The Consequences of Our Choices.
SUMMARY: What if Harry had never said 'no' to the sorting hat? How would his life be different? How would the world? Harry finds himself straddling two very different worlds.
An: Thank you for the reviews. Sorry for the complete unpredictability.
WARNINGS: Extreme spoilers.
"Man does not simply exist, but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment."
- Viktor Frankl
Chapter Four: Don't Confuse Me Anymore Than I Already Am.
Harry quickly threw off the covers and found Ron in the dark. The red head was groggy at first but recovered fast when he saw Harry.
" Blimey Harry! Where did you come from?"
" How long was I gone?"
Ron wiped sleep from his eyes and sat up in bed.
" Ummm, about two days. You were just gone, mate. One minute you were in front of us and the next..."
" Are you okay, Harry?"
" Yeah, Ron. Go back to sleep. We'll talk in the morning."
The red head grumbled, but listened to his friend.
They did talk in the morning along with Hermione plus an added bonus trip to McGongall's office. Which didn't prove to be any more helpful than the last.
" I'm worried about you Harry. What happens if you don't come back next time? Or something bad happens to you there?"
Hermione was voicing the little thoughts Harry had been having himself.
" And what's in this other world? What exactly is the other place like?"
" I can't tell you."
" Why not?"
It was Ron who asked this time.
" It's complicated, but I promised I wouldn't. It might make things worse."
But there was nothing more she could say, before they were interupted. A young girl came running into the common room. She was out of breath, but still managed to shout loudly.
" Quick! Some one help!"
The trio was on their feet and out the portrait in a flash. They followed the girl down the hall. Harry's stomach squirming all the way. It had to be another attack. He couldn't help but think of a certain Slytherin. He hoped the group didn't find that courage and extra crazy it had been missing.
They all stopped outside of a boy's loo. It didn't deter the girl from entering. What they found inside made Hermione cry and put her head on Ron's shoulder, as he let out a gasp. Harry clenched his teeth.
Lying on the floor in tight ball was another girl. No more than a second year, if that. Her hair was in pigtails making her look even younger. Her uniform was torn and blood was pooled around her, but Harry couldn't see a wound. He slowly walked to the girl, but she quickly stood and faced him, wand in hand.
Harry moved carefully away, not wanting to scare her any more than she was already.
Some of her loose black hair hung in pieces around her face, one of her pigtails was on the side of her head and she wore nasty looking bruises down her cheek that disappeared under her shirt.
" It's okay. I'm not going to hurt you."
Harry stepped closer and the young girl raised her wand.
" I tried that. She hit me. I don't know where she... I don't... I didn't know what to do."
The girl who led them there, Lizzy, Harry thought her name was, spoke out in a shaky voice. She stood in the corner, watching everything. Ron and Hermione stayed back as well. They moved near the wall as soon as the girl jumped to her feet.
" You did good. Now go and find a teacher or madam Pomfrey. Quick."
Harry never took his eyes off the terrified young girl in front of him. When he heard the door shut he spoke again.
" It's okay. I won't come near you."
Harry stepped back to prove his point. The girl didn't lower her wand. Her eyes kept darting back and forth. A small tear spilled from her left eye.
" Do you know who did this to you?"
Hermione remembered to whisper so she didn't upset the girl, but her tone left no doubt that she wanted to scold the redhead.
" How can you ask her that?"
" I know. I'm sorry. But think, Mione. Every time the teachers get to the...people who are attacked it's too late. They never talk. I think she might. But we have to do it now."
" No. She's clearly traumatized. You don't even know who's responsible for this. Who knows what she's just been though."
" Exactly. And who knows how many others will go through the same thing before McGonagall decides to do something about it."
Ron turned his attention to the girl.
" Listen, Harry's right. We aren't going to hurt you. I promise we are here to help. You're safe now. Can you put your wand down, please?"
The girl's wand hand dipped lower as Ron and Hermione were talking and when Ron spoke directly to her she let it fall to her side. Harry relaxed. She seemed to listen to Ron.
" Thank-you. You're safe. I promise. It's going to be okay, but we need to know what happened."
Ron ignored Hermione and quickly glanced at the door before returning his gaze to the girl.
" What's your name?"
The girl let out a heavy sob.
" I know it's hard. But you seem very brave. You can do this."
She looked less like a wild animal backed into a corner and more like the little girl she was now. Harry marveled at his friends ability to calm her. Maybe she had a thing for redheads.
" Samantha. Who did this to you?"
The girl shook her head.
" Did they say anything? Why they did this?"
She opened her mouth to speak, but no noise came out. She suddenly crumpled to the floor. Harry and Ron immediately ran to her. Hermione checked the hall for signs of help.
She didn't regain consciousness. They sat with her until Madam Pomfrey showed up and levitated her out. Ron was shaking. They weren't allowed to follow.
" I shouldn't have pushed her. I didn't mean to..."
Hermione put a hand on Ron's shoulder.
" It's not your fault. You were just trying to help. You didn't know that would happen."
" What did happen?"
The whole situation tugged at something lodged in the back of Harry's mind, but he couldn't remember what exactly.
" I don't know. It might have been the shock or exhaustion."
" But it happened so quickly and only when I pushed her. Did you see her try and talk before she passed out? It was like something was stopping her."
Harry remembered what it reminded him of. It was one of the things Malfoy suggested. Curses keeping people from talking.
" Hermione? Is the unbreakable vow the only thing that can keep a person from talking about something?"
She looked upset at the sudden change in topic, but recovered quickly.
" Well, no. There are other's. Like the secret keeper or there's one that prevents someone from telling lies. Which is kind of like the same thing."
" But can they be done without a person's permission?"
" I suppose. It would be similar to a binding spell. But it would be very painful and..."
She trailed off and looked at the blood still pooled on the bathroom floor. Harry knew the look on her face. It meant they'd be spending the next few days in the library, but it also meant they were one step closer to figuring out this whole thing.
