Chapter Four – The Greenhouse Interview
The next day was a little hard for Draco. He was never usually one to pass on a dare when it concerned Harry, but because of his promise to the Gryffindor, he had to do just that. When asked about it, he confessed to his friends of the transaction of yesterday's events.
"Aw, man! So who's going to charm his quill to write whatever we want then?" Whined Crabbe.
"No one is," Draco said dangerously. "If I'm no longer allowed to taunt him, no one is. Got it?" He looked every one of his friends in the eye to make sure they understood. They all knew not to mess with Draco's property.
So the day went on without a single prank, or even a single insult toward the Golden Boy. It made the day feel like it was dragging on, but Draco wanted to prove to Harry that he was good on his word. He wanted Harry to trust him. So by the time the Slytherin had to go meet with the Gryffindor, he was already wound up from stifling what he had grown used to in the past six years. He couldn't help himself when he saw Harry smiling at him with a goofy grin.
"You look like an idiot, grinning like that, Scarface."
Harry's face instantly fell into a frown.
Draco laughed it off. "I'm sorry. It's just a filthy little habit of mine. I had restrained myself all day and I just had to get that last bit out of my system."
"Find someone else to help you, Malfoy," Harry said, turning to leave.
The Slytherin rolled his eyes and snatched Harry's wrist, making the other boy stop. "It was a joke, Potter."
"It wasn't funny."
"It was a little funny."
Harry moved to walk away again, but Draco gripped Harry's wrist a second time to stop him.
"Potter, come on. I was joking. I'm sorry, okay?" He was still smiling, but he really did mean it.
Harry pulled his hand from Draco's hold. "Whatever. What are we doing today?"
"I just want to ask you some questions. We don't even need to go in there to do it."
"Well… what do you suggest then?"
"We can go to the Great Hall if you'd like."
"What?" Harry mimed shock. "And risk someone seeing me with you? I think not."
Draco snorted. "Ah. So you do have a sense of humor."
Harry just smirked.
'You look sexy when you make that face Potter…' Draco pushed his wandering thoughts aside. "Where do you want to go, then?"
Harry shrugged. "How about the greenhouse?"
"Outside?" Draco asked incredulously. He had never been fond of being outdoors in the winter. "It's cold outside."
"Not in the greenhouse."
"Fine, Malfoy. Just forget it. We'll go wherever you want."
The blonde sighed. 'I can't believe he wants to go outside…' Despite his distaste, Draco conceded, wanting to please the other boy. "I don't know why you'd want to go there of all places, but fine. We'll go to the bloody greenhouse."
Defeated, Draco led the way to the school entrance. He never did like the cold, so when he met it straight on upon opening the door, a flurry of curses escaped from his lips. Draco practically ran to the greenhouse, not wanting to endure the cold more than need be. He flung the door open and hurried inside, turning to see where Harry was. "Come on! Hurry up! It's freezing out here!"
Draco waited as Harry hurried inside before closing the door behind him. The room offered little warmth and little comfort to the blonde. He wrapped his arms around himself, trying to warm up some. 'Ugh, this was a stupid idea… stupid Potter…'
He heard the brunette chuckle. "Geez, Malfoy. If you really don't like the cold, why did you agree to come out here?"
'Cause it's where you wanted to go, Potter. You really are an idiot, aren't you?' Draco refrained from saying anything he might regret and brushed the question aside. "Whatever. We're already here. Stop complaining." He rubbed his hands against his arms.
"I'm not complaining."
Draco didn't respond and instead reached into his pocket for his parchment and quill. He quickly mulled over the questions he had predetermined to ask in order to learn more about Harry's personality. 'If I can learn more about what he likes and what he likes to do, then I can make Valentine's Day more fun for him instead of having a simple little dinner date…' His thoughts were interrupted when Harry spoke up.
"Malfoy, again, I don't understand how my answers would be of any help. Your crush might not answer the same."
Draco inwardly groaned. 'He just won't give up, will he?' He frowned at Harry. "And again, Potter, I'm asking for your answers, not my crush's. I'm well aware of who you are and who my crush is, thank you. It's not like I'm taking your answers directly. I'm using them as a sort of… jumping point."
"Could you at least give me a hint to who it might be?"
"Potter, I'll be the one asking the questions from here on."
Draco watched as the frowning brunette moved a flower pot to take a seat on the countertop. "Fine. Ask away."
"Good." He refrained from commenting on the funny, yet adorable pout the Gryffindor was donning. He wanted this to go as seamless as possible. "All right, Potter, what's your favorite color?"
