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All Missing Things ( Can Be Found )

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Harry laughed as Seamus slammed down another pint in front of him. He wasn’t sure what exactly they were doing in Nice, except that Seamus had insisted that for his twentieth birthday they all hit up one of the most famous Irish bars in Europe and take a well deserved holiday. So here the Gryffindor boys were in Nice at Wayne’s Bar on a Friday night looking for some welcome relief from the real world.

Harry loved the active side of Auror training. He loved the thrill of learning new spells and mastering old ones. He was less keen on the frequent tests they were given, but he felt like he was being useful. Auror training had helped ground him after the war, and it had given him a purpose again.

“Shouldn’t we be buying you drinks, seeing as it’s your birthday?” Neville slurred, propping his head up with his hand, blonde hair stuck to his forehead with sweat.

“Shhh!” Ron hissed loudly, giving Neville a shove that had Neville wobbling off his seat. Ron had never been aware of his own strength, and two years of physical hands-on Auror training had seen Ron broadening out from the lanky git he’d always been at school.

“What was that, Nev?” Seamus asked, blinking drearily.

Neville opened his mouth to respond, but before he could, Ron shoved his presumably sweaty hand into Neville’s mouth and flashed Seamus what Ron probably thought was an innocent smile.

“Nothing.”

Harry laughed and took a swig from the beer Seamus had bought him. He always preferred being in Muggle bars than wizarding ones. Even two years after the war, Harry still had people coming up to him and thanking him, worshipping him, treating him as if he were something more than he was. He was just Harry.

He was Harry Potter, or as Ron would call him, the idiot who always forgets to eat when he’s distracted , or Hermione’s favourite nickname, the boy who survived the killing curse twice only to work himself to death whenever Harry threw himself too deep into Auror training. Seamus at one point had taken to calling Harry the chosen shagger after Harry’s latest string of unsuccessful relationships post-Ginny and what Dean had nicknamed the bi revelation, but thankfully that nickname had been short-lived. Mainly due to Harry threatening Seamus, of course.

To his friends he would always be just “Harry”, a boy who wears mismatched socks and can’t comb his hair and more often than not forgets to shave. They didn’t ask him to be perfect when they knew he was far from it. Harry needed that.

“To being single!” Dean cheered, dropping back into his seat with a round of shots for them all.

Harry picked up the shot and downed it as Ron let out a mighty cheer and downed his own. Ron’s being single too was still weird, but he and Hermione had decided to take some time apart before settling down for good. Harry was pretty sure it was Molly’s constant needling them about children and marriage that had done it. Harry understood them wanting time apart to learn who they were without a maniac trying to kill them; he was still searching for that answer himself after all.

“To being single and devastatingly good-looking!” Seamus added.

“To being single, devastatingly good-looking, and talented!” Ron grinned.

“To being single, devastatingly good-looking, talented, and hilarious,” Neville said, pulling a face as he downed his own shot.

Harry laughed as all his mates turned to him. “To being single, devastatingly good-looking, talented, hilarious and…” He paused as he tried to find the correct word, and for a moment his eyes caught sight of a flash of white hair in the crowd. It couldn’t be. “Malfoy,” he spluttered.

There was no way Draco fucking Malfoy also happened to be at Wayne’s Bar in Nice. There was no fucking way. Harry would fuck a hippogriff before he accepted that fact. However, he would recognise that hair anywhere. It was so annoyingly bright and in-your-face. Harry hated how it drew his attention whenever Malfoy was skulking around the Ministry without his hat on. Harry would be forever thankful that whilst the official Auror robes included a pointed hat that looked like it belonged in a Muggle’s Halloween costume, trainees didn’t have to wear them, and neither did Aurors in their day-to-day lives. However, Unspeakables in the Department of Mysteries, where Malfoy swanned about, all wore those stupid hats.

Malfoy was married now. It was a strange thought that Harry couldn’t completely comprehend. It had happened right after Malfoy had graduated Hogwarts after returning for his eighth year. Harry had been shocked Malfoy had gone back. Hermione had said that the Ministry had made some kind of deal with Malfoy, which made sense, since Malfoy had graduated and been swept straight into the Department of Mysteries. The Department of Mysteries gave Harry the creeps, so he was more than happy to keep his distance.

Anyway, there had been an announcement in the Prophet that summer that Malfoy and Astoria Greengrass, a Slytherin from the year below, had married. The thought irked Harry, the fact that after everything Malfoy was still the same pure-blood puppet.

“Mate! Mate!” Harry was jolted from his inner drunken Malfoy thoughts at Ron’s voice.

Harry glanced over to find Seamus roaring with laughter, Dean snickering into his glass, Neville confused, and Ron pulling a pained face.

“What?” Harry said.

“I’ve gone back in time, we’re in sixth year again,” Ron moaned as Neville patted his back, still looking confused.

“What?” Harry repeated.

“Sorry, do you not remember toasting “‘ To being single, devastatingly good-looking, talented, hilarious, and Malfoy ’?” Dean said slowly.

Harry ducked his head, thankful for dimly lit bars and his tanned skin from his father’s Desi heritage.

“I mean, I always thought he had a bit of a thing for you,” Seamus smirked, still laughing. Harry kicked him and cast a wandless refilling charm on his shot glass.

“Shut up,” Ron groaned, pushing his glass towards Harry for a refill. Of the Gryffindor Auror training group, Harry was the only one who had mastered any wandless magic. All five of them had joined up after the war, desperate for something to do. Returning to real life had seemed impossible. Harry wasn’t sure if it would ever be possible.

“Malfoy did not have a thing for me,” Harry said, filling up Ron’s shot glass for him because he felt bad for being the cause of the pain on his best mate’s face. “No fucking way,” Harry said when Seamus pushed his own empty shot glass towards him.

“It’s my birthday,” Seamus pouted. “And anyway, he was always weirdly obsessed with you.”

“Harry was pretty obsessed with him too,” Ron groaned, downing his shot and shaking his head.

“Was not! He was my nemesis…”

“You’re aware most eleven-year olds don’t have a nemesis right, mate?” Dean asked.

“Ron, he was your nemesis too!”

“I thought- think,” Ron corrected, “that Malfoy is a right fucking git but I would not have said he was my nemesis. It was always more the two of you.”

Harry flipped them all off and finished off the rest of his beer, “Enough about Malfoy, who wants to dance?”

Seamus sprung to his feet, “Now that’s a plan I can get involved in.”

Harry followed his mate through the crowd presuming the rest of the Gryffindors were following them. All Seamus had told them about the bar was that it apparently had live music every night and that everyone danced on the tables, and Seamus hadn’t been wrong.

Pushing his glasses up his nose, Harry exchanged a grin with Seamus before letting a blonde girl pull him up onto one of the tables, all thoughts of Malfoy pushed from his mind. Harry had clearly been imagining things.

It was easy to lose himself in the drum of the music, the buzz of alcohol in his veins, and the feeling of sweaty bodies grinding against him. To throw his head back and grin as the girl ground her arse against his crotch. He could see Ron dancing with a brunette who looked a lot like Hermione, not that Harry would ever mention that to his mate. Harry liked having his balls attached.

The singer at the front was singing a Muggle song that Harry didn’t recognise and he knew none of his friends would know, but that didn’t stop him from humming the chorus. It was a catchy song.

The girl turned around, her arms wrapping around his neck and Harry slipped his hands onto her waist, pulling her closer. Another warm body against him was all he wanted, all he needed. Harry had no interest in anything serious.

“Hey,” the girl murmured, blinking large blue eyes up at him. Wayne’s Bar was filled with tourists Seamus had told them, so they wouldn’t stick out.

“Hullo,” Harry murmured back, he started to lean in closer to kiss her when a particularly sharp elbow connected with his back. Turning his head, Harry glanced over his shoulder at the offender, a smirk playing at his lips. The close proximity and vicarious nature of dancing on tables that looked like they belonged in Viking drinking halls meant it was impossible to dance without knocking someone once or twice.

“My apol-” a familiar bored drawl met Harry’s ears, and he frowned before glancing down into a pair of beady dark eyes and unforgettable pug nose. “Potter!” Pansy Parkinson squawked, her jaw dropping as she raked her eyes over him.

Harry stared dumbly back at Parkinson, who was in a tight-fitting black dress that left absolutely nothing to the imagination, and for one traitorous second Harry’s eyes zoomed in on her tits. Since when had Parkinson had good tits? Then Harry’s brain kicked back into gear, and he was reminded that this was a girl who had quite publically tried to sell him out to Voldemort a couple of years back.

It seemed the exact same thought had just crossed Parkinson’s mind, because she gave him a tight nod before turning tail and disappearing back through the crowd. Harry stared at her back. If Parkinson was here then perhaps that meant that he really had seen… no… Harry would genuinely rather fuck a hippogriff than see Malfoy in a place like this.

The blonde girl gave a tug on his arm, but Harry brushed her off. He wanted another drink. Nothing made you crave more alcohol than a brush with someone who tried to send you to your death a couple of years back.

Not that Harry hated Parkinson anymore, he didn’t hate any of them. They’d all been kids after all, but that didn’t mean Harry wanted anything to do with any of them. Especially obnoxiously white-haired ferrets. No, that wouldn’t do at all.

Harry pushed through the crowd until he reached the front of the bar. “Vodka and Coke please, make it a double on the vodka,” he said to the bar keeper, shooting the guy his best grin, just in case the barman happened to have a thing for messy-haired guys.

“Excuse me, but I think you’ll find you pushed in.”

Harry’s blood ran cold. Whilst he may not have been able to place Parkinson’s bored drawl straight away, there was no mistaking the plummy voice in his ear now.

“I said excuse me, but I will not be so polite the second time!” Malfoy snapped.

“I didn’t know you knew how to be polite,” Harry shrugged, accepting his drink from the bartender with a smile before turning and smirking as Malfoy’s thin mouth curved into a sneer.

“I suppose I should have known it was you with that bird’s nest on your head that you claim is hair,” Malfoy sniffed, his pale face illuminated in the bright lights.

Harry rolled his eyes at the jibe, “Grow up.”

“Me?” Malfoy said. “You started it!”

“How did I start it?”

“You pushed in!”

“I did not!”

“You did!”

“I didn’t!”

“Sexual tension much,” the bartender snorted, and they both glowered at him before turning back to each other.

Harry took a sip of his drink and took a step closer to Malfoy; Harry’s skin was itching with that adrenaline only Malfoy had ever been able to provoke in him. They were only a couple of centimetres apart in height so Malfoy must have grown post-war as well. Up close, he could see Malfoy’s pale lashes and chapped lips, his razor-sharp cheekbones and pointed chin. His features were just as pointy as they had been at Hogwarts, but there was almost something… Seamus’s words about Malfoy having a thing for Harry echoed in his head.

Harry cut his own thoughts off as Malfoy leaned over and stole his drink, taking a long sip of it.

“The fuck!” Harry spluttered, brow creasing. “That was mine!”

“You pushed in.” Malfoy simply shrugged as he placed the now-empty glass on the side.

“You fucking-” Harry started, fists clenching at his side as he got even closer to Malfoy. It was definitely the alcohol in him, but being this close to Malfoy felt electric.

“Fucking what, Potter?” Malfoy said, his tongue swiping along his bottom lip mockingly. It was hypnotising.

For a flash Harry debated swinging his fist, but instead he settled for something else. Harry knotted his fist into Malfoy’s shirt, his drunken brain not even processing how strange it was to see Draco Malfoy in Muggle clothes, and tugged the other man into a rough and desperate kiss. A spark shot down Harry’s spine as he felt Malfoy’s mouth moving against his. Malfoy’s mouth was wet and greedy, his hands reaching up and tugging almost painfully on Harry’s hair, but Harry didn’t complain. The kiss was electrifying and maddening, and Malfoy’s teeth dug into Harry’s bottom lip, but Harry just opened his mouth up eagerly. He wanted more. He didn’t know what he was doing, but he wanted more of it.

Malfoy’s hands burnt Harry everywhere they touched, and Harry, desperate for more, slipped his hands onto Malfoy’s narrow hips, tugging him closer until their bodies were pressed against each other. Malfoy let out a fucking groan and Harry was lost. He had hooked up with people who could kiss better many a time in his life, but he had never had something so maddening. he had never kissed the human equivalent of firewhisky.

Malfoy’s mouth tasted of cigarette ash and Harry’s stolen Coke and vodka, and what should have been disgusting was mouthwatering.

“Want to go somewhere more private?” Harry managed to get out as Malfoy moved his needy mouth to Harry’s neck, teeth scraping the skin and sucking a harsh mark into the skin. Harry tilted his head back to allow Malfoy more access. Harry caught sight of the bartender leering at him, and he reached up, tangling his hands in silky hair. Harry wanted more, and he wanted to get away from the bar before one of his friends saw him. They wouldn’t understand. How could they when Harry himself didn’t understand what he was doing.

Malfoy nodded, pulling away from Harry and revealing lust-blown eyes and swollen lips. Harry swallowed and grabbed Malfoy’s arm tightly, dragging him through the bar until they were outside where he kept walking for a minute until he found a suitable dark corner.

“Honestly, Potter,” Malfoy started, before Harry decided it was time to shut him up again and shoved him against the wall, kissing him silent. A silent Malfoy was a better Malfoy.

Malfoy ravaged Harry’s mouth, tongue pressing against his bottom lip before sliding in and exploring, attacking, retreating. Kissing Malfoy was a dance that Harry felt he’d been training for for years without even knowing it.

He could feel himself growing hard, and he pushed his hips forward, swallowing the moan that fell from Malfoy’s mouth. Malfoy never had been able to be quiet but Harry could deal with these noises.

Harry’s glasses dug into his nose, but he didn’t care.

Harry pressed a hand to Malfoy’s hardening crotch and laughed softly at the sharp intake of breath Malfoy let out. Harry was pretty sure he was drunk on the noises Malfoy made. Harry wanted to bring the other boy to the edge, dangle him them, and then push him over. Fucking Christ was Harry drunk on Malfoy.

“Well, you going to do something about it?” Malfoy murmured into the kiss, thrusting his crotch into Harry’s hand and letting his head bang back against the wall.

Harry had never been one to back down from a challenge and certainly not one offered by Draco Malfoy. He sucked on a spot just under Malfoy’s sharp jaw before sinking to his knees, enjoying the sight above him of Malfoy wide-eyed and speechless.

“Scared?” Harry asked, running his hands along Malfoy’s long, toned thighs. He was aware of what he said, of the heavy challenge that hung in the air, an echo of their old school days. They could move on and forget this ever happened, but it always would have happened.

“You wish,” Malfoy murmured back, his hands knotting into Harry’s hair again and giving a tug.

Harry smirked up at him and tucked his glasses into his glasses case. He’d learnt the hard way to take them off before sucking cock. He glanced up at Malfoy who was now just a fuzzy pale blur before mouthing the bulge in Malfoy’s jeans, then undoing them and pulling them down just enough to let Malfoy’s cock spring free. Harry curled his tanned hand around Malfoy’s pink cock, it was a sobering action and he let go suddenly.

“You’re married.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement that Harry had until a second ago forgotten about. He was an awful person. He fucking knew that Malfoy was married. He had just forgotten, drunk on Malfoy’s stupid mouth.

Glancing up, Harry stared at the fuzzy figure that was Malfoy. He couldn’t make out his face, but he could hear his panting breath.

“You’re married,” Harry repeated. He would do a lot of things, but he wouldn’t fuck a married man. Harry pulled his glasses back out and shoved them onto his face. What was Malfoy’s fucking problem? You couldn’t just go around hooking up with your old school rival when you were married!

Malfoy’s pointy face came back into view, he was wide-eyed and shaking his head desperately, Chest heaving and lips still red from kissing. Harry hated how fucking hot Malfoy had the nerve to look. Prick, hard and pink, curling upwards.

Malfoy continued shaking his head, “Not anymore, divorce papers being finalised,” Malfoy said, his breath catching in his throat.

Harry paused from where he’d been starting to get up from his knees, “You’re getting divorced already?”

Malfoy’s cheeks burnt red but he nodded. “Was an arranged marriage and I want out, now are you going to suck my fucking cock or not?”

Harry sunk back to his knees and took his glasses off again. If Malfoy were getting divorced that was a different game. Anyway, this was just a one night thing. Nothing deeper than that.

Harry flicked his tongue out tasting the head of Malfoy’s prick, smirking as Malfoy’s head fell back against the wall. “Why the divorce?” Harry asked, spitting on his hand, and reaching up and wrapping it around Malfoy’s cock.

“Is this your idea of dirty talk because I swear to-”

Harry didn’t let Malfoy finish his sentence as he took Malfoy in his mouth, tightening his lips and sucking him down. There was nothing gentle about it, no lingering looks or soft touches as Malfoy thrust into his mouth. Harry let his eyes flutter closed as he worked his mouth on Malfoy’s hot prick. He wanted to bring Malfoy to pieces. Harry took Malfoy deeper and Harry loved it. He loved every moment of it. Harry was used to doing this with anonymous strangers in club bathrooms. But with Malfoy, with someone he knew, it was even hotter.

Malfoy was panting above him and a string of expletives flowed from his mouth as Harry pulled off with an audible pop.

“The fuck?” Malfoy whimpered. Harry smirked, he had made Draco Malfoy whimper.

Harry placed a kiss on the head of Malfoy’s cock before standing up and running his hands up Malfoy’s chest. Harry didn’t know what the Department of Mysteries was having Malfoy do, but they should keep doing it. Harry may not have been able to see under Draco’s shirt (he could hardly see ten centimetres in front of him currently), but he could feel the lithe muscles.

“You never could shut up,” Harry said, pulling Malfoy in for another kiss and forcing his tongue into Malfoy’s mouth, not that Malfoy put up much resistance.

Malfoy let Harry kiss him before pulling back. He was too fuzzy for Harry to see him properly, but Harry imagined he was scowling. He could just about make out the pink tinge of Malfoy’s pale cheeks.

“Are you going to finish what you started?”

Harry scraped his teeth over Malfoy’s Adam’s apple. “I was thinking I could fuck you?” Harry’s lips curled up into a smile as he sucked a mark onto Malfoy’s neck and Malfoy’s breath hitched. Harry might have done this years ago if he’d known it was the best way to get Malfoy to shut up. Well, excluding Malfoy being an extremist Death Eater twat at the time, which admittedly would have been a slight turn off. Harry didn’t let himself think about what was lurking under Malfoy’s sleeve. The Ministry wouldn’t have hired Malfoy if he were still a pure-blood elitist wanker.

Harry pushed those thoughts from his mind as Malfoy spoke.

“Why should you fuck me?”

“‘Cause I just sucked you off?”

“What if I want to fuck you?”

Harry groaned and pulled back. “Do you want to flip a fucking coin?” Everything was a challenge between them, and while it did admittedly make things more heated,  at times like this it was annoying as shit.

Harry imagined Malfoy was scowling again. “I just don’t understand why you get to fuck me.”

Harry laughed and reached his hands around to massage Malfoy’s arse. “Okay, if we ever do this again, you fuck me?”

Harry couldn’t think of why they would do something like this again, not that it wasn’t amazing. It’s just that, well, they were them.

“Okay, this time you fuck me,” Malfoy huffed but recaptured Harry’s lips in a deep kiss, and Harry smirked into it knowing he’d won. He liked the promise of next time .

He removed one hand from Draco’s arse and reached into his jeans pockets, pulling out the tiny bottle of lube he’d brought with him just in case . Not that Harry had seen this particular situation arising.

Harry spun Malfoy around with more force than he would usually use, and Malfoy let out a low grunt that went straight to Harry’s cock. Harry knew Malfoy could take it; he knew Malfoy wanted it when he stuck out his arse for Harry.

Harry opened the lube and shoved Malfoy’s boxers down further. Harry pulled his glasses back on before coating his fingers in lube, as he didn’t want to miss a second of this. He wanted to see it all.

“Fucking hell, you’re tight,” Harry hissed as he worked a finger in. He nearly came on the spot thinking about how tight Malfoy was going to feel around his cock. Harry twisted and worked his fingers as he fingered Malfoy open, making sure to use as much lube as he could. Malfoy whined, and arched his back, shoving his arse to meet the thrusts of Harry’s fingers.

“Please,” Malfoy begged, voice catching as he turned his face against the wall to meet Harry’s. Sweaty blond hair stuck to his cheeks, and his silver eyes were dark with lust.

“What was that?” Harry murmured, pressing his lips to the back of Malfoy’s neck and crooking his fingers against that spot that had Malfoy whimpering.

“Please,” Malfoy repeated, and well, Harry couldn’t say no to a begging Malfoy. At earlier points in his life Harry would have said that Flobberworms are cuddly before imagining that Draco Malfoy would be a needy bottom, before imagining that one day Harry would fuck Malfoy.

Harry wiped his fingers on Malfoy’s jeans and cast the necessary protection spells. Harry had received a rather terrifying talk from Molly Weasley about the importance of sex protection charms, and now he would never forget them. Harry did not want to be thinking of Molly Weasley as he lined up to fuck Malfoy.

He eased in bit by bit, whispering encouragements in Malfoy’s ear, hands slipping under Malfoy’s shirt and tracing his sides. Harry felt Malfoy relax, and finally Harry bottomed out. He paused, counting to five and tried not to come from the tight heat.

“Fuck, Malfoy.”

“Yes, Potter, fuck me,” Malfoy hissed, shoving his arse back and causing Harry to let out a soft laugh.

“Bossy git,” he murmured, tightening his grip on Malfoy’s hips before pulling back and pistoning his hips forward. Malfoy pushed his arse back to meet every one of Harry’s thrusts as they grunted together. Harry slipped his hand around Malfoy’s front and wrapped it around Malfoy’s cock, stroking him in time to his thrusts.

Harry started to falter as he felt Malfoy’s arse clench around his cock.

“Fuck, I’m close,” Harry moaned as he thrust deep inside Malfoy, listening to Malfoy come undone on his cock. Fuck, Harry wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to forget this.

“Me too,” Malfoy moaned, arching his neck. Harry leaned in and sucked another mark onto Malfoy’s perfect, long neck as he thrust his hips one last night and came with a shout, burying his head in Malfoy’s shoulder, not caring that his glasses pressed into his face.

Harry kept working his hand on Malfoy’s cock as he came, and he felt the moment Malfoy reached his own orgasm as his arse tightened even more around Harry’s now half-hard cock.

They stayed there against the wall panting for a couple of minutes, neither one saying anything as they came down from their orgasms.

Harry stepped backwards and tried to smooth his hair back over his forehead, “So that was…” he trailed off and got to tucking himself back into his jeans.

“Yeah it was,” Malfoy said, turning around, an almost soft smile on his lips. Harry couldn’t think of a time he’d ever just seen Malfoy genuinely smile.

Harry ducked his head as Malfoy sorted himself out, suddenly feeling awkward, “You’re not going to-”

“Tell anyone?” Malfoy finished dryly, and Harry shrugged.

“I’d rather this stay between us.”

Malfoy scoffed, “Of course you would.”

Harry bristled, “What’s that-”

“Relax Potter, I have no interest in anyone ever finding out about this either,” Malfoy deadpanned, and Harry grinned at him.

“So, I’m going to head back in now before my friends come looking for me,” Harry said, stepping away from Malfoy and back towards Wayne’s. “See you around, Malfoy.”

“See you around, Potter.” Harry paused at the hollow sound in Malfoy’s voice but forced himself to keep walking. It was none of his business. Malfoy was probably just sad about his ending marriage.

Harry had another shot when he got back inside and rejoined his friends in the dance area.

“Where have you been?” Ron yelled over the music, his face covered in bright red kiss marks. Harry laughed at the sight. “You got laid, didn’t you? You’ve got your I got laid face on!”

Harry winked at his mate and let himself be drawn back into the dancing. He’d just shagged Draco Malfoy. Would wonders never cease.

***

“Did I tell you the Slytherins were in Nice too?” Harry asked, sending Hermione a thankful smile as he took the cup of tea from her. Hermione had been perfectly happy not to attend the boys weekend in Nice, but Harry had come around as soon as they were home anyway. He didn’t want her feeling left out.

Hermione’s brows shot up as she settled down onto the sofa next to him with her own cup of tea. It was still weird for Harry to see Hermione without Ron, but they still did things as a trio a lot of the time so things weren’t awful. Harry was pretty sure his idiot best friends were still in love, but he wasn’t going to push them. They would end up back together when it was time.

“You didn’t.”

“Yeah, they were. Saw Parkinson and Malfoy.”

Hermione hummed and took a sip of her tea as she picked up the TV remote. “I suppose they were there celebrating.”

“Celebrating?”

“Didn’t you see in the Prophet this morning?”

“I don’t read the Prophet .”

“Oh of course, well there was an announcement that Astoria Malfoy is pregnant, so I imagine the Slytherins were out congratulating Malfoy’s fatherhood.”

Harry blinked. Pregnant. Malfoy. Fatherhood. None of those words sounded at all like divorce. None of them were connected to divorce.

“That fucking-” he started under his breath before biting his lip hard as Hermione shot him a worried look. “Bit young, isn’t it?” he asked, forcing a light-hearted smile.

“To us perhaps, but remember Malfoy’s family requires him to produce an heir, and the marriage was quite obviously arranged seeing as it happened straight after they both left Hogwarts…”

Harry tuned Hermione out as she kept talking. Fucking Draco fucking Malfoy, the fucking git. Harry hadn’t wanted a heartfelt relationship with the tosser, but he hadn’t wanted to become an accomplice to fucking adultery. He hadn’t wanted to hook up with a married man, and he had told Malfoy that, and Malfoy had fucking lied.

Malfoy had known that Harry wouldn’t go public with the truth even when he found out that Malfoy was married, because Harry didn’t want it fucking getting out either. Poor Astoria, pregnant whilst her husband gallivants arounds Europe screwing old school rivals.

A groan escaped him, and Hermione’s sharp eyes turned to him.

“Did I tell you about Neville falling off the table? Think he nearly got concussed again,” Harry said loudly to change the subject. He started talking before Hermione could interrupt him about what was going on in his head. Harry didn’t know what was going on in his head, all he knew was that he was staying away from Draco sodding Malfoy for the rest of his life.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter One

Harry ducked into Brewer Brothers, a scowl already on his face. It had to be a new record. He had arrived at the Ministry approximately two minutes ago and was already pissed off.

The Prophet had to know that they had made no progress with the missing children. Three children missing between the ages of five and ten in the last three months, one a month. The latest one had vanished last week. And yet the absolute git of a reporter had felt the need to ask Harry what he thought about the situation. It was only by the skin of his teeth that Harry had refrained from telling the reporter exactly where he could stick his question, and that was only because Robards had lectured him on ‘the correct way to speak to reporters’ last week after Harry told one that he had better things to do than to be bothered by parasites when he was on duty.

Harry personally thought that Robards was being slightly hypocritical. Harry had once witnessed the Head Auror rant to a reporter they found lurking for ten minutes about where he would stick a copy of The Prophet if he saw any details leaked. However, Harry wasn’t stupid enough to fight with his superior on this.

Pick and choose your battles , Harry , Hermione always sighed. He was learning.

Harry fucking hated The Prophet . He was tempted to put The Prophet up there with good old Voldy on the list of biggest inconveniences of his life. He would rank the Prophet under Voldy and just above that annoying witch who worked at Brewer Brothers and always found a way to slip her phone number onto his coffee order. The time she’d used the cinnamon on top to spell it out had nearly been the breaking point for Harry; however, Brewers coffee was just so much better than the crap in the Auror office, so he soldiered on.

Harry would always be thankful to companies like MuggleMagic for bringing wizards out of the stone age and figuring out a way to merge magic and technology. Being an Auror was a lot easier when you could either track someone’s mobile phone, text coordinates, or just call when you needed help (owls and Patronuses were hardly subtle after all). And the Wizarding Web. Oh, the creation of the Wizarding Web was a moment Harry wanted to mark down in history. Being able to use Summoning to find an answer on the Web instead of having to text Hermione was a lifesaver.

Harry recited these positives to himself as he gave giggling Holly his order and waited to see how she would attempt to hand out her number today.

Harry’s phone vibrated in his jeans pockets, but he refused to pull it out. He had learnt the hard way that showing Holly that he did indeed own a phone only encouraged her. Harry had once tried to pretend otherwise, but seeing as Holly did work in the Ministry, even if it was just in the Brewer’s coffee branch in the Atrium, she was aware that all Aurors were issued state of the art phones from MuggleMagic, so that excuse had just been an awkward failure.

Pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose, Harry grabbed his coffee, swiped his Gringotts card (another godsend of Muggle technology in the wizarding world), and turned to run as far away  from Holly as he could get. He was sure she was a lovely girl, it was just his patience for fangirls and boys had run out somewhere around his sixth year at Hogwarts, and it hadn’t improved in the ten or so years since.

Once safely out of Brewers and back into the Atrium, Harry opened the lid and spotted the floating marshmallows on top spelling out the number. Marshmallows. He hadn’t even asked for marshmallows and now they were melting into his coffee! He Vanished the marshmallows with a groan.

“Breaking hearts again, Harry?” The familiar jolly tone of Romilda Vane had Harry glancing up with a rueful grin.

“Marshmallows,” he said, as she peered into his now marshmallow-free cup.

“Creative, I like it,” she smiled.

Romilda judging Holly’s attempts was part of Harry’s morning routine too. Romilda considered herself something of an ‘ expert’ — her own words —  at failed Harry Potter seductions. Harry had tried to argue that Ginny’s Valentine’s song in second year was actually the original failed seduction of Harry Potter, but Romilda always waved him off.

Harry had felt exceptionally awkward the first time he bumped into Romilda in the Ministry. What were you supposed to say to the girl who tried to drug you back in sixth year? However, Romilda had walked straight up to him and apologised, saying that she now understood how fucked up that was. Since then they’d become not quite friends, but something near it. They always stopped to talk if they saw each other around the Ministry, not that they saw each other much outside of Brewers. Romilda was a secretary in the Department of Mysteries, and Harry stayed as far from there as he could.

“Busy day ahead?” Romilda asked as Harry sipped his coffee.

“Yep, these people don’t find them-fucking-selves it turns out,” Harry grumbled. Everyone at the Auror Department had a slightly dark sense of humour, it was the easiest way to cope.

Romilda laughed, “And these coffees won’t order themselves.”

“I can’t believe your boss won’t get their own coffee,” Harry snorted.

Romilda shrugged, “I don’t mind getting it for them.”

Harry just rolled his eyes. He was pretty sure that if he asked his secretary Martha to get him a coffee, she would get it and then deliberately spill it in his lap. Or throw it in his face… Harry didn’t mind that though. He preferred Martha who wouldn’t have given a shit if he were The Boy Who Lived Thrice ; he would just be irritating Junior Auror Potter to her who hated doing paperwork and was too impulsive in the field. Martha was a much better secretary than the first one they’d given him when he was promoted to Junior Auror. Harry had been pretty sure he was going to kill Jack and his neverending stream of praise.

“Oh, Junior Auror Potter how smart you are for figuring that clue out!”

“Junior Auror Potter your wand work is incredible!”

“Junior Auror Potter is there anything you can’t do?”

“Junior Auror Potter would you like me to physically lick your fucking arse whilst I insert my head up there?”

Perhaps Harry had come up with the last one but it was pretty fucking close to what Jack was like. Robards had finally accepted that Harry needed a new secretary after Jack was found to be keeping copies of classified documents because he wanted something Harry had signed.

Harry had been glad to see the back of Jack before they were both sent to St Mungos because Jack had wedged his head so far up Harry’s arse that it had to magically removed.

“Dark hair?” Harry called after Romilda as she walked into Brewers, her laugh was the only answer he got. Bloody Department of Mysteries and their secrets. He couldn’t believe Romilda couldn’t even reveal who she worked for without authorisation. Auror work was secret enough for Harry.

Once safely in his office, Harry pulled out his phone to check his message  and was glad to see it was just Hermione confirming that he was good for dinner this weekend, as she had managed to get Saturday night off from St Mungos. She clearly didn’t trust Ron to remember to double-check.

Harry didn’t think he could have taken it if the text had been from Robards summoning him to his office first thing in the morning to ask for an update on the lost children yet. Harry needed at least three coffees in him before he could tolerate that.

“Morning, sunshine.”

Harry glanced up at the sound of Martha’s voice and gestured for her to come in. It was a pretty pointless gesture, seeing as she had been halfway into the room already by the time she had felt the need to make her presence known.

“Morning, Martha,” Harry said as he sorted through the documents that had arrived in his invoice tray since last night. His fingers skimmed the top of a document with a full description of the people who had been caught on the Muggle security cameras while walking past the school on the day the latest child had gone missing.

It wasn’t unheard of for wizarding children to go missing. There were always people in the world who were sick enough to take a child from their family, or sometimes children just got lost and never found their way home. It was rare, but it wasn’t unheard of.

Harry had spent enough time in the Auror archives in the last month poring over old cases of missing wizarding children to know that. The last influx of missing children had been during the first wizarding war, but it had been put down to Death Eaters and Voldemort, even though some of the children were pure-bloods. The children were never found. However, even then it had never happened like this, with one child vanishing at the beginning of each month.

Once was a tragedy. Twice was a coincidence. Thrice was a pattern.

A pattern that even the Prophet had caught onto.

All three children were between the ages of five and ten but had been taken from different locations at different times of day. The one constant was the first of the month.

Harry spun around on his chair and gazed up at the photos stuck to his wall, seeing their faces smiling down at him. One of the children gave him a friendly wave. Fucking fuckity fuck. Harry groaned and buried his head in his hands.

“Someone climbed out the wrong side of the Floo this morning,” Martha clucked, “Smith wants to speak to you.”

“Smith can suck me,” Harry grumbled, Summoning the memory he had collected from the interview with Annabel’s parents when she was first reported missing.

Annabel Martin. Seven years old. Daughter of Isaac Martin and Felicity Martin. Half-blood. Blonde hair, dark skin, brown eyes.

“Smith wants to speak to you because as he’s the PR manager for the Auror Department he needs to assure the public that they do not need to lock up their kids on the first of every month if children keep going missing,” Martha continued, as if she hadn’t heard Harry.

Pulling the portable Pensive out of his desk drawer, Harry scowled. “And why do I have to be involved?”

“Because not only are you the lead on this case, you are apparently the all-powerful Chosen One and the so-called Saviour of the wizarding world, and it puts parents at rest to know that Harry Potter is on the lookout for their missing kids,” Martha said, levelling him a harsh look.

Harry understood what she was saying, and he did want to do everything he could to ensure that people weren’t scared out of their wits that there was a serial kidnapper on the loose. However, Harry hated having to deal with Zacharias Smith. Like really hated having to deal with Zacharias Smith. Harry once had pleaded and begged Terry to let Harry do all of his paperwork for a month, just so that Harry could get out of having to deal with Smith about the controversial potions bust a couple of years back. The problem was that Terry was a Ravenclaw and enjoyed the paperwork. Terry also had a special system for doing his paperwork that Harry didn’t understand or care to learn.

You could take the wizards out of Hogwarts, but you could never take Hogwarts out of the wizards.

The house system had changed now. Hermione had insisted upon it and used her spare time to work with McGonagall in the years after the war to create a way of keeping the houses and what they stood for but changing the system they worked in. They couldn’t risk the chance of what happened in Slytherin house — a place where people’s poisonous views were allowed to grow and prosper with noone to stomp them out —  happening again. Hermione argued the risks of creating an environment lacking in diversity of thought. So now young witches and wizards were still sorted into their houses, but the Hat also sorted them into four-person dormitories with one student from each house to encourage a more well-rounded and inclusive lifestyle.

It seemed to be working fantastically.

“You think I’m all-powerful?” Harry grinned at Martha who rolled her eyes.

“I think you’re an idiot.”

“I’m your boss!”

Martha raised her eyebrows, and Harry cowered. “The statement still stands. Anyway, you’re seeing Smith at eleven. Robards is joining you for the Daily Management Meeting at three, and Auror Chang says to pop down to the labs before that because she thinks she’s picked up a familiar trace.”

“Hopefully they’re getting sloppy,” Harry sighed, turning back around and pouring the memory into the Pensieve. Martha just hummed in response. Harry didn’t think whomever was taking these kids was getting sloppy either, but he could hope.

Plunging his face into the cool liquid, Harry watched as the memory began to take form.

He saw himself marching up to the Martins’ front door, Auror robes crumpled and his hair just as messy as usual. His stubble was thicker than normal, and Harry knew it was because he had been out clubbing the night before. He had been expecting an easy day at the office: poring over memories, tibets and sightings, trying desperately to find an invisible trail. Trying to see if the two children that had gone missing were linked. Two children going missing on the first of the month in a row was just seemed like an unhappy coincidence at that point. It was the call earlier that afternoon that confirmed there was a pattern, with another child gone.

The Martins lived in a respectable Muggle area in Manchester in a smart looking three-story townhouse with a deep blue door and a gold knocker. The knocker was the only sign that wizards could live in the residence, as it was a shining phoenix. Memory-Harry brushed his fingers against the phoenix knocker, memories of Dumbledore and Fawkes swirling to the surface. Harry gave himself  another couple of seconds for nostalgia as the phoenix, responding to the touch of his magic, unfurled its wings and smiled up at Memory Harry.

“Hullo,” Memory-Harry murmured, as the phoenix preened at his touch. The knocker was a startlingly beautiful magical object with intricate carvings and red jewelled eyes. “Will it hurt you if I use you to knock?” The phoenix shook its head, but Harry felt weird using it anyway, so he raised his fist and knocked twice.

Memory-Harry gave the phoenix a final stroke and stepped back, watching as it returned to its resting position.

Harry gazed at the knocker again. Maybe he ought to get a cool door knocker; Grimmauld Place could do with something like that, and with the Fidelius charm only wizards would be able to see it anyway, so the knocker wouldn’t have to pretend to be non-magic most of the time...

The door opened to reveal a timid, dark-skinned lady with huge brown eyes. Harry would later learn that her daughter had the same eyes.

“Harry Potter!” Felicity Martin gasped.

Memory-Harry’s jaw twitched, and Harry saw himself smooth down his Auror robes. “Junior Auror Potter actually, and I’m here about the report of your daughter Annabel Martin going missing.”

Felicity’s bottom lip trembled, and Harry saw the stiffness slide out of his face as the woman burst into tears and Memory Harry moved forward to comfort her.

Isaac Martin, a lean, pale Muggle man, appeared at the commotion, his brow furrowed with worry.

Harry followed his memory self and the Martins into the kitchen where Isaac sat his wife down and started preparing cups of tea for them all.

Harry had watched this memory more times than he could count, but he was still struck by the raw vulnerability on the parents’ faces as he watched his memory-self explain to Aurors’ current hypothesis. They suspected foul play because it appeared to follow the pattern of the other two children that had vanished, but the Martins shouldn’t let the fact that neither of the other children had been found yet dishearten them. The Aurors were doing everything they could, and the children would be found.

Memory-Harry’s voice remained even and calm as he promised that he would do everything in his power to find the Martins’ little girl. Present-Harry had made the same promise to the first family about their son, and yet here he was two months later with nothing to show for it.

Felicity and Isaac told Memory Harry about how Isaac had taken Annabel to school on his way to work because Felicity left at six am every morning. It had been a normal day like any other until Isaac received a call from the school at two o’clock that afternoon informing him that Annabel had gone missing during lunch break, an hour ago, and no one had  been able to find her anywhere.

An hour. It was understandable the school had waited an hour to contact the parents, as they wouldn’t have wanted to worry them unnecessarily if Annabel were later found in the loos. The Muggles wouldn’t have known. They wouldn’t have understood that in an hour a wizard could travel around the world. In an hour a wizard could vanish.

Of course, since Annabel Martin attended a Muggle school there was a chance she had just been taken by a Muggle. However, it didn’t match the pattern. The other two children who had been taken were pure-bloods. Hektor Fawley attended a wizarding primary school, and Beatrice Travers had been home tutored and had vanished off the family grounds.

Harry pulled his head out of the Pensieve and let the memory slip away, since there was nothing else it could tell him. Anyway, seeing the heartbroken Martins was too painful for him.

Harry couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have your child vanish. The thought of Teddy going missing made him feel sick. He imagined Andromeda would tear up the world if her grandson were taken, and Harry would help her, yet they told these parents to sit there and let the Aurors do their jobs. Trust us , he told them.

Harry buried his head in his hands before turning back to the whiteboard. There had to be something they had missed. There had to be.

                                                  ***

Draco Malfoy was not having a good day so far.

He had arrived late to work because Scorpius had decided that breakfast was the perfect time to have an existential crisis.

“Daddy, why do I exist?” was not the question Draco needed to hear over his morning toast.

And apparently the answer of “Ask Gloria” was not satisfactory, because Scorpius had asked Gloria the other day and she had told him to ask Draco. Fucking useless elf.

Draco had stumbled his way through a brief summary of how the world had come to be, which he thought was fantastically well done for seven o’clock in the morning, leaving just enough time for him to drop Scorpius at pre-school on his way to the Ministry.

During the car journey Scorpius had then decided that Draco’s answer had been unsatisfactory and demanded to know why specifically he existed.

Draco thought any time of day would be too early to get into the fact that Scorpius only existed because Lucius Malfoy had forced Draco to marry Astoria Greengrass in a desperate bid to continue the Malfoy line and regain their former glory. Draco couldn’t and wouldn’t feed his son that spiel about how when two people love each other very much they blah blah blah because one, there had been no lost love between him and Astoria and two, that merged sex with love and Draco had never had sex with someone he loved.

Draco had never been in love.

So Draco had just gone with because Draco was the luckiest person alive . Scorpius had raised his brows at that but hadn’t questioned it. Draco knew that expression painfully well. It was one Narcissa often levelled Draco’s way.

It was true though, no matter how much he had resented Lucius at the time, Draco would do it all over again if it meant he got to have Scorpius. Draco understood why Astoria had walked away just a year after Scorpius was born when she had met someone she truly loved and moved to Paris. Draco didn’t begrudge her that. However, he could never walk away from his son.

By the time he had finally arrived at his desk after getting stuck in the traffic on the way to drop Scorpius off and get home again, Draco was late. Draco often cut his commute fine in his bid to get Scorpius to the wizarding primary school he attended, but he wouldn’t miss those morning car journeys for anything. Scorpius would chatter incessantly about what he was going to be doing at school that day, and Draco would be forced to consider whether he too had always been that chatty. Draco wished he could pick Scorpius up from school too, but his hours didn’t allow for that, so Scorpius was either picked up by Gloria and taken back to the house, or he’d attend Luna Lovegood’s childminders until either Gloria or Draco picked him up.

Draco had no qualms about seeing Luna. In fact, he quite enjoyed seeing her now that they had moved past that nasty business with her being imprisoned in the Manor. However, Ginny Weasley, Luna’s girlfriend, had a tendency to glower at Draco whenever they crossed paths, so Draco tried to schedule his visits to align with Harpies Quidditch practices.

He had a slight feeling that Potter may have told Weasley about that nasty little business back when they were younger in Nice, which was admittedly not Draco’s finest moment.

Perhaps yes, he shouldn’t have lied and told Potter that he and Astoria were meant to be getting a divorce when the only reason he was out in Nice getting pissed in a French bar was as a ‘celebration’ (mock-funeral) of Astoria’s pregnancy. At the time Draco  hadn’t foreseen how much he would come to love that bundle of cells.

And perhaps yes and more importantly, he shouldn’t have been cheating on his wife,  but it was Potter, and Potter had wanted him. Potter who had always driven Draco absolutely mad. Potter who had been Draco’s rival from day one back at Hogwarts. That very same Potter had wanted him . So yes, Draco had been selfish and cowardly, but no shock there.

Draco pushed away all thoughts of bright green eyes, messy dark hair and tanned skin from his mind. It didn’t do him well to dwell on Potter.

By the time Draco had arrived at the Ministry, his coffee was cold and he had multiple notes building up from the Wraith twins, both demanding that he come and see them immediately because they had made a so-called life-changing discovery.

The Wraith twins were far too fascinated by dark magic, and Draco was the Head of the Dark Magic Study in the Department of Mysteries. A thankless job that he hadn’t wanted.

Draco picked up a document about an increase of dark magic levels being registered across Britain. Dahlia had invented the measuring devices, and the Ministry had gone crazy for them, putting them up across Britain where they just registered the kind of magic being used. No invasion of privacy, just a blanket count of the frequencies that magic use was giving off. Dark magic had a particularly high and poignant frequency.

Draco’s speciality was dark spells: the creation, deconstruction and prevention of dark spells, to be specific. Draco had had a more dark magic focused education than any wizard in England and probably Europe. Even Durmstrang wouldn’t teach some of the curses that Bellatrix and Doloholv had taught him as a boy. So he did his work, and then it was fed back to the Aurors so they could remain one step ahead of dark wizards.

The Wraith twins though, they weren’t there because the Ministry had strong-armed them into it. They loved it.

Dahlia looked at dark magic in the same way Bellatrix had, as something inspiring awe. However, because she was also a lot saner than Draco’s aunt, she also saw it as something to fear. Dahlia could take apart dark magic objects and understand what made them tick in a way no one else could. She could build defence systems incorporating dark magic so that Aurors were so well-defended certain spells couldn’t even touch them.

Dashiel, however, wasn’t an inventor like his sister. Dashiel couldn’t take apart the magic itself, but rather minds. Draco had never met such a powerful Legilimens in his life. Severus Snape, Bellatrix and the Dark Lord himself wouldn’t have stood a chance against Dashiel if he wanted. Draco himself was an extremely talented Occlumens, and keeping Dashiel at bay required all of his attention. Dashiel could tiptoe into a person’s mind and pick up their thoughts, bend them to his will and walk out without the person even knowing he had entered. That wasn’t even to mention his Occlumency: the man’s mind was a fortress. It was no wonder the Ministry had snatched him up and put him in charge of studying how dark magic works with the mind.

“Romilda, did Ross send me the latest lab results of the magical residue that spell left?” Draco said into the wizphone. The entire Ministry was connected by wizphones, which was admittedly a lot easier than charming pieces of paper to fly about.

“He did not, do you want me to remind him?”

“Yes, please. Also remind the Wraiths of the definition of life-changing and only have them contact me if it fits.”

“Can’t you remind them yourself?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be my secretary?”

The corner of Draco’s mouth curled up at the sound of Romilda’s huff of laughter. “It’s because they’re afraid of me, isn’t it?”

Afraid was the wrong word in Draco’s opinion. More like head-over-heels in love with. Watching the Wraith twins compete for Romilda’s affections tended to cheer him up no matter how bad his day was going. Maybe he would summon them to his office and watch them interact with Romilda to amuse himself.

“It’s because it’s your job,” Draco said firmly, “and yes please get Ross to send me the samples as soon as possible.”

Romilda let out another huff of amusement, and Draco knew she was rolling her eyes at him. “Of course, anything else?”

“That’s all for now, thank you,” Draco said before hanging up the phone and glaring at the never-ending pile of paperwork on his desk. All he wanted to do was get into his lab and dissect the magic residue left over by this new dark spell, but no, Ross couldn’t send up the results, that would be far too useful. No, if Draco wanted something done well he had to do it himself, or at least give it to Romilda or the Wraith twins. He didn’t trust anyone at the Ministry outside of his own Department.

***

Draco paused outside the door to the meeting room and took a brief second to smooth his hair back and adjust his suit. He hadn’t had time to run back to his office and put his heavy black Unspeakable robes on by the time Romilda had run into the lab informing him that he didn’t need to worry, but he was due up in meeting room six in two minutes by the summons of Head Auror Robards.

Sometimes Draco was tempted to find a better secretary, but then he remembered that it would be unfair to fire Romilda for the one mistake she did after the a thousand and one things she did right, so he kept her around. That, and not that he would ever say it out loud, he liked her company.

He straightened the blue silk tie that Pansy had bought him from New York last Christmas and walked inside the door. Romilda had said she didn’t know what Robards wanted, only they had found something that could require his level of expertise in the dark arts in an ongoing investigation.

The entire thing was extremely mysterious and so typically useless-Aurors that Draco could only despair. Did they really just expect him to drop everything at their notice and not even have the courtesy to explain what they needed him for? Of course they did. Everyone knew the Aurors were the most arrogant lot in the Ministry.

Draco pushed open the door keeping his head high, and trying to swallow the feeling that he was walking into a lion’s den.

“You have got to be shiting me?”

It turned out Draco had walked into a literal lion’s den.

Draco’s blood ran cold and he tilted his chin up, composing his features into a blank, professional mask. He could rise above Potter’s childishness. Perhaps yes, they hadn’t spoken since the incident in Nice, and perhaps Draco had taken to hiding from Potter – which was understandable and not at all cowardly because Potter had taken to levelling glares at Draco that made him feel like Voldemort’s dirty remains. However, it had been seven years, and Potter needed to get over it.

“That is no way to address Unspeakable Malfoy, Potter,” Robards heavy sigh sounded, Draco focused his attention on the Head Auror.

“You requested my presence, Head Auror Robards?” Draco said, forcing his voice to remain steady. It was easier if he didn’t look over to where voice Potter’s had sounded.

“What is he doing here?” Potter hissed to whomever was beside him. Draco’s jaw tightened. Honestly, could Potter not even pretend to be an adult for one second?

“Harry,” Robards voice dropped to a dangerously low octave, and surely even Potter wasn’t stupid enough to push his boss further on this. Then again, if anyone was going to do something to make Draco redefine his definition of stupid, it was Potter. “Please take a seat, Mr Malfoy.”

Draco straightened his waistcoat and took a seat at the table, letting his eyes take in the rest of the room. Cho Chang’s and Terry Boot’s tense faces greeted him, Draco nodded at them both. Finally, Draco’s eyes fell on Potter, who was sprawled in his seat in such a painfully unprofessional and casual way. Whose dark hair was as messy as always and Draco hated the way his body remembered the scrape of that dark stubble. Potter’s bright eyes flashed at Draco, and his mouth twisted into a nasty scowl.

Keeping his face impassive, Draco gave Potter a respectful nod of greeting before turning back to Head Auror Robards, who was looking at them both with something akin to exasperation.

“Before I start, this is an extremely serious case, Malfoy, and it is the Aurors top priority right now. Whatever history there is between you and Junior Auror Potter from your school days, I want it left in the past.”

“Of course. I am professional,” Draco said, ignoring Potter’s scoff. Draco and Robards were technically both of equal status, seeing as they were both heads of their respective departments within wider departments, The Department of Mysteries for Draco and the Department of Magical Law Enforcement for Robards.

“And you, Potter?” Robards said, glaring over at Potter.

There was a sulky silence, and something that sounded like either Boot or Chang kicked Potter before Potter let out a terse, “It’s in the past.”

“Good.” Robards tapped his fingers on the desk before flicking his wand and sending a pile of folders to Draco. The orange folders sat in front of him, labelled Amber Alert – Classified . Draco wanted to pick them up and devour whatever information the Auror department needed his help with, but he kept himself calm. He merely raised an eyebrow at Robards, gesturing for him to go on. “As you’re aware, this month marks the third time that a child has gone missing on the first day on the month.” Robards let his words hang in the air.

Draco was aware. He had been aware from the second Beatrice Travers had been taken from her family home. The Travers family had Death Eater ties and pure-blood roots as deep-set as the Malfoys. Draco was not taking the risk that little Beatrice had been abducted out of revenge and something similar could happen to Scorpius. Draco was doing everything he could to keep his son safe short of locking him up.

“I’m aware,” Draco said. The Prophet was having the Auror departments bollocks’ on a plate for it. Pansy was having a brilliant time. The thought of Pansy reminded him that he needed to invite his old friends over for dinner. It was his turn this month after all. “I don’t see what a missing children investigation has to do with me, though.” For a brief moment, that paranoia he could never let go of sparked, and he panicked at the thought they were going to try pin the missing children on him. He took a breath and pushed the thoughts aside, ensuring his Occlumency walls were firmly in place. Robards was no natural Legilimens, but Draco knew he had a few tricks up his sleeve.

Draco didn’t have anything to hide, but prejudice against the mark on his arm ran deep in the Ministry beyond the Dark Arts Department. The Aurors hated him more than anyone, aside from the Muggle Liaison Department, but Draco had very little to do with them.

“I found something on the outfit that the latest child, Annabel Martin, had been wearing the day before she was taken. It appeared the family hadn’t had time to do the washing for the week and it’s on all of her outfits actually.” Chang said. Draco turned in the direction of her voice. She was a very pretty girl. Chang exchanged a glance with Potter, who nodded at her to go on. Potter had a thing with her in fifth year, Draco remembered. He wished he didn’t remember facts about Potter’s time at school quite so vividly.

“A magical signature, woven into the fabric of the clothes. It’s lost, fainter on the older clothes since time has passed. It gives off a signal.It’s very clever actually. It suggests that whoever took her had really thought it through if it's from them.” Chang paused and focused her large doe eyes on Draco.

Draco could see exactly where this was going, but he was going to make the Aurors work for it.

“I understand, but why do you need me?”

Potter muttered something under his breath, and Draco resisted the childish urge in him that wanted to either insult Potter or reach over and hit him.

“The frequency of the magic isn’t one I recognise. It appears to have darker roots. It’s something strange,” Chang continued.

Draco’s curiosity was well and truly piqued. An unknown magical frequency with darker roots; Dahlia would wet herself with excitement.

“And you want me and my team to identify the magic?” Draco asked, fingers brushing over the documents. They had given him too much information for it to be that simple.

“I want you to join Junior Auror Potter as co-Head of the investigation.”

“What?” Potter spluttered, and even Draco lost his cool for a moment, leaning forward and frowning at Robards.

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand?” Draco said slowly, not daring to look over at Potter. He could feel that static electricity of magic and knew Potter was working to keep his in control. Prolonged exposure to dark magic had left Draco finely in-tune with how magic in the world felt. Potter’s was wild.

Robards scowled at them both. “I thought you said you could both be professional?”

Draco personally thought it was rather unprofessional for Robards to just throw something like this at them both, but he bit his tongue. He had become a lot better at biting his tongue over the years, and his childhood tendency to speak before he thought had been squashed about the same time Voldemort decided to take up residence in his home. His parents may be fine with remaining in the Manor, but Draco had left the second he could.

His father kept going on about how Draco would have to take up residence as head of the Manor when Lucius was gone, and Draco was fine to let him go on believing that. By the time his father was really gone, Draco would be free of the burden as Malfoy heir. The Manor could burn for all he cared.

He and Scorpius lived in a delightful country house in East Sussex that had no obnoxious portraits, no dark objects and no memories of Dark Lords and Death Eaters. Draco had grown up in a museum and he wanted a better life for his son.

I can be,” Draco said, levelling Potter a firm look.

Potter loudly snorted this time, “You?”

“What, because you know me so well do you, Potter?” Draco sneered, his lip curling up almost in a reflex. “How long has it been since we spoke again? I’ve forgotten.”

Potter’s eyes flashed and that childish glee at being petty to Potter flared in Draco. Potter clenched his fists on the table, and Draco felt an increase in the magic electricity in the air. “Not long enough,” Potter forced out.

Draco hummed and turned back to Robards, determined to ignore Potter. “I don’t think this is the best idea for your case. I am happy to do everything I can to help identify this unknown magic trace, but I think asking Potter and me to work together will damage your case.”

“My apologies, but I don’t care Malfoy,” Robards said.

Draco bristled, “I am not one of your Aurors, Robards, you can’t just command me to do what you.”

“I have spoken to the Minister herself, as well as Croaker and Kingsley, who are all of our superiors, and they have agreed that we want the two of you heading the investigation.

“But-” Potter let out feebly. The electricity in the room was starting to fade.

“No buts Potter, you two are going to work together on this. This is bigger than some schoolboy feud. This is missing children we are talking about, and we suspect Dark Art fanatics to be involved.” Draco wondered how much more would be in the files that they weren’t telling him now. Everything in the Ministry seemed clear on the surface until you dared to look underneath.

Robards continued, “Malfoy, I want your team brought in and working with Potter’s team.”

Draco nodded. The Wraith twins would literally wet themselves in excitement at this.

“Malfoy read the files, inform your team and meet back here tomorrow to discuss anything with Junior Auror Potter. From tomorrow morning, I want your full efforts on this case. We are finding those children and putting the sick fucks in Azkaban where they belong. All clear?”

Draco nodded and pulled the files closer to him. “Is that all for now?”

“Yes.”

Draco nodded for a third time, finding himself at a loss for words. He was pretty sure his shitty day couldn’t get much shitter if it tried. Forced to work in close proximity with Potter… Merlin help him. Offering the group a tight lipped smile, Draco stood up and marched out of the room trying to ignore the flurry of shouts that started before the door fully shut behind him. I will not strangle Harry fucking Potter , he chanted in his head on repeat as he stormed back to his lab.

****

Harry could do this. Harry could be mature. Harry could resist the urge to hex Malfoy on sight. Excluding waking up with a killer headache after a night spent drinking gin and bitching to Ginny and Ron about Malfoy and his audacity to agree to sign onto the case, Harry’s day had gotten off to a decent start. Kreacher had woken him up with bacon and eggs, which had been a pleasant surprise, and Harry hadn’t even berated Kreacher that they had agreed no serving meals unless Harry requested it.

Then to make matters better, Harry stormy expression clearly had scared off coffee shop-Holly and she had refrained from giving him her number today. He had wanted to tell Romilda, but she was nowhere to be seen, which was strange. Perhaps her boss had finally managed to get their own coffee.

Harry was 100 percent certain that things would be fine. Hermione had arrived mid-Malfoy rant and tried to talk him down. She had reasoned that Malfoy was a professional and as a father, would be thinking of the children. Ron had just argued that Malfoy was a git, and Ginny fantasied about hexing his dick off. As she had had to do seven years ago when it came out that Malfoy had lied to Harry about getting divorced – Harry had ended up drunkenly confessing to the shag one night – Hermione had talked them all out of trying to hex the man who specialised in dark spells. As much as it irritated Harry, she had a point.

Pushing open the door to the incident room Robards had assigned them, Harry instantly spotted the white head of hair bent low over a desk. Harry’s eyes most certainly did not go to Malfoy’s tight, perky arse. Malfoy’s hair was such an obnoxious colour, he definitely dyed it. No one had that kind of colour naturally. Harry smirked at the image of the Malfoy family with their personal hair stylists, all three of them sitting in that anally rigid way that they did.

“Hey, Harry,” Terry waved from where he was sat at one of the desks, his paperwork spread out around him in what Harry had no doubt was an organised way .

“Hey, Terry,” Harry said, forcing a grin as he walked into the room and chucking his now-empty coffee cup in the bin. “Hello, Malfoy.”

Malfoy, who had frozen at Terry’s greeting, slowly stood up and turned around, back ramrod straight. “Potter, nice of you to finally show up.”

Harry scowled as he glanced at the clock; he was right on time.

“He’s not late, we’re just early,” a voice drawled from the corner. “Nice to meet you, Junior Auror Potter.”

Turning towards the voice, Harry smirked at the way Malfoy’s mouth tightened into a scowl. In the corner was a scruffy looking man with messy midnight blue hair and dark skin. There was the pointy Unspeakable hat abandoned on his desk and his robes were on the floor beside him. He was extremely good-looking in a hauntingly beautiful way, Harry noted. He sat completely still, head cocked as he stared at Harry, mouth curling up in a smile.

“You’re not too bad-looking yourself,” the man said.

Harry frowned. He was pretty sure he hadn’t said that out loud? Had he said it out loud? Was he still drunk? He was pretty sure he wasn’t still drunk.

“Drinking on the job, tsk tsk,” the man said, and Harry heard Malfoy snicker.

“Dash, get out his head,” a female voice laughed, and Harry spun around to see a striking brunette with thick dark curls smiling. She was the only Unspeakable wearing the hat.

The man laughed again, “He’s projecting.”

“I’m sorry, but what the fuck?” Harry managed to splutter, rounding on Malfoy, who was staring at the pair with a look of exasperated fondness. Harry had never seen Malfoy look fond of anyone before.

“Potter, Boot, meet the Wraith twins,” Malfoy said, gesturing. “Dahlia here is an expert in Dark objects and Dashiel is a Legilimens. You’ll want to work on your Occlumency, Potter.” There was something akin to a sneer on Malfoy’s lips, but it was softer, almost purely amused.

Harry rubbed his temples and scowled. “I don’t like having people in my head.”

“Work on your Occlumency then,” Malfoy shrugged as if it was just that easy. As if Harry hadn’t tried Occlumency and failed. Harry remembered overhearing Snape remarking in sixth year that Malfoy had learnt Occlumency from Bellatrix. It was obviously a family talent.

“Or keep him out of my head,” Harry shot back.

Dashiel cleared his throat, his eyebrows raised as he regarded Harry and Malfoy. Harry didn’t like the way Dashiel looked at him as if he were a bug under a microscope. “I’m not in your head, per se. You’re a very emotional person if you don’t mind me saying Harry. Can I call you Harry? And because of the strength of your emotions, your thoughts are a lot louder than others who don’t feel things as strongly as you do. And yes, with Occlumency you’d be able to stop projecting your thoughts, but if I wanted to get into your head, you wouldn’t be able to stop me.” Dashiel leaned back on his chair, still regarding Harry curiously.

“This is why no one ever likes us,” Dahlia sighed, fingers tapping at the desk.

“Draco likes us,” Dashiel said, nodding over at his boss.

The corner of Malfoy’s mouth twitched, “Debatable.”

Harry swallowed. The Department of Mysteries did house some freaks. He froze, and Dashiel shrugged.

“I’ve been called worse.”

Part of Harry wanted to apologise, and the other part was too irritated that his thoughts were being broadcasted for Malfoy’s colleagues to know. Fucking Malfoy.

Clearing his throat, Harry made his way over to the only desk left in the room and dumped his stuff. “I presume you read over the files and filled your team in, Malfoy,” he asked. He would be civil. He would be professional. He would not get called into Robards’s office for hexing Malfoy only a few minutes into working together. He ignored Dashiel’s snicker. “Do you have any questions?”

