I am really sorry, this was supposed to be a Harry chapter, at least partially, but I couldn't quite mange it, although he does get a cameo. For a staring role he's going to have to wait for the next one.
This chapter is brought to you by the kindness of my parents and their internet connection. Having no internet is really strange, it's like going back to the stone age.
Draco opened his eyes. The unfamiliar sound that had woken him resolved into the whistling-breath of Goyle's snores. Turning over grumpily, he wriggled deeper into the bed and pulled the covers over his head.
It was completely beneath his dignity to have to put up with that idiot's mouth breathing. He didn't see why he couldn't have his own room.
He had said as much to father. It hadn't gone well. His father looked down at him like he couldn't believe Draco was bothering him with these irrelevances,
"I am sure you will survive the mortification," he said and turned back to his accounts.
Draco hadn't even tried with his mama. When he complained to his mama about anything at all, she just tilted her head and said,
"You should rise above such matters Draco. You are, after all, almost a Black."
Mama was a Black. When he was little Draco thought she was a beautiful, stately queen straight out of his story books. When he told her that she had laughed her delicate laugh, like tinkling bells, and explained she was a Black, which was even better than being a queen. Draco couldn't imagine anybody daring to impinge upon his mama's gravity by doing indecorous things like snoring.
Goyle was still whistling away like an overdone kettle. Draco rolled over and put one hand over his ear.
He had asked Cousin Sirius about a private room too. Cousin Sirius had laughed, but not nastily, and explained that everyone had to share at Hogwarts because, "it builds character." Then he had laughed again and said,
"Not that I was ever in favour of having my character built. Not much fun all in all." And next time he saw him, his cousin gave him an extra present. A small book entitled 'Privacy Charms'.
"It will be good practice for you."
Draco slid out of his bed, knelt on the cold stone floor and carefully drew his trunk out from beneath the bed. After lifting the lid in one quick move to reduce the creak as much as possible, he rooted through it for his book.
His feet were icy cold by the time his hand found the small leather volume. Quickly, he burrowed back beneath the covers. Drawing his wand, he cast Lumnos, delighting in the feel of the magic responding to him, and studied his prize.
Cousin Sirius had written on the frontpiece, 'To my little cousin Draco Malfoy, with my best wishes for Hogwarts. Owl me if you need me, or even if you don't."
It was awfully nice of Cousin Sirius to bother about him. Of course Draco was his secondary heir, but Draco was old enough now to realise Cousin Sirius would get married one day and have lots of heirs. He needn't really bother with Draco at all, especially given how rich and important he was.
Not only did he have all the Black fortune, which had more heirlooms than galleons, and Potter fortune, with more galleons than heirlooms; he also had the Lestrange fortune, which had both. Draco's father was not happy about that at all. He said the Lestrange fortune should have come to Draco's mama because she was Aunt Bellatrix's heir, not Cousin Sirius. But Aunt Bellatrix wasn't dead, so that slippery conniving bastard who isn't nearly as clever as he likes to think and one day I'll prove it – Cousin Sirius, his father meant – received every sickle.
Draco had been desperately curious to know more. There hadn't been anybody he could ask. His father always grew angry and shouty when Aunt Bellatrix was mentioned and it made his mama sad to talk about Aunt Bellatrix. He had tried asking Cousin Sirius but Cousin Sirius just looked grim and unhappy and told him it was ancient history he shouldn't worry about.
Finally he found the newspaper clippings in a scrapbook tucked away with the photograph albums his mama kept in the bottom of her wardrobe in her boudoir. Draco wasn't supposed to look at them, but when his parents went on their trips abroad there wasn't anybody to stop him.
The first page of clippings made no sense at all, some unnamed girl had run away with a man, which was very shocking, although Draco didn't quite understand why. The next page had only one tiny cutting, pasted right in the centre of the paper.
'Regulus Black, disappeared and now presumed dead.'
Draco knew better than to ask either Mama or Cousin Sirius who that was.
Next there was a huge, full-page spread that hung over the edges of the scrapbook. It showed Cousin Sirius been taken away to Azkaban. The few pages after that were all about Cousin Sirius' trial, before finally he was declared innocent. Draco didn't like to look at those pages because it made his stomach hurt seeing his big, boisterous cousin look so miserable and ill
After that came Aunt Bellatrix.
