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Rearrange the Stars

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Draco won’t even look at his parents or grandfather at King’s Cross, just anxiously looking around the crowded platform. He has no interest in a proper goodbye to his Grandfather; unless something goes wrong, this will be the last time he sees the man.

Good riddance.

He didn’t process how much his grandfather hurt him the first time until years later, but even then he knew the atmosphere in his house was less tense than it had been before. This time he knows it will be better… 

Not as much better this time though… his eyes flick quickly to his father then back away. Sincere seeming apologies or not, he can’t forget the fact that he would sink to the same level as his grandfather.

He ignores his Mum’s fretting goodbyes as he spots Potter with his godfather across the platform, and grabs the handle of his trunk.

“I’ll see you at Christmas, Mum,” he says distantly, then takes off before she or his father can say anything to stop him, making his way over to Potter.

“Draco!” Potter says with a huge grin, “How are you?”

Worried,” he says in an undertone, “That they’re going to have dementors search the train for Pettigrew.”

Potter winces, but quickly shakes his head, “even if they do, it’ll be fine. I hate them too, but I can deal with them now..”

“No, I don’t mean-” Draco quickly stops talking as Weasley runs up, swallowing his words and quickly staring down at the pavement. 

The first time around he didn’t react well to the dementors; running from them and feeling cold and sick. A stronger reaction than any of his friends had; it’s part of why he latched onto making fun of Potter fainting so quickly; he was embarrassed by his own poor reaction.

But… That was not his most recent encounter with Dementors. They started being phased out of law enforcement related roles in later years, but leading up to the reconciliation hearings… 

The cold hit Draco before anything else, and he felt himself tipping forward. If his mum hadn’t been there, he’d have hit the ground, and the last thing he felt was her firm grip on his arms.

He was woken up by an auror at the ministry, and it was only then that he found out that he had been taken into custody by a dementor.

“That was the strongest reaction of anyone brought in for the hearings yet,” the auror said, sliding chocolate across the interrogation table at him.

He blinked dazed at him, only half understanding the circumstance, and he was shaking from the cold. It’d been months since the war ended; he wasn’t even expecting anything at this point. He was getting ready to start university and struggling to deal with all the personal fallout of the last couple years.

“Eat that; it will make you feel better,” he said firmly. “I know; dementors are a bad way to bring people it; wasn’t my call. I need you coherent.”

He blinked a few more times, before following the instruction. The chocolate did come with a burst of warmth and cleared his head a little, but it was far, far from enough to make him feel better.

He was shivering for the hours of interrogation following that, and he knew that he wasn’t making a good impression on his interrogator, but he could barely focus, and the intensity of that helped nothing.

He was lucky that Potter jumped in to help out just a couple days later, but he has no idea why the initial interrogation went so poorly. He doesn’t know why Draco is so worried, and he can’t say anything about it with Weasley here.

So he keeps his mouth shut as they meet up with Granger too, and head onto the train, sitting in the compartment with Lupin.

“Are you alright, Draco?” Granger asks quietly as they get their stuff put up in the compartment. “You’re being very quiet.”

He hesitates before answering, glancing sidelong at her, “I haven’t had anything to say.”

“Nothing?” she says, sitting down, “I would have expected you to have some quip or something. You usually do, even when you’re distracted.”

Draco doesn’t say anything to her, just taking the seat by the window that Lupin isn’t in, and he looks out the window at the platform, just as the train starts moving. 

It’s tensely quiet for a moment before Granger speaks again, “It’s odd for an adult to ride the train. They usually don’t.”

“That’s Professor Lupin,” Potter says immediately, “I don’t know why he’s on the train, but he’s our defense teacher this year.”

“Why do you know that?”

“Hermione; he’s a friend of Harry’s godfather. I knew his name because he was the one who caught Sc- er, Pettigrew.”

Also,” Draco mutters, not taking his gaze off the window, “His name is on his trunk.”

Granger sputters and huffs, “Oh, well, I suppose,” she’s quiet another moment, “Draco are you sure you’re alright? You just seem off.”

“I’m fine,” he says, and looks at her. She’s sitting on the edge of her seat, pivoted to be half facing him, “Are you alright? You seem overly fixated on me right now. Did I do something wrong?”

“What were you doing in Dumbledore’s office when everything with the chamber happened?” She asks abruptly, and Weasley gasps, nearly falling out of his seat with how much he jumped.

“Hermione!”

