Title: Reflections of You
Rating: Teen (a little rougher than the Harry Potter books, but not any worse than the Buffy TV show)
Warnings: mild violence, the occasional curse word, bad grammar, infrequent updates
Author's Note: Merry Christmas everyone! Or whatever winter holiday or holidays you happen to celebrate. Hopefully there are still a couple of people reading this. Not too much to this chapter. Don't worry. I'll try to get the action to pick up soon. I tried something a little different with the flow of the conversation with Draco and Xander. Let me know if you like it or if it is confusing. Also, I'm from Kentucky, not England, so if I use a southern phrase instead of a British one, I apologize.
Between the hectic morning and a day filled with end of term examinations, Ginny hadn't eaten a morsel. By the time she made it to the Great Hall for dinner, she would have braved a score of Death Eaters for some pot roast. She sat down at the Gryffindor table and immediately began piling her plate high with roast, potatoes and carrots and topped it with a couple of dinner rolls.
Nothing was going to stop her from eating at least half her weight in potatoes and gravy. Nothing. Especially not her brother and his friends trying to stare a hole through her head. Didn't they realize that a growing girl needed sustenance? Not everyone got their nutrition through old tomes like Hermione or rocked the starving waif look like Harry.
Ginny tried her very best to concentrate on moving the food from her plate to her stomach, but she was pretty sure that if Ron didn't stop glaring at the side of her head her ear was going to catch fire.
"What!" Ginny exclaimed.
Ron was startled so badly he nearly toppled off the bench seat. Harry and Hermione jumped in surprise at Ginny's abrupt outburst, but managed to keep their seats. Neville looked like he wanted to laugh more than anything. He kept his amusement in check only because he was too nice to embarrass Ron like that. But other than a handful of blank stares, no one said a word and Ginny started to fume.
"If you've got something you need to say to me, Ron, you have to actually speak. I may have accidentally blown out a window, but the last time I checked I wasn't a mind reader."
Ron looked contrite. "Sorry, Ginny. You've just been acting barmy lately."
Ginny's eyes narrowed.
Harry socked his red-haired friend in the shoulder none too gently. "Honestly, Ron. The goal is to not get her so angry she liquefies your entrails!"
A subject change was definitely in order. Harry turned to Ginny. "Have you heard anything about what is wrong with Malfoy?"
"Did he finally smart off to the wrong wizard and get hexed?" one of the Gryffindors toward the other end of the table asked. The boy laughed at his own theory. "Hey, maybe he bedded Bulstrode and got a disease!"
Hermione's face screwed up in disgust. "Ew. I could have lived my whole life without that image."
"Is it The Curse?" Ron blurted out, finally saying something that didn't result in him sticking his foot in his mouth. "He's got the Malfoy Family Curse, doesn't he?"
Ginny rolled her eyes. "It's not like Madame Pomfrey shouts diagnoses down the hallway. She certainly hasn't shared anything with me."
"But from what we witnessed in the Hospital Wing, something is going on," Hermione continued. "Malfoy is seeing something. Whether he's gone insane or if his fever is making him hallucinate is up for debate."
"What if he's not crazy?" Neville interjected.
"What are you on about, Nev?" Ron asked.
"What if Malfoy's having visions?" Neville pressed. "Maybe the hallucinations he's seeing . . . experiencing . . . are him seeing something bad in the future."
"That's total bollocks!" Ron snorted in disbelief. "Malfoy seeing the future. . . ."
Hermione also frowned in disbelief, but at least she was nicer when she said, "Neville, I highly doubt that Draco Malfoy is suddenly being shown the future in his dreams. You took Trelawney same as I did and saw what a joke our Divination class turned out to be. It's just a fever."
"Trelawney may be a quack, but Divination wouldn't be taught at Hogwarts if it was all a fraud, Hermione," Neville countered. Hermione may have read three-fourths of the school's library at this point, but Neville had grown up in the Magical world and knew that not everything could be explained in a logical manner.
Ron scowled. "Oh, lay off, Neville. People don't just randomly have visions!"
"Harry does!" Ginny retorted.
"Thanks a lot, Ron," Harry grumbled. The Boy-Who-Lived had decided to stay out of this conversation. Whatever was going on with Malfoy, there was nothing that any of them could do at the moment. Harry figured he would concentrate on finishing breakfast. He'd worry about whatever was going on with his school rival later.
"So what's the what with Creepy Dude?"
Draco Malfoy was supposed to be asleep. True, it was just past dinnertime and the sun had barely sunk to below the treetops of the Forbidden Forest. Draco still looked haggard to Xander, but the fever seemed to have relinquished its hold on him. Still, Madame Pomfrey insisted that the Slytherin needed rest to recover.
"Creepy Dude?" Draco repeated dubiously. He frowned for a moment in concentration. "I'm going to assume you mean Professor Snape, as I don't believe you've met Filch."
