Edited 2/25/11- Fixed my French phrases with help from infinitylight. Thank you :)
I know I'm a bit late for Valentine's Day, but this plot bunny bit hard and just would not let go. It's a three-tier story, with three different points of view and each one goes a little bit further with the plot. I've never done that before, but it seemed cool so I figured I'd give it a try. (Also, if you missed it in the summary, this is slash, DracoXHarry.)
The French is all translated by yours truly- I've been studying it for like 6 years now, but I took a semester off and am a little rusty, if my grades are anything to go by. So if you know French and spot an error, please let me know!
Erm... think that's it... except Disclaimer: I don't own Harry, Draco, or any other part of JKR's wonderful Potter universe. I just write out of love for the characters and for personal enjoyment, not monetary gain.
Language of Love
Harry Potter woke up with a slight buzzing noise in his ears. That was a bit odd, if he thought about it, but he didn't, really, because his brain was working sluggishly and because the sound disappeared when he sat up.
He caught Seamus and Dean's muffled voices through the dormitory door, which was swinging shut behind them as they left. Harry yawned widely and then stood. Predictably, Ron was still firmly entrenched under the covers, so Harry picked up his copy of Quidditch Through the Ages and chucked it at his friend. It landed softly on Ron's elbow.
"Get up, sleepyhead, or you'll miss breakfast!" Harry said. Ron mumbled something incomprehensible but began the first of the shiftings that would eventually bring him out of bed. Satisfied, Harry trotted off to take a shower.
When he returned, Ron was dressed and ready, although he looked dead on his feet. He shouldn't have been up so late doing that Charms essay, Harry thought. He hoped his friend would get some food into him before Hermione noticed, though, or else he'd get an earful about how irresponsible it was to be slacking off.
He had no such luck, unfortunately. Hermione was already seated at the Gryffindor table, toast in hand and Arithmancy book on her lap. Ron ducked his head and slid into the seat next to Harry, so the black-haired teen blocked Hermione's view of him, and began hastily spreading some jam on an English muffin.
"Salut, Harry," said Hermione, glancing up from her book just long enough to flash him a small smile.
Harry wasn't paying much attention as he piled some sausages onto his plate. "Good morning, Hermione," he replied. "How are you?"
"Oh, je ne vas pas bien! J'ai un examen d'Arithmancy ce matin et je dois beaucoup étudier pour le reussir."
Harry blinked several times. He hadn't understood a word of what Hermione said.
She peered at his face intently, concern radiating out of every pore. "Que se passe-t-il, Harry?"
"Erm... nothing, I don't think... Hermione, are you, ah, sure you're feeling okay? Like, you're not working yourself too hard, are you?" Maybe she'd been spending so much time on her studies that she forgot to sleep- it had happened before- and was slightly delirious. She didn't look flushed, but Harry couldn't tell for sure.
"Merci, Harry, mais c'est ça va bien. Vraiment."
Harry dropped his fork. Hermione's voice had been much calmer that time, even and assured, yet he still didn't understand what she was saying. It was almost like she was speaking another language.
His eyes widened; maybe she was speaking another language. Were there spells that did that? Normally, he'd ask Hermione, but that was out of the question. He smiled and nodded at the witch, which seemed to placate her because she smiled distractedly and went back to her reading.
"Ron," he asked in an undertone. "D'you know of any spells that force people to speak in other languages, without them knowing they're doing it?"
"Hmm..." The red-head swallowed loudly. "Non, je ne pense pas... je n'en connais pas un. Pourquoi?"
Ron was doing it too? That only added to Harry's confusion; he could imagine Hermione knowing another language and getting confused, or Ron speaking gibberish to mess with him, but not Hermione joining him in that prank, or Ron being fluent in anything other than the Queen's English.
Harry glanced around wildly. Across the table, Neville was talking to Ginny Weasley, and by straining his ears Harry could catch snippets of the conversation, but the phrases didn't make any sense. "..si tu veux." "Non, ce n'est pas neccessaire; Luna peut m'aider..."
Dean and Seamus, Lavender and Parvati, Fred and George (who were playing Exploding Snap), it was all the same. They were talking quite naturally with each other, but Harry couldn't make out a single word. He leaned back- not even bothering trying to be discrete about it- and heard that the general murmuring from the Hufflepuff table behind him made no sense either. In front of him were the Slytherins, and he couldn't read their lips- and he was usually fairly good at that. Draco Malfoy caught him staring and glared fiercely, so Harry hastily looked away. The Ravenclaws were too far away to hear, and behind him so he couldn't see them, but he was willing to bet the same thing was happening over at their table.
The Boy-Who-Lived was ever-so-slightly panicking now. He had no idea what was happening to him or why.
"Ça va, copain?" Ron asked, staring at him intently.
