A/N: So here it is, guys ! Guess who's back? Back again, Stan is back, tell a friend, guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who anyway sorry Eminem's new album is getting me super hyped lately.
I'D LIKE TO TAKE THIS TIME TO REMIND YOU GUYS THAT I AM NOT ABANDONING THE STORY. It's taking me a lot of time to update it but here I am ! Like I said last time, I'm super slow but it doesn't mean anything. Unless I stop posting for like two or three years, I'm still around. But between university and work and everything, it's really hard. Besides, my computer's keyboard barely work anymore, you can see how easy it is for me to write... So, since I worked hard during August (and trust me, my job is fucking horrible), I used the money I earned to buy a new small computer so that I can take notes at university but I can also write again !
Anyway, if you're still reading this, i've got something to say about this chapter. The whole thing with Hagrid's class that you will see, and that is in the books (well more or less since Draco is not supposed to anyway I digress), is what inspired me to include Theo in the story. So I was waiting impatiently this passage, because I knew this chapter would be determinant for Draco and Theo's frienship. So what's happening is that in the beginning of the chapter, some elements from the events in the book are compiled so that I could mention them but not write a 50,000 words long chapter. The most important part of this one is really what's going down with Draco and Theo and I hope you'll enjoy it. It is nothing like what I imagined it would be when I first started writing the story but that's also part of the fun, I'm surprised by how some stuff I had planned from the beginning are turning out but it's all good, I like it this way.
So anyway, my exams are coming, I'll be taking them in a month, so I'm not sure I'll be able to update the story again before february at least, but we'll see, maybe I'll surprise you for Christmas. Depends on my time guys. I love you all, thank you so much for following the story, commenting, and most importantly, sticking with me, I know I'm a pain in the ass.
Draco sighed loudly when Umbridge's office door was closed behind him. He was still shivering just thinking about her voice.
"So?" Theo asked, looking rather anxious. Draco raised his thumb, walking quickly to leave this hallway leading to Hell. "What did she say?" He asked, following Draco right away.
"She said that..." Draco sighed again, getting out of the hallway and quickly going on the staircase before it could leave without them. "Since she knows from Snape that I'm working hard for my potion and you know… there's my father… she said that we could play, that's all there was," he explained quickly, not looking at Theo.
When they had woken up that morning, they had directly noticed the new decree that was on the notice board. Everyone had to ask permission to do group activities. And Draco knew that Umbridge was probably suspicious about something. It was too obvious. They had had the meeting in the Hog's Head and right after that, there were new rules about groups?
The captain of their Quidditch Team had come talk to Draco right away as him and Theo were discussing the decree, to ask him to go and ask for the Quidditch team to be able to play again. When Draco had asked why he was the one who should go and ask when obviously, the Captain was the one in charge of the team, the guy had mentioned his prefect status and his father before leaving him with the dirty work. No one wanted to go talk to Umbridge, so he wasn't surprised that he had found the perfect excuse.
He had decided to do it right away, so this whole thing would be over pretty quickly. Umbridge had loved this moment, he had been able to tell. But he had asked nicely, and he had been surprised by the positive answer. Well, it didn't come without a "your condition shouldn't be punishing your teammates. But one wrong move and you are out of the team, Mr. Malfoy". That was what he didn't want to tell Theo, and why he was avoiding his eyes. He wasn't feeling that well.
When they arrived in the Great Hall, on their way to join Pansy, Draco stopped in front of the Captain of his team.
"We can play," he said more casually, hands in his pockets. "I went to ask, everything's fine."
"Great, thanks Draco," the Captain said to his surprise and Draco glanced at Theo for a second before nodding, meeting Miles Bletchley's eyes as he did so. He felt another player giving him a tap on his shoulder to thank him before starting to eat again and he walked away with Theo, still a bit confused.
"D'you think Miles did something?" He asked Theo who shrugged.
"I don't know, doesn't seem likely. Maybe it's just… you know. Time. I don't know," Theo said again before sitting down next to Pansy.
"I was talking with Miles this morning and Malcolm and Graham came to ask me about the decree too," Pansy said quietly as her friends sat down. "They wonder if it's because of our meeting, d'you reckon it is?" She asked Draco.
"No clue," he said as he started to put some food on his plate. "I just know we will have to be extra careful, we don't talk to the others as long as we don't have a safe place to meet," he continued. "What did you tell them?"
"Same thing, we act like nothing's going on, we don't talk about it, even between us, and they wait for us to come back with news."
