Chapter 1: Sundaes and Sundries
~~~Sweet Dreams are Made of These~~~
The country side rolled by smoothly, but Draco wasn’t watching the outside. He was picking the threads on the seat cushion and surreptitiously watching his older brother from beneath hooded lids. Each time he unraveled the thread, it sewed itself magically back up, and the third time it happened, the thread emitted a mild acid that burned Draco’s fingers. He winced and put his fingertips in his mouth, gently licking them.
Connor paid no attention.
Draco was a bit startled. Usually, Connor was the first one on his case, making sure he behaved. He wasn’t all that sure it was to keep him out of trouble; some part of Connor had to enjoy catching his little brother out. But for him not to harass Draco for messing with the upholstery? That was unusual. Draco tilted his head to better observe his brother through long silver eyelashes.
Connor was staring at the window. Not out the window, at the window. His eyes were unfocused, as if he could see something the rest of the world could not. He seemed so withdrawn, as if his perception was turned inward, searching for something.
Draco forgot to be stealthy, and looked Connor dead in the face. Still, his older brother didn’t flinch, didn’t reprimand Draco. Connor had always been this far-off other person, someone Draco regarded with an uneven mix of awe, respect, jealousy, trepidation, frustration and love. Connor had never been overly affectionate, no Malfoys were, but he’d tried to help Draco out the best he could. Whenever he needed help, with school or with anything else, Connor usually had the time to fix the problem.
Which was not a typical Slytherin trait. Most of the time, Draco thought he should have been in Gryffindor and only was in Slytherin house because of family tradition. He was much more noble than either Draco or his parents, often times making friends outside of the closely knit house. He’d even briefly dated Bella Montrose in Ravenclaw, but it hadn’t worked out. He was fantastically nutty on the Quidditch field, and was a respected beater that even the Weasley twins wouldn’t take on. He’d graciously acceded team captainship to Marcus Flint, they were friends, and had taken on the role of team social coordinator. When Draco had bullied his way onto the team last year, Connor hadn’t said a word. But he had hauled Draco out of bed at five in the morning the very next day, brooms in hand, and ran him through practice drills until Draco’s palms bled. It was that way for weeks, until Connor was certain that Draco wouldn’t be an embarrassment to the team. His father on the other hand…
But sometimes… sometimes Draco understood exactly why Slytherin House called to Connor. It was times like these, when Connor didn’t know anyone was watching, that the craving and ambition leaked through. The glint in his eyes that guaranteed that whatever he wanted, he got. It was the reason that few people crossed him at school, not the Malfoy name. Draco knew that Connor had what he had always wanted: presence. The force of will to get things done.
Without warning, Connor snapped his head around and looked straight into Draco’s eyes. The boy flinched at the look therein, the touch of madness lurking in deep blue.
“Drac, do you remember when we went to Morocco?”
Nodding cautiously, Draco answered, “I was six; you were eleven. The Notts and the Goyles came with us, and we ate loads of mangoes fresh from the trees. Father and Mr. Nott were in town for some sort of convention or something and brought the Goyles along so I’d have someone to play with too, since you had Silas.”
Connor nodded slowly. “I remember the mangoes. We had so many that Gregory got sick and barfed all over the magic carpet we rode back to the compound.”
Draco almost giggled before he remembered that wasn’t a very manly thing to do. “Yeah… it was gross.” Connor was still looking at him with that strange look on his face. “What?”
“Do you remember my nickname from that trip?”
“The Destroyer.” He scowled. “You and Silas came running down the beach where Goyle and I had our sandcastles and stomped all over them. Pillocks. I hated you for that.”
“I know.” The puzzled expression was still there, and Connor spoke slowly, “I don’t remember why we did it, Silas and I, just that it seemed like the right thing to do. Or at least the funny one. Then you and Gregory went running to Mother and Father, crying that we’d ruined everything. Mr. Nott made Silas and I rebuild each castle by hand, no magic, until they were exactly to your specifications. But you wouldn’t let it go. You kept running around calling me the Destroyer and Silas the Stomper all the rest of the trip.”
Draco snorted. “Silas is still called the Stomper. I can’t believe you have to share a dorm with him. He walks like an elephant.”
That elicited a small smile, and Connor murmured, “Well, at least he doesn’t snore like a bloody banshee.”
