Calai'di: -sigh- I should really stop coming up with new ideas.

Anyway, I was on AFF and I happened read a DxH and then, of course, I had to go read more, so eventually I became inspired and I just had to write one of my own. So here it is: the best idea out of three that I had for a DxH. I hope you like it.

Warnings: this has YAOI. That means two guys liking each other and doing all those lovely things two people do when they're in private. If you don't like it, don't read. Please don't flame either, because I am warning you now and it's your fault if you read further.
Also, this hasn't really been betaed, so there are going to mistakes.
Possible character death eventually, definite spoilers from all books except the first two, swearing, violence

Rating: PG-13 (T), but it will probably go up

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or anything associated with it. If I did, Snape wouldn't be such a bastard, nor would Draco, and book six wouldn't have had that horrible ending.

So, please enjoy!


Background Secrets

Part I: Third Year

Chapter I: The Summer it Started

It started the summer before third year.

Or rather, he supposed, it had started earlier than that, the moment they first met in Madam Malkin's and didn't know who the other was.

But he knew everything had really taken off the summer after second year, since he was finally allowed to let Hedwig out and could receive letters from his friends.

Harry was never quite sure what drove him to write to the blond in the first place, though it may have stemmed from the feelings he'd felt since that very first meeting. Or maybe he was just bored and wanted something to do or someone to talk to since he technically wasn't allowed to send letters to his friends, someone who didn't think of him as the hero of the wizarding world. But write he did, and he certainly didn't expect any response from Draco. After all, what could you say to someone you hated as much as he hated Harry? And so he wrote the letter without really realizing why, nor expecting a response in return.

Dear Malfoy,

I can't believe I'm writing to you, especially just out of the blue like this. I bet you're just as shocked though, so that's something. I really have no clue as to why I thought I should write, but it seemed like something to do.

Gah, I feel like I've gone insane.

I guess I just wanted someone to talk to since I've been forbidden from sending letters to my friends with my owl and they haven't sent me anything anyway. But you're not exactly a friend, are you? So maybe I'm not breaking the rules by sending you this.

I honestly don't expect a response to this, though even a list of insults would be interesting. Actually, you could send a Howler and I really wouldn't care. It'd be kind of funny to see the expressions on my aunt and uncle's faces if something suddenly started screaming from my room.

Wow, I have gone insane.

Anyway, you're welcome to write back, though I really don't see why you would.

Harry Potter (your most bitter rival)

He'd even considered never sending the letter, since it seemed he really had lost it and Malfoy was sure to tell him that if he responded. But he figured he had nothing to lose, and every bit of what he'd written was true (especially the part about seeing his relative's expressions if he did get a Howler), so he signed Malfoy's name on the front and gave it to Hedwig as soon as she got back from her nightly hunt.


It was precisely two weeks after the end of term when he did get a response.

Harry had just closed his bedroom door, ready to just flop onto his bed and drop off after a rather grueling evening with the Dursleys, when he heard an odd tapping sound coming from his closed window. It almost sounded like an owl, but Hedwig was in her cage (it had been mildly disappointing when she'd come back from Malfoy without a response) and his birthday wasn't for a couple of months. He supposed it could have been one of his friends' owls with a letter, but he doubted it, since both Ron and Hermione probably thought he was already in major trouble with his uncle. So, a little flabbergasted, he went over and opened the window to let in a beautiful eagle owl with a letter in its beak. He didn't recognize the owl at first, or the handwriting on the letter, be he gasped softly a moment after taking the letter from its mouth.

"You're Malfoy's owl, aren't you?" he whispered in awe as he reached a hand up to gently stoke its feathers. The owl hooted proudly and lightly nipped at Harry's fingers before flying over to Hedwig's cage to take a drink of water. Harry watched for a moment before flopping back onto his bed to look over the letter. Malfoy's handwriting was actually fairly neat, not surprisingly, and he was amused to see that the letter had been sealed with red wax and what he could only assume was the Malfoy family crest. With a fair amount of enthusiasm, he broke the seal and pulled out the letter, a little glad the blonde's handwriting was so tidy.

Dear Potter,

You're absolutely right for once; you've gone completely insane. Seriously, why would you write to me of all people? Don't you have anyone other than the Weasel and Granger you could write to? Surely I'm not the only one you thought you could write without getting in trouble.

I can honestly say I was flabbergasted when I got your letter. In fact, I almost didn't write you back, but you provided a rather unique opportunity. I've been wondering who I could write to that wouldn't be a complete waste of my time. I suppose you'll have to do; Merlin knows I couldn't write to Crabbe or Goyle. I'm not sure they can actually write intelligently.

You live with Muggles don't you? You know, I almost feel sorry for you; from what you've said, they seem completely horrid. I suppose I could send you a Howler next, though it would rather defeat the point if you enjoyed getting it. The list of insults sounded entertaining as well, though I think I'd rather send it to Weasley than you.

Feel free to write back, I suppose, but don't expect me to reply again.

Ever still your arch enemy,

Draco Malfoy

Harry had an amused smile on his face once he was done reading and he almost immediately started digging under the loose floorboard under his bed for a quill, ink, and parchment so he could respond. Malfoy was actually a lot more polite than he'd imagined; he really had expected to get a Howler, though in retrospect, he was glad he hadn't. He was already on sour terms with his aunt and uncle, and while it would be hilarious to see their expressions at first, he didn't really feel like being locked in the cupboard under the stairs with his school things for the rest of the summer.

When he came back up from under the bed, he was surprised, though thankful, to see that Malfoy's owl had not left but was perched on Hedwig's cage, seemingly ignoring Harry's own bird.

"Did Malfoy tell you to wait for my letter?" he asked with a faint smile. The owl clicked his beak in assent and went back to preening its feathers in a rather Malfoy-like fashion. Harry shook his head with amusement and leaned against the headboard, a piece of parchment resting on one of his school books against his knees, to set about writing a response to the blond Slytherin.

