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It started with a spider.

In the middle of a supposedly normal Tuesday afternoon, with nothing but studying with Ron in the Library ahead of him, Harry was making his way back to the Eighth Year dorm to grab some extra parchment and a book he knew they’d need, perfectly relaxed and happy. Of course, he wasn’t particularly looking forward to the 12-inch essay he had to write for potions, but he was happy enough. For once, all he had to worry about was his school work. But little did he know, as always, that was all about to change. Why did nothing ever happen the way it was supposed to when it involved Draco Malfoy?!

He’d just got to the dorm, finding it empty aside from Malfoy studying on his bed silently, had given him a chin-jut of acknowledgment, and stuck his head in his trunk when it happened. All at once, a terrified shout hit the air, making Harry jump so badly he banged his head against the lid of his trunk in his haste to stand, draw his wand, and defend himself from an attack. 

As he readied himself for intruders, his eyes darted around the room, searching for signs of dark magic, for a dark mark, or for anything at all, finding to his surprise… Absolutely nothing; the dorm was just as empty as it had been a minute ago, the sun still streaming in through the windows, not blocked or shrouded by formidable cloaks, and no one was rushing to kill him. No, at first glance, it honestly looked like nothing had changed at all. 

Until he spotted Malfoy. 

For some inexplicable reason, the Slytherin was now stood on top of his pillows, stiff as a board, eyes wide and apparently focused on something that appeared to be at the foot of his bed.

“What is it?” Harry demanded, unable to relax just yet thanks to the adrenaline pumping through his veins. 

But Malfoy couldn’t talk. He was completely paralysed, barely breathing, eyes transfixed in horror at… Something. Moving forward and following the Slytherin’s gaze, Harry blinked in surprise as he caught sight of a spider, more or less the size of his hand, scuttling across Malfoy’s bedsheets. A noise that sounded suspiciously like a whimper emanated from the blond.

“Oh,” he murmured, relief flooding through him as he watched the creature struggling towards the edge of the bed. Before it could get there, Harry placed his hand on the bed, ready to catch the poor thing as Malfoy squirmed in horror.

“It’s just a spider, Malfoy,” he said, scooping it up and heading towards the window. Elbowing it open, he carefully watched as the spider attached itself to the wall, waiting until he knew it was safe, before closing the window.

“There, it’s gone,” he said offhandedly as he walked back to his trunk to resume his rummaging. 

But a few minutes later, when he’d finally unearthed the blasted book—how on earth had it fallen right to the very bottom of his trunk?—an uneasy feeling crept over him. It was too… Quiet… No longer could he hear the scratching of a quill, or the turning of pages from the other side of the room. In fact, he couldn’t hear any movement at all in the dorm, and at the very least Malfoy should have insulted him by now, surely! Since when was Draco Malfoy speechless? 

Closing his trunk, Harry glanced over at the Slytherin’s bed, shock running through him once more at the sight before him.

Malfoy hadn’t moved. At all. Just as before he was stood on his pillows, arms clutching the curtains and himself in a protective manner, taking short, jolty breaths, eyes wide as saucers and shining a bit too much in the sunlight…

“Er… Malfoy?” Harry asked, standing slowly. But the Slytherin gave no indication that he’d heard anything. 

“Malfoy,” he tried again, moving to stand at the bottom of the bed. The slightest blink of recognition passed over Malfoy’s face, but still he stared, transfixed in terror, at the end of his bed. 

“Malfoy, it’s gone,” Harry said, watching as the blond continued to breathe too fast. “You can sit down. It’s not on your bed anymore. I got rid of it.”

But though the Slytherin nodded slightly, he made no effort to move. Harry stared helplessly at him.

“Er—” he began, as panic started spiking through him. He’d never been good with people when they were upset, he was one of the most awkward people in the world! How the heck was he supposed to look after Malfoy of all people? Why couldn’t it have been someone else?! But as Malfoy’s eyes glimmered all the more, and he began chewing on the inside of his lip as if trying to gnaw a hole in his face, Harry wracked his brain, knowing he couldn’t leave Malfoy in this state.

