Culture Shock II
Dawn leaned back against the next row of bleachers as she watched the Slytherin qudditch team zoom around the pitch. It was a chilly Friday afternoon, but having finally mastered warming charms, she was perfectly comfortable in her newly charmed cloak and sweater.
“Summers,” a voice greeted her.
She glanced up to find Draco had joined her.
“Finished telling them all their failings?” she asked wryly.
“I also tell them when they’re doing well,” Draco pointed out. “It's not enough for them to be the best team going into the Ravenclaw match, I want them to know it. Besides, this was your idea.”
With Hogwarts Quidditch season starting up, nearly all the house teams faced a dilemma- with the repeating seventh years back, they had a surplus of players which had to be balanced with the need to train younger students coming up.
Draco had been tapped by Slytherin’s captain to play Seeker, which everyone agreed was very good form on Harper’s part given that he was also a Seeker. Harper had modestly shrugged off all praise, pointing out that he was looking out for the team’s best interest, and if that meant having a captain playing out of position or possibly not playing some matches at all, so be it.
Then the owl had arrived from Lucius Malfoy, categorically forbidding Draco to play. Instead, he was instructed that a donation of brooms for the team was on its way and to thank the captain for the gesture. It hadn’t only been Draco who was devastated that evening in the common room. Harper had looked gutted.
“But… I don’t understand. Potter’s playing for Gryffindor,” he said weakly. “You’re the better Seeker, and it’s almost definitely going to come down to how we perform in the Gryffindor match. Hufflepuff we’ll beat no problem, and Ravenclaw we’ll be competitive with no matter who’s Seeker, but if Gryffindor blow us out of the water, that’s them with the Quidditch Cup again. They’ve had it for five years now!”
“Quidditch wasn’t played two of those years,” Rachel Bletchley pointed out glumly. She’d been looking forward to showing her brother Miles he wasn’t the only quidditch player in the family, but it wouldn’t be the same if they had no shot at a winning season. “So really, they only won it three times.”
“There’s nothing I can do,” Draco replied. “Father’s laid down the law. I don’t have independent means, and he won’t hesitate to cut off my allowance if I fight him. We’ve had that discussion on subjects way more important than quidditch.”
Dawn, seeing the sour mood, had intervened.
“Ok, so Draco can’t play. That doesn’t mean he can’t coach, right?”
A dozen bemused faces turned to her.
“House teams aren’t coached, Summers,” Vaisey told her. “Only pro teams are.”
Dawn rolled her eyes.
“Hello, aren’t we supposed to be all about finding new and unforeseen means when it comes to achieving our goals? Is it actually against the rules?”
Seeing the looks on the quidditch players’ faces, she nodded.
“Exactly. So Draco will donate the brooms, but he’ll also coach the team. Harper stays captain, of course. They can thrash out the actual rosters for the matches between them, but having someone who’s not involved taking a look at technique and tactics might give Slytherin the edge. And we need any edge we can get to win it for Professor Snape this year, right?”
Harper had regarded her thoughtfully.
“You know you’re a bit scary sometimes, Summers. Good thing you’re in with us. The Gryffs’d be a right terror with you in their ranks.”
So for the past week and a half, Draco had been running quidditch practices, being unrelenting with everyone on the team, Harper included, as he whipped them into shape. He’d also tasked Antony Flint with spying on the other house teams’ practice sessions. Antony’s older brother played for the Falmouth Falcons, so he was very well versed in all things quidditch.
Dawn had come out to watch a few practices, but mostly she’d been hiding out in the Room of Requirement when she wasn’t studying. For all she’d thought she was ok with the idea that Hogwarts students paired off long-term earlier than she was used to, it was still giving her the heebie jeebies, and she was starting to worry that it was making her paranoid in her interactions with her housemates.
Dawn was positive Draco at least had no romantic feelings for her whatsoever, but Hermione had stopped teasing her about Blaise earlier in the week when Ginny had said thoughtfully that she thought there might actually be something to that. Now Dawn wasn’t sure how to behave around him, which was awkward, since aside from Rachel, Gemma, and Pansy the two boys were her best friends in the house.
Draco had spent the entirety of the last practice she’d watched alternately calling players over for critiques and suggestions and explaining to Dawn the ins and outs of both the game, the personalities on the team, the history of who played which position and the ramifications of different lineup options that Slytherin were cunningly keeping open to confuse the opposing teams.
Tonight, though, he had a different plan.
“Out with it, Summers,” he said, sprawling on the bleachers next to her. “Why have you been moping around all week looking like someone slaughtered your pygmy puff?”
