Chapter 1: Recollection
~A Hopeful End to a Miserable Summer~
[Number Four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey; July 30th 1996, 10:19 PM]
Harry James Potter lay awake on his worn, lumpy twin bed, starring up at the ceiling of Dudley's old 'junk' room; 'junk' was used liberally when in reference to Harry's current sleeping quarters by the Dursleys. His thoughts were scattered, running rampant in his head, as his emerald eyes traced the odd patterns only serious scrutiny and concentration seemed to produce.
His summer at the Dursleys was coming to a close, finally.
A hand drawn calendar, just a dingy scrap piece of parchment left over from an essay, was tacked to the wall above his head. The fading numbers were crossed off with big bold red 'X's, a stark contrast on the ruddy paper with fading black ink. The marks lead up to one specific day that had its importance marked by a thick red circle.
Harry turned sixteen in less than three hours. More importantly, however, Dumbledore had promised that he would be there at 7 o'clock that morning to personally escort him to the Burrow, where the Weasley's would be expecting him for breakfast. The old wizard was allowing him to spend the duration of his summer there until it was time to start up his sixth year at Hogwarts.
Harry didn't know if it was the excitement or relief that kept him up. His body seemed to thrum with pent up energy, and his muscles would occasionally twitch as if in anticipation of something. What that something was, however, Harry really had no clue.
His summer had been really, really dull. About as dull as the faded and stained wallpaper in his current prison cell, Harry thought smugly. Actually, he was quite thankful for its dullness, the summer, not the room…
Voldemort hadn't stirred up any more trouble since the 'Battle at the Ministry', and this lack of action both worried and comforted him. The vile man was either seething with anger while stewing over losing the battle, or he was planning yet another horribly elaborate plan to rid himself of one innocuous Harry Potter; the probability of both was too high for his liking.
Harry's fifth year had ended with a bang, literally so.
Not only had Voldemort tricked Harry with a fake vision, successfully drawing the Gryffindor to the Ministry of Magic, they all very well almost died there. Even now, Harry could feel the cold chill of Voldemort's magic as it washed over him in thick suffocating waves as the dark wizard attempted to possess him. It had taken all of Harry's control, every last bit of what Snape had tried to teach him during their private Occlumency lessons, and more, to force the stronger wizards' spirit from his body. (Harry really needed to thank Snape…) In the end Voldemort had retreated as soon as Dumbledore arrived.
Luckily everyone had come away from the 'battle' whole, if not a little worse for wear. Sirius, who had had a close call with his crazy cousin Bellatrix Lestrange, would have surely died if it hadn't been for Remus and a quickly cast Protego. To top things off, Voldemort, being the flashy bastard he was, exploded the Atrium in a power play and attempt at intimidation when he confronted Harry. It hadn't really worked, but Harry had to admit that it was the best part of the whole ordeal, because now that horrible racially offensive statue no longer existed. Well… not in one piece.
Harry didn't know what he would have done if any of them had died or been seriously injured. The scare with Sirius was enough to send Harry into nightmares; he couldn't bear to see Cedric and Sirius starring back at him with eyes full of resentment and blame. It would have been his fault. It was his fault… He was the one who had fallen for the bait; and even though he knew he could have never stopped them, he was responsible for putting so many of his precious people in danger for nothing. Thinking of the others had Harry blinking back tears. They were his friends… his family… his life…
A knot formed in his chest, and Harry found it hard to breathe. His eyes shuttered closed as he focused on his breathing. The room was silent except for the sound of his stuttering breath and the chirping of summer crickets drifting through the small crack in his window. He couldn't lose anyone else; the thought of them not being there because of him made him nauseous.
His precious people…
A gasp escaped slightly parted lips as an image flashed behind his closed lids. Snapping his eyes open, Harry started at the ceiling in horror as his face tinted a warm pink in anger at his own thoughts. That was most definitely not one of his precious people! Just the thought of 'that' person made him grit his teeth angrily. His mind betrayed him, however, as he fell back into the memories of that night at the Ministry, heart stuttering much the same as it had during those first moments of surprised meeting; images of silver eyes and a wicked smile dancing through his thoughts.
Harry still couldn't fathom the strange way Lucius Malfoy had acted during their encounter. The elder Malfoy hadn't outright attacked him, or at all for that matter. Actually, when they had come face to face in the Hall of Prophecy, Malfoy had removed his Death Eaters mask, eyes blown wide in what Harry believed to be confusion and disbelief, though he couldn't understand why. Harry then watched as the blondes narrow brows drew together and his silver eyes narrowed to two thin semi-intimidating slits of seriousness, never once leaving Harry's face. Even now, the intense scrutiny still made him shiver. It was as if Malfoy had seen something he hadn't expected, or maybe he noticed something about Harry that had gone overlooked up until that crucial point.
