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 Five - Midnight Duel (Confrontation Stage One)
"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
"YOU'RE WHAT?!?!" Ron exclaimed, the pile of chocolate frogs in his lap completely forgotten as he bolted from his chair, sending the whole lot of them tumbling to the floor.
"Ron Weasley, don't shout! And sit down!" Hermione snapped, apparently unaware that she herself was shouting. However, it did have the desired effect as Ron dropped back into his chair almost immediately. "Now," she turned her dark gaze on Harry, eyes still flashing menacingly. Her voice was deceptively calm, which was nearly always a bad sign. "What is it you were saying, Harry?"
"I'm going to duel with Malfoy tonight at Midnight. Alone." Harry repeated, his steady green gaze meeting Hermione's evenly.
Hermione sighed, "I was afraid of that. Is this because of what happened on the train?"
Ron frowned, "But he... you know..."
Most of the Hogwarts students were informed that a malfunction on the train had been the cause of the train's sudden, unexplained stop while on it's way to Hogwarts. They'd all been told that both Harry and Draco had taken a few more bumps and bruises during the stop then anyone else. The older students knew a goodly portion of the truth, that it had been an attack by Voldemort's forces. However, only the teachers and a few select students knew the truth behind the injuries that Draco and Harry had suffered. Dumbledore had told both Ron and Hermione, as they were Prefects and Harry's best friends, about the incident. When Malfoy found out about that, he had been quite upset. A memory which Harry still found rather funny, even a day later.
"I know what he did for me, Ron." Harry shook his head sadly, remembering quite vividly his confrontation with Malfoy in the hospital wing. "It doesn't change anything. I wish it did, but it doesn't. He challenged me and I accepted."
"But without seconds? Was that part of the challenge?" Hermione inquired, her eyebrows drawn together in thought.
"No, but... I want to face him alone. This isn't about you or Ron, it's about Malfoy and I. I'm sorry you got dragged into it at all."
"He hates us too, Harry." Ron injected, puzzlement showing clearly on his face. "So, why..."
"It's not the same. It's not even close. His hatred for you is superficial. It's based on the things you've done or said or just on some stupid notion that he has about you. It all starts with me."
"You sound like you know him." Hermione said softly, studying Harry closely. "What happened between you two?"
"I don't know," Harry answered honestly. "Did you have a chance to find out anything about what happened on the train?"
"I hate it when you just change the subject like that," Ron grumbled. "A duel with Malfoy is a bit more..."
"Yes, I did actually." Hermione interjected, cutting Ron off with her words and a scathing look.
"Fine," Ron muttered, shaking his head before he set about picking up the chocolate frogs he'd dropped earlier. Satisfied, Hermione pulled a large, dusty book from beneath her chair and setting it on her lap before opening it to a marked page.
"Helga Buckledown is most well known for her discovery of the strange phenomenon which occurs in extremely powerful, untrained wizards known as 'memory rewriting'. When two wizards of great power, usually students who have yet to learn the true extent of their powers, lose control of their emotions when engaged in a heated confrontation, it has been known to effect all inferior wizards within hearing range. In effect, the lesser wizards will be unable to remember the most emotional parts of the conversation without ever realizing that anything is amiss." Hermione shut the book and lifted her gaze to Harry's.
"Now what's this about?" Ron questioned, pausing in his chocolate frog rescue mission to glance up at Hermione and Harry.
"You didn't hear about half the fight Harry had with Malfoy on the train." Hermione offered helpfully, earning a nasty glare from Ron.
"What so I'm an inferior wizard?" Ron grimaced even as the words left his mouth, earning a smile from both Hermione and Harry. "Oh, all right. You win. So what does all that mean?"
"It means that Malfoy is on the same level as me, I guess. It won't be easy for me to win against him." Harry sighed, stealing one of Ron's chocolate frogs while the red-haired boy was still about the business of picking the rest of them up.
