- Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter
- Draco Malfoy Harry Potter
- Slash Angst
- Multiple Eras
- Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Quidditch Through the Ages Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Published: 03/18/2003Updated: 08/21/2003Words: 70,367Chapters: 11Hits: 277,324
- Story Summary:
- Draco is afraid of living and Harry is afraid of dying, but sometimes the choice isn't offered. Draco's got to learn what it is to really live, while showing Harry how beautiful the world really is when you're not too scared to see it.
- Chapter Summary:
- Draco is afraid of living and Harry is afraid of dying, but sometimes the choice isn't offered. Draco's got to learn what it is to really live, while showing Harry how beautiful the world really is when you're not too scared to see it.
Ron, Hermione, and Harry were on their way to breakfast when the Head Girl, Heather Murphy, approached them. She was smiling in a friendly sort of way. "Hey, Hermione," she greeted brightly, before turning her brown eyes on Harry. "You're Harry Potter, aren't you?"
Everyone knew who he was, but he still shrugged and said, "Yes."
"Headmaster Dumbledore sent me to find you. He wants you to have breakfast with him in his office this morning."
Harry frowned. "Why?"
"That's strange," Hermione said with a frown. "Is Harry in trouble?"
"I don't think so," Heather said, shrugging. "Otherwise he wouldn't be invited for breakfast."
"He probably heard about this deal with Malfoy," Ron said wisely. "All the times he's tried to kill you and all."
Harry rolled his eyes but didn't reply, saying instead, "Right, I suppose I'd better go see what he wants." He felt a little nervous, or maybe, in retrospect, he should have felt nervous and didn't. He'd never be quite sure.
He'd been to Dumbledore's office enough times to know the way, but he let Heather lead him. She left him in the hall and went in herself to tell Dumbledore that he was there. Frowning when she came out, she said in a rather perplexed tone, "That's odd, I didn't know Dumbledore had a dog…" she looked startled when she saw Harry there. "Sorry, Harry. You can go up. Hope you're not afraid of dogs, there's a massive black one up there." She smiled and hurried off to breakfast. Harry didn't notice.
It had to be Sirius. Harry sped into Dumbledore's office, forgetting to wonder about the strange request to join the headmaster for breakfast, forgetting to worry about Sirius being in danger. Because Sirius was here and Harry hadn't seen him in months.
"Sirius!" he cried, ignoring the headmaster as he fell to his knees and flung his arms around the shaggy dog's neck, burying his face in the thick fur. "I've missed you!"
Dumbledore was laughing gently as Sirius licked Harry's face. "Go on, Sirius, change back. It's quite safe in my office, I assure you."
The dog was gone a moment later and Sirius was there, smiling gently at Harry, who normally would have been alarmed at the strange, solemn look in Sirius's eyes. He didn't notice, however, because Sirius was mussing Harry's hair, and no one had ever really done that before.
"Welcome, Harry, do sit down, we've been waiting," Dumbledore said quietly.
"What are you doing here?" Harry asked Sirius. He was feeling more lighthearted and happy than he had in days.
Sirius' eyes slid away from Harry's. "Dumbledore asked me to be here and I agreed."
Harry frowned, suspicions finally blooming in his mind. "Why does he have to be here, sir?" he asked Dumbledore, finally taking the seat Dumbledore had offered him earlier. Sirius sat beside him.
The headmaster looked more exhausted than Harry had ever seen him. Still, he offered Harry some crumpets and muffins, and a tumbler of pumpkin juice, which Harry politely took, though neither Sirius nor Dumbledore ate anything. Instead, Sirius asked him about his grades and Quidditch and other innocuous things until the food was dutifully swallowed, and then he glanced at Dumbledore uncertainly. Harry followed his gaze.
He swallowed, suddenly nervous. "What is it?"
