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The Wrong Sort of Christmas

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Not so long ago, it was anticipation kept Draco awake at night the week before Christmas, but now his eyes were glued open for different reasons. He sat in front of the cabinet alone on the cold, dusty ground with only his robes to protect him from the chill. Dark circles under his eyes were thick, and looked as if he had painted them on. Every time he closed his eyes, Draco imagined his parent's dead bodies with skin paler than his own, but when they were open, all he saw in front of him was an impossible task.

“What are you doing down here?” The door opened and Severus Snape walked through. He stopped next to Draco and continued, “Your parent's may have refused to allow you home for Christmas, but that's no reason to catch your death in this hole. Go back to your room until breakfast.”

“How long until then?”

“Less than an hour. Although I doubt you will sleep at least try to rest.” Snape turned and said, “Draco, I have no silly sentimentality about Christmas. However, I have been forced to participate in a Secret Santa event among the professors.. Tomorrow I will be going to Hogsmeade an hour after breakfast. I suggest you come with me to buy your gifts.”

Draco scoffed and waited to hear the door click shut. He took another look at the cabinet before he made his way back to the Slytherin common room, where he sat down on the green sofa and stared at the glowing embers. The embers burst back into a bright, flickering mass of flames within moments of his presence, and the familiarity of Hogwarts comforted him. The magic was all around him and Draco leaned to the side and allowed himself to lie down on the sofa. His eyelids drooped and just as he felt his mind begin to slip away, Draco heard the end table crash to the ground. His eyes snapped open and he sat up and scrambled to the opposite side of the sofa.

“I – I'm sorry! So sorry, Master Draco!”

“Dobby?” Draco blinked and stared at the house elf that was wearing a green knitted sock on his left foot, and a blue scarf wrapped around his neck. Dobby inched away from him while at the same time he tried to pick up the fallen table. His right toe was bright red, and Draco reached for his wand.

“No, no, no, don't hurt me, Sirs!”

“Calm down, Dobby. I'm not going to hurt you. The worst I ever did to you was purposely step on your toes when I was running down the hall. Let me -”

“No, no, no! No need, Master Draco, no need to help Dobby. Breakfast is almost ready, Master Draco should go eat, yes?”

Draco stood up from the sofa and ran his fingers through his hair. “I suppose. Dobby, what are you doing down here?”

“N-Nothing -” Dobby turned bright red. “Dobby was cleaning, Master Draco.”

“There's no need to call me Master anymore, now is there? Nor is there a reason to lie. You were cleaning down here for a reason. What was it?”

“Dumbledore, sirs, said that if Dobby cleaned the common rooms another time that Dobby could have a bit extra pay, for Christmas. Dobby wishes to buy a gift for Mister Potter before he returns.”

“Potter? Why on earth would anyone want to buy that git anything for Christmas?” Draco shook his head and held his hand up to prevent Dobby from answering. “You know what, never mind. I don't want to know.”

Draco sat back down on the sofa. He could hear Dobby shuffle around him, occasionally he heard something knock over and the little elf apologized repeatedly. When he opened his eyes again, Dobby had disappeared and the room looked no tidier than it had before he had come. In fact, Draco noticed the painting on the wall was crooked and the table that had been knocked over was not parallel with the sofa. Draco quickly fixed the two imperfections, but when he stepped back, the painting still looked a bit off. Suddenly he was glad there was no one currently occupying the painting to tell him it was crooked.

“It's crooked.” Snape said behind him. Draco jumped as he pulled his wand out, but Snape just scoffed and raised an eyebrow at him. “I have been here since you tried to fix it the first time.” He paused then said, “Perhaps the painting is meant to be slanted.”

“That's ridiculous.”

“Is it? Are you quite finished? You may not have taken my advice about breakfast, but you will come with me to Hogsmeade. Your Mother owled me to ask what you were buying her for Christmas. Although, I believe she was more concerned about your state of mind than anything else.”

“I doubt it.”

Draco waited for Snape to snap back at him in his Mother's defense, but the snide comment never came. Instead, Snape squeezed his shoulder and turned to leave. He waited at the door until Draco sighed and walked with him. The trek to Hogsmeade needed no words to fill the silence that weighed down on them. Once they reached Hogsmeade, Draco's eyes shifted from the snow on the ground to Snape, who was already walking away from him.

“Wait, where are you going?”

Snape stopped and looked back at him.“We'll meet here in an hour. Don't be late.”

The sun lit up Hogsmeade like a light on the Christmas tree and as Draco walked through the street snow crunched beneath his feet. It was mundane to his ears and the giggles from children and families received no reaction from him. A ten year old boy pressed his nose up against Dervish & Banges to get a better look at the magical instruments waiting inside. Young couples drank tea at Madam Puddifoot's and Honeydukes was filled with smiling children and adults.

Draco sneered and cut through a small alley to get away from the noises. His head pounded and he pulled his coat closer around his body. Then he noticed an enchanted candle floating in front of a sigh that read: “E.G.G.”

“Egg?” Draco whispered. The door underneath the sign was cracked down the middle so that light from the inside escaped. He poked his head inside the door and looked around the small shop, it was cluttered but well lit with candles floating around the room. The candles didn't miss his presence, they drifted toward him slowly, and from the edge of the light Draco saw a woman in her late forties appear. Red robes barely stayed on her boney shoulders, her face was pale and wrinkled, but Draco could tell she had once been beautiful.

“You need a gift for someone special.”

Draco shrugged. “Sure. I've never heard of this place.”

“Most haven't.”

“Must be great for business.”

“It is. It's more interesting this way. Most people don't come into this alley. It's doesn't lead anywhere important, and more often than not, if someone does come down this way it's not for a good reason.”

“I saw your candle.” Draco touched a wooden box and wiped the grey dust that was left on his finger. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her nod and go around the counter at the back of the room. He began to look around, the items in the shop reminded him of a less dark Borgin and Burkes. The shelves were unorganized and dust had settled on top of the wood in thick layers. No object was related to the one it was next to – a rabbits foot was next to the Potions book that had a snitch on top of it. A purple symbol on the snitch caught Draco's eyes, and he picked it up to get a better look at it.

“It's called algiz. It's the Norse rune for protection,” the old lady said as she walked up to him again. “The purple stone is called amethyst -”

“I know what it is.” Draco turned the snitch over in his hands and felt the amethyst symbol on his palm. “Why is it on a snitch?”

“The snitch isn't the important part. This is.” Next to where the snitch was on the potions book laid a chain with a wooden charm attached. On the oval piece of wood was the same symbol in amethyst. “My Father's family came from a long line of Norse wizards. The necklace was family junk, but that snitch was made by my Father. He thought my brother would be safer when he was playing if the snitch had that symbol on it.”

