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Tunnel sous la Manche
When Draco returned home to Heather's house after the concert, he couldn't keep the smile off his face. The witch noticed it as soon as the boy walked through the door, and sent him a smile of her own.
I take it you enjoyed yourself then, she said.
It was brilliant! At first I thought it would be quite boring, as wizard music tends to be a little more conservative. But then the band started to play and the music was so loud! I thought my eardrums were going to burst! Everyone was dancing and there was a sea of cars when we first got there. Thousands of them!
Thousands? Are you sure there was that many? Heather asked skeptically.
I'm not sure, but it seemed that way. You never told me they came in so many shapes and sizes.
Heather smiled at the young wizard's excitement, trying not to laugh at him. It was quite strange to see a usually unflappable Malfoy in such a state.
Well, it never occurred to me to tell you. I just take it for granted, as Muggles do. I sometimes forget you're actually a wizard.
Heather realised immediately that that was the wrong thing to say. Draco's face darkened, and a scowl marred his aristocratic features. His loss of magic was a sore subject, and he preferred for people not to point out his handicap if at all possible. He may have survived a month without magic, but that didn't mean he had resigned himself to a lifetime without it, as Heather had. As far as he was concerned, he would brave the Muggle world as long as he had to, but no longer. His friendship with Evelyn had helped him accept his status for the moment, but as soon as his magic returned to him, he would go straight back to Hogwarts and hex the life out of Potter. It was nothing more than he deserved, after all. A Malfoy without magic was like an insult to the whole of pureblood society, and Draco knew he would one day make his rival pay for what he had done to him. With his scowl firmly in place, he glared at his enemy's aunt.
I am a Malfoy, Heather, a pureblood wizard. I can trace the purity of my blood back over seven hundred years. Never again insult me in such a way, or I promise you will live to regret it. I may have been forced to adapt to the Muggle world for the time being, as a result of a malicious trick by your wretched nephew, but I will not suffer the indignity forever. Think carefully before classing me as a Muggle, for if you do it again you will face me in a wizard's duel. And I'm not afraid of using Dark Magic.
His piece said, Draco stormed upstairs, the slamming of his door a sign of finality.
Over the next few days, Heather stayed out of her young guest's way, not wanting to upset him further. The Malfoy heir moped around the house, speaking only when necessary and spending as much time as he could out of the house, either at the library or with Evelyn. By Wednesday, Heather was starting to get frustrated, and decided it was time for her to try and make it up to him.
When Draco came home on Wednesday evening, he found Heather sitting in the living room, a pensive look on her face. Slightly concerned for his temporary guardian, despite the fact he wasn't talking to her; Draco went into the room and sat down opposite her. It took a few moments, but eventually Heather raised her eyes to meet the boy's, and she gave him a slight smile. All she got in return was a scowl, which made her face fall.
Draco, she said, I wanted to apologise for what I said the other day. I didn't mean to call you a Muggle, but it just sort of came out that way. I didn't mean it as an insult, as I have no doubt of your obvious strength as a wizard. Draco, I'm sorry, and I know we can't go on living like this. You have another three and a half weeks here; I don't want us to fight. Will you forgive me?
Draco looked at her long and hard, searching her eyes for honesty. When he was satisfied, he gave her a small smile and nod. Heather immediately brightened, pulling the surprised youth into a hug.
Thank you, I mean it. It was starting to become unbearable around here.
I know what you mean, Heather. It was getting hard for me too. You know, you are one of the hardest people to stay mad at I've ever met!
Yes! The amount of times you've given me sad looks and I've wanted to just forgive you there and then, especially as I knew you didn't mean it the way it sounded.
Let's not talk about it anymore. I have something to show you, and I think you'll like it.
Draco gave her a confused look, but stood to follow her out of the room. The witch led him to the cupboard under the stairs, in which she kept her handbag hanging from a row of coat hooks. Taking down the bag, she rummaged inside for a couple of minutes before triumphantly pulling out a thick envelope. With a big grin on her face, she handed the envelope over to Draco, who looked at it in confusion.
What do you want me to do with this? he asked.
Open it, of course!
Heather fidgeted like a schoolgirl as Draco gently tore into the envelope, pulling out two tickets and several sheets of paper. He looked at the tickets for a moment, not a hint of understanding filling his eyes, and quickly scanned the letters for an explanation. His frown deepened as he reached the end, and he looked back up to his guardian.
Well, what do you think? she asked anxiously.
Well, I didn't really understand most of that, he said, glancing back down at the documents in his hand, But I'm assuming we're going to Paris.
That's right. If you want to, of course .
As soon as he heard his theory confirmed, Draco immediately brightened, and he gave a surprised Heather a quick hug.
Do you mean it? We're going to Paris?!
Yes, we are. One of those letters is confirmation of the hotel reservations, and the tickets are for the Eurostar.
What's the Eurostar? Draco asked, perplexed.
It's a train Muggles use to get to France.
But that's not possible! the boy exclaimed.
France is on the other side of the Channel, and I know for a fact that Muggles don't have the ability to Apparate or Portkey there. I always thought they must cross on boats.
They do. Dover, which is not far from here, is the main ferry port. The Muggles always used to cross the sea by ferry or hovercraft, or fly if they were going a long way, or had a lot of money.
Fly?! As in with brooms? Draco was getting decidedly confused, having no experience with Muggle transportation outside of his few trips in a car.
No, they use aeroplanes, large flying machines made of metal. Remember, I told you about them when we went to Canterbury.
Right, I remember now. But how do they get metal in the air?
They use physics.
Ah, right, Draco said, thinking back to the physics books he had read in the library, But that doesn't explain the train. I doubt the Muggles have trains that can go over water, and it's too far to build a bridge over it.
