Chapter I

Draco leaned against the stands, squinting up through the drizzling rain. He wasn't sure what had led him out here, to stand in the rain without a cloak. His hair, he was sure, would begin to frizz, and then he would need to retire to the dormitories so he could set it right. Frizzy hair was so undignified. Here he was, standing outside the Quidditch pitch, alone. He had left Crabbe and Goyle quietly, leaving the Slytherin table before lunch had ended. His friends didn't notice, probably because they were used to grand exits from Draco Malfoy, a witty barb tossed to their adoration, a flourish, a swirling cloak. But he had left without a word, slipping away to somewhere unknown.

That somewhere turned out to be the Quidditch pitch, where, he had discovered upon arriving, the Gryffindor team was holding practice. He watched the red blurs zipping throughout the stadium, and was able to pick out Potter in an instant. He looked no different than the other blurs at first, but his position was unique. He hovered above the rest, mostly stationary while the others raced beneath him. That's how it always was, wasn't it? Saint Potter, so much better than the rest of them.

Then Potter dove, becoming more like a red streak in the hazy sky, and Draco felt a stab of jealousy. Why was he better? He flew in ways Draco knew he never could, and it didn't make sense. Draco had the best brooms money could buy, the nicest and most fashionable robes, the highest quality quills and cauldrons, the fanciest treats, not to mention some of the purest blood in England. But Harry Potter was always better. Harry Potter was a hero. Harry Potter led the Gryffindor Quidditch team to victory again and again. Harry Potter wore plain, pedestrian robes and had messy hair and spots on his face. But all the girls, even the Slytherin girls, giggled and whispered about gorgeous Harry Potter and his lovely, perfect, glowing, beautiful, romantic green eyes. Girls whispered about Draco, his white-blonde hair and smooth, pale complexion, but not the same way they whispered about Potter.

And what had Potter ever done? Saved the world, they said. Ridiculous. His head was so hard, not even a Killing Curse could puncture it. A spell bounced off his forehead before he could talk. Big hero. Since then, Harry Potter had saved the world from Voldemort loads of times; it was practically an annual event. But it wasn't as if Saint Potter did it all on his own. Draco could save the world too, if he had a super-smart witch to help him, plus a dumb, but loyal, lummox who would sacrifice himself to let Draco get a little bit further. Really, Harry Potter hadn't done one single thing to deserve praise- besides play a mean game of Quidditch.

Draco Malfoy hated Harry Potter more than words could possibly say. He was always the best. The teachers all took his side- except Professor Snape, of course, who remained thankfully immune to Potter's charms. And then there was Quidditch. The one thing Draco had beensure he could excel at. He had been flying around the Manor, after all, since he could first hold a broomstick. Lucius bought him the most expensive broom on the market; there would be no child-sized brooms for the Malfoy heir. Draco would learn to ride on the fastest, strongest model available. He fell off countless times, and had to be treated by dozens of mediwizards for fractures, broken bones, torn ligaments- every injury imaginable. All of them told Lucius it was insanity. No child, especially not a child as slight as little Draco Malfoy, could handle a full-sized, professional broom. Lucius offered them only haughty stares. Malfoys did not do anything halfway. And Draco, knowing that this would be something to at last impress his stone-cold father, succeeded. He rode his broom, and Lucius--cruel, cold-hearted Lucius Malfoy--told his son that he was proud of him.

Draco was supposed to be a Quidditch star. His father would come to every game and watch while Draco dominated the pitch. He had vivid dreams of winning the Quidditch Cup as far back as he could remember. When he went to Hogwarts, he was sure all his dreams would become reality. Then there was Harry Potter. Harry "Youngest Player in a Century" Potter, the Boy Who Lived To Make Draco's Life Miserable. But Draco convinced himself it was all right. Potter was just getting special attention because he was a hero. Just wait until next year. Then Draco would show how pampered and undeserving Harry Potter was. It didn't work out like that.

The one thing that Draco was sure he could do, the one thing that made Lucius Malfoy proud of his son, became Harry Potter's domain. Draco still remembered the first time he was defeated in a Quidditch match by Potter. It had stung as much as falling off his broom as a child had, but it all seemed so surreal. He tramped off the field, and didn't even bother changing out of his uniform before he went to go see his father, who he knew had been in the stands. Lucius Malfoy had been involved in a conversation with an unhealthy looking man, probably another one of the governors. He finished his conversation, then turned, and marched away from the pitch without a single glance at his heartbroken son. Malfoys did not accept failure.

The same thing happened again and again. Draco never lost his spirit, even though Lucius stopped coming. He fought as hard as he could, sometimes resorting to trickery and blatant cheating, because sometimes he dreamt that he won. He triumphed over stupid Harry Potter, and as he took a victory lap around the pitch, he spotted his father sitting in the stands, cheering. But, as he had discovered throughout his life, Draco's dreams never came true. He was good player, even exceptional. But, as it always was when it came to Harry Potter, he just wasn't good enough.

