Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter universe, or the real one for that matter.
Scribe's Note: This was originally meant to be a one-shot, but I've decided to break it into two pieces. Read, REVIEW, and hopefully ENJOY!
There must have been a thousand better ways to commit suicide; including conjuring a piano to fall on his head or downing a goblet of firewhiskey laced with doxycide, but Draco Malfoy was sick of magic. He would go out the old-fashioned way, a final "fuck you" to his father. Imagining the look on old Lucius Malfoy's face when he learned that his son had died in the most muggle way possible was worth the bus fare Draco had spent to get to Trafalgar Square. Those odd, little muggle vehicles sped past in a blur. Draco was amused by the honking noises they sometimes made. He'd been standing on the curb for the better half of an hour, content to drink in a world he'd always detested. Tonight though it was all so beautiful; the gum stuck to his shoe and the nearby litter bin that smelled faintly of rotting cabbage. Beautiful. His heart even went out to the muggles scampering around like lost children, ignorant to the mysteries right under their noses. In fact, Draco envied them. The darkest things they'd ever been exposed to were perhaps chicken pox and an economic recession. What did they know of true evil? With their shopping bags and cheery smiles, they bumbled about blindly. They were almost, dare he admit it, adorable in their innocence.
You don't have to do this, Draco. The voice of Albus Dumbledore rose from the cracks in the sidewalk. Draco shook his head, as though trying to rid himself of a pestering fly, but Dumbledore never went away. Three years since the Dark Lord had fallen, three cheers for Potter, but it was still a fresh wound in Draco's mind, leaking poison to the rest of him. He couldn't close his eyes without reliving the night Dumbledore had fallen. It didn't help to know that the old man was dying anyways. It didn't even help to know that he hadn't been the one to send the dodgy headmaster over the tower's edge, because the memories went far deeper than that. They had embedded themselves into his very tissues to simmer below the skin. They were a constant itch he couldn't scratch and there was Dumbledore's voice bouncing between his ears. You don't have to do this, Draco.
No one had told him that before Albus Dumbledore. It had always been 'Draco do this' and 'Draco be that' and he was happy when things were that way, with people telling him what to do. But now? Now there was nothing. Not since Dumbledore had given him a choice. It had been like someone setting a Blast-Ended Skrewt lose on his groin; a painful and degrading blow to his manhood. At the top of that astronomy tower, four years ago, with Dumbledore's bloody words bouncing off the walls, Draco Malfoy asked himself the single worst question anyone can ask themselves. Who am I? No really, who am I? Four years later he still couldn't find the answer and he was sick of searching. He'd already tried all the obvious answers. "I am a pureblood. I am a Malfoy. I am a coward. I am afraid of steaming teapots. I am Lucius Malfoy's son. I am a bloody idiot with dragon vomit for brains." Though he was admittedly a pureblood idiot, it didn't satisfy the initial question. Really all he wanted was someone to tell him who he was and get it over with, but the world had lost interest in Draco Malfoy. Truth be told he had lost interest in himself. This was the reason he was currently standing on the curb, his left foot moving forward.
You really, really don't have to do this, Draco. In fact it would be wise if you didn't.
"Shut-up, you dead dunderhead," Draco grumbled under his breath. A thousand better ways to commit suicide, but he had chosen this one. As he let his right foot follow the left into the crosswalk, Draco laughed at the irony. This was perhaps the first choice he'd made on his own and hopefully it would be the last. Not so much as a single doubt skipped across his mind as he closed his eyes and ventured further out into the busy street. Those odd, little muggle cars had begun their odd, little honking sounds again, almost like they were screaming at him. Draco smiled. He stopped walking and waited. And he waited. And he wondered if death was really painless. He'd never asked anyone, because the only people who would have known were consequently dead. Perhaps it had already happened. Perhaps his life was over and it had happened so quickly he'd missed it. Draco cracked his eyes ever so slightly to check. Blinding light flooded through the small slit in his eyelids. There was a screech that reminded him of banshees. Still no pain. Strange.
"Did you know that they're all driving around you?"
"I told you to shut-up already!" Draco groaned, closing his eyes completely again. "Can't you even let me die in peace, Dumbledore?"
"Well I just thought I'd let you know that if you're truly trying to die, you're doing a poor job of it. And what's a Dumbledore?"
"What's a D…" Draco opened his eyes, opened them and closed them, before opening them again and slapping himself in the face. The girl beside him watched on as he went through this process several times. Neither of them seemed to notice the angry drivers shouting equally angry words from their windows as they passed on either side. After a bit, Draco's fit of near insanity subsided. The handprints on his cheeks began to fade.
"Are you terribly busy right now?" the girl queried. How he had confused her voice for Dumbledore's, Draco would never know. She sounded more like a cat whose tail had just been run over by a bus. Or perhaps just someone with a terrible head cold.
"Busy?" Draco repeated. "Actually I'm just trying to…"
"Care to buy me a cup of tea?"
"Well," The girl glanced over both of her shoulders. "I'm running from someone and it'd be a great help if we stuck together for a bit. You can kill yourself later, right?"
"I don't think that-"
"Shit, there he is." The girl grabbed Draco's hand suddenly. He wasn't sure how to react, so he decided not to at all.
