Summary: Sometimes when things change there's no changing back. And sometimes that's okay. It's one year after the battle at Hogwarts. The school is rebuilt. Harry is returning after living alone in a haze of depression at Grimmauld Place. He finds solace in unexpected places. 8th year fic. MOD Harry.
Characters: Harry Potter. Regulus Black. The Gryffindors. Draco Malfoy.
Warnings: Some bashing. Some Dark!Harry. Necromancy. Slash.
AN: "I challenge you to write a gothic-ish, necromancer, Master of Death 8th year fic, with Drarry." Challenge accepted. I've never written an 8th year fic at all, so cheers to something new.
Ever Yours, Pseu
Every inch of me is trembling but not from the cold
Something is familiar, like a dream I can reach but not quite hold
I can sense you there like a friend I've always known - I'm arriving and it feels like home
I have always been a fortress, cold secrets deep inside
You have secrets too but you don't have to hide...I'm dying to meet you
Tragedy is an equal opportunity assassin.
He doesn't care for your status or your wealth or your ethics. No one is exempt from his clutches. It is in the aftermath were our differences matter. Each of us must go on from the rubble and ruin of our previous lives in our own fashion. For most people, this results in anger or sadness. But there are levels beyond anger. Depths darker than sadness. And only those who tread them can understand the struggle to carry on under the weight of their fury and despair.
It's been nearly a year since the battle at Hogwarts. Time has moved forward as it always does, and the people who survived are slowly moving on and rebuilding their lives as people do. The school is nearly finished being restored to its former glory. The ministry has put its self back together with new leaders, new politicians, and new troubles. Families no longer fall to pieces at the sight of empty chairs. The pain begins to fade, smiles return.
Such is the way of it.
But there are levels beyond anger and depths darker than sadness.
Green eyes stare out a charmed window. Their owner curled up on the window seat, where he'd been spending most of his time. He rarely left the library anymore. Harry made a token attempt at remembering when the last time he'd left the room had been before a misty-blurry-ness crept in from his peripheral vision, like frost on glass. Once again he lost himself to the wandering fog of his mind.
It had been like this, in tiny doses at first, since the night he walked to his death in the forbidden forest. He felt...misplaced. Or, perhaps, incomplete. A foreign entity in the world which remained much as it had been before his journey into the forest, and which yet found its self irreparably changed from that moment on. Something was amiss. Unfortunately, Harry couldn't be bothered to puzzle out what exactly it was that was wrong.
Maybe it was understandable after all he had gone through or maybe it was cowardly. To avoid looking at the world around him in perfect clarity, accepting what he found, and then continuing on to decipher what his problem was so he could set about fixing it.
There was some part of Harry, self-aware even in the haze, that knew he wasn't ready to open his eyes yet. That knew this thing which left him disconnected was a permanent change and that he may not like the truth once he'd seen it. Harry was never one for ignoring inconvenient truths. Once he saw it he'd never be able to forget it or ignore it.
Best never to take a good look at it in the light.
A chime went off in the background. Someone was trying to get through the floo again. Harry didn't bother wondering who it was. The floor had been set up to deny access a long time ago and Kreacher would tell if there was anything he needed to know. Sure enough, a soft pop came from his right. Harry dragged his eyes from the window to examine his house-elf.
"Master Harry," The elf began. "The Granger witch tried to visit master's house. She was rejected, yes. Rejected. As it pleases master. The Granger witch now demands an audience."
"No." Whispered Harry.
Kreacher's lips pulled wide into an ugly grin. "Kreacher will dismiss the Granger witch..."
The sound of the elf's voice faded into white noise as the fog consumed Harry once more. Indeed, Harry had already turned back to the window as he answered. It could have been hours or weeks maybe, until the next time someone tried to demand his attention. Harry couldn't say. The world was blurry all of the time, now. He couldn't focus on anything outside of his mind for very long before he felt a weightlessness to his thoughts and they began to wander. It was easier this way. Ignoring everyone and everything outside of his mind. Even himself.
