Warning! This story does contain slash. If you are unaware of what slash is or if it's just not something you have a care for, you probably clicked on the wrong link. Sorry. Life sucks, get a helmet. Anyway! Feedback and reviews are always appreciated and flames are mocked and the source of my endless amusement. All standard disclaimers apply. (What's mine is mine and what isn't, well, isn't.) This story contains spoilers for all four books. You have been warned.
The Losing Side
A Harry Potter Fan Fiction
Chapter Two - Alone
"You've picked the losing side, Potter! I warned you! I told you you ought to choose your company more carefully, remember? When we met on the train, first day of Hogwarts? I told you not to hang around with riffraff like this." He jerked his head at Ron and Hermione. "Too late now, Potter! They'll be the first to go, now the Dark Lord's back! Mudbloods and Muggle-lovers first! Well- second- Diggory was the f--" Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
His name was Harry Potter.
To some people his very name symbolized their hopes and dreams for a future free of terror and persecution.
To others he was a threat to their schemes and plans, schemes and plans which had he had ruined more than once in his sixteen years.
As for the boy himself, he thought they were all fools, too blind to see their own folly. Though, he was beginning to think that perhaps the people who practically worshipped the ground he walked upon were the worst of the lot and a prime example of everything that was wrong with the wizarding world today.
To them a mere child was responsible for the downfall of you-know-who and they were most glad for it. Case closed. Break out the good china, sit back, relax and have yourselves a nice cup of tea in celebration of the sweet illusion of safety and prosperity. 'To Harry Potter- the boy who lived' indeed.
Now, fifteen years later, the average wizard was so deeply buried in his delusion that he could not begin to fathom the possibility that the old danger had returned to power once more. It was so simple a thing for them to merely accept the death of Cedric Diggory as a tragic accident. They all thought it was very sad of course. A young life cut down in it's prime, how awful a tragedy it most have been for his classmates and his parents. The Ministry had been the worst, of course. All 'oh what a shame' and 'it's a terrible tragedy'. Oh, boo fucking hoo. They cried Cedric a river while cheapening his death with their weak excuses and cheap cover-ups.
Albus Dumbledore had publically acknowledged that he believed Harry Potter's story of the return of dark wizard, but though he is still a formidable wizard, he is hardly infallible. Plus the Ministry's official stand on the issue was that poor Harry was so traumatized by young Cedric's death that his mind had created this elaborate fantasy to deal with his inability to save the life of his friend and that was a so much more believable story. It was just so much SIMPLER to believe that you-know-who had had nothing to do with poor Cedric's death. In their minds Voldemort was dead. Vanquished by the awe-inspiring powers of a one-year-old fucking child. No, in their minds, there was no chance whatsoever that a dark wizard who had held the wizarding world in his grasp for eleven years could have survived an attack by the illustrious boy who lived. Why should they even entertain the thought of danger when they could merely ignore the facts and continue about their simple, pointless lives completely oblivious to the truth? Why bother when so many who knew the truth would risk their lives and souls in a the battle to defend them from an enemy they believed dead and gone?
As they say, ignorance is bliss.
To say that Harry Potter was bitter regarding his current situation and the current situation of the wizarding world at large would be a bit of an understatement. He was, in fact, furious most of the time. It was hard not to be when he actually had time to sit and think about it. Of course, it wasn't often that he allowed himself that particular luxury. He had too many other things to worry about without having to work himself up into a snit over idiots who would refuse to believe the truth until the dark mark burned over their own houses. Of course by then it was too late to make a difference. The deaths were covered up by the Ministry or, more specifically, by Cornelius Fudge, who was proving he could shove his head in the sand with the best of them when given the chance.
Only Hogwarts had been quiet and peaceful in these dark times, which was probably why Harry longed to leave the Burrow and return there as soon as possible. He needed the comforting peace of Hogwarts. He needed classes and homework and tests; anything to distract him from thoughts of Voldemort. Thoughts of the death and destruction Voldemort would bring and the fact that he would no doubt be expected to participate in the defense against Voldemort's attacks at the very least. More likely then not he would be the one expected to bring about the death of Voldemort, if such a thing were even possible.
And so here he was, on the last day of summer vacation, surrounded by the Weasley family and, to be completely truthful, Harry Potter had never felt more utterly alone. He glanced around at his 'adopted' family, who were all bantering back and forth over a game of scrabble that he'd bought for them last Christmas, and couldn't keep a faint smile from curving his lips.
