"Thirty-seven." Malfoy said dully.
Harry scanned his question paper, looking for the question. He noticed that Malfoy wasn't deigning to look over his own paper, a fact which would normally have irritated him, but he was somewhat preoccupied being irritated with everything else at that point, so it was difficult for him to care. Besides, he thought, maybe it was for the best. This way Malfoy's selections really were random.
His eyes landed on the question. "Are you comfortable with you're height?" he read.
He glanced at his own answer paper, which was laid on the Teacher's Table, out of habit rather than curiosity. Harry already knew his answer to the question. He also knew Malfoy's, and so it came as no surprise when he heard a weary "Yes" come from his left.
"Why?" Harry asked. Unlike Malfoy, he was capable of functioning despite his exhaustion, and so he kept his tone brisk.
Malfoy did not. "Because." he sighed petulantly.
Harry rolled his eyes and looked over at the Slytherin boy. Malfoy was sitting with his head propped up on his arm. It looked as though he might fall asleep right there. Harry watched him for a moment before acting. "Malfoy?" he said conversationally. "Do you remember that time in second-year when you used Tarantallegra on me?"
He hadn't even got to the end of the sentence before Malfoy perked up. He stuck out his chin and narrowed his eyes, clearly daring Harry to do something.
Harry, however, had already got what he wanted and quickly moved on. "So, why are you comfortable with you're height?" he asked again.
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with my height, that's why." he snapped.
Harry stared at him bewilderedly for a moment. "But… you're short." he pointed out, feeling very much as though he were explaining a concept such as 'The Sky Is Blue' or 'Dragons Can Hurt You' to a particularly dense three-year-old.
Judging by Malfoy's expression, he felt similarly incredulous. "Bit rich, coming from you, Potter." he remarked, with an exaggerated look up and down Harry. "Besides," he continued, now examining his fingernails. "What's wrong with being short? Not like there are any downsides to it."
There were times when Harry almost forgot that he had grown up with Muggles; he felt so completely at home in the Wizarding World that it just slipped his mind on occasions. Then, of course, there were times like this, when it was so painfully obvious that certain pureblood wizards were complete and totally idiots, when he was almost grateful for his Muggle start. Almost. Not quite. Though he supposed that might have been different, had he not lived with the Dursleys.
"You've never been beaten up, have you Malfoy?" he asked.
Malfoy stopped regarding his hand, and quirked a brow at Harry. "No." he admitted. "I haven't. And if you have, then I sincerely hope that halfwit Creevey was around to take a picture."
Harry shook his head despairingly and scanned the paper for his next question, but Malfoy was apparently unwilling to let the matter drop that easily.
"So go on then," he goaded, obviously delighted with this particular topic. "Who knocked you about, Potter? It can't have happened at Hogwarts - I would've heard about it." Which was perfectly true, Harry supposed. "One of the Weasleys get violent over the summer? If I had to pick one I'd go with one of those twins. Never seemed quite right in the head to me." he contemplated. "Or maybe the daughter, Jenny or whatever her name is. Seems a bit violent if you ask me. Besides, after that Chamber of Secrets incident you never can tell, can you? She could turn into a serial killer at any-"
"Oh shut up, you prat." Harry snapped angrily.
He would have done so much earlier, but he'd been having a great deal of trouble digesting the suggestion that the Weasleys knocked him about. Or, indeed, that Ginny Weasley was physically capable of knocking anyone about without the aid of a wand or a large stick of some sort. Despite Harry's interjection, Malfoy went on with his bizarre ponderings, apparently warming to it more and more the longer he went on talking.
"Could've been the mother, I guess. Ever since that Howler in Second Year, I've had my suspicions about her stability, if you know what I mean." Malfoy raised his finger to his temple and twirled it, to indicate insanity.
Harry felt his jaw clench.
