I don't own Harry Potter, JKR does
Chapter 1: The Astronomy Tower Should Really Have a Railing
Harry hurried back to the common room. Before he could give in to the tiredness from the Quidditch practice, he had a Potions essay to finish. He felt like his eyelids weighted a ton. Despite the pressing deadlines he had stayed out past everyone. Flying was one of the few activities that didn't include people needing things from him. The curfew had always been more of a guideline to older students, hadn't it?
One flight of stairs away from his bed – homework, he corrected himself – he was stopped by a person. Glancing at the man in front of him a small part of his brain wished it had been Filch.
Harry felt his heart racing, tiredness pushed to a deeper part of his brain.
"Potter," a cold voice greeted.
"I don't have time for this, Malfoy," Harry tried to reason, "I have to conjure up a potions essay and Hermione is busy tonight. I want to get at least a couple of hours of sleep." He didn't really expect Malfoy to understand. The royal prick would probably only take twice as long to get lost.
"I can do your homework," Malfoy said, leaving Harry's mouth open for a moment, his eyes narrowing in suspicion soon after.
"And why in the world would you do that?"
"I…" Malfoys sneered and his imperturbable posture shattered leaving a very irritated young man. He clenched his teeth together and rubbed his forehead with his fingers leaving red marks. "I need…" he stopped again.
Harry's eyes widened realising what he was getting at. Reminding himself not to be naïve he rolled his eyes.
The blond pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Can you…" his wand lit up causing Malfoy to stop mid-sentence and he bit his lip. Harry noticed because a dark red drop of blood appeared before he slid his tongue over it and covered his mouth with his pale, lean fingers.
"Fuck," he breathed angrily, looking like he would rather be anywhere but here and do anything but whatever he was doing. "Listen, Potter..." He briefly looked at Harry and looked away again, furrowing his brows in distaste. "Can you just come with me?"
Harry was speechless. Malfoy was acting so weird and he hadn't insulted him once.
"I just…" His wand lit up with more fiercely and Malfoy looked at it alarmed. "There is nothing you should be afraid of. Just... Somebody needs your help."
He looked at Harry who was regarding the blond, weighing his options.
"I swear to god Malfoy, if you're messing with me..." Harry shook his head. The blond was way out of character to be lying. Hopefully.
"I am not. We need to hurry," he said, setting off down the corridor.
Harry followed Malfoy, wondering what had happened. When Malfoys drawn wand exploded in a set of new sparkles, the blond completely lost his cool.
"Shit!" he growled, picking up the pace.
They were rapidly approaching the Astronomy tower, Harry barely keeping up with Malfoy who was now running full speed. He had never seen Malfoy out of his own skin like this, the blond, Harry realised, was worried. Furrowing his brows, Harry took out his wand. Their steps echoed from the walls as they approached the landing on top of the tower. There Malfoy stopped, breathing heavily, Harry passed him, looking around for danger, but all he saw was flashbacks, wind and darkness.
He turned to look at Malfoy, annoyed.
The blond didn't look at him, he shoved Harry aside, looking around shakenly.
"Pansy?" he called. "Pansy, I swear to Merlin's left buttock..." He frantically looked around, Harry almost felt tempted to say something comforting. Malfoy looked so anxious, so human. "If I just willingly spent five minutes running around with scar-head for no reason, I will be livid."
And there goes my sympathy, Harry thought, rolling his eyes and postponing his annoyance. The girl in question stepped out of the shadows, wand in her hand, the wind lashing her short hair around. She looked small, face shining with tears, Harry realised shocked.
"Thank you, Draco," she said, her voice uneven.
"What is going on?" Harry demanded. Two against one was no fair, but then, when had Slytherins played fair? Since Voldemort lost? Apparently not.
"I need to say something." Pansy choked, her voice broken, tears streaming from her red eyes. She wiped her cheeks with her hand, looking up, forcing a deep breath.
Malfoy was staring, his face frozen wand still in his hand, beaming light upon the three of them. Harry was dumbstruck, he had been mentally preparing for potion homework, not hysterical Slytherin girls on top of a tower.
