CHAPTER I

Draco Malfoy was more confused than he had ever been before in his life. He had awoken after dreaming a horrible nightmare about millions of eyes that were staring at him in hatred and distrust. Nothing unusual about that: everyone could have nightmares. But his father had told him one night long ago, when he was still just a little boy beginning to voice his thoughts into more coherent sentences, that he must never tell anyone besides Lucius about his strange dreams and nightmares. Not even his mother. Especially not mother.

"But momma wouldn't…" Draco remembered he had protested.

"No, Draco" the deep, comforting voice of his father had answered in a low rumble. "Mother must never know about any of your dreams."

"But", Draco pouted, "most are funny. About castle and three friends." He had peered shyly at his father before adding silently "and a pretty lake".

But father had ruffled his hair affectionately and smiled sadly.

"Yes, Draco. I'm sure the lake is very pretty. However, we must never tell anybody and especially not mother. Can you promise me that?"

And Draco had promised. Not that it did him any good now, he thought sullenly as he paced back and forth in a corridor that led to his chambers in Malfoy Manor. He had walked down to the kitchen to drink some warm milk before going back to bed –Merlin forbid! It was not wizardly to do that and certainly not Malfoy-ish, drink warm milk that is – but he knew it would always calm him down and make him drowsy. So, not really anything strange there either if you ignored the fact that it was beneath the dignity of a Malfoy. But it was as he passed father's study that he had head heard voices from inside, behind the slightly ajar door. He knew that it was extremely rude to eavesdrop unless you could profit from it so he tried to pass without making any sound. But as he had heard his name being mentioned he had stopped to listen.

His father and godfather had been sitting in front of the fire, both leaning forward and arguing in low, angry voices. Severus had said forcefully that Lucius needed to tell someone else besides Severus of Draco's peculiar and rather important dreams: they needed to go to Dumbledore. Lucius had argued, just as heatedly, that it was too late to go to Dumbledore and they couldn't be certain about what Draco's dreams really meant. Severus had merely snorted at that and stared at the other man so long that Lucius finally flinched and looked away, head bowed in defeat.

Draco had found that a very good moment to silently sneak away, for even as he was curious, he also knew that the men might sense his presence at any time. And he really didn't want to be around if and when they would realize they had been overheard. For having been a spy, uncle Severus certainly wasn't being very aware of his surroundings. Or, Draco gulped and increased his speed, maybe he knew but somehow wanted Draco to overhear? Whichever it was, neither was a good thing.

So if father had made him promise not to tell anyone besides him, why would he go discussing –dissecting- his dreams with Severus? Draco stopped long enough to give an old wooden statue a good kick. And what was that about Dumbledore? Of all people in the wizarding world: why had Severus proposed Dumbledore, and why had father not sounded surprised? Grumbling about the weirdness of it all, Draco gave up and trudged silently towards his bedchamber. One thing was certain: he wouldn't get any answers stalking around in a corridor. A wiser action would be to sleep now and observe father closely tomorrow.

Draco awoke the next morning to an absolutely way too cheery voice chirping whilst the heavy curtains and drapes were swept aside from the window.

"Good morning, master Draco." The little house-elf Ayeric chirped as she hastily fastened the heavy cloth to the wall.

Said master flung an arm over his face to block out the offending light for a few moments before slowly sitting up in the big and elegant bed. The grey eyes calmly took in the scene before him, trying to accept the fact that it was once again morning. Ayeric bustled around in the room and put Draco's new school-uniform on the dresser before bowing low and disappearing with a muted pop.

Trying to look at least somewhat dignified, Draco sank back against his pillows. The nightmare hadn't returned. But it was his father's fault, no doubt, that the dream about that lake had returned. This time he had been flying above the pearly surface, hurrying towards something in the distance he recognized as home. He had been late for something and was afraid there would be some terrible shouting and perhaps even pranking if he didn't hurry up. But there had been no shouting at all. The three people waiting in the big entrance hall of his home had been anxious, yes, but they hadn't been angry when they had spotted him. Quite the opposite in fact: they had run towards him and embraced him warmly, looking oddly relieved. What they were relieved about Draco couldn't remember. But he rarely remembered much more than feelings or pictures from those dreams anyway.

