Warnings: Violence, character death
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 100K words
Summary: The war against Voldemort has begun in earnest. Loyalties are tested, allegiances are formed. The Sorting Hat has called for house unity once again, and Hogwarts staff unites behind that message. One sunny September afternoon, Draco Malfoy accidentally overhears Harry Potter confess something deeply personal to his best friend. Barely an hour later, he witnesses a strange scene between Harry and Professor Snape. What's Draco going to do? Why, plan carefully, of course.
Dedication: To jamie2109
Beta: cornmouse, evilsource, goneril, oddnari
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Draco Malfoy was weary and the school year had barely begun. He had had his first unhappy summer at Malfoy Manor. His mother, Narcissa, who normally doted on him, seemed to consider it Draco's personal failing that Potter had managed to survive long enough to get Draco's father, Lucius, caught and sent to Azkaban. She'd never say anything like that out loud to her own son, of course, she had better manners than that, but it was evident in the subtle contexts of her words; the carefully measured smiles.
It was the first time he had hated staying alone at the Manor. He didn't much feel like spending time with Crabbe or Goyle during the summer -- they were good as his goons, but he had nothing in common with them, besides being in Slytherin. Pansy Parkinson's mother had taken her to some tropical resort or another, and Blaise Zabini spent the summer with his uncle in Palermo, learning the ins and outs of the local politics. They'd exchanged several owls, and Blaise's certainly were more interesting. All Draco could write was along the lines of
Thank you for your letter. I watched the grass grow today. It didn't seem to grow very long at all. Perhaps I should start coming out with one of those Muggle measuring whatsits and see how long a blade of grass can grow in a month. As you can tell, I am quite bitter. Please write more about your Familia, it all sounds so fascinating from where I sit (which is in my quarters, mostly). My best conversation partner for days has been that brain-addled house-elf, Kreacher, but I've already told you all about him. Please write soon.
To combat his boredom, Draco had started to keep a journal to record his thoughts every day and he became quite fond of it, actually, he liked having his ideas down on paper. It gave him the ability to go back and revisit (and revise) his thoughts later -- Draco was finding that his planning abilities increased greatly when he started writing his ideas down and drawing charts of them, rather than just coming up with plans and mulling over them in his spare time.
By the time summer was over, Draco had plans for everything -- keeping his leadership position among the 6th-year Slytherins, taking revenge on Potter and his gang, making Dumbledore look like an arse, freeing his father from Azkaban... well, maybe not that last one. At any rate, Draco had many plans, and he was ready for another year at school.
The sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry began just as it did every year: The Hogwarts Express on September 1st, the prefects' meeting on the train, the horseless carriages, the Sorting, the speeches, the banquet, and then deep, merciful sleep.
On September the second, Draco was eating lunch beneath the bleachers near the Quidditch pitch. Crabbe and Goyle had had to go see Professor Snape, Pansy was angry with him for calling her a two-bit whore, and Blaise was still sulking over Draco's rejection of his advances. Draco smirked as he bit into his sandwich.
Honestly, Blaise was insufferable. Draco had told him that nothing could ever happen between the two of them because Blaise slept around and Draco didn't want a lover who wasn't devoted. Blaise had pointed out that Draco couldn't exactly afford to be picky, since they were the only two gay boys in Slytherin, and Draco was too good for the other houses. Draco had smirked then, and said that if Ravenclaw was good enough for Blaise, then it was good enough for Draco. Blaise had stormed off in a huff. "He'll come around, he always does," Draco thought, chewing.
Still, at the moment, his place among the other sixth-years at the Slytherin table didn't look too inviting. Pansy might go so far as to try and slip something embarrassing into his food and Draco couldn't have that. He finished his sandwich and was reaching for another when he became aware of voices drifting towards him from the other end of the bleachers. He half-turned, hoping to see who it was, but couldn't see anything -- there was a board separating the very bottom part of the bleachers in the middle. Draco strained his ears to listen.
"...and I just couldn't tell him," said a male voice Draco thought he recognised.
"Well, how about you try again after Quidditch practice tomorrow? It honestly can't be that hard, can it?" a clear female voice asked. Draco was sure he'd heard it before, but it was difficult to place without seeing who was speaking and having the voice carry over a distance.
