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Fanfic / survival is a talent

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survival is a talent is a Harry Potter fanfic by ShanaStoryteller.

Draco and Harry discover they're soulmates in their second year and struggle to keep it a secret from everyone.

They are both very bad at keeping secrets.

A Soulmate A.U. Fic that begins during the dueling club scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, survival is a talent runs parallel to canon while expanding or outright changing elements of the world of Harry Potter, putting more focus on several background characters, and dragging Draco Malfoy kicking and screaming through Character Development.


This fanfic provides examples of:

  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: During the battle in the Chamber of Secrets, Draco taunts Tom Riddle by calling him a "filthy half-breed mudblood."
  • Achievements in Ignorance:
    • Draco manages to win the favor of Nagini without even realizing that's what he's doing. When she starts following him around, he thinks she's trying to freak him out.
    • Harry doesn't even realize he acquired the permanent ability to breathe underwater until the school year after it happened.
    • Harry also manages astral projection without a) knowing that's a thing or b) how to do it, or that many people die from even attempting it.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The story expands or outright changes some aspects of the canon that were left unexplored.
    • Parseltongue is older and more prominent in India than in Britain, but gained a stigma thanks to dark wizards like Salazar Slytherin and Voldemort. In this story Harry inherited his Parselmouth status from his father's side of the family rather than his connection to Voldemort.
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    • House elves serve wizard families because they need a constant source of magic to survive.
    • There is a concrete reason why Harry can't pull out of the Triwizard Tournament: the Goblet of Fire is a powerful and ancient artifact that magically binds its chosen competitors. Since it's also illegal to destroy it, the only way for Harry to be free at all is to compete.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Justified with Draco Malfoy; by the end of second year and especially third year he's considerably more selfless and likable than he is in canon, but it took a soulmate bond with Harry and quite a bit of character development for him to get there, and it's made clear that it would not have been possible if he hadn't chosen to make an effort to be better.
    • Downplayed with Draco's parents; they are still forced to do Voldemort's bidding, but here it's all but stated they're only doing so out of fear for their son's safety if they rebel.
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  • Adapted Out: Crabbe and Goyle are only briefly mentioned when Draco explains they only hang around him due to a mutually beneficial agreement by their parents, and aren't really his friends. Beyond that, they never show up.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Draco experiences this a lot, thanks to his friendship with Harry. In later years, Sirius and Remus also suffer from it often, also thanks to Harry.
  • Animate Dead: Harry reanimates all of the basilisk's meals from hundreds of years to stop Umbridge from getting into the Chamber of Secrets.
  • Bad Powers, Good People:
    • Parseltongue is only regarded as a dark trait because of its association with Salazar Slytherin and Lord Voldemort. According to the Patil twins it used to be regarded as a sign of divine favor, and thus a point of pride among Indian wizards, but now those who are born with it keep it hidden to avoid the inevitable backlash.
    • Harry is a natural at necromancy, a type of magic that has more than earned its dark reputation.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: This is the reason for Nagini switching allegiances. Draco treats her leagues better than Voldemort and gives her actual attention, which is why she ends up ditching her old master.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Implied. The Mother who wrote the necromancy book Harry got from Slughorn, and whose skeleton guards the second copy, fits the description of Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova, from her appearance and outfit to the location to the time and age when she died. Whether or not this is a coincidence has yet to be confirmed.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": At one point Neville describes a marigold as spitting poison and having thorns and a gooey center, much to Harry's confusion.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Draco does this to his parents, his father especially, after Death Eaters attack the Quidditch World Cup.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The ghost-summoning spell, which Draco has been practicing for Quinn, saves Harry's life from Voldemort and his Death Eaters in the graveyard.
    • The leftover Polyjuice Potion from their second year comes in handy when the whole group has to break into the Department of Mysteries to rescue Snape while disguising that they've got the kids of known Death Eaters and Flitwick (an Order member) with them.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Harry, natch. Draco is starting to show signs as well, especially when he takes in Winky after Crouch abandons her, in spite of the resulting strain on his magic.
