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Week Three

Draco's trip into Heather's penseive had been a turning point.  After he had calmed down, he went straight back to his room and fell into an exhausted and nightmare-riddled sleep.  He kept seeing it over and over again, all of the things his father's master had done to the sweet, kind woman who had taken him in when she was under no obligation to do so.  He had seen it now.  Seen first hand what it meant to serve the Dark Lord, and he didn't like what he saw.  His father had always glorified it as he was growing up, speaking of wizard purity and an end to the Muggle scourge.  All Draco could see now, though, was a bully.  An overgrown bully lashing out at the world, trying to destroy all that was good.  His sudden disillusionment left Draco in a stupor for the rest of the week.  

It was a rather disconcerting thing, finding out that everything your family stood for, everything you had been taught about life and the world was not as clear cut as you previously thought.  Draco still thought that Magical folk were superior to Muggles, but he was beginning to see that it didn't give them the right the persecute those weaker than them.  The blond had seen from Heather's memories that the Death Eaters were in the same position as Muggles, in some respect.  Muggles were weaker than wizards, so the Death Eaters tortured them.  Death Eaters were weaker than Voldemort, and he tortured them.   He wasn't exactly ready to make the leap to the Light side and join Dumbledore and his little groupies, but he was seriously reconsidering his future at the Dark Lord's feet.

By the weekend, Heather decided it was time she had a chat with her guest.  He had been holed up in his room for the majority of the last four days, and she was starting to worry.  She knew he needed space to accept everything; after all, it was a big shock.  Enough was enough, though.  She knew that if she left him to his own devices, he could fall into despair.  After all, his entire outlook had been irreparably skewed.  Her mind made up, Heather stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked up to the closed guest room door.

“ Draco,” she called, “ Draco, I need to talk to you.”

After five minutes with no response, she called again, this time letting him know she meant business.  After a moment more, the door opened slowly and Draco's head appeared through the gap, a reluctant look on his face.  He looked paler than usual, and had dark circles under his eyes, as if he had not been getting enough sleep.  With a resigned sigh, he opened the door wider and walked onto the landing, closing the door behind him.  As he slowly made his way downstairs, his head hanging slightly, Heather noticed how thin he had become in the last few days.

“ Draco, we need to talk about a few things.”

“ Like what?” came his listless answer.

“ Like what you've been doing all week.  Draco, you can't stay in your room forever.”

“ I'm a Malfoy,” he said self mockingly, “ I can do whatever I want.”

The frown on Heather's face increased, and she took him gently by the arm and quietly led him into the kitchen and to a pulled out chair.  Once he was seated, she moved around, making them each a steaming cup of hot chocolate and setting out the last of Draco's biscuits.  Eventually, she couldn't put it off any more, and sat down opposite the teenager, the hot mug warming her hands.

“ Draco, you can't carry on like this.”

“ Like what?”

“ Locking yourself in your room.  Moping over something you can't change.  It's not healthy.  I'm getting worried…”

“ Worried?  Why should you worry about the son of one of your tormentors?!” Draco exploded, “ I saw your penseive, remember.  I know what happened to you because of my father, and I can imagine what must have happened on occasions I didn't see.  What I don't understand is why you're trying to make nice with someone who must remind you of him!”

“ Draco, you are not your father…”

“ Yes I am!  It's who I've been raised to be!  I was brought up to be like my father in every way, and to eventually take his place at the Dark Lord's side.  That's all I've ever been, and it's all I'll ever be.”

“ You're wrong, Draco.  You're not your father, no matter how you've been raised.  You are different people, and you have the choice to either be like him, or be different from him.  It's your choice to make.  No-one's forcing you.”

“ He will.”

“ He's not here.  I am, and I'm giving you the choice.  I can't make your decisions for you, Draco, but I can show you your options.  I have shown you some of the Muggle world you hate so much, I have shown you what they have to offer, and I have equally shown you what being Voldemort's servant entails.  If you choose to stay the same as you have always been, I will understand and respect your decision.  If you go back to the wizarding world in a few weeks and join the Death Eaters, disclosing my location to Voldemort, then I won't try and stop you, because it would have been your choice.  If you decide to break away from everything you have known I will help you if you ask.  But the one thing that makes me different from your father is that I am offering you the choice.  I am offering options and letting you make your own mind up.  You have seen both sides of the story, so either way I will be happy with the knowledge that you weren't entering into anything blind.”

Draco sat in silence for a few minutes, thinking over what she had said.  Eventually he raised his head and looked her in the eyes.

“ Help me.”


Draco seemed to perk up a little after his chat with Heather.  It was as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders.  He had been feeling lost, knowing that he no longer wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, but equally certain that he didn't have a choice in the matter.  Now that he knew for sure that Heather would help him all she could, he felt very relieved.  