Needless to say, that day was actually pretty eventful. The morning had been more agitated than Draco would have expected it to be, but it kept on going. In History of Magic, Pansy and Draco were sitting in the back, playing hangman on a piece of paper, a game Hermione had taught Draco, when they heard two girls talking about an owl. When he looked up, he saw that it was Lavender and her best friend, pointing at the window them. Pansy then noticed that Harry was moving behind the desks, trying to not be seen by their professor. She elbowed Draco, nodding in the direction of Harry to show him what he was doing. When Draco looked at the owl again, he saw that she had a letter to deliver. He frowned, finding it odd that she was delivering it now and not during mail time.
"Open the window when he's here," he whispered to Pansy, glancing at their teacher. "I'll keep an eye out for you," he said.
When Harry arrived next to their desk, Pansy carefully slid the catch before opening the window slowly. She was surprised to see the owl coming into the classroom.
"Thanks," she heard Harry whispered as he took his owl in his arms before he regained his seat.
A minute later, Harry asked their professor to get out of the classroom and they learned later on that not only the letter was from Sirius, but that Hedwig was had been injured. They had learned about the meeting with Sirius that night in the common room and knew they would be informed about what he was going to tell them the next day. But they also learned that Umbridge was maybe keeping an eye on their communications, and that it was extremely dangerous for Sirius to use the Floo Network. Unfortunately, they wouldn't be able to warn him.
With all of this in mind, they headed to their Potions lesson, where they found Umbridge. Draco could tell that Snape wasn't pleased with having her in the classroom. And as time was passing, he knew his godfather would be in a foul mood for the rest of the day, as she started asking him about being a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Then, Draco focused on his work when Umbridge walked to his desk to start questioning Pansy about the lessons. Let's say hearing that Potter would have no marks and Pansy having Snape's back made the rest of the lesson better. At least, the last class of the day, with Umbridge, went smoothly, as they take out their books and read in silence, as usual.
The next day, as the group didn't want to meet in the unused classroom in case it would be considered as a group meeting, Draco read a letter from Hermione during mail time. She hadn't sent it to him, as the risk of it being read was too big, not knowing if Harry was the only one concerned by this issue. Instead, Hermione wrote everything in detail and gave him the letter as they greeted each other that morning. Draco had got out the letter from his bag when the mail had arrived. In it, she was explaining everything that had happened with Sirius and their conversation afterwards.
"She writes a lot," Pansy said when he saw that Draco was reading the verso of the second page.
"A lot happened, wait a minute," Draco said as his eyes were moving fast on the piece of parchment. Once he was done, he folded the pages again, put them back in their envelope and put that envelope back in his bag. "So. First off, Snuffles knows about the… club," Draco said, blinking and frowning a little, not finding any other way to call it. He shook his head and looked at his friends again, who were all caught up with the "Snuffles" thing.
"How?" Theo asked directly.
"I'm coming to that," Draco said as he raised his finger to ask him to wait. "One of the Order's member was in the Hog's Head during the meeting. Potter's still being followed, they keep a close eye on him. Mundungus, the guy that was there, was under a disguise, he's been banned from the place a long time ago, that's why we didn't recognize him." He couldn't help but laugh a little as he thought about what he was going to say. "Weasel's mother is not ok with him taking part in this," he said, seeing Pansy sharing his smile. Theo wasn't laughing or smiling, just listening attentively and nodding whenever Draco was bringing a new information. "Apparently, she doesn't want Potter or Hermione, but thing is, she can't write to them about that because they're all being watched. Pansy, you opened the window for Potter's owl," he continued, Pansy nodding. "She was injured, and Hermione believes it's Umbridge's fault, she believes she's been reading his mail."
"How can she know that?" Pansy muttered, glancing at the staff table. Umbridge was there, watching over the students. She grimaced and looked at Draco again.
"It's a long story including Filch trying to check what Potter was sending by lying, but the letter was gone already. He tried to find a dumb excuse, so he could read his letter. Since it didn't work…" Theo grimaced too.
"That's horrible, d'you know if Hedwig's ok?" He asked, sounding concerned. Both Pansy and Draco turned their head to look at him for a second and Draco shrugged.
"Yeah, I guess…" he said. He kept looking at Theo for a moment before continuing. "Anyway… They were talking, and he thinks the whole thing is an excellent idea, but um… Umbridge tried to catch him through the fireplace."