The same day Professor McGonagall took away their no curfew privileges and stopped the weekend cleaning crews, was the same day Harry went back to the other world. One minute he was laughing at something Ron said and the next he was standing somewhere else.
It took him a moment to wrap his head around what happened. His first thought was why was he so cold? His next was why was he wet.
He blinked water out of his face and looked around. He was outside, what looked like the garden. Except this place looked nothing like the garden he knew. There were hardly any flowers and no stone lined trials. Only medium sized identical trees framing a dirt path.
Harry stepped out of the waterfall, a small dribble of water compared to the one back home, and tried to spell himself dry. It didn't work.
He wasn't sure if it was the way magic seemed to flicker in and out in this world or the fact that he was from another dimension that prevented his magic from working, but either way it left him feeling uneasy. It was hard to imagine all the time he spent here and he still hadn't tried to use his wand. They didn't do much spell work in class and he had no need for his wand any other time. Everything seemed to be already there for him.
He shook off as much water as he could and started towards the castle, wondering how long he'd be here this time.
The sight before him made him stop dead. The castle was pitch black. It stood, looming above him like a large shadow against an even darker background. A few candle lights flickering in windows were the only thing that gave Harry the courage to walk inside.
It was eerily silent and the darkness had Harry changing directions so often he was certain he'd never reach the dungeons. He almost gave up like he did last time he was left to navigate in the dark, but a noise up ahead stopped him.
" I don't know why you can't just tell people already."
That was Pansy. He never noticed how high her voice was before. He started in the direction he thought the girl was, but hesitated when he felt he was getting close.
She was a Slytherin and probably could help him find his way, but she wasn't Harry's first choice of people to run into in the dark. He still didn't want to risk slipping up in front of some one and who knows what kind of relationship he had with her. From the way Abby reacted to her, Harry might be wise to avoid her.
But he needed to get to the common room and this might be his only chance. He'd been wandering for an hour and this was the first person he'd come across. And now he was beginning to shiver from the cold and desperately wanted to be by the warm fire.
He decided to follow the girl without letting her know he was there. She would lead him to the dungeons, he could hear the password from her and then wait a few minutes before following her in. Harry caught up to the still whining girl.
" I'm tired of the looks from her. She acts as if I'm doing something wrong by touching you. But if she knew, then it wouldn't be a problem."
" I've told you before. No. I can't, so just drop it."
Harry's stomach flipped at the sound of Draco's voice.
" But Draco, wouldn't it be better. No more hiding, no more lying. It would be freeing."
Draco's answer shocked Harry. He sounded so small.
"But it's not time yet. And I'm not willing to risk everything for your selfishness."
" I'm just...I know. I'm sorry... I love you Draco. I just want...I know how hard this is for you."
She sighed and Harry thought he saw some one move. He ignored the urge interupt them. Hopefully, this was ending soon. Harry couldn't afford to start getting jealous over Malfoy.
So what if Malfoy was in a relationship with Pansy? It wasn't like he had a claim on the blonde. Harry always assumed they weren't exclusive. He had no idea how this world worked. Maybe it was common for Slytherin's to have multiple secret partners.
At least Malfoy didn't feed Harry that, 'No, we can't tell people. I'm not ready yet.' crap he seemed to be telling Pansy.
Harry suddenly pitied the girl. Malfoy obviously didn't return Pansy's feelings of love. He wasn't willing to give up the sex with random people to be with only her. He was just stringing her along. How many others was he lying to?
A tiny part of Harry was happy about that, he just found out his attraction, and he didn't want to give it up just yet. It almost made him look forward to coming back here.
But another part of him felt sorry for Pansy. She sounded genuine about her feelings and Malfoy was just playing with her. Harry was both relieved and disappointed he didn't have to listen to any more of the conversation, when they reached the entrance to the common room.
Pansy's gasp made him stop.
" Draco... I just... It's beautiful."
" I wasn't going for beautiful, Pans."
" Still. It's perfect."
" Thanks Pans. And you know I love you too. You're one of my best friends and always will be. I promise I'm happy. But you should be focusing on yourself. There must be some one you can...In fact, I noticed Henry spilling a lot more potions when you're around."
" Really? Patterson?"
While she contemplated it Malfoy spoke the password and they walked though the newly exposed hole in the wall. Pansy's voice got smaller and smaller as they went further inside.
"His dad own's a hotel chain in the Bahama's you know. It's exclusively for wizards. He's very rich and not too bad looking..."
Harry waited outside with his confusion. So Malfoy and Pansy weren't together. At least, he called her a friend. Maybe they had a casual thing too and Malfoy was trying to break if off with her by shoving her at another boy.
But what did that whole conversation mean then? What were they talking about? And what was so beautiful? After a few moments of shivering and scowling in the dark, Harry repeated the password to the portrait and intended to head straight to bed. He had a lot on his mind. Maybe if he went to bed now he could actually fall asleep by midnight.
He was meet with a sparse collection of students hovering around the room. One group containing Abby, Blaise, Chris, two girls Harry didn't know and Malfoy, called him over.
Abby smiled at him as he reluctantly joined them on the couch. She seemed happier and it made Harry realize how high strung she really was. She sat on the floor, a book forgotten near her feet. Her hair was down as always, but messier then usual. She really was quite attractive.
Abbey caught his stare and gave him a confused look. He tried not to blush. It wasn't like he had a crush on her or anything. She scared him to much for that to happen, but he did see her in a different way right then and it made him feel a little embarrassed.
Later when no one was paying them attention, she leaned into him and whispered in his ear.
" Other Harry?"
Her breath smelled sweet and Harry realized she'd been drinking something to make her so relaxed.
He only nodded. She gave him a knowing look then returned to the conversation about whether or not Hilda was really born a man.
