Disclaimer: Anything you recognize, barring jam, isn't mine, and is the property of JKR, etc. C'mon, you know the drill by now! ;)
Warnings: Un-beta'd. Outrageous amounts of OOC-ness. DM/HP, bits and pieces of slash and jam orgies. Also, beware of unstable humor attempts.
A/N: It was a dark and stormy night, and I really wanted some toast and jam. Um. And that's probably when the trouble started.
Long before he'd discovered that his first class of the day was Double Potions, and before he'd realized that he'd forgotten to do his Charms essay, and before Ron and Hermione had gotten into their biggest and most ridiculous squabble ever, Harry had known that it was going to be a bad day.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" asked Hermione.
A very, very bad day.
"Strawberry." Harry repeated. "Out. Jam. Mine."
"Er – maybe you should try the grape?" Ron suggested.
Because Ron was his best friend, Harry was going to pretend he hadn't just said that.
Bad. Bad day.
"Strawberry," said Harry again. He always had strawberry jam. Always. Always. Always had strawberry. It was his breakfast meal: Toast. And strawberry jam.
Ron and Hermione exchanged looks. Not very good friends, Harry thought, if they couldn't even remember that he hated grape and had eaten strawberry every day for the last seven years.
"The marmalade isn't bad," said Neville hopefully. He pushed it towards Harry.
"Thank you," said Harry, but didn't touch it. He surveyed the other tables.
What was the world coming to when there were no jars of strawberry jam in sight?
"It's only jam," said Ron, looking confused. "Just have some kippers, yeah?"
"It's not just jam," Harry said loyally. "It's a way of life."
The surrounding Gryffindors within a five-foot radius stared.
Hermione scraped some marmalade jelly on her piece of toast. Traitor, Harry thought. Walk the planks!
"Did you do your homework, Harry?" she asked. Harry held a mutinous silence. "We have Double Potions first today, you know."
A bad day. Very bad.
Possibly the worst day ever. Harry mournfully stirred in his salamander eyes and avoided breathing loudly for fear of another detention. How was he to have known that unicorn tears cost more than his Firebolt? It wasn't Harry's fault that Hermione had dropped the entire bottle all over Malfoy.
Except he may have run into her. A little bit. And made her spill her it.
It wasn't Harry's fault, though! Malfoy had been talking — well, hissing, more like, which was sad because Harry had always considered Parseltongue to be a sacred language and now it was ruined forever — and Harry'd had to know what he was talking about. He could've been plotting, or doing something equally sneaky, like with the fake Dementors and the "Weasley Is Our King" and —
Well, Harry'd had to listen. It was totally understandable. But then he hadn't been able to, because Hermione had to go and try and help him with his potion, and the unicorn tears had spilled, and now he had detention. And Malfoy had laughed at him and Harry hadn't been able to hear what he was saying.
Definitely the worst day ever.
Harry scowled at Hermione. She bared her teeth at him in return, and he shrank back. He wasn't actually sure how Ron could be… dating her. Hermione was nice, as a friend; she had helpful insights to feelings and emotions and was good with homework and stuff, but she was — she was Hermione, just like Ginny was Ginny and Ron was Ron. And she was a bit scary.
He gave her a hopeful smile.
Harry hurriedly turned back to his potion. He could listen to Malfoy now, at any rate, because Snape had made Harry sit in the back of the room, behind Malfoy's stupid, shiny hair with the spiders, which he was probably hoping would scare Harry but didn't because Harry'd once had a pet spider that had mysteriously combusted one day when Harry was mad at Dudley.
…Suddenly, that made a bit more sense now. Harry felt immensely guilty as he added exactly eight spider legs to his potion and gave it a half-hearted swirl before leaning forward a little. He hoped his rather poor eavesdropping skills weren't noticeable enough for Malfoy to turn around and choke him to death, because Hermione certainly wouldn't be helping him.
"This is the worst day ever," Malfoy whined, and Harry perked. His day was already ten times better, because at least Malfoy was suffering like he was. "My new robes! I hate Granger." A pause, and then, sulkily, "And I really, really hate Potter. Clumsy oaf."
Shiny-head, Harry thought back triumphantly. He joy dampened when he realized he was insulting the mentally unstable. Still, Harry couldn't help that Malfoy's parents were nutters and had raised him into a sadistic, walking black hole of Slytherin-ness.
"I never would've thought," said Zabini, dryly enough to make Harry think of the alarming lack of water in the Sahara desert.
"No," said Malfoy thoughtfully, "Everyone else does seem to love him. I must be unique."
"Oh, absolutely," said Zabini. Harry hoped he would push Malfoy in the potion. "Unique. That's it. Exactly."
Harry was pretty sure there was an Exactly not what I mean, you nutcase, hanging off the end of that sentence somewhere, crying out as it was lost in the sea that was Malfoy's obliviousness.
