Chapter 23:

Malfoy Visits the Dursleys

Draco couldn't believe he was doing this. That he was stooping so low as to enter a Muggle town, let alone a Muggle's house. Yet, he couldn't deny he was curious to see where his friend – and his rival – lived. She had told him a bit but had always been…vague in what she said.

Sighing, he turned up the driveway of Number 4 Private Drive, thankful for his father's connections, though he was surprised at his father's consent to this. Raising a hand, still unable to believe he was there, he knocked twice.

The door opened a moment later, revealing his school foe. Harry Potter's green eyes widened in shock.

"Malfoy?" he asked in disbelief.

"Potter. Is your sister there?" He inquired, his tone short and cold. Potter's eyes narrowed at the question, but glancing backwards over his shoulder, he sighed.

"Yeah. Come in," he replied grudgingly, closing the door behind Malfoy before heading into the adjacent hallway.

Draco took the moment to look about. It was clean – sterile, even. Perhaps they kept it this way to lessen the amount of Muggle filth that coated everything. He stood as still as possible, not wanting to make contact with any more than absolutely necessary.

Harry went over to the closet door, knocking briefly. When no response came, he cracked it open, peering inside. His sister was still curled up, asleep on the floor, something which surprised him if only because he knew they were both early risers, thanks to years with the Dursleys. Then again, if she was having half as much trouble sleeping as he was, it was understandable. He stepped inside, kneeling next to her, and gently shook her shoulder.

"Jessa? Jessa, you have to wake up," he said quietly. She just grumbled.

"Draco Malfoy's here to see you," he said. This statement got her attention, cutting straight through the sleep-fog. She sat upright, brown eyes wide as she blurrily stared at her brother.

"What? He's here?"

Harry nodded as she reached for her glasses.

"But why? I – I told him to meet me in Diagon Alley. And it wasn't supposed to be for another week I thought."

"Well, he's standing in the hallway. Care to explain why?"

Jessa looked down suddenly, avoiding his gaze. "He – he invited me to stay with him for the second half of the summer. I – I figured you'd be escaping to the Weasleys' again, so I accepted. I couldn't be left alone again."

"You wouldn't have been! You could have come with me!"

"They're your other family, Harry. You think I don't know that? I see it. But I'm not. So, I accepted. I know you don't approve; it's why I didn't tell you ahead of time. But he asked…without me having to say anything much at all. That means something, don't you think."

Slowly, he nodded. Grudgingly, Harry had to give her that one. "I suppose even Malfoy's house is better than here…well, for you at least. Get dressed while I pack your bag," he dictated, obviously annoyed.

She nodded gratefully, slipping into jeans and a tee-shirt as Harry went over to the corner of the small closet and stuffed her limited belongings into an even smaller bag.

What was taking them so long? Draco stepped forward and pushed open the door he had seen Potter go through and was surprised and troubled by the sight he saw: both Potters exiting from the closet door.

He moved forward to embrace her, before stopping himself. It wouldn't do to show such a gesture in front of Potter. Not yet at least. Jessa didn't seem to get that message, however, as she moved forward to wrap her arms around him…much to her brother's obvious displeasure. He responded by pulling her a bit closer, secretly – or not so secretly – enjoying the look on Potter's face. Better yet, his father wasn't around to tell him he was "going soft".

Harry watched, stunned. Perhaps he really did have to accept that he was Jessa's friend.

"I thought I asked you to meet me in Diagon Alley."

"You did…but I thought I'd surprise you."

"BOY!" a voice bellowed, causing all three to jump. The Potter siblings' eyes widened.

"Go! I'll deal with Uncle Vernon," Harry said urgently, ushering them towards the door.

"Are you – "

" – yes, I'm sure, now go!" Harry urged, but it was too late. The pantry door swung open, revealing a very angry Vernon Dursley.

"BOY, what's tak – who's this?" he asked, pointing a pudgy finger at Draco.

"Draco Malfoy, Sir. I'm here to take Jessa to stay with me," he replied, his tone not quite disguising the disgust he had for the Muggle man.

"Oh really? And if I don't let you?"

"Uncle Vernon, Draco's family is very well respected. His father works in the Ministry."

Harry just groaned. Just add to his ego, why don't you, Jessa? But at the same time, he could see her point. Uncle Vernon was more likely to let her go if he knew her friend was higher up in society…even if it was within the Wizarding World.

"Is that so…well, take her then, I don't care," he said gruffly, before turning his pudgy finger towards his niece. "And you…don't show your face back here until next summer, understood?" he asked coldly. She nodded (although she would never admit it, she was a bit afraid of her uncle).

"Good. Now, get out!" he barked. "And you boy, get started on breakfast. I thought I'd already said that," he ordered.

"In a minute," Harry replied, his voice beyond cold.

"Now boy."

"I said in a minute," her brother replied defiantly, staring his uncle in the eye. Uncle Vernon turned and left, mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like ungrateful little freaks.

Draco watched, stunned. He couldn't believe how that man treated Jessa and her brother. Was this why she didn't want him to pick her up here? He would have to ask her about it later – she was always so evasive about her home life.

And Potter – could it be that he wasn't revered here like he was in the Wizarding World? That his own relatives didn't know of his fame? From the way this man – their uncle – was treating them, it seemed like it went beyond just strictness, to mistreatment. Just something else he'd have to bring up with Jessa…once he found a way to do so without upsetting or insulting her.

