Draco buried his head under his dirty pillow, breathing in its musty odor. The pillow had to be around ten years old, and there was no telling how long it had been since it had been washed. This was typical of the downtown old-fashioned bed and breakfast his family had been spending the hellish past few days in. Draco found that stuffing his head under the pillow did not have the desired effect. He could still hear his parents' quickly escalating argument. Screwing up his eyes, he tried to think of something else, anything else, than what was going on in his life right now.
Draco settled for the past few weeks. Before school had ended, he had had to attend Cedric Diggory's funeral. The Triwizard Tournament had taken another life, but this time it wasn't any of the obstacles. This time it was Lord Voldemort.
So Dumbledore said, and so Harry Potter said, after his now-famous arrival in the stands of the tournament, clutching Diggory's corpse. Draco didn't want to believe that Voldemort was back. His return would mark the end of Draco's already tainted childhood, and also the end of his family's life as he knew it. But the only other way Cedric could have turned up dead was if Potter had killed him, and that didn't seem even remotely likely. So he had to believe that Potter was telling the truth.
This isn't helping, Draco thought to himself, as his mother began shrieking shrilly. Draco found himself shaking with anger, his hands clenched into furious fists against the mattress. He hurriedly tried to change his stream of thoughts. But they were on Harry Potter, and there they were staying. Draco found himself, in his desperation to escape from the present time and place, thinking thoughts he hadn't thought of in three years.
Draco remembered the first time they met, in Madam Malkin's Robes For All Occasions. They were being fitted for robes, standing across from one another on rickety stools while Madam Malkin tittered around with her needles. It had been Draco's first stop alone during the outing to Diagon Alley, and he remembered being proud and excited to enter the shop alone, while his mother went down the street to Flourish and Blott's for his schoolbooks. Draco also remembered how small and skinny Potter had looked at that time, almost malnourished. His untidy hair and baggy clothes, which looked as if they had come from a trash bin, had made Draco feel sorry for him. Yet the boy's bright green eyes were alight and sharp behind the round spectacles, and he held his chin in a way that made Draco respect him. Draco had tried to start up conversation, and remembered thinking that he didn't think the boy was too bad, until suddenly Potter's tone had changed. Draco didn't even remember what he had said, but something had changed in Potter's mind. And Potter had stalked out of the shop, giving Draco a distinctly bad feeling. In the days that followed, he forgot all about the incident.
On September 1st, after saying a quick goodbye to his parents on the platform, Draco was on the train by himself, when two big boys had joined him. He had learned their names were Vincent and Gregory. During the trip, they became friends. Vince was a bit thick, and Greg stuffed himself on sweets a lot, but Draco could remember thinking that they would be good friends, not to mention keep him from being bullied. Draco remembered in horror the first time he had been out in a Muggle neighborhood and had been teased for his thin stature by a stocky 13 year old. Draco had fixed him up well (How HAD that boy gotten himself up the fencepost?) but Draco was still a bit afraid. The whole time on the train, he also kept an eye out for the boy he had met in Madam Malkin's. For some reason, he had a feeling that he and the boy would be friends, despite the words they exchanged at Diagon Alley.
Then he heard a rumor that Harry Potter was in a compartment just a few doors down from the one he and Vince and Greg were in. So Draco decided to go and investigate. Vince and Greg volunteered to go with him, while another boy Draco had met, Blaise Zambini, stayed and watched the compartment.
When Draco walked in and saw that the boy from Madam Malkin's was Harry Potter, his heart leapt. Surely Harry would want to be friends. Draco immediately began introducing himself, and he had to admit, he was a little excited to be meeting The Boy Who Lived. But then Weasley laughed at his name.
And that had set Draco off. All his life, he had been laughed at for his name: Draco Aquilis Malfoy, which, translated from Latin, means Dark Dragon. In that one second that Draco snapped at Weasley, Potter slipped through his fingers. It was as if a curtain had been drawn between them. Potter didn't shake his hand, and they became enemies.
Sometimes, Draco thought, his face pressed against the mattress, the world is so twisted. Suddenly a loud screech from his mother broke his concentration.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU PLANNED THIS TRIP TO SPEND TIME WITH YOUR SON? LUCIUS, ALL YOU HAVE DONE SINCE WE GOT HERE IS GO TO BUSINESS MEETINGS! HOW IS THAT SPENDING TIME WITH YOUR SON?"
"HOW DARE YOU, WOMAN! I WORK HARD EVERY DAY TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO BUY ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING YOU WANT AND YOU ARE SO UNGRATEFUL-"
Draco covered his ears, but already the blood was pounding in his head.
"You care nothing of Draco!" screamed his mother, "You brought him here so you could make him suffer, and you have seen how unhappy he has been-!"
"NARCISSA! I SHALL NOT BE SPOKEN TO IN THIS WAY WHEN YOU LEAVE THE BOY ALONE IN THIS DREARY PLACE TO GO SHOPPING EVERY DAY!"
Draco was shaking with anger. He slowly stood up, the pillow falling on the floor of the shabby hotel room he had been spending the past week in solitude in. Then he staggered to the door and tugged it open, barely seeing his parents before yelling-
"SHUT UP!" he screamed, so loud his voice cracked and his parents, who were standing on either side of the hotel room, shouting at each other, stiffened immediately, staring at him in surprise. "Just shut UP!"
His parents faces turned ghastly colors. His mother turned bright red, while his father turned a strange ashy color. Draco, on the verge of angry tears, suddenly couldn't stand to be there anymore. He ran to the hotel room door, grabbing his snug hat and sunglasses on his way out. He sprinted down the little landing, took the emergency steps two at a time, ran through the lobby, past the now-familiar receptionist, who gave a small "oh" of surprise, and out into the street. Without any hesitation, he ran down a block and turned a corner into a little corner drugstore.
Panting, he leaned up against the store wall. Ever since his father had brought them to the little town of Little Whinging, Surrey, Draco had been coming to this drugstore to restock on the important things: cigarettes, sodas, and sanity.
The exterior of the store was shabby, its red-and-white awning torn in places. Most of Little Whinging's small downtown was shabby and in disrepair. Even the bed and breakfast they were staying in had holes in the carpet.
Inside the drugstore, the cracked tile under the door read WELCOME TO REDD'S, though now it was just a Fast-Mart. The man behind the laminate counter wasn't surprised to see Draco there. His bushy eyebrows appeared momentarily from over his newspaper, then he murmured, "'Lo Mr. Malfoy."
Draco, now recovered from his sprint, strode over to the counter and threw a Sickle down on the cracked countertop.
"Righ'" the man said, and without looking, tossed Draco a pack of cigarettes and took up the silver coin. His head once again disappeared behind the Daily Prophet.
Draco pulled out a cigarette and lit it with a lighter from his pocket. Taking a long drag, he immediately felt a bit better. He leaned against the counter.
"Anything new, Frank?" he asked the man, blowing smoke into the air. There was no one else in the shop, so for once the two could speak freely.
"Nothing." said Frank, "About 'bout that Diggory boy. There was one thing in the Muggle newspaper, 'ere..." Frank dug around under the counter and produced a Muggle newspaper, The Weekly Journal. "…something about Harry Potter."
Draco took the paper from him and read the title of the small article: LOCAL BOY SUSPECTED OF VIOLENCE. The paragraph that followed described several heinous acts committed against local kids, which were all blamed on the odd boy that resided at Number 4, Privet Drive. Acquaintances spoke of the boy's behavior, describing it as erratic, violent, and abnormal. His guardians, his aunt and uncle, had no comment on the issue.
Draco looked up at Frank with one eyebrow raised, disbelieving, his cigarette hanging loosely from his mouth.
"That's what I thought." Frank said with a chuckle, "Famous 'Arry Potter and gang violence dun seem to go together, do they?"
Draco grinned, holding back laughter, "Well I hope it's true."
Frank's grin turned to a frown, "Why you think that? Harry Potter is a honorable soul, good to people like me, to Squibs-"
"I know," Draco said, trying to calm Frank down, "I don't know why I thought that."
Frank was still looking at him funny when Draco turned and left, striding out the door with his cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Stepping out onto the pavement into the grimy morning light, Draco put on his sunglasses and stuffed on his cap, which hid all of his platinum blond hair from view. He also shed his long, button down dress shirt for the plain white t-shirt underneath. Hopefully, if his parents were looking for him, they wouldn't recognize him. He dropped his cigarette on the ground, and crushed it with his trainer.
Then Draco started walking. He had done this several times during the week he had spent downtown here, but not like this. He strode straight out of downtown, walking and walking, miles and miles. Soon the downtown streets turned into dreary suburban houses, neighborhoods where houses were considered unique when they had a different colored roof than the others. The monotony could drive any man crazy.
Draco turned on a street called Magnolia Crescent, then, after a few more blocks, found himself in a large field, with a rusty entrance gate reading "Magnolia Recreational Field". Part of the field had been mowed down to make a playground, with rusty equipment whose paint was peeling under the now-blazing summer sun. Another part had been paved to make a basketball court. Draco could see the heat radiating from the blacktop. Hard, rusty metal bleachers covered in graffiti ran on three sides of the court.
Draco quickly began walking towards the bleachers. Settling himself down on one of the graffitied seats, he pulled out another cigarette and took a big drag. Boy, was it hot outside.
Looking up, Draco saw another person walking towards the bleachers. Draco couldn't make out what they looked like, but he watched them nevertheless. Their stride was confident, as if they had come this way many times before. Then they looked up and saw Draco, and stopped.
Draco imagined how he would look to anyone else. His hat and sunglasses masked his face almost entirely (his sunglasses being rather large), and his plain white t-shirt matched with long, black pants made him probably look menacing. Under the sun, he could imagine his pale skin glinting in the light, he had never been tan, but Draco had to admit, he was tall for his age, and all his Quidditch training had made him lean yet muscular. Despite this, after only a moment's hesitation, the unknown person continued towards the basketball court. Draco watched intently as they came into view. Then he had to keep himself from gasping.
It was Harry Potter.
Potter was dressed in a blue zip-up jacket that did not coincide with the weather, blue jeans, and black Converse hi-tops which the soles were trying to part from. His black hair was untidy as it usually was and the glasses which shaded his piercing green eyes were taped in the middle with Scotch tape. For a second Draco wondered why he didn't fix them, then he remembered they were not allowed to use magic outside school. He reached in his deep pants pocket, where his wand was hidden next to the pack of cigarettes. It was useless.
But for some reason Draco did not feel like fighting with Potter. He watched as Potter glanced at him, then at the cigarette in his hand, then sat down on the other side of the bleachers. Draco realized that this was probably a routine, and he was interfering with it. Draco also realized that his hat and sunglasses were totally effective of masking his identity. Potter had no idea who he was. Draco had a strange desire to talk to Potter. But would he recognize him immediately? Draco puffed on his cigarette nervously, agitated.
