Title: Some Kind of Miracle (3/?)
Author: Annie (_pinkchocolate)
Warnings: Everything up to ch 14 disregards DH
Disclaimer: I just take JK Rowling's world and make it slashy.
Summary: Draco was determined to live the last nine months of his life with no regrets. But when a series of unfortunate events exposes a list of his innermost wishes, ambitions, and desires to Harry Potter’s eyes, he might find that facing his imminent death is not so easy after all.
Word Count: 5358
Notes: Beta'd by the lovely Emily, Christine, and Sharon.
2 1 P
The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.
- Moshe Dayan
Sunday morning dawned cold and clear. When Harry woke up, the first thing he noticed was the sun streaming into his eyes. He blinked several times, yawned, and rolled over.
“Wake up,” he whispered into Ginny’s ear. “We don’t want to miss the Hogwarts Express.”
Ginny stirred and murmured something incomprehensible, but she stubbornly slept on. A small smile played on Harry’s lips as he gazed at his sleeping partner. As promised, they had carried on like nothing had changed between them, and hadn’t done anything the previous night except sleep in the same bed, like they had done every night since the war ended. All the same, it had felt nice to hold her and feel her next to him, to know that she at least was alive and safe and there with him.
Strangely enough, Harry wasn’t as put off by the fact that he’d slept with his best friend’s sister as he’d have expected. Now that he’d had time to (unwillingly) reflect on it, the idea of sex with Ginny – mistake or not – didn’t feel wrong. He supposed it was because trusting Ginny had nearly become second nature to him. Through the jumbled, fragmented memories of the past few days, the one thing that stood out clearest was Ginny: Ginny watching out for him when he was too stubborn to admit he couldn’t watch out for himself; Ginny freeing him from the claws of the past and keeping him grounded in the present; Ginny trying her best to help him overcome his sense of disconnection from his surroundings, even though her methods didn’t always have the intended effect. Harry could hardly believe this strong, wilful Ginny was the same girl who had once been too afraid to speak in his presence.
The war really had turned Harry’s world upside-down.
Taking care not to wake Ginny, Harry shoved on his glasses, climbed out of bed, and stretched his crampled muscles. He had stayed up for the better half of the night, plagued by recollections of the war and by the prospect of returning to Hogwarts and having to put on a pretence of composure everyday.
Harry did, however, feel somewhat better than he had yesterday afternoon. Ron and Hermione had returned the previous evening, and seeing their faces had filled Harry with such immense relief that he’d almost forgotten to be miserable for the night. He had listened with a mixture of rapture and envy as they eagerly explained everything in which they’d assisted the Order, including the capture of two former classmates-turned-Death-Eaters, whom they had revealed to be Blaise Zabini, Theodore Nott – and Draco Malfoy. Caught up in his friends’ narration, Harry had not bothered dwelling over the thought of the unpleasant conflicts this minor detail foresaw.
The evening had passed fairly quickly, and before Harry knew it, the time for them to retire to bed had arrived. Harry had left out the part about his sharing a room with Ginny as he parted ways with Ron and Hermione. There’ll be time to break the news to Ron later, he had reasoned. He hadn’t really wanted to ruin the good mood, anyway.
Harry glanced out the window, pleased to see the sun shining brightly outside. He’d hated the foggy, dull mornings that had dominated much of the week; they had felt stifling and oppressive. The weather wasn’t the only thing he was happy about.
Despite the positive circumstances of the morning, however, Harry still felt unbearably empty. There was a persistent sense of discomfort somewhere in his chest region that could only be attributed to his having lost a part of himself the night the piece of Voldemort’s soul he had carried with him all his life had been torn out of him. Harry shuddered. Though the memory of that incident was barely weeks-old, it weighed down on him like a long kept secret, forging an invisible barrier that isolated him from everyone else.
Shivering in the cold air, Harry searched the room for his shirt. He found it lying neatly folded by the dresser and pulled it over his head, all the while mentally running through the day ahead.
