~~Yours in Correspondence~~
Dedicated to anyone who has been affected by books in some way.
1. Eragon, Christopher Paolini
"People have an annoying habit of remembering things they shouldn't." ~Brom
Very few people knew about Draco Malfoy's birthday. And that's how he preferred it. He didn't like getting too many gifts, or having a birthday party, or anything that usually comes once a year on that special day. Oh, sure, he couldn't deny the lavish gifts that his parents gave him every year, but he could do without the hype. It was unreasonable, impractical, and just plain silly, he thought. So he wasn't expecting anything especially exciting that year before his sixth year at Hogwarts. Nothing particularly special.
So when he woke up around ten o'clock on July the 5th, the day he was born sixteen years ago*, to the call of a house elf named Trinkie, he would be surprised to find that it would lead to a rather unusual birthday present.
"Sir, Mistress Narcissa would like to see you in the drawing room, please sir," she said as he ran a hand through his hair and sat at the edge of his bed.
"Yes, yes, thank you, Trinkie," he replied with a yawn. He stood up and stretched, pulled on a white shirt, and headed out of his room towards the grand staircase.
He walked down the stairs, waving good morning to the various portraits that lined the walls, while rubbing his eyes and trying to wake himself up further.
Finally he came into the room to see his mother, already dressed in some ridiculous and far too fancy dress for a weekday, sifting through the owl post that lay on the coffee table.
She looked up when he walked in. "Good morning, Draco dear," she said. "Happy birthday."
"Thanks, mother," he replied as he sat down across from her. This was why he loved Narcissa so much. She always tried to make the best of everything and put her best foot forward; well, at least for him, if not for the rest of the world. She could be tragically depressed for the world. But he knew that it was quite difficult for her to remain so cheerful when his father was in Azkaban at the moment and there was so much scrutiny towards the Malfoy family, so he had done his best to act just as happy for her.
"I'm afraid that your gift from me and your father is not ready yet, dear, so you'll have to wait another day or two for it," she said, as if her husband were just on another business trip and not holed up in a cell in Azkaban.
"That's perfectly fine, mother," he said lazily, leaning back on the couch and putting his hands behind his head.
"You've gotten a gift from the Parkinson girl, again," Narcissa said, holding up a parcel wrapped in green and tied off with silver ribbon.
Draco sighed and closed his eyes. "What is it? Another piece of jewelry trying to proclaim her undying love to me?"
"I haven't opened it yet. I don't understand; why don't you like her? She comes from a perfectly respectable family and she's quite beautiful—"
"She's got a pug nose!" Draco exclaimed.
"Yes, well, that can be easily overlooked—"
"She's also extremely annoying, clingy, snooty, cowardly, and petty," Draco cut her off. "And you haven't heard her sing."
Narcissa laughed. "Fine then, Draco, I'll have to do some match-making. But why don't you open it anyway. I have to admit, I'm curious. And you must be too."
"Not in the least," he replied, leaning back against the sofa.
"Would you mind if I opened it, then?" she asked.
"No, of course not, mother."
She delicately pulled off the paper and the ribbon to reveal a long velvet box. She let out a little giggle. "You were right, Draco, it is jewelry, I think."
He opened his eyes just to roll them. "Of course it is."
She opened the box and couldn't help but smile. "It's a silver chain, dear, made of letters. I think it says…" she paused, though whether to read it or for dramatic effect Draco couldn't be sure. "It says: 'To-my-Drakie-With-Love-from-Pansy'."
Draco sat up again and spluttered. "That's even worse then last year's!" he said incredulously.
"But I do remember you telling me about something that happened towards the end of last term… I believe you screamed at her to send you your gift, not to give it to you on the last day of term to avoid embarrassment on both sides when you, ahem, 'mortified the shit out of her with rejection'."
He laughed at his mother's use of quoted profanity. "Yes, at least she followed those orders."
Just then a tapping came from the large almost-floor-to-ceiling window that stretched across the expanse of one wall. Draco looked up to see an owl perched on the sill with a parcel hanging from his beak.
"What is it, Draco?" his mother asked, who was on the couch facing away from the window.
"It's an owl!"
"That's strange. I thought all of them came already. Go open the window and bring the creature in, won't you, Draco?"
