TBC

A HariPo oneshot

by mew-tsubaki

Note: The Harry Potter characters belong to J.K. Rowling, not me. This pairing was discovered by my twin, Morghen, so please give her a little mention if you write them! Thanks! It is one of many of Mew and Mor's Weird Pairings, most of which you may find in the M&MWP forum. Check out and join the forum FUN! Read, review, and enjoy! *Written as a birthday present for lowi, but also as a surprise…you thought I'd write another Louco, didn't you, luv? XD

- ^-^3

The last time he saw her, he was dropping off his son to start Hogwarts. She was somewhere in the background, recognizable only by the reddish tint to her blonde hair. But he hadn't cared to know who she was. If he'd given it some thought back then, then he would've permanently written her off as being just another countless Weasley. He no longer had much prejudice against the family, but he understood that they'd never be friends, much less acquaintances, regardless of the fact that Harry had saved him in the war…

Back on track, Draco thought as to why that girl—woman, now—stood outside the Leaky Cauldron, staring up at the sign and not going in. "Are you in the right place?" He wanted to kick himself for asking the question; no doubt she was, considering he'd once seen her board the Hogwarts Express seven years ago.

She didn't remove her eyes from the sign. Instead, she placed her hands on her hips, as though she couldn't make heads or tails of the sign's design. She twisted her lips around, almost frowning but not. "No," she finally said, "I don't think I am."

Huh. Perhaps Draco had been mistaken. People could change a lot in seven years—no one knew it better than he did. In seven years, his son had made a best friend in a Potter and a girlfriend in a Weasley (though Al and Rose were good kids). In seven years, Draco had come to feel like a fully-reformed Death Eater. …in seven years, Draco had slowly figured out that life was meant to be lonely, for Astoria made a better friend than a wife, and they had separated due to such a circumstance. Draco sighed, and focused on the situation at hand. Maybe this wasn't the witch he'd noticed before.

At last, she turned to face him and smiled, and the world seemed a little brighter for her doing so. "Ah, Mr. Malfoy. I didn't realize it was you."

"Uh, sorry…?"

She held out her hand, which he shook. "I'm Victoire Weasley, Rose and Al's eldest cousin. I believe we've never properly met before."

As Draco replied with a "Nice to meet you," he developed a nagging feeling in his gut that told him that she should've added, "And I will be your saving downfall." As if that made sense.

A short chat and a coffee in a Muggle café up the road later, and Draco thought nothing of seeing her again. He didn't feel the need to go looking for Victoire, and he didn't think she'd seek him out again, either. He'd met a familiar face and had exchanged words, and that was that.

Of course that couldn't be the end, heavens no! She was a Weasley, and more Weasleys cropped up wherever one appeared. A year later, Rose was just beginning to plan for her wedding to Scorpius, and it turned out that Victoire—being a seamstress under Madam Malkin's tutelage—would make her dress. That was all and well, but Draco didn't expect to be dragged along by both Rose and Scorpius one day to the shop so that they could choose a style for Scorpius' dress robes.

Victoire saw him the instant they walked in the door. Her hands didn't stop moving from rolling up a bolt of fabric at the counter, but the upward curve of her lips said it all: "Ah, hello again, Draco. How are you today? I am fine." Which was a tad silly, because she hadn't called him "Draco," and there was no need to today, when he was a customer.

Being along with Rose and Scorpius, Draco quickly felt like a third wheel, and he randomly wondered if Al sometimes felt the same way. Being around Rose, one had to keep up with her energy; Scorpius seemed to see that as a sort of challenge, and he matched her tit-for-tat. They were a high-power couple that never seemed to break down.

A hand gently touched his shoulder, and he glanced up to see Victoire's barely-freckled face smile gently down at him. "May I get you anything?"

He shook his head. "No, I'm fine."

"Are you sure? If Rose is this hyper in the afternoon, then she has no intention of slowing down."

"…what did you have in mind?"

Victoire smirked, a cute, mischievous grin that reached her eyes. "Why don't you send them to Garland Boutique next, and tell them that you'll catch up with them?"

Draco considered it and then nodded. It made sense. Garland Boutique was Pansy's wedding store, and he could count on Pansy to keep the soon-to-be newlyweds drooling over this and that ware, for Pansy was very good at what she did.

