Draco boarded the Hogwarts Express with the dignity that only a pureblood could manage without looking ridiculous. While the rest of Kings Cross station as covered in at least a thin layer of soot, the young wizard had the telltale malfoy pale skin, grey eyes, and shining blonde hair that glowed and managed to repel all dirt and grime that could possibly mar the evangelical image.
Passing the compartments at the front of the train where most of the teachers and students from ravenclaw sat, Draco noticed an older man whom he didn't recognize. A swift glance revealed dark brown hair and bright blue eyes that were passing over the students with barely concealed mirth and excitement. 'I assume he is our latest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.' Sneering in disgust at the man's lack of self preservation, the young wizard passed by him without a second glance, robes sweeping behind him indignantly.
Arriving at his usual car in the back where the Slytherins were usually found, Draco received a few curt nods in greeting, all of which he responded to in equal courtesy. With a flick of his hand, the compartment door slid open in front of him, but instead of settling into a seat, a brute, warm force crushed the air out of the boy's lungs.
"Pansy- Get off me!" He snarled. Pansy released her death grip before he had finished his sentence, jumping back as if burned. A grimace of pain soured her features. Gently rubbing a spot on her stomach Pansy looked pointedly at his upraised wand.
"You practically stabbed me with your wand, Draco!" She accused, raising her voice.
"Perhaps if you didn't launch yourself in all of your love and glory at people when they least expect it, you wouldn't end up with a wand halfway through your stomach!" He gracefully danced around her tense form and into the compartment she was failed to block, slipping his wand back into its sheath. The blonde hadn't remembered drawing it at all, but it was good to know that he could defend himself from surprise attacks without thinking about it. 'Not that any attackers would choose a flying hug as their weapon of choice.' He thought in disgust.
Settling in his seat, Draco turned to the others occupying their compartment.
"Hello Blaise, Theo." Nodding to each, respectively.
"Good afternoon, Draco." Blaise responded, overly-formally in an attempt to lessen the tension in the room. Theo spared them both a slight inclination of his head, before returning his gaze to a book titled Advanced Potion-Making on the spine in green lettering. It was at this moment that Pansy chose to slip across the gap between their knees and sit in the seat facing the window. Plopping down in a way that could only be described as childish, she stared out the window, face seemingly stuck in the expression of a thundercloud. The boys ignore her and continued their conversation.
"Have you seen the new teacher? I assume he'll be teaching DADA; only opening here at Hogwarts." Draco asked, not sparing Pansy a glance. She wasn't patient nor calm; It was expected that she would lose her temper in a moment or two.
"Only in passing. He was rather..." Blaise wrinkled his nose, "Ridiculously happy." Draco nodded in agreement, and paused.
"Actually... I happened to overhear Severus talking with my father. Apparently, the Headmaster plans to combine Slytherin and Gryffindor into more classes together, in an attempt to end our legendary rivalry. Can you imagine Defense Against the Dark Arts with bloody Gryffindors under that pansy of a teacher?"
Blaise laughed, "We're going to eat them alive!" He leaned forward and lowered his voice, "I bet he doesn't last one-"
Pansy interrupted him by standing up and towering over Draco's sitting form. "Damnit, man, didn't you miss me at all! I thought we were friends! I even hugged you!" She sniffed. "Bloody hell, you're an arsehole!"
Draco sent her an intense glare. Somehow, he managed to seem like he was looking down at her, though his gaze was turned upwards. The temperature in the room seemed to drop considerably whenever he activated the legendary Malfoy glare, Pansy noticed, though she deterred herself from rubbing her arms by focusing on his gaze fearlessly, though he still looked like he wanted to cast an Unforgivable on her right about now.
"Sit down, Pansy, and behave like a Slytherin." Effectively silenced, Pansy sat, shocked into obedience by the calm tone of voice that didn't match his expression in the least.
"Whether I missed you or not is not of importance. That's no excuse for attacking me from out of the blue. I nearly hexed you- I did not have my wand out merely to provide discomfort to your abdomen. I've also told you before not to touch me." Seeing Pansy open her mouth in rage, Draco whipped his wand through the air and uttered a silencing spell - Now, she looked outraged.
"That's not to say I didn't miss you." It wasn't really true, but he said it for her benefit, and softened his hard gaze. He had been too busy practicing offensive and defensive magic most of the summer to really miss anyone's presence. Well, except for one person anyhow, and that was simply for missing out on the entertainment that trying one of his new spells out would have provided. Potter.
