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The Wonders of Paris
Their hotel was small and comfortable, and Heather and Draco quickly settled into their rooms. They had been placed on the same landing, only a few feet apart, which reassured the young wizard greatly. In a strange part of the Muggle world, he didn't want to be too far from his temporary guardian. Each of their rooms was furnished with a double bed and en suite bathroom, with a large luxurious shower. Harry had given his aunt a large sum of money from his vault many years before, so she could afford to treat the pair to a nice hotel. Although it was small, it had all the modern conveniences, and the witch found that the smaller places seemed a lot friendlier than most of the large hotel chains.
The two wizarding folk passed a good first night, and both slept well. The following morning, they met in the dining room and enjoyed a breakfast of croissants and coffee. As soon as they were finished, they went back to their rooms, gathered the things they would need for a sightseeing trip, and headed towards the Metro station. On the way there, Heather decided to find out how much of Muggle Paris the young wizard had seen.
So, Draco, have you been to Paris before.
Yes, a few times, when I was younger, he answered.
How much of it have you seen?
Well, we have an estate on the outskirts, and I've visited the wizarding district. Obviously, it's impossible not to notice the Eiffel Tower, but other than that, I've not seen much.
Good, that means I'll have plenty to show you. Today, I think we'll start with the main tourist attractions, such as the Tower, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, Sacré Coeur, and the Champs Élysées. Tomorrow, we'll visit the Louvre, as that will take almost a whole day in itself. Then, on Tuesday, I'll take you to somewhere you're sure to enjoy a lot, bearing in mind your love of Disney films
Where? Draco asked, puzzled. He couldn't see how his enjoyment of animated films would lead to a day trip in Paris.
You'll see when we get there, Heather said, mysteriously.
Draco fully enjoyed his first experiences of Muggle Paris. The pair started at the Eiffel Tower, taking a trip right to the top. The boy found the view to be spectacular, and he marveled at how Muggles could create such an amazing structure, especially so long ago. Heather smiled at his naïveté, telling him that the Eiffel Tower was far from the greatest Muggle architectural achievement. After the Tower, they headed along the bank of the Seine to Notre Dame, where Draco took photographs of the stunning stained glass windows. Their next stop brought them to the Arc de Triomphe, where Heather decided to give Draco a history lesson.
You know, this was the site of a great wizarding battle in 1944.
Yes. On the 30th March, Grindelwald attacked Paris, and the Order of the Phoenix, led by Dumbledore and Harry, fought him here. They killed or injured forty two of Grindelwald's followers, and drove off an entire army of Dementors. It was also the place Harry and his friends were captured.
Potter was captured? Draco asked in surprise.
Yes, Heather said, quietly, the idea of what the four time travellers suffered making her shudder, Their group was divided, Harry and Ginny being taken to Czechoslovakia, to Grindelwald's headquarters, and Hermione and Ron going to a Muggle concentration camp in Poland.
What happened to them? Draco asked, curious despite his dislike of the people she was speaking of.
They were tortured, of course. Ginny mentally and Harry physically. Hermione and Ron had to endure forced labour and hard treatment. They didn't break, though, which is truly a miracle. They may be scarred, and mentally damaged, but they are stronger for the experience.
Potter was tortured?
Draco went quiet for a while after that, thinking over what Heather had told him. He knew Potter had travelled through time and lived in some of the most hostile periods of wizarding history, but it never occurred to him that the Boy-Who-Lived could be touched by something as terrible as physical torture. Despite his dislike of his rival, Draco didn't like the idea of anyone suffering like that. This train of thought inevitably led to his future as a Death Eater. If he did as his father wished and joined Voldemort's ranks, he would have to both inflict and suffer intense torture. The idea made him shudder with revulsion.
After the Arc de Triomphe, the pair headed down the Champs Élysées. As it was a weekend, the shops were understandably busy, but not as bad as they would have been in the tourist season. The young wizard insisted on going in all of the souvenir shops, marveling at the various knick knacks Muggles collected. After buying several postcards, a fridge magnet, two t-shirts and a model of the Eiffel Tower, Draco was dragged away by Heather, who decided he had bought enough junk for one day. She couldn't restrain him, though, when he spotted the Disney Store. His eyes lit up, and he went running into it like a two-year-old. Heather, let out a resigned, but amused, sigh, and followed him into the shop. Her young charge was running around the shop, exclaiming at the soft toys and avidly reading the backs of the video cases.
Heather! Can I get this one? he said, holding up a video of The Black Cauldron.
Sure, if you want, she said with a laugh.