He was almost looking forward to seeing Malfoy, as he could think of no better person on which to take out his frustrations than the only one who was powerless to retaliate. Briefly, he wondered what Malfoy thought about Harry’s accompanying him to school. He hadn’t said very much on Friday when Harry had offered to do it. Harry paused in the middle of tugging on a sock. Why had he offered, anyway?
For the opportunity to torment Malfoy and make him suffer more than he already has without worrying about getting caught by a professor, he drearily answered himself.
Absently running a hand through his tousled hair, Harry plodded over to the ancient mirror and shoved the chair beneath it aside so that he could stare fully into it. There was something disconcertingly alien about his reflection. He recognised the messy black hair, the dark green eyes, the set jaw and tightened lips. Even the scar was there, a cruel reminder of everything he had lived with for the past seventeen years, of which he would never fully rid himself. But something… something had vanished, something that had once made Harry whole.
Annoyed, Harry turned away. Ginny had woken up by now and was lying on her side, watching Harry. Realising that he had noticed her, she smiled sheepishly.
“Sorry, I just like looking at you,” she murmured, her eyelids fluttering as she fought the urge to fall back asleep.
That’s more than I can say for myself, Harry thought dryly.
“How much time do we have?” Ginny asked, sitting up and rubbing her eyes.
“Dunno. We’d better hurry, though. Ron and Hermione are probably already waiting for us downstairs. I’ve got to meet Malfoy at the train station, remember?”
Ginny’s eyes darkened, and Harry winced, remembering how difficult it had been to convince her that he was only trying to help McGonagall out when he had revealed to her that he would be sitting with Malfoy and not her on the ride to school.
“Right,” she said curtly.
They dressed, packed, and left the room in silence, avoiding each other’s eyes the entire time. Harry stopped at the front desk to pay Tom for their lodgings, but the old innkeeper refused.
“It’s been an honour, Mr Potter, an honour indeed…” he said instead, bowing deeply. “Do come back whenever you’re in need of a room…”
“Er... sure. Thanks.”
Harry and Ginny walked over to the dining room. Unsurprisingly, Ron and Hermione had already seated themselves at a small table to wait.
“Why’re you two coming down together?” Ron asked suspiciously as Harry and Ginny approached them.
“Why’re you two sitting together?” Ginny retorted.
Ron flushed. “We were waiting for you. You took a right long time, you know!”
Hermione clucked her tongue and stood up. “Enough bickering. Let’s go. It’s already a quarter after ten.”
“Shit,” Harry swore. Hermione shot him a reproachful look. “We have to move fast, or I’m going to be late,” he explained.
“Late for what?”
“I… er…” Harry faltered. He hadn’t mentioned the Malfoy situation during their conversation the night before. Remembering that Malfoy was one of the Death Eaters Ron and Hermione had helped locate, Harry decided now that it would be best if he didn’t let them know about the trial, at least for the time being.
Unfortunately, there was no way he could keep the arrangement he had struck with McGonagall a secret from his two best friends, especially since Ginny already knew. “I, uh, said I’d escort Malfoy to Hogwarts. Draco Malfoy.”
An incredulous silence followed his words. If the situation hadn’t been so serious, Harry would have laughed at the identical expressions of shock on Ron’s and Hermione’s faces. As it was, he scuffed his feet and tried to avoid meeting either of their stares.
At last, Ginny sighed. “Come on. I’ll explain once we’re on the train.”
Deciding that it would be best not to point out that even Ginny didn’t know the full story, Harry nodded in agreement.
“Harry, are you mad?” Ron choked out as Ginny grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the door. “Malfoy? Why? He’s a Death Eater! Didn’t he get chucked into Azkaban? What’s going on?”
It seemed Hermione was taking the news better than her boyfriend. Indeed, she looked more worried than appalled. “You’ll explain later, won’t you, Harry? Right now we should get going if you’ve got to meet Malfoy.”
Harry couldn’t help admiring Hermione’s collectedness in the face of his confession. Ron, on the other hand, seemed to have lost the ability to utter comprehensible sentences, and was allowing himself to be dragged along by Ginny without a word of protest.
