A/N: This is my first "real" attempt at Harry/Draco slash. Written for Sansa, who had a hankering for a non-magic AU featuring a protective!Draco and a shy!Harry who knew each other as children. Let me warn you now: Many of these characters are, in fact, out of character. I know it, They are intentionally written that way, and well, that's all I have to say on the subject. Hopefully, that will not deter you from reading. Also, I am well aware that Draco's birthday is in June—I've had to alter that slightly for story purposes. Happy reading!
Thanks to Sansa who is a selfless beta and wonderful friend.
Pesky legal disclaimer: The wonderful world of Harry Potter belongs to J.K.R., her assigns, agents, licensees and all others to whom she grants her wonderful dispensation. Sadly, I am not on that list, nor do ever expect to be. I write this purely for fun and guilty pleasure and make no money from this.
Now, as is often said, "On with the show . . ."
CHAPTER 1: TALES OF THE WALRUS, HORSE, WHALE AND LION
Draco Malfoy was a curious boy. Alarmingly so, even for an eight-year-old. He was forever digging holes searching for treasure, spying on neighbors he was sure were really pirates in disguise, and going through the mail—his and his neighbors'—looking for anything that might catch his eye. So, it was with no surprise that from the moment he'd heard a low-pitched rumble, he'd scrambled to his feet to investigate.
A brightly colored moving lorry came into view as it rumbled down the street. Fascinated, Draco secreted himself behind the privet hedge in his front yard so that he could observe undetected. The lorry stopped in front of the house next door. It was then that Draco realized that old Mr. Culpepper had finally moved away. Draco was pleased. Mr. Culpepper had been extraordinarily boring. He never got anything in the mail that seemed the least bit interesting and he never went outside.
A car pulled in behind the lorry several minutes later and out came the strangest lot of characters Draco had ever seen. There was a man, a woman and a boy. A family, Draco supposed. The father was a large, round man that waddled like a duck and had a mustache and set jaw that reminded Draco of a walrus. Then, there was a horse-faced woman. She was tall and spindly and seemed the type to always be cross. The boy looked remarkably like the father, though shorter. He was squinty-eyed and seemed to take great pleasure in sneering. He was clearly older than Draco, as well as substantially larger. That put Draco off right away.
Draco watched as the walrus-man quickly set about directing the moving men. He was rather derisive in his comments, Draco thought. He huffed and puffed and preened nastily. The horse-faced woman had just sniffed and resettled her sweater over her shoulders as she whispered undoubtedly wicked things about the moving men to the walrus man. The little walrus, or whale as Draco had begun to think of him, delighted in playing mean tricks, causing the moving men to falter and nearly break the "priceless" treasures they were moving. Not liking what he'd seen, Draco started to turn back to his game of pretend when he saw a tuft of black hair hidden behind a large, tatty box make its way round the lorry. It was another boy! Edging closer, Draco watched the boy struggle with an over-large and obviously over-heavy box. The box slipped from the boy's grasp and landed with a solid thump on the ground. The boy was small—smaller than Draco, even—and his clothes were overlarge and threadbare. His hair was black as pitch and fell about his head like a wild, shaggy mane. He was pale and dreadfully thin. But, there was something about him. Something that made Draco want to step forward and say hello. One of the moving men stopped to help the little black-haired boy, but was quickly set back to work by the walrus man. Draco assumed the little boy was the son of one of the movers, there to help for the day. But then, the walrus man spoke, and it was clear that this little boy somehow belonged to the walrus man, horse-faced woman and whale boy.
"Boy!" the walrus man snapped, "Mind your work! Pick up your things and be sharp about it. I'll not have insufferable little layabouts like you mucking up our move!"
The boy sighed and rubbed his wrists. "Yes, Uncle Vernon," he replied softly.
The walrus, horse and whale all sneered in the little black-haired boy's direction before turning on their heels and entering their new house. The door closed behind them sharply, leaving the boy all alone. The little black-haired boy sighed again and leaned over the box, trying to grasp it more firmly so that he could heave it into his small arms. Draco edged closer, but for all of his curiosity and talk of treasure hunting, he was afraid to say hello. In the end, he simply watched the little black-haired boy gather up the box and slowly trudge up the walk.
Once the door to old Mr. Culpepper's house clicked closed, Draco immediately ran back to his house. With a slam of the back door, he scampered into the kitchen. "Mum! Mum!" he called, hopping up and down with excitement.
