Harry Potter kept a scrapbook in a shoebox at the bottom of his wardrobe. Nobody knew about the scrapbook, except for the cleaning lady, who found it when she was looking for somewhere to put his new dress shoes.
There were clippings and photographs that depicted the life of not just himself, but the people who meant the most to him. His parents, his godfathers, his best friends.
He had some gingham-tinted Polaroids from his parents’ small wedding, nearly two decades ago. They looked young and radiant, holding hands at the altar and twirling around on the dance floor. You’d never have guessed Harry’s mother was already expecting him.
He had glossy photographs of the day he was born, of his father stood outside a shop with his godfathers, back when they were business partners, newspaper articles on how well their joke shop had done, and how they were expanding to toys.
Harry kept track of the sad bits of life, too. Articles with headlines like, “James and Lily Potter, 21, Murdered in Home,” “Peter Pettigrew Found Guilty of Potter Murders, Sirius Black Acquitted,” and, “Remus Lupin and Sirius Black, Same-Sex Partners, To Raise Harry Potter Together”.
Not that his life with Remus and Sirius was sad — he couldn’t imagine a happier life, especially after having heard about how nasty his mother’s family seemed to be. Harry grew up with punk-rock vinyls and classic literature, late-night motorbike rides and stargazing trips.
He was raised never wanting for anything. Well, except for a living father and mother.
James and Lily were killed just after a massive career success. Toymaking had turned out so well for James, Remus, Sirius and Peter, (by then, working under the name Marauders Incorporated) that they decided to expand to the entertainment industry. They started with children’s programmes, then comedies, and before long they were sensations in the world of filmmaking. After a few years, they branched out even further, dappling in the stock market or the Information Technology industry.
The strange and tragic death of the Potters, and Harry’s unconventional living situation, brought quite a lot of media attention to his little family. Some of his earliest memories involved scrapes with the paparazzi.
The tabloids adored him, though. Since the age of thirteen, he’d been a sort of prince of the business world. The Boy Who Lived, they called him. Sirius thought it was a great laugh. Especially whenever he’d see a teen magazine going on about how Harry was mysterious, kind, clever, and athletic.
It could all be a bit overwhelming at times. The smiling, the handshakes, the selfies, always having to look over your shoulder. But Harry knew that, if he ever felt truly uncomfortable with all the attention, Remus and Sirius would get a restraining order on anyone in the city with a camera, or drop everything and move to some remote farmhouse in Scotland.
A farmhouse in Scotland seems lovely right now, Harry thought to himself, as he tied his bowtie in the bathroom mirror. Remus stood beside him, combing his hair and listening to Sirius complain bitterly about the gala they were attending that evening.
“Sybill Trelawney will be there again,” Sirius whined from his bedroom. “She’s always cornering me to talk about astronomy or Mercury in retrograde or some rubbish like that.” He marched into the bathroom. “Just because I’m named after a star, it doesn’t mean I care about stars.”
“You do care about stars, though, Sirius,” Remus said serenely. “How many years in a row have we gone to Exmoor?”
“But that’s different! I don’t miss any drinks and appetizers at Exmoor because I’m discussing the phases of the moon.”
“At the last party,” Harry said, “he didn’t have any time to make fun of people with me, because Sybill Trelawney was telling him about auras.”
Sirius flapped his hands at Harry, in an, ‘I told you so,’ sort of way.
Remus sighed, and walked over to Sirius. “If you’re cornered by that woman again,” he said, reaching out to straighten Sirius’ collar, “I’ll pretend to pass out and we can go home early.”
Sirius grinned, leaned forwards, and pecked his lips.
Harry looked at himself in the mirror and cringed.
“Don’t act so prudish, Harry,” Remus said. “I seem to remember a Ginny Weasley—”
Harry realized that the mention of Ginny didn’t sting as much as he thought it might. They’d been together for several months, much to Ron’s chagrin. But they ended up breaking it off when they realized they were more interested in the sports they played than each other.
“What time is the car getting here?” Harry asked.
“Not for another half-hour,” Remus replied.
Harry went to sit in the lounge. Of all the rooms in their large flat, the lounge was his favourite. There was a massive sectional sofa in the middle of the room, one side facing the television, and the other the city skyline, visible from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
He switched on the TV — an old episode of Fawlty Towers was playing — and Sirius, from the kitchen, said, “I’ll starve to death if all they’ve got are those moronic little hors d’oeuvres.” He pronounced the last two words with an over-the-top French accent.
Harry was hit in the back of the head with something lightweight. A packet of Walkers crisps tumbled onto the sofa beside him.
“You need to work on your reflexes, Potter,” Sirius said. Harry turned around to argue that there was no way to know he had to catch the crisp packet, unless he had eyes on the back of his head, when he fell into a surprised silence.
