Chapter 1 : ...nargles?
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“Do you mind if I sit here?” the girl asks in an ethereal voice, gesturing to the empty seat across from him. He shakes his head infinitesimally and she sits down with a relieved smile. “Thanks... it’s just that either everywhere else is taken or no one really wants me sitting with them.” Draco rolls his open eye and closes it. Something’s wrong with her, he decides.
He hears the rustle of a magazine being taken out and opens his eye again, just a little, out of curiosity to see what this strange person would read. “LUCIUS MALFOY ARRESTED!!” screams the headline, accompanied by a large photograph. “COULD IT BE NARGLES??” In shock, Draco opens his second eye and sits up a little. The girl looks over the top of her magazine and smiles.
“What’s that magazine got to say about my father?” he asks, not expecting an answer. The girl raises her eyebrows, evidently surprised that she is sitting in the same compartment as Lucius Malfoy’s son.
Draco reaches over and grabs the deluded publication from her hands and she sighs sadly. He leans back into his previous position and turns to the page advertised. “‘Lucius Malfoy has been arrested for reasons unknown to the general public... except us here at the Quibbler.’” Draco pauses in his reading to snort. “The Quibbler? Load of rubbish.” Out of the corner of his eye, he can see the girl shift uncomfortably. He continues. “‘He was taken away so suddenly that his arrest seems unreasonably easy-- one would at least expect a fight. Therefore, we can only guess, of course, but the likeliest explanation is nargles.’” He stops again. “What the bloody hell’s a nargle?” The girl begins to answer, but Draco waves an irritated hand and she quiets. He scans the rest of the article with his eyes, laughs scornfully, and flips the magazine into her lap. “The things you can find in magazines these days...”
The girl straightens indignantly and clears her throat. “My father is the editor of the Quibbler, you know. And that is an extremely good reason for your father to be arrested-- in fact, I’m positive that nargles managed to control the minds of--”
“Look!” Draco says suddenly, sitting up. “It’s really lovely that your father’s the editor of the Quibbler, it’s delightful that nargles can control people’s minds and such, but my father has not been arrested and you’re mad! It’s that simple.”
The girl, surprisingly enough, doesn’t reply. She looks away sadly and sighs again. Somehow, that infuriates Draco even more.
“I seriously doubt that my father could have been abducted by nargles in the twenty minutes that I haven’t seen him for! And what’s more, I--”
“I understand.” Her voice is quiet, but firm. He looks at her then, startled by her resistance. She’s looking out of the window, the bucolic countryside flashing by reflected in her eyes. He finds her beautiful in that one moment... but is instantly ashamed of it and decides to forget that feeling immediately. Why does he feel bad for hurting her feelings, but not anyone else’s that he’s hurt?
“What’s your name?” Draco asks on a whim. She turns back to him and her eyes begin to warm again.
He nods. “I’m Draco Malfoy.”
They quiet and don’t speak again for a few minutes. The silence is broken by Lovegood laughing softly to herself. Draco raises an eyebrow.
“What’s so funny, Lovegood?”
She smiles. “I was just remembering this story that Harry told me once--”
“Harry Potter?” Draco punches himself inwardly. Of course, this girl is exactly the kind of person Potter would have enlisted in his pathetic little army.
“Yes, about Professor Moody and a ferret--”
Draco yelps and sits up. “A ferret?”
“I know exactly what happened, thank you, now tell me everything he told you!” Draco says, his normally stiff-upper-lip attitude vanishing.
“I don’t know why you’re so troubled by this,” Lovegood says. “He just told me that Professor Moody got in a lot of trouble for bouncing a ferret up and down.”
Draco sighs and leans back. “Good... at least that won’t get out again.”
Before he can even think, his mouth moves of its own accord and lets out one of his most embarrassing secrets. “The ferret was me.”
Lovegood’s eyes widen in shock and a grin spreads across her face.
“Don’t you dare start laughing.”
She hiccups and quiets again.
They don’t speak for another few minutes.
Eventually, Draco decides that he’s not going to sleep on this train, not with this oddity in the compartment with him, and swings his legs over the side of the cushion so that he’s sitting normally, facing Lovegood. She smiles and fixes him with her extraordinary eyes and he instantly feels uncomfortable, so he turns to look out the window.
“Really? How did that happen?”
Draco looks at Lovegood irritatedly. “Does it matter?” When she hesitates, he nods. “Exactly. It’s an embarrassing story that I have no desire whatsoever to tell.”
She shrugs. “Well, if you ever find yourself wanting to tell it, I’m always here.”
He looks at her then, his face showing an intriguing mix of wonder and vexation.
She smiles. “You’re not such a bad person, you know.”
Draco smirks. “I’m not such a good person, either.”
Lovegood shrugs. “You could be.”
He scoffs. “I’m sure I could, but the problem is that I don’t want to be.”
“It’s not too late to try,” she suggests.
They don’t say anything else for a little bit, and then the compartment door slides open again.
“Um, Draco?” It’s someone Draco barely knows, but he nods in acknowledgment. “Pansy wants to see you, and you know how she can get when no one gives her what she wants.”
And in that instant, Draco Malfoy makes what seems to him the biggest decision of the year for the strange but pleasant girl he just met sitting across from him, even though he has yet to get to know her.
“Tell Pansy she can wait.”
F I N