Actions

Work Header

Shibboleths

Chapter Text

June 2013

Malfoy was hired at Hogwarts exactly three days after his five years of house arrest (and further seven years of—entirely self-imposed—exile) ended. Harry knew because he pitched a fantastic fit that morning in the Headmistress’s office.

“You can’t be serious.”

The discussion started very politely, very earnestly, very—in Harry’s opinion—reasonably.

“Quite serious,” said Minerva, and Harry really should’ve taken note of the rolled ‘r’ in her tone, which would have indicated to any reasonable person that she was nearing the end of her rope, but Harry was quite adamant. He had enough Slytherins to deal with at meals and staff meetings. They weren’t terrible people, but they glared a lot and seemed to find everything amusing, even when they were just discussing the roster for the house Quidditch teams, and Harry didn’t want to be out-numbered.

Adding Malfoy to an already Slytherin-heavy mix was just too much for Harry’s health and well-being.

“It’s not that he’s evil or anything, in case that’s what you’re thinking. I know that’s what everyone always thinks when I lodge a complaint against anything Malfoy-related,” he felt compelled to add.

Though, come to think of it, he hadn’t had any reason to lodge a complaint against Malfoy in twelve years—and he’d rather hoped to keep it that way.

Minerva looked up from her letter and gave him a flat look.

Harry uncrossed his legs and crossed them again the other direction. “It’s just—and if I may—he’s such a twat, Headmistress. And don’t we have enough of the twatty sort of Slytherins on staff as it is? There’s Pansy, for example. I have to share Heads of House meetings with her every week as it is. This is putting me under a great deal of strain and I fear my students will suffer the brunt of it.”

Minerva snorted. “You get on fine with Professor Parkinson now. I don’t see why after a few weeks in Professor Malfoy’s company, you won’t soften to him, as well.”

He grimaced, imagining what ‘softening to Malfoy’ would entail.

“I don’t know that I want to. It doesn’t feel…natural.”

“Harry,” Minerva said. He looked up. “We need an Ancient Cultures and Casting instructor to round out the new history curriculum and stay competitive with Beauxbatons—and which, I may remind you, you voted in favour of—and he’s the only British expert with both the qualifications and the desire to work for a teacher’s pay.”

He sighed. This was what defeat felt like. If he was honest with himself, Harry had known before he ever came up the spiral stairs that there was no getting rid of Malfoy. Not now that he’d signed the teaching contract.

Harry really didn’t even know why he cared so much. It wasn’t like Malfoy was a bad bloke (anymore). In truth, he’d been rather decent the few times they’d run into one another during Malfoy’s very rare and very brief returns to Britain after his house arrest ended.

There was just…something. Just a little twinge of annoyance at Malfoy not even letting Harry be a professor without barging in to do it, too. This was Harry’s life; he’d made a home here at Hogwarts. He’d made a name for himself as an expert in Muggle relations and not as just the Boy-Who-Lived. He liked his job and his life, and…what if Malfoy ruined it?

Still, he knew a lost cause with Minerva. He tried for some levity: “I know. I just feel really compelled to die on this hill, you know? It’s my last battle.”

Which was as honest as he was getting with her today.

“I do understand,” she admitted. “To this day, I cherish a longstanding mutual despisement with Agnes Cornfoot, who troubled me greatly in my Transfiguration studies. ‘How dare she try to overtake my marks?’ I always thought. But I believe I did get the last laugh when she broke her hip last summer sitting down upon a chair she’d Transfigured from a feather duster just as her spell failed.”

They stared at one another for several long moments.

“You’re mocking me, aren’t you?” Harry asked.

Minerva’s lips twitched. “Perhaps.”

He sighed. “Fine, I’ll ‘make an effort’,” he said, holding up his fingers in air quotes.

“I’ve no doubt you’re equal to the task, Professor Potter,” she said briskly. “Now, don’t you have your summer trips to schedule with Professor Dursley? I know the students anxiously await your owls.”

Oh, well. At least he’d tried.

Ron would never let him live it down if he didn’t.

