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The Principle of Sympathy

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The Principle of sympathy:

The Principle of Sympathy:

First law of the Magical discipline called Thaumaturgy.

meaning :"like produces like; what belongs together, comes together."

 

Chapter 1: Silence of a Malfoy

A silent demise,


Indignant by nature, A tragedy profound
When put to the test, Determination found
Horror within, Dissipates away
Falling to your knees, the time has come to pray...

"You! Narcissa! Examine the Boy! Tell me whether he is dead!" he heard a deep shrill voice say some distance away from him. It was unmistakably Voldemort's.

Narcissa? His mind was still a little dazed. He had heard that name before. Before he could pin point the identity his mind provided him with a visual. Long straight blonde hair, thin face, pursed lips, blue eyes and a nose wrinkled in disgust. Narcissa, Narcissa Malfoy. Mother of one Draco Malfoy. Thorn in his side, Arch nemesis, evil git, Draco Malfoy. Draco Malfoy that he had just rescued a little while ago from certain death by fiendfyre that one of his cronies had conjured in the room of requirements. With Ron and Hermione. They had barely escaped. Ron and Hermione. His friends, his life. He did have a life. It was waiting for him back at Hogwarts, for one last show down. He knew it all now and he refused to die, he of all people had been given a chance for some reason and he had never been one to give up on a chance to do something right.

But now time to kill was closing in. His hand closed in on the wand that was still tucked under his jumper, Draco Malfoy's wand. Narcissa Malfoy was all that stood between him and Voldemort and certain death. He reeled in a slow breath. Just as he felt something soft and silky touch his face, a soft hand, in a gesture softer than he expected, brushing against his face and then a finger pressed tenderly against his neck.

"Draco? Is he in the castle?" she whispered so near to his ear. He knew she could give him away any moment and if she wanted the reassurance before she gave him away, well, he could not deny a mother. He was not Voldemort.

"Yes." he exhaled slowly, a whisper only lower than hers as he felt the pressure of her hand moving from his neck to his chest, it clenched at his jumper for a moment before letting go.

"Survive Potter! For my Draco…" She whispered at him fiercely. It was an order, a plea all in one.

Survive for her Draco? The statement seemed very odd until he heard something even odder.

"He is dead My Lord." She said in a loud and clear voice.

There were suddenly whoops and cheers from all sides. Someone howled in despair at the same time. His heart skipped a beat, he felt so still with shock that he could really be mistaken for dead for a split second, that was before gratitude, awe and determination rushed in. He braced himself for the final test. He needed to play his cards right. He had been given a chance. One last move. To kill, to live. He knew now the power he had which Voldemort did not. He knew that he would succeed.


 

"Narcissa Malfoy died sometime last night in her sleep. The Malfoy solicitor informed us early this morning." Kingsley Shacklebolt pinches the bridge of his nose wearily.

The news is no surprise to me. A house elf from the manor informed me within an hour of her death last night. After all, I am one of the very few she still allowed visits to in her last days. As strange as it is. I have been perhaps the only social visitor to the woman who was once belle of every social ball.

I do not know when and how my silent friendship with the Malfoy matriarch developed. I think it started after Lucius Malfoy's death four years ago. With loss of Draco and Lucius, there was no one left for the stoic matriarch, who had taken a vow of silence for some reason after the war ended. Many do not know the fact, that the last ten words that Narcissa Malfoy uttered in her life were divided evenly between the dark lord and me. They also do not know that had those ten words never been spoken, the result of the war would have been very different. Even if no one knows now, Narcissa Malfoy knew the importance of those words, so do I, which is perhaps the reason she chose never to speak another word.

Mothers. They are such peculiar things. There was mine, who gave her life for me. There is Mrs. Weasley, who took life for her child and then there was Narcissa Malfoy, who saved me and killed another for her child, because saving me did lead to Voldemort's destruction for good. All of it for her child she never got to see again. She never regretted her decision though. She never complained. In words or in action.

So how do you react to the news of the death of someone who you never particularly liked yet owed your life to in a strange bizarre way? Someone you shared a silent, inexplicable, allegiance with. Someone you visited twice a month for a silent cup of tea religiously and never spoke a word to.

She had never welcomed me, but she had never turned me away as well. My relationship with the Malfoys has never been simple. I cannot say that I have ever understood them or their motives. There always have been many unknown variables. The past is just too complicated. Enough of musing. I feel the minister is waiting for my reaction to the news he has just delivered me.

"I see, that is grave news." I find myself saying. How very adult of me! I do feel a strange sense of loss though. I know why I am here sitting in front of the minister. I know what he is about to ask of me. I also know that I would say yes. That is one of the few things the war changed. Loss makes the previously brave, hypocrites.

Malfoy estate remains one of the biggest and richest estates in the whole of Europe. The Ministry that is still struggling seven years after the war, has been literally salivating after Malfoy wealth since the end of the war. If only I did not support the Malfoys in the trials after the war, the estate would have been dissolved years ago. I am a senior Auror but my standing in the wizarding world is still undisputed in places where it matters. Once a savior, always a savior.

I often wonder what it is that I lost in the war to be exact, because I definitely lost something, to date I can't figure it out. Innocence? I had very little to begin with. Loved ones, all those who I could die for as I knew them, survived. Sense of purpose perhaps? No, I still have some purpose. I still feel it in my bones at times.

"Yes, The Malfoys are extinct now." His eyes are narrowed now, he is trying to sell the point and make me agreeable even if I refuse to participate.

I wonder when this man, Kingsley Shacklebolt, who had been one of the most powerful and important members of the order of the Phoenix during the second war, has turned into a shrewd politician. He reminds me now of both Fudge and Scrimgeour. I had thought things would be different, he would be different, but I'd realized soon after the war was over, things change, but people change too. He is different from what he was, but very much same to where he is.

"But as it is, it is not my biggest concern. My biggest concern is the Manor. You know it was one of the Dark lord's head quarters. You know how these ancient wards work. No matter how we have searched and how many times we have raided, I know that there must still be some dark artifacts that the manor would be hiding on its own."

I raise a proper inquiring brow at that. This keeping face is important. Not many know of my continued visits to the Manor on ministry's time and even less know of my private visits. Not many know that the Manor wards allow me in. Even after Narcissa's death. I have visited to over-look the arrangements that the House elves are putting together to facilitate an open wake for the deceased.

"Customarily, the wards come down by themselves a day before Mrs. Malfoy's wake which we hear is set for next Friday. The seven days limit would be over, but for the sake of propriety I want to delay the search the day after the wake for Mrs. Malfoy. We have tried our best that the Malfoy honor remains intact, but now the pressure is too much Harry. I would have waited longer but you do understand that now that there is no nominated blood heir to the Malfoy estate, the Estate would automatically come under the care of ministry. So I have decided to send you with a group of Aurors, a curse-breaker and Unspeakables to search the Manor for all kinds of dark magic and artifacts. I still respect what she did for us in the final battle which is why I want you to lead the search. Properly and discreetly of course, before I send in the team from Gringotts to make a final estimation for the worth of the estate."

He takes a deep breath as he utters the last sentence of what seems like a well-rehearsed speech. I know I unnerve him. I know I unnerve most of the people around me. I do not know if it is just me or my Magic, which I admit might be a formidable thing if I had to confront it in someone else.

He brings the cup of tea to his mouth, hiding his face, reminding me that I have a similar cup of tea waiting for me as well in front of me. I decide to ignore it. No good can come from tea with the minister. I am sure of it.

"Very well Minister, I am glad that you are still concerned about propriety. I would gladly do the search of the manor coming Saturday. I only have one request though."I make sure my tone is as bored and unaffected as possible.

"Come Harry! No formalities, you only have to say." He is anxious. I can see his apprehension shining in his deep dark eyes. I know he wishes terribly that I was still the same boy he met nine years ago, who was so in awe of him. Well, sadly enough I wish he was the same man too as he was nine years ago. Alas…

"I would like to select the people who will aid me in this… endeavor… myself." I say standing from my seat. It takes him a moment to understand that I am taking what he just said very literally. I am telling him, not asking, no formalities indeed.


"Ron…. Hermione… I greet casually as I reach them at the far side of the Restaurant's outdoor compound.

"Ah! Mate! I thought you would never show up! I am starving!" Ron says huffing, his cheeks flushed, I shoot a look at Hermione who also looks somewhat flushed, her eyes shining, posture a little stiff. They still try to hide it when they are snogging. They never grew out of the habit. I look at them both keenly with a twinkling look I hope rivals the one Dumbledore used to give.

It is a beautiful day and I am thankful that my best friends have chosen the outdoor tables at Finnegan's where we usually have our lunch on days the work is slow enough to take a long lunch break. It is a crisp spring afternoon. The blue sky and golden sun with fluffy white clouds, a perfect kind of day. On days like these I can lie on the grass in the back garden of my home, Grimmauld place and just stare at the sky. Given that such a day falls on a Sunday I don't have to work. Yes that is perfect. But it is not to be had. So I would make do with whatever I get.

This side of the restaurant does not face the main part of the Diagon Alley, for which I am thankful. The beautiful canopy above us turns a solemn Beige color from the Yellow that it was before. I see both Ron and Hermione notice.

Finnegan's is owned by our old school friend and fellow Gryffindor, the Irish pyromaniac Seamus Finnegan. Oddly enough in the three years of its running the kitchen has not suffered from a single fire incident. These canopies that adorn the open backyard of the restaurant were gifted to Seamus on the opening by the Three of us. They are inlaid with a slight empathy charm which evaluates the mood of the occupants and change color accordingly. Currently the Finnegan's is winding down from the Lunch rush so there aren't many canopied tables filled so I decide against deactivating the charm.

"I ordered the special for you with the lemonade." Hermione says her smile guarded. I smile at her in ascent removing my muted crimson Auror cloak and placing it on the back of my chair and opening a few buttons to loosen the collar of my scarlet Auror robes. Sometimes she just knows me too well, like a mother knows what the baby wants and precisely when. I love her for it. She has stood by me since I was a scrawny eleven year old with nothing but oversized, broken glasses , a mop of shaggy black hair and a lightning bolt scar to show for myself. Through thick and thin I always knew that Hermione would be by my side, No matter what. She is my rock. I turn to Ron who is also looking at me cautiously.

Ron is my rope. Sometimes he pulls me out of a precarious situations and sometimes he ties me down before I make a fool of myself. I often feel very…Compensated these days. If I was robbed of parents, I have friends like Ron and Hermione to look out for me. Especially now.

I know I worry them. With my workaholic tendencies and refusal to settle down. I know I worry them a lot with my loneliness and occasional bitterness. Sometimes they say jokingly that they feel I am possessed by Severus Snape's spirit. The way I brood and observe silently. It is difficult for them to accept that I have always been this way. It was just that from the time they met me and the formative years of our friendship we were in the middle of the war which brought out extreme emotions and reactions from me alongside the constant need for communication.

Now that my life is normal for the first time, I am my normal self. I am the boy who lived in the cupboard under the stairs with wall spiders for company. The boy who understands cruelty and malice the way most people don't. The boy who learned that the only way to keep surviving was by pretending you don't exist. The boy who learnt to make choices for the greater good rather than himself when he was finally given a choice. The boy who had willingly given himself to death and destruction to save everything. You don't make a choice like that lightly and just become all sunshine and cheers afterwards, not after you have been touched by evil in the ways I have been when I was just a boy. I am now that boy grown into a man. I understand the madness, the sadness, but I also accept that those things affected me. They are part of who I am now. Ingrained deep enough to not harm when dealt with, but impossible to change. What people don't realize is that people like me do not have a place in normal life, not in the normal sense at least.

"So how did it go with Kingsley Harry?"Hermione asks finally. She is one of the few who knew about my tentative and silent relationship with Narcissa.

"He wants to do the pillaging the day after the Wake. I am surprised that he was still piping about propriety and all that shit when we all know that all he wants is to gobble down the wealthiest wizarding estate in all of Europe. The good part is he wants me to do the pillaging and the best part is I was able to tell him that if I was about to do it, I would like to do with my own selection of Aurors and Unspeakables." I look at her meaningfully.

"Of course we would go with you Harry." she says extending her hand to touch mine over the table. It is such a familiar gesture from her it makes me feel like a Twelve year old again, who she soothed by telling that the one wizard Voldemort was scared of was Dumbledore, and as long as Dumbledore was around, no harm could come to us. I think I fell in love with her that night. That night made my bond with Hermione unbreakable. Like a bond between a brother and sister, made of same flesh and blood. All my friendships and relationships suffered strain at some point or another even with Ron, who left my side more than once, but never with Hermione. Hermione stayed with me. Always.

"I cannot ask you after what happened the last time you were there." despite my heart's protesting, I still want her to make this decision herself and save her from unnecessary pain. I see a shadow flicker in her eyes. The last time she had seen the Manor she had been tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange, Voldemort's most loyal and ardent death-eater, Psychopathic sister of Narcissa Malfoy. The scars from Hermione's last visit to the manor are still etched on her skin. I know what it is to ask this of her. The scars from the wars fade but never heal.

"No Harry, it was a different time and different circumstance. It does not matter anymore, in fact I would take it as a challenge!" she says beaming at me.

"Yes Harry, it's not like you have to ask me you know." Ron pipes up. Shrugging at me and scowling, before meticulously opening his cuffs and rolling them up as if he is about to get very handsy with something.

"You are my partner Ron, where I go you go, where you go, I go." I joke trying to dismantle the brooding atmosphere just as the waiter starts to serve the food explaining Ron's sleeve rolling.

"You see now Mione! You often ask me where I got the inspiration to name our son.. that's where! I go, you go, Hugo. Get it?" he says biting off half of a piece of ginger bread hastily and snorting, spewing crumbs all over. Some things never change. I can't help but snicker.

"Ronald Weasley! If that was your attempt at humor at the expense of your son! It was pathetic!" Hermione snaps at him in mock anger, which soon changes into an expression of adoration when Ron grins at her still chewing. It makes my heart clench somewhat. Witnessing happiness like this makes me more observant and cautious, I feel protective of it. I feel that something bad is going to happen just around the corner. It is natural. They are my best friends, married with two children and excellent careers with Ron, an Auror and a damn good one and Hermione an unspeakable and secretary supervisor for the department of mysteries. They have everything pegged down to perfection just like my parents did before I came along and it was all shattered into smithereens. I am the product of that perfect happiness and profound tragedy, the most tainted, jaded and imperfect being I know. So I watch like a hawk. This is perhaps one of the reasons I can never bring myself to settle down. I am what always goes wrong.

It was pretty much expected that I would marry Ginny right after the war. It just never happened. Our relationship was more broken than it was ever formed. I figured that I never had the passion for her. We were not compatible as lovers at all and we tried, quite a few times on and off until Two years ago when she finally decided to settle down with none other than Seamus. Now we have a very casual and easy friendship. No grudges, no broken hearts. I could not have asked for a better ending to that affair. Ginny is now pregnant with her first child and has already asked me to be the God father. Which would make me the God father of five children in total. I am a very busy man.

Lupin and Tonks' Teddy, George and Angelina's Freddie, Ron and Hermione's Rose and Hugo, and Ginny and Seamus' unnamed offspring all rely on me for all kinds of guidance in future, from pranks to Quidditch and career counseling to matters of the heart… Gods save them! I am thankful to God that Fred is gay and Godfather to rest of George's and Bill and Fleur's children. It is sort of daunting to be Godfather to five children at the age of Twenty four but then again, most of my friends are parents. I have nothing to complain.

I would be lying if I say I don't take special pride in being the undisputed favorite person of all my God children including the Unborn one, who bestowed me with its first kick ever just two days ago. Oh Yes, I am sure everyone saw me preening and bragging like the Gryffindor I am at the Burrow afterwards. I vowed to myself when I became Godfather to Teddy that I would be everything for Teddy that Sirius would have been for me had fate allowed. I work really hard at it and there is nothing more rewarding to me when I see my God children jump up and down at the mere sight of me. No matter how many times I see them during the week it's never enough for me, or them. Like I said, I am a very busy man.

I cannot blame my luck though as Hermione often points out for me, I myself particularly never go out of my way to score a date with someone, and the dates I do go on never work out very well.

Somewhere along the way, I figured that perhaps I am just not a very passionate or sexual person. Even if I have no problems in the department on a physical level at all, arousal comes as naturally to me as anyone, it's the fulfillment that is the problem. I have always been able to bring all my sexual partners to completion without any problems, several times , some even to date consider me the best they ever had, it's the other way round that is the problem. None of my sexual partners have ever been able to bring me to completion. It used to be frustrating in the beginning, expecting pleasure which everyone enjoyed around you with another person, but that is the extent of it. How can I waste away after something I never tasted? I desire it, I wish for it, but I have come to peace with the absence of it. Intimacy and connection can only go so far without completion, it is like a symphony without a crescendo. So in the end it's me and my good old hands.

Hermione suggests often that perhaps the trauma I had been through as a child had something to do with it and perhaps I should try to fix things with professional help, but she never pushes it and I just do not have time to speculate and fix what's wrong with me in that department apart from the very obvious insecurity. The lack of love-life on my part though has never done anything to erase constant speculation about me in gossip columns. I sometimes read them just for the sheer value of entertainment they provide me with during lonely breakfasts with Kreacher and Winky for company on weekends. I can be labeled as a Casanova type Sex-god to hopelessly impotent eunuch in a span of two days with full color details of sexual escapades I star in. I am after all the elusive, mysterious and so-called Hung like a horse Harry Potter, the most sought-after, eligible bachelor of the wizarding Europe. I even get fan mail from as far as Japan, Luna Lovegood, my friend, ex-lover and publicist tells me. To me it has all become an never failing source of amusement.

"Harry?" Hermione's voice brings me out of my musing. She is eyeing me knowingly.

"So, do you think we should go on Thursday and put up temporary wards on the manor until after the wake when we start the search? Just so none of the people invited to the wake venture inside and take anything that does not belong to them?" Ron asks chewing thoughtfully on his Pasta. I notice the identical order placed in front of me for the first time.

"I think that's a brilliant idea." says Hermione. "We'll do it on Thursday." I nod sighing happily at the tangy taste of my favorite lemonade with an extra pinch of pepper.

"How did she die though? You never told us in the note." Ron asks after a few moments of silence during which I shovel down half of my pasta.

"Broken Magical core. It was consuming her for past Seven years. I think she finally decided to give up."

Ron pales significantly at that and I realize how nonchalant I just sounded. It is not that I am heartless. It is just that I have witnessed Narcissa's suffering for past 4 years on a regular basis. The impending doom that she was wasting away and no one could do anything about it.

It was one of the final gifts Voldemort left for his followers. With his final annihilation, all bearers of the dark mark suffered from the magical backlash that shattered their core magic as it was what the dark mark was bound to. The bearers of the dark mark suffered according to the level of their devotion to Voldemort. The breaking of the Magical core is a painful and frustrating way to die. Seeing as the leaking and unstable magic slowly eats away at your body in order to find sustenance.

It eventually is based on the level of breakage. We have witnessed Death-eaters who died within days of the final death of Voldemort and then there were unexpected few who belonged to the Voldemort's inner circle yet survived for several years. A prime example being Lucius Malfoy who to everyone's surprise survived three years after the final battle, being the only one from Voldemort's inner circle to survive so long. It says a lot about his devotion and loyalty to Voldemort.

The fact that Narcissa survived seven years after the fall of Voldemort is testament to how little devotion had to do with her bearing the mark of the snake and skull even if her role in saving me during the final battle isn't enough proof. It is still tragic to die because of an ideology you did not even believe in and were pushed into out of obligation to the man you loved and child you would do anything to save. I understand the silent Narcissa Malfoy. I understand her melancholy even if her face never showed it. I never called her on it, but I am glad that her suffering is finally over.

"I didn't know she was a death eater!" Ron sounds shaky and looks away from me and suddenly very interested in the red and white table cloth.

"Not many know that Ron, and it's mainly because she wasn't. She carried the mark because she had no choice." I say it this time with proper amount of solemnity and condescension. Ron seems hesitant to meet my gaze for some reason.

"Harry is right, what bigger proof of that than her survival for seven years after the war." Hermione says quietly, her expression contrite enough for the both of them. I sigh internally. Seven years and they are still walking on egg-shells around me at times. Not that I do anything to discourage that.

Ron and Hermione have known from the beginning of my visits to the Malfoy manor, but they never ask me anything related to it. I was grateful for it in the beginning, knowing full well that it was by far the most out of character and impulsive thing I could be doing and then it just became a part of me that I never shared with anyone.

I did that with quite a few things actually. I now have my own secrets. A very heavily guarded private life and a secret fascination for ancient magics and wizarding traditions, which I shared even more secretly with Hermione. Oh yes, we paraded around the Ministry and then Hogwarts as well, that a special course regarding Wizarding traditions and etiquettes should be introduced for Muggleborns and those of us who had spent their childhood in the Muggle world.

It was initially to bridge the chasm between the surviving Pure-blood families and Muggleborns of which someone like Tom Riddle had taken advantage of. Reconciliation was the only way. Hermione and I had put forward valid arguments and counter-arguments to reconcile the differences and ease the social barriers. Both sides were wary, both criticized us, but it was a new-age of peace and after four years of struggle, a wizarding tradition and etiquette class was introduced at Hogwarts and made compulsory to take for all Muggleborns taking their OWLs just as Muggle studies was made compulsory for all pure-blood students. At the same time a class was also introduced for all Ministry trainees who were Muggleborns and another for all Pure-bloods. To acquaint them in to wizarding and muggle tradition respectively. Cover all fronts was and is our motto.

The success of our endeavor is just starting to show and the prime example of our success is Hogwarts the playground of anybody who will become somebody in the wizarding world. Slytherin is now most thoroughly integrated with other houses and has accepted its first few Muggleborns in more than Eighty years just last year. House rivalries still exist, but they are more of a competitive kind rather than blood-related prejudice. I observe it all first hand to my pleasure when I go to Hogwarts for a month every winter as a guest lecturer for 6th and 7th year advanced Defense against the Dark Arts. Hogwarts has never been more pleasant and every year I observe more and more Gryffindor and Slytherin couples. At times like that, I almost miss a certain sneer the face of the Ferret-prince of Slytherin would adorn, if he were to ever see such a thing as a Gryffindor courting a Slytherin. It amuses and saddens me at the same time.

"You both do know that you will be required to attend the wake right? You are related to the Malfoys Ron and the elves are arranging for a traditional pure-blood wake. Which means all surviving relations attend no matter how many times removed. By my estimation you will be receiving your summons in Two days time." Ron groans and grimaces at my declaration while Hermione shoots him a dirty look.

"I hate pure-blood traditions!" he says grinding teeth.

"Ron! There is nothing wrong with keeping up with old traditions, you should just make sure you don't disavow new ones and not modernize. As far as my understanding goes, All these traditions usually have a logical explanation or some kind of important symbolism at their roots. It is never good to let go of your roots. For example, An open pure-blood funeral wake requires the presence of all related family joined by blood and marriage as a symbol of unity and pride and the fact that family and death transcends all conflicts. You can take it as that. If you want you can dismiss all the nonsense gossip and pretentiousness that usually is a custom at these events and only focus on what is important."Ron looks properly chastised but not very convinced. It has been a sour point between my two best friends for years now.

I find myself seconding her opinion.

"So who is leading the ceremony?" Hermione asks once the table is cleared.

"Well, I will ask the Manor-staff tomorrow if Narcissa herself nominated someone. Otherwise, I was thinking of asking Andromeda. She is the closest living relative of hers after all." I only hope Andromeda would look past the differences. I have already looked up the possibility of my leading it just in case no one else wants to. As the head of the house of Black, until Teddy comes of age, I am in my right to do so. I am glad to have the position should I wish to utilize it. I only hope it wouldn't come to that. I am a Potter after all and the rivalry between Potters and Malfoys has always been legendary, which is one of the reason Potters never married into Malfoys and hence have never been related. Were I not lord of the House of Black I wouldn't be permitted to attend the Wake.

"I don't think Mrs. Tonks will want to Harry. The sisters never reconciled." Hermione says softly.

"Yes I know that, but still Hermione, they were sisters. I think Andromeda is kind enough to over-look her sister's mistakes in her death."

"I hope so Harry…" Hermione says sadly as we stand to leave the restaurant.


 

"This cannot be right!" Hermione frowns, her eyes closed and wand swishing in a complicated pattern. We are standing just outside of wards of the Manor grounds. Hermione and Ron are both accompanying me on our vigilante mission to ward the house of our once arch nemesis for the sake of honor. Here we are, the golden trio indeed, just as we vowed five days ago. We are here to setup temporary security for the Manor just for the duration of two days after which the Ministry ransacking of the manor would start, by my hands, but still it is a matter of honor.

"What is wrong?" I ask drawing closer to her. It is a little chilly as it is half past midnight.

"The Ancient wards are still intact so are the blood wards. Are you sure Harry that the time of death was half past eleven?" she asks me skeptically, just like she used to when we lied about homework back in the days.

"Yes. I checked and re-checked with the house elves." I answer hastily with conviction. I had also cast the time of death spell on Narcissa's body myself the day before when it was finally placed for viewing and paying respects in the Malfoy Ceremonial Hall, just a few hundred meters downhill towards the west from where we stand. A white limestone monstrosity that is inspired by the design of the Greek Parthenon, only smaller and erected in the center of the Malfoy Burial plot.

"I see, but the strange thing is Harry, even if the ancient wards are there still, there is no reason for the Blood wards to be intact as well. Narcissa Malfoy was a Malfoy by marriage not blood. Whilst under her the Ancient wards would withstand, there is no reason for the blood wards to stay intact." She frowns some more and flips page after page of the book she had brought along for the putting up the security wards whilst Ron holds his lighted wand over her head.

"Yes! But it still allows me in. See?" I say as I step through the wrought-iron gate and walk a few steps on to the gravel walkway that leads towards the Manor before I walk back and across the gate. Hermione frowns some more, if I didn't know any better, I would say she is pregnant again.

"This doesn't make sense." Ron mutters irritably. I am also beyond annoyed now.

"No, no, there must be an explanation for this!" Hermione says flipping through more pages and settling on one. Ron and I both watch her read for a minute before she snaps the book close, shoves it in Ron's chest and steps forwards again her Wand drawn in a straight vertical line typical wand position to do anything with Wards. She gestures at us both to do the same as well. I step up to her left whilst Ron steps on her right side drawing our wands in the identical position, same as Hermione, ready to aid her in her casting. We have done it quite a few times in the past so this is nothing new. She closes her eyes inhales deeply and then murmurs a long incantation in Latin. I close my own eyes and join the tip of my wand to Hermione's as the Blue print of all present wards start to show up in my Mind's eye and I find myself frozen in awe.

The Manor is covered in a perfect structure of complimenting wards. A perfect amalgamation of protection from all kinds of intrusion, muggle, magical, natural, you name it and its there. Being an Auror My knowledge of wards is fairly adequate, but the Wards surrounding the Malfoy Manor are way beyond me. Solid beams of magic shown as lights entwined so meticulously, blues, greens, purples, Most of them Ancient and strong and stationary, nothing we haven't seen before, but very difficult to break through if not impossible. No, that's not the really striking thing about these wards. It's the Liquid ward that to me is really new and strange. Considering that it is a Ward in the first place. It's constantly moving in random patterns, colorless, slightly translucent, forming a smokey film on top of the net of ancient wards, it's not like the glass dome that Hogwarts has, no, this is much more strong and unpredictable and I have never seen its like.

I see the thin but resilient light blue ward Hermione is weaving on top of the already present wards. Once the incantation is done, the thin Ward Hermione just weaved is immediately dissolved into the translucent liquid ward, like sugar in water. I open my eyes to see Hermione frown some more as Ron huffs indignantly at our joint failure. I just feel intrigued.

"Bloody Malfoys!" Ron grumbles

"So?" I turn to look at Hermione.

"Personally, I have seen ancient Wards as strong as these in only one other place and that is Hogwarts. Mind you that they are in no way similar and there are still ways to find through them. This…" she points towards the Manor "Is a fortress Harry. Protected by wards which should have been dismantled an hour or so ago and is still not open to suggestions. It is at its protection peak."

"Yes, I have never seen that translucent liquid ward before." I say shaking my head.

"What translucent liquid ward?" Hermione turns to me.

"That moving smoke filmy thing, I haven't seen it before, so I don't know what it's called. The one on top of all the other wards." The confusion on her face tells me that I am not getting through at all.

"Harry… I did not see any moving smoke filmy thing on top of the wards, what I did see was my ward dissolving into thin air." Hermione says curiously puzzled. I look at Ron, hoping he saw what I did. He looks just as confused.

"Anyhow! This means what?" Ron inquires before we can ponder further over the thing I just saw and they didn't. Obviously.

"This means, that there is no need for us to caste any wards for Manor's protection and that it would be magically impossible to take these wards down should the ministry ask us to. Either there is some other ancient magic at work here and we would have to choose to inform the minister of this development or not… Which would not make him very happy either way…Or, there is a simpler explanation for this." Suddenly there is a realization unfolding on her face.

"Which is?" this time I inquire, eager to hear what conclusion she has just come to make, because her wide eyes and pursed lips indicate so.

"Which is the simplest explanation really" Ron shifts on his feet clearly recognizing Hermione's expression as well. Some instinct inside me tells me that the next sentence would be the right answer.

"Malfoy Manor has a new and extremely powerful Master." She says in a tone full of conviction.


 

Chapter Text

 

Jab ishq sikhata hai aadaab-e-khudagaahi;

Khultay hain Ghulamon per israar-e-shehenshaahi.

 

(When devotion teaches one the manners of divine submission,

The slaves find themselves revealing the secrets of the colossus)

 

 

“What were you thinking?” The tall man turned around to face him with unnatural speed and grace. His black robes flapped around him in the raging wind, while the sea thrashed across the rocks somewhere down below the craggy rocky hill they stood on.

“I wasn’t..” The blond-haired pale-skinned boy felt himself rattle to the depth of his bones as he saw the absolute rage on the face of his mentor.

“Silence!” the tall dark-haired wizard spat. Gnashing his teeth in frustration and resentment. The disappointment in the harsh face was so acute that for a moment the young blond did think that he had really done something wrong.

“You have the audacity to look me in the eye, knowing, that what just happened by the stones could bring about the death of not only you but me and everyone you have ever held dear!”

The young man pursed his lips looking into the eyes of his mentor, not defiantly but gravely. The mentor did not fail to notice the exact emotion playing in those beautiful grey eyes. This young man, his protégé was one of the very few remaining reasons that egged on the dark haired mentor to hold on to life and duty even as everything fell apart around him. He could suddenly see so much of himself in this young boy who looked exhausted and grim, yet as determined as ever. And like the sun is undeniable at the time of dawn, the realization came.

“Why? Draco, why him? Of all the people in the world, you give this gift to him?” he pleaded with the young man, taking the pale thin face in his hands. The expression on the older man’s face was of pure agony. Raw and unmasked. It only helped the conviction of the young man to grow.

“Can you tell me of a single person that needs this more than him? I took from him Severus! I was weak and I made a mistake! No one but us knows the truth! This is not the end of the things for him Severus and you know it, the end of The Dark Lord will not be the end of Potter’s strife. It is a Truth no one knows but you and I” answered the young man as he clasped his cold hands above the warm ones that were encasing his face. Severus turned away, unable to cope with the conviction on Draco’s face. He fumbled for some reason; any reason to stop Draco from what he is planning on doing.

“The Dark Lord will…” Severus started in an already losing tone.

“Don’t you see? If I do this, if I am successful in this, The Dark Lord will be vanquished, there is no other way Severus, for what is now and what is later, would you….”Draco paused for a second before gathering enough courage to continue what he knew would be the breaking point for Severus.

“Did you not betray everything you believed in, to save her? Did you not lay your life, your soul to be controlled for the sake of saving the one you loved?” Draco’s eyes were now fixed at Severus’ turned back.

“I did…” whispered the tormented man, his voice a mere gasp. He had, he had done everything, beg, bow, betray, all of it he had done for her, but he had been weak and so wrong and he had trusted evil to be merciful, and merciful to be careful. He had been wrong in both instances. Evil is never merciful and the merciful is never careful.  Though all of his wrongs brought him strength. Strength to face the repetition of history once again.  

“I did and…” now a bit stronger.

“I would never wish that situation to fall on someone I loved, someone I have always valued as I would have my own son, more than son, my successor. The pain alone is enough to die over a hundred times Draco… I would give my own life to save you from that pain.”

Severus gazed into the deep mercurial eyes of the boy that stood by him. The boy who was so capable of hiding in plain sight, very much like Severus himself. The boy who was resiliently following in his footsteps, going towards inevitable destruction. The boy he had held in his arms and promised to nurture and bestow everything he had to spare once.

Had he looked like that when he had been standing on this particular bend of fate? Had he looked so desperate, determined…insane? No, he had been distraught and devastated, Draco was not weak, despite what everyone thought. The boy was much more than what met the eye, and only three people in the world were aware of that. No, Draco was not Severus. Draco was in a class of his own. The perfect and just as powerful anti-hero to Potter’s hero. Veiled and masked with arrogance, cowardice, selfishness and bigotry, but that was all it was, a veil, a mask, an illusion. The boy hid in plain sight. He was much stronger than Severus ever was. 

Despite all these reassurances Severus couldn’t help his fear. Couldn’t help is regret.

Had he known that he would unknowingly pose the curse he suffered from body and soul every night of his life upon the boy, he would have moved to another part of the world and never laid eyes on him again. He could only get furious at the universe that allowed such cruelty.

 

“You know he will never see you as a friend… You will never be to him what he is to you, you know this Draco don’t you? I hope it’s not some heroism or idea of glory that leads you to do this…” the menace in Severus’ voice was back, but Draco was not entirely sure who it was directed at.

“I know that well enough Severus, I might be optimistic, but I am not a fool. I know there is no return and no reward only that he lives and breathes through what he must do and I have no illusions about heroism, my reasons for doing this are purely selfish, I only need him to survive, no matter the outcome of the war.” Draco answered firmly, ignoring the way something twisted in his throat and chest at the admittance.

“You also realize that ‘if’ you are successful in your endeavor that there is no turning back from the power and the curse that comes with it?” Severus’ eyes were now piercing like shards of a blind black glass.

“A Malfoy always considers the consequences of his actions. Always makes his decision fully understanding the repercussions.” Draco said proudly. Defiant for the first time.

“So this is what your reputed Malfoy deliberation has resulted in?” Severus sneered at Draco, looming over him.

“There is no deliberation Severus, just like you told me ten years ago when I was only seven and you took me to the Stones for the first time. In what I need to do, there will only be my instinct.”

Severus felt like laughing and bleeding at the same time.

“One wrong move Draco and there can be unfathomable disaster! I beseech you! Put aside that arrogance that is so blatantly inherent in your blood and be sensible about this Draco.” Severus implored. His tone resigned but strong.

“I am not being arrogant, I am just certain that this is the only way.” And Draco showed as much in his stance.

“At least take your mother into confidence Draco, she has a right to know. I betrayed a friend once and I regret it until today, I would not betray another, if you have not told her about this decision of yours by the time I am back in a few days, I swear to the Gods that I will tell her myself.” Severus saw a flicker of anxiety in the Silver eyes before it was completely washed away by renewed determination.

 

“I promise that she will know everything.” Draco nodded curtly.



 

Something has woken me from my… sleep.

But then again I don’t really sleep, do I? No, I gave up the right to sleep eight years ago.

Now I go into a deep state of suspension at most. I rest my body but, I never sleep.

Something has brought me out of my rest. Some change inside me that echoes some difference outside.

I take a deep breath. Checking all my faculties. Sight, sound, taste, balance, Magic? All there. Sharp and ready, but what is different is that I feel somewhat…warm. I gave up the right to warmth eight years ago. So it is indeed strange. It’s a soft simmering warmth deep inside my chest. Pleasant and aching. I haven’t felt like this since…

Since the final battle at Hogwarts.

I feel my body freeze in sheer contrast to that addictive, achy warmth in my chest. I want to bang my head against something hard. I haven’t been back for Seven hours yet and already all the reasons I wanted to stay away are coming to knock on my door.

He is close and I can only regret my decision for coming back. He is closer, unknowing and uncaring of how he is tormenting me.

 

The last night I had spent in this bed, had also been a torment, just like right now. It was the night I came to painful conclusions and made drastic decisions.

So, I am back to where I began. So much for progress!

I wonder if I have come full circle. Running around the infinite circumference.

I hope I have not missed chunks and pieces of the circumference of this particular circle.

Circle. That has no start, no end, it’s infinite in its limits. Yet it never strays. Never finds other possibilities. It just keeps going round and round and round. Can you understand the justice of the omnipotent? The game he plays? The tricks up his sleeve? The paradox that a simple circle is.

The paradox my life is. A life borrowed from the dead.

I have travelled to places people can’t even imagine in past Seven years. Seen the miraculous wonders the world has to offer. In landscape, in spirit, in magic. All through those years, witnessing all those miracles of life, only made the inevitability of death more clear to me. Death, who I had conquered, death who was my friend and a death that told me it was time for me to return to face it one more time.

Death for me comes in the color green. 

The curtains  around my bed are green. A beautiful emerald Green. Eight years ago it had been an inspired choice. Now it is just another reminder of the torment I suffer that needs no reminders. I don’t like this green anymore. This green for me represents loss of power, loss of control. Why? That’s a long story.

As if on a cue the wards I cast around the manor as soon as I got back, tinge.

I wonder if what woke me up and the way my wards have just indicated foreign presence is linked. It’s far-fetched. No one knows I am back. The Wake is not until tomorrow. I choose to observe rather than confront. If I want I can send the intruders apparating against their wills to any destination I prefer But even for them to get to the wards in the first place, of this unplottable manor. Well… it is curious. I get up from the bed and walk towards the window that faces the entrance gate. Wards indicate the foreign magic’s presence near the Main entrance gate. I want to stop myself. I really do, but I ask myself what harm a little peek could do? It’s unnerving; there is so much history here. I wonder who I would see if I take a peek. I hesitate for a minute looking out. Taking a deep breath I close my eyes to feel out what is happening with the wards.

Someone is fiddling around for sure. Not trying to get through, which is odd, but definitely trying to investigate. Intention benign. I cast a look toward the clock with its round dark green marble dial on which silver numbers glitter. Its half past midnight. A little late for visitors. I finally decide against my better judgment and look out the window. I narrow my eyes to make out three shapes standing just outside the wrought-iron gate.

I watch in horror as one of the figures walks through the wrought-iron gate and strides forwards the gravel walk way. I stand frozen, watching, in shock feeling the warmth inside my chest flutter and become more potent, like a solid balloon.

No one is invited inside the wards I erected just a few hours ago. Wards that are impossible to get through by anyone in this part of the world. No one can cross the Iron gate, no one, except perhaps… I am appalled that it has taken me this long to make the connection. It’s him.

What is he doing here? Is he here to see me? I shake my head at my own stupidity. My hand goes to my cheek. Remembering the ghost of the injury that was inflicted on me the last time I was in his presence.

I have not kept in touch with this world, in which I once fit so perfectly. I have not asked any questions since I have been back. I am sure I have not been seen. How could I? I can undo any magic I see fit to undo, I can undo it if it is to harm me even without knowing that it’s there.  

No one knows I am back. I have ordered the House-elves not to say anything about my return, No one can get through my wards. I know this. So it is him, and he is always going to be able to get through any wards I lay down. He is the only exception that I can’t undo. Why would he come here though? What purpose does he have coming here? Why on the very night of my return?

The figure walks a few more leisurely steps towards the manor and then swiftly turns around to walk back out through the gate.  My heart is  now beating ferociously in my throat.

I am torn between staying fixed on the spot to observe further and apparating just by the gate to investigate about this sudden and unexpected visit.

The magic decides for me. As I feel the wards reacting to protective magic. But it’s not his. I peer at the three figures standing outside my gate and I can see the tips of their wands joined and glowing. The wards give me the identification of the two others that stand outside my door.

Ah! It’s the whole Golden Trio… and…

They are trying to ward the manor against intruders.

Fucking Gryffindors! So noble and kind as to Ward the home of their worst enemy.

Something twists in my gut. It makes me sick how noble and self-less and forgiving they are. I had almost forgotten.  I had almost hoped, reflexively, when it’s the last thing I need. I don’t need hope! I have taken seven years to just stifle that hope. I thought I was immune to it.

“FUCKING GRYFFINDORS!” I hiss at my full yet empty room before I mentally command the ward to dissolve the one that is being cast right now.

Take that you noble dunderheads!

I watch the trio stand for a few more minutes outside the gate before they disapparate.

The warmth in my chest starts to fade, until it leaves me cold, as usual. I go and lay back down on my bed draped in green. I rub my hand against my chest aware of the cold. The cold that has become such an important part of who I am. Only the cold is starting to hurt again. Making me wonder, do I really hurt this much all the time?

 I do, don’t I?

So while I already hurt, I decided to hurt some more and allow myself indulgence. It is only fitting to review all events that lead to this. I have stifled my memories, my feelings for too long, despite what I am now. I am not a corpse. I still live and breathe.

I go back to lie on the bed. It makes no difference to me. I do not feel it’s softness, warmth or comfort. I stopped caring. From jagged stone to moist grass, from woven chaarpai to tatami mats. From haystack to cotton filled mattress. I have lain for rest on so many surfaces. They were never comfort to me, neither is this luxurious bed. With its fluffy feather-fed pillows and silk and velvet duvet.

I think it’s finally time to think of my mother. My mother, my beautiful mother who traded everything for the sake of my survival just like I traded everything for the sake of Potter’s survival. She always told me when I was young, that she learned something new every day since I was born. My beautiful mother, Delicate daffodil of a woman who turned out to be a steel magnolia when the time came. My beautiful mother who lies frozen in the Ceremonial Hall. At peace. Finally at peace.

I fancy myself ready for the onslaught of observation, curiosity and criticism I will have to face tomorrow. It is no small feat, returning from the dead. I have obviously a proper contingency plan. I am a Malfoy after all. A proper one, not like the weakling my father was. They will come flooding at me.  They would suspect me, be intrigued by me, be wary of me, but I’ll be hot news, and a Malfoy never takes being hot news for granted. I’ll charm them of course. And I will lie through my teeth.

My story has to be perfect. My intentions clear.  My position respectable. I would have to answer questions, make quotes, and restore the Malfoy pride. I sigh at the damage a few bad decisions can do. In my mind, it’s hard to come to terms with these petty little things again. It’s going to be even harder for me to acclimatize myself after seven years of exploratory isolation.

So I’ll have to come off as the Rich, reformed, mysterious Lord Malfoy. Sincere but intriguingly silent. Mask behind mask behind mask. The sheer amount of hypocrisy involved in maintaining the necessary façade is daunting. This world, when I was last time an active part of it was very pre-occupied. So it let discrepancies pass most of the time. Now I am sure this world has grown lax but is more cautious than ever. The war is still too recent.

 

So many deaths, so many lives half lived, all for what? Delusions of a mad man? A mad man afraid to die? Were Voldemort not so bent on avoiding death, he could have lived much longer than he did. I think back to the days when he was residing in my home. I hardly slept, always watching out, trying to listen in to conversations, like a perfect Slytherin that I was. Not that I did not make mistakes. I made mistakes, of the irreversible kind, like taking the Dark Mark. It was the one mistake that lead to my destruction and salvation at the same time. I was distraught. All through my sixth year at Hogwarts I was plagued by depression and hopelessness and sheer exasperation at my own stupidity. In a bout of what I can only now refer to as teenage angst I had taken the dark mark in wake of my father’s failure at the Ministry of Magic and now my family was under-threat.

Not to mention the constant pressure of being followed by the one person I wanted to avoid. Every turn I took there he was, in my face, watching, waiting, taunting as I grew weaker and weaker under pressure. I would have basked in the pleasure of his attention once upon a time, I would have responded, fought, snarled. It had always been the game I forced him to play. I the snotty Slytherin and he the insufferable Gryffindor. Always fighting, sneering and making him react to me. I’d lead the dance for five years and wished he would lead it, now he was, I had his full undivided attention when I wanted it the least and it was probably going to take me straight to hell.

And then came my salvation. It came to me as I lay bleeding on the abandoned girl’s lavatory floor with him staring down at me. His mind open like a book. Such profound beauty and horror in those green eyes, I realized that I would not mind dying at that moment very much and I knew, I knew then that I could not die when I was finally unafraid of death. All because of him. I gave myself away in that moment. Promised myself that I would protect this beautiful creature if I lived. In that moment I discovered what exactly leads Slytherin to greatness. Submission, devotion and focus. I had heard Severus say it a million times; I only understood it at that moment. In that moment I shed the skin of vulnerability finally, like the snake I was. In that moment I knew what I had to live for.

 

And so I forged the most Slytherin plan of them all and then an even more Slytherin backup plan and then a downright Gryffindor one, just for the sake of unpredictability.

My failure at killing Dumbledore helped a lot in keeping the façade of a weakling. I did absolutely everything to keep it that way.  Acting timid and vulnerable, letting my psychopathic Aunt Bellatrix torture me mercilessly in the name of teaching me legilimency, only to gain free access to her mind as she plowed through mine was easy. She was after all his most loyal and ardent servant. Her jumbled mess of a mind and a penchant for simple mindless torture made it quite easy for me to gain access to her. It was painful, but what was a little pain in the grand scheme of things?

It was a technique invented accidently by me whilst I was being taught occlumency and legilimency by Severus, summer before my sixth year. The fact of the matter was I only needed very slight guidance, I was sort of a prodigy when it came to mind magic. Something to do with being the seventh generation pure-blood heir. Some ancient family magic. I had unknowingly broken into Bellatrix’s mind when she took me by surprise the day I was sent back to the manor from Spinner’s end. To say it was impressive, would be an understatement as Severus put it.

We called this technique leeching amongst ourselves as the technique involved just that. Leeching. In place of trying to block out the offensive force of legilimency, I accidently latched on to the offensive force and broke through the attacking mind force. So whilst the legilimens sifted through my memories, I could sift unnoticed through theirs. Now it was a tricky situation since forced legilimency is painful and makes leeching almost impossible. So one had to occlude, only not in the typical way.

 First step was creating one mock and two real defenses. It involved some serious compartmentalization of one’s mind. Once the legilimens was trapped between two layers of real defenses, thinking that the mock defense was the breech inside, you leeched on to the magical source pushing in.

Oh I remember how proud I was of my accomplishment. Such small joys. Being so skilled at Mind magic made me feel almost larger than life. I was so sure I could accomplish anything.

Creating layers after layers of illusions. Sneaking, tiptoeing, discovering, eavesdropping, gathering clue, after clue, after clue. Proving my worth as the true apprentice and God son of one of the greatest wizards of all time, Severus Snape.

Were they really proper Slytherin, they would have sensed it right through. It was their pride and ignorance that would become their downfall. Their pride made them want things black and white they were just as full of flaws as those that called themselves the Light side. No foresight. 

My father already in disgrace and my mother considered too delicate and proper to be anything but the perfect hostess to our unwanted guests. It was all coming together. I knew of all the strong holds of the death eaters, I knew their apparition co-ordinates, I learnt of the kind of wards surrounding them. I had the schedule of further attacks and rank information. It took me a few months, but I was studious my goal set, I had a perfect plan, that with enough evidence and information gathered, I would escape the manor with my parents, Secure them at our Norwegian property and then go find the hard-to-find-boy-who-lived. Ask for the second chance that Dumbledore promised. Offer my service and loyalty. 

Yes, it was a perfect plan. Until, I found out about the Horcruxes.

I toss in remembrance of that event. It was during my last leeching practice session with Severus, summer after Dumbledore’s demise, that I broke through his mind and found out what Potter was and what lay in his future. The revelation was like lance impaling me, but I had come too far to give up then. My Slytherin pride won’t let me. 

There are times when I think I might regret what I did. What I lost, what I gained in return and then the flash of emerald green eyes looking down upon me frozen in horror and concern goes through my mind like a thunderbolt, and I sigh deeply, knowing, I would go through it all a million times over.

I rest my body with a purpose, tomorrow is a big day I tell myself as I let my mind go blank. Breathing slow and deep now as I retreat into my subconscious.

“Harry” I allow myself to say after seven long years.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Bewafaon se wafa kertay Guzari hai hayaat

main barasta raha veerano mein badal ki tarah...

 

(I have spent myself loving the unlovables..

Like the rain cloud that keeps raining in the idle desert)

 

 

 

“Harry… Wake up mate! Before mum comes through the floo to wake us up and decimates the only ear I’ve got left.”

 George’s drowsy voice comes from somewhere faraway.

“If you ever trick me into drinking shots again…” Harry whimpers, dissipating whatever menace the threat might’ve held. His head pounded on.

“I will and you will fall for it again. We both know that…” George scoffed “hence, I come not empty handed.” A vial was pushed into his hand that was hanging off the bed. He opened one eye with extreme effort to see what it was. His blurry vision registered the light purple liquid swirling. A Hangover potion.

“A’right I’m up!” he whimpered some more as got up.

 

Two weeks since the final battle and Breakfast at the Burrow was returning to it’s somewhat pleasantness gradually. Fred’s comatose state was always there causing impromptu waterworks. It was understandable, but the basic cheerful nature of the Weasleys was too ingrained to be suppressed for long. After all, Fred was one of the most forward icons of Weasley humor and cheer in his generation, a position he shared only with his mirror image twin. Pioneers of laughter.

The martyr’s memorial for example, started off as a somber affair, but as soon as George got over that elevated platform for delivering the eulogies, we were all laughing through the tears. That’s how it would always be and people like Harry would always be comforted by the fact that people like the Weasleys did exist. People like him who had very little to smile or laugh about in general.

Harry was still looking around the table at the slightly smiling faces closely observing the glow surrounding his two best friends at which he smiled inwardly, mentally crowing at the success of his covert mission to finally make them yield to each other. Which was the reason he had gone to spend the night with George at the flat above the shop in Diagon Alley.

“Good morning Family!” he was broken out of his internal musings by a greeting from Arthur Weasley, who was apparently just returning from working double shifts at the Ministry to control the damage done to the Muggle world. How far they had all come, from fixing jinxed cars and possessed table lamps to obliviating the memories of London Bridge being destroyed by Death Eaters. This morning Arthur Weasley looked double the age he actually was. Harry covertly observed him as he took his seat at the head of the table. His eyes had dark circles under them. His freckled complexion which every one of his children had inherited was sallow, making his freckles look brittle but it was the stricken expression on his face that was really worrying. Harry had been of the impression that he was coping well with Fred’s condition, but then what did Harry know about fears of a parent?

“Arthur dear, is everything well?” asked Molly.

The table had gone silent in the last half a minute. Harry was not the only one who had noticed Arthur’s demeanor.

“I am afraid love, I am the bearer of a rather bad news this morning.” Harry felt, rather than saw a few backs straighten as all joy in food rushed out of him. His heart clenched in an iron fist. Arthur Weasley looked up at him straight and Harry felt the churn deep inside him. Who was it this time?

“They found remains of Fenrir Greyback very deep in the Dark Forest. His body was severely mangled. Evidence proves that he was in the middle of a dark magic ritual, the magical residue was off the charts, his magical core must’ve broken during the ritual which was the reason for his violent death, but that is Good riddance, the bad news is that the ritual required some kind of sacrifice, we found remains of someone else as well who Fenrir probably sacrificed…”A sickening dread was churning in his gut now alongside a strange kind of satisfaction at hearing that the violent monster died a violent death. Harry was not proud of feeling that way, but it was what it was. Still the Monster had taken one other with him and if Arthur looked this bad..Harry could only speculate.

“Oh Merlin! Arthur, were they able to tell who it was?” Asked Molly her eyes wide in horror as Harry sat stiff as a board his eyes trained on Arthur Weasley his nails digging into his palm in trepidation. Arthur Weasley looked stricken as he trained his kind brown eyes on Harry again and nodded.

“It was Draco Malfoy.”

Harry sat there, frozen. One sentence echoing in his head. A mother’s plea.

 

“Survive Potter! For my Draco…”

 


 

 

I apparate to Malfoy Manor at precisely 8’o’ clock in the morning. The Funeral ceremony is timed for 8:30am sharp. The failed mission of last night is still heavy on my mind and the main reason for me not getting a second of shut-eye the past night. I stand outside the wrought Iron gate once again recalling Hermione’s declaration that the Manor now has a new master and not just from some obscure part of the blood line. No, the new master is a Blood bound nominated, undisputed master.

Ron dismissed the notion entirely last night, sticking to the ancient magics working up theory. I myself am more inclined towards the New-Master theory. The main reason for it is that when I had asked the head house-elf Monk, about the master of the funeral ceremony and burial rites three days ago, he had told me that it was all arranged and I need not worry about it. I had simply at the time thought that Narcissa had nominated someone in her will. Now I am inclined to think differently.

 It could be an illegitimate child of Lucius Malfoy’s. In extreme cases even in pure-bloods an illegitimate child can be nominated as heir. It could be an illegitimate brother of Lucius’ even. Factually I can’t care much who the new Lord Malfoy is, even though that person would sooner or later yield a certain power and influence over the Wizarding Britain, the way we are paving would make it difficult for any Malfoy to undo the bridges we have already tied up. No I am very confident about the work that I have been doing alongside my flourishing Auror career.  What really has me so strung out is a rather personal effect. I would not care at all if after today I am never welcomed inside the Manor. No, it is the fact that though the Wards are at their strongest, I am still allowed inside the manor, whereas Ron and Hermione are not. Well they were not last night anyway and we did try last night. Several times. Something is not adding up and my Auror instincts are on high alert because of this mystery. 

An apparition crack and a flash of light jolt me out of my reverie. I turn around suddenly to see a familiar face standing a few feet away from me holding a camera. Blue eyes and dirty blond hair with a wide nervous smile on his face is Dennis Creevey. The younger brother of late Colin Creevey. Dennis stepped into his brother’s shoes effortlessly after the war and now works for the daily prophet as a reputed photographer. It makes me very contented to see him doing so well. Even it is something that comes at the cost of my own privacy most of the times.

I groan internally. Good! This is all that I needed on top of everything. Media circus. I know my picture today is going to make special headlines and the Potter and Malfoy rivalry is going to be highlighted, taking the spotlight off from the memory of Narcissa Malfoy not to forget the fact that I am rarely seen in Formal robes complete with my Black family crest brooch, A silver and Onyx mounted emblem which can be best described as obscene and way too visible against the black of my robes. Witch weekly is going to have a field week, speculating if I was wearing any underwear underneath these formal robes. It’s strange that when men wonder in the same way about women they are chauvinist or misogynist and is condemned, but when women do the same to a man, they don’t even label it with an exotic word.

  Narcissa would’ve liked it though. I often spied newest editions of Witch’s weekly on her ivory molded Coffee table, tucked just underneath the Wizard financial. So since there is no one to side with the strife of the 49% of population, I came to terms with it in my own way. As in a really bad joke most of the time. To be honest, mine and Luna’s favorite part in witch’s weekly are the ones are where they have encircled my Groin area in red. Winky keeps a collection of them. Gah!

“Harry!” four voices call all at once. Different but familiar timbres. I turn around some more to see Hermione, Ron and Ginny. All in their formal Black robes very much like me. I smile at my oldest friends, noticing the beautiful glow on Ginny and her startled side glances at the Manor that stands broodingly on the other side of the gate. I am surprised that the manor is on display today, but then it is on all major events. At other times, it remains unseen and untraceable. I turn back towards Dennis putting on my best smile.

“Dennis! How are you mate? It would be nice if you would alert me before taking my picture you know, I promise to give you the best pose.” I say in the friendliest way I could manage at the moment. I see Dennis’ smile grow so big enough to split his face in two.

“It’s so good to see you Harry! I’m sorry, but I religiously believe that the best pictures are when the Subject does not know they are about to be photographed. Natural expression and all that you know.” He fidgets characteristically and blushes. The blush is new. I feel my Three Weasleys reaching for me before I can investigate more.

“Hermione, Ron, Ginny…”Dennis fidgets some more smiling at everyone.

“Go on, Dennis, snap a picture, we know you are itching for it!” Ron says playfully. He is in an unexpectedly good mood.

Dennis looks at me, eyes shining like an excited adoring puppy. It’s sweet but a bit eerie. I nod in ascent as I put an arm across Hermione’s shoulder and the other around Ginny’s waist. Her hair neatly tied back and a faint touch of very tasteful yet somber makeup. I have posed like this so many times I can hardly count. I feel a strange sensation, like a half-hearted prickle of fleeting magic against the back of my neck. Like a whisper against my skin, so close but silent. Only to be startled by the flash of the camera and it’s gone. I turn to look behind me, to possibly detect what has caused the strange sensation, but it’s nothing. I give up when Ginny tugs at my hand and we move towards the Malfoy Burial Plot which is a little more than five minutes’ walk.

It is another sunny day though there is a chill in the wind, which is perhaps because it is still early in the morning here in Wiltshire, we are thankful that it’s not raining. The House elf waiting at the start of the decorated walk-way stands impatiently in our wait.

“Lord Black.” The house-elf curtsies before leading us towards our very obvious destination.

 We are informed by the elf that Molly, Arthur, George, Bill and Fleur are already there. The walk-way towards the Burial plot is roped and adorned with silver post draped in Black fabric in order to make a tasteful and proper walkway downhill. There are quite a few people I can recognize on our way downhill towards the Burial plot and exchanged polite nods with most of them Slytherins.

The Grey-white Marble ceremonial Hall gleams in the pale golden light of morning sun, nestled between a couple of hill slopes covered with perfectly mowed grass which make it look like a green carpet. In broad day-light the whole thing has an awe-inspiring kind of effect.

“And I thought that it couldn’t get more ghastly than that Manor! This is just a whole new level of pretentiousness.” I hear Ginny mutter her hand gripping my arm tightly as we descend the slight slope downhill.

“The manor looks loads better now, you’re lucky you did not see it during the war when Voldemort was in residence.”

“Right, so they have an excuse for the ugliness of that horrendous house, what is their excuse for that?” Ginny’s lip curls as she points towards the Ceremonial Hall.

I want to say that the Manor is one of the most beautiful houses I have ever seen but I keep my silence, I know it will not be any use arguing with Ron or Ginny on the matter but of course Hermione just has to jump in.

“Yes, the Malfoy Ceremonial Hall. It was built in the 15th century alongside the whole Western wing of the Manor by then Lord Belenos Malfoy who married a Greek Pure-blood witch. She possessed extra-ordinary beauty and formidable magical talent as well.  The young Lord Belenos Malfoy was very smitten with her. When she died after giving birth to their first and only child, he commissioned this Ceremonial Temple in her honor and memory, hence the Parthenon theme as a nod to her Greek heritage. Her name was Athena after all and the statue of Athena which is the center piece of the temple is in her likeness. So it was only fitting, I suppose.” Hermione’s full encyclopedia mode is a clear indicator of how nervous she is. I wonder if it has something to do with last night.

“Why in the world do you know so much about all this?” Ron asks exasperated.

“Because, unlike you, I paid attention in ‘Wizarding tradition’ classes I took and no matter how much you want to deny it, Malfoys have always been the most traditional of all wizarding families. So naturally their history is a compulsory reference if you really want to study proper wizarding traditions.” Hermione is defensive. I want to elbow Ron into understanding Hermione’s situation and elbow Hermione to avoid from escalating into a full-blown argument, but it is impossible at the moment. The only reprieve is that there is not anyone near enough the four of us to hear the argument.

“Oh yea, and what did their Pure-blood Wizarding traditions lead to in the end Hermione?” Ron asks in a saccharine tone.

Hermione is about to retort back, I can see the answer shining in her eyes but one look at me and she stops. I don’t know what she sees in my face but whatever it was works for once. She sighs and shakes her head as she reaches out to take my other arm and gives me a look that shows weariness.

We reach the steps of the platform on which the whole structure stands in silence; it is then that I realize the number of people who have turned up for the Wake. The width of the structure up close is more than Seventy feet. There are five marble steps which lead to the front yard Patio in front of which seven Marble pillars stand tall seemingly holding up the roof. The Structure itself gives off a very cold vibe in the morning light, at night it is just down right intimidating.

Most people are now making their way inside the Hall. As I reach the top step I spy Kingsley and Percy standing just by the entrance exchanging pleasantries with Anthony Montague, who is the Malfoy solicitor.

 After exchanging necessary pleasantries during which Kingsley shakes my hand quite firmly, trying to communicate with me with his eyes, we finally make our way inside and I wonder what Kingsley’s reaction would be when he finds out that once again his efforts to acquire the Malfoy estate are unfruitful. Though it was not because of my efforts, I still feel a sort of smug triumph.

The inner part of the ceremonial hall is dominated by an alleviated platform on which is located the huge  marble viewing pedestal behind which stands a very tasteful and more than fifteen feet tall statue of Athena complete with small water fountains on either side. A black wood casket with silver metal trimmings, embedded with both the Malfoy and black family crest is poised on the viewing Pedestal, in which a thin and gaunt looking Narcissa Malfoy rests, draped in fine white silk, looking as if she is sleeping. Her Blond hair is lose and arranged perfectly on her shoulders and her hands are crossed on her stomach.

Hands crossed on the chest means a virgin and pure, Hands crossed on the Stomach means wife and mother. Yes this woman was a wife and child and a daughter and sister once. An image of a serenely smiling Narcissa soaking in the afternoon sunlight crosses through my mind. I feel the acute sense of loss then as I kneel in front of her casket my eyes prickle slightly. She looks at peace. She died on her own terms after all and I know exactly what that feels like.

We move to take our places after we pay our respect in front of the viewing pedestal. As we start to make way to our places I am intercepted by a fidgeting house-elf.

“Lord Potter-Black, this is not yous place my lord.”

I hate to be called that, but I am wearing the brooch to boot. I feel irritated. I had been hoping to catch a few words with Andromeda before the ceremony started. I look over to see that Ron, Hermione and Ginny have already made their way to the third aisle on the left side of the hall lead by another house-elf right next to where Andromeda stands dressed regally in black with a bouncing Teddy on her hand also dressed somberly for the occasion. I see my Godson notice me and his burgundy hair turn instantly to jet black, imitating mine perfectly. He is about to shout at me smiling as he is showing off his missing front tooth, but I shake my head at him and he stops, I watch as the previously golden eyes are now shining like the most potently green Emeralds. Is that how my eyes are? I wonder for a split second. Surely the mind of the child who adores me so dearly exaggerates. I feel my chest ache with love for this little bundle of joy.

My attention is brought back to the fidgeting house-elf who now looks on a brink of nervous break-down. I frown down at him but gesture at him to lead me to my place. Which happens to be the outer most in the first row on the right side. A place of acute prominence. I have been very discreetly maneuvered. How subtly Slytherin. I smile inwardly.

 

I look around as I settle in my place. Minister of magic is located in the center of the first row on the left side of the hall. He is still in deep conversation with Montague who only nods non-committing every now and then. I wonder if it is only noticeable to me because I know that Kingsley is about to have all his hopes of absorbing Malfoy estate just in time for the election, crushed. I feel disgusted. Politics turns honorable men into ignominious bastards.

The photographers and journalists are lined up on the outer edges of the sanctum. I am not entirely surprised that they are here and allowed in. Surely on orders of the new Lord Malfoy, and what Malfoy would not want to make headlines, a resounding statement and a claim to infamy that goes hand in hand with the name? The answer is none. Any walking man with Malfoy blood in his veins would rather die before he lets himself become undistinguished and harmless.

 My situation makes sense to me now. How could I forget that I was invited here as Lord Black, the head of the house of black to which Narcissa was born. I am a display piece, perhaps the most valued one. It makes sense now why I would still be allowed to enter the manor. I should be prepared for full onslaught of Malfoy manipulation. I should be ready for that offer of allegiance. As much as I hate to admit it and more than that be it, I am an important person, even if I was not the one to defeat Voldemort, I would still be heir to two of the oldest and most prestigious Blood lines. Potter and Black. I am the one wearing the obscene jewelry to show for it am I not? What with the skull and the wand and the ravens that are the synopsis of the black family crest. I have been wanting to change it into something benign, but I feel that Teddy should decide on it when he comes of age I am only the care-taker as far as I am concerned. Now the Malfoy Emblem is a different story altogether. With Emerald as the signet stone and the design that incorporates dragons, peacocks and serpents all in such arrogant tastefulness that one has to applaud at the genius and nothing is more genius than the words that adorn the crest. The motto of the house of Malfoy.

 

Sanctimonia Vincet Semper (Purity always conquers) It says. I don’t doubt that the wordplay is homage to Salazar Vinicius Slytherin.

I can’t help but think it is sort of a pun perhaps. Purity always conquers for the house of Malfoy.

Malfoy means Bad faith.

If only Blacks were that creative.

I knew those Latin classes would come in handy one day. I shake my head and focus on my surroundings only to see the Ceremony performer, a plump and balding man, dressed in dark purple robes, indicating him as the rite performer and observer from the Ministry, take his place between the Statue of Athena and the viewing pedestal and gesture with his hand for silence. I turn my head very softly to see the Ceremonial hall filled with people.

The low chatter quickly dies down and within a few seconds there is almost pin drop silence in the whole sanctum and before I can fully enjoy it, I feel the tickle again. I want to concentrate on it so I lower my head. It’s a shy curious little thing. It withdraws innocently when I reach out for it but as soon as I retreat it comes to play again. I wonder if it is a sentient piece of magic bound to this place. If it is, it is extraordinary, but I remember that I also felt it just outside the Manor when Dennis was taking our picture. Curiouser and Curiouser. I can almost envision it, like an animated little friendly snake or kitten. Seeking my attention, enticing me to play with it, literally purring with pleasure when I concentrate on it. 

I am about to grasp it with my mind when my concentration is wrenched. As the silence is broken by the sound of footsteps. The small magic recoils and disappears causing my instincts to go into high alert. 

Someone is walking towards the front in a sure confident gait. I hear a gasp and then a few murmurs as I fight with myself for some unknown reason to turn and look who it is. This is it. The work you have been doing for years now is going to come to depend on the acceptance of this new Lord Malfoy. I panic at the thought, realizing that I have not thought about that possibility at all and it is all I should have thought about. 

 Every step echoes and vibrates deep within me for some reason. My mind is moving a mile per second.

I tell myself that I am not going to turn around. This new Lord Malfoy has located me in the place of prominence amongst his guests. Definitely some kind of power play is about to follow and the best course of action against the doubtlessly Slytherin attack would be indifference and non-deference. I will not give him the pleasure of realizing that I am non-plussed at the moment. I am Gryffindor God Damn it!

The best kind of courage is the faked kind. The mystery that kept me up last night is about to unravel and I feel myself tensing even more. As the footsteps reach nearer and near I find myself looking down at my hands. I concentrate on the only other piece of jewelry I wear A ruby ring which is the only other thing of my father’s that I hold.

The footsteps pass me and I cannot help but flick a glance towards them. All I see is high quality, Black Dragon hide boots and the dancing sleek Hem of heavy Black silk brocade robe lined on the inside in dark silver grey silk, and of course, the silver and black pointed base of a cane. Very similar to the one Lucius Malfoy owned in his day which carried his wand. As the figure passes me the sound of the footsteps feels muted. The steps are elegantly calculated and effortless in their grace somewhat reminder of Lucius Malfoy. I inhale deeply and silently as I straighten my head once the danger has passed, because surely, this is what danger walks like. I can feel it deep in my instincts.

I see the figure kneeling in front of the viewing pedestal. Head bent down on the cold marble. The first thing I noticed is the long silver blond hair, gleaming in the muted grey Marble light, cascading in lose wavy layers carefully styled covering the neck and upper shoulders almost as long as Lucius’ once were, but very different than the straight curtain style he wore it in. Never a fan of long hair on men myself, it strikes me that on this particular head it looks so… perfect.

Shoulders square and lean and broad, a fighter’s shoulders which is just as astonishing as the hair. A fighter Malfoy? It’s an outrage.

 The hands holding the edge of the pedestal are pale and elegantly long-fingered could be considered almost aristocratic were it not for the strength I can see in those fingers. I also notice that the cane which I had previously deduced as similar or same as Lucius’ is in fact different. In place of a silver serpent head inlaid at the top, this one has head of a Snarling dragon. A Norman Silverback to be exact. I know because their temper is only seconded by the Hungarian Horntail that I had to steal from in my forth year. I am still taking in the details when the prostrate figure stands back up with a feline grace from the kneeling position, an impressive feat for someone that tall. I believe he has an inch or two on me, around 6 feet 3 inches then. A given Malfoy characteristic.

He walks around the right side to stand next to the ceremony performer holding on demurely to the cane in front. I finally decide to take in the face of the new Lord Malfoy now that he is finally facing towards me. I look only to find a pair of silver eyes trained on me. I freeze in place.

‘Malfoy?’ a part of my mind shouts as it recognizes and the other part hopes I haven’t yelled it out loud.

‘Draco Malfoy?’ My mind shouts again and the snarky other half says ‘Very clever Harry’.

‘Ferret-face Draco Fucking Malfoy?’ says the first part while the other one says ‘not very fitting anymore is it? That title?’

‘Ferret-face, dead for past Seven years… Draco Malfoy?’ and the other part finally grasps it, ‘Oh yeah… That!’

What the fuck?

I blink my eyes just to make sure I am not hallucinating. The silver eyes are still trained on me, a sharp murderous, enraged glint in them. The expression on his face is stoic in contrast. I feel a splitting headache coming on. The face itself is very different from when I last saw it. The pointy faced, sneering, lanky and thin brat is long gone. In his place now stands a Tall, intense, stoic, mysterious and probably insane Lord Malfoy if the murderous gleam in his eyes is anything to go by, with broad and lean shoulders and long hair.

Apparently he isn’t dead and the remains they found in the forbidden forest next to Greyback’s corpse were not his.

Then where has he been for past Seven years whilst his father and Mother both wasted away.

And isn’t he still supposed to be dead? He was a death eater himself, yet he does not look like he is wasting away. No, he is very alive and still staring at me.

Astonishment, confusion and anger rises in me in such a drastic wave that I finally break the eye-contact lest I do something extremely inappropriate like punching the new Lord Malfoy in the face. The Ceremony performer is now saying something which my mind is still too shocked to comprehend. Then I feel everyone shuffle around me and taking out their wands, snapping me out of my buzz. I look up again, pointing my wand skyward and letting my magic flow freely which lights the tip of my wand in a golden light. I venture to look towards Malfoy again who now stands straight looking down into the casket towards his mother. I see sadness lining his face. Only to see him look up at me again, his eyes hauntingly intense. I feel something shudder in me.

This intensity is not entirely new. I remember this mercurial intensity in his eyes from when I had almost killed him with ‘Sectumsempra’ in the Moaning Myrtle’s lavatory back in the Sixth year. It was there when he refused to recognize me in front of Bellatrix Lestrange when we were brought to the Malfoy Manor by snatchers. It was there when I disarmed and took his wand from him before escaping the Manor with Dobby. And it was there when I reached for him on the broom to save him from imminent death by fiendfyre in the room of requirement hours before his mother saved my life and helped me bring down Lord Voldemort. It has been there, as it is now, deeper than but not as raw as before, more controlled now.  

“Rest in peace.” I say alongside the crowd. As the black casket is levitated a few feet in the air and a rumbling sound indicates the opening of the viewing pedestal and then the Casket is being lowered into the sarcophagus. It is a basic feat of magic but it’s dramatic value is never lost on me. As the casket is levitated into the sarcophagus I see Malfoy step up to the edge of the pedestal, as we all lower our wands.

Nodding towards all present he stands straighter his eyes meet mine for a split second, freezing me in my spot again. This is becoming ridiculous now.

“I would like to present you all with my gratitude for being here today, to honor, My mother, Narcissa Malfoy. Her life and her death speaks volumes about the metal she was made of so I do not have to say anything and belittle her with words that would never be able to do her justice, as her Silence in her last years indicated. Still, I would like to recite her favorite words for all to listen. Words she often bestowed me with but I never understood until today.”

He lowers his head and his voice filled with audible melancholy now. It is the same drawl but much deeper in tone and scale. He is the same, but entirely different at the same time. His voice vibrates something deep inside me as I realize I am quite disturbed at his sudden reappearance, and I do not know how to react to that or why it is affecting me so much, but it is what it is. 

 

 

What do I care, in the dreams and the languor of spring,

That my songs do not show me at all?

For they are a fragrance, and I am a flint and a fire,

I am an answer, they are only a call.

 

But what do I care, for love will be over so soon,

Let my heart have its say and my mind stand idly by,

For my mind is proud and strong enough to be silent,

It is my heart that makes my songs, not I.”

 

 

Those words are still echoing in my mind when I feel people shuffle around me, indicating that the ceremony is over. I look up again to see Malfoy standing in front of Minister who is apparently just as shocked and expressing as such to which Malfoy is nodding solemnly. I want to go up to him but something makes me hesitate.

What would I say to him? I am angry. No, I am furious with him, because I saw Narcissa wasting away. Where was he then? Why didn’t he come to her when she was all alone and suffering. Then again, what did I know about if he did or didn’t come? I wouldn’t know because Narcissa never said a word. Suddenly I feel extremely stupid. I devoted a lot of effort towards what I believed to be a friendship with Narcissa and I am just realizing that perhaps it was just my imagination. Perhaps during last four years she was not Stoic towards me, but indifferent. Had I been so foolish? Self-appointed myself as the defender of Malfoy honor? While she laughed at my stupidity behind my back with her very much alive son. The realization is… Painful.

 I still stand in the same spot when my waist is suddenly held in a vice grip by an enthusiastic Teddy. Grinning at me openly his missing tooth making him more endearing. I see Andromeda making her way towards Malfoy. Her only surviving Nephew. The new Lord Malfoy. Of course she would go to him before me, he is blood after all and what am I? An imposter I suppose. A part of me resents my thought process at the moment but I don’t care. I need to get out of this place so that I can lament my stupidity in the safety of my home. Only, it’s not my home is it?

I now see why I was made to stand in such a prominent place. Even if no one else sees, I know an insult when I see one. All Hail stupid Harry Potter, King of fools.

 I make my way across the aisle towards the Weasleys with a hopping Teddy holding my hand and keeping my scorching anger in check.

“Bloody hell Harry, didn’t see that one coming did we?” Ron says to me his expression very confused. I simply nod. Starting to feel suffocated all of a sudden. I need to get out of here NOW.

“I need to get out of here. Could you hold on to Teddy and perhaps get the word from Kingsley as well?” I ask Ron. He must’ve have seen the desperation on my face. He glances back at Hermione who is talking rapidly with Molly.

“Yeah! Sure mate! Come along Teddy! We’ll ask Andy if you could come with us to see Rose and Hugo yeah?” he says taking the hand of a confused by apparently pleased Teddy from me. As I bend down to give my Godson a kiss before turning swiftly and using all my auror reflexes to find my way out of the suffocating place. I nod at a few people who crossed my path and make my way out of the Ceremonial Hall clear before anyone else. I feel the tickling magic again, but I pointedly ignore it. Refuse to acknowledge it.

 

The walk back up the hill is sort of cathartic for me and I reach the apparition point in record time. I stand staring at the wrought-iron gate again for a few seconds vowing to remedy my stupidity by never trusting a Malfoy again.


 

Chapter Text

 

 

Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,

there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase 'each other' doesn't make any sense (Rumi)

 

At the time Draco Malfoy  had thought that these were the most miserable days of his life. Trapped at Spinner’s end, being summoned by the dark lord to be tortured by the Cruciatus and returning to Spinner’s end only to relentlessly practice Occlumency and Legilimency and other very taxing defensive magic mostly wandless. No rest, no reprieve, but that was not what was eating him alive. The boy was in despair. He knew that Potter had seen him raising his wand to kill Dumbledore. He did not know what was more horrifying, the fact that he was appointed to kill Dumbledore, or the fact that he was weak enough to fail in his task. Though his parents had been spared solely on the fact that he had been able to get death-eaters into Hogwarts which the Dark Lord himself hadn’t been able to do. It still did nothing to cut down the humiliation that was brought to his name and family.

He was at the edge of losing his sanity and total collapse from exhaustion. He knew Severus was only trying to help him because of which he did not complain and then one day, during a particularly gruesome session of Occlumency, he broke through Severus’ offensive barrier and leeched access into his God father’s mind just like it happened with Bellatrix.

He dove deep and fast, not knowing how long this could last. He did not know what he was looking for, only that he was looking for a solution. And it came to him. A memory placed in enough guards to attract him so he dove forwards.

He saw a child of not more than Seven walking with Severus, a much younger Severus. A child version of himself figured Draco. Latched on to Severus’ hand, skipping along, because when it was just Severus and him, he could skip along as much he wanted. He could jump, roll around, run and try wind-milling as well. Severus allowed it always. Always smiling secretively at the child’s antics yet always pretending to be irritated. Little Draco could read the man like an open book.

 

 “Are you taking me to the Muggle park again Severus? I do fancy an Ice cream cone. Can I get a cone Severus?” asked the little Draco, making his best pleading face.

“Later Little Slytherin. First we have to do something important, and that something important is going to happen there.” He points in a direction where the little boy could see nothing but some strange looking stones that stood up vertically in a haphazard way.  Draco viewing the memory realized that he did not remember this ever happening, but it felt familiar.

“What is that?” asked the little Draco thoroughly curious.

“It’s the Stonehenge” Answered Severus.

“Really? And what do you do with it?”

“Why little Slytherin, Magic of course.” Severus answered sternly but amusement could be seen dancing in his eyes.

“Magic? We are going to do magic with the Stonehenge?” The child looks up with incredulity far more mature than the age. Something he picked from his God father along the way.

“No, you are going to do the magic with the Stonehenge.” He answered smirking.

“I am going to do Magic? Do I get a Wand? Do I? I learnt a brilliant spell just yesterday, but father won’t allow me his wand.” The boy was now literally jumping in excitement.

“No, no wands needed.” said Severus sternly.

The bouncing child deflated a little chewing his lip and frowning like someone far older than a mere Seven year old.

“Wandless magic?” asked the child solemnly curious.

“You will just have to see when we get there”

The memory pushed forward and now the two people were standing on the edge of the haphazard stones.

“Do you feel something?” asked Severus. The little boy shook his head but looked a little paler than natural.

“We have to walk between the stones.” Severus informed the little boy before taking a step towards the stones. Only to find the little boy pulling back.

“What is it Draco?”

“They are sleeping, we should not disturb them.” whispered the little boy trying to pull the tall man back.

“Who is sleeping Draco, who should we not disturb?” Severus kneeled in front of the struggling boy.

“The People in the stones, Can’t you see them? the guard says I walk too loud and I can wake them up. Which will make them mad because they should not be woken up. He says I am still too little to wake them up.” The little boy whimpered.

“It’s all right Draco. We will not wake the people in the stones. We will just go and touch one of these stones and then we can go back and get that Ice cream you wanted.” Severus picked up the Shivering boy in his arms and slowly walked towards the nearest stone.

The nearer they got, the more the boy shivered and shook. At last standing right in front of the stone Severus pulled a clenching fist away from the his collar gently but sternly and placed it on the stone after coaxing the curled fingers open. The boy stilled immediately and turned towards the stone. Severus watched in fascination as the surface of the stone where the hand of the little boy lay started to shimmer, The rough stone changing into a sheer glass, the surface so smooth and clear that Severus thought he could see his own reflection, but when he really looked it was not a reflection at all, something was looking through the glass the stone surface had turned into from the other side.

‘Ah! It seems we have another Malfoy on our hands, this one is a little younger though isn’t he?” Severus startled when the little boy he was holding in his arms spoke abruptly in the voice of a man.

“Younger, seventh in line, and infinitely more powerful, Oh Chezarak! This is the one we have been waiting for, eons and eons! But still so young! So young.” Said a shrill voice, hardly passable as female, with fervor but the Malice and greed that dripped from it chilled Severus to his core.

“You are right Chezaree, but he will come to us, he will come to us with a plea, a bargain, the boy loves too much, and we will give him what he wants, we will, and then he will come into a terrible power that waits for him, the fate of the world in his fist. Oh Chezaree! How we have waited!”

“Take him away now Severus Snape, we know you will try to stop him, but he will come to us, You cannot change what the boy was born with, He will one day be the master of Death, make sure to teach him how to be the master of life Severus Snape, for none exists without the other.”

Severus stumbled back from the stone as the boy went limp in his arm, and Severus ran. Severus ran as if the devil himself was on his heels. The limp boy pressed against his chest Severus ran until he was far out of the range of the damned place and then turned on his feet disapparating swiftly with an audible pop.

A second later he apparated in front of the entrance gate of the Malfoy Manor and rushed inside spitting at the waiting house elf to get Lucius and Narcissa immediately. Severus  turned to a secluded part of the garden and laid down the boy on the iron bench after casting a few cushioning and softening charms and swiftly cast the strongest privacy and silencing charm he could think of around the area.

 Once he was done Lucius and Narcissa were already there. One look at Severus’ face and Lucius stumbled in his stride as his face went the palest that Severus had ever seen. Narcissa took one look at her husband and her face turned to ashes as well. Her eyes widened as they entered the privacy charm Severus had just erected. Before he knew it Lucius was grabbing at him.

“Tell me Severus! Not my son! Please Severus tell me! My son is not it!” Lucius was holding Severus’ collar in a vice-grip, the most wild and pleading Severus had ever seen him.

Severus just nodded at Lucius Malfoy, who looked as if someone had stabbed him in the heart, as if all strength rushed out of him, Lucius fell to his knees still holding lapels of Severus’ robes.

“What is it Severus?” Narcissa’s voice was a hoarse whisper as she moved closer to Severus. Severus gathered all his strength and courage to utter the words that needed to be said out loud, as whispering and imagining them or not would not change a thing.

“Your son will one day be the Master of Death Cissy. He is a Necromancer and he will be the greatest of them all.”

 

Narcissa Malfoy stood frozen in her place for a moment, before she too came down like a wall of ice.

 Draco was yanked out of the memory at that point. And like his parents, he too went down like a wall of ice.

Yet, it wasn't the last time Draco would break into Severus' mind. And the next time he did, it had even more dire consequences.


 

 

I walk through the entrance of the Ceremonial Hall as if on a cue. My senses on full alert as I see rows and rows of people standing silently, waiting for me.  I am prepared. I am prepared for the people, I am prepared to take my rightful place, I am prepared to say appropriate words and make appropriate gesture, I am prepared for everything. I am Lord Malfoy, heir to the richest Wizarding fortune in Europe and I never come unprepared.

The two hour meeting that I had with Montague earlier in the morning has prepared me for all the questions that will be asked. It has informed me about all the current major power players at the Ministry and the desperation of the Ministry in finding funds. It has informed me thoroughly of how the trials for my family went after I left. It also outlined for me how deeply Potter has been involved in securing feather weight sentence for my father, a full pardon, with necessary honors for my mother, and for me my name on the Martyr’s memorial.  Of course!

Bloody Gryffindor nobility!

I dare not ask farther than ‘his’ involvement in the rescue and favors for my family. If I could just slip in the questions that I really need to ask unnoticed. Is he married? Does he have children? No, I vow to not let myself be diverted today. I have specific and dangerous reasons that have forced me to return, I will not ignore the bigger picture. He can go fly a Hippogriff.

No, I just need to tie lose ends and this is why this event holds so much importance. I would have the surprise element on my side which would fend off the suspicion for long enough that I would be able to plant necessary foundations to my claims and my story. Not to mention how advantageous the groundwork of goodwill Potter has already laid down for my family will be in my success in this endeavor. I will be damned if I do not utilize it all to my utmost advantage.

Because, no one can ever know the truth. The world does not appreciate what they don’t understand.

And I am something they will never understand.

So spread silly stories with conviction enough and they will suck it up.

They better.

I am prepared for the people alright. I am brand new. I am shiny and I am rich and don’t sport a Dark Mark anymore. They are bound to believe.

The truth can’t be farther than that. They don’t need the truth, only I in the deepest, darkest recesses of my mind will know the truth, but that truth is not for today.

