"Dueling today," Malfoy said firmly.
"Why does he get to choose?" Ron asked, in a tone that just bordered on whinging.
"He doesn't. We choose together." Hermione put in firmly.
Draco Malfoy's left eyebrow rose, and he asked, simply, "Anyone got any other ideas?"
"Not dueling." Harry put in. "Let's do this right if we're going to do this at all." He knew he looked moody and a bit upset. Fair enough, he didn't live in Slytherin house, so most blokes wouldn't use it against him.
"Rules?" Malfoy chirped.
"None." Harry responded.
"Oi!" Malfoy said, sliding an arm around Hermione to grasp her other arm, "Granger's crushed. What'll she do without rules."
Granger turned a gimlet eye on Malfoy, and said, in a very level voice, "Kill you of course."
It took a brief moment before Ron started laughing, and they all joined in, with varying levels of assurance. Malfoy, in particular, looked like he was laughing "to say he could take a joke" and not "because Granger had been joking, and he'd been got good."
"Alright," Harry said, "Let's just try not to kill, dismember or maim one another." It was nearly a line Snape might have said, in his put-upon tones. Harry delivered it with a grin of gusto, and it looked completely different. Maybe someone might think Harry mad, but at least he wouldn't be mistaken for being gloomy!
They all went head-first into it - yes, even Malfoy, whose form was deft and quick. Malfoy and Granger tended to grab the upper hand - and then keep it, by sheer wits alone. Harry and Hermione were pulling punches, of course - they could both be casting wordless as well as wandless.
Harry's back arched as Malfoy flung an electrical spell at Harry's back (and a good thing that, it was lethal if it hit your heart directly). As much as it was a good shot, Harry was incensed. He turned around with blood in his eye, and a manic grin that featured a few too many teeth. Harry send a devilish hex towards Malfoy - it was a Sensitization Hex, not much on its own, but if you were in a battle (and Ron and Hermione were facing off, loudly)... well.
Draco Malfoy reacted. Not to the hex, but... what? He'd gone white in the face, and flung a blasting spell at the floor beneath his feet - using his reflexes to only smash his hand/arm against the floor. Malfoy knew how to fall too - Harry filed that under Useful Information To Be Used Later.
Belatedly, Harry realized that Hermione and Ron had stopped fighting to stare at Draco and Harry. "What-what was that?" Ron stammered.
"Snape's ghost!" Draco Malfoy said, still white, and tried for a laugh that came out broken. Everyone looked at him, both curious and wary - Malfoy was well known for being prickly if he didn't want to milk an injury. Harry did the mental math, and figured out that the other Gryffindors hadn't seen Harry's face.
Moments later, Draco had collected himself, at least a little, and said, "That look, on Potter's face, it looked so much like Snape." Harry desperately tried to remember what he'd looked like, and then, just as desperately, hoped Draco wouldn't say a word about it.
"What do you mean?" Hermione said, looking Harry up and down. "He doesn't look upset, the way Snape generally does. And, I mean, this is Harry, if he was upset, we'd still see it." Harry's mouth gave a twitch at that, threatening to break into a sunny smile. His friends knew him well.
"I could see his teeth," Draco said, and it was a soft tone, even in his standard drawl. "All of them."
Harry realized that he'd seen that look on Snape's face, more a snarl than a smile. It wasn't a happy face (not that Harry'd been happy about being shot in the back, that'd be daft!)
Ron chuckled, saying, "Snape doesn't smile. I bet his teeth are yellow and crooked, just like..."
Hermione deftly cut in, before Malfoy could take offense (Harry didn't think him capable, in this state, but Malfoy might wind himself up later...), "Unless he's very different in his own House."
Draco Malfoy said, softly, "It wasn't just that," Harry nearly leaned forward to hear what he said, "It was the eyes." Harry suddenly very much wanted to know what Draco was talking about. Harry knew his eyes had been bright, happy to be striking back at Draco. Snape's eyes always seemed... colder than that. Particularly when he was upset.
"A sort of... vindictive glee." Draco Malfoy said. Harry was by this point too enamored by the concept that there was a Snape madder than he'd been with Harry to feel sorry for Draco's stupidity at making the man that mad.
"I dunno man, I've never seen Snape like that, and I once saw him going off twice in ten minutes on the Twins." Ron said doubtfully.
Draco smirked, "I was dissecting porcupine quills and dropping them into a hellebore base."
"That could have taken off your arm." Hermione nearly shrieked.
"I know, and I knew that then. I could also have leveled half of Malfoy Manor." Draco smirked. "I was ten. And bored. I knew better, but I wanted something to do."
Harry Potter was suddenly struck by the idea that Draco Malfoy had actually been trying to behave up to snuff when he'd come to Hogwarts. That little twerp was on his best behavior! It was frankly mind-boggling.
"Ruddy luck, having to spend time out of school with Snape," Ron, who possessed an instinct about the right things to say that Harry sadly lacked, put in.
"Luck had nothing to do with it!" Draco Malfoy smirked, "It was my tenth birthday, and I'd decided that I was going to draw a memento."
"So...?" Hermione asked, unsure.
Draco Malfoy, who'd always loved the spotlight, continued, "I'd gotten Pansy to sit on Nott's shoulders, and then put them both atop Vince and Greg's backs."
Hermione chuckled lightly.
"They stood that way for nearly the entire party, until Nott couldn't hold it in anymore, and pissed himself all over Vince and Greg. Oh, and then Pansy couldn't stand the smell and insisted she get off - before I was done with my picture!" Draco had managed to whinge more about the loss of his models than sound caring about the urination. "So, naturally, I had to complain to my parents that Pansy was entirely too disobedient to be a proper pureblooded madame, and could they please find me some better friends."
Hermione and Ron were in stitches by this point, and Harry even managed a chuckle.
"They shipped me off to Snape the next week." Draco Malfoy shoved his hands in his pockets, "You've seen how good I am in potions." That wasn't a boast, somehow, just a sure statement of fact. "Snape always says it was self-defense."
And that, that had Harry on the floor with the other Gryffindors. Who knew Draco Malfoy knew how to self-deprecate?
[a/n: I find the idea that Malfoy, as much of a smug little shit as he was at Hogwarts, was toning it down to be hilarious. Read and review, folks!]