Hari is just finishing cleaning up his breakfast when Narcissa steps through the hidden entrance to his rooms.
“Hello, Narcissa,” he smiles politely at her, inclining his head just so.
“Good morning, Hari,” she nods back, “I trust your lesson with Lucius went well yesterday?”
“It did,” Hari confirms, “we used one of the new werewolf bills being presented to discuss the process of turning an idea into a law and how it can be enforced. It is a much more complicated process than I had previously realized.” After over a month and a half of receiving etiquette lessons, Hari has made significant progress. His dancing is no longer simply passable, he knows the proper behavior for formal settings, and has learned to hold himself and speak in such a way that befits his station. Though, to be fair, he does let himself relax a bit when he’s alone.
“One of the many reasons I am glad my husband is Head of House instead of myself,” she says amicably. “Are you excited for school to begin again?”
“Most definitely,” Hari agrees immediately. “As wonderful as it is here,” he sighs, “and despite all the letters, I miss the others. I cannot wait to see them again.”
“Well, school is just around the corner. If you are ready, we can take your measurements to send to Madame Malkin’s.”
“I’ll also need new robes, since I’ve grown an inch since summer started,” Hari tells her, pride swirling in his chest.
“A full inch?” Narcissa arches an eyebrow. “That is quite quick,” she smiles at him, pleased, “I will take down your measurements and have you sign for new robes tomorrow. Draco and Pansy assure me you are not to select your own clothing.” Her eyes glint teasingly. Hari huffs a slight laugh.
“They would say that, wouldn’t they? I’m sure I’d do better now than last year, although some of wizarding fashion still escapes me. I’m sure they’ll do a fine job selecting a new wardrobe for me.”
“They did not buy you clothing for your birthday, did they?”
“Thankfully, no.” None of it would’ve fit if they had. “Oh! My apologies, please, sit,” Hari realizes rather suddenly he has yet to offer her tea. “Would you like tea?”
“Not today, thank you, Hari.” There’s some pride in her eyes that fill Hari with warmth. It took him to long to get around to it, in his mind, but it’s improvement. “We shall collect your measurements, review the different ways to tie your tie and fold your handkerchief, and some more dancing.”
They dance every day. It doubles up as both dancing and mind healing and is Hari’s favorite part of the day. He has less nightmares and is far more confident than he was before, though, to be fair, all the lessons probably contribute to that.
Narcissa transfigures a chair into a step for him to be measured on and, after just a minute, his new sizing is marked down on two parchments and they begin reviewing the folds. She doesn’t even pull out the ties right away, instead making him sit and explain the reasoning behind the knots to start.
“What knots do you use?”
“Café, Eldredge, Prince, and Trinity. I use the Café knot for daytime meetings with close friends and allies where I can be less formal. The Eldredge know is for meetings and dinners that are more formal or with someone who I am not close to. The Prince knot is for high formal events that I am not wearing traditional garb for and is primarily a statement knot. I should especially use it when I need to remind others of my status and power. The Trinity is my go-to knot, a symbol of how I have six Houses. This is for all Wizengamot sessions and meetings with Ministry officials.”
“Good. Match them with the appropriate handkerchief fold.”
“Café gets the Scallop fold, chosen for simplicity and elegance, and how it’s shape aligns with the knot. Eldredge matches with the Three Point fold, as it is simple and almost looks like the start of a braid. Prince matches with Monarch, matched for the same reasons we chose the Prince knot. The Trinity knot gets the Trifold, as two sets of three make six.”
“Very well done. Demonstrate tying and folding each and we will move on.” She hands Hari a tie and, over the next seven minutes, he works his way through each knot. They’re all complicated in their own right, but after a month of practice, he has them down. For the most part. The handkerchiefs are easier, since they chose all of them to be as simple and easy-to-remember as possible, except for the Monarch fold, which is the only one he’s had to really work for. Finally, they’ve finished with them and moved on.
“What knots does Draco use?” Hari asks when they’ve been dancing for a few minutes.
“Diamond, True Love, and Cape. He will use True Love most frequently,” Narcissa shares after a gentle twirl. “Your dancing is much improved.”
