Bane of My Existence
by Dream Howler



Thanks to my betas: knightmare and feralshada.

Canon Notes: This story is Pre-HBP, which takes place in my version of Harry Potter's seventh year, based on the events of the first five books.


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Copyright: This plot/story is ©2004 - 2012 by Dream Howler. This story is the sole property of its author, and may not be copied, in whole or in part, or posted on any other website without the written permission of the author. As for the Characters that are in this story, they are the property of J.K. Rowling, and are only being borrowed for my enjoyment. I am not receiving money for writing this story, and have no money for any lawyers to take should they decide to sue me.

Chapter 3 Recap:

In Chapter 3, the band's first concert goes off without a hitch. However, Professor Snape seems to have caught on to who Anton really is. In an uncharacteristic move, Snape has promised not to reveal Harry's secret identity. Harry finds out that his mother once played the violin, and was good at it. Although, the down side to that piece of information was that it was what almost got Snape killed.

Meanwhile, Harry's pen pal has decided to tell him who he is. We last left Harry in the Astronomy tower with his mysterious letter writer.


Chapter 4 - Mystery Uncovered and Shocks

Harry shivered as the low husky voice purred into his ear. The voice sounded familiar, but he couldn't place it.

"I want to apologize before you see me, so I am going to slip this little blindfold over your eyes. I promise no one will hurt you," he whispered.

"Okay, but no tricks... although if you were planning on turning me over to Voldemort, I doubt you would be this nice to me," Harry whispered back.

"Harry, Harry, Harry. I told you I didn't believe all that pure-blood shite anymore, and I have you to thank for it." Caesius slipped the blindfold over Harry's eyes and settled at Harry's feet. "Now I will tell you why you changed me, Harry. You see, you put my father in Azkaban, and even if I never thanked you before now... here it is. Thank you, Harry, for taking my father away from me; you will never know what you did for me when you did that. In fact, I am sure you have heard by now that he is dead, but I will get to that in a moment."

Harry sat there stunned. 'This can't be who I think it is can it? No! It can't be him,' Harry thought. 'He wouldn't have wanted his father in Azkaban! He told me that he would make me pay for doing it!'

"I bet by now you have figured out who I am. I don't think I was discreet in my letters. My only intent was that you got to know the real me, for you to learn who I really am. Still, I am sure you have wondered why I so often flirted with you in them," he whispered.

"Dra... Malfoy? Is that you? Is this some kind of joke?" Harry said quietly, his face screwed up in confusion.

Draco smiled. "Yes Harry, surprise, it's me..." Draco reached up and took off the blindfold. "It's no joke though, Harry. I meant what I said in my letters. You have given me my life back; one I would have never had if you hadn't taken away Lucius from me. His grand plan was for me to take the Mark before my birthday and before seventh year started. He was going to force me to take the Dark Mark, Harry. That means that you practically saved my life. I didn't want to be your enemy, forced to fight you and try to kill you, when all I want is for you to be happy. You gave me a life, Harry, and that is why I wrote you those letters. You deserved to know the extent of my gratefulness."

Harry looked down and noticed that it was indeed Draco, who was, oddly enough, sitting on the floor at his feet. Stunned didn't begin to cover the emotions he was feeling as he looked into Draco's silver blue eyes. Draco smiled up at him and something glittered in their depths. The truth - Draco was telling the truth.

Harry didn't know what to think or feel. Mixed emotions swirled through his head, overwhelming him. He couldn't handle the pressure, and grabbing his Invisibility Cloak, he ran from the room in a daze, leaving behind a very stunned Draco.

The next day, Harry pulled Hermione into an abandoned classroom, threw up a Silencing Charm, and informed her of what had happened the night before. Hermione shared in Harry's confusion, but once she thought about it, all the clues in the letters made sense. When Harry told Hermione that he was sure that Draco was telling the truth, Hermione was speechless for the first time in her life.

"I don't know what to do, Hermione. I care about the new Draco, but what will he do if he ever figures out I am Anton? I just know he will freak out. He is always telling me that he will find out eventually, but I don't know... I just don't know what to do," Harry admitted.

