Title: Children of the Sun
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairing: Gen, Harry and Draco friendship
Warnings: AU, slight angst
Summary: AU. In a world where wizards and witches can sense each other's familiars but no one else can, Harry's impressive familiar makes an eleven-year-old Draco Malfoy take more notice of him.
Author's Notes: This is another of my Wednesday one-shots, based on an anonymous prompt: Harry/Draco preslash: AU where witches and wizards have familiars that are only visible to one another, and not Muggles. Harry's familiar is impressive and impossible to hide. Because of this, when Draco meets him for the first time in Madam Malkin's, he is much more observant. This by itself isn't pre-slash, since I think that would require a full novel. But I might easily write more to follow this story.
Children of the Sun
When the door to Madam Malkin's opened, Draco turned around with lazy indifference. The chances that it would be someone interesting were low. He had to admit that despite the excitement of getting his wand, it had so far seemed like an ordinary day in Diagon Alley. He almost thought he would meet himself when he was seven or ten around a corner any second.
Above him, his familiar, Kali, stretched her head and yawned in agreement. She was a glittering silver miniature dragon, and she had to sit on a rafter in the shop while Madam Malkin fitted Draco for robes, instead of his shoulder, which she preferred. She was even less impressed by today than he was.
But then a glow crept along the edge of the stool. He frowned and turned.
A boy had stepped into the shop. He had messy black hair and wrists so thin Draco thought Goyle could break them without trying. Nothing very impressive. Probably half-blood at most, Draco thought.
But the glow came from behind him. And when he moved, Draco could see that his familiar was an enormous golden snake, thick-bodied and heavy—a constrictor, not a venomous snake, Draco thought, a little dazed—with metallic scales etched with runes. Wild runes, Draco thought at a glance, nothing he recognized. Runes of instinctive protection and defense. This boy had had to defend himself a lot, and his familiar had helped him.
Kali had snapped to attention on her rafter. Draco knew he was staring. Mother would probably say he was rude, but he couldn't help himself. He was proud of himself for having a silver familiar, and even prouder that both his parents did, too.
He had never even seen someone with a golden familiar. It made him ache and want to get closer to the boy, all at once.
The boy just gave Draco a cautious glance and then didn't look at him again, as if he thought that walking into the shop was intimidating or something. He turned to Madam Malkin instead—and her owl familiar was barely tin, it was an insult, honestly—and said, "I need a set of school robes, please."
"Of course, dear." Madam Malkin's voice was hushed, and she was helping the new boy up onto the stool, ignoring Draco. Draco couldn't even blame her. His father had told him what to do if he ever met someone with the highest hierarchy of familiar—other than Dumbledore, who everyone knew had a golden phoenix—and a shopkeeper had to be overwhelmed. Her owl cooed and fluttered up on the rafters, and ignored Kali when she hissed at him.
Draco kept watching the boy, not daring to introduce himself yet. The boy just stood there and looked around and said nothing, though. Draco would have thought that he didn't want to speak to anyone in the shop, but then, he'd talked to Madam Malkin.
And the expression on his face was strange if that was what was really going on. He looked as though he was frightened.
The golden snake curled around the bottom of the boy's stool. He was watching Draco. Draco met his eyes—blazing green, as though they were emeralds set in a snake that was made of real gold—and bowed.
"It's so strange being around people who can see Golden."
Draco jumped, and looked at the boy, who was considering him with bright eyes of his own. Eyes almost the green color of his snake's. Draco felt a small shiver travel up his spine. It was a rare and powerful witch or wizard who had eyes the color of their familiar's. Kali had blue eyes to Draco's grey. It was close enough to be proud of.
Now, Draco felt as though someone was pressing down on him.
"You've lived with Muggles?" Draco had to ask, because it was the only thing that made sense with what the boy had said. And yet, Draco had trouble believing it for himself. Who would abandon such a strong boy to Muggles? Who would decide that he wasn't worth protecting, guiding, bringing up?
