In regards to Schuikichiro's review...thanks for pointing out McGonagall's not worrying too much about Hermione and the others (I hadn't thought about that, actually). As for Draco's role in the plot-line...I've read quite a few fics where he accompanies the Trio on all of their adventures — it gets redundant after a while, so I decided to write in a different direction. As for the fact that Draco's presence doesn't change anything, well...let's just say that this fic won't be deviating from the canon plot-line for quite a while (sorry).

Well, on with the story, then...

Chapter 20

Draco walked down on the pavement with a smile, which the dingy surroundings failed to rub off, wearing Muggle clothing. A 'Duffle coat', to be exact. He didn't mind, though; it looked alright and it was rather comfortable.

Severus strode alongside him, wearing an 'Inverness cape' — which was rather similar to the black cloak he'd worn while spending time in the Wizarding world — and muttering about Professor Dumbledore and his 'insipid favouritism of Gryffindors'. Slytherin had lost the House Cup due to the Headmaster's last-minute dishing out of house-points to Hermione, Harry, Ron, and (shockingly enough) Longbottom.

Draco reminded him, cheerily, that he was in the company of a Gryffindor at the moment. His godfather turned around to face him. "You're an exception," the man insisted, "since you're a Slytherin at heart." The boy shrugged. He wouldn't be too sure about that… Shaking his head, the boy looked around.

Spinner's End was an unsavoury place, of a sort Lucius'd immediately peg as 'an example of the wretchedness of Mudbloods' should he ever drop by. There was a river closeby which had been dirtied by what Severus called 'human development'. (Draco couldn't think of how making the water putrid and full of rubbish would be seen as 'development', and decided to chalk it up to a difference in opinion.)

The town, heavily sunken in shadows, contained streets that were surrounded on both sides by houses that looked the same as each other; it was neither exactly creative nor quaint, seeing a large part of the dwellings were ramshackle and deserted. He couldn't see any gardens about, and the few trees they came across were either withered or dying. There was gloom and a sliver of hostility in the air.

It was in this place that Severus Snape lived, in a house on the end of the street. And now Draco was to do so as well during the summer months, since the adult had succeeded in gaining custody of him.

Before they had arrived, he'd admitted to his godson that he was, in fact, a Half-blood. It had been surprising, to say the least, and the towhead briefly wondered if Lucius or any of the Slytherins had known about this fact. The man had mentioned his parents fleetingly before smoothly changing the subject; he had a rotten childhood, apparently.

The two turned a corner and Draco gasped. He looked back at the picture of melancholy behind him, then at what laid in front of him. It was as if he had found himself at the border between 'Misery Town' and 'Felicity Village '. The scene in front of him was bright and sunny; there were blossoming flowers, a healthy green field, and nicely-grown shrubs scattered about the ground. In the distance, he spotted some odd-looking structures standing, evenly spaced out, close to each other. "What's that?" he pointed at the aforementioned place.

Severus had a faraway look in his eyes, as though he was reminiscing. "That's a playground."

"Play…ground?" The child repeated, staring at the place for a while. Turning abruptly, he took hold the man's arm and dragged him over to the spot.

He stopped in front of a collection of metal poles, which were joint at the top and connected to some chains that were linked to cresent-shaped things. "What's this?" It looked more like a torture device than a plaything.

"This is a swing." Severus gestured to the cresent-shaped form. "You sit on that and push yourself from the ground."

Draco sat down on the thing — his bangle made a cling! kind of sound when it came into contact with the metal chain — and kicked at the gravelly soil with his feet. He swung forwards and backwards for a bit. "Is that it?" The adult nodded. He gestured at the 'swing' next to him. "Can you show me, sir?"

A long silence. His godfather stood still, silently arguing with himself for quite some time before acquiescing with a sigh. Using both his feet, he launched himself off the ground. He repeated this process a couple of times, swinging himself higher up in the air each time.

Draco copied his movements. It was curiously refreshing to find oneself far away from the ground and getting close to the sky — in fact, he had more fun on this 'swing' than on a broomstick. He burst into delighted laughter, grinning broadly at Severus. Hesitantly, as though he were out of practice, the adult curved his mouth slightly upwards into a small smile.

Well, that's it for the first book...I won't be updating for a while, seeing as I haven't got the plot for the second book sorted out yet. So here's something for fanfic writers out there to tinker with in my absence:

Hogwarts was founded sometime in the 9th-10th century (according to Rowling, from Wikipedia). What'd it be like for the Muggleborns at that time to find out that they were witches and wizards? Here's an idea for a Harry Potter fanfic: An illiterate/barely literate child labourer during the Industrial Revolution (a mine-worker, a doffer, a chimney sweep, etc.) recieves a Hogwarts letter. What kinds of adventures would he or she have? I suppose it may sound a little Dickensian...oh, well.