IMPORTANT: This is the sequel to Fear of One's Own Darkness. And it has warnings for language, underage drinking, and AU.
The Wisdom of Drunks
"Sho – so don't misinpert – misinterp –" Draco's eyebrows furrowed as his mouth struggled to form the word, but after several failed attempts, he gave up altogether. "– don't get me wrong or anything, but, um..."
Slumped in a barstool, Harry looked up blearily from his Firewhiskey. "But what?"
The blond eyebrows furrowed again, scrunching into a line. "Aw, dammit, I forget."
A hazy silence descended over them. While Harry continued to nurse his drink, Draco stared at a nonexistent stain on the Room of Requirement's ceiling, seemingly fascinated.
Finally, the pureblood cleared his throat. "I think I've had one too many drinks."
"Hate to break it to you, but 'one too many' happened ten drinks ago."
"You were counting?" Despite his best efforts, Draco's scowl turned out lopsided.
Harry just shrugged noncommittally.
"I knew I shouldn't've let you convince me to get shma – smashed. Muggle ideas are always imbel – imbelli – im-be-ci-lic," slurred Draco slowly, hiccuping.
Not having the energy to take offense, Harry sighed. "It wasn't my idea, you git. It was yours."
Draco blinked. "Oh."
They stared at each other for a moment before Draco pitched forward, swatting away Harry's hands to steal the Firewhiskey. Somehow, the alcoholic beverage blundered into Draco's grasp, and he took a hearty swig.
Allowing the liquid to burn down his throat, he smirked sloppily. "Oh, yeah. Getting sh – smashed was s'posed to help you get over the Weaselette thing."
Harry winced, reminded of the incident from just hours previous. When Ron had learned of the abuse that Ginny was suffering at the hands of her bastard boyfriend, Michael-Bloody-Corner, he'd flew into a rage. He'd pummeled Corner until the Ravenclaw was a puddle of flesh, and then Harry had finally dragged his friend away, returning only to give Corner a few choice words. Now, Corner was in the infirmary, soon to be taken into custody, Ron was being punished by McGonagall, and Harry was wallowing in despair—despair for his newfound crush on Ginny*.
The problem was, he couldn't even share the feelings with anyone except an insensitive Slytherin git. Ginny was certainly not ready to hear them, Ron was likely to kill him, and Hermione? Hermione would probably inform Ron.
"Hey, I remb – remem'er what I was gonna say earlier!" Draco exclaimed suddenly, interrupting Harry's thoughts.
"What?" answered Harry, wariness apparent in his gaze.
"Okay. Okay, don't take this the wrong way, but when –" Draco hiccupped again. "– when you were threatening Corner, you were scary as hell. An' y'know what you reminded me of?" Without pause, he barreled on, "Your boggart. An' now I finally know why you're 'fraid of yourself."
The other boy sighed, dropping his head to the table and skewing his glasses. "Wonderful."
However, Draco didn't take the hint and persisted, "No, seri'sly. You shoulda seen everyone's reactions, 'specially the first years'! Their jaws were on the floor, Potty! It'd have been so funny, if you weren't actually, like, fr'cking scary."
That was the problem with hallway brawls, Harry thought sadly. No privacy at all.
"Remind me never to annoy you, okay?"
"'S'a bit too late for that now, Draco."
"Oh." A lock of blond hair fell across Draco's eyes as he looked down at his fingers. "Damn."
During the subsequent silence, Harry wrestled back his bottle of Firewhiskey. The next time he glanced up from the drink, he noticed that Draco was sending him an intent stare.
"What?" he asked, slightly irritated.
"It's sho shad that – that..."
"What?" Harry ground out impatiently.
With a long-suffering sigh, Harry chugged the rest of his Firewhiskey and slammed his bottle onto the table. "Figures."
"Hey, Potter? I think we should prob'ly return now, 'cos – 'cos it's late, an'...yeah."
"We probably should." Harry stood with a sigh, scanning the room. Although it had no clock, the embers in the fireplace were dwindling.
Stumbling to his feet, Draco swerved to the door, but instead of turning its knob, he walked repeatedly into the wall just to the left of it. Incredulous, Harry watched as Draco growled, frustrated at the solid material. Then after several moments, Harry finally staggered over to relieve him.
"Here," grunted the Gryffindor, thrusting open the door. Draco nodded in gratitude and teetered forward, but stopped when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Wha?" he asked.
Harry grumbled something about being less inebriated and more capable of steering them, then draped his counterpart's arm over his shoulder. He ignored the feeble protests and, at a tortuously slow pace, set off down the corridor.