"What?" Pansy articulated quietly, getting ever closer to the table as they were becoming quieter as they were talking.
"Yeah, Si- Snuffles was suggesting places to train, the stopped talking, turned around, next thing they knew, dear old Dolores' hand was trying to grab him, but he was already gone. They weren't going to stay there so they all went in their dorms, but it was a close call," he explained.
"This is getting dangerous," Theo said quietly.
"Guys, there's still time for you to back out, if you-"
"Draco, shut up," Pansy said, directly putting a finger against his mouth, knowing it would annoy him. As he moved his head away, she kept on going. "Well, no, don't, just about this ridiculous idea. What else did she say?"
Draco opened his mouth but closed it. Hermione had explained how she wasn't trusting Sirius' judgment about all of this, and that she had hesitations about the group. Maybe the best he could do was keeping this for himself.
"That was about it," he just said as he took some bread to keep eating. "Now, I guess we just have to find a place, hopefully we will soon, and we start this whole thing. I'm not backing out of this."
"Well, neither are we," Pansy said, elbowing Theo before they too started to eat again.
The same evening, the entire group was outside. Harry and Ron had Quidditch practice and Hermione had joined the Slytherin Trio on the benches. Using a spell to protect them from the rain, as if an umbrella was above them, they were talking about the whole Sirius thing while the practice was a complete mess.
"Of course, Harry and Ron got mad, told me I was wrong, you know…" Hermione said as she shook her head, thinking about the moment she had told them Sirius was living through them. She wasn't paying attention to the practice at all, while Theo and Pansy had to hide their smiles as they saw what was going on, in that terrible weather. Draco, on the other hand, was focused on Ron. Frowning, eyes narrowed, he wondered if the weather was the only problem with the way he was playing.
"Potter's father was Sirius' bestie, wasn't he?" He asked distractedly, still staring at Ron. Hermione glanced at him, then crossed her arms as she leaned a bit against him, letting her head rest on his shoulder as she sighed a "yes".
Well, from what Draco knew, Harry looked exactly like his father, except for the eyes. So maybe it was possible that he was seeing too much of James Potter in Harry.
"I mean, he spent what… Thirteen years in Azkaban? And before that, he spent all his time at school with Potter, it wouldn't be surpris…" he didn't finish his sentence as he frowned a bit more. "What is he doing…" he muttered before Hermione could talk, seeing the wild movements Ron was making from afar. He tried to stop himself from laughing, as he didn't want to upset Hermione, but it was giving him ideas.
The little group ended up getting back inside before the end of the practice as it was too cold and that their prefect duty would start soon. Plus, they had too much homework. But when Ron joined them after the practice, he quickly told them what had happened in the changing room. How Harry's scar had hurt, how he could tell You-Know-Who was angry, while he had been very pleased the last time the scar had hurt. How, somehow, Harry was able to know his mood. Pansy seemed kind of creeped out and didn't discuss the matter with Draco when they started making their last round before going to work, instead, she changed the subject pretty quickly. Draco didn't insist, getting the hint.
"That Dobby?" Pansy laughed out loud before Draco elbowed her. It didn't make her stop laughing. "I'm sorry but this is priceless," she said as she removed a tear from the corner of her eyes with her finger.
"Wait, who's Dobby?" Theo asked.
"His former house-elf," Pansy said, laughing in-between words.
"It's not funny!" Draco exclaimed, getting annoyed, which only made Pansy find the situation even more hilarious. "It's a long story that I do not want to talk about," he said, glancing as Pansy as he did. "He's been working here, in the kitchens and cleaning, I mean, like the other house-elves working here. Anyway," he said, waving his hand. "That's not the point!"
"Sorry," Pansy said as she hid her smile behind her hand as she tried to contain herself. Draco rolled his eyes.
"He loves Potter and he brought his owl back to him during the night. He told him about a place we could train in and nobody would know about it," he started to explain. "It's called the Room of Requirement and it's on the seventh floor, opposite that tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy with the Trolls," he explained a bit more quietly.
"But there's nothing there… Are you sure about it?" Pansy asked, a bit more serious, as she thought about the simple wall that was there. Draco nodded.
"Apparently, Dumbledore mentioned the room to Potter during his first year, so it sounds legit," he explained. "They want us to meet there tonight at eight. We need to tell the others," he said, obviously talking about the Slytherin students. "Weasel's sister is helping to spread the message too, so everyone who signed should know about it soon enough."
