What a silence when you are here. What a hellish silence. You sit and I sit. You lose and I lose.
- Janos Pilinksy
It’s exhausting quite frankly. The pretending and such.
And it, for lack of a better word, sucks to see Potter ignoring him. It’s what they agreed on of course, but it is almost as if Harry was all too eager to forget him, forget what they had.
For nearly two months, Draco has had to deal with Potter’s indifference. He almost wishes Potter was avoiding him in a more direct way. Eyes glazing over when his gaze fell in the direction of Draco, pointedly looking in the opposite direction when Malfoy was near, the obvious way. The kind that says, I know I see you but I’m going to have to act as if I don’t.
Unfortunately it seemed natural the way that Harry treated Draco, almost as if he had truly forgotten he existed at all. Even the angry banter they had been exchanging back and forth since first year had dissolved in favor of silence.
He’d kind of assumed once they had returned to Hogwarts, he would receive sometime of sign, a language of sorts, one that would prove that he hadn’t just imagined the entire holiday. Perhaps a couple of fleeting, longing glances, if he were lucky maybe Harry would go out of his way to brush against Draco’s back, whilst passing him in the corridor. It’s what he expected. However his expectations are infamous for ultimately disappointing him.
He’s playing with his food again, trying desperately not to look in Potter’s direction. He knows what he’ll see if he does. The charisma Harry oozes, everyone at the Gryffindor table hanging off his every word, the easy way him and little Weasley interact; flirtatious, and jovial. Draco watches the whipped cream atop his bread pudding melt.
“I can feel the intensity of your teen angst from here Draco,” Blaise remarks rolling his eyes, proceeding to take a large gulp of the goblet of pumpkin juice in front of him. “I’m not angsting Blaise, I’m just not interested in partaking in conversations as trivial as the status of Celestina Warbeck and Gilderoy Lockhart’s whirlwind romance.” Draco remarked indignantly. He had overheard them gossiping over this month’s Spellbound magazine.
“Don’t act all high and mighty Mr. Malfoy, I’ve actively witnessed your owl delivering each month’s issue like clockwork.” Pansy replied, clearly satisfied with herself. She was right, but she was still a cunt.
Draco scoffed and continued toying with his now cold desert.
“Is this about that summer romance of yours again?” Blaise asks, faking indifference. Both Blaise and Pansy had been dying to know the identity of his summer fling since July when he first hinted at a budding romance. If it were anyone but Potter, he probably would have spilled the beans already, but naturally it’s more complicated than that now.
“No,” Draco answered, trying his hardest not to meet their judging eyes.
Pansy makes a sound that resembles both a scoff and a laugh. “Yawn, you are truly a terrible liar, which is embarrassing considering you’re a Slytherin.” Draco feels his cheeks heating. All of his friends seemed to go through both men and women like it was nothing, and it brought him a quiet sense of shame to still be holding onto something that had “ended” over two months ago.
“Listen, Draco. I know the whole first love thing is dreadful, and essentially impossible to get over, but it gets better, I’m pretty sure.” Blaise says, taking the more empathetic route. Blaise had never been in love before, not that he knew of, but Draco secretly appreciated his friend’s misguided attempt at comfort and sympathy.
Now that Draco thinks of it, he’s not even sure what he and Potter had could even be considered love. They had never said it after all, and he’s reluctant to admit feelings that intense, even to himself, without confirmation that Harry feels the same way.
All he really knows is that he simply cannot get Potter out of his head, despite his best efforts. And that it leaves a quiet ache within him, to not know where they stand. If this is love, he hopes he never experiences it again, it’s routine torture.
Draco finishes dinner with his friends in a daze, his mood unchanging. And watches students slowly get up and file out of the great hall in a chaotic sort of order.
Draco hangs back, waiting for the crowd to die down so he can sneak off to the kitchen, and irritably request raw carrots from the house elves to feed his owl, Fide.
The corridor is empty when he emerges from the kitchens, nursing a tiny burlap sack of vegetables wrapped in napkins in his hand. Everyone has gone back to their respective common rooms, to catch up on homework or play wizard chess, or whatever else people at this school do.
