This was written YEARS ago, so long ago I don't even know how long ago, for the Armchair Slash Furniture Challenge, my prompt object was the Hufflepuff table in the Great Hall. This is so old and slightly crap, but I just found it on my computer while cleaning my files out. Better to put it up here than have it hidden away doing nothing, hey? Harry/Draco pre-slash, set around 4th year, AU to GOF but Draco still has Daddy issues. Cuteness, bickering and furry slippers. One Simpsons reference if you can spot it.
I think I meant to continue this so that it became a proper romance but it probably won't happen, just imagine that right now, years on, the boys are happily bickering over their own breakfast table in their own house where of course they live, because of course they are married by now.
Don't Eat the Bacon
If Harry had felt anxious about going down to the Great Hall before dinner, that was nothing compared to the way he felt now. He was about five seconds short of running out of the Hall, out of the school, out of the Wizarding World, and living out the rest of his life as a dung-shoveler in the Muggle circus, where at least no-one would pay him any undue attention. Besides, right now, shoveling shit sounded a whole lot better than having the half the school glaring at him like he was some disgusting object they'd found underneath their large toenail.
"Harry, I can't believe you didn't tell us." Ron hissed angrily at him from beside his left elbow.
Harry glared back. "I tried, you..."
But he was cut off, this time from somewhere near his right elbow. "Of course you didn't tell them. Hoping this whole mess would just go away somehow, Potter? That it was just a bad dream?"
"Fuck off, Malfoy." Harry ground out his reply through gritted teeth, not moving his head. He looked to Ron for support, but his best friend was, once again, pointedly ignoring him.
"Aw, what's wrong Potter? Not enjoying my company?"
From the moment Dumbledore had announced their punishment to the school, Harry had been deliberately avoiding looking to his right for any reason. But the tone of Malfoy's voice made him suddenly turn around and glare at the boy sitting next to him.
"You're enjoying this, aren't you? I can't believe you, you bastard!"
Malfoy smirked. "Potter, the whole of my house, and the whole of your house, want to throttle you, and the rest of the school is laughing it's head off at you. What part of this wouldn't I enjoy?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe the part where we have to spend the rest of the fucking term sitting next to each other at every fucking meal because YOU aren't fucking man enough to control whatever fucked-up spells you've been fucking around with."
Harry was bright red with the combination of being extremely angry, but trying not to shout at the same time. He really did want to yell at the smarmy git until his ears exploded, but he'd never been in such close proximity to such a large group of Slytherins before, and he wasn't sure that relying on his friends to back him up was a viable option right now.
Malfoy's smirk grew even wider as he leaned forward. Harry noticed for the first time that, in much the same way that Ron's eyes lit up when he grinned, the Slytherin's eyes grew brighter in proportion to the intensity of his sneer. "You know, Potter, it's really your own fault. That curse was meant for you. You were the one who chickened out, deflected it towards the Hufflepuff table and blew the thing to smithereens."
Harry's rage threatened to explode as Draco continued.
"If you'd just stayed and taken it like a man..."
Harry gave up.
"Fuck off, Malfoy," he repeated quietly.
He could still feel the glares of the entire table on him as Dumbledore stood at the front of the Hall, informing the students about the rescheduled Slytherin/Ravenclaw match on Saturday. Harry wasn't paying particular attention, but he noticed with some misery that, from the Slytherin table, even the headmaster's benevolent tones sounded emptier and colder.
Now, thanks to Malfoy, and, he supposed, in part thanks to him, he was going to have to spend a large amount of time here in the next few weeks, squashed between the entire Slytherin and Gryffindor houses, while the Hufflepuffs laughed at them from their temporary position at the Gryffindor table. After this afternoon, and yet another disastrous duel between the school's biggest rivals, Dumbledore had obviously decided that normal detentions weren't working anymore, and had delved into the Hell Labs Ironic Punishment Division Handbook for new ideas.
The worst part was that even his friends were pissed off at him. "Oh, Harry, honestly," Hermione had chided him. "You shouldn't have been fighting at all. You're nearly fifteen, for God's sake, you're too old to let yourself get caught up in Malfoy's childish games."
