Author: KateinVA PM
In progress. Draco goes to London to escape the stress of his father's trial and finds himself drawn to a young girl he meets.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Draco M. & Ginny W. - Chapters: 2 - Words: 5,365 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 09-30-05 - Published: 07-13-05 - id: 2482787
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I'm starting one more when I should be adding to my other stories. Couldn't help it though. As usual, I own nothing related to the Harry Potter series.
Draco dropped his bag on the floor and felt the knots in his stomach ease a bit. He was still amazed his mother had agreed to let him stay unattended in the posh flat his family maintained in town. The stress of his father's trial was wearing on her though, and Draco suspected she was probably glad to have a bit of time alone. Finding a solicitor to defend Lucius Malfoy had been a difficult chore, not many people were keen on helping accused Deatheaters. His father's legal costs were astronomical and, although they were nowhere near destitute, the days of rabid impulse spending were gone. Draco had been given a rather modest budget for his time in London and if he ran out he would have to return home. There would be no second helpings from his mother's purse.
For his part, Draco just wanted some normalcy to return to his life. Since his father's arrest there had been reporters camped outside Malfoy Manor, circling like vultures for scraps of flesh. They couldn't step outside without being blinded by camera flashes. Almost daily Rita-bloody-Skeeter concocted some 'scoop' exposing Narcissa Malfoy's steady slide into madness or Draco's attempts to form a Young Deatheater's club. He had even had to travel by floo powder to Diagon Alley and then take a muggle bus the rest of the way to the flat to avoid being followed.
It was late in the evening by the time Draco arrived at the flat. The anxiety that had been plaguing him recently was slowly being released and the unfamiliar calm feeling made him sleepy. He would have to hold off on sleep for a little longer, he thought. He had not eaten since breakfast and he was hungry. If he remembered correctly, there was a little diner down the street a ways. He'd never eaten there, Mother and Father had always taken him to the finer restaurants in the area, but given his limited funds it seemed as good a place as any to get a bite. Changing out of his grubby-feeling traveling clothes, he quickly washed his face and hands and slid on a black t-shirt, blue jeans and trainers. His hands automatically came up to tuck in the shirt but he caught himself and left it out. Looking in the mirror, Draco smiled. His father would hate that Draco was going out in public looking so untidy. It was a small rebellion, but it felt good nonetheless. Grabbing his wallet, he headed out the door.
It took him a few minutes to remember exactly where the little diner was located, but now Draco could see it about a block down the cross street. Most of the other stores in the area were closed now, but the diner still shined brightly. He heard the bell chime as he opened the door and looked around. The small dining area was packed with customers. There didn't appear to be a single table open but he spotted an unoccupied stool at the counter. Navigating his way across the room, Draco reached the chair and saw that a large book bag was set right on the cushion. On the next stool was a dark haired girl who looked to be about his age, maybe slightly younger, diligently writing on a piece of parchment. At the top of the page she had written 'Cosmetic Charms and their Muggle Equivalents: A Comparison'. Draco gently tapped the girl's shoulder. "Excuse me," he said politely, "Is this seat taken?" Casting a distracted glance towards the stool that held her bag, she grabbed the strap and lowered it to the floor. "Sorry, there you go," she replied without looking at him and returned to her work.
Draco took the now empty seat and thanked her. Getting the attention of the waiter, he ordered his dinner and leaned back in his seat to wait. His gaze wandered around the crowded diner. All around him people were talking and drinking, some were eating; he could tell that music was playing overhead but couldn't make out the song. It was noisy and bustling and Draco felt wonderfully anonymous. He glanced back to the girl sitting next to him and studied her. Her hair was dark brown, almost black, and it hung loosely around her face as she looked down at her paper. The dark mop was tousled, as though she'd run her fingers through it a number of times. Her skin was pale, too pale for her dark hair, and she had a longish nose that was dusted with freckles. She had on a pair of worn jeans and a white men's dress shirt with thin silver stripes. Her shirt was not tucked in either, although he didn't suppose she did it for the imagined irritation it would cause her father. Pinned on the front of her shirt was a plastic nametag that said 'Belinda'. In spite of her rumpled appearance and unnaturally dark hair, she was attractive. Not polished and poised like his mother, but still good looking. Draco thought she reminded him of someone but he couldn't think who it might be.
"Are you done checking me out yet?" the girl said, turning towards him. A surprised look flashed briefly across her face as she looked at him for the first time before settling into a glare. Draco wondered if she had recognized him from the newspaper stories and frowned. He'd hoped that by cutting his long hair and changing his style of dress it wouldn't be so obvious that he was Lucius Malfoy's son. The girl was still glaring at him and he decided he'd better say something.
"Look, uh, Belinda, is it? I didn't mean to stare, I'm sorry if I offended you." Draco sighed and started to turn away but he was struck by the sudden change in the girl's expression. Belinda wasn't glaring any longer; her expression was now one of confused skepticism. Draco pointed to the plastic pin on her shirt and forced a grin, "I'm not stalking you or anything; I just read your nametag."
