Author's Notes: Hullo!
Answers to things brought up in review:
aroha50- ^_^ 'A Christmas Truce' was from Greg's P.O.V. and told us why Greg thought they should be together. 'New Year's Resolutions' is from Draco's P.O.V. and shows Draco's feelings. You're not missing anything yet. I'd suggest putting the question to the back of your mind for the moment. It will be answered- just not in this story. What Harry sees in Draco is something that's for Harry to answer- and he will do so in the final fic in this Trilogy, which, at this moment, has no name.
louise- The third fic in the Trilogy, the one from Harry's P.O.V., will end the day that everyone comes back from hols. Though, Ron does sort of show up in this part, in a manner of speaking anyways. ^_^
mandraco- Harry's not at all happy about that, and honestly as you'll see in this last part, Dumbledore really shouldn't have bullied him. And the basilisk corpse is explained here.
Jade Maxwell- I've always preferred slow and easy to love at first sight... It's just so much more plausible- especially when you're talking about boys and enemies. Thank you for your compliments here and for my other fics.
Everyone- the seriousness... yes, I realized that as well. I didn't want this to get serious, it just... did. I'm trying to maneuver it back onto the soothing, non-angsty path that 'A Christmas Truce' took, but my muses are being difficult. Thanks for the constructive criticism. I think it helped. as far as updating more often, I really am writing as fast I as I can. The long lull was mostly caused because I was out of town and away from computer access for over a month. But now I'm back, and working furiously to get this out before the next Christmas Season. ^_^;;
Despite the apologies made and accepted, Harry was noticeably more withdrawn from his new Slytherin friends and as New Year's Eve dawned brightly before them, Draco despaired.
It was shaping up to be a right miserable day for all of them. The night before, Snape had informed them that they would all spend the next day harvesting the basilisk corpse. The Gryffindor had spent the night tense and quiet, ignoring any overtures Greg and Draco had made. He'd also been up and out of the Slytherin dorms at the crack of dawn, well before the other two boys had awakened.
"He's not going to stay friends with us after hols, is he, Draco?" The blonde paused in his dressing and turned to look at where his big friend was gazing mournfully at something on one of the dresser's. He didn't have to look to know what it was.
That was where he'd sat his copy of the picture of the two of them. It didn't have it's own frame yet, so he'd stuck it over another- a wizarding photo of his father, something that the picturefather hadn't been at all happy with.
"I don't know, Greg."
Greg just nodded miserably and finished up his own dressing. Draco was glad that he didn't seem to blame him for what had happened. He wondered briefly why Harry couldn't be as accepting, but grimaced to himself.
Harry Potter had always, and would always, put his friends before almost everything else. Only insulting his parents could bring his wrath any more quickly. And if it was something he perceived as an insult to both...
Heaven help them all.
In that case, Draco knew he should be pleased that he'd gotten off as lightly as he had. There'd been no hexing, no fighting, and the Gryffindor hadn't completely avoided them.
But the tentative trust that had grown between them was gone and even the assurances that he didn't plan on joining Voldemorte hadn't helped much.
Worrying his lip, Draco smoothed back his hair. It just wasn't fair. He sighed.
"We've still got a week. Who knows? Maybe something will change between now and then." Checking his appearance one last time, earning a giggle from the magical mirror as it complimented him, he straightened his shoulders. "Until then, let's go find the twit."
They found their erstwhile holiday companion in the Great Hall pushing food around on his plate looking vaguely sick.
It only took a moment for Dumbledore's comment about the boy being sick. Draco slid onto the bench next to him and leaned over to try and peer past the glasses into the emerald eyes. "Are you all right, Harry?"
The only response was a shrug as Potter continued to move the scrambled eggs around on his plate. Glancing down, the blonde was surprised to realize that the eggs were actually forming the vague shape of a snake. He looked back up but the glazed look in Harry's eyes told him that it wasn't being done consciously.
Did that mean that the only thing that was really bothering him was this basilisk thing?
