Author's Note: Hello! So I'm starting another fic, because I feel like it. Please enjoy!
Credit for characters goes to J.K. Rowling, as usual! You know, because they're hers, and all. I'm just borrowing.
"What do you mean we're not students at Hogwarts anymore?" Draco demanded loudly, standing up from the Slytherin table in the Great Hall in a dramatic, exaggerated motion. Many other students, not all of them from Slytherin, accompanied him in protest and bewilderment. "We're here right now!"
Dumbledore raised his hands up to calm the students and gestured for them to sit again. They didn't. He continued anyway. "As I was saying before, you are no longer students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry… because this year we will all be traveling abroad!" There were many murmurs of shock and confusion circling the room as Dumbledore went on. "You will all be enrolled as students at a Muggle American academy called Redmond."
Indignant shouts arose from the Slytherin table at the word 'muggle'.
Draco scowled. "This is preposterous, a muggle school with Americans? Wait 'til my father hears about this, he'll never allow me to go!" he announced loudly.
Dumbledore smiled benignly at him. "All of your parents have already given their permission to let you go."
Draco gawked at him and sat down slowly as more and more students stood up in objection. Father...? He hates muggles! He sighed. Ever since Potter defeated the Dark Lord last summer and testified positively for them (resulting in their escape from a lengthy sentence to Azkaban), his father had been trying extremely hard to get on society's good side again. This must be another one of his ploys. Draco glared at the table silently. He was grateful to be alive and free, he really was. But he truly hated when his father sucked him into one of his good citizen acts.
Dumbledore was still talking despite the increasing chaos. "This is a school assignment for all of you. Study abroad in America and act as muggles for a school year. This will help you prepare for future encounters you may have working alongside muggles."
Draco rolled his eyes. Of course the old man was promoting muggle toleration. The Wizarding world had just gotten out of a war over it for Merlin's sake, thanks to Potter. Speaking of Potter… Draco glanced up casually at the Gryffindor table. Potter's green eyes were fixed on Dumbledore. He didn't look angry, but he didn't seem particularly keen on the idea either. Draco idly wondered whether or not the acclaimed Golden Boy had any opinion at all.
Dumbledore raised his voice higher over the commotion. "Of course, magic cannot be done in the presence of muggles, so only 6th years and older will be permitted to keep their wands. I do believe that they are all capable of controlling their magic discreetly in case of emergency. You shall not be punished for using magic whilst at Redmond, unless it is terribly dangerous and hazardous to anyone's well being. Still, use it sparingly. The point of this assignment is to learn how to live as muggle as possible."
Draco sighed in exasperation. Limited magic use? He was starting to hate this more and more by the second. Well, at least he'd get to keep his wand, seeing as this was essentially his 8th year.
"In the morning you shall all receive room assignments, as this is a boarding school. There will be four to a room, and I have made sure that your dorm mates will all be from Hogwarts, so those who are 6th year and older will not have to keep your magic in check at all times. Unfortunately, the dorms at Redmond are not separated by gender, so you may have a dorm mate or two of the opposite sex."
There were a few excited whispers about that. Draco raised his eyebrows but said nothing. It didn't matter to him, because he was impervious to romance of all sorts and so therefore this was just another trial to him. A stupid, hormonal trial, in his opinion. Memories of 4th year, or as he liked to call it, 'The Year Everybody Went Insane', were banned and void as an unspoken rule in the Slytherin House, mostly because that was the year that Draco had been young and naive and had attempted going around with a couple of girls. It didn't work, obviously, and thank Merlin. The whole idea of dating just repelled him, sort of like the way decent style repelled Potter or table manners repelled Weasley. Draco even liked to refer to himself as an emotionless rock. (Pansy had called him that once as an insult, but he had actually taken a liking to it. Or rather, he pretended to just to get on her nerves.) Besides, girls didn't really capture his interest much.
Dumbledore smiled and shook his head at the change of atmosphere among the students. "But that doesn't mean that you won't be regularly checked on upon by various professors, as well as yours truly. Coincidentally enough, our staff all have miraculously been able to join the staff at Redmond."
Dumbledore's eyes sparkled with delight, and Draco frowned. Sometimes the Headmaster scared him. Just a little.