And surely enough, that night, despite his fatigue, Draco walked in the secret room accompanied by Pansy, Theo, Miles, Malcolm and Graham, meeting the Gryffindor trio that was already inside. They explained how the room was working and Draco didn't wait before wishing for a seat, so he could sit. He was exhausted. Time this year seemed to be flying and the days were just passing before his eyes, and the cycles were approaching fast.
It had been a simple meeting. After everyone had arrived, Hermione had asked for a vote in order to officially declare Harry the leader of the group before they all started to think about a name. Dumbledore's Army… As always, Draco couldn't help but list all the things that were being added to his list of why he wasn't worthy of wearing his name. Now, being a member of an army named after Dumbledore was almost on top of that list, it was a tie with his condition and his relationship with Hermione. He wondered what would his parents' reaction would be if they ever learned about all of this. All they had to do was work on Expelliarmus that day, so it was ok. He was pretty good with that spell and didn't feel like he would be too tired after that exercise.
They all had to pair up and as Draco turned his head to ask Pansy to train with him, he saw that she was already walking towards Astoria Greengrass. He blinked for a moment, seeing Tracey pairing with Miles, and Malcolm staying close to his friend, looking quite nervous.
"Well, I guess you'll have to pair up with me," Theo said, sounding cheerful. Draco stared at Theo's back as he was walking away to put some distance between them. At least, as the training went on, he saw that Theo was pretty good. And yet, after a while, after mostly listening to what Theo was telling him and after having practiced the spell enough, Draco suddenly stopped, looking uncomfortable.
"You know what? I-I'll go help Malcolm and you should help Graham," he said. "They're younger, they shouldn't just train together, and Potter can't just help them," he said, even though they weren't that bad. He directly walked towards the duo, leaving Theo speechless. Pansy's eyes followed Draco as he walked near her and Astoria, she hadn't missed the conversation or Theo's expression. She didn't talk to him about it after the end of the meeting, though.
Actually, over the next few weeks, she didn't talk about it at all with Draco, but she had discussed the matter with Theo, who still felt somehow rejected by Draco. He had thought that by now, he was ok with his presence, and that he was even sometimes appreciating his company, and despite Pansy's kind words, he still felt hurt whenever Draco was showing a sudden disinterest in him, every time they were spending time alone together. Pansy knew it was because Draco was starting to really like Theo's presence and personality, but that he didn't want to get attached. But she couldn't say that to Theo, not really, Draco would be mad at her for exposing him this way. Instead, she kept telling him that Draco needed time.
Theo's gaze drifted from the coin he was making turn in his hand, the one Hermione had enchanted to have the times of the meetings, to the couple a few feet away from him and Pansy. Hermione had been sermonizing Draco for the last half hour, almost, now. He still had his broom in his hands, and hadn't even changed yet.
"Don't talk about them like that, it took me two nights to make them! And to write the song," Draco said, clearly not really caring about what she was angry about. He liked his badges, and he liked his song, and the whole team had loved it too. If it meant he would be treated better, he didn't mind mocking Ron. "Besides, he knows I'm just joking," he added, waving his hand dismissively.
"Yeah right, like when you imitate him dropping the Quaffle?" Draco couldn't help but laugh at that remark, getting a tap on the shoulder.
"Come on! It's not my fault if he doesn't play that well!" He exclaimed. Hermione couldn't lie about that, Ron wasn't that good, and Draco had seen how nervous Weasley had been, he knew that the stress wasn't helping him. But it was making it so much funnier.
"Yeah and then Crabbe sent a Buldger on Harry, did you see where it hit him? What's the matter with them anyway? He could have really been hurt! And that fight with them after… They're going to be punished by Umbridge, I can't even imagine what's going to happen to them!" she said, talking about Harry and George who had fought with one of the Slytherin of the team.
"That is not my fault," Draco said directly. "I'm not the Captain, I didn't choose who would replace the Beaters, I don't have anything to do with that. Besides, you guys won anyway! So, what do you want with me?"
Well you certainly don't need to be so petty about losing," Hermione said, crossing her arms. "I thought things were getting better between you guys, and now that?" Draco rolled his eyes, only making Hermione sigh even more loudly.
Pansy and Theo exchanged a glance before they walked away, still hearing their voices behind them. It's only later that they learned by Draco that Harry, George, and unexpectedly Fred as well, were banned from playing Quidditch ever again, while Crabbe only had lines to write because of that Buldger. Since Draco didn't seem to be in a good mood at all, they didn't bother him with the issue.