I have dressed meticulously in most exquisite robes that belonged to my Great-grandfather. It is tradition, One should never wear anything new to the wake of a family member. After a few alterations by the House-elves the robe fits me perfectly like a second skin. The dragon-hide boots are my father’s, and the cane once belonged to my grandfather. I changed it a little, so that now in place of the Three-headed runespoor is the head of a Norman Silverback. One of the most magnificent dragons I have ever laid eyes on, next to the one and only that I stare in the mirror at. Vanity, how I have missed you!

I am dressed to the nines in Wizarding robes again after seven years and it is like I never stopped wearing these. I look down at myself one final time and find everything in place as I climb down the two steps that lead on to the center aisle. I feel like Moses standing on the edge of a parted red sea about to cross over to the other side.

I take sure and confident steps and focus on the black casket that stands in the direction of my nose. My magic is rigidly coiled inside me. All under control, and it is going to stay that way. Whatever may my misgivings be, I will charm the crowd today. I am the son of Narcissa Malfoy. Who even Voldemort could not get through to whilst residing in her own house, so magnificent was her façade. My mother, my beautiful mother, lending me her strength even after death. Just like she lent me her wand when I lost mine…

‘To him.’

Suddenly the warmth starts building up in my chest again, just like last night, only stronger.

Potter is here. He is very close by. I curse myself silently as I refuse to let my step falter or stop altogether and run back out of the Hall. I will have to face him eventually, the sooner the better.

‘Disgusting!’ I tell myself. ‘You are pathetic!’ says the Malfoy part of me, as my eyes start to search the crowd I can see without turning head, ‘just a glimpse, a little one… Just to see how he looks now, just to see if his eyes are still green enough, just to see his face in astonishment and wonder to see you back from the death.’ the little Draco part of me says. The part I never want to obey. For the things it asks, can never be. I had hoped that they would be gone by now. I haven’t felt the both parts of me for at least five years. When I trained and labored to reach my goal. When I forgot even my own name. When I forgot my home. And now I return and I am what I wanted to be, but I am still me. Now that I am back. I am also me, the Malfoy, the little Draco. The Malfoy that can never be satisfied with anything and urges to be cold and aloof, the little Draco, that wants and needs and begs and pleads. There used to be a Little Slytherin in here somewhere also. Who was curious, warm, happy and belonged to the Big Slytherin. The Big Slytherin whose empty home at Spinner’s end was my first stop when I came back. More than my mother, I mourn him. 

I am almost half way towards my destination when the warmth increases exponentially finally supported by the visual evidence a split second later as my eyes close in on that black hair on the head facing away from me. So dark in its color that it almost has a blue sheen to it in the light of the ceremonial hall. So close, why is he so close? I need my composure right now. I have to fight this. 

And why is he standing in the last row’s first seat on the right side? In the place I specified especially for the ‘Lord Black’ when the House elf had told me about the Lord Black coming every fortnight to see my mother. This must be some kind of mistake. I tell myself. A mistake someone will pay dearly for.

Closer and closer I get, the more tight my coil is, like a serpent on the seething edge, irritated and upset by its inability to find something to sink its poison into. I am losing control. How I hate him at the moment. How I want to rip him or myself into pieces. How I loathe him for causing this unbearable warm ache in my chest when I need cool precision to make my way and protect myself. But it’s not his fault is it? No this is my doing and I shall bear it alone.

I shroud myself in calculation then. He is taller than the last time I had seen him. Much taller. His robe is formal, expensive. His broad shoulders look rigid. Strong and muscled. Telling of physical labor. I snap myself out of it as I reach closer yet. As I pass him finally, feeling on a precipice. Praying and pleading that he would look at me and would not look at me at the same time.

He bows his head down.

Something shatters inside me.

I am grateful and murderous at the same time. I know how I sound. 

I kneel down in front of my mother’s casket without thinking about it. The warmth is now dancing from chest and spreading through my shoulders, arm, wrists and then hands. The cold of the marble against my warming skin is a soothing reminder.

‘Focus Draco. You need to Focus.’ My mind says in a voice eerily similar to my Mother’s.

I pay my respects.

And now comes the hard part. Facing the congregation. Facing the crowd that is eerily quiet.

The wake has so far gone off without a single glitch. It will remain that way. I pray that the shock gets the best of them until the ceremony is done. I will honor my Mother’s last wishes to the dot.

I heave myself up as gracefully as I can from my kneeling position and walk over to take my place now between the statue of Athena and the viewing pedestal. Gesturing to the Ceremony performer to start with the ritual. I am thankful that I have been able to do as much as I look straight back at the crowd that is now staring at me and my eyes inadvertently are drawn to the right side.

Its him. His eyes are looking at me but not seeing me, no, his eyes are fixed on my hands. No judgment in those eyes, no reaction, only observation. Some things never change. He always looked at me but never saw me. He always reacted to my provocation, never to me.

I feel the stab of his indifference. Is my face not worthy enough to be bestowed a look upon? I can feel my soul shrinking and shriveling up. What is anything worth? What is all my suffering worth? Was it all worth it? As if answering my silent questions he looks up straight into my eyes.

Green. So green. The green of Poison and Paradise. Frozen.

I see the lines of observation and indifference erase themselves off his face and be replaced by the blankness of shock. He blinks.

Some reprieve at last. So it wasn’t indifference, he had been slow enough to look at my face last in the order of things.

No, some things never change. Same goes for Gryffindor obliviousness. I am amused, but at the same time I am outraged by my reaction as well.

It’s easy to scold and hate myself now isn’t it when his stare is fixed on me, knowing that I have his undivided attention.

‘Pathetic Draco. You are absolutely pathetic!’

I stare right back.

Golden skin stretched perfectly on that aristocratic nose and jaw that would look too imposing on a face with any less broad cheeks. Lips that give away too much information just by their small purses and pouts. A perfect symmetry between polished and ruggedness. The thick but soft and curved eyebrows that encase the most beautiful green eyes known to me, eyes that are not hiding behind those ugly glasses anymore. Eyes that are like a rainfall down a scorched soul. He would look the perfect aristocrat were it not for that absolutely indomitable hair, so black in color that it gives off a blue sheen.

I hate the way he looks beautiful to me. I hate it. I now remember why I did not want to come back. How could I be foolish enough to think that I would look upon him and remain unaffected?

He has an excuse to stare at me. I am supposed to be dead and now I stand right here very much alive. What excuse do I have to stare at him.

I HATE HIM!

The expression on his face starts to change then. Blankness of shock turns to confusion and then question. So his mind is finally catching up. I am tempted to read his mind. I remember how poor an occlumens he is. I resist. Not out of honor. I assure you. No, out of fear mostly. Being back in the shoes of the Slytherin I was, is still too new for me to appreciate sadism which is so characteristic of us. I am too vulnerable, my walls too weak to enjoy Potter’s hatred. There will be time to indulge in future. I am sure of it.

And now there is anger. Sheer, raw anger. Arousing a familiar feeling in my abdomen. You don’t feel that much anger for someone who does not matter. I am tempted again to take a look into his mind but finally he averts his eyes. And the whole world just comes back into focus again. I feel desolate. I look down at the gaunt and thin figure of my mother.

I am alone in the world now. Literally.

I have been alone for a while now, but the knowledge that she lived and breathed somewhere still was enough for me to trundle through the murkiest of waters. Now that comfort is no more mine. It is my destiny. A Slytherin is ambitious, clever, deceptive, manipulative, sadistic and devoted, but most of all, he is alone.  Salazar was alone, Voldemort was alone, Severus was alone…

I have always been alone. 

I feel his piercing gaze on me again and I can’t help but look back up.

There is an acceptance in those green eyes. As if he is trying to tell me that he understands, but he doesn’t, he has Granger and Weasley and most probably a lover, wife or girlfriend to share with and be with. I have nothing, and I gave up the chance of having anything seven years ago.

I have nothing, only this volatile, string of actions and reactions with him. An unavoidable tempest that I share with him.

How desperate was I that I sold a piece of my soul for that tempest?

Because to imagine it being any more than that is as foolish as spitting towards the sky.

“Rest in peace.” I hear the crowd say with their wands drawn up and the casket of my mother starts to lower into the sarcophagus, which later in the day will be moved to the Underground resting chambers. My thoughts have lingered too far from what I am here for today. It is time to make the speech and say the final farewell.

I recite my mother’s favorite poem, surprisingly by a muggle poetess that went by the name of ‘Sarah Teasdale’. I remember her singing this poem in her beautiful voice when she tended to her gardens in misty summer mornings. It is a fitting farewell I suppose. 

“This is a most unprecedented surprise Mr. Malfoy. Please accept my condolences for the loss of your mother.” Says the Minister of magic as he nothing short of accosts me as soon as the ceremony is over.

I feel Montague by my side. “Kingsley Shacklebolt; Minister of Magic” he murmurs into my ear. It is surprise that I hear him at all.

The whole Ceremonial Hall seems to be soaked in gasping chatters.

“Thank you, Minister Shacklebolt.” I shake the dark hand the man is offering me. He looks the part. Though there is a strange dullness in his eyes, which is enough to send a warning coldness through me. I remember Montague telling me just a few hours ago about how the Ministry was looking forward to ransacking my estate. I feel like sneering, but I keep myself in check.

“Now, I think it will make the most interesting tea time conversation, this whole matter of your return from the dead…” He presses my hand warningly and I understand that this is not a request. I smile internally as I envision his outrage and fear and disgust if I ever sit down and tell him what I have done and what I am. Tea time conversation? Oh he doesn’t know the half of it. I press his hand back leaning closer.

“Then I will make sure to make it good for you Minister.” If that is not an offer for a payoff, then I don’t know what is. Apparently he gets the picture. I half expect him to be offended being from the order and all. I expect wrong as he shrewdly considers me for a minute before inclining his head in agreement as a calculated smile graces his dark face. I have succeeded. This is the most important person to bribe and make believe, rest of the world will follow.

“Tomorrow afternoon then. My assistant bakes a wicked batch of butter scones which I am sure you will enjoy.” I shoot a glance at Montague who dips his head slightly signaling me that I will have to agree and that it will be enough time for us to discuss all corners.

“I am sure I will Minister Shacklebolt. I would have invited you to the manor tomorrow but I still need time to settle down the household.” I smile at him.

“Not to worry Lord Malfoy, it is totally understandable.” He says as he looks around.

“I wonder where Harry has gone off to.” Says the Minister trying to look over the crowd that is now teeming around the raised Platform to offer formal condolences. I notice for the first time the receding of the warmth that was almost over-whelming me until a few minutes ago. My eyes find him immediately. He is walking away towards the door, in a swift and lithe gait. Dodging people gracefully. So I guess it’s Auror Potter after all.

“Ronald!” Calls Shacklebolt and I turn to see Weasley making way towards us. He has filled out over the years but has no grace like Potter. He looks tough though where Potter looks swift. I see Granger by his side Along with most of the Weasley brood in the background.

“Minister.” Weasley nods and then turns towards me. I just raise a characteristic eyebrow. The blankness on the freckled face is enough to perplex me. He is wearing standard black robes that are surprisingly well fit. He looks and feels like a father would.

“Malfoy, Accept my condolences, it’s a tragic loss.” He says in a sincere enough tone as he puts forward his hand for me to shake. I am now covertly astonished. Though I make sure that it does not show on my face as I accept the handshake.

“Ronald, where has Harry gone off to?” asks the Minister.

“He had to leave Minister, he had something important come up.” Lies Ronald Weasley as he shoots a glance at me.

“Hello Draco. I am sorry for your loss. Your mother was a heroine.” I look down at the Muggle born witch who gave me such a hard time at Hogwarts. She looks radiant. Her Brown bush of a hair is tied back and her robes are immaculate. She grabs hold of Weasleys arm.

“Thankyou for your kind words Mrs… Weasley I suppose?” I smile at her. If I know Granger right, she would have made a good place in the wizarding world. I will be damned if I don’t make nice with her. which I would. She is a Gryffindor and as such, compassion is a done deal with her. It works.

She beams at me.

“You suppose right. I am so glad Draco that you are alive. Whatever our differences have been in the past, I just want to say Welcome back.”

I am stumped by her sincerity. What are these people made of? What changed? What gives? How can they be so quick to forgive?

After that it’s a flood. I accept condolences, Shake hands, make meaningless conversation and all through the gruesome process the only highlight is My aunt, Andromeda Tonks.

She tells me that though she and my mother never reconciled, she still considers me family and should I ever need anything her home is open to me.

I look deep in her deep sky blue eyes which are the exact color and shape of my mothers and see a profound sadness in there. She lost everything to the war and prejudice. Her only reason to live is the little bouncy Metamorphmagus on her side. Little Teddy Lupin. Child of my cousin Nymphadora and the were-wolf Remus Lupin who both died in the final battle.

“Hello little Lupin. I am Draco.” I feel compelled towards the child. As he sports the Greenest eyes rivaled only by Potter’s

“Hello.” He smiles brightly showing off a missing tooth and then abruptly asks.

“Are you a friend of Harry’s?” I look up to see Andromeda deep in conversation with Minister Shacklebolt.

“I wanted to be, but he didn’t.” I say smiling sadly. His green eyes are now shining like emeralds. But he looks puzzled.

“Why?” he is searching my face thoroughly.

“I don’t know, maybe I said something silly.” I shrug.

“But you are sad. Everyone says silly things when they are sad.”

Yes they do little Lupin, everyone says silly things when they are Sad and feel rejected. To think I just exchanged almost sincere, in strained pleasantries with the reason Potter can’t stand me long enough to grant me false condolences. It’s ironic.

“It’s okay Little Lupin. I have plenty of other friends.” I assure the child who is now looking at me even more intently.

“Then why are you sad?” he insists

“Because my mother died and I couldn’t be there.” I answer simply.

“Oh, My mother also died when I was a baby, I couldn’t be there either. I don’t remember her but I have pictures of her. Would you like to see them? you can show me yours too.” He looks hopeful and I realize that I have never talked to a child for so long.

“Sure, little Lupin.” I smile at his excitement.

I tell Aunt Andromeda that she is welcome at the Manor always along with Teddy. I assure her that I have every intention of mending the fences. I signal the House-elves to start serving the refreshments that are arranged in the back yard of the Ceremonial hall which faces a beautiful artificial Lake my ancestors made. I take my leave as graciously as I can.

“I have spoken with the Daily Prophet correspondent and also the Wizardly Wireless. They requested an interview as soon as possible; I have given them the day after tomorrow. Is that acceptable Lord Malfoy?” Montague is most satisfactorily studious. I watch the crowd being led by the house elves towards served refreshment.

“Yes Solicitor Montague, I believe the sooner we deal with it all, the better. I would like to see you at supper so we can discuss what I am going to be saying to the Minister tomorrow.” I find myself telling him as I make my way out of the Ceremonial Hall. The whole event has taxed on my nerves. Perhaps it is the fact that I am not used to sport attention of so many people all at once anymore. Also it has been a while since I have suppressed my magic for a while.

I have to admit that the whole thing has gone better than I was expecting and I grudgingly have Weasley and Granger to thank for that. Apparently whoever the Golden couple accepts the general crowd accepts too. Their welcoming smiles and friendly gestures set the tone for the rest of the crowd. A suggestive charm might have also had something to do with it, with a simple command to not ask questions I felt compelled not to answer. So whilst people offered condolences and respects and expected shock at my return, no one outright ask me the obvious questions.

Where have you been Malfoy? Why did you lead everyone to believe that you were dead? Why weren’t you here for your father’s death? What did you have to do with Fenrir Greyback? Why has your Dark Mark not killed you yet?

I walk uphill swiftly. I can simply apparate inside the manor, but something compels me to take a walk. For the first time I feel my formal robes confining me. Questions, questions…

‘When?’ they will ask and I would answer ‘An hour from sunset, on the eve of the final battle.”

‘Why?’ They will ask me and I would answer ‘I was taken by Greyback by force and had no choice. Greyback always had his eye on me, and caught me in the first wave of the attack.’

‘How?’ They will ask me how I escaped and I would answer ‘Greyback’s ritual was cut short when Voldemort died finally, I myself was severely hit by the magical backlash, so as soon as Greyback fell, I in my scrambled mind apparated away accidently and ended up in another country with no memories.’

Yes, that will do perfectly and if they decide to investigate they would find evidence supporting my story.

But the real answers to these questions?

I take a deep breath and close my eyes as I walk towards the wrought-iron gate. Trying to relax. Uncoil.

I should have been more careful, I think a moment later as I feel the point of a wand poking my throat stopping me in my tracks effectively.

“What was the spell I attacked you with in the Sixth year?” Asks a stern and angry enough voice. I open my eyes to find myself dangerously close to green ones.

“Sectumsempra.” I answer before sneering.

I think it’s my sneer, more than my answer that convinces him, but still some shadow of suspicion remains in those brilliant eyes. The warmth is over-whelming me.

“Where did we meet for the first time Malfoy?” he spits out the name as if it has a foul taste. Well, I can give as good as I get.

“At Madame Malkin’s Potter!” I spit back at him. “Now I should have known that you are stupid enough to ignore the fact that the Blood wards of the Manor would not allow in an imposter, even a Polyjuiced one, but as it is, I will make sure I remedy my misinformation.” I loom over him, as his wand is still poking the side of my throat. I expect him to hex me any moment. instead those eyes start to smile, before the whole face morphs to lines of amusement and he starts chuckling.

“It really is you.” he says, his face becoming somber again as he steps away from me and brings down his wand. I am too mesmerized to say anything in words so I just nod.

“I am sorry for your loss.” He says quietly, but there is now something else burning in those eyes.

“Thank you.” I answer solemnly. I notice that he doesn’t try to put his hand forward for a shake.

“Real or no Malfoy, remember this…” he steps closer again. I wish he would stop doing that.

“I don’t trust you, I can’t be bribed and I still hate you. So I will be watching you. Very closely. I had no reservations in defending you when I thought you were dead, as it is, you were not, what you were in fact  is what you have always been, a coward, who ran away from the war when the going got tough. And above everything, I hate cowards. One step out of line and I swear you will regret the day you decided to come back.”

While his words slash and cut through me somewhere deep inside, I am numb to the pain. Oh I will feel it later, when I will replay this moment a hundred times in my head, but right now he is too close. He smells of honey almonds and cinnamon. I can feel his breath on my face with every sharp, dagger-like word that comes out of his mouth. I remain in a trance until he steps away again and something on the lapel of his robes catch my eye. He is wearing an onyx and silver brooch, with a skull a wand and three ravens. A crest I would recognize anywhere. Black family crest. Potter is Lord Black?

 

“Have a good day Malfoy.” He says as he steps further away and into the apparition point where he turns gracefully on his feet and disapparates into the sunlight. 


 

Chapter Text

 

   

 

Could you feel it? While I melted..

You could have been my home, but now we live alone.

And we’re apart but face to face and you’re my happiness. (A Thousand Light-years at Snail-speed)

 

 

“Alone and brooding again Ron? Seriously mate! Come off it, you are getting married tomorrow, you need to enjoy the celebrations.” He looked down at his best friend who was sitting hunched on a bench on the edge of the make-shift Quidditch field one on which they had played so often.

“Easy for you to say, you are not taking the leap are you?” mumbled Ron as he buried his head deeper in his arms.

“Okay, so tell me what is really bothering you?” He asked Ron, as he settled down on the bench readying for a fierce word match.

“What is bothering me? Have you been in a coma or something? I am getting married to HERMIONE! I have everything in the world to be worried about.” Ron snapped.

“No Ron, because you are marrying Hermione, you have nothing to be worried about. She takes care of everything; she is bright, loyal, faithful, and stupid enough to be stubbornly and irrevocably in love with you.” He made sure his voice was serious and yet light hearted enough to make sure Ron did not lash out.

“That is exactly what worries me Harry, don’t you see? I am not good enough for her! I never was, I never will be, I try! I try all the time, but she is just so much better. She knows just when to push me, and when to pull me back, she understand everything I say or I don’t say, she is so perfect? And what am I? I certainly don’t have the intellectual capacity to engage her or temperament to placate her when and if she goes berserk on me… What if she finds me boring? What if she finds me lacking? Too stupid? Too thick? What if she decides that she does not want me after a few years? Or worse, what if she endures me because I am not good enough and she is married to me and too honorable to walk away from me?”

 Tears shined in Ron’s blue eyes and Harry curled an arm around his best friend in a comforting gesture which was welcomed whole-heartedly.

“You know, all of your fears are well-placed, but those fears and holes are also there between most compatible couples as well. What marriage is about working out those fears and filling out those holes. To keep together through all tough times just because to live without that person is an impossibility bigger than you overcoming all your fears and becoming perfect. Don’t you see mate? What you just said? That the worse scenario would be her enduring you out of obligation? That it would hurt you if she was hurting that way. Do you think anyone else can love her as much as you do? Because I can’t!”

Something changed in Ron’s eyes at that statement, an acceptance, an understanding. Harry felt bliss and awe at the same time, seeing how much his best friend loved his other best friend. Suddenly Harry snickered remembering Ron’s words.

“Intellectual capacity to engage? Temperament to placate? Since when did you start talking like that?” He asked Ron smirking who blushed some more and chuckled.

“I am not absolutely useless you know. I have been reading up stuff too, you know, increase my vocabulary, so that I can at least understand half of the things she is saying when she goes off on a … ‘tangent’. But…”

“And this is the reason why I would choose you million out of million times Ronald Weasley.” Said Hermione as she appeared out of thin air just behind the bench. Harry smiled at the invisible cloak in her hand. As tears fell steadily down her face she beamed down at Ron who blushed even more than Harry had ever seen.

“No one ever even tries to understand when I go off on a tangent, everyone thinks I am this impossible know-it-all who is too fast for anyone to keep track with, but you my love are the one who tries, and that means the world to me.” Hermione said as Ron reached up to hold her as she reached down to hold him at the same time, and Harry jumped off the bench turning quickly towards the house, grinning ear to ear as he backed away from the couple already draped around each other.

“Ah! I guess I should find shelter Ron, it’s about to rain kisses and snogs which I think are only meant for you.” He said walking swiftly only to hear snickers and then wet kisses from behind him which filled his heart with an aching warmth of happiness and craving to have someone of his own to hold like that.

 

 


 

 

It feels like the Sixth year all over again.
The Wizarding Britain is in an uproar since his return and all I feel is foreboding.

Since I am no longer required to search the Manor which was what hogged my requested off-time from work previously, I was informed that I could take my leave as I had originally planned. I can’t help but feel paranoid about it. Am I being forced to keep away from ministry for some reason? If I am, it’s only a matter of time that I will return, and then I can of course make my way, like I always do. I know that is what precisely scares Kingsley about me. I always find my way in and I always find my way out as well.

 To distract myself on my off day, I am working on my house, but thoughts keep on wandering off and they have all the reason in world to do so.

I am working on preserving a panel length tapestry in the third floor Ball room that shows a scene of dancing gypsy. It has taken me a month every year divided in half and half for past four years to make it to the Third floor rooms. During the days when Grimmauld place served as head-quarters for the Order of Phoenix, only the ground, first and second floor were in use and even in those floors only selected rooms were used.

 There was a time I laughed at the existence of this room. I could not fathom the possible reason for having two Ballrooms in a house. This ballroom covers half of the Third floor which has only two other rooms which were once private entertaining salons, gents and Ladies, with a small solarium towards the front wall. Which did not show from the outside at all. I only discovered the solarium accidently since the wall was charmed to not show any light through the Glass panels. Why someone would deny beautiful sunlight to this old and dark home, I don’t know. Then again, Blacks never were the sharpest tools in the shed but they were the stiffest ones.

It took me more than a week to clean and refurbish the Solarium and it now has a beautiful array of flowering plants, which Neville helped me with the summer last year when he came to stay for a month from Hogwarts where he is the stationed Herbology professor.

The ball room is a different story all together.

The reason it took me so long to discover it in the first place was that the door was sealed with a padlock that no one could find the key to. Even Kreacher was unable to tell me where the mistress had put the keys to all the rooms on the Third floor. After almost giving up the search I stumbled across them in the Black Vault at Gringotts. Despite my initial fit of mirth at the pretentiousness of the bygone, I could not help but notice the grandeur the ballroom must’ve held once. Magically expanded, it is more faded than worn out, unlike the dance Hall downstairs which is smaller and worn out with use.

The walls are lined with beautiful beige marble with gold veins and gold plated skirting, tapestries and gilded mirrors cover the walls, but the most beautiful and breath-taking feature of the extravagant ballroom is the ceiling. Painted artistically in ever changing floral patterns, which I figured later moved in accordance to the music being played in the room and not to forget the most intricate crystal and gold-plated chandeliers I have seen in my life. I have commissioned Winky with cleaning  the chandeliers during her free time. I notice this morning that she has already cleaned four out of twelve of them to perfection.

I delicately work with my wand on the frayed threads in the corner of one of the biggest tapestries in the room and smile again at the Gypsy dancer who keeps on dancing provocatively just to distract me. I admit dressed in a sheer silk garb in a non-descriptive shade of pink which must have been red once upon a time, she has the most voluptuous curves I have seen on a woman and she is just as shameless about them, but that is not what keeps drawing my attention towards her. It’s what seems like the unusual grey her eyes currently are that keep catching my attention on the faded woven silk canvas. They shouldn’t though. Her skin is a faded gold instead of ivory white and her hair is a shy black, tied with a light pink ribbon instead of silver blond. I know once the tapestry is preserved back to its original colors, her eyes would probably be Azure, her faded golden skin will be a beautiful bronze golden and her shy black hair would be a stream of shiny black voluminous curls tied with a red ribbon.

I promise her that she will be rejuvenated to her full capacity soon enough and she seems happy about it and dances some more making the men surrounding her in the scene throw more gold coins at her feet. I roll my eyes at the cat calls, to which she says something in a strange language which I know after careful research through Black family archives, is some form or lost dialect of Turkish, since the setting for the Tapestry is an old bazaar in Anatolia, which was the only thing mentioned in the archives. The tapestry, a commissioned piece, is called “The gypsy on the streets of Anatolia.” So creative! I snorted when I found out.

Like I said, not the sharpest tools in the shed.

Preserving and fixing things has become a passionate hobby of mine over the years since the war. My friends suggest that it is to fulfill my sub-conscious need to fix the unfixable things in my life. Alright, Hermione thinks that it is to fulfill my subconscious need to fix things in my life, such as:

-My childhood at the Dursleys…

-My teenage years fighting with Voldemort…

-Cedric’s death…

-Losing Sirius…

-Losing Dumbledore…

 -Losing Remus and Tonks…

and

-Last but not least, losing Severus Snape.

I know my friends (Hermione) might be true in this instance, but no one ever should expect me to be perfect.

I am not, never was, never will be.

So I make the best of the deal I got in the end. I repair frayed ends, peeling walls and gnawed furniture, thinking that someday Teddy would find this place worthy enough to raise a family in. Perhaps he will have a beautiful girl or girls someday who will get their first dancing lessons in these rooms, or perhaps a coming of age ball? I smile at the idea and feel peace, its fleeting, but it’s there. This morning though it is not to be had. I am restless and frustrated and even Dancing Esmeralda feels it.

I know I should not have accosted Malfoy outside his own home. I know I should not have vocalized my suspicions in such clear words. But I have never been one for subtlety when it comes to Draco Malfoy and I think it also goes the other way around. I just remember the frustration at his boldness and so I did what I did, instinctually, and now there is nothing for it.

It’s been hardly a week and he has managed to bribe/convince Kingsley that there is nothing fishy about his sudden disappearance seven years ago, or his reappearance for that matter. I am sure a lot of sweet talk and a hefty amount of Galleons can help one accomplish anything and that is not even the worse part.

It is not as if I did not expect him to buy an easy way out with Kingsley. He is a Malfoy, bribery is the kind of thing they are best at. I am surprised that Kingsley has put aside his loss so gamely. Do I smell political support that comes with the Malfoy name backing Kingsley for re-election? Yes I do, and even that is not the worse part.

It’s true that I did not expect the media reaction the way it is turning out. It’s as if the ferret-face is the finest thing that ever happened to the Wizarding Britain, and no, that is not the worse part either.

No, the worse part about this situation is the support that the ferret-face has gained in my friends and last night during our weekly Weasley communion, I found out just how serious the whole matter is.

“So what really happened was… that after we rescued him from the fiend-fyre in the room of requirement, he slithered out somehow to go look for his mother during the first wave of the attack. He took cover of the edge of the forest on school ground but was suddenly in the clutches of Greyback. Now, do you remember Harry, how we read in the reports of the search conducted for Malfoy in the first year during Auror training that had interviews of surviving death-eaters who mentioned how Greyback was constantly trying to chew on Malfoy?”

I raised a skeptical brow at Ron. Checking for a certain flush on his cheeks that he always got when he drank a little too much. He was sober, which was even more disturbing. No blush, he was standing by the roaring fire place in what I call the Blue Parlor since I renovated Grimmauld place. It used to be a Dance room, but anticipating the sheer amount of Weasleys and friends I knew I would be entertaining I had turned it into an extended sitting room. Painted it my favorite shade of blue and furnished it with as many seating receptacles as possible, all in beige.  

I remember the first year of Auror training crystal clear. I remember burning the midnight oil, reading up old cases and how they were solved. I remember Hermione reading all our Auror stuff alongside her unspeakable stuff, and I remember Ron’s furious growling every time he saw Draco Malfoy’s folder in my hand. It got to such a point once that he accused me of being obsessed with Malfoy just like Sixth year, and I had in turn drove the point home about how right I was being suspicious of Malfoy back in the days, which in turn had him spewing things he wanted to say and had kept a lid on regarding my testimony and support of the Malfoys during death eaters trial. The argument had blown so out of proportion that it took weeks for me and Ron to bury the hatchet.

Now for this man to stand there, and say what curiously sounded like an emphatic recounting of Malfoy’s sad tale of disappearance, complete with supporting evidence (Such as the fucking Auror case file of the Draco Malfoy’s disappearance that suffered bodily abuse at Ronald Weasley’s hand) and encouraging counter arguments to any objections that may arise. Not that I was about to raise any objections other than the most obvious one, that ferret-face Malfoy was a LIAR.

“Yeh, so, Greyback snatched him out of nowhere and he was beaten unconscious, only to wake up between some kind of Dark magic ritual, spread out on the stone pyre like a sacrificial offering to Merlin knows who…only to get bitten and beaten near to death again by Greyback, but as the ritual started to work, the dark-mark started to heat up, before burning up completely disturbing the ritual, something to do with clashing magical forces. The pressure killed Greyback, which was the last thing Malfoy claims he saw before blacking out only to wake up in some Muggle Hospital in Berlin, battered to an inch of his life, naked and blank as a slate.”

The astonishment and pity of Ron face was quite genuine, I noticed.

“He had learnt German since he was four years old so it was not hard for him to communicate with the people who found him, it took a few months before things started to come back to him. Says it took him almost a year to realize he was a wizard. When he levitated a newspaper before it could land in a puddle of water while distributing it. Imagine that, not realizing magic for a whole year.”

“Imagine Malfoy delivering newspapers.” I snickered at the absurdity of the idea, only to look around and notice Hermione, Ginny and Angelina looking at me disapprovingly. What the hell was I missing? I wondered if I was in some sort of alternative reality, where Draco Malfoy was a good friend, Non-prejudiced, reliable, believable, brave and relentlessly noble Gryffindor, who had had to suffer so unfairly. Gah! Because in the reality I originally came from, Draco Malfoy was a rich, spoiled, cowardly, prejudiced, racist, selfish, cruel, whining, snobbish, disdainful, wasteful, foul playing, unpleasant, evil, Slytherin git.

A few possibilities come to mind. Potion? Imperius? But the weirdness was on such a large scale that it ruled out both the possibilities.

“And Kingsley believed his story and all?” I ask hiding my skepticism behind my tea cup as I am suddenly not sure how many people in the room are seeing this whole situation from the angle I am seeing it from.

“Of course, he agreed, to give the details of his absence under Veritaserum.”

“Yea, and you believe that he actually did not find a way of worming out of not taking Veritaserum? Bribery? Blackmail?” I want to bite my tongue but the idea of Ron so vehemently defending Malfoy is making me panic in a way I haven’t in a while. I mean, its RON and we are talking about MALFOY.

“Yes Harry, he did not bribe, blackmail or worm his way out of a statement under Veritaserum , and I am so sure about it because I was the one who administered it in the first place.”

That made me shut my mouth for the rest of the evening as the foreboding grew exponentially.

I sigh at the remembrance of yesterday and get back to work.

A pop alerts me of Kreacher’s presence.

“Master Harry, Miss Luna is here to see you.”

A knot is undone in my mind all of a sudden and I curse myself in relief

Of course, the one person who I can really talk about my suspicions regarding Malfoy is Luna.

Over the years though her weirdness factor has not weathered at all, I have come to realize that there is no one more unbiased, unprejudiced or least self-conscious than Luna Lovegood. Even Hermione is sometimes too self-absorbed and opinionated about things. Luna Lovegood is the perfect blend of cool, detached calculation and amazingly accommodating compassion. At times when everything else stops making sense, Luna is the only one who can lead you back to sensibility and when everything is too sensible and serious, Luna is the only one who can inject it with something absolutely Nonsensical.

“Brilliant!” I exclaim excitedly and look down at my work clothes and decide that a quick shower is in order.

“Make her that special tea she loves so much and tell her I’ll be there in ten minutes.” Kreacher nods and pops away, while I swiftly bound downstairs to my bedroom on the second floor for a shower and change.

 


 

I step down into the living room precisely ten minutes later to hear Luna chatting away with Winky and Kreacher both about something called “Giggliotores”. The confounded expression on Winky and Kreacher’s faces is enough to make me want to laugh.

“Oh hello Harry!” she says warmly as she looks at me standing up from the couch and I freeze in place it’s as if I am noticing it for the first time how silvery grey Luna’s eyes are. What in the world is wrong with me? I watch her eyes coming closer to me as her blonde fringe glows. I can only close my eyes, but another pair of silvery grey eyes and pale silver blond hair flashes behind my closed eye lids. Only in place of Luna’s soft features and heart shaped face, it is hard aristocratic lines and chiseled face of Draco Malfoy. 

“ – for it Harry.” I hear her say before she lays a peck on my cheek as is our mandatory greeting, which says we are friends, but have been more intimate than friends once upon a time and that we are fully comfortable with our physical boundaries. I know and recognize these signs because of the relationship advice and dating advice books Hermione kept on buying me for years and only, finally, gave up on last year. Thank God for that!

“You are positively distracted my friend! Don’t make me bring out my spectrespecs…” she smiles in her mysterious way which always means she is seeing more than I am showing.

“I’m sorry.” I cover my lapse immediately. “It’s just that this color you are wearing is so distracting.” Which it is, as she is wearing a summer dress in butter yellow. I know the color precisely because I recently bought the curtains for the ladies Salon on the third floor in the same color in combination with off-white, and now the room is so sickeningly girly that I can’t stand it for more than fifteen minutes.

“I see, It’s new.” She says blinking at me and I straight away understand.

“It’s gorgeous, goes so well with your eyes and your hair.” I say taking her soft and warm hand in mine and smiling genuinely at her.

There is no doubt, that in all my friends and acquaintances, Luna  has grown to be the prettiest (though she does not have a clue about it) and also most accomplished, second only to Hermione in accomplishments. She runs Quibbler single-handedly which is the second most read magazine in Wizarding Britain. She is a voluntary ambassador and field liaison for the Department of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Specializing in Centaur politics. Not to forget that she is my official publicist and chairman of My Fan-club even though she is not a fan-girl at all, which is what I like best about that particular situation. We established the club on her suggestion in the first place when she said that “Controlling a Chaotic crowd is ten times more difficult than commanding an army.” The solution was simple and so easy that within a year of being established, the load of extreme public fawning was off my shoulders and for the first time I was able to see the funny side of it all.

“I suppose… so, I thought I would be here with you when you unveil this week’s Witch’s weekly, instead of over the floo which is our regular ritual.”

I arch an eye brow at her to which she smiles dreamily and turns to her hand bag and fishes out the Magazine we usually enjoy mocking so much.

She hands over the crisp copy to me her eyes sparkling mysteriously I look away from her to look down at the magazine in her hand. I am stunned.

It is picture of me in a Muggle white Tuxedo jacket, which I remember I wore to Last Ministry’s Christmas gala, sitting on the hand rest of a sofa, a champagne glass hanging precariously in my lose fingers while I swirl the liquid inside carelessly, looking away at something very intensely. I remember this picture clearly because it was taken without my knowledge by Dennis, and according to witches all around the world one of the Hottest pictures of me ever taken. They call it decadent. In reality, I look absolutely miserable, which I was, hating every minute of having to be at that Gala.

 Only this time the picture has been edited and there sits Malfoy right next to me on the same Sofa, his silver blond Hair lose, reclined, an ankle crossed on top of a knee carelessly but gracefully, looking away at something, only he looks deep in thought, dressed in black formal robes, long fingers stroking the Dragon head on the cane which he keeps twirling expertly and absently. The headline under it screams in a tearing white.

‘Will Sexy Lord Malfoy finally steal number one spot of Britian’s hottest most eligible wizard from the Gorgeous Lord Potter-Black? Witches SQUEE!’

I look up at Luna, her eyes are dancing with mirth. I frown at her, at which she chuckles at me and gesticulates at me to open the cursed thing.

Me and Malfoy are such Hot news for some reason that we have made the center spread. In glossy anti-wrinkle paper and ever-lasting Ink. Because of which the Magazine costs two sickles extra than its usual cost. Such Hot-shit we are.

-          Is  famous and casually sexy Gryffindor Lord Potter-Black finally going to lose top spot as Britain’s hottest most Eligible Wizard to Mysterious and formally sexy Slytherin Lord Malfoy? Who has never looked more dreamy?

-          Is Lord Malfoy about to contest the title of Lord Black? Magic Genealogical experts speak.

-          Special never before heard of accounts of the famous Potter-Malfoy rivalry at Hogwarts.

-          Speculations about Lord Malfoy’s mysterious disappearance.

-          Harry Potter’s crusade to save the Malfoy Name at the death-eater trials.

All that and much more in this Week’s Special Edition of Witch’s Weekly.

*Don’t forget to Owl in your vote for the WITCH’S WEEKLY POLL OF THE MONTH:

  • Do you want to kiss Harry Potter?
  • Do you want to kiss Draco Malfoy?
  • Do you want them to kiss each other?

 

I think my eye brows will never come back to their original location by the time I am done reading the highlights to the upcoming Special Edition of Witch’s Weekly.

“I don’t think Draco is going to contest the title of Lord black. Even if he is more eligible, blood wise to claim it so, but yes it would be wise to be prepared. She after all has even a bigger claim on the title than even Draco.”

I have no idea who she is talking about or what she is talking about as the last option of the poll is burned into my retinas. Kiss Malfoy? Why in the world would people even suggest such a thing? I am strictly straight in the eyes of the world, though I admit I have an isolated experience with a male lover as well, but that is something that is strictly private knowledge, something only my closest friends know about. Even if it was just as lukewarm an encounter as with many of my female lovers.

“Uh?” I say inarticulately, but I am not half as embarrassed about it as I would be if it was anyone else sitting in front me.

She looks at me curiously, her head tilted to the side before she taps on the page of the magazine that is still spread open on my knees.

Is Lord Malfoy about to contest the title of Lord Black? Magic Genealogical experts speak.’

To say I am ashamed would be an understatement. There is a genuine threat or possibility of a threat in those lines I just read and all I focused on was why someone would suggest I should kiss Malfoy. I want to slap the back of my head myself.

“You mean, I should involve Andromeda?” I ask Luna hesitantly.

“Well, I would suggest that you talk to Draco about it directly and find if there is any basis to such a claim, it is always good to show people what you expect and don’t expect of them upfront rather than weaving circles around it unnecessarily, that’s how I deal with the Centaurs.  But then again…” She pauses and then tilts her head to the other side looking somewhere at my forehead.

“…With that amount of Nargles around your head, I don’t think it’s wise, because you might not be able to keep your temper in check. I will owl you some Hippogriff dung and garlic incense to deal with them.” I shudder invisibly at the thought.

“Sure…” I say reluctantly and she just smiles in her absent way.

“So I guess you want to talk to me about Draco… Other than this?” she takes the magazine from my hand and puts it away, before settling back in the couch and looking at me intently. I don’t know how or why, that look makes me banish the filter between my mind and my mouth.

“I do Luna, I think I am going insane. I feel like I am the only one that is suspicious of his return. Am I the only one who still remembers the kind of person Draco Malfoy has been since he was a child? Am I the only one who can see that the fact that he has obviously bribed Kingsley that he is not much different from his father or his grandfather or his great grandfather? He disappears, and we find his blood and pieces of his clothes strewn everywhere, he wanders the world doing Merlin knows what for seven years and then just conveniently returns at his Mother’s death. Tells a hap-hazard story, gains sympathy, support, and fervor from all around him, just because of a very lose and extremely limited interrogation under Veritaserum? And no one even suggests that Draco Malfoy might have thrown off Veritaserum? Or to cross-check his claims?...”

“Only an extremely powerful wizard or an extraordinary potions master can throw off Veritaserum or make an antidote Harry.”

“Oh! I’ll tell you Luna, He is extremely powerful, in a way he never was before, you should have seen the protection ward he erected around the Malfoy Manor the night before the Wake, I have never seen the likes of it in all my experience and as for Potions master, Malfoy was heir, apprentice and God son to one of the greatest Potions Masters ever known to the Wizarding world, Severus Snape. So the antidote to Veritaserum should be a piece of cake for the likes of him.”

“So correct me if I am wrong… You have already confronted him, threatened him, and told him of your suspicion of him?”

I have no idea how she figured that out from all that I just said. I wonder if it was just a lucky guess or if she really knows me that much. I figure there is no use denying it anyways.

“I admit that it was not the smartest thing to do, but Luna, there is just something about him that is rubbing me the wrong way, and the way everyone is so easy about it? What makes everyone believe and trust his story so implicitly? Is it Political influence? A plethora of Good deeds on his credit from years past? Money? Magic?...” She interrupts me with a single word.

“You!” She says nodding calmly.

“Me?” I ask incredulously, I know she is trying to make a point, but I don’t see it. What do I have to do with any of it.

“Yes you Harry… You are a partial reason if not all of it for the way Draco is being accepted in the wizarding world.”

 

“I think in more than one instance you were the one to keep Malfoy name out of the ashes, but you had done that for Narcissa Malfoy, out of gratitude and guilt. Guilt mostly because she lost her son when you had assured her that he was still safe even if it now turns out that you  had no reason to advocate Malfoy respect so vehemently since said son was alive and safe, but that was not the only reason for your relentless support was it?” I open my mouth to answer but she continues with that dreamy yet sharp look in her eyes.

“It had to do with filling gaps in the new world order after the war, to make both pure-bloods and muggleborns equal part of the society, it was because Narcissa Malfoy had saved your life even when she had gotten assurance of her son’s life from you, it was because of the honor in keeping her word, it was because Draco had once saved your life at the Malfoy Manor, it was because he refused to kill Dumbledore under the pain of his own death and his family’s.”

“… If anything your own defense of him during the death-eater trials have something to do with this benefit of positive judgment Draco is getting from everyone, you seem to have forgotten this Harry, but you were the one who got his name on Martyr’s memorial.”

By the time she stops speaking, my mind is abuzz again. Too many thoughts are churning, but I know I won’t be able to reach the very obvious conclusion any time soon with the bombardment I had just been subjected to. Luna, bless her soul, understands this somehow and brings everything into perspective.

“So, this is the way I see it Harry. It’s either that you had lied back then after the war about all the things that Draco did for which you forgave him and then defended him, That your claim that he was forced to do all the things he had to do was false and only to relieve your conscience of the debt you felt you owed Narcissa Malfoy.”

“Absolutely Not!” I almost yell at the outrageous accusation. “None of the things I did or said in defense of Malfoy were fabrications Luna, they were true, even if the basis of it was to compensate Mrs.Malfoy for her loss. I would not take anything back…”

“WHICH… brings me to the other way I see it, that you are being childish and hateful about it unnecessarily now, as you go on to ignore all the things that you yourself said in defense of Draco Malfoy to the rest of the world and are sticking to the old prejudices you had against him, just as he had against you back in the days when you were boy wonder, and he the Ice-prince. You who made everyone else give Draco benefit of the doubt are a hypocrite and do not want to do the same yourself. Which I know you aren’t. So Harry, really? Is the stubbornness worth this fuss?” She is now holding my hand and looking at me earnestly, and I realize I do not have an answer to her question because for a long time in my life I have neither been stubborn about something nor have I made a fuss.


 

 

Three hours later, just after having lunch with Luna at home I stand outside the apparition point just off field from where the Laurel cottage is situated. After the war Andromeda had moved to the summer cottage that she and Ted owned just on the outskirts of the Small but famous Wizarding village called Helga’s Bode. Rumored to be the birthplace of Helga Hufflepuff.

I have decided that it is best to speak with Andromeda about the chance of Malfoy trying to contest me for the Black  title and fortune. I know that the law would favor me most probably, since I was nominated legally with reputed witnesses by Sirius as heir to the estate, I still would want to know where Andromeda stands, now that her nephew has returned from the dead and from what I saw at the wake I think Andromeda has full intention to be reconciled with him. I know it is sort of insecure of me to think these things, but am I really one to know the power of blood relations? I only know that they are important enough that Dumbledore left me with mine as an infant, knowing full well how badly I would be and was treated by them. After lifetime estrangement from her flesh and blood Andromeda does deserve a lot of what she didn’t get so I will not ask her to choose my side, or any side if she so wishes. My only concern is Teddy’s future, for which I will fight tooth and nail until we come to a settlement in all cases if push comes to shove.

I step through the rickety fence gate painted white already. The cottage looks beautiful in the looming afternoon sun. The garden is well tended as always and the tire swing I put up for Teddy two weeks ago is still holding up nicely. I step on to the stone patio and swing open the fly net door only to have the Oak door inside swing open by itself by Teddy, who looks extremely excited.

“HARRY!” he shouts before he launches himself and clings to my waist  with a vice grip way too strong for a seven year old and buries his face in my side, I know he is sniffing me he does that sometimes when he’s been missing me, I feel guilty for it. I only get a chance to ruffle his reddish brown hair before I look up expecting to see Andromeda only to come face to face with...

“Malfoy.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Ey ziyân u ey ziyân eu ey ziyân u ey ziyân

Hûshyârî dar miyân-e bî-khudân u bî-hushân

 

What a loss, loss, loss, loss it is

to remain sober among the intoxicated and the unconscious.(Rumi)

 

 

The day he broke into Severus’ mind was the day he found that he was  a necromancer. He also found out that in order for Potter to win in the war against Voldemort, Potter would not only have to destroy the Horcruxes, but also die himself, because Potter himself was an accidental Horcrux according to Dumbledore’s theory. The plans Draco had already made of escape from the Dark lord and rescue of his family came down like a house of cards.

But giving up had never been Draco’s inclination. He knew that he had to save Potter. He was a Necromancer God damn it! Even if it was such a new revelation, even if the Necromancy as known at the time in the wizarding world was nothing but a joke. It wasn’t.

He knew what he had seen in the Stone when he was seven had to be powerful magic.

So the endless seeking started. In the beginning Severus stood like a stumbling block in Draco’s way, but Severus gave up when he found that Draco was just insane enough to consider him a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block.

Severus gave in at last when they went back to Hogwarts for the seventh year. Severus being the head-master of Hogwarts gave Draco access to a lot more than he could have ever gotten alongside a permission to leave castle grounds when he required it . If he had more than one scuffle with more than one Gryffindor, well that was just the way it was going to be, perhaps always, Draco did not let it hinder his research process.  It took Draco more than three months to finally find a lead to the kind of information he needed on Necromancy.

He could not believe his luck and stupidity.

It occurred to him as he was on the train going back to the manor for Christmas holidays, that if it was the Malfoy blood-line which was cursed with the power of Necromancy, then it would be the Manor that would hold answers to what he was seeking. And what Draco was seeking was a way to prevent Harry Potter from dying his inevitable death when the times comes. 

After covert searching and perusing through Malfoy libraries, during the first week of the holidays, Draco was quickly running out of leads. Other than information that passed on through word of mouth or in the blood bound journals of some of my ancestors, who were not necromancers themselves, there was nothing that scratched even the surface on the subject. There were only acknowledgments that Necromancy, which was formidable and most abominable kind of magic, did in fact exist and the modern version of the magic was indeed a cover-up to hide the real sinister nature of it, so that less and less people were lured into it.

 In one of these journals of his ancestors Draco found the reference to the story of Belenos Malfoy, one of his ancestors who apparently was the one who commissioned the Ceremonial Hall down at the family burial grounds. Belenos Malfoy had lived around fifteenth century. His commissioning of the Ceremonial hall and then the re building of many of the underground tombs was what intrigued Draco in the first place. The story or rather the legend was very well-known in almost all pure-blood families.

It was said that the Malfoy ceremonial Hall was made as a tribute to Belenos’ wife Zenovia, a beautiful Greek pure-blooded witch of formidable power, who died during child birth. Belenos followed her once his son was of age and able to assume the title of Lord Malfoy. It was the only story or legend regarding love, devotion or obsession if you would call it in Malfoy family history. Still the story of Belenos and Zenovia intrigued the young Slytherin. That much obsession, dying of the lover and Necromancy in the blood line. He wondered if it was all connected.

Draco remembered clearly how he was never allowed to wander off towards the Burial grounds when he was a child and how his father had moved the Quidditch pitch to the farthest point, away from the burial grounds so that he as a child would not be tempted. He wasn’t then. But he was now. Something in his instinct told him that he would only find the solution to his problems only in communion with the dead.

After a few days of careful manipulation Draco was finally able to get himself assigned for the Malfoy Estate boundary patrols at night by Avery, who was in charge of assigning patrolling duties. Luckily enough Avery thought it would be a far better punishment for being a weakling for Draco to do it alone, all night long. Draco was dying in anticipation which was mistaken for fear of course.

He wondered what he would find down in the underground resting chambers. That was if he was able to get in undetected in the first place.

After perusing around the ceremonial hall and finding nothing of consequence Draco finally found the entrance to the underground tombs of his ancestors which was through a hidden door way tucked behind the toga of the statue of Athena.  

The door had a concealing charm, making it visible to only to The Lord Malfoy or heir apparent. Determination set, he knew he had little time to explore. So throwing caution to the wind Draco descended down those steps.

More than an hour later he found himself staring at the closed iron and marble door in his wand light to what appeared to be the Tomb of Belenos Malfoy.

A touch of his bleeding finger on the Blood seal lock had clicked it open. The sconces on the wall came to life straight away as he stepped into the vaulted chamber. It was eerily clean in there just like in all other tombs lined with polished marble the tomb had lit up like a shrine. The air was still inside but not stale. The center piece of the whole display was a deep maroon marble sarcophagus. It was a strange color of marble to choose for one’s sarcophagus if you compared it to the hundred other sarcophagus Draco had seen in the hour before which were in varied shades of green, black or grey.. Draco reached it cautiously and stepped up to the altar where it rested. The sarcophagus was blank unlike all others, with only the old Malfoy crest that depicted a dragon laying in a lair made of serpents and Peacock feathers, engraved on the lid and a similar round blood seal lock that had been on the door of the tomb. A single sentence carved just underneath the Malfoy family motto in Latin:

“Solum dotata et dignus tetigero” Draco read the Latin fluently and in a voice higher than a whisper. A chill ran through Draco. His heart told him that this was it, with its violent thumping.

“Only the worthy and gifted shall touch.” He translated the sentence to calm himself down. He was about to do the unthinkable, the forbidden. He was about to exhume and defile the rest of an ancestor. But locks were placed only on the things that were meant to be opened. Touching the round blood seal, carved with runes with his still bleeding finger from when he had opened the door Draco took a deep breath. The round lock clicked and then spun on its centre as the lid of Sarcophagus started levitating towards the ceiling as if suspended on invisible strings, unveiling the cherry wood casket inside. Engraved with yet another Old malfoy crest and a round lock. With another sentence carved into the wood.

“Omnes portabitur pro amore”… “All shall be borne for love.” Draco read laying his finger on the Blood seal lock.

 It seemed oddly fitting of his situation, this sentence. It carried a gravity Draco knew too well of. The casket clicked open as the lid gently rose and then fell to the side and inside lay not a corpse but a leather bound journal, with yet another blood seal. Eyes wide, Draco reached for it with slightly shaking hands. It seemed as if he was reaching for his death and doom. He knew in his gut that he would have to give something only as monumental as, life, death or soul for what lay in the pages of this journal, for what he seeked to achieve. Draco took out the journal from the casket and hid it into a hidden pocket which he had made himself into the seam of his Death-eater robes. The journal hummed with magic. Lowering the lid of the casket softly and cleaning the blood seal of his blood with a quick ‘scourgify’ Draco stepped back as the lid of the sarcophagus started to lower itself. Feeling accomplishment and dread at the same time, Draco quietly made his way out of the Tomb.

Later in his own room as the day was dawning on the horizon, in his own time, Draco slipped the Journal out of his robe, and opened it in the deep sanctuary of his blankets and bed. Opening the Last blood seal that unraveled not a secret, but an unchangeable destiny. By the time Draco closed and locked the blood seal again a few hours later, Draco’s anxious silver eyes had turned to a dead stone grey with determination and a plan that would cost him not much, only his soul. But as Belenos had said. All shall be borne for love. Draco knew he would never hesitate and in the end, he didn’t. 

 


 

 

 

“The Pureblooded families are most integrated than they have ever been…”

‘Always been a Coward. Defended you COWARD!’

“Hermione Granger….  responsible …… Wizarding…….etiquettes classes at Hogwarts….. Muggle borns and Half-bloods ….. raised in the Muggle world.”

‘Can’t be bribed…. Still hate you…. Watching…Closely…’

“…..name …..acquitted ……. charges in the death-eater….., good form …..resume your seat on Hogwarts …… Governors.”

‘Coward! Ran away from the war... Always a coward! Hate cowards!’

“…..Minister of magic….. Designated seat on the Wizengamot…. denied …..father…… charged on a few counts.”

‘Regret the day…decided to come back’

“Draco…”

‘Malfoy!’

“Lord…”

‘Remember this!’

“Draco?”

‘Real or no MALFOY… still hate you Malfoy... Don’t trust you Malfoy… Good Day MALFOY!’

“LORD MALFOY?”

A loud voice and a sound of glass shattering brought me out of my whirlpool of misery.

“Yes Solicitor Montague?” I say looking at the man sitting just two chairs away from my chair at the head of house position. His eyes wide and a little frightened. I quickly flick my towards the table to see where the sound of breaking glass came from. Only to find the white pristine Silk table cover reddening under my right hand which still holds some lose and some embedded pieces of glass which was once my Mother’s finest crystal wine Goblet.

“Ah! I am sorry Mr. Montague” I say getting up from the table and notice Monk standing a few steps away from the table. From his wide eyes and terrified expression, I know that he has already tried to fix the broken Crystal Goblet, but he does not know that it will never be repaired, no matter how many times he tries. I curse myself at losing control like that. I know what must be done. I simply wave my hand at the table and my hand, and just like that banish all glass and spilt blood. I finally start to feel a sting in my injured hand which is now free of all embedded glass. I look up to see Montague’s blue eyes widened at my effortless but powerful magic. I smile inwardly. I have only just used my normal base magic, something that any skilled wizard would be able to do, even wandlessly like me.

But I do not need a wand anymore for casting my magic. If anything, it is a hindrance. Not to say that I still can’t use a wand. I can, but it’s like having to walk on crutches when you have fully-functional legs of a Marathon runner. But, this will not do at all. The less this world suspects me, the better. I need to be careful with these things. Mr. Montague’s eyes are looking up at me questioningly. He opens his mouth for a second as if to ask me about it and then closes. He seems a bit unsettled.

Oh, I remember now. I was labeled as an extremely weak wizard after my failure to kill Dumbledore. It was a constant source of amusement for the Death-eaters at the manor. I did nothing to refute the claim. In fact, I encouraged it. Failing to cast simplest spells. Were they less foolish than they were, they would have seen through the act. I did after all accomplish the impossible. I fixed a very mysterious magical object, the magic of which was not fully understood. So to sit here and cast wandless magic so effortlessly was bound to surprise Mr. Montague after the information of me being a weakling was so common knowledge.

Oh, he doesn’t know half of what I have running in my nerves. The black sheer liquid power in quest of which wizards have melted years and years into ashes and nothingness. I hold it in my veins. It is mine to command at the flick of an eye-lid. No, I have a façade to keep, and I will have to keep control the way I have spent Six years to learn. Order in turmoil. Smoothness in tumult. With a wave of my hand I cast a stasis on the man staring at me. Another magic that is next to impossible to cast on a conscious and aware being.

I look deep into Montague’s eyes and shuffle deep into his mind. It takes me split seconds to find the particular memory I am looking for since it was still floating on the surface but not before I realize that this Anthony Montague, sitting in front of me was the first Ravenclaw in his family in eight generations of Slytherins. Strange yet intriguing. But it is to my advantage. I put it aside to observe some other time. Back to purpose of this invasion in privacy. I dip into the memory of what happened just minutes ago.

I see me looking blankly while Montague is speaking,

He is telling me about how the Purebloods have never been more integrated in the society.

About how Hermione Granger is responsible for starting a class in Hogwarts regarding Wizarding Traditions and Etiquette compulsory for all muggleborns and Half-bloods raised in the Muggle world, just as Muggle studies is compulsory for all Purebloods and Half blood, raised in wizarding world.

About how I should resume my seat on the Hogwarts board of governors, and how I should claim my seat on the Wizengamot as Lord Malfoy.

 

I feel his worry, genuine worry as he explains things to a blank me. He feels I am not taking the death of my mother well even if he is impressed by my composure at the wake earlier in the day. He is afraid that I am about to have a mental breakdown. I won’t call it a mental breakdown, mental tantrum yes, but one look at my face from Montague’s perspective tells me why he would think I am about to meltdown. No Slytherin would ever worry this way.

 He relates my situation to his Son Nigel Montague’s, who was a year above me in Hogwarts and had a mental breakdown after his male-lover died from the Dark mark backlash a few years ago. Who still goes to St.Mungo’s once a week for a Therapy session and is now courting Daphne Greengrass. It gets more and more interesting, Or perhaps I have been isolated from people too long. But the kind of tolerance Mr. Montague shows for his son’s situation and sexuality is admirable. Which makes me feel a little if not much, guilty about what I am about to do. I am surprised I feel that much in the first place, after all I have been through, and done.

I blink my eyes once and clear the memory of what happened with the wine glass and my banishing of the mishap, but I keep the worry and the relation of my situation to his son’s. I need him to be sympathetic and supportive of me and since I know now that he is not a Slytherin. I know his support would lead to trust, and Trust would lead to deep-rooted loyalty, and I know what loyalty is capable of doing, even if the only one I am loyal to doesn’t know about it.

I sit back down and gesture Monk to bring me another goblet, which he does immediately, before I break my solicitor out of the stasis I put him under as I tempered his memory. I have always been proud of my mind magic.  I notice for the first time that we were half way through dessert, which if memory serves me correct is called an Almond soufflé. I smile sadly at my dessert, trying to remember the last time I had dessert; I had always had such an extreme sweet-tooth as a child. Now there is no pleasure in sweetness. Not for cowards. I shake my head at the thought, strictly forbidding my mind to go there. I speak as if the meal was un-interrupted.

“I will consider the position at the Hogwarts board of Governors seriously, but I am not so sure about the Wizengamot. I need to reconcile with the Ministry first, like we will be doing tomorrow.”

He looks at me blankly for a moment before he blinks his eyes once, I can literally see everything coming to place in his mind on his face.

“Yes of course Lord Malfoy…” he pauses for a moment. “ You do realize that they will be interrogating you under Veritaserum tomorrow?”

I smile at him coldly with as much determination that a young Lord would show on his face, all strung out with, youth, confusion, frustration and loss.

“I am the son of Lucius Malfoy, and the way I observed earlier today, nothing at the ministry has changed much. I do intend to offer galleons after I am fully informed of the position of the Vaults, but I would still like to make an impression of utmost cooperation by consenting to Veritaserum fully, no strings attached. I do not have anything to hide after all.”

“Of course, I never meant to imply as such.” He inclines his head demurely.

“Of course… Now if you would excuse me, I have had a very long and trying day, I must retire now. I need to review the manor vaults tomorrow morning before I meet the Goblins at Gringotts.” I say dismissively. He nods solemnly. He understands the power dynamic. I am glad that he is so perceptive.

“Yes Lord Malfoy, the sooner the financial information is compiled, the better. If you want, I can send a finance arguer from my office tomorrow to assist you with all matters of Gringotts?”

“That would be perfect Mr. Montague and please call me Draco.”

After a smile and hand shake I remove myself from the dining hall swiftly and stride towards the room. There are things I need to do.

 


 

“Monk..” with a pop, the house-elf appears at my side as I strip down my robes a few minutes later.

“Master?” he says with a squeak.

“Has Mr. Montague left?”

“Yes Master.”

“I want you to remove all mirrors from the manor and place them all in the dungeon practice room, now.”

“also the one melded into the roof of the west-wing ballroom master?” I had forgotten about that monstrosity.

“No, leave that one, any mirror that is detachable from its place must be removed and placed in the practice room. Go.” I dismissed the elf.

I turn around towards the ornate dresser to see it’s oval shaped mirror already gone.

I think I need to reacquaint myself again with the tact of how to order house-elves. Since I have only them to keep me company and serve me here. Being where I have been, I feel for the first time, how acutely wasteful living in this manor could be. The past eight years have removed all embellishments I may have had on me. Now all that remains is my skin, which hides underneath it, secrets and tragedies and sins one would never want to uncover.

As I dress in black silk pajama bottoms that belonged to the Seventeen year old me, I cannot help but feel nostalgic. So, naïve, so pure I was, with nothing but a yearning deep down, a clear image of what needed to be done and a silly amount of ever-fluctuating self confidence.

It was all so clear, so defined until the moment I broke through Severus’ mind that fateful evening at spinner’s end, and I found out what I actually was destined to be. Master of death, A necromancer.

A pop pulls me out of my thoughts. My house-elf informs me that the task I set him is done and now all the mirrors present in the Manor have been taken to the Practice room.

Practice room, which was christened as such by my insane aunt Bellatrix, It is nothing but open space in the bowels of the manor, running under the most of Eastern wing. It was where she practiced her torture, and killing skills on mud-bloods and blood traitors and mind fucking skills on me. In my knowledge it is the place that still holds most malice, death and darkness. So it’s the perfect setting for what I need to do.

“Come along Monk.” I say as I step out of the room, bare feet, clad only in my Pajama bottoms. The coolness of the air caresses my skin lovingly. Yes, it is what is familiar; it is what I remember, and what keeps me in place. The hard and cold marble floor of the manor is pleasant to my equally cold feet. I hear rather than see a few portraits gasping as I walk down the corridors, making my way to the staircase that leads down to the dungeons. It is not every night you see a young Lord Malfoy bare-chested, hair lose and bare feet walk through these corridors that had always held civil class, and steely pretentiousness. I am sure I am being labeled as nothing less than a heathen.

 I let my magic lose in just my hands. A black flame that plays leisurely around my stark pale fingers, a flame made of tar and the most dangerous and scaring blackness a human mind could ever fathom. I hear Monk behind me whimper. He is an elf, and his people once belonged to another dimension. So he can recognize inter-dimensional magic when he sees it, I wonder if he can figure out how these hands that play and stroke this black fire like a pet must have once dripped blood, wild, warm, sticky blood. Blood from a heartless kill. A heartless soul-ripping kill. I wonder if he can recognize the hell this magic comes from.

And that was just the first and very basic step into becoming what I am now.

I reach the mahogany double-doors behind which I know lies the staircase descending into the dungeons. The door is netted in wards and spells. I remember how notoriously difficult it was to break into the dungeons. A flick of my wrist and doors bang with enough force that the whole manor feels the rattle. I reach out with my mind to the wards outside the Manor ground. Fortifying them even further before I turn towards my cowering house-elf.

“Once I go down, you will seal all exits and entrances to the basement. Do not enter, and I cannot stress it more, until I specifically call for you. Is that understood?”

“Yes Master.”

I turn away from the shaking elf who is still staring wide-eyed at the magic that is still playing around my hands. Descending down the sharp and steep stone steps I can smell the moist and musty resentment pouring from the walls. Who knows how many innocents had found themselves descending down these stairs never to come back up alive. A familiar feeling of foreboding fills me, like it did whenever I descended down to the depths of manor seven years ago, I am surprised by it. I did not know I still had it in me, apparently I do.

The amount of mirrors that have been gathered is huge. I gape at the pile. Oval, circular, rectangular, huge, big, small, with handles, with frames, with stands. I am reflected in almost all of them.  I roll my eyes at the vanity  that is so characteristic of us Malfoys. I remember standing and perfecting and then admiring myself needlessly. I was such a vain little boy.

The magic is now purring around my fingers, like a feline. I am not fooled by her for a second.

Not anymore.

She, this magic, or demon, is the product of what I had to do the evening of the final battle. Deep in the dark forest. A dark mistress she was in the beginning. I do not know any other way of describing her for that is what she was, all pain and control and desire and hurt, in the beginning I was only a host, a slave to the darkness that replaced the piece I had to tear from my soul. I could not face the world that knew me and fight the demon that was living inside me. So I had to go away. Run, as far and fast as I could.

And just today Potter called me a ‘coward’. I have been a coward, but not in the way he thinks.

You see, cowards are the most stubborn people you will ever come across. Also the most selfish ones. They hang on to their idea of comfort and ease, the hardest. So hard they hold on to it that they do everything honorable or dishonorable to hold on to it. They desert; abandon, and they don’t even listen to their own conscience. That’s how stubborn and selfish cowards are.

I am a coward enough to,

Spy on the one I had taken mark of and owed fealty to.

Steal from my own home.

Manipulate those who desired me.

Abandon those who cared for me.

Abuse the gift that nature had given me.

Defile the thing most sacred to everything good in the world.

Decimate any chance for redemption.

Trade with the devil.

Double-cross those who never harmed me.

Lure under false pretenses.

Murder in cold blood.  

All for what was my idea of comfort and ease.

Idea that was “An alive Harry Potter.”

Because I never was and never would be brave enough to hear the news of Harry Potter’s death.

So yes I am a coward.

And I am selfish enough to come back and hear it from the mouth of the one I did it all for, one more time, after which I will still come back for more and more and more. Did I not say, we cowards are the most stubborn and selfish people you would come across.

She, my magic knows I have come down to appease her. She has been good today and deserves the reward. I flick a wrist, increasing the area for the magic to play upon. She whimpers gratefully. As if telling me how merciful and wonderful a master I am. But I know her, She is treacherous, and manipulative, and volatile.

I randomly select a tall full-view rectangular mirror, more than seven feet tall and four feet wide. It stands on an elaborately carved wooden stand. I levitate it to the center of the practice room. Turning back from it and towards the rest of the Mirrors I command my magic in a low voice as I swish my hand through the air. Also picturing in my mind the Mirror on the roof of the West-wing Ballroom.

Caecus speculis.

(blind the mirrors)

Immediately all mirrors turn blank as if they are nothing but blank spaces melded in frames. Looking keenly and making sure that none is left reflecting, I turn back towards the one mirror that stands reflecting. I look at my image staring back at me. The dim light from the sconces in the room playing eerie patters on my bare-chest. I have not visited the world behind the mirror for a long time, but now that  my circumstances have changed so drastically, in favor of the prophecy I am to fulfill, I wish to make peace with all my magics. This one being the first to start making the change. I smile looking at myself. There was a Draco Malfoy, who once thought he was a Necromancer. The one who had borne it all for love. But this is not that Malfoy

Necromancer. What a joke!

No, this Draco Malfoy is so much more and now here to become what he was always meant to be, which is even more than most anyone could be. But the price remains the same.

I place my commanding hand on the surface of the mirror.

“Open!” I command it, unleashing all of my magic.

The surface vibrates under my hand for a split second, it’s fix nature of solidity shivering underneath my will for a blink before it gives way and the ripples go across its surface as it becomes air, a door way a window to another dimension. Showing the landscape of the place I want to go to if only I would step through.

I do.

I step into the underworld. It is as it always is in my mind. A dark midnight blue sky with mirror images of the constellations, a moon waxing half way through, as it is waning in the living world. The dark cool air surrounds me. The ash barren land rustles and changes patterns continously. Ash dunes, and remains of the ages bygone breathe and change landscape every passing minute. It’s desolate and lonely, and as big as the universe itself. You see for all creatures that are born, some die  in world of the living, but in the world of the dead, all co-exist at the same time. The cool blue light of the moon shivers.

My magic sighs.

Ecfundo”(let go)

I command it, and she pours out of my hands in form of a black smoke, spilling like a liquid the next moment in the sand color of ashes underneath my feet. It is a process that never fails to interest me. She knows it, so she shows off. Slowly pouring out of my fingers the pool of liquid black growing in size, before she emerges out of it slowly and leisurely in the form I enjoy the most. A female panther. I named her Tenebra in this form. She rubs against my legs like  any pet cat would. Her huge ember eyes glinting up at me in a pleadingly. I absently run my fingers through the fur at her neck. It is the most I will do and she knows it. There was a time I would pet her for hours just to please her. A change of direction in the air tells me that I have company. I turn around slightly, to look at the two approaching figures far down the slope of this sand hill the color of ashes.

“Chezaree…Chezarak…” I nod curtly at the two keepers of the underworld who appear in front of me in the form of an old woman and man. Their haggard  clothes all dusty and torn. Wooden branches in hand for the staffs. I raise a brow at the obvious get up.

“Were I human, I would have suggested that my eyes were lying to me, and that you are nothing but a mere illusion Domnus (Master)…” says the old woman her eyes twinkling with mischief as always.

“I am in no mood for your flattery or mischief Chezaree... I came only to let Tenebra free for a while. I need to pass some tests in my own world, for which she would only be a distraction.” I say dismissively.

“But of course Domnus! We would do anything that is your wish, Tenebra will be well cared for. Should we imagine that these tests are related to the prophecy?”asks Chezarak, the always curious, always groveling.

“That is only my business isn’t it, you must remember your place keeper.” I snap at him. It is what is expected of me now. I am an uncaring, unrelenting and unforgiving master. Which is the only kind of master that can harness this chaos called underworld and its keepers. I learnt that lesson the hard way once upon a time.

“Apologies Master Draco.” The man bows unnaturally low. I snort at the display before I turn back with the purpose of leaving. The Rectangular opening appears in the thin air, behind it I can see the flickering lights of the dim practice room. Tenebra whines somewhere behind me as I step into the opening and out into the miserable room. Now, I am all ready to face the world with all its tests and intrusions.

 


 

 

My assessment the night past is pretty much accurate. It is still the same ministry as it was before the second rising of Voldemort. Stale bureaucracy, putrid organizational structure, discriminating laws and even more biased law keepers. I wonder why people like the righteous Saint Potter and his know-it-all-save-it-all side kick Hermione Granger or Weasley, who are under employment of the ministry did nothing to change things? Too wrapped in telling off and keeping an eye on old school enemies to do some real work?

I contemplate future participation in politics. Even if after seven years of staying out of touch from the Ministry of Magic, I can clearly see the ways to manipulate and take advantage in the half hour I have spent sitting here outside the Minister’s office perhaps I am just naturally that good with politics or maybe ministry itself is just an open playground for manipulators.

Kingsley Shacklebolt as it turns out is not an easily lead man as he would let you believe at first go.

“Mr. Malfoy, I hope you understand the necessity of this… this is procedure. I know you were exonerated of all charges the credit to which goes to Auror Potter, but still since you have returned, a lot of variables come into play. Not to include the biggest question of them all. How you survived the Dark Mark when not even the most powerful death eaters could?”

“Perhaps, that was it, because I am not much powerful Minister Shacklebolt but that’s besides the point, I am here to reassure and legitimize my exoneration by saint Potter, and you are here to do your job. All causes as noble as they can get.”

“Ah, the old school rivalry persists I see.” He looks extremely amused. My slip was deliberate. I am no fool, I know how wary Kingsley must be of Harry Potter and his influence on the wizarding world. If I play my cards right I would have a place tailor made for me in no time.

“Excuse me?” I fake confusion.

“You just called him ‘Saint Potter’…” the minister turns to look at his assistant smiling covertly and signaling him in a way I can’t decipher.

“I did, didn’t I?” I say grimacing a little. “Well, it can’t be helped, no matter how righteous he gets and how civilized I get, we have never liked each other, and he assured me personally at my mother’s funeral  that it was not going to change. I would like to say that I would have liked to turn a new leaf but it is redundant. As far as rivalry goes, I don’t consider it that anymore, because I am not a school boy anymore, where as I am sure same can’t be said about Auror Potter.” They say cheekiness on the right face can work wonders.

They are right. I still go through the Veritaserum interrogation, but I see a curious glint in the Minister’s eyes. That is all that matters to me at this point. I need to get out of this interrogation on the right foot. Especially when I will be speaking nothing but lies mostly making them sound like the vehement truth. Veritaserum stopped working on me after I first contacted the underworld at the age of seventeen.

You see, a necromancer’s in-built magic makes it impossible for any spell, hex, enchantment, potion or illusion to control the mind and senses, because that is what spirits and demons of the dead world affect first of all, through the mind. So spells like Crucio, imperio and potions like Veritaserum do not penetrate my mind anymore hence do not affect me. I was born invulnerable; I just had not known it. 

“Are you Draco Abraxus Malfoy” We have moved to an adjoined room in Minister’s office quarters. A quill high in the air has started to scribble away at a piece of parchment.

“Yes I am Draco ORION Abraxus Malfoy.” I answer looking deep into the blue eyes of Ronald Weasley.

“Have you Draco Orion Abraxus Malfoy willingly agreed to this questioning under Veritaserum to reassure your exoneration?

“I have.” I  say easily.

“If you have any requests or queries regarding this interrogation please state them now.” He pauses looking at me expectantly.

The request I am about to make will have enough loopholes for allowing Weasley to tell this story back to as many red-heads, bushy heads and a certain raven head  as he likes. Which is the point of this whole charade. Sympathy gaining between Potter’s own friends. Weasley is confident and proud enough to trust explicitly that I am telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth under the Veritaserum, he administered and to doubt my statement at this point would be to doubt his ability as an auror and to doubt his whole department. So, by this time in a next few days he would be defending me in front of Potter, convincing his friends and family of my poor fate. On the other hand Potter is paranoid enough to think I can be lying under Veritaserum. Which I am. But it is impossible for most people to do and Potter has no reason to believe I am not one of those Most people, but he will nonetheless investigate which will obviously make him seek me out more and corner me more, and that will satisfy me a lot. A very much lot! As I have all intentions on invading his territory whenever possible. Starting with my desolate and lonely aunt and her little grandson of course. He wants to keep an eye on me and his wish is my command. I will make it so that he would wish to take his eye off me and won’t be able to.

“Just a request. Whatever information I reveal here, shall not be made public knowledge but should only be revealed in relation to my exoneration, restoration of respect, or as evidence to my innocence now and in future.”

“Agreed.” Says minister’s deep voice. I eye the quill that is writing the words of my request and the answer of the minister, furiously on the parchment in red ink.

“He is all yours minister.”

Weasley says respectfully as he takes a chair by the side of the Minister. I was told earlier in the day that Potter is on leave for a week or two. I try to decipher the look on Weasley’s face, he looks expectant and interested though he sneers a little when he sees that I am looking at him. Ah yes. There is the expression I was looking for. The world doesn’t turn right when the Malfoys and the Weasleys are being amiable to each other.

“Draco Malfoy, when and how were recruited as a death eater by Tom Riddle?” Minister’s deep voice is all commanding and indifferent. Right now I am a suspect and he is my interrogator.

I was recruited as a death eater by force during the summer between my fifth and sixth year at Hogwarts, in July of 1996.” I state the first truth.

“Force? Mr. Malfoy, please elaborate on how you were forced to take the Dark Mark.”

“Due to my Father’s failure at the mission that Voldemort had assigned him regarding the prophecies in the Department of Mysteries. Voldemort forced my parents to forfeit me in his service so that I could carry an important task for him at Hogwarts the failure at accomplishing which would result in death of my Mother.” I remember those dreadful days.

“What was this important task Mr. Malfoy?”

“Kill Albus Dumbledore.”

“And did you succeed in your Task?”

“I did not.”

“What caused your failure Mr. Malfoy? Was it intervention of Severus Snape?”

“No, I had already lowered my wand, I could not do it, I could not take a life like that, I knew my mother’s life hung in balance, but I could still not do it. Severus Snape only intervened when it was clear that I would not be able to accomplish the job, since he had taken an unbreakable vow to do so.”

“But still the Dark lord killed neither you nor your mother after your failure… What happened after Draco?”

“The Dark Lord punished me for days. But he needed an active Lord Malfoy or a legitimate heir to the estate to supply him with enough money to sponsor his war. Not only that, but Severus Snape who was in a very exalted position at that time was able to ask my life to be spared as a reward. I was his Godson after all. Moreover, since my father was in Azkaban and I was still a minor, I could only withdraw funds with help of my mother acting as regent. So he needed the both of us to live, whilst he made our home his Head quarters as the blood wards would only hold up in presence of the both the regent and heir of the estate. There was no escape for us, so I had to try and redeem my position to get some relief.”

But that is not what I did. 

“So you participated in Death eater raids?”

“Yes, some of them, mostly I was assigned security Patrols or message delivering because I was considered a weakling and had not matured yet.”

Which was a lie of course. I just made it look that way, saved me a lot of trouble.

“What did you do in raids you did participate in?”

“I usually rounded up people who needed to be rounded up or served as a look out. I was not capable of casting two of the three unforgivables because of which I was not much useful with the torturing and killing part.”

I could kill and torture just fine, I just refused to do it. My weakling image worked with that and when the time came I did strike.

“All right, so let us rush forward and come to the evening of the final Battle. We do know what happened in the room of requirement and how Harry Potter saved your life, what we need to know is what happened after that.”

“I was scared and I did not want to fight any more. I had come too close to death and did not want to face it anymore. I knew my father won’t leave Voldemort’s side but I knew my mother would come with me if we could escape. I made me way out of the castle and cut into the forbidden forest from the Pumpkin patch behind Hagrid’s hut. I was almost outside the wards when the second wave of attack happened and the wards started to fade away in patches. I could not have gone a hundred feet into the forest when I was mauled by Fenrir Greyback, who treated me with the torture curse before he stunned me.”

I was as far from scared as I had ever been. I had just held Potter in my arms a few minutes ago, alive, had just realized how precious the warmth of that body and the thud of that fierce heartbeat was. I was filled with determination and fierce bravery. The line was drawn so clear for me. I had made all the preparations deep in the forest two nights before, and now I only needed to find where my prey was and entice him to step into my trap. I had walked out of the castle, undetected, making my mother’s wand lead me to Fenrir Greyback, someone I felt nothing but pure unadulterated malice for, which was necessary for what I intended to do. I found my way out of the wards with ease as they were weakening under the assault from Voldemort, and I knew that my prey would come to me and he did. It was as if he had been looking for me all along. He had taken a good bite out of me before I was able to stun him, still nothing was going to stop me. Not when I was so close. I had a few hours at most.

“Fenrir Greyback? Why would Fenrir Greyback attack you? Did you have some kind of enmity with him?”

The Minister asked commandingly. I shook my head as if in despair. There are things about the events which followed this point in my story which sometimes when I am too lost and confused I do despair about, but then I am grounded again when I think back to the reasons I had to do it for.

 

“Only the kind of enmity a wolf has with his prey, Fenrir Greyback had never made a secret of how he wanted to make me a pet and prey of his. He desired my flesh I understand. Something to do with Were-wolf instinct. He tried to barter me with Voldemort for services rendered and fealty of Three were-wolf packs under his dominion, which Severus Snape prevented. He tried to attack me once before but I escaped luckily. This time I was not so lucky.”

It was true, Fenrir had tried to rape me twice during the time the Manor had been Death Eater’s head quarter. Both times he failed, but he had vowed and threatened revenge enough times to have legitimate witnesses, which I am sure would have been explored enough once I had gone missing. Thus started my hatred of Fenrir Greyback. He had tried to overpower and defile me one too many times and I hate none like I hated Fenrir Greyback.

 

“What happened next?” asks the minister a little too eager now.

“When I was woken, I was laying naked on what seemed a wooden Pyre tied with invisible rope, in the middle of some kind of ritual, it was very late in the evening or perhaps it was just that we were so deep in the forest that I could not tell what time it was. He had cut me in several places and he kept circling the pyre and chanting in grunts, I do not remember much through the pain, only that suddenly there was an explosion just as he had lit the pyre underneath me and he was suddenly hit with an invisible force through which I had somehow come free from my invisible bind I had hardly gotten up through pain and heat to save myself from burning when I felt a burning sensation in my left arm and I went unconscious again. My only thought being escape.”

I had dragged Fenrir deep into the forest before I apparated him even deeper where the ritual was to take place.

You see, I had found in the journal of Belenos Malfoy the ritual of Punar. An ancient Semitic ritual that could only be invoked by a real necromancer, which could assure a chance of return from death of a single soul. It required a high price though. A piece from the soul of the caster, as that would only balance the scales between the living world and the world of the dead. I was driven to the point of no return. With Potter’s death looming over my head, I had no choice and I had the inspiration right in front of me. fates were on my side. It would have taken me months if not years to find a way to split away a piece of my soul to give to the keepers of underworld to give Potter a pass back to life, but I had Voldemort living in my house and the knowledge of his Horcruxes and how they were made embedded in my brain. It took me minutes to make a connection. It needed to be done.

So after months of preparation, I had my Ritual prepared deep in the forest in a place which I had only sensed because of my training with my new abilities regarding necromancy, that particular spot had once been a centaur Burial ground but was now abandoned. Burial grounds of magical beings are usually made in places where the wall between the two worlds is thin. My spells were cast, my request perfected in words so they could not be tricked in any way for I had been made aware through research that death was treacherous in its ways and so were the keepers. With all the preparation done, I knew the time was running short. I needed to murder someone in cold blood, which would tear a piece of my soul and then open the portal and bargain with the keepers of the underworld.

Once Greyback was in place, I had enervated him. His animalistic fury had only been fuel to my hatred, which was necessary. I had completed the enchantment that would allow me to preserve the piece of soul that would tear apart when I murdered the animal in cold blood. I removed my clothes until I was clad in only my uniform trousers. Climbing atop to straddle him I settled carefully on his waist in order to look into his eyes as I took his life. His warm body underneath mine threatened me to feel pity for a split second as it reminded me of the warmth of Potter’s body, which reminded me of Potter’s life that was in irrevocable danger lest I succeed. That flash of thought was enough for me to remember my purpose. I looked down into the eyes of my tormentor, who would have liked nothing but to strip me off my dignity and fuck me till I bled to death, he would have done so too, he had done that to little Adrian Flint, a boy of fourteen. The image of the boy’s mangled body was carved in my mind until the poison of the memory of that image filled the blood in my veins and I brought down the Knife I held just in the center of his hairy chest with as much force as I could. The scream was pure agony as hot blood gushed out everywhere. I imagined how little Adrian must have screamed and I could not help but retrieve the knife and brought it down again just in the dip of throat between spray of gushing blood that soaked my trousers. The satisfaction was immediate as the gurgling sound rose from his throat. I twisted the knife clockwise as a fountain of blood escaped the wound and then anticlockwise. I felt so much power as the helplessness of that hateful creature that has taken the innocence of who knows how many.

