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Wayward Son by La Klap

Format: Novel
Chapters: 11
Word Count: 76,402
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Romance, Angst, Young Adult
Characters: OC
Pairings: OC/OC, Draco/Pansy, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione

First Published: 10/20/2006
Last Chapter: 04/10/2008
Last Updated: 04/10/2008

Summary:
(Credit for the banner goes to the wonderful Alora.)
HPFF Recommended Story March 2007





Unwanted, unexpected and nearly unborn, but he's ignorant of it all. Join Draco Malfoy's son in an emotional rollercoaster ride through Hogwarts, starting in his fifth year, until he confronts his father. Does his father consider him a son? Or not a person at all? (not compatible with the DH epilogue)


Chapter 5: Chapter Four: Not Over

Disclaimer: Everything you recognise belongs to the wonderful J.K. Rowling. I thank her for being allowed to play with her characters and create my own little world with them. The name ‘Alucard’ was inspired by the Castlevania game series.

Author's Notes: As of 01/25/07, this story has had some upgrades in regards to themes. I've decided that all the 'Mild' ratings I had given should be 'Strong'. I'm very sorry if this inconviniences anybody, but it had to be done because otherwise I'd have to upgrade the rating, too. :( Thanks to Lurkey and Anony_Mouse, who reviewed Chapter 3. You're much appreciated. :)

~*~

Chapter Four – Not Over

To this generation
We cannot forget
The ones that we have loved
The ones we left behind
Don't be afraid to reach out
This world is changing fast
For those who take a stand
Heaven knows

We grieve in our life
Don't let us pay the price
So much grief in our life
It will fade over time

Anouk - Heaven Knows


~*~

"As you can see, we have gotten a new student in our midst today!" Professor Flitwick squeaked as he stood on top of his usual pile of books, beaming at somebody on the front row. Derek and I stopped arguing about whether or not the Cannons had been cheating in their last Quidditch match against the Harpies and curiously leaned forward like everyone else, trying to catch a glimpse of the newcomer. Even Gwendolyn quit brushing her hair and peered at the student in front of Flitwick with interest.

"What the heck?" Derek muttered. "That's... her! Rosario! That chick you have a cru –“

I elbowed Derek in the ribs to shut him up. Hadn't he ever heard of being subtle? Never mind the fact that I certainly didn't need him, or anyone, to introduce me to this girl. It was most definitely Louisa, with her long black hair in a loose ponytail and a Gryffindor scarf around her waist. She didn't really seem to notice all the Slytherins staring at her, and if it was bothering her, she wasn't letting it show.

Flitwick was practically bouncing on his feet with nerves, though. "Her name is Louisa Rosario, a Gryffindor fourth year, and she is such an excellent Charms student that I have allowed her to participate in fifth year classes. I hope you will all treat her with respect!" He smiled as he looked around the class, though it faltered a bit when we all merely looked back. However, when he made an attempt at starting the lesson, Gwendolyn put her hand up.

"If you don't mind me asking, sir, but why can't she be put with the Gryffindors in fifth year?" She shook her hair back, coolly glancing at Louisa, who did seem to be a bit unnerved by the amount of hostility Gwendolyn managed to put in the question. To my dismay, I heard several of my classmates mutter in agreement. It didn't help this class was solely with Slytherins and no other House to back Louisa up. I fumbled with my quill, waiting.

Our professor seemed oblivious to the slowly increasing tension in the air. "Ah, I beg your pardon Miss Court, but I am afraid Miss Rosario wasn't able to attend all of her classes with the fifth years of her own House. The timetables, you know. She will only be with us on Tuesdays. But I assure you, she really is fabulous!" He sent Louisa a fond beam yet again.

Gwendolyn huffed. "But Professor, you seem to overlook the fact some of us mind the company of Mudbl – I mean, Gryffindors. They can be very... distracting." Louisa bit her lip, bowing her head, and I took that as my cue to cut in.

"Oh, yes, very," I drawled out, my every word dripping with sarcasm. If nobody wants to defend her honour, then I will, I thought. "I see you missed a wisp of hair over there, Gwen. I am absolutely convinced that is because of the presence of one extra person. You might want to focus a little more while combing, as it seems to take up your brain’s complete concentration."

My roommates didn't disappoint me this time as their hoots of laughter rang through the classroom, followed by the girls' angry hisses. Derek managed to choke back his snorts long enough to call out, "I doubt she can try harder; she doesn’t have a brain, for starters." I managed to keep a straight face and evenly met Gwendolyn's glare, automatically raising my eyebrow.