"Harry," Dumbledore began gently. "There is something I've got to tell you. Something I should have told you years ago but have held off on, waiting until I was sure, waiting until…" he trailed off. It was so out of character for the headmaster to be unable to find the words he needed to express himself, that Harry sat up a little straighter, his face turning even more pale than normal. Dumbledore sighed. "It had been my hope that it would never come to this, that we would never need to have this conversation. But it is my policy to always be honest with my students when I feel they deserve that honesty, and you, Harry… You deserve far more than simple honesty, but honesty is all I've got to give you. I wish it were different."
"What are you talking about?" Harry whispered.
Dumbledore closed his eyes, choosing his words carefully, and Sirius was staring at the window as if he could shatter it with his eyes. He looked furious. "Your mother was a brave and resourceful woman, Harry," Dumbledore began finally. "There is no doubt in my mind that if she had not been so strong, so brave, you would not be here today. You would have died as a baby. The ancient magic she called up… it involved an exchange, to seal the magic around you, to shelter you from Voldemort's charm. Your mother did not have that much to give, only her love and her courage. Most who make that exchange give their lives and their souls, but your mother's life and her soul were already forfeit when the compact was struck. She did not call forth the magic until the split second between Voldemort's curse and her own death, so she did not have that to bargain with. In the seconds between her death and Voldemort's attempt to kill you, while your mother's soul still hovered between the worlds, she bargained with the ancient magic and poured into them all of her heart and her love and her courage in exchange for your protection. For the chance for you to have a childhood. Normally, Harry —" and this was when Dumbledore's voice got very gentle — "the spell is for a normal life. But your mother was already dead when she made the bargain, and could only raise enough power for a childhood."
Harry blinked, frowning. The logistics of it weren't making much sense to him and he wondered what the point was. When Sirius put an arm around Harry's shoulders, he tensed, growing frightened. "I don't understand," he said, swallowing nervously.
"It was a spell to give you a childhood, Harry." Dumbledore's eyes were fixed on Harry's face intently.
Considering this carefully, Harry said, "A childhood. Right. So when does that end?"
"When you turn 16," Dumbledore said with infinite care in his tone.
"So I won't be protected anymore by that spell?"
There was a long pause as Dumbledore once again had to choose his words carefully. "No, Harry. When the spell ends, what should have happened sixteen years ago, will happen."
"What do you mean?"
"The spell bound you to your body, held death off. And when that spell ends… When the sun rises on your sixteenth birthday…"
Harry's eyes widened as realization hit him. "I die," he whispered. For a long, breathless moment, he waited for someone to deny it.
No one did.
It was all well and good for a perfectly healthy boy who thinks he's going to live forever to decide, rather flippantly and while he was sleeping, that he was sick of living and wanted to die. It was another matter entirely for that same boy to be told he was going to die. Numb, Harry said shakily, "But it's my birthday in two months."
"There has not been a single day that has gone by when I have not thought of this and tried desperately to think up a way to change it, to extend the length of your mother's spell, Harry," Dumbledore said quietly. "And there are still two months and you have my promise that I will not rest until an answer is found. But I felt you deserved to know the truth."
"The truth?" Harry said, laughing in a brittle tone. "You thought I deserved this?"
"If there is anyone who deserves this," Dumbledore said solemnly, "the last person I'd think it would be was you."
"You… you don't know how to fix this," Harry realized out loud. "You, Dumbledore, who always has all the answers, don't know how to fix this! I'm going to… I'm going to die and the greatest wizard ever doesn't even know how to make it go away!" The last word was a sob, and Sirius tried to gather him up and hold him.
Harry fought him off, leaping out of the chair. "Harry," Sirius called, eyes dark and achingly sad. "Harry, there's still time! We can fight this."
"Dumbledore's been trying to fight it since I was a baby!" Harry cried, feeling dizzy. "How are two more months going to change anything?" He looked at Dumbledore now, and said, "How do you know? How do you know the spell's going to run out or whatever?"
"It's the timing," Dumbledore told him quietly. "She didn't have the time or power for the full spell, Harry. Lily's strength was always in her heart, not her magical skills."
