The Face in a Picture
AN: This is a sequel to 'Turn of Events' which took place during winter. But, it being spring time currently, I figured that it was about time I continue my infamous (or famous?) one-shots. ^_^;; I hope you enjoy, and like where this fic goes. Please, let me know what you think, ne? I'd also like to thank my beautiful, talented, gorgeous, ingenious beta, Malady Verdi Molto. Without her "encouragement" (nagging), and her impeccable English skills, I'd never have gotten this done.
Summary: When Harry stumbles upon a key to Draco's pass, he had no idea how far the rabbit whole would lead…
Come with me,
See what was unimaginable
The river deeper than could be
The water intangible
I see you through the leaves
But the sun shines through
And I cannot tell what to believe
Perhaps it is better if it was not true
The House Elves had been instructed to clean. It was time for spring-cleaning, and Mr. Malfoy had insisted that not a speck of dust be allowed. His word was that of the gods' in the residence, so the house elves scrubbed away, even in the furthest, most unused rooms.
Through this process, the House Elves came across a variety of objects that were once thought long lost to their owners; their existence now forgotten. Bottles, old toys, socks, and the like were found in the midst of the shadows.
But, in one such room, there was something different: something not forgotten, but only presumed lost. In the darkest corner behind a deep jade curtain in the eastern most room of the house was a chest. An old, faded, worn chest; once held precious and dear to those who knew it.
A House Elf who had come across the chest, after taking some time to open the latch (which would not budge for a good thirty minutes), finally succeeded in opening the trunk and inspecting its contents. For anyone but the owners, the contents inside would seem unimportant and even worthless.
However, the House Elf knew better and carefully separated the objects into two piles: one that was to be kept, and one to be thrown away.
Taking the smaller of the two piles, the innocent House Elf, Thibbly, shuffled down the hall, ready to present these salvages to the mistress of the house (who was now preparing for a party, come this evening). Lightly tapping on the door, he heard the sharp voice of Narcissa Malfoy. She did not like to be disturbed when she was "busy".
The door creaked open and, continuing his way across the great black marble expanse, the elf began nervously, "Please, Ma'am, I came across these while cleaning."
"And?" the fair-haired woman questioned, turning a disapproving eye down towards the ratty figure at the door.
"And, Thibbly was wondering if Thibbly should throw them away, seeing as they were kept in the chest in the eastern end of the house." He blinked up at the woman, clad in a deep velvet dress, her pale skin highlighting her pastel hair. Thibbly added as an afterthought, although reminding himself more than his mistress, "Master Draco's old bedroom."
Slowly taking the bundle of objects once held precious, she scanned through the pieces of paper, small trinkets, a piece of Draco's silver colored hair, and other objects. Her eyes were emotionless, hard and brutal. Finally, thrusting them coldly back toward Thibbly, she replied, "Send them to Draco and he may do what he will. I don't want them."
Nodding rather sadly, Thibbly shuffled out of the room, mumbling, "Yes, Ma'am."
It was not as though he felt bad, but, rather, he pitied his Master Draco. As a child, Draco had been pampered and loved but, as soon as the boy had started Hogwarts some five years ago, his parent's countenance had turned as bitter and icy as a night in deep winter.
Finding a box and cushioning the items with some straw, he scribbled out a quick note and tied it with a piece of twine. The contents should arrive at the Slytherin table in the Great Hall by tomorrow, mid-day.
Watching the brown falcon as it flew off into the growing light of day, Thibbly sighed. What would become of that boy?
But, it was not his concern, he insisted, taking an old, nearly rotten washcloth, and setting off to polish the bathroom sinks.
The brown falcon flew down gracefully onto the table and, not having brought out his falconry gloves that day; Draco allowed it to land onto a bare spot in the center of the expanse.
"Odd," Draco Malfoy murmured absently as he untied the package from the brown bird's leg and placed it in his lap. Studying the bird for a moment, he found that it was one of his father's by the sleek black leather band about its leg. Nonchalantly, he shrugged any questions in his heart and gave the falcon a piece of fatty bacon that he refused to touch. A moment later the bird was in the air and it climbed to great heights. Absently, Draco watched the bird as it languidly soared off into the cool air of an April day and out of the Great Hall.
Goyle, who had paused just long enough to gulp down a cup of apple cider, questioned, "What's that, Draco? Your mum already sent the sweets."
Eyeing the package with a look of curiosity, he chose not to answer. He wasn't quite sure. His mother had already sent him his daily amount of sweets this morning, nor was it Friday when he normally expected an "important" letter from his father. It was lunchtime on Thursday. He never received anything during the middle of the day. In all his years at Hogwarts, this occurrence had never happened.
Repressing a sigh, Draco flashed a cold glare at Goyle who promptly returned to his plate of food, having smartly decided not to pester his fellow Slytherin again.
Perhaps, Draco pondered, a slight scowl tugging on his thin pink lips, It is a letter from some distant relative who is staying at the Manor, asking me to come for a visit. Not like I would, of course.
But no, this could not be it. Whatever it contained was in a bloody parcel, not an envelope. He tapped his cheek in annoyance but curiosity getting the better of him, he began to carefully untie the piece of twine that had been, he noted, inexpertly tied around the box.
After discarding the wrappings in a small pile on the ground, he opened the cardboard box and found a flush crawling painfully slow across his high cheekbones. It was a picture. Actually, more than one. He recognized them almost immediately.
