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I Wouldn't Want To Live In A World Without Grudges -Volume 1

Chapter Text

Draco sat in the Headmaster’s office, eyes locked on the ground. He could hear the portraits on the wall whispering, and it took all his concentration to block their words out. He already knew what they were saying anyway. Lucius Malfoy had tried to kill Harry Potter, he had almost killed the little Weasley girl. Students were hurt. A giant snake. There wasn’t a person in the wizarding world who wouldn’t know by the time the Prophet was delivered the next day.  

 

He had been surprised when his father had come to the school. Lucius had seemed very excited about something, the board of Governors would be meeting soon and Dumbledore would be out on his ass for not protecting the students from Slytherin’s serpent. It had all seemed so certain. The board would need to appoint someone else to run the school, and Lucius would cash in some of his many favors to make sure the right sort of wizard got the job. Draco had never seen his father so excited, the man had practically oozed malicious glee.

 

That was before Dobby showed up, and Lucius got caught in a hallway with his wand out, threatening Potter. It had all fallen apart, the whole plan unraveling around him. Lucius had been under investigation by the Ministry since the disappearance of Lord Voldemort. His money and status, along with claims of being under the Imperius Curse, had protected him from being sent to Azkaban along with many other Death Eaters. But it had not kept the aurors from keeping close surveillance on him when he was not protected by the charms and wards around Malfoy Manor.

 

Once Potter had emerged from the Chamber of Secrets with the little Weasley girl and the tattered diary, the events had become quite clear. An auror had indeed witnessed Lucius and his son in Flourish and Blotts the day the Weasley’s had been there. Tom Riddle’s Diary was traced back to Malfoy, and the freed house elf, Dobby, had been more than willing to divulge his former master’s secrets to the authorities. Lucius had been dragged out of Hogwarts in chains.

 

“Ah, Draco, I am sorry for keeping you waiting.”

 

Draco started, trance broken at the sound of the Headmaster’s voice. The old man had just come up the staircase, and Snape was standing behind him, a pained expression on his face.

 

“Hello sir,” Draco mumbled, eyes going back to the ground. The carpet in the office was a bit worn in some spots, he wondered how old it was. The house elves at Hogwarts were terrible compared to the ones at the manor.

 

“Draco,” Snape took a steadying breath. “Draco, your father has been taken into custody. It will take some times for the trial and sentencing but right now he is being held by the ministry.”

 

Draco nodded mutely. He had known this was a possibility. Had known it for years, his parents involvement in dark magic and ties to the Death Eaters was something he had been aware of for some time. Numerous ex Death eaters and supporters of You Know Who were frequent visitors.

 

“Your mother…” Snape hesitated, unsure of how to explain the situation. “Is gone.”

 

“Gone?” Draco whipped his head around to look at the older Slytherin.

 

Snape winced slightly at the look on the boy’s face. “She fled as soon as she got word that Lucius had been captured. We haven’t located her, but most likely she has gotten help form contacts of your aunt’s.”

 

“Ah. Aunt Bellatrix.” Draco leaned back in the chair, head spinning with the news. His mother was gone, most likely disappearing to the continent to seek refuge with other dark wizards and and witches. “And if she returns?”

 

“She would be arrested and tried, same as your father. There is evidence she was aware of his plans, even if she didn’t do anything directly,” Snape answered.

 

Draco nodded. It made sense. His mother didn’t share Lucius’ ambition, surely, but there had never been secrets between the two. Whatever his father had done, his mother was just as guilty.

 

Dumbledore circled around draco and took a seat at his desk, settling back in his seat and steepling his fingers in front of him. “Draco, first I must express my sadness at this situation. Your parents have left you in a difficult place.”

 

Draco nodded. It still hadn’t really sunk in, it felt more like a nightmare. He couldn’t shake the feeling that at any moment he might wake up, comfy and warm in his bed in the dorms.

 

“Since your parents are…” Dumbledore searched for a word. “Unavailable, and you are still under age, you will need to be placed in the care of an adult witch or wizard.”

 

Draco glanced at Snape out of the corner of his eye. He knew Severus had been appointed to be his guardian in the event that something had happened to his parents. The man was pointedly not meeting his gaze, eyes locked on some point on the far wall of the room instead.

 

“Professor, I was under the impression that in the event my parents were not able to care for me, Professor Snape would be my guardian,” Draco said flatly.

 

Dumbledore ignored the boy for a moment, instead diverting his attention to the large crystal bowl of candy on his desk. “Would you like a jelly baby?” he asked, pushing the brightly colored gummies forward.

 

Draco’s lip curled in distaste. “No, thank you.” He had no idea what the candies were but they had the distinct look of a muggle sweet.

 

Dumbledore shrugged and looked to Snape, who also declined. “Well alright,” Dumbledore said, popping a few into his mouth. “The problem is, Draco, that your parents are being charged with crimes related to Voldemort and Severus was known to be a Death eater. Putting you in his care in these circumstances would be seen as an irresponsible. We simply cannot allow him to be your custodial guardian at this time.”

 

“Then who will be watching me?” Draco demanded, a feeling of panic rising in his stomach.

 

Dumbledore opened his mouth to respond, but stopped at the sound of feet coming up the stairs. “Ah, here they are now.”

 

Draco spun in his chair, eyes going wide at the people he saw. The Weasleys. The parents, he didn’t know their names, but the red hair and shabby clothes left no room for mistake. He had seen them before term started, at the bookstore, herding around a small army of ginger haired brats.

 

“Hello Draco, I’m Molly.” the woman smiled sweetly and leaned down, extending a hand for him to shake.

 

Draco regarded the limb as if it were a basilisk, recoiling back into the plush upholstery of his seat. “No.” He looked at Dumbledore and shook his head. “You cannot possibly be serious.”

 

Dumbledore pulled at his beard thoughtfully. “Unfortunately Draco, your parents had very few friends or family who the Ministry could deem fit guardians. In their absence it is either be placed with the Weasleys, or be remanded to the muggle foster care system.” he let the last statement hang in the air.

 

“Hello there Draco.” Arthur stepped forward and forced a smile of his own. “I know this is all a lot to take in, but you know it shouldn't be too bad. We have a few lads of our own, so you’ll fit right in with the family.” He seemed to perk up a bit as a thought occurred to him. “You I think we’re cousins of some sort actually. Cedrella Black got cut right off her bit of the family tree for marrying a Weasley, but still there you are!”

 

“So you’re family already!” Molly grinned and clapped her hands together, abandoning her failed handshake.  

 

Draco’s already pale face went a shade whiter. It was a dream, a bad dream, a nightmare. He was not going to live with a bunch of blood traitors. And they certainly hadn’t done something as awful as suggest he was related to them. It was too much.

 

Snape cleared his throat and moved forward to shake Arthur’s hand. “Hello Arthur, Molly.” he nodded to the woman. “It’s good to see you again. I was happy to hear you would be able to take Draco in.”  

 

Molly shrugged. “Oh what’s one more? We already have a house full of children, and Harry and Hermione often visit over the Summer.” She leaned in and whispered loudly. “I actually love having the house full, feels cozy.”

 

Arthur turned to Draco. “Well then, it seems everything is settled. Why don’t you head down to the dorms and collect your things. You can come back with us right after the school feast, that way you have time to get sorted.”

 

Draco recoiled slightly, eyes boring a hole into Snape’s skull. The man refused to look at him. “Home...with you…” he echoed hollowly. He felt lightheaded. This was a joke, or a nightmare. He was certain his next encounter with a boggart would leave him staring at the smiling, freckled, faces of the couple staring down at him.

 

Dumbledore stood, robes sweeping across the floor. “That sounds perfect. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, you will of course join us for the feast, you can eat at the staff table as our guests.” He moved behind Draco and leaned on his chair a bit, tipping the boy out of it and onto his feet.

 

Draco stumbled, body numb. He moved in a jerk mechanical motion towards the stairs, the sound of the adults behind him fading behind the dull roar of his own blood in his ears. It must have been a joke. A very bad joke.

Chapter Text

Ron’s eyes went wide as the doors to the Great Hall opened as his parents walked in, his father engrossed in a discussion with the Headmaster. His mother took a moment to slow down and glance at the Gryffindor table, frowning when she noticed the castle made of mashed potatoes the twins were in the middle of building.

“Hey isn’t that…?” Harry leaned across him to get a better look. “It is! What’re your parents doing here?”

Ron pushed Harry back before his robes got into his gravy. “No idea mate. Maybe Fred and George are finally getting expelled and they came for the occasion.” he shot a glance at his brothers and laughed. One of the other sixth years had gotten Percy’s attention and pointed out the Weasleys as they took a seat at the head table with the teachers.

Dumbledore took his place at a podium in front of the table, tapping hiw wand to get the students’ attention.

“Everybody! I would like to congratulate you all on making it through another year. I am aware this has been a trying time for us all, but we have persevered. I am sorry not everyone could be here with us this evening, but those affected by the basilisk are recovering in the Infirmary.” He gestured an arm back at the table behind him. “I would like to extend a special thank you to Professors Sprout and Snape, their mandrake root potion has been a great help in curing those paralyzed. Also, a thank you to Madame Pomfrey for her excellent care. She cannot be with us for dinner because she is overseeing the very full Hospital Wing, but we are all grateful for her hard work.”

The students clapped politely, but it was clear their attention was elsewhere. It was impossible to miss the redheads at the table in the front of the hall. The whispering and confused look towards the Gryffindor table continued as Dumbledore ploughed ahead with his end of year speech and award for the house cup.

Once Dumbledore sat down it seemed as though every table had it’s own theory about why parents might be at Hogwarts.

“I hear Mr. Weasley is gonna teach Muggle Studies next year!”

“No, the older Weasley boy did so good on his tests he’s graduating early!”

“Someone at Hufflepuff says she heard from her aunt who works at the Ministry that the Weasley’s are adopting a kid, probably gonna take home Potter!”

Fred and George added to the chaos by adding their own increasingly bizarre ideas.

“Mum and Dad are renting the castle for the Summer, only place big enough for the whole fmaily now you know.”

“I think Mum is running off with Flitwick, a torrid affair sort of thing you know.”

“No, no, I head it was Dad who was going off with Sprout, wasn’t it? He always did fancy a lady in gardening gloves.”

Percy whipped around from his spot at the end of the table and glared at the boys, obviously annoyed at them but powerless to take away points now that term had ended. “Will you two stop?” he snapped, glaring at them over the edge of a pasty.

The twins stuck their tongues out in tandem. “Oh, come on, it’s not as if you know why they’re hear either.”

Percy flushed and turned away, huffing angrily.

“Do you think they’re here because of Ginny?” Hermione asked, leaning across the table to whisper. Ron couldn’t help but notice she had a tiny bit of beef wellington stuck in her front teeth.

Ron shrugged. “I don’t think so. Ginny’s been in the Hospital wing for a bit now, and they’re down here. Not sure what’s going on really.”

The feast continued without much more fuss. The Weasley parents seemed happy enough at their spots at the head table, talking animatedly to the teachers and eating the House Elf prepared foods.

The only thing that really unsettled Ron was not at the head table, but at the Slytherin house one. Draco Malfoy had been staring at the Gryffindor table for the last hour. The only time he managed to drag his gaze away from them was when he was looking up at the table where the professors were, his eyes wide and almost haunted looking.

“Sort of sad isn’t it?”

“What?” Ron turned to find Seamus watching him.

Seamus gestured at the blond with his chin. “Malfoy. You haven’t heard about his parents?”

Ron wrinkled his nose. “Nothing other than how they’re rich pure blooded snobs.”

“Lucius Malfoy was arrested and taken in by the Ministry.” Seamus paused to take a swig of pumpkin juice.

“Padma told me Narcissa Malfoy fled the country,” Hermione added, sparing Draco a surprisingly pitying glance. “I wonder what’s going to happen to him now?”

Ron shrugged and turned his attention to pudding. “Who cares. Malfoy’s got money and probably a dozen houses. I bet he goes and stays with some of his daddy’s Death Eater friends.” He grabbed a biscuit and stuffed it into his mouth angrily. Malfoy was an ass, and not worth wasting time worrying about. If anything, people should have been excited his father was locked up like he deserved.

Eventually the feast dragged to a close and students began filing out of the hall and back to their dorms to pack for the train ride home. As Ron walked out of the door he spotted his parents waiting outside and beckoning.

“Oh, Ron! I’ve missed you!” Molly flung her arms around him and squeezed hard, nearly suffocating him with the smell of fresh baked bread and lemon soap. She pulled back after a moment and frowned, reaching up to wipe away a small bit of chocolate lingering at the corner of his mouth.

“Mum!” Ron squirmed away, bumping into his brothers as they came up behind him.

“Hello lads!” Arthur beamed at his sons. “Good work on the house cup this year, good to know Fred and George don’t upset the points too much.” He laughed and slapped the twins on the back.

“Mum, Dad, what are you doing here?” The twins asked in unison, brows raised.

Arthur glanced at Molly. “Well...you see…” He paused when he saw something over his son’s shoulders. “Oh, well here he is now!” He pushed past and grabbed a student by the back of his robes as he tried to slip away.