Harry nodded jerkily. "Right. Right." It still didn't make much sense. "I… I think I should go," he whispered.
"Harry —" Sirius began, but Dumbledore shook his head slightly.
"I've invited Sirius to stay at Hogwarts for a few days, Harry. When you need him, he'll be here. I suspect you'd rather be alone for the moment, but don't forget, we are both here if you need us. I know it's hard, but don't lose hope yet. Two months is a long time."
He laughed again, sharply. "Not… not when you've just been told that at the end of them, you're going to die."
Neither Dumbledore nor Sirius had a reply to that, and Harry stumbled from the office.
He wasn't going to cry. The strange thing was, crying seemed far too simple a response to this. Not to mention that by crying, he'd be somehow giving in. Losing hope.
The little boy inside, the one who'd given up that night and closed his eyes, deciding to die… Now he was sitting straight up, his eyes open and very wide, shining with tears. Harry didn't really want to die.
Panic hit him then, and Harry nearly forgot how to breathe. Panting and whimpering, one hand braced on the wall as he struggled not to fall apart, he thought he was dying right then. That would solve everything, after all. He wouldn't have to die on his sixteenth birthday if he died today.
The irony would not have been lost on Harry had he been in any way coherent. Just as he was about to suffocate, Draco Malfoy came around the corner.
He nearly didn't recognize Harry, which was strange. Draco had memorized the features of Harry's face years before, he could construct a picture of him in his mind with his eyes closed, even if it was summer holidays and he hadn't seen Harry in months. It was intense, that level of obsession, and Draco had always shied away from considering it.
But he'd always begin remembering the lines and curves of Harry's face with his eyes. Picture the eyes first and everything fell into place around them. Maybe some people remembered Harry's scar first and let the rest of his features fall in around it, but Harry's scar was not the first thing Draco had noticed about him, back in that robe shop just before his first year. Draco had always wished his own eyes were green; green was his favourite colour.
Now, however, Harry's eyes weren't green, which was why Draco didn't recognize him. They were black. Not the sort of black you could find in a can of paint or the kind you'd see in a shadow. It was the sort of black that wasn't a shade or a colour but rather the leftovers after all the colour has been sucked away.
Those empty eyes rose wearily to Draco's gray, and then they blinked. When they opened again, ferocious green had filled them. Angry green.
"Potter," Draco stammered, surprised. How had he not recognized him?
Harry didn't speak, didn't move, and Draco suddenly realized that the other boy was gasping, panting, unable to breathe. "Oh, bollocks," Draco moaned. "You're not dying again, are you?"
Further unnerving him, Harry started to laugh. Desperate, wild laughter, the kind that sounded like any second it would crack and he'd start to cry. Despite himself, Draco was a little frightened.
He'd decided, following the night before, when he'd landed on Harry, that he was going to be colder and more cruel to the other boy than ever before from that day forward. Because it was safer and simpler than whatever he'd been thinking on the Quidditch pitch. Now, however, he couldn't quite remember how to be cruel.
"You're hurt," Harry said a moment later, as the laughter subsided. He was staring at Draco's temple, where there was a sizable lump from the football.
"Umm. The Hufflepuffs wanted to charm it away for me, but given their reputation with things like that, I figured I'd rather keep the lump than lose my head or something," Draco replied, shifting nervously on his feet.
Harry reached up and touched the lump gently, and Draco nearly fell over from shock and… and fear. No one had ever touched his injuries gently before, and damned if he was going to let Harry Sodding Potter be the first. "Does it hurt?"
"When it's touched," Draco snapped, relieved when Harry let his hand drop.
Sorry? Draco frowned fiercely. "What's your game this time, Potter?"
Harry's eyes drifted away, darkening again, the green dripping away. "I haven't got a game. I don't believe in games any longer."
No, no, no, no. He was not going to let Harry scare him again with blank eyes and hysterical laughter. He smiled ruefully and touched the lump on his head, saying in a self-depreciating sort of tone, "Me either. Not football, at least." He didn't even like to think about the fact that he was trying to make Harry laugh or something.