In truth, Harry hadn't reacted well in that moment either… He was still rather embarrassed and ashamed of himself really. To say that his look of confusion, and dare he say, shyness under the scrutiny, was rivaled only by Neville, who was also close enough to the blonde to see the subtle change in manner. As he had stared back at the unblinking man whose own thoughts seemed to have frozen him in place, Harry recalled glancing at Luna as the girl exclaimed a soft "oh, I see", which only did to increase his own confusion. It seemed like the odd little 'moment' went own forever, and Harry was only drawn away by Ron's alarmed exclamation and a shrill cackle. Bellatrix Lestrange slid coolly up to Lucius's side baiting them with words that made near to no sense. One glance back at the Malfoy proved that the moment was over; it was all business from there.
Then they had fought… well… it wasn't really much of a fight, as he and his friends tried to escape the numerous Death Eaters that had appeared from the darkness during Malfoy's attempt at retrieving the prophecy by using diplomacy.
As he ran, Harry tried to shake the little voice in the back of his mind that whispered about being caught in the large, long-fingered hands of one blonde and very arrogant Death Eater and how it might not be so bad. He didn't know whose thoughts they were, because surely they weren't his own. He'd never thought of another person, especially a man, and one so much older than himself, in such a way. He was a fifteen-year-old boy with plenty of world experience, but none he could file under the tag of 'intimate' or 'romantic'.
And perhaps it was the darkness, a trick of shadows, but Harry could have sworn he saw a hint of pleading and regret in those silver eyes as the man had tried once again with negotiation when they were surrounded in the room with the veiled archway. The pure look of pain that flashed across the man's face lasted no more than a second, but Harry had seen it and felt a shiver travel up his spine. Malfoy didn't want to hurt him, and that thought above all others baffled him. He wasn't given much time to think on why Lucius Malfoy, right hand man of Lord Voldemort himself, found it so hard to resort to violence when the man had been so unpleasant in all of their previous encounters, because the battle began in full swing on the arrival of the Order.
Everything had turned to chaos. Spells flew in every direction, and curses were hurled liberally. It was hard to tell friend from foe; the only indication being the swirl of pearl white or black mist that surrounded a wizard as they apparate around the room. Then, as if in slow motion, he saw a flash of green from the corner of his eye, but it was too late to do anything. Harry felt his heart stutter to a stop as his own death hurtled towards him.
Things speed up again as someone shoved Harry down and out of the way, the stray curse blazing past to make contact with a sturdy stone pillar. Looking up he froze. It was the sharp Malfoy features he saw and cold grey eyes that stared down at him with an unreadable expression. And as Lucius rose his wand, harry had the sinking feeling that the man only saved him so that he could kill him personally, but the look in those pale eyes stopped that thought. Warmness washed over him, and then the elder Malfoy was gone, apparating away in a swirl of black and grey, soon again lost in the fray.
It was now Harry assumed, 'safely' tucked away at the Dursleys, that Mr. Malfoy had cast a protection spell. Harry didn't know why the blonde had chosen to save him, even going so far as protecting him with a fairly intricate wordless protection spell, and a part of him (much larger than he would like to admit) wanted to know why. Lucius Malfoy had always been something of a neutral for Harry. Every time they had met the man either insulted whomever Harry was with, or he had made quite a few snide remarks about Harry himself. Perhaps it was better to say it like this: Draco Malfoy was his nemesis, his rival, and the hate for the son bled into the hate for the father long before he'd ever met the man; Lucius Malfoy was also one of the closest supporters of Voldemort, his arch enemy. It was something that he had been told he should do, that his feelings towards the Malfoys should remain negative. Hating him had always been something so easy, like breathing, but now…
But now… something had changed. Harry didn't know what it was, when exactly it had started or even how it had started, but something had most definitely began to change. As to the nature of this change… he had yet to draw up the nerve to confront or diagnose it.
Without any warning, a sharp pain lanced up Harry's spine spreading what felt like fire in its wake, cutting through his troubled thoughts like a hot blade. All coherent thought was gone as the pain coursed throughout his body in waves. He was burning and being electrocuted at the same time. The room was too small. There was no air; it was the only thought his mind could wrap around, as his lungs seemed to struggle to keep working. It was as if someone had doused him in gasoline and set him ablaze, trying their hand at a human molotov cocktail, before throwing him onto a nest of live wires. Not that he'd ever felt those things before, but both sounded extremely painful…
Gasping for breath that he couldn't seem to catch, and writhing in a bed that now seemed far too big, Harry blinked back tears as his throat constricted on an almost scream. As the pain grew, the room shrank, and the heat rose. Harrys last thought before he blacked out, between the occasional 'I'm going to die like this, after so much, I'm going to die in Dud's old room' and 'Lucius Fucking Malfoy', was one of the oddest he may have ever had, and sadly enough, he probably would fail to remember it.
'Save me… I don't want to die yet… Lucius…'
A whispering sigh escaped Harry's lips as his eyes drifted shut, carrying a name that had anyone that knew him heard it he would deny it ever being said.
~ To Be Continued ~