Upshot, part 3

Potter's friends were the most annoying people on the planet, bar none. In fact, Draco was quite convinced that they'd never be anything but annoying - as if every cell in their bodies was tied up with an 'aggravating' gene of some sort and the only way to rid them of their problem would be to eradicate them off of the planet.

Failing that, cursing them within an inch of their lives would suffice, if it weren't for the fact that doing so might put Potter off of his and Draco's 'newly appointed bosom buds' thing for life… and probably the afterlife as well.

And considering how hard it had been for Draco to actually get Potter, he wasn't about to take any chances…. or at least not until he had Potter hooked on his superior presence, wherein the two of them could then proceed to push Granger and Weasley off of a cliff together in a moment of high-spirited bonding.

But until the blessed moment, he was stuck with the Gryffindor morons.

In truth Draco had actually been looking forward to rubbing their new 'understanding' in Potter's friends faces at every possible opportunity - except when Potter was within hearing distance, of course. What he hadn't been counting on was the two of them seeking him out the same day he had met with Potter, and without even having the common decency to bring Potter along so that Draco could at least have something reasonable to look at while dealing with the idiots.

He should have figured they would pull something like this. If over five years of Potter-watching had taught him anything, it was that poor Potter didn't seem to do anything without those two freaks sticking their noses in his business shortly thereafter.

The fact that their actions had resulted, on multiple occasions, in saving Potter's life was inconsequential, since it should have been he, Draco Malfoy, doing the saving. After all, how fair was it that these two geeks got to accompany Potter on exciting adventures like chopping up giant snakes with antique swords in hidden chambers and playing air-tango with dragons, while the rest of the Hogwarts population, Draco included, had to do boring stuff like attend classes?

What made them so damn special?

If Draco had a knut for every time he had asked himself that question over the past five years he'd be even more affluent than Weasley, but as it was he was still utterly flummoxed. He wondered if prolonged exposure to Potter, and thus Potter's friends, would sort any of that out for him at all… or at the very least explain what Potter could possibly see in these two that made him want to share his giant snake-chopping experiences with them.

Lucky freaks.

Well he'd show them, because soon, very soon, Potter was going to realize just how much more suitable at giant snake-chopping Draco was than them, and Potter would drop them faster than a blast-ended skrewt. Then he would have the monopoly on Potter, as it was always meant to be.

After all, he was a Malfoy, and an only child to boot; his life wasn't about sharing. He'd accepted that about himself long ago and was at utter peace with it - as any self-respecting member of his clan would be.

Potters' shared.

Malfoys', they took.

Already he and Potter were the perfect match.

Perhaps it was time to stake his claim, as he should have done years ago - in a subtle way, of course. It wouldn't do to tell the freaks outright, they'd just go harping to Potter about it… but he had his ways; father hadn't raised a fool.

But before he could get on with it Granger had to go and open her mouth - typical.

"We know you met with Harry today, Malfoy. He told us what the two of you agreed to do. And we want to know - that is, Ron and I want to know - what are your intentions?"

And the annoyingness kept right on coming. Really, wasn't the fact that they existed enough? Did they have to speak, too? Furthering that thought, what gave them the right to be so protective of Potter, when a) Potter could clearly defend himself - his two sidekicks going behind his back to wage an unnecessary campaign was an insult to Potter's valor, and b) Potter should have been his, first?

This lot was clearly out of line.

"I plan to seduce him, take possession of his soul, and then turn it evil… just like mine," Draco responded dryly, hoping to get Weasley to turn pink, and Granger to click her tongue in disapproval.

Draco and his fellow Slytherins had a point system going on down in the dungeon based on common Gryffindor trio reactions and Granger clucking like a chicken was worth a solid five, at the very least. And if Draco was absolutely forced into a situation where he had to speak with the morons, he wanted a minimal of twenty points out of it - though it would hardly be worth the bad taste in his mouth that would likely last for days afterwards.

"I will then proceed to make him take the secret oath of the Slytherin and then induct him into our monthly rituals, such as spilling the blood of virgins - that'd be you, Granger - on the night of a full moon, while we dance around stark naked and chant to further our common goal of conjuring demonic intervention to rid the planet of Gryffindors. Is that what you want to hear?"

Draco couldn't help but mentally add a 'checkmate' to the end of his discourse, though he recognized that voicing it out loud would just be overkill.

He'd made his point.

"I wouldn't be surprised if all of that were true," Weasley murmured darkly, glaring mightily in Draco's direction.

And, if in some other life Draco wasn't a Malfoy and a member of the one house at Hogwarts currently run by Severus Snape, he might have actually been intimidated by said glare. But as it was, he wasn't… at all.

"Don't worry, Weasley, since Granger here has already volunteered, we'll save your virgin arse for the next dastardly ritual."

If his splotchy cheeks were any indication, Weasley was about to blow his top - though unlike Potter, the red-haired freak wasn't nearly as intimidating going into it.

