Disclaimer: Last time I checked, I wasn't JK Rowling nor did I own Harry Potter and everything that goes along with that. And, I've got to tell you, I'm not expecting that to change any time soon. Plus, should anyone ever offer to pay me for writing such Harry Potter dribble? Never fear. "No!" I will shout, "That is wrong!" I will proclaim. "I shan't accept a single cent!" (Grins. "Poster child for fanfiction…?" Tap dances for several seconds. "Ta-dah! That's me!"). Reviews, however, will be warmly welcomed :D

Story: Enter the minds of two enemies, enemies who study each other carefully and constantly, and you NEVER know what you might find. Begins 6th year and stretches on to post-war, young adulthood.

Warning: Erm. Contains bodily fluids and much panting. (Sniggers)

Reviewed by wonder beta, Faeriechii.


For Orion (Hexamarillion) and her aversion to happy people yet inexplicable tolerance of me.

For Shannon (Shanrena) and her incredible patience even though I am quite possibly - DIRECTLY - responsible for what may well be her rapid decline in mental wellbeing (That story is going to be posted Shannon. Really soon. I swear!).

For Kate (Snowflakeleopard) and her 'previewing of this story' and hilarious suggestion that Harry could well go into the 'sales person' business, whipping open a briefcase in front of Voldemort and showing him of all kinds of XXXXX, so he can choose the softest and thus best – saving the world as we know it! (The XXXXX is a word I omitted to avoid giving you all 'a spoiler'. Scroll down to the bottom to see what the word was).

The study of a man

1. At Hogwarts


Draco Malfoy does this thing. This thing.

This thing that, regardless of where I am or where he is, when he does it…my eyes suddenly seek him out. And I am utterly transfixed. I just cannot look away.

In class, or in the Great Hall, or out on the Quidditch pitch or wherever.

And, let me tell you, it's frightening. It's positively frightening.

You want to know what it is?

(Looks left and then right with large fearful eyes).

He sneezes.


Harry Potter does this thing. This bloody thing.

This annoying, infuriating, scream-inducing thing.

And he does it all the time.

All the time.



It's like, whenever I happen to look at him? He's doing it!

He's always bloody doing it!

And it makes me so angry.



And then – Oh Merlin - I just want to kill him.

Kill him!



Malfoy's sneezes go as follows:

His head suddenly snaps up upright.

His nose wriggles and twitches in the air, as if it's being tickled.

His eyebrows cling together.

His forehead wrinkles.

His eyes half close.

His mouth hangs softly open, just a little.

His hands rise slightly in the air, to either side of him.

His shoulders hunch upwards.

His lungs expand in anticipation.

A few, "Ahh…ahhh…" noises come from his mouth.

And then, it hits

His whole body moves wildly - like a cracking whip - as the sneeze just rockets out from his nose.

His head jerks back, forward, back under the sudden explosive force, leaving his hair in complete disarray.

And the noise, the noise he makes is something like this:


Or maybe - maybe it's something like this:


Actually, sometimes, it's much more like this:


Either way, it looks and sounds EXACTLY THE SAME as those sneezes that Zacharias Smith's five year old brother does. Kind of innocent, high-pitched and, well, squeaky.

This worries me. This greatly worries me.

Evil cannot coexist with high-pitched "pi-chu" sneezes.

(Pauses and frowns)



Oh God, he's doing it again. Stupid Potter is doing it again! That thing, that bloody thing that makes me just so livid!

The thing where he's…just…you know…doing the…the…thing…where he…you know…oh the frigging annoying thing!

And it is making me mad. Mad. MAD!!




The aftermath of Malfoy's sneezes are just as bad.

He takes a while to recover.

His lashes flutter for long seconds.

And then he does this shake of his head, his shoulders, and hell, his whole body.

He brushes his hair off his forehead with one fingertip, his eyes grow as large as Hedwig's and his cheeks take on a bit of a pink, almost glowy look.

Lastly, he looks around with, Merlin, like, the softest expression on his face, blinking every few seconds, his eyes still wide and clear, as his body settles down and he re-grounds himself.

It would almost be sweet…if it weren't for the fact that he's an evil bastard who should just throw himself off a cliff and DIE.