Well, Harry decided, she was right, and he wasn't going to let the slimy git get to him anymore. Even if said slimy git was now squashed so uncomfortably close to him that his elbow jabbed Harry painfully in the ribs every time he did yet another impersonation of "Potter, panicking like a girl at my harmless little hex." Apparently the Slytherins, to no-one's surprise, had also decided that this was all Harry's fault, and were continuing with their age-old tradition of finding every stupid thing that Malfoy did exceedingly funny.
Harry tuned out the raucous laughter and wished that the jug of pumpkin juice in front of him was big enough to drown in.
No, Malfoy wasn't getting to him at all.
Harry purposely avoided going to both breakfast and lunch the next day, instead snaffling a few pieces of toast and a sandwich from the kitchens in between breaks. From what he heard, neither meal had gone particularly well. Thankfully, by the end of the day Ron and Hermione were at least talking to him again, although they still weren't happy about the whole ordeal.
"I don't get it," Ron complained loudly during History of Magic that afternoon. "Dumbledore is supposed to not be evil. Yet here he is, lumping us all with the bloody Slytherins, when it was you who got into a fight, not the rest of us. Sorry Harry," he added, seeing his friend's expression, "but I mean, why punish all of us?"
Harry sighed, "I guess maybe he thinks it'll help inter-house relations or something."
Ron snorted. "Right. More likely we'll end up killing each other. And all this over a table. A bloody table. I mean, why don't they just buy a new one."
"Ron," Hermione, sensing an opportunity, looked up from her parchment. "The tables in the Great Hall are as old as Hogwarts itself. They were carved by the best craftsmen of the time, from the finest combination of magical woods..."
"Hermione!" Ron rolled his eyes. "Alright, I get the point."
Hermione looked disgruntled. "I was just pointing out that they aren't like your average table that's all. You can't just buy, or even make another one. And they'll have to calibrate it to match the exact magical levels of the existing tables, and run all sorts of tests. Otherwise the Hufflepuffs' food could end up appearing on their heads or something. You'd know all about it if you'd read..."
"Hermione." Ron's tone was now one of warning.
Harry chuckled lightly at their familiar banter. Perhaps this term wouldn't be so bad.
Or perhaps it would be worse than he thought.
Although most of the Gryffindors had grudgingly accepted their fate and were no longer out for his blood, they still, it seemed, wished to inflict a small amount of their own punishment by deliberately forcing him to sit next to Malfoy at every meal. After the first few times, Harry had hoped Malfoy would be as sick of him as he was of Malfoy, but on the contrary, the bastard seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps he relished the fact that the object of his constant snarking, bitching, joking and plotting was sitting right there, where Harry could hear every nasty thing that was said about him.
Five days in, Harry had had enough.
"What's wrong, Potter?" The constant drawl of Malfoy's voice was particularly annoying today. "Lost your appetite?"
Harry spun around, accidentally-on-purpose elbowing Malfoy in the shoulder, hard. "No, it's just the nauseating feeling caused by my proximity to you. I'm having trouble keeping my food down."
It was true, in a way. Harry's appetite had never been huge, years of living off mere scraps at the Dursley's had seen to that, but having to eat in front of the Slytherins, especially Malfoy, was somehow disconcerting. He hadn't eaten properly all week, although if his friends had noticed, none of them had commented. He was surprised that the other boy had brought it up. Although they had been pushed together, he had avoided looking in Draco's direction as much as possible, and this was the first time since the Punishment that Malfoy had addressed him directly.
Malfoy rubbed his shoulder, but kept going anyway, "You eat like a fairy, Potter. All picking away here, and nibbling there. I always knew you were a complete girl, this just proves it. Watching your figure are you?"
Harry glared as Draco ran his eyes up and down Harry's torso, pretending to leer at him.
"The only fairy around here is you, Malfoy." Harry glanced over at Draco's plate, and did a double take. "What the hell is all that? Why do you have so many knives and forks?"
Draco sneered at him.