He obliged and walked over to the window. He opened a pane and the owl hopped onto his arm, gently nudging him with its beak repeatedly. He untied the package from the bird's legs and found a small envelope stuck on.
"There's a note on the parcel."
"Bring the bird over here, Draco."
He walked over and set the owl on the coffee table. It was a Barn Owl, with a large white face and a pretty array of gold, brown, and tan feathers.
"What a lovely owl, isn't she?" Narcissa said. "But who's she from?"
Draco pulled the note from under the strings tying the parcel together and unfolded it.
I would prefer not to tell you my name, because it might dissuade you from opening the package. But trust me, it's nothing dangerous. Just a small gift for your birthday. Yes, I do remember. It's sort of hard not to remember when Pansy Parkinson is screeching about it all day. After you open it, I think it would be best to tell your mother it's by a new best-selling wizarding author. But it'll be quite obvious to you what the writer truly is. Please enjoy your gift and send Artemis back as soon as you can. She'll know the way.
He looked up when he had finished reading. "It's from someone from Hogwarts, I think. And I think it's a girl, by the way it's written. But all it's signed by is 'M'. I think it's a book."
Narcissa's eyebrows scrunched towards the middle of her face. "That really is curious Draco. If it's only signed by an initial, how can you be sure that it's not something dangerous?"
"She said that she avoided telling me her name because it would 'dissuade' me from opening the package. Maybe it's someone from school who I don't get along with."
Narcissa was silent for a minute, thinking. "I will have Trinkie open it and we will stand beside her with wands at the ready. Trinkie!" she barked.
The little house elf walked in. "Yes, mistress?"
She pointed a long, pale finger at the parcel. "Open it."
Trinkie walked up to the package and dutifully pulled away the brown paper while Draco and Narcissa stood at either side of her, wands trained at it. Eventually a gold box was lying on the coffee table, tied with silver ribbon.
"Keep going, Trinkie," Narcissa prodded.
"Of course, mistress."
Trinkie pulled off the lid and placed it in the pile of brown paper that was now lying on the other side of the coffee table. Inside the box was a dark blue paperback, with the word Eragon in gold lettering. The picture of a blue dragon took up almost the entire cover, though it was a strange drawing that didn't really look like any dragon he'd ever heard of. Plus, it didn't snort or wag its head like he expected it to; it was eerily still.
"It is a book," Narcissa said. "But just in case… Specialis Revelio!"
"I guess it is safe, Draco," she said, picking up the book. "You may go now," she said and waved off Trinkie. "Back to the kitchen." The little elf bowed and backed out the room. "Christopher Paolini," Narcissa read quietly. "A strange name, don't you think? Sounds muggle-ish. And the picture doesn't even move!" she added suspiciously.
"Oh, I've heard of him," Draco lied easily. "He's a newer author, mother. A half-blood. Brilliant bloke, but likes to do things the muggle way." He partly didn't even want to admit it to himself, but he was really intrigued by this book. And "M", as well. So he lied.
Narcissa grumbled to herself. "I'm a bit hesitant on letting you read this book, Draco," she said. "Half-bloods are a bit iffy, especially those who like muggle things."
"I've heard he is quite the writer," he argued.
"Yes, well, if you are so keen on reading it I guess it's fine. But only for that reason. You'll not be… interacting with too many half-bloods at school, I hope."
"Of course not, mother," Draco reassured her. "Thank you."
Narcissa nodded. "Alright, then, dear, go along and get some breakfast. Trinkie has already prepared one for you. Go on, then, Draco."
"Thank you mother, again," Draco said as he turned to leave the room.
"Happy Birthday, dear!"
Draco made his way across the house towards the large kitchen, where a dozen house elves prepared the meals, and, occasionally, his mother would come to bake pastries and chocolate chip cookies. But she hadn't done that since before fourth year, when the Dark Lord returned.
Stop thinking sentimental thoughts, Draco, he thought to himself. They've never got your anywhere before, have they?
"Mr. Malfoy, sir!" Trinkie cried as he walked in. She was as close to a Head-House-Elf as elves could get in a household.
"Trinkie." He nodded.
"Trinkie haves your breakfast for's you, sir," she said.
"Lovely, Trinkie," he replied, taking a seat at the long counter stretching across the kitchen, almost wall-to-wall.