"I will leave you all to your meals. After dinner, you may begin packing and saying your good-byes to your Housemates. May I remind you that Redmond will not have Houses, so I can guarantee that your new dorm mates will not all be your current ones."
Draco groaned at that, although he had half-expected it from the beginning. How else would Dumbledore have forced House unity upon the students? Everybody knew that that was what he was going for with this ridiculous plan, anyway. He glanced over at Blaise, who shot him a nervous look. Draco would be okay with anyone else he got dumped with, but he had to have Blaise around. He didn't know what he would do without his best friend and fellow Slytherin.
Blaise scooted closer to him. "Do you reckon that we'll be put in the same dorm?" the dark-haired boy asked, nervously observing his cleanly cut fingernails.
Draco shrugged. "Don't know. But we better, or I'll hex a bint."
Blaise grinned. "I'm going to be hexing them left and right anyway. We're going to a bloody muggle school! And worse, they're American. Damn, they're the worst kind of muggles. I've heard they're the most obnoxious ones out there."
Draco frowned. "Where is the school again?"
"Redmond academy in California. I believe that I've been there, once. Some bloke with intensely spiked hair informed me that my Slytherin House ring was 'hella sick bro', and I swear to Merlin, I was this close to hexing his balls off. Honestly, what the hell does that even mean?"
Draco scoffed. "We're going to have to fit in there, you know. So you might as well just go around saying that all the time now."
Blaise stuck his tongue out at him in response, and the two boys ate the rest of their meal in silence. Draco tried not to think about Redmond at all, because he knew that it would only make him nervous and he did not want to admit to being nervous about attending a Muggle school. But the idea continued to swarm in his brain until he thought he was going to be sick. He pushed his food away and sulked morosely. When both boys were finished with their meals, Blaise and Draco looked at each other, nodded, and got up to go back to the Slytherin dorms together.
Harry sighed loudly as he sat down on the couch in the Gryffindor common room after dinner, looking up and smiling at Ron and Hermione as they made to join him on the opposite couch.
"Can you believe it, Harry?" Hermione asked excitedly, for the third time since they'd come back from dinner. "A muggle school! This is so exciting! I'll be able to teach you guys so many things about culture and social norms, oh, it'll be loads of fun!"
Ron glanced at Harry and rolled his eyes from behind her. "Yeah, we can't wait," he deadpanned, earning a dirty look from Hermione before she stomped away to gush about it with the Patil sisters. When she was gone, the redhead sighed and nudged Harry's arm.
"Do you think we'll be in the same dorm?" he asked, nervously picking at the lint on his sweater.
Harry shrugged. He doubted that Dumbledore would be dense enough to put him in the same dorm with either Ron or Hermione, since he was trying to get the students to branch out. But he could dream, couldn't he? "I hope so. It would be nice to at least have another Gryffindor around all year."
Ron nodded in agreement. "Imagine if I got paired up with all Slytherins, mate," he said.
They both shuddered.
"What if I started hanging out with a bunch of Slytherins?" Harry asked, and the two boys looked at each other and chuckled. It wasn't like he particularly had many malevolent feelings towards Slytherins anymore since the war was over (besides the fact that they were extremely conniving and sneaky and often got on his nerves), but it was certainly a ridiculous idea. Harry Potter and the Slytherins, hanging out. What a laugh.
"What if I became friends with Slytherins?" Ron laughed.
"What if I became friends with Malfoy?" Harry countered, and now the both of them were holding their stomachs in laughter.
"Oh oh, what if you started fancying Malfoy?" Ron hooted, and Harry started choking violently.
"Oh Merlin, that's not even okay to joke about," he sputtered.
As Ron calmed down, he clapped a hand on Harry's back with a giant grin on his face.
"You've got to admit, that was a good one."
- - -
Later that night, Harry was wandering around the castle under his cloak, trying to memorise every little detail of the school. He couldn't sleep. It might be true that the school swap was only for a year, but this was Harry's last year at Hogwarts. As an 8th year, he and his friends wouldn't be coming back. This was their last night as Hogwarts students...well, ever. Harry rubbed his eyes and tried to ignore how his chest tightened with sorrow. A lot of shit had gone down over the years here at Hogwarts, but he didn't regret any of it. He would miss every bit of it.
