All Because of a Badge
In the land of AU, which is the symbol for gold, there are many stories. Like the use of gold, some of it is for good, and some of it is for bad. Let us visit a little story which hopefully will be more bad than good. If it is not, well, there are others. We start today in the wonderful world of magic, on a train heading to a wonderful place called Hogwarts, where things are happening differently this time.
Harry sat as the blonde kid looked in his compartment and asked if it was true that he'd come to Hogwarts. As the boy sneered at Ron Weasley, his first magical friend, suddenly the blonde boy's eyes widened.
"Is that a Chudley Cannons badge?"
Ron's eyes went wide but then narrowed, his posture slumped and defensive. "Yeah, but they're getting better."
"I know!" The blonde boy nodded. "They just signed that Keeper, what's his name, the old one who came out of retirement?" The sneer was gone from his voice, now replaced with excitement.
"Bob DuVanta, that's his name! You're a Cannons man?" Ron's face lit up as he looked to Harry and back to the other boy in wonder. "Really?"
"Really!" He opened part of his plain black Hogwarts student robes to show an orange Cannons badge pinned to his shirt. "I never meet Cannons supporters. I'm Draco Malfoy."
"Ron Weasley." Ron nodded towards Harry. "And yeah, that's Harry."
"Harry Potter." Harry nodded but gave them both a confused look. "Who are the Cannons?
From the the hallway outside the compartment two boys shook their heads. One of them, the taller one, stuck his head in the door. "We're sick of you moaning on about the Cannons. We did our part, we promised your mum, you're on your own, Draco." With that the two boys left, leaving the ones inside the compartment looking at each other.
Draco looked somewhat angry. "My mum made them promise to look after me on the train, to make sure I got with the 'right sort' of people."
"Oh." Ron made a face.
"What do you mean, right sort?" Harry looked at him, ready to spring to Ron's defense. He hadn't known Ron long, but he'd had enough of bullies to know what 'right sort' usually meant.
"Slytherin types, that sort of thing. But..." Draco leaned forward and lowered his voice. "...if I know anything from Quidditch I know Cannons fans have to stick together."
Ron's face broke out into the largest smile and he sat up straight. "Yeah! Just because we finished last doesn't mean we can't win it all this year!"
"Sorry." Harry shook his head. "Exactly who are the Cannons again?"
Both Draco and Ron began talking at the same time, waving their hands about, and began to give Harry his education in Quidditch. Since Harry was having a hard time grasping the concepts Ron and Draco used sweets from the trolley to make stand-ins for the hoops, players and the different types of balls required to play the game.
It was while Draco was trying to explain how a Snitch moved and had taken out his wand when a girl came into the compartment asking if they had seen a lost toad, but her eyes lit up when she saw Draco's wand. "Oh, so you're going to do magic, then? Well, let's see."
"Uh..." Draco's excitement dimmed. "Mother let me use magic but it was on, um, larger things, I'm not sure..." He looked again at the floor of the compartment, where spread out on a piece of parchment were a couple of chocolate frog boxes, some Bertie Botts beans and the Acid Pop that was standing in for the Snitch. This was his first time doing magic in front of other people besides his family and he didn't want to let his family down. And he couldn't look bad in front of another Cannons man. Oh, and Harry Potter. "I guess I can just do the Snitch...wingardium leviosa."
The acid pop slowly began rising in the air, and Draco began to feel relieved, but then all of the candy began rising in the air. They all looked at each other and then, one by one, the realisation hit them. They were rising in the air.
"Stop it!" The girl looked over to Draco. "Stop it right now!"
"I can't!" Draco looked over to Ron. "Can you?"
"No, I'm rubbish." He shook his head. "Harry?"
"I just found out I'm a wizard, what do you think?"
"Are you Harry Potter?" The girl looked at him. "You just found out you're a wizard? That doesn't make any sense. I've read all the books about you and...oh, so sorry. Hermione Granger." as all of them were now stuck on the top of the compartment ceiling she turned to look at the person next to her but had to move a foot out of her face. "And you two are?"
"Pleasure. Hermione Granger." She turned to look at Draco. "Can't you stop it?"
"Oh. Right." Draco went to wave his wand but noticed it was down on the floor. "Um, my wand's down there."
"Honestly." Hermione rolled her eyes and then began scooting across the ceiling towards the door. Once her head was outside in the hall she began yelling for a prefect.
Ron closed his eyes tightly and began muttering softly 'please don't be Percy, please don't be Percy, please don't be Percy...'