Draco sighed and slipped out of bed. Those mysterious dream-people might not be angry if he was late. But mother certainly would. Shrugging into his Hogwarts uniform, he berated himself for forgetting that today was the day he would once again be dragged off to that infernal school with its chaos and that… that… bloody Harry Potter. The-boy-who-just-wouldn't-leave-him-alone.

Arriving just in time to the smaller daily dining hall he barely had enough time to sit down in his seat before his mother swept in, scrutinized him for some moments, and nodded coldly.

"Acceptable", Narcissa snipped as she brushed off some imaginary lint from Draco's impeccably black sleeve. "Now, recite the Malfoy and Black code of conduct at Hogwarts."

"Dislike every Gryffindor with a passion. Disobey the traitor Dumbledore's orders in a Slytherin fashion. Promote the words of the Dark Lord and remember that you're a member of two very noble and old pureblood houses, thus acting in the appropriate manner", Draco replied immediately. Narcissa nodded once before turning around to leave.

"Oh, Draco", she paused and called softly over her shoulder.

"Yes, mother?"

"Your initiation to the Dark Lord's cause will be on Halloween. Remember that date, love." Narcissa threw a dazzling smile in the general direction of her son before sweeping elegantly out through the door and across the hallway.

Draco was still glaring angrily at his plate when Lucius entered through the doors leading towards his private potions-lab.

"If you don't eat anything soon, you'll be late for the Hogwarts' Express", Lucius admonished before sitting down opposite of his son.

Draco made no reply except for putting down his knife just a bit too hard on the mahogany table. Lucius raised an eyebrow but nodded in sudden understanding.

"Ah, Cissa has been here then", he said and hesitated for a moment before placing the serving spoon back into the soup-bowl. "Draco?"

"Yes, father?" was the strained reply.

"I want you tell your godfather about your dreams."

Now, that wasn't exactly what Draco had expected and his ice-grey eyes snapped up to lock onto his father's forget-me-not blue-grey eyes. The expression in them was that of a man taking a huge risk, and clinging to the hope it presented with all his might. Now that was something that unnerved Draco quite a bit. He couldn't remember when he had last seen his father being so… un-Malfoy-ish. Well, besides last night, that is.

"May I inquire as to why?" he dared.

"I believe it would be beneficial for you. I cannot be your sole confidant anymore." Lucius reply was immediate and sounded genuine, but he wouldn't meet his sons eyes.

Draco felt himself bristle at that, if only a little. He knew his father only meant what was best for him, but it still stung that he wouldn't be honest.

"All right", he agreed, keeping his voice cool and controlled, as was expected of him.

King's Cross was as busy and noisy as usual. People hollered and bustled, pushing carts everywhere and, occasionally, into each other. Every so often a boy or girl would casually walk up to the wall between platforms nine and ten and lean against it, looking extremely bored. An observant passerby might notice that the youths disappeared curiously, but most were so wrapped up in their own hustle-and-bustle mindset and didn't notice much besides the floor immediately in front of them.

A tall young man with silver blonde hair walked through the crowds of people at a leisurely pace. He had a noble air about him so some people turned to stare curiously at his back, but he always ignored them. The young man stopped at the wall and leaned against it with a huff, clearly annoyed at everybody and everything. He closed his eyes and let his head fall back slightly. The next second he, too, was gone.

Draco boarded the Hogwarts Express feeling distinctly weary and a little bit annoyed. His father had not even wanted to join him on the platform this year. Apparently he was too concerned with what mother would do if she was allowed anywhere near Harry Bloody Potter. Narcissa had always disliked Harry, but had been somewhat restrained in her opinions and actions, as she couldn't bring herself to wish deadly harm on a boy whose greatest crime was something he did not remember. But after last year… Draco sighed. It was as though some switch had been flipped in his mother's head. She suddenly hated Potter with a vengeance. And it was not an annoyed kind of dislike as the once Draco felt for the boy, but pure hatred.

