Chapter 24:

Summer at the Malfoys'

The next few weeks were some of the best Jessa had ever had. She would forever be grateful to Draco for inviting her over – for rescuing her from the Dursleys'.

Mrs. Malfoy had taken the younger girl under her wing. Jessa secretly suspected the woman may have also wanted a daughter. What was worse – when she thought the children weren't looking, both Jessa and Draco had seen her looking at them, a twinkle in her eye, especially when they sat almost next to one another.

Mr. Malfoy was another matter. He seemed less than thrilled to have her staying with them. Jessa wondered how on earth Draco had even received permission for her to stay, given his father's…aloofness towards her, given who she was.

Two weeks after Jessa's arrival at Malfoy Manor, they were at dinner when Mr. Malfoy made an announcement.

"In a week's time, we will be attending the Quidditch World Cup. We have been invited to sit with the Minister himself. I expect you to be on your best behaviour. Am I clear?" his voice slippery–smooth as his cold grey eyes swept over the others seated at the table.

Jessa looked down at the table, unwilling to meet his eye. She had learned her lesson many times over and was not eager for a repeat, especially from her new friend's father.

"Mr. Malfoy, where am I to stay during the World Cup? You're not going to send me back to my relatives', are you?"

A flash of surprise flitted across the hosts' faces before Draco's eyes narrowed. He could detect the apprehension, even fear, in her voice.

"Miss Potter, I was under the impression that announcement was made to all of you; that you were coming with us," Lucius replied, staring calculatingly at the young girl as her head snapped up.

"What? Sir, you mean I – I'm invited to attend with you?"

"Of course, you can come with us. What did you think we were going to do, Miss Potter, leave you behind?" Narcissa asked, incredulous and amused.

But Jessa simply bowed her head. Only Draco caught her response of "Yes", which caused him to have to take another deep breath to control his anger. It wouldn't do to show his emotions so openly…especially in front of his father. It wasn't the Malfoy way.

"Go with Narcissa now. I can't have you disgracing the Malfoy name by dressing like a muggle," he ordered, his tone cold and condescending.

She just nodded, following the Malfoy matriarch out of the room. Draco watched her go and was about to leave himself when his father stopped him.

"Draco, stay a moment please." Suspicious, Draco sat back down, waiting for his father to explain.

"I must say, I'm surprised at how well you get along with Miss Potter. I am not saying I completely approve. However, at least you finally made a wise alliance with a Potter, even if it isn't the one I meant. She is a Slytherin. And she certainly seems to know her place."

Draco's hands clenched into fists under the table, but he made sure to keep his face expressionless, just as he had always been taught.

"I want you to hear me out now son. You may remain friends with her. If and when the Dark Lord returns, she may be a useful ally. But keep in mind, Draco; she is Harry Potter's sister and a half–blood no less. Do not become too close to her. In the end, she won't mean much."

"I understand, Father," Draco said evenly, but he felt something rip through him as he 'agreed' with his father. The older man nodded once in reply, signalling that his son was dismissed.

Narcissa led Jessa to a storage room where old clothes were kept. A storage room still bigger than most rooms at the Dursleys', she noted.

"Do you have any nice clothes with you?" the older woman asked gently.

"No, Mrs. Malfoy. I – I don't have any nice clothes."

"Well, then we'll just have to give you something from in here for the World Cup then, won't we," she surmised, causing Jessa to look up at her, stunned.

"I – Mrs. Malfoy, you really don't have to do that," protested Jessa, causing Narcissa to stop in her search through the hanging clothes and turn to look at her.

"Please – I don't want to be any trouble," she said, continuing quietly.

"You're not. And we won't have you dressing in jeans while the rest of us are all dolled up. Besides, no one else would be wearing these anyways."

"Ar – are you sure?" Jessa asked warily in response to the explanation. When the older woman nodded, she took a step forward and the two began to look for something nicer, something more feminine, for Jessa to wear.

Exhausted, Jessa finally made her way to the hallway where she was staying. But instead of going directly to her room, she went to her friend's.

Noticing the door partially open, she peered inside. "Draco?"

Her friend sat on his bed, dejected, though he quickly schooled his features as his head shot up at the sound of her voice. He gestured for her to come in.

"Your father's not happy I'm here, is he? Nevermind that I'm your friend," she asked quietly, sitting next to him. He glanced at her, before looking down again.

"No. Not particularly, though he's not unhappy either," he began, not wanting to lie to her.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get you in trouble. Maybe it would have been better if I had stayed at the Dursleys' – "

" – NO!" he exclaimed immediately, cutting her off. "How could you possibly think that? I want you here. That is worth any lecture I receive in order to have you here. And – no listen!" he persisted as she went to interrupt again.

"If you had stayed, especially if you had stayed after your brother went to live at the Weasels', you would have been hurt. You're safe here. I won't let anything happen to you. I promise," he swore softly, tilting her chin so that his silver eyes would meet her brown ones.

She smiled shyly, before leaning her head carefully on his shoulder. "Thank you."

As Draco brought his arm around his friend, he realized that as much as he wanted to impress his father, as much as he wanted his father's approval, he wouldn't give up his relationship with Jessa…even for Lucius Malfoy.