The only sound in the hallway on his way to the owlery, is the laughter echoing from a group of fifth year Ravenclaw girls on their way back to the tower.
When he arrives he notices it’s just him and the owls. Most likely because everyone feeds their pets in the early hours of the morning or right after their break for lunch. Draco likes it this way though, the calm.
Fide is perched under his arch, waiting for him in what seems to be vague annoyance. Draco had forgotten to visit him this afternoon, and had no treats on him when he had delivered a parcel from his mother the day before.
Sensing his bad mood, Fide calms and nudges Malfoy’s arm, alerting him to open the bag, already aware of its contents. Draco lingers there for longer than he probably needs to, reluctant to return to the Slytherin dungeons where he knows he’ll be greeted by nosy, but well-intentioned friends. He gives Hedwig the remainder of the food Fide does not finish, grateful that the white owl still remembers him.
Draco stares at the ground almost the entire time back to his common room. He looks up when he hears the familiar click of shoes hitting the stone flooring, curious as to who would be in this wing of the castle at this hour.
Draco’s breath hitches, and he nearly freezes in the spot. Of course, the shoes belong to none other than Harry fucking Potter, because the universe hates him, or loves him, depending on how this interaction ends.
They’re aware of each other. For once, that much is obvious. Draco is almost scared to proceed. In a way, this is what he has been waiting for all of this time.
A moment alone, in which Harry would either be forced to acknowledge what they had. Or, the more realistic, and admittedly depressing outcome; in which Harry would once again ignore Malfoy and he would be forced to accept the confirmation of Potter’s rejection.
They are steps away from one another, and Draco’s mind cycles through his wildest fantasies.
He imagines Potter stopping him right then and there, tearing up from sheer emotional intensity, screaming “I LOVE YOU” and proceeding to run towards Draco, capturing his lips in a heated kiss.
He imagines Potter hoisting him into the air by the hips, spinning him around in circles and kissing him until both of their lips are bruised and the sky is falling into pieces around them.
Malfoy is nothing if not theatrical.
The reality of the moment lies in a troubled look on Potter’s face, their shoulders just barely brushing, as he pushes past him in a rush of motion.
He stops in his tracks, trying his damndest to catch his breath, and imagines the floor opening below him, and swallowing him whole. He feels his cheeks heat.
Oh. So that’s it, Draco thinks to himself.
And then in a blur of motion, Potter turns around, grabs his wrist, pulls him around the corner behind a rusty suit of armor, and kisses him so hard he thinks his nose might bleed.
It’s messy and kind of (ugh) perfect, and Draco wishes the moment would hold itself.
Both of their hands frantically roaming the others body, both trying to absorb as much of each other as they can with each touch. Draco’s breath hitches into the kiss when he feels Potter’s hand rub the small of his back, slipping past the waistband of his trousers.
Draco is nearly sure he will never be able to get close enough to Potter. He wants him so bad that even now, having him here, his fingertips ghosting over Harry’s stomach, it’s not enough. Their bodies, pressed so tightly against each other it feels as if their one person, he’ll still always want more.
When Potter pulls away, Draco is sure he takes a piece of him.
Potters nose is pressed against his, green eyes boring into Draco’s. It feels so strangely intense that Draco almost wishes he could look away, but he would never.
Harry’s clutching his jaw, and Draco hopes it’s because he’s afraid to let go.
“I see you,” Potter says gruffly. And then the fucker straightens his cloak and walks away nonchalantly.
Draco stands behind the wall for a bit longer, still in disbelief. He steps into the corridor, confirms there is no one around him, and pinches himself.
So he sees me, Malfoy thinks on his walk back to the common room. He presses extra hard on the ground with each step to his room, afraid that if he lets go he might actually float.
He wakes early the next morning for breakfast, and resists the urge to dance to the great hall. He takes extra time to shower, brush his teeth, and spends an unbearable amount of time brushing his hair.
If he’s being honest, he’s not entirely sure if Potter feels strongly about him in any sense besides physical. So he takes extra care of his appearance, afraid that anything less than would drive him away.