“Er, l—look, Malfoy,” he stumbled over the words, moving to the side of his bed. “Try and sit down. Come on, just let go of the curtain, yeah, that’s it, and sit down on your bed. It’s okay, the spider isn’t there anymore, you can sit down, it’s safe. That’s it, just a bit more. Great!”

As he encouraged the Slytherin, slowly, ever so slowly, the blond descended towards his pillows, just as rigid as before, eyes never leaving the spot where the spider was last. Harry swallowed.

“Um… Are... Are you okay?” he asked, knowing full well it was a stupid question but hoping it would at least make the Slytherin insult him or something. At least then he’d know the bloke wasn’t going to burst into flames or disappear altogether, which he seemed perfectly capable of doing right them. 

But Malfoy simply nodded, swallowing hard, making no move to do anything else at all. Harry looked around desperately for inspiration.

“Do you… Do you want to talk?” he tried, desperately hoping that Malfoy would say no—it’s not like he would know what to say anyway! But he couldn’t just stand there looking like a prat… 

To Harry’s relief Malfoy shook his head, gulping again as he continued working on chewing a hole in his cheek, jaw trembling slightly every time he stopped. But moments later Harry realised that meant that he had to come up with another suggestion as to how to help, causing a violent wave of panic to surge through him.

Think, Harry, think! What would Ron and Hermione do? 

Suddenly a memory of his best friends talking him down after a nightmare during their seventh year sprang to mind. It had been a cold night in the tent, and the rain beating against the canvas—which was usually a soothing sound that eased him back to sleep—was doing nothing to calm his rattled nerves. But after a while of tossing, turning, and shaking, Hermione had appeared at his side, telling him to budge up. Together with a slightly bemused looking Ron, she had clambered into bed beside him, hugging him, telling him stories, making jokes, and squeezing him gently, Ron following suit, awkwardly at first, and then more naturally as the conversation flowed. Eventually, Harry had found his head too heavy to hold up, swaying onto Ron’s shoulder. He’d panicked briefly, the urge to sit up and apologise gripping him, but just as he’d gone to, his best friend’s arms had crept around him. As he’d paused, no longer certain of what to do, Hermione’s bushy hair had begun tickling his other cheek as she, too, had crept closer, reassuring him that this was allowed. Mere moments later, he’d been asleep. 

Never in his life had he felt so safe as he had right then, and ever since then, whenever he had a bad night for nightmares or insomnia, or Ron wasn’t feeling well, or Hermione was super stressed about work, they all ended up piled in one bed, holding each other through it all. Now, looking at the haunted man in front of him, Harry just knew a hug was exactly what was needed. Even if it did mean hugging Malfoy...

“Er, can… Can I sit down?” he asked tentatively. Malfoy nodded slightly.

“Thanks er… Is there… Can I get you anything?” He winced as he chickened out, images of Malfoy cursing him for going anywhere near him springing to mind. But Malfoy just shook his head, blinking rapidly as another breath jolted out of him. 

“Do you… Er… Malfoy?” he sucked in a deep breath, “Do you want a hug?” 

Harry’s heart hammered as his stomach swirled in a sickening fashion, barely daring to look at the blond beside him. Why were sentences like that so… cringey?! But to his surprise, as he waited for a fist to collide with him, Malfoy gave the tiniest of nods, eyes still rooted to the spot where the spider had been, glistening madly.

Stunned by the Slytherin’s answer, Harry paused for a moment, staring at the man in front of him. But then Malfoy’s lip trembled again, reminding him of the state he was in and jolting him into action. With his heart pounding in his chest, Harry gently moved closer until their knees were touching, pausing as Malfoy flinched slightly at the contact. But as the Slytherin made no move to push him away, Harry took a deep breath and slowly wound his arms around Malfoy’s thin frame, pulling him closer until his head was on Harry’s shoulder, and Harry’s arms were awkwardly encircling his back.

