Malfoy didn't say anything when they arrived at the house, just watched wordlessly as Harry unlocked the heavily ornate door and then stood aside to let Malfoy in first. Kreacher who was waiting for them in the hallway pulled up short at Harry's unexpected companion.
"Master Malfoy," he croaked, eyes wider than usual, "It is a pleasure to see you again."
Malfoy blinked in surprise — maybe at the fact that a house elf had spoken him without first being addressed — but what he said instead was, "Uh I don't think we've ever met. I haven't even seen you before," just as Kreacher continued with, "Such an old and noble house, the Malfoy family. Such pure blood." Malfoy shot Harry a look that somehow managed to be smug and bewildered at the same time, before deigning to give Kreacher a nod in acknowledgement.
Harry supposed that this was as polite as a Malfoy would ever be to a house elf and as much as he could hope for. At least he hadn't demanded Kreacher be punished for breaking the 'no speaking without first being spoken to rule'.
Then he remembered why Kreacher had seen him before without Malfoy seeing Kreacher (and it wasn't just because house elves were beneath Malfoy's notice) and hurriedly (and decidedly unsubtly) clapped a hand over Kreacher's mouth before he could continue.
"Kreacher could you get him something hot to drink please?" he said quickly, looked inquiringly at Malfoy.
"Tea," came the short reply.
"And one for me too, Kreacher, thanks."
Malfoy looked curiously over at Harry. "Still the beacon of kindness and equality, are you Potter?" he asked, a sardonic twist to his mouth. Then he seemed to remember something, "Oh good god, Granger isn't here, is she?" His expression became almost comically fearful.
Harry laughed. "No, it's just me and Kreacher here."
He recalled with nostalgia a time when everything had been simpler, when he thought he'd already had his fill of heartache and loss, before he had known who Sirius was and had a taste of what having a father must have been like, and when Hermione had punched Malfoy on the way to Hagrid's house in defense of a friend. It'd been a quite awhile since he'd thought of those times.
Once the floodgates opened, though, and a small trickle let out, there was no stopping the rest of the tide from following. So many bittersweet memories of loved ones long dead and ones just buried, memories that had been carefully locked away, threatened to overwhelm Harry. He hadn't had a chance to mourn them properly yet, had been too afraid to open the gates himself. Now they had been opened for him, and he knew that the time had come to properly honor the dead and release them to their peace.
But not here, and not in front of his present company, who he wasn't sure he could trust yet.
Funny how it was this same man who had caused the gates to open though, albeit unknowingly, when all the others who actually cared about Harry hadn't been able to.
And with that thought, the tide ebbed and flowed, and he was able to slam the doors shut once more.
"-and I hate to admit it, but I need your help. You have to promise to keep her away from me. Her and the Weasel both. Potter. Potter, are you even listening to me?" The wide, apprehensive gaze narrowed to annoyance. Apparently Malfoy had just continued blathering on, oblivious to Harry's sudden moment of grief. Harry felt a sudden rush of gratitude that Malfoy was here instead of say, Ginny. Not for his company, but because he was glad of someone who didn't know him well enough to (and didn't care to) recognize his pain. He didn't want any comfort right now, at least none that those living were able to provide.
He started when Malfoy snapped his fingers in front of his face. "Argh! What was that for, Malfoy!"
"What's wrong with you?" Malfoy snapped. "You look even more clueless than usual, Potter. I didn't think your brains could get any more scrambled, but I suppose even I have to be wrong sometimes."
Harry glared at him and was about to retort when Kreacher came back with the tea. Malfoy took one without hesitation and Harry noticed how his hands shook a little when he wrapped them around the cup. Feeling suddenly uncomfortable, he hurriedly asked Malfoy if he wanted something to eat. He shook his head and they sat down in the sitting room and sipped at their tea in silence. It wasn't exactly companionable, but it wasn't awkward either.
When both their cups were empty and they had been sitting there without speaking for so long that it was threatening to turn awkward, Harry glanced at the clock. It was close to 3:30 am. He looked at Malfoy. The other man was trying very hard not to let his eyes fall shut, but his exhaustion was obvious. He looked up when Harry said his name softly, his reply ("What do you want, Potter?") lacking its usual edge.
"I thought I'd show you to your room now," Harry said. "It's kind of late."
"Yes I can see that," Malfoy replied sarcastically with a glance at the clock.
Harry flushed with annoyance. "Fine then, sleep here on that armchair for all I care." See how your neck feels in the morning, he thought viciously.
Malfoy looked at him for a long moment before gracefully unfolding himself from where he had been leaning comfortably back into the chair, the cat held in his arms now instead of his lap. He lifted an elegant eyebrow at Harry's surprised expression. He certainly hadn't expected him to cave so easily.
"Lead on then, Potter," he said.
Malfoy followed him up the stairs, looking curiously at the gloomy, dark decor, his eyes lingering sometimes on a particularly gruesome Black heirloom that Harry hadn't gotten around to stuffing into an unused room somewhere yet, but making no comment. He was probably too tired to needle Harry anyway.
"You can have this one," Harry said, picking a room at random and opening the door.
"I'm in that one over there," he said, pointing at a door down the hall, "And you can always call Kreacher if you need anything."
The cat had jumped out of Malfoy's arms during this little speech and leapt onto the bed. Now it meowed approvingly at Harry and curled up on the covers.
"What's his name?" Harry asked curiously, nodding at the cat. "I hadn't taken you as an animal person," he admitted.
"I'm not, generally," Malfoy said, sitting on the bed and petting the cat. "And it doesn't have a name."
"Well you should give him one if you're going to keep him."
"I don't even know if it wants to stay with me; why would I bother giving it a name?"
"Well he obviously likes you, though I can't imagine why."
Malfoy looked up sharply at that, but relaxed when Harry just grinned at him.
"Why don't you name it something gray? You know, 'cause his fur is gray. Like...Pebble, or something," Harry suggested.
"Pebble," Malfoy repeated doubtfully.
"Dusty?" Harry offered. "Smog? Shadow? Iron? Industrial waste?"
"What's that?" Malfoy, who'd been looking tolerantly amused, asked.
"Never mind," Harry said, not wanting to bother to explain. He didn't really think Malfoy would be interested in the workings of factories and their environmentally harmful emissions anyway.
"The first one you said — Pebble, was it? — sounds fine to me," Malfoy said dismissively. "Though I still don't see why you insist on it needing a name."
Harry just shrugged. "It'll stop you from calling him an it at least."
"Why does that matter?" Malfoy grumbled (sounding quite a bit like a petulant child). "And how do you even know it's a he?"
"Um," Harry said.
"Did you check?"
"What? No!" Harry exclaimed. "Besides, how could I, when you've been clutching him to your person all night?"
"I have not," Malfoy said, offended, "been 'clutching him to my person all night.'"
"Whatever you say, Malfoy."
The conversation pittered off then into silence.
"Well good night then," Harry said, slightly awkwardly. "Good night Pebble," he called to the sleeping cat.
"Good night, Potter," Malfoy replied (and was that a small smile on his lips?) — and then promptly shut the door in Harry's face.
Harry stood outside the suddenly closed door for a moment, before shaking his head and laughing softly as he walked to his own room. Whoever would have thought that one day he would have Draco Malfoy in his house as a guest, and that they'd actually be able to have a (mostly) civil conversation with each other?