Harry then caught sight of a dusty old tapestry he had never really noticed hanging on the wall and crept closer to get a better look at it, since he probably would never get to see it again after tonight. And without looking, he tripped on something on the floor and toppled over with a soft 'oomph'. When he stood up, he found himself invisible face to face with a very annoyed Draco Malfoy, who had his hands planted on his slender hips. Harry held his breath as the other boy glared in his general direction.
"Potter!" the blond spat. "I know it's you out there. Show yourself immediately!"
Harry sighed. Guess the game's up. He whipped off the cloak with a light whoosh and tucked it into his pocket. Then he looked up at Malfoy with an expectant gaze.
Malfoy looked surprised for a moment to see him, as if he hadn't actually believed that he was there, but his usual mask returned in an instant. "What are you doing out right now, Potter? It's after curfew! I'm going to have to take 10 points from Gryffindor for your behaviour."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Malfoy, it's not like House points even matter anymore."
Malfoy opened his mouth to counter that, but nothing came out for once. Taking away points from Gryffindor was one of the snotty Slytherin's favourite pastimes, and now that was being taken from him. Harry suddenly felt the need to giggle maniacally and dance around in a circle around the dumbfounded boy, but then he thought that might be just a tad immature, even for him.
"Damn it," Malfoy finally responded, glaring at the floor.
"Yeah," Harry murmured. "It's our last night at Hogwarts. Ever."
Malfoy glanced up at him as though he had just realised that. "I never thought of it that way," he commented with a pensive expression that Harry had never seen before on the other boy's normally sneering face. "It's kind of bittersweet, isn't it?"
Taken aback by Malfoy's conversational tone, Harry just nodded slowly at him. He'd never heard the boy speak to him in any manner that wasn't vicious, wrathful, smug, or spiteful, and it was sort of disconcerting. Malfoy looked a bit surprised at himself, too. The ends of his mouth were tugged down and his fingers twitched by his side as if he were going to say something else to make the whole thing seem less, well... less pleasant. And since Harry didn't particularly want to get into yet another fight tonight, he decided that it was time to leave.
"Um, well, g'nite," Harry mumbled, pulling the cloak back out and draping it over himself, not wanting the other boy to see the surely confused expression on his face.
And after a few moments, Malfoy awkwardly waved in his general invisible direction.
"Er, night, Potter."
Harry walked back to Gryffindor tower with a slight frown now developing on his face. That was... weird. They'd actually had a legitimate conversation, with no hexing or insults or brutal and/or physical contact. Well, it was all of about two sentences, but still... what? Harry shuffled into his room and climbed into bed to pull the covers over him, lying still and chewing on his lip thoughtfully. Well, the war was over and they really weren't on opposing sides or anything anymore. Maybe it was time to do the mature thing and befriend the blond prat... Harry shook his head and laughed, despite himself.
Malfoy and I, friends? He snorted to himself in the darkness as he imagined it, slowly lulling into dreamland. When pigs fly.
The next morning, Draco shifted around nervously in his seat at the Slytherin table as he waited to hear his room assignment. He had been become incredibly antsy ever since Pansy had informed him that the students were to board some muggle contraption called an airplane and somehow fly over to the States in it. Of course, this sounded completely absurd to Draco. Why should they have to fly all the way over there in some strange muggle thing when they could just Apparate? Draco had just gotten his license and was annoyed that he would not be able to use it. Not like he would be able to at Hogwarts either, but still. It was stupid. And he wanted a reason to complain, damn it.
He turned to watch as Millicent Bulstrode, who was sitting a couple seats down, yelled and waved her wand around like a maniac. She'd broken it just the night before and now her magic was all out of sorts, and had also created a massive fiasco in the Slytherin dorms this morning. Of course, she couldn't get a new one now and she would have to spend the year with a mangled wand. He felt sorry for her, but she really need to stop shrieking. It was hurting his ears, and really, it wasn't that fucking dramatic. (Although, he'd probably create an even bigger fuss if it were him.)
