Find Out Who You Are
You said the air was singing
It's calling you, you don't believe
These things you never see
And never dream
Harry's intention of drawing Malfoy aside and ticking him off properly was foiled by the fact that he was once again surrounded by Slytherins everywhere he went.
He was extraordinarily popular - considering that he was a nasty, inconsiderate little prat who didn't even keep appointments!
Only the prospect of getting a chance to tell him off induced Harry to come to the lake next day.
Being forced into this indignity made him even more annoyed.
What really put the tin lid on it was Malfoy, sitting by the lake and rising to go as he saw Harry.
"What kept you, Potter?" he demanded.
He seemed completely free from guilt.
That did it.
"Where the hell were you last night?"
Malfoy raised one pale eyebrow, seeming mildly surprised at the question.
"I was playing cards in my common room."
"Why?" Harry asked sharply, realising through the anger that he was actually... quite hurt.
Malfoy no longer looked so indifferent.
"Because my housemates asked me, and they're Slytherin."
Harry hurled the question angrily at Malfoy.
Malfoy, who had clearly planned this entire scene, caught it with ease.
"So they always come first," he returned. "You don't understand that, do you? Well - I'm making it clear."
"Making it clear," Harry repeated coldly.
Malfoy began to pace, hands folded behind his back and face impassive.
"Where I stand."
You mean on the edge of a lake with a giant squid in it?
"What are you talking about?" Harry snapped.
"It's a question of loyalty. My loyalty is to Slytherin. Because it has to be.
What does that have to do with keeping appointments?
Harry surprised himself by asking, "Why?" rather than kicking Malfoy into the lake.
Malfoy stopped and turned abruptly towards him. The wind blew back his silver hair and his face seemed less confident without that shining frame.
"Have you never heard something bad said about Slytherin?"
"Heard? I've said bad things about Slytherin," Harry told him. "You lot are cheating bastards at Quidditch."
"Oooh, and the Gryffindor displays unexpected evasive talent. You know damn well what I mean - the general opinion that Slytherin house is a Death Eater training camp."
Harry was aware that his face was betraying him, so he didn't respond.
But he did remember: There wasn't a witch or a wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin.
Malfoy's expression was under much better control. Harry could see no emotion as he observed:
"I see you have. Well, Potter, this is a war, and you know how prejudices explode during war. Every time another person disappears people turn further away from Slytherin. And we don't turn and pander to anyone. We don't play nice with the other children, because playing nice is no fun. We're Slytherins, and that means we're nasty and we're untrustworthy - but not all of us have a burning desire to become minions of the Dark Lord."
"I never said you did," said Harry with an uncomfortable memory of telling a hat: 'Not Slytherin...'
"Is that so?" Malfoy inquired. "You never said a word? You never even listened to that kind of thing? Thought wouldn't have entered your pure little Gryffindor mind?"
Why not just chuck all the Slytherins out?
Harry was quiet.
This exchange was not going at all how Harry had planned.
"That doesn't mean you can-"
"Let you down?" Malfoy smiled. "It does. I can. I will. I want to. Are you clear now?"
"Crystal. You Slytherins have to stick together, so you'll treat me like crap any time you want."
Harry was hoping for some sort of denial. Instead, Malfoy regarded him with a strange smile, and nodded slowly.
"Well..." Harry said. "I don't think that's a great lookout for me."
"Oh, I don't know," Malfoy answered. "You don't have to be particularly polite to me either. I've never put too high a premium on consideration. Be late, be rude, don't show up at all. I suppose I'm offering you a chance not to play nice with the other children, for a change."
He smiled again, somewhat wickedly and more at ease.
"If it doesn't appeal to you, you can sod off. I know I'm not an easy person to l-" He paused, considering. "Be friends with."
Harry thought about it.
He had not... expected the confrontation to go like this. He had anticipated, with a certain amount of foreboding, an angry Gryffindor/nasty Slytherin brat conflict.
Which this had almost been. But... Malfoy had a point.
Harry knew about Slytherins. They went about in gangs. They were fiercely partisan - and that included Snape.
