Chapter 34 / Connected
‘So, why don’t you tell us about your new girl, Zabini?’ I had been able to melt into the seats, silent and unnoticed. Every now and then, Blaise would throw me a bored look, telling me with his eyes that he’d rather be anywhere but here. But he didn’t move. All he did was sit and laugh and pretend to like these people. And it disgusted me. Why would you hang around with people you didn’t even like? After all I had been through, I no longer had the energy for meaningless friendships, forced interactions or unnecessary conversations. I just wanted to be real, naked and proud, no matter the scars, knowing that my friends would accept me just the way I was. I could never go back to the life these people had, that I had, when I was younger.
‘She’s not my girl, Goyle,’ Blaise rolled his eyes, ‘and she can talk. If you want to know something, ask her.’
Goyle gazed at me and was just about to open his mouth when the door slid open.
‘Move it, Zabini,’ Draco’s voice filled the room as he stepped in, ‘I’m taking the window seat.’
At first, I thought Blaise was going to protest, but after a moment of silence he got up and moved into the seat next to me, letting Draco take his seat at the window. I must have been pulling a weird face, because Pansy gave me a sour look.
‘What are you looking at?’ she sneered. I just smiled and stared out the window, trying to ignore the curious look on Draco’s face. It made me uncomfortable. I wished for maybe the fiftieth time that I hadn’t set foot on the train without finding Luna or Ginny first, but then I thought about the request Dumbledore had made me, and I somehow knew that it was good for me to be here.
‘Have we met before?’ I kept staring out the window when Draco’s voice reached me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him not or barely recognizing me. Off course, it could work to my advantage, because if he figured out who I was, he probably wouldn’t talk to me anymore. And how do you protect someone who doesn’t speak to you?
‘I’m not sure,’ I answered, forcing myself to look him straight in the eye, ‘maybe we’ve crossed path’s in Diagon Alley.’
‘I don’t think so,’ it was like his eyes saw right through me, into my soul, ‘I feel like we’ve spent time together.’
‘I’m pretty sure I would remember spending time with you,’ I grinned, ‘I bet you are difficult to forget;’
In fact, I was sure he was difficult to forget. He had always been handsome, but time had definitely been kind to him. It wasn’t just his looks; it was the way he carried himself. He was so confident, so utterly oblivious to the fact that he wasn’t the most important person on the planet, that it was kind of attractive, in some way.
He kept staring at me, to the point where it got creepy and I could almost see the pieces of the puzzle flying through his head, spinning to try and fit together. I kind of pained me that he didn’t immediately linked me with that chubby, shorthaired girl.
The talks went on and on and still Draco hadn’t taken his eyes off me, which set Pansy off in a rage, which made it hard for me to keep a straight face.
That’s when they started talking about some Gryffindors that I was particularly fond off. Blaise had just told them that I hadn’t been to Hogwarts in two years (Draco still hadn’t pieced it together) and they suddenly felt the need to tell me all about the awful things Harry Potter and his muggleloving friends had done. Sitting there, listening to all the shit they told about the people I cared about most, felt so wrong that I couldn’t stay any longer.
‘I’m sorry,’ I got up so suddenly that my head started spinning, ‘I need to get some air.’
‘You okay?’ Blaise asked. I gestured for him to stay seated.
‘I just need some time alone.’
‘Oh, she’s missing her mommy already,’ Pansy grinned, then looked at Draco to see if he found her comment as funny as she did.
‘My mother is dead,’ I bit back at her, ‘so why don’t you keep your big mouth shut?’
‘I could show you around?’ Draco got up even though I was shaking my head.
‘No need, I -’
‘Don’t worry about it. Come on, it’s getting to crowded in here.’
Blaise pulled a weird face and Pansy started to protest, but Draco was already pushing me out of the carriage.
‘The last one... It has some kind of balcony,’ he pointed in the direction he wanted me to go, ‘we can get some fresh air there. You don’t mind living on the edge, right?’
‘Oh, if only you knew,’ I sighed and started my way down the train. We walked in silence, moving swiftly between the students. I did my best to catch a glimpse of Luna or Ginny, but I couldn’t find them.
‘Riddle, wasn’t it?’ Draco asked, after we finally reached the balcony, ‘never heard of that name. Muggle-born?’
‘Half-blood,’ I proudly said, ‘my grandfather was a muggle. He abandoned my grandmother after he found out she was a witch. My father didn’t take that very well. He dislikes muggles.’
‘Dislike’ was an understatement, but I couldn’t think of another word.
‘What about you?’ Draco asked, ‘do you dislike muggles?’
I stared out of the back of the train, following the trails with my eyes.
‘I don’t,’ I said, after a long silence, ‘just look at the things they do without magic. Their lives are worth just as much as ours. They get to live, to love, they get hurt. We’re all the same, after all. Wizards who dislike muggles are just afraid.’
‘That’s a lot of bull, if you ask me. What do we have to fear?’
‘Wizards have every reason to fear Muggles, who outnumber us at least six thousand to one, and who in many respects have vastly superior technology,’ I said, looking right into his eyes, ‘We went into hiding to avoid persecution by Muggles, and we still have reason to fear them, because if we made ourselves known, Muggles would either fear and hate us or want to weaponize us. Just imagine what North Korea could do with any wizards it caught! Wizards fear Muggles. And then, like many people, they pretend to despise the thing they fear, because that makes them feel better than having to admit that they’re just afraid of something they don’t know.’
‘Us wizards are superior to muggles in every way,’ Draco snapped, ‘you’re talking crap.’
‘Well, I think I'm superior to Blaise, because I’m white and he’s black. That makes him inferior to me. What do you think about that, hu? Because it’s the same with muggles and wizards. It’s racism all the way.’
‘Are you sure we haven’t met before?’
‘Do I remind you of someone?’
‘I don’t know. She’s someone that I used to know. It’s been a long time since I've seen her.’
Just when I though he would open up, his face darkened and his attitude returned.
‘None of your business, Riddle,’ he pushed off from the railing and opened the door, ‘I’m going back in. See you later.’
‘Yeah, later,’ I answered and just like that, he disappeared. But I had seen his eyes and they could never hide his true feelings. At least, not for me. Now I knew that, somehow, someway, we would be connected again. The question was: in wat way?