The first time he saw the pictures, Draco flinched so badly, he dropped the book. His Aunt was screaming, fighting the hands of two Aurors, flinging herself about in their grip as she twisted her head to snap her teeth at them.
His cousin stood inside a cluster of Aurors and reporters. Blood was matted in his hair and smeared vivid red across his cheek and neck. He was icy pale, even his lips. They were pressed into flat line, harsh and hurting. He held his wand in his right hand and with his left, clutched a large blanket-wrapped bundle tight to his chest. A mediwizard kept trying to take the bundle off him and Cousin Sirius kept refusing to let it go. If Draco watched the photograph for long enough Cousin Sirius would eventually slam his elbow into the mediwizard's nose.
Some of the printed words were hard to make out because they'd been smudged by drops of water, but Draco read them all carefully.
'The blast that rocked the Black Family Mansion last night was felt by Wizards across London. Aurors rushed to the scene to find the usually impenetrable Mansion's wards had dropped, their power sucked dry by their Lord.
Inside they found a scene we all hoped was gone forever. In a room wrecked by explosive magic Rabastan and Rodolphus Lestrange and their assistant lay dead. The Dowager Lady Black, smashed into the wall by a vicious blasting hex, was unconscious. Bellatrix Lestrange, the eldest cousin of Lord Black, was apprehended fleeing the Mansion
Lord Black explained to shocked Aurors that he had been attacked in his own home by his cousin and her partners in an attempt to question him on the events of last Halloween. He provided no explanation for how they gained access to the property, known to be the most protected private residence in the Wizarding World.
Lord Black claimed his mother, who lives with him, walked in during his interrogation and was attacked in turn by his assailants. During the confusion he managed to grab a knife and fight back.
The Lestrange brothers and their accomplice died from multiple stab wounds. Barty Crouch Snr, Head of Magical Law Enforcement stated that all five wands were smashed and the fight finished in the bloodiest of Muggle fashions. Barty Crouch Snr, already under fire for the debacle of Lord Black's innocent verdict, is believed to be retiring shortly.
When pressed for a comment, Lord Black said, "They attacked Lord Black in the fucking family mansion, what did they fucking think was going to happen? I know she only admitted I was Lord Black for the five minutes she was actually pleased with me, but fucking hell."
Lord Black collapsed at the scene and was transported to St Mungos, where he was treated for exposure to the Cruciatus curse.'
The next page showed Aunt Bellatrix being taken to Azkaban. It didn't say much about her though, only that she'd confessed to being a follower of You-Know-Who. The rest of the words were about Cousin Sirius. How he had taken the opportunity of the time gap between the Lestrange brothers dying and Bellatrix running away to have Bellatrix indicted for the crime of patricide because she had attacked the Head of her Family, Bellatrix reverting to the Black family on the death of her husband. This meant Bellatrix forfeited to the Head of her Family all her worldly goods, which quite coincidentally included the Lestrange fortune she had just inherited from her husband.
The paper called him 'a jailhouse lawyer whose shameless manipulation of the justice system is an affront to all decent minded Wizards' and a 'scofflaw of the most dissolute and degraded type.' Draco studied the words closely for later use, but mostly ignored them in relation to his cousin. He was used to the papers saying nasty things about his Cousin Sirius.
The next page again had only a tiny cutting. 'Lord Black has announced the Boy-Who-Lived is his heir. Is this more cynical manipulation from the master? Or an attempt at reparations? Lord Black made no further comment. Gnawstalk, the Goblin Recorder of Wills and Trusts confirmed that the adoption ceremony took place three days after Lord Black contrived his release from Azkaban.'
That used to be the last page in the scrapbook, but when Draco looked again, just before he left for Hogwarts, a new page had been added showing that year's Hogwarts graduation class. Draco had looked very carefully but none of students was named Black so he wondered why his mama kept it. He would have like to have asked her, but of course he couldn't. He thought he might risk asking Cousin Sirius next time he saw him.
Draco fidgeted in his bed and clutched his book a little tighter.
He was always slightly anxious about talking to Cousin Sirius, because his cousin was so nice. He was afraid one day he'd do something wrong and Cousin Sirius would wash his hands of him. The Blacks disowned people all the time and if even Cousin Sirius could be disowned, Draco didn't see how there was any hope for him.