"You'd better go. Before he changes his mind," Harry advised, unusually calm. "Be careful. I – I'll write," he continued, running a hand through his untameable black hair, obviously having a hard time letting her go off with Malfoy.

"I will. And Harry, if the Weasleys don't pick you up within a few days, I'm sure you could stay with me in that time…but that's me saying that, not them, mind you," she said, causing him to chuckle weekly. Jessa looked down at her feet for a moment.

"I just don't want you to be stuck here for the whole summer while I'm…well, not," she said, both in truth and as a reminder of what he'd done to her in the past. The reminder didn't go unnoticed by Harry – who grimaced at the memory.

"Don't worry about me. I'll be fine," he said, finally bringing his arms around her in a tight hug..

"And so will I," she retorted lightly.

They broke and Harry ushered them out the door, watching in both interest and disgust as Malfoy wrapped his arm around her waist, guiding her down the driveway. But just as they reached the end, Jessa turned to him.

"Draco, just – one more minute?"

When he nodded his consent, she ran back up the driveway to where Harry stood in the doorway, watching them leave. He took a step back as she threw her arms around him, placing a hand on the hallway table to steady himself.

"Jessa, what – "

" – I love you, Harry. And I'll always support you. You know that, right?"

It took a brief moment for him to find his voice. It made him happy to hear that. It proved to him that even though she was Slytherin, even though she was leaving with Draco Malfoy of all people – she was still his sister first.

"I love you, too. Now will you please get out of here before you're hurt?"

She just nodded, breaking away.

"Thank you." She smiled up at him, before running back to Malfoy and the two disappeared down the street. Harry sighed as he watched them go, closing the door and returning to his angry uncle. To say he wasn't worried would be a complete lie…and yet, somehow, he knew Malfoy wouldn't purposely hurt her.

Meanwhile, upon reaching the end of the street, Draco pulled Jessa aside to a cluster of trees and pulled out a small comb. Whispering a word she didn't hear, the object began to glow blue.

"Take hold of it," he ordered. She just looked up at him puzzled though.

"Jessa, now!" he said frantically, grabbing her arm and wrapping her hand around the small object just as the comb sucked the two off the street.

They landed on hard floor inside a large hallway. Both children were thrown backwards and Jessa was gasping for air.

"What was that thing?" she gasped out.

"A Portkey. It transports people from one place to a designated second place," he explained.

"Yeah, I got that much, thanks," she replied wryly as Malfoy helped her to her feet.

"Draco, are you going to introduce me to your friend?" a voice said from behind them. They turned to see a tall, poised woman waiting for them.

"I'm Jessa Potter. It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Malfoy. Thank you for having me," she said, striding forward to shake the older woman's hand before Draco could reply.

"Yes, you too. Draco, why don't you show Miss Potter to her room? Your father will be home later tonight," the matriarch suggested with an arched eyebrow. Draco nodded, a look passing between the two Malfoys – one Jessa pretended not to notice.

Jessa stared in amazement at the seemingly endless hallways. This house was huge! Draco lived here? How was she ever going to find her way around. Then again, she managed to survive Hogwarts…how much different could this be?

Finally, they stopped and Draco gestured to the deep wood door on the left, a lone dragon just above her height the only marker to differentiate it. "This is my room."

Moving up just one more set of doors, he opened the door on the right, "And this will be your room."

Jessa gaped at the plain but elegant room. The beige walls were bordered with silver design and panelling. The sheets themselves matched the silver shade on the walls. It was a large bed – larger than her one at Hogwarts. A tall set of black drawers was pushed into one corner and along that same wall, a small desk. On her left, a door led to the room's personal loo.

"This is…my room?"

Draco's brow furrowed. "Where else would we put you?"

"It's so big, though," she murmured, stepping inside and turning slowly.

"Jessa?" he said quietly, observing her in obvious discomfort; he hadn't meant to broach the topic so soon, but he couldn't dismiss her reaction. "Do you mean to tell me you've never had your own room?"

"Well, at Hogwarts, I share the room with the other girls in my year. Same as everyone at school," she started. As if Draco hadn't already known that.

"And at home? Or…whatever you call where I picked you up from? Surely you – "

"I – I suppose I have my own room at the Dursleys', but it's nothing compared to this," she continued, her voice barely above a whisper.

He watched as she ran her fingers over the soft material of the comforter.

"Jessa, do you – do you sleep in that closet I saw you exit from?" he asked carefully. Swallowing hard, she turned away from him, ashamed as she nodded.

"On the floor?" he continued carefully, watching her closely.

"There are some old sweatshirts for comfort," she persisted, her cheeks almost as red as her hair. Draco stared before asking something else.

"And where does your brother sleep?"

"Now? Now he sleeps in Dudley's old second bedroom," she responded easily with a shrug.

"But that's entirely unfair!"

"It's fine…honestly. It's a recent thing, anyway."

"Jessa – "

" – it's fine. Honestly. I just don't want to talk about it. Please."

"Just tell me one other thing – is that the only way they mistreat you? By where you sleep?"

"You met my uncle today, Draco. What do you think?"

He could see clear as day how uncomfortable and mortified she was with this conversation.

"I'm sorry," Draco said, embracing her tightly. He just held her for a moment as Jessa composed herself; Draco felt the shuddering gasp she took.

"Thank you," she whispered, looking up into his grey eyes. He smiled at her.

"Come on. Let's go out back. We can ride brooms!" he suggested, knowing they both needed something to take their mind off matters.

By the way her face lit up, he knew it was a good idea.