When Opportunity Knocks
When Opportunity Knocks by Pseudonymous Entity
Summary: When Harry does an impulsive favour for Draco Malfoy at the beginning of second year, he gets more in return than he bargained for. Apparently, Slytherins take debts very seriously.
AN: This was written out on my phone using a touch screen. I apologize in advance for any SPaG errors.
Ever Yours, Pseu (The Magnificent)
"Choose alliances wisely
Or you may be condemned for someone else's sins."
Harry studied his schedule briefly before laying it to the side.
He listened as his classmates caught up with friends they hadn't seen since the year before, regaling each other with their summer exploits. His lips curled upward slightly as he heard Seamus bemoaning the end of summer. The atmosphere was young and childish and Harry was just so pleased he hadn't been expelled for flying into the whomping willow that he couldn't bring himself to complain about anything. Pushing his oatmeal aside Harry reached down for his bag to tuck his schedule away, only to grasp air. Harry frowned and maneuvered to look down at the space between his feet and under the bench where his bag would normally be. Large green eyes blinked.
"I've forgotten my bag." Harry observed.
"What was that Harry?" He leaned back up to see Hermione Granger, one of his best friends, watching him curiously.
Harry shrugged. "I forgot to grab my book bag."
Hermione's eyebrows scrunched together, and one of her fingers tapped on the side of her glass. "You'd best retrieve it now or you might be late. After the stunt the two of you pulled I wouldn't get into anymore trouble." She pause and then a small smile curved along her face. "At least not yet."
He sighed inwardly. Harry really didn't want to trek the whole way back but Hermione made a fair point. It was best not to tempt fate. "Ill go fetch it then."
Harry pulled up his legs and swung them over the bench. He stood and stretched for a moment, picked up his schedule and folded it carefully before sliding it into a pocket.
"Would you like one of us to come with you?" Hermione asked. Her brown eyes glanced around the table before finding Ron, Harry's other best friend, amidst a sea of red hair farther down the table. Ron had three older brothers at Hogwarts and it was a pseudo tradition for them to at least eat breakfast together as they didn't run in any of the same circles and were in different years from one another.
Harry glanced down where Ron was being teased by Fred nd George, the twins. He frowned. Harry looked back to Hermione and noted the food still on her plate.
"Don't worry about it." He said, already moving away from the table. "I'll meet you at class."
"Don't be late." Hermione called to him.
Harry waved a hand vaguely over his shoulder to let her know he'd heard he warning. Once outside the doors to the great hall the sound of chattering and laughing lowered to a dull murmur. I was much quieter now and though there were less people it made the castle seem even larger to Harry. As a child who'd grown up with very little social interaction, sometimes he needed the space.
Harry let out a content sigh, more of a whisper than anything as he crossed the entrance hall. Across the way as an arch which led to the main staircase. I was possible to reach any of the floors from it though you would still have to make your way along that floor and its corridors to your classroom unless you were lucky enough to have it just off the staircase. His trainers, which had seen better days, made soft smacks against the stone.
If hadn't been so quit, if Harry had left a little later when students would be trickling from the hall and loitering in the entry way, He probably wouldn't have heard it. It was a low distressed sort of hum that reached his ears. Harry slowed his steps and cocked his head to the side, inky hair tumbling down the other end of his face as he did so. What was that?
Curious Harry subtly looked around the entrance hall. Eyes sharp from playing quidditch the year before Harry spotted an out of place bit of stark white against the tan-grey of the stone walls.
Draco Malfoy, a Slytherin student in Harry's year, stood all the way on the other end toward the bit of steps leading down into the dungeons. He was at the bottom of the big fat steps -there were five of them- and at the top of the set of stairs leading to the corridor. Harry realized after staring for a moment that the reason he could see Draco so well was because there wasn't any torch light coming from the corridor beneath him, so his hair stood out in the darkness. The pale boy stood there, robes pressed, shoes shines, snow coloured hair slicked back, gazing into the dark depths below.
Harry frowned. He was doing a lot of frowning this morning considering how good of mood he was actually in. Why wasn't the other boy going down the stairs? His first thought was perhaps Peeves the school poltergeist had played some prank the Slytherin wanted no part of. Something smelly or sticky or otherwise disagreeable. But, he then reasoned, if that were the case why wouldn't he fetch a prefect to set it to rights? Or at the very least take the long way around by going up floor and down the corridor to go down the staircase at the other end. He might have to double back a bit depending where he was going but it would get him there faster than standing still.