God, he sounds so pathetic, he stares at his reflection in the mirror and resists the urge to spit at it. Draco can not believe that someone like Potter has enough influence over him to affect his mood in such drastic ways.
He thinks of Blaise and Pansy and all of them gasping for air, laughing at the dialogue of cheesy romance novels they discovered in the fiction section of the library. He thinks of his father, his steely gaze, and hard exterior, of how none of them would understand the logic behind his feelings for Potter. Perhaps because there isn’t any.
Malfoy’s stomach churns at the lengths he goes to for Potter. Regardless his heart still flutters on the way to breakfast.
He sees Pansy and Blaise next to an empty seat at the Slytherin table, most likely waiting for him. Though he takes a moment to steady himself outside of the doorway. Draco lifts his head and proceeds into the hall, staring pointedly at the podium facing the students. He’s careful not to look in the direction of the Gryffindor table, fearful that if he catches a glance of Harry Potter, his defenses will fall.
He smiles at Blaise and Pansy as he takes the seat next to them, and it feels genuine, to their surprise.
He listens to them ramble on about some random Ravenclaw they say is getting around, and occasionally responds around spoonfuls of oatmeal. His entire table sat gossiping in hushed whispers and what sounds like hisses of outrage. The majority of Slytherin with cloth napkins over their laps, their salad and breakfast fork separated before them. He tries to stop himself, but gives in, chancing a glance towards the Gryffindors.
It's genuinely a different world over there. Everyone talking over one another, chewing with their mouth wide open. They have such social grace, Draco thinks, choking back a laugh. Blaise and Pansy glance over, vaguely interested in what has managed to make Malfoy laugh. He waves them off still smiling softly.
Granger is spoon feeding Weasley eggs like the child he is. He finds the laugh she gives him when the fork misses Weasley’s mouth insufferable. He notices Dean Thomas chatting with a random sixth year girl with curly brown hair down to her back. That means him and little Weasley are no longer. Great. Draco's luck could only be described as deplorable.
His eyes settle finally on Potter, his hair’s extra messy today, pushed away from his forehead, his scar in full display. He’s got his arm settled lazily against the small of little Weasley’s back, as she throws her head back in laughter at something the Irish cunt Seamus says. Draco looks away quickly, he wants to vomit at their easy show of affection. He wants to vomit at the way the entire table communicates, with no expectations of one another. It's disgustingly genuine. Malfoy thinks a healthy amount of competition and judgement is imperative in order to remain your best. Maybe.
Draco continues to quietly seethe while observing the Gryffindors, in an attempt to push his thoughts of Potter away. He's just so damn hard to read. So hot and cold. Draco has been told that in reference to himself a fair share of times, but he finds himself heartbreakingly transparent. Yes, his guard is up, but that fact alone is enough to tell anyone who’s paying attention, everything they need to know about him.
He would never admit it, not even to Blaise or Pansy, not even to Potter, but he finds the Weaslette beautiful. He understands
what Harry sees in her the appeal in her, her wide open smile, long red hair, gorgeous warm eyes. Each time Draco looks at her, he sees everything he secretly wants to be and all that he is not. In that way, he fears her. He sometimes wonders if Harry would give him a second glance if he were anything like her. He has realized that Ginny is most likely Potter’s endgame but a small part of him hopes that he’s just using her to make Malfoy jealous. A terrible thought, to wish heartbreak on someone, but he’s done worse.
Draco finishes breakfast quickly, thankful Pansy and Blaise don’t notice his adjusted temperament. Well, they don’t comment on it at least.
The rest of the Slytherin leisurely finish their breakfast while Malfoy leaves in a rush. When he's through the doors he roams the hallway, trying not to drag his feet on his way to History of Magic. He thought he would be the first one in class, but to his utter delight he hears Potter and the Weaslette giggling behind him like children.
He whips around, slaps and pushes her to the ground, and envelopes Potter into a fiery kiss. Just kidding, he doesn't do that, but he wants to more than anything. He's a drama queen if anything.
