Numb Without You (Draco Malfoy)

11

I’m not a very sentimental person. I don’t really have much of a reason to be, I guess. My mother left when I was very young. I couldn’t really fault her for doing so because my father was so horrible. However, I was still very angry at her for so many years for leaving me with him all on my own. Why couldn’t she have taken me with her when she bolted in the night? Either way, it didn’t leave me with many positive memories, or items, that I wanted to keep from my past.

Still, there was something about that trinket box. It was hand carved out of wood that was destined to become wands for eager witches and wizards. The top of it had the phases of the moon and a dragon that circled them. The box was magical in its own right, and very valuable despite its innocuous appearance. It was the only thing I wanted from my old apartment, and now it had found its home on my new vanity and I quickly forgot about it.

Things had calmed down again. There had been no further break-in attempts anywhere, and my arm stopped burning as intensely, though the mark never faded away. Draco and I were re-branded, and there was no escaping that fact. I had suddenly remembered the importance of investing in long sleeve shirts. Hermione had advised us to keep the marks covered as to not raise concern within the community while they investigated the Gringotts break-in further.

It was really early in the morning, far earlier than I ever intended of getting up. I awoke with a start to the smell of burning. I opened my eyes and saw that my room was beginning to fill with smoke. “Help!” I screamed as I jumped out of my bed and grabbed my wand. “What’s happening?” I began to panic and my mind began to swell. I looked around desperately for the source, and found it there on my vanity. My trinket box had burst into flames.

“Aguamenti!” I shouted as a jet of water burst from the tip of my wand and put out the flame. The door burst open at the same moment and Theo came stumbling in wearing an unbuttoned shirt, his boxers, and one sock because he hadn’t had time to finish getting dressed. So much for a proper rescue squad.

“What the hell is going on in here?” Theo coughed as he waved his arms around to dissipate the smoke. “Why is the room full of smoke?”

“That bloody box was on fire.” I said as I rubbed my eyes. They were irritated from all the smoke and flames. I blinked a few times to readjust my vision and pushed my hair out of my face in frustration.

“This?” Theo pointed in disbelief as he pointed at the box that looked untouched. He picked it up and shook it wildly. “It’s made of wood. There’s no way it would have made it through being on fire looking like this.”

“Do that again.” I frowned at him.

“Do what?” He asked as he examined the damage surrounding where the box had been. The once pristine, white vanity was now black.

“Shake it.” I nodded encouragingly. “And be quiet while you do it this time.” He shook the box again and it jingled like it was full of something. It hadn’t made that sound before. I was even more confused than ever as I snatched it out of his hands to take a look for myself.

“It’s enchanted.” I told Theo as I flipped the box over in my hands. “The box was likely protecting itself. But does that mean something was trying to get out of it?” I let my fingers trace the edges of the box until I found the ridge to open it. Inside was an ornate silver necklace. I reached in to touch it and pulled my hand back immediately. The necklace was still searing hot.

“Careful.” Theo warned me, “It could be cursed.”

“Yeah, I would say that’s obvious.” I rolled my eyes. “It just tried to set my entire room on fire. You can leave now, I need to get dressed.”

“Going somewhere?” Theo raised a brow. “Take that bloody box with you. I don’t want it burning my flat down whilst you’re away.” I glowered at him and shoved him out into the hallway so I could change.

I kept things simple with black jeans and a matching knit sweater. I grabbed my long coat and put the trinket box securely in one of the inner pockets. To save myself some time, I disapparated from my room.

With a loud popping sound I now found myself standing right outside of St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. I sighed and walked in the front door and straight to the front desk.

“Rory?” The girl at reception looked at me in disbelief. “Never in my life did I think I would ever see you step foot in here again unless they were wheeling you in here to stay.”

I laughed and leaned on the counter to look down at my old friend, “Imani! I’ve missed you.”

“What are you doing here?” She asked as she eyed me suspiciously, “I know you didn’t come for a quick chat. You didn’t even bring me any of that muggle coffee you love so much.”