Harry blinked, eyes turning confused and returning to focus on Draco's face. "You should do that more often."
"Do what? Get hit in the head with a football?"
"…Oh. Umm. Potter, are you alright?"
Again, Harry blinked, eyes darkening a bit more. "Fine," he replied tonelessly.
Uh oh. There he went again, going all depressive and scary. "Well I'm glad of that," Draco said scathingly. "Hate to think that things weren't all sunshine and daisies in the enchanted world of Harry Sodding Potter."
"Sunshine and daisies?" Harry replied, frowning.
"Yes. You know. The light from the sun and those little white flowers that grow in ditches?" Draco rolled his eyes. "Honestly, Potter, you're even more dimwitted today than you usually are, it's quite disheartening to know that even the limited levels of intelligence I've come to associate with you come and go."
Bright green again, thankfully. He could deal with Harry when his eyes were glittering with rage. Better to keep him angry than to see him sad. What? Why did it matter what sodding colour Harry's eyes were?
Because green was Draco's favourite colour.
"What the hell would you know about sunshine and daisies?" Harry snarled. The rage in his voice struck a chord deep inside Draco. It was a rage he understood. That helpless sort of rage a caged animal might feel while pacing the confines of its prison. The black kind of rage a boy might feel while pulling his fanciest dress robes on because the Death Eaters were coming to dinner and his father wanted him to make a good impression. The sort of rage generated when a little boy had to sit through a long lecture on how it would not do to let the Dark Lord know that you were afraid. Fourteen year old boys were not meant to feel fear.
"I know enough," Draco replied warily, unsure of how to deal with Harry. He had changed; he wasn't recognizable. He was unpredictable and strange and something inside him had changed. He wasn't the same boy Draco had laid on top of only the night before. "I know that sunshine is sometimes so blinding that it glares off anything too white and clean and gives me a headache. I know that daisies are weeds and full of insects. I know that I prefer rainy days and Devil's Snare."
Harry blinked. "Sorry," he said almost breathlessly. "I don't quite feel myself today and don't think I'm up to dealing with you right now."
"Aww, are things not all perfect and pretty in the World of Harry Potter today?" Draco asked sweetly, trying to keep that light of anger in Harry's eyes.
He wasn't prepared for the sheer heat of rage that blossomed inside Harry at his words. "You don't know a fucking thing, Draco Malfoy, so stop fucking pretending you do!" Draco was further unprepared when Harry, trembling from head to toe, exploded in rage and snarled viciously, curling his hand into a fist and slamming it against the wall in an impotent display of mindless anger. The wall was stone, it didn't break; Harry's hand was not, and Draco flinched at the dull cracking of bones. Harry didn't seem to feel it.
"Bloody hell, Potter," Draco snapped, taking his hand gently. He didn't know why he cared about his hand. Maybe because he somehow felt responsible for it. After all, he had purposely made Harry angry, if only because it was easier to understand than the other option, that strange stillness.
He carefully unfolded the broken fingers, cracked knuckles oozing blood. Harry didn't make a sound, and Draco glanced up at him chidingly. "And what did that help, Potter? Honestly, the wall doesn't care if you're pissed off. Does it hurt?"
"When it's touched," Harry replied dully, his eyes glazed over.
Draco's scowl clearly showed that he was not impressed with having his own words thrown back at him. Inspecting the cuts and fingers carefully, he pulled out his wand, holding that with one hand, the other hand flat under Harry's, so that the other boy's broken hand rested palm to palm with his own. "It might sting," he warned, but Harry didn't seem to notice the pain that was radiating from his fingers even now, so Draco doubted he'd feel the sting of mending skin and bone.
He cast the healing charms he'd learned that summer and held Harry's hand gently while it began to mend. He didn't notice that his thumb was stroking Harry's palm soothingly all the while, and neither did Harry.
