors!”

“They’re cowards!”

“Three against one. It’s pathetic.”

“Their house doesn’t even matter. They’re trough and trough bastards.”

“They will be expelled for sure.”

“And you say the one they attacked was Slytherin?”

“Oh, yeah, man. The payback will be wicked. Their grandchildren will probably feel the echoes of it.”

People kept discussing the matter until it was time for breakfast, then all eight years changed in to robes and left the common room empty. Joint plan was to make their last hours a living hell if they dared to show their ugly mugs.

They did dare. They entered the great hall while everyone was having breakfast. After all eight years stopped and mutely watched what the shook Gryffindors would do, everyone else quieted down too and tried to find out what was the deal. Karl shook his head and propping his head high walked over to the Gryffindor table, when he tried to sit, a cold voice stopped him.

“Death eaters are not welcomed at this table.”

At first he stared blankly then he realised that Dean was talking to him.

“What?! I’m not a death eater, you dumb-shits.” He looked around only to see accusing or confused faces watching him and Dean who had stood up to show them their place. “I did to him what he deserved. He is the death eater!”

“Hurting people because of their parents. Doesn’t that sound familiar?”

“Just be thankful your parents weren’t death eaters cause with your brain capacity you wouldn’t have lasted a day.” Eight year Hufflepuff stood up.

Karl was left with an open mouth. Seamus too stood up.

“This here, ladies and gentlemen, is an example of prime quality bastards. They are known to have no ability to make sensible decisions and resort to violence to settle their problems.”

“Look, you see? This one is drawing his wand right now because his brain can’t produce any excuse or an answer.”

Bob froze with his hand about to reach for his wand and looked at Karl expectantly. But Karl was busy wallowing in his nightmare. He was being called what he hated the most in the whole world. More and more people got the outlines of the story and he felt his pride crumble. He started doubting his opinion if apparently that was not what others deemed appropriate.

As Dean and Seamus kept loudly proclaiming and bashing him, every minute more people started to laugh at the three now surrounded beside the Gryffindor table.

“The men who defeated a man one to three, how brave!”

“Truly worthy to call themselves death eaters. They were never seen to fight one on one either.”

People were laughing mercilessly, calming those who wanted to mark the bastards more permanently.

Bob, Hank, and Karl stood together looking around anticipating curses to soon start flying. But they didn’t. Wands were clenched in hands (some may have snapped), words ‘I’m not like them’ were repeated over and over in some heads.

Some first year launched a cake and it landed on the top of the three Gryffindors’ heads. Everyone cheered and laughed as they finally took the hint and ran out of the hall covering their heads from the flying food.

After a couple of shouts after the fleeing Gryffindors the hall settled. Everyone was pumped but it expressed in violent attacks on food and promises to never ever be a like death eaters.

And that was that. Harry never saw Karl or Bank or Hob ever again.

After Harry had finished his breakfast and realized that he would have to go to lessons he stood up and exited the hall to get his things from the dormitory. He stopped surprised when two girls – two Elizabeths – stopped in front of him.

“Harry Potter.”

“Elizabeth? What…”

He looked from one girl to other wondering which one was the one he had met in the library that day.

“Meet my sister Maya.”

“Nice to meet you,” he said recovering from his surprise.

“I wanted to ask, how is Draco Malfoy? He looked pretty terrible,” Maya stated.

“Yea, he totally looked like he was going to die,” Elizabeth agreed.

“Well, he didn’t. He is resting now. He will probably be up in a couple of days,” Harry answered before realizing that they were not supposed to know who had been attacked.

“That’s good to hear. I ran like crazy, would be shame if he died,” Elizabeth said.

“What?.. You were the ones to find him?”

“Yes. We were walking and then heard an owl hooting. Seemed like it needed help so we entered and there he was pale as a ghost in a puddle of a bright red blood. I thought he was going to pass out but he didn’t, only cried when I mentioned you...” Maya pushed her with her elbow and Elizabeth closed her lips before more details poured out.

“He what? Okay, listen. Can you not tell anyone else anything about this? He wouldn’t want the whole school knowing that, okay?”

Elizabeth seemed doubtful, but Maya nodded.

“Of course.”

Elizabeth nodded after her.

After that, already knowing he was going to be late, Harry ran to his room, grabbed his bag and ran in to the bathroom, quickly rinsing his face and trying to run his fingers through his hair. He gave up after his fingers got stuck the third time.

Then he hurried to class and entered only a couple of minutes late. Impatiently he sat through the morning classes and then not waiting for his classmates that were asking him to lunch ran to the hospital wing. He quietly opened the doors and quickly stalked over to the curtains. Just as he was about to open them, a quiet but stern voice from behind made him freeze.

“Mr Potter. He is still asleep and you would do well not to wake him. Poor boy needs to rest.”

“Don’t let him hear you call him that.”

Madam Pomfrey chuckled but motioned Harry out the doors.

“I will come after lessons end.”

She sighed desperately, “I suppose I can’t persuade you otherwise.”

Harry ate his lunch listening to Hermione reciting all the homework he was behind on. He felt pretty hopeless until Ron nudged her and she said that he, of course, could use her notes. Harry bowed pressing his hands together and thanked her from the bottom of his heart. The lessons dragged on, Harry couldn’t help himself to not tap his fingers or to beat his heel against the floor. After the last lesson ended he practically flew to the hospital wing.

His breath heavy he opened the door quietly, waved to madam Pomfrey who leaned out of her office and looked at the clock impressed by how fast Harry had gotten here. She pressed her finger to her lips and after Harry nodded disappeared behind the doors. Harry made his way to Draco’s bed and as quietly as possible settled down to do some studying.

Draco slept unmovingly, his breath even and never a shadow of worry crossing his face. Every couple of minutes Harry would catch himself watching the blond and marvelling at his luck. Then he would flush at his own soppiness and he would go back to studying for a bit. Nothing new happened until dinnertime. Harry had finished a crazy amount of work and his wrist was aching as was his back from sitting uncomfortably in the infirmary’s chair. He got up, stretched his back, and sat down on the floor, his back to the bed. Soon the floor around him was covered in parchment, open books, and his half-done essays.

He jumped when he registered footsteps coming his way. Instinctively he searched for his wand with his eyes, it was lying on the chair he had sat on. Before he could grab it the curtains were carefully pulled open. He saw Ron’s face perking in, behind him Hermione with a plate full of food. Harry dropped his shoulders relieved and thankful. Ron opened his mouth but Hermione hit him on the shoulder and he bit his tongue. Harry got up and they all stepped away from the sleeping dragon.

