The Courting of Draco Malfoy

"Draco, hurry up!" Pansy called, banging on the other side of the door.

"I'm coming, I'm coming!"

Draco took another look at himself in the mirror. There. His hair was straight and orderly, just the way he liked it. Not that it did too much to his features—who took a second glance at him nowadays? But at least it wouldn't get in the way of potion making. He really should get it cut sometime soon.

"Draco! Are you done yet? Even I don't take this long!"

"All right, calm down woman!"

Draco whipped the door open and Pansy nearly toppled into the bathroom. Glaring slightly, she brushed herself off and said, "Come on, I'm hungry and it's already eight o'clock!"

"Let's go then," said Draco, and allowed himself to be dragged along as Pansy made her way out of the dormitory and the Slytherin common room.

As usual, when they paraded the hallways, nearly every student ignored them. Well, ignored Draco mostly. He was pretty sure that a few students had paused to say hello to Pansy, but she just glanced at them and gave them a brief nod. Oh, bless Pansy, always looking out for his best interests. Either that, or she really was that hungry.

They entered the Great Hall—and collided with a few students as soon as they got in. Managing to wrench himself out of Pansy's grasp, Draco quickly smoothed out his robes and said, "Whoops, I'm sorry—"

He stopped when he looked up. There, standing in front of him, was Harry Potter.

It was the first time they had interacted all term. They had barely spoken post-War, and the only other time he had seen Potter was when he went to the trials during the summer. Of course, Draco was grateful when Potter managed to save his and his mother's skin from being sent to Azkaban, and made the Wizengamot lenient to his father and only sentence him there for a few years—for Draco's mother's sake, probably. And after that, he had returned his hawthorn wand. But that was it.

So now, with Potter standing right here in front of him, Draco had no idea what to do. Was he supposed to sneer and walk away like he always did? Or perhaps extend his hand to him—again, the back of his mind reminded himself nastily—and act like old chums? Both options were extremely unappealing, for he didn't want to seem like the bad guy; but him and Potter actually being civil toward one another… well, himself being civil towards Potter would just be strange. But since Potter was the Golden Boy, perhaps he had obligations he had to meet.

He blinked; he had probably been staring at Potter for too long. Potter was staring at him back. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see that Granger and Weasley were nudging and hushing one another, and Pansy looked torn between glaring at them and bothering Draco.

Finally, Potter gave him a curt nod. And he actually smiled.

Draco had no idea what to make of this. He stiffly nodded back.

And then he made his way to the Slytherin table as fast as he could.

"Draco!" he could hear Pansy hiss from behind him, running to catch up. "What was that?"

"I don't know," Draco muttered, finding Greg and wedging himself between him and Theodore. "I don't know," he repeated, staring at his plate.

"Wha's happened?" asked Blaise across from him as Pansy settled herself next to him.

"Draco ran into Potter! Potter! And he didn't even say anything!" she said.

"Who? Draco or Potter?" said Blaise.

"Both of them, actually." Pansy furrowed her eyebrows. "It's really strange, considering everything that's happened—"

"Pansy, would you shut up already? I'm trying to eat," snapped Theodore Nott from the side.

For once, Draco was grateful for whatever Theodore said. During the War, he hadn't exactly been the most helpful of people.

"Besides," Theodore continued. "Haven't you noticed? Potter's been trying to be more civil to us lately. Says he wants to put the past behind him."

"Well that certainly does sound like a good idea," chimed in Blaise.

"It's not just him and Draco," said Greg unexpectedly after swallowing a mouthful of egg. "Yesterday Weasley helped me get my wand back when I told him that I accidentally let it lay around in the corridors." He nodded and grabbed another sausage.

The rest of them stared at him.

Draco picked at his own food. He really didn't want to think about the reformation of the Gryffindors—well, specific Gryffindors at that, but still. He hadn't managed to run into them until this morning, which was both a blessing and a curse; blessing, because then he wouldn't have to face any encounters that he didn't want to deal with right now. Or ever. But it still felt off without them around—they had always been around for the past six years, anyways. Last year barely counted, because of the War going on and he was in the Manor every weekend, anyways. Stuck with his family, a madman and a bunch of people who supported the madman. Why he ever wanted to join them, he didn't even know anymore. All he cared about now was studying for his N.E.W.T.s and finding out where the hell his future lay.

"Draco? Are you even paying attention?"

Draco snapped his head up. "What?" he said.

Blaise and Pansy were getting up from their seats. Greg was grudgingly putting his fork down. Theodore and the rest of the eighth years were already gone.

"I said, we're going to class. Are you coming or not?" said Pansy.

Draco glanced down at his untouched plate. "Sure. Come on, Greg, we've gotta go."

He shoved Greg lightly and Greg glanced at him—whether out of contempt or confusion, Draco had no idea. He got up from the bench, patiently waited for Greg, and then the four of them walked towards Defense Against the Dark Arts.

It would be their first class of the year—for the first two weeks, apparently their to-be Defense teacher hadn't shown up. Professor McGonagall had said that their teacher was just running late, and had just given them free periods. While Draco definitely wasn't opposed to this—more time to sleep and study—he was a bit curious as to whom their teacher was.

Apparently it was no one he knew, because when he opened the doors, the rest of the students were looking on in confusion as well. Their teacher was at her desk, bustling around and going through her papers, barely paying any attention to the rest of them.

Draco glanced around, and realized with sudden trepidation that a good half of the class was wearing scarlet-and-gold ties. He felt his friends stiffen beside him as well.

"The timetable didn't say we had it with Gryffindors," he heard Blaise mutter to Pansy.

"Guess we'll have to make do, then," Pansy said back.

They found a table behind Theodore Nott. Unfortunately, the table only had three chairs, and after Blaise and Pansy had sat down as quickly as they could, there was a brief scuffle between Draco and Greg for the third seat. Predictably Greg had gotten it, and Draco just scowled at the three of them before marching off and finding another desk.