“D’you know how to get to King’s Cross from here, Hermione?” Harry asked, shooting an anxious glance in her direction. She’s right, I’ll have plenty of time to explain once we’re alone, he reassured himself.
“Yes… it should only be about a mile north of us… If we hurry, we’ll get there on time for – when was it you were supposed to meet him?”
“Ten thirty,” said Harry, relieved that Hermione wasn’t asking any further questions. “I’m meeting McGonagall there, too.”
“She’s with Malfoy?”
Harry just barely managed to swerve around an old man walking his dog as they dashed down the street. “Yeah,” he panted, “she’s the one who wanted to bring him back to Hogwarts.”
Hermione nodded and said no more.
Fifteen minutes later, they arrived at King’s Cross, breathless and sweaty from their workout.
“Where are they?” Harry muttered, pushing his hair out of his eyes and looking around frantically. He was ten minutes late; McGonagall was going to kill him.
“Didn’t you say you were going to meet them at the barrier?” Ginny pointed out.
“Yeah, I did,” said Harry, somewhat flustered. What was he so nervous for? “C’mon…”
Sure enough, when the four of them hurried up to the barrier between platforms nine and ten, McGonagall and Draco were already there. Harry jogged over to them, embarrassed. “Sorry for the delay, Professor.”
Malfoy was scowling at Harry in a way that suggested he had been hoping Harry wouldn’t come after all. Harry couldn’t help feeling an inner sense of satisfaction knowing he’d disappointed Draco Malfoy.
McGonagall greeted Hermione, Ron, and Ginny before turning to Harry. “Are you certain you’re willing to take him into your hands, Potter? If you’ve changed your mind, Nymphadora can –”
“It’s fine. I’ll, er, make sure he doesn’t do anything.”
McGonagall nodded. “Very well. I’ll see the five of you at the Sorting Ceremony later this evening.”
Harry bid the headmistress farewell while Malfoy looked on, still scowling. Once McGonagall disappeared into the crowd, Harry turned to his friends.
“You can go on ahead,” he said, addressing all of them at once. “You don’t have to sit with us. Why don’t…”
Harry’s voice trailed off, however, when he caught Ron’s expression. His friend was staring at Malfoy with an uncharacteristically hateful expression.
“Ron?” Harry ventured tentatively.
“I can’t figure out what kind of moron would be thick enough to save you, Malfoy,” Ron hissed, his blue eyes sparkling with wrath, “but I haven’t forgotten what you’ve done.”
The malice in Malfoy’s eyes intensified a hundredfold as he met Ron’s gaze unswervingly. “How kind of you to keep me in your thoughts, Weasley,” he sneered.
Ron’s face turned an impressive shade of scarlet.
“Ron…” Harry said more urgently, sensing danger ahead. It’s a good thing Malfoy didn’t bring up the part about me being the moron who saved him.
Luckily, Hermione chose that moment to step in.
“Let’s go, Ron. Harry will deal with him.” She took Ron’s arm and firmly turned him away from Malfoy.
“Be careful, Harry,” Ginny said as she prepared to follow Ron and Hermione. She gave Malfoy withering glare. “I swear, if you do anything, Malfoy –”
“He won’t,” Harry cut in firmly. He gave Ginny a little push. “Go. I’ll meet up with you lot when we get to Hogwarts.”
Ginny sighed. “Okay, I’ll see you later, Harry.” Without another glance at Malfoy, she grabbed her trolley, pushed it towards the barrier after Ron and Hermione, and disappeared.
“Right –” Harry began to say, turning to Malfoy, but he stopped when he realised that the other boy was bent over and busy searching in his trunk for something.
Irritated, Harry folded his arms and waited. Finally, he heard Malfoy mutter something that sounded like “Thank God” and straighten up.
“Malfoy –” Harry tried again, but this time, Malfoy interrupted him.
“You can sod off now, Potter,” he drawled. “I know you don’t want to do this anymore than I do.”
Harry’s anger surfaced. “I’m not going anywhere!”
