Warning! This story does contain slash. If you are unaware of what slash is or if it's just not something you have a care for, you probably clicked on the wrong link. Sorry. Life sucks, get a helmet. Anyway! Feedback and reviews are always appreciated and flames are mocked and the source of my endless amusement. All standard disclaimers apply. (What's mine is mine and what isn't, well, isn't.) This story contains spoilers for all four books. You have been warned.
The Losing Side
A Harry Potter Fan Fiction
Chapter Three - One Way Trip
"You've picked the losing side, Potter! I warned you! I told you you ought to choose your company more carefully, remember? When we met on the train, first day of Hogwarts? I told you not to hang around with riffraff like this." He jerked his head at Ron and Hermione. "Too late now, Potter! They'll be the first to go, now the Dark Lord's back! Mudbloods and Muggle-lovers first! Well- second- Diggory was the f--" Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
"We made it!" Ron gasped, shoving his trunk into the corner of the carriage.
Harry nodded, unable to speak as he attempted to catch his breath after their mad dash through the train station. They'd almost missed the train again. All on account of Pig, Ron's hyperactive owl. He and Ron had spent the last hour trying to catch the obnoxious little owl as it fluttered and hooted about the kitchen. It would have been an easy task if they'd been able to use magic or if the rest of Ron's family hadn't been so busy getting their own things together but, unfortunately, that was the way things always seemed to happen for them. Harry hefted his trunk into a free space and collapsed beside it, shooting Ron a tired smile.
"I know, I know. I'm sorry about Pig." As if recognizing it's name, the owl in question began hooting and flapping about madly in its cage. Ron rolled his eyes, setting the cage on top of his truck with a sigh. "I hate him." Ron murmured, shaking his head irritably. "Silly bastard."
"You don't hate him nearly as much as I do." Harry commented, settling Hedwig's cage down next to Pig's and smiling in satisfaction as Hedwig hissed irritably at the noisy bird beside her.
"Probably not. I'm really sorry about your glasses, Harry." Ron replied, grimacing slightly.
Harry shrugged, "They were already broken. I have to replace the tape is all. Too bad your Dad didn't have any." He touched his glasses gently, still half-certain they were about to split apart at any moment.
"There you two are! I was certain you were going to miss the train again!"
Hermione Granger had grown taller over the summer and her hair seemed a bit less frizzy and, of course, she'd grown in other ways as well. Until now, she had always been rather lacking in the chest department, but apparently hormones had seen fit to correct that little oversight in a big way over summer break. Ron was the first to notice this improvement and starred, unabashedly, at her chest for a long moment, his mouth gapping open. "Hermoine... um... hi."
"Eyes up, Ron Weasley." Hermione commented, shaking her head in tired amusement. "You can sneak peeks at them all year long if you must. I doubt they'll be going anywhere." Ron flushed, turning nearly as red as his hair and Hermione turned her gaze on Harry. "Hallo Harry. How was your summer?"
Harry gave Hermione a weary smile, "Long, but Dudley was away at camp most of the time so it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. I'm glad to be with you two again."
"I missed you, too." Hermione smiled, leading the way onto the train. They found a fairly empty compartment with little difficulty and had just taken their seats as the whistle blew, signaling their impending departure for Hogwarts.
The train jerked into motion as Harry gazed around at the others in the compartment, which consisted of a few first and second years who sat near the front of the car and kept pretty much to themselves. So it was in relative privacy that Hermione turned to Harry and spoke in a quiet, concerned sort of voice. "So, there were no signs of... you know who over the summer?"
Harry shook his head quickly, "No, no sign of Voldemort or any of his cronies. I'm beginning to think there's a reason Dumbledore and Sirius make me stay with the Dursleys each summer. I never have any trouble, except of the usual sort, while I'm at their house."
"Good." Hermione breathed a soft sigh of relief. It had now been a full year since they had last heard a true peep out of the dark lord and she was glad. Yet, it was still rather strange that HE hadn't made a move against Harry since that dreadful incident at the end of fourth year. The situation reminded her of a particularly sunny day during a rainy season. Nice, but unusual. So unusual that you could never fully enjoy it because you always knew that the rain was never far off.
"Maybe he just decided to retire his wand and move to warmer climates?" Ron put it, his words echoing Hermione's thoughts.
