The word of the hour was definitely 'tragic'.
The tacky music - if one could still call it that; the outfits ("Pink, Granger! And I'm not even going to look at you, Weasel or I might be violently ill!"); the laughable attempts at dancing...
There was a sad sort of irony to the fact that Ginny Weasley and Neville Longbottom, of all people, were among the very few students who carried themselves with something vaguely resembling grace on the dance floor.
Draco Malfoy shook his head, and he quickly grabbed another drink from the tray. Getting totally and utterly plastered might just be the only way to get through this evening with his sanity still in tact.
Well, that and pestering Potter, of course... He looked around the room and wondered where Dumbeldore's Chosen One was hiding.
Ah, there he was! Getting an earful from the Patil twins, who promptly stalked off to dance with... two manly men of Durmstrang. Excellent.
Draco grinned at the pathetic display, before noting that Potter looked just about as tragic as everything else in the room, if not even more so; and not just because of the hideously frilly shirt and poofy hairdo, either.
The expression on Potter's face had Draco doing a double take.
The Pillock Who Lived looked like he was on the verge of tears, or worse. What was that all about, Draco wondered? Surely, it wasn't because of the Patil twits? Did Potter even like those two? Maybe it was because the oh-so-pink disaster was on Krum's arm tonight?
Purely for entertainment purposes, or so he reminded himself, Draco kept a close eye on his long-term rival.
A few minutes later, he saw the boy make his way to the exit.
Too intrigued not to, Draco put down his now empty glass and followed; closely behind, but with enough distance for Potter not to notice.
Down two flights of stairs, somewhere in a dungeon corridor Malfoy had never been before, he unexpectedly lost sight of Potter.
All right, the prat couldn't have dissolved into thin air, so where did he go?
Draco purposefully pushed against the left wall, then the right wall; he stepped on a few tiles, hoping to open up a secret passage way somewhere... All to no avail.
He was about to give up, when all of a sudden, leaning against a foul-smelling tapestry had him stumbling into a hidden room.
Once he'd regained his composure and made sure no one had seen him lose it in the first place - after all, Malfoys, as a rule, did not "lose it"; he took a better look around.
The dusty, dimly lit room was filled with discarded furniture and old books. There was a stained glass window at the back.
Draco stepped over to have a closer look, and then he spotted the slumped over form of Harry Potter down on the ground. He almost screamed when he saw the blood seeping from the boy's wrists.
What the hell?
There hadn't been anyone else in here, he was one hundred percent sure of that, so did this mean...?
It did, didn't it?
Harry Potter, Golden Boy, Saviour of the Wizarding World At Large, had been on a mission to off himself.
Draco's head was reeling. All concerns of being caught forgotten, all thoughts of entertainment purposes far out of his mind, he rushed over to the other boy.
"Potter? What in Merlin's name did you do? Can you hear me?"
Malfoy cursed the Yule Ball for what was probably the hundredth time that night, along with his own decision to attend it wandless. He should have known something was going to happen. After all, things always happened when there was a large gathering of people too distracted or plain pissed out of their minds to pay proper attention.
Right. Concentrate. You've done it before. You don't need a wand for this.
Draco took a deep breath.
Find your voice. Concentrate. Ignore the way the blood smells. And don't faint. Malfoys do not faint!
"Arreste Sangram! Reverse scalpam!" he shouted in the darkness.
Then he looked at Harry again.
He let out a relieved sigh when he realized that the spell was working. The bleeding stopped; the wounds rapidly healed; and thank Merlin, Potter was still breathing.
"Wake up!" Malfoy said again, sounding almost desperate. "Potter!"
Oblivious to it all, Harry Potter was flying, up on Buckbeak's back.
High in the clouds; sweeping through the skies; a big smile on his face; not a care in the world.
He soared over a green field.
Down on the ground, he could see his parents. They had their arms around each other and were smiling up at him.
Then his father started to shout. "Potter! Potter!"
Why would dad be calling him Potter? That didn't make sense.
Again. "Potter! Potter! Come back!"
Suddenly, Harry felt the world begin to spin.
He wasn't sitting on Buckbeak's back anymore. There was nothing beneath him but solid ground.
Panic washed over him, as he started falling... falling... falling...
With a thump, he felt himself hit the floor.
He kept his eyes tightly shut, suddenly very much aware of a splitting headache and a dull pain in his lower back. Where was he? What the hell had just happened?
Reluctantly, he finally opened his eyes.
The sight that greeted him didn't exactly put an end to his confusion.
A very concerned looking Draco Malfoy was bending over him, saying "Potter!" over and over again. It sounded like an eerie mantra. And were those tears in the Slytherin's eyes?
Don't be daft. Malfoys don't cry.