As a child, he had once wanted to look out for the Boy Who Lived.
He had heard of a very powerful little boy just his age, who perhaps had more magic than what was good for him. Having too much magic, magic which was the thing that all the planets spun around and all the world needed to live, was a completely incomprehensible notion to him when he was small. He had dreamt up some sort of uncontrollable creature child, small and slightly wild, who couldn't contain the very fabric from which he was made. Someone who could break rock with a glance and make the earth tremble but also burn himself up by mistake with his own fierce power.
When he was a bit older, he was told some of the truth about Harry Potter. He was a victim of the Dark Lord whose magic had protected him as no one else's had before in all of wizarding history. As an infant, he had vanquished the Dark Lord Voldemort and so became the hope of the Light. The Light, composed of those who would never allow themselves to understand or accept magic fully, those who wished to hide the truths of the universe from everyone else as well, had turned the little boy into a very powerful symbol of justice and by proxy of their cause, which paraded under a guise of sound morality. No one but those directly involved knew anything of the boy's magical development or of the measure of exposure he had to wizarding culture.
This understanding had left him feeling disappointed that the famed child was not only completely human but also in circumstances where he'd never be able to meet him, not until he went to school and that was assuming they both went to the same one - as well as that the blasted Light would even allow the boy to go to school. The whole thing sounded wretched and he'd felt pity stirring in his heart for this magical phenomenon of a boy who was being kept from his birth right as a powerful wizard of good breeding. He thought of teaching him things about magic, about the world they lived in that he'd been kept from. Perhaps he'd have someone to play pick-up Quidditch with who was actually intelligent enough to make it a game instead of a slaughter.
The Boy Who Lived was a Half-blood, he'd learned at ten. He had scrunched up his nose in disgust and his father had smirked at him and said that sometimes sheer power could make up for such things, and that Harry Potter might have power to spare, and then he'd given him an uncharacteristic wink. It was also around this time that his parents began taking him out into public more often and it hadn't taken long for him to understand what being a symbol really was. The whole Wizarding World had heard of the little boy he'd grown up wondering about. Where ever he was, chances were he wasn't anywhere near as lonely as he'd once imagined him to be. It was simply impossible to conceive that such attention could be lavished on someone without their knowledge. He'd probably had all sorts of playmates when he was small, no doubt provided by the gracious Light.
Gradually, his picture of a Toadstool Tale magically pretend child had hardened, until he felt he had the better measure of things. After his mother had won the argument that he would attend Hogwarts and not Durmstrang, he began looking forward to meeting a boy a few months younger but perhaps an inch or two taller than him. The Boy Who Lived would perhaps be a bit rounded by muscle and baby fat, the result of athletics of some sort and the same easy living he himself was accustomed to. He'd have a conspiratorial smile and a somewhat uncultured accent, which couldn't be helped by anything but time with the right peers. Harry Potter would be open and bright but innocent to the true ways of things. He might be a bit overconfident from all the attention the light gave him as their 'savior' but it wouldn't take long for the Half-blood to see who the better wizard was.
He would find the boy and befriend him and then he would make him understand somehow. He'd take it upon himself to show him the warmth of Dark Magic and the sharp cruelties of the Light. If it eventually led to pick-up Quidditch and the other boy looking up to him a bit, so be it.
He just hadn't been expecting quite the right things was the problem. He'd over-calculated, under-analyzed. His first sighting of Harry Potter was unlike anything he would have imagined, as he hadn't even known that it was the Boy Who Lived he'd been meeting at the time.
He'd been getting fitted for his Hogwarts robes when he'd seen a small boy coming into the store reflected in the mirror he was standing in front of. His clothes had hung off of him, a bit the worse for wear and barely covering the dark smudges of fading bruises around his wrists, collar and partly exposed shoulder. He was a terribly thin, pale and short little boy, peering around the room hesitantly and then allowing Madame Malkin to usher him around. Weak, had been his quick assessment. Weak and uncared for and so likely unimportant.
He made small talk with the frail-looking boy, silently wondering what forsaken dungeon he'd crawled out of and whether he'd needed to be broken out of it in order to be starting Hogwarts. Truthfully, he didn't look old enough to be going to a boarding school at all. He had the feeling the smaller boy hardly knew a thing about Hogwarts and he couldn't help but to keep giving him speculative glances, wondering if he was actually eight or nine years old and was just pretending he'd be starting Hogwarts that year. At least he claimed to have come from an all-magical family. He'd hate to think of the things one could catch from spending too much time breathing the air around one of those other ones.