For what seemed like a century, but could only have been a few moments, Malfoy stayed rigid against him, boney shoulders poking awkwardly and uncomfortably into him as he trembled in Harry’s arms, and Harry found himself barely daring to breathe, sure that at any moment a fist would start pummelling his stomach, or a spell would catch him off guard. But suddenly, with one forceful, shaky exhale, Malfoy relaxed, hands clutching at him as if needing something solid to hold onto just to remain upright as another noise escaped him. This time there was no denying that Malfoy had whimpered.

“It’s okay,” Harry found himself saying stupidly, as adrenaline pumped through his veins once more. How could this be okay?! Malfoy—Draco Sodding Malfoy—was clinging to him like a koala bear, shaking with panic, and sniffling into his shoulder! This wasn’t anywhere near okay! This was flat out terrifying! But as the blond shivered and gasped for breath against him, Harry had to say something, had to try and pretend that at least one of them was kind of calm. 

So he kept repeating it, making sure his hold on the Slytherin was comfortable—or as comfortable as he could manage, anyway—and focused on taking deep, calm breaths, as Malfoy clung to him, shaking and gasping. 

Slowly, gradually, Malfoy’s tremors became less violent, his breaths more steady, and his whimpers less frequent. As Malfoy’s breath’s evened, Harry tried to relax too, willing his heart to finally slow down. But of course, it declined, continuing to jump erratically around in his chest as thoughts reminding him of exactly how absurd this situation was swirled in his head. Still his arms remained around the Slytherin, only moving to pull back several more minutes later when Malfoy’s fingers uncurled themselves from Harry’s robes.

Harry watched as Malfoy sheepishly readjusted on his bed, certain he shouldn’t be staring but completely at a loss as to where else to look as the Slytherin began staring avidly at his knees, sniffing to himself with a deep blush painting his cheeks. The silence between them was excruciating.

“Um…“ Harry started, cursing himself as the Slytherin flinched; his voice was far too loud in the quiet room. 

“Are you feeling better?” he asked, much more quietly.

For the first time that day, Malfoy looked at him properly, grey eyes fixing him with a piercing gaze. Well, it was clearly supposed to be piercing; unfortunately the watery redness of Malfoy’s eyes undermined the effect somewhat…

“I’m ready to dance for joy, Potter, what do you think?” he muttered. And despite the slight thickness to his voice, the acerbic tone still rang clear. Harry almost laughed out of pure relief.

“I’m not stopping you if you want to,” he said, certain Malfoy could dance far better than he could any day. But Malfoy just rolled his eyes slightly and turned back to staring, this time at the carpet, an air of utter gloom radiating off of him. Harry cursed silently, the pressure to just do something to make Malfoy feel better crushing him from all sides. Maybe Malfoy was right, maybe there was such a thing as being too much of a Gryffindor… Who knew he’d end up both agreeing with and comforting his arch-nemesis?

“Look, Malfoy,” he began, before suddenly realising he had no idea what to say and stopping short. 

“Er… You—Well… You’re probably horrified that you just, um, well, cried on me, and I get that! An—and for what it’s worth? I’m sorry. If it was embarrassing for you, I mean. I didn’t plan to be here. I’m not that cruel. But… But it’s done now, a—and,” he sighed, raking a hand through his hair, “Honestly I’m really bad at this, and I just wish I knew how to make things go back to normal. Things are weird now and I don’t like it. Is there… What can I do?” He finally finished, desperation seeping into his voice as he prayed for the ground to just swallow him whole. Slowly, the Slytherin raised an eyebrow at him.

“Great talk, Saviour, ” he scorned. “Learn how to sound like a buffoon fucking a Hippogriff at one of your precious press conferences, reassuring the world that everything’s going to be ‘ hunky dory ?” But though his tone was cutting, Malfoy’s eyes remained distinctly dull.

“Nope,” Harry smirked, unable to resist, “That was a lesson I got free from you over the years.”

The effect was instantaneous; in the blink of an eye, Malfoy was bright red, eyes alive with furious indignation as his whole body jerked towards him, practically vibrating with anger.