Instead he picks up his pace, eager to distance himself from the fucking happy couple, and resists the urge to glance back at them and spit.
And god, they go on like that for what feels like ages. It's despicable. He can still hear the echo of their voices around the corner.
What could they even have to talk about? What on Earth could possibly be so funny?
Malfoy refuses to believe they actually connect on an intellectual level, his superiority complex will not allow it.
After what feels like forever, Potter puts Draco out of his quiet misery and drops the Weaslette off at Professor Trelawney’s. He’s thankful when he doesn’t hear the telltale sound of them kissing goodbye. It would be just like them to engage in such unavoidable public affection.
It does make Malfoy feel better to be a bitch honestly. However, in reality his mind is still plagued by a million questions, all about Potter of course. Yawn. He's grossly predictable.
Are him and the Weaslette even together? If so why did Potter kiss him. He's a lot of things, but Draco would never take him as a cheater? What did Potter even mean by the kiss? If he “sees him” doesn’t he see how painful it is for Malfoy to watch Potter flirt with Ginny, whilst he treats him like a non factor. He wishes all he felt was blinding fury and rage, but alas, his emotions come in the form of a sad little pit resting at the bottom of his stomach.
Draco wants to kick himself for such weak, insecure thoughts. He’s soft now. Potter
broke his heart wasted his time and was sure to transform him into an emotional puppy in the process.
He arrives at History of Magic in a dreadful mood, and naturally, the class passes at an intolerable rate. Professor Binns droning on about the origin of veela, which he had learned years ago, his mother part veela herself. Draco shifts between staring off into space and copying notes disinterestedly, eager to escape this class and Potter. The golden skinned boy staring blankly at the front of the room, a sleeping Weasley at his side. Snoring, might he add.
The bell finally rings after an hour and Draco packs at lightning speed. He tells himself it's because he really enjoys astronomy, but he knows it's because even being in the same room as Potter breaks his heart a little. He finds it sad, and vaguely amusing how easy it is to go from spitting in someone's mouth, to probably never speaking to them again. It is what it is, he guesses.
Draco is so deep in thought while gathering his belongings that he doesn't even notice whose holding the door until he bumps into them. Potter of course. Maybe it's a sign from Merlin that they keep meeting like this. And by meeting like this he means in the most mundane ways possible, which every human experiences with every other human, all of the damn time. Malfoy resists the urge to roll his eyes at his own desperate search for meaning. He doesn't even get the chance though, before they're meeting Potter's.
They make, what feels like, searing eye contact. Though it's most likely just eye contact. Draco wants to think that it meant something. He keeps swearing to himself that if the entire building had collapsed around them in those two seconds, neither of them would have bat an eyelash. He tries to pretend his heart isn't pounding in his ears when his shoulder grazes Potter's hard chest. Draco imagines what'd he'd look like with two heart eyes on his way to his next class. The left broken, the right, beating steadily.
The rest of the school day passes as one does, in a blur. That is until Defense Against the Dark Arts. The class is composed of Gryffindor and Slytherin, which always leaves a strange sort of tension over the room, the kind that used to excite him.
Professor Dawlish, a retired auror who had replaced Snape this year, had given them a list of defensive spells to study the class before, and expected them to practice today. Draco had always liked Defense Against the Dark Arts, he found it a perfect way to healthily release aggression. That is, until Dawlish assigned everyone in the class dueling partners, and he was paired with Potter.
Draco had thought about it, while listening to his professor drone on in astronomy, that the kiss was nothing more than a product of Potter’s nearly insatiable sex drive. “I see you,” three words that Draco had spent hours and hours replaying in his mind, trying to make meaning of the vague statement.
He thought woefully of how the event had most likely not passed Potter’s mind since it happened. Draco couldn’t tell if he was just being melodramatic again, or if Potter actually took a strange satisfaction in hurting him. Why must Draco delve so deep into the dark, gross, sad corners of his mind in fucking public, he thinks, shaking himself out of his stupor to see Potter standing before him expectantly (and attractively).