“Malfoy?” Ron’s eyes went wide as he watched his father practically drag the blond over. Malfoy’s face was bright red, an interesting contrast to his pale hair.

Molly stepped forward and wrapped a protective arm around the boy. “Now Ron, be polite,” she admonished. “Draco is going to be coming home with us now that term is over. We’ve just come to collect him.”

“What??” All four Weasley children gasped in unison.

“Mum, you must be joking!” Fred protested.

“Dad, have you gone loony?” George demanded.

“Mum, we can’t, he can’t...He’s Malfoy!” Ron sputtered.

Draco ignored all of them, choosing instead to keep his gaze trained steadily on the floor.

“Now I will have none of that!” Molly warned, raising her finger. “I know for a fact I’ve raised you all right. We don’t turn away people in need.”

“Like Malfoy needs anything we have,” Ron muttered under his breath, glaring at the other boy.

“Ronald!” Arthur snapped. “I know how gossip spreads around this school like dragon pox. You know draco’s parents are…” He struggled for a moment to find a delicate word. He had a history with Lucius Malfoy and it wasn’t a pleasant one. “Gone. Draco doesn’t have any other family that can take him in so we will.”

Molly fixed her children with a stare that left no room for argument, and then nodded. “Now, Draco is going to leave with us tonight, so he can come back home and get settled. The rest of you, we will see at Kings Cross.” She leaned forward and pecked each child on the cheek, choosing to ignore how the three youngest wiped their faces with their sleeves after.

Ron watched his parents walk off with Draco to collect his things, mind racing. “Was that real” he asked, grabbing one of the twins by the sleeve. “Did that really happen? Malfoy is going to be living with us?”

Fred shook him off and laughed. “Yeah, have fun with your new roommate Ronniekins!”

George snickered.

“Roommate?” Ron asked hollowly. “Why’s he gonna be my roommate?”

“It’s not like he can stay with Ginny,” George pointed out.

“I need my own space to study if I’m going to be Head Boy,” Percy pointed out.

“And I’m already rooming with George,” Fred added. “That leaves you.”

Ron groaned and trudged off towards Gryffindor tower, visions of his bedroom decked out in Slytherin green already haunting him.

Chapter Text

Draco managed to slip into the Slytherin common room without being noticed. Post feast the dorms were in a sort of state of chaos, with people gathering up their things and packing and celebrating the end of term papers and tests. A few of the seventh years who had done poorly on their exams were huddled by the fire, passing a flask of firewhiskey back and forth and commiserating over how much trouble they were going to be in when they got home. A first year was most of the way under one of the long low couches, trying to lure out a cat with a treat.

Draco shuffled past all of them with his head down and managed to make it into his room without issue. He was one of the lucky students, privileged with a private room. He hurried in and slammed the door behind him, leaning against it and breathing hard. It had taken every bit of his Malfoy charm and Slytherin cunning to convince the Weasley’s to wait outside instead of coming along with him to help him pack. His housemates would undoubtedly hear about his fate soon enough. The pureblood families were keen on gossip, and Draco Malfoy living at the Burrow was the biggest upset since the fall of He Who Must Not Be Named.

He looked around his room and sighed. The room was nice, not as nice as his rooms at the manor of course, but he had gotten used to his dormitory. The four poster bed with the green canopy and silver embroidered duvet, the worn velvet armchair. It had started to feel like a second home. He couldn’t imagine his room at the Burrow would be half as nice. He could just imagine it, a leaky tin roof, mice scurrying around in the corners, furniture falling apart. They didn’t have house elves either, so it was probably filthy.

He shuddered at the thought and then focused on his packing. It wouldn’t do for anyone to see how shaken he was. He was Malfoy, he had to keep face even in trying times. He moved methodically, gathering his books and class materials and putting them in his trunk. His father had gotten him a luxury trunk, it could fit an almost limitless amount inside, and it weighed barely a pound even when full. He folded and stowed away his normal robes as well as extra uniforms, leaving out a pair of trousers and a shirt.

He had seen the Weasley boys on the train home, they always switched into muggle clothes. That was something he would have to deal with. He didn’t own much in the way of muggle clothes, his mother and father favored robes at all times. He thought about being stuck in Ron’s oversized hand me downs and fought down a gag. No, he would have to order something via owl.

That brought another thought to mind, the Malfoy family fortune. Certainly his mother had taken some funds when she fled the country. She was a cunning woman, she would know how to take care of herself. But the Malfoy’s weren’t just rich in galleons and sickles and knuts, but in property, power and influence, and powerful magical artifacts. Draco had no idea what part of his sizable inheritance was left, or what he would be able to get out of Gringotts. He shuddered, suddenly realizing he had no idea about a great many things.

“Hey! Draco, can we come in?” A high pitched voice called out form the other side of the door, and the knob on the door rattled as someone attempted to turn it.

“Shit,” Draco muttered under his breath, giving himself a once over in the mirror to make sure he was in order before opening the door.

Pansy and Blaise breezed in. Blaise threw himself across Draco’s bed dramatically, posing himself on the coverlet as if someone were going to drag in an easel and paint him. Pansy set herself primly on the edge of the bed, lips pursed as she surveyed the packing efforts.

“So it’s true then, you’re leaving early.” Pansy sniffed delicately.

Draco rolled his eyes and busied himself with packing his quidditch gear. “Yes, tragedy of tragedies I will be missing the train ride home.” He folded up his flying robes and then set about putting his leather gear into a bag to stow away. His broom itself had a carrying bag of it’s own, but twic clippers, polishing wax and his pads all needed to be put away. The quidditch season had ended because of the attacks on students, he had barely a chance to fly all year.

“So where are you summering then?” Blaise asked, rolling over and helping himself to a piece of candy off Draco’s bedside table. Narcissa (or the Malfoy family house elves) were famous for the quality of their treat baskets in the Slytherin dorms. “I think my mother is planning on France, but I’m going to try and convince her we should visit someplace more exotic. Maybe Hawaii.”

Pancy shuddered in mock disgust. “Ugh, in tourist season it would be ghastly. And that heat.” She shook her head. “My family is doing Italy this year.”

Draco kept his head down, focusing on gathering up his personal items. “I’m not sure.” That was true enough, he wasn’t quite sure where the Weasley’s lived although he was under the impression it was in the South. “There’s plenty in England to keep me busy for the time being.”

Pansy quickly put on a face of faux sympathy.”Oh yes, Draco, we were all so sorry to hear about your parents.” She put a hand on his arm and looked up at him with huge watery eyes.

Draco patted her hand politely before sliding out of her grasp to collect his scarf and boots. If there was an upside to his parents being gone, it was that it would mean a Summer free of any parents pushing Pansy bloody Parkinson on him. Sometimes t felt as he had been born solely for the purpose of marrying a pureblood witch and having more pureblooded babies.

Blaise watched the two of them from his place on the bed and then slowly slid off the side and stood up, brushing imaginary dust off the front of his robes.

“Come on Pansy, we should go do our own packing.” He held out an arm for Pansy. “I’m sure Draco will owl.”

Pansy sighed and slowly got to her feet, clearly not ready to be dragged off quite yet. “Do be sure to write Draco, it would be a shame if I don’t get to see you till next term.” She leaned in and kissed the air to the side of Draco’s face, tilting her head for him to do the same. She smelled strongly of fake vanilla.

 Draco waited for the door to close behind them before throwing himself onto the bed and burying his head under a pillow. If he stayed there long enough there was a chance that the Weasley’s would get sick of waiting and leave without him. He only got a few moments of blessed solitude before there was a knock at his door, this one rather subdued.

“Professor,” Draco said curtly, frowning as he let Snape inside.

The man looked out of place in the dorms. It was rare that he spent time in the common room and he almost never entered the dormitory unless there was an emergency. He looked around the room for a moment before sitting gingerly on the edge of Draco’s bed.

“Draco I know you’re upset with me,” Snape began.

“Upset? I am a bit more than upset Severus!” Draco interrupted, anger boiling over. “You’re letting this happen!”

Snape stiffened a bit. “I’m sorry Draco but that isn’t entirely true. If there was a way for me to take you in I would but it simply isn’t possible.” he raised his hand as if to try and Draco with a touch, and then seemed to falter, letting his hand fall back to his lap.

Draco sniffed indignantly. “Have you at least heard from my parents?” he asked, trying to keep the edge of hopefulness out of his voice. “One of them at least?”

Snape shook his head. “No, no one has any idea where your mother has gone. I have gotten into contact with anyone I could think of and none have heard from her since your father’s arrest.” He paused and took a steadying breath before continuing. “Your father has tried to reach out, but the ministry is restricting his communication. Due to the nature of his crimes he has barely even been allowed to speak with a lawyer.”

Draco nodded, blinking back the threat of tears. Malfoys didn’t cry, especially not in front of other people. “I see.”

Snape ran a hand over his face, rubbing at his eyes tiredly. “I know this hard Draco. But I promise I will try and look out for you as much as I can.”

“Oh, you’re going to come and check up on me at the Burrow?” Draco snapped, voice dripping with sarcasm.

“Yes actually,” Snape replied, trying to keep the bite out of his own voice. “I know there is no love lost between your family and theirs but they are…” he sighed and deflated somewhat. “They are good people Draco. They will do their best, and I will come and see you over the Summer when I can to make sure you settle in.”

“I look forward to seeing you then,” Draco replied, voice carefully even. “Now, if you will excuse me, I must finish packing. I do not wish to keep the Weasley’s waiting much longer.” He opened the door for the Professor and stood there, back ramrod straight and eyes trained on the far wall while he waited for the man to leave.

“I’m sorry Draco,” Snape murmured, just loud enough for the boy to hear, as he walked out, robes swishing behind him.

Chapter Text

Draco met the Weasleys outside the castle, on the gravel path the carriages used. Waiting beside them was a monster.

Draco stopped in his tracks, eyeing the thing skeptically. “What is that?”

Arthur grinned and slapped the thing with his palm. “It’s a Lincoln!” He hurried around the massive car and opened the boot so Draco could load in his trunk. “It’s an American car, not the newest car out there, but i got a rather good deal on it.”

Draco moved towards the car hesitantly, as if he expected it to jump forward and bite him. “Are we going to drive from Scotland to The Burrow?” He asked, sidling around the back of car.

Molly shook her head. “Oh no dear, we can fly right home with this.” She let herself into the passenger seat and pulled a bundle of knitting out of her purse. “Shouldn’t take too long.”

“I see.” Draco stared at the car, weighing his chances of making a break for the Forbidden Forest.

“Now, come along son.” Arthur nudged Draco into the back, closing the door after him before the blond could voice his opinion on being called “son” by a Weasley.

A moment later he slid into the driver’s seat and after a moment fiddling with the clutch, the car rumbled to life, slowly raising into the air. The engine coughed and for a moment they hung in the air, just off the ground, and then there was a banging sound under the hood and the car rocketed straight up.

Draco spent the first part of the trip with a white knuckle grip on his seatbelt, certain that at any moment the car would fall out of the sky. Cars were a muggle thing, even spelled ones. His father had never been a fan of such things, prefering to have his family travel by more traditional methods like portkey or floo.

Arthur chattered happily as they flew, explaining the complicated featherweight charms and levitation spells, and how they had been connected to the engine, so they didn’t have to be repeated each time the car was used. It was all rather complicated, with a good deal about muggle machinery thrown in, but he seemed excited by the mechanics as much as the spellcrafting.

After an hour Draco managed to slide across the large bench seat and peek out of the window. The cra was flying high, higher than a brook would normally be, and it was amazing to see the landscape whizzing by beneath them. Despite himself, Draco found himself pressed up against the glass, trying to see through the clouds and treetops. Once or twice he was certain he had caught sight of the train tracks the Hogwarts Express ran on.

Draco leaned against the window and watched the view, eventually falling asleep. He woke up when the car touched the ground, the rumble of the magically enhanced engine suddenly dying down. They were parked in front of a tall ramshackle structure, and draco could hear the clucking of chickens in the distance.

“We’re here!” Molly folded up her knitting and stuffed it into her bag. “Come along, I can show you around while Arthur brings in your things.”

Draco got out of the car, blinking in the bright sunshine. The house in front of him was unlike anything he had seen before. He had always assumed the weasley home was small, but it was actually massive. It looked as though several houses had been haphazardly piled on top of one another. Around the back of the house were massive garden beds and a large chicken enclosure.

Molly grabbed Draco by the arm and walked him around the outside of the house, pointing out the various vegetable plants, and occasionally pausing to chase off a gnome from chewing on an unripe tomato. The chickens rushed to the fenced edge of their pen when they approached, clucking loudly and scratching at the ground.

“Don’t mind the chickens dear,” Molly said, seeing Draco draw back form the fence. “They like to make a fuss but their nice enough to anyone who feeds them.”

Draco nodded but kept an eye on the birds as they flapped about and scratched at the dirt. He hadn’t realized live chickens were quite so...big. It was a bit unsettling. He hurried away form them and after Molly as she continued on. Past the gardens was a massive field of tall grass, spotted here and there with large trees.

