"Wait for me, Draco!”
Pansy Parkinson’s wails drifted over to Draco Malfoy as he jumped another hedge. But he did not attempt to slow down. He was having far too much fun. And the anticipation of this kind of upcoming freedom spurred him on.
“Well hurry up then, Pansy!” he yelled back, a touch of irritation to his voice.
He could have done this without her. In fact, it would have been much better alone. But she always wanted to do what he was doing. And when she had caught him sneaking out the servant’s door at the back of the Malfoy Manor’s kitchen, of course she had to come too.
His mother and father would kill him if they ever found out what he was doing. He was allowed to go pretty much anywhere he wanted to go - as long as it was within the confines of the Manor’s grounds. And, as big as though it was, Draco got bored. He had no brothers or sisters, and the only friends he had were ones which were ‘approved’ of by his parents.
He could not wait to go to Hogwarts; to be able to choose his own friends. To have the kind of freedom away from his parents that he had only ever dreamed about.
He drew to a halt when he had reached the high wall at the edge of the boundary. The last obstacle.
“You’re not going over, are you?” Pansy asked breathlessly as she finally caught up. Draco grinned at the fear in her voice.
“I sure am!” he laughed and started to climb a big tree that stood tall and sturdy against the wall.
“Ooooh, Draco,” Pansy wailed, as she stood fretfully on the ground looking up at him, “it’s too high! You might fall!”
“Don’t be such a wimp, Pansy!” he bellowed, looking back down at her amusedly. “You stay if you want, but I’m off!”
He had at last reached the top of the wall, and gingerly stepped upon it.
“Okay, wait!” Pansy screeched as she started to climb the tree, “I’ll come, just wait, please!”
Draco sighed, as he lowered himself down and jumped to the ground on the other side.
By the time Pansy had eventually joined him, he was restless with impatience.
“You could have helped!” she whined, as she shakily landed next to him.
Rolling his eyes, Draco strode up along the roadside.
“Where are we going?” Pansy panted behind him, struggling to keep up, “Draco - we’re going to get in soooo much trouble!”
“I don’t care,” he snapped irritably, quickening his pace. He just wanted to get to the destination he had in mind.
He had seen this place through the car window many times - often wondering what it would be like to go to. A place where other children played - children he was not allowed to mix with. Muggles.
Curiosity clawed at Draco, though. This place looked fun, and he longed for fun. Children played on these funny metal contraptions - swinging, climbing, sliding. He envied their joyous faces, and he wanted a piece of it.
He heard the place before he saw it. Laughter, lots of wonderful laughter. He started to run, Pansy following suite, and finally he was there. He stopped in his tracks to take it all in.
The sight before him made his heart race excitedly. So many other children, and they all looked happy.
“What is this place?” Pansy breathed, coming to a halt next to him.
“I dunno,” Draco shrugged, “but it looks fun.”
He started to move closer but felt a hand tugging at his arm.
“Draco! They are Muggles!” Pansy implored looking terrified.
“So what?” he spat, “go tell on me if you must!”
But he knew Pansy would never. He knew she worshipped the ground he walked on too much. Poor pathetic Pansy.
She scurried fearfully close behind him as he approached this strange Muggle hangout.
His eyes roamed over the children. A group of boys, slightly older looking, were spinning lazily around on this round metal plate thing. There were other children queuing up to climb a ladder and waited to slide down the other side.
Draco wanted to join in, but they were all in groups and he felt rather apprehensive about approaching too many of them. He knew he had to be careful around Muggles, that he must not let on about the wizarding world. Too many Muggles talking to him at once may overwhelm him. Not that he would ever admit this to Pansy.
“Okay, Draco,” Pansy whispered fearfully, “we’ve seen it. Now let’s go back before they notice we’ve gone!”
“I’m not going anywhere until I’ve played on something.” Draco stated.
There was only one piece of equipment that was not full of intimidating looking kids; over at the far end of the field, a single girl sat slowly swinging at the end of a row of dangling seats. The rest of the swings sat empty. This, Draco could deal with.
He started heading there at once.
“Oh Draco, please let us just go back,” Pansy implored as she hurried along behind.
But Draco just ignored her. He did not come this far to turn back now.
The girl on the swing looked about their age, although it was hard to tell - her head hung forward making her long dark hair cover most of her face. Draco wondered briefly why she was on her own and not with friends.
He decided to sit a swing away from her - just in case. Pansy, looking disgustedly towards the girl, sat the other side of Draco - the furthest swing away from the Muggle.
He noticed the girl glance briefly up at them, before quickly hiding her face back behind her hair.
“We’ve sat on the swing now, so can we please get going!” Pansy hissed across at him, scowling when she noticed him looking curiously towards the girl.
“Hullo,” Draco called across, completely ignoring Pansy.
The girl jerked her head up, making her hair fall back, revealing her face. Yes, Draco thought, she definitely looked their age.
She looked taken aback at being addressed and at first did not answer, but instead looked over her shoulder as if to see if Draco had been talking to someone else.
“My name’s Draco, and this is Pansy,” Draco persisted.
The girl gave him a funny look, and Draco wondered if she might be foreign and unable to understand English.
“H-hello,” she said eventually, in a small voice, “I-I’m Astrid.”
Draco heard Pansy let out a little snort next to him. As if she was one to talk about silly names.
“Do you live around here?” Draco asked, “I live up the way, and Pansy’s a family friend who’s visiting with her parents.”
“Y-yes, but I’ve never seen you here before, are you new?” Astrid asked, her blue eyes glancing at him nervously.
She looked rather like a scared little deer; Draco observed. He had once come across one when wandering the grounds of his home, and Draco had been amazed by how it had frozen in terror as their eyes met, before it darted furiously away.
“My family have lived in our home for centuries,” Draco could not help but show off, he did not know why, but he felt a desire to impress this Muggle. “And as for not seeing me before, well my parents don’t normally approve of places like... this.”
“They don’t like playgrounds?” Astrid asked, her eyebrows rising ever so slightly.
“It’s more to do with the people,” Pansy spat, looking at Astrid pointedly before jumping off her swing. “Come on, Draco. If we get caught, then our parents might even stop us from going to Hog- I mean school.”
Draco sighed heavily, Pansy was right, though he loathed to admit it.
Slowly, he jumped off the swing, glancing once more at the girl.
“See you around?” he asked.
He was pleased to see a small smile tug at her lips. “Yeah, maybe.”
And, as he walked back to the Manor, alongside Pansy, Draco Malfoy was already planning his next break out adventure to the playground.
And next time he would make sure to go alone.
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