“It’s complicated,” she said morosely. “And you’re going to think it’s weird.”
“Summers, this is Slytherin,” Draco replied. “Weird and complicated is kind of our thing.”
Dawn wanted to relent, but even so…
“It’s really not a conversation for the Qudditch pitch,” she said slowly. “I don’t want anyone overhearing. There’s enough gossip in this school as it is.”
“Common room tonight after the younger ones are sent to their dorms?” he suggested. “Zabini could join us. He’s been worried too, you know.”
Dawn chewed her lip. She didn’t want Draco getting the idea Blaise was part of the problem, but she also didn’t want to discuss that part with Blaise actually present…
“Yeah, that’d be better. Ginny’s convinced Blaise fancies me,” she added, knowing perfectly well Draco would take it as simply a change of subject.
“Blaise doesn’t date, so most of Hogwarts is bound to speculate since you’re one of the few witches he spends time with regularly.”
“What do you mean, Blaise doesn’t date?” Dawn asked curiously. “Has he taken a vow of celibacy or something?”
“Blaise celibate? There’s a hilarious thought,” he said. “Nothing like that. You know he’s very Slytherin. Always thinks everything through. He doesn’t date at Hogwarts because he doesn’t want any of the girls getting crazy ideas. His mum’s been married seven times, all rich blokes, all dead. So he’s quite the catch for anyone looking for gold. He also doesn’t want anything getting back to his mother. They’re not exactly on good terms, even if he is her only child.”
“How would anything get back to his mother if he doesn’t tell her?” Dawn demanded.
Draco gave her a look that suggested she’d overlooked something terribly obvious.
“Dawn, you do realize this isn’t like your Los Angeles, right? Wizards may be spread all through the British Isles, but at the end of the day, we might as well all live in a small town. Pretty much everyone knows everyone else. Most students write to their parents regularly, and the parents talk with each other just like the students do. Sooner or later, the widow Keitch would find out from someone that her darling boy is seeing someone.”
“And that would be bad?” Dawn asked.
“Be happy you haven’t met Blaise’s mother. Since he’s quite fond of you, I suspect he’d like to keep it that way as long as possible. But don’t worry, you’ve got enough strategic points in your favor that he can shut her up should things get serious.”
“So he does fancy me?” Dawn said cautiously.
Draco eyed her as if her sanity was in question.
“Of course he does. He’s got eyes, doesn’t he? And unlike most of the males in the school, he gets to spend time with you on the regular, so he's gotten to know the real you. Let me know if I need to talk to him. If you’re not interested, I mean. This doesn’t have to get awkward.”
“And if I were interested?” Dawn asked curiously. “Purely hypothetically, because I’m not sure. It’s just… I hear I’m hardly what pureblood mums are looking for in a potential daughter in law.”
“Is that what this is about?”
“Partly,” Dawn confessed. “I’ll explain it all to both of you this evening.”---
The rest of the evening seemed to fly by, and before she knew it, Dawn found herself ensconced in a chair in front of the common room fireplace, with Draco and Blaise slouched in chairs opposite.
“Out with it, Summers,” Blaise commanded. “All is clearly not well. You have… what was that Muggle saying, Malfoy? A bear up your butt?”
Dawn giggled, startled out of her funk by the unexpected image.
“A bear up my butt? I think you’ll find bugs fit a lot easier than bears, Blaise, not that I particularly fancy either crawling up there. Since when do you two use Muggle sayings?”
“We’re expanding our horizons,” Draco replied loftily.
expanding his horizons,” Blaise countered sardonically. “Since he had no good comeback to Ginevra calling him a pureblooded snob who was talking out of his rear end when it came to Muggles.”
Dawn raised an eyebrow.
“When was this?” she asked curiously. She hadn’t heard of any throwdown between the pair, and she rather thought Gin would have mentioned it.
“Miss Weasley is getting quite bold. She sat at our table the other day while you and Lovegood worked straight though lunch on your Herbology project. Ginevra had the fanciful notion one of you might remember it was time to eat, and her money was on you.”
“Yeah, that didn’t work out,” Dawn admitted with a sigh. “Thank the gods for house elves.”
“Well, in your absence, sparks flew,” Blaise smirked. “It was quite amusing. Since then, Malfoy here has been trying to prove the point that he is not a pureblood snob by researching Muggle culture without attracting Miss Weasley’s notice so as to impress her with the unsuspected depths of his knowledge at some unspecified later date.”
“So actually you’re the one with the bug up your butt, Draco” Dawn grinned.
Draco rolled his eyes.
