Title: The More You Ignore Me
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, some brief Harry/Ginny
Summary: Hogwarts has gone through some changes, and now Harry is faced with scheming housemates, flying rose bushes and a Malfoy obsessed with Muggle music.
Warnings: Slash, brief het, some English music of the 90s
Total word count: ~ 6,800
Original prompt request number: 90
Disclaimer: This story/artwork 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.
Author's notes: Hope you enjoy, hanson_phreek (original requester), and I hope everyone else enjoys too! Thank you so much to silver_ariel for the fantastic beta.
Beta(s): Mel (in RL)
“Slightly morbid celebration, with all those dead bodies hanging around,” a voice spoke from behind him, and Harry jumped, glancing over his shoulder to see the tall, thin silhouette of Draco Malfoy, leaning against the balcony entrance. Harry rolled his eyes, but made no verbal reply. Malfoy righted himself and strode over so he was leaning over the balcony, like Harry. He was still shorter than Harry, but taller than when they had last met.
“Why aren’t you in there, with the rest of them? Seems like you’d be the one they’d want to make the toasts with.” He was right, of course. The Weasleys would be looking for him, soon enough. Only Luna seemed to have grasped his need to be alone, to remember. His parents, Remus, Tonks, Sirius... they had all been there. And Harry had had the chance to go to them, to see them again. To be at peace, instead of surrounded by dead bodies, toasting the fallen and celebrating the fall of Voldemort. But no one, especially not Malfoy, had the right to know this. Instead, he answered with a question that had been niggling at the far back corners of his mind since he had watched the Malfoys bid a tearful (at least, on Narcissa’s part) goodbye to Draco earlier in the evening.
“Why aren’t you gone, Malfoy? With your parents?”
“I’ll go later. There are still things I’d like to do, at Hogwarts.” Almost as if he knew what Harry was thinking, he added, “It was my home too, Potter. It was a lot of people’s homes. And considering the damage...well, how long at we going to have to wait for repairs? Who knows when I’ll be back?” Harry had nothing to say to this, so remained silent once again.
“You still haven’t answered my question, Potter. Why aren’t you in there with your little girlfriend wrapped around you, people yelling their praise at you from every direction? I don’t think anyone would begrudge you a moment in the spotlight.”
Harry glanced at him sharply at this, and Malfoy shrugged.
“Well, I would, I suppose. But you haven’t given a flying fuck about my opinion in the past. Why would you start now?”
Harry shrugged. Malfoy had a point. “Why did you suddenly go from Voldemort’s Number One fan to double crosser, Malfoy?”
“Oh, for—” at this, Draco looked frustrated. His fingers tapped irritably against the cool stone of the balcony. “Stop answering questions with questions, Potter.” Harry looked at him calmly for several moments, until he made a frustrated little noise and turned so that his whole body was facing Harry. “I was never Voldemort’s number one fan. My father joined him, it was expected of me to follow in his footsteps. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it, Potter. The power, the control. The Dark Lord is—was—a very persuasive man.”
Harry nodded understanding at this, remembering how Voldemort had managed to even charm a Hogwarts ghost, when he had been so inclined.
“I never really changed,” Draco continued, pressing his lips together and tucking his hands away in his torn robe pockets. “I just didn’t support either side.”
“Smart move, I suppose.” Harry muttered. If Draco had only allowed Dumbledore to help him...Dumbledore would have died anyway, his brain kept telling him. Some other means of death, perhaps even more painful, may have been required. Harry swallowed thickly as the memory of Dumbledore’s fragile, broken body, lying at the bottom of the tower entered his mind. He pushed it aside. Dumbledore was okay. He was at peace now. He had told Harry so, helped him.
Malfoy nodded, and shivered a little bit.
“Are you cold?” Harry asked, and felt a little ridiculous.
Malfoy shook his head. “Nothing I can’t handle,” he said arrogantly. “Anyway, you still haven’t answered my question, Potter, and I’ve answered two of yours. Not exactly a fair trade, would you agree?”
Harry scowled. “I’m not in the ‘spotlight,' as you so nicely put it, because I wanted some time alone. By myself,” he added, hoping Malfoy would get the hint. Apparently not, as Draco proceeded to nod and examine his fingernails in the dim light but made no move to actually leave Harry’s company. Harry sighed.
