"The mediwitch is coming today," Malfoy said the next morning. Harry looked up from the fruit salad he was chopping for breakfast, startled. Evidently, Malfoy wasn't going to mention the events of last night, because he said nothing further.
"Oh erm, great," was all Harry could think to say. "Well. I'll have breakfast out in a bit."
Malfoy nodded tersely and sat down at the table.
Harry suddenly felt like he'd put his foot in his mouth and he had no idea why.
Harry set the fruit salad on the table and loaded up Malfoy's plate. "Will the mediwitch be staying for lunch?"
Malfoy bit into a piece of pineapple instead of replying. Then he spat it out. "Fruit, Evans?" Malfoy said, raising a pale eyebrow.
"It's good for you," Harry replied. Fruit salad was the only other food in his culinary repertoire other than spaghetti and pancakes. He'd have to see about owling Ron for recipes as soon as possible.
"Fruit is for fruit-flies," Malfoy said and put his fork down. "Bring pancakes."
"Grandfrey, I'm not a house-elf."
"Yes, but when musical genius Soames Grandfrey is found dead in his house due to malpancaketrition, all the blame is going to fall on his assistant."
"Malpancaketrition?" Harry asked, stunned by how easy it was to be talking to Malfoy, how good it was to banter after months of staring at his wall with nothing but music and Hermione's nagging for company.
"Horrible disease. Happens when you don't get enough pancakes."
Malfoy was smiling a bit, and there was a dimple tucked in the thin crease of his cheek. Any idea Harry had of insisting on fruit, vanished. He headed back to the counter and started pulling out the ingredients, which he noticed, were running rather low.
Harry expected Malfoy to defect to the music room, but perhaps Malfoy didn't want Harry to see him stumble out of the room, because he was still at the table when Harry brought out the first pancake.
"You're even more spoiled then a pet poodle," Harry said sliding the pancake onto Malfoy's plate. He slipped a double serving of fruit onto Malfoy's plate along with it. Malfoy needed his nutrients.
"Excuse me? I think I'd rate a bulldog at least," Malfoy said as Harry continued to fry up the pancakes.
"Highly attractive dogs. The distinguished face wrinkles. Their voices. A deep bass. Mmmmm."
Harry paused. "…You just said bulldogs are attractive."
"Don't be jealous. I know you've got the face of a toucan."
Harry tried to remember what toucans looked like. All that came to mind were big orange bills. He decided to take it as a compliment.
"Hey, are you working for a blind person because you've got some hideous physical deformity?"
Harry put down his spatula and turned around. He knew Malfoy couldn't see him glare but somehow glaring made him feel better. "Grandfrey. You practically felt me up last night. Everything was in place."
Malfoy went a little red.
Then, very quietly he said, "You are cross eyed aren't you?"
Malfoy was still wearing his dark glasses, Harry still had not see his eyes, but the sun was dancing on Malfoy's cheekbones and his hair fell over his face in a blonde swoosh, so it just stuck up at odd angles. He looked like he'd just crawled out of bed and he was smiling, a wide brilliant smile, utterly delighted with himself for getting in the last word, and Harry had to look away, look down at the plain brown of his pancakes against the white ceramic plate.
"So the mediwitch," Harry said and then regretted it because Malfoy's smile died.
There was a long painful pause and Harry wanted to kick himself, wanted to reel the words back even though they had seemed so innocuous and he also wanted to kick Malfoy for being so damn sensitive.
"The medi-witch is bringing a new potion for me to try," Malfoy said finally. "She thinks it might be the right cure." He got up and started fumbling for the wall. Harry rushed over, and grabbed Malfoy's wrist.
Malfoy punched him in the face.
"You bastard," Harry snarled, grabbing his sore nose.
Malfoy's mouth went thin and hard. "I don't need your pity." He'd found the wall and his hands were milk-pale against the green wallpaper. The sun turned his hair into liquid gold. He banged into a corner, cursed, hit his foot, and then, the room was empty.
On the stove a pancake was burning, but Harry couldn't bring himself to move. He looked at Malfoy's plate. Malfoy had eaten everything on his plate, the pancakes and fruit salad, even the spat out piece of pineapple.
Malfoy complained like he was emperor of the world, Harry thought, but he ate like a desperate man.
The mediwitch came a few hours later. She was a plump woman with wisps of grey hair and apple-red cheeks. She looked cozy and cheerful and Harry took to her immediately. She reminded him of Mrs. Weasley.
The agency must have warned the mediwitch about Harry because she didn't seem surprised when she saw him. She only pressed his hand warmly, and said, "Thank you," as Harry ushered her into the seldom used study where Malfoy was waiting, and Harry couldn't tell if it was for the ushering or because he was Harry Potter.
He forgot all about that when he saw Malfoy. Malfoy was sitting on a green velvet armchair. He was clutching the arms in a white knuckled grip and his back was ramrod straight. He looked like he'd been hewed from a block of granite.
"Out, Evans," he said to Harry.
Harry swallowed all sorts of protests and went off into the kitchen to make lunch. If this is how Malfoy treated his house-elves, no wonder Dobby had been so fond of Harry.
