Who: Draco Malfoy and Theodore Nott What: School shopping, Running into one another. When: August 1st Where: Knockturn Alley Rating: TBD, likely some snark and perhaps a hex or two. TBC in comments.
The only reason Theo was even out shopping was because he'd received his Hogwarts letter yesterday and it had reminded him that he needed to go out and buy stuff for the new year.
Summer was a drag, just him alone knocking around in Nott Manor with only a handful of ancient House Elves for company. He was so damn efficient that he didn't have anything to do with his father... 'away'. He had the house finances in martial lines, had the House Elves running the cleaning and general maintenance, no one wrote correspondence to the Nott household anymore now that the head of the family was locked up, in short
Theo had nothing to do.
And it was driving him even further up the wall than he usually was.
So yeah, maybe that's why he'd decided to actually get out of the place today; living on your own the way he did in a place with as much dark and bloody history as his house... it didn't add up to a healthy living situation.
He'd wandered carelessly (by all appearances at least) through Diagon Alley but turned down into Knockturn without doing more than windowshop. He made a few purchases here and there but it was Borgin & Burkes he was really headed for; he was quite able to while away a good few hours going through the amusing little bloodthirsty Dark magic devices on the shelves, and not just because it made him come over all nostalgic either.
Months later, and Draco was still struggling to make sense of where he was, of what had happened. It was more frustrating that he barely remembered why things were so suddenly odd and awkward. Why he could look at someone and feel as if it was impossible they were there, or why he sometimes had an overwhelming sense of the wrongness of things that were happening. It had hit him hard that morning with the newspaper article followed so quickly by his Hogwarts letter. Dumbledore retired? It felt as if it shouldn't be possible, and not for the reasons that most of the world was likely believing it not possible. The man shouldn't be, at all, and somehow Draco knew that in his stomach even if it made no logical sense. He thought back to his conversations with the man over the course of the last few weeks of his sixth year and cringed. What would happen without Dumbledore's authority?
And Hogwarts. His letters and reading lists and whatever the ridiculous little journal had been that had come with them? He was returning to Hogwarts. It shouldn't be possible, but it was. And along with it, his first trip to Diagon Alley in what felt like years, though also felt far less than that, and he knew he'd been there at his last Christmas, somehow, even if that Christmas felt as if it had happened decades ago.
He didn't understand any of it.
He did understand, though, that he had to survive it. Which was why he'd found himself in the dark upstairs at Borgin & Burkes, snivelling dishonestly while Caractacus Burke told him that he was a failure. That he should be ashamed. That the Dark Lord would punish him. The only bit of any of it that mattered at all was that last - because Burke telling him he was a failure didn't have quite the same punch when the man's voice still held that centuries old respect that came, from some, for being a Malfoy.
Draco was angry and terrified as he came down the stairs and into the main shop. Dumbledore had promised that this could be solved if Draco could only play his part - but Dumbledore was sick and old, and Draco's part was becoming just as confusing as his memories of forty years that had never happened.
Over the years Theo had developed a way of looking up without actually looking up to notice his surroundings, something that was more than a little necessary living with his father. He caught the shock of white-blond hair and looked up without being startled to see his classmate and past-playdate companion coming down the stairs not looking particularly composed. He put down the Bit and Bracelet of Breaking he was studying (with increasing doubt as to whether or not it was the real thing) and ran his fingers over a set of red-black rune stones absently as he greeted his classmate. "Draco."
Draco stopped at the base of the stairwell when he heard his name, and the change wasn't immediate because he always carried himself well, with pride, even when he was feeling completely disheveled. His lips tightened into a straight, thin line, and he gave Theodore a cursory glance. Theodore, he decided, didn't feel out of place. At least not as dually out of place as everyone else seemed to.
"Nott," He said, and he meant it sharply though fell flat somehow. And without saying anything more, he started toward the door again.
Theo hadn't seen anyone apart from his House Elves all summer and really the solitude was not conducive to a young man's mental health, especially not when said mental health was rather unwell to begin with. Deciding a) the trinket he'd been looking at was fake and b) he really wasn't doing anything better, Theo turned himself around and followed the blond out, chatting to him as if they'd been doing so amiably all day. "Heard from anyone over the holidays?" he enquired blandly, and that could have meant correspondence from anyone.