Narcissa Malfoy glided into the kitchen, a serene smile on her face. "Must you scream, Draco?" she admonished lightly, "I do believe the Johnsons could hear you all the way down the street. And what have I told you about slamming the back door?"
Ignoring her, Draco rushed through his exciting tale about the new family next door. " . . . and there's another little boy, Mum. A little black-haired boy. Smaller than me! He was carrying a great big box all by himself and the walrus--"
"How many times must I tell you," Narcissa chastised, "we do not refer to people as animals."
Draco rolled his eyes, upset that his mum had interrupted his story. "But listen, Mum. The little boy, the little black-haired boy, he's nothing like the rest of them. He seems nice. I'm going to make him my friend!"
Narcissa chuckled and pulled Draco into a hug. "You are, are you? Did you say hello?" she asked hopefully.
Draco tried to wiggle away from his mother's affection—he was eight, after all, and much too old for hugs. "Not yet. I've more investigation to do first," he hedged.
Narcissa's smile faltered. "I'm sure he's a very nice boy, Draco. We could say hello together. Bake some chocolate biscuits and take them over tomorrow. How does that sound?"
Draco pulled away and paced a bit and wrung his hands. "No," he said slowly. "I really do have to investigate more," he said softly, clearly not interested in meeting his new friend just yet.
Narcissa nodded shortly and sent Draco up for a bath. It was getting harder and harder to put off Draco's friends calling for summer play dates and parties. Even their parents were starting to wonder what was wrong, often asking Narcissa if Draco was feeling well. The Malfoy family was prominent and, given the events of last year, curiosity about the wealthy, beautiful family had increased ten-fold. Draco had not dealt well with the sudden spotlight.
The sudden, violent loss of his father a year ago had affected Draco more than anyone could have guessed. He'd withdrawn further and further into a solitary world of pretend. He had trouble making new friends and was easily intimidated by those bigger and louder than he. Though, finding someone louder was a difficult task.
It was Lucius's own fault that he was dead. He'd gotten greedy and had fallen in with a bad lot. When a business deal went pear-shaped, he'd been caught in the crossfire and was brutally murdered. The murder had shaken the small town. Everyone assumed that Lucius had been involved unwittingly. For her and her son's sake, Narcissa was hell-bent on keeping it that way. "Damn you, Lucius," she muttered as she got to her feet and started preparing dinner. He'd left his wife and his child to live with the shame of his actions and to soldier on without him. Days like today made it hard.
Draco was skulking about his prim backyard and hiding behind the wax myrtle as he watched the now familiar little black-haired boy dig about in the garden next door. He'd been watching his quarry for several weeks now—since he'd moved in. He was always in the garden. Working. Alone. The horse-faced woman—Aunt Petunia he'd heard her called—came out and said something sharp to the black-haired boy. That was all she seemed to do. Say sharp things. The black-haired boy merely nodded, as he always did. His eyes were downcast and furtive as he knelt in the flowerbed and continued weeding.
For three weeks, Draco had been investigating, observing. In all that time, nothing had given him any indication that the little black-haired boy was anything like the whale, the walrus or the horse. The boy's hair was as messy and wild as ever. It had grown on Draco. It reminded him a bit of the ragtag mane on his Leo the Lion plushy. Draco was enchanted. This boy, the little lion, for that was what Draco had decided he was, was the prettiest thing he'd ever seen. Beyond being small and adorably rumpled, his skin held the sweet flush of shyness. His eyes—greener than grass—sparkled when he smiled, though Draco found that his little lion rarely smiled.
In that moment, Draco decided that not only would this boy be his friend, but he would be his boy. He would play with Draco, do whatever Draco said and would never, never leave. In his mind, Draco and his boy had played hundreds of games, shared deep secrets and conspired together in numerous investigations.
He smiled as he heard the familiar tune the little boy hummed as he worked. Several minutes later, the little lion giggled when a butterfly landed on his hand. He slowly raised his hand and let the butterfly's wings catch in the sunlight. Draco thought he heard him talking to the butterfly—telling her how lovely she was and how much he wished he could fly away too. A second later, the butterfly flapped her wings and took off gently. In a fit of impulsiveness that Draco had never seen from him before, his little lion scrambled to his feet and chased the butterfly, laughing softly and smiling as he did so.
He gave chase for quite some time, eventually, darting out of view. Draco stepped closer to find him and inadvertently snapped a twig. The little lion abruptly stopped his chase and turned at the sound. Draco was caught. The boys stared at each other for several long moments.