“We haven’t decided what to do with the field yet, but for now the boys like using it to practice quidditch during the holidays,” Molly explained. “You like quidditch don’t you?”

Draco nodded. “Yes, I was going to try and play on the Slytherin team.”

Molly smiled. “Oh good! You and the boys will certainly get along then.” She patted him on the head and headed back toward the house.

Inside the house seemed even more over the top. It seemed like all the furniture was from different decades, none of it from a single set. The couch was squashy and covered in what looked like homemade pillows with needlepoint designs. A sleepy, old looking owl dozed on a perch in the corner, a small pile of shed feathers scattered around the floor beneath it. The entire house seemed to smell like fresh bread and vanilla.

Arthur caught Draco as he walked in. “Hey, why don’t you come and see your new room?”

Draco followed the man up a number of twisting staircases and down a few cramped halls until they stopped at a door with a Chudley Cannon pennant on the door.

“You’re going to be staying with Ron, our youngest son.” Arthur opened the door and stepped inside, pulling the blond boy behind him.

The room was not what Draco had expected. It was larger, for one thing, with a sloping ceiling and exposed beams. There were two beds, pushed against opposite walls. One of them was covered in what looked like a home sewed Chudley Cannons bedspread. The other was still bare, just a mattress on an old wooden frame, with Draco’s trunk at the foot. Along the walls were dozens of shelves, filled with books on quidditch, broom maintenance kits, chocolate frog cards, and broken Zonko’s products.

It looked nothing like Draco’s room at the manor, with it’s massive canopied bed, and large fireplace. The room had been decorated by his mother in shades of grey and cold blues. Looking around his new room, Draco longed to be there, so much it almost physically hurt. If he concentrated he could smell it, pine wood smoke and lemon cleaner and beeswax candles. Ron’s room smelled like broom polish and cotton and something that was just distinctly teenage boy.

Arthur walked into the center of the room and drew his wand. “I see Molly went ahead and put an extra bed in here, but you’re going to need some room for your things, hmm?” He muttered a spell under his breath, tapped the wall twice, and then gave the wall a hard shove. The wall gave way, sliding back to create a few feet more space. When he was satisfied Arthur nodded to himself and tapped the wall again, giving it a small shove to make sure it was fixed back in place. “There we go that should do it.”

Draco forced a smile. “Thank you.”

Arthur leaned down to be on Draco’s level. “I know it’s a lot to get used to, but you go ahead and unpack. I’ll see what string I can pull at the ministry, maybe we can go to your family home and pick up some of your things.” He stood up and brushed some dust off his robes. “Now, I’m off to run a few errands. You unpack.” He left draco alone in the room, closing the door behind him.

Draco looked around for a moment and then sank onto the bare mattress of the spare bed, cringing as the mattress springs squeaked in protest. He kicked at his trunk listlessly, there was so little in it. Most of this belongings were still at the manor, and he had no idea when he would be able to get them, or if he ever would.

“Fuck.”

Chapter Text

Ron boarded the train slowly, dragging his feet on the ground. Harry and Hermione hurried ahead of him, jostling past other students to grab an empty compartment. He walked past an open door and saw Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson sitting inside, huddled by a window. Crabbe and Goyle were sitting across from them, looking a bit lost without Malfoy between them.

“So, looking forward to the lifestyle upgrade Weasley?”

Ron stopped and spun around, nearly tripping over the hem of his robe. “What wassat?”

Pansy sneered at him, a licorice wand clutched in her manicured fist. “Don’t play dumb Weasley,” she paused to consider for a moment, tapping her chin with the candy. “Or, maybe it’s not playing for you, huh?”

Blaise made a half hearted attempt to cover his snickering with a fake cough, watching with interest. Crabbe and Goyle remained wholly absorbed in their packets of jelly slugs.

“What do you want Parkinson?” Ron snapped, blushing a bit. Pansy was a nasty witch, there was no denying, but it wasn’t that often any girl other than Hermione paid attention to him.

“Everyone’s heard Weasley,” Parkinson snarled. “Your parents are trying to turn the Malfoy family tragedy to their advantage. They took in Draco so they could try and get their filthy blood traitor hands on his family fortune.”

Blaise watched Ron’s face for a reaction, biting delicately at the edge of a sugar quill.

Ron’s face contorted with anger. “What the bloody hell are you talking about?” He huffed through his nose. “My family is only helping out that prat because everyone else he knows is under suspicion of being a dark witch or wizard.”

“So your family is just taking in the son of a well known Death Eater out of the goodness of their hearts?” Blaise asked lazily, face still perfectly calm.

“You know, some people are actually capable of such things.” Hermione popped up behind Ron, hand pressing gently on his shoulder to steady him.

“Must be hard for you to imagine,” Harry added, sliding in front of Ron. “Now, if you’ll excuse us, our friends are waiting in our compartment.” He turned and grabbed Ron, steering him back to their seats.

Ron sighed as the door slid open, flinging himself down into a seat beside Neville Longbottom. “Thanks mate, I was about to drop my wand and sock that smarmy git in the mouth in a minute.”

“We noticed,” Hermione replied primly.

Ron groaned and slid down further. “You know, maybe I could stay on the train, ride it back to the castle and stay there this Summer.”

“Y-you know, no one thinks your family wants Malfoy’s money,” Neville said quietly, eyes trained on the fat toad on his lap.

Ron smiled wanly. “Thanks Neville.” He clapped the other boy on the back, hard enough he almost dropped the toad.

Harry popped his head out of the compartment and waved down the witch with the snack trolley. He bought a small mountain of snacks and settled back into his seat with a pumpkin pasty.

“So, I thought your family was going to Egypt this Summer?” harry asked, crumbs spilling down the front of his robes.

Ron made a face and grabbed a chocolate frog from the pile. “Not anymore. Bill and Charlie are going to visit the Burrow instead.”

Hermione tutted sympathetically. “Oh, I’m sorry Ron! Egypt sounds so interesting did you know…” She launched into an exhaustive discussion about pyramids and Egyptian curses, and their representation in the muggle media. At one point she dragged Harry into a long talk about a muggle movie Ron had never heard of, and Ron settled against the window with his snacks and tuned them out.

The train ride back form the castle was a long one, and it gave him plenty of time to stare out at the scenery and brood. He really wasn’t looking forward to going home. Normally Summer break was a fun thing, he would practice flying with his brothers, play exploding snap and chess with Ginny, sometimes they would build bonfires in the back yard and even camp out in the field under the stars.

Now, it was all going to be ruined. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t imagine Draco Malfoy being fun. He always looked like an ice statue, it was hard to picture the other boy doing something as normal as playing gobstones. Ron had overheard him talking to the other Slytherins at school, normally Draco’s family traveled a lot over the holidays, going to France or Italy or even more exotic places. The planned trip to Egypt had been the first vacation the Weasley family would have had in years.

Ron fell asleep with his face pressed against the cool glass, and didn’t wake until the train whistled blew. He woke up with a start, Harry and hermione were already pulling their things down form the luggage racks. He cursed and hurried to pull his robe over his head, stuffing it into his trunk.

“Be sure to write Ron!” Hermione said as they got off the train.

“Yeah, let us know how things are going with Malfoy,” Harry added with a grin.

Ron just stuck his tongue out and turned to look for his family. After a moment he spotted a cluster of redheads at the other end of the track. As he approached he saw something that made him stop dead in his tracks. Draco Malfoy, in muggle clothes. He recognized them as some of his old clothes, dark grey jeans that had once been Bill’s and a black jumper he had grown out of after first year.

“Are you wearing my clothes?” Ron asked, too stupefied from the sight to stop himself from reaching out and tugging at the sleeve of the sweater.

Draco pulled back and looked down at his clothes. “I didn’t know they were yours,” he replied, tugging his sleeves back as they slipped over his hands. It had been obvious the clothes belonged to one of the Weasley sons, but he hadn’t been sure whose. All of the redheads were a good bit taller than him, and Ron was broader too.

Ron shook his head and turned to his parents. Ginny was already latched on to his mother’s arm, and Percy had drawn his father into a talk about his muggle studies class. The twins caught the expression on his face and clapped him hard on the back.

“Don’t worry Ron! Even if Mum and Dad are still too busy for you, at least now you have a friend!” The twins cackled and walked off to say goodbye to Oliver Wood.

“So...I noticed you like the Chudley Cannons.”

Ron bristled. “Yeah, what about it?”

“I was just hoping you could tell me what’s so interesting about a team that does nothing but lose.” Draco raised his eyebrows.

“The Cannons are a great team!” Ron insisted. “They’ve just had a rough few seasons.”

“You mean since the 1890s?” Draco replied.

The Weasley parents had started to walk off of the platform and back to the station, not noticing the boys argument. They passed through the wall and emerged in a seas of muggles. As they exited the building and headed to the car Molly glanced back and saw the boys, still intensely debating the pros and cons of various Quidditch teams. Ron’s face was red and he was gesturing wildly, and Draco was biting his lower lip in attempt not to laugh. She smiled and decided to leave them to it.

Chapter Text

Ron stood in the doorway to his bedroom, body frozen in shock at the sight in front of him. His room looked nothing like he had left it the previous Summer. Well, that wasn’t totally true, half of the room was still covered in bright orange Chudley Cannons gear and crammed with Zonko’s products and old homework. But the other half of the room…

The other half of the room was unrecognizable. For one thing, it was clean, completely spotless. His mum would have wept at the sight of it. There was a bed pushed against the wall, the dark grey covers tucked into neat hospital corners. The bookshelves were packed full, not just of Quidditch memorabilia and school texts, but actual books.

“What did you do to my room?” Ron spun around to glare at the other boy. Draco was leaning against the wall and smirking.

“Don’t you mean our room?” Draco lifted a pale eyebrow. “You know we’re going to be sharing for at least the Summer.”

Ron groaned and slumped against the doorway, letting his head hit the wall with a soft thump. “Yes, I know, no need to remind me of the weeks of hell I have to look forward to.”

Draco opened his mouth to respond but was cut off by the sound of Molly calling from downstairs.

“Kids, it’s almost dinner, come down and help!”

Draco smiled widely at Ron. “Well, looks like I have to abandon this conversation, engaging as it was.” He turned and hurried down the stairs, the twins coming down the hall behind him, blocking him from Ron’s sight.

Ron cursed under his breath and hurried after his brothers, socked feet slipping on the stairs and sending him tumbling into them at the bottom.

Molly was standing in the kitchen door, wearing a flour stained apron, with Ginny at her side. The girl had been following Molly aorund like a ducking ever since she got off the train.

“Now, Ginny is helping me with the side dishes, Fred, George, you too can go out to the garden and set up the table. Percy, you get the cups and plates, the twins will just break them.” The three of them headed into the garden, the twins elbowing past percy in the rush to beat him outside.

“Ron, you and Draco can get salad fixings form the garden.” She waved them towards the door and then turned back to the massive stove.

“Ugh, fine, come on then.” Ron tugged on Draco’s sleeve and towed him towards the kitchen door. Outside the sun had gotten low, and there was a pleasant smell coming from the fruit trees. A number of hens wandered aimlessly around the yard, scratching at the grass and occasionally pecking at a weed.

Ron shooed a few of the birds out of the way and picked his way across a few rows of vegetables, careful not to bruise any tomatoes or step on any squash. Draco hovered at the edge of the bed, unsure of what to do. He of course knew that vegetables grew in dirt, he wasn’t simple, but he had never seen it up close.

Ron busied himself with the tomatoes, carefully pulling a few choice ones off a vine. Draco hung over his shoulder, watching as he worked, unsure what to do with himself.

“Go over there and get some cucumbers,” Ron said, not looking up from his task. “There should be plenty of ripe ones.”

Draco nodded and walked over to the tangle of vines in one of the low beds. The cucumbers were not the only things growing there, they were joined by various squash, including a solitary pumpkin big enough to rival the ones the Hogwarts groundskeeper grew. He crouched down, careful not to let himself touch the dirt, and delicately pulled at one of the vegetables. It took a bit more force than he expected, but it eventually came free in his hands. He set it to the side and reached for a second cucumber, this one particularly large and vividly green. His hand closed round it, and he could immediately feel something wrong. His fingers were touching something other than the coolar smooth skin of the cucumber, and instead he was feeling something...squishy...and moving.

“Agh!” he pulled his hand away and fell back into the dirt, startling a few of the nearby hens.

The rooster that had been perched on a nearby fencepost noticed the commotion and spread it’s wings, flapping down with it’s claws out, squawking loudly. Draco scrambled back in an effort to get away, but found himself tangled in the squash vines. A few of the vines seemed to writhe underneath him, curling around his wrists and ankles.

“Bloody hell!”

Draco looked up to see Ron standing in front of him, holding a rake to fend off the angry bird. The hens had already lost interest in the chaos, off to find caterpillars and worms in other parts of the garden, but the rooster was strutting back and forth and scratching at the dirt, flapping his wings angrily at the boy.

“Oh calm down you twit, nothing’s wrong!” Ron shouted. He shook the rake to distract the rooster and then made a wild grab for a bag of feed leaning against the fence. He managed to scoop up a handful of corn and tossed it into the grass a few feet away. That was enough to draw the attention of all of the birds (including a few crows that had been perched in a tree, watching the spectacle).

