Harry smiled and gave a few nods, as the room of twenty Aurors greeted him when he entered the conference room for their weekly scheduled, Monday morning meeting. Ron’s pat on the back was more like a whack, making Harry stumble forward. People were milling around the breakfast table, filling their coffee or teacups and selecting their favourite morning toasts and jams. “How was the trip?” Ron asked, as Harry took his seat at the head of the long conference table, Ron sitting next to him.
“Great. I hadn’t realised how much I needed to be away from here,” Harry responded so only Ron could hear. “Next year I think I’ll go for three weeks instead of two. Hey, what’s Hermione doing here?”
Ron looked at Harry askance. “When did you get in?”
“Just now. Why?”
Ron gave a low whistle and slid the nearest copy of the morning’s Daily Prophet in front of Harry.
Harry set down his mug of coffee and unfolded the paper.
His blood ran cold as he saw the headlines, but his expression betrayed nothing. At least he hoped it didn’t, as he called upon everything he had ever learned and practiced in hiding one’s emotions when confronted with a bad situation.
“Practically the whole department was there last night. I’m shocked you didn’t know. Hermione is going to present the possible charges against those arrested in the place and the owner,” Ron said with great pride. The other Aurors started taking their seats at the table. “You do know who the owner is, don’t you?” Ron mumbled as he picked up his pastry. His blue eyes casually shifted to look at Harry.
Harry set down the paper. “Yeah, I know. Where is she?”
“Holding cell twelve. She’s not talking.”
Harry ran his fingers through his long hair and placed it behind his ear. “I bet she isn’t. I’ll have a chat with her after this. That is if you want me to, I see it is your case.”
“Sure, mate, go ahead. I had no clue that the raid would turn up this shite.”
Harry cleared his throat and the side conversations ceased. “Good morning. It’s good to be back and I see you’ve been busy. Ron just showed me the paper, but I would like the real story now. Hermione, I’d like you to speak first as I’m sure you need to get back to your domain.”
Hermione struggled as she stood up. Harry gave her a soft smile, knowing that these last few weeks would be difficult for her. Her hand instinctively went to her large belly, which was holding the second of her and Ron’s children.
“I’m still in the process of researching the laws on this matter and what charges can be brought. For Katie Bell, the charges of distributing an illegal potion can be brought against her, along with reckless endangerment. As to the patrons of her establishment, it’s less clear.”
The Aurors grumbled. Harry cleared his throat again. “Hermione, enlighten me, please, on what illegal potion we’re speaking of.”
“On the street it is called GT, for gender-transformation.”
Harry slowly brought the mug of hot coffee to his lips, taking a short sip. The rising steam fogged his glasses. “I’ve never seen it on the restricted list before. Was it added when I was gone?”
“No, the real GT potion is not restricted as of yet, but is likely to be soon, given this morning’s outcry. The one Katie had used was a mixture of GT and a potion that is restricted.”
Harry wanted to sigh, he just wanted a straight answer, but he knew Hermione would get there eventually. He just nodded at her, signalling for her to continue.
“The potion added to GT was a fertility potion.”
Harry coughed after spectacularly spraying coffee across the table and the paper in front of him.
“I guess you didn’t get that far in the article,” Peasegood said while chuckling.
“No, I didn’t!” Harry snapped back. “What the hell effect did it have?”
Ron gave Harry a worried look, then spoke up. “Well that’s how we were led to Katie’s Place. We just thought it was a dance club and bar like everyone else, but we’re surprised to find all of the rooms down below. Shite, I had no idea people were into such kink.”
“Ron,” Harry said trying to control his exasperation. “What effect did it have?”
“The real GT, I learned, turns a man into a woman or woman into a man, similar to Polyjuice Potion. It only lasts for a limited time, but you don’t change into someone else, you are just you, but a different gender.”
Harry took a bite of his marmalade-covered toast, trying to show his employees that he was okay. He hoped he wouldn’t be throwing up his breakfast soon, given that his stomach was in turmoil.
“The added potion caused three wizards who turned themselves into females to become pregnant. They showed up at St. Mungo’s this last week all complaining of the same symptoms.”
