Numb Without You (Draco Malfoy)

02

Just how long is one year exactly? It is one full rotation of the Earth as it revolves around the blistering Sun. It is 33 complete lunar cycles. It is 12 months, which accounts for roughly 52 weeks. It is 365 days, unless it is considered a leap year, and that only happens once every four years. Unfortunately for me, it was in fact a leap year, and this meant there was an entire extra day I would have to spend with Draco Malfoy.

I wanted to steal a time-turner device from the Department of Mysteries to go back in time and curse Pope Gregory XIII before he could create the Gregorian Calendar, just so I could have one less day to spend with Draco. Admittedly, I was really only deterred from this plan by just how many times I would have to spin that bloody little device to get back to the 1500s.

I laid in my bed early in the morning just staring at the the ceiling fan above my head. I flicked my wand ever so slightly over and over to spin the blades at a crawling pace. I wanted to use my wand to do everything. I couldn’t believe I actually got it back.

Aidan groaned and turned over, pulling the covers away from me to cover his bare torso and exposing my own in the process. “Will you stop that?” He said into his pillow, “It’s getting cold in here.”

“I like the cold.” I said quietly as I continued to spin the fan. Aidan’s soft snoring filled the room again. I turned to look at him. His mouth hung open slightly and his chest rose and fell at a fairly regular pace. His hair that he normally wore pushed back had fallen into his face and almost covered his eyes. He desperately needed a haircut. I knew if I told him to get one he would agree, but then neglect to do anything about it.

Aidan and I had a complicated relationship to say the least. We hooked up a few times as teenagers, as teenagers are known to do, but we weren’t anything more than friends with benefits. He wasn’t my great childhood love or anything like that. Not even close. After the war, and after Azkaban, we reunited and ended up getting together mainly out of convenience. It saved us from the rigmarole of dating that could be an exhaustive process.

Moreover, Aidan and I had a sort of understanding that many others didn’t. We were kindred spirits in a way. My father, Antonin Dolohov, was one of Voldemort’s most loyal servants, and Aidan’s mother was just as terrifying as the late Bellatrix Lestrange.

Over time, our mutual attraction to one another grew into affection and I developed genuine feelings for him. I am not sure the same could be said for Aidan though. I don’t think he really cares about anyone other than himself. I thought about all of this while I watched him sleep peacefully.

I got out of bed quietly as I tried not to disturb him. Aidan was too light of a sleeper though. He sat up and watched me get dressed with a wry smirk on his face. “You know that view never gets old.” He said as I clasped my bra.

“One day it will. Literally.” I shrugged. “You can’t stay 21 forever.”

“You’ll look good even when you’re 110.” Aidan said, “you’re Aurora Dolohov.” I cringed at the sound of my full name. It’s not who I was anymore. “Are you off to meet Hermione?” He asked. I hadn’t fully explained what my assignment was to Aidan or Camille. I just told them it was an additional part of my community service. Aidan and Draco hated each other back in our school days despite us all being in the same house. I didn’t want to upset him more than I had to.

I nodded as I finished getting dressed, “Yeah. We are getting coffee bright and early this morning.”

“Turn the light off when you leave, will you?” Aidan yawned and turned back over. I sighed and gave him a quick kiss on the head as was part of my usual routine and shut the light off on my way out the door.

I was startled to see Camille in the kitchen when I walked out of my bedroom. “What are you doing up early?” I asked her.

“On the contrary,” she drawled, “I am up late. I haven’t gone to bed yet. You are up early. Which begs the question... why are you up so early, Rory?”

“I have to go meet Hermione.” I told her, “to talk more about the second half of my community service.”

Camille rolled her eyes, “See. This is why I don’t bother with any of that bullshit. The ministry is still fucking around with us. They don’t respect us. If the Dark Lord had succeeded we would have been Gods, Aurora. Fucking GODS!”

“Voldemort is dead.” I glared at her, “it’s time to move on, Camille. The rest of the wizarding world has. ” She grumbled something incoherent and stormed off to her room. She reeked of alcohol and I know she had just gotten back from a long night of partying. It didn’t take her strong scent to know that though. She always rambled about the ‘good old days’ when she was drunk or high.

I grabbed an apple on my way out the door and left my flat. As soon as I stepped out onto the street of Diagon Alley I was bombarded by a tall man with fiery red hair. “Morning, Rory!” George Weasley grinned at me. He was just opening his store as I passed by the door.

“It’s far too early in the morning to be this chipper, Weasley.” I scowled at him.

“Once a Slytherin, always a Slytherin as they say.” George said completely unbothered by my attitude.

“And who are they?” I asked, “the ones who say this?”

“It’s the royal we, as in as a collective.” George smirked. “Pretty much everyone.” He paused, “but anyway, since you’re here... care to be the first of the day to play a quick game?” He motioned to the table he was setting up full of different Weasley products. They always had something going on outside the store to attract more customers. It definitely worked because they were always packed to capacity.

I laughed, “Definitely not. You constantly trick Aidan into eating your sweets and he never learns.”

