|Welcome to the Real World
Author: IamtheLizardQueen PM
A Harry/Draco romance, set post-Hogwart's in muggle London. Includes red mittens, linoleum, witty retorts, angst, love, dance clubs, strange friends, cooking shows, and coffee not necessarily in that order !Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Harry P. & Draco M. - Chapters: 14 - Words: 124,521 - Reviews: 2,037 - Favs: 2,200 - Follows: 205 - Updated: 06-20-03 - Published: 08-19-02 - Status: Complete - id: 923321
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Just a repost, in an attempt to space it out better. Hope this works.
Umm, yeah, so I don't own Harry Potter or anthing else affiliated to him or J.K. Rowlings. I doubt I'll be repeating this disclaimer, so just remember that applies to all later chapters as well. I'm not a sticklar for the 'facts of Harry Potter', so don't be surprised if I change around a few things from the book. This story has Harry and Draco 'falling in love' so if you don't like that... I tried to make it angsty and serious, but I have the tendency of making things come out sickeningly sweet, so you never know. Basically Harry starts a new life, Draco runs away from his, and both wonder if they might be better off facing the world together. I hope you like this story, but it's cool if you don't.
Draco Malfoy was cold, tired, and hungry. Strangely enough, he was realizing that it was the first time in his entire eighteen years of life that he had ever been any of those things. Oh, there had certainly been times when he'd left Hogwart's on a cool day without a cloak, and complained of being cold, just as there had been times when he'd spent too long studying and too little time sleeping, or woken up too late for breakfast. But none of those events compared in the slightest to the way he was feeling now. Presently, he could accurately describe the exquisitely painful cycle of being cold; first a tingling sensation that felt like tiny knives boring into the skin, the brief relief of going numb, the wind biting so harshly upon his body it felt like heat, and then a shiver that shook him right to the core to start the whole pattern over again, each time a little worse then before. Being tired before had always been something to welcome; the dulling of the senses and the promise of a few hours wrapped in warm oblivion. Now every hour he stayed awake seemed to add weight to his shoulders, forcing his body to bend with the pressure, to sway back and forth like a drunkard in time with the pounding in his head. He now understood why sleep deprivation was such a devastating form of torture, for even if there was time to lie down; he was too tired to sleep. And he could honestly say now that he knew what gnawing hunger, and its accompanying nausea and dizziness, felt like. These accurate definitions however, were definitely not wanted, and he cursed whoever had thought he needed such lessons.
" You win, okay? I'm humbled", Draco muttered to the sky, between his chattering teeth. Nobody answered of course, and Draco gave a weary sigh and continued to lift his frozen feet down the sidewalk. Having arrived in London, he had felt sure most of his trials were over. Now it seemed he might be on the verge of failing, and after coming so far…
Voldemort was dead. The all powerful, dark wizard who had sought domination of the magic and muggle world alike had been destroyed. He had been dead for nearly two years, and still people were dealing with the aftermath of a brief yet destructive war. Or so was his understanding. Draco Malfoy had spent the better part of the last few years a prisoner in his own home. Having openly defied his father, Lucius Malfoy, by refusing to become a Death eater, and by remaining at Hogwart's where the side of light had based itself, he had made himself his father's enemy. Seeing the way the war was going, Lucius had wisely distanced himself from Voldemort, so that when the evil wizard finally fell, there had been nothing to pin on Lucius at all. A few fines, a slap on the wrist, and Lucius Malfoy had gone back to his mansion, and taken his wayward son with him. What everyone did not realize was that there was no end to Lucius' ambition. He planned to take Voldemort's place and succeed where the other had failed, and he wanted Draco at his side when he did so. Lucius had every confidence in his ability to beat any resistance out of Draco. It was join him or die.
Lucius had been patient. He had many other things to consider then the tearing down and rebuilding of his only son, so mostly Draco had been restricted to a small bare room, with no wand, no distractions, and nothing to do. The occasional act of abuse from Lucius had almost been a relief as at least it was a release from the monotony. Then, sometime early yesterday morning, a surprising development. His mother.