He was still quite annoyed the next day, before having another discussion with Hermione. Hagrid was back, and clearly, Draco had known about the giants. And yet, he hadn't told them. She hadn't really blamed him at the time, as Harry had been acting obnoxious with him, but still, it was annoying her. After everything they had learned about what had happened to Hagrid, about how the Death Eaters had been able to convince the giants, in the end… Had his father been a part of the mission?
Draco remained calm when she asked about his father and simply said that he didn't know, which was true. He had told Draco about Hagrid and the mission, because he was telling everything to Draco anyway, how they had to rally the giants to "The Dark Lord's cause", but he hadn't actually written that he had to go there as well. Hermione seemed to believe him, and she told him about Umbridge's visit. She clearly didn't want Hagrid to stay there.
"Yeah, that's what I told you guys," Draco said, looking a bit bored with the conversation. "You know, when Potter threatened me," he reminded her with a sarcastic smile. Hermione sighed. One day, everything was going well between these three boys, and the next day, it was the contrary. Boys. "My father told me they were taking measures to change Hogwarts as much as they could, didn't you believe me? Why didn't you? Because I insulted Hagrid?" he asked, suddenly curious.
"I believed you, I just… I didn't know she would treat him like that…"
"Well, he's a half-breed, what did you expect?" He said dismissively.
"Draco… Don't use that term," she said more quietly, and he finally turned his head to look at her. He stared for a moment before looking away again.
"Let's talk about something else, shall we?" He asked, straightening up a bit on his seat as he took one of his books to start working.
After that, he didn't think about Hagrid much. At least, not until two days later, on Tuesday, as they all made their way to his cabin for their lesson.
Draco and Pansy couldn't help but share a glance and a grimace as they saw Hagrid's face and half of a dead cow on his shoulder. Theo, however, remained calm, interested by what they would discover today. He quite liked Hagrid's lessons. He wasn't very fond of the creatures they were seeing, but he found his way of teaching quite amusing, and certainly full of surprises. Not always the greatest ones, but he could often have a good laugh when some of his classmates were having difficulties with the creatures.
The students ended up following Hagrid into the forest, not reassured one bit. As the Slytherin trio and the Gryffindor trio were pretty close to each other, Draco and Harry both made a point of not looking at each other as they started to walk under the trees. Soon, there was no more snow on the ground and it was dark as if it was the middle of the night. Draco didn't like being there, and he was sure that Hermione knew it, as she had got closer to him. They watched as Hagrid put the cow on the ground before stepping back and talking to them about how they would be attracted by the smell. Soon enough, he turned and gave an odd shrieking cry that echoed through the dark trees.
Harry thought it sounded like the call of some monstrous bird and everyone was very serious, some were scared, even. Draco narrowed his eyes as Hagrid made the sound again. It couldn't be… As Hagrid was about to give the cry for the third time, Draco saw it emerging from the darkness given by the trees.
Harry saw it too, but he had no idea what it was. Draco was used to those white, shining eyes, he was used to the skeletal body of the Thestrals, to the wings and the long black tail.
He watched as the creature looked at the students before finally approaching the cow before it started eating.
Harry felt great, knowing that he wasn't crazy. These creatures were real, Hagrid knew about them. And when he looked at Ron, wanting to see his reaction, he only saw him looking at the trees before asking why Hagrid wasn't calling again. Draco slowly leaned towards Pansy, only whispering the name of the creatures and she understood what was going on and why nothing seemed to be happening. She looked over at Theo to tell him too, but she saw that he was staring at something near the cow. His head was slightly tilted. He didn't look scared, or like he was wondering what was going on. He looked fascinated, but also slightly disgusted. She glanced at Draco to see if he had noticed, but her best friend wasn't looking at Theo, he was staring at the creature. As she looked around, she saw that no one else seemed to see the creature, if it wasn't for Potter and… Longbottom? His eyes were following the movements of the Thestral's tail, and even if Pansy wasn't able to see the creature, she could see that Neville was focused on something specific, not like the rest of the students that were still looking around as if something was about to come out of the forest and eat them all.