"Um... Let me ask you something. Can you, ah, understand what I'm saying? Like, am I speaking English?"
"Bien sur!" he cried, but Harry didn't really know if that was a "yes" or a "no."
"Beg pardon?" he stammered.
"Oui, je te comprends, Harry," Ron said slowly. Oui- Harry knew that word; that was French. Was everyone around him suddenly speaking French? Was he speaking French too and not realizing it?
"Harry," Hermione cut in. Ron had apparently sent a confused glance her way. "Est-que tu es sûr que ça va?"
"I don't know what you just said, Hermione. It- it came out in French. Ron, did you hear French?"
"Non..." he said slowly, looking quite frightened now.
"When I speak, am I speaking in French? Or any other language besides English?" he demanded.
"Non, Harry, c'est un anglais parfait... tu penses que je parle français?" Hermione asked.
Harry thought he could piece that one together, since some of the words were so similar. Firstly, he felt no small amount of relief to know he was still speaking English. That meant whatever was happening to him was affecting his ears and not his brain- he hoped. "Yes, Hermione, everything you say comes out in French. Or, I hear it in French- Ron too. Everything is in French."
"Quoi?" said Ron blankly.
"Oui, Harry, répète ça s'il te plaît."
Harry took a deep, shaky breath. "Whenever anyone talks, I don't hear English, I hear French. Except for when I talk- that's still English, but nothing else is. But apparently you actually are speaking English... and I think you hear my words as English, right? And everything else too..." He was rambling, he knew it, but he was quite scared now because Hermione looked absolutely flabbergasted and alarmed.
"Tout ce qu'on dit est en français?" she clarified.
"Er... The only word I understood there was 'French.'"
Hermione sighed and began speaking so rapidly Harry couldn't even discern individual words anymore, working herself into quite a state.
"Respire, Hermione," Ron said. "Harry- depuis combien de temps tu entends du français?" Harry just stared at him, uncomprehending and even more upset.
Hermione gave a little gasp and dove into her bag for a quill and parchment. She wrote on the sheet and passed it over to Harry. His heart leapt when he could actually read the words as flawless English. 'Can you read this?'
"Yes! That's English!" he practically yelled in his joy, and several people looked at him questioningly. He ignored them, though, and Hermione beamed and began scribbling furiously, her usually-tidy script abandoned in her haste.
'So, you hear everything in French... do you know French, Harry?' He shook his head. 'That's why you can't understand it then... I think. Unless it's some weird dialect of French, or English even... how can you be sure it's French?'
"I recognized 'oui' and the word 'français.'"
'But 'oui' is used in Switzerland too! It could be any number of little-known languages; we only said French because that's what you said! How did this happen?'
"I have no idea," he sighed. "And I'm a bit more concerned with the fact that I can't understand anything anyone says to me than with figuring out exactly what language they're talking in!"
'No need to lose your temper, Harry, I'm just trying to help,' she wrote, accompanied by an indignant huff. 'Anyway- how long has this been going on?'
"C'etait ma question!" Ron cut in suddenly.
"Oui, je sais, Ron, mais Harry ne l'a pas comprise quand tu lui as demandé."
"Um- it just started this morning. I woke up with a buzzing sound in my ears," Harry added helpfully.
'That suggests a spell of some kind... and you don't remember getting hit with anything?'
"No." Harry said emphatically. The only person who cursed him regularly was Malfoy, and the Slytherin had been avoiding him for the past few weeks. Sometimes he rather missed it...
'I don't know what this could be, Harry... do you feel okay otherwise?'
"I feel perfectly fine," he said slowly, focusing his attention on each area of his body and finding that none of them hurt or ached or seemed to be any odd color. "Nothing's wrong except the French thing."
'That's a relief at least... and you don't have any idea what could have caused this? No Potions mishaps or midnight duels or anything?'
Harry scowled at that one; did she think he was still twelve? "No, Hermione, I told you, I haven't a clue how it happened. I didn't do anything out of the ordinary yesterday, and no one attacked me or gave me any funny foods or anything."
Her brow furrowed in concentration. It was a look so intense Harry wondered if she'd ever snap out of it. She did, though, but only when Terry Boot from Ravenclaw walked over and tapped her on the shoulder.
"Hermione, vien? L'examen?"
"Oh non!" she cried and stood up abruptly. "Je suis vraiment désolée, Harry, mais je dois y aller maintenant. Si je manque l'examen, je rate le cours!
"Hermione..." said Harry slowly.
"Zut!" she cried, and scribbled on the parchment- Sorry, but I can't miss this test or I'll fail the class!
