Chapter Seven: Muggle Shopping for Dummies
The cursor had been blinking for several minutes, undisturbed, as Harry stared blankly at the laptop screen, reclining in his deckchair, arms crossed over his waist. He had been staring blankly for a while, his mind that was usually clouded with metaphors and playful twists on the words one uses within everyday life, was unusually blank as soon as he loaded the document on his laptop. It was frustrating. He broken his time between as many chores as he could possibly muster without injuring his good arm, and regular snacking, but nothing helped his brain to focus. He glanced at his old watch on his wrist, with the worn gold frame and the weathered leather strap it looked as timely as when Vernon had flung it at him. He sighed heavily. "What to do? What to do? What to do?" he chimed to himself, drumming his fingers on his forearm. Energy began to dribble into his system ounce by ounce. No one was in the house. Petunia had her book club, and Vernon had taken Dudley to another junior heavy-weights championship down in Plymouth. They were not due back until the following Wednesday. Today was a Friday. That meant four more days of freedom. It also meant he had to drop by Tesco's to grab his weekly cheque. He drummed his fingers a little more before sighing and kicking his feet off of his desktop. He knew what he could do.
The sunshine was hot and beating down heavily on Draco's face as the midday traffic pummeled on along the nearby motorway. It had been almost two weeks since he and Harry had first started talking and Draco was easily falling into the routine of dismissing his past life in the magical realm for the few hours he got to spend when Harry was available. He smiled slightly. His time was now divided between time with Anita and doing some errands for her for some spare pocket money, not that he knew how to spend any of it as he did not know the currency, and time with Harry who always seemed to make him smile and laugh. A shadow fell over his features. He cracked an eye open and squinted at the person hovering over him, creating a barrier between his eyes and the intense summer sunshine. "Who are you?" Draco asked icily, cautious as ever.
A warm chuckle issued from the strange shadow's mouth, "nice to see you too, stranger"
Draco felt relief flood through him as he tilted his head slightly in the long, dry grass and was able to distinguish Harry's features from the shadow. "Don't sneak up on me like that, Harry, you'll give me a heart attack one day" Harry chuckled again as he moved out of the way of the sun, effectively blinding the blonde boy. Draco cringed and rolled over onto his side, burying his stinging eyes in the crook of his elbow. "Git" he grumbled as Harry eased himself into the prickly grass beside the blonde boy. They said nothing as Harry reflexed his arm muscles within the sling. Draco wished he could have used a small 'Episkey' spell on Harry's arm. True, it was only for minor injuries but as the brunette's arm was almost completely healed anyway it would have been most effective. Draco sighed and flexed his finger of his right hand. He missed the feel of holding his wand, the weight of it, the sleek polished wood -he missed it all. "How is your arm feeling?"
Harry looked momentarily startled, as though he was not used to being asked about his well-being. "Um ..." he flushed and looked at a loss for words, "it's getting better, hurts like hell when I sleep on it by accident but -not too bad all-in-all"
"That's good then" Draco felt the conversation die on his lips. He did not know what Harry usually did other than shop down the road in the main part of town.
Harry looked down at Draco as he twirled a piece of grass between his fore-finger and thumb. It really was too hot outside. Harry longer to be back in Tesco's -at least the place had air-conditioning in there. That's when an image of the almost empty fridge back at number four clouded his vision. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Hey do you fancy coming into town and helping me with some shopping?"
Draco looked over his shoulder at Harry with an incredilous look marring his features. He was about to say 'Malfoy's don't go shopping' or 'aren't there any house-elves to do it?' but he quickly swallowed his tongue. He swallowed and thought for a moment. What else did he have to do today? Aquire a sunburn which he had somehow avoiding, though he knew he would not remain lucky for long. He ducked his head and sighed with a small shrug of shoulders, "I suppose I can take some time out of my packed schedule to accompany you doing such a menial task"
Harry frowned, "didn't you ever go shopping with your parents?"
Draco was on the defence in an instant, his eyes darkening and growing cold enough to chill one's blood even in the summer heat, "Yes, they did, all the time. Just not for something as tedious as food"
Harry looked both affronted and heart-broken. It had only been a suggestion, something to do to get out of the heat, and to keep themselves from getting bored. He had not meant to offend the blonde boy. Harry wrinkled his nose and blinked a few times against the bright sunshine. "Fine. I was only asking. Hell, I would have bought you lunch if you weren't such an arse about it" he snarled, like a rabid canine.
Although the prospect of lunch sent Draco's malenourished stomach growling ravenously into the ground, Draco forced himself to ignore it in return for glaring up at Harry who was struggling up to his feet, trying not to lean on his bad arm. "I don't need you to buy things for me! I'm NOT a charity case, Potter!"
