Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Chapter 4

The sun's rays seeped into the room, washing over Draco's face, coaxing him awake. He groaned and twisted the other way, trying to snuggle into a pillow that seemed particularly hard, oh he was going to tell Dobby off for this...

Draco jerked awake as he realized that the material beneath him was wood and that Dobby was gone; no longer a servant at the Malfoy household. The ground felt rough and hard against a cheek flushed with humiliation. Apparently all the drama had taken quite a lot out of him and he'd dropped off sometime last night without intending to. At least he took some comfort in the reaction his father would have at the treatment he was receiving at Potter's. He'd go ballistic; nothing less for the Malfoy heir, he would say. Never my son, only the Malfoy heir. And though Malfoy would never admit it, the detachment hurt.

A neatly made bed announced Potter's absence, something that made Draco's eyebrows lift. Draco was more organized than some of his housemates because of his upbringing but he was an only child in his teenage years and had dozens of house elves at his beck and call. He'd never made up a bed in his life and thought it was strange that Potter did.

A sudden, shrill, ringing sound erupted within the room.

Already on the edge, Draco swiveled his head to the tiny plastic square sitting on Potter's dresser, shaking and vibrating. His heart beat in his chest and his hands rose unbidden to his ears, in a weak attempt to drown out the piercing ring even as his hands fumbled for his wand. Holding it in a shaking grip, Draco fumbled with the door knob, sweaty and panicked, almost slipped down the stairs in his rush to make it stop. He skidded into the kitchen, a faint sound drifting by his ear still, and made Potter jump out of his skin. The knife clattered out of the black-haired boy's hands and he stared unabashedly at Draco's disheveled appearance.

'What the heck, Malfoy?'

'Potter, there's a, a…something in your room and it's screaming and it doesn't stop!'


Now Draco was annoyed as well as panicked. This was the boy who was supposed to save the world? We'd be better off with a few flesh-eating piranhas.

'That little plastic box on your dresser! It keeps screaming, Potter, make it stop!'

Potter stared at him uncomprehendingly, then the sound reached his ears.

'Malfoy,' he whispered, 'please tell me you didn't leave the door open.'

'What? Of course I did! I was more worried about being pierced to death than propriety just then. Maybe self preservation is a foreign concept to a mind as underdeveloped as yours, but I'll have you know that the rest us rather like to…'

He never got to finish.

Potter swore, slammed his knife onto the counter, and raced upstairs. Draco frowned in disapproval at the coarse language, his humiliation momentarily forgotten as he wondered what was wrong with Potter now. It was his first morning in the Dursley household and he already hated it. Not only was Potter intolerable, he was also cocky, more sarcastic than Draco would have liked and very, very odd. He'd noticed small things here and there that seemed out of place for the image that Potter had presented of his simple home. He was still getting over the fact that Potter was not granted his every wish immediately. Oh, he'd been aware that Potter didn't particularly like coming home, but he'd thought that if his relatives didn't like him, at least they'd serve him out of fear or admiration. There was no such thing.

Absently, but still on guard for screeching cubes of plastic, Draco looked around the kitchen, taking note of all the oddities. There was a big white slab right underneath the counter with a circular glass window protruding out of it. He wondered what it was for. Aside from that, the blindingly spotless kitchen contained a small machine with two rectangular slots plugged by a long cord to the wall – a wall, seriously? – and yet another rectangular white box with buttons and a clear window. Muggles, Draco decided, had an unhealthy obsession with white boxes connected to walls. A loud thud from upstairs made him pause, then shrug and continue his observations. A moment later, he turned to the door resolving to ask Potter about them, then froze. Standing in the doorway was Potter, head lowered and hand clutching the frame, but that wasn't what he saw. The arm was littered with bruises, standing in stark relief to the pale skin beneath, some already purpling, while others were an unpleasant shade of green. Draco gaped.

'What in Merlin's name did you do to yourself, Potter?' As always when he didn't know what to feel, his voice came out harsh and accusatory.

Potter flinched, as if forgetting he was in front of him, and hastily pulled down the sleeve that had ridden up to expose the marks. His hair was shielding his expression from Draco, to his frustration. Then, Potter looked up calmly and answered in a tone that was almost too nonchalant. Draco was not thick, there was something off about Potter and the obvious fact that he was hiding something. But what?