I looked around warily before getting in close. I lowered my voice so only she could hear, “I need you to let me inside because I need to go find Malfoy. I know he’s here working a shift today. You know I wouldn’t ask you if it weren’t important.”

Imani frowned and crossed her arms over her chest, “Rory, I am a stickler for the rules. You don’t have a visitor’s appointment. I can’t just let you inside the hospital to run around by yourself.” We both stared at each other for a minute before bursting out into fits of laughter. “Oh, I could barely say that with a straight face.” She said as she caught her breath. Imani picked up her wand and waved it at the door, unlocking it.

I watched as the doors opened and started moving towards them, “Thanks, Imani. I owe you one.” I smiled appreciatively, “I’ll try and be quick.”

“Don’t let Healer Sharpe catch you! And if he does, I’ll tell him you confunded me.” She called after me, “Your boyfriend should be in the Janus Thickney Ward!”

I didn’t have time to argue with her, and I knew she was just calling Malfoy that for a laugh so I decided to let it go. I had more important things to worry about like the little box that could erupt into flames at any second in my pocket. I walked quietly up the staircase trying not to have any of the portraits notice me. I hated when they tried to diagnose things. One once told me he wanted to examine me because I must have a rare case of Magna Oculosis because my eyes looked too large for my head.

I climbed each flight of stairs reading the label on each door as I looked for Janus Thickney in bold letters. Eventually, on the fourth floor, I found it. I quietly opened the door and snuck inside, doing my best not to disturb any of the patients. It was the long-term residents’ ward, so most of them lived here full time. It was always one of the worst shifts to get when you were assigned this floor. It was just too sad.

I didn’t see Draco right away, but I could hear him talking frustratedly to a patient. “No, I don’t want another signed headshot. You don’t even know what your name is! You just scribble over your face and think that suffices!”

I laughed, drawing attention to myself. Draco’s cool, grey eyes narrowed at me in frustration. He jutted his thumb out at Lockhart, “The man blew up his own bloody memory, but he can’t seem to forget how much he loves himself.”

“You can’t obliviate narcissism away. You can only obliviate the memories of why they were so narcissistic in the first place.” I mused.

“Why are you here?” Draco snapped angrily, “Is it part of your special ministry assignment to mock me when I’m having a bad day at work?”

“I wish.” I snorted playfully before forcing myself to get serious. I palmed the trinket box in my pocket. It was still warm to the touch. “I’m afraid we have a problem.” I held out the box to show him.

“Right. The problem is that you didn’t throw that stupid thing out when you had the chance.” Draco nodded as he looked at it with disdain. “The garbage bin is over there.” He pointed towards the wall. “Now that that’s settled, I’ve got things to do.”

“Malfoy, listen.” I grabbed his arm and dug my nails into it which forced him to turn and look at me, “This stupid box nearly burned down the apartment today.”

“It looks fine to me.” Draco sneered, mostly at the box itself, though I could tell he wasn’t too pleased with me today, “Aurora, please. I don’t have time for this.”

“Let me finish.” I hissed and removed my hand from his arm to open the box, revealing the silver necklace inside. “This wasn’t in there before, and now it is.”

He looked annoyed with me, but placated me nonetheless. Draco’s eyes widened as he peered inside, “What the bloody hell are you doing with my aunt’s necklace?”

“That’s your aunt Bellatrix’s necklace?” I wrinkled my brow in confusion. “I thought I recognized it. Why is that in my trinket box?”

“You mean the very same box that Camille had lying about on her coffee table?” Draco tilted his head to the side and clicked his tongue sarcastically, “I dunno, Dolohov, let’s think about that one.”

“But it’s mine. What good would it do her?” I frowned.

“Did she know it was enchanted?” He asked.

“Well, yeah, but-”

“She probably thought she was being smart.” Draco smirked. “But even I know that’s a stretch. That girl is so dim-witted it’s hard to even make jokes about it.”

“She’s a lot more cunning that you would think.” I disagreed, “That’s the problem. She just didn’t know that only I can open the box.”

“That still makes her sound stupid to me.” Draco shrugged, “Are you going to tell your little pal Granger about this?”