Dear Malfoy,

You'd be amazed (maybe disgusted even) at how shocked and pleased I was to get your letter. It couldn't have come at a better time; I've had hell from the Muggles all day. And just so you know, sending that Howler might be a bad idea after all.

To answer your questions: I'm not sure why I wrote to you except that I was bored having to just do homework and I can't write to my friends, like I said before. Anyone other than Ron and Hermione I thought of was either a friend or someone I thought was too stupid to respond. Or someone who hero-worships me, and I'd rather not waste time reading 'fan mail' from some giddy girl.

And yes, I do live with Muggles; three of the worst that exist. It's nice of you to almost feel sorry for me; I can hardly imagine what it must be like to grow up and live in a wizarding household. Aside from having an absolute git as a father, I almost envy your luck.

Still wondering why I'm writing you,

Harry Potter

P.S. You have a beautiful owl by the way. What's his name?

Yes, that would have to do. He still really wasn't sure why he was writing to Malfoy at all, but at least it was something to do besides homework. And they still managed to insult each other anyway, so they weren't becoming friends. That would signal the end of the world, he believed.

With a faint smile at that thought, he folded up the letter, wrote Malfoy's name on the outside, and went over to where the eagle owl was now waiting on his window sill.

"Make sure he replies right away, okay?" Harry asked softly as he held the letter out to the owl. "And I'll give you a special treat when you come back." The owl hooted happily before taking the letter in its beak and flying off.


It was the next night at midnight when Malfoy's owl returned and Harry was so startled that he almost upset his ink bottle onto his sheets. Thankfully he didn't, because then Aunt Petunia would find out that he was secretly doing his summer homework at night, but it did take him a moment to make sure his sheets were safe before he could get up to let the owl inside. It seemed that Malfoy lived somewhat nearby since he'd responded so quickly. Harry smiled at the owl as he let it in and gave it a thin slice of the apple he'd been eating as a treat, like he'd promised, after he took the letter the owl was carrying.

It seemed slightly odd, he reflected as he flopped down on his bed, to sit back and read an anticipated letter from Draco Malfoy, but at least it relieved him of his homework and the Dursleys for a short time.

Dear Potter,

May I express my pride that I can get you to abandon your homework for several minutes!

Professor Snape should award me house points when we get back to school.

And what's with all the flattery? I suppose you have a good reason, considering the Muggles you say you live with, but I would never expect it coming from you.

Actually, I have been wondering what it's like to live with Muggles, especially yours. You keep complaining about them, and I know Muggles are horrible, but they couldn't possibly be that bad.

Oh, and if you tell me about it, I'll tell you about my life in the wizarding world that you yearn for so much.

Lastly, DON'T INSULT MY FATHER, POTTER!

Draco Malfoy

P.S. You have good taste in owls, then. His name is Thiassi, after a giant in Norse mythology that tricked and almost killed the gods. Thiassi (the giant) could turn into an eagle. Your owl is quite beautiful also; she's not of a very common breed around here.

Harry had almost laughed when he saw Malfoy's bold warning; he wouldn't be surprised if the blond wrote the entire letter just for that one line. And they were complimenting each other's owls in the meantime. The world must be ending.

"Thiassi..." he murmured softly, testing out the name. The owl clicked his beak in response and Harry smiled softly. "Do you mind waiting here until morning? It's going to take a little while to answer your master's letter," Harry asked, addressing the owl directly this time. Thiassi hooted softly and briefly ruffled his feathers before appearing to go to sleep.

Harry quickly hid all of homework supplies and the flashlight he'd been using under the loose floorboard, set Malfoy's second letter on the nightstand with the first, made sure the window was open Hedwig when she came back, and checked off another day on his homemade chart. Then he briefly checked the time on the glowing alarm clock next to the letters and got into bed, going over in his mind all the horrible things he could say about the Dursleys in his letter.


"Boy! Wake up! Go make breakfast!"

Harry groaned softly when Aunt Petunia's shrill voice and heavy rapping on his door woke him up from a rather odd dream that he couldn't really remember. His hand groped around a bit for his glasses and he started slightly when it touched the letters on his bedside table, only remembering what they were after a moment. A faint smile formed on his lips when he thought of how well he and the blond Slytherin were getting along through their letters, hardly insulting each other at all and even then it was fairly weak. Maybe they could have a friendship, though Ron and Hermione would hate the idea, and something kept niggling at him at the back of his mind that prevented him from posing the question in one of his letters.

As soon as he found his glasses and put them on, he looked over at Hedwig's cage to make sure she'd come back and that Thiassi had really stayed through the night; the eagle owl was still sleeping on top of the cage, and his own owl was looking up at him with interest. Harry went over and closed the window nearby so neither owls could leave, doing it quietly so he wouldn't wake Malfoy's owl.

"This is Thiassi. He's Malfoy's owl," Harry explained softly to his own owl. "So be nice to him, okay? I'll bring you both something from breakfast." Hedwig hooted softly and nipped affectionately at his fingers before he moved out of reach.

"Hurry up!" Aunt Petunia screeched outside his door, rapping on it again.

"I'm coming Aunt Petunia!" Harry called back as he headed toward the door. He knew that his aunt would never barge into the room to wake him up, since she was afraid of him deep down, but it never hurt to keep her in a relatively good mood. He noticed with amusement, when he looked back into the room from the doorway, that Thiassi had yet to awaken even with all that noise. Harry just hoped the owl wouldn't freak out when he finally woke and saw that the window was closed, Harry was gone, and another owl was in the room with him.


Malfoy's owl woke with a start and ruffled his feathers indignantly when Harry stormed into the room after breakfast, slamming the door behind him as he went. Hedwig, who was used to these kinds of events, merely hooted sympathetically and tried to calm Thiassi down before he brought the Dursleys up to see what the problem was. Harry smiled slightly in thanks, but his expression darkened as soon as he flopped down onto his bed.