"You see, I could answer red, but your crush could answer blue-"
"Dammit Potter. Just answer the bloody question." He instantly regretted snapping at the boy, but he couldn't help it. It was a frustrating day and Harry wasn't making it any easier. In fact, Harry was the source of many if not all of Draco's frustrations.
"Green, okay? I like green."
Draco glanced down at the quill as it spelled out the other's answer. "Okay…" he continued. "So… what are some of your hobbies? I mean, other than satiating your hero complex?" He smirked at his own joke.
"Ha ha," Harry on the other hand looked less amused, but answered nonetheless. "I like playing Quidditch… I love flying. I just like being outside. I'm usually happier doing some sort of outdoor activity. Even taking the mundane indoor things like playing Wizard's Chess or just reading, I prefer to do them outside."
'Everything outdoors? Hmmm…' Draco pondered. "And why is that?"
"I don't know. Maybe because I was stuck indoors all day growing up. Being outside makes me feel freer. Like maybe I can just run away or something."
Draco studied Harry. 'Stuck indoors? Probably to keep ravenous fans at bay…' Draco moved on to the next question he had in mind. "All right… During summer holiday, what do you like to do on a typical Saturday evening?"
The Gryffindor looked thoughtful for a moment. Then, "I avoid being verbally abused."
'What? What kind of answer is that?' Draco determined that Harry wasn't taking this seriously. He rolled his eyes and slumped back. "Potter, if you're not going to be serious about this-"
"I'm telling you the truth."
"Oh really," he replied sarcastically.
"Yes really," Harry mirrored the tone. "On a typical Saturday, my aunt, my uncle, and the chunk of lard I call my cousin, go out and have a nice outing with one another while I am left to clean the messes they purposefully leave for me. When they return in the evening, they usually find something, some minuscule thing, to berate me about which in turn leads them to make fun of my lineage, my appearance, anything about me. It gets tiring very easily so I do my best to make everything perfect for them. So yes. On a typical Saturday evening, I avoid being verbally abused because I'm tired of it. I'm not fond of being reminded of all my flaws every weekend."
The Slytherin felt at a loss for words. Harry's eyes were fueled by fire during this confession, bitterness tinting his voice. But now, Harry looked away.
Draco felt bad. 'That had to be true… he couldn't have made something like that up, could he? But how could something like that be true?' The blonde was confused, trying to make sense of things. "Your family's really that awful to you?"
Harry scoffed. "I spent my first ten years of life calling a cupboard under the stairs my room. What do you think?"
Again, Draco felt a bit speechless. 'A cupboard? What on Earth…?' He shook his head in disbelief. "But you're Harry Potter: vanquisher of all that is evil in this world."
"Yeah. This world." Harry looked at his shoes. "My family doesn't care about all that. The only reason why they put up with me is because they're afraid I'll jinx them."
"So why don't you?"
"And get kicked out of school? No thanks. I like it here."
Draco was stunned, staring at the boy in front of him. Harry on the other hand simply stared at his shoes.
"Well, go on." Harry said. "Ask me something else."
'He lived in a cupboard? But he's Harry Potter! Golden Boy! His life is filled with fame and glamour! Right?' The image of the broken boy in front of him looked anything but. Draco really looked at Harry and saw a boy who seemed to have face more than anything a seventeen-year-old should have. He looked weary. And this made Draco love him even more.
He stopped quill, setting it down on the parchment it had been writing on. He bent forward, making eye contact with the boy. With gentle words, Draco asked a question he hadn't rehearsed. "What was that like?"
"The first ten years of life in a cupboard?"
Harry was quiet for a moment and Draco thought he wouldn't respond. 'Maybe I shouldn't have-' But his thought was cut short when Harry began to describe his past.
Draco listened intently as Harry recalled his past. He was shocked to hear just how terrible his so-called "family" treated him. This was Harry Potter. People should have been praising him, not punishing. Harry's Muggle family just sounded awful. He listened to Harry's every word, not missing a detail of the hard childhood the Gryffindor had to go through.
When Harry had finished, Draco was at a loss for words. 'Living in a cupboard? Treated as a house elf? I never thought… I thought everyone adored him…'
Draco finally spoke up. "I always envied you… I always thought you had such a wonderful life where everyone worshipped the ground you walked on… but this…I never imagined this…" He wondered if anyone else knew, or if the rest of the wizarding world was as deluded to Harry's home life as he had been. "Does anyone else even know?"
"Just Hermione and the Weasleys. Probably most of our professors, but… I don't know." Harry shrugged. "I don't really talk about it with others. It's not exactly something I like to share."
'Well of course Granger and the Weasel would know…' Draco still couldn't believe it. "So… you're serious? All of this… that's real?"
