Harry grinned as the wind ruffled his unruly black hair. He’d spotted the snitch just a while ago and was rotating slowly on his broomstick. His eyes scanned the stands, the pitch—there. The snitch was hovering about a foot above the sandy bottom of the goal posts. Harry tipped the end of the broom down, then rocketed downwards. The wind whistled past his ears, which was why he almost didn’t hear the emergency stop whistle. He swung round on his broomstick in a rage. Hadn’t Madam Hooch seen him dive for the snitch? Didn’t she know that he could have won for Gryffindor?
The players were slowly grouping at the bottom of the pitch. Harry joined them, floating downwards until he could hear the angry voices of the group, but staying just above them. As he watched from his elevated position, he saw one of the Slytherin players being taken aside. The white—blond hair of Draco Malfoy was instantly recognisable, and Harry watched with mild interest as Professor McGonnagle led him towards a shady area of the pitch. He hoped Malfoy was in trouble.
He could see Mcgonnagle’s mouth move, and watched as she placed a hand on Malfoy’s shoulder. She seemed to say one more sentence before Malfoy’s legs gave out from under him and he crumpled to the ground. Harry watched in astonishment as McGonnagle dropped to her knees beside him and gently urged him to his feet. She put her arm around Malfoy’s shoulder and walked him back into the castle. Harry puzzled over what he had just seen before the whistle shrilled that play would resume. All thoughts of Draco Malfoy driven from his mind, Harry began scanning once again for the snitch.
Harry’s wet hair was sending trickles of cold water running down his spine. It wasn’t an entirely unpleasant sensation but wasn’t made any better by the cold dungeon air. He still couldn’t believe that he was down here. What did he care if Draco Malfoy received bad news? What happened to he’s my arch nemesis; I hope he falls out of a tree? Harry was driven out of his reverie by his sudden arrival at the Slytherin common room door. Even though he was in his last year at Hogwarts, the castle’s disturbing way of shifting and moving still bemused him. Raising his fist nervously, he rapped sharply on the dungeon wall, half hoping that no one would hear him. Apparently, he wasn’t going to be that lucky.
The door—or rather, the wall—was opened by a burly looking Slytherin, whom Harry recognized as the beater from the Slytherin Quidditch team. He glanced at Harry’s Gryffindor tie.
‘Whaddya want?’ he snarled. Harry reeled back, trying to ignore his repulsive breath. Squaring his shoulders, he raised his voice so that everyone in the room behind could hear him.
‘I want to speak to Draco Malfoy.’ Harry considered for a moment, then added, ‘I have a message from…ah…Professor Snape.’ The burly Slytherin nodded, apparently satisfied.
‘Wait ‘ere.’ The door slammed shut once more, leaving Harry waiting outside, pondering what he was going to say. He didn’t have long to think before Malfoy materialised in front of him.
Eighteen year old Draco Malfoy was not much different from his 11 year old self. His hair was still blindingly white-blond, and his eyes still a piercing, icy blue. His face was more angular though, with cheekbones that cut sharply beneath his eyes and a set, determined jaw. Harry swallowed, not quite sure of what to say.
‘Umm… I uh, sorta don’t have a message, it’s just, I uh…saw McGonnagle talking to you.’ Malfoy’s face went—if this was even possible—even paler than its natural near white. Harry decided to push on before Malfoy hexed him.
‘I just wondered if you were…you know…okay?’ Malfoy stared blankly into Harry’s eyes.
‘My parents are dead. Killed in a freak magical accident. So, no, I’m not okay. I’m far from okay, Potter. I’m anything but okay.’ Malfoy clenched his jaw, then turned on his heel and stalked back into his common room. Harry closed his eyes and had to resist the urge to slap his forehead with his palm. Great job, Harry. Now you’ve really made him feel better. Shaking his head, he made a promise to himself. He was going to befriend Draco Malfoy if it killed him. It was better than being bored, anyway.