Breakfast had been such a disaster. First of all, he'd been so distracted thinking about what he should write in his letter that he's burned the eggs and had to start over, and then he'd spilled half of the orange juice on the floor. Uncle Vernon had yelled at him until hi was almost hoarse and ordered him to make twice as much food as usual because of his blundering. Then, once the food was done and everyone had started eating (Harry was allowed as much as usual, even though there was twice as much food) Uncle Vernon had declared that he was taking the family, Harry excluded of course, to the new water park that had just opened–the one he'd been longing to go to since he'd come back from school. Dudley knew perfectly well how much Harry wanted to go, and he took great pleasure in taunting him until the front door had closed behind them. They, of course, left him to do the dishes, and there were twice as many as usual because of Uncle Vernon's demands that morning. Harry was, needless to say, extremely pissed off and upset once he was done, though he really hadn't meant to scare Thiassi like he had.

He suddenly remember the small packet of toast crumbs, eggs, and sausage he'd brought up for the owls, so he pulled it out of his pocket and set it on the desk close to the owls so both would have an equal chance. Then with a sigh, he grabbed Malfoy's second letter and lay back on his bed to read over it again. A small smile formed on his lips as he read, absently wondering whether he could bring Malfoy over to the good side of the wizarding community; he seemed a little too kind to be on Voldemort's side. He'd have to stop insulting Ron and Hermione though.

But what if Malfoy ended up switching him over to Voldemort's side? Harry shivered slightly at the thought; that could never happen; they weren't friends, and they were just writing to each other for something interesting to do. Nothing more than an unusual summer could come out of this, right?

So why did he all ready feel like he wanted it to keep going even after the summer?

But now he had a letter to write; he'd worry about how long this would last later. He wasn't planning to waste any more parchment though; no, he'd thought of something else during breakfast, and he'd like to see Malfoy's reaction to it. He had to look over a couple of the shelves in the room before he found what he was looking for–one of Dudley's old spirals for school. Harry knew his cousin hardly used more than ten pages in a school year, but Aunt Petunia always bought him at three each semester, so they ended up piling in the spare bedroom, now Harry's, along with the books that were never read. Now Harry planned to put this fresh supply of paper to good use so he could keep his parchment for his homework.

He settled on his bed again and started writing, telling about what it was like growing up with the Dursleys as best as he could so Malfoy would understand some of the Muggle things that went on. Actually, he even went past explaining what had gone on before he'd found out he was wizard; he wrote about last summer and this summer as well, although that took considerably less space. And at the end, he included a somewhat friendly postscript:

That's a name I'd expect you to name an owl, actually. Hagrid bought me Hedwig (my owl) as a birthday present the first time I went to Diagon, shortly after we met. I couldn't wish for a better owl, although yours is pretty nice. Don't worry, I'm not planning to steal him. By the way, is there anything you don't want him to eat?

All in all, the letter was about three pages long, two of them front to back, but Harry was satisfied that he'd covered everything Malfoy might want to know. The blond was not, of course, Mr. Weasley, and therefore didn't need, or want, Harry was sure, to know every detail of how the refrigerator light comes on when the door is opened. He just hoped that Malfoy's letter would be just as long, since he was eager to read about what it would be like to grow up around magic all the time.

With a soft sigh at this thought, Harry went over to Thiassi and tied the letter to his leg. "You'll have to show me his reaction when you get back," Harry murmured with a faint smile. Thiassi hooted softly and soared out the window off to the west.


When Harry woke the next morning, the first thing he saw was a dark shape perched on the bedpost at the foot of his bed. He scrambled for his glasses so he could see better, though he already knew what the shape was.

"Thanks, Thiassi," Harry said as he took the letter Malfoy's owl was carrying. Thiassi ruffled his feathers importantly and flew over to settle on Hedwig's cage again. Harry hardly noticed what the bird did, though, since he was already eagerly reading Malfoy's letter, which was almost as long as the one he'd written.

Dear Potter,

What odd parchment! Is it Muggle-made? It's very useful, though having the lines wastes space. You should just use regular parchment like everyone else.

Harry laughed softly as he read this, making a mental note to use the regular lined paper from then on. These thoughts soon flew out of his head as he started reading the account of Malfoy's life, which was just as detailed as what he himself had written. And it was almost everything he could have imagined; Malfoy had grown up as one of the rice kids, always having what he wanted but not really spoiled. His mother cared for him from a distance, though more than his father, who didn't really have much contact with him at all; it was usually only at parties or business meetings that he was required to attend for a few minutes. For the most part, he had grown up on his own with only the house elves caring for him. He, of course, got presents for every birthday and Christmas, though he hardly ever saw his parents even on those days. He'd always had friends growing, like Crabbe and Goyle, though he'd never actually liked most of them; he only hung around them to alleviate his boredom. He'd gotten a child's wand, which really only allowed sparks to be made, at age five, and his first broom at eight, which was why he was such a good flyer.

Of course, everything changed on the first train-ride to school, because that was the first time his offer of friendship had been rejected–by Harry, whom he'd always heard about growing up and had actually held a sort of respect for. After all, how many other one-year-olds, or anyone for that matter, could survive the Killing Curse at the end of Voldemort's wand. But he'd never expected Harry to reject his friendship, and so he started hating him for it rather than admit that maybe something was wrong with himself; he was a Malfoy and therefore perfect after all. He only hated Harry more when the brunet gained a position on the Gryffindor Quidditch team in first year–a feat that seemed impossible. And after each feat Harry accomplished, that hatred only increased. Of course, he still held a fair amount of respect for Harry, though now it was because now he had someone that was actually almost his equal and wouldn't back down when provoked, and he therefore wouldn't be bored as much as before.