"Oh, that's just great and you want to fight him without a second." Ron grumbled, collapsing back into his chair with his lap full of chocolate frogs once more. "It's not like he's not going to bring a second or pull some sort of nasty trick. He's Malfoy. He ALWAYS fights dirty."
"I know." Harry replied softly. It wasn't that he hadn't thought of that, he had, it just didn't matter. He wasn't Malfoy, he didn't want to sink to Malfoy's level. "I have a feeling he's serious this time and, even if he's not, I'll have my invisibility cloak in case he pulls something and I need to get out of there fast."
"FINE." Ron relented, sighing over-dramatically. "But don't come crying to me when you get detention and end up cleaning Moaning Myrtle's toilet for the rest of the year."
"We'll be here if you need us, Harry." Hermione smiled, patting Harry's arm in a disturbingly motherly way. "It's almost Midnight."
Harry nodded, pushing himself slowly to his feet and grabbing his cloak from the back of the chair. On impulse he bent down and placed a quick kiss on Hermione's cheek, whispering a quick thank you to her before turning to Ron. Ron immediately put up a hand, "No kissing. I'm saving myself for Hermione."
Harry smiled, while Hermione turned a bright shade of red. "I'll be back soon."
"Good enough." Ron replied, shooing Harry towards the door. Harry gave them both a parting smile before slipping into the cloak and disappearing from the room.
Once they heard the portrait snap closed, Hermione turned a worried gaze towards Ron. "Do you think it'll be all right?"
"Don't worry, Herm. That was our best friend and if anyone can give Malfoy the smack in the mouth he deserves it's Harry."
Draco was pacing the tower restlessly, tapping his wand against his leg and muttering curses beneath his breath when Harry arrived. "I'm not late, am I?" Harry asked softly, slipping out of the invisibility cloak right in Malfoy's path. He watched with satisfaction as Draco Malfoy jumped backwards, tripped over his own feet and fell unceremoniously to the floor.
"You did that on purpose!" Draco accused, his eyes narrowing in Harry's direction from his position on the floor.
Harry crouched down beside him, smiling brightly. "You bet I did."
"Sod off, Potter." The silver-haired Slytherin muttered, kicking Harry in the knee so that the dark-haired boy lost his balance and fell backwards into a sitting position on the cold stone floor.
Harry laughed merrily, apparently having a fabulous time. Draco hardly found it at all amusing. "Shut up, Potter."
"Sorry, sorry." Harry managed, choking back his laughter. To Draco's ears, of course, he didn't sound at all sorry.
"I hate you."
Harry sobered instantly, "Yes, well, that's why we're here, isn't it? I notice you came alone."
"What of it?"
"Nothing. I'm just glad. This is between us, right?"
"Right." Draco murmured, feeling slightly unsettled by Harry's words. He hadn't intended to come alone, but somehow when he went to order Crabbe to come with him the words just wouldn't come. So, in the end, he hadn't had much choice in the matter.
"You dropped this." Harry murmured, offering Draco's wand to him. Draco starred at the wand for a long moment as if it had betrayed him in some way before reaching out and taking it from Harry without a word. Neither boy spoke as they stood and dusted themselves off, stepping to opposite corners of the room in perfect silence.
"Are you ready?" Draco asked finally, his voice coming out far weaker then he'd intended.
"Yes," Harry replied evenly. If he had any reservations about the duel he gave no sign and that was enough to strengthen Draco's resolve.
"Count of five."
A loud bang in the hall distracted them and they both whirled towards the door. A moment later, Peeves' head poked through the stone wall and smiled at them. "Gonna kill each other finally?" He asked, his voice far too loud in the small room.
"None of your damn business." Draco growled, pointing his wand in Peeves direction. "Now get out or I'll tell the Bloody Baron that you interrupted my duel. He'll be most displeased."
Peeves frowned, "Now, now. I was only having a bit of fun. Go back to what you were doing then. I just thought you might like to know that Filch is on his way up here."
"Why would you tell us that?" Harry asked suspiciously, his gaze narrowing at the spirit that had caused him so many problems during his time at Hogwarts.