Then Malfoy flicked a piece of dead caterpillar down Zabini's robes with an amused sort of scowl, so he obviously had picked up the message and was now probably dangling it over the edge of the sea vindictively. Or he wasn't nearly as stupid as Harry had thought, which was shattering so many hopes and dreams of Malfoy being sent back to primary school so that he could learn nice, un-Death Eater things like manners and courtesy that it was hard to keep count. Harry privately mourned his loss.
"The worst part of this day, though," Malfoy said, affecting a miserable sort of sigh as Zabini fished the caterpillar out of his robes and Harry wondered how anyone could ever put up with him, "The worst part is much more devastating than ruined robes."
Malfoy had probably run out of hair gel. Or his mother had refused to give him a personal island. Or another plot against Harry had failed. Harry couldn't hear, in any case, because Malfoy had dropped his voice into a conspiratorial whisper that was totally unnecessary since he was Snape's favorite, and therefore unlikely to get a detention even if he set the room on fire. Harry took a half side-step over get into hearing range again.
"Oh, do tell," said Zabini. "Does it have anything to do with those enormous bags under your eyes, or were too busy with Smith to even notice you had them?"
Too busy with Smith? Harry wondered. What, exactly, did that mean? He checked, and decided it didn't matter: Malfoy did have bags under his eyes! Hah!
"Don't be daft," Malfoy drawled loftily, so irritating that Harry would have liked to smash his pale face inside out. Or take up a permanent relationship with some earmuffs. "They're not enormous. Jealousy isn't becoming, Blaise."
He paused. "Besides, I have standards."
Which made absolutely no sense to anyone with even a half of a brain, Harry wanted to point out, because how could you have standards with the bags under your eyes? Did Malfoy talk to his face? I'd rather if you could be a little bit smaller today – yes, yes, that's quite fine. No zits today, if you please.
Zabini smiled, however, in obvious understanding. Harry had always liked Zabini, as far as Slytherins went, and compared to Malfoy's git-face, thought he had very nice skin. It was sad to see him fall to Malfoy's levels of insanity.
Not that he was comparing the skin of two male Slytherins.
Worst. Day. Ever.
Zabini heaved a rather amused sigh and carefully slid six ounces of shrivelfig root into their cauldron. Harry realized he'd been stirring his potion for half a minute too long and hastily followed suit.
"What was the worst part?" he asked drolly.
Malfoy beamed. It was rather disconcerting to see his face as lit up as his stupid hair was when it hit the sunlight. Zabini apparently thought so as well, because he gave Malfoy a dazed sort of smile. Harry half expected Malfoy to hand him a small pamphlet reading: You have done well, minion; I shall bestow upon you England when I rule the world.
"The worst part," he said, his face darkening into a look usually reserved for funerals, "Is the horrible injustice that was wrought upon the poor, defenseless students of Hogwarts this morning."
Harry wracked his brain: Had someone released a Flobberworm on the firsties during his jam dilemma this morning? Had Hagrid scarred someone by accidentally setting his clothes on fire again?
…Had someone found the strawberry jam and not told Harry?!
"My childhood is ruined," Malfoy continued, sounding forlorn. "I don't know if I shall ever be the same."
We grew up in a war, Harry thought indignantly, at the same time as Who uses words like "shall?" and The world would be a better place.
He had paused, looking thoughtful. "I wonder if I could sue?"
"Oh," said Zabini. He sounded both vaguely disappointed and heavily amused. As if Malfoy were amusing. Slytherins were so odd. "They were out of strawberry jam at breakfast, weren't they?"
Harry's potion exploded as he slid off of his stool. He thought his mind probably did, too.
"I don't see what the big deal is, Harry," said Hermione impatiently as they hustled to the Charm's classroom. "Maybe you and Malfoy have more in common than you think."
"We do not!" Harry protested, horrified.
"You're both teenage boys," Hermione huffed. She was obviously still quite a bit cross about the whole Unicorn-Tears-Potion-Everywhere-Thing, although Harry would've thought when he toppled his own cauldron onto his head, the humiliation might've made up for something. "You both like Quidditch. You're both very... passionate. And you both enjoy strawberry jam, apparently. There's three things already."
"He does not," Harry scowled. "Strawberry jam is mine. He can't have it."
Hermione narrowed her eyes and made a little noise in the back of her throat that made her sound like an angry Crookshanks.
Crookshanks had once shredded Harry's six-foot long Transfiguration essay out of pure spite. Harry shrank back as they stepped into the Charms classroom. Hermione stomped over to her seat and plopped her bag on the other side of Ron's seat.
"I have detention," Harry informed Ron gloomily, slouching into his chair, before Hermione could get a word in and unfairly bias him. "For the next two months. Every Friday. And Malfoy does not like strawberry jam."