“Why would you sell it then?”

“It's junk. My brother broke his neck in a racing accident after a game and my Father pushed it on me. Might as well get something out of it after all these years.” She smiled and Draco turned away from her. “I'll give it to you for a special price.”

“I've already bought all my presents,” he lied.

“Ten galleons.”

“For a snitch?”

“And the necklace. Perhaps you will find someone to give it to.”

Draco pursed his lips together and picked the snitch and necklace up. The snitch glowed in the candlelight and illuminated the wooden charm. The snitch reminded him of his Father, how he would take him outside and teach him how to ride a broom with the promise of a snitch for his birthday. His Mother stood in the background and carefully monitored them as his Father became a young boy again as he taught his son. Draco's throat burned and tears blurred his vision so he blinked them away.

“Five galleons,” he replied. “No more.”

“That's almost stealing! Eight galleons.”

“Deal.” Draco handed her the galleons and stuck the snitch and necklace into his robes pocket. He looked around another time before leaving without looking back and went to a jewelry store to buy his mother a bracelet. The snitch weighed heavily in his pocket as he and Snape walked back to Hogwarts. Snow began to fall and as he walked, the snow seemed more annoying than beautiful because the small flakes that landed on his nose made his nose itch.

“Do you want a sleeping draught?” Snape asked when they reached the Slytherin dorms. “I had a house elf put some beside your bed. If it helps I will make you more.”

“Thank you.”

Snape nodded and continued down the hallway; Draco didn't look after him, his head pounded and he wanted a dreamless, long sleep. He went straight to his bed and picked up the sleeping draughts. Draco gulped down the first one, and when he didn't feel an immediate effect, he picked up the next bottle and swallowed it. After he had consumed three potions, Draco felt his body relax and when he closed his eyes, he saw nothing but darkness.

 

When Draco opened his eyes, the ceiling above his bed was not the familiar stones in the dungeons, but rather wood. A child was giggling next to him and light shone through an open window. His entire body was covered in a blanket that was his only protection against the cold besides the pajamas he was wearing. Except, when he had gone to sleep he hadn't been wearing pajamas.

Draco shot up and looked around at the small room he was in. Another bed was next to his, and upon further inspection, he saw three other beds and a series of small cupboards that were locked. A young boy of about twelve was sitting on the bed next to him. His brown hair was shaggy and fell about an inch past his ears, and he was thin and boney. When the boy looked over at him he jumped up and said, “Draco! You're finally awake, I thought you were going to sleep all day. Harry's coming home from work early today!”

“How do you – Where am I?”

“Huh? You're home, well my home for now. Are you okay?”

“Yes, I – I don't understand. I was in Hogwarts.”

“Hogwarts? What's Hogwarts?”

Draco's heart beat faster, his hands began to shake and he looked around for his wand. He didn't find it, nothing he recognized was here. The sheets were coarse compared to his and even his clothes were not as soft nor were they tailored to fit to his frame.

“Where's my wand?”

“Wand?” There was a soft click from outside the door, and the boy jumped up and shouted, “Harry!” He bolted out of the room and slammed the door behind him. “There's something wrong with Draco!”

Draco scrambled out of bed and pulled up the sheets to look for his wand. He went to the cupboards, but they were all locked. The door opened and when he looked at the man standing beside the boy, Draco froze. He recognized the dark, messy hair and the lightning bolt scar on his forehead. He was dressed in cheap muggle clothes, his glasses were crooked on his face and hid green eyes behind them.

“Potter? Look, I don't know what you're playing at but if this is a joke you've gone too far.”

“See?” The younger boy said, “I told you that he went crazy.”

Harry glanced at the boy then looked back at Draco.“What's going on? I haven't done anything to you.”

“You're lying! Take me back to Hogwarts. Now.”

Harry's eyes flickered with what Draco thought was recognition, but then he shook his head. “I don't know what you're talking about, but I have to go help with dinner. Come down when you've stopped pretending to be crazy.” With that, Harry turned and left the room.

Draco glared at the door for a few minutes. He pinched himself and winced when pain shot through his arm. The boy continued to stare at him with a curious expression, so Draco snarled at him and sat back down on the bed.

“Why did you go get Potter?”

“You were acting crazy!”

“I don't know where I am! I was in my dorm and then I was here.”

“HA – mmph!”

Draco clamped his hand over the boy's mouth. “No, you idiot! Don't call him back. I'm telling you the truth. Do you promise not to call for Potter?” The boy nodded and Draco let him go slowly. “Do you know what I am doing here?”

“You're here for the same reason everyone else is here. Your parents died.”

His stomach knotted and adrenaline ran through his body. “My parents are not dead. Not yet. I can't be in a children's home. No wizard children's homes have existed since the sixties – It's 1996!”

The boy's brows scrunched together and he moved away from Draco slowly. Then, he opened his mouth and yelled, “Harry!”

“Wait, wait, no, come on now. What's your name?”

“Larry,” the boy replied. “It's not 1996, it's 1962. And you've gone crazy if you think there are such things as wizards. I may be only thirteen but I'm not stupid.”

Draco sighed. “Humor me. How long have I been here?”

“A little more than a week. You're not going to be here long. You're sixteen, you can't say here.”

“I can't – why? Where am I supposed to go?” Draco pinched himself again, this time he didn't let go until his skin was red. It stung, just like in real life. “This can't be real,” Draco murmured under his breath. “It isn't real. Hogwarts is real. This isn't.”

“What's Hogwarts? Are you all right?”

“This isn't real. I'm dreaming. That's it. I'm just dreaming.”

Larry cocked his head to the side. “You're serious, aren't you?”

Harry opened the door and poked his head inside. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes. I'm sorry, I won't yell again.” Larry replied. He faked a grinn and closed the door behind Harry, then turned back to Draco with a serious expression. “Are you telling me the truth?”

Draco nodded.

“Okay, then. I believe you, but I still think you've gone crazy. Harry would say you cracked under the pressure, like Ms Davis. She's the crazy lady that lives down the street. I'm Larry Smith. My parents died a few years ago and I've been here ever since. We met about a week ago, when you first got here. And believe me, no one likes you.”

Draco snorted at the last comment. It wasn't often that he was liked by his peers, especially ones younger than him, but it also wasn't something he worried about. He was content with Pansy and Blaise as his friends and despite what his classmates gossiped about, he genuinely cared for Goyle and Crabbe. Draco would have done anything to see a familiar face that did not have a lightning bolt scar on his forehead, but since it didn't seem like that was an option, he looked at Larry and asked, “Larry, why am I here?”