And then it happened. I had not expected to see it happen literally, but I had underestimated the development of my own power. I saw a dark grey smoke escape the nostrils of the monster as he exhaled his last breath his reddish golden eyes went a dead muddy brown and the Were-wolf magic receded with his death, I saw it all fascinated as the cloud of grey smoke drifted towards me slowly before I realized that this was Greyback’s soul. Its murky color showed the depth of the decay and then I felt as if something cold was lancing through my chest, looking down I saw my chest glow red for a second as my breath hitched as something squeezed my lungs. I couldn’t help but retch a deep breath which when escaped my mouth was accompanied by a small pearl of silver light. I felt like something was tearing me apart. Like I was torn apart all of sudden, as if it was not Greyback that was mangled underneath me, but myself. I needed to absorb this little bead of soul back, it was mine, I needed it, it was what carried the taste in food and comfort in rest and happiness and life. And it was being taken. How would I live without rest? How would I live without taste? And happiness? And life? No! I would take it back!

‘But, is it worth more than Potter’s life?’ Asked a voice within me. If Potter was gone never to return what would I do then? What would become of me then? A soul once torn apart could never be whole again Belenos had written in his journal. I had a purpose still, which had nothing to do with comfort and taste, I could survive without those, but how would I live without my purpose. Potter was the purpose, he had always been. Just like that my state of indecision had receded. Now, I only needed to give the piece to the keepers of the underworld, in return of which they would help Potter find his way back from the threshold of underworld to come alive again untouched and kill Voldemort once and for all. In the end I had succeeded. With a heavy price, but still, succeeded, and rest is as they say, history. Which was still in writing. No matter how falsely.      

 

“So you Apparated?” asks the Minister. Impatient now.

“I do not know, I did not have my wand then, I was already using my mother’s then and that had not been on me obviously when I had come back to myself lying naked atop that pyre. I just remember waking up in a strange place which turned out to be a Muggle Hospital in Berlin.”

I had ended up in Berlin, because as I was in the process of Apparating, I was hit with a magical backlash through the Dark mark which came from what I am presuming was Voldemort’s death. I was splinched badly and found in front of a muggle grocery store. Bleeding profusely and unconscious. I would have died if it was not so close to a muggle hospital.

“Why did you not come back? You must have heard about the end of Voldemort?”

No I did not hear it for next four months as I lay in a coma in a Muggle Hospital who could find nothing wrong with me apart from Blood loss and body trauma and when I did come to myself, it took me almost a year and a half to recover my magic.  I was glad that the Muggle welfare system of Germany was efficient and adjusting enough that I had no problems with food or shelter.

“Simply because I did not know I should. You see, I woke up with not an inkling regarding who I was or where I was and who awaited me. It was not until a year later of living in Muggle Berlin that I found out that I was a wizard, that too because while I was delivering newspapers one morning I had levitated one accidentally when it was about to land in a water puddle. That first snap of magic was what started to o make me remember things, but it was not until five more years that I actually figured out who I was really, when an old business associate of my Father’s mentioned how I resembled the late Lord Malfoy of Wiltshire. It took me another year remembering, because of which I was in ‘Shida Miryo’ in the first place, the mind healers there are the best in the world and because I had no money, I had to offer services in payment. I was just released of it a month ago and by the time I came back I found out my mother had died just Six days ago.”

“That is tragic indeed Mr. Malfoy. I really am sincerely sorry for your loss and grief, but I am hoping you would forgive my insensitivity at this point, as I have to assure all and myself. You will have to answer the next questions…” The minister paused for a minute.

“Do you Draco Malfoy, intend to use Dark Magic now or in future in any shape and form?”

“I do not Minister Shacklebolt.”

“Do you Draco Malfoy renounce all of the doctrines that Tom riddle and his associates tried to establish seven years ago?”

“Yes I renounce all and every doctrine that Voldemort and his associates tried to establish.”

“Do you swear to not pursue any kind or form of magic that the ministry of magic has deemed illegal and punishable?”

“I swear that I will not pursue any kind or form of magic or alchemical concoction that the ministry of magic has deemed illegal.”

I cannot help but add things I know they have missed out. I want them to feel that even if they did leave loopholes I saw them and covered them as a good citizen that I was. Of course, doing that would lead them away from the real loophole that I am really going to use even if I am not bound at all to any oath or promise they make me take which is the fact that Ministry does not know anything about the Magic I intend to pursue relentlessly to deem it illegal or punishable.

Beware of the treachery of a Slytherin!

An hour later after discussing, ‘other business’ before which Weasley had left, now that the Minister seems confident of my innocence and exoneration and has assured me that my legal status as an alive and clean Lord Draco Malfoy will be restored within a week I am about to take my leave when the Minister waves a piece of paper at me.

“What is this all about Mr. Malfoy? An application form to patent an invention with the Department of Mysteries?”

“Yes Minister, I have become sort of an immature inventor in last two to three years since I had no idea who I was and all that. This was more of a side project and now that it’s complete I think it can do a lot of good for the wizarding world.”

“Pray tell Mr. Malfoy, what is this Mysterious Invention that will be so good for the wizarding world?”

I had been hoping for that. I fished into the inner pocket of my dark peacock blue robes which once belonged to my father and pulled out an intricately carved  silver hand mirror size of my palm. I slowly slid it in front of the minister.

“What is this?” asks the minister curiously eyeing the hand mirror but avoiding from touching it.

“This is what I fondly have named a ‘memomirror’.”

“A Memomirror?” repeats the minister.

“yes, a memomirror, as you can tell, it made through the wards of the ministry undetected, which is because the magic involved is absolutely without a question benign.”

“I see, and what does this memomirror do?” he asks taking out his wand and casting a simple revealing spell.

“What else? It memorizes everything that is reflected in it and it can all be viewed again at any time from any point, you just have to know the incantation to activate, deactivate and retrieve memory. I am still working on it though. Since its only yet able to respond and be commanded by a single person and the sound of the memories sometimes in retrieval can be lost if the memory exceeds more than twelve hours.” I say carelessly looking down at my invention knowing full well that the minister is gaping at my face like an idiot. I decide, he is an idiot.

“By the grace of Merlin boy! Do you even realize what you are saying? Do you even realize that if it does what you say it does this could bring about a revolution in law enforcement and security?”

“Yes I do know that Minister. Which is why I have brought it to the Ministry’s attention. You can benefit a lot from this in right hands and places, but in the wrong hands and place it can do a lot of damage. Which is why, I want to keep the incantation and the production method of this if it is approved and patented in my name to be a top secret only to be shared with an unspeakable of my choosing to test it for all purposes that would assure you that it’s not a dark object by any means.”

The minister just stares at me for a while. i am tempted to peek into his mind, that is before he tries to peek into mine. Ah! The arrogance of men in power knows no bounds. I blink at him, shielding myself only flimsily I know he wants to look in so I look away before he does himself some real damage which is possible.

“I do not know about now minister, but a few years ago, when law was beheld in this country, legilimency without the permission of the one being legilimized was a crime.” 

“I apologize Lord Malfoy.” He nods at me curtly. “And I will sure be taking a keen interest in the testing and progress of this invention of yours, but as is procedure, this might take a week or two and if it’s not much to ask perhaps I could keep this for a while?” I know what he means and wants.

“consider this small prototype a gift Minister, but I must tell you that regarding its size this would not memorize reflection more than six hours  just touch the head of the carved dragon with your wand and say the password for Activation, which is ‘scissors’ and for deactivation is ‘needle’ and for memory retrieval use ‘thimble’….” The minister looks amused again.

“Strange choice of passwords Mr. Malfoy.” He says.

“I just wanted it to be something not very obvious and that was what popped into my mind.” I answer looking abashed.

“They work. Thank you for this memomirror.”

“you are welcome Minister. Now if you would excuse me, I have yet another Gringott’s appointment before supper.” I say getting up from my seat.

 

A few minutes later as I walk out of the Elevator and into the ministry’s atrium with the god awful merlin statue, I find myself wondering where I would like to place one of my Memomirrors to utmost advantage. I would not be a Slytherin if I did not think about that. After a few obvious and vulgar options my brain finally provides me with a valid one.

I grin to myself. Deciding that by the end of the week, I must pay my Aunt Andromeda and little Teddy a visit.

For now, I must deal with the Goblins who are having a hard enough time welcoming back the owner of the biggest vault at Gringotts. 


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 7 : Becoming a Malfoy.

 

Qasd-e jafâ'hâ nakunî!var be-kuni bâ del-e man

 

Vâ del-e man! vâ del-e man! vâ del-e man! vâ del-e man!

 

([I hope] you do not intend to be unkind to my heart, for if you do

 

Woe unto my heart! woe unto my heart! woe unto my heart! woe unto my heart!) (Rumi)

 

 

"Harry?" the low and small voice of Hermione's called him out of his terrible thoughts and he noticed for the first time, how actually cold he was. A warm robe was placed upon his shoulders for which he was silently thankful. He did not look up from his huddled position though.

 

"What are you thinking about?" Hermione asked.

 

"I don't know Hermione. I don't know what I should be thinking about. Should I be thinking about Remus? Tonks? Snape? Dumbledore? Should I be thinking about Fred? What do you think about? What do you do with all that needs to be thought about but you are just too exhausted to do it? What do you think about once the dust is settled and the war that had dominated most of your life is over? It's like this hollow space has made home inside my chest since I have come back. It's like an invisible string attached to me that is tangling me and tying me down invisibly with every breath I take. It hurts Hermione, and I know I have lost so much, but what hurts most is something unknown that I have lost but have no idea what it was? How do you deal with that? How do you cope?" he asks pleadingly.

 

"Harry, there is only one way to deal or cope with the aftermath of the war, it is to start a new one and make sure you do all the things necessary to prevent all the things that led to the last war."

 

Harry looked up at his best friends with skeptical eyes.

 

"I have had enough of fighting, Hermione. I don't think I have it in me anymore. But the fact of the matter is, this peace, is too scary for me as well. It has no purpose, it has no meaning, and too many people have spent their lives on me for it to not have a meaning. It has got to make a difference Hermione, But I don't think war is the right way."

 

"War is the only way my friend. This war that we will be fighting now is going to be the real war Harry and it's inevitable. It will come knocking on your door first and foremost. This would be a war against the prejudices and ignorance that led to the previous war. Because Harry, the war that just passed was not a war against people or a mad man, it was a war against an ideology. That ideology is the real enemy we need to disarm. We need to bridge the gaps in the wizarding society. We can't deny the importance and presence of Pure-bloods just as we can't outcast the Muggle-borns and Half-bloods. We need to take measures. The ministry is vulnerable right now. They need funds, funds that Pure-bloods have, and Harry, trust me, there is not just two classes in the wizarding world. There is not just the good people and the death eaters. The majority of the pure-blood families sat out the war. And now when the ministry is still too low in man power to enforce any laws and in dire need of funds, they are going to pitch in their galleons and influence too much. So we need to come up with a counter strategy. We need establish influence Harry, the influence only you have the ability to yield rightly, because you are the only person I know that power failed to corrupt even when you were a mere eleven-year old. That is where your true ability lies Harry, it has never been skill or recklessness, it has always been your incorruptibility. And that will be the winning card in the real war. The one that we will fight in ministry corridors and overtly pretentious parlors of sad old ladies with too many Galleons and not enough occupation to keep them from being just too meddlesome."

 

"You want me to become a politician?" Harry asks his best friend, the bewildered expression on his face was an indicator of how deeply Hermione's pitch had just disturbed him.

 

"No, I don't want you to become a politician Harry, I just want you to become Harry Potter, Auror Potter, who yields enough power and influence to leave no spot for anyone else. Its time you stop being the Boy-who-lived-without-doing-anything, and start being the Man-who-won-the-war-and-saved-all-our-arses."

 

"I had a lot of help doing that you know." Harry nudged his petit bushy-haired friend playfully as he tried to step out of the gloom for the first time that day.

 

"Yes Harry, and you still will. I will stand by you until the end of time, you know that. Have I ever lead you astray?"

 

"I hear what you are saying Hermione and I will do it, you know I will, but, I just need some time to get my act together."

 

"You do Harry, You need to make peace with yourself. You need to come to terms with life. You need to make your own home and you need to take care of Teddy." Hermione said solemnly.

 

A few months later Hermione came bursting into the room he and Ron shared at the Burrow, they were back at the burrow for the first weekend break from their Auror training. Tired and knackered beyond belief, both boys were lounging about discussing their favorite and safest topic. Quidditch. Especially since they were not recovered enough to go out and play.

 

"Merlin Mione! What is it?" Ron scowled at his Girlfriend.

 

"I can't believe this. This is ridiculously brilliant! Why did I not see it before?" She said as she paced down the small room at the foot of their beds.

 

"Hermione! Calm down! What are you talking about? What is going on?" Harry lounged back against the headboard of his bed again. knowing that Hermione was about to go into a tirade or gushing about one thing or the other.

 

"What is going on? What is going on is that the ministry has decided to re-establish the old Houses Harry! For the sake of funding of course…" She'd started passionately enough, but had fizzled back into intense contemplation again by the end of the sentence. Which always annoyed Harry.

 

"What in the world does Re-establishing the old houses mean?" Asked Ron. Looking just as annoyed as Harry.

 

"It means dividing all positions of influence and administration at the ministry not by the ability to work in that position but by fixing a quota according to blood status. Only within that certain quota could evaluation take place."

 

Ron and Harry exchanged a look wondering if Hermione had finally lost it. How could she be happy about something like that? Hermione was a stern believer in all things fair, equal and true ability.

 

"I don't see how that is a good thing Hermione…did we not fight the bloody war against the same thing? Fixed quota? That is ridiculous Hermione!" Harry frowned at his pacing best friend, still unable to catch the metaphorical lead.

 

"Argh! Don't you see Harry? This is the only way the pure-bloods would even come to the negotiation table…This is the only way there is a slightest chance to make some real changes. We give them the old houses back, they give in to the ministry regulations and amendments in the education system, Muggle studies can be made compulsory for all Pure-bloods and Wizard tradition studies can be made compulsory for all Muggleborns. No one loses anything. The main problem itself was showing them the bone right? If we can ensure them a quota for purebloods in jobs and opportunities and all, don't we get to ensure muggleborns of a quota as well? Where in the past the practice was biased, we can actually equalize it this time around. It might seem offensive at the face value, but if we use it just right, everyone gets what they want!"

 

"Ok! But don't be offended or something, but for the love of Merlin, please tell me what old houses are exactly?" Harry asked warily waiting for fireworks.

 

Hermione looked at him sharply for a second in deep contemplation and then her eyes widened the way they did when she just stumbled on to a big realization. Harry sat up straighter at the action. Ron noticed it too.

 

"OH! But of course! Oh Yes! Oh yes! Oh my God I am so so stupid Harry!" she exclaimed, her eyes shining in her face in a crazy happy way.

 

"WHAT HERMIONE?" The boys asked in one voice.

 

"You Harry! You! Always has to be you! Solution of every problem! You are the sole heir to the house of Black by nomination! And the house of Potter by blood! AND on top of that you are the frigging savior of the wizarding world Harry! Oh Merlin! This cannot get any perfect!" Hermione squealed as she jumped up on to Harry's bed and took hold of Harry's shoulder and started shaking it.

 

"What are you on about?" Harry was beyond confused.

 

"Ahh! I guess it was too much for you to pay attention to your studies for once?" she frowned at her best friend and boyfriend. Before she settled down and her face morphed into an expression Harry labeled as 'Hermione the encyclopedia mode'.

 

"The Old houses are the houses that were established after the rule of Merlin himself Harry. He appointed the wizards in his cabinet as nobility. Declaring their magic as the purest and most potent. We covered this in the Third year history of Magic! Peverells, Ollivanders, Agrippas, Cliodnes and a few more that are lost now. Peverells and Cliodnes were the most powerful of them. During the rule of the queen Elizabeth, due to the massacre her elder sister had inflicted as the Queen, she gave a lot of lee way to the Wizarding world and gave them a place in her court as well. Establishing their direct descendants as Nobility recognized in the muggle and wizarding world both. But by the turn of the century and the death of the Queen, the statute of secrecy was invoked again and the wizarding nobility though went undercover again, were compensated with wealth and a certain status."

 

"The Potter family line and the Weasley family line is direct descendents from Ignotus Peverell, while Gaunts were direct descendants of Cadmus Peverell, While Malfoys are descendants of both Ignotus and Cadmus just like the Blacks are descendants of Antioch Peverell and the Irish Druidess Cliodne and so on and so forth. But that's beside the point. To this day. These houses hold an indomitable status between pure-bloods for the sheer amount of powerful wizards that have belonged to these houses even if you do not take into account the wealth. And you Harry are the cherry on the top. You are a direct descendant of the noble house of Potter, and like we all know, Sirius nominated you the Master of the Grimmauld place and the Black vault. You will be considered a descendant of the house of Black as well."

 

"So…." Harry was still confused.

 

"So… if the Old houses, as in old nobility titles are re-established, we will soon be calling you 'Lord Potter-black..which let me guess" Hermione puffed her face in mock concentration, as her eyes shined more, and started to count off on her fingers.

 

"…Puts you on top of the pure-blood aristocracy chain…Just beside…The Malfoys… Gives you a natural seat at Hogwart's Board of Governors and a seat at the Wizengamot. Not to forget that you are already established as the most powerful wizard of this age and also savior of the wizarding world!" Harry just looked at her as if he had been stupefied. Hermione turned around to look at Ron to find him gaping at her as well.

 

"Boys!" Hermione groaned as she fell back lying across Harry's bed and started to laugh happily. It seemed that things were finally going to look up and some real greater good could be done.

 

Harry was not too sure, but to see Hermione laugh like that after so long, Harry knew he was ready to do anything she required of him, even if he did not exactly understand what it was, as long as the hope and happiness remained on Hermione's face. All was going to be well.

 

It still did nothing for that void in his heart.

 


 

"Push Harry! Faster!" Teddy whoops as I shove the tire swing lightly, absently, my eyes fixed across the garden at the stone patio where the Lord of liars sits so casually conversing quietly with his aunt who is one of my few true friends. He is not looking towards me on purpose and I know it. I still keep a close watch.

 

"HARRY! PUSH HARDER!" yells Teddy making me look away from the reason of my annoyance.

 

"Teddy, you will fly off if I push you any harder cub! And I don't have my broom to go catch you like a snitch if you do!" I say giving a hard enough push to Teddy's delight.

 

"I WILL NOT FLY OFF! I am big and snitch is tiny! If I fly off, I'll be a crazy flyer! Like a Bludger!" Teddy chants, his face pink with exhilaration black hair almost similar to mine flying everywhere, but he is too excited and out of control to keep his eyes imitating the color of mine, so they are his natural hazel at the moment, like Remus'. My heart swells with affection for this little bundle of joy and sadness. How beautiful his life could have been had his parents survived. Remus all sedateness and authority, Tonks all cheers and mischief. Teddy is the combination of two extremely opposite people who were a match made in heaven. I know Andromeda does the best for Teddy. She is strong enough to raise him without most insecurity which I had been subjected to in multiplication in the home of Dursleys. No, My Teddy will one day be a wonderful, strong yet sensitive man. All because of Andromeda.

 

"Harry, Teddy…come along both of you, it's time for tea." I hear Andromeda calling us. I pull Teddy to a stop as he swings back towards me. He wriggles in my arms as I extract him from the rubber tire.

 

"Awww! Harry! Two more minutes! Please! Please!" he pleads. Like always.

 

"Oh no… Look! Grandma is spreading tasty, sweet, whipped, creamy, white, cream on the butter scones…Oh my! Is she opening the JAM bottle?" The boy has gone still in my arms around his waist, I can literally feel his pupils dilating at the commentary of the sweet scones. It always works. My cub has an insatiable sweet-tooth and is denied sweets most of the time because he goes hyper-active on sugar in minutes. He is now wriggling again, trying to get out of my arms now to get to the patio and the scones. I let him go chuckling at his antics. Following him at a more humane pace.

 

The day light is receding now and the shadows that fall in patches on the garden are beautiful. I have always loved this rustic little cottage. It's so quaint that it hurts. Not crazy lovely like the Burrow just, cozy and sweet. And this time of the day, when the setting sun hits the garden just right, the lazy brightness of this beautiful place increases tenfold. I look up smiling inwardly at the bliss of the place. Something warm and tickling finds my way again. Cheerfully I look up at the patio again and notice for the first time perhaps how striking Malfoy really is.

 

He has always been striking in looks, with the pointed face and silver blond hair and those silver grey eyes. It's hard to not notice, you could easily tell him in a crowd.

 

To tell the truth, I am getting rather tired of getting gob smacked every time he is or his reference is made in my vicinity. I mean, today, I was not just startled with this sudden encounter but more with how he was dressed in muggle clothes. He jolts my axis without even trying.

 

He lounges lazily on the rickety garden chair his jumper the lightest shade of Mint green possible, glowing against his skin in the afternoon light, an ankle locked on the knee clad in light and fit butter soft jeans somewhat with silver grey dragon-hide boots that can kick the shite out of anyone.

 

I feel absolutely shabby in my well worn blue-grey t-shirt that has grown a bit too tight around the shoulders and keeps riding up a little if I stretch too much and the dark jeans that I had just pulled out of the closet as it was the most recently washed and on top of the pile. Not to forget my loafers! But I refuse to ever regret my loafers! My work has me wearing ankle high Combat boots most of the time and so these loafers are a luxury. I did not come here to walk the romp as Malfoy seems to have, so I refuse to be embarrassed.

 

My eyes wander again. I try, I really do, but there is something so different and yet familiar about Malfoy that I feel that it is going to soon push me off edge if I don't discover what it is. I take in his face again. The ruthless perfection of it. The profile is still angular, his high cheek bones are a little softened, his straight nose not as pointy as before, I wonder how he can still look so masculine with such refined features and such long hair. I can see his adam's apple dipping in that strong and sinewy neck so perfectly flawless and pale. His face turns a little, his eyes looking down at something and a slight soft smile plays on his lips. I look at what his eyes are trained on, and its Teddy, who is in the process of jumping up the patio steps.

 

All of a sudden it hits me. What an illusion this perfect beauty is. This is why I hate perfection, it's never benign. How evil does Malfoy has to be? How cold and ruthless to smile down at the child from whom he is going to snatch away one chance of a secure future that will not involve any charity and only what is rightfully the child's. I suddenly have the urge to bash his fucking perfect face in. Suddenly as if feeling the hatred that is running through my veins the lying ferret looks up directly at me. I hope he sees how badly I intend to hurt him, how badly I want him to try…just try to take what belongs to Teddy. The perfect pale eyebrows draw together in an expression I can't name and then the silvery eyes that were shining a few moments ago dull as his skin loses the glow. And I can't help the satisfaction I find in making that possible. GOOD!

 

"Ah! You are absolutely filthy young man!" Andromeda chastises Teddy who I know is filthy because he was tumbling around in the grass so much just a few minutes ago. Not to mention sweaty.

 

"Come! You will change and wash your face before I let you near the scones…" says Andromeda, looking all forbidding and unarguable.

 

"Gentlemen if you will excuse me, I need to see to this incorrigible child…" She glares at the pouting child but a deep affection and adoration is too clear in her eyes. I could not have asked for a perfect opportunity than this. Malfoy and I need to have words! Few but important words! And I am sure Andromeda would not like the context or tone of those words. I give her my most reassuring smile

 

"By all means Andy." I say as she stands to take the child inside. Casting a stasis charm at the tea and the scones. "I think me and Malfoy will take a turn around the garden, like those victorian novels you like so much… for old time's sake." I do not look at Malfoy but at Andromeda who smiles a little uncertainly at me before she takes Teddy's hand and leads him inside. I turn to see Malfoy standing the lines of his body straight and alert. Calculation and determination on his face, his grey eyes are trained on me intensely. I nod courteously as I still stand in the garden, gesturing him to join me. Something flickers in his eyes for a moment and then he gives out a long bored sigh before he looks at me sneering in that particular way of his as he steps down the four steps. Stopping only inches away from me. Magic hums between us. He is remarkably powerful and he knows it but then, so am I.

 

"What is it Potter? Want to call me names again? Threaten me?" He drawls in his low key way. A sneer stretching on those lips. He is standing very close to me, so close that I can smell him with every inhale. He smells all woods and green apples and strange sensitive magic.

 

"No, just to warn you Malfoy! I am sure your memory is good enough to not forget all that I said to you last time we saw each other. But let me just add a few things." I step even closer to him close enough to see the slight blush in his pale cheek. Close enough to see my own eyes reflecting his. His breath is now washing on my face.

 

There is that expression again in his eyes. It looks like worry and alarm all mixed up with desperation and annoyance and sheer helplessness.

 

"If you think of even trying to get your hands on the Black fortune Malfoy, I will destroy you. That fortune belongs to Teddy, who lost his parents to that Mad bastard who you and your fucking father supported. I know the slimy lot you come from, honor and respect means nothing to you but you will honor and respect the rights of that child or I will tap dance on your ashes after I scorch you alive Malfoy! Metaphorically and literally." I would have preceded one step further with my tirade had I not caught an original blink of confusion and bewilderment in those eyes. I backtrack for a moment.

 

Oh!

 

Luna is my publicist, and as such on the priority list of Witch's weekly and most other publications. Luna always gets the magazines two days before the edition makes it to stalls. Which means, no one has yet received the latest edition of Witch's weekly.

 

Good God! Here I am brandishing all my loathing on Malfoy who by the looks of it has no clue regarding what I am talking about. Moreover, it is something that Witch's weekly is gossiping about. I mean they still speculate and gossip sometimes about the concept that I might be a hermaphrodite. The idea might not have even crossed Malfoy's mind here.

 

Well, now it certainly has, hasn't it, thanks to my absolute stupidity.

 

Nothing for it now. Save face. Give it color of suspicion. Tell him that you suspect the worse of the worse from him and you don't think him above stealing and snatching from a helpless child. After all you did see him sneaking some other kid's present into his own robe pocket in your second year. He is a liar and liars are not far from thieving and manipulating and snatching.

 

He is still dumbstruck staring at me his eyes lit with anger and absolute loathing. I take confidence from that.

 

"I know you are not above stealing and snatching from a child Malfoy so don't even think about denying it. You were always a little thief, I know, putting things that didn't belong to you in your pocket. A Liar, a coward and a thief. So it is not far-fetched that you will try such a thing, after all why would you make nice with the aunt your parents called a disgrace and being nice to Teddy? Oh that is a nice touch of sadism right there. So purely Slytherin. Well, you might fool the rest of the world Malfoy, but you will never fool me. So heed my warning if you know what's good for you."

 

I run out of malice which had just now been fuelling my tirade suddenly for some unknown reason, and I realize for the first time how close I am standing to him, close enough to feel the warmth of his body. His eyes are shining and I find it difficult to keep meeting them. They are making my heart beat faster for some reason. I know I have said some really hurtful things just now, based on assumption and despite the fact that it is Malfoy I said them to, I feel like an arse hole.

 

I decide that I will allow him to take a shot at me now, which I know is coming, for compensating my overtly harsh judgment. Yes, take it like a man Potter, do not strike back. So I brace myself and wait, I wait for the stunned expression to morph into a sneer, I wait for that absolutely hateful yet exhilarating drawl to start berating me in return. That is what I have just set up myself for, and if there is still someone who won't take shit from me in the whole damned wizarding world, it would be this Malfoy. I know I can count on it, because I do not know yet that I can't count on it.

 

A few seconds stretch between us while he looks at me with those stony eyes that seem to have a storm inside them, but that storm does not break out of the confinement of those eyes. It swirls and solidifies the mouth does not open, the words don't come. I realize for the first time that perhaps the seven years in between have changed something in him too, just like they have changed me, and the whole world around me. Something is crumbling somewhere. I have only ever associated extreme emotions like dislike and hatred and aggression when it comes to confronting Malfoy, but if that is gone, I do not know what could be worse than that.

 

As if the universe hears my thoughts, the worst thing that can happen, starts happening. The lines of anger, hurt and that inexplicable emotion fade and his face morphs into absolute blankness. It is a scary sight. It's as if I am looking into a void for a split second before his lips curve into a heart-breakingly tragic smile. The smile is so void of any impression in the palette of human emotions that can be associated with a smile that I flinch. I have never seen a more haunted smile.

 

Somehow he notices my flinch and the haunted smile grows even emptier. The storm in the silver eyes halts and then I feel the connection, It is just a glimpse, like a small electric jolt, but in that moment I feel as I am journeying through another dimension and am able to decipher the emptiness of those silver eyes.

 

What the hell happened to you Draco? I ask silently, I feel his fear, despair, melancholy, loneliness. I feel his tragedy. The inevitability of never getting something he desires with all his heart and soul. I feel his regret. So much regret and desperation to find a way out. And then there is coldness and darkness and pain, so much pain, and then there is me. Hatred shining in my eyes, snarling, twisting my wand in the pattern that is now so familiar to me. I am casting the sectumsempra spell. Fear, resignation, sadness, and…..

 

I am jolted out of whatever just transpired between me and Malfoy by the sound of the Fly net door creaking open and I notice for the first time that my left hand is laying flat in the middle of Malfoy's chest. There is a thunder under my fingers which has nothing to do with the slow movement of his inhales and exhales. It's his heart, the thumps are so fast that they are indistinguishable I feel as if I am holding it in my hand I can feel its constant movement and its warmth seeping through my fingers through his cashmere jumper. And then my mind kick starts again. I move my hand away from him quickly feeling the vibration and lingering heat clinging to it like a glove. I step back again two steps the three, looking towards the fly net door where Teddy stands looking at me suspiciously for some reason, he then turns his eyes to Malfoy and I turn as well to look at him encouraged by the cover young Teddy is providing.

 

Malfoy is hanging his head down, fists and eyes clenched close concentration deep in his face. He inhales a deep breath a few seconds later and his posture eases. He shoots his head up to look at me directly his eyes are stone again, impenetrable, he blinks at me once, twice and then turns away toward the cottage entrance. Passing by Teddy he ruffles his hair fondly and Teddy smiles up at him shyly but Malfoy hardly stops and makes his way quickly inside the cottage in a swift and graceful if urgent manner. I stand for long moments staring after him. My attention is only broken when I feel a little hand slipping into mine. I look down to see Teddy looking up at me with brilliant Hazel eyes.

 

"You still don't want to be his friend?" Teddy asks me quietly, disappointment shining in his eyes. My heart sputters.

 

"What?" I ask him confused and slightly disturbed. How does he know about that?

 

"You said pushing was wrong that time I pushed Hugo and he fell so then why were you pushing Draco? Is it okay when grownups do it?"

 

I am too stunned for a moment to open my mouth and answer the inquiring child. I should have known that that moment would stretch out to the whole of my afternoon.

 


 

 

Moroseness, disappointment and a strange sense of foreboding is haunting me tonight as I lay in my bed staring up at the ceiling trying to still figure out how to fix things. I know what my friends would say if I spoke to them about what happened today.

 

But that is the question isn't it? What did happen today? I figure it's best to review the event chronologically.

 

I had that intense, revealing and disconcerting chat with Luna after she showed me the newest edition of Witch's Weekly. Which was slathered in Gossip and absolutely inappropriate innuendo.

 

I should have been desensitized by the Gossip mongering of such magazines but I had allowed myself to become affected enough by it to go and talk to Andromeda about Malfoy trying to claim the Black title and fortune. I had mainly done it because the flood of revelation of why Malfoy was everyone's darling, had confused me so much that I had forgotten that the claim that Malfoy was going to go for Black fortunes was made by a Gossip Magazine, not only that, they had not made a claim at all, only a speculation and my mind had just run rampant with it.

 

I groan , burying my face in my pillow. As I feel too ashamed to even face the air.

 

SERIOUSLY!?

 

And then I had come across Malfoy. At Laurel cottage. All easy and sweet to my Teddy, in muggle clothes! MY TEDDY! And MUGGLE CLOTHES? Amazing muggle clothes. Making me feel shabby and ugly and surpassed and just over all inadequate. So naturally, I had gone on defensive. Accusing him of something even the gossip-mongers were only speculating about. I called him a thief, a coward and a liar. I sneered at him. I called him a sadist.

 

In short, I had been Draco Malfoy at that moment.

 

The pointy-faced 11-16 year old git. Who never gave up on any chance to poke and push and sneer and snarl and provoke.

 

Then I had slipped into Malfoy's….I don't exactly know what it was. Mind? Soul? Psyche? I still can't figure out if it was accidental legilimency or what, but it had been one of the most intense and confounding experience of my life. So stark and real as if it was the blood pulsing through our veins at the same time. I have never shared anything of that sort with anyone in my life and I am someone who shared a mind connection with Voldemort for sixteen years of my life. I can't help but hate the fact that that is yet another first that Malfoy has inadvertently stamped his name on. I hate him.

 

And if I thought he was jolting me from my axis before I know now how wrong I was because I find myself right now in a totally in an altogether different galaxy. What is happening? What is wrong with me? What is wrong with Malfoy?

 

All along when the darkness in my life had surrounded me so starkly, I had held on to myself with the proud assurance that I would never do the things those engulfed with darkness did. I had held on to my sense of fairness, compassion and nobility like a shield and once the war was over, I had still held on to that shield and worked my way even more diligently, trying to change the attitudes that led to the war in the first place.

 

Did I only find all that compassion and willingness in me to do all that because due to the chain of events I had not really confronted any of my real enemies, or tormentors at length? They had all died rather quickly before I could do anything about them and now at the first confrontation with someone who really was a rival and an enemy, at whose hands my friends had really suffered, I had slipped into the role of a vindictive threatening bastard so easily? Is Luna right about me being a hypocrite? Am I any better than my father and his friends who had tormented Severus just because they had the advantage and were prejudiced? What I have been doing since Malfoy's return is the same. He did not provoke me, he did not even speak to me and I went ahead and threatened him just because he is vulnerable and I am strong. Does it make me any different than those I fought the war against?

 

No, I am not a hypocrite and if I have been acting like one, then I will fix it. I will not fall into the pitfalls of power. I will not threaten Malfoy anymore. I will watch him closely since he is now even more of an unaccounted for yet possibly influential variable to the tender balance of the lives we are living so cautiously, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt and neutral judgment that he has not given me ever.

 

But first I will have to see him again. I will have to start over. I will have to get close enough to watch.

 

I will go to the Malfoy manor.

 

Decision made, I feel a weight lift off of me and the emotional roller coaster of a day finally starts to weigh down on me. That is until a flash of Silver comes through my Bedroom door. I startle awake to see Ron's Patronus bounding in its doggy form complete with salivating and all.

 

'Emergency at Hogwarts. Floo in to the Headmistress's office. Hurry!'

 

I jump out of bed as fast as I can my hand fishing out my faithful wand from under my pillow on a reflex. Cursing Ron for not giving me more details and cursing myself for not being fast enough. I drag on the jean over the boxers and don't bother removing the night shirt before I fling on my auror robes.

 

Two minutes later I am stepping out from the fireplace in McGonagall's office. To find Two junior aurors that just joined the force last month standing by the door. I know them by face fairly well, it is the names I usually don't do well with at all. Never have. The taller one of the two I remember easily enough as he casted one of the best and effective 'Slumberos' curse I have ever seen. I compose myself properly. Being a senior Auror who is usually given only High-profile cases or the ones with legal repercussions, I have a certain reputation to keep up. I know I am one of the youngest senior Aurors recorded in the history of magical Law enforcement so where I lack in age I make up for in seriousness. It has worked for me very well, especially with Ron flanking me in most cases, and where I do the aloof serious hero part, he plays the indispensable friendly hero part. We make a brilliant team at work. Where I intimidate people into getting what I want Snape as my inspiration, he eases them. So we cover all fronts easily. Not to forget that he is one of the shrewdest strategists and I one of the most reckless executors.

 

As soon as the junior aurors see me they straighten up. I look at them questioningly.

 

"Auror Potter, they need you down at Professor Dumbledore's grave immediately."

 

Dumbledore's grave? My racing mind comes to a screeching halt for a moment.

 

Why Dumbledore's tomb? It can't be because of 'that'.

 

I rush out of the office in large strides feeling the junior Aurors flanking me.

 

"What are your names gentlemen?" I ask in a neutral tone.

 

"Cedric Dunston and Harry Pontner sir."

 

"Oh dear Merlin!" I look back at the brown haired Auror smiling apologetically. He is definitely not the first Harry I have come across. We already have Three Harriets in the department of law enforcement itself, it just never fails to surprise me that people who share my name in my own department were named actually after me. Poor Harry Pontner is the closest though.

 

"I thought you would say something like that sir."

 

He smiles at me ruefully. I am impressed by his confident deference. It is a very balanced combination.

 

"Is Auror Weasley down there as well?"

 

"Yes sir, half the department is down there. The alarms on the wards went off at 23:40 to be exact."

 

"Any captures?"

 

"No sir, no captures."

 

"Has the headmistress or the Minister requested my presence here?"

 

Dunston and Pontner exchange a nervous look between them which I suppose I am supposed to take note of. Smart lads.

 

"I think sir, it would be sort of a moot point once you get there and see for yourself." Pontner says. I just raise a brow at him sardonically.

 

"Is that so?" My tone makes them squirm but they say nothing.

 

I decide that it is better to deduce the situation by myself anyways.

 

We swiftly cross the Entrance hall and then step out into the grounds. The Juniors lied. It seems as if the whole department is here. I make my way Scarlet auror robes flapping behind me. I only hope that my night shirt is fully tucked into my jeans.

 

I stride towards the lake with purpose, across the western shore that cuts closely by the forbidden forest. I feel the forest on alert as well. only to come to a halt mid stride when my eyes look straight ahead where the white marble tomb was built. There up in the air revolves a magical signature. Countless memories of suspended in air dark mark flash through my mind. Many of them the worst memories of mine. It takes me a few second to realize that it is not the skull and the snake. It's a black horned dragon swirling around a jagged 'M' with a wand in it's teeth. It's grotesque in it's own way, but not near as grotesque as the dark mark was. I quickly make a note to check on the significance and the kind this dragon is. Though I am sure if nothing helps, I can always call on Charlie. A few people move away from the line of my vision and then I am horror struck.

 

Dumbledore's casket perches on the edge of the roof of the tomb precariously, it is still closed and I am thankful for that, and then my eye catches on the real reason I have been called here. On the White marble skirting of the roof the words are burnt as if written with liquid fire.

 

'Qui salvabo vos salvatore Potter?'

 

('Who will save you Savior Potter?')

 

 

The air is thick with magic and the smell of burnt things. Someone touches my arm and brings me out of my state of shocked outrage. My grip tightens around my wand.

 

I snap my head to look who has dared only to see one of the very few people who can dare to touch me when I am teetering on the edge of control.

 

"It actually gets worse." Ron mumbles. I simply blink my eyes to make him continue.

 

"We also found a Centaur slaughtered on the Altar. Though it was mutilated beyond recognition and we still haven't been able to actually enter the Tomb as it is invisibly warded, we have reason to believe its Firenze."

 

 

I blink at my best friend who looks sick and grey in the wand lights and oil sconces. Then a gurgle and a groan makes everyone stop in their track as we all look up at the casket which lurches on it's precarious perch before it starts to fall down.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You

 

I do not love you except because I love you;

I go from loving to not loving you,

From waiting to not waiting for you

My heart moves from cold to fire.

 

I love you only because it's you the one I love;

I hate you deeply, and hating you

Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you

Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

 

Maybe January light will consume

My heart with its cruel r ay,

Stealing my key to true calm.

 

In this part of the story I am the one who d ies,

The only one, and I will die of love because I love you,

Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood. (Pablo Neruda)

 

 

 

If there is anything in the world that has the unique power of putting everything into perspective, it is death.

Life confuses and confounds and makes you look or overlook too much. Life is chaotic, always changing paths and colors and tones and purpose. It befuddles and makes you wonder. It’s a constant illusion and revelation at the same time.

Death on the other hand is everything that life isn’t. Which can be summarized in one small sentence alone.

Death is final.

The equilibrium of nature and magic depends on life’s chaos and death’s finality.

Which is why, when death is not final, chaos ensues. Anomalies form and the balance of nature tips over.

Which is why, a prophecy is made. It’s the nature’s own magic that assures the equilibrium and allows a seer to make a prophecy always regarding the situation relating to the disruption in the equilibrium in near or far future. It has been the pattern for millennia past, and it will remain the same till the end of the world.

I understand these things now. After seeing the world the way it makes sense. After learning the truth of existence, magic, love and sacrifice.  After meeting God.

For me, the first near death experience was what made me realize how wrong I had been in all my estimations. It made me realize how little, wealth, status and prejudice meant in the long run. By the time I made my way back to my dorm rooms from the infirmary, I was a changed person. With the loss of pride and blood and with pain came the focus. The determination. The perspective. And the fact that the hands that had inflicted on me such a situation in the first place, were the hands that held my existence in them without even knowing was as ironic as any situation could get.

I was in love with Harry Potter.

I was in the middle of the war on the side against the one I loved.

I was given the task of murdering someone the one I loved, loved deeply.

The one I loved, hated me beyond doubt.

I’ll tell you, for a sixteen year old spoiled brat, it was just the tip of the ice-berg.

The sixteen year old me was too weak, petulant, in denial to realize when his own heart had changed.

Or perhaps it was that the heart had never changed. I was just too stubborn to realize it.

The coward that I am.

As I walk out of the fire place in the Manor receiving hall, I cannot help the smile that plays on my lips.

The warmth of Laurel Cottage and the warmth of his hand still lingers. Seeping in through my clothes. Tingling on my skin.

Oh Draco! You coward, thief, liar and bully!

Oh! How you love it, you sadist!

 The house elf pops into existence just as I remove my cloak and looks up at me curiously as he takes the Cloak from me as I walk towards the full size mirror to the side of the entrance door. I know it is there because we Malfoys are pretentious enough to need a mirror straight away as we step out of the floo, which is kept painfully clean. For the purpose of being immaculately composed before we step into the presence of company without a doubt. A Malfoy cannot appear to be anything other than immaculately composed. Ever. If only father had witnessed the entire fracas I had with Potter at school, first hand. I mean the most memorable ‘chidings’ that I had by my father ever was once after that meeting with Potter in Flourish and Blotts just before the start of the second year and the other one had been after my ‘bumping’ into Potter, just before the Quidditch World cup.

‘Draco! If I ever see you sneer so obscenely and behaving like a hooligan again, I would punish you in a way that you will never forget! Must you be so dreadfully obvious in your emotions towards the boy? I will tell you this as I have told you countless times. Merciless, austere, laconic, fearless, Ominous, Yield less Draco! You can never forget yourself. Your tendency for dramatics will ruin your reputation one day!’ I remember the exact words of my father.'

I smile more openly at the irony. I believe that I am the most dramatic Malfoy by far. I am sure my father still blames it on the Black genes. Wherever he is.

“Mister Montague awaits you in the study master.” Monk informs me as I stride out of the reception hall. I feel his steady eyes on me. Monk is without doubt the most composed, observant and deferring house-elf I have ever encountered.

“ I see, I think he will be staying for dinner.”

“Yes Master.”

“Oh, and yes, before I forget Monk. Harry Potter will be visiting tomorrow sometime. Be sure to bring him to me straight away, wherever I am. Do not answer any of his questions and Do not leave him unattended until you have brought him to me. Is that understood?”

“Yes Master.” The house elf bows again as I dismiss him and pops out.

Solicitor Montague is already reviewing a pile of parchments as I enter the study. He looks up and his eyes widen for a moment as he takes in my appearance.

I think going to visit my aunt’s house in Muggle clothes was the best idea I ever had.

“Good evening Mr. Malfoy, the paper work from Gringotts arrived today so I wondered if you would like my assistance in reviewing it, before you sign and seal.”

“Mr. Montague, when it comes to read and review that which is written by Goblins, assistance is always more than welcome.” I say taking the upholstered arm chair that once my father sat in. I feel more than see Montague watching me intently as I settle myself down, I am sure he thinks my mood is rather peculiar at the time. I guess he is revising his opinion of me as he goes and is satisfied by the time he looks away. I think it’s more convincing for a twenty-four year young man to be cheerful. And as I have learned over the years.

Sometimes a smile can do more damage than a scowl ever can.

I look over the first pile Montague gesture towards. Property deeds.

Chateau in Toulouse.

Villa in Nicosia

Cottage in Tuscany

Palace in Istanbul

Tripoli…Osaka…Munich…Geneva…Brussels…Vienna…St.Petersburg…Srinagar…Lahore…

Bath, Southampton, Cornwall, Glasgow, Cumbria, Kent, Derbyshire….it went on and on

I may be the master of death.

But even mastering death could never desensitize me against the tediousness of paper work.

It does not take long as my mind drifts away to the events of earlier today.

And of course, I cannot help but feel proud of the role my perfect execution of emotions played in the events that occurred today at Laurel cottage.

But it all is rather muted in my memory as the memory of that hand on my chest overshadows all else. Something clenches deep inside me at remembering the sensation, the warmth. I should stop, I tell myself.

I could have slipped very badly, and it was pure chance that what started to happen so suddenly went nicely with my plan.

My intuition had been buzzing from the moment I had opened my eyes at sunrise. I felt that something monumental was to happen today. Restlessly I had found temporary salvation in my usual exercise for which I had chosen my mother’s sunroom. The early morning light and openness of the place helped a lot. I chastised myself for going soft. I mean I had after all wandered in the wilderness of Northern Sweden for seven days half naked and only equipped with my wandless magic. For the sake of practice. But I was home. And despite the bad memories, there were also good memories here and I knew acting like a spoiled brat would only placate my mother’s soul. You have got to keep the desires of the dead into consideration, since in my position you never know when you are going to meet them again. 

I had asked for breakfast to be brought into my mother’s Sunroom two hours later and it was with during breakfast that the owl had arrived and with it had brought a most pleasant surprise.

I had stared at the complimentary pre-published copy of the Witch’s weekly for at least a whole five minutes before I could tear away from the image of me and Potter on the cover. It was not an original picture of course, but it was worked on very carefully and attentively. I remembered the Creevey boy taking that picture of me unawares. It had been while Cho Chang was taking a break between the interviews which was set for me in protection of the Ministry. The interview had been a spectacle and a tedious one at that. I might have enjoyed it at one time, but after the first few questions it had started to bore me to roots.

But it was the picture of Potter that riveted me. Draped in a well-fitting Muggle Tuxedo jacket in white, He was a vision to behold. Perched on the arm of the sofa I had sat on during the interview. His eyes looking far, unfocused and miserable. The swirl of the wine in his glass was made even more mesmerizing with the strong fingers that held it so carelessly. The wrist that showed a little as it swirled and swirled and swirled. It was mesmerizing and no one was here to observe or judge so I stared shamelessly. I could feel my breath lowering with the rhythm of the picture as my finger skimmed over the glossy surface of his face, the eternally disheveled hair. The lithe and lean line and contours of his body that were at best display in the position he was perched. So taut yet careless. I stared until the image filled my mind. In my mind, he swirls the glass over and over, his eyes wandering, until they fix on me. In my mind he smiles at me, and slips down onto the sofa next to me so close yet not close enough, never close enough. He engages someone in conversation on the other side, while his fingers skim over my knee secretly before the nail of his index finger scratches over the fabric and draws a line towards my thigh. I am alarmed at the fact that he is about to fondle me very publicly and I am not going to stop him.

It was at this point that I had to stop myself. The arousal was surprising. Too surprising. I had not had a conscious arousal brought on by visual or physical reaction in years. I strode out of the Sunroom and made my way towards my quarters swiftly. Arousal still heavy with no plans of diminishing without being satisfied. At the door of my room I realized that I still had the magazine in my hand. Cursing myself I threw it on to the already made bed before I strode into the sanctuary of my bath, as if water could wash away my desire and longing so easily. But water could hide me.

Stepping out of my clothes I stood in front of the life size mirror. Looking at my image with a detached fascination. Was this flushed and obviously aroused body really mine? Breathing deep, eyes shining with desperation, skin flushed and warm, muscles strained and quivering, hair disheveled. How pathetic was it that just a picture and imagination of a finger nail of Potter’s index finger could bring me to this state of arousal? How could I underestimate my own desire so badly? How would I stay away from him, when the mere thought of him does this to me?

I had been proud of my vow of celibacy. In order for me to achieve my goal it was a necessity. To be honest, it had not been much of a chore. Impossible magical and physical struggle had made sexual urges almost non-existent. Only the occasional morning wood was all that I had to deal with.

I should have known it was only under control because of the distance between me and him. 

And now I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, all shame and desire over a picture of him. At which I was able to stare without any hindrance.

I had a mind to punish myself and ignore my arousal.

‘But why?’ Asked the little Draco in my mind.

‘Why is it a sin worth punishing? Why is being aroused for the one you love so deeply so wrong? Why should you be ashamed of it? Why should you deny it? why should you feel bad about it? You will never have him, but why should you also deny yourself this temporary reprieve?’

I was afraid of the conviction in those questions, but I could not ignore them. What harm could it do? I turned away from the mirror, I could not watch myself do it, not if the image of me in throes of passion did not have him in it as well. Contributing to it, participating. I stepped into the Shower cubicle. Which was already steamy and humid. Perfect habitat for sticky arousals. As water poured down on me, I grabbed hold of my turgid flesh that was in need of desperate attention. The spike of relief was immediate as was the spike of anticipation. I closed my eyes, as my hand started the relentless stroking. Hot and tight and fierce. My mind filled with images of him. The closeness of his body as he accosted me in front of the Entrance gate, the warmth of his breath, the green of his eyes and the black of his hair,

Faster, steadier and smoother the hand worked as the flesh it assaulted grew tighter and tighter. A tidal wave gathering in my navel and thighs and hips and toes.

The way the sunlight played upon that golden skin. Rough and flawless, the breadth of those shoulders and the strength of those arms and the way he smelled. Of morning and breakfast, honey and almonds and cinnamon. I still can take pleasure in smells. It was not one of the things I sacrificed. I bathed in his smell as memory morphs and merges into imagination, in my imagination we have rubbed against each other enough that I smell of him, legs tangled together in sheets while he sleeps beside me peaceful and exhausted after a night of passionate and reckless lovemaking. I watch him, careful to not wake him up as I start the act of covertly inhaling him, covetously, obsessively, deeply. I skim close to the skin of his arms and chest and neck and hair, and the back of his knees and insides of his elbows. He smells of me and I of him. Only to find his eyes trained on me as I retreat from my insane inhaling expedition. So green and shining with love for me despite the sleep in them.

“Draco…” he gasps as I lay my head down on his hard and muscled stomach abashed but not ashamed. I love him too much to be ashamed of doing something that does not fit in with the sane world. I have loved him madly enough.

“Harry…” I exhale back against his shivering muscles.

“Come…” he whispers beckoning me up, closer to his face and I crawl up until my face is suspended over his as I align my body against him, and somehow his hand that is not pulling my lips onto his, finds my hard arousal and tugs at it, Once, making me gasp at the sensation as his moist tongue files through the parting in my lips. Twice… I groan at the inevitability of the fast reaching apex. His grips tightens around me and I know I am a lost cause. Thrice… and he whispers one word in my mouth, a command, a request, a plead, a claim,

“Come!” the whisper says.

And I do, I am, I was.

I opened my eyes as I staggered on my feet with the intensity of my orgasm as it spilt hot and copious on to my fist . I felt that my lips were moving, but I was too out of control to understand what they were saying. As I stumbled into sitting on the marble bench. Panting and still chanting and whispering.

“Harry….Harry…Harry…”I heard my own whispers. I repeated the name like a mantra as I wound down from the orgasmic high. My pants slowed down to deep breathing as loss and despair started to settle in.

That is all it was. A dream, a vivid imaginary sequence of events that will never come about. My eyes tingled as I sat down on marble bench water cascading on my head sticking my long hair against my neck and face. I stood up jerking myself out of despair and loss and longing and stepped forward to shower properly.

An owl tapping at my bedroom window was what welcomed me as I stepped out of the bathroom.

It was a smallish black and brown eagle owl that had a little too much attitude for its size. I could tell the way it flew in and landed on the owl stand erected on the writing desk not even looking at the owl treats that were held by the end of the steel rod for the easiest approach of the owl. I guess it was still young, but not any less self-important. It hooted for me to take the scroll it held aloft with all the dignity possible. It was very amusing and intriguing. I walked towards the desk as demurely as I could clad in a towel and untied the scroll carefully. The owl hooted approvingly at my successful detachment of the scroll. I smiled at it as I unrolled the parchment.

 

 

 

Dear Draco,

You asked to be informed of the best time for visiting me and Teddy, this here is your invitation to drop by at any time today, preferably at lunch, as we will both be at home. The floo address is “Laurel Cottage, Helga’s Bode”. Teddy is especially excited to see you and has been asking about you continuously since the day he met you at the funeral. We look forward to seeing you.

Andromeda Tonks.

P.s. The carrier of the letter is our pet owl ‘Titus’ and he will only accept treats if you invite him to it respectfully. I think he developed such refined habits to compensate for my grandson’s unruliness. Never mind, only reply if you are unable to come today.

 

The way my morning was going so far, I seriously considered turning down the invitation for a few minutes, but as I picked my quill to pen a polite refusal. 

Something deep inside my mind told me that I will be seeing Potter today. If I was correct in my assumption, Potter was bound to be on the pre-published list of Witch’s weekly. It was after all run by his  once-girlfriend Cho Chang. Potter would come looking for me for a confrontation once he read the hints of what was to come in the special edition, specifically the point that had really surprised me at the initial scanning.

 

 

- Is Lord Malfoy about to contest the title of Lord Black? Magic Genealogical experts speak.”

The thought had not even crossed my mind. But it would infuriate Potter, I knew it. I was not stupid enough to think Potter wanted the title for himself. I was pretty well-versed in magical genealogy to know the legends regarding the Potter vaults, and I remember also how the death of Sirius Black had sent Potter into chaos. No, logic suggested that Potter would be serving as a regent until little Teddy Lupin was of age, the only other blood descendant of the Black blood line, no matter how tainted his blood was by Black standards. Yes, everyone would consider me to be the better candidate to claim the Black fortune and title. Pure-blooded, closer generation and of age as I was.

No, I should not even acknowledge such a suggestion. No matter who it was made by or expected by. Not because it was not validated, but because it would form an impossible wedge between me and Potter, and I would never, ever, ever allow that to happen. I was too far as it was.

That, however did not mean, that I could not use this suggestion and it’s repercussions in Potter finding out about it to my advantage. If he came looking for me, he will confront me. If he confronted me, he will threaten and insult me. From then forwards it would depend on how good and convincing an actor I am to act all wounded at the accusation of stealing from a child. Not to forget how to play on the sentiment that I had recently lost my mother.

The plan was not as refined as I would have liked it to be in order to stir the cauldron of Potter’s opinion regarding me, but then if he never showed up, no harm could come and as I did wholly intend to refute the accusation of my trying to claim the Black fortune, no hard feelings would be there and the gossip would remain just that, Gossip. Though it was a golden chance even if relying on a lot of chances and speculations.

I scrunched up the parchment and looked up thoughtfully at the brown and black owl that was watching me intently. I gestured with my hand towards the treat bowl perched towards the end of the rod.

“Would like to have some treats Titus? It would please me greatly.”

The owl looked at me for a moment, before it gave a hoot of approval and ducked its head demurely before strutting towards the treat bowl and dipping its head delicately into the treat bowl.

Once it had collected its treat, the owl looked at me questioningly and simple replied.

“There is no reply. You may leave if you wish.”

The owl hooted again and flew out of the window that was still open in its wake. I made my way towards the wardrobe which was finally filled with clothes that were my own. I intended to throw off Potter as much as I could from his assumptions regarding me which he had made no effort to hide.

“Desperate times, call for desperate measures” I said to myself as I pulled out the Light mint Green cashmere jumper and muggle jeans.

Nothing could be more unexpected than a Malfoy in casual muggle clothes. Though he would no doubt still look like he stepped out of an Elitist fashion magazine… Muggle Elitist fashion magazine.

 


 

There was only one way to describe Laurel Cottage.

It was cozy.

The grassy garden in the front and the back, circled half way by a shallow fresh water stream, the vivid golden glow of the sunlight on the stone that the cottage was made of. Fly net doors, Wooden framed sturdy windows, logged and thatched roof, which was solid concrete underneath. Surrounded by trees and wild grass and squirrels.

The inside of the cottage was just as cozy as the outside. The living room that housed the fireplace floo, kitchen and dining area were all one, only divided by Book cases, and low counters. Furnished in warm deep colors. The yellow of the wall contrasted well with the dark cherry wood of the furniture and book cases. With so much light coming in from the French windows every nook and cranny was lighted up. Teddy who was perched at edge of a chair stared at me as I stepped out of the fire place.

“Hello Little Lupin.” I smiled down at the child as he kept staring at me.

“Oh! Draco dear you are here!” Said a voice behind me that sounded so much like my mother that I could not help but whip around to see my Aunt standing a few steps away. I realized that it was not just the voice that matched my mother’s. Aunt Andromeda’s face also resembled my mother’s strikingly. It was just that she was an older version. But where my mother had a certain coldness around her demeanor, my aunt radiated warmth, which made her more beautiful in ways I could not explain in words.

But for a moment, the fact that my cold beautiful mother did not exist in her corporeal form anymore twisted in my gut like a knife.

As if reading my feelings that were over-whelming me, my aunt stepped forwards closing the distance between us and engulfed me in a warm deep hug. The kind my mother was always too self-conscious to give me. It was a soothing salve for my blistered soul. In the manner most wrong of a Malfoy, I hugged her back just as tightly and buried my face in her shoulder. I do not know when I started sobbing. Only that the pressure around my chest that had lingered for days was dissipating slowly. She smelled of jasmine and cake and syrup and butter. So sweet and tender her embrace was. rubbing soothing circles across my back. I do not know how long we stood there. I only snapped out of it when I felt pressure of small arms around my waist, clinging tightly and warm breath against my stomach. Aunt Andromeda let go of me slowly and looked down and smiled sweetly making me look down to see a head full of Black unruly hair against my stomach and small clinging around my waist.

I ran my fingers through the hair with hesitation, making the child look up at me with piercing green eyes that were the exact same shade of Potter’s. This little child was trying to comfort me by looking like a friend I once wanted very badly, but never got to have. How could a child be so perceptive? So understanding and giving? Potter could take pointers from Teddy Lupin for sure. 

“Draco don’t be sad… we have Grandma and we have Harry and Hugo and Rose… we have so many people who love us. We do. So don’t be sad.”

Oh how I wish Little Lupin that I had Harry too.

 

An hour after lunch, which looked and smelled divine, Teddy could not be kept inside any longer. He dragged me off my chair, as the little house-elf cleared the table alongside my aunt, and pulled me mercilessly towards the door that lead outside to the front garden. His green eyes glowing and laughing and his little mouth talking non-stop. I had never particularly liked children, but there was something extremely lovable about Teddy Lupin, who was a hyper little bolt of lightning. He was unstoppable, adorable and uncannily observant.

And then before I knew it, I was standing face to face with another pair of a much larger green pair of eyes.

“Harry!!!” Teddy yelled in delighted surprise as he crashed against his God father still holding my hand in a death grip and pulling me closer than appropriate to Potter.

“Malfoy…” he said in a flat tone. I think it was surprise. Which meant that he had not come here looking for me and it was pure con-incidence.

“Potter…” I nodded curtly.

Potter stared at me a moment longer with a very blank expression. Before he looked down at the child who had a habit of clinging to people’s waist with a death grip.

“Hello Teddy, How is my favorite Godson?” Potter said in a kind voice, ruffling the hair that matched his own so uncannily.

“Still Favorite!” Said Teddy’s muffled voice as his face was buried into Potter’s stomach inhaling deeply. I wondered if it was a were-wolf characteristic he had inherited from his father.

“But of course.” Potter said in a made up accent, making Teddy chuckle against his stomach before he reluctantly let go. I could see love glowing in Potter’s eyes for the child. it was a beautiful thing to behold.

Potter ignored me from that moment onwards. Though Teddy remained loyal enough and kept including me in the conversation. Aunt Andromeda soon asked Potter to entertain Teddy while she had a little heart to heart with me. She was treading carefully around Potter and Potter looked somewhat irritated and anxious at the same time. And then the glowering started. The warmth was already over-whelming me every now and then, but the heat of those eyes that were fixed on me from across the garden, focused on me so intensely that I had not even gotten a chance to take all of him in. No chance to linger on those strong and sturdy arms with their sun-kissed skin and that atrocious shirt that was stretched across the shoulder and was a bit on the short side. No chance to look at the golden sliver of taut flesh that showed itself so teasingly everytime he bent down to pick up something from the ground. This business of not looking yet looking was gradually moving me to the edge of losing control. I had been so blanked minded through it all, concentrating so hard on not giving away my desperation and my mind unhelpfully provided me with the images from my fantasy in the shower as it amended Potter’s appearance. The arms were more definitely muscled that I had imagined. It was appropriate. He was an auror afterall. The skin more golden…

I watched him from the corner of my eye as he made his way towards us before a jumping, hopping Teddy stole my attention, which was well and good as Potter’s eyes were fixed on me.

I smiled down at the child.

"Gentlemen if you will excuse me, I need to see to this incorrigible child…" My aunt said bringing me out of my dispersed thoughts, only to find Potter much nearer now. His eyes had lost all the softness of earlier when he was playing with Teddy. A shrewd confident Auror was staring out of them now.

“By all means Andy… I think me and Malfoy will take a turn around the garden, like in those victorian novels you like so much…” He pauses a moment his smile more of a smirk as his intense eyes train on me challengingly “… For old times sake.”

Now, there is a reason I was placed in Slytherin and a reason why the sign of the Slytherin is a serpent.

We make do best with what is provided to us.

And one should never think for a moment that they can have a one over on a Slytherin.

If a Slytherin ever shows himself to be vulnerable, it is because that is where the advantage lies.

Not because he actually is Vulnerable. A vulnerable Slytherin will never show it up. He would rather die.

Now, I knew that the way I played the next few moments will make or break my chance with getting close to Potter.

I knew I would need to probe a little, act a bit defensive at first so that Potter would find a reason enough to slip into the threatening tirade he is about to start.

‘give it your best shot.’ I urged silently. Preparing myself for verbal onslaught that would not be pleasant, but purposeful.

And Merlin did it ever work.

A tinge of a sneer and a little prodding in the direction, and Potter was off like a mad bludger.

Leaning so close, threatening so passionately.

No, Draco, I told myself I could not be distracted.

He had after all seen the Magazine as well. I could tell from the beginning. I had done nothing else to deserve his wrath so far. So I kept my face blank and confused switching between vulnerable and desperate, as if I am trying to keep my composure and failing. Yes, Potter would expect failure. He would like to think that he penetrates deeper than skin. He would find it more accommodating, the predictable Gryffindor that he was, and so he will inevitably fall into the trap I have laid out for him.

Make him insult me, Make him realize that he has insulted and threatened me when I was not in the wrong, Make him feel guilty, Leave before he can try to make amends.

 "If you think of even trying to get your hands on the Black fortune Malfoy, I will destroy you. That fortune belongs to Teddy, who lost his parents to that Mad bastard who you and your fucking father supported. I know the slimy lot you come from, honor and respect means nothing to you but you will honor and respect the rights of that child or I will tap dance on your ashes after I scorch you alive Malfoy! Metaphorically and literally." 

I blink at him confused now that he had opened the reason for this accosting.

Potter pauses. As he catches the blink and the most genuine look of confusion on my face that anyone can fake.

Check Mate!

I open my mouth as if I want to say something as Potter’s eyes go from guilt, to calculation, to determination. Unexpectedly enough, He sneers at me.

Ah! so the Gryffindor who wore his noble heart on the sleeve has changed a bit. Had I not watched him so closely and obsessively since I got to know him, I would have not noticed the defensive tone that his next few words took. He was… convincing himself that the stupid assumption and accusations he just made were justified.

Showtime! I told myself. As I morphed my face into that of being offended. Urging him that much further to be really really cruel with his next words.

"I know you are not above stealing and snatching from a child Malfoy so don't even think about denying it. You were always a little thief, I know, putting things that didn't belong to you in your pocket. A Liar, a coward and a thief. So it is not far-fetched that you will try such a thing, after all why would you make nice with the aunt your parents called a disgrace and being nice to Teddy? Oh that is a nice touch of sadism right there. So purely Slytherin. Well, you might fool the rest of the world Malfoy, but you will never fool me. So heed my warning if you know what's good for you."

There are many truths in there. Some of them circumstantial, some straight from the bottle. I felt the accusations deep inside. I knew how little I deserved him, his respect, his acknowledgment, but did I not pay my due? I was a child, just a spoiled child who thought very little about anything other than which broom to get next, which chocolates to eat next, how to make Potter angry next. We had all been children once, before war tore it all apart. In my own silent reverie I didn’t notice when Potter stopped speaking.

I looked at him, really looked at him, and noticed that he is expecting me to fight back. To counter his accusation, to sneer, brawl…

I kept silent, as I watched him stand there so near me, flustered and expectant. I realized that I was too tired of playing the old game with him. So I just looked at him, urging him to really look at me and see if he can find the old ‘Malfoy’ in there somewhere, since I was unable to find him. I saw his discomfort at my silence and I took the chance. I really opened myself up so he could see deep in me and see if the old Malfoy remained. I smiled at him, welcoming him to the emptiness that I had become over the past seven years. To see how much I gave, how little I got back for it, how I despaired at the impossibility of what I truly desired. I felt myself standing on the edge of the void, waiting for him to see it all… I opened myself up.

And then it happened.

He placed his hand on my chest, as my heart thumped away faster than it had ever before, his green eyes fixed on me in confusion and fear and something that seemed like concern, somehow completing a connection between us that I was too afraid to even imagine.

No matter how evil and spoiled and bad I was. My love for Potter had been pure when I gave the piece of my soul for him.

The piece that lived inside him now since he was granted a passage back from the world of the dead.

My sacrifice had not been a waste. I had always known, but to see the physical evidence of it for real was an out of body experience.

The fact that a part of me resided inside Potter’s body forever was enough to over whelm me into looking down from those piercing eyes. I did not want him to see anymore than he already had. So I clenched my eyes close and bowed down my head. I wanted to cling on to him and yet let go at the same time with the same desperation. This was too raw, too delicate, it could be too much.

Defenses came up as easily as they had gone down and at that very moment the creak from the door alerted Potter as he flinched back his hand with a twitch. I knew I could not stay there any longer. So I looked up at him. Just memorizing the moment for a second before I turned away and saw to my escape.

Now sitting here in My father’s study, I cannot help but feel optimistic about the events that transpired today. That simple touch, that little display of secrets has set me free in a way I could not have imagined. I am confident that he will come looking for me. I know that Potter’s world famous curiosity will win over his prejudice. He will seek me. He will want to know more, see more. I only hope that time will be on my side this time and that I will be able to resist his probing long enough for a chance of True friendship to be formed. That will be necessary for what is to come. That will be necessary for me to just…

“Mr. Malfoy…” i look up to see my solicitor watching me very intently. I just raise a brow at him in a query.

“Let me be the first one to congratulate you Lord Malfoy for successful transition from the role of heir to the role of Master with all assets intact. Your resilience with the Goblins was remarkable.” I notice that whilst I thought away I had gone through signing all the deeds.

I take the hand he offers for a firm shake.

“You are a most capable young man, and I expect you to slip into the role of a social leader effortlessly.”

I want to laugh at the claim, but I don’t for the sake of propriety.

“But I must suggest a few things, if I may, since I have been living in this society for a while and it has much different social dilemmas and expectation than it did seven years ago.”

I wonder where this is leading to, but I know that this man in front of me never says anything redundant and as it is, though I would never admit it, I do need a few pointers to cruise through the society as it is now. 

I nod at him to continue.

“The fact of the matter is, the people have still not forgotten the war, and with the old houses system back in application, certain attitudes have formed amongst classes. It’s true that they are most integrated now, but still, when it comes to a family like yours, there are certain expectations, which if not met would make them suspicious.”

“I do know all these things Mr. Montague and I would appreciate if you would come to the point.”

The older man takes a deep breath. Before he leans forward at the desk.

“The fact of the matter is Draco. The way I have observed you so far, you are too straight-laced for some reason. I don’t know what happened to you in past seven years, but it has surely changed you to the point that you are no more the person you were once expected to be.

You were born with a gold spoon, pampered and spoiled beyond limits, and then when the dark lord rose, you and your family was found on his side. You were marked, but very few know that and then you disappeared. Now that you have reappeared. Seemingly unharmed. People will grow varied if you are too out of character, because in the mind of the people you are still the spoiled pampered brat that you once were on top of which now you are also the richest wizard in all of Europe. Considering all these things, a little change in outward attitude is required. Whereas I recommend you to form the Good will with the golden trio, who hold a place of their own. I believe you should be careful with who you associate with otherwise. Be sociable yes, but you have no more restriction or pressures from family, no one to chide you Draco, think about what any other twenty-four year old would do?”

“Are you telling me to act a little….Promiscuous Solicitor Montague?” I looked at the man incredulously.

“Yes… But be subtle about it as well. People expect to Gossip about you, so give them something to gossip about every once in a while. Go clubbing, throw a party every now and then, treat ladies to dinner..So on and so forth…”

I must admit that I had not had the chance of thinking about this, and now that it is mentioned I do see the logic. I look back at the older man, my mind full of immediately forming plans as I get up to lead him out of the study towards dinner.

 


 

“You did always have a penchant for skidding off track Draco…” says the deep tenor of a too familiar voice. It is impossible to mistake who it belongs to. I turn around swiftly to see him standing facing away from me, his stark black robes flapping behind him in the soft warm breeze that blows around us. The midnight blue sky and the light grey ash desert present an all too familiar landscape.

“Hello Severus.” I say quietly as I step forward to stand next to him.

“You are like a kitten Draco, getting distracted by even the tiniest speck of light, and how shall you face the deepest darkness the world you live in will ever know when you are so distracted by the lightning bolt that is Potter?” he sneers in that way he always used to do. He looks clean. Proper. In his prime.

I am glad to see that the afterlife is treating him so well.

“And is Potter not the lightning that shall dissipate the darkness you speak of?” I ask him with emotion.

“There was a reason I used the metaphor in the first place, a lightning bolt during the thunder storm is not only destructive, it contributes to the darkness, by just showing you how dark it is. No, Lightning needs a conductor that will make light that shall dissipate the darkness. You Draco shall become that conductor. Pay attention to what is necessary and only what is necessary, for the darkness is about to strike too soon and too close to home.”

But I thought I had time.

“What do you mean? I thought I still had time Severus!”

“You do, but very little, it will start small, and gradually pick up. Just make sure you keep your eyes and mind…Undistracted.”

With a crack he disappears without any warning, making me fall back into state of consciousness.

I sit up, as the wards around the Manor tinge dismissively yet warningly. I look to the window to see that its it still dark outside, I look at the marble wall clock that indicates it’s four in the morning. Sunrise is still an hour away. I reach out with my magic to see who it is that is trying to enter the Manor without consent.

Half a dozen magical signatures. Though none of them is tough enough to do any significant damage to even the basic manor wards, that is, if they ever breach through my own personal ward in the first place. But I know that the one that can possibly breach the wards, would not need to breach them at all, all he will have to do is open the door and step right in.

The pop indicates me of Monk’s presence.

“Master, Mr. Potter is about to reach the entrance foyer, should Monk bring him to Master’s bedroom straight away?”

“No! No… take him to the Gent’s parlor.” I will be there by the time you reach.

The elf pops away. I grab my dress robe from the sofa and wrap it over my half-naked self before I apparated to the Gent’s parlor. 

I stand awkwardly for a minute trying to work out in my mind what is happening? Why exactly Potter is here and how he is going to be?

I prepare myself knowing full well that it is all in vain.

A minute or two pass which for me feel like an eternity. And then the door to the parlor swings open to allow entrance to the one person I wish and dread to see.

I am surprised by the Crimson auror robes which flow around him. I am surprised at the contrast between the fresh and easy man I had met just this afternoon and this tired but authoritative auror. It is just after four in the morning why is he here in Auror robes.

“Potter.” I nod curtly. Taking in the shadows across his face. He is conflicted and angry about something, it is very apparent.

“Malfoy.” He nods back. Determined but hesitant.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of your company at this ungodly hour Potter?” I try to sound as sardonic as I can.

“To the fact that Dumbledore’s Grave was exhumed and violated, and a centaur that was also a known professor at Hogwarts was murdered in cold blood on the altar.”

I am confused. Shocked too. I admit that it is rather distasteful and wrong in all senses, but I do not see the connection with me, apart from the fact that I had contact McGonagall two days ago to visit Hogwarts and the Portrait of my God father in the dungeon. It would be typical and really tiresome if they suspect me of having to do something with it only on the basis of the fact that I was once a death-eater.

“and the fact that the ward that would not allow anyone into the area of the Tomb was the exact replica of the one you have surrounding the Manor, which neither I, nor anyone in the department has ever come across before in their careers and life.”

“The darkness is about to strike soon, and too close to home.” Severus’ voice echoes against the walls of my mind.

Severus, you liar.

The darkness has struck already.

“So will you explain things yourself, willingly? Or will I have to take you into custody Malfoy?”

I do not know how to explain things to him without telling him everything.

I stare at his tired face blankly, looking for a hint of accusation there and I am surprised to find none.

“All right!” he sighs as if in defeat.

“Custody it is.” He says as he closes the distance between us.


 

Chapter Text

 

 

I asked for a kiss you gave me six.

Whose pupil were you to become such a master?

Full of kindness, generosity...

You are not of this world. (Rumi)

 

“First of all…” he finally speaks. His complexion is glowing pale in the firelight, his long hair, untied and disheveled yet falling in silver waves across his black dressing robe. He is afraid I know, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the fact that I am threatening to take him into custody. I think it’s about me closing the physical distance between us. His rigid frame grows a little lax when I stop mid-stride.

“…I have no idea what you are speaking of. I only contacted McGonagall two days ago and she is yet to assign me a time in which I can visit the portrait of my Godfather, which is the only reason I would want to visit Hogwarts in the first place. There is no logical reason for me to be involved in such a heinous crime when I was just granted with a full pardon and the right to my assets just yesterday, so even if you won’t admit it out loud Potter, you know I am not involved.”

I know he has nothing to do with it. The magical signatures are too different even if the resulting ward is the same. Just like you know that a Golden apple and a green apple did not come from the same tree, but they are both still apples.

So why am I here? Because I am afraid of the magic that I do not know, and if Malfoy is the only person who knows what kind of magic it is and how to cast it and how to dismantle it, then I would get it out of him by any means possible.

I simply look at him. Knowing the fact that we both know the truth, wondering what he will do to stop me. Whoever is the culprit is too powerful and has targeted me directly. I already have too many deaths on my conscience as it is. Tonight another was added. I am getting too tired for this shite and I have probably made a stupid decision coming here like this and on top of that threatening Malfoy yet again when I had vowed not to do it again. The worst part is the fact that Malfoy is onto me.

“Secondly, as a magical citizen of Wizarding Britain with fully restored legal rights. I have a full right to ask you to show me a Warrant or permit signed by the Minister or head Auror before you take me into your custody…” he leans back against the pool table that he is standing in front of, in a gesture that is so reminiscent of old days that I feel like a strung out school boy again all of a sudden and for the first time I feel that I have just lost control of the situation as he continues to speak in that familiar drawl. The arrogant sod. Standing there in his silk dressing robe and being so dismissive of my red Auror robes that people shudder at when they see me wearing them.

“… And I know you have no such warrant or permit on you right now. I also know that the six aurors that are standing outside my wards also have no such warrant or permit on them…so you can’t possibly take me into custody….BUT…”He straightens away from his perch against the pool table in a fluid movement that tells me clearly of his well oiled and perfect reflexes. He easily crosses the few feet that remain between us, the idea of me crossing which had just distressed him a moment ago. Oh yes, now I have done it. He looks fearless. He feels fearless. He breathes fearless.

“If you ask me nicely Auror Potter...” his eyes that are shimmering like liquid mercury as they trace away from my eyes for a moment before they come back to settle on mine with strength that I have never seen him display before. His voice lowers even more when he speaks next

“… and I mean really nicely Auror Potter… I might be able to help you out with the ward that you find impossible to penetrate and how to erect but not how to dismantle it as that is not possible.”

Is he…flirting with me?

He is standing too close. Suddenly I am aware of his physical presence in all its aspects. It’s as if my hand that had lain on his chest the day before has a flesh memory, starts to tingle slightly as if it has a life of its own. What is it that is between him and me and is growing every time we lay eyes on each other. Why did I touch him? Why did he make me react so violently? Why do I feel so many conflicting things when it comes to him? Why did I defend him when I did when nobody else would do? Why do I not trust him now when everybody else does apparently? Why does the friction between us never die down for a single moment? Why am I analyzing what is going on between me and Malfoy when clearly more important matters need solution?

I keep telling myself to do one thing and do the exact opposite of what I should be doing. I can’t lose control like that. For all means and purposes whatever lies between us is too intense for me to fool about anymore without consequence. Consequences that I will be reviewing closely at a later time. Right now I need his cooperation and for that, I will have to stay on top of him. Knowing how easy it for him to just roll over and come on top, I have to change tactics.

“When it is a matter of life and death, I will do anything to solve the matter as swiftly as possible, even if I have to do something that is against the law. Life is above law and as it is, I was never a devout follower of rules so what makes you think I will follow any now?”

He looks at me in way that can only be described as contemplatively.

“Draco… someone who saved me once died tonight because of it, in a most brutal manner, let us not play these games anymore. I don’t want to harm or threaten you, but I will not hesitate if that is what I have to do to get to the fuckers who did this.” I know I am not a good actor so my best shot is honesty after all. Moreover it is the only thing that has the power of throwing Slytherins off their game.

“I know you can be a mean evil git, but you draw the line at death, it is the only reason I defended you at the trials, even if I thought you were dead.”

He raises an eyebrow at me as a small smirk of accomplishment plays on his lips. It reminds me too much of him back at school, when things were black and white between us and I had no urge to strangle him and apologize at the same time.

“Now that was not so difficult was it Potter?” he says as he steps away from me gesturing at me to take a seat on one of the many easy chairs littered around the room that I notice for the first time is surprisingly decorated in warm colors.

I am still taking in my surroundings when he presents me with a glass which contains what I believe to be fire-whiskey. I give him a skeptical look and he rolls his eyes in a very Malfoy manner.

“you think I am foolish enough to give a senior auror a spiked glass of firewhiskey whilst half dozen aurors stand just outside my door?” really?” the ruefull smile and sarcastic comments are helping me ground down for some strange reason. Familiarity I guess has a way to put you at ease. I take the glass from his offering hand, sipping slowly and feeling the drink scald on my tongue before it slithers down my throat warming me up. I open my eyes to see him sitting just across the coffee table watching me intently.

“So, are you going to tell me what I want to know any time tonight?” I ask settling down deeper into the arm chair.

“Not until you send the remaining aurors away.” He says plainly. I have no idea why every time our eyes meet I feel like I am in the middle of a battle of wills, will to do or not to do what? I have no idea.

After a few seconds of staring, flick my wrist as my wand slips smoothly into my hand from my wand holster.

I conjure my patronus and send the message out to the aurors that had accompanied me despite my refusal. Orders of the head-auror.

And then we sit staring at each other again. While sipping away from our respective whiskey glasses. Half a minute later a patronus in the shape of a beaver comes bounding in and informs me that the group is leaving before it dissolves. I have a sneaking suspicion that it was the patronus of the unfortunately named Harry Pontner. Another minute or two passes during which I look down into my almost empty whiskey glass.

“Now, that your little entourage is gone…”

“I need to know what this magic is? How you gained it? How you master it? And last but not the least, how you break it?” i know I sound hasty and desperate but I cannot afford playing his mind games tonight.

“This magic, which I am not sure is the same as the one that was cast around Dumbledore’s grave, is an evolved form of Thaumaturgy.”

“Thaumaturgy?”

“Yes, People usually only know its uses in spiritual healing magic, that is used by shamans and monks and church healers, the laying on hands? The spiritual channeling? Ringing any bells Potter? You were after all raised in the muggle world initially yes?  Usually used in the muggle world.”

“My relatives were not very religious Malfoy.” I say snappishly.

“Never mind…” he says waving his hand dismissively “…what you need to know is that what is used in the muggle world is just a little earth worm in comparison to the basilisk real Thaumaturgy is. Thaumaturgy is way beyond simple spiritual healing magic that charlatans use. It is the magic of the will. Magic that comes directly from your core. The magic that is inherent in all of us, but never used. In its most raw and uncontrolled form it is called accidental magic that magical children display. Before they are pushed into making their magic obey by means of a crutch that are aiding magical objects, such as your wand. In our persuasion of mediocrity, we have made sure that the fact that magic comes from the wizard and not the wand is ignored thoroughly.”

“Spoken like a true Slytherin Lord Malfoy.” I sneer at him.

 “Why Thank you Auror Potter. Any ways, before you start suspecting me of doing a Tom Riddle and fraternizing with Albanian Magjistarizis for seven years, I shall make clear that I learnt the discipline of Thaumaturgy during regaining my magic after losing it. I do not know why I survived the destruction of Voldemort. What I know is that it unleashed something in my magical core and for a while and whilst I thought I had lost my magic, it had only been destabilized.  I had to travel as far as Japan to get my magical core healed in the shrines of Shida Miryo*. The sorcerer-monks there use Thaumaturgy not only as healing magic but also defensive magic. It was rather simple for me to pick it up since I had totally lost my way in the conventional magical practice. I was a somewhat blank slate. Though my newly healed core was as stable as any proper adult wizard’s, my core was as pure because of its newness. So while I served them for healing me, they taught me the best and most effective defensive magic that can exist.”

The Idea I have to admit is very intriguing. I can only imagine what an advantage it can be to not be dependent on one’s wand. The theory he is telling me can challenge and revolutionize the way that magic is practiced in our world. NOW, to address the problem at hand. If this magic is such a unique and relatively singular ability, it can easily narrow down the list of suspects.

“Okay, I think I understand the basic concept, and I think such a unique kind of ability narrows down the lists of suspects, I hope you understand what I am getting at.”

He looks at me with an expression I can only describe as exasperation.

“Potter, tell me anything peculiar that you saw at the… crime scene. Was there any sort of signature? Or anything peculiar.”

“Dumbledore’s coffin was perched up on the roof of the tomb, and on the ledge were the latin word in fire scrawl, Qui salvabo vos salvator Potter it said, and a magical mark was suspended up in the air. A huge horned dragon with a wand in its mouth wrapped around the letter ‘M’”

Malfoy pales significantly at this. His jaw hardens and all of a sudden he looks almost as haunted as he did in the sixth year.

“well played…well played indeed. They just know how to play perfectly with the stiff british mentality regarding order and conspiracy. So very well played.” He mutters under his breath.

“Do you know who did this Malfoy?” I ask cautiously.

“Well… the thing is, to most it will seem as if I have done it. I mean, I have a special connection with Dumbledore’s death. I have the peculiar magic. The sordid history with you and also as a death-eater to boot, not to mention questionable whereabouts for past seven years and only my own solicitor as an alibi. I really appreciate the confidence you have shown me so far Potter.”

“It is rather instinctual; you know what they say about gut feelings and law enforcers.” I answer, feeling a little warm in the chest. Did I just make a joke? With Malfoy? A side of his mouth curves up in a half smile as his eyes sparkle.  

I wonder if I have made progress with what I had resolved when I had lain in my bed a little while before. Even if the following events had done everything to throw me off track. It’s as if the universe is against the idea of me being civil with Malfoy.

“So, what can you tell me about this whole…you know..”

“I know… but I am not sure if I can make any rapid connections here for you. Not unless I have seen the… crime scene myself. But I can assure you one thing, that whoever has done this, is a highly skilled wizard or witch and they are most probably not from Britain. Perhaps an up and coming Dark wizard looking for a challenge and arrogant enough to challenge the vanquisher of the last Dark lord. It was only a matter of time.”

What he says does make sense. But as I recall the details of the whole scene, I feel as if I am missing a link somewhere. My mind keeps going back to the words etched in the stone skirting in fire.

