Disclaimer: Characters from the Harry Potter Universe belong to JK Rowling and are used without permission but with no intent to defraud.
Author's Notes: Many thanks to my fantastic beta bewarethesmirk.
A Little Quidditch Time
Broom in hand, Harry Potter trudged across the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch.
Sounds of laughter and chattering drifted across the grounds from the windows of the Great Hall, where his friends were eating dinner and probably wondering where he had got to.
Even the thought of food made Harry's stomach lurch and he purposefully shifted his focus to the fluttering flags above the pitch, breathing in a healthy lungful of the fresh Scottish air. He immediately spluttered it back out and looked around quickly just to be certain that he truly was alone. But there was only Harry and the chirp of unseen birds and the soft crunch of his footsteps on the sun-dried grass.
With each step across the pitch he felt his tensions ease, a blessed relief from the pressures that grew on him daily. Not that anyone intended to cause him stress but he was The Boy That Lived. The boy destined to fight Voldemort. The boy most likely destined to die.
But not here. Here on the empty pitch he could just be himself. Just Harry.
Without slowing his pace he walked across the pitch, tightening his grip on the twitchy broom and heading towards the stands.
He had no intention of flying tonight; he was just looking for some peace and quiet.
The wooden stairs to the teachers' private stand, bleached and worn with years of use, barely creaked as Harry ascended.
This was always his sanctuary of choice, partly because it felt a little forbidden, but mostly because it had the most comfortable benches where he could lie, gaze at the sky, and savour the solitude.
Only today he wasn't alone.
Sprawled out on one of the back benches, long legs draped elegantly on the row in front, was Draco sodding Malfoy.
The blond boy appeared to be sleeping, eyes closed and leaning back against the solid frame of the stand.
Sod him, Harry thought, I've as much right to be up here as he has.
And so Harry made his way up to the back bench and the sleeping Slytherin.
Harry flinched at the softly spoken words and flicked his gaze sharply to Draco, but the blond still had his eyes closed. Harry chose to ignore the order and settled himself on the other end of the bench, laying his broom carefully underneath.
"Potter," Draco said slowly, "Are you deaf or just plain stupid? I told you to go away."
Harry stared incredulously at the lounging Slytherin, who still looked like he was asleep. "How did you know it was me?"
At this, the blond opened his eyes and gave Harry a cool look. "I could smell your stench from the other side of the pitch. So if you don't mind…" He fluttered his hand in a shooing motion.
Harry's face reddened at the insult. "I've as much right to be here as you, Malfoy," he ground out.
This made Draco's mouth lift into an almost-smile. "No right at all then."
Harry conceded the point. "Suppose not."
There was silence for a moment as both boys regarded each other.
Draco was the first to speak. "I don't want any trouble, Potter; I came up here to be alone."
Harry puzzled at this. "So did I."
"I was here first," Draco tried.
Harry snorted in response. "But as you pointed out, neither of us is meant to be here at all, so I don't think that argument works."
Grey eyes flashed angrily, and the Slytherin flicked his robes sharply and started to push himself up. "Fine. I'll leave," he snapped.
For some reason Harry felt guilty. "No, Malfoy, wait."
Draco paused and arched an eyebrow. "What?"
"If I promised not to say anything would you stay?" Harry could hardly believe what he was saying. Apparently, Draco was equally surprised.
"Why on earth would you want me to stay?"
"I dunno," Harry mumbled. "Gets a bit lonely up here sometimes."
"But I though you came here-" Draco bit off the words and shook his head. "Never mind. The logic of Gryffindors never fails to astound me." And then he sat back down. "Just don't say a word."
Harry opened his mouth to agree, but Draco fixed him with a warning glare. "Not one word, Potter."
Harry snapped his mouth closed and nodded.
And so the two boys settled into an equable, if not companionable silence.
Draco closed his eyes, long fingers entwined behind his head as he resumed his former position, leaning back against the stand.
Harry rearranged himself to lie along the bench, using his cloak as a pillow. He alternated between staring at the puffy, cloud-infested sky and the reclining form of his enemy, Draco Malfoy.
Almost an hour passed and the bright blue of the sky began to fade like a washed out photograph.
A chill tainted the soft breeze that ruffled Draco's fine hair.
Harry was startled to realise he hadn't noticed that the blond had stopped using hair gel. He also hadn't seen the dark circles developing under his eyes or the worry lines etching the smooth skin of his forehead. Come to think of it, he hadn't noticed much of anything about Malfoy over the past year, almost as though the Slytherin had been going out of his way to avoid their usual confrontations. Odd.
"See something you like, Potter?" Draco drawled, as he opened his eyes and caught Harry staring. He stretched out his legs and groaned.
"Just wondering what's happened to you," Harry answered truthfully.
Draco froze. "What do you mean?"
"You've changed," Harry said simply, and watched as Draco struggled to regain his composure.
"I've got no idea what you are talking about, Potter." Draco tried to summon his usual spitting antagonism but failed miserably. "You've got a vivid imagination," he said weakly.
Harry shrugged and rested his head back on his cloak. "Whatever you say, Malfoy, but if you wanted to talk about it…"
"It most certainly wouldn't be with you," Draco snapped. "Not that there is anything to talk about," he added hastily.
"Well, the offer's there."
Draco didn't reply, just busied himself with his robes as he got up off the bench, dusting and straightening. Harry watched him through half-closed eyes.
Finally Draco stopped fussing and stepped along the row with a lot more grace than Harry could ever hope to muster. He paused as he came alongside the reclining Gryffindor and looked down.
"I saw you heading across the pitch," he said. "Earlier."
Harry let a small smile ghost across his lips. "Knew I didn't smell."
Draco gave one of his trademarked smirks. "Oh, I wouldn't go that far."
Harry slapped a hand at him but Draco was already moving away.
"I'll be here tomorrow night," Harry called as he twisted awkwardly to look at the retreating Slytherin. "Same time."
Draco didn't acknowledge the words as he disappeared down the stairs.
Harry sighed and turned back to the sky.