“Yeah.” George smiled at the memory, “Your boyfriend isn’t very bright. So are you off to meet Malfoy?”

“Did Hermione tell you?” I frowned at the thought that I would soon be in the same vicinity as Draco Malfoy once again.

“Hermione told Ron, and Ron told me.” George explained, “Never trust my brother to keep a secret.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” I looked at him warily, “I’ve got to get going, but I will see you again soon, I suppose.”

“I am always right next door.” George grinned and waved goodbye.

I kept on walking down the street twisting the stem on my apple that I still held in my hand. I was too nervous to eat it and regretted picking it up as soon as I left my apartment building. It was still so early in the morning that I was the only one walking the streets. It felt so lifeless that it would be a surprise to me when in just a few short hours these streets would be bustling with people.

The stem broke off my apple as soon as I reached the doorway to the leaky cauldron. I had twisted it so many times that it had lost all its integrity. I knew the feeling. I felt the same way inside most of the time too. I took a deep breath and walked inside to accept my new job with what little dignity I had left.

“Rory!” Hermione waved at me the moment the door closed behind me. I sighed with relief to see that she was alone. I sat down across from her and set the apple down on the table so I could pick up the mug of coffee that was waiting for me. “I took the liberty of ordering for you. I hope you don’t mind.” Hermione said softly. I shook my head no and let the hot liquid coat the back of my throat as I drank it.

“So...” I said as I set my coffee down, “when does the little prick get here?”

“It should be any minute now.” Hermione looked at her muggle watch and frowned, “I asked him to get here early, so he and I could go over some things we need to discuss.”

“Leave it to Malfoy to be fashionably late.” I rolled my eyes. “We’re off to a really good start here.”

“Now look, Rory.” Hermione said sternly, “I know you’re not happy about this arrangement, but it will go much smoother if you at least try to get along. You’ll be in for an awful year otherwise.”

“It’s going to be an awful year regardless.” I said flippantly, “I just know he will make this hard on me on purpose. It’s what he does.”

“I know, I know, but-”

“I see you remembered my breakfast order, Aurora.” A familiar voice rang in my ear as a pale hand reached across the table and took the apple I had been absentmindedly playing with out of my hand. I looked up to see Draco Malfoy towering over me as he sank his teeth into my apple.

I blinked slowly as I took him in. He was still so beautiful, in a fallen angel sort of way. His devilish smirk remained unchanged, although his eyes were still wary from the burdens of the war. His stark white blond hair looked almost golden in the dim yellow light of the Leaky Cauldron.

Draco took another bite and tilted his head to the side, “You know, I prefer Granny Smith apples, but I suppose Golden Delicious is a fine alternative.”

My eyes narrowed as his words brought me back to reality, “I didn’t bring that for you. That was my breakfast you git.”

“Draco, sit down.” Hermione said politely as she motioned to the chair on her right. Draco looked at it disdainfully and then chose to sit in the one right next to me. He was sitting so close that our shoulders touched, and as soon as it did a shot of pain went through my forearm and my dark mark began to hurt again. I shifted my chair away so there was some much needed distance between us and my arm began to feel normal. I took a deep breath to steady myself and looked at Hermione expectantly. I was trying hard to ignore the grey eyes that were boring into the side of my face as Draco stared at me intently.

Hermione cleared her throat and got down to business causing Draco to drop his gaze and focus on her. “Now, we all know why we are here today. Draco Malfoy has willingly agreed to join our program, so long as Aurora Dolohov be is sponsor.”

“What do you mean by that?” I frowned, “You told me this was part of my community service. Not that Malfoy requested it.”

Hermione blushed, “I may have left some things out when I told you about it the other day.”

I stood up suddenly and the chair nearly toppled over, but Draco swiftly caught it. I felt duped and I wouldn’t tolerate that. “This is ridiculous. I’m leaving.” I stormed off towards the door.

“What a surprise!” Draco called out to me. He still had that stupid smirk on his face, taunting me to no end, “Aurora Dolohov is running away just like she has for her entire life.”

I turned on my heel and whipped my wand out to point directly at him. Hermione jumped to her feet and grabbed my arm to put it down. “Rory, no. Please. You’ve come so far.”

I looked at her angrily, “I can’t do this if there’s no transparency, Hermione. Why does Malfoy get to request me as his sponsor? I didn’t get a choice. Why does he?”

Hermione bit her lip and frowned, “It’s complicated. We really needed Draco in our program. He didn’t have to do community service at all per the deal his family made with the Ministry after the war, but we made a quid pro quo deal with Draco himself. Having a Malfoy go through our system gives us a credibility that we haven’t had before. It might convince others to go through with it too.”

I scoffed, “I guess the name Dolohov isn’t credible enough for you?”

Hermione sighed, “It’s not me. It’s the Ministry. Will you come back to the table now. Please?” I looked between Hermione’s pleading eyes and the table where Draco sat watching us with great intrigue.

I looked back at Hermione and sighed, “I’m still getting paid for this, right?”

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