Draco shuffled over to a compartment and opened the door. He did not care if anyone saw him slouching. His father had chosen mother over him today. His last departure to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was his final year and his father ought to have chosen him. Instead Draco felt tossed aside.

"What're ye doing here, ferret-face?" came a snide voice and Draco was snapped out of his dour thoughts. Oh great. Weasley.

"I'm sorry, Weasel", he snapped. "I didn't see you or your cohorts there."

With that he turned to leave, ignoring Weasley's red face and drawn wand. Let him hex him. Nothing could be worse than his fath-

"Ow!"

Draco bumped into another tall boy who fell to the floor and his eyes widened as he looked down, apology ready to be offered. Of course. Of all the people he could have bumped into…

"Potter", he greeted icily. Not bothering to give the other boy a hand-up he watched as Potter scrambled to his feet.

"Malfoy."

Draco did notice, however, that the other boy hadn't drawn his wand yet. He also saw that there was something familiar about Potter. His cheekbones were more prominent now that he had lost almost all baby-fat and that brought out something about his eyes that had previously gone unnoticed by Draco…

"I was looking through the compartments", Draco found himself explaining, startling both himself and Potter. "I accidentally stumbled on yours. Now, if you'll excuse me…"

with a flourish of his cape that he had learned from Severus, he strode away. He could feel Potter's eyes on his back all the way until he slunk into an empty compartment and warded and locked the door.

The sorting feast didn't go any better. His Slytherin so-called-friends stared worriedly and curiously at him throughout the meal and he could feel Potter's eyes bore into him.

When the sorting hat ended its song with a spoken warning about "house unity" and "the importance of looking beyond houses and see the person", he snuck a peak at Potter. And immediately wished he hadn't. Startlingly emerald green eyes stared back at him, caught his gaze and would not let him look away. Draco felt more than heard his knife clatter to the table as Potter's eyes seemed to search for something in his eyes. He apparently found it because something in them softened and Draco found himself free. Utterly confused, he deflected the questions from his house-mates and ate his dinner in stony silence, unaware of the similar interrogation over at the Gryffindor table.

"What was that about?" Ron asked.

Harry sighed and looked up at his red-headed friend who was looking at him with a weird expression on his face.

Hermione snorted and thumped Ron on the head.

"What's wrong with him looking at the Slytherins after what the Hat said?" she asked dismissively.

Ron made an ugly face. "Hermione", he protested. "He wasn't looking at the Slytherins, he was looking at Malfoy."

Harry could see the fight coming from miles away and quickly threw up a Muffliato spell around them. That caught their attention and they looked at him questioningly.

"Look", Harry said. "I've been having these weird dreams for as long as I can remember." He waved his hand in the air to ward off a question from Hermione. "No, I wont't tell you what about. Anyways. When I bumped into Malfoy on the train, something about him seemed different… and familiar."

"Well yeah, dude", Ron said, unintelligently, "you've known him for six years now."

Harry rolled his eyes.

"No, Ron. That's not it." With a sigh he gave in. "The dreams are very vague, but I think that they are about Hogwarts, but the thing is that Hogwarts looks young…" he trailed off, not knowing how to describe them.

"And Malfoy is in them?" Hermione promted.

Harry shook his head. "I don't know. There are always three other people with me. Two women and one man. The dreams are almost always warm in nature and I feel content, at ease. Today", he paused, dreading Ron's response, "something about Malfoy gave me that exact same feeling." He did not mention that the feeling intensified when he had looked into the other boy's eyes. He felt like he should know Malfoy. But that was just plain weird. He did know Malfoy, didn't he? But when the hat had said that last thing, he felt as though it applied to himself and Malfoy in particular.

"That's sick", exclaimed Ron.

"Ronald!" Hermione snapped. "That's not sick."

"It's sick if it's about Malfoy", Ron replied stubbornly. But a hard gaze from Hermione made him visibly shrink back into his seat.

"Did you not hear what the hat said? Harry was doing precisely that."

"But it's Malfoy!" came the childish whine.

Harry shook his head. He shouldn't have said anything.

