Pursuing the Lion
by orpheous87

Pairing: Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter
Rating:
Teen
Warnings:
None
Word Count: 24,325
Genre(s): Romance

Canon: Not Canon
Other characters: Pansy Parkinson, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle, Professor Snape and Neville Longbottom
Artist:
cydciedah

Summary:
Draco has had a crush on Harry for most of their school lives. Eventually Harry cottons on and things become very different for them both. 

Author's Notes: My first attempt at anything quite this big. Told mostly from Draco's point of view, showing his crush on Harry.

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.


- - - - -

Harry stepped onto the platform and glanced back at the wall. It still amazed him that there was a secret entrance to another world in Kings Cross station. He gave a happy sigh and moved to wait for Ron. He was always at his happiest when he was back in the wizarding world as it gave him an excuse to forget about the Dursleys.

Of course, there was one person at Hogwarts that did his best to ensure that Harry's time wasn't totally happy, and right now, that person was stepping onto the platform from the train.

"Really, Mother, don't fuss! It's not as though this is my first year."

Harry heard the cold, slightly whiny voice of Draco Malfoy from the other end of the platform and made a face. He had no desire to have a run in with the blonde before the train even left and he wished that Ron would hurry up.

He could, however, see that Draco had a point. Narcissa Malfoy was doing her best to brush imaginary lint and fluff from her son's robes, which was a waste of time. Draco was never anything less than perfect in his appearance and often used Harry's haphazard appearance as ammunition to throw at the Gryffindor.

Rolling his eyes, Harry was about to move when a trolley appeared through the wall next to him, and pushing that trolley was Ron.

"Harry! You made it okay?" Ron asked, grinning as he spotted his friend.

"Yeah, Uncle Vernon dropped me off. Told me not to bother contacting them, then drove away again," Harry said, returning the grin. "Which is fine by me."

Ron laughed. "Figures," he said, then he turned his head at a noise. "What's wrong with him?" he asked, jerking his head in Draco's direction.

"Oh, he's embarrassed by his mummy's fussing I expect," Harry said, rolling his eyes.

"Typical," Ron replied, making a face. "Come on. Let's get on before Fred and George get here. They've got new 'products' that they want to try out and I don't want to be the victim again."

Harry laughed and turned towards the train, pushing his own trolley ahead of him. "Maybe they'll get lucky and Malfoy will stumble into their path," he said.

Ron laughed loudly and followed Harry.

****


Draco scowled as he heard the familiar, loud laugh of Ron Weasley. He narrowed his eyes and looked for the source, scowling again as he spotted the redhead at the other end of the platform.

"Of course he's with Potter. Why wouldn't he be," Draco muttered to himself, turning away. Though his gaze lingered long enough to get a good look at Harry's rear end. Not that he'd admit that to anyone of course.

"What was that, Draco?" Narcissa asked, turning to face her son.

"Nothing, Mother," Draco replied in a bored tone. He wished that Pansy would hurry up. Or Crabbe and Goyle, for that matter. At least then he'd be able to tell his mother that she can go home.

"Draco, I do hope you're going to bring home better results this year," Lucius said, stepping up to Narcissa's side. "It just won't do for a Malfoy to come second to a Muggleborn."

"I know, Father," Draco said, holding back a sigh. "I'll try better, I promise."

"Good. See that you do," Lucius said, sniffing slightly.

"Yes, Father," Draco sighed, looking around desperately for Pansy. For all she could be a bit of a bitch, Pansy Parkinson had been his best friend since they were old enough to walk and he wouldn't be without her.

"Draco, darling!"

It was all Draco could do not to breathe a sigh of relief as he heard Pansy's voice floating down the platform. He turned in the direction it came from and smiled as he spotted the brunette. "Pansy!"

"Come, Narcissa," Lucius sniffed. "It is clear that we needn't stay any longer."

Narcissa nodded and stood on her tiptoes for a moment to kiss her son on the cheek.

"Good bye, Mother," Draco said, somewhat fondly. "Father," he added, giving Lucius a nod.

Watching as his parents walked away, Draco finally breathed a sigh of relief. "Where have you been?" he demanded, whirling to face Pansy.

"Oh, really, Draco," Pansy tutted. "It takes a girl time to get ready you know! I thought you, of all people, would know that."

"Just because I am gay does not mean that I am a girl!" Draco hissed, his mouth close to Pansy's ear.

Pansy smirked and slipped her arm through Draco's. "Come on. Let's get a nice seat and we can catch up properly," she said in a soothing voice.

"I hope you brought me a present from Rome," Draco muttered, pacified for the moment, as they walked towards the train.

"Of course I did," Pansy nodded. "But you can't have it until we're at school. It's at the bottom of my trunk and I am not turning all my things out in the middle of the train. And don't pout."

Draco quickly stopped pouting, for fear that Pansy wouldn't give him whatever she'd bought him.

"Let's have this one," Pansy said, opening the door to an empty carriage. "Crabbe and Goyle will be joining us, I suppose?"

"Probably," Draco nodded, following the brunette into the carriage and taking a seat. "They won't find a carriage of their own."

"Oh well. Nothing new there," Pansy shrugged as she sat down beside the window. "So, how was your summer?"

"Same as usual," Draco replied, shrugging slightly. "We went to France for a couple of weeks and then came back to attend all of Mother's usual summer functions."

"No new ones to attend?"

Draco shook his head. "No. Same boring people as always," he said. "I'm sure they're trying to marry me off already. I was introduced to no less than six girls this summer, each of them as pathetic as the next."

"You mean none of them could tempt you over to the dark side?" Pansy asked in a seductive voice, whilst batting her eyelashes and flipping her hair.

"Pansy! Stop it!" Draco replied, looking scandalised. "As much as I love you, I am just not attracted to you."

Pansy giggled girlishly. "I know, Drake," she said, patting his arm. "I'm just teasing."

"Well stop it. And don't call me 'Drake'. You know I don't like it," Draco huffed, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Oh, stop being a baby," Pansy said, rolling her eyes. "It's better than 'Drakey-poo'."

Draco flushed scarlet. He regretted ever telling Pansy that that was what his mother had called him as a child when his father wasn't in earshot.

Pansy smirked again and brushed some fluff off her skirt.

Draco huffed again, staring out of the window at the platform until he felt his embarrassment dying down. "You're evil, Pansy Parkinson," he muttered, glaring at her.

"Thank you. So I've been told," Pansy replied with a proud grin.

Draco rolled his eyes. "Anyway," he said. "What about your summer? How was Rome?"

"Oh, it was beautiful!" Pansy exclaimed, sitting forward in her seat slightly. "Draco, you would have loved it."

"What did you do?"

"Well, we went on a tour of some of the most lovely, old buildings," Pansy began, before she was interrupted by the door to the compartment opening and Crabbe and Goyle entering. "Oh, hello Vincent, Greg," she said, pausing to greet the two boys.

"Crabbe, Goyle," Draco said, nodding to each boy in turn.

"Hi Draco, Pansy," Goyle replied, sitting down heavily next to Draco. "Why do they let so many first years in? We had to fight our way through."

"They're ridiculously whiny," Crabbe chipped in, sitting himself down next to Pansy.

Draco rolled his eyes and sat back again. "I doubt you had to do much fighting. One look at you two mammoths coming their way would make anyone move," he said with a smirk.

Crabbe and Goyle exchanged a glance, looking each other up and down before breaking into grins.

"Yeah, suppose you have a point there," Goyle said, nodding.

"Have you been scaring them again?" Pansy asked, one eyebrow raised.

"Not on purpose," Crabbe said, insistently. "But we may have accidentally growled at some of them."

Draco snorted. "Accidentally my arse," he said. "Please don't terrify any new Slytherins this year. It's really quite annoying when they stare at us as though we're going to eat them."

Crabbe grinned. "Can't promise anything," he said, shrugging.

"Yeah, it's not our fault if they're scaredy-cats," Goyle chipped in, chuckling.

"No, but it's your fault that you don't put them right," Draco pointed out. "Are you two trying out for the Quidditch team this year? They need new beaters and surely that's right up your alley?"

Crabbe shook his head immediately. "No way," he said. "I'm not made to be on a broom."

"Yeah, me neither," Goyle added. "I haven't been on one since first year."

"You two are wimps!" Draco exclaimed. "Being on a broom is amazing! You can get brooms that are made for... um, bigger people than myself, such as you two."

Goyle looked a bit more interested. "We're not good enough flyers though."

Draco shrugged. "So get a broom and practice," he said. "You know your parents would buy you one if you asked."

Crabbe shook his head again. "Count me out. There's no way you'll get me up there again," he said.

"I might," Goyle said thoughtfully. "It sounds like fun, being able to smash bludgers at other people."

"Get a broom," Draco urged. "I'll help you practice your flying."

"I'll write and ask my dad when we get to school," Goyle nodded.

"Get him to send you a brochure for Quality Quidditch Supplies in Diagon Alley," Draco advised. "Then I can show you which brooms I mean."

Goyle nodded, grinning at Draco.

Crabbe shook his head. "You're both mental," he said.

Pansy shook her head, tutting. "Anyway," she said pointedly. "I was just telling Draco about my trip to Rome."

"Ah... fancy a walk, Greg?" Crabbe asked, looking at the other boy desperately. He had no desire to hear about Pansy's trip to Rome, not if it was anything like previous holidays she'd had.

"Yeah, why not?" Goyle shrugged. "Let's go and see if we can find the food trolley."

Draco and Pansy watched as the other two boys got to their feet and lumbered out of the compartment again.

Pansy shook her head once more and looked back at Draco. "Those two amaze me sometimes," she said. "Anyway, where was I? Oh yes! The architecture is just gorgeous. The buildings are all so picturesque."

"What else was there to do?" Draco asked, tired of the talk about buildings. It was always one of Pansy's passions. He remembered how she would talk for ages in first year about how 'lovely' the Hogwarts castle was.

"Oh, well the shopping, of course," Pansy said, looking slightly put out that Draco had stopped her talking about the architecture of one of the world's most beautiful cities. "The shops there are miles ahead of anything in London. I could have spent a fortune while I was there!"

"You mean you didn't?" Draco asked with a grin.

Pansy made a face at the blonde. "No. We had lots of sightseeing tours to attend and such."

"Were they worth it?" Draco asked, genuinely interested.

Pansy nodded. "Yes, well, I thought so anyway."

Draco chuckled, before being distracted by someone walking passed the compartment, his eyes following the dark haired boy.

Pansy smirked. "So, still got the hots for the golden boy?"

Draco flushed again, his head snapping back to face her. "Shhh! Anyone could hear you!"

"But, don't you want him?" Pansy asked, her eyebrow raised again.

"No! I mean, well, I wouldn't say no," Draco stammered, trying to calm the heat in his cheeks. "But how would that ever happen? I would be Avada-ed if Father ever found out I even thought that about him."

"How would he find out?" Pansy asked. "You know Occlumency, don't you?"

Draco nodded, looking out of the window at the scenery rushing passed. "But Father is so much more experienced in Legilimency. He'd be able to break my shields down."

"Not if you believe in them enough," Pansy said.

"I suppose..." Draco said thoughtfully. "And that's all well and good, Pansy, but how do you even know he's into guys? I've never seen any signs."

"Have you seen any signs he's into girls?"

"Well... no, I suppose not, but he's always with Granger. And the Weaselette is always hanging around him," Draco replied, feeling somewhat smug.

"He's best friends with the Weasel. Of course Weaselette will hang around them," Pansy replied, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. "Think how it looks when we're always together. What do you think people think?"

"That we're going out with each other?" Draco asked, aghast. "But... but you're like my sister!"

Pansy rolled her eyes. "Yes, but they don't know that, do they? They see what we want them to see."

"But I don't want them to see that," Draco frowned.

"We can't change how we are now, Drake," Pansy said. "We're stuck in our ways. Besides, you know you'd miss my cuddles if we changed them," she added with a grin.

"You do have a point there," Draco conceded, smiling finally and choosing to ignore the fact that Pansy had called him 'Drake' again.

"I know," Pansy said smugly.

Draco sighed again. "But that still doesn't change the fact that I'll never get what I want," he said.

"Draco, don't be silly. You're a Slytherin," Pansy scolded. "You can get anything you want if you try hard enough."

"Why would he want me?" Draco asked. "He's hated me ever since first year, when Weasley told him not to shake my hand!"

"That's because he's a stereotypical Gryffindor," Pansy said. "He's loyal to his friends. And you were rude to one of them, which definitely didn't help your cause."

"But it's Weasley," Draco protested. "How could I be nice to him?"

"I don't know, but you'll have to learn if you ever want to get Potter," Pansy said, wisely.

"Couldn't I just... ignore him?" Draco asked, making a face.

"Well that might work too," Pansy conceded, nodding. "But you should probably still make an effort."

Draco made another face but nodded. "I suppose you're probably right," he said. "I don't want to be watching my back every time I'm with him... wait, wait, wait! Why am I talking like I'm with him? Pansy, you're corrupting me! I can't even speak to him without insulting him so I'm hardly likely to get him," he added, shaking his head as he realised what he was saying.

"You don't know that," Pansy started, shifting in her seat as she prepared to make another point.

"I do know that," Draco interrupted. "Now can we change the subject please? I don't want to talk about my lack of a love life for the whole train journey."

Pansy pouted but sat back again. "Alright. What do you want to do instead then?"

"We should make a start with our studying," Draco said, turning to open his trunk. "You know that Professor Snape likes us to be well prepared."

Pansy nodded and stood up to get her own books from her trunk. "Perhaps we can quiz each other too?"

"You've done quite enough of that already today," Draco said dryly. "But yes. That sounds like a good idea. We still have quite a way to go before we get to Hogsmeade."

Pansy nodded again as she sat back down, curling up on the seat. "And we've still to change into our uniform."

Draco nodded in response. "Of course."

The time passed quickly as Draco and Pansy sat in companionable silence, their heads firmly buried in their school books. Occasionally, Draco would glance up hoping to see Harry pass the compartment again, but seeing only the trees and fields rushing passed.

Each time this happened, Draco would frown and look back down at his book with a sigh. He felt like a girl, just waiting for a glimpse of the boy she fancies. Which, of course, he was other than the fact he wasn't actually a girl. He shook his head, determined not to think of Harry-bloody-Potter for the rest of the train ride.

Two hours later, Draco stood up and stretched before putting his books back into his trunk as the train slowed to a stop in Hogsmeade station. "I wish the train ride was shorter," he muttered.

"So do I," Pansy agreed, nodding as she too put her books away in her trunk. "But at least it gives us plenty of time to read over what we're going to be studying."

Draco nodded. "True. Come on, let's go and find Crabbe and Goyle. Then we'll be able to get a good carriage."

Pansy nodded, grinning at Draco. Crabbe and Goyle did have their uses sometimes.