He found one just as the door open, and noticeably everyone turned their head to see who had entered. Draco hadn't bothered—but when he realized the room had gone completely quiet, he looked up as well.

Potter. Of course. Only his presence would cause the entire classroom to fall completely silent.

And the Defense teacher had noticed. What's worse, she was now scurrying away from her desk, and, beaming, ran over to Potter and actually hugged him. For a moment, Draco thought that Potter actually knew her—but the complete and utter bemusement on his face proved that evidently, he did not.

"Harry Potter! How nice of you to come!"

And their professor hadn't even said it in a contemptuous voice that Snape (Draco cringed) would have done. She pulled Potter over to a table right in right in front of her own, and said, gesturing to the bench, "Sit, sit! We haven't got all day!"

Potter glanced to his friends, who seemed as shell-shocked as he was, shrugged, and then sat down. Weasley and Granger sat down as well, albeit with a bit more hesitancy.

"Anyways," said their professor, acknowledging them all now. "Good to have you all! I am Professor Hollynap, and will be your Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher this year—and hopefully, for many years to come, now that Harry here has defeated Lord Voldemort!"

It seemed that Professor Hollynap was yet again, one of those females who was completely head-over-heels for Potter. At least Potter didn't look at all pleased at their new professor's declaration. In fact, he looked slightly mortified, as he tried to hide between his two friends who were staring at their professor with a similar expression.

The beginning of the lesson was boring, but when they learned that they would be learning to cast Patronuses—which hadn't been in the curriculum before, but because of the recent fall of the war, the Ministry and everyone else had probably decided that learning to fend off Dementors was a good idea—everyone seemed more excited than ever. Of course, Professor Hollynap had specially requested for Potter to do his own Patronus, which everyone knew he could do; still, he looked hesitant under the professor's teary-eyed gaze. Once the stag had run around the classroom and then disappeared into thin air, Professor Hollynap told them to try it out themselves.

They got up, and she swished her wand so that all the tables and desks clattered at the side. Draco went over to join his friends as Professor Hollynap bothered Potter about going around and helping students who had trouble.

"I wonder what my Patronus is," Pansy mused, glancing around the classroom to the students who were already trying their hand at the spell, yelling, "Expecto Patronum!" at the top of their lungs. While wisps of silvery stuff came out of their wands, none of them produced a corporeal Patronus yet. It seemed as though Granger and Weasley had joined Potter to helping them.

"Me too," said Blaise. "Hope it's something cool, like that stag."

"Don't tell me you want to be like Potter," Draco couldn't help sneering.

"Well, he is the Savior of the Wizarding World," chimed in Greg.

"Yes, but he's still Potter."

"Did someone say my name?"

All four of them turned around. Harry Potter was standing right behind them. Well, technically he was standing right behind Draco—but he was just there, with an idiotic grin on his face.

"Have you tried casting your Patronuses yet?" And he said it while grinning at Draco, too. Draco had no idea why Potter was smiling so much.

"Ah—er—not yet," said Blaise, who seemed as astounded as the rest of them.

"Well let's see you try," said Potter, walking even closer to them. "Malfoy, if you want to go first."

Draco nearly gaped at him. Why was Potter being so bloody nice? He would've expected a jeer or perhaps a badly worded taunt—but all Potter was doing was standing there and grinning at him. As if he was something to laugh at. But not in a mean way. Just to, you know, laugh at.

Draco shook these thoughts out of his mind and concentrated on his wand, trying to find his happiest memory. When he had been sorted into Slytherin. That was one.

"Expecto Patronum!" he said very loudly.

A wisp of silver shot out from his wand.

He turned around to Blaise and Pansy clapping wildly (apparently Weasley was helping Greg out now—where had he come from?), and even Potter looking mildly impressed. Well, just impressed; but Draco wouldn't put it past him to think that he was faking it.

"That was good, really good," said Potter, coming towards him. "Although you might want to move your wand more upward like this—" and here he grabbed Draco's wrist and made a little jerking movement "—that way it will be more powerful. But good for a first try."

And he gave a little wink before he walked off.

Draco gaped like a fish out of water, but apparently Blaise and Pansy had hardly noticed a thing. They ran up to him, completely undeterred by Potter's random appearance and disappearance.

"How did it feel?" asked Blaise.

"What were you thinking of?" Pansy asked eagerly.

Draco shook himself out of his reverie. "Great," he said, answering Pansy's question. "Let's see yours then."

x x x

Draco spent that afternoon in the common room, staring at the fire. The previous day's events had eluded him by then, and now he was just pondering how he was going to do for their small Potions exam tomorrow. It wasn't like he didn't have any confidence… but it was because his seat was in the back, giving him a perfect side view of bloody Saint Potter in the front, who had distracted him the day previous by almost completely messing up his potion the week before, making it burn so violently that his untidy hair actually frazzled. It had taken Draco five whole minutes to tear his eyes away from the distraction and return to his and Greg's own perfect concoction of Calming Draught (only to be taken in small quantities.)

He was startled for what seemed to be the fifth time that day when Pansy very rudely prodded his shoulder and said, "Come on, we're heading to dinner. Wouldn't want Greg to steal all the kippers now."

"Where is he?" Draco asked, suddenly realizing that he had failed to note on his friend's absence all day.

Pansy rolled her eyes. "With Millicent, obviously, if you had been paying any attention. I think she's helping him with the Charms homework. Miracle he got those O.W.L.s, don't you think?"

Under normal circumstances, Draco would have leapt to defend his friend's honor. Actually, under normal circumstances, Pansy wouldn't have insulted him in the first place, Draco figured. But she probably wanted to see if he was paying any attention at all, and though Draco was, he suddenly felt extremely tired and didn't feel like spending his energy on something stupid like Greg's intelligence (which, admittedly, was pretty stupid as well.)