"Oh, I'm not helping you, if that's what you're thinking. I'm helping Mister Malfoy." Peeves informed him, sticking his tongue out at Harry. "Bloody Baron told me to look out for him. Better hurry now." Peeves was gone before Harry could say another word, leaving the two boys alone in the small tower room once more.
"The Bloody Baron.... likes you?" Harry couldn't help smiling at the thought of the grim, blood-drenched ghost liking anyone.
Draco shrugged, slipping his wand back in his pocket. "I talk to him sometimes. He hates my father as much as I do."
"Then you think Peeves is telling the truth?" Harry questioned, taking the cue from Draco and putting his wand away as well. A noise in the corridor, which sounded suspiciously like a cat's yowl answered that question well enough. Harry cast a hurried look around the barren room before settling his gaze on his father's cloak, which lay discarded on the floor near his feet. He picked up the cloak and draped it quickly across his shoulders and then he happened to glance towards Malfoy who was standing where he had been with a look of resignation on his face. He made no move to look for a place to hide or even to make a break for it. It was almost as if he didn't care if he got caught.
"Nothing else to do..." Harry murmured, advanced on Draco quickly. "Malfoy, get against the wall."
"What?" Draco asked, looking up in the direction of Harry's voice with shock evident on his face. "What the hell.... Hey!" He hollered as Harry's hands came into view for a brief moment, shoving him forcibly back into the corner. "What... what are you doing!?" Draco hissed as he felt Harry's body settle against his own. He could see Harry now, just barely in the darkness Harry tucked edge of the cloak around Draco's slim body.
"The cloak's not big enough to cover two people completely anymore. Now shut up." Harry almost started in amazement as he felt Draco's arm snake out around his waist and pull Harry more firmly against him.
"Why are you doing this?" Draco whispered once they were lodged back as tightly against the wall as they could be, his breath warm against Harry's ear.
"I don't know." Harry replied, closing his eyes and leaning against Draco as the door slammed open, smashing into the wall nearby with a distinctive crash.
Neither Draco nor Harry could see Filch and Mrs. Norris enter the room, but they could hear them well enough. Filch's wheezing breaths were hard to miss. Harry bit his lip and pressed closer to Draco, feeling the Slytherin's grip on him tighten. They were going to be caught. There was no escape. Rules about being out after hours were much stricter nowadays. Not to mention the rules against dueling. If they managed to escape detention before they graduated they'd be lucky.
Then, by some amazing whim of fate, the door closed and Filch and Mrs. Norris were gone. Harry let out a long breath he hadn't realized he was holding and was about to step back when Draco's grip tightened. "We shouldn't move yet. They might come back." He hissed tensely, reminding Harry of their position, a fact that he'd somehow managed to overlook in those long terrible moments when Filch had stormed the room.
Draco's head was resting on shoulder, breath tickling Harry's neck every time he exhaled. He could feel every line of Draco's body against his and it wasn't terrible. It was almost nice to have contact with someone like this, as long as he didn't spend too long dwelling on exactly whom it was who was pressed so tightly against him.
Moments passed like hours as they waited in silence, pressed together beneath the darkness of the invisibility cloak. Draco sighed, closing his eyes against the pure absurdity of the situation. He'd come here to fight with Potter. To teach him a lesson, to bring him down a peg, whatever, and he'd ended up pressed against the wall, practically clinging to the boy he hated. And actually enjoying it. Or at least his body was. His mind didn't like it one little bit, but his body was having a gay old time. Gay old time. Something vaguely resembling a giggle escaped Draco's lips. It was just so stupid. He hated being touched and yet he didn't mind this. He didn't mind Potter touching him at all. It was really very funny. So why did he feel like crying?
"Malfoy?" Harry asked hesitantly, feeling the dampness of tears against his throat as the first sobs racked Draco's slim form. "Malfoy? Are you okay?" He whispered more insistently as the blonde's arms tightened to almost vise-like proportions around him.