She looked down at her shirt and chuckled, "Oh, I guess I forgot to take that off after work." She turned back to Draco and seemed to consider him for a moment before continuing. "A bit late for dinner, isn't it?" she asked.
His food had arrived. Draco thanked the waiter before responding to the girl. "I just got in town a little while ago. I didn't have a chance to eat earlier." He stopped to take a bite.
"I'm sorry I jumped down your throat a minute ago. This paper is giving me fits. I get a little crabby when I'm stuck," she said. The girl was still eyeing him a bit suspiciously.
He waved the comment aside. "I deserved it, I shouldn't have been staring. Are you working on something for Charms?" he asked, nodding to her parchment.
Belinda nodded. "Extra credit. I'll be taking my O.W.L.s this year so I figure I need all the practice I can get."
"Ugh, I just took mine. They were nerve racking. The results aren't in yet, but I think I managed a decent score. You've got the right idea. I think I would have been less overwhelmed in my fifth year if I had kept my studies up over the summer." Draco wondered why he'd offered up that information. It wasn't like him to be supportive or to acknowledge that he ever felt anything other than in control.
The girl practically gaped at him. She recovered her composure after a few seconds. "Erm, thanks. I don't think there's anyway to avoid feeling overwhelmed but hopefully I'll be a little better prepared. So, you said you just got in town, right? What brings you to London?"
Draco shrugged, "Just taking a bit of a holiday. Talked my mother into letting me stay in our flat for a couple weeks."
"Your mum just let you come to London by yourself?" Belinda was flabbergasted. "My mum barely lets me out of her sight in Diagon Alley. The only reason I'm allowed to stay in town for the summer is because I'm staying with family. If my mum realized I wasn't chaperoned 24 hours a day she'd have a fit. Must be nice to have so much freedom." Her expression was a mixture of awe and jealousy.
"I was surprised she agreed actually. This is the first time Mother's let me travel on my own, other than to school. I think the only reason she let me is that she's really busy right now." He smirked at her, "It is pretty cool, though." He added with a slight blush, "But you can't really blame your mum for wanting you to be chaperoned, can you? You're a pretty girl and this is a big city. Both would make a mother nervous, I expect."
Belinda stared open mouthed at him for a second before bursting out laughing. "Did you just blush and call me pretty?"
Draco felt his cheeks turn even redder. What did she think was so funny about that? It was a nice compliment, he thought. It wasn't as if he'd been vulgar. "I did, but I'll take it back if you're just going to laugh at me. Really, a simple thank you would have been sufficient." He was feeling embarrassed now and stared sulkily at his lap.
She reached out and touched his arm. "I'm sorry, that was rude of me," she said, still giggling a little, "You just surprised me, I guess. I appreciate the compliment; I just wasn't expecting it. Usually I'm pretty good at reading people, but..." Noticing a clock on the wall, Belinda shot out of her chair. "Bollocks, I've got to run. They'll be sending the hounds after me before too long. It's been nice talking to you, erm," she stopped and looked at him questioningly.
"Draco, my name's Draco. I guess I never introduced myself properly," he said, offering his hand for her to shake. He was disappointed that she had to leave. Should he offer to walk her home, he wondered? It would be a little forward since they'd only just met, but he'd been enjoying their casual conversation. Before he could come to a decision she spoke again.
"Well, have a good night, Draco. Maybe I'll see you around." Giving his hand a little squeeze, she paid her bill and hurried out into the night.
"Goodnight, Belinda," he called after her. Under his breath he added, "I hope so."
A little while later, Draco was back at the flat. He took a quick shower and got into bed. As he stared at the ceiling, he thought about the girl he'd met at the diner. She wasn't at all like the type of girl he usually hung around with. Well, perhaps 'type' was an overstatement. Pansy Parkinson was the only girl Draco had really spent a lot of time with and that was mostly because she wouldn't leave him alone. Belinda was nothing like Pansy. She was terribly careless about her appearance. If he were at school Draco would never have talked to her, except possibly to make a snide comment. Here, though, there was no pressure to maintain his reputation as a bully. If he wanted to talk to a pretty girl that was a little rough around the edges, he could. And he did want to. Smiling a bit wistfully, he drifted off to sleep.
The next day Draco wandered around, looking in little shops and enjoying the summer sunshine. He stopped in the market and picked up a few things so that he wouldn't have to eat out for every meal. Having a budget was really very limiting, he thought. As he walked home with the items, he tried to decide what he'd do for the rest of the day. He knew he would end up at the diner again, hoping to see Belinda, but it was still early afternoon so he had several hours to kill until then. Suddenly a leg stretched out in his path, nearly tripping him.
"Are you sure you're not stalking me?"
Belinda was grinning up at him from a bench, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in one hand and a bottle of butterbeer in the other. Today she was wearing a plaid miniskirt and a black t-shirt that said 'Go-Go's' above a picture of five young women. She had on black tights that led down to a pair of combat boots.
Draco flashed her a teasing smile, "I hadn't even noticed you sitting there. Maybe you're the one stalking me. Should I be frightened?"