Some survival mechanism that kicked in somewhere in the deepest parts of his soul. Something that knew the torrential downpour of emotion waiting for him outside the fog was one he couldn't weather. Not yet. Not now.
Maybe not ever.
"The loud red witch is in the fire," Kreacher informed him.
Harry blinked back the haze glittering at the corners of his eyes.
"The one who thinks Kreacher can not cook for his master." Said Kreacher.
"You cook just fine Kreacher," Said Harry. He shook his head but the watery feeling inside of it didn't go away. "What does she want?"
Kreacher snapped his fingers. A letter floated into Harry's lap. He was only a few sentences into it before he set it aside. Another ministry function. This one celebrating the reopening of the school at Summer's end. If Harry had a desire to be gawked at he'd stroll down Diagon Alley in the middle of the day. He forced himself to refocus on Kreacher. "Well, that's not happening."
"Kreacher thought not, master. He is telling the red witch. The red witch isn't listening to Kreacher." Harry had very little trouble believing that. Something yanked on the back of his mind. He shook his head again and pulled his eyes away from the window toward Kreacher. Harry blinked several times, willing the fog that surrounded him most days to clear. It never really did. Not all the way. Only ever just enough to let him see a tiny bit more of the world outside himself and then...then it would reced and he'd be in the fog once more.
"What was that?"
The elf shifted on his feet. "Kreacher is saying this was Master Regulus' unhappy place. When he was alive to be unhappy. Kreacher was bringing him tea and watching him stare out the window. Just as Master Harry does."
Harry squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed at them with his palms. He opened his eyes and shook his head. "Really?"
Kreacher's ears perked up a bit. Clearly, he hadn't expected a response. The elf nodded. "Yes, Master. Master Regulus was often unhappy. Maser Regulus sat here and stared out of the window. Sometimes he is asking Kreacher to bring him books to read. Books he shouldn't be reading." Kreacher dropped his voice low. "Sometimes Master Regulus is giving Kreacher summer squash to keep it secret."
Harry turned all the way away from the window, dropping his legs over the window seat and letting his feet rest on the carpet of the library. "I used to sneak into the forbidden section of the library at school." He found himself saying. Harry didn't know why his afternoon was turning into a heart to heart with an onery house elf or why he was participating. It sounded like his voice was underwater or far away. He hadn't been this awake in a while. If one could really call it awake.
Kreacher narrowed his eyes and peered up at Harry. "Master Harry be breaking rules to look at books he shouldn't be?"
Harry nodded. "Yes. I used an invisibility cloak to do it."
The elf tapped his fingers together. "Perhaps Kreacher is showing Master Harry some of Master Regulus' secret books?"
His brows rose. "Molly didn't...er...I thought the red witch threw anything...interesting away?"
The elf gave Harry a wicked grin. His fingers snapped and a pilled of books and scrolls were situated around Harry for him to look at. "Kreacher is not letting anything important be lost. Kreacher is protecting his family's secrets."
Strangely touched by the elf's unhealthy loyalty with the Blacks, Harry glanced over the titles. There were books on all sorts of magic Harry had never even hear of. Artifice, Scrying, Projecting and Chanting. Books on manipulating elements, reading auras, and sensing magical presence. He flipped through them all and couldn't help thinking how incredibly useful these things would have been to know when he was running for his life and trying to find and destroy dark artefacts.
No. Best not to think of that.
In the collection of books was a diary. At first, Harry looked through it out of sheer curiosity and the hopes Regulus may have written about Sirius. What he found was a complete surprise. Regulus was a boy who loved and resented his older brother. A boy who pretended perfection to please everyone around him, to the exclusion of things he'd rather have done and who he would have rathered be. A wizard determined to do what was expected of him and make his family proud. Hours later. Or maybe days. Harry paused in his reading to look up from the diary, thoughts racing.