"That someone I'm running from. Don't you see him? The one in the hat?" Draco looked to where she was pointing. No one was wearing a hat. Before he could point out this little detail however, she was pulling him to the other side of the crosswalk. The cars continued to swerve around them and it only increased Draco's sense of worthlessness. Not even good enough to be run over, he thought bitterly. He didn't have the energy or the will to argue with the girl anymore as she dragged him down the street. Besides, her hand was pleasantly warm, if not a pinch sweaty. He let her lead him to an out of the way pub, past the man pissing on the front stoop, and inside.
"Don't lose me, okay?" the girl called over her shoulder, her fingernails digging into Draco's wrist. Together they plunged into the late night, rowdy crowd. The girl wove clumsily through the tables, all pushed closely together, and Draco continued to follow though he wasn't quite sure why. It was hot, far too hot. The kind of heat created when a hundred strangers find themselves bumping, sweating, and drinking in a building meant to hold twenty people tops. Draco couldn't breathe through the thick atmosphere, but he wasn't complaining. If he couldn't be run down by a muggle car, the next best thing would be to suffocate on muggle fumes. But the girl found a table tucked in the corner, isolated from the rest, with plenty of air. She let go of his hand.
"Sit down," she ordered, clambering up onto one of the precarious stools. Happy to have someone telling him what to do again, Draco obeyed. He sat. Then the girl beckoned over a busty waitress, ordered two teas and a plate of bacon, and began folding and re-folding one of the table napkin's in her lap. She seemed so interested in this folding process that Draco didn't wish to disturb her.
"I wasn't really running from anyone," she said suddenly, looking at him for the first time since they'd sat.
"Figured that," Draco grunted.
"Do you want to know my name?"
"It's Emma Joel. Yours?"
"That's odd," Emma Joel murmured. She laced her fingers together, making a basket, and rested her chin in them. "Malfoy would mean bad faith in French. Did you know that?"
"And Draco means dragon."
"Fascinating." Draco liked her better when she was folding napkins. He regretted coming with her, but just as he was preparing to make an exit their busty waitress returned with two steaming cups of tea and the plate of bacon.
"Drink," Emma demanded. Who was Draco to refuse a command? He drank. He choked. It was the foulest thing he'd ever tasted, besides dragon balls of course. From across the table, Emma laughed. It wasn't a dainty giggle, but an unrestricted, chaotic, peppered with vulgar snorts laugh.
"Try it this way," she gasped once her laughter subsided. Draco watched, mildly disgusted, as she took a floppy piece of bacon from the plate between them and dipped it into her tea. She took a sip, licked her lips, and smiled again. She had a pretty smile Draco noticed.
"Go on and give it a try," Emma encouraged. She pushed the plate of bacon closer to him. Draco pushed it back.
"I'll pass." Emma shrugged and dropped another stringy piece of fatty pork into her bitter tea. They were silent again. Draco stirred his drink absently, peering into its depths. He almost wanted to read the tea leaves settled at the bottom, but he wasn't brave enough to actually drink the tea itself and he'd never really paid attention in Divination. Besides what could those tea leaves possible tell him? Maybe the bacon in the bottom of Emma's cups would say more. He didn't notice her inspecting him over the top of her cup.
"You're dressed funny, you know?" she said after a bit. Draco blinked. He'd nearly forgotten she was there. It took him another moment to remember he was in the muggle world, where wearing robes wasn't common.
"Er yes. I am," Draco said lamely, picking at his sleeve.
"Why?" In two seconds Draco invented an elaborate story to explain his odd state of dress involving a robbery, two nuns, and an unfortunate lack of those things muggles called rubber bands, but then he looked at Emma. He truly looked at her. She wasn't the type you'd notice in a crowded room. In fact there was something about her that reminded him of wallpaper, though she certainly wasn't bland. She was the type of wallpaper that made people cringe; sort of tacky, almost offensive. Her hair was a shade lighter than chestnut, not quite blonde, and it was falling from its long ponytail. A few hair pins hung by her shoulders, yet Emma didn't seem to care or notice. Draco liked the freckles sprinkled across her nose though and the way she kept her lips parted, always ready to say something. Most of all he liked her eyes. It wasn't their perfectly average coloring, brown to be exact, or their perfectly average shape. It was the way she watched him with those eyes. The way she looked at him looking at her. A question popped up into his mind unbidden; who am I? Draco thought, if only for a moment, that maybe Emma saw the answer.
"I'm a wizard," he said, not allowing himself to think.
"Cool." Emma shrugged and took another swig of tea. It wasn't the reaction he'd expected, and then she asked, "Can you pull a rabbit out of a hat? That's my favorite trick." Draco felt a distinct prick of disappointment. She hadn't understood.
"No, I can't."
"You're not a very good wizard, are you?"
"No, I'm not."
"Is that why you were trying to kill yourself?"
"Part of the reason."
"And the other part," Emma pressed on.
"I suppose I'm not a very good human either." Emma reached over the plate of bacon and took his hand again. This time Draco gave her fingers a little squeeze in response.
"It's not that difficult, you know, being human. I could teach you." Her voice dropped below a whisper. There was a shine to her eyes that drew Draco in like a moth to an ignited wand tip.
"Okay." It was the second decision he'd made in his life.