Grasping the contents and slamming them down into the nearest folder he could find (which happened to be Potions) looked up hurriedly at Crabbe and Goyle who were watching them, their mouths hanging open, food falling out.
"What are you looking at?" he snarled bitterly, realizing that he was actually sweating, he was so nervous.
The two did not reply, but turned their heads down so as to study the crumbs that remained on the golden edges of their plate before quickly remedying the emptiness of them and grabbing more to eat.
Why was I sent these?! His mind screamed as he gulped down the rest of his orange juice and quickly made his way out of the Great Hall on light and hurried steps. He had to burn them. All of them. These were dangerous bits of evidence that could be used as blackmail. Draco Malfoy was mean, cruel and arrogant—he was not happy, he was not cute, he was not innocent. These pictures could destroy six years of hard work—in one single moment he could be disgraced, and what would his father say if this was to surface? Draco shuddered inwardly at the thought. No. I will not allow this to happen.
The fair-haired Slytherin was so involved in his thoughts that he not even bother to look as he walked hurriedly down the supposedly deserted halls. He had to go burn them, destroy them, so that there could be no record—then, and only then, would he allow any of this to sink in. But until that moment….
Feeling his shoulder collide with something soft and yet hard at the same time, Draco continued to put one foot after another, muttering exasperatedly, "Watch where you are going," The person was probably some under-classman who had enough common sense not to challenge him.
He was, after all, Draco Malfoy.
"What the hell does that mean?"
Damn it. Of all people, Draco thought darkly as he came to a sudden halt, it had to be Potter.
Devastatingly slow, Draco turned to face the Gryffindor, his hands absently fiddling with the Potions folder. He would be the last to admit he was nervous. Through the years, Draco had come to recognize the green-eyed boy's voice down to perfection. Dimly, in the back of his memory, he could still make out Potter's tone before it had hit puberty. Then slowly, very slowly, throughout the years, it had deepened into a deep, fluid sort of voice. He did not know why he was so interested in his rival; perhaps it was out of sheer boredom, or, the proverb, 'know thy enemy'.
Potter's eyes were ablaze with anger and indignation, as they often were when the two met face-to-face in the hall. Draco really couldn't blame him, but it was so much fun rustling that boy's feathers. It was so amusing to watch the Seeker have to control his temper; did the boy have no stamina whatsoever?
"Potter, I don't have time for you, or your pitiful cries for attention," Draco announced resentfully before turning decidedly on the heal of his polished black shoes, not waiting for the Gryffindor's reply. He didn't have time, lunch would be over in a matter of minutes and he still had to make it down to the Slytherin dungeons and burn the pictures before that happened.
"Malfoy!" he heard Potter call after him, anger and indignation rising in his voice. Really, having an argument with the golden boy would prove amusing, but at this point in time he really could not spare a moment. It had been so long since the two had 'quarreled', and somehow, Draco missed teasing and taunting the golden boy.
But he could not reply, he had to go, he had to. If he waited around here, however tempting it proved to be, he had a feeling that somehow, somehow, these pictures now stuffed away deep into his potions folder would prove dangerous.
Somehow, they would taint his image, his name. Somehow.
He was a Malfoy, and he knew the power that even the smallest, most innocent creature could have.
"Malfoy!" he heard Potter call after him, anger and indignation rising in his voice. Really, having an argument with the golden boy would prove amusing, but at this point in time he really could not spare a moment. It had been so long since the two had 'quarreled' and, somehow, Draco missed teasing and taunting the golden boy.
He heard Potter's voice through the hall once more, and shaking his head in frustration, Draco quickened his step. He could not spare any time for Potter, no matter how much the prat was asking for a fight.
Harry watched pensively as the Slytherin tramped down the hall, his black cloak wafting behind him in the light spring breeze. Sighing, he looked down at the piece of paper that had escaped Malfoy's folder. Of course the idiot wasn't about to walk back and retrieve it. No doubt, the dolt thought he was going to punch his lights out or something.
If only I could be so lucky, Harry grumbled to himself, his green eyes absently falling to the wildflowers that were blooming in the courtyard under the specked light of a fresh spring day.
It was lunchtime on Thursday, and Harry had just returned from the common room, having left his Potions essay on the table. He had, upon placing it safely in his satchel, walked down the many flights of stairs to arrive at the Great Hall in hopes to catch the last few minutes of lunch.
And then, as fate had that strange way of working against him, he had run into Draco Malfoy, the last person he had wished to run into. It wasn't as though he was mentally up to the challenge of saying something witty (something in the last few years he had particularly improved on) but somehow, since Christmas break, things had been…odd. Harry didn't really know how quite to explain the transformation of their relationship. It wasn't as though they got along, in fact, as far as Harry knew, they were still rivals, and possibly more so. If Malfoy turned out to be a Death Eater than his hatred of the slick-haired would be complete.
As it was, he was in a state of limbo….
Adjusting his glasses, he turned his attention to the piece of paper that had fluttered out of the binder that Slytherin was carrying. The surface that now faced him was white, but turning it slowly over, he detected a splash of color. Unconsciously, he gasped. He was holding a picture, a picture of Malfoy's.
Not knowing whether or not he should look at it, he grinned. This was all too perfect.
Curiosity got the better of him, and slowly turning it over; he had barely enough time to recognize a sunny windy scene before a voice behind him interrupted his reverie.
It was Hermione.
Quickly slipping it into a pocket on the interior of his cloak, he adjusted his glasses again and turned to face her. Her bushy hair peeked out from out of the great marble archway that led to the Great Hall. A grin appeared on her face, and she questioned, "What are you doing Harry?"
