All recognized characters belong to J.K. Rowling
Everything else is mine.
R – for violence, language and adult content
Contains male/male pairings- That's SLASH... you know, GAY
Harry Potter and the Parliament of Dreams
Chapter 4 – Riding the Express
Draco Malfoy stepped onto the platform and found that the Hogwarts Express wasn’t there yet. He looked around, but his cold stare wasn’t directed at any particular spot.
He was particularly glad to be away from the Manor and especially glad to be away from Lucius. The long hours he had spent alone over the summer finally allowed him to think objectively about the man that had sired him. No father would ever treat his only son the way Draco had been all his life. The reprieve from his father allowed him to do some serious reflecting on his past actions. He didn’t like what he saw. He sat down on a nearby bench and continued his internal contemplations, ignoring the other students that had arrived early as well.
Draco snapped out of his memories when the great red steam engine that was the Hogwarts Express blasted its steam whistle as it finished pulling into the station. He straightened his back, as the conductor stepped out of the forward carriage. The man looked around and shouted, “All aboard!”
Draco brought his stuff to the baggage car and then clambered aboard, taking a seat in the first car. He leaned up against the window and pretended to go to sleep, all the while keeping his attentions trained on what was going on around him.
Harry Potter and company arrived at the station at 10:50 A.M. in the stately Ministry limousines. They were only allowed to disembark from the cars after the Aurors had made certain that the area was clear. After they unloaded they all proceeded to Platform 9¾, as inconspicuously as possible. The train was already mostly boarded, and only a few parents were still milling around. Mrs. Weasley hugged every one of the kids in her charge before making sure they boarded the train.
Justin and Mickey headed to the third car where the Hufflepuff students had gathered. Harry, Hermione, Ginny, Ron and the Twins settled in the second car. They all stayed and chatted until the train was underway. Once it was, the twins and Ginny went to find their friends. As soon as the others left, Ron and Hermione started making eyes at one another. He groaned quietly to himself before hopping up.
“I’m going to go change. I’ll be right back,” Harry said as he rummaged through his bag to find his black school robe.
He went to the bathroom to change quickly and when he returned he found Ron and Hermione in a deep kiss. He blushed deeply, grabbed his wand and then headed to the last car in the train. He wasn’t feeling that social anyways.
Harry sat in the almost empty last car. The only other person in the car with him was a sleeping Moony… er… Professor Remus Lupin. It looked like Lupin was returning to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. He guessed that after last year’s debacle with the fake Moody, Dumbledore had decided to bring back the popular professor.
Harry surmised, correctly, that since Lucius Malfoy was off the board of Governors, and the times being as tough as they were, that there was no opposition to reinstating the Werewolf. Lupin, continuing the tradition from two years before, was sound asleep. Harry was happy, since Lupin was easily the best professor he had for Defense Against the Dark Arts in his four years at school. And Harry noted cynically to himself, the only one that hadn't tried to harm him.
Harry sat back and relaxed as he heard the whistle blow as they passed through a small wizard town. He spent the rest of his time watching the track behind them as the train sped him towards his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Fred Weasley had settled down in a cabin in the front of the second car with some of the other Gryffindor seventh year students, but George did not. He was on a mission to the first car of the train, where many of the Slytherins had gathered.
It was a known and accepted fact that Gryffindor students did not interact with Slytherin students outside of class other than to pull pranks on each other or to otherwise make each other miserable. It was a lesser-known fact that the Weasley twins were an exception to this rule. Fred and George Weasley had their hands into everything that was going on behind the scenes at Hogwarts. They had partnered themselves with an agent from each house in order to facilitate betting pools, contraband market (they specialized in all things specifically forbidden on Argus Filch’s banned item list), and their own joke products. They were also known to be able to procure fresh, cold butterbeer for various party functions going on at Hogwarts. They had quite a racket going two years previous when the Dementors were guarding the school grounds. No one else had been able to come up with the goods. This had the effect of putting Fred and George at the top of the procurement food chain at Hogwarts. They exploited it with an almost Slytherin zeal.