Draco inhales deeply, vowing to himself to forget about Potter. He’s always been shit at keeping promises.
Malfoy rolls his eyes, wearing a mask of indifference. He hopes Potter doesn’t notice it slipping.
“So,” Potter starts awkwardly, “shall we get on with it.”
If it were anyone else, Draco is sure this is the part where he would give a weird small fake smile and say sure. Unfortunately Potter is not anyone else.
“Why’d you kiss me?” “Do you want me as badly as I want you?” “Do you remember any of it?”
All of the stupid things Draco wants to say. In reality he doesn’t know what to say. He doesn’t trust himself to speak, so he says nothing, in favor of nodding.
The two boys take their respective place across from each other, and Draco hates that in this moment there is no way for him to avoid eye contact with Potter. His eyes are so green, he thinks to himself, trying desperately to focus on their assignment.
“Expelliarmus,” Potter all but yells, and Draco is sent flying across the room, his wand in the other direction.
He had let his guard down, naturally. Malfoy regained his balance, Potter standing over him clutching the discarded wand, extending it to him. He felt a familiar sensation that he had gotten used to over the years when it came to Potter. Blind, hot, white, raging fury.
“Are you okay?” Potter asks, his eyes watery and genuine. If Draco weren’t so damn angry, he probably would have had to restrain himself from legitimately cooing at Potter’s concern.
“ Expelliarmus,” Malfoy replied.
Potter’s on his feet now, but before he can even steady himself, Draco shouts Levicorpus.
Potter, now suspended in mid air, manages to choke out a quiet liberacorpus, seemingly confused.
They go on like that for what seems like ages, everyone around the class’s duels come to a natural end, and they hover around Draco and Harry, eager to decipher the winner. Draco can’t even hide how impressed he is when he notices Potter using wordless magic, he must have practiced since they’d last seen each other.
Potter wins, because, of course he does. He always does. He had disarmed Malfoy for the third time that afternoon, and before he could scramble for his wand, Potter had his pressed against the underside of Malfoy’s chin. He thinks he might even hear a roar of approval from the Gryffindor in the room.
“Fantastic job boys,” Professor Dawlish rasps, clapping hard. His thin gray hair flopping back and forth.
“You put up a good fight,” Harry remarks with a soft, almost adoring smile. Draco wants nothing more than to kiss punch it off of him. His friends begin to gather around, congratulating him on a job well done. Yawn.
“Fuck you,” Malfoy spits indignantly. He's humiliated for reasons that extend far deeper than some stupid fucking duel in class. A small part of him want to break into a teary tantrum like the petulant child he is, and cry and scream until his voice is hoarse and his eyes are dry and puffy. Instead he rises to his feet quickly, grabs his textbook, and rushes out of the classroom. He doesn’t look back this time, but he wants to.
If he did, maybe he’d notice how much Harry wants to chase after him.
Chapter 2: Top of the City
“Alright Mr.Potter, this is the break room,” Miraphora Mina remarked pointing to a kitchen filled from wall to wall with copies of ancient magical texts and art. Motley frames containing anything from dead magical languages, to dark runes that had no place in such a cheery room.
“And this is the coffee station,” she said gesturing to an indistinct caldron adorning the weathered counter. She hummed excitingly and surveyed Harry’s expression.
Her resolve (and smile) collapsed as her shoulders sagged, noticing the bored expression on Harry’s face.
“Mr. Potter, I know that working in the Department of Runes and Symbols on your holiday might not be exactly what you expected from the summer,” She paused neutralizing her face. “However, the Department of Magical Law Enforcement OR the Department of Mysteries is no place for a 17 year old. Even one who has saved the Wizarding world a few times.” Miraphora finished indignantly.
“But Miss Mina I --,” Miraphora cut Harry’s objection off with a hum.
“Now Mr. Potter, I know that V-V-Voldemort,” Miraphora struggled around the word, still not used to the taste of it on her tongue. “—has been dealt with. However, we cannot forget the danger that still awaits our Aurors. It is simply not safe for someone as green as you, no matter your bravery.”