After styles and designs had been determined, Rose and Scorpius darted up the street to said store, and Draco waited behind with Victoire, claiming to "rest a while." To his surprise, she closed the shop for lunch and invited him to grab a bite with her.

Another meal and another afternoon wasted, and Draco began to feel comfortable around her. Perhaps that was what Weasleys did—not that Draco had ever thought that before, because being in the same room as the Weasel King would likely always grate on his nerves. Anyway, Victoire was not so bad for a Weasley. And with only a few more visits to her before his son's wedding, Draco felt that he wouldn't have to worry about getting too chummy with her. It had been a surprise this time, but Draco was certain that he wouldn't see her again.

Then came the day a few weeks after Rose had collected her wedding dress, and Draco had to pick up some item from Pansy for Scorpius, because the little git had lost it. Draco didn't even know what it was, but apparently it was important.

And there, staring at the Leaky Cauldron's sign again, was Victoire. "Miss…uh, Victoire?" he ventured.

She turned to look at him. "Oh, sorry. I guess I was a little lost again."

He frowned. He'd come to know her a little, and carefully in some regards, over the few mealtime discussions they'd had. "You do know that I didn't forget our first meeting, yes? You were doing the same exact thing."

Her small smile faltered, and she loosed a sigh. "I was hoping you would forget…though I suppose it's quite odd to stare at a store's plaque, isn't it?"

Draco nodded. "I've never seen you go inside."

"That's because…I want to, but I don't."

"You want to enter, but you never do?"

"No, no… I want to go in, but I also don't want to go in."

He was starting to develop a headache from the syntax. "Right…"

"Were you heading for Malkin's or for Parkinson's place?"

He narrowed his eyes at her, seeing that she'd retreated into her friendly business mode. "That was an obvious change of subject."

Victoire lifted one shoulder in a half-shrug and headed for another entrance into Diagon Alley. He followed. "Can't help it. Not all stories get the quick delivery one sometimes wants."

"Are you saying that the story will take a whole sitting?"

She slowed until he was almost right behind her. He could feel her warmth in the chill of the incoming autumn season. Victoire glanced up at him over her shoulder, her sky blue eyes very vibrant. "I'm not implying that I'll share the story…Draco."

They locked gazes for half a minute, until eventually Draco succumbed and followed her to her workplace. There, another evening was spent—not wasted—and the errand to Garland Boutique was long forgotten.

However, Pansy left her shop around the same time that Draco left Victoire to close Malkin's for the night, and the two old classmates collided. Pansy raised a curious eyebrow. "Draco? Why are you here in Diagon Alley so late?"

He hadn't realized he'd been smiling until he understood Pansy's skeptical expression directed at him. His smile quickly disappeared. "I, uh—got caught up—"

Pansy shook her head and shoved a small package at him. "Here. This is what you were supposed to get from me earlier."

"Nice to see you, too, Pansy."

The woman snorted, and it was a sound Draco could recall from their childhood very well. "You look ridiculous, you know," she told him.

"Why's that?" the wizard asked, defensive. Like any normal person, he still didn't like insults, even if he felt he deserved them more than half the time now, post-war.

"Draco Malfoy is not supposed to look that happily giddy," she answered, and she smirked and waved before hurrying home.

Draco waved back and considered his friend's words. Him? Him, happily giddy? That didn't make any sense.

A nagging voice told him that being so close to Victoire also didn't make any sense. But he pushed that thought aside. He didn't feel one way or another about Victoire. They were…they were like him and Pansy—good friends.

But, he thought as he went home to an empty house, if he and Victoire were good friends, then wouldn't she tell him her story? He had told her most of what had happened between him and Astoria, why his parents no longer talked to each other or lived with him, and why he stepped lightly in his relationship with Scorpius. She knew that he had trouble with love, that his parents couldn't stand each other after the war even for his sake, and that Scorpius truly favored his mother over his father. No, he hadn't shared any of his Dark deeds with her, but he'd told her nearly everything else. Victoire was the kind of personality that made a person want to confess everything within his heart—and he'd told her almost all of it.