"Stop, stop!" Flitwick cried as Richard nearly collapsed on his desk, shaking with mirth. His auburn hair could've used Gwendolyn's brushing charm. Our Charms professor coughed in an attempt to calm us down, as the girls, Caitlin in particular, were furiously throwing insults. They were such over-reactive hags. "Mr Malfoy, you will receive detention in my office this Friday, and no excuses!"

"What?" I jumped from my seat. "You can get punished for telling the truth now?" I got the impression Richard was dying – his face was red and he was holding his head in his hands, still trembling with suppressed snickers. Isaac thumped him on the back, perhaps a bit harder than was necessary.

"I said, Malfoy, no excuses! There will be no insults in my class! Sit down! Now, page –“

Derek interrupted him this time. "Court called Rosario a Mudblood. Well, she got the word half out. Doesn't that sound as an insult to you, Professor?"

The silence hung in the room for a while, until Professor Flitwick finally sighed, defeated. "All right – Miss Court, you will join Malfoy in detention Friday, eight o'clock, in my office. You will both be sorting papers."

I slid back into my seat, satisfied. However, this time Gwendolyn abandoned her chair and furiously opened her mouth. But to my amusement, nothing came out. She opened and closed her mouth several times without result. She had, quite effectively, been Silenced.

"Ugh, Alan, you're such a loser," Caitlin shot my way as Professor Flitwick impatiently removed the Silencing Charm with a wave of his wand.

"I did not –“ I started indignantly, since I really hadn't cast anything. But to my embarrassment, my voice had cracked rather obviously mid-sentence, skipping a few octaves on 'not'. Caitlin smirked.

"Aw, ickle Alan's growing up."

"You can mock my adolescence all you want as soon as you grow a pair, Caitlin," I retorted, my eyes on her flat chest, making it perfectly clear what kind of pair I exactly meant. Before I could gauge any kind of reaction, Flitwick lost his temper.

"Now, this is quite enough! I kindly ask you all to keep your grudges to your common rooms and own free time, and turn your attention to Charms, the subject of this period! We are done revising Summoning – all of you did well. Turn to page fifty-nine, please, and read the next chapter." He angrily slammed his hands on the desk in front of him, his pile of books trembling. A stunned silence followed. Flitwick hardly ever lost his temper.

He straightened up, and the stack of books he was standing on wobbled again. "Well?" he demanded.

There was an obedient rustling of pages and parchment before the room went entirely quiet, and slowly my rational train of thought caught up with me. Merlin, what had I done? I had just defended Louisa in front of all my classmates and a professor. Oh hell. Oh hell, oh hell, oh hell. What if she hadn't thought my joke was funny? Now I looked back on it, it had been rather immature. I could just see her rolling her eyes already. I dared to take a look at her, and abruptly my heart skipped a beat.

She had already been looking at me, a curious expression on her face. My hands started sweating. Oh Merlin, she's looking at me. She's actually looking at me. What the hell am I supposed to do?

But as soon as that thought entered my head, Flitwick started talking again, snapping Louisa's attention away from me. Derek prodded me in the side.

"Ow!" I hissed, jerking my eyes from the back of Louisa's head. "What?"

"That, my friend, is where you make a move," he replied under his breath. "What were you doing, staring at her like that?"

I fumbled with the corner of my parchment. Derek was right. What had I been doing?

I couldn't concentrate on the lesson. Whenever I tried, my eyes flew over to Louisa, watching her whirl a string of hair around her index finger. I wondered about what made her so attractive to me. Was it really just how she looked? Or was it because she was the forbidden fruit, Muggleborn and in Gryffindor? Or was there no rational explanation? I was so lost in thought that I got quite startled when Professor Flitwick addressed me. I realised he had been explaining something to the class.

"What is the answer to that, Mr Malfoy?"

I felt my face go flaming red as I tried to find words, but failed miserably. "I – I don't know, sir." I saw the Slytherin girls looking self-satisfied. They seemed to be enjoying my humiliation.

Professor Flitwick sighed. "Five points from Slytherin for not paying attention, Mr Malfoy. Next time it will be more."

"Yes, sir. I'm sorry," I muttered, not daring to look at the dark-haired girl sitting up front.

Flitwick turned to her. "Do you know the answer, Miss Rosario?"

She knew it. When she had given the answer, she turned her head slightly and, catching me off-guard, smiled at me. Having not seen that coming, I blushed and quickly cut off eye contact. Before I could feel too awkward about it, the bell rang through the castle and I hurriedly packed my stuff. I heard Flitwick call over the noise not to forget my detention.