Madame Pomfrey, once she'd returned from the back room Willow occupied, had also insisted that Xander needed some time away from the Hospital Wing for food and rest before he became her next patient.
"Yeah, that guy. Wears a constant scowl, has some kind of dark cloak fetish that I refuse to think too deeply about, but overall not as psycho as he first appears."
Draco cocked an eyebrow in surprise. "Really? How did you come to this conclusion?"
Xander had been reluctant to leave the boy's side, but had finally been practically dragged from the room by Professor Snape. The dour professor had pulled him through the castle's corridors in a winding path that quickly had the American thoroughly lost. Xander had found himself silently praying that this wizard wasn't leading him to an early demise. The glowering, scowling, and caustic muttering did not give Xander much hope. The greasy hair didn't improve the man's image either.
"Oh, no reason," Xander tried to evade.
Draco snorted. "Half the first years believe Professor Snape hides the bodies of curfew breakers in his potions supply closet. The other half believes he has special cages hanging in his room."
Over the next few hours, Xander had been fed, taken to a bathroom where he had taken one of the coolest bubble baths ever, and been dragged to a dungeon where instead of being of being tortured, his creepy escort had used his wand to transform a stuffed chair into a sinfully comfortable-looking bed. The still evil-looking professor had then proceeded to order Xander in the transfigured bed for a nap. A nap! And Xander had reacted to the authoritative voice before he knew what was happening. Who knew that dour, creepy, evil-looking teachers could be such mother hens?
Draco continued to watch Xander in blatant interest. The weird boy barely seemed to blink. Xander finally crumpled under the pressure. "He made me take a nap," the American mumbled.
The blonde boy blinked in surprise. "He made you . . ." Draco's lips twitched. "Snape put you down for a nap?" A snicker escaped.
Xander scowled at his newest friend. "You make it sound like he gave me a teddy bear and tucked me in."
The mental image from that sentence was Draco's undoing. He howled with laughter. "Aah," he choked out. "You're pouting." Draco pressed a hand to his stomach. "Did you not get a bedtime story?"
"I hate you," Xander stated.
Draco curled up on his side and gasped for air between shrieks of laughter. He watched as Xander fought to keep his scowl firmly planted. The man's eyes betrayed his mirth. But it took a few more seconds for the scowl to disappear.
Xander gave an exaggerated pout. "Professor Snape was a big meanie. He wouldn't let me braid his hair!"
Everyone told him it was impossible to die of laughter, but Draco gave it a good try. It took the boy five minutes to get back under control. The Slytherin finally leaned back against the bed's headboard tiredly, but Xander thought Draco looked the healthiest he'd seen since arriving at Hogwarts.
It had galled for the older man to basically send him to bed, but Xander couldn't argue that he'd felt much less like a zombie when he woke back up hours later. He'd been alone when he woke, but Snape reentered the room before Xander had time to do more than stretch and blink in confusion a couple of times. The man's gaze was no less menacing, but Snape had led him back to the infirmary without a word. When they finally got to the Hospital Wing, Draco was sitting curled into a tiny ball in the middle of the bed. Xander had a moment of trepidation at the sight but when Draco heard Xander's approach, the boy looked up with clear eyes.
Draco let out a nearly inaudible sigh of relief. He stayed curled up, but released the white-knuckled grip from his knees. Still, Xander didn't like how quiet Draco was being. The young man had been unconscious or delirious for much of the time Xander had known him, but when Draco had been lucid, the kid hadn't struck him as shy or unassuming.
The laughing boy Xander had seen a moment ago was much better. Though from the curious and concerned gazes he kept catching Madame Pomfrey sending Draco's way, Xander thought maybe a laughing Draco wasn't quite normal either. Oh, well. Didn't everyone say laughter was the best medicine?
"Seriously, what's up with Snape?" Xander asked to drag Draco back on topic.
"Professor Severus Snape is one of the Wizarding World's most accomplished Potions Masters. He teaches Potions here at Hogwarts, is the Head of the Slytherin House, and he's my godfather," Draco informed his American friend.
Xander frowned slightly. What was with the unfamiliar words? The American wondered if this place was so different or if he'd just tuned out one too many lectures about magic during Scooby meetings. Well, it couldn't hurt to ask. Xander picked a term and jumped on it. "What's a Slytherin House?"
Draco frowned. "Your school didn't have houses?"
"Nope. My town had houses. I even lived in one. But my school only had classes."
Well that was different, Draco thought. The more he learned about this strange American, the more he realized that the man was unlike anyone he'd ever met. The man had obviously grown up in completely different circumstances than Draco's, and signs pointed toward the Californian being slightly eccentric. At times the man's logic was more convoluted than the ride to a Goblin vault. From what Draco had been able to piece together from the last couple of days, Xander had the survival instincts of a –shudder- Gryffindor.