Feeling nervous for a reason that he couldn't really comprehend, Harry coughed and explained, "Oh, I forgot my Potions essay up in the common room and I had to go and get it."
Hermione, walking out into the center of the archway, crossed her arms archly and continued, "That still does note explain why you are standing here in the middle of the hall."
The Gryffindor blinked.
Adjusting his tie somewhat, for it had suddenly become very hot, he lied quickly, "I was just looking at-er-the flowers out in the courtyard. They bloomed this morning."
Hermione, flashing a hazel gaze to which he was directing nodded curtly, "So they did." Then, turning back towards the direction she had come from, she glanced over her shoulder, a smile sprouting like the flowers had the night before, "Really, Harry, you don't have to be so nervous. I'm sure other guys notice the flowers as well."
Not sure whether to grin or grimace, Harry quickly fell into to step behind Hermione, hoping he could manage to get a bacon sandwich and a glass of cider before his next class started.
Consciously, he felt the weight of the thick and heavy paper that the picture had been printed on, and controlling his curiosity he decided it would be better to look at until later. After all, he was unsure what he would find when he entered this unknown portion of the dragon's life.
Hoping it was not a picture of Voldemort, or someone getting murdered, Harry seated himself next to Ron, who promptly questioned, "What are you grinning about, Harry?"
Reaching for a bacon sandwich, Harry shrugged and replied at ease, "Oh, nothing, I just found something I hadn't expected."
Throwing his book bag down across a green leather hassock, Draco riffled through it until he found the pictures in question. There were perhaps three or four of them, and a piece of dirtied paper. In very poor penmanship it was explained, however grammatically incorrect, that the pictures had been found while doing "spring-cleaning."
Hardly repressing a grunt of indignation, Draco briefly glanced through them, though subconsciously wondering why his parents hadn't kept the photos. Of course, it wasn't as though they looked through their old and dust covered photo-album anymore, but they at least could have tossed them in there so he would not get stuck with the burden of disposing of them
The first one was of him, perhaps around three years of age. Dimly, he could recall this period of time in his life. He didn't want to say he was innocent, but he could see that he had yet to mature by the tone in his eyes. He looked carefree—no, that wasn't it. He had allowed himself to be carefree among the blowing wisps of bright red poppies on a windy day. Large clouds swooped by overhead, and Draco could almost hear the wind rushing through his ears. He had learned to fly his first broomstick there…and that was what the picture was of. Him swooping in the air, falling off sometimes…that deserted meadows had fond memories even he would admit to.
His expression hardened. That was long ago, dead, in his eyes.
He set the picture down and went on to the next one. The only way these pictures could live on was in his memory, for soon, they would be destroyed, never to resurface again.
Picking up the next picture, he found that he must have been five or so, for he had grown somewhat, and although still carefree, he was not as wild as he had once been. His hair had been slicked back in his 'usual style' by that period of time in his life, and he watched amusedly as his form picked his way among a sea of white. He was facing up, towards the heavens, his tongue extended: he was trying to catch snow-flakes in the fading light of day.
To say he remembered this day would have been a lie.
His eyes flashed to the door where he heard a sigh emit from its hinges, and grasping the papers in anxiety, he waited, like a cat in the night. He waited for what would come from behind the door.
Nothing came, but he waited still. Until he could be sure.
Five minutes past, and finally, hanging his head in relief, he idly fingered the two pictures he had looked at while studying the third, and final. It was of him practicing his first magic spell on a rose in their extensive gardens. He was trying to successfully turn it into a snake, as he dimly recalled. It took him hours and hours and hours to get that spell down, but he never gave up.
He was a Malfoy, giving up was unheard of.
Stifling a sigh, he picked up the pictures and tossed them into the crackling flames of the common room, and watched as their edges were outlined in a ray of red, and slowly, ever slowly, they turned brown and crinkled and, finally, into ashes.
But something remained unsteady in his heart, something that he could not quite quiet. Gathering his folder and placing it in his bag, he inaudibly made his way back up the steps, and out into the world of the present. Away from memories that meant nothing, away from the emotionless past.
Curiosity had gotten the better of him, Harry knew this. It wasn't as though he intentionally wanted to do anything to harm Malfoy, at least, not yet. But he just had to know what the picture was of. Perhaps it could be of use to Dumbledore if it was a jovial gathering of the Death Eater bastards grinning smugly.
Harry, still in the Great Hall, stifled a sigh. He couldn't very well take the picture out and look at it now. Hermione might be able to stay 'calm' and 'collected' and most of all, 'quiet', but, knowing Ron, he could yell and gasp and scream and laugh.
Harry smirked. He could just imagine Ron shouting at the top of his lungs, "Good lord, it's a whole crap of Death Eaters!"
No, he didn't want to risk the exposure of his picture.
Wait, since when did it become mine?
Harry, biting into a bacon sandwich, furrowed his eyebrows together. Well, obviously Malfoy hadn't cared enough to realize it was missing—and surely the snake was smarter than that and could put two and two together.
So strong was his curiosity that Harry had a dim feeling that there was some magic intertwined about the edges of the photograph. It was the only thing that now lay on his mind. What was it of? Who was it of? Where was it taken?
He had to know.
"Uh, Hermione, I'm such an idiot, I forgot my quill up in the room again, I'll have to go and get it."
