Too high, can’t come down…
Draco stood outside the townhouse and looked down at the paper and then back up. It was large, but not nearly as new as his own. Noticeably older. But it was still nice. He walked up the path and stood in front of the door a few moments before knocking. He then stepped back and waited.
Not a few moments passed before the door opened and Olivia stood there dressed in an old t-shirt and a pair of shorts, her hair pulled up in a messy ponytail.
“You made it,” she said, almost as though she didn’t think that he would come.
“Not as though you gave me much of a choice,” he replied.
“Right…” Olivia said. She then stepped back, motioning him inside. Draco walked in and looked around at the entryway, suddenly realizing that she had invited him to her home.
For a moment, he panicked. Something inside him told him that this was a massive step - potentially a mistake - but he managed to swallow his nerves as he followed her up the stairs, his curiosity growing. Why had she invited him here? She then pushed open a door and they walked into a massive library with a huge, top of the line potion set up that took up two large tables in front of the window, along with some sort of setup involving glass tubes and containers. There were other tables covered in various other equipment.
He had never seen anything like it before. This was far more advanced that even what he worked with at the Ministry.
“I like to work on my stuff at home. In private,” she explained quickly, her nerves apparent. She walked over and began fiddling with a few glass tubes, then glanced over at him. “I, ah, like to marry no-maj with magic… chemistry sets make it a lot easier to brew potions. Just wish the rest of the world would get on board with it.”
“This is… impressive,” Draco said, finding it was the only thing he could think to say about it. “But… why am I here?”
Olivia took a deep breath and slowly let it out, turning to lean against the table as she wrapped her arms around herself.
“Okay, so I told you that I was interested in your work. That was one of the main reasons I took the job,” she confessed. “I think what you’re working on… I think that it could help in my own research. If we work together.” Draco’s mouth nearly dropped open, but he didn’t say anything, waiting for her to continue. “So my father… he is pureblood, but my mother isn’t. In fact… my grandparents are no-maj… and well, my grandmother is sick. Really sick. It’s called Alzheimer’s.” She pushed off a table and walked over to a desk, picking up some papers. “It affects the memory… over time the person’s brain is affected by the illness until eventually… they completely forget who they are and everything.” She walked back over, holding the papers out to him.
Immediately, he felt his heart go out to her. Bloody hell, he had been a right bastard to her and she was dealing with this. Fuck, he felt like the world’s largest prat.
“I’ve been using magic and no-maj science to try and find a cure for the last two years,” she said. “I’ve had some success, but something is… missing… and I think it might be you.”
Draco’s eyes widened as she began chewing on her lower lip, obviously nervous about everything she had just told him.
“Me?” he asked, finding it the best place to start.
“Yes, well, I guess your research, to be more specific. You’ve been working in potions that affect the mind. Protect it. I think that what you’re doing and what I’m doing… if we combine it, we might be able to find the missing pieces for both of us,” she said, turning back to the potions set.
Draco looked down, going through her notes as she started walking him through everything she had done over the last two years. Eventually he walked over and sat down, watching her intently as she mapped out her formulas on a chalkboard, taking the time to explain the muggle bits of science that he didn’t understand.
It was, in a word, massive. A huge undertaking. And if they managed to figure it out, it would be a breakthrough not only in the magical world but in the muggle world as well. Scientists had been studying this disease for years, but were no closer to a cure or proper treatment. But all on her own, Olivia managed to make several advancements that even they hadn’t. Was close to an experimental treatment, even.
Not to mention, if they managed to unlock just what it would take to repair the mind, they could use that to engineer something that could even protect it from not only the disease, but others. And from magical means to damage the mind.
Olivia De Loughrey was far more brilliant than he had originally thought. He now understood why she had gotten the position over him. This wasn’t even on his radar. And, if it were even possible, he found himself even more attracted to her. But that was definitely not something to be thinking about right now.
Draco silently took it in for several minutes after she finished talking, noticing that the sun was now lower in the sky.
“Impossible, I know. But I can’t give up now,” Olivia said vehemently.
“I wasn’t going to say that,” Draco said, looking up at her. “It’s… mad, yes. But if we could do this… create potions that have applications in both the muggle world and the magical, it would be… revolutionary.” He stood and walked over to the chalkboard, taking in her formulas and calculations. “Advance both worlds in one go. By… decades.”
He looked over at her, seeing hope beginning to fill her eyes.
“So, you’ll help me?” she asked. A slow grin spread across his face.
“You think I would pass on what could potentially be the biggest breakthrough in potions in our lifetime? Obviously not,” he replied. “I do have a reputation to uphold.”
Olivia nodded, looking back to the chalkboard, her face lit up in a happy grin.
“Good, okay… where do we start?” she asked. He looked back at the board and then pointed at a formula that was only half done.