“Right, that’s my story, Summers, what’s yours?”
“I don’t know if I should tell you guys,” Dawn said slowly. “It’s kind of weird and I’m pretty sure you’re going to laugh at me.”
“No laughter, Summers,” Draco said seriously. “On my honor as a Malfoy.”
“You do realize that oath would be more impressive if Malfoy didn’t literally mean bad faith
“Ok, where do I start? So at our Arithmancy group last week…”
She launched into the story, noticing that Blaise and Draco both paled slightly when she explained, particularly when she got to the matchmaking part, until finally Draco couldn’t contain himself any longer. He jumped up, looking ready to march out of the common room that very instant.
“Merlin, do I need to hex someone in your defense, Summers? Because I will. I don’t care how much trouble I get in, just tell me who’s been behaving like an ass-“
Dawn blinked in surprise, as Blaise shook his head.
“Malfoy, you’re indulging in your favorite form of exercise again,” he drawled.
Draco quieted down, but still looked outraged.
“I think he means jumping to conclusions, Drake,” Dawn said gently, “and maybe just a little, though I appreciate the offer. It’s nice to know you’re looking out for me.”
Draco sat back down, but still looked bothered.
“Well, someone has to,” he said, still somewhat indignant. “You don’t have brothers, and while your sister may be able to rip people’s arms off, if she doesn’t know when she should, it does you no good.”
“An excellent point,” Dawn replied. “As such, I, Dawn Marie Summers, being of sound mind and body, hereby adopt you as my brother, to fill that vital role of recognizing when my honor requires arm rippage and hexing. Maybe one of the house elves can rustle us up some butterbeers to properly toast the occasion.”
“Careful how you word that, Summers,” Blaise warned, noting that Draco seemed quite taken with the idea. “You don’t want to go accidentally entering into binding magical contracts. The results could be messy.”
“Wait, I could really adopt someone just by saying it?”
Draco shook his head.
“Thankfully, it is a little
harder to do than Zabini’s making it sound. You’d need to have your wand out, for a start, and there are usually specific forms to follow. Although what you said sounds like it’s close enough, you’ll notice nothing happened when you said that- no sparks or glowing connections forming between us, no sensation of magic. Also, if you really do mean to adopt me as a brother, you probably should check with your sister first. Since she’s the older one, she’d be your head of family, and the person who properly has the right to make those decisions.”
“Ok,” Dawn said slowly. “Although if adopting you as our brother doesn’t accidentally disinherit you or something, I don’t think Buffy would object.”
“Then you’re both surprisingly open-minded about adopting someone who took the Dark Mark,” Blaise observed.
“People change. I’ve seen more extreme cases. So has Buffy. And I'm pretty sure if Draco was planning something evil, he wouldn't want to be adopted into a Slayer's family. Wait- if adoption is a binding magical contract, what about marriage?”
Draco and Blaise exchanged startled glances before nodding as though this was perfectly obvious.
“It’s right there in the vows, Dawn,” Draco said, sounding faintly surprised. “Though I suppose Muggle vows might not be the same, I’ve never been to a Muggle wedding. But wizarding ones are quite clear. After the vows, the presiding wizard or witch declares the pair bonded for life. It means exactly what it says.”
“Oh,” Dawn replied quietly. “That’s a little different. I guess that means divorce is not a thing?”
Blaise shook his head.
“It’s not like I hear Muggle marriages are. Couples who end up not getting on may opt to live separately and overlook infidelity, but marriages are very rarely dissolved.”
The boys exchanged concerned glances at Dawn’s pensive reaction.
“Since this little tangent doesn’t seem to be helping, why don’t you get back to the original problem, Dawn?” Blaise asked gently.
“The problem’s all in my head,” Dawn declared morosely. “I wasn’t expecting all this, because the culture here didn’t seem that different at first glance. Now it’s making things weird- I don’t know how to behave knowing people may well be sizing me up like that, especially if marriage is expected to be a lot more permanent. Nobody’s actually been an ass, Draco, but seriously, thanks for being ready to hex people for me. Though if someone had been a problem, I think Harry and Ron would probably have been all over that.”
“Doubtful,” he said dismissively. “I suspect Longbottom would be more help. Before you get your hackles up, that’s not a slam on Potter.”
“For once,” Blaise muttered.
“He was raised by Muggles same as you,” Draco continued. “So he’s missed a lot of the finer points of wizarding society and etiquette. In the absence of any adult wizards or witches taking an interest, he relies on Granger to fill him in on most things- you see where this is going?”