Harry's thoughts drifted back to Malfoy and how the blonde might have proved him wrong again. Harry squashed down the guilt threatening to rise. He had assumed the worst of the blonde without hesitation, when this Malfoy gave him no reason to doubt him.
Harry smiled to himself when Blaise and Abby shared a look they thought no one saw. Harry didn't know what was with Slytherin's and secret relationships, but as Malfoy settled into the couch after laughing at Chris' joke and casually leaned into him Harry decided he didn't care.
Excluding the whole secret sex partners thing, the night reminded him of first year. Getting to know everyone, not having any expectations or pressure. Only school and friends and joking. It made Harry ache deep inside, in a place that hadn't been touched for years. He missed this. More then he realized.
Harry snapped out of his... what should he even call it? Daydream? It was night.
Fantasy, then? But did he really what that?
He looked at the blonde staring at him expectantly. He had an annoyed expression on his face. His hair was sticking up, blow sideways due to the extreme wind. His clear pale skin practically glowed in the dark like the warm light of a firefly. His robes were open at the collar reveling a long slender neck Harry had left marks on not twenty four hours ago.
He wanted it desperately. What ever musings Harry let himself indulge in while he was home, in his world, he really wanted. Harry could finally admit it to himself. He wanted Malfoy. In a bad way.
The only problem was it wasn't Malfoy's neck he was kissing last night. It was Draco's. The boy from the other universe. This boy, the boy who was now staring at Harry as though he were wearing a furry bunny suit, had no idea what had been running though the Gryffindor's head only moments before.
He had to keep it straight. Despite Harry's new habit of drifting off to a world where he could shoved Malfoy onto the nearest stable surface, he had to remember this Malfoy would probably hex him for his efforts. They were shedding their old roles of enemies, but Harry doubted this blonde would tolerate such friendly behavior.
"Fine, if you wish to stay here and get drench, then by all means."
Harry was left with a view of a retreating blonde. He made an effort to keep his eyes from roaming before he chased after the Slytherin.
" Wait. Where are you going?"
" Into the castle. Before the rain comes. Honestly, do you listen at all or is it too much effort to even pretend other people matter as much as you do."
Harry stopped short. It had been a long time since Malfoy had insulted him and really meant it. Harry followed him up the steps.
" Wait! Just hold on a minute."
" Piss off, Potter."
The blonde disappeared between the front doors of the castle. Harry sped up. Something was seriously up with the boy. He didn't stop from scowling as he reached a hand out. He tugged Malfoy's dark robe in attempt to stop him.
" Get off!"
Harry ignored him. Malfoy tried to yank him arm away.
"What are you doing?"
Harry knew he missed something. The Slytherin was more sensitive then he let on. It was quite easy to hurt his feelings. Not that Harry would ever tell him that.
" I'm trying to go to my dorms. Unless you want to join me I'd appreciate if you let go."
Harry ignored the thrill those words sent through him and didn't relent.
" No. What happened out there? Why are you acting like this?"
" What do you care? Look, Potter I know you have a huge hero complex, but I don't need your protection."
Harry was baffled now. The blonde wasn't making any sense.
" What are you talking about?"
" Just forget it. It's clear you'd rather be out with your adoring fans then protecting an ex- Deatheater from some vigilantes. So go. You don't have to act like you care any more. You're not even paying attention half the time. I don't need you. So just piss off."
Surged on by his words Malfoy yanked his arm away from Harry's grasp.
The Gryffindor ran after him, not nearly finished with conversation. Malfoy was upset because he'd been zoning out lately. Well, damn. If only he could know why Harry's mind was distracted. But maybe that would make things worse.
Either way, the thing to focus on now was Malfoy. Harry was beginning to depend on their friendship. If anything, he wanted more. He didn't want to lose what they had.
" Malfoy, will you wait!"
The blonde walked faster.
Malfoy stopped walking and turned around. He folded his arms over his chest and stood, waiting for Harry to explain.
" Ummm. I don't... I mean, I'm not bored or anything. I just have a lot on my mind lately and I didn't mean to..."
He trailed of not sure how to finish. He assessed the blonde in front of him. Malfoy still had his arms crossed, but he also had the barest smile on his lips. Harry tried to concentrate.
A noise from down the corridor startled Harry. He grabbed the blonde's sleeve and pulled him into the nearest room.
" Potter, what are you doing?"
Malfoy was looking at him strangely.
" You didn't hear that? Some one was coming down the hall."
" So? It's not even curfew yet."
Harry felt himself blush. He'd forgotten. After years of sneaking around the castle after hours and avoiding teachers and pesky ghosts it was instinct to hide at a noise.
" Right. Sorry, I forgot. Habit. "
Malfoy simply nodded and made for the door. A loud thump stopped him. Low groaning sounds followed.
Malfoy stepped back.
" What is that?"
Harry strained to listen. There was more groaning and another thump.
" Seriously, Potter. I know people call you a saint, but even you must know what that is."
A giggle on the other side of the door made Malfoy's explanation a bit clearer. There was a very amorous couple beyond the door. Harry blush for a second time that night.
There was another groan followed by a hiss.
" Bloody hell."
Malfoy made for the door.
" Stop. What are you doing?"
" I'm leaving, Potter. If you want to get your jollies off, then enjoy, but I don't need to listen to this."
" Hold on. Just let them finish."
Malfoy raised a brow.
" I was joking before. But who knew you had a kinky side."
" No. I mean, their not going to... what-ever in the middle of the hall. They'll probably move on in a second. Just let them enjoy themselves. Besides, we can't just walk out of an abandoned classroom together."
Malfoy regarded him for a moment and Harry had to look away.
The girl outside moaned. Malfoy sighed.
" She's faking."
" What? How do you know?"
" It's obvious."
Harry listened and tried not to feel perverted or turned on. Malfoy stepped closer to him. It was hard to keep his mind from wondering.