"I wouldn't expect you to have learned proper etiquette, Potter, especially not hanging around with the Weasley's. They probably have to share the one fork they own between the lot of them. This,"
Harry had opened his mouth to retaliate to Draco's snide comment, but was cut off as he held up the forks, "is for the entrée. This is for the main dish, and this one is for dessert."
Harry burst out laughing. "You have a special fork for dessert? And," he had to stop and draw a breath, "entrees? We don't have entrees, Malfoy, this is a school dining hall."
"Like I said, Potter, I wouldn't expect you to have the slightest clue. If you'll excuse me." Draco turned back to his Slytherin pals, obviously put out by Harry's lack of interest in dining etiquette.
But Harry had found that, strangely, he had quite enjoyed himself this time.
As the days went by, Harry noticed that Malfoy must have been getting tired of the other Slytherins, or they were tired of his jokes, it was hard to say. But more and more, Draco would turn to Harry as a source of entertainment during mealtimes. Sometimes it was to threaten Harry with defeat in an upcoming Quidditch match, or gloat over points taken off in Potions, but mostly it was to discuss food. Or rather, Harry's lack of knowledge, class, and taste when it came to food.
"Oh god, Potter, please don't tell me you're going to put that in your mouth."
Fork halfway to his mouth, Harry froze. "What do you mean?"
He looked at the offending piece of food on the end of his fork, and frowned. "It's just bacon, Malfoy."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Yes, that's what they tell you. Like you said, Potter, this is a school dining hall. Do you think that piece of - " he screwed up his face, "meat, is actually from any sort of animal resembling a pig? Didn't you read Rita Skeeter's expose on the poor quality of food served in educational institutions?"
Harry looked at his fork again, shrugged, and promptly popped it into his mouth. Draco looked like he might be sick.
"What the hell is this crap?"
"It's popcorn, Malfoy. Are you that deprived?" Harry should have been sick of Draco's constant whingeing. He really shouldn't keep playing up to Malfoy's snide comments, but it was too tempting. Especially this time.
"Popcorn?" Draco stared at the bowl that had appeared in front of them like it was full of deranged flobberworms.
"Yeh, I think the Muggle Studies classes are doing Muggle movies this week, so they must be giving everyone a taste of cinema culture." As Harry tried to explain, Malfoy leaned over and began tentatively sniffing at the fluffy white pieces.
"Muggles? Oh, it figures. Trying to poison us with Muggle food, what next? My father-"
"Oh for god's sake, Malfoy."
Draco was rather rudely cut off by Harry shoving a handful of popcorn into his open mouth. "Just shut up and try it, will you?"
Malfoy made as if to spit out the offending food, but seemingly decided against it. "It's ok, I suppose." His voice was rather muffled as he chewed and swallowed. "But put those filthy hands of yours near my mouth again, and you'll be less a finger or two, Potter." Draco glared at him, but despite the threat, it was all Harry could do not to burst into laughter, as Malfoy picked up his tiny dessert fork and proceeded to eat the snack with it, piece by piece, as if it was some sort of rare delicacy.
Draco eyed the plate that Harry was holding out to him dubiously.
"Do you know how many calories are in even one slice of Mrs. Fingleworth's Double-Choc Fudge Mud Cake?"
"No, Malfoy, and does it look like I care? Do you want some or not?"
Draco ignored him and dug around in his robe pockets, bringing out a small white book. He flicked through it, and Harry leaned over his shoulder to get a better look. It looked like lists and lists of different foods, with numbers beside them. "What -?"
"Here we are, look. It's worth seven points. That's almost a whole day's worth."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Honestly Potter, do you even live on this planet? Seven points on the MagiSlim points program, I'm only allowed ten a day, so..." He scrutinised the cake again.
Harry stared at him. "You're on a diet?"
Draco glared. "It's not a diet, it's a weight control program. I figured..."
He trailed off, but Harry persisted.
"You figured what? Malfoy, you're one of the smallest guys in our year, you're skinny as hell." As if to prove his point, Harry poked Draco in the ribs with his finger. "If you lost any weight you'd be putting my eye out with your elbows at every meal."