Harry just nodded.
"Christ, Harry. I never would have imagined… That Dudley sounds atrocious. I mean, how can someone be so selfish?"
The Gryffindor snorted. "Look who's talking, Malfoy."
"What? I resent that. That fiend and I are nothing alike." He frowned, recalling the description of Harry's pompous relative.
"Give Dudley a wand and a massive trust fund and you're like the same person. Actually, I find that because you've got magic, and Dudley's somewhat afraid of me now because of magic, you're actually much worse."
Again, Draco was stunned. "You can't be serious."
Harry just shrugged.
"No. You really think I've been that horrible to you?"
"Malfoy, I don't-"
Harry sighed. "Well, since the very first time I met you, you've constantly bragged about your lineage and your wealth. And then, when you found out about mine, you've since then ridiculed it. You've made fun of my lack of parents and property, my appearance and my friends. You've gone to great lengths to get me in trouble many times. You've teased me and mocked me relentlessly. I've fought you verbally and physically on several occasions. You've fought my friends on several occasions. Blimey, you've even left me to die a few times."
'Left him to die? What?' Draco felt lost. "What? That's ridiculous."
"No. Remember our first year? You left me in the woods with what turned out to be Professor Quirrel who then tried to kill me."
'Oh that…' he frowned. "That was one time." Draco suddenly felt overwhelmed by all the information.
'Perfect Potter doesn't have the greatest life after all… I mean, it was easy to mock him believing everyone else adored him. I thought he left here every summer to be with people who worshipped him. But… they abused him. And I abused him… Hogwarts is his escape from that Hellhole, and I basically ruin it for him…' The blonde was overcome with guilt. He shook his head in dismay, not looking Harry in the eye.
"I didn't… I never… I only did those things so that you'd…"
"So that I'd what? So that I'd have a constant reminder of how my life truly sucks?"
"No!" Draco quickly looked back at Harry. "So that you'd…notice me…" Draco found he couldn't look at Harry as he said the last two words. He let his voice trail.
Draco shut his eyes and exhaled before looking back at Harry. "So that you'd… notice me," he repeated, this time with more vigor. Harry looked surprised.
"You're Harry bloody Potter. You're famous. Everyone constantly fawns over you and you're always surrounded by all sorts of people, and I just… I thought…" Draco looked away for a moment before continuing. "You hated me from the very beginning. I figured the only way I could ever get your attention was to antagonize you. And it worked. If I hadn't, I would have been just another face in a crowd… And I guess… part of me did it out of jealousy too. I always pictured a perfect little life for you, but it seems that was hardly the case."
The atmosphere in the room felt heavy. Draco hadn't imagined that Harry's life was anything but perfect. But now he knew that things weren't so great, and that he was part of the problem. He made life increasingly difficult for the boy he claimed to love. Draco felt he needed to say something more.
"At any rate, I guess I should… apologize… for everything." Draco felt he needed to say even more, even if it wasn't true, to try to ease the weight in the room. "I mean, I still… hate you, and all, but… yeah." He mentally berated himself for not thinking of anything better to say. But the words seemed to work for Harry.
'That's the first time he's used my name…' Draco stared at Harry, his heart aching to hold the boy in front of him. Life had been hard on Harry and Draco vowed to try to make things easier for him. 'For him to go through all that, and still be as wonderful as he is? He really is some sort of saint or something… the Golden boy… Christ Potter… I can't believe it's possible, but I swear, I love even more now. You're amazing…'
It was Harry who broke the silence. "So… what's your next question?"
Draco scoffed before a smile graced his lips. 'That's right… Valentine's Day…' The Slytherin thought back to the questions he thought up before meeting with the brunette. "If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?"
"Somewhere tropical. I've never been outside of England. I think a nice change of climate would be brilliant."
'Somewhere tropical?' Draco blinked. "Then why on earth did you want to come out here through the snow?"
Harry laughed, a sound Draco always loved to hear. "To be honest, I just really liked the room you created the other day. I guess it inspired my green thumb."
'You've got to be kidding me.' The reply irked the blonde. "That? Then we could've just stayed there instead of trudging all the way out here! Geez, Potter…"
"I was surprised, actually. How did you think of something like that?"
Draco glowered at the other boy. "I'll have you know that the gardens of Malfoy Manor are far more extensive than the one I thought up."
"Really?" Harry was genuinely intrigued. "I'd like to see that."
'Are you asking to come to my house, Potter?' Draco inwardly smirked.