All this time Potter had been watching him warily. Suddenly Potter stiffened, then got up and started walking quickly towards the playground. For a moment Draco thought he had been recognized, but then he turned around and saw that a large band of boys were walking towards the field, heading straight for Potter.
Draco's mind whirled. Was Potter actually a criminal, who knocked down kids with his huge gang? Draco watched the group carefully. Despite Potter's fast pace, the group of boys caught up with him. Draco noticed, seeing both Potter and the boys together, most of them were much larger than he was, especially the one in front, the leader. He had to be about the size of a young polar bear, Draco guessed.
As Draco continued watching, he saw the lead boy begin talking to Potter. Potter retorted, and some of the boys laughed. The big boy stepped forward and poked Potter in the chest, but Potter stood his ground. Draco realized now; Potter was not the criminal, he was the victim.
Suddenly Draco was seized with the weirdest sensation of his life, one that could, quite possibly, change his life. He was angry. Why were those boys picking on Potter? What had he done? Draco stood up abruptly, threw down his cigarette, then strode across the field towards where the confrontation was taking place.
He walked quietly through the tall grass, and didn't seem to be noticed by either party. He listened intently, and could hear what the lead boy was saying.
"Have you been reading the papers lately, Potter?" he asked tauntingly, "I didn't know you were taking credit for our work."
Potter didn't say anything, so the boy continued, "Trying to take the limelight, Potter? Well, go right ahead. Hope that ends you up in prison. Your whole family was losers."
"Shut up, Dudley." Potter said in a low voice. The boys behind Dudley laughed.
"Whatcha gonna do, Potter?" Dudley taunted, "Hurt me like you hurt all them other boys?"
Draco couldn't stand it anymore. He strode right up to the group. Dudley and his group stepped backwards at his arrival, but Potter stood his ground, watching Draco suspiciously.
Draco looked away from Potter, for some reason having him look at him like that made him nervous, then he spoke. His voice was more confident than he actually felt.
"What's going on here, boys?" he said, his voice full of authority. Dudley's group seemed extremely surprised.
"Fight, is it?" Draco asked flexing his muscles menacingly, "Five against one. Seems hardly fair."
Dudley's group seemed afraid that Draco was going to join in.
"I suggest," Draco said, in a low, menacing voice, "That you all clear out now, before somebody gets in trouble." His tone was one of superiority and maturity.
And the boys did clear out. Potter, however, did not. He turned to Draco, his arms folded.
"Thanks." He said, in a clearly grudging voice.
"For what?" Draco asked, trying not to meet Potter's green eyes. They made him uncomfortable.
"For that. They're annoying." Potter said, with a gesture towards the group's retreating backs.
"Hmmm." Draco said. He was getting the feeling Potter was getting ready to leave, but he didn't want him to, yet. So he strode over to the swing set and sat down, with an air that made Potter follow. "You come over here often?" Draco asked as he sat down.
"Yeah, I guess so." Potter said, leaning up against the swing set pole. Draco got the feeling that Potter was staying standing up so that if the need arose, he could run. Fast.
"Do you live around here?" Draco asked, that being the first question he would ask Potter if he had never met him before.
"Yeah, really close. Privet Drive." Potter replied, then after a second added, "You?"
"Around." Draco said vaguely. He didn't want to say he lived far, far away in a manor full of peacocks.
"Mmm." Harry murmured, looking out over the field towards where Dudley's gang were still beating a hasty retreat.
Draco licked his lips, for some reason they were dry. He reached in his pocket for the cigarettes. Pulling one out for himself, he offered them to Potter. He shook his head.
"Don't smoke?" Draco asked, though he knew the answer already.
"No." Potter replied shortly.
"Wish I didn't." Draco said truthfully, "Can't help it, though."
There was a short pause in the conversation while Draco lit his cigarette, and took a puff. He was careful to blow it away from Potter.
"My name's Harry." Potter said suddenly, surprising Draco. Draco had usually thought that Potter was overly careful. But now he was recklessly introducing himself to someone he thought he barely knew. Potter offered him his hand.
His mind working fast, Draco said, "My name's Drake." He reached out and shook Potter's hand, but they both let go quickly. Draco looked away. For some reason, shaking Potter's hand had felt like an electric shock.
"So, Drake," Potter said, sticking his hands in his pockets, "What school do you go to?"
Draco's heart began hammering. This was the one question he could not answer. Why did Potter have to bring this up? His mind worked fast.
"None at the moment." he said, "It's summer."
Potter rolled his eyes, "I know that, but where will you be going this fall?"
Draco thought fast, "I don't know yet, because we just moved here and we haven't really looked into that yet. What about you?"
Potter seemed to be thinking just as fast as he did, "St. Brutus's."
Draco smiled, "The detention center? You don't seem like that kind of guy." he took a large drag on his cigarette.
Potter's return smile was crooked, "Not really."
The sun went behind the clouds, and it seemed to get cooler as a breeze blew the field's grass all in one direction, like combing hair. Draco raised his face to the wind, as it seemed to wash his face of the sweat from his walk out here. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Potter sliding down the swing set pole to sit on the ground.
Draco realized it was getting late. "Won't your parents be wondering where you are?" he asked, trying to play dumb. Then, to his extreme horror, he remembered that this was the question that had sent Potter away from him in the first place. Back in Madam Malkin's.
"They're dead." Potter said shortly, looking away, across the field, at the clouds.
"Sorry." Draco said, and this time, he made sure he meant it. And he did. He wished Potter had had parents to take care of him.
"What about yours?" Potter asked, still not looking at Draco.
Draco laughed without humor, making Potter look at him, his green eyes piercing again. "If I hadn't made such an uproar while I left, they wouldn't have noticed I was gone." Draco said.
"I'm sorry." Potter said, and it sounded like he meant it, too.
"S'ok." Draco said, "Who do you live with, then? If you don't mind me asking."
"My Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, and cousin, Dudley." Potter said, with obvious distaste, "You've met him already."
"The polar bear?" Draco asked, surprised. That made Potter laugh, and for some reason, this made Draco feel funny. Happy. He had made Potter laugh, a carefree sound that ran along the wind to the beat of Draco's pounding heart.
"Are all the rest of them as cuddly as he is?" Draco asked, after Potter had hushed a bit.
"Uncle Vernon even more so." Potter said, grinning.
"And I thought my parents were bad." Draco said, "They just shout at each other twenty-four-seven and forget my birthdays."
"They forgot your birthday?" Potter asked, disbelieving.
"It's today." Draco said, feeling a lump form in his throat, "I'm fifteen today."
"Wow." Potter said in a hushed voice, "I'm sorry. If it makes you feel any better, my aunt and uncle have given me tissues and coat hangers for my past three birthdays."
Draco half-smiled, "That does help."
Potter glanced down at his watch, "I'd better go anyways. They won't keep dinner for me if it meant their salvation."
Draco laughed, but he really didn't find that funny, plus he didn't want Potter to go. He stood up as Potter did. Potter once again stuck out his hand.
"Nice meeting you, Drake." Potter said.
Draco reached out and shook, as once more the electric sensation took over his body. When he let go, he replied, "You too, Harry."
Then Potter turned, and started walking across the field. Draco sat back down on the swing. What was going on? Why was Potter walking back into his life? He certainly needed to get out of here, and fast. Convince his parents to go back to the manor. Anything to keep away from this weird situation, which made him feel so... strange.
But then, from far away at the edge of the field, Draco heard someone call out his name. Or something close to it.
"Happy Birthday!" Potter called at him, before turning and walking down Magnolia Crescent.
And Draco knew he had to stay.
Draco sat in the park for a lot longer than he realized. It was 11 o'clock at night by the time he arrived at the B&B, and he knew he was dead. His parents were going to kill him. As he stood outside the building, puffing on his last cigarette, he wondered if he would ever see the sky again. He looked at the twinkling stars and sighed.
What game was fate playing? Tossing Harry Potter into his life again after all these years, giving Draco a second chance at friendship with the boy he had always regretted having as an enemy. And a boy that had always toyed with his emotions. Every time Harry Potter was around Draco seemed to get this weird feeling, which usually resulted in him insulting Potter and making him walk away again. And the moment after he disappeared, Draco always regretted it.
Draco tore his eyes away from the Christmas light stars and chucked his cigarette into the trash bin he was leaning against. Might as well not postpone the inevitable. Spinning on his heel, he strode into the hotel.
The receptionist seemed extremely surprised and relieved to see him. He pretended not to notice as she reached for the phone on her desk. He punched the button on the elevator as she dialed. The doors opened, and he stepped into the threadbare elevator.
Punching level five, he waited. The old Beatles song, "Eleanor Rigby" was playing.
"Aahhh look at all the lonely people..."
Draco tapped his foot as the numbers flashed above the door. Finally, with the cliché ding, the door opened. Well, here goes… thought Draco absently as he opened the hotel door.
The next day, Draco woke up very late. Probably around 11:30. Of course, he and his parents had stayed up late in the night, having another one of those "family talks". Brilliant. This morning, his mother had gone out to meet some of her friends in a nearby shopping village, which apparently sold "the most adorable decorations ever". His father was going to another meeting, so Draco really had the day to himself again. He had insisted last night that they not change their plans for him. He said he had plans as well. And he did.
Draco swung himself out of bed. After a quick shower he felt all clean. Then he looked himself in the mirror.
Potter was bound to notice something if Draco didn't get a better disguise. Wearing the hat and sunglasses all the time might make Potter suspicious. At the moment, though, he was running late, and he didn't have much time to pore over his disguise. Pulling on his cap, and his sunglasses, he left the hotel. Standing in front of the door, he tried to remember which way he went before. He strode down the street, towards the drugstore. He paused in front of it, thinking. Looking in the window, he saw a very conveniently placed poster in the window.
Yes, fate is being weird these days.
"Hair Dye, only 2.50 pounds"
Grinning, Draco turned in to the drugstore.
Frank looked up from a magazine entitled "Quickspell: Does It Work?".
"What'll it be today, Mr. Malfoy?" he asked gruffly.
"What colors does that hair dye come in?" Draco asked quickly, jerking his thumb in the general direction of the window.
Frank's bushy red eyebrows almost disappeared underneath his red bangs this time.
"Well, uhm, auburn, the usual brown, black, platinum blonde, and honey, I believe."
"Which one do you recommend?" Draco asked, with a grin.
Frank smiled, showing more gaps in his mouth than teeth, "Well, the brown's selling more than the others, so that one's preferable-"
"Sure, sure," Draco said, "I'll take that."
After getting his hair dye, Draco asked, as an afterthought, "How do you put this stuff on?"