"Let's get to dinner," he said, getting up from the high-backed chair. He followed Pansy to Blaise who was standing at the common room entrance, and the three of them made their way through the dungeons to the Great Hall.

They were walking through the Entrance Hall when suddenly Draco was very aware of a pair of eyes staring at him from somewhere. Glancing around, he managed to avoid making eye contact with as little people as possible, but from his peripheral vision could make Potter bumbling down the staircase opposite him, along with his two friends. Why Potter was staring at him, he had no idea, and he didn't know if it would be a good thing or not.

He was passing the front of the staircase along with Pansy and Blaise—when suddenly, he felt a body ram into him from the side.

"Whoops, sorry," said Potter's voice.

Draco seethed. What was Potter playing at? He knew for a fact that mere moments ago, Potter had been at the middle of the stairs, and was going down at a rather steady pace. And then suddenly he was at the bottom, running into him?

"Get off me, Potter," he said, throwing the front of Potter's robes down and brushing himself like an annoying bug had been there. He didn't meet Potter's eyes as he looked forward. "Move."

Potter's green eyes were dancing from behind his glasses. "What, not going to revel in the fact that I actually apologized to you?" he asked, seemingly amused.

Draco rolled his eyes. And why was Potter still wearing that idiotic grin. "I said, move."

"All right, all right," said Potter, standing aside and surprisingly letting him, Blaise and Pansy pass.

Draco could hear Weasley and Granger bothering Potter and asking him, "What was that about?" Draco was wondering that too. But he didn't let it worry him. After all, why would he even have a second thought about Harry Potter?

x x x

It turned out that Draco hadn't actually needed to worry about their Potions exam. The next day, he managed to fill out all twenty-two questions diligently and on time, and, as usual, finished right after Granger put her quill down, looking exasperated and pleased at the same time.

Draco wasn't looking at her, obviously. Merlin knew what Weasley would do if another bloke (especially Draco, at that) stared at Granger for too long. What he was really staring at was the tousled black hair on the head of their friend next to her. For some reason, he wanted to see those green eyes again… just to know if they were there, of course. Because if Potter was as clumsy to run into him the day before, then he should just make sure that he was okay that he had both eyeballs in place. Of course.

Draco stared at the head a little bit longer. Potter was scratching the back of his head with his quill now. Draco couldn't help notice how rough his hands were. Probably because of all the stress he'd had to endure for the past six years.

The bell rang soon enough, and Slughorn lazily flicked his wand, allowing all pieces of parchment to neatly arrange themselves on his desk. He said a few things—mostly to Potter (something about him acting incompetent to Potions, but this exam would prove everything—something that Potter had turned a deep red at and Draco had to look away (because it was utterly humiliating for him, honestly! And he didn't want to stare at Potter again, really)), before they left.

"Well, that was fairly easy, wasn't it?" chided Draco as they made their way out of the dungeons and to their next class (Transfiguration with the Ravenclaws.)

Pansy furrowed her eyebrows. "Question thirteen got me a bit. I wasn't sure if the Scintillation Solution had one clockwise turn every four counter turns, or four clockwise turns every one clockwise turn—but that hardly makes sense—"

"It's two counterclockwise turns every five clockwise turns, if you were paying any attention," said Draco, rolling his eyes. Really, he wondered why she even bothered to take the N.E.W.T. class this year when she hadn't in sixth and their mock seventh year. "And really Pans, I—"

"Is it really?"

There it was. That annoying voice again. Draco swore he had heard enough of it the day before, but when he turned around, Potter was standing there, with Granger and Weasley flanking him. Well, Weasley was flanking him while Granger looked like she wanted to get out of their as quickly as possible. Blaise and Pansy suddenly scurried away. Greg was nowhere to be found. Draco mentally called his friends Traitors, and then dealt with Potter and his two friends.

"Yes it is, really," said Draco through gritted teeth. "Now if you don't mind—"

"I knew I got that wrong," said Potter, looking up in thought. "Though I suppose with Slughorn staring at me all the time, it's sort of difficult to concentrate—"

"Yes, yes, we all know how much Professor Slughorn loves his Precious Potter." Draco sneered. "Now if you don't excuse me, I'm going to Trans—"

"Well it was more like he was trying to tell me the answers without actually saying anything." Potter laughed. "Merlin knows I'm horrible at Legilimency—and I suppose that's against the rules, isn't it? Telling your students the answers?"

He looked at Draco expectantly, as if he wanted Draco to respond. Draco said nothing. Finally, Granger managed to cough out, "Yes, Harry. It is against the rules."

"You would know," chortled Weasley from the side.

Draco narrowed his eyes at them all. What the hell was going on?

"But of course," continued Potter, as if nothing had happened at all. "You wouldn't need help, would you, Malfoy? You're just a natural at Potions, and all that."

What Potter had said certainly sounded like a compliment. But it couldn't have been a compliment. Potter never complimented him.

Draco tried to wrap his mind around this fact.

"Shame you aren't anymore," he said, obvious wariness in his voice. He wasn't sure if being either rude or polite was a good idea. What if they were trying to trap him, or something? "And I really have to go to Transfiguration now, so if you don't mind—"

"Oh, not at all!"

Potter positively beamed at him and moved out of the way. He even stood there to wait for Draco to pass.

Draco gave him one last odd look, and then headed off to class.

x x x

The strangest thing was that Potter had never spoken to Draco all term until now. Before, he would just ignore him or look at him with a strange emotion in his eyes, which Draco had never bothered to decipher. And now Potter was talking to him whenever he could—well, not to the height of stalking (though Draco wouldn't put it past him), but frequently enough that it was at least noticeable.

It wasn't noticeable to the rest of the student body of course, save for Blaise, Pansy, and Potter's two friends. Potter never went out of his way to actually see Draco. But whenever they were near each other, it seemed as though Potter felt obligated to talk to him or acknowledge him, or—or something.

