Stand By Me

"Ladies and gentleman! I've got an announcement to make. We got Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin going to camp with us this year. Jerry tells the jokes, Dean sings the songs and gets the girl. Let's give 'em a round of applause." –Coach Boone Remember the Titans

My life over the next year was eventful. No longer was I confined to the manor. No, after that Hogwarts visit, father took me out to the shops of Wizarding London, the Ministry, homes of acquaintances, and anywhere else where I could learn how society was run.

I learned how to be the perfect Malfoy from my father. And how I learned. My new life philosophy practically chanted "Malfoys are superior to every person, place, and thing in existence" like a religious prayer. I was shown off to other families, important persons of the Ministry, and the "common people" of Diagon or Knockturn Alley. I learned how to socialize properly according to where people stood in society.

Family acquaintances were to be treated respectfully, but I didn't have to go out of my way to make them feel comfortable; I was superior to them, and while I would maintain in formal, courteous contact with them, I would also maintain my distance personally. People like the Minister of Magic were to be treated well, even though most of the time they didn't deserve it. I was to be extra courteous and friendly to people in high positions since I never knew when I would need their assistance. I did not need to show any real respect towards the people of the rest of the Wizarding world, but I did need to maintain appearances, so I had to treat them civilly as possible.

When I attended Hogwarts, I was, under no circumstances, to befriend anyone. I could make casual alliances for future help in any tricky situations, but with friends would bring me weakness. My father stressed this point to the extreme, as he himself knew how easy it would be to let myself fall into the trap of personal attachment. A year before I would have said this would have been an easy task to accomplish, but I had also not had any friends a year before.

Since I first ran into Harry, I regularly corresponded with him. It was a secret, of course, and I made sure I hid all evidence of owls and letters from my parents. I damn well near got caught reading a letter or feeding an owl quite a few times. My father didn't approve of Harry from the moment he saw him, but I'd be damned if I let him get in my way of writing to the only friend I had.

When we got back after that enlightening Hogwarts visit, my father gave me a harsh spanking using magic – he was, of course, not going to use filthy Muggle techniques to punish his only son.

I understood, though, as to why he did it. He was only trying to help me, since I had been rather impertinent. I had to know my place, and that place was beneath my father. I was to respect and obey his orders. I had not, so I was punished.

I understood all of this, and I was certainly able to follow this chain of command.

Except for when it came to Harry.

What I didn't understand was why. Why had I ignored my father's wishes for me to be strong and independent from all personal relationships? Why did his words seem meaningless and empty the moment a white speck on the horizon appeared, soaring and carrying a small parcel? Why did my heart race in excitement every time I opened a new letter, like a small hummingbird beat its wings and hovered beside the feeder, ready and hungry for food? Why did I put so much effort into hiding the letters, so I could continue my secret correspondence with Harry? Why the risk?

The moment my father and I left on that Portkey, I should have forgotten Harry. I should have felt relief at the fact my father had saved me from such a weakness. I shouldn't have felt resentment that I was getting spanked for hugging Harry in front of my father. But I did. The spanking would have happened inevitably since I wandered off when my father firmly told me not to, but it was harsher than it should have been. My father didn't like Harry, and it bothered me. Too much.

But, my God, Harry was interesting. And funny. I had never known anyone who could make me laugh like he could, even if it was only on paper. My parents weren't amusing – they were chilly and false. The children I met were often crude with their humor at the expense of others. Harry was different. He had an innocence about him that had me in awe, and he never seemed cruel.

He briefly told me about his life, which sounded much more thrilling than mine. His parents died when he was one, and he grew up in the care of Professor McGonagall (although, he referred to her as "Minerva") and spent some weeks with his godfather whenever he had the chance to. He never had a friend until me, he said, since he had never met any other children. I found this odd, seeing as he grew up at Hogwarts, which was packed with children during the school year. Yet, I felt a certain warmth in my chest, knowing that I had his affections wholly.

He told me about Hogwarts – much more than I ever could have learned in some silly book. I was more anxious to be there than ever before. He told me about how funny some of the professors were and the strange magical occurrences that seemed to happen on a daily basis. He enlightened me on hidden passageways and vanishing stairs. He told me about the ghosts.

He was the same age as me, and I asked him if he was going to attend Hogwarts next year like I was. He informed me that if he was well enough he would. I asked him what he meant. Apparently, Minerva and his godfather were worried about him since he didn't talk and were considering private tutoring. He told me I was the only one he had ever spoken to. It made me depressed to think so, but he assured me I was the only person he ever felt compelled to exchange words with.

I told him about my life and how brutishly boring it was. Even with the outings, I wasn't very entertained. Sometimes I made up things to make me sound more interesting. I told him I lived in a haunted mansion that was four hundred years old that used to be owned by a revengeful ex-Minister of Magic that was out for blood on the people of society that had impeached him. I would get locked inside different rooms or pushed in closets by some unseen force. I would frequently be visited at night by the Minister's dead children, and they would tell me to do things like find their long-gone wands or teddy bears.