"Err, I mean, something like that," Harry corrected. "Not your house, exactly, but the garden- a garden… similar… not yours…"
'He even makes bumbling endearing! Potter, you're too cute! Sickeningly so…' Draco chuckled. "If things work out, I'll show you the gardens at my house, Potter."
The Gryffindor looked like a dog who had been offered a treat. "What? Really?"
'Harry, if things work out, I'm taking you home with me and never letting you leave. I'm going to have my way with you every day and every night.' Draco refrained from expressing the dirty thoughts that came to mind on his demeanor. Harry didn't need to know about those kinds of thoughts until Draco was sure that Harry loved him back. So he shrugged nonchalantly. "Only if things work out. Otherwise, I'll just send you a postcard with threatening words on the back."
Again, Harry laughed, warming Draco more than the heat of the room could. "Do you have any other questions?"
Draco shook his head and ran his hand through his hair. "No, I think I've heard quite enough."
Harry bit his lip. Draco stared at the lip. 'I want to bite you too…'
"Sorry, you probably didn't get much today."
The blonde forced himself to focus. "Don't worry about it. I'll think of something."
Harry sighed. "Why are you going through so much trouble to impress this somebody? Does she even know how you feel?"
'She?' He inwardly snorted. "…No, I doubt it. But... I kept this in for a long time. I figure, it's our last year, so I might as well dive in. Haven't you ever been in love?"
"I thought I was… for a while anyway. But I guess I still don't really know what it means to be in… it. I guess that's why I'm sort of dreading this weekend. Everyone is going to be paired off and trapped in their own little lovesick worlds. It's no fun celebrating a day of love by yourself. Hey… ifit doesn't work out between you and your mystery girl, I'll be around. We should, I don't know, do something."
Draco cocked an eyebrow. 'He wants to spend time with me…?'
"I, err, I mean, only if you want to, of course," Harry stammered.
"Potter, if I get rejected by my crush, I don't think I'd feel up to doing anything with much of anyone." What he wanted to say was "Potter, if you reject me, I'm throwing myself into the lake and I'll let the giant squid kill me."
"Right," the Gryffindor nodded. "Of course. Stupid me. Besides," Harry chuckled, a little awkwardly, "you've got a load of friends you can turn. I mean, why would you want to hang out with-"
'He thinks I don't want to spend time with him…' "It's not that," Draco interjected. "It's not that I wouldn't want to hang out with you, I just don't think I'd be good company considering certain conditions." 'Considering that you'd have broken my heart at the point…'
Harry shrugged. "I don't mind."
'He wants to spend time with me even if I'm miserable at that point? He supposedly hates me! Something here is working…' Draco laughed. "Potter, what's gotten into you?"
Harry frowned. "What… what do you mean?"
"Are you so lonely that you'd want to spend Valentine's with me?"
"What? No! It's not like that! I just thought that you'd want some company after something like that and since it seems no one else knows, I wouldn't mind being there for you, but if you find that my company would be so hilarious, then fine!"
Draco blinked at the words. "What makes you think no one else knows?"
"Well, you were in the Room of Requirement… I thought you wanted privacy."
"Of course, but not because it was a secret. Christ, Potter, think of what I was doing. I couldn't exactly practice my confession of love in front of my peers. They'd torment me for sure. They've already been at my throat because of my little crush. Couldn't believe who it was-"
"Wait. They all know?"
"Of course, they're my friends."
"And you won't tell me?"
"Well, no. You're not-" He was going to say "ready."
"Oh. Right. We're not friends. I'm just at your convenience, right? Your crush is someone with the same tastes as me, right?"
Draco was suddenly filled with dread. 'Uh-oh… something went wrong.'
"And considering that all your friends are upper class ponces and that they probably made fun of you for who you've fallen for, that must mean it's someone of a lesser class, right? And since you think I'm of a lesser quality, we must share the same tastes-"
'Really wrong.' He tried to explain. "Potter-"
"Forget it, Malfoy. Let's just get this nightmare over with. If we're done here, I'll see you tomorrow." Harry hopped off the table and hurriedly made towards the exit. Draco was right behind him, but was cut short as Harry swing the door closed behind him.
'Not good, not good! What just happened?' Draco was panicking. "Dammit, Potter," he called, throwing open the door and hurrying to catch up with the brunette. "It's not like that! Why are you being so sensitive?"
