When the alarm went off the next morning Draco pretended the day before had been a bad dream. He had no idea what he'd say or how he'd act. He knew the lesson, he knew where to go, and he knew who he was teaching first, (the third years). He knew he had breakfast first, and he knew that he had ten minutes after breakfast before the kids started getting to class. Sighing and rising from bed, he scrubbed his face with his hands and ran his fingers through his hair. He went into the bathroom and ran the hot water in the shower, grabbed a towel and stripped off his pyjama pants and boxers. He hopped into the shower after sticking his hand in the water to make sure it didn't burn him, folded his arms against the wall and leaned his head on his forearms. He let the water run off his back for a few minutes before he finally washed off. He felt tired and excited and sick to his stomach, and he hadn't even interacted with the world yet.
He stepped out and dried off, then wrapped the towel around his waist. He grabbed his toothbrush and toothpaste and set to work getting the taste of dread out of his mouth. It didn't seem to work.
Alarms suddenly went off when he turned to the door. Literally. The alarm set on his door had been tripped. Cussing, grabbing his wand off the counter and running to his closet, he grabbed some boxers, black pants and a white shirt. His toothbrush still sticking out of his mouth, Draco hopped and impatiently wriggled his way into his underwear and pants. Grabbing the shirt and skidding down the stairs, he stuck his arms through the sleeves and emerged in his office and looked straight into the eyes of...
"I couldn't charm the lock open, so I picked it," she told him, leaning against the solid oak desk and turning a small glass orb in her hands, examining it from every angle.
Draco collapsed back first against the wall, putting a shaking hand to his face. He pushed away from the wall, pulled his toothbrush from his mouth and spat in the garbage can beside his desk. He waved his wand. His toothbrush flew up the stairs and sat in its holder after rinsing off, his mouth filled with water and he swished for a moment or two before spitting that out too. He straightened, buttoning his shirt, before he finally asked, in a tone that suggested he wanted to cast the death curse on himself to put him out of his misery, "You picked my lock?"
"Yeah," she replied, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"Your uncle George must be proud," he sneered, crossing his arms and rolling his eyes. The ball in her hands stilled. She stared blankly at the carpet.
"I had a nightmare," she told him softly, not meeting his eyes. He frowned, and leaned on the desk beside her.
"What about?" he asked.
"You," she replied. He stiffened, and stared down at the carpet in front of him like the girl beside him.
"What did I do?" he asked.
"You died." She looked at him out of the corner of her eyes. He could just see the look in his peripheral vision.
"Anything," he started, his voice cracking. He cleared his throat. "Anything else?"
"Lots more," she said, turning towards him slightly. "You got turned into a cat."
"A cat," he repeated, dumbstruck.
"And you played Quidditch against my dad."
"Back it up to the part about the cat. Do you mean full on," he couldn't find the right words, so he just gestured at himself in an all encompassing fashion, "or just... parts?"
"Ears and tail." Draco laughed. She glanced at him sharply. It hadn't been a laugh, per se, but more of an astonished bark. There was a smile on his face, but it was incredulous. He looked like he'd gone into shock.
"Professor Malfoy?" Lily asked. He didn't move. "Professor Malfoy?" she asked again, an edge of worry in her voice. She reached out and grabbed his arm, shaking him. His expression didn't change. "Are you alright?" she demanded, facing him and reaching up to grab his shoulders. She had to stand on her toes. She pulled him down to her level, but he simply looked through her.
Neville walked through the open door. "Lily?" he asked, looking between her and the Professor she had her hands on. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to tell him about a dream," she replied. "I think I broke him."
"Broke him," Neville scoffed, stepping into the office. "How'd you get in? Pick the lock?"
Neville motioned her aside and straightened Draco, shaking him roughly by the shoulders. His head flopped around, the eerie smile still on his face. "Come on, man. Snap out of it." He struck him hard across the face. Draco's head moved, but he didn't react.
"What happened in your dream?"
"He died, for some reason. He also got cat ears and a tail and played a Quidditch game against my dad."
"What age was he?"
"This age," she replied.
Neville pushed Draco onto the floor and jumped on him, elbow first.
"Oof! Get off of me," Draco muttered, pushing at Neville. Lily stared at him with open curiosity.
"You told me I was going to die. I went into shock."
"You seemed more shocked at the ears and tail," Lily giggled.
Draco shuddered. "Let's not speak about that."