" She's not into him at all."
" You can't know that."
" What? You've never been with a girl who wasn't really into what you were doing? Come on, you're famous. You must have had one or two just in it for the fame. It's different when they really want it."
Harry wondered when they became good enough friends that Malfoy felt this was an okay topic of discussion.
" Have you?"
" Never." Some how Malfoy was even closer now. Harry tried to control his breathing. He could smell the other boy. He had a different scent then the other Draco. It was sharper some how. It had more spice. Harry found it more appealing. He fought not to lean into it.
" Never? Then how do you know?"
" I know. I don't go for just any one. Plus, I have a technique that works every time. No one I'm with can help but feel good."
" How?" Harry whispered the last part. If Malfoy caught on to Harry's shallow breathing or racing hear he didn't let on. The blonde moved closer still. Something gleaming in his eye. Harry didn't care as long as he didn't move away.
He didn't. Malfoy rested a hand on Harry's hipbone. It was light touch and if Harry hadn't been forcing himself not to move he would have jumped. Harry closed his eyes. Malfoy's hand retracted, but he kept talking.
" I tell the truth. I let them know how special they are. That they are the only ones in the world that matter. I also don't hide the affect they have on me. Like the way they can make me laugh over nothing or how I'm always think about them, even when they're not around. Simple things, but they can make all the difference."
Harry could feel the words ghosting over his face. He was almost shaking with the memory of how that mouth tasted. He couldn't believe what was happening, but the blonde didn't stop there.
" For example, I might lean in close and whisper something like..."
He did lean down and whispered the next part in Harry's ear.
"Every time you smile it makes my heart stop beating in my chest."
Harry held in the gasp that wanted to escape. This wasn't real. Malfoy wasn't talking to him. He was proving a point. It was easier to believe when the blonde pulled away completely.
" And that, Potter, is how to woo the ladies. Of course it also helps if you don't look like a blind mole who had to fight his way out of a sweaty sock."
Malfoy was eyeing Harry's hair with a smirk on his face. Harry was going to remind him how windy it had been outside, and that Malfoy's own blonde locks weren't in any better condition, but he didn't get the oppertunity.
" I guess you were right. They've moved on."
Harry had forgotten all about the couple they were hidding from. Malfoy stepped into the hall.
They lingered outside and Harry guessed their previous fight was over now. Malfoy looked around.
"It's raining. The gardens off limits now. I guess I'll be heading up."
" Right. Good idea. See you later."
Harry was speaking but he wasn't really listening to the words. It felt like he was floating. What just happened in there.
Where the hell did that come from? Harry had to have imagined that. He'd been extra aware of all Malfoy's moves lately, and having the boy so close had threw his mind into over drive. He didn't really hear Malfoy's breath hitch or feel his hand linger just a moment too long.
Harry shook his head. He was letting his fantasy spill into the real world. He needed to get a grip or he was going to do something he would regret.
" Umm. I don't mean to be rude or anything, but did you know your shirt was inside out?"
Harry ignored the blush that stained his face. His glare wasn't meant for the boy who pointed out Harry's fashion flaw, but it still sent him into a nervous ramble. The honorary Slytherin, as Chris called Harry in private, looked around quickly to see how many other people had noticed his wardrobe.
Abby would be so disappointed. She actually thought she was teaching him about fashion.
No one else seemed to realize Harry's mistake. Harry once again wished for his home, where clothes were much simpler and people didn't break a sweat when they talked to him. His current potions partner was practically incoherent.
The new female potions master was no Snape. Despite her harsh view on not taking diligent notes and her slight biased towards Slytherins, she was actually a promoter of inner house harmony. Two days into Harry's recent visit to bizarro Hogwarts, she decided to switch things up a bit.
New partners were re-assigned and that was how Harry ended up with Neville almost in tears at Harry's lack of response to his previous observation. The poor boy must think he was about to be hexed and if it were three days ago, he probably would have been.
But Harry was torn. Neville was his friend, he didn't want to be cruel. However, he knew he had to keep up appearances.
He tried to leave all emotion out of his voice. It got Neville to stop babbling. Harry could feel eyes on him and refused to look up from his potions book.
" So, we should add the Marxy blood first. Do you have it?"
Neville rushed to grab a vile and quickly poured its contents into the cauldron. They worked well and in silence for half an hour, until Harry heard laughter from across the room. It was from Draco, who'd been paired with Hermione. As Harry turned to see what made the blonde so happy, and hoping it wasn't at the expense of Hermione, he accidentally knocked over the bottle of Culdress.
The liquid spilled onto the table and only Harry's seeker reflexes kept him from getting a lap full of potion. Neville wasn't so lucky. His pants sizzled as he jumped back too late. The purple stained his pants and his palms, where he'd used them to push himself away from the table. Small, but growing, blotches were appearing on his hands and Harry guessed his thighs.
Neville yelped and flung his hands around trying to shake off the increasingly growing bulges. He only managed to hit Lavender in the face with a splash of excess potion. She also began yelling and wiping desperately at her face.
The professor rushed over to clean the mess and then, without even a glance at Harry, whisked away the two distressed students, with a warning glare to the rest of the class. As soon as she left, the Slytherins clapped and the Gryffindors grumbled.
Ron got up and started towards Harry. Draco and Chris followed. Harry remained in his seat, hoping he wasn't going to have to fight his best mate.
" What's your problem, Potter?"
It was odd seeing that anger directed solely at him.
" It was an accident." He defended himself before he could think about what he should have said.
" Come off it! No one believes that."
Ron got in real close to say the next part.
"I know everyone thinks you're so great, Harry Potter. But I see you for what you really are. An arrogant Slytherin bastard. Picking on innocent people. How does that make you great? Other than a great prick."
" Back off, Weasley."
It was Chris who spoke. Draco was watching, both were ready to step in if needed.