"Oh, an' here comes another one!" Hagrid said proudly, and Draco could see a second Thestral coming out of the trees. He watched as it folded its wingers closer to its body before eating the meat. "Now… put yer hands up, who can see 'em?" Hagrid asked. Draco directly stopped looking at the creatures to glance at Hagrid. He thought about it. Should he raise his hand? He knew Potter could see them too, because of what had happened at the beginning of the year. And Harry actually didn't hesitate. He wanted to understand, and he raised his hand. Draco only heard Hagrid saying that it didn't surprise him as he stared at the ground for a moment. He heard Neville's name and finally, he raised his hand too. Not timidly, but slowly.
"An' you two, eh?" Hagrid said as he looked at both Draco and Theo. Draco glanced at his friend, seeing that he had indeed raised his hand too. He hadn't expected that. Theo only met his eyes for a brief second before he looked at the creatures again. Draco looked around at the class. They were the only one seeing them, then. His eyes met Hermione's. She looked like she didn't understand what was going on but before she could tell anything, she heard Harry talk to Draco.
"Don't tell me you're going crazy on us, Malfoy," he said with an amused smile, repeating Draco's words, "Now's really not the time." Draco snorted and shook his head before looking at the creatures again. But then, Harry thought. Draco seemed very comfortable around the creatures. He probably knew what they were. After all, the day he had told Harry these words, he had touched the Thestral that were near them. He didn't seem disgusted, he didn't seem scared in the slightest. He probably knew why they could see them. He was eager to know more about them, so he listened to Hagrid when Parvati asked what was going on and what was eating the meat.
"Thestrals!" Hagrid said loudly. Draco heard a soft "oh!" coming from Hermione as she understood the situation. He felt her hand on his forearm and they exchanged a look. "Hogwarts has got a herd of 'em in here. Now, who know-?"
Hagrid was interrupted by Parvati who was saying that they were extremely unlucky.
"No, they're not," Draco whispered as he looked at the girl and as Hagrid said the same thing.
"Tha's jus' superstition, that is, they aren' unlucky, they're dead clever an' useful!" Hagrid went on to explain that they were pulling the school carriages when two other Thestrals came out of the trees, and, as they walked near Parvati, she started panicking. Draco couldn't help but roll his eyes. They weren't mean, she just didn't know anything about them. And at the same time, he thought about the face she'd make if she was actually able to see how they looked like. How funny that would be. He started paying attention again when Hagrid asked a question.
"Righ', now, who can tell me why some o' you can see them an' some can't?"
The answer was burning Draco's lips, but he didn't raise his hand, as he didn't want too much attention on him because of his knowledge on Thestrals. Instead, he looked at Hermione as she raised her hand, which seemed to make Hagrid really happy.
"The only people who can see Thestrals are people who have seen death," she said. As she was making her house gain ten points, Draco glanced at Theo again. He didn't know much about Theo's past, he wasn't talking about his own either. He was civilized with him and yes, enjoying his company, which was scaring him, sometimes. But he had never talked about his childhood, or simply asked too many questions about him, as he didn't want to show any interest. This way, he was keeping some sort of barrier between them. All he knew was that his father died during the first war, and that he had been growing up with his mother only. She had never remarried, and from what Pansy had told him, Theo was very happy this way. But then, the question remained. Who did he see die? His father?
Draco's trail of thought had been interrupted by the obnoxious sound of Umbridge arriving and disturbing the class. Draco glanced at Hagrid. Their teacher hadn't seen Umbridge and seemed to believe the Thestral had made that sound, which would have been weird, and which was explaining how concerned he looked. Umbridge did her fake cough again, and finally, Hagrid noticed her. He greeted her before Umbridge started to talk to him as if he was somehow retarded, speaking slowly and loudly.
Draco followed the exchange and no, he didn't really like Hagrid that much, and yes, he liked making fun of him or when people were doing so. But here, he couldn't appreciate what was happening, because Umbridge was the one causing the trouble. And he knew why she was doing so. Again, Draco caught himself being selfish. If he hadn't been a "half-breed" himself, as Umbridge would put it, he wouldn't feel concerned, maybe he would have even been laughing. And yet, here, he wasn't. He had felt that Hermione's grip on his forearm was becoming a bit tighter and when he looked at her, he could see how red she was because of how angry she was.
The rest of the lesson left both the trio quite tense and they only parted ways afterwards to go to their respective lessons.
That night, Draco woke up with a start. Well, this dream had been less horrible than the others, as it had just been one about Quidditch, him being a failure and Hermione leaving him for the Weasel who had surprisingly well played. As he stared at the ceiling, he thought about it before frowning. Did he prefer dreaming about his condition, or about that? He sighed and sat up before opening the curtains of his bed. He needed some fresh air. Given the temperature in the common room at this time of the year, Christmas being almost there, it would be good enough. It's not like he had much choice anyway.
