Under the Influence

Summary: Harry is out of sorts, and it provides an opportunity Draco didn't even know he needed. HPDM, Post War/'Eighth' Year.

Author: I do not own Harry Potter, or any of the characters therein. This fan-fiction is heavy on dialogue, that being my preferred method for the relationship to develop, so the romance is slow building. This fic is both un-beta'd and written from a mildly rusty memory of the books so my apologies for any mistakes made :)

Please review, constructive criticism is welcomed!

Chapter One - Imbibe

Harry felt good about this test. Really, really good about it. After all, he was not exactly out of practice in his knowledge about concealment spells, was he? And distraction hexes, well, he won't even bother going over that. Easy.

Maybe he hadn't done a great amount of revision, and maybe Hermione was a little bit justified in saying that he was lazy with this Defence work this year, but she was as jaded as he was, he knew it. They couldn't have spent such a large part of their last year as they did, flitting from one place to another in that stupid tent to avoid getting murdered in their sleep, without learning something. It was going to be fine, really. Better than fine. Brilliant. This stuff was so old hat to him he could do it in his sleep.

Anyway, what?

Oh, lesson. The test was going to be so easy, Harry could just feel it. He was practically tingling with it. Actually, he was tingling. That's funny. He must be so confident he was actually vibrating with it. Now, that's confidence. It was going to be great, just great.

Where did his bag go?

'Harry's acting a bit weird this morning,' Ron muttered conspiratorially to Hermione, a slice of toast held in front of his mouth as if to shield his words from Harry.

Harry didn't notice. He was gazing tiredly yet determinedly at the orange juice pitcher, smiling mindlessly at it. It was close enough to him to make him go a bit crossed eyed as he stared it down.

All in all, not an unusual picture of a teenage boy at breakfast time.

Hermione thought that herself. 'He's fine, Ronald. Honestly, you wait until now to evaluate Harry's mental state.' She rolled her eyes, and nibbled at her own toast. Still, she did peer at Harry a bit, just to check. Not that Ron had a point, of course. It just didn't hurt to make sure.

Harry sat obliviously. The staring at the pitcher continued long enough that Hermione began to feel uncomfortable in sympathy for it, and she reached over to pat him gently on the hand. 'Are you ready for Defence, then? I do hope you haven't forgotten.'

Harry's gaze lifted slowly to her face, and he gave her a beatific and slightly concussed looking smile. Hermione's skin crawled a little. 'Um, good. I did tell you you should have gone over the reading with me on Wednesday, it'll be your own fault if you fail.' She turned her nose up a bit. Honestly, final year of NEWTs and neither of them took her up on her offers. She was trying to help them, and it was really their own faults if they didn't do well.

Harry's smile grew and he chuckled. 'I'll be fine, Hermione. I'll do great.'

'Erm, okay, mate,' Ron moved to stand, leaning over to pick up more toast from a plate further down the table. He stuffed the slices into his robe pocket and smiled sheepishly at his friend. ' I hope that's you and me both. We should go, gunna be late.'

Ron eventually had to herd Harry into his seat in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, because Harry seemed to be too busy animatedly talking about how great his day was going to be to really bother much with navigating himself around fellow students, and at times even walls. At that point, even Ron was getting suspicious, but they'd both had a lot of late nights recently and he could hardly blame him from wanting to let go a bit.

The last year they'd been at Hogwarts Harry had nearly burst a vein worrying about everything, and obviously the war didn't really help anyone's nerves in the long run, Ron surmised.

And not everybody faced down a crazy Dark Lord, so maybe Harry just needed to relax a bit. Yeah, Hermione went on about the exams like they were happening next weekend, but the poor git deserved some time to breathe. They'd all been to hell and back, and nobody had done quite like Harry had.

Anyway, Ron needed someone around him to relax a little. Hermione was going to put herself in the Infirmary soon with how worked up she was about NEWTs, and to be honest, Ron was struggling to be around other friends much at the moment, since they reminded him of the battle; especially Neville, with his new scars and heroic persona. And, well, the battle was a bit of a sore subject. He and Ginny hadn't talked much.

Harry hadn't felt this good about something in ages. Months, really. He'd felt pretty good when he'd got back in their old dorms but that didn't even compare. He was going to do so well in his tests this term they'd have a whole new points counter just for him. He was writing things down so fast his hand was practically blurring across the parchment. Even the inkblots were forming beautiful patterns, instead of getting all over his shirt and tie like usual.