He'd never even worked out what he'd done to make Cousin Sirius like him in the first place. Before they were introduced for the first time, his father'd had Draco in his study, standing poker straight before his desk, and explained to him how Draco had to be on his best behaviour or his father would be very disappointed in him. Draco had swallowed hard, because he knew what that meant.
Still shivering from the frost in his father's eyes, Draco had waited quietly by his mama until they were summoned. His mama hadn't sat serenely still as she usually did, but walked up and down the small hall. Draco had watched the tassels on the hem of her pretty silver dress bounce up and down with each step. Hardly able to believe it, he realised his formidable mama was worried.
He hadn't been sure whether he was angry with Cousin Sirius for upsetting his mama, or even more scared.
When the house elf had summoned them, his mama, incredibly, had knelt down on the floor in her pretty dress to look at Draco. She flicked her wand to add an extra sheen to his boots and ironed flat the cuff of his robe where his anxious fingers had twisted it. Then she smoothed his hair into place with her own graceful hands.
"There," she said. "You will do."
To Draco's intense delight, she actually kissed his forehead.
"Make me proud, Draco."
She straightened up and flicked her wand to remove the creases in her dress from bending down. Draco gently touched his fingers to the spot her lips had touched, trying to hold onto the sensation.
Stumbling along after her, Draco had stared at the floor and feverishly tried to remember all of Cousin Sirius' full list of titles, because what if he forgot one and offended such a magnificent personage?
They entered the green drawing room, the one Draco was never normally allowed in. His father stood upright by the window, hands clasped behind his back. Draco wanted to run over to him and beg him to make everything all right but knew from the sternness on his father's face that he would, at best, just be pushed away.
"Sirius," said his mama, "how lovely to see you again."
There was a creak as Cousin Sirius rose from the sofa to bow over his mama's hand.
"Narcissa, you look as beautiful as ever."
"Thank you. May I have permission to introduce my son to you, Lord Black."
"I would be delighted to meet him, Mrs Malfoy."
Recognising his cue, Draco inched forwards and risked peeking up at Cousin Sirius. He caught a glimpse of long dark hair and grey eyes before tucking back in on himself.
"Lord Black, this is my son Draco Malfoy."
His mama's hand sharp on his shoulder forced him forwards. Draco knew he was supposed to speak, had rehearsed the words endlessly, but to his horror he couldn't even open his mouth. He started to shake.
"Sweet Merlin, Cissy. You've terrified the poor kid half to death." Arms suddenly wrapped themselves around Draco and lifted him high. He'd been too scared to scream – he was grateful for that afterwards.
"Come on little cousin, it's okay I promise. Come on now, calm down. You'll stroke out if you keep that up."
To Draco's surprise the arms weren't hurting him, they were just strong and there. He clutched at the body in front of him for balance and the arms curled around him tighter. Still not hurting, but secure and warm.
Cousin Sirius went on talking, his voice soft and gentle. It was a little like the tone Mama had used back when she read him stories. They moved, the armchair squeaked and Draco found himself sitting on Cousin Sirius' lap, Cousin Sirius still holding him with careful hands. Inexplicably, he was suddenly sure everything was going to be all right. He was so relieved he nearly disgraced himself by bursting into tears.
"Sssh, sssh, it's okay little cousin. Come on, I'm not that bad. Here now, tell me about yourself. What do you do in this great big house all day?"
Draco tried to answer but his tongue was too thick and uncooperative.
"Lessons I bet. What do you do for fun? Do you have any pets?"
Draco managed to shake his head.
"No? We'll have to do something about that. Can't have you showing up at Hogwarts unable to look after your own owl."
Draco raised his head a bit. That almost sounded like...
"You like the idea, huh? Well you need a welcome to the family present. I think a puffskein will do the job admirably. If that's okay with you of course, Lucius?"
"Far be it from me to reject any gift you choose to give my son," said his father, in the stiff voice that meant he was very annoyed.
Draco quaked a little and one large hand stroked through his hair.
"Oh not as a main gift Lucius, that would hardly be the proper way to recognise Draco as my secondary heir. No the puffskein will be for the boy, it doesn't do to give a small child an expensive pet to practice on, you know. As for the official gift, I'm sure I can find something appropriate in the Black Family Vault."
"That's more than good of you, Lord Black." Draco's father sounded pleased with himself and Draco heaved a sigh of relief.
"Please Lucuis, call me Sirius, we are family. Now Draco tell me, are you flying yet?"