Draco had heard of children being given to Muggles, but they were always Squibs, who had no familiars and had to make do with unbonded animals. Any wizard ought to have been able to see this boy's snake.
"Yes," said the boy. He shrugged a little because Madam Malkin pricked him with a pin, but shook his head when she apologized. "No, it's fine, I was the one who moved." He studied Draco with hopeful eyes. "I didn't know I was a wizard until today. It's so strange. I've always had Golden with me, but I never met anyone else who had a familiar like him. And then I come to Diagon Alley and everyone is walking around with one!" He looked around the shop. "Where's yours?"
Draco struggled to breathe. Mother and Father had never taught him how to behave around someone like this. Someone who didn't know that he had a golden familiar, just thought it was a golden snake…that was what Draco was picking up.
But Draco knew what he had to do, and not just because the boy was interesting. He held up a hand and said, "Her name's Kali."
Kali winged down and sat on his fist on cue. The boy gaped, then laughed. "She's beautiful! She's named after a goddess, isn't she?"
No sign of contempt because Draco had a silver familiar. Of course, Draco had never thought a silver familiar was contemptible, but he knew the way the hierarchy was supposed to work. He nodded with a little smile. "Yes. My name's Draco Malfoy. What's your name?"
Draco stood there and felt as if the shop was falling down around him. Really? Really? Harry Potter—it might make sense that he had a golden familiar, but it didn't make sense that he'd grown up with Muggles, and he didn't know how powerful he was, and he acted like he just wanted to make friends and didn't know it was unusual—really?
"Are you all right?" Potter was peering at Draco, and he'd grabbed the side of his robe. "Did I say something wrong? I'm sorry. I just don't know everything about this place yet. And my aunt always says I'm rude."
These Muggles have no idea how to treat a wizard. Draco lifted his head instead and nodded. "You're fine." He put Kali on his shoulder, since Madam Malkin didn't act like she was going to come poke around him for a while. "Why is your snake called Golden?"
It was a slightly rude question, but he thought he could get away with it, when Potter was so strange. And sure enough, Potter just smiled, although he was also blushing. "Because I named him when I was really young and that was the only thing I could think of."
Golden raised his head and eyed Draco. Draco found it hard to read a snake's expressions—even though Kali was a dragon, she had her wings and her neck and her tail to express emotion—but he thought he was being judged.
Golden put his head down again a second later.
"Why did you grow up with Muggles?" Draco demanded, the question he thought was most pressing. If he went back to Father without asking it, Father would certainly ask why, and the thought of his voice made Draco wince.
"Because my parents died and they were the only relatives I had left." Potter stared around the shop again as though everything was amazing, even Madam Malkin's tin owl fluttering his wings and trying to bow or something from his rafter. "But it's much nicer here. Well, not everyone trying to shake my hand in the Leaky Cauldron. But everyone being able to see Golden is."
He doesn't like his fame? How strange. But that just told Draco how he should act, and it wasn't talking about Potter being the Boy-Who-Lived or even showing him the kind of respect that he would show most children with golden familiars. Draco nodded and said, "Well, you should know that most people have familiars that are the color of tin or copper." He ignored the way Madam Malkin looked at him. She was only doing it because he didn't meet her eyes. All it would take was one hiss from Kali and she would stop. "Some have bronze. A few have silver."
Potter's shoulders hunched. "What about gold?"
Draco paused. He would have to get this right. But he thought he had. He smiled at Potter. "People with gold familiars are the most special of all."
"Oh." Potter didn't look overjoyed at that news, for some reason, the way Draco would have thought he would. In fact, he was staring at his hands in dread, and he didn't even stop when Golden raised his head and gently licked Potter's wrists.
"What is it?" Draco asked.
