Title: Some Kind of Miracle (7/?)
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: 5746
Notes: Beta'd by the lovely Emily, Christine, and Sharon.
6 5 4 3 2 1 P
It is difficult to say who do you the most mischief: enemies with the worst intentions or friends with the best.
- E.R. Bulwer-Lytton
Nearly two weeks passed before Harry came into close contact with Malfoy again. Even during their detentions, they always worked in silence and as far apart as possible. Harry found this extremely odd, considering the number of classes they had together and the extraordinarily high number of encounters they’d had on the first day of school. When they finally did happen across each other, it was in the most unexpected of places.
“You don’t have to come,” Harry said exasperatedly as he climbed the spiralling steps up to the Owlery with Ron. It was Sunday morning, but despite the early hour, Ron had insisted on accompanying Harry on the trivial task of sending out an order for a new winter cloak.
“C’mon, Harry. First you were ill for a week, and then when we got here our timetables were completely different. We never have time to talk anymore. Besides,” Ron added, holding up an untidily rolled-up scroll of parchment, “I’ve got to this order in.”
“I could’ve sent it for you,” Harry said with a shrug. He tried to shut out the tiny voice at the back of his mind screaming, Don’t push Ron away, too!
A guilty look crossed Ron’s face. “Well, I wanted to avoid being dragged to the library,” he said sheepishly.
Harry smiled. “Of course.”
They ascended the stairs in an uncomfortable silence. Every so often, Ron stole a fleeting look at Harry. Harry, though fully aware of the wariness with which he was regarded, pretended not to notice.
When they entered the Owlery, Harry looked up, expecting to see the familiar sight of a speck of white fluttering down towards him from a sea of brown. He immediately checked himself, remembering, with a pang, that Hedwig had been hit by a Killing Curse gone astray during one of the battles.
“Bad luck, mate,” Ron said sympathetically, accurately interpreting Harry’s expression. “Couldn’t have done anything about it, though.”
“Yeah.” Harry gazed at the rows of school owls. “Feels odd not going to her first with post.”
Ron shrugged. “A lot of things are different now. It’ll take some time to adjust.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “Hermione’s rubbing off on you.”
“Why d’you say that?” Ron asked, looking both affronted and pleased by Harry’s comment.
“You’re a lot more serious now.”
Ron’s smile didn’t crinkle his eyes like it used to. “I guess I’ve realised that life isn’t just about Quidditch and food anymore. Things seem a lot less… I dunno, carefree.”
Harry didn’t say anything in response to this. Instead, he busied himself with finding a suitable owl.
Harry paused in the middle of affixing his order form to the leg of a small scops owl. “Yeah?’
Ron hadn’t moved. “I know you probably want to be left alone right now, and I understand, really, but… are you okay? You can tell me,” he added hastily upon receiving a blank stare from Harry. “If there’s something you want to talk about that you don’t want Hermione to know…”
I think you’ve got it the other way around, Ron.
“No, nothing.” Harry’s owl screeched in protest when he tied the knot a little too tightly. “Sorry,” he said to the creature.
“Well, you seem a little distracted lately…”
Harry stifled an exasperated sigh as he carried the owl over to the window. In an effort to erase all traces of the kiss in the courtyard from his conscious memory, Harry hadn’t told Ron and Hermione about the incident, so they didn’t know about that half of the reason for his recent distractedness. But the other half… they were fully aware of that.
“It’s just a little overwhelming, coming back to school right after the war and all.” Harry pinched the bridge of his nose, just above his glasses. Why couldn’t he bring himself to pour out his worries to Ron? The two of them had always been open with each other in the past.
“Yeah, but that doesn’t explain why you and Malfoy are suddenly so chummy.”
“We’re not.” Harry thrust the owl off his arm and watched it flap off into the distance, aware that a nervous knot was starting to grow in his stomach, the same one that had recently started making regular appearances every time Ron mentioned Malfoy’s name.
“But you haven’t complained about your detentions yet,” Ron pointed out. Harry recognised the suspicion in his tone.
“We don’t really talk much,” Harry stammered. “I mean, there’re a lot of books, so we’re working most of the time…”
“He hasn’t said anything nasty to you yet?” Ron questioned, raising his eyebrows. “He must’ve at least tried to curse you once or twice while Pince wasn’t around.”