I was about to head for lunch when someone tugged me aside. My stomach rumbled loudly. I was going to smack anyone who was standing between the food and me if I could help it. I glanced at whoever was holding the sleeve of my robes.

Never mind the smacking part. It was Louisa. Of course it was.

"Can – can I talk to you? You know, for a moment?"

"Go ahead, I'll be right back," I muttered to Derek, feeling a bit queasy. My friend wasn't exactly helping by ten folding the weird sensation in my stomach when he wiggled his eyebrows simultaneously. The mischievous spark in his eyes spoke volumes.

Louisa led me through the corridor and into the courtyard, still holding my robes. I was secretly hoping she wouldn't let go, but she did as soon as we were outside. A few birds chirped innocently at us, but other than them, there was nobody else – everybody was at lunch. It made my imagination work overtime as I thought about how she was going to confess she felt rather attracted to me as well...

"Why did you defend me in class?"

She tore me right from the middle of a nice vivid daydream where I was pinning her to the castle walls. I shrugged myself out of it, studying my knuckles. I had scratched myself somewhere; the graze was bright red on my pale skin. I shoved my hands into my pockets as I searched for an answer. I couldn't tell her I stood up for her because I liked her, could I now?

"I – it – I just don't really like Court," I mumbled. It was at least a half-truth. I looked up just in time to see a strange emotion flicker across her face. Disappointment? You are really getting your hopes up, Malfoy.

She sighed, apparently wanting to leave again. I frowned slightly. She'd dragged me all the way to the courtyard for that? "Okay. Well, I'll be getting lunch. See you around." As she turned, her robes whirling around her, it was like Derek whispered something right into my ear.

That, my friend, is where you make a move.

To my own surprise, I swiftly walked up to her, taking my hands out of my pockets. "I'll go with you." I wasn't sure if that was what Derek called a 'move', but I was flabbergasted enough that I had the nerve to walk next to her.

There was a cynical look upon her face when we started walking. "Won't your Housemates think you are – eh – mad, for walking around with a Mudblood?” She spat out the last word as if it left a nasty aftertaste in her mouth – which might've been the case.

I shrugged again. "Maybe, but they'll think it is okay if I tell them it's because I think you are really good-looking."

I did not just say that. No, no, no. Yes.

Our speed of pacing slowed down a bit as she replied, looking bemused. "Do you think I am? I mean, honestly?"

I raised my eyebrows at her question. It would be slightly awkward now if I said I didn't. "Of course I do." As if anyone in the right mind could think she was not.

She smiled half-heartily. "Well, thank you, then. You're quite handsome yourself." My stomach did a wild flip-flop as a blush crept on her face. "I mean – good Lord, I can't believe I admitted that. You're a Slytherin!"

My thoughts, however, were somewhere else now. She thinks I'm handsome. Merlin, this is my lucky day... well, I got detention too, so maybe not. But it's certainly not too shabby. Then perhaps I could ask her to... no! I quickly shook my head. "So by your logic, all Slytherins should be incredibly ugly."

"No!" she exclaimed, grinning. The dark blush hadn't entirely faded from her face yet. "But you are all so arrogant already; we can't go complimenting you all over the place. The Hall wouldn't be large enough for all those big egos flying around." She made the not-very-mature gesture of sticking her tongue out, wrinkling her nose in the process. I responded by pulling her long ponytail, which was pretty much an equally juvenile act. Her brown eyes twinkled.

We held our step on the threshold of the Great Hall. Some of the early eaters were already spilling out. I was about to walk over to the Slytherin table and appease my hunger (I could almost hear the growling) when Louisa quickly grabbed my hand. I became very aware of the fact that my hand was cold, while hers was a nice warm temperature. At the contact, I felt like a wave of heat washed over me, forming sweat drops on my forehead. Salazar, was this normal?

"I – eh –“ Louisa looked like she was hesitating a bit, but then a grin lit her face and she got on tiptoe, her mouth right next to my ear. I could feel her breathing lightly in my neck, making me suppress a shiver. "I was the one that Silenced Court," she mumbled, and got down on her feet again. Still smiling, she set off to the Gryffindor table as I watched her go.

She got that Charm pretty fast, all right.

~*~

"Come on, Alan, don't cop out. Ask her if she wants to go to Hogsmeade with you or something."

"Are you mad? It's way too soon for that."

"No, it's perfect. Tomorrow's a Hogsmeade outing, and you and she are acquaintances. I bet she'd say yes. I mean, for Salazar's sake, she told you she thought you were handsome! If that's not flirting, I don't know what is."

"I said she was pretty first."

