Ch. 2- "Kyle's Insight"
Notes: This fic will probably be kind of long... bear with me if there are lapses between chapters, as I do have a career that exhausts/frustrates me quite often. I have never written HP fanfiction before, either, so sorry if I do the characters OOC or something.. ok, scratch that, there will be OOCness. This IS a slash fic, after all. =p And I think this is my first non-anime fanfic, too... o_O scary...
Thanks to Mami-san for beta-ing the fic- goddess knows I'm too damn lazy to spellcheck my own junk. @_@
I got the title frum the song of the same name from "Fushigi Yuugi"- it's Soi's song, I believe.
Warning: This is a Draco/Harry SLASH fic. Don't like that, bugger off. -_- And for those of you who despise Draco, I understand.. ^.^; He IS quite the shithead... but I can't help but like this couple. Also, if you haven't read all 4 current HP books, this fic will most likely contain spoilers. You've been forwarned.
Whatever Ron's secret was, he didn't seem inclined to clue Harry in on it.
His initial fright at Malfoy's threat to spread the news throughout the school seemed to have dissipated as days went by with no rumors cropping up about him. It seemed Malfoy had been lying after all. Ginny avoided Malfoy, and so there were no further problems on that matter for the next two weeks after Harry and Ron had confronted him that night in the hall.
After awhile Harry became too caught up in Quidditch to even think about it. Their first game against Hufflepuff was an easy win, but their upcoming game with Slytherin was something the whole school was looking forward to. The seekers of the two teams were fiercely competitive with each other on the field, making for a thrilling game every time. Ebony Tillings, the new Gryffindor Quidditch Keeper, kept them out on the field until dark getting them ready for the coming game. She was determined to have her team on a winning streak for her first year as captain. She was a very brusque, assertive girl.
"And remember, Harry," she said for the hundredth time, "don't let that creep Malfoy get anywhere near the snitch. Or I'll kill you."
Harry grinned nervously and nodded. Ebony was a nice girl, but under pressure she tended to show her violent side. She stood as tall as he did, and was very athletic. Harry was of the firm opinion she could quite easily pick him up and throw him if he annoyed her, so he kept his complaints on the rough schedule to himself.
"Ok," Ebony said, glancing at the darkening sky, "that's enough for today. Be ready for the big game Tuesday!"
The team began collecting their brooms, wishing each other good night as they headed towards the school.
Harry finished polishing his Firebolt and packed his kit, calling goodbye to his friends. Waving to Ebony, who was locking up the dressing room, he plodded towards the school wearily.
Harry tugged his robes around him a little tighter against the cold night air as he walked, watching his breath puff in front of his nose in little white clouds. He peered up at the star-strewn sky, enjoying the silence as he walked alone, slowing his steps to prolong the moment. As he was passing the lake, he caught movement out of the corner of his eye and paused to squint in the twillight.
There it was again.
He blinked in surprise. There was someone at the edge of the lake, their robes moving a little with the night breeze, the only movement on the still form. Harry hestiated, glancing around, before walking towards the figure. Was it someone from the team? He didn't see a broom.
"Hey," he called as he approached.
The tall figure stirred, turning slightly to look at him, and he took in a quick breath of air in recognition. "Kyle," he said dumbly. "What are you doing out here?"
The slender boy eyed him wordlessly for a long moment before turning his face away, back towards the lake. "Just out for a stroll," he said quietly. His voice was cool as the breeze, and completely calm. Harry frowned slightly.
"It's almost curfew," he said hesitantly.
"I can read time, Potter."
Great. The scornful hint to his voice reminded him too much of Malfoy. He turned to go.
"Feel like joining me?"
Harry was completely caught off guard by the simple question. He stared at the taller boy. "What?"
Kyle turned his head slightly to regard him, face emotionless. "Do you have anything better to do?"
Harry hesitated, glancing towards the school before walking over to stand beside the Slytherin, shooting a sideways look at him, unsure of what to say.