Half an hour later, a decidedly frazzled Heather managed to drag Draco out of the shop and to MacDonald's for lunch. The rest of the afternoon was spent looking around the shops before they headed to see the Basilique du Sacré Coeur. The last place they visited was Montmartre, before heading back to the hotel to pass a quiet evening.
The next day, the witch and the wizard headed to the Louvre bright and early. Draco was bemused by the glass pyramid, not understanding its purpose. Heather smiled at him and took him inside the museum. She had been there many times before when she lived in Paris, so she knew the best things to show him. Starting with the Oriental and Egyptian antiques, they headed to the Greek and Etruscan sections, ending up looking through the Roman things around midday. After a quick lunch, they started on the art sections of the museum. Draco was rather pleased when he saw the Mona Lisa, having read about it in one of the library books over the last few weeks. He was a bit surprised at first, though; having thought that the painting would be bigger.
Once the pair had finished looking at the art, they headed to the huge underground complex beneath the Louvre, meandering through the various exhibitions and shops it housed. By the end of the day, Heather and Draco were exhausted. After spending the whole of the last two days on their feet, walking from one place to the other, it was understandable. Heather told her companion that he had better have an early night, as the next day would be especially exciting. Draco readily agreed, and fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
Tuesday morning dawned, and Heather knocked on Draco's door at seven in the morning, waking him up. The teenager opened the door several minutes later with a huge scowl on his face. Heather chuckled and grinned at him.
Come on, Draco. If you want to go out for the day, you have to get up early.
Yes, he grumbled, But I don't recall you waking me up quite this early that last two days.
That's because I didn't, Heather said with a smirk.
Then why are you doing it today?!
Because today we're going out of Paris. Not far, just to the outskirts, but if we want to fill our day we need to leave early. Especially to beat the crowds.
Crowds? What sort of place attracts crowds in October?
Heather just smiled secretively and headed back to her room.
Twenty minutes later the pair met up at the entrance to the hotel, ready to leave for the day. Heather made sure Draco had his camera and plenty of money, as she felt he would need it.
Where are we going? he asked again, as the pair got out of the metro and headed towards street level.
I'm sure you'll like it, Draco. It's what Muggles call a theme park, and it opened only three years ago. There are two like it in America, and one in Japan.
What do they have at a theme park? Draco asked.
Oh, shops, hotels, roller coasters
Yes. Muggle amusement rides, with small trains on tracks. You'll understand when we get there.
Draco just nodded his head, accepting what Heather was telling him but not really understanding it. As they rounded a corner and ended up in front of the main gates to the theme park, though, Draco's mouth fell open and he stared at the sight before him in amazement. Heather smiled and gestured to the place she had brought him.
Draco, welcome to Disneyland.
Draco was in heaven. Never in his wildest dreams had he imagined anything so wonderful. As far as he was concerned, this was the closest Muggles could get to making something magical, and it had nothing to do with wands and spells. The atmosphere of the place was electric, and it made his heart sing. Draco spent the entire day trying out every ride he could, meeting all of the Disney characters, and taking photographs left, right and centre. His favourite was of himself and Heather standing outside Sleeping Beauty's castle in the Disneyland Park.
In the afternoon, Heather took the teenager to the Walt Disney Studios Park, where he could see how his beloved films were created. All in all, it was a day to remember, and Draco put it down as the best day of his life so far. In the wizarding world, he had always had so many expectations to fulfill, and the image of a Malfoy to maintain. Here, in the Muggle world, with Heather, he was free to run around like a five year old and act like a child for a change. It was as if the rest of his life he had been trapped, kept perfectly in a gilded cage that, while perfect in every way, was stifling. For two months he had been offered a respite from all of that, where he could act like himself for a change, and not how he was expected to act. Of course, some things were ingrained, but his newfound freedom and carefree lifestyle was doing wonders for him. After all, would any of his fellow Slytherins be seen dead holding hands with Donald Duck?
The following morning Draco was once again roused from his slumber far earlier than he would have liked. It was necessary, though, as it was the day he and Heather would be going back to England. Morosely, Draco packed all of his belongings into his suitcase and shoved his wand in his coat pocket. He liked to have it on hand, even if he couldn't use it. When he was done, he made his way to the reception area and struck up a conversation with the clerk as he waited for his guardian to arrive. Ten minutes later, he was out of the door and heading for the metro station with Heather hot on his heels. Both of them were sad to be leaving Paris, Heather because she missed living there, and Draco because he had had such a good time. They both knew they had to go home, though.