Harry couldn’t bring himself to turn around and face Ron for fear that his face would reveal his lies, so he continued to stare out the open window into the clear blue sky. “Honestly, Ron, I don’t think he wants to ruin his last chance at life.”
His mind immediately flashed back to Malfoy’s list, and a number of burning questions he hadn’t had the chance to ask yet popped up. I’ll ask him tonight, he promised himself.
“I wouldn’t be so quick to assume,” Ron said, shaking his head. “He’s not like the rest of us. If he cared so much about life, he would’ve stayed away from You-Know-Who. A bloke who willingly gives up his life to Dark magic is either stupid or mad – and we both know Malfoy isn’t that stupid.”
“That’s the closest thing to a compliment you’ve ever said about Malfoy,” Harry teased. He placed his elbows on the windowsill and leaned forward, enjoying the calming effect the cool breeze had on his jangled nerves. “As for his joining Voldemort’s side… well, I don’t really think he had much of a choice. He was scared. His father was a Death Eater; he must’ve felt pressured to become one too.”
Ron shook his head in amazement. “I can’t believe you’re siding with him,” he said, joining Harry by the window. “Harry, he murdered people!”
“I know, Ron,” Harry said. His voice rose, though he continued to avoid Ron’s eyes. “You think I don’t care? I never said he deserves a second chance! I just think that… that maybe we ought to look at things from his perspective, too. It might be hard to believe sometimes, but he’s still a human being.”
Ron’s anger was unmistakable now. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say that Hermione and Ginny were right about you!”
“How d’you mean?” Harry asked. His own anger evaporated, allowing the uneasiness that had preceded it to edge back in.
“They said you were the one who tipped the vote at Malfoy’s trial. I mean, the rest of the school thinks so, too. Ginny even showed me some cock-and-bull article written by that Skeeter woman… said it was proof that you did it…”
Harry swallowed, gripping the stone ledge under his hands. “About that, Ron…”
“Obviously, I said it was codswallop,” Ron rambled on, “but judging from the way you just defended Malfoy, I’m starting to see how someone who doesn’t know you as well as I do might believe the rumours floating around.”
Ron took a deep breath, as if prepared to give Harry a piece of his mind, and then released it quickly. Apparently he had remembered he was supposed to support Harry through his post-war trauma.
“Who d’you reckon was the one who really freed him?” he asked in a tone of forced calm. “Can’t imagine anyone would be thick enough to…”
Harry’s panic retreated into its dark confines for the moment. The niggling voice that had been urging him to tell Ron all week, however, only grew stronger.
“Didn’t you come to send that broomstick order?”
“Yeah, sorry.” Ron left Harry at the window to search for an owl.
Harry waited while Ron attached his order form to one of the school’s owls. Once the owl had flown away, Harry headed for the door. “Hermione’s probably wondering what’s taking us so long.”
Before Harry could grasp the door handle, however, the door swung open. Harry reflexively leapt back to avoid being hit in the face.
“Watch where you’re –” he started to say indignantly, but he stopped mid-sentence when he saw the culprit.
“Mind your step, Potter,” said the all-too-familiar voice, dripping with scorn.
“Piss off, Malfoy,” Ron said before Harry could think of an intelligent retort.
“Fancy meeting you here, Weasley,” Malfoy drawled. “I would’ve thought there’d be no need for you to visit the Owlery anymore, seeing as you no longer have any relatives to send post to.”
The blood drained from Ron’s face. “Say that again,” he challenged, voice shaking with suppressed rage, hands curling into tight fists at his sides.
“Leave him alone, Malfoy,” Harry said, stepping to the right and blocking Malfoy’s view of Ron. “You’ve got some fucking gall, saying something like that to him. Last I heard, you haven’t got any parents either.”
Malfoy’s eyes narrowed, but his smirk remained affixed. “I don’t know if you’re in the right position to say something so bold, Potter.”
“And I don’t know what the hell you mean, Malfoy,” Harry said, spurred on by the deafening sound of the blood pounding in his ears. Ron no longer existed; for the moment, Harry and Malfoy were back in the world borne from their mutual hatred for one another.