Malfoy was looking contemplative. "Of course it wouldn't have to be the Weasleys… God knows, you associate with enough lunatics." he paused. "Was it the werewolf?" he asked after a moment. "Did he get violent with you when you were presenting him with his novelty, Teacher of the Year mug?" Malfoy raised his eyebrows sarcastically.
It was a gesture that infuriated Harry while simultaneously reminding him, in a general sort of way, of Fred Weasley. Not that he'd ever admit that, mind you. Instead he found himself subconsciously reaching for his wand. Not that he would ever use his wand, he assured himself; he was just looking for the comfort it provided.
"Or," Malfoy continued rancorously. "Maybe it was that demented Godfather of yours. A dozen years in Azkaban can't be good for your-" Malfoy caught sight of Harry's expression.
Judging by his suddenly wide eyes and nervous throat-clearing, Harry concluded that he must look fairly livid. A reaction which Harry considered perfectly reasonable, considering the fact that his loathed
Malfoy cleared his throat and straightened in his chair. "So, uh, what was your answer?" he asked in a tone that was verging on polite, but could be more accurately described as brisk.
Following his counterpart's business-like manner, Harry turned back to the papers in his hands, sat straight in his chair and attempted to behave as though nothing at all had occurred. "I answered yes." he said shortly. "For a different reason."
He did not elaborate, and instead began skimming over the next ten questions for his next selection.
Malfoy accepted his silence on the matter, acknowledging him with only a small "mmm" noise.
For some reason, Harry found the oppressive, awkward silence even more uncomfortable than the overtly hostile atmosphere that had existed before. He supposed that, now he was working alongside Malfoy rather than against him, he felt some vague guilt that they had nearly come to blows.
As soon as he identified this feeling, Harry quelled it as soon as possible and with remarkable ease. It was Malfoy after all, and any feelings of ignominy he may had felt could be easily countered by this fact.
"Question Forty-Nine." Harry read out, after a few moments' deliberation. "Do you think you would enjoy attending another (non-fictional) school more than you enjoy attending Hogwarts? If yes, please elaborate." Harry turned his head slightly to look at Malfoy, who was staring resolutely at his paper. "What did you put?" he asked rather superfluously, as he already knew precisely what Malfoy's response was, but that was hardly the point.
"No. This is the best school of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the world." Malfoy said simply. "Which," he continued, "Is quite worrying, when you think of all the other poor sods being educated around the planet."
Harry distinctly saw Malfoy's gaze flicker over to where Hagrid usually sat, but he chose not to comment on it. "I had more or less the same answer and reasoning." he said. "Your turn to pick a number."
"More or less?" Malfoy repeated curiously. "What was your reasoning?"
Harry shrugged, and requested Malfoy's chosen number again. Mainly because he flatly refused to tell Malfoy that the reason he would never be as happy at another school as he was at Hogwarts, was that no other school had Albus Dumbledore. Or, indeed, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Or even Professor McGonagall, who he'd been strangely fond of and terrified of ever since his first year.
Malfoy kept on sending him slightly suspicious looks, but once again he didn't question Harry too much. "Fifty-four." he decided, apparently randomly.
"If you had your choice of all magical creatures (As defined by the latest edition of 'Fantastic Beast and Where To Find Them, by Newt Scamander), which would you choose?" Harry dutifully recited. He didn't actually remember Malfoy's response to that one, and looked over to him with vague interest.
Malfoy was shuffling through his papers, apparently trying to find that particular sheet. Sleep deprivation obviously did not agree with Malfoy, since less than an hour previously he had been able to recite both his paper and Harry's paper with very little prompting.
"Runespoor." he announced at last, holding the answer page up like it was the Holy Grail.
Harry racked his brains to remember what the heck a Runespoor was. His mental image of his Fantastic Beast etc. textbook seemed to be stuck on the first page where he and Ron had played hangman. His couldn't for the life of him have told you what a Runespoor was. Fortunately, Malfoy's insatiable urge to talk saved them once again.