Yet she remained closed off, though not wholly. Victoire told him things, stories and other things about herself, that always left him with more questions that he'd originally had. She'd told him that she got along best with James and not Molly though the two female cousins were closer in age, why Charms was more useful than Herbology, and why she had chosen a life like Malkin's working alone in the clothing shop. He knew that she related to James better because of something Victoire refused to share with Draco, that there was no need for Herbology in her life but there was for Charms, and that she needn't bother with men when most people took her for a younger but just as stubborn and single version of Madam Malkin herself. Nothing was a story with an ending; everything had an ellipsis at the end, making him believe there was always an extra page or another chapter coming.

If there was, she wouldn't give it to him.

One part of Draco that would never die, though, was the part that hated being refused something he wanted. And he wanted the truth. He liked Victoire. She was a smart, intriguing woman who demanded nothing of him, and that made their companionship easy. In a world where Draco had little left in his possession, something as fleeting as friendship was a cruel thing to dangle in front of him if it was not being completely offered. He'd given nearly all of himself—so why wouldn't she do the same?

The thought weighed him down. The wedding came to pass, and the festivities disappeared. There was no reason to see Victoire, just as there hadn't been in the beginning.

But, of course, Draco marched right in to Madam Malkin's store on a busy afternoon anyway. Malkin was managing most of the customers, while Victoire got caught up in their goods. Normally, Draco might've waited patiently for her to catch her breath, as he'd learned patience after being forgiven his crimes. But today Draco was not feeling very contrite, and patience hopped out the window with his remorse.

He marched right up to her. "Victoire," he said.

She barely looked at him. "Hmm? Oh, Draco, I can't stop right now. There's too much going on." There must've been, because it was the first time he saw her use her magic to put fabric bolts and swatches away instead of doing it by hand. Pins flew dangerously past his face, and he had to fight her magic as he caught a fabric bolt that almost hit him in the head. He looked around it at her.

"Victoire, now."

She glared at him, which was a surprise. "Draco, no."

"Fine, then. Tell me that story."

A tape measure dropped in mid-air before she refocused and shelved it with a spell. "Are you kidding? Now and here?"

"As if there's a better time."

Her glare sharpened. "I thought I said that the story deserved its own sitting."

"Well, considering how many times you've avoided telling it, I'm guessing it hurts you if you think about it too much." He gestured to the busyness of the day. "Keeping busy ought to keep you from thinking on it too much, no?"

Victoire sighed and her glare softened, but it didn't go away. "That's highly inappropriate."

He mock-gasped. "Is Victoire Weasley hiding something scandalous?"

"Don't make fun of me!" They paused, as a few people's eyes were on them. Once they turned away, Victoire looked back to Draco. "It's not… I…" She struggled to find the right words. "Longbottom," she whispered, stepping on tiptoes and cupping her hand around his ear.

He furrowed his brow. Surely he hadn't heard her correctly. "Sorry…?"

"Longbottom," she repeated a little louder, though she wasn't happy saying it.

"What about him?"

She threw her hands in the air, ready to scream. "Oh my Merlin, if I told this to a witch, she'd grasp it in one second—I used to be in love with him!"

Now a few more heads turned their way, and Draco felt his face grow uncomfortably warm. Not one to disappoint, Victoire was cherry red. And her glare was back.

"Now look what you made me do!" she hissed.

Though he, once again, had many more questions than he first had, he took it as a good sign that she'd told him even that much. Patience returned and sat with him the rest of the evening, until Victoire got her first break, which turned out to be when the shop finally closed for the night.

"Goodnight, Victoire," Malkin said to her cheerfully. She eyed Draco warily beside her young apprentice. "Mr. Malfoy."

"Have a good evening, Madam Malkin."

She harrumphed but left them to their own devices.

Draco exited before Victoire, who turned and waved her wand to do the locks. Afterwards, Draco wondered where they'd go. Apparently, standing in front of the store sufficed for Victoire.

"That was a mean thing to do, showing up and demanding that here," she groused. She crossed her arms in front of her chest and stared him down.

"Well, you already told me a bit." He raised his eyebrows. "Won't it feel better to let the rest out?"

"No, not really." Her looked relaxed a smidge. "But…you've been very kind to me. A much better friend than I've been to you."

He blinked, stunned by the compliment. But it also made him wonder if Victoire had many other friends at all. Despite his curiosity, he kept quiet.