“The Slytherins. My housemates. You’re the reason why their families are dead.” The words were said in a low hiss, unnervingly akin to the sound of Parseltongue. “It’s because of you that they were forced to choose a side, and now they’re suffering the consequences of it. You killed their loved ones; you know that, don’t you?”
Despite Harry’s best efforts to shut out Malfoy’s goads, each word struck him like a well-aimed dart, piercing the thin, protective wall around his doubts. “It’s not – don’t pretend you care –”
“I may not care, but you do.” Malfoy met Harry’s glare smugly. “And you know what, Potter? It bothers the hell out of you, because you’re weak.”
The control Harry had been struggling to maintain shattered. He fumbled in his pockets for his wand, determined to shut Malfoy up once and for all, but before he could find it, he became aware of the cool tip of Malfoy’s own wand pressing against the sensitive skin of his throat.
“Don’t even think about it, Potter,” Malfoy said, using his wand to tilt Harry’s chin up. He smiled at Harry’s sharp intake of breath. “We still have two detentions left, and I’m not ready to carry them out on my own.”
“Then I recommend you withdraw your wand,” Harry said through clenched teeth, Malfoy’s wand jabbing uncomfortably into his Adam’s apple with each word he spoke.
Malfoy drew back. His eyes flicked over to where Ron stood, apparently too confused by the exchange going on between Harry and Malfoy to think of a suitable curse, and his eyebrows raised a notch. Then, without a word, he turned and walked away.
“Didn’t you come here to send something?” Harry blurted out after Malfoy’s retreating form in frustration.
“I’ll come back when the environment is more sterile,” Malfoy responded, waving his wand over his shoulder without looking back.
Harry would have chosen that moment to throw a hex at Malfoy, but he was distracted by a strangled yelp behind him. He wheeled around to see Ron clutching his right hand, glaring down at his wand, which lay at his feet.
“What’s wrong?” Harry asked, thoughts of Malfoy momentarily fleeing his mind.
“My wand! It burned my hand!”
Harry bent down and picked up Ron’s wand. He examined it closely before handing it to Ron. “You must’ve gripped it too hard or something.”
Ron took his wand back, his expression sullen. “I’m going to make sure I murder that slimy bastard with my own hands someday,” he swore, his lips curling back in an indecorous snarl.
“Make sure you let me have a go at him before you finish him off,” Harry said darkly. It seemed, after all, that Ron was right. Malfoy really didn’t deserve sympathy of any sort – no matter how many lists of things to do in the next nine months he made.
Draco’s heart pounded rapidly as he raced down the spiralling staircase leading from the Owlery. He was both delighted and nervous at once; delighted because he had finally satiated a part of his desire for revenge against Potter, but nervous because he didn’t know how long their current standings would last before Potter retaliated.
Still, he never would have expected Potter’s line to be one so easily crossed. Draco had always suspected that death was one of Potter’s weak points, but he’d barely managed to contain his surprise when it took only a few well-placed comments to push Potter over the edge.
It looked like the hero wasn’t invincible after all.
The first thing Ron did when he and Harry returned to the Gryffindor common room was recount every detail of their encounter with Malfoy to Hermione. Hermione listened raptly, shaking her head every once in a while, but otherwise making no interruptions.
“And then he walked away, just like that.” Ron snapped his fingers. He seemed to be replaying the scene in his head, because an ugly scowl appeared on his face. “Can you believe it, Hermione? After everything he’s gone through, he still hasn’t got a scrap of decency in him!”
“I think it’s going to take a lot more than a death threat to turn Malfoy around, Ron,” Hermione said with a sigh. Her gaze briefly flitted over to Harry. “He hated your family, so I doubt he feels any remorse for what he did. But to sink so low…”
Harry said nothing. His rage had cooled down. Now he felt – and there was no other way to describe it – betrayed. It was as though the vulnerable side of Malfoy that Harry thought he had seen the night of their first detention had been nothing more than a figment of Harry’s imagination, an illusion that Malfoy had, with a few biting remarks, trampled on and destroyed.
