Disclaimer: Lots of legal jumbo about not owning any of the characters in this story...

Rating: 'T', rated for mature issues and some sexual themes, as well as language. The rating may go up later in the story.

Warning: This story contains slash, and features a Harry/Draco relationship. Don't like it, don't read. There will be some sexual themes later on in the story, and mature issues (as stated in the rating). Just to let you all know.

Summary: Harry finds a broken and fatally injured Draco on his doorstep one night, and lets him in. When Draco tells Harry a story of pain and fear, the hero begins to rethink his feelings toward his enemy. This story takes place the summer after Harry and Draco's sixth year at Hogwarts.

A/N: I have no idea where this story is going yet. The idea just popped into my head one night, so I began to write. I do hope to continue the story and add more chapters to it though. Catalyst is also my first story featuring Harry/Draco pairing, actually, it's my first HP fanfic period. So it's kind of an experiment, and a character study, among other things...

Chapter 1 of Catalyst: Midnight Visitor

War. Hiding. Secrets. Good. Evil. Choices. Life….Death.

Harry Potter lay asleep on the table, his half-full dinner plate pushed to one side, his glasses askew, and a single candle burning near him. The flickering light danced over his weary face, enhancing the dark circles beneath his eyes. His perpetually-messy hair fell over his face just slightly, having grown a bit since the end of the school year, one month ago. Outside, rain lashed without mercy at the windows, running down the walls of the apartment, and rushing in rivers down the streets. Wind whipped the rain into updrafts, hurling it every which way and lightning cracked every once in a while, lighting up the whole sky for a second, then disappearing as thunder shook the earth.

Knock, knock…knock, knock, knock. Harry Potter sat up with a gasp, his glasses clattering to the table as he jerked his head toward the door. Someone was knocking. What time was it? Harry looked at the clock on the wall; it was one in the morning. Cursing, and grabbing his wand from his pocket as he shoved his glasses on, the Boy Who Lived walked over to the door and laid his hand on the doorknob, his heart thumping with either fear or shock. They found me. Oh god, they found me. How did they find me? Maybe it's Ron, or Hermione….Don't be stupid. They're at the burrow. They wouldn't be here. Oh god, they found me. It's too soon, Harry thought franticly.

Knock, knock…Harry took a shuddering breath and opened the door, sticking his wand out until it hit whoever or whatever was there in the chest.

"Who's there?" Harry asked coldly, terror almost ripping him to pieces. They found me…Oh god, they found me… He heard a small cry of pain when his wand stabbed someone roughly. Harry peered into the darkness and dimly saw a person with pale skin, wearing dark robes with a hood. It was one of them…they had come. Harry didn't wait for an answer to his question,

"Why are you here?" He demanded harshly, prepared to throw an attack at a moments noticed. The figure looked up, although it's face was obscured by the deep shadow cast by his hood. Harry repeated his question, "I asked…"

"Put your wand down, dammit. That hurts," The figure snapped, pushing the wand away from him. Harry froze.

"What. Are. You. Doing. Here?" He asked, hate rushing through him and clouding his senses. The traitor; it didn't matter if he hadn't gone through with his plans, he was still a traitor. And Harry still hated him, more than he ever had.

"To be frank, I need a place to stay, Potter," The figure drawled in his usual tone.

"What the hell? You came here, to me, for a place to stay? Are you insane?" He spat, anger still coursing through him.

"Some think so, actually, quite a few do. And, yes, I came to you…obviously," Came Harry's answer in that cool, civil voice.

"Why the hell are you here? I could kill you right now, and believe me, I really don't think I would have a problem with that," Harry snapped, his eyes flashing dangerously. The figure lowered his hood, and looked up at him with steel gray eyes. Harry felt some of the hate drain away. When he looked into Draco's eyes, it was as if he was looking into a mirror. It didn't matter that those eyes were gray, unlike his own. They had the same look. That same haunted, pained, and desperate look he had in his own eyes. They were eyes that had no youthfulness left in them; they were eyes that had seen too much.