“Harry, I am so glad to see you studying,” Hermione praised in a hushed voice. Ron only stole some bread from the tray.

“Thank you guys, I’m famished.”

“We thought you would be,” Ron said proudly then he shook his head and smiled. “You’re NUTS Harry, for one it’s Malfoy. For two YOU’RE studying more than Hermione!

“Shhhhh! Merlin, Ron, do you have a death wish?” Hermione tried to stop the disaster.

A groan from behind the curtains seized Ron’s eyes.

“I HATE YOUR FRIENDS, POTTER!”

“Right back ach‘ya,” Ron called not feeling bad at all.

“Ron! Quit being a prat,” Hermione took the plate from him and shoved it in Harry’s hands.

“Granger’s voice is even WORSE. MERLINS PANTS. GO AWAY.”

“Okay, nice to see – hear you Malfoy. Teach him some manners, Harry, please.” Hermione grabbed Ron and left Harry standing smiling widely at Draco’s lively tone.

“You better hope they brought some food or I will go hunt them down right now!” Draco called. Harry let out a breath, braced himself, and approached Draco’s bed.

“They did bring food,” Harry said smiling at Draco’s fiery glare from under the white blankets. His hair was up in all angles yet still managed to look amazing.

They ate, Draco despite his grouching behaviour was in a great mood and he laughed like tickled when Harry told about what had happened at the breakfast. Of course, after about a minute acting mad that Harry had told McGonagall. Harry was also happy, Draco looked ten times better after sleeping.

“Do you hear that?”

Harry listened still smiling. “What?”

Draco lifted his finger, “There, that!” he said.

This time Harry had also heard it – a light scratching from the doors. Harry got up and opened the doors, Draco watched him from the bed. As soon as Harry saw the black owl on the floor he crouched down to pick it up. The bird had been holding a wand in it’s beak and now he irritably spat it out, Harry caught it wondering where had Lucifer gotten a wand.

“Lucifer! What has happened to you? What’s wrong with your wings? Merlin.” Harry mussed and Draco simply watched amused until he recognised the owl.

“Wait a minute… I know that owl. That’s the bird the Bob and the other gorilla was tormenting.”

“For Merlin’s sake. Lucifer.”

The owl only hooted proudly.

“You grotesque gargoyle! Your hooting almost drove me insane,” Draco recalled shaking his finger at the black bird who only crooked his head as to rethinking Draco words and then hooted once. Draco raised his eyebrows. Owl hooted again, exactly the same tone. Draco frowned daring the owl to do that again. “Hoot!” Draco sat upright and pointed a finger at the owl.

“If you do that one –” hoot. “Incredible!” Draco dropped his hands and bit in to an apple angrily, wincing every time the owl hooted. Harry shook the owl slightly to revert his attention to him and gave him a look that asked him not to irritate Draco. Owl seemed to roll his eyes and jumped up down, awkwardly moving his wings that seemed to be in the process of healing. He hooted once more in the same tone and then let out a cacophony of happy hoots, nudging at Harry’s thumb.

After giving some food to Lucifer Harry settled on Draco’s bed, he gave him back the wand realising that it must be Draco’s and that earned the owl a less murdery glance from the blond.

“Come on, Harry, pass me some juice.”

“Can’t you reach it yourself?” Harry leaned behind Draco and grabbed the glass. Draco pushed Harry’s hand and with a lean movement settled on top of Harry’s torso.

“I can,” he said smiling at Harry’s flushed face under him. He grabbed Harry’s wrists and restrained them besides Harry’s head.

Harry was about to complain about Draco’s disrespectful attitude, but the blond managed to shut him up by a kiss. Harry closed his eyes and when Draco lifted his head frowned, next thing he felt was a cold strawberry on his lips.

If Draco had seen anyone else act as sweetly and couply he unfalteringly would have called them a pair of soppy Hufflepuffs. But as it was himself the thought only briefly passed through his brain. While madam Pomfrey checked up on Draco Harry went back to breaking his mind over a potions essay. While writing the word ‘denation’ he suddenly remembered that Melbourn had sentenced them detention.

He said that to Draco who groaned falling backwards on the bed witch in its turn caused him to groan in pain. Rubbing his eyes he turned over on his stomach and rested his head on his palms, watching Harry write over his shoulder.

“What the hell are you writing?”

“My potions essay. What does it look like?”

“I don’t know… maybe like CRAP.”

“Well. That’s nice.” Harry flicked with his quill in Draco’s direction.

Draco pulled Harry in to the bed and helped him to redo the essay. Harry could feel Draco battling sleep and he yawned a couple of times intentionally, for what he received a push in his ribs and a smile.

Soon Draco’s head fell right there on Harrys almost finished homework, and he furrowed his brows shifting in to more comfortable position. Harry stealthily dropped his essay to the floor along with the quill and decided to worry about everything later. Right now he was safe, happy and together with Draco. The thoughts about the future and about past didn’t even get a snipped of Harry tonight. He was being kept safe by his happiness. Soon his head too sagged and he slipped in to realm of sleep.


 

Since the public bashing of the three Gryffindors the worst thing you could be called became a death eater. The words weren’t said lightly and everyone tried their best not to be unfair in any way. Harry sometimes felt like his heart was about to burst. Comparing the beginning of the year and now it was like night and day.

The Duelling Club tournaments gained huge popularity and Harry spent a huge amount of time preparing various tasks, he asked many of his friends no longer in Hogwarts to help and every single event was more fantastic than the previous. Draco who didn’t have to watch his back for curses anymore helped Harry a lot and made the tasks twice as exciting.

After the first shock that Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy were dating passed they were mostly left alone. As alone as Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy ever was. They didn’t worry much and if they got too annoyed by the people they simply left and wondered around Hogwarts’ grounds on brooms or on foot.


 

Draco almost had a heart-attack when Ron had stiffly invited him and his mother over for Christmas diner. He had tripped over his legs and had to steady himself on Harry who was giggling about Draco’s terrified expression.

“And there will be Weasleys there?” he made sure green at face.

“Well, IT’S MY HOUSE! What do you think?”

“Oh my god, I think I need to lie down,” Draco said weakly and heavily sat down. Harry lost his shit and only laughed while Ron almost retracted his invitation in irritation. Hermione had called Draco a weakling and that had spurred him out of the shock.

“I will inform my mother.”