Eventually, the little lion gave a fleeting glance towards his house and bit his lip before turning back to Draco. He took a few steps forward, moving closer to Draco. After a moment's hesitation, he gave a small smile and a little wave. "Hullo," he said softly.
Draco stepped forward as well. "Hullo," he said. "What's your name?" he asked, his head cocked to one side, dissecting his boy.
The boy gave another fleeting look at his new house. "Err, Harry. My name's Harry," he said, just as softly, just as shyly, as before.
Harry. Draco thought this name suited his new friend rather well. "Hi, Harry. I'm Draco," he said as he stepped closer, suddenly feeling bolder than he had in a long time. He was surprised when Harry stepped back nervously. He seemed awfully skittish—not very lion-ish at all. Perhaps he was a cowardly lion, then? That suited Draco just fine. He liked being the protector.
Draco stepped forward slowly. "It's okay," Draco said as if talking to one of the wild rabbits he often found on his godfather's property, "I'm not trying to hurt you." Surely that's what Harry thought Draco meant to do. After all, Draco was bigger than Harry and bigger children hurt smaller ones. Draco smiled reassuringly and was instantly warmed when Harry smiled back.
The back door to Mr. Culpepper's house slammed. "Boy," Aunt Petunia snapped, "Where are you?"
Harry sighed and automatically turned back towards the house. After a few steps, Harry hazarded a quick glance back at Draco, smiled shyly, and waved goodbye.
Draco nearly crowed in triumph as he waved back.
"Mum! Mu-um!" Draco cried as he scampered in the back door, letting it slam behind him.
"Draco, mind the door," Narcissa said.
"Guess what, guess what, guess what!" he said while jumping up and down.
"What's gotten into you, my dragon," Narcissa said with a laugh, delighted that anything could make him so happy.
"I spoke to Harry!" Draco said in a dramatic stage whisper, his eyes glittering with unsuppressed excitement.
"Who is Harry, love?" Narcissa asked, somewhat confused.
"The little boy next door. You know, my friend!"
"You did? Why, that's wonderful Draco. What did you two talk about?"
"We said hello. That's all we had time for. His aunt called for him. She's not very nice."
"Draco, don't speak ill of the neighbors."
"Well, she isn't. I'm just telling the truth."
Narcissa shook her head, chuckled, and changed the subject. "Well, tell me all about your new friend, then. Shall we make biscuits for him? Take them over?"
Draco bit his lip. "Not just yet. He's really, really shy, Mum. He's more shy than me, I think."
Narcissa's eyebrows shot up at Draco's perceptiveness. It was likely unintentional, but it made his new friend sound all the more intriguing. "Then you should talk to him more. Make him feel better."
"I will. Thanks, Mum." Draco hugged his mother impulsively before running up the stairs to his room. Narcissa smiled, glad that today was a good day. A very good day.
"I've decided we should be friends," Draco announced with a haughty expression as he stepped tentatively into Mr. Culpepper's backyard and plopped down beside Harry. Eventually, he'd have to start thinking of it as Harry's house. Harry's backyard.
Harry sat back on his heels and wiped his muddy hands on his trousers. His lips quirked in amusement. "You have, have you?"
Draco had become bolder since the day the boys had said hello. Under the guise of making Harry feel better and less skittish, he'd taken to following Harry around while he worked. Draco talked and talked and talked while Harry worked and listened. He couldn't believe his luck in finding someone as interested in his stories as he was.
Harry hesitated. He looked back at the house, like he always did. He bit his bottom lip. He seemed deep in thought. Finally, he turned back to Draco. "All right, then. Friends," he said softly.
Draco was thrilled. Harry was his friend, his boy. "Let's play, then," Draco said with a big smile. "I've dug a hole. Looking for treasure," he whispered, his gray eyes sparkling with excitement.
Harry smiled back, his own green eyes sparkling with conspiracy. He started to say something, but was cut off by the shrill voice of Aunt Petunia.
"Boy! Where are you? What are you doing?" she said from the door.
Harry winced. "I've got to go, Draco. I'll see you soon."
Draco nodded, sad that he'd gotten to spend so little time with his friend. He trudged back to his house, allowed the back door to close gently behind him and sat heavily at the kitchen table. He wanted to play with Harry! All Harry seemed to do was work in that awful garden.
"Draco? What's wrong, love," Narcissa asked as she came into the kitchen and saw a dejected Draco slumped at the table.
"Harry couldn't play with me," he said petulantly.
