DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
It was the thirty-first of October, and night had already begun to fall upon the dark, Unplottable walls of Malfoy Manor. The wind was stirring the clouds in great torrents, revealing the white of the moonlight to shine on a solitary window in one of the highest chambers of the mansion. It cast a lone shadow of a human figure on a bed, glinting off his pale hair.
The silvery outline of what was unmistakably a ghost drifted nearby.
"Master Malfoy, your mother has instructed me to tell you to go to sleep."
Draco looked up irritably as ghost house servant, Aaron, drifted in through his open bedroom door. He glanced up at the clock shaped like a serpent's face hovering by his wall and made a face. "Right now?" he complained. "It's only a quarter past ten."
"Young Master Malfoy, you and your father will be leaving early tomorrow morning to buy your school materials," continued Aaron calmly. "So I suggest that you permit me to put out your fire. It is rather humid tonight." He floated into the elegantly furnished room, coming to a stop before the fireplace.
With a smug grin on his pointed face, Draco pointed a wand at the fireplace and extinguished the flames before Aaron could say a word.
Merely raising one of his translucent eyebrows and still looking infinitely unperturbed, Aaron only nodded - "Very impressive, Master Malfoy." - and drifted noiselessly out of the room.
Despite that he was underage and had yet to go to Hogwarts for his wizard training, Lucius Malfoy had found it certain to train his son properly before he was "thrown into that school with a headmaster who can't even tell a Snitch from a sherbet lemon."
His room dimly lit only by the merrily crackling flames of the torch by his bed, Draco set his wand on his bedside table and climbed under the silken black sheets of his bed. The day he had been waiting for ever since he was only a child had finally arrived - he had received his owl and would be going to Diagon Alley the very next morning to purchase what he needed. And a racing broom too, if he could weasel his father into it.
With a contented sigh he pulled his blanket over him and closed his eyes, imagining the places he only knew through stories he'd heard - the Quidditch field where his father once played himself, the common room where they sat practicing curses on each other into the night, and the Great Hall whose ceiling extended infinitely to the skies. As he began to fall asleep, in his mind's eye he could see himself, clad in new robes of silver and green - colors of the house his father had always ambitioned him to belong to - as he whizzed sharply around on his Nimbus 2000. He saw himself dropping into a perfectly seamless dive, watching ground steadily come up before him while the audience screamed itself hoarse, the wind whipping back his jet-black hair...
Wait a minute. Jet black hair?
Draco sat up with a start, his slate gray eyes blinking rapidly in the dim light.
Blond hair, he told himself firmly. Not black. Never black. He tossed his fair head slightly, watching his pale locks brush past his forehead reassuringly. Draco gave himself a silent kick, revolted at the thought of his hair dyed that monstrous shade of black.
Not that he found the color foul, but he was happy with his handsome blond self, thank you very much.
He sank back wearily on the pillows. Stress, he decided. He was merely jumping at the fact that he would be leaving for his first actual contact with the wizarding world the next day that he was mixing up black and white. It was really nothing else. Pulling the blanket over his head resolutely, he drifted off to sleep.
The Great Hall was indeed a splendid sight, something out of a dream. Its floors were like meticulously polished glass, clear as a river. Countless candles hovered in the air, giving the massive room a soft - almost romantic - glow. And, as Draco looked up, the ceiling extended infinitely into the sky. Pure, velvet blue, and littered with stars. Surrounding him, sitting in tables that reached almost the back of the hall, were his schoolmates, none of which he could recognize.
A melodious tune wafted from nowhere, playing music that seemed to come from a better, brighter place on earth. While he stood, taking in the awe and grandeur of the hall, the enormous double doors opened and a figure stepped inside. A familiar sort of foreboding rushed and assailed his senses as the person approached. I know you...
He was sure he had met this person before... somewhere.
The person neared, greeting Draco with a short nod that shook his ebony locks. Draco could hardly suppress a gasp as he noticed his hair. Wind-blown and untidy... and jet black. His eyes, an intoxicating mix of emerald green and the Mediterranean, stared out at Draco intensely, searching, seeking, and compelling Draco to step forward towards him, as though needing badly to learn who he was...
He had to. Because Draco knew this person... at a certain time and place.
