Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling, or various affiliates. As I'm sure you've figured out…
Author's Note: This is a seventh year, post Deathly Hallows, Draco-centric fic. This story will be much slower paced than Dirty Business, and the actual slash will probably not start for some time. But there will be plenty of build up, no worries.
I have quite a bit written already, so I'll try posting a chapter a week until I'm finished. Anyway, thanks for reading, and enjoy.
Draco scowled into his treacle tart and wondered for the second time in so many hours why he had decided to come back for another year at Hogwarts. After all, it wasn't as though any of his friends were there - Pansy, Goyle, Zabini, Nott, along with all other Slytherins from his year, were gone, as were all the other children of Death Eaters. And Crabbe (Crabbe…a part of his brain cried out, inconsolable) was gone forever.
Draco glanced around surreptitiously at his fellow Slytherins. He didn't know why any of them had come back, to be honest. The majority of them were slouched down in their seats, as if trying to disappear, while others simply stared blankly around the Great Hall, occasionally finding something to scowl at darkly.
They all ignored Draco, which was fine by him, all except for a few first years who didn't know any better. The first years were also the only Slytherins who were happily chattering and laughing, behaving like the children they were.
The atmosphere of the Great Hall was exuberant otherwise, particularly at the Gryffindor table. A large entourage milled around Potter and his friends, and in spite of himself, Draco found himself watching Potter, watching the way he occasionally nodded before ducking his head in an almost sheepish manner and smiling. Draco bristled at what he knew was Potter's false modesty, yet continued to watch him, absentmindedly taking bites of his treacle tart all the while.
Then Potter looked up, still laughing at something somebody had said, and for just a moment his eyes locked with Draco's, the smile still tugging his lips upward. Draco froze, his heartbeat abnormally fast, and quickly looked down. When Draco finally looked back up, Potter was once again laughing at something - probably something Weasley had said, if Granger's disapproving frown was any indication - and was not looking in Draco's direction any longer.
Fucking Potter. As if it weren't bad enough that he'd saved Draco's life once, twice, all as if it meant nothing; now Draco owed him his freedom, his mother's freedom, the Manor…everything, basically. And still, Potter had yet to say so much as a word to him, to acknowledge him in any way. He hadn't even offered to give Draco his wand back.
Not that it mattered, really. Draco wasn't even sure that the wand would still work for him, having shifted its allegiance to Potter. Much like everyone else these days. But still, it was the principle of the thing. Potter could at least acknowledge, somewhat, that Draco had played a part in ending the war, however inadvertent and unintentional it had been. Draco knew he had failed in every way possible during the war, but at least he had that, didn't he?
Draco remembered huddling between his parents after Voldemort's death, his father embracing him for the first time in years, his mother rocking him back and forth as if he were an infant. The acrid smell of smoke still clung to his robes, stinging his eyes - which, he told himself, was the reason for the tears nearly welling to the surface. So it was almost a relief when he saw Potter headed his way, and he broke free from his parents, told them he'd be right back.
Draco had had no idea what he'd say to Potter, but knew he had to say something. And it really didn't matter, either. He just needed some sort of closure.
"Potter!" he'd called out, his voice still hoarse from smoke, and from screaming. Screaming in Potter's ear, he reminded himself dully.
Potter kept walking, not so much as glancing at Draco, mere feet away from him.
Draco glared at him as he left, yet was unable to keep the smallest amount of hurt from rising to the surface. Draco and Potter had been best enemies for years - had Draco really fallen so far that he was now beneath Potter's very notice?
Draco clenched his fists at the memory. Fuck Potter. He was obviously the same self-righteous prick as before, and Draco was happy to be rid of his attentions.
"Hello, Draco," an oddly lilting, dreamy voice said suddenly, interrupting Draco's Potter-based musings.
Draco nearly dropped his fork. "What do you want, Loony?" he snapped, inwardly cursing himself at how easily his composure was lost these days.
Luna smiled, seemingly unfazed by Draco's harsh tone. She patted his arm, ignoring the incredulous looks the other Slytherins were giving her.
"It's good to see you, Draco. If you don't mind my saying, you seem to be getting some of your color back. You seemed pretty sickly a few months ago. I thought maybe you'd been bitten by a Knargle...my dad says they aren't poisonous, but I always feel a bit lightheaded when one comes near."
