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The Second Meeting

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The Sorting seemed to bleed together as name after name was called, Harry knowing them all, but unable to tear his gaze away from where Draco was sitting at the Gryffindor table and no. No, no, no, that wasn't right at all. Draco was- He was Slytherin. Ambitious, cunning, resourceful- He shouldn't be at the Gryffindor table. Hearing his own name, Harry stumbled up to the hat, not even caring about any of the whispers going around the hall. He just tried to catch a glimpse of Draco before the hat was on him-

'Oh? And here I thought I had seen all the surprises tonight would bring. Back again, Harry Potter?'

'I, uh, no. Maybe- Is Draco okay? He can't be a Gryffindor. Maybe he can change houses.'

'I suppose he was wrong in that, then.' Wait, what? 'These next few years are going to be very interesting for you two. Perhaps I should put you in Slytherin, hm? Round it all out nicely.'

'What? No- No, I can't leave him alone now. He needs me. He can't do this by himself.'

'Oh, your years among the lions did a number on you. You seem to be underestimating just what he's capable of. He's as much a Gryffindor as you are a Slytherin, I think.'

'Are you kidding? You think putting him in the same room as Ron without me in there is a good idea- He's probably over there right now, self destructing and shutting down!'

'What did you come back here for, Harry Potter. It wasn't just to chase after someone who could have survived on his own. What was the real reason you came back?'

'To save people. They didn't deserve to die, and Draco doesn't deserve this.'

'So Gryffindor.' The hat almost sounded disappointed. 'You'll have a harder time of it, you know. There's plans in here that would work best if you went to Slytherin, but ah... You could never leave someone behind, could you.'

'Not when I'm trying to save them.'

'You two are going to make these next few years very interesting for the world.' The hat seemed to laugh, the sound strange, but... Not bad, Harry supposed. 'Salazar would have adored you two. In your case, though, better be Gryffindor!"

Harry couldn't help but to breathe a sigh of relief at his sorting, immediately handing the hat to McGonagall and joining the Gryffindors. He didn't pay any of the others any mind, eyes only for Draco as he sat beside him. Draco looked over Harry, just as cool and jaded as a Malfoy. "What are you doing."

"I don't know anyone else here," Harry said quietly, a little shaken up by his talk with the hat. "And you're the only one who hasn't treated me like soddin' Harry Potter."

"You know Weasley. Go join their clan," Draco huffed, apparently looking forward to his pity party.

"Get over yourself," Harry shook his head, feeling much better after hitting Draco in the side. "I'm sitting with you, aren't I? I'm staying here. Besides, I don't trust those twins. They look to be plotting the downfall of the entire school." Which, remembering fifth yeah, well- Oh, yeah. The twins had the map right now, didn't they?

"Funny. That's exactly what they're all thinking about me." Draco scoffed and brushed himself off, turning his head away from Harry. Which, really... He wasn't wrong. A Malfoy in Gryffindor was enough to shake the entire school up.

Draco was quiet and barely ate throughout the feast, Harry not really able to blame him - he'd be the same if he got Slytherin, after all. Ooh, imagine everyone seeing 'Harry Potter' get Slytherin. Now that would have shaken the school up. With Harry lost in his thoughts, it seemed like no time at all before they were moving up to the common room, Harry sticking close to Draco as the rest of the first years avoiding Draco as much as possible. Honestly.

The second they reached the dorm, Draco found a bed tucked away into the corner and fell into it, closing the curtains behind him. Harry couldn't even begin to imagine how Draco felt. He hoped Draco's friends wouldn't hold this against him. "Alright," Dean said. "Good night then." Well... Well, Harry would help him in the morning. Draco didn't need to be a put together Malfoy every second of the day. Going for his old bed, Harry yawned. He could use some sleep himself after- Jesus.

Harry almost had a heart attack as he saw Draco leap out of bed and almost knock him over before he stomped towards his trunk, tearing through it like he was possessed. Dean was beside him, raising an eyebrow. "Uh, mate? You alright?" From the look of things, no, Draco wasn't.

"Fine- Shut up. I don't want to lose my train of thought." Draco grabbed parchment and ink and quills before moving to sit back on his bed, scribbling things out and what... What was he doing?

"He's a Malfoy," Ron 'whispered', explaining to Dean and Harry and oh, no, this Ron did not know how to whisper. "He's probably throwing a fit he got this house and is writing home to complain to his father. Right piece of work, he is. Follower of You-Know-Who." Well, fuck.