"Look, Ron", he said. "It's not like I'm going to jump him or anything. I just felt like maybe he isn't as bad as he looks. I mean, think of his parents."

"Yeah, his parents. They aren't exactly—"

Harry, too, silenced Ron with a look.

"I was going to say that with parents like that, it's not easy to not become prejudiced and turn to Voldemort's teachings, right? I mean", Harry was on a roll now, "even if he did think differently than his parents, would he dare show that? No, I don't think so. I think that the punishment for thinking differently in that kind of family is very harsh. Just look at Sirius and his crazy family. And Malfoy was almost nice on the train earlier today. And…" he trailed off, suddenly anxious.

Hermione put a hand on his arm, urging him on silently.

Harry took a deep breath. "How much do I have to do with that attitude of his? Think about it. Malfoy wanted to be friends with me when we first came here and he approached me in, what I can realize now, was a completely normal pureblood way, even if it was a tad derisive when he saw you, Ron. Ever since then, all I've done is antagonize him. Sure, he has antagonized me as well. But what did it cost him to extend that hand of friendship in the first place? His parents can't have been pleased. I mean, Draco grew up with that bloody savior nonsense all around him, but his parents must have told him their version of the story!"

He abruptly stopped for air and looked up at his friends, daring them to comment on the fact he had used Draco's first name. During his rant he had stared intently at a scorch mark in the table. Hermione looked thoughtful and Ron looked… well, Ron was pale.

"Yeah", Harry snapped. "Didn't think of it that way did you? No I thought not."

Ron shrugged. "Well, I've been raised to know that dark families are dark and no one can be trusted or turned. But look at Sirius and Snape. I", he gulped, " I just didn't think of Malfoy as a person, I suppose. He was just another dark wizard. He's like me, only reversed. And we all share blame. Us and Malfoy and dumb and dumber."

Harry gaped.

"Who are you and what have you done to Ron?"

Ron smiled wryly. "Temporary insanity." The smile disappeared.

"I think the hat is right." Ron looked up at Harry searchingly. "And about those dreams… I think we should ask Dumbledore."

Hermione caught Harry's gaze over the table. Her astonished expression said as much as Harry felt. Since when had Ron grown up? He had always been intelligent, but they rarely saw him calm down enough to actually think about a matter before charging ahead. Harry shrugged and they went back to their meals in silence.

Halloween. Narcissa's voice echoed in Draco's mind. He had only until October 31st until he became a slave to that monster and no one could save him. His father would try but Draco knew he couldn't succeed, for Lucius was not the one destined to equal the Dark Lord in strength and skill. No. Draco's only hope lay with Potter. A boy who he had spent six years trying to avoid and getting into fights with. He couldn't just march up to Potter and ask for his protection.

Why not? Asked a voice inside his head. Potter isn't evil. He would probably think it through before denying you his help.

Draco sneered at the voice. He wasn't daft. Potter wouldn't look at him twice. He was just an evil Slytherin to the Golden Boy. Not a person.

He left Crabbe and Goyle behind at the table and trudged down to the dungeons. They had been friends as small boys, but as they grew older, Crabbe and Goyle senior had apparently thought that Draco needed watching. They hadn't spoken or interacted like friends since they turned ten. Draco truly did not have any friends. Slytherin House was a noble one and the students there should have been great friends. But Draco figured that the Dark Lord had changed that. Nowadays everybody in the house only saw each other as assets or possible enemies that needed to be 'eliminated' sooner or later. Sometimes he envied the golden trio for their easy friendship. It was probably the reason that he sometimes lashed out at them in anger and jealousy. The worst part was that he knew what true friendship felt like. At least in his dreams. That he could not attain that in real life saddened him greatly. It also made him angry.

Why should he suffer for what his parents once did?

And why couldn't they just tell the world that Lucius really wasn't bad? Everybody on the light side hated Draco's dad, everybody on the dark side feared him. Well, everybody except the Dark Lord and Severus, Draco amended.

With a sigh, he told the snake at the entrance the house password. He ignored the first years that filed in behind him and went directly to his favorite couch and sat down, tuning out everything else.

Halloween