Disclaimer: My cat wanted you to know, I own nothing, not even her, for I am her slave. Being a good slave, I'm passing that message on.
Draco's PoV, wand core procurement day:
With a unicorn core in his wand, Draco knew the herd would be attracted to him, so gathering unicorn tail hairs would be easy. Since the goblins had offered nuggets of goblin-forged steel as cores, if Ollivanders' would widen his core selection, he also knew he could gather a wider variety of materials, making getting the total amount needed easier. It was the Acromantula venom and leg hairs that were currently giving him pause.
Hagrid was going to help with those. Neville Longbottom, recently named new Professor of Herbology at Hogwarts, had also agreed to help. He would be collecting wild, not greenhouse raised, Mandrake roots, and Dittany. There was some debate about attempting to collect a vine or two of Devil's Snare as well. Draco just hoped no one was suicidal enough to want to attempt to get a branch off of the Whomping Willow for lengths of wood for wands.
Fawkes had been asked if he would donate some of his feathers, and seemed to be content… and Draco was also donating some of his own hair as well. If he could switch forms at will already, he would also donate some of his feathers, but since he couldn't, his hair would have to do. It was odd thinking of one's own body as a source of magical ingredients.
He would be arriving at Hogwarts this morning to meet up with the staffers before entering in the forest. Today was a Saturday, so there were no classes, and it was not a Hogsmeade weekend, so no chaperones were needed. That meant they were totally free. Draco was both lucky and grateful they had agreed to give up their free time and help him. He supposed it was the charity element.
"'Ello, Draco!" Hagrid's booming voice carried across the fields. Draco winced. Maybe they would split up in the Forest. "Are ya still plannin' o' cuttin' yer hair, then Draco? I've got a right sharp pair o' scissors ye kin use."
Draco shook his head. He was fairly certain that the stories about Veelas and hair cutting were false; after all, his short hair certainly wasn't short because it only grew that length. However, the root was needed for magical use, and that meant pulling or brushing. "No, Hagrid. I'm not going to cut my hair. Just comb it out, and donate the hair that comes loose." He had a magical comb used by potioners, which always grabbed loose hair with root intact for ingredient gathering. He assumed it would be just as useful gathering ingredients for wand making as for potions.
"So," Neville rubbed his gloves hands together, "just how many plants should I pull?"
Draco thought for a minute. "Not too many, wand cores are small, even a Mandrake smaller than your forearm would make several dozen wands, as would one Dittany bush." While he had planned this expedition expecting it to be done by lunch, he now was hoping it would take longer. He couldn't afford to be distracted in the Forbidden Forest, so he wouldn't be able to think about his broken heart. But, that did not mean he would lie about what was needed; if they gathered too much it would just be wasted. Malfoys were never wasteful.
He would have to come up with other ways, not wasteful and hopefully not dangerous, to extend his trip. Maybe he could apply for a last-minute international port key and try to locate a sphinx… He'd always heard Egypt was wonderful this time of year!
Realizing Neville had been talking to him, he pulled himself out of his thoughts. A little light small talk and they were off, and being daylight, a much safer time than night if you absolutely have to go into the Forbidden Forest, the three did agree to split up. Each had a small bag, and once it was filled, they would leave, meeting up later at Hagrid's cottage. Luna was going to have something prepared waiting on them.
Draco was immensely grateful; he strongly suspected anything was better than Hagrid's cooking. There was much creaking and crackling of the trees, but very little wind to support it. Silver eyes blinking, Draco wondered if Bowtruckles crawling around in the branches might be responsible. With their vicious nature when defending their trees, Draco was suddenly very glad he was here for wand cores, and not for wand wood. He just hoped any nearby would not feel threatened, he rather liked being able to see.
He moved deeper, trying to locate one of the clearings where the herd might find grass to eat. Climbing over roots sometimes as big as he was, and picking his way through the shadowy undergrowth, he tried to ignore his growing sense of disquiet. A Clabbert's nose flashed as he passed, and it moved away, swinging in the branches. Soon, he reached a clearing.
Traditionally, unicorn's preferred the touch of a woman, Draco knew. But, they also liked innocence and beauty. That was why they were drawn to virgins. He was a virgin, very attractive, even if Potter was unable to see it, and had a unicorn hair core wand. As long as his reason was pure, and it was, and he had no thought of harm, the herd ought to allow him near. He walked to the center of the glade, then sat down, prepared to wait. They would come.
Come they did. Draco had expected only one or two to enter the glade while he was there, and at first that was all there was. Before he had finished combing the first mare, another, and another, and another still, this one with a foal, had come. Before he knew what had happened, he was surrounded, and even the lead stallion was there. Most were ignoring him, treating him as part of the herd, and happily eating grass. Draco, however, was justifiably nervous. Those horns and hooves were not just for show, and should they become frightened, or decide he was a threat in any way, Draco could easily be killed.