Draco swallowed, unbidden nausea creeping up his throat. He could hardly stand to look at her. "Why are you talking to me?" Draco asked in a whisper, staring at his plate.
Luna blinked in confusion. "Why wouldn't I?"
Draco snorted, glancing furtively around. Luckily, no one seemed to be paying them any attention.
"I don't know. Maybe because you were imprisoned in my home for months on end?" he snapped as quietly as possible. He sneered at her. "Back for revenge, Loony? Is that what this is about?"
"Oh, I know you didn't want to keep me prisoner, Draco. Just like my dad didn't want to hand Harry and the others over to Voldemort. I know he still feels quite horrible about it. But sometimes even good people do things that aren't so good, just because they don't have any other choice." She smiled at him again. "You were very nice to me whenever I saw you, you know."
"I'm not nice," Draco said crossly. "Or good. So just leave me alone, please. Shouldn't you be sitting with Potter and his many admirers?" The question came out more petulantly than intended, and Draco couldn't help but wince.
"Harry has a lot of people to sit with," she said in her infuriatingly dreamy voice. "And you don't have anyone."
"By choice," Draco said pointedly, feeling slightly put-off by Luna's blatant honesty. "And I'd like to keep it that way."
Luna's smile never left her face. Then, ignoring the somewhat hostile glares from a few of the Slytherins, she spooned a generous helping of chocolate mousse onto a plate, humming softly to herself and twirling her hair between her fingers.
"Mmm, this is quite good. Would you like some?"
"No," Draco said quietly, looking down at his plate. Damn Loony to hell.
"Sometime I'll have to let you try Muquack fudge. It's made by the Muquacks who live in Sweden. They're very friendly if you know how to talk to them, but you shouldn't let them around anything shiny."
Draco sighed, a smile playing on his lips in spite of himself. "Loony, I have no idea what the hell you're talking about."
Luna just gave him a sympathetic smile, as if he was the crazy one, then patted his arm again before turning her attention back to her chocolate mousse, humming all the while.
Draco found his attention shifting, once again, towards the Gryffindor table. Towards Potter. This time Potter was quiet, staring almost contemplatively down at his fingers as his friends continued to laugh boisterously around him. Draco frowned. What the hell was the matter with him? Not that he cared, but really…
"Oh, look," Luna said suddenly, interrupting Draco's thoughts once again. She nodded towards the front of the Great Hall. "I think Professor McGonagall is going to make a speech."
McGonagall, looking poised and stern as ever, put up a hand to indicate the students' silence, resulting in sudden, overwhelming quiet. Even the first years watched her in awe, as if sensing innately that she was someone to be obeyed.
"Good evening, students," she said, her voice clearly amplified by a sonorous spell. "And welcome to what I'm sure will be a most productive year at Hogwarts. As I'm sure you're all aware, we've undergone some…changes since last term. I'm sure I don't have to go into all the details, but suffice it to say, I will be taking over in the position of Headmistress." This announcement was met by thunderous applause from the Gryffindor table and moderate applause elsewhere. She put up a hand again after a moment, nodding indulgently at the Gryffindors. "Professor Flitwick," she continued, "will be taking over my duties as the Deputy Headmaster." Applause from the Ravenclaws. Luna put a hand to her mouth and let out a piercing whistle, causing Draco to slump further into his seat.
"As I'm sure you're aware," McGonagall continued once more, "my duties as Headmistress will make it quite impossible to fulfill the obligations as Head of Gryffindor, though I will continue to teach Transfiguration until the position is otherwise filled. In the meantime, I'd like to introduce you to our new Head of Gryffindor, as well as our Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Percy Weasley."
This announcement was met with mixed applause everywhere. Draco groaned, watching in dismay as Percy Weasley nodded his carroty head curtly at the students. Draco remembered him vaguely from a few years ago, but couldn't be sure, as all the Weasleys looked the same to him. It was simply the fact that it was a Weasley teaching him.
McGonagall continued to drone on and on for several minutes, spouting surprisingly sentimental drivel on how they all needed to unite in order to rebuild the school, the world. The sanctimonious bitch even appeared to become slightly misty eyed as she spoke of the sacrifices that had been made by so many. And though she didn't mention Harry Potter by name, she made a point of looking in his direction several times during her speech.