Hermione studied Harry for several seconds before replying. "Harry, I am sure that you don't want to cause him pain. It took guts to come out to you, and you ran away from him. If he‘s really serious, then he is probably pretty hurt right now. However, you might want to quit the band if you are afraid of hurting Malfoy further."

At that moment, Hermione realized that she had given Harry the wrong advice as Harry's face screwed up angrily. She knew it was useless to argue with him now.

"It will be slightly painful, but I want to be there for Draco, even if it is in a disguise," Harry stated.

Although Hermione didn't really approve, she was well aware by now that when he decided something, there was hardly ever a way to make him change his mind. It was better to let Harry make his own mistakes, and butt out of it. In the end, the less she was involved with the whole mess, the better.

Hermione sighed. "All right, Harry, I will support you."

Harry smiled. "Thanks, Hermione."


After a week of not receiving letters, Harry was sure that Draco had given up on him. He hadn't gotten any letters since the night in the Astronomy tower, and Harry missed them a lot. Draco really did have a wicked sense of humour when he was in a good mood. His impression of his favourite teacher, Professor Snape, was hilarious. It was later that Harry learned that Professor Snape had become a kind of surrogate father to him, since his father's betrayal and death.

There were times when he saw Draco looking especially sad when he walked around by himself. 'Maybe he did really like me. Perhaps I should just make a fool of myself and write him. At least he wouldn't look so sad...' Harry thought.

However, the next day, Draco seemed to be fine again. To say that the Slytherin was confusing was the understatement of the century. Of course, when Harry thought rationally, Draco didn't know that Anton was Harry so he, of course, wouldn't be giving him sad looks.


The days passed, and Draco tried not to think about Harry, but found it virtually impossible. The next day after the Astronomy tower incident, Draco sent a letter to him apologizing again for everything, and swore that he wouldn't use anything he said against him. Draco hoped that Harry would respond, but it had been over a week now, and Draco's heart slowly started to break. Harry had rejected him again, and try as he might, he couldn't blame him this time.

Draco, in the absence of Harry's letters, had decided to throw himself into the band completely, concentrating on writing songs to go along with the ones that Anton had written. However, since Draco was sad, the songs were what most would term as sad love songs, though Draco wouldn't admit whom they were about. As the days passed, Draco started looking at Anton in a new light. It was disturbing that he seemed to be getting over Harry this soon, and was slowly falling for a guy whose true identity remained a mystery. Anton was everything that he liked in a guy; he was funny, intelligent, nice looking, and didn't care about Draco's past. The only problem was that Draco wished Anton would stop the act and come clean on his identity.

Of course, his thinking did inevitably return to Harry and he sighed, remembering what drove him to write Harry in the first place. During his 6th year, Draco had stopped being so nasty to everyone, stopped using racial slurs, and had just existed. Watching. The Slytherins thought he was mainly in shock from his father's death, but he wasn't. During the summer after his 5th year, after he told Harry that he would pay for putting his father in Azkaban, he learned the real and horrible truth about his father. Lucius Malfoy was evil. So evil in fact, that he had his wife under the Imperious Curse the majority of the time, and had since Draco had turned eleven. The few times she had been able to fight it, she would send her son sweets from home. Once she started acting different, the House-Elves informed Lucius, and he would renew the spell.

When Draco arrived to the station to go home that summer, his mother hugged him for the first time since he was a small child. It made Draco understandably confused, and his mother told him that they would discuss it when they got home. After the pair arrived home, they had a long talk about what his father had made her do over the years for the "cause". Much of which turned Draco's stomach violently.

After two months of telling her son about the evil things that Lord Voldemort made her husband do for his cause and to their family, Draco made a shattering decision. He would die before he allowed Voldemort to win the war. This, of course, meant that he had no choice but to join the side of Harry Potter, his long time rival. Draco knew that he didn't have the survival skills and bravery needed to play a spy for Voldemort, so he needed to find some other way to help.

When Draco returned to school that year, he spent most of the year watching Harry. He was startled to realize that Harry was quite good looking, and that he wanted to get to know him better. Over time, Draco realized that he had severely misjudged the young Gryffindor. He noticed this most during his fifth and the beginning of his sixth year; Harry had pretty much withdrawn from his housemates and disappeared often. Draco had even tried to follow him several times, but Harry always seemed to duck down a secret passage and totally disappear before Draco could find out which way he had gone.