Week two of their Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson with their Potter-stricken Professor was about as annoying as the first. Professor Hollynap rattled on and on about how duels were all about defense, which Potter was so good at, and that one only had an advantage as long as he had a good grasp on defensive spells, which Potter definitely had, that it wasn't until Granger raised her hand and reminded their Professor that they really should be doing something rather than hear her lecture.

Professor Hollynap had brushed deep red at this and glowered at Granger—probably because she was sitting next to Potter at that time—and then sorted them off into pairs for them to duel.

Draco was paired with Blaise, predictably; Weasley and Potter weren't too far off, practicing their own duels. He couldn't help notice that Weasley was impressively competent at offensive spells, though each of them was blocked by Potter without much effort.

Draco and Blaise turned to each other. They bowed; then, as soon as they took their places, Draco turned to Blaise and shouted, "Fernunculus!"

"Protego!" Blaise yelled back, and the spell was immediately deflected. Draco tried firing a Jelly-Legs Jinx back, but Blaise merely blocked it again and flung a Confundus charm at him.

They were quickly amongst the other pairs of students with colorful rays of hexes being tossed back and forth: once or twice, Draco could catch sight of perhaps Granger disarming Brown or Millicent throwing a rather impressive Impediment Jinx at Pansy. He focused on attacking and defending himself against Blaise, though. Neither of them had been hit, but Draco was determined not to be the first.

"LANGLOCK!" someone suddenly cried, and Draco turned his head around to see who had said it. There Potter was, looking awfully pleased with himself as Weasley opened his mouth and tried to speak. Evidently, his tongue was glued to the roof of his mouth. Draco couldn't help smirking. He'd have to find out where Potter got that one.

However, he hadn't been paying attention to his partner during this time, and it was only when he saw Potter's gaze meet his and his eyes widen that Draco suddenly had the sense to turn around. He was too late, though, as he watched the blue rays from Blaise's wand fly to the air towards him…

"Accio Draco Malfoy!"

Draco was suddenly swept off his feet to the other side of the classroom where Potter was. The blue ray swiftly missed his right ear and destroyed the back of a nearby chair. Draco watched as he skidded across the classroom, coming closer and closer to Potter, and the way Potter's green eyes widened even more and Draco waited for the inevitable to happen—

"Oof!" said Potter, falling to the floor with a thud, Draco on top of him. Draco quickly got up and dusted himself off (and felt the situation being awfully familiar, though with reversed roles), before staring down at Potter in a mixture of annoyance and disbelief.

He opened his mouth, about to say something; but was cut off when Professor Hollynap appeared out of nowhere and extended her hand out to Potter to help him up. Either Potter didn't notice it or ignored it, but Draco didn't care.

"What's going on here?" asked Hollynap, though she seemed more concerned than strict. "Are you all right, Harry? Broken bones or anything?"

Draco suppressed a snort. Potter glanced at him, and then looked back to Hollynap.

"No, Professor, I'm fine," he said with ease, brushing himself off as well. "Just—Just a little clumsy, that's all."

Draco silently agreed, but said nothing as Hollynap declared, "Well, clumsiness should be no match for you Mr. Potter, am I right? Continue, continue on!" she said to the students who seemed to have been interested at the collision of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. "Nothing to see here!"

Professor Hollynap went on her way back to her post at her desk, where she had been watching Potter all along. She didn't acknowledge Draco once.

Potter looked at her for a moment, and then turned to Draco. "Are you all right?" he asked with utmost sincerity.

Draco ignored him. "What was that for?" he spat, trying to seem as menacing as possible (though right now he was mostly just bewildered.) "Did you want to make me look like an idiot in front of the entire class?"

"No! Of course not!"

And, if possible, Potter's eyes got even bigger.

Thank Merlin Weasley had run toward them, though, to say something that at least made sense. (Apparently Potter had taken the jinx off of him.) "You don't need someone to make you look like an idiot when you could do it yourself," he said, glowering at Draco.

Potter shot Weasley a look. "Ron…"

"Fine, fine." Weasley rolled his eyes and shot Draco one last glare. "I'm just saying, Harry…"

Potter continued to look at Weasley like that, until Weasley finally looked uncomfortable enough to stalk off. Then he turned to Draco again.

But Draco was indignant.

"I don't need a Savior, if that's what you were going for," he snarled to Potter. "I could have defended Blaise's spell myself."

He knew he couldn't have, though, and Potter did as well. "You didn't have enough time," said Potter. "I had to—well, I had to save you." And at this, his cheeks flushed red and he quickly glanced down.

"Let someone else do it, then," said Draco, shoving past him and stomping off. "And at least use a better spell than Accio."

He went back to his spot and resumed dueling Blaise. He denied it to himself when he would every so often glance at Potter again, to see if his face was still a fair shade of scarlet.

x x x

Technically eighth years weren't supposed to be doing Quidditch this year, because of the unfair numbers. Draco also had a strong suspicion that it had something to do with Potter, and that any Quidditch team with Potter on it would obviously win. Namely, the Gryffindor team. Draco thought no matter of it because there was no way he was going to let Gryffindor win against Slytherin—but even he had to grudgingly admit to himself sometimes that Potter was a superb Seeker.

Not better than him, of course. But close.

So well after lunch that Sunday, Draco decided to take a break. The sky was blue and clear today, excellent for Quidditch. And he really wanted some fresh air; being stuck inside a stuffy castle for four weeks was hectic, not to mention the constant piling of schoolwork had his brain leaking out of his ears. Draco quickly tossed on his Quidditch robes, grabbed his bag, and after telling Greg to make sure no one touched his stuff, he made his way through the castle and to the Quidditch pitch.

It was only a few seconds to get a school broom from the broom shed; soon enough, he was soaring through the air, books and homework behind him. It felt good to feel the wind ripple through his hair despite the lesser quality of the Cleansweep he was riding on; and he flew through the light breeze, doing mock dodges and feints and other things of the sort. He practiced his ability to get from one end of the empty pitch to the other, flew circles around the stands, and even pick up a stray rock from below and fling it up in the air, and try to catch it as quickly as possible. It was only when he was making his way down to get another rock (the first had been lost) when he noticed a mess of black hair sitting in one of the stands.