"For what?" asked Ron eagerly. He'd decided not to take Potions this year, and was forever after Harry to provoke the Slytherins in his absence. "Did you poison Malfoy?"
He was avoiding the larger issue. Harry wanted to throttle him.
"No, he did not." Hermione said sharply, glaring at the two of them. "Get out your Charms essay, both of you; you know Flitwick's going to be asking for them first thing."
"Nothing in common." Harry muttered rebelliously, and then, with sinking horror: "We had a Charms essay?"
"Bad luck, mate," said Ron, Harry's true and best-est friend, that night in the Common Room. "Detention with Flitwick and Snape? Bloody hell, you won't have time for Quidditch."
"It's his own fault," said Hermione, Harry's un-true and ex-friend, tartly. "Honestly, Harry, how could you have forgotten about your essay? Didn't you write it down in the planner I gave you?"
This sparked a bit of guilt. Where was that thing, anyways? "Er, yeah," Harry lied. "Of course."
"It's not his fault Snape's a git," said Ron off-handedly. "Right, Harry?"
"And it's not Snape's fault Harry wasn't paying attention and caused me to drop a vial of priceless unicorn tears!" said Hermione shrilly, before Harry could vehemently agree. "Maybe if Harry spent a little bit more time on his lessons and less time on things like Malfoy and Quidditch and jam—" (Harry gasped in outrage) "—he wouldn't get detention all the time!"
She was glaring at Ron instead of Harry, though, and then spun on her heel and stalked away without looking back.
"Bloody hell," said Ron, sounding bewildered. He sent Harry a cross look. "Why's she mad at me?"
Hermione understood some things, Harry thought, but she didn't understand this.
There was no strawberry jam again the next morning.
This is wrong, Harry thought pitifully. It had to be stopped! Innocent children were jam-less!
"Look, mate," said Ron, looking uncomfortable. He was sitting two seats away from Hermione, who was pointedly ignoring him. "Maybe—"
"No." said Harry sharply. "I want my jam."
Ron gave him a wary look. Harry scowled.
By the end of the week, Harry couldn't take it anymore. He stared woodenly at the Gryffindor table on Friday morning and didn't bother to sit.
"There's no jam again," Ron ventured. He seemed slightly unnerved by Harry's silence.
"I know," said Harry in a steely voice. He stalked over to the Hufflepuff table and plopped down next to Hannah Abbott.
"Excuse me," he said, more to catch her attention than to be polite, "Is there any strawberry jam here?"
"I-Huh?" She blinked. "Harry? What are you doing here?"
"Strawberry jam," Harry urged.
"Oh — no, there hasn't been any for a few days, I don't think—"
"Thank-you," said Harry curtly, and headed straight for the Ravenclaw table. His heart sank when Terry Boot also denied him.
"You might check the Slytherin table," Boot suggested. "I know Malfoy likes strawberry jam; he's probably hoarded it all—"
"No, he doesn't," said Harry coldly. Boot looked offended, but Harry ignored him and made his way back to Ron.
"You didn't ask the Slytherins," said Hermione, eyes glinting.
"All Slytherins hate jam."
"Don't be ridiculous," she snapped, slathering her traitor-toast with traitor-marmalade. "You can't regulate what another House can or cannot like."
She just doesn't understand, Harry thought sadly. The marmalade had already invaded her brain. Because if Malfoy liked strawberry jam, that meant he wasn't all bad. No one who liked strawberry jam could be all bad.
And if Malfoy wasn't all bad… What was he?
Harry pondered this question during Transfiguration, and accidentally transformed his finger into a banana. He pondered it during History of Magic, when he could have been sleeping. He pondered during Quidditch and got hit by a Bludger. He pondered in detention and got another weeks worth. None of this particularly bothered him.
This question needed to be answered.
If Malfoy wasn't all bad… What was he?
Irritating, certainly. But he was Slytherin, so maybe that came naturally.
Vain. But his hair was rather shiny, so maybe that was natural too.
Harry really didn't know what Malfoy was like, and he found that strange, because Malfoy was his rival, and shouldn't he know things like that? He didn't, usually – he couldn't name all the people in his year, even if he tried, but this was Malfoy. Harry should know him by now, at least, but Harry didn't even think he could name Malfoy's favorite color.
Not that he cared, but he still should know. If he didn't know that, than what else about Malfoy didn't he know? Malfoy could be up to no good and Harry wouldn't even know because Harry didn't know Malfoy.
That was no good.
The strawberry jam gods demanded justice.
The strawberry jam gods demanded that Harry get to know Malfoy.
Or maybe, Harry thought hopefully, the strawberry jam wasn't really telling him to learn more about Malfoy. Maybe it was actually saying something along the lines of Please pound Malfoy's face in. MaybeHarry was misinterpreting, and Malfoy was really just a pointy git, and Harry could got back to hating him in peace without worrying about his favorite color.