"Mais, Hermione, le probleme de Harry n'est pas-" Harry elbowed Ron and shot a meaningful look at his friend, trying to wordlessly remind him that Terry was right there, and he didn't want this getting out to the entire school. Harry always valued his privacy, and if Harry Potter was unwell everyone would want to come over and offer their two cents. And, frankly, Harry had had more than enough of that.
"Plus tard, Ron. Salut!" she called over her shoulder and hurried away with Terry.
"Er..." said Ron awkwardly, and reached for the parchment. 'Are you alright?'
"I guess so, considering... dunno how we're going to fix this with Hermione gone, though."
Ron grimaced in sympathy. 'Sorry, mate... maybe it'll wear off on its own, if it's a spell. Not many of them are permanent.'
"You reckon?" Harry asked; he hadn't thought of that possibility.
'Possible, isn't it?' wrote Ron, and flashed Harry a grin. 'Either way, not much we can do about it... sucks that stuff like this always happens to you, though, mate.'
"Yeah..." said Harry moodily, and picked at the food on his plate. Ron sat there awkwardly for awhile before turning to Neville and joining that conversation, leaving Harry to his thoughts.
Harry didn't talk much at all that day. Hermione's test was so phenomenally important that it would take the better part of the day, so she wasn't in any of her other classes. Harry wondered why he himself bothered going- he couldn't understand a word of what the professors were saying, and of course they didn't write anything on the board. Ron tried to help as much as he could, but several times he and Harry got scolded, presumably for cheating (although, again, Harry didn't know because everything was in French.)
Interacting with his classmates was in some ways even worse. They had no idea he couldn't understand them and would randomly walk up and strike up a jovial conversation. Harry felt awful about not being able to join in, and even worse when he had to lie and say he had a headache and wasn't much in the mood for talking. Many people recognized the excuse as a lie but thought he was just doing it because he thought he was above talking to them, resulting in much hard feelings. Ron tried to help once or twice, but his tactlessness really had the opposite effect.
It resulted in a bit of a squabble with Ernie Macmillan, actually- nothing physical, but the words were heated enough that McGonagall asked Ron to stay behind for a lecture on proper classroom behavior (or at least, that's what Harry thought given her stern gaze and Ron's mutinous and embarrassed expression). Harry felt quite sorry for Ron and dawdled as long as he could in gathering his things, to provide moral support for his friend.
When at last McGonagall shooed him out, he found the corridor empty; everyone else had hurried away to get to the special Valentine's Day party Firenze had orchestrated in the Great Hall. Harry had been so preoccupied he didn't even realize that was today.
Harry, of course, would not be attending said party, given his current state, so he merely sighed and stuck his hands in his pockets. He'd only walked three steps, however, when he noticed that he wasn't quite as alone in the hallway as he'd thought. Draco Malfoy was loitering by one of the pillars, and when he saw Harry he immediately straightened and began to walk toward him.
As if this day couldn't get any worse, Harry thought, and glared at his rival, willing him to just go away. It didn't work, sadly, and the blonde returned the glare tenfold. Harry would just have to resign himself to a confrontation. Actually, he realized suddenly, this might not be as bad as usual... and if he was honest with himself he recognized that being around Malfoy actually had some weird sort of appeal.
Anyway, if he couldn't understand what Malfoy was saying, it wouldn't upset him, which would in turn drive the Slytherin crazy, and that would be amusing. Harry smirked at the thought and held Malfoy's gaze defiantly.
. .. ... ... ... .. .
Draco Malfoy was used to being in control. His housemates were at his beck and call practically twenty-four seven, his prodigious Slytherin charm could turn any teacher to his side with ease, and the members of the other Houses were too scared of him to dare question any of his actions. Yes, Draco was used to control.
So it was no surprise that he was more than a little annoyed when something happened that he couldn't control. And even more annoyed, downright angry even, when something attempted to control him. Yet that was what was happening- this force was keeping him up at night or else invading his dreams, influencing where he sat in classes and in the Great Hall, where he went during his daily wanderings, what he thought about... nearly every aspect of his life. This simply would not do, he realized. He could not have this ridiculous attraction to Harry Potter best him.
The blonde teen tried everything he could think of to win back control of his senses. Potions of varying degrees of legality (none of them worked, and he wrote several blistering letters to the brewers telling them so), amulets, hypnotism (that was the worst experience of his life... he was never listening to one of Pansy's suggestions again). Astoria Greengrass had suggested they sit and talk about what was bothering him, and he simply looked at her as if she were insane- they were Slytherins, they didn't do that touchy-feely Hufflepuff stuff.
No, he needed an appropriately cunning strategy, one that allowed him to take back his life without revealing to anyone that he'd lost control in the first place, much less why. Except planning was complicated by the fact that Potter kept appearing in his mind at the most inopportune times, and doing things that completely distracted Draco, and often prevented him from moving for nearly an hour lest he face awkward questions.
