Harry hadn’t seen Malfoy since dinner the previous night. That wasn’t to say that he missed him, far from it actually, but it was suspicious to say the least. Malfoy’s cronies, on the other hand, were very much there and, to make things even odder, seemed to be very much avoiding any kind of confrontation. If Harry didn’t know any better, he’d even say they looked worried. Scared. Except what could they be worried about? The Death Eaters arrested in the Ministry would be out and about in no time, with the Dementors gone.
Harry shook his head, and himself out his brooding, averting his gaze from the Slytherin table, just in time to see McGonagall walking up to him.
“Ahh, Potter,” she said, “Please come to my office once you’re done.”
Harry frowned. Why, he wanted to ask, did something happen? But before he got the chance, she was already gone.
“I’m glad she’s okay,” Hermione commented, looking after their Head of House, “Four Stunners…it could have killed her.”
“Yeah, but it didn’t,” said Ron through a mouthful of cake, completely oblivious to the outraged and disgusted look Hermione gave him.
“I wonder what she wants.”
“I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.”
After dinner, he went to McGonagall’s office while Hermione and Ron returned to the Gryffindor Tower, and the closer Harry got, the more anxious he felt.
What if something happened to Sirius? Or Remus?
What if she wants me to go back to the Dursleys after all?
What if –
Harry pushed open the door and entered the office, swallowing his nerves.
“Nothing bad happened,” McGonagall said as soon as Harry had closed the door and Harry relaxed, “However, there has been a recent development that we feel you should know about before you return home tomorrow.”
Home. He still wasn’t completely used to thinking of the small Soho flat as home.
“What is it, professor?”
“Well –” McGonagall took a deep breath, leaning back in her chair and considering him for a moment. “Well,” she said again, “You will be having a guest.”
“A guest? What kind of guest?”
“The son of a Death Eater will be staying with you for the duration of the summer.” A what now? “He has defected from his family with a great risk to himself and needed protection which your guardians have provided. I expect you to treat him with, if not hospitality, at least not hostility.”
Harry blinked, processing the words. “Yes, of course, professor,” he answered, “But, who –”
“Tomorrow, Harry,” McGonagall cut him off, “Tomorrow you will take the train back to London, Sirius and Remus will pick you up, and they will explain everything.”
“I also ask you not to mention this to anyone, that includes Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger.”
He didn’t get it. Not really. But, he supposed, he probably would, come tomorrow.
As long as it’s not Malfoy, he thought on his way back to the Common Room, making himself laugh. Right, as if Malfoy would ever turn his back on his parents.
“Say that again?”
“Harry, making me say it five times won’t change the fact that Draco Malfoy is, for all intents and purposes, a traitor, and currently waiting back at flat for our return.”
Harry’s head was reeling, and he wondered if maybe this was all just a dream. A horrible, terrible dream.
He’d been looking forward to this summer. For three years he had dreaded returning to England for the two months between terms but now…now he had a family.
And Malfoy is destroying everything, like always…
“Look,” Sirius said. He, Remus and Harry were sitting in the car just outside King’s Cross Station and Sirius had, indeed, told Harry five times in a row just who exactly would be staying with them. Harry still didn’t believe it. “I know you two don’t like each other.” Harry scoffed. Not liking each other was putting it mildly. “But,” his godfather continued, “Returning to his family would have put him in danger.”
“Okay, I get that.” And he did. Kind of. “But why us?”
“Because he trusts us, Harry,” Remus answered.
“Please,” Sirius said softly, “I’m not asking you to be his best friend, just be civil.”
“I’ll be civil if he is.”
Sirius nodded, apparently accepting that as all he’d get at the moment
They arrived home not fifteen minutes later, and Sirius parked the car in front of the house. There was a cafe underneath their flat that had the best pastries and made good coffee, owned by a sweet, old lady who had taken to giving Harry free lunch whenever he came by, across the road was a small record store, a Spar, and another café.
When Harry pushed the door to the flat open, he distantly realised he was holding his breath. Behind him, Remus and Sirius did the same.
Malfoy was there, alright, standing by the bookshelf a copy of The Hobbit in his hand, freezing when he saw them. For a moment they stared at each other, Harry and Malfoy, green eyes meeting grey.
And they waited.
“Potter.” Slowly, Malfoy put the book back on the shelf.
Behind Harry, Remus and Sirius let out a breath of relief.
The tension was still there but slowly draining as Harry entered the flat, hauling his trunk to his room to unpack, noting the third door that definitely hadn’t been there before.
Malfoy’s room, then, he thought.
Sirius had said that they had added to the flat, ‘tinkering’ he’d called it, and despite the situation, Harry couldn’t help but be impressed and excited.