But it had never lied to him before. And if Malfoy liked it, than Harry owed seven years of strawberry goodness to at least talk to him.
If he could figure out the Slytherin Table Jam Mystery at the same time, well, that was good too.
"So," said Ron, sounding horrified, "You want to be his friend?"
"No," said Harry. This time made sure to dodge the Bludger, as it was Quidditch again and Malfoy was not going to be the cause of another bruise. "I just want to converse. Of jam. Jam converse. Conversing of the jam."
Ron was giving him a look. It reminded Harry of the ones he sometimes gave to Hermione when she began to do that girl-talk thing.
"Jam conversions," he repeated faintly.
"Yes, exectly," said Harry, pleased.
Ron took a deep breath.
"Harry," he said, finally, "You know I will always support you." He swallowed. Loudly. "Even if you want to chat up Malfoy over jam."
"Ron!" Harry exclaimed indignantly, and then, in a hushed whisper, "Do you think I should?"
Ron made a croaking noise and fell off his broom. That was rather funny, Harry thought, because the Bludgers were on the other side of the field.
But still, it was definitely Malfoy's fault.
"You didn't go to the Slytherin table," said Hermione, the same way she had every day when Harry returned from his Jam-Hunting. She flapped open the Daily Prophet smugly.
"I know," said Harry. He'd only circled back around to make sure any jam hadn't mysteriously appeared while he was gone. "Don't worry."
Hermione slammed her paper on the table as he turned away again.
"Where are you going?!"
"To find my jam," said Harry, and headed deliberately to the Slytherin table.
Strawberry jam, Harry reminded himself, and squeezed into the small space between Crabbe and Malfoy. He peered around the table.
"Hullo," said Harry.
The entire Seventh-Year section of the Slytherin table fell deathly quiet. Eerie, Harry thought. "Are Slytherins naturally creepy, or do you lot practice this together?"
"Potter," Malfoy spat. He looked startled, at first, then irritated, before his face slide into a cool, haughty sort of mask that made his entire face seem sort of pinched. Harry considered telling him this. "To what do we owe this pleasure?"
He made it sound like: I will kill you.
"Well," said Harry, and tried not to notice when Crabbe stabbed him in the ribs with a large elbow, "Actually, I was wondering if there was any strawberry jam here?" Harry didn't think so; not after Malfoy's I-Shall-Sue-Hogwarts spiel, but he cast a hopeful sort of glance at the table anyway.
There was not a jar in sight.
"There is a sad lack of strawberry jam in this school." Harry stated solemnly.
"I think," said Malfoy, who was looking startled again, "That now I understand why Mother always told me to stay away from drugs." Then he narrowed his eyes. "Are you mocking me, Potter?"
The strawberry jam had lied. There was nothing worth learning about Malfoy and Harry wanted to shove his face in the nearest wall.
Failing that, he wouldn't have said no to having some jam, either.
"No," he said, feeling a bit betrayed.
He and Malfoy blinked at each other.
"Is there none at your table either?" Malfoy asked.
Harry hesitated, but: "No. Or the others."
The rest of the Slytherins seemed mute. Zabini was blinking rapidly. Parkinson had a spoon held half-way up to her mouth.
It was a direct sign from the strawberry-gods: Either Malfoy suddenly wanted to carry on a conversation with Harry (it seemed unlikely), or he really did like strawberry jam. Harry wasn't sure which was worse.
Then again (and Harry had his hopes up), maybe he just delighted in shocking his House-mates.
"Hmm," said Malfoy, in a calculating tone. His eyes glinted strangely. It was scarily similar to the look he got right before he landed Harry in detention. Harry felt the urge to flee.
"Er," said Harry. He felt it was probably best to leave politely, given that Crabbe's elbow was still digging into him and probably dislodging his ribcage. "That's it, then." He attempted to gently remove Crabbe's elbow, but Crabbe just dug it in harder.
"Hmm," Malfoy repeated.
Harry made a run for it. He could take the bruised ribs, but not the terrifying look in Malfoy's eyes.
He revisited the Slytherin table for the next few days, in hopes of both finding some strawberry jam and discovering that Malfoy had secret hidden depths.
He had to be decent. Had to be!
"I'm sure he is, down deep," said Hermione, who had recovered quite well from seeing Harry sit with the Slytherins. Ron still looked afflicted. She glanced up from her book for a moment. "Very, very deep."
"Hidden depths," Harry agreed. "He must."
Hermione sighed and gave him a concerned look. "You can't judge someone by what type of jam they like, Harry."
"Jam never lies." said Harry stoically.
The next day, Malfoy demanded that Harry be his partner in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Lupin looked startled. Harry certainly was.
"But, Professor," said Malfoy innocently, "Surely you don't mind us promoting House unity?"
Malfoy had always been a sneaky bastard.