The stranger came nearer still, until he was close enough to hold out his hand, as if asking him to dance.
Feeling as though he had strayed into a trance - a waking dream - Draco took his hand. A spark of a long-forgotten flame flew at the contact. He looked up sharply, his ice gray eyes meeting the liquid pools of emerald for the first time, and a wave of feelings - brief flashes from a memory - swept past him, nearly taking his breath away. And as they drew closer, each step guided by the soft, lilting rhythm of the music, time zones and clocks seemed wink themselves right out of existence.
This stranger, whoever he was, moved with flawless grace, a unique mixture of flair and control that made Draco's head spin with deliriousness. The fathomless green eyes never left his own. Everything in the room had disappeared - everything except him, Draco, with nothing but the seductive caress of the music on their bodies.
Round spectacles were perched on the emerald-eyed figure's face, partially obscuring the delicate yet fiery light in those beautiful eyes. As they spun around, their every move in perfect synch, Draco longed to remove the clear glasses, remove the disguise, the only mask hindering him from seeing his face as it exactly was, and release the bittersweet, untamed appeal he obviously possessed.
Slowly he removed his hand from the stranger's grasp to his face, brushing past the red-and-orange scarf wrapped loosely around his neck. Draco's eyes narrowed slightly, his Slytherin heritage and pride creeping into his sharp tongue. "You're a Gryffindor," he said.
"Yes," the stranger replied simply, his dignity at being addressed by who was obviously a Slytherin never wavering.
Draco started at hearing his voice for the first time, almost breaking the rhythmic movement of their dance. It was the pride - the exuding, unmistakable confidence - that he held in those glittering eyes and his firm voice that was most impressive. Never had Draco seen self-respect to equal the one he was seeing before himself in any of his father's parties with his Slytherin buddies - never. In Lucius Malfoy's parties, people derived their pride and swelled heads from their old, well-established families, and not from their very selves.
Suddenly, striving to be a true blue Slytherin - strutting around like he owned the world like his father had severely taught him - didn't seem so important anymore.
Draco clasped the boy's hand back in his, bowing his head in response. "You pride in yourself - it is quite admirable," he finally said. The words sounded strange to his own ears. Hardly was it that a Malfoy was heard complimenting someone other than himself.
"True," came the succinct reply again. A sort of sad, lonely look came to his eyes, clouding the beautiful green and dignity that Draco had come to admire. "I've been living a loss one time after another my whole life - losing my family, my freedom. It is only my pride that I have left."
He struck a chord in Draco's heart, a string in his conscience he barely knew he had, that he hardly noticed that the music drifted into a stop and they were standing still in the middle of the hall. Draco nearly stared at him in shock - sympathy - as he spoke, almost miserably. His words reflected what Draco had never seen or had for himself - an unhappy childhood that even, perhaps, all the treasures in Malfoy Manor can never take away.
But he had obviously escaped with his pride unscathed. And that, at this moment, meant more to him than all the riches in the world.
"Do not pity me," the stranger said abruptly. "I have had enough of pitying eyes growing up - I came here to get away from them - I certainly don't need another feeling sorry for me."
Pity? One of Draco's blond eyebrows twitched in surprise. He never felt pity for this young Gryffindor. True, he had an unfortunately unhappy youth, but not pity. Not at all. Especially not on him. Difficult as it was for his ego to accept... he'd sorely misjudged his character merely because of his place as a Gryffindor.
All of a sudden, everything around him started to flicker and fade. Almost desperately Draco grasped the boy's hand, looking at him earnestly as though fearing he'd soon disappear. "Who are you?"
The last thing Draco saw of him was the ghost of a smile on his lips, holding his head high so that the black bangs on his forehead slipped aside.
And then he vanished. But that scar - that cut shaped perfectly like a bolt of lightning just to the right on his forehead - remained imprinted in Draco's subconscious, burning into his mind.
Draco sat up on his bead, his forehead flecked with beads of sweat and the back of his pajamas damp. His pale fingers were clutched tightly around the crumpled hem of his blanket...
... just as they had been clutching on the nameless stranger's shoulder seconds ago.
Seconds ago? Draco shook his head forcefully. What was he thinking? It was all a dream. Just a dream. Shutting and opening his eyes to rouse himself, he repeatedly chanted it in his mind like a mantra when a knock sounded on his door, causing him to jump.