“Hey! I resent that! I do not snore… much.”
“Sure you don’t.” Connor relaxed again and lightly punched Draco’s arm. “Of course that’s not you I can hear in the common room, sawing wood.”
The blond pouted and crossed his arms, intending to ignore his brother’s teasing. It was a way of life for younger brothers, he decided, to be tormented by older ones. Then again, the flip seemed true as well. At least Connor wasn’t doing that strange stare thing anymore.
“Con? Are you alright?”
“What?” Connor flinched. He didn’t particularly want Draco speculating on his mental health. “I’m just tired, that’s all. I didn’t sleep all that well. Weird dreams, you know.”
“Tell me about it. Last night, Pansy chased me around the Quidditch pitch wearing a wedding dress and trying to curse me with Imperious.” He shuddered. “It was awful.”
“Awful that it was happening at all or awful that it was Pansy?”
Draco choked. “At all! That’s horrible!”
Smirking, Connor leaned back and arched an eyebrow. “I can’t wait to hear what you have to say on the subject in a few years.”
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
Diagon Alley was as noisy and bustling as only it could be the week before Hogwarts was in session. Witches and wizards in all manner of dress dashed this way and that, avoiding each other mostly by luck. Connor and Draco navigated the crowds with ease, slipping through the brief gaps and sticking to the side corridors.
Connor’s awful feeling of disorientation had lessened, and he no longer felt as if he was seeing double or triple images instead of the reality around him. He was relieved that Draco had bought the explanation about the dreams, which was the truth as far as he knew, but he couldn’t help but wonder if whatever it was causing the… disturbance… would come back.
He caught a glimpse of a flock of red heads coming his way and grabbed Draco’s shoulder. Though he was only thirteen, he was obviously going to grow considerably in the next few years, probably topping Connor’s height of almost six feet. Lucius was taller, and although Narcissa was tall for a woman, she was still shorter than her oldest son.
Draco turned his head reluctantly, as he’d already seen the Weasley horde coming. “What, Con?”
“No trouble. You know what Mother said. I am not getting you out of another scrape with them, not if we’re in public and not in school. I don’t care if you want to pound his face into the cobblestones, leave Ron alone. Especially if he’s with Harry.”
Scowling, Draco whirled. “You can’t tell me what to do.”
Connor crossed his arms and gave Draco his best broody sneer. “Yes I can. I’m in charge today, and you know it. Don’t make me tell Father that you’ve screwed up again.”
Draco blanched. Connor must really mean it, if he was willing to tell Father. Both of them scrupulously tried to avoid any unwarranted attention from their Father, and Connor often times took the blame for some of Draco’s screw ups. Not that Draco didn’t try, but whatever he did, it never quite met up to his Father’s expectations. Shoulders slumping in defeat, he acquiesced. “Fine. But I’m hungry.”
Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor was right across the street and Draco pushed his way through the crowd. Connor followed more carefully, waiting until the traffic on the street was lighter. By the time he got there, two sundaes were on the small glass table and Draco was holding a pair of spoons.
“You want the peanut butter and jalapeno or the strawberry and paprika?”
Connor thought for a moment. “Peanut butter. Were they out of chocolate and chili?”
Nodding Draco stuffed a spoonful of his sparkly red sundae in him mouth. “Mmfh. Mnmmfh nh mfphm.”
Connor nodded. “Thought so. Last time we were here, they’d used all the chili in those frozen pops the goblins like so much. The bank had a picnic and they were all out.”
“Yeah. I remember.” Draco scowled in the direction of the window at the front of the shop. “Look at them. All self righteous and smug. Thinking that because they’re Weasleys and Gryffindors that they’re better than everyone else.”
“As opposed to you, who thinks you’re better than everyone else because you’re a Malfoy and in Slytherin.”
“Well, we are, aren’t we?”
“Touché little brother... And yes we rather are.”
The brothers watched the herd of Weasleys pass by, chattering amongst themselves happily, not caring that their robes were tattered in places and their books were second hand. For a moment, Connor wondered whether his life would have been easier if he’d been born into the Weasley clan. But that was ridiculous; you couldn’t change your family on a whim. You were born, you were stuck.
He sighed and dug into his ice cream with relish. They were never allowed such treats at the Manor, and Connor wasn’t about to waste the opportunity. He’d have suggested this anyway, even without the Weasley distraction.