"I'm surprised you didn't pick that, Potter. What with being a Parselmouth and all." he commented, with only the barest hint of mocking in his tone.
Harry skimmed through all the snake-like creatures in Fantastic Beasts. Since he was absolutely positive that Runespoor was not a pet name for Basilisk, he decided that it must be that three-headed, bright orange snake that Dark Wizards used to keep. He could've rolled his eyes at Malfoy's choice.
"I'm a Parselmouth, not an idiot." he said scathingly. "You just want one because it would improve your image." he accused.
Malfoy adopted a sanctimonious expression. "I'll have you know, Potter, that I am fascinated by the creature itself. For example, it has three mouths and only one stomach - how does it decide which mouth gets to eat? Also, what happens when two of them are awake but the third one isn't? Do they have to wake it up before they can go anywhere?" he wondered aloud.
Harry frowned for a moment as he considered Malfoy's words. He had a point, Harry admitted to himself. In fact, he was very nearly on the verge of marching down to Hagrid's cabin and demanding answers when Malfoy added, "Besides, do you know how rare they are? You'd probably end up in the daily Prophet if you had one!"
Harry couldn't quite suppress an eye roll. "I see." he said, deliberately attempting a McGonagall impression. "Fascinating as that is, Malfoy, I think we can safely say my reason were different."
It was Malfoy's turn to roll his eyes. "Oh, yes, of course. Your and your Phoenix." Malfoy said with disgust. "No point asking why you'd want one of those, is there? With Dumbledore's dratted songbird, and you with your mini-Dumbledore complex."
Harry remembered reading that the song of the Phoenix gave strength and hope to those of pure heart, while striking fear in the impure. Malfoy's description of Fawkes as a "dratted songbird" confirmed Harry's long-standing suspicions, with regards to Draco Malfoy being a soulless, scheming little git. He was polite enough not to comment, however. "Actually," he said, in the same holier-than-thou tone that Hermione used when correcting Umbridge. "I think Phoenixes are great companions."
Malfoy snorted disbelievingly. Harry concluded that it was not worth his time pressing the matter.
As a matter of fact, Harry decided that a lot in the fifteen minutes that followed. More worryingly, he also got the impression that Malfoy was doing the same.
For example, when Harry explained he would rather wear shoes than go barefoot (Question Sixty-Two was - "When home alone, do you prefer shoes, socks, slippers, or bare feet?"), simply because it saved him the hassle of putting them on again when he had to rush off somewhere, Malfoy wore an expression which suggested that he was being forced to swallow an entire bottle of Skele-Grow. This was despite the fact that Malfoy, too, would rather wear shoes. His reasoning, however, was that anything else would look scruffy if unexpected company arrived - logic which baffled Harry, since surely anyone who walked in on you when you were in private would expect you to look scruffy?
Then, of course, there was the matter of their Favourite Annual Celebration (Question Seventy-Three). Both had agreed it was Halloween, but both had also agreed that the other's reasoning was ridiculous. Harry's reason was simply that Christmas had been somewhat tarnished in his mind by Mr. Weasley's attack and his less-than-enjoyable time in the Closed Ward; Halloween was his second favourite. A fact which Malfoy simply could not understand, as he repeatedly said "But your parents snuffed it on Halloween!"
Meanwhile, Harry could not understand Malfoy's fondness for the holiday. Apparently Lucius Malfoy had held a celebration for selected guests at his house every Halloween since his son was a year old, leading Malfoy to be quite enamoured with the occasion. Harry's repeated observations that they were probably all Death Eaters who just sat around bemoaning the Dark Lord's demise on that date X-amount of years ago, fell on deaf ears.
Both had been forced to give up and move on.
Question number Eighty-One was the first one that both boys agreed upon wholeheartedly. "Are you meticulous about broom maintenance?" Harry had read aloud.