But one day, he finally stumbled upon the solution he was looking for. It was elegant, if he did say so himself. (And he did, frequently, although only to himself and sometimes to the image of Potter in his head) Blaise had inspired him, actually, by going on and on about how Italian was one of the romance languages and that it worked wonders on the ladies. He'd demonstrated on Daphne Greengrass, crossing the room to sit by her side and speak in flawless Italian. It turned out he'd simply listed the uses of dragon's blood, but it didn't matter- Daphne didn't know the language, so from his tone she'd assumed it was a romantic declaration.
Draco didn't know Italian, but he was fluent in French thanks to his mother's tutoring and his summer trips to Marseilles. Potter, on the other hand, did not know any languages other than English (and Draco often doubted Potter's grasp on that, too, based on his startling inarticulateness.) So, Draco could easily employ Blaise's strategy with Potter, only in reverse: he could declare his feelings in French but in such a tone as to sound like a dire insult. That way, he could get it off of his chest- and out of his mind- and everyone would be none the wiser.
The blonde was quite proud of his plan, and went around with a self-satisfied smirk for the next week or so while he decided when to implement it. Eventually he chose Valentine's Day, to placate his hitherto unsuspected yet surprisingly insistent romantic side. Confident in his success, and giddy at the prospect of admitting to Potter how he felt, Draco slept well that night and arrived at the Great Hall bright and early.
Potter drug his feet, as usual, and shuffled in when almost everyone else had already finished. He took his usual seat next to Granger and the Weasel and poured some of the pumpkin juice to which he was so partial but Draco couldn't stand.
And then, something odd happened. Granger said something, and Potter stared blankly at her, eyes wide. Usually he at least attempted some half-coherent response to even her most technical queries. Yes, Draco was sure of this- one of the things that infernal attraction did was make him watch Potter, quite a lot. So much so that he was able to read his facial expressions quite well, and the one he made as he dropped his fork was one of pure panic, with just the slightest bit of terror.
This made Draco pause. What could Granger have said to make Potter look like that? Perhaps something about Weaselette and Longbottom, who appeared to be getting on rather well. Draco always suspected Potter had a bit of a crush on the she-weasel. (The malicious acts towards her were one of the few urges of Draco's own crush that he didn't resent in the slightest).
Potter turned to Weasley then, but his confusion only increased, and the vivid green eyes darted wildly around the room. Harry leaned backwards- a traitorous piece of Draco desperately hoped he wouldn't fall- and then forwards, scanning the room. His expression was even more bewildered than before, eyes huge, mouth gaping. Even his hair seemed to match his mood; it was more unruly than ever, and Draco valiantly tried to attach an adjective other than cute to the sight.
Potter was looking at him now, and he glared fiercely, ignoring how his heart jumped when he saw those shining emeralds. To do anything else would be to let his feelings win. Potter, true to form, glared right back, but it was a brief, distracted gesture that ended far too quickly than was normal. Whatever was going on was really affecting the Boy-Who-Lived.
Draco tried not to care, he really did, but there was only so much he could do as Harry continued to sit there talking to his friends looking lost and alone. Granger eventually wrote something down on a parchment, and the look of pure joy and relief that transformed Harry's features after he read it was somehow more beautiful than the sun to Draco. He watched closely as Granger wrote on the parchment again and again, and Harry responded aloud. If they were trying to have a secret conversation, they were certainly doing it wrong, Draco thought.
One of the Ravenclaw boys showed up and drew the girl away. That Arithmancy competency exam was today, Draco recalled idly as his housemates who would be taking it also rose. Not that he really noticed- he was too busy looking at Harry and the way he slumped, defeated, and picked morosely at his food. Weasley attempted to cheer him up with the parchment, but it clearly wasn't successful, and eventually he gave up and turned to Longbottom, leaving Potter all alone. He cut a tragic figure with the dark locks, Draco thought. Heroic, even when moping.
Unfortunately, Draco didn't get to watch Potter for very much longer, because he had to go to Potions. It was dull, as usual, but for once he was glad the brew was one he could do in his sleep- it allowed him to keep half a mind on Potter, trying to pinpoint what was wrong with the man.
His confusion only increased after Charms, the class they had together. Some younger Gryffindors had passed Harry on their way out of the classroom- the Creevey brothers, Draco thought they were called- and attempted to strike up a conversation. Most unusually, Harry seemed decidedly unhappy about this, eyes darting to Weasley imploringly while the boys prattled on. The red-head was no help, though, and Potter said something and smiled a strained smile. The brothers left unwillingly, muttering to themselves. Harry's face fell even further and he shuffled into class unhappily.