“Because your parents died a week ago. You've been pretty vocal about how soon you are going to get out of here and back to your Manor. But Harry told me to not pay attention to it.”

Draco stared at his hands as he thought of his parents. Their lives were in his hands, his ability to do what Voldemort wanted him to do. “They're dead?” He asked, his voice barely above a whisper. When Larry glanced over at him with confusion, Draco cleared his throat and said, “He told you to pay no attention to me, did he?”

“Yep! And he also said you were a brat.” Larry laid down on the bed next to Draco's. “Do you really think there is such thing as magic? I wish there was, because I would just bring my parents back.”

“Magic can't bring back the dead.”

Larry frowned. “The fake kind can.”

“Right. What's today's date?”

“You don't even know that? It's 22nd of December. Can you believe Christmas is almost here? The news says there might even be snow this year!”

Draco buried his face in his hands and imagined his parents standing next to each other smiles on their faces. There was no way, he knew, that they could be dead. But reality was unforgiving, because the only reason he would be here was their death, and that was something Draco refused to acknowledge. “Hogwarts,” he murmured under his breath.

He took a deep breath and laid back on the bed. Larry hopped next to him and said, “I think you should play along with everyone. I heard about this one kid that went crazy and was put in this horrible room and stuff.”

“That's ridiculous.”

“It's true! I'm just saying that other people might not believe you like I believe you. And I still think you're crazy anyway.”

Draco brought his hand up to his face and was about to run his fingers through his hair, when he noticed a mark peeking out from the sleeve of his shirt. He pushed back his sleeve and stared at the skull that had been burned into his skin that summer. The snake seemed darker than before and it's face was almost smirking at him. Draco fought against tears that threatened to form in his eyes and he covered the mark before Larry saw it.

“Alright.” Draco said, his voice was barely audible. “I can do that. I'll play along.”

At dinner, Draco ate between Larry and Harry and studied the others at the table. An older couple sat the other end of the table, both were in their late fifties, and they made sure to speak to every child sometime during the dinner. Three other children were at the table; one boy named James and two girls named Susan and Margaret. They were all younger than Larry, and it seemed that they had not been at the house long. Draco took a tiny bit of food and held his fork loosely in his hand.

He looked over at Harry and saw him laugh and smile with everyone at the table. Draco's eyes wandered over to his right arm, and although the mark was covered, it burned against his skin like a dark reminder of his mistakes.

 


~~**~~

 

Morning came too quickly, and when Draco woke up and saw Larry sleeping in the bed next to him, he groaned and covered his eyes with his arm. The fact that he was still in a Childrens Home in 1962 still boggled his mind, especially since the dark mark was still etched on his arm, and Draco found it even stranger that Harry Potter was there as well, but didn't seem to have a problem with the situation.

Draco dressed and put on a coat he found in the cabinet Larry said belonged to him, then went outside. It was colder than usual, and to the west Draco saw billowing clouds that threatened to make it a white Christmas. Draco rubbed his hands together and blew into them.

“What are you doing out here?”

Draco jumped and turned quickly on his toes to see Harry standing behind him. “None of your business, Potter.”

“Geez, there's no need to go crazy. I was just curious.”

“Well stop being curious!”

Harry raised an eyebrow at him, then shook his head and rubbed his hands together. “Do whatever you'd like, Malfoy, but don't make trouble. You're here because no one else was able to take you in for a few weeks. So be grateful you have a place to stay during Christmas. Behave while I'm gone.”

“Stop acting like you're my elder, because you're not. Just because you are in charge doesn't mean you can just boss me around. Where are you going, anyway?”

“You know where I'm going. School, remember? The first day you were here, you insulted me for working here and going to school. I don't know what's got into you but -”

“Right,” Draco said before Harry had a chance to finish. “I forgot, that's all. I'm not crazy.”

“I didn't think you were,” Harry replied. He looked at Draco with a smile on his face and said, “Now I do. Just don't upset the kids because we're going out caroling tonight.”

“I don't want to go.”

“Too bad. We do this every year with the kids. And whether you like it or not, you're one of the kids for the next week or so more.”

“I'm not a kid,” Draco replied with a scowl on his face. He expected Harry to snap back at him with a silly retort, but he simply began to chuckle and wrapped his coat closer to his body. Draco watched him leave until he disappeared behind a corner. There was no one in sight, so Draco walked away from the house as quickly as he could manage without running.

He looked for anything to indicate where he was and when he found nothing but houses, he stamped his foot on the ground. Draco could still see the children's home, he stared at it and took a deep breath when fingers reached out and touched his shoulder from behind. He yelped and jumped away from the person and turned to face them.

“Who are you?” Draco asked an older lady with a pleasant smile on her face. Wrinkles ran deep around her eyes and mouth, and she hunched over so much it made her look smaller. A thick shawl was wrapped around her shoulders and her hair was up in a tight bun that had stray hairs sticking up in every direction.

She started at his feet and studied him as her eyes moved upward to his face. Her lips were pursed together in a thin line and her fingers tapped against the wood of her cane. “You are not from here.”

Draco hesitated. He took a step back, but she closed the distance he created with a quick step of her own. “No,” he said. “I am not from around here.”

“What are you running toward?”

“I'm not running to anything -” The end of her cane knocked into Draco's shin far harder than it sounded, and Draco swore and jumped away from her. “What was that for? You crazy old bat -”

“If you are not running toward something, why run? You are just like that other boy. Always moving without stopping to take a look at what it is he is running to.”

“I'm not – Who are you?”

The old lady shrugged and turned away from him and began her way down the street. She walked slowly, but the way she struck him with the cane made him suspect she could move quicker. He stared at the ground while he walked back to the children's home. Luckily, Draco thought no one had noticed his disappearance, but when he arrived at his bed and sat down, Larry tapped him on the shoulder.

“Where were you?”

“Outside. Who's that old lady that -”

“Ms. Davis. I told you about her-”

“Oh, that's right. I forgot.”

Larry grinned and said, “You forget a lot. But since you've been so nice I decided to make you a present so don't look! Do you promise?”

“You got me a present?”

Larry nodded and shoo-ed him out of the room. Draco, once in the hall, stared at the closed door and wondered why he felt warm inside despite the chill. He heard children laughing downstairs as they practiced their carols, the couple's voices were soft and encouraging to the young kids. Downstairs there was a tree covered in decorations and a few presents underneath. Back at the manor, the tree would have been topped only by the tree at Hogwarts, and the presents under were stacked in neat piles. Draco's name was prevalent among the gifts from his Father's business partners and friends. Draco sighed and knew he had no real desire to be back at the manor next to that tree; rather, he wished his parents were here.

