I almost had to do a double take. Draco Malfoy? This poor, ragged, tired looking young man could not possibly be the same Malfoy that my older brother Neville had constantly told me about. The Draco Malfoy I heard countless stories of was arrogant, wealthy and a downright snob and pig. I looked at him, a little shocked but he spoke before I got a chance, “I know what you are thinking. I have gotten that reaction countless times, poor pureblood Malfoy, what on earth happened to him -”
I cut him off this time; “I thought the Ministry sent you to Azkaban.”
Draco cringed at the last word I spoke and held a pained look on his face upon recalling his experiences. He quietly spoke, still fiddling with the blanket, “They did.”
“So what are you doing out on the streets?” I asked.
“They let me go. Someone vouched for me,” Draco stated, still not meeting my gaze and speaking rather quietly, almost afraid of me.
I bit my lip, wondering who on earth would vouch for him after his two years in Azkaban. Then he slowly got up, setting the blankets down on the couch and grabbing his coat from where he left it on the chair. I watched him curiously, wondering what he was doing. He mentioned, putting on his coat, “I realize I have intruded on your home and I will just be on my way because you obviously do not want me here.”
But before he could even take a step towards the door, I stopped him, even despite the protests my brain was making, “I never said I was kicking you out.”
“No, but we both know very well what I have done and that I am better off out there freezing to death-” He stated seriously, heading towards the front door.
I sighed, wishing I could listen to the protests in my brain but I could not let him leave in the middle of the night in the freezing cold. “Look, you can’t just go out there in the middle of the night. At least stay until morning.”
Draco looked at me; meeting me with those agony filled grey eyes, “You’re sure?”
I nodded, stating firmly, “I am.”
He looked surprised at my interest in his well-being, as if I was the first person to not turn him away because of his dark past. I said nothing more and turn off the lamp, saying before heading back to bed, “Goodnight.”
As I walked to my room, I heard him softly respond, “Night.”
I crawled back into the warmth of my quilt-covered bed and curled up, thinking about what had just happened. Neville would surely kill me if he knew what I was doing. Gran would disown me even further than she already had. In her eyes, I was already nothing because of what happened when I was young. I closed my eyes, trying to block the painful memories from my mind. But all I could see were distant images of their faces, looking at me and she was crying, reaching out for me. All I wanted to do was find one memory, just one that was happy before the attack, before the pain and the suffering of seeing them in St. Mungo’s. All my memories of them were painful and sad.
The next morning, I got up, showered and dressed in my clothes for work before entering the main room of my apartment, finding Draco sitting on the couch, the blankets folded and set aside. He seemed to be a little lost as to what to do or say, as if my apartment was a foreign land to him. Knowing he held a pureblood background with an aristocratic family, he probably had never seen anything close to a muggle styled room or appliances. I offered, startling him a little, “You can use the shower if you want.”
Draco didn’t move for a moment as if questioning everything in his mind but then he stood, walking towards the bathroom and I heard the door shut and the shower turn on within seconds. I started preparing some toast and eggs and just as I finished making breakfast, he came out of the bathroom. He was still wearing the same ragged clothing but his face and skin definitely looked cleaner. I handed him a plate of food but he stared curiously as I started scrubbing dishes with a soapy rag in the sink. I glanced back at him, catching his very confused expression. Then he dared to ask the one question that everyone had asked me in time, “why not just use magic to do all that?”
I responded quietly, not looking at him as I continued washing dishes, “I don’t have magic. I was born a squib.”
Draco said nothing for a moment but stated, “But your family is pureblood-”
I shrugged, “Every family has flaws somewhere.”
He said nothing more and ate his food; almost like this was the first meal he had had in months. I assumed this meal was probably was. I asked curiously, “How long have you been out on the streets?”
“I think four months, I kind of lost track of the days,” He softly said.
I nodded and finished the dishes before grabbing my coat and putting on my boots. As I walked to the door, he followed me out and I mentioned, “I could try to get you a place in our shelter today but I am afraid chances are slim.”
He shrugged and we walked down the icy sidewalk towards my work. I greeted my coworker Lyla as we walked in and I left Draco in the waiting area as I went back to my boss. Mr. Fletcher was at his desk, filing paperwork and noticed me, “Ah, Miss Longbottom, how did the night go?”
“Fairly well actually. Look, the guy who stayed at my home is Draco Malfoy and he got released from Azkaban. How long has he been out?” I asked.
“Four months,” Mr. Fletcher answered quickly, “He has no magical abilities anymore. The ministry demolished his wand before his imprisonment and stripped him of any magical ability. After his release, he had five months to seek a program in learning to live like a muggle and he only has one month left to prove his capability. However,-”
I concluded, knowing exactly what had happened, “No program will take him because of his death eater background except ours because ours is the only one that will deal with former dark wizards.”
“Exactly,” Mr. Fletcher nodded, returning to his paperwork.
I asked persistently, “So is there something we can do for him? I know our program is full for the month but there has to be some way.”
“Well, unless someone offers to train him, I am afraid our hands are full,” Mr. Fletcher sighed, looking at me.
I couldn’t believe it. How could anyone be so unwilling to help someone? It wasn’t like Draco was out to hex anyone. He had no power now and after last night, I had a feeling he was just counting days until he was returned to Azkaban because he could not find a program to take him in. I shook my head in disbelief and walked out to the main lobby, Mr. Fletcher following me, spoke, “Look, Miss Longbottom, if you are willing to train him, I will gladly pay you for your time but if he wanted help, he would have come long ago.”