"Right, Potter." Malfoy batted his hand away irritably.
"I'm serious, why would you do that?"
"Why do you care?" Malfoy was suddenly angry. He turned to look Harry square in the face. "Look , I thought if I was lighter, I might be able to fly faster okay? Then I wouldn't have to put up with you gloating after every bloody match we have."
"You're starving yourself just to beat me?" Harry was startled to hear genuine concern in his own voice.
"Just fuck off, Potter."
"You're not going to eat all of that, are you?" Harry deliberately made his tone light as he nodded at Draco's plate.
Draco didn't even turn his head in Harry's direction, and when he spoke, his tone was icy. In fact, it was colder than Harry ever remembered it being, even before this whole exercise.
"What part of 'Just fuck off' don't you understand?"
Ever since Dumbledore had started this ridiculous idea, Harry would have given anything to just be back at the old Gryffindor table, to be able to speak to his own friends at meal times without a bunch of conniving Slytherins listening in, and most importantly, to not have to put up with Malfoy's sniveling presence at every bloody meal.
Or so he thought.
When Harry arrived at breakfast one morning and Draco wasn't there, he didn't think much of it. They'd both missed meals before, and Malfoy was often at his bitchiest during breakfast. Harry figured it would be good to have a break from him, especially lately. Since their pseudo-argument about Malfoy and his diet, he'd been less pleasantly irritating and more out and out nasty to Harry. In fact, in the past few days, Malfoy hadn't spoken at all, just eaten his meal in silence.
Harry wouldn't have said that Malfoy had exactly changed during this whole debacle, but he'd thought they were getting on marginally better than before. He'd grown used to having Draco's presence beside him, heck, he'd even grown used to the bloody dessert fork. In fact, he was rather fond of it. Now, as much as Harry hated to admit it, the space next to him at the table felt ten times larger than it actually was.
It felt even bigger at lunch, when Draco still hadn't shown up. Harry debated asking the Slytherins what was up, but decided against it. Exams were coming up soon, he told himself, everyone was missing meals. Hermione was practically living in the library. Malfoy must be studying, that was a perfectly rational explanation.
But by dinner, Harry was worried. Malfoy hadn't shown up to any classes that day , either, not even Double Potions. Harry tried picking at the food on his plate - roast beef and new potatoes, Draco's favourite - but he couldn't get anything to go down. There seemed to be a weird sort of lump in the way.
Harry shifted uncomfortably in his sleep.
He sat up with a start, reaching for his wand, ready to attack the whatever it was that was making that sound. It was then he realised that it was, in fact, his own stomach. He also, quite suddenly, realised that, having eaten practically nothing all day, he was absolutely starving.
Slipping on his invisibility cloak, and his Ugg boots - a small touch of Muggle culture that Hermione had given him last Christmas - Harry crept quietly out of the dormitory. He probably could have tiptoed the path through the common room and out of the portrait hole in his sleep by now, but he kept his eyes open just in case.
When he reached the kitchen, he was greeted rather excitedly.
"Harry Potter has come to visit Dobby again, Dobby is most honoured. All of Dobby's friends are visiting him tonight, he is very lucky."
Harry carefully disentangled the house elf from around his legs. "Ah, yeh, thanks Dobby. While I'm here, ah, visiting you, do you think maybe I could get something to eat? I missed dinner..."
"Certainly, certainly, Dobby is happy to give Harry Potter dinner." The elf began running around, gathering plates and leftovers from here and there. "He is used to young masters wanting midnight snacks."
"Ah, I see." Harry fought back the urge to help prepare the meal, his instinct after years of slaving away in the kitchen taking over.
"Would Harry Potter like Dobby to send his meal upstairs too?"
Harry was startled. "What?"
Dobby stopped his bustling about and bowed as he addressed Harry. "I'm sorry, sir, but Dobby just thought - the young master wanted to eat upstairs. Dobby thought Harry Potter might too."