"I'm here because it's safe. No one knows where you are…"

"So, once I believe your pity-story, you're going to turn around and call all your friends, and tell them where Harry Potter is so they can come kill me? Or have you already done that? Should I be prepared for a break-in any moment now?" Harry accused, his voice raising a bit.

"I haven't told anyone. And I won't…as long as you let me in," Draco pleaded.

"Why do you need to come in, Malfoy? I'm not in a forgiving mood," Harry snarled.

"Potter, I can't talk about this here. In case you don't remember," Draco snapped, "I'm standing out here in the rain in a muggle street, talking to you about things muggles really shouldn't know about. Let me in, and I'll tell you a bit of why I'm here," Draco demanded. As if to remind Harry, a gust of wind slammed a sheet of rain into him. Begrudgingly he opened the door, just enough to let Draco Malfoy in. When the tall, blonde boy moved, Harry noticed he was limping a bit.

Draco stopped just in the door and Harry was about to see the changes in the Slytherin student. The Gryffindor had to work in order to not show his surprise and horror. The boy looked as if he had been to hell and back. He had dark circles underneath his eyes, and his high cheekbones were accented drastically by his sunken cheeks that seemed to curve around his jaw. The normally platinum-blonde hair was dirty, without the regular shine that the Slytherin boy loved to flaunt. A small cut ran down his cheek, marking the perfect skin with a red line. His left eye was hideously black and purple, although some spell or another had managed to keep most of the swelling down. Harry's observant eyes noticed small bruises running down Malfoy's pale, slim neck, creating two purple lines.

"You look…" Harry began.

"Shut up, Potter. I don't care how I look, got that?" Harry did a double take, Draco Malfoy, not caring how he looked?

"Fine. I let you in, you tell me why the hell you're here. Start with where you came from," Harry spat, resentment not yet gone. Draco tugged at his robes as he winced in pain. A sympathetic host might have offered Draco a seat, yet Harry couldn't bring himself to feel sorry for this traitor, no matter how uncomfortable he was.

"I came from them, the Death Eaters."

"So, you're still one of them?" Harry asked haughtily, with a malicious grin on his face that would have been at home on Malfoy's.

"I never said that…" Draco started,

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize that you could take vacations. I was under the impression that being a Death Eater was a full time job," Harry interrupted, his voice cutting like a knife. Draco grimaced.

"Dammit Potter! I am not one of them. Yes, I use to be, you saw the mark, but I'm not one of them! You don't get it. Sure, I betrayed you and your cronies, but I never went through with it did I?" Malfoy demanded, standing up a bit straighter and raising his voice.

"You could have prevented his death! It doesn't matter that you didn't actually kill him, you helped in just about every way," Harry shouted back.

"Come on, Potter. Say it. Say 'Dumbledore is dead'; he's never coming back. He is nothing; but I didn't do it. I didn't kill him. You were there, you know that Snape killed him," Draco yelled, his voice hoarse and raspy.

"You were going to do it, Malfoy. You were going to do it for recognition with Voldemort. You were going to do it so you would be a favorite; just like your father," Harry spat, "You were going to kill him for all of them"

"I am not one of them!" Draco cried, his hands balling into fist inside his robes. Harry let out a mocking laugh.

"Prove it, Malfoy," He snarled in a low voice. Draco grabbed his sleeve and pulled, exposing a tightly wrapped area on his arm. Ripping off the white bandages in a rage, he shoved his arm into better light for Harry to see.

"I am not one of them."

Harry stared. The black tattoo on Draco's forearm was slashed brutally in half, a deep, red gash running straight through it from the wrist to the inside of his elbow. Blood trickled out slowly, running down the pale, bruised skin and dripping to the floor. Harry noticed that the ring finger on Malfoy's left hand wasn't gripping the sleeve; by the odd angle the joint bent at he implied the bone was shattered.

"Damn Malfoy. What the hell happened to you?" Harry asked, still gaping at the vicious wound on Malfoy's arm. The named uttered an insane-sounding cackle.

