Harry sat back from the pensieve. Dumbledore started talking about how Tom Riddle had been breaking the rules and torturing others from a young age. Dumbledore was making it sound as though Tom was destined to go dark from a young age. Harry was barely listening. All of the sudden he understood what Riddle had said all those years ago in the Chamber of Secrets. They were so similar yet they turned out complete opposites, or so Dumbledore was claiming. Harry could not help thinking about his thoughts and actions all year.
Everything Ron and Hermione had said had annoyed him. His temper was increasingly short. Ginny was bothering him all of the time with flirty and annoying actions, he could not count the number of times she just happened to be making out with her current boyfriend in the middle of his path to his next class. Neville was thankfully being decent and was actually fun to hang out with, but he rarely could because Ron and Hermione would drag him away. In fact the only good news was that he was currently passing potions with flying colors, much to everyone's dismay. His brief musings were cut short by a cough from the headmaster who was looking at him expectantly.
"Sorry, sir. I guess I was just lost in thought."
Dumbledore smiled, "Of course, my boy. I was merely wondering about your reactions to this memory. Any thoughts?"
"Sir." Harry hesitated, "I guess I was just wondering if you really find his actions to be that unreasonable. You did after all choose to set all of his possessions on fire."
Dumbledore's eyes widened before he gave Harry a stern look, "It was a fake fire, Harry. Nothing was ruined or even threatened. In any case those items were all stolen goods, they did not really belong to him."
"They were stolen from his tormentors, sir."
"Stolen nonetheless. Besides it was several pieces of little value, not difficult to replace." Not noticing the look on Harry's face he continued, "Now I assume you will need time to process this. I will send you a note before our next meeting."
Unable to believe the headmaster's words Harry opened his mouth to protest the end to the meeting. Dumbledore raised a hand to cut him off.
"Good night, Harry." Harry closed his mouth and battled with his temper.
"Good night, sir." With that Harry left the office.
Harry awoke from a short and fitful sleep filled with nightmares of his little cupboard going up in flames. Although it was far earlier than he would usually wake, Harry slipped on some clean clothes and padded barefoot down to the common room. He sat in on the floor leaning against the couch front of the fire and thought once again about the memory he had seen last night. Some things struck him as odd about the memory and he wished Hermione was here to sort them out. He knew she would be up soon, but he needed to get his thoughts in order before them.
First off Riddle had been introduced to magic and Hogwarts through an actual wizard. A wizard who just so happened to be a professor and head of house. Harry, the supposed destroyer of the Dark Lord, was greeted by a half-giant who had been expelled and at the time was only a grounds keeper. Then Dumbledore had demonstrated his magic by setting Tom's things on fire. What happened to a Patronus or even transfiguring Tom's bed? Hell, he could have even conjured a blanket or two, Tom would probably have been eternally grateful for something like that, Harry certainly would have been. Finally at the end of the day Dumbledore had agreed to let an eleven year old go shopping by himself in London and to find his own way to King's Cross. It was simply ridiculous!
Harry brought his thoughts around to after the memory had finished. Dumbledore had no idea what it was like to own just enough possessions, that were actually your own, to barely cover the bottom of a shoebox. To have someone threaten that it was like having to give up yourself, everything you know. He remembered treasuring the few broken and forgotten toys that he had stolen from Dudley and hidden in his little cupboard. He snorted, in some ways Tom had a better childhood then Harry. As far as Harry could tell the only difference was that he had the Weasley's, Hermione, and Gryffindor. Then for that short while he had a godfather and Remus. Then Riddle had to take them away too. Not that he had ever really blamed Tom for those, no. That blame rested entirely on Bellatrix Lestrange. He supposed another difference might be their parents, but he could not be sure of that.
He spent a little longer rolling ove rthe thoughts in his head. He was interrupted by a gentle hand on his shoulder. Looking up he was Hermione giving him a small smile. She sat down next to him on the floor. They leaned back against the couch behind them and enjoyed the dying of the fire, until Harry broke the silence.
"Hermione how did you get your Hogwarts letter before your first year?"
She looked at him confused, " I got a letter announcing I was accepted at a boarding school and that a representative would be coming by to talk to me and my family about the school. A few days later Professor Sprout shoed up with my letter and explained everything to me and my parents." She shrugged, "Why?"