“When can I get into the lab?” Dahlia asked, fingers still drumming on the desk to an out-of-beat rhythm. “I want to see this magical signature.”

“Find Cho and have her show it to you,” Harry said. “I’m presuming you’ll be wanting your lab?”

Dahlia nodded, “It’s way better than the Aurors’, no offense.”

“Fair enough, you can do that now.”

“Should I take mind-reader extraordinaire over here to speak to the school teacher again, just in case there’s something she wasn’t telling us?” Terry suggested, looking up finally from his paper work.

“Isn’t it unethical to use a Legilimens on a witness against their consent?” Harry frowned. He felt uncomfortable violating the woman’s mind like that without her even having a clue.

Terry shrugged. “She’s a Muggle so it’s not like she’ll know, and if everything’s being projected, it’s not such a violation.”

Harry rubbed the bridge of his nose, pushing his glasses back up. “I suppose it can’t hurt.”

“Nice,” Terry grinned, stretching out his long legs and climbing to his feet. “Let’s get going.”

Dashiel and Dahlia exchanged a look before turning to Malfoy who nodded at them before turning back to organising his own desk. They seemed to respect him fully. Harry was used to seeing people show Malfoy respect and follow his every word. That had been Crabbe and Goyle at Hogwarts, even Parkinson to an extent. Zabini, that day in the train carriage, was only Slytherin Harry had ever seen show contempt towards Malfoy.

However, the respect Dashiel and Dahlia showed Malfoy wasn’t the kind of mindless minions, but of something akin to friendship. Harry hadn’t even known that someone like Malfoy could have friends.

“You can’t hear me, can you?” Harry heard Terry saying as he and Dashiel walked out the room, Dahlia laughing behind them.

Slumping down at his chair, Harry became aware that without Terry and the Wraith twins that left just Malfoy and him in the room. Just Malfoy and him. They hadn’t been alone together since that night.

“Must be annoying having to watch your thoughts the whole time,” Harry said, trying desperately to break the heavy silence that had fallen between the two of them. Hermione had told him to be civil. He could be civil.

Malfoy started and glanced around the room as if he hadn’t noticed that it was just the two of them. “My Occlumency is good enough, I don’t have to worry about it,” he said.

Harry bristled. “Well good for you. I don’t like it.”

“Learn Occlumency then,” Malfoy said blankly.

Harry scowled. He wasn’t very well admitting to Malfoy that he sucked at Occlumency. He had signed up for a refreshers class during his Auror training and gotten nowhere. He just couldn’t empty his mind. He couldn’t compartmentalise his emotions.

“What do you think of the case?” Harry asked, switching the subject before he chucked his pen at Malfoy’s pointy face.

Malfoy hummed and turned to face one of the large whiteboards that was in the incident room. “There’s certainly a pattern, three children missing at the first of the month. My first thought was werewolves, perhaps.”

Harry scoffed, of course Malfoy’s first thought was one of prejudice. Hermione would have a fit to learn that people still thought of werewolves as wild feral beasts.

Malfoy’s mouth tightened. “Did you ask for my opinion or not?”

Harry scowled but gestured for Malfoy to go on. He knew logically that they did need to look at the case from all angles, and werewolves stealing children and raising them to be part of a pack wasn’t a bizarre theory when you had grown up on stories of Fenrir Greyback. Harry just didn’t like it.

“However, I find it very unlikely that werewolves would put such effort into tracking the children they were going to steal. I haven’t had much time to analyse the magic sample Chang gave me yesterday, but she was right, the magic doesn’t match any of the frequencies established so far. I tried to find the spells that were built into it, but I couldn’t on the first glance.”

Why had they bothered bringing Malfoy in then? Apart from to be a royal pain in Harry’s arse.

“Of course the blend of technology and magic is more Dahlia’s specialty, so I’m sure she’ll figure it out. The intelligence of the magic’s design suggests that these kidnappings were planned long before the first child was taken. So we’re looking for either an individual or a group smart enough to invent a piece of magical technology that is supposed to dissolve before it can be found.”

“Or someone rich enough to purchase it on the black market,” Harry said.

Malfoy picked up the whiteboard pen and scrawled down rich and smart at opposite sides of the board. “Then we have to discern what they want from the children. Are they selling them on? Is it an illegal adoption agency?” Malfoy kept writing things on the board. His writing was spiked and almost illegible. Harry would have presumed it would be neat.

“Why the first of the month if they’re just selling on wizard kids?” Harry asked, leaning back on his chair and pushing his glasses back up his nose.

Malfoy sucked on the end of the pen, and Harry refused to acknowledge that he found Malfoy attractive. Malfoy was pointy and weirdly pale. A sudden panic hit him. He would have to keep all thoughts of his and Malfoy’s time in Nice out of his head around Dashiel Wraith or the Legilimens would know far more than Harry or Draco would want about their past.

“It could be a ritual?”

Harry let his chair fall back to the floor, brow furrowed. “A ritual?”

Malfoy’s jaw tightened. “It’s a possibility. This may come as a shock to you, but I’m not actually well-versed in the sacrificing of children. But that doesn't mean those rituals don’t exist, and as Head of the Dark Arts Department, it is my role to know about them.”

Jesus, Malfoy was chippy.

Harry scowled. “I never said you went around sacrificing children.” Admittedly back at school if someone had come up to him and said hey, I think Malfoy’s sacrificing first-year Muggle-borns , Harry probably wouldn’t have been that surprised.

Malfoy sneered. “You’re thinking it.”

“Please tell me you’re not a Legilimens as well,” Harry groaned, dropping his head into his hands.

“Aha! So you were thinking it!”

“Can you blame me?”

Malfoy’s face spasmed slightly and he tilted his chin up, composing his features back into that Unspeakable mask. Something akin to guilt bloomed in Harry for throwing Malfoy’s past in his face nearly ten years after the war had ended. Harry still didn’t apologise for it.

“In answer to your question, I’m a Legilimens in the sense that I could enter your mind if I chose to, but it has to be a conscious move. I can’t just hear your thoughts,” Malfoy said stiffly, capping the pen and moving to walk away from the whiteboard. “The Legilimency spell can be altered for great use with the Dark Arts, so it falls under my specialty.” Malfoy pulled those thick black robes on that he had hung on the door, and placed the pointy hat onto his head.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to my lab. Please do feel free to contact my secretary if you need me, her number is 00665.”

And with that Malfoy stalked out of the room leaving Harry alone. Harry knew he shouldn’t have pushed Malfoy. Malfoy’s speciality in the Dark Arts had opened this case up to possibilities that Harry hadn’t considered.

Rituals. He supposed it was time to head into the Ministry archives and find out everything he could about child sacrifices.

***

Harry was going mental by the time he finally accepted defeat and rung the number he had scrawled on the back of his hand for Draco’s secretary. He had made a decent dent into the files on rituals, but he didn’t know what he was supposed to be looking for. He needed to know more about what type of magic they should be investigating first. He hadn’t even bothered to open the fertility rituals magic book.

Harry was running on the presumption that if one were stealing children for rituals, they probably weren’t the fluffy kind that involved helping crops grow.

Harry collapsed into his office chair and dialled the number listening to it ring.

“Hello, Romilda Vane here-”

“Romilida!” Harry blurted out. Romilda worked for Draco Malfoy?

“Oh, hey, Harry! Draco told me I should look out for your call. What do you need?”

“What makes you think I need help?”

Harry couldn’t see Romilda but he could picture her raised eyebrows.

“Something Draco said.”

Harry did not want to know what Malfoy’s exact words were after how they had parted earlier.

“Urm yeah, I’m researching, but I kind of need to know more about what kind of magic I’m meant to be researching before I can research well, you get me?”

“A lot of researching,” Romilda repeated, causing Harry to snort.

“Yeah, something like that.”

“If you come down to the Department of Mysteries, I’ll let you in and take you to find Draco.”

“Thanks Romilda. I’ll see you in a few.”

“I eagerly await it,” was Romilda’s chipper response.

Harry did not eagerly await it. Harry avoided the Department of Mysteries at all costs. No matter how many years passed, he would never not be able to remember the battle that had taken place there. The sight of Sirius’s last laugh as he fell through the veil.

Harry took a deep breath and dragged his hands through his hair. He had to do this.

Trudging his way through the Ministry, Harry finally spotted Romilda’s dark hair as she waited outside the black door that led the way to the Department of Mysteries. Unspeakables were the only ones who were allowed to just come and go freely from the Department. Aurors like Harry had to be invited in and then escorted about.

Harry had thought Auror training was vigourous, and he didn’t want to know what was required of people who wanted to become Unspeakables.

“Hey, Harry!” Romilda smiled, smoothing down her smart purple robes.

“You didn’t tell me you worked for Malfoy,” Harry said, handing over his wand as he knew was custom.

Romilda turned to the door and registered Harry’s wand. “You didn’t ask.”

“Are you trying to suggest you wouldn’t have denied it if I’d asked?” Harry laughed, taking his wand back and sticking it back in his thigh holster. He hadn’t been bothered to put his Auror robes back on.

Romilda winked at him. “You’ll never know. Now come on, I think Draco’s in his lab, as is Dahlia. Dash is still out with Terry Boot, but I doubt you wanted to see him.”

“Does it not drive you insane having him doing the whole thought reading thing?” Harry questioned, falling into step beside Romilda as they headed towards one of the many doors. Harry didn’t know how she knew which was which but trusted her enough not to say anything.

Romilda shook her head. “Draco taught me enough Occlumency skills that I don’t project my thoughts all the time. And if I do, Dash is normally good enough not to mention anything.”

Harry grunted and shoved his hands into his jeans pockets.

“You could ask Draco to teach you Occlumency?”

“Or I could just die again?” Harry muttered under his breath. Romilda gave him a firm look but didn’t press it.

Romilda held out her hand and the door glowed gold before swinging open to let them in. “Welcome to the Department of Dark Arts. Draco, who you obviously know,” she said this with a wry smile, “is the Head and specialises in dark spells. Then there's the Wraith twins, who are dark objects and psychology separately. Draco also dabbles with dark potions currently because the last person who worked here went a little off the deep end and ran off to Asia.”

Harry’s brows shot up, but Romilda just waved him off.

“It’s fine, the Ministry have a tracker on her, and she seems happy.”

“Isn’t prolonged exposure to Dark magic dangerous?” Harry asked.

“That’s what Dash is trying to figure out,” Romilda said, her heels tapping against the floor as she led him past a door marked Unspeakable Malfoy, Head of the Dark Arts Department . Harry presumed that was Malfoy’s office.

“So they’re working here despite the risks?” Harry frowned. Why would anyone be that committed to figuring out Dark magic? Harry hadn’t even known Malfoy was so interested in it.

Romilda merely hummed, and Harry figured his clearance into asking questions only went so far. He was only allowed in here because Malfoy was now his co-leader on this case.

The corridor was brightly lit and seemed to contradict anything Harry might have imagined about the Dark Arts department. If he were being honest with himself, he had pictured long stone corridors with flickering flaming torches that cast long shadows everywhere. Perhaps a spiderweb strung up and rats running about. He needed to stop agreeing to watch those horror films with Ron and Hermione. However, the Dark Arts department was bright, clean and clinical.

Romilda stopped sharp, and Harry nearly smacked into her back. Sending her an apologetic grin, he stepped back and watched as she pressed her hand to the door. Just as the first one had, it glowed gold before swinging wide open. Harry followed Romilda into a large, white room that reminded him of interrogation rooms. The inner wall of the room held a large window through which was obviously Malfoy’s lab.

Harry could see Malfoy bent over a desk, wand out and doing something awfully fiddly looking. There was an oversized pair of safety goggles on his face and his smart clothes were covered by a stained lab coat.

He looked good, Harry noted with irritation. Pretentious, pointy, ghostly and nerdy as fuck, but Harry’s cock gave a twitch at the memory of how Malfoy had felt.

“Well, can I speak to him or what?” Harry said, his irritation at the fact he found Malfoy attractive seeping into his tone. Malfoy wasn’t objectively attractive, yet for some reason Harry couldn’t stop staring at him as he worked.

Romilda didn’t rise to his tone. “I know neither of us were Ravenclaws, but do you really think it seems like a good idea to disrupt someone who is dealing with Dark magic?”

Harry’s scowl deepened. “Well then why am I here if he’s busy?”

“I told him we were coming, and he was alerted to our presence when we entered the lab door. He’ll speak to us when the magic is stable enough to walk away from.”

“Okay,” Harry grumbled, shoving his hands into his pockets and leaning back against the wall. He let his eyes run over Malfoy’s lab, which was clearly filled with state-of-the-art equipment, and Harry didn’t have a clue about how any of it worked. Of their own accord, his eyes kept flickering back to Malfoy as he worked, strands of white hair falling over his forehead.

Malfoy who was a lying, cheating git.

Harry pulled out his phone with a grumble and began playing Cauldron Crash to keep himself from staring at Malfoy. Hermione was the best at the game, and he and Ron were going insane in order to beat her high score. The first time she played the game she had trounced them both. Ron had refused to speak to her for about half an hour.

The next time Harry looked up was to see Malfoy coming through a door from his lab that hadn’t been there a moment ago and vanished the second he was clear of the lab.

“Romilda tells me you wanted something, Potter?” Malfoy said, stripping off his disposable gloves and dropping them into the bin. His lab coat was now undone, revealing a smart muggle shirt and trousers. The top button was undone and his tie nowhere to be seen. The lack of formality made Malfoy seem almost naked. The sight was weirdly intimate considering the fact Harry had once gone down on his knees for Malfoy.

Harry’s mouth quirked up in what was almost a smile as he spotted the lab goggles pushed up onto the top of Malfoy’s head and soft pink rings left around his eyes. Harry then remembered who Malfoy was and scowled.

“I wanted to know if you’d made any progress on figuring out what kind of magic it is. I was looking into rituals, and I want to know I’m not looking in the wrong section.”

Malfoy rolled his eyes. “Merlin forbid you have to do more research than necessary.”

“What was that?” Harry growled.

“You heard me,” Malfoy said. “You Aurors are so desperate to be spoon-fed. However,” Malfoy continued before Harry could get a word in, “I have managed to discern that the magic signature has the same frequency as some strands of Dark Magic but there’s so much more to that signature than I presumed. It’s one of the most complicated things I’ve ever seen.” Malfoy sunk his teeth into his bottom lip. “I need to go over my notes with Dahlia before I can give you anything solid.”

“Oh,” Harry said stupidly. “How long will that take?”

Malfoy gave him a withering glance before sighing. “I’ll try get you a report before the day is out.” Malfoy turned to Romilda. “Will you firecall Gloria and ask her to take Scorpius to Luna Lovegood’s after school and then pick him up from there? I imagine I’ll be home late tonight.” A wrinkle appeared between Malfoy’s brow. “And have her tell Scorpius I’ll read him a bedtime story if there’s time tonight. If not, I promise him two tomorrow night.”

Harry stared, dumbstruck, as Romilda agreed to Malfoy’s requests and watched as Malfoy gave him a curt nod before marching back into his lab.

Harry hadn’t ever really thought about Malfoy as a father. He had seen the announcement in the Prophet when Scorpius Malfoy was born, but he hadn’t thought about Malfoy as a father . This was the man who almost immediately after finding out his wife was pregnant had gone out to Nice and been fucked by Harry outside a bar. This was Draco Malfoy, son of Lucius Malfoy. Harry couldn’t imagine either Lucius and Narcissa being big bedtime story readers.

Harry let Romilda lead him out the Department of Mysteries without saying much. He returned to his own office and threw himself into the evidence, desperate to find more links. There had to be something he wasn’t seeing.

***

Draco rubbed his hands over his face as Dahlia perched beside him, her sharp eyes running over the notes he had taken. He was exhausted and wanted to go home. It was too late to read Scorpius a bedtime story. In fact he hadn’t felt comfortable leaving Scorpius alone even with Gloria for so long. Thankfully, Greg and Mille had been around to Floo over and take Scorpius round theirs. Scorpius wouldn’t mind, as he loved playing with little Audrey. Draco would stop by and pick him up on his way home. If he ever got home.

He was desperate to have something to give Potter tomorrow morning so that Potter could stop with his condescending sighs and looks that clearly asked what the fuck Draco was doing there.

“So the wand was walnut,” Draco sighed as he stared at his own writing. It was becoming almost illegible in his tired state. “However, there were too many mixed signatures in it for me to be able to pick up much more.”

Dahlia hummed her agreement. “Either of you know what walnut wands specialise in?”

“Nope,” Dash mumbled from where he was slouched over his own desk, gazing up at the notes that were hovering  in front of him.

Draco wrinkled his nose. “Someone can go see Ollivander tomorrow.”

“How do we know it’s an Ollivander wand?” Dash questioned.

“We don’t, but it’s worth a try. Dahl, did you manage to clear up anything further about the wand?”

Dahlia flicked the paper. “I want to say I picked up an aura of dragon heart-string? But, I was also getting traces of Demiguise DNA. Do they make wands with Demiguise DNA?”

“Not a wand expert,” Draco said. “Add it to the list of questions we have for Ollivander tomorrow.”

“You sending me and Terry again?” Dash asked.

“Depends what Junior Auror Potter wants for his team,” Draco said.

All Draco knew is that he had no intention of stepping inside Ollivander’s shop again. The Ministry had made him go there as soon as his trial was finished, as he couldn’t retake his seventh year at Hogwarts without a wand. Ollivander hadn’t seemed to care that he had been kept in Draco’s cellar for months and happily supplied him with a new wand. Pine, phoenix core and 10 inches.  His new wand worked just as well as his hawthorn one had, but sometimes Draco still wondered what Potter had done with his old one. Ollivander’s happy nature had creeped Draco out, and he had no intention of returning to the old man’s shop.

Dash glanced up from his paper finally, sending Draco a wicked grin. “Junior Auror Potter has some extremely strong feelings about you.”

Draco glowered at Dash. “I don’t know about you, but I would actually like to get home tonight, and thus I’m going to stay focused on the task at hand.”

“You haven’t given me a task?” Dash replied innocently.

Dahlia snorted before trying to cover it up. “Shut up Dash, your task is find the kids. Now,” she said, turning back to Draco, mad scientist face on, “I’ve been thinking about this Demiguise DNA and what it’s purpose could be, because I don’t think it’s wand core.”

Draco gestured for her to go on.

“I think the DNA has been woven into the signature and that the signature is channelling the DNA somehow, using its power.”

“To do what?”

“Well, Demiguise pelts are used in invisibility cloaks, and the signature was invisible when part of the clothes. So somehow they’ve managed to use Demiguise pelts or DNA or whatever, to make the signature invisible.”

“I want to know how they got it onto her clothes in the first place,” Draco said. Dahlia’s point made a lot of sense. “Dash, new task, pull up as much research as you can on Demiguises.”

“Now or?”

Draco glanced at his wristwatch. It had been a gift from Blaise and Thea when they had noticed Draco no longer wore the one from his parents.

“Tomorrow morning, as soon as possible. I think we’re nearly done for the night.” Draco just wanted to go to bed, and he knew there was no point working past a certain hour or he’d end up giving in to exhaustion.

“In regard to getting it onto her clothes,” Dahlia continued, picking up the relevant page of notes, “once I managed to disentangle the Demiguise DNA I was able to look at the thing itself, and contrary to Chang’s belief, it’s not just a magical signature, it’s a device.”

“A device?” Draco questioned, sitting up.

“A tracking device perhaps. I don’t know yet, I need to look at it closer, but yeah.”

Draco cursed and massaged his temples. “So they had somehow got a tracking device on the kid?”

“Yeah, the device had little leg things.” Dahlia wiggled her fingers to illustrate.  “Looked like they would latch onto the fabric.”

Draco cursed again. “Would the device still be tracking? Do we know how sentient it is?”

“I don’t know for sure it's a tracker, that’s my guess right now.”

“And its sentience?”

Dahlia mouth quirked to the side. “I need to look closer at it tomorrow. It is one of the most complex and amazing things I’ve ever seen! Whoever created it is a genius.”

“Whoever created it is stealing kids,” Draco said, raising his brows at his colleague.

Dahlia shrugged. “They’re still a genius, and we don’t know that it was created with that intention.”

Draco let it go. He was never going to be able to convince Dahlia that this piece of technology wasn’t something to view with awe.

Draco knew if he didn’t stop them the twins wouldn’t sleep. They were both raving mad.

“Right, go home you two.” Potter’s team had clocked out at the end of the day, but Draco and the twins hadn’t come up from the Unspeakable section until gone eight. It was nearing twelve now.

“You sure?” Dahlia asked, fingers tapping at the desk. She never stopped.

Draco shot a look at Dash, who was yawning at his desk, and smiled. “I’m sure. I’ll write up everything we know for Potter, and then I’ll see you both back here bright and early.”

The twins beamed at him as they gathered up their stuff and left. Draco knew Dahlia would be back at sunrise tomorrow anyway.

Draco scrawled out everything they had so far on the magical device before copying it and dropping the copy onto Potter’s desk. He knew he had told Potter that he would have it by the end of the day, but the signature, device, whatever it was had been even more complicated than Draco had anticipated. He locked up the incident room behind him and headed down to the Ministry Floos before stepping out into Greg and Millie’s living room. He felt the wards tense at his arrival before relaxing when they accepted that it was him. A strange magical essence was a side effect of his prolonged overexposure to Dark Magic.

“Hey, mate.”

Draco turned at the sound of Greg’s voice and gave him a sleepy smile.

“Sorry about the timing.”

Greg shrugged, “No need to apologise, Draco. You know we love Scorpius.” There was something about Greg’s smile that gave away that something had happened.

Draco groaned, tugging at the collar of his robes. It was far too hot for his official Unspeakable robes with the fire blazing in the corner. Millie and Greg’s house was always like an oven, even in early October.

“What did he do?”

Greg continued to play with the end of his wife’s long dark hair. “He decided he wanted to bake.”

“Please don’t tell me you let him.” Draco groaned again at Goyle’s guilty face. “Then his sugar high was entirely your own fault. I am not taking whatever you made home with me.”

“Well I can hardly use it in the bakery,” Greg deadpanned.

Draco didn’t have the heart to scowl. “Fine, can you pack it up for me whilst I go get him?”

Greg nodded his head towards Millie who was pressed up against him asleep, and Draco rolled his eyes.

“I’ll just do it myself then,” he huffed with no heat in his words as he walked into the kitchen to see whatever monstrosity Greg had let Scorpius create this time.  The kitchen was spotless, but on the table was a large platter of biscuits. It was quite easy to tell which ones Greg had made and which ones Scorpius had made. Draco smiled to himself as he picked up what he presumed was meant to resemble a dragon. It was covered in gold glitter, and Draco had no doubt it would taste disgusting even with Greg’s supervision. Scorpius was something of an inventive baker…

Draco slid all the biscuits into a protective bag before dropping them into his briefcase. He was pretty sure Greg would thank him for removing the biscuits.

He shrunk his briefcase down and tucked it inside his pocket before leaning around the door.

“Our room,” Greg said before Draco could ask. Draco shot Greg a grateful smile before disappearing upstairs to find his son. He paused just inside of the door, watching Scorpius's chest rise and fall as he slept, and his white hair almost glowing from light from the hall.

If anyone asked Draco would put it down to sleep deprivation or the emotional strain of working a missing children’s case, but staring at his son in that moment he felt a lump rise in his throat. Scorpius was Draco’s everything.

“Sorry I’m late,” Draco murmured, reaching over and tracing his fingers across Scorpius’s soft cheek. Scorpius had all of Draco’s pointy features, light hair and grey eyes. Lucius had been delighted.

“No one would think he was anything but a Malfoy,” Lucius had bragged.

Draco didn’t care if anyone knew Scorpius was a Malfoy. All he cared was that they knew he was Draco’s.

“I’ll make it up to you,” he promised as he pulled Scorpius into his arms. Narcissa said Scorpius was just like Draco at that age. Small and slender. Draco was still slim, but at least he wasn’t short anymore. With Draco and Astoria as his parents, Scorpius had no chance of being anything but tall and slim.

“Daddy,” Scorpius mumbled, wrapping his arms tightly around Draco’s neck. Draco took a moment to get himself comfortable so Scorpius wasn’t cutting off his windpipe.

“Want to go home?” he asked. Scorpius just nodded before burying his head into the crook of Draco’s neck. Draco had only taken a couple of steps before he felt Scorpius’s breathing even out again and his warm breath against Draco’s skin.

“Thank you,” Draco whispered as he stepped into the floor place.

“Anytime,” Greg said.

Millie's eyes fluttered, “Remember you’re hosting dinner this month,” she grumbled.

Draco chuckled as the flames consumed him and he stepped back out into his own house. As if Pansy would let him forget. If she caught wind of the fact Draco was now a co-Head of this missing children investigation, he would be beating her away with a stick. Then again with her journalist nose, Pansy could possibly be able to find him something useful to work with. The woman was a bloodhound.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

“Morning,” Dahlia drawled loudly as Draco stepped through the door into the incident room. Her desk was already covered in notes, and a pair of lab goggles were attached to her head. Chang perched next to her, long hair tied back in a messy bun as she bent over Dahlia’s notes.

“Do I want to know what time you got here?” Draco asked, trying not to look bemused.

“The lab was calling.”

“Far too loudly if you ask me,” Dash grumbled, head down on his desk.

“Good thing no one did then,” Dahlia said, flicking a Stinging Hex at her brother.

“Children,” Draco sighed, raising his brows in greeting to Boot in the corner who was watching them all with open amusement. “Is Junior Auror Potter in yet?”

Boot shook his head. “He should be arriving at any second now.”

Draco humphed and Dash snickered. Draco resisted the urge to hex his own team.

“So what’s the plan for today?” Boot questioned.

“Since Junior Auror Potter is obviously too lazy to arrive on time,” Draco said, unable to stop himself making a jibe at Potter’s expense, “we have managed to discern what kind of wand made the device.” He duplicated the copy of his notes on Potter’s desk and floated them over to Boot, who flicked through them, face alight with interest. “So someone needs to go speak to Ollivander. I also think we ought to look deeper into whether the three families have any connections.”

He gazed up at the board and swallowed at the children’s waving faces. “Annabel Martin may be a half-blood, but her mother was a pure-blood. See if she can be linked to the Fawley or Travers family.”

“Felicity Martin was once Felicity Selwyn,” Boot said as he flicked through his own notes.

Draco’s jaw tightened. “Another family with Death Eater connections then. Could someone be targeting pure-bloods?”

“Why would someone target pure-blood children?” Chang frowned.

Draco shared a glance with the Wraith twins. Their parents had been dedicated followers of Voldemort as well.

“Revenge.” Dahlia said, her usually expressive face cold.

Draco swallowed, Scorpius’s happy face flashing before his eyes.

Thankfully, a distraction in the shape of Potter and Romilda walked through the incident room door before Draco could even begin to dwell on the thought.

“Nice of you to show up,” Draco remarked as he turned and scrawled revenge on the whiteboard.

Dash let out a snicker, and Draco knew Potter had thought something rude about him.

For a moment Draco was petty enough to consider dropping his Occlumency shields to let Dash hear an insult about Potter, but he refrained. Just. Dash was too good at reading people as it was, and Draco didn’t need to give him any more material to work with regarding Draco and Potter’s relationship.

“Don’t be crabby,” Romilda said as she passed him his coffee. “I asked Harry to wait whilst I got your coffees.”

Draco didn’t respond as she passed the Wraith twins their own coffees, but he did have to bite his lip and turn away as he watched two of the most powerful wizards he had ever met turn to mush as they thanked her. Every day.

Draco caught Potter’s eye and smirked as Potter raised his brows in question.

“Don’t ask,” Draco mouthed before remembering who he was talking to and turning promptly back to the whiteboard. He wrote out pure-blood? on the board.

“What does that mean?” Potter asked, and his breath was warm against the back of Draco’s neck.

Draco spun around in shock, and Potter’s eyes widened as if he hadn’t realised how close he had got to Draco.

“If it’s pure-blood fanatics doing rituals they might think that pure blood is stronger,” Draco said. Potter had freckles. How had Draco never noticed before?

“I thought pure-bloods didn’t like spilling their own blood,” Potter said. Why didn’t Potter move away?

Draco swallowed, transfixed to the spot. “Some people will do anything for power.”

Potter and his stupid bright green eyes and coal black lashes. His firm jaw that Draco wanted to press his mouth to, his tanned skin, those broad shoulders, strong arms and slim waist. Potter had bulked up since they were twenty. Draco would never forget the sight of Potter on his knees, the feeling of Potter inside him.

Potter was and always would be maddening to Draco.

“Martin was a half-blood.”

Draco and Potter both jumped apart and spun around at the sound of Terry’s voice.

“Just brainstorming,” Draco said through gritted teeth, his pulse racing as he walked away from Potter to his desk.

He caught Dash watching Potter with inquisitive eyes and Draco dropped his Occlumency shield and projected the thought watch it at Dash. Draco slammed his walls back up as he felt the silky presence of Dash brush against his mind. He glowered at his underling and Dash just gazed back at him, head cocked curiously. At least he was no longer gazing at Potter like he was his newest experiment.

“Thanks,” Potter said, picking up at the notes Draco had left him and leafing through them. “Your writing is awful.”

“It was twelve am, cut me some slack,” Draco said, scowling over at Potter, whose brows shot up.

“You stayed here till twelve?”

“I had work to do,” Draco said, tilting his chin up.

Potter’s mouth twisted and his brow wrinkled but he didn’t make a comment.

“So what’s the plan-eo for today?” Dahlia questioned, leaning back in her chair. Draco always hated how she did that.

“Try establish more of a pattern, why those kids?” Draco said, leaning on the edge of his desk. “We need to know if there was a reason or not for their selection.”

“Terry and Dash, you two can go speak to the kids’ families again,” Potter said with a lazy wave of his hand.

“Legilimency?” Dash questioned.

Draco spotted the way Potter’s nose wrinkled. “Only what they project, no probing.”

“What if they’re hiding something?”

“Then we bring them in for questioning,” Potter said firmly. “You’re not rifling through people's minds against their will.”

Dash’s face remained impassive, “They won’t even know I’m there.” A flare of panic flashed across Potter’s face, and Draco felt the need to step in.

“Dash,” he said firmly, “no unauthorised access to their minds.”

“As you say boss,” Dash shrugged, grabbing his hat and Unspeakable robes from where they were discarded on the floor. “You coming Terry?”

Terry nodded, sharp eyes following Dash’s every movement. Draco understood Terry’s fascination with Dash. Before they started working together, Draco hadn’t met anyone like him.

“Can we go to the labs?” Chang asked.

“Course,” Draco said, still drawing on the whiteboard everything they had so far on the tracking device. “Presuming Dahl filled you in?”

“Of course,” Dahlia scoffed, tying her curls up into a messy knot on the top of her head. She was softer looking than her brother, still beautiful but less haunting. There was something more human about her.

Draco would never understand how Dash had been sorted Hufflepuff. Dahlia’s sorting into Ravenclaw made more sense, but Dash in Hufflepuff went against everything Draco had ever been taught about Hufflepuffs. Then again he had learnt the hard way that real life often contrasted with what he had been taught as a child.

“Try to crack that device. I want to know if we can track it in reverse,” Draco said, attention still on the board.

“Track it in reverse?” Dahlia asked, and Draco didn’t have to turn around to know there was a smile on her face.

He waved a hand in her direction. “You know what I mean.”

Dahlia hummed in amusement and led Chang out the room chattering about the device.

“And what are we doing today?”

“We?” Draco said, slowly turning at the sound of Potter’s voice. It was the two of them left again.

“Yes,” Potter said slowly. “You and I, me and you, the two of us.”

Draco rolled his eyes.

“Well,” Draco glanced at the list. “Someone was meant to go to Ollivanders, but-”

“We can do that?”

There was that pesky we again. Draco didn’t know how to treat civil Potter. He wanted Potter to glare at him again, to huff around and throw a strop because they had shagged seven years ago. Potter wasn’t meant to be mature.

Draco always had no intention of going back to Ollivander’s even if Potter wanted to.

“I don’t think I’m the best person for that,” Draco said, putting the whiteboard pen down and walking back over to his desk.

“Why?”

Draco’s jaw tightened. “What do you think?” He turned and glowered at Potter, who looked genuinely confused. “The slight tension with him being locked up in my cellar during the war, perhaps?”

“You must have spoken to him if you got a new wand,” Potter said. Draco’s locked onto Potter’s who for the first time looked uncomfortable. It was the first time Draco’s old wand had ever come up between the two of them. It was the first time they had spoken in a vaguely civil manner as well, although Draco could already feel the cracks forming.

“Yes, the Ministry made me go,” Draco swallowed. Potter shifted on his feet. What happened to his old wand? Where was it? Had Potter lost it? Certainly the wand Potter used now wasn’t Draco’s old one, so what had he done with it?

“And you speak to Luna,” Potter prompted, shoving his hands into his pocket.

Draco bit his lip. “Luna’s different.”

Potter almost smiled and then seemed to catch himself at the last moment. “You could say that again.”

“She looks after Scorpius after school a lot.” Draco wasn’t quite sure why he had felt the need to say that. Merlin, was he becoming one of those parents who couldn’t go an hour without mentioning their kid? He was sure just what this awkward situation with Potter needed was a reminder that Astoria had been pregnant with Scorpius when Draco shagged Potter.

Potter left Draco far too out of control for his liking. He always had.

Potter nodded. “She used to look after Teddy as well.”

“Teddy Lupin?” Draco inquired.

“Yeah?” Harry said, brow wrinkling.

“My cousin or Scorpius’s second cousin,” Draco frowned trying to remember his family tree. “A relation,” he settled on, and Potter’s mouth quirked into that near smile again. Draco hated Potter’s mouth, and he especially hated the memory of how it had looked wrapped around Draco’s cock. “Mother and Aunt Andromeda would have playdates with them both.”

“Oh,” Potter said.

A heavy silence fell and Draco sorted his quills.

Potter cleared his throat and shattered the silence. “I still think we ought to go to Ollivander’s.” Draco opened his mouth to protest, but Potter continued before he could. “We need this information. We don’t have any leads and this is one of the best we have.”

Draco knew that, he really did. Fingers absently rubbing against the faded Dark Mark scar through his robes, Draco sighed. “Fine, but if this goes badly I’m blaming you.”

Potter rolled his eyes. “Whatever, Malfoy.”

Draco grabbed his hat from his desk and nodded at Potter. “Come on then.”

***

Harry sensed the change in Malfoy as soon as they appeared in Diagon Alley. That easy confidence he wore in the incident room with his team slipped away and was replaced by a cold, hard expression. It made him look even more haughty and arrogant than before. Harry presumed Malfoy still looked good with the cruel expression because of the Black genes.

“Stop looking like you want to hex someone,” Harry hissed, ducking his head as they walked through the crowd. He didn’t want to cause a fuss. “And take that fucking hat off!” Malfoy suited the black robes, he looked really fit in them actually. It was just that fucking hat.

Draco glowered at him. “It is part of my uniform!”

“People are staring!”

“That is because I’m an ex-Death Eater and you’re the Saviour of the whole fucking wizarding world!”

Harry scowled and grabbed Malfoy’s arm, yanking him into a corner of the street, grinning at the shocked squawk Malfoy let out.

“Take off the hat,” Harry commanded as he grabbed his shrunk satchel from his pocket and made it normal-sized again.

Malfoy was staring at him.

“Take it off.”

“What are you doing?” Malfoy managed to get out, his cheeks going red.

Harry frowned. “I’m trying to get us into Ollivander’s without causing a scene. What did you think I was doing?”

Harry didn’t want to show Malfoy the cloak, but Harry didn’t know how else they were going to get to the wand shop with Malfoy looking like a prat and everyone squawking out at Harry and Malfoy. Ten years since that fucking war.

Malfoy composed his face, but his cheeks remained slightly pink and Harry scowled.

“Did you really think I was dragging you off for a shag?”

Malfoy was scowling now. “No.”

“Good, because I’m never shagging you again.”

“I wouldn’t want you to,” Malfoy snapped, taking his hat off and minimising it before placing it in his pocket. “And anyway if you remember correctly, you said I’d fuck you next time.” Malfoy quirked his brow and smirked.

Harry debated between decking him and shoving Malfoy back into the busy street to deal with the crowds and possible lurking reporters. Harry took a deep breath as Hermione always instructed him to do and pulled the Invisibility Cloak from his bag, watching the way Malfoy’s sharp eyes caught onto it.

“Is that?” Malfoy murmured, his hand raising and brushing against the Cloak. Harry was filled with a childish urge to snatch it away, which was ridiculous seeing as Malfoy would be under it in a moment. “Can I see it?”

Harry shot Malfoy a look. “You’re looking at it?”

Malfoy rolled his eyes. “Put it on.” There was a curious look in his face, and Harry recognised it from when he had caught sight of Malfoy in his lab. Malfoy also wore the look when he was staring at the whiteboard, bottom lip caught between his teeth. Not that Harry noticed Malfoy’s lips.

Harry threw the Cloak around himself, letting out a laugh as Malfoy’s face seemed conflicted between lighting up with academic glee and scowling in childish irritation.

“I knew saw you that day in Hogsmeade!”

Harry grinned at the memory of throwing mud at Malfoy. It had been a highlight of his youth. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.” He pulled the Cloak open and beckoned for Malfoy. “Now you coming in or what?”

Malfoy hesitated. “Will we both fit?”

Harry nodded. “It’ll be tight but it’ll still be better than being stared at.”

Malfoy continued to look dubious.

“Come on. Ron and I both fit and we’re bigger than you.”

“I’m taller than you,” Malfoy spluttered.

“By like a centimeter and anyway I’m broader than you,” Harry shrugged. Malfoy’s hair was slightly tousled from taking the hat off and Harry had a sudden urge to run his hands through it. He remembered how soft Malfoy’s hair had been that night.

“Now are you getting in?”

Malfoy huffed and muttered but ducked under the Cloak.

“You’re going to have to stand closer to me than that,” Harry said. The Cloak didn’t cover them properly with Malfoy trying to stand a foot away. Malfoy’s scowl deepened but he pressed closer to Harry.

“You afraid I’ll bite?” Harry murmured, nudging Malfoy with his shoulder to get him to start moving towards Ollivander’s.

Harry didn’t have to see Malfoy’s face to know he was rolling his eyes. “If I remember correctly you quite like being bitten, don’t you?”

Harry’s breath hitched at the memory of Malfoy’s teeth grazing against his neck and sinking into his bottom lip. He glanced at Malfoy who was smiling with too many teeth, looking almost predatory.

“Fuck off,” Harry muttered, picking up his pace as they moved through the crowd.

Malfoy hummed in amusement but kept pace with Harry. It wasn’t until they reached the door of Ollivander’s that Harry glanced around and pushed the door open. Thankfully, it was empty. Not much need for wands in October.

Once inside Harry pulled the Cloak off, deliberately not noticing the way it left Malfoy’s hair even more mussed than before.

“Ollivander,” Harry called, stuffing the Cloak back into his satchel. “Mr Ollivander?”

Harry glanced over his shoulder at Malfoy, who had shrunk back against the wall, grey eyes hard as slate when he caught Harry’s eyes.

“It’s fine,” Harry mouthed before turning to call for Ollivander again.

“Hello Mr Potter.”

Harry only jumped slightly at the sound of the voice appearing from beside a large stack of wand boxes.

“Hello, I’m here from the Aurors,” Harry pulled his badge from his robes and flashed it at Ollivander, “Unspeakable Malfoy and myself were wondering if we could ask you some questions about wands.”

“Eleven inches, holly, phoenix feather,” Ollivander said, his eyes fixed on Harry. Harry swallowed. Ollivander had always made him feel uncomfortable. “What a wand. It’s achieved so much in its time,” Ollivander mused. “However, it’s not really deserving of its title as the wand that vanquished You-Know-Who.”

Harry hated when people still called Voldemort You-Know-Who .

Ollivander’s eyes flicked over to Malfoy who looked like he was trying to blend in with the wall. “That title lies with Mr Malfoy’s first wand: ten inches, hawthorn, unicorn hair. Did you know hawthorn wands favour wizards passing through a period of turmoil?”

Neither Malfoy or Harry said a word.

“I just think it's particularly fitting that you both were the wand’s masters.”

Harry shifted his weight on his feet, lost for words. He had thought about returning Malfoy’s wand after the war but by the time he had gotten around to actually doing anything about it Hermione mentioned that Malfoy had a new wand. Then the whole Nice drama had happened, and the wand had stayed locked up in Harry’s trunk. He couldn’t quite bring himself to part with it as, well, it symbolised too much.

“How’s the new wand, Mr Malfoy?”

“Good, thank you.” Malfoy’s voice was stiff.

Ollivander hummed. “ Pine, phoenix feather and nine inches. What do you know of pine?”

“A little,” Malfoy said.

Malfoy looked like he was about to bolt out of the door, so Harry stepped forward before Ollivander could say anything else creepy. “We were hoping to ask you a few questions, weren’t we Malfoy?”

Harry caught Malfoy’s eyes and nodded at him. “It’s fine,” he mouthed, and Malfoy bit his lip before stepping forward, their shoulders brushing.

“Yes, we were wondering what you could tell us about walnut wands?” Malfoy’s voice was steady, and he didn’t move away from Harry. Harry didn’t move either, the warmth from Malfoy’s arm burning against him.

“Walnut wands,” Ollivander mused. “They are the most versatile and adaptive wands there are, good for inventors and innovators…” Ollivander trailed off, a long finger ghosting against one of the wand boxes. “They’ll perform any task asked of them if they respect their owner. Lethal.” Harry didn’t like the awe in Ollivander’s voice. “So many fantastic things done by wizards with walnut wands.”

Harry’s jaw tightened. He knew Ollivander didn’t know the details of the case, but Harry found it hard to associate fantastic with someone who steals children.

“And can we see your records for wizards who purchased walnut wands with with dragon heart-string cores in the last two hundred years?” Malfoy asked, his voice sounding more strained than it normally was.

Harry imagined that as a father, Malfoy couldn’t praise someone who kidnapped children either.

“Do you know the length of the wand?” Ollivander asked, turning around to his till.

Harry bit his lip to stop himself snickering; he couldn’t help himself. Malfoy caught his eye and that polite mask slipped for a moment, showing Harry that Malfoy was trying not to laugh too.

“Big,” Harry mouthed, gesturing with his hands and pointing to himself.

“We don’t know the size, sorry,” Malfoy said, pursing his lips. Harry bit his lip harder to stop himself laughing.

Ollivander hummed. “Let me see my books.”

As soon as Ollivander had walked out the back, Harry felt Malfoy’s warm breath against his ear. “Don’t forget I’ve seen it.”

“Seen it?” Harry snorted, “Felt it more like.”

Malfoy flushed. “It was nothing.”

“You sure sounded like you liked it at the time,” Harry shot back.

Malfoy shrugged. “I was so desperate for a shag I’d have let Weasley fuck me.”

Harry scowled as Malfoy smirked.

“And anyway, I seem to remember you being quite fond of my prick when it was in your mouth.”

Harry choked as Malfoy grinned at him. He hated remembering how good the sex was. He hated learning now that  Malfoy was more than just a cowardly adulterer. He hated that Malfoy was still fit. And most of all, Harry hated that Malfoy sparked something within him.

“Here’s my records of all walnut wands with dragon heart-string cores in the last two hundred years,” Ollivander’s voice sounded behind them, and they jumped apart like school children caught hooking up in the corridor. “It’s not a common wand, but there’s still a fair few out there if I can’t narrow it down with the length.”

“Thank you,” Harry said, taking the book from Ollivander and shrinking it down. “We’ll return this when we’re done with it.”

Ollivander nodded at them both. “Anything you need.”

“Thank you,” Harry repeated, trying not to laugh as Malfoy glanced at the door like it was his holy grail. “We’ll be in contact.”

Harry turned towards the door and gave Malfoy a gentle nudge to get him walking. Malfoy swallowed and threw one last nervous look at Ollivander before walking out the door as quickly as he could.

“That man gives me the creeps,” Harry muttered as they walked through the morning crowds. He could feel people's eyes lock onto them, Harry’s Auror uniform giving him away. He wished he had thought to come out in jeans.

“Creepy is putting it politely,” Malfoy said, letting out a grunt as someone slammed into him. “Sorry,” Malfoy said, turning to offer the man a polite,  although slightly strained smile.

“Watch it,” the man spat before his eyes flicked onto Harry and widened in recognition. “You ought to watch yourself around him, Harry Potter,” the man said, jerking his head towards Malfoy with disgust carved into his face. “Everyone knows the Malfoys are just waiting for the next You-Know-Who to come about.”

“I think I can tell the wrong sort for myself,” Harry said, jaw clenching as he scowled at the man. “I’m just as likely to become the next follower of Voldemort at this point as Malfoy is.”

The man’s eyebrows shot up and he rounded on Malfoy. “Have you Imperiused Harry Potter?”

Before Malfoy could open his mouth, Harry swore loudly and grabbed Malfoy’s arm. He could feel the tension in Malfoy’s tensed muscles. “I’ll have you know that I could throw off the Imperius curse at the age of fourteen, but thank you for your lack of faith in me,” Harry snapped before Apparating him and Malfoy out of there.

They landed in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place, and Harry slumped against his table with a sigh. He hated people like that. It had been ten years since the war, and that man felt that he had the right to throw that at them both? They had been children.

They had been children. The thought now of a teenager going through what Harry himself had gone through set him on edge. If someone looked at him and went yes, these 17-year-olds are perfect to lead a rebellion against a genocidal maniac, Harry would laugh them out of the room. Harry had some strong thoughts about Dumbledore now that he was older.

“What the fuck, Potter?”

Harry glanced up at Malfoy’s wide-eyed expression and realised that he had just Apparated Malfoy into his house without asking.

“I wanted to get out of there,” Harry sighed, placing Ollivander’s book on the table. “You’re welcome.”

“Welcome?” Malfoy spat, stepping closer to Harry. His normally impeccable hair was even more mussed after the shock Apparition.

“Yes, didn’t seem like you particularly wanted to be there either,” Harry shrugged, standing up so that Malfoy couldn’t lean over him. They really were only a couple of centimetres apart in height. There were a couple of long, thin white scars on Malfoy’s face and Harry wondered how he had never noticed them before. He wondered how Malfoy had gotten them.

A dull flush of anger spread across Malfoy’s cheeks and he stepped closer to Harry again. “I am not something for you to save.”

Harry licked his lips and didn’t miss the way Malfoy’s eyes caught the action. “I know that.”

Malfoy swallowed and Harry stared at his bobbing throat, slowly lifting his gaze back up to Malfoy’s pink cheeks. Harry felt there was something else he ought to say, but he couldn’t find the words.

And then they were kissing again. It was just as messy and desperate as the first time they had done it, and they couldn’t blame the alcohol this time. There was just something about Malfoy that drew Harry in, that wound him up. Malfoy was magnetic.

Malfoy’s hands tangled in Harry’s hair, pushing him back against the table, and Harry moved willingly, perching himself up and wrapping his legs around Malfoy.

Harry’s own hands cupped Malfoy’s face before moving down his back, nails digging in as he pulled Malfoy closer. Harry swallowed the filthy sound of a moan that Malfoy let out and licked into his mouth.

They kissed like randy teenagers. They kissed as if they were sixteen and it was the first time, not like they were 27-year-old men with serious jobs. Not like they were the two leads of a huge case and that Robards would string Harry up by his balls if he ever found out about this.

As Malfoy let out another noise, Harry realised he didn’t care. Even seven years later Malfoy was better than any firewhiskey Harry had ever tasted.

“Get these off,” Harry grunted, tugging at Malfoy’s thick robes. He had no interest in long drawn out kisses and soft words, he wanted to feel Malfoy against him. Malfoy stepped back and pulled his robes off. Harry went to pull him closer again, but Malfoy glared at him and folded his robes before placing them on the table. Harry rolled his eyes and threw his own Auror robes on the floor.

“Barbarian,” Malfoy murmured as he pressed his cruel mouth against Harry’s neck.

“Git,” Harry hissed as Malfoy’s teeth scraped against his skin.

Under his robes Malfoy was wearing another smart Muggle outfit  of tight wool trousers, a shirt and a waistcoat that Harry would take the time to appreciate better if Malfoy weren’t wearing so many clothes. What was he, a nun?

Harry would presume it was a pure-blood thing, but he knew Ron spent nearly as little time in his Auror robes as Harry did. Then again it was rather difficult to compare the Weasleys and the Malfoys even as pure-bloods because… Harry’s train of thought was completely disrupted when Malfoy pressed closer to him and Harry could feel Malfoy’s cock, hot and firm against his thigh.

“We shouldn’t do this,” Malfoy murmured as Harry sucked a mark under Malfoy’s ear. “Goes against,” Malfoy’s voice hitched, “like every rule in the book.”

Harry hummed in agreement, his hands slipping down and squeezing Malfoy’s arse. “I’ve always found rulebooks overrated.”

Malfoy laughed, but it wasn’t a particularly joyful sound. “Yes, but you’re you. They would do anything to protect you.”

Harry pulled back from Malfoy’s neck and frowned. “If you don’t want this, we can stop.” Harry wasn’t willing to push Malfoy further than he wanted. Harry’s entire body was buzzing with the spark that only Malfoy could provide, but he understood Malfoy’s fears.

“I never said that,” Malfoy said, leaning in and reclaiming Harry’s mouth. It was just as needy and desperate as before, as if Malfoy thought that if he stopped kissing Harry perhaps he would die. Harry had to admit in his lust-addled mind, he thought the same.

Harry slipped his fingers under the waistband of Malfoy’s trousers and pulled them together so they were pressed right up against one another. Malfoy’s hips jerked against Harry’s thigh, and Harry wondered why they hadn’t thought to do this again in the last seven years.

Malfoy’s hands moved to Harry’s shirt and then under it, roaming across his abs and chest before moving round to his back, never stopping. Harry had bulked up in the seven years since this had last happened.

Harry’s own hands slipped around to the front of Malfoy’s trousers, palming the bulge in the front.

The fuck Malfoy let out was most erotic sound Harry had ever heard. He stored the memory away for later for when he would remember this in bed.

Malfoy’s long fingers suddenly moved to Harry’s flies, unzipping his trousers and ghosting across Harry’s boxers.

That time it was Harry that let out a fuck .

“You know I’ve been thinking about what your cock felt like since it happened,” Malfoy murmured, his mouth wet against Harry’s jaw. “Seven years later and I’ve never had a fuck like it.”

Harry kissed Malfoy, and there was nothing gentle about it. Seven years of bitterness and resentment overcame Harry as he bit at Malfoy’s bottom lip, bucking his hips up as Malfoy’s hand stroked up and down his cock, still not going under the boxers.

“Fucking typical that on top everything you have going for you, you have the best cock I’ve ever had,” Malfoy said, pushing Harry down against the table. “The stuff I’ve been thinking about doing.”

Harry growled. “Why don’t you show me that you’re more than just chat then?”

Malfoy smirked as he dropped to his knees and pulled Harry’s hips to the edge of the table. Harry’s eyes fluttered shut at the first feel of Malfoy’s breath against his cock as Malfoy mouthed against his boxers.

“Don’t be a fucking tease,” Harry hissed, head dropping against the table at the feeling of Malfoy’s wet mouth.

“You never did have any patience,” Malfoy said, and the snappy retort Harry was about to make died on his lips as Malfoy tugged his boxers and trousers down and swallowed Harry’s cock.

“Fuck,” Harry groaned, thrusting up into Malfoy’s mouth, his eyes squeezing shut.

Malfoy just moaned around Harry’s cock, and Harry gripped the edge of the table tightly as Malfoy reached up and pressed his hand against Harry’s stomach to prevent him thrusting.

Harry didn’t know how many times over the years that his thoughts had betrayed him and dreams of Malfoy on his knees had left Harry waking up hard and pissed off. What he did know was that the reality was about a thousand times better than anything he had imagined.

Malfoy pulled off with wet pop and leant down against Harry, kissing him. Harry wound his arms around Malfoy’s neck and pulled them together.

“Good to know your mouth is good for something,” Harry teased.

“Fuck you,” Malfoy grunted, as he unbuttoned his trousers and pulled his own cock out.

Harry hissed at the sudden friction of Malfoy’s cock moving against his own. He rolled his hips up to meet Malfoy’s thrusts and wrapped his legs around Malfoy.

“Next time,” Harry promised, surging up and kissing Malfoy again as they rutted against each other.

Harry hadn’t fucked anyone like this in years. He hadn’t felt so desperate for release. He reached down and held their cocks together, moaning into Malfoy’s mouth, and came hard.

He dropped his head back against the kitchen table, not caring that it hurt as Malfoy kept thrusting against him. His silver eyes were dark with arousal and his lips swollen from sucking Harry’s cock. He looked like a depiction of lust itself.

“Fuck,” Harry murmured, and that sent Malfoy over the edge. Malfoy buried his head in Harry’s shoulder as he came with a muffled groan.

Harry grinned dopily in his post-orgasm state. Harry had just shagged Malfoy on his kitchen table. He gave his hand an idle wave, hitting them both with a wandless cleaning charm.

“Fuck,” Malfoy echoed, rolling off Harry and gazing at him, his brow creased. “We shouldn’t have done that.”

“We shouldn’t have,” Harry agreed, biting his lip. “I still don’t like you,” he was half joking.

Malfoy swallowed, and Harry knew he had said the wrong thing, but he didn’t know what else to say. He didn’t like Malfoy. Malfoy was cruel and harsh and had lied to Harry. Seven years ago , a small voice in his head that sounded suspiciously like Hermione said, but Harry pushed it aside. He shouldn’t have let this happen.

“Good, I don’t like you either,” Malfoy’s voice was curt. “We’ll just never do it again, it’s fine.”

“Fine,” Harry repeated back. “We’ll go back to the office and never talk of this again.”

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

Malfoy stood up and buttoned himself back up primly. “I’ll head back to the office then and have Dash look through the book.”

Harry pushed himself up and tucked himself back into his trousers. His mouth was dry, and he didn’t know what to say.

“Yeah, urm that sounds,” he bit his lip. “Good.”

Malfoy cast him a scathing look. “Do you have a Floo?”

Harry nodded. “In the living room.”

Malfoy flattened his hair and let out a huff. “I’ll see you back at the office then, Potter.”

“See you, Malfoy,” Harry said, listening to the woosh of the Floo before lying back on his table with a groan. He was an idiot. He was an absolute idiot.

“Fuck,” he hissed, sitting upright his eyes wide. He couldn’t just walk back into the incident room with Dashiel Wraith sat there. Dash would know in a second what had happened. “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he hissed, pulling out his phone before shoving it back in his pocket. He didn’t have Malfoy’s number.

Of course, he didn’t have Malfoy’s number, why would he?

Fuck.

Harry flooed into his private office, glad that he had thought to set that up, and stuck his head out the door.

“Martha!”

Martha spun around and gazed at him, her eyebrows shooting up. Harry cursed internally, realising how he probably looked. He hadn’t thought to fix his hair, and he knew his shirt was definitely crumpled. He prayed to God, Merlin and whomever else was out there that his trousers weren’t stained.

“Yes?” Martha asked dryly.

Harry smiled weakly. “Can you call Unspeakable Malfoy and ask him to come to my office, please?”

“Why can’t you?” Martha sighed.

“Just please,” Harry begged. He obviously looked enough of a mess that Martha took pity on him. She rolled her eyes and turned and began dialling the phone.

Harry darted back into his office and slumped back down into his chair. Fuck, he really was an idiot. He spun around and gazed up at the smiling, waving faces of the children.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured, dropping his head into his hands. He needed to be working on the case but he couldn’t go into the fucking incident room because he couldn’t keep his dick in his pants. “I’m so sorry.”

***

In his panic to get out of Potter’s kitchen, Draco had forgotten that they had sent Dash and Boot out to interview the parents of all the families again, which was an all-day job. This meant that Draco was stuck pouring over Ollivander’s walnut wand log because everyone else was busy and Potter was nowhere to be seen.

Potter that fucking idiot. Draco was an idiot. Potter had always made him an idiot. They were in fact the biggest pair of idiots.

Draco should have told Robards the second he and Potter were put as co-Heads of the case that their history was messier than Robards thought. Draco should certainly now march straight into Shacklebolt’s office as Head of the Magical Law department and say that he and Potter had managed to complicate things further. However, Draco didn’t really have any intention of doing so.

It wasn’t Potter that would take the fall. The Ministry would impale Draco on a sword before letting their golden boy be hit. It didn’t help that Draco outranked Potter technically and so would probably be accused of taking advantage of the Chosen One . Fucking Saint Potter who can do no wrong.

Draco scowled down at the pages of names of people who owned walnut wands with dragon heart-string cores. Hopefully, Chang and Dahlia would be able to extract the pure magical signature from the device, and then all they would have to do is put it in the database and there would be their kidnapper. Draco had a feeling that it would not be that easy.

“Draco.”

Draco jumped at the sound of Romilda’s voice coming from the phone at his desk.

“Yes?” He sighed.

“Junior Auror Potter has requested you come to his office.”

Draco refrained from saying that Junior Auror Potter could go and fuck himself.

“I still don’t like you.” Good. Draco didn’t like Potter either.

Potter was righteous and lazy and stupid and arrogant and-

“Draco? Draco?” Romilda prompted breaking Draco out of his silent Potter rant.

“Can you tell Junior Auror Potter that I’m busy?” Draco said, his jaw hurting from how hard it was clenched.

“His secretary claims its urgent.”

Oh, well if Potter’s secretary claimed it was urgent then who was Draco to disagree? Draco, of course, would throw down everything he was doing and run over to help Junior Auror Potter because Potter always came first. Potter always had to be prioritised over someone like Draco. Big bad, Death Eater Draco.

Draco didn’t want to have to admit how much that man accusing him of Imperiusing Potter earlier had shaken him. Draco could pretend that everything was fine but he still often got glares and scowls thrown his way when he was walking through wizarding streets. The Malfoy white hair and pointy face were hardly inconspicuous.

The Malfoys were one of the pure-blood families that hadn’t walked away reputation unscathed from the war. Sure, they had gotten lucky. The Ministry had been desperate to bring Draco onto the Unspeakable team so Draco and Narcissa hadn’t gone to Azkaban, they had kept their wealth, and Lucius had gotten only two years in Azkaban instead of life. They were kept on a watch list but they weren’t treated as suspects. A lot of people just hated them.

The Malfoy name would never mean what it once had, but Draco was okay with that. He just didn’t want it to affect Scorpius. Scorpius was innocent in all this, and just had the misfortune of growing up with Malfoy looks and the Malfoy name.

It was only a hefty donation from the Malfoy vaults that had gotten Scorpius into his wizarding primary school. The headmaster had refused Draco’s application at first saying that St Mage’s was an inclusive school for all young witches and wizards regardless of blood status . Draco, by the skin of his teeth, had refrained from writing back that St Mage’s wasn’t being very fucking inclusive if they wouldn’t take Scorpius just because of his surname. Draco had learnt in his life that that wouldn’t get him anywhere.

He was a long way from the years of crying my father will hear about this whenever something didn’t go right. The idea of Lucius hearing about anything now terrified Draco.

Instead, Draco had written a polite letter pointing out that he had done a lot of work to move past the mistakes of his youth and he would be thrilled if St Mage’s would take Scorpius on. And when St Mage’s said they still weren’t sure and would need some more convincing, Draco did what Malfoy's always did. He opened his bank vault.

“Draco,” Romilda prompted, and Draco realised he had lost focus again. He blamed Potter.

“I really am busy,” he said.

Romila hummed and placed him on hold. Draco dropped his head into his hands as he went back to staring at the names.

“Junior Auror Potter says to tell you he needs Occulmency help with regarding what happened earlier?” Romilda’s voice came from the phone again. Her tone suggested that she was curious.

“What?” Draco frowned before his eyes went wide as he realised what Potter was talking about. “That fucking idiot,” he groaned, jumping to his feet. Potter couldn’t be in the same room as Dash because it would take Dash less than a second to figure out that Potter and Draco had shagged. And whilst, Draco trusted Dash enough to know he wouldn’t do anything with this information, Draco still didn’t want him knowing that.

“Shall I tell Junior Auror Potter that you’re on your way then?” Romilda asked, smiling up at him as he stalked out of his office.

“Yes, please,” Draco paused, “and call up Unspeakable James from the Study of Magic department. I want to speak with him later.”

“Consider it done,” Romilda nodded, spinning around on her chair and pressing phone buttons at a blinding speed.

Lucius had never had any respect for assistants and secretaries, and Draco thought that was just another sign that his father didn’t know as much as he thought he did. Draco could take apart Dark spells, figure out what made them tick, alter them so they could be used in combat by Aurors. Draco could duel with the best of them, his wand knowing what spell to cast before Draco had even considered it. However, Draco couldn’t do what Romilda did every day. He would fall apart without her.

“Thank you,” Draco said with a small smile. He didn’t say it enough.

Romilda raised her eyebrows and smiled back at him. “No worries.”

Draco nodded and turned to go. It was time to teach Potter how to close his goddamned mind.

***

“Stand up,” Draco snapped as he marched into Potter’s office. “Also are you aware that your secretary has the manners of a troll?”

Potter didn’t stand up and just gazed up at Draco. Draco swallowed at the state that Potter’s hair was in, it looked exactly the same as it had when he was writhing underneath Draco. Lips red and green eyes bright.

“I don’t think you’re one to talk about manners,” Potter shot back. Draco was pretty sure that Potter relaxed into his chair more just to piss Draco off.

“Insulting the person you need to help you isn’t the smartest thing you’ve ever done. Then again, stupid decisions are your specialty.”

“I think you’ve made a fair few stupider decisions than I have in our lives.”

Draco took a deep breath. “For one it is more stupid, not stupider, you idiot.”

“I’m not-” Potter started but Draco didn’t let him finish.