Harry picked himself up from the lovely tartan chair and made his way out of the Headmistress’s office. He supposed he should walk down to Hogsmeade and finalise the details for the students’ summer trips.

What on earth had possessed him to add in extra work for himself and Dudley every sodding summer?

It was lapses in judgement such as thinking more time with students was a good thing that got people like Malfoy hired on at Hogwarts as Professors of Ancient Cultures and Casting. Who the fuck cared about ancient spells? No one even used them anymore.

Apparently Malfoy, who’d spent an entire five-year house arrest reading about them like the annoying swot he was.

Harry checked his watch. If he was quick, he’d have time to stop in at Gin and Luna’s to have dinner with his son. His last night free of Malfoy.

*

“Do we really have to? Like, really really?”

Draco glared at Scorpius. “Yes, we really, really do.”

Scorpius, at all of seven years of age, had already mastered the unimpressed stare Draco had not managed until sixteen. Draco blamed this on the example set by Scorpius’s maternal grandparents every time they looked at Draco. Which was fine—he was no longer obligated to see them again, and everyone was quite fine with that.

“Mummy will be there, remember?” Draco said. “It’ll be really fun to see Mummy every day, right? You always get excited when she comes to spend the summers with us, remember?”

‘Remember?’ seemed to make up more and more of Draco’s vocabulary since Scorpius started talking.

“I do wanna see Mummy. I just like my friends,” said Scorpius. “And I won’t have any there.”

Draco nearly said, ‘You’ll make some, don’t worry,’ but then remembered Scorpius would be the only child his age there. Plenty of teenagers, but Hogwarts was hardly a place for seven-year-olds. He frowned, unconsciously channelling his father before he remembered himself and said, “There will be children at your new school to be friends with.”

“Fine,” Scorpius said.

Desultory—but neatly—Scorpius continued packing his favourite plushies into his travel bag. Draco had already packed up their flat. The furniture, linens, dishes, clothes, and so on were shrunk and stacked neatly in his suitcase. He didn’t know what McGonagall would provide with his suite of rooms, but any deficiencies could always be made up for with a trip to the Manor.

Although, if it came to that, he’d never get away in time to finish his lesson plans before his meeting with the Headmistress. It was very hard to say no when Narcissa Malfoy was pouring wine down one’s throat and prying for updates on one’s life.

The last thing Draco packed were his books. An entire wall of their flat worth of books. Some he’d had from childhood, when he first developed an interest in Atlantis and other lost magical civilisations. Others were newer ones he’d had to trek the world to get his hands on. His most recent acquisition was a lucky find from Crete with an alleged firsthand account from an Atlantean sailor who’d been trading in the Americas when his home disappeared.

True or not, it was worth every outrageous Euro, if only for the spell he’d found in the margins that prevented seasickness. It’d saved Draco’s shirt when he took Scorpius sailing last month.

They finished their packing and Draco took one last tour through the flat, looking for any forgotten items or damage to fix so there would be no issues getting his deposit back. The Malfoys didn’t gain their wealth by throwing it away needlessly—a lesson he was careful to instil in Scorpius whenever they went through a museum gift shop.

Finally, they were ready. The Portkey McGonagall had secured for them from the Ministry was waiting on the kitchen counter next to his signed contract: a small toy automobile with flames painted down the sides.

“Let’s go see Mummy then, shall we?” Draco said brightly.

Scorpius gave him that unimpressed look again, but shouldered his knapsack full of plushies and held his hand out to Apparate.

“We’re taking a Portkey this time,” Draco said. “Remember? You took one to see Granny at Christmas.”

“It made me ill,” Scorpius said, curling his lip.

Fair point. Draco cast the Atlantean anti-seasickness spell on him, then held the car out. Scorpius pressed one finger to it, and Draco would have strangled him if it weren’t exactly the same sort of whinging protest he himself would’ve pulled at that age. Instead, he wrapped an arm around Scorpius’s small shoulder to make sure he didn’t get flung out when they landed, and activated the Portkey.

Portus.”

The magic pulled them away. Far away from Greece and the home they’d lived in since Scorpius was born. Away from Scorpius’s friends and towards a job Draco still wasn’t sure he was ready for.