George was there specifically to meet with Stephen Wallace, the seventh year Slytherin Prefect. Stephen greeted George in the prearranged location with a tight smile. They passed each other and made an exchange of envelopes without anyone being the wiser. George went to the bathroom to go over the letters he received. The one from the Headmaster was the most interesting.
Justin went straight for the third car towing his brother along because he wanted to find his friends. Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones were already in a cabin along with Susan’s younger brother Billy. He was a good kid, one year behind them and also in Hufflepuff. His parents though had a terrible sense of humor in naming him after one of the pirates in Treasure Island.
Ernie Macmillan arrived just behind Justin and he too was starting his fifth year. Justin was glad to have him as a friend and they were as close as Ron and Harry. Justin hadn't heard from Ernie all summer, since he didn’t have his own owl and he didn’t want to borrow one to send things to Ernie.
“Justin, what’s wrong? You look like death warmed over,” Ernie asked as soon as he sat down.
“Some very terrible things happened over the summer,” Justin said, as his brother gripped him tight.
“I heard about an attack in Diagon Alley, but my parents wouldn't talk about anything or allow me to read the paper,” Susan spoke up.
“Yeah, Death Eaters attacked. They were targeting muggle parents and muggle-born wizards.”
Ernie went as white as Justin, “They didn’t get your parents, did they?”
Justin could only manage a small nod. Hannah and Susan squealed and grabbed each other as tears began to stream down their faces.
“I’m so sorry,” Ernie said as both girls nodded in agreement.
“There’s more. Our parents were killed in Flourish and Blotts while we were on our way to Quality Quidditch Supplies so I could show Mickey the wizard sports stuff. There was an explosion about the time we were most of the way there. I was knocked a ways back and two others were blown into us. It was Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. They protected us, Ernie. Harry especially. They even ended up killing one of the two that attacked us.”
“Potter did that?” asked Ernie, with his eyebrows raised.
“Yes. He would not let anybody come near us. He didn't need to do it either. He wasn’t in danger of getting killed. The first Death Eater told him to get out of the way.”
“But, I mean, the way we treated him. I…” Ernie stumbled out.
“Now you understand what I have felt the last four weeks. He has been unwavering in his support of us. The Weasleys took both Mickey and I in. They already had Harry. Harry told me privately why he was there and I’ve never felt guiltier in my life for the way I’ve treated him. He is so selfless,” Justin said with tears filling his soft brown eyes.
“Are you okay?” Hannah was finally able to ask.
“I think so. Ron and Harry have been very supportive for us. In fact, all of the Weasleys have been wonderful to us. The Ministry of Magic even awarded both of them the Order of Merlin Third Class.”
“Really?” Hannah asked in surprise.
“Is this the same Harry we blamed for Cedric’s death?” Susan asked.
“That is what makes me feel even worse. Harry has nearly endless nightmares about Cedric’s death. He explained what happened last year,” Justin said with a distinct shiver.
“Ron and Hermione both said the same things in private. I can’t believe what a total git I was to him.”
“You said you were living with the Weasleys now?”
“Yes. I’m not sure, but I think it is going to be permanent. I don’t mind a bit. Mrs. Weasley is one of the dearest women you could ever meet. And the twins have a very serious side that comes out when it needs to. I’m very glad that they were there for us.”
Draco Malfoy did not stay in the first car for all that long. Crabbe and Goyle were both annoying him since they arrived at the train and he needed to get away from them. Since they had donned their robes, they had been poking, prodding and pushing each other around in the cabin. Unlike years past, they were giving Draco the cold shoulder and totally ignoring his existence.
He felt even more alone around them than he did when he was alone. Being alone in Slytherin was something he was still dreadfully afraid of since he hadn’t gotten his growth spurt yet. He was rather small for his age, not unlike Potter.
