Granger wakes me up on Wednesday morning to say goodbye to me before she leaves. I groan, reluctant to be pulled out of precious sleep. I refuse to open my eyes, but I smile at the feeling of her lips pressing against my forehead. I reach my arms out to grab hold of her. She laughs into my neck, eliciting a laugh from me. I hold her there for a long moment before letting her go, wishing that she wasn’t just about to leave me to spend the day with my least favourite person alive.
“Draco, I have to go,” she insists, pulling away from me.
“Come on, Ace,” I mumble groggily. “You almost never get a day off. Stay here.”
“We talked about this. I promise the next day off that I get will be all yours. But today I really have to go. You’ll have fun with Harry, don’t worry.”
I sigh. “Fine. I’ll see you tonight?”
“Of course.” She gives me a long, soft kiss that stops my heart before disappearing from the room. It takes me a moment to catch my breath. There’s no way I can fall back asleep after that. I lay there in a haze then drag myself out of the bed. I open my closet and pull out some clothes and carry them to the bathroom to take my shower. When I walk past Potter’s bedroom, the door is cracked open and he can be seen still asleep in his bed. I take a quick shower and head back to my room. I hear a strange noise coming from my closet which I had left open.
I go over to my closet to investigate. Granger’s cat is rummaging through the contents of a box that he knocked over. I notice him playing with one of the spare buttons for my coat, but before I can grab it he snatches it up in his mouth. He starts choking on it, so I immediately pick him up. I know there’s a spell to clear his airway, but I can’t remember it. Of course, I figured I would never need to use it so I didn’t care to memorize it. I take the cat and burst into Potter’s room, scaring him out of his deep sleep. He reaches for his glasses and looks around wildly.
“Potter, help me! You have to help me! You have to fix it!” I babble frantically, holding the cat in front of his face. The cat is still making soft coughing sounds. “Crookshanks was messing around in the closet and swallowed something! Now he’s choking! What’s the spell to clear his airway!? Why can’t I remember it!? You have to do something!”
“What are y-“
“You have to do something! There are a lot of ways that I can ruin this relationship, but I am not going to lose her because I killed her hideous cat! Fix it!” I shove the cat in his face.
He quickly reaches for his wand and points it at the cat. “Anapneo.”
The cat violently coughs once more, causing the spare button to fall to the floor next to the bed. He shakes his head around then simply jumps off the bed and trots off. I stare off after him in disbelief. She leaves me alone for a few minutes and already something goes terribly wrong. Before the thought fully forms in my mind, I run back into my room and slam the closet door shut. I definitely don’t need a replay of that anytime soon. I turn around to see Potter standing in my doorway, his hair sticking up all over the place as he rubs his eyes.
“I’m awake now,” he mutters grumpily.
“Um, yeah, sorry about that. But since you’re awake you might as well get dressed. I have some serious Quidditch-related shopping to do today.”
“If I didn’t know better, I’d say this whole fiasco with Crookshanks was just a ploy to get me out of bed so we could leave.”
“Oh, please, Potter. Give me a little credit. There are much more creative ways to wake you up than almost killing an innocent animal.”
“Whatever. I’m taking a shower. Try not to kill anyone until I’m done.”
I sneer at the back of his head as he shuffles sleepily back down the hallway toward the bathroom. I finish getting ready to leave and then step out into the hall. Crookshanks is pawing at the bathroom door. I stand there staring at the pathetic image for a moment before walking over to him. I sit on the floor, leaning back against the bathroom door, and pull the cat onto my lap. I listen to the sound of the water running behind me as I stroke his soft fur.
I continue to pet him absentmindedly as I get lost in thought. This is definitely something I catch myself doing a lot lately. My mind seems to be a dark world all of its own that I’m constantly getting lost somewhere deep within. A blackhole that pulls me in without mercy and won’t release me. A complete mystery with no way to solve it. Sometimes I come across things in my own mind that I don’t recognize, as if the memories and thoughts belong to someone else. But I can never resist the allure of what I may find. I take the hand of the stranger and allow him to lead me into the darkness, never knowing where he will take me.
I am only pulled back into reality’s light by the squeaking of the faucets in the bathroom as the water turns off. I realize that it might look a bit strange that I’m sitting outside the bathroom, but there’s no time to move. Potter opens the bathroom door. I can feel the heat tumbling out of the room as the steam drifts out into the hallway. I twist my head around to look up at Potter, who is staring down at me with a furrowed brow.
