Great. Just great. Of all the things that could possibly make his day.
Harry glanced warily up at Draco Malfoy, who had entered the library wearing a cocky, smug little grin (what the hell was he on about, anyway? Had Snape let him lick his boots after class again?) and carrying a load of thick, ominous-looking textbooks. He slammed them down too noisily on the table nearest Harry, causing everyone in the room to start in fright, and sat down in his chair with the air of a prince condescending to sit among the plebeians.
Harry glared at him for just a moment longer, then returned to his book, turning away in the armchair where he sat, feeling a frown coming on. Lately he couldn’t go anywhere without Malfoy being there. What, did the guy have his own private Marauders’ Map labelled with his name on it so he could always manage to be exactly where Harry was whenever Harry least wanted to see him?
Not, of course, that Harry ever wanted to see the smugcoldheartedgitfacedcockyarsedbastard.
He blinked. He had read exactly four words in the last quarter hour. Stupid Slytherins.
A noise beside him made him look up. His stomach turned over in revulsion. Malfoy was standing not three feet away in the library stacks, his nose near one of the books on the shelves. He was peering at it with keen interest.
Too keen, Harry thought viciously, narrowing his eyes and glaring. He glared until Malfoy looked over and eyed him coldly, at which point Harry was satisfied and stuck his nose back in his book with a slight huff. He turned around again in his chair, pointedly facing the opposite direction from Malfoy.
A few seconds later, he heard whistling from behind him.
It was a really damn annoying whistle. The low-decibel, breathy kind. Harry heard it because he was right next to it, but he doubted anyone else did. Damn him. Only Malfoy would have the audacity to whistle in the library. Of course he was doing it just to annoy Harry. Stupid Slytherin! Couldn’t he leave him alone ever?
And it was one of those really complicated melodies too. Listening a little closer, Harry realized it was some Bach toccata like he’d only heard played in church by an organist who apparently had six hands for all the notes he managed to produce.
Leave it to Malfoy to simulate an organ all by himself.
Just by using his mouth.
Cheeks suddenly hot, Harry turned around to hiss fiercely at Malfoy to shut the hell up.
He was most disconcerted when Malfoy, who was leaning against the shelf with his legs crossed and his nose in the book, looked up, said, “Oh, sorry,” and did exactly that.
Harry blinked at him for a moment and then went back to his own book.
He stared at the page for a second before he realized it was a page behind where he’d been. It took him another minute or so to recall exactly where that was.
He looked back over his shoulder, just to make sure Malfoy knew not to whistle around him again.
Draco had returned to his seat over at the table and was sitting down, still buried in the book he was reading.
It was very hot in the library. Harry fidgeted. His armchair was hot too. It was a very hard-backed armchair, not at all like the comfy ones of the Gryffindor tower. Nor was it like the cozy-looking chairs over in the corner. Or the ones around the long tables in the center of the room, like the one Malfoy sat at now. He had a nice swivel chair with a back that could bend way back, and every now and then he would casually move it from side to side a couple of times, lean far back, and stretch his long arms and legs way out with a casual yawn. Then he would wriggle down into the seat, roll his shoulders, and turn the page.
Harry watched this pattern about three or four times. Then he discovered that he had been reading the same sentence over again, an equal number of times.
He decided his arse was killing him.
Getting up, he stretched with a noisy yawn that brought glares from Ernie Macmillan, the only person still left in the room besides Harry and Malfoy.
Harry ‘hmphed’ to himself.
“Hey, Ernie,” he called across the room.
“Yeah?” Ernie muttered, obviously not happy at having been interrupted yet again.
“Did you get the word that Hannah Abbot wanted to talk to you? I thought I heard her mention it earlier.”
Ernie and Hannah had been having a long-standing mutual unrequited love angst thing for years. Neither of them could believe the other one liked them so they followed each other around and mooned over the other like puppies, but no more than that, ever. It was the subject of much ridicule and hat-passing.
“I think she told Terry she’d be studying in the Hufflepuff common room. That’s probably where she’ll be.”
“Oh.” Ernie hesitated. “Uh… thanks, Harry.”
Harry gathered his books and crossed the room to the other side of the library stacks, passing Malfoy, who was reading and did not even have the decency to look up. He flopped down in a chair by the fireplace that was just as stiff and uncomfortable as the one he left. He sat down, craned his neck around to look at Ernie’s retreating figure, and then remembered that he’d left his favourite pencil across the room. He got up again to get it.
After all, it was his favourite pencil.
“You’re welcome,” he called out, striding by Malfoy’s table again, making sure to speak considerably louder than absolutely necessary, right as he passed the studying Slytherin.
Was he studying after all?
Harry picked up his pencil, dropped it from a sweaty palm, and bent to retrieve it. His fingers knocked it across the floor a little ways, and it rolled towards Malfoy. Harry bent again, and this time he cast a glance up at the book Malfoy was reading.
The pencil fell out of his hand and stayed there.
Right on cue, Malfoy turned his head to look at Harry. Harry swallowed, and looked from the book, to Malfoy. Malfoy did not look away. Instead he pushed back his chair a little and crossed his legs. Harry looked from Malfoy, to Malfoy’s legs, and back again.
Malfoy spoke. He said, “Don’t you think I know that Hannah Abbot is in the Great Hall right now at a YIP meeting?”
Harry blinked. Ah, yes. Young Pagans. Of course, he had only said that he thought he’d heard otherwise.
And why was Malfoy reading How to Be a Happy Homosexual?
“Yes?” Harry realized he was still kneeling on the floor next to his favourite pencil but somewhere in between the legs and the stretching and the happy homosexuals and the Malfoy he had forgotten how to move.
“Why are you reading Pride and Prejudice?”
Harry pushed himself to his feet.
Much to his horror, so did Draco.
Draco! placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder. Harry promptly ran into a bookshelf and killed the same shoulder in his ill-advised attempt to back away. It was an ill-advised attempt because Draco! came closer.
Harry had to swallow before he could speak, and by the time he had gotten a chance to reply, Draco! was already talking again. Stupid Slytherin. He had no concept of the words “personal space” apparently, for he was bent on encroaching on Harry’s.
“In vain I have struggled,” said Draco.
Harry blinked. “What?”
“I said, ‘in vain have I struggled.’ It’s a quote from the book.” Draco frowned. He looked a bit miffed that Harry did not recognize it.
More softly than he intended, Harry apologized, “I haven’t read that far yet.”
Draco looked at him. “It doesn’t matter,” he said gently. He had very… very silvery eyes, Harry thought. Nice and shiny. Were they always that shiny? He was not sure. Perhaps by looking into them more often he would figure it out. Yes, that would work.
“I take it you have read it?”
“Yeah. The good parts.”
“What are the good parts?”
“The part where Darcy and Wickham snog.”
Harry thought about this for a moment and then blinked again.
Draco held up the pencil he had left lying on the floor. “You dropped this,” he said, and he reached up and tucked the pencil behind Harry’s left ear. “There now.” His hand brushed the strands of Harry’s hair and then rested again on Harry’s shoulder. “Couldn’t have you losing your favourite pencil.”
Harry managed to speak this time without having to swallow first. “No,” he said.
Surely, such courtesy deserved to be thanked.
Harry liked the softness of Draco’s hair. He liked the touch of Draco’s fingertips on his skin, and he also liked the heat of his breath against his mouth.
He did not like the way Draco practically dragged him to the back of the Restricted Section—but this was only afterwards when he realized that he had been Manhandled, because for some reason at the time he had not noticed it at all. Clearly he would have to make sure Draco understood he could not get away with that again. If anyone was going to Manhandle, it would be Harry, of course.