"You have no idea how hard it is, Hermione," the male voice said, shaking slightly. Draco brightened. Of course. Potter and Granger. They frequently came to eat here. Draco wondered if Weasley was there, too. He might hear something he could use. He dropped his sandwich and, abandoning all poise, crawled over to the thin divider between the bleachers, pressing his ear to it.
"Well, he'll have to start talking to you eventually. You're friends, Harry!" Granger said, with consoling tones in her voice.
"Friends or not, he's not going to like this, not even if he makes peace with it. He's probably expected better from me," Potter said with a sigh. Draco suppressed a giggle. The Gryffindors were so insipid. However, his curiosity was piqued and he kept listening.
"No one expects anything from you, Harry," Granger countered with the same consoling tones. Draco could only do so much to keep himself from snorting. How did everybody else stand her?
"Nobody expects anything... Hermione, where have you been for the past five years? EVERYONE expects me to do something!" Potter's voice was raised now, he was angry. "Dumbledore expects me to go and face Voldemort like a good boy should, every other adult expects me to be brave and daring like a good Gryffindor should, Snape and Malfoy expect me to curl up and die like a good Potter should," he spat bitterly, and Draco nodded privately, thinking that Potter wasn't as thick as he looked. "What nobody expected me to be, is a bloody arse bandit. And here I am, defying all their expectations."
Draco's eyes widened. This was history in the making. He was overhearing Potter admit a very personal weakness, so personal that Draco himself could identify with it and know exactly what the other boy felt. Draco had just received a weapon to use against Potter unlike any he'd ever dreamed of. A weapon that he could use effectively because he was very well aware of what that kind of thing -- discovering one was gay -- did to a person.
This had been the best lunch he'd had in a long time, Draco decided. Potter and Granger were still talking but Draco wasn't really interested in Potter's sob story, nor Granger's expert advice. He quietly crawled away from the middle of the bleachers and gathered up his things. He headed back to the castle in good spirits, whistling Weasley Is Our King under his nose and formulating a plot.
Crabbe and Goyle were waiting for him outside Potions. They had to spend the lunch hour with Snape, who was furious with them for not having received Outstanding OWLs in his class, and who was making them collaborate on Slytherin Potions Booklets, supposedly as Christmas presents for the first-year Slytherins. Draco grinned at them as they told him this, in surprisingly plaintive tones.
"So, how's the project going?" he drawled, smirking. Crabbe shuffled his feet; Goyle looked at a wall. "Well, I suppose I should say thank you for your spectacular Potions failures, because I have just had a very interesting lunch hour. I'll see you later, both." Draco walked past them and occupied his usual seat at the back of the class. He was paired with Blaise, which he'd thought he was going to dislike, but now that he had his new plan, he'd need Blaise's expert assistance at some point.
Blaise strode into the classroom just then and took his seat beside Draco, not looking at him. Draco stared at him pointedly but the other boy was trying very hard to ignore him. Draco sighed and put a hand on Blaise's thigh. Blaise's head snapped up, his black curls bouncing around his face prettily, dark eyes flashing. "Come now, Blaise, must you be so difficult?" Draco asked beseechingly.
Blaise's expression softened and he put his hand on top of Draco's, looping his little finger around Draco's own. "Have you changed your mind then?"
Draco withdrew his hand delicately and winked. "I might have, I might not have. But I do so adore your company. Won't you be a little more patient?"
Blaise rolled his eyes, but smiled. Draco could tell he was mollified, if only slightly.
His gaze wandered towards the classroom entrance just as Granger and Potter made their way to their desk. Draco still didn't understand how Potter managed to get an Outstanding on his Potions OWL. He suspected he hadn't, and McGonagall had bullied Professor Snape into accepting Potter. "Whatever Potter wants to do in the future must involve a Potions NEWT," Draco mused, "and I'll have to find out what it is." He made a mental note to procure a copy of Potter's timetable.
Potter looked pensive, and Granger kept glancing at him worriedly. Draco studied the back of Potter's head -- how that messy mop irritated him. Didn't he know there were potions for that? Professor Snape glided into the classroom just then and Draco looked up.
"I trust you all have had a good lunch," Professor Snape said in a bored voice. "One of the ingredients you'll be working with today -- barnacle seeds -- emits fumes that make your digestion speed up, and if you haven't eaten, you shall be starving by the end of this lesson."
