Summary: Draco Malfoy doesn’t know why he keeps coming up to the Astronomy tower. Harry Potter isn’t sure why he is so obsessed with Draco Malfoy. And it may be years yet until they see eye to eye.
Disclaimer: I own my shoes, but I don’t own the characters in this story.
A/N: This fic takes place in the A Trio of Tricksters universe. It is a present to my partner Transreal_Clouden and is betaed by cyborg-goddess.
A Beautiful Friendship
Draco didn’t know why he kept coming to the Astronomy tower. It was the site of one of his biggest failures. Every time he came up here he relieved that night, and that wasted chance. Everything could have changed then, if he had just been the littlest bit more brave.
Taking a deep breath of the open night air, blustering through the tower, which was open to the night sky, he looked up at the sky, which was clouded over, stars cloaked from his vision.
How many times had he come up here to observe the constellations they had learned about in their daytime classes? How many times had he looked at his own star? At his mother’s? At the star of the cousin he never knew, Sirius Black, Potter’s godfather, and the star of the woman who killed him, his aunt Bellatrix.
Draco’s thoughts turned to Potter, as they often did, and he reflected upon all the ways that he, Draco, had done wrong by the boy-who-lived, the Chosen One, the Man-Who-Conquered. How Draco had thought himself Potter’s arch enemy when in fact Draco was barely a gnat compared to Voldemort and his influence on Potter’s life.
Why had Potter saved his life? He could have let Draco and Greg burn in Vince’s stupidity, but the quartet of friends came back for the two of them, and carried them out to safety.
When they were deposited, singed and shell-shocked outside the burning room that was the one word out of his mouth, and Potter’s response had haunted him ever since.
“Because while I might look back on this and think I made a mistake, I don’t go out of my way to let people suffer, and enough lives have been lost tonight. Perhaps there will be more, but they don’t have to be ours.”
That damned nobility of Potter’s. He was such a hero that he would even save his enemies. Not that he really was much of an enemy, he reminded himself again. Not that Potter even cared . The boy wonder had barely spared him a second glance this whole eighth year, only spending time around those that had been in the secret army he had started that everyone knew about. Dumbledore’s Army.
And now Draco’s thoughts returned to the tower, and why he was there on a blustery night with no stars when no classes were scheduled. Dumbledore. The man he had failed to kill and the man who had failed to save him.
When Draco thought back to the first round through seventh year he was horrified by the things that he had said and done. He wasn’t the worst of them — he had never crucioed a first year — but he had never stopped anyone from crucioing a first year either.
Draco was not a good person, and he wasn’t even sure what it meant to be a good person. People seemed to think that Potter was good, but did they know that Potter had used a dark curse in their sixth year, which almost killed Draco, and still left him with scars? So if there was darkness in Potter, was there good in Draco? Perhaps he should try to find out.
ABF ABF ABF
Harry wasn’t sure why he was so obsessed with Draco Malfoy. The young man fascinated him in a way that he couldn’t quite explain, and occupied his thoughts constantly, as in the current case of Harry’s watching Malfoy’s footsteps pace around the astronomy tower via the marauder’s map. In so many ways, ways that he was sure Malfoy didn’t even know, the Slytherin had been integral to winning the war against Voldemort. If Malfoy hadn’t disarmed Dumbledore, and yet failed to kill him, then Harry may never have mastered the Elder Wand. And if Malfoy hadn’t delayed in identifying him at Malfoy Manor, than they might never have been given an opportunity to escape via Dobby. But most importantly, Harry never would have been able to return to the castle, never would have been given the opportunity to fake his death, if Narcissa Malfoy had not participated in the ruse that Voldemort had succeeded in killing him out of love for her son.
The complex storm of emotions that Harry felt for Malfoy simply couldn’t be distilled, and he was being driven into a kind of madness from it. Well, if he was being honest, there was more than just Malfoy that was driving him to madness, but it was easier to focus on the blond rather than grapple with the other ways in which his world was in all kinds of turmoil in the aftermath of Voldemort’s defeat. He, Ron, Hermione, and Neville had all been offered a chance to go straight into the auror academy after their work to defeat Voldemort, despite a lack of NEWTs and an interrupted education for all of them. Nevertheless, they, and many others in their year, had chosen to go back to Hogwarts.