" Fuck off. You and the whole lot can go die for all I care. Just leave us alone."
Hermione appeared behind Ron. She placed a hand on his shoulder and he visibly relaxed. He looked upset, but he went back to the table he shared with Blaise. Harry didn't look Hermione in the eye. He simply sat down and waited until they were released. He'd never felt so miserable.
Harry observed the portraits in Dumbledore's office. It felt like he was fifteen again and waiting for the wise words he knew the professor would provide.
Only he wasn't fifteen any longer. He'd grown up and now Harry understood that the man before him didn't always have all the answers.
Like now for instance.
It had been three weeks since he'd been home. Three weeks, that felt like a life time. He was tired of this place, despite the fact that he had gotten the hang of how he was supposed to act and used to the way he was treated here and Draco, he still wanted home.
He shifted his focus back to the old man and tried not to glare at the wizard, smiling with his eyes if not with his face. Harry swore if he was offered a lemon drop, he would walk out. He wanted answers not candy.
" Harry, how good to see you again. I'm sorry that I don't have better news."
Harry growled. This was supposed to be one of the most powerful wizards of all time and he couldn't even find a way for Harry to get home. What was he supposed to do now?
" I know it's difficult, but sometimes when things we might not understand at the time happen, they can often work out in positive ways we may not have foreseen."
Harry wished he could believe that. He would have once, but he's seen too much, been through too much. He knew the truth and that wasn't it. He needed to fight this. There had to be a way.
" Perhaps it's best if we just wait. Would you like a liquorice whip?"
It wasn't a lemon drop, but it was close enough. Harry swiftly stood up and walked out. He was furious. His anger didn't lessen as he made his way to breakfast. He hadn't been this mad since he was in the hospital 'healing' from the war. He knew the feeling was coming from his helplessness, but he couldn't sort it all out now. He let it wash over him.
Harry stormed into the great hall. Cursing the headmaster in his head. He had forgotten how frustrating the man could be. He wondered at all his stress over the years and how much of it was caused by the older wizard.
Instantly he felt regret.
Then anger again.
He was so furious he nearly knocked over a first year. Once he found the Slytherin table he took the first empty seat he could find, not bothering to look for Abby or Chris.
He let out a huff of air and tried to get control of his anger. He looked up when some one cleared their throat. Malfoy was staring at him. Harry rolled his eyes.
" Look, Draco, I'm fine. I don't want to talk about it."
He'd given in and started calling the blonde Draco around week two.
Harry watched the blonde's curious stare falter. Immediately Harry noticed something was different about him.
No. No. No.
Harry quickly looked around him. The entire table had abandoned their breakfast to watch him. He slowly turned around to face the rest of the hall. Taking their cues from Slytherin, the rest of the student body had their eyes on Harry.
The Gryffindor swallowed.
He was home.
And sitting at the Slytherin table.
Harry turned back around. Malfoy got over his shock, probably at hearing his first name form Harry, and was back to looking amused. Harry scowled for old times sake and stood up. He walked back to his own houses table and sat down, firmly ignoring the still curious students.
" Harry? Where have you been? Were you...there again? And why were you sitting at the Slytherin table?"
Ron was eyeing him funnily, but he didn't seemed too worried about Harry being gone, so the Gryffindor assumed three weeks hadn't passed by here as well.
Most of the room went back to quiet mumbles and eating pancakes, but the Gryffindor table was straining a collective ear to hear his answer.
" I got confused."
He shrugged it off and hoped Ron would understand. He was still angry with Dumbledore and even more upset he left before he could do anything about it.
" Confused? Harry, how could you mistake us for them?"
Ron's tone was no different then when he called Harry an arrogant bastard Slyterhin in the other world. The anger was still there, it was just aimed at some one else.
" Because Ron. I did."
" But, Harry..."
" Look! I'm sorry alright. But trying to keep track of two different worlds is not as easy as it sounds. I can't be responsible for every body else's problems. Between you and Abby and the hole in the universe I'm not supposed to know about and Dumbledore's crazy riddles. Not to mention the idiots here and the fact that I have no control over this and then the lessons. I get a little confused. Okay?"
This time it was Hermione who spoke.
Harry used a technique he learned while at the hospital. He stood up and walked out.
The rumor spread fast that Harry was time traveling between two different dimensions. Everyone one in the school knew where he was when he went missing. So, it shouldn't have surprised him when Malfoy asked about it.
" So obviously I'm in this other world. But why would you use my first name? That's not a usual occurrence with enemies."
Draco barely gave Harry a moment to respond to his greetings, before he launched into his query.
" We're not enemies."
" No, not any more."
Malfoy eyed him and Harry had to look away.
"Is it the same over there?"
" You're not there."
Malfoy smiled. Harry bit his cheek.
" You're lying."
" No I'm not. You're not there."
" So at breakfast, you just wanted to share my pancakes?"
" You're lying."
Harry hated how he sounded so confident.
" No I'm not. And how would you know wheter I'm lying or not, anyway?"
" You have a tell."
" No, I don't."
" You do. But, it could also be that you walked up to me yesterday morning and began talking to me like it was part of your daily routine. I'm pretty sure I'd recall if that happened here."
Harry didn't get a chance to respond before the Slytherin continued.
" The real question now is, why? Why do you feel you need to lie about it."
Harry didn't like where this was going.
" What would you not want me to know. Oh, no. I'm not a muggle am I?"
Harry laughed at Malfoy's horror.
" Am I in Hufflepuff? Have Longbottom and I switched lives? Potter, you have to tell me now. I can't live knowing there might be a version of me out there who stutters and wears spandex. I've seen the muggle shopping network. I know what spandex does to a person."
Harry couldn't answer if he wanted. He was laughing too hard.
" Come on, Potter. I know a little about other dimensions. Maybe I could help. You must have told Granger and Weasley about their other selves, why won't you tell me?"
