Coveting Thy Enemy
Chapter Two: Secrets
Harry was thankful when the welcoming feast in the Great Hall ended. He shadowed Ron and Hermione to the Gryffindor tower. There as usual was the portrait hole. "Hello, Gryffindors!" the fat lady said, "Welcome back! Password please."
"Through the Looking Glass," said Hermione, and then she glanced sheepishly at Ron and Harry. "Who would have know Professor McGonnaggall was a Lewis Carroll fan?"
The portrait swung out freely and the trio, followed by the rest of the Gryffindors, entered the common room. Hermione and Dean Thomas went about giving the first years a tour of their rooms while Ron and Harry entered the seventh year dorm.
"Ah, home at last," said Harry.
"Blimey, Harry. I don't think I've ever seen you so happy," said Ron, gazing at his best friend.
"Why shouldn't I be happy? I just spent the last summer at the Dursley's, and I'm back with my best friends."
"Well, then," said Ron, pleased at the last part of Harry's brief speech. "I was thinking about this year's Quidditch and . . ." but a scratch at the window interrupted him. Looking up, Harry saw Cho's owl, Curmudgeon. He let the owl in and untied the letter from his leg.
"Ah, a letter from Cho, right then," said Ron with a knowing look. He then turned and walked out to give Harry some privacy with his "love letter".
Harry smiled as he broke the seal of Cho's letter. He was happy to receive a letter so early from Cho. She had really proved to be a loyal friend over the past year. Not only that, her letters were always sure to uplift the darkest of moods. She was somewhat creative with the written word, and she had even admitted to him once that she wouldn't mind becoming a fiction novelist if the Quidditch thing fell through. He perused Cho's letter with quite a bit of surprise. Cho always managed to tactfully get to the heart of the matter. She also always seemed to be able to predict what was on Harry's mind.
Yes, Cho always seemed to be able to read his mind, even from hundreds of miles away. He had to admit to himself that Cho was right about quite a few things, though. The only problem was, he wasn't sure if he wanted to deal with any of the things Cho had mentioned. Some things were too painful to think about at the moment, and he admitted to himself, too scary.
Harry placed Cho's letter in his trunk and lay upon his back on his bed. He could still remember the conversation he had had with Cho after the Gryffindor Slytherin match last year. It was the first and last time he had ever mentioned his secret to anyone.
Cho had met him outside the Gryffindor tower that evening. Harry was still buzzing from his win. It had been a very gratifying win since the match had lasted over three hours. Harry had managed to capture the snitch only by pulling the Wronski feat on Malfoy, breaking the House tie. Although he was quite exhausted, he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep through his mind's replay after replay of the match, so when Cho asked him to go for a walk out in the garden, he had agreed.
They were holding hands, seated side by side on one of the benches. Cho, as always, took the initiative by running her hand from Harry's forehead, through his hair, to the back of his neck. She pulled his lips down to hers for several seconds. She was the first to pull away.
She looked at him, appraising him rather thoughtfully. "Harry, if you don't like kissing me, you could tell me, you know."
"Wha-What?" asked Harry.
"I'm not stupid you know. I know when someone is just going through the motions. You kiss me as if it were a chore, a duty or something."
"Cho, I . . . well, I don't know what you want me to say," Harry said, surprised that she had broached the subject at all. He had tried his best to kiss her with the skill of a boyfriend that had been dating her for three months. Until now, he had though he had succeeded.
"Harry, I want you to answer a question for me, and I want you to answer it honestly. No matter what you say, I will not think any different of you, and I will not tell anyone."
Harry sighed, he had a feeling he knew what was coming, but he nodded to Cho to go ahead and ask.
"Harry, are you g-homosexual?" asked Cho, seemingly tongue-tied with her own question.
He looked at her then, scanning her eyes for any hidden prejudices. Content with what he found there, he answered truthfully, "I think so."
Cho did not cry. She didn't even register shock. "I thought that might be it. I mean, it really explains why kissing you feels all wrong."
"You felt it, too?"
"Yes. I don't know why I let our relationship to continue all this time. First, I guess I saw you as kind of a prize to be won, then as a challenge. I wanted to conquer you, make you feel things for me. But, after a while, after we became friends, I guess I realized that that was all it would ever be," she said.