“So where to next for the great Harry Potter? Back to your relatives, I suppose.”
“Not exactly.” Harry told him, wondering for the first time if his relatives were safe, and what they would do now that the war was over. Maybe he would get in contact with them—with Dudley at least. It seemed a different lifetime, really, when Dudley had shocked them all. And when he thought about it, it almost was. The person he had been then was different to the one he was now. He had, Harry realised with a sort of shock that shouldn’t have been so pronounced, died since then. The Dursleys now seemed removed from that particular reality. And now Fred and Lupin and Tonks were dead and so many others...he couldn’t bear to think whose bodies were mingled amongst those of his close friends. It seemed near impossible that the rest of the D.A. had survived, with the death count so high. He looked up from his glass and glanced over at Malfoy. He had almost forgotten the other boy was there. He stood slightly hunched over, his eyes roaming over the vast shadows of the Forbidden Forest, where earlier Harry had been marching towards Voldemort, ready to die...
Malfoy glanced over at him, and blue-grey eyes met green. “I owe you two life debts now, you realise. It’s sickening. A Slytherin owing a Gryffindor.”
Harry almost laughed. He hadn’t even thought about house rivalries, in the battle. The Slytherins were led out amongst the Gryffindors. On the ground below him, Harry thought he could see a Gryffindor tie illuminated by the lights of the Great Hall streaming through big glass windows, several of which were broken entirely.
“At least we don’t have to worry about house rivalries anymore.” Harry responded.
“What happens when Hogwarts reopens?”
Harry blinked. He hadn’t even thought of that—he’d have to go back to school. He’d have classes, and assignments, and exams. The thought was strange, at the very least. To think that he would have to think of such trivial things again. It might be nice, he thought, to have a distraction. A distraction from the death.
“I hadn’t thought of that,” he told Malfoy, “I haven’t been thinking about school much at all, I suppose. What with the whole ‘trying to stay alive’ thing.”
Malfoy smirked. “Yes, I suppose it does mess around with one’s priorities, doesn’t it? I don’t know that school will be the same.”
“What, now that you don’t have you father’s power to lord over everyone?”
“That, and one of my best friends is dead.”
Harry suddenly felt awful. He didn’t know why he should; Crabbe had been on Voldemort’s side—he’d tried to kill them. But he’d still been a human, he’d still been someone’s friend, someone’s son, maybe even someone’s lover (though the thought wasn’t exactly appealing). Malfoy, for the first time that evening, truly looked like he’d been through a war. And maybe it was the first time Harry had really looked at him that evening. His bright hair fell in disarray over his pale face, bits of dirt and leaves caked into the ends. Big bags stood out under his eyes, making the skin that was pulled tight over his sharp cheekbones seem even paler. He looked dreadful. Harry probably looked awful too, he thought. He could see dirt and grease covering the lock of hair that fell over his eye, and his glasses were incredibly smudged. For the first time that evening he reached and felt his damp, knotted hair. Malfoy seemed to notice it, too; he reached over and pulled a twig from the top. Harry’s hand shot back up to feel the place it had been.
Malfoy cleared his throat. “I should go.”
Harry nodded. “You should.”
Their eyes met.
Harry, later, would not be able to recall exactly how or why it had happened. Who had made the first move was a mystery, because all of a sudden, Draco Malfoy’s mouth was pressed against his in an awkward, passionate kiss. Their teeth clacked together awkwardly, and Harry’s glasses stabbed him in the nose, but nothing was going to separate them. Malfoy was pressed against him; his sharp, angled body different to the soft push of a girl’s curves, but no less pleasant. One kiss melted into another and another and then Harry was pushing Malfoy against a wall, his lips never leaving the other’s as his fingers began fumbling with Malfoy’s buttons.
“Bloody hell, I swear those first years are tinier than the last batch.”
“You’re just bigger than they are, Ron; I’m sure we were that small once.” Hermione said in a whisper, smiling kindly at one of the many first years who were looking around the Great Hall in awe.