"Look, the thing about Longbottom is…" She hesitated and bit her bottom lip. She motioned for him to join her in sitting on the ground. She folded her legs beneath her, whereas he stretched his out, resting on arm on a half-raised knee. Victoire shivered and instinctively scooted an inch closer to him. "The thing about him is that he'll never know. He never did know. It was just…" Victoire took a breath, taking courage from the darkness, though Draco liked how soft her face looked in the dimmed lights of the shopping district. "It was a passing fancy."

"A fancy?" he echoed.

"All right, maybe it was my first love. Teddy, Al's god brother, was a passing fancy." She shook her head. "But Longbottom… Well, there's something about him, y'know? So many people see him as a pushover, and I don't think that's the case. He chooses his words carefully; he learned after all that time sharing Gryffindor with my uncles and aunt." Another pause, and she cocked her head to one side. "For a short time, in my fifth year, there was a chance that he was going to divorce his wife."

Things clicked into place. Abbott had married him, that much Draco knew. He'd learned through the grapevine that Abbott had taken over the Leaky Cauldron.

"But that never happened, though he seemed so depressed in my sixth and seventh years," Victoire continued. "I can't go into the Leaky Cauldron."

He nodded, not that she'd see.

"I mean, he's got a wife…he's got a kid."

Draco pursed his lips. "But…if you clearly know where the lines are drawn…"

"Because, I don't want those old feelings to crop up again. I don't want to ruin the good thing he does have." Victoire went quiet for several off beats.

Draco thought about what she'd finally confessed. Now things made more sense—she'd once told him that James was in love with an older man (no wonder the two cousins were close), that she hated Herbology (Longbottom had gone on to teach the subject), and that she probably would remain alone for the rest of her life (maybe she'd never get over her feelings for the professor).

The wizard found that he took a strong position on the matter, though. All of this, because of Longbottom? Maybe he was someone to admire, but this infatuation that Victoire had developed and was claiming had disappeared had, in fact, ruined her life. She was too careful—she never took risks. Maybe that was why she never ended her stories. It was like that Muggle book, One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. Muggles didn't know it was actually an account of how one witch had escaped for more than a thousand nights with her life intact by telling a murderous king a new story every night, a story that would always lead into another. Perhaps Victoire was too scared that if she ended a story, that would be it. There would no longer be a point to her. She had to keep her audience hooked, captivated.

He sighed. Draco realized that he'd been captivated almost since day one…

When silence continued to fill the space between them, Draco reached for her hand and grasped it in his, warming it. "You're brave, you know. Putting someone else first at your own sake."

"Ha! I was in Ravenclaw."

He rolled his eyes. "That's not the point. There's bravery in all of us, Victoire. The same amount in everyone. You're just someone who wasn't too scared to tap into it. I think…," Draco continued, "…that maybe you saw in him what Gryffindor's sword saw in him—we were all there when he pulled it out of the Sorting Hat."

"So if I'm brave and I supposedly admire him only for his courage, then why do I feel like a chicken every time I stand in front of the Leaky Cauldron?"

"I didn't say that we didn't need help when we want to tap into that hidden bravery," he answered. He stood and pulled Victoire to her feet, but he didn't let go of her hand. In fact, he lifted their joined hands to show her specifically that he wouldn't let go. "Now, I don't know about you, but I'm awfully hungry, and I know this pub right at the entrance to Diagon Alley that's still open this late…" Adding "Care to join me?" would've just ruined the specialness of the moment.

Victoire smiled and, for a second, Draco thought she was going to hug him. In its place, she followed him as they headed for the Leaky Cauldron. He thought it would've been nice to have that hug before walking somewhere holding a young witch's hand, but he couldn't take help right now, because all of his strength was going towards helping Victoire instead. As to whether he'd hold her hand again in the future…well, maybe that was one story left to be completed another time, because then he opened the pub door…

- ^-^3

Despite that ellipsis, this IS complete. ;P That's the whole point of the oneshot—to act as though there will always be a "To be continued" with Draco and Victoire. Even the romance was a subtle hint, something quietly growing at the end and not something of which the reader is meant to be entirely convinced. ;] As for Victoire/Neville…that's another M&MWP, so some credit would be nice if you wrote them. And how'd you like the Pansy and Malkin cameos? I love the little boutique of my creation for Pansy…! -w- *Cookies if you know James' older beau. B3

Anywho—how's that, Lovi? I hope you enjoyed this very different story! :D

Thanks to all for reading, and please leave a review!

-mew-tsubaki :)