This, of course, frustrated Draco to no end. However, he had no idea where Harry was going, and even the best spies in Slytherin couldn't seem to track him. Eventually, Draco came up with the idea of apologizing in a letter, and that was where all of this began that summer. It had been great when Harry had confided in him and had treated him like a friend. He still had a small glimmer of hope that perhaps one day, Harry would come to realize that Draco wouldn't harm him or his friends anymore, and perhaps consent to dating him.


The weeks passed rather quickly, and the band itself had several more concerts in Hogsmeade. They even had a surprise sprung on them by Madam Rosmerta, when she arranged for one of the Weird Sisters to be in the Three Broomsticks one day. Of course, she wouldn't admit it was her doing, but the band knew better. Word had spread about their little band, and it was already making the Three Broomsticks more money than it had seen in a long time. Madame Rosmerta was extremely happy, and even paid the band a nice stipend as compensation for all their hard work. The band eventually needed a manager and the arguments over who would be suitable lasted more than a week.

"I still say that Pansy would do okay; I mean she is a Slytherin after all," said Blaise.

"True, but would she be greedy enough to run away with said money?" asked Draco.

"Well, I don't know. It's entirely possible that won't happen," replied Wayne.

"What about Granger? She's smart and would be too loyal to steal any money," Draco stated.

Harry looked at Draco stunned, however, he quickly hid his expression. 'Did Draco just suggest we use the girl he's hated for seven years to be our manager? I mean, she might do it, since she knows that I am Anton, but I don't know.' Harry cleared his throat, "Ummm, well, I think she would do a good job, but why would she do us any favours? I mean, I doubt you would be able to get her to do anything for you until you apologize to her for the last seven years."

Draco looked at Anton and blinked. "Actually, I was planning on doing so; however, it is so hard to get her to pull her nose out of a book long enough. Of course, that is probably how she is always beating me in grades. I have never seen anyone study as much as Granger, and that includes the Ravenclaws."

Everyone had a good laugh over Draco's statement, including Harry. Harry knew first hand how much Hermione studied, including her coloured homework charts and study charts. Harry decided the best way to approach Hermione was to talk to her himself first. Perhaps she would do it if Harry told her what Draco said. Of course, that also depended on whether or not Draco apologized.


The next morning after breakfast, Harry pulled Hermione aside and asked her if she would meet him before lunch break. Harry and Ron went to their classes, still feeling slightly guilty that they dropped Care of Magical Creatures to concentrate on other subjects. It was just as well, since Ron's brother was now teaching the subject. It was much easier to be fair when relatives were not in your class.

When lunch arrived, Hermione and Harry traipsed up several flights of stairs to once again use the Room of Requirement. After pacing back and forth three times, the door opened and the pair went inside. After they sat down, Harry began telling Hermione all that had went on the day before. After Harry had finished, Hermione sat quietly, thinking.

"Well, I would expect a full apology before I even consider it, Harry. Nevertheless, if he has been trying to apologize all year, then the next time I see him, I will see if I can talk to him," said Hermione.

Harry smiled. "Thanks, Hermione. I knew that you would be sensible about this. I was actually shocked he said such nice things about you. Of course, he has told me many times that all the stuff he said before his father's capture was mainly due to his father. If you recall, I still have problems not thinking I am a freak due to my relatives' treatment."

Hermione nodded. "Well, Ron has given him a second chance, and you know how bitter rivals that they were. Of course, I think that is mainly because he is in love. Although, speaking of love, Fred and I are taking a bit of a break. It's just too hard right now; he's so busy with his shop and trying to make a living. It's getting harder and harder to see him. Perhaps after we get out of school, it will get better."

Harry frowned and nodded sympathetically. "Yeah, I noticed he wasn't around as much lately. I just figured he was working, not that you two had called it quits. I don't know what to do about my love life, personally. I really want to tell Draco that I am Anton, but it's so nice that he has no expectations of me except writing and playing music. He doesn't expect me to be a hero, or a leader, just myself."

Hermione hummed softly. "Harry, how about this. Although I am against lying, why don't I feel Draco out for you? I'll ask him if he still likes you and wants to go out with you. I mean you haven't seen anything in the Daily Prophet yet, so he obviously wasn't doing it to humiliate you. If I find out that he still likes you, will you consider at least approaching him as Harry? You wouldn't have to tell him about Anton just yet."