"Rub it in, I guess." Frank said. Now that Draco was done buying, he had gone back to his magazine.
Rolling his eyes, Draco asked, "May I use your restroom?"
"Second door down the hall." Frank replied, not looking up.
Draco went down the dirty hall, which was cluttered with mop buckets and boxes, then entered the men's restroom. Locking the door, he turned around. The room was barely big enough to stand in; the toilet took up half the room. But there was a mirror and a sink, so Draco set to the very new process of learning how to color his hair.
The box had very specific instructions, and Draco followed them carefully. He lathered the formula into his hair, trying not to laugh at himself. Who would have thought: Draco Malfoy, in the back of a dingy drugstore, dying his hair so that Harry Potter wouldn't know who he was. The world was a strange place.
Draco put some hair color on his eyebrows as well. After a few moments, he washed it out, but the color stayed in. He looked in the dirty mirror and almost laughed at himself. His hair was brown. Putting on his sunglasses, he did laugh. He would never recognize him if he told himself he was him. If that made sense.
When Draco left the drugstore, now hatless, sporting his new head of hair, he felt like a new man. He wasn't Draco Malfoy anymore. He was anyone he wanted to be.
Draco ran practically all the way to Magnolia Crescent. Stopping at its crossing, he slowly walked towards the park.
Sure enough, Draco could see someone sitting on the spinner, rocking their legs so that it went back and forth. Grinning in satisfaction, Draco whistled a tune as he walked leisurely over to where Potter was sitting.
"Fancy meeting you here." Draco said jokingly, as he walked up to Potter.
Potter looked up quickly, so quickly that Draco didn't even see his face at all. Then he spun the spinner so that he was facing away from Draco.
For a moment, Draco didn't know what to do. Did Potter know who he was? Did he not recognize him? Draco walked around the spinner to where Potter was sitting, his head almost in his lap.
"What's up, dude?" Draco asked concernedly, "What's wrong?"
"Go away." Potter said in a small voice, and, to Draco's surprise, childishly hid his head in his knees.
"Hey." Draco said softly, sitting down on the ground next to Potter. Potter immediately spun the spinner again, so he was far away from Draco. Annoyed, Draco pulled the spinner rails, so that Potter, despite scuffing his Converse against the ground, came to rest by him again.
"I don't even know you." Potter said, trying to spin back around again, without much success. He still hadn't looked up.
"Well I'd like to know you." Draco said. He didn't know what made him say it, but he realized it was the truth. He wanted to know Harry Potter, the real Harry Potter.
Despite himself, Potter looked up in surprise. What Draco saw was that Potter had been crying. Draco could hardly believe it. The famous Harry Potter, who had been through anything and everything, crying? Potter looked quickly back down again.
"Was it the polar bears?" Draco asked, in a hushed voice.
Potter didn't say anything.
Draco cursed, "You know what I'm going to do next time I see that little-?" He went off, shuffling in his pockets for a cigarette as he spoke.
"Don't." Potter said, his voice quiet and broken.
"You're not defending that, that idiot?" Draco asked, incredulously.
"No." Potter said, "I'm saying don't." Potter pointed at the cigarette Draco was now about to light.
Draco stared at him, then smiled. "Okay." He said, stuffing it back in his pocket, "Happy?"
For a moment Potter stared at him, then looked down, "No."
Draco scooted closer to Potter across the grass. He seemed pulled toward the other boy. "What is it?" he whispered.
Potter bit his lip.
"It's... difficult..." he stammered.
"I think I can keep up." Draco coaxed.
Potter put his head in his hands for a moment, then spoke again.
"Have you ever had anyone get... hurt right next to you, when you could have done something about it?" he asked.
For a moment Draco was stunned. Potter must be talking about Cedric Diggory. Draco had never realized how traumatic that would probably be for hero Potter, not being able to help someone when he should have.
"What happened?" Draco asked in a hushed voice.
Potter shook his head quickly. A small sniffle escaped.
"Hey, man." Draco said, laying a reassuring hand on Potter's shoulder, but removing it just as quickly. The electricity between their skin made him shiver, even under the hot sun. Draco regretted their closeness for a moment, but then saw a one small tear trickle down Potter's face, and he was glad he was there.
They sat quietly for a moment, while Potter wiped his nose. After his sniffling had stopped, he turned to Draco.
"Why are you here?"
Draco raised his eyebrows, "Well, I had so much fun yesterday, scaring off bullies and having fascinating conversations, I just couldn't keep myself away. This visit has been a lot less fun, though."
Potter laughed, then said, "Then, what do you suggest we do to make this day as full of fascinating conversations and bullies as yesterday?"
"I was thinking," Draco said, getting inspiration at that moment by looking across the field to the neighboring buildings, "we could go into that small soda fountain over there, and if bullying does not arrive there, we can always take up fascinating conversations."
"Ok." Potter said, and they up, dusted their pants, and crossed the field. Draco led the way into the little soda fountain, where a man behind the counter greeted them with a welcoming smile.
After a few minutes, they were both sucking happily on two chocolate milkshakes, and all the dark memories no longer clouded Potter's emerald eyes. Perched on their barstools they slurped loudly, then laughed at each other's faces, covered in milkshake. Draco wondered whether Potter thought it was weird that Draco didn't take his sunglasses off. But Potter didn't seem to notice.
Draco could see Potter, as they started to finish their shakes, start digging in his pockets, frowning. Before he could do anything, Draco dug in his pockets for some of his Muggle money. He paid for both shakes.
Then they both ran off, back to the park, where they spun on the spinner like five year olds, Draco running, while Potter stood in the middle, trying not to be sick. After about five minutes, Potter collapsed, laughing hoarsely, and Draco hopped on the spinner next to him.
"You're c-crazy, Drake," Potter laughed, his dizzy eyes hardly finding Draco.
"It was your idea." Draco accused exhaustedly. The spinner was still spinning, and he was getting dizzy too. Was it because he was dizzy though? Potter was awfully close to him.
Potter stood up as Draco thought this, and tried to get off the spinner. He ended up face-planting in the grass.
Laughing, Draco bailed too, landing next to him, laughing.
"You're crazy, Harry." Draco said, the name slipping off his tongue before he could think.
"I know," Harry said, still face down in the grass. Then he turned to Draco, his head propped up by his elbow, pieces of grass littering his hair like confetti. "You know, I've never met anyone like you."
"Really?" asked Draco, looking away, pretending to dusting off the legs of his jeans.
"Yeah. Most of the time it takes me a really long time to be friends with people."
"Hhm." Draco said, noncommittally. Unfortunately, Harry had met someone very like him.
Then Harry looked at his watch. "Well, what do you want to do now?"
Draco lay down on his back and looked up at the pristine sky. At the moment, he couldn't think of anything he wanted to do. He was pretty content where he was.
"Hmmm..." Harry said, his brow crinkled with thought.
Draco watched Harry's face carefully. He couldn't believe Harry truly wanted to spend time with him. This was nuts. If Draco was himself, Harry wouldn't have even talked to him. What am I saying? Draco asked himself I AM myself. Harry likes ME.
Draco stared up at the sky again and heaved a contented sigh. "Who says we have to do anything?"
For a few minutes they lay there in silence, staring at the sky. Draco could've sworn he saw a cloud shaped like his old house elf, Dobby, and he almost told Harry this, but stopped himself just in time. Draco licked his lips. He needed a smoke. He pulled the cigarettes out of his pocket and lit one, without looking at Harry. He could feel the green eyes watching him reproachfully. Finally Draco looked at Harry.
"Sorry." he said, seeing Harry's disappointed expression, "I can't help it. I haven't had one all day."
Harry wrinkled his nose. "How many do you usually have?" he asked.
"Quite a lot." Draco said ashamedly.
"Your parents let you?" Harry asked in amazement.
"Yeah." Draco said, blowing smoke out his mouth, "They pretty much let me do anything I want, s'long as it's not illegal."
"Sounds nice." Harry said, and Draco was surprised to hear the note of longing in Harry's voice. Harry was a goody-two-shoes, never put a toenail out of line. But now he seemed like he wanted to do something. Anything.
Draco put away hiscigarette. For some reason, he didn't feel like smoking anymore. He looked up at the sky again. In his peripheral vision, he could see Harry's glasses glint as he did the same.
"What time is it?" Draco asked.
Harry checked his ever-present watch then frowned, "I dunno. Why?" he asked.
"Because I think bullying time just started."
As if on cue, they could suddenly hear heavy footsteps striding through the grass. Draco quickly bounded up onto his feet, and to his surprise, Harry was already on his feet beside him. Sure enough, lumbering through the thick grass like a herd of rhinos, was Dudley's gang.
Dudley's piggy eyes were fixed warily on Draco. Draco grinned confidently at the group, as if they were playing right into his hands. He could tell this made Dudley uncomfortable because his small beady pupils began to dilate rapidly. The group was finally only feet away, and Dudley halted its procession simply by stopping in his tracks. The smarter boys only slightly bumped into the people in front of them, unfortunately some of the ones in the back were lacking brains so the sudden stop sent them catapulting into the grass. Draco had to keep himself from laughing.
"So, Potter," Lead Polar Bear Dudley started out, a sneer curling his mouth, "Who you got here? Your new boyfriend?"
Some of the boys let out a chorus huh-huh-huhs.
"Why don't you speak to me, Duddy boy?" Draco taunted, "Afraid?"
Dudley's pupils were larger as he said, "No. Of course not."
The boys behind them had stopped laughing.
"You're messing up our routine."Dudley finally said, after a pregnant pause.
"You come around here often, then?" Draco asked, with a falsetto polite voice.
"This is our territory!" Dudley said, "And you're messing it up!"
"Come on, Dodders." Draco said, "Can't you tolerate other people? I've noticed you haven't been tolerating Harry here."
"Oh, yes." Dudley guffawed, "Potter's sort of our territory too. He's our punching bag." The boys chuckled.
"Is that so?" Draco said, but this time his voice was cold as ice. Fury at this injustice was making his blood boil. He realized Harry hadn't said a thing.
"Yes, that's so. What are you, his new bodyguard?" Dudley asked teasingly.
"No." Harry suddenly spoke, and Draco noticed Dudley flinch. This made Draco realize that Dudley knew about Harry's magical abilities, "I can take care of myself, thanks." Draco could sense the underlying threat in Harry's words.
The groups stared at each other, Dudley at Harry, Draco at Dudley. Then, suddenly, Dudley lunged.
Draco barely dodged Dudley's first punch, but he was able to land a good solid one in Dudley's gut before Dudley pushed him down to the grass. Draco heard Harry, somewhere. Draco whacked at every humanoid shape that neared him. He was definitely at the upper hand, even though he was fighting about three boys at once, including Dudley.