 

~~**~~

 

Larry exited the room no earlier than dinner, and even then he demanded that Draco stay out of the room until he was finished. James and Margaret were bickering at the end of the table with Susan and the couple between them.

“Just call them Mr. and Mrs. Finkle,” Larry said.

Draco nodded and continued to watch the old couple dissolve the fight without raising their voices once. He couldn't help but think that his Father had only been able to accomplish that once, and even that time his voice raised to a slightly higher pitch. He had been ten at the time, and the annual Malfoy Christmas party had been about to begin when he refused to get dressed.

“Draco, get dressed.” Lucius took a deep breath and handed Draco his formal robes. “The guests will be arriving in a few minutes and I expect you to be downstairs to greet them.”

“I don't want to go to a party.”

“Why not, dare I ask?”

“It's boring. Christmas is boring. Just give me my presents already.”

Narcissa walked in at that moment and with an eyebrow raised, she said, “Boring? You think my parties are boring?”

Lucius smiled. “I wouldn't call them exciting.” When Narcissa shot him a dirty look, his smile disappeared and he cleared his throat. “Even so, it's best to hurry and get ready. Your friend will be there. I believe the Notts are coming this time.”

“No. I'm not going!”

“Yes,” Lucius replied. “You are.”

“No.”

“Yes!”

Draco prepared for his Father to begin yelling and shut his eyes tight. His arms were crossed across his chest and his hands were in tight fists. However, the yelling never came. Draco opened his eyes just enough to peek at his Father, who was taking deep breaths and muttering to himself.

“Draco,” he said. “If you do not get dressed in ten minutes, I will take back every present I bought you this year. Not only that, but I will decline any presents your friends bring and simply give them the ones I bought for them.”

Draco couldn't stop the grin that spread across his face as he remembered the next morning. His Father had kept his word. Every present was gone, but Draco suspected the abundance of birthday gifts in June was because the presents were not taken back.

When he looked up, Draco's eyes met Harry's for a brief moment. There was something there he recognized from Hogwarts, the uncertainty he saw in a boy he met in Diagon Alley that disappeared by the time he saw him again.

Draco remembered looking at him and seeing no hesitancy and no confusion when Harry said, “I think I can tell the wrong sort for myself, thanks.”He was confident in his decision and his words cut into Draco's own confidence like a knife. It mangled his self-image until it was unrecognizable. He heard those words over and over again when he attempted to talk to anyone new, so he kept to himself. The friends he had before going to Hogwarts remained his companions, but never anyone new. Never again.

“Malfoy?” Harry's voice snapped Draco from his thoughts and Draco looked down at his empty plate to keep his eyes from wandering to the other boy.

Later, when everyone was getting their coats, the little girl Margaret walked up to him and pulled on his sleeve. Draco turned around and didn't say anything, he simply observed the young girl as she tapped her foot against the ground. Her red hair was tied in two pigtails and her lips were stuck out in a permanent pout.

“Well?” He asked after a few minutes. “What do you want?”

If Draco had expected her to do something, it certainly wasn't her sticking out her hand like she expected him to hold it. He stared at her with his mouth open slightly and a confused crease in his brow. Her hand moved closer to his, but he didn't move until Harry touched his shoulder.

“I told her to stay with you. She tends to wander away, don't you Margaret?”

The young girl's lip stuck out further than before and she nodded and grabbed Draco's hand with her chubby fingers. At first, he didn't know what to do so he tried to step away from her, only to have her take two steps toward him.

“What about you?” Draco asked, sending Harry a dirty look. “I don't see you holding anyone's hand.”

“I will be. And be thankful you don't have to make sure Larry doesn't wander off. Susan and James are a bit attached to Mrs. Finkle so I offered to make sure Margaret and Larry stayed with us. They're not as young as they used to be and -”

“If you offered, why don't you look after her?” He looked down at the little girl, who was now frowning and little specks of water gathered in the corner of her eyes. Draco froze. Never had a child paid any attention to his words before, especially not a ten year old. “Uh – I didn't mean – Don't cry!”

“I'm not going to cry,” she said as she wiped her nose with her sleeve.

Draco sighed and squeezed her hand. The smile that spread across his face was less forced than he told himself it was, and he fell into step behind the old couple and Harry. They met up with a small group of locals, all of which were bundled up to fight the unusual freeze. Above them thick clouds gathered and blocked the moonlight. He kept his hand closed around the girl's as she moved to be closer to him.

Harry's laughter stood out from the chatter amongst the others as they walked to the first door. Draco looked over at the other boy and was shocked to see his cheeks were bright and his grin was spread across his face. The girl tugged on his hand to force him to keep up, and as the rest of them began to sing, he kept his eyes fixed on Harry.

He was happy. Harry Potter, that pathetic child that could have nothing to be happy about, the kid that was under constant threat, had an expression of glee and joy that surpassed any memory Draco had since he was five. The children were all bellowing out the lyrics with smiles and they shivered in the cold. Even Mr. and Mrs. Finkle were joyful.

Draco tried to remember the last Christmas his family spent together basked in joy and happiness. He looked over at Larry and thought of the gift he was making and suddenly his chest felt too small. They walked to the next house and continued to sing, and then Draco saw a shop still open down the street.

He moved so that he was next to Harry, then gave Margaret his hand just as they were walking away from the last house. It began to snow just as he ran down the street.

“Oi, Malfoy! What are you doing?”

“I'll be right back!”

“You bloody idiot! Come back! The storm's going to - “

Draco heard Harry running after him, but he didn't stop. Once he reached the shop, he realized that it's light was on, but it wasn't open. He swore and looked to the side and saw Harry running toward him.

“Potter, where's the next shop?”

Harry stopped in front of him panting, and leaned forward a bit. He shook his head, causing flakes of snow to jerk off his hair and fall to the ground.

“I don't have all day, you know.”

Harry grabbed his collar and shoved him up against the wall. “Are you trying to ruin everything? These kids have nothing, don't you get that? Stop trying to ruin their Christmas just because you want god knows what. Can you see above your oversized head? That's a bad snow storm.”

Harry's body was pressed against his, the heat from his breath mingled with the white puffs from his own breath. His green eyes stared straight into Draco's, who felt adrenaline pulse into his blood and his cheeks heat up. “Yes, I can see that. But we went caroling so I thought it was okay -”

“No, we went to a few houses before the storm hit because the kids wanted to go.” Harry shoved him into the wall again as he let go with a scowl. “You're so bloody selfish.”

“... I wanted to get Larry a present. He said he was making one for me.”