" Mother", Draco asked incredulously, certain his eyes were playing tricks on him. In all the time he had been in this room, though his mother was but a few hallways away, this was the first visit she had ever made.
" Draco", she acknowledged. A guard stood behind her in the open doorway, in case Draco decided to try and break out. There was little chance of that – Draco had been fed, but just enough to keep him alive, not to keep him healthy. He doubted he could walk, never mind run. It was all part of Lucius' 'reform' scheme. Narcissa Malfoy turned and glanced coolly at the guard,
" Leave", she said simply, closing the door in his face.
" What are you doing here?" Draco asked.
" Will you join your father?" she asked. Her bored tone suggested she cared little for either Lucius' latest attempt at power, or Draco's involvement in it.
" No", Draco said. With a sneer he added, " I would have thought that was pretty obvious by now. It's been two years".
" Two years? Has it been so long?" Narcissa said out loud. She shrugged, " I suppose it has." She paused again, and Draco laid his head back against the mattress of his cot and stared at the ceiling, waiting for her to get around to the point of her visit.
" I know I'm not much of a mother. I've never felt any maternal fondness for you, as I'm sure you're aware. It is not anything you've done. To be fair, I feel no particular warmth towards anyone at all. I have no traumatic past to blame this on, and it was not something I was trained to do, but I know nonetheless that I have very little by way of emotion. It has done you harm though, and for that I feel… I regret it."
Draco was stunned, his mouth opening and closing, but incapable of sound. He glanced at his mother and saw that she was inspecting her nails, which seemed more important to her then the confession she was making.
" I am not expecting forgiveness, and I'm not asking for any. However, there is one thing I can do for you, and I ask that you trust me."
" I do trust you. You may have faults, but you have never lied to me", Draco said.
" Your father is coming down today to ask if you're ready to join his little rebellion."
" He's done that before and you've never came", Draco said.
" This time, when you say no, he'll kill you."
There was no tremor in her voice as she pronounced his fate, and no change in her expression, just a slight flickering moment of disproval in her eyes. Draco sucked in a painful breath, followed by another, and another, until the swirling thoughts of his brain quieted.
" I don't want to die", he said softly. The omission was surprising, even to himself. What did he really have to live for?
" I thought not", Narcissa said. " I've come to get you out. You understand I had very little time to prepare, and besides I've never been very good at planning things, so my help will be limited."
" My wand?"
" I don't have it", Narcissa said. She crooked one long, elegant finger at her son, and beckoned to him. She opened the door, and stepped over the guard, whose drink she had poisoned before speaking to Draco. The man was dead – not what she had intended but she was no expert on potions and it was a small matter either way. Draco gulped, and exited his room, following his mother. His eyes darted about, adjusting poorly to the gloom. He imagined he saw Lucius everywhere, and his heart was racing so fast he could scarcely breathe, but Narcissa led him efficiently through the maze of corridors, avoiding all witnesses with ease. Draco found himself in front of a set of cellar doors, which he knew were near the forest on the edge of Malfoy property.
" Here is a broom – I couldn't get yours without raising suspicion. Some money, I am sorry it's not much, but the finances have always been under your father's control."
" I didn't think of it", she said with a shrug.
" It's okay", Draco said.
" You'd better take this cloak, as it's rather cold outside. It's January, in case you didn't know. I won't ask you where you're going – it will be safer for us both that way. Besides, I'll always be easy to track down, if absolutely necessary". The way she said it clearly meant she expected no further communication from him – ever.
Draco pulled the black cloak around his shoulders, and hoped its warmth would be enough. He pushed open the cellar doors and peered out. A faint dusting of snow covered the ground, and the rooftops of the manor. The sky was grey and there was a brisk wind blowing down from the north. Draco filled his lungs with the fresh air, and felt a tiny flickering of hope. Maybe, he really could escape and be free. He managed a smile for the diminutive woman at his side,
" Good-bye, mother. Be well", he said gently, knowing there was nothing else she could give him, and surprised she had done as much as she had. With a brief nod, and another glace outside to assure there were no observers, he kicked off from the ground, and flew towards the cover of the woods.