“Sorry! I just cannot make sense of that.”

“…I went to tell him what we knew. I didn’t expect him to personally charge down there, but I knew he had a Phoenix, and that probably the most useful magical creature in the world for fighting a basilisk.”

“You sent Fawkes down to us,” Potter says with a huge grin, “Couldn’t have done it without him, so thanks!”

“Can we stop talking about this?” Weasley says whilst fidgeting in his seat.

“But how’d you know me and Harry were going down to the chamber?”

“In what universe would Potter not?” Draco manages a faint laugh, but this line of questions is … concerning. Has she been stewing on this all summer? “Let’s be realistic, Granger. He knew where it was, what it was, and as a parselmouth stood the best chance of getting in. And he definitely has a taste for heroics based on our first year. I genuinely would have been surprised if he hadn’t gone down there.”

“Can we STOP talking about this?” Weasley repeats, his voice pitching up, and Granger jumps slightly.

“Sorry, Ron,” she says quietly.

The conversation shifts, and Draco tries to tune it out as he watches the countryside fly by, his fingertips pressed against the glass. He doesn’t know what he can do if Dementors do search the train; it’s very likely, given that everything they don’t directly alter will naturally hew as closely to the first time as possible. 

He almost definitely will pass out. His mental health has only gotten worse since the last time he encountered them. The worse someone is doing the more a dementor affects them. They have fewer happy thoughts and emotions in the first place, so the taking of what they have is much worse.

If someone is accustomed to them, it’s easier to deal with; likely why Potter isn’t worried. He spent a fair amount around them in his first few years as an auror until they were completely phased out.

Being able to cast a patronus charm certainly would help too. Draco can’t. It’s not exactly taught at Hogwarts, nor was it in any of his Uni classes.

There’s a light touch to his shoulder, and Draco jumps, pivoting to look at Granger, who’s staring at him with her hand still slightly extended, “Are you sure you’re okay, Draco?”

The others had gone to change into their school uniforms at some point; Draco doesn’t need to. He changed before ever getting on the train; before even approaching Potter.

He glances back out the window, at the now dark sky. Any time now, if they’re going to search the train… 

“Draco?” She says, starting to sound nervous herself.

“It’s-” the train starts to slow, and Draco stops talking immediately, whipping back around to look at the window.

“Why are we stopping?” Granger says, standing up to peer out the window around Draco and Lupin, “We can’t be there yet.”

The train comes to it’s final stop with a jolt, and Granger falls back into the seats, nearly landing on Draco.

The window starts to fog over just as all the lights go out.

Chaos follows, as Longbottom and Ginny stumble blindly into their compartment when Granger tried to go talk to the driver, but Draco’s gaze is fixed on Lupin, who’s silhouette he can faintly see having sat up straight now, and his breathing has changed.

“Professor?” he says softly, and Lupin exhales hard before conjuring a handful of bluebell flames, which prompts immediate silence from everyone else. 

“All of you stay here,” he says hoarsely, his gaze flicking to Draco and Potter, “I’ll go find out what’s happening.”

He stands, and cold starts to seep into the compartment before he can even take a step, and Draco quickly grabs the sleeve of his robe to stop him. The door slides open, and Draco only sees the black cloaked figure for a moment and hears it’s rattling breath before the cold seeps into his very core. He feels himself start to fall and a snarl mixed with a cold humourless laugh echo in his ears.

He comes back to as the lights flicker back on, having been caught in his fall by Lupin, who’s getting him back into his seat, “hold on a second,” he says quiet, before pivoting to grab his bag, out of which he pulls a large chocolate bar that he starts breaking up.

Potter quickly sits down next to Draco, his brow furrowed, “are you alright?” he says softly.

Draco would laugh if he didn’t feel so sick because, for one; obviously not, and two Potter doesn’t exactly look well either; his face pallid and a sheen of sweat visible on his skin. 

“Eat this,” Lupin says, handing out chunks of chocolate, “It’ll help.”

“What was that?” Granger asks faintly, taking the offered chocolate, “What was it that you did to get rid of it?”

“A Dementor,” he answers grimly, “One of the prison guards of azkaban. I suspect it was looking for Peter Pettigrew.” He glances over at Draco and Potter before exhaling hard, “As for what I did, it was a very hasty Patronus Charm. One of the few things that’s effective against them; though that wasn’t a great example of it.”