“That bird is a menace!” Draco sat up and desperately tried to brush the dirt off of himself. “It tried to kill me!”

“It’s a rooster, calm down malfoy.” Ron sighed and held out hand to help the other boy off the ground before he thought better of it. He looked a bit pathetic laying in the dirt, perfect blond hair mussed. “What scared you so bad in the first place?”

Draco glared at the ground, cheeks bright red. “I grabbed a caterpillar by mistake…”

Ron gaped at him. “A caterpillar? All that over a bug?” He bit at his lip for a moment and then doubled over in laughter. “Oh my god!” A bug!”

“The bug wasn’t the problem!” draco argued, growing angrier every moment the other boy laughed at him. “It was the blasted birds! That rooster is a monster!”

“They scare off Basilisks you know.”

Draco and ron stopped and looked up. Ginny was standing at the edge of the garden, wearing one of her mother’s aprons. It made her look very small and very young. “Dinner is ready by the way.” She looked down and hurried back inside, not waiting for them to respond.

“Ginny!” Ron pushed past Draco, hurrying after his sister.

Draco was left alone in the garden, staring after them, and feeling guilty for a reason he couldn’t quite place.

Chapter Text

Draco managed to spend the next week carefully keeping to himself. It wasn’t as hard as he had feared it would be. The Burrow was crowded but it seemed as if everyone but him was busy. Each morning Molly would rise early and start the process of making breakfast. Ginny usually helped her, setting toast in the toast rack and making tea. Most of the girl’s time seemed to be filled with following her mother like a duckling. Mr. Weasley was usually next, grabbing his thermos and toast as he straightened his tie under his robes and practically ran out the door.

The twins would run down, grab plates of food and immediately escape back up to their rooms. Judging from the sounds and smells inside, Draco thought it best to leave them to their projects. He also made sure his food and drinks were gotten well before they were in the kitchen, just in case.

Percy spent all of his time holed up in his room with a stack of books. He seemed to be determined to spend every moment working on his studies. Once or twice Draco glanced over at his work, papers left piled on the kitchen table. They were a mix of magical theory and magical law. It was obvious that the boy was angling for a career in the wizarding government. Knowing what he did of the inner circles of politics, he actually thought the boy had a fair chance. Fudge loved a brown noser.

Ron seemed to have the least direction out of all his siblings. He wandered about the burrow, avoiding his Summer homework. Instead he would dedicate himself for a single afternoon to a seemingly random task; chasing gnomes in the garden, trying to copy flying tricks form Quidditch books on his brothers’ old brooms, nearly killing himself in the process, sometimes he just sat in the kitchen eating bits of whatever Molly was cooking and played chess with himself, arranging the pieces over and over again.

“It’s a two player game you know,” Draco finally commented one day, having snuck down from the bedroom for an apple only to find Ron in the middle of losing a match to himself.

Ron made his final move, a bishop sliding across the board to smash the kink to pieces in a devastating blow, and then looked up. “Yes, well no one wants to play with me,” he grumbled, carefully magicking the pieces whole agains and setting them back on the board in their neat little rows.

Draco raised an eyebrow. “Are you really that bad?”

Ron looked at him for a long moment and then grinned widely. “Wanna find out then?”

Ron, it turned out, was not that bad at all. He was, if anything, a bit better than Draco was. He knew several strategies, and seemed to adapt easily to any move Draco made. The only thing that put him at a disadvantage was that Draco was better at one key aspect of chess, cheating.

As soon as she saw the boys setting up the game, Molly had bustled over with a pitcher of fizzy lemonade and a plate of biscuits. Draco picked one up and made a show of licking the icing off his fingers, taking advantage of Ron’s disgusted look to prod one of his pieces over a few squares without notice.

“Come on Weasley, your turn,” Draco chided, smiling as Ron’s brow furrowed in confusion.

“Shut up you prat,” Ron snapped, eyes glued to the board. “And stop calling me that, everyone in this house but you is named Weasley.”

“What I’m going to call you is a loser if you don’t hurry and make a move you-” Draco snapped his mouth shut as Ron finally made his move. The knight he had moved was suddenly taken by Ron’s own, and his king was trapped.

“Ha! Call me what Malfoy? A winner?” Ron laughed as the pieces destroyed one another, gloating over their savagery.

“Oh shut it,” Draco replied, face going pink.

“Yeah yeah, I won Malfoy,” Ron said, gathering up the board and pieces. “Also, if you’re going to cheat, you should pay more attention to which pieces you move.”

Draco bit back a reply and stomped off into the garden, not bothering to turn when Ron howled in laughter behind him. Stupid Weasley. Stupid chess. Stupid everything. He was suddenly overcome with a memory of the Summer the year before. He had tried to teach Crabbe and Goyle to play wizarding chess, bored of the endless games of gobstones and exploding snap. They had been awful at it. After a few days of effort, the chess pieces had refused to play, staying stubbornly on their little squares. The memory made his chest tight, and he pushed on ahead, going past the garden to the open field beyond.

The field was big, and the grass had grown long and golden in the Summer sunshine. It was the exact opposite of the manicured green lawns at Malfoy Manor. He grabbed ahold of the wooden fence dividing the garden from the old paddock and swung himself underneath, slipping easily between the posts. Walking out into the grass was like walking into the ocean. The sea rose up around him, chest high in places. As he walked he stuck his hands out, feeling the grass brush against his skin.

Further out in the field he stopped, looking ahead. A few yard away there was a dip in the grass, an area where it had been pressed down flat. He edged carefully towards it, trying to keep his steps light until he could tell what it was. He made it halfway before a sudden movement in the grass made him stop. The grass was rustling, and not with the breeze.

He froze, throat tight. His mind was filled with images of Voldemort’s followers, of Death Eaters come to hunt him down for his father’s failure. He tried to take a step back, away from whatever it was, but his body wasn’t moving. He clenched his teeth and summoned all his willpower and managed to lift a foot, sending him stumbling back. He stepped on a small twig and the cracking sound it made as he did echoed around the field like a shot. He flinched as the rustling suddenly stopped, unsure of the stillness.

And then it happened. A deer rose it’s head from the grass, massiv body towering over the sea of gold. It shook it’s head, antlers waving in the air, and then it jumped. It jumped into the air and ran past the spot where Draco stood at a full sprint. Just behind it came a doe and a young faun, struggling to keep up on skinny legs. Draco shrunk in on himself as they passed, not wishing to disturb them, but the faun brushed against his arm as it ran past, it’s skin softer than any velvet he had touched before.

A moment later and he was alone again, the deers gone from sight. He waited for a few long minutes, unsure of himself, and then crept forward to where they had been laying. The grass had been stamped down flat into a circle, and there were cores and seeds from apples, most likely those fallen in the Weasley family orchard.

He bent down and traced the shape of a hoof print, the distinct outline worn into the dirt. His finger had just touched the ground when he was jerked away from his trance by a coughing sound behind him.

“What are you doing?” Ron was standing behind him, arms crossed over his chest and eyes suspicious.

Draco hurriedly straightened, brushing dirt and bits of grass off of his clothes. “Nothing,” he said quickly, glancing in the direction the deer had run off. There was no sign of them now.

“Mum sent me to get you,” Ron said, eyes leaving Draco’s face as he surveyed their surroundings. “Is this a deer nest?”

Draco shrugged. He had never seen a deer in the wild before, but he wasn’t about to admit to it. “I was just walking around out here and found this.”

Ron nodded and paced the edge of the circle slowly. “They come here all the time. Sometimes they go into the orchard and take apples, but they stay out of the garden so we leave them alone. Once in a while you can find rubbed off velvet on the trees, or broken antler bits. Good for potions.”

Draco nodded absently. “Healing potions. Deer velvet is good for that, the fresher the better, and best when the animal it came form wasn’t killed beforehand.”

Ron’s face pulled into a sneer. “Go figure, you don’t know about deer, just potions.”

Draco bit back his response and turned, wading back into the grass towards the Burrow.

Chapter Text

Back at the Burrow, Draco found Molly in the kitchen, along with a tall wizard in purple robes. They were standing at the kitchen table, which was strewn with a mess of parchment, and drinking tea out of mismatched china cups. Neither of them seemed to notice when Draco let himself in.

“Kingsley, are you sure about this?” Molly stirred her tea with an unsteady hand, the spoon rattling against the side of the cup. “Couldn’t this all wait a while?”

The man, Kingsley, shook his head slowly. “I’m sorry Molly but no. I’ve already had a word with Arthur and it’s clear. This situation isn’t going to get better soon, and Draco needs to come to the manor with a team of Aurors, the sooner the better.”

Draco paused at the sound of his name and pressed himself against a wall, just behind a coat rack. He pushed a few robes aside and peered at them from his hiding place, eager to know what they were discussing. If the man had spoken to Arthur that meant he worked with the Ministry of Magick, and may even be an Auror himself. One of the people hunting his mother, or maybe one of the people in charge of tearing his childhood home apart in search of dark magical artifacts. Either way, it was clear he was an enemy.

Molly sighed and set her tea down on the table. “Okay, I’ll tell him when he comes in, but maybe you should go before he-”

Draco took the opportunity to round the corner, hands stuffed nonchalantly in his pockets. “You were looking for me?” he asked, looking up at the wizard even as he spoke to Molly. Up close, the man looked familiar, possibly one of the aurors assigned to his father’s own trial.

“Oh! Draco!” Molly fussed with her arpon for a moment. “I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Weasle- I mean, Ron, said you were looking for me.” Draco continued staring.

Kinglsey shifted under the boy’s gaze and held out a hand to shake. “Hello Draco, my name is Kingsley Shacklebolt. I’m an auror.” He smiled warmly down at the blond.

Draco sniffed delicately and ignored the offered hand. There wa sno need to pretend to be polite, his mother wasn’t there to force him to mind his manners. “I know you are. You’re on my father’s case aren’t you?” he asked pointedly.

Kingsley let his hand fall back to his side, his smile wavering. “Actually, it’s more like I’m assigned to your family. The Malfoy Manor is a major crime scene, and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done involving it.”

Draco raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t know the manor was being seized.” he clenched his fingers tightly, nails digging into his palms. If the manor was gone, that made getting out of the Weasley’s care even more difficult.

Molly turned and busied herself with preparing a third cup of tea. “Oh, no dear, it hasn’t.” She hesitated, measuring out loose tea leaves to put in the pot. “It’s just that…” She floundered for a moment.

Kingsley soldiered on. “We actually require your help, Mr. Malfoy.”

Draco raised both eyebrows at that. The ministry needed his help, that was interesting to know. There would only be a few reasons they would come to him, and it was unlikely they would think he was willing to testify against his family. That left… “You need me to get past the wards.”

Kingsley sighed and nodded. “Yes. Unfortunately the wards on the manor are so complex that there are some areas we still haven’t been able to access. We have a team working almost round the clock there, but the truth is that some of the countermeasures are...dangerous.”

Draco allowed himself a small smirk. “Yes, well my father is far from the first Malfoy to be concerned about...security.”

“Draco,” Molly tapped the teapot thrice and poured out the now brewed tea into a cup. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want. You’re not the one in trouble.”

Draco took the cup and stared down at it for a moment. The cup had been nice once, it was obviously fine china, but there was a chip in the rim and it didn’t match any of the others. If he stared hard enough he could almost overlay it with the teacups from home, the bone white china covered in intricate blue drawings of animals that moved when the cup was filled with warm water. It made his chest feel tight.

“If I go with you, will I be allowed to retrieve some of my personal things?” He kept his eyes trained on his tea, as if he could read the leaves without drinking.

Kingsley nodded. “Yes, I think we can allow that so long as an auror looks over anything you bring back.”

“Fine then.” Draco tossed back the still hot tea and set the cup carefully down on the table. “I’ll do it.”

Kingsley nodded and turned to Molly to continue to discuss the details of the trip. Draco took the opportunity to slip away, hurrying towards the upper floors. He was halfway up the first flight of stairs when he ran smack into Ron.

“Watch it!” Ron reached out and grabbed ahold of Draco’s shirt, catching hold of him right before he tumbled backwards.

They stayed like that, precariously balanced, for a half of a heartbeat. Then Draco set his feet and pulled himself upright, yanking himself out of Ron’s grasp.

“Please, Weasley, hands off.” Draco smoothed his shirt down as best as he could. “What are you even doing, lurking here.”

Ron’s face flushed. “Ah- well, you see, I saw Kingsley and…” He shrugged.

Draco nodded. “I see, so you were spying on me. Well, you must be thrilled then, hmm? Knowing I’m going to have to deal with the indignity of working against my own family just so I can be in my home for a few measly moments.”

Ron put his hands up and shook his head. “No! I mean, yeah I think it’s good for you turn on your arsehol of a father, but I mean…” He struggled for a moment. “I get homesick!” he blurted.

Draco looked at Ron as though he has suddenly grown another head. “What are you going on about?”