“Then make one for him! It's too late to buy presents. You should have went when your CCO came, but you refused -”

“I didn't –“ Draco stopped short, suddenly aware that Harry's eyes dared him to deny it. “I didn't want to buy anything then. I do now.”

Harry relaxed visibly, his shoulders slumped a bit and the hateful scowl disappeared from his lips. The snow was beginning to fall harder now, their hair was covered in the small flakes and his black coat was white on his shoulders.

“It doesn't matter. We need to get back now.”

Draco nodded and allowed himself to fall in step with Harry as they walked back to the house. He stared at Harry's backside and vividly replayed the moments before in his mind. He could almost feel the heat of Harry's body pressed against him while their breath mingled together. Draco's cheeks turned bright red and he looked away from Harry.

When they arrived back at the house, he was suddenly surrounded by the children and the older couple. The kids squealed and asked if he tried to run away, while the couple both had frowns on their faces but only managed to get a few words through the noise.

“What were you thinking?” Larry asked, later that night when he allowed Draco back into the room. On his bed was a wrapped present with his name written in giant letters on the top. “You're lucky they're so nice. I was in a home a while back and if you did anything like that, they'd whip you.”

“Whip you?”

Larry nodded. “Did you do something to Harry?”

“No.” Draco looked at Larry with a blank expression. “Why?”

“He keeps staring at you.”

“No he isn't.”

“Not in an obvious way, but he keeps looking over at you like you're going to stab him or something. Then he ran after you when you ran away without even asking Mr. Finkle what he wanted to do.”

Draco snorted. “Why would he need to ask them what to do?”

“I don't know. He just always does.”

Draco let the subject drop as Larry began to speculate what was in the big present downstairs – it was for everyone, while many small presents for each child were on top of it. His speech slowed as the night went on until he was silent, and the only sound in the room was Larry's rhythmic breaths. He thought of The-Boy-Who-Lived and remembered the first moment he saw him in Madam Malkin's robe shop.

“Father!” He yelled the moment Lucius Malfoy came into view.

“Did you get your robes fitted?”

“Of course. I met this boy that hardly talked at all, but I think he liked me quite a bit. He doesn't play Quidditch! Can you imagine? He never told me his name, but I imagine you'll approve.”

“I'd approve of any friend of yours, Draco, provided they do not have red hair and freckles.”

“Me? Befriend a Weasley? You must be joking – oh, there's Pansy and Blaise. I wonder if they have their wands yet. Mother is at Ollivanders, isn't she?”

“Yes. We'll meet her there.”

“Do you think that boy has already got his wand or that we'll see him there? He had big, round glasses and his hair was like this,” Draco said as he pulled his hair a bit away from his head.

“Stop that. You're in public.”

He hadn't seen the boy at the wand shop, nor did he see him again until Harry was already with a boy with red hair who was easily identified as Ron Weasley. At the time, Draco felt like he had done something right by offering his friendship to The-Boy-Who-Lived, but while his friends thought he did it for the connection, the truth was, although Draco was loathe to admit it, he had wanted to be the strange boy's friend.

“The wrong sort,” Draco muttered under his breath in the darkness. He scoffed and turned over to look outside at the snow falling. Harry's room was downstairs, he remembered, it was across from the couple's bedroom. Draco slowly got out of the bed, he put his bare feet on the ground and waited for Larry to spring up at him. When he didn't stir, Draco breathed out and slipped on a pair of socks and carefully opened the door so it didn't creek.

Once the door was safely closed behind him, Draco put his foot on the first four steps without a sound, but then on the fifth step, it creaked. “Shit,” Draco swore and began his descent a bit slower than before. He listened for any sounds coming from the couple's room, then went straight for Harry's. When he opened the door, it squeaked, but Harry didn't move so Draco continued on.

Harry was sprawled out across the bed on his stomach with his head turned to the side. His eyelashes were longer than Draco's and thick. His lips were parted about a half an inch to allow the tip of his thumb just between his teeth.

The look on Harry's face when he rejected him was vivid in his memory. The children around them were a blur, but that expression of utter disgust was burned in his mind. No amount of time healed that wound, and it seemed no amount of terrorizing helped either. Now, he was in front of that boy, who wasn't a boy anymore, and although Harry's words still stung, Draco looked at Harry and realized how different they were now.

“You don't know me,” Draco whispered, “You don't know me at all.”

Harry turned over and Draco jumped back and waited for him to shout at him, but he was still asleep. He laid on his back with his hand on his chest and his cheeks flushed. Draco took a moment to study Harry's wide jaw, his thick eyelashes and his hands. They were thicker than Draco's and his nails were short and Draco suspected they had been gnawed off. On his hand was a scar that read: “I will not tell lies.”

“Hermione … Ron's – Mm,” Harry murmured.

“You do remember,” Draco said. He closed his hand in a tight fist and shook his head in disbelief. “Blasted -” Draco grabbed Harry's shoulder and the reaction was instant. Harry's eyes shot open and he shoved Draco away, but just as Draco's arse slammed into the ground, he was on top of him. Harry looked down at him with eyes that didn't quite recognize him. Draco tried to push him away, but Harry grabbed his wrists and slammed them against the floor.

“What are you doing in my room?”

“Get off me.” Draco flushed and suddenly he was aware how close he was to him.

“Tell me what you were doing here.”

Draco turned his eyes away from Harry's and looked at a piece of short, dark hair laying next to him. He felt Harry move his hips a bit and he tried to push away from him again, if only to make sure Harry didn't feel his body respond. If he did, Harry didn't mention it, nor did his body react to Draco.

“Tell me.”

He turned his head so that their noses were millimeters apart. “Why was I the wrong sort?” Draco asked, his eyes fixed on the green color of Harry's eyes.

“Excuse me?”

“Am I the wrong sort? Am I, Draco Malfoy, the wrong sort of person?”

Harry didn't answer. He picked himself off Draco and sat down on the bed. “Why would you ask me that? It doesn't make sense.”

“Don't play games with me, Potter. You remember Hogwarts. Why was I the wrong sort and not Weasley?”

“I don't know what you're talking about.”

“Tell me!”

“Keep your voice down. You'll wake everyone.”

Draco shook his head and scoffed and said, “You won't answer me. Fine. But don't think I'm going to forget this, Potter.”

“You should. I am. Look, let's start new tomorrow, okay?”

“Just answer my question and I will.”

“... How am I supposed to answer that? I don't know a Weasley.”

“Forget about that. Just – Am I the wrong sort?”

“There is no reason for you to think you are the wrong sort.”

Draco turned toward the door. “That's not what I asked.”

“Then what do you want from me?”

Draco hesitated, then said, “I don't want anything from you, Potter. I'm sorry I intruded. Please forget I was here.”

