This is one of my favorite scenes, I think, even though it's a bit on the sappy side. Perhaps more than a bit.
When Harry got back, it was past midnight and he could see the light still on in the parlour as he walked up the drive. He let himself into the house, greeted Hydrangea and went to investigate.
The parlour door was standing open, as it usually was, and when Harry walked in he was surprised to see Malfoy lounging on the couch with his bare feet up on the armrest and a bottle of whisky cradled in one arm. He was wearing a black t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Muggle music - The Beatles, actually - was coming from a cd that was spinning with no visible means of support on a shelf, and Janice was sitting at the table by the window looking exhausted. She jumped up from her seat as soon as she saw Harry.
The cd spinning by itself is one of my favorite little bits of non-canon magic I invented for this story, not that it's such an earthshatteringly original idea or anything; I just like the image.
"Mr. Potter, sir, I tried to get him to eat something but . . ." her voice trailed off and she indicated a plate full of now-cold and rather disgusting looking food. "He's been drinking."
Janice is such a goody-goody. She was supposed to be a red herring, a possible suspect, but I don't think that it was ever all that convincing. Plot really isn't one of my best things.
"Potter," Malfoy said in his most imperious drawl, "please inform Janice that I am present in the room and there's no need to act as if I weren't."
"Mr. Potter, he threatened to insult me," Janice countered.
"He threatened to insult you?"
"Potter, tell Janice how soft I've got, that there was a time when I would have eviscerated her with no warning." Malfoy considered his words. "Well, not literally. Verbally. Maybe literally. Depends on the context." He took a large swig from the bottle. "Tell her, Potter. I used to be scary."
While I'm wallowing in self-congratulations, let me state also that I'm fond of this little paragraph. There's something cute and a little disturbing about a drunk Draco thinking over whether he would literally have eviscerated Janice in another context.
"You're still scary, Malfoy. Janice, thanks, you can go on to bed. I'll take over. I'm sure Mr. Malfoy will be very embarrassed by his behaviour toward you in the morning."
"No, I won't!" Malfoy sang out. Janice shrugged at Harry and made her escape. "Anyway, Lucius is Mr. Malfoy," Malfoy continued. "I hate it when you call me Malfoy, Potter, and I don't think I shall answer to it anymore."
"What am I supposed to call you, then?"
"Draco. Or you can call me Jacques." Malfoy giggled. "That started as a joke, you know."
"I know. Are you going to keep calling me Potter, then?"
"Yes," Malfoy answered after a moment's reflection, with great dignity.
"That doesn't seem fair, really."
But Malfoy had closed his eyes and Harry thought he'd probably fallen asleep. He sat himself in the chair across from the sofa and put his feet up on the footstool.
"Take your shoes off, Potter, if you're going to put your feet on the furniture," Malfoy said suddenly, his eyes still closed.
Harry couldn't help but smile as he leaned down to unlace his boots and take them off. He was never going to let Malfoy live this down. It was worth two weeks of his constant company just to see him this drunk.
Malfoy sat up abruptly and pointed to the cd spinning on the shelf. "I did that, you know."
"You started the cd player?"
"No! I mean, yes, I did, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the music. This Muggle music. Listen to it, Potter."
"I've heard 'Golden Slumbers' before, Malfoy."
Malfoy scowled at him. "I thought I heard someone talking, but I don't hear my name, so they can't possibly be talking to me."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Draco. I've heard 'Golden Slumbers' before, Draco. I was raised as a Muggle, Draco, as you never stopped reminding me when we were in school."
"But have you ever really listened to it? Shhh. Shhhh. Stop talking. Just listen."
The Beatles are emblematic to me of everything truly great about England and her people and culture, and simultaneously emblematic of everything truly great about humanity at large. It isn't really possible to overstate how influenced I have been by the Beatles - as a person, a writer, a songwriter and musician, despite the fact that I was still quite small (about two or three, I guess) when they split up. I sometimes wonder whether there's really a good rationale for saving humanity from the grisly fate we seem to be determined to deliver to ourselves, but The Beatles always manage to provide me with a justification.