Then, just as suddenly, Dudley's face suddenly changed. It went from red and concentrated to white and shocked. He keeled over, falling onto the grass. The rest of his group stood frozen, not exactly sure what they were supposed to do, and then they scattered.
Draco saw Harry standing behind Dudley, his fist clenched and a surprised look on his face.
"Nice improvising." Draco complimented him.
Harry shrugged, "Nothing to it." But his goofy smile gave his excitement away.
It took the two of them to pick Dudley up, and it was even harder when it came to carrying him. But somehow Draco found himself helping Harry drag the unconscious and very heavy Dudley to his house.
Rounding the corner onto Privet Drive, only a few houses later they stopped. Number four, Privet Drive, the mailbox stated. The Dursleys.
"Do you want me to help you carry him in?" Draco asked as they rested by the curb.
"Nah." Harry said, "I can manage. Besides, I don't think you want to be here when the bomb explodes."
Draco nodded, showing he understood. He pulled Dudley's limp arm from around his shoulders and helped Harry balance the new weight.
"Well, I'll see you." Draco said after he finished.
"Yeah. Bye." Harry said, with a faint smile.
With a parting smile in return, Draco turned and walked down Privet Drive, looking back only once when he heard a loud screech from Number four:
"DUDDERS! WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM, YOU DEPRAVED BOY?"
Sighing, Draco continued down the street.
It had been three days. What could have happened?
Draco paced his hotel room, biting his fingernail thoughtfully. Three days since he had seen Harry Potter disappear into the Dursley's house. Hadn't seen him since. He hadn't been at the park, or anywhere. Could they have killed him?
Draco knew he was jumping to conclusions, but it felt like forever since he had seen his latest obsession. Three, painful, long days. Only three days.
Then Draco made an abrupt decision. Throwing on some ripped cargo shorts, his tennis shoes, and a black t-shirt, not to mention his sunglasses, he stomped out of the B&B onto the street.
It seemed like a short walk to Privet Drive after the last five days of walking it. But by the time he got there he was drenched in sweat from the sweltering June heat.
Finding number four, he stared at the house suspiciously. No car in the driveway. What was today? Monday? Yes, that was right. The man, Vernon, would be at work, and the Dud would be out "having tea". No telling where the Aunt was.
Suddenly Draco saw movement out of a front upstairs window. He peered closer at it. He knew that profile. Harry was near the windowsill, his beautiful snowy owl Hedwig on his arm.
Bending down, Draco picked up a small rock from the Dursley's perfectly manicured lawn and tossed it at the window. It made a loud ping but did not scratch the glass. Harry's form behind the glass jumped, and the bird flew off his arm and out of view in surprise.
Draco waved his arms as Harry turned towards him. Draco could see Harry had his hands and his nose pressed against the window. Harry waved also, then held up a finger. Within seconds, his form had disappeared.
Draco was confused for a moment, but his confusion didn't last long. Number four's front door opened and Harry stepped out, wearing dark blue jeans and a grey pajama shirt.
"Hi." he said, blinking in the sunlight. His skin looked sallow and pale, like he had been inside for a while.
"What's up?" Draco asked him walking over to the door.
"I'm grounded for hitting Dudley." Harry said blandly.
"Oh, that sucks. Sorry, man." Draco said, a sinking feeling growing in his stomach, "For how long?"
"They didn't really get to that part." Harry said with a twisted smile.
"Well, I'm sorry." Draco said, just to say something else. He stuck his hands in his pockets and pushed one of his fingers through a hole in one of them. There was an uncomfortable silence.
"I'd better go before Aunt Petunia comes back." Harry finally said.
"Sure, yeah." Draco said, "Um, see you, then."
"Yeah." Harry said.
They stood there for a second, Draco teetering on the brink of saying something else, but then he heard a sound from behind his Harry's eyes grew huge behind his glasses.
"Bye." Harry said as he ducked back into the door.
"Bye!" Draco yelled back as he turned and raced down the sidewalk, narrowly missing the shiny car that drove up into number four's driveway. Draco continued running, even when he heard Harry's uncle roar after him, "What the hell are you doing on my property?"
Running away gave Draco the most delicious free feeling, and he reveled in it. He just wished Harry was free too, to share it with him.
How things have changed, Draco thought to himself, last week I couldn't have cared less about Harry Potter. Now... we're almost friends.
But Draco knew he was lying to himself.
They were friends.
That evening Draco sat in a small cafe, in a dingy old booth that had the vinyl coming off of the seats. His parents wouldn't be home until around one o'clock, they had a banquet to go to. So Draco had been left to fend for himself. But that was all right, he was used to it.
"Here you are, sir." said the curvy young waitress as she sat his dinner down in front of him, "If you need anything else, you let me know." She winked before turning away and walking into the kitchen.
As Draco dug in to his supper, his thoughts were not where any normal teenage boy's would have been: wandering around with that curvy waitress. No, Draco was of course thinking about his new best friend.
He wondered what Harry was having for dinner. He looked down at his fish and chips. Did the Dursleys let him roam the house, or was he stuck in his room? Why didn't Harry get the hell out of there before now? Go live with friends or something.
Thinking of Potter's friends made Draco frown. Granger, who was Miss Know-it-all at everything, always loving to show off her smarty-pants to the entire class. It infuriated Draco. He was very smart, but he couldn't compete with that Granger girl.
Then there was Weasley. Where could Draco start? Weasley was a sarcastic idiot. Every time he opened his mouth he put his foot in it. He knew that he was extremely selfish, (his displays around the Yule ball last year had spoken for him) and that he was immature and rude. He was poor, yet he hung out with Harry, probably hoping to strike it rich when Harry inevitably kicked the bucket.
Draco looked down and found he was squashing his fish under his fork. He put his fork down. He wasn't hungry any more. He signaled the waitress, who came over in a hurry. He paid her, then left, with her staring regretfully after him.
Before Draco really had a plan, he was hurrying down another street, towards the drugstore. Striding inside, he saw Frank selling a newspaper to a large, buff man. When Frank saw Draco, he grinned.
"What you doin' up so late, Mr. Malfoy?" he asked, as his patron paid and left.
"What time is it?" Draco asked, leaning against the counter.
"Round midnight. Don't your mummy and daddy care where you are at this time of night?"
"Ha ha." Draco said, scanning the store. Moon Pies, check. Crisps, check. Mmm...chocolate.
"What are you lookin' for?" Frank asked, pulling a cigar from his pocket and fixing it on his tongue.
Draco didn't answer, and he didn't have to. In a couple of minutes, he had rounded up two large bags of crisps, four Moon Pies, and several different kinds of candy. As an afterthought, he bought a six pack of Coca-Cola.
"Having a party?" Frank asked, his eyebrows customarily disappearing under his bangs.
"Sure." Draco said, as the cash register clanked.
Frank sucked on his cigar thoughtfully as Draco passed him the appropriate amount of gold.
"Y'know, boy," he said, as Draco picked up his plastic THANK YOU bag, "You seem like a pretty good kid."
"Uhm, thanks I guess." Draco said, with a grin to the old man.
"No, what I mean is..." Frank blew some smoke out his nose, "Y'ever need anything, I'm always here. I live behind the shop."
Draco stared at the old man. "Thank you." he said, taking his things, "That means a lot."
Frank grinned toothlessly at him, his cigar hanging out of the side of his mouth, and he stuck out his hand. Smiling faintly also, Draco shook it, feeling its frail power.
Privet Drive at night was just as normal and suburban as it was in the light of day. Several streetlamps dotted the deserted street, making patches of light here and there. Draco stole stealthily down the sidewalk, his plastic THANK YOU bag held carefully by his side.
Finally he arrived at Number four. There were no lights on, but Draco thought he could see a faint glow from behind the curtains of the window he had seen Harry from.
Then Draco was faced with a dilemma that his hasty plan had not accounted for.
The stupid suburban home did not have any decent size trees around the house, nor were there any large bushes. Just a bed of flowers below the living room window. The open living room window.
No way, thought Draco. It can't be that easy. He padded his way across the lawn. Yes, the window was open. He quickly slid it open further, silently, carefully, then he slipped inside the house.
The living room was average looking, with tons of pictures littered on the mantle, coffee table, and on top of the TV. Draco noticed that the majority of them were of Dudley, and that they ranged from a pig with a mop of blonde hair, to the ugly git Draco knew. Draco looked over the pictures on the mantle. None were of Harry. The complete mistreatment Harry had suffered all his life suddenly made Draco's heart ache. Draco couldn't imagine the day he would feel so sorry for Harry James Potter, but now he was.
Tearing his eyes away from a photo of Dudley at a boxing game, waving from the stands to someone below (in the photo Draco could see half a figure standing several feet away that might have been Harry), Draco made his way around the kitchen and into a hallway. Clutching his plastic bag, without thinking whether this was a good idea or not, Draco began to slither silently up the stairs.
Only halfway up, Draco could hear a chorus of snores, which sounded like two whales during mating season. He put his ear to one door.
"No, no, get away from me..." Draco could hear the voice of Dudley, murmuring in between snores. Draco had to suppress his sniggers. Not so tough now, are you Dudders?
The next door was open, it was the bathroom, then there was the parent's bedroom (one snore told Draco that) and then there was another bedroom, completely untouched and unslept in. Draco supposed it was a room for company, and plodded on. There was only one door left. Draco put his ear to it, didn't hear anything, then slowly turned the knob. It didn't budge. He looked down at it. The door had a lock on the outside. Now Draco knew this was Harry's room. Unlocking the door, he slowly inched it open...
Harry wasn't there. Draco swung the door open, surprised and flabbergasted. Draco could tell Harry had been there, though, the dingy little bed was unmade, looking as if Harry had just gotten up from it, and there were books and newspapers scattered all around. What struck Draco most was how Muggle Harry's room looked. His Firebolt was tucked behind an armoire, his school trunk was shut and locked, and all the Daily Prophets which were stacked on his untidy desk were face down, so that the moving pictures couldn't be seen.
Draco sighed, disappointed, and sat down in the seat by the desk, near the window rubbing his forehead tiredly. Harry's beautiful snowy owl, which Draco had always admired, was not in its cage, which stood ajar. Draco's eyes slid out the window.
There was a figure standing on the curb, a dark figure Draco couldn't recognize because of the fog on the window, which he couldn't wipe away because it was on the outside. Draco peered at it, scrunching up his eyes.
It was Harry, his arm extended out, up into the night, his owl perched on it. He looked like a ghost, a dream, in his pajamas, barely lit by the streetlamps. His skin glowed in the light of the street lamp, and his slender body curved gracefully. It struck Draco what the word he was looking for to describe him was.
"Beautiful." Draco whispered.
Harry Potter was beautiful.
