Draco Malfoy hated being in the center of attention. It made him feel as if every waking moment his every move had to be precise and practiced. Such as this morning, before heading to breakfast, he practiced his new nonchalant stare in the mirror. This year, he refused to allow Potter to crawl into his mind. This year, he determined would be the year he focused on himself. He no longer had a reputation to maintain, no pressures, and he no longer had to please any person other than himself. This year, he would live for himself.
Which is why at breakfast he refused to participate in any Potter-Golden-Trio-Bashing. He no longer cared. And why should he? Potter and his sidekicks didn't need his attention, and he certainly did not need theirs.
Taking a bite of the toast Draco held up his Potions book and began to read.
"Draco, darling, would you be so kind as to comment on our thoughts?" purred Pansy on his left, as she tapped his arm.
Placing his book open gently on the table, Draco turned to face her. Raising his eyebrow he caught her finger and twisted, causing her to gasp at the pain. Really, she knew better. Everyone knew by now he hated to be touched.
"Just what thought is so important that it needs my opinion Pansy?"
Wrestling her finger from his grasp and rubbing it she looked down, "Just Potter."
"And why should I care?"
Pansy, along with a few other Slytherins, mouth dropped.
"Because Draco, throughout the years you have been obsessed and consumed with the need to have his attention," interjected Blaise sitting on his right. He too turned to Draco with a surprised expression on his face, "Have you decided to give up on him then?"
Draco thought for a moment and sighed, "I just think that it is no longer prudent for me to care for Potter. This year I am leaving the Golden Boy alone."
"Have you lost your bloody mind?" yelled Pansy standing up. "Who are you and what have you done with Draco Malfoy?"
Draco sighed, "He is still here and would rather not waste the energy to care when there are so many other events and people to review and think about."
The Slytherins stilled. Of course they knew that, but Potter had always been a morning ritual that it became tradition for them to listen to Draco drone on about the Golden Boy. It also happened to be a release from the expectations. The expectations of parents, friends, and the unmentionables. Draco Malfoy was their leader and their distractions from such.
Blaise, the calmer one of the bunch nodded his head, "Draco, we understand, but surely you understand our surprise."
Draco nodded curtly, "I understand."
He then proceeded to close his potions book and placed it in his bag before standing up, "I expect everyone to do well this year."
Growing serious, Draco frowned at his entire table, "No excuses."
The "or else" was left unsaid and all the slytherins, new and old, shivered. This year meant business. And those who failed…well no one wanted to know the consequences.
Once Draco left the Great Hall he quickly headed towards Potions. He needed to clear his head. It was hard not looking at Potter at breakfast, but he made up his mind. He no longer needed to be in Potter's life. Of course he still craved the attention from Potter, but he needed to find himself. The past summer killed him. Mother and Father had raised their expectations of him to an entirely different level than before. So much so that he gave up. He did not need his father's approval, when the one approval he needed most was his own. To know that he tried his best, no matter what Father might say.
He tired of the nagging they gave him. He tired of feeling like a disappointment. He grew especially tired of convincing himself that he would be okay. Nothing would be okay. And that is why this year, he would escape everyone's clutches. This year belonged to him.
He didn't lie when he told his fellow classmates that he wanted to step up and become the leader they needed him to be. Rather he twisted it. He would become the leader he needed to be for himself. To prove to himself that he was worthy of the privilege to guide others without his father's help.
And right now, he knew the best way to do that was through example. Like Potter. As much as he picked on Potter, he envied the loyalty that Potter had. Very few in Slytherin trusted him; were loyal to him. His father's legacy enforced his leadership. His father being the right hand man of the Dark Lord ensured that his fellow classmates listened and followed. But Draco knew, given the chance, they would kill him.
Draco entered the Potions classroom and took a deep breath. He loved the smell of the room, as a child he always loved it when Professor Snape would come over. The smells of his godfather's robes were just what he needed after Father had completed his lesson with him. Whereas Father smelt of blood and dust, Professor Snape smelt of old spices, bats, and most importantly Hogwarts.