Draco could only hope. And feel oddly worried about the coming expedition, something he'd have looked forward to on any other day. His passion for potions was such that even something considered a chore by most, like the painstaking harvesting of ingredients, was an enjoyment for him.
His gaze jerked up to meet Greg's worried one.
What should we do? his friend's eyes seemed to ask. He could only shrug. It wasn't often that he found himself completely out of his element, but he wasn't used to dealing with someone like Harry. Especially since he didn't have a clue what exactly was wrong.
Greg pushed something across the table and into the Gryffindors line of vision. "I finished another one for you."
Peering over Harry's shoulder, he smiled at the sketch Greg had done of Christmas morning. He'd seen it already, but he enjoyed looking at the other boy's work. It still amazed him that someone as slow in school work as Gregory Goyle could possess such a brilliant talent. He'd perfectly captured the embarrassed Harry hiding in the big dog's fur that morning. You could almost feel the silky black fur that was such a close match to the tousled mane of human hair.
"Thank you, Greg." Draco looked back up at the attractive face so close to his own. There was a hint of a smile there and sincere gratitude, but neither went far in dispelling the shadows that had been gathering over the last several days.
Before he could open his mouth to say anything though, an owl that had just flown in the windows came crashing into the table in front of them.
"Good morning, Errol." The smooth baritone was both amused and concerned as Harry reached over to help the bird stand again. He pushed his eggs over in front of it then untied the three letters it carried, one of which was a bright scarlet red.
The Slytherins watched as the smaller boy spread them out in front of him. The Howler had the words 'Open Me First' scrawled across the front of it. The other two envelopes said 'Me Second' and 'Open This One Last'. The last one's penmanship was far above the first two.
Harry drew in a shaking breath before gathering the letters up and pushing away from the table.
For the life of him, Draco couldn't imagine who would have sent the Boy Who Lived a Howler for Christmas. The furor over Diggory had died out the year before and with Rita Skeeter gone and someone more honest reporting for the Wizard Weekly, very few stories showed up that were anti-Potter. He was ashamed to admit that a lot of that had to do with the fact that he'd turned his own attention towards things other than Harry-torture. The young pureblood still couldn't believe he'd stooped so low. Of course, he'd never dreamed he'd ever regret it someday. His father had always cautioned him to consider the long-term consequences of his actions. For once, Draco wished he'd listened to the man.
Green eyes, unnerving in their intensity, cast a considering look over first Goyle, then Draco himself. With a sigh, the other Seeker shrugged. "You might as well come along. I suspect these are about you anyways."
Bewildered, the blonde arched a questioning brow at Greg, but his fellow Slytherin just shrugged. Apparently he didn't know anything either.
Quietly, the pair followed Harry out of the Great Hall and outside to the Lake.
Once there, slender fingers shakily pulled off the Howler's seal and tossed it to towards the ground away from them. It rose up and opened itself.
"Harrison James Potter! Have you gone Stark Raving NUTTERS?! Make FRIENDS With MALFOY?! I'm right aren't I? You have gone nutters? Or Else they've POISONED you! I can't believe you'd seriously write me a letter like that! This is MALFOY!!! You DO Remember Right? MALFOY? THE AMAZING BOUNCING FERRET MALFOY?!?! THE SAME MALFOY THAT CALLS ME WEASEL, YOU POTTY, AND 'MIONE MUDBLOOD?!?!?! The SAME Malfoy That Has Made Hogwart's a Living HELL for us for Almost SIX YEARS NOW!?!?! Is ANY of This Coming Back to You Now?!?! As Soon as I Get Back, You're Going Straight To Dumbledore. And if He Says You're Not Poisoned or Under a SPELL, Then I'm Going To SLAP YOU SILLY!"
The roaring voice sputtered out as the thing blew them a raspberry and shredded itself up.
"Well," The Gryffindors voice was as shaky as his hands had been. "He took that rather well, don't you think?"
"Harry?" Draco hated the way his voice sounded, small and timid, but he couldn't seem to help it. When had Harry sent an owl to Weasely? And why, if he wasn't planning to continue being their friend after hols as the withdraw of the last few days had suggested?