What had he been expecting? A spoiled boy perhaps. That was stupid of him, knowing what he did about the last moments of Regulus' life. The wizard sacrificed himself to save a world that would never know all he'd gone through to try to keep it safe. He was lonely and sarcastic and Harry, guilty, felt an immediate kinship that only grew with every page.
"Kreacher is bringing master his tea."
Harry looked up. "Thank you, Kreacher."
The elf rubbed his hands together and stood for a moment without doing or saying anything. "Kreacher is thinking Master Regulus would have liked Master Harry."
Harry looked over to the diary where he had placed it carefully on a small side table. "Thank you."
He left the library the next day. Took a shower and changed his clothes. That was the day he started studying the books. There wasn't a lot he could do at first. He didn't really know where to being. He just took a few of them over to the table in the library and plopped down in the seat with some parchment and started writing down anything and everything that seemed interesting. Spells and charms and words to look up and definitions once he learned them. Magic for finding things. Magic for hiding things. Magic for forgetting and magic for remembering.
It was all so much more intricate and nuanced than slicing someone's arm and throwing a couple of bones in a pot. Dark Magic was clever, subtle and served a purpose. Nothing silly or useless like turning water to rum or making a rat yellow. His table soon accumulated stacks of parchment filled with his notes. When he thought he was ready Kreacher cleared a portion of the library for Harry to practice.
"Try again, Master Harry."
Harry scowled. Taking a breath he let it out slowly. From his position on the floor, legs crossed, hands in his lap, he concentrated on visualization exercises. Red ball. Blue star. Gold square. It was supposed to be easy. The beginner exercises, but Harry was having a difficult time clearing his mind which was, apparently, a requirement. He could practically hear Severus Snape making scathing comments from the afterlife. The third time Harry let out a sigh Kreacher popped away and came back with a slim book which he held out for his master.
Exercises for the young wizard's mind.
It appeared to be for children pre-Hogwarts. His cheeks flushed. Great. A baby book. Harry opened it and scanned the first page. His embarrassment only grew when the information inside actually helped. A lot. Kreacher did not comment on this any more than he commented on Harry's sudden desire to do things like shower or interact with the world. For that Harry was grateful.
"I wish I had one of these when I was trying to earn occlumency," Harry muttered.
"It is being given to children of noble houses." Said Kreacher.
Harry jumped. He hadn't noticed the elf coming back into the library. "What was that?"
Kreacher pointed to the little book. "Pureblood parents be giving this to their little wizards and witches. It is to be preparing them for mind readers and bad wizards who try to hurt little wizards." Kreacher paused, uncertain. "Master Harry is to have been getting this book."
He frowned. "Why would I get one?"
"Master Harry is being the firstborn son of House Potter. Master Harry is being Master Sirius' godson. Master Harry is getting this book." Insisted the elf.
Harry turned the book over in his hands. Aunt Petunia would ever have allowed Harry to ready anything like this when he was little. If she ever had one in her possession. Harry swore and set the book down on the floor beside him with a thump. That would explain Snape's belief Harry was purposely sucking at his lessons. He didn't have any idea what clearing his mind meant nor had he ever done any of these exercises. Snape wouldn't know that. In fact, most people probably assumed Harry knew these things. Merlin they probably thought he was such a lazy arse. Or an idiot.
Days passed, followed by weeks. Harry practised his exercises, eventually graduating to the adult book, and Kreacher was there to make sure he ate. In the moments between his self imposed lessons, Kreacher would sometimes offer Harry tidbits of information. Mostly about Regulus. But sometimes they were about the Blacks in general. Their history. Spells and enchantments they were known to have a talent for or famous members of the family. Sometimes they were even about Sirius. What he and Regulus were like as children. The mischief they got into. Harry grew rather fond of the old elf.
Unmentioned by either wizard or elf were the moments Harry's mind flew away from reality. When he'd come back to himself hours, days later and realize he'd been lost to the fog once more. Not as often now as it once was, still, a battle he fought daily. A battle he sometimes lost.
Elemental manipulation was Kreacher's least favourite of Harry's new hobbies.