“As much as I appreciate the concern –”
“I’m not doing this for you,” Harry snarled. “I’m doing this for Tonks, because I’m sure she has better things to do than waste her time with filth like you.”
“And the Chosen One doesn’t?” Malfoy retorted. He narrowed the eyes Harry had already come to unconsciously dread. “You’ve got some fucking nerve, Potter, taking it upon yourself to follow me around. Considering you’ve already degraded me with your –”
“Degraded?” Harry exclaimed furiously. “Are you trying to say I didn’t do you a favour by saving you from the Dementors?”
“Yes, I am,” Malfoy said quietly. Again, a flicker of terror surfaced in his eyes. Even though it disappeared almost instantly, Harry caught it and couldn’t help recoiling in surprise at the sight of it.
“Forget it,” Harry growled, shaking his head to clear his mind. Seizing Malfoy’s arm roughly, he dragged him over to the barrier and pointed at it with his free hand. “Go.”
To Harry’s surprise, Malfoy obeyed without any further objections. He vanished into the barrier, and Harry quickly followed, not wanting to lose sight of his charge.
To Harry’s relief, Malfoy was waiting on the other side. Harry briefly considered questioning the sudden compliance, but decided the answer wasn’t worth the effort of trying to get a civil response out of Malfoy. He led Draco over to the nearest train door, pretending to ignore the students gawking at him. No matter how hard he tried to block out their stares and whispers, however, his ears still picked up fragments of hushed conversations as he waited for Draco to heave his things onto the train.
“No way, I heard he wasn’t coming!”
“Yeah, well, Mum told me McGonagall was pretty decided about him finishing school.”
“But doesn’t he have other things to do? I mean, he’s the bloody Chosen One…”
“Never mind that, look who he’s got with him!”
“Who is it?”
“You mean… but wasn’t Potter the one…?”
Harry gritted his teeth. It took every ounce of will he had to not turn around and curse the two boys – first years, no doubt – into oblivion.
“You’d better be grateful, Malfoy,” he muttered under his breath as he stepped onto the train after Malfoy and slammed the door behind him.
It was still early, so the train was still relatively empty. Thank God, Harry thought with immense relief, as he searched for an unoccupied carriage. The sooner we’re out of public view, the better.
It didn’t take long for Harry to find an empty compartment. He opened the door for Malfoy to walk through first.
“I don’t want your courtesy,” said Malfoy, crossing his arms stubbornly.
Rolling his eyes, Harry went in. As he struggled to swing his trunk onto the luggage rack, he marvelled over the fact that he had willingly accepted the torture of riding all the way to Hogwarts with only Malfoy for company. He was more than a little disturbed by the fact that he wasn’t as disturbed by the prospect of sharing a compartment with Malfoy. After all, he and his friends had always made an effort to stay as far away as possible from Malfoy’s end of the train.
But things were different now. Several of his usual train companions – including Neville and Seamus – would not be joining him for this train ride, or any of the train rides after it. The sharp twinge of pain this realisation caused made Harry’s sweaty grip on his trunk slip. He braced himself for the inevitable fall, but rather than the pain of the heavy trunk colliding with his head, he felt two arms reach around him, catch the trunk, and secure it on the luggage rack for him.
“For God’s sake, Potter, you’re not supposed to be the suicidal one here.”
Surprised, Harry turned around and blinked. Malfoy was standing right behind him and frowning down at him in an irritated sort of way. The moment their eyes met, however, Malfoy leapt back as if he had been shocked.
Harry cocked his head. Slowly, it dawned upon him that Malfoy had helped him. “Er… thanks?”
“I only did it because you looked so bloody pathetic trying to shove your things up there,” Malfoy snapped, turning pink.
Harry frowned, and any feelings resembling gratitude he might have been harbouring immediately vanished. “You’re one to talk about being pathetic.”
“Yeah, I know, my father was barking mad and I’m set to become just like him,” Malfoy sneered, his sunken features contorting unattractively. He sat down on the seat across from Harry. “Your insults don’t make so great of an impact the thousandth time around.”