"No, I am not okay." Draco responded brokenly, burying his face against Harry's neck, unable to stop the sobs now that they had started. "I hate you, Potter. I just... I hate you."
Harry closed his eyes for a long moment, the old hatred warring with compassion, and then he slipped his arms around Malfoy's shuddering frame and held him. There was simply nothing else he could do. "Ssshh... I know," he whispered against Draco's feather-soft hair. They stood there for a long time, Filch and Mrs. Norris forgotten altogether as Draco trembled, his tears soaking the shoulder of Harry's robe. Harry wasn't certain how long they stood there but, eventually, Draco's sobs quieted and ceased altogether. He was still trembling when his arms dropped to his sides as exhaustion took its toll and Draco actually fell asleep leaning against Harry's chest.
With a quiet, long-suffering sigh, Harry gathered the sleeping Malfoy in his arms and headed out of the tower. He considered taking the sleeping Slytherin back to the dungeons, but that would mean either waking the boy up or just hoping that by some miracle he'd manage to get all the way to the dungeons and into the Slytherin common room without getting caught. Neither was a particularly tempting option at the moment. He didn't think there was a chance in hell of not getting caught if he tempted fate twice in the same night and as for waking Malfoy.... He spared a glance down at the sleeping boy and shook his head. He just couldn't do it. Not with those tear tracks still marring Malfoy's pale cheeks.
It was a long trek back to Gryffindor tower with Draco's surprisingly light body in his arms. When he arrived the Fat Lady merely gave him a strange look before allowing him through. If she noticed the Slytherin tucked beneath his heavy cloak she chose not to comment.
Hermione and Ron were waiting for him in the common room and both leapt to their feet at the sight of him, their eyes widening at the sight of Draco.
"Did you kill him?" Ron whispered, his voice more awed then horrified.
"Of course he didn't kill him, don't be ridiculous." Hermione snapped, turning back to Harry after a moment. "You didn't kill him, did you?"
"No. He's just sleeping." Harry responded softly, settling his bundle down on the nearest armchair before taking his cloak off and nestling it around the sleeping boy.
"You knocked him out? Good show!" Ron grinned, clapping Harry on the back.
"No, I didn't. We never even got to the duel." Harry murmured, turning back to his friends now that Draco was settled. "Peeves came along and warned us that Filch was coming. Well, warned Malfoy anyway."
"Peeves warned Malfoy? Like he likes him or something?" Ron responded, obviously confused by this strange turn of events. He wasn't sure which was more astonishing in his mind: Peeves actually liking someone or anybody at all liking Draco Malfoy
"No, but I guess the Bloody Baron has something of a soft spot for him."
"Huh. Go figure." Ron murmured, eyeing the Slytherin suspiciously. "He really doesn't look like the Prince of Darkness when he's sleeping, does he?"
"No, he doesn't." Harry answered quietly, casting a look at Draco over his shoulder before turning back to his friends. "We hid under the invisibility cloak when Filch came by and..." He hesitated, not really wanting to explain what had happened after that. Hermione and Ron were his best friends, but it had been a rather private moment. Hermione, fortunately, sensed his hesitation and saved him from having to explain any further.
"Right. That's all well and good, but why did you bring him here of all places? You should have taken him back to the Slytherin dungeons." Hermione admonished softly, "Honestly, Harry, I don't know what you were thinking about. You'll have to keep him quiet and hidden until everyone goes to breakfast in the morning."
"I know. I just... I didn't know what else to do. I didn't want to wake him." Harry shrugged helplessly and Hermione patted his shoulder gently.
"It's all right. I understand, I think. Ron help Harry get Malfoy upstairs and figure out what to do with him. I'm going to bed." She announced, giving both Harry and a blushing Ron quick kisses on the cheek before disappearing into the girl's dorm.
"I think she likes you." Harry grinned as Ron turned even redder.