They were, after all, very much his family, the only family he'd ever known with the exception of Sirius. If for no other reason then to protect them, he would go off and confront Voldemort and his own inevitable demise with a cheerful smile. Still just being around them sometimes was hard. Watching the way they smiled and bickered back forth as if they hadn't a care in the world, Harry almost wished he was back in the smallest bedroom at the Dursley's house. Almost. Going back to the Dursley's house, as always, ran a close second to jumping off a bridge, which was an idea which had begun to seem sorely tempting these days. It would be easy, a few moments of falling and then his troubles would be gone forever, but that was the coward's way and though Harry had been many things in his short life, he was not a coward. There was simply nothing worse than being in a room full of happy people when you yourself were absolutely miserable. Especially if those happy people were people you loved.
Harry sighed and slipped down further in his chair, desperately hoping that his misery would continue to go unnoticed and undisturbed. He was pretty sure that he wouldn't be able to stand another episode like what he'd gone through at the end of last summer. The Weasleys all going out of their way to treat him with kid gloves and always having someone around to keep an eye on him. He'd felt like he'd been on suicide watch the entire last month of summer vacation despite his friends' best intentions. This year was better, but he still wasn't certain that he wouldn't scream the house down around them if any of them dared ask him if he was all right even one more time.
After all, it was pretty obvious he wasn't 'all right' and Harry thought it awful unfair that he was expected to be. Things would probably never be all right for him again. He had accepted that fact almost a year ago and couldn't quite figure why they couldn't accept it as well. He was as fine as he would ever be so long as Voldemort lived and that was quite enough for him even if he was completely miserable at times. There were worse things.
'Kill the spare.'
Yes, there were far worse things then just being a little miserable.
"All right, Harry?" Ginny's sweet voice piped up over the din as the red-haired girl came to peer at him over the top of his chair.
Harry looked up at her and smiled weakly, swallowing his urge to scream with some great difficulty. "I'm fine, Gin. Really. I'm just a little tired. I think I'm going to go up pretty soon. Who's winning?"
"Fred and George are tied for last place because they keep making up words. Ron keeps accusing Percy of cheating and Charlie is clearly in the lead with Mom and Dad trailing just behind him." Ginny smiled, clearly happy with the game's progression. "I'm glad Professor Dumbledore let you stay for us for a little while, Harry. If Bill were here, we'd have the whole family with us today." She'd been in an excellent mood ever since Charlie, her second oldest brother, had picked Harry up from Dursleys' to bring him to Diagon Alley himself and had then promised to stay with the family until the summer vacation ended.
Harry couldn't help smiling a bit at the memory. He rather liked Charlie and would certainly miss him when he went back to Romania. All the Weasley children were different and Charlie was by far the most adventurous and outgoing. When Charlie had come to pick him up, Harry had seen him through his window and would have gone down to meet him immediately if the Uncle Vernon hadn't bolted his door shut again. So, Harry had stuck his head out the window and informed Charlie of the situation instead. At this Charlie had just gone to the door and knocked as if nothing was amiss.
Judging from Uncle Vernon's enraged shouts and Charlie's story later on, Vernon Dursley had actually tried to turn Charlie away with some story about Harry not being at home, but Charlie had had none of it. He'd bullied his way past Vernon, no mean feat, and stormed up the stairs to the smallest bedroom to gather Harry and his things. Uncle Vernon had been mysteriously absent when they'd come back downstairs and though Harry had heard the man screaming up a storm from the kitchen, he'd wisely stayed out of the room. Of course, Harry didn't blame him. There was simply nothing more frightening then an angry Weasley.
"Harry?" Ginny questioned, bringing Harry back to the present and earning a small smile for her efforts.
"Sorry, Gin. I guess I'm more tired then I thought, I'm starting to fall asleep with my eyes open and everything. I think I'll go on to bed now." Harry pushed himself to his feet and bid the rest of the Weasleys a good night before trooping upstairs to the room he was sharing with Ron.
"Hey, wait up! I'll go up too!" Ron called, standing up from the game and hurrying after Harry.
In silence the two arrived at their room and murmured yawning good nights as they slipped into their respective beds. Ron promptly buried himself beneath his covers even as Harry turned onto his back to stare up at the slated ceiling of the darkened room.
Tomorrow they would be returning to Hogwarts. Tomorrow he was going home. Harry smiled softly. He enjoyed his time with the Weasleys, but no matter how they had embraced him into their family, Harry still felt that Hogwarts was and would always be his true home. Despite all the terrible things that seemed to happen to him there, he still felt safest when he was in his dormitory at Hogwarts laying in bed and listening to the snores of his the other boys.