Potter didn't look at them as he fiddled with the second letter. "I told you before that I haven't got so many friends that I'd give any up willingly. And it didn't seem right to just spring it on them when they got back." He shrugged, an air of diffidence in the action. "I thought I'd give them time to get used to the idea."
It was Greg that broke the stunned silence that both Slytherins had slipped into. Draco wasn't sure he could speak past the relief. Harry wasn't giving up on the idea of being their friend. They still had a chance. He still had a chance. "Thank you, Harry." Greg picked the smaller boy up in a gentle hug that belied his much larger size. The raven-haired wizard wasn't the only one with few real friends. The Slytherin Beater could only count Draco's inner circle- Pansy, Vince, Blaise, and Draco himself- as real friends.
Harry looked surprised for a moment before he smiled and returned the hug. Again, Draco could see that he was uncomfortable about the action, but he couldn't imagine why. The burly boy put him down just as gently as he'd picked him up.
Smiling, Draco just watched before adding his two sickles. "That's not a bad idea. We should probably do that to, just so's none of our friends do anything stupid on the train."
The second letter was from Ron as well. Thankfully, it was worded much less forcefully. The Weasel had apparently written it after he'd calmed down.
"Harry, I can't imagine why you've decided being friends with Malfoy of all people is a good idea. 'Mione and I talked it over though and we decided that if you're willing to forgive and forget, then we can at least try to be civil. But only if he is. He calls her that foul name again and I won't be held accountable for my actions. I'm glad you liked the twins new gags, I'll be bringing some more stuff back to school after the hols. They want us to 'test' them. I was going to use Malfoy and the other Slytherins for guenie pigs, but I guess that's out now, eh? Oh well, we'll find someone. Snape, maybe? Did you have a nice visit with Professor Lupin and Snuffles? "Mione said something that made a lot of sense (but don't tell her I said this). After what happened last year and at the beginning of this year, maybe it's a good thing that you had Malfoy and Goyle there to distract you. You know we worried about you. Hey, I don't have to call them Draco and err.. whatever Goyle's first name is, do I? Ron"
When Harry's smooth baritone stopped, Draco looked up and smirked at him. "Erratic thought processes."
"That's Ron for you."
"What happened last year?" He didn't bother hiding his concern as he wondered if this and the 'illness' Dumbledore had spoken of were related.
Another considering look was cast his way- it really was annoying how often Harry looked at them like that- before slim shoulders shrugged. "I'd rather not talk about it." He quickly smoothed out the last letter and his entire stance practically screamed out that he'd said all he was going to say on the matter. Instead, he read. "Harry. I'm sorry about the Howler, but even after he'd calmed down, Ron insisted. You know how he is sometimes. I don't understand why you'd like to befriend Malfoy either, but I trust you. If you say it's okay, then I'll accept that for now. I will expect an explanation soon though. This is just short a reprieve. Besides, I didn't like leaving you alone to brood. If nothing else, I'm sure Malfoy hasn't allowed you to do that, whether the pair of you were fighting or not." Draco was delighted at seeing a faint blush stain the Gryffindors cheeks. They certainly hadn't spent the last two weeks fighting, not really anyways. "There's an old saying 'Keep you're friends close and you're enemies closer'. If he's going to be a real friend, then that's all well and good. We can certainly always use more of those. If not, then at least you'll be able to keep track of him for the most part. I'm going to cut this short now, Ron's getting impatient to send them all off. Have fun and stay safe, Your Friend, Hermione Granger. P.S. Since you're friends now, you might want to ask Malfoy to tutor you with your potions work. Right now, I don't see how you'll possibly be able to pass without help. And thanks for the book!"
"Malfoy! Goyle! 'Arry!" The trio turned to see Hagrid calling them from as he walked from the castle. Harry stuffed his letters under his robes somewhere and they hurried to meet the half-giant. His greeting consisted of nearly knocking the raven-haired boy over as he patted him on the shoulder. "Snape's a lookin' fer ya. Said fer yu'all to meet 'im in front a Dumbledore's gargoyle an not dawdle er else ya'd all 'ave detention fer the rest of tha 'ols."
