“For the last time, Draco,” Lucius Malfoy bellowed, looking up from the letter he was attempting to write. “We will not go mingle with these - these Mudbloods and Blood Traitors, dressing like Muggles so the Ministry can control the scum that’s owning this pathetic excuse of land.”
“Who’s asking you along?!,” Draco spat, his face flushed in fury. “I was merely informing you that I’ll be going to meet my friends and-”
“You will not!” his father shouted. “If you put only a toe on this filthy camping area I swear to Salazar-”
“I don’t need your permission!” Draco yelled back. “You have lost all authority to give me orders when you tried to kill off my friends with that bloody diary two years ago!”
“I am your father and you will listen to what I say!” Lucius boomed, getting to his feet and glaring down at his son. “Or you will stay at home and there will be no Quidditch World Cup for you!”
“And what will you tell the Minister for Magic when he asks where you left your son?” Draco demanded with a nasty smirk. “Will you tell him you grounded him because he went to see his best friend, who happens to be the Boy Who Lived?! Please do, I’d love to see how that goes down.”
“Don’t you dare talk to me like that, you ungrateful-”
“Oh please,” Draco rolled his eyes. “Spare me the drama. I heard this line about a thousand times and it has lost its intended effect several years ago.”
“I should have sent you to Durmstrang the moment you started spending time with the Potter boy,” his father sneered. “The influence these brats are having on you-”
“Is far superior to yours,” Draco interrupted him, glowering. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to answer my friends and confirm the time and place of our meeting.”
“I mean it, Draco. I won’t take you to the match if you go.”
“Then I’ll ask Weasley if his father has one more ticket to spare,” Draco shrugged, grinning at him. “Choose your poison, Father.”
With that, he whirled around and left the room. His father was spluttering behind him, getting ready to yell some more, but before could get the words out, Draco had already slammed the door shut behind him.
The sudden silence of the corridor was grounding, and Draco took a deep breath, trying to calm his temper. The soft voice of his mother came from the open door of the nearby drawing room and filtered through the anger that was clouding his mind.
“Darling, is it really necessary to shout like that so early in the morning? It scares the elves.”
Draco sighed, rolling his eyes as he slipped into the room, closing the door behind himself. His mother was sitting in her favourite armchair near the window, overlooking the gardens and sipping on her cup of tea. She barely looked up when he crossed the room to take a seat on the largest sofa of the three-piece suit near the door.
“He’s driving me insane!” Draco groaned, running his fingers through his hair in frustration. It had grown out slightly over the summer and he was determined to keep it that way, if only because his father kept turning his nose at it. “How do you stand living with him permanently?! It’s been only two months and I’m ready to throw him out of the window and right into that fountain he loves so much, in the hope that he’ll be speared by the wand of whichever ancestor’s monument is placed in its centre.”
“I manage to live in peace at this house because I know to pick my battles,” Narcissa sniffed, turning her head and raising one eyebrow at her son. “I won’t give your father the satisfaction of discussing every detail with him, and therefore, I keep the fights to a minimum. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”
“Well, he’d have noticed if I’d just run off to meet my friends without telling anyone,” Draco pointed out petulantly. “It’s not like it could have stayed a secret.”
“No, but he would not have realised until it was too late, and he couldn’t have made a scene about it at the stadium, with so many high ranking Ministry officials around,” his mother told him, in that tone of voice that always made Draco feel five years old again. “You still have a lot to learn, my little Dragon.”
“Well, I hate this,” Draco grumbled. “Why do I always have to justify myself when I want to go out and meet my friends?! You’d think he’d have resigned himself to the situation after three years.”
“You can’t change him, Draco,” his mother sighed, eyeing him wearily. “You’ll just have to accept the situation as it is and deal with it until you are off age. I will try to keep him in check as much as I can until then, but you have to work with me here.”
“I know, I know,” Draco sighed, pursing his lips. “But I am going to go and meet my friends before the match. I don’t care what he says.”