Ron stared hard at the area just above Draco’s left ear. “I get homesick. At school. I was homesick first year, and it happened last year too. I miss my room and my parents and the garden. I get homesick too.”

Draco hesitated for just a moment, and then blinked hard, willing away the tears suddenly threatening to rise. “Well thankfully, I am not so emotional. Now if you will excuse me.” He pushed past the other boy and made it to the bathroom, slamming the door behind him and locking it before sliding to the ground and burying his face in hands.

Chapter Text

Malfoy Manor was busier than Draco could ever remember it being. The sprawling estate was like a hornet’s nest, buzzing with activity. Aurors filled every room, every hall. Dozens of them filled the library, checking every book for forbidden magics, more searched the labyrinthine basement levels of the house, the wine cellars and the storage rooms filled with potion ingredients.

The house seemed to loom over the grounds, the massive windows like eyes watching the proceedings. In the yard, a half dozen peacocks with pure black feathers milled about, scratching at the grass and pecking idly at the rose bushes.

“Merlin’s balls, the place is massive!” Ron tilted his head back to look up to the upper floors of the manor, nearly falling over.

“It’s like a whole wing of Hogwarts!” Fred exclaimed, turning slowly to take it all in.

“Was it really just three of you in that house Malfoy?” George asked, eyes wide.

“Yes, most of the time it was just Father and Mother and I,” Draco answered, voice soft. “When I was little, people would come visit. Aunt Bellatrix. Father’s friends.”

“Deatheaters you mean,” Ron remarked, coughing violently when Fred and George jabbed him in the ribs with their elbows in tandem. “Oy!”

“Now now boy!” Molly scolded, grip tight on Arthur’s hand. “We didn’t bring you here to make a ruckus, we brought you to help Draco get his things.”

The boys nodded and hurried off, Ron pulling Draco along rather than waiting for him to lead them. They ran up the gravel path to the massive French doors, already propped open to allow the flow of ministry officials in and out. They slipped past a few witches and wizards carrying cardboard boxes packed with parchment, and headed up the grand staircase.

“It’s like a castle,” Ron muttered, nearly tripping up the stairs.

“You only say that because you’re so used to a hovel,” Draco snapped waspishly. He pulled his hand out of Ron’s and pulled ahead of the other boys, leading them down own grand hall after another.

He stopped suddenly, in front of a closed door. The wood around the lock looked scorched, as if burned by a backfired spell. Draco reached out and traced the marred wood, the way the burns radiated out from the keyhole.

“Nasty bit of spellwork your father put there.”

Draco snapped his head up to see Kingsley Shacklebolt standing at the top of the staircase.

“It wasn’t my father,” Draco murmured, eyes drawn back to the door. “This is as old as the house itself.”

“Whatever it was, it knocked out three of my best cursebreakers.” Shacklebolt turned his gaze to Ron. “I actually had to call in some...outside help.”

Ron’s eyes grew wide. “You mean…?” His breath hitched with excitement. “Bill’s here?”

“He’s flooing in later this afternoon, to deal with some particularly nasty things we found in the attic.” Shacklebolt smiled as Ron and the twins broke out into over excited chatter at the idea of seeing their eldest brother.

“Mum’s gonna lose it!”

“Do you think he’s gonna stay a bit?”

“Is Charlie gonna come visit too?”

Draco took advantage of the sudden distraction to slip away form the boys, slipping behind a row of suits of armor and keeping close to the wall. He followed the hallway down for a while until he managed to make it to the door to his own suite of rooms. The door was unlocked, and slightly open, and it didn’t take much effort to slide in without notice.

Inside, his room looked nothing like he had left it. It was clear the aurors hadn’t skipped over his own possessions in their search. In the front room he could see his bookshelves had been ransacked, a number of expensive books on the floor. As he moved to picked them up he noticed a signed set of books on muggle witch hunts was missing, It had been a gift from a relative the year he got into Hogwarts, and it contained no dark secrets or hidden magics, it was just a set of leather bound books. He put the thought aside and continued to sort through his things.

It was strange, tidying himself. He had been used to a house elf taking care of such things. The manor was home to a few, although he hadn’t seen any since arriving. He moved slowly, touching each item and weighing it’s worth in his new life. He noticed what was missing even more. Spots on the walls where portraits of family had hung. Piles of old parchments from his time before Hogwarts when he had been tutored at the manor.

He moved from the front room into the bedroom, which was in a similar state of disarray. The canopy on his bed was pulled aside and it seemed as though most of his wardrobe had been dumped on top of the duvet. He walked over and fell forward, burrowing into the pile of laundry. It was still clean, it smelled like lemon and mint and soap, and he sunk as deep as he could into the dress robes and shirts and let the soft and familiar scent envelope him.

“...Draco?”

Draco stilled at the sound of a voice, eyes blinking open slowly.

“Draco, are you in here? They said this is your room.” Ron crept slowly into the room, stepping over the detritus on the floor. “I think some of the aurors are looking for you.”

Draco held his breath and attempted to wiggle further into the laundry without being noticed, shifting to cover himself with a set of whisper soft silk dress robes. He managed to wiggle down a bit but his cocoon was rudely interrupted by a heavy weight thumping down on top of his laundry nest.

“Are you napping in a pile of laundry?” Ron asked, pulling a cashmere sweater away to reveal Draco’s face. “You look like a loon.”

Draco blinked in the harsh light and snatched at the sweater, struggling under Ron’s weight. “I wasn’t napping, I just...was sorting through the laundry and nodded off is all!”

Ron laughed and rolled to the side, toppling a good bit of the laundry to the floor. “Yeah, right. You were hiding from the aurors weren’t you?” He shot a glance at the still closed door. “They were looking for you, you know.”

“Yes, I imagine they were.” Draco sighed and sat up, clothes spilling off of him and onto the floor. He made a move to straighten his shirt but paused when he was distracted by Ron’s sudden laughter. “What?” he snapped icily.

“Your hair!” Ron cackled and fell back into a mountain of black robes. “You look like an owlet!” he pointed at draco’s hair and giggled madly.

Draco reach up and felt the static holding his hair up and at odd angles. That was what he got sleeping in a pile of sweaters. He tried to straighten it with one hand and tossed a pair of balled up wool socks at Ron’s head with the other. “Oh shut it, you prat.”

Chapter Text

Ron followed Draco down hall after hall. The Manor, large as it had seemed form outside, was even bigger on the inside. The place was like a maze, with winding corridors, secret servant passages, and hidden staircases. Ron made sure to keep close to the other boy’s heels as they wound their way around the house, Draco seemingly taking no notice of the Aurors everywhere.

“Where are we going?” Ron whispered as they sidled past a group of Aurors weighed down with books from one of the libraries.

“Somewhere good,” Draco reassured him, heading down yet another staircase. “Just wait.” He made a sudden left turn and opened a door inlaid with patterned stained glass, pulling Ron through.

Ron blinked in surprise, almost blinded by the sudden brightness of sunlight. Inside the manor, the curtains had all been drawn across the massive windows, creating a miasma of gloom and dust.

“Over here!” Draco pulled Ron along as best as he could, moving towards a small stone building off to the side of the manor proper. “Come on!”

Ron hurried along, taking one large step for every two of Draco’s own. “Okay, but what’s all the hassle about?”

Draco ignored him and pulled out his wand, pressing it against the handle of the door. “Draco Abraxas Malfoy,” He stated, voice clear and steady. A moment later the door swung open, revealing the dark interior of the building.

“Hmm, doesn’t look like much, does it?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “It helps if you can see you know.” He raised his wand to shoulder height. “Lumos.” The soft golden light from his wand lit up the inside of the building, revealing what he had been so excited about.

“Are...are those…?” Ron spoke in a soft whisper, voice full of awe.

“Yes, they are,” Draco replied smartly. “Those are a full set of Nimbus 2001 brooms, not even released on the market yet.” He headed in and grabbed a broom off the rack, the wooden handle gleaming in the wandlight. “Father ordered them because i was promised a spot on the Slytherin house team next year.”

Ron reached out and hesitantly touched one of the brooms, as if he was touching a relic from Merlin himself. “Bloody hell, they don’t even have these at Diagon Alley yet.” he looked up quickly at Draco. “Can we...?”

Draco laughed and ran for the door. “Of course, I didn’t bring you here just to watch you drool.” He mounted the broom and kicked off the ground in a fluid motion.

“Oi, wait for me!” Ron hurriedly grabbed a broom and ran out, nearly tripping over himself to get on the broom. “Hey!”

Draco laughed and leaned forward on the broom, angling down to swoop low and buzz Ron as he frantically tried to get into the air. The red haired boy reached out and swatted at his foot overhead, and Draco easily spun into a barrel roll, speeding up as he ascended.

“Come and catch me Weasley!” Draco slowed down and waved lazily. “If you can that is!”

Ron cursed and managed to get on the broom and off the ground, rising quickly into the air. “Oh I can!” He shouted, leaning down low and rushing after the other boy.

“Ha! You can barely fly, I can see now why you like the Chudley Canons, you’re almost as bad as they are!”

Ron flew after Draco, trying to keep up as the other boy quickly shot across the sky. They chased one another around the exterior of the house, slaloming between tree tops and ducking low to skim a pond in the garden with their toes. Draco turned sharply, spraying water into the air and moved to he front of the house, flying low behind a hedge row. Ron grinned and aimed for the other side of the shrubs, hoping to cut the boy off before he could make it across the law. He was halfway there when he heard the yelling.

“RONALD WEASLEY WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

He gulped and pulled up short, hastily lowering himself back onto the grass and climbing off te broom. That was a voice he knew well. Molly was angry.

“Mum! I uh- I was just-...” He stuttered, eyes darting around as he looked for Draco. The boy hadn’t come out from behind the shrubs, probably hiding from Molly’s wrath himself.

Molly’s face was red, her eyes wide and fixed on Ron’s guilty face. “Ronald, I know I did not raise you to behave like this! I brought you here to help Draco and your father says he hasn’t seen you for ages! Or Draco for that matter!”

She looked around the lawn for a moment, rage giving way to worry on her face. “Where is Draco anyway? I don’t see him out here.”

Ron shrugged, eyes on his scuffed trainers. “I dunno, I guess he…”

“Right here mrs. Weasley.” Draco stepped out from a small copse of trees, broom in hand. “I was flying too. I’m sorry” He was clearly doing his best to look remorseful, but Ron had the feeling it wasn’t an expression he had much practice with.

Molly looked at Draco for a long moment and he face softened. “Oh, well I suppose it’s been a hard time for you dear. I guess it’s alright for you to have a bit of fun.” She leaned forward and patted Draco on the shoulder. “But Mr. Shacklebolt is looking for you inside, so I think you should head in.”

Draco nodded and started up towards the house, feet dragging in the grass.

Ron watched him go for a moment and then turned to his mother. “Mum, can I go too?”

Molly hesitated. “Oh, Ron...It’s nice of you to be kind to Draco, but the things in the house…” She wavered for a moment, obviously divided over wanting to encourage this small sign of bonding between the boys, and wanting to keep her youngest son as far away as possible from dark magical artifacts.

“Mum, it’s fine.” Ron reached out and gave Molly’s hand a quick squeeze before running off after Draco, catching up with him before he reached the door of the manor. “Hey, wait for me!”

Draco turned to see Ron running towards him and bit back a small smile. “Oh, planning on following me around some more hmm?”

Ron barked out a laugh. “Like a bad penny, I am.”

Chapter Text

Draco walked slowly through the manor, following the low level auror who had appeared at the door to lead him straight to Shacklebolt.

“To make sure you don’t get lost again.”

They were going down, he noticed, past the libraries and studies and bedrooms, and deeper into the bowels of the house. They descended a spiral staircase, and Draco fought back a shiver. The manor was always cold, but deeper into the subterranean floors, he could almost see his breath in the stale air. It took all of his self control not to turn back, to his broomstick and the warm waiting sky. But no, a Malfoy couldn’t show weakness. So he kept his head up and followed the man down, down, down, even as e realized where they were headed. The dungeons.

He had gotten lost in the lower floors of the manor once as a child. He had slipped away from his governess and wandered the house alone for the first time. The basements had been dark and cold then too, but he had thought himself brave, and carefully gone down the stairs and into the deepest parts of the house. The dungeons had been where his family keep all their darkest secrets. He could remember them, things that had stayed in his nightmares for years. A sliver blade crusted with blood, mounted on a wall. A human skull, carved with delicate runes. When had gotten closer to that one he had noticed how small it was, how the adult teeth were still buried up in the bones.

His father had found him half an hour later, curled up in a corner and crying. He had knelt down on the cold stone floor and drawn the small shivering boy into his arms.

“Oh, my dear, don’t cry. This isn’t a place for children. But don’t worry, one day you will understand the power here, and you will learn to see how this darkness keeps us safe, keeps us strong.” He stood up, easily holding Draco to his chest. “But that might be for another day.”

 

Draco had hidden his face in his father’s shoulder, snuffling into the collar of his robes and letting his father's soft hair hide his face. The older man smelled like mint and smoke and expensive cologne, and it calmed Draco, just enough to stop his tears.

“I don’t want to come down here again Father,” He whined, voice hoarse from crying. “Never again.”

