It was just Harry’s luck that, during one of the worst weeks of school he had gone through that year, a week filled with torment from the toad of a teacher Umbridge and the worst potions accident he had ever caused, he had been caught out wandering across grounds of Hogwarts on his way back from Hagrid’s cabin, just as a rainstorm had begun. Now, he was stuck taking shelter under one of the many trees along the grounds, standing close to the trunk to keep out of the torrent of water. Harry knew there was probably some kind of spell that could protect him from the icy water, or another that could have him dry and warm in an instant, but for the life of him, he couldn’t think of what the spell was. ‘Hermione would know’ Harry thought bitterly, cursing himself for not being as studious as his friend. It was possible he could make a break for the castle, and just find Hermione afterwards, to get her to teach Harry the spell. Although, thinking about it, with the kind of luck Harry had been having he was more likely to slip and break his neck before he made it anywhere near the dry sanctuary. So it was probably safer for him to stay with his tree.
“Well, well, well. Look who it is. Out for a stroll in the rain Potter?”
Harry jumped, startled by the sudden voice that seemed to come from nowhere. After a quick look around, Harry was still confused as to where the voice had originated from, until a chuckle had him looking up, into the branches. There, his eyes met the trademark silver-grey of one Draco Malfoy, who was sprawled on his stomach with his legs straddling a sturdy branch, robes folded over the branch behind him and a smirk directed down at Harry.
“Malfoy.” Harry glared up into the amused eyes of his school nemesis, taking in his bedraggled appearance, and the water that drenched his pale blonde hair, gluing it to his forehead. “How did you find me here?” Harry growled. The blonde boy rolled his eyes, propping his chin atop his crossed hands.
“Don’t flatter yourself Potter,” he drawled. “I was here first. Or do you really think I’d be able to follow you here, and climb this tree without you seeing or hearing me?”
“I wouldn’t put it past you.” Harry spat, moving away from the tree trunk so he could look at Malfoy without craning his neck too much. “You are notorious for being a sneak.”
His comment was met with a laugh.
“I’m going to take that as a compliment. I should be honoured the glorious boy-who-lived thinks I have the skill to sneak so efficiently.”
At the unofficial title, Harry felt his face flush in anger, regardless of the cold spray that collected on his face now that he had ventured closer to the rain. “Don’t call me that.” He muttered.
“And why not?” The other boy questioned, voice taking on a mocking edge. “Would you prefer the Golden Boy? Or maybe the Chosen One?”
“I said stop it!” Harry shouted. He glared at Draco.
“I’m none of that stuff! I’m not some kid hero that enjoys fame or anything. It’s not my fault that people keep treating me like some kind of celebrity. I’m not! I don’t want to be.” Harry’s eyes turn down, and he walks back to the thick tree-trunk. “I don’t want anyone to treat me any different than anyone else. I just want to be normal. Why can’t I just be normal?”
He slid down the trunk, wrapping his arms around his legs and resting his head on his knees. “I’m not even normal back home,” he whispers, unsure why he is admitting this to his enemy, but unable to keep it in anymore. “My Aunt and Uncle hate me for having magic. They used to lock me in a cupboard under some stairs, sometimes for days. My cousin beats me up all the time. Sometimes my Uncle does too. Forget being famous,” Harry whispers brokenly. “I’d happily give it all up if it would bring my parents back and I could leave that place.”
There is silence between the two boys, broken only by the hard pattering of rain, and a deep rumble of thunder. It’s quiet for so long that Harry begins to wonder if Draco even heard any of his story.
“My father beats me sometimes.”
The confession is spoken quietly, Harry only hearing due to the fact the voice spoke from directly above him. He’s scared to move, worried that if he did, the spell would be broken and the blonde would remember who it was he was speaking with. Instead, Harry continues to sit still, head still on his knees.
“Not with his fists or anything. Who needs fists when you have magic, anyway? He was so angry with me when he learned I hadn’t managed to befriend you in our first year. That was the first time he used the Cruciatus on me.”
Harry feels a cold stone
drop into his stomach. His head shoots up, looking to the pale boy who
lay above him. Draco’s head is turned away from harry, pillowed on his
“But you were eleven!” Harry cries, disgusted. He knew Lucius Malfoy was far from a caring man, but to use the Cruciatus curse on an eleven year old boy, his own son? Harry can remember his own run in with the curse the year before, when he had faced Voldemort in the graveyard. The lightning pain that had raced through every part of his body, how it seemed to grow with every breath he took. Every nerve on fire, the slightest of pressures multiplied to an excruciating level. For a child, not even a teenager, to feel something like that. Harry shuddered. He couldn’t help but feel a slight twinge of guilt. That had happened because he didn’t accept Draco’s offer of friendship. Granted, had he actually taken the hand and chosen Draco over Ron, he would likely be dead, but still. It didn’t ease his guilt.