The chance to talk about his favourite subject was not one to be missed. Draco explained all the tricks he could manage on his broom, he'd recently managed to stay balanced on one foot for almost a whole circuit of the Rose Garden. Cousin Sirius listened intently, and even suggested trying to fly a broom while doing a handstand, which Draco had never thought of at all.
"The trick," Cousin Sirius explained, "is to make sure your hands are quite far apart, for balance you see. You'll need to practice on the ground first."
"Perhaps Sirius," said his mama, "you should supervise Draco's attempts."
"Oh please," begged Draco.
"If your father says I may."
"You are welcome in my house anytime," said his father.
"Thank you Lucius. Then yes Draco, I will stop by next week."
Draco tried hard not to pout. Next week was ages away.
Cousin Sirius laughed, "I should remember how long next week is for small boys. Shall we say tomorrow afternoon instead. Cissy?"
"Thank you Sirius."
"Very good then." Cousin Sirius set Draco back on the ground. "You better go with your mama now, little cousin. Your father and I need to talk business."
"Yes sir, I mean, my lord. Thank you."
"Come along Draco," said his mama, quickly ushering him out the room.
"Congratulations Cissy," Cousin Sirius had called after them.
"Thank you my lord," said his mama. As soon as the door was shut, she smiled at Draco.
"Well done, my little dragon."
Draco wasn't quite sure what he had done, but he was glad he'd made his mama happy.
Afterwards, his father called him back into his study. Draco had been cautiously hoping for more praise.
"I was extremely disappointed with your performance. I had not thought to raise such a snivelling worm –"
Draco closed his eyes.
Draco's eyes popped back open.
"–Your cousin has persuaded me it was mere lack of experience –"
He would have loved Cousin Sirius for that, if nothing else.
"– Therefore you will immediately begin to attend such assemblies as will be appropriate. Sirius informs me that his ward will also attend. I expect your performance to be better than your cousin's pet mudblood."
Draco nodded his head obediently.
And that was how he met Harry Black. He liked Harry, although he had nobody but his puffskein to admit it to.
That first assembly, hearing the loud, spiky chatter of the crowd as he stood with Cousin Sirius and Harry, should have been terrifying. Somehow though, with Cousin Sirius' hand on his shoulder, it was easy to forget he was a snivelling worm and remember he was almost a Black.
Draco's father always spoke disparagingly about Cousin Sirius' little boy, so he had tried snubbing Harry. Glancing up at Cousin Sirius for approval, he had received an awful frown in response. So he had offered to play Gobstones instead and was warmed all over by Cousin Sirius' beaming smile of praise.
Cousin Sirius was wild, noisy and bold compared to Draco's own father. But somehow, despite being rather alarming, Cousin Sirius was much easier to be around. You always knew where you were with him. With his father, Draco often had no idea if he was doing well or badly until his father had lost his temper and started shouting. Draco always knew then.
He didn't quite understand what Cousin Sirius thought of Harry. Cousin Sirius said lots of unpleasant things about Harry in public but when nobody was there but Draco, he'd always hold Harry's hand. And when there were other people there he'd still keep in contact with Harry; gentle restraint at the top of stairs, drawing him close in a crowd, and firm support when Harry faced someone new. Even the cuffs across the back of Harry's head looked more like pats from Draco's eye-level viewpoint.
Draco was careful not to think about it too hard because it made him wonder too much about his own father.
Twisting around in his bed, he gave up on trying to sleep. Faint dawn light was already glowing in the enchanted window on the side of the dungeon wall. Soon it would be the golden sunrise that was charmed to appear at the same hour every day to wake them in time for breakfast.
If Draco got up now, he could at least have the bathroom to himself, even if he couldn't have a private room. Draco couldn't help feeling there was something irredeemably Muggle about using a bathroom at the same time as other people.
It was still fiercely cold, the warming charms hadn't kicked in yet and Draco was too uncertain to cast his own. Cousin Sirius had warned him to wait until he had better control of his magic or he'd risk giving himself a nasty burn in his enthusiasm to be warm.
Draco scuttled about, washing and cleaning his teeth as quickly and briefly as possible, before hurrying back to his room to dress in his Hogwarts uniform and pull on his new black cloak. He was rather sorry there wasn't a mirror available because he liked to see himself in his smart uniform, looking he thought, thoroughly grown up and almost like a Black.