"Y'know, Potty, if I hadn't known better, I woulda bet that you were a regular drunk. You couldn't've had less than me. I mean, I wouldn't blame you, what with all the stuff you go through..."
The other didn't deign to reply, and when they reached the stairs, merely said, "We're going in different directions now, so I'll see you in class tomorrow." Under his breath, he muttered, "If you survive 'til then, that is."
"Aww," whined Draco, sounding remarkably childish. "You're aband'ning me? I thought you were a Gryff'ndork."
Harry glowered at him, before saying firmly, "Good night, Malfoy."
As the words left his mouth and Draco lurched off, he received a premonition that the night would only worsen. From the deserted halls, he knew that it was late, but he was too intoxicated to cast a Tempus and thus couldn't ascertain the exact time. He just hoped that no one would catch him in this state, sporting rumpled robes and reeking of alcohol.
The Fat Lady clucked at him when he reached her portrait – "And where have you been, young man?" – but he brushed her off with ease. Grumbling about the rudeness, she swung open to admit him. He knew immediately that something was wrong.
Even though Harry was certain that it was past bedtime, bright lights flooded the room, dispelling the darkness as if it were merely early evening. Students of all ages converged at its center, draped on sofas, slouched in chairs, and standing with friends. A sensation of déjà vu alighted in Harry, one called forth by the memory of a night during third year after Sirius Black had 'attacked', and he instantly realized that he'd walked into a House meeting.
Unfortunately, his entrance hadn't gone unnoticed. Upon hearing Harry's heavy gait, a murmur had rippled through the group as all heads turned to find the source of the noise. As the students swiveled toward him, he spotted McGonagall in their midst. She did not look pleased.
Stalking towards Harry, who had a sudden notion of what his delinquent father must have experienced in school, she enunciated imperiously, "What is the meaning of this, Mr. Potter?" When she was an arm's length from him, she sniffed suspiciously. "Are you drunk?"
'No' would be an obvious lie, seen as mocking and offensive, but he couldn't bring himself to say 'yes' either. His gaze shifted across the room, passing the shocked expressions to search in vain for an escape. He could find none. Hermione's eyes were wide with indignation, and when he looked away from her only to catch sight of Ginny, his throat constricted uncomfortably. It suddenly felt as if someone had cast an Incendio on him.
"Potter!" snapped McGonagall, and the boy winced, his silence speaking volumes. "I am aghast at this behavior!"
She wasn't the only one because, in truth, no one had ever encountered a rebellious Harry. He was 'golden' for a reason, a shining example for the younger years, an upstanding citizen, a hero. Nobody seemed to remember that he broke the rules all the time, year after year.
"First, I had to deal with Mr. Weasley, and now you?" continued the professor, almost quivering with anger. Disappointment saturated her tone. "What would your parents think?"
Harry's mouth opened on its own accord, and he replied, "That I take after my dad." As the words left his mouth, a tiny rational part of his mind yelled at him for the insolence. He was going to be punished for it, he just knew.
Soon, with a face turning white from insult, McGonagall proved his intuition correct.
Pursing her lips, she proclaimed tersely, "Very well then. I shall see you in my office tomorrow morning at six o'clock, and we will discuss your punishment."
Harry had no doubt that 'six o'clock' was an added penalty. After all, he'd be wilting under McGonagall's reprimands while hung-over. Suffice to say, he was not looking forward to it.
She harrumphed and turned back to address the students. "The rest of you can return to bed. This meeting is over."
After she left the room, a buzz traveled through the Gryffindors, and they began to shuffle to their dorms. Swaying slightly, Harry struggled to the sofa nearest Hermione and then collapsed into it. Instead of looking at her, however, he opted to stare at the ceiling.
A few moments of silence passed before Hermione succumbed to her inborn curiosity. "Why?"
"Is the sky blue? Something to do with light scattering. Or something."
Emitting an impatient noise, she sank into the cushion beside him. "You know what I'm asking about, Harry James Potter—"
Harry perked up, knowing that if she'd full-named him, she must've really been upset.
"—Where were you, and why did you get drunk?"
I'd tell you, thought Harry, except no one is even trying to hide the fact that they're eavesdropping. Those obnoxious—.
"Harry! Language! There are little kids in this room!"
The outraged exclamation motivated Harry finally to meet her gaze. He frowned faintly, noticing that many people in the room had turned a bright red. The younger students, who had always held him in high esteem, appeared absolutely dumbstruck.
A little sheepish, Harry asked, "Sorry, did I say that aloud?"
Eyes flashing, she nodded crisply, but unluckily for her, Harry's momentary shame had lapsed.