“Oh, no, Draco.” Lucius cradled his son and held him tight as he stalked through the halls, heading towards the stairs. “Draco, down here are the things that help make our family special.” he stopped for a moment in front of a heavy wooden door. “Here, let me show you.”

Lucius carefully shifted Draco’s weight in his arms and put a finger to his lips. He bit down on the soft skin of his thumb, and made a soft noise as his teeth broke the skin. He then reached out and pressed the bloody skin to the wood of the door, causing it to swing open.

Lucius carefully set Draco down and closed the door behind them. As he moved, candles in the room sprang to life, casting a warm glow in the small space. The candles weren’t the only lights in the room though. Along the wall were wrought iron shelves, all filled with small crystal bottles, each one filled with a softly glowing liquid. In the center of the room was a low stone table with a hammered silver bowl, a few feet across in diameter.

“See my boy, here it is, our family history.” He picked Draco p and held him up to the nearest shelf. “These are the memories of every great member of our family. Every duel won, every magical artifact created. Here, is everything that gives us strength and power as an ancient bloodline.”

He remembered that room as he lifted his hand to his mouth and bit his thumb, opening that door again. Inside, things were not quite as he remembered. The shelves were less full, bottles missing, labels ripped off of most, a few even scattered on the floor, the contents missing. And in the center of the room, the pensieve was full, glowing blue liquid swirling inside it.

Draco took a step forward without thinking, and his foot landed on a bottle. He slid forward, and Ron jumped forward from behind, grabbing ahold of his shirt, causing them both to tumble forward together, right into the silver bowl.

Draco cursed and put his forearms up, trying to shield himself, but the crash never came. Instead, he kept falling, as though the bowl, the table, the room, wasn’t there at all. The only solid feeling he had was Ron’s heavy, warm weight against his back. They fell, tumbling over an under through a dense mist, until they found themselves back in the manor. Not in the dungeons, but in Lucius’ study. The fire was crackling, and there was a heavy rain against the window.

Draco’s eyes went wide. His father was sitting in his favorite chair, a glass of brandy in his hand. He looked just as Draco had remembered him when he was last at home, hair in a neat braid down his back, wearing soft black velvet robes with the sleeves pushed up over his forearms, the mark on his arm dark against pale skin.

“Is-is that--” Ron whispered anxiously, his grip on Draco’s shirt tightening.

Draco sighed. “No, not really. It’s a memory. We must have fallen into the pensieve and ended up here.”

Ron loosened his grip slightly. “A pensieve? That’s what that bowl was?” He opened his mouth to continue, but snapped it shut as the door to the study swung open with a bang.

Two figures stood in the doorway. One slight, with pale blond hair, streaked with black, and the other larger, with a mass of raven hair that stood out around her face like a dark halo.

“Narcissa, Bellatrix.” Lucius stood, face creasing with concern.

“Something has happened, the Dark Lord--” Narcissa was cut off by Bellatrix screaming out hoarsely, a pale hand pulling on Narciassas robe for support.

“Gone! He’s gone!” Bella sobbed and tore at her hair.

Lucius pushed past them, moving towards the stairs. “In the dungeons, we have to-”

The scene dissolved around them into mist, and Draco and Ron found themselves once again in the bowels of the house. Not the quiet solitude of the pensieve chamber, but a fetid room with bars on the tiny windows. A witch and wizard lay on the floor, covered in filth, writhing in pain. Their faces were caked with drool, their robes soiled.

Bella scowled down at them and raised her wand. “Cruci--!”

“Bella! No!” Narcissa grabbed her sister’s hand pulled the wand away. “There’s no time for this! They must go!”

Lucius looked down at the pair and sighed heavily. “I will handle it. Take your sister and go, the aurors will be here soon.” He kneeled down and tore the ribbon from his hair, wrapping it around the wrists of the captives. Neither responded to his touch or voice, but when he joined their hands they interlinked their fingers gently. He muttered over the crd for a moment, and then they disappeared with a faint -pop- of a portkey activating.

The scene faded out again. This time, nothing clear appeared, just flashes. Men and women crying. Snakes. A man with long dark hair standing in the rain outside the manor, a pendant on a long chain clutched in his fist.

Draco reached out, trying to find his footing in any memory, but they slipped further and further away, until all he could hear or see or feel was Ron, holding tight to his shirtsleeve.

They next moment and it was all over in a moment, they were back in Malfoy Manor. In the present, surrounded by aurors. Draco took a deep breath and steadied himself as he tried to look around through blurry eyes. It took him almost a full minute, with all the fuss, to realise he was crying.

Chapter Text

Ron didn’t open his eyes at first. He just kept his grip on Draco’s shirt, tight as he could. The fabric was damp from sweat, but he held on. He stood as still as he could, willing the noises he had heard to fade from his mind. The cold hard voices of Deatheaters. He had never seen a real one before, or heard one. It was like having ice water poured over his head, he felt cold down to his core. He didn’t move until he felt large warm hands prying his fingers apart, forcing him to let go of Draco.

“-on? Ron? Can you hear me son?”

Ron cracked one eye open and saw his father kneeling on the floor, holding his hand tightly and staring at him. His face was even paler than usual, and beyond him Ron could see a half dozen aurors crowded by the door, pale and nervous. Draco was still next to him, standing perfectly still.

“Wh-what happened?” Ron croaked, throat tight. “I-I saw, Dad, I saw things.”

“It’s a pensieve, that’s how it works.” Draco scrubbed his face with his sleeve and turned on his heel, shoving past the aurors to flee the room.

Ron moved to follow after him but his dad held tight to his hand. “Dad! I have to go,” he insisted, yanking on his arm.

“Ronald, first I need you to tell Kingsley exactly what you saw.” Ron looked over his dad’s shoulder to see the auror behind him, an expectant look on his face. “Draco will be fine but we need this for the investigation.”

Ron paused for a moment. He could hear them, in his head, the memories he had seen. Draco’s parents, the dark haired woman. He could recall every detail, every piece of every image. But most of all he could see Draco, next to him. Draco with his face hard and his slight body shaking, skin cold to the touch.

“I don’t know, it was just a big mess of images, and that’s all. I can’t remember any details.” Ron looked past his father and right into Kingsley’s eyes, chin tilted up defiantly. “Can I go now?”

Arthur sighed, but Kingsley just nodded, moving aside so Ron could run after Draco. He could hear them speaking quietly as he left.

“-he saw-”

“-we don’t know and we can’t force him-”

Ron ignored it and focused on running down the corridors, trying to cover more ground so he could catch up to Draco. After ten minutes he found himself outside the manor again, the sky was darker than before. A thick blanket of grey clouds hung over the manor like a looming threat. The rain hadn’t started yet but Ron could feel it in the air, thick and heavy, with a static charge that promised lightning.

Draco was outside, spread out eagle on the grass, his eyes closed. Even then, Ron could see his eyes and nose were pink, he had been crying. He edged around Draco, not sure what to do. His brothers didn’t cry much anymore, and when he did they teased him. But this was different, this wasn’t a tantrum over chores or a quidditch match, this was something else.

“You saw.” Draco didn’t bother opening his eyes. “You saw it all, didn’t you, same as me?”

Ron hesitated for a moment. It would be easy, so so easy to pretend he didn’t see or hear anything, or didn’t remember. “Yeah.” he sighed and walked over, plopping himself down on the grass. It was nice grass, soft and green and studded with clover.

“Well, I guess it wasn’t too much of a surprise. I know what people say at school, my family is evil right? A bunch of Deatheaters, the whole lot of us.” he laughed hollowly and rolled over onto his stomach, burying his face in his arms.

Ron picked at the grass, twisting the blades together between his fingers. “I...I won’t tell.” His voice was quite, just above a whisper. “I didn’t even tell my dad or Kingsley. I didn’t tell anyone anything, and I’m not going to.”

“And why not?” Draco pushed himself up so he was sitting back on his heels. “I know you hate me, you’ve hated me since that first day on the train to school, and probably before that. You hated me before you met me because I’m a Malfoy the same way I hated you because you’re a Weasley. We hate each other, and now what, you’re going to be some kind of noble Gryffindor and keep my dark secret because it’s the right thing to do?” He pulled at the grass with his hands, ripping it up in angry fistfuls, scattering the blades in a circle around him. “I know Gryffindors Weasley, and I know you’re not all noble , and you’re not above gossiping or bullying or anything else us Slytherins do. And I know you are one person who was the most desperate to show everyone just how evil I am!”

Ron kept his head down, focusing on the bits of grass and clover in his hands. “I did think that. I did, I thought you were a nasty git and that your mum and dad were probably baby eating murderers and followers of You Know Who.” He picked a few of the clover flowers and threaded them into the braid he was making. “I thought all of that and worse because I wanted to think that, because I wanted to hate you for being rich and powerful and everything my family and me weren’t and making me feel like shite about it. Because at least we weren’t evil and that’s something.” He snorted and tucked the ends of the chain together, forming a circle. “I didn’t know what it was like, I still don’t, not really. My mum and dad are...they’re good. Not just good but really good, you know. And they’re the only parent’s I’ve got. I have no idea what it must be like to grow up with that mess.” Ron stood up and brushed the stray bits of grass form his pants and then walked over to Draco, gently setting the crown of clover on his head. The white clover almost as pale as Draco’s hair. “So, i won’t tell anyone, because they can’t see it, they can’t know it either, not like i do now.”

The sky seemed to open up on que. A quick flash of lightning and suddenly it was raining. It only took a moment before they were both soaked to the bone with freezing water. They shouted and scrambled towards the house, feet squelching over the wet grass, slipping in rapidly forming puddles. They managed to make it around the back and ran to a gazebo set into the rose gardens. Underneath it they could hear the rain pounding on the wooden roof, but the rain running off of it created a veil, separating them from the rest of the world, blurring out the manor and everything inside it.

Ron looked down at his soaked and mud splattered clothes and sighed. He was sure e was going to get an earful from his mother when his parents tracked them down. “I look like a half drowned cat.” He grabbed the hem of his shirt and made a half hearted attempt at wringing it out.

“I can’t imagine I’m much better,” Draco answered, staring out in the direction of the house.

Ron looked over at the other boy and froze. Draco looked nothing at all like a drowned cat. His silvery hair looked darker, wet with the rain, and bits of it clung to his face underneath the clover crown Ron had given him. His shirt was soaked and clung to his thin frame and his eyelashes had drops of rain stuck to them.

“You’re better.” The words were out before Ron could swallow them back down. He bit his lip and turned, looking out at the garden so Draco couldn’t see his face, already feeling the blush spreading across his cheeks.

The roses were lovely, in a scary sort of way. They were massive and a purple so dark they were almost black, with the biggest thorns he had ever seen. Nothing like his mother’s polite little english tea roses, which grew in a hedge along the front wall of the house.

“I tried to hide in those rose bushes once when I was younger. I got stuck in the thorns and the groundskeeper had to cut me out, chopping off half the flowers in the process, mother was furious.” Draco held out his left hand, palm up. “I cut my palm open and my parents wouldn’t heal it with magic, they made the nanny bandage it like a muggle.” In the center of his palm was a think white line of scar, just a shade paler than the skin.

Ron reached out without thinking, grabbing Draco’s hand in his larger one and tracing the shape with his thumb. He opened his mouth to say something, he wasn’t sure what, but was interrupted by the distant sound of shouting.

“-on! Ron!”

“Dracoo!”

Ron dropped Draco’s hand like he had been scalded. “Oh, I think that’s Mum and Dad, probably wondering where we went off to.”

He gave himself a bit of a shake and ran out into the rain, heading towards his family. He didn’t stop or look back but he could hear Draco running behind him. Around the front of the house they found Arthur and Molly, along with Ron’s brothers. They were all wearing rain ponchos and huddled together under a few large umbrellas, all with slightly bent handles.

“Boys, we were looking for you all over!” Arthur waved them over, shifting the umbrella in his hand to make room for the two of them.

Molly took in their appearances and gasped. “The state of you two! You’re soaked through!” She waved her wand over them and the boys found themselves snugly wrapped in dry sweaters, in red and green accordingly.

“Ron! Where’ve you been, you missed load!” Fred exclaimed, cheeks pink from the cold.

“We found some moving suits of armor and a sword that we bet is cursed, and also this!” George dug into his pocket and lofted something fuzzy into the air triumphantly. “Look!”

Ron jumped in the air, snatching the animal out of George’s hands. “Scabbers! What’s he doing here?”

Fred laughed and poked Molly’s handbag with his elbow. “Climbed in mum’s purse, trying to make a grand escape we reckon.”

Ron carefully places the rat on his shoulder and agve him a little pat. “Well he’s safe with me now.”

Molly and Arthur waited for a moment as a small team of aurors came out of the manor, levitating a few large trunks behind them. They consulted with them for a minute, glancing back at Draco now and then. After a bit of hushes arguing they took the luggage and headed towards the gates, gesturing for the boys to follow after them.

“I think it’s time to head home,” Arthur said, voice heavy with weariness.

“Time for dinner, and maybe some cocoa after,” Molly added, her smile not hiding how tired she was.

