AN: This is the end folks! I think I tied everything up pretty nicely without killing off anyone. Hurray for that.
- Thank u, Zoomi for being my beta!!!
It was nightfall by the time Harry managed to make it back to Hogwarts and it was no wonder he was tired after having such an eventful day, at least he had managed to survive through it.
Molly Weasley had been furious and appalled with her youngest son and punished him accordingly. The last time Harry had checked, he had still been petrified and bound in the attic until the situation could be resolved. His name on the Weasley family clock was understandably pointing toward mortal peril.
Currently, he was being led to the Headmaster's office by a very angry Minerva McGonagall. Not only had the Headmaster been unavailable when Molly had called, but he hadn't answered Minerva's summons either.
Harry silently followed behind his Head of House, contemplating how he had gotten to this point.
Sitting on the couch – waiting for Molly to finish her Floo call – Harry had been given time to think over what had happened only moments before.
He was still in shock over what had transpired. Hearing the stories of Ron's actions and living them with a clear mind were two different things Harry was coming to find out. While before he had been listening to an outsider's perspective, having lived through it – and remembering all of it – he now understood why Hermione had warned him against Ron.
He couldn't believe something like this had happened. Not only had he not seen any warning signs, but he was positive that Dumbledore had somehow had his hand in this madness.
Ron…he couldn't have been so far gone. We would have seen it; we could have helped him if that had been the case.
If he were to look at the situation as a whole, it was apparent that Ron had somehow been bottling up his emotions and then ignoring them altogether. That was the only logical explanation to his recent actions. Harry had been afraid of his best friend in those frightful moments. Afraid. He never thought he would associate that feeling with his best friend.
Harry couldn't drop the matter – it was understandable – and he wanted to get to the bottom of this little mystery. Dumbledore would know, he always knew.
Having been thinking of the old wizard, Harry was surprised out of his daze when the man appeared in their pathway.
"I'll take Harry now, Minerva," he said with a grim smile.
"Headmaster, I don't think that --"
He interrupted her, "I'm sorry I was not present when I was needed, I am here now. I shall take Harry the rest of the way. Goodnight, Minerva."
Her mouth pinched in an angry line. "Goodnight, Albus." She whirled around in a manner very reminiscent of Snape which left Harry blinking in surprise.
"Now then, I suppose you would like to speak with me, Harry?" Dumbledore interrupted his silent musings.
Snapping back to attention immediately, Harry's eyes narrowed of their own accord. "Yes, I would."
"Very well, follow me," Dumbledore said.
They didn't have very far to go, and soon Dumbledore was quietly saying the password and the gargoyle stepped aside.
"After you, Harry."
He glanced warily over his shoulder but stepped forward nonetheless and walked up the narrow staircase towards the Headmaster's office. The small wooden door he came across looked harmless but he had visited often enough to know that what lay beyond was often an unpleasant room.
It seems the only time I come here is when I'm being punished or told bad news. Harry's eyes roved about the room as he opened the door.
Harry was ushered forward into the office and he reluctantly sat in the only chair there was, which stood directly in front of the Headmaster's desk.
He'll not intimidate me with this little setup. Harry thought scathingly.
"I know you must be shaken up after such an experience, Harry. It truly wasn't my wish for you to go through that," Dumbledore said as he closed the door and slowly moved toward his own chair. "Molly told me what happened, and I am terribly sorry that I was not there to take you from the Burrow."
Harry stared at Fawkes and silently snorted at the Headmaster's words. I won't let him have the upper hand this time. He knows what's been going on, he must have figured out by now that I know as well.
"I trusted you," he said without preamble. "Despite everything you've put me through all my life; I still had that ounce of trust."
Dumbledore slowly sat across from the younger wizard, placing himself behind his large desk. "Harry, you must understand that I did what was necessary for our cause."
"Bullshit," Harry snapped as he pinned the Headmaster with a glare.
"Language, Harry," Dumbledore admonished.
"Fuck my language! This is a serious matter that concerns my life!" Harry yelled, leaning forward in his chair.
"I understand that, but you must look at things from my point of view."