Narcissa Malfoy surprised herself by staring out at the woods long after her son was out of sight. Abruptly, she shut the cellar doors, and locked them. She returned to her sitting room, and ordered a house elf to bring her a cup of tea. Draco was miles away when Narcissa drank the last drop of her tea, the delicate china cup falling to the ground and breaking into pieces, as the poison she had made ran swiftly through her system. Long before Lucius discovered the escape, Narcissa Malfoy was dead.
Draco Malfoy knew the only place he had any chance of escaping from his father was in the muggle world, for his father had far too many contacts in the wizarding world who would gladly turn him in. As he turned his broom in the direction of London proper, he thought it was merely because it was the closest large city. After journeying through the bitterly cold sky for most of the day, it had come to him that he had chosen London for a specific reason. He was going to find the one person who might possibly help him. After all, Harry Potter had saved the world, what was one more soul to him?
Draco had flown into London late in the evening, the darkness suitable cover for his broomstick he had rationalized. The sudden drop in temperature however, soon forced him out of the sky, as his hands could no longer grip the rough broom handle. His landing was poor due to his exhaustion, and he all but tumbled to the ground, as his legs refused to support him. He took a moment to regain the wind that had been knocked out of him, and then looked around. A light showed him he was in someone's back garden. He pushed into a nearby tool-shed, covered himself with some empty grain sacks for warmth, and tried to sleep. After only a few uncomfortable hours, Draco roused himself, and went exploring, hoping to find some food. He broke off an icicle and sucked on it, wincing as the ice cut into his already frozen fingers. He had only gone a few blocks, when he realized he was lost, and though he spent the next hour trying to find where he had spent the night, he had to give it up for a lost cause. He tried to console himself with the fact that he wouldn't have been able to fly his broomstick anymore, anyway, and that the less magic he used, the harder he would be to trace.
" Now I just have to concentrate on finding Potter", Malfoy muttered, still trudging down the sidewalk. It was crucial that he concentrate on his goal, and not upon the feelings of panic and fear that swam in his veins like a toxin, for if he gave into the darkness now, he would not survive long enough to see Harry. And nothing was more important then that.
Draco was in an area of town devoted mostly to housing, which wasn't very promising. If Draco had been capable of thinking clearly yesterday, he would have landed nearer to some commercial area, where the likelihood of running into someone of the magical persuasion who could lead him to Potter was far more likely. Any one of these houses could be a wizard's home, but there was no way of knowing which. He began to cross a street when a loud, blaring, noise made him take a hasty step back.
" Watch it!" Yelled a man from a large automobile, as the vehicle sped past. Draco gaped, never having seen such a contraption, wondering how it moved.
" You alright, love? You look a wee bit lost", said a voice.
Draco turned, and saw a middle-aged woman with fading brown hair, and kindly brown eyes looking at him. She had a large canvas bag, empty, slung over one shoulder, sensible leather boots, a long overcoat, and thick red mittens. His first impulse was to run, wondering if he had already been recognized. He struggled for calm.
" I need to find Harry Potter", he said hoarsely.
" Harry Potter? Hmm, I don't think I know that name and I know most of my neighbours. Are you sure he's on this street?"
Draco stared at her in utter disbelief. Everyone knew Harry, didn't they? How was it possible she didn't know who Harry Potter was? ' He's the dark haired, green-eyed, Boy-Who-Lived, who destroyed the greatest evil this world has probably ever known, that's who he is you moron', he felt like yelling. Then another thought struck him, was it possible that Harry truly was as un-famous as he claimed he was in the muggle world? He had thought the story part of Harry's modesty, or at least, greatly exaggerated. Draco paled. How was he going to find Harry, if nobody knew whom he was?