For a brief moment Draco wondered if Weasley was going to jump him again, and he couldn't help but be a little gleeful that he'd managed to evoke this fuming reaction twice in one week, even with the threat of a return visit to Dumbledore's office looming menacingly in the horizon.

After all, Potter couldn't possibly blame this exchange on Draco - It wasn't his fault that the scar-headed hero's friends had absolutely no appreciation at all for the fine art of sarcasm.

Honestly, Gryffindors as a whole, and these two in particular, needed to lighten the fuck up.

But before he could dwell on that fact, Granger, as always, had to go and kill the mood.

Dear gods and goddesses, how did Potter ever get a word in with this one present?

"Joke all you want, but we're being serious here, Malfoy. Harry's had a rough time recently and the last thing he needs is you playing games with him… or trying to, in the very least. You underestimate him if you think that Harry is easily fooled."

Draco's first thought in the wake of Granger's diatribe was 'no shit'. He didn't have to be a friend of Potter's to see any of that; it was visible to the entire school. Whereas Potter used to be your run-of-the mill happy kind of guy, recently he was… not so much, and that was a nice way of putting Potter's moodiness as of late. Furthering that, any idiot who had heard of Potter exploits - such as taking down two-faced-turban-wearing-freaks and the aforementioned chopping up of giant snakes - knew that he was a force to be reckoned with. Honestly, how blind did Gryffindork's think the rest of the student body was? Or the Death Eaters, for that matter? There was a reason Voldemort was rapidly losing support in his ranks, after all… not that these geeks were aware of that, however. Hell, they probably wouldn't be aware of it if it were printed plainly in one of Granger's beloved books. It would skew their own special Gryffindor worldview.

But another part of him, the part that recognized the fact that these two were people that Potter, for reasons yet unfathomable, cared about, reminded Draco to hold his temper in check. He wanted Potter, so he would serve his time - excruciating though it was.

Though sarcasm and exasperated facial expressions were still fair game. He did have a reputation to uphold, after all.

"Not that it is any of your business, seeing as how what goes on between Potter and I is exactly that, between Potter and I, but I assure you that I have no malicious intent towards our world's knighted little hero, other than the joy of such heroic companionship… and to perhaps get into his pants."

Weasley's response of a disgusted snort and sickly green flush almost made the whole exchange worth while - almost, but then Granger had to go ruin that as well.

Merlin, what a killjoy.

"Just see that you don't, Malfoy. Don't think for a moment that we trust you or that we won't be watching you closely, because we will. We care very deeply for Harry and we will stop at nothing to prevent him from getting hurt."

"Yeah, got that Malfoy?" Weasley added, apparently over his bout of disgust. "Nothing."

A witty retort was at the tip of Draco's tongue, even as he watched the Gryffindors turn their backs to leave, but an emotion other than extreme disgust unexpectedly welled within him, and he found himself pausing momentarily to place it.


Suddenly, amidst the company of Potter's friends and their disgustingly obvious loyalty to Potter, Draco felt very lonely. And his hatred of the two Gryffindors rushing to their friend's defense swelled, just a little bit, for making him feel that way.

He wondered briefly if Crabbe or Goyle - or hell, even Zabini or Parkinson - would ever come to his defense, without Draco instructing them to do it beforehand, like Potter's friends had.

He doubted that very much, which in itself was very distressing.

What was it liked to be that loved? That genuinely adored, without fear, or money, or influence marching into the equation. Would Potter be able to show him? And if not, would Draco ever experience it for himself?

The thought made him a little sad. For as many faults as Potter's friends had - and they had many - Draco had to admit they were utterly devoted to Potter, and that that devotion was somewhat admirable.

He had a longing, equally sudden as his last inexplicable feeling, to see Potter again. Because he knew, deep down… deep, deep down, that Potter was his only tangible chance at finding it.

Although seeking Potter out, so soon after their fledgling truce, would undoubtedly seem a bit desperate.

Screw Malfoys, Draco didn't do desperate.

After all, his pride was really his best and only effective shield against the compelling presence of Harry Potter, and Draco was Slytherin, and thus savvy enough to realize it.

He wouldn't give Potter a shred of that, not yet, not until he knew he had something to gain from it - something like the support of Potter, and his truly unwavering capability to love.

Which, in the heady aftermath of dealing with Potter's friends, was his newly redefined goal.

He didn't just want Potter's friendship, or just his passion - he wanted his affection, his devotion - his capability to love that only Gryffindor single-minded determination could accomplish.

Until then Draco would have to survive on saving face any which way that he could.

"So that's this weekend, alright Granger? Make sure to wear something white, it adds to the 'pure of heart, holier than thou' look. And tell Harry to stop by beforehand, will you? He'll have to brush up on his chants. Hell, he and I might even have time for a quickie before the naked dancing gets underway…"

The tensing of the two backs walking away from him was all that Draco needed to leave the 'altercation' with a smile, his day infinitely brightened.

It served the freaks right for trying to get between a Malfoy and the last word.