Title: Three Steps to Paradise 01/03
Summary: Harry didn't do what everyone expected of him and he became a professional Quidditch player, however, he still has a huge hero streak. When he does something reckless to save Draco Malfoy from a potentially fatal fall in a match it changes more than just Draco's attitude towards him.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Deathly Hallows Compliant? Kind of – both twins are… intact. Some may consider this, therefore, not compliant.
Word count: 13,955
Author's Notes: Thank you to my beta. To enchanted_jae, I hope this is what you were after. I combined as many of your request as possible without it becoming silly :).
Links: Part 2 | Part 3
Link: Other fic
Certain things seemed to be expected of Harry after he defeated Voldemort and, in the end, he didn't do any of them.
No one really expected him to go back to school to finish his education, since he was clearly a great hero; he didn't agree, so he finished his seventh year just like all the others whose lives had been interrupted.
No one expected him to stand up in front of the whole Wizengemot and tell them that Draco and Narcissa Malfoy had saved his life and should be released, least of all the two individuals in question, but he had been fed up with the revenge the Wizarding world seemed to be trying to take and so he had put his foot down. The things he would never forget were Malfoy's face on the tower when Dumbledore had offered a way out, how reluctant Malfoy had been to recognise him at the Manor, and how Narcissa had lied to Voldemort and said he was dead. There were some people he believed deserved a second chance, so he had acted.
On the other hand, everyone expected him to become an Auror and fight dark wizards to keep them all safe. Instead he joined the first Quidditch team to offer him a job and went back to what he loved rather than what he had to do. The team manager had almost had a heart attack when he had shown up for practice.
Everyone had also expected him to marry Ginny and settle down and have lots of babies, but after living together for a couple of months they had amicably split. Ever since, Ginny had been trying to set him up with men, since it had become quite clear that his interest swung both ways.
All that had been four years and three teams ago and now Harry was playing for the Chudley Cannons, who were winning for the first time in years. It had something to do with him, but also the new coach that had been attracted when Harry had said yes to his current contract. Ron had been so delighted that it had taken all his powers of persuasion to make sure that Ron didn't swear a wizard's oath that their first child would be named after Harry. He had enough of those already; complete strangers sent him pictures of their children who had been named after the Saviour of the Wizarding world. He felt a little sorry for the girls.
They were up against the Appleby Arrows, another team that was having a surprising run of success, most of which had to do with their new Seeker, one Draco Malfoy. Harry had watched Malfoy's career with interest. When his ex-Nemesis had first entered the Quidditch scene a little after Harry had, the papers had said that Malfoy had bought his position and had some bizarre ulterior motives, but it hadn't taken long to realise that Malfoy was actually good. In fact he was one of the few Seekers in the country that Harry knew he had to watch very carefully. He had been looking forward to the match all season.
The game had been going on for nearly an hour already and the Snitch had only made itself known once so far. It was raining and visibility wasn't the best, but Harry never let himself lose sight of the shock of white blond that told him exactly where Malfoy was. He was just about soaked to the bone and the scores were almost neck and neck; at the moment, if the Snitch came into play, that would clinch it for either side.
He circled a little to the left, letting his eyes slide over to Malfoy properly for a moment. Even soaking wet there was something regal about the other Seeker. The whole pointy thing Malfoy had had going as a teenager was gone and Harry could only describe the ex-Slytherin as willowy and fine boned. Dragging his eyes away, he mentally kicked himself for about the tenth time; he was beginning to think that Malfoy won so many matches for his team because rival Seekers were mesmerised by Malfoy's good looks. Time after time during the match, Harry had found himself not paying proper attention because he was staring at Malfoy.
He hadn't had much contact with Malfoy since school really. Somehow they had always managed to miss each other in matches and the only time he had ever really seen Malfoy was at a distance at the Quidditch conventions the league organised every now and then. He knew quite a lot about Malfoy from everything that appeared in the papers about his one time Nemesis, but they hadn't really spoken since school.