*

Malfoy moved in with barely a word to anyone, which did not annoy Harry at all.

The Slytherins in residence—Pansy, Millicent, Adrian Pucey, Astoria Greengrass, and Theo Nott—all apparently trouped up to Malfoy’s quarters in his tower the day he arrived; Harry understood from Luna the next day that it had been a dazzling, delightful welcome party, but that she couldn’t tell him anything further without breaking a number of sacred confidences. He was not jealous, even when he found out that Dudley had managed an invite, too—apparently Millicent’s doing.

“I’m sure you understand,” Luna said gravely. She still had silver tinsel in her hair, which Harry was certain had not been brushed yet, despite them all sitting down to breakfast. He said nothing, as he hadn’t brushed his all summer.

“Oh, sure,” he said. And then, to be a good conversationalist, “But you had a good time?”

“A lovely time,” she assured him. “Isn’t it wonderful that Hogwarts finally has a fair representation of Slytherins on its staff?”

“Is it really fair, though?” Harry asked. “There’s at least half dozen of them here now, if you count Vector.”

Luna pondered this. “Yes, but we have twenty-eight teaching staff, so really we do need one more Slytherin. Although, with Fleur and Flora Fortescue having gone to Beauxbatons, and Dudley being a Muggle, I suppose we could argue it’s still—technically—fair.”

“I don’t mind the Slytherins, really,” Harry said. “I’m just a bit annoyed that we had to meet the quota with Malfoy.”

Luna nodded sagely, taking a long sip of her pineapple juice and coffee blend. Harry tried not to sick up in his own mouth. “I do understand, Harry. Perhaps you should speak to Professor Snape. He always seems to bring you back from the very edge of despair.”

“It’s not quite the edge of despair,” he insisted.

“Oh, good,” said Luna. “Then he should snap you right out of this Draco depression.”

She smiled at him, finished off her pineapple coffee, gave him a little pat on the shoulder, and then stood from the breakfast table. “I’m off to help Minerva with lesson plans. Do remember you’re taking Albus tonight so Ginny and I can go to the Rihanna concert. Have a good day and shine bright like a diamond, Harry!”

“Shine bright like a diamond,” he muttered to her retreating back. “I’ll pick him up from Molly’s after lunch!” he added.

Luna waved at him over her shoulder.

Being one of the few early risers on staff, Harry was left alone at the breakfast table in the Great Hall, save for Flitwick, who was squinting at the morning Prophet over his spectacles down the other end. Despite also being an early riser, Flitwick did not gain his full personality until at least eight or nine. Harry took another piece of toast from the basket and loaded it up with butter, crunching desultorily at it.

How was it that Luna always made him feel so melodramatic? Maybe he should give up this good fight over Malfoy teaching at Hogwarts. Malfoy was only an elective teacher, after all. It wasn’t like he was the Slytherin Head of House and Harry would have to see him constantly. (No, that was just Parkinson.)

Just then, the Great Hall doors opened and Malfoy came warily in. He sat down across from Flitwick, glanced over the array of breakfast foods, and then Summoned a banana and a yoghurt. As if he’d heard Harry’s thoughts, Malfoy looked up at him with an excessively unimpressed stare. He mimed looking around, as if Harry surely wasn’t staring at him, and then finished with a heavy-lidded eye-roll in Harry’s direction.

What a twat.

This was to be Harry’s life, he supposed. A job he finally enjoyed (after that disastrous six months in Auror training) ruined by generalised, chronic discomfort because of Draco Malfoy. Who was much more tan than he’d been last time Harry ran into him.

Oh, fuck it all.

Harry had lesson plans to work on and he needed to stop devoting mental energy to Malfoy, who was not worth it, despite pulling off skin darker than his own hair very well.

Harry tossed his half-eaten toast back on the plate and stood. Malfoy ignored him. Then Harry changed his mind and grabbed the toast again. Ms Danger would eat it—and if she smelt it on his hands and he didn’t come back with any for her, he’d never get anything done today.

*