"The view of a manipulative old bastard?" He scoffed. "I think not. I want to know why you've been pulling all these strings, Dumbledore," Harry said angrily as he stood and slammed his fist against the Headmaster's desk.
"It is precisely that attitude for which I was forced to take action," the Headmaster said smoothly. "Now sit."
Harry scowled, yet slowly sat down and leaned back. "What?"
"You are far too short-tempered, Harry. It's not healthy nor is it practical for the Savior of the Wizarding world to behave as such."
Harry's mouth dropped open indignantly. "Are you listening to yourself? You can't change me into something that fits your fucking ideals, Dumbledore! I'm a human being; I'm not some pawn to be played with!"
"You're a child, Harry. It's understandable that you would want to lash out at the mold you have been placed in. I accept that, but I only do what is the best for all."
"So manipulating Ron to the point of insanity is 'the best for all' then?" Harry demanded as he crossed his arms. "Is poisoning Malfoy 'the best for all' too?"
Dumbledore frowned. "Harry, you must understand, there are those who use and those who are used. Mr. Weasley and Mr. Malfoy were simply the best choices in aiding my plans."
"Plans? What fucking plans are you talking about!?" Harry snapped. "I deserve an answer, Dumbledore! I'm tired of you pulling me along blindfolded!"
"As I said before, your temper is far too volatile. I'll admit to encouraging Mr. Malfoy's actions in the hopes that he would be able to tame your temper."
Tame my temper? Harry stared in horror at the man he had once trusted. He knew what Malfoy was doing and he allowed it?
"Obviously that was not a wise decision on my part and I had hoped Mr. Weasley would prove to be more acceptable in completing the task." Dumbledore continued on calmly, "I had not thought his mental stability was so far gone at the time or I would not have continued."
"Continued?" Harry managed to whisper. He actually believes he's in the right.
Smiling, Dumbledore assumed Harry had finally begun to see reason. "The mind is an interesting thing, Harry. A simple enchantment and a person's deepest desires can be brought forth. It was a small matter bringing forth young Ronald's thoughts."
He forced Ron to think that way about me. Fucking Dumbledore manipulated his mind and now he's so far gone that it can't be helped. How could anyone be so cruel?
"Do you now see why things must remain the way they are? If you had not been so fouled tempered perhaps your friend could have been spared," Dumbledore said, trying to play on Harry's guilt.
The smile Dumbledore had held vanished. "Excuse me?"
"I'm finished with you." Harry glared at the ancient wizard hatefully. "I'm done with your betrayal, your twisted ideals, everything!"
Dumbledore remained calm despite this turn and argued, "What of your schooling? Surely you plan on finishing the rest of the year and sitting your NEWTS."
Harry laughed bitterly. "Don't worry about that. I plan on finishing school and making a future for myself, but I refuse to do it on your terms any longer."
"Harry, I don't think you quite understand the hold I have over you," Dumbledore replied slowly, "I can ban you from Hogwarts and force you to stay with your Muggle relatives if I wished. Do you really want that to happen?"
"I'm sure if that were to happen the Daily Prophet and the Board of Governors would be happy to hear my side of things," Harry said coldly. He was furious despite his calm façade. He couldn't believe the gall of Dumbledore! "After all, I'm the Boy Who Lived. We don't want our Savior to be abandoned with Muggles, now do we? Not with the rise of Voldemort coming along so nicely."
Dumbledore shouldn't have been surprised by the boy's Slytherin tactics, but he was and had gotten tangled in the web of truth.
He tried to cover his slip in judgment. "We don't know if Voldemort is a threat any longer, Harry. I'm sure everyone would agree that it is far safer for a young boy to stay with his family during such trying times."
Harry smirked darkly. Dumbledore was continuously showing his true colors, trying to manipulate Harry Potter of all people! He had pushed the Gryffindor one too many times and Harry was tired of it.
"I'm also sure everyone would also be happy to know what you've been doing behind the walls of Hogwarts. Manipulating children, Albus?" Harry shook his head. "Tsk, tsk, that's not something parents would like to hear about dear old Dumbledore."