At noon he laid out lunch on the table. Half an hour passed. No one came out of the study.
Harry walked up to the door to announce lunch, then thought better of it. He didn't want to seem over protective and Malfoy certainly deserved his privacy. Still they'd been in there for at least three hours. How long could it take to down a bloody potion?
Another hour passed. Harry started pacing the hallway and thanked the heavens he'd made sandwiches instead of something that would coagulate. Then he realized he'd actually just worried about food coagulating and forced himself out into the garden to pull weeds.
Still, he made sure to stay within eyeshot of the glass doors so he'd be able to see when Malfoy left the study to cross through the foyer.
Malfoy emerged from the room hours later. Harry leapt up as soon as he saw Malfoy's figure through the glass.
"So?" he said, trailing behind Malfoy. "Sandwiches," he said as Malfoy sat down at the table, as Malfoy felt around for a fork and knife.
"So what?" Malfoy tore into the sandwich even though it had been out for hours and the bread must have been dry.
"So how did it go? Should I set out another plate for her?"
"Well, what did she say?" Harry said. He winced. He sounded like a flustered parent. "You were in there an awfully long time for drinking a potion." Great. Now he sounded like he'd been counting the minutes. "I mean, how long will it take to start working?" Malfoy's face went sort of frozen so Harry tried for humor instead. "I mean, how much longer will I be house-elfing for you?"
"Just that eager to leave aren't you?" Malfoy snapped. He threw down his sandwich, and left. Only, instead of sweeping out of the room he ended up walking into the wall.
Malfoy stopped. The back of his neck went a dull red. Harry didn't dare move.
Malfoy did not come out for dinner.
The next few days were blessedly Malfoy free. At least that's how Harry tried to think about it. He went shopping. He bought recipe books. He read them. He cooked. He brought the meals to the music room on china plates. He'd tried to enter on the first day but it was locked. Malfoy's room was also locked, and how Malfoy managed with keys and bolts when he couldn't even walk properly, was a complete mystery to Harry.
The plates, Harry noticed, were always empty.
After the fourth day the silence started getting to Harry. He called Hermione on the cellphone he'd picked up while doing groceries, in case of emergencies.
"Harry, how are you?" she cried, when she picked up the phone. "Ron's been at me ever since you left. He's convinced that I've ruined your life, which is total nonsense because you were already doing that on your own…"
Harry thought that was a bit much for a first phone call, but Hermione was uncharacteristically silent for once, as if she really wanted to hear his answer.
"He's a real prick," Harry said.
"I thought you'd be fanboying him all over the place."
"Well I would if he wasn't Dr-" Harry stopped.
"An overdramatic prima donna. He has tantrums over the smallest things. Seriously, Hermione I'm trying so hard, and the smallest thing will set him off. He's holed up over his piano and he won't talk to me and I don't even know why."
Harry waited for some sympathy.
Hermione laughed, a bright delighted gurgle. "It's good to have you back, Harry," she said.
"What on earth do you mean? I'm in bloody France."
Hermione just laughed again. "I'm sure you'll beat it out of him." She hung up, before Harry could ask her to put Ron on for some pancake recipes.
As Harry threw dinner together, he wondered why he hadn't told Hermione about Draco. He and Hermione had been to hell and back together. He would trust her with his life. He had trusted her with her life. At some level she and Ron were extensions of him. Without them he was always doomed to feel like part of himself was missing. If he owed anyone anything it was his friends. Or Draco's mother. But Harry did not want to think about the past.
That was it, he decided. The past was over. It was done. He was a victim of it, and Malfoy hiding behind his piano in France was another victim. If Malfoy didn't want the past to come back, then who the hell was Harry to force it upon him?
He sat down and wrote a brief note to Ron that he could owl off.
The crazy musician I'm working for is nuts about pancakes. Owl me your best recipes. Actually all of your recipes. Getting sick of my standard three recipes, and reading recipe books is worse than potions.
Perhaps the Universe was paying attention or Harry earned some form of karma points because Malfoy appeared for dinner. He didn't say anything to Harry, just fumbled his way into a chair and waited for dinner.
He was still wearing the dark glasses and his shirt was buttoned crookedly, but he was clean and he wasn't screaming.
Harry set a plate down in front of Malfoy and slid into the opposite chair. He wanted to know in the worst way possible what had brought about this sudden change of heart—boredom? Minor brain damage?
Malfoy was eating, his head bowed over his soup. His hair stuck up and the pale lines of his neck made him look young, very vulnerable, and Harry suddenly wondered how many people Malfoy saw in a given week.
This is Soames Grandfrey, Harry told himself. He is a stranger you've just met. Bit sensitive, but he's losing his hearing, and that'd make anyone go around the bend. Be kind. Be patient.
"So, you ought to tell me what you like eating," Harry said when Malfoy was halfway through his soup. "If it hasn't escaped your notice I know about three recipes. That's soup's from a can. I've been trying to read recipe books but I don't even know where to begin."
Harry counted to ten. Kind. Patient. Kind. Patient, he repeated to himself. This is my mantra.