Malfoy was actually - being fair, in a torturous manner. He thought he should give Harry a warning. Malfoy had always been upfront about where he stood.
Harry wasn't sure about this. But he was, after all, a Gryffindor. Gryffindors rushed into things without thinking.
Besides, he was intrigued. If he left now, the curiosity would probably kill him.
He smiled back. "You're an almost impossible person to like, Malfoy. But I think I'm getting the hang of it."
Malfoy looked bored.
"Now you've got that out of your system, get moving."
"Malfoy, I am not going to the pub again... I felt rotten all day yesterday."
"Go to the pub again?" Malfoy looked affronted. "What kind of predictable bastard do you think I am?"
Before Harry could answer, he shook his head.
"No, we're going to the Quidditch pitch."
Harry looked around at the gathering dusk. Considered the fact he was still feeling a bit under the weather.
He looked over at Malfoy and raised his eyebrows.
"Well, I suppose if you're not already tired of getting your ass kicked..."
"Come on, Potter. Show me what you've got."
Harry stared blankly at Malfoy. Malfoy gazed back with expectant poise, as if he was a society gentleman at a poetry reading, rather than a boy sitting on a Quidditch pitch and making a bizarre demand.
Malfoy exhaled. "Yes, you certainly are. Come on, let's see what you can do."
Harry was at a bit of a loss. Malfoy had just cheerfully (and if Harry was any judge, competently) broken into the Quidditch supplies room, taken two brooms, thrown Harry one, flung himself down on the pitch and told him to do...
Harry tossed down the broom and sat down on the other end of the bench.
"Malfoy, what the hell are you talking about?"
"Flying," Malfoy answered, looking at Harry in a perplexed manner, a tiny frown wrinkling his brow. "You know... playing around with your broom..."
Harry became far too scandalised to care what Malfoy looked like when he was bemused.
"Malfoy, if you're implying...!"
Malfoy's eyebrows hit his hairline.
"Good Lord, Potter, you Gryffindors have fevered imaginations. It must be all that staying in and playing chess that does it to you." He paused, brushing aside a wind-displaced lock of hair with a slight smile. "Chess would drive anyone to naughty thoughts."
"I'm not sure you need to be driven, Malfoy," Harry said warily. "Now can you please tell me what you're talking about?"
Malfoy was too busy snickering at him to do any such thing.
Harry would have thought that friendship involved less wanting to smack Malfoy around.
Once Malfoy had stopped, he still insisted on musing along the same lines.
"I can just see Granger and Weasley whiling away these winter hours. 'Just like that, baby, checkmate me hard!'" Harry's quick, instinctive frown made Malfoy shrug. "You're no fun. Oh come on - surely you flew around a bit when you were a kid?"
"Hardly, Malfoy. Raised in a Muggle home, remember? We use brooms to sweep up dirt."
Malfoy's smile was incredulous.
"Bizarre... though I'd rather sweep a floor than try to fly on some brooms people are using these days." He shrugged again, the dismissive gesture of the spoiled brat Harry knew so well. "Yes, but you must have done some flying there. You knew about Quidditch."
"Er - no, I didn't."
Malfoy faced him now, making a gesture of bemusement.
He noticed once more that Malfoy was a great one for talking with his hands. He acted out what he meant to say as easily and cleverly as he acted out his cruel little imitations.
"But... when we first met in the robes shop, I talked about Quidditch and you said you didn't play. And then in our first flying lesson it clearly wasn't your first time on a broom-"
"Yes, it was," Harry interrupted.
A flicker of emotion passed over Malfoy's face.
"Really? I resented that little presumed lie for years." He paused and mulled over something. "Potter... could any of what I said be taken as a left-handed compliment?"
"Yeah, I suppose so."
"Let's pretend it couldn't. I don't do compliments." Malfoy got up, dusting off hands that could not possibly have been dirty. "Now... if you've never done this before, I guess I'm going to have to teach you." He sighed in a martyred fashion. "You are so incredibly tiresome, Potter. All right then - follow my lead, and try not to fall off."
Harry picked up the broom and weighed it in his hand, feeling that familiar rush of confidence.