Draco glanced around the room some more and surveyed Potter drag his trunk alongside his friends, looking thoroughly exhausted. He smirked a little at the thought of the other boy getting the very little sleep that he did. That's what he gets for staying out after curfew. Of course, Draco was entirely unreceptive to the effects of sleep deprivation, so his lack of sleep didn't affect him at all. He had trained himself to be impervious to those types of things and he was a Malfoy, for Merlin's sake. He could do whatever the fuck he wanted to.
Draco took a moment to think about what Potter had said the night before. He hadn't exactly realised it prior to when the other boy had mentioned it, but they truly wouldn't be coming back. Draco hadn't always loved going to school here, but still, it was his childhood. He grew up at Hogwarts, so it was only natural for him to become a bit attached, although he tried not to get too sad about it. The moment between him and Potter was weird enough; he didn't need to add to the list of 'Feelings That Draco Trained Himself Not To Feel'. That included discomfort, misery, sentimentality, and of course, love. All incredibly absurd emotions, and he would never need them.
Dumbledore stood up at the podium to get the attention of the students. "Your room assignment and dorm mates will appear on a scrap of parchment in front of you. After you receive them please meet up with your dorm mates, as you will be traveling with them. Remember that the ones you will be paired up with will be your classmates and advisors for the entire year. I trust that you will become fast friends with them. So good-bye, good luck, and I will see you all next at Redmond academy!" Dumbledore clapped his hands and tiny scraps of parchment appeared in front of the students as he disappeared in a colourful mist.
Draco closed his eyes and took a deep breath before glancing down at his assignments. A moment later, he dropped it in horror.
"Aw, we didn't get paired up," Blaise commented, observing at his own parchment. "But I got paired with Pansy! So that's good. Who did you get?"
Draco couldn't speak. He slid the parchment across the table to Blaise, who grabbed at it eagerly. Draco watched as the other boy's eyes became wider and wider as he read each name. His eyes were like saucers when he reached the last one.
"Finnigan, Finch-Fletchley and... AHAHAHAH WHAT'S THIS? MERLIN'S BALLS, POTTER? OH SWEET SALAZAR, THAT IS PRICELESS, " Blaise hooted, slamming the parchment down on the table and wiping amused tears from his eyes.
Draco stared at him grimly and didn't say a word.
"Two Gryffindors and a Hufflepuff. Damn luck," Blaise said, still laughing.
Draco just turned and looked over at the Gryffindor table to find Potter watching him with an expression that surely matched his own.
Harry's gaze had been fixed on Malfoy the moment he had read the other boy's name on his own parchment, and he sighed when Malfoy glanced up at him in horror. But of course they were put in the same dorm, he should've known! This was probably Dumbledore's doing. The tricky Headmaster always liked to stir up trouble, and he probably thought that this arrangement would somehow force him and Malfoy to become friends. Well, it wasn't going to work, judging by the disgusted look on Malfoy's face. Harry felt a little like throwing up himself. And he couldn't even think of complaining about it now, since Dumbledore had strategically disappeared in his little cloud of colour before the assignments came out just so that he could avoid the obvious chaos he had created. Harry pouted.
Ron nudged his shoulder, pulling him out of his thoughts. "I've got Hermione, Dean, and Luna! Who have you got?"
Harry gave him a dejected look. "Seamus, Justin, and Malfoy," he told him, in a monotone voice.
Ron made a face, but patted his friend on the back sympathetically. "At least you've got Seamus and Justin, mate," the redhead tried.
Harry just shrugged.
Ron was about to say something else, but stopped as his gaze shifted to something over Harry's head. His blue eyes widened with excitement. "Bloody hell, what's that?"
Harry turned around and observed Millicent Bulstrode swinging her broken wand around in the air, desperately trying to vanish a creature that was flying around the Slytherin table. He frowned and glanced at Malfoy, who had his face in his palm.
Ron pointed at it with glee. "Harry, look! It's a flying pig!"
Harry's forehead hit the table with a loud crash.
(Another) Author's Note: Just so you know, I have nothing against Americans. I am one, in fact, and I'm just having a good time making fun of us. There'll probably be a lot more of that in the coming chapters. And I have no idea what Redmond is, I just made it up. So if it's real, that's just awesome. Anyways, did you like it? Will you review? …Please? :)