Harry took a large sip of coffee, hoping to add some type of moisture to his mouth before speaking. “Wait, are you saying there are three wizards who became pregnant? How the hell would they get the baby out?”
Snickers and comments broke out around the table. Harry glared at them and they became silent. “Yes, three wizards became pregnant, and I’m not answering the last question,” Ron said, trying not to laugh.
“Harry,” Hermione chimed in. She had sat back down. “They’re no longer pregnant, the Healers weren’t sure they could sustain a pregnancy, even though they seemed to have kept the correct ‘plumbing’ to do so. I assume they would do a C-section, but the Healers thought it could be dangerous to the mother—I mean father—you know what I mean,” she said, getting flustered.
“St. Mungo’s contacted us and then we interviewed the wizards who led us to Katie’s Place,” Ron added after finally composing himself. “The wizards weren’t too happy with the situation—as you can imagine.”
Harry rubbed his forehead with the heel of his palm. “So who do we have in custody? I saw Malfoy strutting down the hallway. I assume he’s here talking to a client or two.”
“We have four wizards and three witches in custody besides Katie,” Hannah Abbot replied.
Harry looked down the table at Hermione and waved his hands. “Somebody please tell me what they’re charged with. Why are we holding them?”
Dawlish spoke up. “Harry, we’re checking it out to make sure everything was consensual. After all, some of those rooms looked like dungeons.”
Harry stood up, his fingers splayed and just the tips pressing on the table. “Has anyone made a claim saying that there was non-consensual sex or prostitution going on?” he said as his eyes swept the room again.
No one said a word, but they all shook their heads no.
“Then release them now, dammit! We don’t restrain people for having sex, do we?”
“Harry, it’s not that easy,” Hermione responded. “There was other magic used during these acts. Some of them had blindfolds and didn’t know who they were having sex with. In fact, two of the wizards had no idea who impregnated them.”
“Release them!” Harry spat out.
Hermione stood back up. “No, not until your team finishes their investigation. The public is in uproar. The Minister has already received hundreds of owls this morning complaining about the immorality of the situation and how such places should be condemned. We know Katie kept a record, a book, of all of her customers. She’s refusing to turn it over. We believe there are Ministry officials involved and that a few are being blackmailed.”
Harry fell back in his seat. He was definitely going to throw-up. He counted to ten and pulled himself back together. “Hermione, thank you for the report. Please let us know what laws have been broken, if any. In addition, please think about releasing those in custody, if they’ve not done anything wrong. I do not want to be known for being the Moral Enforcement Agency.”
Hermione left the room and Harry had no idea what anyone said afterwards. There were snippets of updates on other cases. He knew he responded, but one word, one person, Jolene, consumed his thoughts.
He knocked softly on the door before entering. Huge brown eyes filled with tears greeted him. Katie jumped up and ran into his embrace after he shut the door. He held her tight as she sobbed onto his shoulder. He Transfigured a chair into a couch and sat her down next to him, holding her tight. “What happened, Katie?”
Over the next thirty minutes, she told him of the raid, and that she had no idea that the potion had been tampered with. He asked about the blackmail and she laughed along with him. As far as she knew, no one was being blackmailed.
“Do you have representation?” he asked after she had calmed down.
She shook her head. “No, they’ve frozen all of my assets.”
“I saw Malfoy down here earlier. I thought maybe…”
“No, he wasn’t here to see me.”
Harry stroked her black hair and gave her soft kisses on her temple. “I’ll pay for your solicitor, love. This isn’t right.”
“Thank you, Harry, but you know you shouldn’t.”
Harry laughed. “Yes, apparently there are a lot of things I shouldn’t be doing. Don’t worry about me, I’ll find someone who can keep a secret about where the money is coming from.”
Katie leant over and kissed him softly on the lips. “Thank you, Harry,” she whispered and then she gasped. “Oh, God, Harry, you must be scared to death about Jolene.”
Harry pursed his lips and gave a silent sob as his eyes shut closed.
“Oh, sweetie, she’s fine. She wasn’t there last night. She only comes around for you.”