Draco got up to get way from everyone and headed to the rear of the train, in the vain hope of avoiding everyone. Draco almost rolled his eyes when he saw Potter sitting in the last car. He didn’t though. He wanted this year to be better. Without his goons, he really did not want to make any more enemies. Potter, though, didn’t even look up when he entered.
Draco noticed Professor Lupin in the corner, but passed it off. He glided catlike across the car and sat quietly in the seat opposite Harry, but fairly near Lupin. He bobbed his head down and settled in.
“I think we should apologize to Harry,” Susan said after a few minutes of silence.
Justin looked up at the sudden break of silence.
“I already have, a few times. We talked late into the night more than once. He lost his parents to Voldemort and his goons too, remember,” Justin said quietly.
The others nodded quietly.
The conversation ground to a halt at that point. They shifted around in the compartment so that Justin could lean against Ernie while Mickey rested in his lap. The girls sat in the seats across from them, silently sobbing in sympathy every so often.
The next several hours of the trip passed in near silence.
Harry had noticed Malfoy immediately and more importantly his lack of goons. He was especially shocked when Malfoy dropped into the seat across from him without saying anything at all. Normally, the foul little brat never passed up an opportunity to badmouth him.
‘What stopped him this time?’ Harry wondered to himself.
Malfoy was getting in the habit of surprising him, which Harry didn’t like all that much. When Harry noticed that Malfoy had dropped off to sleep, he lowered his guard and did the same.
Harry woke to quiet sobbing about two hours later. Harry’s eyes widened to the size of small saucers when he saw Malfoy’s shoulders shaking with his head bowed down. Harry violently suppressed his natural instinct to go and ask what was wrong. ‘This was the boy that tortured his existence at school for the last 4 years wasn’t it?’ ‘I mean, he has never been civil to me since the first time we met.’
Harry’s thoughts were interrupted when Ron appeared at the door. Harry quickly got up and blocked Ron’s view of Malfoy, grabbed him, and walked back to their car. Ron, who was intent on finding Harry, never even knew Malfoy was in the last car.
When the train did pull into the station, Justin got to his feet, righting his brother in the process.
“I have to get Mickey over to Hagrid. I’ll meet you in the Great Hall.”
With that said, he gave a tug on Mickey’s arm and they went out of the train. Hagrid was calling for first years as usual and Justin got Mickey there without much trouble. He bumped into Ginny when he turned around.
“Hey, I was looking for you. Care to ride to the castle with me?” she asked him.
They walked to the loading area and waited for an available carriage.
Lupin opened his eyes and looked at the silently sobbing Malfoy, “Draco.”
Draco jumped in surprise, “Hmm?”
“Do you realize what Harry just did for you?”
“I think so, sir,” he drawled quietly.
“The only reason he didn’t ask you what was wrong is the way you have treated him the last four years. Even then he was on the verge of asking you anyway.”
“It’s okay Draco. Clean up a bit, we are just about there,” Lupin said after quickly consulting his watch.
Ron had just wanted to make sure that Harry had the important carry off items, like his wand. They talked briefly, but the train was just about to arrive. Since they were in the second car, they were able to get out of the train and near the front of the line pretty easily. Ron, Hermione, Fred and George loaded in one carriage. Harry stayed behind for the next one when he noticed Justin and Ginny approaching. He went over and joined them.
Draco quickly straightened up his robes and cleaned his face up with an Ever-Cleaning cloth. A few moments later he strolled out of the last cabin looking almost normal. He looked like the Draco Malfoy of old, with the small exception of his eyes. They had changed from the cold steel gray to a lighter misty gray. Professor Lupin noticed the change with a small, concealed grin.
Draco stepped off the train and went towards the horseless carriages. He saw Hagrid bellowing for the first years to approach the boats. This year was thankfully dry. The first years shouldn’t come in looking like little drowned rats like they had the year before. He realized to his chagrin that the horseless carriages were pretty much full. He went to the only one that was left with three people waiting instead of four. To his surprise it was Harry Potter, Justin Finch-Fletchley and Ginny Weasley. Draco queued himself behind Potter without saying a word.