Two Ravenclaw students exchanged uneasy looks, and Draco smirked. He really disliked having other House members in their Potions class -- the Gryffindors had been bad enough for the first five years, but Advanced Potions ended up with such a small group that members of all houses were together in one classroom. Professor Snape waved his wand at the blackboard, then at the store cupboard, and the lesson began.
Draco was too busy preparing his Healing Potion to pay any more attention to Potter. He and Granger were two of the few Gryffindors in the class, and that seemed to lessen the attacks on Potter from Professor Snape. Draco didn't like that very much -- he'd rather enjoyed Potter torture at the hands of Snape. He heard Snape speak softly and looked up to see who he was talking to -- Potter. The boy was whispering something rapidly to Professor Snape, and the Professor was not sneering, which Draco found very odd. Potter had a very intense and urgent look as he faced Professor Snape, and Granger beside him was pretending not to be listening, but Draco noticed that she'd actually angled her head towards the pair.
When Potter had finished talking, Professor Snape had a strange look on his face. He started saying something to Potter, then cast a glance Draco's way. Draco looked away quickly, but he was too late. He heard a soft whisper and the sound of footsteps. When he dared to look up again, Professor Snape was at the front of the classroom, scribbling something on a long sheet of parchment. Potter had bent over his cauldron and was conferring with Granger in lowered voices. They were clearly talking about the Healing Potion, however.
Draco sighed and started to stir his potion. What was going on? He felt very odd at having witnessed the previous scene -- Potter was talking to Professor Snape as an equal, and the other was actually listening! That much was obvious from their body language and facial expressions. What could Potter possibly have to say to the Potions Master that wouldn't elicit a curled upper lip? Draco felt strangely betrayed -- he'd always thought that Snape hated Potter. Several minutes later, Professor Snape said: "Your Healing Potion should be a clear blue by now. If it's not, you'll get no marks for today's exercise. I shall be coming round to look at your cauldrons and supervise as you add the dragon's blood."
Draco's and Blaise's potion was perfect as usual, but then again, the Advanced Potions class certainly would never see the same frequency of exploding cauldrons as pre-OWL Potions had, especially with Neville Longbottom finally gone. Professor Snape came around and put his hand on Draco's shoulder. "I should like to see you add the dragon's blood, Blaise; I know Draco is good with handling it." Blaise obeyed, picking up the long clay dropper, dipping it into the tiny vial in front of him carefully, then sealing the top with his thumb. He brought the dropper over to the cauldron, thick brows knitted together in concentration, and tilted it slightly, moving his thumb upwards just a little to allow air to seep into the dropper.
The rich blue-red substance started to trickle slowly out of the dropper, and as soon as three drops had fallen into the cauldron, Blaise quickly lifted the dropper, pressing his thumb tightly over the opening once again, and deposited it in the vial. The potion bubbled dangerously for a moment, then started to boil. Professor Snape nodded approvingly and moved on to the desk in front of them. There was nothing to be done now except wait for the potion to settle, so Draco watched Potter. "Visum Proximus," Draco muttered quietly, pointing his wand discreetly at Potter, thus having a much closer view of the boy's head.
Professor Snape was standing above Potter, instructing him to add the final ingredient to the potion. Potter and Granger's cauldron was in between them, so Potter had to turn slightly to administer the dragon's blood. Draco didn't watch the other boy's hand with the dropper, he watched his face. Potter had surprisingly clear skin, and he was slightly tanned -- golden, not bronze. Draco's upper lip twitched slightly. Even in this small, simple thing, Harry Potter had him beat. Draco didn't tan very well at all. His father, Lucius, tanned a rich, deep bronze. Draco would merely turn a deep pink, then his skin would peel for days, before leaving him nearly as pale as before. He inherited his complexion from his mother, Narcissa, who also didn't tan well. At least they didn't freckle, Draco thought.
He shook off the memories of an otherwise pleasant summer in Majorca and continued watching Potter, who was angling his dropper over the cauldron at that moment. His face was tense with concentration, his lips pulled back slightly, and Draco could see the tip of a very pink tongue sticking out from between his teeth. Draco's gaze lingered on Potter's mouth then shot back up to his eyes. A bead of sweat was sliding down the other boy's cheek and Draco wanted to lick it. What? No, that was ridiculous. Draco shook his head slightly, amused. This was Harry Potter, not a potential romantic interest. Draco had to have control.