The gates were mobbed with reporters from every wizarding periodical. They shouted out at them as they left, cameras going off as they headed for the ministry car that would take them home.

“How many skeletons were in the closets?”

“Were the remains of You Know Who really found in the Malfoy Manor dungeons?”

“Is the home going to be auctioned off and the money given to St Mungos?”

“What did they find?”

Molly and Arthur did their best to shield the children from the reporters, rushing them along towards the car. They managed to get the luggage and the family safely inside, and Arthur steered the car through the crowd. As they rolled down the road Ron and Draco turned in their seats, watching the camera flashes fading into the grey of the rain.

Chapter Text

The next few days passed peacefully enough. Draco was happy to have some of his things back in his possession, and the Weasley’s were happy enough to not bring up the events that had transpired at the manor. It almost seemed as though things were settling into normalcy, until the weekend edition of The Prophet arrived.

 

Magical Mayhem at Malfoy Manor!

 

Draco saw the headline as soon as he came downstairs for breakfast. He was the first of the children up, and Arthur and Molly were oddly quiet as he entered. Molly hadn’t even begun to prepare breakfast yet, she was so wrapped up in reading the paper over her husband’s shoulder.

 

The front of the paper featured a picture of Draco and the Weasley family leaving Malfoy Manor. Draco was surprised to see how small and fragile he looked next to them, like someone just about to break apart. He stared at the paper for a moment before his photo doppelganger turned and looked him in the eye. Then he turned on his heel and started marching right back upstairs, intent on hiding under the coverlet for the rest of the Summer break.

 

“Oh, Draco!” Molly called after him, looking up at the sound of footsteps. “Oh dear…”

 

Arthur patted his wife on the shoulder. “Maybe we should give him a bit of space dear, this must be rather hard on the boy.”

 

Molly nodded but fussed nervously with the ties on her apron. “I just wish there was something we could do, the poor thing’s had such a hard time already, and now this.” She turned and started waving her wand, turning on the stove and filling the kettle with water.

 

Arthur nodded and set the paper down. “I know. I was never much of a fan of Lucius, but i have to say even I was surprised to hear about some of the things the auror teams found in that house. The Prophet doesn’t know the half of it. There were dark artifacts there, old, dark magics that have hurt a lot of people.”

 

Draco hesitated at the stair landing, not sure if he wanted to hear more. He had been there after all, he knew what secrets there were to find in his family’s ancestral home. But still, it had been his home, and he felt the loss of it.

 

“Draco, what’re you doing?” Draco looked up to see Ron hanging halfway over the banister, looking down the stairs. Ron was still in his pajamas, the too short ones that showed his wrists and elbows, and his hair was a fiery halo around his head from sleeping. “I didn’t hear you get up.”

 

Draco resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Ron would sleep until noon if Molly let him. “Nothing, I just wanted a drink of water, I’m coming back up now.” He climbed the stairs and followed Ron back into their room.

 

It looked more like a shared room now, with their things slowly mingling together instead of split down the middle like some sort of demilitarized zone. Ron had raided draco’s collection of quidditch books as soon as they were unpacked, and now that draco had clothes from home, Ron was as likely to steal them as wear his own. Draco had decided not to tell Ron that he looked surprisingly nice in Slytherin green.

 

They got dressed and discussed their plans for the day. Ron had an idea to put colored hats on the garden gnomes and chase them down on broomstick, awarding points by color. He wasn’t sure how they would get the gnomes, which had the temperament and intelligence of small badgers, to wear said hats, but that was a problem he seemed sure would just work itself out. After that maybe chess before dinner, or exploding snap if they could talk some of the others into playing.

 

It was nice. It was normal, more normal than anything had really felt since Draco left Hogwarts at the end of the previous term. It was hard for him to believe it, but away from everything, Ron was shaping up to be a decent friend. He had the good graces not to mention the pensieve at least, for which Draco was grateful.

 

“Kids! Breakfast!” Molly shouted form downstairs, banging a wooden spoon on a pot edge to rally the troops.

 

The lot of them surged down the stairs, pushing and shoving and shouting as they made their way to the table. Draco was more used to the chaos after a while, and able to keep up with the larger boys. He even learned there was some benefit to being a bit on the smaller side, as Molly liked to set aside a little extra in attempt to fatten him up. That morning, the chaos was only increased by the sight of the newspaper.

 

“Blimey, we’re on the Prophet!”

 

“Wait till I owl Lee Jordan, he’s gonna be so jealous!”

 

“Mum, why are you on the newspaper?”

 

Molly and Arthur exchanged helpless looks over their teacups. After a small battle of will Arthur deflated a bit and snatched the paper back from his children.

 

“Now now! Calm down, the lot of you! I know it’s exciting to be on the cover of the Prophet, but I don’t want all of you writing and gossiping to your friends about this, am I clear?” He shot a hard look at the twins, who conjured up innocent smiles on cue.

 

“Okay!”

 

“We promise!” George pulled his brother into his side, squishing their face together as they grinned. It would have been more convincing if it wasn’t the same act they put on three times a week.

 

After that breakfast settled down. Percy was more interested in the business and politics section of the Prophet, the twins had received an owl from Oliver Wood detailing the training plan that they were expected to finish by the end of Summer. Ron even got a letter from Hermione, which he rushed off to read in the privacy of the garden, swatting at his brothers as they jeered and teased him for getting an owl from his ‘girlfriend’.

 

“This came for you dear,” Molly said, voice oddly tight as she handed Draco an envelope with a green wax seal.

 

Draco took it and excused himself, going up to his room to take a look. It was the first mail he had received at the burrow. It was from Severus.

 

Draco,

 

I hope this letter finds you well. I am sorry I haven't been able to come and visit you at the Burrow. I trust the Weasley’s are treating you well. I have been assured by the headmaster that Molly Weasley will surely try to ‘put some meat on those bones’, which I can can only assume is her version of being pleasant.

I am writing tonight because I have heard about the events at Malfoy Manor. I am truly sorry that I was not able to protect you from what you saw. It is not something you should have seen in such a way. After learning about the raid on the Manor I managed to visit with your father in Azkaban. He wished to know if you were well, but had little to say about the events at the estate. He also, sadly, still has no knowledge of your mother’s whereabouts. I tried asking your Aunt Bellatrix, but she was unwilling or unable to tell me anything of value.

I promise to do my best to visit before the start of next term, if not at the Weasley’s home then at Diagon Alley when you go to get your supplies for next year.  

 

 

  • Severus Snape

 

 

Draco stared hard at the letter and then carefully folded it and stuck it back in the envelope. Then he grabbed a book he was sure Ron would never bother with, a rather large tome on the role of witches and wizards in the French Revolution, and tucked the latter inside the dust jacket.

 

He glanced at his own stationery supplies and then shook his head, leaving it there on the little writing desk he had staked a claim to. He would write Severus back, eventually. But for the moment it seemed like a better use of his time to go track Ron down and ask for a game of gobstones.

 

The rest of the weekend passed with little to no excitement. The twins managed to turn several of the chickens blue and purple, which lead to pastel egg salad at lunch for a few days. Ginny had a nightmare and cause a rainstorm in her room that flooded a part of the third floor. Ron beat Draco in chess no less than five times.

 

And then suddenly it was Monday. Arthur got up in the morning and made his tea and went to grab the paper before work, and promptly dropped the cup. The kids, who were busy with the normal tug of war over the toast and marmalade, all looked up from their food to see what had happened.

 

“M-Molly,” Arthur stammered and held the paper out to her, keeping it angled away from the children at the table. “Come, come and look at this.”

 

Before Molly could even rise out of her chair, there was a loud snap, and Kingsley Shacklebolt was standing in the kitchen, wand out, the sleeves of his robes pushed back over his forearms. He planted his feet wide and spun in a circle, taking a good look around the room, eyes narrowing as he looked at Draco.

 

“Arthur, Molly, is everything alright here?” he asked, keeping his wand up.

 

Molly looked to her husband, clearly confused. Arthur nodded and waved Kingsley over. “Yes, we’re fine. I figured i should expect you once I saw the headline.”

 

Molly snatched the paper out of Arthur’s hands and turned it to see the front page. As soon as she saw it she dropped it, the pages fluttering to the floor to reveal the headline.

 

Double escape from Azkaban!

Sirius Black and cousin and fellow Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange escape the inescapable prison!

 

Underneath the headline wre pictures of the two inmates in question. A man and a woman, both with wild dark hair and dark circles under their eyes. Their portraits thrashes and screamed and it seemed for a moment that they might escape the page as easily as they had escaped Azkaban.

 

Draco took one look at the paper and felt his blood turn to ice water in his veins. Those were faces he knew. Names he knew. Those people, screaming and full of violence and madness, those were his family.

 

“Kingsley, does the ministry know what happened yet?” Arthur asked, trying to keep his voice calm. “I mean, this has never happened before, Azkaban is supposed to be the most secure prison in the world. The dementors, the ocean, neither of them would have wands...how?”

 

Kingsley shook his head. “We still aren’t sure. There’s no evidence of outside help. There is a chance, a good one, that they worked together. Lestrange and Black are cousins, Bellatrix Black is her maiden name.”

 

Molly turned to the children. “All of you, out, upstairs or outside, just not in the kitchen.” She grabbed Draco before he could follow Ron upstairs. “Except you I’m afraid.”

 

Ron shot Draco a curious look but he just shook his head in answer. Ron nodded and headed outside to the garden, leaving Draco with the adults in the kitchen.

 

“What do you need me for? I barely know those cousins.” Draco gestured to the paper, face pinched.

 

“I know Draco, but we have some worries.” Kingsley slid a chair out and sat down, putting himself more on eye level with the boy. “You see, Bellatrix knew about what happened with your parents. She spoke to your father, and she became...agitated. We think she might try and find your mother.”

 

“I thought Mother had fled the country. What does this have to do with me?” Draco kept his voice perfectly neutral, conversational. It was a trick he had learned from his parents, how to be polite in any setting. “The ministry hasn’t her have they?”

 

Kingsley shook his head again. “No, we haven’t managed to located her and so far there have been no official sightings. However, we have some concerns about your safety.”

 

Draco took a seat at the table and went about the business of making himself a cup of tea. Everything felt very calm, his hands didn’t shake and his breath came evenly. His Aunt Bella had gone to find his mother. Getting him would be an obvious next step, unless they were going to try and rescue Lucius first. But the odds were Bella would say they should leave him to rot in Azkaban. She had served her time proudly, never once denying her allegiance to the Dark Lord. Lucius had weaseled his way out of it with claims of unforgivable curses.  

 

“You think they’re going to come after me next?” Draco didn’t even look up, just calming stirred in milk and sugar to his tea. The Wealsey’s had a nice teapot, charmed to pour a number of different blends. It stayed hot for hours too, so his mug was full of piping hot Lady Grey and not cold Irish Breakfast blend left over from Molly and Arthur. “You think they’re going to come here?”

 

Molly moved behind Draco and laid a hand on his head, softly petting his hair. “Draco, we won’t let anything bad happen to you.”

 

Arthur nodded. “We’re going to keep you safe Draco, we promise.”

 

Draco looked between the three adults in front of him and was surprised to find he believed them.

Chapter Text

Ron stayed crouched beneath the window, keeping his breathing shallow and quiet. He was straining to hear what was happening inside the kitchen, but he could tell it was bad. Something about Draco’s family, and that was never good. He thought hard for a moment. Draco’s family wasn’t just the Malfoys, but also the Blacks, and a few more. The big old wizarding families were like that. They were all twisted and knotted together from years and years, centuries upon centuries, of marrying into one another.

 

He didn’t know that much about those families, except that his should have been one. His family was big, and old, and magical.  His mum and dad had pulled out the albums last christmas, and made a valiant attempt at explaining the family history. But all he had gotten out of it was that they were poor and not very powerful, and lived in the Burrow, instead of a massive estate in the country, or a big stately house in London.

 

It was odd, now, knowing that even rich fancy people like that had problems. Real problems. He remembered hating draco malfoy. He had spent all of freshman year trying to make the blood spontaneously burst into flames. And the incident with the slugs. He spat into the dirt, just thinking about the taste made him nauseous. Draco had made him mad in a way no one else could. Not Snape, not even You Know Who himself was enough to draw the same level of ire. But now, now he knew Draco had a harder life than he did, even with his hand me down robes and cramped house, and shabby school supplies. After seeing what he had seen and hearing what he had heard, he really didn’t envy Draco Malfoy anymore.

 

Once the adults finished talking he waited before sneaking around the side of the house. The wall below his window was covered in thick vines of ivy, which at that point may have been a structural part of the house. He grabbed ahold of one of the vines and hauled himself up, carefully scaling the wall. It wasn’t his first time doing it. Fred and George had been the ones who discovered how easy it was to escape the house using Ron’s room, and the price he had put on not ratting them out to their parents was being shown the trick of it. Only about half the vines were any good for climbing, not so old they were dry and brittle or so young they were weak and tearable.