"I swear, probably half the girls in Hogwarts would jump at the chance of a date with you. Trust me, I know a few who would."

"Keep on dreaming, Derek."

"Honestly Alan, you give yourself too little credit."

Derek threw a crumpled bit of parchment in the common room fire. He had been trying to pursue me in taking Louisa for the weekend to Hogsmeade ever since that Charms lesson. It was becoming very annoying. Though I had to admit it was a very good opportunity, I didn't want to scare her off so quickly. We were not friends and we were not enemies. I just thought it was much too early for us to start dating. I certainly didn't want to drill this potential relationship into the ground already because I couldn't wait.

On top of that, I had that stupid detention with Gwendolyn in about five minutes. At least I'd be able to escape Derek for a while. I chucked my Defence textbook in my bag and stretched. My spine cracked softly in several places.

"Nice one," Derek said as I stood up, shaking my arms a bit. "Have fun with Gwendolyn, if you know what I mean."

"Ugh, she's a nightmare. And you shouldn't think about 'having fun' with her; she's not blonde and you have a girlfriend."

"Yes, father," Derek answered, his tone bored. "I'd still do her in a heartbeat."

"Hear, hear!" Isaac said, having just gotten through the common room entrance and dropping into the chair I had just left. I hastily took to my heels and made my way to Flitwick's office.

To my annoyance, not Flitwick but Professor Potter was waiting there for me. He was impatiently tapping his foot as I whirled around the last corner. "You're late, Malfoy. How unlike you."

"Where's Fl – I mean, Professor Flitwick?" I asked, ignoring his latter remark. I was never late. In fact, I had the impression I was exactly on time. I would've looked on my watch, had I been wearing it, but it was on my nightstand in my dormitory right now. Professor Potter regarded me through his round spectacles, searching my face, before he responded.

"Professor Flitwick had other matters to attend. You will be having detention with me instead. Miss Court has already started, if she has bothered to follow my orders. Now, go along." He nudged my shoulder in the direction of his office before taking off and I grudgingly walked after him. After a few corridors, Potter spoke again.

"It's not something I see often, a prefect in detention. I always thought they were to obey the rules."

That stung – there was no accusatory undertone in his voice, but there was a certain degree of malice in it, flaring something up inside my chest. "I take it you never were a prefect, then," I spat back to defend myself. It was almost like Potter enjoyed getting a rise out of me. He didn't act like he had heard my anger.

"No, I wasn't a prefect. You are right."

Before I could get too worked up over it, we arrived at his office. Potter pushed me inside and stalked towards his desk. A tall stack of papers lay on top of it. He picked them up and pointed to the desk in front of his. "Sit down."

A quick scan of the room told me that Gwendolyn was sitting in the far corner of it, leafing through an equally large pile of files. She looked up for a split second, but paid me no further attention. I sat down where Potter told me to as he slammed the papers on the small table.

"File these on date. The caretaker has been looking for somebody to do it for a while." He took his own seat and started to mark essays. The one on top was by Aiden, I saw, and was titled, 'My humble opinion on the Dark Arts'. Like Malfoys ever had humble opinions.

My detention wasn't that bad, even though I was stunned that the caretaker had neglected these files for so long. I didn't count myself a neat freak, but all my homework was filed by myself at the Manor: first year, second year; Defence, Arithmancy; pass or not. That way I could look something up if I needed it and didn't have access to the Hogwarts library. True, the Manor had its own collection of books, but it wasn't as immense as the one in the castle. And to be frank, the knowledge the Manor contained was rather... limited.

I put a file dating from 1991-1992 aside when a name caught my eye – my father's. I leaned over it a bit so the professor wouldn't see what I was doing. On the faded parchment, I read:

Names: Hermione Granger; Neville Longbottom; Draco Malfoy; Harry Potter

Crime: Out of bed after curfew

Sentence: Detention in the Forbidden Forest (not otherwise specified) with Rubeus Hagrid; hundred-and-fifty points from Gryffindor; twenty points from Slytherin

Signed: Argus Filch, caretaker; Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress


Detention in the Forest? I had never heard anything of the sort – from my father, that is. It had been with Professors Granger and Potter – as well as a Neville fellow who could very well be Michael Longbottom’s father.

I glanced at the date again. Doing some fast math in my head, I discovered this had been in their first year. Four first years had gotten detention in the Forest – I wondered what they had been doing in there. Not otherwise specified sounded pretty ominous to me.

In the hours that followed, I encountered a lot more detentions concerning my professors and my father. One Ronald Weasley – whose name I recalled from first year, when we had learned about the War; wasn’t he Potter’s best friend? – kept popping up as well on various occasions. Quite a few seemed to have taken place in the dungeons. The thought amused me. Had a nice time pickling rats' brains, Potter?