Harry opened his eyes; they brightened with Katie’s words. “You mean…”
“Yes, you are the only one she’s been with. She would never betray you, Harry, never.”
Harry sighed. “I didn’t think she would. I just didn’t know if she was one of the wizards that… Katie, you have to tell me, is Jolene male or female? You know I don’t care, but I need to know if she’s okay.”
Katie patted his knee. “She’s fine, I promise you, but you know I can’t tell you. It’s up to her.”
The sudden relief of knowing she was okay caught him by surprise, and soon Katie was holding him as he shed his tears.
“I miss her so fucking much,” he blubbered out before sitting up straight. He removed his glasses and wiped his eyes with his handkerchief.
Katie laughed. “We‘re in a mess, aren’t we, Captain? We should’ve stuck with Quidditch.”
Harry gave her final hug before standing up. “We’ll get through it. Now it’s almost lunchtime and I have to find you a solicitor. You do have the book hidden, don’t you? Please don’t tell me it’s at Gringotts.”
“No it’s not, you git, and I’m not telling you where it is. It is safe, rest assured.”
With much reluctance, Harry stood before a receptionist asking for an immediate appointment with Draco Malfoy. While they no longer seemed to hate each other since the war, there was no love lost between them either. Harry had some dealings with him as Draco defended some of those who Harry had arrested. Those that could afford him, of course. Hermione was the one who had to deal with Draco almost on a daily basis. They seemed to have a mutual professional respect for each other, but it didn’t extend to their personal lives.
The dark panelled door to Harry’s left opened. Draco stood in the doorway and gave Harry a smirk that he longed to wipe off his face. “Head Auror Potter, what a surprise. John, I will see Auror Potter now and please bring us some tea.”
Draco opened the door wider and moved so Harry could enter. Harry was not surprised at the view of London Draco had, nor the elegant furnishings of leather and teak. One wall was covered with pictures of Draco shaking hands with those he had successfully defended.
“Have a seat, Auror Potter,” Draco said pointing to the chair in front of his perfectly arranged desk. Harry sat down and watched as Draco put up a few privacy spells. Harry wondered how much the man spent on his immaculately tailored indigo robes. He raised his hand to his neck, checking to see if his tie was still straight. The feel of the purple silk jolted a memory of Jolene. She had given him this purple tie before he left for his mandatory holiday. Kingsley had threatened to put him on administrative leave if Harry didn’t take it. Jolene hadn’t just given him a package to open. No, she let him find it wrapped around her wrists and the bedpost. God, he remembered taking her while she stood there bound to the post as he pounded into her arse. He almost laughed remembering that Jolene was male that time, and Harry finished the scene by sucking her off.
“Auror!” Draco said loudly.
Harry jumped. “Harry or Potter, Draco, enough with the Auror crap.”
Draco sniggered. “Okay, Potter, what are you here for? May I assume it’s about last night’s raid by the Moral Enforcement Agency? Do you need a solicitor?” Draco asked arching a brow.
Harry groaned, hearing someone using the phrase already. “No, I don’t, but a friend does, and I want to pay for it.”
Draco leant forward. His interest had been piqued. “Who?”
“Draco, I can’t tell you unless I have an oath.”
“Unbreakable?” Draco said flippantly.
“No, you arse, a Wizard’s Oath.”
“Sure, whatever, Potter, you have my oath as a wizard that I will not divulge what you say to me right now to anyone, including the Minister for Magic himself,” Draco said as if it was a daily ritual.
“Katie Bell. They’ve frozen her accounts.”
Draco chewed on his lower lip. “May I ask why?”
“You may ask,” Harry replied sarcastically.
“But you won’t tell me. Look, I’m not going to take her case unless I know what the pitfalls are. If I know the truth, I can defend her. If I get caught off guard, then I can’t guarantee shite. Do you understand?”
Harry sighed. “Yes, I understand. Do you have anything to drink besides tea?”
Draco grinned. “Well, if you need one, then I’m sure I will too,” he said as he bent down and opened the bottom drawer of his desk. A decanter of Scotch and two glasses were put on the desk. “So, Potter, what are the deep dark secrets?” Draco said as he poured two healthy amounts of the amber liquid into the glasses and handed one to Harry.