"What seems to be..." He stopped and looked up. "Ron, did you do this?"
"Agggggggh." Ron opened his eyes. "Percy, get us down."
"I should leave you up there for the rest of the trip as an example, but Mum would not be pleased." With a quick flick of his wand and a half-muttered spelleveryone floated back down, the food coming at a slower rate. Percy reached out, took a chocolate frog and stuffed it into the pocket of his robes. "Ron, you should know better than to try anything on the train. It's almost time, you should get your things sorted. Before the Sorting. Sorted before the sorting. Rather good."
As Percy walked off down the hallway the four looked at each other and then to Ron. With a resigned sigh Ron nodded. "He's my brother and a Prefect in Gryffindor."
Hermione smoothed out her robe and looked towards Ron and Harry. "You two should put on your robes. I'm going to keep looking for Neville's toad. If you see it put it in your pocket, we'll all be together at the sorting. And you..." She turned to Draco. "It's a good thing we're going to Hogwarts. Starting spells is good but I'm sure we need to know how to stop them, too. For your information it's finite." With that she turned and left the compartment.
Draco made a face at her back as she left and turned as Ron clapped him on the shoulder. "Of course you knew what it was, don't let her bother you, she seems like a nightmare. If she knew it why didn't she stop it? Oh well. Wonder where she'll get sorted? I don't want to be there."
Ron and Harry sat up in Ron's bedroom, Quidditch magazines spread out on the floor. Both of them absentmindedly flipped through the pages, their eyes going back and forth to the Chudley Cannons clock on the wall, as if willing the hands to move faster. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the hands moved to the anticipated position and both boys shot out of the room, sounding like a herd of elephants on the stairs. When they got down to the bottom they stopped suddenly, Harry actually running into Ron's back and making him take a step forward.
An elegantly dressed woman had her wand out, siphoning Floo powder away, but Draco was there. Most importantly he had his broom.
Before they could say a word though Ron's mum stepped in front of them and took over.
"Boys, before...yes, you may fly but only after we've done this properly." She turned to the woman. "Molly Weasley, you must be Mrs. Tonks. Welcome to our home."
"Andromeda, please. Thank you, Molly. May I call you Molly?"
"Of course, of course." She pulled Ron in front of her. "This is our Ron and..." She reached over and pulled Harry in front as well. "And this is Harry Potter. Boys..."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Very nice to meet you, Mrs. Weasley. Auntie, may I..."
Andromeda rolled her eyes and waved her hands as if she was shooing chickens. "Go, go, Quidditch mad...just go. Go."
That was all the encouragement the boys needed as they all ran outside. As Andromeda sniffed in irritation and Molly hesitantly chuckled they sat down for tea. Once everything had been prepared Andromeda took a sip and sighed. "If anyone would have told me a year ago it would be like this I would have signed them up for St. Mungo's."
Molly nodded. "It was rather a shock, Ron being sorted into Hufflepuff. All his brothers before in Gryffindor..."
Andromeda snorted and covered her mouth, which made both women giggle slightly. "I do apologise, but your Ron being sorted into Hufflepuff is nothing compared to when my nephew Draco Malfoy, son and heir of Lucius Malfoy, was sorted into Hufflepuff. A Hufflepuff Malfoy."
Molly nodded. "That was rather a shock."
"Enough to put Lucius in St. Mungo's." She took a sip of tea and looked to Molly. "You do know that's what happened? I thought it was common knowledge."
"Arthur didn't say, just that Lucius had taken ill." She hesitated for a moment. "There are all sorts of horrible rumours about the cause."
"Heart attack, plain and simple. He'd raised Draco to be a Slytherin since birth, and had figured Ravenclaw at the worst, but never Hufflepuff. His heart attack scared my sister, so she called me. Hadn't heard from her in years. That led to a few very...honest conversations."
Before anyone could respond the Floo once again came into life. Molly smiled as her husband gave her a little wave and then siphoned the Floo powder from the girl next to him.
"That was amazing! Than you, Mr. Weasley." The girl turned to the other two witches. "Thank you so much for having me. Hermione Granger."
"You're quite welcome, dear." Molly smiled. "They boys are outside on their brooms."
"As expected." Hermione shook her head. "Thank you. This way?" She pointed to a door. Seeing an affirmative nod she headed out the door.
After Arthur exchanged greetings with Andromeda he left to go find his daughter, saying they had plans, leaving the two witches alone once again. Andromeda peered out the window for a moment and then turned back to her hostess.
"So that is Miss Hermione Granger. I've heard quite a bit about her."