According to the clock above the blackboard, it was one o'clock in the morning when Professor Potter told us we could stop. If I had to believe my results, the most detentions had occurred in the school year 1995-1996. The pile was about two times bigger than the other ones. The one that held the detentions in my year of birth – 2010 (school year 2010-2011) – was the smallest.

Just as we were dismissed and Gwendolyn swept out of the office without saying goodbye, a black-and-white photograph on the teacher's desk got my attention. I picked it up and examined it.

It contained a family in a large field; that much was obvious. A young man with messy hair, glasses, and a lightning-bolt scar on his forehead (Professor Potter, I realised) was sitting cross-legged on the grass, laughing and waving at me. On his lap was a toddler with the same hair but without the scar and without glasses. He was smiling into the camera as well. So that had to be... James Potter, the professor's son and that idiot in sixth year.

Sitting next to Harry Potter was a woman who had to be his wife, also with her legs crossed. She too was holding a child, but that was a girl and she appeared older than James. She looked about eight. Her hair was done in two braids and she was wearing glasses, but rectangular ones.

Standing up behind the married couple were two other girls, both already in Hogwarts since they were proudly wearing their robes, which were both adorned with a Gryffindor patch. The left girl, who was a bit smaller than the right one, so probably younger, had the same unruly hair as her father, only hers was quite a bit longer than his. The other girl had nice sleek hair falling to her shoulders. She was sporting round glasses, like her father.

"What are you doing, Malfoy?"

I jumped and nearly dropped the frame, but managed to compose in time. "Eh, nothing, sir. Just – just looking at this picture." I waved a bit with it for emphasis. The dark-haired man walked over to me and smiled when his eyes met the photo.

"Ah, yes, my family.”

“Sir? If I may ask – why don’t you have a more recent one? I mean – your son is in sixth year now, but in this picture he can’t be older than five.”

“Ah, a lot of people ask me that," my professor said, pointing at his son. "James is four in there, actually… I have it here because they are all still so young and innocent, don’t you think so? Even Emily, my oldest, isn't completely in puberty yet in here." He pointed at the taller girl.

"Emily?" It was quite a sensible name – something I had expected of Professor Potter, considering his – apparently – only son was named James.

"Yes, that’s right. She's about to start fourth year in this picture." My professor grinned broadly when his daughter waved vigorously at him. The difference with his normal, slightly sulking demeanour was rather stunning. His whole face seemed to light up as he talked about his family. "She's twenty-six now, and getting married this Christmas."

"Congratulations, sir." Hey, I could be a lot of things, but rude wasn't on top of the list.

"Thank you. And this is Sarah, my second daughter." His finger shifted from the taller girl to the one with the mass of hair. "I had to beat the boys away from her when she was at school – she's like her mother." He chuckled.

"She looks more like you, if I may say so." Sarah tossed her hair over her shoulder and put her hands on her hips. Or maybe not.

Potter smiled. "Yes, she has my hair, see? And she also has my eyes, though you can’t see it in the picture. But she's definitely more like Ginny – my wife – in behaviour. Very strong willed. She's two years younger than Emily, and reserve Seeker for the Cannons." The edge of pride in his voice was more pronounced than ever.

I nodded. "And what is her name?" I tapped my finger on the face of the little girl in the woman's lap. The corners of her mouth curled upwards while the imaginative wind whipped around her, harrying her two braids. She looked like she was the most innocent of all.

"That’s my last daughter, Phoenix. She graduated from Hogwarts two years ago with top marks."

I raised my eyebrows. "Phoenix?" Emily, Sarah, James and…Phoenix. Something doesn’t fit.

My professor's eyebrows creased a bit. "Do you think that's an odd name?"

Shrugging, I replied, "Well, if I do, it’s not like I have much room to talk, do I?" With such a stupid name like Alucard, nobody does.

Professor Potter's expression softened. "Ah well. I owe my live to phoenixes. They are beautiful creatures, in my opinion. And Phoenix here is the only Potter with red hair, so Ginny and I thought it would be an appropriate name. But you should be heading for your dormitory, Malfoy. It's getting late – or rather early."

I sighed and put the photograph back on the teacher's desk. The occupants were still waving. I said goodnight to my Defence teacher and went back to my common room. My eyes were itching and I was longing for some sleep.

~*~

I ended up not going to Hogsmeade with Louisa, despite Derek's constant persuasions. I simply wasn't ready, and Aiden would probably snitch on me to Father if he saw me – alone, without others– in the company of a Mudblood. The way my brother nearly worshipped our father was sickening, really.