“And two, if you throw the war in my face one more time, I will leave. I will walk out of this room and go straight to Shacklebolt, Croaker, the Minister, I don’t care who, but I will leave.” Draco’s voice thankfully didn’t tremble. He clenched his fists to ensure he didn’t rub the scar that was all that was left of the Mark. “I know better than anyone about the choices I made and how awful and wrong they were. I live with those choices every day, and I work to be better. So you do not get to throw in my face who I was as a child, when you seem to be a pretty fucking shitty adult.” Draco kept his features composed, not letting Potter see how tired he was of it all. How tired he was of the past that was always nipping at his heels.

Draco hoped Potter couldn’t tell that it was an empty threat. Draco couldn’t walk away from this case with the missing children; he would never forgive himself if he did.

Potter was staring at him, mouth open and every emotion under the sun wrestling for place on his face. Potter always had worn his emotions on his sleeve too much. No wonder Dash pretty much needed ear plugs to keep Potter’s thoughts out.

“Shall we get on with it then?” Draco said sharply, suddenly desperate to change the subject.

“Malfoy,” Potter said, his voice all too soft for Draco’s liking.

“I don’t see a point in trying to teach you the intricacies of Occlumency, because you just won’t be able to master it and we don’t have the time. So  what we’re doing is a crash course in not projecting every strong emotion you have.”

Potter nodded. “What do I need to do?”

“Stand up as I first said,” Draco said. Potter climbed to his feet and walked around his desk so he was facing Draco. His shirt was creased and in need of a good ironing charm. Another reminder of what they had done less than an hour ago. Draco licked his lips and looked away. “Picture a shield of some sort, a wall, a barrier, anything you can visualise best.”

Potter frowned. “Snape always said empty my mind?”

“You don’t strike me as the sort that’s particularly good at emptying your mind?” Draco said, raising his brows.

Potter grinned ruefully. “You could say that.”

“So picture some kind of defence mechanism and build it into your mind,” Draco instructed. Bellatrix had taught him this way more or less. Her method had been to fire the Legilimens spell at him whenever he wasn’t expecting it until the wall became second nature. Until he could lock away thoughts he didn’t want to think about and forget about them.

Potter shut his eyes, his brow creased and his face scrunched up.

“Do you have it?” Draco asked.

Potter nodded.

“Breathe,” Draco instructed, watching as Potter let out a gasp. People often forgot to breathe when building the wall into their mind. “Do you still have the wall?”

Potter’s face was still screwed up and Draco really didn’t think that Potter had it.

Draco pulled his wand out. “ Legilimens .”

Whatever barrier Potter had attempted to build was shattered instantly by the spell, and Draco felt himself drawn into Potter’s mind. Feelings of frustration hit him, and Draco cut the connection before he could get pulled too deep into Potter’s mind. The power he had felt there was electrifying. The feeling of Potter’s magic bubbling away, all of that ready to be unleashed with the flick of a wand.

Potter let out a deep breath and leant back against his desk. Draco tried not to remember that that was exactly how Potter had looked against his kitchen table earlier. Draco certainly did not store the image of Draco and Potter fucking on Potter’s desk away for a lonely night. He was not that pathetic.

“You need to focus more,” Draco said.

Potter glared at him. “I am focused, I’m just not good at locking my thoughts up.”

“Don’t think of it as locking them up,” Draco said, frowning at Potter. There had to be a better way than this. He didn’t think the meditation he and Dash had had Romilda do would cut it for Potter. Dash was better at this than Draco because Dash understood how people’s minds worked. However, since Dash’s pesky inability to stay in his own head was the problem, Draco couldn’t recruit him. “Think of it as a Protego spell, but you’re defending your mind instead of your physical body.”

“How do I do that?” Potter asked, that frustration Draco had felt written on his face.

“Close your eyes again,” Draco said. Potter raised his brows but obeyed. “Okay, now in your mind picture yourself holding your wand and performing the Protego spell, and remember to keep breathing. It should feel natural.” Potter’s breathing evened out. “Watch the shield form, picture it spreading out across your mind, filling in the cracks and gaps,” Draco said, softening his voice to the same tone he used when helping Scorpius. “And keep it holding.”

Draco raised his wand. “ Legilimens .”

Draco felt the brute force of Potter’s stubbornness hit him as he encountered the shield in Potter’s mind. He could see the shield spreading out, but it was spreading itself thin and Draco didn’t even have to delve in deep to hear Potter’s thoughts swirling about to the surface.

It’s just like a Protego charm .”

“Keep holding it, you can hold him.”

“I can feel Malfoy in my mind and that’s really weird.”

“Is it holding?”

“Can Malfoy hear this?”

“Malfoy looks really good in that waistcoat… Maybe I shouldn’t have kicked him out earlier, I mean the sex is great. He’s still such a prick though and there was the whole thing-”

Draco was felt Potter’s anger and lust swirling against the surface and broke the connection, his cheeks red. “You didn’t kick me out earlier, I left,” he couldn’t help but remark primly.

Potter scowled. “You were reading my thoughts.”

“Your shield was stretched too thin, your thoughts kept breaking through,” Draco said. “You think I want to have to hear you calling me a prick?”

Potter had the decency to look abashed. “Surely you’re picking my thoughts up easily because you’re focused on my mind? Dash is just getting general thoughts.”

“Don’t underestimate how powerful a Legilimens Dash is,” Draco said. Potter’s office was warm. “If they’re projecting he can pick up the thoughts of everyone around him.”

“You’d think that would be maddening,” Potter said.

Draco glanced up at Potter and nodded. “I think it might be.”

“Can’t he shut it out?”

“It gives him awful migraines to do so because it’s the unstoppable force of his Legilimency against the immoveable object of his Occlumency,” Draco explained, liking the way Potter’s mouth quirked up in a smile at his explanation.

“So he hears everyone's thoughts at once if they’re not protected?”

Draco nodded.

“Can he enter more than one mind at once?”

“I imagine so.”

Potter whistled. “Imagine him in a fight.”

“Let’s just say we’re lucky the Wraith twins aren’t their parents,” Draco said. “Now create the shield again, we have work to do and I’m not letting this case get away from us because you can’t keep your thoughts to yourself.”

Potter stood up straight and squared his feet, a hint of a challenging smile playing at his lips. “Bring it Malfoy.”

Draco raised his wand.

***

Draco unbuttoned his cuffs and rolled his shirt sleeves up. “Pass me the   Prophet will you?”

“Please,” Potter remarked but he flicked his wand and sent the Prophet flying over towards Draco.

Draco caught and unfolded it. It was the first time since Annabel Martin’s disappearance that there wasn’t an article insulting the Aurors and their lack of progress on the front of it. There was an article on the third page with pictures of all three children smiling and waving up at him, asking anyone for information. Draco couldn’t even begin to imagine what it was like for the parents.

“I’m presuming you read through all the criminal relations to the families?”

“By criminal relations I’m presuming you mean related Death Eaters?” Draco said, his eyes catching that pink scar that was all that was left of Voldemort’s Mark. “Yes, Selwyn and Travers, both nasty pieces of work.”

“What do you know about them?” Potter questioned, glancing up and pushing his glasses back up his nose with his finger.

“As a pure-blood family or as Death Eaters who spent most of the year in my home?” Draco asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Both,” Potter shrugged.

“Selwyn as a pure-blood family is particularly old but not the most wealthy. They’ve got many branches, and apart from the extremist route that Sebastian Selwyn’s branch took, they are more than happy to marry Muggle-borns. Sebastian Selwyn took that as a personal offence and became particularly violent when he was reminded of that part of his family,” Draco listed.

He remembered one time Bellatrix had made a particularly pointed comment about the rumour that a Selwyn had married a Muggle. Draco knew now that the rumour had to be about Felicity Martin. Selwyn had cursed first and yelled later, which was exactly what Bellatrix wanted. Bellatrix had spent every minute locked up in the Manor itching for a fight. Draco remembered it well.

“Travers. Again pure-blood but not as large a family as the Selwyns. Obsessed with blood purity, anything less than a half-blood is unacceptable and half-blood is only acceptable if they are a product of a pureblood and a half-blood. No relations to Muggles or Muggle-borns allowed.”

“How do you know all this?” Potter interrupted. Draco shot him a withering look.

“This was my education prior to Hogwarts.”

Potter snorted and Draco glared at him.

“Sorry, it’s just no wonder you were such an insufferable git,” Potter said, but he was wearing that stupid grin that Draco was learning meant he was joking.

“Perhaps,” Draco hummed, refusing to smile at Potter. “What was your excuse?”

Potter flipped him off, and Draco took it as a gesture to continue where they had left off, before Potter interrupted. “Then there’s Philleus Travers, Death Eater, killed the McKinnon family for being blood traitors, killed his own cousin for dating a Muggle, believed it was embarrassing that Bellatrix and Mother hadn’t killed Andromeda for her association with Ted Tonks.”

“Sounds like a good bloke,” Potter remarked.

Draco remembered Travers’s warm breath against his face asking if he was a pretty little poof just like his father.

“A delight,” Draco said.

Potter looked like he wanted to say something for a moment, indecision shining on his handsome face, but before he could the incident room door burst open and Terry Boot came running in.

“We’ve got something!”

Potter was out of his seat, face lighting up with hope.

“What is it?”

Draco hoped in Potter’s excitement that the shield they had spent most of the afternoon working on didn’t falter. It wasn’t naturally part of Potter’s defence system yet, but Draco was confident in its ability to hold. Potter always had been annoyingly good at achieving the things he set his mind to, and Draco had spent enough time watching him during Hogwarts to know that defence was Potter’s speciality.

“Travers family, they’re lying or holding something back.”

“How do you know?” Draco questioned, leaning forward on his desk.

“I picked something up obviously,” Dash drawled as he strode into the room after Boot. Potter had wanted to see Dash in a fight, but Draco had never even seen the other man run.

“What did you get?” Potter asked. Draco could feel the nervous energy leaking off him.

Boot was at his desk writing hurriedly before he forgot anything.

Dash glanced at Draco who nodded that he should go ahead. Dash turned back to Potter and paused, cocking his head back to the side.

“I can’t hear him?”

“Strange,” Draco replied, catching Potter’s eye over Dash’s shoulder. Potter smirked at him, and Draco had to bite his lip to make sure he didn’t smile. Draco dropped his own mental shield “ Don’t lean on it,” he warned Dash, who had the grace to look apologetic. Draco slammed the shield back into place before Dash could catch a glimpse at any of his thoughts. Draco wasn’t willing to risk it.

Strange ,” Dash’s voice echoed in Draco’s head, and he gave his underling a firm look to get out of his fucking head. He felt Dash retreat and Draco glared at him once more for good measure. He didn’t like having Dash’s voice in his head. It reminded him of how Voldemort used to do it.

Potter was glancing between the two of them his brow furrowed, and Draco knew he was panicking. Since Draco lacked Dash’s ability to slide into people’s heads, he gave Potter what he hoped was a reassuring nod. “So what did you find out?” Draco asked.

“Nothing concrete since I’m not allowed to use actual Legilimency,” Dash said.

“For a good reason,” Potter muttered.

“Anything you’d found if you’d gone into his head would have been void. We need this done by the book if we’re catching them,” Boot said, not looking up from his notes.

Dash rolled his eyes. “You said.”

“Dash just get to the point,” Draco said, clenching his jaw.

“Marcus Travers, son of Philleus Travers, he was hiding something. He was well-guarded enough that I didn’t get any thoughts, but I could pick up his emotions. He was hiding something. He had some kind of suspicions about who took the child, but of course without being able to get into his head I couldn’t find out more.”

“Even in an interrogation room you can’t just force your way into his head. The law won’t allow it,” Boot said, and Potter nodded. Potter eyed Dash, and for once Draco couldn’t read Potter’s face.

Dash gazed evenly back at Potter, and Draco felt a rush of protection for his team. He knew that Dash could be dangerous, but he wasn’t, and Draco wasn’t going to have Potter waltzing around and making his team feel bad. Potter’s own team hadn’t been getting anywhere before Draco and the twins were enlisted to help.

“How can we use Dash in an interrogation room then?” Draco asked, tidying his quills back into their pot.

Potter turned to Boot with an imploring look. Draco rolled his eyes; he wasn’t surprised Potter didn’t know the rulebook.

Boot laughed and stretched out. “We can have Dash in there, but he’s got to be monitored, especially if there’s a lawyer present, which I imagine with someone like Travers there will be. Just say we want to get a read of his emotions and ensure he isn’t lying to us, as we have reason to believe that he’s withholding information about a critical case.”

“Is that really what the book says?” Draco asked.

Boot laughed. “I’m paraphrasing, but yes, that’s what it’s saying to an extent. Keep a monitor on him and no diving into Travers’s mind or you risk being thrown off the case, which won’t do us any good.”

“What he said,” Potter echoed, and Draco let out a chuckle. The sound surprised both him and Potter, but Potter managed to throw him a grin.

Draco hated Potter’s grin. Draco hated whatever the fuck their relationship was. How were they both standing here and pretending they hadn’t shagged against Potter’s kitchen table a few hours ago? Because you’re both professionals who don’t need to think with your dicks , a voice supplied in his head that sounded worryingly like Pansy.

Draco really needed to speak to Pansy. It was late notice, but hopefully he would be able to get the Slytherins over for dinner and wine this weekend He needed an excuse to get drunk and complain about his life.

Potter turned and glanced at the clock. It was nearing six o’clock, so there was no way they could call Travers in at this point.

“I’m going to owl Travers and tell him he’s been summoned to the Ministry to speak to us tomorrow morning at ten am,” Potter said. “Dash, you and I will interview him, so for the rest of the day we’ll prepare our questions and tactics. Terry, I want everything you can dig up on the Travers family and Malfoy…” Potter trailed off and Draco smirked.

“I’ll go check in with Dahlia and Chang,” he said, filling the awkward silence Potter had left.

“Sounds good,” Potter clapped his hands. “Let’s go.”

Draco stood up and sighed. He just hoped he would be back in time for dinner with Scorpius. He hated leaving his son in the lurch. It was just until they cracked this case, he reminded himself, and then everything would be back to normal. Draco could spend all the time he wanted with his son and Harry sodding Potter would be out of his life for good.

***

“Harry!”

Harry stepped out of the floo and turned at the sound of Ron’s voice and his face broke into a wide grin.

“Ron,” he said, as Ron clapped him on the back. Ron really had tendency to miscalculate his strength, and Harry caught himself from stumbling only at the last second. “How’ve you been?”

“Been decent,” Ron said, falling into step beside Harry as they walked towards Brewers. “Robards is riding my arse about this Polyjuice case, especially as Halloween comes up, we’re worried that they’re trying to turn it into some kind of sick party game.”

Harry whistled. How people came up with some of their ideas he didn’t know.

“What about you?” Ron asked, rubbing his nose as he sidestepped out of a young witch running towards the atrium. “How’s the case going?”

Harry ran a hand through his hair and pulled a face. “I think we’ve finally got a lead from one of the families, but there’s a hell of a lot riding on the interrogation I’m holding today.”

Ron shot him a sympathetic face. “And how’s Malfoy?”

Oh, Malfoy, well he’s great. You know when we’re not arguing or shagging on my kitchen table, I actually think we work pretty well together. He’s smart, and his team have blown this case wide open .

Harry thought Ron might pass out from shock if Harry confessed to what had happened last night with Malfoy. Ron’s opinion of Malfoy wasn’t particularly high after the shagging-Harry-whilst-married thing, not that Ron had ever had a high opinion of Malfoy. Also, he knew Ron would want to tell Hermione - which Harry understood - but Hermione would say Harry should tell Robards, and Harry was not doing that.

Harry shrugged. “It’s bearable. He’s good at what he does, and his team is expert at the whole dark magic thing.”

“His team are a pair of freaks.”

“Dahlia, female-Wraith, she seems pretty sound,” Harry said. He hadn’t had much of a chance to speak to Dahlia Wraith, as she spent most of the time in the Unspeakable labs, but whenever he checked in with Cho, Cho assured him that they were certainly making process with the device. Dahlia was pretty sure there was some kind of trace on it akin to the one placed on underage wizards that reacted whenever the wizarding child performed accidental magic.

Dahlia was hoping to be able to override and counteract the trace, get it working in reverse. Harry had no idea how either she or Cho could do it, so he was happy to leave it to them.

“And male-Wraith?” Ron questioned.

“Terrifying,” Harry admitted, remembering the brush of Dash in his mind. He owed Malfoy for teaching him Occlumency. No one had ever been able to get through to him before, but Malfoy had known how Harry’s mind worked in a way that no one else ever had. Harry didn’t want to think about what that meant.

Ron made a noise of agreement as he gave Holly a charming smile and  ordered his coffee. Harry tried to hide behind Ron so she didn’t spot him. Ron, however, being the awful friend he was, sidestepped out the way, leaving Harry exposed to Holly’s dreamy gaze.

“I hate you,” Harry mouthed after he’d given his order. Ron, the git, just snickered.

After they had collected their coffee, they walked together to the Auror department before parting.

“See you tomorrow for dinner, yeah?” Ron called over his shoulder.

Harry grinned at the fact that Ron had only just remembered to double-check with him. “Of course.”

“Hermione says you can bring a date,” Ron added, giving Harry an exaggerated wink.

Harry groaned. “I don’t have a date, and if she dares set me up with another one-”

“No date,” Ron laughed, “Gotcha ya.”

Harry would trust Hermione with his life, just not his love life. He loved his best friend, he really did, he just wanted her to accept that he was happy single. He didn’t feel like he was missing a huge part of himself because he wasn’t married off. Harry didn’t know who was worse, Molly or Hermione.

***

It was ten am when Harry pushed open the door to the interrogation room with Dash trailing behind.

“You’re late.”

A harsh voice greeted them as they stepped inside.

“Hughes,” Harry nodded, his jaw clenching. Travers clearly had something to hide if he had called in Connor Hughes. In Harry’s ten years of being an Auror he had learnt that that no one innocent brought Hughes into the interrogation room with them. “Apologies, we had a hold-up getting here.” The hold-up had been Dash misplacing his bloody Unspeakable hat and Malfoy refusing to let him leave without it. Harry hated Unspeakables.

“My client has places to be, so if you wouldn’t mind getting on with it,” Hughes said, tapping his fingers against a folder that lay in front of him.

“It was our understanding that since this case involves his missing child, Marcus Travers was willing to give as much time as he could,” Harry replied, sitting down across the table and gesturing for Dash to do the same. Dash’s face was expressionless, midnight blue hair falling across his face despite the hat.

Harry’s eyes flicked to Travers, who licked his lips. Harry didn’t have to be a Legilimens to tell he was nervous.

“So as I told you yesterday, we’ll be using a Legilimens in this interview. Dashiel Wraith here is with the Department of Mysteries and will be monitored to ensure he doesn’t press too far into your head. It’s more to get a read on your emotions and to tell if you’re lying to us,” Harry said, now addressing Travers. Travers had been a Slytherin three years above him, so Harry had never spoken to him. Malfoy had said he was the stereotypical pure-blood ponce, pretty vocal with his opinions in the common room.

“And why can’t you just trust us?” Hughes asked, glaring at Harry.

“We have reason to believe Marcus here is hiding something - withholding information,” Harry clarified when Hughes opened his mouth to protest. “And we can’t see why seeing as it is his child that is missing, but I’m sure you can understand why we would want to be thorough, right Marcus?”

Marcus Travers swallowed before nodding. “I just want to find my little girl.”

“I know,” Harry said, pulling his wand out and muttering the spells that linked Dash to the monitor. Dash was wearing a lazy smile, and Harry checked to ensure his shield was up in his mind. He closed his eyes and took a moment to visualise the Protego spell spreading across again, reinforcing the shield. Keep practicing, Malfoy had told him. It’ll become as easy as breathing . Harry had spent all of last night sat at home visualising casting the Protego spell over and over in his head until he had had to go to bed because his head was pounding.

How long will it take? Harry had asked Malfoy after collapsing to the floor during their training that day, a severe migraine threatening to overwhelm him.

Malfoy had just gazed at him, something like a smile playing at the corner of his mouth. If I know you at all Potter, not long at all. Harry had been dumbstruck by the near compliment to reply and had forced himself to his feet and demanded that Malfoy go again. It was only when he got home that he had realised that that was probably the first time Malfoy had ever suggested he wasn’t stupid or useless.

Harry apparently had shockingly low standards.

“So, what can you tell us about the day of your daughter’s disappearance?” Harry asked.

“Didn’t I already go over this?” Travers asked.

Harry fiddled with the file in front of him containing Travers’s original statement. “You did, but we would like to hear it again.”

He’s hiding something .” Dash’s voice brushed against Harry’s mind, and it took everything he had not to recoil. Clenching his fists, Harry automatically went to his shield. “ Don’t worry, I’m not leaning on your pathetic attempt at Occlumency .”

Get out .”

This is the best way of communicating.”

“Why isn’t the monitor picking this up?

“Because for one, I could get around that monitor if I wanted. You guys really need to update your systems by the way, ask Dahl or Draco for the best way to do that. And two, because it’s mainly trying to catch me going into Marcus Travers’s head, not yours.”

Had Malfoy known that Dash would be able to get around the monitors? Of course he had. Harry had a feeling Malfoy knew his team far too well to not know something like that. That fucking git. God, of course Malfoy wouldn’t care about bending the ethical rules.

As your superior officer I’m warning you that if you go into his head, I will have you pulled up before the Minister.”

Travers was still talking, but Dash’s eyes flickered over to Harry’s.

You’re not the boss of me, Harry.”

I am co-Head of this case, meaning we are all together on this. So you don’t even think about entering his head, and you stay the fuck out of mine .” Harry gritted his teeth and shoved the shield with all his might, projecting it out. He felt the instance Dash left his head, and he hated the slow appraising smile Dash gave him.

Harry gave Dash a firm look and turned back to Travers, who had now finished reciting the same spiel he had given them the first time. Harry was having firm words with Malfoy about this.

“And so did you see anyone suspicious around your property prior to the abduction of Beatrice?” Harry asked. “We now have reason to believe that the children were chosen in advance of their being abducted,” he explained.

“No,” Travers answered.

“He’s lying,” Dash said, propping his chin up on his palm and gazing at Travers. “You did see someone, didn’t you?”

“He better not be in my client's head,” Hughes warned, turning his glare on Harry. Travers was too busy staring at Dash in shock. Harry understood; he had underestimated the scruffy man with messy blue hair and couple-of-days-old stubble as well. Harry had thought that haunting beauty was something genetic and not a warning sign for something more than human. Or less than.

“The monitor assures us he’s not,” Harry said. Although he couldn’t be sure. “Who did you see, Marcus?” Harry pressed, leaning forward. “You know how it looks if you lie to us, right? We’ll be forced to conclude that this whole worried parent thing is nothing more than an act. We’ll presume you’re involved in all the disappearances, and think how messy it will get then.”

“Who did you see?” Dash repeated. It unnerved Harry how still Dash was. His every movement seemed so deliberate.

Travers and Hughes exchanged a glance before Travers furrowed his brow and sighed.

“You won’t understand.”

“Try me,” Harry said.

Travers dropped his head into his hands for a few moments, and when he looked up it wasn’t to look at Harry, but at Dash. “My father, my father came to see me.”

“Your father is supposed to be missing as well. We’ve been trying to find him for Azkaban for ten years, and you’re telling me you’ve known where he is the whole time,” Harry asked, jaw tightening.

“He appears every now and again and then vanishes. I don’t know where he goes, and I don’t know where he comes from.”

“And you don’t ask?” Harry pushed.

Dash let out a small scoff. “Of course he doesn’t.”

Harry turned and glowered at the Unspeakable.

“If he asks, he’s accountable.” Dash shrugged as if he didn’t care.

“You understand don’t you, Wraith?” Travers said softly. “Because you would do the same if your parents had managed to escape death at the Battle of Hogwarts.”

Harry hadn’t known the Wraith twins’ parents had fought at the Battle. He knew Malfoy had mentioned that the Wraiths’ parents were Voldemort supporters, but Harry hadn’t known they were straight up Death Eaters.

“This is all neither here nor there. Now are you going to ask my client relevant questions, or shall I terminate this interview?” Hughes asked.

“And what did your father say?” Harry said, shifting the subject back onto the topic at hand.

Travers sighed. “He asked to see Beatrice. He had never seen her, and he wanted to see the next Travers heir at least once.”

“And you didn’t think to tell us this?” Harry growled, fingers gripping at the table. “A Death Eater and a missing child within the span of a week, what a coincidence.”

“He wouldn’t have taken her!” Travers said, his voice cracking.

Harry raised his eyebrows. “Your father killed his own cousin for dating a Muggle. How are we meant to believe he would draw the line at kidnapping children?”

“She’s pure-blood,” Travers said, as if that were answer enough. Harry hated that to someone like Travers, it still clearly was.

“What else did your father say to you?” Dash asked, his voice soft and even.

Travers’s jaw tightened.

“If we’re going to find your daughter and these other children we need to know this,” Harry said. “Please, Marcus.”

“He said it wouldn’t be like this,” Travers said, the words falling from his lips and the last of that haughty composed mask slipping from his face.

Harry sat up. “That sounds like a promise? What did he mean?”

“You don’t have to-” Hughes started, but Travers waved him off.

“He said things were changing again… different, a way things had never been before.” Travers looked exhausted, like this secret had been weighing on him since Beatrice’s disappearance. “He kept talking about the power Beatrice would have as a Travers child and that it was all part of the natural order… I…” He trailed off again.

Harry could tell he was cracking.

“What more can you tell us?” Harry prompted.

“He wouldn’t have taken her! He kept just rambling about the natural order! Traverses don’t turn on their own! He wouldn’t have taken her! He’s mad, but he’s not, he wouldn’t have.”

Harry leant back in his chair. Travers had cracked.

***

“I was in my lab,” Malfoy sighed. There were faint goggle marks on his pale skin that gave Harry the bizarre urge to trace them softly.

“Same,” Dahlia said, perched on the edge of Cho’s desk, her legs swinging back and forth. “What idiot sends a patronus into a lab where people are working with volatile matter?”

“We weren’t working with volatile matter?” Cho asked, smiling up at Dahlia, who shrugged.

“It’s the principle.”

Harry was starting to understand why Malfoy and his team got along so well.

“Harry and Dash got something from Travers and thought it would be useful for us all to know,” Terry said. When Harry had first started working with Terry Boot, he had thought he was a know-it-all swot with a rule fetish, and whilst Terry was still all those things, there were times when it could be particularly useful.

“Anyone ever noticed how Ravenclaw-dominated this team is? Go blue,” Dahlia laughed, shooting finger guns at both Terry and Cho, who grinned back at her. It struck Harry as such a Muggle gesture for a pure-blood to make

Harry rolled his eyes. He was used to being outnumbered by Ravenclaws nowadays, as he spent so much time with Terry and Cho. Robards had said something about too much Gryffindor recklessness wasn’t what he liked in his Auror teams. Harry and Ron had had to give him that.

“Yes, and it’s a travesty, though I suppose it could be worse,” Malfoy sighed.

“Are you insulting Gryffindor or Hufflepuff, I can never keep up?” Dash asked. He looked half-asleep at his desk again.

Malfoy smirked. “Both.”

Harry snorted and smiled at Malfoy when he caught his eye. Malfoy looked momentarily taken aback before giving Harry a smile in return. Harry turned back to the fresh whiteboard. He still had to have words with Malfoy about Dash and how he was able to get around the monitor.

“Anyway, as I was saying, Travers revealed that his father had appeared on the property a couple of days before Beatrice went missing,” Harry said.

“So they weren’t tracking her for a week like they were Annabel?” Cho asked.

Harry frowned. “No.”

“According to Marcus, Philleus mentioned the power Beatrice would have as a Travers heir, meaning he was thinking about blood purity,” Dash said, not lifting his head from the desk.

“Whilst Annabel had a Muggle father,” Terry said, poring over his notes.

“You said the tracker was responding to pulses of accidental magic,” Malfoy said turning to Dahlia, his face sharp. “Is there any way it was monitoring the magic itself as well?”

Dahlia’s legs kicked faster. “I wouldn’t be surprised.” Her fingers tapped against the table to a rhythm different from her legs.

“Can you find out?” Harry asked. Dahlia didn’t respond, her eyes shut.

Harry glanced at Malfoy who was looking at Dahlia with an expression of bemused fondness. Malfoy caught Harry watching, his face losing its softness. “She’s thinking about the device. Give her a moment.”

“Okay,” Harry laughed, running a hand through his hair and turning back to the whiteboard, writing down the ideas they had had. “So whilst Dahlia thinks, we are now pretty definite that these children are having their magic used in some way.”

Malfoy’s jaw clenched, and Harry wondered if he was thinking of Scorpius.

“So now we just need to figure out why,” Cho said.

Harry shot her a rueful grin. “Yeah, just that.”

“Nothing we can’t handle.” Terry shrugged, and Harry shook his head writing WHY? In huge letters on the board. If they could crack that they could understand the motive.

Malfoy leaned against his desk, lab coat sleeves rolled up to the elbow. Harry could see the faint pink scar from the Dark Mark. “What else did Travers reveal?”

“Not much. He certainly hasn’t seen any other Death Eaters lurking about the property,” Harry sighed.

“That he told you,” Malfoy countered.

“He wasn’t hiding anything,” Dash said.

Malfoy shifted his weight, his face scrunched up as he gazed at the whiteboard. “My father could know something.”

Harry stilled, staring at Malfoy. There was something in the set of Malfoy’s jaw that told Harry he had to watch what he said or Malfoy wouldn’t feel bad about hexing him. “Lucius?”

Malfoy rolled his eyes. “No, my real father, Fliggy the house-elf. Did you not hear the scandal? I’m actually part elf.”

Harry wondered if it was acceptable to chuck the pen across the room at Malfoy’s head. A soft snort came from Dash, making Harry realise he had let his mental shield drop. He took a moment to set it back in place before continuing.

“Could your father be involved?”

“Sacrificing children isn’t his style,” Malfoy frowned, staring at the board again. Harry had stuck up Phillius Travers’s mugshot in the corner, and Malfoy was staring at it, bottom lip caught between his teeth.

It was by the skin of his teeth that Harry refrained from pointing out a few incidents in his school years that suggested sacrificing children had very much been Lucius Malfoy’s style.

“So what use will he be?” Harry asked, noticing how the rest of the team had left him to maneuver the minefields of this one.

“You never know what his connections will be able to find out,” Malfoy sighed, standing up and massaging his temples. “That reminds me, I have a meeting soon with Unspeakable James from the magical studies department. He specialises in children's magic so may be able to help us.”

“Should we bring your father in for questioning then?” Harry asked, trying to keep his face blank so that Malfoy wouldn’t bite his head off.

Malfoy sighed again and shook his head. “I’ll speak to him this weekend.”

“Malfoy,” Harry started.

“I said I’d speak to him, Potter.” The jut of Malfoy’s jaw told Harry not to push it.

Harry nodded, “Okay.” He turned back to the whiteboard and prepared to start writing again. “So as we now have reason to believe that-”

“It’s all connected to the tracking device,” Dahlia said suddenly. She jumped off the desk and marched over to the whiteboard. “It’s all interconnected, isn’t it?” She pulled a whiteboard pen out of her curls and started scribbling on the board, her writing barely legible.

Harry shot a look over his shoulder at Malfoy who was moving forward, staring at the calculations Dahlia was writing. Harry gazed around the room desperately, but Cho and Terry were both watching Dahlia. Cho and Malfoy were the only ones who looked like they had a clue what was going on, but Harry could see Terry’s brain clicking.

As he became desperate to see that he wasn’t the only one who was completely lost, Harry glanced at Dash, who hadn’t even bothered to lift his head from the desk. Harry wondered if Dahlia let Dash into her head or if Dash just didn’t care.

Harry cleared his throat after a couple of minutes of Dahlia’s desperate scribbles and Malfoy, Terry and Cho saying things he didn’t understand.

“Can someone tell me what’s going on?”

“Shut up and look pretty,” Malfoy said, giving Harry a dismissive wave of his hand as he moved closer to Dahlia, blonde hair falling across his forehead.

Harry rolled his eyes and shoved his hands into his pockets. “You think I’m pretty?”

“I think you’re a git,” Malfoy huffed, but Harry could hear the smile in his voice.

“It’s pretty amazing really,” Cho said, turning around, her face alight.

“What how much of a git Malfoy is?” Harry deadpanned, snickering as Malfoy flipped him off without turning around.

Cho ignored them. “It’s amazing, in an absolutely horrible way of course, but the magic and engineering in the device...”

“Cho,” Harry prompted. He wasn’t in the mood for another these criminals are so talented spew.

Cho gave him an apologetic smile before moving over to the clear whiteboard and picking up the pen. “What Dahlia means in simple terms is— ” Harry tried not to be slighted by her use of the phrase simple terms . “Remember how I mentioned to you we thought the device worked similar to the underage magic trace?” Harry nodded. “What we presumed was the trace merely acting as a tracking device could actually be monitoring the levels of magic produced to see if the child is powerful enough for whatever they want it for. This is obviously hypothetical, but it’s what we’re working on.”

Harry raised his eyebrows and glanced between Cho and Dahlia’s scribbles. “And that’s everything?”

“That’s as much as I can give you without the calculations,” Cho said apologetically.

Dahlia threw the pen down, but Harry summoned it before it could hit the floor.

“I need to get back to my lab,” Dahlia said. “Come on, Cho.”

Harry watched, bewildered, as the two women left the room and turned back to Malfoy who was shaking his head at the calculations.

“I need to speak to Ezra, find out more about children’s magical levels,” Malfoy said, still frowning. “I’ll check in later.”

“Thanks,” Harry said, turning back to Terry and Dash. The latter was still lying face down on his desk. “And then there were three.”

Terry grinned. “Let’s go.”

***

Draco adjusted his robes before knocking on James’s door.

“Come in,” James’s lilting tones called back. Draco walked in and shut the door behind him.

Ezra James was a small Scottish man with a thick, wiry beard. Draco had always thought James looked like he would be better suited to hiking around the Highlands or wrestling dragons than dealing with the fiddly and unpredictable nature of children’s magic.

“Freddie told me you needed to speak to me about a case you’re working,” James said, beckoning Draco forward.

James reminded Draco of Hagrid in a much-tamer, less-stupid sort of way, and since Draco had never had the best relationship with the Hogwarts games manager, James always put Draco on his back foot.

“Yes,” Draco said, walking forward and hovering next to the chair. James waved him to sit down, and Draco tentatively took a seat, making sure to keep his features composed.

“Mint?” James asked, gesturing at a grubby-looking pot of mints just in front of Draco. Draco wrinkled his nose before smoothing out his face.

“No, thank you,” he said, pulling out his phone and setting it on the desk, turning on the voice record. “You don’t mind? I just don’t want to miss anything.” James waved his hand in what Draco presumed was a sign of acceptance. “What do you know about the different power levels between pure-bloods and Muggle-borns?”

“You’re not about to go on some Death Eater rampage, are you?” James asked, bushy eyebrows raised. Draco didn’t want this on record, but he couldn’t turn his phone off now.

Draco resisted the urge to hex the man or cast a well-aimed shaving charm at him just to spite him. Despite never being able to grow much facial hair – it was a Malfoy curse – Draco was particularly good at shaving charms. He had always used to help Crabbe out with them at school.

Draco had noticed Potter’s distinct lack of ability to cast a good shaving charm. That or he just never bothered with them. There was always stubble on Potter’s jaw and cheek. Draco hated it, mostly because every time he saw it he remembered how it felt dragging across his skin.

“No,” he said, jaw tightening as he gazed evenly at James. “The three children missing, two are pure-bloods and one is a half-blood with a pure-blood mother and Muggle father. There appear to be Death Eater ties, and so I’m wondering if there is any actual research on the difference in power levels of children aged five to ten.”

“That’s a very vague question.”

Draco really wanted to hex him.

“However, yes. Children with knowledge of their wizarding ancestry do tend to exhibit more power when they are younger because they’re not forced to hide it, and in pure-blood families especially the power tends to be encouraged to grow. Muggle children, however, often repress their powers because they’re aware that it makes them stand out. Can get them labelled as a freak.” James popped one of those mints into his mouth. Draco had a feeling that there would be more Dark matter on those disgusting mints than in his lab.

“So, someone monitoring the children’s power levels looking for the maximum power levels would notice a difference?”

“Not necessarily, but very likely,” James said. An owl flew into the room and dropped a letter on the table. James gave the owl a treat, and it flew off before he continued.

Draco worked to keep himself from angling his neck to read who James’s letter was from. He had tried to leave behind his nosy tendencies at Hogwarts, but there was only so much his curiosity could be sated.

“And what can children's magic be used for?” Draco asked. He wanted to get this report written up for Potter and go home to Scorpius. He was having the Slytherins over the next evening and so was planning to spend the night with Scorpius to make up for the last week. He had for some reason agreed to make homemade pizzas tonight. Draco had to stop Scorpius hanging out with Greg.

James laughed and leaned back in his chair. A retort Lucius had always snapped about sitting incorrectly being the height of uncivilisation lingered on Draco’s lips. “That’s a big question.”

Draco wasn’t sure why he had thought this discussion was a good idea.

“What I mean is I’ve spent my whole career studying the uses of children's magic,” James said.

“Of course,” Draco nodded, channeling every inch of self-control that Narcissa and Lucius had ever tried to teach him as a child. He had gotten a lot better at it when he realised the world didn’t owe him shit just because he was a pure-blooded Malfoy.

“How would you define magic, Malfoy?” James asked, leaning forward.

Draco raised his eyebrows. “That’s a big question.”

James smiled. “You’re sharp, aren’t you? Humour me.”

Humour him. Draco hated Gryffindors.

“Magic is,” Draco searched for the words, “a treasure, an honour. It’s something running through our veins that sets us apart from the rest, and we ought to do everything we can to protect it.” The words had been his father’s as a child, and whilst Draco no longer believed magic made him better than anyone else, he still understood that it made him different. Muggles could never understand it, the intricacy and beauty of magic. Draco had never wanted this job, but he couldn’t help his  awe of the things people managed to make magic do even if they were Dark spells.

“Spoken like a true Slytherin,” James laughed. Draco’s mouth thinned and James held his hands up. They were calloused and beefy. Draco stretched out his long, pale hands over his thighs. “It’s not an insult, just a little Department of Magical Study joke.

Draco hummed in what he hoped James would take as amusement. He knew every department had their jokes, though he would admit his department tended to have more callous jokes than the rest. Perhaps it was the Dark Magic going to their heads, he thought with a wry smile.

James clearly took this wry smile to mean Draco was amused and continued, “The houses often define magic differently. I was just curious.”

“And how do Gryffindors define magic?”

“Most define it as a weapon, a thing of wonder that should be wielded for the right cause.” It was the most disgustingly Gryffindor thing Draco had ever heard. “I tend to think of it as an ever changing vessel that needs constant attention to maximize it.”

“This is really interesting, but how is it relevant to children's magic?” Draco said. He clenched his fists to keep himself from massaging his temples in irritation. He hadn’t come here because he enjoyed James’s company.

James tipped his chair back again. “Children’s magic is the most raw form of magic, as it hasn’t been sharpened or trained. They haven’t discovered a niche yet, and they don’t have a wand guiding their magic. I’m presuming you’re aware of the effect wand personalities have on a wizard’s magic?”

“I’m aware,” Draco said. Some wands disliked doing Dark Magic and thus couldn’t master the spells as well. His old unicorn wand, for example, would never be able to master the spells that his new pine one could. He was surprised at some of the things that Potter had managed with his wand. Then again, he had caught on to just how powerful Potter really was. He wondered if the other man even was aware of how deep that well went. “So if someone were to channel a child's magic it could be more useful than an adult’s?”

“Magic is sentient and develops with a person’s character as they age. Obviously at the age we’re talking about a child’s personality is still forming, or at least has a lot of room for growth, so it can be manipulated more easily, forced to do what the other wants. It’s like how an adult could throw off an Imperius Curse, but a child couldn’t.” Draco was once again forced to remember Potter bragging that he had been able to throw off an Imperius Curse at fourteen. Draco couldn’t wait until this case was over to get away from Potter. He hated even more that that was a lie. Potter always had and always would fascinate him.

“The magic is fragile and if pushed too much could burn out, but if the person channeling the child’s magic did it just right…” James trailed off and shook his head. “There are some sick bastards in the world.”

Draco swallowed. Burn up. “So the children could lose their magic?”

“Burning out means that the magic wielder should count themselves lucky if all that happens is they become a Squib,” James cracked his knuckles, “If a magic wielder burns out, they could die.”

Draco closed his eyes for only a brief second. He leaned over and turned the voice record off. “Thank you for your help. I’ll be in contact if I have any further questions.”

“No problem,” James said, popping another mint in his mouth. “Malfoy,” Draco paused by the door and cast a glance at James. James needed a bigger seat, he seemed likely to burst out of it. “Catch the bastards.”

“I intend to,” Draco promised before sweeping out of the room. He needed to speak to Potter.

Chapter Text

“Pass the salt,” Ron said, waving his hand in an exaggerated gesture.

“Summon it,” Harry grinned, from where he was stirring the gravy.

Ron glared at him. “ Oooh I’m Harry Potter and I passed Wandless Magic with flying colours,” Ron mimicked, giving the chicken a violent poke with the carving knife.

“Boys,” Hermione sighed. They both turned and grinned at her before Harry summoned the salt into his hand and passed it to Ron who rolled his eyes and laughed.

“Show off,” Ron said, sprinkling the roast chicken with the salt before he started to carve it.

They had been doing weekly dinners together since Hermione finished Hogwarts. It was always the same routine: they found a night that worked around their hectic schedules and then Ron and Harry cooked. Harry had once believed that there wasn’t something that Hermione couldn’t learn from a book but he had since been proved wrong. No matter how many cookbooks Hermione read, everything she tried to cook came out tasting either like clinical waste or polyjuice potion.

“I can’t help being talented,” Harry shrugged, dodging out of the way of the potato skin Ron threw his way.

“How old are you again?” Hermione said dryly, raising her eyebrows at them both and pointing her wand at the potato peel and Vanishing it.

“I’ll have you know you’re talking to two wise and seasoned Aurors,” Ron said, pretending to be affronted and gesturing wildly. Harry moved out of the way before his best mate, the wise and seasoned Auror, could stab him with the carving knife.

“How is that case going?” Harry asked, turning the heat off the oven and pouring the gravy into a jug.

Ron pulled a face and Harry stepped around him to get the potatoes out. “Alright, we’ve caught one of the dealers but he’s refusing to talk about who his supplier is,” Ron passed Hermione a plate of chicken. “Think Malfoy will let me nick male-Wraith to try get it out of him?”

“You can’t just use Legilimency on people,” Hermione sighed as she laid the table. “It’s a complete violation.”

Harry pointed at Hermione in agreement. “Malfoy’s pretty protective about his team, I don’t know if he’d be willing to risk Dash getting in trouble.”

“Maybe I’ll just threaten the perp, tell him we’ll be forced to use the Legilimens if he doesn’t speak,” Ron mused.

Harry placed the potatoes and the vegetables on the table. “That’d work.”

“I’m pretending I can’t hear you,” Hermione laughed, opening a bottle of wine and sitting down at the table.

Harry and Ron grinned at each other again before sitting down either side of Hermione. “How’s your work going?” Harry asked.

Hermione tucked a dark curl behind her ear and wrinkled her nose. “We’ve had some bizarre cases recently, werewolves who have lost control, Squibs who have tried to gain magic and failed, leaving their bodies short circuited. And that’s not to mention the two vampires who came in the other day,” she paused to take a bite of her food. “I’m exhausted.”

“Shall we stop the work conversation?” Harry said, draining the rest of his beer and Vanishing the bottle so he could begin his wine.

Ron shook his head. “I want to hear more about Malfoy.”

“Never thought I’d hear you say that,” Hermione smirked.

“Me neither,” Ron grinned. “Not after sixth year.”

“Will you two ever let that go?” Harry groaned, glaring at his best friends who smiled at each other before shaking their heads in unison. “He was up to something,” Harry grumbled for what felt like the thousandth time.

Hermione hummed in that way that Harry knew meant she was placating him. “He was.” She shared a look with Ron. “We’re just not used to you not talking about Malfoy.”

What did that even mean? Hermione was making out like Harry had spent all of his time at Hogwarts and post-Hogwarts talking about Malfoy, which he hadn’t. Obviously at Hogwarts Malfoy had been his rival and Voldemort aside, the world's biggest pain in his arse, and then there had been the whole should Harry give Malfoy’s wand back or not debate, and that wasn’t even including the shagging Malfoy thing.

Harry poked his dinner with his fork and mumbled, “There’s just not much to say.”

“Fucking hell, Harry,” Ron groaned, knife and fork clattering against the plate.

“Ron,” Hermione said, somehow managing to sound both scolding and questioning at the same time.

Ron peered at Harry, his brows furrowing before leaning back and shaking his head. “Don’t you see it?” he said, turning to Hermione.

Hermione raised her eyebrows and stared at Harry. Harry was beginning to feel like a bug under a microscope.

“What?” He snapped.

Hermione’s eyebrows shot up and she sighed. “Oh, Harry, you didn’t?”

“He did,” Ron said, shaking his head.

Hermione sighed again and took a long sip of her wine.

“What did I do?” Harry said, his temper starting to rise. He hated when they spoke about him like he wasn’t there or didn’t let him in on the conversation. He understood that things would never be like they were at school. He’d had had ten years to come to peace with the fact that he would always be the odd one out of the threesome. It was understandable. Even back when Hermione and Ron had broken up, things hadn’t been quite right.

Ron and Hermione looked at each other again and Harry gripped his fork tighter.

“You shagged Malfoy again didn’t you?” Ron blurted out, earning a glare from Hermione.

“You could have phrased that better!”

“What better way was there to say it?”

“Any way! Any way would have been better than that!”

Harry was still staring at his best mates as they squabbled between the two of them about Ron’s lack of tact . “I didn’t shag Malfoy,” he said, breaking through their argument and trying to ignore the evident grit in his voice that gave away that he was lying.

Ron and Hermione stopped arguing and fixed him with matching disbelieving expressions.

“And I’m not shagging Hermione,” Ron deadpanned, causing Hermione to glare at him.

“Then you must be living a pretty celibate life,” Harry said.

Hermione turned her glare on him and Harry tried to glare back before withering and slumping down on his chair.

“Fine, maybe, we got together,” he admitted, crossing his arms and not caring if he looked like a petulant child.

“I knew it,” Ron whooped before yelping. Harry presumed Hermione had kicked him under the table. “So, want to talk about it?”

“Not particularly,” Harry mumbled, shoving a potato in his mouth so that he wouldn’t be able to speak while he chewed.

Hermione sucked her bottom lip into her mouth and shook her head. “Harry, you know you have to report that.”

Harry kept chewing the potato and glared at Ron, who had the decency to look abashed. This was why he hadn’t told Ron.

Hermione went on. “You’re the two Heads of a crucial case, and if this is going to affect your-”

“It won’t affect anything!” Harry growled, swallowing the potato. “It was one time, and it was a fucking accident.”

“Did he trip and land on your dick?” Ron asked innocently, before yelping again as both Harry and Hermione kicked him. “Sorry, look mate, you don’t need to report it, just make sure your head’s in the right place.”

“When is his head ever in the right place about Draco Malfoy?” Hermione said. “He needs to report it.”

“I’m not reporting it.”

“Hermione,” Ron said softly, reaching over and taking Hermione’s hand. Hermione glared at Ron, and they had another one of their unspoken conversations. Harry sighed loudly, but he didn’t protest because he at least knew Ron was arguing his side this time.

“It should be reported,” Hermione repeated, turning her gaze on Harry. “You need to think of the case!”

“Nothing will happen again,” Harry promised, dragging his hands through his hair. “It’s out of our system now. Done and dusted.”

“I just worry that Draco Malfoy will never be out of your system,” Hermione said, taking Harry’s hand in hers.

Harry swallowed and nodded. He knew that Hermione and Ron only wanted the best for him, and he knew if he were a better person he possibly would report it. However, he didn’t trust anyone else on this case with the children, and he certainly couldn’t risk Malfoy being taken off it.

Hermione changed the topic, and Harry let her. He tried not to dwell on the fact that he was terrified that Draco Malfoy would never be out of his system either.

***

Harry liked the Ministry on a Saturday afternoon, and not only because Holly wasn’t working at Brewer Brother’s so he could get his coffee hassle free.

He liked the dull hum of people wandering about. He liked the way he could move through the Atrium without people staring, or getting barged out of the way by people on a mission. Ron always remarked that he found the quiet creepy, but Harry welcomed it.

He didn’t need to be in today, but he was desperate to try to make some more headway on the case, especially with Hermione’s words ringing in his ears about ensuring that he didn’t prioritise Malfoy. Harry had gone to the gym this morning to try distract himself, but by lunchtime he had accepted that he was going to go mad if he didn’t go into the Ministry today.

He sat down at his desk and spun around on his chair and started to sort through all the work they had achieved over the week.

It seemed that Dahlia was close to figuring out how to find the origin of the magical signature on the device and working out what magic had even managed to make it in the first place. Most of her notes made no sense to Harry, but he could appreciate that she was clearly a genius. Cho’s notes seconded what the two women were trying to accomplish.

Malfoy had sent Harry a transcript of his conversation with James as well as a load of research that he had dug up on past uses of children's magic, and a list of living Death Eaters who had been into experimental magic. Malfoy’s notes were written in that familiar spiky scrawl, and despite it’s overall formal tone, every now and again Harry’s mouth curled up in amusement as a sarcastic comment slipped through.

Malfoy had included side notes about Bellatrix, who may have been an inspiration for other Death Eaters. Malfoy’s voice seemed so detached on the page as he described the things that Bellatrix used to say to him, especially the things she had said when Teddy Lupin was born.

“The only good thing that disgusting werewolf brat could be useful for is sacrificing its magic for better use.” - Lycanthropy is a strong source of magic, as it involves the victim transforming against its will, meaning the magical core has been affected and altered. Bellatrix was of the opinion that this unyielding source of magic combined with the Black family blood in Teddy Lupin’s veins would mean he would make an excellent syphon. I am unsure of how much of this was a joke to show how much she hated and resented Teddy Lupin’s existence, and how much she perhaps knew about the sacrificing of children. (Ask Mother and Father if they know if this was just Aunt Bella being crazy as usual or could be useful)

Harry had a feeling that Malfoy had forgotten to erase that side note before sending them over to Harry. Harry still wasn’t fully convinced that letting Malfoy just casually ask his parents some questions was the best way to deal with this. Harry didn’t trust Lucius Malfoy as far as he could throw him, and while the Ministry had no proof that Lucius Malfoy had returned to his sketchy ways once free of Azkaban, that didn’t mean Lucius had taken a turn for the straight and narrow.

Lucius Malfoy was and always would be an expert at toeing the line until he thought it was safe to step fully over it. There was only so much that anyone could change.

The thought nagged at Harry as he continued to read through the notes and wrote down more and more far-fetched hypothesis in his increasing desperation to figure out what had happened to the kidnapped children. Malfoy’s notes from James included the worry that the children could be drained of their magic, and while Harry knew that alive and magicless was better than dead, he wanted to return these children with their magic intact.

Eventually the nagging thought won out, and he called up the Ministry weekend helpline.

He stared at the number he had typed into his mobile and bit his lip. He was lucky that it had been Helen who had answered the phone. Anyone else and he doubted he would have been able to secure Malfoy’s personal number. Helen, as she proudly told him every time they spoke, was a member of the Harry Potter Fan Club, and while the name and thought made Harry feel exceptionally queasy, he had to admit that it had its uses.

He pressed dial and listened to it ring.

“Hello?” Malfoy’s plummy tone echoed in Harry’s ear. “Who is this?”

“It’s Harry,” Harry said automatically. “Harry Potter.”

Silence and then a sigh. “How the fuck did you get my number?”

“Dad!” Harry heard a kid’s voice cry in the background and the sound of Malfoy mumbling in his ear. Harry grinned.

“Sorry,” Malfoy said, “What do you want?”

“Dad, you have to put a galleon in the swear jar!”

Malfoy huffed and Harry snorted. “I’m glad you’re enjoying this.”

“Isn’t a galleon a bit much for saying fuck ?” Harry asked, kicking his feet up on his desk.

He could almost hear Malfoy rolling his eyes. “Be careful Potter or I’ll make you put a galleon in the swear jar.”

Harry laughed. “I think we’d all be fucked if we initiated a swear jar at work.”

“That’s two galleons now,” Malfoy teased and Harry smiled again.

“Dad!” Scorpius cried again in the background.

“Go on, pay up,” Harry said, adjusting his phone.

“Have I ever told you how much I hate you?” Malfoy asked, his voice becoming more distant as he moved away from the phone. “Wait here one second Scorpius, I’ve just got to take this business call.”

“But you’re always working!” Harry heard Scorpius groan in the background.

Malfoy sighed. “I know it seems that way, but I’ve got something really important on at the moment.”

“What?” Scorpius asked.

Harry suddenly felt like he was intruding on a private family moment, but he couldn’t bring himself to put down the phone.

“I’m working a case with Harry Potter and he needs my help.”

There was a moment's silence before an excited cry sounded. “ The Harry Potter! Dad, that so cool! Can I meet him? Is that him on the phone? Can I speak to him? We learnt about him again in school last week!”

Harry couldn’t help himself from laughing.

“Yes, you told me,” Malfoy said, and his exasperated tone only increased Harry’s amusement. “And what did I tell you?”

“That Harry Potter’s overrated,” Scorpius grumbled.

Harry stopped laughing. “Hey!”

“I don’t think he sounds overrated though,” Scorpius continued, “We learnt all about how he defeated You-Know-Who-”

“Voldemort,” Malfoy prompted, surprising Harry.

“Voldemort,” Scorpius corrected, “And Harry Potter was all like, Expelliarmus!”

Malfoy hummed and Harry snickered. “Yes, you’ve demonstrated, now if you let me take this call we can continue where we left off quicker?”

“Okay,” Harry heard Scorpius sigh and then there were footsteps before Malfoy’s crisp voice came in the phone again.

“So what do you want, Potter?”

“Does Scorpius want my autograph?” Harry asked innocently, smirking as Malfoy groaned. “I’m always happy to meet the fans.”

“We both know that’s a lie,” Malfoy scoffed.

Harry raised his eyebrows and tapped his fingers against his desk. “I thought you thought I was an attention seeking prat ?”

Malfoy hummed in amusement. “I do, or I did…”

“Are you admitting you were wrong?” Harry asked, not able to hide his surprise. He was glad they were having this conversation over the phone or he had a feeling Malfoy would have hexed him.

Malfoy scoffed again. “We’re not at Hogwarts anymore, Potter.”

“I’m aware,” Harry’s voice came out lower than he had intended it to. Memories of Malfoy above him on his kitchen table flashed through his mind, images of how good Malfoy looked in his Unspeakable robes, dangerous thoughts of the power that lurked at Malfoy’s finger tips because of his area of expertise. Harry had always wanted someone who wouldn’t be afraid of him. Malfoy had never been afraid of him, not really.

He heard Malfoy’s sharp intake of breath, and licked his lips subconsciously. They weren’t at Hogwarts anymore. Malfoy was a grown man, someone who for the most part kept his emotions under control, unlike the bratty kid Harry had first known, but there was always that simmering something more just under the surface. Malfoy might fool others, but he couldn’t fool Harry. Or maybe it was just the two of them always would play off each other. They were like the double-poled magnets Harry remembered from prep school, simultaneously attracting and repelling each other.

“Look Potter, I presume you’re not calling for a chit-chat,” Malfoy’s voice jolted Harry from his thoughts. “Who gave you my number anyway?”

“No, I’m not,” Harry sighed before letting out a soft laugh. “Helen, she’s a fan.”

“Everyone’s a fucking fan,” Malfoy muttered.

“Are you?” Harry couldn’t help but tease.

Malfoy laughed and Harry grinned. “Just get on with it Potter before my son gets tired of both of our shit.”

“That’s two galleons in the swear jar,” Harry said.

“Potter,” Malfoy sighed, but Harry could hear the amusement in his voice.

“Sorry,” Harry laughed before taking on a more professional note. “It’s about your father.” Malfoy went silent, and for a brief moment Harry wished they didn’t have to talk about work. He pushed that thought aside instantly as Hermione’s voice rang in his head. He had to stay professional. “I don’t think you should be the only one to speak to your father.”

Malfoy was silent again.

“I want to speak to him too.”

“Don’t you trust me to do my job?” Malfoy’s voice was tense, and Harry longed for the soft humour that had been there only moments ago.

Harry sighed. “That’s not it, but look, you’re too close to him, and you’re not trained in interviewing suspects.”

“I’m also not an idiot,” Malfoy shot back, and Harry could hear Malfoy grinding out the words.

“I never said you were,” Harry said softly, trying to figure out how to unfuck this. “Look, this case is too big and I’ve been reading through your notes and I just really think-”

“What do you really think?” Malfoy said— more like spat.

Harry spun around in his chair and counted to three. He was not going to rise to Malfoy. Harry was going to prove to Hermione that he could be mature. “Perhaps if you didn’t interrupt me,” you git , Harry left off, “I would be able to tell you what I thought.” He waited, and then took Malfoy’s sulky silence as a signal to continue. “Come on, I just want a really thorough chat with your dad; if we nail it the first time round it means we don’t have to call him in for questioning, which I know you’re trying to avoid. Maybe have a glance around his study.”

Malfoy remained silent, and Harry suddenly wished he could see him so he could have some understanding of what he was thinking.

“Come on, Malfoy,” he said, “you know how important this is.” He paused before going in for the kill, “Think if it were Scorpius.”

Malfoy’s sharp inhale told Harry he had him and Harry tried not to feel too bad about emotionally manipulating Malfoy. He needed to be there with Malfoy speaking to Lucius.

“What makes you think my father will even speak to you? He hates you,” Malfoy said, and his tone had softened.

“We make it out that we’re friends?” Harry shrugged, feeling stupid when he realised Malfoy couldn’t see him. “Come on, if your dad thinks he can gain advantage from being close to me he’ll take it.”

“Stop acting like you understand my father,” Malfoy said before huffing. “But you’re right.”

“Okay, good,” Harry nodded, once again forgetting Malfoy wasn’t there. He let out a breath he hadn’t been aware he had been holding. “First of all you admit you were wrong about something, and then you admit I’m right. Are you feeling okay?” Harry teased, trying to lighten the mood again.

Malfoy sniffed, “No, I’m just feeling like an adult.”

Harry laughed, and he liked to imagine Malfoy was smiling too. “So when are we speaking to him?”

“Tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?”

“Yes,” Malfoy said, “I’m having Sunday lunch and you’ll be joining us.”

Harry whistled. He was being thrown straight into the deep end it seemed. Lunch with the Malfoys. Ron would be in hysterics when he heard.

“I presume that’s okay with you?” Malfoy asked, the challenge clear.

“That’s okay with me,” Harry said, he started to say goodbye before pausing. “Won’t your parents think it’s weird if you just rock up with your good old friend Harry Potter?”

“They’ll think it’s exceptionally weird,” Malfoy sighed, and Harry laughed again.

“They’ll probably think we’re secretly dating,” Harry joked, waiting for Malfoy to laugh. “Malfoy?” He prompted when Malfoy didn’t laugh.

There was a loud groan from Malfoy’s end. “My mother will think we’re dating.”

“Surely not?” Harry said, unable to keep the snicker in. He tried to turn it into a cough, and he could almost see Malfoy’s disparaging look over the phone. Harry didn’t dwell on why he could picture all of Malfoy’s reactions so clearly.

There was silence. “Oh sorry, I nodded,” Malfoy said, causing Harry to grin. He was glad he wasn’t the only one. “But yes, she will.”

“I mean if it’s easier I could just pretend to be your boyfriend?” Harry said, chewing on his lip and fiddling with his pen trying to keep his tone casual. “I mean… we’ve… you know.”

“Potter,” Malfoy squawked.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Just a suggestion Malfoy, I’m not asking for a ring.”

Malfoy huffed and Harry smiled. “No, it’s just… I can’t.”

“They know you’re gay, don’t they?”

“Yes, they know I’m gay, it’s more I can’t just introduce you as my boyfriend to Scorpius and then have you bugger off the next day,” Malfoy sighed. “I don’t introduce anyone to Scorpius until I know the relationship is serious.”

“And how many people have you introduced to Scorpius?” The words fell out of Harry’s mouth before he could stop them, spurred on by his burning curiosity.

“None,” Malfoy said. “I don’t really date.” Malfoy seemed to be waiting for Harry to laugh but he didn’t. Everything he learnt about Malfoy and Scorpius just increased Harry’s respect for Malfoy. Harry certainly couldn’t have raised a child fresh out of the war, but Malfoy seemed made for fatherhood.

“What time shall I see you tomorrow then?” Harry said to change the subject.

There was a soft pause on Malfoy’s side before he spoke, “I’ll text you my Floo co-ordinates and otherwise be here at twelve, so Scorpius can get his fan-moment out of his system.”

Harry laughed and shook his head. “I’ll see you then, Malfoy.”

“Draco.”

Harry frowned. “Yes?”

“If you’re my friend you’ll have to call me Draco,” Malfoy said before taking a deep breath. “That good with you, Harry ?” Hearing his name in Malfoy’s posh drawl and not followed by fucking Potter was strange. Harry pulled a face, but if Malfoy could do it so could he.

“That’s good with me, Draco .”

There was another pause and they both laughed.

“Sounds weird, doesn’t it?” Harry said.

“It does,” Malfoy said, and Harry could once again hear the smile in his voice. “See you tomorrow, Harry.”

“See you tomorrow, Draco,” Harry said, waiting until Malfoy had hung up before he dropped his phone onto the pile of paperwork on his desk. Why did he feel like he had just flown a Quidditch match after merely speaking to Malfoy over the phone? Was Harry meant to start thinking of him as Draco now, as he wasn’t sure he was quite ready for that?