Draco let Pansy take his arm as they left the train, dragging their trunks behind them. It was moments like these when Draco wished that Crabbe and Goyle were around more. He was sure he could get them to carry his trunk for him. As it was, he'd cast a charm on both his and Pansy's trunks to make them feel much lighter than they should.

"Oh, there they are, look," Pansy said, pointing to where Crabbe and Goyle were already standing by the front carriage and glaring at anyone that looked like they might try and take it.

Draco smirked. "Excellent," he said. "Let's go." He and Pansy headed towards the two boys, still dragging their trunks behind them.

As they reached the carriage, Crabbe and Goyle hoisted the trunks up and onto the back of the carriage with their own, letting Draco and Pansy climb into the carriage and take their seats. As Draco looked around, he caught sight of Harry, Ron and Hermione climbing into a carriage with Neville, Ginny and Luna. He noted that Harry looked rather confused and he wondered what was wrong. The Gryffindor was staring at the front of the carriage as though he could see something there.

"I wonder what's wrong with Potter," he said absently as he turned back to face the front.

Pansy looked over her shoulder and then shrugged. "Who knows?" she asked, sounding bored. "I'm sure we'll find out sooner or later."

Draco frowned but nodded. "I suppose so," he said as the carriage began to move forward. He decided to let it go for now. He could make it another part of his mission, he thought, settling back in the carriage and watching as they went passed the many trees of the forest on the way to Hogwarts. He had to admit, he was rather looking forward to this school year. He had none of the hang-ups that his father did, though he certainly didn't want to disappoint him too much. His own hopes were for something much closer to his heart than perfect grades.

Twenty minutes later, Draco saw the castle come into view as they came to the entrance to Hogwarts. He sat up straight and stretched out his back. He was looking forward to the first day feast, and even the Sorting. Though he would never admit it, Draco actually enjoyed seeing the tiny first years put the Sorting Hat on, and hearing what strange song it would sing this year. But more than anything, he was looking forward to getting back into his room and making it feel like home. He liked to bring as many personal items as he could, so that he could pretend that he had his own house. Of course, that was something else he'd never admit to anyone. He had a feeling he'd be a laughing stock if he did. He gave a yawn as the carriage came to a stop. He waited to let Crabbe and Goyle out first before stepping out himself and then helping Pansy out. As Crabbe and Goyle handled the four trunks, Draco and Pansy led the way to the castle.

****


"What do you think the Sorting Hat meant?"

"Who knows?" Draco shrugged. "What does it ever mean? I'm sure it only makes things up that sound clever."

"Perhaps," Pansy nodded, selecting some salad from the plate in front of her.

"We'll never find out," Draco concluded, putting some sausages onto his own plate. He did have his own ideas about what the Sorting Hat had meant, but he didn't feel like sharing them with Pansy. He wasn't sure she'd understand why he agreed with all the hints at house unity.

"No, probably not," Pansy said. "What do you think of the new Slytherins?"

"They seem eager enough," Draco shrugged, taking a bite of a sausage. "We'll see how they fit in. I'm sure none of them will live up to us."

Pansy smirked and shook her head. "Don't be mean."

"It's what I'm good at," Draco pointed out, before his attention was caught by a loud shout from the Gryffindor table. When he looked over, he couldn't see any reason for them to be shouting, but he did see Harry and Ron laughing about something, while Hermione shook her head. "Bloody noisy Gryffindors," he muttered.

"Agreed," Pansy said. "I can't see why anyone would want to be anywhere near one of them," she added slyly, looking at Draco through her lashes.

"Shut up," Draco murmured. "Some of them are more attractive than others."

Pansy smirked again. "You have it so bad."

"I do not," Draco protested, though it was without conviction. He'd long ago given up trying to hide anything like this from Pansy. The girl was far too nosy for her own good.

"Uh-huh," Pansy said, taking another bite of her food. "We need to do something about this, you know."

"I'm not talking about this here," Draco said lightly, cutting his sausages up.

"Fine. But after dinner, we're talking," Pansy said, not leaving any room for discussion.

Draco sighed and nodded. "Alright."

Pansy nodded in satisfaction, paying attention to her food again.

Draco began to eat again too, trying not to let his gaze wander to the Gryffindor table too often. He groaned inwardly, realising that Pansy was right and that he did have it bad.

Soon after, the main course was finished and dessert had popped up in front of them. Draco was pleased to see that his favourite ice cream was on the table and helped himself to a generous portion. He crinkled his nose at the treacle tart, but took a little piece to eat with his ice cream.

"You do know that's his favourite?" Pansy asked, not looking at Draco.

"No, I didn't. And how did you know?" Draco asked, looking at Pansy incredulously.

"I heard him telling Granger once," Pansy shrugged, eating a small piece of cheesecake.

"Oh. Well, I don't see why he likes it so much," Draco said, eating a piece of the treacle tart and crinkling his nose again. "It's not that nice."

"Maybe he thinks the same about ice cream," Pansy pointed out. "And you know what they say about opposites."

Draco frowned. "Shut up."

Pansy grinned and finished her cheesecake, waiting patiently for Draco to do the same.

After a few minutes, Draco put his spoon down and looked at Pansy. "I suppose we're leaving now, are we?"

"Yes. We have important matters to discuss!" Pansy said, getting to her feet and hauling Draco up too. "Your room?"

"I think it would be the better choice," Draco nodded, thinking of the other girls in their year and shuddering. He had no desire to be seen in Pansy's room by them.

"Come on then," Pansy said, taking Draco by the hand and leading him to the door. "You'll have to go in first, I suppose?"

"Yes, the wards are up," Draco said, quite happy to let Pansy lead the way for now. "You know how much I like my privacy."

****


"Where do you suppose they're off to?" Ron asked.

Harry looked up in time to see Pansy Parkinson leading Draco from the Great Hall by the hand. "I dunno," he said, shrugging. "And I don't think I want to know, really."

Ron shuddered slightly. "You don't think... do you?"

"I'm trying not to," Harry said, making a face. "It's up to them what they get up to. They suit each other, anyway."

Ron nodded. "Definitely," he said. "I can't think of a more suited couple. I bet they get their kicks talking about Death Eater stuff."

"Probably," Harry agreed. "They're both as bad as each other. And they seem a lot closer this year."

"Oh, honestly," Hermione said, shaking her head. "What does it matter? You two gossip worse than girls!"

"Well it matters, because whatever they're up to, it can't be good for the rest of us!" Harry replied. "They must be plotting something."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Whatever," she said. "You don't know that for sure, so you can't go accusing them."

"I haven't accused them," Harry said. "I just think they're up to no good."

****


"Alright, tell me how long you've liked him for," Pansy said, making herself comfortable on Draco's bed, her legs crossed.

"I don't really know," Draco said, frowning. "Maybe six or seven months?"

"You've liked him longer than that!" Pansy said, shaking her head. "You liked him at the beginning of last year."

"Oh... okay, well, maybe a year then?" Draco replied.

"That's more like it," Pansy nodded, satisfied. "Now. A year is far too long, without doing anything about it. So we need to put that right, for a start."

"But what can I do?" Draco asked. "We've been through this. There's no way anything will happen between us. Other than a fight," he added thoughtfully.

"And this is why we need to talk about it," Pansy said. "You have the complete wrong attitude! You're a Slytherin! You're supposed to have the drive to go after - and get - whatever you want!"

"I do have that!" Draco replied indignantly. "I just don't know if it stretches to Potter!"

"Then you need to make it stretch to him!" Pansy exclaimed. "You'll never get him if you just sit back and do nothing!"

"..." Draco was speechless as he looked at Pansy with wide eyes.

"Honestly, if you really want him, you can get him," the brunette continued. "You just need to believe in yourself."

"Alright, say that is true. How do I figure out if he's into guys?" Draco asked eventually. "There's no point in me chasing something that will never happen. I can't make him fancy me."

"No, you can't," Pansy agreed, nodding. "We're going to have to try and find out. Use whatever means we can. Just because he took Parvati Patil to the Yule Ball, it doesn't mean he likes her."

"That's true," Draco mused. "I took you, after all..."

"Watch it," Pansy said warningly, pointing a well manicured finger at Draco. "So far I am the only one who knows about all of this, but it doesn't have to stay that way..."

"Alright, alright. I was only joking," Draco said, holding his hands up before making himself a bit more comfortable. "So we find out if he likes guys. But I still don't see how I can do that. I can't exactly become best friends with him and start asking who he fancies."

"I didn't say that you should do that," Pansy said, rolling her eyes. "Leave it to me. I'll be able to find out."

"How?" Draco asked warily, well aware of how Pansy found things out sometimes.

"I'm a girl. Girls gossip," Pansy explained. "I have friends in Ravenclaw, and they have friends in Hufflepuff and Gryffindor. If I ask the right questions, I'll be able to find out exactly what floats Potter's boat. So to speak."

"And you can do that without implicating me?" Draco asked, narrowing his eyes slightly.

"Yes, I'm fairly sure I can," Pansy said. "Don't worry. I'll do my best. In the meantime, you need to figure out a way of befriending Potter without him thinking it's a trick."

"Yes. And that's going to be as easier said than done, I'm sure," Draco sighed. "The boy is far too suspicious. Remember third year?"

"Well, to be fair, you were dressed as Dementors," Pansy said dryly. "And after the last time he'd encountered Dementors during a Quidditch match, what did you expect him to do?"

"Well, he didn't have to be so forceful about it," Draco huffed, crossing his arms. "It hurt when Nott fell on me."

Pansy snorted softly. "It taught you a lesson though, didn't it?"

"Shut up. This is not helping me," Draco said.

"Alright, I'm sorry," Pansy said. She pulled out her wand and cast a Tempus charm. "It's getting late. We should get to bed since classes start tomorrow. Think about what I've said. You need to figure something out."

Draco sighed and nodded. "I know, and I will," he said, sliding off the bed to undo the wards and let Pansy out.

"Good," Pansy said, standing up and straightening her skirt. "I'll see you in the morning, Drake," she added, stepping forward to hug the blonde.

"Goodnight, Pansy," Draco replied, returning the hug and stepping back to let the brunette out of the room before closing the door again.

Sighing, Draco rubbed a hand over his face and undressed for the night, putting on pyjamas before climbing into bed. His mind was full of thoughts of Harry Potter as he laid down, and he was sure that his dreams would be anything but peaceful tonight.

****

The next morning, Draco woke to find his pyjama bottoms feeling uncomfortably tight. He groaned as he remembered what he'd been dreaming about to have such an effect. Rolling over, he fumbled for his wand on the bedside table, resetting the wards to his room. He definitely didn't want anyone to walk in on this.

Closing his eyes, he let his thoughts drift back to the images he'd seen during the night, and slipped his hand into his pyjama bottoms. Gasping softly as his fingers closed around his throbbing erection, he began to stroke himself. Starting slowly at first, he soon picked up speed as his thoughts got more and more graphic. Soon enough, he found himself with a sticky mess in his pyjama bottoms.

Grimacing at the stickiness, he picked up his wand again and cast a quick cleaning spell, though he was fully planning on having a shower. He hoped he wasn't going to wake up every morning like that, even though he had to admit he'd enjoyed the dreams.

Yawning widely, he slipped out of bed and gathered his clothes for the day before undoing the wards on his door once more and heading for the bathroom. Looking round, he realised it must be earlier than he'd thought, since the bathroom was deserted when he got there. Shrugging, he draped his towel over the side of the shower and stripped out of his pyjamas before stepping into the cubicle and starting the water. As he let the hot spray wash over him, Draco sighed. He still had no idea how he could overcome the problem of his crush. He still couldn't get passed the thought that he and Harry would never get on.

A noise at the other end of the bathroom startled him, and Draco realised that he'd better get washed if he wanted to make breakfast. Putting the thoughts of his love life aside, he quickly soaped himself and his hair before rinsing the suds out. Once he was finished, he switched the water off and grabbed his towel to get himself dried and dressed for the day.

Fifteen minutes later, after depositing his things back in his room, Draco was sitting in his usual chair in the common room and waiting for Pansy to join him so that they could walk to breakfast together. He was determined not to let the conversation go the way it had the previous night. He didn't need distracting on the first day back at school.

"Good morning, Drake!"

Draco scowled as he heard Pansy's voice break through his thoughts. "Please will you stop calling me that?"

"Sorry, slip of the tongue," Pansy replied, smiling innocently. "How did you sleep?"

"Like a baby," Draco admitted, standing up. "I never have trouble falling asleep here."

"Neither do I, actually," Pansy said, slipping her arm through Draco's. "The bed here is almost as comfortable as my own at home."

Draco nodded in agreement. "Ready for the first day of classes?"

"Of course. You?"

"Of course. Let's just hope the teachers stick to their plans this year," Draco replied. "And don't start teaching whatever they like."

Pansy chuckled. "I don't think they will. Did you give any more thought to what I said last night?"

"A bit," Draco said, holding back the sigh that wanted to escape. "But I still haven't come up with anything."

"No, neither have I," Pansy said with disappointment. "There must be a way though."

"Perhaps, but can we not talk about this now?" Draco asked. "There are too many people around."

"I suppose," Pansy said, rolling her eyes. "But talking about it later won't help anything, you know."

"Talking about it later gives me more time to think," Draco pointed out. "Which has to be good."

Pansy nodded as they approached the Slytherin table. "Alright."

Draco breathed a sigh of relief as he took his seat at the table. He always chose a seat that faced the Gryffindor table, and had done since first year, only now he had more reasons for doing so.

Pansy smirked as she took her seat, seeing Harry enter the room out of the corner of her eye. She'd guessed a long time ago why Draco always sat in this particular spot.

Draco elbowed her in the side, not wanting to get Harry's attention for once. He watched furtively as the three Gryffindors took their seats at their table. He really wanted to just tidy Harry's hair up. He couldn't understand why the other boy liked it so messy. Catching himself, he shook his head as though trying to clear cobwebs from his mind. He couldn't believe his own thoughts, but it only confirmed to him that Pansy had been right and he needed to do something.

Pansy looked at Draco innocently.

Draco shook his head slightly. He just wanted to get breakfast out of the way and get to their first class. He needed some normalcy to take his mind off a certain dark haired, green-eyed Gryffindor. Luckily for him, the usual breakfast goodies began to appear on the table at that second and he busied himself with piling his plate up with bacon, eggs and toast.

Pansy watched with a raised eyebrow, before putting some food onto her own plate.

Draco began eating, chewing his bacon thoughtfully. His eyes kept straying to Harry's back, though he'd soon give up watching when he realised that he couldn't see much from that angle. The back of the Gryffindor's head was simply not that interesting.

Soon enough, the bell rang to signal the end of breakfast and Draco stood up with Pansy. Letting her take his arm again, they headed for their first class. It was Herbology, which they usually had with the Ravenclaws and Draco found himself thankful for this. He didn't need anymore distractions. If he didn't at least keep his grades up, his father would not be pleased when he got home at the end of the year.