Harry never believed me even though he wouldn't mention it, and I was glad.

I told him things I would never mention to my parents or their acquaintances' children. I felt free to be myself. He seemed just as lonely, if not more so, than me, and that made me feel even closer to him. I longed to actually be near him; to actually talk to him and touch him; to see him smile or laugh at my words or even at all. I made up scenarios in my head in which Harry and I would be talking. We would be sitting out by the Hogwarts Lake or on one of my porches, and we would be laughing at some grand joke Harry told. I would feel very happy and safe, but then my father or mother would walk in on us and ruin the moment. They would make Harry leave, and then I would be spanked and forbid to ever meet with Harry again.

That was a great fear of mine: my father or mother finding out about Harry and making us stay apart. The thought made my stomach twist in cold knots.

Odd thing was I didn't even know his last name. It didn't bother me too much, but I was curious. I didn't know if he was Halfblood or Pureblood or Mudblood, but I couldn't bring myself to care. It might sound strange, considering my upbringing, but I knew in the end it didn't matter. I felt connected to him in a way I never had to anyone else, even though we had only met briefly. Our letters were enough. We were best friends no matter what. I knew this only after a short while of exchanging letters.

Harry was unlike anyone else I knew. He was different to me.

XIXIXIXIX

My father dropped me off at Madam Malkin's to get fitted for school robes while he went off and did business in Knockturn Alley. I didn't mind so much since it got me away from my father's stifling presence.

"What are your measurements, dear?" Madam Malkin asked. She was a few inches too close for comfort. I didn't like physical contact too much. Getting it was normally in the form of spankings. I told her I didn't know, so she pulled a measuring tape out of her pocket and began to fit me for school robes. It was taking a while, and I quickly became bored (and stifled) with Madam Malkin's hovering presence.

It took another ten minutes after the fitting before she told me my robes were ready to be purchased. I handed her the galleons and took the bag of robes from her grasp.

Several other Hogwarts students were getting fitted around me by assistants as I exited the shop. I glanced around, searching the crowd for a familiar face. I had no where to go until my father came back.

"Draco!" a voice called. It was a child's. My chest skipped, but I quickly became disheartened when I realized it was Pansy Parkinson, a model Pureblood child. She was alright, but she was rather boring. My parents stuck me to her for an arranged marriage, so I had to try and bear her existence and cope or else the rest of my life would be a very depressing one.

"Hello, Pansy. How are you?" I asked formally and stiffly, just as I was trained. She latched onto my arm happily, and I tried to pull away discreetly, but to no avail. I gave up and just went with it.

"Just wonderful, Draco! I came here with my parents, but they went off to buy my school books and potion ingredients for me. I left them, though, as they were boring me to tears." She began rambling on about some scam her mother had gotten into with the Aurors and how much money they had to pay to get out of the deep and dangerous waters and how excited she was for Hogwarts to begin and how we were going to have so much fun together in Slytherin and it would be great to be near each other all the time instead of only seeing each other a few times a year. I resisted the urge to vomit. She was such a leech.

I wanted to tell Pansy that she made me bored to tears like her parents did her, but I never got the chance. I spotted a mop of black hair disappearing through the crowd. I yanked my arm as hard as I could, and Pansy's grip slid off my arm. I took off running, rather frantically, through the crowd without another word to the annoying girl.

"Harry!" I yelled as loud as I could, sprinting through the crowd with my bag swinging wildly around at my side. I shouted his name again. This time he stopped and turned around. He was with a moderately young and skinny man with dark, curly hair. I barely paid him a second glance, though, as Harry had rushed forward. The next thing I knew, my bag was on the ground by my feet, but I could care less as Harry jumped into my arms.

I laughed with joy as I held onto him tightly. It had been a year since our last physical encounter, and it wasn't the least bit awkward. I held on tightly to Harry even though I never really liked or received hugs before. Harry was different from everyone else. He was the exception.

Harry pulled back, but we still held onto each others arms. Harry had grown, and his face had lost some baby fat. He looked brilliant.

"How've you been?" I asked earnestly, trying to hold back a foolish smile by biting my lip. I knew it wasn't working.

Harry smiled brightly at me, and leaned in. His mouth was mere millimeters from my ear. "Great. You?"

I never got the chance to answer as the thin, dark haired man approached, laying a hand upon Harry's shoulder.

"So you must be the friend Harry has been exchanging letters with," the man observed. Harry looked up at the man. "Harry… well, er, not so much as talks about you as communicates with us of your existence." He seemed slightly flustered. I wondered why.