Harry gazed around his office, taking in the worn leather sofa and a used set of Auror robes that he had left discarded from last week. The entire space was pretty impersonal aside from the robes. He tried to tell himself that he hadn’t had time to decorate yet, but he knew that wasn’t true, his old cubicle had been the same.

It drew a harsh contrast with Ron’s office with its homemade cushions and picture frames on the desk. The goofy sign from George hanging on the wall and the autographed poster of Ginny flying with the Harpies that Ginny had stuck up in outrage when she saw Ron’s Cannons poster.

Harry had fallen into his career as an Auror after the war, searching for his purpose, and he had never thought about doing anything else. However, as he sat alone in his office on Saturday afternoon, the weight of those missing children on his shoulders, he was forced to wonder whether he was getting tired of saving the world.

***

A whoosh sounded from the living room and Pansy’s drawl of “Hello, darling” echoed throughout the house.

Scorpius let out a shout and tore away to go meet her. Draco let out an exasperated laugh and followed his son from the kitchen into the living room.

“Hello,” Draco replied, leaning against the doorframe, raising an eyebrow at the amount of cleavage Pansy had on show considering she was coming to a friendly dinner where the only other single person was gay.

“Don’t start, I’ve got a bone to pick with you, and we both know I wasn’t talking to you anyway,” Pansy said, dismissing him with a wave of her hand and dropping to her knees and hugging Scorpius to her chest. “I was talking to my favourite.” Scorpius sent Draco a smug smile and Draco shook his head.

“Look I lost another tooth!” Scorpius said, proudly pointing at the latest gap in his mouth.

Pansy cooed again, planting a kiss on Scorpius’s cheek who beamed at her.

Draco rolled his eyes. “It’s fine, I don’t want to be either of your favourite.”

“Well, that’s lucky,” Pansy grinned, rubbing  the red mark she had left on Scorpius’s cheek with her thumb. Scorpius groaned and ducked away from her. “You getting too old for me, Scorp?”

“I think it’s the other way around,” Draco deadpanned, smirking as Pansy ignored him.

“You got yourself a girlfriend?” Pansy prompted. “Is that why you don’t want me anymore?”

Scorpius shook his head, nose wrinkled. “Girls are just my friends.”

Pansy raised her eyebrows. “You can tell he’s your son.”

Draco sighed dramatically and shrugged as if there was nothing he could do. “It’s the gay agenda.”

“Alright there, Lucius,” Pansy said.

Draco waited until Scorpius was looking the other way before sticking his middle finger up at Pansy, who just grinned at him. “So what’s the bone you have to pick with me?”

Pansy accepted the glass of wine Gloria offered her and stood up, narrowing her eyes and pointing at Draco. “You’re working on the missing children case.”

Draco had been waiting for Pansy to sniff that out. Bloodhound. “I am.”

“And you didn’t tell me?”

“What was I supposed to tell you?”

“So you’re working with Potter?”

Draco massaged his temples and led Pansy through to the kitchen. Gloria took Pansy’s coat and was then dragged off by Scorpius to help him play his latest game. Draco took over the cooking.

“Are you asking as a reporter or as my friend?” Draco asked, stirring the sauce and leaning over to pick up his own glass of wine.

Pansy hummed for a moment and took a sip of her drink. “Can’t it be both?”

“You know it can’t,” Draco said. He loved Pansy, he always had and always would. There had been a time when he had presumed they would end up married. If the war hadn’t happened maybe this would be their house. They would have spent the day with Scorpius, relaxing in bed, and they would have hosted the rest of their friends together. Of course there was the problem of Draco’s sexuality and Pansy’s lack of interest in settling down and having children, but it was still a thought.

Her job at the Prophet had raised some tension between them, but they were always able to maneuver it. However, Draco had never been on a case with such high stakes before. His work didn’t normally involve the public eye.

“Okay, no case details for now,” Pansy said, waving her hand at him. Draco knew he had only temporarily dodged the curse. “Tell me how you're coping with Potter.”

“He’s as insufferable as ever,” Draco shrugged. Pansy raised her eyebrows and he knew she meant how was he coping with Potter because of that night in Nice. “It’s fine. You don’t need to worry about me.”

Draco wondered if shagging Potter and then agreeing to let him tag along to Sunday lunch at the Manor counted as being fine . He had a feeling Pansy wouldn’t count it as nothing to worry about.

“I always need to worry about you, your track record is questionable at best,” Pansy said. “And it always becomes worse when Potter is involved.”

She certainly had a point there if Draco shagging Potter on his kitchen table was anything to go by. “I’m fine,” he repeated, rubbing his jaw.

“You always do that when you lie,” Pansy said.

Draco dropped his hand and scowled at his friend. “Look-” the doorbell rang and Blaise’s booming voice filled the kitchen as he and Thea greeted Scorpius. “We’ll talk about this later.”

“You fucking bet we will,” Pansy said, tugging on the neckline of her dress as she marched past Draco to greet their friends. Draco took a long sip of his wine. It would be fine. Draco could handle his friends.

As Draco ate his dinner he was forced to consider the fact that he overestimated his control over his friends. They were a long way from the first years of Slytherin when he sauntered around holding court. They were all on equal footing now and that meant that no prisoners were taken.

Draco swirled his wine around in his glass and rolled his eyes at Pansy, who licked her lips as she finished off the chocolate cake Gloria had provided for pudding.

“I know you're hiding details from me, darling,” Pansy said again, pointing her fork at Draco.

The topic of the case had haunted Draco throughout the entire meal. Once Blaise had caught onto possible gossip, he had been just as bad as Pansy about begging for details. Blaise worked in Gringotts, so he didn’t need the details for anything but his personal nosiness. Blaise had put on a good air of pretending to be aloof at Hogwarts, but Draco knew he was just as much as a nosy git as any of them.

Despite the current badgering, Draco knew he ought to make more of an effort to see his friends. Once a month wasn’t really enough. He could feel the tension seeping out of his body with every sip of wine and sharp laugh. He played with the cuff of his shirt; he ought to take Thea up on her shopping offer. He had been so caught up with work recently that his life had narrowed to the Ministry and Scorpius.

“I’m not telling you anything,” Draco repeated, smiling lazily.

“He can’t tell you anything without betraying his precious Potter,” Blaise sighed, and Draco flipped him off without looking at him.

Thea laughed. “Come on Draco, you can’t still be prioritising Potter.”

“I’m prioritising the case,” Draco said, turning to Thea who smirked at him, leaning her head on Blaise’s shoulder. Blaise kissed the top of his wife’s head.

“It’s like we’re back at Hogwarts, Draco’s fantasising about Potter again,” Pansy sighed. “Do you know how many years of my life have been wasted listening to you talk about Potter?”

“Yes, think of all the more important things you could have been doing like screwing everyone that looks at you,” Blaise deadpanned.

“Bitchy isn’t a good look, Blaise,” Pansy shrugged, admiring her nails. There was a smile curling at her lips and Draco grinned into his glass. He knew most people thought they were too cruel, the Slytherin dynamic too harsh and sharp, but their sparring was a sign of comfort. They had reached a point where they knew exactly what would hurt to say and they left those areas untouched.

Blaise laughed, a loud hearty sound. “You would know, I suppose.”

“Pans, you talk as if you weren’t the queen bitch,” Thea said, eyebrow arched.

“I’d rather be queen bitch than a friendless loser.”

Draco snorted and put his wine glass down. The snorting was always a clear sign that he had drunk too much. “I seem to remember at school you were both.”

“Oh, and I forgot you were Mr Popular,” Blaise said.

Greg took a large glug of his wine. “You are all awful people.”

“Don’t you mean we and were ?” Thea said.

“No, I do not,” Greg took another sip of his wine.

“Sweetheart,” Millie prompted, tucking her feet up underneath herself and entwining her fingers with Greg’s.

“Fine,” Greg laughed. “ We were all awful people.”

“Oh, so now it’s were ,” Draco huffed, picking his wine glass back up. He only got the opportunity to get drunk with his friends once a month. He would take a sobering potion before bed and that would hopefully be enough for tomorrow.

Greg grinned at him and held up his glass in cheers. Draco toasted to his friends and let the wine Millie had bought slide down his throat. She always had had excellent taste. He had many a fond memory of fifth year raiding the Bulstrode wine cellars.

Pansy sighed and gazed over at a photo of three-year-old Scorpius on the wall. “I remember when little Scorpy thought I was the coolest thing ever.”

“I don’t think he ever thought that,” Blaise snickered.

Pansy nodded. “Oh, but he did.” Her teeth were starting to stain red from the wine.

Now paranoid, Draco ran his tongue over his own teeth. He smiled at the picture before squeezing Pansy’s shoulder in comfort. “Don’t worry, he doesn’t think anyone but Potter is cool now.”

Thea chuckled. “Why am I not surprised?”

“Is it a Malfoy thing to be obsessed with Potter?” Greg groaned, Millie reached over and rubbed her husband’s back in comfort.

“I wasn’t obsessed,” Draco said firmly. He was not getting into this again.

Greg raised his eyebrows. “You were, you are and you always will be.”

“I am not,” Draco scowled.

“Okay, new rule: anyone who mentions Potter has to buy everyone a bottle of the most expensive elf wine they can find,” Blaise said.

“Agreed,” Draco said, ignoring the pointed looks they all had the audacity to give him. They were the ones who kept making it into a bigger deal than it needed to be. “Now, confession time, who told Scorpius about the time I was turned into a ferret?” he asked, baring his teeth in a pointed grin at his friends, who all looked at one another and smirked.

“So, Pans, you said you were thinking of getting a Kneazle, yes?” Millie said loudly.

Draco rolled his eyes and let the game commence.

***

“Malfoy?” Potter’s questioning voice called out.

Scorpius turned to Draco, his eyes wide and the homework in front of him that Draco had been helping with now forgotten.

“Dad-” Scorpius started, bouncing up and down.

Draco tried to keep his expression firm but it was hard with the star-struck glee imprinted on Scorpius’s face. “What did I say?”

Scorpius groaned loudly. “Please! Please! Please!”

Draco debated trying to do the right thing and make Scorpius finish his homework before he was allowed to meet Potter. Draco had said from the start that Scorpius couldn’t meet his questionably chosen hero until he was done with his maths work, but Scorpius had been too excited all morning to really concentrate. Also, the idea of setting Scorpius loose on Potter was just too amusing to pass up.

Draco sat back with a sigh and waved his hand. “Bring him into the kitchen will you?”

“Yes!” Scorpius shouted, jumping up and running off. “Harry Potter!” Draco heard him squeal. Draco cast a look at Scorpius’s now forgotten homework. He would have to make him do it this evening. Merlin, Draco wasn’t looking forward to that challenge with a sleepy seven-year-old.

Draco tidied Scorpius’s homework up and put the kettle on, smiling at the sound of Scorpius jabbering away at Potter. He could hear the odd laugh and mumbled word from Potter and made two cups of tea for him and Potter.

“Can you do the Expelliarmus spell?” Scorpius said, leading Potter into the kitchen and beaming over at Draco. “Dad said you’d demonstrate the Expelliarmus spell for me!”

Potter shot Draco a look and Draco shrugged, trying to look innocent. He had said pretty much anything to get Scorpius to sit down and do his homework this morning.

“Your dad agreed to let me duel him did he?” Potter asked, a sly smile tugging at his lips.

Scorpius’s face lit up with glee. “If anyone could beat you it would be my dad! I know it!”

Draco questioned why he had thought having a child would ever be a good idea.

“I don’t know,” Potter hummed, leaning against the door in amusement. He looked good, Draco noted, albeit reluctantly. He was in smart black jeans and a white button-down shirt, the sleeves rolled up exposing his brown, muscled arms. Draco swallowed and turned away, stirring the tea. “I am The Saviour after all.”

“Starting to believe your own hype, are you?” Draco laughed, passing Potter the tea.

Potter accepted it laughing, a retort seemingly on his lips as he took a sip. Potter paused and stared at the tea, brows furrowed.

“Do you not want it?” Draco asked, biting his lip.

“No, I just didn’t know you knew how I took my tea was all,” Potter said. There seemed to be more to the statement than either of them wanted to admit, as Potter’s eyes met Draco’s.

Draco shrugged and dragged his eyes away to Scorpius, who was watching  them both. “You always make it the same way in the incident room.” He wanted to tell Potter he had noticed how Chang and Boot took their tea too, but he would be lying. He also was pretty sure Potter would know he was lying. “Scorpius, do you have anymore questions for Potter- Harry,” Draco corrected himself, trying not to like the way Potter’s mouth quirked up into a smile, “before we go?”

Scorpius nodded eagerly before continuing to jabber away to Potter.

“Is it true you fought off the world’s biggest snake?”

“Well not the world’s biggest…”

“When I go to Hogwarts I’m going to get up to as many adventures as you!”

“No, you are not,” Draco sniffed, causing Potter to laugh.

“Your dad got up to quite a lot of his own adventures,” Potter said, before promptly dropping Draco into the shit and telling Scorpius about the midnight duel Draco had set up for Potter in first year, and then not turned up to. Draco had forgotten about that.

Draco rolled his eyes and leaned back against the counter watching Potter interact with Scorpius. Potter was good with kids and Scorpius was hanging onto his every word. Draco certainly was not thinking about how attractive it was seeing Potter do well with Scorpius, even letting him try on his glasses.

Scorpius had blinked and started complaining that the world had gone blurry, to which Draco had been forced to explain (brag) that Malfoys always had excellent eyesight.

It had certainly been a good idea to have Potter come around first and get all of this out of Scorpius’s system. Draco wasn’t sure how well his father would take it if Scorpius spent the entire of lunch asking Potter questions and singing his praises.

They said never meet your heroes, but Potter seemed to be everything and more than Scorpius had imagined. Draco liked seeing his son happy, and the smile on his face as they flooed over to the Manor had absolutely nothing to do with how much he was, surprisingly, enjoying Potter’s company. Draco was a professional and he knew Potter was only here to interview his father, but for just a second Draco let himself think that Potter was here of his own accord. He had never even considered there being more between them than just a couple of mind-blowing shags, but as Potter’s green eyes met Draco’s outside the Manor gates, it dawned on Draco that he once again had been entirely deluded.

***

Draco was aware that over his life he had made numerous questionable decisions. However, he had believed that as he was growing up he was getting better at making only logical ones. But as he sat next to Potter whilst a parade of house elves brought out Sunday lunch, he sadly realised this was in fact not true.

“So, Mr Potter,” Narcissa started, her hands folded in her lap.

“Harry,” Potter interrupted with an awkward smile. Draco could feel Potter’s leg bouncing beside him and he debated the merits of kicking Potter to get him to stop.

“Harry,” Narcissa corrected, giving Potter a polite nod. “You’re an Auror, correct?”

“Yeah,” Potter nodded before turning and thanking the elf that handed him his duck starter. The elf let out a squeak before apologising and running off. Draco didn’t miss his father’s sniff of disapproval. “I joined up straight out of Hogwarts and have been there ever since.”

“He’s a Junior Auror already,” Draco put in, trying to act as if they were good friends. “Weasley’s one as well, but Harry here was the youngest one ever.”

“Is that so?” Narcissa said, she gave Draco a look he couldn’t and didn’t want to decipher before continuing to make polite small talk with Potter.

The visit so far hadn’t gone as badly as Draco had feared. He had owled his parents yesterday to alert them that he would be bringing a friend for lunch, and judging from their eager response, they had anticipated said friend to be a boyfriend. Though shocked by the arrival of Potter, Lucius and Narcissa were Malfoys to the core and had greeted him with cordial smiles.

Draco hadn’t missed the nod of approval Lucius had given him, and he had no doubt that Lucius was currently scheming up ways to show off this Malfoy/Potter friendship to the world.

The more worrying thing was that Narcissa was looking at Potter the same way she had Pansy and Astoria, and any other witch or wizard she had since tried to set Draco up with. Yes, Draco was convinced that Narcissa either believed Potter to be his boyfriend already or was coming up with ways to get them together. Draco had never understood why people thought Lucius was the terrifying one of the pair.

“Scorpius, how’s the Junior Quidditch league going? When do I get to see my grandson fly?” Lucius asked, cutting into his duck and smiling proudly at his grandson.

Scorpius shot Draco a nervous look. Draco took a sip of his wine and debated how to deal with this. Scorpius had joined the Junior Quidditch league at Lucius’s instance that all good young pure-blood wizards played Quidditch. Draco himself had been a part of this league, and it cost a hefty amount of galleons to get into, which his parents had insisted on paying. The problem was that Scorpius hated flying. Hated it. Draco had tried to speak to Lucius about this, he had tried to get his father to see the truth, but Lucius had hushed him and insisted that Scorpius would grow to love it.

Scorpius had not yet grown to love flying, and Draco did not see Scorpius growing to love it anytime soon. Scorpius was more than content to sit and listen to Draco’s old Quidditch stories and use his new art supplies. Draco had the money Lucius was putting into the Quidditch League and used it to get Scorpius something he would actually enjoy.

“One day,” Draco said smoothly. Potter glanced over and raised his brows, and Draco shot him a quelling look. This was not a time for Potter’s lack of tact.

“I’ve got a surprise for you later,” Lucius said, sharing a look with Narcissa that had Draco wanting to down his wine. He knew what the surprise was going to be, and it was going to be Nimbus’s new state-of-the-art Junior broom. Lucius had been dropping hints about it for weeks. Draco hadn’t even known that it was in stores yet. He supposed it proved Potter’s point that Lucius’s web of contacts was still alive and kicking.

He knew his parents meant well, he just didn’t want them to upset Scorpius by expecting him to be someone he wasn’t.

Potter’s leg continued to jump up and down beside him, and Draco reached over and squeezed Potter’s thigh firmly, glaring at him whilst Narcissa and Lucius quizzed Scorpius on school.

Potter glared back at Draco, and Draco pinched the inside of Potter’s thigh for good measure. The corner of Potter’s mouth curled up into a smirk and he raised his eyebrows, glancing down at Draco’s hand. Draco followed Potter’s eyes and realised how close his hand was to Potter’s crotch. Draco refused to blush, he absolutely refused to. However, he could feel Potter’s heated gaze on his face. Draco swallowed, knowing his cheeks were turning red and pinched Potter’s thigh one more time for luck, for being an utter arsehole, before turning back to his family and engaging his mother in a discussion about the newest litter one of her Crups, Aphrodite, had given birth to.

After lunch Lucius excused himself to his study and Narcissa insisted on taking them all to see Aphrodite’s pups. Draco had seen Potter giving him the eye that this was the time to go and talk to Lucius, but Draco had mouthed wait . They had to play this correctly or Lucius would get suspicious and clam up.

Lucius may not even know anything, though Draco thought that was about as likely as his mother wearing off-the-shelf robes. Lucius Malfoy may not be involved in whatever little society was pushing the boundaries of magic, but there wasn’t a chance in Hell that he didn’t know about it. Or that he couldn’t find out about it.

As they moved from the dining room to the sunroom Draco felt his mother’s hand at his back.

“Mr Potter’s grown into a lovely man,” Narcissa hummed, watching Potter interact with Scorpius. Seeing Scorpius smile like that suddenly made Draco sad that Potter couldn’t a permanent part of their lives.

Draco just nodded in response to his mother, still watching Potter.

“He’s handsome too,” Narcissa added, and Draco nodded again before he realised what he was doing. He glanced over at Narcissa, who was smiling at him in amusement. “You know we’ll support you with whatever you decide, Draco.”

Draco opened and closed his mouth. “I’m not dating him!” he hissed, making sure to keep his voice low so that Scorpius and Potter didn’t hear him.

Narcissa arched her brow. “I never said you were.”

“Oh, don’t give me that, you were thinking it,” Draco muttered, scowling at his mother, who just smiled sweetly at him.

“I just said I’d support you,” Narcissa said.

“I’m not an idiot.”

“I never said you were,” Narcissa repeated.

Draco rolled his eyes. “I’m not getting into this with you.”

Narcissa squeezed his arm and drifted off to entertain Scorpius.

Potter dropped back, his shoulder brushing Draco’s as they moved through the hall. “What was that about?”

“My mother thinks we’re dating,” Draco shrugged, trying to seem nonchalant. He smirked at the way Potter’s eyebrows shot up. “I told you this would happen.”

“We could use this to our advantage?” Potter said, moving closer to Draco.

Draco arched an eyebrow, an exact copy of the expression his mother had used on him. “We’re not sneaking off for a shag.”

Potter rolled his eyes and grinned that stupid crooked grin that for the briefest moment stopped Draco’s breath. Draco’s breathing wasn’t helped by the way Potter’s eyes dragged slowly over his body. “As much fun as that would be, I meant we ought to sneak away and speak to your father.”

“What are you two whispering about?” Narcissa asked, turning about.

“I’m trying to get Draco here to give me a tour,” Potter laughed. Draco just about resisted the urge to thump Potter at the amusement that was evident in his mother’s question.

“I’ll show you around!” Scorpius said eagerly.

Narcissa took Scorpius’s hand and gave it a small tug. “Let your dad show Mr Potter around, you need to help me with Aphrodite.”

Scorpius pouted before remembering the puppies and dragged Narcissa down the hall, begging if he could have one. Draco had a bad feeling he was going to end up with a Crup he didn’t want in a few weeks.

“Your mum thinks we’re going to shag,” Potter’s breath was warm in his ear, and when Draco turned around Potter was painfully close to him. Draco’s eyes flickered to Potter’s lips, his mouth going try as Potter’s pink tongue flicked out.

“She thinks you’re handsome,” he said, eyes still on Potter’s mouth.

Potter let out a huff of laughter. “Can you blame her?”

Draco managed to pry his eyes off Potter’s mouth only to get caught by his eyes. “Yes, I have no idea what she’s talking about.”

“Of course, you don’t,” Potter grinned.

“I think you’re repulsive and I hate you,” Draco sniffed, scrambling to hold onto a shred of the haughty Malfoy mask.

Potter’s smile grew. It was such an easy smile and it was all for Draco. “Nah, you don’t.”

Draco was loathe to admit it even to himself as they wandered through the Manor halls to his father’s study, but Draco didn’t hate Potter at all. He didn’t even hate him a little anymore.

Lucius Malfoy’s study was as Draco had always remembered it with its heavy oak floors and fine leather sofas. Draco could remember coming home from school and lounging on the sofa, feet dangling off the armrest as he chattered away aimlessly, telling his father about the term. Telling his father about his Quidditch wins and training, and then his lessons and how he in the top percent of his year academically. Bragging about how Snape had said he was going to go far and ranting about Potter and his idiocies. All the whilst Lucius had sat there working, a glass of the finest gin beside him and making the appropriate noises at all of Draco’s stories.

Then there were the memories of returning home after fifth year when Lucius had been arrested. Draco remembered promising his mother he would be strong and do his father proud, but still collapsing to the floor in this office and blaming Potter for getting Lucius arrested. Hating his father for failing the Dark Lord and having that responsibility put onto Draco’s shoulders.

Draco rubbed the scar left on his arm and accepted the Gin and Tonic his father passed him.

There was a strange irony about being sat beside Potter, about to work together to interrogate Lucius in his own study. Draco took a sip of his drink; life had a way of turning out in ways he didn’t expect.

“How is Giantress Gin doing?” Draco asked, swirling the drink and taking another sip.

Lucius passed Potter a drink before turning and placing the gin bottle back into his drinks cabinet. “Sales are up twenty percent because of the celebrity endorsement,” Lucius said, giving Draco a small nod. “Having people like Felicity Drewman be seen drinking it at every turn means that the general public are craving it.”

“Even if it means she’s bordering on alcoholism?” Draco smirked.

Lucius laughed softly. “All in the name of profit. Have you ever considered using your name to help investments, Mr Potter?” Lucius asked, turning his gaze on Potter. His hair was long and tied back with a black ribbon. When Draco had been younger he had longed to be able to grow out his hair and look just like his father. Now he kept it shorter, the longest strands at the front falling to his cheek bones. Draco understood he would always look like Lucius, but he tried to make a conscious effort to put a barrier between them.

Narcissa was always heartbroken every time Draco cut his hair, but he was pretty sure she understood, really. Narcissa’s genuine charity work meant she herself was a long way from the role of Lucius Malfoy’s wife she used to play .

Draco felt Potter tense beside him. “I’m not big on the spotlight,” Potter said.

Lucius hummed. “A shame, your name is one of the biggest out there.” Draco could see the sparks in his father’s head lighting, could see him trying to figure out what benefits he could string out from Potter’s friendship. “If you’re ever interested, I’d be more than happy to help.”

“Thank you, I’ll think about it,” Potter’s voice was heavy and Draco could hear the tension in it, but Lucius smiled and steepled his long, thin fingers together. He was looking at Potter like a prize.

“How are the other investments going?” Draco asked, eager to move Lucius’s attention away from Potter.

“Well— ” Lucius started.

“You read Darwin?” Potter interrupted.

Draco nudged Potter with his foot. This wasn’t the time for discussing literature. They had to play this well, to get Lucius to confess something that they could pounce on. Not that they even knew what they were supposed to be pouncing on. Something about the fucking natural order of things and Travers and the process of magic evolving.

Lucius raised his eyebrows. “I didn’t know you were aware of Darwin, Mr Potter?”

Potter shrugged. “I grew up as a Muggle didn’t I?” There was a clear challenge to his voice and Draco could see from the mulish set of his jaw that he was daring Lucius to comment on it. “We learnt about him in science. I wasn’t aware wizards read about evolution?”

Lucius chuckled, tapping his fingers against the book on his desk that Draco could see read On the Origin of Species . “A few colleagues of mine suggested that I read it, fascinating stuff.”

“I can see how it would appeal to you, the idea of natural selection and survival of the fittest,” Potter said.

Draco wanted to hit him, this was not the time to be picking age-old fights with Lucius Malfoy, who was never really going to change. Lucius, who always would see pure-bloods as superior even if he no longer went around trying to murder Muggles. Draco had had enough fights with his father about making sure Scorpius didn’t grow up to think that he was better than any witch, wizard or person. He didn’t need Potter doing this too… Draco froze, head snapping up.

“Oh, is it like the natural order of things?” he asked casually. Perhaps he should have brought Dash. Draco needed his wand to try and even attempt Legilimency, and while he was skilled at it, his father would be able to sense him. You didn’t become part of Voldemort’s inner circle and not be able to keep your thoughts locked away.

“Absolutely,” Lucius said, giving Draco a secret smile. “Thought provoking stuff.”

“And what do you think is the natural order of things?” Potter asked. His leg was vibrating again.

Lucius hummed. “Progression of course, Mr Potter,” Lucius’s smile had one too many teeth showing to be friendly. “Pushing the boundaries of magical prowess is something that in my later years I’ve become more curious about.”

Draco’s breath caught. There was no way Lucius was involved in the kidnapping of these children. He wouldn’t believe his father knew anything about it. He couldn’t.

What if Potter arrested Lucius? Draco hands curled into fists and he tried to remain calm. He should never have agreed to letting Potter come today, even if it was Potter that had spotted that blasted book.

“I would think that you would be interested in it, also, it’s very inclusive of all magical beings after all,” Lucius smiled, seemingly unaware that he was walking into a trap.

Draco spared a glance at Potter’s face as Potter spoke. “And what about the lines drawn? How far can we go before we defy the natural order of magic?”

Lucius met Potter’s eyes evenly. “That is something we’ll have to find out.”

***

Draco hadn’t been able to stomach the thought of returning to Scorpius and his mother yet. Pretending that their whole world wasn’t on the verge of tipping again.

Draco sagged back against the wall of his childhood bedroom as Potter spoke to him. He could hear Potter going on about how they had no choice but to call Lucius in for questioning, that Potter would do it and how he would be fair.

“We’re not arresting him, Malfoy, but he knows things and we need to know what he knows,” Potter said. His voice was soft and his brow furrowed as he gazed at Draco.

“I know,” Draco sighed. Why for once in his useless fucking life couldn’t Lucius Malfoy keep his nose out of it?

“He may not even be involved in the actual act, this natural order thing could just be something that people are talking about,” Potter said.

Draco nodded. “I don’t think he’s involved,” he mumbled, and for a second he felt like a child again, back when he had been adamant that even as a Death Eater, Lucius wouldn’t have actually murdered anyone. That belief had been shattered when the Dark Lord had had Lucius kill a Muggle-born when he were done playing with her. She had been called Betty Fields.

Lucius had done it with a hex that clots the blood. Draco had since studied that hex and taken it apart, adapting it so that it merely slowed blood flow, causing the victim to pass out. It could be used non-fatally now.

Voldemort. Draco mentally corrected himself. It was being back in this house and discussing his father putting his foot in it again. Voldemort. Not the fucking Dark Lord.

“So this is your room?” Potter asked, glancing around, a crooked grin on his face. It was a soft smile.

Draco dragged his hands over his face before turning and gazing around the room. “This was my room.”

Draco thought it was a pretty boring room, but Potter was looking around with a smile on his face.

“It’s just how I imagined it,” Potter laughed, tanned fingers brushing the photo frames on Draco’s chest-of-drawers. Draco knew they contained pictures of him, Vince, Greg and Thea as children, smiling smugly at the camera. Then there was a couple of Draco and Pansy at high society balls, smirking at the camera. In all the photos, they looked happy and carefree and like they had the world at their feet. They had thought they had.

Draco’s eyes caught on the one of his father twirling his mother about on the ballroom floor, both radiating happiness. It had been his favourite as a child, and he many memories of dancing with his mother while his father looked on in amusement.

He’ll grow up to be even more charming than you, Lucius ,” Narcissa had laughed as Draco had tried to twirl her around and nearly fallen over.

Lucius had gazed proudly at Draco, who had been thrilled. “ That’s the hope .”

It had been only in later years that Draco had found it harder to make his father proud.

“You spent a lot of time imagining my bedroom?” Draco smirked, trying to pull himself out of his funk.

Potter flipped him off, walking over to Draco’s four-poster bed and running his hand up and down one of the pillars. “So how much action did this bed see?”

It was a deep brown wood and Draco knew if you lay down on the crisp white sheets you could look up and see the night sky carved into the canopy of the bed. The Draco constellation was always on display and the moon changed with the cycle. He had been given it by his mother’s parents with the words to remember that no matter how much he looked like a Malfoy, he was also a Black. Malfoy and Black both meant nothing now.

“A bad hand job from in the summer of fourth year from Pansy while I tried to pretend I was straight,” Draco sighed, wrinkling his nose. “It was bad because she had tits and is a girl,” Draco added for clarification.

“Is that it?”

Draco shifted his weight and shrugged. “Also Astoria. Most of my experimentation happened with Thea in the dormitories. A key reason Blaise and I did not get on.”

Potter frowned. “Thea?”

Draco realised Potter’s confusion. “You knew her as Theodore Nott.”

“Fair enough,” Potter said, going back to inspecting Draco’s bed.

“Well how much did your childhood bed get it?” Draco asked curiously. He had seen all the articles after the war about Potter’s wild ways , had experienced it himself in that back alley of Nice.

“Me and my hand really, anything with Ginny was in her bed,” Potter said, flopping back onto Draco’s sheets. Draco saw Potter’s face light up in childish excitement at the carved roof. It was quite spectacular.

“Urh,” Draco laughed, going over and laying down beside Potter and gazing up at the roof. He couldn’t remember the last time he had slept at the Manor. He had moved out straight after divorcing Astoria and run away from his parents with Scorpius. Everything was fine with his parents now; Narcissa had calmed Lucius down with the reminder that Draco had provided an heir already. So they had re-allowed him access to the main Malfoy vaults, but in the initial adjustment period money had been tight. “Weasel sex,” he shuddered, smiling as Potter rolled over and hit him.

“Don’t get jealous,” Potter teased, grinning at him, his glasses wonky on his face.

There was something painfully attractive about Potter’s lazy smile and his chiselled handsome face. Draco realised his hand was tracing the hard line of Potter’s jaw.

“We shouldn’t,” Potter whispered, his breath warm on Draco’s face.

Draco nodded, fingers lingering on Potter’s face. “We shouldn’t,” he echoed, pushing down that burning want inside him.

He could see the want he felt inside reflected on Potter’s face, in the brightness of those green eyes and the curve of his sensuous lips.

“I want to,” Potter said, his hands snaking around and resting firmly on Draco’s hips. “I really fucking want to.”

“Me too,” Draco said, before throwing all caution to the wind and letting Potter kiss him. This time the kiss was soft. It was just as desperate as the last couple of times, but this time there was a searching question to it that neither of them were willing to answer.

An unspoken what does this mean? as Potter nipped at Draco’s bottom lip and Draco tangled his hand in Potter’s hair, not caring that the angle meant that his neck was strained and one of his arms crushed.

Draco knew he shouldn’t be doing this. He should not be kissing his co-Head when they were working on one of the most highly publicised cases of the year, when the stakes were so high and his father was going to be called in for questioning the next day. However, when Potter sighed into Draco’s mouth all thoughts of Slytherin self-preservation flew out of the window and Draco let Potter climb on top of him, not breaking the kiss for a moment.

Bucking his hips up, Draco let out a whine as Potter’s mouth attached itself to his neck and started sucking and biting its way down towards his collarbone before he broke off and started kissing Draco again. Potter’s kisses were ruining.

Draco felt like he was falling and might never be able to land on his feet again. And the worst part of it all, as he rolled Potter over so Draco was on top, was that Draco didn’t care. He was laying himself open for Potter to ruin and he didn’t care at all.

“Draco!” The sudden sound of Dahlia’s voice had Draco scrambling off Potter and landing on the floor beside his bed in an undignified heap. He was panting as he gazed up at the dolphin Patronus that hovered in front of them. “I’ve cracked the device and managed to get a location on the wand that created it. It’s in a warehouse just outside of London. Get to the Ministry, Cho’s trying to get in contact with Harry.”

The dolphin let out a clicking noise before diving and disappearing into the air. Draco swallowed and woozily pushed himself to his feet, daring to look at Potter who was sat up, legs spread. His lips were red and swollen, and his hair a mess. Draco didn’t imagine he looked any better.

Draco pulled out his phone, and sure enough there were ten missed calls in the last few minutes from Dahlia.

Potter glanced at his own phone before shoving it back in his pocket. “Cho’s Patronus obviously couldn’t find me,” he sighed, standing up and readjusting his jeans. Draco nodded.

“Did I ever tell you that both Wraith twins fancy Chang?” Draco said, taking the moment to compose himself.

“Understandable,” Potter said with a weak laugh. Draco understood; he was a unsteady too.

“You go on to the Ministry, I’ll alert my parents that we’ve had to leave and ask them to look after Scorpius.” Draco smoothed his hair down. “I’ll join you in five.”

Potter was frowning, looking as if he had something to say, but he finally nodded, that professional Auror look clicking into place as he pulled his wand from his back pocket. “See you in five.” Potter Apparated with a crack and Draco let himself gaze at the creased sheets for a few seconds before snapping into action. They were finally getting somewhere.

***

Harry was strapping his wand to his holster by the time Malfoy strode into the preparation room. Harry’s chest heaved at how good Malfoy looked in the tight, black Unspeakable field uniform. Harry’s cock stirred with interest and he had to turn back to Ron, whose red head was bent beside Robards’s as they discussed the best way to begin the operation.

Harry could feel Malfoy’s eyes on him as Malfoy strode up beside him and cleared his throat. Croaker’s eyes snapped up to Malfoy and he gave him a tense nod.

“Nice of you to finally join us,” Croaker said

Malfoy’s jaw tightened, but he offered a small smile. “I had to bargain with my son to make up for cutting the day short.”

Harry left out a laugh. “A Slytherin in the making.”

Malfoy caught Harry’s smile, his face softening for a moment. “I can only hope so.”

Ron cleared his throat. “So, we’re thinking if we surround the warehouse from all sides and send in the teams…” Harry let Ron take control of this. There was a reason he had demanded that Ron’s team be brought in, and that was because Ron was incredible at this kind of thing. To him the warehouse was just another chessboard, and the maker of the device the king.

Harry frowned as he listened to the plans, aware of Malfoy’s arm against his. He shouldn’t have kissed Malfoy earlier, especially because he was still buzzing from it, his lips burning.

Dahlia was over in the corner, her head bent with Dash’s, the two also decked out in field gear. Harry was curious to see Dash in the field. Harry knew fieldwork wasn’t either of the Wraith twin’s specialities, but Robards had assured him both had scored excellently on it. Terry was strapping on his holster, and Cho was worrying her bottom lip. He knew Cho disliked fieldwork, but she was a strong dueller. He made a note to comfort her just before they took the Portkey out.

“You all there, mate?” Ron whispered as he strapped on one of the belts that Hill was handing out. It contained products such as Peruvian Darkness Powder that had been modified to allow those who cast the right incantation to see, a stealth variation of Extendable Ears and an automated-touch Portkey to a Ministry safe spot if needed.

Harry nodded and passed his wand over to be inspected. Robards was yelling about how he wanted them ready to move in two minutes, and Croaker was glaring at Robards for taking charge. However, there was little Croaker could do, since he was only there because Malfoy had been brought onto the case.

“Malfoy’s not doing your head in, right?” Ron asked. Harry glared at him. Ron shrugged. “I had to ask.”

“You didn’t,” Harry glanced over to where Malfoy was now in conversation with Dahlia and Dash. The three of them seemed at odds with the rest of the room.

“I did,” Ron shrugged again.

Harry scowled and pocketed his wand back into the holster, leaving it undone for easy access. “Everything’s fine but this isn’t the place.”

Ron looked like he wanted to press the issue but he handed his wand over and sighed. “If you say so.”

Harry nodded, letting Robards draw him into the final debrief before they moved out.

He knew Ron and Hermione were just worrying about him, thinking about his job and the importance of the case he was working. He knew they understood that Malfoy had always gotten under his skin. However, he couldn’t bring himself to admit to Ron that two days after they had warned him to stay away from Malfoy, at least until the case was done, Harry had ended up snogging Malfoy senseless in Malfoy Manor. Harry didn’t think Ron would be in the best state of mind to go and take down potentially dangerous criminals if he knew Harry had only just managed to get rid of his boner from kissing Malfoy about twenty minutes ago.

“You ready?” Harry asked, nudging Cho as they each put their hand on the old shoe.

Terry wrinkled his nose as he grabbed onto the heel of the shoe; it did smell. They had drawn the short straw of the Portkeys.

Cho pulled a face, her dark hair pulled up into a tight knot. “As I’ll ever be.”

“We’ve done this before,” Harry reminded her, tightening his grip on the shoe as Robards began the countdown.

“And it never gets easier,” Cho said. Harry was glad to see some of the tension ebb from her shoulders.

“You can do it,” Harry promised.

Cho smiled at him, that spark appearing back in her eyes. “I never said I couldn’t.”

“That’s the spirit,” Terry laughed, the noise getting swallowed as they were sucked through the air and transported towards the warehouse.

Harry braced his knees as they landed just outside of the warehouse zone, the anti-Apparition wards already in place. The Ministry worked quickly, and Harry knew that there were Healers on their way for onsite damage.

“Potter!” Robards’s voice pierced Harry’s ear as he plugged in the earpiece. Harry winced and Cho laughed, plugging in her own headset. “What’s the situation looking like?”

Harry tapped the camera on his chest allowing Robards full access, and Terry and Cho followed suit. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted Malfoy’s nose wrinkle and he presumed that Croaker’s voice had just blared through Malfoy’s earpiece.

“We’ve got them surrounded, Sir. My own team, Weasley’s and Malfoy’s will be infiltrating the warehouse because the heat scanners have picked up multiple live bodies and we’ve been able to detect a strong magical signature, suggesting these could be the wizards we’re looking for,” Harry rattled off, letting himself slip into Auror mode. He worked best in the field. He could be too impulsive at times but he was getting better at that.

“And you’ve checked for traps?” Robards asked. Harry didn’t let himself dwell on the memory of times he had forgotten to check in his haste to start.

He nodded to Cho and mouthed “traps”. Cho switched her earpiece on.

“Looking at the readings, there appears to be strong magic levels at the main entrance as well as the side door. As you can see from the scanners, the frequencies registered have elements of Dark magic in them. On the whole they’re much like the tracking device found on Annabel Martin’s clothes, but there’s a lot of magical frequencies I don’t recognise,” Cho said.

“And what’s female-Wraith’s opinion?” Croaker’s voice appeared.

Cho signalled Dahlia over, who strode over, eyes bright and alive, her wand already out in her hand. Malfoy and Dash followed her. There was a furrow between Malfoy’s eyebrows that Harry wanted to smooth away. He turned around instead, prompting Dahlia to speak.

“Same as Cho’s,” Dahlia said, giving Cho a thumbs up. “Give us ladies a couple of minutes to disable the traps and send the teams in.”

“You sure you can disable them?” Robards asked.

Dahlia looked offended. “Does a Snitch fly?”

“Potter, Weasley, Malfoy, get your teams into position,” Robards barked. Harry shared a grin with Ron. Robards disliked Croaker and was clearly doing everything he could to show that this was an Auror case, and even if Croaker technically outranked him, Robards wasn’t backing down. “Chang, female-Wraith, get on it.”

“Potter, you take the lead, with Boot,” Robards said. “Weasley, you’re in second and then Malfoy third.”

“Potter should take Wraith— Dash,” Malfoy clarified. Harry raised his eyebrows and tried to ignore the sound of Robards’s indignant breathing loud in his ear. Robards couldn’t speak down to Malfoy, since he wasn’t part of his department. They were on equal footing. “He can pick up how many people are in there more accurately than the scanners.”

“And how is one wizard more powerful than the highest levels of Ministry technology?” Robards questioned.

Malfoy and Dash shared a smile as Malfoy said, “Just trust me on this.”

“Male-Wraith’s Legilimency levels are off the charts, Robards,” Croaker said. “You’d be a fool not to maximise him.”

Croaker had lured Robards into a trap and they all knew it. He wouldn’t and couldn’t run the risk of things going wrong by his command and having Croaker and Malfoy call him out on it.

“Fine, Potter takes male-Wraith and Boot,” Robards’s said through gritted teeth. “Chang and female-Wraith join Malfoy when they’re done defusing the traps. Any questions?”

There was only silence.

“Fall out,” Robards commanded, “and I hope not to attend any of your funerals.”

“I hope not to see you there,” all the Aurors said, grim grins on their faces.

Malfoy raised his eyebrows and Harry shrugged at him. Aurors put up with some dark shit.

“It means good luck,” Harry explained as they followed Dahlia and Cho over to the warehouse. Harry pulled his wand from the holster and Malfoy echoed his movement. “See you on the other side.”

Malfoy nodded, his mouth thin. Harry wondered if he was thinking of Scorpius. “I hope not to attend your funeral,” Malfoy said softly, arm brushing against Harry’s.

“Right back at you,” Harry said. He knew this was just a standard procedure but the thought of walking into a warehouse full of magical signatures that they didn’t recognise set him on edge. This case had never just been a normal case.

He took up his position, Dash behind him. “What are you picking up?”

Dash’s eyes fluttered shut before snapping open. “Six, three more than the scanners picked up.”

“Can you get in their heads?” Harry asked.

“Does a Snitch fly?” Dash asked. Harry opened his mouth to speak but Dash held up a hand. “On the other hand, I don’t know what it is, but there’s something…” He frowned. “These are more than just Occlumency shields.”

“What?” Terry said.

A flicker of frustration appeared on Dash’s usually careless face. “I’m going to do my best, but if I get any of your thoughts, apologies in advance. I know you dislike that Harry.”

“What?” Harry started before he felt a wave punch the Shield Charm he had been just holding in place. It was becoming more natural now. “Jesus fucking Merlin,” Harry hissed, rubbing his head. He didn’t think that was the best thing to be happening right before a raid.

Terry let out a sound behind him, but it was Malfoy who seemed the most affected, his face contorted in pain as he massaged his temples. Harry imagined Malfoy’s Occlumency walls were the hardest to break through. He also imagined, judging from the glares Malfoy was shooting Dash, that Malfoy was not best pleased.

“They knew we were here already,” Dash explained, his eyes not opening. “I’m trying to figure out what are in those traps so Dahl can get rid of them faster. It makes sense.”

“Anyone ever told you you’re a shit Hufflepuff?” Terry laughed, grip tightening on his wand.

“I’m very loyal and hardworking,” Dash replied. He was smiling, but his eyes were still shut and it was bloody creepy.

“Whatever, give us something useful instead of just a fucking migraine?” Harry scowled, fighting to keep his thoughts casual. No thoughts of Malfoy other than what a great if slightly annoying co-worker he was.

“It was the only way I could get through whatever they’ve got blocking off their heads.” Dash’s face returned to impassive. “There's six of them spread out and hidden in the warehouse, and there's a few bits of magical lab equipment suggesting this is the place they made the device.” He paused and then opened his eyes. “Dahl, Cho, are you done? Because they’re currently unravelling the anti-Apparition wards as we speak.”

There was a moment's silence before Dahlia stood back, her face alive. “We’re done.”

“Go now,” Cho said, “I don’t know how long we have before the traps reset.”

Harry nodded at Ron; this was the part they were best at. Walking into a fight knowing that spells would be flying, Harry could feel the adrenaline flowing through him, egging him on. He raised his wand and barked out a command before running in with a Protego already in place.

It was a good thing, because the second Harry entered, the curses were flying with bright flashes of red. He ducked out of the way of a golden burst he didn’t recognise and rolled to the ground, already casting in the direction of the attacker.

He could hear Terry behind him and knew Terry would have his back. Terry was a master with protection charms. Harry kept pressing forward. He could hear Ron shouting behind him, and then Malfoy’s cool commands, but Harry’s world had narrowed to the flashing lights of spells.

Harry spun around as he immobilised one of the attackers, moving over to the next one. He spotted a curse hit Gregor from Ron’s team and he flung his hand out without thinking, sending a hex towards the attacker.

“Terry, check Gregor!” Harry yelled, throwing out another spell and ducking behind a piece of equipment. He glanced up and spotted a flash of white hair that could only be Malfoy. Malfoy looked like he was dancing, his body moving with an elegant grace as he flung out hex after hex, often colours that Harry didn’t recognise. Harry knew Malfoy adapted Dark spells so they could be used for Auror combat, but Harry stuck to the basic spells he was used to. Dahlia was grinning as she threw hex after hex, back-to-back with Cho, the two of them advancing.

Harry spotted Terry activating Gregor’s Portkey before moving to cover Ron, who had taken down another attacker.

Jumping back into the field, Harry threw everything he had behind a Stunning Spell, watching as one of the attackers flew backwards against the wall.

Left! ” Dash’s voice echoed in Harry’s head, and Harry didn’t question it before throwing himself to the ground as a stream of green flew over his head.

He glanced up in time to spot Philleus Travers laughing. Harry wasn’t the only one who had seen him and Malfoy was spinning around, wand pointed at Travers.

Travers’s face lit up as he spotted Malfoy. “Hello little Dragon, aren’t you all grown up?”

Malfoy’s didn’t answer. Instead he threw a curse and Travers deflected it. Harry noticed that Travers didn’t attack back, not yet.

“Where are the kids?” Malfoy growled, raising his wand and throwing another hex at Travers, who just laughed.

“You’ve come a long way from cowering behind Lucius’s legs at the table. Ready to play with the adults, little Dragon?”

Malfoy’s jaw tightened at the nickname. “What are you doing with them?”

“You believed in our cause once,” Travers sighed, throwing a hex over in Dahlia’s direction. “Not this exact cause per se, but the idea behind it all. The natural order of magic above Muggles, exploring just how great wizards can truly be, just like the Dark Lord intended.”

“People change,” Malfoy hissed, casting another couple of spells in rapid fire, and one of them only just missed Travers’s shoulder. Harry knew he ought to reengage in the fight but he was caught up in the confrontation in front of him. “And the Dark Lord is dead.”

Travers smiled and Harry felt his blood run cold. “A dragon can’t really change its scales.” This time Travers cast back but Malfoy was ready. Harry wanted to step in and help but he heard a shout and started moving towards it; he had to trust Malfoy could handle himself.

Harry kept going; he was bleeding and his body was sore, but his blood was singing. He felt alive. They were starting to take the upper-hand finally, learning the different ways the witches and wizards threw curses. It was difficult, as each spell felt more powerful than usual. They penetrated the Shield Charm with an ease that most spells couldn’t, especially when dealing with trained Aurors and Unspeakables. It was a clear sign they weren’t dealing with run-of-the-mill criminals.

Terry’s voice suddenly sounded in his ear as Harry was dueling with a witch, working to neutralise her. She had hit his thigh with a nasty hex, and it was screaming at him to stop. Harry didn’t stop. “They’re offing themselves!”

“What?” Harry said, throwing a wandless protection spell in Cho’s direction as he spun around and hit the witch with a Stunner, knocking her backwards momentarily.

Terry was panting. “That wizard you threw against the wall, I went to stabilize him to bring him in, but he was fucking dead. His mouth was all foamy and shit. They’re not letting us bring them in.”

“Fucking hell,” Harry hissed. He tapped his earpiece so that he was speaking to everyone. “Make them immobile, they’re offing themselves.”

“Too late,” Cho’s voice said just as Ron let out a loud “Fuck.”

Harry glanced around, watching as another suspect dropped dead.

He threw a Body-Bind at the witch in front of him, putting everything he had into it so she wouldn’t be able to move. “Terry, get her out now.”

“Who’s down?” Ron shouted.

“Gregor and Dash, non-fatal,” Dahlia said, her voice breaking as she said Dash’s name. Harry wondered how someone had managed to get the drop on Dash.

“Our spells aren’t as powerful as usual,” Ron panted before swearing as a gold hex hit him in the stomach. Without thinking Harry spun around and took down the wizard Ron had been fighting, hitting him with a wave of magic.

“Ron,” Harry started. Ron was on his knees but he managed to give Harry a fierce nod. Harry glanced around at the fading chaos, and he could see Terry and Cho moving the suspects away and into custody.

“Stapleton, get the bodies back to the Ministry for the labs to look at. Dahlia,  get ready to start taking evidence. Ron be useful,” Harry said as he ran over to where Malfoy was still dueling Travers. Malfoy was hauntingly beautiful when he dueled, Harry thought before he yelled, “On your left!”

Malfoy followed Harry’s instructions and Travers’s hex only skimmed him. Malfoy hissed and fired back a pink spell that zipped past Travers’s ear, leaving a stream of blood.

Travers cast a Shield Charm that blocked Malfoy’s next spell. “Think of the greatness that you could achieve little Dragon. Your tinkering with Dark spells has nothing on what we’re achieving.”

Harry threw a spell at the Shield Charm and watched it shudder. Travers’s eyes flicked over to him like he was nothing more than an irritating fly.

“Malfoy and Black blood,” Travers’s voice was soft now, but it carried in the now almost silent warehouse, “think of what that could do.”

Malfoy glanced at Harry and together they both threw curses at the shield, diving as they rebounded off it.

“This is the part where I’m supposed to monologue and then you catch me, isn’t it?” Travers said. “I have no interest in going to Azkaban, though.”

“Well-” Malfoy started and Harry realised what was going to happen a second before it did, as Travers rolled a grey tube towards them.

“Bring your A-game, Little Dragon,” Travers said.

Protego !” Harry yelled, diving and  tackling Malfoy to the ground and putting everything he could into a Shield Charm around them. He flung out his magic, desperately seeking out the bodies of everyone he could protect, and then a roar and a heat that reminded him of Fiendfyre hit him. Harry clung to Malfoy’s body underneath his, forcing his magic to hold as it wavered under the intensity of the heat. His body screamed as he threw out as much of his remaining magic as he could, desperate to protect everyone. To contain the damage.

Harry didn’t know how long he stayed there, clutching tightly to Malfoy as the heat rolled over them. It could have been seconds and it could have been hours.

“Potter,” Malfoy finally said softly from he was trembling beneath Harry. Harry opened his mouth to respond but couldn’t find the words. “Potter,” Malfoy repeated. Harry felt burnt out as his magic flickered, raw and vulnerable. “Potter, please.” Malfoy’s voice sounded urgent and Harry wanted to answer him but he couldn’t. “Harry! Harry !”

Malfoy had called him Harry was the last thing Harry thought before the screaming in his veins became too much and he let himself be pulled under.

***

Draco paced up and down the waiting room of St Mungo’s. He was supposed to be at the Ministry dealing with the fallout of the raid, but what was there for him to do yet? Dahlia and Chang were getting evidence from the warehouse and would be taking it back to the Ministry to examine. Boot was doing whatever it was that Boot did, and Weasley was providing Robards and Croaker with a full summary of the events. Weasley hadn’t wanted to do so; he had thrown a fit, in fact, but Robards had pulled the rank card, leaving Weasley little choice. Draco knew he would be expected to give Croaker a report of his own, but he couldn’t right now. Draco had insisted on taking Potter to St Mungo’s.

Who did Potter think he was getting himself injured? Nearly burning his bloody magic out to save them all. They would have all been taken out by Travers’s Fiendfyre bomb, as Chang had named it, if it weren’t for Potter. Draco had known that Potter was extremely powerful, but even he hadn’t realised quite how powerful. Draco was more attuned than most to the frequencies of magic, but fucking Merlin, the feeling of Potter’s magic flowing over them both against the fire; that well of raw magic seemed infinite in that moment. Except it wasn’t, and Draco knew this because he was pacing the waiting room since the git nearly burnt himself out.

Draco didn’t even need to see Granger’s tight, drawn face as she hurried Potter away under a stasis charm. He could feel the absence of Potter’s magic; Draco hadn’t realised how used to it he had become. Granger had told him to return to the Ministry and wait for news, but Draco, who was finding his nerves slightly strained after the raid, had snapped at her not to be a fucking idiot before stalking off to see how Dash was doing.

Dash had been taken down by a nasty curse, not too dissimilar from the Sectumsempra curse that Draco still bore the marks from. Draco had seen it happen as Dash focused his attention on keeping everyone else safe. The blasted git. Draco was surrounded by fucking heroic idiots.

They had known Dash was coming. There was no way they would have known to protect their thoughts if they hadn’t. Draco was sure of it. They were dealing with a gang of the best inventors Draco had ever met, he was sure their occlumency levels were something more than talent. Draco and Dahlia would be back in their labs tomorrow morning trying to figure it out. The only alive perp was being scanned right now.

Boot was the only one who had managed to do secure a live suspect. Chang’s suspect had died on the way to the Ministry, taken out by Travers’s blast. Draco cleared his mind as he felt the phantom familiar heat creeping across his skin. It had been nearly ten years since Vince’s death.

“I don’t care if you can’t tell me where he is! You are going to find him right this very second!” A familiar screech had Draco spinning around, his hands caught in his hair.

“Pans?” He choked out, taking in her sharp face and wild eyes as she turned away from the terrified receptionist.

Pansy paused before breaking into a sprint and flinging herself into Draco’s arms. Draco hugged her tightly.

“What are you doing here?”

“I called Romilda to find out where you were for an interview, and she said the hospital! No one had told her anything more!” Pansy’s eyes shone and she gave Draco a vicious shove. “Merlin fuck, Draco, you scared the shit out of us!”

“Us?” Draco said before a cry of “Dad!” echoed through the halls. “Scorpius,” Draco breathed softly, dropping to his knees and hugging Scorpius tightly to his chest. “I’m okay, I’m okay,” he breathed, pressing his face into Scorpius’s soft hair.

He could hear Greg and Millie apologising to the receptionist and then Millie saying she would go find Lucius and Narcissa before they burnt the place down.

“You all came?” Draco frowned, glancing up at Pansy who just glared at him, tear tracks evident on her face.

“Of course we all came,” Greg said, giving Draco that smile that Draco knew meant Greg thought he was an idiot. “We were worried about you.”

“You shouldn’t have been,” Draco sighed, leaning back from Scorpius and brushing one of Scorpius’s tears away with his thumb. Draco was pretty sure he heard Pansy mutter something about him being a stupid fucking shithead , and that brought a smile to his face. “I’m okay,” he promised again.

“There’s blood on you,” Scorpius frowned, sucking on his bottom lip.

Draco nodded. “I know, but I’m okay.”

“You always say that,” Scorpius said, nose scrunching up.

Draco pulled him in for another hug. “That’s because I always am.”

“Draco?” Draco turned his head at the sound of his mother’s voice. He could feel her eyes searching him and he saw the moment she decided he was okay, as the tightness at her mouth faded. “You’re okay.” It was a statement.

“I always am,” Draco repeated.

“So this was all a misunderstanding?” Lucius asked, his posture moving from rigid to merely correct. Draco nodded and offered his apologies.

“Shall we all head home for something to calm our nerves?” Narcissa asked. Draco took that as code for who would like a drink ?

“I’m going to wait for Harry,” Draco said, running his hand up and down Scorpius’s back to keep him calm. “And Dash,” he added. He couldn’t leave them both alone.

Narcissa’s eyes weighed on him heavily before she offered a polite smile. “Then we’ll wait with you.”

“No you-” Draco started.

“We’ll wait with you,” Narcissa repeated.

Draco tried to protest that  Scorpius needed to sleep, but Scorpius firmly protested that he wanted to see if Harry Potter was okay, and Dash who always did the cool mind tricks.

That was how the Weasleys later found them when they came running in after hearing the news about Harry. Narcissa invited Molly Weasley to sit with them until they had more news, and Greg and Millie popped home to get some baked goods and hot drinks for everyone to keep them going.

Draco was sure it had to be the strangest sight, every Weasley under the sun, the Malfoys, and a couple of Slytherins, but it seemed to work. Luna and Ginny Weasley entertained Scorpius, and Narcissa made polite conversation with Fleur. Lucius even managed to engage Percy Weasley in a conversation in politics.

Draco shrugged when Ron Weasley finally reappeared from the Ministry, looking wrecked and extremely confused at the sight that greeted him.

“Muffin?” Greg offered. Weasley took one and sat down. He told Draco that Dahlia was going to be held up at the Ministry, but that she had said to tell him thank you for waiting for Dash. Draco didn’t like the sharpness in the look Weasley was giving him.

Eventually, Dash’s Healer emerged, assuring them that he would be fine. His mind had taken a beating from whatever spell he had been hit with, but he would be fine within a couple of days and would be taking visitors tomorrow morning.

Draco nodded and texted Dahlia the news. He could see the Weasleys watching him, expecting him to leave, but he couldn’t. Harry had saved his life again. Harry with his bright eyes, kind mouth and easy laugh. Harry who Draco was drowning for.

Draco wasn’t sure at one point during the wait that Potter became Harry, but it seemed right, it seemed fitting, it seemed inevitable. And if Draco breathed a sigh of relief loud enough to warrant strange looks from both Granger and Weasley at the news that Harry was going to be okay, then it wasn’t his fault, he told himself as he carried a passed out Scorpius home. He simply was tired.

Chapter Text

“So how’s Harry?” Dahlia asked, snapping and clucking at Draco. Draco rolled his eyes and murmured another stabilising spell. He knew better than to put up a fight against Dahlia, but he also knew better than to think he knew better than her.

“He’s—” Draco started just as Chang said, “Hermione’s said—”

Dahlia smirked and flicked her wand as she worked to discern any magical signatures. After Philleus Travers’s Fiendfyre trick there was very little for them to work with from the warehouse, since only a few things had survived. They were only alive because of Harry, who was currently in a medical coma to let his magic recharge itself. Draco didn’t see the point of the medical coma because all it did was delay the inevitable. Draco was going to kill Harry himself when he woke up.

Draco gestured for Chang to go on and returned to keeping the stabilising charm strong. They were working with one of the Fiendfyre bombs. The perp Boot had managed to bring in had had one on him as well as a slew of weird and strange devices. Draco was pretty sure that Dahlia hadn’t slept in the last twenty-four hours since they had returned from the raid. Dash was being discharged from the hospital this evening and would hopefully be able to convince his sister to sleep. Draco hadn’t been able to.

Harry wasn’t being brought out of his coma for another twenty-four hours and Draco had no doubt that he would be furious about all that he had missed. Served the git right.

Weasley had stepped up to accompany Boot with the interrogation of Lance Farrant, a Muggle-born member of The Natural Order. The Natural Order, all that shit they had been spouting about the “natural order” coming, and it had turned out they were being literal. The Natural Order was a group of extremist scientists, Farrant had bragged, before clamming up, and no matter what Weasley did, Farrant had refused to say any more. Draco had seen the interrogation tapes and he would give it to Weasley, he was good.

Draco and Robards had requested that once Dash was released from the hospital, he was to walk into that interrogation room, wand (or mind) blazing, and find out everything he could. Kingsley and Croaker had signed it off, they were desperate. Draco wanted to know more about whatever mind shields the Order seemed to have that had prevented Dash from getting a clear reading on them from the start. He also wanted to know why their spells had hit harder than the average wizard’s.

The bomb let out a hiss, and Draco intensified his stabling charm.

“It’s rejecting you,” Chang sighed, a furrow between her brows.

Draco knew it was only Chang’s pretty face that stopped Dahlia from snapping at her. If Draco had said that to Dahlia he would have been on the receiving end of a verbal lashing.

“I can see that,” Dahlia said, hissing back at the device. “It doesn’t like my wand.”

“It must only work to certain magical signatures,” Chang said.

Dahlia pursed her lips, and Draco was about to suggest moving onto something less volatile until they had figured out how to get around the fact that the bomb was rejecting them, when Dahlia’s face lit up. “You’re a genius!” she cried, darting to the other side of the lab.

Chang turned to Draco with a face torn between amusement and confusion. “Was she talking to me?”

Draco shrugged. “Possibly, but she also could have been talking about herself.”

“Fair enough,” Chang laughed.

Dahlia came running back over, her own wand now tucked behind her ear and Farrant’s wand in her hand. “I wasn’t going to touch this until we decided to look at why their spells cast so strongly, but —”

“Perhaps we shouldn’t touch it until then?” Draco interrupted.

Dahlia glared at him, she hated when he interrupted her. Interrupting people was a bad habit of his that he hadn’t ever been able to fully kick from school. He really didn’t mean to.