“And I’m not going to waste my energy trying to stop you,” she replied, sending him a small smile. “On the contrary. I went out of my way to get hold of a portkey for you. I had the elves bring it up to your room, together with your ticket. It will leave tomorrow at half past seven, before your father will even have come down for breakfast. Now go and let your friends know.”
“Yes, Mother,” Draco chuckled, getting to his feet. On a whim, he crossed the room until he was standing at his mother’s side, leaning down to kiss her cheek.
“What was that for?” she asked, eyes bright with amusement and fondness.
“Nothing, really,” Draco shrugged sheepishly. “Just, thank you for being you. I guess.”
“Is it Harry Potter’s influence that makes you so emotional and ineloquent?” she teased, but her smile was pleased and happy. “Now, off you go.”
“Okay, okay,” Draco laughed, stepping back and leaving the room. He passed one of their house elves on the way out, who squeaked an excited greeting at him - ever since the Dobby incident, the elves had been much warmer towards him - and promised to bring some mince pies up for tea later. Draco smiled at her and made his way back to his room, feeling much more cheerful.
Once he had closed the door behind himself, his eyes fell immediately on the old, tattered handkerchief that had been strategically placed on the coffee table, next to a shiny golden ticket for the top box of the Quidditch World Cup Final 1994. He hummed and crossed the room, picking up Harry’s letter from where he had left it lying on his bed, smiling as he reread it.
I arrived more or less safely at the Burrow. There’s been a situation with Dudley and a candy the twins designed, but thanks to Mr Weasley’s damage control, no one has suffered any lasting damage. And on the bright side, they won’t want me back at their place anytime soon. I will tell you all about it when we see each other tomorrow.
Ron told me to tell you that we’ll arrive early in the morning, so whenever you want to join us is fine. Just tell us the time and place and we’ll come to pick you up.
Looking forward to seeing you!!
Draco walked over to sit at his desk, picking up a quill and a fresh piece of parchment. Aquila landed on his shoulder with a soft hooting sound, nuzzling his cheek affectionately as he scribbled down his response.
my portkey arrives tomorrow at 7:30 AM, so it would be great if you could pick me up at the arrival area then. Mother has already given me my ticket, so I will be able to enter with you.
As for your cousin, I’m thrilled to hear he got tormented the way he deserves. Kudos to Fred and George. I am looking forward to the whole story.
Can’t wait till tomorrow!! Tell Hermione and Weasley I said hello!
He read his words over once before nodding decisively and rolling up the parchment. He sealed it with the family seal and handed it over to Aquila.
“Say Hi to Hedwig and the tiny nuisance for me,” he told him, and the owl made a whistling sound before taking off through the open window. Draco stretched and watched him fly into the horizon, an excited smile on his lips.
“Half past seven from Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire,” a voice announced as Draco arrived the next day, still unbalanced from the rough portkey travel. A bored-looking Ministry official stepped up to him to take the battered handkerchief from his hands. “Welcome, Mr Malfoy,” he said, eyeing him speculatively for a moment before looking back to his colleague, who was standing a few feet away, clipboard in hand. “I did not know the Malfoys reserved a spot?”
“We did not,” Draco said hastily. “I’m just here to meet-”
“Draco!” Hermione called, and Draco whirled around to spot her hurrying ahead towards the portkey arrival area, waving. Harry and Weasley were at her heels.
“Hi!” Draco grinned and stepped away from the grumpy Ministry workers to envelop her in a tight hug.
“It’s so good to see you!” she said as she pulled away, looking him up and down once. “And the Muggle clothes suit you! I don’t know what you were worried about!”
“You think so?” Draco asked, a little self-consciously. “It doesn’t look weird? Did I get the outfit right?”
“You look like you stepped right out of a Muggle fashion magazine,” Harry chuckled, shaking his head. “Sometimes I forget how posh you are.”
