The Damsel in Distress

Blaise Zabini was a dead man.

“Give me back my wand, now!” Draco Malfoy demanded, his angry voice reverberating off the Seventh Year boys’ dormitory walls.

“You’ll get it back at lunch.” Blaise looked down his nose at the infuriated blonde. “By then, you’ll have learned your lesson.”

“How dare you do this to me,” Draco hissed. “I’ll be humiliated in front of the entire school.”

“And we weren’t, when you gave us that potion that rearranged our body parts?” Blaise said.

Draco smirked. “That was amusing.”

“I had a penis for a nose.”

“Really? I thought that was your pinkie finger.”

Blaise’s eyes narrowed into slits. “The others have spread the word not to help you throughout Slytherin, and without your wand, you can’t threaten anyone. See you at lunch.”


The hairbrush Draco threw hit the door as it closed behind his dorm-mate. The mirror above his dresser tisked. “You’ll need that, if you want half a chance to look decent.”

“I’ll throw it at you if you don’t keep your gob shut,” Draco growled.

“No need to get tetchy.”

Draco blew out a frustrated breath and stared at his reflection in the mirror. There was a reason he slicked his hair down with a spell every day. Only six living people had seen him au natural, and four of them had just stolen his wand in revenge of his last prank.

Draco tugged on a white-blonde lock that had fallen in front of his face and watched, cross-eyed, as it sprang ridiculously when he let go. Having recently come from the showers, his clean, silky hair returned to its normal state and he cursed his father for having a mother with naturally curly hair. He cursed his father again for having been a lucky bastard to get grandfather Malfoy’s straight locks, leaving Draco to be the one disfigured by heredity.

The riotous mass of loose curls had already begun frizzing as his hair dried. Draco fetched his brush and tried to tame back the rat’s nest. He smoothed it as much as he could and tied it with a black ribbon behind his neck. His lips thinned as he looked at his reflection. A few locks popped free of the tie, falling in gentle corkscrews, framing his face.

He was going to kill Zabini.

“But Pansy—”

“No, Draco, I’m not going to help you,” Pansy said. “It’s your own fault for pulling that nasty prank on them.”

“You didn’t seem to mind where Nott’s tongue ended up.”

Pansy glared murderously. Draco thought it was wise not to bother her any longer.

The clock on the mantle in the Slytherin common room told Draco it was time to get to class. As Zabini had promised, not a single Housemate had offered to help and the few he’d asked (threatened) had only laughed. It was nearing the end of term and the Slytherin First Years knew how to hold their own. It left Draco with a frizzy mop on his head and a NEWT-level Potions lesson to sit through.

Draco cut a fine line to being late and he slipped into his seat moments before Professor Snape banged the classroom door shut. His potions class was made up of students from all four Houses and it was obvious that word of his predicament had spread throughout the school already. Bloody Zabini.

“Silence,” Snape ordered, stopping the whispers, snickers, and giggles. To his credit, he barely paused when he saw Draco’s untamed mane. “Face front and copy the instructions from the board. Can someone tell me the name of the potion we are brewing?”

Two people raised their hands, Granger and Turpin from Ravenclaw. Draco knew the answer, of course, but he preferred not to draw attention to himself again. Luckily, his seat was in the back of the room, and only those down his row kept turning to stare. Well, them, and Harry Potter.

Potter was in the front corner of the room, twisted on his stool with head propped on his fist, staring across the classroom at him. It wasn’t Potter’s usual vacant stare, either. Potter was actually looking at Draco, seeing him, and he stared throughout the entire class period, even after Snape had told him to stop.

Draco could feel Potter’s eyes on him as he worked. It was different than the other stares of his classmates, who were laughing at him. Potter’s gaze was intense. It felt like all his focus was solely on Draco, like he’d done something truly wrong, and he tried not to squirm uncomfortably during class.

Potter was an odd duck, had been ever since he returned to school after killing He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named at the end of Sixth Year (conveniently allowing Draco and his friends not to have to officially choose sides in the war). Potter was just sort of there, going through the motions without thought or feeling behind them. Draco had gotten a rise out of Potter once since the term began and he wouldn’t forget that encounter.

“Look, it’s the Murderer,” Draco said maliciously, from where he leaned against the stone column outside the main castle doors. “Potter should be in Azkaban with the other killers, if you ask me.”

“Shut it, Malfoy,” Weasley snapped. He and Granger flanked Potter on either side.