Ron kept giving him looks, like he was worried, but Harry guessed he was just put out that Harry was going to do so much better than him in the test. Other classmates were giving him looks too, and Harry guessed his confidence must just be coming off him in waves, like an aura.

Yes, he was going to do brilliantly in this.

'Mate, what the hell happened?' Ron pulled Harry aside after the class, moving them into a quiet corner away from the main corridor.

Harry looked dazed and distant, and gazed contentedly at the painting behind Ron before he met his eyes.

'I don't know, Ron. I think it's just clicked. Don't worry, I'll help you out so you pass too,' Harry reached out to pat him gently on the shoulder, and missed the first two tries. He then lifted his hand to wave gently at the man in the portrait behind Ron's head. The painted man just gave him a look. Harry shrugged.

Ron just stared at him in bemusement, until Harry started to wander aimlessly away down the corridor in the opposite direction to where they should be going.

'No, really, Harry. Are you alright? I know you don't really like the new Defence Professor, but... Harry?'

'Yes, Ron?' Harry turned and gave him a wide smile, and Ron felt a bit sick. Something must be wrong, because that was beyond off. He'd just watched his friend scribble nonsense words and doodles down on his test parchment for two full hours, and he could just about let that go, and think maybe Harry was stressed or throwing the test in protest or something. But that smile was just creepy and off, and it made Ron's skin itch to look at it.

'Mate, I think we need to get you to Madame Pomfrey,' Ron moved towards him slowly, like he was approaching a unicorn foal, and reached to take him gently by the elbow. Harry jerked back violently and glowered at him.

'Ron, I said I'd help you. You don't need to pretend I'm ill just because you're embarrassed.'

'Mate, I'm not. I think maybe you've been hexed or something.'

Harry lowered his head and gave him a look of amused pity from below his eyebrows. 'Really, Ron. You know, you could talk to Hermione if you're embarrassed about how good I am.'

'Erm, sure, Harry,' Ron tried to think on his feet, because Harry had begun to move quite quickly away in the opposite direction. Being a git or not, Ron really shouldn't let him wander off through the castle behaving that way. Harry had been a lot of things in the time Ron knew him, but he'd never been proud and conceited like this, and if it was enough to make him uncomfortable he didn't think it would be long before Harry got punched in the face. 'Maybe we should go and see Hermione together?'

Harry swung around to face him, head still tilted at an awkward and entirely creepy angle with his chin high in the air, like he was possessed by the spirit of Malfoy on a particularly bad day. 'Yeah, Ron. Good idea. She'll want to know how well I did...'

Ron sighed in relief when Harry began to amble in the right direction, past him and towards the stairs. He had no idea what this was, but he'd bet his Christmas dinner that Hermione would know.

'I'm sorry, Ron, I really don't know,' Hermione looked harrowed and was tugging on her hair in worry. Ron knew she had a lot invested in this year being as boring as possible; the first one of its kind. He felt almost as bad about being the harbinger of bad news than he did about the state Harry was in in the first place.

Harry himself was sat between them in their little huddle in the corner of the study area in the library, chatting quietly away to himself about how simple and below him the spells were in the textbook Hermione had gently presented to him to keep him busy. 'We really need to get him to Madame Pomfrey, I don't really know enough diagnostic spells and if it's a hex I've never heard of one that does this,' she mumbled, gesturing weakly at Harry.

'Here was me thinking this year the poor git would get a break,' Ron sighed, and a cloud of dust drifted up from the tome Hermione had handed him with an air of authority from one of the high up shelves of the library. The three of them coughed.

'Yes, I thought maybe we'd get a bit of a break too,' Hermione stared angrily down her nose at her book. Ron shuddered a little; a few decades and a pair of pince-nez and he'd be dating McGonagall.

Harry looked up, and saw them both buried in their respective research tasks. He was bored, and he kind of needed the loo. He was sure they would be able to manage this pointless project of theirs without his input, because they didn't seem to be listening to anything he said anyway. Harry felt it was probably time to invest his interest in something more entertaining, so he gently pulled his chair back and wandered quietly away.

Draco had created a sort of book fort at the end of the Ancient Potions section of the library, and he was quite proud of his achievement.