'I fell off the stairs when I came up with your food last night. I fell on my side so that's where I got hurt.'

Draco didn't believe him, but who was he to interfere in Potter's affairs? If something had happened, it was obviously painful for him, and anything painful to Potter was Draco's pleasure. So he smirked and leant back on the counter.

'Best Seeker in the century and this is the best you can do? Topple down a flight of stairs? I always knew you were only admitted because McGonagall was desperate. There is no other way you could have beaten me.'

To his extreme dissatisfaction, Potter merely shrugged. 'At least you admit that I beat you. How I did it doesn't count as long as I achieve my goal, isn't that right? Isn't that what Slytherin is about?'

Without waiting for Draco's reply, he stepped around him to the cabinet next to the sink, pulling out yet another white object with a strange dial and an even stranger shape. He connected a cord to the wall – what was in that wall? – and placed a container full of milk on it. He calmly stepped over to the biggest rectangular box and retrieved a bunch of strawberries. He sliced the fruit with practiced ease into the milk.

Draco was too weirded out by now to even attempt to make sense of this calm and collected Potter who, apparently, could be mistaken for a houself. Draco was confident that nothing could ever unbalance him agai…

For the second time that day, he let out a startled sound and had his wand pointed at the source before Potter could blink. As it was, the moronic wizard just looked at him blankly; as if he couldn't hear that abominable, inhuman sound of bones crushing together… as if he wasn't standing next to the very thing that was causing it! Pointing his wand wildly at every jerk of the blasted object – what was it doing? – he shifted his gaze to Potter with the intention of demanding him to stop this now, when he caught his smirk.

It looked positively Slytherin. Involuntarily, he shuddered.

Harry was feeling immensely satisfied. After all, making Malfoy lose his princely act two times a day was surely a record and it wasn't even ten o'clock yet! Slowly, deliberately, he switched off the mixer and the ensuing silence was broken only by the faint sound of Draco's pants as he tried to muffle them.

He stood, watching in amusement until he realized that he was wasting precious time and after yesterday he didn't even want to think about what the repercussions of a late breakfast would be… no, he wasn't supposed to think of that. Mustn't. Not if he wanted to go back to Hogwarts.

He ignored the other presence in the kitchen and went about his daily routine: preparing a feast for the Dursley family - what most people called breakfast. The Dursleys were definitely not breaking any fast; he suspected Dudley had raided the fridge again because several oranges Harry had had his eye on had disappeared, along with his fantasies of eating them. As a matter of course, he would be blamed if Aunt Petunia stuck her nose in to check if he'd stolen anything and complain about him eating her family out of house and home. Usually, the punishment wasn't that serious; just a day or two in the confines of his locked room, but now things were different. He had a roommate who'd definitely not appreciate being confined and would demand Aunt Petunia or Uncle Vernon to let him out. His stomach roiled at the thought of his uncle…thank God Malfoy'd bought the excuse…Malfoy!

Harry whirled around, cursing himself for losing sight of the blond, Merlin knows what other Dursley rules he'd break in his absence, and came face to face with said blond whose eyebrow arched in amusement.

'Bit jumpy today, aren't you, Potter?'

'At least I'm not the one who screamed like Moaning Myrtle in a bad mood,' retorted Harry, feeling rather proud of his witty comment.

Malfoy's pale skin flushed with escalating anger and he opened his mouth to retort.

'Who's Moaning Myrtle? And where's my milkshake? I want breakfast!'

Or not.

'On the table, Dudley.'

Dudley stared in confusion. 'You called me Dudley.'

'Yes, it's your name isn't it? Or did you forget?'

His cousin grunted, still looking confused, then saw the breakfast spread and shrugged it off.

Harry let out a relieved sigh at being let off the hook and tried not to be too conspicuous as he hid his battered side from Dudley's piggy eyes.

'So who's Moaning Myrtle?'

'No one,' said Harry quickly, desperately hoping to avoid a scene like the day before, since Dudley was sure to yell if Malfoy mentioned Hogwarts or magic or wizards or ghosts… or made himself known, for that matter.

Dudley grunted again, starting on his second egg, unaware that he was under the scrutiny of a disgusted aristocrat.

Draco had never seen a pig before, but he bet a thousand galleons from his Gringott's account that this was how they ate.