"Thanks, Hagrid. See you later, okay?"
"Sure, 'Arry, sure."
"Potter, are you sure your memory isn't faulty? This is a girl's lavatory." The sneer in Snape's voice was matched by the one on his face. Slytherin-Gryffindor truce notwithstanding, the Potion's Professor still seemed to consider Harry a particularly dumb sort of animal.
"Yes, Professor, I am aware of that." Exhaustion and edginess were both heavily visible in the boy's expression as he snapped back at the teacher.
Amusing as the display was, Draco and Greg kept quiet and watched as they followed Potter into the unused restroom. The blonde figured it was the edginess that was causing the normally polite wizard to engage Snape verbally as he usually avoided such confrontations. Before the hook nosed man could retort, or worse deduct points and assign detention, the ghost of a young girl came flying down from the ceiling with a gleeful look.
"Harry! You've come to visit! Why did you bring them?"
The Gryffindor pushed his slipping glasses further up on his nose and smiled at the ghost. "Sorry Myrtle, this isn't a visit really." He was already moving over towards the circle of sinks that stood just past the row of toilets.
"Going down again then?" She seemed disappointed and happy all at the same time.
"Girls," Draco muttered to himself. Even when they were dead they were weird. He was so glad that he was gay.
"Yes. We're going to chop it up." That was said in the most cheerful voice that Harry had used since the whole Mudblood argument. "You want to come with?"
The ghost grinned at him. "That's all right. But don't forget, my offer is always open."
With a grin and a wink, Harry turned his attention back to the sinks.
"Potter-" There was a definite warning in the way the man growled the name.
The hissing noises startled the trio of Slytherins. None of them had heard that since the now infamous dueling club incident. Draco had almost forgotten what it sounded like to here Harry speaking Parsletongue. With a grin, he conceded that he probably hadn't found it quite as sexy four years earlier.
A sudden grinding noise focused his attention back on the sinks and he gaped as they began a complicated shifting and moving. When everything had settled back down, the sinks had pulled apart and opened to expose a tunnel. Peering over Harry's shoulder, he tried to look down, but it was so dark, he couldn't see more than a foot down. "How deep is it?"
Harry shrugged. "Deep enough. That's why we had to bring the ladder."
With the reminder, Greg perked up at having something to do. He'd carried the largest portion of the supplies they needed including the rope ladder that Harry had transfigured from a small tree and insisted they bring.
"Be careful, as I recall, the bottom is littered with the bones of small animals.. or birds. I never really took that close of a look." And with that warning, the brave stupid Gryffindor clenched his eyes shut and stepped off into the darkness.
"Harry!" "Potter!" The Slytherins made a chorus of the boy's name as he disappeared from view.
"It's all right! It's curved like a slide, so you can either slide down or use the ladder. I suggest levitating down anything that might break, though."
The pair of remaining students grinned at one another as Snape took a moment to mutter something very uncomplimentary about the 'idiocy of Gryffindors!' before carefully levitating down the harvesting equipment.
At the Professor's nod, Goyle dropped the ladder down into the hole. With a great deal more dignity than their companion had displayed, the trio followed Potter down into the abyss.
Harry had set the equipment down and was looking around the cave-like area with wand light. Draco joined him as they waited for the others. Bones crunched underfoot and he grimaced as he imagined what this trip was going to end up doing to his rather expensive boots.
"Ew.." Draco held up one hand to cover his eyes against the wand light that was suddenly in his face as his other hand frantically swiped at his hair trying to get the cobwebs out of it. "I don't know what's worse, being blinded or having this stuff in my hair."
There was a disembodied chuckle from the other side of the light before Harry moved it away again and the blonde could see him clearly. "You are such a priss."
"Yes, well, we've established that already, have we not?"
The Gryffindor continued to chuckle softly but moved to help him get the dreadful sticky things out of his precious locks. "There, all better."
"If you two are quite done?"