“We bloody well weren’t,” Ron said weakly. Hermione rolled her eyes but rested her head gently on Ron’s shoulder, and Ginny looked at Harry in exasperated fondness. Now that Ron and Hermione were a couple, they were a bizarre mix of their old sniping and a new-found sappiness that Harry and Ginny took great delight in poking fun of. She grinned as Harry, that brilliant grin that showed the gleam in her eye and her sparkling teeth. Harry’s throat constricted. He was saved having to respond by the entrance of Minerva McGonagall.
McGonagall had been an amazing force in the post-war rebuild. Not only had she been crucial in the Hogwarts reopening (far sooner than anyone had imagined), but she’d also been important in the rebuild of the Ministry. But the effort had taken its toll on her, Harry saw with a pang of sadness. Her long hair had gone completely grey, and her face had become haggard. Harry suddenly regretted the four lazy months he had spent while everyone else had cleaned up the mess he had left behind. He swallowed the lump that formed in his throat as he looked along the teacher’s table and saw all of the empty seats. Even as he looked along his own table, there were too many missing. Ginny seemed to sense his sudden tenseness, and grabbed his hand in a comforting, familiar gesture. He smiled at her, but he knew that his smile hadn’t reached his eyes.
“Welcome to another year at Hogwarts.” McGonagall began, commanding the attention of the entire student body. “This year will be an important one in the History of Hogwarts. The sorting will begin momentarily, but first, there is an important matter that must be addressed. The end of the war has brought a new dawn to the Wizarding World, and the Hogwarts board has decided that changes must be made to ensure that we do not live in the past. What is behind us will not be forgotten, but we will no longer live under the shadow of our past. Bearing that in mind, a number of changes have been made to Hogwarts life. From this year onward, our houses are no longer Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. Instead, three new houses will be formed; Merlin, Flamel and Morgan.” This statement was met with mixed reactions—some cried out, some whispered to the person next to them, and some yelled out swear words that caused McGonagall to glare at them (Hermione looked rather embarrassed to be sitting next to Ron at this point, as his was the loudest of all). McGonagall cleared her throat loudly and all eyes turned back to her.
“Those of you who are returning to Hogwarts will not be exempted from this, I hope you realise. Everyone is to be re-sorted tonight. In addition to this change, we will be making Muggle Studies one of the compulsory lessons for years one through four. Those of you in higher years are encouraged to enrol also, in the interest of preventing past events.”
The students looked at each other in shock. Ron leant over to Harry and whispered in his ear. “D’you reckon they’ve gone mad, mate?” He asked in disbelief.
“It can’t hurt,” he replied, shrugging. “If it prevents another war, who cares what our school house is called?” Hermione smiled at him in pride.
“I’m so glad you think so, Harry. Ron, it’s not a big deal. I’m looking forward to taking Muggle Studies again, actually. Harry, will you be joining me?”
Harry blinked. “I hadn’t thought. I guess I could.”
“And you, Ron?” Hermione asked sternly.
Ron gave her a forced smile. “Sure, Herm.”
Hermione looked pleased and turned back to watch McGonagall and Ron turned to give Harry a look of exasperated acceptance.
Hermione was the first of the four of them to be sorted. She was placed into Merlin, and joined Hannah Abbot, Justin Finch-Fletchley, some fifth years Harry didn’t know and a smattering of first, second and third years.
When it was Harry’s turn to be re-sorted, a collective hush fell over the great hall. Ron patted him comfortingly on the back as he stood, and he took his place on the sorting stool—it seemed so small now.
Ah, Mr. Potter. My, you have changed, the Sorting Hat’s voice told him. Maybe now you will let me put you where I want to. Gryffindor may have served you well, but there is no telling what you could have done in Slytherin. Alas, they have taken my beloved houses away from me. Harry noted the bitter tone to the hat’s voice with some amusement. He wondered if the hat had complained to all the students, or if he was a special case. You may have changed, Mr. Potter, the hat continued, </i>but not as much as you would like to think,</i> and suddenly the hat shouted “MORGAN!” and Harry was sorted.
The house of Morgan was the smallest of all three houses so far. The only other seventh years were Malfoy, another Slytherin Harry didn’t know and Neville. Harry moved to his new table and sat as close as he could to Neville. Malfoy and the other Slytherin were sitting at the opposite side of the table, and Harry was now directly opposite Malfoy, who gave him a sinister smile. Harry felt a lump go down his throat, but he turned to talk to Neville.