“How dare you?!” he screeched, drawing a snigger from Harry. 

“Yeah, that’s really helping to convince me that you don’t sound like a Hippogriff, Malfoy,” Harry laughed, as somehow the flush on Slytherin’s cheeks deepened. For a moment Malfoy’s mouth worked like a codfish, opening and closing without making a sound, but before long, a string of insults were hurtling towards Harry.

“You insolent cretin! You—you—you… Disgusting Hippogriff CUNT! You’re—you’re a turd! An imbecile! A fucking biggotted TWAT! I do NOT sound like that, and you KNOW IT!

But for once, instead of being angered or insulted, Harry found himself shaking with laughter, full guffaws bursting from his lips as Malfoy’s tirade continued, gaining speed and momentum as Harry laughed in his face. 

“You kneazle shit! You utter donkey testicle wanker!” he squawked as Harry rocked backwards and forwards, still cackling. “You’re a bastard! An utter, sodding, manky dick, Pott—WHY WON’T YOU STOP LAUGHING?!”

Try as he might—which, to be honest, wasn’t very hard—Harry couldn’t help but keep howling with laughter. If anything, with each curse thrown his way, he only laughed harder, Malfoy’s inventive insults and indignant expression a seemingly endless amusement to him. Yet as the bed continued to shake and Harry lapsed into silent giggles, clutching his stomach, little by little a spark of amusement flickered in the Slytherin’s eyes, then his mouth quirked at the edges, and then finally, he too was laughing—far more quietly of course, and still scowling petulantly at points, trying to regain some composure—but laughing all the same.

“Oh man,” Harry laughed in between gasps for breath; “That was just too perfect! I just had to say it!” And with that, he immediately dissolved into fresh gibbers.

“Shut up, Potter,” Malfoy snapped, who had failed to stop his lips from stretching into a sheepish grin despite truly valiant efforts, shoulders still shaking with the occasional silent chuckle of his own. Through a final few more hoots of laughter and pants for breath, Harry drank in the sight of the blond’s pink cheeks, the happy shimmer in his eyes, and the smile he couldn’t hide. Satisfaction spread through his chest.

“Admit it, Malfoy,” he smiled lazily as grey eyes met his gaze, “It cheered you up.” And predictably, once again, the blond scowled.

“I’ll admit nothing of the sort!” he snipped, outraged as always yet still unable to stop his lips from twitching upwards as Harry snorted again. But not a moment later, though a hint of a smile remained on the Slytherin’s face, Harry watched as Malfoy’s eyes lost their spark, recent events obviously flooding back to him. Immediately Harry’s gut twisted.

“Er, fancy something to eat?” he blurted in a desperate attempt to keep the atmosphere light. Malfoy blinked, frowning at him once more.

“Lunch doesn’t start for another hour, idiot.” Malfoy murmured, tiredness drowning his brave attempt to be scathing. 

“I wasn’t talking about lunch, asshole ,” Harry fired back, earning himself a confused scowl. It was worth it though; a spark of interest ignited in Malfoy’s eyes once again. 

“What then?” the blond asked. Harry merely smirked.

“You’ll just have to come with me and find out.”

Chapter Text

Harry had barely moved towards the door when, as he’d hoped, Malfoy gave a dramatic sigh and stomped after him. And even though the idiot then shoved him to the side with one of his ridiculously pointy shoulders, making him yell indignantly, as they began to make their way through the castle, warm satisfaction curled through Harry’s stomach. 

“Take that look off your face, scarhead,” Malfoy grumbled, breaking the almost companionable silence as they descended the first of many sets of stairs. 

“What look?!” Harry asked defensively. 

“You know which one, Potter!” Malfoy squinted condescendingly. “The smug smirk! It’s annoying!” 

“I’m not smirking!” he exclaimed automatically. 

“Yes you are Potter! And I told you, it’s annoying! So cut it out!” 

“That’s rich coming from you!” Harry retorted. 

