***

This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoat Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

This story was commissioned by Avana65, who bid in the LiveJournal Help_Haiti auction to have me write her a story. She was generous enough to let me post the fic for other readers, so make sure to thank her for her donation, which made all of this slashy goodness possible!

She asked for a Harry/Draco eighth-year storyline with a helping of UST and friendship. (For an added challenge, she threw in the prompts dressing down and Chocolate Frog. See if you can spot the scene where I used them!) She also shares my kink for Parseltongue. *grins*

Thanks for your donation, dearest! And thanks to FaeryQueen07 for her encouragement and beta skills!

***

October 1998

"Mr. Potter, honestly. I thought perhaps you and Mr. Malfoy had put these rivalries behind you."

Harry sighed, running a hand through his hair. He didn't know how he could convince her that this wasn't all a plot to mess with Malfoy. Hell, Harry Potter helping Draco Malfoy? It sounded far-fetched even to him.

"Listen, professor, I know this sounds bad. But I'm asking you to put us in detention for Saturday. Just for the morning, just until the intramural Quidditch try-outs are over."

McGonagall looked at Harry over the rims of her wire spectacles, her thin lips pursed tightly.

"I understand why you would want to skip the try-outs, Harry, but you can't deprive Mr. Malfoy of his opportunity to play Seeker for the team simply because you don't want him to do it," she said, her tone heavy with disapproval.

"It's not like that!" Harry protested. He sighed, sinking back into the comfortable wing-backed chair that had replaced the stiff wooden ones Professor Dumbledore had favored back when this had been his office. "I don't know why Malfoy doesn't want to play, I just know that he doesn't. Please? If I can get him to agree, will you give us the detention?"

McGonagall watched him for a long moment, her tight bun bobbing slightly when she finally came to a decision and nodded.

"Alright. If Mr. Malfoy agrees to this ridiculous plan of yours, I will set a detention for the two of you for Saturday morning."

Harry grinned, relief evident in his troubled green eyes. The Headmistress had disbanded the House system for the school year, claiming that the students would benefit from not being divided by arbitrary lines. That was how Harry and the rest of the Gryffindor seventh year class, who had dubbed themselves "eighth years" because that's what they technically were, had come to be sharing the former Hufflepuff dormitory with the older Slytherins as well as the third year Slytherins and Gryffindors and half of the new first years who had started Hogwarts that year.

"Thank you, Professor," Harry said, giving McGonagall a mock bow that made her laugh.

***

"It's going to be epic," Ron said, waving a fork laden with eggs in the air as he spoke. Hermione smacked him on the arm, glaring at him until he lowered the fork to his plate. "Well, it will be."

"The whole point of the intramural Quidditch matches was to promote unity among the students, Ronald," Hermione hissed, her eyes narrowing when Ron rolled his.

"I don't mind being unified, I just wish McGonagall's idea of unity didn't include forcing us to play nice with the snakes," he said, forking his eggs into his mouth and chewing loudly. "And we are all going to be unified … behind Harry as our Seeker."

"It's hardly as though we're overjoyed by the situation, Weasley," Pansy sniffed from her seat halfway down the bench. She shuddered as Ron opened his mouth to speak, showing the entire table his half-chewed eggs.

"Really, Ron," Hermione groaned, sounding pained.

"S'rry," he muttered, swallowing quickly. "I didn't say you were, Parkinson. McGonagall's a nutter for sticking us all together. It's a miracle no one's been killed."

While it was true that several minor Hexes – and even a few fist fights – had broken out over the last three weeks in their dorm, no large-scale riots had broken out. The newly formed house, which had been given the almost ironic name Venia, was located in the former Hufflepuff dorm. McGonagall had hoped the Latin word for forgiveness would remind the students that the war had ended and the time for healing had begun, but so far, the only thing keeping the two factions from tearing into each other had been the complete and total disinterest of two of their leaders: Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy.

Both boys had refused to be drawn into the petty fights between the two former houses, leaving their peers wondering how two of Hogwarts' most bitter rivals could suddenly proclaim not to care a whit about the other.

"I just meant that the two of them will be at each other's throats during Quidditch try-outs. It'll be nice to see, I reckon. It's just –" Ron wrinkled his nose, searching for the right word. "– unnatural not to have Harry and Malfoy fighting."

"It is not unnatural," Hermione said with a hint of censure in her voice. "You would do well to follow their example. Last week you had four detentions for fighting, Ronald. Four!"

Ron shrugged.

"Zabini had it coming," he muttered, turning his attention to the rasher of bacon on his plate.

"And so did Astoria Greengrass, then? And how about Eloise Midgen? And Jimmy Peakes? All they did was walk past while the two of you were dueling."

Ron shrugged again, sinking lower in his seat on the bench. He'd already had a Howler from his mother for landing three innocent students in the Infirmary during his last fight with Zabini, he hardly needed to hear it from Hermione as well.

"Would you just leave off, Granger?" Blaise yelled from his spot further down the table. "Merlin on a crutch, I don't even like Weasley, and even I think he could do better than a harpy like you."

His comment, predictably, set a flurry of hexes and insults flying up and down the Venia table, which continued until the Headmistress herself waded into the fray and confiscated all of their wands. Through it all, only two of the table's occupants remained uninvolved; Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter, sitting at opposite ends of the long, scarred table, heads down as they concentrated on the books in front of them, seemingly oblivious to the chaos erupting all around them.