"Maybe." Harry responded with a weak smile. "But I kind of doubt it. It'd be a nice though."
Before either Ron or Hermione had a chance to respond, the door to their car slid open and Seamus, Dean and a few other boys slid in. "Oy! Harry!" Seamus called, his Irish lilt giving a curiously lyrical sound to his words.
Harry smiled and waved, "Hallo Seamus."
Dean grinned widely, cuffing Harry on the shoulder as the small group reached him. "Ready for another year of beating the snot out of Slytherin?"
"You bet." Harry replied, honestly grinning in return. Nothing cheered him like thoughts of Quidditch.
"We're counting on you. I heard Malfoy isn't playing this year on account of his father." Seamus put in, slumping into a seat beside Ron and smiling at the redhead. "Still planning on playing this year, Weasley?"
"Of course!" Ron exclaimed excitedly, an evil glint in his eyes. "Is Malfoy really not playing this year?"
"That's what I heard from my girl." Dean grinned, "She's best friends with Pansy, Draco's girl, and I heard that Malfoy's pop was so angry over what happened last year that he forbid his son to play. Something about being afraid his son would bring shame to the family name or some other such nonsense. Kind of dumb if you ask me. It's not like he's the first person to fall off his broom during play."
They all knew of the incident that would have caused such a reaction from Lucius Malfoy. It had happened near the beginning of fifth year during the first game of the year, which had been between Hufflepuff and Slytherin. Barely three minutes into the match Draco had turned white as a sheet and taken a nose-dive off his broom. Only the quick thinking of a Hufflepuff beater had saved the silver-haired seeker from a nasty crack on the head. As it was, he'd still fallen a goodly distance and broken his arm. For whatever reason, Dumbledore had forbidden the boy from so much as looking at a broom for the rest of the year, promising he could play Quidditch again sixth year. So instead of playing fifth year, Malfoy had become the team's strategist and Slytherin had actually done surprisingly well under his guidance, coming in an unbearably close second to Gryffindor. Still, despite that, that little nose-dive had made him the butt of more than a few whispered jokes throughout the year. Harry had actually almost forgotten about that little incident, but then he hadn't been thinking too clearly at the beginning of the year.
"'Course, I heard this right after Draco and Pansy broke up at the beginning of summer, so it could just be her being bitter and spreading rumors." Dean shrugged his shoulders noncommittally. "Malfoy's pop really is some kind of wanker though, so it doesn't sound all that farfetched."
"Sounds like something that nasty sod would say. Forbidding his son from playing Quidditch because of a simple mistake." Hermione grumbled, still rather bitter over Lucius' treatment of his house elves. She didn't like Draco Malfoy one bit, but her dislike for him couldn't begin to compare with her dislike for his father.
"Would be nice though wouldn't it? No ferret boy to muck up Quidditch games." Ron sighed, a dreamy sort of expression settling over his expressions. Ferret boy had become Ron's favorite nickname for Malfoy following the incident fourth year when Crouch had changed the boy into a ferret and bounced him about like a rubber ball. Memories of that incident made Harry feel a bit sick, but they amused Ron to no end. "Maybe he'll get really depressed and lock himself in his dorm for the entire year. Then we won't have to deal with him at all. That would be really nice."
"I don't know what you're complaining about, Ron." Hermione said, frowning. "He was actually fairly restrained last year, comparatively speaking. Of course, there were those nasty rumors..." She cast a hesitant look at Harry who gave her a small smile. "But, all in all, he was fairly low key last year."
"Hardly the point. He's still an insufferable git. I wish his father had made him transfer to Durmstrang or something."
"Couldn't your mother afford to buy you any manners, Weasel? It's not nice to talk about someone behind their back." Draco's cold, sneering drawl cut through the conversation, halting it with all the efficiency a traffic accident had on halting two cars. None of them had heard or seen Malfoy enter the car, but he stood over them all as if he and his flunkies had been there the entire time. Goyle and Crabbe both stood a bit behind their appointed leader, obviously concentrating on looking more menacing then usual. Harry glanced up from the quiet conversation about tactics he'd been having with Seamus and started in surprise.