But since Derek would be going with his girlfriend, Daisy, I was bound to go with somebody else if it couldn't be the person I wanted to go with. Well, the option of going on my own was also free, but on the walk to Hogsmeade, Richard joined me and we entered the Three Broomsticks together. I switched a few Sickles for two Butterbeers and got a table with my roommate. We sipped our bottles in silence for a while until Richard spoke up.

"There's a little art store somewhere up the road where I go on my Hogsmeade trips. Care to tag along?"

"Sure." It wasn't like that was going to take the whole day. "I want to go to Honeydukes first, though. If you want, we can go by the Musical Charm afterwards. There's a book on piano plays I've been looking for and I think they have it."

Richard twirled his bottle in his hand. "Couldn't find it in the library at school?"

I was about to reply when a loud group of sixth years strolled in, all with Slytherin scarves around their necks, which they pulled off as soon as they were inside. A flicker of platinum blond in the candlelight of the pub alerted me of the fact that this was Aiden with his gang. A number of girls were with them as well, making me suspect this was the whole Slytherin sixth year.

Brilliant. The group of five boys and three girls was heading our way, still calling rather than talking and the girls giggling excitedly. Richard shifted uncomfortably next to me, and I didn't blame him. Any half blood (or Muggleborn, for that matter) would have been nervous in a group of older Slytherins, whether they were one of them or not.

Aiden dropped into the seat on my other side, not even glancing at Richard. "Hey, look, it's my little brother! How are you, Alucard? These seats aren't taken, are they?" He made a wide gesture with his arm.

"Does it matter?" I replied grumpily, tapping the polished floor with my heel.

"Good point," Aiden said, motioning his friends to sit down as well. They had apparently been waiting for his permission to do so. "So where's Derek?" he asked, raising his voice over the scraping of chairs as he raised his bottle to his lips.

"If he's lucky, not in Madam Puddifoot's," I said, amusing myself for a split second with the mental image of Derek covered in pink confetti (never mind the fact it wasn’t Valentine’s Day). Too bad that in reality, Daisy Macmillan was a sensible girl, and shared my opinion on the teashop – revolting.

I got on my feet, eager to get out of my brother's company. If he wanted to speak with me, fine, but then it had to be without his clique staring at us with open mouths. Richard got up as well, taking his Butterbeer from the wooden table. I clapped Aiden on his shoulder.

"It was nice seeing you, but we weren't planning on sitting in a pub all day. I'll see you later."

My brother pushed his hair out of his grey eyes and took a swig from his Butterbeer before answering. "Bye, Alucard. Wait, on a side note – have you written to Father yet?"

"I was thinking of doing so this evening," I lied. Merlin, like I don't have better things to do than write letters to my loving father. It wasn't like he expected them from me, anyway. I had a hunch he read the letters I sent to my mother to get the general overview of my life at school.

Richard and I left the pub and after a quick stop at the sweetshop (where I bought enough sweets to last until the next Hogsmeade weekend) we headed right, into a little side street. Richard led me to a small, dusty shop, which I had never noticed before. The shop sign read 'Chap's Paintbrush'. A small bell clanged as we stepped inside.

It was really dusty. I coughed several times before looking around.

The shop looked pretty old. The boarded floor was a dull, blackish brown, and large wood splinters stuck up in some places. A little table in front of us was covered in books about art and sketchbooks in all sizes. To the right were easels, a variety of paintbrushes and pencils, and paint in all colours you could imagine. To the left was the cash desk. The man behind it was probably just as old as the shop itself – he looked like his brains had outgrown his skull.

Richard walked over to the old wrinkled man and whispered to him in hushed tones. The shopkeeper nodded and turned around, moving boxes as he searched for something. I wandered to the table and shifted through the sketchbooks. I found a very small one. It looked more like a notebook, actually – it fitted right in the palm of my hand.

"You buying that, laddie?"

I looked up. The shopkeeper had addressed me, and he was pointing at the thing in my hand. Richard was already standing in the doorway. I opened my mouth, intending to say I was just looking, but then shrugged and decided to buy it. I'm no artist, but maybe Richard can teach me to draw. I gave the man his two Sickles and left.

"What did you buy, Richard?" I asked at we walked in the watery sunlight.

"Oh, a special quill so I can do better ink drawings. Quills aren't great to draw with, but I would've liked to do it. And last weekend Chap told me he could get an Easy-Ink-Quill for me, and tada." He showed me the pitch-black quill for a moment before pocketing it. "So, the Musical Charm?"