One minute Harry had finally gotten a candle on the wall to light using the fire from an already lit candle on the table, and the next the drapes were on fire and Harry was getting an earful of what was and was not appropriate to practice in the library. Wine stains were permissible. Burned drapes, not so much. Harry became very good at apologizing and, when that was not sufficient, bribing. Regulus was right. Elfs love summer squash.
Artifice was next. Illusions and trickery came rather easily to Harry. Apart from the 24 hours he spent trapped in his own spell. Kreacher was sworn to secrecy. Then came locating and discovery, which was alright but not the most fascinating things in the world. At least he wouldn't have to resort to accio and ducking whenever he couldn't find something. The most important thing he learned was the simplest. Cleaning and sanitation spells for his hands -wrist down and under the nails- and his clothing in general.
Having random particles of anything could make a spell go wonky. The not-to-be-mentioned day he spent in an illusion being a prime example.
Harry learned a few tricks from Regulus himself through his diary. Like dabbing Farsight potion along the tops of your eyelids. It caught and reflected the light and allowed you to sort of 'zoom in' to see things farther away to the front and sides of your field of vision. Harry tripped over several things and walked into a wall learning to control it but once he got the hang of it he thought it was brilliant. It would be difficult for someone to sneak up on him. Speaking of sneaking, he now knew how to cast a localized silencing charm on his shoes and boots that caught any sound the footwear its self or whatever it was immediately touching may have made and kind of dissolved it.
With the end of July -was it July already?- came another chime from down the hall. Harry ignored it as he always did. He wasn't walked around in a blur most of the time now and he left the library on occasion, but he was still in no mood to socialize. He didn't want to share his feelings or answering questions or reassure everyone that he was alright. Harry was not okay. He wouldn't be, not for a while.
"Who was it this time?" Harry asked when Kreacher popped into the library.
Kreacher offered Harry two letters. One was from Ron which Harry immediately tossed aside. Hermione would have made him write to see if he could get Harry to respond. Harry wasn't interested in dealing with people right now. Any people. The other letter was from McGonagal. Harry stared at it a full minute before he opened it.
A Hogwarts letter. Harry blinked, confused. In the envelope was another letter, more of a slip of parchment really, from the witch directly. They were inviting all of the seventh years from before...before the school was destroyed, to repeat their final year and sit their NEWTS. He put the parchment down on the table and considered it. There was only a month left until school would start. He wondered if she waited as long as she dared before sending him a letter. Giving him time maybe. Or whatever it was people did when they didn't know how to act around somebody.
He examined the list of classes with little enthusiasm. After spending all this time learning how to throw his voice in echoes around the room or manipulate fire, doing something as simple as shield charms or studying unicorns seemed a waste of time. Couldn't he learn those things as easily here?
"Master is not taking his night classes?"
Harry lifted his eyes from the paperwork in his hands to see Kreacher standing on a pile of books, looking over his shoulder.
"Night classes?" Harry asked.
Kreacher's ears flicked up and then down. "For his responsibilities and talents?" The elf tried.
Harry shook his head.
Kreacher let out a huff and muttered under his breath less-than-polite things about Hogwarts, the wizarding world, and muggles as well. "Master Harry is to be learning how to lead. He is to be learning to take care of his family. Master Harry is to be practising his talents." Kreacher thought for a moment. "Master Sirius was sensing magicks and crafting, he was. Master Regulus was learning to heal. Learning magic history."
Harry blinked. "I think it's for the best you just assume no one ever told me anything about anything."
That was how Harry ended up writing a note on the back of the class list requesting admittance to night classes and agreeing to go back to school at the end of the summer.
Harry spent the remaining month trying to learn one thing in specific that Regulus only mentioned in passing in his diary. Free-casting. In the beginning, this required a lot of sitting on the floor, clearing his mind, sensing his magic and then trying to push it outward from himself. This was much harder than it sounded. Moving it out even a little bit ended in aching muscles and a sweaty back, though he hadn't moved his body at all. When he was able to move it outward a few feet he then practised moving it out in a specific direction. Forward, behind him, to the side.