That was only reason he sent Dobby to Harry's house that second summer; he knew what his father planned to do and he didn't want his rival to get hurt so much he didn't have one any more. Dobby overdid his job a little, but Malfoy wasn't surprised since the elf had always been rather eccentric. And now that it was second year, he could get onto his own house's Quidditch team and become even more of a rival to Harry. The reason he was so jealous of Harry when the brunet began getting blamed for Riddle's attacks was mostly because once again, he couldn't seem to be able to amount to the same as Harry, and he had known exactly what was going on, but couldn't say a thing about it. He'd been extremely jealous when Harry, a Gryffindor, could speak Parseltongue, and then even more so when he'd not only entered the Chamber of Secrets but had also come out fairly unscathed (although he was admittedly secretly relieved about this).

Which all led up to how surprised he'd been when he'd received Harry's letter the few days before.

I explained about that in the first letter, though. And that's pretty much been my life so far. If you're shocked about any of it, know this: You were honest with me, so I had to return the favor. We Slytherins can be trusted, after all, though usually only in certain circumstances. But if I find this letter (or any of them actually) lying around school anywhere, I swear I will personally hex you beyond recognition.

Draco Malfoy

P.S. Why do want to know? Have you been feeding my owl without asking first? I don't want him eating candy or sweets and only anything other than owl treats in small amounts. So don't go stuffing him every time he's at your house or he'll get spoiled and expect it.

Are you ever going to use Hedwig again before school starts? I'd like to see her again, and I think Thiassi likes her a little anyway.

Harry was rather speechless once he'd finished reading the letter and had to go back over a couple of lines to make sure he'd read them correctly the first time. Was it possible that Malfoy sounded almost...friendly and perhaps even slightly ashamed? It was almost as if he was asking for Harry's friendship once more, though not nearly as obviously as the last time for fear of rejection again. He'd mentioned Harry a lot in the letter...and Harry found he was even slightly flattered by it.

He wasn't quite sure what he was thinking when he reached for the spiral and his quill to write a response, but it certainly wasn't about what the bad effects of a friendship with Draco Malfoy could be. The blonde was proving to be a very interesting person underneath the cold and hateful mask he always wore, and Harry could definitely see a friendship between them...if...

Dear Malfoy,

It's hard to admit this, but I'm...sorry, I suppose, that I rejected your friendship in first year. To be honest, I did think about accepting it, but I was still pissed off about you making fun of Ron, who was the first real friend I ever had.

So if you really want it, I'll accept it now, but we'll have to keep it a secret since the whole school thinks we're bitter enemies and it would probably cost me my friendship with Ron. I won't accept you making fun of Ron and Hermione either.

And don't worry, I'm not going to leave any of these letters lying around at school. That would probably lose me my friendship with Ron also; he'd think I was betraying him by writing to you in anything more than a hateful manner.

Harry Potter

P.S. Actually, I have been feeding bit a bit while he's been here, but it's been the same things I would feed my own owl. You'll have to excuse me if I don't have an owl treats, though, considering the Muggles.

I can't use Hedwig until school starts; I was taking a huge risk that first time. Also, if you could manage it so that Thiassi get here during the night sometime, that'd really help. I'll probably be locked under the stairs if my aunt or uncle sees any owls flying from my window, and then you'd be bored again, wouldn't you?

No, he really had no idea what he was thinking, and again he had to wonder whether he wanted to send the letter at all. But when he really thought about it, he did want to be friends with the Slytherin, and it wasn't like they'd stop being rivals by being friends. Maybe they'd just hang out a little more and not be so rude toward each other, which was a distinct possibility by the way their letters had been going.

Harry was brought out of his thoughts when Thiassi hooted impatiently and he realized he'd been sitting there daydreaming for quite some time after he'd finished the letter. Shaking his head slightly, Harry got up and took the letter to the eagle owl, murmuring a soft apology before sending him out again, hoping Malfoy wouldn't be too freaked by his response.


This time, it took Malfoy several days to reply; so long, in fact, that Harry was starting to become certain that he'd scared off the blonde with that last letter and Malfoy had never wanted his friendship in the first place. He even started becoming slightly depressed, afraid that his summer was going to return to the way it had been before and he'd just have to corner Malfoy on the school train or something.

Then, a week after he'd sent the letter, Thiassi appeared at his window around midnight again. Harry scrambled to the window in disbelief, just managing to keep from tipping over his ink well in his haste. His spirits rose when he saw that the owl was indeed Thiassi, though his hopes were soon somewhat dashed when he saw how short a note Malfoy had written.

Don't kid me, Potter. I don't see why you'd ever consider being friends with me, and it had better not be a pity issue. If you're really telling the truth, reply on this same paper; if you don't really mean it, don't bother writing again.

Malfoy

Harry bit his lip slightly; the hatred and disbelief in Malfoy's words was almost palpable. He wasn't sure why he had to reply on the same piece of parchment, though he supposed that Malfoy probably put a charm on it so he'd know if Harry's reply was anything but earnest.

With a soft sigh, Harry found his quill and began writing, though if he were honest to be with himself, he had expected something close to this happening. Malfoy was too stubborn to just accept that Harry might have changed his mind.

Look, Malfoy, I know you think I hate your guts, which is what I thought of you until you responded to that first letter of mine. But I've decided that it can't be all bad being your friend. You're an interesting person, and it's not like we'd have to stop being rivals by beings friends. If you don't want my friendship anymore, fine, but I'm sure we'll both profit more by being friends.

Harry Potter

Harry wordlessly gave the letter back to Thiassi for him to take to Malfoy, afraid that if he opened his mouth, he'd end up making enough noise to wake the Dursleys and get himself into major trouble. Thiassi looked at him curiously for a moment before taking the letter in his beak and flying off again. Harry leaned out the window a bit to watch the owl fly off, a soft frown on his face.

'Malfoy, you'd better get your head out of your arse and accept my offer this time...Great, now I'm thinking like him. Just what the world needs: another Draco Malfoy.'