Unsurprisingly, the person was in the Gryffindor seats. Draco, at first, thought it was someone to jeer at him (which would do for a load of change, because no one had at all this year—probably because of McGonagall's speech of 'House Unity' and 'putting the past behind us' which everyone had actually listened to), until he realized that the person was Potter.

Of course.

"Potter," he said, approaching him on his broom and slowing down. "What are you doing here?"

It was a stupid question to ask, because Potter answered, "I was watching you." Still, it was a little bit nerving when Potter actually admitted to be watching him.

"What for?" Draco said cautiously. Now that Potter was being… well, not mean to him, he would do his best to keep it that way. Not that he liked it of course, but it wasn't a terrible thing that the Chosen One and the Savior of the Wizarding World and the Boy Who Lived (and all that) was not trying to antagonize him. He'd imagine that if Potter had done so, so would the rest of the world.

Potter shrugged. "Just wanted to see you play, I guess."

Draco suddenly noticed that they were alone. Very alone. "Where are Granger and Weas…ley?" he asked, managing to suppress the urge to call Weasley Weasel.

Potter laughed. Laughed.

"Nice to know that you can actually call him by his name," he said, still chuckling from the corners of his mouth. "They're—off in the common room, really. I've been hanging out with them all school year, and I imagine that they'd want some time alone."

He rolled his eyes. Draco couldn't help but do the same.

"Disgusting," said Draco, feeling repulsed at the very idea of Granger and Weasley snogging. Or doing something worse, though he doubted that Granger's neat and tidy knickers would only be touched, barely moved.

"Well I mean, I guess Hermione wouldn't be that bad of a kisser," said Potter, apparently misconceiving his words. "Unless you were referring to Ron… well I can't really say anything for either of them."

"What? No, I was just disgusted by the notion of the both of then doing something together," said Draco. "Though now to think of it, I can't determine who'd be worse… Granger or Weasley…"

Potter laughed again (it was weird and Draco had to adjust himself to get used to the sound. Potter rarely laughed at anything he said.) "Yeah," he agreed, his cheeks reddening slightly. "Well, I really need to be going now—I have Transfiguration next, and you know what Professor McGonagall is like. I'll see you around Malfoy?"

"Yeah," said Draco absently, and watched from his broom as Potter walked down from the stands, toward the stairs and then out of sight.

He was distinctly aware that he had had his first normal conversation with Harry Potter in several years.

x x x

Draco walked aimlessly around the castle. Yet again, it seemed as though all his friends were too busy to bother with his company. Not that he minded so much—he worked best alone, anyways—but he always felt that there was an empty space next to him, wished to be filled. In the past, it had been filled with the presence of Vincent and Greg—but after Vincent had perished (Draco grieved for a moment); Greg had become notably sulkier and seemed happier whenever Millicent Bulstrode was around. Draco approved because Millicent wasn't that horrible of a Slytherin. And she'd be good for Greg. Plus, they sort of looked alike.

Draco shuddered and continued on.

Pansy had been with him since the beginning, but they weren't extremely close. Pansy would tell him things that he didn't really care for, and he hardly told her anything in return. So over the years, she had grown a bit closer to Blaise, though fawned on Draco whenever she could. Draco felt like Blaise had always taken a fancy to Pansy, though—either that or they were much better friends for each other than he had ever been to either of them.

It wasn't a horrible thought, and at least they were all friends with each other. Theodore, Daphne, and Tracey too. Well, as far as the term "friend" went for Slytherins. But they were reliable, and not stupid, and so that was good enough for Draco.

A loud whisper interrupted his thoughts.

"… is stupid… "

"Where is… going…?"

"We're going to be late for Charms, Harry!"

Draco stopped. That was undoubtedly Granger's voice. And if he was not much mistaken, Potter and Weasley were with her, too.

He turned the corner—just to see Potter, Weasley and Granger running down the corridor toward him. They stopped just in time, seeming just as surprised to see him there.

Weasley coughed. Potter recovered first.

"Fancy running into you here!" he said. His cheeks turned that annoying shade of dark red that Draco couldn't tear his eyes away from.

"Isn't the Charms classroom down that way?" he asked, pointing behind him.

"Ah—well, yes," said Potter, rubbing the back of his head. "But I know a shortcut here. Would you like to see?" He grinned.

Draco blinked. "No," he said shortly.

If anything, it looked like Potter's face had fallen. Why would Potter care about showing off to Draco? He had never done anything of the sort before.

"But it's actually rather clever," said Potter. He pointed to a statue of Perpetua Fancourt. "You grab onto her Lunascope and she turns into a door, and—"

"Harry!" Granger hissed suddenly, grabbing his arm. "The bell already rang, we're going to be late for class!"

Potter gave Granger an all-suffering look, as if to say, Can't you see I'm busy? Draco wondered what Potter would be busy with. He was only talking to him.

"Really, mate," Weasley said from the side, looking uncomfortable under Draco's watchful gaze. "Flitwick may be small, but he casts a mean Stinging Hex."

"All right, all right," said Potter grudgingly, and, after sending one last smile to Draco, walked off with his friends.

Draco stood there and watched them as they walked over to Perpetua Fancourt standing at the end of the corridor, turned her Lunascope, and waited as the stone formed into a small door against the wall. Once they had closed the door behind them, the stone quickly turned back into the statue.

Draco did the same, and then slipped into the passageway behind them, careful not to bump into the walls or step too loudly to be heard. He could hear Potter and his friends' faint voices from above, on the staircase.

"… Really, Harry, was that even necessary?"

"… just wanted to… it wasn't like he would…"

"… bit of an idiot, you are, mate."

"If you just wanted…! … map!"