Taking his seat in the greenhouse, Draco was surprised when Harry and the rest of the fifth-year Gryffindors walked in. He turned to Pansy with a quizzical look on his face. "Where are the Ravenclaws?" he asked in a whisper.

Pansy shrugged, looking equally as surprised. "I don't know... they've changed the system, by the looks of things."

Draco groaned and rubbed a hand over his face. "You mean I'm going to have to put up with Potter in this class too?" he asked loudly.

Harry bristled and turned to glare at Draco. "What do you mean, Malfoy?"

Draco met Harry's glare, a scowl on his face. "I mean that you mess up enough of my classes already, now I have to add Herbology to the list?"

"It's hardly my fault that you mess up in class!" Harry protested.

"I didn't say that I mess up. I said that you mess up the classes themselves," Draco replied dryly. "You're a distraction."

Harry opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by the entrance of Professor Sprout.

"Now, now, settle down," she said, clapping her hands loudly and forcing Harry to turn round again. "You are beginning your O.W.L. year and this is the most important year in your school life..."

Draco sat back in his seat, listening to Professor Sprout's speech when Pansy nudged him.

"What was all that about?" she hissed.

"I don't know," Draco whispered back. "I just... felt like saying something."

Pansy rolled her eyes. "Stop making him your enemy!"

"I don't mean to," Draco sighed. "I couldn't help it. I just had... an urge to insult him."

"To insult him, or get his attention?" Pansy asked knowingly.

Draco felt his cheeks heat up and he snapped his mouth shut. There was no denying that Pansy was more clever than she made out to be.

Pansy smirked and began listening to Professor Sprout again.

Draco grumbled to himself. He hated when Pansy was right.

A couple of hours later and the class was over. There had been no other altercations with Harry, which both pleased and disappointed Draco. He'd been hoping for another chance to interact with the Gryffindor, without becoming friendly with him, but the nature of the class had kept them well apart.

"What's next, Potions?" Pansy asked, consulting their class schedule.

Draco nodded. "At least Snape won't let Potter be a distraction," he said, though his true thoughts weren't going along those lines.

"Uh-huh," Pansy said. "Like that's what you really want. Why don't you be his partner?"

"What? Are you mad?" Draco asked, looking at Pansy as though she'd grown another head. "Do you think Weasley and Granger would let me be his partner?"

"Don't give them a choice," Pansy said, shrugging. "Set your things up at the same desk as he does and refuse to move."

"That won't make him be my partner though, will it?" Draco said. "He'll just move his own things. Or Granger and Weasley will make them all move. There's no way I could end up being his partner."

"Yes, there is!" Pansy exclaimed, her voice rising slightly.

"Keep your voice down!" Draco hissed, gripping Pansy's arm tightly. "They're behind us!"

"Alright, sorry," Pansy muttered, wrestling her arm out of the blonde's grip. "Listen, Crabbe and Goyle will be partners like usual, yes? Which would normally let me partner you. But what if I partner Tracey instead?"

"How does that help me?" Draco asked.

"Well, Nott and Zabini can partner each other and Millicent and Daphne will partner each other," Pansy said patiently. "So you're left spare."

Draco frowned. "But there's an equal number of Gryffindors," he said finally. "I still won't be able to get Potter on his own."

"No, there aren't," Pansy said slowly. "There are only three girls. Granger, Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown. You know that Patil and Brown always partner together. So that leaves Granger, Weasley and Longbottom... oh."

"Exactly. I'd just be left on my own," Draco said, trying not to sound too triumphant.

"How averse are you to hexing one of them?" Pansy asked thoughtfully.

"You were the one who told me not to pick fights!" Draco exclaimed.

"Alright, well how about I hex one of them?" Pansy said quickly. "Just enough to get them sent up to the hospital wing. That'll leave an odd number."

"Which one of them would you hex?" Draco asked, warming to the idea.

"Do you have a preference?" Pansy asked, sounding amused.

"Not really, no," Draco shrugged. "As long as it's not Potter, obviously."

Pansy snorted softly. "Like I'd do that to you. Alright, what about Longbottom? I'll cast a trip jinx or something, so he's caught off guard and with a bit of luck he'll fall and smash his nose or something? Nothing that will cause permanent damage."

Draco nodded. "That sounds good," he said. "Do it inside the dungeon, so Snape will see him. Instead of casting a trip jinx, couldn't you make it so that a stool jumps out in front of him and trips him over? Then it just looks like he's been his usual clumsy self and won't make the rest of them angry."

"Oh, good thinking!" Pansy exclaimed, beaming at Draco. "Now you're getting the hang of it!"

"Mmhmm," Draco nodded. "I just don't want them to have a reason to take their anger out on us. Make sure you wait until Weasley and Granger have sat down. You know they always sit together."

Pansy nodded. "Don't worry, I won't mess it up," she said.

Draco nodded once more as they reached the dungeon that was their Potions class. Professor Snape was standing just inside the doorway as they filed passed him to take their seats.

Pansy gave Draco a slight nod as he sat at one table, while she made her way to another.

Draco watched as the other students entered the classroom and took their seats, Weasley and Granger sitting together as predicted. He continued to watch as Harry put his own things on another table while Neville made his way towards it.

The next second, Neville had crashed to the floor, his legs tangled with the stool that now lay on it's side.

"Neville!" Hermione gasped, rushing to help the other boy. "What happened?"

Draco caught Pansy's eye and gave her an approving nod.

"I... I tripped," Neville stammered, holding one hand to his nose which was streaming steadily with blood.

"Mr. Longbottom," Snape drawled in a scathing tone. "Please take yourself off my floor and up to the hospital wing for what will no doubt be the first of many trips there this year. Miss Granger, back to your seat before I take points from Gryffindor for causing disruption to the first lesson of this very important year."

Neville did as he was told, getting to his feet clumsily and making his way back out of the classroom, one hand pressed to his nose. Hermione looked like she wanted to go with him, but hurriedly took her seat next to Ron.

Harry looked at the empty space beside him in despair, then glanced across at Draco.

Draco looked coolly back at the Gryffindor, arching his eyebrow slightly until Harry looked away again.

Snape turned to look at the class once more. "Potter. Move your things and sit beside Mr. Malfoy," he said. "You are required to work in pairs for this lesson and it seems that the two of you are the only ones without partners."

Harry's eyes widened and he opened his mouth to protest before thinking better of it. He simply picked his belongings up and moved to sit beside Draco, though refusing to look at him.

Draco tensed as soon as Harry was sat beside him. He could feel the body heat coming from the Gryffindor and was suddenly nervous. Straightening his back, he hoped that he wasn't turning as red as he felt. Turning his head, he scowled at Harry.

Harry glared back, folding his arms across his chest.

Professor Snape flicked his wand, charming the chalk to write instructions on the board as he explained what they would be doing.

"You must work together," he said. "If there are any... disagreements... you will both be in detention," he added, looking at Draco and Harry with narrowed eyes.

Draco kept the look on his face steady, not wanting to make Snape think he was being a baby if he protested.

Harry grumbled to himself under his breath and threw Ron and Hermione a desperate look.

"You go and get the ingredients," Draco said, standing up to prepare the cauldron.

"Me? Why can't you go and get them?" Harry protested immediately, standing up and facing Draco.

"Because I am setting the cauldron up properly," Draco replied, as though the answer was obvious. "Now go and get the ingredients."

Harry spun on his heel and marched towards the store cupboard, muttering murderously under his breath the whole way.

Draco breathed a sigh of relief and glanced at Pansy, who gave him a thumbs up and a wide grin. He shook his head and turned back to the cauldron. He had to get himself under control, or everyone would know there was something going on. He busied himself with the cauldron, making sure the flame underneath it was just right.

Harry came back with the ingredients and dumped them on the table.

Draco looked up and then peered at the ingredients, making sure that Harry had got them all.

"Don't worry, they're all right," Harry muttered, perching on his stool again.

"I didn't say a word," Draco replied, immediately defensive. "I was simply looking for what we need first."

"Yeah, right," Harry said, raising an eyebrow disbelievingly.

Draco shrugged. "Believe what you want," he said. "Start chopping those roots up."

"Would it kill you to say 'please'?" Harry asked.

"What?"

"Would it kill you to say 'please'?" Harry repeated slowly.

Draco frowned. "That depends who I say 'please' to," he said. "Now start chopping those roots up. Please."

Harry smirked slightly, but didn't say anything else. He picked up his knife and began carefully chopping the roots up into equally sized pieces.

Draco watched Harry out of the corner of his eye, whilst preparing the next ingredient. He was impressed with how meticulous the Gryffindor was being. He'd always had the impression that Harry didn't really care for Potions since he never seemed to really try.

Harry glanced up and caught Draco watching him. "What?" he asked, feeling defensive.

"Nothing," Draco replied. "I was just wondering how much longer it was going to take you to chop those roots? Class will be over in an hour."

Harry scowled and shoved the roots towards Draco. "They're done," he growled.

Draco smirked. "It's about time," he said, scooping the roots up and adding them to the potion. He glanced at the instructions again. "Okay, we need those crushing," he said, pointing to some small berries.

Harry looked down at them too. "I suppose you want me to do that?" he asked.

"Well, I'm busy with this," Draco said, indicating what he was doing. "If you do it, the potion will be done faster."

"Fine," Harry said with a sigh, picking up the berries and his knife again, using the flat of the blade to crush the berries carefully.

"Make sure you save the juice," Draco added, carefully stirring the potion. "We need to add that later."

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Harry said, rolling his eyes.

"Good," Draco replied absently, consulting the instructions one more time. He picked up the rat's tail that was needed and made a face, dropping it into the cauldron carefully so as not to splash either him or Harry.

"Those things are disgusting," Harry muttered, having seen Draco pick up the rat's tail.

"You're telling me," Draco said, before catching himself. While he wanted to win Harry over, he wasn't ready for the whole class to find out. He quickly put his scowl back into place, ignoring Harry's curious glance. "Are you done yet?"

"Almost," Harry replied, shaking his head slightly as he finished crushing the berries.

"Good," Draco answered, unable to think of anything else to say. He was glad that Harry hadn't thrown a hissy fit yet. He was well aware that everyone else, including Snape, in the room kept glancing over at them to see if they were trying to poison each other or something equally as silly. He would never risk his grades to poison anyone, let alone Harry Potter.

****


"What was it like?" Ron asked as they walked through the school towards the Great Hall.

"What was what like?" Harry asked, looking confused.

"Being Malfoy's partner for Potions, of course!" Ron replied disbelievingly. "Did he try and pull anything?"

"Of course he didn't," Harry replied, shaking his head. "It... wasn't as bad as I was expecting. We just got on and made the potion. And ended up with full marks for it. Snape couldn't even find an excuse to vanish it since Malfoy is brilliant at Potions."

Ron blinked owlishly at Harry. "Excuse me? Did you just say that Malfoy is brilliant at something?"

Harry laughed and then nodded. "Sorry. It's true though," he said. "It's like he's a natural at it."

Ron shook his head. "Who are you and what have you done with Harry Potter?"

"Oh, Ron, don't be silly," Hermione sighed. "Everyone knows that Malfoy is good at Potions. He's always right at the top of the class with his marks."

"I know, but Harry has never called him brilliant before," Ron said. "It's just wrong!"

Harry shook his head again. "It's not the end of the world, Ron," he said. "And it's not like I'm going to say it all the time."

"Good! It's weird!" Ron exclaimed as they entered the Great Hall for lunch.

Hermione rolled her eyes, following the two boys.

****


"Well?" Pansy demanded as soon as they'd sat down.

"I'm not talking about it here, Pansy," Draco said lightly, anticipating what the brunette was talking about. "It can wait until after classes this afternoon."

Pansy huffed and propped her chin on her hand. "I'm holding you to that," she said. "We're talking again tonight."

"Okay," Draco said resignedly, nodding. "But nothing's really changed from yesterday."

"Ah, but it has," Pansy said. "You worked alongside him. You didn't hex each other. You cooperated."

"We'll talk later," Draco repeated, looking at Pansy pointedly as more and more people began to sit down around them.

Pansy nodded, not saying anything else.

Draco looked up in time to see Harry throw his head back with laughter at something Ron had said. He scowled, but found himself hoping that he and Harry would be able to laugh like that some day. Groaning softly, he turned his head away to look for Crabbe and Goyle. He hadn't seen them since they ran out of Potions before he'd even stood up.

Pansy reached over and patted his hand, smiling slightly.

Draco returned the smile gratefully and relaxed a little bit. He opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted by Crabbe and Goyle plonking themselves down either side of him. He looked at each of them in turn. "Where have you two been?"

"You'll find out," Goyle said, smirking.

"What have you two done?" Pansy asked warily.

"Us? We haven't done anything," Crabbe said, trying to sound innocent.

"Uh-huh, like we believe that," Draco said dryly. "What have you done?"

"Well, let's just say that the Gryffindors are in for a surprise when they get to Transfiguration," Goyle said, grinning.

"Whatever you've done had better not come back and bite Slytherin on the arse," Draco warned.

Crabbe shook his head. "They'll never know it was us!"

"Mmm, well, we'll see I suppose," Draco said, shaking his head. He caught Pansy's eye, feeling worried. He didn't want all of the work he'd just done in Potions to be undone by whatever Crabbe and Goyle had done. He didn't have long to ponder the thought though, as the food for lunch appeared on the table and they all began to eat.

True to their word, Crabbe and Goyle had indeed arranged a surprise for the Gryffindors in their class. As soon as they'd sat down, their stools had instantly transfigured into Devil's Snare, causing uproar in the classroom. Of course, as none of the Slytherins' stools had changed, the Gryffindors had instantly known who to blame. As had Professor McGonagall, and she had taken twenty five points from Slytherin.

Draco was furious as he stormed into his room, ignoring Pansy's shouts from behind him, though he didn't put up the wards. It wasn't bad enough that they'd had points taken, it was the fact that Harry, Ron and Hermione had instantly blamed him and it had wound up with him and Harry having a screaming match whilst being inches away from each other. If the circumstances had been different, Draco would have savoured the moment.

Breathing hard, he threw himself backwards onto his bed and stared up at his ceiling, angry thoughts running through his head. Slowly, as his anger subsided, he found himself thinking of Harry and the anger on his face as he'd yelled at him. He could have sworn he'd seen a hint of something else in the Gryffindor's eyes, but he wasn't sure if he was just trying to convince himself that there could be something there.

He felt a weight settle on the side of his bed and he lifted his head, spotting Pansy sitting by his side. He'd been so preoccupied trying to make sense of what had happened that he hadn't heard his door open and close again.

"Feel like talking?" Pansy asked lightly.

"No," Draco replied sullenly, laying his head down again. Then he sighed and sat up properly, pulling his knees up to his chest. "I can't believe they did that. What were they thinking? Professor Snape is going to go mad."

