After graduation, I was recommended to go back to Hogwarts to be the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. However, in order to teach, I have to enroll in Hewitt's Higher Education for Wizards and Witches. It is like college, just magical. Draco too, was invited back to be the Potions Master. Therefore, he enrolled into Hewitt too. As fate would have it, we are roomed together in a two-person dorm room. And this arrangement would not change for the next four years. At first, I thought it would be a nightmare but somehow he surprised me greatly.
On the day that we moved in, we met again for the first time after graduation. He had an easy smile on his face even when our eyes met. I was expressionless. Just like the first day of the first year of Hogwarts, he extended his hand in friendship, figuratively.
"Let's start over, shall we? There's no house rivalry anymore. Hi, my name is Draco Malfoy. Let's be friends, if not, at least civil," he said, smiling with a relaxed face.
"Sure," I replied. If he would be civil, it would be easy on me too.
"Do you smoke?" was his first question after that.
"No," I answered as we started to unpack.
"Then I am going to switch to the smokeless cigarettes. Although they are a lot milder."
"I don't mind actually. The boys I room with used to smoke muggle cigarettes in the room from time to time."
"Nah. I am a responsible smoker."
His reasoning is that he did not have the right to make people around him inhale second-hand smoke just because he smokes. That is his idea of being a responsible smoker. He did not once break this promise to me and I respect him for that. All in all, he is a good roommate. He is clean and neat and kept to his side of the room. He did not have any weird hobby or make too much noise. I could have easily gotten a worse roommate so despite our unpleasant history, I was glad to be roomed with him.
Since the very first day, I noticed a strange picture on his study table. It is a composite picture of two of him, around six or seven, in different clothes standing side by side and smiling brightly. It is the strangest picture ever! I was dying to know if he had a twin brother but I didn't think I had the right to ask. Every day I would sneak a glance at the picture when he isn't around, trying to figure out why he has something so ridiculous. Other than the picture, he is the perfect image of a student. He socialized well with his classmates and often went for drinks and dinner with them. His results are always amongst the top few and he actively takes part in athletic school events. I, on the other hand, am more of a loner. Although there were initial interests in the Great Harry Potter, my icy attitude quickly dampen even the most persistent of them. By the end of the first semester, I am pretty much left alone. And it is just the way I like it. After the big hoo-ha of the War, I want to be left alone, away from the limelight and dependence of the other people. This is my time now.
Sometimes, when he thinks that I am asleep, I would watch him look at that strange picture. He would pause in the middle of doing his homework and pick up the picture. He stares at it for a really long time in the glow of his table lamp. He wears a sad expression when he looks at the picture. Then he would sigh and put it back down again. My curiosity kept eating away at my inhibitions until one night. I just came straight out and ask him because I can bear it no longer.
"Do you have a twin brother?" I asked.
"Yes and no."
He did not seem to want to continue the conversation. And I understand the feeling of having someone prying into your business. So I just let the conversation die. However, my curiosity is growing steadily with every passing day.
By the second semester, we got more acquainted with each other. When he is not out late drinking with his friends, he would wait for me to go to the communal shower room together. And sometimes, we would even eat dinner together in the cafeteria. He understands enough to leave me alone in the day time though, so that his friends would not get over familiar with me. When we have dinner together, he would take extra care to keep his prying friends away from me too. Seems like he is really trying to befriend me. I have no idea what to make of it though. In spite of that, I am slightly happy that I am somewhat not lonely.
Slowly, I see a pattern emerging and it is as weird as the picture on his study table. As the day passes, he comes back looking more and more tired after a late night. Not tired per say. Maybe lethargic? Or is it depressed? I can't quite put a finger on it. But nevertheless, it seems like every socializing event is depleting him of his energy reserve more and more. The time he spends looking at that picture is inversely proportional to his energy level when he returns. The more listless he is, the longer he would look at it. Come morning, he would return to his social butterfly self again. It's a vicious cycle. The more he goes out, the worse he looks when he comes back but it makes him go out even more. Until he stops completely for about a week or so then it repeats itself.
This night, there's a break in the cycle. He never returns drunk or even tipsy but tonight he looks a little unsteady on his feet. I help him to his bed and he thanks me and apologizes for disrupting my studying. I tell him to get some sleep. After I tuck him in and want to move away, his hand grabs ahold of my long sleeve.
"Ah, I'm sorry," he says, still not letting go of my sleeve. I wonder if he is aware at all.
"Do you need anything? Water?" I ask in concern.
