Harry Potter and the Unsettling Discovery
The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.-Elie Wiesel
The next day was their first day of regular classes since what Draco had begun calling "The Revelation." Despite their joking the day before, they didn't really know what to expect once they found themselves in forced close proximity to the rest of the school. Sunday night, Draco had avoided going back to Slytherin by again spending the night in the room of requirement. Hermione had advised him that this wasn't a good idea, but he would not be persuaded. Harry had wanted to stay with him again, but Hermione had put her foot down and said that at least one of them would need to face the music. Of course, it had been a relatively uneventful night among the other Gryffindors for Harry, filled mostly with Seamus's lewd jokes until a first year had told him, "Lay off Harry and Draco."
At breakfast, Draco had again sat at the Gryffindor table, even though he arrived at the Great Hall before Harry. He was partly relieved when the little blond boy from the day before, Colin he thought he remembered Harry calling him, chose to sit across from him, because he had become aware that the Gryffindors were not sitting near him like the Hufflepuffs had done two days earlier, but given the circumstances, he was more unnerved than amused. They hadn't spoken at all, but still he was glad to not be sitting alone at the end of the long table. Hermione had joined them next, sitting next to Colin and nodding a greeting to Draco as she did. Finally, Ron and Harry had come in and joined them as well, and Draco was at last at ease.
They got their first shock of the day when the mail arrived, bringing owl after owl laden with letters. As they came, both boys secretly scanned the letters before them for any hint of red envelope, but did not see any. Draco was the first to open one, from the pile in front of him that was quite a bit smaller than Harry's. He opened it slowly and unfolded it carefully, watching for any sign of danger. When none came, he read the letter. It commended him on going against his father, and allowing his heart to guide him in finding true love in the child of his enemy. 'This shows your heart is true, and I have faith that if you follow it, it will lead you to the right decision in all matters. Good luck to you and Harry.' It was from a witch in Kent he had never even heard of. Heartened, he opened another, which professed how romantic it was that he and Harry had found each other, despite their obstacles, and warned him that if this was the foundation of some evil plot, he should never show his face in public again, lest he find himself lacking skin.
"Wow." He liked that one.
Draco loved the attention, and opened each subsequent letter with a flourish. There were some that were outright nasty, claiming that the writer KNEW that he was still evil. There were some that claimed that this was proof that Harry was also evil, and had secretly been a dark wizard the whole time, an assertion that actually made Draco laugh out loud. There were many that contained warnings on what would happen to him if he hurt Harry. There were a couple that contained the pull-out poster of him and Harry from Witch Weekly, asking for them to sign it. For those two he pulled out a quill right away, quickly inking his own regal script across the right side of the page, before handing the quill to Harry to sign the other side, and returned them with the Owl they came with. Most were harmless, merely wishing him well, or offering support in some way.
Draco was enjoying the spotlight, but Harry was just nervous about Draco's father and the other Death Eaters. He looked toward the Slytherin table, where he was greeted with more than a few scowls. This painted a target on Draco just as big as the one Harry had grown used to carrying.
This fear was cemented in his mind on the way to their first class. Draco had finally banished the unopened letters up to the Room of Requirement so he and Harry could eat their breakfast. Harry was glad their first class would be Potions, so he had an excuse to stay with Draco longer. It quickly became apparent that, though the majority of people either supported Harry and Draco or could care less either way, those people where the type that kept a respectful distance. The only ones who saw fit to actively engage the Gryffindor and Slytherin were those who disapproved, which mostly happened to be Slytherins.
"So, Draco is an open bender now."
"He's always been open about that, he only just decided to let us know that he was a blood-traitor as well."
Harry and Draco had both turned toward Zabini and Nott, ready to say something back, when to their surprise, Pansy Parkinson stepped forward first. "You plebeians have been jealous of Draco since first year. He's got more respect than you, he's better looking than you, he's smarter than you, and now, who knows, maybe you've both been secretly lusting over Potter, and are just feeling cranky because Draco beat you to him."
In the short time it took for the two Slytherins to begin to sputter, trying to come up with a suitable denial or come back, Pansy had produced a wand and was pointing it at Zabini's throat. "Either way, I think I've made myself clear."
Just then, the door to the potions classroom opened, and Snape took in the scene before him. Harry and Draco stood to the side, looking both surprised and amused. Pansy Parkinson pointed a wand at Blaise Zabini, who stood frozen to the spot with fear, and Theodore Nott stood just behind Zabini, trying, and it seemed failing, to appear menacing. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger stood to the other side, identical shocked expressions on their faces.