Harry felt a presence behind him and turned to face the newcomer and was surprised to see that it was Malfoy. Harry’s bright green eyes locked with Malfoy’s cloudy gray ones. Harry stared at him for a few moments before breaking eye contact. Malfoy stood quietly while Harry turned back around and boarded the carriage behind Ginny. Harry dropped into the seat across from Justin as Malfoy scrambled aboard and then dropped lightly into the seat next to Harry. Justin stared for a moment.
“And to what do we owe the displeasure?” Justin snapped at Malfoy.
Malfoy looked shaken more then anything before he replied, “The other carriages are full.”
“You should have walked,” Justin said in a deadly quiet voice.
Harry felt the temperature in carriage drop with the coldness in Justin’s words. Harry unconsciously gripped his wand under his robe. This wasn’t looking good.
“What? No comeback Malfoy?” Justin sneered at Malfoy.
Harry’s eyes opened wider as Malfoy seem to sink much further into his seat without replying.
“Harry, his father is a Death Eater, isn’t he?” Justin directed his glare at Harry.
Harry squirmed uncomfortably as he felt Malfoy’s gaze fall on him.
“He is, isn’t he?” snapped Justin with a not quite sane look in his eyes.
Harry’s eyes flicked to the wand that had appeared in Justin’s hand, as the boy got more and more agitated. Harry felt Malfoy squirm more towards him as Justin looked more and more over the edge. Ginny looked stunned and had shrunk as far back away from Justin as she could. Harry noticed that she had readied her wand as well.
“Answer me damn it!” Justin swore at Harry.
“Justin, calm down. Malfoy had nothing to do with the actual attack,” Harry finally replied.
“Which one Harry? The one in front of me or his father?”
“Neither one,” Harry replied calmly as Draco stared at him in shock.
“How the hell do you know that?” Justin snapped out, turning a rather bright red.
“Not too difficult. Lucius Malfoy is in Voldemort’s inner circle. He wouldn’t have anything to do with a petty attack,” Harry said as he realized with some certainty that he was right.
“They killed my parents! How can you call that petty?!” Justin demanded angrily.
Harry had expected this kind of breakdown from Justin as some point. He had spent most of the summer bottling in his anger after all. He had cried out some pain, but he was pissed at anything and everything Death Eater. Malfoy happen to be a highly visible target that was acknowledged tacitly as having something to do with the Death Eaters.
“Justin, calm down!” Harry growled loudly.
Justin recoiled like he had been hit hard across the face. Malfoy and Ginny both did the same. It was the very first time that any of them had seen the Boy Who Lived really lose his temper.
Harry and Justin stared at each other for a few moments. Justin took a few really deep breaths as he calmed himself down. Harry had a cold, detached look on his own face. Justin finally relaxed except for the scowl that appeared on his face every time he glanced Malfoy’s way. Harry remained rather cold and aloof for the rest of the trip. Ginny, sitting in the corner, watched the whole thing with morbid curiosity.
They finally arrived at the front steps to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Malfoy practically apparated out of the carriage he left so fast. Justin was a bit slower to leave it and Ginny went right behind him, trying to get him to talk to her. Harry was the last one out of the carriage. He stood quietly at the bottom of the stairs to the castle. Harry was finally at the one place he felt at home. He felt no small amount of dread about the coming year. He locked down his expression and headed up the stairs to start the new school year.
Ginny looked back from the top of the stairs to see if Harry was following. She saw him look up and past her. She kind of tilted her head to the side as she noticed Harry’s normal smile be replaced with an almost cold, calculating look. She knew about Harry’s preferences now. They had talked about it one night just before leaving for Diagon Alley. She said that she would always love him like another brother. He had smiled at that, and told her that he would be honored to have her for a little sister.
Ginny turned and followed Justin into the castle, hoping against all hope that this year would turn out better than last.
End of Chapter 4
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