Harry woke with a start maybe two hours later to a light pecking on his head. He scowled sleepily and tried to bat away whatever it was–and his hand collided with something small and feathery. He yelped softly and reached out for his glasses so he could see properly; sitting next to his head was Thiassi with a much thicker letter then before tied to his leg.

Harry frowned in confusion as he sat up and reached out to untie the letter; he doubted Malfoy lived so close that an owl could fly there and back in less than two hours. Did that mean the blond had been close to Privet Drive when he'd set off both letters? An image of the Slytherin sitting with his legs crossed on his broom over a brightly lit Muggle street, tapping his fingers impatiently on his arm as he waited for a response formed in Harry's mind and he chuckled softly. The smile only grew bigger when he took out the blonde's letter; it was a proper letter this time, not the simple statement of the last one.

Dear Potter,

I have grudgingly decided to accept your offer of friendship, but only when we're not around anyone else. If any other students are near, I'm still going to act like I despise you.

Harry nodded briefly as he read this; he'd been planning to do that as well. The rest of the letter seemed to be nothing but unimportant things that had been going on in Malfoy's life, but to Harry, it meant a lot to read it. It meant Malfoy meant what he said.


The next couple of weeks were quite pleasant for Harry. Spurred on by the newly formed truce, both he and Draco (the blonde had started signing his letters like this about a week after the truce was formed) opened up more and after a while, the letters could have been mistaken for those written by two people who had been friends for years. Even the insults started fading from their words. Harry was only further enticed to keep writing, and in that friendly manner, because he knew he was doing something the Dursleys had forbidden right under their noses and they had no clue. His days started to slip into a sort of schedule: wake up and make breakfast, spend the day doing what Aunt Petunia wanted so she wouldn't punish him any more than usual, wait until the Dursleys were asleep so he could work on homework, receive a letter from Draco and write one in return, and then go to bed.

And then came his birthday.

He was absolutely shocked when he got the presents his friends had sent, and held them in just as much esteem as Draco's letters. It was...surreal, almost, to have his birthday so acknowledged, especially after twelve years of being almost completely ignored. He found he was slightly disappointed that Draco hadn't given him anything before he realized that he'd never told the blond when his birthday was, nor did Draco seem the type to give him anything anyway. They might have formed a truce and even friendship, but that didn't mean Draco would care about his birthday.


Harry grumbled angrily as he stepped into his bedroom and over to the bed, glaring over at the door when he could still hear Aunt Marge's drunken laughter from downstairs. He noticed Hedwig's absence with a faint tinge of loneliness; she would always comfort him if he came upstairs upset, like she did the morning he wrote down his life's story for Draco–

Draco. Harry groaned softly; he'd almost forgotten that he'd be getting another letter from the other boy tonight, since he hadn't known last night that he'd have to act like a Muggle for a week. As much as he still looked forward to seeing Thiassi again and reading the Slytherin's wry words, getting Uncle Vernon to sign his Hogsmede permission form was extremely important to him. Also, if he were allowed to go to the village, he and Draco could hang out occasionally; this would be much harder to do within the school.

Harry got up to go wait by the window so Thiassi wouldn't have to peck at the window, therefore making noise, to get in. It was lucky he did, too, because almost as soon as he'd opened the window, the eagle owl in question flew inside. Thiassi looked mildly confused when he saw that Hedwig's cage was no longer in the room and finally landed on one of the bedposts instead, looking curiously up at Harry.

"Sorry, Thiassi, this is probably the last time I'll be seeing you for a few days," Harry said as he sat down next to the owl. "I have to act like a Muggle for a week."

Thiassi hooted sympathetically and held his leg out to Harry for him to take the letter, and large package, tied there.

Harry just stared at the package in disbelief for a few moments until a soft hoot from Thiassi got him moving again. Numbly, he untied the letter and package from the owl's leg, noting vaguely that it was a fairly heavy package. The letter proved to actually be a birthday card with an image of a Quidditch game (one that looked suspiciously like a match between their two Houses) with the players darting about as he watched. The inside of the card was not, as he thought it might be, completely covered but a good deal of the right side had text over it.

Dear Harry,

Bet you didn't know I knew when your birthday is, did you? At least, I think I'm right about it being today. It'll be close, anyway.

I thought you might find part of this present useful this year, and maybe even for your homework during the summer. It's amazing; only a month until holidays are over. It feels like we just got out of school.

Did you see the news this morning? I can't believe Black escaped; we all thought it was impossible. Father is fuming right now, though I expect it's the same for most people; it's almost frightening to think that Sirius Black is on the loose.

How are the Muggles treating you? They haven't forced you to wash your own dishes or cut your hair recently, have they? I was forced to have a haircut yesterday; personally, I'd rather have it a little long. Ah well, just four more years until we're adults, eh?

Actually hoping you'll enjoy your present, I suppose,

Draco

P.S. Like the card? I saw it and thought of our Quidditch matches, so I just had to get it for you. I though you'd appreciate it; I know you love Quidditch as much as I do.

Harry wasn't sure what to think when he was done reading and just went on to open his present without really thinking over the card. He peeled off the brown paper to reveal wrapping paper unlike anything he'd seen before; it was bottle green like his eyes with Snitches flying all over it. Harry rather enjoyed the wrapping paper, so he was careful not to damage it too much as he tore it open; three items fell out. One was a box of Honeydukes' chocolate–Harry wasn't at all sure what Honeydukes was at first, but it didn't matter since the chocolate was excellent. The second item was a thin blue book entitled A Player's Guide to the Quidditch Teams of Britain and Ireland. The third item–

"Potions 101?" Harry read aloud incredulously. He sighed and shook his head with amusement as he set the book aside. "Thanks, Malfoy. I'm not that bad at Potions."

Harry had to admit though, however grudgingly, as he flipped through the Potions book, that it would be extremely useful when he was writing his essay for Snape. And the book on Quidditch teams looked extremely fascinating. 'Unfortunately,' he thought as he put the two books away and pulled out his quill and spiral notebook, 'I just can't enjoy them until next week. I'll miss writing to Draco.'

