Harry Potter had always been a part of Draco Malfoy’s life, long before the two had ever met.
When Draco was still a young child, he had been infatuated with the stories about the Boy Who Lived. He knew that they were the same age, and for the longest time, he had wanted nothing more than to grow up and become the closest of friends with this hero. He would spend hours telling his mother and tutors all about how the two of them would become the best of friends once they started at Hogwarts. It was his favorite past time.
Unfortunately, Lucius Malfoy did not approve of his son’s wishes to become close to the one responsible for the downfall of the Dark Lord, and he made this excruciatingly clear to his son. Draco did not bring up Harry Potter again for a very long time.
In fact, despite fleeting thoughts every now and then, Draco did not mention Harry Potter out loud at all until shortly before he left for his first year at Hogwarts. He hadn’t even been the one to bring him up, and he wouldn’t have dared to after his father’s clear aversion the last time he had. But this time his father brought him up. Lucius informed his son that Harry Potter would be attending Hogwarts for his first year in the same class as him, and that they were to become close by any means necessary.
Draco was understandably confused by the change of heart from his father, until he realized it was merely for his own personal gain. Still, he was excited to have the opportunity to befriend his hero.
Of course he had to go and screw it all up.
It was his fault, it was. He’d never admit it of course, that’s not what Malfoys do. They never own up to their mistakes. They blame them on someone else. That’s what his father had… that’s what he’d taught him. Blame those who aren’t as good as you. That was his life lesson. So Draco blamed the Weasley and the Mudblood. It’s what his father would have done.
His father also would have told him to never show weakness. And it hurt, it hurt like hell when it happened. To be rejected by someone he idolized for so long so quickly. Of course he saw why. Harry was nice and curious and understanding. Draco… was not. He had too much of his father in him. They would never be friends. But he had to get past that. He had to keep up appearances. If he and Potter were to be enemies, then enemies they would be.
That first year of school, well. It was childish. No real harm really came to anyone, he supposed. Just two schoolboys who hated each other. Not uncommon. It happened. They were different enough that no one really batted an eye. Opposing houses of course. Competition in class. Cruel names hurled every now and then in the hallways. He thought he did well. Even if he didn’t like it.
The second year was… well. It was more.
When Lucius found out his son’s attempt at befriending Potter had failed, he was determined to ensure that if they wouldn’t be friends, then they would be bitter rivals, and that his son would always be better. (Draco doubted this was because he actually cared for Draco, but he never mentioned that out loud.)
Harry had been recruited as Gryffindor’s seeker as a first year. Lucius wanted Draco as Slytherin’s seeker. Draco, of course, knew that was ridiculous. There were plenty of other Slytherins who would make a much better seeker than he would. That didn’t seem to matter to his father, though. No, instead he purchased new brooms for the entire Slytherin team and with them, his son’s position as seeker.
Of course there had been other… differences between them that year. After a certain run in with Potter and his friends, he really managed to up his act and further convince his friends how much he hated him.
He even almost managed to convince himself.
Year three. Another summer of lectures about how he still wasn’t better than Potter. As if he didn’t already know that. But he kept trying. He kept trying. He was determined. So determined to prove he was better at something. Of course, he was an idiot and decided that the best way to do that was with a dangerous creature.
His father of course told him ways he was to manipulate people thanks to his injury. He didn’t like it. At all. But he did it. Postponed the Quidditch match (well, it’s not like he was going to beat Potter anyways). Nearly got the big oaf fired (he hated how upset it made everyone, but he couldn’t let them know that). Got punched in the face by Granger (he totally deserved that, not that he’d ever admit it out loud, because then his father would know).
All in all, another terrible year.
Their fourth year. The Tri-Wizard Tournament. He should have been surprised when Potter’s name got drawn. Everyone should have been surprised. And yet… everyone was surprisingly unsurprised.
And Draco once again got an earful from his father. ‘Potter got picked and you didn’t,’ or ‘I don’t care if you aren’t of age, Potter found a way and you should have too,’ and the best one, ‘well clearly you just aren’t good enough, but you’ll do damn well to make sure he knows that he’s not either.’
And the pins were born.
Why did everyone love the pins?
Draco hated the pins.
Potter pretended that the pins didn’t bother him, but he knew that they did.
When that slimy journalist from the Prophet showed up, looking for dirt, he didn’t want to give it to her. Not by a long shot. But, if his father found out… no, when his father found out, there would be hell to pay. So he did what he had to do, but he didn’t like it.
There were still the pokes and prods from his father throughout the year to try and tear potter down, but after the ferret incident… well. He didn’t want to risk too much after that. He thought it was understandable.
Though, at the end of that tournament, when Potter appeared with Diggory’s body, claiming You-Know-Who had returned. Well. He believed him when his classmates did not. He believed him long before his father confirmed that it was true.
He wished it weren’t.