Usually Potter was fairly competent at Charms, but today he just wasn't up to his usual standard. Weasley attempted to share notes, but Flitwick caught the motion (not that it was hard; Weasley had all the subtlety of a Bludger to the head) and took points off for cheating. Normally this would make Draco very happy, but he just couldn't muster up that emotion today, seeing Potter so miserable. And before class was out he'd had to back out of three more friendly conversations, which was unlike him. Draco spent all of lunch and History of Magic wrestling with himself, trying to decide whether today really was the best day to go through with his plan- wasn't Harry's day bad enough without Draco messing with him, too?
Of course, that thought made the blonde snap out of it and take stock, realizing it was an example of precisely why he needed to implement his plan, and the sooner the better. So he cut out of Herbology a few minutes early- it was a useless class anyway; he had gardeners to do that sort of thing for him- and stationed himself in the Transfiguration corridor, because that was Potter's last class.
He hoped he'd be able to catch Potter by himself, and was pleased when group after group of Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors paraded past with no sign of him, since it increased his chances. There, at last- Harry coming out of McGonagall's classroom, and alone too.
But Draco's resolve crumbled as he saw Harry sigh- yes, saw it, so forceful and emphatic was the gesture. The teen looked so exhausted, utterly beaten- fragile. Just as Draco was about to give it up and turn away, Potter caught sight of him and glared. Draco couldn't just let an action like that go unchallenged, so he returned the look. As usual, Potter didn't back down, either, and Draco was left with no choice but to approach him. Maybe he'd even be marginally nice, in sympathy for Harry's bad day.
All of that changed when Potter raised his eyes to lock with Draco's, and the glittering orbs were defiant and possibly a little mocking. And he was smirking, the bastard. He was smirking quite smugly, too, as if he found Draco's presence amusing. Draco narrowed his eyes; this could not stand.
"Well, Malfoy?" Potter said idly.
Draco affected his best sneer and used his heaviest drawl. "What's this, Potter? Have we finally learned manners? It would perhaps be more effective if you used complete sentences, but we all have to start somewhere, I suppose."
Potter remained impassive. Okay, perhaps that wasn't the best insult I've ever delivered, Draco conceded privately. So he continued, "How come you're not at the party, Scarhead? Sad because you don't have a Valentine?"
Potter's smirk grew. "Is that all you've got?"
How dare he! said part of Draco's mind, while the other part- the part that loved Potter- rather admired his guts. But Draco was affronted now, so he listened to the first part. "You wish, Potter. Did you know Severus was considering publishing your Potions scores to the Daily Prophet? I'm sure your fervent admirers would simply adore reading about the fifteenth destroyed cauldron."
Potter blinked cooly. "Okay, Malfoy. I've got places to be, so can we wrap this up here?"
"Places to be?" Draco snarled, wounded now because Potter wasn't even making an effort to banter with him, and because he considered a place without Draco a more desirable location. "What, going to go in a cupboard and cry because you don't have a mummy or daddy to love you?"
It was a low blow, and Draco knew it, but he didn't care, frankly. But, incredibly, although Harry's face twitched he kept the smirk up and his tone utterly nonchalant. "That gets real old, you know? Don't you ever come up with any new material? Come on, surprise me."
"You want me to surprise you?" he asked, and suddenly he realized just how attractive the smirk looked on Harry's face, and he was sorely tempted to leap forward and snog the man. That was out of the question, even if would qualify as a surprise. But so would Draco's original plan, and the strength of his desire convinced him that it was prudent to get over this attraction quickly before it grew any stronger. "How's this for a surprise then: Je t'aime. Je t'aime, Harry Potter." There. Perfect. His tone was so spiteful and mean it practically oozed venom.
"What did you say?" Potter stammered, blank shock on his face now.
Not the reaction he was expecting, but Draco ignored it and hitched up his famous smirk. "Never you mind, Potter. Certain families make an effort to teach their children foreign languages, for such occasions as-"
"No- that's- do you speak French?" he demanded.
The question was so abrupt and direct that Draco didn't even take the time to think up a witty retort. He merely nodded.
Harry's jaw dropped and his eyes lit up delightedly. "And you spoke- so that means I- say that again. Say something in French."
"Bonjour," Draco said, questioningly.
"No, something longer, complex," Harry said, and his excitement was palpable and contagious, so that Draco found himself enthusiastic as well, even though he didn't know why.
"Quelque chose de plus longe et complexe," he quipped, before he could stop himself. But he continued quickly. "Désolé, désolé… pourquoi est-ce que tu me demandes de parler français?"
"Because when you speak French, I hear it as English!"
That statement made absolutely no sense, no matter how many times Draco ran it through his mind. "What are you going on about?"
"No, see now I can't- if you don't speak French I can't understand you."
"D'accord..." said Draco slowly. "Mieux?"