 

This year later made the history books as the first year that the house cup was a draw. Between all four houses.

 

 

Chapter Text

Harry pushed the doors of Grimmauld Place with his elbow while trying to balance all the bags of food and a few last minute gifts in his hands. He brushed the snow off his boots and entered the house, letting the smile which had been reappearing on his face while wandering around the town turn into an elated grin. He breathed his lungs full with the smell of cinnamon from the mornings cooking, his fingers slowly regaining some warmth after being in cold.

He let out a happy sigh, and as he was about to call Draco the sound of footsteps reached his ears. Harry closed his mouth and placed his bags and parcels on a cupboard. He caught the hat that he had placed carelessly before it could slip off the edge and threw it in an empty drawer, sliding it closed with a satisfying clink. Dumping his boots by the coat hanger he grabbed two bags of food and walked into the kitchen.

While storing away the food he shook off his new cloak that had been, according to Draco, ‘a must have if I’m ever going out in public with you again.’ Shopping with the royal Slytherin had been an experience Harry would remember for a long time. After Draco had proclaimed that Harry must acquire a suitable amount of clothing immediately, the blond had practically dragged Harry to the fanciest wizard cloth stores Harry never had known even existed. The next day Harry had returned the favour and introduced Draco to his favourite muggle shopping centres. At first the blond had been less than impressed by the ‘low-level’ muggle shops, but soon he had to admit that not everything was terrible; he had even ended up getting them matching t-shirts.

The cashier hadn’t had any clue who was in front of her; she kept cooing about how KAWAII they both were and that they should come back wearing those shirts. Draco almost committed a homicide.

Harry had to drag him away while he kept bragging about how Malfoys were never cute or adorable. The girl couldn’t be bothered less; she kept smiling sweetly wishing them a happy Christmas. Draco had still been fretting when they exited the shop, so Harry had rolled his eyes and kissed him, making the blond forget all about the girl. That was until they had been surprised by an over excited squeal from the other side of the glass. Draco had shot her his best death glare that would leave a man twice his size docile, but the girl had only grinned wider, and with her head crooked to one side, had waved her hand until they had left. Draco had almost gone back into the shop to clarify her place in the universe, but Harry had managed to distract him with the talks of home-made food.

Harry hummed quietly while placing the groceries; halfway done he got distracted by the fantasy book he had bought earlier. It kept him oblivious to the groan that came from the hallway a few minutes later.

“— Harry? I’m talking to you.”

Harry gave a non-coherent answer not lifting his head. His eyes didn’t leave the page even when Draco entered the kitchen

You—” Draco let Harry’s wide, green eyes met his, “left your boots in the middle of the hallway again…”

“Uhm, sorry, Draco,” Harry murmured, looking as carefree as one possibly could. He shut the book and leaned back in his chair, turning his face to the blond.

“Don’t pretend, Potter. You’re just trying to make me lose my patience.” Draco glanced around and noticed the wet cloak and the water dripping from it to the floor. “Can’t you use any spells?”

With a swish of a wand the coat was dry and with another it was put in the proper place, and Harry couldn’t help but wonder why Draco wanted everything so darn neat. Before the black-haired man could say anything Draco started rummaging through the groceries presumably…

Shit. Harry silently facepalmed himself.

“Where is my tea?” asked Draco, looking back at Harry expectantly. The special Christmas Killer tea was sold in one place in London, only for a couple of days before Christmas, and Draco had specially asked Harry to get it for him as it was the last day. Harry turned his face away guiltily, pushing the book in front of him forward.

“In the shop...?” he said quietly, bracing for a tantrum.

“Potter, I asked you one thing. One! Honestly—”

“I got us some green tea and black too—”

“No, I wanted that precise brand. Was it too hard for your quaggy Gryffindor brain to remember?”

“Oh, Draco, why couldn’t you go get it then? I don’t orientate well in your upper-class notorious herb shops. I couldn’t find it.”

“I asked you if you need directions! You know what you said?” he asked not giving Harry enough time to respond. “You said ‘I never need directions.’”

“Yes—” Harry rolled his eyes.

“You’re ridiculous.” Draco shook his head and slouched down in a chair unhappily, toying with an apple.

“But I got you something else.”

“I don’t care,” Draco spat angrily, though his eyes left the surface of the table for a second, his curiosity showing clearly.

“Uhh, but you will like it.” At least I hope so. “Wait a sec.”

Harry quickly walked back to the hallway, fished a parcel out of one of the shopping bags and trotted back into the kitchen. Draco was sitting expectantly with a look on his face that said: this better be good or you’re sleeping on the couch tonight.

He tore the brown wrapping paper unceremoniously, revealing the back of a photo frame. Crooking his eyebrows at Harry questioningly, Draco slowly turned it over. Harry scratched the back of his head worriedly and bit his lip wondering if Draco would like the gift as the blond stood there, staring at the picture in his hands.

“Colin Creevey’s brother, Dennis, made it for me. He has taken up photography after his brother—” Harry babbled as the silence stretched on for minutes. “I thought it would look nice in the hallway, next to the other photographs. I just, thought... but if you don’t like it we can just…”

“Stop.”

“I— Okay.”

The picture in Draco’s hands was from a windy day they had went out flying. It showed Draco laughing at Harry. The latter was lying on the ground, trying not to smile (unsuccessfully). The Slytherin had swept the other off his feet and had caught the snitch in two fingers. That was still one of Draco’s brightest moments. He hadn’t even noticed other people around.

“The frame is horrendous…”

Harry visibly deflated.

“But I love it.” Draco finished, smiling at Harry who let a relieved breath out.

“I’m still mad about the CK tea, though.” Draco dragged his fingers along the glass frame, watching himself laugh again and again, his blue hair surging around his head in the strong wind.

“Uph.” Harry rolled his eyes but hugged Draco happily.

“Get off me you memoryless cat-head.”

Draco then bullied Harry into helping him put food in place, all the while ridiculing the amount of tangerines he had bought. Harry argued that the amount of apples Draco had ordered him to get was no less ridiculous.

They spent the day in the living room, Harry wrapping presents, trying to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anyone, Draco, seemingly calm, reading a book, his eyes only leaving pages when Harry frantically tossed some wrapping paper right at him. Harry asked whether it was really okay that he was here for Christmas no less than 3 times. Like each time before, Harry’s face lit up with happiness when Draco said that there was no place he would rather be. Besides, as his mother was visiting friends in France, there was not much in the mansion except for cold hallways and rooms filled with nothing but memories, the bad ones far outweighing the good ones.