Heat rose in his face as Draco turned back to see that the other two had finally gotten down. Greg had already picked their things back up and Snape was watching them with one brow arched and amusement on his face.
"Of course, Professor, it's this way." Harry led them off down the cave.
There was only the sound of silence for a few minutes as they picked their way over the rock-strewn path before Harry spoke up again. "Professor, I've been meaning to ask.... It's been several years since this particular basilisk died. Are you sure they'll be anything left that's worth collecting?"
"Potter, you don't read much do you?"
The light thrown off by there wands allowed Draco to see the half-smile that the boy tossed over his shoulder. "Not if I can help it, sir."
"Basilisks are among the rarest and deadliest of all magical creatures. You can't just waltz up and kill one. They also live absurdly long lives. A corpse doesn't even begin to decompose for decades, thankfully or else we'd never be able to use basilisk ingredients. A dead one is found every few hundred years. Those are only a few of the reasons why their so very expensive. Another are the sheer number of uses a talented potions maker can get out of them."
Ahead of them, Harry had begun to rub his right arm at the beginning of lecture and was shuddering by the end of it, but all he said was, "oh" and then it was quiet again.
It wasn't long before they came upon a spot where the tunnel was almost completely blocked by a rockslide. Only one corner was still open enough for them to get through. "Be careful through here. It's not the stablest of areas."
"Really, Harry? We hadn't guessed." They were all very cautious going across, but Harry at least, seemed to know what he was doing. "Was this here before or is it recent?"
Already on the other side, Harry reached through to help him over a particularly wobbly set of rocks and shrugged. "It happened the last time I was down here."
That brought Draco's head up quick, but Harry was already moving forwards to stand in front of a large round door covered with stone snakes. He waited until the Slytherins had joined him then closed his eyes and hissed at it. "Ssssalith Sssalah."
"What does that mean, Harry?" Greg asked as they all watched another snake slide around the door, apparently unlocking it.
The question caused Harry's lip to quirk in a brief, strained grin. "Open Sesame." Then he was moving forward as the door swung open. "You'll have to levitate the stuff again, we have to crawl down another latter."
In no time at all, all four were at the bottom looking into the strangest chamber Draco had ever seen. He and Greg were both looking around in awe, taking in the giant serpent heads and at the end, the bust of a wizard that they both recognized rising above the corpse of a giant snake. His painting was hung up inside their common room. Salazar Slytherin and the basilisk they'd come to harvest. Snape, on the other hand, was looking at an unimpressed Potter.
"Where exactly are we Potter, and when, exactly did you find it?"
The suspicious tone of the question caught the attention of both the other boys and they turned to Harry for the answer.
There was a curiously hard look in the Gryffindors expression as he shrugged before holding both hands out like some sort of presenter. "Welcome to the Chamber of Secrets, gentlemen."
It was halfway through their work that it happened. Later, Draco would curse himself for not realizing sooner- for not sensing the danger in time to prevent what happened, no matter that Madam Pomfrey and both Professors Snape and Dumbledore had assured him that he couldn't have known.
The lone Gryffindor had been edgy and increasingly jumpy as the hours crept by. He refused to come near the corpse and instead seemed to pour his undivided attention into labeling everything that the others harvested. In one hand, he clutched his wand almost convulsively as if he was afraid someone was going to try to steal it, his other rubbed the inside of his right elbow joint except when he was handling vials. And he never, not even once, turned his back on the corpse.
Snape had moved to the other side with Greg and the pair were trying to move the tail end back up out of the water and onto the cement walkway.
They pushed and pulled and finally, the massive tail was where they could get to it. It flopped up onto the stones, splashing water everywhere.
And Harry Potter went absolutely nutters.
He jerked backwards, falling on his arse and scooted away. His wand was leveled at the snake and before anyone had a chance to react, he was shouting curses at it.
"Bloody Hell," was all Snape had a chance to ground out before he had to jump and roll off to one side to avoid a vicious curse that Draco didn't think Harry was supposed to know.
