Losses beyond imagining

Chapter 52

“Yes…” Harry said, taken aback, “I was very curious… This village has such a remarkable history…”

“We’re making history again…” a bold redhead said, throwing another vegetable.

“Would you mind telling me what’s going on?” Harry demanded.

“This gentleman…. This Muggle…” the crowd began to hiss and everyone talked simultaneously. It seemed as if it definitely wasn’t a quiet English village.

“He wants to revisit the witch hunts…!” A clear female voice spoke up. For a second, Harry thought it was her… Jemina Jennings... but when he discovered who the voice belonged to he realized his mistake.

“His daughter dated one of the Hogwarts students… They had a horrible break-up over the summer and since then… he’s been spouting vitriol…” The woman shook her head. “That’s what happens when the Wizard and Muggle world meet…” she said, venom in her own voice as well.

“Isn’t she a Slytherin…?” Hermione whispered in Draco’s ear. He nodded slightly. She was, indeed, and had been a prefect when he first arrived.

“But surely wrecking his store?” Harry wondered, meeting her eyes.

“As the famous Auror, you should be aware of these things…” she replied scathingly. “He began to ban us from his store and we weren’t going to take that!” The teenagers howled at these last words.

“By the authority invested in me…” Harry began, but Elphaba cut him off.

“No one will be arrested if you all disperse right now...” she said commandingly. “Tomorrow the store will be open to everyone once again. Discrimination is not allowed as the owner well knows…” She scowled at the trembling man, still leaning out of his window. “I take it you’ll agree?” she asked him harshly.

He nodded vigorously. Being arrested was the last thing he wanted. “Who will pay for my property damage ‘though?” he lamented.

“There will be a magic fix,” Elphaba smirked, “unless you object to that…?”

About half an hour later, Hermione’s charm work had fixed most of the problem. Harry and Elphaba had interviewed a couple of witnesses and the store owner. They surreptitiously tried to gain information about recent arrivals in the village.

Draco had been standing by outside, stubbornly, with his arms folded. He would not assist in helping this biased Muggle. Unfortunately his posture had cause the vocal Slytherin to spot him.

“Draco?” she said, surprised. “It is Draco Malfoy, isn’t it?”

Shit, Draco thought, as he nodded affirmatively.

“What brings you here?” she wondered. “Why are you with them?”

Hermione, inside the store, moved closer to the broken windows in order to catch every word.

“We’re on vacation,” he said. “The Old-English Walking Route passes through here…”

“Yes, it does. We’re very proud of that… It’s a village with huge historical importance..” she answered, boasting.

“But you…. and Harry Potter?” she said, lowering her voice. “Isn’t he the greatest blood-traitor ever?”

Draco cringed. If anyone was a blood-traitor, it was he, himself…

“He’s hardly my friend,” he replied, gnashing his teeth, “however, my lover happens to be his best friend….”

“Your lover? Last I heard, you and Pansy…?”

Draco laughed out loud. “That’s quite some time ago… I’m with Hermione now. You may have heard of her? Hermione Granger?” He couldn’t make himself say Weasley…

“Granger?!” The woman said, her eyes growing big. “Isn’t she? I thought her parents were Muggles?”

“Yes,” Draco replied, “and very friendly they are too. Just because you’re still stuck in your old ways, doesn’t mean the rest of us are…” With that, he turned his back and walked inside the store. Hermione’s radiant smile on his entrance made the encounter worth it.

After a long and arduous talk to the aging store owner they went on their way. Their hopes of staying under the radar had been smashed. Everywhere they went people either hooted or scowled. Harry’s frown increased with every interaction.

“I’m sorry,” he said, to no-one in particular. “This wasn’t my intention…. I wanted to trace them quietly…”

“Perhaps the uproar will flush them out though,” Draco said. “If they are somewhere near, they’ll surely hear about it…”

“Perhaps…” Harry wasn’t convinced. It was just as likely that they’d flee again after hearing the news of his arrival. He angrily kicked a pebble in his path… only to howl in pain when the small stone didn’t budge one inch... “What the…?!”

Ginny immediately mothered over him, as Hermione examined the stone more closely. She tried to lift it but was far too heavy… “Give me a hand, Draco…” she said.

It didn’t matter what they did, the small shiny pebble kept stuck to the ground. “Like Arthur’s sword…” Elphaba mumbled.

“Rather like it, yes…” Hermione’s eyes lit up. She liked a bit of harmless mystery… “I wonder if we’re the first to notice…”

The words had barely left her mouth when the old lady they’d seen outside of the shop approached them. Her handbag swinging at her side.

“I see you’ve encountered the dark devil stone…” she smiled. “It’s one of the things we’re famous for. Unmovable it is…. A tiny black pebble.. Who knows what spell has been put on it? It’s a mystery as old as the village itself…”

“People must have tripped over it for centuries….” Draco said.

“Not from around ‘ere, they haven’t,” she answered with a glint in her eyes. “It’s always the newcomers…”

“Could…” Harry began tentatively—inviting oneself to tea was horribly rude after all—“could you tell us some more stories about the village and such? We’re on vacation, walking the…”

“Old-English Walking Route?” The grey haired woman was surprised. “Hardly something for you youngsters…” she said raising her eyebrows. “It’s more of a pensioners thing really…”

“We wanted to try something different…” Hermione added lamely, trying her best to sound sincere.

“I’ve got some stew, I suppose…” she mumbled, looking at the company.

Draco cringed ever so slightly. His palate was far too refined for stew…

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