A/N: Woohoo, time for another one! This is my first forced bond fanfiction so I hope you all enjoy it!
A thousand thanks to my beta Arithmancy Master, you're amazing and I give many pixel cookies to you!
'If you can't beat them, join them. I can't remember where I've heard that before but now I know it makes perfect sense. He couldn't beat us so he had to join us. As long as he came out on top, that's all that mattered to him. How can somebody be so shallow?' Harry wondered bitterly to himself, resting his head on his propped up arm at the end of the Gryffindor Table.
Ron and Hermione were sitting across from him, listening to Ginny's animated recap of Michael Corner's mishap in Potions earlier that day, their hands clasped together underneath the table top. Harry wished he could join in, listen and laugh along with them, but he simply couldn't. He didn't have it in him anymore. It wasn't the grief, no, for it was better handled than he thought it would have been after losing so many friends in the recent war. As friends, as a family, they grieved their losses from the final battle together. Now back at school, on Halloween night, the grief was a distant pang.
"And what about Slughorn? What did he do, then?" Ron asked, grinning from ear-to-ear.
Harry watched as Ginny pushed her dinner plate away, smiling mischievously at her brother as she continued to rehash the event. 'What's wrong with me? I should be happy. I should be laughing along with them.' But Harry simply couldn't. He didn't consider himself to be depressed, not in the slightest, but detached. He wasn't sure where he fit in anymore. His purpose was completed, his job done. Ron and Hermione had one another, they were no longer the trio they had once been. Harry and Ginny had decided to go their separate ways after the battle and she had returned to her old boyfriend, Dean Thomas. Harry wasn't needed any longer. The best thing he had to offer his friends, his house and his school now that the war was over, was to win the Quidditch Cup that year, one final time.
Harry was too wrapped in his brooding, his finger flicking bread crumbs across the table and onto the floor, to notice the piece of parchment soaring across the room headed straight for him. It hit him squarely on the forehead, narrowly avoiding knocking his glasses off in the process.
"What the bloody hell was that?" Ron asked surprised.
Harry grumbled, looking down at a piece of parchment sitting, folded like a paper crane, before him. There were sniggers coming from across the hall from the Slytherin Table. He looked up and immediately searched for Draco, his eyes landing on him in an icy glare. He mouthed something crude he wouldn't dare say aloud in earshot of the professors at the blond who merely sneered at him and returned to the feast. His friends flanked beside him, however, were still huddled over in fits of giggles.
Ginny reached out to grab the parchment from the table top but as soon as her fingers touched it she hissed and recoiled as if burnt. "Well that's certainly odd," Hermione commented. The Gryffindor seventh and eighth years sitting around them all looked at Harry curiously watching as he snapped out of his glare at Malfoy before reaching for the paper crane.
When he picked it up it didn't burn his hands as it had done Ginny. He unfolded it carefully and read aloud at the fancy script scrawled on the parchment. "Wotcher, Potter. What the-" but Harry didn't get to finish his sentence. In the lower corner of the parchment was a small drawing of a spider that suddenly sprang to life. From the drawing came not one, not two, but a few dozen spiders erupting from the page.
Everybody around Harry that could see what was happening squealed and jumped away from him, eyes wide with surprise. Ron had flung himself so forcefully backwards he landed near the Hufflepuff table on his arse, his face pale as death. The spiders didn't seem to crawl anywhere but on Harry and no matter how much he swatted at them, as he did manically, they couldn't be crushed or thrown from his skin. They crawled under his robes, up his arms and his neck, over his face, on the surface of his ears. Harry was violently trying to shake them, cursing aloud as he did. The entire Great Hall watched in fixation as he did an odd dance, most confused as to what was going on. Headmistress McGonagall was descending from the head table, her lips pursed and wand drawn. The only ones who seemed to understand what was happening were the Slytherins surrounding Draco Malfoy, who were cackling wildly now.
"Got something under your skin, Potty?" Somebody, Harry guessed it was Blaise Zabini by the sounds of it, called, causing more laughter from his housemates.
"Finite incantatem!" Hermione had her wand pointed at Harry and the spell seemed to do the trick rather nicely. The spiders vanished almost immediately, Harry looked wide-eyed down at his skin, back to normal, although he had a crawling sensation he couldn't shake.
"Thank you, Ms Granger. Mr Potter, do you mind explaining to me what exactly happened here?" the Headmistress inquired, her arms crossed.
Harry, finally rid of the uneasy feeling of spiders, sent a deep scowl over to the Slytherin table where the students had quieted down. "Just a prank is all, Professor," he ground out between clenched teeth.
McGonagall eyed Harry carefully. "Do refrain from such colourful language in the future, Mr Potter. And somebody help Mr Weasley back on his feet," she turned over to Ron, still on the ground looking more shaken than anybody else. Ron blushed and snapped out of his stupor, accepting Hermione's hand of pulling him up back towards the table.
