Chapter Rating: Light R
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Chapter Summary: Wherein Harry's at a loss for words, everyone has too much homework, but there's always Quidditch -- and then it's Saturday.
Notes: This has not been beta-read, and will not be until it's done. Read at your own risk!
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Chapter 9 - People Are Strange
Draco kept his eyes closed and his breathing rhythmically steady. What would Potter do if he opened his eyes? He decided he'd rather not know.
"I don't know what's wrong with me," Potter told him.
Draco kept breathing, evenly. If Potter wanted to have a conversation with his unconscious body, that was Potter's prerogative. As long as Draco pretended to be asleep, he didn't have to remember any of it. At least not to Potter's knowledge.
He felt Potter's fingertip at the top of his shoulder, sliding down, causing gooseflesh to cover his entire arm. Draco made a very convincing sleepy noise of discontent and pulled his blanket up over his shoulder, turning away from Potter.
Potter froze. "Fuck," he whispered. "Are you awake?"
No, I'm not. Now go away before I wake up.
"I wish I could talk to you," said Potter, his voice bitter. "I wish you would stop acting like the war didn't happen."
Draco bit his lip, glad that Potter couldn't see him. Just to be sure, he pulled the blanket even further over his head with an appropriate mutter.
Potter sighed. "I feel like a complete idiot talking to you like this. I never thought I'd see the day when I wanted to hear you talking back." He was silent for a few moments. "Then again, I probably wouldn't know what to say if you were looking at me right now."
Draco willed his heart not to race, quite in vain. He hoped Potter couldn't feel the steady thump-thump-thump of it reverberating through the bed.
"I don't want to hate you," said Potter. "I don't want you to hate me. Even if you never remember that night, I--"
He fell silent and Draco felt the bed shift a little, as though Potter's body tensed. There were footsteps coming from beyond the door. Slowly, Potter rose from Draco's bed. The footsteps shuffled past, on to the neighbouring dormitory. Probably some sixth-year coming back from a night with his girlfriend.
Draco could almost see Potter standing there over his bed, looking down at him. He fought an overwhelming urge to turn and see for himself.
"I miss talking to you," whispered Potter. "Like we used to before... before that night, and before Ron and Hermione..."
Draco couldn't take it any more. Not when everything Potter said was an iron ring round his heart, making him feel guilty -- for what, he wasn't even certain. He turned around and rubbed his eyes, pretending to have woken up.
"Come to murder me in my sleep?" he asked. His voice was hoarse.
"I-- uh--" Potter stammered, and fell silent. Draco couldn't blame him. How did one explain standing over a classmate's bed in the middle of the night?
"If you have, you'd better get on with it," said Draco. "Or else I'll find my wand and kill you first."
Potter shook his head. "I was just getting a glass of water. I'm sorry I woke you."
"Potter, you have a perfectly functional jug of water on your bedside cabinet."
There was a sound of glass shattering from that direction. "It broke," said Potter blithely.
"So I hear."
"Uh, I'll just..."
"Yeah," said Draco, oddly disappointed. What had he expected, really? He just wanted Potter to stop with the midnight confessions, and it had worked, hadn't it? So why did he feel regret as Potter walked back to his bed?
Throughout the school week, excitement mounted amongst the students. No one could deny the appeal of Quidditch, and as tryouts for the lower years progressed, even Draco found himself oddly excited for Thursday -- the day of the seventh-year tryouts. He couldn't decide what he was looking forward to more -- flying again or beating Potter.
Speaking of Potter, he stayed quieter than a fish in a pond throughout the week. He'd barely spoken in Defence Against the Dark Arts on Monday, didn't take his eyes off his book in Charms on Tuesday, stayed glued to his cauldron on Wednesday. Literally, as it happened -- they'd been making Healing Solutions, which required elephant tree sap. Potter added too much, causing his potion to bubble over the sides of his cauldron and create a sticky mess.
During a different time in their lives, the incident would have given Draco mocking material for weeks. Now, the last thing he wanted was for anyone to think he cared enough to notice. As Draco watched Potter labour over ungluing his fingers from one another, he wondered what had happened to Potter's amazing Potions talent from sixth year. It had bee so very infuriating back then -- that Potter would turn out to excel at something at which he'd traditionally failed. Just how much had the war fucked with Potter's mind? Draco chased the thought from his head and stirred his potion with renewed fervour. Since when did he care about Potter's mental health?