"Don't worry. I won't. And if you're lucky, I might even try to catch you if you fall."
"Me fall! I wasn't raised among the Muggles."
"No, and you weren't the youngest Seeker in a century either."
Malfoy raised his eyebrows, as if slightly surprised. What he said, however, was - "You'll see, Potter... this isn't exactly Quidditch."
With that, he grabbed his broom and was off.
Harry had forgotten that Malfoy moved like a snake.
He followed him.
It was a windy day, and Harry had to squint to make him out.
He was going very, very high. You normally didn't go too high in Quidditch - it would be counterproductive, since the Snitch often appeared near the ground and never went too far above the hoops.
Harry became slightly nervous when he realised that he couldn't see that well not only because of his hair, but also because of clouds.
"Malfoy!" he yelled. "We're awfully high!"
"Scared, Potter?" Malfoy yelled back.
"Not likely! But these are school brooms - Fred and George Weasley told me that some school brooms vibrate if they're taken up too high!"
Insofar as Harry could make out Malfoy's expression, it seemed interested.
"Did they happen to mention which ones?"
Malfoy shrugged, smiled and turned his broom upside down.
"Malfoy!" Harry made his broom jerk down and met Malfoy's demented and upside down face.
He was laughing.
"Go on, Potter, try it - but hold on tight!"
Harry hesitated. He wasn't crazy enough to try this.
Or perhaps he was.
The whole world seemed to be below him, extremely far below him, and for a moment Harry experienced intense vertigo. There was only his grip on the broom above to save him, he was too high-
It was very exciting.
Harry remembered that this was a broom. He could do anything on a broom.
Malfoy saw he was getting the hang of it and, being the sadistic bastard that he was, switched to something else.
"Not bad, Potter," he said, swerving right side up. "How about this?"
"Malfoy, stop that! You're going to fall!"
Malfoy was standing on his broom, a look of intense concentration on his face.
There was no way Harry was trying this. It was all right for Malfoy, he was graceful on the ground. Harry thought of himself more as a Krum type - he was only graceful when sitting on a broom.
"Too difficult for you, Potter?"
"Not on your life!"
It was at this point that Harry realised the teachers who constantly talked about how reckless he was had a point.
I don't want to do this, he thought as he clambered onto his knees. The broom lurched alarmingly. I don't want to do this, I don't-
He stood up, letting go.
The broom was still sailing forward, and he was just a tremble or a shudder of the stick from free fall. His arms were out for the pathetic amount of balance it would give him, his robes were whipping about him and he was terrified.
"I think I'm going to die!" he yelled.
Malfoy laughed. "Fun?"
"Oh, my hair," Malfoy said mournfully some time afterwards, once they were back on the ground. "That's the worst thing about flying. My hair..."
He was trying unsuccessfully to smooth down the licks of hair that surrounded his face, somewhat like a rumpled halo.
Harry suspected he himself might look a bit like a hedgehog, but he didn't care. He was panting and sweaty, but then of course so was Malfoy. He'd kept up. He thought he'd done pretty well.
So, apparently, did Malfoy. He gave him a rather appraising look.
"That wasn't bad at all, Potter. The first time I tried that trick with the broom I was about two inches off the ground."
Harry gaped. Malfoy continued unremorsefully.
"Well, of course I was. That's bloody dangerous, you know. Do you think I'm some kind of suicidal git?"
"Actually," Harry said in a strangled voice, "yes. I'm two inches from beating you to death with my broomstick."
Malfoy did not seem unduly bothered.
"A bit of practise, Potter, and you'd handle a stick very well."
"And a lot of practise, Malfoy, and you might beat me at Quidditch one day." Harry rolled his eyes. Malfoy looked lofty.
"I really cannot to descend to this kind of childish quibbling with you."
"Oh, push off, Potter. I'll see you tomorrow." Malfoy looked thoughtful. "I think we'll do something that does not involve damage to the hair."
"Slytherins are so vain," Harry remarked. "And with so little reason for it."
Malfoy scowled. "Go brush your hair, Potter. You look like a hedgehog."
