Chapter Seven: Timetables

The Great Hall was slow to empty after breakfast the following day. Class schedules had been delivered early on in the meal, and Draco saw that he had relatively the same timetable as last year. The fifth year Slytherins shared Charms and Double Potions with Gryffindor, Herbology and DADA with Hufflepuff, and History of Magic and Care of Magical Creatures with Ravenclaw. His Arithmancy class was a mix from all Houses.

Draco looked across the Hall to the messy-haired Gryffindor he was patiently waiting for. Crabbe and Goyle, who'd apparently decided to continue their friendship with Draco for the time being, had beckoned Draco to return to the dorms with them to retrieve the correct books before their first class, but Draco had waved them off. He was the last Slytherin at the long table, but wasn't uncomfortable alone. His headache from yesterday had settled into a dull throbbing behind his left eye. It was something to ignore, just like the continued whispers about his father.

A first year Gryffindor tapped Harry on the shoulder and asked something when the older student turned. Draco's brows rose when the first year paled drastically and fled the Hall after Harry replied. Harry immediately received a tongue-lashing from Hermione, which Draco could partially hear from where he sat. He wondered what Harry had said to his younger Housemate.

Eventually, Hermione left with Ron and Harry strode to the Slytherin table. The few students left in the Hall started whispering to each other while staring in Harry and Draco's direction.

"Morning." Harry placed his class schedule on the Slytherin table above Draco's and leaned in to look over Draco's shoulder. "We don't have long until our first class, so let's do this quickly, eh?"

Draco nodded, and Harry went on. "All right. Dumbledore has given us both carte blanche permission to do anything, anywhere, anytime, as long as we don't abuse his generosity. This includes being outside after hours, so I hope you'll continue to play midnight Quidditch with me."

"I'd be happy to," Draco said truthfully. Their late night competition was both exhilarating and relaxing at the same time, and it was one of the things he knew he'd miss now that they were back at school. It was great that they could still play. Draco's headache suddenly vanished entirely.

"Good," Harry responded. "Secondly," he tapped Draco's timetable, "Charms for us will be Independent Study. We're to work here in the Great Hall or outside where we can't destroy much."

"We're not planning to keep our lessons a secret?" Draco questioned, somewhat surprised.

"I see no reason to," Harry replied. He braced a knee on the bench beside the other teen and leaned on his forearms. Turning his head, he could easily meet Draco's eyes. "Voldemort already knows I'm working to defeat him and, because of your father, I doubt he'd readily accept you as a Death Eater. He can somewhat sense lies, which makes direct subterfuge difficult. Unless, of course, you really are on Voldemort's side and plan to give me to him as proof of loyalty."

Draco grabbed Harry's wrist, his thin fingers grasping tightly. Pale eyes flashing, he ground out, "That bastard murdered my father. I will never join with him, no matter how I feel about Muggles, Squibs, or Mudbloods."

Harry nodded once. "That's good to hear."

Draco pressed his lips together and focused on his hand clasped to Harry's wrist as he fought to bottle up the anger surging through his veins. He saw the tattoo spider scurry out from beneath his robe sleeve, cross over to Harry and disappear under the cuff of his robe. Draco felt a pang of disappointment. He released Harry's arm.

"Everything okay?" Harry questioned quietly.

"Yes," Draco answered firmly. "Continue."

"Well," said Harry, "I think we should also have a set time on the weekends. Is right after breakfast good?"

"That's fine," Draco agreed.

"All right." Harry gathered his timetable and tucked it in his robe. "There's one other thing: Snape's given permission for you to use his Potions classroom, plus everything in it, on Friday mornings during your free period."

"Really?" Draco was stunned. He was a favorite student of Snape's, but the professor was very possessive of his potions ingredients.

"Really," Harry confirmed. "You'd mentioned before that you'd love time to experiment, so I asked Dumbledore, Dumbledore prodded Snape, and Snape agreed." He cast a glance around the now-empty Great Hall. "We'd best be getting to class. Unless you have any more questions?"

Draco shook his head, gobsmacked because Harry had remembered an off-handed comment Draco had made while brewing Harry's sleeping potion the first time.

"Right, then. I'll be seeing you." Harry headed for the grand double doors of the Great Hall. Draco called to him before he crossed the threshold.

"Potter--." Harry looked back. The words of thanks felt too awkward on Draco's tongue, and he changed his mind about saying them. He hated Potter anyway. Instead, he asked, "What did you say to that first year Gryffindor at breakfast?"

The indifferent mask Harry constantly wore didn't slip a centimeter as he replied, "He asked if the rumor that I killed Cedric Diggory was true. I told him yes."

Chapter 8