“I know it’s safe,” Dahlia said. Chang shot Draco a nervous look, and Draco sighed, screwing up his face for a moment as he considered putting up a fight, pulling rank and insisting that Dahlia look at the wand properly before using it on the Fiendfyre bomb. However, he had yet to see Dahlia go wrong when she followed her instincts. He trusted her.

“Okay,” Draco said. “What do you need us to do?”

Dahlia’s face lit up. “Draco, keep the stabilising charm until I tell you to drop it. Cho get the containment charm ready, I’m going to try diffuse this. I want to be able to inspect it without worrying about burning up the Ministry.”

“I think that’s the best idea,” Chang said, raising her wand. Draco could only hum in agreement. Not blowing up the Ministry seemed like a fantastic idea.

***

Wiping his hand across his brow, Draco leaned back against the counter. He was sweaty, exhausted and wanted to go home and crawl into the bath with a large glass of wine. However, he had promised Scorpius that they could carve pumpkins this evening. Draco still felt awful about scaring Scorpius with the hospital stint yesterday, awful enough that when Scorpius had crawled into his bed that night Draco had just kissed the top of his head and said nothing.

“Is that everything?” Cho asked, taking a sip from a bottle of water and passing one to Dahlia.

Dahlia’s curly hair had long since turned frizzy, but she didn’t care as she grinned, looking around the lab. Draco ran a self-conscious hand through his own sweaty hair. He would shower and then they would carve pumpkins he decided. Draco shot his watch a glance. They had made excellent timing.

“Everything for today. Obviously there’s more to do regarding the wand and tracing all the magical signatures, and we’ll see if we can identify the core ingredients…” Dahlia trailed off and shrugged. “So no, that’s nowhere near everything.”

“If I head home, do I have your word that you’ll actually leave this lab and go home?” Draco said, arching his eyebrows and accepting the water Chang passed him.

Dahlia rolled her eyes at him.

“Because you’re no use to me, dead from exhaustion.”

“You have my word,” a husky voice drawled from the doorway.

Draco paused, watching the sharp retort die on Dahlia’s lips as she spun around to find Dash and Romilda standing in the doorway.

The twins stared at each other, and Draco had no doubt that they were talking to each other in their heads. Draco was long used to it. He was pretty sure Dash had a permanent walkway into Dahlia’s head and that Dahlia never locked her brother out. Draco had heard Dahlia’s scream when Dash took that hex, and it would haunt him for a while.

Dahlia let out a soft noise before running and throwing herself into her brother’s arms and holding him tightly before stepping back and inspecting him. Neither one of them had said a word out loud yet.

Draco took the opportunity to look over Dash, who was as handsome as ever even with the jagged white scar that ran across his jawline, stark against his dark skin. Draco rubbed at the scars on his own face that never had faded from Harry’s curse. Dash’s blue hair was just as dishevelled as ever, but he was clean-shaven. Draco couldn’t remember the last time Dash was clean-shaven.

Draco dropped his Occulmency shields just enough for Dash to hear him. “ It’s good to have you back .”

Dash glanced up from his sister, a crooked grin on his face. “ It’s good to be back .” Dash’s eyes flickered over to Chang, “Nice to see you’re still in one piece, Cho.”

“I’m glad you’re okay,” Chang sighed softly. Dash shrugged bashfully, and Dahlia smirked up at her brother.

Draco laughed at the twins and their blatant crushes. “Right, you all go and I’ll lock up and stabilise everything.”

Dahlia turned to protest, but Draco fixed her with a firm glare. “Go.”

“Going,” Dahlia laughed, throwing one arm around Chang’s shoulder and the other around Dash’s waist and leading them from the room, blabbering happily. Draco had noticed that Dahlia had been slightly more subdued than normal, and seeing her with Dash again highlighted just how subdued she had been.

Draco turned and started to tidy everything up. “You jealous you’re having to share their affection?” he asked Romilda, who he knew was still hovering in the doorway waiting for him.

“Heartbroken,” Romilda laughed, and Draco smiled even if she couldn’t see him. He would clean up here, write up the notes and then go home to Scorpius and not let himself worry about Harry Potter. Draco didn’t have space in his life for worrying about Harry Potter, yet it seemed no matter how much he told himself that he worried anyway.

***

Harry’s head hurt, well not hurt, but it was fuzzy. He didn’t feel altogether there.

He felt like he was floating, weightless, like he had when he had died but with a headache.

“You’re okay, Harry.” That sounded like Hermione and he wanted to ask her what was going on, but before he could his headache faded and he felt himself slipping and sliding back into that deep sleep. He didn’t want to sleep, there was something he needed to do. Something he needed to know. He couldn’t rest, not yet. He had to—

“Just rest,” maybe-Hermione repeated, and he was sure there was a soothing hand running through his hair, and then the sleep pulled him under again.

When Harry stirred the next time, he was first aware of the fact that his head no longer hurt, and secondly that he wasn’t weightless. Slowly, he stretched out his fingers, letting his body regain feeling. There was a soft beeping sound in his ear and the scratchy sheets weren’t the ones of Grimmauld Place.

His eyes flickered open, taking in the bright white walls—St Mungo’s then. He had spent his fair share of time here. Hermione was going to kill him.

How had he got here?

The raid. The warehouse. That fucking fire shit that Travers had pulled. Ron! Malfoy! The rest of his team! Harry started to force himself up, ignoring the wail sounding around him. He had to make sure everyone was okay.

“Mr Potter, if you would just lie back down.” The grating tones of a Healer had Harry scowling at the door. He couldn’t see the bastard without his glasses, but Harry did his best to glower in the Healer’s general direction.

“I need to get to the Ministry.”

“You’ve just come out of a magically induced coma—”

“The fuck did you put me in a coma for?” Harry frowned, his scowl deepening as he glanced at the bedside table and didn’t see his glasses.

“Healer Granger believed it to be the most—”

“I want Hermione,” Harry said. He needed to know if Ron was okay. He needed to know they were all okay.

The Healer cleared his throat, his voice cracking. “Mr Potter, the amount of magic you accessed at once is off the charts and you risked—”

“Hermione,” Harry repeated, not caring if he was being rude. He needed to know.

The Healer could very well have thrown his arms up in the air for all Harry could see (and for all he cared). He would stop being a dickhead when he knew that Ron, Malfoy and the rest were okay. The door slammed behind the Healer and Harry let out a deep breath. Hermione had five minutes to get here before Harry checked himself out and went investigating.

Harry raised up his hand. Accio glasses . They came flying across the room towards him and he caught them easily. He slid them on, frowning as the room came into focus. Normally, Summoning things wordlessly and wandlessly was as easy as breathing for Harry, but something that time had twinged, like he had pulled a muscle.

“Yes, yes, my apologies, Healer Jordan, I’ll take it from here.” Harry heard Hermione’s sharp voice as she strode into the room. “Will you stop being rude to the Healers?” Hermione sighed, raising her eyebrows.

“Sorry,” Harry said, managing a weak smile. “I needed to know Ron was okay.”

Hermione sighed again and strode forward, pulling Harry into a bone-crushing hug. “You bloody idiot Harry Potter, you bloody idiot,” Harry let out an “ oooph ” at the impact before wrapping his arms around Hermione and burying his head in her bushy hair. It smelt like apples as always.

“I’m sorry,” Harry murmured as Hermione pulled back and glared at him, her eyes shining.

A weak smile played at Hermione’s lips. “The day you decide to stop playing the hero is the day I’ll finally sleep easily.”

“I wouldn’t really call it playing the…” Harry started to mutter before trailing off under Hermione’s fierce glare. “I’m sorry,” he repeated.

“You nearly exhausted your magic, you know,” Hermione swallowed, stepping away from Harry and turning to inspect his charts. “Wizards aren’t meant to pull up that much at once. It’s why we use wands to channel it correctly.”

“I never did like following the rules,” Harry joked, trying to get Hermione to smile again. He didn’t like scaring her, but in this case, he had had no choice. He couldn’t live in a world without Ron, and Malfoy well… Harry remembered the feeling of Malfoy’s body pressed against his and the heat of the burning fire screaming around them. Harry wasn’t done with Malfoy yet.

Hermione rolled her eyes but smiled again as she began taking Harry’s vitals. Harry didn’t put up a fight once Hermione had assured him that everyone was well, he had managed to protect them all. Malfoy had even waited at the hospital to ensure Harry was okay, Hermione told him with a sharp look. Harry ignored it and the tightening in his chest at the fact Malfoy had waited, with his family and friends, to hear Harry was safe.

“I’ll tell Ron and the others that you’re okay,” Hermione said when she was finally done fussing about him. “Try to sleep more, your magic is nearly fully recovered but it will need another twenty-four hours to be back to full capacity.

“How long have I been out?” Harry asked, pulling a face at Hermione’s answer of forty-eight hours. “The case—” he started before quelling under another one of Hermione’s firm looks.

“You’ll be released tomorrow morning and you can go back to work, just don’t strain yourself. And no wandless magic!” Harry nodded dutifully and lay back down with a huff. Hermione glared at him a moment longer before smiling softly. “Don’t you dare scare me like that again, Harry James Potter.”

“No promises,” Harry laughed, smiling as Hermione laughed back. He was quite tired when he thought about it, and when he shut his eyes sleep came easily.

***

“Urm, Mr Potter,” Harry didn’t dare look up from the board game because he knew if he glanced away for even a second then Ginny would cheat.

“Yes?”

“There’s someone here to see you,” the Healer continued, voice wavering. Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he blocked Ginny’s next attempt at victory.

“Send them in then,” Harry said, resisting the urge to throw the board off his bed when Ginny made her next move. He regretted introducing the Weasley family to Muggle board games.

“They’re not the usual guest,” the Healer started, when a familiar sharp voice snapped from behind her:

“Come on, I don’t have all evening!”

“Look Mr Malfoy—” The Healer started causing Harry’s head to snap up.

“Malfoy?” he spluttered.

The Healer sighed. “Would you like me to call security?”

“Oh yes because I’m going to try and off the Saviour of the Wizarding World in St Mungo’s,” Harry heard Malfoy drawl.

“Dad!” A young voice cried and Harry’s brow furrowed. Was that Malfoy and Scorpius?

The Healer opened her mouth and Harry grinned at her. “Just send them in.”

No sooner had he spoken when Malfoy came waltzing in, still dressed in the smart shirt and trousers that Harry knew he wore under the thick Unspeakable robes. Scorpius bound in after his father, face lighting up when he spotted Ginny and Harry.

“Hello, Ginny,” Scorpius said, clutching a bouquet of pink and white flowers tightly to his chest as he turned to Harry and swallowed. Scorpius was identical to Malfoy, except Harry had never seen Malfoy wearing such an expression of wide-eyed awe and nerves.

“Hey Scorpy, those flowers for me?” Ginny grinned, saluting Scorpius. The corner of Scorpius’s mouth curled up into a smile, but Harry didn’t miss the way Malfoy’s nose wrinkled at the nickname.

Scorpius shook his head. “They’re for Harry Potter for saving my dad,” Scorpius said softly before scurrying forward and thrusting the flowers at Harry. “I helped Grandma pick them. Camillas from the Manor garden!”

“Camellias,” Malfoy corrected.

Harry paused, suddenly at a loss for words. “I—” Harry glanced up from Scorpius’s face to Malfoy, who gave him a small shrug.

“He insisted,” Malfoy mouthed, and Harry turned back to Scorpius and smiled.

“Thank you, they’re great,” Harry said, reaching out and taking the flowers and inspecting them. They were beautiful. Fingers ghosting across the petals, Harry met Malfoy’s eyes. He couldn’t read Malfoy’s expression.

Ginny cleared her throat. “Whatcha say we go find a vase for them, Scorpy?”

Harry dragged his eyes off Malfoy and glanced back at the game on the bed that he had forgotten about. “You cheated!” he groaned.

Ginny flashed him an innocent expression that Harry knew was supposed to mean I would never ! However, Harry knew better to believe it for a second. “Don’t be a sore loser,” Ginny laughed as she led Scorpius out of the room. Ginny paused at the door, pulling a lewd face at Malfoy’s back.

Harry flipped her off automatically.

“What was that for?” Malfoy said, offence clear in his tone.

“Fuck, sorry, that was for Gin because she’s a twat,” Harry laughed, holding up his hands. He tidied the game off the bed before frowning at Malfoy, who was still standing rigidly in the centre of the room. “What are you doing here?”

Malfoy paused. “Scorpius insisted. Pansy fed his Harry Potter obsession by telling him that you had saved me again, and so he insisted.” Malfoy pursed his lips and Harry thought for a moment Malfoy was going to say something else but he didn’t.

“It’s nothing,” Harry said. He wasn’t good with the whole thank you for saving my life thing. He supposed he probably ought to be more used to it by now, but he wasn’t. And there was a vulnerability in Malfoy saying it that threw Harry off even more. Again . The warehouse wasn’t the first time that Harry had saved Malfoy from fire, wasn’t the first time they had been pressed against each other with a ruthless heat ravaging around them.

Malfoy scoffed. “Nothing to the Saviour of course.”

Harry rolled his eyes, and it was only the fact he had agreed to do no magic if it meant the Healers would discharge him tomorrow morning that stopped him from hexing Malfoy. “That’s not what I meant,” Harry said. He wasn’t sure what he did mean. He hadn’t even thought about it, he had had to save the whole team. “I’d never let you die.” He wanted to shove the words back into his mouth the second they came out. That certainly wasn’t what he had meant, well what he had meant to say out loud. The words hung in the air seeming so vulnerable that Harry felt like he had stripped himself bare.

Malfoy opened and closed his mouth a couple of times. Of course, Harry would never let Malfoy die. That was simple, but why had the words sounded so much heavier than he intended them to? “If you died for me I would never forgive you,” Malfoy said softly.

Harry jerked his head up and met those grey eyes. He swallowed trying to decide what to say next. He didn’t understand what was going on even as he gazed at Malfoy. Malfoy with his smart clothes and pointy face. Malfoy whom Harry had hated through all of Hogwarts. Malfoy whom Harry had hated even more after that night in Nice. Malfoy whom Harry couldn’t stay away from. Malfoy whom Harry didn’t want to stay away from.

“I’ll be in tomorrow,” Harry said to fill the silence. Something shuttered on Malfoy’s face, and Harry knew it wasn’t what he had been supposed to say. The only problem was he didn’t know what he was supposed to say.

Malfoy nodded. “Good, Weasley and Boot have spoken to Farrant, but I think it will be best for you and Dash to have a go tomorrow.”

“Yeah, of course. How is Dash?”

“He’s fine. He was released yesterday evening.”

“I’m glad,” Harry said. He had spoken to Ron last night about the case, and Ron had given him a brief summary of what Farrant had said, but it was clear Farrant had been pretty determined not to crack. Malfoy and Robards had given the all-clear for Dash to blow his way through Farrant’s head in full force to find out whatever they could about the Natural Order. Even Kingsley and Croaker had signed it off. “And everyone else?”

“They’re all fine. Dahlia’s working herself to death but that’s nothing new,” Malfoy sighed. He had that same small fond smile on his face that he got whenever he talked about his team.

“And has she figured anything out?”

Malfoy raised an eyebrow. “Shouldn’t you be resting and not worrying about the case?”

Harry scowled and waved his hand dismissively. “Just tell me.”

Malfoy hummed. “Yesterday Dahlia was working with Ollivander to dissect Farrant’s wand, and they found a werewolf tendon weaved—”

“Into the wand?” Harry blurted out, mouth dropping.

“Into the wand,” Malfoy echoed sighing. “Dahlia thinks it’s how their spells were so strong,

“Motherfuckers,” Harry hissed, his mind reeling back to what Hermione had said at dinner. “Check the St Mungo’s records. Hermione mentioned something about werewolves losing control and maybe they’re connected?”

Malfoy chewed on his bottom lip and sighed again.

“Have you called your father in yet?”

Malfoy’s face contorted before settling into a neutral expression. “No.”

“Malfoy,” Harry said. Lucius Malfoy had to be called in and spoken to, because they needed to know what he knew. And he clearly knew something. “You can’t protect him from this!”

“I know!” Malfoy hissed, stepping closer to Harry, fists clenching at his side. “I know.”

Harry wondered what it was like to have a father like Lucius Malfoy. He didn’t envy Malfoy. Malfoy who had changed, who had worked past his prejudices and now had raised his son to be everything that he wasn’t as a child.

“We need to know this, for these kids,” Harry said, pushing himself further up in bed. “We—”

“I know how important this is! I just don’t trust anyone but you to talk to him,” Malfoy said, shoulders tightening as he seemed to dare Harry to push him on it. Harry didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t figure out why Malfoy would trust him over Terry to speak to Lucius. Terry would probably be objective and logical, and Harry and Lucius hardly had a smooth past. The interactions at the Manor had been civil enough, but Lucius had thought that Harry was there as Malfoy’s friend, or if he had interpreted things in the same way as Narcissa, as Malfoy’s boyfriend.

It wasn’t an illogical assumption for Malfoy’s parents to make, and Harry had found it pretty funny. Malfoy and his mother had a sweet relationship.

“Okay,” Harry said, swallowing. “Tomorrow morning, we call him in then. We can’t leave this any longer.”

Malfoy nodded, face tight and posture rigid. At that moment Malfoy felt so far away from him, and part of Harry wanted to reach over and kiss him, run a hand through Malfoy’s hair and hold him until he looked relaxed again. However, Harry couldn’t. Whatever was between them couldn’t be any deeper than a shag. They had a case to focus on.

***

Draco watched the owl fly off from the Ministry and tried to settle the feeling of dread in his stomach. He had written the letter himself because he knew his father would appreciate the personal touch — at least once he recovered from the sting of betrayal. There was no way that Lucius Malfoy would view his only son, child, and heir summoning him to the DMLE as a possible suspect in a child-kidnapping-mad-science-group investigation as anything but an act of betrayal. Next Sunday dinner wasn’t looking pleasant. Even Draco’s budding friendship with Harry wouldn’t erase the sting - certainly not after Harry interrogated Lucius anyway.

He knew he was doing the right thing. The necessary thing. He couldn’t keep Lucius out of this if his father was going to insist on being right in the middle of it as per fucking always. Draco took a deep breath, nails digging into his palms. There was a chance that it was all a misunderstanding, that Lucius was just pretending to be more in the know than he actually was. Draco wouldn’t be that surprised if it came down to that; his father wasn’t able to let go of his former glory days.

Draco uncurled his hands and examined the red nail marks now on his pale hands. He pulled his wand from his pocket and murmured a basic healing charm before heading off to the incident room. Harry would be back soon.

“Do we have a plan for the day?” Boot asked as Draco walked in. Harry, who was early for the first time since they had started working together, was poring over the write-up sheets Draco had prepared for him.

“Yes, Dash you’ve got a lot on today. First you’ll  speak to Farrant with Potter, and then you’ll speak to my father, again with Potter,” Draco said, not missing the way Harry’s head snapped up at the mention of Lucius Malfoy. Draco wondered if Harry had thought that Draco wouldn’t follow through with it.

He met Harry’s eyes evenly before turning away to explain to Dash the amount of Legilimency he could use in each interrogation. Harry cleared his throat when Draco was done talking. “Terry, if you could go over to St  Mungo’s to look through their records, Hermione mentioned to me that they’ve had an influx in werewolf cases. See if any of them look relevant. If there any current patients speak to them and see if they know anything about the Natural Order.”

“Wouldn’t that  be useful for that too?” Dahlia said, not looking up from her own notes.

There was a pause and then Dash snorted and Draco imagined they were doing their talking to each other in their head thing.

Rolling his eyes, Draco said, “Probably, yes, but we’re having to prioritise him.”

“What did we do again before we had Dash?” Chang said from where she was inspecting the whiteboard.

Harry laughed and Draco realised how much he had missed the sound, missed Harry’s presence. “We did things ourselves like real Aurors.”

Draco smirked, “You complaining?”

“Not when it makes my job easier,” Harry said, and how he could look so handsome just lounging there in his chair, Auror robes unbuttoned to reveal a casual outfit, took Draco’s breath away.

“Typical,” Draco replied, sharing a smile with Potter. It was strange to think they could joke around like this without one or both of them flying off the handle. Draco felt that the atmosphere around them had changed since the brunch on Sunday.

“I am not looking forward to when this case is over and we’ll have to start thinking for ourselves again,” Terry sighed, gathering his papers together as he got ready to go to St Mungo’s.

Draco sometimes forgot that they had only been working together as a team for a week. He wondered what would happen between him and Harry when the case was over. Were they suddenly going to pretend they were friends and meet up for a pint down the pub? Draco couldn’t just throw everything away.

“How un-Ravenclaw of you,” Harry tutted.

“Are you kidding me? This is as Ravenclaw as it gets! Using Dash means the answers are more accurate and our research is more extensive,” Terry laughed, dodging out of the way of the empty paper cup Harry threw his way.

“Only a Gryffindor would want to do it the difficult way in the name of chivalry ,” Dahlia said.

Harry shook his head. “A Hufflepuff would agree with me!”

“Dash?” Dahlia asked.

“Got to work hard and that means utilising the team,” Dash drawled.

“Okay he’s an anomaly, and I feel really outnumbered,” Harry sighed, throwing his hands up in the air before standing up. Harry shot Draco an imploring look and Draco quirked an eyebrow.

“You must be desperate,” Draco deadpanned, and Harry laughed again. Draco needed to go out clubbing with Pansy and do something to take stupid Harry off his mind. Draco hated how fucking vulnerable Harry made him feel. Draco hadn’t felt like this in years. He was used to keeping his guard up, but of course Harry had always been able to chip away at it.

“So there’s no monitor with Farrant? I just take what we need from his head?” Dash asked. Harry’s smile slipped and his mouth formed a grim line.

“Yes,” Draco nodded. It was what he and Robards had agreed, because they were so desperate at this point. The new month would start at the end of the week, and they couldn’t risk a fourth child being taken. The Prophet wasn’t helping, stirring up fear everywhere. Draco had had a rather vicious phone call with Pansy last night about it. Draco wouldn’t be surprised if parents locked their children up on the first of November at this rate. Unfortunately,it was likely with the Natural Order were already monitoring the next child they had their eye on.

“And with Lucius?” Dash prompted.

Draco paused; he could feel everyone's eyes on him. “Minimal. Observe him to see if he’s lying and have Harry press where you sense weakness. He’ll have a lawyer so you’ll be being monitored, and my father is an expert at being slippery, so watch yourselves.” Draco suspected that Dash could get around the monitor if he wanted, since the typical Auror magic wasn’t up to the standards of Dash Wraith’s Legilimency skills. But Lucius knew how powerful Dash was and his Voldemort-level Occlumency shields would be up.

“Malfoy, can I speak to you outside?”

Draco frowned at Harry’s curt tone. “What about?”

Dahlia tapped her fingers against her desk and Dash’s head was cocked. Draco could feel everyone's eyes on him. He didn’t know what was worse: everyone staring so they could watch Harry yell at him or everyone staring at Draco because of his relationship with Lucius.

“I just want to speak to you outside,” Harry said, and jaw clenched. Draco opened and closed his mouth, searching for appropriate words before gesturing for Harry to lead the way out of the room. He didn’t understand Harry’s sudden change in attitude. Draco tightened his Occlumency walls against the familiar feel of Dash brushing against his mind. Dash didn’t need to stick his nose in everywhere. Draco knew that his annoyance was unfair and that the twins were probably concerned for him; they were too smart not to notice that there was something going on between Draco and Harry.

“So, what are you  desperate to say that you felt the need to make a scene?” Draco asked once they were outside the incident room.

Harry’s jaw tightened further. “I’ve been meaning to speak to you about this for a while.” Draco raised an eyebrow and Harry took it as a signal to continue. “Did you know Dash could get around the Legilimency monitor? Because he told me as such in the interview with Marcus Travers!”

Draco paused. He hadn’t been expecting that. “I suspected that if he wanted to he could out maneuver it,” he said slowly.

“Don’t give me that vague Unspeakable crap!” Potter growled, temper flaring. “It was a complete fucking ethical violation with Travers!”

“Why are we arguing about this now? We have a warrant for Farrant” There was irony somewhere about the fact that just a few minutes ago Draco had been thinking about how nice it was that he and Harry were no longer at each other’s throats. Draco didn’t know why he had expected anything different.

“This isn’t about Farrant!”

Draco still didn’t quite understand why they were having this argument now. “Well fucking brilliant and keep your fucking voice down if you’re going to shout. We may as well have stayed inside!”

Harry waved his wand angrily, and if the heavy layer of magic Draco that now surrounded them was anything to judge by, Harry had thrown up an extremely powerful silencing spell.

“You should have at least warned me,” Harry said.

Draco sighed, some of his anger deflating as he understood Harry’s concerns and recalling that Harry had never been comfortable with Dash’s abilities. “It was only a suspicion. I really didn’t know anything for certain.”

Harry’s own anger seemed to subside as his glare turned into a mere frown. “You still should have told me. We should have reported that Dash can get around the monitor for future use. I’m thinking of your father here.”

“My father can protect himself,” Draco said before smirking, “What, like we’ve reported everything else?”

Harry rolled his eyes, and the rest of his anger seemed to leave him. Draco could feel that Harry’s magic was no longer sparking off him. “Fuck off, that’s—”

“Different?” Draco prompted.

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“I doubt Croaker and Shacklebolt would view it that way,” Draco said.

Harry’s eyes were trained on him and his smile hurt Draco’s chest. “Yeah, I doubt they would.”

Draco knew the sensible thing would be to turn around and walk away from Harry bloody Potter as fast as he could, because Draco was falling for him. Draco was falling for Harry fucking Potter, and it was probably the stupidest and most reckless thing he had ever done in his life.

***

Harry trailed Dash into the interrogation room, though this was going to be not so much an interrogation as Harry supervising Dash while he picked his way through Farrant’s head.

Robards had given Harry a lecture  to ensure that Farrant’s head remained intact. Robards had turned to give Dash the same lecture when Malfoy had cleared his throat and reminded Robards that Dash was an Unspeakable under Malfoy, and Robards couldn’t tell him what to do. Harry often forgot that Malfoy was technically above him in rank because Malfoy never pulled it with him.

“Lance Farrant,” Harry said, nodding at the man, who just glowered. “Shall we begin?”

“No introduction? Weasley was a lot politer,” Farrant muttered, crossing his arms. Farrant’s attention was firmly on Harry as if he were the dangerous one in the room. As if taking down Voldemort as a seventeen-year-old made Harry scarier than a man who could literally liquify Farrant’s brain if he wanted to.

“Junior Auror Weasley had hoped that you’d be cooperative,” Harry explained, setting up his wand to record the conversation. He knew Robards and Malfoy were watching from behind the screen. “When you proved unwilling to help us, we were forced to change our tactics.”

“And that’s where he comes in?” Farrant scoffed, finally looking at Dash. “He doesn’t strike me as the big bad Legilimens we heard so mu—” Farrant suddenly stopped and sat there frozen, eyes wide and mouth open mid-word.

“Farrant?” Harry said leaning forward, “Farrant!” Why wasn’t he—

Farrant doubled forward, wheezing as if he had just been allowed to breath again- as if—

Harry spun around to face Dash, who was just lounging in his chair, regarding Farrant as if he were a pile of dragon dung.

Harry wasn’t sure that what Dash had just done counted as leaving Farrant’s head intact.

“There’s a leak in the Ministry,” Dash said, cutting off Harry before he could berate him. “He doesn’t know who it is, or how many there are but, someone in the Ministry is part of the Order.”

“I wasn’t even thinking about that,” Farrant whispered, his face filled with awe. At that moment, he truly looked part of a mad scientist group.

Dash smirked, a slow, lazy smirk. “You didn’t have to, I could find whatever I wanted.”

“Can you find out more about the leak?” Harry asked. He wanted to pull Dash up for doing whatever the fuck he had just done in Farrant’s head, but Dash had been given the go-ahead to do whatever necessary to get what they needed, and Harry wasn’t high enough in command to tell him otherwise.

Dash nodded before gazing at Farrant, who was still staring at Dash in complete shock. “How are you doing this? I can’t even feel you!”

Dash didn’t respond as he continued to dig his way through Farrant’s head. “He only knows that someone was in contact with the Ministry. There’s a blocker in his head but it’s shit when I’m this close.” That not-quite-human smile spread across Dash’s face again. “They didn’t realise how good I am.”

“Can you tell us more about the blocker?” Harry asked Farrant.

Farrant stared at Dash this time as he answered, as he now knew who was the dangerous one. “What’s the point if he can just get it all out of my head without me needing to say anything?”

“I don’t know about you, but I prefer not to have people in my head, putting my thoughts into their own words,” Harry said. The thought of having anyone shift through his mind like Dash was doing to Farrant’s made him feel a bit sick. It was Harry’s mind.

“People like you don’t know what it’s like to need to push the boundaries of magic,” Farrant said, his voice an awed whisper, “I want to know what the best Legilimens in the wizarding world can do.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere,” Dash said, eyes narrowing.

“He could break your mind if you try to push it too far!” Harry said, leaning forward, trying to get their attention. He felt like he might as well not be in the room.

Dash crossed his arms, blue hair falling across his face. “Do you want me to find out about the blocker or not, Harry?”

Harry sat back in his chair and waved his hand. “Go ahead.” There was nothing he could do to stop it.

***

“So you're telling me this group has managed to alter the Occlumency spell to make it a permanent part of the mind, and this is aided by the—”

“Vampire blood injected into their heads,” Dash interrupted Robards. Robards turned towards Dash slowly, and Dash gave him a lazy smile. Harry suspected Dash was enjoying himself.

“And you’re telling me all this is true?” Robards asked, giving Harry an imploring look as if hoping Harry would reveal that it was all a giant piss take. But Harry only shook his head and leaned back against the table. “Okay. It can’t get weirder though, right? Right?”

“Define weird?” Harry asked, speaking slowly to prevent his boss having a heart attack. He heard Malfoy huff with amusement so Harry smiled over at him. Malfoy gave him a half smile in return. Harry had wanted to mention earlier that he had noticed Malfoy’s slip in calling him Harry , and was Harry supposed to call Malfoy Draco now? It didn’t seem right. Yeah, he liked Malfoy as in Malfoy wasn’t a bad guy and yeah, there was clearly something going on between them even if Harry didn’t understand it, but Draco . It seemed so intimate.

“Vampire blood,” Robards deadpanned.

“Okay, well, the Ministry mediwizards are going to try find the vampire blood and see if it really is creating the effects Farrant said it was,” Harry explained. “Dash will show Malfoy the variation of the Occlumency spell the Order uses, and the two of them will work through it together, and Dahlia will look further into the kit that survived the explosion.”

“Did you find anything about the children?” Robards prompted.

Harry continued, as he had been about to get to that. “And Terry, Cho and I will  look into the information on the children we got.”

“And what is this information?” Robards asked, rubbing his forehead. Harry had a feeling that the Head Auror was internally debating whether to ask for a pay raise. Harry had to give it Robards. This case was getting weirder, darker and more intense by the second.

Harry turned to Dash. Dash hadn’t told him what Farrant has said, he had shown him, pushing the memory into Harry’s mind while they were still in the interview room.

Dash glanced at Malfoy, who nodded. Harry wasn’t surprised that Dash had mentally told Malfoy everything without saying it out loud to Robards. Dash’s loyalties were clear.

“I think we’re going to want a Pensieve for this,” Malfoy said, the tension evident around his mouth. Harry understood; the memory made him feel sick too. “Dash, call Romilda so she can check Robards and Potter into the Department of Mysteries. I want someone else to see this also.”

“Malfoy—” Harry started, but Malfoy paced  out of the room with barely a backwards glance over his shoulder, black robes swirling around him. Harry wondered if Malfoy had learnt that from Snape. Comparing the man he was kind of shagging to his old potions professor made Harry wrinkle his nose; the thought made him feel rather unwell.

Dash looked intensely at  Harry and Robards. Even though Malfoy had assured Harry that Dash would not be able to sense his thoughts as long as Harry kept the Occlumency shield up, Harry still felt like Dash could read him like a book.

“Shall we get going then?” Dash asked, pushing off the wall he had been leaning against and sauntering out of the room.

Robards turned to Harry with an indignant expression. “Why couldn’t we have used the Auror-issued Pensieve?”

Harry shrugged and grinned at his boss. “I’ve found it easier not to question them sometimes.”

Robards started grumbling about how the Department of Mysteries clearly included a ‘ Are you a dramatic arsehole?’ quiz on their applications but he didn’t put up much of a fuss and stalked out of the room after Dash. Harry followed, using his wand to lock the door behind him.

They had to walk quickly to catch up with Dash who was waiting for them at the lift, oblivious to the way people checked him out as they walked past.

“What more can you tell me about the taking of the children?” Robards asked Dash as they crowded into the lift.

Dash shrugged. “Nothing you won’t see in the Pensieve.”

“Yes, but I’m asking for a summary before I stick my head in,” Robards said. Harry could hear the tension in Robards’s voice and was pretty sure Robards was grinding his teeth so hard they could fall out, when Dash merely shrugged again.

“Draco told you to wait till the Pensieve.”

“Dr— Unspeakable Malfoy isn’t under jurisdiction to give me commands,” Robards growled.

Harry shuffled his feet.

“Maybe not but you appointed him co-Head of this case, and since his role holds equal standing with yours in the Ministry as Head of his own department, you can’t subvert the orders he gave me,” Dash said, dark eyes flicking up to meet Robards. Robards took a small step back.

The doors dinged open to reveal a smiling Romilda. “Oh good, you all made it. Shall I get you checked in?”

Dash waved an arm for Robards and Harry to follow Romilda and smirked at Robards once more for good measure. Harry couldn’t help but snort at Dash’s audacity. Not many people dared to speak to the Head Auror that way.

“Wands please,” Romilda said, holding out her hand. Harry gave his over easily this time, and Robards only glared for a second before obliging.

“Good day so far?” Dash asked, smiling at Romilda with that same awestruck expression he wore when he spoke to Cho.

“The usual. Lucius Malfoy has sent Draco a couple of letters that I think Draco’s ignoring,” Romilda said, chatting to Dash as if Harry and Robards weren’t there. “There was a Howler too, but I Vanished that.”

“Is he coming in though?” Harry questioned, unable to help himself.

Romilda’s eyes flicked over to him as she returned his wand and held open the door. “He’ll be in later, no need to worry.”

“You’re bringing Lucius Malfoy in?” Robards demanded, turning his glare onto Harry now. “Why didn’t you tell me that?”

Harry rubbed the back of his neck, trying to think of a reason why he hadn’t told Robards yet. “Because I’ve only just got out of hospital and haven’t written any reports about the incidents that have occurred since Sunday?” He said slowly, watching as Robards’s glower subsided slightly.

“That doesn’t explain why Malfoy didn’t write it up! Or Boot!”

“As far as I was aware, Unspeakable Malfoy doesn’t have to write reports for you,” Romilda said, pausing outside Malfoy’s office and knocking twice. Harry could hear voices coming from inside. “But of course, I’m just his secretary,” Romilda laughed, pushing the door open, “what would I know.” She winked at Harry before ushering them all through.

Malfoy’s team had his back, Harry noted with some awe. A Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. It sounded like the beginning of one of Seamus’s jokes that only Dean would laugh at, but instead it was Malfoy’s highly functional and well-oiled team.

“Robards! Potter! The whole gang is here.” A thick Scottish accent greeted Harry as he was met by the sight of Malfoy rubbing his temples and glowering at a short, muscular man who was bursting out of his too-tight tee. Harry was glad to meet someone who took the Ministry dress code even less seriously than he did. “Ahh, and you too male-Wraith!”

Dash merely raised an eyebrow in greeting before moving to slouch beside Malfoy, who was clearly trying to look polite.

“Har— Potter,” Harry’s head shot up. Malfoy had been about to say his actual name. “Robards, this is Unspeakable James. He specialises in children’s magic.” James clapped Malfoy on the shoulder and shook Harry’s and Robards’s hands.

“Good to meet you,” James said, winking at Harry before clapping his hands. “Let’s see this memory then, Malfoy.”

Malfoy gave them all a tight-lipped smile before marching over to the corner of the room and opening a cabinet to reveal a Pensieve. Dash walked over to Malfoy and raised his wand to his head, extracting the memory and stirring it into the Pensieve.

“I’ve seen the whole thing, if you want a go, Potter, Robards and James,” Malfoy said.

“So have I?” Harry asked, he didn’t need to see it again.

“I only showed you part of it,” Dash said. “There’s more.”

Harry sighed and glanced at Malfoy, who gestured for him to step forward. It didn’t leave Harry with much choice, so he shared a look with James and Robards before deciding to lead by example and lowering his face down to the bowl.

Instantly the scene started to change, and he landed on the floor of a pristine white corridor. Harry recognised Farrant standing in front of him, peering through a window. He’d seen this bit. Robards appeared next to him, followed by James.

“The window,” Harry said. He tried to avoid looking but Robards’s hand was on his back forcing Harry up against the window, beside Farrant and a woman. He recognised her from the first time Dash had shown her the memory, he supposed she was some kind of wizard-scientist.

Inside the small room was Beatrice Travers, her once long dark hair shorn short and her eyes too big in her malnourished face. She was sat on her bed staring at the door.

“So can she see us?” Memory-Farrant asked, turning to face the scientist. The scientist was a cold blonde lady with what could have been a pretty face if Harry didn’t know what she was doing.

“No, she has no idea we’re here. Spending time in isolation is the best way to get their magic going, keeps them on edge,” the scientist said, inspecting her clipboard. Harry tried to peer at it more closely, but clearly Farrant hadn’t been as curious because Harry couldn’t see a thing. The paper was just a blur.

While interrogating Farrant, it had become evident to Harry that while Farrant was fascinated by the whole pushing the boundaries of magic thing, he was just a henchman.

“It’s true,” James said softly. “Children aren’t meant to be locked up and isolated.” Harry swallowed at the memory of years of being thrown into his cupboard and left alone.

“Keeps them on edge how?” Farrant asked.

The scientist smiled, and there was no warmth in it. “Do you want to see?”

She pulled her wand out of her lab coat and murmured something that Harry couldn’t catch. The light went out, and Beatrice’s screams pierced the air.

“No matter how many times we do it, she’s still scared of the dark.” There was glee in the scientist's voice, and Harry wondered how many times in the two months Beatrice had been missing she had been forced to go through this.

“What happens now?” Farrant asked, pressing his nose closer against the window.

The scientist murmured another spell, and suddenly the room started filling up with water, dark murky water.

“We have anti-Apparition wards up, of course. You never know what their magic is going to do,” the scientist continued as Beatrice started screaming again, started pleading for her mother, for her father, for someone to make it stop.

A light appeared in her chest and spread out bursting through the water, but instead of fixing Beatrice’s situation, it made it worse. She started screaming louder, and sparks of magic burst out of her and flew off through the murky water while she remained there, floating just above her bed as if suspended by invisible ropes.

“What’s she doing?” Farrant whispered, as if he didn’t dare raise his voice.

“The water’s giving her hallucinations. She thinks there’s sea monsters coming for her, and the magic is her defence. She used to just curl up and cry, but she tries to take them out now.” The scientist smiled again. “She’s getting stronger and stronger every day.”

Beatrice’s scream echoed as Harry felt himself plunged into darkness and the memory changed.

This time they were standing in a glass room looking into a laboratory, not unlike Malfoy’s, where Hektor Fawley sat, his face entirely blank. He was the first child who had been taken. Harry hadn’t seen this memory before.

“Make sure we’re monitoring heart rate, magic levels and blood pressure,” a weedy man called out.

“Which wand?” a woman inside the lab asked. Harry could swear he recognised the voice but he couldn’t put a name to it.

“Sphinx core. We’re looking for precision,” the weedy man said, shoving Farrant out of the way to get closer to the window.

“Are we all ready?” another voice cried.

Hektor just continued staring straight ahead as if the scientists didn't even exist to him anymore. As if he had already given up.

The woman in the lab started casting, using a small grey wand. Blood began dribbling out of Hektor’s outstretched palm and into a glass vial hovering just below Hektor’s hand. When the vial was full, a male wizard stoppered it and the woman started casting again. Hektor sat there blankly.

“What are they doing?” Harry whispered. It seemed wrong to speak loudly, even in the memory.

James was watching it all wide-eyed. “They’re trying to capture his essence, I imagine.”

“Amazing,” a familiar voice purred, and Philleus Travers was standing there watching. “Amazing.”

Swirling darkness hit again as the next memory began, and then they were watching a circle of wizards in spotless white robes casting. They were all chanting as their wands moved in sync. Harry didn’t recognise the spells. Harry noticed how their spells came out stronger and harder, magnified by the raw magic of the children they were channelling.

The memories started to blur and Harry’s knees threatened to give way until the final memory of Annabel Martin, her mouth open in an empty scream as a circle of wizards stood around her, wands out as they chanted.

Harry collapsed backwards from the Pensieve and straight into the warm, sturdy body of Malfoy.

“I know,” Malfoy said softly, his hand squeezing Harry’s shoulder. “I know.”

“Do we have any idea who any of those people are other than Farrant and Travers?” Harry asked, turning to Robards. He didn’t want to move away and leave the comfort of Malfoy’s body yet. Harry could feel Malfoy’s breath against his ear, and it took every last bit of strength not to just melt against him.

Robards stepped back from the Pensive and walked over towards the door. Harry moved an inch further from Malfoy so they weren’t pressed so tightly together. He had a feeling Robards would question why his Junior Auror needed Malfoy to prop him up.

Robards’s face was grim. “I have an idea of a couple. I’ll need to see the memories again to be sure.” He turned to Dash. “Can you make copies of it? I want it shown to your entire team, and I imagine Shacklebolt and Croaker will want to see it.”

There was a pause, as Dash looked at Malfoy for confirmation. “I can do that.”

Robards sighed and dragged his hands over his face. “I need to get back, Harry. I presume you can manage from here?”

Harry managed to take another step away from Malfoy and nodded. “We’ve got this.” He wasn’t sure they did have this.

“Do you think you can help me figure out what kind of spells they’re doing and the magic they’re using?” Malfoy asked James. The memory of the children made Harry want to lean back against him,  but he forced himself to walk over to Malfoy’s desk and lean against that instead.

James hummed and drummed his fingers on his thigh. “I’d say so. I’ll need to watch this memory a few more times, but I reckon we’ll be able to figure it out.” His once jolly face was a lot paler than it had been before he saw the memory.

“Thank you,” Malfoy’s voice was subdued. “If you and Dash want to make copies  I’ll meet you in my lab when you’re done.”

James gave a two fingered salute. “See you there. Nice to meet you, Auror Potter, wish the circumstances were better.” Harry managed to give James a weak smile. There was something familiar about him that Harry couldn’t help but like.

“Shields up, Harry,” Dash said, giving them both a long look before following James out of the door. Frowning, Harry glanced at the closing door before realising his Occlumency shields had fallen. Fuck. That meant that Dash had probably heard Harry’s rambling about the nice feel of Malfoy pressed against his back. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Harry dropped his head into his hands and groaned loudly.

“Horrible, wasn’t it?”

Harry glanced up, met Malfoy’s broken gaze and nodded. “Merlin fucking Christ, it was…” Harry trailed off, not having the words to describe how horrible it had been to see  those children being used like lab rats.

“All I could think was what if that was Scorpius ,” Malfoy’s voice cracked, and Harry felt himself moving until he was in front of Malfoy and cupping his face. Malfoy’s eyes locked onto Harry’s and he didn’t push Harry away. “If we don’t stop them they could take another child at the end of this week and what if—” Malfoy’s voice started to become more and more hysterical as he spoke. “What if it’s Teddy or Scorpius! Any child! No child deserves that!” Harry brushed his thumb over the pale scars across Malfoy’s cheeks. He wondered what had caused them. Malfoy didn’t even seem to notice what Harry was doing.

“I know, and we’re going to find them, and we’re going to stop them,” Harry promised, sliding his hands up into Malfoy’s soft hair. Malfoy’s own hands were clenched at his side.

“But—” Malfoy’s breathing hitched and Harry did the only thing he could think to do. He kissed him. Just softly and gentle, a brush of their lips, before leaning back and searching Malfoy’s grey eyes. “What was that for?”

Harry shrugged. “I wanted to.” It had felt right.

A smile curled at the corner of Malfoy’s mouth. “Idiot.”

“Can I do it again?”

Malfoy closed the gap and kissed him, but this time it was more heated, more like how they had kissed in the past. Harry didn’t have an excuse or a reason for standing in Malfoy’s office other than the fact he wanted to and every nerve in his body felt fried from seeing Farrant’s memories, and the feeling of Malfoy’s mouth on his soothed him. Made him feel whole again.

Harry fisted his hands in Malfoy’s robes and let Malfoy push him until the backs of his thighs hit the edge Malfoy’s desk. He could tell Malfoy needed to be in control right now. Needed the control to calm down, and Harry was willing to give it to him. Harry wanted to give it to him.

Malfoy nipped at his bottom lip, tongue plunging into Harry’s mouth, and Harry made a soft noise. Malfoy tasted like stale coffee and Harry should have been repulsed, but instead he wanted more.

Letting Malfoy pull him closer, Harry thrust against Malfoy, groaning into Malfoy’s mouth as his prick grew harder.

Harry pulled back, leaving Malfoy chasing for a kiss. “Too many fucking robes,” Harry said, desperate to feel Malfoy against him. Harry had half a mind to Vanish them. However, he refrained because Malfoy would probably murder him and if Malfoy murdered him before he came, Harry would be furious.

Malfoy rolled his eyes and started to unbutton his own robes. Harry leaned back against the desk enjoying the show as Malfoy shrugged the thick, dark robes off his shoulders.

“You’re hot,” Harry grinned, surging forward and pressing his lips to Malfoy’s neck.

“You too,” Malfoy gasped, forcing Harry’s chin up so they were kissing again. With Malfoy’s robes off it was just the two of them in shirts and wool trousers rutting against each other in Malfoy’s office.

Hermione would kill him, a voice in Harry’s said, but Harry ignored it. He didn’t want to think about Hermione right now; he wanted think about  the feeling of Malfoy’s erection, hot and heavy against Harry’s thigh.

“I have to get to the lab,” Malfoy whispered, his lips not leaving Harry’s.

Harry huffed and ran his fingers along the waistband of Malfoy’s trousers, dipping in and feeling the crisp golden hair he knew was there. “We’ll be quick,” he promised, unbuttoning Malfoy’s trousers with a surge of wandless magic and grinning as Malfoy started to kiss him harder. Malfoy liked Harry’s wandless magic apparently.

Snaking his hand down into Malfoy’s boxers, Harry started to stroke Malfoy’s cock, swallowing Malfoy’s groan as he conjured lube and started to slick him up. All teenagers learnt that spell. Harry had been able to do it wandless and wordless since he was twenty-one. Conjured lube had nothing on the real stuff, but Harry doubted Malfoy kept a vial of lube in his office. Something lurched inside of Harry at the thought of Malfoy keeping lube in his office, at the thought of Malfoy fucking other people.

Malfoy’s hands gripped Harry’s hips hard. Harry bucked his hips up against Malfoy in silent plea, rhythm faltering as he worked Malfoy’s cock.

“What do you want?” Malfoy drawled, the arrogant git. Harry growled at him. Malfoy undid Harry’s trousers and slipped his hand into Harry’s pants. Harry moaned at the feel of Malfoy’s hand on him, those long, slim fingers wrapping around his cock. Malfoy huffed as Harry cast a lubrication spell for him, but Harry winked at him and luckily Malfoy didn’t put up a fuss.

The angle was awkward and Harry had had a lot better handjobs in his life, but he didn’t care. It was Malfoy and right now that was enough to bring Harry close to the edge.

The room was silent apart from their groans as they worked each other to completion, kissing and then resting their foreheads together before kissing again until Malfoy’s breath started to hitch and Harry could feel him getting closer and closer.

“Come for me,” Harry whispered, his other hand pressed against Malfoy’s chest as he drank in the way Malfoy froze before his hips bucked wildly and he came in Harry’s hand, letting out a ragged “ Harry.” The sight of Malfoy’s pleasure-blown face and the way Malfoy had said his name had Harry coming only moments later.

They stood, breathing heavily, Malfoy’s face pressed into Harry’s shoulder. Harry kissed Malfoy’s neck before pulling his hand out and wrinkling his nose at the sight of the sticky mess. Malfoy rolled his eyes and Harry snapped his fingers to clean them both up. He liked the way Malfoy’s eyes fluttered shut at the feeling of Harry’s magic.

“So, we ought to get back to the case,” Harry laughed, rebuttoning his trousers.

“Suppose we ought to,” Malfoy nodded, turning around to tidy his desk. Harry nodded in return and paused before making for the door. He didn’t know what to do or how to feel about what had just occurred.

“I still haven’t fucked you, you know,” Malfoy said. Harry paused at the door and turned. Malfoy was now looking at Harry again, his voice was soft and his hair had fallen over his eyes.

Harry ran a hand through his own mop. “Next time?” he asked, echoing their earlier words.

Malfoy stepped closer to Harry again and smoothed his hands through Harry’s hair as if he were attempting to flatten it. Malfoy then pulled a face - it was an expression Harry didn’t recognise - and stepped back; Harry presumed he was giving up. “Next time,” and for the first time it felt like a promise.

***

Next time? Harry’s words were still echoing in Draco’s head as he paced up and down the observation room waiting for Harry and Dash to arrive. Lucius was already sat there beside Finley Nott who had been the family lawyer for years.

Harry’s words had been haunting Draco since he had said them only a few hours ago, and it was by the skin of his teeth that Draco had managed to remain professional enough to talk with James about hypotheses of what the Natural Order could be doing in those memories.

James was proving to be fucking useless. No matter how many times they watched the memories, leaving Draco feeling shaken and on edge, James was still umming and ahhing over what the fuck was happening with those children. It was only the fact Draco had no intention of returning to Azkaban - Draco’s stint there had only been a couple of weeks before the Ministry offered him the Dark Arts deal and he had no intention of returning, thank you very much - that had prevented him from straight up murdering James, although he hadn’t been able to resist throwing Boot a line about good luck working with such an insufferable moron, once Boot had turned up to relieve Draco of his James duty.

“Relax,” Dahlia said from where she was perched in the corner of the room. “You have nothing to worry about.”

“I don’t remember telling you you could watch this,” Draco snapped.

Dahlia glanced at him, one eyebrow raised, and tucked her wand into her large, messy bun. “Yet I’m here anyway.” She was here for him, to make sure he kept calm while his father was being interrogated about his possible involvement in the Natural Order, and Draco was stood on the other side of the glass like a lemon. Dahlia was here because even if her parents had died in the war, she could understand the pain of loving someone who wasn’t a good person.

“Should I have interviewed him myself?” Draco blurted out. Perhaps it was a stupid idea to have let Harry into that room.

“No, and you couldn’t interview him, he’s your father,” Dahlia clucked. “Now do you want to hear what I’ve discovered about the wands they’re using?”

Draco cast another look through the window. Lucius was sat there, long hair tied back and his hands clasped. His face was completely impassive. No matter how he had tried as a kid, Draco had never been able to master that completely expressionless haughtiness that Lucius and Narcissa could pull off; he had always ruined it by letting his emotions seep out.

Dahlia took his silence as a sign to continue. “Well, I spoke to Ollivander—”

“What did he say?”

“—and he said,” Dahlia continued, ignoring his interruption, “that unlike the original wand we found that had created the tracking device, which was just a normal wand—”

“Did we ever find out whose wand that was?”

“—that this one was made from walnut because it works best for innovators and would be more willing to accept the foreign material of a werewolf tendon.” She levelled him a look as if daring him to interrupt, and Draco gestured for her to go on. “Which probably means that the majority of the wands they’ll be using will be made of walnut, so we ought to look for a large importation of walnut wood.” She tapped her fingers against her thighs as she spoke, “Also Ollivander obviously hasn’t experimented with werewolf tendon in a wand but he had some interesting ideas about the risks it would involve.”

Draco’s head snapped up.

“He said that while it would certainly make their attacking spells more powerful because of the werewolves’ superhuman strength, it runs the risk of being dependent on the moon cycles. If the wands were used on the full moon there is a much larger risk that they would disobey their masters, rebel against the commands given and submit to the base nature of a turned werewolf’s desires.”

“And do you think the Order know this?” Draco asked.

Dahlia pursed her lips in thought. “I imagine they do and are working to overcome this, and I have a theory about how they’re doing so.” Draco frowned as she paced before speaking again. “It’s like you know when you’re trying to counteract a maleficent spell, what do do you?”

“Take it apart, find the bit that does the damage and try to tame it or—”

“—Or counteract it with something benign,” Dahlia interrupted, her excitement bursting out. She was on too much of a roll for Draco to risk interrupting her to point out what a hypocrite she was for interrupting him. “And I reckon that’s one of the things they’re using the children for because look—” she paused, glancing around the room for the whiteboard pen before running over to the whiteboard. The Aurors’ obsession with whiteboards was proving pretty useful. “They’ve got this raw, powerful, but erratic and dangerous wand and they need something benign to soften it, and I think that’s one of the uses of the kids’ magic.”

“Go on,” Draco said, walking over to her side as she scrawled across the board.

“I read all of James’s stuff, and what he really focuses on is how children’s magic is intrinsically good because at that age they haven’t used any dark spells, so  their internal magical core is untainted. Their magic is raw and untamed like the werewolf tendon, only it wants to do good. It would be able to work against the animalistic nature of the werewolf on a full moon and make the wand useable at all times.”

Draco spared a glance over his shoulder, but Harry and Dash still hadn’t arrived. Lucius was starting to look pissed off even through his haughty mask. “So they’re somehow infusing the children’s magic into the wands with the tendons?”

Dahlia nodded, an awestruck expression on her face as she finally wound down. “They’re doing things that wizards have never done before, so I can’t say I fully understand, but yeah, something like that.”

“Something like that,” Draco echoed.

Dahlia turned to face the window just before the door opened to reveal Harry and Dash. Draco sighed and straightened his sleeves before walking over beside Dahlia to watch Harry interrogate his father. How bad could it be?

***

Draco was beginning to realise that he had to stop underestimating the extent to which Harry and Lucius could get under each other’s skins as he watched them glower at each other yet again.

The interrogation had gone badly from the beginning when Lucius raised his defences the second he spotted Dash.

“I didn’t know it was Auror policy to bring in an fully trained Legilimens for an inquiry,” Lucius had said, sharp eyes flickering over Harry and Dash - no doubt looking for weaknesses. Draco hadn’t missed the way Harry had smarted under Lucius’s gaze. He just hoped Harry could keep his cool. No one ever won an argument with Lucius Malfoy by losing their temper.

“This case is the Ministry’s top priority,” Harry had answered, sliding into his seat and setting up the monitor for Dash. “We just need to know everything you can tell us about The Natural Order.” Lucius’s expression had given nothing away. Draco wasn’t surprised, it never did.

Harry ground his teeth and exhaled loudly as he glowered at Lucius. “For the third time, who was it that gave you Darwin’s book to read?”

“For the third time, I simply can’t remember. I read a lot of books, I’m in a book club of sorts with a few friends, you see? Details get lost,” Lucius said, offering Harry a simpering smile.

Draco couldn’t help but snort at that. The thought of Lucius holding a book club in the Manor while the elves scurried around with cups of tea and plates of cake was hilarious.

Harry shot Dash a look and Dash frowned before shrugging. Dash wouldn’t be able to get through Lucius’s Occlumency walls without forcing his way in because Lucius was playing things too closely to the truth. He was blending fact and fiction into a fine line.

“And do you often read Muggle books?” Harry asked.

“We read books by all writers, we wouldn’t want to be seen as being anything less than Muggle positive after all,” Lucius said, and if circumstances weren’t so dire. Draco would laugh. His father really was ridiculous.

“You said to me that you found Darwin’s theory fascinating because of the progression of magic? Of things changing? I need you to tell me more about that,” Harry said, fists clenching on the table.

Lucius wrinkled his nose. “Do you not find the progression of magic fascinating, Mr Potter? Suppose you Gryffindors always did focus more on brawns than brains.” The corner of Lucius’s mouth curled up into a smirk as he tried to wind Harry up.

Harry somehow managed to tighten his fists  further, but he didn’t rise to Lucius’s bait. “If you don’t cooperate with us, we will get a warrant to have Dash here go through your head and find what we need.”

“Are you threatening my client, Junior Auror Potter?” Nott interjected.

Harry didn’t look away from Lucius. “Just letting him know his options.”

“My client has been perfectly helpful, Junior Auror Potter,” Nott said, “I fail to see on what grounds you could get a warrant to go through his head.”

Harry finally turned his blazing gaze on Nott, who shrank back slightly. “Lucius Malfoy is a twice-convicted felon with a history of prioritising himself and his ideals. He also has a history of harming children, myself for example, Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley for another and also Ginny Weasley,” Harry’s eyes flicked back to Lucius, who licked his lips. Draco’s sharp eyes tracked the movement. His father was nervous; that was one of his tells. “The Ministry has not forgotten your actions in the war or the mark on your arm.” Draco felt like he couldn’t breath. Did Harry see him in the same way? Draco would always be just a dirty secret to Harry. Draco didn’t know why he had let himself think any differently.

“So granting a warrant to allow a Legilimens to look through your head probably wouldn’t be much skin off its back.” Harry leaned back, watching Lucius squirm. “But of course it’s your choice.”

Draco turned away. He could feel Dahlia watching at him.

“I’d like to terminate this interview now,” Nott said firmly. “My client has been nothing but helpful and obliging.”

“Of course,” Harry said. “I’ll see you again soon though, Lucius.”

Draco heard Harry terminating the interview and Dahlia saying that  Dash would be gentle with his father’s head, but all he could think about was Harry saying he and the Ministry would never forget. Draco would always be an ex-Death Eater. He would always be the sum of his past mistakes to the Ministry. To the wizarding world.

Turning quickly Draco marched out of the room, thanking Merlin that for once Dahlia just let him go.

***

Draco twiddled his wand between his fingers as he watched Terry stretching out of the corner of his eye. Harry was late, of course, which was ridiculous as this had been his idea.

Draco had done his best to avoid Harry for the rest of the day following the interview with Lucius, and then had Greg and Pansy come over so he could drown his sorrows.

Pansy had screamed when he had told her what had been happening with Harry and about the fact that Draco, like the blithering idiot he was, was falling for Harry Potter. Greg had sighed, not looked surprised, and then doubled Draco’s glass of gin.

Yesterday Draco had felt hungover, so it was easy to continue ignoring Potter. Draco had arrived before Potter and headed straight into the Department of Mysteries where he had spent the entire day working with James and Dahlia. He hadn’t missed the glances that Dahlia had kept sending him, but he had managed to avoid having to speak to her about it so far. He had no doubt the Wraith twins were conspiring.

“Where’s Harry?” Dash sighed from where he was lying down on one of the gym mats.

“Draco?” Dahlia asked, shooting Draco an innocent smile that he didn’t trust for a second.

Draco glared at them both. “Why are you asking me?”

“No reason, just Harry’s quite attached to you,” Dash smirked, “and of course, he’s your co-Head of the case.”

“Attached?” Draco said, stepping closer to Dash and Dahlia. He didn’t want Terry and Cho listening to this. “You better not have been going into his head,” Draco growled, his voice dropping.

Dash raised his hands. “I haven’t been digging about, but his Occlumency shield dropped the other day is all and…” Dash shared a look with Dahlia. “It’s my job to read people and understand how their minds work.”

Dahlia bounced on the balls of her feet. “We’re happy for you! We think you should go for it.” Draco’s jaw dropped as he gazed at the twins.

Dash glared at his sister. “You literally just told me to be subtle!”

“You have no tact, I’m better at these things than you,” Dahlia said, dismissing him with a wave of her hand.

“It’s my job to understand people! I literally just said that!”

“That doesn’t mean you have any tact!”

Draco blinked before shaking his head. “I am your boss and you can’t just meddle with my personal life.”

The twins turned to him in sync, and Dahlia shook her head earnestly. “We’re not meddling, we just think you should go for it.”

“He likes you,” Dash said, his gaze focused firmly on Draco. Draco opened his mouth to snap in response but before he could Harry sauntered in with Romilda. Draco was pretty sure Harry spent more time with Romilda than Draco himself did.

“Just think about it,” Dahlia said, squeezing Draco’s shoulder before hurrying over to charm Romilda. Dash rolled off the floor, moving quicker than Draco had ever seen him move as he followed his sister.

Draco rolled his eyes and watched them go. Meddling idiots. He couldn’t just let go of what they had said, though. Dash had said that Harry liked him. Merlin, Draco felt like a child when he thought of it like that. Blaise would mock him relentlessly if he ever found up Draco was torn up over whether  Harry fucking Potter like liked him.

“Hey.”

Think of Circe and she will appear , Draco thought with a sigh, and turned to find Harry standing there awkwardly, hands shoved into his pockets. He was dressed in grey joggers and a ratty old white top that clung to his toned chest. Fuck, Harry with his broad shoulders and slim hips; Draco’s mouth was watering.

“Hello,” Draco said slowly, trying to reign in his wandering thoughts after seeing Harry. Harry opened his mouth to say something, but Draco spoke first: “So, did you want to get started?”

Harry closed his mouth and frowned. “Are you pissed at me?”

“No, I am merely trying to be a professional,” Draco said curtly. “Now did you want to start the training session that you insisted on or should I?”

Harry scowled and Draco tilted his chin up, daring Harry to start a fight with him. Harry opened his mouth again before shaking his head and walking away muttering under his breath. Draco crossed his arms and watched him go. He was wearing a long sleeved top to cover the Dark Mark. Normally he wouldn’t have cared about showing it off, everyone knew it was there after all, but Harry’s words had cut him deeper than anyone else's would have.

Harry clapped his hands and suggested that they all run a couple of laps around the training room for a warm up, and Dash and Dahlia groaned loudly. Dahlia, for someone who could never sit still, looked extremely offended at the idea of exercise.