Molly nodded. "She's in Ravenclaw with Harry. Quite good friends. Very bright girl. I have to say, it's been wonderful for Ron to have a friend who shares his love of the Cannons. His brothers are horrible to him about it."
Andromeda took a sip of tea and very casually nodded. "Draco as well. I'll wager quite a bit of gold that Lucius never knew what he was doing when he took Draco to that match all those years ago." She paused, tapping her finger against the side of her tea cup, deciding. Eventually she set her cup down. "And all four of those children were involved with the Quirrell matter as well." She looked over to Molly and saw she'd hit a nerve. "I have my sources."
"Well...yes. Poor dears, no one should have to go through that their first year of Hogwarts."
"Agreed." Let's hope their remaining years at Hogwarts are much calmer."
The gloom had settled over the tent yet again. Hunting horcruxes was a proposition that was optimistic even with the clues that Dumbledore had given them before he was forced into hiding, healing his wounds, but now? After what they'd been through? It seemed hopeless.
Hopeless. That was the feeling Draco had more and more as the calendar had turned. Hopeless. There was no hope that now, even after everything that had happened, his father would ever see him as more than a timid Hufflepuff stereotype. Hopeless that he would ever see home again, his mum or aunt again. Hopeless that he would wake to see presents under the tree and have Dobby wake him for Christmas. But more than anything he was hopeless that Hermione would ever reciprocate his feelings.
He looked above him to the top bunk, listened intently, and slid out of bed. Ginny was on watch so that meant Harry would be sleeping fitfully above him. After the incident at Godric's Hollow he was a bit of a mess; only one of the few dreamless sleep potions they had left in their dwindling stock could ease his distress. Pulling the orange Cannons jumper over his head he rubbed his hands together briskly. Even with the warming charms he never could seem to be anything but cold. But it was all routine now, the tying of the trainers, the pulling on of the coat they'd taken from the ruined Muggle house. It still made him ashamed to think of what they'd done, but Ron had been right; the former owners were dead, the Death Eaters could be back at any moment and they were cold. It didn't fit quite right, a bit too short in the sleeves, but it was warm where it covered.
He opened the flap of the tent and felt the cold rush of air spread through his lungs. She turned and saw him immediately. Even though there was no way it could be anyone but him she followed procedure.
"What did Hermione say the last time you two flew on a broom?"
Draco blinked several times and lowered his chin to look at her, trying to give her the stern look that his mum used to give him when he'd been naughty. As it didn't work he stuffed his cold hands into the coat pockets. "Very funny. She asked if my broomstick could get any bigger so she wouldn't slide off. Horrible. You are horrible." He sat down next to her and put his back against the tree. "Just because you and Harry..."
Ginny shook her head. "None of that. You promised." After the two of them sat quietly for a moment she glanced at the tent and rapidly back to Draco, hoping he wouldn't notice. "So when are you going to tell her how you feel? It's obvious. I mean, Ron can tell and..."
"It's not that easy." He pulled a woolen stocking cap that Molly Weasley had knitted him that first year in Hufflepuff and put it on his head. It was a little small but he didn't mind. "Why would she ever think about me that way? Let's look at all I can offer, ok? I don't know if my father is still in hospital or is dead and to be honest I'm not sure which one would be preferable. Mum's in hiding, we have no gold because You-Know-Who took it all, people still don't trust me because I'm Lucius' son and think that being in Hufflepuff is just a trick and I'll..."
"We know you're not like that." Ginny shook her head. "Everybody at Hogwarts knows that."
"Unfortunately everybody doesn't go to Hogwarts." He sarcastically snorted. "If it wasn't for your brothers and Harry that first year I think the older Slytherins would have done me in. So..." He lifted up a hand and began ticking off on fingers. "I think she's wonderful but she'd never have be because I have no prospects." One finger. "We still don't know where the last horcrux is so we'll probably be out here forever. Not conducive to romance."
Ginny shook her head. "Me and Harry..."
"I'm not talking about you and Harry. You two are annoyingly romantic even in the most absurd situations. In situations that require vomiting to save one from poison most people will think about you two and be saved." He looked down and began staring at the leaves beneath his feet, slightly covered with snow. "As I was saying, for two, we're out here. Three...I'll always be a target." Third finger. "Four, she's way too intelligent to ever be interested in someone like me and five, well, I'm not good enough for her." He looked up to Ginny, ready to dispel her argument, but instead found her staring at the tent. For a moment in the pit of his stomach he hoped it wasn't what he thought.
