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Cruciatus

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Draco Malfoy was crying. Actually crying.

Harry would have been less shocked if he’d walked in to see Voldemort and Dumbledore having a cup of tea together.

Malfoy was trembling in front of the sink, tears streaming down his face, and his hair, which was normally gelled to perfection, was so messy that it rivalled Harry’s own. His choked sobs echoed around the otherwise empty bathroom. It almost hurt to look at him. His rival, if he could even call Malfoy that anymore.

He’d barely glanced at Harry all year, not even the time when Harry had deliberately tripped and fell flat on his face to see if he could get a reaction out of him. All Malfoy had done was scowl at him, but even that didn’t have the menace it should have. It drove Harry nuts.

The moment was broken as he took a step forward, and his worn out old Converse (which he continued to wear despite Ron’s obvious amusement) touched the wet floor with a squeak.

Damn it, he thought.

Malfoy immediately whipped around, almost slipping on the watery tiles, wand in hand. His eyes were puffy and bloodshot, his shirt was undone, and he looked as if he hadn’t slept in days.

He looked profusely un-Malfoy-like.

His eyes widened as he saw Harry standing near the doorway. He raised his wand at the same time Harry raised his own.

Harry, panicking, decided on the first spell he could think of.

Sectumsempra, for enemies.

Malfoy was technically his enemy, right?

But Malfoy was quick, and before Harry could even get out the first syllable, Malfoy had cast his curse.

”Crucio!”

Harry knew there was no point in trying to cast a Protego to defend himself from the white hot pain that would be coming his way. It was unblockable.

Harry braced himself for the pain that he’d only once felt when he was in the graveyard with Voldemort himself. It had felt like scalding hot knives were piercing every inch of his body.

But to his confusion, and utmost relief, there were no knives this time. In fact, he wouldn’t have even called them scissors.

A dull numbness quickly spread throughout him, and it was over before Harry could say “What the fuck?”

It almost reminded him of the feeling of your foot falling asleep, only this time it was his entire body. More uncomfortable and annoying than painful, really.

Malfoy looked almost as confused as Harry felt. His brows were furrowed, and his wand was now hanging limply from his hand.

Harry opened his mouth to say something, anything, but then it hit him. He’d gotten the advice from none other than Bellatrix Lestrange when he’d tried to use the curse on her. You have to mean it, she’d shrieked at him, laughing at his less than successful attempt to hurt her.

Which meant that Draco didn’t mean it.

He didn’t mean it.

Draco almost looked as if he was going to start crying again. His lip was trembling, and maybe Harry was imagining things, but it seemed like Draco’s stormy grey eyes were filling with tears once more.

For the first time, it occurred to Harry that Draco was just a kid. A kid who’d been dragged into this hellish war just like him. He knew they were far from being acquaintances, even, but he couldn't help feeling a little sympathetic. After all, who else knew what it felt like to have their destiny chosen for them better than himself? 

Draco (when had he started referring to him by his first name?) turned away from him to face the mirror again. He let out a shaky breath.

“I’m not doing anything evil, if that’s why you’re here,” Draco said, sounding exhausted. “Just leave me alone.”

“You just tried to use an unforgivable on me,” Harry pointed out. “That’s a little evil.”

“Yes, well, I suppose you’re too unobservant to realize that it didn’t bloody work.” He said sharply, sounding more like himself than he had in a long time. Harry almost smiled with the sensation of pure relief. Almost. 

“You have the mark, don’t you?” Harry asked. It was a wild guess, but he was almost certain it was true. What else could cause the cool and collected Draco Malfoy to cower in front of a sink, sobbing his heart out?

Draco froze. After a moment, he spoke quietly, never turing to face Harry.

“Maybe you’re less of an idiot than I presumed,” Draco said quietly.

“What does he want you to do?”

“I don’t know what you’re referring to.” Draco sounded almost confident, but there was a note of uncertainty that gave it away.

“Yeah, right. So you’re in here crying because of what, exactly? Getting an E instead of an O in potions? Not getting enough caviar for dinner?” Harry spoke, not unkindly, wondering if he should keep the sarcasm at a minimum.

Draco turned around, incredulous.