“He made Harry out to be a murderer, too!” Ron exclaimed. “As if it’s Harry’s fault those Slytherins’ parents chose to join You-Know-Who… Harry, you shouldn’t have let him get to you…”
Hermione looked concerned as she turned towards Harry. “You know he was just trying to provoke you, right? Malfoy’s made a living out of locating people’s weak spots. He knows exactly what to say when it comes to hurting you, Harry. You shouldn’t listen to him.”
“Maybe he was right,” Harry said dully.
“Harry!” Ron looked outraged. “Don’t tell me you believe him!”
Harry picked at a hole in the arm of the sofa he sat on. “I did a lot of things during the war that neither of you know about.” And a lot of things after it that one of you doesn’t, he added silently.
“We may not know much of what happened, but Malfoy knows even less,” Hermione pointed out. She didn’t look upset or angry, just determined to have Harry hear her out. “Who do you think knows you better? Ron and I or Malfoy?”
“You, but –”
“But you still think Malfoy is a better judge of your character?”
“I didn’t mean –“
“Then why don’t you trust us when we tell you you’re not a murderer?” Now signs of agitation were beginning to creep into Hermione’s voice. “How many times do we have to tell you that you’re not at fault before you finally start to believe it? Harry, it’s been nearly a month since the end of the war. It’s time you stopped lingering on what happened.”
“Yeah, she’s right,” Ron added before Harry could open his mouth to defend himself. “You’re a completely different person now. Everyone’s noticed it. McGonagall even came up to me the other day and told me to keep an eye on you, and she never talks to me unless she’s got something important to say.”
This time, Harry was determined to get a word in. “You’re both worrying too much!”
“Who’s worrying too much?” asked a voice behind Harry.
Harry turned. Ginny stood at the foot of the stairs leading to the dormitories, her eyebrows raised. “What’s going on?”
“We’re trying to tell Harry he didn’t kill anyone who didn’t deserve to die,” Ron said as Ginny walked over to Harry. “Maybe you can talk some sense into him.”
“I’m not his mother, Ron,” Ginny said, rolling her eyes. Nevertheless, she put her hand over Harry’s and asked quietly, “Run-in with Malfoy?”
“How’d you know?” Harry said wryly. “It’s nothing. He badmouthed your mum and dad, and I lost my temper.”
Ginny’s lips tightened. “What did he say?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Ron cut in angrily. “The fact still stands that he’s a scumbag who isn’t fit to talk crap about anyone. He ought to be in Azkaban chatting it up with the Dementors, not over here gloating about how many people he helped finish off!”
There was silence, and then Hermione spoke, her tone making it clear that she was finished with their conversation. “I’m going to head down to the library now.”
“You haven’t stopped by yet?” Ron asked. This startling fact seemed to be enough to distract him from thoughts of his and Harry’s encounter with Malfoy. “I thought for sure you would’ve run up there the moment the start-of-year feast ended.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Ron. Of course I’ve gone to the library. Just because we’re dating doesn’t mean I’m obligated to keep you updated on every waking moment of my life.”
“Oh, is that why you never come down to supper anymore?” Ron looked very miffed. It seemed he did think he deserved to be informed of Hermione’s daily activities. “You’re not meeting someone up there, are you? No secret meetings, like the ones you had with Vicky?”
Hermione shot Ron a withering glare. “Honestly, that comment doesn’t even warrant a reply. But if you must know, I’ve also been visiting Lupin to stay updated on what’s happening with the Order.”
Ron straightened up. “Why didn’t you tell me you were going to see him? I would’ve gone with you! Lupin never has time to talk after class.”
“Ron, you have more free periods than I can count on one hand. Can’t you go see him during one of those?”
Ron muttered something about prefect duties. Hermione clucked her tongue but said nothing more.
“Do you want to go outside and play Quidditch, Harry?” Ginny asked in the silence that followed.
“Brilliant!” Ron said eagerly. “I haven’t flown for ages. What d’you say, Harry?”
“I wasn’t asking you, you dolt. He’s right, though, Harry. It’s nice outside, and it’s been a while since we last played. Chances are McGonagall won’t end up reinstating inter-house Quidditch, so we’ll have to organise games on our own from now on.”
Harry perked up slightly at the talk of Quidditch. Of course – Quidditch would make him feel better in an instant. He wanted nothing more than to streak through the air with no restraints, to feel the familiar swooping sensation that weakened his knees and made him feel weightless.