There was a flicker of gold above him towards the centre of the pitch and he saw Malfoy see it at almost the exact same time. Without even thinking about it, Harry placed himself flat over his broom and sped across the pitch as fast as he could. The crowd was going wild as he and Malfoy raced towards the Snitch. Playing some teams, he had actually let the Snitch go a few times to keep the game going for the crowd; some Seekers were almost less than useless, but with Malfoy, he knew he had to take every chance for what it was worth.
As ever, the Snitch hovered until they were almost on it and then it skittered away to lead them on a merry dance. They were already high above the pitch floor and the Snitch took them higher. It was exhilarating; Harry always felt so alive chasing the elusive little ball and when there was someone of Malfoy's skill at his shoulder it was even more exciting. His heartbeat thundered in his ears as adrenaline surged through his system, and he urged his broom slightly ahead of Malfoy's.
They went up; they went down; they weaved and Harry felt like laughing loudly, but then, as they were both reaching for the Snitch, he saw it out of the corner of his eye: a Bludger came hurtling out of the gloom as if from nowhere and Malfoy didn't stand a chance. There was the awful sound of cracking bone as the Bludger crashed into Malfoy and Harry saw his opponent unseated.
He reacted without a single thought for the game as he saw Malfoy begin to fall. It was a professional match; there was nothing between Malfoy and the ground and Harry turned his broom, forgetting about the Snitch completely. Now his target was Malfoy and he put his broom into a dive as the clearly unconscious Malfoy plunged towards the pitch floor.
The precious moments that it had taken him to turn meant they were only twenty feet or so off the ground when he finally managed to grab Malfoy's robes. He pulled up as sharply as he could, but with the weight of two and the awkward angle, he had little chance. He slowed them both down; he hoped enough to prevent too serious an injury, but the crash was inevitable. The last thing he knew was the ground being very stubborn in not moving out of his way as he twisted and did his very best to make sure he didn't squash Malfoy. Then he managed to hit his head and everything went black.
Harry groaned: he knew that smell and he opened his eyes to see the ceiling of one of St Mungo's private rooms. It wasn't the first time he had ended up in hospital thanks to a game, and he knew it wouldn't be the last.
"Harry?" said a familiar voice and he blinked a few times until Hermione's face came into focus.
She smiled at him as if she could tell he was looking at her properly.
"How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Like I have a concussion," Harry replied, since now he was awake, his head was beginning to pound.
He sat up very slowly and accepted the potion vial Hermione handed him. He knew the drill by now. The hospital staff would have healed any broken bones and dealt with most injuries and then left the potion to deal with the concussion. There were other methods of dealing with head injuries for more critical patients, but the potion was what was usually used.
"Thanks," he said after making a face at the potion's disgusting taste.
His head began to clear almost immediately and he was sore in several different places, but he knew that would pass as well.
"Feeling better, Mate?" Ron asked, appearing from behind Hermione.
His best friends were always there for him when he did stupid things, so he was not in the least surprised to see both of them. The pair were possibly the best known couple in the Wizarding world and he counted himself very lucky to have them as friends.
"Beginning to," Harry replied with a grin; "I should really learn not to do things like that."
"Would that be the heroics or flying into the ground?" Hermione asked dryly.
"Both," he replied and rubbed his head.
It didn't feel like he had broken too many bones this time; he wasn't aching quite as much as the last time he had been in an accident.
"We were really worried this time, Harry," Ron told him; "you and Malfoy were both covered in blood when they brought you in. Turns out it was just a stake of broom that went through both your arms though."
Harry examined his arms and saw the new little white scar.
"Another one for the collection," he said as his brain flashed a momentary image of when the injury had occurred. "How's Malfoy?"
"The Ferret is fine," Ron said in a dismissive tone, "and we won the match because both of you were out, in case you were wondering."
That wasn't really what Harry was interested in, so he looked to Hermione.