Hermione, who looked up from her watercress soup, blinked and replied primly, "You can just borrow one of mine."
Ron, who had dug into his worn satchel smirked and added, "Or one of mine!" He then thrust a large color-changing quill in front of Harry's face, "I just got them in the post today from Fred and George, they said they were all the rage in—,"
Harry, smiled softly, and interrupted gently, "I don't want to destroy it Ron, and you know I go through two quills a week."
Ron's expression turned cloudy, and he nodded in agreement, "Yes, I suppose you're right. Awful sorry, Harry." And with that, the red-headed boy carefully placed it back in his color-changing quill-case and back into his bag.
Hermione, who had stopped eating her soup, looked up and continued persistently, "That still doesn't explain why you need to go get a quill. I'll let you borrow one of mine, you know I have plenty."
Harry smiled nervously. Of course Hermione had to be sensible; it was not in her nature not to be.
"Well, that's nice, but I think I'll still go get it. I don't want Peeves or Crookshanks getting to it." Harry found himself replying automatically; rather pleased with himself at the clever excuse he had managed to come up with.
Ron, who was chewing on a piece of celery, piped up, "Yeah, now that he has gotten all the spiders and mice, that cat goes for anything shiny or that he can bat around easily."
Hermione huffed indignantly, but remained quiet. A moment later, Harry made his way back towards his common room. It didn't really matter where he went, just as long as he could look at this picture without being caught or interrupted by anyone.
He felt like he was carrying something that could explode at any second and he had to handle it with care.
By the time he arrived at the common room he wanted to throw himself on the bed in exhaustion and forget about this photograph. It didn't help that he hadn't been getting much sleep as of late. The dreams had returned and often times it would take him an hour to calm himself down and return to sleep.
His next class was Potions, however, and if he missed that class, he would be sure to hear about it from Hermione and Ron, but most importantly, Snape. No doubt he would get detention or some such thing and have to spend more time with his "favorite" teacher.
Deciding not to risk it, he sat down in a spindly uncomfortable chair and riffled through his jacket until he found the picture, which was now, slightly bent. Smoothing the edges, Harry licked his lips and slowly turned over the picture…
What he saw was not what he had expected. Truth be told it was the last thing he had thought it would be in the world. He didn't know why he hadn't thought of it, and now, looking down at the picture, somehow it made sense.
But a picture of Malfoy when he was a child seemed somehow, strange, and absolutely surreal.
The only image he had ever had of Malfoy had started back when he was eleven years old and that first train ride into Hogwarts. He didn't like to think of what went on in the Malfoy house; in fact, he often times tried to avoid the subject all together.
Yet what he held in his hands, the picture of this happy boy, smiling and waving up into the camera…it had not been what he had expected. At all.
The picture itself was of a warm summer day, somewhere. Obviously a place Harry wasn't familiar with. If he had known what and where the Malfoy manner was situated, then perhaps he would have been able to make a better assumption. No doubt, it was some barren fallow near his house, overgrown with the tall grass that was so characteristic of midsummer.
There were fields abloom with white and red flowers, and studying the picture in curiosity and interest, Harry watched as a small light-haired boy ran towards the camera, his arms full of flowers. There was a smile on Malfoy's face, one he hadn't ever seen before.
It was an innocent Malfoy that shone through this picture. It was one full of joy, something that Harry had never seen.
He did not know what to say. He couldn't say anything.
Astonished, he watched as the young Malfoy frolicked and ran and jumped and hopped and giggled and laughed, so carefree…
Ten minutes had gone by and he was not even aware. He was transfixed to the spot, and even slightly shaking. Somehow, this picture was demolishing a well constructed structure he had allowed himself to build for the past six years.
He was scrambling to keep it from collapsing.
The Gryffindor was actually thankful that Ron came and interrupted his own private reverie that needed to be interrupted. He didn't want to think, he didn't wonder ponder, he didn't want to be in doubt.
So much was confusing at it was…and now this?
"Harry, are you up here?" came the voice of Harry's best friend who had just entered the common room from the portrait of the fat lady.
Coughing slightly, and hurriedly tucking the picture of Draco in his pocket, Harry called out, "I'm up here, Ron!"
Hearing footsteps approached, Harry lunged for the quill and quickly grabbed hold of it. He had nearly forgotten his lie. He was getting careless, he noted dimly. He was used to lying, in fact, sometimes it came natural to him nowadays: he was fine, he was okay, and everything was good.
"What are you doing up here for so long? Did you find your quill?" Ron questioned, deciding to grab his sweater that lay neatly folded atop his bed.
Holding up the feathered pen, Harry nodded and shrugged, "I just started reading Quidditch Through the Ages again, is all."
Ron found this reasonable, but suddenly perked up, "Well, we better get going, we've got Snape next, and I don't feel like getting detention."
Nodding, and following in step behind Ron, Harry cringed inwardly. Snape meant Potions, and Potions meant Draco.
The past hour had just been hell, Draco admitted, slumping down into his seat about five minutes before Potions was due to start. First he had run into Potter in the bloody hall, next he had been worried someone would come in and see the pictures while he was burning them, and finally, he had a nagging suspicion there had been more contents to the package from what he had seen while disposing of them.
Glad the room was empty, Draco momentarily allowed his cool façade to fall and he buried his head in his arms and closed eyes. He wanted to go to sleep, damn it. And, if it had not been any other class besides Potions he would have cut the thing and gone to the dungeons to do so.