Draco snapped over, looking like he was already close to tearing Ron's head off. "You don't know a thing about my father!"

"I know enough to know he's as rotten to the core as you are," Ron snapped, getting as red as his hair and oh, no, this would not end well. "I don't even know why the hat put you here. A Malfoy doesn't belong in Gryffindor. You should be off in the dungeons with the rest of those snakes!" Draco near knocked over the inkwell as he stood, glaring fiercely at Ron.

"You shut up! You don't talk about my father like that! Shut up!" The others were looking nervous, and Ron looked ready to physically hit Draco. Alright, Harry had to put a stop to this before it got too far. He quickly kicked Ron's feet out from under him, frowning at how uncoordinated the kick was. He'd have to get back into a good training regime. Especially with how fourth year was going to be.

"How about we not get screamed at by your brother for causing so much noise," Harry shook his head, trying to make his voice stern. It didn't work so well considering he was eleven. "Ron, you're way out of line. You're insulting him and his family for rumors, and things that none of us really understand. Just… drop it for tonight."

Draco wheeled on Harry, his hands balling into fists as he was near shaking. "I don't need you to fight my battles for me! I'm perfectly capable of defending myself!" Startled, Harry frowned before glaring and right. Right.

"Right. No more interfering in your life. Got it." With that, Harry was helping Ron up and then heading for his trunk to rifle around for pajamas and ugh. Draco bloody Malfoy. Draco growled in frustration before muttering a spell to put his things back to his trunk as he flopped back down, closing his curtains again. Fucking drama queen. Draco bloody Malfoy, had to always make sure he was the center of attention. Couldn't even let Harry try to help him, just- Ugh!

Fine, Draco wanted to feel bad for himself and sulk in bed all night? Fine. Harry could do this all on his own if he needed. Honestly. He was just... Harry groaned, collapsing in his own bed and why did things always have to be so difficult with them. Oh right. They were Potter and Malfoy.

When Harry woke up the next morning, it looked like Draco was already gone. Probably trying to send his letter off to his parents as soon as he could. No doubt he would be begging to be put in Slytherin after this mess. Harry almost hoped it worked because Draco in Gryffindor… God, that would be changing a lot of things.

Rolling out of bed, Harry grabbed his outfit for the day and went to get dressed and, right. Maybe he should just check on Draco, anyways? He was probably calmed down by now. Maybe grab him something quick to eat for breakfast, since he was probably avoiding the Great Hall until this whole mess blew over. A piece of toast or two wouldn't hurt. Really, who didn't like toast, after all.

Just as he'd predicted, Draco was in the owlery, just sending his owl off with a letter in its talons. "Ah, I was wondering where you went." Well, not quite wondering. Ha, he hadn't even needed the map. "Here."

"What." Draco turned and glanced down to see Harry was holding out toast for him. "I don't like bread." He turned again and stormed off. Harry tried not to huff as he shook his head, looking up to where Hedwig was.

"Don't suppose you'd like a bit of toast?" Hedwig seemed to coo, flying down to him and gratefully nibbling at her breakfast. Harry smiled and ran a hand through her feathers. "What do you think, girl? Think we can get Draco to lighten up a bit this year?" Hedwig 'hoo'ed and nuzzled against his cheek. He forgot how sweet she always was. "Yeah, I think we can, too. Now c'mon, I need to get to Potions before Snape tears my head off."

When Harry got down to the dungeons, it looked like he was the last one, and the only seat left in the class was right up front, next to… Oh, boy. There had to be another seat somewhere. Anywhere? "Mr. Potter there is a perfectly good seat by Mr. Malfoy. Now either sit down or leave this classroom." Draco spared Harry a glance before continuing his reading. Oh. This was going to be awful.

Sitting down, Harry tried not to do anything to set Draco off as he pulled out parchment to take notes, because Snape was always cruel when it came to this class, and… Oh, that was just weird. Snape wasn't going after him, or attacking him, and hadn't he taken points from him the first day? He wasn't doing that. What had Harry done to change that? Or maybe… Harry eyed Draco cautiously. Maybe it wasn't what he'd done to change it.

The lesson was given and the instructions written on the board, Harry watching as Draco glanced to him. "I'll be chopping and slicing everything." He stood and walked over to the cauldron, head slightly tilted. Harry followed after him, eyeing him warily.