"Oh." Realisation crept slowly into Harry's brain, and then proceeded to give him a good slapping. "Ah yeh, actually, I'd like that."
He turned quickly to leave, but hesitated at the door. "Dobby?"
Draco was nearly asleep when Harry entered the Hall. He was hunched over his still untouched plate, and he looked incredibly small and fragile, stuck all the way over at the Slytherin table in their usual spot. Harry crept up quietly, and was almost beside him when he spoke.
Draco nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound of Harry's voice, but his look of surprise was quickly replaced with his familiar smirk. No, wait, it wasn't. Harry noted with disappointment that Draco's eyes were still very much emotionless. And tired. The boy had dark circles under his eyes, and they were slightly red, as if he'd been rubbing them a lot.
"What are you doing here, Potter?"
As if in answer, Harry's food appeared on the table beside him.
"I, ah, I haven't eaten much today."
Malfoy frowned at him. "I never took you for a swot, Potter."
Harry shook his head. "No, I wasn't studying. I mean, I came to lunch and dinner and everything, but," he hesitated. "I didn't feel much like eating."
"Oh." Draco turned his head to stare back down at his plate as Harry tentatively sat down beside him. Even though the table was completely empty, it didn't feel right sitting anywhere else, especially now Draco was back there too.
After a moment's awkward silence, in which both boys pretended to be eating by poking at the food on their respective plates, Harry gave in.
"Where were you today?"
Draco's head shot up, and he looked as if he was going to snap again, but then he just looked tired as he replied, "I had to go home. My father wanted to talk with me about..." He hesitated, and Harry noticed the slight clench of his fists where they rested on the table. "Things."
"Oh." It was Harry's turn to be at a loss for words.
"I didn't have much of an appetite, either."
At Draco's words, Harry felt a surge of something inside him that could have been relief, or maybe something else.
"I'm sorry, okay?"
Harry was shocked. "What?"
"Oh, shut your mouth Potter, you're very unattractive when you gape like that."
Harry shut his mouth.
"I'm sorry for snapping at you about that stupid diet. Yes, okay, it was a diet. It was a crap idea, anyway, it wouldn't have worked."
"Because you kept sneaking down to the kitchens for midnight snacks." Harry's face lit up as he remembered Dobby's words.
"How did you- " Draco stopped and almost smiled. "Yeh."
"I guess - I'm sorry too. For, you know..."
"What? Being good at Quidditch? That's ridiculous Potter, I don't want your pity."
"What did you say?" Malfoy's eyes nearly bulged out of his head.
"Malfoy. I was going to say, if you want someone else to talk to about...things..."
"Nice shoes, Potter." Draco interrupted, smirking at him again. It wasn't quite a smile, but Draco's eyes seemed more alive this time, and Harry was satisfied with that.
"What? Oh." Embarrassed, Harry attempted to hide his slippers under the seat, but it was too late. "They're this Muggle thing..."
"Why does that not surprise me?" Malfoy rolled his eyes, but Harry could see the tension in his body easing as they both picked up their forks and began to eat.
The next day, Harry came down to breakfast with a feeling of unexpected happiness, coupled with a sense of satisfaction. He and Malfoy had worked things out, as much as Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy reasonably could, and Harry was looking forward to getting back into their usual mealtime dialogue.
He didn't notice any of the strange looks that the rest of the school gave him as he entered the Hall and automatically headed for the Slytherin table. He didn't even notice Ron and Hermione waving frantically at him from the Gryffindor table as he took his usual seat next to Draco. He was too busy thinking up ways to make fun of Malfoy's new personalised drinking goblet to hear Dumbledore's announcement, in which he thanked the many wizards and witches who assisted in the creation of the new Hufflepuff table, which had arrived that morning.
In fact, Harry didn't even notice anything was wrong until he was halfway through his first mouthful of breakfast. He looked up to see Malfoy staring at him as if he'd grown two heads.
"Potter..." he hissed.
"What are you doing?"
Draco looked absolutely scandalised.
"What?" Harry frowned at him.
Draco looked pained.
"How many times have I told you. Never EVER eat the bacon."