It was hard enough to sleep well, what with Crabbe and Goyle snoring all night long…
Pulling himself out of his state of quasi-slumber, Draco looked up right when Snape came swooping into the cold room. Although it was spring, the dungeons still proved quite cold, as they did year-round.
Nodding curtly to the sixth year, the black-clad professor greeted brusquely, "Draco."
Draco, replying just as briskly, commented, "Professor."
The professor moved behind his desk and began extracting bottles and jars from a cabinet beneath. Glancing up one of the times, a deep scowl formed on his face, and he noted blatantly, "You look like hell."
Draco, his lips twitching up in a smirk replied sarcastically, "Thank you."
Continuing his tinkering, and pouring generous amounts of a thick black liquid into a pot, his dark eyes returned to the sixth year and taunting the Slytherin he inquired nonchalantly, "Have another late night?"
Not sure what to say, Draco just watched his professor. It was true, he had received a lovely night of lack of slumber due to the amazing wonders of Crabbe and Goyle's snoring, but of course, there were other reasons for not getting an ample amount of sleep.
Draco, against his will, grinned devilishly to himself. The pictures were all but forgotten, and the momentary fears he once held were tossed to the wayside.
A moment later the first stream of students began to trickle into the classroom, one after another, a steady blur before Draco's eyes. Yet, through the bodies, moving like fish against the current, the dark hair and green eyes subconsciously caught his eyes, and almost automatically his thoughts back to that cold winter night, that unforgettable Christmas Eve.
"Potter!" Snape snarled, glancing up from his Potion, a foul grimace across his face, "Switch seats with Malfoy! I want to see how you fair without Ms. Granger helping you!"
Harry looked up and flushed. Great, just great, he thought darkly to himself as he watched Malfoy smoothly exit his seat and move to Harry's own. There eyes did not meet, which Harry idly thought was strange. Somehow, they always managed to exchange scathing glances between one another, especially during Potions; Harry's worst subject.
But, Harry thought smugly to himself as he settled himself down into the foreign stool, today, he had something to actually gloat over Malfoy.
Arranging his features into carefully placed haughtiness and indignation, Draco sneered as he the boy took his seat a row before him. It wasn't until he found that Potter had turned around to glance at him that he realized he had been staring. A light wash of pink came to his cheeks, but he could hardly call it blush.
Malfoy's did not blush.
"What are you looking at scar-head?"
The Gryffindor's expression hardened and his eyes became slate colored. But the emotion soon passed, and a sly grin came to his lips, but it quickly fell away as Snape snapped from behind him, "Potter!"
The boy shuffled his gaze diligently towards the front of the classroom, but not before casting one last victorious grin, an expression that Draco had never, in his six years at Hogwarts, ever seen before.
The grey eyes widened, and his lips parted. What had happened? What was this transformation? Never had he seen Potter so smooth never had he seen Potter so confident…it was unnerving, like this premature blossoming of spring.
Forcing his gaze away from the back of Potter's neck, Draco reached into bag and withdrew his Potions folder, not yet, and not ever making the connection of the shadows that now lay in the darkness.
Shadows, that for the first time in his life, he could not, and would not, see.
Potions progressed as smoothly as could be imagined, considering Snape was one of his fouler moods. Harry and Pansy worked quietly and irritably together, only managing to break one vile and nearly over-boiled one potion. Snape, needless to say, yelled at the absent-minded Gryffindor, but to everyone's surprise (including Draco's) came off without detention.
Draco, who was adding a sprinkle of rat hair to the deep brown colored potion, glanced up. It was as though someone was watching him from somewhere. He had experienced the same sensation a few times before during the period, but at first he had shrugged it off for his imagination.
After all, he was a Malfoy; such small things should not bother him.
What did it matter if he had a fan club and they chose to ogle him at every opportunity? He certainly had no problems with it, usually.
Yet at this moment in time it was hardly flattering, more annoying than anything, but he had learned how to deal with such trivialities throughout his many years. He was a Malfoy, ignoring the lesser came natural to him.
In that sense, he could say he was experienced.
Yet it still did prove bothersome, and for the time being, he could not put the matter to rest. He and Finnigan (his lab partner) where ahead of the class, their potion having turned a violent purple color; so he could spare a few moments in which to find the origin of who was staring at him.
Sliding smoothly off of the chair and grumbling bitterly to the Gryffindor who was now doodling on a spare piece of parchment, he stalked away, deciding to go wash a dirty flask. He needed to get away from the potion as it was; the contents were giving off a smell of freshly cut grass, a smell that he personally detested.
At the sink, he grumbled and sighed to himself as he saw that Potter was already there, glancing over his shoulder at him.
"What do you want, golden boy?" Draco drawled tiresomely, leaning against the counter and waiting his turn. He didn't feel like starting anything right now. He wasn't in a mood to be distracted by the golden boy's presence, even if the scent of cinnamon and cloves was overpowering his nostrils at the moment.
Decidedly ignoring the Gryffindor, Draco did admit that he was somewhat shocked when the Gryffindor did not respond. Usually the boy was as rash as an Irish mistaken for a Scott. Casting a sidelong glance towards his rival, he hurriedly glanced down and looked at his shoes. Their eyes had met. The Gryffindor had been staring at him, an expression Draco could not quite discern evident in his features.
What was going on with the prat? First the boy had practically ignited a staring contest with him at the start of the class, and now, was he audacious enough to continue it.