Harry sighed and nodded. "That sounds like an okay idea, Hermione. Maybe it will work. I really do miss our letters; sometimes, I wish he hadn't told me."

Hermione placed a hand on Harry's shoulder, deciding a change of subject would be a good idea. "Come on, Harry, let's go get some lunch."

Harry nodded and followed Hermione to the Great Hall for Lunch, still contemplating their conversation. 'Is it possible that Draco still likes me, even though I rejected him again? I guess I will have to wait and find out.'

The next day, Draco approached Hermione about the band's opening. Hermione, at the beginning, was going to play slightly hard to get, but once she saw the remorse on Draco's face, she graciously accepted his apology on the condition that he answer a personal question. While Draco didn't really want to answer personal questions, he had a good idea who the question was about. His thoughts were confirmed several minutes later.

"I know that you wrote Harry all summer, and a good portion of the school term, Malfoy. What did you hope to accomplish, really?" asked Hermione.

Draco frowned as he replied. "Accomplish? I told him what I hoped to accomplish, Granger. I wanted to get to know him, without him telling me to go to hell. Tell me something, Granger. Would you have written me back if I had written you a letter and signed it, Draco Malfoy?"

Hermione blushed slightly. "I guess not. I probably would think just like Harry did when he got your letters, that it was some sort of trick."

Draco sighed softly, a frown gracing his aristocratic features. "I told him it was no trick either, though it seems that he didn't believe me. It was nice getting to know him; I finally felt happy for the first time in my life."

Hermione nodded. "Well, I know that Harry enjoyed getting your letters. He even told me that he missed them just yesterday."

Draco scowled. "Don't play with me Granger. He can't have missed them too much or he would have written me before now. I haven't heard from him since the day after I revealed myself. I wrote him a letter and he never returned it."

Hermione looked puzzled. "What letter? Harry said he hasn't gotten any letters from you since the Astronomy Tower incident."

Draco blinked. "He didn't get a letter from me the day after the Astronomy tower?"

Hermione shook her head. "No, he hasn't, not unless he forgot to tell me about it. Which owl did you use? Why didn't you use your own?"

Draco hmmmed, "I don't know. I didn't use Arrow; he was out when I had time to mail it. The only one that came down to me seemed pretty old and looked half-dead actually. I think I have seen him delivering things to the Weasleys once or twice. He looked so eager to help me for some reason."

Hermione gasped softly, and then looked sad. "Errol died; there is no telling where your letter went. You're right, he was very old. On his last legs really, he probably passed on before he was able to deliver it. From what Hagrid said, it looked like he jumped out the window and found he couldn't fly. He crashed to the ground and broke his neck. If he was carrying a letter, it's probably somewhere in the forest, torn up by now by some animal and used for a nest. What did it say?"

Draco sighed softly. "It said that I was sorry, and that I would never tell anyone what he wrote to me about. I apologized for being scared to tell him who I was again. I've been waiting for him to write me back for a while now. I thought..."

Hermione nodded cutting him off. "I understand, Draco; it seems silly that you both have been sad for the same reason. I'll talk to Harry; you didn't by chance keep a copy of your letter did you?"

Draco blinked several times, and glared slightly at her. "Yes, I kept a copy... however, it's personal."

Hermione laughed softly. "I won't read it, Malfoy; I just want to give it to Harry. I think it will help him to believe that you actually still like him."

Draco stood quietly pondering that statement. 'Do I still like Harry that way? Yes, I think I do, but what about Anton? Oh, who cares. Who knows if Anton will ever even tell me who he is? Wouldn't it be better to be with someone that I know, than someone who wants to keep secrets? I mean, I understand why he wants to keep the secret... however, why can't he just tell me? What is he afraid of? Maybe he doesn't look as good under that charm. What if he thinks that I wouldn't like him the way he really is? Wouldn't it be better if I just tried it with Harry, than deal with someone that may or may not actually like me that way? I mean, Anton has never said that he liked me more than a band mate and friend. I know he said he was gay, but he could like brunettes or something, right? I might not even be his type. Oh, who am I kidding, Anton might be interesting, but I have liked Harry for a long time. Maybe Anton just reminded me of Harry, and that was why I was developing feelings for him.'