I didn't know what to say to this, so I smiled awkwardly up at the man. Apparently Harry didn't talk to them still. He never mentioned his muteness much in the letters, and I never bothered to ask about it. But, it seemed, Harry was still as mute as it came when around other people. He really did only talk to me.

"I'm Sirius, Harry's godfather." I immediately fell into my charm mode. I was taught thoroughly if nothing else.

"I'm Draco. Draco Malfoy. How do you do?" I held out my hand confidently, finally releasing Harry from my hold. An odd expression strained across Sirius's face as he shook my hand. His smile was forced. Adults were weird, I decided.

"Good, thanks. How are you?"

"Satisfactory, sir."

I looked back at Harry to see him looking shyly up at me from underneath his fringe. Now that the initial greeting was done with, I was feeling rather shy myself. It was silly, but I couldn't help it.

"Well, er, Harry and I must get going now. So much to do, so little time. It was nice to meet you, Draco," Sirius said.

A shot of despair shot through me. I had only just seen Harry! It seemed unfair to just let him out from under my grasp so quickly.

Harry stepped out from under his godfather's hand and held onto my hand tightly. I raised my eyebrows at him, but he wasn't looking at me. He gazed up at Sirius quietly but defiantly. Sirius seemed surprised to say the least, but he got the hint.

"Well, um, Harry, would you like to stay with your friend a little while longer? I need to go make a trip over at the Apothecary, so could you stay here while I do that?" Harry nodded silently. I decided I liked Sirius even though he tried to cut our meeting short. He didn't seem nearly as cold or uptight as my own parents. My father certainly never would have allowed any meeting at all with Harry. And, admittedly, I would never have had the guts to ever meet with Harry in front of him.

He bid us farewell, and I picked up my bag from the ground, pulling us over to an empty bench.

"So you're going to Hogwarts, then?" I asked Harry, who sat right beside me, still latched onto my hand.

Harry nodded fervently, his black locks swaying with the movement. I wished to hear his voice. I smiled. "That's great! What house do you think you'll get into?"

Harry shrugged slightly and said, "Gryffindor, but it's okay if I don't get into it. I just want to get into whatever house you're in."

I smiled, touched by Harry's words. I felt the same way. He was my only friend, and I couldn't imagine being in separate houses. I squeezed his hand briefly in acknowledgment. "Well, I wanted to be in Slytherin, but if you don't want to be in it, then I guess I won't be either. My entire family has been in Slytherin for forever. Do you know what houses your parents were in?"

"Gryffindor. Like the rest of my family."

"Hey, you know what?"

"What?"

"How about we try to get in Ravenclaw or something? That way we can both be in different houses than our ancestors." That, and I was sick of all of my father's high expectations of me. I was eleven years old, for Merlin's sake, not some thirty-year-old genius.

"Just so we can prove we can break forever?"

"Mhm, so what d'you say? Ravenclaw?"

"Well, I do like blue," Harry remarked.

"Then, it's settled!" I exclaimed. "We'll be a famous duo, ruling the halls of Hogwarts at eleven! Draco and Harry!"

"Harry and Draco!" Harry countered. We fell into hysterical giggles and banter for a few minutes, and Harry was even better in real life than on paper.

I looked up from where I was holding onto Harry through my laughter, and I saw my father's tell-tale groomed mane of white blond hair. A nauseous wave of fear swam through my upper stomach. My father couldn't see Harry and me together. He would take me away from him: I was sure of it.

"I've got to go, Harry. It's my father." Harry knew about my father's rules through our letters. He knew how I wasn't allowed to have friends, and so Harry wordlessly slipped his arms around my shoulders, burying his face in my neck for a few short moments. I returned the hug. I pulled back with reluctance, but my panic was overriding my urge to hug Harry any longer. It was a tragically short meeting, but I couldn't change that.

"I'll see you soon: promise!"

"Bye," Harry said. Those were our last words as I swiftly weaved my way around people and appeared next to my father.

"Ah, there you are, Draco. Did you get your robes?"

"Yes, father." I held up my bag for him to see. My heart was finally slowing down from my mild panic attack.

"Good," he said. "We must be leaving now. We've spent enough time wandering around these mangy streets."

He grabbed my arm tight enough to bruise, and I restrained the urge to cry out. Then I felt a sickening jolt and I was being squeezed through a tight tube and when I finally emerged I gasped because there was no oxygen.

"Now, go see to your studies, Draco," my father ordered.

I held back a groan at the repetitive aspects of my short life. I was subdued as I left the entrance of my home to go to the wing I normally resided in. Hogwarts started in a week. My life would be interesting in a week.

I smiled to myself, grabbed a random book, and settled down onto the black, leather couch.

I would see Harry again in a week.

A/N: EDIT 12/26/09, as there were soooo many mistakes, and no writing is ever finished. I spelled "forward" wrong for God's sake.