"Alright. Do I have to worry about you stabbing me with the knife?"

"If you were to be injured, I'd most likely receive a failing grade." Draco rolled his eyes, nudging Harry to the cauldron and lining up to grab their ingredients from the cabinet. Honestly.

"Logic doesn't stop anyone from taking a swing," Harry snorted, reading the instructions and starting on boiling the water. "You seem pretty upset. Not sure why, but I'd rather not get snapped at for not doing anything."

"Perhaps not you." Draco shot a glare to Ron, only gathering the ingredients and bringing them over to the counter, quickly chopping the ingredients.

"You're very good at that, you know," Harry muttered, looking at the knife cautiously. He wouldn't put it past Draco to take a stab. "Bit too much, really." Jeez, he was eleven right now, he needed to act like it. "Also, don't skip meals. I don't want to have to be worrying after you."

"I'm older than you. You're not the one telling me what to do, here." Draco only pushed them towards Harry, looking expectant. Was he even trying?

"If this potion ends up completely destroyed, you can blame me," Harry said, staring at the board and carefully adding the things in as instructed. It was a first year potion, yeah, but it was potions. "And you can't be that much older. Everyone here is eleven." Idiot.

"I'm a couple months older." ...Damn. Draco had him, there. Okay, right, time to see just how bad off Draco was.

"So, asked around a bit. Heard your whole family was in Slytherin." Harry gave him what he hoped was a curious look. "That why everyone - including you - is going so crazy about you being in Gryffindor?" Draco didn't deign to respond. He only continued with the potion as though Harry hadn't asked anything at all. "Right. Avoid subjects about family and houses."

The two worked in silence for a bit, Harry not really speaking beyond a quiet question on what they were doing. Other than that he was just staring at Draco with considering eyes. "What." Draco looked over at him, their eyes meeting.

"I can't figure you out." He was so different, but he was still so Draco. "You're a right git, but there's a part of you that's not all that bad. I just can't figure out which part of you is stronger right now." Harry was hoping the good part of him would win out. Maybe it was good he was in Gryffindor. He could learn a few things from it.

"Well perhaps I don't want to be figured out. Hurry up." Draco leaned against the counter, crossing his arms. That was- That was actually kind of hilarious. And cute.

"I think it's less that, and more that you don't want to be hurt." Harry turned the fire off and stirred the cauldron the correct number of times. "You don't want anyone to see you upset by all this." Draco glared across the room, keeping his gaze firmly away from him - probably because Harry was right.

"What do you know." Well, if he were really an eleven year old Harry, nothing.

"About you? Nothing. About things like this? More than you'd think. If you want I'll drop it and not bring it up anymore. I can tell you don't want much to do with me."

"Like I said. I can defend myself just fine. I don't need your help." Sure, he could defend himself just fine, but he probably could really use some help in all of this.

"I never said you couldn't defend yourself, you just... No one should have to fight stuff like this on their own. No one should have to face these things alone, and lost, and-" Harry cut himself off, gaze on the potion. "No one deserves that." Draco glanced at him before relaxing a bit. He sighed and shook his head.

"Some do." Clean-up was called, Harry carefully bottling their potion to hand in. It turned out rather good, Harry noted. It was a simple one, though. After the grades he'd got in sixth year, not even he could mess this potion up.

"You don't." With that, Harry was taking the potion up to the front to hand in. When Harry turned around again, Draco was already leaving, clutching his bag tightly against himself. Ron came up to Harry, raising his eyebrows.

"Are you really trying to make friends with the snake?" Oh, Ron. Sighing, Harry gave him a small smile.

"I think everyone deserves to have at least one person they get along with. Besides, he doesn't seem too bad, even if he is a bit of a git."

"A bit of one? He's a grade A git! You haven't even met his dad! Spitting image, I'm telling you. Mental cases, the whole family." Trying not to laugh, Harry just nodded along as they left the classroom.

"Well, I haven't met his family, so I'm willing to give him a bit of a chance to prove he's not a total git." Draco was more than his father, after all.

"I'm telling you," Ron repeated. "He's just a snake waiting for a chance to bite our backsides."

"And I'm telling you that people can change. Let's just wait and see where he goes from here, yeah?"

"You know who I'm scared of most in this house? That girl we got last night, Hermione. Did you hear her going on about Hogwarts, A History? Who reads that!"

"People who didn't grow up knowing about Hogwarts?" Oh, right. Ron and Hermione had gotten along like cats and dogs in the beginning. "I think we could get along with her."