  • Costume Porn: The characters go all out for the Yule Ball. Even Ron gets this, thanks to Pansy fixing his dress robes. The Patil twins convince Harry to wear traditional Indian wizard robes, which causes a bit of a chain reaction when word spreads. Half-Japanese Luna goes in a kimono, and both Cedric and Cho wear Korean hanbok.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Lampshades by Draco who points out that he and Harry could have avoided their entire first-year rivalry if he'd just shook Draco's hand on the train in the first place.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Necromancy understandably has a rather poor reputation in-universe, but has nothing to do with dark magic, which require actual malevolent intent. Necromancy magic is usually an inborn talent, and the practitioners are refered to as Mothers, regardless of gender. Horace Slughorn of all people turns out to be one, and Harry discovers that he also has the same aptitude.
  • Death by Adaptation: Horace Slughorn is murdered offscreen under mysterious circumstances.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Dumbledore has this reaction when Lucius Malfoy punches Voldemort through the veil at the Department of Mysteries.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Draco manages to befriend Nagini, simply by treating her the same way he treats Abigail. Later on he also befriends Slytherin's basilisk.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Turns out it's not a good idea to convince a group of young wizards hand-picked for how powerful they are that the person they love most will die if they don't rescue them. Fleur does not take her loss well.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Nagini abandons Voldemort shortly after the horcrux inside her is destroyed, due to his abuse and ungratefulness, especially compared to the kindness she receives from Draco.
  • Drama Queen: According to Harry, all snakes he knows are dramatic, and he includes the Slytherins in that assessment.
  • The Dreaded: Played for Laughs with Ginny. All her brothers and Harry are terrified of her.
  • Everyone Can See It: Played with. More and more people around them catch on to the fact that Harry and Draco are in love, but they think it's a mutual Oblivious to Love situation while the two are actually very, very aware of it. Turns out things are not that simple; there was actually a whole betting pool going on about the nature of their relationship. Quinn and Flitwick, among others, figured out they were an item long before they went public with their relationship.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Though Harry and Draco technically become friends after first finding out about their connection, it's not until after the battle in the Chamber that they're able to resolve a lot of their previous issues and grow closer as a result.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Draco has a talent for magical inventions using his skill at charms.
  • Happily Adopted: Harry, by Remus and Sirius, after his fourth year.
  • He Knows Too Much: Due to bad luck, poor timing, and a lack of communication, Draco stumbles upon Ginny while she's possessed by the diary; as a result, he gets dragged down to the Chamber with her.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Draco, obviously, along with his Slytherin friends, thanks to influence from Harry and the others.
Nagini, after befriending Draco.
  • After the Department of Mysteries, Draco's parents and aunt Sophia switch sides.
  • Heel Realization: Draco realizes that Millicent Bulstrode and all the half-blood and muggleborn students in Slytherin are in just as much danger of being attacked as those in other houses.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Deliberately invoked by Harry during the Triwizard Tournament. He isn't competing by choice and has no interest in winning, because he hates being praised for things he didn't do on purpose, especially since his unwilling entry is taking attention and acclaim away from the actual champions. He even helps with Draco's "Potter Stinks" campaign, and convinces his entire house to wear the buttons in support of Cedric.
    Harry: I’m not their golden boy, I’m a kid who’s sick of people trying to kill me.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Because of the expectations of their families and peers, Draco, Pansy, and Blaise hide their friendship with the Gryffindors and feign contempt for Muggles and non-purebloods. Draco is especially careful about his pureblood reputation, which is threatened by his Character Development and desire to prevent innocent people from dying.
  • Magic Eater: It turns out that house elves are a benign version of this. They used to subsist on ambient magic in the environment, but now that there are fewer magical forests in existence, they survive by binding themselves to magically powerful families. So in a way they are being paid, though the system is far from ideal for either half of the arrangement; house elves are vulnerable to abuse by their masters, and wizards cannot use their own magic to protect themselves should a house elf turn on them.