As Draco thought that the owl took flight from Harry's arm, screeching, soaring into the night and out of the light of the streetlamp. And Harry turned, his glasses glinting in the faint light, back towards the house.
For a second, Draco panicked. What would Harry think of having Draco in his room uninvited?
Harry was pausing on the sidewalk, staring up at the sky. Draco made a quick decision. He stealthily hurried down the hallway, then down the stairs, quick as he could without waking the Muggles. He strode swiftly through the unhealthily sterile kitchen and tugged open the back door, striding out into the moonlit backyard. Quickly, he made his way around to the front of the house, without being conspicuous.
Harry was nowhere in sight. Draco stood on the sidewalk, perplexed. The door to the house was still wide open, so Draco knew Harry must still be somewhere outside.
Draco looked down Privet Drive both ways. Nothing but nothing. But then, wait! There! Movement near a trash bin parked outside number seven, which was across the street and a few doors down. Looking around, Draco hid his bag under a bush and
strode over to the bin, his hand clutching his wand in his pocket reassuringly.
Draco recognized the pajama'd legs from a distance, even though that was all he could see of Harry at the moment. The rest of the boy was hidden inside the trash bin, and he was on his tiptoes to get all the way into the extra-large can.
"Well, hello." Draco said fondly.
Harry's head shot out of the bin like a rocket, his emerald eyes, behind his glasses, round and surprised. There were bits and pieces of trash in his tousled hair, and his pajama shirt had a mysterious brown stain on it.
"Whoa. Hi," Harry said, straightening his glasses and blinking several times, "What are you doing here?"
"What are you doing?" Draco countered, "Gold mining?"
Harry shook out his hair and combed it to the side with his fingers, so it was out of his eyes, "Nothing."
Draco's eyes crinkled up into a smile.
"What do you do, stalk me?" Harry asked, squinting into Draco's face, was there something wrong with his glasses?, Draco wondered.
The boys stood there for a second, then Draco held up a finger.
"Just a sec."
He turned around and returned to where he had left the bag. When he came back carrying it, Harry was cleaning his glasses on his shirt. Draco snagged them out of Harry's hand and stuck them in his breast pocket.
"Let's go." he said, as he continued walking.
"What the heck, man?" Harry said, squinting and following, "What was that for? I need those!"
Draco realized he was still wearing his own sunglasses, and he quickly took them off and stowed them on the front of his shirt. Harry couldn't see his face clearly without his glasses, and even if he had them, it was very dark.
"What are we doing?" asked Harry, sounding annoyed at the theft of his eyes.
Draco grinned at the way Harry said 'we'. He wasn't upset that Draco came and found him. And he wanted to hang out with him.
"Just come on." Draco said, trying not to let his happiness show.
Harry rubbed his head sleepily, still squinting a little. "Lead on, Mr. Randomocity." he said, yawning.
The two trudged through the darkness, Draco leading, Harry following close behind.
Finally, unsurprisingly, they reached the park, which was lit up with blue light which glowed from the moon, which was large overhead. The overgrown grass swayed in the breeze, looking like seaweed on the bottom of the Black Lake.
Draco sat down in a patch of not-so-tall grass. Harry joined him, squinting suspiciously at Draco's plastic bag.
"Chill, dude." Draco said, smiling a little at Harry's expression, "All it is food."
Draco tossed Harry a bag of crisps and a Coke, and Harry gratefully caught them easily, his Seeker's skill not deterred by the loss of his eyesight.
"What are you, my savior?" he asked, as he tore the crisps open and started munching hungrily.
Draco just grinned in answer.
"You know," Harry said after a moment of satisfied eating, "The Dursleys make me follow Dudley's weight loss plan. You wouldn't believe it. Fruit in the morning, tiny sandwiches for lunch, salad in the afternoon. After a while it gets old. I wouldn't be surprised if Uncle Vernon stops by McDonald's on his way home from work."
Draco snorted a laugh, "I didn't know about that. I just guessed."
Harry's Coke top opened with a hiss. "You're a good guesser."
Draco lay down on the grass and stared up at the huge moon and stars. Honestly, he couldn't think of a place he would rather be right now than where he was. Laying in the grass, with Harry Potter.
Draco looked over at Harry. The boy was sitting next to him in Indian style, holding his coke in one hand and his other hand in a strange, paused position. Draco realized he had caught him.
"Ah-ah-ah!" Draco said, sitting up and covering his breast pocket with his hand.
"Give them, Drake." Harry demanded in a playfully serious voice as he set down his can of Coke.
"Why should I?" asked Draco pointedly.
Harry didn't take the time to answer, but pounced on Draco with unexpected speed.
The two boys wrestled, grappling, laughing and grunting, pulling and pushing all at the same time. Draco couldn't see anything that wasn't Harry, and his heart was pounding out of his chest from the tussle, or was it because Harry was on top of him? He held the glasses in one hand, then Harry had them, then Draco again.
"Aha!" Harry yelled victoriously as he pushed Draco to the ground and tore the glasses out of his hand.
"Dammit!" Draco laughed hoarsely.
Harry jammed his glasses back on his nose. "Finally, I can savor my victory."
Draco laughed, but he was worried that now that he had his eyes back, Harry would recognize him. Draco got up from the ground.
"It's getting kinda late." he said, as he drained his coke.
"That hasn't stopped you before." Harry said, seeming rejuvenated from their tussle. Or maybe it was the Coke.
"Anyways, I'd better go. My parents get home at one."
The two boys packed up their garbage and extra food into the plastic bag and stood. After brushing off their pants, they made their way back to Privet Drive.
"Crap!" Harry exclaimed when they reached number four.
The door to the house was wide open, and the window was open even further.
They stopped at the door and Harry peered inside.
"Looks like no one's up. We're good." he said.
"Ok. See you later then." said Draco.
Suddenly Harry's hand darted out faster than Draco could react, and Harry stole Draco's sunglasses from right under his nose.
"Later!" said Harry quickly, darting into the house and shutting the door.
Draco laughed loudly, he couldn't help himself.
Hopefully the Muggles didn't hear.
Despite his amusement at first at Harry's theft, Draco was annoyed when the next day he wanted to see Harry but he was afraid that, in the bright summer sunlight, Harry would recognize him. He was, however, badly sunburned, and, as they did during summer, his usually gray eyes seemed to be turning silver-blue. As he did these days when he had problems, Draco drifted down to the drugstore early in the morning.
"Hello there, boy." Frank grunted from behind his morning newspaper.
"Hello." Draco said, leaning against the counter.
"The usual?" Frank asked, as he reached behind him for Draco's usual pack of cigarettes.
"Nah." Draco said. It was suddenly easy to ignore his need for nicotine. He had a new obsession.
Frank gave him an odd look, but quickly dug his head back under the newspaper.
"Anything good?" Draco asked, leaning against the counter. He had no idea what his plans for the day were, considering in the light of day Harry would recognize him. Not to mention, Harry was still on house arrest.
Frank shrugged, "The circus is in town. Nice hair, by the way." he added.
"Thanks." Draco said running his hand along the top of his head. It hadn't taken him long to adjust to not being blond, but it took his parents by surprise. He hadn't explained why he had done it, and his father reasoned that it was just a phase. Let them stay that blind, Draco thought.
"There have been a lot of shady characters lurking 'bout the shop." Frank said, lowering his voice and looking up from the paper, "And I don't think they're Muggles."
"Really? What makes you say that?" asked Draco, leaning in closer to the man.
Frank nodded to behind Draco. Drake inconspicuously peered over his shoulder, at a man scanning the crisp isle, wearing a long black cloak and large boots. Draco turned back to Frank, eyebrows up in the man's characteristic face. Frank cracked a grin.
"So what are you doin' today, kid?" Frank asked opening the cash register to pull a cigar out from its safe hiding spot.
"Dunno..." Drake replied looking out into the street, which was radiating heat.
"Well, whatsever you do," Frank said, lighting up, "Don't get in trouble, and if you do, remember, my door's always open."
"Thanks a lot." Draco said, beaming at the old man, "Well, guess I'd better take off."
"Bye," Frank said gloomily, sucking on his cigar. Draco felt the old man's eyes follow him to the door and all the way out of the shop.
Draco couldn't stay away from Privet Drive for long.
He scuffed his loafered feet along the asphalt street, looking at the identical houses that passed, hands in pockets. Number 12, 10, 8, 6, then finally, 4.
Harry was outside, much to Draco's relief. Harry was washing the Dursley's sleek black business car in the beating heat. In one hand he clutched a soapy sponge, in the other the watering hose. He was sweating hard, and had taken his shirt off, and it was lying, abandoned, next to a bucket of soapy water a few feet away, along with Harry's slightly soapy round glasses. Draco paused in front of Number 7's begonias and watched Harry for a second. His eyes unwillingly slid over Harry's shirtless torso, tracing the planes of his muscular arms and abs, which both seemed brown and tanned despite his house arrest. He tore his eyes away from Harry's body long enough to look at his head.
Tauntingly, coincidentally, Harry was wearing Draco's sunglasses.
At this moment Harry looked up and saw Draco standing there. Draco grinned and waved, and Harry waved back with the hand that had the sponge in it.
"Need a hand?" Draco asked, striding towards #4.
"Need sunglasses?" Harry asked jokingly.
"Ha ha." Draco said picking up another sponge from inside the soapy bucket. Around the Manor manual labor was sort of one of those unknown things, and Draco actually thought cleaning the car might be fun.
"You're serious?" asked Harry, sounding surprised.
"Sure, I got nothing better to do." Draco said, starting to scrub the side of the car.
Harry stood staring at him for a minute, holding the dripping watering hose, then he laughed.
"Okay, I'll make you a deal," said Harry.
"I'm listening," said Draco, scrubbing diligently at a hubcap.
"You help me finish cleaning this car..."Harry paused, "...and I'll let you have your sunglasses back."
Draco snorted, "Let me? I could take them if I wanted. I let you have yours back."
"Yeah right." Harry said, as he scrubbed at the hood.
"Oh yeah? Try me." Draco said, standing up and facing Harry.
"You've forgotten something." Harry said, grinning mischievously.
"What?" asked Draco.
"I have the hose!" shouted Harry, and immediately turned on the hose full blast and soaked Draco head to foot with it.
Draco stood, soaked, shocked, then abruptly tumped the entire bucket of soapy water over Harry's head with a triumphant roar.
They both didn't waste any time. Harry yelled and started continuously spraying Draco, Draco blocked with the bucket, making a stream of water spray onto Harry. Then Draco dropped the bucket and lunged in, and they grappled for the hose, thoroughly dousing each other in the process. For a few moments, Draco's hands somehow found themselves from the hose to Harry's damp bare chest, and Draco was aware Harry had a tight hold on both of his wrists. Then the moment passed as Draco took the opportunity to squeeze out the sponge over Harry's head.