For the jam! Harry thought bravely. And also, perhaps, to find Malfoy's hidden depths of goodness.
"It's okay, Professor," he said. "I don't mind."
Now the rest of the class looked shocked, too.
"Alright," said Lupin uncertainly. Harry quickly made his way over to Malfoy's desk before Zabini's glare could turn him into a pile of ash. "I suppose if you want to partner while taking notes that's — fine. Fine. Yes. Well, back to vampires..."
"I talked to Professor Snape," Malfoy hissed, as soon as Harry had sat down, and gave him a look that said, quite clearly: Bow before my awesome prowess!
Harry wasn't going to give into that. "So?"
He opened his textbook and took out a fresh quill, purposefully frowning at Malfoy until Malfoy made an exasperated noise.
"About the jam, you twat!"
He suddenly had Harry's full and undivided attention, even when Lupin began to talk about vampire teeth (Harry had a bit of a fascination). Malfoy had a Quick-Notes Quill out, set to Facts, which was strictly against school policy, but Harry had more important matters to attend to.
"Yes," said Malfoy impatiently. His lips twitched in annoyance. They were very pink, compared to the rest of his face. "I've learned some… information."
Harry didn't know how Malfoy turned "information" into sex personified, but he drawled it like a lover's name, with a wiggle of his eyebrows and a smirk. It was very distracting.
Harry wondered if Malfoy had become Snape's mistress to get the information and decided it was possible. Probable.
"Don't you want to know what I found out?" Malfoy pressed.
"No," said Harry dryly, and then, because it seemed timely, "Bastard. Of course I do."
Malfoy gave him a lofty look. "What's it worth to you?"
Deep, Harry reminded himself. Malfoy's goodness was buried.
"Is it worth your face?" he asked sweetly, giving Malfoy a very provocative poke with his wand.
"No need to get nasty," said Malfoy, who clearly realized that Lupin was probably the only teacher Harry would never offensively attack another student in front of. Harry scowled at him, but Malfoy let the silence drift onward and eyed Harry lazily as his Quill took notes. Harry resisted the urge to do… something to that pink, smug little mouth.
"He said," Malfoy intoned, at length, possibly because he saw the insanity growing in Harry's eyes, "That Dumbledore told the House Elves not to serve it anymore because too few students were eating it. Can you imagine the nerve?"
Every modicum of respect Harry'd ever had for Professor Dumbledore was oozing down the drain with the rest of Harry's hopes for any more strawberry-filled breakfasts.
"I quite agree," said Malfoy. It was a disconcerting to think that Malfoy could read him that well, but then Harry realized he'd spoken aloud.
"Not that I had much respect in the first place, of course," Malfoy added. "I've always thought Professor Snape would be a better Headmaster."
Harry's body tried to spontaneously combust, or the way Malfoy leaned close to whisper in his ear in was making his chest convulse. Possibly it was both.
"I would kill myself," he declared.
"Yes," said Malfoy. "Like I said. Better."
"Hold on," said Ron, with a pained expression. "He told you to — work your wiles — on the Headmaster? And you're listening?"
"Well," said Harry blankly, "Yes." After a moment of silence, he added, "I hope I don't have to become Dumbledore's mistress."
Ron made a distressed noise. Harry gave him a concerned-yet-manly pat on the back.
"Wait — mate—" Ron pleaded. "Just — you're not about to go have some — some sort of orgy with Malfoy, are you?"
Really, Ron had been listening to too many Slytherin Secrets Tales from Seamus.
"Er," said Harry, smiling shiftily. "Hah. Haha. Of course not."
There was a pause.
Ron closed his eyes. "You know what, Harry," he said, "I'm trying to be a good friend, but – I just don't care anymore. Just go. Do what you need to do."
"Okay," Harry chirped, and trotted off to the Headmaster's office.
Silly Ron, he thought fondly.
How could there be orgies with no jam?
"It didn't work," Harry announced to the Slytherins the next morning, after touching Jam-Base with the other House tables. He hadn't actually sat with the Slytherins since the first morning, out of respect for his injured ribs.
Plus, he had a feeling they all wanted to kill him. Let it never be said that Harry did not have a sense of self-preservation when it came to Malfoy and his Slytherins.
"You are a failure," said Malfoy, who was always more grumpy before he had at least two cups of coffee. Harry wasn't sure if it was a Step In the Right Direction that led him to notice this, or purely survival instinct. "At life. Get out of my sight."
Curiosity killed the Slytherin, Harry thought, and said slowly: "Well, alright then. Guess I'll just go by myself."
Zabini growled at him. "Go away, Potter. Draco's not going to fall for that—"
"Go where?" Malfoy interrupted suspiciously, eyeing Harry over the edge of his coffee cup.
Zabini made a sound of mourning and buried himself in Parkinson's shoulder. She patted his shoulder sadly.