Kyle was staring out across the surface of the lake, the moonlight casting shadows across half of his pale face, ragged bangs hanging over his eyes. "So you're Potter," he said. "We haven't properly met, I don't think."
"Uh..yeah." Harry shifted uncomfortably. He was cold. "You're the new transfer student, Kyle, right?"
"Draco doesn't think too highly of you," Kyle remarked dryly.
It took Harry a second to place the name. "Malfoy?" He frowned. "I don't care for him, either," he said honestly, wondering at the abrupt subject change.
Kyle chuckled quietly, lips curving in a small, strange smile. "Your parents were on opposing sides in the past," he pointed out. "So it's understandable."
For some reason Harry didn't like the other boy's reference to his father and Lucias Malfoy. "We're not fighting our parents' war or anything," he snapped, shivering as he, too, turned his gaze on the still lake. "We have our own reasons for not liking each other."
"Perhaps," Kyle said, tilting his head slightly in acquisence. "After all, didn't he extend a hand of friendship towards you in your first year?"
He'd almost forgotten about that. "You seem to know a lot about us," Harry said. "What are you, some kind of spy?"
Kyle didn't seem offended. "I have spoken with Draco about you," he said with a little shrug. "Sometimes I wonder who he hates more- you or your red-headed friend. Weasley."
Harry frowned. "He has no reason to hate Ron," he said sharply. "He's just a jerk. He doesn't like anyone outside of Slytherin."
"Really." Kyle finally looked at him, arching a brow.
"Yes," Harry said, a little unnerved. This had to be the weirdest conversation he'd had in awhile.
"How many friends do you think Draco has?" Kyle asked suddenly.
Harry was caught off guard once again. "Uh.." He reached up to rub his cold nose. "Plenty, I s'pose. All of Slytherin seems to worship him. And he's always with those oafs Crabbe and Goyle."
"Oh, yes, Draco is popular," Kyle said easily. "But I don't think he has any 'friends'."
Harry stared at him, nonplussed.
"What is a friend to you?" Kyle asked keenly. "Are Granger and Weasley your friends? What could they have possibly done to deserve your friendship?"
"A lot," Harry said loudly, suddenly irritated. "They've been through a lot for me, and they would never hurt me or turn their backs on me. They've always been there for me."
"What have you done," Kyle interrupted, unruffled, "to deserve *their* friendship?"
"Plenty, I'm sure," Kyle said without waiting for an answer. "I'm sure you're just as loyal to them as they are to you. That is the way of a Griffindor." He looked back towards the water, face blank. "But that kind of loyalty is not a strong point of the Slytherin House, is it?"
Harry frowned. "What are you talking about?" he snapped, shifting on numb feet. He was getting colder just standing still.
"So a friend to you is someone who will always be there for you, who will accept you for who you are, and love you for it. Someone to walk with, to laugh with, to joke with. Someone who is kind to you." He smiled again, his eyes hidden by the shadow of his bangs. "Oh, yes, Draco is popular. He's their Quidditch Seeker, he comes from a prestigious family, he sneers in the face of the famous Harry Potter. He has his admirers- Crabbe and Goyle, for example. But he has no friends, Potter."
Harry opened his mouth, but Kyle cut him off before he could speak. "He could have his own little clique of followers if he so desired," he murmured. "Lord knows he loves attention. But Slytherins are reknowned for stabbing companions in the back for their own welfare. And Draco isn't stupid- he knows this. He would rather be on his own then allow someone to get close enough to turn around and betray him in the end." He tilted his head upwards slightly, towards the sky, his voice contemplative. "I think at heart Draco has always yearned for a real friend. But he has been taught not to allow himself the luxury."
Harry stared up at the taller boy in surprised silence. It was hard to imagine Malfoy longing secretly for a friend. It almost made him sound more human.