"There," Draco said when it was done, letting go. "Hopefully you won't be stupid enough to take your anger out on the wall next time."
Harry's eyes slowly slid shut and he looked very weary now. "Nothing else to take it out on."
"You'll always have me for that, Potter."
Tired green eyes met his, and Harry smiled bitterly. "Will I? I won't have anything forever, Malfoy. Nothing lasts forever." He waved his hand absently. "Thank you. For fixing my hand. You're right, that was a stupid thing to do. Next time I'll punch your face in instead."
Draco grinned. "Or at least, you'll try."
It was a reluctant and small smile that Potter flashed in return, but it was genuine, and Draco was surprised. He and Potter were smiling at each other? What, honestly, was the world coming to?
"Yes. I'll try." Harry nodded and flashed another weak smile before turning and walking away almost aimlessly. Draco let him go; after all, who was Draco Malfoy to care which walls Harry Potter tried to beat up or where he chose to go when he wanted to die? No one. Draco Malfoy was no one.
Harry didn't go to class. What, really, was the point? If he didn't pass his fifth year, what did it matter? Nothing mattered anymore. Ironically, considering that not a week before he had decided that life was too hard and he wanted to die, Harry was furious. Achingly, blindingly enraged. How dare someone seek to take his life from him? The only thing that was truly and totally his? Well, apparently not. It had never been his at all, it had just been a loan from his mother.
He should have died all those years before and because he hadn't, he was being punished now. He wished he'd never been told, wished he'd just gone to sleep the night before he turned sixteen and never woken up. Then, at least, his last two months could have been spent in that same numb sort of daze the last week had been spent in, as opposed to this blind panic.
Then again, maybe that was the point. Maybe something, the same something that had appointed Draco Malfoy his guardian, had decided that Harry deserved to know he was dying so that he didn't spend his last two months that way. So that he didn't take them for granted. So that he realized he was lucky enough to have any time at all. Maybe not as much as most, but more than he was originally supposed to.
That he was wrong to want to die. Life wasn't nearly as hard as he'd thought, it was dying that was the hard part. Living when you knew for sure it wasn't forever. That was hard. Yesterday and all the days before? A piece of cake compared to this.
But Harry was too dazed and angry to think that way. To wonder if maybe he'd brought this on himself, wanting to die that way. Maybe it was that whole ‘be careful what you wished for' shit giving him what he deserved. What he'd wished for.
Instead, the only thing Harry knew was that he was going to die, and it was because his mother had been too weak to save him.
He would never remember how he came to be sitting in the Gryffindor common room alone that afternoon. The morning passed in a reckless sort of aimless daze, and there he was, sitting on the floor, playing with a knife. A stupid thing, but it had seemed brilliant at the time. Pick up the knife that Dean used to sharpen his drawing pencils with (he claimed it worked better than any other form of sharpener), and pull out the blade, and play with it.
Because Harry was dying and Harry was scared and Harry wasn't quite sure he'd ever been living at all. If he had been meant to die when he was just a baby and only his mother's spell had kept him alive this long, wasn't that some magical form of life support? What if he wasn't living at all? What if his body had been tortured by Voldemort's spell, which had warred with his mother's until the only thing left in between was a twisted body and Harry lived in that body in some way of living that wasn't quite being alive, and this wasn't real? Because how could he be living if that life expired? Like yogurt or cheese. Bread, even. He was perishable. Limited shelf life. He'd never really been living at all and he certainly wasn't real.
How could this, this sudden mortality, be real?
It wasn't, and Harry would prove it.
He cut himself, a slash up his forearm, not his wrist (because he didn't want to die any longer, after all) but the other side.
He wouldn't bleed; he wasn't real. This wasn't real. He wouldn't bleed.
But he did.
It was warm and bright red, and ran down his arm like ribbons of silk. Almost like the ribbons that had tangled around his ankles in his dream. He touched it and brought his finger to his lips and it tasted salty, like copper salt.
Real, then. This was real. He was real, life was real, and this wasn't all some terrible dream.