At least here Draco could forget most of his worries and rest. The end of the semester had taken a toll on him, it had gotten Harry to the point when he purposefully let Draco oversleep one day. After that he didn’t hear the end of it for a week. Draco had bashed him for destroying his future and overall was a drama-queen at his best. Harry had only been glad that Draco had enough energy to nag him about it.

When Harry restarted shuffling trough the mess he had made of their coffee table and the rug under it, Draco’s attention was caught by the tree standing in the corner of the room, the lights blazing irregularly. At the beginning of the break, Harry had pulled the tree out of a cupboard and put it together by hand, ignoring Draco’s offers to cast a spell. Draco adverted his eyes, never in his life he had ever seen a tree decorated that sloppily.

In manor everything was color-schemed every year: the bobbles on the tree, garlands with not-melting snow, the wreath on their door, stocking hanging above the fireplace in the big hall, and even their house elves’ hats. But this tree… Draco looked it up and down once again.

It was a disaster. There was not even a slightest hint at a pattern in which the decorations had been slapped on. His eyes traveled to the top of the tree, stopping at a figurine of what looked like was a man with white wings in a trench coat. Draco shook his head, disbelieving that he had actually enjoyed the practice that lefts such unsettling results.

Harry had turned on a cracking radio that played sweet Christmas songs and started to decorate the tree from a box filled with tangled baubles. In three minutes Draco had spelled the radio in order, and started trying to make the tree at least slightly aesthetically pleasing.

He only put up with the different trinkets because they looked new and Draco hoped he could make Harry buy something more suitable next year, little did he know Harry was never planning on throwing these out. He liked them. Draco had attempted to propose that they go out and get united decorations for the whole house, but Harry had looked at him offended and continued to purposefully cut snowflakes out of paper.

If Draco was completely honest he only irked because it was all different from how he had been raised up. Harry had his ideas about how he wanted to spend his Christmas and nothing could be amiss, he spent hours decorating the doors and windows from outside and after Draco cast a couple of handy spells that made the wreath on the door always look ravishing, he also had to admit the house looked if far from neat, definitely festive.

Some sort of ‘festive’ anyway.

Harry seemed to be delirious to organize everything. He wasn’t at the Burrow helping to prepare for the Christmas dinner only because, when he had showed up at six in the morning, Molly had ordered him to get some rest and come no sooner than four in the evening. Harry had slept for an hour and then announced that he was going shopping and left a half-awake Draco murmuring about what he will do if Harry would forget his tea.

Now Harry was battling the feeling that he had forgotten someone, not being able to put his finger on who. Draco had tried to help by listing the Weasleys, but Harry only shook his head at everything. Draco gave up saying that Harry probably forgot his owl, in reply Harry threw a box of owl treats at him annoyed. They scattered all over the couch.

“Now I’m gonna stink of bird food, great job, Potter.”

“Shut up.”

Harry sourly got up to clean up the coach. Draco still annoyed, tripped him, causing Harry to land in the mess.

“Well then, we will both stink of bird food,” he said leaning towards the fallen boy.

“Fuck you Draco Malfoy,” Harry said against Draco’s lips. Tossing the book aside, Harry claimed his rightful place in Draco’s lap.

“Fuck you too, scar-head,” Draco said ripping their lips apart for a second, Harry only shook his head and kissed the blonde again.

When the snogging session ended Harry made himself comfortable, resting his head on Draco’s knees, his feet hanging over the side of the couch. Draco was deep in thought, his fingers playing with Harry’s messy hair. Harry just watched Draco’s expression, his silvery eyes were looking out the window, tracing the snowflakes and his brows were relaxed. Only things that didn’t seem at peace were his flushed lips, pressed together tightly. If Harry thought about it, Draco had been more irritated than usual all day.

“Is something wrong?” Harry asked, his head instantly filling with the worst possible reasons for Draco’s bad mood.

“Hmpf?” Draco looked at Harry, “I mean, what?” he corrected himself, crinkling his forehead, not content with the fact that he was mumbling.

“Is something wrong?”

Is Draco having second thoughts about us? Is he getting bored of me? Did I do something? Is Draco going to blame me for something I can’t change anymore?

Shut up, Harry, he hasn’t even said anything yet!

He stopped mulling about what he didn’t know and waited for Draco to say something.

“It’s nothing, really.”

“Did I ruin Christmas? I just, this is my first Christmas that is my own. When I was little I could only get a faint whiff of the festivities and later in Hogwarts… it was wonderful, but this is my own. I know it’s probably nothing like you are used to. I just wanted to…”

“Harry.” Draco turned Harry’s head so they would be looking one another in the eye. “Honestly, only you could be so full of yourself to think that you could unilaterally destroy Christmas for me. I admit it’s nothing like I am used to… but discard a few things…” He eyed the tree again. “It’s perfect.”

“Okay, if it’s not that…” Harry tried to keep his mind off the worst things Draco could say.

“It’s nothing, okay?”

“Okay,” Harry hoped his voice didn’t sound as scanty as he felt. Draco frowned but didn’t say anything else. When Harry couldn’t stay still anymore he cleared his throat and lifted himself from the comfortable position.

“I need to finish these.”

“You should have done it yesterday. Or last week like I did.”

“I know, Mr I-always-do-everything-on-time.”

Draco chuckled, Harry slipped down from the couch, settling on the carpet cross-legged. He tried to keep his thoughts on duck-taping the wrapping paper, but an unwelcomed voice kept a part of his mind occupied. After he ripped the paper in the wrong place three times in a row, he gave up and sighed.

“I will go make myself a cup of tea. Want some?”

“No. On Christmas I drink only CK tea.”

“Oh, come on. I already apologized for that.”

“Actually, I don’t believe you did.”

“Well, I am now. I’m sorry for ruining your Christmas, okay?”

“You didn’t-” but Harry had already left the room.

Oh, what did I do?

Draco picked up the book, straightening the pages and closed it, using one of the paper strips as a book-mark.

Why does Harry even put up with me? Maybe I’m ruining his Christmas. Well, if not now, for sure when we get to Burrow.

Draco had been nervous about going to the Weasley family’s dinner since the day he had been invited, but even more since his mother had said that she won’t be able to make it. Now, when it was only a couple of hours away, he was stressing to the point when he considered faking illness and staying at Harry’s place.