No amount of thought and planning had begun to prepare him for actually seeing Malfoy again. Yet, ready or not, there he stood in all his pale, goon-touting glory near the back door of their compartment. He seemed a bit taller than he'd been the year before, but nothing truly dramatic seemed to have changed about him except, perhaps, his eyes. When Harry glanced up, his gaze immediately met Malfoy's and held for a long moment as they studied each other. Draco's gaze narrowed with some dark emotion, which could only be hatred, as he starred at Harry, a sneer painted across his lips like a mask.
Ron was the first one to speak, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "Oh, perfect. No year is complete until you come pouncing about with the brute squad on your heels."
"What are you doing here, Malfoy? Can't you go somewhere where you're wanted?" Dean grumbled, his cheeks darkened with embarrassment over having been caught in the act of gossiping about the Slytherin.
"I can go anywhere I please. Who are you to say where..."
"Quit it, Malfoy." Harry cut in quickly, standing and facing the silver-haired Slytherin. He hadn't been able to see it before, but now Harry noticed that a long, thin scar marred the smooth surface of Malfoy's left cheek. It made him appear tougher somehow.
Draco's expression darkened as he faced Harry, noticing and dismissing Harry's gaze in the space of a moment. "They started it." He hissed and Harry had to admit inwardly that that was true. Not that Draco didn't deserve every bit of the insults hurled in his direction, because he did, but Ron and Dean had started it. Plus, he somehow doubted Malfoy appreciated being reminded of that unfortunate ferret incident. Hell, Harry didn't even like being reminded of it.
Finally, Harry sighed and folded his arms across his chest. Be nice, he reminded himself silently. "Is it true, Malfoy? Are you not going to be playing Quidditch this year?"
If looks could kill, Harry would have fallen stone dead at that very moment. "That is really none of your business." Draco began coldly, "However, if you must know, I have every intention of playing this year... and winning." He shot a deadly look towards Dean and Ron.
Harry nodded, the word nice already becoming a chant in his mind. "I'm looking forward to playing against you then."
Draco blinked, obviously caught off guard. "What?"
"I said, that I'm looking forward to it. Playing against you. It's been a long time."
"Is that some kind of joke?" Draco hissed, his eyes narrowing dramatically. "If it is..."
Harry sighed dramatically, this was going to be harder then he thought. Be nice, nice, nice.... "Look, I'm not joking. You're good and..."
"Sod off, Potter." Draco growled, looking mad enough to kill. Obviously, Draco didn't appreciate having his trouble-making plots foiled. "As if you could ever be better then I am..."
"He is better then you are, Ferret." Ron spat, standing and facing Draco.
"Ron, please, stay out of this." Harry commented, not turning his gaze from Malfoy.
"You heard him, Weasel. He thinks he can fight his own battles now." Draco sneered.
"I don't want to fight with you, Malfoy." Harry grumbled tiredly. This was not turning out the way he'd hoped at all. He had chosen to play peacemaker just to avoid such a confrontation. However from the set of Malfoy's stance, a confrontation now seemed unavoidable. If he had spared a moment to think about it, Harry would have found this entire conversation very strange. Malfoy never picked fights with him at the start of the year.
"Too good to fight with me, eh? Coward." Malfoy spat, clearly enjoying this exchange. "You've spent too much time around the Mudblood and the Weasel. I told you that you should have chosen your friends more carefully."
"That's enough!" Harry yelled, taking two steps towards Draco so that they were practically nose to nose. His thoughts of being nice completely abandoned in the heat of the moment. "Every year you come in here throwing insults and I'm getting tired of it. Do you not get enough nastiness over the summer while you're locked up with your parents?"
Harry almost winced the moment the words left his mouth, but there was no helping it. Draco always seemed to bring out the worst in him despite his best intentions. The pale blond went completely still at his words, the smirk vanishing from his lips. Draco leaned forward, his hands grasping the front of Harry's robes in a fit of fury. His voice was lowered to a hissing whisper, his words clearly meant for Harry's ears alone. "You don't know anything about it."
"You're right." Harry admitted, meeting Draco's gaze directly, his voice dropping to the same level as the irate Slytherin's. "I don't know why you do the things you do. I don't know what your home life is like or why you hate me so much. Frankly, I don't give a damn. I have more important things to worry about then why it is that you feel the insufferable need to throw insults about like so much confetti." Lies, of course. He had a good idea of what Draco's home life was probably like and he'd spent more time then he'd like to admit contemplating the blonde's reasoning the night before.