“Whatever,” Harry muttered, collapsing on his seat and leaning against the cool glass of the window. Suddenly, he no longer had the energy to argue with Malfoy. He was just so… tired.
Apparently Malfoy didn’t care that Harry was not in the mood to fight, because the moment Harry fell silent, he continued with his tirade.
“You think you’re so special,” he spat out bitterly. “You think having that stupid scar on your forehead and being the one who defeated the Dark Lord means you can go around cocking up other people’s lives. Maybe you do it because you’re insecure and hope that by forcing the whole world to believe you’re their sodding saviour, you’ll convince yourself too; I don’t know; but either way, you chose the wrong life to fuck with this time, Potter.”
Harry stared at Malfoy evenly, unperturbed. So much had happened since he and Malfoy had last talked like this that Malfoy’s petty insults no longer affected him. “Well, aren’t you perceptive?” he said lightly after a brief pause.
For a moment, Malfoy gawked at Harry. He seemed almost disappointed that Harry hadn’t taken the bait. After a few more seconds of silence, he slumped back against the wall, gave an almost inaudible sigh, and fell to staring out the window.
Admittedly, Harry was rather surprised that Malfoy had given up so easily and even more astonished with himself for not losing his temper in the face of Malfoy’s biting remarks. Perhaps, he realised, it was because he felt better when someone was telling him he wasn’t all he was cut out to be. Harry secretly longed to hear that he was imperfect, to hear his deeds being criticised, to hear the truth.
Harry cracked an ironic smile. Imagine that… for once, Malfoy’s the one being honest.
Draco was rather disconcerted by Potter’s smile. Even though he knew it wasn’t directed at him, Potter’s ability to smile at all in his presence was both unsettling and irritating at the same time.
Then again, it’s not like he doesn’t have reason to smile, what with everyone kissing the bloody ground he walks on, he thought sourly.
Even so, Draco couldn’t help noticing the manner of Potter’s smile. It wasn’t quite like the smiles he’d seen on the faces of the witches and wizards who had survived the war. Theirs were bright, hopeful, genuine. Potter’s smile was… well, it wasn’t a real smile. It was a forced tugging up of the corners of his lips, a fake, shallow cover-up designed to fool those who didn’t know any better. (Draco, of course, did.) Potter’s smile didn’t reach his eyes like the smiles on the faces of passersby did. Instead, his eyes remained distant and void of the distinctive sparkle that Draco had grown to associate with a real smile.
Draco shook his head firmly, clearing these musings from his mind. Now was not the time to be studying Potter’s smile. There were more important things to be dwelling on.
Such as the fact that he had nine months left to live.
His insides squirmed uneasily at the thought. Nine months. That wasn’t nearly enough time to do everything he wanted to do. He ground his teeth together, loathing Potter once more for prying into his business. If only he had been allowed to die quickly… to not have to suffer the agony of waiting… but no, that wasn’t good enough for Potter…
“What?” Draco snapped, wondering why he was even answering. He hated Potter, after all.
“Why did you buy all that stuff from the Apothecary on Friday?”
“It’s none of your damned business.”
Potter glared at Draco. “It is if you’re thinking of secretly brewing some explosive potion and using it to take all of Hogwarts down to hell with you.”
“Then in that case, it’s still none of your damned business.”
Potter looked confused. Draco almost laughed out loud. I can’t believe there’s actually a fountain erected in honour of this dolt, he thought incredulously.
“In any case,” Potter continued coldly, “I’ll be watching you, Malfoy.”
“I’m serious,” Potter insisted. He hesitated before adding, “Only because I have nothing else to do.”
Draco shook his head. “Potter, your obsession with me is somewhat worrisome. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to play around with you this year, so I’d appreciate it if you would leave me alone.”
Not until Draco saw the flash of consternation flit across Potter’s face did he realise the full weight of his words. Though he was angry with himself for not thinking before speaking, he quickly seized the chance to make Potter feel worse. “Oh yes, I literally don’t have time.”