"You think that's bad Potter? There's more," He snarled, pulling his sleeve over the dark mark, "This is what Death Eaters do to traitors, as you put it. You think I betrayed you, but I betrayed them by not following through with the plan. I was supposed to kill Dumbledore. I didn't, and I paid."

"But, you were one of them. Why would they do that to you?" Harry asked, looking to where Draco's dark mark was concealed.

"I betrayed them, Potter. I could have gotten them all killed, exposed. It didn't matter who I was; I was in the way. They couldn't trust me, and they made sure it was clear that the next time I disobeyed orders, they would kill me. Which brings me to why I'm here. I escaped the dungeons at my father's house, and I came here. I need to stay the night. Just once, they won't find me, they won't think to look for me here," Draco pleaded, the look in his eyes one of fear. Harry looked at him suspiciously.

"How do I know that this isn't just a pity-story to get me to let you stay here so you can tell them where I am? I can't trust one damn cell in your body," Harry spat harshly.

"Does this…," Draco exposed his slashed mark once more, and pulled on the collar of his robe in order to show the bruises and scars that lay on his throat and collar bone, "…Look like a ploy to you? Do these seem fake; do you think I'm acting, Potter? I'm not. I am dead serious. When they find out I'm gone, they'll track me down. If they find me, they'll kill me. But they won't know I'm not in my cell till morning. I'll leave then; they won't even know anyone was here." Harry considered. The injuries weren't fake, Malfoy's pain was real enough as well. But what of the story? What was the Slytherin boy leaving out?

"If you stay here, you're not getting near my couch in those robes. They're filthy. Take a shower. And…we need to wrap that up," Harry said, looking at the laceration on his guest's forearm.

"Thank you. Give me something to change into, and then I'll comply with your rules," Draco snapped, in a not-too-friendly tone of voice. He wanted to make sure that this was not a sign of weakness. He had no choice but to stay with Harry tonight; it was the last place on Earth Voldemort's followers would look. Harry disappeared into one of the back rooms and came out with a set of clothes; he handed them to Draco and pointed the blonde-haired boy in the direction of the bathroom. Malfoy slipped into the room and shut the door. A minute later Harry heard the water running. He picked up his dinner plate, threw the leftover food in the garbage, and set the plate in the sink. The clock read one twenty. God he was tired.

Potter busied himself by grabbed a blanket and a pillow for Malfoy to use for the night and grabbed his medical kit for when Draco came out of the shower. He had a feeling Draco's injuries were a lot more extensive then the bruises and fading scars. What had really happened to him? All he had mentioned was that the Death Eaters had made him pay for his disobedience. But it seemed more than that. Much more. Draco's fluid, feline grace was gone, replaced by a shuffling limp; the cocky look in his eyes replaced by fear, pain, and emptiness. In the first month of summer vacation, Draco seemed to have undergone as much, or more, as Harry himself. While Draco's pain was physical, Harry's was emotional and mental pain. The deaths and near-deaths of those close to him had jaded him, and the fear of more dieing kept him paranoid and over-alert, preventing sleep and food intake. Harry Potter was becoming more and more like Alastor Moody every day, although his scars were on the inside.

Fifteen minutes later Draco came out of the bathroom, dressed in an oversized, bright red shirt and baggy tan pants. Harry smirked a bit; now he knew why the Slytherin boy always wore black. All that color completely engulfed his pale skin, well, normally pale skin. Harry glanced at Draco's exposed arms and neck again; there were more bruises and cuts there than anything else. Questions arose in him again, who had done all that to him? The Death Eaters wouldn't do all that, would they? The grey-eyed boy looked much better though, his skin was rid of the dirt and filth it had picked up wherever, and his blonde hair had turned a shade lighter and its old sheen was returning.

"Well, now I know why you prefer to wear black," Harry said, tossing a roll of gauze and some other medical supplies to Malfoy, "Wrap your arm up, tight. It'll stop the bleeding for good. And that balm there can go on your bruises," Harry instructed. Draco sat down on a kitchen stool and began working on bandaging the dark mark, but his broken finger made the task explicitly hard, not to mention painful. But Malfoy's pride wouldn't let him ask Harry for help. Harry in turn, simply couldn't sit there and watch someone, anyone, struggle in pain. My god, am I feeling sorry for Malfoy? Harry thought incredulously. He didn't like feeling pity for one of his enemies. Swallowing his own pride, he walked over to Draco and held out his hand for the roll of gauze. Draco gave him and icy stare in return.

