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The Worst of Two Evils
"From the sidewalks,
Running Away From the Streets We Knew
Like the time we thought was made for you."
- Story of the Year
Draco really didn't know what to think. One minute there was the tiniest bit of pain, and then that little boy was smiling up at him and the ach was gone. The ach in his hand, however, was soon replaced with a burning sensation in his chest that spread through his entire body as he looked down at the child's innocent smile.
The boy's green eyes were practically glowing as Draco looked down at them, and before he knew it, he was stumbling away from the tiny creature. His hand flew out of the little one that held it and he found himself sprawled awkwardly on the armchair.
He stared at his knuckles for quite some time and slowly, he glanced upwards to see Potter staring at him wide-eyed. The boy was standing flat against the wall, his arms stiff at his sides. He murmured something inaudibly and Draco rubbed his forehead.
"What was that, Potter?" wondered Draco softly, his voice void of any emotion other than curiosity. He felt, however, anything but calm. By all accounts, this boy had just healed him – at the age of bloody four years. And it seemed an intentional bit of magic. Accidental magic, he could understand – magic born of emotions threatening to explode…but this little phenomenon was nothing of the sort.
When the child didn't answer, Draco stood up and slowly walked a bit closer.
"I didn't mean to," whispered Harry, his voice cracking. His eyes were so round that they seemed to take up as much space as the glasses on his face.
The words were still barely audible and Draco stepped closer only to watch as the boy tried to meld himself into the wall. "What was that?"
After one more step, Draco was within reaching distance, and Harry suddenly shrieked, "I didn't mean to!" Draco started backwards in surprise and the child kept screaming, "I didn't mean to! I didn't mean to!"
Draco put his hands up in a calming gesture, but Harry had shut his eyes tightly with tears slipping passed them and continued to scream his denial. "Now…just calm down," said Draco in what he hoped was a pacifying tone. "It's okay," he told Harry softly.
And then the boy jumped away from the wall and raced towards the bed, but half expecting it, Draco stepped in his way and picked him up. Harry tried jerking away, but the hands holding him only tightened further to hold him in place. "No! I didn't mean to!" he cried and continued to try to free himself in vain. "I'm sorry!"
There came a knock on the door and before Draco could do anything, a woman had poked her head through the door. "Pardon," she said softly, when Harry stopped screaming, "I heard you across the hall…is everything all right?"
Draco would have insulted her if the situation he was in hadn't been so awkward. He felt a damned fool for not locking the stupid door. Instantly, he let go of Potter, and the boy, as if understanding that his hiding place was blocked at the moment, scurried back to the corner of the room against the wall.
The woman stepped inside completely now, but she didn't close the door. She looked at Draco for a moment, calculatingly, before turning to Potter. The boy stared at her with frightened wide eyes as she casually approached him, the look in those emerald green depths that of a cornered animal.
This, for some odd reason, created a feeling of sheer anger in Draco. He felt tendrils of fury licking at his insides and they began turning white with blinding heat as the woman walked over and knelt before Potter.
"Is he hurting you, dear?" asked the woman softly, and Draco heard a strange cackling in the air as the air around them suddenly grew denser.
"Get away from him," Draco all but growled.
The woman's head shot around and she looked at him, half surprised and half angered. What the hell did she have to be angry about, thought Draco. She frowned at him, and her eyes spoke depths about who should be giving the orders just about now.
Deciding to ignore him, she reached a hand out and a small whimper escaped Potter's lips as he struggled once again to make himself one with the wall. The woman tilted her head to the side with a small, reassuring smile and put a hand on the boy's shoulder.
All at once, Draco was yelling, "Don't touch him! Don't you dare!" over Potter's piercing scream. The cackling in Draco's ears exploded all at once and for a moment, he was blinded by the brightest blue light he'd ever seen. He staggered backwards, shielding his eyes…
And then it was over.
When he looked up from his fallen position on the floor, the woman was nowhere to be seen – and neither was Potter.
He jumped up frantically and saw that the door was open. He raced to it and looked around. His eyes landed on the woman who sprinted down the hallway, glancing back. When she saw him, her eyes widened and she positively tore down the hallway.
Draco suddenly found that he had no energy left, and he wouldn't waste what he had on chasing after a stupid muggle. Let her run away.
He shut the door quietly instead and sank to the floor, his back leaning against the wood. His breathing was shallow and coming out in uneven gasps. Laying his head in his hands, he wondered how everything could have gone so wrong.
He'd been sent to do a deed, and he'd come here to the past to do it…but last night he'd found that whatever it was he needed to kill Potter, he didn't have. Sure, he had enough hatred for the young man Potter became, but the boy he knew now was not the man that Draco hated.