They all had their trauma, and much of what the school had gone through was along house divides. Harry wasn’t unaware of the fact that there was a lot of hostility toward the Slytherins for what had been done in the name of their founder. But from what he had discovered via some introspection and investigation was that those Slytherin first years were just as bewildered and scared, they were just better at hiding it. And perhaps the Slytherins were not as open about their defiance, but he did not believe that they all fell exactly in line with what the Carrows and Snape had going on, and his investigations showed he was right. There were good Slytherins out there. Some of his fellow Gryffindors balked when he said this because they said he was setting the bar too low, but then what would they be left with? And honestly, what was good anyway? They were all complicit in some way. They had all let this war go on for far too long, and pureblood supremacy was far too entrenched in their society.
Even now, wizards who had been on Voldemort’s side and supported his goals, some explicitly, some implicitly, were retaining their places of power, through gold or smooth talking. Some shook their heads and said that of course they were, because “that’s Slytherins for you”, ignoring the fact that some of the most prominent purebloods in their society came from all four houses, and that one did not have to be in a certain house to be a bigot. Harry thought back to Ernie Macmillian, a boy who had since become an ally, who claimed that he should not be attacked by the heir of Slytherin because of his family’s generations of wizarding heritage. Ernie was a Hufflepuff, and as much as he claimed to not buy into pureblood supremacy it still protected him and its values informed his actions.
The difference, Harry thought, between Ernie and Malfoy, was how they let the pureblood supremacy that informed their values inform their actions. Nevertheless, overcoming that privilege was a task for Ernie that took him several years of growth. Harry wondered if Malfoy would ever achieve that growth. If Malfoy would even want to. He seemed genuinely remorseful, at the trial. And as he had been underage when the entire fiasco in sixth year occurred, and all the actions of students in the horrible year of war were considered forced on them by the Carrows, he was allowed to return to school without issue, as were the majority of the Slytherins. The tension this caused amongst the students was somewhat horrifying, but there was only so much that the professors could do when they were also suffering from the same trauma. What was their world to do? That the battle had taken place in the castle, both the final one and the year long warzone that Hogwarts had become, created damage that reverberated through the school. It was a miracle that they were able to learn anything at all.
At the suggestion of Hermione, who had done copious amounts of research, as ever, they had hired two wizards and three witches who were skilled mind healers trained in both wizarding and muggle psychotherapy to come as live-in advisors to the students, the five of them setting up offices in refurbished classrooms and working to help the students cope.
They were a great help to the students who sought out the help, but it was an uphill battle to get the students to accept the help, especially since only one of the wizards was British, the rest being from foreign countries, and thus there was a double stigma of having the counselors not only be mental health professionals and thus other people thinking the student not capable, but also that the counselors were foreign and foreignness was bad in their imagination.
Harry wondered if Malfoy had been to talk to any of the counselors. Harry hadn’t for a long time, but Hermione pointed out that no one had more trauma than him, and also if he went then others would be more encouraged to do so, and thus he decided that, if nothing else, it would be best to set a responsible example. And, he would admit privately, Healer Matthews had been an enormous help to his processing everything that had happened in the war, and honestly throughout his life. He didn’t think that things were fixed completely, and he had a long way to go, but at the same time, he was sure that he was on a much better path than he had been. At the same time, he couldn’t get Draco out of his head.
ABF ABF ABF
The next time that Harry saw Malfoy was at the Astronomy tower he made a split second and (possibly regrettable) decision to go there as well. He wasn’t sure why, but he needed to talk to the Slytherin, he needed to have that conversation.
“Potter,” Malfoy looked startled to see him there, and Harry reflected on the fact that all the times he had seen that Malfoy came here, he was always alone. Belatedly, Harry realised that he was intruding on what was quite possibly an incredibly personal and private space and time, and felt briefly ashamed. And yet, he still felt like he needed to be here. All the same, he also felt that he had lost his nerve upon the look of surprise, and what looked like fear that was on Malfoy’s face.
“Malfoy.” Harry scratched the back of his head.
They hadn’t been alone together since… probably since Harry had almost killed Malfoy during sixth year. A long time, and a lot had happened since then. An understatement to say that surely.
“Come to report me for being out after hours then?”