Organising this training session had been the only contact Harry and Draco had had yesterday, and Draco had used Romilda as a go-between. He just hadn’t been able to face Harry.

Harry had spoken to Robards about the way that Dash had managed to control Farrant’s mind during the interrogation, and they wanted to see how he could use it in a fight. Draco wasn’t entirely comfortable with them trying to turn Dash into a weapon. Dash could be blunt and he wasn’t always great with other people, but he had a huge heart underneath it all.

Draco had to admit that there was not much time in his life for running, and so he chose to jog along at the back beside Dash, who grumbled the entire way. Harry led the pack with Boot, the two of them running easily. Fuck Harry with his fit physique.

“So, does everyone know what we’re here to do?” Harry said once he was satisfied they were all warmed up. Draco was trying to hide the fact he was so unfit. Maybe he ought to take Blaise up on one of those gym days.

“Regret every life decision we’ve ever made?” Dahlia wheezed dramatically from where she was clutching Cho for support. Draco rolled his eyes at her performance.

Harry snorted. “No, we’re here because we need to up our game after nearly getting our arses handed to us.”

“We won,” Dash sighed, shooting Dahlia and Cho a jealous look.

“By the skin of our teeth, and it’s only because of Harry that we aren’t all deep-fried Wizards,” Boot scoffed. Harry shuffled his feet looking uncomfortable at the  attention. It suddenly occurred to Draco how lucky they all were that Harry hadn’t decided to become the big bad wizard that Lucius and everyone had hoped he would be. He could have done it. With the power lurking under his skin, Harry could have been greater than Voldemort. “And even then two of us ended up in the hospital, three if you count Weasley’s team.”

“Exactly,” Harry said, “We now know that they’re using wands that are stronger than ours, so our spells need to hit them harder.”

“Which means not using Expelliarmus for everything,” Draco put in slyly, the words slipping out before he could remember that he was pissed off at Harry.

Harry raised his eyebrows and shot Draco a crooked grin. “It beat Voldemort.”

“You beat Voldemort,” Draco said softly. Harry’s choice of a weak disarming spell had nothing to do with it. It had been Harry with his cunning, power and kind heart. Harry’s smile faltered. Draco swallowed and broke the eye contact. “Luckily for you all I happen to be an expert in spells that hit harder than the average, and don’t worry, they’re all ones that the Ministry has approved for Auror use,” he added at the sight of Boot opening his mouth to protest. Boot grinned at Draco’s confirmation of Ministry approved.

“Boring,” Dahlia groaned before holding up her hands in mock surrender when everyone gave her a look. “I’m kidding!”

Dash let out a bark of laughter and Dahlia grinned at him. Draco didn’t miss the wary glances Harry’s team shot each other. They would get use to the Wraiths. It had only been a couple of weeks.

A couple of weeks…. The first of the month was on Monday and they had no idea if another child was going to be taken.

“Okay,” Harry said, drawing their attention back to him. “We’ll get to that afterwards, but first of all, Dash, you’re our greatest strength in those fights and we need to use you more.”

Steely jawed, Dahlia stepped away from Cho and moved closer to Dash. Draco could tell she didn’t like the idea of Dash being used as a weapon either.

“What you did in interrogation room with Farrant, could you do that in a duel and with more than one person?”

Dash glanced at Draco. His face was expressionless, and Draco lowered his Occlumency shields just enough to let Dash know that Draco thought he should go for it. This was Harry after all, and Harry wouldn’t let him come to harm.

Dash quirked an eyebrow and Draco raised his Occlumency shields before Dash could read anything into the soft way that Draco thought about Harry’s name.

Draco wanted to bury his head in his hands and groan. Maybe he should call Pansy and Greg around for another drink. Or just go clubbing with Pansy; perhaps that was what Draco needed, to be pressed up against a nameless stranger and to kiss someone random until all thoughts of Harry were burnt from his mind. Draco wanted to be pissed at Harry, wanted to resent him for not being able to see past Draco’s mistakes, but he couldn’t. Draco was in way over his head.

“I’ve never tried to,” Dash said slowly. “The thing with Farrant wasn’t something I usually do.”

“But do you think you could?”

Dash shrugged. “I don’t know about in a fight or how many I’d be able to hold, but I’m willing to try.”

Harry nodded, brow furrowed in thought. “Right, let’s start with just holding more than one person’s mind.” Harry glanced around the group, looking like he was psyching himself up. “Start with me. Don’t get my thoughts, just hold me like you did Farrant, and I’ll try get out of it.”

Dash nodded and started to inspect his nails as Harry continued talking.

“And after that we’ll try with more than one—” Harry suddenly stopped, his face frozen mid-sentence as Dash continued to inspect his nails.

“That’s terrifying,” Cho breathed out, and Draco had to admit it was.

Dash’s head flicked back up and he gazed curiously at Harry whose jaw was slowly closing, face riddled with tension. A furrow formed between Dash’s brows as he narrowed his eyes at Harry. Draco had never seen Dash concentrate so much. No one seemed to be breathing as they watched two of the most powerful wizards alive today face off.

And then almost as soon as it started Harry dropped to his knees, chest heaving as he gazed up at Dash, the ghost of a crooked grin growing on his face.

“You broke out of it?” Dash said. It was more of a question than a statement.

Harry climbed back to his feet ignoring Boot’s offer of a hand. “I could throw off an Imperius Curse when I was fourteen. You’re going to have to up your game,” Harry laughed weakly.

“Has no one ever managed to break out of it before?” Cho questioned.

Dash was still looking at Harry, “No.”

“Remember they’ll have the Vampire Blood blocking you as well,” Cho said.

“What a bunch of weirdos,” Dahlia laughed.

Harry flexed his shoulders, “Right, Dash now do me and Terry.”

Dash let his eyes drag over Harry and Boot before smirking. “My pleasure,” Harry opened his mouth to reply before being cut off. It took Harry even less time to break out of Dash’s mind control, but Boot didn’t manage to break it at all. Dash had to let him go.

They continued that, way testing how many people Dash could hold and the strength with which he could hold them. The more minds Dash tried to hold, the easier Harry found it to throw him off, and by the time Dash was trying to hold them all, Harry could throw him off within moments. Draco and Dahlia had been able to get out pretty quickly too by the time Dash was holding them all.

They then moved onto Dash trying to hold one or two of them while dueling and shifting through their minds to anticipate what spells they were going to use next.

By the time they stopped for lunch they were all exhausted, and Dash had lain down on the mats and promptly fallen asleep. When Harry went to wake Dash after lunch to continue with training Dahlia stopped him and explained that exercising his mind in this way was drained him, and if Harry wanted to be responsible for Dash burning out he would have to go through her first. Harry backed off instantly.

Draco took over training after lunch, introducing them to new spells or working with ones the Aurors were supposed to have technically mastered years ago. Draco wasn’t surprised that the Aurors had been neglecting the spells Draco disassembled for their use, but it irritated him nonetheless. Bunch of bloody prats prancing about, shooting off Expelliarmus and Stunning spells and thinking that that’s a logical way to deal with an enemy who doesn’t care if you live or die.

Draco welcomed another wave of irritation burning up inside him because of Harry. He knew how to be irritated at Harry. He had spent nearly every moment since meeting Harry irritated at him. It was the softness that Draco didn’t know how to cope with.

“I think Harry and Draco should duel.”

Draco froze at the sound of Dash’s voice and glanced over to where Dash was now lounging on the mats no longer napping…. Draco regretted everything nice he had ever thought about Dashiel Wraith.

Harry laughed. “Why?”

“Because you’re the two Heads of this case, and I think it would be educational experience for us all.”

“I second that,” Dahlia piped up, causing Draco to regret everything nice he had ever thought about Dahlia Wraith too.

Cho grinned. “That would be fun to watch.”

“Fun and educational,” Boot piped up.

Draco hated every single person in this room.

“I’m up for it,” Harry said, smirking at Draco.

“This is ridiculous,” Draco huffed.

“Scared, Malfoy?” Harry said, and Draco froze as memories came rushing back. Second year, every challenge between the two of them, that night in Nice. The constant push and pull between them.

“You wish.”

A cheer went up from the rest of the team as Harry and Draco got in position.

Dahlia clapped Draco on his shoulder. “Get your anger out, but don’t maim him, you like him too much for that,” she murmured, winking at him before darting to where Dash was looking smug in the corner.

Draco scowled after her before turning back to Harry who had raised his wand. “Ready?” Draco nodded. “Terry, count us in.”

“Three, two—” Boot started and just before he could say one Draco threw his first spell at Harry. Harry blocked it but was knocked back his eyes wide.

“The fuck!”

“Lesson one, your enemy won’t wait for a countdown,” Draco drawled, raising his wand again and firing off another spell. Harry blocked it again before letting out a wild laugh and starting to fight back.

Harry’s spells carried more force than Draco’s, he realized as his shield spell was hit by an onslaught of raw magic. But Draco had never been afraid to fight dirty, and after dedicating nearly ten years of his life to the study of dark spells, he was hardly helpless.

Draco’s world narrowed down to flashing lights and the sound of Harry’s breathing, the way Harry could throw shield spells out wandlessly while simultaneously firing off an offensive spell. He was marvellous, and as Draco threw a particularly vicious spell that had Harry diving out the way, Draco could feel his anger and resentment bubbling to the surface.

Draco knew people would never forget what he had done, but he also knew that he was more than the mark on his arm, and he wanted others to know that too.

Harry’s stunner hit Draco’s chest, and Draco dropped to his knees, flicking his wand and hearing Harry’s sharp inhale as Draco’s last spell hit him. Draco’s hair was sticking to his neck and he was sweating and panting. He raised his head, ready to cast one more spell, when his wand flew out of his hand. Harry was on his knees too, a crooked smile on his face.

“I told you Expelliarmus was good,” Harry said.

“Fuck you,” Draco managed to get out, dropping his head and trying to get his breathing under control. Harry let out a huff of laughter.

A sharp whistle greeted Draco’s ears, and he turned to see Boot smiling at them. Draco had forgotten they were all there, if he were being honest.

“Educational enough for you?” Harry laughed, letting Boot help him to his feet this time.

“I feel very educated,” Cho said, “and in desperate need of a shower.”

Harry sniffed his armpit and wrinkled his nose. “Yeah, everyone hit the showers. Malfoy and I will tidy up.”

Draco rolled his eyes but didn’t put up a fight. He climbed to his feet and retrieved his wand, flipping the Wraith twins off as they wiggled their eyebrows at him before darting off to shower.

Draco started levitating the mats into a neat pile in the corner, and he was so exhausted that he had nearly forgotten Harry was there, until Harry suddenly spoke.

“Do you have a problem with me?”

“I’m sorry?” Draco said, slowly turning to find Harry right behind him. Draco hadn’t heard him sneaking up.

“You’ve been off with me since I interviewed your dad, which I don’t think is fair seeing as I think I did a pretty decent job even though he was being a right bellend.” Harry’s eyes were so green that Draco’s chest hurt.

“You did a great job Ha— Potter,” Draco corrected. “You reminded him that he is and always will be a great big dirty Death Eater, and you’re right he is. He probably still hates Muggles and thinks pure-bloods are superior, but he hated Voldemort by the end too.” Draco despised the way his voice cracked. “He hates that mark too.” Draco had often wished he didn’t love his father.

Harry bit his lip and nodded. “I know you hate the mark, Mal—” Harry paused, “Draco.”

Draco . Draco froze at the way his name sounded coming from Harry’s mouth.

“None of that stuff I said in there applies to you, did you think it did?”

Draco shifted, suddenly at a loss for words.

“I know you’re not the same person you were then. You were a kid,” and suddenly Harry’s hand was on Draco’s shoulder and Draco lifted his head and remet those bright green eyes. “Nothing between us would be happening if I didn’t know that you’re a good person now.”

“And what is happening between us?” Draco asked.

Harry frowned, his hand curling in the ends of Draco’s sweaty hair. “I don’t know.”

“Me neither,” Draco confessed. Harry smiled and despite himself Draco smiled back.

“But I know I want to see where it goes,” Harry said, brushing his lips against Draco’s in a chaste kiss before stepping back and glancing around the room. “Probably ought to go shower. Everyone else will be done by now.”

Draco quirked his eyebrow. “Are you insinuating something?”

“Would I ever?” Harry laughed, and in that moment Draco accepted that he was so fucking gone for Harry Potter that he was never coming back.

***

Draco tipped a box of strange-looking Muggle sweets into a bowl and placed it on the table beside the front door with a satisfied smile. He personally thought all the Muggle sweets were disgusting and had nothing on wizarding sweets, but they lived in a Muggle area and so Draco could hardly go around handing out chocolate frogs. Also, the look of Lucius’s face when Scorpius offered him a tacky orange Muggle lollipop had been so good that Draco had considered using the memory for his patronus.

“Dad, can we go yet!” Scorpius groaned. He had been in his costume since lunchtime.

“No, we’ve got to wait for Teddy and Harry to arrive,” Draco sighed for the tenth time in half an hour. He wasn’t quite sure how he had ended up agreeing to go trick-or-treating with Harry. It was after they had taken turns sucking each other off in the shower, when they were getting dressed and Harry had asked Draco for his weekend plans. Draco had been understandably addled by Harry’s sinful mouth and had just agreed when Harry suggested they go trick-or-treating together.

Draco supposed it wasn’t all bad. He was desperately looking forward to Harry’s face when he saw Scorpius’s Harry Potter costume. Draco had been disappointed but not surprised that ten years after the war, Harry Potter was still the best selling children’s Halloween costume.

Expelliarmus ,” Scorpius murmured to himself, waving his fake wand at Draco. Draco smiled fondly at his son and reached over to mess up Scorpius’s hair. “Hey!” Scorpius groaned, pulling a face.

“If you’re going to be Harry Potter you need the messy hair,” Draco teased, reaching over to run his hand through Scorpius’s hair again.

Scorpius recoiled. “I can do it myself!”

Draco held up his hands in defeat and laughed. “Okay, okay, I get it. You don’t need my help anymore.”

Scorpius sighed before stepping forward to let Draco muss up his hair more. “Only because you know Harry Potter best,” Scorpius muttered as if Draco were forcing him.

Draco smiled. It was still strange to think of himself as someone who knew Harry well. There was still a lot to learn about him, but they were getting there. It was certainly no longer just meaningless shagging.

A knock sounded and Scorpius’s face lit up. He darted away from Draco and threw open the door.

“Harry Potter! Do you like my costume, Harry Potter?” Scorpius cried as if his cousin didn’t exist.

Draco rolled his eyes. “Hullo, Teddy.”

“Hey, Uncle Draco,” Teddy grinned. “Do you like my costume?”

Draco raised his eyebrows as he took in Teddy’s red Auror robes, Muggle pirate hat and Vampire fangs. “Yeah, but can I ask what you are?”

“I’m an ex-Pirate turned Auror that’s been bitten by a Vampire,” Teddy said, and he didn’t need to say durh at the end for Draco to hear it.

“Of course,” Draco nodded, because how had Draco not grasped that? Draco glanced up at Harry, who was staring at Scorpius, his mouth hanging open in shock. “Harry loves your costume, don’t you Harry?” Draco prompted, unable to keep the smirk off his face.

Harry nodded still looking dumbstruck. “Yeah, I urh… I especially like the whole…” Harry gestured to entirety of Scorpius, “You got my hair right.”

“Dad helped me,” Scorpius grinned. “Can we go now?”

“Yeah, I want sweets!” Teddy said, grabbing Scorpius’s hand and dragging him out  the door.

“Guess we’re off,” Harry laughed, shoving his hands in his pockets and nodding his head towards the door.

“Guess we are,” Draco echoed.

***

“Andromeda says it’s good for Teds to stay here tonight, and she’ll pick him up tomorrow morning. Hope you don’t mind that I gave her your floo address?” Harry said, walking into the kitchen to find Draco leaning against the counter holding a glass of wine out for him. “Thanks,” he said, taking a sip.

Draco raised an eyebrow at him.

Harry rolled his eyes. “I hope you’re not asking for a review because this just tastes like wine to me.”

“Pleb,” Draco sighed and Harry grinned, nudging Draco with his shoulder playfully.

“I had fun this evening, this was nice,” Harry said slowly. He meant it. He enjoyed hanging out with Draco, and seeing Draco with Scorpius was pretty amazing. He was clearly a fantastic dad, and even if Scorpius claimed Harry was his hero, Harry was pretty sure Draco was his real hero.

Harry hadn’t intended to stay this late. He had been planning on getting Teddy back to Grimmauld Place for dinner and then bringing him back to Andromeda after that. However, Draco had insisted they stayed for dinner, so they had all had takeaway fish and chips. Then the boys had gone to Scorpius’s room and ended up trying to outdo each other as they made up scary stories until they had fallen asleep. And well, Harry would admit to getting caught up talking to Draco, and then suddenly the time had got away from him.

Draco smirked and took a sip of his own wine. “Don’t strain yourself.” Harry raised his eyebrows and Draco laughed softly. “Okay, yes it was nice .”

“Don’t strain yourself,” Harry shot back.

“Prat.”

“Git,” Harry said, before winding an arm around Draco’s waist and pulling him in for a kiss.

“What’s that for?” Draco murmured against Harry’s lips.

Harry leaned back and shrugged. “Just fancied it.”

Draco let out a warm huff of laughter. “You just fancied it?”

Harry nodded.

“Only you Harry Potter,” Draco said, leaning in and kissing Harry back. “You just do things, don’t you?”

Harry frowned. “Whatcha mean?”

“There’s no thinking with you, you just do it.”

“I think—” Harry started. He did think before he did things. Sure, he could act rashly, but he often—

“It’s not a bad thing, just I mean when you want something, you take it. You don’t hold back. You’re not afraid of going after what you want.”

Harry nodded. He supposed that was fair enough. “And what about you?”

“I’m not so good at it, being as…” Draco gestured aimlessly, “as open about my feelings and what I want.”

Harry nodded again. “What do you want?” He asked.

He didn’t know where this was all coming from, but he couldn’t deny it much longer. This thing with Draco had become so much more than the meaningless shag he had pretended it was. Harry couldn’t put what he felt for Draco into words, but he knew that when the case was over he didn’t want everything to end between the two of them. He wanted to see where it all went, because Harry hadn’t felt this way about someone in a very long time. It was crazy to think how much things had changed in two weeks.

Draco bit his lip before sliding his hands around Harry’s waist, indecision flickered across his face, and so Harry closed the gap for him, leaning in and kissing him softly. Draco let out a small noise and Harry took the opportunity to lick into his mouth. He loved the silky feel of Draco’s tongue against his.

Kissing Draco was like Harry’s own personal brand of firewhiskey but so much better, because it didn’t hurt. It just burnt in a maddening and intoxicating way that made him want more.

“They’re asleep, yeah?” Harry murmured, breaking his mouth away from Draco’s and pressing wet kisses to Draco’s jaw.

Draco arched closer to him and moaned. “Yeah, but we have to be quiet.”

“I’ll do my best to be quiet when you fuck me,” Harry whispered, sucking a mark on Draco’s neck. He felt Draco still against him, and he pulled back to find Draco staring at him wide-eyed. “What we said next time, didn’t we?”

“Fucking…” Draco breathed out, his eyes darkened with lust.

“That’s the hope,” Harry smirked, letting Draco take his hand and drag him up the stairs. “Nice room,” Harry said innocently, laughing as Draco shoved him down onto the bed and climbed on top of him.

Harry pushed his body closer to Draco’s, savouring the hard lines and the press of Draco’s growing erection against Harry’s thigh. Harry moaned again at the feel, rolling his hips down and smirking as Draco’s breath caught. It didn’t matter how many times Harry kissed Draco, each time was better than the last. Dragging his hands down Draco’s back, he felt the muscles ripple with tension. Draco gazed down at him, his lips swollen and his hair mused.

Harry surged upwards to kiss Draco and started grabbing at his cashmere jumper desperate to get it off, to see underneath. That day in the shower had been the first time that Harry had seen Draco naked, and personally, he now thought that Draco should be naked at all times.

“Eager,” Draco teased, before pulling his jumper off and hanging it over the bedframe. Harry had imagined Draco’s room would be like the one in the Manor, but it was an iron framed bed with crisp white sheets. The entire room was smart and clean, and there was a painting hanging on the wall of a flowing waterfall.

Harry nodded, splaying his hands over Draco’s chest, feeling the hard muscle. He moved upwards and clasped his lips around one of Draco’s nipples, sucking eagerly. He was about to move to the other when he noticed a thick white scar running along Draco’s chest. He followed it, eyes catching on multiple jagged scars across Draco’s chest. He frowned and glanced up at Draco’s face, fingers tracing the scar on his cheek.

“How ” the question died on Harry’s lips. “Me.”

Draco froze, chest heaving as he stared down at Harry before nodding.

Harry started to pull his hand away from Draco’s face, gazing up at him with nothing to say, when Draco reached out and caught Harry’s hand, bringing it back to his chest and letting Harry run his fingertips across the scars.

Harry had all but forgotten about that day back in sixth year when he had nearly killed Draco, and the sight of him lying on the bathroom floor, blood flowing. If Snape hadn’t come… Harry would have…

“I’m

I know,” Draco murmured, pressing a kiss to Harry’s temple. “I have done so many awful things to you Harry, but that’s the past and now I just want to think about now.”

Harry nodded and let Draco reclaim his mouth in a gentle kiss. The kiss was slow and soft, their lips moving in sync as Harry’s hands settled on Draco’s waist, pulling him closer, wanting more.

Having never been stupid, Draco got the hint and tugged Harry’s top off before resealing their lips in a kiss. Harry arched his neck as Draco’s wet mouth trailed from his lips, to his jaw and down his neck. Draco kept working his way down Harry’s chest with kisses and bites until Harry was a babbling mess. The feeling of Draco’s hot mouth and sharp teeth on his nipples had Harry feeling like he was going to come in his pants like a teenager again.

Draco pushed down Harry’s jeans and then paused just above Harry’s boxers, his teeth scraping against Harry’s hip bone in a way that left Harry keening, thrusting his crotch up and begging for more.

“Please,” Harry managed to croak out as Draco’s lips came to rest on the outline of Harry’s hard-on. “Please, Draco, please.”

“What do you want?” Draco murmured, his lips brushing Harry’s cock as he spoke. Harry let out an undignified whine.

“Suck me.”

“Suck your?”

“Suck my ” a thousand witty retorts died on Harry’s lips as Draco promptly pulled down his boxers and licked his way up Harry’s cock from the base to the tip, tongue swirling around the head. “Yeah, that,” he moaned, tipping his head back as he felt  Draco’s warm breath on his cock.

Draco kept licking, his hand sliding lower to cradle Harry’s balls, and Harry bit down on his lip to stop himself from groaning loudly.

Draco’s fingers slipped lower, squeezing Harry’s arse before coming to rest at his hole. Harry’s breath hitched and he knotted his hands in the sheets, clutching them so tight they could rip.

When Draco’s warm mouth took all Harry in before pulling off with a pop, Harry pushed himself up onto his forearms and scowled.

“Lube,” Draco smirked, pressing a kiss to Harry’s hip, fingers brushing the trail of dark curly hair that ran down from Harry’s belly button to his prick.

Harry smirked back and reached out his hand, wandlessly and silently summoning the lube into his hand with a smack.

Draco shook his head, a smile playing at his lips. “Show off.”

Harry passed Draco the lube and was about to make a smart-arsed remark when Draco swallowed Harry’s cock in one go and all he could do was do was yelp in surprise.

As Draco’s slick fingers rubbed against Harry’s hole, Harry couldn’t help but buck his hips up into Draco’s mouth, hands tangling in Draco’s hair.

Harry could feel Draco’s throat flutter as Harry thrust up again, but Draco took all of Harry’s cock, and fuck it was amazing. Harry’s eyes screwed shut as one of Draco’s slim fingers slipped inside him and he let out a guttural moan. He rocked his hips back, demanding more as well as thrusting upwards into that warm mouth.

One by one, Draco worked a second finger in and then a third until Harry didn’t even know what noises he was making, he was so overwhelmed by the feeling of Draco’s mouth and fingers, slowly taking him apart until he was too close. Painfully close.

“Fuck me, please, fuck me,” Harry babbled.

Draco, the git, somehow managed to smirk around a mouthful of cock – Harry would never know how he managed to look smug whilst being facefucked – and pulled off slowly, thrusting and twisting his fingers in deeply one last time before pulling them out, leaving Harry whining and desperate.

Harry scowled as Draco pulled his own trousers and boxers off painstakingly slowly, “If you don’t fuck me, I swear to God, I’m going to…” He didn’t get to finish that threat as Draco pulled him down the bed so they were pressed together.

“You’ll what?” Draco teased, his flushed cheeks and erratic breathing giving away that he was just as much of a mess as Harry.

“Just fuck me,” Harry said, breath catching as he felt the blunt head of Draco against his hole. “Please,” Harry whispered as Draco pushed Harry’s legs up so his knees were against his chest.

“You’re fit,” Draco murmured, his fingers tracing Harry’s jaw as he eased in bit by bit.

“Not so bad yourself,” Harry murmured back, heart fluttering at the smile on Draco’s face.

“Idiot,” Draco said fondly, pushing in the last bit so he was fully inside Harry. He started to thrust, short sharp thrusts that had Harry gasping at every thrust.

Harry could feel every line of Draco’s cock inside him and it was maddening, intoxicating and heavenly.

Harry could see the strain in Draco’s arms as they tightened their grip on Harry’s shins, bending him further in half.

Draco started to pick up the pace, his thrusts becoming more erratic as he moved one of his hands down and started working Harry’s cock. Harry groaned, and all it took was a couple of tugs of Draco’s hand before Harry was coming with a cry, Draco fucking him through his orgasm before spilling inside him, burying his head in Harry’s shoulder to cover his own moan.

“Fuck,” Harry muttered, wrapping his arms around Draco and smiling.

“Fuck,” Draco echoed in response before laughing. His laugh was cut off halfway by a yawn.

Harry frowned. “Do you need me to go?”

Draco shook his head and wriggled about, pulling the covers over them both. “Stay, just for a bit.”

“Just for a bit,” Harry whispered back. He couldn’t think of the last person he had slept with like this.  I The last time he had slept naked beside someone and not felt vulnerable was probably with Ginny. He knew he should feel vulnerable with Draco Malfoy, but he didn’t. Not at all.

***

“Uncle Draco!” The sound of Teddy’s voice had Harry bolting up and pulling the cover over himself. Fuck it was Monday. Fuck he had work. Fucking fuck, he fell asleep with Draco Malfoy in his arms. “I didn’t know you were staying over too, Harry,” Teddy said looking far too knowing for an eight-year-old.

“Yeah… Adult sleepover…” Harry mumbled, grabbing his glasses from the bedside table. “Anyway what’s up, kiddo?”

Teddy chewed on his lip, his bright blue hair fading to brown. “Nothing really, just I can’t find Scorpius, like, he went to get a drink earlier and he didn’t come back. I’ve searched the house for him.”

“No,” was all Draco said.

Harry frowned over at him. What was wrong with him?

“Yes?” Teddy said slowly. “First I thought he might be hiding, but Gloria can’t find him either.”

“No.” Draco repeated, and he didn’t look like he was breathing.

“Look ” Harry started before he realised the date.

It was the first of the month, and Scorpius Malfoy had gone missing.

 

Chapter Text

“Move the fuck out of the way and if a single one of you contaminates my crime scene, you will regret it,” Dalia growled, pointing her wand at Gregor, who stepped back, hands up in the air in surrender.

Harry didn’t catch what Ron said as he patted Gregor on the back and pushed him away from Dahlia. Dahlia was buzzing with nervous energy as she prowled up and down Draco’s house with Cho, the two of them gathering every sample of magic that didn’t match Harry’s, Draco’s, Teddy’s or Scorpius’s signatures.

Dash was crouched with Terry and Teddy in the corner, trying to capture Teddy’s last memories of Scorpius. He had already sifted through Gloria’s mind. Gloria was no longer crying hysterically in the corner but running around serving everyone tea, cakes and small sandwiches. At first Harry had tried to get her to stop,  but then she had returned to sobbing hysterically about how she had failed her masters, so Harry had insisted she return to the tea service.

Harry dragged his hands through his hair and turned back to Draco, who was still slumped on one of his chairs, hair falling across his harrowed face. He looked so much like Scorpius that it broke Harry’s heart. He wanted to go over there and comfort Draco but he couldn’t, not with all the Aurors there. And then there was the fact Harry didn’t know what to say. He felt like it was his fault in a way that Scorpius had been taken, that it was his fault Draco had been distracted. From the way Draco was refusing to look at him, Harry had a feeling  that Draco thought so too.

Harry busied himself pretending to look useful and ignoring Ron’s questioning looks about why Harry was dressed in everyday clothes unlike every other Auror in the room. Not to mention they were the same clothes that Harry had worn the day before when they had all had lunch at the Burrow before Harry took Teddy trick or treating with Draco and Scorpius. Harry didn’t have the energy for an interrogation now.

“Look, I’m sorry Miss, but no civilians are allowed in and certainly no reporters,” Stapleton’s voice carried through the buzz of the room.

“I do not give a flying fuck what you’re saying, where is Draco?” Pansy Parkinson’s shrill shriek had everyone pausing. Harry could hear a deeper male voice that seemed to be consoling Parkinson. “Where is he?” Parkinson repeated.

Harry glanced over at Draco who had barely lifted his head, his chin now propped up on one of his hands.

“I’ve got this,” Harry announced uselessly to the rest of the room before hurrying over to relieve Stapleton of dealing with Pansy Parkinson. The way Parkinson’s eyes narrowed when she spotted Harry had him feeling like he had miscalculated how useful he would be.

“You’re not Draco,” Goyle stated from where he was looming over Parkinson’s shoulder. It was a pretty self-evident statement in Harry’s humble opinion, but he supposed everyone dealt with stress differently.

Parkinson’s mouth curled up into a nasty sneer. “Where is Draco?” She made a move to barge past Harry and he raised his hand, she paused before she collided with him and glowered up at him. “Sorry, but who the fuck do you think you are?”

“Look, I’m-”

“I mean, just because you’re  shagging him, do you suddenly think that gives you the authority to tell me what to do? To tell us? We are his best friends! I am Scorpius’s godmother and…” Parkinson’s voice cracked, and her bottom lip trembled as she gazed up at Harry. “I demand you take me to Draco right now.”

“I-” Harry started.

“Pans, Greg,” only the sudden sound of Draco’s croaky voice stopped Harry from explaining that one, he would really prefer that Pansy didn’t go around shouting about Harry and Draco’s relationship; and two, his position as Junior Auror actually did give him the authority to tell Parkinson what to do. “What are you doing here?” Draco asked.

“We heard,” Parkinson said before throwing herself forward and wrapping her arms around Draco’s neck in a bone-crushing hug. “Romilda called me.”

“We’re so sorry, Draco,” Goyle said softly, his beefy arms allowing him to envelope both Draco and Parkinson.

Harry stepped backwards, as he felt like he was intruding. Draco had his closest friends now, and he didn’t need Harry. Harry should be doing something that was actually useful, like trying to solve this case… He couldn’t turn time back and prevent Scorpius Malfoy from being taken, but Harry could try to find him. They would find him. They had to find him.

***

Draco stared blankly at his sitting room wall where there was a picture of Scorpius flashing a toothy grin. Beside it there was one of Draco and Scorpius from when Scorpius was nearly two and they had been pretty much on the streets, another of Scorpius’s first day of school, another of Scorpius and Draco when they had gone to Cornwall with Pansy.

“You need to eat something,” Greg said, passing Draco a plate of buttered toast. The smell made Draco feel sick. The Natural Order wouldn’t be feeding Scorpius freshly made buttered toast. Draco had seen those memories, he had seen the children with their hollow cheeks and sunken eyes, what they were being put through.

Stumbling to his feet, Draco shoved Greg out of the way and ran to the bathroom before collapsing over the loo heaving. There was nothing left for him to throw up anymore.

“Draco?” Draco could hear Pansy’s voice but it sounded far away as he wretched again. He wanted the burn of vomit, he deserved it. He had let Scorpius be taken. He hadn’t protected him. Draco had known that it was the first tomorrow, he knew that Scorpius could have been at risk and he had been too busy sleeping with Harry fucking Potter. Draco had put his infatuation with Harry Potter over his own son.

Draco’s eyes burned and he managed to throw up this time when he retched over the loo. He felt large hands rubbing his back, and he was briefly transported back to sixth year when Greg had used to do the same whenever Draco was having a panic attack.

“Draco?” Pansy whispered, and her hands were on his face. He could feel his breath catching and he tried to focus on Pansy, to take in her dark eyes, but he couldn’t. He dug his fingers into his palms, welcoming the burn. “Draco, breathe!” Pansy said again and again, until Draco gasped loudly, his breath finally evening out.

“You’re okay,” Greg murmured as Draco collapsed back into his arms, feeling his friend’s thick chest against his back as Draco stared up at Pansy’s makeup-streaked face. “It’s going to be okay.”

Draco wondered if Greg even believed that himself.

Later on, when Draco was curled up on the sofa with his head in Pansy’s lap as she ran her hands through his hair, a flurry of sound came from the floo and Narcissa and Lucius burst through. Pansy had sent Greg to inform them of what had happened.

“Draco?” Narcissa asked, her voice quavering. Her normally beautifully composed face was full of fear. Draco hadn’t seen a look like that on his mother’s face since she had thought that Draco was going to be shipped off to Azkaban for the rest of his life.

“Mother,” Draco sighed, slowly sitting up. He felt like he was sixteen again. He hadn’t felt fear like this since the Dark— Voldemort had tortured Narcissa to show Draco exactly what would happen if Draco failed to kill Dumbledore. He tried to compose his features and stay calm, but his shoulders sagged and his voice cracked as he said, “They took him.”

In an instant Narcissa was there, her arms wrapped around him. She smelt like the familiar hibiscus perfume she had been wearing for as long as Draco could remember — Lucius bought it for her every Christmas — and to Draco it just smelt like ‘Mother’. For a moment Draco was transported to seven years old and in his mother’s arms when his pet crup had died and he had believed it to be the end of the world as he knew it.

“Oh darling,” Narcissa murmured, her face pressed into his hair as Draco buried his face into her neck. “We’ll find him.” Draco’s body shook with the effort of keeping tears from falling and staining his mother’s dress. “We will find him,” she repeated. Draco nodded because he didn’t know what else to do.

He had no choice but to believe that they would find Scorpius, because otherwise he would give up now, before the search had even begun, and he couldn’t do that.

Draco took a deep breath and sat back. Her own face had steeled again, but there was a glint in her blue eyes that promised she would rip apart the world to find Scorpius. Narcissa had defied Voldemort for him,  and Draco had no doubt that she would take pleasure in ending whomever took her grandson. She would have to be second in line, though, because Draco was going to make them regret being born.

He met Pansy’s eyes and nodded at her. Pansy nodded back, tilting her chin up. Slytherins weren’t like Gryffindors with their open love and easy affection, but he knew the people here would burn down the world for him, and he would do the same for them.

Draco breathed out and turned to Lucius, who was standing beside the fireplace, back straight as a pole and his face expressionless.

“I’m going to need you to come with me to the Ministry, Father,” Draco said, thankful his voice didn’t tremble or catch. He wasn’t sure if it would be grief for Scorpius or rage at his father that would have tripped him up, probably both.

Draco knew Lucius well enough to know that yelling wasn’t going to get him anywhere. Showing an excess of emotion wasn’t going to get him anywhere either. And screaming that maybe Scorpius would still be fucking here if Lucius hadn’t had to be a slimey fucking arsehole as always, would make Lucius clam up.

“Of course,” Lucius replied.

“You’re going to speak to Harry and Dash, and you’re going to answer every one of their questions honestly. And if there’s anything they don’t ask you, but you know, then you’re just going to tell them it. Understood?”

Lucius’s mouth tightened a fraction before he said, “Of course.”

Draco didn’t need to tell his father where Draco’s priorities lay. He didn’t need to remind Lucius that Draco would break Lucius’s mind apart without a second thought if it meant they would find Scorpius.

Draco also wasn’t worried about where Lucius’s own priorities lay. Whoever these Natural Order people were, they had crossed a line now that they had come for the Malfoys. The Natural Order had taken Scorpius Malfoy, the male heir to the Malfoy line, the only one who could carry on the name that meant so much to Lucius. Lucius clung to that name like it was still the glory days, and now he risked losing it. Lucius knew Draco would never have another child, that Scorpius was it.

Part of Draco loathed his father for the fact that part of his love and loyalty to Scorpius was born out of the fact that Scorpius was the Malfoy heir. However, the larger part of Draco didn’t care why his father valued Scorpius, as long as he helped find him.

“Are you sure you should be going in?” Pansy murmured, her lips brushing his ear as she spoke softly enough to ensure Lucius didn’t hear her.

“I have to,” Draco whispered back, levelling Pansy a look that dared her to push him. He was fine now. He had to be fine.

“Draco.” Draco paused beside the floo as Narcissa spoke. “You’ll have to call her.”

Draco knew that he had to call her. For a moment he debated being petulant and pointing out that Astoria lost her right to know when she left Draco to raise Scorpois alone, but he knew that wasn’t fair.

“I can’t keep this out the papers, Draco, it’ll be front page news tomorrow,” Pansy said.

“I know,” Draco snapped, digging his fingers into his palms to calm himself down. It wasn’t Pansy’s fault, and he couldn’t take it out on her. “I’ll write her an owl when I have a moment.”

“You can’t tell her over an owl!” Pansy said. It was a credit to Pansy that she didn’t cower as all three Malfoys turned on her and glowered.

“You are more of Scorpius’s mother than Astoria is at this point,” Draco said. He didn’t want to have to deal with this. “You can call her if you want, but I’ll be writing her an owl this afternoon.”

For a moment Pansy looked like she wanted to argue further. She had become close to Astoria during Draco’s marriage, but her loyalty at the end of the day had been to Draco. “Okay,” Pansy said, biting her lip. “I’ll come round when you get home.”

“You don’t need to,” Draco said before turning and marching through the floo. He was taking Lucius straight to his private office.

“I’ll will anyway,” Draco heard Pansy said just before the floo whooshed behind him. Draco knew he didn’t need to say anything for Pansy to know he was thankful.

Draco stepped out into his office and walked over to his desk as he waited for Lucius to follow him. There was a picture of Scorpius smiling up at him from his desk, waving and laughing.

Draco picked up the frame, his fingers tracing Scorpius’s smiling face. The picture was from Scorpius’s fifth birthday, or the day afterwards. The day of Scorpius’s birthday had been spent at the Manor so Lucius and Narcissa could show Scorpius off. It was the first birthday they had spent with Scorpius since he was two after Draco had run away after divorcing Astoria. He hadn’t anticipated her vanishing to France, but he didn’t blame her at the same time. She hadn’t wanted a child.

The day after Draco had done his best to bake a cake and it had been fucking awful, but Scorpius hadn’t seemed to have minded. It was like he had known that Draco was doing his best. They had gone to the zoo, and Scorpius had asked question after question about all the animals and Draco had done his best to answer him. Draco had always tried to do his best.

The floo sounded and Lucius stepped into the office, his face severe. Draco placed the picture down and pressed the button on his phone that called Romilda.

“Draco! Oh my god, Draco, I-” Romilda started her voice echoing around the otherwise silent office.

“I’m here with Lucius Malfoy, if you’d like to alert Unspeakable Wraith and Junior Auror Potter that he would like to speak to them about the Natural Order case,” Draco said evenly, cutting her off.

Romilda paused. “Of course, right away Unspeakable Malfoy.”

Draco took his finger off the button.

“You’re very close with your secretary,” Lucius said.

Draco glowered at him for a moment before taking a breath and massaging his temples. “I fail to see how that’s relevant.”

Lucius hummed. “Just an observation.”

Draco’s temper snapped. “Look-” he started just as Romilda’s voice rang out through the office.

“Junior Auror Potter says to meet him in interview room five in ten minutes.”

Draco gripped his desk, counted to five and stood up, glaring at his father. “Shall we go then?”

“Draco,” Lucius said, and for a moment he looked like he was going to say something else. “Yes, let us go.” The moment had clearly passed. Draco knew Lucius loved him, he just was fucking awful at showing it.

***

Draco was alone with Robards to watch the interview this time, seeing as the rest of the team were busy. Dahlia and Chang were locked in their labs working. Boot was off doing whatever Harry was having him do. Harry had mentioned that Robards had brought Weasley’s team in on the case officially now. A fourth missing child meant this was now the Ministry’s greatest priority and they were throwing all their resources behind it.

Draco had a suspicion that Robards was going to talk to him about being taken off the case or at least stepping back as co-Head. He understood why the Ministry would suggest it. Draco was now too involved. His own son had gone missing and there was no objectivity left in him.

Romilda had told him that Harry and Dash had interrogated Farrant again, and that Harry had walked a knife’s edge of being too rough with Farrant. Dash had smashed through Farrant’s mind, taking what he needed and not caring for the rest. They were both walking the knife’s edge and they were just Draco’s friend and his… his… Draco didn’t fucking know what Harry was — Draco didn’t have time to think about what Harry was. If Draco had been in that room with Farrant he didn’t know what he would have done. Harming Farrant beyond repair wouldn’t be helpful to finding Scorpius. Draco had to play this like a Slytherin.

Draco could feel Robards’s eyes on him, but Draco just kept staring at where Lucius was sat in the interview room waiting for Harry and Dash. Draco really hoped Robards didn’t say anything. Draco had received enough condolences whispers as he had walked up here. All their words were meaningless. All their sympathetic looks were meaningless. Draco knew that each and every one of them was just glad it wasn’t their child, or the child of their friend or family.

Some people out there probably thought Draco deserved it. Draco had to dig his nails into his hand again to stop himself getting distracted by that train of thought. The pain came instantly, his palms tender from earlier. No matter what Lucius or Draco had done in the past, Scorpius was innocent.

“Malfoy,” Robards said softly, his voice rough from years of too many Muggle cigarettes and bottles of firewhiskey. Draco wondered if they’d all end up tied, old fools from working at the Ministry, or if the Aurors got hit the worse. Draco could imagine being an Auror made you old before your time. “I’m saying this because I’m thinking of your well-being—” Draco wished he would stop speaking. “I don’t think you should be in today.”

Draco’s eyes fluttered shut for the briefest moment as he composed himself. “Do you think I should be at home?”

“Yes, you should be home with your loved ones.”

Draco let out a scoff before he could stop himself. “My loved ones?

“Yes,” Robards’s tone was still even.

“My son has been taken and is probably being experimented on as we speak. My father is sat in that interrogation room because he has insider knowledge on the people who took my son. My son’s mother lives in Paris with her husband. Would you like me to go home to my empty house? Do you really think it would be beneficial for my well-being ?” Draco spat. He could feel his anger rising up in him in a way it hadn’t since he was a teenager.

“Do not take that tone with me, Malfoy,” Robards growled. Robards had a famous temper of his own.

“Unspeakable Malfoy,” Draco reminded Robards, finally turning to look at him, his fingers digging into his palms. “I intend on staying here until someone with the power to send me elsewhere does so,” he paused, “and you don’t have that power, Head Auror Robards,” Draco said, his mouth tight.

Robards looked for a second like he was going to thump him, and a part of Draco would welcome the childish response, would welcome the fight.

“Hello, Lucius,” Harry’s voice coming from the interview room stopped whatever Robards was going to do or say. Robards just huffed and turned back to the glass, He was bristling with tension.

Draco gave Robards one last look before he, too,  turned to the interrogation room. Harry looked awful. His stubble was darker than usual, and his hair stuck up all over the place. The Auror robes he was wearing were too tight at the shoulders and fell too short around the leg — Draco wondered if he’d borrowed them from Boot. They certainly weren’t Harry’s own robes, which meant Harry hadn’t been home yet.

“Since you’ve come in willingly, you’re free to terminate the interview at anytime and refuse to answer anything we ask you. However, I currently have a warrant from the Minister herself stating that if you refuse to comply you will be taken into Ministry custody and a Legilimens will be given full access to find out what you know.”

“On what grounds will you arrest me, Potter?” Lucius said, his back straightening even more.

Harry placed his hands on the table and leant forward, his expression grim. “We will arrest you for obstruction of justice, and once the Legilimens is done with you, we’ll chuck you back in Azkaban,” Harry smirked, before sitting down. Dash followed suit. “But, I’m betting you don’t want to go back to Azkaban, and I think no matter how much of a heartless bastard you try to be,” Harry paused, “You want to find your grandson, just as much as we do.”

Lucius took a deep breath, and Draco feared that he was going to tell Harry exactly where he could shove it, but instead Lucius’s shoulders just deflated, and he waved his hand dismissively at Harry. “What do you want to know?”

“Everything,” Harry said.

Lucius nodded and tucked a strand of hair behind his ear. “Are your recording devices on? Because I’m only saying this once.”

Harry set up the monitor for Dash — which seemed a bit pointless after his threat —  and turned on the recording device. Harry glanced over at the wall, and Draco wondered if Harry knew that he was behind there watching.

“Begin,” Harry said, turning his gaze back to Lucius.

“The first thing you need to know is that the Natural Order is old. It’s older than the Dark Lord, older than Grindleward and it’s certainly older than The Order of the Phoenix. The Natural Order was rather unimpressed when The Order of the Phoenix came along and copied their name,” Lucius let out a small, humourless laugh despite the fact it wasn’t funny.

“Stay on topic,” Harry growled.

“Temper, Potter,” Lucius said. Draco wasn’t quite sure how his father managed to be such a flaming dickhead even under the circumstances. “Yes, The Natural Order dates back years, and their aim has always been the same — the exploration and evolution of magic.”

“And have you met with them over the years?” Dash asked, his voice soft but steady.

“Yes, followers of the Dark Lord and members of The Natural Order often ran in similar circles…” Lucius seemed to be mentally debating how to phrase his next sentence, “There was overlap in… interests.”

“The Natural Order wants pureblood supremacy?” Harry said.

“Power, Mr Potter, both sides were looking for power.”

Lucius had always wanted power. He had been searching for power all of Draco’s life, whether that be through Voldemort, bribing the Ministry, Voldemort again, and now the Natural Order. Lucius couldn’t let it go. It had been what he had struggled most with after the war: the decline of the Malfoy name — that power slipping through his fingers like fine sand. No matter how tightly Lucius clenched his fist, the power just kept on slipping away — bit by bit.

“We were at a ball once, and I was speaking to a witch who belonged to the Natural Order. She was passionate about it and was hoping to reach a point through research where wizards could come out of hiding. That’s another similarity. Neither group understood why wizards have to be in hiding when we are stronger than Muggles.”

Lucius tapped a long finger against the desk. Draco could see the Malfoy signet ring on his finger.

“She asked me if people would ever ask sharks to hide from smaller fish just because they are stronger?” Lucius paused and looked at Harry and Dash, humming to himself when neither of them answered. “Of course, I already agreed with her.”

“Do you have her name?” Harry asked.

“Not off the top of my head,” Lucius said.

“Would you mind if I try find it?” Dash asked, leaning back in his chair. Draco knew that would irritate Lucius. “It’ll be there somewhere, because we don’t really ever forget anything. It’s all stored inside our minds.”

Draco could tell his father was uncomfortable with the idea even if his face didn’t outwardly show it. “And that’s all you’ll look for?”

Dash nodded. “Picture her face, and I’ll find it easily.”

Lucius tapped his finger again. “Okay.”

Draco watched as Lucius met Dash’s eyes and then there was silence until Dash broke the eye contact and turned to face Harry. Draco rolled his eyes. He knew Dash held eye contact with people only for the drama. Dash could enter Lucius’s head blindfolded.

“Robyn Graves,” Dash said. Harry scrawled it on a piece of paper. “She’s the same witch from Farrant’s memories. It appears she worked her way up.” Dash turned back to Lucius and smiled, and it wasn’t a warm expression. “You don’t need to worry, I’m not like Voldemort.”

“I—” Lucius started, but Dash didn’t give him a chance to continue.

“Voldemort was a butcher when he went into people’s minds. He didn’t care what he left behind,” Dash smirked. “Think of me as a surgeon. I’m much more careful.”

Lucius didn’t look comforted in the slightest.

“Do you have any idea of where the Natural Order headquarters could be?” Harry asked, and the tightness of Harry’s mouth suggested that he wasn’t comfortable with Dash’s words either.

Lucius shook his head. “I never visited. There was obviously a fundamental difference between the Dark Lord’s followers and the Natural Order that led to rifts.”

“Which are?” Harry said.

Draco knew what it was going to be before his father said it.

“The Natural Order prioritises all magic wielders, and all wizards are equal to them. They believe that purity of blood doesn’t affect the strength that a wizard will grow to achieve.”

“So they’re not complete fucking idiots then?” Harry shrugged. Draco rolled his eyes again, and heard Robards huff beside him.

“Keep your head, Potter,” Robards murmured, and Draco hummed in agreement. Draco knew better than anyone how infuriating his father could be, but losing your head around him never got anyone anywhere fast.

“They believe in achieving the greatest good for all magic wielders — especially wizards — so they believe that a few sacrifices for the greater good is logical, and the payoff is worth it.”

“Those sacrifices are children!” Harry burst out.

Draco turned away from the interview and took a deep breath. His child was one of those sacrifices.

“The greater good,” Robards muttered, “It’s always the greater fucking good with those loonies. Just once I want to go up against someone who genuinely knows they’re a fucking arsehole.”

Draco let out a bitter laugh. “I wouldn’t tempt fate in this line of work.”

“We know you’ve been in contact with the Natural Order more recently, and we want names, dates, and everything they told you,” Harry said. Draco turned back around to watch the rest of the interview.

Lucius tapped the table twice. He was thinking quickly. “I want you to promise me something first.”

There it was. Draco had been waiting for that.

“What makes you think you’re in a place to demand things?”

“The fact I have the answers you want, and I’m willing to give them to you. I’ll even allow Dash here into my head so you can see everything I know, but,” Draco had learnt there was always a but with his father, “I want immunity.”

“What?” Harry growled, fists clenching on the table.

“I want immunity from whatever charges you could throw my way because of my knowledge and the people I’ve been speaking to.” So, Lucius was friends with criminals. Draco wasn’t shocked.

“We have permission from the Minister herself to get into your head. We don’t need your permission,” Harry spat. He was scowling again.

“But to do that you have to file charges against me, and that’s a lot of paperwork for something I’m willing to offer up for such a small price,” Lucius said, holding his hands up in an innocent gesture.

Draco knew that Lucius would do everything he could to find Scorpius, but he also knew his father had seen the opportunity arise for one last grab at power.

“Wait here,” Harry said, slamming his chair back and standing up. “Watch him,” he commanded Dash, pointing at Lucius before storming out of the room and into the corridor.

Draco waited a couple of seconds and then the viewing room door was flung open and Harry marched in.

“He’s such a fucking arse…” Harry trailed off when he spotted Draco and his gaze softened. Draco didn’t want his pity.

“Yes, he is,” Draco said, his tone curt.

Harry frowned before dragging his gaze over to Robards, who was still scowling at Lucius through the glass.

“What do I do?” Harry asked.

Draco kept watching Robards, but he could feel Harry’s eyes on him. Merlin, he couldn’t even look at Harry without feeling guilty, without the guilt crawling over skin, reminding him that perhaps if he hadn’t been so wrapped up in Harry then Scorpius would still be here. Scorpius wouldn’t have been taken. Harry through the glass had been fine, but Harry here in the same room as him…

Draco rubbed his hands together to give himself something to do with them. What he hated the most was that all he wanted to do right now was bury his face in the crook of Harry’s neck and have Harry hold him.

Draco snuck a glance inside the interview room where his father was inspecting his nails, and Dash was tilting backwards on his chair. “Give him the deal,” Draco said, “get Dash in his head, and get what we need.”

“It’s not in your power to grant such deals, Malfoy,” Robards said, and Draco wanted to laugh.

“You’re going to give him the deal. We need that information.” I need that information . If Lucius didn’t offer it up now at the Ministry, he was going to offer it at home, in the Manor, with Draco’s wand against his throat. There was nothing Draco wouldn’t do to get Scorpius back and he knew Narcissa felt the same.

“We need it, Sir,” Harry said. Draco flicked his eyes over to Harry and back to Robards again. Looking at Harry just hurt.

Robards massaged his temples before glowering at them both. “Fine, but Male-Wraith finds us everything that Slimy Dick knows.”

“Of course,” Draco said.

“Yes, Sir,” Harry said. He paused before leaving, and Draco knew he was looking at him.

Once the door had shut behind Harry, Draco took a breath. “Tell Harry to leave a copy of the transcript of this interview on my desk. I’m going down to the labs for now,” he said to Robards, marching out of the door before Robards could reply.

Draco paused just outside the interview room and took another deep breath. One breath after another. One step at a time. He had to keep going. He had to keep going for Scorpius.

***

Harry cracked his knuckles as he paced up and down the room. He couldn’t believe Lucius Malfoy had been sitting on a piece of information like this, and it was only the abduction of his own fucking grandson that had made him hand it over.

Lucius Malfoy didn’t just have a couple of names, Lucius Malfoy had known a safe house location. A place where the Natural Order kept the victims of their experiments. It had taken everything Harry had not to punch Lucius in his smarmy face. Honestly, Harry had only refrained because then he’d be pulled off the case and brought up for misconduct. He remembered Arthur Weasley punching Lucius Malfoy in Flourish and Blotts before second year with fondness, and made a note to congratulate Arthur on that the next time he saw it.

“Stop pacing or you’ll wear out the floor,” Terry scolded, placing his hand on Harry’s shoulder. “We’ve got this,” Terry said, lowering his voice and giving Harry’s shoulder a squeeze before moving to speak to Stapleton about logistics.

“Are you sure you’re good for this, mate?” It was Ron’s hand on Harry’s shoulder now.

Harry turned and glared at Ron. “I’m fine.”

“You don’t seem fine,” Ron countered, raising his eyebrows.

“Well, I am,” Harry snapped.

Ron’s nose twitched, and he started to fasten his wand holster on. “Are you sure? And before you bite my head off, I’m asking this as your best mate and as an Auror who is going into that safe house with you and needs to know your head is on straight. You need to forget that this is Malfoy’s kid. You can’t let it get personal.”

“But it is personal,” Harry sighed, dragging his hands through his hair and then bending down to tighten his wand holster for something else to do.

“I know,” Ron said. “But you can’t let that get the better of you, Harry.” Harry opened his mouth to speak, but Ron cut him off by raising his hands. “If you don’t think you can treat this as any other Auror would, then I need to know now and you need to tell Robards that you can’t participate in this raid.”

Harry wanted to shout and scream and punch Ron in his serious face, but he couldn’t. He knew that what Ron was saying was right. He had to be able to tackle this situation with a straight head. He had to pretend Scorpius was just a nameless child, just like he had to pretend they were all nameless and faceless children after seeing Farrant’s memories.

“Harry,” Ron said, his voice softer now.

This case had always been personal for Harry. He had a weak spot for abused children. However, if he let that get the better of him then he couldn’t save them. His feelings for Draco had gotten in the way of the case before, and he couldn’t let it happen again.

“I’m fine,” Harry said.

Ron nodded, clapped Harry on the shoulder and moved over to speak to Gregor.

Robards had spoken to Kingsley soon after Lucius, and Kingsley had insisted that the team be a mix of Aurors, Unspeakables, and Hit Wizards. Harry didn’t normally like working with the Hit Wizards, because they were far too happy to cast first and ask if the person deserved it second, but in this case he didn’t mind. Harry tried to squash the thought. He couldn’t let himself be blinded by his feelings.

The door to the armory burst open, and Draco stalked in flanked by Dash — Dahlia and Cho had been instructed to stay behind and focus on tracking Scorpius from the magical signatures found at Draco’s.

Harry tried to catch Draco’s eye, but he was pretty sure Draco was deliberately trying not to look at him. Harry shoved his hands in his pockets and turned around to see Ron staring at him. Harry scowled and turned back around, not quite sure what to do with himself.

“Malfoy, can I have a moment?” Croaker said, exchanging a look with Kingsley and Robards.

Harry had a bad feeling he knew exactly what this was about.

“Yes, Sir?” Draco said, his back stiffening as if he too had a bad feeling about what was coming.

“Did Romilda not pass along my memo?” Croaker asked, lowering his voice.

Harry awkwardly shuffled closer to eavesdrop and then bent down pretending to tighten his boots. He glanced up and found Dash gazing at him, one eyebrow arched. It seemed Harry wasn’t particularly convincing.

“I can’t let you go on this raid, Malfoy,” Croaker said, raising his arm as if to comfort Draco, but seemingly deciding against it at the last moment as he dropped it. “I can’t with a clear conscience let you into the field when I know you won’t be going in with an even head.”

“Sir-” Draco started, his face contorting with a flurry of emotions. “Please, I can do this. I need to do this.”

Croaker shook his head. “I should be taking you off the case altogether, but I trust that you can separate your heart from your head enough to work through the facts here in the Ministry. However, when it comes to the field, I can’t put you out there.”

“But-” Draco said, his posture stiffening. People were starting to stare, and Harry wanted to pull Draco into his arms and never let him go. Instead, he pretended to tighten his other boot lace.

“Wraith will join Potter’s team, and Brady will lead his own team of Unspeakables as well.”

Draco glanced over the room, his expression blank. His eyes skimmed over Harry as if he didn’t exist, and Harry tried not to let it hurt. He knew he was nowhere near Draco’s top priority now.

“Of course, as you order,” Draco said. “Sir,” he added the honorific a second later, clearly showing his anger. Draco turned to Dash, and Harry had no idea what they were saying to each other.

Harry pushed himself to his feet, aware that he had been tying his shoelaces for far too long at this point.

“Draco,” Harry said just as Draco turned to leave.

Draco paused, staring at the door before turning back to Harry, his face carefully composed. “Yes?”

Harry stepped closer and lowered his voice. “I’ll do everything I can.”

Draco’s face spasmed and he swallowed before saying, “Thank you.” Draco gave Harry a curt nod and marched out of the room, his head held high.

“He knows.” Harry turned at the sound of Dash’s voice. “Draco knows you’ll do everything you can, and he’s thankful.”

Harry nodded and shrugged. “I thought you didn’t get his thoughts?”

Dash gave him a crooked half-smile. “I don’t, but despite what he thinks, he’s really easy to read when you know him.”

Harry managed a weak laugh. “If you say so.” He clapped Dash on the shoulder and walked back into the centre of the room for the final debrief. “Now let’s catch us some weirdos.”

***

Hektor Fawley.

Beatrice Travers.

Annabel Martin-Selwyn.

Scorpius Malfoy.

Four children. Three purebloods and one half-blood. Three of them with Death Eater family ties. Perhaps Lucius had been wrong and there was more to the Natural Order and blood purity than he had thought. Then again, James had said the reason there could be a preference for abducting pureblood children was because their magic was most encouraged to flourish.

Draco had been trying to get ahold of James all day, but apparently he was ill. Useless fucking Gryffindors. James was going to have a nasty surprise tomorrow when he found the amount of paperwork Draco had sent over to him.

Draco had been working non-stop since Croaker had, to Draco’s humiliation, removed him from field work. He couldn’t let himself be taken off the case. He just couldn’t. He had to prove that he was an asset to the team, that even though it had become deeply personal for him, Draco could still keep his head.

He had tried to go down to Dahlia’s lab, but Chang had shooed him away saying that Dahlia was in the middle of working something out and changing variables would distract her. Draco would have thrown a hissy fit about being treated like a china doll, but he trusted Dahlia. He knew that Dahlia would have dragged him into her lab whether Croaker banned it or not if she thought Draco would be useful.

Draco flipped open another one of James’s research papers on children's magic. He’d read this one before, but he had to keep going, had to keep working. He had already done background checks on every name that Lucius had given them and sent them back over to the Aurors who were empowered to make the arrests.

It had been awkward when Kingsley and Croaker had told Draco that he wasn’t allowed to make arrests in this case. Draco had nodded and stalked out of the room to go and continue his research—and throw a private hissy fit in his office.

After his hissy fit, he had penned a short and to-the-point letter to Astoria telling her what had happened, but that there was no need to come back to England. Draco didn’t know what he’d do if his ex-wife burst through the door.

“Draco!” Romilda’s voice echoed around his room. She sounded panicked.

“Yes?” Draco replied. He was still pissed off that she hadn’t found him in time to let him know he was being taken off fieldwork before he’d humiliated himself.

“They’re back! The field team is back, and they’ve found one of the children!”

Draco froze.

“Draco!” Romilda was shouting through the phone now.

“Who is it?” Draco asked, clutching at his desk. He couldn’t let his hopes get too high.

“I don’t know, but they’re alive and in St Mungos.”

Alive. The child was alive. And maybe it was… No Draco couldn’t let himself get too hopeful. But… No. Scorpius.

“Draco?” Romilda said, her voice softening.

“I need to get to St Mungos,” Draco said, standing up and searching the room for his cloak. Scorpius could have been found within 24 hours of going missing. Scorpius might not have been properly harmed yet. Draco could be reunited with his son.

“I’ll keep you updated if I hear anything more,” Romilda said, “and let me know what you find!”

“Of course,” Draco said, deciding he didn’t need his fucking cloak anyway and marched into his floo. Scorpius could be at St Mungos  waiting for him, scared and alone, and Draco had to find out.

***

Harry limped through the corridors of St Mungos. Robards had told him to get his leg checked out, but he had bigger concerns. He’d just caught a hex and received a gash on his thigh. He would be fine.

There were bigger fish to fry right now. He had to get back to the Ministry and deal with the three living suspects they had managed to arrest. One was even on Lucius’s list.

Chris Wilson. A weedy man with bleached-blond hair and a nose too small for his long face.

The other two were new names. Rebecca Short and David Rogerson.

Harry had wanted to burn them all. He’d wanted to end them when he saw the kid in Ron’s arms before Ron took a Portkey out of there, leaving the rest of them to round up the perps.