"I know," Pansy said soothingly. "But is that really what's bothering you? If you tell Snape you had nothing to do with it, you know he'll believe you."

Draco was silent for a moment, then shook his head. "What if they've ruined any chance I had?" he asked. "Potter looked like he could murder me."

"He wouldn't," Pansy said. "He's not that way inclined. But you need to step up your game now, I think. See if you can't persuade him to be partners again next time we have Potions. You've done it once, with no major incidents so there's no reason you can't do it again."

"But Longbottom will be back in class next time," Draco said. "He won't need to partner me."

"Who's going to get him a better grade, you or Longbottom?" Pansy asked, raising one eyebrow as she looked at Draco. "Play it that way."

Draco chewed his lip slightly and nodded. "I suppose you have a point," he said slowly. "But we don't have Potions again for a couple of days. I'll worry about it then."

Pansy nodded, patting Draco's leg gently.

"I wish I could have yelled at them," Draco sighed. "For being so stupid. But everyone would think I'd gone mad, sticking up for Gryffindors."

Pansy laughed. "Maybe you should have," she said. "It would have given Potter something to think about."

"Yeah, well, maybe another time," Draco said with a smile. "When we've spent a bit more time together."

"You're planning on spending more time with him?" Pansy asked.

"Well, in Potions, I mean," Draco amended. "If the plan goes, erm, to plan and I get him to agree to be my partner again."

"Ahh, I see," Pansy nodded. "After you've changed his mind a bit more?"

Draco nodded. "That's the idea, anyway."

"I'll help the best I can," Pansy said, smiling.

****


A few weeks later, Draco was getting frustrated at his lack of progress. He'd managed to get Harry to partner him in Potions once more since the first time, but after that, Ron and Hermione had insisted that Harry partner Neville again because the poor boy had nearly been poisoned by his Slytherin partner. Draco had made sure to reward Blaise with a vicious bat-bogey hex for that (secretly, of course).

Throwing himself onto his bed dramatically, Draco sighed loudly.

"Drake, please stop acting like that," Pansy said with an exasperated sigh of her own.

"Well, nothing's happening!" Draco whined, not lifting his head. "I'm still no further forward!"

"That's what you think," Pansy said. "He looks at you, you know. During class when he thinks you're not looking... which you aren't, apparently."

"He... what?" Draco asked in confusion, lifting his head to peer at her.

"He looks over at you," Pansy repeated. "Not for long, but he definitely does."

"Did you ever find out if he was into guys?" Draco asked, still trying to make sense of what exactly the brunette was saying.

Pansy shook her head, looking apologetic. "No. No one seems to know," she said. "He's never expressed an interest in either boys or girls, from what I can find out. However, I'm now quite sure that the girls I quizzed about him are convinced that I have a crush on him!"

"You'd better not," Draco said immediately.

Pansy laughed. "As if I would," she said. "He is definitely not my type!"

"Good," Draco replied, appeased. "So no one knows what he's attracted to? But that doesn't help!"

"I know," Pansy sighed. "Perhaps we need to put him in a situation where he's forced to show what he's attracted to?"

"Like what?" Draco asked thoughtfully, rubbing his chin.

"I don't know, I haven't thought of anything in particular yet," Pansy said, frowning in thought.

"Maybe I could..." Draco trailed off, not sure if he wanted to voice his thoughts.

"What?" Pansy asked curiously.

"How would it look if I, erm, arranged it so that I bump into him in the Quidditch locker rooms... after I've had a shower?" Draco asked, feeling his cheeks turning pink as he spoke.

Pansy broke into a grin. "Naked?"

"No! At least, not totally naked," Draco answered, trying to push the embarrassed feeling away. "Just... conveniently shirtless."

Pansy giggled. "That might work nicely," she said. "If he's alone anyway."

"He usually is when he goes into the locker rooms," Draco replied, the pink in his cheeks beginning to fade now. "I've seen him before. He gets there before anyone else so that he can plan the practice while it's quiet."

Pansy raised an eyebrow. "How do you know that?"

"Well... like I said, I've seen him before," Draco said, shrugging. "It's not hard to tell what he's doing. Or he could just be doing it to get a moment's peace."

"I wouldn't blame him if he was," Pansy said, shaking her head slightly. "So you think that plan will work?"

"I don't know, but it's got to be worth a try, right?" Draco asked with a sigh. "I just want a chance to maybe speak to him without any of his little friends there to bad mouth me."

"Or your 'little friends' there to bad mouth him?" Pansy asked dryly.

"Yes. It would make things much easier," Draco said, running a hand through his hair before quickly smoothing it back down.

"Well then, yes, I think it would be worth a try," Pansy said. "It can't do any harm."

"Okay. Okay," Draco said, blinking. He hadn't really expected Pansy to agree with him. "I'll try it after our next practice... Gryffindor usually have the pitch after us."

"Would you like me to meet you after practice then?" Pansy asked. "You can tell me how it went?"

Draco nodded. "Yes, please. I'll meet you by the stands afterwards, before the Gryffindor practice starts."

Pansy nodded too. "We can talk on the way back to the common room."

"Yes. Okay, it's getting late," Draco said, checking the time with a Tempus charm. "You should go."

"I suppose you're right," Pansy said, sliding off the bed. "I'll meet you in the common room in the morning like usual?"

Draco nodded. "Yes. Goodnight, Pansy."

"Goodnight, Drake," Pansy replied with a smile, hugging the blonde briefly before letting herself out of the room.

****


"Yeah, I'll see you later," Harry said, waving goodbye to Ron and Hermione as he made his way out of the castle. He headed down the path that led to the Quidditch pitch and locker rooms, already mulling over training exercises in his mind. He enjoyed running the training sessions, and was glad that Angelina let him do so once a week, but it was definitely harder than it looked at first.

As the locker rooms came into view, Harry looked at his watch and was pleased to note that the Slytherin practice had ended half an hour ago. That meant that the locker room should be empty and he wouldn't be interrupted until the Gryffindor team came in for practice.

Smiling to himself, he pushed the door open and walked over to his usual seat. The air was warm and humid, and he could tell that the Slytherin team hadn't long left after their showers. That didn't bother him though, since it was still rather cold outside so he was grateful for the extra warmth he was going to have until it was time for his own practice.

Sitting himself down, he pulled out a piece of parchment and a quill that he planned to draw out a couple of drills on. As he started scribbling on the parchment, a noise caught his attention and he looked up, ready to give whoever it was an earful for disturbing him. The sight that met his eyes, however, made his words die in his throat. Draco Malfoy, shirtless with his hair still wet, stood in front of him.

"Oh, sorry," Draco said, shaking his hair out of his eyes and sending water everywhere. "I didn't realise anyone was going to be using the changing room so soon."

Harry found himself unable to take his eyes off a droplet of water that was slowly making its way down Draco's chest. "Uh..."

"Potter?" Draco asked, raising an eyebrow as he looked at the Gryffindor. "Are you alright?"

"Sorry, sorry," Harry said quickly, shaking his head vigorously. "It's okay. I didn't know you were still in here or I wouldn't have come in. I'll go..."

"No, it's okay," Draco said, shaking his head. "I'm nearly done. Just need to finish getting dressed, but I left my shirt out here," he added, gesturing to where his shirt was hanging on a peg. "Let me just put it back on and then the room is all yours."

"Thanks," Harry said faintly, watching as the blonde turned his back and taking note of every muscle that moved when Draco picked up his shirt. Realising what he was doing, Harry looked away from Draco quickly, glancing down at his forgotten parchment briefly before switching his gaze to the wall.

"There you go, I'm done," Draco said, opening the door to the locker room and heading back to the castle.

Harry watched the blonde go, blinking as the door swung shut once again. He wasn't entirely sure what had just happened.

****


"Well?" Pansy asked eagerly, as Draco walked towards her.

Draco grinned as he got closer. "It was... well, I think it was good..."

"Spill!" Pansy demanded, slipping her arm through Draco's and half dragging him back to the castle.

"Not until we're back in my room, where we're sure to not be overheard," Draco said, still grinning as he remembered the look on Harry's face.

"Alright, alright," Pansy grumbled, tugging at Draco's arm. "Hurry up then!"

"I'm walking as fast as I can," Draco replied. "Be patient!"

Pansy huffed but didn't say anything else as they entered the castle and made their way to the Slytherin quarters, for which Draco was grateful. He wasn't sure he'd be able to stop himself from squealing like a girl if she'd asked anything else.

Soon enough, they were safely inside Draco's room with the wards set on the door. Draco took his time taking off his outdoor robe and putting it into his wardrobe, ignoring Pansy's many throat-clearings. Finally he turned and sat on his bed, getting comfortable.

"Finally!" Pansy cried, throwing her hands in the air. "What happened?"

"Well, everything went to plan," Draco said. "Our practice finished and everyone jumped in the showers, but I hung on until they'd all finished so that I'd be the last one. I thought for a minute that Crabbe and Goyle were going to wait for me, but when I reminded them that they hadn't done their Potions essays, they took off."

"Then what happened?" Pansy asked eagerly.

"Well, I waited another few minutes and went in the shower myself," Draco said. "I heard Potter come in as I turned the shower off, which was perfect timing really. I dried myself off and put my trousers and underwear back on, but I'd left my shirt out in the main locker room so that I'd have to go out shirtless."

"Brilliant," Pansy giggled.

"Mmhmm," Draco nodded, unable to stop himself from smiling. "So I went out and there he was, sitting with a piece of parchment and planning out Quidditch drills."

"What did he say?" Pansy asked, leaning forward slightly.

"Not a lot," Draco said, chuckling as he remembered the look on Harry's face again. "He seemed slightly mesmerised by my shirtlessness."

"Well, who wouldn't be?" Pansy asked, smirking.

"Shut up, I'm serious," Draco said. "He was staring at me."

Pansy grinned. "That's a good sign!"

"You think so? I mean, he didn't have a look of disgust on his face or anything," Draco said. "He was just... watching me."

"I definitely think so," Pansy said, smiling widely at Draco. "If he couldn't take his eyes off you, it must mean something!"

"I hope so," Draco said. "I feel like I'm getting somewhere now. But what now?"

"Get him to be your Potions partner again tomorrow," Pansy replied immediately. "I'll partner Longbottom."

Draco stared at Pansy, unable to believe what he'd just heard. "What?"

"I'll partner Longbottom. That way he doesn't have to worry about Zabini poisoning him or anything," Pansy repeated. "Although Zabini won't even be there. He's had to go home this afternoon, some kind of emergency with his mother, or something."

"Really?" Draco asked, frowning. He hadn't heard anything about that.

"Yes. He'll be back tomorrow evening though," Pansy said. "It's just that his mother needs him for something or other tomorrow, and of course Professor Snape said he could go."

"Oh. Well I suppose that works out well for me, doesn't it?" Draco mused, wondering if he should just ask Harry outright to be his partner.

"Yes, so you'll have to make the most of it," Pansy said. "We'll get to the classroom before Potter, but after Longbottom so I'll just sit next to him, leaving the only free space next to you."

Draco nodded. "Alright," he said. "That should work, as long as Potter is there after Longbottom, but what if he's not?"

"We'll figure something out," Pansy said. "Don't worry. I think he might be a bit more keen to be your partner now."

Draco couldn't help but grin at the thought. "I'll find out, I suppose," he said.

****


"You were a bit distracted tonight, mate. Is something wrong?" Ron asked as he and Harry made their way back to the common room after Quidditch practice.

"Oh, erm, no I'm fine, don't worry," Harry said, shaking his head. He didn't think Ron would be very understanding about his dilemma. In reality, he hadn't been able to stop thinking about Draco since he'd seen him before practice.

"You sure?"

"Yeah, honestly. I think I'm just tired," Harry said, smiling at Ron to try and put his mind to rest. "I might have an early night and see if that sorts it out."

"Alright, if you're sure, mate," Ron said, shrugging. "I've still got my History of Magic essay to write so I hope Hermione is still up."

Harry chuckled nervously. "I'm sure she will. She'll be studying or something like normal."

"I hope so," Ron said. "Coz I haven't got a bloody clue about this essay!"

Harry laughed as they reached the entrance to the common room. "Gillyweed," he said to the Fat Lady, before climbing through the portrait hole. "I'll leave you to it then," he said to Ron, giving Hermione a wave as he headed up to the dormitory. He kind of wished that Hermione was around to talk to, but he didn't really want Ron listening in too.

Sighing, he drew the curtains around his bed and settled himself against his pillows. He'd never felt quite as confused as he did right now. He'd never thought about the possibility of being attracted to boys before. He'd always thought that when he grew up, he'd get married and have kids because that's just what people do. But seeing Draco like he had done that afternoon, something had been different. Obviously, being on the Quidditch team, he'd seen other guys in various states of undress (though of course he'd never really looked), but none of them had ever captured his attention like Draco Malfoy had done. Frowning, he tried to remember if a girl had ever caught his eye like that, but he couldn't think of a single one. Not even Cho Chang last year had made him feel that way. Giving another sigh, he laid down properly before getting up again and undressing. Getting back into bed, he pulled his duvet up and closed his eyes, hoping that sleep would make things seem clearer tomorrow. And if not, he'd maybe have a chat with Hermione.

****


The next day dawned and Draco hopped out of bed feeling rather optimistic about what laid ahead. He whistled to himself cheerily as he headed for the bathroom to shower. He didn't care, he knew that there would be no-one else around at this time.

He hung his towel on the peg and put his uniform on the chair at the side before going into the shower stall to turn the water on. Letting the water warm up, he stepped back out to strip out of his pyjamas, placing them carefully on the chair underneath his clothes so that they wouldn't get wet.

He picked up his shower gel, shampoo and conditioner and stepped back into the stall, still whistling. As he let the water wash over him, he stopped whistling and began humming, finding it easier. As he soaped himself up with the shower gel, he wondered what they would be doing in Potions today and whether he would manage to get Harry to be his partner. Deciding not to dwell on it, he rinsed himself off and began to shampoo his hair. Taking a deep breath, he smiled as he smelt the fresh strawberry scent of his shampoo. It might seem girly, but he liked it. Plus, it kept his hair nice and soft.

Ten minutes later, he was finally done and turned the water off. He stepped out of the stall and grabbed his towel, quickly towelling himself dry and dressing so that he didn't get cold. He rubbed his hair vigorously, making sure to get all the excess water out. Taking his comb, he sorted it out and put his parting back into place. He'd have to dry it properly back in his room.

Packing his things up once more, he headed back to his room, planning on getting all his things ready before he went for breakfast. He didn't want to be late for Potions after all.

Grabbing his bag, he left his room and went to wait for Pansy in the common room. He was pleased to find that his favourite armchair was empty and gladly took a seat, letting the fire in the fireplace warm his legs.

"Good morning, Drake!"

Pansy's voice rang out clearly in the quiet common room and Draco found himself smiling. "Good morning, Pansy," he replied brightly.

Pansy paused and blinked at Draco. "Are you alright?"