Now…now that he'd finally been able to think some things through and control his emotions, the boy had disappeared.
But perhaps it was for the best…
That was when he heard the faintest scuffing sound – and it came from under the bed.
Draco nearly fainted with relief, but where this warmth was coming from, he didn't dare wonder. He crawled over to the bed, to tired to care about his dignity, and he lay flat on the ground as he lifted the bedspread and peeked under it. There, as he had been earlier, was Harry Potter staring back at him, his eyes large and round behind his lenses.
"Merlin's balls, Potter, you great bloody twit," he muttered, before he fell into a dead faint.
Harry didn't think he'd ever been so frightened in his life. He didn't know that he'd made the bruises disappear until the stranger jerked away from him. After realizing what he'd done, Harry instinctively cowered away. He'd done things before – broken vases, ended up in a tree when Aunt Marge's dogs tried to eat him, turned his teacher's hair on fire when the man called him a cheater. But when he really thought about it, he found that he'd tried to heal his stranger's hand.
When the warmth left his fingertips, he'd suddenly felt wonderful – complete…but it was wrong.
He knew it was wrong and he wasn't sure why he'd done it. All he knew was that he himself hated bruises, and he didn't think his stranger liked them either. Maybe deep down inside he'd wanted to help his stranger, and thus the bad magic had seeped out.
Now Harry knew better.
Uncle Verwon often yelled at Harry about the 'M' word and about how it was something only freaks could do and that nothing like that should ever be done in the house. Harry now knew that it wasn't supposed to be done anywhere, not if the stranger had reacted as he had.
When he'd seen his stranger use his wooden stick to do strange things, he'd been frightened to say the least. However, a part of him was silently relieved that someone else was a freak. He knew it was bad to think such things, but he felt that maybe they could be friends – freaks together.
Apparently, Harry was a freak alone, all by himself – as always. Maybe there was only one freak, just one Harry who wasn't allowed to do magic or make mistakes or have candies or have birthdays.
But his stranger had let him eat the funny lady's lollipop.
Today, when the stranger moved towards him after he had realized what Harry had done, the child had known that he would be punished. Maybe Uncle Verwon and his stranger both hated magic and now his stranger was going to punish him for it too.
He had tried to run under the bed, but the stranger knew what he was going to do before he did it. This frightened Harry most of all. How did the older boy know? Maybe he read minds? Maybe he knew all the bad things that Harry thought about – maybe he knew that Harry wished he could stay in this hotel room forever and never wake up from sleeping on the comfy bed, tucked in for the first time in his life under warm blankets. Maybe he knew that Harry would have fixed all the bruises his stranger got because Harry never wanted to go back to the Dursleys…
Then that woman had come in and she made the stranger pull away from him again. It had scared him stiff because he'd rather be with his stranger than anyone, but he'd hidden in the corner because his stranger knew he'd go to the bed. He didn't want her to come closer, but she was smiling and he was scared that maybe she had found out that he was freak and he'd done magic on his stranger. Maybe she was trying to pretend she was a friend and would punish him.
When he'd first met Piers, the boy had pretended to be friendly. In the end, he'd helped Dudley fool Harry into playing a game of hit tag. Only he was the only one who was allowed to get hit tagged.
When the woman finally reached out to touch him, he'd screamed his fear. But somehow, she never touched him. He'd shut his eyes as a wind rushed over his head and his stranger yelled, "Don't touch him!"
When he opened his eyes, he dashed forwards and hit the bed. He hastily rushed under it and soon, the blue light was gone. He had peered out from under the bed to see his stranger glowing slightly blue and knew that he'd been saved by this older boy who he knew nothing about. His stranger had done magic – very big magic!
He'd shut his eyes, trying to block out his fear and when he opened them again, the faint click of the door being shut sounded in his ears. He felt a tingling sensation on his leg and scratched away the spider that had crawled on him. Then he heard footsteps and all too soon, his stranger was peering at him.
And then the stranger said the strangest thing, "Merlin's balls, Potter, you great bloody twit." Then he fainted.
Harry kind of thought it was funny. He had enough sense to know that a 'twit' wasn't a nice word, but the stranger had said it in the funniest way – it was as if the older boy was a bit relieved, really, and it made Harry feel a smidge of warmth make it's way through him. He'd even smiled lop-sidedly but no one had seen it – his stranger was in a dead faint.