He sighed softly as he started writing, popping a piece of chocolate into his mouth occasionally. Eventually, he tied the letter to Thiassi's leg and waved the owl off, watching him go with a slightly sad expression. 'Just six more days...'

Dear Draco,

Thanks. I really appreciate the book.

No really; it was a nice thought, and you're right; it's really going to help with that essay. And the other book is awesome; it's going to be falling apart by the end of the year.

By the way, how the hell do you know my birthday!

Anyway, I hate to tell you this, but we can't write to each other for at least a week. My uncle's sister is here for a week and the only way I'll be able to go to Hogsmede this year is if I act like a Muggle while she's here. That means no late night homework sessions and no owl post. I'm sorry, and I really hate this, but it's what I have to do.

I'll write to you with Hedwig when it's safe to start up again.

I'll miss writing to you,

Harry

P.S. That is such an awesome card! I'm definitely keeping it out, no matter how Mugglish I'm suppose to be acting.


Dear Draco,

The coast is clear! We can write each other again, and you'll never believe what happened to make it possible!

I blew up my aunt...sort of. She was putting down my parents, so I lost control of my magic, and all of a sudden, she was inflating like a balloon and floating near the ceiling. It's hilarious now that I look back on it. I didn't even get expelled! I met the Minister of Magic too!

I'm staying at the Leaky Cauldron now until it's time to go to King's Cross to catch the train, and I can explore Diagon as much as I want. Maybe we can meet up sometime before most of the other students show up?

Oh, and I can use Hedwig now, so we can give Thiassi a break if you like.

Eagerly awaiting your letter,

Harry

P.S. One bad thing to note: I can't go to Hogsmede this year. My uncle didn't sign the permission form, and I couldn't persuade Minister Fudge to sign it either. You'll just have to tell me about it when you go.


Dear Harry,

Did you really blow up your aunt? That's so brilliant! I wish I could blow up a couple of my relatives, but father would probably kill me if I did.

I'm going to be fairly busy for a week or so, so I can't come to Diagon anytime soon. I'll probably be there next week sometime. How about I come find you and we can hang out for the day. It'll save you the trouble of wasting time you could be using for homework (which I'm sure you desperately need).

I can't wait to see more of your owl; she really is quite beautiful.

Keep writing; it takes my mind off of how boring father's friends are,

Draco

P.S. What do you mean you're not allowed to come to Hogsmede! Can't you...wait never mind; I expect the teachers have put charms on the forms so you can't forge a signature. I'll figure something out for you; you have to be allowed to come. Even you–no, especially you–should have the experience. Maybe you could talk to McGonagall and explain what happened? She is your head of House; I know Prof. Snape would make an exception for any of us.


Harry sighed softly as he flipped through Potions 101, faintly annoyed that he was actually using the book, but he'd certainly rather suck up his pride than get a weeks worth of detentions when he got back to school. He would have to thank Draco in person later; the book was actually extremely useful. He smiled faintly as he found the passage he was looking for and read over it, pausing every so often to add a couple of sentences to his essay.

"Good to see my gift is being put to use after all."

Harry started violently, nearly overturning his inkwell onto his new book and essay; only a pale hand reaching down to grasp his own stopped his hand from drawing a long line on the parchment. He glared back at the now laughing figure behind him as soon as he'd calmed a bit, trying not to blush because his hand was still being held.

"Malfoy!" he exclaimed indignantly. "Don't sneak up on me like that! You could've messed up my essay!"

"Oops, sorry," Draco said as he moved away from Harry to sit opposite him; he didn't sound at all sincere.

"I'm sure," Harry grumbled, annoyed.

Draco just smirked and picked up Harry's essay, look it over as he asked, "How have you been? The Muggles didn't do anything to you while you couldn't write, did they?"

"Not my aunt and uncle, no. Aunt Marge, though..." Harry trailed off suggestively as he started gathering up his things. When Draco didn't answer, he looked up at the other boy and nearly laughed at the expression on his pale face. Draco had on a rather uncharacteristic grimace and he winced every so often as he read. Harry wasn't sure whether he really should laugh or just be offended.

"Merlin, you really suck at Potions, don't you?" the blond commented sourly when he felt Harry's eyes on him. "I mean, I knew you were bad–that's why I gave you that book–but this bad...?"

"Come off it, Draco," Harry muttered as he snatched his essay back and rolled it up. He sent a mild glare at the other boy as he stood up, which the Slytherin didn't seem to notice, and gathered his books into one pile so they'd be easier to carry. "I have to put my stuff up in my room. Are you going to wait here or come with me?"

Draco waved him off with a lazy hand, already looking off somewhere else to see if a waiter was around. "I'll wait here. You'd better hurry; I'm going to order us ice cream, but I'll eat yours if you take too long."

Harry laughed softly and dashed off so he wouldn't have to find out whether the blond would go through with his threat, nearly running into someone as he went. He never noticed the pair of silver eyes that had returned their gaze to him as he left.


When Harry returned, Draco was already halfway through a sundae he seemed to be greatly enjoying and another was waiting patiently for the brunet at his seat. He grinned and plopped down onto the bench, digging into his ice cream with zeal. After a couple minutes, though, he got the distinct feeling he was being watched and looked up only to look gazes with a pair of pale eyes across the table.

"What?" he asked uneasily, unsure exactly why Malfoy was watching him like that.

Draco just smirked and returned to his ice cream, murmuring a soft, "It's nothing."

Harry gazed at him suspiciously, the fact that this was Draco Malfoy finally hitting him. It was odd; he really didn't act like the Draco Malfoy he'd come to know and love at Hogwarts, and he was ever more convinced that this was the real one and the one at school was just a mask he put on for others. He had a few doubts though; what if it was the other way around and this was the mask, the masquerade, and he was only pretending to be Harry's friend because his father had told him to so the brunet would grow to trust him before being killed mercilessly.