The magical aura around the smaller boy was swelling at an alarming rate and Draco rushed towards him, hoping to calm him down. Twin shards of vivid emerald jerked towards him and the blonde stopped suddenly, dumbfounded. There was no recognition in Harry's eyes at all. The wand aimed towards him and if Greg hadn't knocked him out of the way, Draco knew he'd have been in a world of hurt. Even if he didn't recognize the curse itself, the color was that brilliant red of a pain curse.
The pair lay in a tangle, unable to get to their wands or move out of the way as Harry began another curse, this one far worse than the last. Luckily, Snape's voice rang out before he could finish.
Frightened and angry, the Gryffindor turned towards the Professor and an artificial wind kicked up through the chamber. "NO, not again!" he yelled. "I won't let you, Tom! I won't!" Then the invisible force of the wind was throwing Snape back into the giant snake's corpse.
Still, it gave the two students time to take somewhat dubious cover behind the other end of the basilisk. "Professor, what the bloody hell is going on? He didn't even recognize us."
"When we get out of here, I'm going to give that senile old man a piece of my mind," Snape ground out as he tucked Potter's wand into his pocket. "What in Salazar's name was he thinking? Sending us down here with the equivalent of a ticking time bomb?"
On the other side of the cover, Harry could still be heard ranting and cursing and the water was splashing them in great waves caused by the magical winds he was producing.
"I rather suspect that the 'illness' the Headmaster mentioned was at least partially something called 'Post Traumatic Stress Disorder'. Flashbacks are a symptom." He jerked his thumb towards the sound Gryffindors voice.
Cocking his head and listening, Draco could make out something about Ginny- Weasely probably- and Tom- whoever that was. "What are we going to do, Professor Snape?" He didn't want Harry to be hurt, but neither did he want to end up on the wrong end of a curse that wasn't even truly meant for him. That would well and truly suck.
"One of you draw his attention over there," Snape pointed towards the tail end of the basilisk. "I'll come around and knock him out from the other side."
"Sir, you're not going to-"
"No Mr. Malfoy, I'm not going to kill him or in any other way injure him. If I was going to do that, it'd be much easier to make it look like an accident in potions class, don't you think?"
Draco blushed at his favorite teacher's sardonic tone of voice and moved into position to play decoy but stopped at the hand on his arm. "Draco, I'll do it." Greg's expression was serious.
"No, really Draco. I weigh more, I'm less likely to get blown away." The attempt of humor fell short, but Draco appreciated the effort and smiled faintly.
"All right. Be careful."
The big Slytherin lumbered out into the open. "Hey Potter!" At his yell, the winds on his side increased and Draco had to concede that he'd have probably lost his footing in moments.
Draco wrapped his arms around his knees and fought the urge to cover his ears.
"Bloody hell! Stupefy!"
He could hear a startled yelp come from Harry and then the sound of a body crashing to the floor and skidding a ways. He was up and around the snake before the winds had died all the way down.
Snape was kneeling beside the fallen student, panting, as he felt for injuries with surprisingly gentle hands. "I think he'll be all right. His head hit the walkway, but there's no blood and I don't think he has a concussion. Only Madam Pomfrey will be able to know for sure though." The Professor looked back and forth between the basilisk and Potter for a few seconds before stripping his outer cloak off and draping it over the boy. Then he turned his attention to Draco and Greg. "Look, we need to finish this and I seriously doubt that Potter will be up for a another expedition down here anytime soon. We do this as quickly as possible, then we'll take Potter up to the infirmary."
"But sir-" Draco was too stunned to say anything, but Greg wasn't. Not that Snape let him get his entire protest out.
"Mr. Goyle, in case you hadn't noticed, Potter is the only one who can get in here, unless one of you has suddenly developed Parsletongue without telling me?" They both shook their heads no. "The rest of this corpse will have to be harvested. Would you rather we did it now while he's unconscious, or wait and force him back down here on another day?"
The man had a point, however loathe Draco was to admit. With one last glance at Harry, he moved to go back to what he'd been doing before the entire episode had started. The sooner they were done, the sooner they could get Harry to the nurse.