As he walked quietly towards the door, and as he passed near Theo's bed by doing so, he noticed that his friend wasn't in his bed. He stayed for a second with his hand on the handle before opening the door to get out of his dorm.
When he arrived in the common room, Draco directly saw Theo sitting on the floor, in front of the fire, only source of light in the room. Again, Draco hesitated and only stared at Theo for a moment before finally walking towards him. He sat silently next to him, feeling cold. He stared at the fire, arms on his knees, chin resting on them, he didn't say anything. He didn't know what he could say. He knew he had been hurting Theo lately, but he had never been able to bring himself to do more. He felt like encouraging him to join the Quidditch team had been enough, only to realize that he had just started a machine he couldn't control. He wasn't good with people in general. Even with Hermione and Pansy, he was arguing. He had been afraid many times, and despite all the revelations he had already made, despite what he had lived, he was still scared when it came to letting people in. That was nonsense.
He bit his lip from the inside of his mouth as he glanced at Theo out of the corner of his eye.
"Nightmare?" He heard Theo ask, even though he wasn't looking at him. Draco slightly nodded before answering.
"Yeah… But it's fine, it wasn't… It was just a bad dream about Quidditch," he said, and he heard Theo chuckle quietly. "And how come you're not sleeping?"
"There's a crack on the ceiling, right above my bed," he said. Draco frowned, looking at him. It was so dark in the dorm that he probably couldn't see it during the night, and why would it be that disturbing? "It keeps me up at night."
"How so?" Draco asked, slightly narrowing his eyes as he was thinking about it. Theo turned his head to meet his eyes before awkwardly smiling. He looked at the fire again.
"I don't know, it gets me thinking," he said. "It makes me think about the castle, then the school, then the people around me, and those that were there before us… You know, it's just a little crack but then it becomes bigger."
"Like a gap," Draco said quietly before looking at the fire too. "D'you want to talk about it?"
"D'you want to listen to me?" Theo asked with a quiet laugh again, but Draco could hear that his tone was fake, and that he was tired.
And now that he was thinking about it, Draco realized something. He had always thought Theo was a very light sleeper, unlike the other boys sharing their dorm, and that he had known about his nightmares because Draco himself was waking him up. But he had also noticed that sometimes, very late at night, there was still light behind the curtains of Theo's bed. When he wasn't sleeping, Draco could hear pages being turned. But he had never really pondered on Theo's lack of sleep. Now, he really understood that his insomnias were due to something.
"Hey, I'm sorry for before," Draco said, not being very specific. But he knew Theo would understand. After all, he knew how a little thing could be something bigger. Draco saw him nod but Theo stayed quiet for a moment. "Is it because of the Thestrals, tonight?" He then asked.
"That I can't sleep?" Theo said, glancing at Draco who nodded. He shrugged. "Nah, I guess it's just a universal thing. You grow up and you realize that time flies, and when you walk alone you wonder if adult life's gonna be the same. It just… keeps my brain working when I'm supposed to be sleeping."
"But you're not alone anymore," Draco said tentatively, but quietly.
"You don't have to force this friendship if you really don't want to be a part of it. I don't need pity. And I know that you know that feeling, so you understand what I mean."
"It's not that I pity you, or that I force it…"
There was a long moment of silence, at least, it seemed to be very long for Draco. They both listened to the fire cracking and their breathing.
"T'was my father," Theo then said, looking at Draco again. Their eyes met but Draco didn't feel like avoiding him, this time. "I was young, obviously, it was during the war and… We were babies, right? But I saw it happen. So, you know… Were we even babies anymore, with everything that was going on? Have we ever been?"
Draco narrowed his eyes as he looked at the floor, thinking about it. Theo had been robbed from a part of his life too, even if it had been in a different way than his. He had never thought about it this way. After all, yes, his father died, but he was alive, and his mother was alive, and he grew up with her and he was very happy, safe from any danger.
It was so weird. For Draco, his father was indestructible. He shivered, just imagining a life without him.
"I don't know…" He simply whispered.
"You don't and yet…" Theo stopped for a moment, considering Draco before looking at the fire again. "Have you ever been the same child after you were bitten?"
Draco swallowed and blinked as he forced himself to just keep looking at the floor. He needed to get used to Theo's way of talking about serious issues. He didn't have any difficulty to do so, or to share his feelings. They were so different.