The next day, Harry all but had his cloak on when something occurred to him.
I suppose I'm offering you a chance not to play nice with the other children.
It wasn't so much about that. It was - that Harry wasn't going to just take Malfoy's behaviour. He never did take any of Malfoy's crap.
He also wanted to see if Malfoy had meant it.
Slowly, Harry replaced the cloak. Then he went into the common room.
"Ron? Up for a game of Exploding Snap?"
Ron agreed with a swift delight that Harry was certain wouldn't have been in place had Harry not lately spent an inordinate amount of time hanging around with Draco Malfoy.
So he stayed in the comfortable warmth of the common room, and the fact that he could have been somewhere else with someone else, that he could be absolutely sure they wanted him here... made everything a good deal more pleasant.
Exploding Snap was somewhat impeded by Harry and Ron's enthusiastic discussion of how Ron had finally pulled off the Wronski Feint. He was their most energetic but least technically skilled Chaser.
Hermione, reading her latest book by the fire, rolled her eyes on their third replay.
"Women in the Muggle world complain about homoerotica and male obsession in football," she commented. "They should really try living in a world where the sport of choice has four balls and the players are mounted on flying phallic symbols."
"Snap," Harry said, taking advantage of this weak moment.
Ron recovered, albeit looking at them both in an aggrieved manner.
"Though even if you are cheating, Harry," he continued, after reproaching them roundly, "it's nice to have you around again."
"Yes, we're both quite fond of you," Hermione said, smiling over her book. "Can't imagine why."
"Don't be thick," Harry replied. "You're my best friends."
"Mind you don't forget it," Hermione admonished. "I still can't believe you're voluntarily spending time with Malfoy. It's sheer masochism."
"Oh, I don't know," Harry said, laying down a card. "He hasn't been so bad."
"I still say it's some kind of trick," Ron said, scowling. "You wouldn't catch him being halfway decent to anyone else."
Harry mulled this one over.
"There's an idea."
"What - what's an idea?" Ron looked vaguely panicked.
"Oh, nothing." Harry laid down another card. "By the way, Snap!"
Once the smoke cleared, he grinned.
"And the game is mine."
The next day, Harry walked to the lake determined to wait only five minutes.
To his slight surprise, Malfoy was there first. His long black cloak looked incongruous with jeans and a T-shirt, but since he was Malfoy he carried it off superbly.
"Keep me waiting, would you," he said.
"I'm sorry for not turning up yesterday," Harry told him, suddenly impelled to provoke a reaction. "I had to spend some time with the Gryffindors."
Malfoy looked blank. "Oh, you weren't here? Didn't notice. Come on, Potter-"
Malfoy raised an interrogative eyebrow.
"We keep doing what you want to do," Harry explained. "I want a turn."
Malfoy looked baleful. "I like always doing what I want to do."
"I'd noticed," Harry said dryly. "Come on, Malfoy."
"Where do you want me to go?"
"Well." Harry paused. "It's like this. Ron said you couldn't be halfway decent to anyone-"
"What?" Malfoy exploded. "The cheek of him!"
Harry nodded sagely. "So I thought we should prove him wrong."
"Bloody right. How dare he, I'm a Malfoy, I was brought up to have impeccable manners..." Malfoy kept muttering along these lines as Harry guided him towards his destination.
Who knew, he thought. It might cure fear on both sides, and it might... you know... go some way towards proving that Malfoy might be a halfway decent person. It might be good for him.
And it had the potential to be extremely amusing.
"I'll show him, the total..." Malfoy looked up, and his eyes widened in alarm. "Potter. What are we doing here?"
"Proving that you can be halfway decent," Harry answered innocently.
"Not here I can't be! No, absolutely not! Let me go this instant!"
Harry seized hold of Malfoy's arm and knocked on Hagrid's door at the same time.
Hagrid opened the door almost at once, and stared at Harry, who was holding on determinedly to a ferociously struggling Malfoy.
"Hi," Harry gasped. "Can I come to tea? I brought a friend."
He shoved Malfoy inside.
Malfoy's face was white in the light of Hagrid's hall.