Harry frowned, "I got over a hundred copies of the letter, and after weeks they finally realized I was not getting them- or at least not reading them. At that point they sent Hagrid. I was so lost in the Wizarding World. Apparently I was famous and they sent a half-giant without a wand to introduce me and protect me. I would have never gotten into Diagon Alley if Hagrid hadn't been sent, the first thing he did was drag me into the Three Broomsticks and tell me how evil Voldemort was. Could you imagine if I had been forced to go alone? How would I have gotten my supplies? Hagrid did not even wait around long enough to tell me how to get onto the platform." He was rambling but he had to get it all out in the open.
"They probably thought your Aunt and Incle had told you, maybe there were directions in those other letters to show you how to get into Diagon Alley. As far as not getting on to the platform- you know how forgetful Hagrid can be at the best of times. It's probably nothing you're just over reacting. What brought this on anyway?"
"Dumbledore showed me a memory from the day he first met Tom Riddle. I guess it just got me thinking about our similar histories and the ways that they were different."
Hermione sighed, "Harry, we've been over this- You and Voldemort are very different people. You rose above your past you could care less about Pureblood versus Halfblood versus blood traitor or even muggle born. You are not a power hungry maniac. Two completely different people."
"Hermione? Don't take this as a dumb question, I really am curious- How do we know that Tom is a 'power hungry maniac?'"
"Everything he's done and everything everyone else has told us about him and his mission. The facts all point to the fact that he is a maniac out to take over the world."
"But that means that we're basing everything on hearsay. What if Tom is just trying to change things for the better. It's like any war. People all fight based on what they believe is right. Who are we to say which side is ultimately right? I mean in all honesty if Tom wins this war he is going to go down in history as the person who was 'good' and 'right.'"
"Harry, you're talking nonsense. Voldemort is killing innocent people!"
Harry nodded and let the subject drop. Although he could not help but think of all the innocent people who were probably Kissed, killed, or rotting in Azkaban. They sat in silence until Ron came down the stairs he frowned seeing them sitting so close together. Harry stood helping Hermione to her feet before he summoned his shoes and his book bag so they could head down to breakfast. He listened to Ron complain about everything from quills breaking to quidditch to homework to Snape. And somehow Snape was responsible for everything else.
"Ron! He's still a teacher show at least a little respect. You're a prefect for goodness sakes, at least set a good example." Hermione scolded him.
Ron made a show of rolling his eyes before leading the way to their usual spots at the table. Harry's mind had been wandering often as of late, it seemed his favorite questions to ponder were 'What if I had let the hat sort me into Slytherin?' or 'What if I accepted Draco's hand?' So far the only things that he really would have come up as being different would be that his friends would support the Dark Lord instead of Dumbledore. Maybe then he would have been able to see both sides of the story. He probably would be sitting over with them as they playfully shoved each other when they thought that no one was looking at them., he would understand what the children thought of their parents loyalties. Not for the first time Harry regretted his choice to become a Gryffindor.
"I wonder what it's like being a Slytherin..." His non sequitor caused half of the table to abandon their conversations in favor of listening in to the Golden Trio.
Ron's fork paused halfway to his mouth, "Why do you care?" he asked with a mouth still full of food. Seeing Ron's partially chewed breakfast caused Harry's already small appetite to disappear completely.
"I guess I sort of feel empathetic towards them. After all it's them against the rest of the school, most of the professors will even turn against them given the chance."
"Your point? Look, mate, their evil, worthless Death Eater spawn. That's why they were put in Slytherin in the first place. It's why we are in Gryffindor because we need to stand against them." Harry coughed to hide the laughter that was bursting through him.
"Although Ron's wording was less than tasteful, he has a point. Obviously they have dark intentions." Hermione put in her own opinion which definitely put an end to his sudden fit of giggles.
"You know, it's funny, but I don't remember the Sorting Hat mentioning that the key Slytherin trait is 'evil git, who is loyal to the Dark Lord Voldemort' I have no idea how I missed that..." He rolled his eyes before picking up an orange and tediously attempting to remove the peel in a single piece.
Hermione glared at him, "Be that as it may be the Slytherin's have closed themselves off from the rest of the houses. They are no more willing to accept us then we are to accept them." Clearly thinking that she had sufficiently closed the subject, Hermione turned back to her breakfast.