"Potter, don't be stupid," Malfoy ordered, his voice too high for him to be as calm as he appeared. Hysterical is a more appropriate description, Harry decided, affronted by the out of the blue command. "Pansy, listen, I got him here, like you asked." The usually stone-cold Slytherin was begging her, Harry realised in shock. "You say what you have to and then we will go back to the common room and do whatever you want. I promise, anything."
Pansy's eyes snapped from the ceiling to her house-mate, tears still flowing down her face despite her attempts to wipe them off.
"Even colour your hair?" she asked smiling painfully.
"Anything," Malfoy promised without a falter.
"Liar," she determined, taking a step backward. Her dress caught a draft, surging around her shaking knees.
Malfoy stared at her frozen, Harry stepped forward feeling uneasy. Malfoy was ready to promise anything, Parkinson was dressed in a fancy dress, her makeup was smeared, her hair looked like it had been carefully arranged in locks that now were being destroyed by the wind. Everything was confusing.
Malfoy stepped forward, but Pansy had her wand ready before he could reach her, she took one more step towards the edge.
"Don't," she ordered. "You know, if you lose consciousness, your amateur spell goes with you."
Malfoy stepped back, lifting his hands, teeth gritted. He looked past his shoulder to Harry who was standing by the entrance, the silvery eyes felt like daggers.
"Potter," Pansy said, moving her hair from her face with a shaky hand. "I apologize."
"I don't have a handy excuse, but I am sorry," she said, her jaw shaking from the sobs she was so masterfully keeping concealed. "I was so scared that I would be killed."
Her eyes were boring in to Harry with deep sorrow.
"I regret saying that stupid thing, I regret ever thinking that the Dark Lord was anything but a madman."
Harry shifted from feet to feet. Why was she saying that?
"Now that that's said, I feel better," she said, but her expression didn't convey anything other than suffering. "Bye, Draco."
"Pansy!" Malfoy moved his wand, a silvery net revealing itself at the edge of the tower.
The words hanging in the air the witch stepped backward leaving only one step between her and the edge. Harry finally spurred in to motion, realising what she was planning.
"Parkinson," he said in shock. "What the hell are you doing? Listen to me… Pansy," he growled anger rising from the pit of his stomach. "You can't undo what has been done by one more death. Do you hear me?"
The dark-haired girl was standing on the edge, her watery eyes glued to Harry.
"Don't scream at her!" Malfoy shouted over the wind.
"Sorry, right. Pansy," Harry took a deep breath. "You claim that you're sorry…"
"I am!" she cried, covering her shaking lips with her even more violently shaking hand.
"Then prove it. Rise above your mistakes. Be better. Your death will not correct anything, it will only hurt more people." With each statement Harry stepped closer to the erratic girl, who stared at him like he was the Jesus risen again. When he mentioned hurting people, her eyes jumped to Malfoy guiltily.
"I tried to give you out to the Dark Lord… don't you think I deserve death?" she breathed, her words coming out with such effort that they seemed to be cutting her throat.
"Nobody deserves death, besides, if I had gone to Voldemort then and there much less people would have died."
Pansy trembled but she didn't fall backward, Harry called that a victory.
"Come with me," he extended his hand.
"You can't be serious," she said, her lips axing a bitter smile on her face. Regarding Harry's serious expression, her agony-induced smile transitioned to violent sobs. Harry caught her by her elbows when her legs gave out, Malfoy joined them on the cold stone floor that must have frosted his bare legs.
All of Pansy's body shook, her wand rolling out of her hand. Malfoy pocketed it, puling Pansy in to a tight hug.
"I told you golden Potter doesn't want your death," he blurted, burying his face in Pansy's hair. Her body was tremoring, as she gripped at the blond boy's waist and wept.
Harry sat back, his heart still racing, the thought of another death – even if it was Pansy Parkinson – filled him with morbid dread. He clasped his clammy hands around himself, leaning back, resting his head against the wall. It was cold, wonderfully absorbing his surging anger and sadness.
When Pansy started to muss about her hair again, letting go of Malfoy, who had stoically moved between her and the edge, Harry got up. His stomach was howling for some food, besides some half-read article he had once seen said that food elevated happiness levels and shit.
"Are you hungry?" he asked. "Let's go to the kitchens, I thing we need a midnight hot chocolate and something sickeningly sugary."