For a while, he just lay there under the bed staring at the unconscious boy before him. Back at the Dursleys, he used to have nightmares sometimes. He'd learned quickly enough not to call for Aunt P'tuna or Uncle Verwon – they got really angry with him. Sometimes, though, his dreams were too scary and he'd crawl out from the cupboard and slip silently upstairs. Unlike Dudley, he wasn't allowed in their room, even after nightmares and he wasn't allowed to sleep with them at night. Instead, he'd crawl under the bed and try to calm himself with the sound of their breathing above him.
Now, he felt oddly comforted by this crowded space as he stared at his stranger. Finally, when it looked like all the danger had passed, he crawled out and looked down at the body before him.
Maybe if he didn't do any more magic and let his stranger do it and never call him a freak, then maybe the older boy would let him stay with him forever. He didn't want to go back to the Dursleys, and his stranger hadn't laid a harmful hand on him yet…
Harry decided to let him lie down there for now, but he crawled up onto the bed and pulled a pillow from it. He jumped back down and lifted the stranger's head slightly, just enough so that he could slide a pillow down underneath it. That done, he pulled the top most blanket from the bed and fixed it around the stranger, tucking him in slightly. When that was finally finished, he stood up with his arms akimbo on his waist. Proud of his work, he climbed back onto the bed and sat down against the headboard.
And then he felt it. Something hard and smooth brushed against his leg and when he looked down, a bright smile shined upon his face. It was his unicorn! With it's new perfect leg!
His stranger had fixed it for him, Harry remembered, and he sat there staring at it with a smile.
Draco felt the strange sensation of floating in midair and, fearing that he'd been caught and was in the midst of being hovered to Azkaban, he got up quickly. Or, rather, he tried to. All that he succeeded in doing was blinking his eyes open, only to shut them again when he found that it was too bright.
After a few moment, he finally got accustomed to the light pouring into the room and he looked around. His head was slightly atop a pillow and he was wrapped securely in a blanket. In wonder, he slowly sat up with a muffled moan. Great Circe, he felt as if he had been under Crucio.
Upon hearing a soft rustle of fabric, he looked up and saw Potter looking down at him curiously from on the bed. The boy smiled cautiously before retreating back to his place on the other side of the bed against the headboard. Draco stood up slowly and noticed that Potter was looking down at his unicorn figurine and trying not to look at him.
Stupid muggle things, he thought. The ceramic animal didn't even move. What kind of a toy was that?
He looked down at himself and saw that he was still wearing the clothes he had worn yesterday – and they were still muggle clothes. He hadn't planned on staying in the past for more than day, heck, even for more than a few hours. Now he was stuck wearing the same clothes two days in a row like some common plebian. For Merlin's sake, his only companion was a four-year-old who thought he was a muggle – and one who donned only ragged night clothes and ugly trainers.
Draco ran a hand through his hair. After sighing resignedly, he said, "I need to buy a few things."
Making sure his wand was still in his pocket, he turned and headed to the door only to hear a faint gasp. He looked around and saw Potter scrambling to get off the bed and run towards him.
"What is it, Potter," he asked, his voice lacking its usual acerbic tone. The boy didn't stop a few feet away, but practically flew until he made impact with Draco's legs. His arms wrapped around the older boy's leg and he held on for dear life. "Merlin's balls!" exclaimed Draco in surprise. And when the boy looked up at him with eyes glimmering with unshed tears, he supposed that his wording had been a bit vulgar.
"No! N-No, please!" cried Harry piteously, stammering over his words in his desperation. "Please! I p-promise I won't do it again! I promise!"
At this sudden outburst, Draco was sorely tempted reprimand the boy. Instead, upon hearing undertone of utter fear, he tried to pull away so he could look at the child. However, the little boy had ideas of his own and refused to relinquish the hold he had on the older boy's leg.
With a defeated sigh, Draco asked, "What are you blathering on about now?"
Potter sniffed. "I – I won't do…I won't do…" but he trailed off once more and glanced surreptitiously up at Draco.
"Well? What is it?"
The boy gulped and buried his face in Draco's trouser leg. "The 'M' word. I won't do it again," he murmured pitifully.
At this, Draco felt the heat of the same fire that had created his magical outburst earlier. He tried to dowse as to avoid another bit of accidental magic, but felt it flare even more inside him when the child began crying again. "The…the 'M' word?" he said, his voice dangerously soft. "What is this…'M' word?"
As if hearing the sudden change in the elder's tone, Harry pulled slightly away and looked up at him cautiously. "I – I," but Draco looked at him expectantly so he said, "magic."