"Young Master Malfoy?" Aaron called as his see-through head slithered through the door. "Your father has instructed me to assist you in getting dressed. You will be leaving for Diagon Alley in half an hour."
"Half an hour?" repeated Draco incredulously. He checked the clock and saw that it was indeed almost ten thirty and groaned. Somehow, not only had he had a most unsettling dream, but he'd also made himself fashionably late.
Wordlessly, Aaron slipped inside, fiddled with his wardrobe, and came out holding a set of his dress robes. While it wasn't his usual party robes - those heavily laced with cuffs and ruffles and complicated silver clasps - it was still considerably more satiny sleek and black than any ordinary wizard's robes. The fabric was luxuriously smooth to touch and, above everything else, very, very black. Almost... jet-black, exactly like -
Throwing himself hastily off the bed, Draco forced the image of his dream out of his mind and hurried to shower.
Eleven o' clock sharp found Draco stumbling as he and Lucius Malfoy Apparated to the long, crowded pathway that was Diagon Alley. Draco, still half-asleep (and desperately trying not to be), fell to his knees as they appeared right in front of Mr. Ollivander's shop with a small pop.
Lucius irritably yanked his son to his feet, dusting off Draco's robes. "Draco," he snapped sternly. "I should tell you, child, I don't deem it wise that the first impression these people perceive of my son is of a clumsy clod."
With a toss of his head that bore an uncanny resemblance to Draco's, Lucius swept forward, dragging Draco behind him.
Draco had accompanied him to Diagon Alley numerous times and wasn't paying much attention to anything in particular, except, of course, the new Nimbus 2000 model that was displayed in front of the Quidditch supplies store. Strangely, though, he kept walking, his expression blank, as they passed the store. He vaguely remembered that he was supposed to ask his father for a racing broom, but...
The image of the dark-haired boy was still etched in his mind, even more deeply in the backs of his eyelids every time he blinked. Never in his life did he feel so uneasy over a dream - a dream about a measly child at that. Was it his flawless dancing, the poise in his movements? The intense green eyes? His proud, mellifluous voice when he unflinchingly proclaimed he was a Gryffindor in front of someone as condescending as Draco was?
Maybe. After all, no one Draco knew had ever dared to look a Malfoy in the eye and say he was anything other than a Slytherin with such undisguised confidence. This was definitely a first.
And the scar - the lightning-shaped cut - had interested him most of all. He remembered his father mentioning something about that - something about the defeat of one of the most evil sorcerer's in the wizarding world but he couldn't quite pull it out of his memory.
He almost didn't notice when they passed Madame Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. His father ushered him inside, the door ringing a little bell as they stepped in. Madame Malkin's, who was cheerfully measuring a set of robes for a short, chubby redhead, face suddenly lost its mirth as Lucius curtly snapped his fingers.
Immediately, Madame Malkin wrapped up the redhead's robes, thrust it quickly into her hands, and hastily scurried to Lucius's side. Apparently, Lucius's notorious impatience was widespread. "How may I help you, Mr. Malfoy?" Madame Malkin automatically asked nervously.
"A set of school robes for my son, and whatever else he might like," replied Lucius shortly. "I will be attending to some business for a short while, and I want everything to be ready when I return. Charge the expenses to my bill." Without waiting for an answer, Lucius stalked out of the store.
Draco sighed, but quietly stood on the stool while Madame Malkin's squiggling measuring tape whisked around him, watching interestedly as a quill scrawled all by itself on a sheaf of parchment his body measurements. Moving quills and tape measures were nothing new to him, but it was the only way right now to take his mind off things.
He was also used to saleswitches hurrying around on his command, but for some reason, he himself hopped off the stool to look for other robes. Somewhere in the vicinity of his mind that hadn't gotten into complete autopilot mode, the dream was ringing in his ears, clearer than ever.
I've been living a loss one time after another my whole life - losing my family, my freedom. It is only my pride that I have left. Draco shuddered involuntarily at the painful tone of his voice, only laughing weakly at the thought of what his father would think if he found out his son was feeling anything remotely like compassion.