“This… I think if we can figure this out, then we might be able to work out some of the other problems,” he said, concentrating on it. He then stepped back, putting the papers down as he slid off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. “Just how are you getting all these ingredients?”
“Greenhouse in the basement,” she said. “And I grow some things in the backyard. I can show you, if you want.”
“Later,” he said, eager to get to work on the formula.
“And I definitely think you’re right about the Night Heather. I’ve been looking up everything I can find on it. But we need to get our hands on some to research it more,” she added.
“Agreed, but later,” he said, still staring at the board.
He stood and stared at it a long time, as Olivia walked over to one of the bookshelves and pulled off a few books, walking them over to the desk and starting to leaf through them.
“I keep thinking I’ve seen something similar, but I can’t seem to remember what or where,” she said.
Draco hummed, but didn’t stop looking at the formula. He then stepped up and started writing. For the next couple of hours, they pondered over the problem, occasionally bouncing ideas off each other. Some they dismissed rather quickly. Others they wrote down to consider later.
As exhilarating as he found his own work, this was something far more challenging and Draco was immediately hooked, finding himself focused in a way he hadn’t been in a long time.
Finally as the sun was slipping beneath the horizon, he jumped up and dashed over to the board, crazy energy buzzing through him. Olivia looked over at him from where she was sitting behind her desk, her eyes wide.
“What if we did…. This,” he said, stepping back and looking over his work.
He felt rather than saw Olivia step over to his side, carefully going over it. Her eyes then widened as her mouth dropped open.
“Oh my god, Draco,” she said, gasping. “I’ve been stuck on this for months…” She then squealed and jumped around, turning to him. She threw her arms around his neck, laughing loudly. “Holy fuck - you figured it out, you brilliant man, you!”
Draco found himself laughing as she stepped back, though kept her arms around his neck, her blue eyes lit up with excitement.
“We need to celebrate,” she said, suddenly letting go of him and walking over to a liquor cabinet that he hadn’t noticed before. He found himself wishing her arms were still around him. Just as quickly he told himself to stop it.
“We haven’t tested it yet,” he said cautiously.
“But still! This is just the first step!” she said, walking back over with two glasses of firewhiskey. “This is the start of a beautiful relationship - I can feel it.” Draco took it and looked back at the board, vaguely aware that she had walked back over to her desk. She walked back, holding a photo frame.
He couldn’t but help think it was the start of something beautiful as well. Just what though, he wasn’t sure.
Draco looked down at the photograph, seeing a young Olivia with an older couple. He had seen them before. In the photograph that Theo had shown him. Draco felt his stomach twist.
“This is Grams,” she said softly, a shimmer of tears in her eyes. She looked back up at the board. “And we’re one step closer to saving her…”
Draco found something inside him stirring again. He wanted to help her - to help her family. More than anything. And he wasn’t completely sure just why. Well, that wasn’t true. He knew why. Because he wanted to help Olivia.
It was on the tip of his tongue to tell her that he knew her story. He knew about her mother dying. To ask her more about her life with the De Loughreys. To tell her his own story. But he didn’t. It seemed like too much for now. And things were just now in a good place. He didn’t want to ruin that by confessing what he had been doing. But he couldn’t help as the guilt settled in his stomach.
“So… you hungry? I think I have some food around here or we could order in,” Olivia said, turning to him. “I mean, unless you have plans or anything. Figure we could eat and keep working.”
“I don’t have any plans,” Draco said. Olivia smiled and looked back at the board.
“What’s all this?”
The two of them jumped and spun around, seeing a confused Wood standing in the doorway to the library, his brown eyes fixed on Draco.
“Oh… fuck,” Olivia muttered. “I’m so sorry. We were working and I just… completely forgot. Draco - you know Oliver. Oliver, Draco. This is… work.” Draco looked over at her, his eyebrows raised. “I, um, we have plans tonight. Oliver and I.” She looked over at Wood and for a moment, Draco swore the look in her eyes was disappointment. That she had a date with her boyfriend.
But he pushed it aside, thinking it ridiculous. Of course she would want to spend the evening with her boyfriend.
“It’s fine,” he said, offering her a tense smile. It wasn’t fine, but there was nothing he could do about it. Wood was currently staring daggers at him. “We can pick this up later.” Olivia smiled in relief.
“Tomorrow? Same time? Or you can come over earlier,” she said.
“Of course,” he said. He then finished his drink and put the glass down on the table before walking over and picking up his jacket. “Good to see you, Wood,” he said with a short nod as he walked past him and out of the library, feeling a distinct chill coming from the quidditch player.
Part of him was expecting to hear yelling once he stepped out, but instead it was low murmurs. Low enough that he couldn’t hear what they were saying. He picked up the pace, making his way through the house and out the front door.
Only when he was outside did he stop and look back at the house. Sighing heavily, he turned and continued on his way, wishing more than anything that they hadn’t been interrupted.
Or that he was the one staying and Wood was leaving.