He threw the knife across the room with the force of all his rage behind it, a ragged growl that was almost a sob hissing from his throat. The knife hit the stone wall, slashed a tapestry up a bit, and clattered to the floor; it was stained with his blood.
"Accio knife," he whispered, and the knife slid across the floor and into his waiting palm. He closed it and slipped it into his pocket, and then watched his blood running from the deep cut in his arm.
Eventually, it dried to a muddy brown colour and the cut stopped bleeding. Harry let the sleeve of his robe fall back over the blood, not bothering to clean it up. He wanted to be able to look at it if ever he started believing again that This Was Not Real. Because it was. As real as anything in his life had ever been, or even more so. Because for the first time in his life, someone had finally told Harry the truth. He wasn't meant to be here, and in two months, that error would be corrected.
Harry, the perishable, would cease to exist like he should have fourteen years before.
He'd known that he was dying for three days, and the rage was still burning. If anything, it was hotter now. More furious. Because only three days had passed but Harry was beginning to feel like time was slipping through his hands like water. He wasn't really living anyway. Getting up and not going to class, (he didn't want to be shouted at for not doing his homework as he'd decided to quit the day he found out he wouldn't live to see his sixth year), eating, going to sleep. Nothing moved him, nothing mattered, and he was remembering why he'd wanted to die in the first place. Except that he didn't want to any longer. He just didn't want to live this way.
He didn't feel, didn't care, couldn't find anything to cling to, anything he'd really miss when he was gone, besides breathing. The simplicity of drawing breath. It was strange, calming, something he'd never noticed before. For the past three nights, Harry had lain awake listening to his own breathing and wondering what it would be like to stop.
Now, however, he was alone by the lake, throwing stones angrily into the water. Ron was busy and Hermione wasn't speaking to him, she was in a snit because he was boycotting homework. Of course, he hadn't told her why. He hadn't told anyone, and he hadn't been to visit with Sirius or Dumbledore either. He didn't need anyone to deal with this. What could anyone do for him anyway?
Whenever he found a flat stone, Harry would run his fingers over the water-worn surface and breathe deeply before throwing it hard, making it skip across the surface. It was a way to measure the minutes, and these days, all Harry seemed to do was measure them. Every second that passed was another he wouldn't ever get to have again. One step closer to his birthday. Every time a stone skipped across the lake, one less time his heart would beat. One, two, three, sink.
Nothing mattered but skipping stones and breathing. In, skip, out, skip, in, skip, out. Easy.
Hours passed and the sun set (another sunset Harry would never see again), and it grew too dark to see the stones. Making his way back to the castle, Harry wondered what would happen if he just turned and went the other way. Walked away from this, into the forest, or maybe to Hogsmeade. Disappeared. Who would notice?
"Best bet would be to head into the forest and walk south for three days, till you get to the small village on the other side. I don't even know its name, but I saw it on a map in the library. That way, if anyone went after you, they'd assume you went to Hogsmeade and you'd have more of a chance of getting away before they dragged you back." The words were said in an absent, bored tone, and before he even turned, Harry knew who had spoken them. Only Draco could talk that way without sounding like a complete prat.
Or, if he sounded like a prat, he did it so well and Harry was so used to it that it was some how above and beyond normal levels of pratness.
The sun was setting and the light getting hazy; Harry turned slowly away from the forest to study Draco in silence. He was sitting on the front steps of the castle and met Harry's stare defiantly. Finally, Harry said, "You spend a lot of time thinking about the best way to run away?"
Draco shrugged. "I've always done that. Planned how I'd escape from anyplace I was at for more than an hour. Some call it paranoid. I call it careful. You never know when you'll need to run, after all."
Considering Draco's words for a minute, Harry shrugged, dropping down on the step beside him. "Do you smoke?" he asked.
Draco looked surprised. "No. Do you?"
"No. But I figure now's a good time to start."
"Smoking kills, you know," Draco pointed out absently.