Draco looked up, startled, as the Gryffindors started to move in his direction. Draco knew he should move. If any of them spotted him standing there, they would be livid. Accuse him of spying, no doubt. Idiots. Why would he spy? Their strategies were always the same. But they wouldn't even consider the possibility that, for once, Draco Malfoy really was just out for a quiet stroll and wasn't up to anything at all. They would accuse him of sneaking around, which was of course laughable. Some things were beneath him, after all. Occasionally he crept, and he had been known to slink, but he did not sneak. He might enlighten them to that fact, but they would not, of course, grasp the concept. Literal-minded Gryffindors would never understand the nuances of Malfoy life.

The team landed, and Harry Potter, righteous hero and team captain that he was, headed straight for Draco. His hair was sticking up in all sorts of directions, in that "devil-may-care-wind-blown-I-just-got-off-my-broomstick" way that Draco knew girls swooned over.

"What are you doing here?" He sounded aggressive. Big, bad Potter. He didn't scare Draco, if that was his intent. Draco let a lazy smile play across his face.

"What am I doing here? Brilliantly original of you, Potter." Potter's face turned almost as red as his uniform, and Draco had to stifle a laugh. It was so easy to get under his skin, it borderedon pitiful.

"Shut up, Malfoy."

"Oh, another burning remark from the Boy Who Lived. How do you do it, Potter?"

"You were spying on our practice." The play unfolded just as Draco had pictured it.

"Don't flatter yourself. Did the possibility that I was just taking a walk ever occur to you?"

"It's raining," Harry said. Draco rolled his eyes, and then applauded sarcastically.

"Oh, bravo, Potter. It is indeed raining. I'll contact St. Mungo's at once to let them know that you've completely recovered from having your brain addled by the Dark Lord." Potter flushed an even deeper shade of crimson.

"Sod off."

"You cut me to the quick, Potter, you really do. How shall I ever respond to that gem? Congratulations, you've rendered me speechless."

"Not very speechless," Katie Bell commented, coming up behind Potter, flanked by the majority of the team. Draco flicked his eyes to her then smiled, spreading his arms.

"Look at this, the Potter gang. Whenever our beloved hero starts to get into a tight spot, every Gryffindor present assembles to protect him. Amazing, that. Please, tell me your secret, Potter. I want my own squadron of sycophants, too."

"You are such an arse." Potter looked disgusted and about ready to back down, but Draco kept pushing.

"No, actually, I'm charismatically wicked. If I were an arse, I'd look more like you." The Gryffindor Quidditch team erupted in protest, and Draco grinned to himself. Loud, brash Gryffindors, wearing their emotions on their sleeves as always. They never had managed to comprehend the benefits of not letting your every thought cross your face.

"You know what you are, Malfoy?" Draco knew it was a rhetorical question, but he jumped in to answer before Potter had the chance to go on.

"Of course I do, Potter. Handsome, witty, brilliant, godlike, radiant, ravishing, resplendent, majestic, noble, dignified… I'm quite familiar with my own virtues, thank you very much"

Harry ignored him. "Everyone says you're a snake. But you're not." Draco started to respond, but Potter continued quickly. "You're not even a snake. You're a worm. You squirm around and blame everyone else for things you can't do. You're nasty for no reason, because you have nothing else going for you. And I don't know why I even bother talking to you, because you're below my notice." Ouch. Draco tensed, doing everything he knew to keep the pain from showing on his face. That hurt. He hadn't believed it really possible, but Potter had really wounded him.

Fine. If Potter wanted to play rough, Draco was going to play rough, too.

"Have you finished?" He forced himself to drawl the words, and arched a single eyebrow to better convey his derision. "Is it my turn now? Do you want to know what you are, Potter? Or maybe I should start with what you're not. You're not a hero. You've never done anything extraordinary, and you're only famous- people only like you- because you've got a stupid scar on your mind-numbingly stupid forehead. And your mudblood mother-"

"Don't you dare talk about my mother, Malfoy." Potter's teeth were clenched.

"Why not?" Draco sneered at him. "You talk about mine."

"I loved my mother."

"You never knew your mother," he spat with all the venom he could muster.

At that point, saintly Harry Potter, the hero of the wizarding world, dove at him, apparently furious to the point of forgetting about his wand. Draco, who had cleverly remained calm and level-headed, was not. He pulled it out of his pocket as quickly as he could, but not quickly enough. He was tackled, and felt the entire weight of the taller boy on top of him. Luckily, Draco still remained somewhat in control of his faculties. While Potter threw wild, furious punches, Draco focused on wriggling his way out of his rival's grip. He finally succeeded, and, after a split-second of judging the situation, took off running away from pitch, aiming a Stupefy over his shoulder without really looking.