Ginny and Ron were sorted into Flamel. Predictable, he supposed, that they would be sorted into the same house—they might not be Gryffindors anymore, but Harry doubted that there was much in the world that could separate the Weasleys. Ginny and Ron looked forlornly at him over the tables, and he tried to smile encouragingly. His house remained the smallest of the four—the seventh years consisted of him, Neville, Malfoy, three other Slytherins (Harry recognised Blaise Zabini from the Slug Club but didn’t know the other two), Luna Lovegood, Romilda Vane and Zacharias Smith. Harry only vaguely recognised a few of the fifth and sixth years, but none from the years below them.
Malfoy smirked at him. “Trying to work out where you fit in with us, Potter?”
Harry glared at him. “I know exactly where I fit. Right here,” he said, gesturing to Neville on his left and Luna on his right.
“Of course—between a wimp and a lunatic. How silly of me not to realise,” Malfoy responded, still smirking.
It wasn’t Harry that spoke up, though. It was Neville. “Malfoy, don’t be stupid. Just shut up and we’ll all get along fine.”
Malfoy raised an eyebrow at Neville, but said nothing else to them, instead turning to speak to Blaise Zabini.
Harry was, thankfully, free of Malfoy in his dorm. He now roomed with Blaise Zabini and Neville. Malfoy was with the other two Slytherins and Zacharias. If he hadn’t been such a jerk, Harry might’ve felt sorry for him.
They were now situated in what Harry thought had once been empty classrooms, which had been transformed into a common room and a number of dorms. It was comfortable, but Harry found himself missing the warm and comforting yellows and reds of the Gryffindor common room. The house of Morgan was represented by a wand and the colours black and silver. It was all perfectly pleasant, but Harry felt out of place. This wasn’t the Hogwarts he remembered—not without Ron and Hermione by the fireplace, bickering over homework, not without Ginny, a warm and comforting weight against his shoulder. It was all wrong. Harry shook himself and laid down on his bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. He was asleep by the time his roommates dragged themselves to bed, and when he awoke he was still in his uniform.
Harry was finally able to talk to Ron and Hermione during their first class. Thankfully, due to the multitude of seventh years, classes contained students from all houses in a random assortment. All three of them gathered together as soon as they entered the classroom.
“What the bloody hell do they think they’re playing at?” Ron asked furiously.
“Ron, calm down.” Hermione said, though she herself looked quite miffed, to say the least.
“It’s ridiculous—splitting us up! I would never have come back to Hogwarts if I’d known about this—you’d think McGonagall’d have mentioned something, wouldn’t you?” Ron said in a furious whisper.
“Maybe she had more important things to do that inform a bunch of seventh years about school administration, Ron.” Harry pointed out. He still felt bad about how tired McGonagall had looked the night before.
Hermione nodded. “I’m glad that you’re thinking sensibly, Harry. It’s only a year, after all. We’ll be alright. At least we’ve all got someone,” she said, referring to Justin, with whom she’d formed what Ron liked to call a “nerd-bond”.
“Who’s Harry got, then?”
“Neville.” Harry said pointedly. Ron looked sheepish.
“Right, yeah, ‘course. Not the same, though, is it?”
“’Course it isn’t.” Harry said, trying to be nonchalant, but really wishing he could beg Ron and Hermione to magically fix it all, because he had no idea how.
“Maybe they’ll rethink it once they realise how unhappy we all are.” Ron suggested hopefully. Hermione looked doubtful.
“I think we just have to stick it out. How many classes do we have together?”
“Well, Ron and I have three together—which Muggle Studies lesson are you in?”
“The one that has a class at one o’clock today.”
Hermione’s face fell. “Oh. Ours is at three.”
Harry gave her what he hoped was a comforting smile. “It’s all right,
Hermione. We’ll be fine.”
He only wished he believed himself.
With Snape gone, the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher was a portly ex-Auror who had played a small part in the Battle of Hogwarts the year before. His lessons were informative, but lacked the elements that had made Lupin’s classes interesting. Still, he managed to complete all of the revision spells asked of them with ease and walked out of the classroom relatively unscathed. As long as the man didn’t perform the Cruciatus curse on him, try and wipe his memories, or have a Dark Lord sticking out the back of his head, Harry was happy.