The next exercises involved putting a small, simple object three feet away from him, and project his magic toward the object. Letting his magic swell around it and feel along the edges of the object. It took several days to get the hang of it. After that, it was physically interacting with the object through his magic. Making a ball float up or roll forward. Taking the parchment on the table and lifting it up so he could put a stack underneath it. Pulling out a chair to sit on. Opening and closing windows or drapes. Kreacher allowed Harry to use him as a living obstacle to use his magic around while free-casting. He could do more and more with it little by little.
It wasn't a spell or an enchantment.
It was done entirely with his magic, his essence, interacting with the magic or energy of something else. It took a great deal of concentration in the beginning. Focusing on his will and his intent, focusing on the shape and weight and structure of the object the wanted to interact with, and then recognizing the feel of his own magic against the physics of the object in question. It wasn't as easy as telling his magic to push the ball to the right. Rather he brushed his magic up against the left side of the ball, the ball turned and rolled away from the force of it.
Knowing exactly how much or little to use was also a bit of an adventure. Too much and the ball shot away, bouncing off the table or breaking something. Too little? Then the ball only moved a small amount. The same rules applied when turning the pages of a book. Too much or too little and suddenly the page was falling right back where he was trying to pick it up, or it was tearing. Object to object, small simple shapes to larger, more complicated ones.
Patience, above all, was required.
By the time the end of summer came he could even do more than one task at once. As difficult as it was, in the beginning, Harry found he had a real knack for it and didn't think it really warranted all the warnings in the beginning about the years of proper study needed and not to be discouraged. Just shut yourself inside for weeks and weeks and do absolutely nothing else.
On the last day of summer Harry and Kreacher got everything together Harry might need for school. Kreacher had very specific thoughts on the matter. There were certain things a Black never went without. This lead to him not having to go into the alleys for new school clothes so Harry let it go. Kreacher brought him Regulus' old uniforms. They were close to Harry's size. Regulus was a bit taller but otherwise they were nearly perfect, and Kreacher fixed that easily enough.
Harry had Regulus and Sirius' old school texts from the night classes they chose while at school. He also packed all of Regulus' secret books and the wizard's diary. He took pictures of them both found by Kreacher and added them to the photobook Hagrid gave him.
When Kreacher saw Harry's school trunk he threw a bit of a fit and returned with a large squarish trunk that belonged to Regulus. Harry undid the straps and opened it only to stop and stare. Rather than a large empty box to throw things into, it opens up into a small dresser that stuck out just enough to use as a desk, with a place above it to put parchment and ink and hang things up. It was brilliant. Harry put everything away into the dresser desk trunk thing, pleased to note wouldn't ever have to unpack again.
The following morning Kreacher popped him to the train station. Unwilling to allow Harry to go unprotected. It was early still, and not many students had arrived. Harry and Kreacher stood off to the side where they wouldn't be noticed. He wore Regulus' old uniform and Sirius' old cloak. Both of which were much nicer than anything Harry had ever owned. His new trunk was already on the train. With a soft goodbye -Harry really had grown fond of Kreacher- Harry got onto the train.
He found the compartment he'd chosen which would allow him to be one of the first to get off the train when they arrived at Hogwarts. Harry sat near the window and watched the platform until he grew bored of it. Harry pulled off the satchel Kreacher found for him, it belonged to Sirius, and dug out a book to read. He would only get so long to enjoy being alone. Soon he would be expected to talk and to socialize.
But not yet.
So Harry focused on studying just as he once focused on ignoring the world. Anything that didn't give him time to remember walking to his death. To remember the spirits of Sirius, of Remus, of his parents. Anything at all but that. He immediately refocused on the chapter in front of him and not the top smallest drawer in his new trunk, which only contained three items.
A wand. A ring. And a cloak.
