origamiflowers: (bright flowers)
with a violin and a song to sing ([personal profile] origamiflowers) wrote2009-08-02 08:26 pm

fic: Harry Potter: "Laws of Gravity" (PG, Draco/Cho)

Title: Laws of Gravity
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters/Pairings: Draco Malfoy, Cho Chang (pre-Draco/Cho)
Genre: gen, drama, pre-romance
Rating: PG
Length: ~1000 words
Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me. I am not profiting from this.
Summary: London is just a quick stop for Cho. But an unexpected encounter while staying at the Leaky Cauldron gives her pause.
Notes: First in "The Ungentle Fall" series. For the prompt "black ink" in [livejournal.com profile] rarepair_shorts. Table here.

"Ugh," Cho muttered, looking down at her galoshes. Apparently her charms needed some help, because instead of repelling mud as she'd intended, the boots seemed to attract the stuff instead. There was hardly a hint of baby blue showing through the black muck.

Stopping in London had clearly been a mistake, she reflected, snapping her umbrella closed and shaking it off. She had booked a week at the Leaky Cauldron, fresh from China and on her way to a friend in Wales. Always on her way to somewhere, she was. But the couple she knew in London had cancelled plans on her at the last minute, leaving her with nothing to do and no one to see.

And then there was the rain.

Steadily it had poured down for two days and two nights. Whenever she wanted to leave the tavern and actually do something, anything, even by herself, she was rewarded with looking like a drowned rat.

"Watch that mud, Miss Chang," Tom warned from the bar, wiping down a pint glass with a dishrag.

"Right," sighed Cho. It only took a wave of her wand to Vanish the muck, but that only served to irritate her further; why hadn't her earlier charms worked?

"Drink?" Tom suggested, holding up the glass for her to see.

Newly clean, she sat down on a barstool and flashed him a smile. "No thanks. But you know, I have been craving something sweet all day. Fruity, maybe?" she asked hopefully.

Tom held up one thick finger. "I've got the perfect dish for you, love. Wait for it." He disappeared into the back, the strings of his apron swinging behind him.

"Tom likes you," slurred a voice from her left. "Lucky you."

It was a blond boy clutching at a tumbler of scotch and staring into it intently, as though he were holding on to life itself. Cho squinted; she couldn't see his whole face from this angle, but he looked familiar.

"Have we met before?" she asked politely.

He turned toward her fully, giving her a smile that was full of sharp edges. It was Draco sodding Malfoy, she realized, slightly horrified. There were articles about him and his family in the paper almost weekly now. She hadn't encountered him much at school, but by all accounts she should be glad about that.

"Tom doesn't like me so much," he continued, in the kind of thoughtful voice most drunk people used. "I think my fan club disbanded just before I went on trial."

Cho's lips thinned into a line, and she looked down at the countertop determinedly, her eyes tracing patterns in the wood grain to distract herself. She tried to concentrate on her her failed charmwork, but that brought her right back into the present.

That's right, she thought suddenly, she had read about the trial. It was an unusual move to try someone for crimes committed as a minor, but the Ministry's prosecutors had been giving it the old college try.

Still - she slanted her gaze sideways at him, trying to be subtle about it - he must have gotten off if he was gulping down scotch at the Leaky Cauldron, mustn't he? Supposedly they held those awaiting trial in a dungeon or somesuch, possibly Azkaban itself ...

Cho had never been very good at containing her curiosity. Even now the urge was bubbling up in her to ask him all sorts of questions about the trial, and how it had gone, and why they'd apparently declared him not guilty, and what was going to happen to his parents ... but those things were not nice, she reminded herself. Not nice, another part of her brain said, but very interesting nevertheless.

"So they found you innocent," Cho heard herself say, with a kind of horror.

He waved a finger at her, still holding his scotch. The golden liquid sloshed around in the glass; Cho cringed in anticipation of a spill. "Now, now, 'not guilty' is not innocent, as the jury so kindly reminded me. That's an important distinction to make, Chang. And here I thought you were a Ravenclaw." His eyes were red-rimmed and bloodshot.

She hesitated, unsure how to respond. But her dilemma was resolved when Tom came bustling through the kitchen doors, plate in hand. He set it down in front of her, along with a fork.

"Perfect thing, sweet but tart, right here." Tom beamed at her. "Rhubarb crumble. Lemme know what you think, yeah?"

Cho picked up her fork, grateful for the distraction. As a bonus, it looked delicious: the fruit juices were still bubbling, and Tom had poured a healthy portion of cream over the whole ensemble.

With the first forkful halfway to her mouth, Cho heard a loud thump and startled.

It was Malfoy, falling off his barstool.

"Oh, for heaven's sake." Leaping up, Cho drew her wand and suspended him in midair with a flick of her wrist. "I'll take care of him. Tom, what's his room number?"

"Thirteen," said Tom glumly, reaching for her dish. "Here, I'll send this up to your room."

She smiled at him gratefully. "Thanks. And have a good night." Pointing her wand at the unconscious boy, Cho pulled him up the slender, rickety staircase.

When she reached his room, she had to rummage around in his pockets to find his key. As she pulled it out, something square and white fell out of his pocket at the same time. Cho bent to pick it up.

It was an envelope with a letter inside. Once again her curiosity prompted her to slide it out and unfold it. Her stomach plummeted as she read.

Written in spidery black ink, it read: Your testimony will be required to determine the respective guilts of Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Malfoy. Your testimony is to be given on August 2 in Courthouse Eight, at nine o'clock. Should you refuse to show, the agreement you have made shall become null and void and your verdict shall be overturned.

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