If he wouldn’t get murdered by the Weasley brats, Mr and Mrs Weasley, who almost lost their children in the Battle, they for sure will at least maim him. Not only that, but Draco wasn’t sure how to deal with the Weasel girl. She and Harry had been together, in Hogwarts Draco and her were on even grounds, but in the Weasley den, she could change her attitude. Besides he had a feeling that he could never fit in the Burrow’s atmosphere. When more than two Weasleys had come over, he already felt uneasy and out of place. In a house packed with them… he didn’t have a clue how to prepare for the mental trauma.

When Harry came back, Draco pleased registered that Harry didn’t seem as upset anymore, what was more, he had ignored Draco’s refusal and made two mugs of tea.

“Here you go, I know it’s not the tea you wanted…”

“Shut up,” Draco didn’t let him finish and took he warm cup in his hands, “thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Harry placed his own cup on the coffee table smiling obviously pleased with himself. Feeling better Harry re-started wrapping the presents. When he was almost finished Draco interrupted him.

“Harry?”

“Mhm?” he said tearing a piece of tape with his teeth.

“You know there is a spell for doing that, right?”

Harry froze with one hand holding together the paper over the box and the tape hanging from his mouth. Slowly he turned and looked at Draco. He spat out the roll of tape and slurred:

“Seriously?”

Draco laughed. “Of course.”

“Well, why didn’t you tell me?”

“I thought you knew and you were just doing it the muggle way for some weird reason.”

“Why would I do that?” Harry shook his head. “Are you kidding me? Draco, what’s the spell?”

Draco pointed with his wand at the disaster that was Harry’s attempts at gift wrapping. After saying the spell the paper smoothed, sealed itself and a bow with a name tag hanging from it appeared in the middle.

“I could have been finished in minutes!” Harry took the neatly wrapped box in his hands and turned over the name tag. “Draco!”

“What? What?”

“It says Weasley brother Nr 3.

“Does it?” Draco raised his eyebrows, smirking and not looking away from the book in his lap.

Harry put the box down and jumped on the couch almost causing Draco to spill his tea.

“Harry! Be care…”

“Draaacoo, you have to change the tag. That’s rude.”

“Rude, is it? I think more rude is that they are all tall, red-haired and freckled. How do you tell them apart?” Draco said, but he was exaggerating slightly. One had glasses, one had a dragon tooth on his neck and shaved sides, another one had scars on his face and then the twins and then the Weaslel and the girl. He knew them alright, if he bothered he even could recall their names. Probably.

“It’s for Bill and Fleur. You didn’t even get the number right.”

“Shut up, fine, I will change it.” Draco willed the appropriate names appear, Harry kissed him on the lips briefly as a thanks. He was about to clean up the floor, but Draco took him by his waist and kissed again. When Draco lifted his lips from Harry’s he kept his eyes closed, hiding his face in the crook of the other’s neck. Harry settled in the hug contently.

“Harry?” Draco’s voice was quiet, but didn’t give away what he was thinking.

“Yea?”

“I have a bad feeling about going to the Weasley dinner.” Draco straightened his back, scratched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. “My gut is doing something weird, I haven’t been this anxious about anything for a long time. It’s ridiculous.”

“No, it’s okay. Draco, look at me.” Harry lifted Draco’s head by his chin, kissing his nose lightly. “It’s okay.”

“Maybe…” Draco didn’t want to disappoint Harry by running away from the unpleasantries, but he was used to it. He had control, he could choose to ditch the family diner and go to a restaurant by himself, letting Harry enjoy time with his friends without Draco spoiling the mood.

Harry had guessed where Draco’s train of thought was heading and, quickly running the numbers of what kind of present he would have to get Mrs Weasley for not being there, he decided.

“You know? Let’s ditch the dinner. We can just have pizza. Or I can start cooking and we can have our own dinner. I should have thought that you wouldn’t want to go there. Maybe next year.” Harry leaned in and kissed the surprised blonde right on the lips.

All the astonished party could do was stare at the wildly-haired man, sitting in his lap beaming, hands around his neck, acting like what Draco had said was the simplest thing. Draco knew Harry was there, he felt his strong arms resting on his shoulders, his bum was comfortably placed on Draco’s legs and Draco hands were still gripping Harry’s waist, but at the same time it was like Harry was too good to be true.

Draco squeezed Harry tighter, earning a surprised glance, Draco shook his head, landing a kiss on Harry’s lips. Harry tangled his hands in Draco’s silky hair and arched his back as he felt other’s strong arms on his back.

“Was…” Draco didn’t let him finish, but Harry retracted his head again. “Was that what’s bothering you?”

Draco nodded, his hands tightly around Harry, their chests pressed together moving together as they drew deep breaths. The blonde didn’t meet Harry’s eyes for a minute, Harry shifted his weight making Draco shiver.

“I’m sorry…”

Harry didn’t let Draco finish.

“Nothing to be sorry about, I will just send these,” he threw his head back to the presents on the rug, “with Lucifer and we can have our own Christmas diner.”

Draco looked at the gifts as well. The first one that Harry had wrapped looked decent, then as Harry’s patience ran out they became more and more chaotic. Draco recalled as Harry had mussed and praised Molly’s cooking, the twins’ Christmas crackers and seeing Teddy again. Draco couldn’t keep him for himself.

“No, no, Potter. You go, I will have some me time.”

Harry pushed Draco against the back of the sofa raising an eyebrow. “Last time I suggested that you take some time to yourself you hexed our hands together for four days.”

As Draco recalled the last week at Hogwarts, his face involuntarily twitched in a sly smile. That sure had been fun.

“No seriously, Draco, I’m not spending Christmas without you.”

Draco slouched his head down, his eyes first glancing at the ceiling then peeking at Harry who was waiting for him to say something with his head crooked. The black hair hanging around his head like a lion’s mane, his eyes were bright, the Christmas lights’ reflections glimmering in Harry’s glasses. The blonde let out a sigh.

“Fine then. We will both go.”

“Really?” Harry jumped up and down like an excited puppy.

“Yes. Yes. But you will promise me a couple of things…”

Harry kissed him. He had been completely ready to stay here with his boyfriend, but he also had been looking forward to spending time with Weasleys and Teddy.

After Harry had solemnly swore not to leave Draco’s side at any cost, they both finished their drinks and Draco spurred off to decide what to wear. Harry left him at it to make some light lunch. When Harry was reaching for the bread that Draco had shoved on the highest shelf, the same devil barged in to the kitchen, his eyes warning about a murder about to occur.