" I didn't actually." Harry told him.
" You didn't tell them. Why not?"
Harry sighed. He knew Malfoy well enough now to know he wasn't going to give this up.
" I'm not supposed to talk about it."
Malfoy raised a brow.
" Really. It's dangerous or something."
" That's rubbish. What difference will it make what I know? I'm not part of it. I couldn't possibly have an effect."
Harry tried to stay strong, but he was growing tired of having to keep track of everything in his head. He was aching to have some one to talk to about it. And it wasn't like Malfoy wanted to know anything major. It couldn't hurt to tell a few things. Besides he had learned about the other world in order to fit in and nothing bad happened, so telling Malfoy a few details couldn't make things worse.
Of course, it would have to be a few details. There were some things he was never going to tell the blonde. Or any one for that matter.
"I have other friends there."
" Like who?"
" I don't think they exist here."
" Of course not. You have people especially made just to be your friends."
" I didn't ask for this. And I think they exist, they're just not at school here. Now."
"Right. Sorry. So these other friends? They don't get along with Granger and Weasley? Or are they gone from that world."
" They're in that world. It's just... we aren't on speaking terms."
Harry figured that wasn't entirely a lie. He'd only had a few brief exchanges with them.
" Why? Did you sleep with Granger? Are they evil?"
" What... and What?"
" You either had to have done something completely idiotic. Even more so than what you do here. Or they have to be on the opposite side of the war."
Harry ignored the insult. They were still getting used to the whole 'friends' thing.
" Who says they're the evils ones?"
Malfoy laughed at him.
" No way. I don't care what universe it is. People can walk around with goats coming out of their asses and you still would be the golden boy hero."
Harry felt insulted again.
" Well, I haven't seen anyone with that particular appendage, but I'll keep my eyes open."
Malfoy just stared at him.
" No. You're evil? I don't believe it."
"I am though. Well, sort of. I spread rumors and get people pissed off at me. So much so that they attack me in the halls."
" How is that different from here?"
Malfoy's laughter spurred him on.
" I'm in Slytherin. People are afraid of me. It's awful actually. Everyone treats me differently. I have power that I don't want and I'm friends with you."
Malfoy stopped laughing and raised a brow.
" Really? You? In Slytherin. I wish I could see it. You must hate that."
" It's not so bad, at least the Slytherin part. You aren't all as horrible as I thought."
Malfoy looked around. He peered into a bush then looked to the sky.
" What are you doing?"
" Looking for other signs of the apocalypse."
Harry shoved Malfoy.
" Shut-up. Other than the fact that Ron and Hermione hate me and no one wants to confront anything I do, I kind of like it. Except, it's harder than I thought. No matter what I can't manage to get everything right. It takes more work than I would have guessed."
" You've been through worse though. Do you know why it's happening?"
" No. And McGonagall's not very helpful."
" I think she's in over her head. People aren't feeling safe anymore. I heard a few people saying they were going to leave if the attacks didn't stop."
" I can't believe after all we've been through people still don't see that hate only brings more pain."
" Are you alright Potter? You seem a bit tired."
" I'm fine. It's just a lot to get used to. Here, with the crazed gang of rouge students. And classes. And there. Being a Slytherin. Having new friends. You."
Harry didn't mean to say the last part.
" Well, personally I feel relieved. This explains so much. More specifically, why you've been looking at me funny lately."
Harry's stomach dropped. Malfoy notice his staring? He had to admit he couldn't get the blonde off his mind lately.
" What do you mean?"
Malfoy gave him a searching look. Harry tried not to fidget, but when the blonde spoke he didn't give any sign he was upset.
" You need to get a quick lesson on what it's like to be a true Slytherin. Hoping you'll see something that helps?"
Harry laughed in relief.
" You're not far off, actually. When I'm expected to be a git, I often ask myself, what would Malfoy do in this situation?"
"Funny. So, what am I like?"
" Not much different really."
" What? Can't be. If we're friends, then I have to be different."
" Why? We're friends here."
"Well, I guess it was meant to be then, Potter."
" What?" Harry was confused.
" Us." The brunette's heart thudded in his chest.
" Our friendship is not so strange after all. Maybe we were always meant to wind up here."
Harry's heart ached. It was hard to accept the fact that he would never have Malfoy the way he wanted now, especially when the boy kept saying things like that.
" It makes sense. And it would explain why Ginny won't talk about it."
The trio was in the library discussing the most recent theory they had on the mysterious gang. Harry's, well technically Malfoy's, idea about some sort of spell to keep people quiet was their latest break through.
There weren't as many kinds of spells that prevented a person from being able to speak, and even less that involved the amount of blood the trio witnessed in the bathroom. So they were able to narrow it down to two.
One spell left the person unable to remember what the caster didn't want them to and so unable to talk about it. However, the person didn't realize there was anything out of the ordinary. They felt like no memories were taken, but instead had a vague sense of what happened and a strong urge to keep silent.
The second spell left the person able to remember everything, but if they attempted to talk about it would cause them great pain. And even worse the spell hid the pain from others. So the victim could be suffering and no one would no the difference.
Both cases required a blood ritual of sorts and were nearly untraceable and undetectable. They were old magic and the wizarding community, back when it was still small, had tried to rid the world of them by banishing them. They weren't put in books, they weren't talked about and they weren't used ever. The only way they survived was through some stories, only legends now, and some dark families who passed them down from generation to generation.
The use of memory charms was much more covenant, for both the good and bad, and over time the spells had been forgotten. The only reason the trio knew of it now was because some one had anonymously written to Hermione, giving her the very specific and very difficult to find names of the spells.
Harry and Hermione didn't trust the information they'd received at first, but Ron was convinced it was one of his connections trying to help or some one reaching out from the group. A trapped member trying to bring them down from the inside.