Thursday's double Transfiguration lesson was blessedly sans Potter, because Potter was in a different group -- Transfiguration was one of those lessons for which the seventh-years had to be split up. Draco still had no idea what the logic behind the groupings was, but a day without staring at the back of Potter's head was a day well-spent, as far as he was concerned.
It was much easier to avoid Potter -- and to avoid thinking about Potter -- now that lessons were in session. Draco barely had time to breathe from the amount of reading he had to do; by the middle of the week, his hands felt like they'd cramped up permanently from all the note-taking and essay-writing. NEWT year really was a bitch, teenagers' propensity to exaggerate here or there.
The Auror lessons had been delayed on account of the Quidditch tryouts; most people were too busy betting on who would get picked to worry about homework, let alone extracurricular activities. Draco had nearly forgotten about the Auror training until he'd overheard Moody talking to someone in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, shouting something about protocol.
On Thursday evening after dinner, Draco sauntered onto the Quidditch-pitch, carrying his broom at half-mast against his shoulder. About a dozen people showed up. Only seven would get picked. Hooch was picking the captains, too, after the teams were assembled. Ginny Weasley, of course, had been picked captain of the sixth-year team; she was seated near the top of the stands now, thick strands of long hair like tongues of fire in the still-warm autumn breeze. She was there to cheer Potter on, without a doubt, though why she would want Potter to win was beyond Draco -- it would mean that Potter and Ginny would need to compete for the Snitch against each other, and that couldn't be a healthy influence on any relationship.
Then again, what did Draco care about the state of Potter's relationships? He waved to Daphne, who was, surprisingly, not sitting in the stands. She stood off to the side, next to Millicent, and clutched a broom. There was a determined look on her face, one Draco wasn't quite familiar with. Pansy, Tracey, and their two newest recruits -- the sixth-years Chloe and Regan, or was it Cordelia and Rhoda? -- sat in the stands opposite Ginny. Draco couldn't fathom why they were even there. Pansy hated Quidditch; she only ever went to the Slytherin games out of house spirit and to support Draco. Women were weird.
The Chaser hopefuls -- Dean Thomas, Zacharias Smith, Seamus Finnigan, Wayne Hopkins, and Terry Boot -- flew first. Draco was watching them pass the Quaffle back and forth for a while, then looked around. There was no sign of Potter. The prat was probably not even going to show up until it was time for Seeker tryouts. And then he'd expect to be named Captain, of course.
He turned and saw Daphne standing next to him, broomstick in hand. "Hi," he said. "Didn't know you played Quidditch."
"There are a lot of things you don't know about me," said Daphne, sounding mysterious.
If Draco had any genuine interest in her feminine charms, he might have even found the coy, impish expression on her face darling. He grinned, despite the fury he felt at himself for flat-out admitting he wasn't interested in Daphne's feminine charms. He was supposed to be interested in them. He gritted his teeth mentally and slipped his free arm round Daphne's waist. "Such as?" he asked, his voice low.
Daphne's cheeks turned slightly pink. "One thing at a time, Mr Malfoy, or I might think you too forward."
"Oh no, anything but that," said Draco. It was almost like following a script. He knew exactly what to say and how to say it. He just wish he could mean it.
"All right, dismount!" shouted Hooch. "Thomas, Smith, Boot -- you stay there. See me after tryouts to be fitted for team robes. Rest of you, free to go."
The would-be Chasers landed pell-mell around the pitch. Some walked away, others stayed behind. The lucky winners flew circles round each other and the goal hoops. Thomas performed a kind of somersault to a collective "ooh" from a pair of Ravenclaw girls. Draco rolled his eyes and turned to Daphne. "So I take it you aren't trying out for Chaser?"
She shook her head. "Keeper. My brother used to make me be Keeper all the time when we were younger. I've always liked it."
Draco sized her up. "Are you good?"
"I do all right," she said. Draco knew the tone and the look all too well: false modesty at its best. Something whizzed past his ear and he looked up just in time to catch a rapidly escaping parchment airplane. There was writing on the wings, and Draco unfolded it.
She's never played Quidditch in her life. She doesn't even have a brother. I checked.
Draco lowered the parchment and looked up in Pansy's direction. Sure enough, she was sitting with her arms folded across her chest, beaming. Draco smiled in return and handed the parchment to Daphne, watching with delight as Pansy's smug expression turned to unease. Daphne glanced at the parchment and then up at Pansy. Her eyes were cold.
"Come on," said Draco, and pulled her closer. "You knew it would happen."