“What is accustomed to wear to Weasley diners?” he asked looking down the gowns in his hands. “This one is probably too flashy,” he threw the green one on the floor that left him with a silver one and a black one. “WitCH oNe?”

“Draco, calm down. A shirt will probably do.”

“Really?” Draco looked over the clothes in his hands again. “When we got invited to Christmas dinner, we always had to dress to impress.”

“You will impress everyone no matter what you wear,” Harry said.

Draco forsake looking over the silvery cloak’s sleeve and blushed. Harry glanced at him to see why he had calmed and rolled his eyes, saying:

“Oh, come on, it’s not like you don’t say stuff like that all the time.”

“Shut up.” Draco emptied his hands dramatically throwing the cloaks in the air and approached Harry. “I decided to wear the white shirt with the black buttons, the new one.” He said before pressing Harry against the counter and kissing him senseless. After Draco had already danced out of the rom Harry was still panting, steadying himself against the sink.

They had lunch with several kissing breaks because Harry kept complimenting Draco. He couldn’t help himself, the blonde in a tight button-up and dark pants that showed of his body as it was – flawless made him go nuts. At one point Draco had thrown their lunch to the floor and gracefully claimed the place on the table in front of Harry.

The time flew by and soon they had to get ready to leave. Draco’s anxiousness came back, but Harry swept it right back out with a heated kiss. Harry’s presents stacked in hands, Draco’s neatly levitating beside him, they exited the house and left it behind, Disappariting in the dark.

They landed a couple of steps away from the Burrow’s gate, knee deep in snow, which was still falling from the sky. Harry struggled to pick up a package that had escaped his grasp after landing, Draco stayed quiet string at the unfamiliar abode. The bright warm windows illuminated the yard, the Christmas lights shining in the nearby trees and around the house itself. Harry could see friendly shadows moving through the living room’s windows. All Draco could see was the house looming over him, threatening to swallow him whole.

Straightening his back Harry nudged Draco with his elbow and called over the wind:

“Come on, let’s go. It’s freezing.” He stepped forward but as Draco seemed hesitant, he rolled his eyes and taking one of the gifts in his teeth, grabbed Draco’s hand and pulled him towards the gate.

They entered the Weasley territory, stepping on a cleaned out path leading to the house. The wind subsided.

“Are you ready?” Harry asked, but when Draco shot a desperate glance at him, grinned and opened the doors. Immediately he was affronted by a flushed richly-haired girl that hugged him, squeezing all air out of his lungs.

“There, there, Hermione, we only met a couple of days ago,” Harry reminded hugging her back.

“Right. Merry Christmas.” She let go, letting Ron reach their best friend, and turned to Draco. He opened his mouth to say merry Christmas, but didn’t get that far.

“Draco. It’s nice to see you,” she said before leaning in and squeezing his torso, he stayed still until she let him go saying, “Merry Christmas.”

“Thanks. You too,” he said, running on autopilot.

She stepped away, nudging Ron who turned towards the ex-nemesis stiffly. Draco concealed the dread at the idea that the tall freckled man would try to hug him too.

“It’s Christmas, not Suicide day, I’m not hugging you,” Ron said extending his hand, Draco took it relieved and they wished each other the wishes of the season. While Harry was giving the presents to Ron and Hermione, a fast being with long red hair assaulted Harry and he got the air knocked out of him for the second time today. Ginny hugged him briefly and then stepped back looking him over quickly. Seemingly happy with what she saw she gave the same look to Draco who couldn’t get his eyes to leave her head-decoration, a garland... or a couple swirled up in a turban and on top of it a pair of shining devil’s horns.

“MERRY Christmas, boys!” she shouted at the top of her lungs, surprising Draco so much that he couldn’t even muster a proper response. He jumped again when an unrecognizable noise came from what he suspected was some kind of living room.

Hugging? Shouting? Running? What is that roar? What kind of rave have I entered? I thought this was a dinner…

“To you too, Gin. Draco is also happy to see you.” He glanced at Draco who was standing frozen, his face blank. “Here you go.” Harry gave her the present.

When Harry entered the living room that was buzzing with people, he got his lungs deflated for the third time. Two twins hung to his neck, shouting his ears full of Christmas wishes. Other occupants of the room greeted Draco and Harry in a chorus, not leaving their places. Ginny finally decided to put a stop to her brothers’ pesters and shoved both of them off Harry. They tried to make a move on Draco, but he swiftly got out his wand and put a reasonable distance between them. They gave up and settled back down after throwing a garland over Draco’s neck. He tore it off and put it on the table next to him, with annoyance he noticed that his hands were shaking slightly. He clenched his fists and gripped his wand tighter.

What sort of freak show is this? Everyone is running around screaming, I will get a heart attack if one more person tries to hug me…

DRACO. Get a grip. Yes, okay.

The blonde drew a deep breath and calmed his face. Freak show or not, he was Draco sodding Malfoy and if there was something he knew how to do, it was how to make an impression. Clearing his throat he straightened his back and lifted his wand to his throat.

“Can I ask you attention for a second?” he let his voice – calm and confident – carry through the room. Waiting until everyone was watching him he took a step forward, saying:

“I am truly honoured to be here today, Merry Christmas everyone.” The last words were accompanied by the presents wrapped in the trade-mark Slytherin green floating to their recipients. “Be welcomed to carry on with you evening,” he said, letting his voice drop. Weasleys thanked him in a discordant mass of voices, he made a small bow and stepped back next to Harry.

“You’re such royal damsel, Draco,” Harry said against the blonde’s ear, sneaking his hands around his waist.

“Well, somebody around here has to be, otherwise all tradition will parish.”

“Harry, dear!” Molly Weasley made her way toward the boys and submerged Harry in to a heart-warming hug.

“Merry Christmas, Mrs Weasley,” Harry said when she finally let him out of her arms.

“To you too, honey,” she said, turning to Draco, “Merry Christmas to you as well.”

Molly embraced Draco in a hug before he could save himself, holding him tight for a moment in her motherly manner. She let him go and looked him up and down, reminding Draco of her daughter.

Some assurance that Draco was in fact in perfect health and was eating properly later Mrs Weasley returned to the preparations diner. Harry and Draco settled next to Ron and Hermione, the Golden trio slipping back into rhythm of their talks, Draco kept quiet surveying his surroundings.