Pansy looked at him, but reverted her eyes again, her eyes overflowing with tears again. Malfoy stiffly placed a hand on her shoulder, but his eyes were watching Harry.
"I think that's a splendid idea," he said. "Hear that, Pans? I just agreed with Harry Potter. Isn't this an eventful day?"
Pansy didn't look at them but her head tilted in a short nod. Face still hidden behind her hands, she got up. The Slytherins followed Harry, who marched forward inconspicuously glancing at the Marauders map, which had so conveniently stayed open. The long journey to the kitchens was luckily uneventful, except for when Pansy had met Harry's eyes and collapsed in sobs again. To her credit she was up and walking in ten seconds, wiping her eyes and refusing Malfoy's help.
Reaching the big painting that covered the entrance, Harry searched for the giggly pear. After tickling the one, he pulled the door open with a victorious smile, looking to his unlikely companions. Pansy was still sniffling with her arms around her, her eyebrows raised in slight surprise, Malfoy was wearing an unreadable expression.
Harry motioned them to enter, but they both stayed in places regarding him suspiciously. Smile turning sour, Harry stomped in to the kitchens first, rolling his eyes. It was dark, but as soon as Harry entered the big room, a house-elf appeared, his eyes drowsy from sleeping.
"I'm sorry to disturb you, but we had a situation," Harry said.
"Of course, Master Potter, sir. It's no trouble," the elf squeaked, bowing to the ground. "Say what you and your friends need and Finny will have it right away, Master Potter."
"Hot chocolate and snacks?" Harry looked back to the two Slytherins standing by the entrance questioningly.
Pansy only rubbed her eyes, but Malfoy said something.
"What was that?" Harry asked trying to keep the usual edge out of his voice. This was really not the time to pick a fight, besides Malfoy looked devilish – his feet bare, hair wild, eyes darting back to Pansy again and again.
"Lemon cake," he repeated. "It's Pans' favourite."
"Thank you, Finny," Harry added after the small figure had bowed and nodded.
"It's my pleasure Master Potter, sir. Please sit, sirs and lady," he said pointing to the corner of the big hall. The fireplace there lit up, illuminating a couch and two soft-looking chairs around a low table. The rest of the gigantic room stayed in shadows, quiet.
Harry slouched down in one chair, watching as Malfoy and Parkinson sat on the couch. Finny ran over to the girl with a box of tissues, worriedly eying her.
"Mistress, say anything you need. Finny wants to help," he said.
Pansy couldn't even take the tissues, she started shaking so hard, eyes leaking like spring's floods. Finny's eyes widened in horror.
"I'm sorry mistress, lady, please, forgive me," he cried.
"Finny, Finny, it's okay, she is just dealing with a lot of feelings right now," Harry tried to explain unsurely. To his surprise Malfoy looked at the elf with no intent of killing him.
"Just bring us the snacks," he said. Harry suspected he wasn't all that confident as you could think from his tone. The house-elf nodded eagerly, already retreating to the other side of the hall.
Sniffling Pansy blew her nose with a loud noise, Malfoy, despite the roll of his eyes, offered Pansy to lean on him as she wiped her face.
"I – I am fine, ho-honestly," she said, fanning her face with her hand and blinking rapidly.
"Is that why you sound like the fucking Santa? Don't bullshit me Pans. I am not in the mood," Malfoy growled, forcing her to look up to him. The corners of her lips slightly tugged up as she shoved Malfoy for the Santa comment.
"You're not su-supposed to see me like this a-at all. It was not going to matter, but now…" she dropped her hands in her lap, closing her eyes.
"It will stay between us or I will curse Potter right here and now," Malfoy glared at the Gryffindor in question.
Before Harry could muster a proper response, Pansy opened one eye. Seeing how serious Malfoy was her trembling chest moved in lighter way - a shaky half-giggle that ended in a choked sob.
"Duel for my ho-honour… why, Draco, I didn't know you were re-ready to lose to Potter for me. That's so sweet," she said patting Malfoy's knee. The blond looked at her incredulously, while Harry stared at the girl who already looked less like the wreck she had been on the roof.
"What?" Malfoy spat. "You can't possibly think I would lose to Potter."