“Who is going to save you savior Potter?” the words said.

And the murder of Firenze.

I wonder why no Centaurs had come forward from the forbidden forest demanding vengeance. One of their own was killed tonight most brutally. As for

“Who is going to save you savior Potter?” The words said. I wonder what the link is between the three things.

Firenze, threatening me, Dumbledore’s coffin.

I was never awfully close to Firenze. Wizards and Centaurs have always had a strained relationship.

But…

Wait a second.

The night I had met Firenze for the first time, was the night I had come face to face for the first time with Voldemort in my first year as he was feeding on unicorn blood during detention with Hagrid.

Firenze was the first ever being who had saved me from the half dead form of Voldemort.

“Who is going to save you savior Potter?”

FUCK!

There are extremely few people who know about Firenze saving me from Voldemort in the first year as it is not common knowledge.

In fact, I am sure, I know exactly who knows or knew.

Dumbledore, McGonagall, Hagrid, Ron, Hermione, Firenze and Draco Malfoy…

But no, Malfoy shouldn’t know what happened; he had run away hadn’t he? But he had found Hagrid and had he come back with Hagrid, Ron and Hermione? Only he can tell. A feeling of dread fills me. The people who know and are still alive are the people I would trust my life with without a second thought, except Malfoy. Malfoy, who my gut tells me has nothing to do with this yet all things point towards. Is this an elaborate ploy to frame Malfoy? The perpetrator of the events tonight is not only an exceptional sorcerer but also a ruthless killer. And I know Malfoy is not a killer. He is different now than he was seven years ago, but it is just gained depth, not darkness. Had I not seen and touched his soul the way I had last afternoon, I might have not been so sure, now that I have, I am absolutely sure of my instinct.

But, I have to ask, I have to know.

I realize that I am staring into my empty whiskey glass. I look up from it to find Silver eyes trained on me.

“Do you remember our first year? When you got us all four detention from McGonagall for being out of bed after curfew and aiding Hagrid with the baby dragon?” I ask slowly placing the glass on the table that is between us.

He gives a little snort.

“Of course Potter, it was my first detention ever and first venture ever into the forbidden forest, and no matter what you say, it was extremely irresponsible of McGonagall to send a bunch of first years into the forbidden forest at night and even more irresponsible of Hagrid to split us up especially if you take into consideration exactly what we were looking for and what we encountered, a Unicorn killer. It really makes me wonder sometimes, and don’t you even try to make fun of me for running away, you would have done the same had you quicker reflexes and even a semblance of survival instinct, which was proven time and time again afterwards, that you don’t.”

I do agree with him. Especially now that I think about it. It was in fact criminally irresponsible of Hagrid, but it was not deliberate. Hagrid just has a skewered sense regarding safety and danger. But if I really think about it neutrally, and from the point of view of perhaps a parent. For example, if what happened to me had happened to Teddy, I would have chewed on the bones of those responsible. But that debate was for another time.

“I was not going to make fun of you, I do agree with what you say to some extent. But what I really want to ask you is, do you know how I survived in absence of my survival instinct? Without a scratch?”

His expression grows thoughtful as he inclines his head asking me to continue.

“Do you even know what was it that was killing the unicorns?” I ask him quietly.

“I wondered, but I have never given it serious thought, I was too busy…. With other things..”

“It was Voldemort. He was killing and drinking unicorn blood to survive until he could get his hands on the Sorcerer’s stone.”

“Through Quirell.”

“Yes, through Quirell.”

“So how did you survive?”

“It was Firenze, the centaur, he intervened just as Voldemort was about to attack me. Though I am sure Voldemort would have been unable to really harm me at that point since I was still under the protection of my mother’s ritual. The fact remains, that Firenze saved my life that night. Making him the first ever person to save me from mortal danger since my return to the wizarding world.”

I can literally see the cogs turning in his mind behind those silver eyes, processing the information I have just given him. I am not wrong in expecting him to have a considerable ability of deduction.

“it is not common knowledge is it? If it was I would have known it…”he pauses for a moment before the Latin comes flowing out his lips“…Qui salvabo vos salvator Potter?” He says. His accent much more refined than mine.

“Who is going to save you Savior Potter…” I translate quietly nodding my head.

“I don’t…” he pauses for a moment his wide eyes trained on me I see trepidation and disbelief.

“You don’t think it’s the Dark lord is it? Because with all the facts, it is either me or the dark lord, and even if no one believes me, I know it is not me. And if it’s not me then it’s him which makes me wish it was me!”

Despite his calm and rational demeanor I can see the storm in his eyes for a moment before he leans back against the backrest of the arm chair and rubs his eyes with the heels of his palms, his posture exhausted. I feel no different, I want to tear my own hair out. The mystery is more dangerous than I first thought. It is too close to home, too carefully thought out, too personal. I have not felt this frustrated in past seven years.

But, it must be worse for Malfoy. He has hardly returned home, struggling to get his bearings right, grieving for his parents, dealing with the media and Malfoy fortune, dealing with the ministry, dealing with my petty prejudice and now being framed for a murder. Thought, only I know the facts properly that point towards him. Seeing as I am the only one who can actually see the ward and recognize the similarity between the one at the tomb and the one at the manor. And if I keep Ron and Hermione distracted I can keep them from making the obvious connection. I still have all the cards in hand.

I realize what I am thinking and what I am about to do. I am once again going to defend Malfoy. Why? I refuse to think over that at the moment, deciding to brood over it at a later time.

“Voldemort is dead and I made sure there was no way for him to return, and I believe you, I know it is not you, after what I saw past afternoon…” his eyes snap towards me all of a sudden. A warning glint in there. Ah! So it is a sensitive topic. I would be fool if I did not think so, the deliberate mention of it would definitely distract him from the depression which I can see rapidly spreading above his head like a thunder cloud. I wonder why I am so concerned about him being depressed.

Because I am Harry Potter, with a sodding bleeding heart. And I am too Gryffindor to ignore innocence and feelings.

“I don’t think anyone would be able to make the connections I made tonight, and I don’t think those connections were meant to be made by anyone but me in the first place. I think the crime scene tonight was provocatively designed to lead me to you, which makes me wonder what mutual acquaintance do we both have that knows you and I both so intimately. Who is it that knows that Firenze saved my life that one time and who is it that is capable of casting magic similar to yours which in itself has never been seen here in this part of the world, if what you claim is correct. Because it is all too much for a coincidence.”

“I agree. But potter, the fact remains, no one knows of my peculiar magic, which is just an additional skill in the first place, like a wizard being an occlumens as well, it does not dominate my magic in anyway. If it was that way the testing at the ministry would have proven so. I did not even know my own identity for a long time, I would probably kill myself for telling you this later, but I went by the name of Drachen Silbern for almost five years. Which is what they named me, because of the Dragon pendant in my neck and my hair while I was in a coma for four months.”

“Drachen Silbern!?” is it just me or is it the night for silly names.

“Don’t!” he snaps at me, but I can see the thunder cloud of depression receding. It is almost surreal that I am sitting here in one of the countless sitting rooms at the Malfoy Manor teasing the new lord Malfoy who is my until-recently presumed-dead arch-nemesis as well. And despite the grave circumstances I am feeling rather warm and open, as if anything is possible.

“What are you going to do then?” he asks me after a few second of comfortable quiet.

“I…” yes Harry? What are you going to do then? Asks my inner-Hermione voice.

“…am going to sit on it for now, but I definitely need your help in figuring this out, that is if you are willing, I can ask Robards and Kingsley, who is apparently very fond of you to enlist the help of the inexhaustible and invaluable source of information that is… The Malfoy Library in investigating obscure dark magics.”

A single raised eye-brow is the immediate reaction of the plan that is apparently perfect and I have just improvised on the roll.

I AM BUGGERING BRILLIANT!

“The Malfoy library? You are going to enlist the help of the Malfoy library? And the Ministry would buy that?” he is genuinely intrigued and impressed; though I am sure it would kill him to admit it.

“I have inspected the Malfoy library seven times in past seven years Malfoy, the minister had me on the manor at least once a year under the illusion of looking for Dark magical artifacts. No one knows the resources the Malfoy library has better than me except perhaps you, believe it or not, i have spent seven weeks of my life in that library consolidated, and the excuse is better than any other. I can involve you in the investigation without really involving you. Of course your consent will be needed, which would make your cooperation with the ministry look even stronger. It’s the perfect excuse.”

“How very Slytherin of you Potter!” he says smirking deviously, eyes sparkling and mirthful. I can’t help but smirk back, which surprises him for some reason.

“Why Thank you Lord Malfoy!” I say repeating his own words. He looks at me incredulously

“You would find Lord Malfoy that things have changed a lot in seven years. One of the Bravest and most formidable wizards I have ever known in my life was a Slytherin. You cannot anger me by pointing out Slytheriness in me, since I can only picture him when I picture Slytherin, and I would be more than proud to possess even a little bit of the metal he was made of.”

“Is that so? I remember you calling us Slytherins sadists not very long ago…”

“And I was not wrong…” I say simply. He nods his head in acceptance. Taking no offence at all.

 “I am glad to hear that my sadistic God father finally gets the respect he deserves, even if it is in death.” he says solemnly, sadness clouding his expression again.

 

I take a deep breath, my eyes inadvertently move to the window to see the faint glow of sunrise and I know I should leave now. I really should. I slowly stand up. Straightening my scarlet robes running a hand through my hair, it is no use and it surely looks like a bird’s nest. Am I stalling? The thought pushes me forward quickly.

“I have to go now, I will be wanted at the headquarters shortly. You will most probably get an owl from the Head Auror Robards in a few hours, asking for the permission to use the library, accept it if you will.” He looks up at me for a few seconds, a strange look in his eyes before he stands up gracefully.

“I don’t think that would be necessary, I have an appointment in the Department of Mysteries in a few hours and then Lunch with the minister, in celebration of gaining full possession of my assets and being officially declared sole executor of all Malfoy affairs. I am sure you can... intercept me.” He says quietly as we walk out of sitting room.

“I think that can be arranged…” then it makes me wonder “…What do you have to do with department of Mysteries by the way?”

“You mean to say Granger hasn’t told you?” he asks me with a certain nonchalance.

“Hermione? No, if its related to her job then she wouldn’t, she is an unspeakable after all.”

“An unspeakable that everyone speaks of…” he snorts derisively. As we stride in the direction of the reception hall.

“Indeed, but an unspeakable who speaks of, to no one…” for some reason I cannot find it in me to rise to the bait.

“If you say so, but as it is, I don’t think it is any of your business really.” He says shrugging his shoulders indifferently. For some reason it affects me more than the baiting.

Yea, you are stupid Harry. He cooperated with you because he is in a fix; don’t read too much into his civility. It is not as if you are friends just because you are exchanging help.

“Oh right, sorry, not supposed to talk about department of mystery stuff.” I say easily, acting indifferent by being sheepish, I see a little frown on his face before it’s a smooth mask covers it again. Just as we enter into the reception hall and move towards the tall and wide floo place. An elf is already present by the Floo dropping a little floo powder to get things going. 

“So, I’ll be seeing you at the ministry in a few hours?” he asks me as I flick my wrist and hold out my faith full wand in hand, a necessity if I am flooing to my home from an unknown floo place. I look up at him to see that strange expression again.

“err… no, actually that won’t be necessary, I will make sure that Robards catches you in the minister’s office at lunch, he can get the permission from you then, in front of the minister. My presence is not necessary. I need to file in and review the paper work, and since this is my first day after a week off I will be too busy. Why don’t you take the time and do a little profiling of possible suspects, people who might have the knowledge involved and all yea?” he wanted indifference, he will get indifference. I admit it is not satisfying at all, but it is a game he and I are cursed to play forever it seems.

I step into the floo taking the floo powder in hand before I turn to face him, his mask is up as I incline my head in a silent farewell and throw the powder in. Ignoring a certain uncharacteristic and out of place tightness in his jaw and my chest.

 


 

 

I like to think that I am private person. Despite the relentless tries of the outside world, I remain concealed in my own little world. Sometimes its solitude is overbearing but at other times it’s safe. I like to think that within this world, I am free to do as I please. I have everything under my control. Even the mysteries that I allow in every other corner to come across me, I know that I can solve them easily, but I don’t, knowing that I chose to keep them mine, my own, with full authority over their unfolding.

I think this particular quirk comes from the fact that my whole life was controlled by a prophecy. I never had a chance to make my own choices and had to rely on a pre-ordained path, set out for me in result of a Mad man’s path to eternal damnation. I think that acute sense of not being in control of my own fate is what triggers this fierce indulgence now in keeping the formation of plebian things that keep me fascinated a mystery. One of such plebian things that I find fascinating and mysterious are ‘glass marbles’. They have always fascinated me since I found the first one with blue and green swirls chipped and dirty just by the seesaw in the garden near The Dursley’s house when I was hardly six. It was a peculiar little thing and I adored it, I kept it in the pocket of my large trousers and made sure to never take it out in front of Dudley. Dudley in turn had a jar full of them, but those were plain and ugly, nothing compared to my glass marble with its blue and green swirls that reminded me of the topping swirls that Dudley always got on his gigantic ice cream cones, only those were never in green and blue color.

I used to watch it in the dim light inside my cupboard for hours at end, turning it this way and that, wondering how the swirls got in there and if I were to touch them would they be soft or hard or, that glass marble was a mystery, inside it was a mystery world that I wished to visit, be a part of. And then it became true, and I did visit a world that was just as fascinating as the swirls in that chipped old glass marble and just as enclosed. But that world came with its own setoff problems. So the mystery of the glass marble remained intact. After the war I found a small store in Muggle London just as I was walking around aimlessly that sold special handmade glass marbles called ‘Diana’s glass art emporium’. It was as if a doorway had opened for me. I now have a collection of over three hundred glass marbles in different sizes and designs, but what I never did was learn how they were made. NO, I avoided that information like the plague. The first time the glass marble shop owner who made them as well invited me into his workshop I told him very plainly, that I did not ever want to know how they are made. I just want to buy them, hold them and admire them. He looked perplexed for a few minutes and was reserved with me after that, but I was not there for his friendly behavior, or to ease his curiosity, I was there for the marbles.

I roll one of my favorite marbles which is almost size of a golf ball in my hand. Its weight is a comfort in my hand. I watch it carefully and thoughtfully. It has been a birthday gift from the shop owner and the birthday card alongside it has said that the inspiration for this piece had come from my eyes and my mysterious persona. I had been extremely surprised by the piece itself as it was done in most brilliant emerald green and silver dust. It could have been a co-incidence that the piece was in exact slytherin colors and even the design where the silver swirls were the central core, the bottom was done in brilliant green snake skin pattern. A mystery, within a mystery.

The door to my office opening brings me out of my brooding. The afternoon light illuminating my office is enough to tell me that it is probably Ron with a query regarding lunch. It is Ron, but it is not regarding Lunch apparently, not if he is fidgeting the way he is.

“Harry! There you are! I have been looking all over for you, Robards has called an emergency meeting just now during lunch break and I figured the memos were stuck outside your door.”I see a few hovering behind Ron’s head

“He says he needs to discuss something about the tomb case in conference room ten in five minutes. So I think we better get going eh?” he fidgets some more when he notices the marble in my hand. I know he feels nervous when I am in a mood like this. Usually grieving.

At the crack of dawn, just as I was stepping out of a very hot shower at my home my magic had indicated that the observation wards I had casted around the transparent ward encircling the tomb were dissolving. It had taken me less than Twenty minutes to get there again kudos to my faithful Firebolt. The wards had gone down at the exact moment of sunrise. The scene inside the tomb was even more ghastly that I had imagined. A cutting curse which had almost decapitated the centaur. There had been no magical restraints, but only a dim magical residual from a paralysis curse. Once the centaur was dead, a very complex stasis charm had been placed on the dead body which had also dissolved at sunrise, in result of which when we had finally made our way inside to the dead centaur splayed at the altar like a sacrificial offering, the body had still been warm.

It was that warmth that had stayed with me like a shadow, all through morning as I went through the necessary motions, the warmth had remained, infecting me, haunting me, I wanted to freeze it off, but it would not go away. Even as I spoke with McGonagall and Hagrid and Neville. The warmth  stayed in place.

Luna had been waiting for me when I had reached the Headquarters finally. To file in all the information. I don’t know what questions she asked me and what answers I gave her on auto-pilot. I was only aware of anything once she was off to venture into the forbidden forest; to reach for the pack of Centaurs Firenze belonged to. Centaurs who were still a no show on their own at the brutal death of one of their own. It was common knowledge that they did not appreciate Firenze teaching Divinity at Hogwarts. They considered divinity a holy practice a way of life to be only preserved and kept with in centaurs. Still, he was accepted in the pack and ran with them during the summer vacations. 

A mystery, within a mystery.

“Hmmm...” I put the marble back in its black lacquered octagonal case, lined with silver colored silk.

I get up picking the file and the copies of it underneath, I had prepared regarding the case. Information clearly classified and mentioned, keeping Draco Malfoy out of the loop at all costs.

I have explained earlier to Robards that I had gone to the Malfoy Manor to consult the library, and laid a good foundation hoping that the head auror has already asked Malfoy, officially.

“The word around is that about an hour ago a team of Common wealth magical law enforcers arrived at Robards’ but you know how memos travel here, I would not be surprised if it’s just some consultant from Belgium or something. I mean they say ‘Intercon hit-wizard’ when Krum arrives, so I don’t know.”

“Krum is an Intercon hit-wizard Ron.” I say dismissively.

“Yea, but he is Krum…” I give him a sardonic look before I snort. He visibly relaxes after that.

“Speaking of Krum.” I nudge Ron to look up from where he is fidgeting in his robes pocket to where Krum stands in all his Intercon Hit-Wizard glory, his ice blue formal uniform robes pristine and severely cut. Those ice blue uniform robes are one of the most coveted robes for any young wizard who wishes to become a law enforcer.

“Harry…Ronald, old friend! How do you do?” enclosing us both in that non-touching, shoulder squeezing side-hug that these Bulgarians do. Peculiar greeting methods. It still surprises me highly to hear how much the competitive Bulgarian’s English accent has improved.

“Exhausted mate, absolutely exhausted.” Ron answers while I am just trying to give him a smile that does not look like a grimace.

“I know, it is terrible news, but…” he is interrupted mid-sentence when the double doors of the conference room rolled open and Adrien Pucey who is the secretary to the head auror signals us in. We follow through the warded corridor towards the entrance of the main conference room. Conference room Ten, also known as Alastor Moody Conference room. Moody, another one who died in the name of Savior Potter. I am brought out of my thoughts as we enter the conference room to see more than twenty people already seated around the table a few are standing as well. My mind is already abuzz as I hand the file to Adrien and take my seat next to where Robards is already in place feeling more than seeing Ron and Krum taking seat next to mine. I shoot a look around the room taking in the few grey robes of the Unspeakables, spying Bill’s long red hair, head is turned away from me in deep conversation with Hermione. Percy is scribbling down something on the other side of Hermione, two ministry arguers in beige robes and two square jawed and broad shouldered freckled and dirty blond haired men who look like really sophisticated club bouncers, with expressionless faces, their blue eyes fixed on me,  clad in pitch black robes. So these are the Common wealth magical law enforcers the word around has been about. I shoot a glance at Ron who looks back at me almost at the same time with I am sure almost the same expression.

“Blimey! Look at the size of the muscles on those. What purpose are the muscles around your neck? Seriously?” I wanted to snort at Ron, before I notice the empty chair between the bouncers and Robards, facing me. I do not get the chance to look around for the designated occupant of the chair though, as severely cut and black robes with an endless array of buttons fill my vision as the Man pulls the chair back to be seated in.

I rarely react to people’s appearance, but this one forces it out of you. He is what I imagine Norse god Thor to look like, not as bulky as the pictures I had seen of the deity suggest, but at Six feet four, this one looks formidable enough, even with the lean and toned build. Golden blonde hair are tied away from his face to show a proportionately broad forehead and slightly darker blond eyes brows which are a perfect frame to the most bizarre shade of penetrating ice-blue eyes I have ever beheld in my life and Dumbledore’s twinkling blues had been legendary. These ones are piercing, calculating and devious. This is not a wizard to be messed with, I can tell by the amount of magic I can feel around him.

“Ah Harry, here you are!” Robards has finally noticed my presence, breaking me away from the staring match with Thor incarnate who is right in my face, a smirk spread subtly on that extremely structured and chiseled face, with those incredibly eerie ice-blue eyes.

“Sir.” I inclined my head in deference.

“I would like you to meet Common wealth Magic Law enforcer Mr. Erik Stoltorm, Mr. Stoltorm; this is Auror Harry Potter… I am sure you have heard of him.” I am glad that Robards has not gone with that boy-who-lived-to-be-the-savior-of-the-wizarding-world.

“I have indeed Auror Robards. It is an honor to meet you finally Auror Potter.” His voice is softer than you would imagine on a man of his stature, but it is not wrong on him in any way. He puts forward a hand across the narrow end of the oval table. I reach out for his hand and grasp it firmly. His magic is muted for some reason, if the magic surrounding him just seconds ago was anything to go by. I am glad for no electric jolts or any such nonsense like what happened with Malfoy yesterday. No surprise here. That is before my eyes find the silver pin latched on the lapel of his robes.

Stoltorm… the name did sound familiar.

A coiled basilisk with fangs bared and yellow topaz for eyes.

Takes me to the oldest tome of genealogical records I had found in my home.

‘And none more dark and proud than the mighty Stoltorms, from which Salazar Slytherin himself descended.’

Oh no…


 

 

-          Shida Miryo* - Enchanted fern

A wizarding town in Japan and also home to the sorcerer-monks.(my own creation)

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Wafaoon ki hum say tawwaqu nahi hai

Magar aik baar aazma ker to daikho

Zamanay ko apna bana ker to daikha

Hamein bhi tum apna bana ker to daikho

 

(You don't expect my devotion to last...

But be kind enough to give in to me once..

You have made the world bow to your will...

Save a little compassion for I already am kneeling in your love...)

 

 

 

 

He knew he should have patrolled this part of the estate first thing on the shift. His father always told him that this was the most dangerous part of it and should be patrolled before midnight at all costs. But he had been held up by the Avery and Bishop grimy, dirty sods that they were. He had to dodge all inappropriate touching, wand and hands and deliver them to their designated rooms before Rabastan got air of it. Then ONLY Draco would be in trouble and that vile animal was nothing short in cruelty than his brother or his sister-in-law. He was only quieter about it, which made him more dangerous in books of Draco.

Of all the nights it had to be this night that all possible obstacles and delays found his way. He had been dreading this patrol route for the whole past week since it had been assigned. He looked up at the dark cold starry sky; It felt as if the constellations themselves were warning him of danger ahead. There was nothing to it, he glanced up to find the Moon just a point short of full. As he incanted the night-vision charm Severus had taught him. It was very useful magic, there was no doubt, but after a while it gave him a bad headache.

The “Coppice” as it was called for some odd reason was rif with Dark magic of its own. Despite its rather economic size, the woodland covered enough area to be home to numerous kinds of Magical creatures. It was one of the reasons that the Dark lord had been so keen on making the Manor his headquarters. The natural defense the woodland provided for the southern border of the estate was quite genius of his ancestors. His senses on high alert and wand at the ready in the dead cold of the night, he slowly stepped onto the dirt pavement leading into the woods.

It had not snowed in a week for some strange reason but that only meant that it was even more colder than when it actually snowed. He hastily re-casted a second warming charm around him, alongside I silencing charm on his feet that were making too much noise crunching over dead leaves. He was hardly hundred feet into the coppice when he felt the change in air. It was heavy, muted and full of malice as if he could taste the metallic taste of it on the tip of his tongue. He stopped in his trek. Looking around carefully. It was like smelling despair and helplessness. Like someone calling out to you when you are under water. He moved along the trek a little slowly wand clutched in hand all senses on high alert and then it hit him out of nowhere. Pain and death. It washed over and through him like bucket of chilled water, only there was no form to it, heavier than air, more liquid than water. He felt his dormant sixth sense waking up to full capacity. It told him that someone was dying nearby… No, someone was being painfully killed.

The sixth sense Severus had been talking to him about continuously. It was finally speaking to him the way it was supposed to. It guided him deeper into the woods as the moonlight grew scarce and scarce and he was hard-pressed to cast the night vision charm and then he started to hear the grunts. Strained, snarling and rhythmical. He had not heard a sound like it before but against all his sense of preservation he kept moving towards it, lead on by the feeling of death and despair bubbling under his fingers, fluttering under his eyes lashing, fiddling around his heart. Desperate like a clinging child. The soul being ripped was innocent, benign, he could tell by its texture.

He detected a small clearing up ahead just a few meters off the weak dirt trail and there washed in moon light he could see something moving as well. He thought he had braced himself enough in the past few minutes to be prepared to see whatever was happening, but nothing in the world could have prepared him for what he actually saw. A hulking figure, naked to the nines and hairy as the monsters from the worst nightmares was kneeling behind and rutting savagely into something that could have once been a human, but was now only a bleeding slob of flesh. Draco froze on the spot. The small thin legs by which the monster was guiding himself savagely inside were all wrong angled, broken savagely the small pale back was missing chunks of flesh clearly a chew toy for the monster the small thin arms were spread out, the finger bloody and splintered where they must have tried to catch hold to escape. Draco had seen plenty of horrors by then, but this transcended any level of cruelty that he could possibly have imagined. The roar of ecstasy that finally came from the rutting beast finally stole all strength from Draco’s leg as they curled under him.

He did not even notice when strong arms took hold of him and broke his fall. He only remembered the familiar smell of potions and soap, for some reason, the comfortable embrace made what he saw much more real and horrifying and it was a few hours later that Draco found that the slob of flesh was a fourteen year old Adrian Flint, who he helped sometimes with Third year potions. A week later Draco came close to following the fate of Adrian Flint. It was only natural that a few months later, when Draco sat on the Monster’s chest and drove the knife in, he felt no regret in turning the monster into a slob of dead flesh. 


The katana*, My Daitan’na (bold one) as I call her fondly, my friend, one of the only possessions that has travelled back with me to this world. It is a friend, a co-conspirator, a dance partner a very sharp, subtle and deadly associate. Inlaid with light magic so sharp that it can cut through the deadliest of dark magic, it is of course, its sharpness that has one speculating over the true nature of its magic. Sharpness in all its stances is uncaring; it only cuts through, deep and thorough, bowing to the will of its yielder.

It has been almost a month since I danced with my old companion and this morning after the night I have just concluded, I find myself craving for it. I need her neutrality; I need her obedience and control to ground my alarmingly tumultuous emotions. Lack of control, my disconcertion. How could I have ever believed that I could stay in control when it came to ‘him’, I don’t know. I don’t know why I keep making the same sodding mistake every time around.

 

She cuts through the still air, her steel a deadly bolt of lightning in the morning light that filters through the glasses of the sunroom. Its fluid and smooth in its purpose, more than a weapon she is an extension of my arm, I can taste the air she is cuts through, though I can taste nothing else. Her supple black and grey Dragon hide grip feels sure in my hand, and the 30 inch blade, especially designed because of my height is beautiful curved and squared at the guard, but it’s the silver stained Norman Silverback dragon emblem on the helm of the blade that shows her true nature, our true nature. We are quiet, devoted, vicious and absolutely devious! It is no wonder that it was passion at first sight between me and Daitan’na. She speaks to me and calms me when I need it.

I slice through the air, letting my magic a little lose through the blade. Its lashes out like a hunter reaching a few feet beyond the reach of the blade, its blinding silver color muted in the shining light from the sun outside, still bright enough to leave a stain behind one’s eyes lids. I whip it out again, pushing more magic through it and the reach of the sharp whip of lightning increases a bit more. I levitate the worn and cancelled peacock garden statue with my free hand before I swirl the blade around me forming a revolving ring of sharp magical lighting around me as I move constantly in the orbital pattern around the room and let the Garden statue fly with all might of magic that I can spare towards myself. The statue incinerates to dust before it even touched the swirling and whipping magic around me.  

 The swirl of sharp magic that is cutting savagely through air and my constant movement is warming me but not enough to make me forget the warmth from a few hours ago when he sat in front of me in his scarlet auror robes and when he said that single word.

‘Don’t think about it!’

That single word. One of my deepest wish, uttered so carelessly from his lips in a moment of desperation. A plead.

The light swirls and swirls around me, a blink of a miss and I might be cutting through a whole chunk of the sunroom and slice it right off.

All it takes is one word.

“Draco…”he called me last night.

‘Don’t think about it!’ my mind screams at me

“Draco…”

‘stop it before you destroy something.’

“Draco…” like a whisper a caress. A plead? A call for help? A manipulation? An understanding?

“I know you can be a mean evil git, but you draw the line at death!”

 his words echo through my psyche and I know that what has never happened since the day I held Daitan’na in my hand is about to happen now. I lose balance.

I don’t even feel it when the swirling ring of lighted whip cuts through my skin. I am only concentrating again on putting barriers around the now stationed whipping sharp magic tornado, so that the whole manor does not come down with sheer power of the magic. Once the barriers are in place, I lower my Katana towards the floor, breaking the link between the swirling magic and the blade which has been acting as a magical conductor; much like a wand does for a wizard.  Now to cool and stop the magic, I raise the blade again this time not pushing my own magic into it, I simply lash it through the deadly swirls. It comes down, cutting the circulation of spinning magic, but only I know the amount of concentration it has taken me. It would have been most satisfying. Knowing that I can cut through the confines of my own magic by sheer power of my own will, had I not lost control in the first place.

He thinks I draw the line at death and murder.

He has trusted me because of that perception only.

What will happen when he finds out that I have committed murder? In cold blood? Without blinking?

And he will find out, in very near future. There is no avoiding it.

No matter what the circumstances, purpose, or who was the victim? A murder remains a murder.

He would never forgive me for it, I know for sure. A murder remains a murder. A murder done with a special purpose, all faculties present, in a calculated and controlled manner is even worse.

It is undeserved trust that Potter places on me. I have not asked for it and when push comes to shove, I will tell him so. You cannot just assume things about people and then accuse them when they turn out to be different.

I do not know what good that argument will do. It will certainly not help me in the long run. Murder remains murder. And the one that I still don’t regret?

I mean we are talking about the boy wonder that vanquished the dark lord with a disarming spell.

 

The light dissolves around me into invisible smoke as I wave the Katana once more and take down the barriers.

The slick feeling of fabric against my left thigh makes me notice the considerable cut on my waist, its deep and bleeding profusely enough to have soaked my lose trousers all the way to my knee. My alert battle stance muscles are not helping along much.

“m-m-master?” I hear the house-elf squeak behind me. I turn and walk swiftly towards the table where lies my first wand, which no longer holds me as his first and foremost master, which is just as well at the moment as my own raw magic is still too unstable to heal me. A non-compliant wand will tone down the discrepancies, as it will clamp down on my magic and cast the healing magic perfectly.

Emenden vulnare” I trace the wand alongside the edges of the wound as the muted magic flows out of its tip in a clear yellow light stitching the skin back together flawlessly, I can feel the wand straining and protesting under the weight of my still wild magic. I look around the glass fortress which is what this Sunroom is actually, for damages. Probably the strongest and most heavily protected part of the manor. There are limitations to the practice room down in the basement and I have no intentions of spending any more time there than necessary.

I know the information that I have given Potter last night with not satiate him for long, since the culprits behind the attack are not going to stick to the simple benign Thaumaturgy. Nope, the culprits will use a darker and more obscure form of magic the next time they want to target Potter, just for the sake of befuddlement.

No, the target is not really Harry at all, the target actually is one ‘Draco Malfoy’. Yes the ultimate goal is to have Harry disposed of, but the culprits are smart enough to know that as long as I breathe, Harry will be untouchable. I know who it is, I know how far they are willing to go. It is destiny of course. I can see a time in future when Harry would wish he had died alongside Voldemort.

Voldemort was a man with a grudge and just a little above par magical talent. His anger and hatred where drove him forward also were his biggest weakness. Voldemort was powerful, but he was temperamental to the point of fault. He invoked fear in his subject, never loyalty and respect. Which in the end became the reason for his downfall, not to mention that the opposing side was bound to win with the genius of Albus Dumbledore, sneakiness of Severus Snape and singular Bravery of Harry Potter on their side. I would like to mention myself in the list to, considering how big my contribution was and had I not made that contribution the war could not have ended, but I would be lying. I was not on the opposing side of Voldemort, I was only on Potter’s side.

The culprit behind this attack though is nothing of the sort. He holds no grudges, only ambition. His magical talent is blessed by powers, wizard in this world can’t dream of. He has no anger and hatred, only cold ideology and thirst for power. Otherwise the magic he used would not have worked in his favor at all. The only way to foil the magic that way is to believe in what you are doing is right. It is the magic of the wills after all. The culprit is ruthless and without emotions which makes him a far more dangerous opponent than Voldemort ever was. And he will be relentless when it comes to Potter. His followers are loyal and devoted to their master and the ideology.

There will be no spies.

 During today Potter will finally get the idea of what he is dealing with but it will take time for it to show just what is the magnitude of trouble he is in.

“Who will save you savior Potter?” I repeat the words deep in thought. As I climb up the stairs towards my bedroom. I notice the house-elf scrambling on my side to keep up with me and makes me pause.

“Yes monk?”

“Master, Two owls from the ministry came bearing these letters and also an eagle Master, but Monk is too afraid of the Eagle master, the talons be too sharp and the magic of the bird too strong, Monk do not know what to do with it so monk send it to the western terraces.” The elf looks properly shaken.

“What color is the bird?” I ask the elf carefully.

“Brown and gold Master. It is a …”

“Yes Monk it is a descendant of the Turul* if I am not wrong in assuming.” I swiftly turn towards the Western wing and step out on to the Terrace.

There it is, perched majestically on the carved banister, looking like the king of the Air and birds. Its Golden brown feathers gleam in a liquid sheen in the morning light. The bird is gigantic and fierce looking with its gold colored plume. It’s a truly magnificent creature to behold. So proud, elegant and menacing. Only an extremely powerful wizard can have a magical creature like a Turul for a familiar. And as it is, I know just who this one might belong to.

As I step closer, the bird finally deigns to look at me and cocks its head to the side as if it is expecting something. I incline my head in a greeting. You can go horribly wrong with these creatures if you are disrespectful or too modest. I am the lord of this manor, and as such I bow to no one in my own home. One mistake per life time like the one with the Hippogriff, I think is enough to learn the lesson when it comes to birds.

I was a whiny little shit back then. Nothing of that remains anymore.

After a moment of what seems like careful deliberation, the bird inclines its head as well and suddenly it is spreading out its wing in a most majestic fashion, showing off its exquisite brown, golden and black pattern letting out a shriek that is not as high but very deep and vibrating before it disapparates in a thunderclap, leaving nothing but a cloud of gold dust behind.

These old-bloods and their fancy business cards!

For all I know he might have just invited himself for dinner.


 

“Mr. Malfoy? She will see you now.” The old dragon of a lady that sits guarding the offices of the department of Mysteries gestures towards me with a shake of her primly made up head. Her eyes hazel eyes behind horn-rimmed glasses are stern and suspicious. I get up from the uneasy chair in the waiting area and give her my most charming smile as I saunter towards the entry way of a corridor inlaid with obscenely black granite. It’s all very nauseating.

“It’s the third door down to the left.” Is the instruction which is more of a grunt than a proper sentence. Doris Peabody as her badge introduced, trusts no one and could easily give Severus a run for his money in being unwelcoming. I think it is mostly to unnerve the stray visitor once in a while who is already spooked by the reputation of the department. It is all very endearing I suppose.

The strange thing though is there are no people milling about here. The place is pristine. There are no memo planes flying about and the silence is ultimate. That is for an ordinary wizard.

I on the other hand am a totally different story.

In the five minutes that I just had to wait in the waiting area, I have already figured out the wards, the charms, the matrices that are  inlaid deep within the black as night granite and also how to dismantle every one of them. Obscuring charms, Disillusionment charm, perspective modification spells, Aura detecting wards, silencing wards, befuddlement hexes, Quantum capacitation matrix (which I personally think is a stroke of genius and maybe the only mystery present here for a wizard) florelli’s stellular convolution matrix, it’s all here in these walls, cast over time and time again…

“Mr. Malfoy?” the third door down on the left is occupied by Granger clad in standard and neat grey Unspeakable robes as she is looking at me expectantly. No, not Granger anymore, Weasley now.

“Mrs. Weasley” I incline my head in greeting at her as she leads me inside what seems to be her office.

It is as expected filled with books, but not in a state of chaos. The walls are a pale soothing green though the floor is the same slippery black granite. She points me to a chair as she goes around her mahogany work station. A blue folder placed in front of her which clearly has my name labeled on it accompanied with a rectangular glass case in which lies the Hand-mirror I submitted as a prototype memo-mirror I wish to patent. Apparently.

My reasons for this whole façade is to get close to Granger. If things are to go the way they are destined to go then Granger would be one of the best allies to have. I am sure she still holds the same strong relationship with Potter that she always has if the pictures framed on her wall are anything to go by which has Potter in most of them. The standard wedding picture, A chubby blue eyed red haired baby picture in a bubble gum pink jumper, Then a little two year old girl clinging to Potter’s neck as he holds a brown haired blue eyed baby in his arms, who sneezes lightly making both Potter and the little girl smile down delightedly at him. Then there is Weasley and wife carrying the two children who are a little more grown now, a bushy red haired little girl of five, who looks a lot like the Weaslette and a chubby brown haired boy who reminds me of the Weasley Twins. There is also one with Potter and Teddy Lupin and the two children.

“A sweet-looking family there.” I compliment when I notice her looking at my inspection of the family pictures.

“Thank You, a girl and a boy, Rose and Hugo.”

“Nice names too. Say, Rose would not be in honor of Weasley’s not-so-secret crush on Madame Rosemerta now would it?” she laughs light-heartedly at the suggestion.

“No, I named her actually. After my own mother.” She answers easily. I nod at her.

“I must congratulate you first of all Malfoy, for the fully restored Malfoy fortune and title and social standing that comes with it. I hope you will do good with it.” She smiles at me, all nobility and sincerity apparent in those curious brown eyes and this time it is unmistakable as I have no suggestive charm cast today, not like I had done at the funeral. No, this is her rational and willing reaction to me. I should have known.

 I wonder how she could be so nice to me after the way I used to treat her at Hogwarts. The name calling, the bullying, the threatening. I was such a cruel child and here she sits, congratulating me for the restoration of my wealth and status, when I and my family had been on the side of the war would not have thought twice before casting the killing curse on the likes of her.

My own aunt had tortured this girl in the house I just came from and here she sits. No judgment, all acceptance. It is making my skull ache.

“Thank you.” It comes out more defensively than I want. She just smiles in return before she opens the folder in front of her with my name on it.

“Now, I must say, that this here, is an invention that can bring about revolutions in crime solving and applied security and at the same time bring about the worse case ever of invasion in people’s privacy which in itself is a crime of course. So while I want to give you a standing ovation for a pure stroke of genius that is the idea of a Memo-mirror as you call, I am also somewhat wary of its consequences.” She is still smiling at me in that sweet manner which is making me more uncomfortable by the minute. I remember the punch I got in the face in the third year very clearly thank you very much. I would never be easy around Hermione Weasley nee’ Granger.

“Which is why I wanted you to be the one to be attending to the patenting process. I do not want money Mrs. Weasley, you know as of yesterday I have more of it than most people can even dream of. I am willing to keep this an enveloped patent with Ministry as the sole executor of its uses and applications and I its sole producer. I would understand if you don’t believe that my intentions are innocent given our past record, but it is what it is and I sincerely, just want to give back for the acceptance I have found back here since my return, I could have kept it under wraps, I could have used it to my advantages if I wished so, and the ministry would be none the wiser but I haven’t done so…”

“Which can also mean that you have much more dangerous means and inventions at your disposal and all you really need is a small cover and ministry’s trust for your bigger and more sinister plans…” Ah! There is the Granger I know and trust. I smile at her exactly the way she is smiling at me. Before I spread my arms wide.

“You are welcome to search my home. I have already given my foreign contacts to the Minister. I have been interrogated under Veritaserum and to be honest, I do not need to prove myself any more to anyone than I already have, but if there is some other method that you think will help you gain confidence about the benignity of my intentions then by all means, I am open to all suggestions.” I leer at her in a way that she would expect the old Draco Malfoy to do. Now the sickly sweet smile turns into a mirthful one. This is the chartered territory, right here.

“How about legilimency? Will you be open to that suggestion?” she leans forward, her chin placed in her hands and her elbows settled on the shiny table top. I lean forward in a similar fashion before I answer her question.

“I thought you of all people would know better than to suggest that to the God-son and apprentice of Severus Snape. It should not come as a shock to you Weasley if I say that you would not have a legilimens strong enough to breach even the natural occlumency defenses of my mind. And with the added skills I gained in Shida Miryo, it is impossible to breach my mind even if I lay it out on a platter for the legilimens of your choice. It was the only magical skill that I did not lose after the magical backlash. In fact, it was my occlumency that saved my mind from going insane and guarding my own magic from lashing out.”

She simply smiles at me. Before she gets up from her chair.

“Very well Malfoy, you will have to come with me to one of the containment rooms, where you will verify the formula so that it can be sealed in memory before we will both sign the enveloped patent certification. Which I will then forward to the head of the department and then to the minister of magic to be stamped. Afterwards you can seal my memory of the verification of the formula in presence of two witnesses and sign the rest of the paper work as well.”

Mission accomplished.

 It’s a fairly trouble-free and clatter-free process than I would have expected. From what I heard of it when I was young it took months to come through, but so much has changed since and as I see it now the ministry’s functionality is much more toil free than it has ever been. The politics may be the same. The execution has definitely improved, especially in this department. I have no doubt that the witch leading me towards what looks to be a containment chamber is the one responsible for it.

It takes us less than hour to verify, sign, stamp and seal the last of which required two witnesses. A Jadette Monroe and Timothy Sheldon, from administration. 

 


 

Before long I am sitting in front of the Minister in the parlor adjacent to the office suite sipping tea just after a ‘celebratory lunch’ which was supposedly delicious. But you know how I have to lie about those things.

“I think it would be good for you to attend the Prophet’s annual charity gala at the end of the week. To reintroduce yourself into society. It is one of the most well-organized events of the year and anybody who is worth knowing is going to be there and from what I have heard you are already a darling with the press, with that competition with Potter heating up on Witch’s weekly. You’ll be most welcome.”

I don’t if I should smile, or take offence, because I have no idea if it is me, who encourages such ridiculous conversation out of the MINISTER OF FUCKING MAGIC or is the FUCKING MINISTER OF MAGIC himself is plebian enough to lick the copies of Witch’s weekly. If this is what the ‘seat’ does to one of the most assertive and brilliant aurors Britain ever produced, then I do not know if it is a privilege or a curse.  Father always blamed Fudge’s foundation in Hufflepuff for being the reason of his ineffective governance (Father’s exact words were licking Dumbledore’s ridiculous boots instead of ‘ineffective governance’)  but as far as I know Kingsley Shacklebolt was a Gryffindor an ex-auror and most tight-fisted of them all. And here he is, giving me pointers on how to re-introduce myself in society like a fifth or sixth year Hufflepuff girl, only thing missing is obscene chewing on Brighties Pinkly pixie gum and pink ribbons!

Yes I think this is punishment for snogging a few of those in fifth year as bribes for not telling on them in the days I was in the inquisitorial squad. Oh Misery!

I am thankfully spared of saying anything in acknowledgement of that as the Minister’s assistant comes rushing in at that moment and say something in the minister’s ear.  The minister simply nods in return a somber expression taking over his face. At last! The assistant rushes out the same way as he has entered.

“Mr. Malfoy, I hope you would not mind for us to have some company over I hope.”

“By all means Minister, in fact if it is an inconvenience I shall take my leave.”

“Oh no, You are going to be involved in the case any way so it is just as well that you stay.” He says standing from his easy slouch into a commanding figure inside a minute. I would have analyzed the it more keenly but for the sudden surge of warmth in my chest.

Ah so Potter is the company. So much for the nonchalant “I am too busy to see you at the ministry” tirade. It is true what they say; the human nature is fundamentally ungrateful. There have been days in past seven years when I would have bled for the chance of catching a glimpse of him and look at me now, being all starchy inside my head because he said that he would be too busy to see me, just today. After spending most of the night sitting in front of me to have my fill of looking at him, my fill of having his attention. Dismissing the context of the looks or the conversation, he was there wasn’t he? He was looking at me and I at him. Occupying the same room, without who am I to claim any of his time or space? He owes me nothing, at least he does not know he owes me anything and in reality he doesn’t. It was a choice I made. I choice I made which then I chose to keep a secret. He never asked for the piece of me he carries inside him, he never asked for a second chance, a passage back. He owes me nothing and even when the time comes and I come clean and tell him everything, he would still owe me nothing. But that is the way a Gryffindor thinks and perceives acts of selfless sacrifice. I on the other hand have never been a Gryffindor, only a Slytherin and I will never admit it out loud that he owes me nothing.

The double carved oak door opens to unleash the company into the room. A middle-aged man with a considerable gut size enters first, clad in lose scarlet robes, the golden pin shining on the lapel of his vest. So this is the head of the Magical Law enforcement department and also the head auror. He looks at me with a frown before he harrumphs in a way that his thick set eye brows come together over his round nose. He would look extremely fierce if he was taller. At a modest five feet eight, all the fierceness just come across as, ill-temper accompanied by Adrien Pucey, who looks nervous in the way I had never seen him even as the captain of my own Quidditch team. What is he doing here, holding all those paper and fawning over head of MLE. His eyes widen when they finally find me and his freezes in his step before the short ill-tempered man hassles him again into swift action. Pulling out the chair. Handing the papers to the Minister’s assistant. It is a sad affair if you ask me. Puceys were never rich, but they were a respectable family. Maybe this job is a stepping stone for a Slytherin like Adrien Pucey. Must have some kind of advantage to it which is not immediately apparent. I will have to find out.

  Behind him is red haired and still tall and and rigid Percy Weasley, who I am sure is someone important. The only Weasley ever that can be labeled as ambitious. Behind him is the Weasley I still preserve the right to hate the most hanging next to Boy wonder, who looks like a mess held together in a fit scarlet robe. Were it not for the high windows from which copious amount of sunlight is filling the room, I would not have been able to take in the full force of Potter’s weariness, Potter Grimaces at Weasley before he turns to his other side and says something to the person standing next to him, Which is when I finally notice him. The unmistakable golden Blond hair, the strange ice-blue eyes ,that ridiculously handsome face and the obscene, condescending smile on it, with that insane glint in those strange eyes looking directly at me.

Yes. Of course. How could I forget the Turul that was sent to me as a business card just this morning. Stoltorm. The house of the “Proud Serpent”. A blood line that lays the claim to producing most powerful dark wizards of their times. Some even speculate that Slytherin’s mother was a Stoltorm and it was her through whom Slytherin got the gift of Parseltongue. Father would have had kittens if he ever found out that I shared the air with a Stoltorm. Direct in line for family title, well, I am just glad that my father is dead, for he would make a scene like no other could.

 Of course as is the ailment of all pureblood families, the blood line is almost wiped because of old blood and inbreeding. Now, no one knows exactly why, only a pair of twins survives puberty every generation with magic fully intact. All other offspring are either born squibs, or born with unstable magic that kills them in formative year.  Making the twins remarkably powerful. Half of the current twin pair is standing just across the room. I should have known I would be bumping into the magnificent, beautiful, talented, scary and formidable wizard that is Erik Vidarr Stoltorm. Shame of the most bigoted, proud and ancient Stoltorm blood line. He is what Sirius Black was to the house of Black. Breaking the norm and becoming a Magical Law enforcer for the common wealth. The other half of the pair is a totally different story.

I look away of course. Before I make a scene by running and pulling Potter away from the calculating shrewd eyes of Erik Stoltorm, who perhaps is one of the very few wizards that can give me a hard time magically. It does not ease my anxiety any, now that I know why he is here.

Shit.

I could not have been spared even a week?

“Silbern?” I hear his deep and soft voice say my name in that sly way he always says everything. Like he is saying one thing but means another. Oh Merlin! Please give me patience. You cannot hide when a Stoltorm is inclined to find you. 

“Stoltorm.” I incline my head curtly with a commanding enough voice. I see Potter’s back as he is turned away from me, still at my voice before he swivels around his eyes squinting a bit trying to find my shape against the back drop of the afternoon sunlight his sleep deprived eyes come to rest on me somehow. His broken beauty makes something squirm deep in my gut. Potter looks devastated, very much like he was last night when he had just arrived; by the time he had left he was in much better shape. 

Stoltorm wastes no time and strides towards me gracefully and purposely. It eases me for a split-second to see that he is moving away from Potter and that his focus has now shifted.

“Mr. Stoltorm…” I hear the Minister’s deep voice just as the man in question is a few steps away from me. I can’t help but be thankful for the interruption. My eyes find Potter off their own accord, only to find him frowning at Stoltorm’s back who has now gracefully but reluctantly side-stepped towards the Minister of magic.

I need to get out of there.

“Minister, I just remembered that I have an important meeting with Mr. Montague regarding the investment we talked about a week ago. I am afraid I am running late.”

“I see. I only asked you to say because Robards told me that Potter has asked for your permission to use the Malfoy Library in aid of the investigation of a High-profile case…”

“Ah, minister, I can walk with Malfoy and arrange a schedule then. My report is in the folder there and I have already said all I needed to say in meeting downstairs. I would like to be relieved as I have not slept in past Thirty-Six hours.” Potter’s commanding voice is totally opposite of his haggard demeanor. Stranger yet are the next words and gesture that comes from him.

“Come Draco…” he says gesturing at me and walking towards the double oak-door as well.

My head is spinning as my mind freezes and reels back to my fantasy in the shower the previous day. Somehow my feet move on their own accord as if I am puppet to which Potter holds the string. The only thing tangible is the smooth press of my Dragon cane in my hand.

Now, at once my mind totally understands the context of the two words Potter just said, but what is really spacing me out is the sound of his voice when he said them.

“Come Draco…” soft, smoldering and possessive.

The beckoning hand gesture, as if he is the master and I his slave.

As if he is the leader and I am his follower.

 As if I am his oldest companion, with years of friendship and love shared between us.

How can two such words be strung together in such a way that they gain the power to hypnotize you?

We are almost up to the lifts when I realize another little thing.

Potter was in that room with the few most powerful men in wizarding Britain.

And he just walked out on them, informing them, of his decision to be relieved and dismissing me from their company as well. Telling not asking.

For the first time I realize, how much power Potter really yields.

“That man knows more about it all than he is letting on…” Potter hisses under his breath alerting me to my surrounding again. I notice that he is facing me, a cold expression on his face. Suddenly I am aware of how alone we are in the confinement of the lift.

Potter is of course right. Erik Stoltorm does know more about it all, so do I and the arrival of Erik Stoltorm has definitely thrown my own plan of easing Potter into it all, off track. Now I am treading a terrain, where my fate is in hands of Potter’s volatile temper.

“And that man knows you…” he says in an even more temperamental hiss. I have no choice but to look at the suspicious eyes with blandness. I need to control things here.

Suddenly a wand is pressed into my waist dangerously right where I had a profusely bleeding slash just a few hours ago, it throbs warningly against the point of Potter’s wand As I am pushed against the wall of the lift, a warm hand squeezing my neck warningly. But I don’t care, the sting in my side is only reminder of how real this is, that this is not one of my fantasies. That Potter is right here pressing against me in this menacing way, with his beautiful tired eyes looking into mine so fiercely. I can imagine myself telling him my deepest and most consuming secret in one of these close embraces.

‘I love you Potter, I love you so much that I don’t even allow myself to call you Harry in my mind. Because if I call you that, in my head even, I will lose even the smallest semblance of control that I have.

I love you. I love you and you have got to stop getting so close to me! You have got to stop torturing me like this, stop taking liberties like this, stop touching me, stop hurting me! Please for the love of all that you hold sacred.’

 My senses are filling with his scent as he exhales into my face. His breath smells of coffee. Warm delicious coffee after a tiring day or in the morning after a night of…  

“I swear on my wand Malfoy! If I find that you lied to me last night, I will not be held responsible for the consequences.”

And I swear Potter that if you don’t let go of me in the next three seconds I will not be held responsible for the consequences.

Oh how I wish that he does not let go of me…

 

Chapter Text

 

 

In this house

There are a thousand

Dead and still souls

Making you stay

As this will be yours

 

 A handful of earth

Cries aloud

I used to be hair or

I used to be bones

 

And just the moment

When you are all confused

Leaps forth a voice

Hold me close

I'm love and

I'm always yours

 

 

I always wondered how it was possible for people to go from one extreme edge of the emotional spectrum to the other in a matter of seconds without a very extreme external stimuli. I always thought it was something only characteristic to extremely emotional and dramatic people. It was not something that I have ever had a chance to experience.

Oh, I had my fair and really difficult share of teenage hormones but my life had been on such a critical edge in those days constantly that I was in a perpetual state of angst. Which came to a head when I fought in the final battle. Afterwards everything became muted for a long time.

And now, I stand here after a week of emotional hi-jumps, sleep deprived, strung out, vulnerable, frustrated, angry and threatening yet again the bane of my existence Draco Malfoy, in a position that a simple curse would do a lot of damage, and I am angry. I am so angry at the mystery and the intrigue that would have riveted me if it was happening to someone else and not responsible for killing someone who once saved my life and I know that this man who I am threatening knows much more than he has let on, and I am angry that he has not been honest with me when I had trusted him enough to not arrest him or accuse him when all evidence pointed towards him. YET, the moment he looks into my eyes, trapped against the wall of the lift and myself, breathing shallow, eyes shining, hair gleaming, I just want him to…

Absorb me.

Hold me.

A part of my mind is protesting. But I am losing hold. I want comfort and something deep inside me is telling me he is the only one who can give it to me. I am suffocating. The need for something that I can’t decipher is holding my chest captive. My vision starts to turn blurry around the edges and I know I am starting to lose balance. The heat, the rush, the madness. I try to hold purchase of something. I think I do just as I feel something cool against my cheek. Cool and firm. Like a lifeline, a pulse of existence, of being wanted, and craved and desired…

“Potter…” the wonderful deep voice whispers so close to my face that I can taste the mint of the breath on my lips.

“Potter…Look at me…” says the voice again as the coolness swipes at something warm and liquid just under my eye. I believe it’s a tear. The realization bursts the bubble in my chest that was pressing against and all of a sudden everything is breaking down and building up around me once again. I hold tight to whatever I am holding and it holds me back.

I am trying to take as much air in my lungs as I can but when I exhale I can’t help the sound that escapes me every  time.

“Harry! Look at me…” the insistent hand on my cheek shakes me a bit and I open my leaking and blurry eyes to look into haunted grey ones. I want to climb inside them. I am so tired right now of the fast and sharp colors of life that is all around me. My hand moves up to the face that is so close to mine that we are sharing breath. I am praying that it’s not warm to my touch like Firenze’s body was. I am pleading with any supreme power above that it’s as cool as the pale complexion suggests. My fingers map the skin of the cheek and it’s cool. It’s cool against my clammy hot fingers. Cool and firm and so different in texture from anything I have ever touched and it’s alive, this face is alive. I am alive. I move my fingers alongside the cheek and trace upwards towards the golden angled brows and then the softly blinking golden brown eye lashes fringing the smooth and soft eye lids that hide those maddening silver eyes. I move to the tall and proud nose without which nothing would make sense in this face, it inhales deeply under my touch and I feel the warm exhale on my fingers as I touch the defined bow of the most capturing pair of lips. I have never paid so much attention to anyone’s lips before. I have never even thought about it. These are trembling softly underneath my fingers strangely, soft and moist, a very strange shade of peach-pink. That is truly balanced perfectly with the silver blond of the hair and the grey of the eyes. These are the colors of life as they feel under my fingers. It is like holding air, bottling sunshine, things that are impossible to do, just like me feeling like I belong. It’s a dream that I have never dared to dream. It’s beautiful and melancholy and has more substance than anything I have ever had in my life.

I don’t know when and how I close my eyes and hide. All I can feel is warmth of an embrace in the coolness of it. Like my soul is reaching out of my body. I can smell mint and pepper and guava and something citrusy and green apples perhaps. I burrow deeper instinctively to touch something that smells so wonderful. Until my nose touches the source of such beautiful scent. It’s the most supple soft skin covering deliciously rigid and straining muscles and bones. The embrace around me shudders and tightens at the same time. There is magic in that skin, it is squirming under my nose in a fast rhythm. I instinctively try to sooth it with my lips. Just pressing against it softly, asking it to calm down, It grows more agitated and now I can feel it pushing under the layer of clothes against my left hand as well. I find myself feeling protective about its agitation. I want to coo at it, calm it down, kiss it, taste it, this beating magic is the source of life, this beating, thumping agitated life source. Its mine!

I open my lips swiping my tongue-tip against it boldly. Scolding it with a suck, to calm down. It tastes like electricity, salty-sweet and impacting. I taste it again, now with the flat of my tongue as cool and caressing fingers burrow their way into the hair at the back of my head. The surprising touch and the gasp that comes with it suddenly jolts me out.

I am Harry Potter.

I am in a Ministry elevator.

And I am in the arms of….

Draco Malfoy.

I don’t know how and when I move but before I know I am on the opposite side of the elevator trying to breathe through…

Why am I hyper-ventilating in the first place?

I just had a breakdown didn’t I?

In front of Malfoy, of all the people in the world.

No, not in front of Malfoy… In arms of Malfoy.

I refuse to go down the path of analyzing what just happened between me and him.

I refuse to think about it.

I refuse to turn around and look at him. I don’t want to find out what the expression on his face is right now.

The indicator chimes, startling me out and suddenly the lift starts moving again.

When did it stop?

All right, so I had a break down.

Anyone can have a break down.

And if Malfoy wants to do something with it, well, I will just have to be the man I am and take it. Because only a really weak man would insult another man on a break down.

There is nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s a natural reaction. Regrouping my pride and common sense I turn around to face whatever I have just earned.

Malfoy is standing right where he was just a few seconds ago. Still leaning against the wall of the elevator, but it’s the expression on his face that startles me. Again.

It’s blank. There is no mocking smirk, smug smile or apparent revulsion on it. It is just blank and vacant. His eyes are far away, looking somewhere inches above my shoulder. Only indication that he is not a stone statue but a breathing living human is the steady rising and falling of his chest. It does not take him long to meet my eyes with the similar expression. It’s unsettling and only now I can see something in his eyes but for the life of me I can’t figure out what it is.

And then he smiles that eerie smile again.

I hate that smile. It is so empty and dead. I want to wipe it off his face by doing something shocking. Though I don’t think it’s the emptiness or the point blank despair in those eyes, I think it’s the acceptance of despair and helplessness that the smile represents. The Malfoy I knew would complain, whine, run, duck, resist against it. He was a fighter, though a coward as well, but he was still… himself. I want to say something, do something, but I don’t get a chance as at that moment the indicator chimes again opening the doors that lead to the atrium.

He does not look at me again, it is as if I don’t exist. And whatever just happened between me and him did not happen at all. He simply steps out without missing a heartbeat and just walks on, his silver grey robes rippling gracefully around him; towards the floo portals on the other side of the atrium. After a second or two I step out too. Before a wizard bumps into me trying to get into the open elevator swiftly..

“Watch it you nut-…” the middle-aged wizard stutters uselessly when he recognizes me.

“Aur-Auror P-Potter, I apologize..” I tune him out and try to look again for Malfoy in the crowd of witches and wizards milling about, but he has conveniently disappeared.

For some reason I want to go after him. I know he must have flooed to the manor. I can easily apparate at the gates and walk right in, before Malfoy thinks of changing the wards finally. After what just happened, I would not blame him either. I literally…

I decide to still avoid thinking about what I just did and what its implications are. Defeated and with headache unfolding slowly just behind my temples, I step towards the floo portals as well, more exhausted than ever.

It is going to be a very long evening.

But as long as I am hidden in my misery, I can pretend on the outside that all is well, and I have not done the most outrageous thing I could have done in my life just a few minutes ago.  

 


 

 

My wand is still in my hand as I step out of my floo. Kreacher is there with a pop and I gesture him to keep silent as I unbutton my robes, I notice my hands are still trembling. I stop, take a deep breath. Staring at my hands willing them to stop trembling. It is then that I notice the little red smudge in the middle of my palm. It looks like blood. I swiftly rewind my day. No after the shower I had not come into any contact that would explain this smudge here and it does not look old enough to have come from earlier and it has no reason to be where it is. Fingers would explain, but not in the middle of the palm and in such a perfect round shape. I suddenly realize that its right in the place where I like to twirl the tip of my wand. A habit I have picked up through years as an auror. I look at my wand carefully and I can see a red stain just at the tip and along the side. I run my index finger alongside; it is still moist enough to smudge on my finger.  A sudden movement in my peripheral brings my attention away from the mystery of blood on my wand. I see Kreacher shuffling, waiting for my half open robes. I am struck with an idea.

“Kreacher…come here…” I beckon him to me.

“Yes Master…” he steps closer.

I show my finger with the blood on it. Kreacher looks at it with a strange expression on his old and soggy face.

“Kreacher, being the elf of the house of black... Can you tell me who this blood belongs to?”

I do have an idea who the blood belongs to. Why it is on my wand? And why this particular person was bleeding in the first place, is another mystery all together, but the theory of the old pure-blood house-elves being able to tell the status of blood by smelling it is an intriguing one.

Kreacher leans closer to my finger, eyeing it carefully before he takes a sniff. Still inches away from it.

It takes him a second or two, his eyes clenched close in concentration, before they snap open wide and wild.

“Oh it has been so long since Kreacher has come across the blood belonging to the noble house of black and one so pure…So powerful!” Kreacher in all his soggy countenance almost swoons.

“Master said he wanted to fix the tapestry wall…Master should come and fix it now…” Kreacher wheezes with excitement.

“What do you mean Kreacher?” I, half of the time don’t know what this elf talks about.

“Come Master! Come with Kreacher! Kreacher will show you…” and then he is taking hold of my wrist and dragging me towards the staircase. I am too shocked to actually stop the elf. Kreacher avoids physical contact with me religiously even if he has served me flawlessly for past Six years after I was finally able to take down the Portrait of Walburga Black and then subsequent adoption of Winky who was just on the brink of death after Dobby’s death. We had come to a silent agreement  and Kreacher surrendered to the fate of having a Half-blood for a master. The attitude changed dramatically after my proclamation of the Black title. Kreacher became civil and obedient.

Now to be dragged by the bouncy and enthusiastic house-elf was a shock, though I quickly recovered when I finally found myself facing the closed door of the Tapestry room. When I had started working on the renovation of the house, this room was my first target, but after countless failed attempts at fixing it, I had given up, I had ordered Winky and Kreacher both to keep it clean and tidy, but the tapestry remained the same. Rotting in places, names of the people who mattered and were not maniacally bigoted still charred off. It was a source of constant disappointment to me. So I ranted about it every now and then to the resident house-elves.

I twisted the ornate door handle melded with the house emblem. It opened smoothly, no creaks or scrunched, the ebony fully polished and the carvings all dusted to perfection. The tapestry is cleaner than before, the doxies have been purged  and the frayed edges I had repaired myself a few years back, yet the burned off patches stand stark against the clean and restored but still faded background. My eyes naturally home in to the very edge of the tapestry on the wall facing the door. The name of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy is now written in Silver captions on the black swirling scrolls for background where before I remembered it clearly encased vice versa. Draco Malfoy on the other hand is encased in Silver banner with black caption. The picture is still of a eleven year old Draco. All pointy and sneering with that ridiculous head gear. It is sort of morbid.

“Touch it master, touch the picture with the blood.” Kreacher says breathless and awed beside me.

I simply touch the tip of Malfoy’s scrunching nose with the finger stained with his blood.

It is as if time comes to a stop. The embroidered wines that were just now waving and swirling to a rhythm of their own freeze abruptly.

“Harry?” someone says from the door way and then gasps. I turn around swiftly on high alert to look Hermione standing in the door way her eyes fixed on something behind me.

She steps into the room in a daze, her eyes shining bright with wonder. It takes me a while to see Luna and Ginny right behind her.

Ah, yes, I should not have expected anything else after the stunt I just pulled at the Minister’s office. And they would be right to worry about me after what just happened in the elevator with…

NO, not thinking about that.

 Ginny’s frown and Luna’s serene expression paired up with Hermione’s awe and wonder makes me turn around and look for myself.

The first thing I notice is the background color, its changing from faded charcoal black to a deepest shade of emerald green. The shade is rather brilliant. My eyes flick towards the place where I am still touching the tapestry with my finger. I remove it gingerly, but the transformation happening in front of me does not stop. I feel the girls moving in behind me. To look closely I am sure.

The painted picture of Malfoy is no longer that of an 11 year old. It is much closer to the image of what he looks like now. Demure pose in a high collar and silk scarf, his long hair striking hair hanging in waves around his shoulders brilliant silver eyes sparkling, were it not for the haughty pose he would have passed for breath-taking. The faded embroidered golden wine wavers and then turns a brighter golden spreading slowly like a tremor through the whole tapestry becoming a brighter and most solid gold against the deep green back drop. And then the blooming of pictures on the scorched patches starts as the blackness of the burnt fabric is healing by itself, weaving back and picture after picture starts to emerge on it. All, previous portraits evolving into what seems more accurate and modern stances. The ridiculous head gears start disappearing as real hair styles start to emerge. 

Nymphadora Tonks appears with a flourish with the picture of her weaving itself in clear vibrant lines. A playful expression on her delicate and exotic features, the ‘originally’ black hair weaved into a beautiful braid with those little flowers that girls put in their hair and her lace and silk off shoulder gown is a pearly pink color. I bet that in her life Tonks herself had never looked this way. Her name appears in a black banner with a small branch out to the name of Remus Lupin in a black banner as well, though his picture does not appear and the wine descends to a blank place underneath both names, a blank banner appearing at the end. I guess it is for Teddy, once he turns eleven, he would appear on it. My eyes then move up to the place where Sirius was and had been burnt off by his mad mother. A picture of a young and dapper Sirius with his long wavy black hair is weaving itself effortlessly, with the roguish expression and my eyes inadvertently fall to the picture just underneath to that of Regulus who looks almost identical to Sirius, only a bit shy and demure. A silver vine emerges from the side of Sirius’ portrait and weaves itself meticulously until it reaches a blank space just above Malfoy’s picture and an all new picture and a name banner weaves itself together. The banner simply reads Harry James Potter-Black accompanied with a portrait of me with a very formal, serious and stern expression.

“Oh Harry, look! It’s your auror face.” Luna chimes from my side.

“What did you do Harry? I thought we had tried everything on it…” Hermione sounds wary and intrigued and disappointed at the same time.

“I just…touched it…” I say blankly realizing that I really don’t want to explain what really fixed it.

“Really? You just touched it…?” It's Ginny that asks in that skeptical tone.

“Err… Yea… Anyways, what are you three doing here?” I ask side-stepping the whole thing without any finesse whatsoever. I cringe internally.

“Well… Ron told me what happened at the office just now, so I thought it would be better if I came by. It seems like Luna had the same idea I guess and so did Ginny…”

“Oh no, I just came to get the book that Mum lent Harry, the transfiguring patterns on enchanted curtains and upholstery one remember?” Ginny answers right away “I already had lunch, though I won’t mind a spot of tea…I guess.” She says quickly and I can tell that Hermione has given her some kind of signal.

“I just wanted to see Harry before I gave the report to the department, I brought lunch just in case, and just enough too Hermione.” Luna smiles at Hermione and Ginny.

Like I said, it was going to be a long evening.


It’s six in the evening and I find myself staring at the wrought-iron gate of the Malfoy manor. Again.

I have been acting too impulsive lately. But, when Hermione and Luna left after the long lunch which then morphed into the afternoon tea, I found myself in the tapestry room again staring at the now intricate repaired portraits. Sirius, Andromeda, Dora and myself. I noticed for the first time how Tonks actually resembled Narcissa more than her own mother. I had never in my days in this house thought that I would love to be in this room. I casted the specialized ‘revelio’ spell that Dean taught me, to show the spell work and structural magic that has gone into a magical tapestry or art.  The structure was fully repaired now. Glowing blue and healthy. Almost seamless. It reminded me of the Malfoy manor wards woven so perfectly and intricately the night before the wake, when Hermione had declared that the Blood wards were intact and both Ron and Hermione had also said that they could not see the Transparent ward, just like all other Aurors and curse-breakers were unable to see the one around Dumbledore’s tomb the night before. The nature of the wards was the same, but the structure and signature was different. Where the one surrounding the manor was fluid and constantly moving in a random pattern, the one surrounding the Tomb was faceted and solid, its movements angular and abrupt.

So a drop of Malfoy’s blood was responsible for this extraordinary feat. It was sort of intimidating the amount of blood magic that the old pure-blood families used for…

But why was Malfoy bleeding in the first place?

A little niggling feeling of guilt started growing in the pit of my stomach.

I was so out of control inside that Elevator.

Did I really need to be so harsh and then so…

What had happened really? Why did I…?

It was too much for me to process and I knew I had to face the consequences of my actions.

I had injured Malfoy while THREATENING him again and then I had had a breakdown, I had sobbed and clung to him like an inconsolable child. He could have pushed me off, but he hadn’t, he had been kind and considerate to the person who had threatened him just a few moments ago, distrusted him time and time again and then there was the strange connection again between us, but this time it was as if I was being revealed. I was being exposed. Why? How? I needed answers.

Why am I the only one who sees these wards? What keeps happening between me and Malfoy when we come into any kind of physical contact? Why do we keep on coming into physical contact in the first place? Why do I lose myself in such a way when it comes to him? I did not even want to think about his connection to the Firenze’s murder.

It was all too frustrating so I decided that while it was driving me insane I should go and apologize to Malfoy for…Whatever. I will make it all his game. I will give him full rein on deciding what to do with whatever happened in the elevator between us.

 And he will be answering questions tonight, I will not leave him alone until I am satisfied.

Set on my goal I shower and take a dose of pepper-up to help me along and apparate straight to the gates of the Malfoy Manor. And here I stand now. Like an idiot, trying to make a decision that is already made for me.

I push open the wrought-iron gate easily and step inside the swirling wards effortlessly just as I have always. Another mystery to solve I mention to myself. I have hardly walked twenty steps towards the looming manor glowing orange in the sunset when I notice for the first time the extreme stillness and the quiet surrounding the manor. I halt. No sounds of birds or trees or crickets or anything. In my understanding this time of the evening is just as full of nature’s racket as early morning and the manor grounds are the rule in that instance. I know this because Narcissa was very fond of sitting outside in the garden at this time specifically as I discovered during my tea trips. She would sit in midst of the racket of birds settling in after a day of roaming and everything accompanied and she would have a strange serene expression on her face. Sometimes she would look at me and her eyes would sparkle and a little smile would touch her lips, as if she knew something about me that I did not. I am starting to think she might have been right.

I start walking towards the manor again, my steps now stern and my instincts on high alert. I find the main door opening to a slight push of my hand, as always granting me access even when I can feel the extra wards surrounding it.

Something is out of place, is what my mind tells me straight away as I walk into the entrance hall. The Chandelier is already laden with burning candles along with the silver wall sconces. lighting all corners of the circular hall.

I have hardly had a slight look across the expanse of the hall when that always eerily self-composed house-elf Monk pops in.

“Lord Black!” The elf squeaks looking a bit panicked for some reason. It is very uncharacteristic of this particular elf.

“I need to see Lord Malfoy…” I state solemnly, refusing to take off my cloak with a slight shake of my head. I need to feel as put-together for this encounter as I can be. So far things are not looking up and I am still trying to figure out what is wrong.

 

“I am afraid it is not possible Lord Black… M-m-master is unavailable…” he says with an even more uncharacteristic stutter.

My instinct is now beeping urgently.

“Unavailable?” I ask as sardonically and authoritatively as I can.

“Y-y-yes, Master said he is visiting a special friend… and so he won’t be back for supper or late dinner or breakfast… but Monk shall take a message if you wish to leave one for Master.”

A special friend… won’t be back for supper or breakfast, means that he would be spending the night at the said friend’s, that could only mean…

What kind of friend do you call special? I wonder.

The romantic kind of course. My own thoughts answered.

Of course.

For some reason I do not like the realization at all.

And then I hate the fact that I do not like the realization.

What does it matter to me?

I do not answer the waiting elf and turn around to make my way out when my eyes find the floo place and the blank wall next to it. I slowly turn on my heel. The house-elf is still staring at me with wide brown eyes.

“Where are all the mirrors?” I ask the elf, who simply blinks at me as if I have asked him a question in a foreign language.

“M-m-master ordered them off-f” the elf stutters again. I do nothing to ease him and watch him closely with all the hostile Auror scrutiny I can muster.

“Why?” I ask the elf sharply.

“Master said it would be better to fill place with good art pieces that fulfill the intellect than mirrors that only feed a vain man’s vanity.” the elf recites almost.

I don’t know why I feel so strange about the mirrors. If Malfoy wants to redecorate, by all means he should, it is his home after all.

“My Lord?” the elf addresses me apologetically. “Do you wish to leave a message for master?”

“No.”  I simply say before I finally make my way out of the Manor.

It is still too quiet outside but I am in no mood to investigate any further. Exhausted and disappointed I disapparate. 


 

I lay in my bed thoroughly exhausted yet sleep evades me. My nerves are still too sharp and alert. Too many questions constantly revolving in my head, wanting desperately to be answered. I wish I can answer them. But I can’t. Not all of them at least.

Those which I can, I should, I decide.

The first and foremost is what happened in the elevator.

One moment I was so angry and frustrated, which was understandable after the night I had had. But why is it that its always Malfoy at the other end of my wand when my own mind is not under my control. I recall the scene in the Minister’s office. I remembered how almost reverently that Swedish oaf had said that single word;

“Silbern” he had said. Wasn’t Silbern the name Malfoy told me he went by while he had lost his memories and magic after accidentally apparating himself to Germany?

So this Stoltorm git knew Malfoy from that time. But why had I reacted the way I had to it.

It was the sharpness of Malfoy’s eyes when I had finally been able to make out his face against the sunlight behind his back. Malfoy was uncomfortable. And I had made the reflexive decision to intervene.

It was not a conscious choice at all, just an impulse.

I was so sick and tired after the meeting we had just had with Robards.

Apparently the Stoltorm guy was called in because an almost similar crime had taken place in 3 other places in past five months.

According to him the first was the tomb of the renowned Scandinavian Mage Forseti’s located at the Danish Island of Samsoe and it was desecrated the same way with a fully matured, shallow water, female mermaid slaughtered ruthlessly on top of the Altar.

The next attack happened a month later at the grave of the famous Frisian Witch, Maike Geduld, pioneer of the Geduld Magical sciences academy on the outskirts of the town of Drachten in Netherlands, a Pure-blooded Draken slaughtered at the Altar.

Last crime happened at the Tomb of Dominic Leggero a legendary Italian Master-duelist where a mature woodland-fae was slaughtered at the altar. The slaughter of the magical creatures who already had very tense relationships with their magical governing bodies had called in the best of the common-wealth Law enforcement to investigate the cases. Though it was the first time that the instigator of these crimes had addressed someone in their attacks. And that someone just happens to be me.

Isn’t life just perfect?

Things had taken a turn for the worse when Robards started talking 24-hour security detail and safe houses.

I had reminded him of my residence being under the Fidelius charm erected by Dumbledore himself. Though I had wondered for a few moments if I should ask Malfoy to ward  my residence the way he had warded his. Only, the culprits themselves had used the same magic and even though Malfoy claimed that there was no way of dismantling it or breaking through, who’s to say that the culprits did not know how to do so?

See how I keep going round and round, becoming dizzy with my own thoughts. All the while having that git Stoltorm scrutinizing my every blink, breath and twitch.

It had all come to flow out in that elevator.

The threatening, I could justify.

The breakdown I could justify.

The embracing and kissing and caressing and tasting… I could not.

And that was what I had done.

Malfoy had held me. Firmly but carefully. Like you would do for any person who was having a break down.

It was I who had stepped over the line.

What had possessed me to do so? First the irritation with Malfoy at the manor when I asked him about his appointment at the department of Mysteries, then the irritation and rescue and the Minister’s office, then the threatening and breakdown in the elevator and now the worry over Malfoy bleeding and rushing to the manor and being disappointed about him being out on a dinner and breakfast date.

What is wrong with you Harry Potter?

Are you jealous?

Yes you are definitely Jealous.

The question is, are you jealous ‘of’ Malfoy or ‘for’ Malfoy?

I wonder for a few seconds, knowing the answer all along.

I know this is the worst thing that can happen at the time.

But it is futile to deny that there is something between Malfoy and I.

I don’t know if it’s a connection or attraction, but I know it is there. And though I should be wary of it, I am not. I want to cherish it for some strange reason. It has been so long since I have felt a connection with someone.

The feeling of belonging that I felt for a moment in the elevator comes to my mind.

I realize I want more of it. As if I am on a precipice of a gigantic discovery.

Its not my sexual orientation or anything of that sort.

No, I feel like I am about to unveil my destiny. And I would be least surprised if it comes to me wrapped in pain, blood, and heat. Anything would be better than the numbness that I have been suffering from, for last seven years.

I wonder how Malfoy… No, I wonder how Draco translates it all? I wonder what he felt in that elevator.

I recall his face.

He was smiling emptily; there was no disgust on his face. No mocking or sneering. Just hollowness and that strange despair before he decided to ignore me totally and walkaway.

I would have probably done worse if I were in his position.

I feel as if a pit is opening in my chest.

I decide that I will not speak of it if he himself does not bring it up. I will not embarrass him more than I already have.

I mean what am I thinking really? Whatever is there between me and him should remain to the extent that it is at. I should not encourage it to grow. I am not even Gay, more Bisexual I think if not Asexual. And I am sure he is straight. And even if he wasn’t, we both are like oil and water. We don’t mix. We can hardly stand each other.

And he obviously has a ‘SPECIAL FRIEND’

I think it’s time I get out to find myself a special friend too, sincerely this time.

I mean if Malfoy can find one in only a week since his return, it can’t be that difficult can it?

I get up from the bed and make my way down to the floo.

“Luna?” I call into the floo.

She comes into the view a few seconds later with a towel around her head. Smiling serenely.

“Hello Harry…”

“Luna, I was wondering, who are you going with to the Prophet’s thing coming weekend?” I ask acting all disinterested.

“Oh, Rolfe is going to be in town, so I will be there with him.” She answers smiling, her grey eyes sparkling.

“Ah, I see… Oh, wait a moment, How about that Daphne I saw in your office a few weeks back? The one with blond hair and the legs?”

“Daphne Greengrass? Oh, I think she might be a good choice. She is very nargle-free… in fact she just floo called me before I went for the shower to inform me that she just landed us an appointment with Draco for an all exclusive interview…”

“Yea? Good... so can you…” I stop short as I realize what Luna had just said. “Did you say she landed you an all exclusive interview with Draco Malfoy?”

“Yes, they know each other from Hogwarts, same year same house yes? I think he took her out….”

I can’t hear anymore.

“Uh Luna… You know what, forget about Daphne and all, it’s alright, I will… manage…”

She looks at me in that X-ray scanning way she does some times.

“Are you sure Harry? Because…” I don’t let her continue.

“Yes, yes! I am sure, I was just wondering and now that I think about it, I think I do have someone in mind actually. I don’t think Daphne would be a good choice since she works for you and all and if something happens then it would complicate things. So….yea… sorry for disturbing you. I will see tomorrow at work?”

“Yes, meeting at 9, I will bring breakfast.” She chimes sweetly and I just nod and lean back closing the floo connection.

Few minutes later I find myself climbing back to the safety of my bed eyeing the dreamless sleep potion on the dresser.

So what I wanted to know least of all the things I wanted to know, I have just found out.

Draco’s special friend is Daphne Greengrass. The one he is probably ‘canoodling’ with right now.

And how can she not be.

Daphne Greengrass is one of the most beautiful girls I have ever laid eyes on.

Tall, curvaceous, delicately demure, with beautiful wavy blonde hair and striking blue eyes and a pair of breasts that just calls to some primal male instinct, Daphne Greengrass is a boy’s dream come true. And that is all without mentioning her exceptional wit and intelligence, which incidentally makes her any Man’s dream come true.

I had been seriously debating dating her before Malfoy came to town.

And now…

Well, she and Malfoy would just make the most perfect couple that ever existed in the universe. And together they would make the perfect pure-blooded blond children. All perfect Slytherins.

I chuckle at the irony.

I think the whole universe is aligned tonight to make me suffer.

I think I somehow deserve it.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 12 :  Inexplicable Connection.

 

 

You are in love with me, I shall make you perplexed.

Do not build much, for I intend to have you in ruins.

If you build two hundred houses in a manner that the bees do;

I shall make you as homeless as a fly.

If you are the mount Qaf in stability.

I shall make you whirl like a millstone (RUMI)

 

 

Draco was impressed. He had seen a few castles so far in his short life. Had been intimate with a couple of them. His school had been a castle and that was enough proof of Draco knowing what truly made a castle majestic. But never could he have imagined something like this. From what he could see of the stair hall and the length and breadth and height of the corridors he could estimate the size of the place. If it was not bigger than Hogwarts, then it was almost the size of it. But where Hogwarts was a fully functional castle, with all dressings removed like a school teacher is plain and straightforward. This castle was like an aristocrat’s pampered wife. Complete with all the frills and portraits and marble linings and gold plated vases. That displayed a Sort of a cross between Hogwarts and his own home. The Malfoy manor, or how he remembered it before Voldemort decided to make it his head-quarters. Draco peered at the Sigils, polished and gleaming. A vaguely familiar emblem A coiled horned basilisk with gems for eyes. He had seen it somewhere before, but his mind won’t provide him with the exact where or when.

He wondered if he should ask the elf that was leading him to some unknown destination, who this castle belonged to or why he was there? Last he remembered, He had been stranded in The woodland on the western Outskirts of Germany, as his magic had been fluctuating while he was looked desperately for the Malfoy farm cottage situated there or a way out.  Malfoy Farm cottage in Grunewald forest was one of the most secure places that the Malfoys owned. He remembered being attacked by something, but the rest was blank. During the bath earlier he had thoroughly checked his body in the mirrors to find no new scars or wounds.

The Elf came to a stop in front of an elegantly carved wooden double-door and pushed it open to reveal a lavish dining room. But Draco hardly noticed anything in the room as he was too busy looking at the imposing figure standing by the huge French windows. Tall, broad-shouldered, and golden haired. Clad in a very smart and elegant robe of Dark brown Velvet.

As Draco quietly approached the tall wizard following the elf’s lead, the figure turned around. Piercing blue eyes homed in on Draco. Not hostile, but definitely cautious and curious.

Draco was taken in for a moment by the aura of the man that seemed to be his host and perhaps one of the most handsome wizards he had ever encountered in his life.

“Mr. Silbern… I hope you are feeling well.” He said in a voice that was way too deep and soft for the imposing figure that accompanied it, alongside a perfect English accent.

Draco was taken aback once more. It had been a while since he had spoken his first language and now his German had gotten so fluent that he even caught himself thinking in German at times.

The man that stood in front of Draco did not look like an Englishman, from any angle. He looked rather like a Viking God or something. Tall, broad, severe and intense. A warrior wizard.

“Yes, I feel much better. Thank you.” Draco smiled at him.

The man looked at Draco for a few seconds as if trying to decipher something. There was a strange sort of appreciation in those eyes that Draco could not understand but chose to process carefully rather than jumping into things.

 “You are most welcome…” The man said offering his hand to Draco, who took it confidently, though deep inside he was alert to the nines. “…I am Erik Stoltorm.” The man added.

“Drachen Silbern” Draco replied automatically. His mind pinging with warning on the utterance of that name. Definitely familiar.