“Good idea,” he said, standing up. “Know anyone you and Ron can borrow brooms from?”
“The school should still have some in the broom shed. We can use those for now.”
“But those are practically falling apart!” Ron protested, looking scandalised at the idea of riding on such unseemly brooms.
Ginny glared at Ron. “Do you have a better idea?”
Ron wilted under Ginny’s fierce glare. “No, not really.”
“Then let’s go.”
Over at the other end of Hogwarts, Draco had just arrived at a very profound conclusion: Sundays were, without a doubt, the most pointless day of the week. They were cowardly, nestling safely in between Saturday, the peak of the weekend, and Monday, the beginning of the week to avoid getting caught in a rush of activity. They were also lazy and sluggish, existing purely to satisfy one’s inner sloth. People spent Sundays loafing about their common rooms, attempting to finish extra homework while really discussing relationship troubles or playing games of wizard chess. Nothing was ever accomplished on Sundays.
In short, Sundays were the bane of Draco’s current existence.
There was once a time when Draco would have welcomed the arrival of a Sunday. It meant he could slink back down to the cool shelter of the Slytherin common room, where he’d employ his fellow housemates (usually first years) to nick food from the kitchens for him.
But Draco was no longer in a position to exercise that kind of power. The Slytherins were no longer scared of him. In their eyes, Potter’s involvement in the outcome of Draco’s trial was proof that he was a disgrace to the ideals of their house. Rumours about Draco’s relationship with Potter’s side spread faster than dragon pox; hard stares chased him out of the common room every time he ventured in. Needless to say, the comfortable Sundays Draco had once enjoyed were no more.
This particular Sunday found Draco walking towards the Quidditch pitch, arms wrapped around his middle in a feeble attempt to ward off the chill setting in. The sun was just beginning to set, and the grounds were swathed in rosy hues of purple, red, and orange. Draco might have stopped to enjoy the beauty of the scene before him if he hadn’t been so preoccupied with the fact that he now had one less Sunday afternoon to waste away before his imminent execution.
“Bloody Potter,” he swore under his breath, though he knew it was partly his fault for not making better use of his time.
Draco instinctively glanced up at the sky as he neared the pitch. A pang of longing passed through him at the sight of the six hoops gleaming gold in the waning daylight. It had been over a year since he’d last sat on a broom, and sight and smell of the Quidditch pitch made his desire to fly again rise within him, so strong he could almost taste it.
Not a chance, he reminded himself gloomily. Of all the things he’d been allowed to purchase at Diagon Alley, a broomstick had not been one of them. After all, McGonagall couldn’t have the school convict escaping the grounds by air.
Draco stepped through the spectators’ entrance and onto the field, his shoes sinking into the soft turf. He breathed in the smell of damp earth, remembering the endless hours he had spent practising on this very pitch – practising to beat Potter just once, a feat he had never managed to accomplish.
The sound of a distant voice made Draco tense. Someone else was on the pitch.
He ducked behind the stands and waited with bated breath, trying to ignore the cobwebs tickling his nose. Being found meant another detention – at the very least.
“I’m fine, really. I just want to take a few more laps around the goalposts.”
Draco strained his ears. The voice – he was sure it was male now – sounded vaguely familiar, but he wasn’t close enough to recognise it.
“We don’t mind waiting for you down here,” said a second voice, this one female.
“Yeah, it’s not a good idea to stay out here alone in the dark,” a third person added. “McGonagall will kill us if she finds out we left you by yourself.”
“I’m sure. Go on – I won’t try to escape on my broom.”
The girl laughed. “Well, that’s a relief. We’ll see you later, then. Don’t forget, dinner’s in half an hour.”
“Yeah. See you.”
Draco shrunk back as the sound of the boy’s friends’ footsteps drew near. When they walked into view, he tried to get a good look at their faces, but the falling darkness made it difficult to see. To Draco’s relief, neither of them glanced in his direction as they left the pitch.
Now’s a good time to leave, Draco reasoned once the sound of the boy kicking off reached his ears. He won’t see me from up in the air…
Curiosity, however, kept Draco glued to his spot. Even though he had nothing to gain from it, Draco wanted to know which of the Hogwarts students loved flying so much he would rather stay in the chilly night air and practise alone than return to the warm castle with his friends.
