Merry Christmas, Bex, you wonderful witch.
Harry flicked through the newspaper in front of him, only actually half-interested in what he was seeing. Even the moving pictures of witches and wizards all standing in various positions and talking amongst themselves didn't grab his attention like they normally did. Six years of magic and the slightest things still managed to amaze him. But not today. He looked across the table at Hermione, who was frowning at him over the top of her textbook.
“You're frowning.” She wrinkled her forehead. Ron's attention was even more distant than Harry's as he vacantly watched the floating candles above. Hermione's hand moved to his chin to close his mouth without even looking up from her book.
“you're frowning.” Harry tried. But nothing got past Hermione nowadays. She huffed at him and folded her arms. He closed the paper. “Look. It's just been a stressful few months, okay?”
Her face softened. “Harry-”
“I'm really not in the mood, Hermione.” He stood up from the table and swung his bag over his shoulder. Making the quick ten paces out of the Great Hall and away from the breakfasting students. Hermione didn't even make an attempt to call him back. She looked over at Ron. “Honestly. You're going to catch flies.” He looked at her and snapped his jaw shut again as he turned back to his porridge.
“It's not my fault Harry's mad, Hermione. You know what he's like.”
“No... It's something different.”
Harry checked his timetable, but he knew what he had; Transfiguration. He realised that, in his frustration- though he wasn't sure where the frustration had come from, exactly- he was travelling in the completely wrong direction. He spun around quickly and collided with someone's shoulder as they emerged from a classroom. “Watch it, Potter.” The blonde boy hissed.
“Get lost, Malfoy.” Harry's hands tightened on his satchel as he took in Malfoy's appearance for what felt like the first time in weeks. The boy had gotten skinnier, much skinnier. And his face had
a hollowed-out, drawn look to it. Even his unnaturally pale skin had taken on a translucent glow. Like he hadn't seen the sun in weeks.
“How was your summer, Potter? Lose any more relatives?” Malfoy quipped, taller than Harry by nature, he looked down on him with a mocking glare. Harry's fists were gripping so hard on his bag now that his knuckles looked ready to burst out of his skin. As evenly as he could, he muttered;
“I don't know, Malfoy? Why don't you ask your dad? Pretty sure he's rubbing shoulders with anyone who would have done it.”
Malfoy's face contorted with anger, and he moved another pace toward Harry. He looked ready to punch him, until a piercing voice had him stepping backwards immediately. “Potter. Malfoy. Enough. To your classes. Now. In fact, Potter, I believe you're with me.” McGonagle rapped a rolled up piece of parchment on Harry's shoulder, as Malfoy moved away with a sneer.
He took his usual seat next to Ron in Transfiguration, and almost immediately regretted it.
“Thanks for leaving me alone with Hermione, earlier. She's in a right foul mood. Because you wouldn't tell her what's wrong.”
Harry dug in his bag for his books and plonked them heavily down on the desk. “Well it's really none of her business.”
“We're just worried about you, Mate.” Ron frowned and pulled out his own textbook.
“There's nothing to be worried about.” He sighed and rubbed his scar. More out of habit than because it was hurting. Ron's brow furrowed at him. But “arry just shook hi head and turned to face McGonagle, who had appeared from behind her desk and stood at the blackboard. “Page eight-hundred and eleven. Chapter nineteen, human to animal transfiguration...”
Not wanting to hear any more of the lesson, Harry put his elbow on the desk, and his chin on his hand, and waited for the hazy blackness of daydreams to come and wash away anything else he was thinking about.
He stayed in this limbo of dreamland until Ron's elbow dug into his ribs. “Here, what's number four?”
Harry looked at the textbook, the question was pretty simple, he thought. “What is the correct term for a wizard who has the learned ability to transform himself into an animal at will?”
“Animag.;'us, Ron.” He said, scribbling the answer down himself, deciding to skip numbers one, two and three.
“Oh. Right. 'Course.”
He looked over at Ron's paper. He'd done about as much work as Harry, with one word for each answer. Harry set his quill down on the desk and left his head fall back into the comfortable cushion of the heel of his hand.
They made their way over to the bleak, grey courtyard. Their robes catching the wind and drawing icy breezes up their spines. Harry tugged his scarf even tighter around his neck against the harsh October wind. Hermione hugged the book she was reading even closer to her chest. No wonder the courtyard was deserted. He suddenly felt foolish for asking her to come out here. “What's wrong with you, Harry?”