Madame Malkin must have heard him chuckling to himself because she glanced at him worriedly - almost pityingly - only averting her eyes back to the other person in the room when she saw Draco staring icily at her. Draco sighed in frustration, saying the first words that came to his lips.
"Don't look at me as if you pity me," he told her sharply that she recoiled. "I have had enough of pitying eyes growing up - I'm here to get away from them - I certainly don't need another feeling sorry for me."
The witch muttered a quick apology before handing him his new school robes. "What else would you want, Mr. Malfoy?"
Draco stared vacantly at her, not because of the question, but because of what he had said previously. I have had enough pitying eyes... Had he really said that himself? If he remembered correctly, that was exactly what the stranger in his dreams had said. What was happening to him? Why did his first year have to start this way?
Madame Malkin was looking as confused as he felt. "Young master Malfoy?"
"Right," he said hastily, urging a more arrogant, bossy tone to his shaky voice. He had to stop this, and if acting obnoxious was the only way to do it, then he'll be as hell as he wanted. "I want those robes by the window - and that - and that - "
He was so preoccupied that he didn't notice the black-haired, green-eyed boy had just entered and left the shop.
A bright cloudless morning greeted September the first as Draco entered the London train station, his trolley obediently pushed by one of their family's house-elves as he made his way towards Platform Nine and Three-Quarters with his parents. The matter of getting on the platform was no difficult or unfamiliar feat to him - after all, more than half of the dungeons in their manor had the same security mechanism.
"Off you go now," drawled Lucius Malfoy with a lazy wave of his hand. "Make Salazar Slytherin proud."
Narcissa gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "Have a good term, Draco. Owl us if you need anything."
Draco nodded, then, after waving the house-elf over, disappeared into the concrete dividing wall between Platforms Nine and Ten. The house-elf unquestioningly loaded his trunk and the cage containing his owl - a black and white speckled bird his father was especially proud of - and vanished right back into the barrier with the empty trolley.
Sauntering casually into the train, Draco stopped before a compartment filled with familiar faces - children of friends of his father's. He was welcomed as a Malfoy usually would have been - in high praise - and particularly noted with distaste that Pansy Parkinson, daughter of that wretched friend of his father's, had sidled up next to him and begun flirting with him.
Draco tried to block out the annoying sound of Pansy's shrill voice and glanced around the train compartment in satisfaction. Though he'd expected a red carpet and house-elves back and forth, the train was elegant enough. The seats were comfortably padded, there was food service, and the view was pretty darn good. A good change from the rocks and spikes and screeching bats that circled Malfoy Manor.
He absently picked up a few snatches from the others' conversation.
"I thought she was joking - Mudbloods, can't be trusted at all - but she'd gone into his compartment and all - " The stocky girl - if she could be called distinctly female - named Milicent Bullstrode was saying.
"We can go and check, but what if it's not true?" chimed in Goyle. "Hey, Draco, what do you think?"
Draco blinked. "Huh?"
"He was asking if you'd like to go and check if the rumors are true," answered Pansy before Goyle could say a word, grinning utterly stupidly and doing a very good imitation of a Cheshire cat.
"That Harry Potter is here, of course!"
Stunned, Draco sat very still. The name rang a certain bell, urging Draco to his feet and grabbing the backs of Crabbe and Goyle's robes. "Come, both of you," he said abruptly, his voice severe and clipped. "We're checking it out." The two immediately complied, stumbling after Draco as he left their compartment.
"Oooh, wait for us!" shrieked Pansy behind him.
But Draco paid no attention. All he knew was that he had to see this Harry Potter - if he really was in the train - for himself. He knew the boy's story all right: escaping the curse of You-Know-Who with nothing more than a - what was it? Draco threw open the compartment door near the end of the train - and abruptly stopped in his tracks as he saw the person sitting next to the redheaded Weasley boy, his eyes meeting those of whom he'd only seen in his dreams.
As green as glittering emeralds, naturally untidy jet-black hair...
... and a scar on his forehead shaped like a bolt of lightning.
AN: My first Draco fic finished! See, this took place even before he met Harry! I thought it was a pretty cool concept... just hope it isn't already used... anyway, reviews are greatly appreciated! ^^ My apologies if there is more detail than dialogue... *shrugs*
It is AU, but only slightly, because he and Harry originally got to talk in Madame Malkin's shop...
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