Chapter Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Chapter Summary: Wherein almost everyone stands, Pansy is still a prefect, Ginny asks no awkward questions, but Harry does.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Chapter 2 - To Kill a Memory
Had Scrimgeour really said First Class?
Draco's legs felt like blocks of frozen wood as he made his way towards the High Table.
"Congratulations," Scrimgeour said, extending his hand.
"Sir, I-- there must've been a mistake," Draco said after a moment's hesitation as he shook the Minister's hand. Better to sort it out now than be humiliated later, when they realised their error. "I was informed that I would be receiving the Order of Merlin--"
"--Second Class, yes, yes. That was what we'd originally felt was proper, considering your family history. But we changed our minds. You are not your family, my boy."
"Right," mumbled Draco as a swarthy Ministry wizard pinned the medal to his chest. He barely felt anything. For all the times he'd had daydreams about being honoured in front of the whole school -- ever since he'd been a first-year -- the real thing was somewhat numbing and even a little unpleasant. Having all those eyes on him made him feel too exposed. Be careful what you wish for, indeed.
You are not your family. What was that supposed to mean? Draco was still a Malfoy, Order of Merlin or not. He had no intention of renouncing his family name for any of this. After turning around, he glanced at Potter, who was looking at him. Why was Potter looking at him?
"It's a good thing we're not on opposing sides, then." Potter was too close, and Draco shifted slightly backwards. The movement was too quick, and the room tilted a bit.
"Huh?" Potter looked surprised, as though jolted out of sleep. "I forgot what we were talking about."
"Winning." Draco's vision spun, and he felt his mouth watering quickly. Too quickly. He was going to throw up any minute now.
He saw something move in his peripheral vision -- Potter's wand. Just as quickly as it had come, the nausea abated.
"Not a bad charm, is it?" Potter asked, setting his wand aside. "Lupin taught it to me. Said my dad invented it. All the benefits of being drunk with none of the drawbacks."
Draco snorted. "My dad would disapprove," he heard himself say, and promptly felt ridiculous. His father was none of Potter's business.
Potter was still looking at him. Draco forced a grin and headed back to the Slytherin table. Not your family. That was a rubbish reason for the Ministry to change their minds.
"Well done, Draco!" Daphne gushed when he got back to the Slytherin table and took his seat beside Millicent.
Draco glanced down at his chest and saw the medal shining there, its glint somehow warmer for the ribbon's scarlet colour. "I always said I'd go far," he said distractedly.
Pansy was sitting with her arms crossed, looking everywhere but at Draco, and nibbling at her lower lip. Draco would've given anything to see what was going on in her mind now. It had been one thing when he'd been Draco Malfoy, disgrace to the pure-blood cause. Now that he was Draco Malfoy, Order of Merlin, First Class, with the next blood war far in the future, Pansy was doubtlessly kicking herself.
Draco forced himself to pay attention to Scrimgeour, who just now seemed to be completing another long-winded speech.
"…for outstanding courage in the face of insurmountable odds, nothing but an Order of Merlin, First Class, would suffice as an honour. Would Neville Longbottom please come up to the podium."
Draco watched as Potter clapped Longbottom on the back and said something. Longbottom stood up and started walking, looking dazed. He still didn't look like a man of outstanding courage, but Draco had seen him fight. It would be a cold day in hell when Draco faced off against Neville Longbottom without a small army at his back.
No sooner had Longbottom shuffled, red-faced, back to the Gryffindor table, that Scrimgeour spoke again.
"Last but not least, we have another Order of Merlin, First Class recipient among us today." The Minister took a deep breath, and Draco mentally prepared himself for what would undoubtedly be the longest speech yet. Not that it would be wholly undeserved, but honestly, there was only so much of these things one could stomach. Scrimgeour cleared his throat. "There is nothing I could say that you all don't already know. There are no words that can convey the depth of gratitude the wizarding community feels for the sacrifices that have been made to make our world safe again. Would Harry Potter come up to the podium, please."
The Gryffindors roared as one. A second later, the Hufflepuffs joined in, as did the Ravenclaws. Several younger Slytherins began to cheer as well. Draco paid them no heed. He was eighteen, and he would not behave like an overly excitable toddler. Slowly, he got to his feet and watched Potter walk up to the High Table amid the cacophony. He looked very small despite his height.
Draco felt movement next to him, and then Millicent was standing beside him, her cheeks a bit pink.
"You looked like a prat, standing all by yourself," she said without looking at him.
Draco smirked and turned back to look at the front of the Great Hall. "Now we both look like prats," he muttered.
Draco glanced around and saw that most of the second, third and fourth year Slytherins were on their feet. Some others were rising, too, and people from the other houses seemed to be noticing.
When Potter shook the Minister's hand, it seemed like everyone but a select few were standing, in solemn silence uncharacteristic of the very young.
The Minister and Potter held a brief whispered conversation, but Draco couldn't make out any of it. Potter looked cross, and the Minister's smile seemed to be wearing at the edges. So Potter had not made his peace with the Ministry. The last of the Ministry wizards pinned the Order of Merlin to Potter's chest, and then Potter walked off towards the Gryffindor table without looking back. Draco could barely see him moving through the crowd.
