Chapter 1

Rating: This one is PG13 - R in the future

Category: Slash, romance, later angst

WARNING: Hints at child abuse

Pairing: HP/DM

A/N: Written before OotP so Lucius Malfoy is not in jail.

Summary: "Great," said Malfoy, in disgust, "that's just great. That's the second time in so many days I've crashed at a sporting activity. I'm wearing a Weasley jumper of all bloody things. I'm skating with Harry Potter. And to cap it all off I now have a wet arse. When did my life go so wrong?"

***

Harry blinked.

And again. He wondered if he was seeing things.

He nudged Ron for a second opinion.

"Bloody hell!" Ron said, pressing his face up against the train window. "What's happened to Malfoy?"

"I don't think it is Malfoy," Harry said slowly. That should have been obvious, really, although Harry had sounded unconvinced.

After all, surely there must be other people with Malfoy's colouring in the world. Even just in the wizarding world. Admittedly Harry hadn't actually seen anyone with the same distinctive colouring, except for Lucius Malfoy of course, but Harry would admit to not being very well travelled.

And really, despite the colouring - silver blonde hair and white skin - the boy standing on platform 9 3/4 didn't look a bit like Malfoy. Wholly lacking that rather annoying elegance, the finely boned, sharply aristocratic face, and completely devoid of smirk. He actually resembled no one so much as an albino Neville Longbottom.

Of course he was also much younger than Malfoy. His school robes showed no house allegiance yet, which meant the chubby boy was clearly a first year.

That fully established then, it, in fact, not being Malfoy having befallen some horrible disaster over the summer, Ron sat back in his seat and resumed unwrapping his chocolate frog.

Harry, however, continued to watch the boy as he gracelessly forced his luggage onto the train.

***

Harry didn't actually see Malfoy on the train, which was rare. For their first five years - except for the second year and the unfortunate flying car incident - Malfoy had usually found some way to annoy him, but not this time.

His first view of Malfoy was therefore in the Great Hall, sitting down just before the first years entered for the sorting ceremony.

Malfoy wasn't looking at him, and so Harry watched openly as he sat mostly ignoring Crabbe and glancing often towards the door.

The first years entered and Harry immediately sought out the blonde boy. He wasn't hard to spot; and five years of wariness of white blonde hair made it particularly easy for Harry.

The boy, Harry was not surprised to see, was looking over at the Slytherin table. He grinned at Malfoy and actually waved at him, which did surprise Harry as waving was not a particularly Slytherin thing to do, he thought. Malfoy, of course, did not wave back, but he did smile at the boy. It was not an expression Harry was used to seeing on Malfoy's face at all.

"Hey Ron, I think that kid must be a Malfoy," Harry said as the sorting ceremony proceeded.

"I guess so," Ron said, clearly having been watching too, "a cousin, I suppose. Funny, though, I'd have thought Dad would have mentioned another branch of the Malfoy family. They're not exactly low profile."

"Damian Malfoy," Professor McGonagall's voice rang out.

Harry watched the boy nearly trip over his feet as he approached the stool and sat down. Harry remembered how the hat had barely touched Malfoy's head before screaming "Slytherin", and was therefore surprised that the hat took so long.

Surprised, however, was not the word for when the hat finally shouted.

"Gryffindor!"

"What!" Ron exclaimed, and his sentiments were echoed around the hall.

Harry, along with the majority of students, except for some of the clueless first years, automatically looked at Malfoy.

The expression on Malfoy's face was almost funny. Shocked, and completely oblivious to the fact that he'd dropped his pumpkin juice, staring in horror at the boy.

Professor McGonagall cleared her throat after a moment.

"Join your house, please," she said brusquely.

"Dray?" The boy, who had been staring with almost terror back at Malfoy whispered querulously at him.

Malfoy snapped out of it.

"Wait!" He stood up. "There's been a mistake. Sort him again."

"I'm sorry, Mr Malfoy," Dumbledore spoke calmly, as if the world hadn't gone completely mad, "your brother's been sorted and that's final. He's a Gryffindor."

"No! He can't be!"

"Evidently he can," Dumbledore said with a smile.

"It's just a stupid hat! What the hell does it know? My brother cannot be a Gryffindor!"

"Please sit down Mr Malfoy, there's nothing you can do." Dumbledore smiled kindly at the terrified young boy. "Please join your house."

Slowly the boy got up and joined the Gryffindor table. There was none of the cheering that usually accompanied a new arrival.

"Bloody hell," said Ron, shaking his head.

Harry agreed.

***

Despite a rather inauspicious start, the feast didn't actually go too badly for the new Gryffindor Malfoy. Draco Malfoy's brother. Harry hadn't even known he had a brother, and nor had Ron.

Harry, Ron and Hermione were admittedly among the large number of older pupils sneaking curious glances at Damian Malfoy as he sat at the far end of the table. It was probably fortunate that he was surrounded by other first year Gryffindors who knew nothing about him, or his brother, and who appeared to merely be grateful for a talking point.

Whatever Damian had said about the incident appeared to have satisfied the new Gryffindors and they were all talking together, and although he still appeared white and shaky, that wasn't exactly out of place among the other frightened first years. Yes, Harry thought, he was fortunate indeed that the students were still too new to worry about their house honour.

The same couldn't be said for Seamus, for example. He appeared torn between annoyance at the slur on his house from the Malfoys' collective horror and, Harry rather suspected, some pleasure at something new to get at Malfoy with, who certainly wouldn't be happy about this at all.

"I didn't know he had a brother. I wonder why he wasn't at the Quidditch World Cup?" Ron mused.

"Perhaps he was ill?" Hermione suggested.

Harry listened only casually. He was busy watching Malfoy, who was busy watching Damian.

***

When the feast was over, the first years were led to their dormitories. As they stood up to leave, Harry saw Malfoy slip out of his chair and on an impulse, brushing off Ron and Hermione, he followed.

They had barely got out of the room when Damian, who had been at the back of the group of first years, was pulled aside. Harry slipped into an alcove next to them to listen, ignoring the feeling that eavesdropping was probably rather un-Gryffindorish.

"Dray!" The boy's voice was relieved.

"It's alright," Malfoy said, his voice soothing. Harry was surprised; he'd expected something rather more along the lines of besmirching family honour.

"It's not alright! Dray, he's going to *kill* me!" The boy's voice sounded genuinely scared.