He straightened his uniform to pristine correctness and slicked his hair into place as best he could without a mirror. Then he took a deep breath, collected his satchel and his current book and strode determinedly towards the common room.
He was a Slytherin and almost a Black. He was not scared.
To his intense relief there was almost nobody in the common room. A few older years were scattered about the tables, heads down concentrating on their books. Three or four students were sitting in armchairs by the fire, which, wonderfully, was burning bright. Draco spotted a free armchair and made a beeline for it. With swift, covert glances he took in the position of the other students. Reassured they were doing the same, he felt able to cuddle down into the comfy old-fashioned leather and pull the green blanket down from the back and tuck it over his knees.
He pulled out his latest book and thumbed to the correct page. He never turned down the corners – that was just wrong. His books were precious, Cousin Sirius gave him one every time he visited.
Cousin Sirius' visits were the high spot of Draco's weeks. On especially lucky days Harry would come too, but there were always flowers or pretty jewels for Draco's mama and, after the first wonderful gift of his puffskein, books for Draco. Not the boring, heavy hard-backed volumes with their squinty print that Draco had inherited when he moved from his nursery to a proper bedroom, but light paper books with bright enticing covers and thrilling stories inside.
There was Pip and Emma, who teamed up to rescue Pip's Muggle-born mama from enslavement in the castle of the evil Count; Sejanus, a poor orphan whose wicked Uncle forced him into an apprenticeship with a cruel wandmaker; Corinna, who ventured out into the Muggle world for a frantic week that culminated in stowing away on a Muggle spaceship and flying to the moon. And whole series of books; Bertie and Ginger, who flew Muggle planes during the war against Grindlewald; the Dark Star, who went about righting wrongs while pretending to be lazy aristocrat Aloysius Speedwell; and the five Evans cousins, who frustrated the dastardly plots of numerous villains during their Hogwarts holidays.
Draco's absolute favourites were about Reggie, who lived with his horrid stepfather in a big lonely mansion, and his best friend Johnny, who was a werewolf. In the very first book Reggie finds Johnny hiding in the broom-shed bleeding from being attacked by the Werewolf hunters' crups. He hides the boy away from the vicious hunters and bravely steals potions from his stepfather's laboratory to heal him. His stepfather tries to thrash Reggie, but Johnny distracts him and is caught by the hunters...
Draco stayed up half the night reading under his covers until both boys made it safely to the end of the book. Johnny's whole family had been killed by the hunters and he had no where to go, so Reggie lets him stay in an unused bedroom in his step-father's mansion (which is Reggie's really but they don't find that out until the third book).
He had never had a best friend before but he wanted one very much. He wished secretly that Johnny, or somebody like him would decide to hide in Malfoy Manor's broom-shed. Draco wouldn't let anybody hunt them down.
So last night, when Tegwen Gwilt had said she was a werewolf and one of the big sixth years, hand on his wand, had said they should deal her like a werewolf, Draco had thought of Johnny, and stepped between Tegwen and the sixth year without hesitation.
The sixth year's eyebrows had beetled down and his grip had tightened on his wand. Draco had been fiercely scared, but he'd become lots better at hiding it since the day he first met Cousin Sirius. He tilted his head just like his mama did and said,
"Everyone knows werewolves aren't dangerous except on the nights of the full moon. You're acting like a bunch of scared Hufflepuffs."
The sixth year growled something Draco didn't catch in the general uproar. He stayed where he was. Behind him Tegwen said,
"Werewolves are not infectious except when the moon is full. However if you draw your wand you will discover they can still be dangerous."
The sixth year's face puffed up angry red.
Draco did his best imitation of his father's dismissive glare. Under his breath he ran through the incantation for the Jelly-Legs Jinx Cousin Sirius had taught him. He had a nasty suspicion it would be a lot harder to cast here than in the garden at Malfoy Manor while Cousin Sirius dodged obligingly slowly.
Before he had to put his casting ability to the test, one of sixth year's friends elbowed him in the side and hissed,
Professor Snape stalked into the room. He shouted but in a funny quiet way that was somehow louder than a yell. All the students went silent and then one of then started to explain.
Draco preened when Professor Snape told everybody that he, Draco, had been absolutely right. He'd know he was right, of course, but it was nice to hear somebody in authority say so.