Draco starts eating the piece of chocolate, which takes the edge of the lingering cold, but he’s still shivering slightly as Lupin retakes his seat. He expects that to linger for a while based on the first time.

He exhales hard, and slouches back in his seat. Potter nudges his arm, and holds out a chocolate frog he probably bought from the trolley lady earlier. “You probably need it more than me,” he says, his voice soft.

“Don’t be daft, Potter.”

“What-“

“You may not have passed out, but you cannot tell me that a dementor didn’t seriously affect you with your history, and the way you still look now. Keep your own chocolate frog.”

“Did you already know what that was?” Granger asks before Potter can do much more than retract his hand.

“Of course I did,” he responds immediately, “My father made very sure that I was familiar with the Azkaban guards in concept because his… lifestyle could very well lead to him ending up there if he’s not careful. And he expects me to follow in his footsteps, so it was something he wanted to be very certain that I understood.”

“Everything I hear about your father,” Weasley says, clearly still a little shaky from the dementor himself, “makes me more certain that my dad understated how awful he is.”

“Almost definitely. And to think, my grandfather is worse.”

How do you live with that?”

“By being good at lying.”

They get to Hogsmeade station without further incident, and Lupin stops Draco just off the train with a hand on his shoulder.

Are you alright? That was a very strong reaction to the dementor. I was half tempted to send word ahead to the school but…”

Draco takes a shaky breath and ducks his head, “Dementors have a stronger effect when you’re already depressed. Something I learned the hard way before ever coming back.”

He winces at that, and exhales hard, “ah, yes, that’s… correct… Do you know how to cast a Patronous charm? Because they expect Pettigrew to go after Harry, so they have dementors stationed around the school…”

“No. Potter does; you taught him around now the first time, because he was fainting in the presence of dementors then…”

“I take it then that you didn’t?”

“Yes. I didn’t exactly react well to them; I was more affected than any of my friends, but I certainly wasn’t passing out. That didn’t come until after the war.”

“… That’s easy to understand,” he says, sounding tired beyond his years, probably thinking about the first war, “I can teach you the Patronous charm. With them around…”

“Thank you, Professor,” Draco says with a faint smile, “I should probably go find my friends now though.”

“Ah, wait, one last thing Draco.”

Draco stops in his tracks and turns back around, “is this about Pettigrew?”

Yes; Sirius told me he attacked you this summer. Do you have any idea why?

“He might've noticed me confounding him while it happened,” Draco responds grimly, “I’m counting on him coming here, so I can modify his memory to fix that.”

“Ah,” he frowns, “try to keep me informed on that, please. I’d like to help in any way I can.”

“Again, thank you. I’ll be sure to do that.”

He walks away quickly, and finds Daphne’s carriage just before it leaves. He’s not even sitting yet when the thestrals starts trotting towards the school.

“You look terrible,” Daphne says as he sits down across from her.

Ignoring Crabbe and Gould’s snickers about that, he leans forward towards her to hiss, “try having my grandfather and reacting well to those things,” at her.

She tilts her head to the side, “and your father?”

Shut up; that’s not even comparable.” He leans back and sighs.

Pansy takes the moment of silence to jump in and excitedly talk about her holiday to California, and no one interrupts her, so she talks about it all the way to the school.

He can’t begrudge her enjoying her summer.

“How was your summer, Draco?” she asks as they get off the carriage, and he stops dead and looks slowly at her.

“… well, Peter Pettigrew nearly killed me, so there’s that.”

Before anyone can comment on that, he walks quickly ahead until Snape stops him in the entrance hall.

“Hold on a moment, Draco.”

Snape takes him down to his office, and closes the door firmly behind them. “It’s not often that students try to take more classes than there is time in the day,” he says dryly, “and this year there are two of you.”

“Well, it’s not something that can even happen to every class at Hogwarts, just those that get caught by Binn’s unmoving schedule, sir. I assume that this is about some solution to that problem, Professor?”

“Yes,” he says, picking up a small black box from his desk, and Draco fights back a smile, recognizing the safety containment box for a time turner, “You’re to use this to attend your classes. It’s a time turner-”

Draco tunes out Snape describing the time turner and the safety rules. He’s well, well acquainted with all that.

And openly defying said safety rules to be here, but Snape doesn’t need to know that.

“Also,” he says slowly at the end of his explanation, “You look ill, Draco. Perhaps you should go to the hospital wing.”

“I’m not ill. It’s because of the dementors. And don’t try to suggest chocolate; Professor Lupin already gave me chocolate.”

