Friends tell you that you've changed and you look at them considering whether or not you should tell them exactly why. You know that you've been losing sleep and that you have lost enthusiasm for your schoolwork. Even Quidditch comes a very poor second to thinking about Draco Malfoy. You don't tell them anything though, and they leave even more concerned. You know that you're hurting them but you can't help it. Some things are better left unsaid. Especially when they concern the Boy Who Lived and his feelings for the last person in the world that they would expect him to have feelings for.
Most days, you don't know why you do. He's never given you any indication that he feels anything but contempt for you. He's never given you any reason to hope, but then you'll catch sight of him in an unguarded moment when he thinks no one is watching. You see that face, the one that normally wears a sneer or a superior smirk, restful, and occasionally you see a genuine smile. No malice, no cruelty, just real pleasure, and you wish it had been you that put it there.
For every smirk that he sends your way, you hope that one day, it might actually mean something. You go out of your way to provoke him when you meet him in the halls, in the hope that he might touch you, punch you or something. Anything that might bring your bodies close together, for then you think that surely he would feel the same thumping heartbeat, the same increased breathing, the same desire. When you look deep into his eyes as you're fighting with him, you search for the feelings in there. You never get anything but dislike and anger.
You can remember when he walked close to you to sneer and spit cruel words at you. You have no idea what those words were anymore, because all you can remember is the way his lips moved, and how his breath smelt. He was that close to you that you knew, you just knew that he felt your breath on his skin too. In fact you breathed out harder, just to watch the way his fringe moved over his brow, and a shiver ran up your spine when his eyes widened in surprise at the feel of it.
In some of your darker moments you wonder if that look of surprise is what you base your hope on. Because he was surprised at feeling your breath and he knew it was deliberate. It was only surprise, not anger, nor disgust, just surprise. He avoids all contact with you for weeks after that, even actively withdrawing from altercations and wearing the derision of even his housemates for that, and a little voice inside you tells you that you have affected him somehow. For better or for worse, you don't know, all you know is that things have changed. You can only hope for the better.
The situation worsens when his father comes to Hogwarts to visit. It seems to galvanise him into action and before long, you are back to fighting in the halls, hearing him spit out your name through lips you just want to kiss. You often wonder if you should just take the initiative and kiss him. At least you'd get to do it once before he returned to punching you.
Of course you don't kiss him, that would just give him too much ammunition, but you grow weary of the fight, weary of the hope that seems to dredge the life from you, seems to sap the light from your eyes. Although it is not in your nature to give up, you wonder whether you should. The little ball of hope is gradually being eroded as each day passes, until one day it feels like all hope has faded and disappeared, along with your fight.
That's when he surprises you. When you don't fight back anymore, he slams you up against the wall and yells at you; so close that if you moved in the slightest your lips would touch. Where before, when you still carried hope in your heart you might have moved those few centimetres and kissed him, now you just close your eyes. Whatever hope you carried, seems to have eaten away at the rest of you and you have nothing left. Not even fight.
But then, he kisses you and your eyes open wide in shock. It's over before you know it, but he whispers as he leaves that you should never give up hope.
There's every reason not to believe him and only one reason to believe that he's telling you the truth.
Because that's all you have left.
.o0o.Part Two: Your only Hope.
September 1st, 1991. That's the day it started really. The day you realised who you had been talking to in Madam Malkin's shop. He surprised you later at school by rejecting your hand. Of course being a Malfoy, you had expected that everyone knew who you were. But he didn't, and on that day, he earned your respect. Not that you ever, EVER let him know that.
The years pass with the occasional squabble, and you provoke him when you can, because every time you do, you learn something new about him. And, you watch him. As much as you can get away with and as often as the situation allows it. Your carefully masked emotions, learned so well at your father's side, assist you in allowing this, because hate and dislike between you is so much easier to hide behind than respect and friendship.
When in fifth year, he is responsible for putting your father in Azkaban, everything you know about him coalesces into a new picture. The respect you had for him as a person, not the Boy Who Lived, suddenly becomes hope. Your only hope. For the first time you see him as someone that will save you. It scares you so much that over that summer, where you have so much time for yourself without your father around, you take the time to analyse just exactly what it is that you have done by alienating him.
Not only has he become the Wizarding World's hope, he has become your own personal beacon as well. A chance for you to make your own decisions, live according to your own rules. You still don't like him very much, but you accept that you need him. For the next year, you watch closer than before, and despite making vague threats against him, you do nothing, watching as he copes with what you presume is the result of another desperate battle against Voldemort.
In your last year at Hogwarts, things change. Harry goes from mostly ignoring you to provoking you at every opportunity. You're almost flattered by the attention, but because you still manage to come off second – best as usual, you don't feel flattered at all. Not until the day he blew his warm breath across your face. On purpose. Once more he has surprised you, but you are not disgusted by it. After all, you do know how attractive you are, but you are surprised all the same.
Upon reflection, you see that he is indeed an emotional person. Everything he does is laced with passion, from Quidditch to standing up for what he believes. The fights he provoked between you loom clear in your mind, and looking at them from a different angle they now make sense. You take some time to think about what your best course of action should be, because you are not sure of terribly much anymore. Things have become confused and complicated. So, you avoid any confrontations and you make it obvious, so obvious that your housemates comment.
One day you receive a surprise visit from your father. He has of course, bought his way out of Azkaban once more. His visit scares you. He tells you that he wants you to take the mark at the end of your schooling and join him in fighting by Voldemort's side. That's the last thing you want, and your stomach swirls in oily nausea. So once more you look to Harry, wondering how long it has been since you started calling him Harry in your head. You don't want him, but you need him all the same, and so you play his game, because if you can keep his hope alive, then when he saves everyone else, he will save you as well.
Before long you are back to fighting with him, and you can see in his eyes that he wants you. You can see the desire and confusion every time he touches you. There is hope in his eyes, and you think that as long as that is alive then you'll be safe. One day. There are times when you can see the fierce need in him to kiss you, and you prepare yourself for that, but he never does.
Instead, the fight seems to drain from him and he become weary of everything. He hardly fights back anymore and there is no spark of passion in his eyes any longer. That's when something else becomes clear to you. The difference between a Gryffindor and a Slytherin. You will take advantage of Harry because you need him. You are a true Slytherin. Harry would rather let his hope die than take something not freely given. Harry is a noble Gryffindor. For a moment you are stunned, and all the names you had ever called the Gryffindor suddenly seem childish and misguided in the face of this.
It angers you in the end though. He's not supposed to just give up like that. Give you up like that. You know that he would never give up the fight against Voldemort like that and you can't have him give up on you either. The next time you see him, you slam him up against the wall and stand so close to him that you're breathing the same air. You yell something at him, but you don't remember what, because all you can see is those eyes of his. Those damned green eyes. You keep yelling at him, hoping to see the fight and the life come back into them, but he closes them.
In a final desperate move, you kiss him, and it's not terrible. You see his eyes spring open as you pull back, and the relief that you feel to see some life return to them is palpable. As you leave you whisper that he should never give up hope.
You still don't like him very much, but you need him. He's your only hope.