The sound came again. Harry's eyes narrowed as he caught sight of Draco's shoulders going up and down sharply. Draco took a shuffled step forward, than immediately took on backward. His right hand clasped he strap of his book bag over his shoulder tightly and the other hung at his side, fingers curled into a fist. Harry's frown deepened.
Something was amiss, he just couldn't figure out what it was.
Unable to stop himself Harry's feet moved cautiously toward the other boy. Something about this situation was ringing a bell in his head. As if he ought to know the problem but just couldn't remember the answer. Then it hit Harry and he very nearly stumbled. Last year Harry, along with is best friends had served a detention with Neville Longbottom, another Gryffindor, and Draco. It was served in the forbidden forest. Harry remembered the snow haired boy making similar movements on their way to the forest, naming off different things that might be within as excuses for why they oughtn't go inside. Besides it being forbidden and all. Harry's eyes widened as it came to him that perhaps the boy wasn't so much afraid of werewolves or dark creatures being in the forest, but more so the dark within it. He had stayed very close to Harry while they walked together.
Harry bit his lip. That was it wasn't itt? Draco was afraid of the dark. The Gryffindor stood their indisicevly. Then he found his feet carrying him forward to stand near the other boy who didn't even look at him.
"There's a wrinkle in your robe sleeve." Harry tried.
"No there isn't Potter." Draco snapped, his eyes locked on the stairs below him.
Harry surprised a smile. Draco had a mouth whether or not he was afraid, it seemed.
"No, there isn't." Harry agreed. He, feeling rather bold, took a step forward and then stepped down so he was on the first stair of the set leading down. He turned is head so he could see the other boy. Draco was watching him now. Harry mused for a moment.
"I'm just heading to potions. We've got a double today you know." Harry commented. He turned to face forward, taking another step down. "I'm always late so I thought this year I would make an effort to be early. The things is I can't quiet remember where it is. Is it three minutes down the main corridor, then the first left and tow rights? Or..."
He herd rather than saw Draco take step down he stairs behind him.
"Or maybe it is the second right and then the first left?"
Draco took another step until he was on the same stair as Harry. "How can you be so terrible with directions?" The Slytherin questioned.
Harry took a few more slow steps down. "Ah, all the way to the end and then a right." He said.
Draco let out an aggravated huff, walking down the steps to match Harry's pace, though he never walked further than Harry. "Not even close. You're a seeker for Salazar's sake. Paying attention to detail is supposed to be your trademark. "
And so it continued. When they reached the bi of corridor that had it's torches lit Harry expected Draco to leave him. Instead they walked the ret of the way together, chatting. Or throwing taunts really. Harry pretended to be terrible at remembering everything (what is his name? Linguini? It's Zabini Potter.), and Draco insulted him for it. It was just the sound of their voices and their shoes on the stone for so long that when they reached the classroom and entered it the noise was a bit abrupt. Draco walked over to the Slytherin side of the room and Harry scanned for Hermione. Finding her head of bushy hair and walked along to the place she had reserved for him. Harry smiled and waved hello when she looked up from the book she was reading through.
There you are Harry. Well, sit down. The professor hasn't arrived yet-"
The door shut was a bang and everyone scrambled for their seats. Professor Snape, the Potions Master, called out a quick attendance to verify everyone was resent. Then he wrapped his wand against the board once. Long quick letters began to scrawl across the black board. "Partner up. Everyone copy down the ingredient description and category listing pages, there's three of them do pay attention, and choose one from the list. Write a short essay on which potions from last year you remember it being used in and what they were for. Begin."
Harry leaned forward, squinting, to read the words on the board. To his right he heard a frustrated groan.
Harry turned to see Hermione looking at Ron expectantly on the other side of her. The red head had face very close to his book, flipping through the first few pages again and again. "It isn't here." He exclaimed.
Hermione pried the book from his fingers and flipped it to the front cover. "That's why." She said, tapping a finger at the bottom. "It's an earlier edition. It doesn't have them."
Ron's face paled. "What am I to do?"
Hermione rolled her eyes, set Ron's book aside, flipped hers open to the first page of the ingredient index and pointed at him. "You may use mine with me. We'll copy together. Remember your book next time or I'll let you lose points." She sniffed.
"You're the best Hermione." Said Ron. He quickly yanked out a pack of parchment and begin scribbling ingredients down.