"Well she might at least try not to lie quite so blatantly. I don't have a brother, indeed. She fancied him before she decided she was going to marry you-- oops." Daphne coloured, and cast a guilty glance in Pansy's direction.
Draco shook his head. "Really, do you think I didn't know about Pansy's grandiose plans?"
Daphne grinned. "Well, the way Pansy carries on, you didn't."
He kissed her on the cheek. "Hopefully, she'll be busy doing other things soon."
"Yes, hopefully," came Zabini's voice behind them. "How did you ever convince her to go out with you, Malfoy? I think my mother is less picky than this woman."
"I'll take that as a compliment," said Draco dryly. "What are you doing here?"
"Trying out; what does it look like?" asked Zabini, pointing to the broomstick on which he was leaning.
Draco looked up at the pitch, where Millicent and three Hufflepuffs were ferociously swinging their Beaters' bats around at a barrage of Quaffles issuing out of a basket that hung in midair. He wondered if Crabbe and Goyle were Beaters at Durmstrang. Probably not. They wouldn't have had the opportunity to try out, most likely -- unlike Hogwarts, Durmstrang had had the age system in place for centuries. Instead of adjusting to the new lifestyle day-by-day, Crabbe and Goyle would have no choice but try and fit in. Not something either of them did very well. Thinking about Crabbe and Goyle made Draco remember the last time he saw them, and he didn't like to think about that. He turned his attention back to the pitch, where the Beater tryouts were concluding.
Millicent just barely managed to hit more Quaffles than Kevin Entwhistle...
Kevin Entwhistle? Hadn't he just tried out for Chaser? Draco shrugged mentally and released Daphne, feeling somewhat relieved at being able to do so. "You're up next," he said as he gave Millicent a little wave. She lowered herself onto a bench next to Zacharias Smith, who scooted over a little bit, looking suspicious. Stephen Cornfoot -- a squat, powerful Hufflepuff -- was the other new Beater.
"Where are you going?" Draco called after Zabini, who started to follow Daphne towards Hooch.
"I'm trying out for Keeper," said Zabini over his shoulder. "You didn't seriously think I'd try to come between you and Potter, did you?"
Draco had no words. Was this some sort of public showdown he was supposed to participate in? Furious, he looked around -- still no Potter. The pitch and stands were considerably emptier now, but Ginny was still there, her gaze focussed on the castle in the distance. Draco was half-tempted to go up there and ask her if she was warming up Potter's seat for him, or what. He tried to pay attention to Daphne at the goalposts, because he knew Pansy was still watching, but his eyes kept straying to the castle and waiting for Ginny's boyfriend to show up on the horizon.
What a fucking mess.
Draco didn't know how Daphne ended up being picked as the seventh years' Keeper. He'd been so busy watching for Potter that he'd even missed Kevin Entwhistle stomping off in a huff -- the poor sod had tried out for every position and failed.
"Seekers!" shouted Hooch.
Draco stepped forward, but no one else did. Potter didn't appear, and it didn't even look like Kevin Entwhistle would return for one last try.
"Well, I suppose that settles it," said Hooch after an excruciatingly long five minutes. "All of you, to my office for team robes. Oh, Bulstrode?"
"You're the captain."
There was a novel concept. Someone else had been picked team captain and Draco didn't even mind. He gave Millicent a small pat on the back as he passed her to catch up with Daphne.
As they began to climb the stone steps leading away towards the castle, he looked over his shoulder. Ginny was still sitting in the stands, alone.
"Potter." Draco couldn't believe he'd sought Potter out himself, in their dormitory of all places, but he was livid and it was all Potter's doing.
Potter, who'd been lying on his bed, sat up abruptly. "Did you tell Ginny I was here?" He looked guilty.
"Forget your freckle-faced girlfriend, you bloody tosser, why the fuck didn't you show up for the tryouts?"
Potter blinked at him. "Uh, what?"
"Q-U-I-D-D-I-T-C-H?" Draco used his index finger to write the word in the air. "Does that ring any bells? No? S-E-E-K-E-R, maybe?"
"What's your problem?"
"My problem is that I got picked to play Seeker without so much as a fucking fight!" exclaimed Draco, and immediately regretted it. Why was he being so honest?
Potter shrugged and flopped back onto his bed. "Congratulations."
"There's nothing to congratulate me for," spat Draco, approaching Potter's bed slowly. He was ready to strangle the little bastard. "I didn't do anything. Because you didn't show up."
"Did I say I was going to show up?" Potter's voice was flat. "I hate to break it to you, Malfoy, but there are more important things in life than Quidditch."