Later that evening, Draco had planted himself in the chair beside Harry's bed and refused to move. Madam Pomfrey had given up trying to make him, and had simply asked that he notify her as soon as the patient woke. Greg had stayed as well, but he was already asleep in a bed further down.
They'd already undone the stunning curse. Pomfrey assured him that Harry was sleeping naturally now and that it was exactly what he needed.
Snape and Dumbledore had been there earlier, the Headmaster with a sad look on his face as he watched the sleeping boy. He'd apologized to all of them for not fully informing them. Professor Snape had not been mollified, but he'd left in a huff, stopping only long enough to brusquely request that Draco 'keep him informed'.
Idly, he wondered if Snape felt guilty for the amount of force he'd had to use to knock Harry out. While it was true that the Gryffindor didn't have a concussion, he was going to have a hell of a headache when he woke up.
His eyes traveled down the length of Harry's body. He'd been here the whole time and had seen the scars here and there when they'd undressed him.
Harry Potter had lived a rough life.
Sighing, his gaze traveled back upwards and came to rest on fuzzy emerald eyes. Funny how much more vulnerable Harry looked when you could actually see the clear irises that were usually trapped behind the- wait a minute...
"You're awake!" Draco exclaimed as he leaned over and gave the other boy a half hug of sorts. "We were worried."
Harry gave a lopsided smile and tried to push himself into a sitting position. The blonde helped him up and fluffed the pillows behind his back before sitting back down in the chair he'd claimed.
"What happened?" One slender hand was running through the disheveled mop of raven hair while the other reached for the glasses that Draco handed over. He tried to stifle his disappointment as the lovely green was hidden again.
"Flashbacks. Professor Snape had to hit you with a particularly forceful Stupefy to stop you and you fell back and hit your head. Do you feel all right?"
"Well, that explains the headache anyways." Harry pinched the bridge of his nose with a pained expression before his features smoothed back down. "How long was I out?"
With a shrug, Draco looked around. He knew that the infirmary had a clock somewhere, he just wasn't sure where it was. Finally he spotted it on over the fireplace at the end of the room. "Almost midnight now, so eight hours or so? Madam Pomfrey didn't seem to think you'd be up before morning though."
"You should have gone to sleep, Draco."
The pureblood bit his lip nervously. He wasn't really sure what to say. "I wanted to be here when you woke up, Harry."
"Why?" The other boy looked adorably confused.
He shrugged. "Isn't that what friends do?" Harry only looked half convinced but didn't argue.
Instead, the Gryffindor nodded. "Thanks."
"Why didn't you tell us about the flashbacks, Harry?" He'd tried really hard not to be hurt by that lack of confidence, but hadn't been very successful. "Or about the Chamber of Secrets."
"I don't talk about a lot of things, Draco. Not just to you. I never even told Dumbledore everything that happened down there." Harry leaned back into the pillows and stared up at the ceiling. "I'd rather just forget it happened at all. A lot of my life is like that."
Draco wasn't sure how to respond to that. He didn't understand it. His own life had been easy. The blonde would be the first to admit that he might be a little spoiled. Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy had always given him exactly what he wanted. He'd had the best of everything and he knew his parents loved him, in their own aristocratic fashion. The only real source of contention between his father and himself was his desire to be a Potion's Master rather than a politician.
He certainly didn't have the nightmares that he knew Harry had. The other boy was almost silent with them, but sharing close quarters over the holidays had allowed Draco and Greg to see them.
The Gryffindor looked over at him, confused. "For what?"
Pulling his knees up into the chair so that he could hold his knees against his chest, he rested his chin on them and bit his lip softly.
How to answer that question..
He was sorry that things had been so bad for Harry.
He was sorry Voldemorte was trying to kill the other teen. That the madman had killed his parents.
He was sorry that he'd made Harry's life worse than it already had been over the years.
He was sorry for a lot of things and there was nothing he could do anything about any of it.
Shrugging, he found he couldn't verbalize any of that. Not in a way that made sense. "Anything. Everything."
