Title: In Good Company
Author name: Airiviel
Author's fanfiction or fanart homepage URL: or www.airiviel.tk
Keywords: Harry, Draco, Quidditch, slash
Spoilers: All five books.
Summary: Harry dwells in the past and seeks solitude, but instead he finds the company that he's longed for.
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. Other citations shall be made where necessary.
Warning: This fic contains slash.
Hermione was sitting against the trunk of one of the few large trees remaining -- a great many of them had been ripped out of the ground by Grawp. In her lap was a thick arithmancy book, and she held in her hand a half-eaten apple. Ron sat cross-legged, holding his wand out and attempting to turn a long blade of grass into a pocket-knife. So far he had only succeeded in turning it into a piece of aluminum foil that looked, from certain angles, like it was tinted green. Harry was also sitting cross-legged, and in his hands he held a sandwich that he was slowly chewing his way through. The sandwich was rather tasteless, though, and at the moment, eating was a rather mechanical gesture.
He let his mind wander far away, sinking into old memories. His ears shut out the rest of the world, and he no longer heard the pages of Hermione's book turning, nor Ron's expressions of disappointment. In these days, it was often that he would fall into a bleak trance in which all that existed were him and his memories. In his mind, the present seemed to be blanketed by a thick layer of mist. It was something that he only vaguely remembered and couldn't and didn't care to reach. He was living in a non-reality.
It took several moments for Ron to get his attention.
"Harry!" he repeated, for the fifth time.
"Oh!" exclaimed Harry. "Sorry, what?"
Ron gave him an exasperated eye roll. "I was asking you if I could borrow your wand for a minute. I think something might have gone wrong with mine."
"Oh, sure," Harry replied, pulling his wand out of his pocket. He realized that he'd barely eaten a third of his sandwich, and Hermione was peering at him over her book with concerned eyes. He hastily crammed the rest of his sandwich into his mouth, not feeling hungry in the least bit.
The last thing he needed was for Hermione to think that something was wrong. He knew that both she and Ron had been watching him like hawks since Sirius died. While he appreciated the consideration, the constant nagging and concerned looks were beginning to get on his nerves.
He yawned and looked around under the pretense that he was bored. Actually, he had a feeling that he was being watched by someone other than his two best friends. As he casually turned his head, he noticed immediately that across the lake, sitting against a tree, was Malfoy. And more importantly, Malfoy was staring at him. Their eyes met and the blooded pounded loudly in Harry's head. The blonde quickly looked away when Harry caught his gaze, but the action was delayed enough that Harry could confirm that yes, Malfoy had indeed been watching him. Harry felt a twinge somewhere slightly above his midsection.
Suspicious and irritated, Harry stood up and brushed off his robes. "I'm going to take a walk," he said briefly.
Away from his friends, he allowed himself to sink once more into his collection of memories. Quirrel and the mirror, Tom Riddle standing over Ginny, watching Scabbers transform into Wormtail, Cedric Diggory crumpling to the ground right next to him, and Sirius falling behind the black veil... One by one, the scenes flashed through his head, each memory growing sharper and clearer in his mind. There was Ron, telling the giant chess pieces where to move, then there was Hermione, pulling out her time turner, then Dumbledore, dueling with Voldemort.
His scar was throbbing painfully now, and his eyes blurred, causing him to trip over a stone he didn't see. For a few minutes his head spun, and he squeezed his eyes shut, waiting for it to pass.
"Potter," said a familiar voice that pierced Harry like no other sound could.
Harry looked up from where he was sitting on the grass. It was Draco who stood over him. The blonde, with his usual sneer on his face, watched Harry intently for several moments before finally offering his hand.
"What do you want?" Harry said suspiciously. He'd avoided speaking to Malfoy for over half a year, and he highly doubted that the Slytherin had changed at all.
"Would you like to get up, or did you trip over on purpose?"
"I'm perfectly fine where I am," replied Harry, scowling. He really wished that Malfoy would leave. "What are you doing here, anyway?"
"What am I doing here?" Draco drawled, but in a tone that was somehow different than Harry remembered. "I was here first. You're the one who fell down on your nose next to me."