The Headmaster leveled his piercing gaze toward Harry's own smoldering one, challenging him. Harry refused to look away and it was finally Dumbledore that looked away. He nodded once. "Very well then, Harry. I see that we are not going to agree on matters at this point in time. I will allow you to continue as you see fit until I believe you are ready to accept your role."
Thank you ever so much. Harry thought sarcastically. He stood and moved toward the exit, as another thought came to him he turned. "I'm moving back to the dorms, the shared room with Malfoy is no longer needed."
Dumbledore nodded again. "That's acceptable."
Acceptable my arse, as though you have a choice! Harry inclined his head and departed.
He found himself storming through the empty halls with no destination in mind. His thoughts were furious and spiraling quickly out of control now that he had left Dumbledore's presence.
That bastard! That fucking bastard had the audacity to manipulate me! Harry clenched his hand in a shaky fist as the floor began to tremble under his rage. "I swear I'll kill him if he so much as talks to me," he swore angrily.
"Harry Potter, sir!" a voice squeaked in fear.
Harry was thrown off by the sudden interruption and glanced down, his rage leaving him instantly. Dobby bowed hesitantly now that all attention was focused on him.
"Dobby has been asked to help Harry Potter gather his belongings," the elf squeaked again.
Gather my…oh. He nodded. "Thanks, Dobby. I suppose you know where I've been staying?"
"Yes, Dobby is knowing Harry Potter is sharing a room with Master Malfoy. Dobby is happy to help Harry Potter move back with Harry Potter's friends."
Harry smiled. "Thank you, Dobby, I really do appreciate it."
"Of course, Harry Potter, sir!" Dobby nodded excitedly.
Glancing around to asses where they were, Harry found that he had been heading towards Gryffindor Tower. He grimaced at the thought of trekking back towards the Dungeons just to get his luggage.
Maybe Dobby could make the trip faster… "Dobby, would you be able to take me straight to the room?" Harry asked hesitantly.
"Yes, Dobby will take you!"
Harry's hand was grabbed and before he could pull away he felt himself being lifted and strangely tossed to the left of his original position in the next instant.
"What the heck was --" he began to curse as he found his bearings. Turning towards Dobby, he found himself not in front of a shifting staircase as he had been a few seconds ago, but inside a dimly lit room.
"Dobby has only done what Harry Potter asked," Dobby's ears began to droop at the thought of displeasing Harry.
Harry was quick to reassure as he glanced around. "It's fine, Dobby. I was just surprised we got here so fast."
Surprisingly the room was empty – nary a Malfoy in sight – and Harry glanced around uncomfortably. He hadn't been here for a while. In fact he had been avoiding the room as much as possible.
"Uh, Dobby, could you start taking my things up to Gryffindor for me?" Harry asked as his eyes landed on the house elf once more.
"Dobby will be happy to!" the elf said before popping out of the room.
Harry took the time to look around the room as he heard rummaging in the next room over. Malfoy kept the place pretty neat; it almost looked as though the Slytherin didn't live here.
Why wouldn't he want a huge room all to himself though? Harry mused as he trailed his fingers across a few parchments lying on the desk closest to him. I have to admit, if Malfoy weren't bunked here too, I could imagine living here. Except for the location, I could do without all the Slytherins hiding about beyond the portrait.
Dobby popped into existence next to him and placed a box at his feet. "Dobby has put Harry Potter's valuables in here. Would you like Dobby to take them up as well?"
"That's alright, Dobby," Harry said as he bent over to pick up the small box. "I'll take this with me. Thanks for your help though."
"Anything for Harry Potter, sir!" Dobby said happily as he disappeared again.
Harry remained in silence for a few brief moments. It was odd that Malfoy wasn't in his rooms at this time. Though the blond was probably in the Slytherin common room for all Harry knew. It wasn't that late if he thought about it. Oh well, it's not like I wanted to see him or anything.
He did a last check of the room to insure that everything that belonged to him had been gathered. I guess this is it then… As he moved toward the door it swung open for him, causing him to pause in surprise. He at first expected Dobby had returned but soon found himself faced by his supposed roommate as the blond stepped into the room.
"Er…hello," Harry said nervously, causing the pale head to shoot up in alarm. I hadn't expected to be faced by Malfoy so soon...