" I… don't know", Draco managed to say. His customary eloquence had deserted him sometime during his seclusion, his confidence long before that. He could barely manage to look this most unthreatening of muggles in the eye, instead he looked around constantly, jumping at shadows. His mind dredged up a lie, that he desperately willed her to believe. " I was supposed to meet him, but we must have got the times messed up because he never showed, so I thought I'd try to find his place on my own."
" Oh dear, and on such a cold day too. Have you his address or his number?"
Number? Draco didn't know what she meant, and thought if he asked it might make his flimsy story look even more suspicious.
" I lost it, with the rest of my belongings", Draco said. He blushed convincingly, as though he were truly embarrassed by his incompetence, and not deathly afraid of being forever lost on the streets of London.
" Oh how perfectly dreadful! I bet it was one of those horrible airline flights; they always lose your baggage. So here you are a stranger to London," she paused slightly waiting for confirmation and Draco nodded, " Without a thing. A terrible ordeal. Well not to worry, dear, we'll figure something out."
The woman had pressing business, for which she apologized profusely, and hadn't much time to spare for Draco. Still, she managed to get him set up at the local library, in front of the large reference directories, and even jotted down her phone number on a scrap of paper, just in case he had still not found any place to spend the night.
Now that he had grown accustomed to the talkative woman, who seemed to take his odd dress and silent manner in stride, he was upset she was leaving. He said simply, " Thank you."
" Oh, it ain't nothing." The woman said, blushing slightly. " Good luck finding your friend. Oh, and I almost forgot. I'll leave these with you, you're hands look positively frozen!"
She pulled off her mittens and left them on the table in front of Draco's chair. Draco fingered the warm wool, and wished he had remembered to get the woman's name. He stared at the phone number the woman had given him, and tried to puzzle things out. She'd asked if he'd known Harry's number, did all muggles have this identification code then? But he was to 'call' it if hadn't found a place by this evening. It couldn't be a spell or an invocation, so what were the numbers good for? A man walked out of a door marked lavatories, and Draco jumped up from his chair, the puzzle momentarily forgotten in his eagerness. Here was something truly useful, and he used the facilities, which were very similar to the ones he was used to, and ran endless amounts of hot water over his hands and face. He looked at his face in the mirror, and was slightly startled that the image didn't speak back. Maybe that was a blessing, as he looked like death warmed over. His hair was straggly and in need of a cut, not to mention a cleaning. He tried to wet it down, but the difference was negligible. Draco's lips were blue, and he was fairly certain his throbbing ears were frostbitten. His entire face looked gaunt and sallow, and there were dark hollows around his reddened eyes. His hands were red and chapped, and the fingers stiff and swollen. He didn't even dare look at his feet.
Eventually he returned to his table, and curled into the worn but soft chair. He felt his eyelids drooping and wondered what the punishment was for falling asleep where he was. He spotted an elderly man by the windows with his chin tucked into his chest, snoring gently, and let his own eyes close. The sound of a book thumping against the table woke Draco later from a thankfully dreamless sleep.
" Sorry", said a girl about his own age, who was sitting down at the far edge of the table he was at. She indicated the pile of books in front of her with an apologetic smile, " Exams. Think I can learn an entire term in two days?"
Draco merely nodded mutely, thinking that it was a comment he had heard commonly at Hogwart's. It was comforting to learn that some things didn't change – poor study habits for one. The girl giggled softly, and then focused her attention back on her work. Draco rubbed the sleep from his eyes and yawned. ' Right it's time you got to work, too Draco', he said to himself.