***

Harry shouldered his book bag, hastening his steps so he could catch up to the long-legged blond in front of him.

"Malfoy," he whispered, raising his voice a bit when the other boy didn't respond. "Hey, Malfoy!"

Draco sighed, looking back over his shoulder at the messy-haired teen trailing along behind him. He'd known this unspoken truce with Potter had been too good to be true. He was only back at this ridiculous excuse for a school because his Ministry probation had mandated it; he'd rather be at home, studying his seventh year with a tutor and taking the N.E.W.T.s early, like Theo Nott was doing. Of course, Theo Nott didn't have a Dark Mark, and that was all that seemed to matter these days. He rubbed at the slightly-faded tattoo absently, allowing the other boy to pull him into a dark alcove.

"Listen, Malfoy, I know you don't want to play Quidditch this year –"

"Is that what this is about, Potter?" Draco sneered, unaccountably relieved that the former Gryffindor wanted to taunt him about Quidditch instead of hexing him into oblivion or calling in his life debt, which Draco had been waiting for him to do since term started. "You want me not to try out so you are assured of your precious spot on the team? Fuck you."

Harry growled, his fingers tightening painfully on the strap of his bag.

"No," he said, his jaw tightening. "You are such an arse. I overheard you asking Madam Pomfrey for a note saying you weren't well enough to play –"

"Spying on me, Potter?" Draco drawled, cold fear blossoming in his chest. If the other boy suspected why he didn't want to play and spread around the reason –

"Would you just shut up?" Harry hissed, wondering why he was even bothering trying to help the blond. The memory of how desperate he'd sounded when he'd been appealing to Madam Pomfrey for help, though, strengthened his resolve.

"Listen. I don't know why you don't want to play, Merlin knows it looks like you were born to fly, but I heard you, Malfoy. You sounded desperate to be given a reason not to try out," Harry said. When the blond didn't move to interrupt him again, he continued.

"I don't want to play either. Quidditch – it's just not important anymore. A lot of things aren't important anymore. But Ron–" Draco snorted, and Harry grinned slightly. "Ron doesn't get that. He's been so excited about the intramural games that there was no way I could tell him that I don't want to play."

Draco looked at the dark-haired wizard appraisingly, as though seeing him in a new light. The fact that the great Harry Potter might not want to play Quidditch or join in the other pursuits the rest of the rambunctious Gryffindors he'd been lumped in with this year enjoyed, well, that was a surprise.

"So? I assume you have some master plan that will save us both, then, oh vaunted Savior?" Draco sneered, but the barb was lacking the heat Harry remembered from years past.

"I do," Harry said, a wicked grin curving his lips.

***

Harry waited until the end of Double Transfiguration to make his move. He had only given Malfoy the barest of details about the plan, since an honest reaction out of the blond was crucial. McGonagall had just finished inspecting everyone's saplings, and the class had fallen into the bored malaise that usually overtook the longer lessons toward the end of the period.

They were working on fairly advanced magic, Transfiguring pencils into live saplings. Most of the class had done well, with the exception of Pansy Parkinson and Ron, whose saplings had ended up with leaves the consistency of eraser rubber. They had all been given half a dozen pencils to continue experimenting with as homework, and Harry made sure to knock Malfoy's off the table as he shoved his chair back while packing up his own materials.

"Watch it, Potter," Malfoy snarled, grey eyes flashing.

"Watch yourself, ferret," Harry replied, sneering at the fuming blond.

"Who are you calling a ferret, scar head?"

"Better to have this scar than that monstrosity," Harry hissed, leaning forward and yanking Draco's sleeve up, exposing the Dark Mark.

"Fuck you, Potter!" Draco roared, lunging over the table that separated them and tackling the dark-haired boy.

After that, the class' recollections of what happened differed greatly. Blaise Zabini would later swear he saw Potter use a Dark hex to split Draco's lip. Neville Longbottom claimed that Malfoy had used one of the pencils that had fallen to the floor to stab Harry. Ernie MacMillan, who wasn't even in the class, gleefully reported that he'd seen both bruised and battered boys being given Skele-Gro in the infirmary.

No account of the fight, however, left any doubt that both Malfoy and Potter definitely deserved the harsh detention the Headmistress had given them. Even Ron, who had been named captain of their intramural Quidditch team, couldn't fault McGonagall for banning the two boys from the upcoming try-outs. He swore he'd heard Harry break Malfoy's wrist, which was only fair, since he also reported the blond had broken Harry's nose.

Professor McGonagall herself wasn't even sure which of the myriad of stories floating around Hogwarts about the now infamous Malfoy/Potter brawl held the most truth. She'd pulled them apart, not one hundred percent positive the fight was faked, and sent them to the infirmary, but Poppy had brought them back to her office just minutes later, claiming she hadn't found a single injury on either boy.

Since she herself had seen their bloodied fists, she could only conclude that Harry had put his extracurricular Healing lessons to good use in some darkened corridor between the Transfigurations wing and the infirmary. Still, since both boys had sworn up and down that, though it had looked nasty, the fight had been completely faked, she'd had no reason to assign them a detention on top of the one Harry had already asked her to set for them. She did, however, fully intend to oversee their detention personally, just in case.

***

More tomorrow!