Trying to keep his mind open to the possibility that Weasleys weren’t complete nutters he let his eyes wonder around. He froze when his eyes settled on their Christmas tree that was tucked in the corner, the top scraping at the ceiling. Gulping he had to physically keep himself from hexing the abomination in the space. He had thought Harry’s tree was horrendous… oh, how wrong he had been. Next to this, the tree in Grimmauld place was a treasure. The branches of this poor Christmas tree were leaning down from the weight of the trinkets and baubles, and Draco couldn’t see two decors that would even be remotely similar. Some of the trinkets looked like had been made by children, or more likely – trolls.

When Draco had finally started to feel comfortable, Mrs Weasley announced that she requires help with cooking. Ordering around her brothers and other guests Guinevere executed her role as the second in command perfectly. To Draco’s horror his task was to peel potatoes with Harry. The Harry part he was fine with, but peeling potatoes? He hadn’t dressed for dirty jobs. He was in a white shirt for crying out loud.

By the time that the food was ready Draco had given up on saving his shirt. Only thing that helped was that Harry didn’t seem to mind him rolling his sleeves up and kept staring at him smiling like a dunderhead he was. Cleaning his hands, Draco wondered where the dining room was. He was hit by the realization, when they started to clean the table they had cooked on, that this was the place. Staring at the table trying to work out how all the people were going to fit there, he almost jumped out of his skin when Fred ran past him screaming his head off.

“Snow BATLLE. Pair up, ladies and gentlemen!”

“Fred! Quit talking and run.” George grabbed him by the sleeve and they both fell out the doors, boots half tied, coats undone. Draco stared after them, dumbstruck. Just as twins disappeared from his sight the youngest Weasley came down thundering and Draco had to no less than dive out of the way as she growled about imbecilic brothers. Harry met Draco’s eyes and dropped his last potato.

“I bet we can trash all of them,” he said smiling as Bill and Luna ran past them out in the garden.

Mrs Weasley’s voice could be heard from the living room.

“Snow only outside! No flake better land inside or you will all be grounded!”

Percy ran out of his mother’s reach, his glasses askew.

“You can’t ground grownups, mother!”

Draco was so unprepared that when he could respond to Harry the git was already pulling him outside.

“Wait… wait! Potter-”

“Look out!” Harry shoved him to the side and they both dove behind a snow pile next to doors. Harry threw a quick glance around and kissed Draco before pulling him back up and brushing his shoulders from snow. “Listen. We can disintegrate them.”

Draco kissed Harry midsentence. “We could disintegrate an army. Cover me,” he said jumping to his feet, ready to defeat Weasleys in a true Malfoy manner. Next second he was spluttering snow, his mouth and nose full and Harry was wheezing not being able to even get up. While disabled, Draco was hit two more times until he dived back in the hideout.

“What the fuck…” Draco looked at Harry who was still laughing.

“That’s amazing… you have to AVOID snowballs…”

“Shut up,” Draco said, shoving him with his free hand.

After that he was more careful, taking the screaming and shouting bunch of redheads seriously. Harry and Draco did trash others, but only because Draco started doing some sneaky trick that always jump-scared others, until they just screamed at the mere sight of something silvery in the corner of their eyes. Needless to say, in a field of snow, there was a lot of screaming and cursing. While Fred and George shouted and attacked a lump of snow, Draco and Harry were crawling on the other side of the garden about to attack Luna and Neville.

When Mrs Weasley opened the door piercing the uneven, dim lighting of the courtyard and called them inside, Harry was so focused on the game that, the second she made herself an easy target he dived over the bright patch of snow and sent a snowball hurdling right in her face. As he landed in a snow pile he saw her doge it with ease. Draco jumped to follow Harry and ended up on top of him.

Despite Draco’s elbow digging in Harry’s chest, he kissed him with a soft smile. They both were panting and wet, their fingers freezing. But happy. Draco drowned in Harry’s eyes so green they could be photosynthesizing. In return Harry couldn’t bring himself to look away from the silvery orbs that reflected every Christmas light in the garden.

“Hey, you two! I swear to Merlin’s left buttock, I sometimes wish you were still killing each other.”

Ron’s annoyed voice, broke their silent moment. Draco snarled at him over his shoulder while getting up, Harry rolled his eyes and waited for Draco to help him get up. Hand in hand they walked inside, shedding their wet clothes and warming their hands against each other.

Draco had a surprisingly pleasant diner, if you didn’t count the fact that twins found it endlessly amusing to make Draco’s plate refill again and again until he was so full he had to write his last potatoes off to Harry. As good as the food was Draco was not going to overeat and then deal with a hurting stomach.

When they all settled inside the living room for after-dinner conversations, Draco noticed that he had already gotten used to the noisy atmosphere. He was still disturbed by how casually they were all dressed and how chaotic they were acting, but a mug of steaming hot chocolate calmed him.

Draco was sitting next to Harry when the third Weasley son popped out of nowhere and started a friendly banter with both of them. Draco could feel Harry’s wish to leave Percy’s career talks, to be honest he as well wouldn’t mind talking to a different Weasley.

Pretending to be polite Draco listened to Percy talk about his job, excitedly his spectacles constantly slipping from his nose. When Mr Weasley called Harry from the other room, Harry shifted wanting to get up but Draco grabbed Harry’s palm tighter behind their backs never breaking eye contact with Percy. Mr Weasley called from the kitchen again.

Don’t you dare. You promised….

You little motherfucker.

He felt Harry squeeze his hand reassuringly and leave Draco stranded, to struggle and keep his forts. He watched Harry leave with the corner of his eye, gritting his teeth when the git had the nerve to show him thumbs up as Draco politely laughed about something he hadn’t even heard.

Surprisingly he was rescued by Bill and Fleur who settled next to them. Bill winked at Draco and engaged in the conversation with Percy, Fleur batted her eyelashes and spoke up.

“So, Drrraco, how arre you doing?”

“Fine, thank you,” he said evading a piece of Christmas cracker, that flew from the part of the room where twins were located.

“I underrstand, the noisiness of the Weasley familia was something to get used to forr me as well.”

Fleur surprised Draco by guessing exactly what he was thinking.

After answering some questions about some muggle gadgets, Harry returned with a huge bowl of cookies. A cup of tea later, they were all immersed in a game of cards. Draco won three times in the row until Bill triumphantly put down the winning cards and announced the end of the game.

The room had slipped in to dreamy state of drowsiness, everyone’s stomachs were full, minds at peace and bodies warm. Radio was playing Christmas songs, candles were burning out, Draco felt like he could fall asleep at any given second. That was until he divided the calm murmur of the talks behind him from a content chewing sound from his left. Lazily he turned his head to see Harry sitting cross-legged, eating from the enormous gingerbread bowl in his lap. Harry seemed no less sleepy than everyone else.