"Lily, your dreams... do they come true?" Neville asked. He stood and held his hand out to Draco, who grabbed hold and was hoisted to his feet. He rubbed his red cheek awkwardly, breathing deeply through his nose a few times.
"Some of them. This one seemed like one of the ones that would." She shrugged. "I thought he should know."
"Do I want to know how I die?" he asked.
"Whether you do or not, I didn't see. I just saw your eyes close and your body hit the grou-"
"I don't need to know!" Draco decided, throwing his hands in the air. "Why couldn't this have waited?"
"I didn't want to forget anything. The first years have dada last today." She shrugged, crossing her arms and leaning against the desk again.
"Dada?" Neville and Draco both asked at the same time, looking at each other.
"Defence Against the Dark Arts?" Lily asked. The two men stared at her like she'd suddenly began speaking in a dead gnome language. "D.A.D.A.? Dada?"
"Oh," Neville and Draco both said, dragging out the word and looking first at the ceiling, then at each other. "Is that what the kids are calling it these days?" Neville asked.
"Better than the entire student body referring to me as 'Dada', which is what I thought was going on."
"This is serious!" Lily screeched.
"Lily, listen to me," Draco said, bending down. "You saw that my eyes would close and I would fall to the ground. We don't know when, we don't know why, and I was not pronounced dead. For all we know, I just fainted."
"From hunger," Neville interjected.
"Let it go," Draco moaned.
"You are pretty slim," Lily added in an undertone.
"That's because the both of you are keeping me from my breakfast!" Draco exclaimed, turning away and going up the stairs to his personal chambers.
Neville and Lily followed him.
"Is nothing sacred?" he asked the ceiling with tears in his voice. He flopped down on his magically made bed and threw his arms over his face. Neville and Lily were discussing his wardrobe.
"I like the green one with the silver. No the other one," Lily was saying. There was the sound of clothes rustling, and Draco just closed his eyes and shut out the world as he was lifted from his bed, a vest was slipped onto him and buttoned up, and a waistcoat was put on his shoulders.
"You two really hate me, don't you?" he asked somewhere in the middle of the second shoe.
"Absolutely not!" Neville cried, sounding offended. "We just-" and here he grunted as he threw Draco over his shoulder, "Care about you so much." The sarcasm that dripped from the word "so" could have been collected, bottled and sold to millions worldwide. It might have tasted a little funky though, because Neville didn't brush his teeth until after breakfast.
That's how they went to the Great Hall. Lily and Neville fully dressed, chatting happily, Draco dangling from Neville's shoulder, his open hands slapping the other man's thighs as they went.
James, Albus, Rose and Scorpius soon joined them, as did Luna and a few other random students. Recognizing the white-blonde head of his father almost immediately, Scorpius stepped forward and asked, "dad?"
"Son, when you have some free time, I'd like you to kill me," Draco told him, his voice muffled by Neville's waist. Neville was taller than him, and standing, his forehead might have reached the brunette's cheekbone. "Make it quick, please."
"Bake git thick?" his son asked, which earned him a glare. He laughed.
A boy stepped forward and snapped a picture. "I can see the headline now," he said, "'Professor Malfoy makes use of the newest way to travel.' I think I'll call it the Elliven Express."
"Ellie E. for short," Neville chirped.
James grabbed Draco's face and lifted it. He looked at him with dead eyes. The boy chuckled. "Enjoying the ride?"
"Immensely," Draco informed him, "Although the shoulder to the gut is a little uncomfortable." Neville moved him slightly. "That's better."
"I don't see why uncle Ron acts like you're such a bad person," Albus said. "You seem pretty cool to me."
"In my sixth year I tried to kill the headmaster," Draco told them.
"Try to expel you?" Albus asked curiously.
"Nope. Voldemort told me to do it, or he'd kill my family and I."
"Ah. Did you do it?" Rose asked. James pointed Draco's face her way.
"Nah, I couldn't do it," Draco admitted. "Another professor did it. The headmaster wanted him to, though. The old man had everything planned from the start. Sly bugger. Don't repeat that." The kids giggled.
"Not only that, he was a terrible prat," Neville told them. James forced Draco to nod. The blonde man was surprised that the kids weren't shocked or angry at him for what he'd just admitted. It was before their time, he supposed, and was realizing that he was like part of the family to them. He guessed he partly had Scorpius to thank for that. He was glad he wasn't such a horrible person, like before.