“Tea, Harry?” Remus called from the kitchen.
“Sure.” The teenager started putting some of his clothes from his trunk into his wardrobe, picking up loose parchments and quills to hide them in the top drawer of his desk, the place where all that went which didn’t have a proper place. Hedwig, he noticed, wasn’t there yet. He’d let her fly back in her own time, allowing her to stretch her wings, but he was sure she’d be there by tomorrow morning, probably just in time to steal the breakfast from Elvendork, Remus’ and Sirius’ owl.
Once most of the contents of his trunk were strewn across his bed and floor, Harry left his room. He’d deal with the rest later.
Malfoy was still there, sitting at the table, a cup of tea in front of him. Purposefully, Harry chose the chair furthest away from the Slytherin, not missing his eyeroll but deciding to ignore it. For now anyway.
They sat in silence, everyone sipping their tea, everyone trying to make as little noise as possible, lest the storm break out.
It was Sirius who spoke up first. “Well,” he said, “This is awkward.”
“You’re the one who said we didn’t have to be friends.”
“Yeah, and I already regret that.” There was certain dry note to Sirius’ voice that told Harry he was joking, but just barely.
Clunk. Malfoy abruptly set down his cup, harder than strictly necessary, and stood up. Harry tensed as the blond rounded the table, half convinced he’d go into his room but no, he came right for Harry, who already started going through all the best defensive spells he knew. Malfoy – stretched out his hand?
They’d been eleven, gullible and foolish, eyeing each other with suspicion and mistrust, and Harry had declined the handshake.
They were fifteen, a little damaged and a little broken, still eyeing each other with suspicion and mistrust, but this time, Harry took the hand that was offered to him.
It was a start, if nothing else.
The first week was quiet. Harry barely saw Malfoy, who had apparently decided to stay in his room at all times except for meals. Harry was very okay with that. Remus and Sirius, it seemed, were not. Harry could see them cast concerned looks at the closed door and each other, exchanging hushed words when Harry was out of earshot. Apart from that, everything was surprisingly normal. Harry and Remus cooked together, both adults helped him with his homework, and he and Sirius spent time in Muggle London. It was blissful, in a way. Harry was able to forget, for just a moment or two, the looming threat of Voldemort, who was out there, plotting and scheming, surrounding himself with followers. Forget the war that was coming for them.
They were sitting in a café in Camden Town – near where Sirius and Remus used to live, Sirius had said – looking out the window at all the people passing by, when Sirius let out a low bark of a laugh.
Instead of answering, Sirius simply pushed the receipt over to Harry, grinning widely, “Looks like you have an admirer,” he said with a wink.
Harry frowned at piece of paper he had received at the till and, sure enough, there were digits written in blue ink and a name – Dustin. Ignoring his godfather’s antics, Harry looked at the boy behind the till. He was tall, with short brown hair and blue eyes, blue eyes that were trained on him. He winked. Blushing, Harry quickly averted his gaze and looked at Sirius who was still grinning.
“You should call him,” Sirius teased, “He’s cute.”
“I’m not –” What? What wasn’t he? Interested? Gay? Harry didn’t even know, he’d been too preoccupied with not dying the past few years to even spare a thought to those things. “I’m not,” he said again, leaving it at that and hoping that Sirius would too.
“It’s okay if you are,” Sirius said softly, no longer grinning but smiling, a gentle, genuine expression on his face.
I know, Harry wanted to say, I live with you and Remus, but the words wouldn’t come. Instead Harry simply nodded and looked back out of the window, suddenly wishing he could be anywhere but here.
They finished their coffees in silence and when they left, Harry glanced back at Dustin one last time, the receipt with the number burning a hole into his pocket.
When they got back, Remus was standing in the kitchen preparing dinner. Sirius had told him that the two of them were going out – date-night, he’d said – which meant Harry had to survive the evening alone. With Malfoy. The blond was nowhere to be seen but his door was closed which meant he was probably hiding in there, like always.
“How was your day?” the Werewolf asked, stirring the pasta sauce.
Sirius went up to his partner and pressed a kiss to his cheek. “Very nice,” he answered, “Harry got hit on by a boy.”
“Did he, now?” Remus turned to look at Harry, an amused glint in his eyes.
Feeling inexplicably irritated, Harry glared at his godfather. “Shut up,” he snapped, walking past the two adults to go to his room.
“What?” Sirius called after him, “He was cute!” Harry shut the door without replying but he could still hear his guardians’ hushed voices. “He was,” Sirius said.
“You shouldn’t tease him about this.”
“Come on, Moony –”
Harry waved his hand at the door and shut out the sounds. He didn’t know why this affected him so much. It was just a phone number from a random guy in a coffee shop and yet…it wasn’t.