"Malfoy really is fine," she said, patting him on the hand; "he had the injuries from the Bludger impact and the broom spike in his arm, but you broke most of his fall. He discharged himself an hour ago; I saw him leaving."
For some reason he couldn't fathom, that made Harry feel a lot better and he relaxed back onto the pillows.
"Good," he said and smiled, "now do they have any of that great jelly around or am I going to have to leave before I can charm the healers into giving me some?"
Stumbling into his bathroom, Harry bent over the sink and splashed water in his face. He had been having weird dreams all night and while he appreciated mental images of Draco Malfoy naked, the whole flower theme had been a little too bizarre even for his subconscious. Why his dreaming mind had decided to throw thoughts of Malfoy covered in wild flowers at him he had no idea. In the dream it had made perfect sense, but reality made it seem just the wrong side of odd.
Standing up, he peered at himself in the mirror. Without his glasses everything was quite a lot out of focus, but it was better than looking at the bags under his eyes properly. Rubbing his hand over his face, he decided he needed a shave, but a shower was first thing on the menu. His boxers were uncomfortably sticky thanks to the aforementioned dreams and washing seemed like a really good idea.
He turned and reached for the shower knob before pausing as something tried to make itself known in his sleepy brain. It was one of those momentary flashes of clarity and unfortunately his mind was in no state to catch it. Slowly he turned back to the mirror and peered at his out of focus reflection; something wasn't right.
Picking up his glasses from the side of the sink, he put them on his nose and looked at himself properly. It was then quite obvious what was wrong: his hair looked liked someone had set up a nature ramble in it. A lot of it was still the usual black, but the rest was green and brown; lots of different greens and browns, like he was part tree or something.
"I'll kill them!" he all but yelled and went to storm out of the bathroom.
He came up short as he felt the uncomfortable stickiness again.
"After a shower," he muttered to himself and went back to what he had been doing.
It took him fifteen minutes to shower and get dressed before he Apparated to Diagon Alley. Weasley's Wizard Wheezes were going to pay for this, because he was absolutely sure this had to be something to do with them. Ron had probably left a sample in his flat or something and now he was a guinea pig. He walked straight to the shop and right up to the counter.
"Okay, who's fault is this?" he demanded, pointing to his hair. "I have exactly one hour to take retribution and I suggest the innocent don't get in my way."
George looked at him.
"Not us, we swear," Ron's brother said.
"Definitely not us," Fred added and Harry knew it was him because the twin's stance changed.
Fred and George Weasley were one of the Wizarding world's most talked about phenomena. Everyone had truly thought Fred was dead and gone after the Second Battle of Hogwarts, including George until George had started to exhibit signs of a somewhat split personality later that year. When the Weasleys had finally found out what was really going on, the twins had become one of the most intriguing phenomena known to Wizardkind.
As it had turned out, Fred's body was dead, but, at the last instant of life, the twin bond with George had proved too strong to break. Fred's essence had transferred to the next best thing; George's body. This it seemed had caused complete shock in Fred's mental functions and it wasn't until months later that his consciousness had begun to reappear. To some it would have seemed odd, but George had been so happy to get his brother back that it had never seemed to occur to him that sharing his body might be a problem. The twins had always been like one organism with two bodies and now they just had the one body and seemed perfectly happy with it.
Very few people could tell which twin was talking to them, but Harry was one of them. He figured it had something to do with being almost an adopted Weasley.
"I didn't turn my own hair this colour," he protested, and the only people he knew with the skill to do something like this were the twins.
"It really wasn't us," George told him, "but whoever did it, did a fantastic job. You look like you came out of a greenhouse."
Harry didn't really appreciate that comment.
"I know," he said pointedly, "and I want my hair back the way it's supposed to be. Is there anything you can do?"
The Twins appeared thoughtful.
"Come into the back room," Fred said after a moment, "we'll see if we can help."