"Well, you could have ignored me," Harry said stupidly. He was angry at Draco for having come to help him, and he was even angrier at himself for not watching where he was walking. It was bad enough that he knew he fancied his enemy and couldn't figure out why, but it was even worse when said enemy was confronting him.
Draco laughed in a rather distant voice. His laugh sounded strange...it wasn't accompanied by mirth, but neither was there any malice in it. Harry realized, with surprise, that it was perhaps the first time he had heard Malfoy laugh without his obnoxious tone. He supposed he liked it.
"Things change, Potter. People change."
"What's that supposed to mean?" said Harry in response, glaring up at Malfoy and resenting his strange behavior. He almost wished the Slytherin would be his normal, hateful self...it was easier to deal with.
"Harry!" It was Ron. "Harry, what are you doing over here?" Completely ignoring Malfoy, he pulled Harry up off the grass. "Let's go," said Ron, nodding across the lake in Hermione's direction. Before Harry knew it, Ron was dragging him back around the lake to the other side.
"Malfoy was acting strange," Harry said when they were halfway around.
"Of course he is," Ron grumbled.
"What do you mean?"
Ron glanced sideways at Harry. "Haven't you heard?" he asked.
"Heard...?" was Harry's vague answer.
"You've been too out of it, Harry. It's all around the school. Malfoy's father disowned him when he betrayed You-Know-Who."
"Betrayed You-Know-Who?" Harry echoed in a bewildered voice.
Ron nodded. "He tried to murder Bellatrix Lestrange. Nobody knows if he succeeded, but he's still a git, all the same."
Completely bewildered by this news, Harry said nothing in reply.
In response to his silence, Ron continued, "He's in Dumbledore's care now, but if you ask me, I think it's better to just throw the slimy bugger out on the streets." And with that he gave the ground a hard kick that sent a few pebbles tumbling into the lake.
Several days later, there was a Quidditch game, Gryffindor against Slytherin. Harry had completely forgotten about it. He was the Seeker once again, but this year, playing Quidditch no longer provided the joy that it used to. Too many burdens were weighted in the back of his mind, and he found, now, that he was unable to let them all go and focus on catching the Snitch.
At the current moment, the score was 40 to 10 in Slytherin's favor. Harry was flying high above the game, circling through the air as he usually did when he searched for the tiny Snitch. His thoughts were beginning to drift away again, and he struggled to focus on the game. The commentary was a dull droning that buzzed in his ears; not a word of it was going into his brain. He stared at the clouds, turning his broom instinctively, and not really noticing that he was going higher and higher into the air.
"Potter," a voice said.
Harry quickly turned his head, knowing whose voice it was without looking, and saw that Malfoy was flying parallel to him, only a few feet away.
"What are you doing?" Harry said in a cautious voice.
"The better question," replied Draco, not apparently miffed by Harry's attitude, "is what are you doing? The game's all the way down there, Potter!"
Harry looked down, surprised that he'd wandered so high up. The beat of his heart sped up. Whether it was from the realization of the height or from something else, he didn't know. He did know, however, that he did not usually have problems with heights. Harry frowned at Draco. "So why aren't you taking advantage of my absence to try and catch the Snitch? What is it that you want, Malfoy?"
"I want to talk to you," he said very simply, a hint of his drawl still present.
"About what, exactly?" Harry threw him an incredulous look. He was afraid to be curious.
Draco rolled his eyes. "Are you that dense, Potter? Is your head really that thick?"
"Just get to your point," Harry said impatiently.
"Would you stop that?" Draco retorted irritably. "The whole we're-enemies-so-we-can't-talk-like-normal-people thing? It's immature."
"I think 'immature' better describes you, Malfoy," Harry said in reply. "You're the one who can't be civil. You care about nothing but yourself!"
A moment of silence. Then--
"I care about you," Draco said. His voice was suddenly much softer than it had been twenty seconds ago, and something in the way he said it stabbed Harry.
"Oh yeah? Since when?" Harry muttered angrily, annoyed that anything Malfoy said could provoke effects other than fury.
"Since--" Draco began, still in that quiet voice. "Well, I don't know since when, but I realized it last year."