Draco moved to the front of the room and grabbed a seat. He felt the familiar twisting of his stomach and the quickening if his heart. Here, in this room lay, all of Draco's secrets that no one could ever touch. Not even the Dark Lord. The dungeons doors flew open as everyone began to pile in for the first potions lesson of the year.
Draco reached down in his bag, grabbed his potions book and brought it up along with his other school supplies.
Draco stiffened and refused to look as the owner of the voice sat down next to him.
Potter laughed at Draco's bland tone, "How was your summer?"
"Just fine? I recall a rather interesting development…"
Draco jerked his head.
"What do you know..." he began as he turned towards Potter. His throat went dry. Potter looked…well good. He no longer resembled the boy he was knew. Potter eluded a completely dark atmosphere. His skin retained its usual tan, and his hair still looked untamable as ever, but it was Potter's eyes that left him breathless. Gone were the glasses and in its place were the greenest eyes he ever beheld. If it weren't for Potter's voice, he doubts he would have recognized the man that sat next to him.
"Hmm and here I was thinking you'd be the only one able to talk and not gawk at me."
Draco shut his mouth, improvement or not, he refused to allow that to slide, "Potter, your looks may have improved but your personality remains as poor as ever."
Potter laughed. The sound of it rich and entrancing. The way Potter's whole being went into the laugh caught his attention and he couldn't look away. The way Potter's adams apple went up and down and the way his lips split into a smile.
Draco jerked out of his thoughts at the sound of his name, "Yes?"
"Are you alright?"
"Potter," Draco sighed resignedly, "what do you want?"
Potter tilted his head to the side and smiled, "You."
Draco nearly choked on air, "What?"
Smirking Potter drew closer to him, "I said I want you."
Draco's eyes were wide and his breathing became labored. What the hell is going on?
He looked over to find Weasley and Granger staring at him. Their stares unnerved him. Neither had any bit of hatred on their faces or revulsion; scarily, it looked like they were trying to encourage him.
"Draco…" Potter purred and gently cupped Draco's face to turn Draco's attention back to him.
Draco shivered, not that it was cold, but the possessiveness in which Potter just spoke struck a chord of fear in him. As if sensing this Potter frowned and let go of him and turned to look at the door.
Draco nearly jumped out of his chair as Professor Snape slammed the door opened, his robes billowing in their usual dramatic flair, causing Draco to smile. Granger and Weasley quickly sat down in their seats while Potter stayed next to Draco.
Potter, noticing this, nearly snarled.
"Open to page 194. Today you will brew one of the most difficult potions ever made: the Geminus Core Potion."
Professor Snape sneered at all of them, "Well, what are you waiting for, BEGIN!"
"Wait! Professor!" called Granger, "What is this potion used for?"
"Five points from Gryffindor for a ridiculous question."
"Do you wish to make it ten Granger?" Professor Snape asked curling his lip.
Granger shook her head and Draco felt sorry for her for a moment, but really, she should've seen that coming.
He saw Potter's hand go up in the air and nearly groaned. This can't bode well from the look on Potter's face. He slowly felt his godfather turn to them and tried to look away when he saw Severus eyebrow rise. Of course, he couldn't look away and merely raised an eyebrow in return. Truth was, he still had no idea why Potter sat next to him.
"Yes Mr. Potter?" snapped Severus.
Potter flashed Severus a smile, "It's good to see you Professor."
Draco gaped. Really, what the hell?
And from the look on his godfather's face he had nearly the same thought as he. And instead of taking points he pointed to Potter and Draco, "You two are now assigned partners for the rest of the year."
Draco gasped in outrage, "You can't be serious?"
"Oh and ten points from Gryffindor."
Potter grinned and gave Severus a nod.
"Yes. Mr. Malfoy, I am serious. I expect you to help Mr. Potter improve his potion skills this year."
Draco shook his head, this messed up his plans. He couldn't have Potter near him this year.
"Please Professor, assign me elsewhere," Draco softly implored.
Severus eyes narrowed, shadowing the concern he felt for Draco. His godson never said please. Steeling himself against the concern Severus felt he
"My word is final Mr. Malfoy."
With that Professor Snape wrote their assignment on the board and left.