"Cho, I'm sorry. Honestly, when we first started dating, I wasn't sure about my preferences. I mean, I had kind of a crush on you in fourth year and all. I even asked you to the Yule Ball. Somewhere along the line, I realized though that what I felt for you was respect and admiration. I'm truly sorry for leading you on and all," Harry said. He really was sorry. He had been secretly sorry for quite some time.
"Well then, that's that," said Cho. She got up and brushed her lips against his cheek. "So, meet me outside your common room the same time tomorrow?" she surprisingly asked him.
The next day Cho met Harry in the Great Hall for breakfast. She slid her hand into his and gave him a big kiss in front of everyone there. She seemed to know that he needed this. That was when their façade began. There were really no rules. They never really talked about it after that. In fact, the first time there was any mention of their play-acting was when Cho mentioned it in the letter he had just received. She had been a good friend to him over the past year. A great friend, actually. But, now it would seem she was ready to finish their game and get on with her life. Harry knew he couldn't blame her. She had afforded him quite a bit of time to sort out his feeling and to put things into perspective. He still wasn't ready to tell anyone of his preferences, but at least he knew for sure what his preferences were.
Draco Malfoy rolled over yet again in exhaustion. The sheets were twined around his waist and legs like a snake from the constant tossing and turning he had been doing for the past three hours. He knew it would be difficult in the Slytherin house, but he didn't realize it would be this bad. It would seem that the children of Death Eaters had heard of his refusal of the Dark Mark. That didn't surprise him. He knew he would have to deal with them.
He didn't realize though that all of the Slytherin house would treat him like a pariah. Obviously, there had been some threats made to anyone who would be likely to fraternize with him. Now he was alone. His once princely status as head of the Slytherin house was a mere memory. He rolled yet again, kicking off the sheets. It wasn't like he ever had real friends, but he did have respect. During the past six years, the other Slytherins had made him their ruler, and although he knew that none of them really liked him, at least he knew he belonged.
Now, it would seem that the only one who wanted anything to do with him was Pansy Parkinson, and he simply could not stand her. Pansy had made it quite clear during third year when her teenage hormones kicked in that she was going to someday become Mrs. Draco Malfoy. She didn't seem to care that Draco found her presence absolutely intolerable. However, even she had seemed a little bit cowed at the welcoming feast in the Great Hall. Unfortunately, that was probably the only time Draco would have actually welcomed her presence.
Draco sighed heavily. He was actually even missing Crabbe and Goyle's company. They had been his brute force for the past six years. He had always known that they were assigned to protect him by their parent, his father's lackeys. Sure, they were stupid and slovenly, but they had always been there for him. Not any longer
He almost wished he had made a different decision on his first day at Hogwart's. He could remember stepping up to the stool to wear the sorting hat. He felt very confident when the hat was placed on his head. After all, every Malfoy in the long lineage of Malfoys had been a Slytherin. His confidence was soon shaken however when the hat starting musing in his head. "Hmmm… definitely a Malfoy. I see cunning and great intelligence, and I see great ambition. Very Slytherin-like qualities. However, I see a paradox. There is also courage here and a great need to prove yourself."
Oh please, thought Draco, don't pick Gryffindor; my father would be so disappointed.
"All right then, you seem to know what's best. Slytherin!"
He had never told anyone.
Draco remembered the relief he felt when the hat cried that name. He recalled how much he admired his father then, had admired him for sixteen years of his life. No matter how badly his father had treated him, his respect had always remained. There were a lot of secrets Draco had kept through the years, a lot of things he had witnessed his father do. He had never questioned them, always believing his father was doing the right thing, the admiral thing. That was until the Death Eater training had begun in June. He had seen too much, felt too much. Still though, he would keep his father's secrets, because he was used to keeping them. He would also keep them because he didn't want to relive anything he had witnessed, even in a simple retelling of the story.
Some time during the night, before sleep finally took him, Draco made a resolution. No matter how miserable his life was that year, he would not acquiesce to his father's wishes. He would not become a servant of Voldemort, even if it killed him. The resolution now formed in his mind, Draco finally drifted off into the much-needed oblivion of sleep.
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