Okay. I suppose it's 'possible'…that I haven't yet found the words…in-the-highly limited-and-therefore-sorely-inadequate-English-language!

(Pants for several seconds)

- to…

(Pauses and then clears throat)

- to 'aptly' describe…that inhumanly annoying thing…that Potter does…that Potter constantly does…while in my presence.

But that doesn't mean that he doesn't do it. Because he does. He just does.

Often, regularly, and repeatedly.

And, quite frankly, it makes me want to kill him. Kill him.

Often, regularly, and repeatedly.


(Nods and crosses arms with great satisfaction)


Bloody stupid freezing cold snowy winter! He must have some damn cold or something. He sneezed again today. Repeatedly.




As per usual, he suddenly ceased any activity he was previously engaging in, so abruptly (his head flew up, his arms froze mid-air), that I almost gave myself serious whiplash – each time – when my head, through no conscious thought of my own, whisked towards him at lightening fast speed.

Each of them came in the typical way: Malfoy was still, suspended in time, awaiting the onslaught of the sneeze with his hands out at the ready, his eyes watering, and his nose all crinkled up and wiggling.

And then the funny squeaky, sneezy noise.

And then rapidly fluttering lashes and shake of his head.

Followed by the weird, spasmy shudder. As if a chill was running down his neck, across his shoulders, and down his spine.

I've noticed that the shuddering part lasts as long as the build up.

And then a finger or two lace through his hair to pull it out of the way of his now enlarged eyes. That's when I notice the sort of 'gentle' expression on his face while he glances around, still recovering.

And then he goes right on back to being a smarmy, bastard of a prick that he always is and always will be – complete with whatever sneer or look of distaste he chooses to embrace at that point in time – because he's an evil bastard who should just jump off a cliff and DIE.


Alright. FINE!

I don't really know exactly what the annoying thing Potter does is.

But that doesn't mean he isn't annoying - Because he is!

Often, regularly, and repeatedly.

And it's not right. IT'S NOT RIGHT.

He should stop it. Someone should make him stop it.



(Pants for several seconds)


Okay! Okay!

(Grins excitedly)

I've got a theory, I've got a theory!


Seriously! Hear me out.

I'm thinking, maybe, that after-sneeze shudder thing is about this:

Shaking the last bit of high-pitched squeaky goodness out of him, to make way for some more evil. So all remnants, all traces of goodness are gone.


And once all goodness is gone? Perhaps his sneezes will instead be deep and booming. Maybe even 'rough' or 'gravel-y' sounding. Like the noise a dragon might make, sometime after downing a particularly bad curry.


What do you think?!

Yep. I think I'm onto something too…


Erm. No. Somehow I don't think Hermione would be the best person to share this theory with.

(Sheepish expression)


Alright then. What about this? If I can't find anything specific that annoys me about Potter, it must be because it's non-specific.


That means, instead, it's just everything!


Like when he walks and he's walking and like when he's standing and he's just not moving or when he's moving and like he's just, you know, moving and when he's breathing and existing - and – and when he's just THERE - and even sometimes when he's NOT EVEN THERE – and when he's LOOKING AT ME – and - and even sometimes when he's NOT EVEN LOOKING AT ME - well, it's enough to make me want to – to scream!

As it would to anyone.



(Pants for several seconds)


Alright, my theory was crap. I realise this. Because there's no 'good' left to shake out of him (I mean, with the amount of "pi-chu'ing" he's been doing lately? He should have been hugging Hufflepuffs on the first day of school and skipping around the halls wishing everyone a 'Good day!' years ago. And I clearly don't recall him doing any of that).

But still…those sneezes just confuse me.

They actually take me a long while to recover as well. I find myself doing my own little rapid bit of blinking, flustered expression, and tiny shudder (Damn. I hope I'm not shaking bits of goodness out of me too, heh heh...).

But, those sneezes disturb me…on a very serious level…because…

Because, hell, they make me wonder…if Voldemort sneezes, when the time to kill him arrives…will I – will I be able to do it?

Will I be able to go ahead with it? Point my wand at his heart and cast the final fatal spell?


(Pauses and scratches head)

Oh NO…What if –

What if Voldemort makes a "pi-chu" sound as well?!

(Pauses with a frown)


(Pauses with a frown)


(Pauses with a frown)


It's all a little disconcerting. To say the least.