His Muggle Studies class was primarily Morgan students, as it turned out. Because he hadn’t taken the class before, he was in a group with an assortment of students from all year levels, including, Harry noted irritably, Malfoy. They were, however, split into year levels in seating arrangements, and Harry ended up next to Malfoy.
“Potter, we meet again.”
“Don’t sound so thrilled, you might sprain something.”
“Bugger off, Malfoy.”
Malfoy’s lips formed what Harry was astounded to note was a pout and he whined, his voice low so only Harry could hear. “Don’t you like me anymore, Potter?”
Harry turned to him in shock but by the time he had, Malfoy’s face had returned to his usual sneer and he was looking at the Professor as if her introduction to Muggle Studies was the most fascinating thing he had ever heard.
Assessment Task (Major Assignment—20%)
In groups of two, research and select one Muggle song, and analyse its meaning and the differences in meaning and production methods when compared to a second song of Wizarding origin. Write a report of three pages of parchment on your chosen song.
Surprise of all surprises, Harry was partnered with Malfoy. The assignment was easy enough, he supposed, and they would be able to do it with little interaction.
But he’d much rather work with Ron or Hermione.
Malfoy approached him, business-like, as they left the class.
“Right, Potter. I want an O on this assignment, and you are not going to be the reason I don’t get one.”
Harry fumed. “I—” he began, but Malfoy cut him off.
“Don’t play daft, Potter. You and I both know that you’re good, but you’re lazy, and without Granger to push you along, you wouldn’t be passing.” Harry supposed he couldn’t really argue with that.
“So. I propose we meet twice a week. Once in the library, to do research, once in the classroom, to listen to the music she’s provided us with. I have already booked the classroom for Wednesdays, and I propose we use the library on Tuesdays. I will be sending away for more music immediately, so you don’t need to worry about that. In the meantime, begin your own research and create notes for us to put together on Tuesday.” Harry was astounded that Malfoy had managed this whole speech without taking a huge breath at the end.
“I—” Harry began again, but Malfoy interrupted him. Again.
“No arguments, Potter. See you Tuesday?” And without waiting for an answer, he continued. “Good. Goodbye, Potter.”
As Harry was left staring down the hallway at Malfoy’s retreating back, he wondered what had just occurred.
Luna Lovegood may have been slightly crazy, but Harry didn’t think he would have survived preparation for his and Malfoy’s meetings without her.
As it turned out, the Quibbler had done a number of articles about Muggle music, and so Luna knew a fair bit about bands and songs.
“Tell Malfoy to try reading ‘A History of Muggle Technology, Made Easy’, Harry. It’s extremely informative.” she was telling him, twirling one of the many ribbons in her hair around her wand.
“Right, okay.” Harry muttered, leaning over his piece of parchment to find a place to make a note among his other numerous nonsensical writings.
“And tell him that no matter what anyone says, the Spice Girls are not the way to go if you want a good mark.”
“Thanks, Luna. You’re a real help.”
“That’s quite alright, Harry.” she said dreamily. “I’m always happy to help with the course of true love.” Harry blinked at her, and thought it best not to comment.
“Right—well, I best be off. Don’t want Malfoy to throw a fit at me for being late.”
Malfoy, this is ridiculous.
But necessary, Potter.
It’s not necessary, Malfoy. We’re three meters away from each other.
It’s a library, Potter. You can’t talk in a library. Hence, the notes.
We could just do this somewhere else. Like, the common room.
No, we need neutral ground.
What’s not neutral about the common room??
Just shut up and read, Potter. We need to know everything we can about this damned music if I’m going to pass this class.
Can’t you just bribe the teacher?
Malfoy? Answer me!
You really are a moron, aren’t you, Potter?
What are you talking about?
Just read the bloody book.
one week later
“For Merlin’s sake Potter, can’t you even breathe like a normal person?” Malfoy asked exasperatedly.
Harry looked up. “What are you talking about Malfoy?”
“Your breathing. It’s incredibly irritating. Most people just breathe in and out, but no, that’s too ordinary for the great Harry Potter. He has to make a big deal out of everything.”
“Malfoy, what is wrong with you?”
“Your breathing, Potter. That’s what’s wrong with me. You don’t breathe, you
“I do not!”
“You absolutely do.”