Draco remained silent and poised in the doorway, as though petrified. He seemed to be honestly surprised to see Harry. As he took in the loaded box he felt his hopes quickly descending.
Harry shifted uncomfortably as he held a box of his belongings. He felt as though he had been caught doing something forbidden under Malfoy's intense gaze. "I was just gathering up the rest of my stuff," Harry said uncertainly.
"You're moving out," Draco said without question.
Nodding despite the obvious statement, Harry replied, "Yeah, I figured that with everything settled between us I could move back to the Gryffindor dorms."
"Everything isn't settled," Draco argued, he closed the door behind him and childishly blocked it in a show of protest. "Why are you really leaving?"
Harry wasn't about to be daunted by the blond's little act. His eyes narrowed at the closed door and he scowled. "I don't have to answer to you, Malfoy."
Draco refused to give up. "What if I honestly want to know?"
"I already told you, I don't like you, Malfoy." Harry shook his head. "Not the way you like me. I have no reason to continue sharing a room with you."
"Then what happens now?"
Harry frowned. "Isn't it obvious? I move back into my dorm, we both get our lives back and we pretend like none of this ever happened."
"Harry, I --"
"Save your breath, Malfoy. I've had a long day and I don't feel like hearing any of your loving sentiments." He brushed past the Slytherin and opened the door silently. "Goodbye."
--- --- ---
A lonely month passed for Harry and he soon found himself faced with another empty weekend. He could have tried spending time with Hermione, but she was currently busy "studying" with her new Ravenclaw boyfriend. Harry smiled at that, he didn't think too much bookwork would be going on between those two.
Despite feeling slightly left out, he was happy Hermione had moved on after the fiasco with Ron. They both had managed to let go of their anger towards their old friend and had relied on each other a lot during the tumult days that had passed.
Ron…well he had been sent to a school specially developed for delinquents. Harry had been surprised at first to hear of such a thing, but he suspected even Wizards had trouble with some. It was better for all that Harry didn't take any actions against Ron despite what had been done. He was far better off in his new home where his magic would be watched carefully along with his temperament.
Harry had continued through school as he promised, though Dumbledore remained a constant thorn in his side. Despite what he had told the Headmaster, Dumbledore still had disillusions that Harry was the little boy he had constantly manipulated in the past and continually tried to make Harry see the err of his decision.
He held no love for the man despite the years of knowing him – or not knowing, as he was proving – and was irritated that Dumbledore thought he would listen to him for another instant.
Despite that annoyance Harry was enjoying the last weeks before Christmas break. The weather was as beautiful as ever and everything seemed to finally be taking a right turn for once.
A light frown graced his lips and his content mood turned toward brooding. Thinking of his recent carefree days brought back the constant reminder that was Malfoy.
Though the blond hadn't outright spoken to Harry, it seemed that he was everywhere that he went. Whenever Harry was roaming the halls he would see Malfoy. In the Great Hall he would feel a heavy gaze staring at him from across the way. Even the library was no longer safe!
At times he wished that the Slytherin would just talk to him. He knew there was no bad blood between them and thus didn't understand the blond's silence. Even looking past what they had gone through – and what he had been put through – Harry felt that Malfoy had changed for better.
No longer was he taunted by the Slytherin git and his friends, for once he was actually passing Potions and best of all there was no antagonism between them.
It was all so…boring…
If Harry stopped to think about it, he was truly bored with the way things were. Sure, he appreciated the new and improved Malfoy, but there was something there that he couldn't put his finger on.
It felt lonely.
Not that he missed Malfoy, that wasn't it at all! He saw the prat during lessons and meals, surely that was enough of his presence to stand.
If Harry stopped to think about the situation and what he was feeling, he would have realized that he did in fact miss Malfoy. But alas, he was far too stubborn to think such things.
Instead he turned his turmoil inside and focused on other things. He didn't want to think about Malfoy. Not while the blond was standing in front of him.
"Malfoy?" Harry blinked in surprise.
He received a slight smirk for his lack of attention. "I've been standing here for quite a while," Draco said as he sat beside Harry in the snow. A murmured warming charm from his new companion made Harry realize that it had gotten cooler out since he had first sat down to think. He muttered his own as he turned his attention toward the blond.