"It'll be alright, we'll think of something."

"No it *won't*," he sounded almost hysterical, "he'll never forgive this!"

"Damian, calm down, we'll have to worry about it later. For now... how did you get on at the feast?"

The boy sniffled. "O-Okay I guess."

"You only spoke to first years though didn't you? What did you tell them about our little scene?"

"Uh, just that we were surprised, because you wanted me to be with you."

"Good, that's good. Don't tell them anything about home. No one. Understand?"

Damian had clearly made some indication of assent because Malfoy continued.

"Good. Now listen," Malfoy sighed, "the older students are going to know better. They might... Well, they might make it difficult for you."

"I'll be OK," the boy said, although he didn't sound too sure.

"Look, stay close to Potter and his little friends when you're in the common room to begin with."

"Harry Potter?" Damian sounded surprised, but no more than Harry himself. "Doesn't he hate you?"

Malfoy snorted, "Of course he does. But he's Gryffindor to the bone. The three of them, actually. Even the Weasel's got a streak of nobility in him a mile wide. They won't let you get picked on because of me."

"Okay."

"Quick now, hurry up and catch up to your house, or you won't be able to get in."

"Dray, can I sit with you at breakfast?"

"No! Absolutely not! Trust me, you're really going to need to get in well with your house, and anyway, it's not allowed. Owl me tomorrow and let me know how you're getting on. I'll owl back and we can meet up soon."

There was a rustling sound and Harry wondered if maybe they were hugging; an image he couldn't quite picture.

"Go on, quick. Good luck."

Harry watched as Damian ran after the other Gryffindors who were disappearing round a corner. He slunk back into the shadows as Malfoy passed on his way back to the hall, looking worried.

Harry walked thoughtfully up to the Gryffindor tower. He wondered briefly if he would have actually protected Damian Malfoy from being picked on, if he *was*, in fact that noble, but it didn't really matter now.

Now that Malfoy had promised him he would, he supposed he had to, Gryffindor nobility and all. Bloody Malfoys.

***

It was a little bit later that evening when the new first years came down from their dormitories. They had clearly been getting to know each other better before facing the common room.

They all looked a bit scared, and none more so than Damian Malfoy. For good reason.

"Well, well," Seamus' voice rang out, "A Malfoy in Gryffindor. How shocking. Sorry we're not *good* enough for you."

Damian looked like a rabbit caught in headlights. His eyes flickered to Harry.

"Can it, Seamus," Harry said, casually. "We're all Gryffindors here, and Gryffindors stick together."

Ron and Hermione stared at him. They weren't the only ones.

"But Harry..." Seamus began, doubtless remembering last year when Malfoy had tormented him mercilessly about an unfortunate dose of acne.

"But what?"

"But, but... *Malfoy*," as though that explained everything. Perhaps it did, but still.

"Your house is your family while you're in Hogwarts. Right, Ron?"

Ron stared at Harry for a moment. Harry knew how much Ron, of all people, disliked the Malfoys, but Ron *was* noble, like Malfoy said, although he'd never admit it. Harry wondered what Ron would think if he knew Malfoy thought so, too.

Ron was also more popular than Harry, boy who lived notwithstanding, maybe because people were still a little in awe of him, despite years of familiarity. Harry knew with both him and Ron making a stand from the off, Damian would be OK. Ron glanced at Damian's frightened face and rolled his eyes.

"That's right. Of course, that does mean I'm related to you, Finnegan, so maybe *I'd* rather be in Slytherin."

This prompted shrieks of laughter and protestations, and the first years slipped into the background, Damian's face shining with relief.

***

Over breakfast Malfoy practically ripped the leg off his owl in his haste to get the letter the next morning, and tore it open, ignoring the owl's indignant hoot.

He read it quickly, and Harry saw him sigh in relief. He looked up and smiled at Damian who smiled happily back, talking animatedly to the other first years. Malfoy then glanced over to where Harry sat. Harry pretended not to notice.

Potions that afternoon was very quiet. Malfoy said nothing to any Gryffindors, and Harry guessed a thank you was too much to hope for. Harry had wondered if possibly some of the Gryffindors might try and tease Malfoy because, after all, he couldn't be happy about this at all, and Damian himself... Well, Harry could see how he might cause a bit of trouble for Malfoy. Chubby and clumsy, traits Malfoy had often ridiculed mercilessly in Neville, he could have been a source of embarrassment. Harry was rather proud of his house for refraining from this, although he did acknowledge that they just might be scared.

Harry hadn't actually spoken to Damian directly, as a lofty sixth year he didn't associate with first years, but kept an eye on him, and noticed that he appeared quite a friendly boy. He was well spoken, like Malfoy, but didn't have the arrogant drawl or turn of phrase.

Harry observed Malfoy's eagle owl drop a letter on Damian's head the next morning, and therefore wasn't surprised when that evening Damian sneaked out of the common room, telling his new friends he was getting some air and, no, he'd be fine on his own.

Surprised at his own curiosity, Harry hurried as casually as he could upstairs, grabbed his invisibility cloak and nipped out after him. He was easy to find, after five years of knowing Malfoy, and Harry caught up with him in the corridor on the way to the dungeons.

He slipped inside the classroom with Damian, where Malfoy was waiting, and stood by the wall watching as they hugged. Even though Harry had seen Malfoy smiling at Damian, he was still surprised by the genuine affection on his face.

"How's it going?"

"OK, I guess, the lessons are hard. But my housemates are nice."

"Hmm," Malfoy made a face and Damian laughed.

He sobered then, and looked at Malfoy for a long moment.

"Dray, what are we going to do?"

"Don't worry. I've already sent an owl home."

"Dray! What did he say?"

"We'll, actually, this Gryffindor business seemed to slip my mind when I was writing the letter. I just said we were both OK. You mustn't write, but of course he wouldn't expect you to, anyway"

"You didn't tell him? Merlin, Dray, we can't hide this, he's going to find out!"

"Of course he is, but we can control it." Malfoy sighed. "I've owled mother and told her. She's going to get him to take her skiing over Christmas. They'll ask us, of course, but it won't be suspicious when we don't go, because you nearly killed yourself last time and I hate the cold."

"So we stay here over Christmas. What difference does that make?"