Draco really didn't seem the type to do something like that, however, not matter what he acted like most of the time, nor did he look like it either. His white-blond hair was long enough now that it hung in front of his eyes a bit and was tucked behind his ears on the sides and yet was still fairly neat, unlike Harry's unruly locks. Draco's skin was extremely pale, even more so than before the summer it seemed, like he had never spent any time in the sun, but because it was so pale, his skin seemed to glow a bit in the sun light. He also held himself rather straight-backed and stiff even while eating, something Harry had noticed at school; a stance that clearly proclaimed, 'I'm rich and I'm a pureblood; you should be bowing at my feet.' He couldn't see the blonde's pale eyes now, since they were looking at the bowl on ice cream, but Harry had seem earlier that they were silvery gray, deeper than at the end of term, and seemed to have golden sparkles throughout the iris; and they were still as unreadable as ever when Draco wanted it, but incredibly expressive when that was needed.

"Now you're staring at me."

Harry jumped and looked away with a light flush at Draco voice, slightly embarrassed that he'd been caught staring like he had been. He could tell the Slytherin was probably laughing silently at him, and that thought only made him blush worse than before.

"Now what are you thinking about?"

Harry looked up again at the tone Draco had used, both playful and condescending at once. Draco had a pale eyebrow raised in expectation of an answer, his eyes sparkling maliciously.

"N-nothing," Harry answered, mentally berating himself for stuttering. Draco's face broke into an impish grin and he leaned slightly across the table so only Harry would hear what he said.

"You know, Harry, if you really wanted that, you could have told me ages ago. I would have come and saved you from your relatives."

Harry blushed slightly merely at how the words had been said, eyeing Draco with confusion since he really had no idea what the other boy meant. Draco just gave him a cryptic smirk and pushed his empty bowl away, his demeanor instantly changing to his usual, bored look.

"Come on, Harry, hurry up," he ordered, sounding very much like Hogwarts-Draco. "I want to look around before nightfall."

The brunet rolled his eyes but began eating faster anyway.


"Hey, did you see the Firebolt?" Draco asked a bit later as they walked slowly through the busy street.

Harry smirked at him, his eyes plainly showing that he thought Draco was an idiot to ask. "Of course. Wanna go look at it again? I haven't gone to look today yet."

"Do you even have to ask?" Draco answered with a return grin. They looked at each other in a moment of complete understanding before dashing off down the street toward the Quidditch shop.


"She's so beautiful," Draco murmured breathily as he and Harry stood before the podium that held the shiny Firebolt, Harry almost pressed up against the invisible barrier that kept them about a metere away.

"Why don't you just buy it?" Harry asked, sounding both curious and faintly annoyed. "You're rich; you could." Of course, he had his own money and probably could buy the magnificent broom if he chose, but then he would probably be a poor as the Weasleys.

Draco snorted softly; obviously he thought this as well. "Do you have any idea how much it costs? It's nearly as much as all of the brooms my father bought the Slytherin team last year combined. My father would never let me buy it while I still have a perfectly good broom. I wish I could buy it though..."

"I know; me too." Harry smiled back at him, wondering faintly if it was this easy for them to get along why they hadn't done it ages ago. Then he remembered that that was mostly his fault and stood up straighter, hardly noticing the expression on Draco's face when the blond looked over at him.

"Draco," Harry said softly, a soft frown on his face. "Why did you accept my friendship?" This had been bugging Harry since it had happened, but he hadn't risked asking before now in case Draco decided to change his mind about their new alliance.

The blond was silent for a while, until Harry thought he might have to repeat himself, but he finally asked in return, "Why did you offer it?"

This time it was Harry's turn to be silent as he thought, but when he did respond, he was being truthful. "When I read your letter about what your life was like, it seemed like the worst thing that had happened to you was my turning down your friendship–"

"So it was pity," Draco stated darkly, his arms crosses in front of his chest. Harry blinked, realizing he'd made a bit of a mistake, and held his hands up in a defensive pose.

"No, no, you didn't let me finish. I was going to say, it made me feel really bad that I'd hurt you like that; I hate it when people hurt because of me. So I thought that if I offered you that friendship again, you wouldn't be hurting so much because of me anymore." Harry blushed lightly as he spoke and added hastily, "Of course, you're a really interesting person to talk to, so I would have asked eventually anyway. I liked writing to you, and it didn't really seem like you hated me all that much, even at the beginning."

He glanced nervously at Draco, who had turned away to look at the expensive broom again. The blond Slytherin had a slight frown on his face, as though he wasn't sure what to do about the situation. Harry sighed softly and looked away himself, not wanting to be caught staring again. He was sure he'd just messed things up between them again, and they'd been having such a good time with each other, too.

"I never really hated you."

Harry looked up in surprise when he heard the drawling voice, but Draco hadn't looked over. Instead, he seemed to speak to the broom as he continued, "But you're right; it did hurt when you rejected my hand. I knew why you did it, and I knew it was my fault, but it still hurt. And I just took that out on you, even though some of those times I provoked you, I had really wanted to ask again. So I never really hated you; I just made myself, and everyone else, think I did."

He slowly turned his gaze on the brunet, and Harry saw that his eyes were a very pretty, clear silver, very unlike anything he'd seen before. Draco suddenly smirked and turned away from the broom, and Harry, completely, heading for the door.

"Come on, Potter, we need to go buy you some owl treats."

Harry groaned softly and ran a hand though his hair in frustration before dashing after him; why couldn't Draco just stick with one mood?


Draco groaned with boredom as he watched Harry hurry to finish the Potions essay, though his eyes were trained on the bit of tongue sticking out of the side of the brunet's mouth as he tried to think of something clever to write. That seemed to be a habit the brunet boy had; Draco had seen him do it countless times in Potions when he couldn't figure something out. It matched Harry's personality rather well, now that he thought about it. He wondered vaguely if Harry even did it during Quidditch matches; that would be an interesting thing to see.