  • Mama Bear: Molly Weasley, obviously, but Narcissa Malfoy is also more than ready to wipe out anything that harms her son.
  • Mirror Chracter:
    • Harry and Draco turn out to be this, although how much is in their nature and how much is their influence on each other is debatable. They're both passionate about Quidditch, worry about their loved ones' safety while jumping headlong into life-threatening danger themselves, and share a special connection to snakes.
    • Draco and Hermione are both very smart, studious people who can rant and argue about class-related subjects for ages. Harry actually describes Draco as a mean version of Hermione early in the story. Later on, their respective friends are happy to throw them at each other during study sessions so they won't have to listen to their rants.
  • One True Love: Averted, despite the in-universe myth about soulmates being this, it's specifically pointed out that a soul bond is just a chance at a lifelong relationship, still requires a lot of work to blossom, may never go beyond close friendship and can even fail. Examples include Cedric and Tonks as well as Lily and Snape. Not to mention McGonagall and a pre-evil Tom Riddle.
  • Necromancer: Harry has a natural talent for necromancy. Dobby and Winky claim it is because in their own words "Miss Death is in his shadow."
  • Never Gets Drunk: Ron. He out-drinks everyone but Viktor Krum. And then he out-drinks Krum when they have a rematch.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Veelas have no effect on people with soulmates; when they come out on the field during the Quidditch World Cup, Harry, Bill, and the twins are the only ones in their group who don't react.
  • The Not-Love Interest: In spite of Harry's connection to Draco, Ron is still considered Harry's most precious person in the second trial of the Triwizard Tournament. Harry explains that it's because Ron was his first friend after a lonely childhood, and everything and everyone he has now is because Ron first approached him on the Hogwarts Express their first year.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Cho Chang's real first name is Eun-hae.
  • Opposites Attract: Subverted with Harry and Draco, who turn out to be similar, but played straight with Percy and Tonks.
  • Pet the Dog: Draco is a lot kinder here than in canon, but his friendship with Luna is especially noticeable because it's the one genuine friendship he has outside of his own house that he makes no effort to hide. A stand-out moment is when he goes to make sure she's all right when dementors are on the train.
  • Polyamory: Dumbledore, Nicholas Flamel and Perenelle are revealed to be romantically involved, and have been ever since Dumbledore was in his 30's (they still refer to him as their "young man") much to the shock and amusement of Harry.
  • Poor Communication Kills: This time it's not just Harry that takes the threat of losing his most precious person at face value in the second trial. The judges still think of it as a simple contest, but the champions don't take it well, especially Fleur.
  • Race Lift: Within canon, Harry, Hermione, Luna and Nicholas are all white. Here, Harry is of Indian descent, Hermione is black, and Luna is half Japanese. Nicholas is said to have parents that originated from modern day China, making him ethnically Chinese.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The second trial ends with Fleur attacking the judges because she thinks her failure cost Gabrielle her life.
  • Running Gag:
    • The gang's constant lack of sleep thanks to their secret late-night meetups. Usually, whenever they're already stressed and running on no sleep, yet another task gets thrown into their crammed schedules.
    • Post-Tournament Harry comparing any scary or dangerous situation to dueling Voldemort while being tied to a tombstone and deciding it's not that bad after all. Sometimes other characters join in on the comparison.
  • Harry getting more and more casual (and playfully rude) every time he walks into McGonagall's office.
  • Secret-Keeper: Only Ron, Hermione, Blaise, and Pansy know about Draco and Harry being soulmates. Very few people outside of their group even know that they're friends.
  • Secret Relationship: George Weasley is in one with Cassius (a Slytherin). Harry and Draco keep their soulmate connection a secret, and in fourth year they officially start dating.