"What the hell do you think you are looking at, Potter?" Draco remarked bitterly, finally finding his voice, but too late for it to make much of an impact. He didn't know what was happening. This day had gone completely to pot. First those damn pictures, which had thrown everything out of canter, and now bloody Potter was beginning to actually learn how to control his temper.
What had it taken him, only five years or so?
"I don't know."
Draco blinked, and shot up a dangerous glance at Potter. What the fuck was happening!? What the hell did he mean, 'he didn't know'?!
Realizing that he was bristling like a porcupine, Draco quickly smoothed out any emotions he had let show. Malfoy's did not show emotions. It was just not done.
"What the devil are you talking about?" the blonde haired boy questioned, turning unconsciously towards his rival. It wasn't as though he was interested. Nothing the Gryffindor said was interesting—if anything was his actions were what defined him as a person. This was the way things should have been anyways. If you listened to what a person said and watched what they did, this often times could be two completely different things.
Draco had learned this throughout his life. His father gave all sorts of promises, but in the end, were they fulfilled? No, in the end, they were thrown by the wayside for grander objects on which to prey upon.
"I don't know what I am looking at anymore," Harry found himself replying, a chuckle upon his face. But despite the smile on his lips, his eyes were serious. Those were Quidditch eyes, the eyes he only reserved for that moment in time. It was as though the green-eyed boy could see right through him.
And for perhaps the first time in his life, Draco was didn't know what to say. What…the hell did that mean?
Harry turned away to dry the flash and sighed. How exactly could he say, 'I found a picture of you when you were a child. You were so innocent. What the hell happened?' No, that was about as likely as Hermione deciding she didn't care about her marks anymore.
But how was he supposed to get rid of his picture?
He hadn't a clue. The only thing he could do was still manage to be amazed by the fact that he had it—the fact that he had a small window into the past of his rival.
This was amazing beyond belief. He could do so much with this picture; he wasn't a fool not to realize this. He could finally get revenge for all the stupid things the boy had done to him throughout the years. He could enact revenge, panic, and amusement all in one fell swoop.
But Harry was not as low as that. No, Harry knew there was only one course of action he could take. Some way, somehow, the picture had to be returned.
No matter how much he wanted to keep it. But he would be the last one to admit that. The picture was too dangerous; what if a Gryffindor discovered it and made the correlation? No, it could not be risked.
"You are such a ponce, Potter. Do you actually think I care what you say? It amazes me that you actually manage to form complete sentences, let alone pass this class for the past five years. But, we all know the reasons for that, don't we Potter?" Draco smirked to himself. Whatever was bothering the Golden Boy, it would soon pass. He was a master of taunting the dolt throughout the years. Somehow, it had become a personal pastime that only he found amusing.
Continuing on, Draco tested his skills, "Yes, yes, it's because Harry Potter is the boy who will save us all! Yes, lord be praised he is our savior who couldn't even save his own parents! Couldn't even do that, and now you have your Mudblood friend doing all your work, and the Weasel's have become your family? How much lower could you sink? You are almost on the level of the House-elves now. At least they can actually use magic, unlike some people.'
Harry, who had only started listening a few seconds ago, felt all rational and pity and worry and fear drain from his body. So what if he had a bloody picture of Malfoy when he was innocent? He certainly wasn't now, and that was all that mattered.
Turning to face his rival, he frowned, his eyes having been rekindled with the anger the Slytherin had become accustomed to throughout the years.
Now that is more like it, Draco thought to himself, crossing his arms in amusement.
"Oh? You're actually paying attention and listening? Astonishing!" Draco chuckled amusedly to himself, feeling a prick of a tear against his eyes. Yes, this was more like it indeed. What better way to dispense any fears and worries in his heart than to ridicule that lion.
"Malfoy...!" Harry spat bitterly. And even before he knew his hand was aloft, there was a sharp and sudden that echoed throughout the humming classroom. The world stopped, and Harry's green eyes widened in shock and met Malfoy's for a second. What he saw in those eyes was not pride, was not hatred, but blatant astonishment.
And then, he had realized it…all too late, but just in time.
Harry's hand immediately fell to his side, and he saw Draco reach for his red cheek in pain. There was a deep and angry scowl, and for a split second Harry could have sworn he saw moisture emit from Malfoy's eyes.
Then again, it could have been a trick of the light.
Harry had hardly even realized he had slapped the boy when he heard the angry shout of Snape commanding, "Potter! Detention! Now!"
And that was the end of that.
Harry closed his eyes and sighed. Having detention during the middle of the day was a new one for him. Most of the time he had spent these wonderful occurrences down in the dungeons after dinner, shivering in the cold; or sometimes, it was in Professor McGonagall's classroom. As it was at the moment, he was seated in Snape's office, awaiting the professor to come and revoke points from his house.
No big deal, he would win them back in McGonagall's class, or maybe Sprout's. The Gryffindor wasn't particularly worried; he had gotten into much worse situations before, and somehow, had managed to get himself out of them.
His eyes flashed open as he heard footsteps echoing down the hall. There were two sets. No doubt, Harry surmised Malfoy's and Snape's. Well, this was going to prove interesting.
Taking his feet off of Snape's desk, Harry arranged his posture and an innocent look upon his face. If he could just not react, and say nothing, and be submissive, then all would go fine. He had learned this worked wonders throughout the years, especially when it came to Snape.
The footsteps halted outside the door and Harry could hear a soft conversation in the hall. The two were trying to be discreet, but Harry's hearing was exceptionally good, and consequently he heard every word. It was often like this. Even if he didn't want to know what was going on, somehow, in the end, he always found out.