"Bloody hell. Sounds like you should have been in Hufflepuff." Oh- Oh, man, that- Harry started laughing before he could stop himself, throwing an arm around Ron's shoulders as he dragged him along.

"You know what, mate? We're gonna get along great, you and me."

::

"I don't know how you can understand those things." Honestly, they were supposed to be blending in, yet Draco kept reading all these seventh year books and looking bored out of his mind during classes. If people started catching on, it wouldn't be Harry's fault, this time. "I can barely understand the lessons we're doing right now." Draco gave a vague shrug, shifting in his seat. "Right, ignoring- Right. I wanted to know if you wanted to go down and visit Hagrid with me and Ron. Get out of the castle for a bit. Fresh air, as strange a thought as that is to you."

"Mm." Right. Guess there wouldn't be much changing Potter and Malfoy. Harry really wanted to fix this, but with Draco acting like this...

"Or you could just… not. That's fine, too." Harry ran a hand through his hair, sighing and… He didn't know what to do to fix this. "You should get out a little, though. Not even Hermione sits around studying all the time."

"That's her mistake." Draco shifted again in his seat. Why was he even trying? Draco obviously didn't want this. He... He didn't come back for the same reasons Harry did.

"I really don't know why I keep trying." Sighing again, Harry set down the cup of tea he had been holding beside Draco. Hopefully he still liked it the way Harry had made it. "Here, I noticed you usually like to drink tea when reading." With that, he headed towards the portrait hole.

"Gone around the bend, he has."

Harry grinned at Ron, who was waiting for him. "You know, I think I'm really getting through to him." Ron looked disbelieving as they left, Harry giving one last glance back. "He's really not so bad, you know."

"I don't get it, mate. I don't know why you even bother."

"No one deserves to be all on their own," Harry shrugged, glancing out the windows they passed. "Even if he looks like he's fine, he deserves someone to talk to that doesn't hate him."

"What do you mean if he 'looks like' he's fine? His mum sends him sweets every morning and he doesn't throw hissy fits like that first night. He's plenty fine," Ron brushed off, shaking his head and adjusting his bag.

"Just because you don't see someone breaking down around people doesn't mean they don't break down when they're curled up alone and have no one," Harry muttered, remembering just how many times he had said he was 'fine'. "Just… Trust me on this. Try to at least be pleasant? This can't be easy on him- I know, you hate him. I know. But still. Just… try."

"Malfoy? Breakdown? I don't think he's got enough emotion besides smug and evil for that to happen. Harry, mate, he's a slimy git. You should have seen him at this stupid Christmas party at Dad's work. He acted better than everyone. Like we should have been kissing the ground he walked on. He called me and my family blood-traitors." Oh, jeez, leave it to Draco to do something like that, he supposed.

"So maybe he was raised to act a certain way. Maybe now he's learning he doesn't get to be spoiled and have everything his way. This is probably like being dumped into cold water, which is a pretty rude awakening. Just… Everyone deserves a second chance, right? Let's see what he does with his." And really, nothing he said was a lie. Just when he'd given up on Draco, the blond caught up to them, an eyebrow raised.

"Are we going, then, or is this a Sunday stroll?" Draco kept his head held high as he walked alongside them calmly, glancing out the windows they passed. Ron looked disgruntled at Draco showing up, Harry raising an eyebrow and trying not to beam.

"Weren't you busy trying to out-study Hermione?" If Luna had been right, then maybe… It didn't hurt to hope, right?

"I decided you were right." Draco seemed to be studying Harry again, his nose wrinkling. Harry tried not to laugh.

"I'm sorry, what? Did you, Draco Malfoy, just admit someone other than yourself was right." Harry feigned shock, a hand going to feel his forehead. "This must be a dream. Or I'm hallucinating."

"Mm. No. I had the thought, so it means I'm also right." Draco allowed himself to smirk over at Harry.

"Oh, of course. I can only be right as long as you're right too," Harry nodded, as if that was a perfectly sensible thing. "I'll make note of that."

"Ridiculous, the pair," Ron muttered under his breath, shaking his head as if he couldn't believe either of them.

"You wouldn't understand, Weasley. You're used to always being wrong," Draco hummed, inspecting his fingernails. Harry kind of hoped he never changed, honestly.

"So," Harry spoke quickly, cutting Ron off before another fight could break out. "Have you heard much about Hagrid? I know all of your family went to Hogwarts, and I think he's been working here for… A long time."