The woman had put a series of huge books in front of him, suggesting he might find his friend in them, and then he could call him up. So far he had nothing but questions, but he was reasonably assured of his intelligence, and he would figure things out eventually. Too bad that his time was running out; too much longer and he would fall victim to the pain inside. He opened the first book and found it filled with hundreds and thousands of names. Even better, they were arranged alphabetically. He looked for Harry, but soon realized that last names came first. He moved to the P section, and was dismayed to find about twenty Harry Potter listings. Were they all for the same person? No, they all had a different set of numbers listed next to them. Some of the names even had addresses printed out neatly next to them. Well, he supposed twenty, actually twenty-eight if you included all the Potter, H., listings in the tally as well, was better then searching through all of London. He looked around for a quill or pencil to write the names down, but saw nothing. The girl looked up from her textbook and handed him a blue pen and a sheet of paper.
" Here, you can borrow these", she said. Draco said thank you, and when her attention was back on her book, examined the strange items. He soon found out the pen didn't need ink as it was already held inside the pen itself. The colour was a tad disconcerting, but it was much neater then his usual quill, and he loved the fact that he didn't get even the smallest dab of ink on his fingers as he wrote.
He copied down every name meticulously, including the addresses and the numbers. When he was finished he handed the girl back her pen.
" Thanks for… letting me use this. I need to keep the paper, if that's alright", he said. The girl laughed.
" Of course, and you can keep the pen too if you want. You'll probably need it if you're going to make all those calls."
" Pardon me?"
" All those phone numbers for a…" she squinted her eyes at the page and tried to figure out Draco's elaborate handwriting, " Harry Potter? If you're going to give all of those people a telephone call, then you'd better cross out the ones that are wrong after, or you'll soon forget. I know, because I do that all the time. I'm forever losing people's numbers."
" Do you know where I can make these… telephone calls?" If the girl noticed that he stuttered over the unfamiliar words, she didn't say anything.
" Hmm, the pay phone in the entrance is broken, but there's another one down the street, on the corner."
Draco nodded, " Thanks, I really appreciate it." He tied his cloak around his shoulders a little tighter, slipped on the fire-red mittens, placed the pen and paper in an inside pocket, and stood up to leave.
" You're a little bit odd, aren't you?" she said, indicating his outfit. Worried at first that she suspected something, he was relieved to discover that she was only teasing him.
" You know what exams do to you". She laughed and Draco left. He took note of the contraption in the Library's entrance that had an out of order sign taped to it. The word telephone was written above it in bright blue letters, and there was even a list of instructions on how to use it.
It seemed a little too convenient, and Draco was still tired despite his nap, and monstrously hungry. He was also scared. Scared of being alone with no resources, scared of someone catching him and taking him back, and scared that he was never going to amount to anything in a world that was so different from his own. In this world, he was truly nobody. In this world, if he couldn't even do something simple like find Harry Potter, how was he going to achieve anything?
The weather had slightly improved when he stepped outdoors, and the mittens kept his fingers much warmer. He spotted the telephone box, and watched as someone ahead of him entered inside, rummaged in their pockets, pushed what looked to be a coin into the machine, lifted up a slightly L-shaped thing, placed it over his ear and mouth, and then pushed a whole series of buttons. Draco watched with rapt attention, wondering what would happen next. The man in the phone book suddenly grinned, and started speaking rapidly. He waited, obviously listening, and then spoke again. After the man had finished, Draco approached the box and hesitantly entered, half expecting the doors to lock behind him. The first instruction said to place coins in slot, and Draco groaned. He needed money, and he doubted very much that they accepted galleons and such in the muggle world. How on earth was he to get a few coins to run the telephone? He stepped out of the booth, and slowly began to walk, always keeping the location of the library in his mind, just in case. He entered a street lined with stores, and sat down on a bench to think things through.
He noticed another funny machine placed in the side of a wall. People queued behind it, slid in a little plastic card, punched some more numbers, and out came, of all things, money. He watched quite a few people go through the procedure, and was startled out of his thoughts by a tap on the shoulder.
" Best be moving along now, son", said a gruff voice. It was a tall man dressed in some kind-of uniform. " Makes people nervous to have someone staring at them as they get money from their accounts."
Draco flushed, realizing it did look very suspicious what he was doing. He couldn't very well explain that he had never seen a moneybox before either.