"Then I'll go home over Easter, and you can stay here. I'll tell him then, and there's nothing he can do. If I told him at Christmas he could make you come back at Easter, but if I tell him at Easter, he can't do anything until you go home for the summer. Hopefully he'll get it mostly out of his system over Easter." Malfoy gave Damian a small, bitter smile. "Anyway, I'd rather do it at Easter. I don't know about you, but broken ribs aren't high on my Christmas list."

Fortunately for Harry, his surprised gasp was drowned out by Damian's wail.

"No, Dray, you can't tell him on your own. It's my fault..."

"It's *not* your fault. It's that stupid hat's fault."

"Still, Dray, he's going to go mad. You can't tell him alone."

"I can and I will. No, I'm doing it on my own." Damian looked mutinous and Malfoy sighed.

"I suppose this is that Gryffindor bravery the hat must have sorted you for," he teased.

"I thought you said it was a stupid hat," Damian said with a small smile.

Draco chuckled, then sobered.

"Look, even if you were there, you know I'd stand up for you. I've run interference for you your whole life, I'm not going to stop just because you've suddenly become a bloody Gryffindor."

Damian hugged him, and Malfoy patted his head softly.

Damian sniffed as Malfoy held him.

"Anyway," Malfoy said. "You know I'm his *favourite*."

The word was tinged with such bitter sharpness Harry didn't know what to make of it at all.

Damian whispered, "I'm so sorry, Dray," as Malfoy continued to comfort him.

***

Harry's burning curiosity about the Malfoys had been, of course, fanned by this strange scene. He'd shared what he'd learnt with Ron and Hermione, and they'd both been shocked. They decided not to mention it to anyone, despite Hermione's insistence.

"No," Ron said firmly. "Honestly Herm, you don't understand how powerful Lucius Malfoy is. If you're thinking about child abuse, that's a pretty serious accusation. They'd never make it stick without Malfoy and Damian and you'd better believe Malfoy would rather eat glass than go against his father."

"I don't know. Malfoy could have been joking about the ribs, I'm just not sure" Harry said, raising a hand to forestall Hermione, "But one thing is for certain, Damian was really scared."

"Look, we've got until Easter," Harry continued. "If we get to know Damian better, we might find he's overreacting, or we might find out," he paused, "something else, in which case we'll tell Dumbledore, I promise."

***

Damian was a happy, friendly boy, which frankly surprised the Gryffindors immensely. The older Gryffindors didn't speak to him of course, but they mostly didn't speak to first years anyway.

Harry wondered about getting to know him, not really sure where to start.

"So, your brother and I have hated each other for years... let's be pals," didn't strike him as a particularly good idea.

"So, I hear you might be abused. That true?" Ditto.

So Harry relied on smiling at him. Not exactly a prodigious start, true, but there was very little that could go wrong there.

But then a perfect opportunity presented itself.

Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff.

Quidditch. The first match of the year. After which, as far as Gryffindor House was concerned, Harry Potter could do whatever the hell he wanted.

The celebrations were in full swing when Harry and Ron, now the Gryffindor Keeper, and the rest of the team arrived after showering and changing.

All seats in the common room were taken and after accepting many congratulations Harry snagged a pumpkin juice and spotted Damian in the corner. Perfect. Out of the way, just two chairs, one for Damian and one for his closest friend - Nigel, Harry thought his name was.

He made his way over and beamed brightly at Nigel, who gaped back star-struck.

"Would you mind?" He asked politely, gesturing towards the chair. "I'm shattered."

"Oh, oh, of course!" Nigel exclaimed, practically falling over his feet in his eagerness.

Harry sank into the comfortable chair.

"Hey, Nigel," Ron called the boy from where he was standing on the table, holding court. Since Fred and George had left, not taking any NEWTs, Ron and Seamus had ruled the Gryffindor common room with their happy mixture of fun and bluster.

"Wha...?" Nigel asked, dazed.

"C'mere. You're about the same size as the Hufflepuff seeker, I want to show them all how *I* actually won the game."

Everyone mock groaned, as Nigel approached and Ron winked at Harry who was now left alone with Damian.

Damian seemed to notice this, and mumbled something, appearing to start to get up.

Harry acted quickly.

"Did you enjoy the game?" Harry knew for a fact Malfoy loved Quidditch, and so he felt on safe ground.

"Oh yes!" Damian's eyes brightened and his face was full of excitement, looking every inch the Gryffindor. "You were fantastic!"

"Thanks," Harry said, shaking his head modestly.

"The way you caught that Snitch, I thought for sure you were going to crash!"

Harry laughed, "Me too," he said, although that wasn't actually true.

"No you didn't," Damian said perceptively, looking for a moment far more like Malfoy than he had before, "Dray says you always win, except once, and that wasn't your fault."

Damian stopped suddenly, as if realising that calling upon Draco Malfoy as a form of authority in the Gryffindor common room was possibly not a good idea.

"There's some luck involved too, you know," Harry said.

Damian shook his head. "Dray says you're the best seeker he's ever seen."

At Harry's surprised look, Damian grinned. "Course, he might just say that 'cos you beat him."

Harry laughed.

"Mal - Draco is an excellent flier," he conceded.

"Yeah," Damian nodded, "He might be better than you."

He flushed suddenly, aware that this was sacrilege in the Gryffindor common room

Harry smiled to show he wasn't offended.

"He says... he says he could beat you in a race, but that you're the most natural seeker he's ever seen. Got an instinct for the Snitch. Even more so than Viktor Krum."

"Maybe," Harry said. "I didn't see you at the Quidditch World Cup," he said cautiously. "Didn't you want to see it?"

"Oh yes!" Damian replied quickly, "I did, but my father..." he tailed of suddenly. Damian looked down at his hands, awkwardly. "I just couldn't go," he finished lamely.

Harry decided not to push it.

"I guess Gryffindor versus Slytherin's going to be a bit tough for you, huh?"

Damian shrugged, "Yeah, well. I expect you'll win." He grinned, looking up, suddenly mischievous, "He really hates that."

They both laughed.

***

Harry went on slowly, making sure he spoke to Damian regularly. Harry was aware enough of his fame to know this helped Damian settle in to Gryffindor, and it also provided fascinating titbits of information.

As Damian continued to open up, his regard for his brother shone through.

"Dray says..." this and "Dray says..." that.