As Draco stood pondering Hermione's previous statement, she stood in front of him becoming agitated. Hermione had been trying to get his attention for the last five minutes. Finally, she grabbed his arm, and waved a hand in front of his face. "Malfoy, are you there? You look a million miles away."

Draco, startled out of his thoughts, blinked at Hermione as she released him. "Oh, sorry, Granger, I was just thinking about something. I'll copy the letter tonight before dinner and give it to you later."

Hermione nodded. "All right. I'll see you tonight, then."

"All right, see you later, Granger," Draco replied.

As Draco started to walk away, Hermione called out to him. "Oh, by the way, Malfoy... I'll help you with your band; send me the details when you get a chance."

Draco smiled. "Great, I am glad that we could come to an understanding and work together. I don't think that you will regret it, Granger."

Hermione nodded and smiled at him. "Hopefully not."

Later that evening, Draco slipped Hermione the letter, along with the band details, and she grinned widely. 'If things worked out for him, Harry might consent to a date during the next Hogsmeade weekend, after my concert.' Draco reflected.

As Hermione walked towards the Great Hall, she was glad that she had talked to Malfoy now; perhaps Harry would finally be happy if she could just convince Harry that Draco meant what he said.

After dinner was finished, Hermione pulled Harry aside and gave him two letters from Draco. Hermione wasn't sure what the contents were, but she hoped that it would ease Harry's heartache.

Harry looked down at the letters warily. Hermione had told Harry about the letters earlier in the evening, and he wasn't sure what to do now. He had never thought to even ask Draco if he had written him again. In the band room, Harry had a box that held rough drafts of letters that he never sent... now Harry felt guilty. Deciding to tough it out, Harry opened the newer letter first.


Dear Harry,

I have enclosed the copy of the letter that I wrote the night after our meeting. I made myself another copy just to be on the safe side. I guess that you could call that night a disaster. I should have expected you to run out on me, but I had hoped that you wouldn't. I want to apologize again for not telling you who I was from the start, but as I asked Granger... If I had written you and signed my name to the bottom, would you have written back? As I predicted, she said no. So you now have the reason I didn't sign my name.

I hope that once you read the other letter that you will consent to meet me the next Hogsmeade weekend after my concert. Perhaps it will coincide with your plans.

I miss you, Harry.

Draco


'He missed me.' Harry sighed. 'I missed his letters, too; luckily I got to see him on a regular basis at band practice. I can't believe that Draco asked me on a date...' Harry thought.

Unfolding the older piece of parchment, it was creased and worn, as if it had been read several times. Harry supposed that Draco had re-read what he had written several times to figure out why Harry had never written back.


Dear Harry,

Yes, it's a mundane greeting. After last night, I figure that addressing you the way I normally do would be unwelcome. Harry, I know that last night didn't turn out quite the way we hoped it would. I had hoped that by the time that we met, that you would like me for who I was on the inside. I really do like you Harry, and it hurt when you ran away. However, I guess I deserve it in some ways. We haven't exactly been friends for the last seven years, and after you sent the letter about our first meeting, I think I finally understood why you turned down my friendship for Weasley's.

I guess I was so used to my name getting me somewhere. I don't think it even occurred to me that you didn't even know who the Malfoys were. In the end, I suppose it was a good thing that you did reject my friendship. If you were my friend the entire time, and Voldemort decided to force me to bring you to him, it probably would have killed me.

Please, let's try this again, Harry. I promise that I will never use anything that you have ever written against you, or anything you write in the future. Can we please go back to at least writing each other until you feel comfortable meeting with me again in person? You don't know how much your trust and friendship has meant to me this year. I hope that we can still become friends, if nothing else. I would be upset if I lost contact with you completely.

Draco


Harry sighed as he took out his writing materials. It was time to start his correspondence up again. Harry was afraid if he met Draco as himself often enough, he would cave in, and tell Draco all about Anton. Harry just wasn't ready to do that yet. When he had finished the letter, he rolled up the parchment, and called for Arrow. When the bird arrived, he took the letter in his beak, but not before nipping at Harry affectionately. It seemed that the bird missed Harry as much as his owner did. Draco had been using the Malfoy owl to send all the band correspondence, so it was no wonder why Harry never caught on that Draco had two owls at school.