Stoltorm…

Stolt-Orm.

Proud Serpent.

‘Sweet Salazar!’ thought Draco, taking advantage of the business of sitting to hide his exclamation.

“That name sounds… Nordic.. doesn’t it?” Draco asked feigning curiosity. When he knew exactly where Stoltorms came from.

“It is actually. I come from a very old Nordic Wizarding family. The oldest record of our family come from the time of Beowulf and Grendel and all that. But that is a discussion for another time…” Stoltorm leaned away from the heavy mahogany dining table as the elf started to serve them lunch. All courses together, which was a strange way of doing it but Draco ignored it. He needed to be alert. From the vibes of magic so far, Draco could easily understand that this Erik Stoltorm was not a man to be messed with.

“…What I really want to discuss… Or rather ask you is; what were you doing in Grunewald forest exactly?” Asked the man called Erik Stoltorm in a voice that sounded requisite and demanding at the same time. It was a skill, Draco had to give him that.

“I was lost actually, and I felt that something was following me.” Draco placated.

“Yes, A vampire. A very dangerous one. One I have been tracking for some time now, along with his whole clan who are killing wizards and muggles in the area. BUT, that is not what I asked. I asked what you were doing in the forest in the first place.” His eyes were trained on Draco and Draco could tell that he would have to most probably lie out of this situation. Draco took a deep breath and sighed and then started weaving.

“My name is not Drachen Silbern. I don’t know what my real name is. Until a few months ago I did not even know that I was a wizard. This name was given to me by the social services after I woke up in a Muggle hospital like… this” Draco points to himself, hissing frustratingly. He is proud of his acting skills.

“All I know is that since I started to get my magic back, I started to get little flashbacks. Apparently the Forest you found me in featured in those flashes. I keep seeing a meadow with a rectangular stone memorial in the middle, Celtic perhaps, I don’t know… so I just had to go look. I hoped that if I had apparated there in the first place then maybe my original wand would be there. But I got lost in the forest and then my magic started fluctuating it does that sometimes, since my current wand and I don’t get along and it taxes on my magic. Rest of the story, I don’t know, but I am sure you do, so please enlighten me.” Draco made sure that he looked miserable but not nervous.

“I was tracking the vampire that was tracking you. I am a law-enforcer by profession. I picked your magical signature on the edge of the forest, followed closely by the vampires. You kept going round and round in circles, so did the vampire. I could see that your magic was fading with every new signature. And then suddenly I lost track of you and the vampire both. But then I stumbled upon you, unconscious on the forest floor but apparently unharmed and the vampire just frozen in mid-action of attacking you.”

“Really?” Draco’s heart was going to leap out of his chest any moment. His secret was out.

“Yes… really, it was the most remarkable magic. And you were casting it, unconsciously and it was so dark and dense and natural that for a moment I could not believe that I was actually witnessing Necromancy in its purest form.” The smile on Erik’s face was so fascinated that it was scary.

“Necromancy?” Draco asked lamely. Heart sinking.

“Yes… and of all the people that could have witnessed that miracle happening, I was chosen… It’s almost like Divine Providence…”

Draco was already unable to taste the food. Now he was finding it unable to swallow it as well.

Why did it feel like he had fallen from the frying pan into the fire?

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

I wonder if there is a precedent to madness.

Like, a preamble, or prologue, explaining that you are about to go insane.

And this is how people before you, who went insane, coped with it.

A How-to-deal manual perhaps?

There should be a precedent to madness, a preamble, a prologue, a ‘how-to-deal manual’.

If there isn’t I think I am under total authority to compile or create one now.

Why?

Because I am in love with Harry fucking Potter.

And that in itself is the biggest certification of being insane.

 

There he is, one moment, threatening me. Digging his wand under my ribs and right into the wound that I can literally feel opening back stitch by stitch with building pressure of his wand.

Now, I am perverse enough to find pleasure in this threatening just one more time like every time. I realize that I have been insane from the very first moment I laid my eyes on Harry Potter when I was just a child of eleven years. Though I have stopped baiting him in that horrible way I always used to. From  making fun of his friends to insulting his dead parents. I still enjoy getting a reaction out of him. And like every insane person, I have always managed to somehow forget the consequences of getting a rise out of Harry Potter.

I mean you would think I would remember my first Quidditch match against him as a seeker.

Or, the countless detentions.

Or being turned into a ferret.

Or the punches and ripped collars.

And how could I ever forget the sixth year.

The consequences that have left me from furious to humiliated to embarrassed to hurt to Bleeding…
Literally and almost mortally.

But I do. I forget all these things. And plunge head first into the pleasure that is exclusively mine and called, “Baiting Harry Potter.”

He is hurting me right now. Though like always he does not know it yet, and it is just my luck that he is pressing his wand right on the place I just hurt myself in this very morning and all I can think about is the heat of his body against mine. The feel of it. Thinking that if I incline my head a few inches I can easily kiss those lips which were delivering threats just a second ago.

That alerts me.

And my eyes travel back up to his. And I know that something monumental is about to happen.

Insane Draco is ready for it.

Little Draco is jumping with joy.

Malfoy is eerily quiet and observing closely.

My Harry is breaking down in front of me. I can see the weight of days past crashing down on his shoulders. I can clearly see how his own strength and power is drowning him.

He thinks he is responsible for it all.

Catch him, save him, comfort him… my instinct screams and I stop arguing with everything.

 And the next moment I am holding him against my chest and he is holding me back as if I am the only anchor holding him down from floating away in the sea of distress he is in.

I don’t think there are words invented to express what I feel when he is in my arms, only that it’s enough to drive me around the bend. So helpless, so trusting, so firm and solid.

 And then he is staring at me, still engulfed in my arms. His green eyes shining with moisture, breathing harsh and lips trembling. I am cursed for life. How will I survive now after seeing that stubborn face so vulnerable. So desolate. My love, my heart, my soul… My everything. My Harry. So lost and hurt and confused. I want to assure him, kiss him, comfort him. I want to…

His eyes are starting to lose focus and that zaps me out of my delirium. Now I am running on pure instinct. And I should have remembered that nothing good come out of me running on instinct when it comes to Harry Potter.

His head is about to droop forward eyes blank and unseeing. I have a distinct feeling that he is about to have a break down.

I hold his face in my hand, trying to make him focus back… I call him once…but he is not looking not seeing. Desperate enough to do anything at this moment, I conjure all authority and force and order him sternly.

“Potter look at me!”

A tear escapes from the clenched eyes and he starts hyper-ventilating. I know our magic is reacting very strongly right now. I swipe his tear. He would hate it afterwards. I know this. His breathing is harsh and coming out with a sob.

My heart is breaking. I can feel his desperate despair. He carries so much from the war. The war that he fought in his formative years. The war that was pinned and forced on him. If Harry Potter was destiny’s favored, he was also destiny’s victim.

Constantly convoluted, trapped on all side. This lion was wounded.

The worst part is, things are about to get even worse.

Another war is coming and Harry Potter is again going to be at the very center of it. The warrior and the victim once again. I only hope he will be a Victor too.

And then all plans of my being the savior just go blank as his fingers touch my face.

The touch of the calloused appendages is soft, reverent. And I want to die right at this very moment because his fingers are worshiping my face like I am a most revered sculpture made of solid silk.

What is he doing? Why is he doing this? How will I turn away from this? Those beautiful green eyes settled on mine. Trapping me, enslaving me, seducing me.

This is too much temptation. And in the end I know I will lose everything.

Even what is left of my already disputed sanity.

The moment he realizes what he is doing, he is going to be disgusted with himself and me. That hate will fill his eyes. I know I should stop this before it goes too far.  But before I can do something about it, he closes his eyes and embraces me. Like a loved one long lost finally reuniting. How can I deny myself such joy? How can I move away from something that is all my wishes come true. Even if it will lead to eventual heart break. I throw caution to the wind and embrace him back, inhaling him deeply. Feeling at peace in a way I have never even imagined possible. All this just from embracing him. I wonder for a moment what making love would feel like if this is what a mere  platonic and comforting embrace feels like.

Shame on you Draco! Can’t you just enjoy the innocent moment as it is? I scold myself.

That is when I feel his warm breath against the side of my neck. Before he touches it with his nose.

A gasp escapes me as my heart jumps at the shock and sensation of such a light but intimate touch. I don’t know what to expect next. All notions of innocent contact just vanishes from my mind as the dynamics between us change with such a small gesture. I am teetering on the verge of irreversible arousal. All nerves alive and filled with static.

My heart is beating in my ears so furiously that Harry’s fist clenches and then presses deep into my clothes just above it on my chest, as if he is trying to press it out of agitation. And then I feel his lips on my neck.

Oh for the love of Merlin…Jesus…Allah… Whoever stays above that blue umbrella! I am dead and so alive. I don’t know what is about to happen but I pray with all my soul at that moment that it doesn’t stop and stop at the same time before I lose my mind and take more than what is being given to me.

How did this miracle come about?

‘He feels for you. He wants you just as much as you want him, he loves you, he needs you, take him! Have him, trap him, never ever ever ever let him go. Cherish him, hide him, love him, be him, OWN HIM!’ 

 I press even harder against him as my mind swirls between possibilities of this contact.

And then a moist and warm tongue is tracing the side of my neck. And I am lost, helpless… I let out a gasp. As my mind stops shouting and paralyses with shock and desire.

And then the illusion crashes down. Just the way it had built up. Suddenly.

A moment he is there filling me and my senses like hot lead and the next he is not. Leaving my arms empty and my desire broken.

I feel as if the universe has tilted. How can this happen? How can fate be so cruel? Giving me a taste of something I can never have…

‘Ah again with the dramatics.’ Sneers my inner Malfoy.

I feel as if my body is turning to stone.

And it hurts. Hurts so much.

He is turned away from me, just a few feet away. So close, yet so fucking far.

I want to kill myself for losing control. I knew all along that this is exactly what would happen the moment he comes back to himself.

‘This is what you get for taking advantage of someone’s vulnerability.’

‘He hates you so much he can’t even look at you.’

I feel like my inner voices will make my head explode at any moment.

And then a reprieve finally arrives in form of the elevator doors opening.

He has turned back, but I have no strength or will to look into those green eyes full with hatred and disgust for me. So I gather all my strength and dignity and walk away.

 

 

I wish to disappear, and I think I do, I don’t know for sure. 


Because the next time I am aware of my surroundings I am in a room that looks like Armageddon took place in it, naked, spent and still gasping for air.

Did I destroy my room and then masturbate between the shredded beddings and down feathers of pillow stuffing?

I think I did, if the sorry state of my chafed arousal is anything to go by.

I sit up on my bed, feathers stuck to my body in places I don’t even want to think about, and look around at the room. The emerald green furnishing of my dark wood chairs are all shredded now. The glasses of the windows broken, lamps, vases, even the marble wall clock crushed and singed and destroyed…

I think I remember patches of my destructive epiphany.

Who I was punishing, I am not sure.

But I have gone mad and back again. That is all I know.

‘Its time to move out of this room anyway. This room that was a place for inspiring a love so obsessive and impossible in a mere child, that he had achieved the impossible. A teenager. Who was driven by something so pure and sacred. His soul intact. His dreams perfect and reachable.

Now,

It is all gone. The love had turned into madness and desolation. The Boy is no longer a boy, but a man, with a broken soul and dreams out of reach, perhaps forever. With no chance of return.

It takes me a while to notice that I am bleeding again from the wound. I smile at it standing naked in front of the Dressing mirror, perhaps the only breakable thing left in this room. This is not the first time he has made me bleed and if this is all we can have between us, then I will take it. I will bleed again and again and again. 

There is a feather stuck to the side of my neck I notice, I remove it to see the little purplish red bruise.

I stare at it.

Is that…?

Did he…?

HE FUCKING MARKED ME!?

I don’t know if I should be furious or delirious.

I think I am both if the fierce grin on my face is anything to go by.

Fucking Harry Potter!

My mind is running hundred miles a second.

Even if he does not recognize the connection between us, his psyche does. And it will only return the communication in the way it was made in the first place. Innocent and platonic need for comfort my Arse!

My love for Harry Potter has never been platonic. Never will be.

I admit that there are many dimensions to it.

There is the strange noticeable intellectual attraction. Just last night was a proof of that.

And the spiritual one. He has a piece of my soul embedded in his for Merlin’s sake! Of course its spiritual.

And the physical? I don’t know… does cornering your so-called nemesis in an elevator and then licking at his neck or the arch nemesis wanking to the touch of that tongue hard enough to chafe one’s prick a sign enough?

Of course it is!

When I gave a piece of my soul in exchange for Harry to find his way back out of the underworld. It was not done as a friend, or a well-wisher.

It was done as a Lover. Even if Harry never reciprocated the feeling. I was giving it to the one I loved above all others. And not in a PLATONIC sense.

The magic always identifies with the intention.

And my intention is what lays a foundation of this connection between us.

So the natural interpretation would be obvious. I should have been ready for this.

Even if it is dubious regarding its beginnings. It has only reached to this level because he feels something for me.

The contact that happened between us was not comfort seeking. It was possession, a claim.

I remember my thoughts at the moment. They were not all mine were they? No, I was reading him.

 

‘He feels for you. He wants you just as much as you want him, he loves you, he needs you, take him! Have him, trap him, never ever ever ever let him go. Cherish him, hide him, love him, be him, OWN HIM!’ 

 

No, those were not my thoughts. I have never wanted to OWN Harry Potter. I have always wanted to belong to him. I do belong to him.

But what could trigger the connection in such a way. I recall the events again. What happened just before the elevator?

I was in the Minister’s office and…

The moment Stoltorm and I had recognized each other.

I had just spoken one word and Harry had turned towards me like a magnet.

I remember those tired but sharp eyes finding me against the afternoon light before they turned to Stoltorm with a frown.

Did Harry read something in Stoltorm’s voice?

Is that what triggered it all? First the threatening, then the embracing and then the marking ?

‘Come Draco’… I remember the command and possession in those two words.

‘Careful now Draco, don’t read too much into it. You need a second opinion here.’ Says the Malfoy in me.

“MONK!” I yell. Only to notice the Elf standing just on my right side turned towards the wall, shaking.

Has he been here all along? Even when I…?

Oh Dear Merlin no!

Best to ignore it altogether.

“M-m-master?”

“Bring me the mirrors Monk, just like last time. And If Mr.Montague or anyone comes to visit, tell them that I have gone to see a special friend and probably won’t be back until after breakfast.”

The Elf disappears immediately.

 

“I wonder if I should take it as an insult. You demanded my attention when I was alive most selfishly and now that I am dead, here you are, still doing the same…”

His crisp voice is like music to my ears. I turn a little to look at him, standing there, robes swirling in the non-existent wind. My hand still stroking the plush fur of Tenebra. Her giant head placed passively on my thigh.

“I am the master of death…” I smile at him mischievously.

“Of death…yes, Not of the ‘Dead’.”

“Yet here you are.”

“Never could refuse you, you spoiled brat!”

I simply smile at him innocently. As he takes a seat on the same rock I am perched upon, looking out at the grey ash desert.

“So... what has changed since the last I saw you?” he asks me finally after a minute or two of silence.

“In the few hours? Everything… Someone killed that centaur that taught divinity at Hogwarts and violated Dumbledore’s tomb and left a calling card.”

“A calling card?” he says sardonically I just shake my head at him.

“Yes, muggle reference… and they left the crime scene surrounded by the thaumaturgic ward.”

“I see.”

“Which lead Harry straight to me. Asking for answers to questions which I would rather not answer.”

“Well, I would say his skills at deduction have improved certainly.” is his sardonic reply.

“Oh he threatened me but I knew that it was all hollow and he could tell the difference between the casting of the magic and the signature.”

“Ah, that means… that means the real culprit is using a proxy right now.”

“Yes, and that is what really worries me…”

“No, that is not.” Severus says flatly. I look at him sheepishly.

“No, what really worries me is that the culprits directly addressed mocked Harry, they left a fiery inscription atop Dumbledore’s tomb saying ‘ Qui salvabo vos salvator Potter.’”

“Who would save the savior indeed?” Severus snorts.

“And that’s just the start. After giving Harry a very vague definition of thaumaturgy, during which I conveniently found a way to be involved into the case as an information source. I come face to face with Erik Stoltorm of all people and that bloody bird of his.”

“So the legend is true…”

“Yes, and if the Turul is true, then the…”

“Yes it was obvious wasn’t it, The Mark the culprits left suspended over the tomb, A huge M surrounded by a Dragon.”

“The Nidhogg”

“So you are sure that it is the Stoltorm twin who is behind these attacks?”

“Yes, it is Egil Stoltorm. He is after me. Logically he needs help of a Necromancer to get the Nidhogg out of the confines of the Underworld. Just like I helped his brother get the Turul from the over-world.”

“You did?”

“Yes, he saved my life in Germany, helped me settle, I owed him, so I had to help him in his conquest of the Turul. Put in a good word and all.

“He saved your life?”

“Yes. Saved me from a vampire attack. You know how common those are in rural Germany. I was looking for one of my family’s off the grid properties to hide. My magic was speculating too much. Erik was in the hunt of a rogue clan of wizard-vampires preying on the population of the area. Absolute psychopaths they were and so dangerous that they had to bring in the Common-wealth law enforcers. A vampire found me wandering in the woods and Erik found the vampire. A second later and I would have been printed on the trees.”

“So he found out that you were a Necromancer.”

“It’s a Stoltorm gift. They can detect the nature of magics, especially the ones a wizard is born with. I bet Stoltorm would have told in three seconds that Harry is a Parselmouth and a Wizard primitivae. As in his natural ability lies with dueling and defensive magic just like you are an Alchemist and a Sorcerer Primitivae or as we like to call them; A natural born Potioneer and Occlumens/Legilimens.’ Just as Dumbledore was a Wizard and Sorcerer Primitivae as was Voldemort. At least what I know of Stoltorms and their history, they are the only practitioner or even recognizers of old principles of magic. I have only known Erik Stoltorm close enough, who though is a powerful Magi Primitivae, is still benign and noble enough to gain allegiance of the Turul, the eagle from the Yggdrasill. Which makes the EVIL TWIN Egil Stoltorm just as malicious and dangerous enough to try to get the allegiance of the Nidhogg the dragon. And as the legend goes, If Nidhogg ever finds its way out of the underworld, consider it Armageddon. Wizarding style.”

“So Egil Stoltorm seeks you now because he thinks that you are a Necromancer.”

“I was hardly that when I met Egil Stoltorm, only one time, just before he went missing from the face of the Wizarding world. I was hardly a wizard in those days Severus, my magic wasn’t stable at all.”

“And now you are so much more than we could have ever imagined you to be Draco. You just need to stick to the plan, don’t lose your way, don’t lose patience. Don’t be reckless and don’t let Potter be reckless either. For now you need to distract him.”

“This is what confuses me actually Severus. The clues that were left on the Tomb, which lead Harry directly to me. I mean it shows that he has done some research. I mean, once you find my original history as Draco Malfoy, references to Harry Potter and our rivalry are obvious to the keen eye, and I guess he was aiming towards Harry arresting me perhaps. Hence the mocking.. But what would he get out of me being arrested I wonder… But I guess he under-estimated Harry’s intelligence and sensibility of magic, as Harry though came knocking at my door immediately, was not even half suspicious of me being behind the attack. Mainly because he is the only one who can detect my Thaumaturgic wards because he has a part of my soul… he could tell the difference straight away.”

“Yes there is that. I guess it has its uses or Potter would be here bothering me in afterlife.”

“Which is the other thing I really wanted to talk to you about…” I feel nervous all of a sudden and Tenebra turns her head up to look at me with curiosity, detecting my nervousness.

“Yes I suppose you do, since you have been addressing the bane of your existence as ‘Harry’ all through the conversation. Is it the Soul Connection that you want to talk about?”

I know I am blushing now. “Yes…”

“What about it?” he asks simple. No judgment in his voice.  I am thankful for that.

“Do you think… Do you think it has the capability of… you know… triggering a need for…more like controlling or rather… manipulating the physical attitude between the two people who share the connection?”

Severus looks at me for a moment in that dark calculating way he used to when I made progress well above my capacity or made an absolutely stupid and uncharacteristic mistake.

“It would not control…Manipulate…or…instigate any course of action that both parties do not consciously want to initialize Draco. So if Potter gave you that cut on your side, he genuinely meant to hurt you and still hates you, it has nothing to do with the soul connection. A soul connection only lets you have an insight. The actions are your own.” Severus voice has turned dangerously low during this speech.

“No, Harry did not give me this cut, this is what happened when I was a little careless with Daitan’na. No, Harry… well…” I look down at the Panther’s head in my lap who is also looking at me expectantly now.

“…Is the one that gave you that lover’s-mark on your neck, is it?” Severus completes for me. I am sure I am blushing like a girl now. How is Severus able to always tell these things I would never know. I can hear the sneer in his voice. I steal a peek at him from beneath the lashes and see a softness of his face I have rarely witnessed.

“No, I’m afraid Draco… that also is not a result of the soul-connection’s urging, if I would give it any name I would call it a chemical reaction I suppose… more commonly known in cases like these as Mutual Physical attraction…”

“Yesss! I get the idea Severus.” I snap at him. Embarrassed.

“In the very first attempt? It’s a miracle!” he is back to mocking me and I finally feel safe enough to look up at him. I am about to say something when he raises his hands.

“No, please, I do not want to know the details of this particular encounter that left such a mark on you… In fact I think I should be leaving now…”

He gracefully stands up. His dark as night hair hanging in his face. Robes all swirly and proper. While I sit here once again in my pajama bottom and silk dressing robe.

“I think I should go see it, The Nidhogg just to make sure that it’s not free of its underworld confines. Or the fortifications are not breached and are going to hold up.” I say quietly to his back. He turns slowly his black eyes trained on me again.

“You do know that you cannot do anything about it even if you see it escaping… why not take the keeper’s word for it for now and keep the watch from the outside?”

“hmmm… That does make more sense… Alright then… Rest in peace Severus.” I say smiling at him. He snorts derisively.

“I gave up the right to rest in peace the day I held you in my arms for the first time Draco. Be as it may, I won’t have it any other way.” He says walking a few steps away before a crack sounds and he vanishes into thin air.

 

 

“I think it’s time to go home Tenebra.” I say to the panther who inclines its head before it changes into black smoke and starts to run in my veins again.

 

I step out of the mirror to find an agitated Monk waiting on the other side. I notice that it is around sunrise.

“Is everything alright Monk?”

“Y-yes Master. It is just that Master had a visitor while he was away. And Monk may have made a mistake Master!” he looks on the verge of crying. My head is buzzing with the possibilities of what could have gone wrong.

“WELL?” I almost shout at the elf, before checking myself.

“Harry Potter came by master…”

FUCK FUCK FUCK!

“And he said it was important that he spoke with you, but Monk told him that Master was gone to see a Special friend and won’t be in for supper, dinner or breakfast.”

Now that I hear the words spoken back to me I clearly see the meaning one would get from them.

STUPID STUPID STUPID DRACO! SHIT!

Of all the people in the world. FUCKING HARRY POTTER HAD TO SHOW UP!

“What did he say then?”

“He didn’t say anything at first, and then he noticed the mirrors missing in the receiver’s hall. And he asked monk about them… and-d-d M-m-monk had to lie Master...” The elf says distraught and a tear finally escape those eyes.

I take a deep breath to find patience between the anxiety and dread.

“What did you say Monk?” I ask calmly.

“M-m-monk said what Master had said to Monk about removing the mirrors from the gent’s salon. That Master wishes to replace the mirrors with art-pieces that fulfill the intellect than mirrors which feed only a vain man’s vanity.”

I look at the elf with widened eyes.

“M-m-master! Please forgive Monk for lying to Lord Black, but Master asked to keep the mirrors a secret. Monk will iron his ears… P-p-please don’t give Monk clothes Master.” The elf is on his knees sobbing now.

“Monk stand up and stop crying right now!” The result is instantaneous.

“I do not encourage lying in general, and you may never lie to me Monk, but you handled the situation with Lord Black perfectly and I must reward you for it.” The elf is looking at me in awe and relief.

“You can have the day off on Friday to spend as you please and for that day Pona can be incharge. Also, I would accept your oldest elf-ling into the house-hold on Monday.”

“Thank You Master! Monk does not know how to thank for this generosity.”

“Keep up the good work. Did Lord Black leave any message?” I ask, a little hope budding somewhere in my chest.

“Monk asked again and again, but he said there was no message Master.” And its stomped down.

“Alright, bring me some soup while I go take a shower, did you have my things transferred to the Bordeaux suite?

“Yes master.”

 

 

“Good, bring the food there then.”


 

A quick shower, a bowl of warm soup, a few healing charms on the wound and… other places, later, I am lying in bed ready to rest. The bed is soft but different. But that is not exactly the reason that I am not unable to rest.

I decided to move into this suite for now because I could not find it in me to move into my Parent’s suite yet, if ever, as it is just the way my mother spent her last days in it, and this is closer to both the living areas downstairs and the Sun-room, not to forget that I am particularly fond of the color which is a running theme, though ivory and chocolate brown are more dominant in the furnishings and wallpaper. Still the Bordeaux lends that mysteriousness to the atmosphere, not to mention how vibrant it looks in the fresh morning light lent in by the huge French windows that lead to the terrace facing towards the artificial lake and east side gardens. Perfect for witnessing the sunrise.

This was once my Grandfather’s personal suite. I remember it from my childhood. With its stuffy and uptight environment to the uncomfortable furniture. I had not even known that there were French windows in this room, terrace is even a bigger surprise. I saw it from the outside, but had never paid attention to it. Now after my mother’s redecoration it was in my opinion the best suite in the whole manor.

The best part though is that the whole suite is duplexed with the Library emporium which is just beneath this suite and the two next to them. The room has the easiest access to the library now thanks to my Mother’s genius. Why she did it? I have no idea.

That reminds me of what Harry told me last night.

Harry.

I think I deserve to call him Harry now don’t I?

Not in his face, never in his face but in my thoughts I think I am safe to take such liberties.

I wonder why Harry came to see me while I was away.

After what happened and his reaction afterwards, I wasn’t expecting him to show up.

Unless he wanted to sort it out. And ‘discuss’. The Gryffindor that he is.

Still. I wonder what he made of Monk’s statement. Monk himself had pointed towards a rather hostile behavior from Harry, when I queried the elf about it while having my soup.

‘Sharply refused to leave a message Master.’

What exactly does ‘sharply refused’ mean?

I weigh the option of owling Harry, all business and indifference just to bait a reaction or a confrontation out of him. It is the one thing I have always been good at. Then perhaps he will complete what he started in that lift…

‘And perhaps one of these days you will stop being such a lovesick fool and stop falling in holes and not break your neck. YOU ARE READING TOO MUCH INTO THINGS.’ Said the obnoxious Malfoy in me. I had to admit, he was right to some extent.

But then why was Harry here?

‘One of these days you are going to call him Harry in reality, at a most inconvenient time and then where would we be with our allusion of indifference compromised.’

Fine then! Why was Potter here?

‘perhaps to discuss things with you about the case, or the using of library as is the official status of your involvement in the case.’

Then I should owl him. Asking about that. Act indifferent and watch closely. Or I can simply visit him in his office. After all I am supposed to drop by the ministry at earliest convenience to collect my trial certification for sitting at the Wizengamot and Hogwarts Board of Governors.

 

 

With hope still fluttering deep in my psyche much to the chagrin of nasty Malfoy. I close my eyes and rest.

 

Dear Draco,

Luna asked me to discuss some details with you about that exclusive interview for quibbler that you promised me through our correspondence via Mr. Montague. I was wondering if you would like to join me for a late lunch at Finnegan’s around One’ o’ clock this afternoon to discuss? I would really like to meet and catch up on old times.

Daphne Greengrass

 

I stare at the note for a long moment. It’s a rather simple choice. I have no prior engagements for lunch and I am sure this is all a part of that amazing plan of making me a celebrity that I have so much potential to become of Montague’s.

Daphne… she used to be in our year and Pansy used to constantly complain about her for making eyes at me. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Smart and witty but a little too self-conscious. Daphne as I remembered, was one of the prettiest Slytherin girls. Unlike Pansy, who most probably bullied people into calling her pretty, though she actually wasn’t and were it not for my father’s forceful urging, I would have probably have never paid attention to Pansy. But there were times when she was a good friend. According to Mr.Montague, Pansy was now settled in Austria, married to a Pure-blood with two children.

Most of the boys from my year had taken the Dark Mark eventually even if I was the first one in them. And as was the tragic end of all those took the Mark, except me, they were all dead. Crabbe, Goyle, Warrington, Plume… Only surviving are Zabini and Nott. Which is a surprise, since Nott’s father was one of the prominent death-eaters. Theodore, as Mr. Montague told me is now working in a Branch of Gringotts in Toronto, Canada. While Blaise Zabini is now a lead singer and composer of a Wizarding Musical Band called Siren’s call.  Which I knew before I returned.

They are popular enough that you can find their Posters in the rooms of Teenagers even in Shida Miryo, Japan.

It is strange that of all the things I have to feel guilt about. It is only my year mates that invoke the genuine feeling of ‘survivor’s guilt’ inside me. My own parents died while I survived and I feel sad about it, but not guilty. But when it comes to my year mates, who I can’t even call friends, I feel the guilt. They were just children. Like me. Most of them forced into a choice they did not want to really make, and even if they did, everyone is allowed mistakes at that age. But…

Who can you blame in the end other than Voldemort?

I decide there is no harm in a lunch with an old Class-mate. I scribble a note and send it off with the waiting owl.

It takes me less than five minutes to find ‘Finnegan’s’.

Apparently it is the most popular restaurant for the lunch rush at the Diagon Alley.

It takes me a few second to find Daphne between the canopied tables in the back yard.

How could I not?

If the girl at school was pretty.

The woman sitting in front of me now is gorgeous.

Wearing a snow-white button-up silk shirt with a midnight blue pencil skirt underneath her silver grey robes. I hardly reach the table under the canopy which is a strange shade of lilac right now before she jumps at me.

“Draco! Dear Merlin!” she reaches for me with practiced vehemence and I find myself with an arm full of Daphne. And when she finally lets go, she is crying of course, dabbing at her silent tears with a silk handkerchief.

I know at that very moment that this going to go downhill from here.

In the next half hour, Daphne reminds me why I never bothered with her in the first place when I was in the same year as her. BESIDES the OBVIOUS reason.

She is the perfect specimen of a Slytherin house-wife. Proper, covertly ambitious, simpering just beneath the surface.

She is the proper pure-blood witch through and through. And I wonder how she ended up working for LUNA LOVEGOOD of all people. So I ask her. And her answer is, that its temporary and she intends to go work for Witch’s weekly once she’s made a good forte’ with Quibbler.

I start thinking what has happened to me. I mean Pansy used to be worse than this and I kept up with her for years most because I was like that too. Proper, hateful, cruel and obnoxiously arrogant. To say I have changed in the past Seven years would be an understatement.

Throughout the conversation I keep noticing the calculating looks she keeps sending me, paired perfectly with flirtatious looks. I guess what she is seeing right now sitting in front of her is not me Draco Malfoy but a big fat sack of galleons.

I must be quite the catch.

By the time dessert arrives, she has somehow moved closer to my chair, which in my estimation waa already as close as it is to be appropriate.

She is talking nostalgically of the Slytherin Parties we used to have in the dungeons and the pranks we used to play on each other. She is in the middle of telling her story. When I feel the familiar warmth in my chest. I look around slowly wondering if I am just imagining it, or if it’s really happening. My eyes find him immediately. Standing just by the doorway that leads to the backyard  where all the outdoor tables are set he is facing away from me giving me a profile view of him in his Auror robes, looking for someone inside perhaps? He slowly turns away from the door. His eyes distant and thoughtful. He is breath-taking. I fell in love with him when he was nothing but a small, awkward postured teenager. And now he is what he is, and most probably doesn’t even realize it. Now I feel like worshipping him. He looks like a statue, Like a god, looking down at his minions and watching their antics with boredom, watching but not really looking at anything particularly.

 I notice that he looks fresh and rested. The dark circles under his eyes are almost gone. Then he slowly looks up from where he is staring, scans the crowd rather indifferently until his eyes stop before reaching me, and a line appears on his forehead. As if he has seen something he does not like. It seems that he is looking at Daphne, but I am too intrigued by his little gives to look away from him or even blink. His eyes move to me and the beginning of the frown that was appearing on the face disappears. It just goes blank.

“Draco?” Daphne touches my arm making me break the eye-contact and look at her.

“Yes… So about the interview?” I ask straightening up slightly in my chair. Before I steal a look again at the spot where Potter was standing just a second ago to find it empty.

 It makes me wonder if he was there at all in the first place or if I am starting to hallucinate.

 

 

I wonder.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 13 : Confronting a Malfoy

 

All along the tears may fall like rain from your eyes,

But listen to me my one, always live in love,

Oh Shock of love, don’t let me wake…

Don’t let my feet, the ground take…(Gulzar)

 

“So what do you have to say about love?” Cho Chang asked cheerfully which was all too condescending and fake for Harry’s taste. And today he was not in mood for someone he once cared deeply for to give his first ever kiss and be second best for looking like Rita Skeeter. For that is what Cho Chang looked and talked like.

“Love?” he asked disinterestedly.

“Yes love.”

“Love as in familial? Patriotic? Or the entity itself.” Hermione’s warning glare decides it for him. This was going to be one hell of an interview that Cho Chang or all sitting in the room would never ever forget. And next time someone came to him for an exclusive, they would think a million times about their questions.

“Oh Harry dear! I mean it as in Romantic love… you know, between a girl and guy? And stuff like that.. but I am intrigued by what you said in the end. Love, The entity itself.”

“So do you want me to talk about romantic love or love the entity itself?” He asks cooly

“How about both?” she answers lips twitching a little in impatience. This was so not the girl he asked out to Yule ball all butterflies fluttering in his stomach.

“No, you get to choose one only.”

“Okay then, since our readers are more interested in your life than your philosophy I will choose Romantic love.” Cho snaps at him. Annoyed and irritated now.

“And that is the saddest thing isn’t it Cho? People claim to love me, but the only thing they want to know about regarding me is how my romantic life is, not what I think of or how I really treasure love.” He sneers the way he is sure he has only seen Malfoy doing.

“Harry this is an interview for ‘Witch’s weekly’, not ‘Wizarding life Extraordinaire’!” He pointedly ignored Hermione.

“And are you of opinion that A witch’s life cannot be extraordinary? And all she has to suffice on is Gossip about a person who’s biggest accomplishment in anyone’s eyes should be being young enough to have a sizzling love-life? Really?”

“You were the one who asked me to pick one?”

“And so you chose gossip over philosophy?”

“I chose what would please my readership Harry.”

“And you really think that me liking Romantic walks on the beach and sex in the shower is more important than me thinking that love is the only force of life that has pulled me out of jaws of imminent death more than once. That the love of my parents and the love of my teachers and friends holds less importance or will please your readership less? Really Cho? And I thought you were a Ravenclaw, smartest of the lot.”

“Who the hell do you think you are? How dare you insinuate that I do not care about what real love is?”

“I am the guy who fought the war Cho, that is who I am. I am the guy who saw Cedric die, Sirius Drift away, Dumbledore fall and Snape bleed. But yes, I like small intimate dinners, meaningful gifts, and sightseeing. And I believe love is the reason the world keeps revolving. And I have yet to find reason for me to keep on revolving as well.”

At that point Cho Chang was once again crying and rushing out of the room, her quick-quote quill suspended mid-air. As Hermione looked on at him sadly. This felt like a dejavu

 

 


 

 

I stand just by the weird potted-palm with red leaves that Luna gifted Seamus at the opening. It is a good place to watch all entrances to the restaurant and the reception desk as well. I am waiting for Luna for lunch. Our appointment earlier had to be cancelled because of an urgent meeting with the whole team assigned on the Firenze murder case.

 I am sure we discussed a lot of important things in the meeting while Stoltorm stared at me more than was appropriate with those eerie blue eyes. Though I never caught what was being said in the meeting, my mind was still buzzing as thoughts swirled and bubbled of an indescribable feeling trapped in my chest. Only thing that kept me grounded enough to not totally drift off like a Helium balloon was Stoltorm’s unrelenting gaze homed in on me. It was intriguing and irritating all at the same times.

He did not say a word to me though. Not until he caught up with me in the MLE department corridor an hour later, out of nowhere. All mystery and intrigue and smiling in that strangely chilling way.

“Was he a close friend? The Centaur that was murdered?” he asked me in the soft and husky voice, his words crystal clear without a touch of foreign accent, eyes almost turquoise blue. His longish blond hair tied back. Golden blond with lighter streaks on the top sleek and straight and texture in contrast with Draco’s more voluminous and slightly wavy silver hair with a light blonde hue to them than streaks.

Fuck! Stop thinking about Draco Malfoy for one bloody second! I chastised myself.

“Not very close, but a friend enough…” I reply vaguely. I did not know if I should trust him.

“He was your professor at school as well?”

“Yes, but not for one of my favorite subjects…”

“Ah… not interested in Divinity? Future? Prophecies? Fortune-telling?”

“Enforcer Stoltorm, I lost my family and childhood. Met the killing curse twice, was pursued by a mad man through my school years which should have been the recompense for my already disappointing childhood... All because of a Prophecy… What do you think?”

He nodded solemnly.

“I apologize! I thought quite the opposite actually… The way a prophecy lead you to become who you are now in the first place, I guessed that you would be more interested in Divinity and prophecies than holding resentment.”

He made sense actually. Of all the things I should have paid more attention to Prophecies than I have so far. I make a mental note to talk to Hermione about it.

 I notice four of the girls from the department coming out of the break-room all laughing at some joke until it all stops abruptly as their eyes settled on my companion.

Yes, I noticed then, that he was exceptionally good-looking, hence the reaction. I remember I used to get that reaction in the beginning. That was before most of these girls ended up on assignments with me at one time or another and the novelty wore off. For which no one could be more thankful than me to be honest. I prefer avoiding friendships and dalliances at work at all costs. It was and remains a cardinal rule and I believe it is the very reason why my life has remained so uncomplicated for past 7 years.

In time his concentration shifts when he sees me distracted and glances at the girls all frozen mid-step.

I saw him smile boldly at them all before he inclined his head in a sophisticated courtesy. Suave and smooth and charming and all too dangerous. Before he nodded at me and took his leave. I stared after him wondering what this bloke’s story was? I made a point to get more information on him. It should not be too difficult with that surname of his. Not to forget that he knows Draco too and I should have done that last night after I returned from the Manor.

My mind drifts again. Trying to figure out how I should react to Malfoy when I see him next. If I should owl him? If I should just drop by the manor again. Or just simply stalk him. See what he does? Who he meets?

 

I can’t believe I am seriously thinking about stalking him again.

But why? What I have faced, heard, seen since last night leaves very little to doubt in the situation.

What do I need to confirm by stalking him? There are not enough hours in the day for him to be plotting some grand scheme of taking over the world. Which should be the ‘only’ reason to stalk him.

This… connection or misjudgment or some strange sort of … Infatuation which possessed me to hurl myself at him like a pathetic damsel in distress, is something to be ashamed of. Not something to pursue.

My control is horrendous when it comes to him as it has been proven time and time again since his return. Stalking him would be a bad idea… Always.

The last time I stalked Malfoy, it did not end well. The results still stay on top of my memory pyre. Memories I can only wish to burn out of my head but sadly can’t.

This time?

I might have told myself back then that I had a very legitimate reason to stalk Draco and I might have had them too…

This time I don’t have any such legitimate reason. He is totally above the table. Busy with bringing his life back on track, and taking care of his fortune and dating plus looking cozy with that blonde uptight snob Daphne Greegrass under the Canopies that ‘I’ enchanted, for Finnegan’s.

What?

What is he doing here? With her?

Silver grey eyes are trained on me. He must have noticed me way before I noticed him.

Shit!

I realize that I can’t face him right now.

Not with the mood I am in. I would lose it and do something even more appalling than all I have already done.

Sometimes my auror instincts are really pathetic!

His companion touches him to gain back his attention.

And I have never felt more alone in my life. As he turns away from me and smiles at her.

Her slender hand still on his forearm.

It is too much.

‘Just find a corner and die Harry why don’t you? Swooning over Draco bloody Malfoy like a pathetic fan girl.’ Says the voice in my mind that sounds awfully like Snape. It’s the voice that always chastises me for indulging in my self-pity parties.

The hatred that rises in me for myself is suffocating enough. And even if my Auror instincts are pathetic at times I am always endlessly thankful for the Auror-reflexes. I am not sure if I can call them Auror reflexes at all since I gained them more or less during the war against Voldemort.

I slip away quietly with stealth. If just stumbling upon him makes me feel this way, I can only imagine all that I will have to face if I was properly stalking him.

If a simple touch of Daphne’s hand on his arm makes me want to vomit my guts out, I wonder what witnessing him kissing her would feel like?

I can’t even dare to imagine it.

Surely I am going insane. What the fuck is wrong with me?

Two days ago, I was threatening and loathing Draco Malfoy like there was no tomorrow.

And now I am feeling like a jilted lover just because he is having lunch with his girlfriend.

No, that’s not right, Daphne can’t be his girlfriend. He’s not been back for ten days yet. It’s too soon.

‘Maybe I am assuming too much.’ A thought whispers. Immediately cooling my nausea down. As I stride down Diagon Alley, not really thinking about where I am going.

The house-elf said ‘a special friend’, it could be anyone. Draco could have been in the manor and might have just asked the elf to get rid of me. I did not go there in my official capacity did I?

And maybe he was just having lunch discussing the interview? I mean, they did not look ‘that’ cozy. He would not have noticed me standing so far away if he was genuinely enthralled by her … boo-…conversation? She was definitely paying attention to him though.

WHY AM I EVEN THINKING ABOUT THIS? I bang my fist fruitlessly on my mahogany desk and notice for the first time that I am actually in my office. How I got here, is not very clear. I know I walked.

A memo whizzes in through my half open door. The silver color of the parchment telling me that its straight from the minister. Taking a deep breath I unfold it. It’s the same query. Asking progress on Firenze’s case. I wonder why he doesn’t send Robards these memos. He is the head of Magical Law enforcement.

I have a feeling that this case is going to be a long and dragged out one. The killers are in mood of playing and with the magic arsenal they seem to have at hand, they would play a long hard game. I just hope we win in the end.

They are trying to get a rise out of me. Using Dumbledore and Draco in one go. Provoking me. But I am not falling for that. I am going to wait calmly. I am not going to give them the satisfaction to see me running around and finding dead ends and humiliating and exhausting myself. The one killed is now gone. The best I can do is ensure that the murderers are caught and for that I will have to be very cold and very steady.

“For an Ex-savior of the wizarding world and poster boy of the Auror department, I must say that your Auror instincts are horrendously pathetic.”

The shock of it pushes me to look up so fast at the visitor that the bones in my neck click ominously.

There he stands, leaning carelessly in my door way. Looking like an incarnation of Apollo, all sunlight and artistry.

When in the name of Merlin did Draco Malfoy become so… Beautiful.

His skin is glowing in the afternoon sun. The Peacock blue of his fashionable robes making a perfect contrast with the ivory of his skin and the silver…

Oh Dear Merlin his eyes are too much, like frozen flames as the afternoon light reflects into them. I can’t stand to look into them and look away nodding my head in ascent and fixing my eyes on the carved and shining silver buttons of his perfectly fit robes.

“I was just thinking the same thing.” I hear a husky and alien voice say before I realize it is mine.

He cocks his head, I only catch the action from my peripheral before he carelessly enters my office space like he owns it. I can see his silver eyes swiveling around and skimming through the little displays of me that my office contains.

Suddenly the office I have always been proud of looks very small and insignificant.

His expression gives away nothing other than curiosity as his eyes skim over the books on the shelves and then to the wall on the left side that has framed pictures of almost all my friends and loved ones and my God children of course. 

He settles gracefully on the chair across from me and places a hard paper bag with the Finnegan’s logo on my desk, pushing it towards me.

“Life cannot get more bizarre I tell you Potter when someone like Finnegan, without any scruples, hands me a bag full of food, meant for Harry Potter.” he drawls. I watch the bag that promises food and realize that I am extremely hungry.

“I’ll tell you Malfoy, that life is going to get more bizarre when Harry Potter accepts the said food without any scruples and consumes it right in front of you.” I pull the bag towards me and open it to find a perfect mini chicken casserole waiting for me, heated and preserved under stasis. I can feel his eyes drilling into me incredulously.

“I would offer to share it with you had I not known that you just had lunch ‘and’ a show.” I say nonchalantly.

I look up at him to see him looking at me with a raised brow. I ignore it. I have already given too much ground.

“Well, that’s a very vague statement. I can’t tell if you are being jealous or envious.” His sharp eyes are settled on me. Relentless. I can feel my collar closing in around my neck under the silver scrutiny.

“Daphne is very pretty… no doubt about that.” I answer shrugging. I realize fully well that I am engaged in a confrontation here. He is asking me to reveal my true feelings. He is asking me if what happened in the elevator yesterday was elemental or just reaction.

I want to answer that question. I want to tell him that it was not a reaction. I want to tell him that it has been building up with in me from the moment I laid my eyes on him during Narcissa’s funeral. That deny as I have, I cannot ‘not’ acknowledge my feelings here and that he overwhelms me in such a primal way that I lose sense of everything, surrounding, setting, orientation… I want to tell him that he makes me feel alive in a way I have not been in past seven years. He infuriates and fascinates me just by breathing. Such aching beauty. Such magnetism… and something even more that I can’t put my finger on.

But, will it be wise to do what I want? How will he use it? Process it? All these feelings. What if he rejects me? What if he laughs?

You see, being numb does not let you enjoy life to its full, but it saves you from enduring pain also.

“That she is…” he pauses for a moment. The glitter in his eyes fades a bit “… My elf told me that you visited the Manor last night while I was away, so I decided to visit you now to ask how I can be of assistance, if that is what you came for last night?”

I count to ten mentally while I place a fork full of the warm casserole in my mouth. I would have moaned in delight at the taste and warmth and freshness of it, had it been anyone but Draco Malfoy sitting in front of me. I chew thoughtfully and swallow quickly before I answer.

“I just came to apologize and inquire if you were doing all right, because I found my wand smudged with your blood after my really uncalled for threatening in the elevator… So I am sorry… are you okay? And how did you get that injury? And of course the most important question… How do you know Erik Stoltorm?” I count off on my fingers. I know I am being extremely rude here.

But then again, when haven’t he and I not been rude. Doesn’t matter if I am acting like a bitter jilted lover here. I take a forkful of the chicken casserole once again. And for a moment I realize how bizarre all of this is. A few minute ago I was sitting here nursing my wounded and bleeding heart, feeling nauseous enough that mention of food would have made me retch. And now I am sitting here in front of the person behind all my toils, locked in a confrontation regarding who gives more emotional ground to the other and savoring a Chicken casserole at the same time. This is not leading to a good place.

I glance at him from beneath my lashes to find his eyes fixed on me with a frown marring his perfect face.

“And you don’t want to know where and who I was with last night?” The question is so out of the blue that my fork almost slips from my fingers. Game over. I should have remembered that my opponent here was a Slytherin. Harry Potter, you have been K.Oed

I don’t like this! It is like he can tell that I have been agonizing half the night away over that same bloody question. Cursing Daphne Greengrass to the nines. But I know he is now just being cruel. I am now sure that he knows how I feel. I mean I have pretty much laid it out haven’t I?  So? What to do now Harry? Give in or Give up?

In the end. I am a coward in matters of feelings.

Always have been.

“Doesn’t matter, does it? As long as you are not cavorting with someone out to destroy the wizarding world, I don’t see how that’s my concern...” I answer shrugging.

“But as is my understanding, you were not there in an official capacity.” He says sharply.

“I don’t see what that has to do with anything…”

“Well, it does, when you decided to drop by my house at any time you please. If you were there in your official capacity, I would have understood this indifference now and asked you to not come next time without an official document from the ministry, BUT, if you weren’t there in an official capacity, then I would tell you to stop with this horseshit attitude and Grow up! You come running because I was supposedly bleeding, yet it doesn’t matter… If it doesn’t matter then learn to respect people’s privacy, and if it does matter to you then stop ping-ponging between being a volcano and iceberg lest you have another break down and traumatize someone else in an elevator.”

‘Oh that blew up nicely in your face Potter didn’t it?’ says Professor Snape-like voice in my head.

You fucking traumatized him yesterday. No wonder he ran out of there like there was devil on his heels.

You are such a dysfunctional person really. Can’t feel anything, can’t talk to anyone, collect glass marbles like a fucking psycho, Ping-Pong emotionally between volcano and ice-berg. You are the perfect grown-up version of that scared pathetic boy under the stairs, still friendly with the spiders, sexually harassing people in elevators. Contemplating stalking people. Can’t even reach orgasm without your own hand, your life is so sad, it’s actually funny. And this is what so many people died for? To keep your sorry self alive?

I wonder what I should say to him. A genuine apology perhaps, for traumatizing him yesterday and then just barging into his home without an invitation. We are not friends and not even enemies anymore, though that could have held me together some more.

I delicately place the fork back into the mini casserole dish and how shameful is it that my hands are trembling. Please God! Keep me together for a little longer. I clear my throat and feel an egg-size lump lodged in there.

“I...apologize.” i say finally gathering strength to look up at his face. He is frowning and about to say something else and opens his mouth but then he closes it again. How awkward I have made it all. I have misjudged things from the beginning. I forgot that you can’t take anyone for granted. Not your friends and not your enemies.

“I misjudged the whole situation from the beginning. I intruded on your privacy and I harassed you, in more than one ways and insulted you more than once. I failed to understand that the dynamics of our once non-relationship have changed and I most probably abused my authority as an auror as well, I apologize for it all. You won’t have to face any of that again. Call it chemical imbalance if you would…” I chuckle at that, making light of it

“… it’s been a hectic week or two, but no more of that and though I might still need your assistance with the Firenze murder case, I am sure it can be easily managed through owls. You can rest assured that I won’t be harassing you especially not in elevators or anywhere else, I might even go for some professional help with that ping-pong, volcano-iceberg situation.”

“Potter…” he starts speaking but is cut off when Ron suddenly pokes his head through the door jamb

“Harry! The meeting with curse-breakers is starting come on! Oh, Malfoy…”

“Weasley.” He answers curtly. There is reserve but no scorn.

And I thank merlin for such huge favors. I could not have listened to sympathy or pity coming from Draco as I am sure that is what would have come out from those beautiful lips and I might have just hit the lowest I ever have, had Ron not come just now.

I stand up gathering myself and my emotions and packing them tightly into a box made out of numbness. Draco stands gracefully as well. His expression tense and eyes shining with an inexplicable light. Trained on me. I smile at him politely.

“I am sorry Lord Malfoy, but I would have to cut this short and perhaps ask you another time how you came to find out about ping-pong.” I can tell he sees the storm inside the bottle. Is he regretting confronting me like that? I hope not. He was kind enough to not lead me on and had slapped me in the face before things got out of control. Though my heart is shattering, I am grateful. Better to have your pride blown in private than in public.

Sad little Harry Potter.

“Sure.” He says sternly before he turns and is stepping out of my office as I follow him out. Warding the office silently. Once we are out in the corridor, he turns towards me again, about to say something when I blurt out the most bizarre thing I could have said.

“This blue really suits you, brings out the grey in your eyes.” I say.

He gapes at me for a few seconds and I can tell he is taken completely off-guard.

“Thanks” he says at last in a strange tone.

“Good Bye.” I say swiftly before I walk towards the office at the end of the corridor. Senses closing down. At times like these I can almost bow to Robards who is a master of making you desperately agitated and extremely bored at the same time. I find that is exactly what I need right now.

 


 

I lay awake in bed. Again.

Sleep deprived and disappointed.

I tried to push what happened with Malfoy today at the back of my mind. First with meetings and then when I got back home, with researching on a few things I had mental notes to research.

But now, in confines of my bed, it comes back to haunt me. I want to look at it all as a joke. I mean hypothetically from a neutral point of view, it must be a major brain scramble, the way I have started to feel about Malfoy.

But I can’t. If the ache in my chest and the lump in my throat is any indication, this is not a joke or a brain scramble. I really feel something deep for him. Something extreme and for the first time I am realizing that it might not be hate.

It is fierce and smoldering but it is not hate. But is it love?

I can’t answer that question yet. Especially not with the way things went today.

I give up and let the events of the day run through my mind again.

And then I notice it for the first time.

I quickly get up from the bed grabbing the wand from under my pillow and stride down to the library.

I pull out the Pensieve I found in the Black vault in Gringotts. The liquid swirling serenely, beckoning me.

I put the tip of my wand against my temple and bring the memory of the afternoon to the forefront before I cleanly extract it. The silver sliver of a memory squirms at the tip of my wand before I drop it in to The Pensieve. I swirls as I lean down into it and then the familiar sensation of falling washes all over me.

I watch Malfoy closely throughout the exchange.

By the time I am out of the Pensieve my mind is running at full speed.

‘…if you weren’t there in an official capacity, then I would tell you to stop with this horseshit and grow up! You come running because I was supposedly bleeding, yet it doesn’t matter… If it doesn’t matter then learn to respect people’s privacy, and if it does matter to you then stop ping-ponging between being a volcano and iceberg lest you have another break down and traumatize someone else in an elevator.’

 

I kept turning those words over and over again in my mind. It was seeming to me more and more with every passing second that I had misunderstood his point altogether. How did I not notice his frustration at my supposed indifference? How did I not notice him grabbing for twigs? He had lost his temperament because I refused to come out and tell him something he obviously believed was there between him and I. Of all the things I had said to him “it doesn’t matter” had gotten to him the most, which means that to Draco it matters… a lot.

My heart skipped a beat at the thought. Is he going through the same confusion and frustration that I am going through? Does he feel something for me too, just the way I am starting to feel for him?

You are getting ahead of yourself again. Do not assume too much.

But I need answers to these questions. And there is only one way to find out.

‘A full-blown confession? The thing that Malfoy keeps asking?’

No. That is not happening. Why should I be the one to lay my heart out like that? If he feels something as well, he should tell all before asking me to do so.

‘Err… you haven’t been exactly friendly all along have you? Since his return?’

Ah, yes there is that.

But there is a solution to that problem as well.

“A subtle courtship.” I end up speaking out loud and sound of my own voice startles me.

Sometimes this home becomes a house. All lonely and empty.

I decide to put my best foot forward. There is still hope. And it would be a crime to give up so easily on such initial stages. I have done my due for the most part. Been the noble wizard, the nice guy, I think I deserve a little bit of happiness. Even if it does not side with Malfoy, I shall endeavor for it.

No matter how much I have wanted to have a cookie cutter future for myself, I was never made for it? When has my life ever been normal? And cliché as the statement seem to be…What exactly is normal really?

It has kind of a poetic justice to it does it not? That I should fall for a MALE, and on top of that not just any Male but Draco Malfoy, the cherry on the top of the poisonous cake called Slytherin.

I mean, at Hogwarts, sometimes my hatred and annoyance with Draco Malfoy was even more than what I had for Voldemort.

And now…

Well, now I am going to try and woo him. I am sure that I am going to fall flat on my face because,

  1. Malfoy might be straight, and I am a naturally ungifted when it comes to read signals.
  2. I am a Moron.
  3. My competition is Daphne Greengrass, who is pretty enough to turn a gay man straight, which Draco might be in the first place. Hell even I am not sure if I am gay and on urging of friends and family I have tested and the result still remains convoluted. Which my friends declared as Bisexual.
  4. I am a moron
  5. I am not charming enough, and have no experience with courtship.
  6. I am a Moron!
  7. The notion of me courting Malfoy is so atrocious that I am sure I can ask no one for any kind of help here.
  8. I am a Moron.

Yes, it’s a lost cause. And even if that thought alone is heart-breaking, I have never been one to be discouraged by dead-ends. And even if there is 0.001% possibility of things going in my favor, well… I’ll take it.

Even if in the end we turn out to be as opposite as an Iceberg is to a Volcano.

Prepare Draco Malfoy to be wooed and courted and Harried!

I snicker sinisterly in the flickering light of the candles. My head set on a mission.

Daily Prophet annual charity Gala will not know what hit it when Lord Potter-Black makes an appearance.

Oh shit! Now I sound like Teenage Cinderella or something.

With a light feeling in my heart, still snickering at the visualization, I finally make it upstairs to the bed again.


 

 

“So… Who are you taking to the Charity Gala on Saturday? I heard Luna is going with Rolfe.” I looked up to see my best friend looking at me with a curious expression.

“Erm… it’s sort of a surprise…” I say turning back to the Quidditch quarterly that I am skimming through as we have lunch at Finnegan’s. For past three days I have been planning meticulously and spying subtly all facets and aspects of my possible courtship of Draco Malfoy and how the opening act is going to be staged at the Charity gala. On top of that I have been avoiding Malfoy at all costs and have been on the verge of severing my writing hand off to stop myself from owling him. The urge is unnaturally over-whelming.

Now only one stumbling block remains.

My scheduled visit to Helga’s bode to see Teddy and Andromeda, and somehow, my Auror instinct which is rubbish, is worrying itself to death with the notion that Malfoy is going to be there. I do not want to confront him before I start courting him. No, that has not come out of any of the relationship and dating books Hermione bought me over the year. This plan of action is all my own. I want to do everything my way, no falsifications. All Harry Potter. Take it or leave it.

“That’s new… And so is this restless twitching and avoidance Harry…What is the matter?” I knew Hermione would figure out that I was up to something.

“Nothing! Nothing is the matter…what makes you think something is?” I ask defensively, only to see her eyes narrow even more.

“Don’t tell me you are planning to ditch the whole event! You are one of the reasons they make so much money every year Harry! You can’t just give up on a good cause because you are shy! Think of the…”

“… YES, the orphans and the destitutes and the unicorn reservation and the Dumbledore Scholarship and Dragon reservation. No Hermione I am not skipping the Gala, I promised the people from these charities that I will be there. I even signed up for the Bachelor Auction this year…”

“You…What?” this time its Ron who almost chokes mid-bite.

“But you loathe the Bachelor Auction! And I have been trying to get you in for years now. In facti started this conversation for that purpose itself!”

“Saved you breath then didn’t I?” I shrug indifferently.

“You are up to something aren’t you? I know you Harry Potter… and I know when you are doing something behind our backs because you think we won’t approve of it. Just like I knew in 6th year!”

For a moment I blank out at that statement. 6th year? Does she suspect then? Does she know? Because, during past few days I have been reviewing all my memories of stalking Draco in 6th year in the Pensieve. And a lot of things I did back then and the way I acted now suggest to me that my obsession with Draco was neither something new nor normal.

“Know what in sixth year?” I try to keep my query calm.

“About the Potions Harry! I knew you were cheating, I knew you could never be that good in Potions without help and what do you know, it was Snape’s potions book in you hand, the book of one the best potioneers in Potions history and also one of the darkest spell writers of his age. And in the end, you almost killed Draco because of that darn book!”

“Aww! Come on Mione! Now you are getting too extreme, what does Harry’s surprise date to the Gala has anything to do with Half-blood prince’s book? Really  sweetheart! Sometimes you start to sound barmy… really!”

Sometimes I can almost kiss Ron for his impeccable timing in coming to rescue me.

But in light of my new inclinations, it sort of makes my stomach turn.

“this the problem with both of you! You just don’t take care before you do something wrong, and then once it goes wrong, you come running to me for help…” she has turned on Ron and pretty soon I am sure the main point of this discussion will be forgotten entirely.

“And that my love, is only one of the million reasons why you alone reign my heart and will keep on doing until the day it stops beating.” Ron says putting a hand on his chest and unaware of the pasta sauce smudged at the side of his lips. He looks ridiculous, but I can see Hermione’s eyes shining at him though her nose is still turned up in an expression of fake annoyance and now they are staring at each other in that love-struck way they always do and I take that as my cue to leave.

On the way back to office, I wonder about that. The kind of romance Ron and Hermione still have. I wonder if I will have something like that someday. It is nothing short of amazing how polar opposites like Ron and Hermione or Molly and Arthur or Bill and Fleur can have such a perfect romance and such a wonderful marriage. This sort of makes me hope, though I don’t dare to do so, that if, and it’s a BIG IF, Draco and I end up together, perhaps we would also have something like that, being polar opposites as we are, not to mention my absolutely clean slate when it comes to relationships, and a relationship with another male?

It’s daunting.

But then so was finding Horcruxes and killing Voldemort.

It can’t be more daunting than that? Can it?

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

  He set the world aflame,

And laid me on the same;

A hundred tongues of fire

Lapped round my pyre.

And when the blazing tide

Engulfed me, and I sighed,

Upon my mouth in haste

His hand He placed. (Rumi)

 

In the two months that Draco had resided in the Stoltorm castle in Sweden he had only heard the name and stories regarding Egil Stoltorm. The somewhat mischievous (from Erik’s stories) and downright psychopathic (from the house-elves account) twin brother of Erik Stoltorm.

He could not tell much of him from the portrait except that Egil looked exactly like his other twin. They were as identical as identical twins get.

Draco, it turned out, was extremely wrong in his assumption.

Egil Stoltorm was nothing like his twin brother other than his outward appearance. That only limited to the similarity in features and structure. The expression and the countenance were as different as can be between two people.

There was darkness in Egil that was too large and too controlled. And that was the deadliest combination possible.

Erik Stoltorm had his dark moments. He was a Stoltorm after all, but his sanity and a sense of order and appreciation of beauty ruled him. He had instinctual nobility and a sense of justice which had totally missed out in presence in his twin brother, who was calculated, devious and too fond of finding ugliness of injustice beautiful. In his perspective, justice was only whatever was to his advantage.

The way Draco deduced it, Erik was devoted to his brother, and it was a perfectly normal way to be as Egil was Erik’s only surviving family. But then there was Egil, who was even more devoted to Erik, but not in the same way.

Draco had noticed that in the very first encounter with Egil.

It was the way he looked at Draco when his brother introduced Draco to him for the first time, but it had been overshadowed by the fact that he, just like his brother, had detected the dark magic of Necromancy inside Draco straight away. Only, where Erik had been respectful and fascinated of it, Egil was greedily inquisitive and demanding. From that very moment Draco had known, that all was not right with Egil, and he was, for the lack of a better term, the cliché Evil twin in the pair.

But, even in his dreams Draco would not have imagined what was actually between brothers.

Not until he stumbled upon it, by accident, or by design, he could only speculate forever.

He had been passing through the Corridor just outside Erik’s private study to retrieve a book from the small dining area where he had been reading from it earlier in the evening, when the barely muffled heated conversation and Draco’s assumed name mentioned in the middle of it, stopped Draco in his tracks.

Instinct and curiosity made him walk closer to the closed door.

Casting a small transfiguration charm he turned a small globular flower engraving on the door in to one-way glass. It was one of the first spells he had learnt the summer between his sixth and seventh year alongside a whole pallette of other such spying, unintrusive spells. Most of them he had fashioned himself. He realized that for spying you had to be quick thinking and a little creative. And Draco was both. 

Since the one he was using now to spy on the two brothers was non-intrusive and not graded as an offensive or dark spell, it bypassed most privacy wards and there was none placed on the door in the first place. He cast a disillusionment charm just in-case. He was not one to betray the trust or privacy of a man who had proven to be a friend but if he was being discussed so vehemently, he found this little spying sort of justified. Self-preservation. 

Egil Stoltorm sat perched on the arm rest of the couch just on the other side of Erik’s elaborate desk. While Erik kneeled in front of the fire place just across from him stoking at the merry flames. His face pensive and grim.  Draco had never seen Erik looking so grim.

“So what? Why do you defend him so? You know what he is…What he is capable of… yet you would not push him to do your bidding, you will not even ask him for it? How long has it been our dream Erik? To reach the Yggdrasill, to make the prophecy true? Now a chance has fallen in your lap, the Gods are smiling upon us, yet you would do nothing? Why?” Egil stood from his perch, taking a step towards his brother his hands visibly trembling and eyes pleading genuinely.  Erik sighed tiredly, turning around with a stern yet resigned face. It was as if he knew what he was about to say would not bid well with the other twin.

They looked so alike, yet so different, and Draco had a distinct feeling that he was about to witness something very important.

“Egil! It’s not that simple. His power is incomplete. And even if it was complete, To reach Yggdrasill and to encounter its guardians is impossible, I would be asking him to forfeit his life Egil. It was a dream! Just that, a dream! We were boys, isolated and lonely boys. It was a fantasy that you and I endeavored for. And to pursue it now would be a deal with death…” Erik explained calmly, as if trying to talk down an agitated animal.

But Draco could tell it was a lost cause when Egil’s face turned blank and haunted. There was a lot underneath the surface. Erik must have noticed it as well as he reached out a hand but oddly hesitated from touching his brother. This action somehow enraged the other twin even more.

“Yes, of course, it was fantasy, a dream, you would deny it, because that is all you do, isn’t it Erik? You deny…” Snarled Egil.

“Egil… not that again please…” this time Erik did take hold of his Brother’s forearm. But Egil shrugged it off violently.

“No! Not that again of course. Why that again? Why would it matter to you, when you have that young lover of yours to fuck when you wish, why would I matter anymore? Why would my love, my desire, my fantasies or dreams matter to you? You have never loved me… I gave myself to you! But you want to erase the memory altogether because you don’t love me! But you love him don’t you? Why? Because of his silver eyes? Youth? What does he have that I don’t? I have only ever asked you one thing and you deny me it, yet you give him everything and then you claim that I matter the most to you?”

Draco could hardly believe what he was hearing as he watched Egil clutch the lapels of his Brother’s starched white shirt violently, rage and mania so apparent in tear-filled eyes. He hardly knew what to make of it.

Erik took hold of his brother’s arms and shook him violently before crushing him in an almost violent embrace, his face scrunched up in fury and concern.

 

“EGIL STOP IT! There is no such thing between me and Silbern and you know it, and you know why!” Erik whispered fiercely to his brother who was still shaking in his embrace.

“I know! I know! You would not touch him. You promised me. I know you keep your promises. Erik!” mumbled Egil, in his brother’s shoulder and finally embraced him back, his agile hands rubbing and smoothing his brother’s back and waist in a gesture that was too intimate between brothers.

“You are the most jealous and infuriating creature that ever breathed!” Erik whispered in his brother’s ear affectionately. A small relieved smile was dancing on his lips. Egil untangled himself a fraction to look into his brother’s face his face gracing a breath-taking smile.

“I try…” he simple answered. Before rushing forward and devouring Erik’s lips in a heated kiss that was more fire than a kiss and they both let free identical groans between their open joined mouths. Draco stood frozen in shock for a few seconds witnessing something he should have been expecting all along.

 The passionate kiss went on with no intentions of stopping anytime soon. Tongues tangled and whatever distance remained between the identical bodies closed to non-existence. Rushing, rubbing and gasping with practiced and passionate movement between old lovers who knew the other’s body better than their own.

Draco turned away from the door so fast he almost stumbled on his own feet. His mind buzzing with enough outrage and shock that it felt like it was about to explode. Half of his mind telling him to look more and other half telling him to walk away.

What he did, made him almost loath himself for it being so Gryffindorish. But this was too much for his Slytherin self as well.

He walked away of course.

 

 

 

 


And I thought I was a walking talking contradiction.

In all things it seems as if it is the sole purpose of Harry Potter’s existence to confuse, infuriate and snatch position from me.

He just has to show me up in every way possible, without trying or even knowing he is doing so.

-          First he shows me up by being Harry Potter and refusing my friendship. First year.

(Yes and he does for Ronald Fucking Weasley. It doesn’t only show me up because he refused my HAND of friendship in front of all my Year-mates and no, it doesn’t show me up because Ronald Weasley is Poor or came from a family of blood traitors who procreated way too often. NO, though everyone might have thought so, the reason in my eleven year old mind is THAT RONALD WEASLEY IS AN IDIOT! He is UNINTELLIGENT, UNSOPHISTICATED and UNTALENTED. He was an absolute Oaf and worse of the Weasley lot. Even at that age I knew well of the Powerful and talented Bill Weasley who was apprenticing one of my father’s frequent acquaintances who never stopped praising the curse-breaker. Or the strong Charlie Weasley the young Dragon keeper who had already invented two remarkable ways of preserving Dragon Egg-shells and Dragon Heart strings. Or Percy Weasley, the shrewd and formidable head-boy and top scorer in all subjects. And do I even mention the Twins? Who are one day going to end up on the chocolate-frog cards for sure? Ronald Weasley was not only a late bloomer in magic, but also a weak one. And to be rejected against Ronald Weasley was an insult that was unbearable.)

-          Second he shows me up by beating me really badly at seeking the snitch. Second year.

(And I was particularly talented in Quidditch, I had learnt how to fly a proper broom when I was five! I was nothing short of prodigal. My father may have bought the whole team new brooms but it was as a reward for selecting me. I had made it to the team because of my talent, Severus would not allow it any other way, no matter what people generally thought of him. There has never been a person more dedicated to a legitimate win than Severus, not even Harry bloody Potter or Merlin forbid ALBUS DUMBLEDORE, who was a master at deception. Though he used it for benign reasons, allegedly.)

-          Third he shows me up with that beast of a Hippogriff!

(Though at that point I might have been inclined to take every accomplishment of Harry Potter as a personal offence, so the new equalized me does not know whether to add the hippogriff incident to the list of showing me ups or no. But, I might as well. No friend of Harry Potter was ever friendly to me and that Hippogriff was absolutely in love with Potter from the first time Potter laid a hesitant yet affectionate hand on it. And why wouldn’t it? Falling for Harry Potter is unavoidable. One more reason to hate the beast I guess.)

The list can go on for a life-time even if I haven’t yet lived a whole life-time in shadow and loathe and love and adoration of Harry Potter.

But when he says…

“The Blue really suits you, brings out the grey in our eyes.” His eyes are wide open and a glint of passion and devastation is concealed just underneath the blazing green and for some reason at that very moment his eyes flick for a moment to my lips. I cannot help my surprise and immediate reset of emotions, from sorrow, determination, confusion and loss to fascination, incredulity, anticipation and sheer desire.

Was that a signal?

I want to pin him to the wall and kiss and bite him until he tells me WHAT THE FUCK HE WANTS FROM ME?

Does he want me to let it all go? Does he want me to pursue him? Does he want me to agree with the cauldron of shit that he just said in his office, about him misunderstanding ‘me’ and keeping distance from me and not Harrassing me? Does he want me to defy him? Disagree? Duel? Cheat? Fuck?

Does he want me to LOVE him? And keep loving him the way I have done? Worship him? Hold him?

WHAT DOES HARRY POTTER WANT?

If only things could’ve been that simple.

He simply turns and walks away.

And how bad is it that rather than watching his back and thinking of its metaphorical implications. I am thinking of how perfect and strong and beautiful it is in its shape. All broad and taut with graceful muscles and how it tapers down to a slim waist more enhanced in the perfect cut of the dark-red auror robes that swish around and hide from me the view of the perfect round glob----...

I am hopeless. 

 

 

 


“Oh this color really becomes you lord Malfoy. I think this is just perfect. Really does a lot for your strapping figure and…”

I look at myself critically draped in the very risqué (in my opinion) ever-green brocade robes tuning out the nervous assistant old Berkeley has left to assist me to attend to another customer.

I wonder when such a task as this became so mundane to me. Trying and buying new robes used to be one of my favorite past-times, something that my mother and I bonded over. From the beginning I knew that no matter how much it was needed for the Malfoy lineage and how much my mother repressed it, she had always wanted a daughter. Unfortunately, my birth had been an extremely difficult one, and in the end rendered my mother unable to bear future children. So I remained alone. Raised alone. With a father who was too busy clearing his name and working his non-existent sweat off to remain in political and social favor and a mother who assisted her husband in such endeavors whilst probably pining and depressing herself for not being able to bear another child and at that a girl, perhaps several.

I tell you, that is how you end up on the wrong-side of war and make irrevocable errors in judgment.

Knowing how alone you are, how everything weighs down on you, centuries worth of Malfoy legacy, comes down to sit upon your shoulders. The weight of pursuing excellence, powerful magic, family honor, social status, producing a worthwhile off-spring.

Yes, for a child, a teenager, the realization that he is supposed to do all of this, especially the last one and that there is no chance of failure, is an extreme pressure. And to realize at the same time that he is in love with his arch-nemesis who also happens to be another boy and on the other side of the metaphorical fence. Well… it was isolating.

Loneliness and isolation has a way of expanding your vision to see the whole universe and yet make your perspective as small as looking through a key-hole.

And through my keyhole, I could only see Harry Potter.

I still only see Harry Potter.

I look in the mirror not at the fine robes or how they look on my body.

What I actually see is if it brings out the grey in my eyes? Just like Harry mentioned about the blue.

Because I know that Harry is just as lonely and isolated as me, so he must have a keyhole he is looking through as well, and if he has noticed me, then I will make sure that he sees nothing but me, just the way I have for years.

It’s only fair.

I turn around to tell the assistant that I have made my choice. Only to feel the sudden rush of magic as Berkeley enters the dressing room with Erik Stoltorm in tow towering and swaggering with the grace of a leopard. His eyes home in on me the very next second. I can feel my dark magic responding though I clench my fist to clamp it down.

“Ah! What do the Americans say at a time like this?...” I hear his exclaim brightly in that low silky voice, blue eyes shining with mirth.  “Yes! Fancy seeing you here…. Lord Malfoy yes?” his smile is a reminder to me why there is whatever there is between me and him. Friendship, camaraderie or exchange of shattering secrets…

“Fancy it is Lord Stoltorm…” I smile a tight smile as I feel the weight of his privacy ward surround the room. His magic strong and steel cold as always.

“Now now… though I might be reacquainting myself here with Draco Malfoy, you already are acquainted with poor old me… and as such you should still call me Erik.” He closes the distance between us swiftly. This time there is no one to distract him to my chagrin. No one to take possession of me so easily and order my escape.

I glance around the room to find it empty. I figure this confrontation was inevitable.

“Ah yes! This is a good choice, does bring out the grey in your eyes like the blue did…” he says easily smoothing a hand across my shoulder.

I narrow my eyes at him as I place his words. Has he been spying on me? Or worse, on Harry?

“I do hope so, that is why I selected it.” I say turning around towards the mirror I was facing earlier and start unbuttoning my robe, pointedly ignoring him as he moves even closer behind me. I can feel the tentative touch of those long fingers in the middle of my back as he smiles sadly at me in the mirror from above my shoulder and gives out a cool sigh.

“It is fate worse than death, to be in love with someone who will never love you back… but it is not your fate Draco.” His voice is nothing above a whisper.

“And it is yours.” I say too quickly before I realize in horror what I have just uttered as an acute look of pain reflects in his eyes, before he veils it with closing his eyes and inhaling sharply.

“I… apologize Erik, I should not have said that.”

“What? Should not have said the truth? No Draco. Yours are the only lips that I can hear the truth from. No one else. It is why I’ve come seeking, to face the truth, to find the one I love who does not love me back enough to move from the path of destruction he has chosen, and destroy him before he destroys the one you love and who loves you back.” I take a deep breath. Here it is, the truth of it all.

“So it is Egil? The one who desecrated Dumbledore’s tomb and killed the centaur?”

“No, it is not Egil… No, my Egil would never do such a thing; it is what my brother created out of his misplaced hate and imagined slights. It is the abomination called Minatio that commits such crimes. Egil is no longer in control.”

“And you are so sure that Egil and Minatio are separate? It is time that you realize Erik, that Egil is Minatio and Minatio is Egil, they are not two entities in the same body. And try I will, but, I do not think I would be able to separate one from the other.”

“But you could! Draco I have learned of your mastery in Thaumaturgy in Shida Miryo. You could try Draco, I need you to try! I know how hard it will be for you to bestow kindness upon someone who threatens Harry. But I need you to try, I need to have a reason to hope that I can have him back, he is all I have Draco.”

I don’t know if it is cruelty or kindness to nod my head in ascent and see a sparkle blooming in those ice-blue eyes and a small smile playing on his lips.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth while it brings back too many memories that I could do without.

 

 

 


Conflict and tension from the afternoon at Berkeley’s shop and my meeting with Erik Stoltorm follows me to bed that night. I cannot stop thinking about the proud and vehement pleading coming from him and they feel like shards of glass rolling around in my head.

There stood Erik Stoltorm, proud and beautiful, with the world at his feet, pleading to me, to do the impossible for his twin-brother… and lover. For the forbidden love and passion that I can imagine all too well, especially after witnessing it.

The memory is still as clear as a most beautiful yet deadly sharp crystal in my mind. How fate chose one out of two, how that behemoth magic chose one and condemned the other, and how I stood there, a witness and a vessel to greatness of one lover and destruction of the other.

I wish I had not agreed to finding Yggdrasill. I wish I had not followed a prophecy I did not whole of. But I had made those mistakes. And I carry that guilt wherever I go.

But then I think, it wasn’t really a choice. It was how fate was planned out. It was how it was supposed to be. How easy it would be if the same fate would now tell me to go which way.

One thing is as clear as day to me now.

Harry and I have a very specific part to play.

And Harry and I need to stop the darkness that is Minatio together.

The only thing that worries me here is.

Minatio apparently knows it too.

But to what extent, I do not know.

The possibility of a confession always weighs down in some part of my conscience. I can tell Harry everything and hope that he will understand.

But understanding has never been Harry’s strong suit. And what of when he learns that I murdered in cold-blood? That I am a practitioner of dark and forbidden magic? That I have played an undeniably important part in bringing about the darkness that is almost onto us? That I am the reason Egil Stoltorm, who now calls himself Lord Minatio, is going to target Harry and his friends too from the looks of it?

You have weaved quite an impossible web around you Draco Malfoy.

Difficult as it may be, you have to come up with an alternative plan, that keeps Harry and his friends alive and safe, and your secrets hidden.

It will not be easy, but when have things ever been easy for me?

Harry might be confused about his feelings, but he has decided to stay away. That can only be good in this situation. All I have to do is keep the distance and focus on what matters. Not emotional or physical gratification, but security. Keep my heart and body out of range and my head in the range at all times. Just like I learnt from Belenos Malfoy’s journal, and Guardians of the Yggdrasill, and monks of Shida Miryo, and Malangs of Sukkur. Faith. Faith will get one through everything they said. No words or elaborate spells would work without faith, and a single meaningless word can overcome all magic with solid faith.

And then my mind moves to the ‘what if’, in that painful way it always does. The whisper of a suggestion, a glimpse of the impossible, asking the question. What if Harry accepts me with all my baggage if I confess everything? What if Harry returns my love? What if…

I imagine the earnest jewel-colored eyes looking at me, scanning through me, trying to gauge the level of devotion in me, already decided on forgiving me. A sweet kind smile of adoration touches those lips and makes my heart ache, before his strong fingers are clasped around mine in a firm grip, the one that is never meant to break.

‘It is in the past Draco, all of it, It does not matter anymore.’

And then he kisses me. A tender and committing kiss. A way of sealing a life-long agreement. Like a signature at the end of a binding contract, which wipes out all that was before it.

How I will give anything for forgiveness.

But give as I may, I will never have it. So I will have to do with the lies and half-truths which while will never let me get any closer to my beloved, but I will not be absolutely banished from him will I? I can still watch him from the side-lines. As long as life allows.

But that is me being ungrateful. I had never thought I would ever get close enough to know the feeling of that mouth on my skin. And I do. And though it is not nearly enough because nothing can ever be enough lest I live under his very skin every single second of everyday… it’s still more than I ever expected to get.

And the desire is over-whelming enough that I conjure a mirror in my head and look at the small purple mark at the juncture of my shoulder and neck right where I can feel my pulse throbbing as I touch it.

It is going to stain my skin forever. I made sure of that. And just the thought of looking upon myself and seeing it there just a few inches above the farthest edge of another faded, silvery scar in shape of a rough inverted lightning bolt. Also caused by him. I trace the jagged thin scar all the way down where it ends just below my navel. And I realize that it’s almost a map from the mark of my beloved from where he has touched me, to where it affects me the most. The silk of the pajama bottom is clinging to my arousal, and I am aroused, and ashamed and appalled and amused by it. It is too much to look at in the mirror so in my strange reverie of amusement and shame and arousal I press it against my chest only to be pleasantly startled by the cool flat and smooth surface of it pressed against my nipple. It’s a losing battle from there. But in the end rest does find me after I have exhausted myself thoroughly with liquid muscles and a sweet ache in my wrists and groin. I lose myself for some reason hugging and holding on to the conjured hand mirror that has seen more of me than any living thing has ever.

 

 

 


I am disappointed to know that Harry left just less than 10 minutes before I arrived at Helga’s bode.

And has apparently single-handedly finished all of Teddy’s Strawberry short-cake even the slice Teddy had saved for me. Because Nana’s Strawberry Shortcake is delicious enough for Teddy to skip a day with his junior Broom.

“I am sorry Draco, I don’t know how he could mistakenly eat your piece of the cake when I had put a large Red ‘D’ on it with butter and jam dressing, it was a little wobbly, but there is no way a ‘D’ can be mistaken for ‘H’…”

I pat his shoulder in consolation feeling at more peace than I have in a long time. Teddy is still sporting his Black hair from Harry’s visit I guess but now when he looks up at me he is sporting startling light-grey eyes instead of the emerald green.  It takes me a few blinks to realize he is mimicking mine, he is now grinning ear to ear at my moment of amazement. Is that how startling my eyes really are? Or are they this startling only in contrast with the Black mop of Harry’s hair.

It is like a brick against my chest, the weight of the realization that if I was a girl and had a child with Harry, he would perhaps look exactly like that. Black mop of incorrigible hair and startling light grey eyes. Or perhaps a White blond mop of incorrigible hair and startling green eyes. All combinations would be beautiful and heart-breaking. Because they can never be.

“I… Are you disappointed that the color is not right? Is that why you are sad?”

“What?... No! I am not sad little Lupin… I am just startled, because you are so talented…”

“And because Harry ate your short-cake? I think he did it to wax you, I do.”

“To wax me? What is that?”

“You know…” he whispers before looking over his shoulder. And then leans closer with a serious and secretive expression, looking at me with those startling grey eyes, all large and keen and whispers.

“Nana says it when I eat sweets not meant for me, and when I bring muddy shoes in to the foya, she purses her lips and says ‘TEDDY MUST YOU ALWAYS WAX ME SO? JUST LIKE YOUR MOTHER!’ and then she pinches her nose and then hugs me and kisses me all over my face while she smiles and cries together and says ‘I am so grateful for you Teddy!’ and then she tells me I am to have no dessert after dinner.”

“Really?” I ask him trying to control my smile as I realize he means ‘vex’ and not ‘wax’, and try to look just as serious as he is. He nods gravely.

“And what do you think Harry wants me to do? Now that he means to ‘Vex’ me as you say?”

“That is the thing isn’t it? I never know when I have waxed nana, but I am little, I’m sure Harry knows he is waxing you, because he knows everything, so I think because you are not old like nana and he is not little like me and you don’t share meals so that you can’t tell him no dessert, so…” he trails off ominously and looks at me expectantly.

“So…?” I ask him, because I honest to Merlin do not know what he means...

“You wax him back silly! You are same age, and he ate your strawberry short-cake, which not only had a large D on it, but I had also told him that it was for you! You must Wax him too. It is only fair. Because I don’t think crying and laughing and hugging and kissing him would make him feel bad. Aunt Hermione does it to Uncle Ron and he doesn’t look like its waxing. And I don’t understand how that works, because it always happens on their anniversary when Uncle Ron gives her a book and she apparently likes it, but it waxes her too I guess…”

I don’t know how I should tackle this situation. Teddy being the first child ever with whom I have been in so much contact with and I believe if I was equipped with general experience with children, I would still find Teddy a challenge because he is not just smart, he is extremely perceptive and sensitive too.