"Why don't you go to your room to rest, Mr. Malfoy?"
"I think I am fine. It won't even bruise."
"…It would be wise if you went to your common room. I will excuse you from all your other classes."
There was a lengthy pause, but finally, almost in a defeated voice, Malfoy replied, "Yes, professor."
The footsteps began again, once more down the hall, moving away from him now. Malfoy must have taken Snape's advice and gone to 'lie down'. Good lord, he hadn't slapped him that hard, had he?
The door opened with a creak and the tall dark figure of Snape stalked in. He shut the door with a quiet click and slowly moved his way across the room in a flutter of black, to where he sat down, very slowly and precisely in his black leather desk chair.
Harry just watched him, expressionless.
"So, Mr. Potter, yet again we find ourselves here," Snape began, taking out a teacup and filling it with steaming hot water from the end of his wand. A moment later, he found be a teabag and dumped it in there as well. Perhaps he was waiting for Harry's reply, but that would be a while indeed, for Harry had no intention of talking, besides saying 'yes' or 'no'.
Snape, scowling towards Harry, emitted a sigh that sounded like the hiss of a snake and continued, "There is to be no discussions about your punishment, and there will be none of your traipsing off to Dumbledore so he may undermine my authority."
Harry looked up at the Professor.
"Somehow, I get the feeling that the seriousness of your actions doesn't register, but then again, not much does." Snape drawled on, standing now, and sipping at his teacup every few minutes or so.
Harry bit back a sigh and wondered when this speech would be over.
"Are you listening Potter?"
"Well, that is a first," Snape snarled softly, eyeing him with a look of disdain.
Harry chose not to reply.
"You will have detention for the next two weeks for two hours a night." Snape finally decided upon, setting down his teacup, and crossing down his arms, as though he was waiting for Harry to pounce up and try to punch his lights as well. "Needless to say one hundred points will be taken from your house."
But, the attack never came, and the only onslaught he received was, "Yes, professor."
The black-clad one seemed dissatisfied, but too tired to argue. "Go. Now."
Harry, gathering his things, slowly slipped out the office, only glancing back over his shoulder once to find Snape getting out a bottle of Fire Whiskey from his top cabinet.
Making his way down the halls, Harry found himself contemplating the picture. He had to give it back to the prat; it was causing him too much trouble, which was the last thing he wanted with finals fast approaching.
It was a few moments before the lunch bell would ring, and so, deciding that now would be the perfect time to sneak down into the dungeon's and return it to the dolt, he redirected his course towards Gryffindor tower. He did, after all, have a few things to pick up; his invisibility cloak being one of them.
The common room was empty during mid day, and the ever alit fire was the only company that the dungeons had to offer. Leaving the dark passageway behind him, Draco went straight to his bed and promptly dropped his grey cloak onto the bed, followed quickly by himself.
His hand was flung over his eyes, and he allowed his body to sag and be pressed deep into the bed, as though plastering himself to it. Finally, he allowed his emotions to show, and found that a splash of pale pink appeared on his cheeks.
Well, that had been bloody wonderful.
What a day this was turning out to be. First the pictures, then Potter, and then the bloke had decided he wanted to slap him.
The thing wouldn't bruise or anything, but still, it glowed hot like a coal in the fire.
"That bastard…," Draco spat, pulling himself up from the bed, and glared unseeingly about the bedchamber.
What had been up with him? The Gryffindor had been acting weird all day, ever since he had run into him in the hall this morning. He gulped, and controlled those memories and others that were threatening to overwhelm him.
Did Potter suddenly remember the events of Christmas Eve? Was that the reason behind his slap? It wasn't as though he had said anything particularly insulting, Potter had handled worse in the past. Yes, the boy had handled much worse than Draco would admit to. It was already known, already said, already whispered in the halls.
Harry Potter was no innocent.
Christmas Eve seemed so long ago now, but it frightened Draco how clear and vibrant those memories were to him now. They outweighed so many other thoughts, and there was always that fear, always that glimmer in his heart which made Draco uneasy. Ever since Christmas Eve, Draco sadly admitted to himself, their relationship had changed.
Or maybe it wasn't even their relationship. They had never had one in the first place. No, it was not Potter that had changed, but he had. It wasn't as though he had wished for it to be so, no, if he could have taken back those actions he would have.
They brought him too many uncertainties now.
He was a Malfoy. He hated uncertainties.
Listening to the dead silence of the chamber, Draco slowly got up from his primly made bed and walked quietly over to the trunk that lay at the foot of his bed. He hunched before it, and looked at the black leather cover, before unlocking the tarnished brass deadlock with his wand.
The trunk opened, and Draco slowly made his way through the contents (old files, papers, a few magical items, and piles and piles of books) until he arrived at the very, very bottom of the trunk and a package wrapped in plain brown paper.
His eyes turned stormy gray and he looked over his shoulder, having sworn he heard the creak of a floor board behind him. His breath caught in his throat, and he did not move for a full minute. A light sweat formed on his brow, but finally, having decided there was no one there and his imagination was getting the best of him, he made his way back to his bed and settled himself against the headboard.
Carefully lifting the crinkled parcel from his lap, Draco's long delicate finger reached in side the depths and withdrew something red and gold. It was a scarf, a scarf that the snake had in his possession since Christmas. Somehow, his intentions had got the better of him, and he had never returned it.
Of course, that had never been his objective.