“Shut up, Malfoy.”
one week after that
Harry thought that Malfoy’s part of the project was getting to the point where it would have to be toned down just to be considered “over-the-top”. When he walked into the Muggle Studies classroom, Malfoy was surrounded by a selection of Muggle tapes, one of which (Harry vaguely recognised it as something by Morrissey) was blaring out of a tape player while Malfoy took copious notes.
“Malfoy, what the hell are you doing? We only need one song.”
Malfoy looked up, as if noticing him for the first time. “I’m an ex Death Eater Potter, in a post Death Eater world. How do you think it’s going to look if I fail Muggle Studies? And in order to not fail Muggle Studies, I need to not fail this assignment.”
“Why did you even take it in the first place?”
“Appearances, Potter. They’re everything, aren’t they? I would have thought you and the Weaselette would know all about appearances.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You and Weasley—one of you is obviously unhappy, if the last day of the war is anything to go by. And it’s obviously been happening for a long time—”
Harry couldn’t formulate a response—his mouth had gone dry, and his palms were sweaty. Neither of them had ever outright mentioned that night before, it was an unspoken agreement. Why then, was Malfoy now bringing it up as if they spoke of it daily?
He was saved from responding as Malfoy continued with a flip of his hand and a casual tone, “—but anyway, I should’ve thought you’d be eager to do well, too. Wouldn’t want everyone thinking the Great Harry Potter wasn’t a ridiculous Muggle lover after all.”
yet another week later
Potter, what did you find about music production? I can only find obscure references to something called a recording studio and a place called Tinsel Town. Who would call a town ‘Tinsel Town’? That’s worse than Knockturn Alley.
It’s not the real name of the place, Malfoy. It’s another name for Los Angeles. And I haven’t found much, mostly just random pieces of information. What we really need is a Muggle book—wizards know close to nothing about Muggle technology.
And where do you suggest we find that?
Well, you’re not going to like it, but Hermione’s parents might be able to send us something.
You were right, I don’t like it.
Come on Malfoy—what choice do we have?
The choice to not ask Granger for help.
I see you’ve progressed from “Mudblood” to “Granger”.
You’re not exactly my target audience, Potter.
Malfoy, we need help.
I know we do. I actually think I might know someone better—someone who’s done this course before.
“I am not working with two Slytherins.”
“Come on Potter, you yourself said you needed help. Besides, Slytherin no longer exists.”
“I don’t think Snape could be considered anything but a Slytherin.”
“I am right here, Potter. And I did save your sorry arse.”
Malfoy smirked, and turned to Snape. “Are Headmasters allowed to say ‘arse’?” he asked curiously.
“What do I care? I’m a portrait, idiot boy.”
Malfoy looked down. “Right.”
“What does Snape know about Muggles, anyway?” Harry asked, irritated.
“Potter, again—I am right here, though I am in portrait form. Don’t talk about me as if I am not.”
“Right. Sorry, sir. What do you know about Muggles?”
“I took Muggle studies, Potter. I grew up in a Muggle house. I was the headmaster of this school, and as such had to approve all curriculums. If you have a problem with it, I am quite content to leave you to your own devices and watch as you fail miserably,” Snape said, and Harry had the feeling that Snape wasn’t exaggerating when he said “content,” if the look of concealed glee upon his face was anything to go by.
“Fine. We’ll do it your way.”
It was three weeks until Harry finally admitted to himself that this project was going to take a bit more effort than he originally thought. They had finally decided on a song—“The More You Ignore Me the Closer I Get”, by Morrissey. Malfoy had chosen it for its relative lyrical simplicity but good-to-analyse meaning. Harry had thought it sounded quite nice.
Harry was baffled. He was in Defence Against the Dark Arts, and for some very strange reason, Neville had paired up with Malfoy. Malfoy. And now Harry was left to defend himself against Luna’s attacks, which, instead of being stunning spells or similar, seemed to involve rose bushes shooting at him from every direction, and clouds forming above his head to rain on him.
It took several minutes for Harry to remember a spell that would dry his hair.
After class, Harry ran to catch up with Neville and ensured Malfoy wasn’t anywhere to be seen before muttering to him, “when did you and Malfoy get so buddy-buddy?”
Neville looked at him in shock. “Well, no time, really. But he was good in the end, so I thought I might try and be civil. He’s not that bad of a guy. But you’d know that, wouldn’t you, Harry?”