"Oh, is that why you're now hiding from your girlfriend? Who, by the way, waited for you just as I did-- I mean, I didn't wait for you, I left, but--" Draco lost his train of thought and wondered if it would be appropriate to use a Memory Charm to erase this embarrassing moment from Potter's mind.
Potter sat back up, his eyes on Draco. "Ginny wouldn't leave me alone about the tryouts," he said slowly. "I wish you all would stop trying to run my life. I can't play Quidditch any more. Not after Ron--"
Draco rolled his eyes. "Oh, please. Playing the martyr isn't going to bring your friends back, Potter." Oh God, what the fuck was he saying? He sounded like one of those feel-good WWN programmes his mother would sometimes follow. Draco turned on his heel and stalked out, determined not to say another word on the matter to anyone. Potter was an arse, and that was all there was.
Draco didn't see Potter at all on Friday; he'd gone to bed late after their confrontation; Potter had already been asleep. Then Potter didn't show up in Herbology on Friday morning, which was just as well. And yet, Draco caught himself watching the greenhouse entrance occasionally. What the buggering fuck was wrong with him? The more he tried to avoid Potter, the more his own consciousness seemed to rebel against him.
He needed to find a way to get rid of those memories. Even if it was a painful way, or one that cost him half the Malfoy fortune. He couldn't live like this -- he shouldn't. He was a Malfoy and a Black; it did not become him to, well... pine. Especially when the object of said pining was Harry fucking Potter with his scar and his issues and his unsuspecting girlfriend.
Such were Draco's thoughts as he made his way through the courtyard on late Saturday afternoon. He had checked up on his Venomous Tentacula in the greenhouse and was returning to do some Arithmancy reading before dinner. He was only marginally surprised to find Potter sitting inside one of the stone arches that surrounded the courtyard. Draco was going to hurry past him, but Potter called his name.
"What do you want?" asked Draco, stopping.
"C'mere a minute," said Potter. His speech was slurred, reminding Draco of...
No. Not here, not now, absolutely not. He would not do this to himself. "No," he said. "I'm going back to the dormitory."
"Er-my-knee would've been nineteen today!" shouted Potter. His voice had that terrible edge to it, the sort that only comes with tears held back too long. Draco had absolutely no intention of staying here and watching Potter have a drunken breakdown.
Which was why, of course, he stayed. What more, he walked closer to Potter and saw that his eyes were out of focus, his glasses askew. He reeked of Firewhisky and maybe something stronger.
"What a fucking mess," muttered Draco, stopping within a foot of Potter. He spied movement out of the corner of his eye and turned to see a second-year hurrying into the castle. "You, there," he called.
The second-year stopped and turned around with the frightened look of an animal caught in the headlights of the Hogwarts Express. "Y-y-yes?"
"You will go up to the South Tower," instructed Draco. "You'll tell the Fat Lady that you need to see Ginny Weasley. Tell her to come down here and collect her boyfriend--"
"Don't want Ginny," mumbled Potter, though the second-year scrambled off as though pursued by a rabid Lethifold. Potter reached forward and grabbed a handful of Draco's robes, but he couldn't keep his balance and he fell, pressing tightly against Draco's chest.
"What--" Draco began, but Potter didn't seem to notice he'd spoken.
"Don't want Ginny to see me... like this," he said. His eyes were a green haze. Potter's face was so close to Draco's that Draco could see several shaving nicks on the sides of his chin...
"Well, she'll have to," said Draco, trying to regain focus by prying Potter's fingers off his arm. "I'm not dragging you all the way--"
"I loved it," said Potter, still heedless. "Your dick in my mouth. Fuckin' loved it."
Potter over him, Potter's tongue sliding along the head of his cock, Potter's hands pushing his thighs apart -- Draco didn't believe this was happening. It was some sort of alcohol-induced illusion, but it felt so good that he wished it would never end, or at least not until he came...
Draco's hands were shaking as he raised his arms to push Potter away. "What are you talking about?"
Potter's eyes seemed to clear a bit. "You know, the last time I g-g-got drunk."
"No," said Draco, injecting as much venom and ice into his voice as possible. "I don't know. And I don't want to know about your aberrant fantasies, Potter."
Potter looked confused. "But you--"
"Harry!" Ginny was hurrying towards them from the entrance. The second-year must've made record time. Draco never thought he'd be this happy to see a Weasley.
He leant closer to Potter and whispered, "You stay away from me, you sick, twisted freak."