Draco barely quelled his anger again, but felt a faint heat surrounding him. "For pity's sake – just bloody say the damned word. You're a wizard for Merlin's sake, you fool!" And though is words were sharp, they lacked their cutting edge. When Harry jumped backwards at the word 'wizard', Draco shot him a feral grin and said, "Magic, magic, magic. And you're a wizard."
"No!" It seemed that that was all that little Potter could say for his voice seemed to have disappeared. The boy stared up at Draco with such horror filled eyes that Draco didn't know whether to laugh or console him.
And then Potter turned and dashed back to the corner and curled up there, staring at Draco through parted fingers, his eyes wide and dripping tears.
Draco sighed and walked over, kneeling in front of the child when he didn't run away. "Look, it's nothing to be frightened of. Didn't you see me doing magic? You can't deny -," but he stopped himself. You can't deny what you are, who you are… Sure, that was sound advice from someone who lived his life in denial. "Well," he said instead, "it's certainly all right if I do it, so there most definitely is nothing wrong with it."
Potter slowly pulled his hands down, looking very much like he wished to believe Draco. "But I'm…I'm a…" he paused and lowered his eyes. "I'm a freak," Potter murmured despondently.
Draco frowned at this. What the bloody hell did muggles treat children? The words, "Of course not!" suddenly exploded from his lips and he shut his mouth quickly. Now where had that revolting comment come from? He saw Potter look at him hopefully and said quickly, "Well, sure you've got that rather hideous scar…" he pointed vaguely at Potter's face, "but…well, it's not that bad."
His tone was so completely dramatic and his gestures so comical that the boy giggled softly, then hid his face in his knees, his shoulders still shaking with irrepressible laughs.
The blonde haired boy felt again that same feeling of his lips curving upwards and fought to conquer it. He shook his head dejectedly.
He hated losing.
When Harry finally felt as if he had himself under control, he wiped a sleeve across his eyes and cheeks to clear away all traces of his tears. Before him, the stranger was squatting down and smiling slightly. Harry smiled back at him tentatively.
"So – so you aren't angry?" he wondered.
The stranger's brows rose in mild surprise, but all he said was, "No."
Harry swallowed and looked away for a moment, gathering his courage to ask one last question. When he glanced back at his stranger, the older boy waited patiently for him to say something. "So…you won't leave me?"
This time, the stranger's entire face changed with surprise and Harry stood up when the other did. "Leave you? I was just going to buy a few articles of clothing for you – you didn't expect me to be seen in broad daylight with a child in only night clothes, did you?"
Harry couldn't help but crack a grin at the stranger's offended tone and said, "But I thought you were going to leave me an' never come back a-cause I did – I did the 'M' word!"
"Magic?" said the older boy, his tone didactic.
"Magic," echoed Harry obediently, looking up at his stranger with wide hopeful eyes.
"Don't be ridiculous. I just couldn't stand seeing you in those horrid rags." The stranger paused and Harry held his breath, his hands folded in front of him as if he was trying to look like a really good boy. "I suppose you'll want to come with me then…?"
Harry's face brightened with a joyful smile and he jumped up slightly. "Oh, yes!"
The stranger rolled his eyes. "Well…go into the loo and fix your hair at least, would you? Can't do anything about your face though I suppose, Scar-face," he said caustically, but Harry was too elated with being allowed to go with his stranger that he ran straight to the restroom to do as he was told. "And hurry, would you?" the older boy called after him.
Draco felt a bitter taste in his mouth as he watched Potter run off to the bathroom. What had inspired him to let the brat go with him? Stupidity. Really, that was all he could think of at the moment. Never in his life had he felt as he did now, but when Potter came dashing out of the bathroom, his hair gleaming with wetness, Draco felt that urge to smile again.
This time he was able to crush it – it made him feel loads better.
As he looked down at the little boy before him, he couldn't help but wonder how he could have ever ended up here like this. What ever happened to that feeling of hatred and anger that burned within him at the mere sight of the boy that this child grew up to be?
Facing him, Potter was jittering and shifting from foot to foot with barely restrained excitement. It seemed as if the smile plastered across his face was stuck there permanently, no matter how many times the boy tried to subdue it.
Was this the same boy that he turned down his offer of friendship all those years ago? How could so innocent a little creature cause so much hurt in another? It seemed as if he could barely hurt a fly with the way his eyes glowed so openly.
"Sir?" wondered Potter, tugging slightly on the older boy's sleeve.
The blonde headed boy glanced down at him. "My name's Malfoy, Potter." He paused. "But you can call me Draco."
Author's Note: Thank you all so much for your reviews! :o) It made me want to write some more and once i started, i couldn't stop again. So, thanks again!