"Really? Fighting in the halls? I expected better from Slytherins. Really more what I'd expect from Gryffindors. In fact, twenty points from Gryffindor, who I'm sure is behind this little display of childish posturing."
He turned and swept back into the classroom, leaving the door open behind him for his students to follow.
What had followed had been the longest double potions Harry had ever endured. Snape had been particularly nasty to him, separating them into pairs he thought would be the most painful. He explained that, ideally, the pairs for working on this particular potion should be male/female, but since there were only three females and five males in NEWT-level potions, they would have to make certain substitutions. Ron was paired with Esmarelda Botch, a Slytherin who usually kept to herself. Pansy was paired with Zabini, each party glaring at the other throughout the class period. Draco was paired with Hermione, causing Snape to scowl when they greeted each other warmly as they moved to the cauldron Snape had indicated they should work around. Unfortunately, this soured Snape's mood even more. "Nott, I'm sorry we don't have a female for you to partner with; you'll have to make do with Harry Potter, though I daresay, you might find the substitution close enough." He indicated that they should sit at the front cauldron, the one set up closest to Snape's desk. Harry was sure this was so that Snape could have easiest access to insult him as often as possible throughout the class period, and he was not let down. He found himself the target of constant jibes, references to his sexuality, and general goading from both Snape and Nott. He did not rise to the bait and respond, though he did note that Draco still seemed to be exempt from Snape's targeting. He assumed that this meant that Snape really didn't care so much about the gender of Draco's love interest, so much as the fact that he was Harry Potter. Of course, being targeted for who you are (or who your parents were), was no less depressing than being targeted for what you are. Still, Harry ignored them as well as he could, and was thankful when the end of class came.
"Well, you wouldn't mind cleaning up, Potter-" Nott had said as he spilled a jar of dove's blood off the edge of the table on his way toward the door, "-I'm sure you're aching for any excuse to get down on your hands and knees."
"Five more points from Gryffindor, Potter, for wasting a jar of dove's blood."
Draco looked toward the front of the room at Snape's loud pronouncement, then stopped Hermione as she began to pack up their supplies. "No, you go on, I'll clean up. Ron is probably impatient to get down to lunch. We'll be down in a few minutes."
She looked up at Harry, who was sopping up blood from the floor with an already sodden rag, with sympathy before nodding at Draco and joining Ron, who was waiting by the door.
As Draco made his way to the front of the room, Snape swept by him on his way out. "Make sure he doesn't cause any more damage," Snape shot at him as they passed. The door slammed shut behind him, leaving the two boys alone.
After giving a quick look around to ensure that no one else was in the room, Harry magically got rid of the mess with a silent sweep of his hand. With a hand from Draco he got back up, sitting down heavily on his stool.
"I forgot my fake wand today, so I couldn't use magic in front of others." As Draco placed a comforting hand on his lower back, Harry asked, "Why does he hate me so much?"
"I don't think he hates you."
Harry looked at him sarcastically over his glasses, which Draco found alluring. He wrapped a hand around the other boy's neck and began messaging the muscles just below his dark hairline. "I actually don't. I think he's testing you. He doesn't approve of you, and he thinks I'm crazy for being with you, but he cares about me, and I think he's hoping you'll prove him wrong."
"No, this has been going on since I was eleven. I think he genuinely hates me."
"He may have hated your father, which he takes out on you, but he doesn't hate you. I think he was looking forward to not having you in his life after the war, but with how important you are in my life, he's going to have to deal with you. As my Godfather, he-"
"SNAPE is your Godfather?"
"Yes, so you can see why he's taking the news so strongly." Harry's shoulders slumped, and Draco gave him a quick kiss on the back of the neck as he rose from his own stool. "Come on, let's go to lunch."
They made their way through the largely deserted dungeons. As most of the students had already gone to lunch, all was quiet. But in an instant everything changed. Harry and Draco were making their way through a portion of the hallway that was slightly narrower and darker than the rest, and they walked nearer to each other as a result. Just as their hands happened to brush each other, Draco felt a jolt of malice shoot through his mind. Confused, he stopped in his tracks. Harry kept walking, and was a few feet away before he finally realised Draco had stopped moving.
"I don't know. I felt something weird."
Draco just shook his head, not able to explain what had happened. Concerned, Harry walked back to Draco and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
In an instant, Draco knew something was wrong. A confusing swell of negative emotion swept through his mind, making him sick to his stomach in its intensity. So powerful was the contempt he felt, he couldn't even think straight, not even able to form a thought, until, out of nowhere, one word came to mind. NOW.