The 'anonymous tip' as Ron insisted on calling it, came in the form of a letter sent to Hermione's room just before dawn. She immediately shared the information with her friends and despite their uneasiness about it, they decided it was worth looking into.
Further research, ie an old diary of a madman Hermione had to smuggle in and more Gallons then Harry had even spent before, left them with the two options.
" It sounds more like the second one. The way Emma collapsed when we questioned her. According to the diary, some people aren't strong enough to handle the pain at first."
" That means Ginny..."
The three friends were silent as the truth finally sunk in. It meant every time they questioned her she was being tortured.
" Bloody Slytherins. When I found out who did this to my sister I'm going to rip their heads off. They're gonna wish they had a spell to forget."
" It's not all Slytherins, Ron."
Harry still hadn't told his friends about the time he was spending with Malfoy. He was going to before everything got complicated, but he figured he may as well start testing the waters.
" How can you say that Harry? Name one Slytherin who isn't an evil git."
" I'm not saying they haven't been difficult in the past, but that's all behind us now. I think we should try and get along. The war is over."
" That's very wise of you, Harry."
Harry smiled at Hermione. If she only knew his selfish dirty thoughts, she wouldn't sound so proud.
" He's right Ron. What are you going to do if you have to work with a Slytherin next year? You should try and mend things now, while we're all close by."
Hermione's talk of the future set off an un-welcome squirm in Harry's stomach.
" I'm not going to mend anything, mione. Some things are just not meant to be. If I have to work with someone I don't like I'll manage when the time comes, but right now I'm not giving the slimly pricks any thing more than they deserve."
Ron kept glancing at Harry as he spoke, like he expected the brunette to disagree. But Harry kept silent. He didn't want to push Ron right now. He was still grieving about his brother and over protective of Ginny. They shouldn't be forcing this on him.
" And who says we don't deserve it, Weasley?"
Harry's heart lept to his throat. Malfoy and him had barley seen each other, let alone talk outside of the garden walls. And here he was standing calmly in front of him in the dim library light.
" I do."
" You know what, Weasley? There's something I've been meaning to say to you."
All three people at the table tensed up. Harry didn't want to fight, but he wouldn't let Malfoy push his friend around. Part of him was disappointed that he was surprised the blonde was starting trouble. He actually let himself think things might change.
Malfoy took a step towards the table.
Ron's mouth dropped open.
" I really am. For any trouble I caused you or your family. I made some mistakes and some regretful decisions. I'm not begging your forgiveness because frankly I don't need it, but I am sorry. You can accept it or not, but it's there."
" What the hell? Who... what...?"
Ron seemed to be having difficulty processing the blonde's unexpected words, and he wasn't the only one. Hermione was wearily watching Malfoy, who had turned and was walking away and Harry felt like some one pulled the floor right out from under his feet. He almost would have preferred a fight.
Malfoy apologized. Harry was just as shocked as when he'd first realized Malfoy was drunk in the garden.
Meanwhile, Ron had settled on an emotion. He sent an angry glance at a confused Harry, who frowned back at his friend, before shouting.
"Stupid bloody pillock!"
Ron threw a book at the retreating Slytherin, which earned them all a week banned from the library. Hermione refrained from lecturing him until they got back to the tower.
Harry stormed up to the blonde, yelling before he reached him.
" Did you enjoy that?"
Malfoy stayed on his bench and gave him a puzzled look.
" Ron's going through a lot right now. He doesn't need any crap from you."
" I hardly think an apology is considered crap. And if I recall correctly he was the one who attempted to assault me."
" What do expect? You can't just walk up to someone after torturing them for eight years and expect them to just except you've had a chance of heart."
" You did. And I don't care if he excepts. It wasn't about him."
" Oh. So it was a selfish act. That's a bit more like you."
Malfoy stood up now. Harry held his ground.
" That doesn't mean I'm not really sorry!"
Malfoy looked like he was going to walk away, but he opened his mouth before his feet could get the message.
" You know something, Potter? You're listening skills go beyond any normal dysfunction. I apologized, because it was the right thing to do and I'm trying to put my life back together. Hopefully, a little better than the way I left it. Whether Weasley choose to accept that or not isn't my concern."
" You could have handled it better. You should have come to me first. Instead of springing it on him like that. I could have..."
" Could have what? Held his hand while I did it? Talked me up a bit first? It wouldn't have mattered. We both know there was no right way to do this. I figured the easiest method was to drop it on him and leave him to sort through it."
"And you're upset, why? Because I didn't consult you first? Not everything is about you, Potter. This was between me and Weasley."
Harry tried to ignore the sting of Malfoy's words. He forgot what fighting with the blonde was like.
Normally, this would be the part where Harry let his anger and hurt take over. The part where he would insult Malfoy back with an equally reasonable, yet painful statement. The part where they would bring out there wands or even fists to hurt the other more than they were being hurt.
But Harry didn't want to go back to that. They had passed that. So he stayed silent.
" But that's not the real reason you're upset is it, Potter?"
Harry choose to stay quiet and wait until Malfoy reached the same conclusion.
" It's because I'm reaching out to other people, isn't it? Did you think you were special? That I was going to stay your little pet project? Or are you afraid I was going to spill you're dirty secret? Playing nice with a Slytherin. How embarassing for you. When Weasley made it very clear how you still see me."
Malfoy was suddenly in Harry's space, crowding him. Harry's hand flinched as he willed himself not to reachout and comfort the Slytherin despite his harsh words.
Malfoy's eyes caught his hand's spasm and the blonde huffed out some angry air before whispering in Harry's ear.
" Or maybe that other world has you confused."
All the anger flooded out of Harry's body. He suddenly regretted staying silent and letting Malfoy come to this conclusion. This was the wrong conclusion. Too close to the truth. He should say something before the blonde gets closer still.
But Malfoy suddenly invaded his space even more and Harry was surprised how they could be so close and still not touching.