"She kissed you too." Ron grumbled, defensively before moving around the chair to stare down at the sleeping Slytherin. "So where do you want to stash him? Maybe we could just shove him in your trunk. He'd probably fit."
"I don't think he'd be too quiet about it when he woke up though. We'll just have to put him in the bed with me. I'll draw the drapes and hope he's smart enough to wake me before he goes clamoring about the room."
"I still think the trunk is a better idea, but whatever you want to do with the little ferret is fine by me. After all, he's your boyfriend."
Harry wrinkled his nose in disgust, "He's not my boyfriend."
"See! You're even starting to sound like him now." Ron grinned, picking up Harry's cloak and folding it over his arm while Harry picked up the sleeping Malfoy.
"And I'm starting to see why he hates you too." Harry grumbled, trudging after Ron up the stairs to their dormitory. "Feel free to stop the teasing before I kill you."
"You'll HAVE to kill me in order to live this one down."
"I hate you."
Ron just laughed as he lead the way to their room, opening the door to the familiar sound of Seamus' high-velocity snoring. "Bet you missed this while you were shacking up in the infirmary."
"Probably more than anything." Harry sighed, carrying Malfoy to his bed and laying him down before pulling the drapes closed. Ron was still smiling cheerfully as he tucked Harry's cloak back into his trunk and set about getting ready for bed. "So, is this the signal for a cease-fire in the Great War o' Malfoy?" Ron asked softly as he stepped into his pajamas.
"I don't know. I hope so. I don't think I could handle another night like this one." Harry sighed, stepping into his own pajamas as he spoke. "It was just way too strange."
"It would be kinda nice not to have to worry about all his nasty little pranks and comments anymore."
"It would be nice, but I don't know if that's going to happen. G'night, Ron." Harry murmured, slipping through the drapes and into bed.
Now that he was relatively alone, Harry took a moment to gaze down at his bed partner for the night. How in the world had this happened? A few hours ago he'd hated Malfoy. Despised the ground Malfoy walked upon and now Malfoy was sleeping peacefully in his bed.
Ron was right about one thing, Draco Malfoy really didn't look like a bad sort at all when he was sleeping. He was actually kind of cute with his ash blond hair falling across his pale forehead and his legs curled up against his chest. Smiling despite himself, Harry pulled the blanket up and tucked it around Malfoy before slipping under the sheets himself. He still hated Malfoy. Beneath that sleeping innocence and the quiet sobs in the darkness, Malfoy was still Malfoy and Malfoy still hated him desperately, but... something had changed between them in the tower. The only problem was that Harry had a nagging feeling that it hadn't been a change for the better.
~to be continued~
Yet another chapter. This is actually kind of freaky. I couldn't do anything with this story for months and all of a sudden it's just raining chapters from the bright blue (or in my case black) sky. It's weird, but weird is apparently extremely productive so I'm not complaining. The next chapter is also well on it's way to being complete, JFYI. ^_^
EVIL SD SEYMOUR GUADO: It's all my doing. Heehehehe...
That's right, it's all your doing. I'm so glad I bought you. ^_^
Huge thanks to Laura, Zipporah
(There's more Hermione is this story then you can shake a stick
at, if you hadn't already noticed that from the above chapter.),
ShinigamiStar, Youko Gingitsune, Crys Clouse, Dala (I agree
completely ^_^ Leather pants... lalala...), Qggg, Mirekisa
Tekisale (Thank you so much. ^_^), Pisces, Angelic Dragon, Sandra
Solaria Dees, Rubicon, Celeste, Ari, Lady Ash, Raquel Lily,
Jessica, Domino Nermandi, and Abaddon. I hope this chapter didn't
Yes, there is a good reason that Hermione and Ron are kind of taking this whole Malfoy thing a little too much in stride, in case you're wondering. I'll be getting to that eventually. Also, the letter, which has been mysteriously absent from mention within the last... oh.... five chapters or so will make a come back in the next chapter as the nice bit which justifies this story being called a mystery comes be-boping back into play.
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