Not that everything about Hogwarts was all fluffy bunnies and pretty cakes. Even when there were no evil plots running amuck, there was still Draco Malfoy. Draco Malfoy who had made it his business to be the be all and end all of Harry's troubles at Hogwarts fifth year. All year long Malfoy had seemed to go out of his way to be even more obnoxious and irritating then he had been any previous year. Perhaps he was trying to take up the slack for the lack of death plots and evil doings or perhaps he was just a prick. Both options were quite within the realm of possibility.
Malfoy had spent the majority of his time tossing insults at Ron and general insults in the direction of Gryffindor house from behind the safety of the human barrier he called Crabbe and Goyle. Curiously, he hadn't had much to say to Harry and Hermione at all. Quite the change of pace from fourth year. But apparently Malfoy was moving up in the world and hadn't the time to single out more than one person at time. Instead he'd let his lackeys' fists take care of most of the harassing for him. It became a well known fact among Gryffindors that meeting Goyle or Crabbe in a deserted hall was worth at least a nasty bump if not something worse. Hence the reason Gryffindors had begun moving in packs through the halls instead of going it alone. In fact, if Harry remembered correctly the worst Malfoy had done to him directly was to spread nasty rumors behind his back. Rumors that half the people in school had quite happily believed. That he'd sold Cedric's life to save his own. That he had actually killed Cedric out of pure jealousy. Or, his personal favorite, that the real Harry Potter was dead and he was actually the Dark Lord in disguise.
'Kill the spare.'
Harry let out a bitter laugh which caused Hedwig to turn on her perch and shoot him a concerned look which he failed to notice. Ron mumbled something irritably and turned in his sleep but, that to was lost on Harry as he was far too wrapped up in thoughts of Malfoy to be bothered by the world outside his own mind. Those rumors had hurt him probably more than anything else Malfoy could have said or done to him. And what hurt the most was that people who knew him had actually begun to believe them. People from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw had begun to avoid him, giving him a wide berth in the halls and whispering as he passed them by. Of course, he didn't really know what they were saying, though he'd heard brief playbacks from his housemates. During those long walks through the halls all he could hear was Voldemort's terrible voice in his head, 'Kill the spare.' All he could see were Cedric's dead gray eyes starring up at him. Damn Malfoy. Damn him to the darkest deepest hell for that.
Draco Malfoy aside, the year had been strangely reminiscent of fourth year when Rita Skeeter had spent the months telling nothing about lies about him and second year when everyone had been convinced he was the Slytherin heir, accept fifth year had offered the added bonus of nasty memories to make it that much worse. If he lived to be a thousand he'd probably still hear those terrible words in the back of his mind like the echo of a past life: 'Kill the spare.'
Harry sighed raggedly, dragging a hand back through his tousled black hair. What was wrong with him tonight? He'd barely thought of any of this since summer vacation had begun and now here he was rehashing it all again. Soon he'd start replaying the feel of the Cruciatus curse and wondering exactly how Malfoy would like it if he were to feel it's effect for even a moment.
Malfoy. Again. Harry closed his eyes against the bright moonlight with another deep sigh. All his thoughts seemed to lead back to Malfoy in some way. It was always seven degrees of Draco Malfoy no matter what he was thinking. Especially now and he knew perfectly well why that was. It was all because of the last night at Hogwarts. All because he couldn't sleep that night either.
His dread of returning to the Dursleys had kept him awake that night, starring up at his ceiling for hours before he finally resolved to go out in search of better scenery. He'd snagged his Marauder's map from it's place near the bottom of his trunk and headed out of the Gryffindor tower with a light step as not to awaken his housemates. He'd had no true destination in mind, only the hope of wandering somewhere interesting where he'd be able to pass a bit of the endless night in solitude. He'd arrived at the dungeons almost by accident and was about to leave when he heard the sound of a hushed voice speaking from the darkness of the depths of the dungeons. Glancing down at his Marauder's map, he noticed a small dot marked "Draco Malfoy" within a large room marked Slytherin common room. A secret passage to the room was highlighted on the map, the entrance of which was just a dozen steps down the corridor to his left.
Though curiosity had killed the cat, it had yet to kill Harry Potter or so Harry had reasoned as he'd crept down the corridor and tapped three times on a statue of a rather ugly wizard as the map instructed him to do. The statue had slid away to reveal a narrow passage before which Harry hesitated only the barest instant before stepping inside. He'd not gone two steps when the statue slipped back into place behind him, leaving the passage in total darkness. Wariness crept into Harry's step as he felt his way down the passage, ignoring the lacy spiderwebs which brushed his face in the darkness. He didn't dare use his wand to light up the space, in case it gave him away when he reached his destination. But, as it turned out, light wasn't needed for he soon heard voices ahead. As he neared, he was finally able to make out Draco's icy tones.