Harry almost lost control of his broom for a moment. Was Malfoy being serious, or did he have some kind of despicable plan in mind?
"You--" Harry started saying, but Malfoy had shot off on his broom. Harry squinted and saw that the blonde was closely following the Golden Snitch. He cursed and hurried to catch up. Within a few minutes, he was flying next to Malfoy again, his right arm extended, reaching for the Snitch. The Slytherin was ahead of him by less than a foot. Harry urged his broom forward, gaining on Malfoy inch by inch, and at last, with a final effort he shoved Malfoy over, kicked forward, and the Snitch was in his grasp. A few seconds later and Malfoy would definitely have gotten it. Harry allowed his broom to slow to a stop and he tumbled off onto the grass, adrenaline still rushing through his veins and the blood pumping in his temples.
"And Gryffindor wins!" The crowd cheered at the victory, and although Harry was relieved to have caught the Snitch, he couldn't find the heart to properly appreciate it.
After a hurried and forced lunch in the Great Hall, Harry decided to go and spend some time in the library, where it would be quiet enough for him to think. He chose a spot back behind most of the bookshelves where it was unlikely that he would be found, and sat down on the ground with his back against the wall. He had only just settled down in a comfortable position and pulled out the picture album Hagrid had given him when he heard the sound of footsteps coming in his direction. He groaned inwardly and waited to see whether it was Ron or Hermione. Very likely it was both of them.
The footsteps stopped. "Potter."
Harry looked up. A spark of anger flashed in his eyes. "Now what do you want, Malfoy?"
"Good game," the Slytherin said.
"I'm sure that's what you really think," Harry said sardonically in response.
For a long moment there was nothing but silence.
"I meant what I said up there, you know." His voice had gone soft again.
"Hah. That's a joke if I ever heard one," Harry scoffed bitterly, refusing to be baited by that voice again. "You said all that bullshit to distract me. You saw the Snitch coming."
"What? Do you actually think I'm that terrible?" Draco exclaimed.
Harry glared at him. Draco sighed. It was strange to hear Malfoy sighing, and for the first time, Harry noticed how tired the Slytherin looked. Not fatigued as in lacking sleep, but exhausted much the same way Harry was tired of living this life, this game, this...nightmare.
"Did I use to be that terrible?"
Harry looked down angrily, refusing to hear the phony words. It was all a ploy. Malfoy was a damn good actor.
"Potter, I'm serious, I meant what I said." This time, his voice was pressing.
For the first time in Harry's life, Malfoy really sounded sincere to him.
Still, Harry said nothing. Look away, he told himself, shut him out. Don't listen...shut him out.
"Goddamnit, Potter! Look at me! Look at me!" Draco dropped to his knees in front of Harry.
Harry shut his eyes. Draco took his shoulders and pressed them back, pinning them to the wall. "Potter. I'm in love with you. Do you hear me? Do you hear what I'm saying?"
"Do you understand?" He shouted. "Can you feel this?" In one rough movement, Draco took hold of Harry's hand and shoved it against his own chest, right above his heart.
Harry opened his eyes. Beneath his palm he could feel the steady and fast-paced beating of Draco's heart. Draco's nose was mere inches away from his own. Silver eyes penetrated his own green, and suddenly Harry felt like he couldn't move. He was frozen in place.
"Do you feel that?" Draco whispered, his voice trembling a little.
The silver eyes were pleading; they were sincere. Harry could see the hope that filled them, the desperation behind them, and finally, he could see in them the love that he had never expected to be returned. In one swift and impulsive move, Harry leaned forward and kissed the blonde. It was a soft kiss at first, but the contact immediately sent a chill down Harry's spine and his lips felt almost electric.
The voluntary action on Harry's part astonished Draco, but recovering almost immediately, he kissed back, running his tongue along Harry's bottom lip. Harry found himself drowning in the comfort of the kiss. It was like static electricity had engulfed him, reassuring him with its embrace. This was more than he'd ever hoped for. That Draco might return his unvoiced love...it had been inconceivable.
Suddenly, all his bitterness disappeared, and the solitude that he had sought so much in the past several months was no longer needed. Now, what he needed more than ever was company. To be specific, Draco's company.