Disclaimer: The wonderful and talented J.K. Rowling has dibs on the characters and the majority of everything else. I do however own this particular variation so if you'd kindly not steal and claim as your own, I'd be grateful.
Harry rubbed at his right eye as he shuffled into the great hall for breakfast. He was instantly hit by a wall of rich, mouth watering smells of toast and bacon and porridge, a warmth slipping over him at the same time, but doing absolutely nothing towards waking him up. He had had a shower, a cold one at that, but still he felt as tired as when he had first woken from only a couple of hours sleep. As much as he'd like to, he couldn't even blame a professor for giving out too much homework, or Ron and his snoring for being so tired. It was his own fault, for once he couldn't switch off his thoughts. And those thoughts weren't even productive.
As soon as his arse connected with the smooth, cold wooden bench, he let his forehead connect with the arm he rested on the Gryffindor dining table, after pushing his plate out of the way. His glasses dug into his nose from where he pressed his eyes against his forearm. Sleep wouldn't come to him the night before but he was sure it would right then and there if he let it, what with the relaxing warmth and the heavenly smells.
Harry however had Hermione as a friend and she, being the person she was immediately sensed a day of Harry's short attention span in class and sharply poked him in the shoulder with her wand, sending a wave of what felt like ice cold water over him. His head shot up, his glasses slightly askew and he glared at the wavy haired, smiling girl across the table from him. His glare was half hearted and secretly he was grateful, he was however not about to share that information with her.
"What was the need?" he grumbled, blinking mainly to himself as he dropped the glare and straightened up in his seat, stretching one arm over his head and then another, Hermione's spell giving him enough energy to do that at least.
"I don't plan on letting you borrow my notes, again just because you were up all night copying the ones I already gave you. You'll never learn will you?" she said, preparing for a full on rant, as she reached across the table and spooned scrambled eggs onto Harry's discarded plate and pushed it towards him, reminding him immediately of Molly Weasley, trying to get him to eat and he wondered if Hermione knew about this trait she seemed to have picked up. He sighed and picked up his fork, even though he had no intentions of eating any of it, not having the appetite.
"I wasn't up all night doing that. I finished the notes before dinner yesterday, it was something else," Harry said, not wishing to go into detail of what that something else was but knowing, and preparing, for Hermione to try and get him to reveal it anyway.
Hermione opened her mouth, about to ask, with a small frown settling in her brow but was cut off when Ron spoke up for the first time next to Harry, through a mouthful of toast. "'ey 'arry? What do you fink mum woul' like for 'er birfday?" he said staring in front of him, his brow creased, clearly in thought.
Harry wasn't entirely sure if Ron just had immaculate timing or if he had caused the distraction on purpose. To be honest though, he didn't care; he was grateful for any kind of distraction and took it generously. He'd have to thank Ron in some way later, not caring whether he meant to do it or not.
He glanced at Hermione who had snapped her mouth shut and rolled her eyes, the frown long gone and her thoughts, for the moment at least, forgotten. "er, I don't know Ron. What did you get her last year?" Harry asked, switching his gaze to Ron and letting his fork drop to his plate, not having used it once.
"I'm 'ot sure Ginny-" he continued through another mouth of toast, spraying crumbs down his robes. Ron's table manners had never been desirable, and even though Harry knew he couldn't be much better, Ron was on a whole different level and it even turned his stomach sometimes.
"Ron, please, you're making a mess," Hermione fussed, her nose crinkled in the way it normally did around Ron, her frustration at his lack of manners clear. Harry managed a tired smile, grateful that Hermione seemed to have forgotten all about him as she fussed over Ron and they bickered as usual.
He blocked them out and glanced over Hermione's shoulder, spotting the flash of blond hair immediately, perking his sleepy eyes wide as he leaned to the right slightly and watched as the blond nodded to his fellow Slytherin friend and talked out the side of his mouth, tight and controlled just like always.
Harry's eyebrows furrowed and the curiosity within him peaked as that thought battled around in his brain 'just like always'. After a good seven years of following Malfoy around, the habit was still clearly there and alive within him, even if there was no longer anything to be suspicious about. This thought was exactly what had been worrying Harry for a good few weeks now, since the term had started.
The war was over and Hogwarts was reopened and every student still alive and not too injured was invited back to re-sit the year all over again, the obvious disruption clearly too much for them to be denied another chance. There were a few too many first years this year but they would manage. Even though Harry had every choice to go on and immediately go into Auror training, he wanted one last year, just so that he was officially finished and had the official certificate to say that he had graduated. A lot of the other older students clearly felt the same as almost everyone came back.
The wizarding world was still recovering from the war. There were still memorials being held, loose ends being tied up and the ministry being almost completely rebuilt and rearranged. Death Eaters were still being chased and caught and awards still being handed out, but it was getting there, if not slowly.
It took a lot for Harry to come back to Hogwarts even though it was an easy decision; it was more physically walking through the gates and not hearing the screams, walking through the corridors and not seeing the blood that was spilt and no longer there, that was hard. Harry was sure he was not the only one it held terrible memories for, look at Ron for example. He lost his brother here and even though he was putting on a brave face, Harry had to share a dorm with him and heard his grief sometimes late at night.
Harry had certainly not expected the feeling he felt when he saw Malfoy again for the first time since the war. He knew he'd no longer feel that boiling frustration and anger towards him but he didn't expect to feel so...warm. Warmth settled in his stomach whenever he saw his old enemy, and it was something he both didn't understand and didn't know if he liked or not. They hadn't exactly talked since they came back but every now and then they'd glance at each other and there would be no glares or frosty-ness. They'd just stare. It was confusing but comfortable at least. He wanted to say it was down to familiarity but everyone around him was familiar. He couldn't explain it even if he wanted to.
"Er, Harry?" a voice said from his right, snapping Harry out of the gaze he had fixed on Malfoy and he turned, coming almost nose to nose with Neville. He leant back quickly, sitting upright, having not realised he'd been leaning so far over. He swallowed in slight embarrassment as Neville smiled sceptically.
"I'm sorry Nev, I just..." Harry started, pointing in the vague direction of the Slytherin table before realising he couldn't really explain himself properly, for he himself didn't even know what he was doing. He closed his mouth firmly before he could say anything he'd regret and his frown returned.
"It's okay Harry, I was just getting a little cautious of the fact that you were dangerously close to sitting on my knee," Neville said calmly, with a small shrug as if he understood exactly what Harry was doing. Harry was tempted to ask, to see if he could get any answers himself but Neville had already picked up his goblet of orange juice and turned to speak to Ginny.
Harry turned to look at Hermione and Ron again to find they had stopped arguing and had taken up staring at each other lovingly, hands clasped and Ron leaning so far across the table to whisper in her ear that his tie was dunking into the pitcher of pumpkin juice. Neither of them seemed to have noticed his momentary lapse of concentration and for that Harry was grateful, the last thing he needed was Hermione on his back. Harry sighed and rubbed his eyes for what felt like the millionth time that day, Hermione's spell had started to wear off and he wanted to fall asleep again.
"I'll see you guys later," he mumbled, standing and stepping over the bench. They distractedly wished him goodbye and he kept his head down as he left the great hall, his eyes itching to look over at the Slytherin that occupied the majority of his thoughts. Maybe he was just used to following and thinking of Malfoy from the many years that he had done so before. Or maybe it was something else that Harry was blocking thoughts about subconsciously without realising it.