Miraphora gave Harry a soft, understanding smile.
“Alright,” Harry finally said, as it seemed like Miss Mina was waiting for him to verbally concede.
“Great!” She beamed, pushing up her green tortoiseshell glasses. “Now let me show you to your office,” she said beginning to walk away from the cluttered dining area. “I will admit we are nearing full capacity as we’ve been rebuilding and renovating the ministry, therefore you have to share an office with the other intern on staff. Luckily he’s your schoolmate!” She rambled on with her back turned.
Harry thought long and hard about who the other intern on staff could even be. Most of his classmates had means to enjoy a leisure holiday, visiting places like Bali or the States. And he knew for sure that the Weasley’s were splitting their time between the joke shop, or aiding their father in the Muggle Relations Office.
Before he could draw any definitive conclusions, Miraphora pushed open a large dark green door. The room was admittedly small, but grand in its way. The office was a hexagonal shape, adorned with floor to ceiling windows, rounded at the top. Their handles glinted in the sticky hot afternoon, windows pushed slightly open, the bustle of the city below them.
Every fixture was gold and delicate in its detail. Photos of department heads past hung on the walls left exposed, all unassuming meek looking Wizards, with a love for history and honest smiles. They seemed happy to see him. He liked that about them.
Harry stopped his breath from catching, clearing his throat instead. Growing up with a muggle family still left him amazed at the world he once missed out on.
There were two heavy wooden desks facing slightly away from each other, pushed into their respective sides of the hexagonal room.
Sat at the desk to the right was an unmistakable mane of platinum hair, which whipped around at the sound of the door opening.
Harry locked eyes with Malfoy, in a moment that seemed to stretch and hold itself. He looked the same as Harry remembered. Though with subtle change that perhaps only Harry might have noticed. His brows no longer knit together in concern or fear, but were set back in their once devious ways, arched rather than furrowed. His hair had been cut, pushed back in that meticulous way that screamed trouble. And his lips – pink, plump, and pursed at the sight of Harry’s attempt at professionalism.
“Potter.” Malfoy sneared coldly, breaking the moment. Although, his chilled expression did not reach his eyes. What he lacked in annoyance, he made up for in shock.
It would be a lie to say things were not different between Harry and Draco now. Ever since Sixth year really. Things always change when secrets are involved.
“Malfoy.” Harry finally responded, his tone neutral.
“Great!” Mina broke the silence that followed. “You all know each other!” Malfoy rolled his eyes slightly, he found Mina vaguely adorable and mostly insufferable. He deplored cute things.
“Now as you might know you all will be working quite closely this summer. However, you do not know how fun your assignment will be!” Miraphora continued cheerily.
“As you two are well aware, we have just lived through war with the Dark Lord. Meaning we have actively lived through history, and not only lived it but survived.” Miraphora dropped her voice slightly, moving into her carefully practiced ‘serious’ demeanor.
“I want you two to work very closely this summer to collect artifacts from the event that might seem regular now but will one day serve as relics of our struggle.” She brought her hands to her chest giving the two boys a sentimental soft smile and a reassuring head nod. Her hair seemed to glint in front of the open window, and she smelled strongly of coconuts.
Malfoy sighed and rolled his eyes in an attempt to hide his panic. How was he expected to pay homage to those he’d had a direct part in harming? The last thing he wanted to do was relive the battle. His self-hatred had only recently become manageable enough to be seen in public.
Harry wasn’t as open in his chagrin but he hated the idea of so quickly making spectacle of the war. Hadn’t everyone been through enough. Hadn’t he.
To be frank, memorials and remembrances were never meant for those who lived through it. There was no way they could ever forget. No need for old family photos, evidence of everything and everyone lost.
Harry, and everyone else who lived through it, were already dwindling and half alive; they remembered.
This would be the first time in almost 7 years that Harry would not be haunted by Voldemort’s odious presence. The last thing he wanted to do was remember.
Besides, there would be no one worse to work on this project with than Malfoy. Malfoy whose family were single handedly responsible for the loss of so many he loved.
