Harry shut the book he was reading with a frustrating sight and glanced at his pocket watch. 2:34 a.m. He groaned and leaned back into the couch he was sitting on. He was in the eight-year common room. Once again, his sleep had been hunted by nightmares, and he was trying to get his mind off it by reading a book. He's done this before. Coming to the common room in the middle of the night and trying to calm his buzzing thoughts. Most of the time it worked, and he'd be drifting back to sleep after a while. He would have a sore back the next morning, but he didn't care. The few hours of sleep he could get were worth it since they had become quite rare. But apparently, today wasn’t one of those days. He’s had a particularly nasty dream. People coming back to life, talking to him and blaming him for their deaths. Fred, Sirius, Remus, Tonks, his Mom and Dad, they all had been there. They all had stood there calling him names, telling him what a horrible and selfish person he was and how he would have deserved to stay dead. Even though Harry knew they’d never say or think that he couldn’t help himself but to agree.
He was about to go down another spiral of self-hatred when he heard one of the dormitory dorms open with a silent crack. A normal person probably would have missed it, but Harry has never been normal and living through a war and being on the run for months doesn’t exactly make you have poor hearing. Though the war had been over for almost half a year now, his consciousness still hadn't quite grasped the concept. He always kept his wand hidden under his sleeves or had it at his fingertips, and he still felt a bit nervous and fidgety when he was moving through larger open areas, wand at the ready in fear of being attacked.
He glanced towards the stairs that led down to the common room. Whoever came down wouldn’t be able to spot him immediately. He wasn’t exactly trying to hide, but he was positioned in a way that wasn’t in your direct point of view. He stiffened a bit when he caught sight of the mop of blond hair that was making its way downstairs. Even though it's been months, he still wasn’t quite used to sharing the dormitory with the other houses. There weren’t that many people that decided to come back for eight-year. There was a handful of each house, and one of them just happened to be Draco Malfoy. Part of Harry was happy when he first heard that the blond would be returning to Hogwarts alongside him. He hadn’t hoped for any sort of friendship to magically bloom between them, so he wasn’t surprised when it didn’t. They had shared a few words occasionally during class or at dinner, but otherwise, they were mostly keeping to themselves.
Draco had grown rather quiet after the war, and he looked even paler than he used to. He seemed thinner as well. School uniforms that had once so gracefully framed his slender and elegant body seemed like they wanted to swallow and drown him. Harry had seen him on several occasions with bloodshot eyes. It was by accident though, and he doesn’t think Draco had noticed him watching. He watched Draco quite frequently. Who was he kidding, observing the Slytherin once again had become part of his life. Not that he thought that the boy was up to anything. Old habits die hard, he supposed. His constant observations led him to notice that Draco was on edge all the time. When he moved through the corridors, he tended to walk close to walls and keep his head down low, almost like he was trying to make himself invisible. He, like Harry, carried his wand with him everywhere, and he looked ready to defend himself at any moment. At some point, Harry had started to call Draco by his given name. Never out loud, only in his head. Harry didn’t quite understand why he did so, but he was too exhausted to analyse everything his brain decided to do.
Draco halted in his step when his eyes spotted Harry. He looked exhausted and had a look in his eyes that was all too familiar. It was the look that stared at Harry every time he went to splash some water on his face after he had woken up from a nightmare and looked at his reflection in the mirror. It was fresh and raw, and he thought he could see Draco trying to hide it. It looked like the blond was going to turn around and go back upstairs. Not knowing exactly why, Harry did something unexpected. His rational mind certainly wouldn’t have, but he was tired, and he didn’t think much anyway. He opened his mouth before he could change his mind. “You can come and sit with me, you know. I'm not going to bite your head off.” Draco took in a sharp breath and after some hesitation slowly moved over to the sofa and sat down next to Harry. His body was tense, and he looked everywhere but at him. Harry didn’t know why he had told Draco to come to sit with him, but it just seemed like the right thing to do.
Out of the corner of his eyes, Harry saw a shiver running through Draco. It wasn’t freezing in the common room, and since he was wearing one of Mrs Weasley's sweaters, he didn’t feel cold. Therefore, he hadn’t deemed it necessary to light a fire. Looking at Draco though, he thought it was understandable as to why he would feel cold. His nightgown was made from thin, expensive-looking fabric, and considering how thin the boy was….
Without much thought, Harry conjured a thick blanked and but it over Draco and himself. The blond was giving him a bewildered look. Harry simply shrugged his shoulders, "You looked cold, so either take it or freeze.” After a moment of hesitation, he drew the blanket closer and wrapped himself in it. The tension seemed to leave his body, and he let out a sigh of content. He looked at Harry, a small smile playing at his lips. “Thank you,” he said barely audible. Harry smiled back at him and nodded. After a moment he spoke, “So, you have them too?” Draco looked at him confused.