His bag was mostly filled, and he knew there were other things he could get besides unicorn hair. With the herd surrounding him, he had no idea how to leave so he could get those things. Draco, with resignation and anxiety warring for control, sat once more to wait. Just as they came when they were ready, so too would they leave when they were ready.
Harry's PoV, same day, near noon:
Luna was setting five places at the table in Hagrid's cottage when Harry knocked. She smiled, welcoming him in. "You know, Harry, the Heliopaths might not run across your heartstrings so much if you'd listen to the pull of the soul a bit more." Harry was not certain, but he thought he might have just been rebuked by Luna for messing up with Draco. So, he had to reluctantly agree with her; he should have listened more to what his heart had been telling him.
He asked about the place settings and Luna, serene as ever, said, "Well, you will be joining us, won't you Harry?" Green eyes blinked rapidly, then Harry stumbled out an affirmative. How had Luna known he was coming? Did Ron or Hermione tell her? Did this mean Draco knew as well? That could be bad; if he knew he might try to hide from Harry, or blast his ears off, or be stubborn and not listen. Then again, it could be good… he might know Harry wanted to apologize, and might be willing to…
"Harry? Is a Blibbering Humdinger distracting you? You shouldn't let them confuse your thoughts, you know." Luna was now putting food on the table, and had a chair pulled out for Harry. "Where's your furry companion hiding, Harry?"
Andromeda! "It is right here," Harry gestured towards the cage he had yet to set down with his free hand. "Oh," he said, looking at the empty looking cage. "The salesperson at Magical Menagerie said when frightened they become invisible like Demiguises do. It is a mixed breed creature, though, half Pygmy Puff and half Chinchilla. How did you know I had it?"
"I saw the cage, silly."
"Oh." Harry set the cage down, and took a seat. Maybe it wasn't Andromeda? Hagrid chose that moment to return, looking no worse for the wear, and carrying a huge sack filled with something black and wiry looking that Harry suspected burned and itched if touched. It somehow evoked spiders when looked at closely. Harry, knowing what the day had been for, decided it was better not to ask.
The three carried on a rather pleasant conversation for an hour or so, when Neville came in. His bag was tied tightly, but wiggled and squirmed, and soft, muffled, high pitched cries seemed to escape it every now and again. "Sorry," He said as a particularly loud cry escaped, and blushing, he cast Muffliato followed by Petrificus Totalus to silence and freeze whatever was in the bag. Harry wondered if it was something that needed to be 'fresh' because petrified didn't exactly meet that requirement.
"So, Harry, looks like you decided to use Luna's matchmaking services after all. She said you would."
"Her what?" Harry was stunned. He had no idea Luna had become a matchmaker. It was a good two hours, easily, with the others explaining that she used her skills as a visionary to match people together. Harry had suspected Luna had was a Seer on occasion, but never really took the idea seriously before. Now he learned not only was that the case, but she was also a matchmaker, and had set her goals on fixing his relationship.
Since he had no better offers, and he knew he was going to need all the help he could get with Draco after his foul up, he accepted. It was not an easy acceptance, though. Harry still rather hated visions, prophesy, and all that those things entailed. He had never fully forgiven all the mess his life had been because of a prophesy given when he was only a few months old.
Soon, they set down to eat, politely ignoring the one empty place, as it was now very well past lunch, and almost past time for tea. They couldn't very well hold off eating forever just because one person was taking a while. They decided they would go looking for him if he had not shown up before sundown. Everyone knew the forest was not a place to be alone after dark.
It was that late time of day, almost sunset but not quite, and raining, as it so often was, when the door opened to a twig covered, sopping wet and generally disheveled looking Draco Malfoy. His head was down, trying to keep as much water out of his eyes as possible, as he walked in, so he didn't see the occupants immediately. "H'llo." His voice was quieter than anyone had ever heard it, and almost soul-rendingly sweet. He had spent too much time with the unicorns and their influence upon him was evident. He had also gathered Fawkes' tail feathers, and combed his own hair, and somehow managed to gather Thestral tail hairs and Niffler fur with gold dust glittering on some of the strands. All in all, he had three over-stuffed bags of materials, and looked a little worse for the wear.
He stepped inside, still acting sweet and shy. Then he saw Harry. It was as if the unicorn influence left him in a puff of golden dust; it was almost that visible. His expression turned stormy, and he moved to grab the bags left by Hagrid and Neville, "Thank you gentlemen for your help, and I'll just be going now."
It was Luna that stopped him. "If you leave now, you'll attract a Umgubular Slashkilter, and once you get one of those they never leave. They're very unappealing, and lead to horrible characters, you know."
He sighed, aggrieved, and sat down. He refused to look at Harry. "Well, Harry, it is all up to you now," Luna said, smiling her placid smile and she walked out the door, pulling a hapless Neville with her.
"Best a luck te ya," Hagrid boomed, and he, too disappeared, leaving the two men alone together.
"Draco," Harry began anxiously, "I want to apologize. Will you at least listen to me?"