Several minutes later, Draco was roused out of his homework to the portrait over the mantle opening and his owl landing on the chair next to him. Taking the parchment out of his beak, Draco blinked, noticing Harry's handwriting. 'Hopefully this is good news. I don't know if I could take any bad news.' Draco thought.


Dear Draco,

It feels strange calling you that, as I am so used to calling you Caesius. I guess I am still in shock that you would want to ever have anything to do with me. I have seen you every day of every school year for seven years, and yet you still confuse me. This year has been full of contradictions and hurt feelings. I started to write you many times... so many times. However, I just couldn't send them. It hurt every time I would see you so sad, and I knew that I was the cause. There were so many times that I wished I could take away the pain, but I just can't right now.

You asked if we could write again in your letters, and I think that it would be best for now, if we started that again. I don't know if it would be a good idea to meet out in the open right now; we both have people after us that definitely want us dead. Having us both in the same place probably wouldn't be a good idea at the moment. Professor Dumbledore is extremely worried about my safety, and has made me promise to stick near the castle, anyway.

So, with that said, how is your life going? I haven't been updated on it in quite awhile, and would like to know what is going on with you. I know that your band is doing well; I was surprised when Hermione told me she would be helping you out with it. I am very happy that you have buried the hatchet with both of my friends. It makes anything that may happen between us a lot easier.

Harry


Draco sat staring at the letter for several moments. Harry was right; they did both have people after them. It seemed in the midst of the band's success, he had forgotten that Professor Snape was always shadowing him and the band. It was easy to forget when the screaming crowds were begging for more.

'I'll just have to begin writing him again, and perhaps I can convince him to meet me sometime soon.' thought Draco.

The next night as Harry waited for a shower to be free; he stood pacing for several minutes trying to decide what to do about Draco and Anton. Draco had come to band practice so excited tonight. He was clearly happy that Harry was writing him again, that he wondered just how long he could keep the secret safe. Harry had to sneak the box of letters out of his case in the band room so that he could send them to Draco. He figured he would only send the complete ones; it would be silly to send half thought out letters that he had written in sorrow or anger.

After his shower, Harry flopped tiredly onto his bed. Most of his roommates were already asleep, so they didn't have a chance to question the late hour that Harry made it back. Draco was frantic in the preparations for their next concert. Harry suddenly began to wonder if he was so frantic because he was still hoping that Harry would show up as himself at the concert, or if he had some sort of plans to get them signed. Before Harry knew it, his eyes drooped and he fell into a semi-restless sleep.

The dream started out normal, not even giving a hint of things to come. Though, after several minutes had passed, the dream took a violent turn for the worse. Harry was running down the halls of Hogwarts, crying out Draco's name. It only took several seconds to realize that he wasn't Harry, but Anton, when he passed a mirror in the hallway.

Startled, Harry almost ran into a body on the floor in front of the Great Hall. It was the body of Draco Malfoy, who looked badly injured and in need of a healer. The young man seemed barely alive, and was whispering a name, Harry's name. Quickly cancelling the charm on himself, Harry knelt next to Draco who gasped in shock, stuttering Harry's name before he passed out.

It was several days before Draco awoke and Harry learned what had happened, but by that time, Draco wouldn't even talk to him anymore. Draco was upset that Harry hadn't trusted him once he came clean to tell him who he was, and effectively kicked Harry out of the band. It was later that Professor Dumbledore told Harry that Voldemort had some of his followers in the castle beat Draco up and left him for Harry to find. Voldemort had learned that Draco was in love with Harry, and left a message pinned to Draco's robes. "Next time, I will have them kill him."

Harry awoke from his dream in a cold sweat. Harry knew that it was just a horrible nightmare, but he was even more determined to keep his secret safe now. Draco couldn't know who he was, and if he wanted to keep Draco alive, he would have to learn how to protect all their correspondence. He wouldn't let Draco get hurt because of him. The next morning when he had a break between classes, he would go to the library to find some spells to protect their letters... and Draco.


Author Notes: Hope you liked it!


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