After sending Draco off to talk to Snape, Harry took a short trip to his room to change his pants. That done, he returned to the dining hall, taking his seat next to Ron and Hermione. Immediately, he was assaulted with questions regarding his panicked flight from Charms. Unable to speak over his housemate's emphatic vocalizations, Harry decided to wait until the stream of urgent words trickled away before answering.
Eventually, the noise began to die down, and an almost eerie silence settled over the Gryffindor table. Harry glanced around nervously, then cleared his throat and began to speak. "I suppose you're all wondering why I ran out like that."
"I was feeling a bit nauseous. Must have been something I ate. I'm fine, now."
Neville frowned. "Are you sure?"
"Of course," Harry said, forcing his lips into a smile.
The excuse seemed to be acceptable enough. Everyone returned to their conversations except for his two best friends, who were still eyeing him with concern. Ron, of course, didn't believe the story for a second. He muttered quietly so that only Harry and Hermione would hear him - "You didn't look sick to me. You looked like you were in shock, or something."
Hermione, who had yet to speak, looked shrewdly at Harry for a few moments. Suddenly her eyes widened, then narrowed. "Harry, might this have something to do with Malfoy?"
Harry's gaze turned wary. "Why would you say that?"
"He and Professor Snape headed off together not fifteen minutes ago. He looked really pale, for some reason."
Harry sighed miserably. "I'll tell you what's going on. Just not now, all right? We'll meet in the library after school."
"But," Ron sputtered, "there's a Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff game after school."
"Good," Harry said. "Then we'll be the only ones there."
Draco didn't return to classes after lunch. The blonde was absent from both Transfigurations and Potions. Harry needed to contact him, but unfortunately, he wouldn't be able to send him a note - not without going down to the owlery and bothering Hedwig. After mulling over the problem for a bit, he realized that he'd just have to talk to Draco in person. The final bell rang, and Harry turned to Ron and Hermione, telling them to meet him in the library in a quarter of an hour. He then ran towards the Slytherin common room and muttered the password that he'd heard when following Draco the night before.
It didn't work. Harry scowled and said it again. And again. He heard light laughter behind him.
"Our prefect likes to change the passwords at random times. It's a bit paranoid if you ask me."
"What's the password?"
She smirked. "Honestly, Potter - what makes you think I'd tell you?"
"Damn it, I don't have time for this. Just tell me the bloody password!"
"Ask your lover."
Harry didn't know whether to yell or beg. He needed that password, and badly. Finally, it occurred to him that neither earnest pleading nor impulsive anger would get him anywhere. He'd never get any information out of Pansy the Gryffindor way. He'd have to barter, blackmail, deceive, or intimidate her into telling him.
*Well, I was nearly sorted into this house...*
Harry smiled suddenly, an almost relaxed expression covering his face. When he spoke, his voice was a silken drawl. "Tell me, Parkinson - what was it you had planned for Draco? Was he supposed to marry you after graduation? Were you going to live in his mansion? Order around his house elves? Breed pureblood children until you grew old and bored?"
Her smirk faded...
"But then I came along and ruined all that."
...then disappeared entirely.
"Was that why you did it? My goodness. All that spite in such a voluptuous little package."
Harry advanced on her and leaned in until his lips were mere millimeters from her ear. "Give me the password, or I'll see to it that you never get to breed your lovely pureblood children. Or any children, for that matter."
Her lips tightened just short of a grimace. "Threats, Potter? This isn't like you at all."
"It must be Draco's influence. Give me the fucking password, Parkinson."
"Well, if that's what it takes for you to be civil - it's 'veritas.'"
At that word, the wall opened, and Harry moved to brush past her and into the common room. She caught his arm, holding him back. "You hate me, don't you," she said.
"Stating the obvious now, are we?"
"You hate me because I tried to hurt him."
"Be glad that you failed." He yanked his arm from her, turning once more towards the Slytherin dormitory.
Pansy waited until he was nearly out of earshot calling after him once more. "Does he know that you love him, Potter?"
Harry snapped his head around to catch her in a hard stare. She pursed her lips into a slight smile, then pivoted on her heels with a flourish, pausing a moment to brush lint off her robes before disappearing in smooth strides down the hallway.
*A clever fellow like you should know not to start conversations he can't finish.*
Draco was sitting on his bed, book open in front of him, when Harry burst into his room. "How did you get in here?" He asked. "The password was changed. I had to yell at the wall to let me in because Greg forgot to tell me what it was this morning."
"I got it from Pansy."
Draco arched a brow at Harry, only now taking in the Gryffindor's flustered appearance. "Oh."
"So - did find out what's going on?"
"As a matter of fact, I did. Snape was quite helpful."
"Great. Meet me in the library in an hour."
"Why not now?"
"I need to talk to Ron and Hermione, first."
"I have to tell them, Draco."
"I have to."
"It's none of their business."
"They are my friends. Deal with it."
"They're going to castrate me when they find out how I've endangered you."
Harry snickered. "Don't worry. I won't let them."
Draco buried his face in his hands. "Then again," he muttered, "once you hear about the potion you're going to castrate me - long before they get the chance."
"Draco, you're not making sense."
Draco gazed mysteriously at Harry. Long seconds passed. Finally, he said softly, "I'll meet you in an hour, Harry."
Harry looked worriedly at Draco, but the blonde's attention was once again focused on the book in front of him. He shook his head, and with one last worried glance, walked out of the bedroom, letting the door swing shut behind him.
Harry headed straight for the library after he left Draco. He found Ron and Hermione sitting together around a table in the back of the room. They looked up as they heard him approach, keeping their eyes on him as he pulled out a chair and sat down. Harry opened his mouth. "Try not to interrupt, alright?" He then proceeded to tell them everything, from Pansy's discovery to the real reason he'd run out of Charms.
Of course, he made a concerted effort to keep descriptions of his various intimate encounters with Draco as vague and brief as possible. Unfortunately, certain details couldn't be avoided, and Harry was forced to explain exactly how Pansy had become aware of his involvement with Draco. There was little he could do to prevent the pinched, sickly expression from appearing on Ron's face. Hermione only shook her head slightly in disappointment and waited resignedly for Harry to continue his tale.
When he told them what Pansy had done with the information she'd discovered, both his friends went into a sort of shock. Almost immediately, that shock became intense worry. The expressions on their faces turned terribly grim. As Harry went on, the news only grew worse, and it came to the point that when he finished his story he was unable to look either friend in the eye and face the melancholy concern he knew he'd find there.
Harry finished speaking about twenty minutes sooner than he'd hoped. With nothing more to say, he simply sat with his comrades in silence, and waited.
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