All those distasteful, grunting sounds and the loud smack of lips was giving way to rising nausea and he wasn't sure he would be able to stomach any food right now. True, he had never enjoyed those grueling lessons in etiquette, but for the first time since he could remember, he was thankful for the training. At least when he ate, he didn't repulse everyone in the vicinity.

And there was something fishy about Potter's excuse for looking like one of…them. The quick reply, the shadowed eyes – all of it indicated that Potter was trying to hide something. Draco was not a Slytherin for nothing; reading body language and exploiting it was a basic tool taught to all families who belonged to that house. Lucius himself was a master manipulator and would expect nothing less from his only son.

The question was why Potter would be trying to hide something and what it was. A wonderful thought occurred to Draco: he might be confined to this tiny Muggle building with Potter as a roommate, but it gave him more than enough time to get some very incriminating blackmail material.

His plans to humiliate his enemy brightened up his day and gave him a new goal. So without any further ado, he ordered Potter to bring his breakfast to his room and strutted out of the kitchen.

He did not notice Potter sigh with relief at his departure and slump on the counter, wincing.

Harry was incredibly amazed that he managed to do all his chores, even if he took almost double the time for each. His left arm hung loosely at his side, utterly useless, making it hard to complete even the smallest amount of labor, but what really had him curling into himself was the pain in his side. Uncle Vernon had smirked all through breakfast and it took all his control to stand still and serve him his breakfast. Straightening up was an ordeal and picking anything up was like being under the Imperius curse; his body just wouldn't respond.

Speaking of… he hadn't had any nightmares last night, that was a first. It was the only night since finishing the blasted Tournament that he hadn't jolted awake in a flurry of panic and sweat. At least, at Hogwarts he had Silencing and Repelling charms to keep everyone from noticing. At the Dursleys', however, he had no such luxuries and had to sleep with his head buried in the pillow, surrounded by his bed sheets. They were thin, true, but they functioned well. The Dursleys had not yet come stomping into his room – that was always a plus.

But now that Malfoy and he were sharing a room, what would happen? Of course, since the blond jerk lived to make Harry's existence difficult, he would probably be a light sleeper and would discover Harry at his worst. And he really didn't want that to happen. The pureblood was already bad enough when he knew nothing about Harry's Muggle life, but now he had full access to find everything he'd tried to keep separate from school.

The way Harry saw it, Hogwarts and the magical world had no business in his life at Privet Drive. He saw no harm in being completely evasive when asked questions about it. Harry wasn't stupid; he knew Hermione worried for him, and that Molly Weasley had a lot to say about the Dursleys' treatment of him (what he'd revealed to them, anyways,), but as long as he was with friends, he saw no reason to darken the atmosphere with his tales of woe. He didn't need any more attention and he'd feel uncomfortable with the others' pity. He was a wizard, the Chosen One, and this was simply one of the trials he had to go through as a result. He could handle it; hadn't Dumbledore said that this Muggle environment was good for him? He wouldn't prove the Headmaster wrong again, he just couldn't.

Harry snapped his arm back with a hiss as he righted the pan with his right. Engrossed in his musings, he'd forgotten to avoid using his left side. Petunia and Vernon had left earlier this afternoon to the Garrisons' in the hopes of securing another business deal. Dudley was far too unconcerned with these 'boring' visits to accompany them, and there was no way Mr. and Mrs. Dursley would leave their precious, unremarkable house in the guardianship of two 'freaks'. Harry was surprised they'd even leave Dudley alone in the house with him and Malfoy, but gathered that it was because Malfoy hadn't made an appearance all day. He'd shut the door and personally, Harry did not really want to retreat into the presence of his unwelcome guest lest they started another fight. So far, Malfoy was not on the Dursley radar, but if they had an argument he definitely would be. It was much better if he accepted Dumbledore's advice and acted like the bigger person here. Yes, if he avoided Malfoy and didn't do anything provocative, surely the summer would be far less… disastrous.

He turned back to dinner with a new sort of calm, his mind automatically pushing the jarring events of last night on the back burner and settling into a state of blankness.

There's no need to agonize over such things. This is not Hogwarts and I don't have to be a hero. Here, I'm the Potter boy who is dangerous, odd and far too small for his age. No one expects me to save the world if I don't solve the problem, and I have no one I must be 'fine' for. Except Malfoy.