"Draco, he killed the Dark Lord, I think we would all lose to him."
This day just keeps getting weirder and weirder, Harry concluded, staring at the girl. Malfoy was also staring, if he wouldn't have been so worried about Pansy, Harry suspected that facial expression could be his type of hurt. Now he looked more affronted than anything, his mouth opened and closed a couple of times as he wrapped his mind around his friend's words.
Before any of the boys could recover, Finny appeared, balancing a tray with three steaming mugs. He set them on the table in the middle, eying Pansy with a sad look. Harry wondered if house-elves often had to look after wrecked students. The raven-head thanked him again, earning a deep bow from Finny and an annoyed glare from Malfoy. Harry raised his eyebrows, asking 'what?' without actually voicing his irritation.
Malfoy looked like he was about to tell him exactly what, but Pansy sniffled again attracting Malfoy's attention. When his argent eyes returned to Harry, he had already suppressed his temper.
Harry made himself comfortable in the chair, as the silence was as far from comfortable as it could get… still... They weren't actively killing each other so that was something. Wrapping fingers around the mug he realised just how cold he had been and tucked his feet deeper under his bum. Pansy was sprawled on the couch, her dress spread out, her feet neatly tucked to the side. She really had gone all out to make sure her corpse looked good, Harry shivered. Pre-planned suicides were even more terrifying than the spontaneous ones.
"Quit, staring at me like that," Pansy demanded, in a quiet voice, meeting Harry's eyes over her hot chocolate. Her brown eyes were glistening with tears and her lip quivering as her hands shook clasped around the mug like it was her last life-line. To Harry's best knowledge, it was. He sighed, he needed to know some things.
"Sorry," he started, not really knowing how to breach the topic. "Pansy..."
Malfoy kept glaring at him, Harry glared in return returning his attention to Pansy, who was hiding her untrusty lips behind the mug.
"Why..." The end of the sentence dissipated in the quiet darkness of the hall, even the faint clinking of metal from Finny's rustling came to Harry's ears like through a thick layer of cotton wool.
"Potter, you honestly think now is the time to harass her? Do you have no brains?" Malfoy bared his teeth and hissed like a serpent, venom dropping down his chin. Figuratively, but not far off.
"I'm not harassing anyone, Malfoy," Harry bit, not letting the hot chocolate coated in the soft darkness to lull him in to any kind of sense of safety.
"Draco, honestly, don't say you don't expect an explanation," the girl placed a hand on his knee.
"Not in front of him I don't," he said his voice losing a significant amount of anger when he looked at his friend.
Harry pouted inwardly despite the fact that he shouldn't have been surprised, honestly what had he thought?
So Harry bit down his concern as he felt like it wouldn't be appreciated, slurping some of his drink. The warmth seeped from his windpipe and fingers to his stomach and settled, calming the cold storm that he had brought down with him from the tower. Pansy was trembling less and less by the minute, Malfoy hadn't touched his mug, he only regarded it sullenly, his arm around Pansy's shoulders in a careless but tight manner.
After Harry had eaten more than his upset stomach could handle, Pansy spoke.
"Potter…" She swallowed a piece of the lemon cake that Finny had provided. "I don't know what to say, to be honest." Her nonchalant voice was so even that all Harry could do was stare at her. If not for her red eyes and stains of mascara around her eyes, he would have thought they were having a simple tea-drinking party.
She breathed in a couple of times collecting her thoughts.
"I meant what I said, I regret offering to rat you out. I was terrified." She took a couple more breaths. "I am now too."
Harry looked to Malfoy but he was not giving away any of his thoughts, his eyes fell back to Pansy. What are you afraid of? His eyes asked utterly confused.
She smirked and took more cake, when she looked up, seeing Harry as lost as before, conjured a confused smirk on her face.
"Of you, Harry Potter."
Harry almost dropped his mug in shock, but snickered shaking his head.
"What?" He asked, his face falling when he realised they weren't dragging him. Malfoy wouldn't meet his eyes. "You can't be serious..."
"To be clear. I am not afraid of you," he said, his furious storm-cloud eyes meeting Harry's in silent defiance.