It was. Looking away from Ginny, following her eyes he saw Hermione standing there, wrapped in a quilt. And with a look upon her face he was afraid to interpret. For a moment he thought about standing up and just walking as far as he could within the wards but knew that would be futile; she would find him. Instead the feeling of his breath moving in and out felt edged, the cold almost welcome. He closed his eyes again and did nothing but listen, hoping that from over by the tent he wouldn't hear any sounds, but instead he heard the squeak and crunch of snow under Ginny's shoes.
It was then he knew that it would all come out. Everything. All the feelings that he'd felt and had no idea how to process, everything seemingly all at once, and no concept of how to explain it to her. It had been easy to tell it to Ginny because there was no hope of it actually coming true, but now he'd be forced to say something. He'd have to tell her because he couldn't lie, not to her. And in his mind's eye he saw her listening and then telling him how she didn't feel the same, but that it was sweet, and that he was still her friend, and that he'd have to stay with her in the tent and one day, when it was over, he'd figure out what to...
His eyes opened quickly and his head shot up, a quick intake of breath, and somewhere in her face he saw something he hadn't had in ages. Hope. She sat down next to him, pulling the quilt closer. For a moment she just stared straight ahead. When she turned to him it was so abrupt that he involuntarily moved back, bumping his head against the tree.
She narrowed her eyes at him, gave him an expectant look about the tree and his head, but receiving none fixed him with a very firm look. "You're full of shit." After it was said she gave him a sarcastic smile. "Completely and utterly."
After a long sigh he shook his head. "You heard what I told Ginny." It was as he thought; it was too much to even hope that...
"And you're full of shit. I don't care that your name is Malfoy. I don't care that Lucius is your father, you refused his Death Eater...oh. Oh that's just..." She turned away and began to cringe. "And with my name it's even worse."
"What are you on about?" Draco looked at her oddly. "I don't understand."
"You've basically denied your father's wishes and refused to live up to the Malfoy name. I'm named after a character from...never mind. It doesn't matter." She paused. "No, actually it does matter. You're Draco the Cannons fan, Draco the Hufflepuff." As he closed his eyes she put a finger under his chin, bringing his face up towards hers. "And that's one of the reasons...oh, you idiot. You great idiot."
At that moment Draco expected her to say something, but instead she kissed him. And that's when it flooded him, making him warmer than he'd felt in ages. Hope.
Ginny Potter was pacing about the small room on the second floor of the pub, worrying her ring and muttering as her husband sat in a squashy chair contentedly. His pint was half-full, he was going to a Quidditch match in an hour and the kids were at the Burrow. He had just about let out another satisfied sigh when his wife rounded on him and pointed her finger at him.
"How in the hell can you drink that after last night? You were legless. I had to put your sorry arse to bed."
"Your mum made me a hangover potion."
"Mum." Ginny half-snarled and turned, ready to pace again when the door opened. Her irritated expression immediately changed. "There you are! About time!"
Draco shrugged. "We're on our honeymoon, I'm not worried about time."
Behind her husband, out of sight, Hermione shook her head dramatically. "Don't let him fool you, he did the time zone calculations so we wouldn't miss the off of the Snitch." She moved past Draco and greeted Ginny warmly. "You look well. You aren't again, are you?" She looked over to Harry who simply smiled, waved his pint pointedly in the air, and took a large drink.
"Harry and Mum are thrilled." Ginny rolled her eyes. "Maybe you should do it, too." As she looked over to Harry and Draco talking she narrowed her eyes, stared for a moment, then turned to back to Hermione. "So how far along?"
"How?" Hermione let her shoulders fall in an exasperated slump. "How'd you know?"
"Wasn't you, it was him." She nodded towards Draco. "I can always tell. I could always tell, even if you couldn't."
"Well, it took me long enough."
"Pffft." Ginny laughed. "That's an understatement."
Before Hermione could answer the door opened, the orange-clad and wide smile of Ron Weasley stopping all conversation. He held up a bottle of champagne. "Ballycastle just lost. WE'RE NOT FINISHING LAST!"
Draco erupted out of his seat, the pint of beer flying up and outwards, and as he embraced Ron they danced around the room, singing 'WE"RE NOT LAST, WE'RE NOT LAST' at the top of their lungs.
Hermione smiled at her husband as she watched the men pull Harry out of his chair to join their singing. She leaned against the wall as Ginny handed her a bottle of fizzy water. "Where would we be without Quidditch?"
Ginny clinked her bottle softly against Hermione's. "I'm afraid to ask."