"Eh." Apathy had dug firm claws into him tonight. "If they weren't listening, they wouldn't have heard it."
"Harry!" Her arms folded tightly. "What has gotten into you?"
"Lots and lots of alcohol, love." He was just spiting her now, and he'd pay for it later, but at the moment he couldn't help but revel in the sensation of not caring.
"You're setting a bad example."
"No, I'm teaching everyone not to have unrealistic expectations."
"...You know what? If you want to be this way, fine." Angrily, she exhaled, causing her nostrils to flare. "Just tell me where you've been."
"I thought it'd be obvious. I was getting drunk."
He glared at her, but was too lazy to argue against the interrogation. "'Cos I've realized I'm in love."
"Oh my god, don't tell me you're in love with Malfoy!" Her shriek carried across the room and into the ears of the spectators.
"Oh my god, no! How did you jump to that conclusion?" He made sure his horrified protest matched hers in volume, ignoring the little voice that said the rumor would be rampant throughout Hogwarts tomorrow.
She calmed down slightly. "Oh. Good. Then who is it?"
The look that he gave her plainly said, 'Like I'm going to tell you here and now?' When she caught it, she sighed heavily and stood up.
"Hey!" she addressed their loitering housemates, using her patented Head Girl voice. "McGonagall said to go to bed!"
Disgruntled, they complied, some of them muttering darkly under their breaths. Hermione and Harry were left alone moments later, and knowing that his friend was about to pounce, Harry quickly asked:
"So, erm, what was the meeting about?"
Irritated at the abrupt topic change, she gave him a glare. "Abuse. Now that Heads have opened their eyes to it, they're just oh-so-eager to discuss the topic with their students."
Harry had a hard time imagining Snape being oh-so-eager, but didn't utter the comment. "I guess they didn't think it was an issue before..."
"Not an issue?" Clearly, Hermione was not appeased. "It's been an issue since—"
"Hermione." Harry rubbed his forehead tiredly. He was too drunk and tired to deal with her passionate rants right now. "Let's talk about this tomorrow, okay?"
"Oh, we will." She glowered but allowed him to leave. Grateful, he aimed a strained smile at her before escaping quickly.
The dorm was dark when he entered, except his roommates were not yet asleep. As he crossed to his bed, he could hear a soft conversation between Neville, Seamus, and Dean. Ron was conspicuously absent, but since Harry was in no state to deal with his friend, he thought the absence was for the best.
In vain, he hoped the other boys would not notice him. However, their silence alerted him of otherwise.
Neville was the first to speak. "All right there, Harry?"
"Why wouldn't I be all right?" Harry said into his pillow.
"You made quite a scene out there, mate." That was Seamus, sounding both amused and bemused.
A grunt issued from the Boy-Who-Lived. "What's your point?"
The only reply was a chorus of chuckles.
"Y'know, you're really...blunt when you're drunk," said Dean, which wasn't really to the point, but Harry was past caring.
"Blunt's good. We need more honesty in the world, anyway. And now to show that I'm not a hypocrite, I'll be honest and say, 'shut up and let me sleep'." He added as an afterthought, "Please."
"Since you asked so nicely..."
Before Dean could finish the sentence, Harry was dead to the world.
His sleep was dreamless, deep and black. Just a mere six hours into it, which wasn't nearly enough time to recuperate, he was dragged into wakefulness by the annoying buzz of a spell. It was an alarm charm, he realized. Hermione must have attached it to him the night before. Growling, he tumbled around to find his wand, then cast the spell to end the noise. He sat up, only to regret it immediately. His head throbbed; his muscles ached. He felt as if he'd been punched in the gut.
With a groan, he staggered out of bed and into the bathroom. In the smooth glass of the mirror, a pair of dull, bloodshot eyes blinked back at him, and promptly he concluded that he had no hope for salvaging his appearance. His face was drawn and pale, paler than normal, and his hair was thoroughly tousled. Since he'd slept in the robes, he determined there would be no need to change. Besides, his motor skills would not support such complicated movements.
Six o'clock found him in McGonagall's office, shriveling under her hard stare.
"Mr. Potter," she began icily, and Harry predicted that it'd be a long, long day.
"Care to explain last night's actions?"
"Not really, Professor."
That turned out to be the wrong answer.
"Well. Let me tell you a little about the actions you partook in."
She lied. By 'a little', she'd actually meant 'a lot', and Harry was forced to wither as she informed him all about underage drinking—its consequences; its gravity; its effects, physically, mentally and socially. Mind wandering, Harry began to wonder if McGonagall's knowledge came from personal experience. The thought of his professor as a teenage party girl caused a smile to worm onto his face, and before he could suppress it, McGonagall noticed.
