Disclaimers:  I do not own Harry Potter or any of its characters.

Notes:  Draco tries to get used to his new surroundings, but the Slytherins don’t make it easy for him.

Shadows of Truth

Part Eleven

Christmas Break passed quickly.  Christmas morning, Draco had sat alone at a window, just staring out at nothing while Harry
and the others had opened their gifts.  Draco hadn’t gotten anything . . . but of course his family had disappeared.  Harry felt
bad for the blonde, wishing he could do something, but he doubted that Draco would appreciate getting a pity gift.

They ate in silence that night.  Draco was oddly quiet now, it was strange . . . Harry couldn’t get used to not hearing his snide
comments.  They tried to include him, but Draco wouldn’t communicate.  He simply just didn’t speak to anyone but Harry
anymore, not really.  Once or twice he would say he was sorry to Ron or Hermione, or thank them if they did something nice
for him, such as when Hermione had given him the last Chocolate Frog out of the dozen that Ron had given her for Christmas.  
But other than that, he was quiet and withdrawn.

Draco’s wounds healed over time.  By the end of break he was almost back to normal.  Needless to say that when the students
returned from home, all of them were quite shocked to find Draco in Gryffindor Tower.  Luckily no fights had broken out,
although Harry was certain that a few wanted to hurt Draco.  Ron, Harry, and Hermione had agreed then . . . one of them
would always be with Draco from now on.  They didn’t want to see Draco come to any more harm.  It was bad enough that
he was a shell of his former self, a quiet broken version of the Draco Malfoy that had taunted them so cruelly for years.

Every night Draco climbed into bed with Harry.  He was never there when Harry awakened, but he did sleep beside him for
most of the night.  Harry guessed that Draco didn’t want the others in the dorm to know about his nightly visits to Harry’s
bed.  Whether he was protecting himself or Harry by keeping it a secret was a mystery.

Now here they sat in Potions class.  Draco sat beside Harry, his eyes downcast as he added dried beetles to the cauldron Harry
stirred.  Behind them, Harry could hear the snickers of the Slytherins, knew that they were making fun of Draco . . . but there
was nothing he could do about it.  He didn’t want to cost Gryffindor any points . . . and Snape did still hate him enough to
deduct points for no real reason.

Something flew over Harry’s shoulder, landing on the table between Harry and Draco.  It was a scrap of parchment, balled up .
. . one of the Slytherins must have thrown it.  Draco reached over, picking it up.  He opened it and read.

Harry frowned in increasing worry as Draco made a choked up sound, tears hidden in the corners of his eyes.  Harry reached
out, intending to ask what was wrong.  But before he could, Draco pushed himself away from his seat and hurried from the
classroom, much to Professor Snape’s anger.

Harry bent and picked up the parchment from the floor where Draco had dropped it, even as Professor Snape was demanding
that Harry tell him what had happened.  Harry frowned deeply as he read the scrawled note, the cruel words that must have
sent Draco to leave the room.

“Gryffindor’s whore.”  was the simple cruel remark written there.

Harry shook his head, handing the parchment over to Professor Snape.  “Someone threw that at Draco.”  He said quietly,
looking over his shoulder at where the Slytherins snickered over their joke.

Snape’s lips tightened into a cold grimace.  He turned, his eyes icy as he looked at the group of Slytherins.  “Why Mr. Crabbe .
. . I believe this is your handwriting.”  He said bitterly.  “Detention for you, and the rest of your house mates here . . . and fifty
points from each of you for such a demeaning and childish act.”

Harry blinked.  Had Snape actually taken points from Slytherin?  He couldn’t believe it.  The next surprise came not a moment
later, as Professor Snape turned and looked directly at him.

“Mr. Potter . . . be so kind as to go after your partner . . . unless you’d rather I fail you both for this assignment.”

Harry jumped to his feet and left the room, feeling almost grateful to Snape.  Sure the man had threatened him, but he had also
given Harry the opportunity to do what he wanted to do . . . to go after Draco and see if he was doing okay.

It didn’t take all that long for Harry to find Draco.  He hadn’t made it more than a few yards and around a corner before he
heard crying and followed the sound to the closed door of an empty classroom.  He opened the door and walked in without
knocking, then looked around, only to find Draco sitting in a corner with his face buried in his knees, his body shaking from
his choked sobs.

“Draco . . .”  He closed the door behind himself, cautiously stepping toward the shaken young man.

“I kn-knew that they’d h-hate me.”  Draco cried, his voice muffled slightly.  “Th-they never liked me to begin with.  They only
pretended b-because my father was a Death Eater . . . one of Voldemort’s most trusted . . . now they don’t have to pretend

Draco’s heartbroken voice only drew Harry forward.  “Don’t upset yourself too much, Draco . . . you get used to it after a

That only seemed to make Draco cry harder.  “But you shouldn’t HAVE to get used to it, no one should!  It only makes
matters worse when I realize that, before this happened, I would have been the one throwing slurs.  I was just like that!”