“Excuse me? This is none of your business, and if you would kindly fuck off, we can both be on our way and pretend this miserable little run-in didn’t happen,” Draco snapped, grabbing his cloak from the floor and stalking past Harry, brushing against his shoulder as he passed. 

Harry sighed, and without thinking, he turned around and grabbed Draco’s arm before he reached the door. His heart was pounding, and it only increased when Draco turned to face him with a look of disbelief, confusion, and another emotion Harry couldn’t quite place his finger on. 

Harry pulled his hand off quickly, feeling a slight blush creep into his cheeks as Draco gazed at him with grey eyes that made Harry feel like he was being analyzed for ulterior motives. 

“I can help you,” he stated. What the hell was he doing?

“You don’t even know my task,” Draco spoke slowly, like he was addressing a five year old. “There’s nothing you can do.”

“So you do have a task!” Harry exclaimed.

Draco opened his mouth, and quickly snapped it shut, looking like he’d already said too much. He was probably wondering why Harry was still talking to him, but Harry didn’t care. This was the first time he and Draco had ever had a civil conversation, and as terrible of a person he may have been, Harry knew he didn’t deserve whatever it was that Voldemort was threatening him with. 

“I- why are you doing this?” Draco asked, warily.

“Because... I want to?”

Draco raised his eyebrows, and Harry sighed.

“Honestly, I- I don’t know. I’m terrible in these kinds of situations. I’ve been kind of bullshitting through life. But one thing I’m sure of is that I know Voldemort,” Harry said quietly, ignoring Draco’s wince when he mentioned Voldemort. “I know the kinds of things he does, the threats he makes, I’ve literally been in his head. So maybe, just maybe, there’s a slight chance that I can help.”

Draco paused. Harry hoped he was considering it, at least. It would be quite awkward if he refused and stormed out of the room.

After what seemed like minutes, he spoke.

“IhavetokillDumbledore,” he mumbled unintelligibly.

“What?”

“He- he wants me to kill Dumbledore,” said Draco, refusing to meet his eyes.

Kill Dumbledore? Albus Dumbledore, the man even Voldemort himself hadn't been able to get rid of? Harry would have laughed if Draco hadn’t looked so distressed. That certainly wouldn’t encourage him to open up.

“That’s an impossible task!” Harry said incredulously.

“I know.” Draco hesitated. “I don’t think he expects me to succeed.”

Understanding dawned on Harry. Voldemort wanted to punish the Malfoys.

“Let me guess, he’s threatening you and your parents?”

Draco didn’t respond. There was no need to.

“We have to talk to Dumbledore!”

Draco’s jaw dropped open.

“Are you insane? What are we supposed to say, exactly? ‘Good evening Professor, I have to kill you by the end of the year or You-Know-Who’s going to murder my family’? Not a very good dinner conversation, is it?” 

“He’ll understand.”

“No!” He spoke fast. “At- at least not yet. I have to figure this out.”

“What is there to figure out? You don’t want to kill him.”

”Oh, well spotted!”

“Fine, at least think about it. He can protect you. He’s the only one Voldemort’s afraid of. Oh, don’t make that face! I’ve fought him enough times to be able to say his name!” 

Draco visibly relaxed, although Harry still suspected that Draco didn’t really believe he could do anything to help.

Well, Harry would just have to prove him wrong. He decided right then and there that he would do whatever it took.

“You’re really going to kill him, aren’t you?” Draco asked, as if he was really seeing Harry for the first time since he introduced himself, with no success, in first year. 

“That’s the plan, I guess.” Harry shrugged nonchalantly.

The corners of Draco’s mouth turned up slightly, and Harry had to admit to himself that he was quite pretty when he wasn’t sneering.

“Can I ask you something?”

The question made Harry’s heart pound, but he nodded anyway.

“Why did you assume I ate caviar?”

Oh. Harry let out a breath, and grinned.

“Well, it’s rich people food isn’t it?” He responded jokingly.

“I’ve never even tried it.”

“Yeah, right.”

“I’m serious.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

And then Draco smiled at him. Really smiled.

As Harry looked back at him, he realized that maybe it was a good thing he had been in a stalking mood today.