Then Tegwen said she neededn't be ashamed of being a werewolf and everybody was shouting again. Draco didn't understand what all the fuss was about. Obviously Tegwen shouldn't be ashamed of being a werewolf, there was nothing be ashamed about.
The other Slytherins were all so loud and noisy and objectionable that Draco was quite ashamed of them. He offered Tegwen his arm like a proper pureblood should,
"My lady, may I escort you away from this uncivilized rabble."
Tegwen tilted her head and studied him for a second, then she smiled,
"Why thank you Mr Malfoy, I should be delighted."
Draco didn't have anywhere to escort her exactly, but he did need to take his owl outside so Artemis could carry his report on the Sorting to his father. His father would want to know immediately that the Boy-Who-Lived was a Hufflepuff, though if he'd listened to Draco he could have know months ago. Harry had been completely determined to be a Hufflepuff (for reasons Draco just couldn't understand), and Harry failing at something he'd set his mind to was even more unlikely than the Puffs being stupid enough to turn him down.
Draco picked up Artemis' cage with his free hand, and he and Tegwen strolled out the common room.
He had wanted to ask her about being a werewolf, but he knew that would be rude. Instead he asked her who her favourite Quidditch team were, then winced because none of Pureblood girls he met at the assemblies liked Quidditch. The only girl he knew who did was Harry's best friend Susan.
But Tegwen just smiled and said,
"The Holyhead Harpies, obviously. And the Brecon Rovers, don't bother to say you've never heard of them, nobody outside of Wales ever has."
But Draco had heard of them,
"My friend Harry likes them. He says they're die-hards who'll slog it out until it doesn't matter which Seeker catches the snitch."
"That's them." Tegwen grinned.
"It's a bit of rubbish tactic really. Harry likes that sort of thing because he's a Beater," said Draco with scorn, "even though he's so little and fast he should play Seeker. Cousin Sirius is a Beater too. It's cause their both Philistines, Mama says. Father played Chaser, but I think Seeker is best because you're the one who wins the match. What position do you play?"
"Chaser. And it's Chasers who win the match, no matter what you ego-tripping Seekers think," she smiled slyly.
Horrified by this heresy, Draco cried, "Oh come on!"
And the battle commenced.
They were still arguing, when Professor Snape found them.
"What in Merlin's name are you doing squabbling in the corridors, you ill-disciplined brats."
"We're not squabblin'," said Draco, affronted. "We are discussing the finer points of the matter."
"Right." Professor Snape's eyes closed briefly. "Why are you in the corridor?"
"I need to send my father an owl."
"Of course you do." Professor Snape glared, and Draco started to fidget nervously because his father would not be pleased if he didn't receive the letter, even if Draco had told him what it would say months ago.
"Fine," the Professor relented. "Follow me."
The Professor led them around two quick turns and up a short staircase until they reached a window which he opened.
Draco hurriedly knelt down to let Artemis out her cage. She hopped onto his arm and he carried to window.
"Of you go then girl. Give the letter to father, but don't eat any of the toast he offers you. It's not good for you."
Artemis hooted in reply, leapt smoothly off his arm and took flight. Professor Snape shut the window with a bang.
"If you are quite ready Mr Malfoy..."
"Thank you Professor," said Draco, remembering his manners.
"Hmph, very well. Let us return to the dormitory." They started to walk. An even sourer expression briefly crossed the Professor's face.
"Miss Gwilt, I regret to inform you there may be some issue with you joining the first year girl's dormitory immediately. For tonight I think it best if you sleep in the room set aside for a Slytherin head girl, which is empty at present. Tomorrow we will make further arrangements."
"Thank you Professor."
"You get your own room," said Draco enviously, "how lucky is that."
"Very lucky," said Tegwen. Draco didn't think she sounded as happy he would though. The blankness of her face made him feel bad, though he wasn't sure why.
"We can go flying tomorrow," he said; because flying always made him feel better. "Once we've had our first lesson, Harry and I are going to play some one on one. You can come too and then Susan can join in as well. It will be fun, do come?" He held his breath hopefully. He desperately wanted to be able take Tegwen along and introduce her to Harry, and Susan, who wouldn't be as annoying if he had a best friend of his own.
Not that he really minded Susan, but when she and Harry spoke together, Draco was left feeling as if he should apologise for eavesdropping. Even when they are talking about something completely innocuous like Harry's pet dog.
"Great," Draco grinned. "Susan's a beater too, because she and Harry always do everything the same. And they always argue that it's the Beaters who win the game."