"That's… idea, Hermione! Why didn't I think of it earlier?"

"… being rather loud… Flitwick…"

Draco had no idea what to make of these words. A door slammed close above him, and then all was silent.

x x x

But after this encounter, it seemed as though Draco was seeing more of Potter than ever. Whether he was conveniently outside of a classroom to startle him, making Draco drop whatever he was holding and have Potter help him pick it up; or in the corridors, sending lighthearted taunts that were meant to be amusing even to him (Draco only managed to crack a smile once; but Potter had beamed and Draco couldn't help being astounded by the view); or even in the Potions classroom, when even as they were getting their ingredients, Potter would bump into him, turn a dark shade of red, hastily scramble between holding his ingredients up and shoving his glasses more upright on his nose, and say, "Excuse me."

It was all very mind-boggling, very strange, and most of all, very suspicious.

Most of all today, when Potter and his friends had randomly sidled up to him in the corridor when he, Blaise and Pansy had been heading out to the courtyard to study, and Weasley started a discussion with Blaise about the next World Cup, and Granger actually had the nerve to talk to Pansy about Ancient Runes. This left Draco and Potter to have their own conversation.

If only Draco knew what to say.

Draco actually didn't want to know anything to say. But in the back of his mind, a part of him actually wanted to talk to Potter. (The same part which liked to look at Potter's ever increasingly reddening cheeks, he noted.) To actually say something. Even if it was completely horrible.

Luckily, Potter spoke first. Draco bit his tongue from uttering an insult.

"Nice weather we're having, isn't it?" he said, and then turned even redder.

Draco stared at him. Was Potter actually trying to talk to him about the weather?

"Well I don't know," he said without suppressing a sneer. "Considering we're in the castle and there are no windows around."

"Oh, right," said Potter, looking a bit taken aback. "I just thought—well, I mean, the Gryffindor rooms all have windows so I had a glance this morning—but I suppose being under the lake, you'd hardly see a thing—"

"How did you know that the Slytherin rooms are under the lake?" Draco asked curiously.

Potter glanced away, not meeting his eyes. "I—erm—Hermione told me. It's in Hogwarts, A History."

"Oh. Right." Of course. Draco had read Hogwarts, A History before. There was a whole section on the common rooms.

"What do you do to get your hair look like that?" Potter tried again, glancing surreptitiously at Draco's fringe. "I mean, my hair's all—well, you know." He gestured to the back. "And er, yours is always so neat…"

"I don't even think the strongest of magic could hold your unruly hair back, Potter," said Draco. "But if you must know, I use Sleekeazy's Hair Potion. My hair tends to be rather frizzy in the mornings, but a spray usually does the trick—"

He snapped his mouth shut. Why was he talking to Harry Potter about his hair?

But Potter didn't seem too bothered. In fact, he looked quite pleased that Draco hadn't refused to tell him a thing. To make up for the lack of insults, Draco added uncomfortably, "But it would scream as soon as it saw you."

"Well I wouldn't know." Potter suddenly brandished a remarkable amount of confidence. "I am Harry Potter. It would probably quiver in fright."

"Yes, quiver in fright at the sight of your horrid face," said Draco.

"Not that it would be any worse at yours."

"The potion happens to like me very much. In fact, it does just as I please whenever I put it in my hair—"

"Probably because it's afraid you'd hex it if it dared to do anything less than you please."

Draco turned to Potter. Potter was grinning, teasing—but definitely not tantalizing.

What was going on?

Soon Potter and his friends left, and Draco, Blaise and Pansy stared after them, wondering what the hell just happened.

x x x

"We figured it out."

Draco looked up from his Transfiguration book. Pansy had plopped herself in one of the high-backed chairs, and was staring at him determinedly.

Next to her, Blaise fidgeted in his own seat.

"Potter is determined to make us all go mad," said Pansy. "And he's starting with you first. Since you know, you hate each other and all."

"I don't hate him," said Draco. This was true, because if he hated him, everyone in the Wizarding World would have his arse. And he didn't want that. "I just… never liked him. That's all."

"And now he's being torturously nice so you'll start questioning reality, go mad, and then end up in St. Mungo's with one of those Mind Healers," said Pansy. "Blaise and I agreed on this. Right, Blaise?"

"Right." Blaise looked like he would rather be anywhere but there.

"And he's appearing everywhere to make you lose your sanity even more," added Pansy. "And sooner, too. He really wants to boot us Slytherins out."

"I doubt it."

Theodore's voice had come out of nowhere. The three of them turned to see him striding down from the new eighth years boys' dormitory, looking as though he had just come from a nap.

"Yesterday in the hallways," Theodore continued, as if he hadn't very rudely interrupted their conversation, "Malcolm had been taunted by a group of fourth-year Gryffindors, and it was only when Potter and his friends appeared when they stopped. Potter said that 'the past is the past' and that we should all try to be friends with one another."

Pansy rolled her eyes. "Bollocks," she said.

"Pansy," Draco said patiently. "I think it's more likely that Potter is trying to be nice to us than to try to drive us mad."

"Whatever." Pansy waved her hand. "I still say that the Gryffindors are a right load of idiots. And that Potter is planning something against us."

"Pansy, Potter may be a prat," said Blaise from the side. "But I really think that's what he wants. To be friends."

"With us?" Pansy said incredulously.

"Or," said Blaise, realizing the unlikelihood of his idea, "at least not be enemies."

"Hey Theodore," said Draco suddenly. "Is Potter being uncannily kind to you, lately?"

"Not really." Theodore shrugged. "Just ignores me. Not that I care, though."

"You wouldn't," Pansy scoffed.

But Theodore's answer had gotten Draco's mind working. So Potter wasn't trying to be friends with anyone else. And yet, he seemed to be talking to him loads more.

This definitely did not make sense.

x x x

A week later was the Halloween Feast. Headmistress McGonagall had decided to do something different this year and aligned the tables horizontally, and ordered them to sit with other houses or discipline would be carried out.