She hopped onto a stool on the other side of the counter and slid a tray in front of him. "There we goes, sir."
Draco placed Eragon on the counter behind the tray and pulled back the cover, listening closely to the gentle crinkling sound it made as it opened. It was very strange, hearing it from a muggle book. The binding was a lot less sturdy and more flimsy compared to wizard paperbacks.
He skimmed the table of contents, seeing strange words and names. The font was strange. It did not seem to be hand-written or typed with a type-writer, either, and the paper was thin and flimsy, like the cover. On the back he found a strange arrangement of numbers that he supposed was a price, and random black lines of different sizes arranged in a little white box below it.
He had been lucky that he mother had not taken a closer look, for then it would have been obvious that this was indeed a muggle book, and not wizard-bound.
Draco grabbed the pumpkin juice on the tray and sipped from the glass as he flipped through the pages. Then he went back to the prologue, which was titled "Shade of Fear". He began to read:
Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world…
Draco climbed into bed that night with Eragon in his hand. He found himself entranced by the book, and had read it virtually the entire day. He was about half-way through it, stopping only when his mother screamed at him to "put the damn book down and talk to her before she went mad".
He had pulled on green silk pajamas and brushed his teeth a few minutes prior to getting into bed, and he collapsed onto the silk sheets with Eragon's pages stretched out before him.
…A moment later, Brom rolled out of bed with a grumble. He doused his head in cold water from the basin, then left the room. Eragon followed him into the hallway. "Where are you going?" he asked.
"I'll come." At the bar, Eragon discovered the Brom's method of recovery involved imbibing copious amounts of hot tea and ice water and washing it all down with brandy. When they returned to the room, Eragon was able to function somewhat better….
Draco found Paolini's writing style a bit drawn out and complicated, but the story was excellent and kept him reading easily. The language was a bit hard to understand, as well, but he figured most of the words he couldn't understand were muggle terms.
He was pretty that the book did not take place in present day; probably many centuries before this date. Muggles, apparently, had a very poor understanding of dragons, since Paolini only refers to them as one species, instead of the dozens that inhabited the wizarding world.
But that didn't bother Draco as much as it would have. He found that he was enjoying the book very much, and it was past eleven o'clock before he finally put it down. But by then it was finished, and he was pulling out the book mark and setting them on the night table.
"Finished already?" Narcissa said when Draco came down to the parlor the next morning without the book.
"Yes. Spent half the night reading it," he said as he sat down.
"We still have the bird, what was her name?"
"Artemis," he replied, even surprising himself that he still remembered.
"I think it would be nice to send Miss. M a nice thank you note back with Artemis, don't you think?"
"Since when to Malfoys send thank you notes?" he asked, suddenly irate at the thought. Draco Malfoy doesn't send thank you notes.
"Don't use that tone with me, please, Draco," Narcissa said. "Now go get your breakfast and write that note! Artemis will be in the west wing, with Alaric, Uther and Hortensia in the owlery."
"Fine, mother," Draco sulked.
He went to the kitchen where the house elves were bustling around with trays perched on their shoulders or lugging pails of water across the floor. He found his breakfast on the counter once again. "Good morning Mr. Malfoy," Trinkie said to him as she passed by with a basket of rolls. "Is master taking that up to your room sir?"
"Yes, Trinkie," he replied.
"Trinkie will send Zoe up to retrieve the tray, sir, when sir is finished."
"Thank you, Trinkie," he said, taking the tray in both hands and turning out of the kitchen.
When Draco arrived in his room he set the tray down on his writing desk, a large, dark thing that sat imposingly in the corner of his room, across from the bed. He took a bit of the sausage and took out a quill, inkwell, and piece of parchment with the Malfoy seal on it. After a few minutes of thinking and picking off his tray, he began to write.
I have a few questions for you. One; who the hell are you? And why are you sending me muggle books for my birthday? Do you realize how much trouble I could have been in for that? Also, I highly doubt anyone else in Hogwarts remembered what date Pansy Parkinson was screaming at me about, so why have you? Doesn't this seem in anyway stalker-ish to you? But… thank you. It was a good book. Paolini has an interesting imagination.
He didn't really expect her to reply, seeing as the main function of this note was to express thanks and not to ask her a million questions, but he figured he might as well stick them in.