“Oh bite me, Potter,” the git snapped, stubbornly scowling at the floor.  

“And have to listen to you complain for three months because of a tiny scratch, just like you did in third year? I think not!” Harry thought. Yet just as he turned to the pillock to say so, the sight of the Slytherin made him pause. 

Sure, Malfoy’s shoulders were squared haughtily… and there was a distinct air of superiority surrounding him, just like always… But... It was… Fake, somehow. Too… Weak. Just… A show. A mask. 

And, now that he thought about it… Any other time, an aura of disdain and pride would be suffocating absolutely everyone within a foot of the Slytherin, whilst insults jumped from his tongue faster than the snitch could fly from a referee’s hand. But now? Now Malfoy was simply following him through the castle. Silently. Staring at the floor. No matter how fun it might have been to tease the drama queen, Harry just couldn’t. Not while he was obviously struggling. 

Fortunately, the kitchens weren’t too far away anymore; after a mere few more minutes of silent travel, Harry found himself counting down the paintings until they reached the right one. As Harry stopped in front of it, he couldn't stop the chuckle that bubbled immediately in his throat as Malfoy, too lost in his own thoughts, didn't realise Harry had stopped, and carried on walking.

“Where the hell are we, Potter?” Malfoy demanded, quickly walking back to him as he eyed the unfamiliar corridor. 

“Hogwarts,” Harry grinned, then sniggered at the venomous glare that was just slightly too tired to be up to Malfoy’s usual standard. 

“You’ll see in a second, Malfoy,” he placated. “Now. Tickle the pear.”

For a moment Malfoy just looked repeatedly between him and the painting, utterly bemused and outraged.

“What?!” he eventually spluttered. Harry bit back a smile.

“Tickle the pear!” he repeated, nodding to it.

“But—but why?!”

“Because I said so and you’re curious—just do it, you git!” He chuckled, exasperated. Honestly, the idiot had to make such a simple thing so complicated!

But finally, as Harry raised his eyebrows as if to say ‘ what are you waiting for?’, and with another mistrustful frown, Malfoy tentatively reached towards the pear, gingerly rubbing the tip of his finger against it. 

“It’s not going to bite you, Malfoy!” Harry laughed, wondering if his pathetic stroke would even count as a tickle. The words had barely left his mouth, however, when the pear sprang to life, giggling once before transforming into a door handle. To Harry's delight, the Slytherin jumped back in surprise before quickly running his hands through his hair and straightening his clothes. 

‘Why does he bother pretending he’s unflappable?! He jumps when someone sneezes too loud!’ Harry thought as he rolled his eyes. Still, with tea and goodies waiting, and a struggling Malfoy to deal with, Harry grabbed the handle and breezed into the room before the Slytherin had even realised his jaw was on the floor. The immediate chorus of “Hello Harry Potter!” from House Elves covered in various amounts of flour, jam, and butter surging to greet him, never failed to stir the heavy ache of grief in his chest; no matter how amazing the kitchens were, they just weren’t the same without Dobby.

“Hey guys,” he greeted, pulling the best smile he could muster onto his face. “Is there any chance I could grab some treacle tart for me and— uh…“ he looked back at Malfoy, who was still rooted to the spot at the door with utter shell-shock  written on his face. “My classmate?”

And though a few of the elves paused or blinked in surprise as they took in the tense figure that was Malfoy, as always, an overwhelming chorus of ‘Of course, sir!’ almost deafened him. In less than a second, a flurry of long feet and flapping ears were hurrying to workbenches and cupboards, eager to fill the order as fast as elvenly possible, and suddenly it wasn’t so hard to smile anymore. After watching fondly for a brief second, Harry turned back to the door.

“Come on, Malfoy,” he said. “They won’t bite.”

“I know that, Potter,” the Slytherin scowled at him immediately, before resuming watching the elves. “I just… Didn’t know this place existed, that’s all.”

“I didn’t until Fourth Year; Hermione found them and showed me and Ron.” Harry shrugged, moving to close the door to force Malfoy into the room.