And here he is urging me to vex Harry back. Harry, who is perhaps his favorite person in the world. It tells of a keen sense of justice. Teddy is perfect. And for the first time in my life I feel my heart fill with such acute adoration for someone other than Harry himself.

It reminds me how sweet things taste.

Teddy rambles on, as we both put silver drops of hard sugar icing on glazed cookies in shape of unicorns explaining in excited detail about the day-time charity Carnival that is to take place tomorrow at which Nana (Aunt Andromeda) and Gramolly (Molly Weasley) put up a joint-stall of baked goodies every year alongside Hermione’s Book stall and Fred and George’s tricks stall alongside a lot of other names that I recognize vaguely. It seems a lot of families put up the stalls offering food and toys and games, the earning of which goes to the various charities and it’s been a raging success since it started 3 years ago. And then the next evening is the Charity Gala at which I am planning to make my debut as the hottest, richest and most scandalous bachelor in wizarding Britain, at the instruction of my ever faithful Solicitor Montague.

I leave later than I planned and with a warm feeling, a smile and a promise that I will visit Teddy tomorrow morning at the Carnival.

I have never had a day more well-spent. I realize I have not thought of all the problems brewing around me, especially with Erik’s request and Minatio’s threats. And to think that I did not even get my slice of the Strawberry short-cake. I wonder if that is a signal too.

If it is? I am pleasantly VEXED indeed.

 

 

 


Goblins, as it turns out have no tolerance for carnivals or charities and my scheduled investment inspection conference with the Goblin head of investment department is long and boring enough to make my skin crack with the dryness of it.

All along the other seated Goblins keep shooting me glances which I can only describe as disgust. I wonder when the Goblins became so choosy about proper attire for these boring meetings.

To be honest, when I had made the promise of visiting Teddy and the Charity Carnival last night, I had totally forgotten about this dreadful meeting. Dressed carefully in a muggle outfit of grey stone-wash jeans and a powder-blue polo shirt complete with Sunglasses that I bought alongside the outfit just three days back after the smashing success of the muggle outfit I wore to Helga’s bode that first time.

In these clothes no one would ever suspect me to be anything other than muggle in the muggle world, and everyone would recognize me as Draco Malfoy in the wizarding world as I have let down the signature Malfoy hair even if I have hidden the signature Malfoy eyes and now dressed in extremely Muggle clothes. What a perfect friendly and eye-catching and tongue wagging statement that would make. I tuck my wand at the back of my jeans as I glide down the stairs, a certain thrill bubbling in the pit of my stomach. Only to find My solicitor waiting for me in the reception hall to accompany me to a scheduled investment inspection meeting.

 So much for the best laid plans.

I finally find my way out of the ghastly gates of Gringotts four hours later. Feeling stale. Goblins have a strange power of doing that to one. With all their wrinkled skin, large noses and those long fingers and nails and the nasal voices. I feel as if my own throat is scratched.

“You, I think, were off to somewhere else this morning weren’t you?” asks Mr. Montague smiling in that fatherly way my father never deigned to.

“I was, for the Charity Carnival, I promised Teddy.”

“Ah… yes little Teddy Lupin. I see. But… why are you dressed in Muggle clothes if I may ask?”

“Well, I wanted to make a statement, I am sure most people will be recognizing me and I want to make them take note of my muggle-friendly tendencies. In this social atmosphere as you have been explaining since my return, I can only think it a good idea yes?”

“It is clever. Muggle clothing, visiting the orphaned child of war-heroes who also happens to be God-child of Harry Potter.”

That is a cold way of putting it. My intentions had only been limited to clothing. Seeing Teddy and visiting the Carnival is more for personal reasons.

“I did not go that far actually…but yes you are right. And now if you will allow, I have a promise to keep.” I take my leave handing the paper-work to him.

As I walk through the Diagon Alley to reach the floo at Leakey cauldron, I notice that it is almost empty. Though most shops are open there are no witches and wizards milling about as they are on normal days at this time. I walk across Finnegan’s and its almost empty. Enquiry from a candy stall owner explains that everyone is at the Charity Carnival at the Dumbledore Memorial park. I realize that this Carnival is much bigger than I suspected at first.

The sheer amount of noise and colors and spectacles reminds me of Quidditch world cup. Only there is no stadium here, but a lot of tents and stalls. It’s colorful and noisy; exactly what a carnival should look like. I wish there were carnivals like these when I was a child.

I wade through the crowd after buying a ticket which is a wrist band of some kind at the entrance, as the sun shines down in all its glory. It’s the longest time that I have visited London without facing rain. Back in Wiltshire, it rains almost every night.

It’s been a long time since I have been near such a huge crowd and it’s intimidating at first, but I am a Malfoy. I spy a huge purple tent with a big yellow ‘W’ on it. I start to move towards it slowly, inspecting my surroundings. Children, parents, candies, pops, glitters, pets, rides, shouts, laughter and constant music.  A few people recognize me and actually nod at me, a bit solemnly, but still, it is surprising that they acknowledge me at all.

The Purple tent I realize belongs to the Tricks and treats from the Weasley Twins. I wonder if it’s all too wise to go to them to ask for direction towards their Mother’s and my Aunt’s stall.

“Are you lost?” asks someone taking my elbow. I turn around only to meet blue eyes of Daphne Greengrass.

“Daphne…” I say noticing a Photographer in her tow. The boy is short and looks to hardly be fifteen. A summer job then as he must still be at Hogwarts.

“ I did not expect to see you here at all!” she turns and gestures at the photographer to take a picture of her with me. Which he promptly does.

“I am… Here on invitation actually.” I say a bit dazed at the camera flash still.

“Really? Invited? Pray tell!” she asks flicking her high blonde ponytail off the shoulder of her green wizarding robes.

“By, my cousin actually… and he must be waiting for me…”

“Oh Teddy Lupin! I know where the stall is, though I am sure he I saw him by the face-painting stall with Harry and those Weasley children.” She says taking my arm and leading me in a direction. i look apologetically at the young photographer who scrambles after us immediately though I doubt he can see it through my sunglasses. She natters on about the carnival and who is there and I can only think of schemes that would get rid of Daphne Greengrass for good.

She doesn’t have to actually say it before we reach the crowded open space which has tables and stools and small palettes of paint and brushes and heaps of children with colorful faces. I feel the warmth which I always feel in my chest when he is near. Though when a small hand finds mine, the one that is not hijacked by Daphne, I look down to find Teddy’s grinning face with two golden snitches fluttering across his face from place to place. His hair is Black and eyes and sparking green.

“YOU CAME!” he shouts over the noise all around us! I see he is accompanied by two other children which I recognize straight away as Weasley’s children.

“I Promised! I was held up by a few Goblins on my way which is why I am a bit late!” I grin widely at him.

Teddy’s eyes grow wide as do the eyes of the Weasley children as they crowd around me all of sudden.

“WHAT HAPPENED?” they look at me with amazed faces. And I wonder what was it that I just said that was so fascinating.

‘Held up by a few Goblins…”

Oh… I smile internally at the naiveté of children.

I shake my head solemnly, playing along.

“They almost dried me with their words you know… I felt like my skin was going to Crack!”

“Goblins can do that?” says the little girl with flowing red locks and blue eyes. Her features remind me of Granger.

“Yes, and if it wasn’t for Solicitor Montague I am sure I would not have been able to come at all.”

“Sosolitor Montague?”

“It’s ‘Solicitor’ Hugo…” says Harry fluffing the little boys Brown hair. I look up at him and my breath almost catches. His skin is gold in the shining sunlight, his face all rough and stubbly in a way that I want to feel its roughness against my own cheek. In one of his strong arm he carries another little girl with same flaming hair but a darker skin and dark eyes. Clad in a black vest over a fit white work-shirt and dark pants and combat boots he looks like a ragged super-hero or bounty hunter or something complete with strong broad shoulders and rippling muscles.

“Hello Draco! Glad you could make it!” he nods at me with a cheeky smile his eyes sparkling How wonderful and at the same time dreadful it is that he does not wear those horrible glasses anymore. And I notice a small green and silver painted dragon  zooming across his left cheek.

Woah! A green and silver dragon?  Does that mean… the query is on my lips when he notices something behind me and his expression changes. I look to my side and remember who is holding my other hand. Daphne.

“Hello Potter.” I nod back at him

“Hi Harry! I didn’t know you boys are friendly now?”

“No, they are not friendly at all, Harry Waxes Draco.” Prompts the little red-headed mini Granger.

“What?...” asks Daphne And Oh Merlin! how thankful I am that Carnivals are noisy places!

“ROSE! That was a secret! You are not supposed to tell that to everyone!” Teddy scolds her covertly.

“Tell what to everyone?” Harry looks down at the children, he looks just as confused as Daphne.

I stare down at Teddy, who is now shooting me ashamed sideward glances as he huddles with Rose and Hugo and tries to dislodge the embarrassing situation as only an Eight-year old could. The three of us stand awkwardly for a few sconds.

“Oh babies! Listen, I have to be somewhere fifteen minutes ago, so no more carting off till Uncle Fred is free okay?” Harry says to the children who nod furiously as he continues

“You can take Mr.Malfoy here to Gramolly and Andy’s stall yea? While I hand Freddie over at the W tent? I will drop by later!” Harry says to the children kissing each on the head while little Freddie clings to him like a monkey, before turning towards me and smiling formally.

It is extremely far from the smile I got for a greeting and that makes me wonder. AGAIN.

‘Doesn’t matter Malfoy! Remember what resolution we passed between us?’ says the sharp Malfoy voice in my head.

‘BUT YOU SAW! The way he smiled at us! The way he looks! The way the expression switched when he saw Daphne clinging to our arm. HE HAS GOT A GREEN AND SILVER FUCKING DRAGON ZOOMING ABOUT ON HIS FACE!’

‘SHUT UP!’ I tell both the voices in my head.

“They know the way…” he says pointing at the now three blushing children “see you around?” he says nodding at me and Daphne, and walks in the opposite direction towards the large purple tent.

“I think I will go too, I need to check on the backstage of the variety show.” Daphne says sweetly, too sweetly.

And then there are four.

I look down at the three children waiting on me, and wonder when I became the family guy?

By the time the evening ends. I find myself bone-tired and strangely full. And realizing, that I might yet witness another vexingly brilliant bunch of Weasley children in this life time for I have already met a few today. And I feel sorry for any Slytherin who will dare to cross this bunch. They are loud, smart, and thick as thieves! And Teddy just fits with them like a puzzle piece. The leader! It is a wonderful thing to know that Teddy will have just as many friends as Harry did. And I am sure they will get him through whatever trouble finds him.

With a sleeping Teddy tucked against my chest and a bag of toys and goodies from the stalls I apparate quietly to the outside of the Cottage at Helga’s bode.

By the time I say Good night to my beaming but tired aunt, it’s almost midnight, and I have face paint all over my shirt where snitches apparently are sleeping now. A smile has never found my face more easily over ruined clothes.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring with it…

Because if every day is as good as yesterday and today was, I can’t wait till tomorrow comes.

No matter how sad my little predicament may be, and who I see dancing on Potter’s arm. I swear on the little, painted, green and silver dragon that I will make the most of it. 


 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Chapter 15. 

 

Well I thought I’d seen it all, from beginning to the end,

Yes, I was the great pretender, always alone again,

And then a light came shining in, and you took my breath away,

Now I know I waited all my life, to feel what I feel today..

So tell me I’m dreaming, cause I can’t hold back I’m so alive…

And you’ve never looked more beautiful tonight… (Westlife-Gravity)

 

 

 

“I swear if I hear about Yellow color and silk one more time I am going to go insane.”

George piped up as he stepped out of the floo. He looked haggard and haunted in a comical way that made me snicker despite my annoyance at his popping so suddenly.

“What is it this time? Mimosa? Buttercup? Marigold?”

“Lemon fucking chiffon!” he rages as he flops down

“Ok… that is a new one..”

“See, even you, the big color expert, don’t know what ‘lemon chiffon’ is supposed to look like and my dear little brother, if you can even guess… what it looks like, I will pay you…” he shuffled into his pocket in which a few coin clink and pulls out a few.

“…five galleons! Yes… I will pay you five galleons if you can tell me what lemon chiffon actually looks like…”

I sigh and go back to the Auror report I am reading

“It’s a light creamy, peachy shade of yellow…” I answer smirking.
I know what lemon chiffon looks like for two reasons actually.

First is that I receive at least two lemon-chiffon cakes every summer for snacking on, from Andromeda. And second because of the color cards I got for the color yellow when I was decorating the ladies parlor upstairs. Lemon chiffon was one of the colors I had almost chosen.

“HOLY PANTS OF GODRIC! Harry! It’s you! Isn’t it? You make us look all bad… you are spoiling our wives… You are the reason Angie expects me to know every color in the spectrum with their lame names… you are the reason she even asks if I know what color she is wearing! I am going to kill you one of these days you arse!”

He is laughing so raucously and threatening me at the same time that I don’t know if I should laugh alongside or be scared.

“You know…one day you are going to make a lucky guy very happy Harry…” he says once he calm down still fiddling with the five galleons that are now technically mine.

“So now because I know my color names, I am gay?”

“No Harry… You are not gay... but if you go on and marry a girl, she is going to swoon to death because of how fucking perfect you are... So never marry one… Marry a guy… he’ll know what to do with your kind of perfection if you know what I mean… It did wonders for Fred for once.” he waggled his eyebrows at me suggestively.

I just look at him blankly, showing how unimpressed I am, while he just grins at me.

“So… who is the lucky lady this year?”

“Well, it shouldn’t be a lady at all, if you meant what you just said...”

George grins again.

“Ah! So… little Dennis did make a play after all!” He says winking in a way that is just lewd.

“Dennis? Dennis who?”

“Dennis bloody Creevey! Harry! Who else? The boy has only been salivating after you for what thirteen years or so?” it is as if it’s the obvious fact of the century.

“Dennis is gay?”

“Absolutely, 100% gay, Harry pickled toad-eyes! What? You think swooning every five minutes after Gryffindor’s golden boy and sending Merlin knows how many anonymous chocolate boxes to you on Valentine’s day is straight behavior?”

“Dennis Creevey sent me those chocolates?”

“Yes… but what I am hearing is… your date is not poor little Dennis…”

“No it isn’t. I am actually not taking anyone this year.”

“Oh… Why? If you want I can ask Lucinda…”

“Err..No… I signed up for the bachelor auction this year.”

“You what?”

“Yea… I know, I am starting to think it was a stupid decision. Since Hermione and Angie and probably Molly are sending you here to spy on me and my date and my plans… Yes! I have all intention of showing up. And on time too. You can go and tell your bossy sister-in-law that I will be there!”

“Figured it out huh? I must be losing my touch.” George just leans back against the chair.

“No, I just grew up… and I spend way too much time with you all, to not have figured it out yet.” I shrug.

“Well, we are your family, no matter how much you insist on hiding away, we all worry for you…”

“Well… I am grateful for it… Most days…” I say grinning at him.

“Good for you! So now... it was not just a cover story you know. The lemon chiffon thing… I was supposed to complete the surprise gift boxes for the table centerpieces and it cannot be done in any other color than Lemon chiffon. You know how Hermione and Angie get, when combined. I don’t know how these women manage so much.”

“Go to Druella’s and get the color cards from her. The transfiguration from there is a piece of cake…”

“Yea… Piece of lemon-chiffon cake!”

After an additional fifteen minutes of shuffling about and procrastinating George takes off for Diagon Alley. Leaving me again to the thoughts I can’t catch, and the auror report I can’t read.

Dennis Creevey is gay. Besides the obvious blaring enough reason which directly involves me and which I have never really given a thought too, I cannot have expected him ever to be Gay. Hell I did not even figure out that Fred was Gay until he brought his first steady boyfriend to the family dinner and I have no excuse for not knowing about Fred, not like I did about Charlie.

How bad am I with judging people’s sexuality if I cannot point out a gay person even after having sex with another man?

It is true that I had enjoyed it as much as I did having sex with a girl. To me the difference was not the anatomy, but the attitude actually. Like the difference between chicken and beef. You can’t really compare and like them both just the same or dislike both just the same.

The realization is like a slab of ice in my gut. I have no clue when it comes to reading signals. Especially sexual signals. I have very poor judgment. And I am in a prominent position constantly. And I am actually going to engage Draco Malfoy in a game of seduction?

Even the thought seems so impossible that I can’t help snicker at my ridiculousness.

I had gone to sleep last night with determination just after bravely dismissing the blonde ice-princess clinging to his arm yesterday at the Carnival and clinging to that one moment of heat in his eyes, which I actually could not see behind those glasses.

And I know I am still going to do it tonight, against all odds.

Make a fool of myself. Embarrass myself. At least I can tell myself I tried.

Equipped with a lame sense of humor, atrocious sexual radar, appalling instinct and zero-experience with any kind of seduction. I am going to make my move on Draco Malfoy.

That beautiful reincarnation of Apollo, Witty, graceful, probably unavailable, non-homosexual, tastefully experienced and suave and svelte Slytherin. Draco Malfoy.

And I am going to take it like a MAN, when I am crushed to tiny little molecules and powder. Because I am not going to be that boy under the stairs anymore. I will go for it. Even if I lose. Which I am definitely going to.

But at least I will have tried. I am a fucking Gryffindor, almost placed in Slytherin. That has got to count for something.

An hour later, with determination buzzing in my head like a bee, I make my way upstairs for a long relaxing bath. Only a few hours left.

 


I know it is really not going to make a difference at this point. It’s done! I should not have wandered all around London and confused myself so much. I usually have Hermione do it for me and right now I am wondering if I made the wrong decision by going all, ‘I WILL DO MY OWN THING’ this year.

Well, nothing to lose now.

I stare at myself trying to visualize myself from a third person point of view.

I have been partially successful with my hair this evening and I am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. It’s still messy, but at least it looks like it’s been arranged that way. Dark Midnight-blue muggle Tuxedo with black silk lapels which had been highly recommended accompanied with a pristine silk white shirt and a black bow-tie(Thanks to Keacher who knew how to tie an impeccable one).

As clueless as I am about dressing, I can tell that the tuxedo is a brilliant fit and to me the color looks fine as well. But what I might think looks good on me, may not look good on me to other people.

I look at my two house-elves in the mirror who are looking at me with their glossy golf-ball eyes.

“Well?” I ask them both turning around and spreading my arms.

“Master looks very proper… Winky finds.” Says the slightly watery-eyed elf that once belonged to the Crouches. I look at Kreacher expectantly. The change in Kreacher shows the most at times like these when he shows almost no disgust for muggle things anymore.

“Perfectly immaculate master is… even in muggle clothes.”

I shake my head to just get my bearing right. The anxious butterflies in my stomach remind me of the times when I used to sit for extra minutes in the locker rooms before an important Quidditch match.

Tonight, I am seeking all right.

I take the almost whitish-silver silk scarf from Winky and put it around my neck just the way the designer’s assistant had suggested and all of a sudden I feel like I look more mature and grounded.

All because of a scarf.

I slowly make my way downstairs checking the grip of my wand holster around my wrist, the silk handkerchief in my breast pocket and the scarf. I knew I was going to fidget with the scarf all night.

The Floo flares to life by the time I make it downstairs and out-step Luna with her date for the night Rolfe Scamander. Both dressed to the nines and for once Luna is wearing a rather tame color to my surprise. I am suddenly more nervous about my clothing choice for the night.

“Oh Harry! You look very handsome…” Luna interrupts my deprecating thoughts.

“You look lovely too Luna…” I say giving her a chaste kiss on her cheek. As she always insists.

She also smells very normal and nice for once.

“Yes… Rolfe got the dress for me, all the way from Belgium.”

“It is gorgeous… You have very fine taste Rolfe.”

“Yes… he does, doesn’t he?” Luna overlaps whatever blushing-Rolfe is about to say and though it is characteristic of Luna to overlap conversations like that, I see Rolfe glancing at her in a love-sick way that just tells me that he is a man with a ring in his pocket.

Yes, My instinct is not totally absent. It merely fluctuates. These days more than usual. I know Hermione would say it’s because of my repressive tendencies. Well…

“Here is the itinerary for tonight Harry…” she hands me a gold leaf mottled card hand-inked. I am confused for a moment before I realize that it is because she is not my date for tonight. Otherwise she would have had it with her and would have guided me through all the motions.

“Don’t be nervous. Your shywiggles are already agitated… you have gone through the same motions for five years now Harry, I bet you will do just fine.”

“Yes… I know Luna. Can’t have those shillywiggle thingies agitated now can I?”

“It’s shywiggles, and yes, if they get too agitated they will make your sweat more and can cause stutters too.”

“Right… So… It’s the Red carpet shoot, then the five 2-minute interviews, and then the meet-greet with the donors and the Minister and the Prime Minister. Announcements and honors and the bachelor’s auction...dancing”

“Yes…See, it’s going to be fine. Even if you miss out on some obligations, the obligations would not miss out on you…”

I can only smile at her. That sentence right there is all encompassing of what my life is like. I can forget events, fears, sorrows, tragedies, losses all I want, but events, fears, sorrows, tragedies, losses never forget me.

This is why I need to see this through. I need to approach Draco. Because no one has ever known all that I feel and all that finds me, and that day, in that elevator, I found someone who knows, who understands. He is not made of glass, I had felt his cool warmth that day and I know that is exactly what I need in my life.

A partner, who knows, understands loss. Who looks at me and sees me, not someone awesome or lacking, just me. I know he sees it. My instinct that is fluctuating so dangerously tells me so.

 

“Do not arrive before Twenty-five past seven. You are always the main guest, arrive in the end. That gives you excuse to get the photos and the interviews done in limited time. Also gives you only fifteen minutes for the meet-greet you so dread…”

“I have got it Luna…”

“All right then Harry, we’ll see you in an hour?”

 

I make my way upstairs again, but not towards the bedroom, I bypass the first floor, second floor, third floor, and up on to the roof, my destination. The air is balmy tonight as it’s been for past Ten days.

I realize that it’s a fine night to fly, just as the weather witch predicted.

I know that what I am about to do absolutely reckless and probably dangerous as well, not to mention how a single misstep can make a joke out of me. But, I know I need this recklessness for tonight. I need the danger. If not mortal peril, then I need mocking peril. If I am going out to woo like a Casanova, then I have got to arrive like Casanova. And my ride tonight has been waiting for her debut for a while.

I have been convincing myself since the idea hit me three days back that this is not for me. It’s for her, she deserves the praise. I see my loyal elves have followed me upstairs. I take the leather and velvet cloak from Kreacher’s thin arms and put it on after I cast an impervious charm on my fancy clothes and the Hair, especially the hair.

And it hits me, for once how silly it could all look in retrospect. But before I can allow myself to think anymore I say the password that will open the shed for me.

One look at her and all the insecurity just flies out. I don’t know if it’s my Gryffindor nature or the essence of the Marauders that is so ingrained in this enchanted piece of machinery, I can only grin deviously as I almost jump forward.

She looks and feels just like her name between my legs. Her deep rumblings tell of her passionate attitude and for a while as I ride her I forget everything except the wind on my face. On a whim of a second, I turn on the dragon blast capacitors and whoop in the air as loud as I dare.

“I solemnly swear I am up to no good!”

It’s liberating.

I named her ‘Raven Victoria Black’ once we were done restoring her mechanically two-years back. Mr. Weasley had gifted her back to me, or what was left of her from the fire at the Burrow. Still she was not so bad off and though it took Arthur and me more than twenty weekends to fix her mechanically. I was willing to put in much more effort if it required, because it was one of Sirius’ most prized possessions. My own first good memory that I relived in my dreams while I was a sad little boy under the stairs was also of this Particular enchanted motor-cycle. It was a fantasy. And whilst many of dreams could never come true, this one could. A new life was decided for me the night I rode this Bike for the first time. A life that would be cruel and challenging in ways and perhaps tragic too, but also a life that made me who I am today, gave me friends and family that I have today. I could have died that night and over the years, I have realized that one should never degrade survival into lesser than what it is. The most important instinct. The ultimate luck. Raven Victoria Black was a symbol of my survival.

 It took me an additional year in collaboration with Liam Finnegan, Seamus’ younger brother, to make further magical enhancements to it. The addition of Dragon blast capacitors, and landing regulators and water gliders too. Also included were the rain-proofing charm, the camouflage and in case of emergency landing and a magical destination mapping system. It was finally completed a few months back and I had personally made a concrete and asphalt mixed take-off strip and a stowage shed up on the roof of 12 Grimmauld place. It was not the easiest of the tasks. Because no one could understand why I would need to make an asphalt and concrete strip on my roof.

It was very handy of me I suppose. But I had the time.

As my estimate is accurate. It is less than five minutes flights towards Western London and I can see The Merlin Wizarding Convention center gleaming conspicuously and magically in the night on the outskirts of Western London. This is where my fate will be decided tonight, and Harry Potter will make an unforgettable entry, to eternal happiness or inevitable doom, only time will tell.

“HARRY JAMES POTTER! Tell me please that I was dreaming just now and you did not land on the red carpet on Sirius’ flying motorcycle!”

Hermione’s grip on my arm is painful, but I have had worse, and I am too high on the adrenalin from the flight and the shock of the people to really mind. Recklessness, thy name is Harry James Potter. The flashes from the cameras are dazing though. And I don’t know exactly how I look right now. Crazed, dazed, pained…

“Oh come on! It was just a bit of fun really! If I am going to navigate through this monstrosity of a night, I think it is only fair to have a bit of fun… Wait, cancel that, I am going to have a lot of fun!”

She grimaces through a few more pictures and it’s amusing that for once I have a genuine smile on my face and she is having a hard time to pull one on. It’s usually vice-versa.

“HARRY JAMES POTTER! Tell me please that I am not dreaming and that you did arrive tonight with the lady Raven Victoria Black!” Ron piped in as he reaches me and takes place on my other side for the obligatory golden trio picture. I am sure his placement on my other side rather than next to Hermione is to escape from any covert pinching that Hermione is prone to do.

“You are not dreaming at all Ron, because even in your dreams you only dream about Hermione… Who looks ravishing by the way…” I answer looking at Hermione who is now blushing in her cream and gold floor length dress and still looking at me fondly annoyed yet genuinely smiling.

“So yes! It is real, my surprise date tonight on the red carpet is my wonderful Motorcycle, and I don’t think any man or woman can begrudge me my choice?”

“Well, I don’t begrudge you this little bit of fun, I was already bored half out of my mind until you arrived. I am telling you Hermione, next year you are going to pass on management of this event. I hardly get to see you as it is.”

“Both of you are idiots.” She hisses through her teeth as we are asked to pose for some more pictures.

“Now now Hermione! Not idiots! Fools…Fools in love… Harry with his Motorcycle and I with you…” Ron says sweeping behind me in a strangely graceful manner and coming on the other side of Hermione and all of a sudden I am a third-wheel when he leans down and kisses her lovingly on the cheek. As more cameras go off. I feel for the first time that perhaps nothing would go wrong. Well that still depends on a silver and blond Slytherin to be honest. But… I am starting to feel lucky.

‘You are on a champion streak tonight Potter, do not mess it up.’ The Snapesque voice tells me sternly.

After depositing my Leather over coat and getting more pictures flicked indoors I finally make way to the ball room where most guests have already arrive. I am glad to have both Hermione and Ron with me as we make rounds greeting friends and family as the Minister has not yet arrived. Which is making Hermione nervous.

“Who chose this outfit for you by the way?” asks Hermione once we are seated on the designated table occupied most by friends. Including Neville and his date and Luna and Rolfe.

“I did, actually…” I answer taking a sip from my drink. It’s a cocktail aptly named ‘lemon chiffon’ and I can definitely taste the lemon and a slight touch of fire-whiskey in there. Hermione looks at me sardonically.

“Okay, so the designer’s assistant helped, but of all the stuff he showed me and I tried, I chose this in the end so that has got to count for something.” I say in my defense, as Hermione folds my silver scarf carefully and puts it in my inside pocket so that it does not get wrinkled before she fixes my Black family badge The onyx and silver monstrosity stuck to my jacket lapel. So that is what it feels like to have a mother.

“That counts for everything mate…” Ron says clad in his nicely cut formal black wizarding robes.

“So you chose your own outfit, which is fabulous, and you signed up for the Bachelor auction, and you were almost civil to Cho for the duration of the interview, and you arrived on that leather and chrome monstrosity like an attention seeker I always ask you to act like, and you are not upset or nervous or resentful like you always are for announcing the donation results and making the thank you speech… Who are you? And what have you done with Harry Potter?” she says fixing my hair, Again. I have a mind to stop her, but I know she is anxious about the success of the event which in my opinion is much better than the Cogs were ever able to pull off.

“I am Lord Potter-Black, and I have sedated Harry Potter for the night, because the way you talk of him, he is a party-pooper…” I say cheerfully taking her hand that is continuously picking at my hair and kissing the back of it.

“EXACTLY!” almost everyone at the table shouts.

“Hey! No unprecedented kissing Harry! That’s my wife’s hand you are holding…” Ron says playfully as Hermione smacks him.

“No, this is the hand of the girl who saved my life countless times, without whom most of us wouldn’t be here. I would not be here. Helping the Orphans, not just from the Wizarding world but from the muggle world as well. We would not be here the most united we have ever been, the most unprejudaisd this world has ever been without this girl. I think we never tell you enough Hermione how wonderful you are and how wrong we were…in letting you Marry this Oaf!”

“Oi! When did this become a mud-shot at me from serenading about how wonderful Hermione is?” Ron’s says mock-offended.

And everyone is laughing and Hermione is blushing her eyes are moist and shining and smiling wide, and a sudden fear finds my heart in that moment as I look around my smiling friends and family. As if a flashing flesh-memory hits me full-force. Hermione’s hand is warm in mine, just like Firenze’s body was once the wards came off.

'Qui salvabo vos salvatore Potter’ comes an ominous whisper.

What if one of my friends sitting here is next? What if it’s Hermione? Ron? How many of my friends sitting on this very table have saved my life? Directly or indirectly. How do I know that the murderer would stick to some method? We have no leads, I have no leads… I realize how ill-equipped I am this time around to save my loved-ones, just as ill-equipped I was when I was seventeen. I should have paid more attention. Trained harder, been a better auror… I feel as if my shortcomings will burst my head.

Someone grips my shoulder strongly and jolts me out of my reverie…

“This table seems to be having all the fun tonight…” says the deep voice of the Minister behind me. I shoot a glance at Hermione, who is looking at me with a little worry in her eyes, did she notice? Next to her Ron also wears a tight smile as he nods at me in a way that is a silent question,

‘You alright mate?’

“Well, this is the table where the young people are, isn’t it Kingsley?” I say turning around and standing up in an instance almost reflexively.

It is me splitting again. I do that at time when I am in public. It’s a coping mechanism where a part of me  broods internally and another part takes control of on the surface tasks and conversations and attention. It never ends nicely for some strange reason.

“Alas! That is true…” The minister sighs in his traditional black and dark purple wizarding robes.

“…you still have a few good years in you Minister Shacklebolt… so don’t be depressed.” Says a deep drawling voice that I have been waiting to hear all evening and despite all my warning against impulsive actions tonight (my tackling Malfoy regime being ‘count to five before answering, looking, following, touching, blurting in reaction to Malfoy’), my head flips to the side following the voice, like an automaton.

And I am struck.

All I can see is…

My Apollo.

My mind goes blank as my eyes feast upon the vision that is Draco Malfoy tonight.

Oh Merlin! Please don’t let me do anything embarrassing! Some awake part of my mind pleads.

He is all silver and ever-green and sleek and shiny, as if a halo of cool and warm light surrounds him. Clad in what I can only call contemporary-traditional formal wizarding robes, that are fit like a glove around his muscled yet whipcord lean figure. An array of silver buttons adorn the front but what really catches my eye is the fact that he is wearing the exact silver silk scarf that i was. It pleases me greatly, the fact that he and I match in a bizarre scarfy way, and if that does not show ‘desperate’ on my part then I don’t know what does.   

He has his hair down, gracefully combed back from his face a vivid and tasteful contrast against his ever-green robes. Where does he get these colors from? I cannot help the questioning look on my face as I finally make it up to his face, and yes that perfect face… So balanced, aristocratic, proud yet somehow soft too. And the skin, oh God his skin is flawless. How does he manage it? I find his eyes, finally, not that I was looking, its just the rite of passage which I always embarrassingly make up-stream, ending where I should start. The Silver eyes. Trained on me. Silver laser beams. And they look amused and incredulous at the same time. As if they know my struggle, understand it, yet expect me to do something else entirely than what I am doing. In a moment they are formal, the next inviting. And I thought he looked gorgeous yesterday at the carnival. Find a corner and snog the hell out of gorgeous in his jeans and polo shirt and fucking sunglasses!

Tonight he looks like sin, in all its formality of course. And I want to commit. His attention is finally claimed elsewhere and I take a deeply needed breath.  

I can’t figure out for the life of me, why I thought at one time that Draco Malfoy was the ugliest of them all, and pointy enough to split water-melons.

Perception really is a strange thing.

And then the deflating starts as I realize how all my efforts at looking good are just shabby in comparison. Who can compare to the Malfoy decadence? Years of preening, grooming, practicing and polishing has fleshed out this beautiful creature that stands in front of me. How can I ever impress him that way when I can’t even tie my own Bow-tie? He is not wearing a tie, or a bow-tie, yet he looks more formal than me.

I am a farm hen’s egg to his Faberge.

I just… don’t compare. And so before I can stop myself…

“And you would know all about years and what good they can do to one, wouldn’t you Draco?”

Holy chocolate frog! I did not just say that! In front of the minister and my friends too! That was uncalled for. I know it was. But you can always later shade it as flirting. I did not just get defensive and lash out just because he looks good so effortlessly and I look like a mud pie even after going to painful lengths tonight. I did not!

‘You did...’ says my Snapesque mind-voice.

What is wrong with me? I am about to beat myself more over it when,

A savage almost predatory glint flashes in those mesmerizing silver eyes.

“I would Harry, So would you for that matter…” he says cocking his head to one side in that strange way I have been noticing him doing lately. I like it for some reason. Makes me feel interesting. And I notice the casual yet pointed use of my first name.

Harry… Harry… Harry, it’s like a prayer in his voice. I want to hear him say that name again and again.

In throes of passion, submission, domination, lust, trust, comfort, friendship, Love…

Yes love… most of them all.

“It’s good to see you here Draco. I hope you enjoy the party tonight. It’s sad enough that this is the first one anyone from the Malfoy family is attending, when your mother has been such a generous donor for past seven years.”

 Hermione’s expression is very genuine. And through the cotton in my ears and clouds in my eyes, it doesn’t fail to surprise me yet again how effortless she makes forgiveness look when it is anything but. Hermione would never be deviated from the path she thinks is the right one. And that is her greatest strength.

“Oh this is a very well-arranged event so far, though I doubt I will enjoy it as much as I did the carnival yesterday… The one I spent with your miniature versions. Still thank you for the invite.”

“Yes, our miniature versions still have the sugar induced hangover and were driving your aunt to madness when we left for here… So, you are most welcome.” Ron pipes from his wife’s side in good cheer. Will surprises never end?

“Well, we can’t dally around Harry as much as we would like to since there is a whole ball-room of people to meet and greet, so Harry and Ron, get to work and Hermione come along…”

And so it starts.

It almost seems unfair. I just want to stand here and look at him. But now I have to go as well, and prepare to announce the results that just arrived and also make a thank you speech before the dancing and eating starts. And by then…

What? By then, what? He would hopefully still be here and not absolutely surrounded by sycophants or in the arms of one of the pretty fabulous and rich and looking witches here dressed to the nines and beautiful in the way you can never be. So you can corner him, under one pretense or another and then just snog him… or talk about feelings and stuff, before he either hexes you, kicks you in the groin or just straight laughs at your face.

Yes… Easy peasy.

Before long, I see the dais is being levitated most tastefully to be placed on the platform the music show will be taking place afterwards.

Hermione steps up gracefully, welcoming and greeting in her usual fashion, it’s all a blur to me because my eyes are fixed on Draco and the person sitting next to him on the Minister’s table. Now that the lights have dimmed all over the great Hall, so that the dais would be more accentuated, it is hard for me to see expressions, only the dip and leaning of heads towards each other.

Draco seems to be deep in conversation with Erik Stoltorm.

Which reminds me, that he never did tell me that day in my office, how he knew Erik Stoltorm.

No, he had flipped side and blinded me and cornered me enough to forget all about the questions I had asked him and take the first way out of the confrontation.

That changes things a bit doesn’t it Harry?

It does.

It means that he is hiding something. And when a Slytherin hides something it’s never good.

How stupid have I been? Dipping into memory, to see any and every piece of that afternoon’s conversation in the allusion that it was more than aggression and irritability on his part, it was genuine and deep emotion.

It was an evasion tactic. Which I fell for of course.

It is a sad understanding.

That makes my plan of seducing look really stupid and foolish.

It might exactly be his game.

I cannot win this one though. So will it be prudent to indulge at all?

Not prudent at all, but it’s happening anyway.

“So Harry, would please come up here?”

I look up at smiling best friends. Feeling half-sick to my stomach. But I walk the few steps I am meant to walk. Yes, the king of fools at your service.

The sound of applause is loud. Too loud and the dimmed light makes it really a strange experience. This Invisible audience which is watching me keenly now. And for a moment I feel as if I am about to suffocate, as I stand in that Halo of spot light. Perhaps stumble. Stutter. Sweat.

“You have your speech?” Hermione murmurs but I hear her just fine even in the sound of applause.

“Nope, don’t need it.” I say simply as she hands me the folder that has the single piece of paper. With names of the highest donors. Her eyes widen and she looks panicked for a moment but then she calms all of a sudden and I notice that I have taken her hand in mine and I am smiling too.

How I am managing it, I have no idea.

I set the paper down on the dais and flick my wrist as my wand slips into my hand. Her, my wand’s smoothness is like a balm. She is simple. A tad impulsive, but loyal where it matters the most.

“Thank You Hermione… I realize I do say that a lot… I think we all do.” I say smiling at the audience and I hear a cacophony of agreement from the crowd.

“So without further ado. I would like to congratulate all of you present here, who donated, participated or volunteered for the wonderful Children’s Charity Carnival yesterday at the Dumbledore Memorial Garden, I am ecstatic to announce, that not only did we achieve our set goal in donations and income. An anonymous benefactor, most graciously doubled all the sales of yesterday’s carnival goods, which means that we made more than twice our target of Two-hundred thousand Galleons and a total of Four hundred thousand, seven hundred and forty-seven galleons were collected in earnings and donations from yesterday alone. We are yet to include the funds gathered tonight for the gala dinner and the bachelor auction that is yet to take place, in which I will be participating to everyone’s astonishment, for the first time ever. It’s about time isn’t it?”

A lot of whoops most recognizable from the Weasley tables are heard at that alongside the constant applause.

“Yes, I am sure you all can guess from the particular dressing tonight?” I say spreading my arms dramatically.

“Hermione, give him his scarf and then we’ll talk.” George and Fred yell to everyone’s cackling. At which I dramatically invite Hermione to do so, she blushes and laugh and then puts her hand inside my tuxedo jacket and whips out the silver silk scarf and puts it around my neck amidst very civilized hoots and buzz from the crowd. And I wonder what Malfoy will make of it, as he is wearing an identical one tonight. From this angle I can hardly see his face, only that he is leaning back in his chair in a very easy and comfortable way.

“Okay, Forge, stop getting so excited, you are married men and I don’t share. I am sure there are other interesting pairs of twins here tonight? Perhaps some dusky Indian beauties?” I say pretending to search through the crowd, when I hear the cheer from the left side tables where Parvati and Padma Patil are both seated with many of their other single female friends. Parvati is the event managing director of this particular convention center.

“But I am getting ahead of myself. Of course, so let’s get back to the reason for real congratulations…” The crowd quiets down a bit.

“I would like to first Thank every single witch and wizard who donated for this consortium of charities. Which includes charities regarding endangered magical creatures, Charities dedicated to the welfare of war-victims, Charities  dedicated to establishing homes for Orphaned and stranded witches and wizards, The Quidditch program, and the Severus Snape’s memorial pre-school and hostel for gifted witches and wizards.”

“This year we also included three muggle orphanages to the donation trust. But most importantly some of this years donations will go in establishing a small but well-equipped regulatory department which will over-see that our donations are well utilized in the Muggle orphanages as well as the wizard orphanages. A few of my good friends have volunteered for the inspection jobs and the enthusiasm so far regarding this facet of dealings is marvelously positive. I hope in near future we will be able to improve the standards of child-raising to exemplary levels of which we still only dream of.”

“I would like to thank the Minister of Magic, Mr. Kingsley Shacklebolt, for his unwavering support. I would also like to thank Mr.Barbabus Cuffe, the chief editor of Daily Prophet and managing sponsor of this event. Madam Minerva McGonagall, headmistress of Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and wizardry, and also the Executive regulator and manager of the Dumbledore scholarship program, Parvati Patil, the event managing director for this magnificent venue. Fred and George Weasley owners of the Triple W.” I tuned out from there and just read the list that included names of all sponsors and those who helped manage the event.

“A special thanks for their most generous donations goes out to…” I recite the names slowly as they all come out one by one to where the Minister and Headmistress are now standing on the other side of the stage handing the donors special certificates honoring their generosity and getting their pictures taken. My eyes repeatedly skip up to the first name I ignored in the list. The person who made the biggest Donation tonight, and was the one to double the carnival earnings from yesterday as well, Draco Malfoy. The minister had shot a look at me when his name was not the first I took. It’s a long noisy, flashy process but still takes around ten minutes.

“The Last name on the list, is the one I never imagined that I would see on this list, because most of us thought him lost to us for almost seven years. Most of us believe that the mantle of the Malfoy name will never be taken again, and one of the most ancient and respected families in the wizarding world would fade. I am grateful and Happy to announce to you all that that won’t be happening, and I want everyone here to give Lord Draco Malfoy a huge round of applause not just as a welcoming back gesture, but also for his generosity, for he has contributed the most to tonight’s donation funds.”

The crowd does applaud and Draco slowly stands up from the chair and strides down gracefully towards the minister. His dark green robes swishing as I step down from the stage myself and quickly make way towards where Malfoy is walking to, to get the Certificate from the Minister and Professor McGonagall. I reach them just as he receives the certificate and shakes Prof. McGonagall’s hand and then almost startles when he find me inches away from him as I take hold of his shoulders, his eyes widen for a moment at, I am guessing my feral grin. There is a momentary panic as I close the distance between and embrace him vehemently, as if we are the oldest and most closest friends ever. The electric jolt between us is almost disconcerting for a moment, as he recovers immediately and embraces me back just as vehemently and just as platonically.

“Nice Scarf Potter.” He hisses in my ear in a tone I am not sure is angry or passionate. Yet when we let go of each other he is smiling the same way I am.

Realistically.

“Thank You.” I say sincerely

“For the compliment or for the donation?” he asks his face still holding that demure shining smile and his tone as sardonic as can get. As we pose for yet another picture.

“Both…” I say quietly as I turn to him “…though I do have a favor to ask of you yet.”

“Really Potter? After all I have already done?”

“Yes...” I say simply. Smiling at him and he looks uncomfortable for a second.

“Out with it then…” he says almost impatiently.

“I would like to have a dance with you…” I say, in voice that is much more grounded than I am. He looks at me smiling still but his brow furrows a little.

“You would like that…wouldn’t you?”

“I would very much…”

“Only on the condition, that I will be leading… I saw you dancing at the Yule ball and I can’t allow that to happen again.”

“I think you are about to be pleasantly surprised.” I smile at him as I back up and make my way back to the empty dais.

I realize halfway there, that not once did Malfoy object on the fact that I was guy asking him for a dance.

Definitely a sign.


The outlay of the hall changes dramatically immediately after dinner. As the tables are moved towards the walls and a space is made in the middle of the hall and Bachelor Auction starts. The prize is a dinner date the very next weekend and in my case particularly, by Luna’s suggestion and then providing, Hogwart’s Uniform, A broom from my collection, My Quidditch gloves and My first Yule ball robes, alongside a silver and Opal pendant, engraved with ‘Best wishes from Harry Potter. All of which according to Luna is considered very valuable memorabilia.

In my opinion, it’s just fucking embarrassing.

Especially when it’s going to be announced out loud. And that too by Luna. Who can make an insult feel like a compliment and a compliment feel like an insult.

What was I thinking? Why did I ever think that I could do this?

“Candidate number ten is Benedict Cullen. Benedict is Twenty-two, runs a favorite confectionary store chain, and inventor of the most beloved Chocolate heart-crystals. He likes reading, experimenting with chocolate, Quidditch and is also a part of Wizard’s wireless voice cast. He is also an expert in salsa dancing, and eating ice-cream really fast… His gift bag contains, A dinner date, A Chocolate jewels bag, a wonderful…”

Benedict I notice is a handsome young man and he is number Ten, so it means I am just two people away from being displayed. Ginny notices my anxiety and grabs hold of my hand.

“If you want, I can bid for you… you don’t have to worry at all about some old fat witch…”

“No, I am not scared about that. I find Old fat witches charming actually since they are usually so sweet to me… no its standing up there, that I am dreading….you know… its Luna on announcements.”

She is about to answer me when Ron joins in.

“250 galleons for Benedict Cullen!” Ron says as if it’s the most baffling thing.

“That’s more than how much you will fetch you know…” Ginny snipes at Ron playfully. She looks a little tired though still very pretty in her plum colored dress.

“I know!” Ron says laughing

“So… what is in your gift bag Harry?”

“It will be announced soon.”

And as if on a cue, I heard Luna voice over the noise.

“Last but not the least, number 13?” I swallowed air and then made my way up to the pedestal of shame and foolish fancies, as graciously as I could. Once up there, I turned smiling my most charming smile that always worked on Molly and Andromeda. They say old witches pay the most, and judge the least. So I aim for the older ladies present.

“Number 13 is Harry James Potter, also known formally as Lord Harry James Potter-Black. He is 24 years old and already an accomplished senior auror. He used to play seeker for his home team at Hogwarts. Harry likes flying, treacle–tart and spending time with friends. Harry also volunteers for various charities and is very fond of romantic walks on the beach and sex in the shower…”

OH DEAR MERLIN!

The whole crowd goes silent for a minute and even Luna looks up from where she is reading and looks down at the momentarily hushed crowd.

A part of me, that is not absolutely furious and embarrassed, actually finds it funny. And then the spell breaks when a deep and cool voice says…

“Aren’t we all?” and I look up at the owner of the voice and find Erik Stoltorm’s sparkling, mirthful eyes looking at me. And then everyone starts to snicker and then outright laugh.

“I’ll pay anything for that!” Fred shouts! From the crowd. As more cheers come my way.

“Well, you will still have to bid. So Harry’s gift bag contains. A Dinner Date and tickets to a Muggle movie of your choice. It also contains a Broom from his private collection. His personal Quidditch gloves, his first pair of formal robes from the Yule ball of the tri-wizard cup. It also contains, Harry’s personally commissioned White-gold and Opal pendant with a personal engraving. So, let the bidding start from 500 Galleon.”

In the end, it really was a bid between three candidates.

Melanie Sommers. An acquaintance from the Unicorn Reservation Charity.

Parvati Patil. Just because she is a good friend.

And

Erik Stoltorm. Who looked to be doing it just for the fun of it. I am sure he has a lot of money to spare.

It got ridiculous then when it reached 4000 Galleons and that when I knew Parvati was going to give in and Erik Stoltorm was going to be my date next weekend.

“So going on 4500 galleons once… Twice…”

“10,000 Galleons and lets just move on?” Drawls Draco from the direction of the Minister’s table where I had seen him sitting last seeming uninterested in the frivolity and deep in conversation with Barnabus Cuffe.

Luna turns to Erik questioningly and he just shrugs his shoulders in surrender.

“Alright, Ten-thousand Galleons for Harry Potter and the gift bag, going Once…Twice…? Sold!”

“Harry Potter is sold to Draco Malfoy for Ten-thousand Galleons, which is the highest bid ever for this particular bachelor auction’s history.” The applause and whistling and hooting is deafening as I step down from the pedestal to come and stand on  the edge of stage from where I have to be accompanied by the one I am sold to. Draco makes his way forwards through the crowd and cheers of everyone around. He looks impassive about it. Almost bored. It’s a strike on my vanity, even if being sold for ten-thousand galleons is a balm of sorts. He offers a grace full hand from the first of the three steps leading down. His pose is gracious as girls giggle about

“Go watch the New Lord of the rings movie, I bet you both will like that one.” Erik Stoltorm says standing right next to the stage. His smile is smug, too smug for someone who lost the bid.
Draco inclines his head, even more bored and dismissive.

“That is a good suggestion… perhaps we will, Thank you.” I say smiling back at Stoltorm.

“I don’t think I can stand sitting next to Potter for so long a duration…” Draco sneers from my side. Shaking his head as he lets go of my hand immediately.

“Well, You should have thought that before you bid for me, now I am honor-bound to take you to a movie and dinner.” I am half way through my sentence when I turn to look at Erik and catch him shooting a strange look at Draco. He immediately excuses himself. Just as Ron and Hermione come to join us. Draco is about to slip from my side, and I am sort of angry by now. Humiliated almost. So I grab his forearm and lean into him slightly.

“This changes nothing about the dance though; I will still have my turn-about with you.” I say barely concealing my irritability. He turns slightly and I realize how close our faces are when I feel his warm exhale on the side of my cheek. The last time we were this close… well…

“I didn’t think it did… Come find me when its time.” His silver eyes are fixed on mine. And I can see a few conflicting expressions there. Like sun peeking through clouds. I lean back, eyes still fixed on that beautiful face and let go of his arm as I nod and he turns away. My mind is a jumble. His actions and attitude are conflicting, too conflicting.

Why play this game at all if you are not going to make your move? It’s one step forwards, two steps back. This evening in some ways has turned out better than I would have hoped.

“Would now be a good time to ask you about coming clean regarding your sexual-orientation? For which me and Fred have an on-going bet for past two years? Since you are so good at giving mixed signals to our gaydar.” George and Fred are suddenly on my either side.

“What George means to ask is, how does it feel to be bid upon by a man? Or Men in this case. Because Malfoy’s gives no signals yet at all but that is to be expected, being Slytherin and Snape’s protégé and all.”

“Guys, can we not do this right now, I am still too dazed about the shower-sex debacle…”

“OH! Yes, how can we forget about the shower-sex part…” and from then both of them hardly need my input as they exchange constant lewd and vulgar quips between them during dinner. Until Hermione, once again comes to my rescue just as we are finishing dessert, and leads me to the table where Prof. McGonagall is seated, looking graceful in her traditional black robes.

Parvati finds me a few minutes later, asking if I would meet the band that is playing tonight backstage as they are huge fans of mine.

Boys2Wizards are perhaps the first boy band in wizarding Britain. They are young and fresh out of Hogwarts and are mostly muggleborn. From what I have heard, they are extremely popular already and tonight might just be their take-off gig. I am personally very fond of their music which I have heard on the wireless. And I actually have a request to make of them as well.

As their crew is setting up their equipment on the stage, they are bouncing all over the place. The energy of the band in infectious. So are their nerves and they are too happy to oblige my request to play a particular song of theirs for me.

After signing their identical Button-up silk shirts under their wizarding robes, I finally make my way back to the party, and take a seat next to Prof. McGonagall again.

“You are such a plethora of different energies tonight Potter, it’s almost making me dizzy.” She leans forward towards me, the steely old maiden as a small smile plays on her stiff and severe lips.

“Are you sure Professor McGonagall that it’s not your steely consistency against display of all energies other than severity rather than my different ones that makes you feel so?” I smile at her cheekily.

“Grown a cheek has he?” she smiles a full one this time, her eyes sparkling.

“Grown a heart has she?” I quip back. Just as the band is announced and I stand up graciously and offer her my hand.

“I would love to have this dance with you. First dance for my first dance teacher?”

The song is soft and melodious. And we slowly move around the dance floor, and I notice how gaunt she is. She was always whip-cord thin, but now her frame is almost fragile.

“You should not be over-working yourself Minerva.”

“It is not over-working child, really, it’s just Old age and loneliness.”

“Why? And don’t say that we are all the family you need.”

“I will tell you the story someday. For now let me just enjoy how good my clumsy student has become in dancing.”

I don’t ask any more questions and let her lean against me as we slowly waltz in the middle of the dance floor. Sharing polite greetings with other dancing couples. I notice the light of the rest of the hall has been dimmed again a point or two. For a more romantic atmosphere.

As the song begins to wind down, Minerva looks up at me and I can tell her eyes are sparkling behind those demure glasses.

“Harry, I am more proud of you and the world you have helped make then I can ever tell you. You have surpassed even what Albus’ vision was for you. But, don’t make any more sacrifices, let the world strive on its own from this point forward. Because if you don’t let go of it now, you will never do and in the end, after all wars are fought, you will be a hero, but you will be alone. Find love. That is the most important thing. And once you have found, don’t let go, no matter what the circumstances. You hear me you silly boy?”

Her words are as if prophetic for me. And they settle something inside me. The constant interpretation, the constant conflict. If Malfoy is real and he feels something about me, then I will pursue. And if he is tricking me and doesn’t feel anything about me then I will tie him down until he does. Because. This goes for him too. We are both lonely. Isolated. Me, because of who I am and what I did. He, because of who he is and what he did.

We are both orphans. We are both anomalies. So what goes for me, goes for him too.

My eyes search the tables in the dim hall and I see him standing way in the back next to the entrance of the gardens surrounding the convention center. I gather up all my courage and determination and make my way towards him. It’s too dark where he stands for me to see if he sees me coming. But he straightens up once I cross a few more tables and am onto him. He places the flute of his drink on the window ledge.

“Shall we?” I ask him, he doesn’t say anything, just nods and takes my offered hand. He doesn’t have to really. But he does. It’s a relief. His hand in cool and strong in my, and there is a magnetic feel to it, as if any moment I am about to get an electric shock. A few people notice our procession towards the dance floor as the song comes to an end. I stand with him on the edge of the dance floor as the fading melody morphs into a new smooth one. The acoustic guitar leads into a familiar tune, and I gently pull my stoic partner with me onto the dance floor.

“That’s our song…” I murmur to him as he raises an enquiring brow just as we are about to take a position. I move a step closer and he, the snake he is, snakes an arm around my waist with a small smirk of triumph until I snake mine around his on the opposite side. Which puts us in a much closer and intimate position than necessary.

“You don’t know the song, so I guess since I can’t lead, you can’t either…” I whisper into his face. By now I don’t really care who is watching.

The singer starts the serenade. Beautiful lyrics and melody croons slowly as we start moving.

**There's no more waiting,

Holding out for love...

You are my God-send,

That i have been forever dreaming of..

My Angel from above..

 

Merlin knows...

I'm head over heels and it shows,

I’ve cast every spell I suppose...

There's some magic about you,

When you're around baby I have found

I get lost in you...**

 

We move slowly but fluidly and as the lyric unravels, I feel nervous again. Draco just looks at me in that impassive way of his; there is something intense just under the surface of his skin. I can feel it as I am in an intimately close proximity. Trying to keep my head from floating away, indulging too much in his presence and static and scent. His scent is like a dream. So beautiful yet such an uncommon combination.

**What is this magic, I've never felt before,

That when I touch you,

Spells undo, surrender ever more..

That's what you cast it for...**

 

“Congratulations Potter, you have learnt how to dance in my absence.” He finally says. Still not breaking his gaze away from mine and the quip that is supposed to be sardonic holds no heat for some reason. It seems a very powerless attempt at gaining back control of situation. Does this mean what I think it means. I move closer yet, just to test the theory and I feel a momentary tremor in his hand that I am holding in mine, palm to palm. He looks as if in a trance. His eyes follow mine, yet there is no sharpness in them. Is this surrender?

 

**Merlin knows...

I'm head over heels and it shows,

I've cast every spell I suppose..

There's some mystery about you,**

 

When I had started looking, I had not known exactly looking for, now that I see it, I wonder if this is what I was looking for. Is he even here? Or has he flown off somewhere. My answer comes seconds later.

**When you're around, baby I have found,

I get lost in you magical gaze,

lost in this mystical maze...**

 

“This has the potential of devastating us Harry. It is courting fire.” He whispers, leaning even closer so that we are almost cheek to cheek.

“I don’t care. I’ve played with fire before and survived.” I am not the one answering anymore. It’s my soul that answers.

“There is so much that you don’t know, so much I am, so much I am not, so much I have done…” his voice is brimming with melancholy. And i can do nothing but instinctively tighten my hold around him.

“What I don’t know, what you are, what you are not and what you have done… you will tell me.”

He grows stiff in my arms. Before he leans back from me and I notice that the song is over and we are somewhere towards the edge of the dancing floor. Before he can move away, or protest, I firm my hand around his and swiftly lead him towards the Garden entrance where he was standing before the dance.

He can easily stop me, but he doesn’t even if his hand twitches in my grip. I find a far corner in the garden which is conveniently not lighted and pull us both towards it. I have all intentions of having this decided tonight.

I pull him into the very corner as he comes impassively before I crowd into his personal space once again.

“I need you to…” I start saying but for some reason words escape me as my mind perceives his beautiful face again. His eyes are alert, and melancholy, and I feel actual pain somewhere in my chest to behold such a beautiful vision. He is too beautiful, too perfect.

I take a deep breath, and close my eyes for a moment and I can feel his eyes on me.

“I need you to stop playing with me Draco. It must be obvious by now…” my words break again, but I am determined to go on this time.

“It must be obvious by now that I am at your mercy here. What I feel for you, I have not ever felt a fraction of it for anyone else. I need to know. I need to know where you stand. I need to know… If I even have a chance here? At all? I need to know, and I need to know tonight Draco. Please. I am in constant torment… I can hardly function, I am so numb to everything that is not you… So please!” My voice leaves me again.

“You see, you have got it all wrong Harry.” He finally says after a few long moments of silence. And then he chuckles bitterly and I want to punch something.

“You see, you don’t get the fact, that it has always been the other way around. I have always been the one at you mercy. What you feel for me is not a fraction of what I feel for you in return, In this I am certain. ” he pauses for a moment and I find it too good to believe, what he is saying

“You have been center of my universe for so long that I have not developed a sensation for anything else other than you in the first place. Seven years in forgotten exile, and yet I dreamt of you every single time I closed my eyes…”

I don’t know when and how I reach for him, all I know is that my heart would burst if he says one more sentence. So I stop the time itself by joining my lips to his.

And it is as if the bank of a gushing river breaks. Its fracture. That moment when his lips yield underneath mine. Cool and moist and sweet. His arms snake around me in a vice-grip and yet I want him to press me even harder until it’s hard to tell who is who. And then the heat starts as I feel the rest of his body pressed against mine just like I had wished not seconds ago. Feelings are mutual. Sensations are mutual. His mouth opens against mine and I am only too anxious to leap at the invitation as my tongue finds a way in and I taste him. Relentlessly, thoroughly, devoutly… and he tastes back. It’s like never a more perfect match was made. He is passive when I am aggressive and I am passive when he is aggressive and it’s the most perfect kiss I have ever experienced in my existence, and it’s just our first. It’s as if world beyond these wonderful and intoxicating lips doesn’t exist. And inside this lip lock is the whole universe.

Seconds later, which might just be hours, I wouldn’t know, we finally come up for air. Reluctantly. As I can tell from how his lips peck mine and mine his reflexively almost after every inhale and exhale. Breathing doesn’t require that we step out of each other arms though. So we don’t.

We stand in that corner arms entwined around the other as if we were never separated. Hair a mess and lips swollen and red. I am sure I look much more disheveled than him.

“Can I come with you to the Manor?” I ask between small kisses.

He stops for a second where he is kissing me just beneath my jaw, and then that absolutely radiant, yet deviant smile spreads on his kiss ravaged lips. And before I even register myself doing it I am summoning my cloak.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.  (Robert Frost)

 

It was not always this easy, this acceptance of fate, inevitability of loss, endurance of cruelty. No, it was not easy at all. Melancholy and heart-break is something one never gets used to, no matter how much one prepares for it.

The numbness in Draco’s chest was more of a brand than an absence of pain. His body needed rest, his mind needed rest, his soul needed rest. But his time was short and he had to do the impossible in that very short window of time.

So the third evening since the ‘incident’ in the abandoned girl’s lavatory found Draco sneaking out of the hospital wing and making his way stealthily towards the room of hidden and forgotten things, taking the cover of supper rush in the corridors.

He had spent the past three nights pondering over a lot of things. Life-threatening injuries have a way of putting everything into sharp focus and the more Draco tried to not focus and put himself off the path his mind and heart wanted to go, the more it became clearer to him, what had to be done? Who was worth saving? Which side to choose?

By the time he turned into the corridor on the seventh floor, he heard voices up ahead in the deserted corridor. Whoever it was, also intended to use the room of requirement, because that was the only visit worthy place on this side of the seventh floor.

He took shelter in a darkened alcove to first see who it was that was about to use the room of requirement, peeking just around the corner, a flash of flickering flame illuminated two heads. One with black, unruly hair the other with long red hair.

Potter and the Weaslette.

Had it been three days ago that Draco was witnessing this, it would have been an endless source of ammunition for designing whole poems of insults around it. As it were. It was three days later, and all Draco could feel was a hollow pain in his chest.

Something deep inside spurred him on for some reason. He did not want to lose this chance of checking on the vanishing cabinet. It was almost fixed and Draco needed to make some final changes. Severus had instructed him that it was imperative that they went through with this plan.

Draco was sure that it was impossible to kill Dumbledore, even if the Death-eaters did come into Hogwarts. His fix of the cupboard was only good for transporting a few people. More than five would be stretching it, and the transport could happen perhaps only a couple of times. And as loathsome as Draco found the nosey Head-master, he thought it impossible that the old man could be subdued by half a dozen death-eaters. If only Draco had known.

He swifted down the corridor casting a very effective invisibility charm alongside a muting charm on himself. Once the wooden door in which Potter and She-weasel had gone into disappeared, Draco walked in front of the blank wall three times, until the door emerged again.

Draco opened it carefully and entered the familiar vaulted chamber that was more of a Hall piled with a plethora of junk and objects that were no longer needed and were forgotten. He traced the familiar path through the piles of junk that in places were high enough to reach the vaulted ceiling. He was about to take the last sharp turn around an impressively high pile of junk when he heard it.

“Give me the book… and close your eyes Harry, trust me, I will hide it somewhere unknown to you, so that you will never be tempted again.”

Book? Hiding? Tempting? Harry?

Draco’s curiosity was undeniably peaked. What were Harry and the Weaslette doing in the room of hidden things?

He discreetly peeked around the corner, tucking himself again into the shadows of the already dimly lit room, careful despite the invisibility charm, the way his luck was these days he did not want to take any chances.

Potter stood eyes closed and hands raised forward almost reluctantly he handed over the said book to Weaslette. Draco watched closely as Weaslette backed away from Potter and walked across a low pile on the other side where lay an ancient and dusty toy chest underneath a lot of other junk, before she carefully opened and placed the dark covered book inside. The chest was incidentally part of the pile of junk directly opposite to where Draco had hidden the Vanishing cabinet.

His attention was claimed again as the Weaslette walked back to Potter gingerly and before Draco could figure it out.

She was kissing Potter and Potter was kissing her back.

And in that moment, something inside Draco cracked.

To see them entwined around each other so intimately.

Draco cursed his vantage point, from where he could see their lips locked and bodies moving against each other.

It did not look or seem like a first kiss.

It must not be.

His vision blurred a little. And he realized that he had tears in his eyes.

He felt the unfamiliar anger. A betrayal. Deep within his veins. It was paralyzing.

And so he kept standing there in the dark. Watching, wondering if that would be forever his place.

After a few agonizing moments, the couple parted, faces flushed, eyes shining.

And Draco wondered, if he could even wish for a kiss. The one he could claim to cherish for a life time. One that could be the last living memory of his.

But Draco knew that the path he was about to choose would probably see his death before the end of the year. For once the realization was a balm. He would not have to witness this again in case he died. He would be free of pain, free of wanting something that could never be his.

Draco did not die.

And Draco took the book.

For years to come. That one kiss would haunt Draco more than any horrors he had to face, but even more than that kiss three words would haunt Draco. A little inscription in the margin of one of the pages.

“ Sectumsempra – For enemies”


“His eyes don’t leave you for more than a few moments at a time.”

I simply grunt as elegantly as I can in response to Erik’s statement.

“Must be excruciating, this vow of distancing yourself that you have made.”

I look at him as blandly I can to show him my disapproval of this meddling

“Must be a torment, not being able to look at the object of your desire because they are looking at you and you are stubborn and masochistic enough to deny yourself the rapture that is all yours.”

He pauses for a moment and I find myself hoping that he would pass on.

“Yes, one look, it all starts with the eyes of course. First the eyes feast on the countenance of your desire, then the flesh comes awake and then the souls meet with the first touch of the lips. Before the meeting of the eyes, it’s all just hypothetical, so I can understand why you refuse to look.”

I still refuse to meet his eyes. Cursing the moment I decided to come with the Minister’s entourage

“I hope you have seen enough though, that you have realized that he is flaunting himself tonight, and not for anyone else but you...”

“What do you want Stoltorm?” I snap at him to my own disappointment. Only to see a satisfied smirk on his face before it turn to a different kind of smile, which is a little melancholy and wistful.

“I want you to seize the opportunity Draco. Your abstinence will do no favors to you. He desires you back. He wants to possess you. Little does he know that he already does. Would you really let this go? Just because you have grown so used to the constant hurt? What is your life worth living for if not for this? I know fulfillment can be just as scary as bereavement for the way you have conducted yourself so far, but…”

He has to cut-off mid-sentence when Harry takes the dais most graciously amongst the applause. And I can finally look at him. Though most of him is hidden behind the dais still.

I realize at once as he starts speaking that this is a very different Harry. This is where he has changed. Where once he was a gawky awkward and shy teenager, he is now a charismatic, powerful and confident crowd-pleaser. I wonder what orchestrated such change? Or if it is a change at all and not a façade. He is beautiful in his bashful confidence. Shamelessly flirting with the crowd. The Harry I knew in school was the exact opposite of this persona. No matter how much I accused him of being a show off back in the days, I always knew that it was not true. Which frustrated me even more as a child because I just could not relate to his angle. I could not understand why he could not embrace his hero-status. Why he chose modest friends, terrible clothing, those ghastly spectacles, hideous haircut…

At this moment he is the exact opposite of that boy. Now he has strong and influential yet sincere friends, He is wearing a wonderful and most appropriate and tastefully fashionable outfit, the spectacles are gone and now he mesmerizes the crowd with his stunning green eyes, and the haircut… well its still messy, but tastefully so.

I am brought out of my thoughts when I hear one or both of the Weasley twins say

“Hermione give him his scarf and then we’ll talk.”

The said muggleborn pulls it out with a flourish from the inside pocket of Harry’s jacket and put it around his neck.

I notice that it’s the same Snow-silver Liberty of London formal silk scarf that I am wearing tonight.

“Hmmm… Matching scarves, I know a courtship when I see one.” Erik  whispers next to me.

“Must be a coincidence… I bought it from a Muggle store.” I say before I can stop myself. I absolutely do not want to acknowledge Erik’s poking in this matter.

“Then perhaps it is another sign…” he looks at me smugly, too smugly.

“I don’t see how it is of any concern to you.”

“No, but it is of concern to you, and you are my friend, and what kind of friend would I be if I did not… push you in the right direction.”

I know that I have already said too much and encouraged Erik too much so I keep my silence as Harry starts talking about charities in question.

The information that Mr.Montague provided me with is extremely impressive. Not only has Harry and co. been successful in setting up various charitable funds for those in need. They have also set up very impressive institutes as well. I am very surprised to see that the new project of training young witches and wizards is named after Severus. If anything, that is what I really want to talk to Harry about. As bizarre as it may be, I feel between me and him, Severus would be a safe and bonding topic even if i don’t know how exactly Severus was able to redeem himself. Perhaps Dumbledore’s portrait gave up some kind of information that had explained Severus’ extremely difficult role in the whole war. Or maybe Harry had somehow found out about Severus and his mother.

Harry’s speech is to the point, thanks everyone without over-doing it and keeps everyone interested in the details too. If he looks like an eye-candy, it is just a bonus at this point.

The audience becomes more lax and less focused once the name call starts and I realize that at some point I will have to go as well. The Donation I made for the carnival yesterday was for my own satisfaction, the donation I made for the gala is a publicity stunt. Which is why I wished to stay anonymous with the carnival donation. It would be too much for the people to comprehend. The last thing I want to do is over do it.

I know I should be ashamed of myself, but I take the cover of the dimmed light and while the whole hall applauds politely in honor or all the charitable donors who have contributed tonight, I shamelessly watch Harry.  He smiles and announces name after name as if on auto-pilot. I just want to watch him, feel him saying my name. I don’t know exactly what I am looking for and despite Erik’s constant egging I refuse to set expectations, but I can still not shrug off the feeling that before the end of the night, things will come to head finally.

I know that by this time, the list is bound to come to an end and my name would have to come up.

And it does come up.

“The Last name on the list…” which must be mine.

 “…is the one I never imagined that I would see on this list, because most of us thought him lost to us for almost seven years…” yes, that is definitely me and I wonder why he is making such a big deal out of this.

“…Most of us believed that the mantle of the Malfoy name will never be taken again, and one of the most ancient and respected families in the wizarding world would fade…” Wow, that is most dramatic, is he teasing me?

“…I am grateful and Happy to announce to you all that that won’t be happening, and I want everyone here to give Lord Draco Malfoy a huge round of applause not just as a welcome back gesture, but also for his generosity, for he has contributed the most to tonight’s donation funds.” I stand up from my seat, wondering if I should fee appalled or flattered. I would never have in my life imagined to be cornered like this by Harry Potter. I pointedly ignore Erik who I know is smiling smugly, and walk towards the podium where the minister stands with Professor McGonagall. It’s a long damn walk, and I am nervous because of the really sincere applause.

They are applauding and welcoming back a death-eater who was son of a death-eater. I asked Mr.Montague about this welcoming me back into the society. All he said was, that Death has a way of making people forgive even the worse of deeds. The death of all death-eaters after that megalomaniac’s destruction was more revenge than people and victims of the war could dish out, and it was pretty absolute and painful. People took it as a sign of divine intervention. The ultimate punishment. And so the fact that I survived the dark-mark advocates my alleged innocence and while people may have many opinions regarding the conditions in which I got it, Harry’s part in the trials against the Malfoy family sealed the opinion even more firmly.

The receiving of the certificate and pleasantries goes by in a thoughtful blur and then he fills my vision.

Close, so close, too close… I am sure I startle most ungraciously but he is grinning in that strange excited way of his. His eyes hopeful.

Sign! Sign! Sign! My mind is chanting, and I have never hated Erik Stoltorm more in my life than this moment, for putting theories into my head.

And then it all gets lost somewhere as he closes the space between us and his arms are around me like sturdy bindings. Its unexpected enough that I freeze in my place. My mind and body and soul screaming at me.

He smells of Air and cinnamon and fresh green apples. He smells of life and effort and leather. His cheek touches the side of mine, and it’s the magic fusing jolts that brings me out of my frozen state. He should not be this close to me, it can have strange consequences. But he does not seem in the mood of letting go in next few seconds. His arms around my shoulders press me to his chest. But this is something extremely different for whatever happened in the Elevator.

There is an offer of friendship here and I am not entirely sure if I can take it.

He finally decides to let go and I haphazardly summon all my Malfoy demure to deal with the aftermath of this disaster. He does not let of my arms as we part to a certain distance.

Before he totally undoes me with those green eyes so up close, I say the first thing my cool Malfoy persona conjures into his ear.

“Nice scarf Potter.”

It comes out more forcefully than I expect and that is before I realize how lame the come back was.

‘Yes, Draco be a darling and point out the only other thing that can embarrass you more than your startled reaction to arms full of Potter.’

I hate myself.

I hate him.

So I smile the best smile I have in my arsenal.

A smile that neither accepts nor decline the offer of platonic friendship.

The veins that are connected from my heart to my fingers have this strange ache in them once I internally pose myself the idea of a platonic friendship with Harry Potter.

It will kill me, the ache tells me.

But can I refuse the gift so graciously given me?

“Thank You…”

He says sincerely.

“For the compliment or the donation?” I ask stupidly hopeful. I don’t know if he reads it, because he sort of looks self-absorbed at this point.

He is a walking talking contradiction. I don’t think I can say that enough.

And maybe that is precisely why I find myself falling deeper and deeper for him, every passing day.

“both…but I do have a favor to ask of you…” he says.

“Really Potter? After all I have already done?” I ask him in a teasing way. In my head I shuffle across possible favors he can ask of me hundred per second.

“Yes…” he says simply, I look at him expectantly keeping my smile up and raising a questioning brow at him. But his expression is almost nervous for the first time tonight.

Oh please divine deity! Let this not be something absolutely devastating. There only so much of masochism I can take.

When he does not speak for next few seconds, I verbally consent. Knowing full well that I maybe verbally consenting to heart-break.

“I would like to have a dance with you…” he says.

Oh dead Merlin, what is this new torture.

It is as if the whole universe is working against me.

He looks nervous yet hopeful. And that hopeful face can melt rocks and he does not even know how susceptible I am to his charm. His unknowing claims.

There is no way I can refuse. That has never been an option.

“You would like that wouldn’t you?” I ask, I need to keep my composure here. I do not need to think about me and him holding hands in close proximity, in middle of the dance floor. No matter how ridiculous a dancer he is.

“Only on the condition, that I will be leading… I saw you dancing at the Yule ball and I can’t allow that to happen again.” I say defensively, giving myself a very false sense of control.

“I think you are about to be pleasantly surprised.” He says smiling at me, and if I did not know any better I would say he was flirting.

Which is absolutely ridiculous, just as much when Erik keeps suggesting it, But true nonetheless.

I watch him saunter away confidently.

Before I know it, through the daze of aftermath of scolding myself and agreeing to dance with ‘him’, the Bachelor auction is Halfway through. With Luna Lovegood announcing the candidates.

I wonder who thought it would be wise to put Luna Lovegood up for the purpose of conducting a frivolous Bachelor auction. When I was in school I had heard of her ridiculous attempt at commentating for a Quidditch match.

“This is very amusing, I must say. I have never been to a bachelor Auction before.” Erik Stoltorm is grinning in that lascivious and shrewd way when his thoughts are full of vulgar mischief.

“It is not the way you are thinking, this is not like the roleplaying slave auction you and your dark band of law-enforcements buddies used to play in Transylvania…Don’t get so excited..”

“Really? That’s a shame, I had my eye on number 13.” He pouts waving a printed gold leaf card at me before he puts it in front of me and stands up to saunter to where the crowd of potential buyers are standing.

“Though, I wouldn’t mind sharing with you…you only need ask!” he winks at me buttoning up his handsome dark plum robe and making his way towards the crowd that parts for him like the red sea.

I look at the card that lays in front of me before I reach for it and turn it over to see the list of the Bachelors participating in the auction tonight. There in the end of the list is  Bachelor Number 13

“Lord Harry James Potter-Black”

I look up towards the crowd, behind which somewhere stands Harry,  but still before it stands Erik Stoltorm watching me and raising a challenging eye brow at me as our eyes meet.

I turn away from him showing dis-interest. And yes I am un-interested in bidding for Potter, no I would not embarrass myself like a fish monger.

No need in bidding for what I know will be mine.

I am fucking DRACO MALFOY.

 

I sit participating passively in the conversation that is happening around the table I am seated in between Minister and some other paper-pushers and brokers I would rather not know name of.

My ears though are trained also on the progress of the auction which is just a candidate away from Harry Potter. And then after a rather short bidding on number 12.  Its number 13.  

“Number 13 is Harry James Potter, also known formally as Lord Harry James Potter-Black. He is 24 years old and already an accomplished senior auror. He used to play seeker for his home team at Hogwarts. Harry likes flying, treacle–tart and spending time with friends. Harry also volunteers for various charities and is very fond of romantic walks on the beach and sex in the shower…”

I almost startle visibly. Did she just say what I think she said? No… I must have been mistaken. Though the pregnant silence says otherwise.

And just then, in a split second, my mind shuffles to the memory of a shower I had not so long ago, and instead of my lonely quivering body underneath the shower it shows ‘Him’ pressed against me. As water plasters our hair to our faces. Pleasuring each other with our hands, finger not laboring for mutual pleasure scrabbling and worshipping any piece of skin they can find of the other, lips locked in an unbreakable kiss, breathless, wet and naked under the silver rivulets of warm water caressing his golden and my pale skin.

STOP!

I scream at myself internally. Only to find that the crowd around me is now cheering through bidding that has somehow reached up to Three thousand Galleons.

And its between Parvati Patil and…

Erik Stoltorm!

I could fucking kill him.

Fire surges through my veins. But I keep it simmering and don’t jump up and streak like a comet through the crowd.

Well, more than My Malfoy coolness in exacting revenge it is my aching erection that prevents me from rash actions.

Patil falter when Erik offers Forty-five hundred Galleons.

I am at my patience end. I am probably going to regret this later. No I am very sure I am going to regret this later. And not only that, my Erection has not fully subsided still. Just the thrill of winning over Harry Potter is enough to maintain it. I am truly pathetic.

 “So going on 4500 galleons once… Twice…”

I Showily put the wand to my neck, pretending to cast a slight sonorous, as the minister and others watch me amused.

“Ten thousand Galleons and lets just move on?”  I say in the most careless way I can manage.

There is a murmur that goes through the crowd, and Luna quiets for a moment, from where I am sitting I cannot see Harry or Luna or Erik for that matter, which is just the way I want it. I expect a counter bid of at least Twenty thousand galleons to come next. Knowing that Erik and I should we wish can go on forever. But it does not come.

“Alright, Ten-thousand Galleons for Harry Potter and the gift bag, going Once…Twice…? Sold! Harry Potter is sold to Draco Malfoy for Ten-thousand Galleons, which is the highest bid ever for this particular bachelor auction’s history.”

The applause and hooting goes off everywhere and I am starting to realize what I have just done. Why Erik never counter-bid me. I walked straight into it. And now I have a movie and a dinner date with Harry Potter. Quite a deviation from the original plan of staying away from him it is. Just like he is unable to do.

I will not bother you Malfoy,

Yet asks me for a dance. Hugs me any chance he gets in public.

Which makes me move to action as I have to receive my prize from the stage.

My prize that still has me half aroused with only an idea of him liking shower sex.

I am such a ponce!

I carefully arrange my robe as I walk through the crowd towards my destination where stands Harry Potter. Almost blushing.

Don’t be nice Draco. You can’t have him hugging you with the state you are in. It will be a little too evident. Keep him at an arm’s length, and nowhere near your ‘length’.

So I put up a mask. Mask to hide my emotions… erection.

It is going well, though he looks a little disappointed. But things come to head when Erik intervenes. And says something about the Lord of the Rings movie. I am determined to ignore him. My control is on the knife’s edge as it is. But Harry Potter has to go in and be gracious of the suggestion. It almost sears my heart with a strange sort of jealousy. He does not even know what he does to me. And he would talk so graciously to someone who was bidding for him. For all he knows, carnal reasons?

So I lash out, and its as bad as kicking a puppy, making a child drop his ice-cream, putting a favorite stuffed toy just out of reach.

 “I don’t think I can stand sitting next to Potter for so long a duration…” I say pulling away from him. And the smug look almost melts off of Erik’s face as he shoots a look at Harry, and then at me, his eyes almost pleading at me.

And I understand in that moment, that Erik had played it so that I would have Harry in the end of the bid without giving away too much of my dignity.

“Well, you should have thought that before you bid for me, now I am honor-bound to take you to a movie and dinner.”

There are so many cruel things he could have said back, but he hasn’t. And I just feel worse for it.

By the time I look back at Erik, he is excusing himself. I also am about to turn around when Harry grabs for my arm. But what comes out of his mouth is least of what I expect.

“This changes nothing about the dance though; I will still have my turn-about with you.” He says leaning towards me. Annoyance and determination etched in his voice. I turn back towards him, and our faces come dangerously close together.

“I didn’t think it did… Come find me when its time.”

 

I find myself drifting away from the crowd and tables full of people high from quality cocktails and dessert. I find myself leaning against a window half in shadow half in light. Just like I have always been.

My mind is strangely blank. As if on a precipice of making a decision. My eyes reflexively find him. Sitting next to McGonagall. Happy and serene. Though I can clearly see there is a tremor just under the surface. He himself is on the verge of a revelation. I wonder if that revelation has something to do with me? Should I dare to imagine even? I shouldn’t. I owe him a dance and it would not be right if I am less than decent. I deserve a dance at least. For those few moments, to have him all to myself.

I see him leading McGonagall with tender care towards the dance floor, and watch him leading her into a very slow and serene waltz. He is smiling. Beautiful, like the sun. So full of life tonight. So handsome and charming.

And the feeling of rightness about all I had to do to see him here, so alive and happy in a world he has built so much better than the one before it, fills me up to the brim. It’s sobering and intoxicating at the same time. Like a euphoria. I close my eyes and lean against the wall behind me feasting on his smiling visage behind my eyelids.

I don’t know how long I stand there. Feeling his proximity dancing in my chest. I stand there loving and cherishing it with every deep breath. And then it subtly grows warmer and warmer and I know he reaches for me. For the dance he is determined to have. I open my eyes just in time and straighten up as he reaches for me. and holds his hand forward.

Oh how I will give anything from my flesh, bones soul and psyche to hold that hand and never let go of it.

“Shall we?” he asks.

I put away my untouched drink and take his hand in ascent.

His hand is warm and calloused in mine. And I know I am tethered to him for eternity. Whether he ever notices me following in his shadow or no, I will be there, right behind him, like an invisible kite with a string bound to his wrist, at time flying high in the sky when the wind is favorable, and at others dragging after him punctured and broken, but still following, until there is none left of me.

I have destroyed myself for him once. Second time it will only come naturally.

I am brought out of reverie when he pulls me onto the dance floor.

I sneak an arm around him, playfully to make up to him my absence of mind.

He smiles at me and sneaks his other arm around my waist bringing us closer. And I notice his eyes shine at the proximity.

“You don’t know the song, so I guess since I can’t lead, you can’t either…” he informs me in a whisper. And I can only see his eyes. Green and shining and mesmerizing. Appraising me. Telling me so much.

I find that during past Eight years, he has become quite the dancer. Almost as graceful and sneaky in dance moves as he was in seeking the snitch. I admit that its been a while since I danced at all, but it had been ingrained into me from such a young age that I never really have to think about it. He leads me at time and at others I lead him. Its perfect between us and I compliment him on it. And between us, there is nothing at the moment. And I can’t believe what I am seeing in his eyes.

Passion, affection, determination and desire.

He desires me. And perhaps it goes further than desire. I am too afraid to acknowledge.

He is searing me. He does not know how hard it is for me to not love him when he hates me. But to see love and want in his eyes so naked? I don’t think I will survive this.

I can’t stop myself at last when it becomes unmistakable between us.

I need to give him fair warning. And hope that he takes it, and die if he does.

And die if he doesn’t either.

“This has the potential of devastating us Harry. It is courting fire.”

I say solemnly. With as much resolve as I can conjure. I might still be mistaken.

Only I am not.

“I don’t care. I’ve played with fire before and survived.” His words and face are so raw and open that my composure crumbles at last. This is more painful than when I had to rip my soul apart.

I am breaking down in his arms. He needs to know, he needs to understand so much before he loves me and then hates me for it. It would be a fate worse than death.

“There is so much that you don’t know, so much I am, so much I am not, so much I have done…”

I want to tell him that I am a monster. Who killed in cold blood. And lied and cheated and betrayed… I am tainted. His arms around me tighten instead of letting go.

“What I don’t know, what you are, what you are not and what you have done… you will tell me.”

It will destroy us. I try to move away from him only to have him take hold of my hand and lead me out. I can hardly see where we are going. I am too conflicted. I want to tell all and hide everything at the same time.