“Hermione’s Muggleborn, so she wouldn’t know the culture any more than Harry would. Though she does read an awful lot… but she was as surprised as I was. It’s very strange, I would have thought Ron would have said something-”
“Weasley is clueless,” Blaise said dismissively. “Although I suppose he might notice if there was anything untoward happening, since he should be in the habit of looking out for any of it being directed at Ginevra. But if you’re hoping he’d clue in Granger or Potter, forget it. For all he’s a pureblood raised by a mother who knows quite a bit about good manners, he’s dense as a lead cauldron. He may know the things Potter and Granger missed out on growing up Muggle, but he doesn’t understand that he should tell them. It never enters his head that they don’t know.”
Dawn looked from one to the other. Draco nodded.
“Up until now, Potter’s problems were mostly of the surviving and defeating Voldemort variety. Now that the Dark Lord is no more, Potter needs to expand his sources of information a bit. If he wasn’t seeing Ginevra, he’d have designing mums throwing their daughters at him left, right, and center. The Boy Who Lived would have no idea what was happening or how to deal.”
“Poor Harry,” she said, shaking her head. “I bet that would be rough. Especially since Hermione’s only just realized all this herself.”
Blaise’s eyes gleamed.
“Shame you didn’t have a camera, Summers,” he said. “I’d have paid galleons to see the Gryffindor know-it-all’s face when she realized there was quite a bit she didn’t know.”
Dawn glared, and Blaise hastily elaborated.
“I’m surprised at her not realizing her own value in the marriage market! And her reaction was probably quite amusing.”
Draco rolled his eyes.
“Yes, perhaps once she’s thought that over she might do herself a favor and consider someone a bit more on her level than the Weasel King,” he sniffed.
“Are you volunteering, Ferret Face?” Dawn asked brightly.
The indignant screech from Draco brought a real smile to her face for the first time that evening.
“Summers, here I am offering to duel people for your honor, and you’re trying to set me up with Granger? What kind of sister are you?”
“The little sister,” Dawn replied cheerfully. “Which means I’m duty bound to cause mischief for you. Just ask your new big sister. Who, by the way, wrote to say she can’t come to tomorrow’s match because of a stupid demon infestation in Panama, but will definitely be here for Hufflepuff-Slytherin.”
“I’m not sure what’s going to be more amusing, you making said mischief, or Lucius Malfoy’s reaction when Draco gets around to announcing that he’s adopted himself a Muggleborn sister on a first-name basis with Potter.”
Draco waved that concern off.
“Please. He and mother have been telling me how important it is to fit in and make friends who weren’t on the dark side. They can’t complain when I’m doing exactly what they tell me to.”
“Is chasing Ginevra part of that?” Blaise asked sardonically. “I suppose it would also fall under ‘they can’t complain.’ Technically, she probably meets your mother’s exacting criteria, but I’m fairly certain she’s not what they had in mind.”
“What?” Dawn demanded, almost sliding off her chair in surprise. “Draco, this better not be some stupid trick to try to get one over on Harry-“
“It’s not!” Draco yelped.
Dawn raised an expectant eyebrow.
“I just… Ginevra’s interesting. She’s different than Slytherin girls.”
Dawn glanced at Blaise, who translated.
“She’s not impressed by him, she’s not scared of him, and she doesn’t turn into a simpering fool or a blithering idiot in his presence.”
Draco belatedly added, “And I’m not chasing anyone!”
Dawn smirked. There was blackmail material here to last her the rest of the school year, easily. She was going to get more mileage out of this than the ferret incident, which she’d only heard about from Harry. And for all Blaise’s sarcasm, what he’d said sounded like a friendly warning. Draco’s interest in the only Weasley girl opened more than one can of worms.
“Anyway, Summers, returning to your problem,” Blaise said, rolling his eyes at Draco’s continuing indignant mutters, “I’d say Ginevra has the right of it. Put it out of your mind and go about your business. If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, tell one of us and we’ll settle it. Unless it’s a Gryffindor, in which case, I imagine Professor Weasley would have a quiet word with the offender. Unlike your recent acquisition, he has considerable experience in the older brother department.”
“I am a perfectly capable older brother,” Draco grumped. “Dawn, you should sit with us at the Quidditch match tomorrow. That way you’ll have someone looking out for you to keep the vultures away. We were going to do that anyway.”
“Vultures?” Blaise said, raising an elegant eyebrow. “That’s not a very nice way to refer to your former teammates. But you do have a point. We can’t have Marcus Flint scaring the pants off her. She might change her mind and actually go along with that ridiculous Gryffindork plot to have her re-sorted.”