As he ran, he did a quick check of his injuries. He had been successfully punched a few times, but his constant movement had saved him from the majority of Potter's jabs. He had been grazed several times, and he knew that he would bruise. He always bruised easily. It was, he supposed, one of the curses of his pale beauty. Along with needing to constantly beat enamoured females back. However, the pain from Potter's weight and pummelling mixed with the soreness in his lungs kept him from fully enjoying his own wit. Trust Potter to ruin everything.


Harry wasn't sure of what he was seeing at first. He had just glanced down to see how the new flight pattern they were trying out was working, when his eye was drawn to something light coloured at the edge of the pitch. With the dripping rain making the ground damp and the sky dark, it was the only light thing around, and it caught his attention. He squinted at it, and wrinkled his nose. It seemed to be a person, but he was too high up to identify them. Who would be down on the ground during team practice? He had deliberately scheduled it to begin straight after lunch in order to cut down on gawkers. Colin Creevey, perhaps? But no, Colin had pretty much given up on coming to practices.

He was a little bit bored, and quite curious, so he took adive. As he sped earthwards, he glanced over at the spot where he had seen the light-haired figure. It was Draco Malfoy. The Slytherin boy wasn't even wearing a cloak. Harry almost landed right there to go and interrogate him, but thought better of it, and pulled out of the dive. As he spiralled back up into the sky, his mind worked furiously. What would Malfoy be doing watching their practice? Spying, no doubt, but then why did he appear to be paying so little attention to the team? It didn't matter, really. This was Draco Malfoy he was thinking about, after all, a despicable and venomous boy who didn't care about anyone but himself. And to think that this was the first future classmate he had met when he was still learning about the world he never knew he belonged to.

Harry thought about that sometimes. What would have happened if he had accepted Malfoy's offer of friendship? If he had been more worried, less himself, and he had taken the hand of another slight boy, hair as pale as his was dark. Would he have discovered who Malfoy really was, or would he have become a mindless lackey like Crabbe or Goyle? And if he did discover how monstrous his fellow first-year could be…would he be able to escape his grasp? Harry couldn't help but compare Malfoy to Voldemort sometimes. Two cool and cruel leaders with a dedicated and controlled circle of followers. He didn't think that Malfoy was quite to the Dark Lord level yet…but he had no doubt that it was a distinct possibility in the future.

Harry hated Draco Malfoy. He was contrary to everything Harry cared about. He was an elitist snob with a nasty streak who couldn't care less who he hurt. Harry could barely stand it when Lavender and Parvati started giggling about his "soulful stormy eyes" when they burrowed into armchairs on one side of the common room. How anyone could be attracted to someone so rotten was beyond him. Sure, Malfoy was decent looking, he supposed, but there was no way to ignore how spiteful he was. Not to mention his family. Lucius Malfoy was pretty much the Death Eater poster-boy: wealthy, sadistic, influential and malicious. And Narcissa, though Harry had never actually spoken to her, seemed to be no better.

Practice was winding down, and Harry landed quickly, in case Malfoy tried to run off. The wind ruffled back his on the way down and, as he landed, he hopped off his broom and headed for the other boy.

"What are you doing here?" Malfoy's lips spread into a mocking smile, and Harry knew he was in for it.

Sure enough, Draco began the torrent of insults, jabbing at everything from Harry's mother to his encounters with Voldemort.

Finally Harry couldn't bear it any longer, and snapped, "Everyone says you're a snake. But you're not." Malfoy was about to interrupt again, but Harry pushed on, anger burning inside him. "You're not even a snake. You're a worm. You squirm around and blame everyone else for things you can't do. You're nasty for no reason, because you have nothing else going for you. And I don't know why I even bother talking to you, because you're below my notice."

As soon as he finished saying it, he began to regret it. He hated Malfoy, hated him down to every drop of his prized pure blood, but that was rather harsh, even for his (second) biggest enemy. It might have just been the haze of the rain, but Harry thought he saw Malfoy tense, stand a little straighter.

"Have you finished? Is it my turn now? Do you want to know what you are, Potter? Or maybe I should start with what you're not. You're not a hero. You've never done anything extraordinary, and you're only famous- no- people only like you because you've got a stupid scar on your mind-numbingly stupid forehead. And your mudblood mother-"

"Don't you dare talk about my mother, Malfoy." The anger was getting a lot hotter, and Harry clenched his teeth and fists to try and keep control on himself.

"Why not?" Malfoy sneered at him, and Harry didn't know if he had ever hated the other boy as much as he did at that very moment. "You talk about mine."

"I loved my mother."

"You never knew your mother."