“But… How did I not know about it? Why didn’t my father mention it?” Malfoy asked, slowly crossing the threshold and standing awkwardly to the side.

“Because this place is reserved for the cool kids,” Harry quipped immediately, not bothering to wait for Malfoy’s inevitable glare before making his way to one of the tables where a pot of hot water, mugs, teabags, milk, and sugar had appeared. “Want some tea?”

Aside from the sounds of elves chattering, however, silence was the only answer he got. Looking over his shoulder, Harry was met by narrowed eyes and knit eyebrows.

“What?” he raised an eyebrow. Malfoy blinked once, twice, and shook his head slightly as though dismissing his thoughts.

“‘What’ yourself, Potter. I’d be surprised if you can actually make a decent cup of tea,” the prick muttered, finally deciding to sit across from him at the table. And whether he was having a bad day or not, he was bloody lucky Harry didn’t throw a mug of water over him right there and then. Cheeky bastard.

“Do you have sugar?” he asked, watching in amusement as Malfoy drank in everything in sight with a wary expression disguised as a petulant frown. In answer, the Slytherin glowered at him again.

“Why would I have sugar on me, Potter?”

“No, Malfoy, I meant—”

“Do you expect people to walk around with cubes of sugar in their pockets?!”

“Of course not, Malfoy, I was aski—” 

“—Why don’t you ask the elves, Potter? They have to have some. How could we be in the kitchen of Hogwarts and there not be sugar?!—”


“In fact, I can literally see it from here! It's in the pot labelled sugar over there, you ignorant imbecile!”

“I meant do you have sugar in your tea, you fucking asshole!” 

The slam of the teaspoon on the table clanged between them as Harry's amusement swayed dangerously towards frustration. Even when he wasn’t his normal self he could still be bloody irritating, with his snooty glare and his haughty voice! But though the Slytherin jumped slightly at the noise, and paused for a second, before Harry could take another breath he was spouting nonsense again.

“Well then, you should have asked "Do you take sugar?" Potter, shouldn’t you? Honestly, were you raised in a barn?!”

And just like that, everything was normal again. Malfoy was back to being a fucking prick and Harry was ready to punch him. The idiot had no idea how lucky he was that Harry wouldn’t do anything to upset the elves. Honestly, he liked the bastard a lot more when he was quiet and sulky… 

“Fuck you, Malfoy. Make your own tea.” he spat, flopping into the space opposite Malfoy and staring at the closest House Elf, who was levitating a pan of mince so large it could crush three first years at once. Honestly, what was he even doing here anyway?! Why the hell did he insist on being such a righteous bloody Gryffindor if this was all the thanks he got? It’s not like Malfoy had made any effort to thank him at all for calming him down in the dorms—or for anything at all , for that matter! And yet, once again, here he was! Dropping everything just because the bloody git looked like he had a hair out of place! He didn’t even really know what was wrong! Sure, the spider had made him panic, but what the hell else had happened to make him so… So! WHY did he even CARE?! He should just leave. Forget the git and go. But he bloody well deserved that treacle tart now! 

He’d just broodily turned his attention to six elves all standing on top of one another to reach the top of the pan to season a stew, when a voice opposite him interrupted the thick silence. 

“No need to be so angry, Potter…” he muttered quietly, actually having the nerve to sound offended. Harry’s eyes narrowed to slits. 

“No need to be such a colossal dick , Malfoy.” he snarled. But as he held the wanker’s gaze, anger pulsing through him, the single spark of something normal in the Slytherin’s eyes extinguished and his entire body deflated. His shoulders dropped, his air of superiority vanished, and the exhaustion that seemed to weigh him down earlier appeared to seep into his very being. So, despite the fact that less than two seconds ago it felt like steam was coming out of his ears, Harry sighed, frustration dampening slightly.

“Look, Malfoy, I—”

“Treacle tarts, sirs!” A voice squeaked to Harry’s left. There, balancing two very generous portions of dessert, was a very flour-y elf, grinning from ear to ear, and clad in an old quidditch jersey. As Malfoy’s gaze dropped to the table, Harry forced another smile.