While Damian would say virtually nothing about himself, and absolutely nothing about his father, he was happy to talk about his brother constantly. Draco Malfoy, Harry was now aware, did not like the Weird Sisters. He preferred instead Gwendolyn Guileless, which would damage his reputation awfully for a start. Draco Malfoy loved France, but hated Paris. He liked snow, but hated the cold. He liked cats, but was scared of rats. That was Harry's particular favourite snippet of information.

Harry wasn't sure if Malfoy knew how much Damian talked to him or not. As far as anyone seemed able to tell, Draco Malfoy appeared to have forgotten there was a Gryffindor house at all. The intense rivalry between Slytherin and Gryffindor had just. Died. Harry wondered if he was the only one to miss it. Just a little bit, of course.

Although they were only in their sixth years, Malfoy was unofficial head of Slytherin house, the same way that Harry and Ron were unofficial leaders of Gryffindor, neither house having particularly strong characters in the seventh year.

The steely glare from Malfoy to Pansy Parkinson over dinner on one of the first few days of term when she made a derogatory comment about Hermione was enough to quell most of the other Slytherins.

A couple of braver seventh years had remarked on Neville's dropped plate that same week, and had found themselves mysteriously wearing their own dinners and mocked roundly in Malfoy's sharp, ringing drawl.

That had been, however, the only example of the nastier side of Draco Malfoy's temper exhibited this year, and without him the Slytherins simply didn't have the same malice.

Centuries of House rivalry not forgotten, exactly, no. Not so much buried, as swept away. Hiding under the carpet, ready to come out again when Malfoy's back was turned. But Malfoy, Harry had six years of reasons to know, didn't miss much.

That was not to say, of course, that Malfoy or the other Slytherins were *nice* to the Gryffindors; they simply ignored them. If it hadn't been for the large eagle owl dropping a letter on Damian every two days, and Malfoy receiving a letter on the alternate days, you wouldn't think he remembered having a brother at all.

***

The strangest thing happened a few weeks into term.

Snape, who Harry suspected was rather bored by all this peace, paired him and Malfoy together in potions. Honestly, if Snape had wanted to cause trouble, he'd have done far better to pair Malfoy and Ron, but as he so often accused others, Snape didn't see past Famous-Harry-Potter.

It was bizarre. They worked like complete strangers, as if they hadn't been spitting insults at, trading curses with, and earning detentions for each other for years.

"Pass the newts eggs please, Malfoy."

"The beetles legs need to be two centimetres please, Potter."

Harry noticed, in the relative peace, other things about Malfoy he'd never known before.

He now knew that Malfoy somehow managed to keep his hands clean all through the day, whereas Harry only needed to look at a quill to get ink-stained fingers. He wondered if it was some kind of dark magic, and if it was, if it was really *too* dark for him to use.

He knew that Malfoy hummed softly when he was concentrating, always the same thing, a tune that Harry didn't know, which was, incidentally, slowly driving him mad.

He knew now how Crabbe and Goyle, notoriously stupid, managed to pass most of their classes. By cheating. In potions, for example, when they got stuck, which was often, one of them would cough loudly to attract Malfoy's attention, who would look at their potion and then wave the next thing they needed casually in the air.

He knew that Malfoy always, *always* missed one piece of hair when he slicked it back which curled disobediently at his neck. That, too, was driving Harry crazy.

One day Harry snapped. Even when Malfoy wasn't actually trying to be annoying, he still was.

"What *is* that!"

Malfoy looked up, startled from where he'd been studying the potions book.

"What?"

Some people were looking at them. Many, Harry noticed, were looking eager. Perhaps he wasn't the only one missing their rivalry.

He lowered his voice.

"That song."

"What song?"

Harry ground his teeth.

"What do you mean 'What song'? *That* song! The one you were humming."

"I wasn't humming."

Harry glared at him, "Yes, you were."

"I don't hum." Malfoy said loftily.

"What! You *do*! You hum *all the time*!"

Something like amusement flickered in Malfoy's silver eyes.

"I do not." Malfoy met his eyes in obviously false innocence.

Harry felt a smile tug at his own lips.

"Do so."

Malfoy smirked, "Do not."

"Do too."

"You're delusional, Potter. Hearing voices." There was none of the malice Harry was used to.

"You're lying."

Malfoy shook his head sadly, "Potty Potter."

"Slimy git."

They both returned to their work. They both were smiling.

As Malfoy was leaving he said, "Elgar's Cello Concerto. And it's not a song."

***

"Honestly, Potter. Four centimetres. What's the matter, can't you count that high?"

"Sorry Malfoy, I was distracted by Dean's rat climbing in your bag."

Malfoy's head flew round fast enough to get whiplash.

Harry stopped sniggering when Malfoy turned back, glaring.

"Well, don't blame me when the potion explodes and covers you in boils. Not that they'd notice on your spotty face."

"I am not spotty!"

"Oh really, what's that then?"

"A *mole* Malfoy. Unlike you, some of us have *seen* the sun."

Potions became much more fun.

***

Christmas holidays fast approached, and Harry, Ron, Hermione and Damian were the only Gryffindors to stay. Malfoy was the only Slytherin, although Harry knew for a fact that Crabbe, Goyle and Pansy Parkinson had all offered to stay. Three Hufflepuffs and two Ravenclaws made up all the students remaining at Hogwarts over the holidays.

The first morning of the holidays, the Gryffindors were already down when Malfoy arrived in the Great Hall for breakfast, and so were the other two houses.

As Malfoy walked over to the Slytherin table, a voice called out.

"Dray! Come and sit over here."

Malfoy froze. Harry suspected no one but him had actually seen the Malfoy brothers even have a conversation. Despite knowing that the brothers were constantly in touch, however, Harry was still surprised, as despite Damian's naivete, even he would know what a major breach of etiquette that would be.

"That's excellent idea Mr Malfoy," Dumbledore's calm voice agreed casually. "Perhaps if you all sat at that table," he purposely didn't call it the Gryffindor table, "it would save the house-elves still laying four."

The Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were already getting up, probably excited about sitting with famous Harry Potter. Malfoy approached the table slowly. He met Harry's eyes and Harry nodded cordially.

Damian moved up, and with that Draco Malfoy sat at the Gryffindor table.

Damian chatted away, filling up any potential silences, talking about the spot test Snape had sprung on them on the last day. He reached for the teapot and poured Malfoy a cup, probably saving him from looking for things in places that might be different from his own table. He gave it to Malfoy, with milk, no sugar, and started buttering some toast.