It was usually not the safest thing in the world to enter the back room of the shop; a person could end up a guinea pig, but Harry didn't have much choice. He really hoped they would be able to sort him out, because otherwise he would be ribbed about his hair for months. Quidditch players could be very unforgiving in their jokes.
Harry almost jumped out of his skin and did manage to drop the towel that he was currently using to make sure he was dry before putting on his clothes.
"Nice arse, Potter," Malfoy commented as he bent over to retrieve his towel.
Normally such comments were brushed off as jokes in the locker room, but he found himself blushing and covering himself up. It was ridiculous behaviour for a place that was often full of naked men.
"Hair's interesting too; branching out from mop to bird's nest?" Malfoy asked, seemingly enjoying his embarrassment.
"Someone's idea of a joke," was all he could find to say.
His dreams were coming back to haunt him and even as he looked into Malfoy's haughty, amused eyes he was very glad of the towel. Hormonal overload wasn't doing much from his composure.
"And talking of jokes," Malfoy said in what Harry had decided was the other man's usual cutting tone, "I would like the one being played on me to end."
That at least gave Harry's libido time to calm down a bit as he was overcome with confusion.
"What joke?" he asked, since he had no idea what Malfoy was talking about.
"The one I'm sure one of your friends thinks is hilarious," Malfoy told him, not looking so amused anymore. "Contrary to popular belief, this gorgeous face is not all without effort and I do need sleep to maintain it."
If there was one thing that hadn't changed about Malfoy since school it was his arrogance. Harry was pretty sure that these days it was mostly an act, since there was none of the viciousness behind it, but it was a very good act.
"Malfoy," he said, deciding that he'd rather be able to get dressed in peace rather than worry about what Malfoy may or may not look like naked, "I have no idea what you're talking about."
For a moment Malfoy just stood there, seemingly trying to assess if he was on the level or not.
"The dreams," Malfoy finally said; "one of your friends must have cast a dream spell or slipped me a dream potion at some point and I want the cure because I haven't slept properly in two nights."
"Dreams?" Harry asked and tried to sound completely innocent.
"The ones of you, Potter," Malfoy said in an exasperated voice, putting his hands on his hips, "the ones with naked you and lots of flowers."
That was the point Harry began to worry.
"Flowers," he said in what he knew was a very insensible manner.
Now Malfoy looked annoyed.
"Look, the content is not the point," Malfoy said in a short tone, "I want them gone. Tell whichever friend of yours who thinks this is a great idea that I will hunt them down if I don't get some sleep."
Harry found himself admiring the very fine arse he was presented with as Malfoy turned and began to march away.
"Wait," he managed to say as he forced his brain into sensible motion, "Malfoy, I don't think it's one of my friends."
Malfoy turned back looking thoroughly unimpressed.
"I'm having dreams too, only of you," he admitted, making sure that his towel was firmly wrapped around his waist.
Now Malfoy appeared surprised.
"I think we may be the butt of the same joke," he said, since Malfoy didn't open his mouth. "Given my hair and the woodland theme of the dreams I think they may be connected."
For a few moments Malfoy frowned.
"But why would anyone target both of us?" was the very reasonable question.
"No idea," Harry admitted, since he really didn't have a clue. "Look, I know it's not one of the twins' jokes because I confronted them about the hair and they denied everything. They like a good joke, but they don't lie about them when they're caught. Now that I know the dreams are part of it I'll get them to see if they can figure out what's been done to us."
Malfoy didn't seem very impressed, but nodded anyway, for which Harry was very grateful, but he wasn't as pleased when the amused looked came back into Malfoy's eyes.
"So, Potter," Malfoy asked, "if you didn't think the dreams were part of the joke, what did you think they were?"
Back in school he would have had no comeback, but he had been facing the press for several years now and he had learned to think on his feet.
"My deep, dark fantasies of course, Malfoy," he replied and was a bit too pleased when Malfoy laughed with genuine amusement.
"I think, Potter," Malfoy said, turning to leave again, "that you may have actually improved since school."