“Thank you very much,” he took the plates from her, nudging one closer to Malfoy. “What’s your name?”

“Hinky, sir!” the elf beamed.

“Nice to meet you, Hinky. And call me Harry.” Hinky squeaked in response.

“Thanks you Harry! Enjoys Harry!”

“I will, thank you,” he smiled. And with a final radiant smile, Hinky skipped back to her work, leaving room for the awkwardness to suffocate them once more. Staring at his tart, Harry sighed.



Once again, Harry’s head snapped up, blinking dumbly as Malfoy continued to stare at the table.

“Wha—er, I mean… Nevermind.” Harry caught himself and his stupid run-away tongue, certain Malfoy wouldn’t appreciate that particular response. But the Slytherin just gave a small, almost defeated sigh, eyes flitting from the table to the direction of the door, as if debating whether he should just leave. Harry paused, images of the terrified bloke he’d met in the dorms circling in his mind again. He took a deep breath.

“Do you take one sugar or two, Malfoy?” he asked quietly. 

Eyes flashed to his, shock, confusion, and hope glimmering wildly in them for just a second before they flicked away, resuming their watch of the table. Harry waited, watching the blond swallow slowly, before quietly murmuring “two”. With a long, calming exhale, Harry nodded, standing once more to dutifully add the required amount to Malfoy’s mug, then filling them both with water and leaving them to steep. Malfoy’s eyes followed his movements silently, before lingering on the plate beside him.

“Eat your tart,” Harry murmured, poking a fork towards the blond. And after a short pause, he gave a small nod, watching Harry once more when he returned to preparing the tea. 

“There, now you can judge if I can make a “decent cup of tea”, Malfoy,” he said, eyebrow raised slightly as he slid the mug across the table. The slight flush that coloured the Slytherin’s cheeks tugged his lips into a smirk. Which, of course, turned into a snicker when Malfoy noticed and scowled in response.

“Eat your tart, Potter,” he grumbled, stabbing his own dessert with a little more force than was strictly necessary. Harry just sniggered once more, eagerly digging into the glorious slice of heaven that was treacle tart.

Initially it was easy, just letting morsel after morsel of delicious food dissolve on his tongue as elves bustled around them, humming, chopping, and chattering around them. But as the pieces on their plates rapidly declined in size, and Malfoy seemed to get drawn into his own world once more, the silence rapidly became awkward. Soon enough, no matter how hard he tried to ignore it, Harry couldn’t help but wonder what was really going on with the Slytherin. Not that Malfoy would ever tell him, even if he was stupid enough to ask…

“Stop staring at me, Potter,” Malfoy ordered, eyes still firmly on his plate. 

“Wha—er—sorry,” Harry felt his cheeks burn as he realised, he had indeed, been staring at the bloke, who was now gently placing his fork on his plate. After chasing the final few crumbs around his own plate, Harry sighed, unable to ignore the weight of the crushing silence anymore.

“Do you, erm, do you want some more?” he blurted, already looking around for Hinky again, just in case. But Malfoy shook his head.

“No, I should probably get back to work…” he murmured, a definite tone of defeat seeping into his words. 

“So even treacle tart isn’t enough to help, apparently…” Harry thought to himself, his stomach sinking. 

Maybe he’s just tired from all the work?” Harry mused half-heartedly, sure that Draco-almost-top-of-the-class-Malfoy would barely struggle at all with the almost impossible workload Eighth Year came burdened with. “ Both Ron and I have got a—oh —”

“—Shit! he exclaimed much louder than anticipated. So loud, in fact, that several elves squeaked, dropping whatever they were carrying, and Malfoy jumped so high he left his seat.

“Oops,” he winced, glancing around to check the extent of the damage. Fortunately no-one seemed hurt (though Malfoy’s pride was definitely bruised), and all the food was still safely in pots. Thank god for small mercies!