“Lay off those gingerbreads. I admit they are delicious, but you will get sick.” Draco said noticing that the level of cookies in the bowl had lowered dramatically.

“No can do, I have no self-control,” Harry said, taking a couple more.

“You kept your hands off of me for seven years. I call that self-control at its finest.”

“Ghrumh!” Harry shoved Draco smiling.

“Weasley! Take-” Draco swallowed when about ten heads turned to look at him, “I mean Ronald…”

When others returned to their sleepy talks, Draco cleared his throat and finished, grabbing the bowl from Harry’s grabby hands and pushing it in to redhead’s hands. “Ronald. Put them somewhere Harry can’t reach them.”

“Okay,” Ron said, first he stuffed his mouth then took a fist full of the cookies with one hand and with the other passed the bowl to Fred who was sitting at the table, “hey. Keep these away from Harry.”

“There are only two left…”

“That’s more than some have ears so it’s plenty,” George said taking one.

Over the evening everyone had already gotten fed up with their ear jokes, but everyone was too well-fed and content to do really care. Harry huffed at Draco for separating him and his cookies and shifted to get up but Draco caught him by the sleeve and secured him in the couch. Harry quit squirming when Draco let him hold his hand.

Three minutes later Draco was cruelly jerked from his thoughts and he could only wonder how the atmosphere could change so fast. In ten seconds everyone was perfectly awake and crowding around the drinks that Bill had levitated in the room.

Draco’s senses were once again cruelly offended by the laughing, joking, talking and in general acting like a Weasley crowd. Despite his distaste of their customs he shuddered at the idea that he had been a part of something that wanted to destroy this. The smiling, rosy faces doing nobody harm, if you ignored the poor decorations of the house. Before his thoughts could get any more depressing his sensed something.

The twins were gone.

He skimmed the corners of the room, but no, they were definitely absent. He wanted to tug at Harry’s sleeve but something held him back, in place of that he left the room his drink still in his hand. Zoning out the laughs from the living room he listened to the empty house.

It was a different kind of emptiness, the kind of that he had never experienced before. The halls of the Manor were quiet and cold, the columns holding up the ceiling with no fail. Stone and marble, glass and velvet. Dark draperies shielding the outside darkness from the dimness of the inside. He had always belonged there, in a suit, going to his room after the Christmas dinner.

In retrospect, this house was warm and he felt like wood was swirling in to a pattern meant to throw him off his sanity.

I mean. What is that?

He walked a couple of steps in the direction of the front door.

It’s a sock. On an umbrella. That’s a sword. That’s covered in Christmas themed gun-shaped baubles.

He was still staring at that when he heard two people approaching the door.

It was Fred and George, seeing him in the warmly, but dimly lit corridor they snickered but didn’t seem to want to kill him now. Still Draco felt affronted.

“What were you doing?”

“It’s a surprise,” Fred said shaking snow out of his hair.

“You’ll see in a minute,” George supplied winking at the blonde.

“Fine,” Draco decided not to push the issue.

 “The dark magic room is that way if you were wondering,” George said as they slipped in to the living room.

Draco rolled his eyes following them inside.

Ten minutes later they heard the first crack. A sound that could even cut through the chatter of the Weasleys and co, sent even Draco wondering. Others seemed not so surprised. They took their drinks and chaotically filed on the porch of the house. The sound hadn’t repeated until Fred had given the cue.

“Go! Evil-slay!”

Draco narrowed his eyes, but before he could complain the sky exploded with the famous Weasley fireworks. He had seen them in the fifth year, of course, but this was the next evolution.

Fiery dragons danced, breathing green flames. Flying pigs trotted in circles, giraffes in pink were having a race. Flowers bloomed, grew and exploded. Everything together making a complex circular pattern. A couple of minutes later it ended in a succession of smaller, louder explosions spelling Merry Buttsmas!

Everyone applauded, cheering.

“Thank you, thank you! The new and improved Weasley fireworks available in our shops soon! Be sure to drop by before the New years!”

“With a spelling like that no wonder you dropped out of Hogwarts!”

Draco had no clue witch of the Weasley brothers said that, but he was distracted by Harry. The raven-head hugged him tighter looking away from the sky.

“Was it okay?”

Draco looked at the wide-eyed boy.

“Harry, listen…” Draco felt the other deflate and his smile cracked. “It was wonderful! Are you kidding?”

“Prat!” Harry poked him in the chest. Draco kissed him in return, smiling smugly.

They returned home accommodated for the next week with the dinner leftovers, Harry’s head was bobbing and Draco felt similar. They collapsed in their bed letting their bodies relax.

“We should get changed…” Draco yawned.

“We should do a lot of things… doesn’t mean we are gonna…” Harry murmured.

“True,” Draco smiled.

He compromised by just shedding the party clothes and snuggling under the covers in his boxers. He tugged at Harry who was sleepily removing his shirt.

“I didn’t know Christmas could be like that…”

Harry looked at him from behind his askew glasses, sending his shirt flying to the ground.

“I didn’t know for a long time either,” he said, joining Draco under the covers.

They settled looking at each other in the dark room. For a second Draco thought Harry looked suspicious, but then something exploded in the room and the blond had more important matters to address.

Jumping to his feet in the bed, he barely avoided tangling in the Christmas stars, Harry had insisted should be hanged there. His eyes blinking, he saw a bright white firework jumping around the room, avoiding walls at its best. Harry laughed sitting up.

“Potter! You utter arse. I was about to fall asleep.”

Draco dropped back in to the bed causing Harry who was still laughing to evade him.

“Sorry, Draco… I asked Fred and George to make it for you specially.”

“Why…” Draco focused on the wild spark cluster, he recognised what it was meant to be and pouted. “Potter!” he cried, pushing the laughing Harry with his elbow. “You are so mean!”

I am mean?” Harry tried to be offended but that doesn’t go very well if you are laughing your arse off.

They struggled until Harry almost ended up on the cold floor, then Draco decided it was enough and pulled him in for a kiss.

They fell asleep in each other’s arms smiling. No nightmare dared to show its head in their dreams that night. Maybe the ferret-shaped firework was their good luck charm, maybe the Weasley aura had rubbed off on them and had repelling properties, maybe it didn’t matter, because they were happy and in love.