Her lips pressed into a dangerously thin line. "Something amusing you, Mr. Potter?"
"Have you been listening to me at all, Mr. Potter?"
Although she didn't look too convinced, she relented. "Then I'll see you on Saturday for detention, and do try to stay out of trouble for the time being."
"Yes, ma'am," he replied dutifully.
At her nod of dismissal, he sped out of the room and breathed a sigh of relief. If he had spent any longer in her presence, he might very well have killed himself.
Slower now, he descended down the stairs for breakfast. A quick spell informed him that it was just a little past seven, and that he probably wouldn't suffer too many prying eyes in the dining hall. However, that depended on how fast he could eat. He had approximately ten minutes before most of the castle decided to dine.
His thoughts halted sharply when he discovered a collapsed figure at the foot of the stairs, right in front of the Great Hall's double doors. The figure was blond, asleep, and unpleasantly familiar. Hesitant, Harry prodded it with one foot.
It didn't even react.
Dropping to his knees, Harry rolled it over. The face that greeted him was haggard, so different from its normally suave appearance.
"Malfoy," said Harry, more insistent this time.
Incoherently, Draco mumbled something that sounded like, "G'way."
"C'mon, Malfoy. You've gotta get up. People are gonna be coming this way soon, and you do not want them to find you in this state."
"Shuddup. Sleeping here, can't you see?"
Harry sighed, realizing that, instead of returning to his dorm, Draco must have passed out here. It was time to try something much more drastic.
"You might also want to look in a mirror, since I took the liberty to shave off your eyebrows."
And Draco shot up, screaming, "What did you do, Potter?" Then more slowly, "...Oww, my heeead."
The smirk on Harry's face could have rivaled any self-respecting Slytherin's. "Shaved off your eyebrows."
"Potter, you – are – dead."
"Better than undead, which is what you look like right now. So please get up, before the entire school discovers us and thinks that we've been having a sordid affair."
"No! Give me a mirror, now! I demand it!" Draco's pout was impressive, Harry had to admit. Childish, too.
"Malfoy, I was kidding. Your eyebrows are still intact, but you seriously need to get up now." Harry was uncertain of how long they had wasted, but he could already hear the nearing footsteps.
"I don't believe you! Summon me a mirror!"
Breathing slowly to calm himself down, Harry tried to count to ten. Before he could reach five, however, Draco lost his patience and pulled out his own wand. A quick charm sent a mirror into his hands, and he released a long sigh when he peered into it.
"Okay, I believe you." Draco banished the mirror and clambered to his feet. Second later, though, he crumbled sideways, clinging to the banister.
"Looks like you're even worse off than me," chuckled Harry, moving forward to support the Slytherin.
Glaring, Draco protested, "I swear you drank more than... Oh."
Dread coursed through Harry, and he looked up, following Draco's gaze. "Oh."
Heading down the steps towards them was a flood of students. Coming around the corner was a whole other flood. All four houses were accounted for, presenting themselves in little groups, chattering animatedly—until they caught sight of the two seventh years. One by one, the students' conversations began to stop. The silence had a domino effect, and soon not one person was speaking.
Harry couldn't exactly blame them, aware that he and Draco must have been portraying quite an odd picture. As far as most of Hogwarts was concerned, they were still notorious rivals. And here they were, debauched and hung-over, one draped over the other. It must not have been a pretty sight.
At length, the eerie quiet was broken by Snape, who had fought through the masses. "What is going on here?"
Then his eyes landed on Draco and Harry.
For a moment, the three stared between each other, and then Snape paled, looking nauseous. The reaction seemed to snap the boys out of their daze, and they quickly untangled, although the act had unfortunate side effects for Draco, who teetered precariously before latching onto the banister.
When Snape strode towards them, robes billowing, Harry's stomach churned with déjà vu.
"Have you two been drinking?"
This would not end well.
In Snape's detention that night, Harry finally got around to asking, "So. What was sad yesterday?"
Draco blinked, the question of 'what-the?' plastered all over his face. "Excuse me?"
"You said something was 'sho shad'. I want to know what it was."
The Slytherin blinked again, halting in the midst of sectioning a frog eyeball. "Oh. I'd meant to say, it's so sad that you wear glasses, 'cos you'd actually have a chance of looking good without them."
Harry leveled him with a flat gaze. "You aren't being serious."
*Yes, I know Ginny only dated Corner in fifth year.
Thank you for reading. Also, thanks to the lj commentators who convinced me to post to fanfiction.