Draco scowled once more, glancing in Potter's direction again. Potter continued to stare forward, obviously enthralled by McGonagall's none-too-subtle boot licking. Draco rolled his eyes.
"You sure do look at Harry a lot," Luna whispered, leaning so close that her blond hair brushed over his shoulders.
Startled, Draco nearly jumped out of his seat. "I do not!" he snapped, attempting to steady his breathing. He tugged at his collar, the air suddenly humid beyond comfort.
"And if I do," he hissed after a moment of gathering his composure, "it's no more than anyone else looks at him."
Luna just smiled enigmatically. "Okay, Draco," she replied.
Finally, McGonagall seemed to be wrapping things up, and Draco couldn't help but give a sigh of relief. At long last he could have some quiet, a moment in which it didn't feel as if the world was trying to smother him, a moment without Luna speaking uncomfortable truths, without Potter mocking him with his very presence.
"…so I'll be speaking with the following students in my office: Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, and Draco Malfoy. Everyone else please report to your respective dormitories, and have a good night, all of you." She nodded primly at them before departing the Great Hall.
Draco's mouth was dry as he walked out of the Great Hall with Luna. "What the hell could she want?" he asked Luna desperately, clumsily wiping his sweaty palms over his robes. "I haven't even done anything!"
Luna looked at him curiously. "You really should calm down, Draco. It isn't good for you." She smiled at him, then skipped ahead to join Potter, Weasley, and Granger.
"Let's wait for Draco," he heard her say to them, and Draco found himself wishing that the floor would open up and swallow him whole.
"Malfoy?" Weasley scoffed. "Why the hell should we wait for him? That ferrety git…I can't believe he's not in Azkaban where he belongs, with his dear old dad…ow!" Weasley gingerly rubbed his ribs in the spot where Granger had just elbowed him. "Oy, Hermione!"
"Shut up, he's right behind us!" Granger snapped.
Potter and Weasley turned around simultaneously - Weasley blushing a deep crimson, Potter looking uncomfortable.
Despite the blood draining from his face, Draco drew himself up and sneered in response. "I see some things never change," he drawled, hoping the slight tremor to his voice was only his imagination. "Granger still seems to have a firm hold on your balls, Weasley. I guess Mummy got tired of holding them for you?"
Luna guffawed in response, leaning on Granger's shoulder for support.
Weasley snorted. "Death Eater piece of shit. You're the one who'll never change. You'll always be the same evil, ferret faced-"
"Ron, just stop!" Potter said suddenly, amazingly. Draco drew in his breath unwittingly. Look at me, look at me he commanded Potter silently, but Potter's eyes, which had once flashed in constant, titillating anger towards Draco, now seemed elusive, pointed everywhere but at him.
"Just stop," Potter repeated, looking tired. He pinched the bridge of his nose, as if staving off a headache. He sighed. "We've all had a shit year, so let's just go see what McGonagall wants and…I don't know…get on with our lives or something." He continued walking, the others following behind in dejected silence save for Luna, who hummed dreamily under her breath as they walked.
Draco noticed the way Potter's shoulder blades shifted beneath his robes, noticed the white of Potter's neck underneath his unruly hair. He glared at his back, remembering the time Potter had tackled him in fifth year, punched him in the stomach….he certainly hadn't ignored him then. But Draco supposed he'd been a worthy opponent back then, unlike the useless paragon of failure he now knew himself to be.
Oh, who was he kidding, he scoffed to himself. He'd never been Potter's worthy opponent, or even close. Potter had bested him at every opportunity back then, and continued to do so now. Even his own wand preferred Potter these days…
He supposed Potter must have uttered the password to McGonagall's office at some point, because the gargoyle was swinging open, revealing the new Headmistress sitting behind a large, mahogany desk. Draco glanced around at the portraits, gulping nervously as he spotted Dumbledore, who winked at him before stepping out of view.
"I'm sure you're all wondering why I asked you here," McGonagall began, easily conjuring five chairs and motioning for them to sit. She leaned back slightly, clasping her hands in front of her. "But all of you, with the exception of Miss Lovegood, are rather unique at the moment, as you can hardly be considered seventh year students, yet that, technically, is what you are. And you're also adults, not only in the Wizarding world, but in the Muggle world as well, as I'm sure you're aware, Miss Granger." She gave Granger a curt, tight-lipped smile, causing Granger to shift in her seat and beam proudly.