The train doesn't go over the water, it goes under it. A project was completed last year called the Channel Tunnel
What!!! You're telling me the Muggles tunneled under the sea? All the way to France?!
Draco was impressed. Having spent his life believing Muggles to be weak, it came as quite a shock to him that they were capable of something as sophisticated as tunneling under the Channel. As he thought about it, though, he realised that if he and Heather were going to Paris by train, they would be going under the sea. That thought frightened him a little. After all, while he was impressed by a lot of Muggle things, he didn't entirely trust their technology.
So, this Eurostar is the train that goes through the tunnel, he said, just to clarify.
Yes, it is. The ones that just go from Folkstone to Calais are called Le Shuttle, but the ones that go further on each side of the Channel are called Eurostars. We'll be boarding it in London and getting off in Paris.
But what if the tunnel collapses, Draco said, apprehension lacing his voice.
That won't happen. It's built several miles beneath the sea bed.
What if there's a fire .
Again, that won't happen. The trains run pretty frequently, and nothing's happened so far. Anyway, if there is a fire, there are plenty of fire tunnels to escape down.
You're sure it's safe?
Alright then! Paris, here we come!
That weekend, Draco spent hours packing all of his things. He wanted to take all of his clothes, but he knew that he would never fit everything in the suitcase Heather had given him. She had told him that it wasn't practical for him to take his trunk, as they wouldn't be able to put weightless charms on it while in the Muggle world. Heather was also reluctant to shrink it, as she was always apprehensive about using her magic. After all, she was in hiding, and magic could easily be traced by the Ministry.
Eventually, Draco had everything he thought he needed, including both Muggle and wizarding clothes, several books he was reading, his toiletries, his wizarding camera and his wand. Even though he knew he couldn't actually use his wand, he didn't feel safe leaving the house without it. Years of being brought up in a wizarding household had taught him to carry it at all times. A small pouch of galleons was hidden right in the bottom under his clothes, away from the prying eyes of any Muggle thieves he may encounter.
At twelve o'clock, Heather knocked loudly on his door, telling him it was time to leave. Draco quickly zipped up his suitcase and dragged it off the bed, setting it on its wheels and pulling it behind him as he made his way down the stairs. Once he was out of the door, he placed the case in the boot of Heather's car and slipped into the passenger seat. A few minutes later, Heather sat next to him and drove off, heading in the direction of the motorway. No matter how many times Draco went for a trip in a car, the novelty never seemed to wear off.
Eventually, the pair pulled up at the station and Heather paid for the long stay car park. Before the pair knew it, they were sitting on the train and waiting for their journey to begin. Draco was rather excited at the whole affair, having never been on a Muggle train before. Of course, he'd seen them on the way to and from platform 9¾, but had never seen the inside of one. He spent the first ten minutes running up and down the carriage, checking out the restaurant and trying to find out where the conductor was. When the train eventually pulled out of the station, he questioned Heather on why the ride seemed so smooth, and why he couldn't see any steam outside the window. Laughing, the witch tried to explain that Muggles has progressed beyond steam engines.
As soon as the boy noticed the sea outside the window, he started to become nervous, especially when they passed Folkstone. Before he knew it, the view turned pitch black, broken only by the occasional light speeding past. Heather held his hand for the whole half hour journey under the sea, and the normally stoic Draco accepted the small comfort without question. When they finally emerged from the other side, the young wizard heaved a great sigh of relief, sitting back in his seat to enjoy the rest of the journey.
Several hours later the train pulled up in the busy Parisian station, and Heather and Draco collected their bags and headed for the nearest metro station. The witch, it seemed, knew exactly where she was going. Draco watched her sure navigation with interest.
I take it you've been here before, he stated. Heather smiled slightly at the hidden question.
I lived here for a time when I was younger. When Harry rescued me from the Death Eaters, he left me with my sister, the one who raised him. Although she is a Muggle, as is her husband, and hates magic, Harry `persuaded' her to help me. They let me stay with them for a while, until I got myself established in the Muggle world. I took a university course, and later got a job. However, six months after I started work, the company pulled out of Canterbury. I had the choice of losing my job, or moving to France to work in the Paris branch. I loved my job, and didn't want to give it up, so I moved. I was here twelve years.
What happened? Why did you go back to England?
The company went under, eventually. I was starting to feel a little homesick anyway, so I went back. I knew it would be dangerous, going back to somewhere I needed to be in hiding, but it was worth it in the end.
Did you miss Paris? Draco asked.
A little. Sometimes. I have a lot of good memories of here, and some close friends. In the long run, though, my heart will always be in Britain. I may have to leave again in the future, especially if you tell your father about me, but in the end I'll always return.
I feel the same way. I mean, although the Malfoy family is originally from Normandy, we've lived in England for generations. As a child, I learned our ancestral language, French, and visited our estates here, but I will always consider myself English.
You speak French?
Yes. And Latin. My father made me learn them when I was young. French for our heritage and Latin because it helps to understand the spells when performing them. Generations of Malfoys have been schooled by their parents from a young age to always be ahead of the heirs of other families, and thus maintain superiority.
Malfoys, and the heirs of other pureblood families, must have an enormous amount of pressure placed upon them from a young age.
We do. We have to maintain the ancient traditions. One weak link, one untrained heir, and the line will be lost. Hundreds of years of superiority would be lost.
Does it ever get a bit .much? Heather asked delicately. Draco thought about it for a minute before replying.
I suppose it does. Sometimes it makes you feel trapped. Stifled. As if you have to live up to enormously high expectations, and if you don't you'll be responsible for the fall of the family. Sometimes I wish
Nothing, Draco said, shaking his head as if dismissing the thoughts.
What? Tell me, Heather persisted.
Sometimes I just want to be a normal kid for a change.
Heather smiled. That sounded familiar.