Harry realised he actually knew this. Malfoy wouldn't have anything other than tea (milk, no sugar) and toast for breakfast. He knew Malfoy certainly wouldn't have any bacon and eggs or cereal or kippers or scones; just tea (milk, no sugar) and toast with...

"Here," he handed Damian the honey without being asked.

"Thanks," Damian continued without a blink, but Malfoy glanced at Harry quizzically as his brother gave him his usual breakfast.

"Dray," Damian asked through a mouthful of sausage, "can we go flying after breakfast? Can I try out your Firebolt?"

"What, after you crashed and broke the Nimbus 2001?"

"That was an accident!"

"I know, you didn't see the Manor wall. That's understandable, after all, it's only five floors high and been there for a thousand years."

"Shut up! So, can I?"

"First years aren't allowed their own brooms." He glanced at Harry, "Well, *most* aren't."

"It's not mine, though, it's yours. We're allowed to borrow school brooms, and it's just the same. Pleeease?"

"Oh, all right. But break it, and you'd better break your neck as well, or I will."

"Thanks!" Damian beamed and then turned to Harry and Ron.

"Do you two want to come flying with us?"

Malfoy stiffened, and this seemed to be a step too far for him.

"I'm not flying with Potter on a school broom," he said coldly, and the level of distain in the word 'Potter' was more what Harry was used to.

"I'll use a school broom, too," he said calmly.

Malfoy looked at him, eyes still flat, as though considering if Harry was patronising him.

Harry tried to look as inoffensive as possible, something he'd had a lot of practice at living at the Dursleys.

"C'mon Dray," Damian said eagerly, and Harry saw Malfoy's expression soften slightly, as it often did when he looked at his brother, "the worse brooms are the more difficult to fly anyway. Bet I beat you *both* on the Firebolt."

Malfoy snorted and went back to his toast and honey, which Damian apparently interpreted as acquiescence, because he beamed happily.

"Hermione?" Damian asked, "Would you like to play?"

"What? Um, well, I don't know, I do have some reading to do..." Hermione looked both flustered and pleased, and suddenly Harry wondered if he and Ron had accidentally excluded Hermione from flying by merely assuming she wouldn't be interested.

"Hermione, it's the *first* day of the holidays, you've got *two weeks*," Ron said exasperatedly.

"Alright then," Hermione said decidedly, slamming her book closed, "I will."

And so it was that the five of them went down to the Quidditch pitch and played that morning.

They didn't actually play Quidditch, instead they played with one Quaffle and Ron guarding one hoop, much like basketball, Harry thought. Damian picked the teams, which were himself and Harry against Hermione and Malfoy.

It worked out, actually, rather well. Ron showed no favouritism with Harry and Hermione on different teams, and they were very evenly matched. In this situation Malfoy and Harry were roughly on a par in skill and both on the same type of broom, as Harry had deliberately picked exactly the same one as Malfoy. Hermione's lack of experience and Damian's infinitely superior Firebolt were both cancelled out by Damian's enormous natural ineptitude, so they, likewise, were on a par.

As it turned out, Hermione and Malfoy won just barely over the hour they played by two baskets. Damian protested loudly that Malfoy must have cheated somehow, and insisted on a rematch after lunch.

The remainder of the morning Malfoy and Damian went off on their own, leaving Harry, Ron and Hermione alone to wonder at having played a friendly game with Malfoy.

Over the course of the week they played every day and even started spending time together when they weren't flying.

Malfoy could give Ron a decent game of chess, which neither Harry nor Hermione could, and so long as they talked about chess or Quidditch, they were on fairly safe ground. Ron won more often though, and Harry found it quite amusing to watch Malfoy attempt to curb his annoyance.

Hermione and Malfoy found what both Harry and Ron considered to be a quite disturbing love of books in common. They happily discussed the latest periodical-parchments on potions and charms research and 'Transfiguration Today', and argued spiritedly about some of the more controversial new theories on Veritaserum, which no one but them understood one word of.

Malfoy seemed to bizarrely get along simultaneously both better and worse with Harry than with the other two. They found nothing really in common - except Harry suspected a lack of love in their childhood, which he obviously didn't feel ready to bring up with Malfoy quite yet - not chess or books, or anything else really, but still Malfoy seemed far more comfortable with him than with the others.

Harry was the only one to still experience Malfoy's sarcasm; he was civil to Ron, even when he beat him at chess, and the academic discussions he had with Hermione were always excruciatingly polite. He seemed to feel no such restraint around Harry.

"Good grief, Potter, look at your hair. I know you were dragged up, but I didn't realise you still slept in a barn."

"Malfoy, at breakfast already? And it's only 8 o'clock. Managed to cut your time in front of the mirror down to just two hours huh?"

Yet on occasion they also managed to be suddenly awkward.

When Harry had thoughtlessly brought Malfoy's discarded sweater in from the field one day when it had started to rain, as he would have done for any of them, he felt strangely self conscious when handing it over, and their conversation had been strained for the rest of the afternoon.

When Ron had stolen Harry's bag, Harry had tackled him bodily to the floor, but when Ron had thrown it to Draco, Harry had stopped, suddenly stupidly uncomfortable at the thought of invading Draco's personal space. The issue had fortunately been resolved when Draco's throw to Hermione had gone wildly off course, and Harry's bag had ended up a tree.

Despite all the odds though, they seemed to manage to be remarkably uncompetitive at the Quidditch/Basketball they played nearly every day. Perhaps because Malfoy's brother was on the opposite side, and Hermione was against Harry, their games were played in surprisingly friendly spirits.

On Christmas Eve morning, however, as they went out to the field the balance was disturbed, as Hermione refused to play. She insisted that she had far too much work to do and would have to just watch.

"I know," Damian said suddenly, with a gleam in his eye. He reached into the Quidditch set and pulled out the Golden Snitch, holding it in his hands in front of Malfoy and Harry. "Why don't the two of you try for the Snitch? After all, Ron's got all this Quidditch practice in as a keeper, you two need to keep your seeker eyes in, too."

Harry glanced at Malfoy, wondering why he felt excited.

"You game, Malfoy?" He asked.

"If you like," Malfoy replied, with fake nonchalance, "It would just be my luck to beat Harry Potter with no one here to see it."