 

He was up and at the window to his room in just a few minutes. The window was old and all he had to do was shove on the center pane a few times before it was loose enough for him to push the window up and climb through. Inside, Draco was lying on his bed, Ron’s, not his own, with the ugly orange blanket pulled up over his bed, so he was mostly just a lump with socks.

 

“Hey, I uh, I sort of heard what was happening.” Ron sat at the end of the bed and gently poked at the Draco sized lump under the blankets. “I think Kingsley left, but mum and Dad still seem pretty shaken up.”

 

Draco made a muffled noise under the comforter and kicked out at Ron, catching the other boy in the ribs. Ron managed to catch ahold of the boys foot and pulled, yanking him out from under the blankets with a very undignified yelp. “Hey!”

 

Ron laughed and pulled Draco’s sock off, tickling him mercilessly. It was a mean thing to do, he hated when fred or George did it to him, but he also knew that when he was having a sulk, it was usually enough to pull him out of it. “Wow, you’re really ticklish! It’s kinda funny, your face is going all red.”

 

Draco grunted as he flipped over and hooked his leg across Ron’s neck, knocking him sideways onto the bed. He made a noise of triumph as he managed to swing around and straddle Ron. He got one look at the boy’s shocked face, and then promptly covered it with a pillow, cackling as Ron waved his arms in the air, attempting to knock him off.

 

“Ha! See, this is how I end you Weasley. I don’t even need a wand, I’m just going to suffocate you with your own pillow, in it’s ugly orange pillowcase!” Draco laughed as Ron shouted into the pillow. He couldn’t tell what the boy was saying but it had the sound of a curse. “Huh? What’s that? I’m squishing your dumb face? Your stupid nose is being bent? Is that what you’re saying?”

 

He wasn’t ready at all when a pillow smashed into the back of his head, sending him tumbling forward. He rolled half over Ron, landing between the redhead and the wall, socked feet kicking wildly in the air. “Bloody he-!!”

 

Fred laughed as he brought down another pillow, this one a blue that perfectly matched the one his twin had used to unseat Draco. “Gotcha! Shoulda known a Slytherin in our midst would eventually prove to be a traitor!”

 

Ron pulled the pillow off his own face and made an attempt at untangling himself from the bedding, falling halfway to the floor, his legs still stuck in the sheets. “Fred! George! Help! This stupid pointy faced git tried to kill me with a pillow!”

 

George snatched up a pillow and held it high in the air, an evil glint in his eye. “I don’t know Ron, that looked an awful lot like you were colluding with the enemy.” He gave his twin a sideways look. “What do you think Fred?”

 

“I think the only answer is to kill them both,” Fred replied solemnly, holding up his own pillow.

 

“Draco, help!” Ron held up his arms to cover his face, which was quickly turning red from hanging upside down. “Help me!”

 

Draco grabbed a pillow and spun around, swinging wildly at the two older boys, attempting to give Ron a chance to free himself. The four of them shouted and tumbled off of the bed and onto the floor. In between the screaming and thumping, the sounds of laughter could be heard from all the way downstairs.

 

Arthur and Molly, hearing the noise, exchanged confused looks, before sneaking up the stairs to get an idea of what chaos their children might have been causing. Molly opened the door and they peeked in. The kids were rolling around the room, pillows almost completely abandoned, as they wrestled and laughed and swatted at each other. No one was crying or bleeding, which was enough to soothe Molly.

 

She looked at the kids through the door, a warm smile spreading across her face. “They look they’re getting along.”

 

Arthur nodded. “Yes, but honey, weren’t we going to tell them…?” He pulled at the edge of his sleeve awkwardly.

 

Molly sighed and closed the door as quietly as she could. “Yes dear, we do have to tell them, but I think we can wait a little while, can’t we?”

 

Arthur nodded and looked at the closed door. They could still hear the kids playing inside. “I know it’s hard, splitting them up just as they’re starting to get along, but Draco, he needs to be kept somewhere safe. For his sake as well as everyone else’s.”

 

Molly nodded and headed down the stairs. “I know, I know, but the idea of putting that poor child off in some hidden place, all alone, it doesn’t sit well with me. And we don’t even know how long it might be. Kingsley said it himself, they have no idea when they might catch those two, and there’s no knowing when they might try and come after Draco.” She looked around her kitchen, picking up a tea towel and wringing it in her hands. “I think we may be in a bit over our heads dear.”

 

Arthur thought for a moment and then nodded. “Yes, I think you might be right.” He took one more look at the stairs. The shouting and thudding had calmed down, but if he listened hard he could hear the kids in Ron’s room, talking and laughing. It was a good sound, the kind of a parent liked to hear and a lazy afternoon. “I’m going to make a call on the floo. I think there’s someone we should talk to.”

 

Molly nodded and watched as her husband walked away before busying herself in the kitchen. She was going to make cookies. She couldn’t fix all the evils in the world, and she couldn’t always shield her children from them, but she could make cookies, that she could do.

 

In the other room, Arthur crouched in front of the fireplace, poking at the half burned logs with his wand until it lit. He waited a moment for the fire to go from a few weak little flames to a full roar, and then grabbed the nearby bag of floo powder. He sprinkled a bit, just a tiny pinch really, into the fire, and once it flashes, he said the name of the person he needed to speak to.

 

“Severus Snape.”

 

Chapter Text

Draco came down the following morning for breakfast, and found the most unexpected person sitting at the table, cradling a chipped mug full of tea.

 

“Severus?” Draco froze, eyes going wide. “What are you doing here?”

 

The man looked entirely out of place sitting in the Weasley’s kitchen. In a room of pastel yellows and pinks and soft cream, he was a miniature dark hole, in black from head to toe. He was dressed in simple trousers and an oxford shirt, with the cuffs buttoned tight around his wrists.

 

The man set his tea down carefully before answering. ‘I received a barrage of messages after Sirius and Bellatrix escaped. Seeing as I am...familiar with the two of them, there were more than a few people eager to alert me of their escape. People on both sides, actually.”

 

Draco kept his face carefully neutral as he poured himself his own cup of tea. “So, if you’re here that means this is serious, it’s more than just the Ministry trying to protect itself.” He mixed in the sugar and ilk carefully, enjoying the delicate tapping sound the spoon made against the side of the cup. “So, what does this mean?”

 

Snape sighed and tipped his head back, hair falling away form his face. “It means I am going to be looking after you for a little while. Perhaps until the next school year starts.” He pulled out his wand and tapped it on the table, producing a key with a wooden tag on the end in the shape of a cauldron. “We leave for Diagon Alley in a few hours. You should go and gather your things,”

 

Draco stared at the key, recognizing the logo. The Leaky Cauldron. He was familiar with the tavern, even though he had never stayed inside or even gone in. It wasn’t the sort of place his parents frequented, and they didn’t often let him loose in Diagon Alley on his own, too worried he might do or say something that would tarnish the family name. Like eat in a pub. Well, it was a bit late to worry about their reputation now.

 

“I don’t want to go.” The words were out before he could even think, and he was surprised to find he meant them. He didn’t want to go. No matter how much he had hated the idea of going to stay with the Weasley family, he had settled in. Against all odds, he liked it there. He liked the loud family meals and play fighting with the twins, he even liked sharing a room with Ron, which might have been the biggest surprise of all.

 

Snape raised an eyebrow. “Oh? I seem to remember you acting as though being sent here was as bad as a Dementor’s Kiss. I’m shocked to hear you had such a change of heart.” Whatever surprise he might have been feeling, he kept his voice low and flat. “Well unfortunately you can’t stay here. The Burrow is a very...nice...house but not exactly an easy place to keep a person safe if dark wizards or witches are after them. You know that much. And Diagon Alley is harder to sneak around unseen. People would recognize Black or Lestrange. Out here, you’re all alone, and Molly and Arthur aren’t trained duelists.”

 

“And you are,” Draco muttered, chewing at his bottom lip. It was a new habit, one his parents wouldn’t have permitted, which somehow made it more satisfying. “Fine, I can gather my things now, and then we can leave.” He turned form the table but was stopped by Snape’s hand clutching his sleeve.

 

The man was still staring at the ceiling but he kept his grip on Draco’s arm as he spoke. “It won’t be forever Draco, it won’t be forever even if it feels like it. And it will keep them safe. You don’t want anyone in this house hurt because of you.” When he was done speaking he let go, allowing Draco to move away and out of the kitchen.

 

Draco passed Molly on his way up the stairs. She was still in her dressing gown, her hair a mess of red curls around her head. “Oh, Draco, up already? I’m sorry, I was up a bit late and slept in, breakfast will be on in just a mo’.”

 

Draco gestured over his shoulder with his chin. “Snape’s downstairs.”

 

Molly’s face fell, her smiling fading away. ‘Oh dear, already? I hadn’t realized it was so late.” She looked past him down the stairs and took a deep breath. “Well, I suppose he’s told you already, hasn’t he? He’s not one to just wait around.”

 

Draco nodded and looked down at their feet. He was wearing what he suspected were a pair of Ron’s socks, they were hand knit and a bit large on him, but exceedingly cozy. Molly was wearing worn pink house slippers, with little satin roses on the top. “He told me.”

 

Molly made a choked little noise in the back of her throat and grabbed Draco by the shoulders, pulling him into a tight hug. The boy went stiff, unsure what to do with his arms. His parents were never much for hugs, and his legion of nannies and au pairs hadn’t been any more affectionate. So he just stood there and let Molly hold him, soaking in the warmth and softness of her body, and drinking in her smell. She smelled like a mother in a way his never had, fresh baked bread and flowers from the garden and lemon from the scrubbing powder she used in the kitchen, and underneath it all the faint hint of baby powder. His mother had always smelled nice, expensive, but in that moment Molly Weasley was the nicest thing he had ever smelled.

 

He pulled away when he heard feet at the top of the stairs, turning and hurrying downstairs before anyone could see him in that moment of weakness. Severus was still in the kitchen, leafing through a book that belonged to Arthur, some battered muggle book with the name Pratchett on the side.

 

“They’re all coming down for breakfast,” Draco warned him, shooting a look back at the stairs. “Just so you know.”

 

Snape’s face went, if possible, even paler than it already was. He snapped the book closed and set it down on the table. “Yes, well then. I will be off. I shall come back and collect you this afternoon, after you have had time to pack.”

 

Severus was just setting his mug in the kitchen sink when Molly came around the corner. “Oh, Severus, won’t you stay for breakfast?” She cinched her robe a bit tighter and  started waving her wand, summoning eggs and milk and butter and bacon form the fridge.

 

Severus coughed and looked past her to the parade of red headed children coming down the stairs, still in their pajamas. “Er, no, sorry. Don’t want to impose-”

 

“Oh, you wouldn’t be! And you're so thin! Those house elves at Hogwarts must not be feeding you right!” Molly looked the man over and tutted.

 

Severus shook his head and grabbed the book he had been reading, tucking it under his arm. “Sorry, but I’m very busy. I’ll be back to collect Draco later.” he nodded curtly and disapparated with a quiet snap.

 

“Wassat Snape?” Ron asked, voice catching as he yawned.

 

“What’s that greasy git doing here?” Fred asked, taking a seat at the table.

 

“Yeah, it’s Summer and we’re at home, that’s a safe space! We don’t go by his house during holiday and drop dungbombs down the chimney!” George plopped down in a seat next to his twin.

 

Draco shot them both a nasty look. “My god father was here to tell me-”

 

“He’s taking Draco away for a little while,” Molly interrupted. “Oh a...vacation of sorts!” She shot Draco a stern look and then plastered her smile back on.

 

“A vacation?” Ron raised his eyebrows. “Really?”

 

Draco mouthed ‘no’ to the boy behind Molly’s back, and then sat down at the table.

 

Molly nodded and got to work making eggs. The rest of the kids seemed satisfied enough and after a minute or two they were bickering over toast and chatting happily.

 

“So, what’s really going on?” Ron asked quietly, leaning in close to Draco. “I mean, no way Snape came here just to take you away to Brighton Beach for a weekend.”

 

Draco snorted. “No, he’s going to take me to stay in Diagon Alley. They don’t think I’m safe here with my aunt and cousin running loose.”

 

Ron’s eyes went wide. “But...you’re here with us, how’s that not safe? Mum’s here all the time and Dad’s only in the office a few hours a day.”

 

Draco shrugged and grabbed himself a piece of toast. “Do you really think they could take on Black and Lestrange. I heard that when Sirius killed Peter Pettigrew, all that was left was a finger. He blew him up. And Bellatrix and her husband…” he trailed off. Ron knew more than enough about what they were capable of.

 

Ron seemed to deflate, poking idly at the sausage Molly deposited on his plate. “Yeah...I guess. And Snape did run the dueling club last year.”



“Yeah, along with that idiot Lockhart. Hey, I wonder what happened to him? I didn’t see him when we were leaving the castle.” Draco’s brow furrowed.

 

Ron’s face went red. “Oh yeah, about that….” He bit back a giggle. “I’ll tell you later. Mum was a big fan of his, and it’s best she doesn’t know.”

 

Draco raised a delicate eyebrow and took a bite of his toast. “Okay, you can tell me while I pack.”

 

Ron’s smile faded slightly. “Yeah, while you pack.”