It had been months since the war. Harry hadn't left Grimmauld Place in weeks. He walked down the stairs sometime during the morning and cast a quick glance at the pile of letters near the front door.
"Master, breakfast is ready," croaked Kreacher's horrible voice from the kitchen.
"Thank you Kreacher," Harry sighed, walking into the kitchen and sitting down at the wooden table. There was a plate of food sitting there, which he began to eat slowly. Kreacher's cooking was nowhere near as good as meals had been at Hogwarts, but it was still good, and he was grateful for the house elf's loyalty. As he ate, an owl soared through a small open window at the other end of the room, turning sideways and tucking its wings in the get through the narrow gap. One it was inside, it fluttered down and landed on the table. There was a letter tied tightly to one of its legs. Harry took the letter, shooing the bird off as it tried to steal food from his plate. Once the bird was sat on the other end of the table and watching him angrily, Harry unrolled the letter. It read:
Ron and I are worried about you. It's been weeks. Are you going to come over to the burrow soon? We all really want to see you. Maybe we should come over to see you instead. Would you like that? Ron and I were talking about going back to Hogwarts and retaking our last year. Did you make your decision yet? I've written hundreds of these letters, Harry. I'm running out of things to say. Please answer. Just once. I just want to know that you're okay, we all do. From, Hermione.
Harry cast the letter, and looked back up at where the owl was watching him expectantly.
"I'm not replying," he told it, and the owl rustled its feathers in annoyance. "Kreacher, take this owl outside," he sighed.
"Yes, master," Kreacher replied, quickly grabbing the owl and rushing off. He heard the owl squawking in alarm as Kreacher apparently threw it out of a window. Harry knew, of course, that he had to leave the house eventually. He needed to face his friends and the life he was now living. But after everything that had happened, he just couldn't. The last time he had seen Hermione and Ron, they had been too protective for his liking, and he was bored of answering everybody's questionings. So he'd kept himself hidden away, working through his own feelings and memories one by one (and writing it all down in a journal, even though he wouldn't admit that to anybody). And every time he thought he'd sorted something out, he found himself with even more questions. So he was keeping himself away from the others for the time being, waiting until he knew what was going on in his own head.
When another owl suddenly appeared, flying through the same window as the first one, Harry debated ignoring it. But, as he looked, he realised he didn't recognise the owl at all. The bird looked very proud of itself, sat there preening its feathers and watching him curiously. The owl was holding a neat letter in it's beak, which it dropped carefully onto the table.
"Another owl? Would master like me to get rid of it?" Kreacher asked, glancing at the bird.
"No, leave it," Harry said, and scooped up the letter. There was a green and silver wax seal on the envelope, and Harry knew who it was from instantly. For some reason, he ripped the envelope open eagerly. Perhaps he was just happy to get a letter from someone new for a change, that was what he told himself anyway. He cast the envelope aside and pulled out the paper, scoffing slightly at the perfectly neat handwriting that he recognised so well.
I need your help. Don't tell anyone I said that! You'll have seen that my family were pardoned. But there are problems. I sent the owl to find you, I assume she'll have done her job. No one would tell me where you were, not even your friends. I need to talk to you, but not with a letter, anyone could read it. Please write back so I can meet you (don't ever tell anyone I said that please). Send the owl back, she knows where to go. She likes treats, by the way. - Draco Malfoy.
"What does Malfoy want now?" Harry sighed to himself. Some part of him was slightly worried. He'd never heard Draco ask anyone for hep before, and he was pretty sure something bad had to be wrong, especially if it was Harry that he was having to ask. He still didn't want anyone talking to him about what had happened, but perhaps Draco wouldn't be so bad. He sighed, deciding then and there that he'd have to talk to someone eventually. Maybe Draco would be a good person to start with.
"Kreacher, bring me a quill and some parchment!" he called. The house elf instantly rushed off as Harry walked over to the cupboard to find some food for the owl, who was getting more impatient by the minute.
That afternoon, there was a knock at the door, and Kreacher instantly called that he would get it. Harry was sat in the living room, curled up in an armchair at the time, flicking through one of the many weird books he'd found when he first moved in. He put it down on the small coffee table, and stood up. Moments later, Draco strolled into the room, followed eagerly by Kreacher.
"Potter," Draco said coolly, looking him up and down, "Thank you for answering me."
"It's no problem," Harry replied, "What's wrong?" he added, realising that Draco looked slightly anxiously shifting around instead of standing still.
"Uh, can we talk in private?" Draco asked, looking down at Kreacher.
"Yes," Harry nodded, "Kreacher, take a break for a while, you deserve it."
"Thank you master!" Kreacher said, and scrambled away happily.