Still, Harry must have understood some of what he was thinking because the raven-haired boy was smiling again. "That's a pretty broad range of things to be sorry for, Draco. But thank you."
The pair sat there in comfortable silence for a moment before Harry spoke again. "Is it midnight yet?"
Draco looked back over at the timepiece. "Um... About five minutes, why?"
"Do wizards have any New Year's traditions? Like, making New Year's Resolutions or anything?"
"Must be a muggle thing. I've never heard of it."
Harry chuckled. "Why am I not surprised? So what do you do to celebrate?"
He thought about it. "We throw a lavish party."
The muggle raised boy rolled his eyes and muttered something about purebloods that Draco ignored. "Muggles have two main New Year's customs. The first being 'The Making of New Year's Resolutions'. It has to be something that you wouldn't normally do- or haven't been doing, at least. Like, exercise or stop smoking. My main New Year's Resolution is to study more. Like 'Mione said, I'm almost failing potions."
"I can help you with that," Draco interrupted. "If you want, that is."
"Thanks. I can certainly use the help. So, what's your Resolution?"
The Slytherin pondered for a second but couldn't come up with any thing off the cuff as it were. "Do I have to decide before midnight?"
Harry looked uncertain. "I dunno. I always have, but I never really asked anyone else before."
"Then, as is my right as a pureblood, I will decide tomorrow."
Emarld green widened incredulously before Harry doubled over in laughter. "You.. oh my god.. you are too much sometimes," he gasped out.
It was a little annoying and Draco didn't really see what was all that funny, but rather than get upset, he decided just to be glad that Harry was laughing.
Still, he changed the subject away from whatever it was that amused the other boy so. "What's the other one?"
Gaining some measure of control over himself, Harry threw him a questioning look. "The other what?"
"The other muggle custom. You said there were two." Honestly, sometimes it felt like no one around him understood proper English.
For some reason, the Gryffindor blushed a brilliant shade of scarlet. "Err.. Well.. How close is it to midnight?" he stuttered out instead of answering the question.
Arching one finely chiseled blonde brow, Draco leaned back to look at the clock again. "Less than a minute."
"Count it down once it gets to ten seconds."
Malfoy's did not respond well to commands, but the youngest of the clan decided to take pity on his companion and not explain that right then and there. Instead, he allowed himself to obey, just this once. "Ten... Nine... Eight..." There was a shuffling noise on the bed beside him, but he didn't turn his head. "Seven... Six.... Five... Four..."
Hands, soft despite their calluses, came to rest lightly on his face and Draco startled. "Harry?"
The kiss was rather more chaste than he was used to, feeling much like he imagined butterfly wings would, but he found himself enthralled. Rather than cheapen the moment, he wrapped his arms around the slim body and just held on.
For once, Harry didn't freeze up at the contact. Instead, he sighed and lay his head on Draco's shoulder, face turned towards the neck. "It's muggle tradition to welcome in the New Year with a kiss."
It took a moment for the blonde to swallow past the lump that had formed in his throat. "Really?"
"Mmhmm.." Harry murmured sleepily. Draco felt the hum against his skin and shivered.
"Well.. I guess Muggles might have a few good ideas after all."
He felt Harry's smile at that. "Happy New Year, Draco."
"Happy New Year, Harry."
Soon, the Gryffindors breathing evened out and his body completely relaxed against Draco's. Reluctant to let go, it was several more minutes before Draco, moving carefully so's not to wake the boy from his slumber, eased Harry back down into the infirmary bed.
He pulled the covers up and pushed the dark hair out of the way so that he had an unimpeded view of Harry's entire face.
Draco knew exactly what his New Year's Resolution was, no matter that he'd told Harry otherwise.
Leaning over, he whispered softly against the sleeping boy's brow. "I'll make it up to you, Harry. Even if it doing so does mean playing nice with Mudbloods and Weasley's."
He sealed his promise with a gentle kiss and climbed into the bed next to Harry's.
Tomorrow was the start of a new year and if he was going to keep his resolution, he was going to need his rest.