They stopped talking and listened to Paul McCartney sing. Harry generally took Muggle music for granted. He listened to it, he heard it when he watched the telly, it was all around. It wasn't something he thought about. But now that Malfoy mentioned it, this was a pretty good song. Beautiful, even.
The song ended and "A Day in the Life" started. They listened to that one in silence, too, until the last note hung in the air for what felt like eternity.
If you don't know "A Day in the Life" or don't recall how it ends, do yourself a favor and dig up a download of it or borrow a Beatles cd from your local library. Turn it up good and loud and listen, letting the end of it play out until the last chord finally fades completely away. Then come back and imagine this scene with that in mind, and at the very least you'll have listened to a fucking great song.
"A Day in the Life" is actually two song fragments, one by McCartney and one by Lennon, that they put together to make this fantastic whole, with added orchestrations by George Martin, genius that he was. Lennon's part is the minor-key bit that goes I read the news today oh boy (you can find all the lyrics here) and McCartney's is the major-key woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head part. The genius of it, well a portion of the genius anyway, is the juxtaposition of the larger-scale political and life-and-death concerns of the first part (car crashes, news stories, the polis as exemplified by the Albert Hall) with the everyday business of living in the second, McCartney and Lennon filling their stereotypical roles of the charming everyman and the political activist. While both did extraordinary work on their own, I think nearly everyone agrees that neither were ever quite as good alone as they were together.
The song seemed apt not only because of the cinematic moment where they are both sitting there listening to the last chord fade, but also because the themes of the song as I see them - the larger picture contrasted with smaller-scale personal concerns - are also the themes of the story to a great extent. (In the past, both Harry and Draco have always chosen the larger-scale good over their own personal concerns - though Draco would claim that he did so only because it served his own well-being in the grander scheme of things, that he'd rather be dead than be Voldemort's ass-monkey. In the end of this story, Harry choses the personal over the greater good, despite Draco's insistence that he mustn't.) So the song represents to me, not only everything that is good and noble about humanity, the pinacle of art and human achievement, but also the whole of human experience, the realm of politics and large happenings and the world of the everyday living and love. When Draco says they would have destroyed that, he's referring to all of those meanings. At least, that's how I read it.
The other songs I reference are also chosen very deliberately. "Golden Slumbers" is a lullabye that's always struck me as being very sad and having very strong undertones of being about the Final Sleep (and was in fact used to that end in the Bee Gees/Peter Frampton Sgt. Pepper movie, though the less said about that, probably the better), a reference to Draco's foretold demise and Harry's life without him ("boy you're going to carry that weight a long time"). "The Two of Us" is a jaunty little song, a celebration of two close friends/lovers spending the day together, stirring up a little mischief and basically wasting time, a reference to the freedom and joy that Harry comes to feel in Draco's presence ("two of us going nowhere. . . on our way back home, we're going home").
As it slowly faded, Malfoy said, "If they'd won they would have destroyed that. I stopped them. And you did, too." He laid back down, the bottle dangling from his hand loosely off the edge of the sofa. "And that's enough. That's good enough."
"Enough for what?"
Enough to be worth his life, of course. But I'm sure you knew that. Please tell me that you knew that.
"I'm very drunk," he said, as though this were a perfectly reasonable answer to the question. "The Two of Us" started playing.
"I can see that, Malfoy. I mean, Draco. Where did you get this cd and why are you listening to it?"
"It's for my Muggle Studies N.E.W.T. Muggle Popular Music, Volume 12, The Magic of The Beatles, Compiled and Collected."
"That's what all that reading is for? You're taking your N.E.W.T.s?"
"I'm taking seven N.E.W.T.s," he said proudly. "Be sure to tell Granger that, won't you, Potter?" He lifted the bottle and poured some into his mouth without sitting up. Harry was amazed that he neither spilled a drop, nor choked. He was beginning to get the idea that Malfoy was somewhat practiced at this. "Some people read for the love of knowledge, though, you know, Potter. Some people have some depth beyond dashing about saving everyone from themselves, and Death Eaters, and scaly things."
That's one of my favorite lines in the whole story, and I don't really know why. It just tickles me. Scaly things.