They passed Professor McGonagall. They all said hello to her, and she was at a loss for words. She looked at them until she couldn't see them anymore, and just shook her head.
The kids followed Neville, Draco and Luna to the teachers' table and chatted happily while Neville dumped Draco in his seat. Malfoy sat up, straightened his clothes, which he found were an evergreen colored vest with a swirling pattern in silver, and a charcoal grey waistcoat. It looked good, he had to admit. Luna and Neville shooed the kids to their seats, but not before James had a chance to suggest to Draco that he get a cartilage piercing. "It'll make you look tough," he promised. Draco just laughed.
Students filed in through the double doors, talking and laughing and looking excited for the first day of class. McGonagall entered and stood at the podium, waiting for the room to quiet down.
"Good morning, everyone," she said, once she had her silence. "If you didn't see them, two of the teachers revolutionised a new way to travel around the castle and the surrounding grounds this morning." Most of the people in the room laughed. McGonagall was smiling. "I would like to inform you all that it has formally been named the 'Elliven Express', or Ellie E. for short. Mister Jonathon Peters has offered to construct an article for your reading pleasure, and it will be offered to you at lunchtime." Jonathon stood and bowed. The room was filled with applause. "On that note, enjoy your meal."
Breakfast was enjoyed by all, especially Neville and Draco, who got several requests for autographs before the meal was done. When it was finished and everyone was heading to their classes, Draco was dog piled on. Twice.
"I hope you all enjoyed the show this morning," Draco shouted to be heard over the din in his classroom. Everyone quieted down, but they all had grins on their faces. Draco was smiling as well.
"For today, however, I would like to teach you of a curse that you would do well to avoid, and I advise you, do not attempt this curse on anyone." This was met with a great many confused stares. James and Albus glanced at each other with obvious "too many hits to the head" looks and a head tilt towards their professor.
"This curse is called 'sectumsempra'. I am teaching this to you so that you know what it is. At one point in this school, one student used this curse on another in a duel. The reason it was so dangerous is because he did not know what it would do. I am informing you so that if any of you happen upon this word, you won't use it by mistake. Only is you are in great danger should you use this curse."
Every eye in the room was riveted on Draco. He clasped his wand with both hands and said softly, just loud enough for everyone to hear, "this curse can kill."
Nearly every student gasped.
"As you know, or at least, as I hope you know, there are three forbidden spells. One makes the victim powerless to the commands of the caster. One puts the victim is excruciating pain. One kills instantly. Besides a residue of magic, there is no evidence of the victim's person that there was a spell cast. Besides the victim's reaction, you cannot look at a person and say that they are being controlled. What I'm trying to say is these spells do not leave a mark. This one does."
Draco summoned a log from beside the fire pit. "Anyone who this curse is used on will look as if they have been attacked by a sword. The wounds are large cuts. You cannot stab with this curse, you cannot chop things up, but you can seriously injure the other person. They can bleed to death."
He levitated the log to a height where everyone could see it. "Sectumsempra!" he bellowed, waving his wand in a figure eight. The log dropped to the floor, a figure eight carved deep into the wood. Some of the students looked sick.
"Now you know what it can do, so I hope you'll never use it by mistake. I also hope that this shows you the importance of perfecting your shield spells. In this class, and the ones following it, until the end of this week, we will be studying the counter-curse for this spell. This counter-curse is also able to heal lacerations made by most cutting spells. It is a difficult spell to master, and I sincerely hope that you will all be practising it after we've stopped practising it in class. Am I making myself clear?"
The third years nodded.
The rest of the class was spent muttering an incantation that Snape had once muttered over him. It was oddly comforting to hear.
Draco glanced up to see Albus. He was fidgeting nervously.
"May I ask... who performed this curse in the school and who was the victim?"
Draco set down his quill and clasped his hands in front of himself. "Did someone put you up to this, Mister Potter?"
Albus glanced back. His brother gave him a thumbs-up.
"James and I were wondering."
Draco nodded in understanding. "Your father found used a potions book that had been written in during his sixth year. I know this because Rose Weasley overheard him talking about it with her parents, and discussed this with Scorpius. The spell was written in the margins. He cast it without knowing what would happen."
Albus paled. "Who did he cast it on?" he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
Albus looked shocked. He looked ashamed, frightened, and shocked.