"So what brings you out here?" he asked casually, not at all focusing on the fact that this could be the very confrontation he had been waiting for.
Draco traced patterns through the snow at his side, he shrugged easily. "I saw you out here by yourself and figured I might as well visit."
"I see… er, I heard you were staying for break," Harry mentioned casually. He mentally berated himself at his lack of tact. Smooth, Harry. That doesn't sound like you're fishing for answers.
Draco nodded, a bit forlorn at the thought. "I am. I…I'm not exactly welcome back at the Manor," he explained.
Harry was surprised that the rumor was true. "Really? Surely your mother…" he trailed off, not knowing the circumstances surrounding Malfoy's betrayal.
Smirking bitterly, Draco affirmed Harry's suspicions. "My mother knew what Lucius had been doing; she approved to say the least. I received a letter telling me how disappointed she was that I had not followed his footsteps."
"Has she disinherited you?" Harry asked worriedly.
"No…I'm of Malfoy blood, so it's all mine. She can't really do anything since she's a Malfoy by name only," Draco murmured.
Harry found himself breathing a sigh of relief. He was honestly glad that Malfoy hadn't been ripped of his money or name. He just wouldn't be the same person without it.
"I'm staying too," he said, bringing them back to their previous conversation.
Draco laughed. "I knew that, you stay every year," he said without malice.
"It's usually nice here during Christmas," Harry said, "I'm sure you'll enjoy it."
This isn't going too bad. I honestly thought there would be more awkwardness between us. "What of your friends? Are they staying too?" Harry continued along their train of conversation. He fiddled with his shirt sleeves for a moment and then quirked his head in Malfoy's direction when he didn't seem to be forthcoming in an answer.
"I told you before that I didn't have any true friends in Slytherin," Draco said softly. "More of allies really, but now that I've shown my true colors I've been abandoned by even them."
Harry frowned despite himself. "They haven't been giving you a hard time have they?" He found his cheeks heating up at his obvious concern. What's wrong with me? Why am I so worried whether Malfoy getting along with the other Slytherins or not? If we were friends that would be understandable, but there's nothing between us…
Unless he considered a few of their more intimate moments they had shared between each other when they had been together.
Draco smiled slightly. "Thank you for your concern, but no, they haven't bothered me. I'm ignored by my fellow Slytherins, tolerated really."
"That's too bad," Harry said, getting control over his more volatile thoughts. "Well I'm sure I'll see you around during break. You never know, we might even hang out."
Surprise was evident on the blond's face but he quickly schooled his features with a nod. "That would be acceptable."
Harry snorted. "No need for the stuffy attitude, Malfoy. A simple 'yes' would be enough," he teased.
"I would like that very much," Draco rephrased his previous words with a roll of his eyes.
He received a friendly clap on his back for his troubles. "That's more like it." Harry laughed with an open smile.
Draco tentatively smiled back. It was hard not to be pulled into Harry's moods; the Gryffindor was so open at times. Admittedly, it was a bit of a challenge not falling back into actions of old, but Draco was sure he would manage to remain as open as possible when in Harry's presence.
"I assume Granger is staying as well?" Draco asked, though already knowing the answer.
Harry nodded. "She's staying, but I doubt if I'll see her much. She's dating a Ravenclaw bloke, Kevin Entwhistle, I think."
"He's in our year?"
"Mm hm." Harry nodded again. "She'll probably be busy with him since he's decided to stay for her sake."
Draco smirked. "Hurray for that," he said sarcastically. "You don't seem too thrilled on the subject."
"Hermione deserves to be happy and I don't want to be the one to hold her back," Harry said. "I'll admit I feel a bit left out at times, but I understand that it's her life. I don't know, I guess I just miss the old times."
"The Golden Trio?" Draco raised a brow.
Harry grimaced and lightly pushed the blond in reproach. "Don't say it like that." He pulled his legs up and rested his chin against his knees. "We had fun, I'll give you that, maybe we had too much fun though…"
"You miss Weasley still," Draco said.