"Of course I'm alright, why wouldn't I be?" Draco asked, frowning in confusion.

"Well... you're cheerful, for a start," Pansy replied. "You're normally not a morning person."

"Oh. Well, I'm not a morning person, that's why," Draco said, shrugging. "But I have a good feeling about today."

"Ahh," Pansy said, a knowing smirk on her face. "Does this have anything to do with yesterday's events?"

"It might do," Draco replied, letting the brunette take his arm.

Pansy grinned. "Today is the day we'll find out if you have a chance," she said. "Which, for the record, I think you do."

"Shh. Don't jinx it," Draco said as they left the common room. "I don't want to think of what might happen. For once, I'm happy to let fate decide."

Pansy chuckled and squeezed Draco's arm gently as they made their way to the Great Hall for breakfast.

Taking his seat, Draco looked around the room, taking note of exactly who was present and where they were sitting. He was attempting to work out what order the other students would get to Potions, and if he'd be able to get there before Potter and after Longbottom. After a few minutes, his head started to hurt and he concentrated on eating.

****


Walking into Potions, Harry sat at his usual table beside Neville. There was a simmering cauldron already set up on Professor Snape's desk and he glanced at it curiously as he passed it. He caught a waft of whatever potion was inside the cauldron and was surprised to find it smelled like a mixture of treacle tart, the woody smell of a broomstick handle and a very strong, but rather pleasant, hint of strawberries. He wondered what on earth the potion was, but didn't dare stop to ask as Professor Snape strode into the room at that moment.

Tutting, Snape vanished the cauldron at once. "Foolish sixth years," he muttered. "That will be the last time I allow them to use the room for extra revision when there is a fifth year class due next period."

Harry turned to Hermione. "What do you suppose that potion was?" he asked curiously, sure that she would know .

"I don't know," Hermione replied. "It looked rather distinctive though, and it smelled lovely."

Harry nodded. "Like treacle tart and strawberries, I know."

"No," Hermione frowned. "It smelled like freshly mown grass, new parchment and something else I couldn't place."

"What? But I could definitely smell strawberries," Harry said, feeling even more confused. Though not confused enough to try and ask Professor Snape. He knew he would likely have points taken if he did.

"I'll look it up after class," Hermione said at once. "It can't be too hard to find a potion that smells differently to different people."

Harry nodded, turning back to face the front as the rest of the class filed in. He spotted Draco Malfoy entering and wondered idly why the blonde was scowling now.

****


On entering the Potions classroom, Draco frowned with disappointment as he realised that he was too late to get Potter to sit next to him. Casting a glance at Pansy, he sat down at his normal table.

Pansy sat beside him, patting his thigh in a comforting gesture.

Draco sighed, feeling slightly deflated as he got his textbook out of his bag and placed it on the table. He could only hope that there would be another chance later in the week.

Thankfully, Professor Snape chose that moment to begin the lesson and Draco found himself immersed in ingredients and recipes. They were brewing a particularly nasty potion today and he found that it took all his concentration so that he didn't mess anything up. Granted, he was gifted at Potions, but that didn't mean he could let his concentration waiver. Not if he didn't want to poison Pansy anyway.

A couple of stressful hours later, Potions class finally came to an end. Draco shook his hair out of his eyes, thankful that the potion he and Pansy had brewed seemed to be perfectly done. He watched as Professor Snape walked slowly around the class, vanishing potions left and right. Including Potter and Longbottom's, of course. Draco caught the frustrated look on Harry's face and felt a wave of sympathy for the Gryffindor. He couldn't imagine how it must feel to see your potion vanished day after day.

He snapped his attention back to his own potion as Professor Snape approached his table and examined his cauldron.

"Very good, Mr. Malfoy, Miss Parkinson," Snape drawled. "Full marks."

Draco couldn't help but smile proudly, glancing at Pansy. He then glanced at Harry, arching an eyebrow and smirking as if to say 'you could have been my partner'. He was pleased to see the annoyed scowl that graced Harry's face and he turned back to his cauldron.

Professor Snape moved back to his own desk to issue that day's homework, which included an essay from the people whose potions he'd vanished on what exactly they'd done wrong to cause him to vanish the potion in the first place. For the people whose potions had remained intact, they simply had to write an essay on the properties of the potion and what makes it so effective.

Draco briefly entertained himself with the ridiculous notion that perhaps he could help Harry with his essay before remembering that he'd have to win the Gryffindor over first. Frowning slightly, he began to pack up his things, making sure to clear the cauldron before leaving the room. Sniffing slightly, he crinkled his nose. "Pansy, I'm going to go and clean up before lunch," he said. "I stink and I am not going through the rest of the day smelling like this."

Pansy chuckled. "Alright, I'll save you some food," she said.

"Thank you," Draco said, patting Pansy's shoulder before leaving the room and heading for the Slytherin common room. He was planning on taking another, very quick, shower before going to eat.

****


Later that afternoon, Harry was sitting in the Gryffindor common room with Hermione and Ron. Hermione, as usual, had a thick, heavy book open on her lap and was currently poring over it. Harry and Ron were playing wizard's chess, in which Harry was being beaten by Ron. Badly.

"Oh! Here it is!" Hermione exclaimed.

"Here's what?" Ron asked absently as he moved his knight to take yet another one of Harry's pieces.

"That potion that was in the cauldron at the front of Snape's classroom this morning," Hermione replied, causing Harry to look up with interest.

"What was it then?"

"It was... it was Amortentia," Hermione replied in a hushed voice. "A love potion."

"A... what?" Harry repeated, his eyes wide. "I thought there was no such thing as love potions?" he asked, frowning.

"No, there are love potions, but they can't force someone to fall in love with you," Hermione explained. "They simply cause the drinker to become... obsessed or infatuated with you. It will wear off eventually. Amortentia smells different to each person according to what attracts them."

"So... you're attracted to freshly mown grass and new parchment?" Harry asked, looking at Hermione.

"Yes," Hermione replied, flushing slightly as she nodded.

"And I'm... attracted to treacle tart, broomsticks and... strawberries?" Harry continued uncertainly.

Hermione nodded again. "Yes. Apparently."

Harry frowned again. "But I've never smelled any strawberries," he said. "How does it know what attracts me?"

"I have no idea," Hermione said, shrugging. "But I'd be very surprised if it was wrong."

"Yeah... that's what I'm afraid of," Harry muttered, glancing around the common room as though expecting to smell strawberries at any second.

"Don't be afraid of it, Harry," Hermione said. "You might not find whoever it is for ages yet."

"Hmm. Well, I suppose we'll find out in time," Harry sighed. "I just hope it's not anyone that I can't stand."

Hermione chuckled and shook her head.

"Anyway, I'm going to go and get started on my Potions essay in the library," Harry said, standing up and stretching. "I'll see you two later."

"Alright," Hermione replied absently, already leafing through another book.

Ron rolled his eyes. "See you in a bit, mate," he said, waving at Harry before going back to the chess pieces who were now trying to beat each other up regardless of the game.

Harry nodded as he left the common room and headed for the library. He grumbled to himself slightly as he tried to remember what he needed to write about. He hated having his potions vanished by Professor Snape.

A few minutes later, Harry pushed the door to the library open and was thankful that the room wasn't too crowded. He just wanted to write his essay and be done with it. Choosing a table in the corner, away from the door where he hoped he couldn't be seen, Harry sat down and pulled out a piece of parchment and his quill. As an afterthought, he pulled out his potions textbook so that he could refresh his memory about the potion that they'd been brewing that morning.

As he flipped the book open to the right page and began reading, he heard the library door open again, but didn't bother looking up. If he did that, and it was someone he knew, he might end up in conversation and he definitely didn't need that right now. He bent his head over his textbook and began to read the passage.

The door to the library swung shut again, sending a draft through the library. Harry crinkled his nose at the smell that reached his nostrils. The smell of strawberries. His head snapped up, searching for the source of the smell but there was no-one in sight. Frowning, he went back to his reading, trying to put the love potion out of his mind.

****


It wasn't until the next week that Draco got his chance to partner Harry again in Potions and he was pleased to note that it required no dirty work from Pansy. As much as he enjoyed seeing her embarrass Neville, he didn't want it to become obvious that she was behind a lot of his 'accidents' because that wouldn't help him at all.

"Now's your chance," Pansy whispered, nudging Draco with her elbow as Neville left the class.

"I know," Draco muttered back, sitting himself down at his usual table and watching as Pansy made her way over to sit with Blaise. Luckily for him, Nott was also in the hospital wing with a bad case of spattergroit so there was no one else but him for Harry to sit with.

He turned towards the door slightly, watching for the three Gryffindors as they were the last ones to enter the room. He turned away again, smirking slightly as he saw the expressions on Ron and Hermione's faces. Harry, on the other hand, didn't look too bothered.

Draco faced the front of the class, drawing a breath as Harry sat down next to him without being told. He heard a few gasps as other people in the class saw this happen and he couldn't help but smirk.

"Apparently people can't handle it if we're not trying to curse each other," he murmured to Harry.

"Apparently not," Harry replied softly, smiling slightly.

Draco continued to smirk as he gave Professor Snape his full attention. He hadn't missed the look that Snape had given them either and he knew he was playing with fire, but at this point in time, he didn't really care.

He glanced over at Pansy, who gave him a discreet thumbs up, and smiled slightly. He was hoping that this lesson would be a good one.

Professor Snape had started writing ingredients on the board, while explaining what it was that they were going to be doing today. Draco frowned in concentration as he wrote notes that he thought would help them.

"You may collect your ingredients," Professor Snape announced, turning back to his cauldron.

Draco looked up at Harry. "Go on then," he said, watching as Harry sighed and headed to the supply cupboard without complaint. He grinned to himself as he started setting up the cauldron.

"You'd better not be up to anything, Malfoy."

Draco looked up in surprise, turning in the direction of the voice. His gaze hardened as he realised that the speaker was Hermione. "And what's it to you, Granger?"

"He's one of my best friends," Hermione said. "I don't know if that means anything to you Slytherins, but it certainly means a lot to us Gryffindors."

Draco sniffed slightly. "Really? Well good for you. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm busy. You wouldn't want me to accidentally poison your best friend would you?"

Hermione huffed and went back to setting up the cauldron she was sharing with Ron.

Draco chewed on his lip slightly, hoping that Harry hadn't heard any of his conversation with Hermione. He was sure it wouldn't have made him sound too good. He realised that he needed to make a good impression on Harry now, to try and change the Gryffindor's mind about him.

Harry returned a second later, his arms loaded with ingredients.

Draco watched as Harry put the ingredients on the table, before checking them over. "Is that everything?" he asked, seeing that the pile wasn't very big.

"That's what Snape put on the board," Harry replied, pointing behind Draco.

Draco turned his head and quickly read the list. "Oh. Okay then, let's get started. Chop those up," he said, shoving some strange looking little insects towards Harry.

"Yes, sir," Harry said sarcastically, though with a small smirk on his face.

Draco rolled his eyes slightly and shook his head, reaching passed Harry for the vial of belladonna essence. As he did so, he leant in close to the Gryffindor, bumping shoulders with him gently. "Sorry," he muttered as he pulled back.

"I-it's okay," Harry replied, his eyes wide.

Draco frowned at the look on Harry's face. "I'm not going to attack you, don't look like that," he huffed, carefully pouring the belladonna essence into the cauldron.

"I didn't think you were going to attack me," Harry said quickly.

"Well then stop looking at me like an owl!" Draco said. "And hurry up and chop those insects up."

Harry growled under his breath and finished chopping the insects before shoving them over to Draco.

The rest of the lesson was spent in silence, save for the occasional "pass me that please" and at the end of the lesson their potion looked perfect.

Professor Snape conducted his usual inspection of the potions that they'd created and once again awarded Draco and Harry full marks, to Harry's (well contained) delight. Draco found himself more concerned with the fact that Harry seemed to be wary of him again and made a mental note to speak to Pansy that night.

****


"Hermione!"

"Harry, what is it?" Hermione asked, looking concerned as she turned to her friend.

"I... I need to talk to you," Harry said breathlessly, having run all the way from the Great Hall to find the bushy haired girl.

"What's wrong?" Hermione asked, sounding alarmed.

"Not here," Harry replied, still panting for breath. "Somewhere private."

"Okay, where?"

"This way," Harry said, gesturing for Hermione to follow him as he headed back down a corridor.

They walked for a few more minutes as Harry led the way to an empty classroom. He knew they wouldn't be disturbed as the classroom hadn't been used for months, though he still took the precaution of charming the door shut once they were both inside.

"Harry, you're scaring me," Hermione said, perching on the edge of a desk. "What's wrong."

"I... I smelt strawberries," Harry said, looking at Hermione with wide eyes.

"You did? Well... that's good, isn't it?" Hermione asked, looking confused.

Harry shook his head.

"Why not? Who is it?" Hermione asked, frowning as she tried to think of who it could be.

"It's... it's... " Harry trailed off, unable to say the name that was on the tip of his tongue.

"Come on, Harry! She can't be that bad," Hermione exclaimed.

Harry looked down, his cheeks flushing red. "It's not a she," he muttered.

"Oh..." Hermione flushed slightly. "Well, I'm sure he can't be that bad."

"It's Malfoy," Harry whispered, still looking down.

Hermione's eyes grew wider as she stared at Harry. "Malfoy? But... but he's Malfoy!"

"I know," Harry moaned. "But if he smells of strawberries... then it... it must be him. I mean... he must be the one, right?"

"I don't know, Harry," Hermione said, looking distressed. "The potion said the smell of strawberries attracts you but I don't know if that means that you should be with him. He's a Malfoy... his father wants to hand you over to Voldemort, how can you even get passed that?"

"I don't know," Harry said, frowning. "But I... I have a feeling he's not like his father. Partnering him in Potions he's... he's human."

"You mean you've talked to him?" Hermione asked, trying to remember if she'd seen the two having a conversation.

"Not as such, no," Harry said slowly. "But there's been... moments."

"Moments?" Hermione asked.

"Yeah... moments. When he's seemed just like you or me," Harry said, frowning slightly. "Normal. Like I could... like him."

Hermione looked troubled. "You're thinking of getting to know him, aren't you?"

"I... I... what could it hurt?" Harry said eventually.

"You!" Hermione exclaimed. "His father is in league with Voldemort! He could do you serious damage!"

"But he might not! We've never given him chance," Harry protested, thinking of the first time he'd met Draco. Then he found himself thinking of the other day in the Quidditch locker room when he saw Draco shirtless and wet. He knew which version of the blonde he preferred.

"There's a reason for that," Hermione said. "He's never given us cause to give him a chance!"

"Then maybe... maybe we should take charge and just... give him one?" Harry suggested, feeling torn. He knew Hermione was right.

Hermione raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"

"I didn't mean that and you know it!" Harry replied quickly, flushing instantly.