A bell went off. Harry looked up and blinked owlishly. He somehow managed to go the entire trip without being bothered. Or if anyone tried to he hadn't noticed. Harry stood, smoothed out any wrinkles. He put his book back into Sirius' satchel and slung it around his shoulder. With a flick of his wrist he shrunk his new trunk and put it in the inner pocket of his cloak. Harry took out a small hand mirror with a fancy B on the back given to him by Kreacher and looked himself over. He applied the farsight potion to his eyelids, which made them a bit shiny.
Harry set down the hallway outside is compartment and straight out the door. It was cold. Or rather, Harry knew it was cold but he didn't feel the cold. He cast a quick look around. Only a few other students were out, younger years and none were paying him any attention just then. Harry zeroed in on the closest carriage he could see, wondering the likelihood of bribing one of the thestrals to take him up to the castle alone. Without much thought he reached out and patted the two thestrals leading this particular carriage when he drew close. Their fur -hair?- was slick and soft. A not unpleasant shudder ran through him as his fingers glided along the thestral's back.
One of them snuffled at his cloak.
"Sorry, I didn't bring anything to give you." Said Harry. With some difficulty he withdrew from the death horse and hopped into the carriage, claiming a seat at random. Perhaps he should pay the thestrals a visit sometime soon and bring them something. He liked them.
When another would be occupant entered the carriage Harry's attention was already focused on Regulus' diary. His new favourite book. Not that he had ever really had a favourite book before this year. When the person didn't attempt to engage him in conversation Harry ignored their presence. The relative silence was peaceful while it lasted. Until the next time the carriage door was opened.
"What are you doing here?"
Harry tensed, wondering if they meant him.
"Composing an aria, obviously." Drawled a familiar voice.
Harry looked up from his book. Across from him sat Draco Malfoy of all people. The Slytherin looked much the same and much changed. He was still pale and tall with snow coloured hair and silvery eyes. His uniform still expensive, even to Harry's once uneducated eyes. Malfoy's cheeks were a bit hallow now. There were shadows around his eyes Harry remembered seeing back in sixth year. His voice was quieter, his body language subdued.
Two Ravenclaws stood at the door to the carriage. Harry didn't recognize them but that didn't mean anything. There were a lot of students at the school he had never met. Or cared to meet, if he was interested in being honest.
"Problem?" Harry asked. All eyes turned toward him.
"Yeah, he's the problem." Said a girl with shoulder-length hair and thin lips. The witch next to her, a brunette wearing large purple hoop earrings, nodded in agreement.
There was something in the tone of their voice, in the way their eyes narrowed at Malfoy that Harry didn't much like. Which was stupid. Malfoy was more than capable of taking care of himself, and since when did Harry care how anyone treated him anyway? He hadn't even seen him since he trials.
That was the last time Harry had seen anyone.
"Can't you find a carriage better suited to...someone like you?" The girl in purple earrings asked.
They were taking a great deal of delight in talking to Malfoy like that. Harry thought they were both idiots. To his surprise, Malfoy stood and began to gather his things to leave. Just outside the door, beyond the two Ravenclaws, Harry thought he saw a head of bushy hair. Without really thinking Harry urged his magic out to tug on Malfoy's cloak and bring him to a stop. The Slytherin turned to look at Harry quizzically.
The Ravenclawz didn't know anything happened and grew impatient. One tapped her foot.
"Do you want to go?" Harry blurted.
Malfoy turned all the way around to face Harry. He raised a brow.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Do you want to go or do you want to stay, Malfoy?"
"He's leaving." Said one of the Ravenclaws.
"I wasn't talking to you bird number one." Said Harry, not taking his eyes off Malfoy.
The bushy hair was getting closer and there was a bit of red not far behind it. He concentrated on the faint glitter in the air above his eyes and zoomed his sight. Hermione was searching the carriages for him. His brain immediately conjured up images of her narrowly avoiding spellfire. Of Bellatrix carving into her arm. Of-
He had to make this quick. "Malfoy?" Harry allowed the slightest bit of plea to come through.
The Slytherin studied Harry a moment. Then he sat decisively. "I'd like to stay."