(Pauses with a frown)



I'm not the only one you know. I'm not the only one who sees it. There are plenty of others. Plenty.

Take Severus for example. I'd say it's fairly obvious that Severus despises Potter…in a manner so extreme…that one would imagine…his hatred just could not ever GET any worse! And yet, his hatred, impossibly, appears to merely...multiply...each time he happens to GLANCE Potter's way!


It's true. Some days, the expression on Severus' face clearly tells me…and the rest of the school…and-HOPEFULLY-THAT-STUPID-BLOODY-IDIOT-POTTER!

(Pants for several seconds)

…that…that he'd like to…chop him up! Pulverise him! And throw him in a cauldron along with all the other ingredients! And let it boil awayON HIGH!

(Pants for several seconds)

Okay. Alright. Yes. As my father has hinted, there's a good chance Severus is a double agent…and therefore 'banging it on quite a bit'….to make it seem like he's still siding with Voldie. But – but, well, that has nothing to do with anything! Nothing whatsoever!

(Pauses, lips clamped tightly together)



(Weary sigh)

How many times did Malfoy sneeze today? Five times!

And how many times did I watch? Five times.

And how many times did Malfoy shudder? Five times.

And how many times did I shudder? Five times. At least.

Though I think it was more likely fifty

This is driving me insane! Insane. I can't sleep, I can't eat.

I'm dreaming…about bloody SNEEZES!!

I'm fearful whenever I'm around Malfoy…that he'll let another one out!!

I'm walking on eggshells.

I'm completely on edge.

(Rubs tired red eyes roughly)

Ron and Hermione are starting to get worried about me.

But I can't say anything…

What am I supposed to tell them?! That the power of all that is evil is growing stronger each day - by way of snot?!


They NEVER TAUGHT US THIS in Defence Against the Dark Arts! Never!

And I should know!


I've-looked-back-through-all-of-my-DADA-books-and-how-many-of-them-mention-sneezes? None-none-none!




Fine. FINE.

If you're not going to accept Severus as case example number two, after me, then how about Goyle then, hey? Yes. That's right. Goyle.


Oh! Oh! And Crabbe. Yes, Crabbe too. Ha!


Want to know how they feel about Potter?




Isn't it obvious?



(Crosses arms with great satisfaction).

They see it too.


I don't think I could.

Oh God…

I don't think I could do it.

If Voldemort sneezes…at that critical moment….I don't think I could go ahead with it.

Particularly if he blinks – wide-eyed, just like Malfoy does - or makes that same high-pitched noise. Or – or shudders.


The whole world is doomed.

The whole bleeding world is DOOMED.

Because, I, Harry Potter, may well be swayed…by a sneeze.


Alright-so-Goyle-and-Crabbe-hate-Potter-because-I told-them-to-but-that's-beside-the-point-BESIDE THE POINT!!!

(Pants for several seconds)




Right. I'm sick of being at the mercy of 'The Sneeze'.

It's time to get back in control, to get a grip, to get a hold of myself once more.

(Breathes in deeply and exhales slowly with a smile)



(Pauses. And then sniggers)

I'll offer the products to him and pray he takes them, giving him a resigned, helpless puppy look of: Just TAKE them. Go ON. You're going to kill me anyway. And, besides, if I'm offering you some sinus relief, it means I've all but given up, doesn't it? Right?

Which the evil bastard will OF COURSE fall for!

And then?

I'll pulverise his arse!!

(Throws head back and chuckles)






I'd, you know, list them all here…but - but I won't. Because. Because the – the list would be too long.

And, as is plainly obvious, I've better things to do than sit around contemplating Potter all day.



Hm. I think I'll carry a tissue or handkerchief on me at all times as well. Sinus medications might take too long to work whereas I reckon the effect of blowing one's nose on their sinuses is more instantaneous.


Potential saviours of the world need to be prepared, after all.

Even for snotty-nosed Dark Lords. Regardless of what those stupid DADA books say…


Now. I wonder if Malfoy…prefers handkerchiefs…to tissues….


Potter is up to something. He's been looking at me very strangely and sort of…well…following me around.

I'm not certain, but I could have sworn I saw something in his hand which he hid as soon as I spotted it.