He didn't really need to invest in such a constructive effort in order to preserve peace and privacy – although the section was usually quite popular, being on the side of the building with the windows and far back in the library enough that Madame Pince didn't often bother visiting, whenever his fellow students happened upon him they invariably turned on their heels and hurried away again. The wall of books was less of a defence, more of a visual shield, so he didn't have to see their faces twist in contempt every time.

He was, therefore, more than a bit angry when Potter appeared from nowhere and seemingly intentionally caused a disturbance in Draco's carefully formed structure, resulting in a noisy and slightly painful cascade over him and his previously neat and splatter-free Runes homework.

'Fuck! Potter, there's ink bloody everywhere!'

Harry waved his hand in a dismissive manner and groped for his wand. 'Don't worry, I'm brilliant at cleaning spells.'

'Don't bother,' Draco winced as the cold ink seeped through his trousers and he waved his wand over his legs with a muttered scourgify, dabbing with his robe sleeve for good measure. 'What do you think you're doing, you fuckwit?'

'Do you need any help?' Harry's voice was eerily like Luna's floaty tone as he moved to sit next to Draco and look imploringly in his face. Draco sat motionless and stunned, and his jaw fell slack. 'You should let me help you, I'm probably better than you at Runes.'

'You don't even take Runes, Scarhead.'

'I'm sure I'll pick it up quickly,' Harry's hand fluttered dismissively over his shoulder. Draco stared incredulously at him, and moved one hand to possessively cover his work.

'Potter, have you taken something?'

Harry frowned in confusion. 'I don't have to have taken something to be good at something. Why does everyone keep asking that?' He looked up, doe eyed. Draco sniggered, part humour and partly because of the completely bizarre situation he'd found himself in.

'And her Majesty and the Weasel have let you loose on the castle population, have they? Must be too distracted groping each other in a broom cupboard.'

'No, they're over there working. I don't think they're very good at the groping thing.' Harry stared off at the shelf behind them in the direction of the study tables, and frowned.

'And I suppose you're much better at it.'

'Of course.' Harry gave him an amused, unwavering stare, for long enough that Draco began to squirm in his seat at the ferocity of it.

'Er... What exactly did you take, Potty? A potion?' At least they were in a good section to research it, Draco thought, and reverse it. Cocky Potter was really beginning to unsettle him.

'Nothing, I didn't take anything at all. I'm just having a good day,' Harry muttered, as he picked up a battered book and squinted at the title. He then squinted at Draco. 'Why?'

'Oh, no reason...' Draco looked rather desperately around for help, or someone to dump this weird situation on, but it seemed that his power of repulsion was greater than the pull of hero worship Potter may have created. 'Shit.'

'What?' Potter gave him a suspicious look.

'Nothing.' Draco sighed. Well, if he was going to have to be the babysitter for Boy Wonder, he might as well get something from it. 'Well, Chosen Git. Since you're so clever, what are the five points you're writing about in the lycanthropy essay?'

Draco watched, surprised then amused, as Harry animatedly began to describe just exactly how he was planning the essay. Unfortunately, after the first sentence the account descended quite rapidly into indecipherable gibberish, with Harry smiling with accomplishment the entire time. Draco almost felt bad for him, because it was obvious something was wrong, and Draco thought he might know what. But it was just too funny to watch.

He'd return the stupid git to his minders soon, maybe with a note pinned to his robe to tell them what Potter was being affected by. But maybe he'd have a bit more fun with it first.

Draco soon discovered there was no law of diminishing returns when it came to the state Potter was clearly in. As time passed, it just got more amusing, and a strangely welcome experience – definitely a change from the clipped exchanges in his own House every day, and the glares he got when he walked from class to class, which came so often he hardly bothered sneering back any more. He might give himself wrinkles.

Potter with his guard down was fun, dare he even think it, and he even let himself be dragged from the Library to Merlin knows where by the muttering maniac.

They passed by right under the noses of the other two thirds of the wondrous trio, who were arguing over a textbook and blissfully unaware. How pathetic of them, Draco thought. Couldn't keep tabs on drugged up Potter for longer than five minutes.

Potter wasn't even trying to be sneaky. 'Told you they weren't in the cupboard,' he said, as he threw a lopsided smirk over his shoulder and dragged Draco by the wrist through the door. This was getting increasingly bizarre; the other students they passed seemed to agree, if the stunned and slightly nauseous looks on their faces were anything to judge by. Draco didn't know whether to grimace dramatically back or wave like one of the Weird Sisters band members. After all, it wasn't often you were personally escorted by the Boy Who Lived in front of an audience.