Two days later, Draco was back in the kitchen baking again.  He had missed this particular distraction, and was making up for the lost days with a vengeance.  Heather had to make a rather long trip to Tesco to gather the supplies he needed.  Inevitably, though, he had boxes of pastries, biscuits, pies, flans, tarts and éclairs lying all around the kitchen.  This prompted a return to his second hobby.  Visiting the library.

Thursday morning Draco packed up his bag with an assortment of goodies and waved goodbye to Heather, leaving for the local primary school.  As soon as he walked through the door, he was swarmed with giggling children, all welcoming him back.  He was a little startled by the attention at first, but soon smiled back and told them he was glad to be back.  Despite how strange it seemed to him, he had missed his trips to the school.  Sure, it was full of young Muggles, but it was a good distraction.  With a grin, the young Malfoy made his way through the crowd, waving at the children as he went, until he eventually made it to the library.  Much to his surprise, the strict librarian came straight over, a smile on her face.

“ I see you're back again, Draco.  The children have missed you this last week.  They really like you, you know.”

Draco smiled back politely and nodded, but his head was reeling.  They liked him?  Someone actually liked him?  For who he was and not for his father's money?  He still found it strange that he didn't have to buy his friends anymore.  It was a good feeling, though.

Draco took the baked goods out of his bag and started setting them up at a table in the corner of the library.  Once he was done, he wandered to the bookshelves and found something interesting to read, before settling himself down to wait for the afternoon break.  What seemed like minutes later to the distracted boy the bell rang loudly, breaking him out of his reading trance.  Looking around, Draco realised that the children would start arriving soon, so he quickly marked the place in his book and set it aside.  When the first little boy pushed the door to the library open, Draco grinned and started pulling lids off his boxes.  As soon as the children who had not heard of his arrival noticed him, they started cheering and running through the aisles, looking for a book they could borrow to get their free treat.  The librarian was running around, shouting at them all to form an orderly queue, rather than running around pell-mell, but they didn't take any notice of her.   After only minutes, Draco had a queue in front of his table, each child having a newly borrowed book in their hand ready to collect their sweet.  The blond handed out his baked goods readily, but after a few minutes he was distracted by a boy's voice wafting from off to his right.

“ What were you expecting, McCarthy?”

“ I-I…”

Draco looked over to where the voices were coming from, and saw three boys and a girl standing off to one side.  The boys appeared to be ganging up on her, the ringleader standing in front of the other two, his hand outstretched.

“ Give it up, McCarthy.  You know you Irish are too stupid to read anyway.  Hand it over.”

“ But it's mine,” came the soft voice of the girl.

“ And now it's mine.”

Draco shivered as the scene played out.  It was eerily familiar, only he was usually the one bullying the others.  It reminded him strongly of himself with Crabbe and Goyle as his backup, picking on the Hufflepuffs and Mudbloods.  Draco frowned, and started to place lids on his boxes before making his way over.  Now that he saw it from an objective position, he was annoyed with the boys for picking on the girl.  What could she have possibly done to deserve it?  If these bullies were anything like him, then they were prejudiced for some reason.

“ Hey!” he called as he came up behind them, “ What's going on here?”

The leader looked up at Draco, a sneer on his lips.  As soon as he saw who it was, though, the sneer changed into a simpering smile.

“ Draco, hi.”

“ What's going on?” the blond asked again, a hint of impatience creeping into his voice.

“ Nothing, we were just talking to McCarthy here.”

“ I can see that.  What I want to know is why you were insulting her.”

A confused frown marred the young forehead as the boy looked at Draco askance.

“ Well, she's Irish.”

“ So?”

“ Well….”

“ What gives you the right to insult her just because she's Irish?”

“ Well, my father says that all Irish people are stupid, and have fleas….”

“ And is your father always right?”

“ Well, yeah.”

“ You know what?” Draco asked, a hint of anger entering his voice.  The leader started to look a little concerned.

“ What?”

“ Your father's wrong.”

“ But…”

“ Let me tell you a story,” Draco said, the switch in topics throwing the boy off kilter.

“ Erm….Okay.”

“ When I was younger, I thought I was better than other people as well.  My father taught me about the superiority of the Malfoy family, and how we should treat people he classed as beneath us like dirt.  And you know what?”

“ What?”

“ He was wrong.  I learned that the hard way.  Our fathers don't know everything.  Don't follow what they say blindly.”

“ Oooooookaaaaaay.”

The boys turned around and started to leave, deciding to quit before the older boy go even angrier.  Draco, though, wasn't giving up.

“ Did I say you could leave?”

The boys turned around at his tone, fear creeping across their faces.

“ N-no.”

“ Then where do you think you're going?”

