Chapter Two: Hating Harry Potter

Draco Malfoy hated Harry Potter.

He hated the way Potter was treated like a hero, even though he flagrantly broke the rules. He hated the attention always being focused on the Boy Who Lived, both positive and negative. He hated that Potter was indeed better at charms and hexes, as evidenced in the days that passed. He hated that Harry bowed and scraped to the Dursleys despite his superiority to the Muggles. He hated that Harry wore hand-me-downs from that fat, short slob Dudley and didn't even have shoes that fit. Draco also hated that the Dursleys and Harry ignored him completely no matter what he said or did, pretending he wasn't even there.

Mostly, though, he hated that he was starting to sympathize with Harry.

Harry hadn't lied when he'd said he didn't sleep. Four nights out of seven, he was up reading or practicing charms and hexes in the yard. The other three nights he chased a luminous snitch on his broom, proving that seekers needn't be small and lithe to be excellent players. Puberty, Draco had learned, wasn't the total cause of Harry's size. The Gryffindor did hundreds of sit-ups and push-ups every day. Draco got tired from just watching him.

During the day, Harry performed manual labor for the Dursleys, ignoring his porky cousin Dudley who cruelly taunted him on a daily basis. Harry ignored Draco's taunting, too, much to the Slytherin's annoyance. Harry never angered, nor did he smile. He took everything in with calm indifference and projected a hard, confident attitude to the outside world.

Draco hated it. He wanted Harry to fight with him. He wanted to see Harry's face redden in anger. He wanted to draw wands and zap each other. He wanted to punch Harry in the gob and cause a plebeian schoolboy tussle. He wanted to stop being treated as nothing.

He wanted to stop feeling a hint of worry for Potter.

Draco watched Harry toss and turn on the grass in the backyard. This was the fourth time in as many weeks that Harry had dropped from exhaustion in the yard and slept like the dead for five solid hours before the nightmares started. Draco didn't know what Harry dreamed, nor did he ask, but when Harry finally awoke he pressed his hand against his scar and gasped for breath for several minutes. Then, he'd return to the bedroom, write a letter, and send it off with Hedwig. She always returned in a few days with a reply letter, which Harry read stoically and destroyed, and then pushed himself even harder in training.

Draco refused to allow that to happen again. He was going to demand that Potter tell him about the dreams, then put a stop to them. He knew several anti-nightmare spells and could whip up a dreamless sleeping potion with the potions kit in his trunk. Hopefully by helping, he'd put an end to both the dreams and the feelings of sympathy he had for Harry.

Draco was just finishing his last scroll of summer homework -- being ignored had some benefit -- when Harry came into the bedroom. Harry walked right to the desk and began his ritualistic letter. Draco put away his books, crossed to Harry, and hopped up onto the desk. "What was the dream about this time?" he asked without preamble.

Harry paused in his writing and glanced up at Draco. "Why?"

"Because I want to know."

"Why do you want to know?" Harry questioned.

"Because I can help you to stop having them," Draco replied.

"Again -- why?"

Draco glared at Harry. "I'm being altruistic. Take it or leave it, this is a short time offer."

Harry studied him with such intensity, Draco felt like he was under a magnifying glass. He forced himself not to show how uncomfortable Harry was making him.

The other boy must have found whatever he was looking for, because he nodded once, set aside his quill, and leaned back in the desk chair. "My dreams aren't dreams, they're visions of things that are occurring wherever Voldemort is," he said.


Harry shook his head. "The dreams are of the present, not of things to come." He brushed his fingers over the scar on his brow. "This scar connects me to Voldemort, and if he's doing something extremely malevolent when I'm asleep, I see it in my dreams. I stopped sleeping after the eleventh Muggle family I saw horribly murdered by Voldemort and the Death Eaters."

"They're only Muggles," Draco pointed out.

"And you're an asshole, but you don't see me torturing you to death because of it," Harry said bluntly.

"Point taken," Draco conceded, though he had no compassion for Muggles. They were the cause of the wizarding world's problems, making wizards hide their magic like it was a disease and not a benefit.

"Look, I know you agree with Voldemort about the Muggles hindering wizardry, which is as natural to us as breathing," Harry said, practically reading Draco's mind. "But killing them is not the answer. Doing so makes us no better than savages, and I'd like to think I'm more intelligent than a bloody animal."

"So what do you want to do?" Draco said.

"Stop Voldemort once and for all," Harry answered firmly.

"How ambitious of you," Draco said, "though what else could be expected from the famous Harry Potter."

Harry's laugh was bitter, and it left a bad taste in Draco's mouth. "The famous Harry Potter, expected to be the greatest wizard ever. He can't be just a boy in ill-fitting hand-me-downs who happens to be good at Quidditch."

Harry picked up the quill and began writing again. The silence was thick with tension, the scratch of the quill on the paper grating to Draco. Still, Draco felt his sympathy for Harry go up an notch. He knew what it was like to have to live up to a name. Perhaps that's what Dumbledore hoped he'd learn by placing him with Harry. He hated Harry, though, that hadn't changed. Still...

"I can whip up a sleeping potion that will block your dreams and visions," Draco ventured as Harry neared the end of his letter.

Harry didn't pause in his writing. "In exchange for..."

Draco frowned. He hadn't planned to ask for anything in return, which was odd. He never did anything for free. "Um... you can teach me some of those charms and hexes that I've seen you cast."

"I've been waiting for you to ask that." Harry glanced up. "What took so long?"

Draco scowled. "Smugness does not become you."

Harry returned to his letter. "Tomorrow, eight o'clock, we'll start."

Chapter 3