And suddenly Harry was even more baffled.
“You still don’t get it, do you, Potter?” They were walking down the main road of Hogsmeade, towards the Three Broomsticks to get some fresh air from the assignment and enjoy the nice day. Harry would be meeting Ginny for coffee later, and while the day had begun positively, Harry was starting to regret ever engaging Malfoy in this debate.
“No. The guy is obviously irritated. He’s talking about war, for god’s sake.”
“Could you be any more thick, Potter? He’s obviously in love with the person he’s singing to. He’s saying ‘let me in’. You don’t say ‘let me in’ to someone you want a war with.”
“Voldemort tried to get into my mind.”
“Don’t be deliberately obtuse.” Malfoy said irritably. He had stopped walking, and Harry came to a stop beside him. Malfoy turned to face him. A few of the students from lower years peered at them curiously, but didn't stop to watch them. “He obviously finds it difficult—he’s expressing his feelings using aggression, not through romantic gestures of love. He knows it's inevitable...that they’re meant to be together. He just can’t make himself known. Haven’t you ever felt that way, Potter?” Malfoy asked. At that moment, their eyes met, and Harry swallowed.
“Never mind. You and Weasley go around making lovey-dovey eyes at each other all the time—I should’ve known you wouldn’t ever have trouble expressing yourselves.” Malfoy shot a scornful look at Madam Puddifoot's at this point, which only served to confuse Harry even more.
He nodded blankly, his mind a mess of jumbled and stupid thoughts that made him uncomfortable and slightly irritated. He vaguely noticed Ron and Hermione in the window of Honeydukes, looking out at them curiously.
“I’ll tell you what, Potter. You finish the report on the production. I’ll finish the report on the meaning behind the song. You’ll get an O, I’ll get an O, and we’ll never have to do an assignment together again. Okay? I'm going back to Hogwarts.”
Harry nodded again. “Okay.”
Malfoy started off again, but turned around after a moment’s thought.
“Actually, Potter. I changed my mind. I don’t think that I went far enough. Let’s just not speak to each other. Ever.”
Harry was left staring at Malfoy’s retreating back as it walked further away from Hogsmeade, not knowing what had exactly happened.
He didn’t notice a red head turn and retreat after Malfoy.
“Hi, Harry.” a soft voice said beside him several days later. Harry felt warmth enter his chest when he looked up to see Ginny standing beside his bench. He grinned.
“Can I sit?” she asked.
“Of course. How are you?”
“I’m okay. There’s something I wanted to talk to you about, though.” she said, and the warmth in Harry’s chest was replaced by a lump in his throat when her tone turned cold.
“I waited for six months, Harry, for you to tell me.”
“Tell you what?” Harry asked.
“What, that he’s a complete jerk? Ginny, I thought you might be able to work that out for yourself.”
“Not that, Harry.” Ginny said, and Harry felt a bit of hope when she smiled.
“About the war—or, after it, I suppose.”
“I thought it would be okay—that you would tell me, and we would move on from it. I thought you would tell me it was the biggest mistake you’d ever made, that you would avoid him.”
“Ginny, I don’t know—”
“Harry, don’t pretend. I saw you. Don’t try and take it back now. It happened, and now we’ve done all we can, and it just won’t work.”
Ginny smiled a sad smile to herself, and looked down at her hands.
“I’ve seen the way you look at him, Harry. The way you work together. You fit. You fit like we never did.”
Harry didn’t know what to say. “But we don't—we argue, all the time, he’s irritating and snotty and he never thinks about the consequences—”
“But you love him.” Ginny finished. “My mum was so excited. She thought we would get married.”
“But Ginny, we still can, I’ll never see him once we leave—I promise.”
‘That’s the thing with you, Harry. I could stand here, and I could ask you to stay, and you would. You’d never see him again, if I asked you. You would be a devoted husband, maybe even a doting father someday. I would never have to ask anything more of you, because you would give me everything that you were capable of.
“And maybe, eventually, you’d forget about him. Maybe he would stop invading your mind at every moment, and maybe you’d fall out of love with him. And we might even be happy. And that is exactly why I can’t ask you to stay.”