Harry stood over the blonde, mouth fallen open, and eyes bright with emotions, "charity? You think I do this out of charity? It may surprise you, Draco, but I actually like spending time with you! I don't know why I just do!" he paused for breath, a red flush creeping up from beneath his collar, "or I did until you opened your mouth just now"
Draco felt is form go rigid, "what do you mean by that?" he growled, silver eyes flashing.
Harry threw his good arm out to one side, "like everytime I try and offer you some money for food, food itself a fucking shower -because quite frankly you all but stink like the Devil's dustbin -and you think it's charity? You need food to live, you need good hygeine or you'll get sick, what part of this is not compatible with your anatomy?" Draco watched Harry's flushed figure sweat under the blazing sun, his fringe growing damp with sweat and sticking to his forehead. Harry clenched his good fist and Draco feared for a moment the brunette would punch him. Instead, Harry turned abruptly on his heel and began marching off in the direction of the gravel path that led down to town.
Draco watched the brunette shrink before reality knocked his head. Was he an idiot? Being a muggle this long had tampered with his thinking logically. He could not afford to lose out on a -what was Harry? Were they friends? He blinked. Harry was almost lost from sight. "Potter?" he mentally smacked himself, "HARRY!"
Harry was seething, hands stuffed into his tight jeans pockets as he trudged down the gritty gravel path that led from the grassy field with the playground to the town. He ground his teeth together. He could not believe that Draco would act that way. He had only been trying to help the older boy. He growled low in his throat, the smell of traffic fumes polluted the air around him. He needed a shower himself when he got home, he was too sticky with his own sweat -he dreaded to think how grimy Draco felt. He wrinkled his nose at the thought.
Though he was surprised to hear Draco's voice, Harry marched on, determined not to let the blonde know how effected he was by the harsh argument they had participated in.
He wanted to slow down -he really did -but his feet were guiding him. He was striding onwards.
"FOR FUCKS SAKE HARRY WILL YOU SLOW DOWN?"
That made him stop. He did not turn to face the blonde, merely kept his head bowed and hands stuffed deep in his pockets. his temples were throbbing with the aftermath of the argument, the searing heat from the sun and the feverish flush drawn on my his anger. The gravel crunched under Draco's skidding footsteps, the heavy panting suggested to Harry that the blonde was not as fit as he appearred. A shock of blonde flashed past his eyes as Draco keeled over and drew in long breaths. Harry didn't say or do anything but stare straight ahead as the blonde's breathing eased up and said boy straightened his back. "Thank you" he rasped.
Harry shrugged. He was still too angry.
Draco glared momentarily at this nonchalant gesture but bit his tongue. "I'm sorry for snapping at you -I'm just not used to being talked to the way you talk to me"
Harry snapped his venomous emerald gaze on the blonde. "Oh? And how do I speak to you?" he snarled.
Draco blinked in surprise. Harry had a darker side to him? Since when? Draco, for the first time in his life, began to feel sheepish. "Like I'm worth offering the little things -I wouldn't have survived if you had not given me the food"
Feeling his anger subside a little, Harry shrugged, "it was the least I could do. You helped me, I helped you. We're even."
They stood side-by-side for a while, Draco feeling awkward and Harry calming his mind down. Draco sighed and stared down at his run down converses, "so where are we going to buy the food from then?"
Harry looked over at the blonde boy with a sceptical expression, "we?"
Draco nodded, "yes. You made that lovely picnic for us. It's only fair I should help you in return"
Harry smiled, his anger evapourating from within his bloodstream. "Alright -it's just down here." Draco nodded and obediantly followed as they descended what was left of the huge yellow grass hill towards the main town.
The desolate house at the very end of Spinner's End, where the waters of the river sloshed gently against the other side of the back garden wall, was not empty and was not often occupied. It was merely a nesting ground for the blackbird that housed itself within could flutter freely to and fro between this house and its other areas of commitment. This particular blackbird was at present awaiting the arrival of a small dove. One whom he had shared many associations with.
This particular blackbird went by the name of Severus Snape.
Dressed -as usual -in tight black trousers and a knee-length fitted black coat with a buttoned up neck, the tip of hie white collar pocket out around his neck and the same sound be said for his shirt cuffs. He rarely wore anything else in case he was called out on business. He was reading through the Daily Prophet when there was a sharp rapping of knuckles against his front door. He sighed and snapped his newspaper shut before folding it over the arm of his chair.