"Heard of." Draco didn't say anything else, and, right. Probably his way of trying not to insult Hagrid. At least he was trying. And not spewing off information only a seventh year from the future would know.

"Think we could shove him into the forest," Ron asked 'quietly'. Honestly. No Weasley actually knew how to be quiet about anything. "The monsters would take care of the rest."

"Locomotor Mortis," Draco said simply, flicking his wand at Ron with very little effort.

"Why you little- Using magic in the halls is against the rules!" That got a laugh out of Harry as he shook his head.

"Careful, Ron, you're starting to sound like Percy." He looked back to Draco with a grin. "Neat trick. Think you could teach it to me?"

"Perhaps. And for your information, that rule holds no real weight. Many teachers do not enforce it, as we'd be practicing the spells taught to us by them, therefore further enhancing our skill."

"Clever comeback, won't work on Percy, though. Now, undo the spell and let's go. We don't want to be late to meet Hagrid."

::

Visiting Hagrid was pretty interesting when Draco tagged along. New, definitely, but that didn't have to be a bad thing - and the tea was great as always. It wasn't until a while later that Harry noticed a cutting of the Daily Prophet on the table and oh… Oh, god. He had forgotten- Well… Here they go again. "Hagrid." The others all looked over to him, Harry looking up from the cutting. "That Gringotts break-in… It happened on my birthday. You don't think it happened while we were there, do you?"

"'Course not," Hagrid said, looking away from them all. "'Sides, they didn't take anything. Can hardly call it a break-in when nothing's been stolen." Draco narrowed his eyes at Hagrid, looking him over before glancing to Harry. Ah, no one could out-Slytherin him, could they?

"It says they didn't catch who did it, though. And isn't Gringotts supposed to be impossible to break into?" Draco snorted at that, muttering something into his cup. He was probably thinking about when Harry, Ron, and Hermione had broken into it.

"Just coincidence," Hagrid waved off, looking nervous. "Now, let's get you lot fed, huh? Dinner won't be for a while, up at the castle." Draco remained silent, only sitting back in his chair. He was looking between Hagrid and Harry, eyes narrowed. Oh boy. Maybe Harry was letting on too much. He needed to be more careful about that. Waiting until Hagrid was busy talking to Ron, Harry tucked the clipping away into his pocket, Draco raising an eyebrow at him.

"Later," Harry muttered softly, dropping four sugars into a teacup and pushing it towards Draco. Draco took the cup and sipped from it, giving him a small nod.

The three were walking through the halls, everyone starting to settle down from the busy week of classes when Draco approached Harry, looking away from him."Harry," Draco said quietly. "I wanted to thank you. I heard you defending me to Weasley, and… I appreciate it."

"I'm curious, did that hurt you to say?" Seeing Draco bristle, Harry grinned. "Kidding, Draco. Like I said, everyone deserves a second chance. Even you." Draco rolled his eyes at that, looking away before speaking louder.

"So. Why'd you take that clipping, then?" Ah, well, better others saw it and started figuring it out instead of Harry just coming out and saying it all.

"Because I want to look into it more. That day we were at Gringotts, when something was stolen, Hagrid emptied a vault as well." Harry took the clipping out, unfolding it and holding it up. "Said it was for Dumbledore, 'very important', but… it was small. The size of a rock."

Ron's eyes widened at that. "Harry- You took it! And what do you mean? You think whatever Hagrid took was what people tried to steal?" Draco glanced to them, eyes narrowed. He looked ready to solve a puzzle, honestly.

"Hagrid said that the only place safer than Gringotts was Hogwarts. If they knew whatever it was, the package, was about to be stolen, they'd move it here, wouldn't they?" Harry tucked the clipping away again, smiling apologetically at Ron. "And I didn't take it, I just… borrowed it. I'll put the clipping back next time we visit." Draco only watched him for a moment before continuing to walk to the Gryffindor Common Room. The moment they stepped in, Draco took up his usual corner and was back to studying.

"Barmy, isn't he," he heard Ron 'whisper.' "Studies more than Hermione, I think. And that's saying something!" Honestly. Bloody Weasleys. None of them knew the meaning of privacy. Harry had never more appreciated Dudley in that moment.

"When he gets top of our year, and we get bottom, I'm going to remind you of this moment," Harry muttered back, and, yes. Things were going to work out.