“What are you doing?” Potter asks, his tone suggesting that I’ve completely lost my mind.
I laugh, realizing how it must look to him. I clutch the cat close to my chest as I stand up. “Um, I was just petting the cat. I feel he deserves it after the trauma he experienced earlier.”
Potter laughs at me, shaking his head as he turns to go back to his room. I carry the cat with me as I follow him. I lean against the door frame, scratching the cat behind the ears, as I watch Potter. He dries his hair with his wand, but does not bother to comb it. He ruffles his hair with his hand and leaves it at that. I laugh to myself at his trademark unkempt hair. As he sits on the floor and he pulls his shoes on, he glances up and notices me watching him.
“What?” he asks.
“Nothing,” I reply quickly. I try to focus on something else, but I keep coming back to him. I continue to stare at him, imagining where we were many years before. I remember holding my hand out to him – his hair still disheveled, his clothes far too large for him, and his broken glasses taped together – and he rejected it without a second thought. Now I look down at him as he finishes tying his laces and, in my eyes, he hasn’t changed much at all. I put the cat down and walk over to him. I hold out my hand to him once more. He stares up at me for a moment before taking it, allowing me to help pull him up from the floor. We stare at each other for an awkward moment.
“Ready to go?” He gestures toward the door behind me. I nod, following him out. We Apparate to Diagon Alley. We walk in silence until we reach the sign that says Quality Quidditch Supplies. My heart lifts at the sight of the window display. My father and I never did many activities together, so I always hold on to the memory of him teaching me how to fly and going to Quidditch matches together. We head inside and the owner immediately comes out of the back room at the sound of the bell on the door chiming.
“Ah, Harry!” the owner exclaims. “Back again, I see! Two days in a row!”
“Well, you know me, I just can’t stay away,” Potter says politely.
“Anything in particular I can help you young men find today?”
“Not this time, but we’ll let you know.”
The owner gives each of us a polite nod and disappears into the back room once more. I take a moment to admire the new broom display. Potter wanders off to another corner of the shop. I examine the newest broomstick model. The owner comes back out from the back room and takes notice of my admiration. He appears by my side.
“Isn’t this one a beauty?” he says. “The Nimbus Racing Broom Company never seems to disappoint, do they? This one is the Nimbus Storm. The Storm here has an acceleration of one hundred and seventy miles per hour in ten seconds with revolving stirrups and an unbreakable charm. It even comes with its own special Broomstick Servicing Kit that is specific to this model. It doesn’t get much better than this. I’d get one for myself if it wasn’t such a heavy price.”
He takes another moment to admire the broom before walking off to talk to Potter. The shaft of the broom is sleek and black with an eccentric, silver design spiraling all around the length to the end and shimmering silver stirrups. The head of the broom is made up of long bristles that are straight and smooth. The bristles are silver but fade into a vibrant blue at the tips. Potter shows up with the owner at my side.
“Very impressive,” Potter remarks. “This sign says you can even get them in different colours?”
“Only the tips of the bristles,” the owner says. “Blue is the official colour, but you can pay extra to customize it if you wish.”
“I think blue is the perfect colour for it. It looks great. Don’t you think so, Draco?”
“I want one,” I say simply, more thinking out loud than actually speaking to anyone.
“It’s quite expensive, young man,” the owner warns.
“It doesn’t matter,” I tell him, turning to face him. “I want one.”
“Very well. Would you like me to charge it to your family’s account?”
“Yes, sir. And make it green instead.” I look back at the broom proudly as the owner walks off.
“Um, don’t you think you should have talked to your father first? How are you going to explain such a large purchase to him?” Potter says.
“Father will be fine with it, Potter,” I assure him. “I’ve known him my whole life. I know how to handle this. Besides, I want one. If Father were here he would have insisted on buying it for me.”
“If you say so,” he mutters, glancing at the broom. “It is rather exquisite I suppose.”
I watch him for a long moment as he admires the broomstick. “I’ll be right back. I’m going to make sure he has all of the proper account information.”
“Alright, I’ll be here.”
I walk over to the owner, who is wrapping up a green version of the new broomstick. “Can you have this sent to the manor for me?”
“Of course, sir,” the owner smiles politely.