A scowl twists across Snape’s face the instant Lupin is mentioned, and he coldly dismisses Draco immediately, and he doesn’t hesitate to leave, hurrying to the Great Hall.

He doesn’t eat much at the Feast, feeling queasy from the dementor still, and he slips away from the crowds immediately upon the feast ending, heading right up to the Room of Requirement. 

He practically falls onto the loveseat there, staring up at the ceiling while he waits for Potter, who turns up like ten minutes later

“Scoot,” he says, and Draco quickly sits up to let him sit down. “Are you alright? I wasn’t expecting you to faint like that…”

“I was,” he says softly, staring down at the floor, “learned that would happen when I was first taken in for the hearings. I was going to tell you that, but Weasley ran up before I could.”

Potter is quiet for a second before he sighs heavily, “I hate dementors…”

“As every reasonable person does,” Draco says, then pauses. There’s something he wants to ask but…

“What is it?” Potter says, and Draco jumps slightly, not having expectedPotter to notice his hesitation, “something is clearly on your mind.”

“… I just… did the dementors get worse for you after the war?”

He’s quiet for a long moment while sitting very still. “Yes, of course. Of course they did. Dementors bring to mind a person’s worst memories and emotions, and the war…” he trails off and frowns, “Draco, what did Voldemort do to you? I know he threatened you and your family but…”

Draco doesn’t say anything, just falling sideways to lean against Potter and close his eyes.

“Draco?”

“I’m tired…” 

“It was more than just a threat, wasn’t it?”

“Mm,” is all he says. He doesn’t want to answer this line of questions. He has never talked about this to anyone. He’s not exactly keen to start now, no matter how much his passing out to the dementor has worried Potter. 

He’s not lying about being tired though. He barely slept last night, then the whole day of anxiety over the dementor drained him, followed, of course, by the dementor… he could fall asleep right here.

He does fall asleep right there.

Harry doesn’t want to wake him, so he just exhales hard and closes his eyes himself. Can’t they have just one bloody break? If they don’t find Pettigrew soon, their work will be non-stop until it’s done, because it starts in earnest next year.

Draco slips, and falls with his head in Harry’s lap. Harry freezes up, his face getting very hot, but he still dare not move. He knows Draco doesn’t get enough sleep, and he’s not going to be the one to wake him up.

Harry ends up falling asleep there too.

Draco wakes up first, but him quickly sitting up straight wakes Potter up too, and he is blushing furiously as Potter blinks tiredly at him.

“I’m sorry,” he blurts out, “for crashing like that. I have trouble sleeping at the best of times, but since Pettigrew attacked me it’s-”

“It’s fine, Draco,” Potter says, though his face is slightly darkened with a flush too, “I have trouble sleeping too. Nightmares are no joke, and I knew you needed the sleep, so I wasn’t going to wake you.”

Draco is quiet for a long moment, just staring at Potter, then he sighs, ducking his head, “I’m worried that I’m not up to this.”

“Of course you’re up to this,” Harry says, immediately reaching forward and putting a hand on his knee, “You’re a lot more capable than you think you are.”

“I feel so overwhelmed,” he says, his gaze falling to Potter’s hand, “so many things have gone wrong, and I genuinely don’t know what to do anymore.”

“You’ll be fine,” he says softly, “We’ll be fine. We’re in this together, Draco. Neither of us are doing this alone.”

Draco hasn’t taken his eyes off Potter’s hand on his knee, but he nods slightly. He hopes that Potter is right about this being fine in the end. He wants him to be right.

“Sorry, again, for falling asleep on you,” he says softly.

He’s mortified that that happened. It was around this time the first time that he first fancied Potter, though he repressed it hard and actively lashed out at him for years after to try to deny it to himself. A lot of fourth year was occupied by trying to convince everyone else- and himself- that Potter was the worst; nothing more than an attention hog, seeking glory to the detriment of others.

It was so petty, and he regrets it, but… it started here. Third year was when he started actively targeting Potter rather than just anyone who suited him.

“… We should probably go get ready for class,” Draco says softly, though he doesn’t move yet.

“Oh,” Potter pulls his hand back and laughs nervously, “yes, you’re right.” He stands up and stretches, “also, uh, there’s something I didn’t mention last night. I, uh, think Hermione might be on to us.”

“What?”

 Potter doesn’t say anything else, just darting from the room, leaving Draco there by himself to process what he just said.