The two witches made noises of outrage. "You heard him," Said Harry. "So leave."
"You can't possibly-" One of them began.
But Hermione was nearly upon them. "Pleasure meeting you. Good day." Said Harry. His magic pushed them out and shut the door. To his immense relief, the thestrals decided to start moving at that moment. He was certain he heard Hermione's voice before it faded. Harry took two slow breaths and focused on relaxing the muscles in his shoulders, pushing aside unwelcome thoughts and memories.
"Avoiding someone?" Malfoy was watching Harry, eyes glimmering with curiosity.
"Yes." Said Harry, his mouth moving before Harry could stop it. "I'd rather be alone as long as I can."
Malfoy tilted his head and some of his hair fell to the side. It was longer now than last Harry saw him. Like it was when they were younger. "You're not alone."
Something twisted inside of Harry. Uncomfortable, he shrugged. Neither of them said anything more and Harry turned back to the diary. He filled the interaction under things better off not thinking about.
They reached the school soon enough. Harry stood and stretched. He put his book away, opened the door, stepped out and stood there for a moment. It was cold, he noted again. At least it should have been with the overcast skies and the window blowing in from across the grounds. Harry felt nothing.
The castle was lit up in the growing darkness. It looked the same as it always did. Harry knew it wasn't at all the same. He knew which pieces had been missing. He remembered where bodies had strewn the ground and which direction sobbing and screaming had come from. Where the death eaters and Voldemort had stood and where Fred was crushed beneath-
Harry turned to the side. Malfoy stood beside him gazing at the school. He looked older than he should. In his eyes and the way he carried himself. Harry supposed they all did.
"Yeah." Murmured Harry. "You?"
"Yeah," Said Malfoy. The blonde held out his hand. Harry realized he'd forgotten his cloak.
"Thanks." He whispered. Harry took the cloak, Sirius' cloak, and put it around his shoulders.
Malfoy looked him over and gave a nod. "See you around, Potter."
He flashed Harry a smile that left Harry blinking after him. He shook his head and followed after the Slytherin. He didn't think he'd ever seen Malfoy smile before. Not like that. Not at him. He couldn't think of what he could possibly have done to earn a smile anyway. Harry pushed open the doors to the great hall and took a seat at the Gryffindor table. He slid off his satchel and set it on the bench beside him. Slowly students drifted in. Looking for their friends and catching up.
He found his eyes being drawn toward the Slytherin table.
"Harry Potter we are having words after the feast." Said a visibly annoyed Hermione Granger. She sat to his right and Ron sat across from her not long after. Her voice, which he noticed belatedly was still here because she hadn't actually stopped talking, was soon swallowed up as the table gradually filled. Ginny sat to Harry's left chatting cheerfully into his ear about her summer and how lovely it was to see him after all this time and her mother was dreadfully worried about him. She probably was. Harry was too tired to feel guilty about it.
The newest set of first years came in to be sorted. Harry felt a familiar blurry presence at the corners of his mind and he pushed back against it the best he could. He really wasn't ready for this. Too late to change his mind, though. The world wouldn't wait for him to catch his bearings before it continued on, he knew that.
The feast ended, everyone stood and gathered their things. The hall erupted into talking and laughter and gossip. It wasn't as loud as it once was. It wasn't as cheerful or as full. But people were smiling. They were laughing. Harry wasn't ready for this. Just before he started up the stairs with the rest of the Gryffindors Harry caught sight of snowy hair and silver eyes. You aren't alone.
"Come on Harry, 8th years get first choice of dorms!"
His eyes snapped toward the stairs. "Coming, Ron."
Thoughts, Questions, Comments and Limericks always welcome.
AN: I tried to leave a bit of foreshadowing and clues about what's coming for you in here.
ANx2: So Harry is getting along with Kreacher. Got in a little reading. Learned something about Regulus Black. Got some new (old) stuff. Rode in a carriage with Malfoy. And is about to get an earful from Hermione. Oh and he totally has all three Deathly Hallows. That can't possibly mean anything, can it?