"Hey, Draco?"

Harry's voice snapped him back to reality and he almost blushed when he realized he'd been staring. He didn't though, because Malfoys did not blush, but he did look away quickly from Harry's face only to see that the essay was nowhere in sight.

"Finished it, then?" he asked coolly, referring to the missing piece of parchment. Harry gained an odd look on his face, telling him that maybe he'd said the wrong thing.

"Uh, yeah, I told you that ten minutes ago, before I went and put my books back in my room," the brunet said slowly. "Are you okay?"

Draco frowned at him, his eyes narrowing slightly. "Of course I'm okay? What would make you think otherwise?"

"Well, you didn't answer when I was talking to you or move while I was gone. And you were staring at me again."

Draco paled a little at this; yes, he had been staring...again. And this was the third time he'd been caught in five days. He'd been staring at Harry a lot lately and he wasn't at all sure why, so he was really starting to hate himself for not being able to stop. He'd usually stop himself before he got caught, and yell at himself afterward, but even so, he just started staring again later. He didn't know why he couldn't stop, but it was really starting to annoy him.

"Maybe I was just so bored waiting for you to finish, I fell asleep with my eyes open. Did you think of that?" Draco snapped back, though he was more irritated at himself than at Harry. Harry recoiled slightly and looked away, and Draco was instantly a bit sorry, but he couldn't take it back now. After a moment, Harry sighed and stood up, placing a Galleon down on the table as a tip; neither of them actually needed to pay for their ice cream–Harry because of who he was, and Draco because he was with Harry.

"Let's go look around for a bit," Harry said, running his fingers through his dark hair; Draco had noticed he did that a lot, too.

"That essay was the last of your homework, wasn't it?" Draco asked as he too stood up, not leaving a tip himself since Malfoys did not leave tips.

"Yeah," Harry answered with a relieved smile. "Now we have five days of freedom without homework or teachers or–"

"Other students?" Draco interrupted with a smirk. Harry blushed lightly and shrugged.

"Yeah, them."

"You know other students are going to start showing up," Draco went on as they started walking. "I've already seen a few of your Gryffindor friends walking around buying school supplies."

Harry sighed heavily, shoving his hands into his pockets. "Yeah, so have I. I wish they wouldn't though; it puts us at risk of being seen together."

"And you so wish you could be alone with me, don't you Potter?"

"Ah…maybe not…alone alone. But without anyone that goes to Hogwarts maybe."

Draco chuckled softly at the blush that was suddenly covering Harry's cheeks but forced himself to look away when he caught himself starting to stare again. Yes, just five more days until they had to head for the school train, and the Mudblood and the Weasel would be arriving in Diagon any day now, stealing away all of Harry's attention. And then at school they would hardly be able to see each other at all, because of the curfew and their reputations. For a few days however, they could pretend that they had always been friends; for a few days, they could ignore the rest of the world.

"Hey Harry," Draco began as his legs stopped and he turned to the brunet. "Could we have a…sleepover tonight? Is that what that's called?"

Harry looked at him with surprise, cocking his head slightly. "You mean when one person stays the night at his friend's house and they stay up and talk and things like that?"

"Yes, exactly."

"You want to have a sleepover with me?"

Draco sighed heavily, looking faintly annoyed. "Yes, Potter, I want to have a sleepover with you. Is that so hard to understand? We'll be able to spend more time together before school starts that way."

"I've never been part of a sleepover before," Harry said with a slightly dazed voice, his eyes trained on Draco's shoes.

"Neither have I; it'll be an experience for both of us, won't it?"

Harry smiled and looked up at Draco with clear green eyes that were sparkling with happiness. "Yeah, let's have one. We can stay up all night."

Draco grinned, though he wasn't quite meeting Harry's eyes. "Excellent. But you know, we'll have to have ice cream brought up to us occasionally. This is, after all, a historical moment."

"Yeah, who would possibly imagine Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy having a friendly sleepover?" Harry said with a laugh as they started walking again. "We might be able to get Mr. Fortescue to agree, but he'll probably charge us, and you'd have to pay."

"Hey! Why me?"

"Because it was your idea."

"But he gives you free ice cream," Draco protested, his voice soft so no one would overhear. "Why would we have to pay at all?"

Harry gave the blond a slightly reproachful look that showed he thought Draco was being stupid again. "Well, I know that if I were asked to deliver ice cream to a couple boys in the middle of the night, I would charge for it, even if it was for 'the Boy Who Lived'."

Draco sighed dramatically if just for affect; he really did agree with Harry and wasn't actually all that averse to paying if it would get them ice cream in the middle of the night. "Fine, I'll pay. But we have to go ask him now," he conceded, grabbing Harry's arm the steer him around the other way.

Harry laughed again as he let himself be led. "All right."


Draco sighed softly as he looked over at the sleeping face so near his own. Draco had flat out refused to sleep on the floor, and he wouldn't let Harry either, for some reason or another, so they'd decided–or rather, Draco had threatened to leave if Harry didn't let it happen–that since there was only one bed, they would both have to sleep in it. The blond really didn't mind it so much now; Harry had fallen asleep around three, but he himself was still wide awake and he could stare at the brunet as much as he liked now.

Draco let out a soft sigh and rolled onto his back, staring up at the ceiling, though he didn't really see it. It was...well, wonderful, to be Harry's friend. He'd been envious of the Mudblood and Weasel for a rather good reason. He very much wished that school would never come and he could hang out with Harry every day in Diagon, and have sleepovers and free ice cream and not have to worry about how his reputation would be ruined and how angry his father would be. But that just wasn't life, and he only had these couple of days before they had to fight with one another again.

With another sign, Draco rolled over again so he was facing out into the room and close his eyes, planning to fall asleep. He would just have to make sure the few days the spent together now were as great as this one.