" Sorry, didn't mean to stare like that", he stammered. 'Stupid move, Malfoy, getting yourself noticed by muggle authorities your first day in London', he thought.
" I didn't think so, but I just thought I should give you a little nudge", the man said kindly.
Draco nodded and quickly walked down the street, looking back anxiously in case the man in uniform was following him. In his haste to put as much distance between himself and the moneybox, he quickly got lost in the seemingly endless number of streets and avenues. Bone weary, and on the verge of tears now that he had lost even the vague security of the public library, he came across a store that looked somewhat like the ones he was accustomed to. It had an old awning leaning out onto the street, some golden lighting shining from inside, and scrolling black lettering on the signpost reading 'Antiques'. In the window were poster-boards in bright colours, telling what the store had for sale. One particular sign drew his attention as it read: will pay money for interesting jewellery or collectibles. Draco looked down at the gold watch on his wrist, wondering if it qualified as interesting. In the wizarding world, it was a simple wind-up watch, made of gold, with gem chips in place of numbers. He knew muggles had watches that ran automatically. He'd seen one on a first year student once, and he'd stolen it to see how it worked. After taking the whole thing apart, he had found only something called a battery, and he still had no idea how the fool thing worked. In the end he'd convinced himself that muggle inventions were beneath him anyway, and had stuck with his wind-up version, even though it was really because he hated the fact that someone knew something he didn't.
Upon entering the store, tiny bells above the lintel began ringing, and a round little man came out from a back room.
" How can I help you today, young sir?"
" I saw you're sign, and was wondering if you'd buy my watch?" Draco unwrapped it from his wrist and held it out. The other man peered at the watch, turning it over in his hands,
" Wind-up is it? Excellent condition", the man muttered. " My name's Pat, by the way. Take a seat why don't you? Would you like some tea?"
Draco shrugged, not wanting to appear too eager. The man went into the back room, and soon came out with a tray. There was a silver tea service, and a package of ginger snaps. Draco eyed them hungrily, but tried to restrain himself as Pat poured him a cup of steaming tea. Pat opened the package of biscuits and popped one in his mouth. He then pushed them towards Draco, who took three out while Pat was occupied, and bit into one eagerly. Nothing had ever tasted so good, and before he had finished swallowing his first biscuit, he was already reaching for the package again. Pat didn't seem to mind, as he was still looking at Draco's watch.
" Are you sure you're willing to part with this?" Pat asked. Draco nodded, his mouth too full. He guiltily swallowed and tried to remember his manners. Pat looked him over and finally said, in a low voice,
" You'd be a wizard then?"
Draco choked. In a voice laced with terror, he spit out, " Of course not, what a ridiculous notion. Everyone knows there's no such thing." Lynching had been outlawed here, hadn't it? He hadn't heard of anyone recently being burned at the stake, but there was always the fear that news would get back to his father that a wizard had been uncovered in London.
" There have been more then a few magical folk who've come in here. I think they like the atmosphere."
" Oh", Draco said, relieved but still dejected. " And here I thought I was blending in so nicely."
" I'm sure nobody else has noticed. It's only when you know what you're looking for", Pat said.
" Please don't repeat what you know about me", Draco said. Just a few years ago, it would have come out as a demand, backed by a threat. Now, it sounded like a plea, and the wavering made his voice sound pathetically small, even to his own ears.
" You have nothing to fear from me", Pat said, who was wondering what could make a young man look so haunted; so hunted. He went and got another package of chocolate biscuits and gave them to Draco. Then he went on briskly, " I'll give you a hundred pounds for the watch. It may be worth more, but without a well-known maker, people won't want to take a chance on it."
" Okay", Draco said, having no idea how much a hundred pounds was, and not strong enough to argue anyway. How much did he need to make the telephone work? Pat seemed in no hurry to have Draco leave, and having trusted him so far, Draco thought he might as well press on. " I'm looking for a friend of mine. I don't know his phone number, but I copied down a list from a book." He reached for his page and showed it to Pat. " Will a hundred pounds be enough?"