“Thank you.” When they’re done dancing, Narcissa readies herself to leave.
“You have what you need to prepare a lunch?”
“I do, thank you.”
“Good,” she sets a hand on his cheek. “There is only two more weeks and you will return to school.”
“Speaking of, should I be using a different knot for my school tie?”
“No, the usual is acceptable. It is a uniform, after all.”
“Work on your homework when I leave,” she orders.
“How much do you have left?”
“For Hogwarts? None. I finished two days ago. For Lucius? It’ll take the afternoon. And you? Just a page of handwriting exercises.”
She hums, “you’ll have to tell me what else you’re learning tomorrow. If you’ll excuse me,” she crosses to the door, “I must go and see that Draco eats before beginning his lessons.”
“I shall see you tomorrow,” Hari nods formally, “Have a wonderful rest of your day.”
“And you as well,” Narcissa says and slips out the door. Hari sighs. Lucius comes every other day and Narcissa comes every day, but he hasn’t been able to leave the small set of rooms and, honestly, it’s lonely. They try to keep him busy, but there’s only so much homework that can be assigned.
Hari whips himself up a quick lunch and settles in after to work on the reading portion of his homework. Current lessons focus on different laws, why they were passed, and how they affect the populace. They may or may not include ways to tiptoe around said laws, but that’s another story.
He ends up reading for several hours before taking a break to work on the handwriting parchments Narcissa sent him. He always does more work than she sets for those since he knows his handwriting with a quill is abysmal. This was another way for her to separate him from the rest of the Wizengamot. She selected a rather unusual way for him to form his letters. They are serpentine and almost curl into each other. They are more than legible, but look almost like cursive or calligraphy. Draco’s, instead, are long and thin and elegant.
When his handwriting practice is done, he has a healthy dinner and takes his potions, then sets about writing the essay Lucius requested. By the time he’s done, it’s time to go to bed. And so passes yet another day in the tiny, luxurious apartment hidden from the Dursleys.
All good things must come to an end, Hari reminds himself, sighing into the mirror.
“Critter!” He calls out.
“Master Hari be calling Critter?”
“Hello, Critter,” Hari smiles at the helpful creature, “would you pack up my things into my trunk for me? I can’t seem to get it all to fit.”
“Critter can!” The little house elf busies himself quickly and carefully layering things into the new trunk Narcissa had bought Hari. The other, second-hand one she had said was no good for him. This one has charms to make it weightless, hold an immense number of books in a categorized system, and even hang his robes. So maybe Hari could have gotten it all to fit on his own, but Critter can do it faster and Hari doesn’t exactly have time.
He turns back to the mirror and finishes adjusting the Trinity knot around his neck. Narcissa insisted that he simply must arrive to King’s Cross in proper Lordling attire. When Draco and Blaise both confirmed they would be dressing similarly, Hari caved and selected a cobalt shirt, light charcoal gray tie and pants and a matching waistcoat with a cobalt handkerchief. Instead of wearing a jacket, he layers a set of breathable, dark charcoal robes over the top. With half his hair braided neatly into a top-knot, he looks almost regal.
“Will Master Hari be needing anything else?”
“Actually, yes, Critter. I need you to take the trunk and Hedwig’s cage to Malfoy Manor.” Critter has made that exact trip multiple times this summer, carrying things too large and heavy for an owl.
“Of course, Master Hari,” Critter grins and snaps his fingers, disappearing with the items. Hari walks the area once more, examining the space in case he’s forgotten anything. In the end, there’s no sign he’d even stayed over the summer. With a brief glance at the clock, he realizes it’s time to go.
Hari crosses to the door that opens into the Dursley’s house and turns the handle. Taking a deep breath, he steps out. Time to practice what Narcissa taught him about taking stairs. He lifts his chin, draws his shoulders back, and lets his arms settle at his sides, looking relaxed and confident. He takes the stairs slowly, staring not quite straight ahead, but to the side, where the sitting room is.
“Boy,” Uncle Vernon starts to growl, “what are you—“
Hari cuts him off, “I do believe we agreed that September first, at nine-thirty in the morning, you would drive me to King’s Cross Station.”