Harry shrugged, just to be a bit mean. "Be seeing you, Malfoy," he said, striding out of the Great Hall.
He'd gotten to the count of five before Malfoy came stomping out, still clenching his cup of coffee in one hand and scowling fiercely.
"I demand that you bring me wherever you're going," Malfoy said. "Especially if you're going to get jam."
"Don't think so," said Harry, who hadn't actually decided whether or not he wanted to bring Malfoy along or just hold the knowledge above his head.
Malfoy waved his coffee-hand threateningly. "Potter," he snapped, "If you get jam and I don't, I'll make sure you can never eat it again."
Harry was looking. He really, really was, but he was pretty sure Mother Goodness had just skipped right over Malfoy when he was born.
"Give me a reason."
Malfoy paused and took a thoughtful sip of coffee. "Well," he said. "I hate you, but I hate not having jam more." He looked slightly surprised at the revelation.
Harry thought that was pretty fair.
Malfoy observed him clinically as they paused by the hidden kitchen doorway.
"Aha!" he said. "We are at a portrait. Of a pear. Obviously the pear is going to spew out some jam for us."
Harry was beginning to regret bringing him.
"And now – My God, Potter, did you just fondle—"
The portrait swung open. Harry tried his hardest to ignore all thoughts containing Malfoy and fondling.
Malfoy took in the sight of the kitchens in a long sweep.
"House Elves!" he cackled, before swinging down upon them like the Grim Reaper.
It was slightly terrifying to watch all the House Elves throw themselves at Malfoy's feet. And also strangely amusing.
Harry had larger issues to deal with.
"Shut up, Malfoy," he commanded, and then, more politely, to the House Elves, "You can stop dancing now."
They stopped. Malfoy looked disappointed. Oddly, so did the House Elves.
"We're here on a mission," Harry reminded Malfoy. "Um, is Dobby around?"
There was a pause. All the House Elves shared a dark look.
"We is getting Dobby," one of them promised, and they hustled out. Dobby popped into the room with loud cry a few seconds later.
"Harry Potter has come to visit Dobby!"
"Hello, Dobby," said Harry. He gently tried to shake Dobby off of his leg without kicking him in the face. He wasn't sure if it worked. "Listen, I need you to do me a favor."
"Anything for Harry Potter!" Dobby cooed. Harry very distinctly avoided Malfoy's gaze as Malfoy made a coughing noise that sounded eerily like Potter's got a sex slave.
Dobby glanced at Malfoy, clutched his ears, and then focused his gaze on the ovens.
"Oh, no you don't," said Harry firmly, grabbing ahold of Dobby's tattered clothing. "No punishing yourself. We have a serious problem."
"Harry Potter is in trouble?" Dobby looked heartened, which Harry thought was rather disturbing. Still, all was fair in love and jam.
"Emotionally," Harry assured him. He felt like a bit of a bastard for taking advantage of Dobby's loyalty, but comforted himself with the fact that Malfoy probably felt like that all the time. "I need you to do something for me, but you have to keep it a secret."
"Dobby will keep Harry Potter's secrets," Dobby whispered. His eyes were large and teary. Behind Harry, Malfoy snorted in ill-concealed amusement, and Harry's neck flushed.
"Good," said Harry. "Do you think you could get us some strawberry jam?"
Dobby gasped so loudly that for a minute Harry thought he had misspoken and said something like Can we please sacrifice your mother to the Slytherin orgies?
"Master Dumbledore is telling us to throw away all the strawberry jam!"
No sacrificing of the mothers. This was good.
"I know," said Harry, in what he hoped was a soothing tone. Dobby looked entranced, but Harry wasn't sure if that was because of his voice or Malfoy's hair. "But aren't we friends?"
Yes. It was official; Harry was a bastard. Maybe Malfoy was nice and good and kind, compared to Harry, who shamelessly took advantage of deranged House Elves. Perhaps that's what the Strawberry Jam gods were trying to tell him. Maybe he should stick around Malfoy more, to improve his character, or something. "Surely you have an extra jar or two laying around?"
Dobby looked shifty. "Harry Potter will give Dobby more socks?"
"Loads of them," Harry promised.
"Dobby will be right back," said Dobby, and left the kitchen with a pop.
"My, my," drawled Malfoy. "Who would of thought: Harry Potter has a House Elf kink! Wait until the Prophet hears about this…"
Harry tried his hardest not to shudder, but he couldn't quite hold Malfoy's gaze. "Dobby's — he's just a bit, um, enthusiastic—"
"You would know," Malfoy leered, smirking, but before Harry could protest his House Elf virginity, Dobby was back, holding a plate of toast and—
Oh, God. Harry thought he might cry.
"I could kiss you right now, Potter," said Malfoy, holding the jar reverently, and Harry wouldn't have even cared if Malfoy had kissed him, or maybe kissed him and fed him jam at the same time, but then — jam — oh...