There were certain requirements needed to become a friend of the Malfoy family. Xander had none of them. He didn't have a proper upbringing. He had no ambition as far as Draco could tell, or fortune. He made stupid jokes, told outlandish stories, and coddled sniveling children that should be scolded. Draco should despise the man. Xander was nice and caring: two characteristics that usually set Draco's teeth on edge.
Maybe it was because unlike most of the supposedly kind-hearted, caring individuals he'd met, none of them had actually been nice to him. But Xander was. He'd helped Draco without knowing him. He'd extended his hand in friendship and asked for nothing in return. Not even reciprocation. Draco knew how rare that type of offer was, and appreciated it, even if he wasn't quite sure he believed in it.
And Draco found himself not bothered that Xander was different. He didn't mind that it was becoming more and more obvious that Xander's upbringing, while no doubt interesting, was not the upbringing of a pureblood wizard, or any wizard for that matter. But Xander's ignorance of wizarding customs Draco had grown up taking for granted didn't grate on his nerves like it normally did when he encountered muggleborn wizards. He was still trying to figure out why. Truth be told, it was kind of fun explaining the Wizarding World to someone with no preconceived notions. The resulting comments were unpredictable.
Draco smirked. Let's see how Xander reacted to Hogwart's Houses. "Hogwarts students are sorted into one of four Houses: Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, or Slytherin."
"How do they sort you?" Xander interrupted. "Draw you name out of a hat?"
"A hat is involved, but they put it on your head and it shouts out which house is the best fit for you. Each house is for students with a certain trait. Students are sorted into Ravenclaw because of their intellect. Hufflepuffs are loyal and hard-working. Gryffindors are brave, and students in Slytherin are sorted there because they are cunning and ambitious."
Draco paused in his explanation to study his friend. Xander looked confused. "It's not exactly Advanced Arithromancy, Xander. Do I need to use smaller words?"
Xander snorted. "No, Your Highness. It's just . . . how can a hat separate by those traits? Wouldn't you have to be intelligent to be cunning? And most of the brave people I know are loyal too. At least my friends are."
Personally Draco wondered about that given the fact that the one friend of Xander's he'd met had attacked him twice in two days. But in a rare instance of tact, Draco didn't bring up that subject. "Sometimes the house the hat picks seems strange," Draco admitted to the man. "Hermione Granger is smarter than two Ravenclaws but she's a Gryff. The Weasley twins are very cunning and ambitious, but their entire family has always been sorted into Gryffindor." Draco sighed. "And over half of my house won't be truly cunning until someone invents a permanent intelligence boosting potion.
Draco stopped talking abruptly. Merlin, what had he just said? Draco pinned Xander with a fairly intimidating glare, especially considering the fact that the boy probably couldn't make it to the other side of the room without getting winded at the moment. "You repeat anything I've said and I'll make your life a living hell, you realize?"
Xander grinned. "Your secret is safe with me. That's how friends work."
Draco wasn't sure why, but he believed the American.
Xander's expression grew a little more serious. "If you think so badly of your housemates, then why don't you hang out with another house?" Xander really wanted to ask the boy why he seemed to be universally hated, but he couldn't ask anything that tactless. As far as the Californian could tell, Draco's most offensive trait was a biting wit. True, some people were offended easily, but if Giles' level of snark was any indication, then it was hardly a capital offense in England.
"Slytherins have to stand together," Draco answered. "Everyone else is against us. The Slytherin House is full of evil, dark wizards-in-training. We're all backstabbing cowards just waiting to become Death Eaters."
Okay. Xander was definitely missing something here. "You have a house of evil wizards? When do you start at this school?"
"At eleven. Why?
"You get sorted into your House then?"
"Yes," Draco answered. "We get sorted our first evening here, just after we arrive." Where was Xander going with this?
"And if a hat assigns you to Slytherin you're considered evil and no one likes you."
Draco scowled. "Pretty much." No, Draco wasn't bitter; not at all.
"Why has no one burnt this hat?" Xander asked exasperated. He sighed. "No offense, Draco, but this sorting stuff is kind of stupid. I'm just a little bit smarter than the kid at our school that still ate paste at sixteen, but do the kids here seriously think no one smart, brave, or loyal can be evil? How do they think the big bads get evil minions? And of course only cowardly idiots would try to take over the world or attack innocent people."
Draco smirked. This is why he didn't mind explaining the Wizarding World to the American muggle. Xander picked apart wizarding tradition with ruthless efficiency. But Xander didn't automatically think that he knew better just because he came from a world with advanced technology. Contrary to popular belief, Draco didn't hate every muggleborn wizard that stepped foot on Hogwarts soil. He just despised know-it-alls.
"Xander, you've just made me feel better about hating ninety-nine percent of my peers."
The man gave the boy a mock tip of the hat. "Glad I could be of service.
Next chapter: Mr. Malfoy finally decides to grace us with his presence.