"I don't know what you mean anymore," Hermione said. "You're seriously considering getting to know Draco Malfoy? Even knowing what his father is like?"

Harry paused before answering. "Yes. But... without telling him," he said.

"What? How do you plan on doing that?" Hermione replied, looking sceptical.

"I don't know. But I'll find a way," Harry said. "I don't want him to laugh in my face or anything if I try to have a proper conversation with him."

"I can't believe you're going to do this," Hermione said, sighing slightly. "Are you sure you want to?"

Harry nodded firmly. "Yes."

"Alright. Then I'll be here for you... I assume you don't want Ron to know?" Hermione replied.

"No! He'd go mad," Harry said, hurriedly. "And he wouldn't understand. He... he likes girls."

"He won't stop being your friend just because you're gay, you know," Hermione said, rolling her eyes.

"Hermione, this is Ron we're talking about," Harry said. "You know as well as I do that he won't take this particular news very well."

"Yeah, I know," Hermione sighed. "But I still don't think he'd stop being your friend. He might just have a hard time adjusting to it."

"Yeah, well... I'm not ready to be outed to the whole house... or school," Harry said. "And Ron can't keep his mouth shut so he's not going to find out yet. Please promise me you won't tell him, Hermione?"

"I promise, of course I do," Hermione said. "But you'll have to tell him eventually."

Harry nodded. "I know," he said with a small sigh. "And I will. Just not yet. Okay?"

"Okay," Hermione nodded.

"Thank you, Hermione," Harry said gratefully, giving her a hug.

"Mmhmm," Hermione murmured, returning the hug.

****


"I really think you're worrying about nothing, Draco," Pansy said, sounding exasperated.

"But you can't be sure that I am," Draco said. "He was back to the way he was weeks ago today. He barely spoke during Potions and that's not like him!"

Pansy started to laugh.

"What? What are you laughing at?" Draco demanded, his face turning red.

"Nothing, nothing," Pansy replied. "It's just that you sound like you're married to him already, knowing what is and isn't like him!"

Draco growled and turned away, folding his arms across his chest.

"Oh, Drake, come on," Pansy said in a wheedling tone as she wrapped her arms around Draco from behind and hugged him, resting her chin on his shoulder. "You know I'm only teasing."

"Yes, well, now is not the time for teasing," Draco said sullenly.

"Don't sulk," Pansy said. "It'll give you wrinkles. Now come on. Get some sleep and try again tomorrow," she added, giving Draco a squeeze before letting go of him.

"Do you really think it's worth another try?" Draco asked, turning his head to look over his shoulder at Pansy.

"Yes. Now go to bed," Pansy replied with a smile. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight, Pans," Draco said with a fond smile as he stood to give the brunette a proper hug. "And thank you."

"Thank me later," Pansy said, grinning as she left the room.

Draco closed his door with a smile and changed into his pyjamas before climbing into bed. He hoped Pansy was right and that he'd have another chance tomorrow. He didn't like the thought that he'd somehow managed to offend Harry without even knowing it.

Giving a small sigh, he closed his eyes and hoped that sleep would come quickly.

Luckily his wish came true and Draco was asleep within minutes of his head touching the pillow and the next thing he knew, it was morning and he was heading for his daily shower.

Draco felt like he was walking through a haze as he went about his morning rituals. He was unbelievably nervous for Potions class that morning and could only hope that Harry would sit with him again. He didn't even know if Longbottom would be back in lessons that day.

"Ready to go?"

Pansy's voice startled him out of his thoughts and he jumped slightly as he looked up at the brunette. "Oh! Yeah, let's go," he said, standing up.

Pansy chuckled. "Don't worry," she said. "Everything will be fine."

"I hope so," Draco muttered as Pansy took his arm.

"Have faith," Pansy said, squeezing his arm gently. "Now, let's get breakfast over with."

Draco nodded and headed out of the common room and toward the Great Hall. He felt his nerves growing with every step, though he wasn't really sure why. He didn't think that Harry would even contemplate confronting him in front of everyone at breakfast. For once, he felt comforted by Pansy's hand on his arm as they entered the room and took their seats at the Slytherin table. Glancing over at the Gryffindor table, he realised that Harry wasn't there yet and he inwardly breathed a sigh of relief.

As the food began to appear on the table, Draco occupied himself with piling his plate up, deciding that he would need sustenance for the day ahead. He had a feeling that things were going to be back to normal between he and Harry after the sudden change in the Gryffindor's behaviour.

Before he knew it, breakfast was over and he and Pansy were walking towards the dungeons for Potions. Draco hoped that Harry would choose to sit with him today, but he didn't know how likely he was to get his wish. He'd seen Longbottom in the Great Hall and there didn't look to be anything wrong with him this morning. He could only hope that the guarantee of a good grade was enough to sway Harry.

Reaching the door to the classroom, he realised that now was the moment of truth and that there was nothing he could do about it if Harry decided to sit with Neville. He'd just have to deal with that if it happened. Taking a breath, he entered the classroom and took his usual seat. He watched as Pansy took up her new seat next to Tracey Davis.

Slowly the classroom began to fill up as more and more students took their seats. Last through the door was Harry and Draco stared resolutely at the front of the class. He knew that there were only two spare seats in the room. One was beside Neville and the other was the seat next to his own. He didn't dare look at Harry in case it looked like he was glaring at him and giving off an image that said 'sit next to me and I'll hex you'.

After a few seconds, Draco heard a collective gasp around the classroom and glanced to his right, confirming that Harry had chosen to sit next to him. He raised an eyebrow slightly, but didn't say anything as he looked back to the front of the class. It was all he could do to suppress the grin that was threatening to appear. He also didn't dare look at Pansy, for fear he wouldn't be able to contain himself.

Luckily, at that moment, Professor Snape walked into the room and stopped in front of the table that Draco and Harry were sharing, looking at them with one eyebrow raised. Draco looked innocently back at him, hoping that Harry was doing the same. After a long moment, Professor Snape shook his head slightly and continued on his way to the front of the class.

Draco relaxed slightly, paying attention as Snape began giving them instructions for the potion they would be making during the lesson. He still didn't look at Harry, not wanting to be distracted during the important bit. He needed the lesson to go perfectly.

Within a few minutes, Draco was setting up the cauldron and Harry had gone off to the supply cupboard without being asked. Draco caught Pansy's eye and grinned before looking down again. He was well aware of Professor Snape keeping an eye on them and he made a mental note to leave before he could be kept behind and questioned. He had a feeling that his head of house was just waiting for a chance to grill him.

"Here you go," Harry said, putting the ingredients onto the desktop. "I think I got everything."

Draco cast an eye over the pile of ingredients before looking up at Harry and nodding, a hint of a smile on his face. "Yeah, you did," he said.

"Good. So, what first?"

"Chop these up," Draco said, sliding some roots over to Harry. "I'll do these, and then we can add them to the cauldron once it's heated up to the right temperature."

Harry nodded. "Okay," he said, starting to chop the roots carefully.

Draco smiled to himself as he got to work chopping the beetles that were in front of him. He was pleased to notice that the silence between himself and Harry was no longer tense, which had to be a positive sign.  

"So, um, how do you think you'll do on your OWLs?"

Draco jumped slightly, having been startled by Harry speaking. "Oh, erm, I think I'll do okay," he said, trying to get his heartbeat back to normal. "I know I'll ace Potions at least."

"Lucky you," Harry said, smiling slightly. "I don't think I'll do very well in Potions."

"You will if you sit with me," Draco replied softly, looking down at the beetles again.

"Anyone would think you want me to sit next to you," Harry said, not looking up.

"Well... what if I do want you to?" Draco asked, throwing caution to the wind.

"I... do you want me to?" Harry asked, changing his mind midway through his sentence.

Draco shrugged. "Maybe."

Harry chuckled softly. "What are you up to?"

"I'm not up to anything," Draco replied honestly, putting the beetles into the cauldron. "Put those roots in here."

Harry did as he was asked and put the roots into the cauldron too. "Are you sure?"

"Why would I go to all this trouble of getting you to sit next to me, just to attack you?" Draco asked.

"...Good point," Harry nodded. "Alright. Why do you want me to sit next to you?"

"I'm tired of fighting with you," Draco said carefully, handing Harry something else to chop up. "I'd like to get to know the great Harry Potter."

"I'm not great," Harry said immediately.

"Everybody seems to think you are," Draco pointed out.

Harry shrugged. "Maybe they're wrong."

"What if I think they're right?"

"I think I'd be suspicious," Harry said thoughtfully. "Haven't you hated me since first year?"

Draco shook his head, but didn't say anything.

"You... haven't?" Harry asked, blinking at Draco.

"No," Draco replied simply. "I just didn't know how to talk to you. Plus I could hardly get near to you. You were always surrounded by people."

"I didn't think you wanted to be near me," Harry said. "You never gave that impression."

Draco shrugged again. "I wasn't exactly popular with your friends, so I didn't have an excuse to be around you other than to antagonise you."

"Fair enough," Harry nodded. "What changed?"

"I've grown up a bit since first year, in case you hadn't noticed," Draco said.

"Oh, I've noticed," Harry replied, slightly distantly as his thoughts were sent back to the day Draco had appeared in front of him shirtless.

Draco couldn't help but give a small smirk, realising what must be going through Harry's mind. "I'm not as... closed minded as I once was."

"Well that's good to know," Harry said, shaking his head to rid his mind of the images running through it right now.

"Am I to take it that that means you're not completely against getting to know me?" Draco asked cautiously.

"You could take it that way, yes," Harry said after a moment's thought.

"Hm. Okay," Draco nodded. "Good."

Harry smirked slightly. "Not here though. In the middle of Potions isn't the best place."

"No, you're probably right," Draco nodded. "Too many people are listening and pretending they're not."

Harry laughed. "There is that," he nodded. "And Professor Snape, who keeps glaring at us."

"I'm sure they're all just waiting for us to have a big fight," Draco said. "Because obviously it's impossible for us to get on."

Harry chuckled and nodded again. "Shame. They'll be disappointed this time."

Draco nodded too. "Yes. We should concentrate on our potion," he said. "It's going to need closer attention soon. Perhaps we can meet somewhere later to continue our conversation."

"I'll be in the Quidditch locker rooms again later," Harry said, nodding once more. "I'm sure we could bump into each other in there."

"That sounds entirely likely," Draco replied. "I'll be going passed there on my daily walk after dinner."

"Then I'll probably see you there," Harry said as casually as possible.

Draco nodded once. "Okay. Now, we need to add these one at a time," he said, gesturing to the leaves he'd been cutting. "Then we put yours in, and we have to keep an eye on it, stirring it once every couple of minutes."

Harry nodded and for the rest of the class, all they talked about was their potion, making sure it was tended to properly. At the end of the class, Professor Snape once again awarded them full marks.

As they left the class, Pansy grabbed Draco's arm and steered him away from the crowd. "Well?!"

"We're meeting up later," Draco replied, unable to hide the smug smirk.

Pansy squealed excitedly and squeezed Draco's arm.

"Alright, alright, calm down," Draco said hurriedly, glancing around. "People will wonder what's going on."

"But this is a massive step!" Pansy exclaimed. "Aren't you excited?"

"Of course I am," Draco replied. "But I still don't want to get my hopes up yet. Not until I've talked to him later."

Pansy nodded. "Of course, of course," she said. "But I don't think you need to worry. He wouldn't have agreed if he wasn't planning to get to know you."

"I'd hope not," Draco said as they entered the Great Hall for lunch. "But I'll find out tonight."

****

After dinner, Harry made his way to the Quidditch locker rooms as planned. He knew that none of the teams had practice that night, so he was pretty sure that no-one would be around to disturb he and Draco. He let himself in and made himself comfortable on one of the benches as he waited for the blonde to show up. He'd had a talk with Hermione before leaving the castle and, of course, she had warned him to be careful. He hoped that she wouldn't be given a reason for being so suspicious.

Luckily, he didn't have to wait long as Draco turned up a few minutes later. "Potter," he said, greeting the Gryffindor with a nod.

"Malfoy," Harry replied, returning the nod as he watched the blonde sit down on the bench opposite. "So... what made you want to get to know me?"

"I always wanted to get to know you," Draco replied, shifting on the bench slightly. "If you remember back to first year, I introduced myself to you."

"Yeah, but that was rather an intimidating introduction," Harry replied dryly. "With Crabbe and Goyle beside you and glaring at Ron."

"Yes, well, like I said earlier, I've grown up since then," Draco said. "I don't suppose I'll ever be best friends with Weasley. Too much has gone on between our families, plus he can't stand me. But when I was younger, I believed everything my father said. Now... I'm a little more educated."

"Well I'm glad," Harry nodded. "Because he's not a bad person."

"Indeed," Draco said, nodding once. "I'd rather not talk about him though. I don't really want to get to know him better."

Harry smirked slightly. "I didn't think you did," he said. "Can I ask you something?"

Draco nodded. "Ask away."

"What's going on between you and Pansy Parkinson?" Harry asked, deciding that it was a safer question than 'are you gay?'

"She's my best friend," Draco replied honestly. "We've known each other since we could talk... probably longer, actually. She can be a bit of a bitch sometimes, but she's not as bad as people say."

Harry snorted softly. "So you're not dating her?"

It was Draco's turn to snort now. "Merlin, no! That would be like dating my sister," he exclaimed. "But even if she wasn't my best friend, I wouldn't be interested in dating her. She's too much of a girl for me."

"Meaning?"

Draco rolled his eyes. "Please tell me that I don't need to elaborate on that point," he said, raising an eyebrow.

"Ah. So you're into guys then?" Harry asked.

"Yes. And I'm guessing that you are too, or you wouldn't be taking so much interest in my love life, right?" Draco replied.

"Right," Harry replied. "Although I've only... recently... realised that."

Draco nodded. "And you're sure? I mean... you're not confused?"

"I don't think so," Harry said, shaking his head. "I've never really looked at girls like that. There was a bit of a thing with Cho Chang last year, but that wasn't the same."

"What happened with her?" Draco asked curiously.

"Nothing really," Harry shrugged. "I think she liked me, but she ended up with Cedric."

"Oh. Were you disappointed?"

"Not really," Harry admitted. "In the end, I had more important things on my mind."

Draco nodded. "I bet."

Harry nodded too. "Last year wasn't the best year," he said. "But I suppose you might think otherwise?"

"With the Dark Lord coming back, you mean?" Draco asked, before shaking his head. "My father might think so, but I'm not so sure now."

"Why not?"

"I've come to realise that not all Muggleborns and half-bloods are bad," Draco said, shrugging. "I was massively influenced by my father, but I know that not everything he says is right now."

Harry nodded. "That's always true," he said. "Not everyone is always right."

Draco nodded too. "I know."

"Good," Harry said. "So... why me?"

"What do you mean?" Draco asked.

"Well, why do you want to get to know me better?" Harry asked. "Why not someone else?"