"Yes, thanks. I, wow, this is so great, now we have another clue to-" Harry stopped suddenly, and turned to look Draco full in the face, expression frozen. "What did you say?"
"J'ai dit, 'Mieux.' Et avant, 'd'accord.'"
"No! Before- the first thing you said in French."
"'Bonjour?'" Draco questioned, but then what Potter was getting at finally registered, and he felt his stomach plummet to his toes. Harry apparently understood French, which meant he'd heard what Draco's words actually meant and not what his tone suggested. Suddenly Draco could barely breathe for the fear gripping him; now Potter knew, soon the whole castle would and Draco would be a laughingstock, none of his housemates would respect him anymore. And worse- Harry would despise him, be unable to look at him or be in the same room with him, never again would he be able to see those stunning eyes or perfect mouth or adorable hair.
"Draco? Are you okay?" Potter took a step towards him, and it was too much, he couldn't bear it any longer, plus he felt rather like he was going to cry and that wasn't an appropriate activity for the Transfiguration corridor, or anywhere, so he ignored him and turned on his heel to run.
He only made it two steps before something hit his ankles and he tumbled to the floor.
. .. ... ... ... .. .
Fred Weasley thought that this Valentine's Day would go down in history as the best one ever. No, not because George finally made a move on Katie and would be spending the evening with her, or because of the delightful time he expected to have with Angelina. It was the best Valentine's Day ever because the prank was completely and utterly perfect.
Harry had been asking for it, really. If he didn't want to be a part of it he shouldn't have accepted that butterbeer from him, especially after it had been opened. When one knew the twins as long as Harry had, one just didn't make rookie mistakes like that.
The product was called Babel Juice, inspired by Zonko's Animal Crackers. Only instead of making one say odd noises, it made one hear them; everything said in English would sound foreign to whomever drank the beverage. Eventually, Fred and George hoped to make several different varieties of Babel Juice, but during the development stage had focused on only two, French and Chinese. Fred still had no idea why he'd picked Chinese, but it was quite amusing to watch flawless Mandarin come out of his painfully English brother's mouth.
For Harry, they had opted for the French flavor. Not that it was actually flavored yet- that would come later; Fred was thinking wine, cheese, and bread, maybe escargot if he was feeling particularly creative. But he and George had poured a bit of Babel Juice into Harry's butterbeer last night and settled in to watch the show.
Unfortunately, mixing it with alcohol, no matter how small an amount, seemed to amplify the side effects, because Harry immediately fell asleep. This was valuable market research, though, so Fred took note. He and George vowed to follow their subject around the next day, to watch for any more adverse effects, and to watch what promised to be hilarious interactions with the unsuspecting public.
Harry didn't realize anything was wrong until breakfast, so Fred got to see his reaction. The poor boy was quite confused and a bit scared, but since Fred knew the cause of it, he found it pretty comical.
He had actually forgotten about Hermione when he'd come up with the plan- a rather severe oversight, in retrospect- but luckily she didn't turn out to be a factor; her big-time Arithmancy test was today, and it distracted her enough so she didn't ruin the fun by fixing Harry. And Ron, true to form, sat there dumbly as Hermione communicated with Harry via notes.
As expected, Harry didn't even consider going to Madame Pomfrey about it. The boy really hated attention. Which meant that he had to go the whole day hearing nothing but French; Fred had put enough juice in the butterbeer to last for twenty-four hours, on the off chance that something like this happened or he and/or George found the results too funny to reverse until after Harry figured out the cause of his symptoms and confronted them about it.
He and George played a quick game of Exploding Snap at breakfast to determine who would get to skive off class and follow Harry around, surreptitiously of course, to monitor him for reactions and to record anything particularly amusing for later teasing. George won, and Fred was disappointed; he took much more detailed notes than his brother, and they had Binns, Trelawney, and Snape all in one day. Snore-fest.
So Fred reluctantly went to class, leaving George in charge of surveilling Harry. It turned out to be lucky he went to class, since History of Magic was where Angelina proposed a date that was only marginally less fun than the one he'd been planning. And he got to amuse himself by trying out their new Floating Hearts on Snape, sending the fluttering shapes to chase the greasy bat around the dungeon making kissy sounds. The Potions Master was not amused, but the students certainly were. Fred even caught the Slytherins hiding their smirks.
At lunch, George delivered a preliminary report, since the subject had opted to skip the meal- probably to avoid the flood of French. Harry was looking pretty worn by that time, having unintentionally hurt the feelings of several of their Housemates and friends. But no particularly amusing conversations had occurred, nor had any side effects from the Babel Juice.
The twins switched off then, and George had to go deal with Trelawney while Fred followed their young brunette friend. Not that he got to do very much following, anyway. He caught up to Harry (and Ron) on the fourth floor, and they ducked into the Transfiguration classroom shortly thereafter. Normally, Fred would have busted out some of the Extendable Ears, but McGonagall was not a professor to be messed with; even he knew that.