"Not fast enough."
"You want to die fast?"
"I don't want to die at all," Harry said abruptly, and then changed the subject. "What are you doing out here anyway?"
Draco was quiet for a while, and when he spoke, his voice was laced with faint amusement. "Why, looking for you, of course, Potter. It's been days without me having to save your life from falling buckets or sweaty closets. I was beginning to think you'd died. Easy enough assumption, given that you haven't showed up for class in three days."
"You really came looking for me?" Harry was surprised and skeptical all at once.
"No, not really, you stupid sod," Draco replied, rolling his eyes. "I just wanted to be alone, needed to think, and you can't quite be alone in Slytherin House, so I came out here. What's it to you?"
"You wanted to be alone?" Harry felt oddly hurt. "I'll go then."
"No! I mean, no. Stay, if you want. You're so far beneath my notice that it hardly matters if you're here anyway."
Harry smiled a little and relaxed again. The stone steps were still warm from the sun and there was an oddly companionable silence between them. It was almost the same thing that had made him, Ron, and Hermione so close in first year. How could they take on a fully grown mountain troll together and not come out of it with some sort of friendship? In his and Malfoy's case, of course, they had other things binding them together. A series of strange coincidences, and that night on the Quidditch pitch, and Harry's broken hand.
"What are you so scared of?" Draco asked suddenly.
The tenseness came back in a heartbeat. "Excuse me?" he said coldly.
"You. You're acting like your own shadow scares you these days. Not that I care," Draco said quickly. "It's just… weird."
"I'm not afraid of anything," Harry lied.
Draco scoffed. "Come on, now, Potter. Only someone with something to fear gets as freaked out over a Dementor as you did in third year."
"Oh, really?" Harry shot back. "I heard you nearly wet yourself."
That certainly shut him up, and a few moments later, Draco mumbled, "Forget it."
Harry nodded in a satisfied sort of way and hopped up off the step, starting off in the direction of Hogsmeade.
"Are you mad?" Draco called. "I told you, if you're going to run, go the other way."
"I'm not running," Harry said absently, rolling his eyes.
"Then what are you doing?"
"Going to Hogsmeade to get some cigarettes." He was surprised when Draco, after a short pause, got to his feet and started walking with him, but he didn't question it.
"It's late, you know," Draco pointed out, shoving his hands deeply into his pockets. "We're going to get into so much trouble for this."
Harry looked surprised. "Do you care?"
Shrugging, Draco replied, "I suppose not."
"Besides, you didn't have to come with me."
"Nothing better to do."
Draco glanced at Harry out of the corner of his eye, but the other boy seemed to be ignoring him. That was perfectly fine, of course, Draco had hardly decided to accompany him to Hogsmeade for the pleasure of his company. It just seemed a better way to spend the night, as opposed to sitting around alone and moping about Lisa, who hadn't spoken to him at all since she'd dumped him.
Also, something about the whole thing excited him. Breaking the rules this way, as if he didn't care that Dumbledore would most likely write to his father about it. Pretending that the very idea of Lucius Malfoy knowing that his son had deliberately broken the rules at school this way did not terrify Draco. Because Malfoys followed rules, or at least never let anyone know when they didn't. Malfoys always kept up the public appearance of following the law and being upstanding witches and wizards. Malfoys never got detention.
Draco still remembered the weeks of punishment he'd received for that detention in first year. He'd been grounded for two weeks, unable to leave his bedroom!
Of course, he had rarely left his bedroom when he was home, before that summer. It just hadn't seemed very worthwhile. Why bother leaving his room, there was nothing to do? Following that two weeks of being forced to stay there, however, Draco had started spending more and more time outside instead. There were miles and miles of formal gardens around the manor, rose gardens, rock gardens, water gardens, and dangerous shrub gardens, and he'd spent the rest of that summer and all of the ones following it out there alone, watching the fish in the ponds and fountains or walking aimlessly. He hated being indoors now, more than anything. It felt like a prison.