Those huge round eyes in that hollow face was going to haunt Harry for years to come. He hated being an Auror sometimes, the nightmares it brought and the struggle to remember that everyone had light and dark inside them as Sirius had once told him.

A flash of familiar white hair caught Harry’s eyes as he arrived in the St Mungo floo room.

“Draco?”

“Isithim?” Draco said, the words falling from his mouth so fast they blurred into one. “Have you got him?” Draco’s eyes were wide, and Harry felt his heart wrench as he heard himself say:

“No.”

Everything in Malfoy seemed to deflate.

“It was Hektor Fawley,” Harry said, stepping closer to Draco. Draco stared at him blankly, and Harry wasn’t sure if he was currently seeing him. “We got three perps back alive, which means there's more information to get, and we’ve got the names your dad gave us.” Harry frowned. He squeezed Draco’s arm, moving closer again when Draco didn’t push him away.

“We’re going to find him,” Harry promised, and now he genuinely believed it. They were getting closer and closer to solving this. They’d found one child now. “It’s been three months since he was taken but we found him! And we’ll find the rest of them, too.”

Harry didn’t mention how Hektor had looked lying in that hospital bed in a magically induced coma. Hermione had said that she’d be surprised if Hektor ever used magic again. His magical core had been depleted to critical levels, but it ran deeper than that. The emotional trauma the Natural Order had inflicted on him would always be there just under his skin whenever he did magic. Hektor was nine, and he was supposed to go to Hogwarts in a couple of years. He literally had his whole life ahead of him, and the Natural Order could have taken his magic away.

“What if they learn from this?” Draco said, his voice heavy. “What if they disappear underground with my son, and they never resurface?”

“Then we’ll flush them out,” Harry said, his jaw tightening as he stroked Draco’s arm. “We will find him.”

Draco nodded dumbly. “Yeah.”

“You can’t give up hope, Draco. Look how much progress we’re making!”

Draco nodded again.

“You’re one of the strongest people I know, you know,” Harry said. Draco’s eyes finally focused, latching onto Harry’s. “And if Scorpius is even half as strong as you, then he’s going to survive this.”

“He’s stronger than me,” Draco said in a half whisper, “but he shouldn’t have to survive it. I should have been there.”

“There was nothing you could have done. You couldn’t have known.”

“I should have! I’m his dad!”

Harry pulled Draco into his arms. Draco stiffened for a second, and Harry was about to step back and apologise when Draco wrapped his arms around Harry and buried his face in the crook of Harry’s neck.

Harry let out a deep breath and just held Draco for a moment. He couldn’t believe it hadn’t even been 24 hours since Scorpius had gone missing yet. It was only 7:00 PM.

“You can’t blame yourself,” Harry murmured, pressing a kiss to Draco’s head. Draco’s hair smelt really nice.

“But I was distracted by you,” Draco mumbled, his voice smothered.

Harry began rubbing Draco’s back. “It wasn’t your fault. You couldn’t have known or kept watch over him 24/7.”

“It was the first of the month, and I should have known. I should have protected him better! I’m the one who’s always meant to be there for him and I-” Draco’s body shook, and he seemed to be trying to suppress sobs. “I wasn’t, because I was thinking about you. I’ve spent so many years trying not to be the selfish child I used to be, and it turns out I haven’t changed at all. Because of my selfishness, my son is being harmed as we speak.”

Harry swallowed and kissed Draco’s head again as he tried to find the right words. “You have changed. You’re not selfish, and it’s not your fault this happened.” Harry didn’t know what else to say, and he didn’t think anything he said would make a difference anyway.

Harry suddenly became aware they were standing in a blatantly embracing in the middle of St Mungo’s floo room, and it was a miracle that no one had walked in on them yet.

“We should get you home,” Harry said, stepping back but keeping a hand on Draco’s arm. He didn’t want to let go of Draco yet, but he knew Draco wasn’t in the right state of mind to make a conscious decision about whether to out their relationship yet.

Harry paused. Relationship. Their whatever this was that was clearly more than just a shag and not quite an established relationship. Perhaps when the dust settled and everything was normal again they’d be able to explore more what they could mean to each other.

Draco shook his head and rubbed his eyes with his palms. “I don’t want to go home. Pansy said she’d be there, but…”

“Well, you’re welcome to stay at mine, but I’m going back to the Ministry for a fair bit before I head home. Of course, you’re welcome to stay there by yourself as Kreacher will look after you.”

Draco shook his head. “No, I’m coming back to the Ministry with you.”

“You need rest,” Harry said firmly.

“What I need is to find my son,” Draco said, and there was a light burning again in his eyes. “Don’t baby me, Harry.”

Harry nodded, biting his lip. He didn’t want to baby Draco, he just wanted to make sure he was okay. “Okay, we’ll go back to the incident room, order takeaway, and set up base there. Terry should have written up the report on the raid by then, and I’m hoping every person your dad gave us has been called in by now?”

Draco scowled. “We got five of twelve, and the others have disappeared underground. We brought their family members in for questioning, though. I imagine Kingsley and Croaker will want Dash to take a look at them all. The standard Ministry Legilimens just isn’t quite up to his standard, and now that we know about the vampire blood we can’t be too careful.”

The Ministry had been busy today, Harry thought with a grimace. He’d be surprised if half of the DMLE went home before midnight.

“Right, okay then, let’s get takeaway and get our facts straight,” Harry said.

Draco nodded, tilting his chin up. “Yes, okay, that sounds like a good plan.” He pulled a face. “I must confess that I don’t have a particularly extensive takeaway knowledge.”

“We’ll get Indian, and I’ll order for us.” Draco arched a brow and Harry laughed. “You can trust me, my dad was Desi after all. I’ve done my research.” Hermione had helped him after the war. It had given him something to focus on and helped him feel closer to his dad’s family that he’d never known. “It doesn’t come close my home cooked version,” Harry said with a soft whistle. “I’ll cook some for you one day… If you’d like, of course.”

Draco’s other eyebrow raised, and Harry regretted saying anything. Maybe Draco didn’t feel the same way. Harry had thought they were on a pretty similar page, but he supposed everything had changed when—

“I’d like that,” Draco said, cutting off Harry’s rambling stream of consciousness.

“Awesome, it’s a date… Or a thing… You know.”

Draco laughed, and Harry swatted him playfully, enjoying the break in tension even if it were just for a minute.

“Come on arsehole, let’s go,” Harry said, just as a floo flared to life and a shouting family crowded into the room.

Draco nodded, and together they flooed back to the Ministry.

***

It’s hopeless , Harry thought as he went through all the statements and    even as he couldn’t help but  pick up the next interview folder.

He flipped it open and took another bite of his naan bread. The Indian takeaway had been a roaring success, and he’d been correct in guessing that Draco had the spice tolerance of a baby—meaning a korma was about as much as he could handle.

The name stared up at him. Anthony Graves. They hadn’t been able to catch Robyn, as she’d disappeared underground leaving a very confused husband behind her. It seemed like her husband genuinely hadn’t known what his wife’s research had entailed. But Harry reckoned he’d known, somewhere deep down. Spouses always know deep down. They say they don’t, and they shed their tears, and they whisper of the good old days before their loved ones had fallen off the rails, but they know.

Robyn was a half-blood who had married Anthony the year before she’d met Lucius back at the ball. She’d left Hogwarts with the top N.E.W.Ts in her year, scoring perfect marks in every exam, suggesting she was vying with Hermione for brain power. She’d been a Chaser on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team and Head Girl. The Ministry had snatched her up the second she’d left Hogwarts, and she’d become an Unspeakable, studying how magic affects a wizards body.

“Hey, when did you friend James join the Unspeakable team?” Harry asked as he flicked to the next page.

“The useless oaf is anything but my friend,” Draco muttered. He was half hidden by the files on his desk. “But he turned fifty this year, and we had to have a party for him.” Harry didn’t need to be able to see Draco’s face to know it would be twisted with displeasure.

Harry hummed. “Depending on when he started working here he could have known Robyn Graves. She worked as an Unspeakable straight out of Hogwarts until she quit.”

“I’ll ask the idiot if he ever returns from sick leave,” Draco huffed before finally looking up from his files to ask, “What made her quit?” He looked exhausted with heavy bags under his eyes and his hair falling over his face. “Not that I don’t understand, it’s a thankless and draining job.”

Harry understood. Auror work was similar. “She quit when her daughter died.”

“How old?” Draco asked. Harry wished he hadn’t brought up children dying, but he couldn’t keep the facts from Draco just because they’d upset him. He knew Draco would be more upset if he thought Harry was babying him.

“Fifteen. She was a Squib,” Harry said, squinting at the file. “Had always been sickly and then her body just gave out.”

He wondered what it would have meant to someone like Robyn Graves to have a Squib for a child. For someone for whom magic and the evolution of magic was everything to mother a child without magic.

“You don’t think,” he started, grabbing another file and flipping through it before dropping it. No, that wasn’t what he wanted.

“What?” Draco questioned, looking more alert.

“These experiments they’re doing, I don’t know how relevant it is, but you don’t think they’re…” Harry trailed off as he snatched up the relevant pages of notes.

“What?” Draco said, standing up and marching over to Harry’s desk. “What is it?”

Harry glanced up at Draco. “You don’t think that she—Robyn—killed her daughter do you?”

“No, she’s mental, but—”

“Draco, this is a woman who has proven she would do anything to push the boundaries of magic. I don’t think she killed her intentionally, but if you look at this,” Harry pulled up the medical records they’d manage to get from Mary Grave’s death, “I’d have to check with Hermione of course, but something looks wrong. Think of a normal natural death report: It doesn’t read like that.”

Draco bit his lip while his eyes flew over the page. “And what do you think?”

“I think Robyn tried to find a way to give her daughter magic, but the girl’s body couldn’t take it, so it short-circuited and she died. And after that Robyn quit the Unspeakables and dedicated all her time to the Natural Order.”

Draco frowned before swearing and dropping the file back on Harry’s desk. “Fuck. Do you think that’s what they’re doing with the children? Trying to use their magic to help Squibs?”

“Surely that’s too noble?” Harry said. If that's what the Natural Order were doing it just seemed so tame.  Like it was a good cause that they were going about in the complete fucking wrong way.

“Their intention was never evil.”

Harry’s head flew up to see the Wraith twins leaning in the doorway. Dahlia gave him a weak smile before walking into the room and continuing. “We gathered that from Farrant They genuinely could be working towards helping people and the magical community. They just don’t care how they get the results.”

It terrified Harry to think that this group had always been there just under the surface, biding their time through the two wizarding wars.

“They’re a deontological group,” Dash added, rubbing a hand over his face.

Both twins looked even more disheveled than usual. Dahlia’s curly hair was even bushier than Hermione’s had been at Hogwarts, and Dash looked like he was about to pass out. Even their dark skin looked pale and drained. Harry wasn’t surprised, because he thought they had both been working all day without a break.

According to Cho, Dahlia hadn’t left her lab, and Dash had been entering people's minds left and right. He had also been fantastic on the field mission. Harry wasn’t sure they’d have been successful without him. He’d discovered Hektor’s presence and been able to predict each of the Natural Order’s moves.

“Isn’t it teleological?” Draco frowned. “Consequences, not actions.”

Dash waved his hand at Draco and hummed. “That’s what I meant.”

Draco nodded. “Very Utilitarian,” his frown deepened as he seemed to notice the state of the Wraith twins. “You two need to go home, since it’s nearly midnight. You both look like shit.”

“Cauldron, whatever else, you’re black,” Dahlia shrugged, a crooked smile on her face. Harry thought that wasn’t the exact phrase. “You need to go home too.”

“I’m fine, you can’t tell me what to do,” Draco said, propping his chin on his hand.

“You do look like shit,” Harry said.

Draco flipped him off. “You can’t tell me what to do, Junior Auror, I’m two ranks above you.”

“Alright, Sir,” Harry drawled, noting the way Draco’s mouth quirked. He’d file that away for another time.

“Leave us out of your kinky games,” Dahlia groaned.

Harry ducked his head awkwardly.

“What?” Dahlia said, smirking at them both innocently. “We have eyes.”

“You have a mind reader,” Harry deadpanned.

“That too,” Dahlia said, smiling fondly up at her brother.

Dash winked at Harry and leaned his elbow on Dahlia’s shoulder.

“Go home and stop being a pain in my arse,” Draco said, waving his hand dismissively at them.

“Only if you go home too,” Dash said, fixing his heavy gaze on Draco, who scowled.

“I’ll get him home,” Harry said, blushing as everyone’s eyes fell on him.

Dahlia snorted. “Of course you will, sleep well boys,” she laughed, leering at them before walking out. Dash glanced between the two of them and winked again before following his sister.

“I need better employees,” Draco muttered, and when Harry looked over at him he was slumped on his desk with his hands covering his face. Harry guessed it would be better to wait for Draco to speak, and sure enough a few moments later Draco said, “I don’t want to go home.”

“Come to mine?” Harry said, tidying up his files for tomorrow morning and Vanishing the Indian boxes.

“Harry,” Draco sighed.

“We can stop by yours first so you have everything you need,” Harry said, standing up,  walking over to Draco’s desk, and running a hand through his hair. It was always so soft. “Come to mine?”

Draco stared up at Harry before nodding. “I’ll text Pans.”

***

It felt weird having Draco at his house. Having Draco Malfoy wearing a pair of Harry’s old pyjama bottoms and a Gryffindor top was something Harry never would have predicted, but that he definitely liked.

“I refuse to believe you don’t have another top,” Draco said, raising an eyebrow.

Harry tried to look innocent. “Kreacher’s washing all my others.” Draco raised his other eyebrow. “Also you look good in red.”

“I look good in everything,” Draco said, rolling his eyes.

“That you do,” Harry said, leaning in and kissing Draco.

“Bloody sap,” Draco muttered but kissed him back.

“We need to sleep,” Harry said, his hands on Draco’s hips.

“Or?” Draco said, moving his mouth along Harry’s jaw and down his neck. “Or you could distract me from how fucking awful today has been.”

Every part of Harry wanted to give in, to take Draco to bed and fuck him gently.

Stepping back with a groan Harry pulled a face. “You need to sleep. We need to sleep,” Draco opened his mouth to protest, “So we can actually get shit done tomorrow.”

Draco narrowed his eyes. “I’m vulnerable and asking you to fuck me, so why won’t you?”

“Because I don’t want to take advantage of you,” Harry huffed, taking Draco’s hand and dragging him towards the bed.

“I’m asking for it!”

“Draco,” Harry said firmly, kissing Draco once more before moving away. “We both need sleep. We need to give it everything tomorrow.”

Draco nodded and let Harry pull him to bed. They curled up together, and Harry relished every moment of the contact. It made him realise how accustomed he’d grown to sleeping alone and how nice the change was.

Falling asleep with someone in the house, with someone in his bed—and that person being Draco—meant everything to Harry.

He hadn’t gone into this case, into this thing with Draco, expecting to come out the other side wanting more, but he wanted it now. He didn’t want it to end.

“Good night, Harry,” Draco said. Harry could just about make out his white hair and pale eyes in the dark. Harry heard the thank you in Draco’s voice that he knew Draco couldn’t say.

“Night, Draco,” Harry whispered back.

***

Placing the sandwich he’d grabbed from the lunch hall on Draco’s desk, Harry leaned over to inspect Draco’s research closer.

“Found anything?” he asked, pulling back because he couldn’t read upside down.

Draco shook his head, and his nose wrinkled. “No, I’ve managed to get a few files on the research Robyn Graves did while she worked here, but most of it’s locked away and Croaker’s being a git.”

“Shock,” Harry muttered. The Head of the Unspeakables was known for being a slippery bugger if you asked Robards. Kingsley would describe Croaker as secretive , but that was just Kingsley trying to be polite.

Terry Boot hummed in agreement before turning back to where he was explaining something to Ron. There wasn’t room in the incident room for Ron’s team, so they were constantly coming in and out during the day for information.

“I bought you a sandwich,” Harry said, nudging the sandwich closer to Draco. Draco had barely eaten breakfast that morning. Harry had thought Kreacher was going to shove the toast down Draco’s throat at one point. Harry would have supported his decision.

Draco glanced up. His undereye bags were huge and his skin pale. Harry wasn’t sure how much Draco had slept last night. Harry understood why, but he didn’t like seeing Draco this vulnerable.

“What flavour?”

“It’s the Ministry lunch hall,” Harry laughed, “It’s chicken, lettuce, and tomato.”

Draco took a tentative bite. “It’s not awful.”

Harry rolled his eyes and gave Draco a fond smile.

“How come you didn’t get me a sandwich?” Ron said. Terry shot Ron an exasperated look and continued with his work.

“Because you’ve already had two,” Harry pointed out.

Ron shrugged and pretended to look hurt. “Still the thought that counts.”

Harry laughed, but it fell short at the sound of a haughty and familiar voice:

“Move the fuck out of my way.”

“How did you even get in here?” Stapleton cried from the other side of the door. “You can’t let them in here!”

Harry turned to look at Draco, whose head had shot up. “Is that —?” Harry started.

Draco nodded and sighed. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

The incident room door flew up to reveal Dash followed by Pansy Parkinson, Stapleton, and a fair-haired witch whom it took Harry a moment to recognise. Astoria Greengrass.

Harry hadn’t known Astoria Greengrass existed until she’d married Draco, and even then he hadn’t really cared about Astoria. His attention had been on the fact Draco had gotten married. Then there had been Nice, and even so Harry hadn’t thought about Astoria really, he’d just been blinded by anger at Draco. The most Harry had ever thought about Astoria was when it was announced in the Prophet that Draco and she were separating, and he had considered sending her a congratulations card. Ginny had been for it, but Hermione hadn’t let him.

Astoria Greengrass was one of the most beautiful women Harry had ever laid eyes on. She was tall and willowy with flawless skin, doe-like brown eyes and golden hair that cascaded down her back in princess curls. She looked like she had walked out of one of Teddy’s Disney movies. Terry and Ron were staring at her in awe, and even Harry couldn’t keep his eyes off her until Dash finally spoke,  breaking the spell.

“Look, there he is, my job is done,” Dash grumbled, shoving his hands in his pockets and stalking over to his desk. Harry thought he heard Dash mutter, “Sorry, Draco,” as he walked past.

“Is that Pansy Parkinson?” Ron asked. He was standing up, his wand out, as he stared at the two witches. Harry hadn’t seen Ron look so utterly bemused in years.

Parkinson didn’t seem to think Ron’s question was worth answering as she strode over to Draco, clutching a piece of paper in her hands and her eyes blazing. “What the fuck is this, Draco?”

Astoria stepped forward, laying her hand on Parkinson’s shoulder. “Let me,” she said, giving Parkinson a gentle smile before turning to Draco. The smile slid from her face. “What the fuck is this, Draco?” She snatched the piece of paper from Parkinson’s hand and slammed it down on Draco’s desk. “How dare you write me this fucking letter to tell me that my son is missing? That my son has been kidnapped!”

Harry stepped closer to Draco, who seemed to be doing some very quick thinking. Harry shot a glance over at his colleagues. Ron was staring at the interaction, not even pretending to be subtle, while Terry at least half-pretended to still be focused on his research—then again with Terry he actually could still be focused on his research. Stapleton was hovering by the door, not sure what to do with herself, and Dash had kicked his feet up onto the desk and seemed to have settled in for the show.

“Well?” Astoria demanded.

“He’s hardly your son,” Draco said softly, but his voice was even. “You haven’t seen him in six years. He receives a letter for his birthday, and that’s it.”

Astoria stepped closer, her mouth stern. “He is still my son, and I deserved better than this.”

Draco stood up and tilted his chin. It was a dangerous angle that Harry knew well. “Deserved?” Draco said, letting out a bitter laugh. “Do not talk to me about what people deserve, Astoria.” Draco glared at his ex-wife who glared straight back at him. “Scorpius deserved a mother, but I respected your decision to leave.”

“I was nineteen and forced into a marriage with a man who would never love me! And then to top it off you divorced me!” Astoria said. “I didn’t want a child! I wasn’t ready for a child!”

“And you think I was?” Draco snapped. “But he is my son, so I took care of him. I did everything I could, and now I am doing everything I can to get him home. Scorpius is my life, he is my everything, and he is now gone. So forgive me if I wasn’t focused on sending a heartfelt letter to a woman he doesn’t know! Pansy is more his mother than you have ever been!”

Astoria glanced over her shoulder at Parkinson who had stepped back, her face impassive, and her eyes on Draco. It appeared that while before Parkinson’s allegiance to her friends had been split, now she’d chosen a side. She had chosen Draco. Harry imagined that was what had happened all those years ago, too.

“I still love him,” Astoria said, swallowing heavily. Her golden eyes glittered, and a tear traced its way down her cheek. Of course, she cried beautifully, Harry thought, feeling irrationally irritated.

He wanted to snap at Astoria that she had no right to be here, but he knew Draco could handle it and that Draco would yell at him for getting involved.

“You don’t know him,” Draco said simply, his face impassive.

Harry was starting to understand why they had split up.

Now Astoria tilted her chin up and glowered at Draco before rounding on the rest of them. “And you, Aurors, I’ve read the papers!” At that Parkinson had the decency to look awkward, though Harry had to admit he’d seen Parkinson’s name on the case-related articles a lot less often since Draco had joined the team. “One child in four months! How can I trust that you will find my child?”

“You can trust that my team and I will do everything to find him,” Draco said before Harry could tell her where exactly she could shove her questions. “And now as Junior Auror Stapleton was trying to tell you earlier, this is a workplace and you can’t be here,” Draco flicked his gaze over to Parkinson. “The same goes for you.”

Astoria sniffed. “We’re not done with this conversation yet,” she crossed her arms, “I’m staying with my sister so you can contact me there.” She cast her eyes around the room before sweeping out of it.

Parkinson hesitated. “You know I only did what I thought was right.”

Draco scowled for a moment, but it didn’t hold. He waved his hand at her wearily. “I’ll see you later, Pans.”

Parkinson nodded, stepped forward, and kissed his cheek before following Astoria out of the room.

Draco sat back down and Vanished the letter with a flick of his wand before pulling another file from the pile on his desk.

Harry was aware there was nothing for him to say so stepped away from Draco and started to move towards his own desk.

He glanced at Ron who pulled a face and mouthed, “What the fuck?”

Harry shrugged and picked up his own notes from the interviews they’d been doing with the families.

He still found it hard sometimes to connect his Draco with the one he had known at Hogwarts. However, they were one and the same person. Draco had just grown up. The Draco Malfoy Harry had once known would not have reacted so calmly to what Astoria had said, and he certainly wouldn’t have raised a child as a single father on his own terms.

Draco’s growth was pretty fucking fantastic, in Harry’s opinion.

***

“You didn’t have to drop me home, Harry,” Draco said, sending Harry a look as he climbed out of the floo. “I’m not a baby.”

Harry rubbed the back of his neck and shrugged. “I know, I just-”

“Have a saving people thing?” Draco said, grabbing Harry’s shirt and giving him a soft kiss. “I know, but I’m not something for you to save. If this ,” he gestured between the two of them, “is going to be a thing, then I need you to treat me as an equal. Someone who can look after himself.”

There was a furrow between Harry’s brows that Draco wanted to smooth away, but he didn’t. He needed Harry to understand this. He wasn’t something to be babied or coddled. He didn’t want or like—and never had—Harry Potter, The Saviour.

“I know, and I don’t think of you that way,” Harry said slowly. “It’s just…” He trailed off, and Draco waited for him to find the words. “I just struggle with seeing the people I care about in pain,” Harry said finally.

Draco squeezed his hand. “I know.” He’d worried earlier that Harry would snap at Astoria, but thankfully Harry had kept his mouth shut.

Merlin, after that encounter Draco needed a glass of wine or maybe a bottle. He was trying to keep his head and stay calm in the face of everything. They were making progress, and they were going to find Scorpius. He couldn’t let himself think otherwise.

“Astoria’s got fiester with age,” Draco sighed, wandering through to the kitchen and letting Harry follow him. When they had first married, Astoria  had been silent. In fact, she had had the personality of a brick wall during their relationship. He presumed it had something to do with the shit nature of their relationship. So Draco was happy for her that she had finally come into her own. He just wished he could be happy for her with her still in France.

“Has she always been that fit, too?” Harry asked. Draco tried to swat him, but Harry ducked out of the way laughing. “What! Come on, she’s stunning! Should I be jealous?”

Draco rolled his eyes and pulled down a glass before turning for the open  bottle of red in the fridge.. “Even if you didn’t have a rather spectacular cock, there would be no need to be jealous because I only like men.”

Harry laughed. Draco considered offering Harry a glass because a large part of him desperately wanted Harry to stay, but the rational part of him knew he had to send Harry home. He couldn’t and wouldn’t be dependent on him. Draco would just wait until Harry was gone to pour himself a glass. He liked to think he still had the manners he had been taught. He was looking forward to opening that delightful bottle of red.

“It would be like me being jealous of you spending time with Ginny Weasley,” Draco continued. Harry snorted and Draco raised his eyebrows. “You were meant to marry her, right?”

Harry scoffed. “Only according to the Prophet . Say that to Ginny, and she’d punch you.”

Draco remembered the glare on Ginny Weasley’s face everytime she had seen him and winced. “I don’t think she needs an excuse to punch me.”

“In her mind she has an excuse,” Harry shrugged.

Draco paused and tapped his fingers against the counter. He supposed it was about time this came up. “I am…sorry about that. It was distasteful of me.”

“Distasteful?” Harry snorted. “You lied to get me to shag you. I didn’t want to be a part of what you made me a part of.”

Draco glanced around the kitchen, his eyes lingering on the bottle of wine he desperately wanted. “I know, and it was shitty of me. I’m not trying to excuse it, and I know I hurt you, but I’d always had a thing for you, and I never loved Astoria, and so when the moment presented itself I took it. I thought I was going to be stuck in a loveless marriage for the rest of my life. However, I know you’d specifically refused to shag a married man and I lied, so I’m sorry.”

Harry didn’t say anything for a while and Draco really considered offering him a glass of wine just to break the silence. “You didn’t hurt me, but you did fuck me off. I didn’t think I’d ever forgive you for it, but then I got to know you and realised you’re not the utter arsehole I thought you were.”

“Utter arsehole?” Draco said.

Harry grinned and tucked his fingers in Draco’s belt loops, pulling Draco closer. “Thank you though,” Harry’s lips were on Draco’s neck, which  Draco arched to give him more access. “The apology means a lot.”

Harry’s mouth was wet against Draco’s jaw as it moved along, nipping and sucking until Harry reached Draco’s mouth and kissed him. Draco let himself get lost in Harry’s mouth, let himself give in to this distraction. He’d still send Harry home afterwards, but he wanted this now. He wanted what Harry was willing to offer him.

“Distract me,” Draco whispered, and it was a plea that he hoped Harry would grant.

“Draco,” Harry started, pulling back ever so slightly, his brows furrowed.

“I don’t need saving Harry, and I don’t want you to wrap me up in a blanket,” Draco said, grazing his teeth along on Harry’s neck, liking the way Harry moaned. “I’m a grown fucking man, and I just want distracting,” Draco kissed Harry again. He was tired of reminding Harry that he was an adult who could make his own decisions. He understood Harry’s saving thing, but Draco didn’t want it.

Harry didn’t say anything, but he deepened the kiss, his hands slipping under Draco’s shirt as he dragged his blunt nails down Draco’s back.

Harry shifted his hips, rubbing his growing erection against Draco’s thigh. Draco let out a startled breath as Harry pressed him against the counter, and Harry laughed. Draco smirked as he rolled his hips against Harry’s. Harry pushed Draco up onto the counter and Draco wrapped his legs around Harry’s waist, trying to remove Harry’s shirt without breaking the kiss.

Harry got the hint and pulled his shirt off himself before yanking off Draco’s. Draco had half a mind to reprimand him, because the shirt was expensive and Harry had definitely broken some of the buttons. However, then Harry’s mouth was on Draco’s nipples, and his hands were pulling down Draco’s boxers and trousers.

“Harry,” was all Draco got out before Harry moved further south and swallowed him down. “Harry,” Draco repeated, and it felt like a prayer falling from his lips.

Harry licked, kissed, and sucked his cock until Draco was an incoherent mess on the counter.

“Lube, get the lube,” Draco stammered through clenched teeth, his hands tugging Harry’s hair. Harry pulled off and licked a long strip up Draco’s cock before smirking. “Get the fucking lube,” Draco groaned.

“Can’t I just conjure it?” Harry whined, reaching up and kissing Draco.

Draco glared at him. “Only if it’s your arse on the line. The conjured stuff is shit.”

Harry rolled his eyes and planted a kiss under Draco’s jaw. “Where is it?”

“Top kitchen cabinet,” Draco groaned as Harry wrapped his hand around his cock. “Just summon it.” Draco for the first time sent up a thank you to Blaise and his irritating tendency to bring Draco a bottle of lube every time he came around. Blaise always said it was to help Draco remove the stick from his arse. Draco thought Blaise found himself far more entertaining than he was, and had just hidden it in the top cabinet out of Scorpius’s reach. He had then forgotten about it with everything going on.

Harry reached out his hand and the cabinet drawer flew open and the lube smacked into his hand. Draco grabbed Harry’s face and snogged him. It was unfairly hot when Harry did that.

Harry yanked down his trousers, tugged Draco’s fully off, and then opened the bottle to pour the lube onto his hands.

“Take off my shoes and socks as well,” Draco huffed.

Harry rolled his eyes but obliged before finally pouring the lube on his fingers. Harry slid his cold hands from Draco’s hips, across his cock, and between his legs to his hole. Draco gasped as Harry asked, “Do you ever shut up?”

“You’re making me all-” Draco’s breath fluttered as Harry pressed his index finger against that ring of muscle. “Sticky,” Draco breathed, pulling Harry in for a kiss as Harry worked in one finger. Slowly and surely Harry fingered and scissored Draco open while swallowing his moans. Draco had wanted it hard and fast, but this was better. “Please,” Draco begged, “I want you.” Harry hadn’t fucked him in seven years, and Draco needed him now.

Harry lined himself up and Draco gasped again as Harry breached him. Draco’s breath caught in his throat and thankfully Harry paused halfway in to give Draco a moment to get used to it.

“Can I-” Harry said, and Draco nodded. “Fuck, Draco,” he murmured, running his hands up and down Draco’s back. Draco shivered at the touch. “Forgot how good this felt.”

Draco nodded again, his head buried in the crook of Harry’s neck. “Move.”

“Impatient,” Harry teased, as he started to move his hips.

Harry thrust in again, deep and hard, and Draco arched his back, driving his hips down to meet Harry’s thrusts, Harry’s hands gripping him tight to keep their balance. They kissed messily, all clashing teeth and desperate tongues. Harry groaned, deep and low, fingers digging into Draco’s hips, and Draco wrapped his around his own cock and began to wank himself off to the rhythm of Harry’s thrusts.

“You are,” Harry panted, “the hottest thing,” Draco let out a particularly loud moan as Harry brushed his prostate, “I’ve ever seen.”

“Back at you,” Draco managed to get out between moans as Harry continued to drive his hips home, hitting that sweet spot over and over again.

Draco could feel his orgasm getting closer, creeping up his spine and making his whole body tingle. Then Harry gave a particularly vigorous thrust and Draco came with a shout of Harry’s name. It seemed to tip Harry over the edge, and he came too, hips jerking and head thrown back in ectascy.

Draco moaned as Harry pulled out and rested his head against Draco’s chest, both of them panting. “We’re not waiting seven years to do that again,” Harry said firmly, and Draco laughed, tilting Harry’s chin up so he could kiss him.

“100 percent,” Draco promised, kicking Harry’s arse softly with his foot. “Now clean me off, I’m sticky as fuck.”

Harry let out a huff of laughter and waved his hand. Draco welcomed the cleaning spell, but he’d still need a shower when Harry left.

Easing himself off the counter Draco pulled his clothes back on, scowling when he spotted he was correct, and a couple of his buttons were broken. Harry managed to look sheepish.

“So, I suppose I should be off?” Harry asked, looking for everything like he wanted Draco to tell him to stay.

Draco nodded. “Yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Harry’s nose wrinkled and for a moment Draco thought Harry was going to fight him, but luckily Harry just nodded. “Okay, try to sleep?” Harry said, leaning in and kissing Draco softly.

Draco nodded back because he couldn’t promise anything. He’d barely slept a wink last night.

“How nauseating.”

Draco turned to find Pansy leaning against the door frame, two bottles of what he knew would be expensive wine in her hands. This was her apology for Astoria. Draco wasn’t really angry at her, and he knew she’d done what she thought was right. And if he were being honest, he probably could have written Astoria a better letter.

“Also, it fucking stinks in here, boys,” Pansy tutted, waving her wand and causing the smell of fresh sea breeze to waft through the kitchen.

“How long have you been there?” Harry frowned.

“Don’t worry, I didn’t watch you two shag,” Pansy drawled, rolling her eyes and sauntering into the kitchen. She grabbed herself a glass of wine. “No need to get your knickers in a twist, Potty.”

Draco smirked. “Play nice, Pans.” Pansy grinned at him.

Harry dragged a hand through his hair, which just made it stand up more on end. “Well, I’ll see you both.” He gave Pansy an awkward two fingered salute, and smiled softly at Draco before wandering out of the kitchen.

“So, I take it from the way he was walking with no problem, that you took it?” Pansy asked, raising her eyebrow and leering at Draco.

“Oh, fuck off,” Draco huffed. “And give me that,” he said, grabbing Pansy’s bottle of wine and reaching for his glass. He’d save his own bottle for later.

Draco was glad Pansy had come around. She was one of his closest friends and probably always would be.

He was especially glad she was there when, after not being able to sleep for a couple of hours, he stumbled into Scorpius’s room and she found him crying hysterically, curled up on Scorpius’s bed and clutching Scorpius’s teddy bear like it was his life line. Pansy said nothing and just slipped into the bed, curling up and spooning him, stroking his hair until the sun rose and Draco got up for work.

Scorpius had never been able to sleep without his teddy bear. Draco wondered if Scorpius was sleeping now or, if he was just as plagued by nightmares as Draco was.

***

“What do you mean that he still isn’t fucking in?” Draco growled, glowering up at Romilda.

He wasn’t sure why he still bothered glaring at Romilda, since all she did was stare evenly back at him. However, he was tired, having barely slept a wink since Sunday night.

“Exactly what I said, he’s still off sick,” Romilda said.

She looked nice today, an absent piece of Draco’s mind noted. “Why is he still off sick?” Draco asked, settling for scowling.

Romilda raised her eyebrows at him, and Draco stared back at her. He knew it was a fucking stupid question.

“I hate Gryffindors.”

“I was in Gryffindor?”

“Point and case.”

“Harry was in Gryffindor,” Romilda said.

“More evidence of my hatred for Gryffindors,” Draco replied, ignoring the way she somehow managed to raise her eyebrow even higher. She had fantastic brows.

“You’ve been spending a lot of time with him.”

Draco glared at her again, and it once again proved useless, so he flipped open one of the files on Robyn’s research as an Unspeakable instead.

“I have eyes, you know,” Romilda said. “Harry’s handsome.”

“Yes, I know you think that, seeing as I distinctly remember you trying to drug him in sixth year. Shame you only got Weasley.” Draco regretted it as soon as the words were out of his mouth. He hadn’t meant to say that, and  he didn’t know why he had.

Romilda let out a soft breath. Draco flipped through the pages of the research, not able to bring himself to raise his head and meet Romilda’s eyes. “Draco,” she said finally. Draco still didn’t look at her. “Draco, I know you’re hurting.”

Hurting. Hurting didn’t begin to describe the pain Draco was enduring. Scorpius had been missing for three fucking days. Seventy-two hours. Draco couldn’t think about the horrors that Scorpius was facing, about what was being done to him.

“But don’t treat me like that, and don’t shut me out,” Romilda continued. “I think you and Harry are good for each other, and I’m glad you have him during this time.”

Draco wished he didn’t have Harry. Draco wished he was the kind of person who was strong enough to push Harry away, but he couldn’t. It was Scorpius who had made Draco strong, and now he was gone.

Draco’s eyes flickered over the research, rereading the same sentence when he froze.

“How long has James been off sick?” he asked, digging through the files and pulling up James’s research.

“He called in sick Sunday night,” Romilda replied, stepping forward. “Why?”

“Call Harry! Tell him to get his Aurors over to James’s house!” Draco said, scrambling to his feet, eyes wide and frantic. “Actually, fuck that. Get Harry here now and tell him to be ready to make an arrest of a potentially dangerous criminal.”

“Draco, what is going on!?” Romilda said, grabbing his arm, her brown eyes filled with fear.

“Ezra James is a member of the Natural Order,” Draco said, his breath coming out short as anger burnt through him, igniting every part of him. “James is the fucking rat Farrant told us about, which means that bastard took my son.” Romilda’s jaw tightened. “Call Harry,” Draco commanded.

Romilda turned head and ran out of the door. Draco heard her voice as she called Harry’s secretary.

Draco stared down, comparing Robyn’s notes and James’s and reading the similarities. There was no way he was wrong.

James talked of external research and cited facts and figures but no experiments, no ways of actually achieving what he propositioned raw magic could do. James seemed to reckon the possibilities were endless.

Robyn’s research proposed these experiments and what they could cure. Draco had only managed to access them this morning after badgering Croaker for two days straight. They had been locked away before, as the Ministry hadn’t wanted to risk any more Robyn Graveses spawning and getting ideas too dangerous to control. It turned out that Robyn’s work had turned dark long before she’d quit, most likely due to killing her daughter. The Ministry had tried to ignore it because of how bright she was. Draco wasn’t surprised by that at all. He wished he was, but he wasn’t.

Fixing Squibs. Using a couple of drops of children’s blood in certain potions to strengthen it. Channeling the children’s magic using ancient rituals whie casting warding spells. Making wizards powerful enough that they could come out of hiding. All at the expense of a few children. Robyn favoured pure-bloods or half-bloods, as long as they had been encouraged to use their magic as they grew up. The more children were encouraged to let their magic flow free, the more raw magic they had to channel.

Draco was going to kill them all. He was going to show James exactly what you learnt as Head of the Dark Magic Study.

“Draco?” Harry burst through the door, his Auror robes unbuttoned and his wand shoved haphazardly into his holster—also undone.

“It’s James! He’s the fucking snitch!” Draco said, shoving the two documents into Harry’s face. Harry’s eyes flew across the pages, his mouth thinning and his jaw hardening with every word he read.

“Merlin, Jesus, fucking Christ,” Harry swore, throwing the papers back onto Draco’s desk. “He is, isn’t he?”

“He’s been off sick since Sunday night,” Draco said. “We need to go to his house now.”

“Has anyone heard from him since Sunday?” Harry asked, sliding into Auror mode.

“All communication has been through his secretary,” Romilda said, marching back into the room. “James hasn’t had any direct contact with the Ministry since he clocked out Friday.”

“When he would have known they were going to take Scorpius,” Harry said before swearing loudly again.

Draco shook his head. “They would have most likely known before then.”

Harry turned to Romilda, his face grim. “Call Ron and Robards, let them know where we’ve gone.”

Romilda handed a piece of paper to Draco. “His home residence.”

Draco nodded, passing it over to Harry and grabbing a handful of floo powder. “You ready?”

“Ready.” The look on Harry’s face was haunting. Draco sometimes forgot the man who kissed him so softly was the same man who had defeated Voldemort at seventeen. Harry was one of the most powerful wizards in the world, and Draco would be a fool to forget that.

Draco threw the powder into the floo and called out James’s residence. The floo wasn’t warded against them, and Draco knew before he stepped out into the house that he would find it empty. Harry appeared beside him a moment later, wand out.

“James?” Draco said, pulling his own wand out.

“Unspeakable James, if you hand yourself over now and without a fight you may receive a lighter sentence,” Harry said. Draco knew Harry had to say it as an Auror, but the look on his face did not support what he was saying.

“James!” Draco shouted, but he knew it was hopeless and that James was long gone.

Weasley and his team, Dash, and Dahlia tumbled through the floo just as Harry and Draco had finished sweeping James’s house.

It didn’t matter how far or fast James ran though, because Draco was going to hunt him down. Draco was going to hunt him down and make him pay for his involvement in Scorpius’s pain. Draco was going to hunt them all down. They were all going to pay.

Chapter Text

“I cannot believe the audacity of that piece of shit,” Draco snapped as he marched up and down the meeting room. His shoes hit the floor with enough force that Harry half wondered if they were going to wear through the carpet before the rest of the attendees arrived.

Harry cast a glance at Ron who was biting at his thumb, an old nervous habit of his. Harry knew Ron’s tells better than his own after all these years.

Draco was still pacing out of the corner of Harry’s eyes. He had been pacing since they had arrived back at the Ministry and Martha had shooed them upstairs to meeting room one. The fact they were in meeting room one set Harry on edge, since it meant the Minister herself was going to be present and Harry didn’t want to deal with that.

Harry leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and dragging his hands through his hair. His eyes watching as Draco marched backwards and forwards, his fingers still gripped so tightly around his wand that it looked like it could snap.

Draco had tried to insist the Wraiths or at least a Wraith be present for this meeting, but Martha had cooly replied that the Wraiths were not present on the list she had been sent by the Minister. Draco had looked like he was going to throw a fit, but Martha had stared at him until he subsided.

Harry’s secretary was a terrifying woman and Harry loved her despite it—or perhaps because of it.

“To sit there and criticise me for my mark, and the mistakes I made when I was sixteen when he was here, working with The Natural Fucking Order,” Draco continued, his black robes swirling around him. Harry was struck with an extremely uncomfortable reminder of Snape and quickly pushed that thought from his mind. Comparisons between his old potions teacher and the man he was shagging could fuck off, thank you very much.

“I always knew he was a twat. Fucking Gryffindors,” Draco swore.

“Oi,” Ron muttered, but judging from the way Draco continued pacing he either didn’t hear or had chosen to ignore him.

Harry glanced at his watch and groaned under his breath. He didn’t want to be sitting in a stuffy room waiting to speak with his superiors. He wanted to be out doing something useful, and nothing was going to be sorted in this stuffy fucking room with its off-grey walls, harsh blue plastic chairs, and the bleak cactus sat on the window ledge.

Harry never found any of the windows in the Ministry comforting. He couldn’t forget that they were really underground at all times, and that the soft November sun drifting through the window was fake.

An idle part of his mind wondered who had been supposed to water the cactus. Seamus and Dean’s house was filled with plants, and Dean had named them all. Did this cactus have a name? Had anyone realised it was dead?

“I am going to tear the skin from his body,” Draco continued, jogging Harry from his cactus consideration. “I know just the spell to do so.”

“As thrilled as I am, Unspeakable Malfoy, to know that our Head of the Dark Arts is such an…” Harry spun around, jumping to his feet at the sound of the Minister’s voice. “An expert,” The Minister settled on, raising an eyebrow at Draco.

Victoria Arnold was the Minister of Magic who had stepped into office after Kingsley had stepped down. It was a new requirement that had passed after the atrocity that was Fudge that now the Minister could be in power longer than three years without a re-election being held. Seven years was far too long a term. Kingsley had run until a couple of years ago when he had retired and taken over as the Head of the Magical Law department. Arnold was a Muggleborn who had trounced her pure-blood opposition.

With her stern face and kind eyes there was something about Arnold that had always reminded Harry of Minerva and Hermione.

Harry needed to call Minerva, he remembered. He owed her a catch up.

Draco stopped pacing as he gazed mulishly at the Minister. Harry caught sight of Croaker giving Draco a firm look, and Draco relented slowly, sliding down into his chair.

“Do sit down, Potter,” Arnold said, and Harry gave her a polite smile before taking his seat.

He liked Arnold and respected her immensely, but Harry couldn’t help but feel like he was about to be told off whenever he spoke to her. Harry wasn’t quite sure it was completely warranted. He knew he had tendency to be unorthodox… but it worked…

Arnold swept in and took her seat at the head of the table, Kingsley and Croaker flanking her. Robards settled in next to Harry and gave him a grave look.

Harry imagined how it looked. Here was Ron, Draco, and himself about to sit down and tell four of the most important people in the Ministry that a high-up official, an Unspeakable, had been working for The Natural Order.

The Natural Order terrified Harry, the way they had lain in wait for decades. Voldemort and Death Eaters had taken what they wanted, when they wanted and had been pretty fucking up front about their aim. Harry still wasn’t sure what The Natural Order wanted. What they hoped to gain from it all.

“Junior Auror Potter,” Arnold began, crossing her arms in front of her and giving Harry a firm look. Harry felt like her blue eyes were stripping him open and he found himself wanting to apologise for every little mistake he had ever made. Like the fact he had a tendency to nick the Ministry pens. Having a Minister who was also a Legilimens was terrifying. “Can you please enlighten me as to what has occured this afternoon?”

Harry managed to refrain from owning up to his pen thievery and cleared his throat. “We’ve discovered—Dray—Unspeakable Malfoy discovered,” Harry said, trying to pretend he couldn’t feel Ron and Robards’s eyes on him. Burning into him and analysing his slip up. “Evidence that suggests that Unspeakable James has been working with The Natural Order this whole time.”

“This is a serious accusation, Potter,” Croaker said as if Harry hadn’t just quite clearly pointed out that it had been Draco who made the discovery.

“Junior Auror,” Robards corrected, giving Croaker a firm look. Harry bit his lip and ducked his head, and he could see Ron trying not to snicker out of the corner of his eye. It was no secret that the Head Auror resented the Head of the Unspeakables. Croaker always had been a pain in the arse to the Aurors.

“Junior Auror Potter,” Croaker said, sending Robards a smile hard enough to cut diamonds, “what evidence do you have against Unspeakable James?” He turned his smile on Harry this time and Harry stared back at him evenly. “Enough to warrant ordering a raid on his house without alerting your superiors? Because correct me if I’m wrong, but Junior Aurors aren’t allowed to issue warrants for raids without alerting a Senior Auror?”

Robards spluttered and clenched his fists, and Harry had a feeling he was going to be prompted to a Senior Auror the second they walked out of the door.

“Are you suggesting you don’t believe us?” Ron piped up, staring at Croaker. “Because if you look at Harry’s track record, he’s got pretty stellar judgement at this kind of thing.”

Harry shot Ron a small grin before continuing. “I think Unspeakable Malfoy can explain it better than me seeing as he is the one who managed to make the connection.”

Harry gave Draco a small smile, but Draco ignored him. Harry swallowed and turned back to the meeting. He needed to focus and remember that he and Draco were meant to be keeping whatever was going on between them under wraps. They couldn’t go public with it, certainly not with this case ongoing.

And even if the case ended what would happen then? Draco’s focus would be on Scorpius, and there would be the public reaction. Harry didn’t care what they said, not really, but the blow up if Harry went public dating Draco Malfoy … Harry hated the press prying into his life and they’d never leave him alone.

“So, the conclusions I drew were from looking at both Robyn Graves’s and Unspeakable James’s work. The similarities are impossible to ignore, despite the fact that Graves’s research was supposed to be locked away,” Draco said, folding his hands on the table.

Croaker’s mouth twitched. “Unspeakable James and Robyn Graves worked closely together as colleagues. Graves was always particularly interested in the raw magic that young wizards possess, and so of course she would have spoken to James.”

Draco blinked once and then again as if he couldn’t believe that Croaker was trying to defend James. Harry imagined it was because Croaker didn’t want to admit he had had a member of the Natural Order working under his nose.

“Then there’s the fact he’s been missing since the weekend Scorpius was taken, but of course that’s not sketchy in the slightest,” Harry said, glaring at Croaker.

Ron tried to hide his laugh by turning it into a cough.

“It’s not enough evidence for us to open up a worldwide manhunt on a respected Unspeakable,” Croaker said, his voice even, but Harry could see the vein in his head pulsing.

“There is more than enough evidence if you ask me,” Harry said, unable to keep his own tone controlled.

“I—” Croaker started.

“I would also like to take this moment to remind you that while you, of course, are a valuable asset to this meeting,” Robards voice trembled with the effort to keep out his irritation, “you are also not a trained Auror.”

“Gentlemen,” Arnold said, “this is not a pissing contest.” She glared at them all, and they all ducked their heads aside from Kingsley, who was smiling.

Harry had remembered how worried Kingsley had been about his successor when he had first thought of stepping down. Kingsley had nothing to fear with Arnold.

“I personally am inclined to trust Weasley and Potter,” Arnold went on. Harry noticed the way Draco’s mouth tightened again as he was overlooked. “I understand, Saul, that you have the desire to prove that your department hasn’t made a rather large failure in allowing Ezra James to partake in the Natural Order while posing here as the,” she paused and glanced around the room, “what was Ezra James’s exact position again?”

“Unspeakable James worked in the Magical Study Department, which is Unspeakable Croaker’s specialty, Minister,” Draco said, his face composed. Harry had a feeling he was reveling in dropping Croaker in the shit after Croaker’s stunt just now. “James’s specialty was children’s magic, and so he was involved with us on the case.”

“And none of you suspected his allegiance?” Arnold sighed. Harry presumed it was rhetorical because obviously fucking not. “Well then,” Arnold said, snapping her fingers so the parchment stopped taking notes and landed in front of her. “How are we going to find him?”

***

“I’m not going to figure this out any faster with you breathing in my ear, you know,” Dahlia grumbled, snapping her fingers in Draco’s face.

Draco stepped back and let Cho lean over, whispering a stabilising spell as Dahlia continued to pick at the delicate threads of magic that held together the device.

It had been found on Scorpius’s clothes. They had got lucky that The Natural Order hadn’t implemented self-destructing elements into the trackers before taking Scorpius.

Draco imagined they were working on it, but taking the next child had been too important to wait. Draco knew they were facing the best of the best with The Natural Order, and all he could hope for was that they had underestimated Dahlia Wraith.

People tended to do that. She was brash and she couldn’t keep still. She didn’t have Dash’s blatant brilliance, but hers was there just bubbling below the surface.

Dahlia had yet to meet a puzzle she couldn’t solve.

Draco adjusted the goggles and leaned in closer, watching the different spells untangle each other.

It was beautiful in a twisted way. The way the magic had been bound together and merged with Muggle technology. These people were geniuses.

“Have you—” Draco started before Dahlia hushed him.

“You’re going to ask something irritating.”

“I was going to ask if—”

“If I had managed to find a way to overcome the magic controlling the device, and reverse the technology so we could not only track the wand that created it, but use it to track where Scorpius is now because it is fine-tuned to his magic, and thus I should and will be able to do so,” Dahlia paused from her rant to glance up at Draco, her expression softening. “I am doing everything I can to find him.”

Draco swallowed, adjusting his cuffs. “I know.” He did know, he knew that Dahlia had barely slept since Scorpius had been taken. He knew she was blaming herself for not being able to crack The Natural Order’s technology, and Draco knew it wasn’t her fault.

However, he couldn’t help that feel it wasn’t enough. How could it ever be enough? Nothing would be enough until Scorpius was back home with Draco.

Even then…

“I can show you what we’ve discovered about the wand that was created if you’d like?” Cho said, snapping Draco from his thoughts.

He tapped his fingers against his leg and took a breath. He couldn’t let himself fall down that rabbit hole. It was too dangerous. Too destructive. It would help no one.

“Yes, please,” Draco said.

Cho smiled at him before leading him away from Dahlia over to a counter. The counter was covered in paper that was filled with Dahlia’s messy scrawl, but Cho shifted those to the side and picked up a set of neatly printed notes. They worked well together, and when this was all done Draco was seriously going to think about pinching Cho for his Department.

The Unspeakables paid better than the Aurors.

Cho spread her notes out. “What we managed to get from the device found on Scorpius’s clothes was that it was once again made with a wand that was made of walnut, however, this time it seemed to contain Veela heartstring—”

“Heartstring?!” Draco spluttered.

Cho nodded. “Yes, we haven’t been able to figure out if they’re being taken from an alive Veela or a dead one yet, but I’ll get onto that in a moment. So, the conclusion we’re drawing with these wands is that they are trying to master the properties of Veela charm.”

“Veela charm?” Draco sighed, massaging his temples.

“Yes,” Cho laughed softly. “Veelas are known for their charm,” Draco raised his eyebrows because he knew that much, but Cho just gave him a firm look before continuing. “And because of this, if the wand can channel this charm, multiple different threads of magic can be charmed into working together. This would be especially useful when working with volatile magic, which we suspect they are.”

“So the wand can convince the magic to bend to its will?” Draco said.

Cho nodded. “Yep, but like with the werewolf wands, we imagine that they’re going to need something to counteract the Veela core.”

“Veela is a common core, isn’t it?”

“More common than werewolf, that’s for sure, but it’s still not common, per se,” Cho pointed at her notes, and Draco let his eyes skim over the facts, figures, and diagrams as she spoke. “Veela is known for being temperamental —  veelas, after all, are not just pretty girls swanning about. They can be very dangerous and are easy to anger. Also, when angered the Veela transforms, and it’s unknown if perhaps the hair inside the wand transforms as well.

“The possible transformations could occur when the wand itself is angry or when the wand owner is angry, and neither is an ideal option. However, a third option is if these heartstrings are being taken from a living Veela, then the heartstring could still be connected to the Veela’s emotions, and could be reacting to the emotions of that Veela. This would make the wands even more dangerous than we initially thought, and would require again the benevolent force of children’s magic to overcome it.”

Draco turned to steady himself against the counter. “So once again it’s bigger than what we thought?”

He glanced over his shoulder at Cho, who was tracing the facts and figures of her notes. She looked up at him, chewing on her lip. “I’m starting to worry we haven’t even scratched the surface.”

They hadn’t even scratched the surface because for all their work at figuring out where these children were and how these weapons The Natural Order were creating worked, they still had no idea why any of this was happening. The children were being taken for their magic, to push the boundaries of what the wizarding world knew about magic… but why? Was it purely a quest for knowledge?

“Help, please,” Dahlia called, spurring Draco into action as he drew his wand and hurried over, letting her boss him about.

***

“So, how far can you reach?” Harry said, gesturing to his head, “you know, before you can’t reach someone’s thoughts.”

Dash glanced up from where he was sprawled out on the floor. “Don’t know.”

Harry was continually balled over by how blasé Dash could be about his own Legilimency.

“Through a wall?” Ron asked, frowning. “Like if I was outside could you hear what I was thinking.”

“Without any effort on my part?”

“Yeah.”

Dash hummed, pulling himself up so he was sat, arms resting atop his knees as he looked at Ron. “You’re pretty loud so I’d be able to get your thoughts easily.”

“Whatcha mean I’m loud?” Ron said, frown growing deeper. Harry grinned, bending down to tighten his shoelace. He was itching for a good fight, so he had been thrilled when Ron had suggested they head down to the training rooms with Dash after that meeting with the Minister.

Robards had cornered him afterwards, spouting off about facts and figures and about promoting Harry to a Senior Auror. Harry didn’t want to be a Senior Auror.

He didn’t want to spend even more time behind a desk pushing paper and solving clues. He liked being out in the field, an it was what he was best at.

Arnold had given the idea for Harry to become a Senior Auror her blessing, she had encouraged it even. She had also insisted that Harry and Ron had a meeting with Zachariah Smith and organise a publicity event to put the public’s minds at ease.

They had to assure everyone that the Ministry could be trusted, they had managed to find Hektor Fawley, and they were making progress on the case.

“We need you to put your Saviour hat back on,” Kingsley had said, but Harry wasn’t sure if he had ever taken it off. If he would ever be able to take it off.

Dash laughed, his blue hair falling over his eyes. “I’m coming up with a theory that it’s Gryffindors, you’re all so powered by your emotions that you can’t seem to keep them quiet, they just slip through the cracks.”

“Did you ever get anything from James?” Harry asked.

Dash’s face twitched, and he lay back down on the floor. “No, I never got anything leaking through the cracks,” Dash sighed. He looked as if he blamed himself, and Harry instantly regretted asking the question. “James might be a Gryffindor but he’s also a trained Unspeakable and a member of The Natural Order. I’d be able to get into his head but I can’t just get his thoughts. It would take work.”

“So it’s unlikely you’d be able to pick up any of the Order’s thoughts without being directly in the room?” Ron asked.

“Unlikely,” Dash said, still staring at the ceiling.

“Fuck, that’s that idea out of the window,” Ron groaned, dropping to a crouch and tapping his wand against the floor. “Guess we’re just going to put you in the thick of it.” Red sparks shot out of his wand and Ron stopped, pulling a panicked face.

Harry grinned. He was so glad that Robards had brought Ron onto the case with him. He always felt most comfortable when he was working side-by-side with Ron. After all these years they barely had to speak sometimes to know what the other was thinking. Whether in the field or working through clues, Harry just felt more self-assured when Ron was with him.

It had irritated him that the others — Kingsley, Robards, and Arnold — had pushed Harry for Senior Auror and not Ron. Of the two of them, Ron was the one who actually would suit the job. Ron was the chess player, the puzzle solver. He could see patterns in things that left Harry stumped. He was tactical, analytical, and an overall fantastic Auror. He also didn’t find the job as draining as Harry did.

Harry knew they were pushing him for Head Auror one day. The perfect image of the Saviour standing firm behind the Ministry, eventually leading the Ministry. Harry had never seen his life being like this, though admittedly he hadn’t thought he would live to this age but still… He had only seen the glamour of being an Auror, fighting bad guys.

Harry didn’t want to be the Ministry’s puppet. He used to refuse to stand for the Ministry telling the wizarding world everything was okay when it wasn’t. Harry just had the feeling that this went deeper than the missing children, that managing to find all the children wouldn’t leave this case closed with a neat bow. The Natural Order had infiltrated the wizarding world. They had been lying in wait for years, and they were not going to be eradicated easily.

“Harry, I’m going to need you to let me hex you,” Ron’s voice shattered Harry’s thoughts.

Harry glanced over at his mate and laughed. “Yeah, sure.” Maybe a good hexing would kick Harry’s brain back into gear. Help him figure out what he wanted, what he was supposed to do.

“I thought Senior Aurors were able to not have their arses handed to them?”

Harry groaned, rubbing his back as he picked himself back off the floor for the nth time in the last forty minutes. He was going to need a long, hot bath when he got home. Maybe a bubble bath, treat himself.

“Not a Senior Auror yet,” Harry grumbled, slowly getting back to his feet and ignoring Ron’s amused looks. Harry hadn’t noticed Draco come in, and if he knew his best friend — which he did — that was why Harry had received a particularly nasty hex to the chest.

Ron had set Harry up in a duel against him, but had had Dash monitoring both of their heads, telling Ron what spells Harry was going to use, and deflecting Harry’s mind to give Ron the advantage.

Yet ,” Draco smirked, leaning against the gymnasium wall and turning his gaze over to Ron, who was wiping the sweat from his brow. “How’s it going?”

Harry huffed at being overlooked, but let it slide. He wanted Ron and Draco to like each other, and the training had been Ron’s idea.

“Decently enough,” Ron said. “Dash can work with two minds at once but starts to struggle when the duel speeds up. Then there’s the fact that there will be multiple duels occuring at once, and Dash will be defending himself.”

“Yes, I’d rather we didn’t have a return trip to the hospital,” Draco drawled, and Dash just flipped him off. Harry could see the concern in Draco’s face, though. Draco was already risking losing his son, and Harry didn’t want to know what Draco would do if he lost one of his team as well. “That goes for you too, Harry.”

“I’ll do my best,” Harry said, touched that he was included in the list of people whom Draco didn’t want to see in the hospital. They had come a long way from hospitalising each other.

Ron snorted. “I’ve heard that one before.”

Harry flipped Ron off lazily. “Are we done? Because I think you may have bruised every part of my body.”

Ron flicked a Stinging Hex Harry’s way, but without Dash meddling in his head, Harry deflected it easily and managed to hit Ron with his own Stinging Hex.

“Fucking bastard,” Ron grumbled, rubbing his side. “And yes, we’re done. I’m going to take a shower. Got pretty sweaty kicking your arse,” he laughed, and dodged out of the way of Harry’s second Stinging Hex.

“You were meant to kick my arse!” Harry yelled after him, and Ron’s laugh was the only response.

“You’re a pretty shitty Chosen One, you know.”

Harry turned back around, pulling his shirt up to wipe the sweat from his face. He grinned as he managed to catch Draco’s appreciative expression before he smoothed it away. “Fuck you.”

“Wouldn’t—”

A loud cough sounded, and both Harry and Draco spun around to where Dash was still lying on the floor where he’d collapsed after the training session. “I would really rather not have to listen to my Heads exchange sexy talk if you don’t mind.”

“We weren’t!” Draco said quickly.

Harry ducked his head, biting his lip to stop himself from snorting as Draco glared at him.

Dash slowly got to his feet, grinning at them both. “Whatever, I’m going to leave so you can enjoy yourselves.”

“Dash!” Draco scolded, his pale cheeks pink. “Tell him, Harry!”

“We weren’t,” Harry nodded, laughing as Dash winked at him before sauntering out of the training room. “So apart from laughing at me and scarring Dash, is there a reason why you’re here?”

“Is laughing at you not enough?” Draco said, smiling for a moment before sighing and sliding down to the floor, leaning his head against the wall. “I was just with Dahlia and Cho, and we were talking about The Natural Order, and it got a bit much and I…” Draco trailed off.

Harry didn’t say anything, knowing Draco would speak when he was ready. Harry cast a quick cleaning spell on himself so he wouldn’t smell and went over and sat down beside Draco, their thighs pressed together.

“I don’t know, but I wanted your company,” Draco said eventually. Harry nodded, reaching out and entwining their hands. It was risky and stupid for them to sit here like this in the Ministry, so publicly and blatant about their feelings for each other, but right now Draco needed him, so Harry wasn’t going anywhere.