"In your dreams, Malfoy."

"In reality in a minute, Potter."

"Want to bet?"

"OK, what?"

Harry's mind went blank and he glanced around for inspiration. His eyes lighted on Ron's frayed sleeve and returned speculatively to Malfoy's sweater. Black and silky looking, Harry had no idea what the material was, but even he could tell it was expensive. He grinned.

"Ron's expecting a *lovely* new jumper tomorrow aren't you, Ron."

"Yes," Ron said in momentary confusion, then grinned back at Harry, "That's right. A lovely hand knitted maroon jumper."

"If I win, Malfoy, you have to wear Ron's new jumper all day tomorrow."

Damian laughed loudly and Malfoy glared at him.

He turned back to Harry, raising an eyebrow, "That's pretty evil, Potter. I'm impressed, clearly you're learning."

Harry inclined his head in mock acknowledgement.

"But if *I* win, you have to wear a Slytherin scarf all day..."

"Done."

"... on the first day of term, when everyone can see it."

They stared at him in horror.

Malfoy laughed. "But you're still an amateur."

Damian handed Malfoy his Firebolt. "Well, you may as well do it properly," he said.

Harry nodded at Malfoy's questioning look and raised his wand towards the castle.

"*Accio* Firebolt." Now that was a spell he had down pat.

His Firebolt appeared suddenly, shooting gracefully towards him and halting beside him, hovering in the air, quivering slightly.

Damian released the Snitch and counted to twenty and then they were off.

Harry soared into the air, feeling his spirits take off too. He'd greatly enjoyed their games over the past week; it had been more of a challenge riding the old, cranky brooms, and not having their Firebolts had meant that he and Malfoy had not overrun the game. But. This. There was nothing like this.

The feeling of utter freedom soaring unchecked through the sky. The feeling of total control, where his broom would respond to the slightest move of his body so closely it almost felt like he only had to think for it to react.

He felt a presence and looked over to see Malfoy gliding elegantly along beside him. He smiled at Malfoy who grinned back, and it was just wonderful to have someone to share this incredible feeling with.

The circled the air, flying so high and so fast that he almost forgot why he was there. Until suddenly he saw it, glinting golden in the winter sun, between him and Malfoy, but it was closer to Malfoy than to him.

He sensed rather than saw the moment Malfoy saw the Snitch too, and suddenly they were both hurtling towards it, and each other, through the bright blue sky.

It spun away, calling to them to chase it and with an instinct he had been born with, Harry followed it, almost anticipating its moves and gaining on it faster than Malfoy.

They were nearly upon it, when in his hyperaware state Harry noticed as he reached for the Snitch, how Malfoy's hair glowed in the sunlight as brightly as the golden Snitch itself.

He must have lost concentration for a minute, or perhaps Malfoy did, because suddenly they hit, brooms and legs brushing against the other. At the speed they were travelling it was impossible to control, and the sudden sharp movements they both made to try and disengage only seemed to make it worse and they were falling in a tangle of arms and legs too involved to shake free. Fortunately they were not very far from the ground when they collided, but they still landed with a heavy thud.

Harry felt all the air knocked out of him as he landed on top of Malfoy.

"Oomph."

They both lay there panting, trying to regain their breath. As sense returned Harry felt the warm body beneath him squirm slightly to try and shake him off, and noticed that Malfoy smelt very nice, although quite exactly of what he wasn't sure.

He stared at Malfoy, suddenly strangely uncomfortable and noticed a slight flush to Malfoy's pale face.

But when he met his eyes Malfoy just shrugged.

"I hope you don't think you won just because you ended up on top, Potter."

Harry snorted with startled laughter and then felt a hand on his back.

"Oh Merlin, Harry, are you alright?" Ron's worried voice.

"Uh, yeah, I'm OK." He tried to disentangle himself from Malfoy.

"Dray! Are you OK?"

"I'm fine. I'd be better if Potter moved his heavy arse."

Harry glared at him, and shook his hand free from under Malfoy's shoulder.

"Wait!" Hermione said suddenly and they both froze.

She reached cautiously between them and withdrew the Golden Snitch from where it had been trapped between their chests.

She laughed. "I guess you'd better call that a draw, then."

"I guess so," Harry said, finally able to stand up. He offered a hand to Malfoy, who hesitated only a moment before taking it.

Malfoy winced slightly and held his side when he, too, was upright.

"C'mon, you'd both better see Madame Pomfrey to be sure. Shame though," Damian continued as they all headed back to the castle, "I would have loved to have seen you in that jumper, Dray."

"Me too," Harry said thoughtlessly, a stray idea crossing his mind that Malfoy would probably look very good in maroon, quite dramatic against his colouring.

"OK, Potter," Malfoy said with an air of someone doing a great favour, "I'll wear the *Weasley jumper*," he sounded appropriately disgusted, "if you wear the Slytherin scarf. But we'll both wear them tomorrow."

***

Harry was looking immensely forward to Christmas Day this year, and was not at all grumpy to be woken early by Hermione bursting in with a "Merry Christmas!"

He and Ron had allowed Damian to sleep in their dorm on Christmas Eve, as they were the only three Gryffindor boys remaining.

"Bloody hell," came Ron's voice from the next bed and Harry looked up blearily to see what had startled Ron. It soon became apparent as Harry was nearly blinded by the glare of the sun through the window reflecting on an enormous pile of sliver wrapped presents.

He gaped at them; sure he had never seen so many presents in one room in his life.

"Erm," Damian sat up in Neville's bed, looking embarrassed, "Mother goes a bit mad at Christmas."

"Blimey," said Ron, getting up to attack his own, far smaller, pile of presents. "You could open a shop!"

Damian still looked uncomfortable, "They'll mostly be clothes, anyway," he said defensively. "They're always looking for something to make me look more like a proper Malfoy."

There was an uncomfortable pause, while Harry remembered the elegance of the Malfoy family at the Quidditch world cup, and how Damian only had to wear his robes for two minutes before they creased, despite how frightfully expensive they *must* have been. He remembered how Damian hadn't been at the World Cup despite wanting to go, and how no one had known the Malfoy's even had another son. He felt a wave of pity for Damian who looked embarrassed at his slip.

"Talking of looking like a Malfoy... where's that jumper!" Hermione said to break the silence.