'Great, he's ignoring me.' He continued after the boy. "Potter, look-"
Harry sped up, forcing Draco to half-jog in the snow. 'Why is he mad?' Draco wracked him brain. 'He thinks I'm just using him for this project of mine… But after a conversation like that, he must know that he's no longer just Potter to me… We can't share such intimate things and not move forward in this… twisted relationship of ours. That couldn't have been easy for him. Maybe he's upset that he said so much? But no, he seemed happy- eager even. He wanted to spend time with me. He wants to be friends. Right? And since my friends know who my crush is, he's upset that I won't tell him. That's why he thinks we aren't friends? But I can't tell him! Not yet. Ugh… too confusing… Stupid Harry…" He caught up the the smaller boy, trying to stop him by taking his wrist. "Potter-"
Snatching his hand away, Harry spun around, annoyed. "What?"
"You're blowing things out of proportion. You're not a tool. We- I don't know what we are, exactly, but you're not a tool. And you're right, my friends are all rich ponces but that doesn't mean I'm looking for your opinion because I think you're of a lesser quality. Different, yes, but not less."
Harry looked unfazed.
Draco continued. "Look, what happened in there… you telling me about your family… I know it couldn't have been easy, especially since it was me, but I'm glad you did. I don't know exactly what you were expecting, but we've got a lot of history between us. If you want us to be friends, you can't expect it to be right off the bat-"
"I wasn't expecting-"
"I want it too, believe me, but at this point, the dust is still settling."
"I wasn't expecting anything."
Draco was unconvinced. "Yeah, sure. Is that why you stormed out of there the way you did?"
"No. I just thought that after all this… after I'm done helping you get your girl, maybe we wouldn't have to go back to hating each other."
The remark made Draco forget that his hands were currently freezing. "I don't want that either. But we're not exactly going to be holding hands and singing folk songs any time soon."
"That's not what I was thinking-"
"But you get what I mean, right? I want to be your friend, Potter. I always have, if you've forgotten. I offered you a hand of friendship right on the train before we even got to this bloody school, but you turned me down." 'And it all went downhill from there.'
"That's because you insulted my friend."
"Well that's beside the point. I wanted you as my friend and I still do. This is rather new to me. First I have to give up teasing you which really has become somewhat of habit of mine, you poncy Gryffindor. And now… I'm not even sure what I'm doing anymore. Not when it comes to you."
Draco tried to read Harry's expression. He just looked confused.
"Potter… I know you're curious. But I'm not ready to tell you yet. You will find out, I can promise you that."
'Especially since it's you,' he thought to himself. "And the reason why all of my friends know is because I grew up with these people. I know that even though they tease me for it, they support me."
"So would I-"
"Well… I don't doubt that, but it doesn't make it easier to come out with it. Do you get what I mean?"
Harry nodded, so he continued.
"And at this point, we are friends, okay? It's just… it's different, you know? Our relationship is at the moment getting redefined. In time, we'll see what comes of it."
"I'm sick of fighting with you."
"So then stop being so sensitive," Draco half-teased.
Harry just glowered. "As a friend, it's your duty not to point out my faults-"
"As your friend, it's my duty to be honest with you." Draco smirked.
"So… all of your other friends know?"
Draco scoffed. "Unfortunately."
"So if we were friends, better friends like how you are with them, you'd tell me?"
"Potter, if we were better friends, I probably wouldn't even have to go through all…" 'Shut up! Shut up now!' Draco's mind screamed. 'He'll figure it out! He can't know! Not yet!" He avoided eye contact with the brunette.
"What? What's the matter?"
"Then what was that?"
"What was what?" Draco shrugged as if nothing happened.
"That! Just then! You were telling me that if we were better friends that-"
'Make him stop! Say something!' Draco reached for anything to harp out. "You'd know that I was freezing my arse off out here so can we please just go back inside?" Draco didn't even wait for Harry's response. He just took off towards the castle.
He didn't feel Harry's presense after him, but Draco was sure the boy would be fine. His heart was racing. He was afraid that Harry would figure it out, and Draco didn't think he could deal with that. His day had been crazy and his mind was reeling with a vastness of thought.
'First, I'm going crazy cause I can't tease him like I'm so used to. And then, I find out that his life isn't as easy as I thought it was. And then I told him about how I envied him- which was stupid and embarrassing and I shouldn't have said anything… but… it worked out all right because he didn't ridicule me for it so nevermind.' Draco slowed down to a stop. 'But… he wants to be friends. He wants us to be friends even after this.'
A smile grew on Draco's lips. 'I'm doing something right. Maybe things will work out in the end.'
And with that, Draco headed for the Slytherin common room, feeling a bit more hopeful for the days to come.
Author's Notes: We all know what comes next... XD and if you don't, then why are you reading this one first? You need to read Malfoy's Secret Valentine - Harry's POV. Srsly. Well... unless you're syncing it... so in that case, you should still know what happens next before you actually read the next chapter of this one. Yeah. :)