Year number five. That one had been eventful. He had become a prefect. He’s still not totally convinced that his father had nothing to do with that. He was confused as to why his father forced him to join that… disgusting woman, but when he realized her vendetta against Potter, well. It made it more understandable. And it also made it easier for him to hide the fact that his animosity towards Potter was significantly less than it should have been. He just needed to follow Umbridge’s orders. Be the best of her soldiers that he could. That was something he could do.
And he did.
And after the attacks on the ministry? When his father and other Death Eaters were captured? He certainly played the part of the embarrassed, upset son. Though he was secretly relieved. Maybe… just maybe with his father gone, he could stop doing all of these things that he was so against?
It didn’t work.
Year six. God year six. He wishes he could just block the whole year out. He wishes.
His respite from his father hadn’t lasted long. For not too long after the arrest of Lucius Malfoy, he had received orders from the Dark Lord himself. And he had been branded with that hideous mark on his arm.
He’d spent much of that year thinking, why me? But it would do no good to wonder. He hated his father. But he loved his mother. And he didn’t want to die. So he did what he was told. He was weak and he did what he was told and he hated it. And at one point he broke.
That was when Potter found him, of course. And for a little while all he knew was pain. He realized afterwards that Potter hadn’t meant it. Not to do that. And Draco forgave him. Though, he almost didn’t forgive Snape for healing him. He would have loved for it to have all been over then. Anything to get out of completing the task he was assigned to complete.
But he did. Or at least, he did most of it.
He finished repairing the stupid vanishing cabinet. He let in the Death Eaters. He let them into Hogwarts where they attacked and destroyed, and led him up to where he would have to kill Dumbledore. And he wanted to. Well, not exactly. He didn’t want to kill him. He didn’t want to kill anyone. But he wanted to protect his family. No one could know he was weak. No one. But he couldn’t do it.
Snape could and he did and he dragged him into the night. And Draco hated himself. He hated what he had done. He had been forced to grow up so fast over that one year, no more of his petty arguments with Potter as demanded by his father. He was alright with that part. He’d never liked those. Besides, Potter always had enough to deal with without Draco’s interference. But that year… That year Draco understood. And he pitied Potter. He did.
He also had the uncomfortable feeling that Potter pitied him as well.
Year seven? Year seven wasn’t really a school year, was it? He was practically a prisoner in his own home. He hated it. Not that he didn’t hate it there anyways, but the presence of… of Lord Voldemort there just made it all the worse. He didn’t think his future could look anymore grim, until Voldemort practically made him his slave.
It was funny though, how in this first year away from Potter, he spent all of his time thinking about him.
Most of his school career had revolved around tormenting the boy. Draco had always felt bad for it. He still remembered his dreams of befriending his childhood hero. Of course, perhaps looking back, it was maybe a little more than that. And that had only grown over the years of school. After that initial rejection of friendship, he had certainly put his best effort into seeming like he hated him. And he’d always managed to fool everyone.
Everyone but himself.
He always hated, yes, but not hated Potter. Hated what he did to Potter. He had had enough to deal with every year without the added headache that was Draco Malfoy. Particularly now.
How had he let it get so bad? He hated it. He hated all of it. And yet, he hadn’t had a choice. Not in his mind. He’d always done what he had to do.
He soon realized, however, that this wasn’t completely true.
When Potter and his friends arrived at the manor, ill and disfigured looking, he of course immediately recognizes them. Of course he does. Especially Potter. How could he not?
So when he is asked to identify them, just to be sure. Well. He does what he has to do.
And he helps them get away.
Not directly. He’s not that stupid. But he said he didn’t recognize him, and he allowed Potter to escape with his wand without much fight. It doesn’t go without punishment, but it was worth it.
The Battle of Hogwarts is one he prefers not to remember. He never wanted Potter killed, yet he couldn’t look as though he was disobeying. He couldn’t. Unfortunately, that lost him someone he called a friend. Well. Sort of.
He also had some not so proud moments at the battle. He’s not necessarily ashamed of that. It was terrifying. But still. He’s not going to go around telling anyone about them.
When he sees Potter’s body carried in… his heart breaks a little, and he refuses to think about why. Though his tears for Potter were hard to hold back, they became immensely easier when he was forced into the most uncomfortable embrace of his life.
Then suddenly Potter was up and the Death Eaters, he and his family included, were fleeing. They never saw what happened. But they heard about it. That was enough.
Potter was a hero. Just like when he first became fascinated with him in his childhood. He was not surprised.
He couldn’t say they ever became friends. Although Draco had never hated Potter, never even a little, he had no doubt that Potter hated him. And he was alright with that. They both moved on. Not friends, no, but friendly. They’d see each other, every now and then. Exchange a wave, a hello. That was it. Potter was happy. He and his friends. They deserved that. They’d saved the world.
Draco was… well. He was content. It was more than he deserved. And he would take it, not that he had a choice. After all, that’s always what he did in life. What he had to do.