"So I could hardly throw you in with the current seventh years, who by all rights should be a year behind you. And I'm well aware, Mr. Malfoy," she nodded at him, causing him to shrink reflexively into his chair, "that there may be some…tension between you and the other students in your House, am I correct?"
Draco shrugged, looking at the floor. "I suppose."
"So what I propose to do, as you're all adults in a unique situation, is give you some additional freedom. And with this freedom, of course, is my wish that you'll behave as the adults you are, and that I know you to be. You'll still be expected to abide by the rules at Hogwarts, of course, but you five will be living in special dormitories I have arranged in Hogsmeade. Madame Rosmerta has graciously allowed me the use of two suites she normally reserves for customers: one to be shared by Potter, Weasley, and Malfoy, and the other to be shared by Miss Granger and Miss Lovegood." She paused a moment, giving Luna a meaningful look. "Of course, that choice is entirely yours, Miss Lovegood. I simply thought that, with the…events you experienced last year, you'd be more comfortable amongst friends, even if they are a year ahead of you."
Luna nodded dreamily. "Last year wasn't so bad, Professor McGonagall. But it will be nice to have friends again." She twirled a lock of hair, smiling at nothing.
"Very well, then," McGonagall said briskly, her face twitching slightly. "You'll each be assigned a Portkey that will enable your quick access to Hogwarts, meaning I will not tolerate tardiness of any kind." She stared at them pointedly from over her spectacles for a moment, as if letting the news sink in.
"Wait a minute," Weasley piped in. "You're saying Harry and I have to share a room with Malfoy of all people? Why can't me, Harry, and Hermione just share a room? I mean, it's not like we didn't do it all last year. Luna doesn't have a problem with Malfoy, so they could share."
McGonagall rolled her eyes. "Mr. Weasley," she said dryly. "Though I may be allowing you more freedom than usual, this is still a school, and a certain level of propriety must be maintained."
"But it's rooming with Malfoy that's the real impropriety, Professor."
"Fuck off, Weasel," Draco snapped, unable to help himself. "You think I want to wake up to your hideous, freckled mug every day?"
McGonagall coughed. "Language, Mr. Malfoy. And ten points off both of your Houses. As I said before, I expect you to behave like adults. All of you. And furthermore, there's no need to share bedrooms, merely common living quarters."
"Thank Merlin," Weasley muttered.
"Roomies!" Luna squealed excitedly, clutching Granger's arm. "This will be such fun, don't you think? I just hope there aren't any Wrackspurts…they make it so hard to study."
As there had apparently been some confusion with the Ministry delivering their Portkeys until the next morning, they had little choice except to walk to Hogsmeade. Draco hung back from the group, staring glumly at the ground. He would rather have been at the Manor, pouting and mulling as he had done most of the summer. At least he would have been left to lick his wounds in private, where such behavior was warranted. And he'd be there for his mother, who had taken his father's second imprisonment quite horribly…
"Malfoy," said a quiet voice, suddenly beside him.
It was Potter. Draco swallowed nervously, his heart racing, but managed a curt nod in Potter's direction.
"How've you been?"
Draco looked at Potter in surprise, taking a moment to study him. There were dark circles under his slightly bloodshot eyes, but otherwise he looked much the same. Same old Potter.
"Oh. I've been fine. Thanks for asking. How about you?" Draco's throat was gravelly, and he swallowed dryly. Why, oh, why, was he speaking civilly to Potter, of all people?
"You know. I get by." Then Potter gave him a lopsided grin, and Draco felt as though his heart would literally burst through his chest.
"How is your mother? I sent her an owl, once, and she wrote me back, but…I don't know. If there's anything I can do for her, please let me know."
Draco blinked. "Why would you care? I mean-"
"You mean, she didn't tell you? Your mother saved my life, she lied to Voldemort for me. Well, for you, really. But in the end it amounted to the same thing." He shrugged, staring up at the glittering stars. "Just let me know, okay?"
"Okay," Draco answered quietly, his mind racing along with his heartbeat. He and Potter fell quickly into uncomfortable silence. Up ahead, he could hear Granger and Weasley bickering quietly amongst themselves, Luna close behind them.