Pat laughed gently. " Easily. In fact, I'll let you use my phone for free", he said. He reached behind the counter and retrieved a black shiny telephone. He placed it in front of Draco and waited expectantly. Draco stared at the thing, willing it to work for him, and wishing this one had instructions on it like the other ones did.
" Have you never used a telephone before?"
Draco scowled, hating being so helpless, but was forced to admit that he was defeated.
" Right, well, it's quite easy. Lift up the receiver, and then push in the phone number on the keys. Might as well start with the top of your list, shall we? Now, only one of them is the Potter you want, and it's possible that your friend isn't even on the list, but we'll get to that later. Will you recognize his voice?"
" His voice?"
" Yes, that's how a telephone works. You dial the numbers, the person you want picks up his end of the telephone line, and you can talk to each other." Draco nodded in understanding.
" I'm not sure. It's been awhile", Draco admitted.
" Think of a question we can ask that will eliminate all the other's."
" Umm, 'is this the Harry Potter who attended Hogwart's school'? How about that?" Draco suggested.
" Perfect. I'll make the first call, show you how it's done", Pat said, and winked. Draco read the numbers off the page, and Pat dialled them. " Hello? I would like to speak with a Mr. Harry Potter please." A pause. " I'm looking for the Harry Potter who attended Hogwart's school." Another pause. " Thank you, and sorry to have disturbed you. Good-bye."
" So that wasn't him, obviously", Draco said. He took out the pen and scratched off the name. Pat handed him the receiver, and Draco went to work. With every phone call it got easier, though it was eerie talking to someone he couldn't see and didn't know. He was approximately two-thirds of the way through his list, with only a few people being out and unable to answer his question, and he was beginning to panic that he was approaching yet another dead end, when he got something he wasn't expecting.
The voice on the end of the phone said hello, but before he could answer back, the voice continued. " Hello, you've reached the home of Harry Potter. I'm not here right now, but if you leave you're name and number after the tone, I'll try to ring you back as soon as possible." There was a loud beep, and Draco's eyes widened in fear as he pushed the phone at Pat.
" What's the matter?" he asked. He held the receiver up to his ear and heard the telltale beep of an answering machine.
" The phone itself answered!" Draco said.
" It's an answering machine. It's so people can leave a message, if the person they're trying to reach isn't in."
" It's creepy", Draco said, and shivered.
" Do you think it was your friend though?"
Draco realized that he really hadn't listened properly as he'd been so surprised by the machine. He dialled the number again and listened, " Hello, you've reached the home of Harry Potter…"
" Indeed I have", Draco said quietly, not needing to listen to anymore of the message. The voice was slightly more mature then he remembered, but it was still soft, and almost hesitant or wistful. For the first time in two years, Draco felt a little safer as the voice washed over him. For some reason, he just knew Harry could make it all better for him.
" Well, he's not in, but I bet we can get his address from information." Pat used the phone and spoke to someone, eventually grabbing the pen and writing down an address. " There you are. Here's where he lives, but I'm afraid it's quite a ways from here. You're best to go by metro – the traffic now will be horrendous. You've probably never been on the underground either have you?"
" It can be a little confusing, but you've done fairly well already. Here, I've got a map here somewhere", Pat said. Pat found a map of the underground, and traced out Draco's route with the pen. He told him where to buy his ticket, where to get off and change trains, what side to be on when he arrived, and even told him to be wary of people trying to take his money. Draco felt the same way he had on his first day at Hogwart's – afraid, uncertain, and desperate not to show it. Pat gave Draco his money for the watch in small bills, and then led him outside the shop and pointed out the entrance to the underground.
" I don't know what to say", Draco said. " I've felt like that all day. People helping me, and me almost too afraid to let them. All I can manage is a pathetic thank you." Pat gave him a small sad smile, and told him to get going. As Draco walked, he felt ashamed for all the times he'd snottily referred to muggles in a less then kind way. He doubted if a lost muggle would have made out so well in his world.