"You shouldn't be afraid of me…" Harry's voice dried out. "I've never wanted that…"
"You can't expect us…" Malfoy glared at her, she rolled her eyes. "Me. Not to be afraid. Potter you are the reason we are not all rotting in Azkaban, you can be the reason if we land there next time we lose our cool. You're practically running the new Ministry singlehandedly." She shivered, her eyes mugging over with fear.
Harry didn't know what to say.
"I just did what I thought was right…" Harry tried to meet either of the Slytherin's eyes. No luck. "Listen to me, I defeated Voldemort for there to be no more fear. He was the one who fed off it. I am nothing like him, I don't want fear. Shit, I don't even care if you hate me, I just want peace and safety. For everyone."
After the Battle Harry had spent a couple of days resting his bones with Weasleys. Well… he had been half resting, half hiding. On the bright side not from a vindictive Dark Wizard with megalomania, just reporters.
And Ministry's officials.
Everyone just had needed a piece of their saviour, so he didn't go out much, liking his bits intact. Fred and George had kept him entertained and he had been quite content with staying there till he could return to Hogwarts as an eight year.
One unlucky morning he had accidentally looked at the Prophet. With an annoyed grunt he had postponed his lazy plans for summer and prepared his brain for the immense bullshit that was politics. Taking up on the countless offers he had gotten to assist the Aurors and Ministry of Magic in general, he, without even bothering to change his gardening clothes, had departed using Weasleys' fireplace.
His arrival to the Mistry had caused a clusterfuck of awestruck and overexcited people, but Harry had held his wits in check despite his ever-rising temptation to hex some people out the doors. The new head of Department of Magical Law Enforcement, had been a grim man, but even he didn't struggle much when Harry Potter came to him and vaguely hinted to the fact that they had been doing a shit job. In fact, he had been quite aware of it and happy to throw the responsibility on someone else's shoulders. They happened to be Harry's.
With only a three second delay Harry accepted the position they had offered. He had wanted nothing more than to go home, to rest… but he had been painfully aware that even if he chose to leave, he wouldn't be able to relax. I can just fix Ministry and then rest. He had thought.
That shit hole was so broken, Hermione alone could operate more efficiently.
It wasn't even that after the battle part of the Ministry was still made out of Death Eaters or supporters, but even the people that hated Death Eaters with passion were acting like now they were gods. In their minds anyone who was even remotely connected to Death Eater could be thrown in to the same cauldron and shipped off to Dementors. Harry surprised himself and infinitely pleased Hermione when he came back to the Burrow, cursing about the treatment of Slytherins.
She offered her council and they together came up with steps to heal the Ministry. It took them three weeks of practically living in an interested lawyer's office, not sleeping and constant fighting against the tide of people who wanted to 'offer guidance'. But they did it. They submitted it to the Wizengamot and to nobody's surprise (to only Harry's surprise), it was accepted. Then everyone had a paper to follow. Everything would surely be fine now and nobody would bother Harry any longer?
It seemed only strengthen the illusion that he was leading the Ministry, which he wasn't. Not in his mind. But apparently everyone else had a different idea. Even Kingsley Shacklebolt had jokingly referred to Harry as the people's Minister. And to Harry's dismay, the man wasn't that far off. The raven-head was good at making Ministry better, he and Hermione had worked all summer to undo what Voldemort had sown.
Progress seemed to be bent on trying Harry's patience every single day. It took the long road, through sewers, sluggish decrepit men and blinded young people's sorrows. People were still recovering and licking wounds – mental and physical – they didn't want to hear that everyone should be treated fairly. Muggle borns wanted to see pure-bloods hanging on the wall of shame their insides turned inside out. Pure-bloods wanted not to lose their privileges, Harry wanted to sleep one night straight without one or another emergency and summoning to a 3 am meeting. But how often do people really GET what they want?
After Hermione had talked him in to starting giving interviews, he changed his answer to – almost never. He had agreed because the things that were being printed were just plane misinformative. He had been offered to take courses in 'talking to reporters', but after he had been advised to 'smile more' and 'mislead people to create the right image' he walked out of there without a second thought. Half of his problems had rooted in the fact that somebody had lied or kept something from him. He really doubted the fact that that approach would be good for the new and improved Ministry of Magic.