“Oh, shut it,” Draco snorted, wrapping Harry up in a tight embrace. “Not everyone wears out the hand-me-downs of their cousins even though they have a shitload of gold in their vaults!”
“Hey, these aren’t Dudleys!” Harry frowned at him as he let go, looking down at himself. And indeed, the shirt he was wearing today hugged his skinny frame comfortably, and the jeans had no holes. “You gave them to me for my birthday, remember?”
“Right, now that you say it,” he grinned. “You don’t know how much of an adventure shopping for these was. Mother will never get used to casual Muggle wear. I had to negotiate for clothes you’d actually want to wear for almost an hour!”
“Well, thank you,” Harry laughed. “It’s nice to have something actually my size. Also, a big thanks for all the food packages over the summer! They saved my life!”
“Don’t mention it,” Draco shrugged. “You should have seen the elves’ reactions when I told them to make something to send to you. They almost fell over each other in enthusiasm.”
“Come on, let’s get back to the tent,” Weasley demanded, scowling into space. “I still want to buy some merchandise before the game starts.”
It was only then that Draco remembered that money and shabby clothes were a touchy subject for Weasley. He exchanged a look with Hermione, but she just shrugged and made a face before changing the subject.
“So, your father did not try to stop you from meeting us?” she asked.
“Of course he did,” Draco snorted. “But I’m not going to let him dictate my life anymore. If I want to go meet my friends, I’ll do it. I’m not a child anymore.”
“You’re not exactly an adult, either, though,” Hermione smiled. “Won’t you get in trouble if you provoke him like that?”
“Who cares,” Draco shrugged. “Sirius left his parental home with sixteen. I would just follow the family tradition, in a way. Speaking of Sirius,” Draco said, turning to Harry. “Did you hear from him lately?”
“I did,” Harry smiled. “He seems to be doing well. His letters keep arriving through tropical birds so I’d say he’s hiding somewhere far, far away.”
“That’s good to hear,” Draco returned, nodding approvingly. “He deserves some holiday.”
“He does,” Harry agreed.
When they arrived at the tent the Weasley family had obtained for the occasion, Arthur Weasley and what appeared to be all or most of his children (Draco had no idea how much they actually were) were sitting around a fire, trying to cook sausages on it.
“Draco!” Arthur Weasley called heartily when he caught sight of him, getting up to shake his hand. “Good to see you, boy!”
“Good to see you, too, Mr Weasley,” Draco replied, trying to keep his smile natural. The Weasleys, despite having taken quite a liking to him after he had saved Ginny from the Dark Lord’s diary back in his second year, always made him slightly nervous. “I hope I’m not intruding?”
“Oh, not at all!” the man waved him off. “You’re always welcome with us! So don’t worry and take a seat. Would you like some breakfast?”
“Thank you, that would be lovely,” he nodded, taking a seat between Harry and Hermione, who had already pierced up a sausage and handed it to him.
“Hi Draco!” the twins cheered in unison. “Had a good summer?”
“It was alright,” Draco shrugged. “Time spent under Father’s roof is never quite enjoyable, but what can you do.”
“Yeah, well,” George said, making a face. When the two redheads on his other side, both of who Draco had not met yet, looked at him enquiringly, he explained: “This is Draco Malfoy, son of Lucius Malfoy.”
“Oh,” said the first one, broad-shouldered and short-haired, grimacing as he reached his hand out to Draco. “That’s tough luck, mate. I’m Charlie.”
“You’re the one working with dragons, right?” Draco asked, shaking his hand enthusiastically.
“I am,” he smiled. “I just came over for the match, as did Bill here.”
“Bill Weasley,” the man next to him shook Draco’s hand, too, and Draco almost faltered in his movement when he took him in properly: he had a somewhat daredevil look to him, with his long hair tied back to a ponytail and clothes made of dragon-leather. Draco was not sure if he was supposed to be appalled or awed. He knew his parents would condemn this kind of look.