"No, nothing. I'm sorry," he apologizes again and this time, he lets go of my sleeve.
"Actually, would you sit here for a while? I feel kind of lousy. In exchange, I would tell you about the picture. You wanted to know right? Whether I had a twin brother."
He had on a vulnerable look on his face. Coupled with his willingness to solve the mystery that plagues even my dreams, I could refuse him. I climb into bed with him and he moves to rest his head on my stomach. He takes one of my hands and puts it on his head. I obliged and starts to stroke his silky, blond hair.
"There was supposed to be two of us at the beginning. As in, my mother was pregnant with twins. One of us was going to be Draco Lucius Malfoy the Second, named after my grandfather, and the other, Lucius Draco Malfoy the Second, after my father. Not the most original of names, I must say." He chuckles a little at that. I made no sound.
"But my father hits my mum. Even when she was already very far along in her pregnancy," he continues. "One day, the beating got so bad she had to be rushed to the hospital. She nearly lost us both but in the end, I survived. Do you know? Identical twins are born from the same egg that split into two so losing one is like losing half of yourself. That was what I left growing up. Even though I was not told that I had a twin brother until after the War, I always felt like I was half a person. I reason that was because I have yet to meet up with my soul mate but everything became clear when my mother spilled the beans after my father got locked up in Azkaban."
"Why didn't she tell you before," I ask, still stroking his hair tenderly.
"Maybe she didn't want me to have a bad impression of my father. I have never seen him hit her in the entire time that I was still living with them both. I didn't even see any bruises or injuries. She says that he didn't hit her anymore after my birth. I have no idea why though, and neither did she. But she was relieved."
"Yah. I would expect her to be."
"Anyway, before I found out the truth, I was always looking for that elusive other half of me. In everyone that I came close to, I tried so hard to search for any evidence that he or she could be my other half. In doing so, I also twisted myself to try to fit myself to them. It was a really hard thing for me."
"But you always had friends around you," I say.
"Friends? Hardly. The people around me are nothing like Ron and Hermione to you. Pansy just wants to be a Malfoy bride. Crabbe and Goyle simply look up to me as a leader and for them, I tried my best to act the part in order to keep their loyalty. Blaise is a peculiar case. He approached me one day and asked to be my friend. He said that it would be difficult for him to pass through the school years without a friend. He said would be my friend if I was willing to be a friend to him. He reasoned that I was the best choice because I was Malfoy and it would be good for him and also it benefits me because I looked like I could use a friend."
"It sounds like a business deal to me."
"Yah. It is. Blaise is someone who doesn't do anything that does not benefit himself. His whole family is like that. Maybe it is the merchant blood in them. Cost and benefit analysis and what drives Blaise to do the things he does. But I have no complaints about the way he treats me. He did everything perfectly. He was the perfect friend. He would even listen to me and actually look interested. All in all, there is no flaw in his acting. However, at the end of the day, it was all an act. He was my friend because my family could be his worst enemy."
"I am so sorry." I don't know why I said that. It just sounds like something one should say in this situation.
"You don't mean that. It's okay, I wasn't looking for sympathy."
"Sorry, it just sounds like the right thing to say."
"It's okay. To explain the picture now. I made it after I graduated from Hogwarts. I just wanted a piece of something that seems whole. Even if it is fabricated."
"Are you still twisting yourself now? Trying to find the perfect other half," I ask.
"Why do you ask?"
"You always look so down after going out."
"You know what? I think I still am. Although now I know that no one would be able to fill in the gap left by my brother, I still want to feel whole. It is tiring to put myself out there like that. And to be disappointed time and again."
"Do you feel that way too? When you are around me?"
"Not so much. You are like a sanctuary to me. I feel like you are more like me than anyone else I know. I mean, you lost family too," and then he quickly added, "No offense."
"None taken. But I do get what you mean. Knowing Hermione and Ron really did save my life. They introduced me to their families and for once in my life, I felt warmth. Living the Dursleys, I was always the outside even if they were blood relatives. After knowing the Weasleys, I finally knew what a family feels like. I truly am grateful. In spite of all that, I still feel like losing my parents have left a gaping hole in me, one that no matter how much friendship I have, it could never be filled. I wished my parents could have put something in me too, like all the parents out there that had time to nurture their kids and shape their characters."
"You know, with all of the broken pieces we have, maybe we can form a whole being. The two of us. I have always been envious of the Weasley twins. I wanted my other half too," he says, as he nuzzles into me.
"You know, we could give it a shot," I say, as I smile down at him.