“Just not very good at telling the weather?”
“That's not what I meant, and you know it.” She sighed and sat at one the benches furthest from the blustery opening into the fields beyond. Harry could just see the Quiddich goal posts from here, and wondered vaguely when his next match would be. “Sorry.”
“So...” She tapped her feet on the ground and tried to stop shivering. Harry was surprised she hadn't asked them to go back inside yet. “What is wrong?”
“I don't know, Hermione.” Harry shrugged and held his hands together. “I just feel so...So angry all the time, you know?”
“No, I don't know, Harry.”
“I just...Can't stop thinking about that night at the Ministry.”
“It wasn't your fault, Harry. Everyone knows that.”
“How many people have to die for me, Hermione? Mum, Dad, Cedric...Sirius... Who next? You? Ron?”
“Harry...We're not going anywhere.” She put her arm around his shoulder and gave him a squeeze, resting her head on his shoulder. He tried to smile and rest his head on hers as they watched the coloured smudges dance around the gold hoops.
“Come on.” She sighed and patted his leg. “We have Defence Against The Dark Arts.”
Harry's eyes met Snape's for half a second and he groaned inwardly. He had almost forgotten about Horace Slughorn's taking Snape's position as Potion Master. He sat down with a dour look on his face and waited for Hermione to sit don beside him. The Slytherins came in in drabs as the took their seats amongst the Gryffindors. Snape just watched the class with an expression best fitting in a graveyard and waited until the last pupil had sat down before he spoke.
“Time to rearrange some seating.” He droned in his harsh voice as the candlelight caressed the walls with a flickering green light. How had Snape succeeded in making the normally bright Dark Arts room into an almost carbon-copy of the dungeons? “Patil, on your feet. Swap with Goyle. Yes, now, girl. Crabbe won't bite. Much.” Harry watched as the small girl shuffled out from the seat behind him, and the lumbering oaf took her place. He glared a the teacher, who took no notice of him. “Finnegan. Swap with Miss Parkinson.”
This went on for a moment or two until most of the Gryffindors were separated amongst the Slytherins. Only he and Hermione were left seated together.
“Miss Granger. Mister Malfoy.” Instead of uttering his command, he made flicking motions with both wrists in opposite directions. Hermione looked hopelessly at Harry, who couldn't have been more disgusted with the thin, greasy man in front of him than he was at that moment.
Malfoy sighed angrily and took his seat on the bench as far away from Harry as possible. Harry decided to help him along by shifting himself directly to the edge of the bench. Fantastic, he thought, sit me next to the Death Eater...He glanced over at Malfoy, who was looking back warily at Goyle. Feeling surrounded, Harry opened his book with a slam that was disproportionate to its size.
“Best seat in the house.” Malfoy hissed under his breath. “Next to Potter and at the front.” He was twirling his wand around in circles under his desk, the black wood glinting off the candlelight.
“Consider yourself lucky, Malfoy...” Harry snipped “At least you get to sit closer to your favourite teacher. Now you can have cosy discussions about whatever Volde-”
“Five points from Gryffindor.” Snape snapped his fingers “For your incessant talking, Potter.”
Malfoy snickered and Snape shot him a dirty look. Harry turned around in his seat a little to look at Hermione, who had paled completely, and like Harry, was sitting as far away from the pinched-faced Slytherin girl beside her as possible without falling off the desk.
Snape issued the task and left them all to scratch their quills against the parchment, in attempts to answer the ridiculously hard questions. He paced between the rows of seats, occasionally snatching people's work from under their quills to check their progress. Harry turned back to his almost-blank page and tried to summon the answers.
“Bet you're loving this, Potter.” Malfoy chuckled quietly.
“After all, everyone knows about you.”
“Everybody knows everything about me, Malfoy. And isn't that why you hate me? Because everyone's looking at me and not you? Or is that just what your Lord told you to tell yourself if it makes you feel better?” But still, what did everyone supposedly know about him now?
Malfoy seized up and his hands tightened. “Watch your mouth.”
A bony hand slammed down on Harry's parchment. “Mister Potter...If I’d known you would talk so diligentlyto Mister Malfoy, I would never have seated you together. Care to share your thoughts with the class?” He pulled the paper off his desk and read aloud “Ah, yes. Mister Potter seems to believe that the best way to repel a banshee is to spray it with holy water...”