I nodded and we turned into High Street again, where most of the student body was walking around, laughing and shouting and holding Butterbeers. Richard and I ditched our long-empty bottles in a dustbin along the way before entering the music-centred store.

In contrast to the Paintbrush, like the Three Broomsticks and the Hog's Head were contrasted, the Charm was warm and welcoming, with a light brown carpet and ivory walls. Golden chandeliers hung from the ceiling and rich dark red chairs were seated through the store. It must be said, their design was very nice – though as a proud Slytherin, I thought they could've cut down on the Gryffindor colours. But most important of all were, of course, the instruments. They had every single one, from the cello to the little wooden flute. Fleets of music drifted through the room towards us as we walked to the literature section.

Richard suddenly halted. "Alan, you don't mind if I –“ He waved his hand at the wind instruments. "You know, I'm going to have my mouth-organ checked. Good luck with the book." He hurried off in the opposite direction.

I blinked. What the... Why'd he run away so suddenly? Confused, I turned towards the bookshelves, and my question was answered. Oh, goody.

Ivan Crabbe, Isaac's brother, was sitting in one of the plush red chairs, reading (he could read?) a large, shiny book without a title. He was a seventh year and the Quidditch Captain of Slytherin House for the second year in a row. He had tried to talk me into Quidditch tryouts, but I had declined, though not for the reasons I had given (too busy with my studies, had to give it more thought, and so on). Nobody but Derek knew, but I was scared of heights. That was definitely not a lie; I got horribly shaky and nervous when we had our Astronomy lessons. So I couldn't fly – at all. Well, I'd had lessons in first year, but that had been terrifying, so never mind the actual Quidditch matches.

Ivan was mostly known for beating up non-purebloods, so that was probably the reason why Richard had fled. He hadn't noticed me, though. His trollish face was contorted in concentration, as if every word he read cost a huge amount of effort. I quickly disappeared between the bookcases and out of his line of sight. All right, piano section. I scanned the shelves, walking slowly. They were alphabetically ordered, so I was going for the 'P'. Piano, piano... ah, there it was!

Had I been a modest person, I would have said I was a 'reasonable' piano player. However, I was not modest, so therefore I often stated I was extremely skilled at playing the piano. I swore I was going to marry that thing someday.

I reached out for the top shelf, where the plays were standing. They had a lot of Muggle ones over here, even more than wizarding concerts, but I wouldn't dare play them in case my parents found out. Now they didn't listen to music, so they wouldn't know magical music from its Muggle counterpart to save their lives, but a few of their 'friends' did, so I should better be careful.

As I heard a few girls giggle at the end of the row, I carefully took out a rather old looking booklet, visibly a hand-me-down, and let out breath I didn't know I'd been holding when it came down unscathed. I opened it and looked at the index. Nothing interesting in there... I ran a hand through my hair, felt it slip back into place and put the book back again.

The girls that had previously been giggling were now having a hushed argument. One of them said 'No!' rather hotly, and then dropped her voice again. At least they weren't shouting. I was about to pull another book from its place when someone spoke my name. Surname, that is.

"Hello, Malfoy."

I looked down and immediately felt my face break into a stupid grin. Damn, damn, damn! Don't sneak up on me like that!

Louisa was standing about two feet away from me, smiling as if she knew she had just given me a total fright. Trailing behind her were two girls, who were probably her friends by the looks of it. One had two short brown pigtails and was eyeing me suspiciously; the other one was a blonde with her hair tied to the back and was hiding her mouth behind her hands, giggling. They clearly were the girls I had heard before.

"Hi. How are you?" I asked Louisa, holding her gaze. Thank Merlin my voice didn't crack again.

"I – I'm okay," she said, not looking away. "Oh, and these are my friends, Cassie Creevey and Laura Mitchels." She gestured to the two girls, who moved forward a bit, though the brunette rather grudgingly.

Deciding to stay civil, I smiled at them. "Nice to meet you." They both looked somewhat taken aback and exchanged glances. Louisa looked pretty embarrassed. Actually, she was just pretty... Wisps of black hair had escaped her ponytail again and she hadn't pushed them back, so they danced around her face. It was cute, really.

One of her friends coughed and started speaking, but I didn't bother looking up to see which one. "Are you here alone?"

Louisa quickly turned my way and I didn't look away fast enough. Our eyes locked again. Hers were looking like they were daring me to drop my gaze, so I didn't.

I folded my arms. "No, I'm here with a friend of mine, Richard Fammet. Do you know him?"