“Not dressed like that! You look like a freak!”
“Where did you even get those clothes? Did you steal them?” Aunt Petunia shrieks.
“The Potter family has stocks in many prominent wizarding companies. I have inherited these stocks and have access to a trust fund with plenty of money to afford the clothing of my choice,” Hari steps onto the landing and turns to face them, looking down the bridge of his nose through his ‘formal’ silver glasses. “Robes are the clothes of my culture and, as such, I will be wearing them. They will be unnoticeable in the car and you will not be seen with me in public, as all that is necessary is you dropping me off at the entrance. I will make my to the tracks on my own.”
Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon stare at him in shock and Dudley, who’s been whining from the kitchen about wanting cake, seems to be winding up for a tantrum and hasn’t realized Hari’s there.
“Now, see here, boy,” Uncle Vernon storms forward a few steps, but Hari doesn’t flinch back. He simply stomps down the fear and stares Uncle Vernon down.
“Should you refuse to uphold your end of the deal, I will have to inform Professor Dumbledore of the fact that you refused to house me for the summer,” Hari angles his chin disdainfully, “and speak to Lord Malfoy about your behavior.” Hari pauses to take in the spectacular shade of purple his uncle’s face is turning. “A half hour drive and you will not see me for ten months.” That cinches it, it’s written on their faces.
“I WANT CAKE!” Dudley screams from the kitchen and there’s a loud crash. Hari wrinkles his nose and darts a glance towards the entrance. It’s only Narcissa’s voice in his mind that keeps him from commenting on the immature behavior.
When you have won, say no more, or risk being stabbed in the back. Lucius had reiterated the words not hours later and they stuck with Hari.
“Get in the car,” Uncle Vernon grunts, “back seat.” Hari nods primly and makes his way outside as instructed.
The ride is uncomfortably quiet, though preferable to anything Uncle Vernon could say.
Then, it is broken by the words, “you really are rich, then?”
Hari sneers and replies in a smooth voice, “incredibly.”
“Ought to pay us back for all we’ve done for ya,” the man grumbles.
“I believe Professor Dumbledore already did so, although not a cent ever actually went towards my care,” Hari hums, “went to Dudley’s thirty-nine birthday presents, didn’t it?”
Uncle Vernon flushes red and says no more, pulling into the lot of King’s Cross Station. This time last year, he had laughed at Hari’s ticket that read ‘Platform 9 ¾.” Now, he can’t say a thing about it. Hari knows where he’s going.
“I believe Lord Malfoy will be coming to speak with you about my arrangements for next year. You can expect him in May or June. Likely, you will only need to collect me from King’s Cross on the last day of June. Other arrangements will be made for my return trip. I doubt you will ever see me again after that. One more half-hour, Uncle Vernon, and then you will see me no more,” Hari opens the door and steps out. “Somehow, it still sounds like far too long.” The door closes behind him with a click and Hari strides into the building.
He gets through the barrier without issue and finds a compartment for them, at the back of the train like last year. Then, and only then, he collapses into giggles.
“I can’t believe I said that!” His hysterical laughter continues until he hears other voices on the platform.
“I don’t see him, Mother,” Draco’s voice calls, “What if—“
“Draco!” Hari cries and darts off the train. The taller boy spins and then scoops Hari into a hug.
“I was so worried when I didn’t see you right away!” He pulls back suddenly, “oh, these clothes do suit you. Good combination, too.” The praise would be unexpected if Narcissa hadn’t been teaching Hari all summer long.
“Thank you,” Hari grins at his friend, “I like your outfit, too. Especially the knot. What’s it called?” He knows which ones Draco’s supposed use, but hasn’t got what they looked like memorized, yet. It looks incredibly similar to how Hari’s is tied.
“True Love,” Draco says self-importantly. Hari grins and studies the whole outfit. The tie is a satin white on a matching button-down with pale gray slacks and waistcoat and a set of shining silver robes. His shoes are the same gray as his slacks, gleaming in the artificial light. His handkerchief matches his tie to perfection, the stitching of his initials sticking out on the peak of the Crown fold.
“It’s a gorgeous knot,” Hari decides and Draco preens.