I whirled around, stating strongly, “Our business is supposed to help people and you just want to sit in your office all day and do nothing.”
Mr. Fletcher looked a little shocked at my change in demeanor. He handed me a folder of papers and stated, “Then prove me wrong and get Mr. Malfoy up to speed on how his new life will work and if get that accomplished, I will hear anything you have to say about improving our program.”
I nodded, “I will prove you wrong.”
I walked over to where Draco was sitting in a chair, staring at the wall, not saying anything, acting uninterested. He looked up upon seeing me and I mentioned, “I am going to be in charge of your case from the looks of things. I have paperwork for you to fill out first.”
He nodded and I led him to my office. He looked around at the bookshelves and the couple photographs I had of my brother and I. I handed him the first basic forms of information and he filled them out quickly. I noticed he stopped upon the blank for family relations. He slid the paper back to me, leaving the family space blank. I asked curiously, “There isn’t anyone?”
He shook his head, his eyes averting to the floor and for a moment, I thought I saw tears in his eyes but he quickly blinked them away. I filed the paperwork in the cabinet and added, “I suppose we can start with using muggle transportation to get around London and getting you some clothes. Is that alright with you for a start?”
Draco shrugged and I sighed, saying seriously, “Look, you have one month to prove yourself to the Minister of Magic that this will work out for you. You could at least act like you care a little about starting over.”
“I don’t,” He stated bitterly.
I met his cold gaze, seeing the pools of grey filled with fear and remorse. Then I caught a small glimpse of the Draco Malfoy I had been told about, the one who put up a concrete wall to keep everyone out. I also saw the Draco who did not want help with anything. I stood, grabbing my bookbag and he looked at me confused, “Where are you going?”
“Home,” I stated, pushing my chair under my desk, “I have better things to do than watch you throw yourself a pity party, Draco. Unless you are willing to try, I cannot do much for you. I can teach you the tricks of the trade but in the end, what matters most is your heart in this and your desire to live your new life as a person without magic. Right now, I am seeing zero desire.”
As I walked to my office door, he said nothing but as I walked towards the front door, I heard him walking after me. He spoke, stopping me, “I’m not used to asking for help.”
I turned around and he looked at me, saying, “And I am not used to having someone who really is interested in helping me, but you are and I know I need your help.”
I nodded, “Okay, then I suppose we can start.”
We started walking down the street to the bus stop and I dug in my pocket for some change. He asked as I handed him the right amount, “What’s this stuff?”
“Muggle money,” I shrugged, “It works a lot like wizard money actually.”
We got on the bus and sat down in our seats. Draco fidgeted uncomfortably for a moment, not used to this new form of transportation. We got out at the first stop near a store. I led him inside and I stated quietly, noticing the other customers, “Shopping for non wizarding clothes is a little different. There aren’t people that fit you or adjust things unless you go to a high-end shop. Here you need to try things on and if it doesn’t fit, try another size.”
But before I could explain anything else, Draco surprised me by instantly starting to search the racks of jeans and shirts. He noticed my surprised look. He stated, sounding a lot more like the Draco that my brother had told me of, “I’m not a child you know, I can pick out my own clothing. If it’s one thing I didn’t like before, it was the tailor made clothing, the stuffy was bloody uncomfortable.”
I nodded and let him try on a few things before deciding on a couple pairs of jeans and long sleeved shirts. When we returned back to my apartment, he changed into a new pair of jeans and a dark green long sleeved shirt. Once I finished making some sandwiches, we sat in the living room, eating and Draco asked curiously, surprising me by his sudden interest in my life, “So, how come you’re bothering to do all this?”
I swallowed, saying honestly, “I like giving people second chances.”
His grey eyes looked up at me, piercing straight into my soul, trying to unlock the depths of me that I never let people touch. He knew there was more. I bit my lip, averting my gaze and concentrating on a small tear in the carpet. Draco sensed he hit a tender subject and quickly averted the conversation, “Your boss seems rather difficult.”
“He likes to assign me the hard projects, the people he doesn’t think can make it in the muggle world,” I stated.
“How many successes?” He asked.
“Three out of four, I’ve only worked for him about a year,” I shrugged.
He nodded and I got up to wash the dishes, returning to find him glancing back at the old picture of my brother and me on the wall. I questioned, “You went to school with my older brother, right?”
Draco nodded, not saying anything in response at first but then he commented, “Course I’m not sure anyone knew he had a sister.”
I nodded, knowing that would be true. My existence had been a secret for so many reasons. I mentioned quietly, “No, not many do know, even today.”
Draco looked at me with a glint of compassion. I fiddled with the fringe on a burgundy colored throw pillow on the black couch. All those painful childhood memories came flooding back to me at once and I blinked away the tears, trying to push them back to the dusty corners of my brain. We sat there in silence. Something had connected us and I could feel it. He had spent years of living up to expectations for his family, and I for mine. He knew what it felt like to fail; to be useless and like you will never fit in. I just wished that for once in my life, I could do something worthwhile in their eyes. Because from day one, all I ever did was mess things up, even with my parents.
a/n: So thanks to all who reviewed and read the last chapter! I am slowly getting back into the swing of things. Again, I am open for any constructive critque or suggestions :) Thanks for reading! :)
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