That was the final straw. Harry flung himself at Malfoy, saw the blonde reaching into his pocket for his wand, but tackled him before he was able to use it. Blood surged and pumped through him, making his ear pound. He tried to hit Malfoy, to bash in his stupid face, to teach him to think he could talk that way to people. But he was so angry he could hardly see straight, and Malfoy was small and nimble. He squirmed away from Harry's fists and somehow managed to escape his grip.

"Stupefy!" Harry heard a shout, and scrambled to his feet just in time to see Angelina fall and Malfoy racing down the path. The rest of the Gryffindors were moving to Angelina, so Harry sprinted after Malfoy. His feet slipped in the forming mud and puddles on the path, and he skidded on the wet grass, but he kept going. Malfoy was fairly far in the distance, but he would be slowing soon. He had been running longer, and Harry knew that at least a few of his hits had to have connected. His predictions proved correct when Malfoy darted off the main path, toward a small enclosure sometimes used to store brooms and equipment not currently being used for Quidditch. So, he thought he could hide in there.

Harry fumbled in the pocket of his Quidditch robes for his wand, bumping his leather arm-guards against the fabric. He grasped it finally, fingers closing around the warm and familiar wood. He had almost reached the broom shed now, and drew his wand cautiously. He slowed to a walk and went carefully up the path. The wooden door was closed, and Harry opened it as slowly as possible. It barely squeaked, and he entered otherwise silently.

Malfoy was leaning up against the back wall between two old broomsticks, eyes shut and panting heavily. A bruise was already forming on his right cheekbone, and Harry had never seen him looking so fragile. The sight did not move him, however, and, without waiting for his rival to open his eyes, Harry shot forward and pinned Malfoy to the wall with an arm across his chest. Malfoy gasped in pain and his eyes snapped open. He continued to breathe heavily, and stared at Harry. With his head ducked partially forward, some strands of damp blonde hair hung in front of his raging eyes, and the usually collected boy looked positively feral in the shadows. Harry could feel his thin chest moving rapidly next to his arm.

"What're you going to do now, Potter?" Malfoy spat out his last name as though it was the foulest curse he could imagine. Harry glared at him and wondered if his eyes were expressing as much hatred as Malfoy's were. He certainly felt it, but the look Malfoy was giving him was downright evil, and Harry wasn't sure if he was capable of expressing emotion that deep with only the power of his eyes.

"I hate you." Harry could think of nothing else to say, and inched closer. "I hate you so much."

"My sentiments exactly," Malfoy hissed. Harry was closer than he thought he had ever been to Draco Malfoy…so close he could smell him. He smelt--there was no way Harry could describe it besides "expensive." Harry wondered if it was some ridiculously pricy cologne'Eau de Affluence'?) or if it was just a natural odour secreted by the very wealthy. He could almost smell the lingering remnants of pumpkin juice on Malfoy's breath. He forgot where he was for a moment, lost in his sensory exploration, until Malfoy cleared his throat nastily.

"As much as I would love to be pinned against a wall in a musty old broom shed by the great Harry Potter all afternoon, I do, unfortunately, have other obligations, such as Ancient Runes. So if you're going to hex me, which I assume is your intention, do get on with it."

Harry stared at Malfoy and marvelled. How did he do it? No matter what the situation, he always had something biting to say. Perhaps it was a skill obtained through the Dark Arts, or maybe it was a Malfoy family trait. The few times Harry had met Lucius, the elder Malfoy had been just as sardonic as his son. He watched, and Malfoy's expectant expression morphed as he rolled his eyes.

"Can't think of anything nasty, can you? There are quite a few lovely ones I could recommend, but somehow it doesn't seem appropriate to the situation." He paused, apparently considering something for a few moments. He leaned forward, pressing against Harry's arm. "I thought you Gryffindors were supposed to be brave."

"What?" Harry inched closer so he could put more weight into holding Malfoy back.

"The traits that stupid hat constantly spouts off. Ravenclaws are clever, Hufflepuffs are determined, Slytherins are dead sexy, and Gryffindors are brave."

"Yeah, I guess." Harry didn't see where this was all going. It seemed that was exactly the response Malfoy was hoping for, because his entire face lit up with fiendish delight.

"So is this a good example of the famed Gryffindor courage? Attacking an innocent bystander, chasing him to a secluded place, and holding him down so you can have your nasty way with him?"

"Shut up, Malfoy." Harry was suddenly very aware that he could feel Malfoy's heart beating against his arm, and that it was very stuffy inside the tiny shack. He was starting to feel slightly light-headed. He was so close to him, so very close to this thing he hated. Hated him. Hated, hated, hate, sate. Sate the burning in the pit of his stomach that might have been hatred, but might not have been.

"Make me," Malfoy sneered. And Harry did. Kissed him soundly, and though Draco's eyes widened in horror and surprise, after a moment or two he let them flutter closed. Why not? He thought. Might as well take the opportunity.