"Why thank you, Malfoy," he said with a grin, turning himself to walk back to his clothes, "you very well might have as well."
Harry spent the rest of the morning inordinately pleased with himself for actually talking to Malfoy in a sensible manner, but then he had been to see the twins. They had had no ideas about what could be causing the dreams or the hair, which was why he found himself in Hermione's office at the Ministry drinking tea and waiting for his friend to return from an errand.
"Hi Harry," Hermione said, breezing in, giving him a peck on the cheek in welcome and then placing the huge stack of files she was carrying on the desk, "sorry I took so long, I was deep in the file stacks when Jessica found me."
Jessica was Hermione's assistant and she fancied Harry something rotten, which was why he usually didn't visit Hermione in the office. It did, however, mean that there were chocolate biscuits on the table, of which he had already eaten three.
"I see Jessica has been looking after you okay then," Hermione said with a grin. "What is so urgent that it tempted you into the huntress's lair?"
"It's not just the hair," he said, putting his teacup on the table. "It's dreams too. Dreams about Malfoy and he's having them too. We think someone might have got us both."
"We?" Hermione asked and raised an eyebrow. "So you've been speaking to Malfoy off the Quidditch pitch then?"
"He came to see me this morning," he replied and rolled his eyes; every female in his life seemed to be interested in his love life. "Because the dreams mean neither of us is sleeping well."
Hermione gave him a small smile and he was sure she was plotting something; no doubt Ginny would be on his doorstep to find out all about him and Malfoy in the near future.
"And what is the nature of these dreams?" Hermione asked, turning back to the issue at hand.
That brought Harry up short since he just knew what she was going to be thinking if he told her.
"Flowers," he said, putting off the inevitable for a few more seconds, "and Malfoy ... naked."
"And his are the same with you naked?" Hermione asked in her very best professional voice.
"Yes," he said, completely positive that Hermione was doing a mental dance of glee, "and don't tell Ron, please."
"Of course not," Hermione said and patted him on the arm. "Ron still doesn't understand why you saved Malfoy in the match; I think we can leave this conversation until it's actually needed."
"If it's ever needed," Harry stressed; he wasn't about to outright lie and say he wasn't interested in Malfoy, but he had some things to think about before there was any possibility of him doing anything about it at all. "No meddling; I know what you and Ginny are like and just because I vaguely show interest in someone does not give you two carte blanche to set us up."
"We'd never do that, Harry," Hermione assured him, but he knew without a doubt that if they thought it was for his own good they would do whatever was necessary, "but just so you know; Malfoy is a very eligible bachelor these days. His charity work and other worthy endeavours have put him back in a good light in most eyes. He also rides both sides of the broomstick, in case you were wondering."
"That much was blatantly obvious even to me, thank you, Hermione," he said and realised that he was probably doomed. "But back on the point; any idea what could have caused the dreams?"
Hermione thought for a while and then shook her head.
"Nothing springs to mind," was her conclusion, "but I need to look a few things up. It might take me a couple of days, but I will find out what the problem is. Until then I suggest you go home via the apothecary and buy yourself a potion to make sure you don't dream; that should let you get some sleep until we figure out what is going on."
He nodded; it sounded like a good plan, but then it was Hermione's so it was bound to have merit.
"Thanks," he said, standing up; "I don't know what I'd do without you."
"Visit a library occasionally probably," Hermione said with a smile. "Now just be careful when you run the gauntlet; I need Jessica to do some work this afternoon and if she corners you that won't be happening."
"I'll use all my Seeker reflexes," he promised with a grin and then leant forward to peck Hermione on the cheek goodbye. "I'll see you and Ron for breakfast on Monday."
Hermione gave him a brief, fond hug and let him go.
"Good luck with the signing thing this weekend," she said, before turning to her files.
"That's one thing I can do in my sleep," he replied and headed for the door.
If anyone could figure out what was up with him and Malfoy it was Hermione, so he set off feeling far more cheerful.
End of Part 1
On to Part 2