But I can handle him.

Upstairs, Draco had abandoned his initial disgust for the bed to get some rest. His search for embarrassing information had been wholly unsatisfactory. Not to say that he had not found anything, but the things he had discovered hidden away were hardly good for the epic blackmailing he had planned for the scarred nuisance. All in all, he'd dug up a few broken toys hidden behind the curtains on the window, a teddy bear that looked like it had been mauled by a particularly vicious eagle (or a particularly nasty eight-year-old boy, but he didn't know that) and a book.

It was the last item that interested him most. It was actually an album, he discovered, and seemed worn because it had been flipped through so often. It was cheap and a few pages were crinkled by what he guessed was some sort of liquid; it clearly wasn't meant to be used as an album, but Potter was either too poor to buy a good one (not possible because according to his father the Potters had left the boy enough to last him all his years at Hogwarts and more) or he just didn't care (quite possible, the 'Chosen One' had absolutely no taste).

Draco flipped through the album slowly, a smirk gradually developing on his face. It is perhaps fortunate that one cannot see what he looks like all the time, because if Draco had seen himself, he would have been frightened by his own expression. He flipped back and forth, as if memorizing something, then closed it and slid it back under the mattress where it had been hidden. Wouldn't do for Potter to know he'd seen it before Draco had some terribly excruciating conversation planned, after all. It would ruin all the fun.

Something clattered to the ground and Draco picked it up in surprise.

A wand? Potter's undoubtedly.

But what was it doing in such an inconvenient place? Gryffindors were foolish, he knew, but had Potter gained nothing from his many adventures to learn to be armed at all times?

Then again, Potter's luck was absurdly frequent - probably the only reason he was still alive. That, and his Mudblood parasite. She was the only one in Scarhead's group of buffoons with any reason, too bad her parents were scum. He replaced the wand next to the album, checked for his own in the sleeve of his robes and walked regally downstairs. While keeping him occupied, his hunt for Potter's things had not erased from his mind the fact that he was in a Muggle house, between Muggle people and living with the one person that got on his nerves.

Potter was in the kitchen, cooking for the third time that day.

'Cooking again, Potter? You seem to enjoy it. I'm sure your little friends would love to hear how in touch you are with your feminine side.'

Potter didn't even look at him. Annoyed, he glanced at the rotund menace that had dropped itself into the sofa right in front of yet another rectangular Muggle box. This one also emitted an unacceptable amount of noise which was overwhelming his voice, but there were…things in it: flashes and blurs of color, a heinous amount of orange and some very spectacular explosions. Draco paused, trying to make sense of what was being said, or yelled, rather, but couldn't make head nor tails of it. It sounded like someone was shouting, but the words were foreign.

Curious despite himself, he crept closer, but not too close. Father would've had a fit. On the other hand, he was the one who agreed to send his only son into this filthy Muggle abode in the first place, so Draco felt it within his rights to bend the rules a little. What Father didn't know wouldn't hurt him. He could now make out the…were those meant to look like human beings?

The characters behind the screen had strange, angular faces that were pointedly unrealistic and strange, animated forms. How did they get behind the box in the first place?

And why were they so small? They were nowhere near the size of a regular person.

Was this some undiscovered Muggle species that provided entertainment? Well, he guessed it was entertainment because the Potter's stout cousin was laughing and occasionally punching the air as yet another explosion appeared behind the glass barrier.

Largely unsettled, Draco pushed his thoughts aside to simply watch what appeared to be two figures hurrying away from the smoke of the explosion. The odd thing was that while their feet were moving impossibly fast, their hands were held behind their backs, parallel to the ground.

'What are they doing?'

He hadn't meant to say it out loud, or actually get a response, so he almost jumped when Potter, who he realized had glimpsed his moment of forbidden curiosity, replied amusedly.

'What are you wearing?'

'What does it look like I'm wearing, you moron?'

'We don't wear robes in the Muggle world, Malfoy. If you walk around looking like that, they'll make fun of you.'

Conflicted, Malfoy hesitantly removed the outer layer. He was left in the Muggle clothes his mother had carefully packed for him. He knew he'd have to wear them; he'd just been unwilling to let go of his only connection to the magical world.