“So, what books do you need this year?”
Draco fished a collection of papers from his pocked and handed them to Connor. The darker haired Malfoy looked them over intently. “Well, when we finish here, we’ll have to start at the Apothecary and move onto Flourish and Blotts. Unless, of course, you’d like to start at Quality Quidditch Supplies?”
Draco’s face lit up and his eyes shone. “Um, Quidditch?”
Barely suppressing a chuckle, Connor turned his attentions to the sundae again. He’d been a bit wary of letting Draco buy his way onto the team last year. He’d not said anything, since Malfoys always stood together, but he’d made damn sure the boy could do the job when the time came. He loved Quidditch himself, so he understood the allure it held for Draco. And since Connor had no interest in ever being Seeker, that position was one safe for Draco to fill. Team captain, however, was harder to give up. Marcus had desperately wanted it, and had been told by his father that to not get it was unacceptable; Connor had stepped aside. He had been a shoe in for Prefect, anyway. No Slytherin in the past decade had been Head Boy, so Prefect had been adequate for his father.
His marks were good and two years as a prefect was nice padding to his résumé. His father mentioned an internship over the summer at some sort of consulting firm in London. The details were vague, but it seemed a good place to start before applying to university.
He worried some about Draco, though. He concentrated more on being a tyrant to those his age or younger as well as that ridiculous feud with Potter. No Malfoy liked the Potter family, or the Weasley family, but the constant harping between the two was doing very detrimental things to Draco’s grades. In all classes except potions that was... Snape was too good a family friend to let Draco suffer much, and he passed that class easily.
Connor couldn’t help but wonder what he’d been like at thirteen. He certainly didn’t remember being that stubborn. But, he wasn’t sure. He sat up straight and blinked. He wasn’t sure, but he wasn’t sure why he wasn’t sure. Surely he’d remember, or at least be sure of why he couldn’t remember. He looked up and saw his brother watching him again with that same look from the coach, the wary look that belied caution and a bit of fear. Connor smoothed the stress from his face.
“You about done, Drac? We’ve got lots to do. If we get home early enough, I’ll run you through a few more of those new drills that Marcus send over before he and Silas show up later. We can kick their asses from here to kingdom come.”
A smile wavered across his little brother’s features. “That’d be brilliant. I’m done anyway.”
They left their empty dishes on the table and strode back out in the hustle of pre-school retail. The first two stops went well. Draco got a new broom cleaning kit and Connor got a packet of replacement twigs for his back up broom. No point in letting it get too out of commission, he never knew when he’d need to use it. They picked up what they needed at the Apothecary and turned into the bookstore. Lost in thought, neither brother saw Harry and Ron before they literally bumped into each other.
“Oh, look! It’s twice the Malfoy slime.” Ron spat the words out puffing out his chest and leaning closer.
“And it’s half a Weasley git.” Connor leaned against the bookcase negligently. “What do you want?”
Harry laid his hand on Ron’s shoulder. “Ron, not here.”
“Oh, yes, not here. Not where you can get your butt whooped in public,” sneered Draco right back.
“Stop it.” Connor inserted his larger frame between the two snarling boys and pushed his brother back. “He’s not worth it, Drac, and we have stuff to do. Save it for a week and take this up at school.”
Reluctantly, the blond stepped back and sniffed. Ron turned a brighter shade of red, but let Harry pull him away. Before they could walk away completely, a most unfortunate sight met their eyes. A few rows down, the bug eyed profile of their school Divination Professor turned their way and Sybil Trelawney caught sight of them.
“Boys, what are you doing! Fighting like this will only endanger your auras. You never know what could happen with your futures!”
Under his breath, Ron muttered, “Oh, wonderful. We’ve heard about you. We’re all going to die. Give it a bleedin’ rest!”
She floated toward them, hand outstretched and all her attention focused on Harry. “Oh, I see grim things in your future… bothered by the fates, you are.” Harry looked a bit shaken but brushed it off.
Connor pulled on Draco’s arm, trying to ease him away from the loony woman, but he didn’t move fast enough. Trelawney turned her creepy, over emphasized eyes his way and he froze. Her eyes widened and she yanked her hand back as if scalded.
Tremulously, she hissed out, “You do not belong!” With one last hiss, she slumped to the floor in a dead faint.