Talking with the press was something he wanted to avoid as much as possible, but he made sure loads of trustworthy representatives gave weekly updates to the public. He had chosen them himself and maybe they weren't the most likable persons, but they said things as they were, without trying to gain from it.
Harry Potter – the Boy Who Lived. Harry Potter – the Boy Who Lied. Harry Potter – the Boy Who Killed You-Know-Who. Harry Potter – the Boy Who Wants To Change Everything. Harry Potter – the Man Who Fixed the Ministry.
The last one wasn't true, as Hermione said – yet. Harry spent his summer days buried in paperwork, which he loathed, talking to people that half of the time made him want to burp and attending endless hearings, meetings and assemblies. Only thing that kept him sane was his friends' unfaltering support. Hermione was with him every step of the way.
On the nights that he hadn't spent asleep on his table in the Ministry he had crashed in the Burrow. He had considered buying a flat in London, but Hermione had wisely advised against that as he wouldn't probably leave the Ministry at all in that case. She understood, of course, and she was as keen as Harry to make Ministry better, but she also knew the limits that Harry was happy to stretch and stretch again.
Maybe that's why she and Ron were still happily together, but Ginny had left Harry, who had barely noticed as he had been functioning mostly on magic sparkles and caffeine that day. Now coming to the Burrow was like he had a sister, brothers and parents. Shame he wasn't a child anymore.
Harry snapped back in to the present, had he really spent all summer causing more fear in people? He was at a loss of words and his head hurt. Again. Headaches seemed to be a constant companion ever since he took up the reform of the Ministry.
"Let me be clear, Potter…" Malfoy started, with the sneer that Harry could barely tolerate on good days. It was night. And it was not good.
"No. let me be clear. I do not want you to fear me." He hadn't noticed he had stood up, but now he tried to stand as non-threateningly as possible. He continued in a softer voice. "You have no reason to fear me. I won't be using my position in Ministry for personal gain. It may come as a surprise to you two," Harry exploded, soft voice – out the window, "but some people are actually decent in this messed up world." The headache had settled at the base of his neck and behind his ears, chanting: you're feared. You're feared. Just like Voldemort. You're just like him…
"How do you suppose we could do that?" Pansy asked, looking close to tears again. "If we – I could just turn off fear we wouldn't be sitting here."
Harry thought about that for a moment.
"What are the Gryffindors' trades?" he asked.
"Recklessness, hot-headedness, infamous stupidity," Malfoy recited happily. If you presume snakes feel such primitive emotions.
"Okay, okay." Harry forced himself to rise above. "And you know what else?"
Neither of them replied.
"We keep our word. Okay?" Harry closed his eyes, recalling all the talks with Soyer – one of the few – well… the only one of the lawyers that he had bonded with. "I promise, to not use my position in Ministry in a way that would hurt you or humiliate you or harm you any other way." He peeked at the stunned Slytherins who were staring at him with identical expressions.
Malfoy was first to talk.
"That won't fly. You have the whole Hogwarts' staff, students and all the wizard population of England behind you. Simply not using Ministry, you could still stab us in front of the whole school, while we were tied up and gagged and everyone would claim it was self-defence."
"I tho-thought you were not afraid, Draco," Pansy stammered, swallowing new wave of tears.
"Pansy. I get that you're having a break down, but please. I want to be able to be friends with you tomorrow too." His voice sounded desperate, still carrying a tinge of annoyance from the poem he had directed at Harry.
"Sorry, Draco." She nuzzled her face against his neck, her shoulders shaking.
"Well! It's fine. I suppose…" he mumbled, his voice losing all menace, his palm sliding along the girls trembling back.
Harry felt like they forgot he was standing there. Not that he minded… much. Clearing his throat he got Pansy's attention, Malfoy was still staring at the hot chocolate that apparently wasn't fancy enough for him to drink it. Snob. Harry swallowed his petty arguments, I survived Fergus McKlinge, I can easily survive Draco Malfoy.
"Potter. We're not used to believing, anyone's pro-promises," she was still bawling her eyes out, but she seemed pretty coherent for the mess she appeared to be.