“Neither of us are in any position to be reporting someone, Malfoy. I just want to talk.”
“About…? What? The weather? The stars? The moonlight? You’re not exactly my type, Potter.”
“And you’re not exactly mine,” Harry rolled his eyes at how defensive Malfoy was being.
“Ah yes, but you could have anyone, couldn’t you?” Malfoy asked in a faux jovial tone.
“I don’t want anyone. And I don’t want to talk about my non-existent love life. I want to talk about the war.” Harry cut to the chase.
“Well, funnily enough, I don’t, so if you’ll excuse me —” Malfoy made to push past Harry, but was stopped by a forcible hand on his shoulder.
“Why didn’t you tell them?” Harry asked quietly. “I know you knew it was me. Why didn’t you tell anyone at the Manor, that they had captured Harry Potter?”
“I don’t know what you’re—”
“Don’t lie to me, Malfoy. You’re bad at it.”
“Look, Potter, do you really want to go down this road?” Malfoy snapped, forcing Harry’s arm away and stepping back.
“Yes.” Harry replied firmly. Malfoy let out a frustrated sigh.
“I don’t know why I didn’t say. I don’t know why I didn’t kill Dumbledore. I don’t have some innate sense of right and wrong like you seem to. I just do things or I don’t and none of it makes any sense.” At this point Malfoy was almost shouting, and gripping his hair fiercely.
“I think it does make sense. I think you do have a sense of right and wrong. And I think you can be a better person.” Harry replied.
“What, so you want to make me your pet project?” Malfoy spat.
“No.” Harry replied simply. “I’m not going to hold your hand about this and help you every step of the way. But I can see that you have the potential to change, and more importantly that you want to. So do it. Make the effort. Take that leap toward the man you want to be. But don’t do it for me. Don’t do it because of what is or isn’t expected of you. Do it for yourself.”
“You’re not my therapist, Potter,” Draco replied, almost automatically as he did his best to avoid the actual content of what Harry was saying.
With a snort Harry replied: “I’m not trying to be. Hell if I want that job. Most of what I’m repeating is riffs off what my therapist had told me and what I’ve read in books. But it doesn’t make it less true. I don’t know that I want to be your friend, Draco,” Harry used the other boy’s given name for the first time. “But we aren’t enemies, not anymore. Not after everything that’s happened. So in a few years, come find me, and let’s talk.”
ABF ABF ABF
Draco and Harry didn’t talk again for the rest of their time at Hogwarts. And the next time they did encounter one another it was quite unexpectedly, and unintentionally. It was three years after leaving Hogwarts, and Harry had been out in the muggle world, testing a new invention of Luna’s.
It was a listening device, disguised as an iPod, the new music listening device that had been released in the muggle world late the previous year. Using the device, he was able to tell what other people were listening to on their nearby devices, and also both sides of any conversations via mobiles, which were growing in popularity, all while it looked like he was merely listening to his own music. Most of it was fairly innocuous, and all it really told him was how eclectic the average muggle’s taste in music was, and how dismal their love lives tended to be. On one memorable occasion Harry encountered someone listening to an erotic audiodrama and suffice to say that he would never think about tarts the same way again.
On the day that Harry met Draco for the first time in three years, he almost didn’t recognize him. This was mostly because, despite the fact that they hadn’t conversed, they had seen each other. Draco was an up and coming member of the Wizengamot, taking over his father’s old spot given the man’s public status as a Death Eater, and Harry’s status as the Chosen One meant he was frequently at the ministry, despite the fact that he preferred to spend his time experimenting with spell creation with Hermione and Luna, or doing his actual job, which was working at a used muggle bookshop in London. It wasn’t a glamorous position, but Harry didn’t want to work in the wizarding world, not where everyone knew his name and his story, and he wasn’t qualified to work at anything else without any muggle documentation. But he had worked his way up in the ranks and now was a manager, and found that working to run a business was something he actively enjoyed.
All the same, he was still dragged into the Wizarding realm for Ministry functions, and whenever he saw Malfoy, Draco was always wearing the finest of Wizarding robes, had his hair long pulled back with a simple and elegant ribbon in the pureblood style, and held himself with a stiff sort of arrogance. It was as though they had never had that conversation on the astronomy tower.