“You’re the Curse Breaker, right?” Draco checked. “Weasley - I mean Ron-” the first name rolled stiffly off his tongue, feeling unnatural. “-spoke about you.”
“I see,” Bill nodded. “And yes, that’s me.”
“Good to see you again, Draco,” Percy said importantly from next to Arthur Weasley, moving to shake Draco’s hand as well.
“Hello Percy,” Draco said. “Congrats on your Ministry job. I heard about it at home.” He did not mention that his father had complained about “another Weasley brat” being employed by the Ministry on top of his lungs.
“Thank you, thank you,” he boomed, sitting a little straighter in obvious pride, and Draco remembered why he had never liked that one. He opened his mouth to say something more, but Bill cut him off with a pleading: “Please, Perce, spare us the talk about cauldrons. It has been such a nice five minutes.”
He exchanged a look with Hermione at that, and the way she bit her lip to suppress her laughter told him all he needed to know. His eyes caught Ginny’s for a moment, who was seated between her and Percy, but the youngest Weasley immediately averted her gaze, flushing slightly. Draco politely ignored her moment and turned back towards the other. Ever since the whole Chamber business, she had been almost as shy around Draco as she was around Harry, though Draco did really not understand what he had done to deserve any kind of hero worship. It made him uncomfortable to think about it, so he just tried to pretend he did not notice, for the most part.
“Are your parents coming to the match, too, Draco?” Fred asked, and Draco gratefully turned his attention back to the twins.
“Sadly, yes,” he nodded. “Father would never miss an opportunity like this to show off how influential he is. We’re there on personal invitation of the Minister of Magic.” Draco screwed up his nose to express his thoughts on that matter. “I already apologise for everything he’ll say or do later. He’ll be furious enough when he realises I ignored his orders and went to meet you.”
“Don’t worry about it,” George said, rolling his eyes when Percy jumped up from his seat to shake the hand of a passing Ministry official, acting more important than he probably was. “You can’t choose your family, after all.”
As the afternoon dragged on, the atmosphere on the campsite became noticeably charged with magic and excitement. Salesmen apparated left and right with trays and carts of merchandise, and Draco, Harry, Hermione and Weasley took a stroll down the pathways to see what was on offer. Weasley bought a ton of nicknacks, most of them to show his support for Ireland, but they dove into a pleasant conversation when he purchased a figurine of Viktor Krum, who he seemed to admire just as much as Draco did. Not that this was surprising, of course. Krum was an exceptional talent, and Draco was looking forward to seeing him in the flesh more than anything else today. Which was exactly why the only thing he purchased was a scarf in Bulgarian red and black, with Krum’s name on it. He did end up with a pair of Omnioculars as well, though, which Harry acquired for all of them and gave them as a present.
When they made their way towards the stadium, the sun had started to set and green lanterns were lighting the way through the woods. Harry was as cheerful as Draco had never seen him before, and it made Draco feel just as excited. He made a mental note to take Harry to a Quidditch League match sometime in the future. With how passionate he was about Quidditch, it felt simply wrong knowing that this was the first professional match the boy had ever experienced.
When they finally reached the stadium, even Draco was impressed by the sheer size of it. He listened with one ear as Mr Weasley explained to Harry the construction process, but a bigger part of him was tensing up as he kept his eyes open, looking out for any sign of his parents. Mr Weasley had (quite to Draco’s surprise, he had to admit) procured seats in the top box, just like his own father had, and the thought of the two of them running into each other made Draco feel sick. Their last encounter was still fresh in his mind.
As they reached the secluded VIP area, though, it was all but empty, their only company being Mr Crouch’s house elf, who Harry dove right into a conversation with. He zoomed in every now and then, especially when she told Harry about Dobby demanding payment for his work now, but mostly, he kept glancing over at the entranceway. The box was now slowly starting to fill with Ministry officials of high ranks, most of which Draco had met at one social event or another and exchanged polite greetings with. When the Minister of Magic appeared, he was busy hosting the Bulgarian delegation, but he took a moment to greet both Harry and Draco.
