A Heavy Load
by Seagull Laridae

A/N: Another METMA challenge that I hope I am not too late for... heck on toast... so, it’s back to school shopping time for the HP gang! Well, in this case, it ain’t gonna be “the” gang. No, this time I’m going to play with some Slytherins!

Disclaimer: HP characters belong to Mrs. J.K. “I’m-not-releasing-Order-of-the-Phoenix-till-next-year” Rowling. The plot requirements belong to Mandy.

Dedicated to Mandy, like always. Gred, you kill me.

Draco Malfoy studied his shopping list again. And again. Besides the usual list of books, new robes, potion ingredients and the like, there were four distinctly strange items that he surmised some deranged mind had placed there. Moose chips. What the hell were moose chips? Malfoy had the nasty feeling that he knew. They were listed as a potion ingredient. Well, that was one potion he was going to skip drinking, if possible. Then there was a shrubbery, a shovel, and a kayak. A kayak? What the heck for?

“Hey, Draco, whatcha doing?” One of the two rocks who called themselves his friends was standing beside him, looking puzzled.

“Just rechecking this list, Crabbe,” Malfoy replied with a sigh. “There’s some very strange stuff on here.”

Crabbe looked puzzled, but tagged along behind Malfoy anyway as Malfoy collared Goyle, dragging him away from Florian Fortescue’s ice-cream parlour, and headed for Knockturn Alley, where he preferred to shop.

Buying the shovel was the easy part, and Malfoy made Crabbe carry it in Crabbe’s new cauldron. The thickheaded git had a habit of melting them – he was almost as bad as Neville Longbottom.

“Moose chips,” Malfoy muttered again as they headed for Griselda’s Apothecary, which was Knockturn Alley’s potions and potion ingredients supplier. “What the hell are they for?”

A snowy owl flew past his head, hotting loudly, and nearly knocked his hat off.

“Hey, I know that owl!” Goyle blurted. “That’s Potter’s owl!”

Malfoy snorted. “Rubbish. What would he be doing down here?”

What Malfoy didn’t know was that it *was* Hedwig. Why was Hedwig in Knockturn Alley? She was spying on them. Between her claws she held a specially made magic camera. Why was she spying on them? Malfoy was going to find out.

But not yet.

They bought the moose chips (ha!), and Malfoy made Goyle carry them. Goyle didn’t look ecstatic about it, and pointed out (twice) that they weren’t his, they were Malfoy’s, and Malfoy was the only one who had them on his list (this alone should’ve made Malfoy smell a rat, but it didn’t), but Malfoy made him carry them anyway.

The last two items on their special list were a bit harder to lay their hands on. Well, the shrubbery was easy to *find*, but as they were in Knockturn Alley, it was actually a biting bush designed for home protection. Malfoy had several of them planted under his bedroom window at home. They were *very* hard to lay hands on, as they’d strip the skin off your bones in zip flat.

“Well,” Crabbe said, “what if we get the... the kayak first, and put the bush in it to carry?” It was one of his rare bursts of insight, and such an obvious idea that Malfoy kicked himself for not thinking of it.

There was a sports shop at the end of the alley which sold Muggle things as well as magical things, which the kayak decidedly was *not*. In fact, it was unwieldy, heavy, and took all three of them to carry it.

They carted the great useless thing back to the plant nursery, sniping all the way about its possible use. All three opined that it had none, but there must be *something*. Crabbe thought they might be starting inter-house kayaking tournaments. Goyle just thought it was time for lunch.

Malfoy thought they were both idiots.

They tied the biting bush into the kayak, Malfoy’s one moment of relief coming when he realised that this particular bush had been nice and cheap. Normally home protection cost so much. Then they hoisted the kayak, with Crabbe’s cauldron, the shovel, the moose chips, and various other bits of paraphernalia they’d picked up on the way, making it a nastily heavy – and precariously stacked – load.

As they rounded the corner into Diagon Alley, they were greeted with a burst of hysterical laughter, from what sounded like a lot of people. Malfoy, who was in the middle, peeked around Goyle’s hulking form and nearly fainted.

Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and about fifty of their other friends were all standing there, laughing. At them.

“Hi, Malfoy,” Harry choked. “Nice shrubbery.”

Malfoy scowled. “Ha, ha, ha. Wait till you read *your* shopping list, Potter – you’ll probably have to buy a Blast-Ended Skrewt.”

“I doubt it,” Hermione said, giggling and waving a quill at him. “Look.”

Hedwig swooped past Malfoy, and was followed by...

Malfoy’s own eagle owl.

“Hooty!” Malfoy cried, and was instantly bright red as the crowd howled derisively.

“Did you know, erm, *Hooty* liked Hedwig?” Ron asked the red-faced Slytherin, for whom the truth was beginning to dawn.

“No,” Malfoy muttered.

“Well, it was nice of him to pay her a visit on his way to you from Hogwarts with your shopping list,” Hermione said. “And it was equally nice that Hedwig, and Harry, and I, were all at The Burrow for the weekend.” She smiled.

“And finally, it was very, very nice that Hermione can forge Professor McGonagall’s handwriting,” Harry said solemnly.

Malfoy looked down at his annotated shopping list, scrunched it into a ball, and flung it furiously at Harry. It bounced off Harry’s chest and fell to the ground.

Still laughing, Harry waved at Malfoy. “See you later, Malfoy. Take good care of Hooty. Maybe you could take him kayaking?” he suggested.

And for that, Malfoy had no response.

A/N: A/N: I just realised that I think I’ve finished two challenges in a row with that same sort of line... oh well!

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