Harry had no idea what that meant, and he decided he really didn't want to delve into it. "Draco, are you saying that you never took your N.E.W.T.s?"
"Was rather busy infiltrating the Dark Lord's inner circle at the time, Potter. I got a great education in skinning techniques, though. And demon summoning. I can summon a great huge old nasty demon any time you want one."
"I'd rather we skipped it if it's all the same to you."
"I thought you'd feel that way. Most people do. Not the most practical education, as it turns out."
Once again, home schooling in service to a political/religious agenda results in an incomplete education. Though I suppose if Voldemort had won, Draco would have gotten a good deal more use out of skinning and demon summoning than an encyclopedic knowledge of muggle popular music.
I had been planning to do something with Draco's new-found love of Muggle popular music in the planned last installment of the Silververse stories, The Dawn In All Its Majesty. Draco was to have gotten quite infatuated with 80's New Romantic style and New Wave and revived the Adam Ant look for the wizarding set, with certain wizarding-culture adjustments. Sadly, other projects have claimed my attention and now I've turned that story over to someone else, who may or may not get around to writing it herself, and if she does I don't know if she'll keep the Muggle music bits. But I was quite taken with the idea of Draco in a white poet shirt and black eyeliner with a green and white stripe painted across his face.
"But it's not like you have to work or anything. I mean, it doesn't really matter if you finish your N.E.W.T.s or not."
"It mattered to Dumbledore," he said quietly. "And it matters to me."
"Oh." The Beatles played in the silence. "So, what ones are you taking, then?"
"I'm very drunk," Malfoy said.
"I seem to recall your mentioning that, yes."
"I'm going to tell you something now, Potter, only because I'm so drunk I won't remember it in the morning, and you're too much the noble Gryffindor to ever bring it up again. If you ever try to use it against me, I shall deny it vehemently and then find a way to wreak my vengeance upon you. A great and terrible vengeance, Potter."
"I'm assuming that's pretty much what you studied your seventh year instead of your N.E.W.T.s, great and terrible vengeance wreaking."
Malfoy gave Harry a beatific smile. "Exactly."
"Okay, consider me sufficiently intimidated. Go on. What's your big secret?"
"The first half of my sixth year, before Lucius pulled me out of Hogwarts," he took a deep breath, then plunged on quickly, "I had an enormous crush on you."
Harry wasn't sure if he should laugh, or say thank you, or scream in terror, or what. So he just sat there with his feet up and his mouth open.
"I got over it, of course" Malfoy continued. "I think it was just that I'd started having the dreams, and I knew I had to switch sides. And I knew if I did my parents were going to die. And I was going to die. But the future, when Voldemort won - it was bad, Potter. You have no idea how bad. So there I was, and you were the champion of lost causes, weren't you? I mean, you were friends with The Weasel, and Granger, who, let's face it, started out rather poorly. You were dashing about saving everyone. I suppose I hoped you could save me, too. Charge in on your white horse. Maybe then I wouldn't have to go back to the Manor and be a spy against my own family and probably kill them and probably die. But Christmas came and everything happened just as I knew it would. I knew no one could save me, not even you. But thinking that you might gave me some comfort for a while, I think. Just until I got used to the idea, you know?"
Harry thought that that was one of the saddest things he'd ever heard. Malfoy rolled over onto his side and set the bottle carefully on the carpet.
"So, thanks, Potter," Malfoy said. "Even though you didn't know what I was thinking, it helped. And thanks for saving my life after I got poisoned, too. I don't think I thanked you for that. And thanks for killing the Dark Fuckwit. I really hated that tosser. And thanks for something else, too. I can't remember what it was now. You're not so bad, really, Potter. You just need some new shirts."
Malfoy's eyes drifted closed, and he tucked his hands beneath his head and began to snore softly.
Harry took a soft wool throw off the end of the sofa and covered Malfoy with it, then gently swept a stray lock of blond hair out of his eyes. "You're welcome, Draco," he said quietly. "Sweet dreams."
This may be the moment at which Harry falls in love with Draco without realizing it. But feel free to choose your own moment, if you'd like. (I know, some of you think it happened when he opened the door to the Manor at the beginning of the story.)
Well, as I said. Sappy. But sweet.