How could Harry even look at him without thinking of the wreckage, or of Sirius? Boys like Fred and Colin Creevey, the ones with futures and bright smiles.
Part of Harry, a large part, knew that Malfoy was not at fault. But Harry’s stomach turned regardless.
“Sounds good,” Harry said simply. What good would it do to argue?
Malfoy glanced at him with a confused expression on his face, not expecting Harry’s tolerance.
“Alright well I will leave you all to it! No need to grab lunch boys, we’re having Indian food catered. Let me know if you all need anything.” Miraphora shuffled out of the room.
After her departure, the room fell into stiff silence. Draco still looking at Harry, and Harry looking right back.
Finally, Draco turned back to his desk in silence, leaving Harry standing in the doorway like an idiot.
The brown-haired boy walked over to his own desk and had a seat, not knowing where to start on a project so big.
“No perfectly timed insults today?” Harry finally said, breaking the silence due to boredom. He glanced over at Draco, who was taking notes at lightning speed. He could only assume the blonde was brainstorming or plotting his imminent demise.
Malfoy put his pen down slowly and scoffed, “Things are different now scar face.”
And Harry supposed things were different.
Malfoy turned around clearing his throat after the silence returned.
“So what do you think we should focus on showcasing for the memorial?” Harry had not expected Malfoy to acknowledge him at all, let alone ask for his opinion.
He took a moment to think, careful with his words. The last thing he wanted to do was sound ignorant around one of his longest running enemies (second only to Voldemort of course).
“Erm… not quite sure about the specifics, I just don’t want it to be too generic. We’ve lived through this, no matter what side we were on…” Harry trailed off. At least Malfoy had enough grace to look down, seeming somewhat ashamed of his place on the wrong side of history.
“And I just don’t want it to come off as dead or impersonal the way things like this usually do. Because it is,” Harry stuttered. “– personal I mean,” He finished awkwardly, adjusting his glasses to avoid Malfoy’s icy stare.
“I agree Potter.” Malfoy said in a clipped and professional tone. “And about the… about the sides and all that, and me…” He paused there, afraid to continue. “And me obviously being on the wrong –”
“Malfoy,” Harry cut him off. “You don’t have to.” He finished simply.
Malfoy seemed relieved by Potter’s interruption. He had seemed so meek and unsure in his attempt to apologize. Not because his apology was not genuine, but because Malfoy knew no words would make up for what his family had done. His apology was futile, and he was grateful Potter had realized this too.
It is not that Harry had forgiven Malfoy, it is that he had never fully blamed him at all. Harry could only imagine how unattainable freedom of choice was for the son of someone as callous and proud as Lucius Malfoy.
Besides, Malfoy had tried to befriend him that first day, standing in the middle of Madam Malkin’s. That had to have counted for something right? Before names and titles were revealed they were just two boys, and Malfoy had wanted to know him.
Did Malfoy remember that moment? Did he remember his own innocence, his kindness? If not that moment, than what of the others?
Could he recall the strange purity of his own childhood cruelty? Before things became complicated, before youthful pestering turned to malice.
It is not that Harry missed 12-year-old Malfoy’s bullying tactics. He simply wondered if the boy had recognized the day that cleverly timed insults turned to torment. Like Harry, Malfoy had been cursed with the most undesirable aspects of life a teenager could experience; Duty, responsibility, legacy.
The difference is, Harry had been seen as remarkable the moment he survived the killing curse. He needn’t earn more stripes, and yet often came out the hero.
And yes, Harry had worked for his ‘savior’ status, but he’d never had to worry about the frivolous things that he eventually came to realize were not frivolous at all. Things like politics and reputation, history even. The dark clouds that made a complicated a man out of a competitive child. Children like Malfoy.
Malfoy had been born into a great family, an old family. Because of this people looked at Malfoy as if they expected something from him. Even in their youth, anything exceptional the boy had done was rewarded with knowing nods rather than celebration.
For Harry the good thing had been done. He was a legend by 2 and had no shoes to fill but his own. But Malfoy wore his father’s name like his skin. He grew heavier with age.