Automatically, Harry threw his arms around Draco and pushed with all his weight until both boys were flat on the ground, just as a yellow flash of light shot through the air, going through the spot both boys had been standing seconds before, and hitting the wall behind with such force that a large chunk of stone was knocked loose and fell to the floor, cracking the floor when it landed.
Face to face, laying on the floor, both boys stared at each other in confusion, until they hear a voice coming just around the bend. "Go see if it hit them."
Harry sprung into action so quickly Draco didn't have time to figure out what was going on. The Gryffindor turned, still on his knees, and silently flung a stunning spell from the palm of his hand. Draco heard it hit its target, and a sickening thud followed suit, followed by the stomp of heavy footsteps running down the hall in the opposite direction.
Harry stood upright, helping Draco up as he did so, and both boys made their way toward the bend in the hall. When they approached it, they saw a figure sprawled at the base of the wall, and upon closer inspection, they found that it was Vincent Crabbe. Once they had ascertained that he was knocked out, they turned back toward each other, confused.
"How did you know-?" They both started at the same time. When neither finished what they were going to say, Draco started up again.
"How did you know to get us out of the way?"
"You told me to. How did you know they were going to attack before they actually did?"
"I-I didn't. I think I, I felt what they were thinking. But Harry, I never said a thing, I didn't get a chance. It was all so confusing. You just reacted automatically."
"No I heard you, you said, 'duck,'"
"I didn't say anything Harry."
Harry looked down at Crabbe, not quite sure what had happened.
"I don't know either," Draco said.
"What?" Harry was confused.
"I don't know what happened either."
Shocked, Harry stared at Draco. It was so dark in the portion of the hall they were standing in, the bend of the hall blocking the light from the torches and creating a shadow, Harry could barely see Draco's outline, much less his expression. He couldn't tell if Draco was pulling his leg.
"I'm not, I swear."
Draco, can you hear me? Harry thought silently to himself.
"Of course I can hear you!"
Are you aware that I'm not actually speaking?
"What? Of course you're...Oh, for the love of...lumos." Finally, they could see each other clearly in the light of Draco's wand.
I'm not speaking, Draco, you're reading my mind.
"Reading your..." That's not possible.
Well, apparently, it is. Because you're doing it.
Wait, Harry, you're doing it too.
I don't think so...
Are my lips moving?
"Oh, my god!"
No kidding, Harry.
But I didn't hear their thoughts, only yours.
They looked at each other for a moment.
"Let's go see Hermione."
When they finally made it to the Great hall they sat down carefully at the Gryffindor table, listening intently.
"What took you two so long? We were getting worried."
"Uhh, we sort of got attacked down in the dungeons."
"Attacked! Harry, are you alright?"
"Yes, we're fine. I stunned Crabbe before he got us, the other one got away."
"Stunned Crabbe? Harry, did he see you perform magic without a wand?"
"No, they were around the corner; we didn't even see who it was until after."
"You should tell Dumbledore, mate."
Can you tell what any of them are thinking?
No not at all, you?
No. Maybe it only works where we're in danger?
I don't know. Draco remained focused on Hermione, trying to read her thoughts, while Harry began piling his plate with food.
"You should eat something." Harry nudged Draco with his shoulder, and Draco again felt a jolt like the one he had felt down in the hall, but instead of malice, he felt a wave of worry, and a jumbled litany of terms and definitions in Arithmancy, as well as a concern for Harry and Draco, flying through his head at such speed, it left him dizzy. Still focused as he was on Hermione, sitting with her brow furrowed and bending over an open book as she ate, he almost had to laugh.
"You're actually worried about the Arithmancy NEWTs? If anyone has it in the bag, it's you Granger!"
She looked up at him, surprised.
"And we're really fine. I promise. That was nothing Harry couldn't handle."
"Is it happening again?"
Draco nodded at Harry.
Hermione had just opened her mouth to speak, but Draco was already answering her unasked question.
"It seems we may have discovered a new dimension to our connection."
"What is it?" Ron looked up, curiosity evident in his voice, despite the mouth full of food.
Draco shifted his focus to Ron, and tried to project his thoughts the way he had been doing to Harry. Ron just continued looking at them and chewing.
I don't think he can hear you. Harry's voice again filled Draco's head.
Draco and Harry looked at each other, before turning toward the other couple and saying, "Let's go to the room."
End Chapter Eighteen
A/N: Only a few more chapters left. I really do appreciate reviews. Thank you to those of you who have written reviews so far, and thank you in advance to those who are about to write one now. The review button can be found immediately below this sentence, hugs and kisses to you if you click on it.