"No," he simply said.
"See," Theo said. "And now, you're being asked to take part in what's going on. You're young and yet, they treat you like you're old enough to be a part of something so much bigger than you. And then you tell us that we can back out, and just to not go through this with you. But whatever we do, it will happen. He will return, won't he? And we're all going to be in danger, like before. So why shouldn't we do something as well?"
"I don't need that on my conscience," Draco said after a few seconds, still almost whispering.
"But you won't have that on your conscience, it's our decision. We decided to create the D.A. with you and Hermione, and Weasel and Potty," he said, making Draco chuckle. "And we decided to rebel against that horrible, horrible-" Theo's voice trailed off before he sighed. "Sometimes, I just think about that Muggle girl that lives in a small town near my place," he started explaining, and Draco looked at him, curious. "They're not very rich, there. It was late, I was with my mother and I think the girl was drunk, at the time I didn't realize that, but now I know she was. And she just yelled something at me."
"What did she say?" Draco asked after a short moment of silence.
"She insulted me, saying that I had a good life, like it was a crime for us to be rich. I didn't understand at the time, and my mother didn't say anything, she just told me to ignore her. So, I just looked at the her, and she just looked sad." There was a pause, once again, before he added something in a whisper. "I think about her every day, you know. And it's late at night, and I'm not watching that crack anymore, I'm watching that fire, and I still think about her while everyone's comfortably asleep. It's ok, I'm used to that."
Draco wondered how many times Theo had left the dorm to come down there during the night. Also, he was used to him talking a lot, but never this way. He used to think he had a lot to say because he didn't have many people he could talk to, and so he had a lot of stuff he wanted to share with his only friends. But now, he was feeling like Theo was talking so much to fill the times he couldn't speak his mind.
"You're quite the philosopher, aren't you?" Draco said as he looked at the fire again, and the shadows it was creating around that fireplace. He heard Theodore slightly chuckle once again.
"You know, my mother, she's proud that I don't let what people say ruin my day, she's got big dreams for me. But I won't go anywhere with my words, and I sure won't save the world with them. And they won't help me become something like an Auror."
"Would you want to be one?" Draco asked, surprised, as he looked at Theo. He didn't seem like quite the type. He didn't see Theo on a battlefield, maybe because somehow, he was too precious for that. Because he was different, something in him was making him be different. He didn't deserve to die, if there had to be a war.
"I don't know. But don't we need to think about our futures? After Christmas, we'll have to talk about it with Snape," he said, his words leaving a weight on Draco's stomach, that made him feel slightly sick. "What d'you want to be after Hogwarts?"
"I've never really thought about it. I don't even know if I'm going to be able to work," he said, thinking about the legislation. He could allow himself to stay at home and do whatever he wanted, he was wealthy enough for that. But he didn't want that life. Maybe he didn't want it only because he wanted to defy the laws against him. Or maybe he was just loving the idea of actually do something with his life. He didn't even know, he was usually keeping this kind of thoughts far away from his mind.
Maybe that's why he was also trying to stay far away from a friendship with Theo. Maybe because despite his cheerful mood and his silly jokes, he was too wise, and he was thinking about serious things way too much, and he was talking about them, and he was reminding Draco of them. But in the end, at some point, they would have to face all these serious situations one day or another.
"Well, we don't know if any of us will be able to, really. What if we're all dead by then?" Theo asked, turning his head to face Draco, meeting his eyes.
There was a moment of silence that they used to stare at each other for a while, Draco being a bit taken aback by his words and Theo looking as serious as ever.
"Ok, now you're just plainly depressing," Draco simply said as he got up. He heard Theo laugh, heartily this time. "Don't laugh, it's true!" Draco said, even if he was half-sharing Theo's smile.
Theo got up as well, and ended up taping Draco's shoulder, leaving his hand there for a moment.
"You could do great things, you should really think about it," he said. Draco slightly nodded, letting Theo take his hand back before softly tapping his chest with the back of his hand.
"And so could you," he said. "But right now, you should probably just get some rest. Panse will see our faces tomorrow and will scold us, you know her."
As he turned away, he felt Theo's hand on his shoulder and he turned again.
"What is it?"
"Thank you, for listening."
Draco nodded before raising his fist, waiting for Theo to bump his own against it. Theo only laughed, let go of Draco's shoulder and walked past him.
"God, Pansy's right, you can be so cheesy sometimes."