Draco crept forward until his view encompassed the entire pitch. He searched the skies, squinting to see in the darkness. He could make out a faint blur streaking across the starless evening sky, but nothing more than that.
Frustrated, Draco stepped out from behind the stands. He watched as the boy circled the distant goalposts twice. Even though Draco’s view was limited, he had to admit that whoever the kid was, he had excellent form. His body was so seamlessly aligned with his broom that it was almost as if they were one.
As Draco continued to watch, the boy effortlessly completed three tight loops in the air before turning sharply into a dive, out of which he easily pulled a metre or so above the ground. He then slowed down until he was drifting about languidly, the soles of his trainers grazing the tips of the long grass on the field.
Draco let his breath out in a hiss. He’d recognise that flying style anywhere. For countless years he had resentfully studied those sharp, quick manoeuvres, secretly tried to learn that skilfully controlled dive.
How could he not have known the person unknowingly sharing the pitch with him was Harry Potter?
“I saw you on the Quidditch pitch.”
Harry’s hand paused halfway to the bookshelf. Malfoy rarely broke the silence first. “What did you say?”
“I went out to the field and saw you flying.” Malfoy’s eyes were fixed on the book whose cover he was carefully realigning. “I watched from the stands.”
“Oh.” Harry lowered his hand, thrown off guard. “What were you doing outside at night? McGonagall said –”
“I know what McGonagall said.” Malfoy tapped the spine of the book on his lap; it rebound itself noiselessly. “I don’t care.”
“You should. She’s the reason you’re still alive.”
“Don’t transfer the blame onto someone else, Potter.”
Harry made a noise of disbelief as he checked the rest of the books on the second shelf for loose or torn bindings. “I suppose you still think I didn’t do you a favour by saving your life.”
Malfoy put his book back, pulled out another one. “You don’t care that I was watching you?”
“Not particularly. It’s not like I was practising secret Quidditch strategies. I’m more worried about your being allowed to roam the grounds freely.”
“‘I won’t try to escape on my broom’,” Malfoy quoted with a smirk.
“Right,” Harry said. He found it slightly disconcerting that Malfoy had memorised what he’d said. “You heard that?”
“Is there a problem with my hearing it?”
“No, it’s just that –”
“Don’t bother explaining yourself.” Malfoy shot Harry an appraising sort of look. “For someone who likes to snoop around in other people’s business, you sure do hide a hell of a lot of things from your friends.”
“They’re better off not knowing everything.”
“How valiant of you to try to protect them from the horrific details of your sins.” Malfoy stood, brushing his robes off. “Well, that was a nice little chat. I’ll be on my way, then.”
“Hold your Hippogriffs.” Harry waved his wand, and the book Malfoy had left on the floor flew back into its place on the shelf. “I have a few things to discuss with you first.”
“Make it quick, will you? I’ve already seen too much of you as it is, Potter.”
Harry took a deep, steadying breath. “Fine. First of all, don’t ever say a word about the Weasleys again.”
Malfoy rolled his eyes. “Because I have all the reason in the world to listen to you.”
“You should know that what you said to Ron was low, even for you. Besides, you owe me.”
“My life, not my courtesy,” Malfoy replied coolly. “I have no remorse for what I did, Potter. On the contrary, I’d say the world should be thanking us for ridding it of two more Weasleys.”
Revulsion and hatred swelled up within Harry. “‘Us’? There is no ‘us’ anymore, Malfoy. The Death Eaters are all in Azkaban, and you were never really one of them to begin with. I can’t believe you,” he added, slowly and disgustedly. “It’s a bit rich for you to be bragging about watching your dad’s mates murder two innocent people after you couldn’t even bring yourself to kill Dumbledore while he was at your mercy.”
Malfoy’s face visibly blanched. “How did you know?”
It took Harry a few seconds to remember that he had been immobilised behind the door. “It doesn’t matter how I know. Either way, you couldn’t do it. You’re not a murderer at heart, no matter how much you try to convince yourself and other people.”