Harry had not even had time to glance at his own vehement 'Yes', before Malfoy was launching into a heart-felt rant about people who were not meticulous about broom maintenance, denouncing them as philistines and idiots.
When Harry found himself joining in, both of them agreed to hurry onto the next question and never speak of it again. They probably would've done just that, if Cecil Crypture had not emitted a particularly loud snore at that very moment.
Harry, who had forgotten he was even there, jumped slightly at the noise. When he looked over to the Ravenclaw table, he saw the Ministry worker sitting with one side of his face firmly stuck to the table and a small pool of drool forming under his mouth. Harry grimaced and turned away.
Malfoy, on the other hand, was staring at the aforementioned drool with a kind of paralysed horror. "Good God," he exclaimed after a moment; a moment apparently spent waiting for the next globule to hit the table. "People have to eat at that table!"
Harry felt quite certain that the House Elves would give the Great Hall a once over before allowing people to eat at any of the tables, particularly since they had not yet been allowed in there due to Harry and Malfoy's continued presence. He did not mention this, however, as it might have calmed Malfoy down. It was not something Harry was prepared to risk.
"Are you going to pick a number, Malfoy, or just watch Crypture snore?" he asked sarcastically, enjoying Malfoy's look of horror a tad more than he should've.
Malfoy sent another revolted look at the Ministry worker and turned back to his papers. "Er, Ninety-nine." he said at last.
Harry looked down the page. "Do you think you'd be a good salesman?" he read. He glanced over at Malfoy, expecting him to share his answer.
Malfoy was, however, otherwise engaged. He was once again staring at Cypture with such aversion that he was physically shuddering every time the man inhaled.
"Malfoy?" Harry prompted, not particularly wanting to explain to Dumbledore that Malfoy had snapped and smothered their Ministry quiz-master with a conjured pillow. "We both answered no." he said loudly.
Malfoy blinked two or three times before looking back at Harry. "Oh. Right." he said distractedly. He shook his head like a wet dog, and looked down at the papers. "Sorry, what question did I say again?"
Harry told him, and asked his reasoning. In his mind, he was wondering what possible upbringing could lead to someone being that horrified by someone snoring and drooling in their sleep. True, Harry himself was more than a little put-off by the display, but he was still capable of functioning. Also niggling at his curiosity was the fact that Draco Malfoy slept in the same dormitory as Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle: If he was not yet desensitised to dribbling, wheezing lumps of flesh, then Harry was forced to wonder just how the Slytherin Dormitories were laid out.
"I said no." Malfoy announced.
A sigh escaped Harry's lips. "Ye-es." he said with as much patience as he could muster. "But why?"
"Because," he said dismissively. "It's such a plebeian sort of job, isn't it? No reason to ask why you'd be useless at it, of course." he went on scornfully. "The second anyone asked you if there was anything wrong with something in your shop, you'd tell them every single thing that was wrong with it and might go wrong with it in the future." Malfoy rolled his eyes for what seemed like the thousandth time that evening.
Harry said nothing in response; mainly because Malfoy's assessment of his answer and the reasoning behind his actual answer were somewhat similar. Instead he said in his firmest tone, "Question One-Hundred-and-Eight," He checked his paper. "Is there any item currently in your possession which you know you should throw away but don't?"
Silently, Harry cursed himself for picking that question as his thoughts lingered on the mirror in his trunk that Sirius had given him over Christmas. As he tried to think up a believable lie, he shot Malfoy a quick look.
Malfoy himself appeared to be doing some quick thinking.
An idea struck Harry. "I said yes," he told Malfoy carefully. "And I keep it for- Sentimental Reasons."
Malfoy looked momentarily grateful. Not at Harry, or anything, just generally grateful. "Yes," he said with a nod. "Yes, me too."
Nothing more was said on the matter.