The next four days were like strawberry orgasms, or happy bunnies dancing around in fields of flowers with strawberry rainbows, but then —
"We're out," Harry told Malfoy hollowly. "And Dobby hasn't got any more."
Suddenly, Malfoy looked a lot less like strawberry orgasms and lot more like his life had just ended. Or his orgasm. had Harry wasn't sure.
But orgasms had nothing to do with the loss of their jam, so Harry resolutely told himself that he would think of Malfoy and orgasmic facial expressions at another time.
Not that Harry wanted to think of that. Well, maybe. Malfoy made a sound like he had been stabbed, though, and collapsed on the Slytherin table with a weak moan before Harry could contemplate those thoughts any farther. Which was good. Yes.
Harry left Malfoy in mourning on the table and left to lick his own wounds.
"Well," said Ron, in-between his wistful stares at Hermione, who was still ignoring him for reasons unknown, "At least it was good while it lasted, yeah?"
"It would be better if it lasted every day," said Harry coldly. Ron was a traitor, too, covering his toast in marmalade just so he could pass the jar to Hermione when he was done.
Harry hated them all.
On Friday, after his detention with Snape, Harry found an owl waiting for him in the Common Room.
"Wouldn't let us touch him," said Seamus, glowering indignantly. He held up his finger, which was bleeding.
"That's because it's Malfoys," said Harry, pleased that he knew this information. The owl gave him what Harry thought might be an affectionate sort of nip as he took the letter and then flew out the window.
Malfoy's penmanship was so loopy Harry could barely read it. Like handwriting, like owner, he thought.
Potter, Harry read. Meet me at the doors of the Great Hall tomorrow at six 'o clock AM. Don't be late. I have a plan to get the jam back.
Short and sweet, very much unlike the owner. Except, Malfoy was a bit shorter than Harry was. Heh.
"I don't think you should go," said Hermione instantly, as she read over his shoulder. "Just because you two are— bonding —" Ron shuddered. "—over jam doesn't mean—"
"Jam never lies," said Harry stubbornly. "I'm going."
And besides, he was still on the prowl for Malfoy's— er, goodness. Yes. That was definitely it.
When Ron saw Harry the next morning, he started to laugh and laugh.
"Shut up, Weasley," Malfoy ordered. There was a clinking noise as his chain bumped up against the door.
"Harry," said Hermione, looking frazzled, "What are you doing?!"
"Boycotting," said Harry stoutly. He rattled his handcuffed wrist at her. One end was attached to Malfoy; the other was connected to the door handle of the Great Hall.
"Boycotting," Hermione repeated faintly. There was a steady line of people growing behind her. "Boycotting what, exactly?"
Malfoy and Harry shared a look.
"Anything that's not jam," said Harry. "Obviously."
"What's the hold up?" barked Pansy Parkinson, pushing her way through the crowd. Then she caught sight of them, and came to a slow halt.
"Oh, Draco," she groaned, "you didn't."
Malfoy waved his handcuff at her cheerfully. The door wouldn't be budged unless they were freed. Or snapped in two.
"We shan't move until we get our jam!" Malfoy declared. "Jam, not spam!"
"Spam?" someone from the crowd asked.
"Canned meat," said Hermione. Then she whirled on Harry, looking horrified. "Spam?!"
"It's what they make the sausage out of," said Malfoy knowledgeably. Hermione looked distinctly horrified. "Jam, not spam!"
It sounded like a war-cry. Harry supposed he could have a worse partner-in-crime. At least Malfoy could rhyme.
"Mate," said Ron, finally recovering from his laughter as Malfoy continued to shout, "You're not actually going to stay up there, are you?"
"Yes," said Harry, even though he hadn't known about the plan until Malfoy had handcuffed him to the door and after Harry had tried to stab his eyes out for doing so. He echoed Malfoy's chant. "Jam, not spam!"
"I don't believe this," Zabini grumbled, before sighing. "Wait. Yes, I do."
"Oh," said Malfoy, almost as a gleeful afterthought, "And no food for you until we get our jam!" He smiled, even as the crowd broke out into outraged mumbles.
"Harry," Ginny pleaded, "I'm starving!"
Harry shrugged and leaned up against the door as much as the chain would allow. Malfoy's shoulder brushed against his. "So am I."
"HUNGRY FOR JAM!" Malfoy bellowed, as if there were any doubt. Harry found himself, inexplicably, giving Malfoy something of a fond look. Hermione saw it and dropped her face into her hands.
"I can't believe you're boycotting all the food made at Hogwarts," a sixth year Gryffindor sneered.
"Not all the food," Malfoy corrected. "Don't be ridiculous. Just anything that isn't strawberry jam." He gave Harry a look, like, Control your people!, and Harry turned the fiercest scowl he had on the crowd. He was proud to see the sixth year flinch.