Above, the Great Hall ceiling, enchanted to mirror the sky outside, gleamed with the vibrant sunset. Candles floated in the air many feet above them, tracing softly glowing paths through the air. Hogwarts was the only place Harry truly felt he was at home, and he was particularly fond of the Great Hall. He remembered it as one of the first things he had encountered in the wizarding world. The memory, because of the pure creativity and beauty or it, made it something he held deep respect and love for – until Malfoy, that prat, sent an enchanted piece of parchment flying through the sky like a toy Haley's comet and struck Harry in the forehead. Where they had gotten an enchantment to send a paper ball all the way across the Great Hall, Harry could only begin to guess.
Harry glared between the heads of the students seated at the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables at Draco Malfoy, one of his many enemies. His father, Lucius Malfoy, was a known death eater, and his family was one of the many long lines of prejudiced purebloods. Dobby, a house elf who Harry freed from this particular family in second year, sneered and shot jibes at the Malfoys when they passed, always defending Harry's honor- not that he needed it.
"Come on, let's go. The last thing you need is a fight with Malfoy on the first day back!" She touched his arm lightly, drawing his attention away from the bloody git. Ron was looking at him as well. They both stood up, and Harry reluctantly followed them to the Gryffindor common room to cool his temper and unpack his things.
The Gryffindor common room was patriotically decorated in flaming red and fiery orange. Dark furnishing glowed with the firelight reflecting off the red brick of the hearth. It was always warm in Gryffindor tower, but today, Harry found it stuffy and overpoweringly warm. Even the colors were too hot. The bright reds and oranges painfully stabbed at his eyes, being a sharp contrast to the dull, lifeless colors at home in Private Drive. He was pacing the floor, wearing tracks into the warm rugs beneath his feet. Hermione and Ron looked on; Hermione worried, but slightly amuse, Ron wearing a look mirroring Harry's rage.
"First day of school! He couldn't even wait a bloody day to start tormenting me again!" his expression shifted from rage to hurt to distrust and sorrow back to rage again, "How could I have been so stupid; so trusting!" He stopped short, and continued with his rant as a cover up, "That b-bloody wanker!"
"Harry!" Hermione scolded him. She was studying his face. Harry hid a look of defeat, knowing she had caught him, "Language!"
Wearily, the Boy who Lived spoke, "I just don't understand." The room was silent for a moment. Ron looked at Hermione in confusion that she mirrored. Several minutes passed in awkward silence, the only noise being the crackle of the fireplaces.
"I'm going upstairs to unpack my trunk." Harry said abruptly, making his friends jump. He was across the room and storming up the stairs in an instant. His anger had faded, but it had been replaced by soul-gnawing weariness and regret. Dragging his feet up the steps to the dorms higher in the tower. After the stricken young man had left, Hermione enthusiastically motioned towards the steps, shooting Ron and pointed glance. Weasley raised his hands up and shook his head, eyes wide, and raised his shoulders. He didn't know what to do, nor did he know how he could possibly provide comfort. The exasperated girl glared at him one last time, before silently going up the steps. She didn't like being in the boy's dorm much, even when most people hadn't come in yet, because it smelled of teenage sweat and other things she wouldn't dare think about at this moment in time, thank you very much.
The boy who lived was sitting on his bed with is fisted hands in his eyes when she arrived. After silently warding the door so that no one could enter or peak inside, Hermione observed the unveiled pain on his face, the tension in his shoulders a silent echo of the misery he was truly experiencing. 'There's definately something more to this. Harry would never act this way over Malfoy's sick jokes before. Why is it different now?' She thought silently back to the times in previous years when Malfoy had let something slip, accidental or not, she didn't know. Harry had never gotten upset at jibes aimed at him. 'Pampered celebrity', 'Scarhead', 'Bloody prick', 'The Boy Wouldn't Fucking Die', nothing could faze him- as long as it was targeted at himself. When Malfoy lashed out at 'Mudblood' or 'Weasel', or at Harry's parents or Sirius, the slimy slytherin would find himself with a wart on his nose, or a painful laceration in place she didn't care to discuss. The snake had never learned his lesson, or course, not when Harry hexed him into the lake, or when Harry had turned Malfo-
Harry made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a faint sob of grief. His hands curled tightly over his eyes, turning his knuckles white. Hermione couldn't move - frozen by shock. In all the years that she had been a friend to Harry, he had never cried in front of her. Ever. The scrawny boy let loose another cry, and after muttering spell of silence over the open doorway, the girl rushed to his side.