"Why can she never use the door-knocker?" he grumbled, knowing fully well whom was outside his door as she was the only person he was anticipating a visitor from. "That is what it's there for after-all" He reached the other side of the front door, drew the bolt back slowly, allowing the grating sound of metal against metal echo throughout the house. The door creaked inwards. A hooded figure stood outside. Severus inclined his head and stepped aside, allowing the figure to enter. He closed the door. "You should not have come" he stated emotionlessly.
The hood was pulled back by a slender white hand, "I know -I just had to know -do you know where he is?"
Severus pinched the bridge of his nose, "I have seen him, actually. Just the other week. Twice"
A hand flew to the guest's mouth, "he did not see you did he?"
Severus sneered, "don't be foolish Narcissa!" he seethed, "I did not recieve the Dark Mark for being easily spotted!"
Narcissa bowed her head, her eyes -red from crying -shimmered in the low light pouring in through the living room window. "Forgive me, Severus. I just -was surprised you had seen him"
Severus hummed in thought before walking past her into the living room and poured him a glass of Golbin Gin and offered another to Narcissa. She accepted. "I saw him with a woman -and old thing that lives a few doors down from me -he's been there a lot, helping her with shopping and the like"
Narcissa wrinkled her nose and the thought of her son doing manual labour, "why would he stoop to such a level?"
"He does not have much of a choice Narcissa -not since your husband did this to him!"
"He was protecting -"
"What, Narcissa? What was your uptight husband trying to protect? The bloodline? Bullshit. Voldemort is dead. Over! Get that truth both your heads. Your husband is a snivelling bafoon. He will not be the next Dark Lord -do you hear me? Your son is in a foreign environment and fending for himself! Surely THAT is more important?"
"I know!" she snapped and then choked back her gin with a wince, "I know" she repeated softly, running her hand over her face. "I am just worried about him. I mean -muggles! Of all places it had to be a muggle place-" she stopped short when Severus dark, cold gaze turned icier. "Oh, forgive me Severus I forgot"
Severus merely pursed his lips, "I cannot reveal myself to him just yet Narcissa. It will be a blow to the system and he had managed to survive so far. He has even made a friend. But I will keep an eye out for him"
Narcissa sighed wearily, "I suppose that is all I can ask for at this present time" then she frowned, "a friend? Whom?"
Severus looked down into his gin and swirled it, "strange kid, jogs a lot, shops a lot for the family he lives with, rumor has it he was beaten by his uncle and sent to hospital for a few days"
Narcissa cringed, "that poor child, what do his parents have to say?"
Severus shivered. He could not bear it -those eyes -her eyes -he choked slightly. "Dead, Narcissa, the boys' parents are dead"
"So this is where you buy your food?" Draco asked as they walked across the illuminated car park to the trolley racks. He watched as Harry dug around for a rustic off-gold coloured coin and inserted it into an open slot in the top of the strange wired device on wheels. Harry pulled it out from the rack with his good arm and swivelled it around and wheeled it near to Draco, who flinched.
Nothing happened. The beast did not attack him.
Harry chuckled, "yes, I still cannot believe that you have not been to Tesco's before"
Draco gave a sheepish smile and opted to stand alongside Harry behind the wired device. They walked near the double doors and Draco frowned at the lack of handles until they opened by themselves. He yelped in fright as Harry nudged him through. "H-how did they do that?" he asked in an exaggerated whisper.
Harry frowned. Was the blonde serious? "Are -um -yes, they are automatic doors. They open when they sense something or someone coming towards them"
As they trailed from aisle to aisle, Draco's hand latched upon Harry's good forearm, Harry could not help but feel that the blonde had indeed been living one of the most sheltered lives he had ever anticipated. He could have grown up in a jungle as he was nervous and over-excited about the whole experiance. Draco on the other hand was having the time of his life learning about this new environment. He was dying to ask how the muggles contained such icy cooling charms in the glass cabinets. He wanted to know how the food stayed apparently so fresh without preservation charms -but alas, he could not. He fingers were itching to touch everything in sight. Harry kept shooting his odd glances, so Draco stuffed his trembling hands into the deep pockets of his hoodie. Harry, meanwhile, glanced down into the trolley trying to see if he had remembered everything. He wrinkled his nose in thought.
Brandy! He almost smacked his head at his own idiocy. He would need a new stock of Brandy for when Vernon returned. His stomach churned uncomfortably at the thought. Draco caught the look and was about to question it when -
"Harry!" both boys' turned towards the voice. Draco frowned at the dark haired muggle in a pristine white shirt, a black tie and black trousers with shining black shoes. A tightness entered Draco's chest. How did this muggle know Harry? He swallowed and narrowed his eyes. He glanced off-handedly at Harry before taking a step back.