Lost in his deep analysis of Malfoy, it took a minute for Harry to realize he was staring intently into his grey eyes. Coming to his senses, Harry noticed a perturbed look on Malfoy’s face alarmed by Harry’s intense gaze.
Harry’s cheeks heated, embarrassed of thinking so deeply of Malfoy, and embarrassed more for being caught doing so. And embarrassed of his embarrassed embarrassment for giving a right fuck what the git thought.
Malfoy cleared his throat, and Harry’s eyes darted to the long expanse of skin. “Well, I’ll start by drafting some ideas of what would be good for the exhibit, or whatever this thing will be called. We can pick a couple of big things that represent it best and create a collection of smaller remembrances of the battle too.” Malfoy said, interrupting Harry, who was lost in thought.
“Sounds good,” Harry said simply.
The rest of the afternoon until lunch passed in comfortable silence.
“So, they’ve got this thing right -- Muggles do,” Ron paused for a moment to swallow the bite of his sandwich, as he had been talking around a mouth full.
Harry had taken his meal to go, meeting Ron in the ministry courtyard for a bite.
“it’s like, their pictures don’t move or whatever like ours right. So they’ve like created this thing with wires and computers or whatever – my dad told me about computers – where the pictures moves but it’s weird because,” Ron took another bite.
“it’s not like our paintings, you can’t ask them about their day or anything. I don’t know I tried asking the lady’s name but.. I don’t know man.” Ron finally finished.
Harry smiled at Ron’s complete ignorance of the muggle world he had lived in during his formative years. It was endearing how the mundane became so interesting to those used to magic.
“Well anyway Harry,” Ron continued, carrying the conversation as usual. “How was your first day?”
“Er.. it was good but..” Harry started. “guwho I’ll be working with this holiday…” Ron raised his eyebrows as he chewed, as if saying ‘go on…..’
“Malfoy.” Ron nearly choked.
“Malfoy?!? Malfoy?!? Malfoy Malfoy?!?” Harry nodded in response.
“Bugger Harry, so much for a relaxing holiday. Mate… to be real, I’d have to off myself.” Ron said incredulously.
“I’ve considered it.” Harry responded simply.
“I’m even shocked that he was able to get a job at the ministry with the reputation he’s got – Mr. Funke must have lost his bloody marbles.”
Harry nodded, how was it even possible that Malfoy had secured a job at the ministry when his family had such a large part in nearly destroying it a couple months ago.
“Well, just let me know if he gives you any trouble. I’ve been practicing transfiguration to retake my NEWTs, and I’m almost positive I can turn him into a ferret again.”
Harry laughed. “He’s honestly not that bad so far, even tried to apologize for his hand in the battle and all that.”
“That’s how they get you Harry, no apology could change the fact that he’s a right git with the dark mark on his left arm.”
“He was wearing long sleeves..” Harry answered simply.
Ron laughed at that.
Lunch had passed then, much the same with Ron and Harry’s playful banter. Harry giggling at his stupidity even when he tried his hand at wit.
Even amongst the laughs, Harry felt himself doing something he had never done before. Harry was holding back from his best friend. Folding the Draco he saw into himself – as if the real Malfoy was entirely Harry’s own.
What he hadn’t said to Ron is that he was glad Draco had been given another chance. Not that he liked Draco per say, not that he could fathom his actions – but that he understood them.
He could not imagine how much willpower someone would have to have to defy their family, their friends, and everything they had ever known to stand up for what was right. And to even know what was right in the first place.
In Draco, Harry saw something deeper than the simplistic regret present in the other Death Eaters. Like children caught with their hand in the cookie jar, they were filled with so much disappointment they left little room for shame.
Draco carried his penitence in his bones. Hauled enough remorse for the lot of ‘em, heavy like a man just down from the cross.
He had the unmistakable disposition of a sorry sack.
Harry being the sorta kind and mostly stupid boy he was, couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. Even more stupidly, Harry found himself lost in thoughts of Malfoy. So much so, he could almost hear himself thinking over the sound of Ron’s chewing.