"So, er," Potter said after a moment, scratching his nose. "Umm, do you know what classes you're taking? Hermione's talked me into continuing Potions…I don't know why I listened to her, but it should be an interesting year."
Draco stared at him incredulously for a moment. "Potter, why…" he shook his head. "I'm not your friend, Potter." No matter how much he'd wanted to be, once. "We may be rooming together, but it doesn't mean we have to talk, or acknowledge each other in any way, really. In fact, I'd prefer we didn't." Draco's mouth was dry and his fingers were trembling when he shoved them in the folds of his robes, but it had needed to be said. This…Potter-being-nice-to-him thing was simply unnerving, and Draco's nerves were shot as it was.
Potter blinked from behind his glasses. Then, he shrugged. "Why not?"
"Because I hate you, you speccy, scar-headed, Gryffindor prat," Draco said, once again sounding more petulant than he'd intended. He kicked a stray pebble to prove his point.
Potter stared at him for a moment, then burst out laughing. He laughed and laughed, sounding almost maniacal, pausing to place his hands on his knees and duck his head, chortling.
Draco stopped in his tracks, turning around to shoot Potter what he hoped was a look of disgust. "Fuck you, Potter. I wasn't being funny."
Potter straightened up, tears of mirth in his eyes. "Oh, Malfoy. Would it be weird to say that I've missed you?"
"Yes," Draco snapped, scowling. He didn't like being laughed at, he never had.
Potter just grinned, pushing his glasses back up on his nose. "I mean, it's refreshing, that's all." He resumed walking, still grinning at Draco.
"What, refreshing that you're such a big-shot war hero these days, whereas I'm just an ex-Death Eater fuck up…so far beneath you that you don't even hate me anymore, you just find me amusing?" Draco kicked another pebble, watched it bounce away into darkness. "How the mighty have fallen, and all that…am I right, Potter?"
Draco's breathing hitched slightly, and he quickly averted his face from Potter. Why had he said it? So what if Potter laughed at him - a lot of people did, these days. Already he'd heard mocking renditions of his "don't kill me" pleas from when he'd been wandless and helpless, and still reeling from Crabbe's death. Weasley's doing, undoubtedly, as he'd apparently heard the entire thing. And somehow it barely bothered him, because what the fuck did he care what a bunch of sheltered children thought of him? They hadn't been there, hadn't stood in front of him, so terrified he'd nearly wet himself, once, much to his shame. They hadn't writhed under his wand, not wanting to die but not wanting to live, not if living meant enduring another second.
It all came down to Potter, really. It always had. And if Potter thought he was a ridiculous laughingstock, well, there it was.
Potter shook his head, looking confused. "That's not what I meant at all! Jesus Christ, Malfoy." Potter bit his lip. "All I meant was-"
"We're here!" Luna called back joyously. She held her hands over her head, twirling around happily.
Luna and Granger soon parted ways with them, and Draco quietly followed behind Potter and Weasley. The rooms which had been set aside for them were apparently annexed on either side of the Three Broomsticks, far enough away from the pub itself to be respectable to McGonagall, he supposed. He remained tense until the door to their room was open and they were standing inside, wondering what Madame Rosmerta would do to him if she discovered that Draco was a recipient of her generosity.
"This is great," Potter said happily upon stepping inside, and he and Weasley proceeded to stomp about their tiny sitting area, the kitchen, the bathroom they all were expected to share, apparently. Draco sneered, shuddering at the thought of sharing with Weasley.
"Well, Malfoy," Weasley said, plopping down on the couch. "Does it fit your refined tastes? Not that you can afford to be refined anymore, from what I hear the Ministry-"
Draco snorted, picking up his trunk from the corner of the room, where it sat with two more trunks - Potter's and Weasley's. "Weasley, before you even finish that sentence, need I remind you of your own woeful financial status. At least my mother could afford to buy me new robes for the term…who gave you those knock-offs? Hagrid?" He shuddered, hoisting his trunk and carrying it to the nearest bedroom. He hardly cared which.
"Malfoy!" It was Potter, and Draco tensed instinctively. Why couldn't he just keep his mouth shut? Potter could hex him, could do whatever he wanted to Draco and the Ministry would turn a blind eye.
"Umm, is that the room you want? You didn't even look at the other two."