He left the room and shut the door with a soft click without looking at Harry again. He felt his chest tighten and he leaned against the door for a brief moment. The Dark Mark burned against his skin as he took slow steps to his bedroom. When he got back to the room, he was alone in his thoughts while Larry slept. He looked out the window and noticed the most peculiar thing. No matter how much it snowed, the house was never covered, but it was just enough snow for children to play.

 

~~**~~

 

When Draco woke up the next morning, the children were already awake and Larry was bouncing up and down on his bed. Draco frowned and threw his pillow at him. “You're going to get in trouble,” he mumbled just before he wrapped himself up in his blanket and prepared to fall back asleep. Larry, however, had different plants, and jumped from his bed onto Draco's.

“Get up! Harry's going to teach us how to make snow angels and snowmen. I think I'm going to make the snowman. How about you?”

“You don't know how to make a snow angel?”

“No. Well, yes. But the other kids don't know how. It usually doesn't snow before Christmas so I'm going to just say I don't know how to do anything so we can stay out there longer. Do you think Harry will let us have a snowball fight?”

Draco shrugged and pushed Larry off the bed and got dressed. By the time he got outside, Harry was in the snow next to Margaret with his arms spread out and his legs, making a snow angel. She copied his every movement while James and Susan watched them.

“I don't see how it will make an angel,” Susan said.

Draco walked up behind her and said, “It doesn't make a literal angel. It makes the image of one. My Father used to say it was a crude representation of an angel, but I always thought mine looked quite dashing.”

“I think your Father had the right idea.”

“I don't think so,” James said softly. “I'm going to go make one.” He ran off from them and laid next to Harry just as he was standing up. Harry helped Margaret up and moved away from the angels to take a look at them.

“Not so shabby, are they Margaret?”

She shook her head and bit her thumb, which made Draco snicker and whisper, “Looks like she's learning certain bad habits from someone.”

“What was that?” Harry asked.

“Nothing.”

Making a snowman with Larry quickly became dull, as once he made one, Larrry felt compelled to see if he could run right through it and they had to start over. Occasionally, Draco would look over at Harry and see his green eyes already fixed on him before quickly turning away. Draco smirked and balled a bunch of snow in his fist as he was helping Larry with the other hand.

Harry looked over at him again, then when their eyes met, he turned his back to Draco. Draco's grin grew as he chucked the snowball at him and hit the back of his head. Larry jumped up and down next to him and grabbed a bunch of snow and threw it at James, who in turn threw one back at Larry.

“Stop it!” Harry yelled, but it was too late. Margaret was hiding behind Harry while Susan was actively throwing balls over at Draco, who ignored her to throw another one at Harry's chest. Harry growled and grabbed a fist full of snow and threw it at Draco.

Draco looked at Harry and saw the ball of white before he realized it was about to hit his face. He tried to duck, but the snowball slammed into his forehead and half of it stuck to his hair. The kids all stopped and began to laugh and giggle at him. Draco laughed with them, his entire body shook with every laugh.

“Now get inside. You guys promised not to throw snowballs at each other.” The kids whined, but Harry ignored them with a shake of his head. “No. Go inside now. Draco, you stay out here. I need to talk to you.”

The kids filed inside one by one, with Larry being the last to leave with a frown on his face, but they were quickly forgotten. Harry walked over to him and brushed the excess snow from Draco's hair.

“What are you doing?” Draco asked as he stepped back.

“I do think you're the wrong sort,” he said. “In the worst way.”

Draco felt like a giant weight was placed on his shoulders. His chest tightened, and he waited for Harry to reject him in this alternate reality he couldn't escape. Snow began to fall lightly again and fill in the snow angels.

“But maybe being the wrong sort is okay,” Harry continued. “Maybe being the right sort isn't always the right thing. Do you ever feel that way?”

“No, I'm the wrong sort, remember?”

Harry chuckled. “That's right. You are the wrong sort. Especially for throwing snowballs. I thought I was clear when I said -”

“I wasn't listening.”

“Ah, I see. Listen next time.” His voice carried the weight of a feather and when Draco looked at him, for the first time he saw no anger on his face.

“Why are you acting like this?”

“Like what?”

“Like a crazy man. Last night you tried to pummel me -”

“I did not! You crept into my bedroom like a stalker -”

“All lies. You were trying to kill me.”

“I am not lying.” Harry frowned and lowered himself so that he could grab a bit of snow off the ground. He threw the cold flakes into Draco's face and said, “and I was most definitely not trying to kill you.” Harry paused and looked down at the footprints in the snow. “What I wanted to say was – well, for now, truce?” He held out his hand. “Just for now. What can it hurt?”

Draco frowned and simply stared at the hand extended toward him. His mind flashed back to his first day at Hogwarts, when he held out his hand to Harry only to be rejected. He slapped away Harry's hand and said, “No. You can't do this here. I know you know about Hogwarts. I know you remember. Don't pretend like you don't.”

Harry's eyes shifted away from Draco's. “That all feels like a dream.”

“So you're admitting it?”

“No. I'm saying I've had dreams of it. But that's all they are. Dreams. Fantasies. And I hate them.”

“It's not a dream, Potter. It's reality. You are the magnificent Boy-Who-Lived. You are meant to save the entire wizarding world from destruction. That's what they say about you. I think it's all a joke. I don't think you can save us any more than I can, or Dumbledore.”

“None of that matters here. And you're wrong. This is reality.”

“What is here? I don't understand what we are doing here.”

“You've gone crazy.”

Draco scoffed and shook his head in disbelief. “You can't do that. You can't just admit to it then claim I'm mentally unstable. If I'm crazy, you're equally so. Tell me what we are doing here.”

“I don't know. This is my reality. Then when I fall asleep, I remember. It doesn't matter, does it? We're here. We might as well be here. It's Christmas. I want it to be happy.”

Harry didn't wait for him to answer, and just began heading toward the door. Draco watched his back, the way his trousers curved over his arse and studied the other boy's walk. He followed Harry inside, where the other kids were sitting on the sofa talking and playing a board game. The Christmas tree was colorful, the decorations gleamed in the sunlight and although Draco wanted to press Harry for more information, the sight of the tree was enough to stop him.

“Look!” Margaret said, just as Draco came up beside Harry. “They're under the mistletoe!”

“What?” Draco looked up and saw the plant hanging from the archway to the kitchen where he and Harry were standing.

“Boys don't kiss, Margaret.” Susan replied.

Margaret frowned, but didn't say anything further and turned her back to them. Harry exhaled loud enough to hear, so Draco shot him a dirty look. He followed after Harry to the kitchen and asked, “Hey, how am I supposed to buy Larry something for Christmas if you're not going to let me go to a shop.”