"I've never seen a prank like that before. They're getting inventive," Ginny commented as Harry still was unmoved, standing behind her and eyes narrowed at the Slytherins.
Since the beginning of the term the Slytherins and Gryffindors, most specifically Harry and Draco, had been trying to get at one another more than any other year. The Head boy and girl along with prefects and professors were trying to keep a reign on mostly the eighth years all to no avail. Hermione kept saying they needed to set a better example, how they were the ones at the forefront of the war and they should lead the traumatized, the lost and grieving, in their footsteps but Harry very well couldn't when he was one of them. Most of the Slytherin students had parents in Azkaban or under Ministry probation which explained most of their foul moods especially towards the trio of Gryffindors; they saw it the trio's fault that their parents were in the current positions they were in.
Harry was about to sit down and continue with the Halloween Feast when something caught the corner of his eye. Malfoy's mop of blond hair was moving, bobbing along by itself towards the Entrance Hall. Without a word to his friends Harry grabbed his school bag and followed out after, his eyes narrowed. His friends left in his wake shared knowing looks. "Harry, Harry!" Ron was calling after him but Harry didn't hear or he didn't care to listen.
"He's going to end up getting himself expelled," Ginny groaned, standing up from the Gryffindor Table. Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan, Hermione, Ron and Neville were all following the raven-haired boy who had already disappeared between the two large doors.
"I hate Malfoy just as much as the next bloke but Harry really is going too far these days," Ron commented, everybody mumbling their agreements.
Out in the Great Hall, Harry quickly caught up to Malfoy who was descended to the dungeons. Harry thrust his wand in his direction, effectively locking his ankles in a trip jinx. Malfoy sprawled on his front to the floor while swearing. He quickly gathered himself up. Without turning around, he cursed his attacker. "Potter, what the fuck do you want from me?" he growled, slowly facing Harry who was now directly behind him,
"Me? What do I want from you?! What the hell were you playing at with that bloody prank, hrm? Think it was funny, do you?" Harry spat, jabbing his wand threateningly forward again. Malfoy was eyeing it, his fists clenched at his side.
"I had nothing to do with that," Malfoy ground out, "But yes, it was indeed a good laugh to watch the Wonder Boy dance around like a little girl."
Harry's eyes narrowed dangerously now, he could distantly hear his friends calling him to stop but their voices weren't as loud as the blood rushing in his ears. Just being in Malfoy's presence had him seething. He looked so much like Lucius it made his skin crawl. "Give me one good reason not to hex you into oblivion right now, Malfoy. They should have never let you step foot in here again, you don't deserve it."
Malfoy crossed his arms and raised his eyebrow, stepping forward and towering over Harry as he did, not caring that the boy's wand was now pressed into his chest. "Bipolar now, too, Scarhead? I happen to recall you testifying for me."
"Clearly I was wrong. You should be rotting away in Azkaban with your precious little Daddy."
Malfoy reacted quickly to the words. He shoved Harry's wand out of the way, it clattered to the floor, and he balled Harry's robes into his fists, shoving him hard against the wall not far from them. Harry's head hit the wall with a sickening crack. Malfoy brought his face close to his, his teeth bared as Harry glared up at him. "Don't you ever speak about my Father, Potter."
Harry pushed Malfoy back, shoving him as hard as he could muster square in the chest. "Get your hands off of me, you bloody Death Eat-"
But Harry couldn't finish his sentence. Malfoy's arm had swung back and his bony knuckles collided with the side of his cheek. The force of it nearly knocked Harry back against the wall. His glasses shattered, however, into Malfoy's fist and Harry's cheekbone and nose, the broken pieces falling to the floor. There was shouting now, a crowd of students and Professors alike, but Harry couldn't hear them. Neither he nor Malfoy noticed the black smoke rising suddenly from the ground and the sudden gasps and shouts. Harry ran forward, a deep growl in his chest as he swung back at Draco, connecting hard with his cheek. As he did so, Malfoy grabbed a hold of his shoulders with a vicelike grip and kneed him in the groin. They were in a tangle of body parts, punches and knees when two sets of spiralling light shot out at them. They were both immediately caught in two separate full body binds. Harry fell over on top of Malfoy, trying his hardest to glare down at the immobilized body beneath his own.
The smoke was still heavy around them but slowly lifting, when a voice Harry picked out to be Professor McGonagall's sounded not far from them. "Mr Potter and Mr Malfoy, again! I cannot bel-" but she was cut-off by several gasps and a high pitch scream. Harry wished he could twist and see what everybody else was reacting to but all he could do was look down into Malfoy's piercing, grey eyes glaring up at him as their bodies lay heavily against one another. Suddenly, he felt a nauseating sensation creeping its way from his toes up his body. He felt the body bind being lifted from him but at the same time a pain like no other exploded behind his temples. And then darkness.