“Are you wearing a baby’s bib?” he asked, pointing to what was undeniably a baby’s bib, with black dogs stitched on it.
“It’s to preserve the suit. I don’t know why they don’t make them for adults, really.”
Harry looked at Remus, so they could go on about how insane Sirius was, only to spot him sitting cross-legged on the counter, eating a packet of Smoky Bacon crisps with a moon-patterned bib tied around his neck.
“You’re both mental,” Harry said, a laugh seeping into his voice.
Harry leaned against a wooden post in the ballroom. The gala was in one of those spaces in hotels that were available for events like weddings. There were tables set up by the door, and a string quartet was playing by the tile dancefloor. Overhead, an indoor balcony wrapped around the room.
Guests were milling about. Harry caught sight of Remus and Sirius chatting with an older woman, wearing spectacles and an emerald-green dress. He was growing bored, and was half-tempted to find someone to dance with.
A woman with pale blonde curls and ostentatious rhinestone glasses stepped up to him. She was holding a notepad, and a couple of men with cameras stood on either side of her.
“You are Harry Potter, aren’t you? I’ve got some questions for you, Mr. Potter, if you don’t mind.”
“Well, actually, I—”
The woman ignored him, and said, “Is it true that you suffer from night terrors, surrounding the subject of your parents’ gruesome murder?”
“I really don’t think—”
“Would you care to comment on the rumours of your being involved with a certain young royal?”
“Now, that’s not—”
“And just who are you wearing tonight?”
Harry resisted the urge to take her notepad and throw it across the room.
“Oh, look over there!” he said, pointing to the door. “I think that’s Elton John who just walked in!”
The reporter and the photographers all turned, a couple of camera flashes going off. Harry slipped away, up the stairs, and let himself disappear into the crowd on the balcony. He glanced down at the ballroom, and saw the reporter and photographers being led out of the building by security guards.
He pushed past a large group of women in evening dresses, all holding elegant flutes of champagne, and walked around the balcony, until he found himself at the terrace doors.
The night was clear, and Harry wondered if he would be able to see any stars, in spite of the city lights. He opened the doors and stepped out onto the terrace, only to see someone his age leaning on the railing.
Harry’s heart began to pound in his chest, the sound reverberating throughout his body. His hands curled into fists. He hated Draco, the same way Batman probably hated the Joker. Or Romeo would have hated Juliet, if he weren’t hit so hard by the lust train.
He was the son of Lucius Malfoy, current head of Malfoy Enterprises. For as long as Harry could remember, Malfoy Enterprises had been butting heads with Marauders Incorporated over political influence, industry expansions, land . . . just about every conceivable business feud had happened between the two companies.
These disputes would sometimes become personal, because Sirius had once been a part of the family that ran Malfoy Enterprises. Near the end of secondary school, they’d had some big row, and Sirius was banished from both clan and company.
The Malfoys and their extended family were a bunch of stuck-up dickheads, but none of them more so than Draco. He was a smarmy, stuffy bloke, who’d always looked as though he wouldn’t have lived more than a decade if it weren’t for modern medicine. He was bigoted and prejudiced, and given the legal opportunity, Harry wouldn’t hesitate to throw him from this very terrace.
“Potter,” Draco sneered. “I’m surprised to see you up here. I thought you couldn’t resist getting the crowds to swoon at you.”
“Well, we can’t all be as reclusive as you.”
Draco frowned. “Just because I’m not on the cover of every teen magazine—”
“That only happened twice!”
“And how many articles? How many gossip columns?”
Harry crossed his arms. “Are you jealous or something, Draco?”
“Not jealous. Pitying.”
Harry wondered how much trouble he would be in if he punched Draco. When they were fourteen, he pushed Draco into a chocolate fountain at a YoungMinds charity party. Remus and Sirius hadn’t let him try out for his school’s football team as punishment.
(“Don’t you think you’re being a bit extreme, Remus, love?” Sirius had said.)
(Remus slapped a newspaper onto the table in response. On the front page was a picture of Draco lying in the fountain, with the headline, “Carrying On the Family Feud? Harry Potter Sends Draco Malfoy on a Sweet Sweep Off His Feet.”)
Harry opened his mouth to retort — probably about being the media’s favourite, or about Draco looking like a member of the Addams family — when a sharp crack rang through the air, punctuated by screams. At first, Harry thought the sound was fireworks being set off, then realized they were gunshots. He dove for the ground, grabbing Draco by the sleeve of his tuxedo jacket, and pulling him with him. They were huddled on the ground, behind a large planter, just out of sight of the door.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” a voice from downstairs bellowed. “If you cooperate, there is no need to be alarmed!”