“Well don’t come crawling to me for comfort,” Potter snapped, his eyes darkening with anger behind his glasses (the same round-rimmed ones he had worn since first year, Draco noted). “If you want me to get down on my knees and beg you to forgive me for saving your life, I won’t.”
Draco’s lips tightened. “I don’t want your pity.”
“Good, because I wasn’t planning on giving it to you,” Potter replied. Draco was pleased to note that he looked distressed as he said these words.
Sitting back, Draco turned to stare out the window at the passing countryside. He wondered if it would be like this for the rest of the year. Would he spend the last nine months of his life bickering over pointless things with Potter? After all, if Potter really did intend to trail him around the school…
Draco stifled a groan of despair at the thought of being followed by Potter anywhere and checked his watch. An hour had passed since the train had left the station. His heart sank. Six more hours of this?
“Why did you do it?” Draco blurted out. “Why did you step in and save me if you’re just going to stalk me for the rest of the year?”
For the first time since that morning, Potter’s guard seemed to slip a little. He sounded genuinely uncertain when he replied, “I don’t know. I guess… well, the night in the clearing… when Bellatrix…”
Draco’s stomach flip-flopped. So Potter still remembered it. “Oh.”
“Yeah. I suppose I wanted to pay you back… or something. I really don’t know.”
Draco sighed. “You never fucking know,” he muttered, leaning back against the wall of the compartment.
“That’s not –”
“Shut up, Potter, and hear me out. You never have a clear reason for doing anything. Why did you decide to attend Hogwarts when you knew nothing about the school? Why did you agree to join the Gryffindor Quidditch team when you’d never seen a broomstick before in your life? Why did you decide it was up to you to get rid of the Dark Lord just because you were the one he tried to kill sixteen years ago?”
Potter seemed initially taken back by Draco’s rant, but then he adopted a thoughtful expression. “Not killing Voldemort was never an option for me.”
“Why? Wait, don’t tell me – you wanted to be the hero of the wizarding world before someone else stole the title.”
Indignation flashed in Potter’s eyes. Well, that’s good, Draco thought idly. At least he’s showing some signs of life now.
“I had reasons, Malfoy, but you wouldn’t understand, even if I tried to explain. Try to wrap your mind around this one: I wanted to do it. For myself, not for anyone else. I had to do it.”
“I’m sure you’ve never had to do anything in your life.” Stupid Potter, thinking he had it hard. Draco had no doubt Potter had never been forced into doing anything. He had always been allowed to make his own choices and pursue his own path. That was one of the reasons why Draco hated him so much.
Potter snorted. “Looks like you don’t understand much either, Malfoy.”
At that moment, the sliding door opened and the trolley witch poked her familiar round face into their compartment. Draco couldn’t help feeling somewhat surprised that she was still around; he had assumed that after the war, nothing would be the same anymore. But apparently this insignificant fraction of life was.
As Draco watched Potter get up and approach her, he realised how heightened his awareness of minute details had become. Everything – the way Potter shook his hair out of his eyes as he stood up; the way Potter walked with his hands shoved in his pockets and his shoulders slightly slumped forward; the way Potter scratched the back of his head as he debated what to purchase; even the items Potter bought off the cart (one cauldron cake, four chocolate frogs, and a pack of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans) – was perceived and memorised. It was as if Draco had lost the innate ability to filter out the unnecessary aspects of his surroundings.
Perhaps, Draco reasoned, this was due to his impending death. After all, when you know you’ve only got nine months left to see the world, even your worst enemy’s sweet preferences start to matter.
True to his word, Potter refused to let Draco leave his sight for the rest of the train ride. At first, Draco had found this extremely aggravating, but eventually he grew tired of swearing at Potter and gave up. After all, he’d have all the time he wanted to be alone once they got to Hogwarts. Not that he wanted to arrive there any time soon. Or that he had all the time.
The most annoying part of the journey wasn’t Potter’s mere presence, however. It was Potter’s persistence in trying to find out what Draco had purchased at the Apothecary. No matter how many times Potter tried, however, Draco refused to reveal anything.