So he simply sat outside the classroom to wait until the class emerged. He heard some slightly muffled yelling that sounded a lot like Ron and grinned cheekily; ickle Ronnie was in trouble, and now he could be teased about it.
Soon after, McGonagall dismissed the class, and Fred darted behind one of the suits of armor. Students began filing out in disordered groups, chatting away about the Valentine's Day party in the Great Hall. Fred had forgotten about that in his excitement over the prank.
Harry emerged last, and without Ron by his side. McGonagall must have been angrier than Fred initially thought and kept Ron late. The Boy-Who-Lived shoved his hands in his pockets and sighed heavily; it was perfectly audible from Fred's position, and sounded really defeated. He felt a nub of remorse growing; not many people could do that to him, but he'd always have a soft spot for Harry Potter since he was practically another brother.
Then something happened that made Fred forget any half-conceived notions of reversing the spell: Draco Malfoy, Slytherin's infamous pointy-faced git, swaggered over to Harry. And Harry was smirking widely. Fred grinned; this was going to be good.
"Well, Malfoy?" said Harry expectantly.
"What's this, Potter? Have we finally learned manners? It would perhaps be more effective if you used complete sentences, but we all have to start somewhere, I suppose." Fred bit back a snort with difficulty; that was lame even coming from Malfoy. The pale boy obviously thought so too, because he continued a little hastily, "How come you're not at the party, Scarhead? Sad because you don't have a Valentine?"
Harry, god bless him, simply smirked wider- to infuriate the Slytherin- and asked "Is that all you've got?"
The shocked look twisting Malfoy's face was hysterical, and Fred had to clamp a hand over his mouth to keep from laughing. And it just got funnier each time Harry didn't react to any of the increasingly mean-spirited barbs. His face was glowing pink by the end of the exchange, the boy was so infuriated. "How's this for a surprise then: Je t'aime. Je t'aime, Harry Potter."
Now, Fred knew a little bit of French, because Bill was going out with Fleur Delacour, who probably had some very attractive veela cousins. And since he had focused his studies on phrases related to picking up chicks, he knew exactly what Malfoy had just said. But it was completely at odds with that spiteful tone he'd used. Fred stopped laughing to ensure he wouldn't miss a minute of Harry's reaction.
"What did you say?" Harry asked, surprised. Fred shifted slightly so he could get a better view of both boys' faces. Malfoy's was in that familiar superior sneer as he spouted some long-winded explanation, but Harry's was excited.
"No- that's- do you speak French?" Malfoy nodded, and Harry looked overjoyed. "And you spoke- so that means I- say that again. Say something in French."
Malfoy looked about as confused as Fred felt as he said a hesitant, "Bonjour."
Harry shook his head. "No, something longer, more complex." Malfoy complied, and Harry's mouth twitched upwards at the first phrase, and broke into a full-fledged grin at the second.
"Because when you speak French, I hear it as English!" the Gryffindor cried. Fred's eyes widened. He never would have guessed that Babel Juice would translate the other language as well. His mind began turning top-speed, thinking of another possible contract with the Ministry for diplomats and the like, or Aurors; hey, it was good money.
Harry's voice broke through Fred's thoughts. "What did you say?" he was asking Malfoy, arrested expression on his face.
"J'ai dit, 'Mieux.' Et avant, 'd'accord.'"
"No! Before- the first thing you said in French." Now Harry's face was wild with excitement and happiness. The first thing Malfoy said had been 'I love you.' Evidently Harry's joy at hearing English after a long day of nothing but French had overridden the part of his brain that comprehended speech, and he'd just now realized what the blonde had confessed.
"'Bonjour?'" Draco said, slowly, and then abruptly all color drained from his face and his eyes widened. He's cottoned on now, thought Fred gleefully. The blonde looked terrified.
"Draco? Are you okay?" Harry asked, taking a step closer to the blonde and raising a hand, and suddenly Fred realized something too- Harry wasn't bothered by Malfoy's confession at all. On the contrary, the wild excitement and delight in his eyes and the hopeful look on his face showed that perhaps Harry was only too happy about it.
Fred had never considered this possibility. If Harry was happy when Malfoy said he loved him, did that mean Harry loved the blonde git too? And if so, what- He abruptly cut off his train of thought as Malfoy turned on his heel and began to run, to flee the scene, and leave Harry standing there utterly bewildered and hurt. That wasn't right, and Fred did the first thing that came to mind: cast a Trip Jinx to stop Malfoy's flight. Maybe not the best course of action, but it worked. The Slytherin tumbled to the floor, and Harry darted over to him.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
"Yes I'm bloody well alright! Why the hell did you go and trip me, Potter? I understand that you hate me now, but is violence really necessary?" Malfoy picked himself up, ignoring Harry's offered hand, and straightened his robes smartly.