Though he couldn't deny being interested in Malfoy's undisclosed sentimental object, Harry was more than willing to forget about the question for evermore if it meant that he would not be required to discuss Sirius with him. Harry briefly considered what Malfoy would be so reluctant to talk about. Then he realised that, for most people, items of sentimental value had to do with their families. And even Harry had to admit that he would be extremely acerbic about anything even vaguely related to Malfoy's family, no matter how ardently Malfoy himself may have felt about it.
Harry moved on. "Pick a number." he instructed.
"One-hundred-and-sixteen." Malfoy said.
Upon seeing what question one-hundred-and-sixteen was, Harry could not suppress a grin. "Do you feel hostile to any particular Hogwarts House?" he read out. "If yes, which House?"
Even Malfoy, whose humour had been grievously injured by Mr. Crypture's unfortunate behaviour while unconscious, snorted with laughter. Shockingly enough, he answered in the affirmative, specifying Gryffindor House in particular as the source of his antipathy.
"So why is that?" Harry asked, fully expecting some poppycock about half-breeds and mud-bloods.
"Because," Malfoy said, as though it were almost self-explanatory. "You're all sanctimonious, self-important, idiots who act morally superior to just about everyone."
Harry stared at him for a moment, surprised at the simplicity of the statement. Could it be? Was it really possible that Draco Malfoy was not simply a bigoted idiot who disliked any House that might admit a muggle-born? Could he simply dislike Gryffindor House? Just as Harry was beginning to have hope for the Pureblood wizards everywhere, Malfoy added "Besides, you're all crossbred nutcases anyway."
A few minutes later, when Harry had finished his diatribe decrying all of Slytherin House as a bunch of lying, scheming crooks, Malfoy commented acerbically "So, different answers; different reasons then?"
Harry glared. "It would seem so," he agreed.
"Right then," Malfoy said cheerfully. "Next question?"
Harry nearly growled.
Question number one-hundred-and-twenty-five, "Would you ever keep a diary?", turned out to be another point of contention between the two, despite both responding negatively. Harry because he was of the opinion that only sociopath and POWs kept diaries - The former for their own, personal glorification and the latter purely to cope. Malfoy took a different approach, and wondered what would happen should someone ever read his diary. Harry's thoughts on the matter ("Who would want to?") were ill-received.
"One-hundred-and-thirty-five!" he hissed, after Harry had commented that written accounts of a tryst with Pansy Parkinson were hardly likely to top the best-seller list.
Harry docilely searched out question one-hundred-and-thirty-five. He could afford to be docile, because a muscle in Malfoy's jaw was twitching. "Do you have any unreasonable phobias?" he quoted.
"No." Malfoy responded instantly.
Taking a bit more time, just because he could, Harry looked over his answer paper. "Me neither. Why don't you?"
Malfoy got a superior look. "No one in my family is ever unreasonable." he proclaimed in an nauseatingly pretentious way.
Harry raised his eyebrows. "Hang on. Isn't Bellatrix Lestrange your Aunt or something?" he pointed out.
Malfoy looked temporarily crestfallen before he once again adopted a haughty expression. "No one in my immediate family is ever unreasonable." he corrected himself. "Anyway, why don't you?" he asked Harry, apparently aware that he was treading on thin ice.
Though he would have dearly loved to prove that the Malfoys were all a bunch of maniacs, Harry was painfully aware that they were on the second to last question. He was also aware that, so far, his theory had pretty much been supported. He was not about to draw an argument out now.
"I said no. I don't think there's such a thing as an unreasonable phobia. Every phobia has a reason behind it," he declared, expecting to move on fairly quickly.
Apparently Malfoy felt differently. "I beg your pardon?" he said incredulously.
Harry repeated himself, assuming that the Slytherin halfwit hadn't heard him. However it became clear that this was not the problem.
"Listen here, Potter, there are some perfectly unreasonable phobias. Daphne Greengrass, for example-"
"Who?" Harry asked, not having the faintest idea who Daphne Greengrass was, or even if that was a real name.