***

They took the jumper down to breakfast, where Malfoy was already waiting.

"Merry Christmas, Dray!"

"Merry Christmas, Damian," Malfoy replied with a smile. He looked at the trio of Gryffindors. "Merry Christmas," he said politely.

"Thanks for the present," Damian said as he grabbed some toast. Malfoy's present had been the only one from his family Damian had been excited by - a full set of Ryselton-Thorpe Rapiers Quidditch robes.

"You're welcome. And thank you, too."

"Look what Harry, Ron and Hermione got me," Damian exclaimed excitedly, holding out his hand.

In it was a small model of the Rapiers' seeker, Malcolm Chumley-West, who tossed his tiny, perfectly-coiffed head at the attention. In Harry's opinion he was a stuck up git, but that he therefore probably fit in well with the rest of the most snobbish team in the Quidditch league. He hadn't mentioned this to Damian however, and had been extremely gratified at the flush of pleasure when they had presented him with the small gift this morning, even though it had probably cost a mere fraction of the least expensive of his many other gifts. And it was their gift that he proudly showed off to his big brother.

"That's nice," Malfoy said. Obviously, he was far too grand to be excited about a cheap Quidditch miniature, but Malfoy was fooling Harry less and less and the pleased smile in his eyes, along with Damian's more obvious pleasure, made Harry very glad he'd suggested they buy it.

"Merry Christmas, Malfoy," Harry said, holding out Ron's jumper with a grin.

"Oh, *thank you*," Malfoy replied sarcastically. "Just what I've always wanted."

However, with nothing more than a theatrical grimace, he pulled the maroon jumper over his head.

Even though he joined in with the others laughing as Malfoy bowed mockingly to them when he had it on, personally Harry thought he'd been right and the maroon did suit him.

Admittedly, it was much too big for him, and the thick home knitted jumper was a far cry from the fine knit sweaters Harry was used to seeing on Malfoy, but the maroon highlighted his pale skin, and where he'd pulled it over his head it had slightly mussed his hair. Along with his faintly disgruntled expression, he actually looked rather... cute. Harry found himself in the utterly unfamiliar situation of wishing Colin Creevey was nearby.

"Now you," Malfoy said, unwrapping his Slytherin scarf from round his neck and holding it out to Harry. "Merry Christmas, Potter."

"Are you sure?" Harry demurred innocently, "I know how you hate the cold."

"Oh no, that's alright Potter. I have this *lovely* jumper to keep me warm."

So Harry took the Slytherin scarf and wrapped it round his neck with a flourish. Malfoy, Hermione and Damian laughed and Ron booed at him, but he didn't really mind; the scarf was still flesh warm and smelled rather nicely of Malfoy's hair.

After breakfast they all went outside and discovered that the pond had frozen overnight.

"Dray!" said Damian excitedly. "Did you get new skates for Christmas?"

"I don't know," Malfoy replied. "I haven't actually opened them all yet, but I expect so."

Ron rolled his eyes at the casual display of wealth, but said nothing.

Malfoy was gazing at the lake with interest.

"Do any of you skate?" Damian asked.

None of them did.

"If Dray's got new skates, one of you can learn in his old ones."

Ron and Hermione demurred. Ron, it seemed, was probably understandably not quite ready to accept Malfoy hand-me-downs, but Harry shrugged.

"OK. Unless you want them, Damian."

"Oh no," Damian laughed. "Last time I broke my arm and uprooted a small tree. It's probably safer for me on land."

Despite this somewhat discouraging news, Harry agreed to attempt to skate. This seemed to please Malfoy, and he went to see about the skates.

Ron and Hermione went back into the castle, leaving Damian on the bank watching, and Harry and Malfoy made their way out onto the lake.

Malfoy glided out a few feet as Harry stepped precariously out onto the ice.

It wasn't too bad until he tried to move further out.

"Oomph!"

"Are you OK, Potter? That looked painful."

Malfoy did not sound sympathetic at all, Harry thought. He should have worn his long, arse-covering robes. He saw that now.

He got up to his feet. Standing, he could manage. Moving... not so much.

"Ouch."

"Don't try to go too fast. Slow, steady pushes off the ice."

Malfoy glided around in front of him in a graceful figure of eight.

Harry glared at him.

"Show off," he muttered.

Malfoy laughed.

"Come on. I *know* you've got coordination; it's just a question of rhythm. See if you can get to me." He stopped about ten feet away from Harry.

Right. Slow. Steady. Push and glide. A kind of shaky glide, but still. Push and glide. Not too bad, he thought as he approached Malfoy. But. Wait. Where were the brakes?!

He slid into Malfoy, not quite fast enough to knock them both down straight away. They struggled inelegantly for balance for a few moments, Harry clinging tightly to Malfoy's arms, before gravity was victorious, and they both landed heavily on their bums on the cold, wet ice.

"Great," said Malfoy, in disgust, "that's just great. That's the second time in so many days I've crashed at a sporting activity. I'm wearing a *Weasley jumper* of all bloody things. I'm skating with Harry Potter. And to cap it all off I now have a wet arse. When did my life go so wrong?"

Harry grinned at him. Somehow, he couldn't bring himself to be sorry at all.

Harry learnt to skate well enough to do a number of circuits without falling at what he thought was a quite reasonable speed. Some people didn't think so of course ("Oh well done, Potter, you've now reached five year old standard") but he was quite pleased anyway. Malfoy had been annoyingly good at skating, and not at all shy about crowing over it. Damian, however, had provided an unexpected source of relief for Harry.

After about the tenth time Harry had landed on his arse - in a particularly undignified and painful manner - Harry had sniped at a sniggering Malfoy.

"And I suppose *you* were perfect straight away?"

Malfoy executed an exquisite jump, in which he appeared to turn about three times in the air. Harry really wished he'd fallen on his face, but alas, no.

"Of course. I can do anything. Naturally superior Slytherin and all."

"He can't swim," Damian had piped up suddenly, from the bank.

"What?" Harry had sort of forgotten Damian, and blinked at him in surprise.

"Superior Slytherin or no, he can't swim." Damian repeated, with a cheerful grin at Malfoy.

"Traitor!" Malfoy glared at him. Damian seemed unperturbed.