Harry was still looking confused, but there was a note of desperation in his voice when he spoke. "I told you, I can't understand English anymore, but if you'd translate it into French I'd love to talk to you about it... please, don't go, Draco!"
"Sod off, Potter!" the blonde snarled.
But Harry maintained a firm grip on Malfoy's arm. "How can you just leave after saying a thing like that?"
"It's quite easy, actually. Watch me." He yanked his arm free and half-turned, but just as suddenly stopped. A calculating expression appeared on his face. "Potter... tu ne comprends pas l'anglais? Vraiment?" Harry shook his head. "Well then, since you refuse to let me leave until I explain myself, here it goes. I don't what it is about you, Potter, but I can't stop thinking about you. You and your stupid scar and ridiculous hair-" Fred took careful aim and whispered the spell that would return Harry to normal. There was something much more important than a prank at stake now. Harry twitched a bit as the spell took affect, but Malfoy didn't notice, continuing to prattle on. "-and that silly little smile of yours. Obviously, you don't feel the same way about me, and rather than waste time on a fruitless attraction I decided to tell-"
"It's not fruitless," said Harry suddenly.
"It's not... I only just realized it, but um... I think I feel the same way," Harry said softly, earnestly, and took a tentative step towards Malfoy.
"Don't play games with me!" Malfoy spat, but didn't back up.
"I'm not! The- the French thing was real, but now it's stopped and I have no clue why. But that doesn't matter because, Draco, I really do care about you. How often I think about you, or catch myself staring... it's a wonder I never noticed it before, really."
"No one is that daft, Potter," said Malfoy, but his voice was soft now and he leaned forward minutely.
Harry grinned sheepishly. "Apparently I am... did- did you really mean it? When you said-"
"Yes." Fred hadn't been expecting so straightforward an answer, and it seemed Harry hadn't either, because his eyes widened and he beamed.
"Wow... and I meant what I said too... so what does that mean?"
"It means Astoria is going to be very disappointed," Draco said, trying to be funny and utterly failing. Perhaps I could give him some lessons, thought Fred, and then immediately realized what he'd just considered and mentally kicked himself. Harry's happiness shouldn't be this contagious.
Draco look a deep breath and moved his hand, slowly and shyly, to grab Harry's. "It means whatever you want it to mean, Harry," he said softly.
Harry smiled wider, which Fred hadn't thought possible. "Well, I'd like it to mean that we get to know each other better, spend time together, and stop the stupid insults and lies- speak honestly with each other."
Draco smiled, too, and Fred had never seen that expression on the blonde before. "In that case, I will tell you again: je t'aime. Je t'aime énormément."
"I don't know the slightest bit of French, Draco," Harry responded softly. Then he smirked and added, "Actually, no, that's not true- I know a little something about their kissing."
Fred had to look away then; he was a tolerant guy, but he drew the line at actually having to watch Harry and Malfoy snog each other senseless. The sound of a door opening caught his attention, but Harry and Draco were oblivious to everything except each other. Fred twisted slightly to see McGonagall and Ron exit the classroom. The professor spotted the new couple first, and, unbelievably, she rolled her eyes as if to say "About time!" Fred felt his respect for Minerva McGonagall grow exponentially.
"Ahem," the Transfiguration professor said, loudly. Harry and Draco jumped apart, blushing scarlet. McGonagall fought valiantly to contain her smile as she continued. "Mr. Potter, Mr. Malfoy, aren't activities like that better suited for locations other than the middle of a corridor? The Valentine's party, perhaps?"
"Er... right... sorry, Professor," said Harry. "We'll, er, go then. Coming, Draco?" He held out a hand, and Malfoy came out of what appeared to be a blissful, post-kissing-Harry daze, grabbed it and tugged Harry around the corner.
McGonagall smiled fondly after the two for a moment and only then remembered Ron. "Oh, Weasley. You may go; I daresay you've learned your lesson." The witch patted him on the shoulder and marched off down the hall.
Ron was standing there dumbly, face pale and mouth gaping. Fred grinned roguishly and stepped out from behind the suit of armor. Ron didn't notice him until he was right beside him and said, "Alright there, Ron?"
"I... Harry... Malfoy... what..." His brother seemed unable to form complete sentences through his shock. "Malfoy... Harry... can't... not... how?"
Fred clapped Ron on the back. "You know what they say, French is the language of love!"
A/N: I'm not sure that I like Fred's POV very much. I've never written him before. But I couldn't think what exactly I'd change...
Anyway, thank you for reading, and if you could take the time to leave a review I'd be so appreciative!