"I'd rather flail the skin from my own back." Draco's cold voice hissed, startling Harry slightly.
"That could be arranged, Draco." A deep, angry voice that Harry recognized as being the voice of Lucius Malfoy. Curious, Harry crept closer to the wall before him, peering through a peephole which offered him a clear view of the large fireplace within the Slytherin common room and the wingback chair in which he could clearly make out Draco's pale, sharp features against the red velvet cushions. He looked strangely small in the oversize chair, his lips twisted into a parody of a smirk as he sat glaring at the fireplace across from him. In the depths of the roaring fire, Harry could just barely make out the face of Lucius Malfoy, but he could swear the man was smiling.
"What? Are you going to curse me through the fire, Father? That should be something to see. You're welcome to try it if you think you're able." Draco spat, crossing his slender arms across his chest.
"I hardly need to do something so drastic. You'll be coming home tomorrow, Draco. Or have you forgotten that?"
Draco sobered instantly, recognizing the threat for what it was. "It's too late then, isn't it? You want that little sot's blood? Get it yourself."
"You do know the consequences of refusing me, don't you? Why risk that for someone you hate?"
"Because I hate you more." Draco ground out, almost shaking as his hands reached out to clasp the arms of the chair. "I would have thought that was quite obvious. You only ask me to do this because there is no other option and once summer has arrived no one can touch him."
"You will do this or..."
"Or what? You'll hurt me again?" A smile curved Draco's features and in Harry's eyes it made the slim blond look a bit deranged. "Another bruise? Another wound? After last summer, what makes you think that such threats frighten me?"
"Your punishment last summer was necessary, Draco, as well you know. Unless you would have preferred punishment dealt out to you by the Dark Lord?"
"So you did it for my sake? That makes me feel so much better." Draco hissed, his fingers digging into the chair.
"It wasn't meant to make you feel better, Draco. I do not covet your love or forgiveness, only your obedience. You will obey me, Draco. It would go quite badly for you if you did not." Lucius smiled as he said these words and his smile turned Harry's stomach. "Do we quite understand each other, Draco?"
"Yes." Draco whispered, bowing his head in defeat.
"You still refuse to do as I have instructed?"
"Fine. You will come home immediately from the station with Crabbe. I would come to fetch you myself, but I simply haven't the time at the moment. Preparations are in full swing, as they say. We shall find another way to fulfill our needs and I shall deal with you when you arrive. Do you understand?"
"I understand, Father." Draco murmured softly.
"Good. Sweet dreams... Son." With that the fire flared brightly, forcing Harry to close his eyes. When he opened them once more the head in the fireplace was gone, leaving Draco and Harry alone with the crackling of the dying fire.
Hours seemed to pass as Draco starred into the fire and Harry starred at him waiting for some reaction. He did not have to wait long.
"Bastard." Draco hissed suddenly, erupting from his chair and throwing the closest object, a rather expensive looking candy dish, into the fire. It shattered against the stones, glittering pieces of glass raining down across the hearth. Harry stood for a few moments more in silence, too afraid of being heard to move. So instead he watched. Watched Draco's narrow, heaving shoulders and pale angry features until he saw a single tear roll unbidden across Draco's pale cheek. As Draco swiped irritably at the tear, Harry suddenly felt like the worst sort of a voyeur. Horror coiled in his stomach and he realized somewhere deep within his soul that he had born witness to something he never should have seen.
Shocked into action and shivering with some unnamed emotion, Harry had backed slowly down the narrow corridor until he reached the passageway's entrance. Once in the open, he'd broken into a run, his bare feet slapping noisily against the stone floors. He didn't remember the frenzied run from the dungeons to the tower, nor did he have but a fuzzy memory of leaping into bed and burrowing as far beneath his blankets as he could. When he'd awoken the next morning he'd said nothing of his experience the night before to anyone. When the Hogwarts Express had arrived at the platform that afternoon he'd bidden a soft farewell to his friends and disembarked silently to face his Dursley summer without ever once laying eyes on Malfoy.
For three months, he had refused to think of that night. He could contemplate his own death without the slightest hesitation, but for some reason he had not been able to bring himself to think of Draco Malfoy's moment of weakness. If such a thing were possible, he probably would have gone the rest of his life without ever again dwelling upon that moment again. But it was not possible. He would return to Hogwarts in the morning and Draco Malfoy would be there as he always was to torment him and his friends and Harry found himself completely unprepared to deal with the little twit.