Why did Potter have to smell so good? He smelled like an autumn night; leaves and cold air, cinnamon and cloves, smoke and evergreen. All was present in this one item that Draco disgustingly denied he held dear. But even he knew this was one of his most treasured items—treasured for reasons he couldn't comprehend himself.
Perhaps it was the fact that the scent (now faint) calmed his troubled nerves. Or perhaps it was that, as they said, it was best to know your enemy.
And know Potter he did.
"Damn you Potter," Draco found himself whispering to himself become inhaling one last time before stuffing it under his pillow.
His expression cross, he took the bag of ice Snape had given him and applied it to his cheek. The silver-haired boy flinched. His cheek was sore indeed.
Perhaps it would bruise after all…
Harry could not even think straight, let alone put a sentence together. Even in his head he was at a loss for words. When he had managed to overhear Crabbe ask Goyle what the new password was at the Slytherin table in the dining room—he had never, and he meant never expected to find what he did now.
He was so flabbergasted; he could hardly stand and had to lean against the wall for support.
Harry had just come to return the picture, and now he found himself in a world, a private world that he should have never entered.
"Damn you Potter," whispered in Harry's ears, like a curse to his own self destruction. Yet it was not what Malfoy said that had such an impact upon him, nay, it was Malfoy's actions.
When he had first arrived in the Slytherin common room it had taken him some time to discover where Malfoy was, let alone if he was even in the dungeon at all. He had been so anxious to return the picture, hoping that Malfoy had disobeyed Snape that he had been careless in his actions and practically fallen atop him in his bedroom.
The boy had been leaning over a handsome leather chest, his form as still as a statue, staring unseeingly right at him. Harry could not have even breathed, he was so nervous.
It was the quietest he had ever been in his life at that moment, as still as death and perhaps more so.
His breath had been officially knocked out him when Harry recognized the red and gold object that Draco withdrew from a brown paper bag. It had been his scarf he had lost during the winter; he could tell for the hand embroidered job he had especially made while at Hogsmeade one weekend.
But he could say nothing, and this was the torture.
Yet, why did Malfoy have the scarf? What use was there for it, if any at all? He knew that Malfoy hated him just as much as he hated Malfoy, so for god's sake, why was the ferret practically molesting the thing atop his bed!?
Closing his eyes to the scene, hoping that it would disappear when he opened his eyes, he found that his wishes had not come true.
Now the boy had stuffed it under his pillow which he was resting upon, so there was no hope in ever getting it in this visit. Harry gulped and watched as Malfoy turned to face towards the window, his grey eyes soft and subdue in a way Harry could never imagine.
Finding himself transfixed to the spot, Harry absently touched the picture that now lay in his breast pocket. This was a Malfoy that Harry had never seen, a Malfoy that was unknown to the world, one that he could never have imagined.
Remaining perfectly calm, Harry decided that he had to wait for the boy to leave for lunch, or fall asleep, either of which could take quite a long period of time. Yet Harry, unlike the snake here, did have to be places or else Ron and Hermione would start to worry.
Not like they would look for him in the bedroom of the Slytherin or anything like that…
Well, Draco thought absently, he certainly didn't feel like going to lunch now…
Truth be told, he could use this situation to his advantage to finally get the sleep which he had been lacking as of late. With the onslaught of spring each year, Crabbe and Goyle's snoring became worse because of all the pollen in the air.
Yes, perhaps he could just take a nap and show up at dinner. It was always nice to make everyone worry about him every once in a while.
Deciding that he didn't want to sleep in his uniform he began to undue the cufflinks on his sleeves.
Harry inwardly gasped. What the hell did the boy think he was doing? Why was he taking off his clothes? Why couldn't he just go and roast some marshmallows, or better yet, go back to class…!
Harry realized he couldn't move, considering he was standing upon a particularly noisy floorboard and Malfoy wasn't stupid enough to fall for that prank again.
Closing his eyes, Harry hoped that the boy would slip into bed, hopefully, wearing undergarments and within a matter of ten minutes he would be asleep. Maybe, then maybe, he could get the hell out of here.
Me, and my great ideas, Harry thought darkly, trying not to watch Malfoy.
That itself was proving difficult…
Draco's long fingers felt for the last button, and on his left arm and rotated his wrist for a moment before pulling off of his shirt and vest in one fell swoop. Absentmindedly, he tossed it towards a chair in the corner where he kept a few possessions.
Turning back towards the bed, and shivering slightly in the cool air of the room, Draco paused and thought, Odd…
He hadn't heard the clothing fall to the ground…
Harry gulped. Things had gone from bad to worse in less than a second. Of course, of course Malfoy had to throw his clothes onto the chair behind him; too bad that the garments were now resting quite contentedly above his head.
He had no time to react whatsoever.
Draco, glancing over his shoulder barely suppressed a gasp when he saw his clothes floating in space. Yet, he was a Malfoy, and he knew that there had to be a logical reason behind this all.
In two great strides he made his way to where they were hovering and in a great sweeping motion pulled them down, only to find something very, very unexpected beneath them.
The eyes met, and both found each other gazing into their contrasting orbs. Time had stopped again that day, and suddenly with a fury it began, dragging the two rivals into the tangible present.
"Potter…," Draco hissed softly.
Harry looked up, and nodded slightly, and replied just as stiffly, "Malfoy…"
Outside a passing cloud darkened the room, but only dimly. The sun still shone through, faintly, faintly, and the wind outside whispered through the trees over the hill.