‘No.’ Hermione stood in front of Harry with her arms firmly crossed. ‘I am not going to agree to befriend Draco Malfoy just because you’re bored.’ Harry sighed.
‘It’s not just because I’m bored; it’s because I get the feeling he’s not going to tell anyone else, and it’d be nice for him to have a friend who knew about it. And you’ve seen how everyone treats him. They act like he’s going to go over to the dark side at any time. Can’t we just try?’ Harry could see that Hermione was wavering, and decided to pull his last card. ‘I’d have thought you of all people would be the first to help someone in need.’ Hermione twisted her lips from side to side to side, then flapped her arms in defeat.
‘Fine. But if this all backfires badly, which it will, you’ve got to take the blame. Deal?’ Harry smiled. If Hermione agreed, then Ron would too.
Harry hurried to potions with papers spilling out of his arms. The last year at Hogwarts was quite relaxing, mainly just deciding a career, and then spending the rest of the time terrorising the juniors. The only assignment in each class was of your choice, and for potions, Harry had decided to research polyjuice potion. He arrived at the dungeon room just in time. Looking around the room, he saw two empty seats: one next to Hermione and Ron, and another next to Malfoy. Winking gleefully at Ron, Harry slid in next to the Slytherin, who for so long had been his arch nemesis.
Malfoy glanced up as he sensed Harry’s presence. In light of recent events, he had grown accustomed to sitting and studying alone.
Harry flashed him a grin. ‘Looks like we’ll be partners!’
Malfoy glared at him, his lip curling. ‘I don’t want your sympathy, you git. Go spread your goodwill to some other loser.’
Harry simply shook his head. ‘You won’t get rid of me that easily. In fact, I’ve memorised your timetable. You won’t be able to get rid of me at all.’ At the expression of horror dawning on Malfoy’s face, Harry simply smiled wider. Before he could tease Malfoy further, however, Slughorn entered the room, and their presentations commenced.
Malfoy glanced covertly over the top of his book again. When Potter had said that he wasn’t going to be able to get rid of him, he hadn’t been lying. For the past week, Malfoy hadn’t had a moment’s peace. All his best shortcuts had proved useless, as Potter already seemed to know them all. Even when he escaped to the Slytherin common room, he would come out only to see Potter’s face grinning up at him from the floor where he would wait. But, in spite of their past rocky relationship, Malfoy was glad for the company. It meant that he had no time to fully mourn his parents, and despite his annoying optimism, Potter really was quite nice. Not that Malfoy would admit this, even under the Cruciatus curse.
They were in the library now, Malfoy reading a book titled ‘Why not to mess with wizards’ about how the wizards always ultimately triumphed over every obstacle in their path; and Potter reading his way through a stack of Quidditch books. They had been in here for almost an hour, and Malfoy had discovered that it was the best time to study the Potter boy.
Seven years had changed the painfully thin face that Malfoy had first seen at Madam Malkin’s. The Potter boy had an easy, almost lazy way of looking good. His face easily split with a wide grin, and his eyes would light up like green lamps. Malfoy envied his smile. As much as he tried to, he was only able to twist his features into a sour smirk. It was hard to make friends when you couldn’t smile. Malfoy ducked his head behind his book again as the Potter boy glanced at him. ‘What?’
Malfoy pretended to act confused. ‘What what? I mean, what do you mean, what?’
‘You’ve been staring at me for the past ten minutes, that’s what.’
Again Malfoy snorted. ‘Free country. If you didn’t want to be stared at, shouldn’t follow me round.’
Harry shrugged, then stopped mid-shrug with an idea. ‘How about a deal?’
Malfoy eyed him uncertainly. ‘A deal?’
‘I follow you around for one more day, and if in that time I can get you to smile, I get to keep following you round. If, however, I fail, I stop. Deal?’ Malfoy checked his expression, trying to keep it neutral. If he agreed to this, Harry would undoubtedly have to stop. But if he didn’t, it would seem like he liked this. He did, but if he ever even implied that, his life would be over. He clenched his teeth.