"Oh now that is just ridiculous."
Draco beamed. Tegwen had lost that horrible bleak look and now he had an ally against the Beater conspiracy. Tegwen might have some weird ideas about Chasers but she had a proper understanding of where Beaters came in the hierarchy.
Professor Snape had shown Tegwen the head girl's room, then given Draco directions to the first year boy's dormitory. Before he dismissed him, Professor Snape had stared fiercely at him, as if he was trying to see the magic inside him. Draco ducked his head
"Go to bed Mr Malfoy."
So Draco had, and had even managed to fall asleep despite his relief and excitement and the huffling breaths of the other sleeping boys.
He gave up on reading, the excitement of the Pranksters Adventures at Hogwarts paled in comparison to the excitement of actually being at Hogwarts. Peeking over the top of the book, he darted quick looks around the common room taking everything in.
The door opened, everyone turned to stare, and Tegwen walked in.
Everybody kept on staring.
"Hi Tegwen, did you sleep well?"
"Yes thank you," she said, looking around the room like she expected somebody to tell she wasn't wanted there.
Draco knew how that felt. Harry and Cousin Sirius had a way of walking into a strange room full of unknown people as if it was the easiest thing in the world. Draco was helplessly envious of them. The best he could do was imitate his father's head in the air, you are bugs beneath my feet, stare.
"Come sit with me," he called, beckoning her over.
Tegwen's face brightened. She walked over to him and Draco admired her firm, steady pace and relaxed posture. When he was feeling nervous, he usually gave himself away by hunching up his shoulders. If he spotted it, his father would rap him across his shoulders with his cane to remind him not to slouch. Cousin Sirius never said anything about slouching but he always made sure to stand especially close. It was impossible not to uncurl in Cousin Sirius' presence, it was like standing in the sunshine.
One time Harry had caught him out, and he had actually taken Draco's hand in his.
Draco snatched his hand back, revolted and embarrassed, "What are you playing at Black?"
"I always hold Susan's hand when she's feeling nervous."
"I am not," said Draco with great dignity, "nervous."
"If you say not," said Harry cordially and jabbed him under the ribs with two sharp fingers.
"Hey," he'd yelped and had forgotten all about being nervous.
Harry poked him between the ribs rather a lot. Maybe, Draco thought hopefully, Tegwen could come to the next assembly and he could hold her hand to stop her feeling nervous.
He smiled as she arrived at his armchair and wriggled over to make room for her to sit down. She heeled off her shoes and perched herself easily on the arm, placing her feet on the seat cushion for balance. Draco flipped his blanket over her knees.
"Thank you," said Tegwen, tucking it around herself to keep the heat in. "Did you sleep well?"
Draco opened his mouth to complain about the racket the other boy's made and then closed it again. Harry teased him about being prissy, and while Draco certainly was not, he didn't want anybody making the same mistake as Harry.
"It was okay," he said. "I'm looking forward to the tour of the school, aren't you?"
"Oh yes. I've heard all about it, but it isn't the same as being here." She cast an awed look around the common room.
Draco bounced slight in his seat before he remembered himself. "I know I –"
"Malfoy! There you are!"
Draco jerked round to stare at Goyle lumbering towards him.
"Yes I am here. Was there something you required?" He tried to draw himself up to his full height but it was too hard in the squishy armchair. Deciding, Tegwen had the right idea, he eeled up to sit on the opposite arm. The change in position left him able to look down on Goyle, which was a definite improvement.
Goyle's face screwed up as a thought developed.
"What are you sitting with her for? She's a girl."
"What does that have to do with anything?" asked Draco, completely perplexed.
"Yeah," demanded a girl who'd just appeared. She was almost as big as Goyle. "Are you saying there's something wrong with girls?"
"Uh." Goyle's mouth hung open. After a moment, he just turned his back on his questioner and restated his position, "Boys shouldn't sit with girls. If they do they're sissies."
"That's ridiculous," said Draco confidently. Harry was the most un-sissy boy Draco knew and Harry always sat by Susan if he had the choice.
"A better question," said another voice, loud and truculent, "is why is Malfoy is sitting with the werewolf."
"Higgs, careful now," warned another boy.
Draco twisted around to spot the first speaker. It was the angry sixth year from the night before. He still didn't understand why the boy was so cross.