“ Erm…”

“ I'm only going to say this once,” Draco said, moving steadily towards them in a motion of intimidation that worked as effectively as he had hoped for, “ You leave this girl alone from now on.  You are no better than her.  Her nationality has nothing to do with who she is, and you have no right to judge her on it.  If anyone here is inferior, it's you three for being so petty and vindictive.  And if I ever hear that you've been picking on her again, you will regret it.  Do I make myself clear?”

The three boys, shaking now in terror, nodded frantically.

“ Good,” Draco said, much calmer, “ Now get out of here.”

They ran.  Straight through the library and out of the doors as fast as they could.  Once they were gone, Draco let out a long sigh of relief, and turned to the stunned looking girl.  She had remained silent all throughout the confrontation, and was staring at the older boy in utter shock.  Draco's face softened and when he spoke, his voice was full of concern.

“ Are you alright?”

The girl blushed and nodded frantically.

“ Y-yes, th-thank you.”

“ What's your name?”

“ E-Evelyn McCarthy.”

“ Evelyn, that's a pretty name.  Do those boys pick on you often?”

“ Ever since I came here last month, S-sir.”

“ It's alright, you can call me Draco.”

The girl blushed even harder, and Draco shook his head in amusement.

“ Why don't you come over to my table and sit down for a bit?  I'll let you have some of my biscuits.”

“ A-are you sure?”

“ I wouldn't have asked if I wasn't.  Come on, you can tell me a bit about yourself.”

The girl nodded hesitantly and followed the wizard back to his table in the corner.  The queue of children had dissipated, the librarian having handed out treats to the ones who had borrowed books.  Evelyn sat down opposite Draco and the older boy offered her a box of biscuits.  Evelyn took one and nibbled at the edge, a smile creeping onto her face.

“ These are good.”

“ Thanks,” Draco said with a smile, “ I make them myself.  I have a lot of free time on my hands, and I need something to keep me busy.  So, where are you from?  You said you only came here last month.”

“ My family's from Donegal, in Ireland.  We moved here when my father was transferred for his job.  So far I don't like it here.”

“ Surely it's not all bad.”

“ It is!  Everyone laughs at me because of the way I talk, and those boys say I'm stupid and have fleas….”

“ They're the stupid ones.  Tell me more about your home in Donegal.  I've been there a few times.  My family owns a manor house in Sligo, and we spend part of the summer there each year.”

“ Well, the place I'm from is called Glencolmcille, and it's in the southwest of County Donegal.  It's a beautiful place, full of history and tradition.  Wherever you go there's a friendly face, and you're always welcome.  It's so different here.  I wish I could have stayed there forever, but that's not the way things go….”

“ I'm sorry Evelyn.  I know what it's like to feel like an outsider.  I've been here three weeks, and I'm still getting used to it.  The place I'm from….the culture is very different to here, and I'm constantly confused by things that people here take for granted.”

“ Where are you from?”

Draco paused for a minute, weighing up how much he could tell her.  Without being able to do magic, there was no way he could verify his story, so she would most likely not believe him, even if he did tell her.  He would have to go with something close to the truth, but without any specific details.

“ Well, it's sort of hard to explain.  My family's English, with French origins.  I spend most of the year in a boarding school in Scotland, and my summers in our various manor houses scattered throughout Europe.”

“ So, what makes you feel so different here?”

Draco considered for a moment before giving his answer.

“ Well, my family….we're rich.  Very rich.  We're very well respected in certain circles.  Recently, I've found myself cut off from my family and living with a….friend.  She's not that well off, and she lives in a small house down the road.  Before I came here, I was used to having everything I wanted, with servants to do my every bidding.  Here, though, I have to fend for myself.  I don't have the resources I had before, and my good name isn't any use to me.  It's a classic case of the spoiled rich brat being harshly introduced to real life.”

“ But you don't seem so spoiled…”

“ Evelyn, if you'd met me a month ago you wouldn't have been saying that.  Let's just say I've seen the error of my ways and leave it there.”

“ Alright.  Have you made any friends here?”

“ Just Heather, the woman I'm staying with.  I've learned a lot from her.  The only trouble is that she's the aunt of my school nemesis.  It's a long story; I won't get into it now.  She's good to me, though.  She's taught me to look beyond prejudices and see the people underneath.  My father….isn't a nice man.  He taught me that Malfoys are better than everyone else, and that some people are hardly worth being classed as human.  I used to believe him, and think the same thing he does.  Heather changed that.  I'm a different person.  I've grown.”

Evelyn sat silently as Draco let off steam, interested in what he was saying, but polite enough not to pry.  She was lonely, and she saw this as a good opportunity.  It seemed like this strange boy, her saviour, was lonely too.  With a smile, Evelyn lightly placed her hand on his arm and looked up at him.

“ Draco, will you be my friend?”

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