Before long I find myself standing face to face with him in a secluded corner in a garden. I feel a light magic surrounding us. A privacy charm. I feel more composed all of sudden and look up at him where he stands in front of me inches away.

“I need you to…” he pleads with me. Regarding what, I cannot say. He leans his head forward clenching his eyes closed and taking a deep breath

He is nervous and afraid.  Of what? I can’t say.

“I need you to stop playing with me Draco. It must be obvious by now…”he pauses again and just stares at me.

Yes it must be obvious by now that I am so much in love with you that I can die. How can you not see that? How can you doubt it? After all that has happened between us the past few weeks how can you not see it?

“It must be obvious by now that I am at your mercy here. What I feel for you, I have not ever felt a fraction of it for anyone else. I need to know. I need to know where you stand. I need to know… If I even have a chance here? At all? I need to know, and I need to know tonight Draco. Please. I am in constant torment… I can hardly function, I am so numb to everything that is not you… So please!”

You have been blind Harry, just as I have been. So terrified of acknowledgement, so terrified of Joy, for it is alien to us. So afraid to give in, so ready to give up. Why are we so in favor of pain instead of joy?

I can only laugh bitterly at the irony.

“You see, you have got it all wrong Harry.” And I can see he misunderstands me, as pain washes over his beautiful face. I continue somehow, without being distracted, it can mean life and death at this moment.

“You see, you don’t get the fact, that it has always been the other way around. I have always been the one at you mercy. What you feel for me is not a fraction of what I feel for you in return, In this I am certain. ”

I pause for a second as comprehension dawns over his face. The pain is swiped away to give way to hope. I realize I don’t care what I will have to do to keep this hope on his face. I will lie, kill, hide, beg, steal to keep it there. To hell with righteousness. I am a Slytherin anyway, secrets are our style. I will have my Harry and I will keep him too. Because he wants it just as much as I do. And we both deserve it.

Tell the truths that matter, that make you strong, Hide the rest that makes you weak and wither. And what use is it to tell when most of it is unchangeable. So I tell the truth.

“You have been center of my universe for so long that I have not developed a sensation for anything else other than you in the first place. Seven years in forgotten exile, and yet I dreamt of you every single time I closed my eyes…”

He doesn’t let me complete, and I am only too grateful of that, just a moment before gratefulness turns to delirium as he surges forwards as do I and find each other’s lip as it was the most natural thing. As if we have been doing it for centuries.

There is no hesitation now. I am done with that. There is only me and mine now. Harry and Draco, Draco and Harry.

It’s a kiss to undermine existence of the phenomenon itself as we melt into each other. Magics mingling effortlessly seeming together perfectly. And then its rapture. As I feel the sensation of taste for the first time in seven years.

He tastes sweet. And I remember what sweetness tastes like and I find myself insatiable for it. He tastes of salty familiar and warm magic. He tastes of life, and passion and all-consuming fire.  His lips are poetry in motion and I feel as if I am being resurrected from the ashes as our arms pull each other close and out of the quicksand of pain, the depths of which has forged us into these vulnerable yet indestructible specimens that are puzzle pieces.

And then I forget about serenading inside my mind also as the rest of our bodies join the fray. I can feel the heat of his beating heart under my fingers his harsh breath washing against mine as we share air greedily between us. His hands are firm and possessive on my hip and my shoulder and I can only feel rapturous for it.

He breaks the kiss for air eventually. And it’s hardly fair. I feel bereft. I want to taste again. He must understand and feel the same way as he keeps coming back for short kisses. Just lips against lips. It’s too much for me. So I dive in to kiss his chin, the tip of his nose, his jaw. His cupid’s bow.

But Harry Potter knows how to steal the moment and the show.

 “Can I come with you to the Manor?” He asks. Eyes shining with hope.

He certainly can, but will I allow him to leave is another question entirely.


I am more than Thank full for being the master of the Malfoy Manor, which allows me to apparate directly inside the manor.

Perhaps because of haste, or the fact that we kissed our way through apparation and I am delirious, and aroused and just insane with ecstasy, I by mistake apparate us into my old bedroom instead of the Bordeaux suite as Harry is half way tearing through the buttons of my robe and impatiently undoing the scarf around my neck at the same time.

He pauses. And so do I. The room is bare, walls still singed and marked in places. Only the structure of the four-poster bed and the dresser remains . With its oval mirror reflecting the bareness of the room. The mattress and all furnishings are gone too.

“What in the name of Merlin happened here?” Harry gasped, eyes wide, lips obscenely yet deliciously red, making my gut clench in desire.

“Target practice.” I say quickly diverting him into another kiss and apparate him into the Bordeaux suite.

“Oi! A little warning next time!” he chuckles into my mouth. As he stumble back mercifully into the bed taking me with him. I detach our mouths for a moment to look down at him in the soft light of the room.

And I love him. I love him so much that it makes my heart stutter for a moment. I love him and he is with me, under me, smiling up at me, reaching for me, touching me.

“Please God, let this be real.” I whisper more to myself than him.

His smile fades a little.

“This has to be real, because if this was a dream, these button would not be so hard to undo.” He says breathlessly. As he traces a finger over the numerous that still remain intact and looped.

I cannot help but chuckle at him. At his strange naivete, and adorable breathlessness. He is a miracle. Dare I believe now?

“Seriously Potter, there is something called magic you know…” I move above him a little to undo them wandlessly when he captures my hand in mid twist.

“No… This is my prize Malfoy, and I will unravel it.” He says, the heat in his eyes smoldering. And I lose my balance when he tangles his leg between mine and with a slight heave has turned us over, caging me under him.

“And... is this mine?” I ask, hypnotized and entranced. As I trace hip Adam’s apple with the tip of my index finger, feeling it move under my finger as he swallows.

“It is… If you will have it.” He whispers, his pronouncement followed by a kiss to the tip of my finger that had found its way to his bottom lip.

“I dare say I will.” I barely am able to answer before he joins his lips to mine again. This time it is an expression. As he softly sucks on my upper lip and then the bottom one. Nipping it at it, trapping it between his and running the tip of his tongue on it again and again, until it tingles with sensation. I resign to my fate of being kissed into oblivion, that is if I don’t explode of arousal. His tongue finds the line of my teeth then, running over it, exploring, and I attempt to capture it, without hurting, but it’s too deft, elusive and curious, and then he finds it counterpart, who is just happy enough to lay back and enjoy the attention and just taste its lover.  The kiss goes on and on, open mouth, gasping, tasting exploring, familiarizing.

And it takes me quite a while to realize that during the long leisurely kiss I am not the only one who has been at work of undoing the buttons of his silk shirt, he has unraveled his present to the last layer as well.

He finally lets me up so that we are both sitting up on bed as he straddles me. He slowly pulls off my robe and shirt off my shoulder and delicately off my arms. Touching every piece of revealing skin reverently.

“You are breath-taking.” He says before his eyes zero in on something on my neck. I know it’s the mark he left the other day in the elevator. It would never totally fade. It is a claiming mark. The first one made by the mate my magic accepts.

I skim impatiently at his shoulders and shrug off his shirt as well revealing golden skin. His chest is clear and muscles sculpted like a statue of Adonis. Broad golden shoulders, the perked up nipples a dark shade of skin-pink, shaped and defined washboard abs with a drop shaped belly button in the middle like a flower bud growing between smooth stone slabs. He is even more beautiful than I ever dared to imagine. I detect a few faint scars here and there on his perfectly muscled biceps. Strong and sturdy and all encompassing. His chiseled forearms peppered with soft dark and downy hair.

‘This is my Harry, and he is glorious.’

He chuckles and I realize I said that out loud.

“Yours yes... Glorious or hideous, yours!”

And that is as clear a declaration as any. And God help me, but I will have my Harry. Mine, keep him mine!

He pushes me back to lay down again as he descends to kiss every inch of me. Especially across the lightning bolt faint scar. His fingers skim over the newly but completely healed scar on my waist, his eyes finding mine for a second as if telling me that I would be answering for it in near future before he descends again. It’s a sweet torture, to have his lips on me so relentlessly. He is merciless in his praise. Kissing, nipping sucking and my nipples until I can’t breathe or stay still. Dragging his teeth across my stomach, dipping his tongue into my belly button as he undoes the clasp of my trousers. Kissing and licking at the unraveling skin before he finally rubs against my confined penis, bulging and aching against the confines of my boxer briefs.

I hiss at the friction and the confinement. He tucks his fingers inside the waist band of both my trousers and briefs, but pauses. I look up at him to find him looking at me in a silent question.

Fucking Gryffindor Nobility! I am too incensed to speak so I put my hands on his push both the garments down arching my back upwards to help him remove them. He unstraddles me and steps off the bed to remove them totally as I toe-off my shoes before he reaches all the way down. It only hits me a few seconds later, as I lay there panting and impatient to have his weight above me again just how bare naked I am until I see his eyes trained on me as he removes my socks. Placing each foot on his chest as he kneels at the foot of the bed.

All of a sudden I am too conscious of myself. Too vulnerable. As he caresses my feet and then my ankles and then knees before reaching my thighs, which quiver under his blazing touch as he spreads them slowly, massaging the soft insides making it hard for me to breathe.

“Oh Draco…I have never seen a more beautiful sight.” He says huskily, his eyes finding mine full of heat and his fingers trace the V of my waist and leg joint. It is an especially sensitive area and when I least expect it, he swoops in like  hawk and licks a line across the joint only stopping before he reaches the line that joins to my penis. It’s flushed pink and swollen against my stomach and I don’t know how long I can stand this torture any longer.

My hands grab for the duvet to hold on to something, but for a while all I can feel is his warm breath over the over-sensitive skin just under my navel.

And then his weight is off of me again. Bewildered and panicking I shoot up and am relieved to see him standing just a step away from the bed undoing the buckle of his belt hastily as he toes off his socks and I can hardly stand it, so I run on instinct, as I find myself flowing down the bed to kneel in front of him just as he straightens from removing his trousers and underwear in one go.

“Oh dear Merlin Draco!” he gasps as he finds me kneeling in front of him my face aligned to the most beautiful cock I have ever seen recognizing the intent in my eyes. It seems that there will never be any misunderstanding when it comes to the physical relationship.

I admit that I have no idea how to operate here, my experience with a blowjob had been at the receiving end and that too in seventh year, when Blaise was experimenting still. I remembered crying myself to sleep afterwards for in my heart I was betraying Harry. And then the next day the resentment had come, as my mind depicted Harry having sex with Granger, since they were so conveniently incognito.

I caress his abs shaking my head out of thoughts of the past. I am inexperienced, that’s true,

 But I will be damned if that will stop me. I have imagined this too many times to go wrong with it. Waited too long. Though I admit yet again that not even my imagination had done justice to what was in front of me right now.

Harry is graciously endowed to put it modestly. And I figure that I would probably do worse if I keep thinking about technicalities. But before I can swoop in with my determination, I feel his finger skimming into my long hair in a comforting gesture and I close my eyes and dip forward, kissing the moist tip of his cock and without missing a beat as he groans above me, I lick half way down on the underside, skimming my tongue tugging at the already tightening fore-skin. I twist a hand around it experimentally to gain a most delicious moan from Harry as his fingers tighten in my hair, stimulating my scalp. My confidence surges from there on as I lavish him with thick wet licks all over. Not caring about how wanton I must look and only caring about making him moan louder and louder. It’s not long before I figure out what he likes particularly. I suck relentlessly on the tip of his cock soothing it with the flat of my tongue every now and then and slithering the tip of it just inside his slit, his salty taste is sharp and addictive in my mouth and I can’t get enough of it, rest of his length I cover and rub with my thankfully long fingers that are able to just hold it with effort due to its considerable girth.

He gasps and moans and chants my name again and again like a mantra, boosting my confidence, making me feel the power of having Harry Potter so out of sorts and loving every moment of it.

“Oh Draco! Draco! So fucking beautiful…” I look up at his face to find his eyes trained on me, his lower lip tucked almost brutally between his teeth and his face flushed to golden red. He hardly lets me suck one more time and then he is pulling me up almost violently into a kiss before I have even straightened up fully.

He devours my mouth like it’s the last taste of life he is going to get, his calloused hand taking a firm grip of my cock which has grown harder most unexpectedly during my sucking of his cock like a lollipop.

I can hardly stand as it is before he is leading me back towards on to the bed. Kissing frantically still but breaks it off once we are almost onto it.

“What do you want Draco?” he asks suddenly, his voice serious as is his expression. I am hardly coherent so it takes me a few second to really understand what he is asking. It has a rather simple answer really.

“Everything… I want everything… Give me everything Harry, there is no question really…Give, take, make, break… everything!” He kisses me. And boy are these kisses addictive. It is like exchanging pieces of one’s soul, back and forth.

In the heart of my heart, I am absolutely terrified. Not of the act itself, but of my inexperience. Yet in the heart of my heart, I know that it will be just fine.

We stumble back on to bed, this time more towards the center. His knees between mine before the push mine to open a little wider and then guiding his erect member by hand to trace over my Erect and leaking one. I grow bold and reach down to fondle his heavy firm sacks. He chuckles and groans at the same time. Before his eyes are locked with mine. We watch each other as our hands are busy downstairs. He licks his swollen lips, looking absolutely debauched and disheveled at this point. I wonder what I look like. It must be something good since he can’t take his eyes off me.

“Do you… Do you have something we can use to…?”

I am not that inexperienced.

I flick my wrist towards the night stand where I know Monk has placed some muscle soothing and relaxing massage oils which I often need after my practice sessions.

The drawer opens smoothly and a medium sized bottle flies out of it like a bullet, but Harry’s seeker reflexes are still intact it seems as he catches it effortlessly.

He leans down on top of me his face close to mine, eyes sincere and full of desire and dare I say love?

“I am going to make love to you, now would be a good time to stop me if you don’t want it...” he says his voice husky yet powerful.

“What part of ‘everything’ does your thick head not get?”

The smile that breaks on his face is like sunrise. As he closes the few inches to kiss me again.

He uncorks the bottle carefully after placing a pillow under my hips. And coats his fingers generously, I watch him keenly as he keeps shooting looks at me and then between my legs which are spread open for him, to eventually receive him and be one.

And then I am being touched with a slick finger in the most intimate place of my body. I have done this for myself many times. Excessively in my teenage years when the only way to decrease the pressure of nerves was to exhaust myself sexually into a deep sleep. But this is different. To be touched there by someone else, who is just trying to feel their way around your clenching defenses, hardly knowing what might hurt you. Which is impossible to tell of a Malfoy, who are born stoic and sarcastic. But Harry is considerate. I can see his arousal straining and red, yet he is patient with me. Coaxing the clenched pucker of muscles to give way, slowly, lovingly, as it loosens slightly on its own accord. My body trusts Harry to the point of being out of my own control. Of how I ever imagined that I would not be spread out like this for him ever in my life, is a mystery right now as nothing has ever felt more natural than my body opening so easily to receive the one, the only one it has ever desired.

It’s not long before his finger is penetrating me, slick and careful. More than me he is moaning at the tightness yet willingness of my flesh. He keeps looking up into my eyes. Reading my face for signals of pain, ecstasy, I don’t know.

His other hands starts to move towards my cock, but I stop him, to prevent myself from coming prematurely.

He eventually adds second finger and then third in the same pace. Steady, undemanding and careful. And then he rubs against that special spot inside me almost jolting me with a wave of pleasure.

“I am ready Harry… it’s enough…” I am ashamed of whining.

“Just a little more Draco… I don’t want to hurt you.” He whispers, before peppering my face with kisses and latching on to my nipple, sucking at it distractingly as I squirm as the stimulation in cover of which he adds a fourth finger. And I feel the pressure for the first time, almost on the verge of pain, but not really, I am almost used to it, when suddenly all of them gone.

I snap open my eyes harry coating himself vigorously, as his proud penis stands erect and intimidating between his impressively muscled thighs.

And then he is there in a swift moment, when I feel I am about to burst with anticipation again. His length presses against the inside of my thigh as he drags me closer with his powerful hands. I hook my arms under knees and spread myself open. I am needy now.

“Oh Fuck Draco!” he exclaims at my wantonness or my flexibility, I don’t know.

And then he is entering me. And I am most thankful for the seemingly endless preparation I received before-hand, because if he was big in my mouth and my hand, he is humungous in my arse. I have never had something so big inside me, and the stretch seems impossible, but somehow not unbearable. He slides in inch by inch, and as he gains territory, it becomes easier and easier for some strange reason.

And I realize that the muscle relaxant oil was an un-intended miracle.

“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” he whispers as he slides in almost to the hilt. Face flushed, lips raw and sweat coating most of him and me as well. His eyes darting between my face and then the point of our connection. I arch up to him for a kiss which he obliges me with.

“Are you okay?” he asks.

“Yessss! Move… Now!” I demand.

He does, and he knows slowly won’t cut it. So its swift and fast before he eases back into me, this time easier than before but not any less a tight fit.

“OH! MY FUCKING MERLIN! DRACO! You will be the death of me…”

You have no idea how much of a turn on that is for me.

“You better not die Harry! Not before you have fucking made love to me thorough and proper!” I hiss at him.

He hisses back, only I don’t understand a word of what he says.

But it’s fucking mind-blowing.

And then he is gaining momentum and speed, pulling out, plunging in, and before long I am almost too incoherent as he starts hitting my prostate on every other stroke.

It’s everything I dared not to dream of. Its ecstasy, delirium, love-making and down-right dirty fucking all wrapped in one. And I am not sure how much more of it I can take. More than the sensation it’s my name on his lips desperate and repetitive. At this moment I am sure I am the center of his universe as he has always been mine.

 And then those thoughts also drain out of me as his hand finally grabs for my neglected cock and has hardly stroked twice and I am falling over the edge. Pleasure bursting through my veins as my body jolts and clenches down, wave, after wave after wave. It goes on and on enhancing the tightness between us even more as something inside me explodes and through the white noise I hear someone yell my name as warmth fills the receptive part of me. And I understand that I have lost it all, the moment before I give in to the darkness. It is the only way to survive so much happiness.

I wake up.

I wake up for the first time in seven years. Not just come back from oblivion of my rest, but wake up from a sleep.

There is slight weight across my chest and the left side of my body is warmer and heavier than my right.

I open my eyes to look into shining emerald green ones and feel as if my heart could burst with happiness. He is there. Still. It was all real.

“Hello there…” he whispers before ducking forward and capturing my lips in a soft kiss. And I taste myself there.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

True lovers never take it slowly

When they've found the one and only

Nothing can replace this feeling

Knowing someone loves you,

It's painted with the pain and glory

Taking from a known sad story

Laying out my life before me

Fearing the unknown

Sharing never showed me much appeal

And now I'm only praying it's for real

So how does it feel?

When I hold you in my arms

And you're lying next to me

Never wanting you to leave

Until I'll tell you how it feels

To be cradled like my dreams

And to know that you love me

No more wasting time in asking other people

How does it feel?

 

The idea was to simply spend a good vacation.

Explore some choices; get away from Hermione, Molly and Andromeda's incessant urging to get on with his love-life.

To get away from sulking Ginny, who still could not get over the fact that they just did not work out all too well.

The idea was to go see Charlie. Get the taste of magical life on the wild side.

And of course. To find if there was anything more to all the flirting Charlie had imposed upon him when he had been home from Romania over on Christmas six months ago.

An idea had taken hold inside his mind. Since Hermione had not so subtly pointed towards it at the same Christmas gathering.

Charlie was awe inspiring with his rugged good looks, absolutely terrific sense of humor and over all Happy presence. Harry wanted some of that shine. And in a few vague and innuendo embedded conversations, a few too friendly caresses and a one mock and not so mock kiss under the mistletoe Harry had felt a sparkle. Maybe Hermione was right. Maybe Harry was gay. It would certainly explain a lot.

It was only that before Charlie had started to really lay it on thick, and Hermione's pointing and pushing, the thought had not even crossed Harry's mind. And if Harry recalled right, Charlie had been going this way with him for quite a while.

Well better late than never. Harry told himself as he packed for a month long vacation in Romania. In his owls Charlie was absolutely ecstatic, and even more ecstatic that he was coming alone.

The first few days were spent mainly exploring the sanctuary and getting to know the dragons. Next few days were spent sigh seeing and flirting some more. On the tenth day Charlie snogged the hell out of Harry behind the supply shed. It was fast and hard and a little daunting, but Harry took it in stride. Embracing the differences between a man's hardness and woman's softness. He found that Charlie different, yet not all the more exciting that Ginny was. Yet for the sake of exploration Harry decided to go full circle.

But he did not want to repeat what happened with Ginny, with Charlie too, so they discussed it, man to man. And apparently Charlie was mature enough to understand where Harry was coming from and they also decided that no one would know what happened between them in Romania in case it does not work out.

On the fifteenth night. Charlie took Harry out on a date in Bucharest the biggest and the capital of Romania which was also home to one of the most ancient continued wizarding communities in the world since Bucharest was itself an ancient city. After a nice dinner of local delicacies in a traditional restaurant, Charlie took Harry to a muggle hotel he had booked for the special occasion as privacy at the reserve was something of a problem.

It started passionately enough, with lots of kissing and slow undressing. All of which Harry enjoyed. It made him feel loved and cherished even if it was all just physical. Harry self-admittedly had confessed in front of Hermione and Ron both that he preferred fore-play to sex.

So after a long and winded foreplay which went on for almost two hours, of almost fingering Charlie the way he taught Harry into begging him for proper penetration, Charlie finally coaxed Harry to do it. It was tight, and strange, but not unpleasant Harry found as he pounded into Charlie upon request and for once Harry though it was going to happen for him. Finally he was going to reach the ultimate apex while joined with his lover. So he went on, changing angles that made a grown and strong man like Charlie whimper and scream with pleasure under him, he could almost feel it, just beyond a few more thrusts, Charlie's golden and perspiring skin spread in front of him. A thing of genuine beauty. And then Charlie was tightening against him in spasms just as he spilled himself into his orgasm and on to the bed, screaming Harry's name and cursing and Harry knew he was about to tip over, so he pounded faster and deeper trying to escape from the strange anger and sadness that always spread in his chest as he reached this close to his climax preventing it. It felt like the most delicious food turning into ash just as soon as you were about to swallow it to soothe your starving. And then it bloomed in his chest. The pain and sadness and desolation, frustration and exhaustion it came in such a harsh wave that Harry could hardly breathe.

Something inside of him made him pull out of Charlie's tight hole almost violently as bile rose in his throat. Penis still painfully engorged and aroused he ran into the bathroom to retch into the toilet, but despite his full stomach nothing came out of his mouth. What did come out were tears of frustration and anger from his eyes. He felt like murdering Charlie all of a sudden. As if he hated Charlie more than he even hated Voldemort. He got away from the toilet and banged the door close just before he saw Charlie make way towards the bathroom all worry and concern written on his face.

It took him thirty minutes to not feel murderous towards Charlie. It took a lot of logical rationalization. Thinking about all the kindness Charlie had shown him during his vacation. How much Harry owed Charlie and the Weasley family. How he could not find logic for this anger and betrayal etched deep in his chest like a blade carved rune in his very flesh. How he had himself come here to explore his sexuality with Charlie.

It took him almost an hour to wank himself raw in the bath before his erection subsided. The sting of soap on his prick had felt like ample punishment, for what? He did not know. By the time he had finally come out of the bathroom, Charlie had dozed off on the floor leaning against the wardrobe waiting for Harry to come out. The guilt was like a living thing inside Harry. So he woke Charlie up with sweet apologies and warm friendly embraces, which Charlie was kind enough to return and not feel offended at all. Charlie was truly a gem. Just not made to fit in Harry's crown.

After fifteen minute of cuddling in bed with his now strictly friend Charlie Weasley, Harry finally dozed off. In his dreams he saw a battered and bruised Draco Malfoy curled into himself with a book with a familiar cover on a straw mat, shivering uncontrollably and whimpering deep in his sleep. Face streaked with dirt and tears and Hair shaved closed to his head. In his dream Harry without thinking curled protectively around the miserable and bruised body which stopped shivering after a few minutes, warming up against him and just before Harry closed his eyes again he heard Draco sigh once as he whispered in his dream within Harry's dream.

"Harry?"


 

It's not like I am delusional.

It's not that I don't know that I have fallen for perhaps one of the most difficult people in the world.

It's not that I don't realize how many holes there are yet to be filled, how many honest conversations to be had before I can even start dreaming of making this last as long as it will.

It's just that, in face of the most beautifully vulnerable and proud Draco, I don't care if nothing makes sense.

He makes sense to me. Touching him, feeling him, loving him makes sense to me, though, if I think about it, it doesn't really.

Yet it is that sense of rightness that makes me ignore everything else.

As he rests in my arms, eyes closed even before his and mine breathing calms down. A smile on those lips. Serene, unperturbed, blissful. A tear about to spill against the corner of his closed eyes, just sitting there on the edge of the long golden eyelashes. I kiss it away. Absorb it. It is ours, this happiness. It is real. A product of our union. He sighs softly and I can almost see him fall deeper into the sweet oblivion of sleep. It is like a dejavu, like I have seen all of this before, yet in an absolutely opposite way. It is there but isn't. Not corporeal or genuine.

He is genuine and real though. Even if there are many lies, in this he is true. I can feel it in my soul.

And it is that what matters in the end, isn't it?

The silence in the room is filled with his deepening breath and it is perhaps the most beautiful sound in the world.

I languish in it. My body is more relaxed than I have ever remembered it to be. Humming with serene satiation. The soft golden light is soothing. I press my eyes close but I am too wide awake in my body to actually go to sleep. Too happy, too excited. There are so many possibilities in my mind running amok and I can't even hold on to one single thought for a single second. Its madness. So I automatically switch to basic stuff.

Like,

I just made love to Draco Malfoy.

And for the first time I reached an orgasm the way it is supposed to be reached.

Inside him.

Tonight has been full of miracles.

In fact. Too many of them.

Restless again, I turn to look at his sleeping face again.

Unable to prevent myself from touching and disturbing him I slowly push his still sweat damp hair away from the moist skin of his forehead and neck. Strand after strand, finger barely touching the skin.

The silver of his hair gleams in the mix of the silver of the moon light and golden of the lumos lamps.

Could this be any more perfect?

Could this be any more miraculous?

Hungrily my eyes follow the flickers of passing clouds over the moon and slight fluctuation of the lumos lamps glowing on the exposed and pale skin of his chest. Vowing to learn by heart every pore of the flawlessly ivory skin, every sensory nerve ending, every nook and cranny.

He is hairless and smooth all the way until the bottom of his navel. Where there is a slight dusting of pale golden hair that leads down to the mysteriously and cleanly trimmed yet a denser patch of golden pubic hair.

I snort inwardly.

That is something so extremely poncey Malfoy! Or rather aristocratic maybe. I don't know. That is something I would never imagine on my own, but can totally see old Draco doing. Trimming his pubic hair because he can't stand single strand out of place. It's hilarious.

And absolutely adorable.

And I think I like it. A little too much.

As if sensing my stone breaking obsessive and probably salivating stare on his groin, he shifts slightly in his sleep turning more into me as if seeking my body warmth as his toes rub absently against my ankle as his legs tangle further with mine.

The changed angle in light makes his chest more visible and less glowing and I see them

Scars. Quite a few of them. Spread all over and varying is sizes.

A particularly long one that starts from his clavicle bone and follows the whole way down to his navel. I realize it's in the shape of a long thin lightning bolt and with the realization comes the revelation that perhaps it is the scar I gave him all those years ago.

How careless and impulsive with magic I had been on that occasion and Draco had been suffering and had suffered even more. Draco was perhaps the very first person I had punished more than he deserved.

My heart clenches at the thought. At the blood and the pain he must have endured just because I was stupid. No, not stupid. I was angry at him. I intended to hurt him. I could have easily disarmed him when I had startled him in the first place. But I was seething with anger and righteousness and I had wanted to fight. To hurt. He had cast an unforgivable as well. But it had missed somehow. I remember Snape's silent fury directed at me before he softly cradled bleeding and twitching Draco in his arms and started chanting something. Healing him. Calling back the spilt blood. It was one of the most extraordinary piece of magic I remember witnessing. It was almost a year after Snape's death and Draco's disappearance that it was revealed to the world, just how important Draco Malfoy was to Severus Snape when everything worth anything was passed on to Draco in Snape's will. Including an extensive pile of Snape's personal journals, that still won't come off the shelf in his spinner's end bedroom. Bill had tried for days. I wonder if Draco knows about it at all. If he got that appointment with the portrait.

I remember how Snape's silence and fury both remained intact after the incident in the lavatory until the fateful end of the year, and the silence was even more unnerving and almost made me wish that he insulted and degraded me for my stupidity and recklessness. I was very sorry until the day at the astrology tower. After that I was just numb. Too over-whelmed to make any proper judgments. Until the time when Draco refused to recognize me in this same house after being captured by snatchers, when he clearly knew it was me. How I had snatched his wand, how it complied to me so easily, almost second best to my own, its loyalty unquestionable. Another mystery, another question. Only confirmation of a bigger plan than the one seemingly on the surface. This boy, beautiful boy, I hated and almost killed and then saved and then…lost.

And here I am. Tangled so intimately with the same boy.

And I can't even imagine how I could ever hate him so. Or never notice the loss that I felt deep inside me when he was not around for seven years.

Because I am not foolish enough to think that what I feel for Draco right now is recent. It doesn't feel recent. Its more than skin deep and more than weeks old.

His words echo in my mind again.

"You see, you don't get the fact, that it has always been the other way around. I have always been the one at you mercy. What you feel for me is not a fraction of what I feel for you in return, In this I am certain. You have been center of my universe for so long that I have not developed a sensation for anything else other than you in the first place. Seven years in forgotten exile, and yet I dreamt of you every single time I closed my eyes…"

Could he really mean that? Or was it something he just said. Along the way.

No the haunted look in his eyes could not be pretend, or something you conjure just along the way.

I press my lips just above his lips. Feeling his breath tickle them. I am going to make it all up to him somehow. I am going to cherish him. I will not let go. And I will discover all mysteries imprisoned inside the strong and lean chest peppered with scars. I will learn all the stories associated with each and everyone of those scars.

I place a small kiss on his forehead before lying back down. Falling into deep relaxation. Eyes closed, breathing deep.

I don't know how much time passes, with my face tucked on his pillow and my arm draped across him, but I am alert the moment he stirs. And then most brilliant eyes are staring at me. Widened in disbelief and then… joy.

Something unknots in my chest and I kiss him for it. A kiss he returns enthusiastically turning into it to give me unobstructed access to that delicious mouth which feels as if it's made just for me.

We kiss languidly for seconds? Minutes? Hours? I have no idea. It's more of a conversation than kisses. Strong pressing of open lips and fighting tongues saying, 'you are mine… all mine… and I am yours'

Soft and slow licking and tasting ones, telling of adoration and exploration. ' so sweet and soft and absolutely amazing you are and how I adore you.'

Sucking and wet ones, telling of desire and want. 'I want you, need you deep inside and close enough to make it difficult to pull apart.'

I have never been kissed this way in my entire existence. It's not just that I and he are so perfectly and wonderfully physically compatible. Strong bodies made to entwine around each other. To take it hard and fast and slow and languid.

There is also a magical connection. Which keeps surprising me every time it acts up, it feels like I would keel over with sheer pleasure. A real sense of belonging. The kind of pleasure you get at times by pulling your own hair when you are extremely tired. Only multiply that by a hundred times.

I have never felt such connection with anyone or such magical… stimulation. It's like a power boost that is not just magical but soul-deep as well. But all such thoughts leave my mind when he straddles atop me and in a swift swoop takes me into his tight wanton heat again.

Almost an hour later he is sprawled all on top of me like a lazy cat. Kissing and rubbing against me, it hardly hides his true physical strength that he can move so easily to his heart's content within the hard press of hold that I have him in. I can hardly restrain him and he me and we both are aware of it. Yet none feel the need to do it. Just squeeze together and move in the languorous olden dance of passion. A strange synchronized revolving of two universes, coming together without the destruction and mayhem.

The poetry my brain is spewing is a shock, when I gather wits for only a split second. So it is true, this is how poetry is inspired. If a dull creature like the butch auror and helpless awkward gawky and extremely over-rated idiot that I am can be so creative, I can only imagine the kind of thoughts Draco's aristocratic, sharp and superior intellect would be producing.

But that relies on the fact that he is feeling the exact same way that I am right now as he frotts against me in a maddeningly slow pace. Our vigorously worked flesh is too sensitive yet still wanting and I wonder if we are ever going to be satiated. I wonder if it is the poetry of his thoughts that is slowing him down too.

What I would not give to hear what he is thinking.

And then he is breaking the kiss. And looking deep into my eyes again. A meaningful look, a plead almost. And I wonder if he read my thoughts somehow.

I want him to say something to me. Though his expression and the heat and the magic says a lot. I still wish he would say something to me. I would if I was any good with words.

I am ready for him. Ready to do anything and go anyway to explore and exploit this connection between us to its limited or infinite capacity we are yet to find. I am already throbbing with need and friction just as he is. From there it is a jumble of sensations and responses. There is a desperation to him, the way he clings to me feels for my skin with his hands and lips. The way he inhales me. I can hardly catch purchase still too breathless by the desperate kisses and then I lose track altogether, reaching climax for the fourth time in so few hours. It is still nothing short of mind shattering.

As I come back from the high, he is almost collapsed on top of me, yet still holding on to me. His grip not harsh but secure.

"Say something.." I know the moment the request leaves my mouth that it is going to snorted at.

"No…" he says flatly and snuggles deeper into my side kissing the side of my neck.

"And?... Keep going.." I tease, trying to sound stupid and expectant. I know he would find it irresistible to make fun of me and my Gryffindor sentimentality and would fulfill my desire to hear his sleep-addled, husky and ragged voice. Evidence to my ears of how we have worn each other out. For now. It's a trick any and every Slytherin would fall for.

"No Harry, I said No, to saying something for the sake of saying something, its very teenage love-struck cliché." As if him lying half naked almost on top of me cuddling isn't.

"Mhmmm, how would you know? Have you been there?" I ask, dreading the answer somewhat.

"I have been to many places that I never wished I had been to, and many places I haven't been to which I wish I did…" there is sad note in there somewhere, but the sudden possessive tightness of the arm on my waist seems almost involuntary. I press back. I am a Gryffindor, I am curious but I am sentimental too. And if my lover wants to squeeze me into a choke-hold, I would allow him.

Him…

That's a strange but very thrilling word to refer to the one in my arms.

"That's very Mid-life strife cliché." I finally say, turning from my back to my side and holding him closer yet with my free arm around his shoulder. His skin still moist and soft hair, long and tangled stuck to the side of his neck and the side of his face, lips swollen and darkened with all the vigorous activity they received just minutes ago. Something curls deep within me at the vision that he is and I know that if allowed I would devour him again and again and again.

"Is it? Well, you can't blame me, I certainly feel like a mid-life strife after… That…you are extremely demanding… what is it that they say? Randy like a teenager?" he says finally opening just one eye to look at me sardonically. How he manages to look sarcastic with one eye closed is beyond me. All I know is that I absolutely adore it.

"So you are a tired out middle aged man and I am a randy teenager… how will we ever survive?" I ask, unable to keep my hand from travelling to intimate nooks and crannies.

"On kisses…" he sighs, his eyes now open and shining like diamonds in the low lighted room and what I see in them takes my breath away. And without realizing I am closing the distance between us and so is he and we are joined again in a tangle of limbs and fingers and lips and tongues as he climbs atop me again, which seems to be his favorite position. I think he intends to sleep there. Right on top of me. naked and pasted, under pretense of kissing of course.

Suddenly he stills over me and goes extremely rigid, breaking off the languid possessive kiss with a smack.

"Draco?"

A few seconds pass in this manner of absolute stillness and Draco suddenly flinches, his knees tightening around my waist for a split second before he jumps off of me in a gracefully urgent leap. All exhaustion and tiredness gone from his limbs. His previously drooping eyes alert like a hunting tiger's.

I watch him in shock for a few more seconds as he conjures black silk trousers out of thin air. Dread fills my heart. Is this it yet? The walk of shame part? The sneering, making fun part? The heart-breaking part. I thought it would last longer than this.

He doesn't turn towards me and glides towards the south-side window.

He peers outside cautiously through the curtains that are half open, before he turns back and is rushing to the other corner of the room towards the wardrobe.

"Someone just tried to breach my wards with considerable force." He says, looking at me with a blank expression. I can't help the deep breath I take. Too conflicted all of a sudden with relief and worry all at once.

We are under attack, I realize.

Malfoy's wards are impenetrable. And that is before you even consider the blood wards which must have indicated the attempt to him and also the intention.

That pushes me into instant action as I leap off the bed, catching the trousers he throws at me mid-air.

I summon my wand just as I tighten the drawstring around my waist. It is the only piece of voluntary wandless magic that I have learned. I have hardly transformed my dress shoes into combat boots when a silver glint in the peripheral catches my attention and I see Draco wielding an impressive katana as he slices it through the air. He is by the window again. So it's not really that I am bad at catching movement, it is just that he is exceptionally good at moving undetected and silent. He is extraordinarily stealthy.

That makes me feel a little better. And a little more exasperated too.

I catch him muttering something under his breath as he slashes the glittering silver squared blade in an intricate pattern. Just his ease and skill with it is enough to make my neck feel hot.

'Now is not the time!' I tell myself gritting teeth.

He is muttering again with eyes closed and I can feel the magic spreading in the air. It's the kind I have never encountered before. Its dark and cold with an electric taste to it. I see a shadow move away from where he stands by the window across the wall before it bullets down the wall and slips out of the door.

A dread fills me. That cannot be anything but extremely dark magic.

Shadow magic is one of the highly forbidden ones.

And Draco is a practitioner, Oh dear Merlin, the way it seems, he is a regular practitioner.

"Did you just do what I think you did?"

He turns to look at me with that blank mask he is so good at putting up.

I put my hand up in exasperated surrender. I don't want to hear it. If I don't hear it, I can't acknowledge it at a later date.

Because practitioner of dark magic or not, I will still burn for him.

We just apparently have more things to settle and talk through than I initially thought.

"Fourteen in total. Five outside the main gate, Five along the West wing garden entrance and four by the coppice." He says looking at me still in that stony and impassive way that is just too unnerving at this point.

"Are they attacking the wards individually or are they weaving the attack together?" I ask as I quickly button down my own shit silk shirt. He is still naked above waist. Standing by the window, the longest and most eerily silver katana I have ever seen still swinging in hand. The impassiveness evolves into an impressed look as if he was not expecting such a tactical question from me.

I want to take offence for such under-estimation, but he is too beautiful right now in all his silver warrior with a nifty Japanese sword glory to hold a grudge against.

"On the Main and West weaving and on the coppice individually."

"Take the location concealing ward down and I will send word to HQ for reinforcements. Hostiles have already found this place, make it easier for Auror dept. to find it, there is no point in keeping it up anyway."

And there is that look again.

"What? I am an auror Draco. My tracking skills are horrendous only and especially because my specialty is tactical warfare. If you have forgotten, I did win that rather final battle of our age and saved the world from fucking Voldemort!"

And then his face is breaking into a devious grin. As he almost leaps across the room at me and it is only because of my seeker reflexes that I don't fall back and catch him as he crashes into me. Lips finding mine like an expert archer's arrow finding a bull's-eye.

It's a savage, hot hungry and war-cry of a kiss. I am light-headed by the time it breaks.

I can feel the flat of that narrow blade across my spine as he holds on to me. Thrumming with magic. This is no ordinary weapon realize. Its inlaid with magic and is possibly a conduit. It must be as I don't see a wand on his person.

"How much time do we have? How much time till they break through the wards?" I ask him as he leans his forehead against mine inhaling me deeply again.

"Forever actually, I told you that it is impossible to break through it. And our intruders know that."

"And?"

"And they are not here to actually break into the mansion. Only to draw us out to have a conversation I am guessing." His voice is toneless.

"You know who it is… don't you?" I don't mean to say it in as much of an accusatory tone as it comes out. I was actually going for annoyed and resigned. Because there would never be enough time for all the questions to be answered.

"Yes, and it is time that you know too." His eyes are pleading with me. He does not want me to misunderstand. I kiss his forehead in reassurance. Which makes him preen a little. The adorable bastard!

"Ok, since I clearly do not know what is going on here, I am going to go out on a limb and ask you if you want the Aurors here?"

"Yes, but how long will they take?"

I look at the clock on the pedestal. Its 3'o' clock in the morning.

"Ten to fifteen minutes. The night shift force at the HQ has been extended since the Centaur incident, so we can have at least ten aurors here in that long."

"I think a ten minute conversation will be more than enough." He sighs as he finally lets me go.

I quickly summon all the feelings from earlier when we made most amazing love repeatedly and pour it into the charm. I need a particularly strong patronus to go undetected and show up at multiple locations to deliver a message.

The silver shape pours out of the tip of my wand is potent enough and I close my eyes for a few seconds as it solidifies, keeping full concentration. I open my eyes to give it the message. Only to find the alien form of a sentient, silver, smooth and horned dragon size of a small car staring at me solemnly as it hovers mid-air in front of me flapping its wings, in place of my old faithful Stag I call prongs.

I look around wand clutched heavily, to find Draco looking at the Patronus wide-eyed as well.

"Your Patronus is a Norman Silverback? Isn't it supposed to be a stag."

"It is a stag! This is not mine…"

"You just cast it! I saw you!" and he sounds almost similar to the way he used to back in school when he used to complain to whoever would listen how unfair McGonagall and Dumbledore were.

"There must be some kind of mistake…" though I am starting to feel it isn't. I deflect my wrist undoing the charm. And true as it is, the rather heavy Patronus dissipates. I have never seen such a huge in size Patronus let alone cast one.

I stare at the clear but a bit brighter air. As realization comes. The possibility that my patronus has changed is sort of frightening, because if that is the case, and the shape it has taken apparently, I know that I am royally screwed. All of sudden my relationship with Draco has become even more significant. I have seen and heard of a Patronus changing, but my prongs has always been so strong that I never thought it could change. I shoot a look at Draco a few steps away from me and see him watching me intently.

I focus on the memory of being with my parents and the one of Ron and Hermione exchanging rings, of watching Teddy taking his first steps ever toward me and I say the incantation again. I feel the light pouring out of my wand and in a few seconds Prongs is staring at me. Wholly familiar and proudly eager. I feel Draco shifting on his feet.

"Malfoy Manor is under attack. The attackers are more than a dozen in number. Alert the aurors and try the locating charm in five minutes for apparition coordinates, the location concealing ward will be down by then. Come with as much backup as you can. We can hold them off for fifteen minutes max. Follow Charlie's plan. Make haste!"

I push a little more magic into it as Prongs bounds off and then multiply into two, leaping lightning fast in two opposite directions. One to find Ron immediately and the other to Auror Headquarters.

The silence in the room is pin drop.

I look at him to find him still staring at me intently, expectantly.

"So it seems you have more than one corporeal patronus." He says finally when I don't say anything.

"Must be some kind of a mix up." I say shrugging carelessly.

I need to process the discovery before I discuss this with anyone. It is a shattering realization. Just a much more solid proof of what had been sounding in my ears, evident in my eyes, resounding in my head, beating in my heart, growing in my soul these past few days. It has only been mere hours since it all finally came together and yet I feel as if there was nothing and no meaning to me as an individual before I found myself in Draco's arms. It is a frightening aspect. One that requires to brood and brew upon. Be frightened some moreover, be exhilarated some more by. It is too fast, and too much, but it is right. I belong.

I realize I am spewing poetry again. Thank the great magician that it is only inside my head. Which on second thought, may not be the safest place for these embarrassing poetic thoughts especially in presence of Draco Malfoy. I have never been a natural at occlumency, whereas he is, I can tell by myself, even if Hermione had not verified it (which she did just a few days back conversationally), an expert, maybe even beyond that.

"I have not even seen that Normanback or whatever dragon you identified it as in reality ever." I realize my mistake. When his look turns a little sharp. I should have just let it go. He walks toward the nightstand and from somewhere in the sliver of space between the stand and the bed side, brings out the cane. The Malfoy cane he sometimes carries, unlike his father who always had it on him as it housed his wand. It now most probably carries Malfoy's wand. His wand, another point of connection and endless unanswered questions.

He walks towards me in that seductive way he does. Smooth and gliding, swift and agile, his eyes fixed on me and I swallow down a nervous lump in my throat, before I realize he is presenting the cane to me. I take it hesitantly. Not knowing the purpose of it. He pointedly looks at me and then the cane. And I look down at it. It is rude to wield someone else's wand in front of them, but the absent thrum of magic in the cane that would indicate a wand tells me that right now this is just a cane and Malfoy's wand must be somewhere in easy approach.

The ebony of the cane is polished flawlessly and the silver piercing end tip of it shines just as the head gleams, only now that I notice it, in place of the serpent head that I had seen on Lucius Malfoy's cane, there is a snarling horned dragon head.

"That is the head of a Norman Silver back, the one you … 'mistakenly' conjured as a patronus just now. It is the old Malfoy emblem mascot. Only the male has the horns. This cane originally belonged to my Grandfather Abraxus Malfoy and his grandfather before him and his grandfather before him. It is one of the numerous Goblin made heirlooms of my family, it has a magical quality of the head changing into the shape of the animal with which the wizard yielding it has the most affinity for and shares most traits with…"

He moves closer to me, his fingers hovering over mine as I trace the groves of the horned and snarling dragon head. I can feel our breaths mixing in the space between us where I hold the cold and smooth cane. His long graceful fingers stroke mine as they guide them tracing over the cool silver. When he speaks next his voice is lower and much more husky.

"…For my Grandfather, the head was a Runespoor, quite appropriate too as he was often indecisive and unpredictable with where he spewed his venom, we don't tell this to anyone, but my grandmother killed him, in vengeance of a life time of unpredictable torture." He snickers sinisterly, and a feel my breath hitching slightly at the pure sex that drips from his little display of laughing at evil. It settles like a weight in the pit of my stomach.

"My father's was a viper, treacherous and poisonous, though his was not the same cane but the one that belonged to his own grandfather. The wood and finish is a little different than this." He guides my fingers underneath his to smooth along the length of the whole glass polished cane and I can't help but think of something else he might be guiding me to stroke and glide along the length of. He looks up at me and the look in his eyes is smoldering hot and I can feel it burning paths through my veins that go from my eyes straight to my groin. Somewhere in the back of my mind I register that I am supposed to be panicking right now and not standing here being seduced under the pretense of an heirloom lecture.

" …This one changed when I claimed possession of it, my affinity to the Dragon is no surprise, I was named a Dragon after all. A Norman Silverback is majestic, secretive, resilient and possessive, devoted to its obsession which is usually its mate to a fault. And it is the only Dragon that has venomous horns… Quite deadly." He lips are inches from me now the silver fire in his eyes is swirling in its heathen dance of desire. I have never seen or felt such molten seduction.

"Why does it sound like a warning?" I whisper, feeling that a solid voice will break this moment.

"No, not a warning, a game plan." He whispers back. I want to pounce. Oh how I want to pounce at him, on him, close the few inches of distance between us and before I can do just that, he shivers stepping back a bit, his eyes closed and brows frowning.

"What is it Draco?" I ask, cloud of desire dissipating in a puff.

"I think it is time to greet our visitors." He says with an annoyed expression.

 


 

Ron's patronus, a Jack Russell Terrier we fondly call fluffy in memoriam of Hagrid's three headed Cerberus, finds me at the last step of the sprawling marble stair case.

"We are on our way, following Charlie's plan."

"What is Charlie's plan?" Draco asks me as we walk towards the foyer.

"It's one of the usual tactical plans we have template outlays for. Alphard's Plan, Beatrice's Plan, Charlie's plan, D… Daniel's plan…Etcetera." I barely stop myself from blurting out Draco's plan, which I named in his honor, whereas in actuality it is an insult, because it involves retreating under duress and saving your skin when situation is impossible. I feel ashamed of it and myself for the first time.

If he notices my slip, he ignores it.

"Really? I never knew Aurors had tactical plans and template outlays."

"They didn't until five years ago. When I made the first and most fundamental of them, now they are part of advanced auror training. As you see, since we are a part of MLE, and since the war has ended, they have totally dissolved the General Law enforcement department and MRD that dealt with crimes and rescue, only MMA and HW remains, all other things they assigned to the aurors, and rumor has it that we would soon also be responsible for Hit-wizards contingent. It's a constraint. It's like Army doing the work of police, swat, rangers and spies all. We had to rally so I had to make Battle and capture tactical teams and rescue teams and general law enforcement teams."

"Duly impressed Auror Potter! So 'follow Charlie's plan' means?" he leers at me as we walk through the long gravel carriage way. Towards the cast-iron gate.

"Nothing, if you are not an Auror." I answer under my breath. I am sure I am blushing, though I don't know why.

"And if I was?" he is way too comfortable and easy in his skin for the situation we are in right now. I don't know if it is a façade, or if we really are that safe.

"Then it means shut up and follow Harry Potter's lead." I say exasperatedly.

"Ah! Then I am glad I am not an auror, as I am going to follow Draco's plan."

"Which is?"

"For Harry Potter to keep still and keep his ears open and not cross beyond this point and let Draco do all the talking."

"What?" I turn to him about to argue and realize my mistake a little too late.

"Petrificus Totallus!" he hisses and I am too close and he is too fast, surreal fast and I can feel my body going rigid like an ice slab.

"Tenebra!" he hisses, catching hold of helpless ice-slab me before I fall face down on the gravel path and lays a kiss on my temple as he drags me towards the grassy carpet of the garden before he lays me down on it carefully and bends my frigid wand hand to lay on my chest wand still clutched in it. I could punch him at this moment. A shadow a few feet above the ground looms on his side. I can see it as it is in direct line of my sight. It's cold and volatile this shadow. I would flinch away from it if I could.

"Guard him! And when he stands up himself, do not let him leave this spot!" The shadow bows in acquiesce.

He turns to me then and lays a chaste kiss on my lips. I try to show my anger and annoyance in my eyes.

"The spell will fade in time for you to signal your aurors. I recommend you don't test Tenebra's tenacity and obedience."

He then leaves the line of my sight and I can hear his feet scrunching on the moist gravel as he swiftly walks away. The shadow looms over me for a moment before it curls around me in a flimsy shallow wall of darkness.

Fucking Draco Malfoy.

"Oh! So he sends his minions! Is he too afraid to come himself?" I hear Draco's sneering drawl from a distance. It's quite far, but I can hear it like it's happening a few feet away.

"You will not disrespect Herr Minatio!" a woman hisses. From the voice and accent I can tell that she is Thirty plus and German.

So it is Minatio.

"Admittance of fear has nothing to do with disrespect. If anyone has been disrespected here, it is me. You come into my domain, and you attack my home, I do not take kindly to that kind of trespass. He could have simply owled me, he did not have to do all this. My answer will remain the same. Even if he brings a whole army of minions to my doorstep. It will just make me tick off more, the answer will remain the same."

"Then you forfeit the thing you treasure most Silbern alongside life of innocents! For Herr Minatio gets what he wants and then some."

I can suddenly feel my lips and tongue loosen from the rigid grip of the spell.

"Finite Incantantum!" I barely hiss but it does the work and my whole body loosens up immediately.

I leap up only to find the shadow wall form a rigid circle of black smoke and shadow around me. It is cold and fluid and chilling me to my marrow. As if it is holding my soul in place instead of my body. I stand fixed on the spot only able to see the back of Draco's silver head gleaming in moon light standing a few feet behind the cast-iron gate. All of a sudden, the air is fluid again around me and I realize that the utter silence and no wind despite the wetness of gravel was strange, only I had not noticed it. It was exactly like the last time I came to the manor. When it was around sunset yet there was no sound of birds or insects.

The air is natural around me now. As if some kind of bubble around me has partially dissipated. I take that as my cue. Adding another question to my list.

I point my wand up towards the sky and send the flare that will alert the aurors to move.


AN:

I am sorry for the Cliffie (not)! I promise I won't be late next week! 

Chapter Text

 

(THIS PROLOGUE IS NOT A PAST MEMORY OF AN EVENT FROM DRACO’S LIFE, BUT MY RETELLING AND REINVENTING OF THE STORY OF PEVERELL BROTHERS AND AS IT TIES IN WITH MY STORY. IT IS IMPORTANT TO THE PLOT SO DON’T MISS IT,  I HOPE YOU WILL ENJOY IT.)

“You see, the brothers Peverell were all three very powerful wizards. Antioch, Cadmus and Ignotus were young and curious. Once Ignotus came of age, the three brothers decided to travel far and wide in search of the ultimate mage, to teach them the most powerful of magics. It was a tradition in those days, a sort of rite of passage. A quest for something greater than what their world as they knew it had to offer.

The brothers decided to look for someone which is always harder to find than something, who could teach them the disciplines of old magic. The basic magic. The magic that in its present form is what a cotton handkerchief is to a whole roll of finest silk. They wanted to master the five disciplines and become Metamagicians. The ultimate unattainable goal. A magician powerful enough to control the force of nature and heal and channel earth’s own magic. In short, they were looking to become Gods.

They travelled far and wide until they traversed North far enough to hear of the Mage, who was not actually a mage but rumored to be a God belonging to the pantheon of Northern Gods, banished to earth in weak form of a mage to guard the world tree’s reflection. He went by the name of Proud Serpent and was also addressed as  Jormungandr in whispers only and he was said to be the guardian of the bridge on the never ending marsh that lead to the forest home to the tree of the world. Such terrible were his powers that he was called the incarnation of death itself by some and no one who ever ventured into his domain returned alive. 

So naturally the brothers had to go look for him. And find the mage they did. But he was no death, nor a lost banished God. He was just a very powerful wizard with lots of snakes for pet for he could speak with them and dragons and crocodiles from the marsh too. He was called ‘Vidarr’ ( with a very hard to pronounce last name which was to the effect of ‘proud serpent’) and he was the head of an ancient Magical community called ‘Fen’ ( it was the same ancient community that Salazar Slytherin’s Mother was said to be descended from as the brothers would later figure out) that was settled just beyond the forest.

Though he was a little intimidating which was enhanced by a certain communication barrier, he was the noblest mage to have ever crossed their path and only required that no harm would come to community under his protection. The three brothers made blood oaths to do no harm to the community and also offered the power of their wands in the mage’s fight against wild Goblins who kept attacking the community. The wand magic did help, as Goblins knew nothing of it and it took them by element of surprise soon the fight was over and the wild Goblins were made to flee the forest and find home somewhere far.

 Vidarr did know a thing or two about the magic the brothers were seeking. But, it came with a price. And the price is a secret to date.

They stayed with the community for three years. Learning magic. Learning the three of the five disciplines the old man did know of. He made the brothers chose one each from the three he had to offer and they made their choices according to their intentions.

Antioch the eldest chose Wizardry, as he was obsessed with offensive and defensive magic. He was the hot-tempered of the brothers. Never to back away from a fight. His vice was his thirst for excellence.

Cadmus’ choice was rather vague as he chose Thaumaturgy; he was bent on making an object that could defy the boundaries of the worlds as we knew them. He was said to be the most intelligent of the three. His intentions behind the particular choice would twist horribly later. His vice was his hunger for the impossible.

Ignotus’ chose sorcery to both elder brother’s surprise, as they thought him rather simple minded and too uncomplicated for a complicated discipline such as sorcery. His vice was his desire for simplicity.

At the end of the three years. When each brother had completed their education of their respective disciplines, they all made way back towards South. In coming few years the brother’s split up before making their respective deathly hallows, sealing a part of their magic in each of the objects.

Antioch prior to being a student of Vidarr, was training in the art of wand making. So naturally he made the Elder wand, and its power corrupted him so, because wizardry in its true form was a cruel art and asks for fight and blood constantly. Driven mad by his pride and power induced delirium he murdered his way through the continent. Before he was murdered in his sleep. Before that the extraordinary wizard that he was, he modified it so, that it would only respond fully to his blood kin. The wand changed hand after hand, giving much, but taking more from each hand. Until it made to the hand of the last known owner as we all know him, Albus Dumbledore. Who won it from Gellert Grindlewald. Did you not ever wonder why Gellert lost the duel even with the mastery of Elder wand on his side? It is because Dumbledore was blood kin, A direct pure-blood descendant of not Ignotus Peverell as he is often mistook to be, but of Cadmus Peverell.

All the while that Antioch was unleashing his elder wand across the continent. Cadmus was joining his previous love for potions and alchemy with his latest acquired mastery in Thaumaturgy. The combination was explosive. During one of such explosions unfortunately his heavily pregnant wife ( who was also Vidar’s niece, they had fallen in love whilst Cadmus was learning the discipline and had married.) was hurt and died during forced before time child-birth. Leaving a little boy and an insane with grief and guilt Cadmus Peverell behind.

Cadmus handed the child over to the kind and simple-minded, newly wed Ignotus and his bride who raised the boy as their own and named him Iovis, like the Northern sky constellation in honor of his deceased mother.( hence the common misconception regarding the ancestry of Dumbledores) while Cadmus went seeking Vidar’s help to bring back his wife from the dead. Cadmus though got lost in the forest and came across Vidar’s twin brother Gunnar, who was as dark a wizard as they came.  Since the brothers were identical, Cadmus mistook Gunnar for Vidar and told him the tale of his wife and Gunnar’s daughter’s death in child birth due to a magical accident. Gunnar in turn lured him under false pretenses into the forbidden arts, which Cadmus failed to master brilliantly. Making Gunnar curse Cadmus to have a soul binder and keeper every seven generations and forever be persecuted by their peers hence in the name of it.

Cadmus returned unsuccessful. His family forced him to marry again, but in his heart his true love remained to be his first wife. He had learnt something of the dark arts that Gunnar had forced him to practice. An idea took root in his mind which then made him create the resurrection stone. But his first wife’s body was too decomposed to contain life anymore. An oversight if there ever was, and as legend goes Cadmus killed himself in madness and grief. Leaving behind yet another wife and infant son. Who the Malfoys on one side descend from. The Gaunts on one side, Dumbledores and Crouches descended from Iovis who’d inherited the gift of Parseltongue from his Grandfather the darkest wizard of his age Gunnar who was slain in a cosmic fight by his twin brother Vidarr, who also died succumbing to his own wounds shortly after. While on the other side, Gaunts were the direct descendants of Salazar Slytherin.

Ignotus lived a happy life and did not make the Invisibility cloak until he was nearing fifty. He had a bucket load of children and had also raised Antioch’s two children (son and daughter, Arcturus and Lyra) and also Cadmus’ oldest Iovis and his own seven children. From whom descend many of the present pure-blood families. During the fifth Goblin war Ignotus came up to the idea of making an invisibility cloak that would help him spy on the Goblins and protect the community of Godric’s Hollow. He dodged certain death many times and his ventures behind enemy lines made the wizards win the war against the Goblins and gain back the possession of Gryffindor’s sword too. Which was then placed in Hogwarts hidden in Gryffindor’s hat, to be summoned by a true, brave heart in need of it most.

Ignotus lived to be a happy old man. But did not transfer his art of sorcery to any of his descendants, taking heed of the way his brothers met their ends. The only regret he ever had which remained a lost secret for a long time even after his death was something he created out of sadness of never ever being able see his ruined dead brothers he loved with all his heart again. He was tormented by their constant skewered images in their children’s faces and mannerisms and natures. He constantly looked for them in their children, but it was never enough. It was not them, not Brave, rowdy yet protective Slytherin Antioch was, Or cool-minded, subtle yet deeply passionate and caring Ravenclaw that Cadmus was.

He wished to see his brothers as they once were, happy and shining and golden in their curiosities and unity. And so his sorcery out of sheer desire created a mirror, a Mirror that reflected deepest most desperate desires of the one who looked into it. But it was an evil lure. And Ignotus of pure heart, realized it for what it was. He could not bring himself to break it as every time he faced it he would see the beautiful faces of his unpolluted brothers.

 So Ignotus hid what was already a secret in a dark place, forgotten for centuries, until a pair of young wizards, just as curious and unpolluted as Ignotus and his brothers once were, stumbled upon it by accident in the still intact basement of Peverell Manor ruins, one fateful summer, when one look into the mirror world lead them both to make decisions that would change the world around them into what it is today. Gellert the proud and beautiful saw himself with his arms around the world. And Albus the sensitive and passionate saw himself with his arms around Gellert.


 

Jo ulfat mein har ek sitam hai gawara

Yeh sab kuch hai paas-e-wafa tum se warna

Satate ho din raat jiss tarha mujh ko

Kissi ghair ko youn sata kar to dekho

 

(In love, i have born every wound you inflicted

All this is in honor of my devotion to you..Otherwise..

The way you torment me relentlessly day and night..

Try and teasing another and see them walkaway…)

 

(Chapter starts here)

At this moment, I could really give in to my cannibalistic tendencies and tear through the fourteen causes of this most inconvenient interruption to what might be the best night of my life.

But i have already shown too much tonight. Things that can easily become the doom of our still rather tender relationship, if I dare call it that. Things that I have not explained yet which would need explanation.

The red flair lights the night sky smoky with mist that is so characteristic of my homeland.

The woman, facing me flinches at the red light behind me. Her glassy eyes turn alert for the first time during this encounter. So even for a wizard like Minatio, spreading his magic thin enough to control fourteen underlings is too much. Anyone can see desperation in such a ridiculous attack. He knows how able I am to protect myself on my own turf, in my own home, behind my ancient family blood wards, even if you ignore the extra magical abilities that I have gained over the years.

No, it does not add up at all. Despite the large number of attackers, it feels,

Firstly, a lure. He intended for me to see this stretching of his power and failing in keeping it intact for a long enough duration to pass my sight, as a vulnerability on his part. So that I will be lulled into confidence and a false sense of security.

Secondly, a decoy. He has a more covert mission. A different target and he just wants to hood-wink both me and Auror-department. And the only thing that the auror department and I have in common is…

Harry Potter.

The first pop of apparition and throwing of a hex has me turning on my heels and running back towards where I left Harry in the grass.  He is still being hindered by Tenebra while he casts spell after spell to be free of her, when I get back to him. The battle-fire in his eyes is enough to make me flinch.

“Get it the fuck off of me!” he yells at me as soon he notices me approaching. The disgust on his face is too real and it feels like a kick in the gut. I catch myself in time and flick a wrist towards the swirling round of black liquid smoke, she obeys flawlessly and flows onto the grass as a shadow standing alert and tense.

As soon as he is free of his confines, a fist flies at my face. I admit that I was half expecting it. It’s fast and has enough force to dislocate my jaw, but I am faster as I dodge it and receive it in the middle of my palm, feeling a split second of smug triumph before pain and pressure flares under my ribs on the other side. It knocks the breath out of me, but is not forceful enough to knock me to the ground. Or perhaps it is and only the sudden curl of his body around mine stop me from tipping over.

I have not received a punch like that in a long time. No one in a long time has been able to out maneuver me in a physical assault. It’s typical that he would show me up like this so effortlessly. I am fast, but he is faster somehow.

It was an extremely Slytherin move on his part, and I would appreciate the intricacies of it, if my very breath was not knocked out of me. Under the ribs is one of the most painful places to receive one of Harry Potter’s hammer like punches, but I know it was deserved. I did petrify him by surprise.

Just after making love with him several times not half hour ago.

“I swear to Merlin Draco, if you ever do that again and I will not fail to break your pretty pointy nose!”

He hisses in my face eyes ablaze with anger and a somewhat fond annoyance.

So all is not lost yet.

He is letting go of me suddenly, his attention on something behind my shoulder and I suddenly remember why I had actually decided to make my way back to the punch.

“Wait! This is not what it seems Harry, it’s a decoy…”

He pauses mid stride, turning sharply at me.

“What do you mean?” he asks.

“I don’t have time to explain, we need to get to your home as soon as possible.”

“I am not abandoning my friends and colleagues here Draco!”

“No, you will not be abandoning them. They don’t have much to worry about these attackers. They are not going to do any harm, or cast any spells, they were under their Boss’s mind control. They are a decoy, for what, I guess the answer is at your home. We will have to go and see if your house is under attack.”

I am a little wary about dragging him with me to the floo, but at this point I am willing to hazard another punch. So I take his arm any way. He come easily enough, though keeps looking back towards the gate outside of which swift arrests are happening most efficiently, I am sure.

A loud pop sounds right next to the floo just as we are about to climb in to it.

“Kreacher!” Potter shouts at the old and ugly house-elf that has just arrived.

“Sorry Master… Kreacher had to find Master, Someone tried to set fire to Master’s muggle neighbor house. Home is safe and unharmed. So Kreacher had to come tell Master to ask if he can put it out. Master told Kreacher to avoid all contact or cast any elf-magic on the annoying Muggles next door.”

“YES! Yes! You can go put out the fire Kreacher! Try to save the lives of the muggle…”

“Muggles already safe, Master did not ask the same things of Winky so Winky saves the muggles, but Kreacher had to ask and Kreacher cannot stand the burnt building looking ugly next to the beautiful old home’s front yard!”

I have never seen a more exasperating creature than this Kreacher, which somehow belongs to the most exasperating wizard in the history of magic.

“Enough! You will do just as your master commanded Elf! Now go!”

The elf’s eyes widen in reverence at my commanding voice and he offers a deep bow of deference before he pops away.

I turn to look at Potter, who is staring at me as well.

“I don’t think I will ever be able to make him obey me like that…”

“Of course you won’t. Only Malfoys ever had the trick and the guts to make the Blacks heed. Which is why they made such good and successful marital matches for each other, generation after generation. The Blacks always had the tendency for imbalance and drama, Malfoys absolute control and stoicism balanced the equation. That Elf is more Black than any Black themselves even.”

“I see. So the fidelius held up, so did the wards and out of frustration they lit up my neighborhood.”

“It would seem so.”

“Brilliant!” he says bitterly.

It is around nine in the morning when the last auror leaves my estate. I see Harry standing right next to the spot in the grass where I laid him down after petrifying him a few hours earlier. The morning is misty and grey. There is no sun peeking out from behind the grey brooding clouds.

I slowly make my way towards him. Dreading the questions to come, the accusations to fly. The disappointment to flow. I harden myself for the onslaught.

“Harry?” I call his name experimentally. He flinches.

“It was just too good to be true wasn’t it?” he says still looking at the patch in the grass.

And no matter how much I harden myself, and my heart, I can’t protect myself from the stab that comes from the disappointment in his voice. What was I thinking? After all I have done? After all the sins I committed, no matter for what reasons, I have been foolish enough to think it was that easy to get past it all? Just leave it all behind like a cursed treasure locked in a chest and buried on an unknown island.

I should have walked away last night. I should not have led him on. My selfishness…

“I mean, this is supposed to be the sodding long-weekend, absolutely everyone is at leisure enjoying it at their homes, with their families. And I am always so lonely with absolutely nothing to do every single year. And I can’t wait it to end and get back to work every year. I take even break-in calls for this weekend… And for the first time that I am looking forward to it, the first time I plan to spend it with someone I feel like I actually belong with. The first time I want to sleep in and make lazy love with my lover for the rest of it, this shit storm happens!”

Oh!

Stupid stupid Draco! Lucky lucky Draco! You just have to go all death and morbidity on your own arse don’t you? I am brought out of my elatedly dancing thoughts when he kicks at the grass in frustration. 

I close the distance between us and it’s as if we are two magnets. He turns around in perfect synchrony and his arms are wrapping downwards around my hips as he buries his face in my hair and ear. I wrap myself around him too, arms tight around his waist chest pressed against his.

“Come home with me… I am not ready to be parted from you.”

He whispers into me, awakening desire that was not even fully asleep yet. And at this point I feel that it might never sleep fully as long as I am around him.

“Okay…” I say simply.


12 Grimmauld place is nothing like I remember it from my childhood. I remembered it from my childhood particularly because it was one of the ugliest and creepiest houses I had ever been to and I had been to a few in my time. Point in case ‘Spinner’s end’.  But this was worse back in the days. Old, and morbid, with vile dark poisonous colors and mounted head of house-elves for decoration.

This Grimmauld place is a carefully restored or in fact reinvented town house. There are windows that I never remember seeing, and clean and cozy colors used everywhere. The creaking black wood floors are gone, replaced with a soft dyed maple-wood floor, polished and fitted to perfection. The old scary Portraits from the entry hall are gone, replaced with clean wall papered walls, upholstered five feet high from the floor in a soft camel colored velvet, which is just a strange thing.

Who upholsters their entry halls walls five-feet high?

“It’s because of the kids…” he says noticing my confusion.

“For the kids?”

“Yes, I have four, soon to be five God children Draco. They spend time here and when they come in from the front door, they are too excited and too hyper to be careful not to hit their heads on the walls while racing down the entry hall and  pushing each other to be the first to reach the kitchen. Winky’s cookies are evil that way. So I had this done when Hugo got his head bumped on the wall when he was just two.”

I am not sure what the expression on my face is because he chuckles and looks down shyly.

I never thought I would find such a thing as this sexy. Women find such things sexy in men because of some maternal instinct or such bollocks.

But I have no idea why I find it so sexy. He and I have no chance of sharing kids. I don’t generally care about children, well, I didn’t until recently. Now I am not very sure. But still.

“I know, it’s paranoid… Maybe I am a bit over-protective, but you know… those kids are everything to me… They have kept me sane and moving for past seven years. I was in a strange depressing place after the war and I am not sure I would have made it out of that pit if it wasn’t for Teddy. He had no one but me and Andy, but the truth is, I had no one but him…”

I grab hold of him and push him into a raw passionate kiss. He responds immediately, hands finding a way under my jumper. Tongue leaping into my mouth fiercely. Tasting, claiming, sucking as he presses me against the same upholstered wall. It’s intense and arousing and all-too consuming that is before his stomach makes a loud sound. The kiss breaks. And I can’t help but laugh at his embarrassed blush.

“Winky heard tummy growl all the way in the kitchen Master, Winky insists master eat food instead of Master Malfoy’s face.”

The laughter escapes me at that as Harry’s face goes tomato red. He shoots me a murderous look which is totally ruined because of his most adorable blush and moist and swollen red lips. He grumbles something under his breath.

“Yes, Winky, Thank you, we’ll be there in a minute.”

She bows deeply before scuffling quickly in the other direction.

“As much as I dislike it, I think Winky is right, if we don’t find sustenance, we might not be able to… Continue with the face-eating.” I say trying to keep my face straight and failing at it.

“Sod Off Malfoy!” he hisses at me before he grabs my wrist and pulls me in the direction where the house-elf went. I nuzzle the hair at the nape of his neck teasingly as he determinedly walks towards destination: kitchen.

“That is not helping…” he shivers and sighs as he pauses in the doorway.

“Helping what?” I ask innocently twining my arms around his waist from behind and pressing my front against his absolutely gorgeous back.

He untangles one of my hands from the waist band of his black trouser pants, and guides it down to the bulge in front of his pants. It’s hard and warm and sets me on fire. As he slowly makes me trace it. And then he moves again and there is a door giving way behind me but he catches hold of me before I stumble and shoves me inside.

It’s a powder room apparently that is all I can tell because of the small size of it. He locks the door behind him and we are on each other again without a moment’s delay.  I might have the commanding voice to perfection, but Harry has commanding shoves down to a tee as he shoves me back and then pushes me down onto what feels like broad stool. He drops to his knees in front of me hands scrabbling for the buckle of my belt. His fingers deft and forceful.

I am too aroused, to care really, but I ask nonetheless.

“Wasn’t I supposed to be helping?”

“You are…” he says quickly before shoving open my fly and springing out my penis from the buttoned front boxer briefs I had worn not thirty minutes ago. What a genius I am. His grip is tight and almost savage around me, his eyes fixed on my face as he strokes it up and down. Skin rubbing and gliding against skin. All hair on my body stands to attention as all nerve-endings sizzle as I clench my eyes closed. And then the tip of my penis is surrounded by a moist and warm heat on one side and rubbing against a chain of smooth hard pearly teeth on the other side. I bite my lip in order to keep my screams in opening my eyes and watching, but it’s too hard and the vision he makes, his left cheek bulging obscenely as the head of my prick rubs against the soft and taut inside of his cheek.

“Uff! Harry!” I want to say more. I do, but it will take proper brain function which is impossible right now.

I untangle my legs which had somehow tangled themselves around his chest just underneath his arms and pull him up on his knees from his crouch as my length dislodges from his mouth with a pop. I push him to stand as I get down on my knees. There is hardly enough space so I am in danger of hitting my head against the vanity every time I get a little enthusiastic with my sucking, which is something I really am getting enthusiastic about for some strange reason which may range from me liking how I can make him so vulnerable and helpless with just my mouth, to, me liking the taste of his skin and how it’s the closest I get to devouring him.

Considerate soul that he is, the second time my head is about to hit the edge of the marble vanity, he cushions the edge with his hand. Even in the haze of pleasure, he pays attention. When he generally does not. If it’s possible it turns me on even more.

 But I am unable to return the favor every time he reflexively throws his head back pursing his lips to not make too much sound and his head hits the door his back is pressed against.

It’s too slow and fast at the same time, as I work my hand on myself and my mouth on him simultaneously.

It’s not long before he is pulling me up into a messy and wet kiss, his hand gripping me again as he fondles me and I him, He is hisses in protest when I disengage my mouth from his to breath properly despite it being impossible in the state he is working me into. Relentless and demanding strokes.

“Draco! He gasps, and I can tell, as little as our experience with each other has been that he is close. I push myself to stroke him faster.

“Harry…” I gasp back, dodging his lips that are seeking mine desperately. Only because I want to look at him face as he comes undone.

“Draco!!” he almost whines, trying again. It is cruel of me to deny him my lips when they belong to him.

“Harry?” we both hear and he is coming undone in my hand as I am in his. Wave after wave of pleasure hits me as he slows yet firms his hand around me, prolonging my orgasm.

“Harry!” I gasp again, it’s impossible to say anything else at this point.

“Harry?” I hear again, as I finally catch my breath, letting go of Harry’s softening member, hand wet painted with his essence. As he does mine.

We both pause.

It’s a woman’s voice. Muffled and distant, but, its unmistakable.

“Harry? Are you in there?” it’s closer now, perhaps just outside the door. Harry’s eyes are wide.

“Yea… Ginny, I’m in here, just give me a minute.” He says eyes fixed on me.

“Ron told me you had a long night, so I brought you Irish Breakfast, straight from Finni’s kitchen. Bacon and eggs and beans, your favorite, its all here. I’ll get it to the kitchen okay?”

“Yea… sure, I’ll be just a minute, freshening up.”

We both hear her walking into the kitchen.

It is as if the whole universe is against us for pacing this whole thing between us. Forcing decisions out of us, regarding things that one should take time in sorting and making decisions about.

Like,

How and when should Harry’s friends find out about our… thing.

Is it a thing at all?

What are going to be the reactions and consequences of people around him. Because there is no one around me. I am as alone as they come, with no people having any say in my decisions. If I want I can dance naked on the streets and no one will be effected by it.

Harry on the other hand has a full life. Friends, family, colleagues. I have no idea if anything regarding sexual discrimination changed in recent times. I don’t know if there will be consequences for him if he comes out. Does he want to come out? What exactly should he come out as?

But at this very moment, the question is, what he will ask me to do right now.

“Err… Why don’t you freshen up and come out in a few minutes eh? I will get settled with the breakfast in the breakfast nook. I am sure we can share between what Winky made and what Ginny brought.” He washes his hands and then splashes his face twice before grabbing a fluffy beige towel and wiping himself clean. Running his wet fingers vigorously through his hair, he turns to me again.

“I almost forgot. Do be careful with carrot-head Weasley jokes, Ginny is still the most hostile of the Weasleys and heavily pregnant, so it’s not a good combination and if she says something harsh…”

“I will put forward the other cheek, as magnanimous as I am.”

“Ye be warned!” he says quickly, smiling, as I take his place in front of the vanity but before he steps out, he gives me a sweet kiss on the cheek.

That kiss on the cheek holds more meaning for me than whatever happened between us in this powder room. The warmth in my chest grows comfortably as butterflies fly around in my gut.

I take my time. Washing my hands and face combing my hair and tucking my shirt inside my jeans and straightening out my leaf green jumper, smoothing out all kinks. I then quietly apparate to the first platform of the stairs and stump down. Announcing my coming down the stairs. And then walking towards the kitchen.

I am about to see Ginevra Weasley, probably address her too. She was a powerful witch in her own right at Hogwarts. Someone you never messed with, and she was famous for her bat-bogey-hexes and a desperate crush on Harry Potter from even before school.

She was also the one I saw Harry pinning over and later kissing in our miserable Sixth year.

I did not know what the story was there anymore. But it was well known around the wizarding world that Harry was bound to marry the Weasley girl. But it had never happened. And I don’t know why. Was it on Harry’s part where things lacked? Or was it her? Now she was married to Seamus Finnegan with a baby on the way.

I entered into the kitchen and a flash of red in the far corner by the window told me of the breakfast nook. I make my way towards it. Feeling a little out of my depth deep inside when faced with Harry Potter’s old flame, especially when I am not even sure that I am a flame too yet or just a pesky little spark. Not that I would show any of it. The way my heart assures me that I am more than a flame, doesn’t help me the way it should. That kiss between them is branded on my mind forever and the pain associated with it is still just as jagged now as it was eight years ago.

“Oh! Here he is. Here Draco, join us for an Irish/English mix breakfast.” Harry says with a warm and easy smile on his face.

“As long as there is plenty of breakfast tea…” I say smiling back very conscious of the bright blue stare at my face.

“Draco.” She says curtly as I pull a tall stool next to Harry.

“Ginevra.” I say much more politely. She is glowing this morning and seems huge in her long Maxi dress.

“It is unfortunate about the attack on the manor last night. It is good that you are staying here. It is the safest house in all of Britain.” She says a little too sharply for my liking.

“Thank you. Harry insisted I come here. I did not want to inconvenience him, but you Gryffindors are as stubborn as ever.”

“We are! And it comes out especially when a Slytherin is involved.” She says sipping her tea.

“Now now! I would appreciate it if you would follow my house rules Ginny. Draco doesn’t know them, but you do.” Harry intervened. Putting a spoon full of steaming beans in my plate.

“Yes Harry! No house rivalries… Don’t I get a pass for being pregnant?” He rolls his eyes at her with the familiarity of old friends.

I Ignore them both from there, not impolitely and not totally of course. I am too aware of the heat of Harry’s hand on my thigh rubbing comforting assuring circles for a few seconds before it leaves me cold and wanting more. The first spoon full of beans has me moaning in delight as I can actually taste it. Its sweet and tangy and salty and just rightly spiced, smooth and silky beans. For some reason I am able to taste things again. I wonder if it is because of Harry’s proximity. Whatever it is, I want to cash in this chance.

I ask for some steaming Porridge which seems to have pecans and strawberries in it. Its sweet and perfect and I realize this was the taste I missed most. I almost want to demand chocolate at this point, but I control myself, with all the Malfoy control coming into play.

“I have to say, this is the most delicious breakfast I have had in a while. Please say my regards to your husband would you?”

“You are welcome.” She smiles in a strange way.

I eat way too much than in appropriate, but then, so does Harry. While Ginny chats around things I don’t know much about and Harry responds in the right places at the right time, though he is not paying much attention I can tell. Not if the constant wandering hand on my knee under the table is anything to go by.

It is not until the polishing cup of tea as my mother called it, that it all just gets…

“So, I can’t seem to figure it out. And they said I would be able to. But I should’ve known better before making that bet. Who topped?”

I freeze mid sip and Harry snorts his out in surprise and alarm.

She does not even wait for our denial.

“I mean, I know all about Harry’s dominant streak in bed, he is a tad controlling, but that is exactly what I imagine Malfoy to be in bed, not because of his natural tendencies but because of the pure-blood Slytherin training. And it seems reinforced now and Harry also can be a total push-over at times…”

“GINNY! I don’t know what I should be more offended by. The fact that you would bet on my sex-life and discuss it on the breakfast table or the fact that you believe the dominant streak to naturally translate into topping in bed! You of all people!”

I look at him, too shocked to intervene in the bizarre conversation taking place as I wonder for as many times if I am actually dreaming.

“So?”

“So? So please leave before I get really mad Ginny. I need to catch up on my sleep any way. Come! I will apparate you.” He stands up in a swift fluid movement and Ginny follows grumbling like a petulant child, pouting and throwing dirty looks.

I don’t know how long I sit there in stunned silence staring into my tea cup and tracing the outlines of a dragon in the leaves in the bottom.

“I’ve closed the floo. So no more disturbances while we catch up on the sleep. Also, we are both invited for lunch tomorrow at Helga’s bode it would seem.” He hands me a carefully penciled note biting his lip.

“Come Draco. To bed now. After the exhaustion from last night we need rest.”

I go on auto-pilot the minute I hear those two cursed words again. My head filling with a vision from a dream, which is a mere shadow in contrast to the reality I lived in last night. I stand up and follow him obediently as we make our way out of the kitchen and up the stair case. Hand in hand.


 It was a strange sensation, waking up, but one I could get used to. A firm arm around my waist, a chest pressed against my back, strong sturdy legs tangled with mine and steady warm breaths warming the joint between my shoulder and neck.

Yes I can get used to getting up like this. How could you not get used to the most beautiful feeling in the world.

I stretch as much as I can without dislodging myself away from him.

“Nooo… Stay…” he whines in his sleep tightening his grip around me.

“I need to go to the loo…” I say feeling the nature’s call a little too much all of a sudden.

He finally lets me go with a huff. Turning away from me petulantly. I quickly make my way to the loo which is situated in an impressive en-suite bathroom complete with a sunk-in hot-tub large enough for four people to splash about in. After cleaning and freshening up a bit, I make my way back to the bedroom, to put my still huffing lover to sorts. It’s truly adorable that he is pouting in his pretend-sleep.

Its reversed position now. With me holding him around the waist. His broad muscled golden back pasted to my chest, my nose buried in his black silky and messy hair.

“Are you pouting?” I ask teasingly licking at the skin of his golden shoulder.

He shudders giving himself away.

And then he is turning in my arms to stare at me through those impossibly large green eyes shining in the little light from the afternoon that is filtering inside from the curtains.

“We have a lot to talk about.” He says after a few seconds of silent staring.

I nod in assent lying down next to him as he turns to face me and pulls the dark chocolate brown duvet on the both of us.

“And under this Duvet, there will be no lies, no judgments, no assumptions, no fights… only truth.”

I smile at the improbability of it. But, there is no other way.

“Where do I even start?”

“From the start… When you went missing…”

“But that is the middle of the story…”

“Then if you know the middle, you know the start of it too.”

“I do.” I realize, I really do know the start of this story. And the fact that I never stood a chance.

“Hmm… It was not until recently that I came to know the whole story regarding how you defeated Voldemort. They were very vague about the details, but they mentioned Deathly Hallows in there. Is that true?”

“Yes… I did come in possession of all three of them and they did help in the end, The elder wand and the cloak did.”

“So you are the last master of the elder wand… correct?” I ask him and he pales a little.

“Not anymore. I destroyed it.” He says sharply.

I smile at his defense. Its good, it should be this way.

“No Harry, you didn’t. Because only their creator can destroy them. And that creator died a long time ago, so the hallows are indestructible”

“Isn’t death itself the creator of the Hallows?”

“Of course not. That is just children’s story…No, the three Peverell brothers are the creators of the Hallows respectively. And the history of the Hallows is in places much less and much more morbid than is told.”

“As it was Antioch created a fail-safe for his elder wand when the threat grew too big, that did eventually claim his life. He modified the elder wand to serve to its full capacity only in hand and under mastery of Blood kin. Which is why Dumbledore won the wand and duel from Grindlewald all those decades ago. The wand came to Dumbledore by its own will as it recognized Dumbledore a direct descendant of not Ignotus Peverell as is often mistook, but of Cadmus Peverell. The side of the mother of Dumbledore’s ancestor is also very considerable, though that is a story for another time.”