“Urgh.” Groaning, the teenager let himself fall onto his bed, staring at the ceiling.
It just wasn’t fair. None of this was fair. Why couldn’t he be normal, just once?
Harry had no idea how long he stayed like that. Five minutes? Ten minutes? An hour? All he knew was that his brooding was rudely interrupted by a gentle knock on the door. With another wave of his hand, it opened, revealing Remus on the other side
“May I come in?” Harry shrugged but sat up, leaning back against the headboard while Remus entered the room sitting down on the foot of the bed. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Harry shook his head. No.
“Okay.” Remus smiled faintly at him. “Sirius and I will be going out soon,” he said, “Dinner is ready for when you’re hungry. If anything happens, send a Patronus, and Sirius is taking the mirror with him.”
“Okay,” Harry said, almost expecting Remus to start talking about what had happened earlier, maybe repeat Sirius’ words – it’s okay if you are – but he didn’t. Instead, Remus gave Harry’s leg a gentle squeeze and stood up, turning to leave, but before he did, he gave Harry a contemplative look.
“You should give Draco a chance, you know.” Harry frowned but remained silent. “He doesn’t have it easy at the moment.”
Neither do I, Harry thought.
“Have fun on your date,” he said, doing his best to pretend like he hadn’t heard that last part.
Remus rolled his eyes and smiled again but despite that, he looked tired. Resigned. And somehow, inexplicably, sad.
Harry waited until he was sure they were gone. Malfoy’s door was still shut.
They’d bought a phone during the last summer. Harry couldn’t have his friends over, not even Ron and Hermione knew where he lived now, but at least this way he could talk to them if he wanted, hear their voices. Well…Hermione’s voice, anyway. Ron still hadn’t fully grasped the concept of a telephone.
Should I call him?
Do I want to call him?
Would he even want me to?
Harry’s mind was buzzing with questions. Questions he couldn’t answer. Questions he had never even bothered with before. It was confusing.
What’s the worst that can happen? Harry thought and picked up the receiver, dialling the number Dustin had given him, listening for the beeping that would tell him the call was connecting, but before it even had the chance to do so, Harry slammed the receiver back down.
What am I doing? He thought frantically. What if this is a trick?
Which was ridiculous, of course. Sending a random guy to seduce him? Even Harry could recognize that that was more than unlikely.
“I’m an idiot.”
Harry jumped at the voice. He hadn’t noticed Malfoy standing in the door to his room, watching him, looking more casual than Harry had ever seen him. His hair was rumpled and he was wearing Muggle clothes.
“What are you doing here?” Harry asked sharply, stepping away from the phone and shoving the receipt back into his pocket.
Malfoy arched a perfectly plucked eyebrow at him. “I live here now, Potter, in case you hadn’t noticed, yet.”
“Could have fooled me. You barely come out of that room.”
“Why, if you wanted to spent time with me, you should have said so.”
“Keep dreaming, Malfoy.”
They scowled at each other, Harry feeling weirdly off-centre as if he’d been caught doing something forbidden, and Malfoy looking as if he was ready to murder someone. Probably Harry. And this was usually the part where their wands came out, the part where they started shooting spells and hexes at each other, the part where Hermione would tell him to leave it, Harry, he’s not worth it. Except Hermione wasn’t here.
“Go on,” Malfoy said, “Hex me. I won’t stop you.”
What? “Why not?” Harry demanded.
Malfoy scoffed and turned towards the kitchen, his back to Harry which, for some reason, made him even angrier.
Face me you coward, he wanted to say, you never miss an opportunity to fight me, so why start now?
“Because your godfather and his boyfriend would throw me out if I did,” Malfoy spat out. “They took me in because of some disgusting, misguided Gryffindor nobility but that doesn’t mean they won’t change their mind if something happens to you.”
“Then why are you here if you don’t even want to be?”
Malfoy snapped around, an unreadable expression on his face, his eyes wide and wild. “Because my options are abysmally low. Because I marked myself a traitor the second I entered this house. Because my father would quite literally kill me if I left now. Because, Potter, I don’t have a choice.”
“It was your choice to come here,” Harry shot back, trying not to think about the meaning behind Malfoy’s words.
“I don’t have to explain myself to you.” Malfoy was turning his back again, the lack of confrontation sparking something in Harry that went beyond simple anger, beyond simple hatred, something deep and dark and twisted. The last time he’d done accidental Magic had been the summer before third year when he’d blown up aunt Marge, since then he’d worked on controlling his emotions with Sirius and Remus. Slow, painful hours in which he had learned how to overcome the anger that lurked inside of him.