He glanced at Harry again, this time thoughtfully. He'd heard that the other boy's Muggle relatives had locked him in a cupboard. Had made him sleep there. He wondered if Harry craved being outdoors as much as Draco did.
Of course, Draco only craved the formal gardens. He didn't much like open fields or wild forests. They had no symmetry, no pattern to them, and that made him nervous.
Harry…. He bet Harry craved the uncultivated sorts of outdoors, and wildflowers. The unpredictable sort. Formal gardens would bore him, Draco knew.
And then he started wondering how he knew. And just why he cared.
He cleared his throat and Harry glanced at him questioningly. "What?"
"I was just thinking," Draco said with a shrug. "We're nearly there."
"I know," Harry replied.
Hogsmeade at night was different than either Draco or Harry could have ever imagined. The joke shops and candy shops were closed, their lights out, and the only buildings lit up were the ones that they hadn't much paid attention to on their school trips. The ones that the supervising professors who had accompanied them there would have died rather than let them enter. Dirty looking little pubs and strip clubs, casinos and dance halls.
Draco hesitated, looking appalled. Malfoys never went to these places, they only ever went to high class parties and exclusive clubs.
Harry, however, didn't pause. He walked straight into town, ignored the women calling lewd things from an upstairs window of one of the clubs, and made his way towards the store that was lit up with greasy lanterns at the end of the street. Draco followed, but only after the women in the window had noticed him and started calling him ‘pretty boy' and offering him nasty things for free.
Malfoys, after all, did not accept charity.
"Potter!" Draco cried, running after him. "Wait!"
Harry was grinning when Draco caught up with him, and Draco wondered for a moment when Harry had become the wild one and why Draco was left running after him so often.
They went into the store and this time, Draco stuck close to Harry, regretting this trip to Hogsmeade more than anything else he'd ever done.
"D'you sell cigarettes?" Harry asked the shopkeeper, his voice lower than normal, trying to sound casual.
The man behind the counter studied Harry with narrowed eyes and then flickered his gaze over to Draco. "What sort?" he asked after a long pause.
This time, Harry faltered. He didn't smoke, after all, and had no idea. "Umm," he said, glancing pleadingly at Draco.
"Marlboro Lights," Draco said quickly.
The shopkeeper smirked. "That's a girly brand."
"They're for my mother," Draco lied.
"Oh really? And just who is your mother?"
There was a tense silence, and Draco shifted uncomfortably. He knew his mother sometimes came into Hogsmeade to go to a specialty tailor there, but he had no idea if she'd ever been here or bought cigarettes here. If she had, he knew, she'd be remembered. Narcissa Malfoy was the type of lady no one ever forgot.
Finally, the man tossed a pack onto the counter and Harry paid quickly before scooping it up and walking out, Draco following. Outside, Harry smacked his arm.
"You got me a girly brand!"
"It's what my mum smokes!" Draco cried. "And you're lucky I was there to help, else he'd have just told you to piss off. Now let's get out of here, I don't like Hogsmeade at night."
"Aww, is Draco scared?"
"No, but you should be."
"I should? Why?"
"Because if you don't stop that I'm gonna kick your arse!"
Harry laughed. "Like to see you try, Malfoy!" And then, still laughing, he took off running down the street the way they'd come.
"Bloody sodding hell," Draco mumbled. "Chasing after the stupid sod again? Honestly." But still, he took off at a quick run, following Harry out of Hogsmeade.
They ran until they were out of breath and half way back to Hogwarts.
A/N: Lots of thanks to all the reviewers of the last chapter, who inspired this quick update. And I forgot to mention in the last chapter, special thanks to Ani for the one line Draco says about liking darkness only if he's pushing Harry into it, when I was stuck. So thanks to Ani! I also forgot to thank the Armchair chatters who helped me come up with some of the near-death incidents Harry suffered in the first two chapters. Though, sadly, the Butt Spiders didn't make the final cut, I appreciate your assistance very much.