“I suppose you’re going to use that bit of information to blackmail me,” Malfoy said. He arched an eyebrow, silently daring Harry to affirm this. “And here I was thinking Gryffindors were supposed to be decent, honest folk…”
“The same way you’re trying to blackmail me?” Harry said, ignoring the quip. “You can tell Ron, by the way.” He crossed his fingers behind his back, hoping his strategy of reverse psychology would work. “I might as well get a laugh out of watching you try to convince him.”
“I don’t need to rely on that particular secret of yours anymore,” Malfoy said. His eyes gleamed silver for a split second before fading back to dull grey.
Somewhat nonplussed, Harry thought for a moment to ask Malfoy what he meant. Then, figuring Malfoy wouldn’t tell him anyway, he decided to continue with what he had been saying before. “Second of all, I want to know more about your list.”
“What’s there to tell you?” Malfoy said, a guarded tone creeping into his voice. He folded his arms across his chest, as if protecting himself from Harry’s questions.
Harry suddenly felt awkward. Perhaps it was too much for him to ask Malfoy about the list. After all, it was probably a personal topic…
“Why’d you write it?” he asked anyway.
Malfoy shook his head and shouldered past Harry. “Leave me alone, Potter. I want to go to sleep.”
“Wait,” Harry said, grabbing Malfoy’s sleeve. “I thought maybe… well, I thought I could help you do some of those things.”
Malfoy turned around. For a moment, he looked confused; then his usual mask of cold indifference slid back into place. “Seeing as your definition of assistance involves drawing my death sentence out longer, I can’t say I’m too eager to accept your aid.”
“Will you ever shut up about that?” Harry asked irritably. “Do you want me to lend a hand or not? Felix Felicis isn’t easy to brew, you know.”
“In case you don’t remember, Potter, all of your achievements in Potions were brought about by Snape’s book, not your own aptitude. So no, I don’t need you to help me brew the potion.”
Harry bit his lip. He won’t change, a small voice in the back of his head insisted. You can’t do anything for him. Just leave him alone.
Still, Harry refused to believe what logic deemed reality. After all, reality had deceived him countless times already; too many times, in fact, for him to trust its validity anymore.
“Well, what about any of the other things?” he asked, wincing when Malfoy shot him a disbelieving look.
“Honestly, Potter, what’s wrong with you? You’ve helped enough by lending your lips.” Malfoy tried to tug his sleeve out of Harry’s grip. “I’m not going to accomplish anything if you keep detaining me after detention like this.”
Frustrated, Harry let go of Malfoy. “Why do you always try to do everything on your own?”
“Oh, and you don’t?” Malfoy shot back.
“The difference between you and me is that I can manage on my own and you can’t! You may not realise it, but you’ve had someone else to do shit for you all your life, Malfoy.”
Malfoy scowled. “I managed while I was working for the Dark Lord. I was a Death Eater. Death Eaters don’t accept assistance from others.”
Harry gave a short bark of laughter. “You’d like to think that’s true, wouldn’t you? Why don’t you just give up and admit to yourself that you’re glad you have another chance at life? You wrote up a list of things you want to do before you die; that pretty much gives you away.”
To Harry’s surprise, Malfoy flushed pink. “Don’t think you understand how I feel.”
“I don’t,” Harry said. “If I did, I wouldn’t be wondering how the hell you can kill another human being and not feel the slightest bit guilty. But dying is something universally feared, which is why I want to help you, even if you don’t deserve it.”
Malfoy’s lower lip trembled for an instant, and Harry felt a faint stirring of panic. Then Malfoy turned away and the panic disappeared, leaving Harry feeling annoyed, furious, and everything else he usually felt in the other boy’s presence.
“Tomorrow’s our last detention,” Malfoy said in a low voice. “You’d better not forget about it.”
Our last detention. The words echoed in Harry’s head long after Malfoy disappeared around the corner. Of course; there was only one section left in the library for them to go through. After that, they were free of the punishment McGonagall had set.
A strange, heavy feeling settled in Harry’s stomach. He stood for a moment, perplexed, trying to figure it out. It was almost… disappointment. But that didn’t make sense; he was supposed to hate his detentions with Malfoy.
Harry sighed. It seemed that, as of late, he was confused more than usual. After a few minutes of quiet reflection, he turned around and left the library as well.