“Imagine your mind like a corridor,” Remus had said, “There are many rooms and each room has a purpose. Some of them hold memories. Some hold knowledge. Some hold feelings. You have control over which doors to open and which to close.”
Right now, all the doors were wide, wide open.
“What the fuck, Potter?!”
Harry blinked. The lightbulbs had exploded, covering the floor with a glittering shower of a million tiny glass shards. The chairs and the table were lying upside down all around the room. And Malfoy was slumped against the wall. Bleeding.
Harry rushed forward, an apology already on his lips, his hand stretched out to help the blond but Malfoy slapped it away.
“Don’t touch me,” he hissed, trying to get back on his feet. His arm was covered in scratches, wood and glass splinters piercing the skin.
“Let me help.”
“Yes, please, I can –”
“What could you possibly do that –”
Ignoring Malfoy’s protest, Harry grabbed the arm and imagined pushing the splinters out, out, out, away from the skin, imagined the wounds closing up. It wasn’t perfect. Harry could still see where the deepest of the cuts were, could see the parts he had missed, could see a bit of blood still trickling down Malfoy’s arm from a wound at his shoulder. It wasn’t perfect, but it would have to do.
He looked up. Malfoy was staring at him with wide eyes, his mouth gaping.
“What?” It was a stupid question, he knew, but he wasn’t sure what else to say. How could he begin to explain and apologise for this?
“Potter,” Malfoy ground out, “You just performed non-verbal, wandless magic.”
“Yeah. I know. So?”
“So?” Malfoy repeated, his voice high-pitched and bordering on panicked, “So, apart from the fact that you should not be able to do that, it is also against the law.”
“What do you care if I break the law?” Harry snapped, immediately regretting it when Malfoy’s face closed off.
“I don’t,” he answered, “I do, however, care about being found. If a group of Ministry officials knock on that door, they will find me here, which means my father will find me.”
“They won’t.” Harry stood back up, eyeing the damage he had done. “The Trace doesn’t work here.”
“I don’t – Remus explained it to me but I didn’t really understand it. Something about interfering magic and wards and unplottable. Anyway, the most the Ministry could do is detect underage magic in the general vicinity of London.”
“Right.” Harry dared a glance at Malfoy who had managed to stand up again, a deep frown on his face. “So, care to explain?”
Some part of Harry wanted to say that he didn’t owe him an explanation, he didn’t owe him anything, except…he kind of did.
Running his hand though his hair, Harry set to repairing the lightbulbs and furniture, and said, “When my dad and Remus and Sirius were in third year,” he began, sitting down on one of the newly repaired chairs, “They began going through the books in the Restricted Section of the library, reading books on really advanced stuff. Really old stuff, too. Loads of theory. Apparently, before the Ministry existed, Magic was taught differently. Now it’s all…it’s all very specific spells for very specific things because the Ministry put restrictions on it, laws to control Magic and stuff.” Harry wet his lips, looking at Malfoy who had sat down as well, tracing his closed-up wounds with his fingers. “But it’s not about the spells, it’s about the intentions,” Harry went on, quoting what Sirius had told him, “They started making their own spells, experimented with ones they already knew.”
“At thirteen?” Malfoy cut in, sounding incredulous.
“Yeah. They were geniuses.” Even if he had wanted to, Harry wouldn’t have been able to keep the pride out of his voice because my dad was one of them.
“As enlightening as this history lesson is,” Malfoy drawled, sounding more like himself than he had all night, “I fail to see how it relates to you doing magic way over your skillset.”
Harry scowled but answered, “When I was training for the last Task in fourth year, Sirius and Remus taught me some stuff we’d never learn in school. Afterwards, when Voldemort was back, they kept teaching me. Non-verbal magic. Wandless magic. Occlumency. Some of the things they found out and invented.”
Malfoy was quiet. A bot too quiet, for Harry’s liking. His face was perfectly blank, not betraying a single thought he might have as he looked at Harry, not blinking.
“What?” Harry asked eventually, slightly unsettled by the intensity of the grey eyes.
“I admit I’m impressed,” Malfoy answered, not sounding impressed at all, “I didn’t think you’d have it in you to move beyond mediocrity.”
“You know nothing about me, Malfoy.”
The mask broke, just for a second. “I know.” Was that sadness in his eyes? Bitterness in his voice? Regret in the curl of his lips? But before Harry could ask or even think about any if it further, it was gone, replaced by the familiar sneer. “Now, if you don’t mind,” Malfoy said, “I initially came out to eat something.”
The moment was gone, and Harry watched numbly as Malfoy filled a plate with pasta and took it back to his room, shutting a door with a decisive click.