"No-one else has captured my interest like you," Draco shrugged. "So why not you?"

"Fair enough," Harry nodded. "Do your friends know about this?"

"Pansy does," Draco replied. "I trust her with my life. The others... not so much. But Pansy won't say anything to anybody. What about your friends?"

"Hermione knows," Harry admitted. "She's not thrilled with the idea, obviously, but she's been good about it. Ron doesn't know a thing, or I wouldn't have made it out of the common room tonight."

Draco snorted softly. "No, I don't suppose you would have," he said.

"He's not going to find anything out for a long time," Harry continued. "I don't think he'd handle it particularly well."

"You being gay, or you getting to know me?" Draco asked.

"Both, really!" Harry replied with a wry smile. "He's quite set in his ways, is Ron."

"I'd noticed," Draco nodded, returning the smile.

"You know, you have a nice smile," Harry said suddenly.

"I do?" Draco blinked.

Harry nodded. "Yeah... you should show it more often."

Draco smiled at Harry. "Well... maybe I will," he said. "But only to certain people."

"Well that's a start," Harry grinned. "Who would those people be?"

"Pansy, of course," Draco said. "Crabbe and Goyle, I suppose, since they're always around. And... maybe you. If you'd like to see it more often."

Harry chuckled. "Is that your way of asking me out?" he asked, arching an eyebrow slightly.

"No, if I wanted to ask you out, I would," Draco replied with a smirk.

"Oh," Harry said, feeling wrong footed. "Sorry, I..."

"You didn't let me finish," Draco interrupted. "I was going to say, and I do want to ask you out so what do you say?"

"Well... as long as you're sure that this isn't a trick or anything, and that you haven't got a bunch of Slytherins in waiting to ambush me, then... I'd like that," Harry replied with a smile.

"I promise, there are no Slytherins waiting to ambush you," Draco replied, holding both his hands where Harry could see them. "At least, none that I know about."

Harry chuckled. "Alright, well... where will we go on our first date?"

"Oh... I'm not sure," Draco replied, frowning. "I hadn't really thought about that... it's not like we can just go swanning off somewhere, is it?"

"No, I suppose you're right," Harry said, frowning too. "Maybe we can just hang out together or something this weekend?"

"But where?" Draco asked. "I'm assuming you wouldn't want people to see us together just yet?"

"Not really," Harry admitted. "But that's nothing to do with you, really. It's just that our situation isn't exactly the most conventional, is it?"

Draco shook his head. "No, definitely not," he replied. "My father would likely have my head if he found out that I was even speaking to you like a human."

"So that's all the public places around school out then," Harry sighed. "And as much as I love Quidditch, I'd rather not have our first date in here."

Draco looked around at the room. "No, I wouldn't want that either. This place is too drafty. I'd rather be somewhere warm."

"What about the Divination tower?" Harry suggested. "It's never used during the weekends. Even Professor Trelawney stays out of it for the most part, and if she asks, I'm pretty sure we could convince her that she was seeing things!"

Draco laughed. "You're probably right," he said, nodding. "But I don't know if we'd be able to get up there without being seen."

"What about the library then?" Harry asked, racking his brains. "There are secluded corners and stuff that we could sit in."

"Maybe..." Draco nodded slowly. "It's a lot more likely than the Divination tower anyway. We should maybe just meet up somewhere and then see what's happening around the school. There'll be somewhere that's not busy, I'm sure."

Harry nodded. "Alright, that sounds like a good enough plan," he said. "What time shall we meet?"

"After dinner?" Draco suggested. "Then most people will be back in the common rooms."

Harry nodded again. "Sounds perfect," he said. "So, I'll see you Saturday after dinner... where?"

"Outside of the library," Draco said. "That way we can both pretend we're doing something else if we need to."

"Got it," Harry said, smiling. "See you Saturday."

"See you Saturday," Draco nodded, getting up to leave again, but not before giving Harry a smile.

****

When he got back to the common room, Pansy was waiting for him with an excited look on her face.

Draco gestured for her to follow him and he headed straight through to his room, Pansy following like an eager puppy. He'd barely got the door shut and warded before the questions started.

"What happened? Did you just talk? Or was there kissing too?"

"Pansy, please," Draco said, turning round and looking at the brunette with a bemused expression. "A gentleman never kisses and tells. However, as there was no kissing, I believe I can tell you everything," he said with a grin. "We just talked for now. We sorted out a few things like, well, issues over beliefs and such like."

Pansy nodded. "You mean the issue of your father working for the Dark Lord?"

"That came up, yes," Draco nodded, making a face. "But I told him that while my father is happy about the Dark Lord's return, I'm not. I can see now that it won't make things better. He killed Diggory last year without caring about blood status or anything like that. Diggory hadn't even done anything, by all accounts, so how can a wizard who'll kill an innocent boy do any good?"

Pansy tilted her head slightly. "I can see your logic in that," she nodded. "My parents are firm believers of his ways though. I happen to think that you're right. I can't see what good would come of him being in power, but... we'll see."

Draco nodded again. "Exactly. I'd just rather be able to live the rest of my life without fear," he said. "But anyway. We talked and decided that we'd like to get to know each other better. So we're meeting up on Saturday to have a 'date' of sorts."

Pansy squealed and clapped her hands excitedly. "Oh, Drake! That's brilliant!"

"Well, we'll see," Draco replied, though he was unable to keep the smile from his face. "We don't exactly have a lot of options for Saturday, since there's no Hogsmeade weekend until next month so we're just going to be hanging around somewhere in the school. But only if we can find somewhere that's fairly private."

"Oh, I didn't think of that," Pansy said, her face falling slightly. "But you'll be able to find somewhere... this castle is a big place."

"I'm hoping so," Draco replied. Then he paused. "Do you think I'm doing the right thing?"

Pansy frowned. "Draco Malfoy, you stop thinking like that right now. You've fancied him for ages, and it looks like he feels the same, how can you even think that you're not doing the right thing?"

"I don't know," Draco sighed. "I do want this. I mean, I want to do my own thing, I don't want to be in my father's shadow for my whole life but... he's my father."

"Will this make you happy?" Pansy asked seriously.

Draco nodded. "Yes. It will."

"Then that's all you need to know," Pansy said. "Your own happiness is the most important thing in the world. Not what other people think of you."

Draco smiled. "Thanks," he said. "I suppose you're right. And I have been waiting for this chance for long enough."

"Exactly!" Pansy grinned. "You need to grab it with both hands. Now, I'm going to go to bed. It's late and I need my beauty sleep. I'll see you in the morning."

Draco chuckled softly and nodded. "Alright. Good night, Pansy," he replied, moving to give her a hug.

That night, Draco fell asleep with a smile on his face as he remembered the night's events and his conversation with Harry. He was already looking forward to the weekend.

****

Luckily, the weekend seemed to come around quickly and before either Draco or Harry knew it, it was Saturday evening and they were both on their way to the library.

Draco hadn't had any trouble getting away from the Slytherin common room, or Crabbe and Goyle. Harry, on the other hand, had made up a story about being given detention by Filch for walking down the wrong corridor one day after Quidditch practice to tell Ron and was very thankful that it had worked. The redhead had merely made a face and wished him luck.

As he approached the library, Draco spotted Harry coming from the opposite direction. He grinned to himself, feeling glad that there was no-one else around. He nodded in greeting as Harry's gaze met his own.

"Malfoy," Harry greeted him, smiling slightly.

Draco still felt slightly on edge as they stopped in front of the library door. "Potter... so, where can we go?"

"I was thinking, what about that little antechamber down by the entrance hall? You know where we waited to be sorted in first year?" Harry asked. "Surely no-one will go in there?"

"Now that's a good idea," Draco replied, impressed. "It's not furnished though, is it?"

"Not that I remember, but surely we could conjure a couch or something to sit on?" Harry asked.

"We can certainly try," Draco nodded, glancing around to make sure they were still alone. "Are there any portraits in there?"

"Oh... I don't know," Harry admitted. "We can find out when we get down there, I suppose."

"Okay, well tell you what, I'll meet you down there in five minutes," Draco said. "I know a way that we can definitely have a couch to sit on."

Harry nodded and turned away to head down to the ground floor.

Draco turned and headed back the way he'd come. He knew where there was a couch that no-one would miss for a couple of hours and once he'd got back to it, he performed a shrinking charm on the couch and popped it into his pocket. He then made his way down to the antechamber, where he found Harry wandering around the small room.

"There's only one way in or out of this room and that's the door," Harry said, turning to look at Draco as he entered the room. "So if we lock the door, we'll have total privacy."

"Sounds good," Draco replied, pulling the couch out of his pocket and setting it on the floor before reversing the shrinking charm. He smiled proudly as he watched the couch grow to its full size again. "What about portraits?"

"There are none," Harry said, looking impressed at the spellwork that Draco used. "Which is odd really, considering how many portraits are in this bloody castle."

Draco chuckled. "Well, we shouldn't complain too much or they might stick one in here."

"Good point," Harry laughed, sitting himself down on the couch. "Where did you find this, anyway?"

"It was in one of the rooms that I passed on my way up to the library," Draco replied, sitting down too. "No-one will miss it, I'm sure."

Harry grinned. "Good, because we need it," he said. "Erm... have you ever been on a date before?"

Draco shook his head. "No," he replied, his cheeks tinting pink. "I haven't got a clue what I'm doing."

Harry laughed softly. "Neither do I," he admitted. "Is it okay to just sit and talk on a date?"

"Well... probably," Draco said, frowning slightly. "People go on dinner dates and things, don't they? Surely that's just talking and a bit of eating?"

"Oh, yeah, I didn't think of that," Harry replied, nodding slowly. "Okay, then what should we talk about?"

"I don't know much about you," Draco replied. "Other than what I've heard from my parents, which I'm sure you can imagine, probably isn't very complimentary."

Harry snorted. "No, I don't suppose it was," he said. "Alright, well... what do you want to know?"

"Is it true you didn't know that you were a wizard until you came to Hogwarts?"

Harry nodded again. "Yes. I only found out when Hagrid came looking for me after I didn't reply to my Hogwarts letter. Strange things had happened when I was younger though. Like my hair, it used to grow back literally as soon as it had been cut. And once, when I was running away from Dudley, I ended up on the roof of the school."

Draco blinked. "Why were you running away?"

"Oh... Dudley wasn't particularly nice to me," Harry said. "He's my cousin, but he's even bigger than Crabbe and Goyle, and he's a spoilt brat. He hated me living there and I was never allowed anything nice. Everything I owned had been handed down from Dudley. Like my clothes and things."

"You had to wear someone else's old clothes?" Draco asked, horrified.

Harry chuckled, forgetting how foreign an idea that would be to someone like Draco. "Yes, because my aunt and uncle refused to spend any money on me," he said. "I'm probably lucky that they actually allowed me to eat their food."

"That's... that's horrible," Draco said softly. He'd had no idea of how badly Harry had been treated by his own family. Even if they were Muggles, he was sure they should have cared a bit more for someone that was part of their family. "Why did you stay with them?"

"I had nowhere else to go," Harry shrugged. "They were the only family I knew. Them and Aunt Marge, who was even worse. And I didn't know anything about the wizarding world, so I couldn't have asked anyone for help. I just stayed in my cupboard and kept my head down."

"Your cupboard?" Draco asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Oh. Yeah, the cupboard under the stairs. It was, um, my bedroom," Harry said, flushing as he looked away. "Until I came back from Hogwarts after first year, anyway."

Draco had paled considerably. "You slept in a cupboard? That's just... it's... I can't even find words," he said quietly. "How did you cope?"

"Like I said, I kept my head down," Harry said, shrugging. "I kept hoping that if I did as I was told, without any fuss, they'd start treating me better. It didn't work. They still treat me like a disease. I never get birthday or Christmas presents from them. I can't wait until I'm seventeen. Then I can move out."

"But where will you go then?" Draco asked, frowning. "At seventeen you won't be able to get a house anywhere, will you?"

"I already have a house," Harry replied, without thinking. "It's just waiting for me to move into."

"What?" Draco asked in surprise. "What do you mean?"

Harry realised what he'd said and cringed slightly. "Will you trust me when I say I can't tell you anything yet?" he asked. "But I'll tell you as soon as I can."

Draco frowned again, but nodded. "Alright," he said grudgingly. He didn't like being kept in the dark. "As long as you do."

"I will," Harry nodded. "I promise. Anyway, enough about my childhood. What about you? What was it like growing up in your mansion?"

Draco thought carefully about his childhood. "It was very... adult," he said slowly. "I'm an only child, and my parents aren't really the type to play games with me. Sometimes my mother would, but only when Father wasn't around."

Harry nodded. "That doesn't surprise me," he said. "No offence."

"None taken," Draco shook his head. "I spent most of my childhood being given lessons on how I should behave and how I should think. As well as being taught basic spells, even though I couldn't use them until I was old enough to get my wand, of course. My father's view was that I should be well prepared and when I started school I would be top of the class. Which would be true, if Granger wasn't in the class too."

Harry chuckled softly and nodded again. "She's very clever. And practically eats books."

"You're telling me," Draco said. "I promise my father every year that I'll do better in school, in the hopes of being top of the class, but Granger is always one step ahead of me. Father's constantly telling me what a disappointment I am because I let a Muggleborn do better than me. But not letting her is easier said than done! No matter what I do, it'll never be good enough, because Granger is so much better."

"It's not like you do terrible though," Harry frowned. "You're always right up at the top of the class. Hermione is only there because she spends so much time studying. I mean, yes she's bright and clever and all of that, but she studies twenty four hours a day, seven days a week."

"I study a lot," Draco replied. "Granted, probably not as much as she does, but I do study a lot. And yet, I still can't get the respect from my father because a Muggleborn does even better."

Harry gave Draco a sympathetic look, putting a hand on the blonde's knee. "All that matters is that you do your best," he said softly. "No-one can ask for more than that. Not even your father."

Draco snorted softly, trying not to think about Harry's hand on his knee. "He can ask for more and he does. But I do my best every year. It's all I can do. And the way my father has tried to impart his views on me has made me realise that not everything is as black and white as he says and I want to experience more. Hence my sudden... change of heart."

Harry smiled and shifted a bit closer to Draco. "Well, I'm kind of glad you had the change of heart," he said. "Because this isn't half bad... I'm liking this getting to know you thing."

Draco turned to look at Harry, smiling as he realised how close they were. "I'm liking it too," he said softly, subconsciously leaning closer to the Gryffindor. "Have you ever kissed anyone before?" he added in a whisper.

"No... have you?"

Draco shook his head. "No..." he murmured, before closing the gap between he and Harry completely, pressing his lips to the Gryffindor's in a soft, hesitant kiss. A kiss which Harry returned gently, his hand still on Draco's knee.