8.00. ‘Morning!’ Harry weaved his way over to where Malfoy was sitting. He received only a glare in return, but he knew now that that was Malfoy’s way of saying hello. Or at least, he liked to think it was. ‘Thought we’d go to Hogsmeade, seeing as it’s a weekend. Grab some butter beer, maybe. Or—or we could go to the shrieking shack? Wait, I know—’
‘Don’t say Zonko’s.’ Harry punched the air, ignoring the curious stares that he received.
‘Yes! Step one, complete! I got it to talk!’ Harry allowed himself three sausages, to celebrate his victory.
10.00. ‘Did-didn’t th-think it w-would be th-this c-c-cold.’ Harry wrapped his scarf more tightly around his neck. Malfoy rolled his eyes.
‘I s-suppose that th-this is your m-master plan to make me sm-smile.’ Harry sighed ruefully, and gasped as the cold wind scorched his throat, which in turn only made it worse. He ended up doubled up on the ground, coughing. Malfoy heaved him up.
‘Let’s g-go to the Three Br-broomsticks. M-maybe warmth w-will help you re-reclaim your s-sanity.’ Malfoy eyed the coughing boy next to him. ‘A-although I d-doubt it.’
11.00. ‘I’m really really sorry. I honestly didn’t notice that I was doing it.’ Malfoy stopped his stalking through the Hogwarts halls.
‘How could you not have noticed that you were dripping hot butterbeer onto my leg? And then, to top it all off, you spray me with a bloody fire hose!’ Malfoy hissed.
Harry wrung his hands. ‘I couldn’t think straight! And besides, you can’t leave now, I’ve still got…’ He checked his watch. ‘Thirteen hours left!’ Malfoy frowned.
‘I wasn’t leaving. I was just going to change.’ Harry blinked.
12.00. The two boys stood side by side in the green house. Harry took a deep breath.
‘I honestly didn’t think that it would explode.’
‘And cover us with pus.’
‘And then commit suicide.’
‘By asphyxiating itself in your shirt.’
Malfoy picked a stray piece of deranged cactus off his formerly pristine school shirt.
‘I think we’ll need to change again.’
2.00.This time, nothing will go wrong,’ Harry declared. Malfoy glanced at him dubiously. They were seated on the back of a hippogriff, which was about to fling itself off the top of the astronomy tower. Saying a silent prayer, Malfoy tightened his grip around the Potter boy’s waist. He was starting to sympathise with the suicidal cactus.
4.00.’I give up.’
Malfoy glanced at his downtrodden, soaking wet companion. He himself hadn’t said a word since the hippogriff, in a fit of high spirits, had catapulted them into the lake.‘But you’ve still got eight hours left.’
Harry shook his head. ‘Doesn’t matter. You didn’t even smile when I told you that dragon walks into a bar joke.’
‘Maybe because you forgot the punch line.’
Harry flapped his hands.‘Phht. Not the point. My point is—’ Harry spun to face Malfoy. ‘Nothing I’ve done has even made you smirk. There’s no point to this if you’ll never smile.’ Malfoy gazed unblinkingly into Harry’s green, green eyes.
‘So if I did smile, you’d know it was something worth smiling about. Right?’ Harry nodded. Malfoy bit the inside of his cheek. He was glad that they had been washed up to the edge of the forest where no one could see them. ‘Look. Nothing you do makes me smile—but you—you do.’
Harry frowned. ‘I don’t get it.’
Malfoy rolled his eyes to the sky. ‘Harry—’
‘What did you just call me?’
Malfoy looked into those green eyes again.‘Harry.’
The Potter boy was visibly stumped. Malfoy had to stop himself from reaching out and shaking him. God, he’d make an intelligent monkey, but things like emotions and feelings seemed to be out of his reach. Harry tilted his head to one side, considering. In one moment, everything that they had done and said over that past week was starting to make sense. Before he could change his mind, Harry leaned forwards—and kissed Draco Malfoy. Leaning back, he was sure that he saw him smile.