Then there was a break in ranks, and Draco saw him, shoulders hunched and head bowed. Not your typical war hero. Potter looked even more downtrodden than Longbottom had. What was wrong with him? A better question: what was wrong with Draco? Since when did he dedicate so much time to thinking about what was going on with Potter?
Since that night.
"Shut up," Draco told himself.
"I didn't say anything," Millicent replied, her eyebrow rising.
"Wasn't talking to you," muttered Draco, feeling warmth in his cheeks. "You think they'll let us go now? I'm so tired, I think I'll sleep until Friday."
Millicent shrugged. She didn't need to answer; the Ministry delegation disappeared quickly and without fanfare. McGonagall told the first-years to stay and wait for Madam Pomfrey to take them to the hospital wing. The rest of the students were instructed to proceed to their dormitories. It was business as usual, except none of them knew what would happen tomorrow. Maybe without Sorting, the Board of Governors would just close the school or something.
"Pansy," Draco called as the Slytherins started to leave.
She turned around and gave him a suspicious -- but hopeful -- look. "Yes?"
"You know the new password, don't you?"
"Of course I do. I am still a prefect," she said, tilting her chin slightly upwards and making a great show of not looking at Draco's Order of Merlin.
"Good," Draco said, smiling at her. "Then you can take care of our year, can't you? I've got to do something."
"Certainly," Pansy said. Her shoulders looked stiff as she turned around and walked off, snapping at a second-year who got in her way.
"I'll see you later," Draco said to Millicent, and hurried towards the Gryffindor table. He still didn't understand the real reason for the Order of Merlin, First Class, but he now strongly suspected that Potter might have had something to do with it. And Draco would hate to be any more indebted to Potter than he already was.
Potter and Ginny had fallen behind the other Gryffindors; it looked like they were arguing. Potter said something, shook his head, and tore the Order of Merlin from his robes. He stuffed it into his pocket, ribbon and all. He really was mental, wasn't he?
"Hey, Potter," Draco called.
Potter stopped and turned around. Had his eyes lit up or was the flickering candlelight playing tricks on Draco's vision?
"I need to ask you something," Draco said when he caught up with the two of them.
"Did you have anything to do with this?" Draco asked, tapping his own Order of Merlin.
Potter's features darkened, but he hid his eyes. "I--"
"It was me," Ginny said, stepping between them. "Not Harry."
Draco narrowed his eyes. "You?"
"He was going to refuse it, you know. Right here in front of the whole school."
"You're mental," Draco said to Potter.
Ginny snorted. "That's what I said. The last thing everyone needs right now is to see that their hero is at odds with their government."
"I'm not a hero," Potter mumbled. "I didn't do it for them."
"Nobody cares who you did it for," Ginny said with an exasperated shake of her head. "The point is, it looks bad for the Ministry."
"Well, I accepted the bloody thing," Potter said. He was still looking down.
Ginny turned to Draco. "I told him to accept it only if they gave you one, too."
Draco pursed his lips. "What do you care?" The irony of all this was making him want to laugh, but these two wouldn't understand if he did.
"You tried to save Ron. You deserve something for that."
Draco rolled his eyes. "'Tried' is the key word, Weasley. I don't have to remind you that my ill-fated attempt blew my cover and made me useless--"
"You were never useless," Potter snapped.
Draco's heart leapt into his throat at the bright flash of Potter's eyes. He'd forgotten Potter could do that to him. He'd been so caught up in wanting to find out about the Order of Merlin that he'd forgotten his resolution to stay the hell away from Potter. This was why he needed to.
"I don't want you to think I'm some hero," Draco said slowly. "Because I'm not. Let me tell you something. I could have saved him, you know. If I'd stayed behind and fought Macnair instead of running, Weasley could've escaped in the commotion. But I chose my own life."
Potter looked down at his feet again. "Don't you think I know that?"
"And I would do it again," said Draco. "I wouldn't hesitate."
"Yeah, we know that, too," said Ginny. "He wasn't your brother."
"Or your friend. But you tried to save him anyway," Potter said, looking up at Draco again. "That's what matters."
"Almost doesn't count," said Draco softly. "Weasley's dead."
Potter swallowed and looked away. Ginny tried to take his hand but he shook her off. Draco really should not have felt any gratification at seeing that. He would tell himself that he hadn't.
"Ginny, I'd like to talk to Malfoy alone," Potter said. He was studying the High Table, where McGonagall was glaring in their direction.
"No, I should go," Draco said through mild panic. "We should leave anyway, so Pomfrey can take the first-years up to--"
"It won't take long," said Potter. "We can just talk in the Entrance Hall."
That was a public place. It should be all right. Maybe on the way there, Draco could come up with a non-suspicious way of making sure that Potter stayed away from him. That would make things easier. How could he piss Potter off enough to make him hate Draco again? Words wouldn't do it. What would?
The three of them walked out into the Entrance Hall, where Ginny gave Potter a quick hug and then hurried up the marble staircase. A few Hufflepuffs were milling about the north dungeon entrance.