“Katie did supply the potions mentioned in the Prophet, but she in no way knew that they’d been tampered with.”
Draco took his first sip of Scotch . “And you know this how?”
Harry didn’t say a word, but just stared into Draco’s questioning grey eyes. He watched as the reality hit. Somehow, he never expected the first person besides Katie and Jolene to know his secret would to be Draco Malfoy.
“You’re a client,” Draco stated as a fact, not a question.
“Did you take the potion?”
Harry shook his head.
“But someone you were with did?”
Harry took a large gulp of the Scotch and nodded his head.
“Was it one of the wizard’s who got pregnant?”
“No,” Harry said adamantly.
“Then I don’t see the problem, unless there is more to the story than what was reported. Fuck, don’t say it. Of course, there’s more to the story than what the Prophet knows.”
“Katie kept a book of her clientele. The Ministry knows about it, but they can’t find it. They think people may have been blackmailed.”
“And your name is in it?”
Harry leant forward; his eyes were burning. “Fuck, yes, but that’s not what’s important. There are others who could get hurt.”
Draco stared at Harry as if in disbelief and leant back in his brown leather chair. His eyelids closed for a moment and he chewed his lower lip again. “Potter, are you worried about all of the others or just one in particular?”
Harry took a deep breath. “I care about all of the others as I don’t think they did anything wrong, but I worry about just one.” He exhaled and couldn’t believe he just told more to Draco Malfoy than he would ever dream about telling Ron or Hermione.
Draco laughed aloud. “You’re in love with your whore. Fucking hell.”
Harry flew across the desk; the decanter and glasses fell onto the carpet, and he had his hands around Draco’s neck. “Don’t you ever call her a whore again, Malfoy!” Harry spat out.
Draco’s hands came between Harry’s arms and swatted them away. He bared his teeth and spat back, “Don’t you ever touch me like that again, Potter!”
Harry couldn’t believe what he had just done; he slid back over the desk and fell into the chair. Draco cleaned up the mess with a flick of his wand and a spell or two.
The office was silent as they sat there glaring at each other. Draco finally broke the silence. “My apologies.”
Harry poured himself another Scotch from the decanter Draco had repaired back to its original state. “Accepted, and please accept my mine.”
“Fine, so let me tell you what I think. I think you came here to protect Katie, but I also think you want me to make sure your lover… is that word okay to use?”
“Yes,” Harry whispered, though the word did not seem to convey enough for what he felt for her.
“You want me to make sure your lover isn’t exposed?”
“And what about you?”
“I don’t care.”
“Phhtt, you expect me to believe that? That the great hero and Head of the Magical Law Enforcement doesn’t care about himself.”
“I don’t care whether you believe it or not. It’s the truth. I would turn my back on all of it, if I had to.”
“Wow! Potter, you have it bad, don’t you? How long have you known this person? By the way, is it a wizard or a witch?”
A knock on the door interrupted Harry’s response. Tea and sandwiches were set on the table. John gave a confused look at Draco seeing the Scotch out at this time of day. “Not a word, John, not a word.”
“Yes, sir,” the young man said as he left the room.
“Well, bloke or bird?” Draco said as he poured the tea.
Harry added sugar and milk to his. “Both,” Harry finally replied.
“Both? A hermaphrodite?”
“No, you git. She’s both. Half the time she is female and other half male. I never know until I show up. It’s part of the game, or used to be. I don’t know which she truly is, nor do I care.”
The grey eyes widened and didn’t blink. “You don’t care? But you say her and she.”
“That’s what she prefers to be called,” Harry said as he smiled. The memories of those early times when Jolene hesitantly explained what her preferences were. “And, Draco, you should know one other thing. I’ve always worn a magical blindfold. I’ve never seen her.”
Draco set down the sandwich he was about to bite. “You’re not kidding, are you? Fuck, how long has this been going on?”
“Over two years.”
The long blond ponytail swung as Draco shook his head. “So you want me to protect your lover who you’ve never seen and you don’t know if she’s male or female?”
“Yes,” Harry responded as if the task was an easy one.