"Oh, I see," Narcissa said. "Perhaps he's not allowed to play with anyone until his relatives meet his friends. Have you said hello to his aunt?"
Draco shuddered at the thought. "No," he said in low tones. But, that gave him an idea. "Mum!" he cried as he scrambled to his feet. "Can we make them chocolate biscuits and take them over and say hello and everything? You could talk to Harry's aunt and make her let him stay with me. Then, he could play with me all of the time!"
"Slow down, my dragon, slow down! Of course we can make biscuits. We'll make them tonight and pop round tomorrow. How does that sound?"
Draco beamed. "Brilliant!"
The next day, Draco ran over to Harry's garden and plopped down where he was digging. "Mum is coming over soon!" he said conspiratorially.
Harry eyed him warily before returning to his work. "Why," he asked.
"To talk to your aunt. Maybe then she'll let you play with me!"
Harry sighed. This was not going to go well, he knew. It was better for everyone concerned if he and Draco didn't become friends. It's not like he'd ever had many or kept any. Why start now? He was about to open his mouth, when he heard the back door slam.
"Boy!" Aunt Petunia called.
Harry closed his eyes and winced. He was sure that she'd seen Draco. "Yes, Aunt Petunia?"
Draco was unprepared for what happened next. The horse grabbed Harry by the upper arm, pulled him up and dragged him away. Draco inhaled sharply when Harry yelped softly in surprise. He moved closer to hear what she was saying, not liking the way she shook him like a half-empty flour sack.
"How many times have I told you not to bother the neighbors," Aunt Petunia hissed between clenched teeth as she shook Harry even harder.
Draco could tell that she was hurting his friend, and when he saw a silent tear fall from Harry's eyes, he became very, very angry. It was his job to protect his little lion, after all. That's what bigger kids were supposed to do. His father had always told him that. "I talked to him," he said abruptly as he strode forward.
"I beg your pardon," Petunia said as she looked down at Draco, her hand now holding Harry's arm at an awkward angle.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. I spoke to Harry. I said hello. He was just being nice. He's been keeping me company while he works in the garden. I didn't mean any harm."
Harry looked at Draco incredulously, as if no one had ever come to his defense before. He winced when the lady holding him squeezed viciously before letting go. "Sorry, Aunt Petunia," he muttered mournfully.
Petunia surveyed Harry critically before turning her attention to Draco. "What is your name?"
A gleam came into Petunia Dursley's eyes. "Indeed?" she questioned softly. "Is your mother about, boy?" she asked as she craned her neck to get a better view of Draco's immaculate garden.
As if on cue, Narcissa Malfoy's voice floated over the wax myrtle. "Draco? Where are you? I thought you were going to wait for me," she called out. Narcissa glided elegantly into the backyard searching for Draco. "Oh," she said in surprise at the sight of Harry and Petunia.
Harry nearly gasped at the sight of Mrs. Malfoy. He'd never seen someone so beautiful. Well, except for the ginger haired lady he sometimes saw in his dreams. Mrs. Malfoy's pale blonde hair fell in soft waves and her blue-gray eyes were kind and intelligent. She was elegantly dressed in smart clothes that weren't nearly as fussy as Aunt Petunia's. She was holding a tray of some sort piled with something that looked suspiciously like chocolate biscuits.
"Hello," Narcissa began, "You must be our new neighbors. I'm Narcissa Malfoy and this is my son, Draco," she said gesturing towards Draco who had moved to Harry's side and glared at Petunia. "I hope he isn't being a bother," Narcissa continued, noticing the strange look her son was giving their new neighbor, "He's a very curious child and has enjoyed visiting here. I've been terribly remiss in coming over to say hello. Draco and I have baked you some biscuits, to say welcome."
Narcissa held out the tray to Petunia who nearly tripped over her feet in her haste to take it. She shoved the tray in Harry's hands and hissed at him to take them inside.
"It's so nice to meet you," Petunia gushed. "I'm Mrs. Petunia Dursley. We're in the process of getting settled, as you can see. I don't know who lived in our home before, but obviously they let the garden go to ruin." Petunia sniffed disdainfully before leaning in conspiratorially, thinking she was winning points with the elegant Mrs. Malfoy. "I will, of course, be getting it up to appropriate standards immediately." She leaned in further, causing Narcissa to step back slightly. "We've got to show everyone in the neighborhood what's expected," she said softly, with a vicious bite.