"Really?" Harry was extremely gratified, and a little surprised. Surely all children could swim. It was only natural. Hell, Harry himself had never had a great deal of opportunity to learn, and *he* could swim. Admittedly, trying to rescue your best friend from aggressive merpeople and vicious Grindylows probably helped your learning curve along, but still.

Malfoy shrugged, looking a little uncomfortable.

"That's it!" Harry said triumphantly. "Next available opportunity, I'm teaching you how to swim."

Malfoy raised an eyebrow.

"Why would *I* want to learn how to swim?" He asked, sounding as arrogant as Harry had ever heard him.

"Why would I want to learn how to skate?"

"Thirst for knowledge? Inherent masochism?"

"Come on, Malfoy. It's only fair."

"Fair?" Malfoy's eyebrow managed to get even higher. "You must have me confused with somebody else."

***

That evening for the first time ever, Draco Malfoy came into the Gryffindor common room.

They were allowed to take hot chocolate up with them, and if Malfoy was uncomfortable it only showed in the number of criticisms he afforded the room. Too small, too crowded, and Harry was extremely glad the fat lady couldn't hear what was said in the room. After about five minutes, though, during which Harry strategically asked Ron to bring down some games from their dorm so he wouldn't hear Malfoy, he settled in and they sat in front of the fire in enormous chairs, drinking hot chocolate and playing 'Murder!', a sort of wizard version of 'Clue!', in which the miniatures actually crept around the board trying to kill each other.

Malfoy won, which everyone attributed to his naturally criminal Slytherin nature.

Damian went up to bed first, and was followed quickly by Ron and Hermione, who went to chat in the boy's dorm.

At least, Harry liked to think that was what they were doing. The day had become very interesting indeed when they discovered mistletoe hanging in the doorway of the Great Hall. Fortunately Ron and Hermione had entered for dinner first and, after the reason for the whoops and catcalls from the mischievous Hufflepuffs was ascertained, had blushingly shared a chaste kiss. At least, the first kiss was chaste, but Hermione was ever quick on the uptake, and not one to let an opportunity pass her by, and so had kissed Ron a second time until his ears burned as red as his hair.

When they had separated, Malfoy, Harry and Damian had all shuffled by in single file and fortunately, after the Ron and Hermione show, the stunned students had mostly ignored them.

Anyway, Harry was not surprised to see Ron and Hermione retire early and that left Harry alone with Malfoy in the common room.

"I should go as well. Time for all good Slytherins to be tucked up in bed."

"Good Slytherins? Isn't that an oxymoron?"

"No, no, it's Gryffindors that are the morons."

Harry groaned at the poor joke.

"Anyway," Malfoy shifted slightly. "Before I go." He paused, looking slightly uncomfortable, which Harry wasn't used to at all; the Malfoy arrogance usually swept all before it. "Here. Merry Christmas, Potter."

He reached into his robes and produced an oblong package, wrapped in the same blue and silver paper that Damian had unwrapped his Quidditch robes from.

Harry's mouth dropped open in amazement, and he stared at Malfoy in shock.

Malfoy held it out for a few beats, then coloured slightly, "Well, if you don't want it..."

"No! No, I do, I'm just..." Harry searched for the right word. "Surprised." It still wasn't actually *quite* the right word, but close.

He reached out eagerly and took the present, reading the tag attached.

*Harry

This is how.

Draco*

He said nothing about the change in names, instead wondering what the message meant.

He ripped over the paper to find an extremely fine looking and exquisitely packaged Golden Eagle quill. It looked just like the one Draco used.

He flashed back suddenly to a day in potions some time ago, when he'd sworn in exasperation as his books, parchment and, not least of all, himself were covered in rogue ink from his quill.

He'd glared at Malfoy's, no *Draco's*, clean white hands and exploded.

"How do you *do* that?"

Draco raised an eyebrow in query.

"How come you *never* have ink stains?"

Draco had laughed at Harry's annoyance, "Just naturally gifted, Potter. I can write without making a mess. I can eat without a bib, too."

Harry had glared at him and deliberately splashed some ink onto Draco's parchment. Some newt's eyes had then ended up on his. Draco's work was about to be augmented by some frogspawn when Snape had walked by, which had probably been for the best. If the Hippogriff blood had come out to play, it could have gotten nasty.

Harry smiled now as he looked up at Malfoy, who still looked faintly embarrassed.

"That's how come I never spill any ink," he shrugged. "I use the best quill there is."

Harry was aware he was grinning like a loon.

"Thanks Draco," he said.

Draco flushed slightly again.

"You're welcome. At least you won't be spilling any more ink on my potions books."

Harry was very glad indeed the others had gone up early, because he'd bet his Firebolt Draco would never have given this to him in front of them.

Harry knew this because he had decided the same, and had resolved to nip out after Draco on his way back to the Slytherin dungeons. That wouldn't be necessary now.

"Here. Merry Christmas Draco." He reached into his pocket and brought out the small gift he'd been carrying around uncertainly all day.

Draco's eyes widened, and he suddenly looked rather shy. That didn't last long, however. He grinned at Harry as he took it.

"What is it, Bubotuber pus?" he asked, suspiciously, but even as he spoke he was opening it eagerly.

He drew out a Wizi-Disc, a small round disc, which, when activated, played music directly into the ear of the wizard, without the need for any CD player or headphones.

Draco activated it and his eyes widened and Harry knew, although he couldn't hear it himself, that Draco was listening to Elgar's Cello Concerto. Harry had owl-ordered the gift from a shop in Diagon Alley that was able to obtain Muggle music and transfer it to Wizi-Disc, as it was too specialist for Hogsmeade.

Draco switched it off.

"Thanks." He said quietly, not actually meeting Harry's eyes.

"You're welcome," Harry replied, feeling suddenly uncomfortable, and wondering why he hadn't just gone for chocolate frogs or Quidditch contraband.

"I should go," Draco said again.

"OK."

Draco stood up and walked to the portrait hole. Harry's feet, for no reason he could understand, followed, bizarrely walking Draco to the door.

"See you tomorrow. Harry."

"Goodnight, Draco."

Harry looked at the portrait door a long time before going up to bed.

Ron was in bed when he went up.

"Hey Ron," Harry said with a small grin, "Did you have a good Christmas?"

Ron blushed. "The best," he said.

"Me too," Harry replied. "Goodnight, Ron."

"Goodnight Harry. Merry Christmas."

Sleep came easy for Harry that night. And he had sweet dreams.

***