"It is my hobby to study a person's character to better understand the way they tick," Kyle was saying. "Part of Draco's hatred for you comes from what I suspect is a resentful jealousy and admiration."
Harry gaped. "Malfoy, jealous? Of me??"
"You are the Boy Who Lived," Kyle chuckled. "You've been famous since you were a year old, Potter. Everyone knows your name, just about everyone who does not follow You Know Who loves you. But it isn't just your popularity." He looked sideways at Harry. "He is jealous of the person you have become. I wonder... if you are the person he wishes he could be."
"You're nuts," Harry said abruptly, tightening his grip on his broom and tugging his robes closer. "You're looking too deeply into things." His voice turned scornful. "Malfoy is a cheat, a bully, and a liar."
"He has no compassion or pity for anything," Harry snapped. "He's just like his father. He's hurt my friends, he's hurt me, and he's never shown anyone any kindness." He glared out at the lake. "I hate him."
"Hate is a strong word," Kyle said mildly.
"You sure act like you know him a lot," Harry accused. "You just got here two months ago."
"I know Draco," Kyle said. "Our fathers are friends."
Harry took in a quick breath. Their fathers were friends? But Lucias Malfoy was a Death Eater.. did that mean Kyle's father was, too? Great, here he was having the most ridiculous conversation he'd ever had with a future *Death Eater*. Stupid, stupid! he berated himself mentally, frantically trying to think of an excuse to leave. "Well, it's getting kind of late," he said lamely, starting to edge away. "I'd better-"
"You think Draco is heartless?" Kyle asked with a little smirk, pinning him to the spot with his gaze. "You should meet Mr. Malfoy."
"I have," Harry said shortly. "He's just as slimey as his son."
"More so," Kyle said quietly, staring at him piercingly. "He doesn't have the false hopes of youth that Draco might harbor. He is ruthless and slippery to the core."
"Look," Harry started desperately.
"I've known Draco for a very long time," Kyle said. "Tell me, Potter, have you ever seen him with bruises at the beginning of the school year?"
Harry hesitated. "He picks fights," he said slowly. "He's thickheaded, and doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut."
"Especially around his father," Kyle said drolly. "One would think after sixteen years Draco would learn not to lock horns with that man. Lucias has a.. violent temper."
Harry stared at him. "What are you saying?" he demanded, and immediately wished he hadn't.
But Kyle was already answering. "Don't be dense, Potter." He sneered. "Lucias has a heavy hand."
"He hits his own son?" Harry asked before he could stop himself. Even his uncle Vernon had never hit him hard enough to bruise him.
Kyle laughed. It was a humorless, unnerving sound.
Harry turned away, walking quickly. "It's almost curfew," he said. "I'm going inside."
"You make an interesting character study, as well, Potter," Kyle called after him. "I'll see you around." He laughed again.
Harry hurried towards the castle, shivering with more than the cold.
His teeth were chattering so badly by the time he got to the school and made his way up to the fat lady guarding the Griffindor common room that he could barely say the password. "P-p-poppyseed bread."
The portrait swung aside and he hurried in, walking past the people still up in the common room and taking the stairs to the boys' quarters two at a time.
He dressed in his warm pajamas quickly and slid under the thick coverlet, burying his nose against his pillow to warm it and willing sleep to come.
But the strange conversation he had had with Kyle kept running through his mind, and it was another hour before sleep finally claimed him.
"Harry," Hermione hissed, stepping on his foot.
Harry jumped, almost dropping his quill. "Huh?"
Hermione was staring straight ahead, muttering out of the corner of her mouth. "Snape is looking right at you. Pay attention!"
Harry quickly directed his gaze to the front of the classroom, to see that Snape was indeed peering at him with displeasure.
"Distracted, Potter?" he asked in a hard voice. "Perhaps you would like to be the first volunteer?"
Harry blinked dumbly. Volunteer? Cripes. He had no idea what the man was talking about.
"Your potion," Hermione mumbled, lips barely moving, eyes still forward.