"Albus, I want you to understand something. Your father did not cast that spell knowing that it would hurt me. He was an honourable man, and I want you to think no less of him. In fact, I'll have you know that he immediately regretted casting the curse when he saw what happened. It was an accident. I am teaching this to you – in fact, the ministry asked me to teach this to you – so that no one will be hurt by this. If anything, I, personally, am glad that your father discovered this and made us teachers able to better prepare students for any situation. Alright?"
Albus seemed to relax slightly with every word. By the end, he was smiling. "Alright," he agreed.
"I don't want you telling the whole school. Your brother would obviously like to know," he said, and the two looked back at James, who was almost wiggling in his seat with impatience, "but other than him, no one needs to know about this. It isn't confidential information, but I don't want you father's name to possibly be blemished along the grapevine, if you know what I mean."
"Excellent. Now return to your seat and get chanting, before I skin you." Albus turned away, grinning, and the rest of the class was spent with only the rustling of papers, the scratching of quills, and the murmurings of incantations filling the room.
"I was chosen to be a seeker," James bragged at lunchtime. Actually, it was just after lunch. The Potters, Weasleys, Neville, Luna and Scorpius, along with a few of the children's Gryffindor and Slytherin friends had mobbed Draco's classroom while he'd been going over the lesson plan for the next week. He'd skipped lunch, and he guessed that part of the reason everyone was here was to get him to eat. In truth, he'd eaten too much at breakfast; he'd felt sick afterwards.
Neville had walked in, surrounded by the children, holding a large plate of food. "Eat," he'd ordered, setting the food down on top of Draco's quill. The blonde calmly lifted the plate off of the fluffy writing utensil, set it aside, and stared blankly at the food. He'd then looked up and Neville and proclaimed in a gruff voice, "Me Tarzan, you Jane." He'd gotten a surprised look in return.
"Are you making fun of me?"
"Noooo," he'd told him, and forced down a few bites.
"That's a muggle movie."
Draco had rolled his eyes. "And yet it was so appropriate.
By now his unfinished food had been mostly forgotten. Neville and Luna had dug out some old chairs to sit in, while the children simply hovered around the desk.
"That's two years after your father got on the team as a seeker," Draco informed James. "He must be so disappointed." With this he sighed dramatically.
"I could out seek my dad any day," James said without a hint of modesty. "You just watch. When he comes next week to watch me, you'll see."
"How do you mean, 'I'll see'?" Draco asked lightly, barely covering up his surprise and the surge of dread that the promise of Harry Potter being on school grounds sent through him.
"Well, we've all been talking," Albus interjected, cutting off James. "We were thinking, since how the first game of the year is next week, and it's Gryffindor versus Slytherin, and the two teams have been rivals for, well, ever..." He paused for dramatic effect.
"Oh, quit beating around the bush!" James cried, throwing his arms in the air.
"We were thinking," Rose growled, staring James down. The boy cowered, sneaking behind Neville and peeking at her from behind the man's shoulder.
"That we could get the old teams together," Albus finished. "You know, from our parents' days in the school. Have our dad as seeker, Rose's dad as keeper and all that. Just to show us how it's done. That's what our parents say whenever we practise."
"So we're giving them an opportunity."
"We've already cleared it with Head Mistress McGonagall," Lily chirped up from atop a stack of papers on Draco's desk. By now he was almost tempted to tell her to get down, but all the same, he didn't really care. It wasn't a big deal. It was just odd to look up at the girl.
"We've sent out the invitations, and all except one promised to come and play," Scorpius said.
"Who's the one?" Draco asked absently.
"The Slytherin seeker. We were going to ask him when we saw him," Hugo answered. Draco thought back to first year. Who had the Slytherin seeker been, anyways? He couldn't remember before his time as seeker... oh, no.
"Will you play, Professor Malfoy?" Rose asked politely. All the children had their hands clasped behind their backs and were looking at him hopefully.
"Like I said, I was a terrible prat when I was your age. I bought my way onto the team-"
"Please?" everyone asked at the same time. Draco pretended to think about it.
"Alright," he told them.
"Yay!" everyone screamed, including Neville and Luna. Draco smiled.
Then the dread that he was getting very familiar with seeped through him as he realized not only would he have to see Harry, he'd have to play against him. Just like old times.
Just like Lily's dream. But he wasn't thinking much about the warning from the little girl now. He was thinking more about the bludgers that would be flying by his head next week.
This was going to be very dangerous.