" I'm not him. Potter, I'm not going to do what he does."
Ice slide into Harry's stomach. He felt sick and cold and hot all at the same time. Malfoy knew? How did he know?
He knew. He figured out Harry's secret. Malfoy knew Harry liked him. Who knows why he was keeping it in. He probably hoped it would go away.
Harry felt embarrassment slice through him. Malfoy knew. How long? Could he tell from the beginning? Every time Harry leaned in a little closer to catch the smell of his shampoo or when he made sure to sit on the bench so their knees would bump. Every time he let himself watch Malfoy's lips as he talked or the secret smiles Harry thought they were sharing. How stupid was he?
Malfoy even brought it up before. He'd tried to tell Harry, but he was too lost in his own fantasies to listen. Malfoy was the decent one, trying to save their friendship. Harry was like a dog on his leg that Malfoy tried to laugh off and ignore. He tried to tell Harry. Tried to make it clear that...
He didn't want Harry.
And that's what cut the deepest.
It was clear in the way he spoke of his doppleganger. In the way Malfoy spit out the word. Him. Like it was too dirty to be in his mouth.
There was no way Malfoy would be doing any of that disgusting stuff with him. No way he'd ever touch Harry. No way he'd let Harry have him.
And now, Harry had ruined any chance of them being friends.
So Harry turned and ran away. So much for Gryffindor's for being brave.
But Slytherin's must not be very brave either, becuase Malfoy made no attempt to stop him.
" We need to talk. I have something to say to you."
Two days was not enough to get over the sting of rejection. And it didn't help that Malfoy was without his robes and the grey shirt he wore combined with the sun from the window he stood in front of, made him look amazing. Harry felt lust, guilt, anger, and something that he couldn't label, but defiantly had maturity in the ingredients, all at the same time. The last part was proved by the fact that he didn't run away this time. Or yell.
" You already did. I get it. You're not him. I'm sorry I tried to..."
Emotion clogged his throat. Maturity must be a work in progress.
" Is it that bad?" Malfoy lost some color.
Harry did not want this talk to happen, but he also felt he needed to explain. At least for Malfoy's sake. He owed the blonde that much.
" No. Yes. It's just you're so much alike. I know you're not him, but when I'm around you I can't help thinking of..."
Harry cut himself off, unable to handle the pained look on Malfoy's face or the way his body got tenser and tenser with every word.
The blonde must be fighting disgust or maybe fear that Harry was going to jump him.
When did things get like this? He wanted the old Malfoy back. Only two days had passed since their fight, but he missed the blonde he'd gotten used to having around. The one who relaxed around him. The one who laughed at his lame jokes and kicked his shin when he got mad.
Harry suddenly felt a tug of sadness. This could be the last time they talk to each other. He wasn't ready to give the blonde up yet.
" How did you figure it out?"
Malfoy jumped like he had forgotten Harry was there.
" The way you've been acting. The more time you spent there. The more you'd come back different. You kept looking at me when you didn't think I noticed and you jumped at the oddest things. It didn't take much to guess why."
Harry felt his face grow warm. He knew all that, but it sounded worse hearing it from Malfoy himself.
" I'm sorry. I didn't want to, but everything over there happened so fast."
" I get it. But, I was wondering. Is there anything I can do, maybe, to change things?"
Harry noticed Malfoy's clenched fists and ignored the knife slicing through his heart. Malfoy really was just trying to make things right. It wasn't his fault Harry let his perverted thoughts ruin their friendship.
" No. I just... I can't help how I feel. I think we should just stop hanging out for a while."
It was the last thing he wanted, but it best all around. Harry could get some distance from both Malfoys, after they figured out how to keep him from traveling between worlds, and this Malfoy wouldn't have to feel awkward any more.
" Is that the only way? What if..."
Harry felt as small as a flea. He understood and shared Malfoy's reluctance. Malfoy had opened up to him. He'd shared a part of himself that he didn't let anyone else see. They had been healing together. Harry was a friend and Malfoy didn't want to lose that. Harry felt guilty for causing the blonde any more pain.
" What if you acted out your...feelings towards him on me."
" Look, Potter. I'm not necessarily looking forward to it and I wouldn't offer to anyone else. But, you understand things. I need someone to talk to. And you're not bad company as well."
He murmured the last part, but Harry wasn't listening anyway. He was still on the 'Huh' part.
" So, if I have to sacrifice this, then I will. If you think it would help, you can pretend I'm him for a while."
Harry broke into a sweat. This was it. What he wanted. Everything he'd fantasized about, dreamed about. Although he'd gotten very close to the other Malfoy. One point couldn't be argued. He wasn't his Malfoy. He wasn't the boy standing before him looking...
...looking like he was about to be punched in the face.
He knew he couldn't do it. He'd rather suffer trying to be Malfoy's friend and ignore his feelings. And maybe last year he would have. The old Harry would have pushed aside his own wants and let Malfoy have him as a friend.
But now Harry knew better than to deny himself something he wanted so much.
" No. i'm sorry, it wouldn't change things."
Malfoy looked hurt, but didn't argue anymore.
It was over now. Harry looked at the blonde one last time. He really was beautiful.
What the hell? Harry thought. Malfoy was never going to talk to him again anyway, he might as well know what he was really giving up.
" But before I go... and since you're offering."
Harry walked up to Malfoy and kissed him goodbye.
When his lips touched the blondes Harry felt a rush he never got with the boy from the other world. It was sweet and freeing and completely terrifying. He wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.
If he knew it was going to be like this he never would have kissed the blonde. He let his tongue poke out just for a second before he stopped any hope he harbored of changing the blonde's mind, along with the kiss.
" I'm sorry."
Malfoy raised a hand to his mouth.
" Potter you..."
And then Harry disappeared.
AN: Thanks for reading. I'll try and post the next part soon.