Potter turned to Draco and opened his mouth to speak, then promptly shut it again. He looked nervous.
"If you're expecting me to thank you, we'll be here for the rest of our lives," Draco said, trying to sound as snide as possible.
He wasn't about to thank Potter; somewhere in the Ministry, there were people who thought Draco hadn't deserved that Order of Merlin, First Class. It would not do to allow anyone else to find out that Draco's honour had been contingent on Potter's demands. Making sure of that was going to take work, so Draco had nothing to be grateful for.
"I'm not expecting you to do anything," said Potter quickly. "I just. I wondered."
Draco raised an eyebrow. "You wondered."
"Yeah. Uh." Potter's tongue darted out to the corner of his mouth and disappeared again.
"You ever wonder what it would be like to have it off with a bloke?"
Draco winced. He must've been drunker than he thought he was if he'd allowed his unusual tendencies to somehow become obvious. To Potter, of all people. He looked aside. "What does that have to do with anything? You're not making any sense."
"I know." There was a faint flush playing across Potter's face. "I just wondered about it suddenly. Probably the Firewhisky talking."
Draco breathed a little easier. "Never thought I'd say this, but I think I prefer talking to you, and not to Firewhisky--"
"I want to kiss you."
Draco walled off the memory, fighting his ever-rising panic, and forced his mind to construct a sentence. "You're going to have to tell me what you wondered about if you expect me to satisfy your curiosity."
"You remember that time you slept in the guest bedroom?"
Draco's heartbeat sped up even more and he had to struggle to keep his calm expression. "Do you mean the fifty-seventh time or the eighty-first?"
Potter gave a short laugh. "Back in June, when we got drunk--"
"Oh, the ninety-eighth. Yes, of course I remember. It was a much warmer night than the ninety-seventh, if you ask me." Despite his success at keeping a level voice and a straight face, Draco's panic was starting to overwhelm him. He wanted to run, but if he did, Potter would know.
"You know what I'm talking about."
Unfortunately. "You mean the night I passed out on the drawing room floor and then woke up naked. Don't you."
Potter's eyes were steady on Draco's now, almost hypnotising. "Yes."
Five more minutes of this, and Draco would do something stupid. "You're not planning to blackmail me with that, are you?" His voice broke slightly.
Potter frowned. "No. I just wondered if maybe you have since then remembered what happened after you passed out."
Draco assumed his best puzzled expression. "Something happened after I passed out?"
"Er, no. Of course not."
Potter was hiding his eyes again, and Draco suddenly found it easier to breathe. Why was it so difficult to lie to people when they were looking at you? Life was unfair.
"I should go," said Draco cheerfully. "I promised Pansy I would, uh, listen to the story of her trip to Venice."
"Yeah," said Potter, and shoved his hands in his pockets. "I should go and find Ginny. I'll see you later."
He ran up the staircase without looking back. Draco stared after him.
Draco couldn't believe he'd just said that. Potter, apparently, couldn't believe it either. He was still sitting far too close for comfort, but he looked slightly sobered. Draco didn't think he'd ever felt so humiliated in his life.
Then Potter leaned in and kissed him. There was instant, liquid heat in Draco's lower belly. There was the aftertaste of Firewhisky and the smell of new sweat. There was a wet tongue sliding across Draco's lower lip and a hand cupping his face. There was a soft moan that was almost a sigh.
"Why, you look like you've seen a ghost!" said a voice in Draco's ear.
Draco jumped aside, and glared at the Fat Friar, who was smiling broadly at him.
"Shouldn't you be down in the dungeons, scaring the pants off Hufflepuffs?" complained Draco.
The ghost's grin grew even wider. "I'd rather be up here, scaring the pants off Slytherins!" With a hearty chuckle, he floated away, towards the Hufflepuffs at the other end of the Hall.
"Bloody ghosts," muttered Draco, and hurried down into the Slytherin dungeon.
Once in his dormitory, he quickly changed into his pyjamas and climbed into bed, then cast an Imperturbable Charm on the green curtains around him. Nott and Zabini were both still in the common room, and Draco didn't want to wake up with an ink moustache or boils on his arse. They would do it out of sheer spite, and then blame the Bloody Baron. Unfortunately for them, Draco had invented that particular excuse, back when Flint had publicly dressed him down for not catching the Snitch in second year. It hadn't been Draco's fault that Potter--
Why did everything come back to Potter?
And now he knew that Potter hadn't forgotten about that night. A part of him was absurdly gratified that Potter hadn't, but another part of him -- the sanest one, clearly -- wished that Potter would've forgotten.
Draco had tried so hard to forget. He'd kept the memory in a Pensieve the whole time he'd been at Malfoy Manor after the war's end. The only reason he'd put it back in his mind was that he hadn't dared risk his mother stumbling upon it. He'd had no way of getting rid of the memory, not without permanent damage to Father's Pensieve, which still held some old memories in the false bottom of the bowl.
Memories were apparently more difficult to destroy than Dark Lords.
And now he was stuck here until Christmas, with this fucking memory and Potter's fucking green eyes and Draco was fucked.