"Grandfrey, you imbecile, God knows I'm crazy, but somehow I'm still a fan even after meeting you in person. I would like to hear more of your music, and I will not have your death by starvation on my hands." Harry gave himself full points for being kind and patient, although he had a feeling if Hermione could hear him, she'd smack him.
The corner of Malfoy's mouth twitched.
Harry continued, cheered. "So…"
"Bear meat would be good," Malfoy said. "It's packed full of protein. Good for hearing."
Harry choked and promptly forgot about his new mantra and his resolution to let the past go. "What kind of rich brat are you?" he squawked. "Bear?"
"It's an ancient family tradition."
"You've got to be shitting me. Where am I going to find bear here anyway?"
Malfoy shrugged again, but the other corner of his mouth twitched. He ducked his head over his bowl, but Harry saw the smile anyway, and it was more than worth feeling like a total idiot for taking the bait.
"No seriously," Harry said.
"Seriously. Anything. As long as it's not fattening."
"But you eat pancakes all the time—"
Malfoy continued like he hadn't heard. "I've got to watch my weight. Part of being a celebrity."
"You're a celebrity who never goes out," Harry said. "What are you on?"
There was a silence and Harry wanted to punch himself in the face. The Universe cut him a break, and he went and crapped all over it. Welcome to his life. He opened his mouth to blurt out something, he didn't know what, but Malfoy threw back his head and roared with laughter.
"You have no manners, Evans."
"I'm an orphan," Harry muttered. "Badly brought up and all that."
Malfoy snorted. "Harry Potter is an orphan and he saved the world. Don't even try that on me."
Malfoy cocked his head. "Actually, I take that back. Potter was a total prat. Actually, I don't want to think about Potter. He depresses me."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked, afraid to know, and more afraid of not knowing. His chest felt like it was gripped by iron rods.
"He, oh, I don't know…" Malfoy said. "He was brought up outside the wizarding world, and then brought in to save it. No one ever asked him if he wanted all of that. You almost have to feel sorry for him. Almost. I'm sure all the fame went to his head."
Harry had never thought of it that way. He hadn't ever wanted to think about it that way because if he did, he might go to bed and never get up again. Hogwarts had been magical, dreams and miracles wrapped up in a gigantic birthday present, a sanctuary after eleven years of the Dursleys.
"You've got a funny way of showing you felt sorry for him," Harry spat.
Malfoy had the grace to blush, but his voice was even. "What do you mean?"
It was enough to remind Harry of the charade they were playing: strangers without a past. "Calling him a prat," Harry said finally. "How do you know he was anyway?"
Malfoy waved a hand. "Have you read all those articles about him?"
Harry sputtered. "I didn't think you were into celebrity gossip."
Malfoy shrugged. "I have to find inspiration for my music somehow."
Harry choked. "The music that's inspired millions is based on feelings inspired by celebrity columns?"
"The rage," Malfoy corrected. "He is such a prat."
"Potter didn't have a happy childhood, you know," Harry ventured. "I'm sure the wizarding world was a relief."
"He was raised by some awful Muggles who abused him or something, there were all sorts of rumors," Malfoy said.
"Rumors?" Harry said, insulted.
"Where have you been? The whole wizarding world talked about it. The way he wasn't properly fed and practically Muggle when he came to school."
The wizarding world had been pitying him?
"How do you know any of this anyway?" Harry said, furious, and waited for Malfoy to explain his way out of it.
"We had loads of family friends at Hogwarts."
"Didn't you go to school with him? You seem like you'd be the right age." Harry dared Malfoy to worm his way out of that one. So far, Malfoy had no idea of who Harry was or his background. If Harry had gone to Hogwarts there was a good chance he'd seen Malfoy and knew exactly who he was.
Apparently the same thought occurred to Malfoy. "I didn't go," he said. He waited but Harry said nothing. "Too delicate," Malfoy continued experimentally. "Spent most of my childhood in France."
Harry gave himself points for not snickering. "Yeah," he said instead. "I didn't go either."
"Really?" Malfoy said, his voice delighted. "I always felt so left out."
Harry had to admire Malfoy's acting abilities. "Naw. I always wanted to go, but my relatives were, erm…." Harry struggled to think of an appropriate excuse. He had nothing on Malfoy. As soon as dinner was over he was going to his room and inventing a proper history for Jerry Evans.
"I know. Mine were too."
"It's alright. I understand," Malfoy said, and his voice was matter of fact. "Most people don't, but I do. Your relatives, my parents thought they were protecting us, keeping us away from impure blood and Muggle influences, and that crackpot Dumbledore…"
A hazy mist rose in Harry's mind. There was a limit to how much he could take in one night. "Dumbledore wasn't—" he said, and the cut himself off before he could ruin the charade.
Malfoy didn't notice. He was still trying to reassure Harry. "They were doing their best, that's all," he said. "They were just teaching us to believe what they'd always believed, and in the end it was just a mistake. Their lives, our lives, were all based on a stupid, stupid mistake and it cost us everything."
Harry wanted to reach over and pat Malfoy, tell him it was alright, look him straight in the eye and say it was over, the past didn't matter, but when he looked at Malfoy all he could see was his own reflection wavering in across Malfoy's dark glasses.