“There’s no point
feeling guilty Potter.” Harry snaps out of his thought, glancing back up
into the tree. The grey eyes are on him again, the rest of the angular
face hidden behind a robe-clad arm. “I know it's a hard thing for you to
do, what with your hero complex, but it's pointless. Regardless what
you or I had of done, my father would have found something to punish me
for. He’s just that kind of man.” A humorless chuckle follows the
“I often found, growing up, that no matter how hard I tried to act like the perfect child, there was always something I would screw up. Always a reason I needed to be disciplined.”
“But, if you know your father is such an unreasonable man, why are you always acting like him?” Harry wonders, confused.
”You are not the only one who lives with expectations on your shoulders, Potter.” The Malfoy heir explains, pushing himself up onto his feet, balancing gracefully on the branch, before dropping to the ground gracefully, landing beside the still seated Harry. He reaches up to snag his folded robes, before continuing. “My father is a man known to be one of The Dark Lord’s biggest followers. Not to mention I’m the ‘Prince of Slytherin House’,” Draco rolls his eyes and raises his hands to make air quotes around the title. “I have a certain image to maintain, or a lot of bad attention will be focused on me.”
Harry scoffs, stretching his legs out and leaning back against the tree. He looks up at Draco, mouth curled into a teasing smile. “You? Avoiding attention? What is the world coming to?”
Draco huffs a laugh, reaching down to offer Harry his hand, which the dark haired boy took, pulling himself to his feet. “Maybe we’re not exactly what the other thought.” Draco suggests with a small smirk. “You’re not exactly the fame hunter some people make you out to be.”
“And you’re not the cold-hearted, spoiled brat you act like,” Harry conceded, looking out of the tree coverage at the slowing rain. “Although you are brilliant at acting like one.”
Draco adopted a cool look, shrugging his robes on in one fluid movement before brushing invisible dust from his shoulder. “Don’t expect this little talk of ours to change anything,” he drawled, nose stuck in the air in an over dramatic display of poshness. “I do have a reputation to uphold.”
Harry laughed at his act, dusting off his own pants.
“Good. I wouldn’t know what to do if you suddenly started acting tolerable.” A quick glance at the slowly darkening sky. “We’d better head back to the castle. Someone might start worrying.”
“And by someone, you men your girlfriend Granger, I suppose?”
“Hermione isn’t my girlfriend.” “Yes, obviously I know that. It’s not hard to notice the way she moons after the Weasel. Too bad, she could do a lot better.” A long, pale finger jabs at Harry’s chest. “And if you ever tell her I told you that, I’ll hex you so bad, your great-grandchildren will feel the effects.”
Harry laughed again, holding his hands up in surrender. “I won’t, I swear.”
He glanced again out at the rain, which had slowed significantly, but was still falling hard enough that Harry would be soaked by the time he got back to the castle. He was preparing himself for the mad dash through the cold, before Draco rolled his eyes, whipping his wand out of his sleeve and waving it at Harry with a muttered manerida. Immediately Harry could feel the effects, as a warmth seemed to blanket him. Holding his hand under the dripping water experimentally, he was delighted to find the water rolled straight off, with not even a hint of chill. He smiled gratefully at the boy beside him, who nodded back, tucking his wand away.
“Don’t expect any more favours in the future Potter. You can let Granger fuss over you from now on.”
Harry brushes the comment off, choosing instead to ask, “So what were you doing out here anyway Malfoy?” “Well if you must know, Potter, I enjoy taking walks in the rain. It’s peaceful, and makes it easier to think. And this is my favourite tree to stop at.”
“I see.” Harry stood
silent for a moment, watching the blonde boy from the corner of his eye.
“Well,” he decided. “Next time it rains, I may just find myself stuck
out under this tree again. I’ve already forgotten the spell to keep me
dry, and I wouldn’t want to get sick, you understand?” he smiles conspiratorially
“Hmm,” Draco lets out a thoughtful hum. “And I may not hex me if you do turn up.”
“Only ‘may not’. Well that’s reassuring and encouraging.” Harry states sarcastically. There is only a shrug in reply. The two stand together, side by side facing out onto the open grounds of the school they shared. For the first time since their very first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the two boys were getting along.
The moment ends, as Harry steps out from under the umbrella of leaves, into the light deluge of water. He rushed carefully towards the castle, and his friends. He spares a brief look back, seeing Draco watching his retreat. Harry smiles, sending him a quick wave, before he turned back around and continued his journey. And with that, the two boys parted ways, although they both left with the knowledge that, perhaps, they were more similar than they originally thought.