Harry shook his head, but he knew that he couldn’t deny Draco’s claim.  It was the truth, even though Draco wasn’t like that
anymore.  All he could do was try to soothe Draco’s pain, to help him in some way.  So Harry sat down on the floor beside
Draco, feeling a bit awkward as he curled his arm around the blonde’s shoulders.

Draco turned in the light embrace, all but throwing himself into Harry’s arms.  He clung close, maneuvering himself somewhat
so that he sat across Harry’s lap, his face buried against Harry’s chest as he continued to weep.  Harry closed his eyes, a small
smile playing across his features as he held the former Slytherin close, doing whatever was necessary to help him.

“It’s okay, Draco.”  Harry hushed, running his hands along Draco’s back, sometimes brushing through his hair in an effort to
calm him.  “They’re only words . . . it doesn’t matter what they think of you.”

“It . . . It still hurts.”  Draco whimpered, curling closer.  “I don’t want it to hurt anymore.”

Before Harry could formulate a response, he gasped, feeling as a pair of chill hands wormed their way beneath his robes and
brushed against his stomach.  The fingers were soft, delicate, yet insistent . . . stroking slowly over Harry’s skin tenderly.  
Warm, moist lips pressed against his chin, slowly trailing up until they grazed across Harry’s lips.

“Draco . . . stop.”  Harry whispered, holding back a groan as Draco’s hands steadily moved upward.

Draco ignored him though, changing his position so that he straddled Harry’s thighs.  “Harry . . . please make it stop.  Please
make the pain stop.”  Draco pleaded in a breathless voice, pressing his body close even as he let his tongue glide across Harry’s

Harry allowed himself one moment to savor the taste of that sweet tongue . . . but knew that he couldn’t let Draco do this.  He
wouldn’t use the blonde, or let himself be used.  No, it wouldn’t help Draco any if he just covered up his pain for a few fleeting
moments of pleasure.

So Harry grasped Draco’s arms and pulled them out of his robes, stopping those talented fingers from touching him in such a
pleasing manner.  He had to stop Draco and he had to do it now before he lost control of himself.  Wrapping his arms around
Draco’s body, he pinned the youth’s arms to his sides and held him close, pressing a chaste kiss to his temple.

“Draco, don’t do this.”  Harry urged, trying to reason with the other youth even as he heard a fearful whimper.  “It won’t help
you . . . true the pain will go away for a time, but it will only come back at you tenfold.”

“Y-You don’t want me?”  Draco asked, his voice full of hurt.

Harry tightened his embrace a little, laying his cheek against Draco’s head.  “Honestly, I do want you quite a lot . . . I just
would rather you feel something for me.  I don’t want to be used just to give you a few moments of fleeting happiness.”

Draco pulled away, his eyes full of sorrow.  “I didn’t mean . . . I’m sorry, Harry!”  He exclaimed, wriggling his arms out of
the confines of Harry’s hold.  He threw them around Harry’s body, sinking against him.

Harry smiled, stroking the back of Draco’s head with one hand.  “Maybe when you’re ready, really ready, we can continue.  I’
m flattered you would even consider doing this with me, especially after what you went through with Voldemort . . . but I don’
t want an empty fling.”  Harry sighed.  “You’re my friend, hopefully more . . . but I don’t want you to push yourself.  If you
ever really want me, not just for a quick fuck, then I’d be thrilled to continue what you started today.  Just be sure you truly do
want to be with me.  I don’t want you doing anything before you’re ready.”

Draco nodded against Harry’s chest.  “I understand.”  He whispered.  “Thank you, Harry.”

“You’re quite welcome.”  Harry replied.  “Come on, I think we should get back to class . . . Snape wasn’t all that happy when
you ran out.”

Draco sighed.  “Can we just stay here a little longer?  I-I kind of like it here.”  He said, snuggling closer to Harry.

“Of course.”  Harry answered with a smile on his face.  He didn’t mind being like this so much either, and he wasn’t about to
object.  “You take all the time you need.”

If Draco needed to sit here and collect himself, then Harry would be more than happy to oblige him.  He only wanted Draco to
get better, that was all he had ever wanted . . . he loved him, he realized.  It hadn’t been a sudden thing, not really.  Ever since
Harry had helped him that first day, when he had cleaned those wounds and spoken with him . . . Harry didn’t know exactly
when it had happened, not really.  But he did know . . . he loved Draco Malfoy and never wanted anything harmful to ever
happen to him.

To Be Continued . . .