"Yes, he's the one with the red hair, right?" The girl speaking sounded quite breathless as I nodded. "But aren't you better friends with Derek Nott? Where is he?"

I smiled as the image of Derek in a pink teashop caught my mind's eye for the second time. "I hope for his sake not in Madam Puddifoot's," I said again, and a huge sense of content filled me when Louisa laughed. One, I had her amused. Two, it surely meant she wasn't very fond of teashops either, and that could only be good.

I heard footsteps behind me, followed by Richard's voice. "Did you find what you were looking for, Alan?"

Damn, the book. Well, I'll find it some other weekend. My eyes were unwilling to leave Louisa's. I tried to savour the moment a bit longer. "Not entirely. But the visit wasn't quite... wasted." Okay, then I had to drag my eyes from her face because I was turning red. I just knew it. I briefly inclined my head to Louisa before walking out with Richard. I hadn't even said goodbye to her friends. Oops.

The sun was shining a bit brighter now, though it wasn't exactly warm. I wrapped my green-and-grey coloured scarf around my throat. I felt like doing a jig on the spot. Well maybe not, but I was still in a very good mood after yet another encounter with a certain Gryffindor. Until I spotted a knowing smirk on Richard's face, that was.

"What?" I asked, not completely sure why I was feeling offended.

His smirk broadened. "You are so getting into trouble with her."

"What do you mean?"

He sighed and rolled his eyes, and his grin slightly faltered. "Just saying nobody in your family is going to like that."

"Like what?" Did I have to drag it out of him?

He stood still, grabbed me by my cloak, and shoved me against the wall of the Three Broomsticks. My hand grazed against the rough stone. Ouch. "Are you dense, Alan? They aren't going to like you running off with a Muggleborn, that's what."

I nervously swallowed, feeling my Adam's apple bob up and down. "Was it that obvious?"

"Clear as daylight," Richard said as he released my collar, which he had been gripping tightly. "You're lucky that Ivan bloke left early on; he could've blabbed to your brother. I mean, I don't care what blood your girlfriend is, heck I'm half blood, but you should be careful. Both my sets of grandparents got killed in the War because my dad was a Muggleborn."

"We're no longer at war, Richard," I scoffed, straightening my cloak. Apparently, I shouldn't have said that, since I was immediately slammed into the brick wall again.

"We may not be in a goddamn war anymore, but your family still holds Voldemort's point of view, even though he's dead!" Richard breathed in my face. "How do you know your dad wasn't a Death Eater? I know your grandfather was! If your dad was on Voldemort's side in the war, he'd want revenge! And if you are off dating a Muggleborn, you are giving him and all the others a reason to lash everything out on you!" His grip on my robes relaxed. "Don't you see, Alan? By losing the war, they failed. And you of all people should know that Slytherins do not like to fail."

"What do you mean by that?" I snapped, throwing him off me. "And I don't know if my father was a Death Eater, but if he was, so be it. I won't be somebody who cares. The War is over, and its aftermath has passed. Let it go, Richard, you aren't the only one with losses." I gingerly touched my neck where my robes had left a slight rash. "Merlin, you’re overreacting."

Richard let out a frustrated growl, putting his hands in his hair. "Alan, Voldemort died, but his ideas didn't die with him!" He sighed, lowering his voice. "Look, Alan, I don’t want you into trouble, all right? I’m looking out for you. You can’t just go out with her and act as if there’s nothing wrong with it –“

“There is nothing wrong with it!”

“I know! But taking your family background into account, they will think it is! Why don't you understand? The War was hard on everyone."

I pushed past him, stalking off to the castle. There was no arguing with him – how dare he tell me I didn't understand. Of course the War had been hard, but that was a problem of the last generation, and nothing we, the current one, should care or worry about. We had learned about it in Defence against the Dark Arts, first year, and that had been quite enough in my opinion. And I did not see the link between the War and Louisa. None. None. Like I was proud that my grandfather had been one of the main Death Eaters. He should have rot away in Azkaban, but he died quick and without pain, from what I heard. Pity.

Richard caught up with me. "For Christ's sake, Alan, don't just run away when you're in an argument."

"I'm not running away, I'm giving up. And outside the Three Broomsticks is not a good place to have an argument like that."

“The aftermath is not over yet. My grandparents –"

“Maybe it isn’t to you. But it is to me. I won’t let a sodding war ruin my life when it’s been over for a few decades.”

We reached the castle in a stony silence, neither of us wanting to drop our point. Stupid war, I thought, as we descended to the dungeons. Even when it's over, people still fight over it. I wish it never happened.

~*~

Author's Notes: Thanks for reading!

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