I've been contemplating trying the handkerchief idea on Malfoy (I figure he's probably more of a soft material, natural fibres kind of a guy than one who'd go for tissues), but I'm not so certain I can pull it off.

Something is telling me that offering a brand new, freshly washed and pressed, one hundred percent lightly brushed fine cotton hanky to my Hogwart's enemy might cause quite a stir – if not, some serious hexing.


You should see it though! I purchased the finest handkerchief money could buy! It's so soft and squishy! I found it in this boutique store in Hogsmeade – imported from Paris - and it's perfect! Perfect! I think it would feel like pure heaven on a sore, raw nose…


I swear! He had something in his hand. He did!

It was something white!

I looked at him oddly, and you know what he did? He shoved whatever it was right back in his pocket.

Something is going on…


Don't worry. I gave up on the handkerchief idea.




Because I am highly conscious of environmental concerns and would hate to waste the thing.


Oh, oh! Maybe there's a spell I can learn! To stop old snake eyes from sneezing when the itchy sensation hits him. (Raises eyebrows excitedly) Wait! It might even give Malfoy some relief from that cold too!




I'll research it right away!!

(Long pause)



What is the stupid idiot up to?!

In Potions the other day, he came right up beside me at one point and put his hand deep in his pocket, like he was going to whip that thing out – whatever it is.

It's driving me barmy!

(Screws face up angrily)

What a stupid, stupid, annoying, infuriating GIT!

(Frowns and crosses arms with a huff, staring angrily into the distance for some time)

On another note…

(Suddenly grins)

…someone sent me...A PRESENT! I have…a secret admirer! A secret admirer!!





(Grins excitedly)

Oh- OH! And the present was just what I needed too! It's – it's…well, it's just...perfect.

(Places hands leisurely behind his head)

Heh heh. Yep. I'm loved by many. MANY.

(Inspects nails and sighs)

I have a lot of fans, you know…


I found the spell! I found the spell!


Reducio nasalus.

Okay, Hermione found the spell. But I walked half-way to the library with her, so at least half the credit is due to me. Okay, maybe a third.


Anyway, I refused to tell her why I needed it. Somehow, I don't think it would bode too well. She already thinks I'm getting obsessed with the ferret. Which I suppose in some way might be true. I do watch him a lot. But - but he should be watched a lot. Someone like Malfoy needs to be watched. Because of those squeaky, wide-eye, blinking, fluttering eyelash, "pi-chu", flush-cheeked, shuddering sneezes. Oh and because of the 'war thing' and how he's an evil bastard who should just jump off a cliff and die and all of that.

Now, I wonder if I should try the spell out on Malfoy first? Hmm…





(Pants for several seconds)

Well…now they can add…POTENTIAL MURDERER to the list, can't they?!

(Throws hands above his head) How's THAT for annoying?!


Reducio nasalus!

(Swish and flick)

Reducio nasalus!

(Swish and flick)

I think I'm getting the hang of the spell. I'm pleased to report that my own nose is completely bogey free.





(Dabs super soft handkerchief against sore red nose and sighs at gentle, velvety feel)




I did it! I did it!


And I didn't get hexed in the process! Of course, I did run like hell out of there as soon as I could…


It just happened.


I'm being serious!

I was walking past some classroom when I'm sure I saw Potter hiding in my peripheral vision, pointing his wand discretely at me and muttering something under his breath.

I felt some strange tingling sensation spread across my body. Clearly the effect of some foul spell!

I would have hexed him, but when I turned back around, he was completely gone. Vanished.

OH hell…I'm dying…I'm probably dying…I must be dying…he's done something horrible to me…I just know it.

(Feels head, feels chest, feels throat, feels limbs)

It's happening.

(Eyes full of dread)

Somewhere in my body it's happening.

I'm certain.


(Dread-filled eyes suddenly soften)

Although, I'm sure glad that bastard of a cold has disappeared…Merlin, that was pissing me off…

(Inhales deeply through his nostrils and sighs right before scowling again and checking over his surely 'failing' body once more)


I realised something today with such utter relief.

I caught Crabbe sneezing. And, let me be clear, the sneeze from that ugly brute had no effect on me whatsoever. It was vile and gross and I looked away immediately in disgust, unable to contemplate food for at least another two hours.