Harry gave the pair a wry smile. Reaching own for his own book bag Harry's eyes widened. Air. He'd forgotten to get his bag! Harry stood up and glanced around the desk in denial. How could he have forgotten?
"Harry?" Hermione questioned, looking up at him.
Unfortunately she wasn't the only one to notice.
"Mister Potter..." Snape began. Harry thought that perhaps if they weren't in a room full of students the man might bang his head against a wall. As it was he simply gazed at Harry with a look of long suffering. "Do not tell me your books fell out of that car along with your good sense?"
"No Professor." Harry said.
"Then bring out your book."
Harry felt his throat closing up. What could he do? Both the professor and Hermione were watching Harry expectantly.
"It's over here Potter."
Harry whipped around to look at the other side of the classroom. Draco was already writing the assignment. "I borrowed it remember? You can come collect it."
Harry was completed to stand there gaping like a fish but being watched he managed to stumble his way across the unpolished floor nd into the seat beside Draco.
The Slytherin didn't look at him or say anything. He merely pushed the book so it lay between them and handed over some parchment.
Not knowing what else to do Harry took the only remaining quill on the table and began his work. The entire situation was noted of course. Hermione kept turning in her seat to look at them and quite a few of the Gryffindors looked up now and then to stare at Harry. He noticed Parvati Patil, a Gryffindor, was seated gossiping to Pansy Parkinson, a Slytherin, both of them looking toward where Harry was seated beside Draco. He hadn't even known they knew one another.
The Slytherins though. Harry cautiously looked around. They didn't pay much mind to it aside from glancing over once or twice.
"They don't mind?" Harry whispered, when his own curiosity go the better of him.
Draco didn't give any sign he'd heard Harry until he put a period at the end of his sentence. Draco looked up. "Why should they? We're of a similar age. Our families are wealthy. We're both first born and only children. We've B been seen speaking to one another before. We're related. It isn't so strange that we sit together."
Harry felt his mind blank. "Related?" He repeated.
Draco hesitated. "Not siblings or first cousin close, but close enough to count. In my opinion." He finished, his voice quieter than when he began.
Harry wondered if he'd insulted the other boy. He hadn't meant it just...Harry hadn't known they were related. Harry's thoughts swam with all the questions he wanted to ask. How could he though? He didn't want to upset Draco. At least, not if it wasn't on purpose. Or look stupid for that matter.
Class ended. They turned in their assignments. Draco bent down to Harry and said. "You might find if you walked the corridor to the left down to the end an empty room with a gaudy tapestry on the wall. You might discover if you lift it far enough to the side the entrance to a secret passage that might bring you to the sixth floor just shy of the main staircase. And if you went up the stairs directly to you right you might find yourself on the seventh floor with enough time to gather missing items and get to your next class on time." With that the other boy left.
Harry left the class a bit dazed by the events of he morning. Hermione and Ron were outside the door waiting for him.
"Did you really lend Draco your textbook Harry?" Asked Hermione.
"I think it's more like Draco just took-"
Ron snorted. "He took it without asking."
Hermione shot a glare at Ron. "Well I think it's great you two are trying to get along." She looked him over. "But where is your book?"
Ron grinned. "Didn't give it back did he?"
"Er no." Said Harry, bemused.
"Bet you learned your lesson." Ron said pointedly. He let out an OOMPH as Hermione dug her elbow into his stomach.
"However it happened, you still need to go get your bag at least." Said Hermione. "If you're quick about it you won't be very late, and Flitwick is pretty understanding the first week of school."
Harry saluted and waved them off. "I'll get right to it."
He turned on his heel and headed for Draco's secret passage. Honestly he'd meant to say Draco had just taken advantage of the situation, though he hadn't been certain how to explain why Draco helped him without revealing Draco's fear. He didn't think the Slytherin would appreciate that. In the end Ron saved him the trouble by coming up with an excuse on his own. Harry didn't see the harm in letting them think that.
What could happen?
He was pleased to note the passage did exist and went to the sixth floor as advertised. He had been mildly concerned it was a wild goose chase and had prepared a few excuses for Flitwick should that be the case. Harry retrieved his bag and went about the rest of his day.