Draco had grown up next to Theodore - he'd been an ocassional playmate at the manor as children, and they'd shared a House and dorm. Still, he couldn't shake the suspicious feeling that it had been years since he'd seen him, or heard him chatting on inanely. And he also knew that it had been just weeks ago, as they left from Hogwarts, even though he'd been feeling the same disconnect then.
Theodore had never cowed to him or followed him about like Crabbe or Goyle. Hadn't ever begged for his attention like others. It had always annoyed Draco to no end, and he had no idea why the boy was following him now. He lengthened his strides - he had several inches on him, after all, and headed deeper into Knockturn's dark alley, hoping that would ward him off. "I haven't," he said tightly, and why did it feel so strange to be speaking to him?
If Theo noticed Draco's cold and standoffish behaviours - and he did - he didn't say anything about it. He increased his stride to keep up with his roommate and put his hands into his robe pockets like they were just strolling along on a summer's day somewhere. He just needed to be whistling some little ditty and the scene would almost be complete, if you could blank out the fact that they were walking through Knockturn. He didn't seem to have the need to say anything else, but was apparently perfectly content walking alongside the blond instead.
Draco had almost reached the end of the alleyway when he stopped suddenly and turned on Theodore with a speed he was known for - it was second nature, habit, and even with the strange sort of duality in him now he felt right about the way that his wand was in his hand so quickly, menacing. He'd always been too quick to draw it. "Nott, whyin hell are you following me?"
Theo took a step back and had his own wand to hand as Draco had his; they had been raised by Death Eaters after all. He remained unflustered by the question though and shrugged one narrow, bony shoulder. "I'm bored." As if that was enough answer.
The line of Draco's lips drew tighter, but his hand went to his side. He didn't put his wand away, but he didn't brandish it at the other boy, either. "Well, go and be it somewhere else. I'm busy." He wasn't, at all, at least not with anything he understood or wanted to do, but Nott didn't need to know that.
That didn't deter the apathetic blond either. "You've heard of transference?" he asked semi-rhetorically. He didn't move his hand, still in his pocket, his wand still in his hand. He was confident enough in his abilities to draw and draw fast should he need to, and if he wasn't fast enough well, what would he care? One curse was really the same as another.
Draco's eye narrowed at the non-sequitur. Had he heard the term? He might have, though he wasn't at all sure if he could trust his memories of knowledge gained. "Have you heard of wanting to be left alone? Or of getting to the point?"
"Yes." Theo answered the questions although he knew they didn't require an answer. He could be funny like that. "The point was there. You're busy, I'm bored, if I stick with you then maybe I won't be. In fact, I'm already less bored than I was before. See, transference, already working." If he was teasing Draco it was so subtle that even he didn't quite catch it.
Draco gaped at him for a moment, the expression clearly distasteful and also clearly questioning Nott's sanity, but then he rolled his eyes and put his wand away. Theodore was harmless. "The problem with that plan is that I'm busy, and I don't want company," He pointed out, and then he looked past Nott's shoulder, out into the alley they'd just walked down. "If I turn and walk the other direction, are you going to follow me again?"
"Possibly. It's highly likely but we won't know until we try." Theo said glibly, unconcerned as he had been the entire time. Really, there was no choice between this and going back to the spire of insanity that was the Nott Estate.
The problem was, Draco believed Theodore when he said it. Nott was the type who wouldn't know if he was planning on following you until after he'd started doing it, wasn't he? Draco knew the other boy was clever - it was a shame that he was also a complete nutter. "I don't have time to play games with you, Nott. Are you honestly that bored that you don't have anything to do other than follow along where you're not wanted?" He could, perhaps, have been less direct. But he didn't much care to be. The problem of feeling people as if you'd known them twice... it was often accompanied by a headache.
"Pretty much." Theo confirmed, tucking a particularly irritating flyaway piece of blond hair back behind his ear where it belonged. "Otherwise I'd be doing something else." And again, his words, his tone, all were riding an edgy line between mocking and sincere.
"Have you considered other options?" Draco's tone was slowly shifting from the annoyed to sarcastic, and he seemed to be relaxing. Nott wasn't a threat, and that was perhaps a first since he'd left Hogwarts. Death Eaters crowded his home, prisoners hid away in the dark there but he swore he could still hear them whimpering no matter where he was on the grounds. Nutter-Nott was the easiest he'd had it in weeks.
That didn't mean he actually wanted to be speaking to him, though. And he certainly didn't want to be followed. "Perhaps transfiguring yourself into something."