"Tegwen's my friend. Why shouldn't I sit with her?"
He felt Tegwen jump through the chair but she controlled it so well, nobody else would have been able to tell.
Higgs stalked forwards, "So you admit to being friends with the beast. Or rather the bitch."
"You can't say that!" squawked Draco, completely shocked. And was mortified to hear how high-pitched and squeaky his words sounded. He took a deep slow breath to ensure his voice would come out steady. "No true Wizard would use such a term in a Witch's presence. Standards certainly appear to have slipped at Hogwarts. I shall be writing to my father about it."
"Oh you arrogant little git." Higgs yanked hard at the back of armchair, the whole thing pivoted on its back legs, tipping them backwards. Draco clutched instinctively at Tegwen and she grabbed him in return. Together they managed to maintain their balance and shift slightly to adjust to the new angle.
Draco remembered Cousin Sirius' trick of talking to one person, while aiming the words at another. He smiled at Tegwen,
"I am sorry," he said, "I don't what has come over the poor chap. Do you think he is suffering from the effects of the cold?"
"Quite possibly," she replied, as the sixth year jostled the chair trying to unseat them. Unfortunately for him Draco had been keeping his seat on a broom since he was four and Tegwen seemed equally apt. "Perhaps we should summon the school nurse?"
Roaring with frustration, Higgs hauled on the chair, levering it onto one back leg and spinning the whole thing around to send it, and them, clattering across the floor.
It had been inevitable, and Draco had taken the precaution of clenching his teeth tight together so he was able to smash into the floor without disgracing himself. After all he'd been crashing off his broom since Harry first visited Malfoy Manor.
"What is the meaning of this?"
Draco's rattled brain realised it was Professor Snape. He and Tegwen hurriedly scrambled to their feet.
"Mr Higgs, I believe I was excruciatingly clear about the conduct I expected from my House with regard to Miss Gwilt."
Higgs, pale face and flushed cheeks, growled, "She's a werewolf."
"He does keep saying that," said Tegwen, "as if it were some form of logical argument. I do believe you are right Draco, the cold has affected his brain."
"Naturally," said Draco in his grandest manner. "No Slytherin would act like that if he were in his right mind."
Professor Snape's eyes narrowed, "Is this correct Mr Higgs? Has the cold turned your head?"
"Yes sir," he muttered sulkily, "sorry sir."
"Your apologies would be better directed elsewhere, but we shall not aim for the moon. Report to Madam Pomfrey and request a draught of Kowalski's Purgative."
"Sir!" Higgs glared at the Potion's Master. Professor Snape glared back and eventually Higgs' gaze dropped, "Yes sir."
"Very good. You may go."
"Yes sir," he mumbled and fled.
"The rest of you may go to breakfast. Miss Gwilt, if you will remain here."
Draco stayed too. Professor Snape glared, but it was half-hearted in comparison to Draco's father so he didn't have any problems staying put as the room emptied around them.
"Draco is my friend, sir, I don't mind if he stays."
Draco had to call on all his father's training to restrain the smile that was trying to split his face in two. He stepped a little closer to Tegwen.
"As you will Miss Gwilt. Now I am afraid to say I have already received a number of owls that suggest it may be unsuitable for you to join the first year girl's dormitory."
"I understand, sir. It's okay. I can stay on my own."
"No," snapped Professor Snape. "I will approach the Prefects for volunteers after breakfast."
"She can stay with me," said Draco eagerly.
"Mister Malfoy, are you suggesting you and Miss Gwilt share a room."
"No, but we could share one of the upper year suites." Draco's eagerness grew as he realised what that meant. "We'd have our own rooms," he tried hard to keep his delight at the idea off his face, "and we'd share the sitting and bath room."
He looked beseechingly up at Professor Snape and bit his tongue to stop himself begging. It sounded like heaven, he'd have his own room, and he'd get to share with his new friend.
"I would not be opposed to the idea," said Tegwen hopefully.
"Hmph," grunted Professor Snape. "Very well, we will attempt the experiment on a trial basis."
"Thank you, sir," Draco remained determinedly correct and polite, while inside he was dancing.
"Yes sir. Thank you indeed. I am very grateful," said Tegwen.
"Hmph. Go to breakfast. I will speak to the house elves."
"Thank you sir."
Tegwen grabbed his hand and they ran quickly from the common room before the Professor could change his mind.