The train ride was incredibly boring, as most return journeys were. Journeys always seemed to go more quickly when you were looking forward to arriving. On the way home, though, time seemed to drag as you knew you would be going back to your normal life. Not that Draco's life in the Muggle world was normal for him, but he had gotten into a pattern of sorts, and the break had been a welcome change. The boy barely noticed when the Eurostar entered the Channel Tunnel and headed towards Folkstone.
Eventually the train pulled up at the London station and the pair got off, pulling their suitcases behind them. Before long they had navigated their way through the rush hour crowd and located Heather's car. The motorway was a nightmare as it was just after five o'clock, and it wasn't the best time to try leaving London. As soon as they pulled up at Heather's house, Evelyn turned up to greet them.
Draco! she called, waving to him. The morose boy immediately brightened at her presence.
Evie! It's great to see you, how has your weekend been?
Lonely. It's boring when you're not here to talk to.
Draco felt a pang in his chest. Evie had missed him. Him, Draco Malfoy. Not for his money, not for his name, not for his family's power. Because he was her friend. It made him feel good. Impulsively, he pulled the startled girl into a hug.
I missed you too, Evie. I brought you some souvenirs, I hope you like them.
The pair wandered off together as Heather took the bags in the house, and ended up at Evelyn's house. Her mother was pleased to see the young wizard again, and invited him in for dinner. After calling Heather to tell her he wouldn't be back for a while, he sat down with Evie and her family and ate the delicious meal Mrs. McCarthy had prepared. Over dinner, Draco told the family all about his trip, and Evie was in awe when he told her about Disneyland. The boy promised to give her the presents he had brought her after they had eaten, and Evelyn couldn't wait. The girl's parents watched in amusement at the animated pair, pleased that their daughter had finally found a friend, even if he happened to be several years older than her. After a while, Mr. McCarthy decided to join the conversation. He had been to Paris a few times before, so he knew some of the places the young wizard had been describing.
So, Draco, what was your favourite part of the Louvre?
The Egyptian section, definitely, although the Mona Lisa was quite impressive. There was this one piece in the Egyptian jewelry section that was absolutely stunning. It was a solid gold necklace with a piece that covers the upper chest. The detail in the carvings on it was amazing. I was never aware that the ancient Egyptians were capable of such craftsmanship. There were hieroglyphics surrounding a carved image of a hawk and gryphon, with a snake surrounding the bird. At the top was a row of zigzags. It was quite splendid. The description said the animals represented some of the early Egyptian gods.
I don't recall seeing that one. I'll have to have another look the next time I'm there.
Draco, honey, Mrs. McCarthy said, We're taking Evie to the cinema at the weekend to see Pocahontas, the latest Disney film. Would you like to come with us?
Draco's eyes immediately lit up, and a grin appeared on his face.
That would be wonderful, thank you! I've never been to the cinema before.
You haven't? Evelyn asked in confusion, a frown marring her forehead, How strange. I thought everyone'd been to the cinema at least once in their life, especially at your age.
I had a sheltered childhood, Evie, Draco said, trying to explain without mentioning magic, My father didn't approve of cinemas.
Weird, Evie muttered.
You have no idea, Draco whispered.
That Saturday found Draco and Evelyn sitting in the back of the McCarthy's car heading to Canterbury and the cinema. The two youngsters chatted animatedly in the back, playing games of `I spy' and singing various Disney songs. It was during a rather off key rendition of `I Just Can't Wait to be King' that the car pulled up in the car park and the small group got out and headed for the cinema. As it was the opening weekend, the place was packed, but the small group managed to get seats together, as they had arrived early.
As soon as Draco entered the cinema and saw the size of the screen, his eyes grew wide and he stood gaping like a fish. It was like a television, only a thousand times better. Mr. McCarthy chuckled and whispered in his ear.
Wait until you see an IMAX screen, then you'll know what big is.
What's an IMAX? Draco asked, dazed.
I saw one in America. It's a giant screen that fills your entire field of vision. Quite impressive.
Draco just nodded his head absently and followed Evie to their seats. As soon as the adverts started, he jumped in surprise at how loud the volume was. Once his ears had gotten used to it, he relaxed a little more. He started bouncing in his seat when the trailers started, claiming that he wanted to see all of the films that were advertised. Eventually, though, the film started, and Draco and Evie became engrossed in the colourful animation. When the film finally came to an end, Draco started babbling on about it, and how wonderful it was. Evie was equally enthusiastic, singing the odd bar of `Colours of the Wind' as they queued to leave. Before they left their row of seats, though, Draco became still as felt a faint tingle of something familiar. Magic. Before he could say anything, shouts and crashes could be heard outside, and the roof gave an almighty groan before crashing down on the crowd below.