“Thank you. I would like you to do the same with a blue one.”
The owner regards me with wide eyes. “You want two of them? Are you sure?”
“Alright, both brooms and service kits will be at your house by the end of the day. They have been successfully charged to your family account.”
I walk back over to where Potter is standing. We both take one last look around the shop before making our way back out onto Diagon Alley. Potter leads me to the large and brightly coloured shop with the sign reading Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. I had always heard about all of the things that were sold in this shop, but because it was owned by the Weasleys I didn’t feel comfortable going inside. I follow closely behind Potter as he wonders through the shop.
“Ah, Harry!” a voice says from above. We both look up to see the one remaining Weasley twin standing on an upstairs landing in a magenta robe. “Been a while since I’ve seen you in here. See you brought a guest.”
“Hello, George,” Potter says cheerfully. “Draco and I were just over at the Quidditch supplies shop and I thought he’d like to check out your place.”
“Well, come on up and I’ll give you the grand tour.” Potter leads me up the staircase to the landing. George, who I never would have known the name of if Potter hadn’t said it, gestures to the rest of the shop. The entire shop is easily visible from up here. “Well, let’s see. There are some Canary Creams if you feel like turning into a canary or it comes in handy for getting someone else out of your way for a time if you can trick them into eating it. Extendable Ears – a must have for all professional eavesdroppers. Perhaps a Portable Swamp. Trick wands are always entertaining.”
“What do they do?” I ask as I gawk at the shop. There are objects all around the room of bright colours, some flying around the room, others making loud noises.
“Wave the wand and it will turn into something else. Can’t tell ya what it’ll turn into though. Over there are some Punching telescopes –“
“Hermione won’t ever let you forget that one,” Potter laughs.
“I tried to warn her,” George says, then continues pointing to different products around the shop. “Over there are some of our quills. There are Smart-Answer Quills, Self Inking Quills, and Spell Checking Quills – but they don’t always work how you’d expect.”
“Doesn’t seem like anything in here works as one would expect,” I mutter over all the noise.
“Well isn’t that the point?” George says, proudly looking over the shop.
“What is that section over there?” I point to a section just below the landing.
“Oh, those just a few defence items. You know, Decoy Detonators, Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder, objects that are incorporated with a Shield Charm, the basics. And if you look over there, that’s where the Love Potions and Pygmy Puffs are. I hear our very own Hermione has got a bit of a Love Potion effect on you, Mr. Malfoy.” George raises an eyebrow at me, accompanied by a knowing smile.
“Who told you that?” I ask, glaring at Potter.
“Ron,” George says unexpectedly. “Little brother was in here just the other day raving about it.”
“Are you still trying to convince him to join you here at the shop?” Potter inquires, thankfully changing the subject away from my relationships.
“Yeah, but the git insists that he wants to continue being an Auror.” George shakes his head and shrugs. “Seems he can’t get that idea of yours out of his head. But hey, I hear you managed to break free of the long list of Ministry employees.”
“My resignation was made official yesterday. How did you hear?”
“Oh, everyone’s been talking about it. Ministry must have let it slip that the famous Harry Potter was leaving his job. I bet Hermione wasn’t too keen on this plan of yours.”
“She put up a bit of a struggle, but she came around.”
“You happy with this decision then, are you?”
“Very happy. I’m confident that this was the right choice for me. Sorry that I can’t convince Ron to do the same for you.”
“Well, he’s the one who is missing out, isn’t he? Hey, Harry, if you ever feel like coming and working here you always have a job. You definitely earned a place here after getting the whole thing started and all.”
“Thanks, George, I’ll think about it.”
I am only half listening to their conversation at this point. I continue to look around the shop. An object nearly hits me as if flies through the air. There are large barrels of sweets scattered throughout the shop. There are large lollipops that look delicious, but I am sure that they have some sort of tragic outcome when eaten, so I keep my distance. I move to get a closer look at one of the nearby barrels. My stomach flips uncomfortably.
“Hey, Malfoy, find something interesting?” George says, coming up behind me. “Oh, those. They’re called Edible Dark Marks. Not the most creative name, I know. Erm, sorry, I must have forgotten they were there.”
“It’s fine, i-it doesn’t matter,” I force out, staring at the disturbingly shaped candy. I turn to look at Potter, knowing he can read the expression on my face. “I think I want to go home now."