“Why should I? I’m not the only one who thinks it’s wrong for Potter to be roaming free,” Draco sneered. His Slytherin companions murmured in agreement. “I hear he killed You-Know-Who with his bare hands. How ‘bout it, Potter? Did you murder the Dark Lord with your own two hands? Did you enjoy it?”

“Yesss.” The word was English, but Potter hissed like he was speaking Parseltongue. Potter’s haunting green eyes pinned Draco to the wall, with dark intensity. Draco would never admit it, but he was as scared as he’d ever been in that moment, and wondered if Potter was going to kill him with his bare hands, too.

It hadn’t been Potter who’d attacked Draco, however. Granger had stepped in and cursed him with an emasculating spell that left him writhing and his friends fearing for their own genitalia. Since then, Draco avoided Potter as much as possible and, in the classes they shared, Potter usually didn’t even look his way.

But now, Potter was staring at him. It was unnerving. Draco couldn’t wait for class to end so he could escape. Facing the humiliation of a bad hair day was far preferable to facing Harry Potter, Bare-Handed Killer.

Draco didn’t make it, though. At the end of the lesson, the Hufflepuff sitting in front of him knocked his potions kit off the table and fled before Draco could say anything. Without a wand, Draco was stuck picking up the bottles, bags, and vials by hand from the floor (lucky for the Hufflepuff that none of them had broken) and repacking them in the kit.

“I’ll catch up, Hermione,” were the fateful words that Draco heard before straightening to find himself one of the last two students in the classroom.

Potter was the other one.

Draco’s eyes darted to the front of the classroom and he relaxed visibly. Snape was seated at his desk, going over homework parchments. Potter wouldn’t kill him with Snape present… would he?

Draco mentally slapped himself for being a sissy-girl. He straightened his shoulders and met Potter’s gaze dead-on. “What are you staring at, you four-eyed freak?”

Potter rounded the table and Draco forced himself not to move, as Potter invaded his personal space. He slapped at the hand that came up to tug on one of the loose curls. “Don’t touch me.”

“Is your hair for real?” Potter said, not deterred by the smack. He pulled at the springy lock again.

“Yes,” Draco said acidly. He hefted his schoolbag onto his shoulder. “Now, if you don’t mind, I have better things to do than stand here and be goggled at like a beast from Care of Magical Creatures.”

“Appropriate comparison,” Potter said obscurely, taking his wand from his belt.

Feeling a bit panicked, Draco’s glanced at Snape, who was watching but not doing anything. Why wasn’t he doing anything? Potter had just drawn his wand!

“Hold still,” Potter said, when Draco back-stepped with appropriate life-saving tactics. Potter snitched Draco’s wrist before he could flee in a manly manner and touched the wand to the top of Draco’s head. Levecrispus.”

Draco knew that spell intimately and the fluttering alarm in his heart slowed. It was the same spell he used every single morning since he was a boy, specifically for curly hair. Potter must’ve learned it from Granger, on the rare occasion the bushy-maned know-it-all used it. Draco could feel a tingle along his scalp as his hair smoothed and slicked down. The ribbon became too loose in back and floated to the ground.

Potter released Draco’s wrist, crouched, and reached around Draco’s legs for the ribbon. He straightened and held it out to Draco. “Much better. It’s truly wrong for you to look so messy.”

“Uh…” What was Draco supposed to say? Malfoys never thanked anyone.

Potter did something then that he hadn’t done all year and Draco was once more afraid: he smiled. A giant, ear-to-ear, Merlin-does-Potter-have-a-lot-of-teeth, pleased smile. Draco took another step back.

“See ya, Malfoy,” Potter said cheerfully and practically bounced out of the classroom.

Draco blinked owlishly at the door a moment before turning to Professor Snape. “What was that all about?”

“I think you’ve managed to snap Mr. Potter out of his depression,” Snape said.

“Using my hair?” Draco said incredulously.

“Since he started at Hogwarts, Mr. Potter has had the weight of the wizarding world on his shoulders. But with the Dark Lord’s destruction, there’s no need for Potter any longer. He doesn’t know what to do about it.”

“Potter turned into a scary, silent psycho because he didn’t feel needed any longer?”

Snape’s oily brow arched at Draco’s descriptive. “Potter likes to be the hero, as you very well know, Mr. Malfoy. Today, you gave him the chance to be one again.”

“Bloody hell,” Draco moaned as what Snape said sank in. It would be all around the school that Potter had rescued him from his wild hair, on top of the fact that he, Draco Malfoy, Potter’s Hogwarts arch-nemesis, had made Potter happy again.

Death, Draco decided, was way too kind for Zabini.


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