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I Beg Your Pardon, Potter?

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“I beg your pardon, Potter?” It was lunchtime and Harry Potter had just asked Draco Malfoy out on a date.

“I asked you out, Malfoy.” It had been a dare from Seamus.

“I think I will go with,” Draco paused, squinting at Harry, incredulous at even being asked. “No.”

“Oh good,” Harry said, breathing a sigh of relief. “I was hoping you’d say that.”

“Well, then why the bloody hell did you ask?”

“It was a dare.”

“Oh.”

“See you around, Malfoy!” and Harry skipped away, while Malfoy frowned after him.

...

Later that night, Draco lay in his bed, staring at the velvety green canopy of his four poster bed. He was thinking back to how Harry had asked him out. He’d half considered saying yes. Hell, why not? It would have been a laugh. But then he’d have had to kiss Harry and he didn’t really want to do that. (Did he?)

But it had been a dare anyway, so it didn’t matter. He was glad it was a dare. He didn’t like Pothead that way. He didn’t like him at all come to think of it. It would have been awkward if it hadn’t been a dare though. They would have had to get through all the sexual tension in Potions where they always seemed to be paired together. It was like Snape had a secret, or not so secret, sadistic side and he enjoyed watching them torment each other. As much as Draco admired the Potions Master, he sure creeped him out.

Sure enough, the next day:

“Malfoy, go with Potter and see if you can bring out the hidden Potions skills that may be lurking somewhere inside his thick skull,” Snape said in his oily voice. Draco wondered idly if he practiced making his voice sound that way so that it would match his hair. Then he wondered if Snape would sound different if he washed his hair.

“Great,” Draco huffed as he sat down heavily beside Harry. “You again.” Harry grinned at him.

“Don’t worry,” the black haired boy said. “I won’t ask you out again. What potion are we making?” Draco frowned and consulted the board.

“Uh,” he said. “Dreamless Sleep Potion.”

“Cool.”

“No,” Draco corrected. “Not cool. Difficult.” Harry frowned for a moment, then a grin spread across his face.

“But I’ve got you as my partner! You’re good at Potions!” Harry said, enthusiastically.

“What is wrong with you, Potter? Are you high?” Draco asked. Harry shook his head and giggled. “Drunk then?” Harry looked around to make sure that no one had heard what Draco had said and nodded quickly. Then he giggled again. Well, that explained a lot. “Were you drunk yesterday when you asked me out?” Harry nodded again.

“And I was dared,” he said.

I know that.”

“Ooh, touched a nerve, did I?” Harry teased.

“No,” Draco snapped. “Now start reading out the ingredients.” Harry sighed and turned to the correct page in his book.

“Frogspawn. Corcoran weed. A bunny foot. Some water-“

“How much water?”

“A liter and a half. Winter sage. Red rose petals…” and the list went on. Harry grew more and more bored with reading them out, so he invented some of his own ingredients and swapped them around with the ones that they were given. Just for kicks and giggles. Because at the end of the day - who really cared? Harry didn’t. At that moment, Harry didn’t really care about anything.

“Bigglesworth weed?” Draco asked. Harry looked up and nodded. “Does it really say to use that?”

“Yeah, duh.”

“Okay,” he said and went off to the store cupboard and came back with the plant. “Anything else?” he asked once he’d put it on the table. Harry shook his head. “Alright, what are the instructions?” And Harry began to make them up.

“First, you chop up the caterpillars and throw them in the boiling water.”

“So I should boil the water?”

“Yes. Also finely dice the mint, the rose petals and the winter sage leaves and mix them together.” Harry thought vaguely that he should be the new Potions Master. He was good at making up new potions. He would have to remember this one. “Are you making notes?” he asked. Draco looked up from the caterpillars he was chopping. He hadn’t let Harry help with the slicing as he was worried Harry would cut himself in his current state of intoxication.

“What?”

“On the procedure. Are you making notes? Snape said to make notes.”

“But I can just look it up in the book.”

“But you learn better when you write it down. It’s a new rule.” Harry nodded sagely. The effect was spoiled by his slightly unfocussed eyes.

“So, why are you writing it down?” Draco asked. He was damned if he was going to do all the work for this lesson. Potter had better do something other than read.

“Because you’re going to,”

“But,” Draco spluttered.

“Please?” Harry batted his eyelashes and tried to look endearing.

“No.” Harry frowned by picked up his quill and some parchment. He could at least doodle and look like he was taking notes.

“Then after the caterpillars, uh, add the Bigglesworth weed. One leaf at a time. That’s the important bit.” Draco did what he said and small blue sparks were observed on the surface of the water. They jotted that down.

“Now add two drops of resazurin.” This one was at least on the instructions. A color change occurred. The potion turned pink. Harry made a note. And then a doodle. He’d actually managed to write down most of his procedure so far, which surprised him.

“Stir it clockwise.”

“How many times?”

“Two.” The potion began to glow. “Now add the rose petals with the mint and the winter sage. The ones that we chopped up earlier.” The glowing stopped and the potion turned a deep purple. “Add the frogspawn now and stir it five times anti-clockwise.” The purple darkened to black and then turned bright orange.