"Well, what else can I do?" Harry flopped back down in the chair, unhappy with how his evening was going. He remembered certain blond somebody promising to write his potions essay, but it seemed inappropriate to bring up now so he bit his tongue. "If I had wanted… revenge or whatever you're so worried about, I could have not testified," he said tiredly. How can they think I would do something like that? Then it dawned on him. They don't know me. Seemed stupid enough, but it was pretty simple. People often had the wrong presumptions about him. He had been acquainted with these two for roughly seven years, but they didn't really know him.
The Gryffindor grunted and rubbed his eyes, only then realising he had disrupted Pansy's stammering chatter. She looked at him with big dark eyes.
"Sorry… I just..." he forced himself to not grunt again. He wanted to talk to Ron and Hermione, they would surely have a better solution, but they weren't here. "I might have an idea."
"Merlin, Potter!" Draco didn't want to lose, his composure any more than he already had, but… "I knew you had a limited ability to translate people's actions in to their intentions, but this is out of line!" at least, his voice was back to appropriate-to-talk-to-Potter tone.
He felt Pansy trembling against his side, it filled him with clammy fear all over again, it clung to his ribs and was fighting for the first place in the list of things that scared him. Pansy had almost died – killed herself, because she was scared shitless of Potter. Potter. The saint do-goddy Potty. And now the hero boy, had actually suggested… makes me sick to even think it.
"I don't know, Potter," Pansy was looking at Potter with her familiar brown eyes. What wasn't familiar was the utter desperation shining in them, Draco hadn't seen it because she hadn't been talking to him much for the past week. Before that he had only noticed flashes of tiredness, fear and regret now and then, nothing so deep. Or she was much more capable of hiding things from him than he had been aware off, or he had been distracted… but in any case, it was his fault. He should have been there.
Concentrate on the matter at hand, Draco.
Pansy seemed to think his preposition over. Draco looked at her feeling a sinking feeling. She can't seriously be considering… THAT.
"Look…. I don't like the idea as much as you, but… I don't know how to otherwise prove that fearing me is a ridiculous waste of energy."
Oh, sweet Merlin, release me. Potter is doing something he doesn't want to, how mortifying for him I'm sure. Good thing he has his Gryffindority in place to ensure he does the right thing, Draco thought, hoping his glare conveyed what he thought. Judging from the clenching of Potter's jaw it did.
"Being friends…" Pansy echoed, Potters words. "Seems alien, doesn't it, Draco?"
"Yes, Pansy. And I can assure you, I will not be doing that while I am sane or even remotely conscious, or, come to think of it, even my dead body would like to stay as far as possible from friendship with Potter."
"No hard feelings, Malfoy, I want nothing to do with your snobbish-arse either."
"Well, when that's out of the way, could we go?" he asked, flashing his teeth at Potter in the driest smile possible and really addressing Pansy, nudging her softly.
"Draco…" she sighed.
Draco stilled, felling that he was not going to enjoy what she was about to say.
"I am tired," she stated.
"It's okay, let's go back to the common room… I will rub your feet and prepare a hot bath… just the way you like it," he said, hating the sound of his voice. Pleading. Second time today. When she feels better, I will get her for this. Draco felt his cheeks heat up as he felt Potter's eyes on him. Pansy's tired resolve in her words not helping in the slightest.
"I am tired of living in fear… first You-Know-Who, now him… I can't do that anymore," she put her hands around Draco's frozen fingers, but he didn't move. How could he? His best friend was leaving him for the saint Potter.
Draco dropped Pansy's hands from his, rising from the couch sharply. He steeled his heart against her begging eyes.
"I believe I have reached my limit of bullshit for a whole year, but I need to go to class tomorrow, so I need to at least sleep," his voice was ice cold, his throat burning, or it was his eyes, he wasn't sure.
"Draco, please… don't be such a melodramatic princess, it's not like I am stopping being friends with you, if I just attempt fr-friendliness with Potter."
Melodramatic?! Who the hell was melodramatic? Not Draco that's for sure.
"Just use protection!" he bit as he exited the Kitchens with a loud bang.
He didn't wait to see if Pansy would follow him, he knew she wouldn't. She had made her choice, and if that was Potty over the magnificence of Draco Malfoy, it was her bloody loss.
The fact that he had all the wizards of England licking his ugly shoes wasn't enough, he had to take my only friend.