Draco rocked in his chair for a moment, and then spun it around to face the view of London. “May I ask how you can feel this deeply for someone you don’t know?”
Harry thought he heard a slight crack in Draco’s voice as he asked the question. Maybe, he thought, he would understand.
“I didn’t say I didn’t know her. I know her. I know her favourite colour is purple; she loves Cabernet, but detests Zinfandel. She loves soft things against her skin, but also enjoys lace. She loves her family, but doesn’t speak of them, yet I know she wants a child of her own. I know she’s intelligent, witty, compassionate, and I know she’s a Slytherin.”
The chair flew back around. “How would you know that?” Draco hissed.
Draco’s response startled Harry, but then he thought that Draco was worried about this type of person being in his former House.
“Because only a Slytherin could lead such a double life, one where one’s true self remains hidden for so long.”
“Snape,” Draco whispered aloud as if talking to himself.
Harry confirmed the answer with a wry grin.
Draco picked up his cup of tea and slowly sipped from it. Harry was thinking it might be time to go and began to stir in his chair. “So you believe that your lover’s true self is what she exposes to you?” Draco asked, putting a stop to Harry’s reaction to leave.
“Yes, but why are you so interested in this? I mean seriously, Draco, you and I have barely spoken more than a few sentences to each other in our whole lifetime.”
A generous laugh erupted from Draco. “True, but I have to admit this is the most fascinating conversation I’ve had in years, and I also admit I’m surprised we are discussing your sex life.”
“Love life,” Harry corrected him. “I haven’t told you anything about the sex we have, besides the use of the potion and blindfold.”
“Point taken. So will you tell me why you think what she reveals to you is her true self?”
Harry mulled over his thoughts before answering. It would be the first time he said aloud what he had been thinking for the last two years, and for some reason he wanted someone to know. Talking with Draco, he realized, was cathartic and he was feeling better. He also knew it wouldn’t go any farther due to the oath.
“I think Jolene, that’s the name she goes by, hasn’t fully accepted that her hidden lifestyle is okay. I think she’s scared to make that choice and what others will think. I’m sure she has a professional life where no one would guess what she keeps in her closet or in her bedside table drawer. I also believe she’s nervous that I would reject her if I knew her identity.”
Harry looked out of the windowed wall to his left; the intensity of Draco’s stare was uncomfortable. “And you are sure you wouldn’t?” Draco asked.
“Positive. I love her and I will wait for her to work the situation out.”
“What if she never does?” Draco said so softly Harry strained to hear his voice.
“Then I will take what she can give.”
“What if she leaves you and decides that her other life is too important to risk exposure?”
Harry gave a small laugh and turned back to Draco. “I will go to Hogwarts, teach Potions, and watch my stag Patronus turn into a doe.”
Draco chuckled. “I know there’s an inside joke about Snape in there somewhere.”
“Yeah, there is. I don’t know what I will do, probably just muddle on with my current life, and worry and wonder about her.”
“Have you told her that you love her?”
“No, but I’m sure she knows.”
“Why not? Maybe that’s what she needs to hear.”
“It’s complicated.” Harry sighed. He crossed his left leg over his right knee and picked at the creases in his suit trousers. “I don’t want to pressure her. The decision has to be hers. If she wants me, and wants to live out her life in the manner that I think she does, then she’ll let me …” Harry stopped talking for a moment as he had a sudden insight. “She will let me know.” He then uncrossed his leg and leant forward towards Draco. “You see, Draco, that is why I can’t risk having her found out. While she is not fragile, the situation is, and the decision has to be hers. I don’t want her exposed and forced into it.”
A deep sigh was heard and if Harry didn’t know better, he would believe that he had touched Draco’s heart. The wizard’s grey eyes were glistening as if wet. “How would she let you know that she was ready to make her decision and wanted to hear those words from you?”
Harry cocked his head to the side, still staring into the face of his former nemesis. Draco quickly broke the gaze and began putting away the decanter and glasses.
“I don’t know, maybe it would be as simple as her saying I’m ready.”
“Potter, I have another appointment in a few minutes,” Draco said without looking up as he finished his task in the drawer, brought out a notebook, and ruffled through the pages.