“Why don’t you tell me why I’m here, first?” Draco fired back after being interrogated by Potter for the eleventh time. “Ever thought of trying that? Maybe if you considered letting me in on something, I’d tell you what I’m supposedly hiding.”
Potter glared at him. “Isn’t it obvious? You’re here because McGonagall wants you to go to Hogwarts and finish your seventh year before you get what you deserve.”
“Oh, very nice, Potter. What an astute observation. Thank you for informing me.”
“Well, what else do you want me to tell you?” Potter yelled back. He seemed to be at his wit’s end. “I’ve already told you a million times, Malfoy; I wasn’t thinking straight! Now can you shut up about the bloody trial?”
Draco smirked. He had forgotten how enjoyable the simple things in life – such as driving Potter up the wall – could be. Deciding that Potter was due for a dose of misery anyway, Draco continued.
“There’s no need to lose your temper, Potter. You’ll need to practise holding it in better if you ever decide you want to save another Death Eater from being tossed into Azkaban.”
Fury settled into the lines of Potter’s face. “At the risk of inflating your ego some more, you’re a special case. I try not to make a habit of letting loose more scum into the world than needed.”
The insult Draco had lined up in his mind crumbled away at Potter’s words. “What do you mean, ‘a special case’?”
Potter stared morosely at the half-eaten chocolate frog in his hand. “I already told you, I don’t know why I decided you deserved another chance. But I do know that I went to see your trial that morning because I remembered that night and how you – well, helped me. And because you’re someone I know.”
“No, I’m not,” Draco replied automatically. “I’m not someone you know.”
Potter looked startled for a second, but then an expression of forced indifference slid over his features. “Right. Of course not.”
Against his will, Draco was intrigued and somewhat disturbed by the change that had come over Potter. He had always foolishly worn his heart on his sleeve, making it an easy target for Draco’s scathing words. This apathetic, bitter Potter was an unexpected change. Frankly, Draco didn’t know what to make of him.
Then again, he reminded himself, Potter’s qualms were for Potter to deal with. Draco had his own troubles to attend to. No matter how hard he tried to forget his impending doom, it continued to lurk in a corner of his mind, occasionally crawling out with bared fangs in moments like these when Potter wasn’t distracting him. Thus, as much as Draco hated to admit it, he was almost grateful for Potter’s presence.
“What was it like?”
“What was what like?” Draco replied instantly, caught-off guard by Potter’s sudden question.
“The war. What was it like?”
Draco’s insides froze a little; he hated the topic of the war. “None of your business.”
“Tell me,” said Potter flatly.
“I’m not your slave, Potter,” Draco snapped. Who did Potter think he was, ordering Draco around?
To Draco’s surprise, Potter did not lose his temper again. Instead, he smiled. Again.
“Thanks, Malfoy,” he said, in an unnervingly cheerful tone.
Draco nearly fell out of his seat. “I don’t want your thanks,” he said huffily. “I didn’t do anything for you.”
Potter’s smile widened. “Exactly.”
“Oh, try not to be too obvious, will you?” Draco replied sarcastically, rolling his eyes and standing up. Potter was confusing the hell out of him, and Draco hated being confused. “Anyway, it’s time we changed into our school robes,” he said, eying Potter’s cryptic smile with some apprehension.
They shrugged on their robes in silence. Once they were finished, they sat back down to await the train’s arrival at the station.
“I’ll have you know right now, Potter,” Draco said coolly as the scenery flashing by the small window of the compartment began to slow down, “I refuse to allow you to shadow me around the castle for the rest of the year. From hereon out, I want nothing to do with you, and I have no doubt you feel the same way – so do yourself a favour and go attend your autograph sessions instead of wasting your time with me.”
Potter’s eyes hardened noticeably. “If it isn’t my place to be giving orders, it’s hardly yours, Malfoy.”
Draco bit back the retort hovering on the tip of his tongue. After all, even he was capable of acknowledging the truth from time to time.