Draco folded it up and tucked it into an envelope, embossed with the Malfoy seal, and headed over to the owlery. The Malfoy family owned three owls; Hortensia was his eagle owl for Hogwarts, and Alaric was a Great Gray owl and the family owl. At times his father would use Hortensia's mate, an owl named Uther, for his work at the ministry and passing on legal documents.
The Malfoy family owlery was nothing compared to the Hogwarts one, in terms of size, but this one was much cleaner and the owl treats were better. On his way in Draco picked up a few of the treats from a bowl that sat in the doorway.
All of the owls were sleeping except for Artemis, who was standing on a pile of straw in a little alcove opposite the window. She was standing, constantly shifting her weight and looking around nervously.
What a beautiful bird, Draco thought to himself as he approached her. She was no match for Hortensia, who was regal and powerful as well as beautiful, but this bird had a simple, pure, child-like beauty that seemed to lighten up the room, strange as it sounded.
"Hullo," he said softly as he approached her. She had seemed friendly enough when she had first arrived at the manor but you could never tell with birds sometimes.
She turned to face him, and her head cocked, just like a human's would. Draco couldn't help but chuckle to himself.
"I've got something for you." He dug into his pocket and brought out the treats, which she made a dash for and was swallowing before Draco ever had a chance to think. He laughed a little again. "Quick, feisty little thing, aren't we?
"This is for you, too," he said, pulling out the envelope from under his cloak. "Deliver it for me, will you?"
The barn owl's head bobbed, as if she were nodding, and Draco smiled. He tied the envelope to the bird's leg and held out his arm for her to jump on.
"There we are," he said, and carrying her to the windowsill. She stepped down, and gave him a friendly peck on the hand. She turned back to the window and took off with the sun at her back, and Draco was plunged into a memory long-since forgotten.
"What do you want, Malfoy?" she spat back at him. They were in the hallway, both of them on their way to Arithmancy, and Draco couldn't help but bother her seeing as her two sidekicks were nowhere in sight. "I'm not in the mood for this right now."
"I just wanted to ask, what did that poor beaver ever to do you that you hate to rip off his teeth for your own?"
"Haha, really witty Malfoy," she replied sardonically. "And if you haven't noticed, they are completely normal now since the Yule Ball, and you know it, considering the look you gave me that night."
"What do you take me for?" he had replied. "A blood-traitor, like Weasley?"
"Shut up, Malfoy!" she screamed over her shoulder.
"What? I'm just stating the facts."
"They aren't facts, you nitwit, their prejudiced lies you tell yourself before you go to bed to make you feel better about yourself!" she retorted.
"Like h—" he began, but stopped, because the pair were now crossing the courtyard and the spring sunlight was coming down like a halo on Granger's hair, which didn't seem so bushy anymore, and all the most exotic browns and golds and reds in the world were dancing on her head in the most enchanting way…
But then it was done, because she had crossed the courtyard and back in the shadows of the school, leaving him standing there wearing the stupidest of looks on his face and feeling like the biggest fool in the world.
And there he was again, standing with a stupid expression on his face and feeling positively ridiculous.
What if the book was from Granger? She had said that she did not include her name because she thought it would scare him off. And who else would send him a book, much less a muggle book for his birthday?
But the girl's initial is M, he thought to himself. And why would Granger want to send me a birthday present? The nicest thing she's ever done to me is ignore me.
So he quickly banished the thought out of his head and made his way back to his room.
Then another strange thing happened that week. M wrote back.
Oh, look, another story! I don't know how fast I'll be updating this one, though, because this alone took me, what, a week to just write, and I had Thanksgiving break to work on it. I decided to write this one after I heard the song "Stories" from Belle's Enchanted Christmas the other day when my family watched it. I just thought it would be a cute idea. Hey, did you know this is the second-longest chapter I've ever written, including my one-shot? It's almost four thousand, I believe. *And yes, I DO in fact know that Draco Malfoy's birthday is JUNE 5th, but to make this work, I've moved it to July.
So, yeah, I hope you guys liked it! Please drop a review; I love to see what you guys have to say!
Oh, and all of the quotes from Eragon DO NOT belong to me, obviously if they are quotes, they belong to Christopher Paolini, and if you haven't read the Inheritance Cycle please do ^_^