"You're too nice to your house elves, Potter," Draco said.
"He deserves it, he does a lot for me," Harry said, "Take a seat."
"Thank you," Draco said, sitting down on a sofa awkwardly. "This house is horribly dim," he added.
"I know," Harry replied, "I got used to it. What brought you here in such a state?"
"I am not in a state!" Draco snapped.
"Okay, whatever," Harry said, holding up his hands in surrender. "What's wrong?"
"I know that you know a lot of people. I was wondering if you knew anyone that would let me stay with them. I know it's not very likely, what with everything I've done over the years." Draco sighed.
"Why do you need somewhere to stay?" Harry asked curiously.
"I told my parents some things a few days ago," Draco said quietly, "I don't think I'm welcome there anymore. I left this morning and I don't intend to go back."
"What did you tell them?" Harry asked.
"That's none of your business, Potter!" Draco snapped.
"I'm only trying to help you," Harry sighed. "I don't know if I can find you somewhere to stay. I haven't been talking to anyone lately."
"That's okay, I suppose it was worth a try. There's got to be somewhere else I can go," Draco sighed, hanging his head slightly.
Harry sat for a few moments thinking. He could only think of one solution, and it didn't seem like a great idea to him. He looked up again as he heard movement, and saw Draco heading for the door. In that moment he realised it didn't matter what Draco wasn't telling him. He knew the other boy had changed now, he'd talked to him a few times since the war, and it had been like talking to a completely different person.
"Draco!" he called suddenly, and Draco seemed slightly shocked to be called by his first name, "You could always stay here. There's a bunch of spare rooms and the house is more than big enough for two people."
Draco chuckled miserably, "That's going to make way too many problems. Imagine what all your friends would think. The boy who lived, sharing a house with the boy who tried to kill him."
"Is that your new nickname?" Harry joked, and then sighed when Draco's face stayed serious. "Who cares what they say? I want to help you because I know you've changed. So will you please stay, even if it's just for a night or two?"
"If you insist," Draco sighed. "I really don't think this is a good idea."
"It's probably not, but who cares?" Harry laughed. "We have good food, and you'll have a place to stay. Maybe it could be fun."
"Fun, sure," Draco scoffed. "SO, uh, where's this room you were talking about?"
"Don't you need to go back and get any stuff?" Harry asked.
"I have what I need shrunk in my bag," Draco told him.
"In that case, follow me," Harry sighed, and began to head upstairs.
He walked past his own room, and headed up the hall to an empty room. He'd cleared everything out when he first moved in to get rid of the painful memories, and also to make it feel more like his own house. Now most of the rooms were empty apart from basic furniture. Harry pushed open one door, and peered in. The room was slightly dusty. All there was left in there was a bed, a wardrobe and a set of drawers.
"Sorry, it's really empty," Harry apologised, stepping sideways to let Draco walk in.
"It's better than nothing," Draco said, and Harry knew that was basically a thank you coming from him.
"I'll let you get settled in, I guess." Harry said awkwardly. He turned away, and headed back downstairs. Kreacher was waiting by the bottom of the stairs.
"Another guest?" Kreacher asked excitedly.
"Yes, Draco will be staying with us for a while," Harry said quietly.
"I shall prepare more food for him!" Kreacher practically squeaked he was so excited.
"Thank you," Harry smiled, grateful for the elf's helpfulness.
Harry settled down into his armchair in the living room, and leaned back into the old pillows, breathing in the faint smell of dust. There were piles of books on the shelves in the room, and a small, weird clock above the fireplace.
"So Potter, what is there to do around here?" Asked a voice, and Draco walked in, looking around.
"Not much," Harry replied.
"In that case, I'll probably go out for a while," Draco said. "Want to come?"
"I don't leave the house," Harry said, laughing at himself slightly.
"Maybe you should," Draco told him, "I'm going to Diagon Alley, do you want to come or not?"
"I could do with some new stuff I guess," Harry sighed, "But, what if people see us together?"
"It's not like we're doing anything weird," Draco scoffed. "I'm going, whether you come with me or not," he laughed.
Harry sighed. It had been so long since he'd gone outside; perhaps he should. "Fine," he agreed eventually, "Let's go."
"Good to hear," Draco smirked, and stalked out of the room, "Hurry up, I've already got my jacket ready."
Harry dashed out of the room and found Draco in the hallway, pulling a smart jacket over his already formal clothes.
"Do you ever wear any normal clothes?" Harry asked as he pulled open the front door.
"Sometimes," Draco said. He reached out a grabbed Harry's elbow.
"What are you doing?" Harry asked curiously.
"I'm assuming you're still not great at apparation," Draco rolled his eyes and then he apparated them to Diagon Alley.