He jumped three feet when Hermione touched his arm in concern, whipping his wand out at her. Red rimmed eyes adorned by blotchy cheeks stared in shock at her kneeling form. She put her hands up in surrender. Slowly, hesitantly, the 11' holly wand with phoenix feather core was silently set on the bedside table. Its owner collapsed into Hermione's waiting arms while she cooed and gently stroked the boy's hair. She held onto a mask of motherly comfort and calm, but she was truly bewildered underneath. This simply wasn't usual for Harry.
Harry silently shook with tears and undisguised remorse. Guiltily, he stole a glance at Hermione. He had never told her of the events that happened during his last night in the Room of Requirement.
Scarhead had been pacing the halls of the 7th floor corridor, asking for a room to be alone for a bit, where he could release his rage without harming anyone - out of the way of anyone who couldn't understand his rage. 'Which would be nobody!' He added vehemently, but a pale set of doors that blended in with the castle walls had already appeared. Roughly pulling one open, he stormed into the room.
Throwing himself inside with all the dignity and grace of an irritated lion, he tore down the facade over his face that concealed his emotions. His eyes flashed with the violent snarl on his lips. The Room of Requirement quietly summoned a few pieces of elegant furnishing bidden by his unspoken desire to vent his anger. A lovely couch of dark leather adorned by elegant fastenings was quickly set to flames with a wordless Incendio. Hexes and curses flew from his mouth, all of which wandless, most of which wordless. Harry exploded several desks into tiny bits, set several things on fire, froze a few things before shattering them into smaller pieces, even levitated a king bed and threw it across the room, where it smashed into the wall. He never used the same spell twice, as a personal rule. When fighting Death Eaters, one had to be as varied and creative with the hexes as possible.
Harry's fury faded and disappeared with the evidence of his rendezvous with the furniture. The splinters of wood and tufts of fluff vanished without a trace. A moment later, a long couch appeared, but instead of destroying it, The Boy Who Lived fell into the deep cushions and curled onto his side, energy and magic resources effectively spent. In a similar situation in which he was currently in with 'Mione, he let loose heartbreaking sobs of grief. He missed Sirius. He wanted the parents had never had, and would never get. He hurt for Cedric and for Cho. Harry cried for anyone and everyone who had lost someone in the war, and for everyone who had risked their lives defending him, a helpless boy who stumbled into traps and bad situations without thinking them through. He couldn't believe how anyone would follow him into battle, much less remain his friend, after everything everyone had gone through to protect him.
A pair of warm, pale arms wrapped around him. He jumped slightly, but did not defend himself. What did it matter if it was an enemy anyway? He was a useless cause to this war. Eyes closed, the legendary Harry Potter relinquished himself to the arms of a complete stranger, feeling unnaturally safe and secure. Normally, he would have defended himself, but today... He felt as if it didn't matter. Much to his surprise, the cold tears of the stranger mingled with his own. Quiet and undisturbed, they released their pain together, uncaring if the other would judge or ridicule them in their moment of weakness.
Much later, Harry woke from a slumber he didn't remember falling in to. Groggily, he became aware of his surroundings. Pale arms were wrapped around his abdomen. He nearly jumped off of the couch he was lounging on in shock, but managed to contain himself, only barely. The reason he was here, sleeping on a couch with someone whose identity was currently unknown in what appeared to be the Room of Requirement with the smell of smoke in the air and trails of salt on his cheeks slammed into him harder than a speeding broom. It would be a good idea to know the stranger who now knew the secret inhibitions and self doubts of the famous Harry Potter, the Golden Boy Who Lived.
Harry braced himself for a nasty surprise and tried to wring his hands, finding them intertwined with someone else's. He looked down. Slender fingers were knotted with his own, belonging to the man whose arms were around his waist. He thought it was a man, at least, the body on his back seemed to square and hard to be a female. Something shiny glinted at him, and Harry squinted to take another look, realizing that his glasses were crooked on his face. There was a ring was in the shape of a snake swallowing its own tail, with small emeralds dotting the snake's eyes. Slytherin, then. Harry nearly groaned out loud. His eyes traveled along the pale limbs snaked around him. Hair covered the arm thickly, but was nearly unnoticeable due to its extremely pale nature. 'A patriotic, pale haired slytherin... Oh!'
Draco Malfoy pulled Harry closer to him in his sleep. Harry nearly recoiled in shock. 'Merlin's beard, what deity have I royally pissed off this time?' Once he woke, Dr-Malfoy would probably tell him all about how he could use this as blackmail and force something out of him. Or he wouldn't even do that, he could just say that he caught Harry Potter bawling like a baby in the Room of Requirement. Harry could already feel the burn of curious stares into his back and the humiliation.