“Make one.” When Draco's brows furrowed together, Harry continued, “Have you ever made a present for someone?”

“No. Why would I? I have plenty of money and not a lot of time.”

“Right. Fine. I'll help you tonight okay? Just come to my room again. We have too much to do today. The younger kids usually put on a play and we sing and stuff. Plus, I think they want to go outside again.”

And they did. Margaret was determined to make the best snow angel, and she succeeded at least ten times with Harry watching over her. Whereas Susan decided that helping build a snowman was fun until Larry ran into hers. She balled up a snowball in her fist and was prepared to throw it at Larry when Draco snatched it right out of her hand.

“Do you want to get in trouble?” He asked, looking over at Harry, who was watching him with a strange expression on his face. It was a smile, and Draco turned bright red when he realized Harry's green eyes were on no one but him. He gave her back the snowball and said, “Never mind. Go ahead.”

Harry rolled his eyes and shouted for the children to head back into the house. Mr. Finkle was watching from the window while Mrs. Finkle prepared part of the dinner. During the play after dinner, Harry sat next to Draco on the sofa so close that their thighs touched one another.

“Potter,” Draco whispered. “What are you -”

“Shh. Pay attention.”

Draco huffed and sat back on the couch with his arms crossed and a frown on his face. He watched Margaret pretend to be Mary on the night Jesus was born and he yawned. He knew the story, but he had to admit, he was more interested in the concept of Father Christmas.

He didn't get to talk to Harry until he slipped down the stairs into his room downstairs. Harry was sitting on the bed with the lamp on and had a stack of paper on the floor. The light was dim and Draco had goosebumps up and down his arms and legs.

“Cold?”

“A bit,” Draco said as he rubbed his hands up and down his arms. Harry offered him the blanket, but Draco shook his head. “No thanks. What's all the paper for?”

“We don't have a lot of supplies here so it's what you're making a present out of. You have a few choices though. Drawing, origami, whatever.”

Draco perked up and grabbed a piece of charcoal. “I'm a budding artist, I must say. Do you think he'll appreciate men in erotic positions?” Draco waited for Harry's response, and was pleased when the other boy turned bright red and turned away from him. “I was just joking, Potter, calm down. However, Severus was rather shocked when I forgot I'd doodled one on a potions essay.”

“You're joking.”

Draco laughed and shook his head. “No. He had me stay after class to discuss my sexuality and then he proceeded to give me a sex lecture. My Father owled me a condom and told me not to catch anything. Horrifying, isn't it?”

“There isn't a spell for that sort of thing?”

“There is. And it's more effective, but it lessens pleasure so a condom is usually preferred. Plus, the spell doesn't protect against disease.”

“Oh,” Harry replied. His eyes stayed on the charcoal as Draco moved it across the page. “So you're gay.”

Draco looked up. “It's not about being gay, Potter. I am going to get married to a nice pure blood girl and have a son. The fact that I prefer anal stimulation really has nothing to do with the future.”

“You know, talking about sex with you is really not something I want to do.”

“Then don't bring it up.”

“I didn't – Ugh, whatever. You're impossible.”

He shrugged and began to draw again. He drew Larry smiling a big toothy grin that made Draco want to smile just from looking at it. Harry leaned over and looked over his shoulder at the drawing.

“Wow, you're really good.”

“Thank you,” Draco replied. He looked up, and was shocked at at how close Harry was to him, he could feel the heat from his breath on his lips. “Will you answer my questions now?”

Harry pulled away. “I answered with all I know. I don't know why we are here.”

“You said that Hogwarts is like a dream. Why am I here then?”

“You were always here.”

“I've only been here the past three days.”

Harry paused. “I can't get rid of you. You're always here, there, you're everywhere I look when I open my eyes and when I close them. There, I hate you, and I can't stop thinking about you and what you are doing. I want to know. Here, you're so bloody annoying I want to kill you.”

“I want to kill you most of the time too.”

“I'm not supposed to want to kill you.”

Draco moved so that he was sitting next to Harry. He leaned in closer, felt the heat from his body against him, and said, “Maybe it's okay. Maybe you're the wrong sort too.”

Harry stared at him with a blank expression, but Draco barely noticed. Suddenly, he felt like Harry was too close and he thought of the hateful glares from Hogwarts, the unfathomable anger he felt every time he saw The-Boy-Who-Lived, and the strange feeling he felt when he saw him laughing with his friends. He had attributed it to hatred back then, but Draco knew it wasn't that. It was jealousy.

“The wrong sort?”

“Yes.” Draco leaned closer to him until he felt his lips press against Harry's. He shut his eyes and waited for Harry to respond. When he did, the reaction was immediate. Harry had his hands against Draco's cheeks, pulling him closer to him. Their lips moved against each other, their tongues touched and Draco was soon on top of him. When Harry pulled away to breathe, his glasses were askew on his face and his cheeks were flushed.

“This isn't right,” Harry said.

“No, it isn't. It's the right sort of wrong.”

“You're making no sense.”

Draco shrugged and leaned in for another kiss. Harry's hands slipped under his shirt and grabbed his hips, he pushed frantically against Draco, and flipped them over to he was on top. But then he stopped. Even though Draco felt him against his thigh and was equally hard, Harry paused and looked down at him with sad eyes.

“Can we just sleep? Then tomorrow, we'll have Christmas. Maybe this time, this will be reality.”

Draco sighed. “This isn't reality, Harry – can I call you that? Okay, Harry, Hogwarts is reality. Magic is -”

“Shh. Why ruin it?”

“Ruin what?”

“Christmas. This is the best Christmas I've ever had. Even with you here.”

Draco nodded and scooted over to the edge of the bed so that Harry could lay beside him. Harry grabbed his left hand and entwined their fingers. The dark mark was dark against his skin and when Harry saw it, he jolted up and pulled Draco's arm so that he could see the entire thing.

“You did get the dark mark!”

Draco flushed and jerked his arm away from Harry. “Yeah, so? You thought I would anyway so what does it matter?”

“I was – Forget it. It doesn't matter.”

“What? Just tell me. Tell me you hate me again and you hope I rot in Azkaban. Go on. Say it, I know you want to. I'm just a dirty death eater -”

“No! That's not – Once again, you make me want to kill you, but – no. It's just that, I was really hoping still that you were wrong. That Voldemort wasn't real.” Harry laid back down beside him. “Why did you get it? Your Father?”

“He didn't force me, if that's what you're thinking. I got it because I had to. I had to save my family, Harry, just as much as you want to save your friends. He is going to kill my Father and Mother if I do not accomplish his mission.”