Later at dinner, Harry glanced toward the Slytherin table. Was that it then? He felt oddly conflicted. On the one hand, Harry didn't particularly like Draco. He was rather spoilt and self involved and had gotten Harry detention in trouble more than once. Harry pushed his mashed potatoes around his plate with his spoon. On the other hand, the blonde had saved Harry from losing house points. The Draco he thought he knew would never have done that. Maybe it was a Slytherin thing? This for that? Harry helped him in the dark corridor so Draco pays him back…
That didn't explain why Draco told Harry about the secret passage, though. Harry chewed his lip. And he had seemed upset when he thought Harry didn't consider them family. To be fair Harry had never known that. Not much outside of that interaction changed. Draco didn't try to talk to him again, nor did Harry try. It wasn't like they'd have much of anything in common anyway.
Harry pushed his potatoes away with a scowl. Why did this bother him so much? So what if he had a however many times removed cousin at school with him. He had a cousin at home and from experience, it wasn't exactly something to cheer about. And being afraid of something as silly as the dark at their age wasn't an indicator of a nice human being in there somewhere. Draco wasn't nice. It was a one time fluke. That's it.
Not hungry anymore, Harry said goodbye to Hermione and made his way out of the great hall.
Harry lay in bed that night replaying the evens of the morning in his head. Specifically, the part where Draco followed Harry through the corridor. Why did his brain focus on it? He analyzed it trying to see what was so interesting to his subconscious that it was keeping him awake thinking about it. Harry felt a little embarrassed for Draco. He himself would never want to be caught in a similar situation let alone by someone like...
Harry sat up in bed.
That was it. Draco had followed Harry into the dark corridor. Had followed him all through it. Draco had trusted Harry not to tease him. Had trusted him to lead him through the corridor and not to leave him there or pull a mean trick. Someone, someone else might have done. Something Ron would definitely do. The redhead wouldn't let something like finding out Draco still feared the dark at twelve years old go. He would throw it in his face every time he saw him. And even with their animosity from the year before Draco had trusted Harry not to do any of those things. It gave Harry an odd ache in his middle for he hadn't done anything to earn that kind of trust.
Was it...was it because they were related? Had Draco trusted that Harry, being a family member, wouldn't take advantage in that situation? Harry could remember how freely Draco expressed his fright when they were in the forest together and sought reassurance from Harry albeit rather snottily.
Or did Harry just want that sort of connection so desperately that he was imagining connections where they didn't exist? His throat was tight and his eyes stung and it occurred to Harry that he wanted some sort of family connection. Which was so stupid because the Dursleys were related to him closely and even lived with him and they couldn't stand Harry. Didn't he learn his lesson from them? Harry let out a choked laugh. He guessed not.
He didn't get any sleep that night. The next morning Harry propped his head on his hand and tried his best not to fall asleep at his breakfast table let alone eat anything. Hermione seemed somewhat concerned but she didn't say anything to him about it, which Harry was grateful for. He had no idea what he would have said if she did. He flitted through the rest of the day in a confused, hurt haze. Harry had been unaware how he longed for a close relationship. A childish desire he had thought long since given up when he reached age eight and knew he would never have his family's acceptance or affection.
After the last class of the day, Harry made excuses and found himself in a corner of the library. Originally Harry intended to research magical families to see if he could find out how exactly he was related to Draco. He really couldn't just let it go it seemed. But then he'd sort of frozen up and been unable to commit to walking to the desk and asking the librarian where to look. Instead, he sat in silence staring at the table top.
"You look like death Potter."
Harry snapped his head up.
Draco stood on the other side of the table. Without a by-your-leave, he plopped a large stack of books on the table and began pulling out a chair. "You're in my spot you know." But the blonde made no move to get rid of Harry.
The Slytherin brought out a book from his bag and put it in front of him. He then picked up one from his large pile and pushed it toward Harry. Raising an eyebrow Harry pulled it toward him and looked at the title. The Book of Silver and Gold: Wizarding Europe's Prominent Families of History. It was bookmarked. Harry flipped it open to a page about the Ancient and Noble House of Black. There near the bottom, his name was circled in green ink. He made a strangled sound that wanted to be a laugh but was much sharper and sadder than a laugh should be.
"Thank you." He managed.
Across from him, Draco paused in his writing, his eyes kept on the page. The blonde took in two deep slow breaths before giving him a nod and continuing to write. Harry quickly looked back down to the page. Harry's eyes railed along the words on the page soaking everything they saw. His mind, however, wandered in circles and it wondered.
Had he not expected a thank you? Harry didn't know.
Harry didn't know a lot of things.
AN: Theories, Questions, Comments and Limericks always welcome.
Why do you think Draco is still afraid of the dark?
How did those torches go out?
Is everything as it seems?