'Where are we even going, Potter? If you're planning on ravishing me, it's considered polite to warn a man.'

Potter laughed, and Draco was momentarily stunned by how genuine it sounded.

'I'll remember that. Are flowers okay?'

Draco laughed his own genuine laugh, which surprised the students they were passing as much as it did himself. Then again, recently people weren't laughing a lot, and he had as much a reason as any – even Potter – to be muted and joyless. The thought encouraged Draco to collect himself and he tried to release his wrist from Potter's grasp, which turned out to be an impossible task.

'Ow. Wait, Potter. Where exactly am I being taken?' Draco asked as he used his weight to counteract Potter's momentum and pull him across to lean against the corridor wall.

'The broom cupboard,' Potter released his arm and glided in a wonky circle – Luna style again – while Draco gaped at the back of his head. He then let out a sigh of relief as he caught sight of Potter's goofy grin as he ambled aimlessly around the thankfully now empty corridor; Draco's ability to repulse and deter onlookers must have worked to his advantage yet again. 'That's a strange face you're making.' Potter's grin grew wider.

Draco's jaw snapped shut and he lifted his chin in show contempt. 'Not my fault you were raised so poorly, Pothead. Honestly, the indecency.' Potter sniggered. Then headed off quickly down the corridor.

Draco sighed, left alone at his spot against the wall. 'I'll only follow if you promise my virtue will be safe!' He called out to Potter's retreating figure, about to turn a corner and possibly get himself killed. There was no reply other than a frantic beckoning gesture over Potter's head. Draco sighed again, pushed himself off the wall, and followed.

'I can't believe you lost him, Ron!'

'Me? You – ah.' Ron's voice faded to nothing as he caught sight of Hermione's expression. Scary didn't cover it. 'Um, he can't have gone far...'

'Oh, Merlin! And we didn't even know what spell he was under,' Hermione moaned, and tugged at her curls in frustration. 'He could be anywhere! Oh, no...'

Ron shuffled awkwardly from foot to foot as she paced in front of the library doors, which they'd burst dramatically through a few minutes prior after a frantic search of every section, under every desk and even peering up to the top of the bookshelves. Harry could be unpredictable even under normal circumstances.

Ron suddenly had an idea, swerved to face Hermione and groaned in pain when they smacked into each other.

'Maybe -'



'Potter, I'm not entirely sure this is a good idea,' Draco said as they stood next to the uncovered wood structure of the Quidditch pitch.

'Why? Scared?' Potter grinned as fiddled with his ridiculous spectacles.

'Of course not,' Draco bristled, then caught himself. Being competitive at a time like this was ridiculous. 'For one, it's raining. A lot.'

'Pfff, that's nothing,' Potter squelched over to the broom store cupboard. 'Standard Cleansweeps, keep it fair?'

'Yeah, makes sense – wait – No! For another reason, you are obviously under a hex, though it seems to have escaped your notice.'

'Stop making daft excuses because you're scared you'll lose, Malfoy. I'm definitely not under a hex,' Harry snorted, stomped over to hand Draco a broom then tripped over the broom bristles and into the mud.

'No, I'm pretty certain I'm right,' Draco chuckled as he lifted Potter back to his feet, now decoratively spattered with dirt and water. 'In fact, I think I might know which one.'

Potter looked up at him – at some point in the past few years Draco had grown ever so slightly taller, thank Salazar for small victories – and rolled his eyes. Draco's stomach flipped a little.


They both turned to see Weasley and Granger trudge awkwardly over at the greatest speed it seemed they could manage in the pouring rain.

'Brilliant,' muttered Potter, and Draco looked at him in surprise. Seeing Potter not being elated to see his partners in glory was a pretty novel thing.

'Malfoy, leave Harry alone!' Granger had finally reached them, and tried to insert herself between Draco and Potter. Potter pulled her gently aside. Draco was grateful; touching her himself would have probably been a war crime.

'I'll have you know, Scarhead was the one who kidnapped me,' he pronounced airily, pointing a mockingly accusing figure at Potter, who smirked in response.

'How dare you -' Weasley moved sharply towards him, in what he guessed was supposed to be a threatening manner. It was spoiled by Weasley falling on his face into the mud a moment later.