And yet, as Harry walked through Piccadilly Circus he found himself coming face to face with a man who was undoubtedly Draco Malfoy, and yet Draco as Harry had never seen him. This Draco was wearing a pair of tan chinos, oxford shoes, and a Coldplay t-shirt with a flannel and a leather jacket. His blond hair was messy and down to around his shoulders, and Harry was surprised to see him wearing glasses and carrying a copy of Pride and Prejudice . Even more surprising was that, according to Luna’s device, he was listening to the Spice Girls, which Harry was not at all expecting but was a choice he couldn’t help but respect as they were his favorite musical artist. Given these many contrasting signals, he never would have connected this individual with the Malfoy he knew, were it not for the startled reaction when the man saw him, and the man’s unconscious voicing of his name.
“I think I like it better when you call me Draco.”
“Draco then.” Harry paused, not sure what to say.
“You probably want to know why I’m walking through muggle London and look like I’m majoring in English at the local University,” Draco asked with a quirked eyebrow.
“Took the words right out my mouth,” Harry let out a laugh.
“Well, I’ve got a bit of time, if you want to grab a pint. Catch up. You said I should come find you, and look where we are.”
ABF ABF ABF
They got themselves a corner booth at the local pub, and Draco started his story.
“I did a lot of thinking, after that night. I hated you, for a long time. For telling me to be better, but not showing me how. But I realized that was something I needed to figure out for myself. And so I did research, a lot of research, and I realized that I knew next to nothing about the muggle world. So I decided to dig deeper. And what I found was that there was so much more that I never knew.
“After graduation I told everyone I was going on a world tour, but what I actually did was I stayed in muggle London. I never left but a few miles, and instead I enrolled myself in adult remedial classes. I got a job at a shop, and I told the people at the school that I had been homeschooled with a patchy education. I’ve managed to take my GCSEs, and now I’m studying for my A-Levels. Should be able to take them this year, and then I’ll start university in the fall. It’s not a bad life, living as a muggle. My wizarding duties don’t take up too much of my time. Even being on the Wizengamot is a bit of a joke given how gridlocked it is in terms of that nothing ever gets passed to change for better or for worse.” Draco took a sip of his beer and looked to Harry, who had simply been staring, tanker untouched on the table in front of him. “Say something, Potter.”
“Well,” Harry blinked. “I certainly wasn’t expecting that.” He reached forward and peered at his drink. “And I haven’t even started drinking yet.”
“Oh for God’s sake!” Draco groaned and Harry laughed before finally taking a swig from his glass.
“I’m only taking the piss. That’s a hard double life to live. And I won’t lie and say I’m not impressed. You don’t use your real name in the muggle world, I take it?” Harry asked.
“God no,” Draco snorted. “That’s traceable even by the most incompetent of wizards. You have a muggle identity too I expect?”
“Well yeah, I don’t want people following me about, and unfortunately there are many rather competent wizards after me,” Harry nodded.
“Well, I know that Harry Potter can’t be friends with Draco Malfoy . But I don’t see either of them here.”
“Nah. My name’s Phil Barton. It’s nice to meet you…?”
“Tony Rogers. Nice to meet you as well.”
“This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”
Author’s Note: If you didn’t understand the earlier astronomy reference, it’s my personal headcanon that they have daytime classes and the nighttime class only happens once a month because kids need sleep and Hogwarts needs better pedagogy. *insert claps for emphasis* Also the reason it’s a quartet of friends that rescued Draco is that Luna was on the horcrux hunt.
Edit: I got a note from a reviewer on FFN that reminded me that being asexual and being aromantic are not the same things, and, since this will cause me trouble down the line if I don’t clarify, I think I should note that while Harry is asexual, he is not aromantic. That said, this isn’t Harry/Draco. Sorry fam. They’re just friends. Sometimes that happens! Wild, right?
Fic Recommendation: Wake the Dragon by TardisIsTheOnlyWayToTravel on AO3. “Draco Malfoy wakes up with all the memories of King Arthur Pendragon. It gets worse – because he’s not the only one along for the ride.” Basically Draco is King Arthur, Harry is Merlin, and it’s both a romp and incredibly amusing. Not quite complete, and I’m not sure the author will continue with it since they have lots of other fics to keep them occupied, but what has been posted is delightful.
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