Harry could see Draco’s body going stiff again. The blond looked caught off guard, and an uncomfortable silence spread between them. Harry was just about to tell him to forget he asked when Draco spoke, “Yes.” He didn’t look at Harry, too embarrassed to do so. A few minutes passed as they sat in silence. Harry looked at him with narrowed eyes. “You know,” he said, “it’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Draco stared at him with piercing eyes and gritted out between his teeth, “Nothing to be ashamed of? You must be joking. It’s pathetic, really. They’re stupid. Your nothing but week if you let them get the better of you.” He let out a frustrated laugh.
Harry frowned. He knew that Draco must have gone through hell during the months he spent at Malfoy Manor when the war was in full swing. Not to mention the number of crazy relatives he had to struggle with. When they saw each other at the manor, Draco had looked like shit. Sur, his appearance was nothing but flawless, but it was his eyes that got Harry’s attention. When they had looked at each other, they had looked dull and lifeless.
“Who told you that?” Harry asked him, frown deepening when Draco shook his head in disbelieve. “Honestly Potter, use your brain for once. I lived with death eaters for over a year. Do you think they take kindly to that type of thing? Fears are something they taunt you with. It's nothing you should let anybody know unless you want them to use it to make your life hell."
Harry studied Draco sceptically. The trauma he experienced was eating away at him, and if he didn't talk about it, he would end up seriously hurting himself. Harry hesitated before speaking, "You know, I think it would do you good if you talked about it with someone. Otherwise, it's going to kill you." Draco let out a snort and looked at him shaking his head. "Did you not listen to what I've just said? Besides, I don't need to hear that from somebody who clearly can't take his own advice." Harry looked away defensively. "That's not the same! And stop trying to distract from the problem!" “What problem?! What I decide to do is clearly none of your concern. And as far as I am aware, you never told anyone about your nightmares either!” They both glared at each other. Harry didn’t want to argue. He was tired, and he could tell that they both were suffering from sleep-deprivation. Really, he had no idea why he even invited Draco to join him. Part of him had probably thought that since they hadn’t argued in a while, they maybe could get along now. Clearly, he was wrong.
He let out a sigh. “Listen, I don’t want to argue with you. It’s late, and clearly, we are both tired. So, let’s just forget I ever brought it up, okay?” Next to him, Draco mumbled something and turned away from him. “What?” Harry asked. The blond let out a sigh and turned back to look at him. He studied him for a while and then buried himself deeper in his blanked. “It’s just, I don’t understand why you would care. No one ever did…” His voice was quiet and soft. Harry didn’t know how to respond to that, so he just went with the first thing that came to his mind. “I guess that’s just how I am, you know. Harry Potter, the great hero with a saviour complex.” Draco rolled his eyes at him and let out a soft chuckle. It was then that it hit Harry. He had never heard Draco laugh. Sure, he had heard him laugh at people while humiliating them, but this was new. This was a genuine laugh, and Harry thought it was beautiful.
“You know, you should laugh more. It sounds nice.” He had spoken without thinking and turned his head away abruptly. He felt his cheeks grow hot, and his heart started beating faster. Why did he say that?! And why was he feeling embarrassed?! This doesn’t make any sense! He could hear Draco let out another snort. “You’re a weird one, Potter,” he muttered. They fell into silence, the only sound coming from their breathing. After a while, Harry cleared his throat. “But for real Draco, everyone deserves someone to care for them.” He did realize his slip up, but he also found that he truly didn’t care. He didn’t survive a war to feel anxious about using somebody’s name. Besides, they were having a civil conversation, so it couldn't be that bad.
Draco raised an eyebrow at the use of his name but gave him a small smile anyway. “Thanks, I guess,” he said. “But I’m afraid that you are one of the only people thinking that.” There was no point in arguing that. Harry knew that a lot of people still gave him filthy glares, and if it wasn’t for the promise of immediate expulsion, he was sure some would gladly hex him into oblivion. And outside Hogwarts, the ministry was still tracking down death eaters that managed to flee and went into hiding. Voldemort might be dead, but that didn’t mean his followers magically disappeared. Aurors where arresting escapees day after day, but they still had a long way ahead of them. According to The Daily Prophet, they were working on ridding Wizarding Britain of all traces of dark magic, which meant that the black marked had to be tracked down. And from what it seemed like, they were discovering so many different traces that they barely could keep up. In short, Harry was sure that the Auror Department wouldn’t be getting a lot of sleep in the coming months.
Harry brushed his hand through his hair and let out a sigh. “I am afraid you are right. But if you think that I will just stand by when people will start to make your life hell, I am afraid you are wrong.” Draco rolled his eyes again. He seemed to do that a lot. “How silly of me to expect the saviour to keep out of other people’s business.” Draco yawned, and Harry felt himself getting tired too. With a ruck, he got to his feet and looked at Draco. “I think I am going back to bed. Are you coming to?” Draco shook his head, “No, I think I’ll stay.” After a moment, Harry turned to leave, when suddenly he felt slender fingers wrapping around his wrist. He looked at Draco in surprise. The other seemed a bit flustered and cleared his throat. “Thank you, you know, for talking to me...” Harry smiled and nodded at him. He took his hand in his own and briefly squeezed it.