It was NOTHING like Malfoy's! And thank Merlin for that too!

Because you know what this means?! Perhaps I will be able to kill Voldemort after all! Because I think even Crabbe is likely to look a little more appealing than Voldemort when he lets a sneeze rip. Heh heh…

YES! That non-cute sniffling stupid Dark Lord will be history, no matter how bloody sniffly he gets!

The world is saved. SAVED!!

Wait a minute.

'Cute'…? 'Cute sneezes'…?

So, what – Malfoy's sneezes affect me because they're…cute?

Whereas Crabbe's and, most likely, Voldemort's are not?

(Look of horror falls across his face)

Oh Merlin…

The world is doomed. DOOMED!!


I am lying in my bed thinking about Potter, breathing clearly for the first time in a whole month, while awaiting my premature, untimely demise…knowing the whole world will soon be thrown into utter turmoil…over my very tragic death; my tragic death which will be hailed as the most horrific if not cataclysmic event in centuries; my tragic death for which everyone will sadly weep and grieve for many, many years to come; my tragic death for which Potter will soon regret more than ANYTHING he has EVER regretted before in his ENTIRE LIFE!

My tragic death for which the first sign of symptoms is, oddly, yet to surface.

And let me tell you, this recent example of annoying provocation, commonly known as 'MURDER!', is seriously making me like Potter even less.

(Clenches hands into fists, squeezing the bed covers under his fingers)

For right now, I'd like to…

(Presses lips tightly together)

- chop him up! Pulverise him! And throw him in a cauldron along with other ingredients! And let him boil awayon HIGH!

(Pants for several seconds)

That's right. Even in my soon-to-be-weakened-state…as I lie on my very own death bed…waiting for the precious life within me to be…VIOLENTLY…and UNFAIRLY…ripped from my…PERFECT BODY, from my…SIGNIFICANT being, from my…completely…INNOCENT soul! …I still, most certainly, more than ever, want to kill HIM.

Kill Him!




(Pants for several seconds)


(Rolls around on the bed, strangling his pillow violently)



Okay. I think it's got very little to do with 'cuteness' and me thinking Malfoy is 'cute'. Because I don't.

Instead I think it's about 'innocence'. Because, really, Malfoy – if you didn't really get to know the bastard he is (as in, if you'd never met him), or if you couldn't see clearly enough to ever spot a sneer (well, you'd probably be blind), or if you never, ever heard the trash that comes out of his mouth (i.e. you'd be deaf) – he could almost pass himself off as 'innocent'. Or 'innocent looking' at least.

I mean, the fair skin, light coloured eyes, and of course 'the hair'.

And I think, in that moment, in that moment where he sneezes, gone is the sneer, gone is the overwhelming bravado, gone is the attitude. Gone is everything I hate about him.

Instead, he's just, you know…human. And vulnerable. And just like me. And I can forget about everything else I know about him. And I can believe for the briefest of moments that he's not who he is. And I don't think he's cute. And I wonder if he liked my present?


That was an error. AN ERROR! I do not want to kiss him! Don't be ridiculous! DON'T BE RIDICULOUS!

(Pants for several seconds)

I want to kill him. Kill Him! KILL HIM!!! And not kiss him! At all! AT ALL!!!

(Pants for several seconds)




(Pauses, biting lip and squeezing pillow into his chest)

….But after I did?

(Eyes narrow)

I'd go right on back to KILLING HIM

(Grits teeth and punches pillow, then throttles pillow, then wrestles pillow, then bashes pillow, then rolls over pillow, then squashes pillow, then throws pillow. Then suddenly notices a small white cloth teetering on the edge of his bed)

Oh no - Mr. Hanky!

(Flies to the side of the bed and stops the handkerchief from falling to the floor in just the nick of time. Squeezes hanky to his chest and grins sheepishly)


TBC in Ch 2: In times of war

A/N: All those in favour of JK Rowling putting Harry and Draco together in the final book and not killing EITHER of them off, raise your virtual hands! The prospect of both things NOT happening is JUST TOO SCARY to say the least!

N.B. XXXXX refers to "tissues". Kate suggested Harry carry around a briefcase of Aloe Vera tissues and all other kinds, so the Voldemort is spoiled for choice and can, therefore, pick his favourite. Heh heh. I must concur!!