“What does he want you to do?”

“Ha, not getting it out of me that easy. Things haven't changed. When we wake up, I bet you'll hate me more than before.”

“I don't think so.”

“I do. And I'm sure I will hate you.”

“You don't hate me now?”

Draco chuckled. “Go to sleep.”

Harry nodded and relaxed next to him. Outside, Draco could see the snow falling again, this time slowly, and he couldn't help but feel the urge to grab onto Harry's arm. He didn't want to leave, he wanted to stay here, on this bed with Harry. He thought of the cabinet, what he had to do, and he felt tears pool in his eyes and without a word, Harry wiped them away. He could have sworn he saw tears on Harry's cheeks through his blurred vision, but he was never to know, because within moments they fell asleep in each others arms.

 

~~**~~

 

“Draco? Pomfrey, he's waking up.” His voice was rough, harsh, and before he opened his eyes, Draco knew it was Snape standing beside him. His body felt stiff and the air was cold.

When he opened his eyes, he felt crusty pieces stick to his eyelids, and the light above him burned his eyes and he shut them quickly. He rubbed them and when he opened his eyes again, Madame Pomfrey was standing above him.

“Welcome back, Mr. Malfoy.”

“Back?”

“Yes, back. You gave us quite a scare. What were you thinking? Drinking that many sleeping draughts is dangerous. You're lucky Dobby found you when he did.”

“Dobby found me?”

“Yes. You should thank him.”

Draco nodded and closed his eyes. “What is today?”

“Christmas,” Snape replied. “You've been asleep three days.”

Draco nodded again and sighed. Despite the length of time he was asleep, he felt exhausted and drained of any energy. Pomfrey handed him a potion to drink that tasted like garlic, but it soothed his mind and he felt the sleep tingle at the edge of his consciousness.

“Professor?”

“Yes?”

He took in a deep breath and said, “I think you were right. About the portrait.”

Snape replied by grunting softly and he patted Draco's shoulder and before he fell asleep, he swore he heard Dumbledore's voice before he drifted away. The next time he woke up, the sun was shining bright outside and he felt rested for the first time in weeks. The cabinet was still left unfinished, but his mind was sharp and ready to solve the puzzle.

“You're awake.”

“Professor, don't you have better things to do than sit next to me?”

“Your Mother sent me a howler yesterday during lunch. I wouldn't want to face her wraith should you attempt to overdose on one of the many potions here.”

Draco scoffed. “I'm not suicidal. Although I will never take so many at one time again. Whatever you put in those made me have the strangest dream.”

“Dream? Draco, with that many draughts you shouldn't have dreamed. There was no indication that you were dreaming.”

“Really? I was dreaming, I think. It didn't feel like my dream.”

“Potter's?”

Draco frowned and he looked away from Snape. “How did you know that?”

“The draughts I gave you were from a batch I also gave to Potter. There is a chance, a small chance, that caused you to enter his dream. But the only way that would be possible is if you were already present in the dream and he was asleep when you took the draughts. That's highly unlikely.”

On his arm was the dark mark, he could see it just barely coming out from the sleeve of his shirt. Draco sighed. “It doesn't matter now. Can I go back to the dorm?”

“If you take these potions first. Madame Pomfrey had to leave with Dumbledore this morning but she left these for you.”

Draco downed the potions quickly and hopped off the bed. His skin was sticky and he felt dirty. Snape didn't press the issue any further, so he left without another word to his Professor and quickly walked down to the dorms. The paintings greeted him as he went by, but he ignored them and quickened his step. When he entered the dorms the first thing he saw was the slanted portrait, and for the first time it didn't bother him and sat down on the sofa.

On the table was the snitch and necklace he purchased in Hogsmeade. He picked it up and turned it over in his hand until he saw the symbol on the side. He touched his lips and brushed his thumb against the rune symbol.

“Harry,” he whispered. The symbol blurred and he wiped away the stray tears.

 

~~**~~

 

The cabinet was still eluding him when the other students came back from their Christmas break. Draco sat at the Slytherin table with his fork at the edge of his lips. He pressed it against his lips again and closed his eyes at the cool temperature of the metal. Harry came into the Great Hall with his two friends, but for a split second his eyes met Draco's.

Draco pulled the snitch from his pocket, he had tied the necklace around the middle and when he released it, the snitch flew straight to Harry. It hovered in front of his glasses for a moment before it was enveloped in Harry's palm. He saw his friends try to lean over to see what he had, but Harry kept it somewhat hidden until he had the necklace off the snitch.

He could see Granger talking, she pointed to the symbol and in moments, Harry's expression went from one of confusion to enlightenment. He looked over at Draco, but Draco quickly looked down at his plate again.

“Draco?” Blaise sat next to him. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing.”

“How was Christmas?”

Draco shrugged, not willing to go into details with his friend. He stood and headed to the doors, when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned and saw Harry standing next to him. His magic felt stronger, his voice more powerful and he had grown just enough to be about the same height, but Draco was pleased to see his was still a bit taller.

“Did you send me this?”

“I have no idea what you're talking about, Potter.”

“Hermione said the symbol is Algiz, the norse rune for protection. Why would you -”

“I didn't.” Draco turned away from him, he was not willing to confirm that he had been in the dream for real, and began walking further away.

“You're the wrong sort,” Harry said, his words were rushed, like he was unsure of what he was saying. When Draco turned, his eyes met Harry's and they stayed silent for several moments. Harry continued, “You've always been the wrong sort. But does it matter now?”

Draco tapped his foot against the ground and felt his chest tighten again. He shook his head and said, “I told you, Potter. Nothing has changed.”

“Why?”

“Because it hasn't. I still have obligations, as do you. Just keep that necklace on and then maybe, after everything, something will change. Just look at your friends. They are whispering to each other, as are mine. Right now, nothing has changed.”

Draco pushed the doors open and walked down the hall, leaving Harry alone. His footsteps echoed in the empty hall alone until another set thudded toward him. He heard something buzz past his ear, he felt the wind caress his hair and when he looked ahead of him, he saw the snitch playfully in front of his nose. He grabbed the golden ball and looked back at Harry, who had the necklace around his neck.

“Keep it with you and just remember, I always catch the snitch.”

He pursed his lips together and smirked at Harry. “Not this time.”

“You'll see.”

Draco shook his head and slipped the snitch into his pocket. Again he began his way down the hall, and just as he rounded the corner, he looked at Harry. He was staring straight at him, as if nothing could tear his attention away from his goal, and Draco shuddered under his gaze. Nothing had changed, yet everything, Draco knew, was different.