Knowing that they were never going to listen to him, Harry continued peeling his orange. He felt eyes looking at him and turned to look at he head table. Sure enough three sets of eyes were staring in his direction. Dumbledore looked as though he was afraid of losing his favorite toy, although he quickly covered it up with a smile that did not quite reach his eyes. A quick glance at McGonagall looking proud in his direction. He was mostly focused on the almost smile that was gracing Snape's face. As Snape was listening to the headmaster his eyes never left Harry's. After the professors all turned back to their own meals, Harry could not help but wonder how they had known what he was talking to his friends about.
After breakfast classes went by as usual, well except for in Defense. Harry was sitting at his usual seat not paying attention to Snape, he already knew this spell anyway, when Snape called him out. Expecting to lose points Harry was reluctant to listen to his professor but was surprised when he merely asked him to demonstrate the spell that they were learning, albeit in a snarky, sarcastic way. Performing the spell, Harry waited for the reprimand of being famous, and lucky along with a correction of his practically flawless technique followed by a loss of points. Imagine everyone's surprise when-
"It appears, Mr. Potter, that you have finally found something that you are almost decent at." Snape remarked before walking away with a flourish and casually saying over his shoulder, "Oh and five points to Gryffindor."
The room was practically silent, Hermione dropped her book onto the floor, Neville began diligently practicing the wand movement, the Slytherins looked betrayed, and Harry watched in shock as Snape moved back to the front of the classroom. Compared to that the rest of the day was incredibly normal, well for a school that taught magic anyway. By time dinner rolled around the entre school was in shock. Snape had apparently decided that he needed to make a statement and it was very effective. That day the snarky, greasy, defense professor had given Gryffindor 20 points, Hufflepuff earned 10 points, Ravenclaw was awarded 25, and Slytherin barely scraped the lead with 35 points. Snape had even gone so far as to take points away from Slytherin, not enough to make any real difference but still. Harry was not sure what had brought this around but felt that it proved his point at breakfast nonetheless. Harry was debating whether or not to bring the subject up again when Hermione cut into his thoughts.
"For goodness sakes, Harry! One good day does not make up for the last six years!"
"No, it doesn't. But it does prove that he is not quite the same person we all thought."
"They only do things that will help them in the long run."
Harry cocked his head to the side, "How does giving points today help Snape in anyway shape or form? And if it does why today and not everyday or any day since we started school?"
"Well it... Of course it... I.. Fine I don't know. But I'm sure that it does." She said in a very non-Hermione fashion.
"Mate," Ron cut in after taking a drink of his pumpkin juice, "If you really think that they are willing to change, why don't you go over there and offer an apology to Malfoy?"
"Maybe I should. Offer the friendship that I turned down all those years ago. At least it will give him a good laugh."
Ron started laughing, "I was kidding. But hey if you want to go ahead." He choked down another bite of food, "Hey! If he says 'yes' I'll dye my hair green!"
Harry grinned, "Deal."
"Wait, if he says 'no' you dye yours."
"Fine by me."
That said Harry stood and Ron turned back to his dinner, still chuckling softly to himself. Walking over to the Slytherin table seemed to be a gossip worthy even if the whispers in the hall were anything to go by. Harry was more than willing to confront the blonde, but at the same time he was more than a little apprehensive. If the blonde turned him down then he basically lost all hope of ever convincing his friends that the Slytherins deserved a chance. In the meantime, he also had a favor to ask of the blonde. By the time Harry had made it over to the Slytherin table, stopping behind Malfoy, the entire Hall had gone silent. Everyone knew about their rivalry and were very interested to see the inevitable fight.
"Potter." The blonde stated not looking up from his plate.
"Malfoy." The Gryffindor's cordial tone caught Malfoy's attention as he turned to look up at Harry.
"What tempted you to come grace the snakes with your presence?" The tone was sarcastic, but the interest and curiosity were clear in his grey eyes.
"A bet that I just could not refuse."
"And this bet has to do with me how?"
"Before we get to that, I want to say that I am genuinely sorry for all of the crap I've done and said to you over the years. I have to admit that was not very Gryffindor of me. Second, I want to ask you if your offer from before our Sorting still stands? Or if you would be willing to accept a truce of sorts?"
"Why the sudden change of heart?"
"Let's just say that I was inspired by one ex-potions professor. Besides," Harry leaned in closer to Malfoy and continued in a whisper, "If you agree Ron is stuck with green hair until he can find a counter charm."
Malfoy grinned, "Why didn't you start with that in the first place?" So saying Malfoy stood and accepted Harry's hand.