He'd been not the least impressed with the boy's devotion to the drunken oaf Hagrid. It supported his idea that there had been a jail-break on the part of the school though; his father had mentioned once, years before, that students who were being unfairly prevented from coming to school were oftentimes rescued by Hogwarts' employees. The fierce loyalty made more sense then, as the little wizard had probably been pulled out of Merlin only knew what sort of hell by the great stumbling drunk. He'd called out a perfectly civil farewell to the poor delusional boy, mentally sorting him into Hufflepuff.
After the boy had left, he went over their interactions with the clarity afforded by relative solitude. The strange child was awkward and seemed insecure in his responses, subdued and then becoming so defensive. Wherever he'd come from, he'd bet that the Wizarding World - or perhaps just the world, if he really had just come out of a dungeon - was new enough to leave the smaller wizard on edge, as he'd seemed nervous in his own skin.
When he'd been confronted with the same child and been told it was the Harry Potter, whom he had always imagined as being taller than himself, and excessively proud, he had looked at the delicate waif and bypassed his newly confidant posture and the brightly-lit-by-wit eyes and simply decided that Harry Potter was fortuitously needy and soft, likely with too many new thoughts in his itty bitty muggle-raised mind to know what to do with himself in the Wizarding World.
He had indulged himself, believing for a moment that he could have what he wanted. He could ensnare the other boy as a friend and also acquire the fragile looking wizard to keep for his own, as his childhood dream of Harry Potter the fantastical magical creature, to belong to and be looked after by him. He would be responsible for the Wizarding World's Savior, the odd little phenomenon.
The let-down was so swift he hadn't seen it coming and he wasn't sure he'd ever recover from the shock and disappointment of seeing what was supposed to be his newest friend already firmly attached to a blood traitor Weasley. Harry was supposed to have chosen the person who would help him best, as any intelligent person would. So, either the other boy was wickedly insulting him and by proxy his family or he was incredibly stupid...or both, as he had then decided was the case.
He had waited for the other child to fall. With a smug smirk upon his face and a malicious word at every opportunity, he had watched and eagerly anticipated the day Harry would be humbled and see that he had made a mistake in choosing the Weasels over him. One day, he'd been sure, the proud and strong Gryffindor would crumble and all who would be left was the boy he'd first thought him to be. Someday everyone would see the jittery sick animal Potter truly was.
It hadn't been any of the days he'd gotten the other boy thrown into detention. It wasn't when Professor Quirrel had been killed supposedly trying to murder him or when the Weaslette had disappeared, to rot in the Chamber of Secrets for not-so-forever. The Dementors on the train had given him hope but it seemed that the more Potter confronted them, the greater strength he found. Not dragons or drownings or even Dark Lords were enough to hold him down.
Frustrated by the resiliency of his young enemy, his hatred had grown as he began blaming the Savior more heavily for all the faults he could find. Every forced smile and sharp word was easily connected to Potter, to the brazen idiot who still dared to defy and insult him at every turn. Then his father gave him a boon; the secrets of the Boy Who Lived, as known by the Death Eaters. He had been tortured by the Dark Lord, as entertainment.
They had taken his small frame and shocked it alive with pain and he had screamed himself hoarse. Even if only briefly, he had been broken. No smirk or inhuman nonchalance in the face of the Cruciatus.
Now, in Headmistress Umbridge's office, with all of Potter's little friends being restrained, standing uselessly by as the silly stuffed griffin is being held at the Professor's mercy, he feels his heart race and his hopes soar as he hears that what he's been craving to see for months is just moments away. In Hogwarts, held in front of his helpless compatriots, Potter was going to be reduced to a screaming, shaking madman; finally, Harry would be humbled at his feet and look from the Weasel to himself and see that he was the one in control, he had the power to protect him, while Ronald Weasley could and would do nothing. Potter would be so sorry, now that he would see what he'd refused. Let him wonder what it would be like to have him as his friend, his ally.
The Harry Potter was going to get his comeuppance right at his feet and he couldn't wait to see it.
AN: The moment in book five when Harry sees that Draco looks eager to see him tortured did and has since disturbed me. While I was thinking over a scene for an as of yet unposted story, wherein Draco is a rather protective friend of Harry's, this struck me. What Harry Potter meant to him before they ever met - and having this half-explanation to tell myself from the moment with Umbridge on allows me to keep loving Draco Malfoy without cringing. Even if this is only a half-sensible drabblish thing.