“Draco, Hari!” Blaise calls from across the station, towing Pansy and Daphne behind him. The girls are wearing nice, closed robes that reach the floor, Pansy’s a garnet red and Daphne’s tanzanite blue, reminiscent of their Houses’ colors. Blaise has a smooth black suit with bronze robes billowing around him and matching his tie and handkerchief, tied and folded in simple, classic styles.
“Oh, Merlin, you’ve passed on your flare for the dramatic,” Blaise groans when he sees Hari’s tie.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Draco glares.
“He means, darling, that not everyone feels the need to tie their knot specially,” Pansy rolls her eyes at Draco, “it’s ever so dramatic.”
“Well,” Hari looks down at his tie, brushing his fingers over the knot, “Narcissa taught it to me. I think it looks nice.”
The girls take their time studying Hari’s expression, then nod, leaving Blaise confused.
“That’s fine, then,” Daphne allows, “we just assumed it was Draco’s drama-queen flare that had gotten to you.”
Hari laughs, “no, no, it was the lovely Lady Malfoy.” He smiles over his shoulder at her.
“Are you all ready to board?” She asks, ignoring the flattery.
“Yes, Mother, we’re ready.”
“Very well.” Narcissa hugs each of them, starting with Draco, before sending them aboard. Hari is last. “There weren’t any issues getting here, correct?”
“No,” Hari shakes his head, “he tried to insist he wouldn’t take me, but I reminded him that if he didn’t I’d have to tell Dumbledore that I’d spent the summer elsewhere and that if he drove me, he wouldn’t see me for ten months.”
“I’ll speak with him,” Lucius sighs, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
“No need, really,” Hari tilts his head slightly, “I may have informed him that if he collects me from King’s Cross at the appropriate time next year, he wouldn’t have to see me ever again after that. I didn’t see his reaction, but I assume he was pleased.”
“If you’re sure,” Lucius allows, tilting his head slightly. “Did he say anything else?”
“He commented on how much money I have and stated that I should pay them back for supporting me.” Hari smirks, “I told him Dumbledore already had and that all that money went to Dudley, anyway. He went bright purple.”
“I’m sure he did, sweetie,” Narcissa smiles at Hari, then sends him off to the train after one more hug. “We did a good job with him, didn’t we?” She turns to smirk proudly at her husband.
“He learns quickly,” Lucius agrees, “and he wants to become the person we’re building him into.”
“Hopefully, this year will be a relaxing one for them,” Narcissa leans into Lucius’ side, “they deserve it after last year.”
“I don’t think any year could be relaxing for them so long as that fool is in the school.” Lucius twirls his cane. “I’ve requested Severus keep a closer eye on them.”
The couple makes their way back to the apparition point and, with a loud crack, they apparate away as the train leaves the station.
On the train, the children are gossiping about their summers, despite the fact they had sent dozens of letters to each other. Hari doesn’t have too much to share—all he’d done was homework and lessons—but the others have so much to respond to, it doesn’t even matter. At one point, Pansy talks about the new knives she got for a full forty-five minutes. The whole group finds themselves bored out of their minds—except Draco, who is fascinated.
“I like weapons,” Daphne mutters, “but not like them.” The three not wrapped up in discussion chuckle at the soft words. Just then, the trolley pulls up, offering them sweets. They order an inordinate amount and settle in to ruin their dinners. Which they manage to do, rather successfully.
Several hours later finds the girls stepping out to change in a separate compartment while the boys dig out their robes. Hari freezes when his hit the light.
“Draco,” he says, trying not to hyperventilate, “we’re going to need to speak to Professor Snape. And your dad.”
“Why, what’s…” Draco trails off when he sees what’s wrong. “Blaise, could you lend him one of your ties? He’ll fit better in my robes—or, you know what, maybe Daphne’s would fit better. The outer robes are unisex, after all.” Draco hums and then slips out of the compartment.
“Dumbledore is so messed up,” Blaise grumbles, handing a spare tie to Hari. Draco returns with a robe from Daphne, close enough to the correct size to pass. Hari puts the items on gratefully, burying the red, Gryffindor robes in his trunk. Maybe they’ll change back once they get to the dorms.