The water fight continued for several minutes, in which time both boys were laughing, out of breath, and totally wet. The car was thoroughly washed off from accidental sprays.
Draco wiped his forehead, laughing, "That's one way to cool down."
Harry was grappling for his glasses on the ground, "And, we saved some time with the car."
"Yeah." Draco said, wringing out his shirt, "Do you have some clothes I could borrow?"
After coiling up the hose, putting away the bucket and sponges, and retrieving Harry's glasses and shirt, the boys were a bit drier, so they left no dripping trail as they went to Harry's room.
"Nobody's home but me." Harry said, "They left me to wash the car because they figured I wouldn't be done by the time they got back."
"Where'd they go?" asked Draco as they got to the top of the stairs.
"Shopping or something," Harry replied, pausing in front of his door, "I'll grab you some stuff, Drake."
"'Kay." Draco said, waiting outside the door, and smiling when Harry used his assumed name.
Harry returned with a plain black t-shirt and some blue jeans. He had already changed into a white t-shirt with cargo pants.
"Hope they fit." he said.
Draco changed in the bathroom. He looked at his reflection in the mirror. His muscles were more defined, bigger than Harry's were, but Draco didn't ponder them long. He looked down at his hands, and could almost feel the skin of Harry's chest on his fingertips. Mentally shaking himself, he quickly pulled his borrowed shirt on and smoothed back his brown hair. He was actually surprised Harry did not recognize him. Good thing he had a bad sunburn, and his eyes were changing color.
When he emerged Harry was nowhere in sight, so Draco headed downstairs. Harry was in the kitchen sitting at the table, cleaning his glasses on his shirt.
"My reward?" Draco asked, indicating the sunglasses that were sitting on the table.
Harry snagged them and tossed them at Draco, who almost didn't catch them.
Draco settled them on his nose.
"What now, Drake?" asked Harry, as he put his own glasses on.
They ended up just walking.
The noon sun beat down on the boys' bodies as they beat a path into the streets of the neighborhood. They chatted away the entire time, about everything in particular.
Draco almost missed it.
They had wandered into the more run-down, ghetto area of the town (even Little Whinging has this type of area) and were walking through a more busy business district. It was still pretty sleepy, and only a few cars sped past them.
Draco stopped on the sidewalk, his eyes following the structure up, up, up, until they reached the top, where no doubt an unfortunate couple was stranded.
"What?" Harry asked, stopping behind Draco and peering up at what he was looking at. The sun was beginning to go down, and the light glinted in Harry's glasses.
"A carnival." said Draco, grinning.
"So?" said Harry, "We can't afford to get in. Looks fun, though."
"Who said we had to pay?" said Draco, raising his eyebrows at Harry.
The sun slowly sank down under the horizon, the lights of the carnival rides flickered on, and the number of people driving up into the parking it occupied increased.
"I wonder why everyone's coming at night?" asked Harry, from behind the bush he was hiding behind.
"Dunno." replied Draco, from behind his own bush.
"Ready?" asked Harry.
"Ready." confirmed Draco, who was surprised that angelic Harry Potter had agreed to do this with him.
Of course nothing was what he thought it was any more.
The boys had an easy time of climbing the fence that was around the carnival. They had some problems with a carny that saw them, but they managed to swiftly disappear into the crowd of people.
"That was awesome!" said Harry looking around and beaming at Draco.
The boys went on all of the crazy rides, including one that made them both want to throw up, and another which made Harry's already wild hair stand straight up for several minutes afterwards. In the haunted house Harry led the way around, and didn't even jump at all the things that made Draco screech out a cuss word.
"Damn, you're not scared of anything are you?" asked Draco as they emerged from the house.
"When you live at the Dursleys' for long enough, nothing is scary anymore." laughed Harry, eyeing a disgruntled mother who had been in the fun house with Draco and his dirty mouth, along with her five year old.
"All right, only one more left!" said Harry as they approached the super-tall Ferris wheel Draco had seen from the street.
"Uh, okay." said Draco, thinking Damn, that thing is HIGH!
"Whatsa matter, Drake?" asked Harry mockingly, "Too high for you? Think it might stop at the top?"
"Shut up!" Draco said, bounding forward.
Soon the two boys got on the Ferris wheel. The wheel was somewhat rundown, kind of like the rest of the carnival, and the canopy which usually covered the top of their carriage had been torn off and the seats were rather creaky. This didn't make Draco feel any better about the situation.
"Whoo hoo!" Harry cheered as the wheel started with a jerk, and began to climb up.
Draco gripped his seat and tried not to look down. Why was this so much different than being on a broom? Probably because on the broom he was in control, not some lunatic carny man.
"We're almost at the top." said Harry.
Hey, thought Draco, I might actually live!
At that precise moment, the Ferris wheel stopped with grinding screech, with the boys at the very top.
"Aw, hell no!" yelled Draco, looking over at Harry with wide eyes.
"Hey chill, man." said Harry, sounding like he was trying not to laugh as he peered over the side of the Ferris wheel fearlessly, "They probably do this on purpose."
"Why?" asked Draco incredulously.
"It's entertaining for most people," said Harry, "If only Dudders could see you now."
"Shut it!" shouted Draco with a nervous laugh.
The boys could barely see each other even though they were only sitting across from each other. It was very late. All the lights in the carnival had seemed to have dimmed, even though there were still people down there.
"What time is it?" asked Harry.
Draco peered at his watch, "Almost midnight."
Draco thought he heard Harry cuss. Then there was a large squeeek then pop sound, and a huge red firework exploded over their heads.
"Whoa!" the boys' voices mingled with those of the crowd below and the people in the other Ferris wheel seats, as another beautiful firework exploded. Draco felt like he could almost touch them. The boys sat watching them, so close above them, so sparklingly wondrous.
"They're beautiful!" shouted Harry over the noise of the explosives.
Draco looked over at him, and his heart almost stopped. In the array of colorful lights from the fireworks and pale moonlight, Harry's face was a wreath of complete happiness and joy, and freedom. Draco realized that Harry was truly happy, and completely worry-free at that moment, and when he looked so pure and at peace, he really was beautiful. Harry tore his eyes away from the show to look at Draco. Their eyes met, green and silver, and the same electric shock that coursed through Draco's body when they first met returned. Draco couldn't look anywhere but at Harry.
Then a grinding of machinery brought Draco back to earth and his eyes tore away from Harry's. He looked down at his lap while the Ferris wheel descended. Harry didn't speak. What is wrong with me? asked Draco to himself, I'm not me anymore. What's going on?
Finally they reached the ground and clambered out of the Ferris wheel. The fireworks show was over, and there was a line of people queued up to get on the ride. The boys navigated away from the crowd in silence, not really knowing what to say to each other. Then an unwelcome voice came to their ears.
"Well if it isn't Harry Potter and his new best friend," slurred someone behind them.
Draco and Harry spun around to find themselves face to face with Dudley's gang. Dudley was standing in front of them, with a beer in his hand, his eyes bloodshot and his words slurred. The whole group gave off the odor of alcohol, and Draco could tell they were all heavily intoxicated, or worse.
"Isn't this... lovely." Dudley said, his words slurring together bizarrely, "Now I have someone to blame this on when I get home."
"You leave us alone, Dudley." Harry said, in a firm, slow voice.
"'Fraid I can't Harry." Dudley said, laughing, leaning in closer, "In fact, I can't let you go anywhere."
"I said leave us alone." said Harry, and he turned swiftly towards the exit of the carnival. Draco turned to follow him.
"Oh, no you don't!" Dudley said, and Draco saw the flash of silver in his hand just in time to shove Harry out of the way of Dudley's sharp blade.
"Let's go!" Draco shouted, and he grabbed Harry's hand as they ran for the exit of the carnival, with Dudley's group trying to catch up. They were still pretty fast when drunk. Harry and Draco were faster. Harry drug Draco along behind him by the hand.
"I didn't know he drank." Harry shouted at Draco.
"I didn't know he had a knife." said Draco, making Harry laugh.
The boys sprinted past the ticket sellers, who yelled at them, then dashed down the street. They could hear Dudley's crew doing the same not far behind them.
"Where can we go?" asked Harry breathlessly.
Draco knew they were close to downtown, and that he knew the area. In his mind he searched through places that Dudley's crew would likely not follow them into. He struck upon one as it came into view, surrounded by fancy cars and sporting a shiny flashing sign.
"C'mon, in here!" Draco said, sprinting towards the theatre house, which was in a strangely kept-up, nice building. His father had taken his mother and him here on one of the first days they had stayed in Little Whinging, and Draco knew that the doorman was a friend of his family, and would let them in.
Harry, close behind Draco, looked up and saw the theatre.
"Aw, hell no!" Harry said grudgingly, making Draco crack up, but Harry followed Draco inside. The doors slammed just as Dudley's crew came around the street corner.
"Hello, sir!" the doorman, Olyphus, said, "Late tonight, aren't we? The production started almost an hour ago."
"S'okay." Draco said, hurriedly giving the man some money.
"Who's your friend?" the doorman said, looking at Harry, who was panting and wiping his brow.
"No one," Draco said, as he grabbed Harry's arm and pulled him into the theatre.
"Enjoy the show!" Olyphus called at them as the doors shut.
"She's dead, she's dead! Oh lamentable day!"
Romeo and Juliet was not exactly Draco's favorite production, especially when it is put to music. Being the child of a high class wizarding family meant that his father was invited to the theatre by high government officials several nights a week. As the heir to the Malfoy fortune, Draco had been forced to come along at an early age. This had given him an acute sense of good theatre performance.
This production of Romeo and Juliet by the theatre of Little Whinging was actually not terrible. They actually had a decent looking woman playing Juliet, and Romeo wasn't exactly annoying, as he usually was.
Draco could see Harry sliding lower in his seat over time, as the play opened up into the final act, Draco could've sworn Harry was asleep. Draco peered at his friend, and found he was, his long black lashes laid lightly on his cheek, which seemed so pale in the theatre lighting. This jet black hair, which was no longer sweaty from their run over here, had fallen messily over his forehead. Draco could hardly resist the urge to push it back. A wail from the stage pulled Draco's eyes back to it.
Romeo was weeping over the corpse of his bride, this tangled Elizabethan words becoming choking in his sorrow. This was always the part about Romeo and Juliet that made Draco quiver. How could fate be so cruel against the lovers? They had everything stacked against them. Their families stood for completely different things, and they had to go and fall in love. They were foolish, so foolish.
"Are you crying?" asked Harry next to him, and Draco jumped. He didn't notice Harry had awoken.
"No." said Draco, and to his horror, he realized he was.
"It's okay." said Harry, putting his hand on Draco's shoulder, "It's only a story."