"I don't want to be special," Potter whispered. "I just want people to think I'm normal. Back at Privet Drive—I mean, at my aunt and uncle's, everyone stares at me because they think I'm crazy or a criminal. And here, they stare at me because of something I don't even remember." He looked up at Draco. "I want a friend, and I can't be friends with people who stare at me all the time."
Draco didn't remember his parents ever telling him something that would let him cope with this. People with golden familiars were supposed to be surrounded by other people from birth. They would teach them about what it meant to have the highest hierarchy of familiars. They would teach them to be respectful and gracious—no one wanted golden people to be rude—but on the other hand, they would also teach them that they weren't exactly like other wizards. They were the right sort. No one was righter.
To be normal? It wasn't something Draco had ever wanted to be himself.
But maybe what Potter needed was someone who could help teach him that. So Draco said, "I'll be your friend."
Potter looked at Draco, and his eyes were narrowed a little distrustfully. "Really? You would? Even though you don't know me?"
"I grew up knowing who you are," Draco began.
"But that's just it!" Potter waved his hands around, and Madam Malkin held her breath but didn't dare to cluck the way she would have with Draco. "I didn't!"
Draco stopped again. He knew things were wrong, but not exactly what was; he would just have to go carefully, he supposed. "Well, I didn't know who you were, as in your personality," he admitted. "I knew you were the Boy-Who-Lived and you lived when the Dark Lord tried to kill you."
Draco winced. "No one says his name aloud," he explained to Potter, who blinked at him.
"Yeah, Hagrid said something about that. But it's just a name."
"It still scares people," Draco said. He would have to go even more slowly than he'd thought. Potter wasn't stupid, but he was so ignorant, especially if he had a half-giant instructing him. "But you're right, I don't know who you really are. So why don't you tell me?"
Potter looked down at Golden, who looked back at him. He blinked and looked up again. Draco tried to stand there and look friendly.
He didn't know if he'd succeeded, even though Kali nuzzled him under the chin. He hadn't ever really had to look friendly around Crabbe and Goyle. They were with him because they were supposed to be. And Draco didn't mind them being that way, because they had copper familiars and it was right and proper that he led them when he had a silver one.
Now, though, he wondered if he could have a better friendship with someone who had a gold one.
"I'm someone who's scared and excited and has a golden snake and wants people to be my friend and call me Harry," said Potter.
Madam Malkin sat back on her heels and gaped at him. But a second later, Draco caught her eye and reminded her of her place, and she turned back to pinning up Potter's robes. Or Harry's robes. If he really wanted a friend, then Draco could do that for him.
"If you want that," Draco said, "then I can help."
"Even though you've heard about me all my life?"
That's why he isn't stupid, Draco thought, and looked at Harry with some respect. He would know if Draco was telling him stories—if only because he could just go and look some things up in books—and he would probably walk away if Draco wasn't a real friend.
"Yes," said Draco. "I don't—people with silver familiars aren't common, either, although not as rare as you." Kali, still eyeing Harry's snake, gave a little hiss, and Draco stroked her wings. "I don't have many friends. Just people who look up to me and want me to lead them. My father told me it was my responsibility."
Harry smiled at him. Draco felt as if he could fall into a different world with that smile. It wasn't something he knew how to handle, just like someone walking into a shop with a golden familiar and willingly talking to him wasn't something he knew how to handle.
"I'd like to be friends," Harry said simply, and put out his hand.
Draco took it. Kali hissed in approval on his shoulder, flapping her tail. Golden did the same thing by Harry's feet, a deep sound that seemed to thrum in Draco's bones and move around to the top of his head.
It was a beginning, Draco knew. Of what, he didn't really know. But he knew Harry Potter was powerful and deserved to have something more than just Muggles who didn't care about him.
And maybe even more than people who looked at him and saw only his golden familiar. Most people Draco knew like that, like Dumbledore, would have been walking around with the sun shining on them from their birth. But Harry needed someone to come get him and give him a little sun.
As for Draco…
I always deserve something more. And now I think I've found it.