"Yeah," Harry said with a wistful sigh. "I mean, I think he's a git for what he did to me, but he was my best friend, you know? It's hard to hate him after knowing him for so long. I wish I had a Time Turner so I could go back and stop any of this shit from happening."
Draco shifted uncertainly. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry."
They lapsed into silence, both thinking over past actions.
Harry probably blames me for everything. He'll never forgive me, he hates me too much. Draco's thoughts were dark. I don't blame him, I was a selfish prat. Why would anyone want me after that?
Harry watched Malfoy from the corner of his eye. Can I forgive him? I know I don't hate Ron for what he did, but that's because we were friends. There's no love between me and Malfoy. I don't know if I have enough reason to forgive him… The Slytherin looked to be falling into a bad mood. Perhaps if we were friends it would be easier. But what if he still likes me? Ergh, hopefully he doesn't.
"Er, I don't mean to bring up any sore subjects with you, but have you gotten over all the lingering affects of the…bond?" Harry asked hopefully. "I mean has the infatuation with me faded?"
The blond remained silent. His lips pursed and his face pinched closed at the question.
Harry felt his hopes drop. Oh… "I had just been wondering. You understand that my feelings haven't changed…" At least not yet, I don't truly know you, Draco Malfoy.
"I still love you, Harry. I can't change that," Draco said firmly while ignoring the hurt Harry's words dredged up.
He received only a nod as Harry remained painfully silent.
I should have known I would be spurned. "Well, I guess this is it, Potter," Draco said and quickly stood. I can't believe I had actually hoped…
He looked away, the twinge in his chest having nothing to do with any Veela instincts, only his true feelings this time. It hurt, knowing this was probably the last time he would speak with Harry on a friendly basis. The Gryffindor undoubtedly hated him now for such a confession.
"Malfoy…" he began. Draco remained with his back turned, shoulders tensed in apprehension. Harry sighed in defeat and agreed reluctantly, "Yeah, I guess so."
Harry wouldn't claim to know what the other boy was feeling, because he hadn't gone through any of it, not enough to recall anyway. He pitied the blond more than anything because he didn't think he could ever love someone he had hated for so long. How Malfoy had accomplished such a feat was amazing in itself.
It seems surreal that Malfoy likes me in a romantic sense. It's too bad we never got to know each other past being rivals…
He realized that it didn't have to end this way, they still had time to make things better, to become friends. Draco seemed to be pulling in on himself and he began to walk away, accepting Harry's silence as a final rebuke.
I guess it's up to me to make amends, thank Merlin for Gryffindor bravery.
Harry held out his hand. "I'm Harry Potter."
Draco turned with a startled expression. He glanced down at the offered hand and frowned in confusion. "What are you doing, Potter?"
"It's Harry, and I'm starting over," Harry replied, hand held firm.
"Starting over?" Draco repeated stupidly. Please, don't play with me like this. Could he really want to start over?
Harry gestured toward his hand as he asked, "Well, are we going to try this or not?" He lifted an eyebrow in question and looked toward Draco's hand which was clenched at his side.
Draco cleared his throat, a nervous gesture that didn't go unnoticed. But he moved forward nonetheless and took Harry's hand, gripping it firmly albeit shakily.
"Draco Malfoy," he whispered.
Emerald eyes lit in simple pleasure. "It's very nice to meet you, Draco. Now, I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to where to eat lunch. It is a Hogsmeade weekend if you didn't know and I'm quite famished."
Draco's laughter bubbled out at the simplicity of their conversation, he felt elated as he smiled openly. This was his chance to prove that he could be someone good, that he could care about someone even if they didn't like him back. For once he felt like everyone else, he felt…normal. And it was a good feeling.
"Well, Harry, I don't know if you've been to the Three Broomsticks, but it is a wonderful place for lunch," Draco began to lead them toward the path that took them to Hogsmeade, talking adamantly with his hands.
Harry smiled and followed his once enemy. "That's perfect, Draco."
And it was.
AN: Yep, that's it. I'm not much for endings, so…sorry if it sucked. It was a fun ride. I hope you guys enjoyed the fic! Thanks for all the support and reviews! Please leave your review for the finishing touches on this thing!