At this, Harry looked up from where his eyes had previously fixated on the small scratches of the wooden table. He didn’t speak, but his face was all the indication she needed.
“The thing is, though, Harry...I can’t do that to you. And I can’t do that to me...maybe I’m being selfish, I don’t know. It’ll be hard for you, I know. How could it not be? But I don’t want us to be like that Harry. We deserve better, don’t you think?”
Harry nodded—he couldn’t say anything, it was too hard. Ginny was too honest for her own good, really. She seemed to take this as her cue to leave, and without another word, she patted his hand gently, placed a soft kiss on his cheek, and left.
Harry had never in his life felt this sense of mingled relief and dread.
For the first time in a long time, Harry thought. He thought about Malfoy. He thought about the knot in his stomach every time they parted. He thought about the freckles on Malfoy’s back, the way he moaned when his neck was kissed, but almost purred when his ear was nibbled. Harry thought about Malfoy’s infuriating smirk, his intelligence, and the way he bit his lip when he read text books, but not when he read fiction.
And then he wondered how he knew all of those things, and there was only one conclusion he could come to.
“Malfoy—can we talk?” Malfoy didn’t look up from his desk.
“I thought we agreed that we’d never talk again, Potter? I never thought we’d break the arrangement after less than a week.”
“I just. I thought you should know—Ginny and I broke up.”
“Fascinating. I’ll be sure to alert Witch Weekly. Was there anything else you wanted to tell me? We really shouldn’t be talking in the library.” Harry looked down at his shoes when he sensed the sarcasm in Malfoy’s tone.
“It was because she knew I had feelings for someone else.”
“Again, I’ll alert the media just as soon as our conversation is finished. Now if you don’t mind, I’m reading a rather fascinating book about fungi, and it really does require my full attention.” With that, Malfoy stood, slammed his book shut, and stalked out of the library with a stalk that Snape would’ve been proud of.
Luna would solve it all. Harry was sure.
“I don’t think there’s much you can do, Harry,” she told him sadly, picking at the petals of flower that looked like one of the weeds that Aunt Petunia had always sworn were the bane of her existence.
Well, so much for that.
“What do you mean, there’s not much I can do?”
“Well, you had your chance. Many chances, from what you’ve told me. Maybe you could try talking to him again, but there’s not much else you can do.”
“D’you think a grand romantic gesture would help?” Harry asked, kicking himself for it. Luna turned to him, her expression akin to horror.
“Of course not, Harry! This is Draco Malfoy we’re talking about. I doubt he’d do anything except kill you. He’s already proved to you that he’s a fan of the subtle romance. Unless you can think of something subtle.”
“I think I might actually know something I can do.”
He didn’t take long, as it turned out. By six o’clock that evening, Harry had proved to himself how much he could actually accomplish when he actually cared about something.
That evening, when Draco Malfoy returned to his dorm room to find a tape player and a cassette on his bed. The paper inside the cover read simply “Play me” in a messy scrawl that almost made Draco throw the tape, the player and the author of the note out his window. But curiosity won out, and Draco found himself listening to a tape of “the More You Ignore Me”. When he pulled out the cover, a piece of paper fell out.
Please, just listen to the whole thing. I think you can work out what it means. You’re not nothing. You’re...well, you know. I have a hard time too. But I know what I want. And I want you around...for a long time. I want you near me. All the time. We make sense.
Underneath, a list of tracks was written.
1. The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get—Morrissey
2. Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldnt’ve Fallen in Love With)—the Buzzcocks
3. You Have Killed Me—Morrissey
4. Something—the Beatles
5. I’ll Be—Edward McCain
6. Beauty Mark—Rufus Wainwright
When Harry returned to his dorm that evening, it was several moments before he worked out that something was different. On the bed that Neville had occupied for most of the term, there were new sheets, and new pillows. Neville’s poster of Oliver Wood and the rest of Puddlemere United was also missing, and in its place hung a poster of the Tornadoes, signed by what appeared to be every member of the team. The bedside table photo, too, was different. Instead of the picture of Neville and his grandmother at the Order of Merlin ceremony, there was a photo of Draco Malfoy, accompanied by Blaise Zabini and Goyle in Hogsmeade. This was no longer Neville’s bed—it was Malfoy’s.
The picture Malfoy winked at him, and Harry grinned.