Judging by Malfoy's affronted look it was, indeed, a real name. "Daphne Greengrass." he repeated. "Slytherin. Fifth year. Long, kind of chestnut coloured hair. Blue eyes. Shorter than either of us. Always has her head stuck in some book or another."
Harry tried desperately to remember someone in Slytherin House fitting that description, but found himself coming up quite at a loss. In fact the only person he could think of who even vaguely matched Malfoy's account was a girl he'd bumped into in a hallway a few days earlier. He'd assumed her to be a muggle-born Ravenclaw, as he'd picked up her copy of The Count of Monte Cristo for her just a short way away from where Cho had indicated Ravenclaw Tower was. Apparently he was wrong. "Oh, her," he said. "I didn't realise she was in Slytherin."
Malfoy sniffed. "Well, she is," he said. "And she is deathly afraid of things that flutter."
Harry shot Malfoy a confused look.
He shrugged. "I swear to God - Things that Flutter. Butterflies, fairies, moths; anything fluttery and she goes mental. Now are you telling me that you consider this reasonable behaviour?" he asked.
"No." Harry admitted. Before Malfoy had a chance to look satisfied, he continued, "But it's obviously reasonable to her."
Malfoy clearly didn't agree, but he continued on regardless. "All right, what about Blaise Zabini? He was afraid of Moody's eye!" he announced, clearly thinking that he had just won the argument.
"So was I," Harry said simply. "The thing was just creepy."
They continued in this manner for a few minutes, with Malfoy pointing out the 'unreasonable' fears of his peers (Including clowns, heights, priests, Muggles, ticking-clocks and jam doughnuts) while Harry agreed with or accepted them all, without blinking an eye.
Eventually, he got the other boy to shut up by saying "Look Malfoy, do you really want to be stuck here all night, listing the aversions of every Slytherin under the sun while Crypture is over there snoring and dribbling, and we both become more and more exhausted, or do you want to get a move on?"
Malfoy honestly seemed to think about it for a moment.
While he was doing so, Harry picked a number. "Question one-hundred-and-forty-seven." he said.
"I hadn't decided yet." Malfoy muttered, without much force. If the dark circles under his eyes were anything to go by, he couldn't have said it with much force even if he wanted to.
Harry sent Malfoy the most withering glare he could conjure up. It had very little effect of the knackered boy, but it didn't really matter. "Question one-hundred-and-forty-seven," he repeated. "Do you consider yourself a trusting person?"
"Nope." Malfoy said, while stifling a yawn.
Harry asked why.
"Common sense," he responded. "You?"
"Experience." Harry said bitterly. Or at least he was aiming for bitter. He may have just sounded uninterested, which was precisely what he was at that point. He began gathering up his various papers and attempting to re-organise them. The largely uneaten tray of food lay further down the table, making Harry wonder for a moment if he should take it down to the kitchens or not. He decided against it, when he tried to imagine any of the House Elves letting the Great Hall go without being tidied before Breakfast the following day. "Right then," he said once his papers were in order. "We're done. And we are completely different."
Malfoy looked over hopefully. "We are?" he asked.
"We are." Harry confirmed.
"Nothing in common?"
"Less than most people, at any rate."
"Thank God." Malfoy said with great satisfaction as he, too, started to arrange his assorted papers into order.
As both of them were busy congratulating themselves on their utter dissimilarity, Cecil Crypture let out a particularly loud snort. So loud, in fact, that it even woke him up albeit for a few shorts seconds. He jerked awake and then instantly settled in again, smacking his lips together wetly.
Harry narrowed his eyes. On his left, he was fairly certain Malfoy had done the same.
There was a moment's seething silence before either of them spoke. "Oh, Potter?" Malfoy said.
"Mm?" Harry asked, not taking his eyes off Crypture, the man who had landed him in there in the first place.
"Would you mind if we took care of something before we go?"