Draco smiled at Harry, comforted, and happy that Harry did not laugh at Draco for being soft. But something inside Draco told him that he wasn't crying for the make-believe characters of Romeo and Juliet.
After the play had ended, the two boys left the theatre. They both started aimlessly walking down the streets that were so familiar to Draco, not saying a word.
Draco didn't know what had passed between them, but now something was different. Draco was aware of Harry's every movement, and he didn't want to let Harry go anywhere.
Soon they found themselves walking down a back alley, lined with metal trash bins and old blocks of bricks and cement. They were walking down it when suddenly Harry stopped. Draco stopped abruptly next to him.
"Drake?" asked Harry, not looking at Draco.
"Yes?" Draco said, his voice cracking, as he looked at Harry's back.
Harry turned and looked at Draco, and Draco saw that Harry was crying now. This was only the second time Draco had seen Harry cry, and it hit him like a tidal wave.
"Harry-" Draco said, reaching out towards him, to comfort him, but Harry shrank away, leaning against one of the dirty brick walls. Draco pulled his hand back, trying to disguise the hurt on his face from Harry's refusal. Tears sprung into his eyes too.
Harry covered his eyes, and slid down the brick wall to sit on the ground. Slowly Draco joined him on the ground as well. They sat cross-legged, across from each other.
Slowly Harry pulled his hands from his eyes. Draco looked into them. They were dry, and their greenness pierced Draco like a knife.
"I don't understand." said Harry quietly.
Draco sniffed and wiped his eyes, trying to look away from Harry, "Understand what?" he asked thickly.
Harry looked straight at Draco and bit his lip. Suddenly the humming electricity returned, and warmed against Draco's cheeks and hands. Harry was still looking at Draco, hard. Draco's mind whirled. It couldn't be possible that Harry was feeling the same way as he was. Then slowly, ever so slowly, Harry's hand reached up, hesitated, reached up, and touched Draco's cheek.
That warm soft hand against his face felt like Draco's lifeline to the world. Harry's eyes were wide, almost surprised at what he had done. Then Draco, slowly, lifted his own pale hand, and laid it to rest on Harry's sunburnt cheek. Harry's eyes, which were shining behind the round glasses, closed, and that beautiful peaceful look returned to his face. Draco couldn't stop looking at Harry. The fingers of Harry's hand that was not on Draco's cheek curled into Draco's free hand, and they sat like that for a moment, connected, together, unbreakable.
Then Harry opened his eyes, and they were firm, quietly decided. He started to move his hand from Draco's cheek, but when his hand parted from Draco's skin Draco found himself gasping for air, as if he had been holding his breath before. Harry quickly replaced his hand, and Draco sighed in relief, closing his eyes. Draco could suddenly feel Harry's fingers exploring his face, caressing his neck, collarbone. Draco shivered. Draco let go of Harry's cheek and clutched Harry's hand, making it go still. Draco opened his eyes, meeting Harry's whose eyes were on his hands, which were both entwined with Draco's. They sat like that, Draco gazing at Harry, Harry clutching Draco's hands.
Harry's eyes found Draco again, the certainty which had found them minutes ago was still there. Staring into Draco's eyes, Harry pulled their hands down to their laps so he held Draco in like a vice. He leaned towards Draco, staring at him, Draco stared back in wonder, Harry's face came within inches of Draco's, Draco sucked in his breath, then Harry paused. Doubt washed over his face, and he sat back, his hands slackening in Draco's, his face falling.
Draco felt like his emotions were drowning him. He couldn't stand it, he released one of his hands and gently held Harry's chin, making Harry look at him again. Harry's eyes were wet, tearing in emotion. Seeing them struck Draco like a spear driven through his heart, and like a dam being broken, all of his feelings over the past week, over the past four years, that he had held back about Harry Potter came washing back, and Draco, without a moment's hesitation or thought, leaned over and kissed Harry Potter.
That kiss seemed to last a lifetime to Draco. His lips molded into Harry's, which were soft and responsive. Harry's cool breath flowed into Draco's mouth, making him feel lightheaded. Their lips were locked together, Draco's fingers twined up to Harry's hair to clutch it, Draco could feel Harry's hands searching along his chest, looking for a way under his shirt. Draco was so caught up in the moment, he didn't even think about the consequences of his actions. He didn't even wonder what Harry would think if he knew he was kissing Draco Malfoy. All he knew was in absolute bliss kissing Harry Potter.
That in itself didn't bother him either. The fact that he was gay really didn't hit Draco at all. Maybe he had known it before when he and Pansy had been together and Draco had felt nothing there, or maybe somehow Draco had always known, or, known it since he met Harry.
Harry's hand had slipped down Draco's abs, down to the line of his shirt. They inched underneath, tracing Draco's ribs and muscles under. Draco moaned against Harry's mouth, and Harry kissed him harder, deeper.
Yes, this was Draco's moment of triumph. He had found the place in the world, the moment in this life and this world that he would remember for the rest of his life as the moment when he was truly happy, truly, one-hundred-percent satisfied with his life.
A sudden sound down the alley parted the boys. Draco looked down the alley, his hands dropping from Harry's hair, and instinctively reaching for his pocket where his wand lay. Draco saw Harry do the same.
Then a sudden chill filled the night, and it seemed to get darker as the moon went behind the clouds. The humid summer night turned cold, cold as ice. Draco could see his quickening breath coming out in puffs. Harry stood, pulling his wand out without hesitation.
"Get behind me, Drake!" Harry said, pointing his wand down the alley.
"Harry-" Draco said, panic setting in. Dementors, it had to be, no, this couldn't happen-
"Get behind me now!" Harry shouted at him, as the chill came closer and Draco became aware of a slow, heavy rattling sound coming from down the alley.
"Lumos!" Harry lit his wand.
Coming down the alley were three dementors, their disgusting black hands and jagged dark mouths reaching towards the boys as they swooped forward.
Draco stood next to Harry, and Harry looked at Draco.
"Drake, you don't understand-" Harry tried to start.
Then from behind them they heard a voice.
"Well, well, well."
They turned to face down the other way of the alley.
There emerging from the darkness into the circles of light that they boys' wands provided were a group of cloaked and masked wizards, wands aloft and eyes glittering maliciously behind the masks.
"If it isn't dear Harry Potter and one of his faithful sidekicks." came the sleek terrible voice from the leader of the group, "We're delighted to see you."
Then, quick as lightning, before Draco or any of the Death Eaters could do anything, Harry turned and shouted, "Expecto Patronum!" at the dementors. The dementors scattered, and Harry grabbed Draco's arm and they ran down the alley after the cantering patronus. Draco could hear the Death Eaters disapparating and running after them. There was no time. They were going to be trapped.
"Harry, let me go!" yelled Draco at Harry as they ran.
"Drake no, you don't understand!" said Harry, as a sudden streak of red light flashed behind them.
"LET GO, HARRY!" Draco said, freeing himself of Harry's grip and turning to face the Death Eaters, his wand pulled out in a flourish.
"Drake, you have to come on!" begged Harry, "I can't leave you!"
"LEAVE NOW, POTTER!" Draco roared, and he shouted a spell at the first Death Eater he came in contact with.
"Expelliarmus!" Draco shouted, then, "Impedimenta!" he took down two Death Eaters at once, then one shouted, "Crucio!"
Draco screamed and fell to the ground, Draco could hear Harry yelling his name from far away. There was pain everywhere, the torture curse wracked Draco's body. Then it stopped, and a gloved hand wrenched Draco's head up by his hair.
"Who's this, then?" asked the head Death Eater, smiling behind his mask.
Familiarity at the voice made Draco want to scream again, he knew that voice, those shiny white teeth, the silvery-blonde hair trailing down the back of the wizard's robes.
In a quiet, broken, painful voice, Draco dragged the word out of his lips, "Dad..." he breathed, his hand weakly reaching up towards the man's face.
The eyes behind the mask widened in shock, and Lucius Malfoy dropped his wand and Draco's hair, and grabbed Draco by the shoulders.
"Oh, Draco! Draco! What are you doing here?" Lucius said, caressing his son's face, sounding near sobs, "Draco, I'm so sorry, we have to get you away from here, you don't understand-"
"Dad..." Draco said, weakly, reaching up and touching his father's face.
"Draco, what is it?" Lucius demanded worriedly.
Draco leaned up and hugged his father, and he could see that they were the only two left in this part of the alley, the rest of the Death Eaters had gone after Harry.
"Dad...I'm..." Draco choked into his father's ear, "I'm sorry."
Then with all the force he had Draco punched his father in the gut, twice, three times, making Lucius fall over, stunned. Draco stood, and grabbed both his father's wand and his. Looking back at his unconscious father, Draco frowned, then turned, and ran down the alley after Harry.
The alley seemed quiet and eerily still now that Draco knew of all of the wizards running loose in it. Draco sprinted, his wand held high, looking down every side alley, his eyes peeled for some sign of Harry's location.
Then, from over the top of one building, Draco could see flashes of light, red, green, silver. From that direction he could hear shouts of the Death Eaters. Draco ran that way, desperately looking for some sign of Harry...
Then a loud scream pierced the night, the scream of someone who is in pain. It was Harry! Draco yelled as loud as he could to his friend.
"Harry, I'm coming!" he shouted as he ran, "Harry, hold on!"
He saw a Death Eater in front of him, Draco shot a Stunning Spell at him, he fell to the ground, Draco vaulted over his body and met three other Death Eaters, and a dementor. The dementors made Draco shiver; he didn't know how to repel them. Then he saw that Harry was cornered by the Death Eaters, Harry was holding his wand out to them, but had his other hand wrapped tightly around his torso, his face was rigid in pain.
"NO!" Draco shouted, and yelled "Stupefy! Stupefy! Stupefy!" at the Death Eaters, who barely had time to turn on Draco before they were hit and fell. Draco tried to go to Harry, but the dementor had felt him, tasted him, and was coming after him. Draco whimpered in fear, these creatures had always been the worst for him, he raised his wand, but the creature only came closer, he found himself becoming more and more afraid, and more and more hopeless, all his happiness seemed to be draining.
"Expecto... Patronum.." said a weak voice behind the dementor, and suddenly a stag burst out of Harry's wand, and the dementor left Draco and fled, skimming down the alley with the patronus on its heels. Draco quickly hurried over to Harry, who had slumped against the alley wall, and now had both hands curled around his torso, he had dropped his wand.
"Harry, Harry!" Draco shouted, gently holding Harry's shoulders, keeping Harry up, "What happened?"
"They hit me... with something... some spell..." Harry whispered painfully, and lifted one of his hands to show Draco blood on his fingers.
Draco's mind was whirling, but he kept his head on tight, just a little blood, "It's okay, I got you, come on..." Draco helped Harry up, grabbed his wand from on the ground, and supported him as they slowly hoppled out of the back alley streets and towards downtown.