Sliding over, she motioned for him to join her. "You probably should be," she said in mock seriousness, "I've been known to hex people without warning." Then she laughed and said, "Don't you look domestic with your little sack of groceries. Planning a dinner party, are you?"
"Would you come if I were?" he asked brightly as he sat down, "It would be a sad affair, really. Cereal as the main dish and chocolate for dessert."
"Is that all you bought? Not much chance of impressing a girl with your culinary skills, is there?" Belinda shook her head reproachfully as she popped the last of her sandwich into her mouth.
He grinned sheepishly. "No, I'm not much in the kitchen, I admit. It's never really been something I needed to learn. Say, does that mean you wouldn't come to my party? You wouldn't make me have a party all by myself, would you? That's beyond sad, it's downright pathetic."
The girl tilted her head and looked at him skeptically, as she had the night before. Leaning forward slightly, she lowered her voice and said, "I can't decide whether you're flirting with me or just teasing me."
Feeling a little nervous, Draco moved towards her so that his mouth was right next to her ear. "You know," he whispered conspiratorially, "I haven't quite decided myself."
Belinda tossed her head back and laughed. She brought her hand up to his cheek and stroked it affectionately. "You continue to surprise me, Draco. Be sure to let me know when you figure it out."
Draco nodded his agreement. He really didn't know what he wanted with this girl, he just knew he liked being around her. He enjoyed their playful banter. "So, what do you have going on for the rest of the day? Feel like keeping me company?" he asked, trying not to sound too hopeful.
A frown set on the girl's face. Sighing, she explained that she had to get back to work; she was only on her lunch break. She gave Draco a sly look. "Weren't you inviting me to a dinner party a few minutes ago? Is it tonight?"
A wide smile spread across his face. She wanted to see him tonight! "Why yes, it is tonight," he said, "When will you be finished with work?"
"I usually finish up around 5:00," she replied casually.
"What a coincidence," Draco teased, "Around 5:00 is just when my little party starts." He took her hands in his. "Could I meet you at work and escort you back to my flat?"
Belinda smiled up at the tall, handsome boy, her warm brown eyes meeting his shining gray ones. "Why don't I meet you at the diner at 6:00? That will give me a little time to clean up after work."
"Alright, the diner at six it is," he said softly.
"I'll see you then," she said. Impulsively, she raised herself up on her tiptoes and planted a quick kiss on Draco's cheek. Then she turned and walked away.
Draco watched her disappear around the corner and turned back towards the market. Cereal and chocolate was fine for him, but he'd have to do a little better than that for Belinda. He'd need something relatively easy, he hadn't been exaggerating his poor cooking skills. Ultimately he decided on spaghetti. It seemed simple enough; boil water and put the pasta in it to cook, warm sauce from a jar and pour it over the pasta. Even he could manage that.
He spent the next few hours getting ready. It wasn't exactly a date, but he wanted everything to be just right. Shortly before he was supposed to meet Belinda he put the pasta on and heated the sauce. Once that was ready he covered it to keep it warm and changed into the clothes he'd laid out. He slid on crisp blue jeans and a slate blue silk shirt that he knew accentuated his eyes. After checking his hair in the mirror Draco began the short walk to the little restaurant.
Belinda was already waiting by the time he arrived. Draco's breath caught in his throat when he saw her. She was standing just outside the diner, scanning the street for him in a relaxed way. Her dark hair was pulled back into a large barrette with loose curls hanging softly to her shoulders. Her lavender baby doll dress reached to just above her knees; her legs were bare to the white sandals on her feet. She looked lovely. Her eyes lit up when she noticed him walking towards her.
"You look great," they said simultaneously as he reached her. For a moment, both flushed and looked at the ground. Taking her hand, Draco asked, "Are you ready to go then?" Belinda nodded and held his hand tightly as he led her back to his flat. They walked in silence, neither sure how to act when the nature of their relationship was still so uncertain.
Draco opened the door to the apartment and Belinda gasped. "Oh my gosh!" she cried, "This place is bigger than the store I work in!" They entered into a large living room furnished in antiques. A large gilded mirror hung on one wall. Several oil paintings decorated the room, Belinda was certain they were originals and very valuable. A beautiful grandfather clock stood on the far side of the room where a large opening led to an equally ornate dining room. Belinda turned around slowly, her mouth gaping. "It's so beautiful! You live here?"
"Uh, yeah, sometimes," Draco said awkwardly, "We usually only stay here when my father has to come to London for business. The rest of the time we live at our estate in the country. Ready to eat?" He motioned to the dining room.
Belinda gave a distracted nod and allowed him to direct her into the next room. She continued to stare around the flat in awe as he pulled out her chair and helped her into it. He disappeared for a moment and returned with a big bowl of spaghetti and two bottles of butterbeer. Draco opened the bottles and poured each of them into their glasses. He took Belinda's plate and scooped a helping of pasta onto it then did the same for himself. Sitting down, he raised his glass.
"To new friends," he said formally.
Belinda raised her glass. "To new possibilities," she responded.