"This is going to be absolutely hilarious."
"Potter? The Weasel is currently trying to escape the humiliation I was promised."
"Can't have that now can we." Harry stated, and with a muttered charm Ron's hair turned Slytherin green.
"Come now, Potter, surely you can do better than that?" Harry grinned, and cast off another charm that dyed parts of his hair a bright neon green.
Malfoy sighed, "It looks like I will have to teach you."
Malfoy raised his wand and flicked his hand at the ex-ginger, whose hair suddenly was layered with every different shade of green imaginable. It was hideous. The two new friends found themselves laughing along with the entirety of the Great Hall as Ron's face turned a bright crimson against his green hair. Ron's face was priceless as a giggling Hermione transfigured a mirror for him. The boy glared at his laughing housemates as he ran from the Hall.
A sulking Ron and a lecture from Hermione forced Harry to escape from the common room and find a place away from the rest of the school who seemed to once again be against him. He sighed as he kicked a wall, in a useless attempt to get rid of his anger. Walking towards the room of requirement Harry once again found that it was occupied by one Draco Malfoy. Or at least he assumed that was the case seeing as the stupid room would not show him, much less let him in. Sneaking off to an classroom just down the hall, Harry decided to make the best of what he had. Harry put up a silencing charm and began taking his frustration out on the furniture and supplies found in the classroom. Two hours later curfew cut his anger management short, cursing himself for forgetting his cloak he set about fixing his mess. When the room was mostly presentable Harry removed the silencing charm and stepped out into the hallway. Casting a quick tempus Harry noticed that there was no way in Hell he was going to get back to the Tower on time.
"Having fun, Potter?"
Harry felt his shoulder slouch slightly and looked up from the ground. A few feet away from him leaning against the wall was one tall, blonde, Slytherin boy. Harry hoped that Malfoy would remember their so called truce from dinner.
"Not really. You?"
"Not as much as I would like to be."
Malfoy apparently decided not to attack and stood to walk with Harry as they continued away from the Room of Requirement.
"What is the great Harry Potter doing out so late?"
"What is the junior Malfoy doing in the Room of Requirement?"
"...You do realize that it is rude to answer a question with a question right?"
"You do realize that I don't care. Besides you just did it as well."
"I thought we were friends, Potty?" Malfoy stuck his lip out in a fake pout.
Harry laughed, "I haven't hexed you yet, have I?"
They reached the staircase and Malfoy went to head towards the dungeons.
Draco sighed, "Yes, Potter?"
"You know how there is a Hogsmeade weekend coming up?"
Draco gave him a cautious look, "Yes."
"I was wondering if we could meet up for lunch? There's a couple of things that I want to ask you about."
"Why can't we talk about them now?"
"Because the paintings can hear every word that we are saying."
"Hog's Head, 1 o'clock?"
"Don't be late."
With that Draco walked off to the dungeons and Harry continued onto the Tower. For once Harry made it back without any problems and slipped up the stairs and into his bed. Hopefully he would have all of the answers he needed after talking with the young Malfoy. With a sigh Harry rolled over to sleep and drifted off thinking about all of the homework that he still had to do.
Harry was just as surprised as everyone when he ran in late to Defense a few days and merely got a sneer from their professor. Harry hoped that whatever was putting Snape in such a good mood decided to never leave. Of course since he was late their was only one seat open and Harry was very glad that he and Malfoy had called a truce. As he slid into his space next to Malfoy he was relieved to see the other boy's small nod and tight smile in his direction. Some of the things that had happened between them would probably stand between them for a long time to come, but Harry was not going to complain. When they were told to work with their partners on shield charms he was most definitely annoyed. He hated working with partners, they all either treated him like glass or threw too much power behind their spells in an attempt to beat the Boy-Who-Lived resulting in uncontrolled magic flying around the room.