“Always together, aren’t you?” he smiled fondly, the events at the end of the last school year mere weeks ago apparently forgotten. “I saw your parents on the way here, and when you were not with them, I wondered if you weren't out and about somewhere with Harry… Ah, here they are! Lucius!”
Draco froze, and slowly turned to see his parents making their way through the second row, to the empty seats right behind them. His mother was smiling at him, but his father’s expression was stony, and his eyes only grazed over his son’s face for a moment before they jumped straight to Fudge, and his bright business-smile spread over his face.
“Ah, Fudge,” he said, reaching out to shake the Minister’s hand. “How are you? I see you already found my son?”
“Indeed, I did,” Fudge nodded. “Such a pleasant boy you have, Lucius. And keeping such good company, too. I see your influence.”
Draco would have snorted if he had not been raised better than that, but he could see his father’s smile tightening at Fudge’s words, and it made up for the horrible misjudgement the Minister had made.
“Yes, we’re very pleased with him,” his father replied, his voice not showing a trace of annoyance, not that Draco had expected it to. “Did you know he’s top of his year? We have high hopes for his future.”
“I’m not, actually,” Draco correctly immediately, placing his hand on Hermione’s shoulder, who stood next to him like a unicorn caught at wandpoint. “Hermione here reached a higher total in the end-of-term examinations.”
“So modest,” Fudge called in delight, and it took all of his self-control for Draco not to snap at his disregard for his Muggleborn friend. “I can see why you’re so fond of him, Lucius!”
Fond my arse , Draco thought to himself. He just pretends to be whenever it’s convenient for him.
“He is our pride,” his father confirmed, and out of the corner of his eyes, Draco saw Harry’s fingers balling into a fist. “Now, will you please come and sit with us, Draco?”
“Oh, why don’t you let him stay with his friends, Lucius,” his mother inserted herself into the conversation smoothly. “What kind of fourteen-year-old prefers the company of his parents to that of his peers? Mr Fudge,” she continued, stretching out her hand to shake that of the Minister. “It’s been too long.”
Draco could not suppress his smile this time, so he discreetly turned away from the conversation and looked out over the field. Narcissa Malfoy truly was an artist when it came to social interactions. No one could hold a candle to her.
“I hate your father,” Harry muttered under his breath, turning away as well. “He’s such a two-faced git.”
“Of course he is,” Draco breathed. “He can hardly express his displeasure with our friendship and my defiance of his wishes when you’re so obviously in the Minister’s favour. But knowing how much he is raging inside right now is enough satisfaction for me.”
“You’re easy to please, then,” Harry grumbled, his expression dark.
“No, I’m just realistic,” Draco shrugged. “I know that I can’t right all the wrongs in the world, no matter how hard I try. You’ve never been able to accept that.”
“I don’t want to accept it,” Harry pointed out.
“I know,” Draco chuckled, smiling at him. “Your sense for justice is too strong for that. But that’s what makes you the frustrating hero figure you are.”
“Don’t call me that,” Harry hissed, flushing slightly.
“Fine,” Draco snorted, grinning. “I’ll leave that to everyone else, then.”
Harry elbowed him in response, and Draco retaliated in the same manner.
When Ludo Bagman, Head of the Department of Magical Sports and Games, made an appearance only minutes later, he cast a voice amplifying charm on himself and took his place as host and commentator.
“Ladies and gentlemen… welcome!” his voice boomed through the stadium. “Welcome to the final of the four hundred and twenty-second Quidditch World Cup!” Draco exchanged an excited grin with Harry before they joined into the ear-deafening applause. “And now, without further ado, allow me to introduce… the Bulgarian Team Mascots!”
“I wonder what they’ve brought?” Arthur Weasley said, from next to Ron Weasley on Harry’s other side. “Aaah!” he suddenly called, ripping his glasses from his nose and polishing them hastily to get a better sight. “ Veela! ”
“What are Veel-” Harry began to say, but he stopped talking abruptly when a group of what appeared to be hundreds of some of the most beautiful women in existence glided onto the field and started dancing.