Harry unclenched some of his muscles and forced a smile on his features. "H-hi Eric"
Draco watched a flush crawl onto Harry's skin and felt his stomach knot and churn and boil within him. It made him feel physically sick as he watched Eric place a tender hand upon Harry's good shoulder. "How are you doing? You haven't been in work the last few days"
Harry sighed and shrugged a shoulder, "I know -my arm has been playing up" Both Draco and Harry were surprised at how easily the brunette lied to the older man. Draco clenched and unclenched his sweating palms. Harry looked up into Eric's concerned eyes and glared.
He straightened his back.
He loathed to feel pitied.
Eric pursed his lips in worry before his arms drifted over Harry's head and landed on Draco whom was hovering nearby. Draco could feel the eyes burning into his skull but ignored them. Eric bent at his waist and whispered in Harry's ear, so close that Harry squirmed as the hot breath trailed down his neck and made his skin hotter. "Is this yob pestering you, Harry?"
Harry jerked back into reality, spinning around abruptly to fend off the assault he was sure would come. He frowned. All he saw was Draco. So -where was the yob? That's when it dawned on Harry. Eric thought that Draco was the yob. Harry looked the blonde over quickly; light grey, dirt-speckled hoodie tied around the lithe, emaciated waist, faded black jeans hanging low on the boys' pointed hips, frumpy, filthy white polo shirt clinging to the slender muscles aligning the blondes body. Harry swallowed and let out a shakey laugh as he stepped away from Eric, much to Draco's relief, and walked to the blonde's side. "Eric this is Draco -he's er ... staying with me. He's been to the gym and helped me do some gardening and has not had time to shower -that's why he looks a little scruffy" Harry grinned uneasily, throwing an arm around the taller boys' shoulders.
Draco was about to being called 'scruffy' but he swallowed the scathing comeback. He probably did look a state. He forced himself to look unabashed as he shrugged lazily at Eric. He smirked at the older man who had paled a little at Harry's arm around Draco's own shoulders. Draco lent into the embrace and ruffled his fingers in the black locks that curled at the nape of Harry's neck. "I am quite a state" he stated matter-of-factly, "but I intent to shower as soon as Harry gets us home" his smirk widened as Eric's Adam apple bobbed as he swallowed when Draco practically purred the word 'us'.
"Yes well -Harry" Eric snapped his attention back to the boy who was shifting his weight from foot-to-foot. "When will your arm be better?"
"Within the next week I should imagine"
Eric nodded, "alright. Report to me Monday evening and we will see if some more leniant work can be given for you"
Harry growled low in his throat but managed to disguise it as a cough, "yeah sure -that would be great"
Eric nodded before turning sharply on his heel and all but marched away.
Harry turned to see the gleefully smirking blonde, before he smirked himself. Draco -unused to seeing the michievious glint in Harry's eyes -felt his smirk slide off of his life. "What?" he questioned uneasily.
"I meant it you know" Harry stated matter-of-faclty as he grabbed onto the handrail of the trolley and turned it in the direction of the alcohol.
"What did you mean?" Drack asked uncertainly.
"When We get back to MY house I am running YOU a shower" Harry threw one last smirk over his shoulder before marching down the aisle and turning a corner.
Draco blanched, "wait -what? HARRY!" the blonde sped after the grinning Harry.
Later, as they were walking out of Tesco's both of them carrying a plastic bag each, taut with groceries, they were about to leave the sanctuary of the car park when Harry collided with a rather tall man with a gaunt expression, a long hooked nose and shoulder-length curtains of pristine raven locks that glinted in the lamplight. "Oof!" the man exclaimed as he staggered back a step to regain his footing before straightening to his full height and staring down haughtily at the two boys'. Harry swallowed and backed up, looking like a child with his hand caught in the cookie jar, "Oh God I'm sorry sir I didn't see you"
The man hummed disapprovingly before snapping his coat collar and cleared his throat, "just hurry along Mister ...?"
"P-Potter, sir, Harry Potter"
"Very well. Move along Mister Potter"
"Yes sir" Harry ducked his head and side-stepped the tall ominous man, not looking back once. Draco followed close behind mentally wondering where he could remember that voice from and why that particular voiced sounded choked when he had said the name 'Potter'.
Backlit by the faint glow from the Tesco's on the other side of the car park, the man in the shadows swallowed thickly and felt his heart quake within his chest. His hand balled into a fist pressed at the indent between his ribs through his coat, eyes glinting with a backlash of memories. "He has her eyes" he breathed shakily.
Unable to bear it any longer, he vanished from whence he had come.