Draco had only slipped into a seat in front of the staff table when he felt a presence beside him.

"Happy Halloween!" Potter said brightly.

Pansy, across from him, stared. Blaise, who was on Draco's other side, turned his head so quickly to the side that it snapped audibly. Potter's two friends looked uncomfortable being anywhere near them.

"What are you doing here?" said Draco, not missing a beat.

"Sitting here, of course," said Potter, grabbing a piece of chicken breast and shoveling it into his plate. He started cutting it up. "I hope they serve treacle tart at this table. I don't know if it's the Gryffindor one or not." He chuckled.

"Imagine sitting at the Gryffindor table," Pansy said with a sneer.

Draco shot her a look, but Potter only laughed. "Yes, well," he said. "I'd imagine that a lot of our foods are alike. But the Ravenclaw table has foie gras. Did you know?"

Draco loved foie gras, but he didn't say anything about it. Instead, he repeated, "What are you doing here?"

"Well what does it look like I'm doing?" said Potter.

Granger and Weasley still hadn't said anything.

"Granger, what are you three doing here?" Draco barked.

Potter opened his mouth, probably to answer for her; but Granger just said, "Well, it's like Harry said. We're sitting here."

She fidgeted when Pansy looked at her, but said nothing and kept her chin up.

Draco sighed. "Well if you're sitting here," he said. "Then I guess we should to go sit somewhere else, shouldn't we?"

He turned to get up and leave, but Potter suddenly grabbed his arm—grabbed his arm!—tugged him down, and said, "No, stay. If we're bothering you, we can leave."

"You're bothering me then," Draco said sharply.

Potter gave him a withering look, like Draco was a baby. "Are we? We've done nothing but sit here and talk to you."

"The words that are coming out of your mouth are bothering me."

"That was rude," Weasley said bluntly from the side. He faltered under Draco's piercing gaze.

"I don't really care—"

A prod to the navel made him turn around swiftly to Blaise who was watching on from the side. "What?" he said to Blaise, rather loudly.

"Well they really aren't being that much of a nuisance," Blaise said quietly. "And… well, if we sit with Potter… that'd do more for our image, wouldn't it?"


"Yeah," said Pansy, leaning across the table so Potter and his friends couldn't hear (not that she needed to worry, since Potter and Granger had started berating Weasley on his eating habits.) "They might actually start talking to us. Instead of, you know, ignoring us in the halls and all that."

Draco glared at his friends. The one time he wanted them to be supportive of him, they obviously disagreed with him.

"Fine," he grumbled. "But you can talk to them. I want to eat."

Blaise and Pansy shared a look, and then turned to the now welcomed Gryffindors, with Draco stuck in the middle. Draco picked at a pile of mashed potatoes. He wondered if there was a spell to turn oneself into a pile of mashed potatoes.

Potter, Weasley and Granger conversed around him, apparently noticing his deliberation to stay out of the discussion as much as possible. Once or twice he noticed them glancing at him occasionally; but other than that, they barely acknowledged his existence. Which was exactly what Draco wanted. He wasn't the one who actually wanted them to sit here. They had sat here entirely on their own—well, mostly Potter's account. That didn't mean he was going to talk to them. And Gryffindors were supposed to be nice and noble and all that, right?

He suddenly heard his name. Glancing up, he saw Potter gazing at him expectantly with those large green eyes of his, even more magnified behind his glasses.

"What?" snapped Draco.

"I was just observing the way you eat your food."

Potter looked amused. Draco was not.

"Well if you're done laughing at my table manners—which are better than yours, by the way—then allow me to return to my meal in peace."

"Oh! I wasn't laughing at you!" Potter seemed completely mollified at the idea. "It just seems you're so dignified with everything, and you're completely clean." He surreptitiously glanced at the napkin on Draco's lap.

"Well yes. Yes I am." Draco had no idea what to make of these words, so he just turned back to his food.

"I wish I could eat like you," said Potter, continuing to grin in that Potter-ish way of his. "Then I wouldn't need a napkin every five minutes. Though, I supposed I'm much better than Ron…"

"Hey!" Weasley said from the side.

Even Blaise and Pansy laughed.

Draco couldn't take it anymore.

"Potter, what exactly is it that you want?" he asked, throwing his spoon down and glaring at Potter with all his might.

It was a bit hard, with Potter looking like a kicked puppy and all. Even worse when Potter cocked his head in confusion. "What do you mean?"

"I said, what do you want?" Draco did his best to keep his voice as calm and not shrill as possible, though it was becoming difficult with the completely innocent way Potter was staring at him.

"I don't want anything," Potter said, looking even more horrified. "I was just talking, that's all…"

"'That's all?' That's what you've been doing to me for the past month and a half!" He was losing the control in his voice now. "And before that, you would hardly even look at me… and before that…" He trailed off. He didn't want to talk about the War. "You didn't give a rat's arse about me!"

"That's not true," Potter said defensively.

Draco raised an eyebrow. "Is it now?"

Potter opened his mouth to retort, but then Granger suddenly hissed from the side, "Shut up; you're attracting attention!"

Draco turned to mouth her off too, but then Potter just looked around, grabbed Draco's arm, and said, "We should go somewhere else to talk."

"'We'? What do you mean, we?" said Draco, fighting his grip.

Potter let go of him and looked at him exasperatedly. "Well if you want to know 'what I want'…"

So there was definitely something Potter wanted! And Draco could find out what it was. But… at the same time, he didn't want to actually do what Harry bloody Potter to what he told him to do… What was he supposed to do? Refuse, or succumb to his own curiosities?

After his brief internal struggle, where Potter watched him as the rest of them continued on like nothing was happening, Draco finally got up. "Fine," he said. But as he followed Potter, he added, "But don't take too long. I want to get back to my food."

"All right, all right."