“Sorry guys!” he called, waving apologetically. Then, groaning to himself as he buried his head in his hands, “Ron’s going to kill me…”

He could practically hear Malfoy frown as he tried to smooth his hair back into place.


“Because,” he sighed heavily, blearily meeting the Slytherin’s gaze. “I was supposed to meet him in the library about… an hour and a half ago.” 

“Oh…” understanding dawned on the blond’s face, quickly followed by a mixed flurry of emotions.

“Well, go find your Weasel,” he said, squaring his shoulders before Harry could begin to decipher them. “I don’t know why you’re here anyway…”

Immediately frustration spiralled through Harry once more. From anyone else those words would have made him feel sympathy, or compassion, or, frankly, anything nice. But from him? In that snobby, dismissive tone? It just made him want to hex the prick. He just sounded so ungrateful! So superior! As if he hadn’t sobbed into Harry’s shoulder over a fucking spider just a few hours ago! Yet as Harry glared daggers at him, jaw set, already standing up and vowing to never spare the pillock a second thought again, the Slytherin muttered something incomprehensible.

“What was that, Malfoy?” Harry demanded, not caring how harsh it sounded. The blond gritted his teeth, scowling at him.

“Well I said , ‘but thanks’, Potter,” Malfoy spat venomously. “Which you would have heard if you weren’t such a thick oaf running off to see that prat of yours!” But despite the heat behind his words, the Slytherin’s cheeks pinkened once again, and Harry could only stand and stare for a second. It was only the narrowing of Malfoy’s eyes that shook him from his stupor. 

“Oh. I—I mean… You’re welcome, Malfoy… Anytime…” 

The Slytherin raised an eyebrow once more.

“Anytime?” he repeated dubiously, looking at Harry as though he had three heads. But as a sudden idea hit him, all thoughts of forgetting the twat forever disappeared entirely, and Harry stood straighter, smirking slightly as he approached his old nemesis. 

“Yeah, anytime Malfoy,” he repeated, stubbornly holding the Slytherin’s confused gaze. “You understand what the word means, right?” he teased, relishing the warm glow of satisfaction as confusion hardened to annoyance in seconds.

“Of course I do, Potter! I’m not stupid, unlike you!”

“Good. So, anytime Malfoy,” he repeated, before leaning in slightly, and offering his old enemy his hand. 

“Alright?” he challenged.

As Malfoy stared in disbelief between his hand and his face, analysing every inch of his expression for any signs of deception or madness, Harry just waited, cocky smile still in place, for the Slytherin to take his hand. Only a few moments later, pale, cool fingers gripped his. An equally self-assured look was resting on the Slytherin’s face, desperately trying to hide the fact that Malfoy’s obvious bewilderment. 

“Good,” Harry smiled, shaking Malfoy’s hand firmly a few times before loosening his grip. “New year, new start, right?” 

“Evidently not for your hair, Potter,” Malfoy quipped, quickly dropping Harry’s hand and straightening his already perfect tie. But as Harry laughed quietly, the prat visibly relaxed.

“Oh fuck off, Malfoy,” he smiled, rolling his eyes. “Besides, you love my hair.”

“I—” Malfoy squawked and spluttered indignantly, making Harry laugh again. 

“I do not!” he insisted, cheeks turning an incredible flamingo pink. “And I don’t think I’m the one that needs to fuck off, Potter, given that you’re over an hour and half late for your weasel?”

“Oh fuck! Okay, I need to go. See you later, Malfoy!” he said quickly, turning to sprint out of the kitchens, only pausing at the door.

“Thanks everyone! The tart was lovely!” he called, waving to the elves and smiling through the anticipated babble of ‘you’s welcome, Harry!’ before ducking out of the room, leaving a thoroughly ruffled, but still cocky Malfoy behind. 

And though he was still a prick, and though he still had no idea what was actually going on with the git, Harry really did hope that the git would ask someone—even if it was him—for help in the future. It hadn’t been the worst way to kill a couple of hours, he supposed. 

Still, he wasn’t quite expecting how quickly things changed between them…