Harry stood up. “So will you take Katie’s case?”
Draco stopped in the middle of whatever page he was reading. “Yes, but I will not accept your money.”
“No,” Draco said firmly as he finally looked up and met Harry’s stare. “I’ll do it pro bono; after all, I believe I owe her something after sixth year. Don’t you agree?”
Harry shook his head. “I swear I’ll never stop being surprised by you Slytherins.”
Draco laughed and walked around the desk and held out his hand. Harry gripped it in response, without hesitation; it was warm and soft. “I’ll protect your Jolene,” Draco said gently as they shook hands. Harry glanced down at their joined hands; a feeling of familiarity came over him, he expected to feel rings and there were none.
“I will hold you to that , Malfoy,” Harry replied uneasily to Draco’s words and touch. He released their clasp and turned towards the door.
“Wait,” Draco said and came up close to Harry. “This has been irritating me since you entered my office.” He reached over and straightened Harry’s tie. Harry grinned warily at the gesture and for a moment, their eyes locked. Draco turned away and Harry left the office.
Harry removed his jacket, hanging it on the coat rack, and then sank into the chair of his office. It was the first time he had sat there since before his trip. The worn material of the chair could easily be replaced, but it was comfortable and moulded around his body. He looked down at his calendar, which was filled with meetings and appointments for the next week. He wondered when the job had stopped being fun. The meeting with Malfoy consumed his thoughts. He began to feel the regret of having said too much, but another feeling of relief was competing with those thoughts. A strong knock on the door brought him back to reality; he motioned to Ron to sit down when he entered.
“We missed you at lunch,” Ron said as he sat down across from Harry. As far as Harry was concerned, it was Ron’s chair and the cushioning had probably formed to fit his arse too.
“Yeah, sorry about that. I had some errands to run. So any updates in the last few hours?”
Harry’s administrator entered the room, bringing both of them fizzy drinks.
Ron waited until she had left. “Not much, no one is talking. What do you think we should do next? Hermione’s getting a bit panicked finding nothing to hold these freaks on.”
Harry drank the carbonated liquid and then cleared his throat. He knew this next conversation might not go well, but he had hopes it might. “Ron, you’re heading the case. You do what you think needs to be done. I’m officially removing myself from it. I don’t agree with the raid and it wouldn’t have happened if I’d been here.”
Ron’s blue eyes bulged. “You—you think... Hell, I know what you said in there about being the moral enforcers, but fuck, you have to think it’s strange.”
“Strange? Maybe. Do I think they are freaks? No.”
Ron stood up and paced back and forth in front of Harry’s old desk. He stopped in mid-stride and focused on Harry. “You knew about the place, didn’t you?”
“Ron, anything I say right now is off the record. This is a conversation between friends. Understood?”
Ron immediately made his way back to his chair. “Yeah, mate, understood.”
Harry undid the cuff buttons on his long-sleeved shirt and began rolling them up. The office temperature seemed to have risen by ten degrees.
“I did know about Katie’s Place. I’ve known about it for years and I would’ve been aware of anything illegal going on there.”
“But-but-but downstairs…” Ron stuttered.
“Yes, downstairs there were various rooms one could rent and play out sexual fantasies in. Everything was consensual.”
Harry controlled himself from laughing at Ron’s horrified expression. “Yes, I played down there, and beyond that it is none of your business. I don’t ask what you and Hermione do behind closed doors. You are my best friend, Ron, but there are things we don’t share, things we only share with our lovers.”
Ron’s face had whitened. He picked up the glass and drank the contents down in one long gulp. Harry waited for customary belch to follow. He wasn’t disappointed. “So what happens if your name comes up?”
Harry stroked his stubbled chin and jaw line. “I have nothing to hide. If it comes up, I will weather the publicity storm. It won’t be the first time and it won’t be the last. I don’t want my status, position, or friendship to get in the way of this investigation, okay?”
“Sure, mate,” Ron said and then stood up to leave.
“Ron,” Harry said as he reached the door.
“That doesn’t mean I don’t want updates.”
Ron nodded and left Harry’s office.