And why was Potter smiling all the time? Draco was nothing to be amused at! If anything Potter should be cagy. Cagy and suspicious. He was Draco Malfoy. Who knew what tricks he had up his sleeve? (Not that he had any.)

Once they were out in the Entrance Hall, Draco turned to Potter and fixed his gaze on him. "Well? What do you want?"

Potter took a deep breath.

"I just… I mean." He looked down and shuffled his feet. "I don't exactly want anything from you, but sometimes I tend to…"

"Tend to what?"

Potter glanced at him.

"I tend to just… do things without thinking."

And then suddenly he walked towards Draco, grabbed his shoulders, and planted his lips on his own.

It wasn't done very well. Actually, Draco had more of Potter's upper lip in his mouth, and could feel a few hairs on his skin prick his own. But the heat between them was intense. Whether it was a result of Potter's finger brushing the back of his neck by accident, or by the kiss, Draco didn't know—and suddenly he found himself being sucked into Potter's whims without a thought in mind.

Kissing was nice. Well, the sort of kissing Draco had done in the past was entirely nonexistent, but it seemed like Potter knew what he was doing. His mouth was moving gently on Draco's, and while Draco was responding, he definitely knew he wasn't pulling away. He was vaguely aware that Potter seemed to be mere centimeters shorter than him—but was still shorter than him. After a moment, Draco's mind had the sense to at least have some sort of reaction or else this wonderful whooping feeling in his stomach would go away, so he pressed back hesitantly.

Potter seemed to take the kissing back as compliance, and his tongue flicked along Draco's lips. Draco figured that this must mean that Potter wanted access into his mouth. Unable to hold back a grin, he kept his lips firmly closed, though his hands did somehow manage to find their way to Potter's hips and adjust them a bit. Suddenly, standing in the middle of the Entrance hallway seemed very undignified. He backed them up and pushed Potter into a nearby wall, and after taking a short breather—he saw that Potter's eyes were closed, and his lips were open in want—pressed his mouth back to him.

It was only when Potter's tongue managed to find its way past Draco's teeth when Draco suddenly realized what he was doing.

He pulled back and threw Potter against the wall, completely and utterly stunned. What was Potter doing? What was he doing? He was snogging Harry Potter—and Potter's dark hair was more frazzled than ever, his cheeks a deep shade of molten scarlet. Draco realized that he probably looked the same.

"That was… wow," Potter breathed, staring at Draco glass-eyed.

"Why did you kiss me?" Draco blurted. He definitely knew he liked it. Hell, Potter probably even knew he liked it. (He would be rather thick if he thought anything else.) But now he was confused. Was this a trick, a trap? Were Granger and Weasley going to pop out of nowhere and bind him in ropes?

But Potter only looked stupidly pleased, and nothing else. "Why did you kiss me?" he teased.

"I… It's… you… That's not fair! You kissed me first!" Draco spluttered.

"And you kissed me second." Potter continued grinning at him.

"You have Weaslette!"

Potter scowled at the nickname, but said nothing about it. "And you have Parkinson," he said just as calmly, albeit a bit coolly.

"She's nothing; I always thought Blaise had a thing for her." Draco waved his hand. "And what… I'm not gay! Neither are you!"

"Well I like to think I am, if I just snogged you," said Potter, crossing his arms. "It's not like I go around kissing random good-looking blokes on a daily basis, you know."

Draco was floored even more by these words.

"You… You think I'm good-looking?"

"One would be blind if they didn't think so," Potter stated. "And even then, they could probably deduce it from the sound of your voice."

Potter blushed even more at his own words, but his confident stance didn't waver. Draco continued to look at him incredulously. He had been kissed and thoroughly complimented by his school rival.

It was a very weird evening.

"And besides," said Potter. "I really would have liked doing that ages ago, except wherever I saw you, you were always with your friends and even the more reckless side of me knew not to humiliate you in public." He chuckled. "As much of a habit as it was. But I'm really trying, you know."

"Trying to what? To be friends with me?" said Draco.

"To trying to court you."

If Potter could get any redder than this, Potter would probably explode. Though he did look quite nice like this (Draco told part of his brain to shut up.) He tried to make sense of Potter's words to find a hidden meaning, but got none.

"You're… You're trying to court me?"

"Yes," Potter said patiently. "And it's not exactly easy to flirt with you when either half the time you're surrounded by your friends, or I'm surrounded by my friends, or there are just people around and I really didn't want to embarrass you—"

"You didn't want to embarrass me?"

Draco should probably pit that against Potter sometime in the future. Well, if he and Potter had a future, really.

(A future together?)


"No, Draco," and Draco was even more astounded at the use of his given name, "I didn't."

They stared at each other for a while.

"I…" Draco struggled to find words. "Well. Er." He coughed. "I suppose it worked."

"Did it really?" Potter beamed. "I wasn't quite sure if you kissed me entirely because you wanted to, or because I somehow enticed you—but seeing as I made you like me all on my own, then I—"

"You didn't," Draco said loudly, expecting Potter to look disappointed; but instead, Potter looked happier than ever. "I mean. Er." He sighed loudly. "Can't we just snog again, already?"

He really wanted to, too. His lips were already feeling dry and cold without Potter's against them.

Potter glanced to the Great Hall doors. "But I don't know if our friends… I mean, my friends certainly know that I fancy you," and here he pointedly ignored Draco's narrowed eyes at these words, "but I don't know about yours…"

"They'll be fine, they can manage without me," Draco said impatiently, waving his hand again. He grabbed Potter's arms and pulled him against him, so that he could feel almost every inch of Potter's body beneath his robes.

Potter beamed at him again. "I still say my advances worked," he said. "Who would have known that Draco Malfoy wanted to kiss me so much that he actually used physical approaches?"

"Oh, shut up," Draco said, rolling his eyes. He leaned down and kissed him again.

Potter kissed him back with equal enthusiasm.

This originally was not supposed to be long. Alas, it is long. Perhaps you can reward me with a review :D?