“Their semi-magical humanoids,” Draco explained to Harry absentmindedly. “They are said to have very seductive powers that can put wizards into a kind of daze… Harry?”
Draco looked over to his best friend when he registered movement, and saw that Harry, with a strangely empty look in his face, seemed to be attempting to climb up the restrictive wall in front of them. Draco grabbed Harry’s arm immediately, holding him back.
“What in Merlin’s name are you doing?!” he demanded, and his voice seemed to shake Harry from his trance. He turned his head to look at Draco, blinking rapidly. Next to Harry, Weasley had frozen in what looked like an attempt to jump from his seat and onto the field.
“ Honestly ,” Hermione snapped from next to Draco. “Sit down, will you?!”
Draco pulled at Harry’s arm, and finally, he obeyed, albeit he was still highly confused. Next to him, Weasley was picking at his clover-green Ireland hat, appearing puzzled as to why he was wearing this monstrosity (not that Draco could blame him for that). His father took it from his hands with an amused expression.
“You’ll be wanting that,” he said. “once Ireland have had their say.”
“And now,” called Bagman. “kindly put your wands in the air… for the Irish National Team Mascots!”
Next thing Draco knew, a ball of green was circling the pitch, and Draco picked up his Omnioculars, zooming until he was able to make out the little kobold-like creatures that made up the swarm.
“Leprechauns,” he told them as the creatures created a rainbow that spun from one side of the field to the other, and Hermione ‘ohhhh’-ed in understanding. They then soared over the stands and let gold rain from the sky, much to the enthusiasm from the crowd. Draco caught one of the magical coins, examining it in amusement.
“Excellent!” Weasley called, trying to catch as many coins as possible in his hat.
“They’re fake, Weasley,” Draco informed him, making the other boy freeze in his movements. “They’ll disappear after a couple of hours. Unless you plan on scamming anyone with it, I wouldn’t bother.”
Weasley glared at him, as if it was his fault that the gold wasn’t real, and sat back down with a huff.
When the Leprechauns had settled in their places on the pitch, opposite from the Veela, Bagman continued: “And now, ladies and gentlemen, kindly welcome - the Bulgarian National Quidditch Team! I give you - Dimitrov! Ivanova! Zograv!” The players were zooming out onto the field as their names were called, and the crowd cheered. “Levski! Vulchanov! Volkov! Aaaaaaand - Krum!”
The noise picked up in volume, and Draco joined in before picking up his Omnioculars again, watching Krum fly across the pitch. He had seen his pictures, of course, but there was something about seeing him up in the air with his own eyes that made Draco feel almost giddy.
“And now, please greet - the Irish National Quidditch Team!” called Bagman. “Presenting - Connolly! Ryan! Troy! Mullet! Moran! Quigley! Aaaaand - Lynch!”
As the players each sped onto the field, he tried to zoom in on each of them, taking in their faces. Some of the Irish players he had seen in League matches against the Falcons, so his eyes soon returned to Krum, finding him much more fascinating than anyone else on the field.
After the referee had entered the field and released the balls into the air, he opened the match with a loud blast of his whistle, and the players were off at a breathtaking speed. The pace of the match was quicker than anything he had ever seen, even in top matches of the League, and it took all his concentration to keep his eyes on the Quaffle as the Irish Chasers attacked the Bulgarian defence. Soon Troy had scored the first goal (which Harry had missed, having switched his own Omnioculars to slow-motion) and the Leprechauns were celebrating on their side of the pitch, forming a great, glittering shamrock up in the air.
The match continued in that manner for a while, until Ireland was leading by thirty points and the Bulgarian players got frustrated enough to use brute force. Weasley was complaining on top of his lungs at every foul the Bulgarians committed, and Draco shot back a comment or two to heat up the atmosphere, enjoying himself immensely. He had never watched a match with his friends just like this, without having to worry about the position of his own team in the house championship or any kind of pressure behind it at all; just for the fun of the game.