As he stood up with Malfoy he was leaning more towards the latter. When Harry cast his shield he was surprised to be faced with a well cast diffindo. Harry's shield shuddered, but refused to break. As he put his energy behind his spell he was grinning as he faced the blonde. Four spells later, Harry's shield cracked. Draco did not hesitate as he cast one last spell and shattered Harry's defense. With a grin Harry nodded to the Slytherin and took a stance waiting for the blonde's shield to go up. The instant the spell was cast Harry threw three consecutive spells in Malfoy's direction. The first shook his shield pressing Malfoy back several steps. The second covered the shield in orange before it cracked, the final spell found Malfoy trapped in a leg-locker curse. The blonde nodded at Harry acknowledging his broken shield. Apparently the leg-locker curse went unnoticed by Malfoy. When he went to cast again the Slytherin found himself face first on the ground. He glared up at Harry, who was currently double over in laughter, before ending the spell. After about twenty minutes of practice Snape called the class back to attention. And as Harry slid back into his seat next to the slightly disheveled blonde, he thought that he now had the chance to learn with someone who treated him as an equal.
As the week went by Harry found himself getting more and more excited about the lunch with Malfoy. He already had formed his plans and had a list of questions in his pocket just in case he needed it. He spent almost an hour trying to find something to wear that would look slightly appropriate for their meeting. Harry finally ended up in a green button up shirt, with black jeans, and a simple black jacket thrown over top. Harry figured that he looked halfway decent and somewhat nicer than what he would usually wear. For once he was glad that Hermione had insisted on taking him shopping, even though it felt strange to be wearing clothes that fit. As he walked down the stairs into the common room he was met by a gleeful Hermione and a bug eyed Ron.
"Harry, you look great!" Hermione squealed, "I told you shopping would be worth it."
"Yes, you did. And yes, you were right."
"Mate, what did you do to Harry Potter? Have you seen him? He's a specky eyed git who wears clothes that are falling off of him and- Ow." Ron cut off as Hermione smacked the back of his head and Harry started laughing.
"Very funny, Ron. You guys ready to go?"
The trio left the common room and headed down to the entrance hall to meet with the other Hogsmeade bound students. When everyone had signed out with McGonagall they walked down the path and into the village. After raiding Zonko's and Honeyduke's they stopped to pick up owl treats and something for Crookshanks. Eventually they ended up sitting at their usual table in the Three Broomsticks with three butter beers talking about absolutely nothing. Harry glanced down at his watch, time to go.
"Hey guys, I'm going to go. I meeting someone in ten minutes over at Puddifoot's. Why don't you guys hand out and I'll meet you back in the common room?"
"Is that why you dressed up? You have to give us all the details when you get back!" Hermione offered standing up.
"I won't! But I'll meet you guys back at the castle before dinner, alright?"
"If your sure, we could always come bail you out if you wanted..." Ron trailed off under Hermione's glare.
Harry shook his head, "Seriously guys, I'll be fine. I have a back up plan if I need to get away. Either way I'll be up at the castle for dinner."
Without waiting for another argument Harry turned from the table and walked down the street. Turning several corners to make sure that his friends were not following him he soon found himself in front of Hog's Head two minutes until he agreed to meet Malfoy. Walking into the Hog's Head was as disconcerting as always. He grabbed a table and waited for the blonde to come in. He got several dirty looks from the man behind the bar but did not have to wait long before he saw Malfoy walking in. Seeing Harry already there Malfoy slid into the booth opposite Harry. They began with small talk in order to disinterest the people who were listening in and ordered something to drink. Half an hour later saw them leaving the pub and walking towards the Shrieking Shack. When Malfoy decided that they were far enough from anyone else he turned to face Harry.
"Alright, Potter. We've done the whole friendly conversation thing, now what did you want to ask me?"
"Malfoy." Harry admonished him, "As if I would not find a conversation such as this worthy of spending time with you..."
Malfoy merely raised an eyebrow.
"You wound me." Harry said with what he considered a very affective pout.
Rolling his eyes, the blond smirked at Harry's efforts, "Drop it, Potter."
"Fine. What can you tell me about Voldemort's goals?"
The blond shook his head and looked at Harry as though trying to understand what he had said, "What?"
"I need to understand what exactly Voldemort's goals are for this war. It does not seem fair to me that I have to fight in this war much less that it has to be for the light side. I need to understand where Voldemort is coming from. So..."
The blond was silent as he stared at the Gryffindor Golden Boy. The questions were swirling through his mind as he looked at the supposed Savior. As the two boys looked at each other the taller blonde looked into the honest green eyes and began to talk. Some of the words were what Harry had heard before, but as the pureblood continued he found himself more and more interested in what the Death Eater had to say.
So what do you think? I'm going to be trying some Dark!Harry for this fic. Let me know if I should continue it or just leave it as is for a one shot of sorts! Thanks everyone!