He was smiling again, one that bordered on the edges of mocking but wavered with real amusement. Harry was affected by that smile more than anything else the git said or did. That smile made Harry twitch.
It started out innocent enough, or as innocent as anything ever gets when it comes to Draco Malfoy. Malfoy had been lounging against the stair banister, talking to another Slytherin. Crabbe and Goyle had been on the steps below him, shoving at one another.
Harry had thought it unfortunate to round the corner at that time, alone and needing to use that particular stairwell. He slowed his steps, mentally pulling up his Hogwarts map to figure out if there was another way he could go. Malfoy hadn’t noticed him yet, and Harry was sure he could avoid confrontation. He’d already had his fill of Malfoy for the day, thanks.
Before he could retreat, however, Goyle bent down suddenly and stuck his arm through the trick step, promptly getting it stuck. Crabbe laughed. “I can’t believe you did it!”
“Stop laughing and help me out!” Goyle said. Their voices carried in the stone corridors.
Crabbe was laughing too hard to be of any assistance. Instead of using the distraction as a means to escape, like a train wreck, Harry stopped and watched the events unfolding.
Malfoy’s conversation came to a halt at the loud guffaws. He looked down the steps at Crabbe and Goyle, his brows arching when he saw Goyle’s predicament. “Goyle, what are you doing?”
“I’m stuck,” Goyle grunted.
“I can see that you’re stuck, numbskull. What I want to know is why?” Malfoy said.
Goyle shot Crabbe a murderous glare. “Crabbe said that this wasn’t the trick step and I said it was. He told me to prove it, so I did. Now, I’m stuck.”
Malfoy’s lips twitched into a smile – that smile – and he shook his head. “Only you, Goyle.”
Harry disappeared unnoticed as Crabbe and Malfoy helped Goyle out, but Harry couldn’t get the scene out of his head for the rest of the day. Especially Malfoy’s smile, which was the most genuinely pleasant expression Harry’d ever seen on Malfoy’s face.
After that, at first, Harry had made a game of it: Malfoy Smile Watch. It seemed unbelievable that the boy who sneered hatefully or stuck his pureblood nose in the air at every opportunity actually knew how to smile. Granted, it wasn’t a beaming grin like Ron had or a sweet smile like Hermione’s (now that she had her teeth fixed), but Harry figured the world might really end if there was only joy and happiness behind Malfoy’s smiles.
So, Harry watched Malfoy, and he caught sight of that smile quite often, surprisingly. Considering Harry spent little time before caring what Malfoy was doing unless he was tormenting Harry and his friends, it was understandable. The more Harry watched, the more he got to realizing that Malfoy had a life outside of making Harry’s a living hell. Malfoy had friends, who gave him reason to smile.
The twitching started long about then. Every time Malfoy smiled, it reminded Harry that he knew nothing about the Slytherin – which was a good thing, except he wanted to know what Malfoy was smiling at. Then, he wanted to know why Malfoy could smile like that, but would only sneer at him. The twitches grew more pronounced when he realized he wanted those smiles directed at him. (After that thought, he had Hermione check him for a fever, but it turned out he was fine and ended up having to listen to Hermione lecture him about proper healthcare.)
Harry tried to stop the Malfoy Smile Watch, but it was impossible. He noticed all the time, even when he wasn’t consciously looking for it. He was even seeing that smile in his dreams and prayed that Dobby wouldn’t say anything about the state of his sheets in the mornings.
Hermione and Ron, of course, noticed something was wrong with Harry and demanded an explanation. “The twitching sort of clued us in that something was up,” Ron said on the walk to Charms. “What gives?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Harry grumbled.
“Well, you’re going to,” Hermione stated. “You’ve been twitchy for weeks now, and we’ve been patiently waiting for you to come to us, but we decided enough was enough.”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“We’re your best friends. Of course we’d understand,” Hermione said.
“Not this, you wouldn’t,” Harry said sullenly.
“Harry, just tell us,” Hermione said. “I promise we’ll accept whatever it is.”
Harry wasn’t insane, no matter what the rumors stated, and there was no way he was telling Hermione and Ron about Malfoy’s smiles.
He ended up not having to tell them anything, because Malfoy and Pansy were by the Charms classroom door, and Malfoy was smiling that smile, and Harry saw it and twitched. Hermione saw what Harry was looking at, used that super-smart brain of hers, and gasped in an exceedingly loud voice, “You’re twitching over Malfoy?!”
“What?!” Ron exclaimed.
Malfoy, and pretty much everyone else in the school, overheard Hermione. Malfoy looked over at Harry, left brow arched pointedly. A mocking sneer curled his lips. Harry wished he could Apparate on school grounds. “Thanks a lot, Hermione.”
“Sorry,” Hermione said. “But Malfoy?”
“What?!” Ron exclaimed.
“He gives me a rash,” Harry tried lying and failed miserably.
“So, Potter, an ugly bird tells me that you’re… twitchy over me.” Malfoy sauntered over to them, Pansy at his heels.
Harry glowered at Malfoy. “You heard wrong.”Malfoy tutted. “I’m sure I didn’t. Pansy, do you recall what the Mudblood said?”
“Unfortunately,” Pansy sniffed disdainfully. “She said Potter fancies you.”
“I do not fancy Malfoy,” Harry said between clenched teeth.
“Of course you don’t, Harry,” Ron said, puffing up, his hand straying to his wand.
Professor Flitwick arrived before a fight could break out and he shooed them towards the classroom. “Come along now, students. There are lessons to be learned.”
Hermione grabbed Ron’s arm and dragged him into the classroom. With a sneer of his own at Malfoy, Harry went to follow, but Pansy cut him off rudely. He quick-stepped backwards out of her way, promptly bumping into Malfoy behind him.
Harry bit his tongue at the automatic apology on his lips. He turned instead to give Malfoy a steely glare, only to falter completely when he saw Malfoy smiling that smile at him.
“You know, Potter,” Malfoy said softly. “I twitch for you, too.”
Then, Malfoy swept past a stunned Harry, into the classroom.
Professor Flitwick approached Harry, concern marring his weathered features. “Mr. Potter, is everything all right?”
Harry blinked owl-like behind his glasses and gave the Professor a shaky half-smile. “Yes, sir. But do you mind if I skive off? I’m feeling a bit… twitchy.”