"Uh.." Harry glanced at the cauldron beside him. "Yes, sir, it's finished."
There were snickers from the Slytherins, and he knew he'd given a glib answer. Snape walked towards him slowly, arms crossed in the folds of his robes. "Well, then, Mr. Potter, if you're done daydreaming," he said coldly, "perhaps you'd be so kind as to prove your potion *works*."
Harry set his quill aside as Snape stopped in front of his desk. "Sir?"
Snape reached over and lifted the ladle from the cauldron, thrusting a spoonful of the steaming, murky green liquid at Harry. "Since I doubt you have paid much attention in the past hour," Snape said with a smug smile, "I will not be surprised if you grow spots when you try this. Drink, Potter."
Harry hesitated, glancing from the Professor to the ladle. It certainly didn't look appetizing. "Profe-"
"DRINK, Potter," Snape said loudly.
Hermione shot a frantic look towards her friend.
Harry reluctantly accepted the ladle, knowing all eyes were on him. He frantically went over the steps and ingredients in his mind. He was pretty sure he hadn't forgotten anything. But then, he had been distracted... what if he had messed it up? Taking a deep breath, he raised the ladle to his mouth.
"Harry," Hermione gasped.
Snape's hand shot out, gripping Harry's wrist in a death grip. Harry gaped at him, startled.
The man was scowling darkly at him. "Well, Mr. Potter," he said snidely, "I suppose this proves my point. You were *not* paying attention. Did you forget your brain today?" The Slytherins laughed. Harry stared up at him, confused and embarrassed.
Snape removed his hand, smirking. "Fifty points from Gryffindor." He turned and swept back towards his desk.
Some of the Gryffindors groaned.
Harry lowered the ladle, turning a bewildered look on Hermione.
She was shaking her head at him in exasperation. "Harry, what's wrong with you?" she hissed. "You've been out of it all morning!"
"I was thinking about something," Harry said defensively.
"Well you'd better think about what you're doing in class today," Hermione suggested. "You almost drank poison."
"Poison??" Harry hastily dropped the ladle and its contents back into the cauldron. "We aren't allowed to make poison in Hogwarts! He said this was supposed to sharpen your sense of smell."
"No," Hermione whispered impatiently, "but you put in too much eel's blood and not enough frog liver. That makes the potion deadly. You're lucky Snape's been watching you all period as usual and saw it." She glared at him. "Now please pay attention before you get yourself killed."
Harry nodded hastily and turned his attention to the front of the classroom.
"So what had you so out of it during Potions?" Ron asked, munching on a chocolate frog he'd snuck into class in his robes.
"You kept looking at Malfoy," Hermione said. "Did he say or do something to you?"
"What?" Ron was immediately alert. "What did he do to you?"
"Nothing," Harry said quickly. "He didn't do anything." Of course he couldn't tell them that Kyle's words from the previous night had been running through his head. He hadn't even told them yet of his chance meeting with the tall Slytherin. "I was just... daydreaming, I guess. I wasn't really looking right at Malfoy."
Hermione arched an eyebrow at him, but Ron just shrugged and took another bite of chocolate.
"Well anyway... at least he hasn't been teasing Ginny anymore. She's been avoiding him like the plague."
"Speak of the devil," Hermione murmured.
"And look who's with him," Ron added.
Harry glanced up quickly.
Malfoy was further along the hall, Crabbe and Goyle standing idly nearby. He was talking to Kyle.
"See?" Ron hissed. "What'd I tell you? Actin' like two old pals, those two."
"Come on," Harry said. "Let's go."
They had to pass the group of Slytherins on their way down the hall. Harry made it a point not to look at Kyle as they made their way towards them.
Just then Malfoy looked up, however, and spotted them. His smirk alerted Kyle, who glanced in Harry's direction.
"If it isn't Potter," Malfoy sneered, "and his little fanclub."
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Chapter 12 + Epilogue