Out of the corner of his mouth, he said: "Potter, you will die for this."
"What is it, Malfoy?" Harry whispered. "Scared?"
Malfoy's eyes narrowed. "Oh, hardly."
"Then prove it."
Hagrid was still looking at them in an extremely startled manner. Harry saw Malfoy's look up at Hagrid. All the way up.
He also saw the reflexive curl of his lip.
Come on, Malfoy...
Malfoy stopped sneering with a visible effort. "Nice house," he said with only the barest trace of disdain. "Er - relatively speaking. As compared to the hut."
It was rather a nice house, actually. When Beauxbatons had become so depleted it had to be closed, Madame Maxime had insisted on a house.
Harry wondered if this was Malfoy trying to be nice. It didn't seem that different from Malfoy at all other times.
Hagrid shot a look at Harry that said: What the hell is he doing here?
Harry tried to appear unconcerned.
Hagrid cleared his throat. "Er - I guess yeh'd better come in, then."
"Thanks," Harry told him quickly, grabbing Malfoy's shirt and propelling him forward.
"Cease manhandling me, Potter," Malfoy hissed. "I said I'd prove Weasley wrong and I will."
He yanked himself free and strode into the sitting room, where Madame Maxime was sitting over the cradle.
Malfoy tossed his hair back and a determined expression crossed his face that Harry knew from Quidditch matches.
Malfoy usually got that look just before a spectacular foul.
He smiled brilliantly, walked over to Madame Maxime and kissed her hand.
Oh my God! What the hell is he playing at?
"So good of you to have me," said Malfoy, gazing deep into her eyes.
Madame Maxime actually blushed. "Charmed."
"Do you want to see ze baby?" inquired Madame Maxime, still a little flushed.
"I'd be delighted," Malfoy replied smoothly.
This was becoming a love fest.
She actually placed the baby in Malfoy's arms. This was a mark of great favour.
Malfoy almost fell down. He shot Harry a look that said Help me! and Harry, repressing a grin, went over to help Malfoy support the baby.
"Guess 'ow old she is," Madame Maxime said, giving the child a fond look.
"Er - four," guessed Malfoy.
"Aren't you clever? She is exactly four months."
"Months?" Malfoy said, still staggering under the weight. "I mean, ah - I'm a good guesser."
"My leetle girl," cooed Madame Maxime.
"And what a beautiful little girl it is too," Malfoy said winningly.
Hagrid visibly softened. Which meant he was still looking at Malfoy as most people looked at a Blast-Ended Skrewt, but as most people did before it stung them.
Hagrid was besotted with his daughter, despite her lack of fangs and surplus heads.
"Sit down, both of you, and 'ave some tea," Madame Maxime invited them graciously.
Malfoy gratefully relinquished the baby. When they took their places around the tea table, Harry caught him surreptitiously trying to massage life back into his arms.
"The rock cakes look really good, Mad - Mrs Hagrid," Harry said.
He really would have to get used to that. They had been married, after all, for a year and a half. It hadn't taken him long to get used to the improved standard of cooking at Hagrid's.
"Do call me Olympe," she urged sweetly. "Both of you."
"What a lovely name," said Malfoy.
I can't take him anywhere.
"Come 'ave some tea, Ruby," Madame Maxime said.
Malfoy tried to hide a smile behind his teacup.
Hagrid went a bit red.
"Ruby loves tea," Madame Maxime proceeded, her voice growing just a touch steely. "Nevaire drinks anyzing else."
Hagrid began to look gloomy. Malfoy was desperately trying to suppress a snigger with his cup.
"Must be a great comfort to you," he said in a rather choked voice. "Tell me, Olympe, when are you next visiting France?"
"I am not sure," Madame Maxime replied. "It is a great sorrow to me. France is such a beautiful country."
"It is, isn't it?" Malfoy agreed. "I went to Bordeaux last summer with my mother."
Madame Maxime glowed. "You 'ave been to France?"
Malfoy and Madame Maxime began a spirited conversation about France. Harry gave Hagrid a rather helpless smile.