"Where can we go?" asked Harry quietly.
"Shhh, save your energy." whispered Draco, "I know a place."
Getting Harry up the steps to the flat above the Fast-Mart was somewhat of a challenge, but they made it. Draco tried the door, it was unlocked. Draco dragged Harry in, and looked around for Frank, he was not there. The flat was small and dingy, and it looked like it had no electricity, but Draco knew that he had no choice.
"Wait here, I'm going to go look for the guy who lives here." whispered Draco to Harry. He set Harry down on the small bed.
"Be careful." Harry whispered back, as Draco clambered back down the iron staircase on the outside of the store that led up to the flat. Draco rounded the corner to the front of the store, and a terrible sight met his eyes.
The store had been ransacked, shelves had been knocked down and goods were thrown all over the floor. The cash register was busted open, Draco could see that the only thing left in there was Frank's stash of his favorite cigars. But where was Frank? Nowhere to be seen. Draco went inside and got together some first aid supplies, then hurried back up to Harry.
When Draco arrived Harry was lying on the bed, his arm still tightly wrapped around himself. His white shirt was beginning to get soaked in blood on one side. Draco had never had any experience with healing or helping sick people, but now he knew he had to try.
"Can you turn over on your side?" Draco asked Harry.
Harry obeyed, wincing. "What happened to the man?" he asked.
"I don't know." said Draco.
He ripped Harry's stained shirt away from the wound revealing a long, deep cut in his side. It went from almost his hip to his elbow. Draco sucked in a breath, then slowly began cleaning the blood off with his wand.
"Scourgify..." he whispered, and the blood, which had already started to dry, came siphoning off.
"So you're a wizard as well." Harry said. Draco frowned as he remembered the fact.
"Yes." said Draco, unnecessarily.
"Then... I guess you know who I am." Harry said quietly. Draco knew how hard this would be for Harry to understand.
"Yes." said Draco quietly, almost choking. The wound was clean now. What could he do? He decided on putting some antibiotics on it and wrapping it up good and tight.
"I've never met you before," Harry said, his words becoming stronger, quicker, curious, "Do you go to Hogwarts? Why haven't I met you before? Do you-"
"Harry." Draco whispered, his voice becoming more broken as he realized it was all coming to an end, all of it. Everything. He could feel tears threatening to creep up on him, but he forced them back. He had to bandage Harry. At Draco's interruption Harry stopped.
"What is it, Drake?" Harry said.
"I... I need to put a bandage on." Draco said, trying to hold back his emotions for just another second.
"Okay." Harry said, allowing Draco to wrap the bandages he had got from the first aid supplies around his torso. Draco secured the bandage, then sat down on the floor next to the bed, looking down at his bloodied fingers. He could feel the dam about to break. He started to siphon the blood off them.
Harry spoke again. "When I left you back there, I saw how that Death Eater had you. I thought you were a goner. How did you escape?"
Finally the tears brimmed, and Draco sat up next to the bed, looking down into Harry's questioning eyes.
"What is it, Drake?" Harry asked, reaching up towards Draco's face.
Draco shrank away from the touch, leaving Harry looking concerned and confused.
"Drake, tell me." Harry ordered.
"Harry..." Draco said, knowing that the moment he spoke the words he would ruin it all, his life, his love, his happiness. Because he knew it now, he couldn't deny it any longer. He was completely in love with Harry Potter. He loved his jokes and his strength, his bravery and his smile. And he could feel it all coming to a close. The play was over. Curtain down. Romeo and Juliet were just not meant to be with each other. But even they did not face as many challenges as the two boys sitting in the dingy little flat, looking longingly into each other's eyes.
"Harry..." Draco breathed, hardly able to breath, talk, "Forgive me, please." His tears were freely flowing now.
"Drake, I don't understand!" Harry said, he looked like he was going to go mad with anxiety and fear, "Tell me!"
"I'm not who I said I am!" Draco finally yelled, crying so hard it felt like his heart would break, his breath coming out in spurts and his words coming in and out, "I dyed my hair and changed my name, I didn't know... I didn't know that things wouldn't be the same, as they are, in the real world. Then... then I fell in love with you and..." Draco dropped his head down onto Harry's chest, his tears soaking there.
"You DO know me..." Draco shouted there, clutching Harry around the shoulders, "You know me and can never love me like I love you."
Harry grabbed Draco's face and lifted it up so he could look at it.
"You're lying." Harry whispered, "I can. I do"
"But... you... won't..." Draco whimpered through his tears. Harry loved him. But not him. Drake.
"I will. Tell me." Harry said. He stroked back Draco's hair from his forehead and serenely looked into Draco's eyes. He was sure, but Draco knew better. Draco steeled himself, one last time, and looked straight into Harry's eyes, trying to be strong, tears stopping.
"It's me, Potter." and as he said it Draco saw Harry's eyes widen in recognition, for Draco had said it in the same patronizing, snobbish, terrible voice he had always used to use with Harry. Seeing Harry realize, Draco slid off the bed and onto the floor and into a little ball. The walls of the flat seemed to be closing in on him.
"Malfoy?" Harry whispered, and Draco could almost hear the revulsion in his voice, the feelings running through his mind.
"Yes?" Draco said, still in his ball, not looking at Harry or anywhere.
He heard Harry suck in his breath; Draco could almost feel the shock radiating from the bed.
"So now... you know." Draco gulped out, still in the ball.
"Drake...Draco..." Harry whispered, realizing, "Oh-h-h..."
Draco sat there in his ball, waiting for Harry to come unglued, to yell, to pounce at Draco, to suddenly be furious that Draco had deceived him all this time.
Then a cool, soft hand landed on Draco's shoulder. Draco looked up in surprise, looked up into Harry's green eyes which were shimmering with untold emotion behind the glasses.
"Draco..." Harry said, the name slipping off his tongue like he didn't quite believe it yet.
"Yes?" replied Draco, in a whisper, "Yes, Harry?"
Harry looked into Draco's eyes in a way that made Draco remember the feel of his lips on his, the desire he had felt in that swept up moment. That was all gone. He was never going to get it back. Harry looked at Draco long and hard, studying his face. At the same time Draco was boring Harry's face into his brain, his expression, the curve of his jaw, the sharpness of his eyes, so that whenever he would see Harry scowl at him in the future he would always be able to pull out this memory of how Harry looked when he still loved him. His eyes slid up to Harry's forehead, to the lightning scar, which Draco had never really noticed or thought about. It seemed to be thin and faded on Harry's skin. He took in Harry's shape, his body, which was wrapped up in the white bandage. The electricity had returned, but Draco knew, this time, that it was all one-sided.
"Drake... Draco." Harry said, hesitating.
"Harry." Draco replied.
"I need to know." said Harry slowly, "Who you really are."
"I am Draco." said Draco, not knowing what Harry really meant.
"No. I mean, who are you," Harry lifted up his hand and held it to Draco's heart, "In here?""
Draco looked down at his chest, at his borrowed shirt, at his body, at himself. This was a question he had been battling with himself about since he had met Harry back in the park. Was he still Draco Malfoy, or had all these things he had done changed him into someone else entirely? Someone who was gentle, caring, and funny, and stunned Death Eaters and kissed Harry Potter. But it was hard, oh so hard, to let go of himself and let himself become that person, though at the same time it had been so easy.
"I don't know." Draco whispered.
Harry looked at him for another moment, then spoke again.
Harry sucked in his breath, then said, "Can you be Drake for just one more night?"
At first Draco didn't know what Harry meant, then Harry leaned down from the bed and pressed his lips to Draco's, his hands holding Draco in. Draco's mind whirled, he didn't understand, what did this mean? Harry kissed him deeply, passionately, then their lips parted for long enough for Draco to say one final thing.
"Yes, Harry." Draco said.
And Harry's lips fell upon Draco's again, more urgent and hungry then before, and Draco responded, reaching up to grab Harry's face. But Harry grabbed Draco around his torso and helped pull Draco into the small bed. Draco found himself practically on top of Harry. Harry's lips paused, aware of their situation, gauging Draco's response, but then Draco's lips moved with even more force, and Harry relaxed.
Draco understood. This was it, their last hours together. After that, this all would end, and this week with Harry, this one golden summer, would become a whisp of a memory, a week that Draco would cherish and remember constantly. He knew he was completely and desperately in love with Harry Potter, and also that it never could be. Harry and Draco could never exist together, though Draco was not sure that he could exist apart. Harry had given Draco one last night, and now, Draco was going to make as much use of it as he could, because when the sun rose in the morning, he had no idea what to expect. But he knew what not to expect: to ever see Harry Potter like this again.
Draco reached down towards his pants, kissing Harry hard, but Harry's hands
caught his. Draco paused, stared at Harry. Grey into green, desire into pleading. Draco calmed himself, and slid so that he was lying next to Harry. Harry's heartbeat slowed, and he wrapped his arms carefully around Draco, securing him there, keeping him with him for just a little longer.
By the time Draco woke up the next morning, Harry was gone. Draco wondered dully how Harry had gotten out so fast with his injury, then reminded himself it didn't matter. Harry and him were nothing. They weren't even friends. Why should he care?
But how could he not care, after last night? Draco got up and started pulling on his pants. It was in the past now. Things could never happen again between him and Harry Potter.
He stepped out into the dismal morning, and descended the stairs down into the alley. Rounding the corner to the shop front, he saw yellow crime scene tape and police cars. He turned the other way.
Where could he go? What would he do? His father knew, didn't he? He would remember Draco punching him, he might even remember seeing them kiss. Draco shivered away from the memory of Harry's lips. They would never be warm to him again.
` Finally he found himself in front of the bed and breakfast again. There was no way around it. He was going to have to face the music. He stepped through the lobby. The young secretary behind the desk was surprised to see him, and shouted something at him which he didn't hear. He pressed the button and the doors opened. Third floor.
The music playing in the elevator this time was slow, melodic and sad. It grew in speed and volume as the elevator ascended, enchanting and toxic. Draco held his breath, drowning in the harsh tones, the music was too desperate, too sweet and sad. Too hopeless. The tones would have to come to an end. The inevitable, unstoppable end.
Finally the doors opened and Draco threw himself out into the corridor, and felt his way along the wall to the hotel room blindly. He had to get out. The memories felt like noxious fumes, tearing at his nose, his eyes. He slipped his card into the door and shoved it open, flinging himself into the room. It was only then, when he felt the presence of many in the room, the presence of something dark emanating from the couch, did he remember why he had first hesitated to come back here. Through his blurry, wet eyes, he looked up to the group of people, poised, waiting for him.
"Hello, Draco." a snakelike voice whispered from an armchair.
Now, it was really all over.