The self-proclaimed future death eater muttered something in his sleep. Harry stopped his mental rant to listen, "bloody guilt complex... poor innocent chair... idiot..." The raven haired boy stopped for a moment and softened. Perhaps, this time, D - Malfoy wasn't out to harass him. 'Malfoy didn't say a word to me in... my moment of weakness - neither did he throw jibes, or make himself known to bask in my humiliation. 'Harry had hardly been the only one crying, either. Malfoy had also witnessed the wide variety of spells that might be turned on him instead of innocent chairs if he dare cross Harry. He turned to gaze at the pale boy. Thin golden locks framed a face that had lost its usual sneer like a shining halo, accentuated by the pale skin,made somewhat rosy with the memory of tears.
Draco began to stir, eyes fluttering slightly. Quickly, Harry pretended to sleep, closing his eyes and washing his face of emotion while the other came to terms with his predicament in a similar way Harry had. He felt him tense for a long moment, then finally relax, clearly coming to the same conclusion.
Later, when they were both honestly awake, they talked. Apologies were exchanged, conclusions reached, and explanations spoken. Draco had simply been walking down the corridor, taking the long way from the Astronomy tower to the dungeons, when the Room of Requirement had simply appeared. He didn't remember asking for anything, but curiosity, the git, had shoved him inside, only to find Harry Potter throwing hexes and curses like someone had stepped on his tail. Draco had run back to the door (not out of fear, just self preservation, of course) but it had vanished, trapping him inside. Harry didn't even notice the presence, but luckily, most of the furniture ended up on the other half of the room. No hexes went Draco's way, so neither did the other boy's gaze. When The Boy Who Won't Fucking Die stopped his tirade, and collapsed to the couch, the names murmured under cries of distress stopped him in his tracks. The heir to the Malfoy family and to Voldemort's reign did something very unusual that day; he risked being cursed to comfort Harry Potter, his school and war rival.
END OF FLASHBACK
Harry's tears slowed and eventually stopped. Hermione was looking at him as if he'd grown a second head and it had started singing Celestina Warbek's latest album off key.
"Harry... you trusted that lout? How can you forget six years of torture and betrayal in one evening?" She actually looked worried for his safety.
"'Mione, it wasn't like I was telling him the secrets of the Light side or anything, it was just a tender moment. It wasn't exactly my best day on the job, either." He scowled.
"You need to be more careful," She thought for a moment before continuing, "That's why you're so upset? He went back to his selfish, cockroach self even after you two came to a sort of truce?" He merely nodded. Voices from outside the door started to rise in protest. They were probably angry that they couldn't enter their dorms yet. It had been a while, after all.
Hermione quickly turned to Harry and uttered a few quick cleaning spells. When she was satisfied that he looked presentable, she turned from his bed and canceled the hexes on the door.
"Finite Incantatem." The girl strode from the dorm with confidence, and answered the boy's bewildering looks with, "What? Haven't had a quick shag before?" and sauntered off, leaving whoops in her wake. Harry was quickly bombarded by congratulations and slaps on the back. In truth, he was worried about he would say to Ron.
Draco was a slytherin, a pureblood, and above all else, a Malfoy. None of those qualifications constituted any form of sentimental behavior or public display of emotion or distress of any kind, ever. Yet when Pansy altered the course of his paper ball, thinking she was helping him, to smack Harry in the forehead, his grin faltered. Even more so, when Harry shot back a death glare worthy of You-Know-Who himself, all color faded from his already pale face and dread hovered beyond the edges of his consciousness.
After the achingly long feast was over and students had begun to take their leave, Draco walked with his usual swagger to erase suspicious to the Gryffindor table. Hardly any had were left, mostly people outside of Harry's year. Picking up the paper ball from where it had ended up on the table. Uncrumpling it, he reread the words he had written earlier in neat scrawl;
Room of Requirement. 8 o'clock. See you there.
'The bloody gryffindor didn't have the foresight to even take a closer look at the paper ball, or at my expression, which I'm sure betrayed enough emotion at that moment in time... Dammit! It's going to take forever to win back his trust.' He entertained a few different ways of getting back at Pansy, but he knew he couldn't actually reciprocate. Pansy would recognize his revenge, and know something was wrong and easily trace it back to the only moment he seemed uncomfortable this year. 'I could, of course, wait an appropriate amount of time, then she probably would have forgotten or wouldn't see the connection...
Draco plotted a nasty retaliation for Pansy as he went down the Hall to the Slytherin dorms in the dungeons.