Harry Potter looked over at Draco Malfoy, and asked slowly, quietly, "You said you had something to tell me. In private, obviously, because here we are." It wasn't quite a demand, but it was a recentering.
Draco nodded, still smirking, "My mother wrote back. I've got a bit of parchment to give you." Something, something strange echoed in Malfoy's eyes. "She said I wasn't to look at it..." Draco Malfoy hung his arm around Harry's neck, speaking nearly in his ear - "But maybe you'll tell me, bucko."
Harry suddenly had a very bad feeling about all this. Not that he was going to let Draco Malfoy know that..., so he smirked back, and said, "Fat chance."
"I guess you win the bet then..." Draco said, stalling - and Harry could tell.
"Yeah," Harry said - then froze, as an impossibly odd idea unfolded in his brain, like an ice flower in the desert.
"Dra-co..." Harry said slowly, "I think you were right. We should go to the Ball together."
"What?!" Draco said, flinging himself away from Harry, then crossing his arms.
"You suggested it, remember?" Harry said, a genuine smile playing on the edge of his lips - not quite all there.
"You know I don't like blokes." Draco Malfoy said, his eyes slightly wider. Maybe he'd just been talking the piss earlier? Teach him to do that with a Gryffindor!
"Neither do I," Harry said, his grin finally breaking through "But it'll make most of the girls go away, won't it?"
Draco Malfoy dropped his frown, smirking as he struck a pose, "Well, when you put it that way." His face turned to Harry's, and he said, with a delighted smirk, "You're on."
Draco stalked close to Harry, and slapped the fine piece of white parchment into Harry's waiting hand. Harry looked at him dryly, and said, "I don't suppose you're going to take a hike, are you?"
"Nope," Draco said, popping the "p". "Fraid not, Potty."
Dammit, Harry thought wrathfully, keeping his face carefully smooth. He was mostly a really shite actor, but he'd had extensive practice at the Dursleys for that particular emotional lobotomy.
Fighting to make sure his hands didn't tremble, Harry opened the parchment. On it were written two words:
Harry kept his face still, by sheer force of will - but the paper, that he hadn't been thinking about, blazed into fire (Malfoy swore quietly, seemingly from far away). Harry had thought that he'd been... angry, upset, what-have-you, earlier that year. It was nothing compared to this.
People spoke of a broken heart, when they meant one rent, torn in half, and bleeding.
Harry didn't feel like that, no, not at all. He felt shattered, like even his emotions had blasted out of his control.
He wasn't even angry.
He was everything, all at once, a storm of varied emotions.
He turned, like a robot, and said to Malfoy, "Leave, now."
Malfoy stared at him for a moment, almost - but Malfoy wasn't his friend.
Giving the tiniest nod, Malfoy left the room, shutting the door quietly.
And Harry let himself feel.
[a/n: Harry is working on emotional control.
Neither he, nor Mr. Malfoy, realized exactly how much like Snape he sounded, when he directed Malfoy to leave. And a good thing, too.
Next chapter is drowning in psychedelic overload.
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