Despite Bulgaria’s best attempts at catching up, Ireland was soon hopelessly in the lead, enough for the enraged Veela’s to attempt influencing the match through seducing the referee, which both Draco and Hermione found highly amusing. The match of real interest, though, at least to Draco, was carried out between the two Seekers. Krum, quite unsurprisingly, was highly superior to Lynch both in skill and strategy, so not only did he outfly Lynch more than once, but he also made Lynch crash right into the ground by means of the Wronski Feint not long into the match, almost taking him out.
When Krum ended up catching the Snitch, though, it was not enough to win Bulgaria the cup. Ireland had already been leading with one hundred and sixty points, and Krum must have realised that his team had no hopes of catching up, ending the match before they received even more of a hammering. The catch was spectacular, too, and enough to crash Lynch into the ground once more in his futile attempt to keep up with him. Even Hermione, who’d never been very adept at Quidditch, seemed impressed by Krum, and if that was no proof of the Seeker’s brilliance, Draco didn’t know what was.
The awarding was carried out by Fudge in the top box, right in front their noses, and Draco had to call on all the dignified behaviour his parents had bred into him to not appear like a complete freakish fanboy (or like Weasley) when the players filed into the box, receiving their honours. He did watch Krum closely, though, despite the fact that his aura was much less impressive on the ground. He was less graceful, somehow, and obviously downcast by their loss, not that Draco could blame him for it. Still, he was in close proximity to the best Seeker in the world, and he wanted to imprint the moment in his memory.
As the Irish Team received the cup, the crowd erupted into cheers, and Draco found himself joining in, swept away by the atmosphere of pure euphoria. It was only when he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to face his father behind him that his smile faltered.
“Say goodbye to your friends ,” he ordered in a tight voice, just loud enough for Draco to catch over the noise. “You are going home with your mother.”
“No,” Draco glared defiantly. “I want to celebrate with them a little longer. I can take a portkey back on my own.”
“You will do as you are told, Draco!” his father snapped, much too forceful for how he usually spoke in public, and it took Draco by surprise. “I will have no discussion over this. Bid them goodbye and leave.”
Draco just stared at him, working up to a tantrum, the Minister of Magic sitting nearby be damned, but then his mother leaned in, catching his eyes.
“Let’s go, Draco,” she said, with an air of finality. “This is not the time for arguments.”
Draco deflated, knowing he had lost this one. When he turned to Harry, the other boy was already watching, a frown on his face.
“I have to leave,” he sighed, pulling him into a hug. “I’ll see you at Hogwarts, okay?”
“See you,” Harry nodded, the way he squeezed him back tightly telling Draco all about how reluctant he was to let him leave. Draco smiled sadly at him as he let go, turning to pull Hermione into a hug, too.
“It’s only a week before term starts,” she reminded him. “You’ll be out of there and back with us in no time.”
“Still too long,” Draco grumbled as he let go, squeezing her shoulder in parting.
He took his time shaking the hand of every Weasley present, only to annoy his father, before meeting his mother at the stairway.
“Why do we have to leave?!” he demanded angrily when they were out of earshot. “The match has barely ended, and he’s sticking around for the celebrations as well, is he not?!”
“I don’t know, Draco,” she frowned. “But your father was very vehement, in a way that has me worried. I think it’s better if we are safe at home tonight.”
Draco halted at that, staring at his mother.
“What do you mean by that?” he asked, confused.
His mother was quiet for a moment, before smiling at Draco and putting a gentle hand on his shoulder.
“It’s probably nothing,” she replied. “But we should not provoke your father anymore tonight. You already did a spectacular job of it earlier today.”
Draco frowned, well aware that she was deflecting, but letting her, silently following her down the stairs and out of the stadium, the euphoria of only minutes ago gone completely.