'You didn't answer my question, Potter.'

'They're ninja. They run like that.'


'What exactly is a ninja? Not that I care, of course, I could be less interested about such Muggle concepts,' he added hastily.

Infuriatingly, Potter was not deterred in the slightest. He stared into the air for a few moments before seeming to arrive at a conclusion. Lifting his shoulder – very carefully, Draco noticed – in a partial shrug, he began to explain what the rectangular box was, what it did and why those shrunken forms were running like that.

It was fascinating.

The minute he thought that, he feared lightning would strike him from above, or Lucius Malfoy would come storming into the house to brand Draco a Muggle-lover and he held his breath, but nothing happened.

There was no crash of thunder, no enraged Pureblood coming to beat the fascination out of him, in short, no consequence for having a thought so taboo, a mention was liable disownment. His heart was beating faster and his body had arranged itself into his distinctive stance.

He was probably sneering, too. It was his automatic defense against confusion or worry of any kind and it worked every time.

Potter shook his head. 'Of course Malfoy the Prick doesn't approve. Seriously, what was I expecting? That you'd actually let some air into that narrow mind of yours?' He snorted. 'Hah, the day you do that, I'll join the SPEW.'

Draco stared at him. 'Scarhead. I knew you were crazy, but I'm stuck with you for the rest of the holidays, so try to make an effort to actually be comprehensible, understand?'

'Whatever, Malfoy. Go away. Go watch T.V or something, just don't bother me 'til dinner's ready.'

'Who died and made you king, Gryffindork?'

'Voldemort,' answered Potter smugly, 'although it does look like he's made a return.'

'Which is why you're here, ruining my life,' he added pointedly, glaring at him.

Draco flinched at the casual use of the Dark Lord's name, feeling horribly out of place and strangely disinclined to continue their verbal spar. He headed toward the sofa without a word.

Seating himself as far away from the Muggle as possible, he got a closer look at the 'screen' and figured out that the words on the bottom were what the people were saying. Slowly, his eyes got accustomed to the simultaneous division of attention between the moving pictures and the translations.

He still couldn't make heads nor tails of it.

Encouraged by Potter's satisfactory response previously, he ventured to ask the cousin a question.

'You. Muggle. What is going on?'

Said Muggle turned his head away from the screen so fast Draco wondered if he'd gotten a whiplash.

'Don't call me a…a that, you freak!'

Draco felt the anger rear its ugly head, poised to strike. He sniffed disdainfully.

'If anyone's the freak here, you filthy Muggle, it's you.'

'I'm perfectly normal! You're the freak! Who in their right mind would name their kid Draco anyway?'

'It's a powerful name, the name of my predecessor and senior! My father was the one who chose it! It is a perfectly appropriate name, which is more than I can say for you, Durbey! Yours sounds like a peasant's,' he spat hatefully.

'Dudley! My name is Dudley Dursley and it does not sound like a peasant's!'

'It does to me. Your father must have expected you to be a disgrace. I'm not surprised, considering how you turned out.'

They'd both risen from their seats to yell at each other and had forgotten about the other presence in the room.

'Malfoy! Dudley! Sit down!'

They both looked at him in unison, their argument halting in it's tracks.

Then Dudley sneered. 'Who are you to boss me around, freak? I'll do what I want.'

There were so many things Harry could have said, but he crushed the retorts and turned to Malfoy, who he had some semblance of control over.

'Malfoy, do you really think it's a good idea to pick a fight, here? If you're really that stupid, go ahead. You're not a wizard right now and you're not a Malfoy, so just shut up, okay?'

It felt so good to say those words. It felt even better when his arch enemy flushed with anger, hands trembling at the reminder of his lost family and stalked off, fuming.

Dinner was uneventful, and everyone retired early, worn out from the day's events. Harry was aching all over and deathly tired. Worse, he was sure that the nightmares would come back and there was no way to keep it from Malfoy. He would have spent the night awake, but that wasn't a practical plan for the rest of the holidays and he was falling asleep standing, besides.

He would just have to risk it.

And Merlin, he hoped Malfoy was a heavy sleeper.

But he wasn't counting on it.

A/N: All feedback is greatly appreciated. I understand that it is not consistent with the Harry Potter timeline, but there's ramen for whoever guesses what Dudley was watching.