A suppressed round of snickers filled the classroom and Harry's fists tightened. The corners of Snape's mouth twitched. “Back to work, Mister potter. And I suggest you open your text book to the correct page.” Snape flicked his wand and sent the pages of Harry's book shuffling backwards. When the frightened hush fell over the students again, Malfoy glanced over at Harry. Furious at being humiliated, Harry was waiting. “You,” he hissed while Snape was terrorising someone else at the other side of the classroom. “Divination tower after lessons, and don't even bother bringing your croonies...”
The day couldn't have ended sooner for Harry. He bid an apologetic goodbye to Hermione after class, and sprinted the seemingly endless distance to the Divination tower. He knew Malfoy would come, he may have been a slimy git, but he still had his undue amount of pride. Sure enough, when he reached the grey marble of the spiral staircase, Malfoy was already waiting. He broke into a gloating grin when he saw Harry, and stepped away from the wall he'd been leaning on. “Took you long enough, Potter. Stop to cry in a corner on your way?”
“Enough, Malfoy.” Harry snapped. He was angry, so very angry. And Draco Malfoy was, maybe not the cause, but at least he could be part of the solution. Harry's hand twitched in anticipation. Malfoy
apparently saw it and stepped closer to Harry, sneering. “You going to hit me, Potter?”, there was no more than two metres between them.
“It's definitely on my 'to do' list.” Harry gritted his teeth and stepped forward, closing the gap even more. “Someone has to. At least then you'll learn to keep your mouth shut.”
“And you're the one to do it?” Malfoy laughed darkly and unpleasantly. His sneer changed into a contorted face of anger. “You think you're so...So special!” he roared. “You just- You just...” With a gutteral noise he jumped at Harry.
But this wasn't what Harry was expecting.
Harry was expecting to feel Malfoy's fist colliding with his face- not this.
Malfoy rammed his lips firmly against Harry's, sending them both stumbling backwards until they collided with the wall. Harry wasn't even aware of anything, besides the furious pressure of Malfoy's skin against his own.
And he wanted to hurt him, to make him feel a quarter of the pain that he himself was feeling, he wanted to hurt him, to break him. To touch him. Harry's hands twisted into the back of Malfoy's hair as the assault continued, unrelenting. Malfoy's hands matched his own, with one wrapping itself around the back of Harry neck, pulling him deeper, closer while the other fisted into the black hair that never stayed neat. Even their lips moved angrily, to hurt the other. Malfoy's unstoppable pressure that had Harry's back jammed against the cold marble as their lips collided over and over. This wasn't a kiss, it was a battle. And Harry's hand desperately pulling Malfoy's face closer, that wasn't affection, that was torture. Malfoy didn't wait for any kind of permission as he forced Harry's mouth open and let his tongue lash out furiously against Harry's. And Harry's responded just as frantically. Here was where the war was won or lost. Suddenly the presence in his mouth disappeared without warning and Harry's head was yanked backwards by his hair. He barely had a chance to yelp with pain before Malfoy's free hand clasped over his mouth as his own mouth turned to Harry's neck, at first kissing it just under his chin, but then biting and scratching his teeth across the skin. Harry whimpered softly and his fist tightened in Malfoy's hair. But this did nothing to hamper his efforts. If anything, it only made him quicken and bite even harder.
Just as suddenly as his lips had vanished, They reappeared again, quicker and harder and slightly swollen. The hand that had covered Harry' mouth dropped to the sore spots where he'd just been bitten and dug its fingernails in. Harry whimpered into Malfoy's kisses as the older boy didn't hesitate in biting into Harry's lip. With a sudden surge of fury, Harry responded with his own pressure, letting go of Malfoy's hair and gripping his shoulders. He let his fingernails do just as Malfoy's were, and dug into the skin. Malfoy made a slight noise at the change of position before his hands unravelled from the thin frame in front of him and shoved Harry away. Harry hit the wall again and gasped for oxygen he hadn't realised he'd needed. His lips were swollen and his neck was already beginning to redden. Malfoy took a deep shuddering breath. He glared at the utterly still, utterly bewildered Harry and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Everyone knows about you, Potter. Everyone.” He didn't wait for a response as he took off down the corridor and away from Harry. Harry touched his lips with his fingers and slid down the wall to the floor.
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