'Careful, Weasel. It's slippery.' Potter snorted at his jibe, and Draco inwardly preened.

'Ron, stop – Calm down. Look, Malfoy, we don't know why you're with Harry but you've obviously been taking advantage of him,' Draco gave Granger credit to the fact her angry hiss was indeed quite scary. 'He's been behaving strangely since this morning. Did you curse him?'

'Funnily enough, no,' Draco made a show of looking at her drawn wand with contempt. 'But I have noticed the change. A curse, you say? Have you by any chance worked out which?' Granger's eyes narrowed in anger but she huffed in frustration.

'No. But I'm sure -'

'I didn't think so,' Draco smirked at her flustered expression. 'Would you like a hint?'

Potter actually growled in anger. 'I'm not under a curse! Why is it so unbelievable that I'm brilliant at everything?' He stomped towards Granger, and promptly met the floor again with a squelch.

'Graceful,' Draco sniggered. 'Hint, Granger?'

'Fine! What is it?'

Draco sighed dramatically and bent to aid Potter in his repeated and failed attempts to stand again.

'He seems grossly over confident, yes? But there's nothing to back it up. And he's a bit dazed. Reminds me rather a lot of Seamus Finnegan the Christmas someone gave the idiot some fire whiskey.'

'It's not a Drunkenness charm, I checked. He would be vomiting and slurring. Anyway, that's not taught at Hogwarts, and you can only find it in restricted textbooks.' Granger shoved her chin upwards in contempt, an accidental imitation of Draco himself that Potter laughed quietly at from his position of being supported by Weasley, dripping mud and looking slightly dazed.

'Indeed. But a student attempting an advanced spell may perform it incorrectly, mightn't they? Perhaps so the spell only partly works?'

'I suppose... so.' Granger looked furious. Not good; she might be absolutely awful at outside the box thinking, but there was certainly a number of spells she knew to cast correctly that might make Draco more than a bit uncomfortable. He attempted to tone down his smug expression but ended up just looking constipated. Potter sniggered again.

'You're right that it's difficult to research, though,' Draco mused. But both he and Granger had heard of it – she probably even knew how to cast it. And it was well known that she was granted access to materials that were off limits to most of the castle's students. An Order of Merlin certainly does open useful doors.

But Draco knew of it from taking advantage of the lax attention his new Head of House gave to such permission slips, provided they were for members of his own house – upon trying to find employment as an ex-Death Eater, a large and varied education would be his only virtue - and he knew he wasn't the only one who did so.

Damn. Of course, it was a Slytherin. They couldn't possibly let Ravenclaw have a go at being the bad guys for once.

'The problem here being that even if we know what it is, Potty here refuses to go to the Infirmary. I tried levitation and a body-lock, and just pulling on him at one point, but drunk or not, he's an evasive bastard. I dare say you're going to have to wait it out,' Draco moved to replace the brooms. 'Could take ages. Good job it's the weekend.'

'We haven't had our match yet!' Potter pulled away from Weasley and moved to snatch one of the Cleansweeps from Draco. 'Running away because you'll lose?'

Draco smiled, but he felt suddenly tired. This babysitting job had been fun until the parents had shown up. It was necessary for his own safety and ease of life to withhold the insults he wanted to snap at them, but it was a wearying task.

'I'll tell you what, Scarhead. I'll give you your match tomorrow morning if you go to Pomfrey and prove you haven't taken performance enhancing potions beforehand. After all, you'd have to take them to beat me,' Draco made a show of gesturing proudly at himself and the ratty practice broom.

Potter nodded emphatically. 'Deal!' He thrust out his hand. Draco shook it, smirked at Granger while handing her the broom, waved a sardonic goodbye to Weasley, and loped off down the muddy hill to the castle and some peace and quiet.

Draco lay awake until early morning, but he wasn't entirely sure what was bothering him. He checked the charms on his bed a number of times. He drank water, stretched, went to the loo, and still couldn't sleep. He kept thinking about the time he'd spent with a spell-addled Potter. He'd actually had fun; Potter had been quick witted and funny, and Draco was so very starved of conversation.

Slytherin was a ghost town, as much as could be expected after the war. The older students were a dark mix of bitterness, fear and loss. Draco wasn't spoken to and he didn't endeavour to speak to others. The sight of Vincent's bed in their dormitory made his chest hurt.

Shame their Quidditch match wasn't actually going to happen.