****

Before they knew it, the next month had arrived, bringing with it the next Hogsmeade weekend. Draco found himself both looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time. He didn't want to miss out on the trip, because he always enjoyed going into the village and stocking up on lots of lovely treats from Honeydukes as well as having a drink in The Three Broomsticks but on the other hand, he just couldn't see how he and Harry could spend any time together without staying behind.

"Will you cheer up?" Pansy demanded as she entered Draco's room. "Anyone would think your kitten had just died."

"I don't have a kitten," Draco replied sullenly. "I can't cheer up, Pansy. Don't you know what today is?"

"Yes, it's Hogsmeade day," Pansy replied, sitting down. "Which is reason in itself for you to cheer up!"

"Think about it, Pansy," Draco said. "Who do I want to spend the Hogsmeade visit with most?"

"Oh," Pansy said, realisation dawning on her. "Well, surely you'll be able to sneak off for a little while?"

"We want to do normal things," Draco said, sighing. "But it'll be impossible, won't it? Half of the school will be there!"

"Have you thought about disguises?" Pansy asked thoughtfully.

"Yes, but nothing that will work," Draco sighed. "My hair and his eyes are too recognisable."

"Have you considered using a glamour?" Pansy asked, raising an eyebrow.

"A... what?" Draco asked, frowning as he looked at the brunette.

"Obviously not," Pansy said, taking in the confused expression. "A glamour can be used to change one's appearance. Including something like eye colour."

"You mean I could cast some kind of spell on Harry to make him not look like Harry anymore?" Draco asked, blinking.

Pansy nodded. "Yes. Or you could cast one on yourself to make you not look like yourself," she said.

"Is it easy to do?" Draco asked, his curiosity piqued.

"Fairly easy, yes," Pansy nodded. "And it doesn't take very long either. Perhaps it would be best if you both cast a glamour on yourselves. Then there won't be any awkward questions about who your 'new friend' is."

Draco nodded slowly. "Yes... that makes sense," he said, thinking of the freedom he and Harry could have if they both looked like someone else.

"I can help if you'd like?" Pansy offered.

Draco nodded again. "Yes, please," he said gratefully. "I wouldn't know where to begin."

Pansy grinned. "This will be fun," she said. "Do you want to stay a boy? Or should I make you into a girl?"

"Don't even think about it," Draco said warningly. "I don't care what people will think of two boys doing whatever it is that Harry and I will do, you are not making me look like a girl!"

Pansy giggled. "Alright, alright, don't get your wand in a knot," she said. "Do you have any requests for how you would like to look?"

Draco shook his head. "No," he said. "Make me look as little like me as possible."

"Alright... how are you going to tell Potter about this, by the way?"

Draco blinked. "I hadn't thought about that... what if he doesn't believe it's me?"

"You'll have to tell him before you cast the glamour," Pansy said. "It's the only way, I think."

Draco nodded again. "I think you're right... but how can I get to him before we get to Hogsmeade?"

"Send him an owl? You've got time to go up to the Owlery before breakfast," Pansy suggested.

Draco shook his head. "Granger and Weasley always read his mail with him," he said. "It'd be okay if Granger read it. She knows. But Weasley would hex my ears off. Or worse."

"What about sending an owl to Granger, then?" Pansy asked. "I'm sure she doesn't let them read her mail."

"That might work... " Draco said thoughtfully. "She's most likely to get mail from outside of Hogwarts anyway, so no-one would wonder who was writing to her, I suppose."

"Exactly! Go up to the Owlery now and send her a quick note to tell Harry that he should meet you before you go to Hogsmeade," Pansy said. "Use that little room again."

Draco nodded, standing up. "Alright... I'll meet you in the Great Hall," he said, going over to his desk to scribble a note on a bit of blank parchment. He made sure there were no Slytherin markings on the parchment before he put it into an envelope and heading quickly for the Owlery.

****

Ten minutes later, just as they were tucking into breakfast, owls began soaring through the Great Hall.

Hermione looked up, puzzled, as a big tawny owl dropped an envelope onto her plate of bacon and eggs. She'd thought her parents weren't going to write this week. Opening the envelope, she scanned the hastily scrawled message inside and frowned slightly. Glancing briefly at the Slytherin table she gave a small nod that she was sure only Draco and Pansy would see. Glancing to her right, she realised that Harry and Ron were busy eating and weren't talking between themselves.

Nudging Harry's leg gently, she slid the note to him under the table.

Harry frowned and opened his mouth to ask Hermione what was wrong, but then he saw the warning look she was giving him and closed it again. Opening the piece of parchment, he did his best to read it without Ron seeing. Looking up, he located Draco at the Slytherin table under the pretence of looking round and he gave a tiny nod of his head, though he had a scowl on his face. He felt a small thrill of excitement pass through him as he realised that he and Draco could spend the day together.

After breakfast, Harry stood up before Ron and Hermione. "I'll catch you two up," he said. "I've got to do something before we go."

Hermione nodded before Ron could say anything. "Okay, we'll meet you in Hogsmeade later," she said.

Harry smiled and nodded before turning to leave the Great Hall. He hoped that there wouldn't be many people outside the antechamber so that he could get in without raising suspicions.

He breathed a sigh of relief as the corridor was empty and quickly slipped through the door to wait for Draco.

****

Draco appeared through the door a few minutes later and quickly locked it before turning to look at Harry. "Hey," he said softly.

"Hey," Harry smiled, stepping forwards to hug Draco.

Draco smiled and pressed his lips to Harry's briefly. "I missed that," he said, pulling back again to smile at the Gryffindor.

"Me too," Harry replied with a grin of his own. "So, what's this idea you have for us to spend the day together?"

Draco chuckled at Harry's impatience. "Have you ever heard of glamours?" he asked.

Harry shook his head, a puzzled frown on his face. "No..."

"Neither had I, until Pansy mentioned them," Draco said. "They temporarily change your appearance. Mostly it's women that use them if they've got a big night out, or whatever."

"But... we could use them for Hogsmeade?" Harry asked uncertainly. "I mean... would we both need to use one?"

"Well, no but if we don't both use one, then we're bound to get questioned on who our 'new friend' is," Draco said.

"Oh, good point," Harry said, nodding. "Alright, well... how do we do it? Can I do it myself?"

"I would think so," Draco said. "Pansy's going to do mine. She could do yours too if you wanted?"

"In here?" Harry asked.

Draco nodded. "I'll get her to come in here and then we can all leave separately. I'll meet you in Hogsmeade by the stile outside the Shrieking Shack."

"Couldn't we walk to Hogsmeade together? If we're disguised, surely it wouldn't do any harm?" Harry asked, slightly perplexed.

"Oh... I didn't think of that," Draco said, blinking. "Yeah, I suppose we could," he added with a smile.

Harry grinned.

"Okay, wait here and I'll get Pansy," Draco said. "She should be outside somewhere," he added as he went to the door and carefully peered out.

A few seconds later, Pansy slipped through the door and Draco locked it behind her.

"Ready?" Pansy asked, pulling her wand out.

Draco nodded. "Have at it," he said. "But no making me look like a girl!"

Harry snorted softly, hiding his smile as he watched Pansy set to work. He couldn't take his eyes off Draco as Pansy changed his hair colour to a mid-brown colour, styling it slightly differently before moving on to his eyes, changing them to a deep blue colour instead of their usual gray. Harry gasped softly as Pansy put the final touches to Draco's new look, changing the shape of his nose and mouth slightly.

"There!" Pansy said proudly, stepping back.

"Well?" Draco asked nervously, turning his gaze to Harry.

"I... I... it's weird," Harry stammered. "It's not you... but it is. I have to admit... I find you much more attractive as yourself."

Draco laughed. "Understandable," he said, winking at Harry. "Okay, let her do you now."

Pansy turned to Harry expectantly.

"Okay," he said. "Do your worst."

Pansy laughed gleefully as she began to alter Harry's appearance. She took away his unruly black hair, giving him a neat, dirty blonde haircut. Next she changed his eye colour and shape, knowing that if she left them they'd be a dead giveaway no matter what he looked like. Frowning in thought, she muttered another incantation and removed Harry's glasses. To his surprise, he could see perfectly.

"What did you do?" he asked, turning to Pansy.

"It's a spell to temporarily give you perfect vision. You can't repair your eyesight completely like this," Pansy explained. "It needs a much more complicated spell that I don't know. But this will get you through today without you needing your glasses."

"Oh, okay," Harry said, feeling slightly disappointed. "Can we go now?"

"No, wait," Pansy said. "I haven't done your scar yet... we can't leave that."

"Definitely not!" Draco said, looking at Harry critically.

Pansy waved her wand a couple more times, muttering incantations under her breath as she disguised the scar on Harry's forehead, as well as changing the shape of his face slightly. "All done."

"What do you think?" Harry asked, looking round at Draco.

"Pansy, you did a good job," Draco said appreciatively. "But... I prefer you as yourself too."

Harry smiled. "At least it's only temporary... it is only temporary isn't it?" he asked, turning back to Pansy who nodded.

"Yes. Nothing I've done today will last for more than six hours," she said. "That should give you plenty of time in Hogsmeade, and maybe a little bit of time back here before you look like yourselves again."

"Excellent," Draco grinned. "Okay Pansy, you go now and we'll follow in five minutes."

"Mind you do," Pansy said. "I haven't done all of that magic for you two to spend the day snogging in here!"

"You spoil all my fun," Draco said, grinning at Pansy as she left.

Harry chuckled. "Let's go then, shall we?" he asked.

Draco nodded, smiling at the Gryffindor. "Oh!" he exclaimed suddenly, his hand on the doorhandle. "What should we call each other? We can hardly use our real names when we look nothing like ourselves."

"Oh, bugger," Harry said, pausing too. "Erm..."

"I could call you James," Draco said after a moment. "Then it's still sort of your name."

Harry nodded slowly. "That would be alright," he said. "But what about you?"

"Call me Orion," Draco said after some thought. "One of my relatives was called Orion, but I don't think anyone will make the connection."

Harry opened his mouth to say that he knew who Orion was, but then closed it again. He didn't think that now was the time to bring up Sirius. He simply nodded and grinned. "Alright, Orion it is. Shall we?" he said, gesturing to the door.

Draco grinned too and opened the door, carefully peering out to see if the coast was clear. Once he was sure that there was no-one around, he opened the door wider and walked out of the room, Harry following.

The two boys made their way out of the school and towards the entrance, both of them feeling a great sense of freedom as no-one recognised them for who they really were.

"This is great," Harry whispered, walking close to Draco. "I sort of wish every day was like this."

"Me too," Draco replied, grinning again. "No-one cares that we're together because no-one knows who we are!"

"I know!" Harry said gleefully, unable to stop himself from taking Draco's hand as they walked.

Draco glanced down at their hands and simply grinned as they walked into Hogsmeade village.

"Let's go to Honeydukes first," Harry said. "Then Zonko's?"

Draco nodded. "Sounds like a plan. And we can go for a drink at the Three Broomsticks."

For the rest of the day, Harry and Draco enjoyed themselves as they wandered freely about the village, completely unhindered. No-one even spared them a second glance because they didn't recognise them. They spent a good while in Zonko's joke shop, examining all the new products, though neither of them bought anything.

As they headed to the Three Broomsticks, they passed Ron and Hermione. Ron was wondering aloud where Harry was, and safe in his disguise, Harry caught Hermione's eye and winked, grinning at the look of realisation that passed over her face before she returned his smile. He and Draco continued on their way, entering the Three Broomsticks.

Draco went to the bar to order them both a Butterbeer while Harry found them a cosy table in the corner, where they happily spent the rest of the afternoon until it was time to return to the school.

****

The months passed and Draco and Harry spent every spare moment that they could together. Their housemates got used to them sitting together in Potions, though no-one really commented on it. Even Ron seemed to accept that things had changed after a while, for which Harry was grateful.

Before they knew it, the end of the school year was upon them and they were faced with the prospect of being apart for a few weeks. Somehow, they'd managed to get themselves into a carriage of their own for a while.

"I never thought I'd say this, but I'm really going to miss you over summer," Draco said, draping his arm around Harry's shoulders. "And I wish I could come and visit you so I could teach those Muggles you live with a lesson in respect."

Harry chuckled, shifting against Draco to get himself more comfortable, resting one hand on Draco's stomach. "I know you do," he said. "But your dad wouldn't allow that and you know it. You'll see my uncle at the train station though."

Draco sighed heavily. "I know. It's a shame," he said. "Maybe one day. It's not fair that they got away with treating you like that for so long."

"I know, but I've managed so far," Harry said. "And it's only another couple of years before I can leave."

Draco nodded. "I'm glad," he said. "What will you be doing this summer?"

"Not a lot," Harry said. "Staying out of Dudley's way I suppose, and counting the days until I go to the Weasley's for the last two weeks of the holidays."

Draco made a face at the mention of the Weasleys. "Have you told him about us yet?"

"No, not yet," Harry admitted. "I'll tell him over the summer I think. Then he's got time to get used to it before we get back to school, and won't come and punch you or anything."

"I'd hope he wouldn't do that anyway," Draco said, looking offended. "He's not a Muggle, even if he acts like one sometimes."

Harry chuckled and patted Draco's stomach gently.

"Will you write?" Draco asked after a few moments.

Harry smiled. "Of course I will," he said, lifting his head to kiss Draco gently. "Every week, at least."

Draco smiled too, pleased that he'd at least get letters from Harry. "Good. I don't want to not speak to you for the whole summer."

"I don't want that either," Harry replied. "It'd be horrible."

Draco nodded, before checking the time. "We're nearly at the station," he said with a slight groan.

Harry gave a groan too. "We'd best get back to our carriages then," he said, not sounding thrilled at the prospect.

Draco nodded. "Have a good summer," he said softly. "And make sure you write."

"I will," Harry said. "Don't let your father bully you into anything this summer."

Draco snorted. "I'll try not to," he said.

Harry smiled and leant in, closing the gap between them and kissing Draco passionately.

Draco brought one hand up to caress Harry's cheek as they kissed, making sure to memorise every second of the kiss, seeing as it was their last for a long while. "I'll see you in a few weeks," he murmured as they parted.

Harry nodded, standing up. "Have a good summer," he said, helping Draco up.

Draco nodded too. He moved to the door to check that there was no-one hanging around, before turning and hugging Harry tightly. "Goodbye, Harry," he said softly, kissing the Gryffindor's cheek before leaving the carriage.

"Goodbye, Draco," Harry replied as the blonde left. He waited a few seconds before leaving the carriage too, going back to Ron and Hermione.

A few minutes later, Platform 9 and 3/4 was full of happy students, shouting and laughing as they met up with their parents. Draco greeted his mother and father as they stood away from the crowd. He looked around for Harry, under the pretence of looking for Pansy. He spotted the Gryffindor standing beside a very large man a little way away. He waited until Harry looked over at him before giving him a small smile and a nod. Harry smiled and nodded back, before turning to run after his uncle. Draco hoped, for once, that summer would pass quickly.


 

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