Chapter Twenty-Three:

Slytherin Pride

Draco detached himself from the group and made his way to where his mother and wife had been watching the match. Narcissa's face held a look of indifference, while Pansy's held disappointment.

"Potter has made you weak," said his very pregnant wife in a cool voice.

"Without Harry, I'd be locked up in Azkaban right now," said Draco in an equally icy tone.

"So, it's Harry now is it?" Pansy's tone was sharp, "At least we would have known where your true loyalties lie!"

"My loyalties are and always have been to my mother, my wife and unborn child!" said Draco in a dangerous tone.

"And what of Potter?" asked Pansy, "Are you planning on becoming his lap dog now?"

"He's not Dumbledore or Voldemort! He doesn't have a manipulative bone in his body!" said Draco defensively, "Unlike the Dark Lord, whom both our fathers followed blindly. Harry Potter goes to great lengths to protect those who stand with them. To him they aren't just pieces on a chess board!"

"Is that what you're really after, Harry Potter's protection?" mocked Pansy, "Ha! That is such a joke! He's a walking target, just look at the people around him! Weasel's in the infirmary, his older brother was crippled, his own wife was taken by the Dark Lord twice, the eldest Weasel was nearly maimed by Fenrir, and both Dumbledore and Sirius Black, not to mention his parents died to protect him! Even his relatives think he is foul!"

"Those Muggles think that ANYTHING related to magic is foul! They'd spit on us, as soon as they would their own nephew!" Draco shot back, "Those other people made their choices, because they knew Harry would do just as much for them and more!"

"Hello Mrs. Malfoy, Pansy, how are both of you?" asked Harry cheerfully from behind Draco, "I had no idea either of you were here! Why don't you both come join the rest of us?"

"No thank you, Mr. Potter, Pansy and I must be going," said Narcissa coldly, not bothering to hide her look of disgust. As they began to leave Harry stopped them.

"I remember what Alistair first told me during my first day at Hogwarts," Said Harry casually, "He gave me a choice, and while my decision granted me many opportunities, it lost me many more."

"Who is this, Alistair?" asked Pansy.

"It's the Sorting Hat's name," said Harry smiling, "He was having a rather difficult time deciding what house to put me in, but ultimately decided to put me in…"

"Gryffindor, yes Potter we already know that," interrupted Pansy.

"No," Harry corrected her, "Since I had similar talents and abilities to that of a certain Headboy who had received an award of special services to the school, he wanted to sort me into Slytherin." Pansy looked at him wide eyed not wanting to believe him. "Earlier that day, I remember Ron telling me that a lot of Dark Wizard's come out of Slytherin House, and after our confrontation on the train, I didn't want to be in the same house as Draco Malfoy, so I asked him to put me anywhere but Slytherin. I then remembered what house Ron was hoping to get into because his brothers were there, so I thought I knew where I'd like to go and the Sorting Hat put me into Gryffindor. He told me I would have been great in Slytherin. During the next year when everyone thought I was the Heir of Slytherin, I was starting to have doubts myself. There was a voice only I could hear, and each time the attacks came I'd always be the first person at the scene, except for when Hermione got attacked. When Justin and Sir Nicolas were attacked and I was sent to Dumbledore's office, I asked the Alistair again if I had been put in the right house, and he said again that I would have been great in Slytherin. I told him he was wrong. But, I was being foolish and defensive, because the Sorting Hat is never wrong. I know now that I would have been great in Slytherin just as I was great in Gryffindor, because it's not our abilities or talents or our blood that makes us who and what we are, it is our choices. So just remember one thing, we're not all that different." Harry looked Pansy straight in the eye. She shifted nervously. She also noticed what Draco had seen before and as much as she wanted to, she couldn't look away from his soul searching gaze. She felt vulnerable and helpless; looking into his twinkling emerald eyes was like looking into Dumbledore's, yet more intense.

Both Pansy and Narcissa Malfoy bid Harry and Draco farewell, both with feelings of emptiness at the bottom of their souls. It was Draco who spoke up first, after they had left.

"I was the reason you didn't go to Slytherin?" asked Draco.

"One of them, but not the only one," said Harry reassuringly.

"Just think, if we'd have had the 'Great Harry Potter' Gryffindor wouldn't have stood a chance and it would have been us who would have won the house cup all those years," said Draco.

"Maybe not the Quidditch Cup though, I'm not sure Snape would have let me on the team," said Harry.

"Either way, the Tri-Wizard Tournament would have been a victory for Slytherin," said Draco smiling.

They walked back to the infirmary where there rest of their former classmates; Fleur, "Mad-Eye" Moody, and now Viktor Krum (he joined them after the match was over to congratulate Harry on his victory) were all waiting for them.