Draco shrugged, throwing open the door and laying his trunk on the floor. The room was sparsely furnished - it had a bed, a desk and chairs, and a small closet, but it would do.
"I don't really care," Draco replied simply. He closed the door, and on second thought, locked it.
Draco woke later that night, choking and gasping as he did most nights. His heart thudding, he pushed his blankets back and sat on the side of his bed. He placed his face in his hands, disgusted to find that his cheeks were damp. His chest tight, he concentrated on steadying his breathing, on slowing his heart.
It took him a moment to remember where he was, and he nearly groaned out loud. If he was home, back at the Manor, he could call for a house-elf to bring him tea, could pad around listlessly in the gardens until the night faded and the sky was painted morning red. Occasionally his mother would join him, would sit outside in her bathrobe and bare feet, holding his hand. Neither said anything, neither had to.
He wondered if his father ever woke up gasping, alone in his cold cell in Azkaban, ever felt weighed down by insurmountable regret as he watched his fellow prisoners pick the fleas out of their hair like animals might. The Dementors were gone, no longer hovering over their North Sea haven, that smorgasbord of horrible memories to spare. But had they ever been necessary, really? What possession is left to a prisoner, after all, but their regrets and remembered failings?
Draco laid back, supine on his bed. He placed his hand over his chest, feeling his heart still fluttering like a frightened bird. It was comforting, somehow. He took several deep breaths - inhaling, exhaling, and began counting backwards.
It was no good. Screams filled his ears - the screams of the people Draco had tortured, just to save his own skin. And his face, the inhuman red eyes, the perpetual smirk he seemed to wear around Draco, his cold laughs as he watched Draco collapse to his knees, rocking back and forth and becoming sick over and over again.
Draco sat up shakily, fumbling for his wand. His mother's wand, he corrected himself dully.
"Lumos," he whispered. The wand sputtered slightly in his hand and the light wasn't nearly as bright as he would have liked, but it would have to do. He supposed he was lucky he even had a wand, as the Ministry had nearly taken it from him. But for Potter's intervention they would have.
Dear Mother, Draco's letter began after he had rummaged through his trunk for quills and parchment and sat at his desk.
I hope you're well. I am decidedly not, and as usual, it's all Potter's fault. His, and McGonagall's. Apparently the old cat still has it out for me, so she's making me room with Potter and Weasley. I repeat: Potter and Weasley. Is it true, Mother, that the Weasleys allow their animals to sleep in their beds with them? Although I've heard they all share one bed - in either case, I shudder to think of the manner of pests he'll be carrying, particularly since I doubt he bathes.
But as foul as Weasley may be, he's a minor nuisance compared to Potter. It's disgusting the way everyone is fawning over him, Mother. And now that the entire world is bending over and lifting up his robes, he has absolutely no restraint in how utterly condescending he behaves towards me. I hate him. But not to worry, I will do nothing unseemly or unbefitting of a Malfoy. I will simply grin and bear it, while secretly loathing Potter and his prattish ways.
I do hope you're well. If you need me to come home I will be there in an instant.
Draco signed his name with flourish, sighing as he remembered his lack of an owl. He sank back against his chair, feeling considerably more at ease and clear-headed than just a few minutes ago. Almost as though the last two years had never happened.
Draco pushed out of his chair, carefully pushing open his bedroom door and tiptoeing to the kitchen. Perhaps a house-elf had stocked it with tea, or even just pumpkin juice…
Potter was in the kitchen. Draco drew in his breath, halting in his tracks and hoping he hadn't been noticed.
Potter didn't look up, he just continued to sit at their small table with his head in his hands, his shoulders slumped almost dejectedly. After a moment he did look up, but not at Draco. Instead, he appeared to be gazing out the window, a pensive, slightly pained expression on his face. It was a little bit like seeing him naked.
Draco looked away sharply, his heart pounding as he backed away as quietly as possible. Reaching his room, he closed the door softly and shuffled back to his bed.
Draco didn't care about Potter, he didn't, but somehow he couldn't erase the image of Potter, looking lonely and sad, sitting by himself in the middle of the night. It was another thought to occupy his mind with, he supposed, and far more agreeable than imagined red eyes. And if for some reason he felt the urge to go talk to Potter, ask him what was wrong, well, that was simply his tired brain trying to distract him from his problems. And he couldn't help but appreciate that.
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