Five years they had been enemies at war with one another and after what he had witnessed, Harry found he wasn't at all sure he would be able to fight back anymore. He still hated Malfoy, of course. He'd hated the vindictive little bastard for far too long for that to change overnight. He hated Malfoy just as much as he was certain Malfoy hated him. For some reason he'd always thought of Malfoy as something other than human. Some strange creature that looked an awful lot like a person but somehow lacked the emotions that were required to be a real living, breathing human being. He'd spent so much time the previous year searching for a chink in the bastard's icy armor and now that he'd found it he couldn't bring himself to even think about using it to his advantage.
Of course, Malfoy would have no such reservations. He'd be out in full force just as he was every year. What was his problem anyway? Every year it was the same thing. Insults, pranks, general vindictive bullshit, but why? Why did the stupid prat have to go out of his way to be so damn nasty?
Harry frowned, thinking back through the years to when he'd first met Malfoy on the train on their first day at Hogwarts. Malfoy had walked in as if he were the Lord of the Train, flanked as always by the brute squad, to come find the famous Harry Potter and then... He'd offered his hand in friendship and Harry had refused him. Could all this pain and suffering really lead back to that one moment? Could it have all been caused by that one fateful rejection?
It certainly was possible. Malfoy seemed the type to hold a grudge. Where would they be if Harry had taken his hand? Given friendship with him a go? Would they still have ended up making each other miserable day and night for five years? Suddenly the answers to these questions seemed of the utmost importance when, only three months ago, they hadn't mattered a bit.
Harry sighed and pushed himself up from the bed, crossing the room to stare out the room's single window. Why was he even bothering thinking this way? Why couldn't he just forget what he'd seen and go on as before? Even if Malfoy did have a bad time of it, did that really change anything? He was still Malfoy. Still...
'Kill the spare.'
These days it was rather difficult to dismiss such things. It was difficult to hold grudges without reason, not that he didn't have plenty of reason, but how was he supposed to fight with Malfoy now that he felt sorry for him?
'Maybe I don't have to fight with him.' The idea had formed unbidden in Harry's mind and his frown deepened. He didn't like it, but it was probably the only answer. Malfoy would quite happily continue to lead the Harry Potter Hate Brigade forever if he didn't do something to bring the little sot down off his high horse. So that's just what he'd do. If he couldn't fight with Malfoy, he might as well try and befriend him and see what happens. It wouldn't hurt to try. Harry laughed a bit at that. It probably would hurt. It would probably hurt a lot, and no doubt he'd probably regret it later, but it was worth a shot. If for no other reason then to have a chance to bring himself and the other Gryffindors a little peace and quiet.
With that, Harry turned from the window and returned to his bed, feeling more at ease now that he had a plan of action. Tomorrow he would return to Hogwarts and somehow learn to play nice with the devil that was Malfoy and, if he were lucky, maybe the devil wouldn't stick a pitchfork in his back when he wasn't looking.
~to be continued~
Whew! And I'm spent. Thanks to everyone who reviewed. I crave feedback. ^_^ I really had intended to frog-march this story forward and onwards to Hogwarts after the last chapter, but my muse (which I always picture as the evil SD Seymour Guado that sits atop my computer for some reason) would not allow me to go on without doing a Harry counterpoint to Draco's state of affairs chapter. *sighs*
This chapter went through about sixteen revisions over the last month or so and here it is in its final, thoroughly bizarre form. I think the end is a bit disjointed, but it still works. (I need a beta reader...)
Six degrees of Draco Malfoy is a take on the game Six degrees of Kevin Bacon. (Don't pretend you haven't played it. :p)
Also, you'll notice the phrase 'kill the spare' pops up quite a bit in this chapter and if you're curious that is a quote from "Goblet of Fire". It just struck me as one of the single creepiest lines for some reason. In my book it's up there with "They're coming for you, Barbara. They're coming for you." from Night of the Living Dead. Burr. Creepy. For Harry I would think that that phrase and Cedric's subsequent death would be the kind of thing which would stick with him for a long, long time and actually affect his life in a far more immediate way than the any abuse he has received at Voldemort's hands.
Yes, in case you're wondering, Harry has worked himself into such a state that he's forgotten all about the letter. Which could be very, very bad for him.
You'll also notice a complete lack of the Order of the Phoenix. I thought long and hard about tentatively exploring it in this story, but have decided against it up to this point. Not to say I will not make mention of it in later chapters, but it will most likely be more in passing then anything else.
Anyway, next chapter should be up in a few days since it's mostly done. Please review and let me know what you all thought of this one though. ^_^
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