Potter had successfully added the dragon's blood to the potion and turned back to face the front of the classroom as Snape walked over to the Hufflepuffs sitting next to the Gryffindor pair. Draco and Blaise's potion was ready, and Draco filled two flasks as Blaise fussed with the remaining ingredients on the desk, loading them onto a tray to carry them back to the store cupboard. Draco wrote his and Blaise's names on scraps of parchment, labelled the flasks carefully, and cleaned out their cauldron. This year, Professor Snape had them sharing cauldrons to ensure "proper teamwork," as he'd put it.
Draco snorted under his breath as he gathered up his things. It probably had to do with that speech Granger had made at the beginning of the year, some rubbish about House unity and working together to oppose Voldemort. Of course, the other Slytherins in Advanced Potions were paired off with Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs, and Gryffindors, but Draco had been adamant about working with one of his own. He looked over at Blaise who was lounging in his seat, running a hand through his thick curly hair. Blaise was very attractive, Draco had to admit, but he did sleep around entirely too much. Even now, with all his advances towards Draco, he was eyeing Zacharias Smith -- a Hufflepuff, of all things. Daphne Greengrass (who was nicknamed Queenie for her attitude in first year, and was stuck with the name ever since) was immersed in conversation with Macmillan, the Hufflepuff prefect. "House unity," Draco thought amusedly, "More like cross-House fornication."
The bell went, and Draco got up, shouldering his bookbag and telling Blaise to take the potion flasks to the front. "Okay. I'll see you at dinner, Draco," Blaise breathed into his ear. Draco smiled, his eyes downcast, and turned to walk down the aisle between the desks. Looking up to see where he was going, he was suddenly staring straight into Potter's eyes. They were so close he was almost touching the glasses. Potter's eyes were a violent shade of green, extremely bright. The pupils were large, and there was a leaf-green pattern of a many-pronged star around each. There were flecks of gold scattered throughout the eyes, which had now narrowed.
"What're you staring at, Malfoy?," Potter asked accusingly, his voice coming from too far away. Draco realised he'd forgotten to cancel the Near-Vision spell, which was tied to Potter, and looked down quickly.
"Nothing much, Potter -- just your pretty face," Draco drawled, looking up just a little to see what effect that had on the other boy. The effect was very pretty, Draco had to admit. Potter's eyes widened and his mouth opened halfway, lips trembling slightly, and a faint blush coloured the skin over his cheekbones. Draco felt a pang just above his stomach. Potter had a beautiful face, almost angelic in appearance, especially with that wide-eyed look. The pang in his chest seemed to turn into a kind of tickle that was spreading upwards, and Draco's throat constricted.
"He's not worth it, Harry," Granger muttered and tugged on her friend's arm, practically dragging him from the classroom. Draco took the opportunity to finish the Near-Vision spell as soon as Potter's back was turned. "That was very interesting," Draco thought, smiling to himself. He left the Potions classroom in high spirits, determined to forget the infinitesimal fraction of time when he'd wanted to just keep looking into Potter's eyes until he drowned in them. That was just a moment of weakness, and of course, it did not hurt his plan that Potter was attractive. It didn't hurt Draco's plan at all.
Draco Malfoy's Diary, September 2
Harry Potter is gay. Where was this crucial bit of information when I was drawing up my plans? Where? No matter, I have drawn a new plan. It's not my best, but it was improvised. I expect I shall refine it in the near future. Must obtain copy of Potter's timetable. Must punish Granger severely for telling Potter I wasn't "worth it." I am very much worth it. Potter shall be mine! Well, that was a thought. I suppose I should let it stand. However, if I'm having thoughts like these, I am better off asleep. I feel unclean right now.
1. Barnacle -- Mythical tree with barnacles that opened to reveal geese. My reasoning for using it here is that if it really existed, the geese would need a lot of nutrition, and the tree and its seeds would sap your life energy by increasing your digestion if you came close to it.
2. Dragon's blood -- We know that dragon's blood has healing properties from the books. I thought it would be a no-brainer for a Healing Potion.
3. I am a Potions whore.
4. Visum Proximus -- Visum is Latin for vision and Proximus is Latin for nearest. Nearest vision -- a spell that makes you see a thing up close (about 1 inch from your eyes). It can only be cast on one person or object at a time, and continues to run until you cancel it with Finite Incantatem.