Draco headed down the stairs and bought his ticket. He had some difficulty at the turnstiles, but he was getting good at observing people without seeming to and he had always been a fast learner. The first train he was on was packed with people, and Draco clutched his few belongings to him tightly, fighting the feeling of dread that was gradually overwhelming him. Would overcome him if he couldn't find Harry. He was relieved to get off at the appropriate station, and distance himself for a moment from the press of people, and to be able to sort through his fears to find which ones were real and which ones lived entirely in the vaults of his mind. What if Potter didn't come home tonight for some reason? What if Potter refused to see him? Why was he going to Potter's anyway? And why was he so absolutely certain that he could trust him?
Trying to control himself, he looked again at the map Pat had given him, and followed the signs to the correct platform. The train that came this time contained only a few people, and Draco found a seat. He was scared he might fall asleep again, so he focused his eyes on the map, checking the stations they went past.
Two giggling girls, who were seated across and to the left at him, were eyeing him with somewhat predatory eyes. They reminded him of Pansy, and Draco unconsciously reached for his wand before remembering he didn't have one. The bolder of the two girls soon got up and plopped into the seat next to his.
" Where you headed?"
Draco held up his map, with Harry's address taped to the side of it.
" Oh, I know where that is. It's about a block west of where I live, but you should get off at the stop ahead of the one you've got circled", she said. Draco turned to really look at her, and decided she really wasn't much like Pansy, since this girl had managed to complete a reasonably intelligent sentence.
" I'm looking for a friend", Draco said. Funny, but he'd said the word 'friend' in connection with Harry so many times today that he was starting to believe it. He wondered how he would get Harry to believe it. He opened his bleary eyes and said, " Thanks for the advice."
" Any time, sweetheart. In fact, I'll walk you there, if you like", the girl said, suddenly shy. Draco nodded and the girl flushed. " I'm Katie, and that's my friend Becky."
" My name's Draco", he said.
" Sure it is", Katie said, and giggled. She hustled him off the train at their station, and waved goodbye to a grinning Becky. They walked down the stairs, snow starting to fall again, as the streetlights came on against the darkness of approaching night. They walked quickly because of the cold, and soon they stood on a corner where Katie had to head one way, and Draco the other.
" It's just a few buildings down there", Katie said, pointing. " I'm another two blocks that way. So if you ever wanted to, I don't know, go to the pub or something, I could give you my number."
" I'm not your type", Draco said, realizing he was passing up an opportunity to be cruel, but finding himself too dispirited to think of anything else to say.
" Oh well, it was worth a shot anyway", Katie said. She waved and then headed off towards her home. Draco peered at the address one last time while under the glow of a streetlight, and then began walking, wondering idly what number of step he was on, and when was the last time he had felt his feet. He was so tired he thought these last few moments would kill him, but he was so close to his goal. The razor edge he was walking on was thinning into nothing, and soon he would find out if he were falling into the side of dark despair or to the side of loving oblivion.
It was a small block of flats that the address led him to. He walked through the first doorway, and found the next one locked. An elderly couple chose that moment to come out, and he made pretence of holding the door for them as he slipped through. He took the stairs to the third floor, and on wobbly knees he stood in front of Harry's door. His first knock was so weak that even he couldn't hear it. Steeling himself, he knocked a little harder and heard footsteps coming towards the door.
The door swung open, and standing in front of him, in a rugby shirt, jeans and slippers, was salvation in the guise of Harry Potter. Draco was sure he would have laughed at Harry's expression, if he hadn't felt so darn close to tears. He raised his red woolly hand and said, " Hello Harry", before tumbling into that oblivion.
So, obviously there's more and I'll post again soon, unless you want me to stop right away and never again attempt to write a Harry/Draco tale. Leave a review and let me know what you think I should do!