Draco blinked, looking a bit as if Harry had struck him. For a long moment he didn't speak, just continued to clutch Harry's robes in his fists and stare into the other's bright green eyes as if trying to weigh the truth of his words. In that moment Harry thought he saw some unreadable emotion in Malfoy's gray gaze which was a far cry from the usual hatred. However the moment he felt he was on the verge of recognizing it the emotion was gone and Malfoy's gaze was as blank and cold as it had ever been. "I HATE you, Potter." He hissed softly, his words practically dripping venom.
"Then hate me. Hate me all you like, Malfoy. Just leave my friends out of it." Harry replied, his hard gaze softening a bit with realization and acceptance. "Whatever it is that makes you do the things you do isn't about them. It's about you and me and it always has been. Since that first day that's all it's been about. I rejected your offer of friendship, you tossed out that nasty comment about my parents and it's been like this between us every day after." Harry felt anger boiling up inside him once more, despite his attempts to repress it, and he brought his hands up, wrapping them around Malfoy's hands and prying them from the front of his robes. Malfoy made no attempt to fight him, merely letting his hands drop back to his sides without ever taking his eyes from Harry's.
"Think so?" Draco asked softly, his voice and face revealing nothing. Harry thought vaguely that Malfoy would have made an excellent card player.
"Yes, I do. So if you want to settle this once and for all then name the place and I'll be there with bells on, but until then... bugger off."
Draco smirked, stepping backwards and taking his gaze from Harry's at last, shattering the moment they'd been caught in. The world seemed to come back into focus for Harry at that moment and he remembered that he and Malfoy had not been alone and that an entire roomful of his friends and enemies had been watching their confrontation with great interest. He flushed slightly, rather hoping they hadn't heard every word that had been spoken between them as he watching Draco take another step backwards.
The silver-haired Slytherin's smirk widened slightly, his gray eyes gleaming with murderous contempt. "Don't think I won't take you up on that offer, Potter. Be seeing you." With that and wave at Crabbe and Goyle, Draco strode from the compartment and Harry was left to wonder if he hadn't just signed his own death warrant.
"That was amazing, Harry!" Seamus cried suddenly, standing quickly and clapping the startled dark-haired boy on the shoulder.
"Huh?" Harry asked, turning around to face the grinning faces of his friends.
Ron smiled broadly, "I don't know what you said to him, but he certainly left in a hurry."
"Whatever did you say to him, Harry? He just walked out of here without a word." Dean commented, his grin even wider then Ron's if such a thing were possible.
Harry blinked, rather shocked. Hadn't they heard Draco's parting threat? Or the conversation that led up to it? Dean and Seamus chattered on happily, doing a mock impression of exactly what they had seen, which was startling different from what had actually taken place.
"Oh? Are you dismissing me, Potter?" Dean said, doing a remarkably good impression of Draco's drawl.
"I don't want to fight with you, Malfoy?" Seamus stated easily, his impression of Harry making him appear quite a bit tougher then Harry actually was.
"Too good to fight with me, eh? Coward." Dean curiously left out the insult Draco had delivered towards Ron and Hermione, for which Harry was rather grateful.
"Bugger off!" Seamus growled before he burst out laughing. "And then he just takes off out of here without a word. Good show, Harry!"
"Thanks." Harry murmured softly, bewildered by their account of events. The trio continued to chat on about Harry and Draco for a few moments before their conversation turned once more to Quidditch and Harry drifted away from them. He came to sit down beside Hermione who was frowning slightly.
"Harry..." She began quietly, pitching her voice so that the boys couldn't quite hear her. "Does it seem to you a bit strange that they don't seem to have seen all that went on between you and Malfoy?"
Harry breathed a sigh of relief suddenly, turning towards Hermione and offering her an unsteady smile. "You noticed that too?"
"Yes. I could only catch snatches of your conversation because you were both talking so quietly most of the time, but I heard you challenge him. Why do you think it is that they somehow missed that entire exchange?" Hermione responded, her expression a bit nervous.
Unsure how to respond, Harry shrugged and answered honestly. "I don't know."