  • Skewed Priorities: Played for Laughs when Rita Skeeter publishes an article accusing Hermione of sleeping around with the Triwizard Champions. Hermione and Fleur are more resentful of the fact that the article left Fleur out of Hermione's list of supposed paramours than of the article itself.
  • Sky Surfing: Fleur is the captain of Beauxbatons' gliding team, and rides a broom like a surfboard.
  • The Smart Guy: Draco and Hermione are the most obvious examples, but everyone in their True Companions embody it to an extent. Ron is unbeatable at chess and shows prodigious potential for alchemy, Blaise likes herbology and can apparently hold his own against Ron at chess, Pansy excels at transfiguration, and Harry is the best in their year at Defense Against the Dark Arts.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Cedric survives the tournament.
    • The basilisk survived the events of Chamber Of Secrets (and was not blinded) due to the battle unfolding differently, and is found alive and well when Draco and Harry reopen the chamber to use for the dueling club in Year 4.
    • Sirius doesn't fall through the veil at the Department of Mysteries.
  • Spotting the Thread: Neville starts to find out about the Chimeras when he sees Harry use the gillyweed that Blaise stole from Professor Sprout. Rather than try to maintain the lie, Harry brings him to their next hangout because he realizes that Neville is smart enough to work it out on his own eventually.
  • Stacy's Mom: Blaise's mother Zaira is so stunning even kids in her son's generation find her attractive, including Draco (who used to have a Precocious Crush on her) and Harry himself.
  • Summon Bigger Fish:
    • When faced with the basilisk in the Chamber, Draco uses Serpensortia to summon a wyvern to help Harry fight it.
    • When a horde of Dementors appear in Diagon Alley, Harry ends up summoning a massive patronus that outright destroys most of them rather than just driving them off, a feat that is normally seen as virtually impossible. It also almost depletes the ranks of Voldemort-loyal dementors.
  • Teen Genius:
    • Harry has so much raw magic power he manages to create an unrestrained patronus, leading to a Curb-Stomp Battle against Voldemort's dementors—a skill only a few old masters have managed. And then there's his natural talent for necromancy…
    • Draco exhibits exceptional talent for healing and charms, and his material manipulation gets him published in a scientific Charms journal as the youngest person ever. Twice.
    • Ron is unbeatable at strategy games to the point where he can stand his own (and win) against the Flamels.
    • Quinn is simply the best potions student in the entire school, leading to zir becoming the youngest potions master ever at seventeen and coming back to Hogwarts as a teacher straight after graduation.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Draco, and to a lesser extent Pansy and Blaise.
  • True Companions: The "Chimeras" (Harry, Draco, Ron, Hermione, Pansy, and Blaise) by the end of third year.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Unsurprisingly, Petunia and Vernon Dursley are soulmates. No one ever said only good people had soulmates.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Draco and Hermione end up getting along rather well after finding common ground in their studies, though they spend a lot of time yelling at each other over charms casting and arithmancy formulas. Harry, Ron, Pansy, and Blaise are just happy that they're ranting at each other instead of the rest of them.
  • "Well Done, Dad!" Guy: Lucius Malfoy has the chance to kill Harry in the graveyard, but lets him escape (at great personal risk) because he wants his son to be proud of him. Overlaps with Even Evil Has Standards when he also admits he was hesitant to kill a boy the same age as his son.
  • Wild Teen Party: Draco and Blaise organize one in the Shrieking Shack after the first trial of the Triwizard Tournament, inviting all four houses (fourth years and up) as well as the students from Durmstrang and Beauxbaton.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 15, where Harry discovers that Lily and Snape weren't just childhood friends, they were soulmates
    • Chapter 17: Lucius and several other Death Eaters turn on Voldemort, with Lucius destroying his new body by knocking him through the Veil in the Department of Mysteries, reducing him to a spirit again. Draco discovers that Mc Gonagall's soul-mate was Tom Riddle, before he turned truly evil
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Draco is increasingly frustrated as more and more people figure out that he's a kind and selfless person behind the front he puts up. Ginny Weasley is fond of reminding him.