Hagrid brightened as he took this opportunity for a confidential talk.
"Got a letter from Charlie Weasley the other day," he said. "Norbert's the leader o' his herd now. Disembowelled another dragon ter do it," Hagrid added proudly.
"Er - that's great, Hagrid."
Malfoy had tilted his head towards them.
"Was that the dragon you had back in first year?" he inquired in conversational tones. "He was gorgeous."
Harry blinked. "You - you like dragons?"
"Oh, yes. My father taught me all about them. That's why he called me Draco. He loved them too," Malfoy said. "Well, that's why I didn't turn you all in right away. I wanted another look at it. It was a Norwegian Ridgeback, right?"
Hagrid thawed further. "Yeh."
"I think they're my favourites," Malfoy told him.
Harry relaxed. What had he been worrying about? After all, Hagrid liked nasty creatures.
"Do come back soon," Madame Maxime said at the doorway, her eyes fixed approvingly on Malfoy.
Hagrid still looked dubious, for which Harry could hardly blame him, but he cleared his throat and conceded,
"I s'pose yeh can, an' all."
As the door closed, they clearly heard Madame Maxime say,
"Such a nice boy."
Malfoy gave the door a triumphant look.
"Tell Weasley that," he ordered Harry. "Ha. Ha. I think my manners were perfect."
"What about when Hagrid offered some of his personal cookery and you said: 'Are you trying to kill me, man?'"
"Ah. I see."
"Not that I am ever forgiving you for doing that to me," Malfoy continued. "For a start, I think holding that child has crippled me. How would you feel if I took you on a social call to visit Professor Snape tomorrow?"
"You won't, will you?" Harry asked in horror.
"Of course not. I like the man. Why should I inflict your company on him?" Malfoy looked thoughtful. "No, I have something else in mind for tomorrow."
"What?" Harry asked apprehensively.
Malfoy smiled beatifically. "You'll see."
"The Forbidden Forest? You're mental. You're absolutely stark raving mad. I can't believe I'm doing this."
"It's my turn, and I get to choose," Malfoy said obstinately, surveying the forest in a leisurely manner. "And I feel like a nice nature walk."
"Nature walk? Malfoy, do you remember the last time we were in the Forest?"
"Well, yes. But I feel the Dark Lord is unlikely to be wandering around the Forest these days. He's a bit busy, if you hadn't noticed."
"There are other dangerous things around here. And as I recall, in a crisis you tend to pelt off screaming like a girl."
"As opposed to being frozen with terror? Yes, that's a much more sensible thing to do... I thought you were right behind me, you pillock. And I was not screaming like a girl." Malfoy looked around at the forest in a proprietorial fashion. "It was a - manly yell."
Harry smiled, and followed Malfoy, who was stalking forward. He was beginning to realise that Slytherins had extremely strange ideas about what constituted a good time.
Not that Malfoy had been exactly wrong about what constituted a good time.
"You have to wonder why they put a school right next to a terrifying forest of doom," Malfoy said casually. "I suppose they think a certain amount of blinding fear builds character."
Harry felt that if this was the case, his character should be truly impressive.
Actually, this forest seemed much less blindly terrifying than he remembered it as a child. The fading light made the leaves seem almost transparent, and cast faint green shadows on the pale surface of Malfoy's hair.
Harry relaxed fractionally. "I suppose it's not so bad."
Malfoy looked smug.
"I guess I just have nasty memories of it. Those giant spiders that tried to eat me and Ron..." Harry shuddered.
Malfoy stopped looking smug.
He also stopped walking.
"You're not serious."
Malfoy's face was always pale. It might have been Harry's imagination that made him think he looked paler just now.
"You are serious," Malfoy said, staring at him. "You maniac! How could you let me come in here?"
"This was your idea-"
"I'm not the one who knew about the bloodthirsty arachnids!"
Malfoy spun around and began to walk back at speed.
Harry was trying not to laugh. "What about fear building character?"
"My character's built enough," Malfoy snapped. "Besides-"
He stopped, listening. Harry heard the rustle of leaves behind him and saw Malfoy's grey eyes widen.