"Well, I'll have to take a trip to the library tomorrow and see what I can turn up." Hermione patted Harry's knee gently, "I'm sure it's nothing to worry over."
"I hope you're right." Harry replied, a frown darkening his expression a bit as a quiet hissing swept over the train. He could see Hermione speaking to him, her lips moved, but he couldn't hear her words. All he could hear was that strange hissing sound. "What?" He asked aloud at the same moment that the train suddenly rocked as if it had been struck by a giant.
Someone screamed . The lights went out suddenly leaving the students in darkness as a second blow rocked the train.
Harry looked about, bewildered, squinting through the fading sunlight, which cast dim light through the compartment. He could see the shadowy figures of his friends and the dim features of Hermione looking about with similar bewilderment. A third blow rocked the train, throwing a few of those shadow figures off their feet and Harry swallowed hard. It was an attack.
Someone was attacking the train.
Someone who was probably trying to get to him.
Harry hesitated for only a brief moment before leaping to his feet and breaking into a run towards the back of the compartment. Or maybe it was the front of the compartment. He couldn't be quite sure about that. However he was certain that he heard Ron call his name as he slammed through a door which connected their carriage with the next, but he couldn't stop. All Harry could do was run and all he could think of was putting as much distance between him and his friends as possible. If he stayed in the compartment with them he would only put them in danger. Just like he had put Cedric in danger.
Kill the spare.
Harry finally came to a stop as he came upon the last carriage, which was blessedly empty. He was tired, exhausted by his long run as he turned to look outside, hoping for a glimpse of what was going on. All he could see was a green haze and then a dark figure that seemed to be standing perfectly still some distance from the train. He couldn't make out the figure's features at all and it was only when his scar began to ache dully that he realized that he was in very real danger. He could hear the figure shout words that he couldn't make out and then a red blaze of light was rocketing towards him.
"Not like this." He murmured softly, unable to move as the light grew brighter and closer. Glass shattered about him and he heard someone scream a warning even as he felt something heavy hit him from the side knocking him to ground as heat seemed to blaze all around him. Then the light was gone and he felt the train jerk into motion once more.
Harry's breath came in rapid gasps as he slowly realized that he had been just inches away from certain death. The only thing that had saved him was the person who had come hurtling into him at top speed and knocked him to the ground. The same person who was still lying heavily against his back, pinning him firmly to the carpeted floor of the carriage. Still, the efforts of this mystery person had not saved him from the scolding pain that seemed to have engulfed his right arm. Harry lay for a long moment in the grasp of his own pain before he thought to inquire to the well being of the person atop him.
"Hey... um... are you all right up there?" He asked softly, his voice coming out in a hoarse pained whisper.
The weight stirred slightly and a mumbled reply was lost in Harry's robes, but Harry was certain that he heard a note of pain in that quiet response. Guilt hit him with a blow far stronger than the one that had almost killed him. Someone else had been hurt on account of him. Just what he'd been trying to avoid. He grimaced, more pained by this fact then the fire that engulfed his arm. "What hurts? Can you get off me so I can check you out?"
This got an instant response and Harry let out a cry of pain as the person who lay against him snaked out a hand to grasp his injured arm tightly. He twisted the arm backwards, pressing it against Harry's back and pushing himself up to his hands and knees. "Worry about yourself!" He hissed, tightening his hold on Harry's arm. "I promise you I won't save you again, Potter. Next time I'll let them burn you down. Next time, you'll be known forever as the boy who screamed."
"Malfoy?" Harry asked softly, for he could have sworn that it was the hoarse, pained voice of his archrival he heard in those angry words. But, then again, that wasn't possible. Draco Malfoy would never put himself in danger for Harry Potter. Malfoy absolutely hated him.
If Harry's savior heard his whispered question, he chose not to grace him with an answer. Instead he released his hold on Harry's arm and pushed himself slowly to his feet. Harry turned quickly, catching a glimpse of Malfoy's silver hair and black robes as the boy stumbled out of the carriage. Swallowing hard, Harry lay back against the floor, listening vaguely to the sound of Malfoy's fading footsteps as blackness engulfed him.
~to be continued~
Another chapter done! Much thanks to those who have reviewed. I hope you're enjoying the story. ^_^
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