"Give it to me," Harry demanded, still, Draco refused.

"Potter, I don't need your help. Shut up," Malfoy snapped, going back to fumbling with the bandages. Harry poked his broken finger, and a cry of pain escaped Draco's mouth. "What the hell was that! Do. Not. Touch. It," The grey-eyed boy said sharply, jerking his right hand away from Harry.

"Swallow your damn pride, Malfoy. You know as well as I do that you can't bandage your arm with a broken finger, let me do it. Now," Harry said, sitting down and grabbing the gauze, cutting a decent length of it. He grabbed Draco's left arm, careful not to agitate any of the bruises or other lacerations, and began to work. Draco stared at Harry's hands as if the raven-haired boy was going to cut his arm off instead of wrap it up. Holding the gauze to Malfoy's arm with his right hand, Harry grabbed a small tube with his left, and squeezed a bit of a yellowish paste on his finger. Without warning the Slytherin boy, he smeared a thin trail of the mixture on the gash, running his finger from the boy's wrist to elbow.

"Ouch!" Draco yelled along with a string of curses as he wrenched his arm away, "God dammit Potter! What is that?" Harry grinned a bit.

"Really, you prat, it's an anti-infection balm. That sting'll cut out in about a minute, give me your arm again," Harry commanded, not liking the unknown reason behind the flinches that went through Malfoy whenever he was touched. It was as if he was afraid of all contact. Harry went about wrapping Draco's arm up as tight as possible, and finally hooked the two end pieces of gauze together with a small butterfly-clip. He released Draco's arm.

"There, let me look at your finger too."

Draco gave him a dark look and held his hand out tentatively, as if he was expecting a slap. The Slytherin boy didn't like the way Harry's touch made his skin crawl, but not in that way it did when his father or Voldemort touched him. Harry's touch was calming, comforting…safe. Still…the last time people had touched him in any way, it left bruises.

Sort of a lame ending to that chapter, but I had to split what I already had into pieces that were chapter-length.

Thank you very much for reading, comments and/or critique is welcome. No flames please.

wingnutdawn: Thanks for your comment as well as your view. Glad you find it interesting so far!

evilsadisticbutterfly: Thank you so much! I work hard at keeping characters as close as possible to their actually personality. It makes the story more believable in my opinion, so I'm really glad that you think my characters are IC. Thank you!

Shadow of dusk: Thanks. I'll update as soon as possible, of course.

Lucycat: Great! I'm glad you like the story so far.

Bravella Afiag: Thank you for reading and commenting, and for being excited about this story of course:)

SuperSquash: Glad you find it interesting, I wasn't sure how original the plot-line of this was, but I see it's not something that's overdone now. Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it!

TheseBrokenWings: Thank you very much. Yes, there should be more soon, and thank you for the comment on the in-character-ness. I work hard at it. In chapter two there's a bit about what happened to Harry, but it doesn't get into detail. I'll clear it up later. Thanks again for your comment!

NinjaoftheDarkness: You're in luck, I give some flashback sequences centering around what happened to Draco, just a bit of it though, in Chapter Two. I'm just going to keep adding pieces of the puzzle as I write! Thanks a lot for reading!

Winter Darkblade: I'll try my best, kay? Glad you're reading and that you enjoy the story so far.

Navy RavenLacra: The next chapter should be up within the next week, actually. Thank you very much!

firefly12: Thanks. I'm trying not to make Draco to pathetic, so his case improves a bit eventually. Without further ado…next chapter is up!

Anonymous: Well, I can't please everyone. Sorry. My reason for this being a slashy fic and not a friend fic, is that Draco and Harry aren't quite friends yet in this story. I know, that may not make since, but it doesn't really need to right now. Thank you for the view and comment though, perhaps I'll store the friend idea away for later.