"Oh," Narcissa said, bewildered by Mrs. Dursley's rudeness. Searching about for something to say, her eyes found Harry as he returned from inside. He was adorable and just as Draco had described him; small, rumpled and shy. He moved quietly and with caution, she noticed. She also noticed that his clothes were oversized and worn; completely unlike Mrs. Dursley's well-fitted, fashionable attire. When he finally joined them, she could tell he was nervous. Narcissa bent down, a warm smile alighting her face. "And who is this then," she said gently, amused when Draco pulled the smaller boy to him.
"This is Harry," Draco announced, completely ignoring Harry's shocked expression at being pulled towards Draco. "He's my friend. The one I've been telling you about," Draco said proudly.
Narcissa bit back a chuckle. Poor Harry had no idea what he'd gotten himself into, Narcissa thought. She stuck out her hand and said seriously, "Well, Harry. It's lovely to meet you."
Harry hesitated. But, with Draco's prodding, took Narcissa's hand and shook it quickly before darting back into place. "It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Malfoy," he murmured shyly.
Narcissa was enchanted. And, if the expression on her son's face was anything to go by, so was he. Yes, Harry had no idea what he'd signed on for in being Draco's friend. Regardless, though, he brought out the best in Draco, and Narcissa was glad for it. Narcissa stood, smoothing the front of her pants as she did so. "Your nephew is quite lovely, Mrs. Dursley. He must be an absolute delight."
Petunia looked horror stricken at the compliment.
Neither Narcissa nor Draco noticed that Harry rolled his eyes and sighed softly.
Narcissa continued, not understanding Petunia's expression. "Draco would like for Harry to spend the night on frequent occasion. Tomorrow, in fact. Also, I know he'd love it if Harry could come over and play during the day. I can assure you that he'd be quite safe. It's just Draco and me, so nothing to overwhelm him. Besides, it would give you a chance to do some of your own gardening. From what I hear, little Harry has been stealing all of your gardening time." Narcissa laughed lightly. Petunia forced herself to follow suit. "I just love spending time in the garden, don't you? And now, you'll have the chance."
Petunia struggled with what to say. Through the gossip on the street, she'd already learned that Narcissa Malfoy was the most important person in the neighborhood. It was important for Petunia to make a good impression. But, in order to do that, she was going to have to let Harry leave the house. For prolonged periods of time. To have fun, from the sounds of it. Eventually, her pride and social avarice won. "Yes, I think that would be fine," she said with saccharine sweetness. "Harry is so much more . . . immature than our son Dudley. And, Dudley, like most little boys, plays a bit rough—too much for little Harry here. Though, I daresay that he and Draco would get on quite well. Nevertheless, I agree that it might be good for Harry to spend time with a new friend."
Harry watched all of this in shock. He couldn't believe that his Aunt Petunia was actually going to let him spend time with the Malfoys. In their last house, he'd barely been let out of the cupboard under the stairs.
"Can he come tonight?" Draco asked excitedly.
"Draco," Narcissa admonished. "You can play tomorrow. I'm sure his aunt won't mind." Narcissa said lightly.
"Yes, of course," Petunia said with a tight smile. She deflated in the face of losing her source of free labor in the garden. But, the potential social gain more than made up for it. For some inexplicable reason, Narcissa's son, just as beautiful and elegant as his mother, had taken a liking to Harry, a scruffy, rag-a-muffin little urchin. Well, that would have to change. But for now, she would simply have to allow it.
"Wonderful," Narcissa said. "See you tomorrow, Harry. Come over whenever you'd like. In fact, join us for breakfast. I'm making Draco's favorite—chocolate chip pancakes—there's always plenty to share."
Harry looked up and over to his aunt, who nodded primly, before saying thank you and that he'd like that very much.
Petunia and Harry watched as Narcissa and Draco walked back to their house, Draco chattering about his newest attempt to find treasure. Once Petunia heard their door close, she rounded on Harry and grabbed his shoulders, her nails digging in as she did so. Ignoring his whine of protest, she shook him hard. "You are NOT to say anything about what goes on in our home, do you understand me, boy? Nothing!"
Harry knew exactly what she meant and nodded mutely, swallowing thickly.
"Good," she snapped before releasing his shoulders. "Now, get to your chores and be quick about it," she barked before turning on her heel and stalking to the house.
Harry sighed and returned to his weeding. He looked over at the Malfoy house and smirked when he saw a now familiar blonde head just poking out of the window. Draco was smiling at Harry and waving goodbye. Perhaps things would be different here, he thought, hopeful for the first time in a very long while.