“I keep telling myself that all I’ve got to do is get Scorpius back and it’s over,” Draco said, rubbing his thumb across against Harry’s skin softly. “That this will all be over and life will return to normal, but it’s never going to return to normal. The horrors that he’s faced, the things they’re putting him through,” Draco’s voice trembled. Harry glanced at Draco, but Draco kept staring at the room. “The son I knew won’t be the one that comes home to me. They’re breaking him as I speak. My son, my child, my—” Draco swallowed and brought his hand up to wipe at his eyes. “He’s my everything, and what if I can’t put him back together again?”

“Then you love him anyway,” Harry said because he didn’t know what else to say.

“Of course, I’ll love him,” Draco snapped. “I would do anything for him,” his breath caught. “I just don’t want him to be hurt. I want him to be happy. I didn’t want him to ever feel fear like I did because of Voldemort. He was supposed to be happy.”

Harry wrapped an arm around Draco, his mind suddenly flashing with images of his parents’ deaths, of Vernon’s harsh slaps and harsher words, of fighting Voldemort year after year, losing Sirius, losing Remus, losing Fred, and all else he had lost in his life. “I think he’ll be okay,” Harry whispered.

“How can you say that?”

Harry leaned his head on Draco’s shoulder, breathing in his scent. “Because sometimes all we can do is hope.”

“Did Dumbledore say that?” Draco scoffed.

Harry let out a small huff of laughter, pulling Draco tighter against him, relieved when Draco didn’t protest. “No, I did.”

***

Draco sighed as he flicked through another interview with another family member who claimed to have had no idea about what was going on. Then there were the interviews with the two wizards — Miles and Green — that Robards had recognised from Farrant’s memories who were sat in the holding cells babbling away and contradicting each other. Dash had searched their heads and both wizards believed they were telling the truth.

Dash believed the memories to be altered, but he wasn’t certain.

Harry huffed as he chucked a stack of paper onto the floor. Harry had been huffing and puffing over at his desk since he had returned from his meeting with Smith. He had stormed into the room, slammed the door behind him, and bitten Boot’s head off when Boot had tried to ask what was wrong.

Dash had slipped into Draco’s head to ask if he should find out what was wrong and Draco had had to remind Dash again that that wasn’t acceptable. Draco didn’t feel Harry would understand that Dash was trying to be supportive.

Boot had put up a Silencing Charm around Harry’s desk but that had worn off just after Boot had gone home, filling his bags with enough files that Draco was sure there was an Extension Charm on it.

It was just Draco, Harry, and Dash left now, and Dash was asleep on his desk, snoring softly waiting for Dahlia to come from the lab to collect him .

As Draco watched, Dash buried his head further into his arms. Draco smiled; Dash looked so young now, sometimes it was hard to remember that he was so powerful.

Harry let out a particularly loud groan and Draco decided that he had had quite enough, thank you very much.

“I think that’s it for the day,” Draco announced, dropping a file onto the desk with enough force to wake Dash from his slumber and to stop Harry mid-grumble. “I’m not getting anything done with you complaining and you snoring, so I’m going to take my files home and read.” He glared at Harry and Dash, trying not to smile when they gave him equally abashed looks, “And you two should do the same.”

“And how do you expect me to get Dahlia out of her lab exactly?” Dash asked, already packing up his stuff with a flick of his wand and throwing his robes and hat back on.

Draco laughed. “I’m sure you’ll think of something.”

Dash shot him a crooked grin before giving Harry a two-fingered salute and hurrying from the incident room.

Draco turned to study the files on his desk, trying to decide what would be best to bring home. He could keep working through the interviews trying to pinpoint the exact location of the underground base. That was the one thing they were certain of, The Natural Order were definitely based underground. The sprawling laboratories and twisting, turning corridors they had managed to extract from Farrant and the other two wizard’s memories corroborated that.

Draco glanced once more at Robyn Graves’s husband’s face, his earnest pleading gaze in his mugshot. Dash hadn’t been able to discern anything from his thoughts. It looked like he truly hadn’t known anything but… but something just didn’t sit right with Draco.

“Come back to mine.”

Draco turned slowly to see Harry waiting by the door, his Auror robes undone, which let Draco appreciate his tight-fitted shirt. Harry gave him a small smile and Draco raised his eyebrow.

“Are you done huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Werewolf?”

Harry shrugged. “Smith’s a dick, and my body aches from being taken out by Ron all day. I need a way to blow off steam.”

Draco’s back stiffened and he turned away from Harry, choosing to finish packing his bag instead. “I thought we’d moved past being a booty call.”

He heard Harry sigh, and then Harry’s strong arms were around him, and Harry pressed a soft kiss to the back of Draco’s neck. Draco let his eyes flutter shut enjoying the sensation.

“You know that’s not what I meant. I want a bubble bath and I want your company,” Harry murmured, his lips moving against Draco’s skin, and his hand coming to rest on Draco’s hip. “You know you’re not a booty call anymore.”

Draco couldn’t help but be chuffed, but he didn’t want to give in straight away. He wanted to keep up the illusion for a bit longer that he was going to resist. In fact, he had hated not sleeping with Harry last night, he just slept so much worse by himself — at least in Harry’s arms, he got a few hours of sleep. He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about James, and lying there in his silent house didn’t help.

“I need to do more reading,” Draco said.

“We can read together in the bath,” Harry said, pulling back and letting Draco turn around to face him.

“How big is your bath?”

Harry winked, “It’s big enough.” Draco couldn’t help but laugh at Harry’s ridiculousness. He wasn’t sure at what point it had moved from irritating to endearing. “Please?” He ran his hand down Draco’s arm.

“We need to be more careful about all this, think what could happen if we get caught,” Draco sighed.

“We won’t,” Harry said firmly, and Draco could tell from Harry’s smile that he knew Draco had caved.

“Harry…” Draco started; He was a fool for going along with this. It wasn’t Harry Potter, Saviour of the wizarding world, youngest Junior Auror ever, and future Head Auror who would burn if this came out. They would use the fact Draco was two ranks above Harry, they would use Draco’s past against him. He was being an idiot. What would happen to Dash and Dahlia without him? He didn’t always like his job, but he knew it was the only reason he hadn’t been thrown in Azkaban.

“We’ll be fine,” Harry promised, pulling Draco in for a kiss, and as Harry kissed him, Draco let his worries melt away… for the time being anyway.

***

Casting a glance around Harry’s bathroom, Draco couldn’t help but smile. It reminded him of his mother’s prize bathroom in the Manor.

“You weren’t joking about it being big enough for us both,” Draco remarked, taking in the huge bath in the centre of the room. “Harry, this isn’t a bath, it’s a small pool.”

Harry grinned. “I know, it’s cool right?”

Draco hummed in agreement, trying not to show how impressed he was. He had severely underestimated Grimmauld Place, which he supposed was foolish of him. It had been the Blacks’ house after all.

“So,” Harry started, pulling Draco into his arms. Draco laughed, rolling his eyes at how tactile Harry was, a world away from the man Harry had been when they started this case. Then Harry had burned hot but with hatred, not with whatever was between them now. “Are you getting into the bath or are you going to stand there and admire it all night?”

“I could say the same to you,” Draco said.

Harry laughed, stepping back and unbuttoning the top few buttons of his shirt and pulling it over his head.

“Heathen,” Draco said, letting his eyes roam over Harry’s toned, tanned chest. His eyes slid lower, drinking in the sight as Harry slowly undid his trousers, pulling them down and giving Draco the delightful sight of his muscled thighs and the smattering of dark hair on them. Harry was a walking wet dream.

When Draco finally managed to meet Harry’s eyes again, Harry was smirking at him. “Something you like?”

“It’s not too bad,” Draco said, reaching out for Harry, who stepped back, grinning.

“You are wearing too many clothes,” Harry said.

Draco swallowed as he slowly started to unbutton his shirt. Harry’s expression made him feel like he were walking on air. There was something about that burning, green gaze that made Draco feel invincible.

“I’m still doing my reading in the bath,” Draco said, grasping at straws to stay in control of the situation. Harry gave everything his everything and Draco had to make sure he didn’t cave to it.

“I know,” Harry nodded, sliding his boxers off, and waving his wand at the bath. The scent of lavender greeted Draco and he laughed.

“Manly.”

Harry rolled his eyes, turning and walking towards the bath — Draco took the moment to check out his arse. “It helps you sleep, and you need to sleep.”

Draco smiled weakly at Harry’s attempts to take care of him. He wouldn’t be able to sleep well, no matter how much lavender Harry put in the bath. Scorpius had been taken and was being used as an experiment. His son was a lab rat for some of the most twisted experiments Draco had ever encountered.

“Draco,” Harry’s voice caught Draco’s attention before he could spiral off. He glanced up, catching Harry’s eyes. “It’s going to be okay.”

Draco nodded dumbly, finished stripping off his clothes, and picked up his notes on the Miles and Green interviews. Seeing if from the mess that both their heads had been — Draco presumed the Order had scrambled them — he could find the truth in there somewhere.

“Draco,” Harry prompted again, and Draco moved robotically until he had settled in the bath, leaning back against Harry’s broad chest. The warm water laps at his side, and he can feel whatever magic is in the bubble mix seeping into his body, drawing out the tension and letting his muscles relax.

Draco closed his eyes for just a moment, as Harry’s hand stroked his side, creating soft ripples in the water.

“What can I do?” Harry asked, his lips brushing Draco’s ear. “Do you want me to distract you again?”

Draco could feel Harry’s soft cock against his back. It would be so easy to lose himself in Harry’s body — in his clever fingers, warm mouth, and bright eyes — but Draco couldn’t right now.

Draco shook his head. “No, for now, can we just lie like this?”

“Anything you want,” Harry murmured, still stroking Draco’s side. “I’ll cast a hover charm, I want to be able to read the notes too.”

Harry said a wandless spell, and then the notes were hovering in front of them, allowing them both to read them over.

Draco’s eyes drifted over the notes, trying to make sense of it, but he couldn’t — he couldn’t make any fucking sense of it.

“It’s hopeless,” Draco muttered, reaching out and grabbing the notes.

“No, it’s not,” Harry said.

Draco couldn’t help but laugh; it was a humourless, bitter laugh at Harry’s eternal optimism. “Don’t give me that Gryffindor crap right now. Nothing we’re doing is fucking getting anywhere, and Scorpius,” Draco’s breath caught as everything he had been trying to ignore all day hit him at once. A tsunami of emotions crashed into him, and it was only Harry’s arms around him that stopped him from going under. “It’s hopeless,” Draco repeated, the tears finally spilling down his face as he chucked the notes across the room. They fluttered pathetically to the floor.

“It’s not,” Harry repeated, his arms tightening around Draco’s body as he sobbed. It hurt so much that he thought his body would cleave in two. He didn’t want to feel it, he wanted it all to stop.

“My son,” Draco whispered. He had felt on edge since the gymnasium earlier, and there was nothing he could do now to stop the breakdown from reaching its peak.

Harry kissed the top of his head, murmuring sweet nothings as Draco cried until he wasn’t sure if the bath contained more water from the tap or his tears. He cried until there was nothing left, just an echoing numbness that even Harry couldn’t break through. Just a silence in his head that threatened to overwhelm him if he took one wrong step.

***

Draco leaned back against the wall, his eyes fixed on Harry who was sat centre stage fielding most of the press’s questions. He looked just like the Saviour the Ministry had asked him to be. His hair was still a mess, he hadn’t shaved, and Draco wasn’t even going to start on the state of his robes, but none of that took away from Harry’s aura. He was mesmerising as he spoke —  the war hero, the Saviour, the one the wizarding world could count on.

Pansy was waving her hand up in the air. It was strange seeing Pansy in such a professional setting, watching her go head to head against Harry. Draco knew it was her job though.

“The Daily Prophet has a question for Junior Aurors Potter and Weasley,” Zachariah Smith said, gesturing for the witch to stand up.

Pansy stood up, cast a quick Sonorus charm and began speaking. “You tell us we have nothing to fear, but how can we believe that? Only one child out of the four has been found, and that child is still in St Mungo’s. There are rumours the child may never do magic again. How are we meant to trust you knowing that children are out there losing their magic?”

Harry’s face twitched before he began speaking. “The Auror department is doing everything we can to bring these children home  in as good health as possible. In regard to keeping other children safe, the Ministry has set a curfew and is recommending parents do not leave their children unmonitored. We’re asking you to strengthen your wards on a day-to-day basis, and when the next first of the month comes,” Harry’s face turned grim, “Well, we hope to have sorted it by then.”

“So there’s a chance another child could be taken?” Pansy pushed.

“We are doing everything to ensure that won’t happen,” Weasley said, his voice calmer than Harry’s. This came more naturally to Weasley. Harry looked uncomfortable, and he couldn’t hide that he didn’t believe the things he was saying. Or maybe Draco was just learning to read him better than most.

“Can you tell us anything about who is taking the children?” An old man pressed. Draco was thankful that while playing her part of the journo, Pansy was keeping the insider information to herself. She was putting Draco above her career, and he loved her for it.

“We cannot release too much information at this point,” Weasley continued. Draco had never really thought of Weasley as much. He was rude and crass, too tall, and his hair was too red. However, as he spoke to the crowd, placating their fears and assuring them that all would be fine, Draco could grudgingly admit he saw why the wizarding world was obsessed with Weasley too.

Harry was still better though; there was no garish red hair.

“We believe there to be an underground society, and they are highly dangerous,” Harry said. “We are currently unsure of their reach, but we believe that we can stop them. They are just another group of wizards who have misunderstood how magic should be used.” He gave the crowd what Draco thought was supposed to be a charming smile, “and I am more than happy to bring another group of dark wizards down.”

Draco thought Smith had made a grave mistake when he had given Harry a script. Harry was always at his best when he was burning off the back of his own emotions. He was a natural-born leader, and people wanted to follow him, but right now he sounded false. He looked exhausted too.

Draco felt bad. He knew he had kept Harry awake last night, but Harry had insisted on them sleeping together. Draco had offered to sleep in a spare bed but Harry had just held him tighter.

Sighing, Draco tuned out Harry and Weasley’s words. It was all half-truths neatly written to make the Ministry sound like they were doing better than they were. Written to convince everyone Hektor Fawley was on his way to making a swift recovery when he was still lying non-responsive in St Mungos.

The press conference dragged on, but finally, Smith shut it down with promises that there would further opportunities for questions and that the Ministry would keep them all updated. Draco wanted to laugh out loud at that. Smith always had been a smarmy prat.

Draco slipped out of the room before anyone could see him and wandered back to the incident room to wait for Harry there. He’d speak to Pansy later. People didn’t always react well to Draco’s presence even after all these years. Draco didn’t blame them.

“Merlin,” Weasley’s voice startled Draco from his research as the door was flung open and Weasley and Harry entered. Both looking exhausted. “What a load of dragon shite that was.”

“Agreed,” Draco drawled, not looking up from his notes.

Harry laughed. “I fucking hate doing that.”

“Same,” Weasley grumbled. “All that bullshitting made me hungry, so I’m off to find some food. Coming, Harry?”

Draco glanced up to see Harry perch on Draco’s desk and shake his head. “Nah, going to try to get some work done before then.”

“Fair, I’ll stop by St Mungos after lunch, see if they’ve learnt anything about that Hektor kid yet.”

“Tell Hermione hi from me,” Harry said, giving Weasley a two-fingered wave as Weasley walked out the door.

Harry sighed, dragging his hands through his hair. “I hate playing their fucking puppet.”

“But you play it so well,” Draco remarked dryly.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Fuck off.”

“The Golden Boy,” Draco continued, smirking as Harry flipped him off. “You make a very pretty puppet though.”

Harry groaned, dropping his head into his hands. “I fucking hate it. I suck at all the,” he waved his hands aimlessly, “the politics. I’m shit at it.”

Draco laughed softly. “You are, you’re too noble for all the lying.”

Harry quirked his eyebrows. “Is that a bad thing?”

“I used to think so.”

“Prat,” Harry grinned, leaning over and claiming Draco’s lips in a kiss. Draco laughed, gripping Harry’s robes and pulling him closer. The angle wasn’t comfortable, and the desk was digging into Draco’s chest, but then Harry’s tongue was tracing his bottom lip, and Draco didn’t have anything to complain about.

“Potter, I wanted to speak to you about—” the door flung open and Robards burst into the room. Harry sprang back, stumbling over his feet as he stared wide-eyed at the Head Auror. “About this,” Robards spluttered, his cheeks turning a nasty shade of red.

Draco debated banging his head against his desk until he died. He should have known better than to just give in to Harry’s foolish affections. Draco had known they couldn’t, and yet he’d given in anyway because he had wanted the comfort. This was the second time Draco had let his feelings for Harry misguide him. Well, the second time in the last couple of weeks. Draco had been letting his feelings for Harry get in the way of thinking logically since they had first met.

“What in Merlin’s fucking name is going the fuck on?” Robards growled.

Harry produced some weak nonsensical noises that Robards ignored.

“Because to me, it looks like the two heads of a case have been canoodling on office time! Do you know how this looks? What were you thinking?!”

Draco wanted to ask who the fuck still said canoodling anymore. Robards sounded like Draco’s bloody mother.

“I did tell you we had a messy past,” Harry muttered, causing Robards’s face to grow even more red.

“You’d fucked before and you let me put you both on a case!”

“You told me to bury the past!” Harry said, his voice growing firmer and his face flickering with irritation. That was just what Draco needed right now, for Harry to piss off his superior and for them to get in even more trouble.

“Do either of you give a flying fuck about this case?” Robards spat, throwing his arms up in the air.

Draco cleared his throat, his face cold. “Need I remind you that my son has been taken.”

“And yet you’ve still allowed yourself to be distracted by Potter? Need I remind you of how this looks, Malfoy? You are technically his superior!”

“We’re in different departments,” Harry protested, but Draco and Robards ignored him.

Draco was busy trying to keep his breathing under control as he stood up. He was taller than Robards and had every intention of using that to his advantage. “How dare you…” Draco trailed off, gripping his desk tightly to stop himself from doing something stupid. “How dare you suggest that I am distracted!”

“Well, what else am I meant to read from this?”

“You cannot just—”

For the third time the door flew open, and Dahlia stumbled in her eyes wide and her hair frizzier than Draco had ever seen it.

“What?” Draco snapped.

“I’ve done it,” Dahlia whispered, her voice croaking before she cleared her throat. “I’ve done it.”

“Done what?” Robards asked, his tone far too short and Draco was about to start yelling at him to speak to Draco’s team with some respect when Dahlia spoke again.

“I’ve managed to reverse the signal of the tracking device.”

“Meaning,” Harry prompted, his face settling into his Saviour face.

“I’ve managed to pinpoint the location where the device was made, and Merlin fuck is it giving off a strong magical signal, the same magical signal that we’ve been trying to identify all the time.” Dahlia glanced at them all before her face lit up, “I’ve found the base.”

Draco had to sit back down, his breath caught in his throat because there was no way this was happening… There was no way they could be… Scorpius could be there. Scorpius would be there. Draco had to hope, that’s what Harry kept saying.

“We are not done with this conversation,” Robards growled at Draco and Harry before turning back to Dahlia. “I want the details now, we need to find out when we make the move.”

Draco slowly glanced up, Dahlia was staring at him. He gave her a tiny nod, and she turned back to Robards. “What do you want to know first?”

***

Draco hadn’t been able to sleep last night, how had they been able to expect him to go home and sleep knowing that Scorpius could be so close.

He had spent half the night pacing and the other half sitting alone in Scorpius’s bed, fingers clutching Scorpius’s teddy bear as if it were his life line. It still smelled just like Scorpius.

Yesterday afternoon had been one long planning session. Dahlia had brought in the tracking device and they had pinpointed the exact location of the underground warehouse. It was out in West Yorkshire, just outside of Bradford, which was a fucking pain and a half to get everyone and everything too. So yesterday had been dedicated to talking logistics.

Draco didn’t have the power to demand they storm the base straight away, so he had had to sit there and listen. He could help with spell preparation and making sure the Aurors knew how to defend themselves against darker spells, but he wasn’t an Auror. He wasn’t trained to prepare for these raids.

Also he was worried Croaker would take him off the raid team again because of his closeness to the case, and he couldn’t let that happen. He was going whether or not Croaker gave him permission. This was his son.

“Right, everyone, if you can pass Draco and I your wands please, that would be much appreciated,” Dahlia said, snapping Draco from his thoughts.

“Why?” Stapleton frowned, twisting her wand in her fingers.

“We’ve managed to work out a basic amplifying mechanism that will allow us to make the fight more even. It isn’t perfect, and their wands will still be stronger, but it’s better than nothing. This means you have to put everything you have into your spells and be constantly alert and focused when casting. Especially with your shield charms,” Dahlia explained, taking Stapleton’s wand and murmuring the charm that they had come up with.

“So no pressure then?” Boot joked, managing to get a weak laugh out of everyone. There were more than just Harry’s, Weasley’s, and Draco’s teams here today. This bust was going to be huge, since The Natural Order was  the biggest threat the Ministry had faced since Voldemort and they needed to take it down.

Dahlia grinned at him before handing Stapleton back her and wand and taking Cho’s. “No pressure at all.”

Dahlia had spent enough time with Cho now to be completely calm around her, and Draco was happy for her. He wondered if Cho had any interest in Dahlia — he knew she was with Harry at school, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t also be interested in girls now. Harry had turned out to bisexual after all.

Harry handed Draco his wand, his face set in a grim expression, and Draco offered him a tense nod. He could feel his nerves eating him alive and threatening to spit him out.

Harry managed a weak smile, but Draco couldn’t smile back. They were so close and he felt like he were going to collapse. He needed a long nap after this — a Sleeping Beauty-length slumber. However, he wouldn’t be able to because either Scorpius would be home and Draco would be taking care of him or… Draco couldn’t contemplate the other option.

All he could think was that Scorpius was going to come home and Draco was never letting him out of his sight again.

It didn’t take long for them to be fully kitted out and ready to move. They were taking Portkeys to just under a kilometre outside the warehouse entrance. They had sent out wizards to get readings of the place yesterday and had managed to draw up an idea of the entrances and the places most heavily warded. Draco, Harry, and Weasley would be leading their teams into the main entrance, and Brady and some others would be leading their teams into the two smaller entrances.

It was the largest operation that Draco had ever seen the Aurors put together. Not that Draco was admittedly very involved with the Aurors normally, aside from teaching them a couple of spells and the odd bit of consultation. He tended to stay locked away in his Department in his lab.

“Is everyone ready?” Robards called out, “The Portkeys leave in 30 seconds, so please everyone assemble with their teams and take hold of the correct Portkey.”

Draco placed his finger on the empty water bottle and looked up just in time to catch Harry’s eyes.

“Good luck,” Harry mouthed.

“You too,” Draco mouthed back, as Robards started the ten-second countdown. Draco let himself take those precious moments to stare at Harry’s handsome face, and as the swirling suction of the Portkey grabbed him, Draco made a firm vow that if Harry ended up in St Mungos again Draco was going to kill him. Draco wasn’t ready to lose him.

***

Harry didn’t get nervous during fieldwork. Well, he did in a sense — his heart was in his mouth for his friends and colleagues — but for himself he didn’t spare a thought. It was in fieldwork that he finally felt calm, where he knew what he was doing. All of that out-of-his-depth swimming that hit him in daily life went away, and it was just him and his wand.

“Potter, can you hear me?” Robards’s voice rang in his ear, and Harry tried not to pull a face. He didn’t want to think of the shitstorm that was brewing back at the Ministry — Robards was going to fucking flay him alive when they finally spoke about it. Harry really didn’t want to have that conversation.

“Yeah, I’m here,” Harry said, tapping the earpiece so that Robards’s voice wasn’t blaring quite as loudly into his ear. “We’re just setting up the anti-Apparition wards.”

“Good work,” Robards’s voice was definitely more tense than usual, but luckily he seemed to be letting the Draco thing slide for now. The mission was more important. “Can I get a visual, please?”

Harry tapped his chest, turning the camera on, and gestured for the rest of the squad to do the same. The image of Robards and Croaker in front of the screens always amused Harry slightly, like they were in an old Muggle spy movie.

“How’s it looking, Sir?” Ron asked, adjusting his utility belt.

“The magical frequencies we’ve been picking up are off the charts, and you’re going to have to work quickly and quietly to ensure that you can get in and out,” Croaker said. Harry grinned at Ron as they both heard Robards huff at being interrupted.

Dash’s laugh came through the earpiece. “Can I be the first to ask if we’ve come up with a plan for getting out yet?”

“Fighting for our lives as always,” Ron shrugged, clapping Dash on the back and striding off to speak to Gregor and Stapleton.

Dash’s nose wrinkled and he looked slightly shell-shocked from Ron clapping him on the back.

Harry gave a supportive smile. “It wouldn’t be fun otherwise.”

“Gryffindors,” Harry heard Draco mutter from where he was bent down talking to Terry and Dahlia about the logistics of the place.

“No fucking dying, do I make myself clear, Potter?” Robards said. “I have no intention for you to try and be The Boy Who Lived Thrice ?”

“Can’t I become The Man Who Lived now? I’m old enough!”

“Nope,” Ron, Terry, Cho, and Draco’s voices came through the earpieces. Harry resisted pouting and living up to the boy name even further.

“Can we focus please?” Croaker asked dryly through the earpiece, and Harry tuned back into his superiors. He wasn’t sure why they even bothered planning in such extreme detail. It was the same t every time. They got in and everything went to shit and they ended up freestyling. The same thing had been happening to Harry since he was eleven years old — he was starting to think he was the problem.

“They have security cameras because they weren’t built in the tenth century,” Dahlia said, and Harry bit his lip at her dig at the Ministry. The Ministry really ought to invest in security cameras.

Cho looked like she was trying not to laugh too as she pulled a large bag out of her pocket — what wizards would do without extension charms Harry didn’t know. “What this means is we’re all going to have to wear these sheets that alter our magical frequency enough that the cameras can’t pick us up.”

“Does that really work?” Gregor frowned.

“Do you think they’d suggest it if it didn’t?” Terry replied, reaching out and taking one of the silver sheets from Cho. “How does it work?”

“Just wrap it around yourself,” Cho said. “They’re something I’d been working on for a while, and Dahlia and I spent all of yesterday perfecting them. They work well enough to get us in and out, and also they’ll allow us to move around the halls without being caught on their cameras.”

“Do we know they have cameras everywhere?” Ron asked.

“We’re presuming,” Dahlia shrugged. “I imagine this place is going to be a fucking fortress.”

Harry clapped his hands together. “I always did love a challenge.” He shared another grin with Ron before his face slid into a more grim expression. He could feel Draco’s eyes on him, but this wasn’t the time for that. Harry was in his element now.

“Right. Brady, Michelson, and Andrews, you’re taking the East entrance. Work on unlocking the wards and then get in, but make sure you’ll be able to get yourselves back out again. Of course if needed you can activate the Portkeys, but as established, we don’t know what their security measures will be and if the Portkeys will become void once inside the base,” he nodded, before turning to face the other third of the group. “Hill, Diagem, and McKenna, the same applies for you but on the West entrance.” The team of Unspeakables and Aurors nodded back at him, all of their faces composed. The time for jokes was over.

“Ron, Draco,” Harry sighed, “That leaves us with the Main entrance, which means we’re going to be directly in the firing line, but I think we can take it. Has everyone got everything?”

The group nodded at him. “Well, this is what we’ve been working towards. These bastards have been taking children, they have been torturing creatures, and playing at God. However, they’re forgotten one little thing,” Harry paused, “there is no God in the wizarding world, just tosspots that can be beaten. That will be beaten.” The group cheered, and Ron whistled. Harry laughed. “Now make sure your earpieces are switched on, and keep your heads up and your wands ready,” Harry finished before shooting them all a wild smile, his body thrumming with adrenaline at how close they were getting to the raid. “I hope not to attend any of your funerals.”

“I hope not to see you there,” everyone echoed back to him, and then they clapped each other on the back and took off towards their entrances.

Draco fell into step beside Harry, and Harry felt himself calm down instantly as Draco’s shoulder bumped his. “You’re good at that, you know.”

“At what?”

“Motivating people, you’ll make a good Senior Auror,” Draco continued.

Harry snorted and shook his head, muting his microphone for the moment. Draco did the same. “Senior Aurors sit around watching from behind the scenes. Senior Aurors are the voice in your ear most of the time. They’re paper pushers, and I…” Harry trailed off, frowning as he looked at his team. Dash, Cho, and Dahlia walking along deep in conversation. Ron and Terry chatting, their faces serious, and Gregor and Stapleton both lost in thought. The entire team meant the world to him, and he couldn’t see any of them harmed. “I need to be out here. I can’t sit at a desk and instruct others to fight for me. I need to be in the thick of it.”

Draco glanced over at him, his face unreadable. “You’re going to get yourself killed one day if you’re not careful.”

Harry gave him a small smile. “I’m not called The Boy Who Lived for nothing,” he said, trying to get Draco to laugh with him.

“Harry,” Draco said softly, and Harry waited for him to say something else, but he didn’t.

“I won’t get hurt,” Harry said, bumping Draco’s shoulder deliberately. “I promise.”

Draco just looked at him. Harry wanted to say something else but there was nothing else to say, so he tapped his earpiece to turn the microphone back on and wandered over to speak to Ron.

He ended up at St Mungos far too often to keep his promise, but maybe this would be the one time that he could. He really hoped so.

It didn’t take long to reach the Main entrance, and they all slipped on the silver sheets Dahlia and Cho had given them.

“Dash, can you try and pick up a reading of how many people are here?” Harry asked as Dahlia and Cho began unlocking the wards. They had the help of a special Auror device that was designed to penetrate even the strongest wards. It was fresh off the invention line — the Ministry were giving their all.

Dash shut his eyes and took a deep breath, which Harry had learned meant that he was having to focus hard on his Legilimency.

“Just push it out,” Draco said softly, “like a wave, just send it out and try and pick up their presence.”

Dash nodded, and for a moment the only sound was Dash’s breathing and Dahlia’s and Cho’s murmurs to each other.

“Remember to keep moving,” Draco said, giving Harry a soft nudge. “The sheets work best if you don’t stay still long enough for the electricity in the cameras to muddle through the magic.”

“Fuck, yes,” Harry said, taking a couple of steps backward and forwards. Draco gave Dash the same nudge, and Dash began shuffling his feet, his eyes screwing up as if the movement made it harder to concentrate.

Eventually, Dash opened his eyes and dragged a hand through his hair. “There are about twenty people, I want to say, and…” he glanced at Draco before slowly saying, “and I’m picking up three of them are children.”

“How do you know?” Draco said, the words seeming to fall from his mouth.

Dash bit his lip. “Children’s minds are easier to access, they’re just open and vulnerable. There’s definitely three kids in there.” He paused again. “And James is there too, I can sense his mind easier because I know him.”

Harry’s eyes darted over to Draco who was tapping his fingers against his thigh. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Draco snapped.

“Don’t snap at me, Draco. I need you to be able to think about this fucking logically. We are a team, and that means you have to be focused on the task at hand. You cannot get distracted,” Harry said. He knew he was being hypocritical, as he often forgot the larger goal when he was emotional, but the stakes here were huge for Draco. “We will get Scorpius back, and we will make James pay, but you’ve got to keep focused.”

Draco’s mouth tightened and he let out a deep breath before turning to Dash. “If you can get into Scorpius’s head at any point, tell I’m coming… Tell him daddy loves him, and that daddy’s coming.”

“You will not do that Male-Wraith,” Croakers voice blasted through all their earpieces. “You will keep your attention on the group at hand and the enemy. I understand your thoughts Malfoy, but I am forbidding you to do that. Do you hear me Male-Wraith?”

There was a pause and Dash’s face fell blank as he said, “I hear you,” however he was looking at Draco in a manner that said there was no way Dash was doing anything but what Draco told him. He was a Hufflepuff to the core, and he knew exactly where his loyalties lay.

“Good,” Croaker said gruffly, and anything else he was about to say was cut off by Dahlia turning around, that same wild smile on her face that she had worn at the last raid.

“We’re in.”

“Brady, Hill, how are you both doing?” Harry asked, readying his wand.

“We’re ready when you are,” Brady said.

Hill cleared her throat before speaking. “Us too.”

Harry turned his gaze over his team before swallowing. “Fall out then.”

“I hope not to attend any of your funerals,” Ron murmured one more time for luck.

Harry swallowed before joining the others in chorusing: “I hope not to see you there.”

Harry stepped forward, his wand raised as he walked through the doors. He felt on edge and it was more than just the natural rush that came with field work — the entire nature of the place felt off.

“The magical essence of this place,” Draco murmured, waving his wand and muttering a spell. “Whatever they’re doing down here,” he shuddered, “it’s not right.”

Harry could feel the magic probing at him, seeking him out and wrapping itself around him — it wasn’t comforting like the Burrow’s magic or thrilling like Draco’s magic, it left Harry with goosebumps. The magic felt cold like the warmth had been sucked out of it and turned into something… more useful.

As they walked through the halls, led by Dash and with wands at the ready, Harry wished he had a copy of the Marauders map only for this base. It would make everything more interesting. They were trying to track down the scientists, and by using Farrant’s memories and the scanners they had sent out yesterday they had just been able to get a basic grasp of the base’s layout.

Harry guessed they were heading towards the centre, where the cluster of labs had been. Labs weren’t the best place for a duel.

“Wait,” Dash said, and Harry felt himself stop moving before his mind had processed the thought, and he was about to snap at Dash when Dash’s voice echoed in his head, “ Shield!”  For a microsecond, Harry wondered if Dash’s automatic reaction was to speak in someone’s head and then he was putting his all into throwing up a Shield Charm.

Almost immediately a streak of red flew past Harry’s face, the heat almost burning him despite the Shield Charm. Harry automatically threw a Stunning Spell back.

“I think the fight has come to us,” Ron said, throwing out his own hex. “We need to split, this corridor is too fucking narrow.”

Harry flung another hex, “Agreed.”

It became easier after that.  Harry, Draco, and Ron threw out hex after hex, Dash in their minds as they kept pushing the defending wizards back. There were only three of them, and they were dressed in a manner that suggested to Harry that they were guards. Even with their superior wands, the guards were soon taken down. Terry quickly performed three Binding Charms and stuck one of the removal Portkeys on them. It activated with a green light and the three wizards spun out of sight, straight to the Ministry holding room.

“Good to know those work,” Terry said, brushing his hands on his robes, his face returning to a neutral expression. “Shall we keep going?”

Harry nodded and walked forward, letting Dash guide him through the halls. The walls were all white and bland, and it would be easy to get lost — Harry imagined that was deliberate.

“We’re nearly there,” Dash murmured, pausing again. “I think they must be waiting for us, as there is a large grouping of them all in one area.”

“Well that’s comforting,” Cho muttered, and despite everything, Harry let out a soft laugh.

“Is everyone ready?” he asked, glancing around the group. Sighing as he received grim nods, Harry faced the door in front of him.

“It’s heavily warded,” Dahlia said.

Harry glanced at the door and decided that he was done with The Natural Order and how fucking clever they were. “Not for long,” he said, before pointing his wand at the door. “ Reducto !” he yelled, pushing all his magic into the spell. As it left his wand he cast a quick Shield Charm just as the spell connected with the door and blew it to smithereens.

“You know that could have gone really fucking wrong, right?” Dahlia said, but her eyes were alight and she was grinning at Harry.

Harry shrugged. “It didn’t.” A stream of gold light shot past him, and Terry narrowly shielded himself in time. “Move,” Harry yelled, flinging a spell into the smokey fray and running forward, his mind running on autopilot.

This time there were no narrow corridors with guards. They were going up against the official Order.

A snarling witch threw a bright green hex at him, and Harry dived out of the way casting an Expelliarmus back. The witch’s wand flew from her hand, but that didn’t stop her. She started casting wandlessly in a manner that Harry had only seen matched by Dumbledore, Voldemort, and well… himself.

“They can cast wandlessly,” Harry yelled, casting a Stunning Spell. “Don’t bother with Expelliarmus .”

“The fuck are you going to do then?” Ron laughed. Harry laughed back, catching sight of his best friend running into the madness — his face burning with maniacal glee.

Harry’s own face shuttered down as he narrowly missed a purple hex he didn’t recognise, and he was casting before he had even turned to face his opponent.

Duelling was like a dance for Harry, but a dance he finally understood. It had its own music and its own rhythm, and Harry’s body knew it instinctively. There was no learning of steps or feeling self-conscious because people were watching him — there was just his wand casting, and his mind turning and everything narrowing itself down to that exact moment in time. He became his wand or maybe his wand became part of him — whatever happened it felt like the most natural thing in the world.

Harry took down a wizard, bound him, and stuck a removal Portkey to his body. He glanced around briefly and took in Dash, who was standing and casting defensive shield after defensive shield, even as his magnificent mind spun. Dash’s voice in Harry’s head no longer felt like an intrusion. It just felt like another defence mechanism. Harry’s eyes followed Terry and Ron taking down a witch, and Draco dueling with a stout man. Draco couldn’t seem to keep his attention on the duel at hand as if he were looking for—

“James.” Draco’s voice was an inhuman a guttural growl. He threw a final hex at the stout wizard before running off.

“Draco!” Harry yelled, stumbling forward. He hit Draco’s wizard with another hex for luck before running after Draco through the fray  — Hill’s and Brady’s teams had arrived, and the Ministry teams were no longer outnumbered.

“Harry Potter.” Harry spun around at the sound of his name just in time to watch a blonde witch cast a spell at Brady, and for Brady to fall like a puppet whose strings had been cut. Harry didn’t need to check to know Brady wouldn’t be standing back up. “I’ve been wanting to meet you for so long.”

Harry threw a curse at her and she deflected it without batting an eyelash. “I’m flattered. Unfortunately, I can’t say I know who you are.”

The woman sighed, casting a spell at Stapleton, and Harry’s breath caught as the spell hit Stapleton’s knees. “I know you do, Harry. I’m the one you’ve been looking for after all. You spoke to my husband, and I’m sure he proved to be useless as always. You think I’m the mastermind.”

“Robyn Graves,” Harry spat, casting another Stunning Spell.

She smiled, twirling her wand and firing off three spells in quick succession that Harry only just managed to deflect. “I’ve been wanting to meet you for so long, and now that you’re here,” the smile slid off her face as she had to shield another one of Harry’s attacks, “well, you’re just as amazing as I’d hoped.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere,” Harry growled.

Robyn rolled her eyes. “You’re the most powerful wizard alive, Harry. Do you even understand your potential? What makes you so strong —  is it natural talent or is there something more?”

“Unlike you I don’t fake my power,” Harry said, smirking as his Stunning Spell caused Robyn to stumble.

Robyn’s face shuttered and she glowered at him. “I’m a scientist. I only enhance what is already there. It’s all natural.”

“You’re harming kids.” Harry kept casting now that Robyn was on her back foot. “There’s nothing natural about it.”

“Sacrifices must be made for society to advance,” Robyn spat, her wand moving faster now, and her eyes blazing.

“There are lines that shouldn’t be fucking crossed,” Harry said, putting his everything into the spell and watching as the golden light hit Robyn’s chest and she tripped, only just managing to keep herself upright.

She shook her head. “You have no idea how amazing you are, do you?”

“I’ll send you my autograph when you’re in Azkaban,” Harry growled, casting one final Stunning Spell and managing to knock her backwards. Her body flew across the room before collapsing onto the floor. Harry ran over, bound her hands, and stuck the Portkey on her. She didn’t look like the head of an underground magical experimentation ring, but Harry had learned long ago that looks could be deceiving.

“Nice one, mate,” he heard Ron say as he turned, and Harry knew what was going to happen and he cast a Protego with everything he could, but his shout and his spell were too late, and that unfamiliar purple light hit Ron’s chest. And there was that ghost of a smile on his face — just like Sirius and just like Fred — and then Ron’s knees were buckling and Harry didn’t even think as he cast and the green light that shot from his wand connected with the wizard who had harmed Ron. Harry didn’t even look to see if his spell had hit — he knew it had — he didn’t watch the body fall to the ground before he was running over to Ron, screaming his best friend’s name. Screaming it as a plea for Ron to be okay and a promise to kill anyone that hurt him.

“Ron,” Harry begged, dropping to his knees and pressing his fingers to Ron’s neck... There was a pulse. Harry nearly sobbed with relief as he cast a Stabilising Charm and brushed Ron’s hair off his forehead. “You’re going to be okay.” Harry’s voice cracked as he pulled out an emergency Portkey that would take the user straight to St Mungos. “You have to be okay.” He attached the Portkey to Ron’s chest and squeezed his best friend’s hand. “Give Hermione my love, if she doesn’t kill you first,” he said, stepping back as Ron’s body Vanished.

Harry took a deep breath before running back into the fight with only one thing on his mind now as he cast — he had to find Draco. His spells aimed to harm now — for Ron, for Brady, and for every child and parent these people had hurt —and harm they did as one by one his targets fell. Robyn had called him the most powerful wizard alive, and Harry burnt with the power in that moment.

He found Draco dueling James — Draco’s face curled into an inhuman snarl.

“Malfoy,” James kept trying to say before having to defend himself from Draco’s onslaught. “It wasn’t and it isn’t personal!”

“You took my son,” Draco growled, his grey eyes flashing. “It doesn’t get much more personal.”

“It was—”

“If you say for the greater good, I am going to fucking kill you,” Draco spat, hitting James with a Petrificus Totalus . James froze, his eyes wide with fear before he crashed to the ground. Draco stalked towards James’s frozen body. “Or maybe I’ll just kill you anyway.”

“Don’t!” Harry said, finally breaking out of his trance and running to Draco’s side.

Draco glared at him, and despite the circumstance, Harry took a moment to appreciate how gorgeous Draco was. “He’s mine, Harry.”

“I know,” Harry said, “but we need his information. You can’t kill him, not yet.”

Draco swallowed, biting his lip hard before turning to James with a sneer. “Fine,” he said before waving his wand and whispering a spell Harry didn’t recognise. Harry watched as James’s face slowly drained of colour and turned grey, his skin stretching as if… as if he were becoming stone. “This was a favourite of Aunt Bella’s. She developed it so that when it was done the victim died. Their essence Vanished, and they just became stone. However, I altered it and the Ministry actually thought my version was more humane. I would say that being turned to stone — feeling your insides freeze up and harden — and being totally aware of what is going on for the entire time — I would say that hurts more. Because what Bella and the Ministry failed to remember is,” Draco stepped forward, tracing his wand across James’s grey cheek, “you can’t feel pain when you're dead.”

James’s eyes fixed on Draco’s face as Draco attached the Portkey. “Hope you don’t mind waiting a while, since I’m the only one who knows the countercurse and I’m a bit busy right now,” Draco said, stepping back and watching as James’s body Vanished.

Harry didn’t dare step forward and say anything to Draco — he didn’t know what to say that would mean anything. He wasn’t afraid of Draco, though. Harry had killed a man moments ago for hurting Ron and thought nothing of it. Draco had hurt the man who helped hurt his son. Harry understood him. “We’re not done yet,” Harry said finally before turning to join the end of the fight.

It didn’t take long to wrap the fight. The rest of the Order present fell one by one until none were left standing. The Ministry team had managed to send nearly all of them back to the Ministry aside from the one Harry had killed and another that Dash had killed. That had happened when the witch in question had knocked Dahlia back into the wall. Love was a powerful motivator.

Harry set Hill to rounding everything up, and Cho and Dahlia to begin collecting evidence.

“Where is he?” Draco croaked out, grabbing Dash by the robes. Dash was panting and he looked exhausted. His naturally dark skin was wan, but his eyes fluttered shut and a moment later he said:

“The floor up, I’ll take you to him.”

“I’ll come too,” Harry said before leaving Terry in charge of everyone else, and he slowly following Dash and Draco from the hall. No one said anything, as they were all too busy trying not to collapse.

“He’s here,” Dash finally said as they walked down another long, white, never ending corridor. “That door.” He pointed to a grey door, and Harry froze because next to the door — just like in Farrant’s memory — there was a large window, and through the window, curled up in a ball, was Scorpius Malfoy.

Harry reached out impulsively to support Draco when he noticed his knees buckle. Draco did not move as he pressed his hand to the window and stared at his son.

Harry pointed his wand at the door and unlocked it. It slowly swung open and Scorpius jolted awake, words falling off his tongue before his eyes opened:

“Please no. Please no. I’m so tired. Please. Please,” Scorpius sobbed, curling himself tighter into a ball.

“Scorp,” Draco whispered, sounding like he was afraid Scorpius would shatter if he spoke too loudly. “It’s me, it’s your dad.”

Scorpius shook his head desperately, his sobs echoing around the room. “No, you’re not! You can’t trick me!”

Draco recoiled as if he had been punched in the gut. “It’s me, I promise. I won’t hurt you, I’d never hurt you.”

“You said that last time,” Scorpius whimpered, and Harry realised he could taste salt from the tears running down his own face. “I want my real daddy.”

“Scorp,” Draco’s voice cracked as he stepped into the room. “It’s me, please believe me. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.”

“No, no, no,” Scorpius chanted, and Harry just managed to cast a Shield Charm before Draco took the full force of Scorpius’s terrified accidental magic.

“Please, Scorpius,” Draco said as Scorpius let out a shriek that caused Harry’s blood to run dry. And then just as soon as the shriek started, it stopped. “Scorpius?” Draco prompted, and the only greeting they got was a soft snore. “What did you do?” Draco yelled, rounding on Dash.

Dash leaned against the door frame, looking like he was about to collapse. “I put him to sleep, his mind…” Dash shuddered. “Trust me, Draco, if you could hear his thoughts you would have done the same.”

Draco stared at Dash for a few seconds before spinning around a and pulling Scorpius into his arms, cradling him as if he were a broken doll. Harry watched as Draco murmured softly in Scorpius’s ear and stroked his back.

“Take him to St Mungos,” Harry said finally. “Take him and we’ll finish up here.”

Draco didn’t even look up from Scorpius, as he said, “Thank you,” before pulling out the Portkey and vanishing.

Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath before turning to Dash. “Can you put the other two kids to sleep as well?” Dash nodded. “Good, let’s get to work then.”

***

Draco landed in St Mungos, in the Auror ward, and his knees nearly gave way. He stumbled forward just managing to catch himself on the wall without dropping Scorpius.

Scorpius had lost weight in the five days he had been missing — five days, was that really all? Draco felt like he had lived a thousand lifetimes since Scorpius had been gone.

“Healer,” Draco croaked out, glancing around the room. “I— I— I need a Healer, my son… my son…” he murmured, burying his face in Scorpius’s hair. He smelt like a Cleaning Charm, like everything that Draco had known about him had been stripped away leaving just this empty shell behind. “Please.”

The Healer at the reception finally glanced up, her eyes going wide as she took in Draco’s state and the child in his arms. “Is that one of the missing children?”

Draco nodded, a small part of his mind telling him to loosen his grip on Scorpius so he didn’t hurt him. “Legilimens put him to sleep because he…” because he couldn’t stand the sight of me — Draco couldn’t get the words out.

The Healer nodded, scribbling on forms. “The other child was the same, we had to put him into a magically induced sleep just to get near him.” The witch glanced up, her face softening for just a moment. “Is this your son?”

Draco nodded again. He couldn’t do much else.

The Healer summoned backup and in moments three Healers were running into the reception ward and one of them was trying to pry Scorpius from Draco’s arms. Why were they trying to do that? Didn’t they know that Draco could never let go of him again? What if they hurt him? What if they took him?

“Sir, we need you to give us the child,” one of the Healers said. “He needs intensive care right now.”

“His name is Scorpius,” Draco said, cradling Scorpius closer to his body. “His name is Scorpius.”

“Of course,” the Healer said, “But we need to take Scorpius into care now, Sir, his life and magical essence could depend on it.”

“Can’t I come with you?”

The Healer shook her head. “We’ll be bringing Scorpius down to the children’s ward and you can wait for him there.”

“Malfoy.”

Draco glanced up just in time to see Granger pausing on the edge of the ward, her sharp eyes taking in the sight of Draco and then Scorpius in his arms.

“Malfoy, you need to give Scorpius to the Healers,” she said, “it’s the best thing for him.”

Granger was a good person, Draco knew that. She wouldn’t hurt Scorpius. Draco released his grip so that the Healer could take Scorpius. He looked so small, his pale skin devoid of all colour and his white hair lank. They had shattered him. They had—

“Malfoy.” There was Granger’s voice again. Draco glanced at her and realised that they were suddenly alone in the ward. “Are you okay?”

Draco didn’t know whether to laugh. “I’m fucking brilliant, thank you,” he snapped, though he regretted it as he took in Granger’s tearstained face and wild hair. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“I’m fucking brilliant, thank you,” Granger echoed, and Draco couldn’t help it — he laughed, and after a moment Granger joined him. “It’s Ron, he was hit by a curse, and I don’t recognise it. I…” Granger trailed off and she swallowed. “He’s alive and breathing, but he’s not well.”

“I’m sorry,” Draco said, reaching out and awkwardly patting her on the back. He hoped his pitiful sorry would convey more than just the fact he was sorry about Ron — Draco was sorry for everything that had transpired between them.

Granger gazed up at him, her brown eyes thoughtful. “Thank you,” she said finally. “Would you like to go get a cup of coffee? The coffee here is pretty dire, but it’s better than nothing.”

“I should go wait,” Draco mumbled, gesturing after the Healers.

“Scorpius won’t be awake for a couple of days, Malfoy. Come with me, it’ll make you feel better,” she gave him a small smile, “I’m a certified Healer after all.”

“Okay,” Draco said, letting himself be led down to the cafeteria. Granger had been right, the coffee was dire, but it made him feel better anyway.

Draco wasn’t sure how he ended up once again sat in a hospital waiting room surrounded by both his family and friends and the entire Weasley clan. However, here he was, and once again it was almost pleasant.

Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had been the first to arrive, running in with tears streaming down their faces, soon followed by the She-Weasley and one of the twins — the only twin, Draco corrected. He tried to make himself scarce as they hugged Granger, but soon Mrs. Weasley cornered him and was pulling him in for a bone-crushing hug, whispering about how brave he had been.

It was at that moment Lucius and Narcissa swept into the waiting room and froze at the sight of their only son being hugged to death by Molly Weasley.

Molly Weasley stepped back from Draco, and he fell into his mother’s arms, letting her soothe him. “He’s alive,” Narcissa whispered, stroking his hair as she had when he was a child. “He’s alive.”

“They broke him,” Draco whimpered.

He froze when a strong hand squeezed his shoulder, before relaxing into the touch of his father, as Lucius merely said, “Malfoys do not break, Scorpius will be just fine.”

It was a false-truth and Draco knew this, but in that moment he took comfort in it.

A few hours later Harry stumbled into the waiting room — Granger had returned after her shift to wait with everyone.

“Ron?” Harry managed to croak out as he strode forward, enveloping Granger in his arms. Harry looked like he was about to collapse any moment as he buried his face in Granger’s bushy hair, squeezing her tightly enough that Draco worried for her ribs.

“He’s…” Granger sobbed and Harry held her tighter. “He’s going to live.”

“Oh, thank god,” Harry whispered, still not letting go of Granger.

Draco wondered what it meant when Healers just said the patient was going to live, not they were going to be okay. He supposed there was a large difference in meaning.

Harry finally glanced up, meeting Draco’s eyes for the first time. “Scorpius?” He mouthed.

Draco’s shoulders deflated and he simply said, “Alive” — okay would have been a lie, after all.

***

Harry paused outside the interview door, looking over at Dash. Dash still looked like utter shit from yesterday but Harry didn’t imagine he looked much better. He had slept on a shitty plastic chair beside Ron’s bed with Hermione curled up beside him. They had tried to transfigure them into something more comfortable but had given up after only producing some cushions. The cushions had been gone by morning anyway — Harry’s magic levels were drained.

“You ready for this?” Harry asked, running a hand through his hair. It was probably a toss-up who looked worse, Harry with his messy dark hair, crumpled robes, and stubble, or Dash with his messy blue hair, crumpled robes, and stubble. Harry accepted that with Dash’s inhuman beauty, it was him who looked worse.

“Born ready,” Dash murmured, yawning.

“Try not to yawn in front of her, she’ll eat you alive,” Harry sighed, trying to flatten his hair as he caught sight of himself in the window of the door. He could see Robyn sat there, hands cuffed to the table. She looked bored as if all of this was a mere inconvenience.

Dash flashed him a crooked smile. “I’d like to see her try.”

Harry laughed, before setting his face into a neutral expression and pushing open the door.

Robyn’s eyes flicked over to him, and she smiled. “Nice to see you again Harry,” her eyes moved over to Dash and her face lit up — she looked like a cat who had just got the cream. “And you’re Dashiel Wraith! The Legilimens! Oh, I suppose I should be honoured to be interviewed by you both — the most powerful wizard and most powerful Legilimens in the country.” She traced her fingertips across the table, cuffs rattling. “I would love to meet your sister too, Dashiel, her name is Dahlia, right? I’ve heard such wonderful things.”

Dash’s usually impassive face slipped into a snarl. “Don’t talk about her.”

Harry cleared his throat. “What did I tell you about flattery, Robyn?”

“You told me it doesn’t get me anywhere,” Robyn sighed, “However, I have to disagree. People love to be flattered.”

Harry rolled his eyes. Clearly this was going to be a difficult interview. He set up the monitor and rolled off the usual spiel about rights and regulations, warning her that Dash had been granted full access to her head if she didn’t cooperate.

“Can I see?” she whispered, leaning forward. “Can I see what you can do in my head?”

“I could snap your mind without breaking a sweat,” Dash shrugged.

Robyn laughed. “I don’t think you could.” She raised her hands as much as the cuffs allowed. “Not that I don’t think you’re fantastic, you’re beyond anything I’ve ever seen. Just,” she smiled, “you wouldn’t be able to shatter my mind that easily. I’m quite resilient you see.”

“We’ll see how resilient you are locked up in Azkaban for the rest of your life,” Harry growled, gripping the table to try to keep his temper from blowing. He knew Robyn wanted him to lose his temper. He could see her mind spinning as she calculated their weaknesses. “Now, you’re a member of The Natural Order, correct?”

“Correct,” Robyn said, “I have been since I was in my seventh year of Hogwarts. They told me I was brilliant, and as I told you, Harry, flattery gets people everything and everywhere.”

Harry wanted to hit her, he really did. “How high are you up The Natural Order chain?”

Robyn hummed. “I’m a respected researcher, but I’m just part of the experimentation branch, there are much higher officials than me calling the shots — making the decisions of what we do.”

“And what decisions are those?” Harry pressed.

“You can’t expect me to just present all the answers on a plate for you,” Robyn sighed. “I expected more from the pair of you.” Robyn’s eyes snapped from Harry to Dash, and Harry waited as the two of them stared at each other.

“They want something,” Dash said slowly, “they want to bring the wizarding world out of hiding.”

Harry’s breath caught in his throat, and Robyn frowned at Dash. “You’re better than we even imagined.”

“Why? Why do you want to take the wizarding world out of hiding?” Harry said.

Robyn kept staring at Dash for a moment longer before turning her attention back to Harry. “Answer me this, in natural ecosystems do people ever ask sharks to hide from smaller fish just because they are stronger?” It was the exact same thing Lucius had said to them in that interview. “Of course, we don’t,” Robyn continued, “because we understand that it is the food chain, and in the sea, the sharks are the top predator. In this food chain, we are the top predator and it makes no sense for us to be in hiding.”

“If we’re really the top predator why are you having to push the boundaries of magic so much?” Harry asked. “Shouldn’t bringing wizards out of hiding be easy?” He could feel every muscle in his body screaming fight or flight, goosebumps slowly spreading across his skin. This was so much deeper than they had ever feared.

“Muggles have technology that wizards couldn’t even dream of,” Robyn said, “It’s not about beating them so much as just actually being brave enough to push magic to places it has never been taken before.”

“And the children?” Harry pushed, “Why did you take them?”

Robyn sighed, her nose wrinkling. “It was an unfortunate sacrifice that had to be made. Their magic is raw and intrinsically good. It hasn’t been corrupted by anything so it can be bent to our will. It means we can continue to push ourselves and the magic we’ve been using,” she sighed. “It’s a shame that branch is over as we were making such good progress.”

“You nearly killed children!”

“An unfortunate sacrifice,” Robyn echoed. “Now enough about me, I want to know what makes you both so powerful. Is it natural? Did something happen when you killed Voldemort, Harry? I’ve heard rumours about the Hallows, do they affect your magic levels? And Dash—”

“That’s enough,” Harry growled.

Robyn’s face lit up. “I can feel the magic leaking out of you, there’s so much of it.”

“This interview is over for now,” Harry snapped, slamming his chair backward and getting to his feet. “We’ll leave you in the cells a couple of days and see if you fancy talking more then.”

Robyn frowned at him and shook her head — she made him feel like a fucking child. “Don’t you understand, it doesn’t matter what I or anyone else tell you. The Natural Order is coming, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”

***

Draco smoothed the hair off Scorpius’s face as he watched him sleep. Scorpius hadn’t been taken out of his magical sleep yet because the Healers wanted to make sure they his magical core was rested after the strain of the last few days. They were certain magically he would be okay — it was the mental side effects they were worried about. And Scorpius had only been gone five days… Draco couldn’t let himself think about what the other parents must be going through.

Astoria had been in earlier with Pansy and she had broken down in hysterical tears. Draco had held her because what else was there for him to do — she was his mother.

“I’m never leaving him again,” Astoria had sobbed, stroking the pointed lines of Scorpius’s face. “Never again.”

Draco hadn’t said anything. He had just sat there and watched it unfold. There had been nothing to say.

“Hey, Scorpius,” Draco murmured. “You sleeping okay?” Scorpius didn’t respond but Draco took it as a yes. “Don’t wake up till your ready okay? But make sure you do wake up because… because I can’t live without you.”

Scorpius just lay there, breathing softly. He looked like one of those Muggle angels. “We’ll get you one of Aphrodite’s pups okay? Any one that you want, I promise. I know I told you I didn’t like crups, but if you want one we’ll get you one. Anything and everything you want, just ask for it and I’ll get it for you, all you have to do is wake up for me. All you have to do is wake up.”

Draco could feel another tear tracing its way down his cheek, just one single pathetic tear. It was all he had left in him anymore. He hadn’t left Scorpius’s side for longer than a few minutes since he had been allowed in last night. Dash, Dahlia, Romilda, Pansy, Astoria, Greg, Millicent, Blaise, Thea, and his parents had all come in to see Scorpius and to send their love. The room was littered with flowers and toys and get well cards from everyone who loved Scorpius.

Draco glanced up at the sound of a knock at the door. “Come in,” he said, trying to keep his voice even.

The door opened and in stepped Harry, his hair a mess and heavy bags under his eyes. He paused in the doorway, still in his Auror robes and a holding a pot of flowers in his hands.

“I bought him camellias because he… urm… bought me them that time, and I wanted to return the favour,” Harry said, shifting his weight. “I probably should have got him a toy, but I didn’t know what he’d want, and Romilda just told me an action figure of me, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that and…”

“Harry,” Draco said to cut off Harry’s rambling. “It’s beautiful, thank you.”

Harry smiled weakly. “I wrote him a card as well,” he said, stepping closer and handing Draco both the flowers and the card.

It was a simple get well card with a picture of a smiling crup on the outside but on the inside in Harry’s familiar scrawl it read: Dear Scorpius, You’re the bravest kid I’ve ever met and you inspire me. You’re my hero too. Love, Harry Potter .

“Harry,” Draco repeated, before staggering to his feet and pulling Harry in for a searing kiss. Harry welcomed it, kissing Draco back eagerly and wrapping his arms around him tightly. Draco broke the kiss and buried his head in the crook of Harry’s neck. “Thank you.”

“Anything,” Harry whispered. Draco had always known Harry was the sort to do anything for the people he cared about, but to be included in that list…

Draco stepped back, trying to compose his features but he clearly failed because Harry leaned in and kissed him so softly that it seemed like Harry was afraid Draco might break. Draco let him before stepping back, needing a moment to breathe. “How was today?”

“Do you really want to know?” Harry said.

“How bad can it be?” Draco said, sitting down again and stroking Scorpius’s hair.

Harry sat down beside Draco, reaching over and taking Draco’s other hand in his. “Bad.”

“Tell me,” Draco said.

Harry sighed. “The Natural Order want to bring the wizarding world out of hiding. This is what all of this,” Harry gestured to Scorpius, “was about. They’re creating weapons, and trying to make sure that wizards are strong enough to take our deserved place at the top of the food chain without Muggles proving a threat.”

“So like Voldemort but with less deliberate murder involved,” Draco murmured. He had lived through this once already — weren’t they done having the weight of the wizarding world on their shoulders? When would they be free from it?

He glanced over at Harry taking in the deep frown lines and the exhausted curve of his mouth. When would the world stop asking Harry to save it?

“Basically,” Harry said finally. They sat in silence for a few moments before Harry spoke again. “I really thought I was done being the Saviour, I just wanted to be a normal person. I didn’t want any of this.”

“I don’t think you’ll ever be just a normal person,” Draco whispered, squeezing Harry’s hand.

Harry laughed, but it was a humourless sound. “I guess so.” They fell back into silence, sat there, shoulders brushing and hands entwined before Harry spoke again. “We’ll get through it though, we’ll survive it all as long as we all stick together.”

Draco gazed at Scorpius’s sleeping figure before turning to face Harry and taking in his handsome face, drawn tight with worry. Draco reached up to cup Harry’s face, letting Harry lean into his touch, eyes fluttering shut. “Now Dumbledore definitely said that one,” he said softly.

Harry’s eyes opened — wide, green, and bright, and Draco felt a flicker of hope inside of him. They could do this, he could do this with Harry at his side. Harry’s mouth curled into a small smile and Draco knew he wasn’t letting Harry go anywhere. Draco was going to have his hands full with the case and Scorpius, but he couldn’t let Harry go. He needed him, he needed this right now.

“Nahh,” Harry said, leaning his forehead against Draco’s, allowing Draco to breathe in his scent and take comfort in the fact they were here together. With Harry at his side and Scorpius home again, Draco was ready to burn the whole world down. “That one was me too.”