“Are you sure we’re doing this right?” Draco asked. “Everyone else’s potions are blue.”

“Yes,” Harry snapped. “Just give it a minute and add the bunny foot.” And sure enough, the potion turned blue. Harry was proud of himself. He had no idea what he was doing, but he was doing a good job. Draco sighed in relief. He ran a shaky hand through his hair, leaving it slightly mussed up, then stared at Harry expectantly. Harry stared back.

“The potion?” Draco asked eventually. “What do we do next?”

“Right,” Harry said. “Add the Corcoran weed. Emphatically. Like throw it in with gusto.” Draco dropped the Corcoran weed into the cauldron. “That wasn’t particularly emphatic,” Harry muttered.

“So sue me.”

“Slowly drop in the silver nitrate. Good. Now add the dragonfly wings one at a time, and then we’re done. Oh, wait. No. Stir it four times clockwise and then once anti-clockwise.” Draco did and the potion glowed silver for a moment before settling down to a pretty turquoise color, which was surprisingly similar to the color of the rest of the class’s potions.

Harry grinned to himself and continued to write everything down on his piece of parchment. It was also covered in doodles of snitches and broomsticks and Malfoy and hearts and oh no. He’d drawn Malfoy on a piece of parchment that Malfoy might see. Damn. He rested his head resignedly on his hand and sighed. He was almost too drunk to care. He scribbled down the last of his instructions and prayed that it was legible so that he could remember the potion in the morning.

“Potter,” Draco said sharply. Harry sat up straight and tried to look attentive. “Why have you drawn me on your parchment?”

“That’s not you,” Harry said. “That’s someone else.”

“No, it’s definitely me. You’ve added my initials.”

“No, this person is Daniel, uh, Longbottom Miller. Yes. That’s who that is.” Harry nodded quickly. “He just happens to also have blond hair and a smirk.”

“Not buying it. Why have you drawn me?” Draco asked again.

“Uh, so that I can use it in my ritual burning of your effigies?”

“Oh?”

“Yes, it’s held once a month, on the Astronomy tower, during the full moon. I dance around naked and burn all the pictures I’ve drawn - er - that I have of you.”

“Wait, drawing me is a common thing?”

“Only, so that I can burn your effigies,” Harry retorted.

“But that makes no sense.”

“Doesn’t it?”

“No?”

“Aha! Uncertainty!” Harry seized upon it like a drowning man to a raft. He didn’t want Malfoy to think he liked him. Gosh no. Even if it was true. “You want to say it makes sense, because it does. It definitely does. I hate you, so I draw you in order to burn your likeness. I hate you so much that I take that extra effort to burn you. To, uh, show my hate.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “You’re so special.” Harry beamed.

“I know!” he exclaimed. “I’m the Boy-Who-Lived!”

“No, as in, ‘don’t eat the snargaluff pod’ special,” Harry frowned.

“Yeah? Well, you’re gay.” He hadn’t meant to say it. It just came out. And really, Harry didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. In fact, there were lots of things right with it. But it seemed like something Malfoy didn’t want people to know and now Harry was using this against him. He hated himself for it.

“Who told you?” Draco muttered, so quietly that Harry almost didn’t hear it.

“No one,” Harry said, and he meant it. “I have special powers.”

“Yeah, we all do, Potter. It’s called magic,” Malfoy snapped.

“No,” Harry said. He wanted to fix the conversation. He wanted it to go back to the easy banter they’d had before. “I mean, I can tell when people are like me.” He twiddled his thumbs and looked at the floor. He half expected a sneered retort to do with him being a “speccy git” or something along those lines. When Draco didn’t say anything, Harry looked up. The blond boy was looking at him thoughtfully.

“So, when you asked me out, it could have been real?” he asked eventually. Harry blinked at him.

“Well,” he said slowly. “It could have, except for the fact that it was you, and I’m supposed- and I hate you.” He looked pointedly back down at the floor again.

“If you hate me so much, why have you been brewing a love potion?” Draco asked, bending down so that he could look Harry in the eyes.

“Have I really been brewing a love potion?” Harry’s eyes brightened and he grinned.

“Yeah, I thought you knew that. I just went along with it because…” he paused for rather too long. “I thought it might be fun to make.” An awkward silence fell. Harry wasn’t sure where to look, but couldn’t bring himself to look at Draco and so picked up his quill again and doodled another snitch on the corner of his parchment.

“Screw it,” he said, putting his quill down with a thud on the table. Draco looked up. “Go out with me. Just one date. Why not?”

“Okay.”

“Okay?” Harry asked, thrown for a moment by the calm tone of Draco’s acceptance.

“Yes, okay. Though, Potter, I don’t quite know why I’m agreeing to this.”

“Because I’m amazing. I thought that was obvious,” Harry said.

“Right,” Draco said slowly. He had the horrible feeling he was making a huge mistake, but, as Harry had said, screw it. It couldn’t hurt to try. After all - what was the worst that could happen?