"We're not leaving," he announced defiantly, "Until we get our jam."
"I can't believe you willingly attached yourself to Malfoy for five hours," said Ginny, in complete disbelief. Harry shrugged.
"I can't believe Malfoy had a spell the teachers couldn't undo," said Hermione. She looked distinctly put out. Harry felt rather proud of Malfoy right then. That was strange, but not… bad.
"I can't believe we missed breakfast and lunch," Ron moaned, "All for jam. Bloody hell, Harry. Don't do that ever again."
"Worked, though, didn't it?" Harry asked cheerfully as he slathered a generous amount of strawberry jam on his toast.
His jam was back. All was right in the world.
"Now if only you'd put that much effort into your studies," Hermione began, in a tone that meant she would probably be lecturing for a while. Fortunately, Harry could tune her out and focus on what really was the most important thing in life: Jam. Harry took his first bite of toast and sighed in blissful pleasure. Jam, jam, jam, jamjamjam—
"Malfoy," growled Ron suddenly, interrupting Hermione's speech and Harry's much-needed reacquaintance with the most important substance in his life, "What do you want now?"
Ron actually sounded quite sad, like he wasn't sure Malfoy could come up with anything worse than denying him breakfast and lunch and bringing Harry over to the Slytherin orgy dark side. Clearly, he didn't know Malfoy as well as he should.
"Budge over," said Malfoy, shoving Ron's shoulders. He faced Harry, straddling the bench gracefully.
"Canna heplh 'oo?" Harry asked.
"You are disgusting," said Malfoy. Harry swallowed. "Also: I didn't want you to fall under any delusions."
"Okay," said Harry. Jam, he thought, and eyed his toast lovingly.
"Because we're not friends now," said Malfoy.
"I still hate you. So don't even think about it."
Malfoy scowled at him. Harry stroked the jam jar.
"Pay attention!" Malfoy ordered, sounding peeved. "Potter!"
Harry froze, nearly dropping his jam jar. He knew that tone; the one that meant Malfoy was going to do something that Harry might or might not regret later on, like handcuffing him to the door of the Great Hall. He glanced up hurriedly, but it was too late: Malfoy had scooted forward and he had that glint in his eyes again, the one that said: Be scared! Be scared!
Harry was. That was definitely the only explanation for way his heart was thumping so madly.
"Did you know," Malfoy said, leaning in far too close to Harry's face, "That you have strawberry jam on your lips?" He smelled like mint and strawberry jam up close, along with some sort of cologne that was probably worth more than Harry's life.
"Er," said Harry, feeling vaguely and confusingly flustered and unsettled because Malfoy was in Harry's personal space, "If you could pass a napkin—"
"Oh, no," said Malfoy coyly. "Allow me."
Harry wasn't quite sure what happened. Hermione gasped and Ron shrieked MALFOY! and someone else dropped a glass or four. Harry hoped no-one had his dropped jam; it was a precious commodity…
Also, and the fact that this was much more distracting than anything else was alarming, considering that Ron's voice had never been able to squeal that high before, there was something hot and wet prodding at the corner of his mouth and over his lips and—
Harry felt a bit dazed, and he was pretty sure it wan't because of the jam he'd just had.
"Did you just kiss me?" he asked dumbly.
Malfoy studied him. "No," he said. Then he looked up at Harry through his lashes, "Do you want me to?"
Harry thought that maybe the strawberry jam gods had been wrong and now Harry needed to save the school again, because anyone who was willing to starve the other students was obviously evil, and if Malfoy wanted to kiss Harry, Harry would just have to become a sacrifice so that no other students were harmed.
If Malfoy wasn't evil and just wanted to kiss him, Harry was fine with that too.
Huh. Maybe that's what the strawberry jam had been saying, all along.
"Yes," said Harry confidently, and met Malfoy's eyes to let him know that Harry was not going to let him back out of this, "That would be good, I think."
"It will be," Malfoy promised, with a charming sort of smile that wasn't quite a smirk. Harry decided that ignoring Ron's squeak was actually very easy when compared to the discovery that Malfoy's stupid shiny hair was actually more soft than stupid under Harry's fingertips, and that those pink lips were good for something else besides being annoying. And also, they were quite warm…
If kissing was the only good part of Malfoy's hidden depths, Harry thought he could live with that, because Malfoy was so fantastic at it that it made up for any other inadequacies. But what if there were other good things about Malfoy that needed to be discovered? What if he actually had loads of good things, hidden in secret places like under his robes? Harry decided he had to find them right now, or—
Oh. Oh, that was... nice...
See, Harry wanted to say to Hermione, when his brain started to function again, except his lips were still pressed against Malfoy's, and his tongue was otherwise engaged, and he couldn't quite work up the will power to drag himself away so mostly he just thought it:
Strawberry jam never lies.
Go eat some jam :)