I glared at him, “No. I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell her I broke into someone’s apartment. Certainly not with you. I’m supposed to be rehabilitating you and breaking and entering is definitely the opposite of that.”

“It’s your bloody apartment. Or at least it was.” Draco rolled his eyes, “I don’t think you can count that as breaking in.”

“Still, I don’t want to worry her prematurely.” I argued. “When there’s something to tell her, I will.”

“Because a box containing my treasonous aunt’s stolen necklace catching on fire in our flat isn’t means to worry.” Draco’s words were sharp. “That Makes total sense. Or on second thought, let’s take you down to the head trauma ward. We might want a second opinion.”

“I’m sorry for yelling, Mr Sharpe! I thought you were hard of hearing!” Imani’s voice came from the hall, “Why am I not stopping? I dunno, sir! Once I start yelling I can’t really stop! It’s a terrible habit! I’m opening the door now!”

Thinking quickly, I hid in one of the unoccupied patient beds and put the covers over my head. Healer Sharpe was the worst. He was strict, arrogant, and he hated everyone, but no one more so than me. If he caught me trespassing he would make it his life’s mission to get me sent back to Azkaban.

“You there.” I heard Sharpe’s gruff voice. “You see anything weird in here?”

“No sir.” Draco’s voice came off stiff. I could tell he hated Sharpe just as much as I did.

“I want no funny business from you, boy. You’re already on thin ice with me.” Sharpe scowled.

“I told you, Mr Sharpe.” Imani said, “Aurora came by the front desk to bring me coffee and then she left. I drank the coffee and threw out the cup. She didn’t stay.”

“I don’t like any of these Death Eaters traipsing around my hospital, Miss Okoro. Even the ones who have jobs here.” I could feel the wrath of Sharpe’s harsh gaze without even seeing him. He turned on his heel and left the room in a huff. The next thing I knew the blanket was being thrown off my body and Imani was staring at me.

“You two owe me one, big time!” She hissed, “He nearly caught you. The portraits were talking about you non-stop.”

“Of course they were.” I groaned, “Bloody gossips the whole lot of them.” I stood up and adjusted my clothes. “Thanks, Imani.”

“Who are you?” Malfoy asked as he eyed her.

“Is he joking?” Imani asked me, completely ignoring Draco. “Please tell me he’s joking.”

I rolled my eyes, “Unfortunately he’s not.”

Imani turned to look at him with disdain, “I’m Imani... Okoro... We went to school together for years.” Draco stared at her blankly with every word she said. “I was in Ravenclaw.” She tried to jog his memory but he still wasn’t having any sort of recollection, “We had arithmancy together for four years in a row! How do you not remember that?”

“I don’t know any Ravenclaws.” Draco frowned and looked at me for help. I think he expected me to agree with him, “Why would I know any Ravenclaws?”

“I’m also the woman who fills out your time card to say you’ve worked a full shift even when you leave early.” She snapped, “Does that ring a bell?”

“Oh, right. You’re at the front desk. Right.” Draco nodded, “Thanks.”

Imani looked at me in shock and I shrugged, “I wasn’t much better when I started here. You’ll get him trained eventually.”

“That’s your job, sponsor.” Imani put extra emphasis on that last word to mock me, “I do enough around here. Or at least I make it look like I do. I’ve got to get back to the front desk.” She turned to leave. Sometimes I thought she would have made a better Slytherin than a Ravenclaw, but the sorting hat makes no mistakes.

“Wait, Imani!” I called out to stop her. She turned and looked at me expectantly. “I need one more tiny favor.”

“What is it?” She groaned, but her face hinted at a smirk. I knew I could always count on her, especially if it meant bending a few rules.

“Can you lie on Draco’s time card one more time? There’s someone we need to go see. It’s pretty urgent.”

“Only if you actually bring me one of those muggle coffees tomorrow.” She grinned before leaving, “I start my shift at six in the morning!”

“Where do we need to go?” Draco asked me as I took his hand to disapparate.

“Malfoy Manor.”

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