“Cadmus created the resurrection stone, to bring back his dead wife to life after he was cursed for letting his wife die in the first place by the woman’s father who was a very dark wizard. His is the blood line that we Malfoys descend from. Cursed with only a single male descendant every generation to be bore only by blood-kin and every seventh generation cursed with a soul-binding dark-magic.”

He blinks at me once, then twice, opens his mouth to say something and then closes it. His eyes a huge green, incredulous, question mark ‘?’.

“Yes, hence the inbreeding and Plan Draco, of cowardly retreat from battle. If one Malfoy dies before reproducing, it’s done, its finished, and don’t you deny about Plan Draco, You are the worse than a baby in occlumency.” I kiss his knuckles teasingly while he sputters apologies and outrage at the same time.

“But what really concerns this particular story is, not the cowardly retreat or inbreeding. It’s the soul-binding dark magic. Which is actually a really vague name for Necromancy.”

“Necromancy? As in, white chalk and bone rattling voodoo?” he is sitting up now laughing at me. And it is hurtful and I wonder if I should have just kept up with the lies. After all I have sacrificed, this derisive laughter is worse than persecution.

So much for no judgment, assumptions. This duvet is a lie. And lies are better.

I get off the bed and move towards the window to look out at the afternoon. I can’t face him while he shakes his head out of hilarity that is the truth of my life. My curse is funny. And to think I could have walked away from it instead of embracing it to save the person who laughs at me now. Well, that is the biggest, ironic joke of them all isn’t it.

‘Keep your silence Draco. He will not be able to handle the truth. No matter what he thinks he is capable of. He is like the rest of them at some level or another and you did not do it for appreciation or acceptance, you did it to save his life, and he is here. Sharing his bed with you and offering you something that you never thought you would have. It is all as incomplete as the whole of your soul is without the piece of it lodged inside him, without acceptance. But that is a sacrifice you will have to make, because nothing comes without a prize.’

“Draco?” he calls me back. Just as I come to the realization about how badly I want to tell him the truth about every single thing, and how it is not a possibility.

“Do you mind if I open the curtains? It’s a beautiful afternoon…” I ask him fingering the tassel of the curtain that I will have to pull at to unleash the beautiful afternoon light.

“What?” he asks still a bit breathless from all the laughing he has done. I am glad I am so entertaining. I havn’t heard him laugh so much since my return. I only hope it did not come at such a high price. This laughter.

“The curtains…it’s such a beautiful afternoon...” I repeat.

“Err… Sure” he says a little hesitance in his voice now. I carefully pull the dark brown silk tassel as the curtains gather gracefully unleashing the warm light of the afternoon sun, but a small bubble of relentless cold has fixed its place in the deepest corner of my heart. And no sunlight or beaming smile would warm it.

“So you were telling me?” he asks again. I turn back now more composed and sure of myself and give him my best smile. Before I turn back towards the window streaming the sunlight again.

“Nothing of import really, I was exploring the family curse in the last 2 years once I gained back my memory. Where I met Erik Stoltorm and also had a short limited meeting with Egil Stoltorm, Erik’s twin brother, who now goes by the name of Lord Minatio. Whose minions we encountered last night. He tried to recruit me during that first meeting, but I have had it up to my nose with dark lords and world domination. So I ran.  Very far. But I have not lead him here. I am powerful in his books and would be a handy tool as he has this notion that I can for some reason free a supernatural Dragon from the world tree roots, because I helped his brother gain allegiance of the Turul, the king of falcons and the skies, which is just plain bollocks. Erik gained the allegiance of Turul by conquest and I only accidentally lead him to it. But Egil is insane and jealous, he wants me to free the Dragon, and he wants to defeat you in a duel to gain allegiance of the Elder wand, which he thinks is the only way to control the Dragon. The Dragon which is actually a myth and does not exist in reality, just like the world-tree does not exist in reality.”

The world Tree does exist in reality, and I found it, and I did help Erik win the allegiance of the Turul and the Dragon Niddhoggr does exist, and as master of the underworld I am its keeper and jailor. I am the only one who can free it and Harry is the only one who can control it. Because Harry is the master of the Elder wand, not by the right of a win though. As I am more blood kin to the wand than Harry ever was being a Half-blood and descendant only to Ignotus. I on the other hand am pure-blooded and had not actually lost my wand to Harry but had willingly given. No, Harry is the master of the Elder wand because of the piece of my soul that resides in him which willingly accepts his supremacy and hence he fulfills the criteria of blood kin and supremacy both.

But these are truths for me to know and keep. Egil has made the first move. And now, it is only I alone who stands fighting the war no one knows is lurking on their door-step. And it will remain that way, outside the door, never finding a way in, if Draco Malfoy has any say in it.

“So… that means?”

“That means, we wait and watch. He wants to lure you into a fight, but we will not give him what he wants. We avoid the fight, and if it becomes utmost important, then you let me fight on your behalf. There is no doubt he is a powerful wizard Harry, even more so than Voldemort. But he is not driven by pure evil the way Voldemort was, he just lusts for power and to prove himself better than his twin brother. We provide ultimate protection for those who can be used as bait against you. And we think a few steps ahead. This obviously will only resolve in its own time, so we keep our chicks counted. While we look for clues to finish the threat before it comes to head way on its own terms.”

He nods his head slowly as if processing everything I just said. I make my way towards the foot stool by foot of the King-size bed. I had left my clothes folded upon it earlier before going to sleep in Harry’s arms in only my briefs.

“Are you going somewhere?” he asks, voice a little worried.

“Yes, I forgot to speak with Solicitor Montague about last night’s incident. So I will go by his office to speak with him now before it is too late.” I say pulling my jumper only to see him leaping off bed.

“Then I’ll come with you.” He says about to yank open his dresser.

“There is no need Harry… I will be back very soon and also I think we both need a few hours to clear our heads and just let all the changes that happened since last night, sink in... And I don’t know about you, but at this point, even the sight of you is too tempting for me to have rational thoughts. It has been tough few weeks for me. My life has flipped upside down, and the biggest event of my life just took place last night. So… let us just take a few hours. I promise I will be back in time for Dinner... yes?”

I pray to all deities that he will just let me go and not follow. Just let me have these few hours to regroup myself before I fall apart. He worries his lip, as his green eyes shining in the afternoon light search my face. I don’t know what he is looking for so I just curl my arms around his narrow and hard waist and kiss him with all the passion I can muster. I put my promise of return in there, alongside the true depth of my feelings I may never be able to show. He kisses me back with equal fervor and it’s just as much a prayer as a kiss. And I feel the tether tightening into a choke hold.

This love is sure to kill me.


 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 19 : Keeping a Malfoy

I also possess the power of speech my love, my judge

I wish you would once ask me what is my opinion, conviction…

Oh foolish heart what is wrong with you?

What is the reason of this pain that haunts you?

 

(Main bhi munh mein zubaan rakhta hun,

Kaash pocho kay mudua'a kya hai?

Dil-e-nadaan tujhe hua kya hai?

Aakhir iss dard ki wajah kya hai?)

Ghalib.

"Harry?"

Hermoine's voice from the door snapped him out of his deep blank thoughts. He looked down at his hand still twirling the wand of his once enemy twirling in his hand as it still hummed with power and obeisance and the magic that seeped into his very chest from the palm of his hand.

"Hey Mione." Said Harry, looking up swing, swinging slightly in the cool breeze of late October. Only a week away from Halloween. Though at the Burrow the decorations were already half up.

Hermoine carefully descended the steps that lead to the small back garden from the kitchen backdoor. This garden that he had helped planted a new, alongside the countless time he had helped Ron de-gnome it.

As Hermoine neared him, he noticed her face glowing in the afternoon sun, her bushy hair like spun gold and the deep red of her jumper enhancing that glow that pregnant women always had. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman heavy with child.

He remembered Tonks glowing like that in the afternoon sun that drifted in from her parents window, the one time he had seen her before he saw her for the very last time. She had glowed the same way and Harry had found it mesmerizing, though he did not know then that she was pregnant with Teddy. That beautiful memory brought with it the memory of Remus' and Tonks' still close bodies lying side by side, on the death-field.

Hermione looked same kind of beautiful now, angelic and delicate, yet strong too. A sudden fear clenched his heart with a surge of protectiveness. He had lost every beautiful thing in his life. He would rather die before he saw any harm come to his beautiful best friend.

"It is such a beautiful afternoon; I love the nip in the air this time of the year." She sighed as she sits next to him on the wrought-iron bench. He nodded, leaning on the side to kiss her on the temple before he wrapped his arm around her shoulder making her lean against him as she put her legs up. He had learnt from Winky that pregnant women need a proper soft and warm cushion around this stage, and his best-friend and confidant won't be so comfortable against the hard bench.

She reached out to take the wand in his hand and brought it closer to her nose. Inhaling. Before she closed her eyes.

"Do you want to talk about this?" she said almost in a whisper. She knew what the significance of this wand in his hand meant.

"I am thinking of giving it back to his mother, though, I strangely don't want to part with it. I know it won't be any use to her, it obeys me now, but still. I think she should have this piece of her son at least, now that even her husband is gone."

"You aren't blaming yourself for Lucius Malfoy's death are you Harry? You do realize that it is not your fault. That it is no one's fault but his own. He made it his fate when he took that mark on his arm decades ago. I know it is a painful way to go, this Dark-Mark poisoning but, it's the way they all chose themselves."

He simply nodded at her statement.

They stayed quiet like that for a moment while Hermione relaxed against him.

"You are not going to ask Ginny to marry, are you?" she asked him still relaxed against him.

He snorted in surprise at the implication of that question, the blatant opinion in it.

"I don't have any plans to…" he said still chuckling, though curious now.

"You better not Harry, though I must warn you that she is expecting it. Don't let her corner you into it because she will."

"Thanks for the heads up, though the question rises…" but she jumped in before he could complete the sentence.

"Why I am against it? Why I don't want my best friend to marry my sister-in-law? The answer is rather simple. You don't love her, and you don't deserve to settle for less than absolutely irrevocable love and passion Harry. You need that all-consuming, all-encompassing relationship in your life, and Ginny is too self-absorbed to be that for you. She wants to be adored, and deserves to be adored, but she is too stubborn to admit even if she realizes that she is settling for less with you. So, it's good that you have no plans of marrying her. Though laying her off gently won't do much good if and when she confronts you about it. Which I can promise she will."

"She will hate me for it Hermione."

"Only until she gets over you, which she will when she takes off the rose-tinted sunglasses called Harry-Potter and actually looks around. She will find that perfect one for her and then she won't resent you any longer." Hermione said leaning back against him, watching the sun turning the clouds a fiery pink.

"Where and how am I ever going to find that irrevocable and passionate love, all-consuming, all-encompassing?" He sighed deeply, feeling as if the answer to this question was like a missing piece to a puzzle, not something, but someone. Someone who was fated to hold that place but was long lost.

"You just have to meet new people, open up yourself… it will happen. I have faith that it will happen for you Harry, though even that would take work, every relationship does... the stronger the connection the bigger the effort..."

Hope bloomed in his chest. That maybe, just maybe, there was someone like that out there for him.

It would take two years for that hope to die.

And in the third year, when he least expected it, it came strutting down the aisle. Like it owned the place. And it did.


It takes me a little more than twelve hours to screw things up.

I mean you would expect me to be that little watchful, just a little, which would include, analyzing things before they come out of my mouth. But no, if it's not the stupidest mistake that would lead one to lose perhaps the most important thing in one's life, it's not Harry Potter. I mean, it resulted in the death of my parents just because I deigned to born in the week I was born in.

So, I sit in front of the fireplace. Waiting.

Cursed with rewinding the whole thing again in my head, to check if I really screwed up, where I think I screwed up.

Even if it kills me to see that dead smile again on Draco's face every time I ponder back. It is just there and it feels worse now than the times I induced it before.

But, he did not even fight back. I mean, one should fight back even if it is the most impossible ridiculous thing in the world you believe in.

Hermione fought for SPEW. As ridiculous as it was in the beginning. And as much animosity those she was fighting for in the first place showed her. She did not give a dead smile and just change subject because that was the easy way out. How was it the easy way out if it were making you feel dead and hurt inside.

That smile alone does more damage than him being gone for past… I check the clock again,

Three hours and ten minutes.

Oh good! This is the longest gap in my checking of the time.

Only because the last time I looked, I didn't look away for the next five minutes.

He said 'a few hours'. How many does 'a few hours' mean? For me it is somewhere between two and five.

Surely he is not going to be away for five hours.

He has been away for seven years.

And how many times did I check the clock then? Or the calendar?

How many times did I think of him after those first few months?

I still don't think I believe most of his story regarding those missing years.

And now he comes back and suddenly it is as if I am unable to breathe when he is not around.

I wonder for the umpteenth time if I am under some kind of spell.

No, his perfection is not a spell.

His passion that goaded mine was not a spell.

The peace and light on his face could never come from anything less than perfectly perfect which we are every time he is in my arms, our bodies joined.

Just the thought of it sends a longing shiver through my body.

I don't know if it is a chemical reaction of unsatisfactory sex for most of my adult life so far.

Or if it is entirely something else…

All I know is, there is no chance that I will ever find anyone like Draco.

He feels like the missing piece. All I know is before this morning, an oppressive emptiness filled me, which I did not even know of.

And all of that exists between us alongside all the… other things,

Which are,

The fact that I still don't trust everything that comes out of his mouth. I know my intuition never lies. He is hiding, hording secrets. Essential secrets.

The fact that he does not trust me yet with those secret. He definitely isn't giving me much chance to dig them out, or face the ones that involve me too. Because I know some of them do, if what happened last night was any indication.
I do realize that I had been somewhat careless this afternoon, which is where I screwed up. There is not just lover in me that recognizes this mistake but also the Auror.

I have not forgotten his roles in the years of the war. But, I am realizing now that Draco has always been more than knee deep.

No, he is quite a deep pool, and I have no practice at swimming it.

So, I can't afford to be careless with this.

Desires and feelings aside, my intuition, which I have been ignoring in case of Draco, is still blinking dangerous red. Alright, not red, but sort of orange.

There are already dangers looming over the horizon and last night was just a scouting mission.

Draco might think that he has everything under control.

But I will never rely on his intelligence in this matter.

Just like Gryffindors have their abilities and constraints, so do Slytherins.

Gryffindors usually are tactless and come with too much emotion. Unable to unemploy their hearts from situations.

Slytherins tend to calculate too much, and become highly predictable and a lot short-sighted.

They always tend to overlook sentiment in their opponents, sentiment which is always the one thing that can lead anyone to become an unpredictable anomaly. Thus comes the Slytherin's fall. That is exactly why Draco usually failed to catch the snitch. That is why Voldemort was defeated. That is why I remain the sole survivor. I always did carry qualities of both Gryffindor and Slytherin.

Three hours twenty minutes…

And just like that rational thinking and calculating Auror is gone, replaced with worrying and terrified old cupboard under the stairs Harry.

Both of me's realize that what I really really need is… Time!

Time with Draco, time to reacquaint myself with him. Time to understand and discover him again. Time to develop a mutual understanding and trusting relationship. Time to unravel those small quirks and big peeves. Time that everyone normally gets and takes in building a relationship.

Everyone that is NOT Harry Potter.

No, the only time I get is spent, sitting here, staring at the blood mantelpiece clock and worrying.

I have already dispatched my Auror report for last night. I have already reviewed other reports. I have read the scripts of the interrogation of the five people they were able to capture. I have also filed in the report of the Muggle houses being attacked in my neighborhood. Though I have put in as a rather minor incident instigated by street hooligans, than what it actually was. The last thing I want is a detail trailing me.

I have been almost tempted, twice so far to. Especially after the events of last night. The way Ron had looked at me when I told him that Draco was coming home with me. So I Floo-called Ron and Hermione who had just returned from their Lake-picnic they do on this day every year. Ron looked exhausted and Hermione and kids almost asleep on their feet, so it was thankfully short. With a certain look from Hermione in the end which said 'We are going to talk about this Harry… In detail.'

The Lake-picnic is such a unique family ritual Ron and Hermione do every year. Even when it was just the two of them. Hermione, being Hermione would do her research and find a Lake in Britain, which had sun shining on it that particular day, and they would have an all day picnic. I think it became a ritual when Ron proposed Hermione on their very first Lake picnic, while we were helping out with Hogwarts' reconstruction. And they kept up with tradition every single year, and every single year just like the ritual, they would ask me to tag along, which every single year I would refuse. Knowing the significance of the day for the both of them.

That is what I hoped to have in my life one day. That strong a relationship, with its designated days and rituals. But it was something that always felt like a dream, and something I was afraid would remain a dream for the rest of my life, because I felt myself incapable of loving the way my two best friends loved each other.

And all of a sudden, Draco is in my arms, and a few of the things I never thought were going to happen for me, happen in a matter of twelve hours. Is that enough time to feel the way I am feeling about him?

The buzzing questions in my head make me feel a little queasy in the stomach. So I stand unable to sit anymore.

The smell wafting from the kitchen tells me that Winky is preparing a feast. Probably too happy to have Draco around for some reason. I know Kreacher is, he is unable to stop beaming at me like I have done something he is very proud of. It must be to the effect that I have brought back the true deserving heir to the Black home finally. It is sort of endearing and unnerving at the same time.

If only I had not royally screwed the way I did.

Because I know what that dead smile meant. I knew it in my bones the moment I saw it for the first time and I knew it in my soul the last time I saw it. It meant I'd done or said something extremely hurtful to him that has hit him on a deep enough level to shatter him inside. I hate that smile with a passion. And if I can just get a chance to fix it, I would. I would make sure that smile would never grace those wonderful lips and those precious eyes again.

Oh please God, just have him return to me safely. I will fix this sodding fiasco. I will hear him out with absolutely riveted attention even if he is talks about things such as gigliospectres, and agrees with all magical creatures Luna has ever taken name of. I would embrace it all, with a straight face and a solemnly nod and be a testament to its absolute importance. I will.

I don't even know what he has been through in all the years he has been away. I don't even know what kind of life he had to see. I don't know. And the first time he tries to tell me, I laugh at him. I am sure he was extremely serious about… Necromancy.

Masochist that I am, the first thing I did after I realized the screw up, minutes after he left, was running down to the library and putting the memory in the old faithful Pensieve. I know Hermione would disapprove if she knew, but I had to do it, to make sure of it. And make sure I did.

How could I fail to notice the vulnerability in his face and frame as he had started to tell me the story? How could I ignore it after I claimed the place under the duvet so sacred. No judgments, no assumptions… those were my own rules.

And if I was tempted to also preserve the memory of our first love-making session and make a keep-sake of it, well, let us just blame it on the sentimentality that was triggered by the chemical imbalance only wonderful kind of sex can induce, as I am finding now.

That is it! I decide, I have had it.

I make my way to the kitchen fast, finding both Winky and Kreacher at work. I almost snap at them.

"I am going out for a bit, if Draco returns in my absence, one of you must come to find me rightaway."

I don't stop long enough to see their agreements and take myself to the coat room by the main door.


Its drizzling misery as I step out. I grimace at the weather. How the beautiful sunny afternoon turned into this drab evening is fascinating. Wand clenched in hand I disapparate on the top step, just inside the warded apparition spot.

Focusing on sheer instinct and intuition, I apparate finally, to find myself across the street from the Muggle entrance to the Leakey cauldron.

It takes me a few second to recognize the place. It has been a while since I used this entrance to the place. I make it across the street, hunched and cursing at the constant drizzle. I hate the wet smell of smoggy London city center.

I remember the first time I had entered this place. It's a crystal pristine memory in my head. The vividness of it all through my eleven year old fascinated eyes is remarkable. Trepidation, elation and disbelief all mingled into one awestruck feeling, as I was introduced to this magical world for the first time. I had believed it all, in the first glance. I could have been skeptical, derisive of the concept of magic, but I wasn't. As impossible as it was to believe. I had seen it happening and I had believed it. Before that all I thought of as magic was pulling rabbits and pigeons out of a hat and nifty hand tricks that I had seen on TV when I stole looks at it, when no one was paying me attention in the evenings, or that one time there was that silly magic show middle of the school day.

In reality, which was soon my reality, Magic was so much more. Not silly rabbit pulling or making coins disappear. Magic was life-altering, noble art of the extraordinary. In the right hands it was a miracle that could save lives and do extraordinary feats of wonderful consequences, and in the wrong one it was a just a flick of a wrist to kill someone, another flick to torture them to insanity, and a kiss to condemn to a fate worse than death.

Magic was the impossible possibility. So, what was so far-fetched about…Necromancy, after all, is it not the same way muggles disregard the existence of magic even when faced with it, because they can't do it and understand it? That does not mean that it doesn't exist. It does in all its glory. Forever evolving and changing the shape of the world.

So, what if Draco is right? What if Necromancy is not as much of a joke as everyone makes it out to be. What if it was not a joke at all? What if it is not a learned art, but one you are born with. Like Parseltongue.

I had felt the magic that had guarded me last night. It was alien to me. I had never felt magic of its like ever in my life.

'No, that is not right. You have felt it before, entirely too much and too closely. You still have the flesh memory of it every time you go to king's cross. The chill and the rightness of it, the feeling of being spat back out after being devoured. The blackness, the liquidity of that blackness before you opened your eyes to the bright lights of the king's cross and the reality of your choice. The dilemma of your sacrifice. You have felt it before, very intimately. You just want to deny it to avoid facing something that has been staring at you all along. Something that has been looking out at you out of Draco Malfoy's eyes. Something that is the reason you are so drawn to him.'

The Snape-like voice in my mind is right. It reminded me of other things as well, Tenebra… darkness, Draco had called it, of Firenze's still warm body, the solidity and stillness of it, of Cedric's body in my arms; cool and solid and… dead.

It meant me no harm I could tell, and was solely under Draco'c control and sentinel, I could tell that too. But still it had made me panic. And it's been a long time since something regarding magic has made me panic.

It is like there is a splinter like crack in the fabric of my memories itself. Like a crack in the mirror, that does not by any means changes place or part physically, but the deflection of light is never the same on it under that crack. So the reflection is never perfect anymore you either see you face above the crack or below the crack, otherwise the whole symmetry is out of place.

And that is exactly how things are between me and Draco.

There is a crack in this mirror somewhere. And it has taken me all this time to realize that the reflection is out of symmetry.

What if Draco is right?

What if Necromancy exists, in a very real and serious way?

What if Draco…

My thoughts break… as someone addresses me.

"Auror Potter!" I look up to see a familiar face. It takes me a few seconds to put a name to said face.

"Auror Pontner…" I say nodding in acknowledgment. Noting that he looks to be coming out of the place, not going in. I am grateful for it. Merlin knows how long I have been standing in the same spot lost in thoughts.

"Here to see Enforcer Stoltorm and Lord Malfoy are you?"

My senses come to full alert at his words.

Enforcer Stoltorm and Lord Malfoy? Is Draco here with that strange fellow Stoltorm?

An uneasy feeling blooms in the pit of my stomach.

There is just something about that Erik Stoltorm that rubs me the wrong way.

"Uh, yes… I am, are they in there?"

"Yes, been in for a while. Is this about the attack at the Malfoy manor last night?"

"Are you off your rocker Auror Pontner, discussing things such as that on the street?" I snap at him. Irritated beyond measure at this point.

"I-I-I apologize Auror Potter, it was very careless of me."

"Get going now Pontner, and heed this as a warning will you?" I say standing up to my auror best as he shuffles away from me in a quick and intimidated scramble.

Once he turns around the corner. I flick out my wand and cast notice me not charm alongside the usual glamor I use for public places and missions.

Opening the door, I enter into an almost empty Leakey cauldron. Only three or four tables seem to be occupied and a few strangers perched on the barstool. Something tickles just across my magic. Something soft and playful. I have felt it before, I reach out for it with my psyche as I reach towards old Tom at the far side of the bar where he stands chatting with Dickket, his new sweeper.

Equipped with a large butter-beer and evening prophet I make my way slowly towards the private tables towards the back. Curtains to only one are drawn and the feel of the air as I get closer is enough to tell me that a strong privacy ward is in place. It feels impenetrable to my magical sense, but as I press against it very slightly, it gives way for me.

I am wary of this giving way, but the previously tickling magic is back. And it's rubbing against me as if trying to comfort me this time it lets me catch hold of it. I surround it with my magic and I can feel it giggling against my senses, like a child giggles when tickled. Its affectionate and playful and easy to distract like a playful puppy. I slip inside the very next compartment to the one with curtains drawn closed.

It is as if I have entered a bubble. And my heart is beating really fast regarding what I am about to hear.

My mind provides me with a few really unsavory possibilities. Sounds of lips smacking, mouths dislodging, moans, groans? Each possibility worse than previous.

What I hear instead is…

"Nien!" hisses a familiar voice. Sounding irritable and angry. I know the expressions in that voice. It is Draco.

A calmer deeper yet softer voice says something else in a foreign language, By the r's sound it seems German followed by my name.

So I am being discussed.

"I will not be the messenger between you two. I will not have anything to do with Egil, and if he is wise, he will give up on this mad caper, and flee while he can. It is futile for him to think he can have the war he wants if I am not on his side."

"He will never give this up and I will never give him up. You have to make this promise Draco."

"I will make no such promise. He had his slimy dogs burn the building surrounding Harry's house, No matter what he says to you, It is not like he has not lied to you before is it? I can't let him have what he wants. Even if the world burns down around me as I hunt and burn him down. HE WILL NOT HAVE HARRY."

There is a pause for almost half a minute which I imagine is the stare down between the two. And then I hear that eerie chuckle before Erik speaks in a low yet resonating voice.

"Oh you are very capable of winning from him, I know this, but just like you can't have Harry harmed or in peril, neither can I have Egil. Even you could lose if I decide to join him Draco. All I ask is one promise. Your word that you won't kill him. It is the last thing I want Draco, facing you in battle. After all we have done for each other and been to each other, it would be a shame to the name of friendship and love."

"He will not have what he wants, and you and I both know what happens when that happens. Did he not himself try to murder you in cold-blood just because you wanted out of the twisted relationship once upon a time."

"He failed and I was wrong in trying to walk away. There is no walking away from a love like ours. It would have killed us both eventually, but his attempt saved both our lives."

What sort of twisted fucking logic is that? I wonder.

"What sort of twisted fucking logic is that?" Draco hisses, startling me for the word to word repetition of my thoughts just now.

"There is only this twisted kind of logic love has Draco. What sort of twisted fucking logic was behind what you did to save the life of the person who you loved and who absolutely loathed you back? What sort of logic is behind giving up taste and sleep for someone who you can't even tell what you are? What sort of twisted fucking logic is there in these matters Draco?"

"I would do it all over again Erik, I don't care if he knows or doesn't. I did not do it for his love. I did it so that he would live. That was always my goal."

" You Slytherins and your goals… When will you learn that you are cursed dear Silbern? All you Slytherins. Your God-father wanted only his one true love, Your darklord wanted only his immortality and you only want Harry living and breathing. What makes you think you will be able to break the curse? Harry is his own person. You can stop the danger from coming to Harry, but really, do you think you can stop Harry from going to danger?"

"No, I don't suppose I can, he won't be Harry if he is stoppable would he?"

"And Egil won't be Egil if he is does not show his very worst before learning his lesson. So don't fight back Draco, take your Harry and leave. You want him alive, then keep him alive."

The desperation in voice of Erik Stoltorm shows for the first time.

"That is not possible Erik. I am sorry that there is only one possible outcome to this."

"Then I am sorry regarding how un-productive this conversation has been Draco."

There is some shifting and shuffling.

"Can I at least have one kiss before we part for the last time as friends Silbern?"

Something hot pierces my senses at the longing I hear in his voice. What the hell? I have half a mind to show myself and punch him out for even imagining kissing MY DRACO! MINE!

"No, you can't…" Draco says to me relief "…Because no matter how we part now, and a million times after. We will always remain friends Erik. And the bond you and I made is beyond this divide. If ever you call for me in true need, I will heed. That promise stays intact."

I don't stay for more. Shuffling quickly and silently out of my booth, I make my way towards the muggle entrance of the tavern, when it hits me out of nowhere.

Harry Pontner is on leave to visit his sister in Australia. I had personally signed and stamped on Wednesday his application for the leave and also the permission for issuing an auror protocol international port-key to Australia for Friday, the day of the Carnival.

'"Here to see Enforcer Stoltorm and Lord Malfoy are you?" he had asked me. But how did he know that Stoltorm and Draco were there. Even if he had seen them come in, which I am doubtful about. Draco is not that sloppy. It is true that his privacy ward had slipped open for me for some reason. But for a mediocre wizard like Pontner, it would be impossible to break in.

Stupid stupid stupid!

I wanted to kick myself. Pontner was somewhere he wasn't supposed to be. And he saw someone who he should not have seen.

But he could have seen them both come in or something.

Well there was only one way to find out.

I turned side to the bar dropping my glamour and notice-me-not charm.

"Oh! Harry Potter sir! I did not see you there! I am sorry, Old age is finally catching up with me it seems."

"It is okay Tom, I was not being noticeable myself. You have nothing to worry about yet, though I do need your help with something."

"Anything! Anything for you dear lad!" says Old Tom, eyes shining with excitement.

"A young Auror, goes by the name of Harry Pontner."

"Aye, I know Young Auror Pontner, and his father and his father's father.."

"Yes! Good! So he was here a little earlier, can you tell me how long he was here for and where he was sitting and if he spoke to someone?"

"Oh! No! It is the strangest thing, he was in a bit of a hurry, so only passed through, stopped by for a pint, which he takes on the bar usually, but not this eve', he sat on that there corner table and drank his butterbeer, and then then no more than ten minutes later he was gone… did not even say good day. He is a good lad I tell you Harry sir, have known him and his family since forever. I hope he isn't in some kind of trouble." Tom looked a little worried all of a sudden.

I nodded and smiled at him reassuringly.

"Of course not. He is working under me these days, so just wanted to know if he was slacking off patrol for long or no…"

"Ah! Can't have any slacking off on Auror Potter's watch now can we? Can I get you a mug of Mathilda's special butterbeer?"

"No, no, it is fine, just one more question for you though…" Tom leaned forward solemnly.

"How long has that last booth been occupied?" I asked trying to keep my voice neutral.

"I gave my word that I would not say who… but since you have not asked that. It has been occupied for past hour or so." I see the curtains flickering a little, taking that as my cue to leave I say a hasty thanks and good bye to Tom and step out of the tavern the same way I came in.

I stand in the back alley for a minute, trying to decide what to do next. After a minute of cool thinking I disapparate to the Ministry Auror HQ.

I barge in to the floo-regulation department, startling the only witch keeping track of emergency floo calls tonight. She hastily hides away the copy of Witch's weekly she was eating a pudding to. But still the flash of Draco's silver hair I am able to catch on the cover.

"Carlotta…" I greet her lightly.

"Auror Potter…" she says a little breathlessly. I know her from Hogwarts, where she was a Hufflepuff and a year under me.

"I need your special assistance this evening Carlotta…"

"S-s-sure Auror-r P-P-Potter"

"I need you to get hold of Audrey Fairborn, nee' Pontner on the floo call. She lives in Toraku, Melbourne and works with Australian Magical creature regulation Department. Tell them it's extremely urgent that I get hold of her."

"S-sir, but it would be early morning in Australia right now…"

"I know, the earlier it is the better. They will take us more seriously. Can you make this happen in next ten minutes Carlotta? I am counting on you!" I know it is a cheap-shot. But if it gets the job done.

"Right Away sir. Piece of cake."

"That's what I like to hear Carlotta, I knew I could count on you. Once you get through to Audrey Fairborn, put the call through to my office floo. Use my name all you want."

The beaming smile and hearts in eyes she gave me made me feel a little bad deep inside. It is like my small, appreciation and encouragement has made her rather dull evening a memorable one. I hate to have that power over people generally. But I guess it comes with the territory.

Carlotta takes seven minutes to get hold of Audrey Fairborn.

Hair a mess and clad in a floral sleeping gown Audrey Fairborn is more or less female version of her brother. She looks a bit worried and annoyed and somewhat nervous at the same time and the green light of the floo adds to her tired looking demeanor

I guess I would be too if I was getting an urgent floo-call at four in the morning.

"Mrs. Fairborn. I am sorry to disturb you at this hour, but it could not be avoided, so please accept my apologies."

"It is alright Auror Potter. Please." Her accent just has the right amount of Australian twist to it.

"Mrs. Fairborn, I needed to ask you if your brother arrived safely in Toraku on Friday past."

Her face twists a little in a confused expression. And that makes my heart sink.

"No, Sir, he arrived Saturday Morning. My husband went and picked him up himself from the Protocol regulation."

I cannot help the breath of relief that leaves my chest. Of course. The time difference.

"Is he still there Mrs. Fairborn?" I ask lightly.

"He is, sleeping in his room upstairs I think. Is everything alright Auror?"

"Yes, everything is fine so far, can you possibly get him to come to the floo?"

"Sure…" she says warily, before getting up and leaving the line of sight. A minute or two pass in eerie silence of the early morning on the other side of the world.

Then the floo fills with the face of worried and nervous Harry Pontner.

"Auror Potter! I am here sir, is everything alright back home?"

I am too glad to see him unharmed and fully healthy. Since the realization had hit me about the imposter, my mind had been buzzing with worse scenario after scenario.

I could not have a dead auror on my hands. Not one from my own department.

"Yes, Harry, Only I just met someone impersonating you at the Leakey Cauldron, and with the recent events that just had me worried. Can you think of anyone who would do such a thing? Or perhaps someone who had access to some of you hair."

More confusion and worries ensue from that point forward. And a few minutes later when the floo-call ends, I am left with two confirmations and nothing else.

Harry Pontner was safe and sound in Australia. In addition to talking to him on the floo in person, I now also had a confirmation of his departure and arrival from the Portkey office, Friday night.

It was an imposter, who I met coming out of the Leakey Cauldron, and he was there because of Draco or Stoltorm. Though his swift leaving suggests that he had failed in his endeavor, whatever it may be.


I finally floo back home. Only to find no Draco yet.

I make my way upstairs for a change of clothes and perhaps another shower. My mind numb with buzzing thoughts.

I remove my pea-coat as I sit on the edge of the bed we shared, sleeping so peacefully in each other's arms not a few hours ago. And now, there is this chasm of uncertainties and unpredictable variables, that is just there, staring at me. And on top of all that, none of the things that happened in between affect the fact that I screwed up. And that Draco doesn't trust me. And that he expects me to understand everything on my own without even being a little skeptical.

It would be okay if he was asking me to take a leap of faith, which he is not, were he asking that of me, things would be much simpler. But he is not asking me, no, he is expecting me to take that leap of faith, without giving me any faith in the first place.

But then again, it was wrong of me to think that things would be simple. Things will never be simple. Not when you are in love with a Slytherin.

There is a prickly feeling in my eyes. I suspect it is tears. And I find that hilarious for some reason as I press the heels of my palms against the traitor eyes and just lean forward, just breathing and wishing for it all to go away, turn back until there is me and him lying in this bed again, sleeping, oblivious to MY shortcomings and just basking in each other's presence. One thing, if only one thing could be simple and straight-forward in my life.

There are soft foot falls on the stairs and I manage to dislodge my palms from my squinting eyes just in time to see the shadow filling the doorway.

He is clad in a muggle jeans and jumper. His hair neatly tied back. Eyes searching and face neutral. In his hands he holds a medium sized muggle duffle-bag.

I stare at the bag for a moment.

"I thought I would bring a change or two of clothes…"

I want to say something perfect and understand and fixing in return, but at that moment Kreacher pops in to announce that Dinner is served.

I glare at the retreating elf. Before I look back at Draco. Standing there, watching me with a strange unsure expression on his face in all his clean and sleek perfection. And the familiar feeling, that overwhelms all other feelings when I am around him rises in my chest. I hate this standing so far from each other like strangers. I want to take the few steps and grab hold of him. And cover his faces with kisses and apologies.

Yet the other part of me resents him at this moment. I make a single mistake and he walks out on me. Instead of talking it out, instead of trying harder to convince me, I am sure if he wanted to could prove the truth to me practically even. But no, he chose to leave. Distance himself. Step back, take time out.

And then there is the whole conversation with Stoltorm that I over-heard. I still don't know how I should be reacting to that?

"You should go on… I will be down in a few minutes, just need to get dressed."

He nods at me solemnly, and steps out without a word.

Even that hurts.

I get up to find clothes and it's when I am facing my open haphazard wardrobe that it occurs to me.

Maybe that is the way he is generally. Draco, all cool and quiet.

I mean what do I know about Draco in his day to day life?

What do I know of his habits? Likes? Dislikes? What kind of music he likes? If he likes any music at all? What does he do in his free time? Read? Write? Fly? Garden? Practice and research Magic? Play the piano? Or just stand in corners and brood?

What do I know of Draco's childhood? His hopes and dreams?

For example, I do see the kind of clothes he wears. Elegant and fashionably conservative in cut, but vibrant and unique in colors wizarding robes. And then there is the muggle clothes he turns up in, high fashion, modern and sophisticated with close attention to detail. But they don't tell me if he is passionate about fashion or is it just plain good breeding. Usually expensive things are tasteful as they are and you can rarely go wrong with them. But that is all I can say about Draco in the matter.

I realize that I know Draco slightly better than I would know a stranger.

And perhaps it is the other way around too.

Well, we'll have to fix that now wouldn't we?

I step into the kitchen to find Draco sitting quietly at the breakfast nook again, his eyes tracing the edge of the porcelain plate before he hands it back to Kreacher, who hands him another slightly square in shape and design.

"It is very impressive Kreacher, you have kept it all preserved very nicely." He says quietly. None of the passion his voice held while having one to one with Stoltorm is present anymore. He looks up from the plate long elegant fingers tracing the edge of it. And I can see his eyes travelling all the way down to my feet from my face.

Though the expression remains unreadable. Catching sight of me, Kreacher quickly shuffles away. I take the same chair that I had in the morning right next to him. I don't think we both need to face each other just yet.

"Draco?" I turn to look at him, and I have no idea what I am about to say to him or why I addressed him.

"Yes?" he answers quick enough to give away more than a little desperation. So he is not so ice perfect as he likes to make other people perceive him as.

He takes an audible deep breath before he finally looks up at me, our shoulders almost touch, silver eyes glitter in the soft but bright light from the lamps. And all confusion and madness seeps out of my body as I inhale deeply savoring his presence next to me. All of a sudden everything feels right where it should be.

"Would you like a tour of the house after dinner? There are a few rooms I would like for you to see…" I smile softly at him as one of his brows goes up sardonically.

And hope blooms in my chest. I am not good to myself by myself at all. All those doubts and anger and guilt, only because he was not looking at me. I hope he learnt the same lesson I have just learnt.

We have a lot of work to do to build this relationship on a solid and relentless foundation of trust and understanding, but it will only be possible if we stay close, as to keep focus on the most important thing of them all.

Togetherness.

He's brought a few changes of clothes; he has made his move as blatantly as possible. I am such a duffer to only realize that now!

I smile at his sardonic characteristic and familiar eye brow raise. He smiles when he sees me smile and it reaches his eyes in the most alive fashion. It is only this genuine smile that can wash away the imprinted memory of the dead one.

"I thought you would never ask..." he leans closer taking hold of my hand, slim deft fingers against stubby rough ones, "… Lord Potter-Black."

Chapter Text

Chapter 20 – Unexpected Unravelling

One look, one touch,

Oh I'm helplessly pretending you don't mean that much.

It gets so hard,

The waiting here forever with a shattered heart

Lying to myself trying to act like I don't care

The way it's killing me every time that you are not there…

I get weak, I'm giving it all away,

I know it's not wise to leave myself so open

But all the rules get broken in your eyes,

I give it all up to you,

And everything that's been keep me together

Brings me to my knees,

I get weak.

(Westlife)

"Is something the matter?" he asked eyes fixed on the straight and rigid back of his Godfather. Clad in black, always black, and for once, Draco knew for certain, that there was only one reason for him to always wear black.

The Salon was washed in the orange light of the flames playing in the fireplace. It was supposed to bring warmth to the otherwise dingy appearance of the house, but it only brought long shadows waxing and waning with the dance of the flames.

"Whatever gives you the idea…" the statement came in his deep resonant voice, seeming much more ominous and surreal.

Draco could only flinch at it, but tonight he had finally figured out the reason of Severus' ambiguous loyalties and perfect, clinical and methodical roleplaying, a constant life of a spy and an exceptionally thriving for excellence, potioneer. But most of all, the sleepless nights.

He finally knew the reason behind all of it.

He was awake himself wasn't he? His body exhausted, mouth dry, eyes heavy, head aching, muscles still prone with tremors which were the after effects of the Cruciatus he had been punished with for the past whole week, since the event at the manor . Yet, the beating weight in his chest won't let him sleep.

He was awake, he was restless, in pain, he was alone and he was in love. Desperately, irrevocably, hopelessly.

So, he was awake.

And so was Severus.

There was only one logical reason.

"Who was it?" Draco asked stepping forward around the recliner that Severus was seated on, facing the flames and though he only saw the long harsh face for a split moment, he had been able to spy extra shine in those dark as night sharp eyes.

His expression remained the same and for once Draco thought that he had only imagined the extra shine in those eyes.

"A dream… A hope, perhaps a curse. I would never know, only suffer." came the answer finally when it did.

"A curse?"

"Yes, Draco, some people are born cursed. Cursed with a fragile heart, cursed with a compassionate conscience, cursed with proud superiority, cursed with harsh ambition, cursed with… sharp mind and even sharper tongue."

He was the only one Severus spoke this way to. It was still bloody confusing most of the time, but it gave him a rare glimpse into a man who carried the weight of all the dangerous things happening in the world on his wiry thin shoulders.

Draco could see eternities of suffering etched into the sharp features of his God father. Something drove him still. Something that kept that sharp mind and tongue working.

"Tell me Draco, were you really serious about what you said up on Haggard Cliffside? About… him?"

"Yes." He answered with much more strength than he had. Determination was another story altogether.

"Then, there is something you need to see and after you have seen it, there would be a lot you will need to learn."

A few hours later found Draco preparing himself for matching mind forces with Severus.

A first few tries went fruitless as Severus' occlumency was too innate and founded solidly in his subconscious to break through, aware or unaware.

Draco kept at it though.

And then after they both had given up and finally called an end to the fruitless endeavor it had happened.

Draco had been watching his God father browsing through an old tome as he sipped on his bitter morning tea, and just like that Draco had gotten through without his subject even noticing.

Draco had known that Severus' mind was fortified enough to even fool the dark lord, but what he did not know entirely was the intelligent and confusing structuring of it.

It was a fortress and a maze. Layers and layers of memory triggers and infinite decoys, but inside that head, Draco was like vapor and air. He was a wisp of willow stuck to Severus' own thought force and he slipped through corridors of Severus' psyche just as effortlessly as Severus himself, exploring, checking, watching rooms and rooms full of memories.

Shuffling through and through Draco finally came across something that made him stop.

Huge and bright emerald eyes. That made Draco's heart skip for a moment, before Draco realized that this did not belong to a boy but a girl. A little girl of perhaps ten or eleven with huge eyes and long auburn silky hair and a smile that could light up a room.

"Severus? That is an interesting name."

"Lily is not…"said the boy apparently Severus, sitting next to her. Shoulder tense all of a sudden and eyes wary.

"Yes! I know, I wish my name was also interesting like yours." The girl said, morosely to the little boy's astonishment.

"So, you are a witch then…you must be going to Hogwarts too."

"What's a Hogwarts?"

And a light shines in the boy's eyes as he starts to explain to the girl what Hogwarts is, wildly gesturing and a little condescending but the brightness in his eyes grows every minute of explanation while the little girl clearly fascinated and not at all bothered by his occasional sarcasm listens and asks question after question.

From then on, in every good memory of Severus's childhood and years at Hogwarts, the same girl,Lily is featured. Passing secret smiles. Hours and hours of memories filled with her scratching away and parchment after parchment as he watches her keenly in the silence of the Hogwarts Library. Studying together by the lake in the afternoon. The sheer reddish tint of her hair in the setting sunlight. Green eyes glittering at his wry humor and sarcastic jokes. A touch of soft feminine hands pushing his hair behind his ear as he explains one of his new theories regarding potions. Christmas hugs, smell of lemongrass and strawberries. Feeling of a heart aching, filled with so much love for her.

"Sing me a song Sev… Please?"

"Take me to Hogsmeade Sev."

"Smile already Severus!"

"You clean up pretty good Sev!"

And after that the pain started to turn into something else.

Unrequited.

Same heart filling with hot jealousy and anger watching her smile at 'them'.

Realization that he was not something special, and that she made an effort with everyone.

"You are my best friend Sev!"

"I'm sorry Sev, I am going to Hogsmeade with Alice."

And then seeing her through a window shop at Zonko laughing with another someone who made Draco's heart skip a beat, the resemblance was so uncanny. Same jet-black messy hair, crooked smile and glasses.

It was then that Draco finally made the connection for sure. Severus had been in love with Harry's mother.

And then an act of bullying cruelty for all to see in public, humiliation and anger still fresh in a lonely boy's heart, and then lashing out at the wrong party.

"Mudblood!"

That one word ruined a life.

And then the agony started.

Days of self-starvation as self-punishment. Crying to oblivion.

Werewolf nightmares got worse.

Letters, pages and pages of declaration of love that never got owled.

Some shorter ones filled with heart-felt apologies that were sent and returned unopened.

"Leave me alone Severus! I cannot be friends with someone who is prejudiced by blood-status, you knew it was the one thing I would not tolerate."

And in the end, the lonely shy boy with the sharp tongue came out the tunnel of agony and rejection as a much more dangerous wizard than any could have anticipated.

Ruthless, swift, cruel and sharper than a Samurai's sword. a prodigy in learning dark magics and the art of Potioneering. A formidable duelist at the tender age of sixteen, and an Occlumens strong enough to pass the radar of the almost omnipotent headmaster Dumbledore.

Before long he found himself under spotlight of the Dark Lord's scrutiny, and of all the people in the world, he was the one who found Severus perfect.

But, there was a weakness, which showed itself every now and then.

A jolt of light in Severus' assumed black heart.

If it was dead why did it still hurt to see James Potter kiss his bride. Lily clad in white, smiling, radiant, standing in the afternoon light in the same spot that belonged to her and Severus once upon a time.

If Severus' heart was dead, why did it still hurt when Lily Evans turned to Lily Potter. Why could be feel the stabs of it in his chest with every beat?

Severus had been stationed at the Malfoy Manor and Narcissa had inadvertently stepped in on his heart ache. A new friend. A safe and married friend, who made an unbreakable vow to never reveal his secret love for Lily Potter.

A year later a bundle of pink skin, golden hair and magical silver eyes had been handed to Severus Snape, and his dead, black heart has swollen with affection. He hated every baby in the world with a passion except this one. His Godson.

And then another child was born seven months later, that Severus would not lay eyes on for another eleven years, but would change his life, allegiance, either way.

Severus begging, breaking, crying himself to sleep for years before sleep itself stopped coming but tears never did.

Cold motionless body of Lily Potter in his arms. The only time he would hold it so close.

The suicide attempt.

Three of them.

And then the promise of always.

And the secrets were opening, revealing themselves like a drawing on a tapestry.

And when Draco finally pushed out of that mind, he felt his heart on the edge of bursting with grief.

He wished that his own heart would burn and blacken and die for real. Anything to save it from what was going to be inflicted on it, as Harry Potter's fate would have it.

Severus was only shaking his head.

"You see Draco, that is the mistake I made, I forgot that a heart that learns once to feel the truth, is the heart that can never be killed."

No, it can't, it would rip one's soul out, but never die, beating for that one true love. It will hurt and ache and at times numb to the point of freezing, but never stop.

Draco would learn all of it the hard way.


 

They say silence is golden.

It might be in many cases so.

But in mine, it is black.

An all-consuming, obsessive black.

The kind of black that makes a warrior commit kamikaze, because there is no hope left.

But there is hope. I know it in my heart. Even if hope hurts more than rejection, its presence is undeniable.

I know I just need to light a candle, flick a light, just say something, and do something. We cannot be at an impasse so soon. I have to be more understanding, and he…

Well, he not understanding is the main reason I will have to be it.

"I would do it all over again Erik, I don't care if he knows or doesn't. I did not do it for his love. I did it so that he would live. That was always my goal."

I had said it to Erik, knowing it was a lie even then. No, it is impossible not to care, especially after getting a taste of that love and affection and reciprocation. It is impossible to not care, to even imagine now, going a few hours without those strong rough hands and soft yielding lips and that certain breathless inflection in the desire filled hoarse and deep voice calling my name like a prayer. Or for those shining astonished and reverent eyes that look with such concentration over every inch of my skin, the possession, the relentless and harsh grip of passion…

But that is not all there is. There is that fairly naïve vision of the world, the silly unbelieving laughter, which would enlighten my heart for eternity if it weren't for the reason of its surfacing. The eagerness to prove ahead, but stubbornness to stay behind. He is everything, and now that I have a taste of him, the touch of him, it's impossible to go back to that forced detachment of the side-lines. The obscurity is redundant.

Then why had I said it, when I knew that Erik would look right through it? I had said it for Harry, of course I had, though I still don't know how and why he had slipped my radar? And found a way inside the privacy ward without even breaking it. It was not a Thaumatic ward, it should not have yielded without spell-work, which would then have triggered the anti-spell-work ward which would have informed me,

Could it be possible that this connection between us is growing somehow? That now that I have consummated my love, and it being a soul connection, it has finally started to affect and seep down to even my normal wizardry?

I would not have noticed his presence if he had not literally screamed in his head the fact that the logic Erik was presenting at that very moment was fucked up. Of course Harry knew nothing about how fucked up Erik really is because of Egil. And also that most of the things Erik says most of the time serve only to provoke his opponent, he always in the end finds his way to the right side when it matters. Right now Erik is feeling the full weight of Egil's destructive warpath, and how much harm could come from all of it and is lashing out.

At times I am thankful that Harry is irritating righteous. As I have no appetite for evil, never did and I often wonder if I would have still fallen for Harry so desperately if he had the makings of the next upcoming dark lord if the newspapers were anything to go by in the fifth year.

The answer is Harry would not be Harry without his righteousness and fool-hardy bravery. He would not be the boy who lived. The boy who fought. The boy who won. Or the boy who made love to an ex-death-eater and nemesis from school, who never let go a single chance to make his life miserable.

I would not have fallen for Harry if Harry was not Harry.

"My Majestic Lord Malfoy, it is Kreacher's and Winky's pleasure to be serving you food in the house of your ancestors for the first time."

The whiney voice of the most ugly and old House-elf interrupts my stream of thoughts as I find myself standing in the doorway to the kitchen.

The whole house presents a very different picture at night. It is carefully lit with candle-placements and Lumos lamps. So all the soft sober and somewhat modern colors are now awash with a light yellow light, making their hues a little more rich and somewhat aged. It is a striking contrast. When in the morning the house looked airy and fresh, at night it looks warm and cozy.

The long winding corridors seem longer, and the shadows though are obsolete to the eye, there is a feeling of night lingering in here despite the light.

The décor of the kitchen is a proof that Harry himself likes to cook sometimes, if not all the time.

So this tells me what?

He has personally and painstakingly renovated this house. Everything just in its right place, and still with that strange quirk that shows a deeper personal involvement than what most would believe.

It makes me wonder if Harry has kept also the tapestry room intact.

It is the only part of the house that I remember in vivid detail.

"Would Worthiest Lord Malfoy like to inspect the Family crest China? Kreacher has kept it all clean and tidy, Kreacher did…"

Its as good idea as any to stop myself from making continuous comparisons in my mind between the old house and the new house.

"hmmm."I simply nod my ascent at the clearly awestruck house-elf. What in the bloody hell has Harry done to his house-elves? This one looks rude, extremely rude, but is nothing short of wiping the ground with his tongue.

The elf moves most efficiently to a glass door that seems to open into the proper dining area and disappears behind it. So, there is a dining area, and though I would have found it to distaste 7-8 years ago to lunch or dine in the kitchen or the break fastroom. It is fine. I cannot fail to admit anymore that the grandeur and opulence that was once staple of the Malfoy blood, now just feels stifling, over-whelming. It is no surprise after the spending the sort of years I have spent. Always moving, going nowhere until I found my way back to my own axis.

The Elf hands me over the fine black porcelain dish with the hideous Black family crest in silver and golden sketched on one side. The wand in the fist on the emblem swishing and the polish flawless. I hear the light distant thud of footsteps coming down stairs. I freeze in my inspection but don't look up. It is his turn now. I have made my move. I compliment the waiting eager Elf while my whole body is like an unseeing eye, trying to look at him and see his and gauge his expression.

I inspect the second plate meticulously, but then its too much and so I turn to look at him where he stands in all his glory. Wearing a maroon t-shirt and slacks. How can he look even more beautiful when he is not even trying, I can never guess.

The uncertainty mixes with want. I am exhausted. I want him next to me, wrapped around me. We don't have to talk. We don't have to analyse, compromise, sacrifice… We could just…

No, that is foolish thinking.

It might be a lot. This physical attraction and soulful pull.

But it can never last long.

And I know that my soul would not, cannot settle for something less than forever.

He takes the same seat he took for breakfast and my mind sings it a good sign.

The house-elf quickly shuffles in silence setting out plate and what not, but my whole body is alert of Harry. The speed of his inhales and exhales. The heat of him, the occasional twitch in the thigh a few inches from me.

Finally, finally, just a second before I would have burst with frustration.

"Draco?" his deep voice and questing inflection is too delicate and fragile, but eager as I am. Breaking with every single second that passes.

"Yes!" I almost shout. Calm the bloody down, I scold myself. There is no hiding from him now. The cover of coolness is blown by that one response. So it is all or nothing now. Taking a deep breath I turn to face him finally. Close, and calm and quite. His green eyes are wide but pleading. Is this what Harry's apologizing face looks like? Does he even realize what it is that he is apologizing for? I realize I don't want his apology if he does not understand the reason for it to the full. No, I don't want this to be the way for us. Apologizing without understanding. Avoiding discoveries, treading on egg shells.

What he says instead is,

"Would you like a tour of the house after dinner? There are a few rooms I would like for you to see…"

Oh!

An Olive branch!

The feeling in my chest is over-whelming, and despite my incredulity at the unexpected save I cannot stop the smile from breaking out. A huge knots comes undone and lightness takes its place as he smiles back at me in that equally sexy and adorable way. All sparkly eyes with curled blinking lashes.

It's all right!

It is all okay, we can work it out. I don't have to be melodramatic.

I am not a girl. This is not Romeo and Juliette, this is Romeo and Julio. And Romeo and Julio work things out and then have mind-blowing gay- sex in all positions anatomically and magically possible and then go off and fight some evil wizards together back to back and then come back and have some more almost anatomically and magically impossible sex.

Romeo and Julio just have a lot of sex and don't do melodrama.

Oh I wish!

Keeping Romeo and Julio in mind, I take the bold next step of touching. The anticipation is as if I have never touched him before and I am just going to reach out and take his hand and hope that that also is seen as a white flag.

"I though you would never ask…" His hand is rough and warm and it does not take him even a second to help me tangle our fingers together. The light in his eyes shines even brighter when I lean in and utter promisingly devious.

…"Lord Potter-black."

He holds my hand through dinner.

All through dinner.

Even for dessert.

It's a bonding gesture.

A reassurance for me? For him? For us both perhaps?

A symbol.

Or perhaps a soul deep instinct.


"This is… bloody insane…" I can't help but feel the child-like glee looking at Harry's extensive broom collection. From Comet1.1 to SuperNova360. It's all there, perch after perch, lined carefully with brooms, carefully cleaned, polished to an inch of their lives, except the Blackwood Edition Firebolt, which looks a little scruffy but clean and well-used. I recognize it immediately of course. I would recognize anything Harry wore, used, held, ate, touched owned from Fourth, fifth and Sixth year at school. I would never admit that it was the same case in First , second and third year too, because even I had not realized back then, why my eyes were always following him, noticing him? I thought it was hate. I still think it was hate, the kind the fox has for the so-called sour grapes. It was a constant reminder that I had been denied the one thing I wanted most and rebuffed so blatantly that it ached. Merlin! I was such a prat.

I look at him when he doesn't make a sound, to find a magical yet embarrassed smile playing on his face. A blush too. Why would he blush?

Oh right, appreciation and pride makes him blush.

And I am falling in love with him just that little blush more. How much more? The depth to this seems endless. Just stop.

"Oh I certainly remember this one…" I touch the glass encasing in front of the Firebolt.

"Yea, you would…" he is closer than before.

"Still cuts class doesn't it?"

"It cuts and air like a knife still, yes, I still take it for a spin sometimes when I am feeling… Nostalgic."

"Yes, my nostalgia would contain lots of resentment towards it. I was so furious that you got it before it was even released, and special Blackwood edition too."

"Yes, one of the only 25 ever made. I don't know from where or how Sirius managed it, but he did."

"Ahh! The mystery unfolds, your God-father got it for you! Of course he did, he was a black. Stupid of me, I should have asked mother to get me one too… Well, no crying over spilt milk, everyone is dead, and I still have no Firebolt… what?" I ask, as I look at Harry and find him staring at me weirdly, and I know precisely why.

"Sodding hell Malfoy! You sound exactly like the git you were in school. Oh thank Jesus! It's a relief! I was starting to think of you as a stranger!" he is laughing now, and this one doesn't hurt. This part of me he accepts, readily. The affection in his eyes is over-whelming. I shake my head and roll my eyes. How many of me are there really? This one feels just as real as the other one.

I feel a firm warm grip on my shoulder and it is a tip over of feelings. I turn to him with an almost painful eagerness to feel more of the warmth and beautiful tenderness that he is.

It's good that he has the same idea, and before I can even make sense of my own instinct I am wrapped up the cocoon of his warm strong arms, surrounded by his scent and warmth.

"I'm sorry Draco! I am so sorry! I am such an idiot! I swear, of all the people in the world, I should be the one most open-minded about magic and miracles, of all the people, I should be the one to recognize how special you are, always were, I have been so childish and stupid and you still came back… I can't believe you would give me this chance after my stupidity."

His voice and words are like a balm to the tiredness that feels like a constant part of my body. It's like coming home from a constant relentless war. I don't care if he actually will do as he says, or if he will be genuinely as open-minded about all my secrets as he says right now, but it's still the exact words I want to hear, in the exact way I want to hear them, with the exact meaning behind them.

"Where else would I go?" I ask him. Genuinely surprised that he would think I would leave him. It had never even crossed my mind. I can live a lifetime of secrets and hiding and constant pain next to him. Without him, now, I don't think I will survive. Tethered. My soul to his, my love to his.

"I don't know. It doesn't matter, what matters is that you didn't…" he says, his hand now cupping the nape of my neck. But his voice is not saying what his words are. There is a sort of insecurity there that is not due to uncertainty or newness.

I pull away from him a little to look into his face. The despair there confirms what I already read in his voice.

"No, you apparently do know, where do you think I would go Harry?" I ask him, looking deep into his eyes.

'Daphne fucking Greengrass!'

His mind screams at me, I am sure of it, because I am consciously avoiding legilimizing him.

Where the bloody hell did he get that idea from?

My mind whirls for a split second before it provides me with several references. At the restaurant, sharing a lunch, at the carnival, oh yes, especially at the carnival.

Such an idiot. Doesn't he realize?

'Of course he doesn't realize, remember that stab of jealousy when Harry had kissed Ginny on the cheek when she was leaving just this morning? And that was after you did realize.'

"You are not thinking about Greengrass are you? Because greener or greenest, she is remaining on the other side."

He snorts derisively, as he shakes his head, his face not a hand's length away from me.

"I would understand though, I mean, she is beautiful, and she's… you know really desperate about you it seems from the few times I have seen her around you… And you are so bloody gorgeous, who wouldn't want you? It is only a matter of you wanting them back isn't it?"

"Yes it is, but what I want is what I have here in my arms, blabbering utter nonsense!"

He smiles ruefully at me but his eyes are serious. He finally lets his arms fall away from where they were surrounding me and pulls away taking hold of my hand again instead.

"Come, now to the show-stopper, in restoring which, you have contributed a lot, quite unsuspectingly."

It is a dubious choice of words, and an even wickeder glint in the huge green eyes.

But I know where we are going before we even get there. He is taking me to the tapestry room. But what was once a dusty and dark ebony door is now shining sleekly, almost as well as brand new. The carvings on it more clear. The black family emblem in a recurring carved motif. Ugly, but decent.

Harry turns the knob and then pushes the heavy door open with a flourish. As the lumos lamps immediately comes to life, and the view steals my breath for a moment.

Instead of the burnt, drab-colored, old-as-Cain tapestry, there is a new much finer and much more richly green colored one. The tree branches, vines and leaves are all a vivid but graceful gold now. And the portraits are certainly updated. Nothing like the previous disgusting ones with the black burnt off patches.

"It's been restored! But how?" I ask following the gentle swirl of branches all around the room until I reach the starting point again. It's flawless, and even more extraordinary than the one at the manor.

"Well, it took me seven years to not figure it out actually." He chuckles.

He is smiling mischievously. It's distracting, it does things to my chest and aches in places where it shouldn't.

When I just keep looking at him for elaboration he moves closer to where I am standing right in front of my mother, father's and my own much updated portrait.

"Well, I am not exactly sure and Kreacher won't deign me with an explanation, so I have figured some of it myself. I think it is ancient blood magic, connected to maybe the ownership deed of the house." He says eyes vaguely peering at the tapestry.

"So, Aunt Andromeda?" It is next to impossible for a female member's blood magic to make it happen, but it is the only possibility.

"No, surprisingly enough, it was your blood that fixed it… And before you take it the wrong way, I did not steal blood from you, I…" he hesitates, a regretful frown graces his face as he bends his neck down as if ashamed.

"Yes?" I ask moving even closer. Because I am intrigued now. Despite what he thinks, I would know if he had taken blood from me. And there have been no other circumstances where blood was drawn between us.

'There has.

In the elevator at the ministry, he had pressed his wand against the cut on your waist just under the ribs.'

"I found it on my wand after the Elevator thing and I asked Kreacher about it, he being a purebred house elf, but it was like Christmas for him or something so he brought me here, and make me press the smudge of your blood into the tapestry and this just happened." It sounds evasive.

"No spell-casting, nothing? Just a touch of blood and…" I talk more to myself. Truly baffled. My magic must be getting stronger then. That is one of the side-effects of practicing base magics, the connection between blood and the magic becomes stronger and stronger, until the blood itself becomes a cast of potent magic, every single drop of it. I remember the irreparable crystal goblet that had taken the brunt of my tragedy of a first meeting with Harry after coming back. It feels like an age ago.

"If it weren't for the haughty pose, I would think this portrait of yours quite pretty."

"Ah! You are mistaken as always heathen! Malfoys are never haughty, they are proud and proper, with a constant broomstick up their arses."

"That visual is a pure tease Malfoy! I never would have pegged you as a deviant…" He says chest pressed against my outer arm, lips tracing my cheeks teasingly. Making every single hair on my body rise. His hands slither around my waist sensual on the surface yet steel-strong and possessive in their grip as they trap my arms to my side. It is a prison of limbs which I would ecstatically spend the rest of my life trapped into. It is still as much of a surprise to a part of me that this is actually happening, as it was last night. Only a touch is enough for me to be set on the pleasure fire, but to have this closeness, this possessiveness, this absolute adoration that goes much deeper than the desires of flesh, to have love of Harry Potter, it is something, I, Draco Malfoy had never dared to even dream about.

His breath is still flavored with the fragrance of maraschino cherries which were part of the dessert brushes lightly against my lips, a mysteriously bitter fruity scent that wants me to follow it to its source. His arms tighten and yet spread even more. It is a strange and awkward angle but it is perfect, it is just right. And then somehow through all this hyper-awareness of every inch of my skin I hear two words spoken with enough desperation to make my universe tip over the careful edge of controlled desire.

"Please Draco!"

It's enough, just so, without noticing it I have turned to him fully, while his arms unclamp and then clamp right back around me. As my lips crash into his. It's a kiss that can only be referred to as warfare. Where both parties use every weapon in their arsenal to get the best of the other. Tongues teeth, hands, lips, hips, feet, hair, skin, nails, clothes everything is involved in this fight for more. It is desire bordering on violence. And this is what it is. It's a love between two fighters. Two warriors, who have faced death too many times for their age.

His hands are forceful as he pins me down eyes blazing with a fire that only burns for me. As he undoes my hair as if their orderly binding was the most offensive thing. His own is already an incorrigible mess as is my favorite place to guide his mouth from. He is pinning me down on the carpeted floor, Knees clamped around my waist as he pulls the jumper off of me. Eyes roving over the button down shirt underneath, his distraction with the buttons is enough for me to tangle an ankle against his and heave myself side ways to swiftly pin him down under me. His eyes blaze even more as I rub myself against the obvious bulge in front of his trousers. He hisses, still reaching for the buttons of my shirt and when I swat his hands away in favor of pulling his shirt upwards to unleash that beautiful Golden skin underneath it for feasting upon. My mouth has a will of its own as it attaches itself to his belly button which is as far as I have gotten to uncover him. Its paralyzing. This desperation where I can hardly keep myself away from devouring him for long enough to at least undress. It is as if a few seconds of detachment that is required would be fatal. The metal clink of the belt is what alerts me to his hands on me as he has sneakily undone not just my belt but also the buttons of my jeans. His fingers when they brush against the bulge in my underwear are soft, tender and careful even as his other hand is painfully clamped on my thigh, pinning open for his exploration.

He surges up with me straddled on top of him and I can finally take off his T-shirt hands exploring the warm skin, lips clashing still, but the harshness has subsided for the moment. As we kiss languidly the hard smooth expanse of skin under my fingertips. Smooth lines of muscles in his chest and then the abdomen. I break off the kiss in favor of pushing him back down, to explore it all with my lips. Lips taking temperature of the flushes. Around the neck, in between his nipples. Sucking kisses on his skin, leaving light red marks all over. Marking, claiming, while he watches me with his dazed darkened eyes. Licking lips in anticipation.

He finally moans as I brush my lips against the bulge in his soft cotton trousers that cling to it obscenely. The tightness in my own underwear is unbearable at this point. It is as if he realizes it at the same time as me, his hand scrambling for something in my periphery only to see his wand in his hand as he casts a murmured charm. A cushioning charm as the hard wood floor beneath my knees softens to the likeness of a firm yet soft mattress.

I realize for the first time where we actually are.

In the tapestry room, full of portraits of my ancestors!

"Wait!" I hiss at him, as he attempts to pull my jeans down.

"No…No, Draco Please!" he whines and it would be funny if it wasn't so desperate and sexy at the same time on his face. Eyes pleading, lips parted and gasping and red with assault.

"We can't do this here Harry! Not in front of my ancestors!"

"What?" He blinks at me and I can see understand dawning.

I take it as my cue as I wrap my arms around him and picture the bedroom before I disapparate.

And apparate directly into his bed. Made again to perfection, to my irritation. In my opinion it looks better unmade with Harry spread wide upon it and me on top of him, or Harry on his side, spooning me holding me close and content.

"The Sodding hell Draco! You keep doing that without warning!" He is still under me, eyes blazing fury and lust all at the same time.

"Saves time!" I smirk at him just before he launches at me and this time all the clothes are off before I take my next proper breath. And it's just skin upon skin and delicious friction and breathless tongue fighting.

We move together like pieces of a mechanism, in synchrony, I can feel him not just above and against my skin but under it too. It's a perfect amalgamation of touch, taste and rub, with the chant of declarations of love and each other's name.

I love you Harry!

I love you Draco!

There are no doubts anymore. As I slither down his body to taste him where his flavor is the most potent.

It comes naturally to me this time, as I wrap my mouth around his length, tasting the taste of silk salty and pure. Tongue swirling in circles around the head and brushing against his slit as I watch the constant ripple of relaxation and firming and contracting and sometimes jumping of his perfectly chiseled abdomen and chest and arms and shoulders and finally the face. Slack jawed in awe and pleasure as he watches me with rapt attention lips moist with saliva, hands scrambling for purchase. It is such a power rush to see him so disarmed and at my absolute mercy, breaking apart with just the touch of the tip of my tongue.

Well, it is not nearly enough. I want it all. All at once. So I do. Swallow him down, deeper, tasting, feeling as my vision blurs before I move back up again. Never letting my prize out of mind, I work him faster but not deep, It is not long before moans turns to whines and then begs.

"What do you want? Tell me! Explain to me! I want to hear it!" I hiss at him, my voice comes out raspier than I expected. I watch his gasping chest while I stroke him non-stop with my hand knowing that I would have to do something about my own situation soon also.

"Take me… Fuck me Draco! I want you inside… everywhere! Please please please!" I freeze at the demand. Wondering for a moment if I heard that right. It is right, because he is saying it again and again.

What?

He wants me to top?

Of course he does, the question actually is WHY? And If he has done it before?

No it is not possible, not if the insecurity on his face at the moment is anything to go by.

The truth of the matter is…

Well, the truth of the matter actually is that I never thought or imagined or dreamed that I would get this near and far with him. Harry Potter was a dream, a fantasy.

He was as straight a bloke as they came. I'd witnessed it. Watched him like a hawk, followed him covertly for years, just making sure that he was as straight as it all suggested, even if I knew that I never stood a chance if he was as gay as they came. I was Draco Malfoy, beautiful and handsome, but Hateful for Harry Potter.

But I still had dreams. Dreams that were my only comfort, but even those I did not carry outside the confines of my bed. In those dreams I was always taken by him. Hard, fast, domineering, sometimes even violent.

He is not strictly straight, I can say now, but not gay either. I can tell that too. He is most probably bisexual. And when I had fell into bed with him yesterday, it had not even crossed my mind that he could ever ask for this, and so soon.

A year or ten down the line, maybe, as an experiment.

But not within 36 hours.

"Draco?" his hand cups my cheek and I realize that I have been sitting here on my knees frozen for a while as he kneels in front me now, panicking.

Oh my love, my heart! You are an enigma! Just when I think I have you figured out, you do something like this.

"I love you…" it is all I can say. As I stare at him in all his naked glory and nervous lips.

"I love you too…" and the panic is not there the moment the declaration flows out of his lips. And we are kissing again.

The massage oil bottle flies out of my bag at a flick of my wrist as I lay him down and he eagerly open his legs wide, his beautiful engorged member, hard and heavy on his thigh and his perfect sacks hanging heavy and globular at the base, filled with his essence as he idly plays with it. It is a most arousing vision which makes my hands shake as I open the bottle and spill a generous amount of oil onto my fingers.

I need to focus! I cannot lose it now. I need to get this right. This is his first time, and mine too at this. Bring out that Malfoy control now and make it count. Make it beautiful, painless and unforgettable.

My fingers find his rose bud of an opening, shy and nervous and quivering as my finger touches it massaging the outer ring, delicately, until it eases and relaxes before I dip my finger in finally, my other hands soothing and stroking the other pinnacle of pleasure on his body. His eyes are clenched close as he fists the bed cover but remains relaxed.

"Look at me love, look at me, watch me as I make you mine…" I whisper to him as I press in a second finger which dips in and presses against his pleasure point making his eyes shoot open and wide and his breath catch as his hips jerk.

"The fuck! Oh my fuck! DRACO! Now! More! Please!" his words are gasps as my finger brushes against his prostate on every pull out.

"Just a little more love…" I sooth him, stroking and pressing his erection with my other hand. It's rigid and painfully hard, I can tell, as my own is even worse. But I would kill myself before I am careless enough to hurt him during this. This is a prize I never expected to have and I will not mess it up. By the time I insert a third finger in, his pleas have become a chant, and I know that I can't resist anymore.

Despite the desire to see his face as I penetrate him, I know that it would be easier if he was on his knees, after some maneuvering we are both finally in position and it is a vision. A vision that makes me reel as I lubricate my painfully rigid erection. The broad expanse of his golden back, the sheer muscle strength of that lower back and the round firm and absolutely gorgeous arse.

Oh dear merlin! This arse will be the death of me.

I enter him slowly and steadily, though by the time I am fully in, I feel I can die with the sheer heat and tightness. It's mind-numbing painful pleasure and I am hovering on the edge of being undone and I have not even moved yet. The pressure and sensations are maddening but I need to keep myself in check and not start rutting like an animal until he adjusts.

A low whine of my name is all the cue I get before my hips are moving, pulling out slowly but pushing in again as he moves against me, pushing when I pull, pulling when I push.

A few seconds later, I realize that I almost forgot that Harry Potter does nothing by half.

"fuck fuck fuck Draco! Faster! More!" he gasps moving fluidly back and forth on his knees while I am barely able to keep up for a moment.

This will not do.

I spread my knees a little farther as I take hold of his hips and slam. He howls almost as the changed angle makes me brush against his prostate.

"Ah! Draco! So good! More my love! More, MY GOD!"

I pull out of him and it is as if he has read my mind as he scrambles onto his back immediately and I am hooking my elbows under his knees and surging forward, entering him again in one swift move.

From there, it is frenzy as we both move against each other, My body pasted on top of his with barely space to separate one from the other. His tight heat clenches around me as his penis gets massaged between our moving bodies.

It's an instinct, a sensory overload. The warmth of him holding me prisoner as my hand takes hold of him in sure firm strokes, it's sharp and painless and just sheer blacking out joy and I know I am losing it when he loses it painting both our chests and my fist with his essence, I lose it as the evidence shoots out of me and into him, joining us forever in a way that nothing could unjoin. My mouth is fixed on that heart that is vibrating under all those muscles and I feel my lips tingle with even more desire, a stronger one to trace and feel those muscles and furious vibration of his life source. As if I could drink from it. Feast on the taut golden skin there, burn a hole into it with a scorching kiss and suckle out all his life, soul and blood by kissing just above his heart and forever store it all inside myself. Curled around it for eternity, like a Warlock Dragon protecting its gold, curled around it until it's nothing but ashes and bone and there is nothing but dark dark dark dark and that fast and warm thump of the joint heart burning like a supernova, thump thump thump thump, growing every minute, destroying everything irrelevant in its path until everything is nothing, and there is only fire and this beating heart, protected in the darkness, just biding its time, just…

Thump - thump – thump – thump

"Draco?"

Black veins, Silver scales, blazing green eyes and a chest filled with molten fire heart beating endlessly…

Draco – Harry – Draco – Harry – Draco – Harry

"Draco?"

Harry – Harry – Harry – Harry – Harry

"DRACO!"

The sting across my cheek is sharp, and warm and cool at the same time. And it's a strange alien feeling, like there is another skin on my skin and as if that skin is not mine at all.

"What?" I ask not knowing what just happened.

"Draco! Look at me!" more than the commanding words, it's the clammy warm hands against my cheeks that bring everything back into sharp focus.

"Yes.. Looking!" I say, but it takes me a few important seconds to command my eyes to look at him, really look at him. His eyes are wide but he has concealed his panic. If the light moisture on the side of his forehead is anything to go by.

"What the hell happened? Are you feeling okay? You just blanked out and wouldn't respond apart from breathing really hard."

"What?" I ask him he is holding my face close, too close, peering into my eyes.

There is something wrong. There is something extremely wrong. I can feel the ache of it in my bones.

Danger. Extreme danger. And I have never felt more vulnerable.

"What's wrong?" I am asked, I am not sure it is inside my head or outside.

"Nothing…. Everything" is the answer that resonates through me.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 21 - Secrets of a Malfoy

My heart is worshipping you,

Listen to the chant of its beat,

To possess all of you, is my only need…


 

If it was not for his open lazily blinking silver eyes, looking at the reflection of the both of us in the mirror of the dresser, I could have mistook him to be in a deep sleep where he lies sprawled on me his weight and lean strength a comfort and his porcelain skin an entertainment , cheek and ear pasted to my chest, breathing deep and steady fingers spread out on my hip, twitching occasionally in a manner I can only call possessive.

"Draco?" I say softly, as I comb my fingers through the silky messy curls, working out the tangles softly, one by one.

"hmm?" is all the answer I get before he moves, all feline grace, pulling himself up a changing angles to paste himself to me again my chest to his back now. His head supported by my shoulder turned to me, his ravaged red lips inches from me as he grinds backwards a bit. His left hand takes hold of mine and guides it to his stomach, but I know already where he wants me to put it.

It is a most bizarre aspect of our love making. Draco is insatiable, there is no other word for it, so am I for that matter, but despite all his haughty up-bringing and born into sense of superiority, he is absolutely adoring, needy and worshipping in bed and absolutely shameless when he wants more. He would lure, seduce, entice and go absolutely mad and carefree. He is the least self-conscious during sex. Wanton and abundant in his responses. It drives me absolutely mad with lust I have discovered. And also, that I can deny him nothing.

He is mostly hard when I take him in my hand. his length is beautiful in its own right and desperation as I start stroking it while he grinds back on every stroke down ward rubbing himself against my definitely interested sex.

His lips are searching through his moans as my breathing grows a bit restless with his movements and the hardening of my length.

The kiss when it begins is all tongue. Obscene and absolutely debauched as we suck at each others mouths while he grinds his hips against me and I stroke him up and down.

What a picture we must make.

Before long he has turned again and is now straddling my waist, grinding and rubbing the parting of his perfectly shaped hips up and down my shamelessly weeping cock, while I stroke him relentlessly.

I thank heavens for the sweat which is making both the processes more easier or else with the speed we are both going we would be chaffed.

You see, I have to think all these things when I have my beautiful lover rubbing himself all over me, because as beautiful as he is, if I even think about the beauty and rapture of this moment when our skins rub together and the sparks of magic and something else gather underneath it all, I would not last ten seconds.

"So close…So fucking close Harry, do you feel it? Do you feel me?" his voice is hoarse his silver eyes blazing, skin shining with a glaze of sweat as he moves on top of me.

I can feel little else. This desperation of loving him and fucking him and tasting him is all I can feel, his skin against mine. I want bliss and hurt. I want these moments, these exact ones and what I feel in them to be imprinted forever on my skin. My heart feels as if it will burst with the over-whelming love and need that I feel for him.

"That's it! Harry! I love you so so much… you have no idea… I will love you until we are nothing but dust and bones… I will love you until time itself comes to an end. There will be no one else ever who will love you like I do."

"I love you too… I love you so much.. Just don't ever leave me Draco… Promise, you will never leave me alone…" And it is suddenly too much for me. The idea of him moving away from me, walking away, leaving, dying. The idea of the hurtful dead smile on this rapturous face. The idea of losing this sense of purpose. It is not until this moment that I realize how lonely and isolated I have been all these years. Under the stairs, talking to spiders, sitting on the swings alone in the scorching summer heat. Looking out of the barred window. Those memories feel like gashes against my heart, my heart that had always been too numb to feel the hurt and bleeding. And now it is in danger of being ripped out altogether, because it feels for the first time. And feeling hurts, fearing hurts, loving hurts and remembering hurts.

Everything hurts, and I can barely breathe through so much hurt, and I am imploding and exploding at the same time. And it all hurts surrounded by unbearable ecstasy.

Someone is sobbing, hacking and hiccupping and it is a strange sound, as if the person does not know how to sob properly. It takes me a few seconds of confusion before I realize that the sound is coming from me. It is only interrupted by deep kisses that I know by taste alone belong to Draco. I open my eyes to find myself enclosed in a tight embrace.

"I promise…" he whispers into my hair as he holds me close, tight and secure.

My senses calm down at that, all of a sudden. Leaving me with a deep cool calming glow settling deep into my core.

I close my eyes again, face still wet throat still hoarse and lose all sense of everything except the strong lean arms that are holding me together.


"So, you really are a necromancer." I say, more of statement, but still with that interrogative inflection at the end of it. His fingers don't even twitch where they are combing through my hair as I lay on the Divan leaning against him, between his impossibly long legs, facing the secret French window through which a half moon peeps in. My hair is still wet from the shower, but since both of us are still in our bathrobes it matters little. Well, I am in a bathrobe, he is mostly naked with a flimsy towel tied around that gorgeous waist that makes my heart beat faster. But right now it's all calm, and serene. After dramatic blanking outs on his part and absolute breakdown on mine, we are fine now. All lose-limbed and still warm from the shower we took together along with the seemingly final orgasm of the evening. It is an hour past midnight. The soreness is also almost gone, thanks to some soothing oil the application which was why the last orgasm happened at all. But I miss it. I wanted to be able to feel the evidence of my surrender to the one I love every time I moved for next several days. But Draco won't have it.

"Yes…" he answers simply.

Alright, so where do we go from there? Should I ask him about it? Is this the kind of thing you can easily talk about, discuss at length? Or is it something to be ignored?

"It is not really a hard thing to ask Harry, it is something that has to be seen to be believed." He says softly kissing my temple. His lips warm and loving. I can feel it in his deep steady breaths. The love we share.

"And you will show me and tell me? If I ask?" I ask turning my head upwards to look at him.

"I will." He says solemnly.

"And the consequences? I am not foolish enough to think that there aren't consequences when you meddle with the forces of nature Draco." I say sitting up and turning towards him.

He chuckles and shakes his head. Eyes sparkling hauntingly in the moon light.

"Meddling is for meddlers Harry. Meddlers are the people who are somewhere where they are not supposed to be , doing something that they are not supposed to be doing. I am not a meddler. Not anymore. I am far beyond the stage of meddling. And when that was the case once upon a time, I paid for it with whatever was the price. No, I am not a meddler anymore Harry. Now, I am a master."

I take a deep breath, taking into account the way his posture and eyes have changed. He does not meddle and he should not be meddled with either. But strangely enough, my heart is set on what has past. I am not interested in what Draco is now, today, I am only curious about what got him here, at this stage. What made him what he is now. Because he is as far from the Draco that I last saw.

That Draco was riddled with fear and despair. Especially in the last year. He was weak, resentful, stupid and seemed half the time like a squirrel in a trap.

This Draco is the definition of strength. He is controlled, fierce, intelligent and absolutely at ease with his situation as dire as it may be. There is that deep ingrained focus, an almost supernatural concentration in him.

"I will tell you everything Harry, and by the time I have told your everything I am sure that everything you thought you knew would be shown in a whole different perspective and by the time I am done it is most probable that you would walk away from what we have here, and I will understand it, but remember this Harry, I will not accept it."

Well, he still has the ability to make me see red in a matter of seconds.

"You won't have to accept it Draco. I am not walking away. That is more your way, so please don't insult me even with the suggestion!" It comes out harsher than I expected or wanted.

His face freezes for a moment and my heart leaps a little, praying that he won't smile 'that' smile.

He doesn't.

He takes a deep breath instead, and closes his eyes.

I lean forwards capturing his lips in a kiss. The physics of it is so easy now. It is the most natural thing.

He kisses back passionately for a few moments before we break it off mutually.

"I was born to a prophecy. I am the 21st consecutive lone male- heir of the Malfoy line. The magic, the ability to communicate with spirits manifests itself in our line every few generations. But it has always been very minor almost minuscule in most cases in the past, and was usually used for communication purposes."

"Communication purposes?" I query.

"Yes, communication, in the form of Divination. It is strange that the Wizarding world would cherish Divination so widely and accept it with arms wide open, whilst deny even the presence of Necromancy when both arts basically rely on the same structure. Divination is using, centering controlling the live energies to create and met out a supposition of the future, it is not exact, but it does tell selective outcomes. Whilst Necromancy is using, centering, controlling and summoning dormant energies, not just human spirits, but whatever once lived and does not anymore can be summoned through Necromancy and can be used to the same result as Divination.

"You mean Necromancy can be used to predict future too? Like Divination?"

"Among many other things, yes, predicting the future, discovering hidden secrets. What the source knows, all its parts know too. In the otherworld, time holds no meaning, place holds no meaning, so they can inform you about past things that happened or future things that may happen it can be very precise, much more than Divination. Of course it is always changeable, but it is foolish to meddle with time and hypothetical future, the possibility rising from each minuscule change can be so vast and varying infinite that one would go mad. Given that they are not already mad in even trying to delve into necromancy so deep as to reach that level and for the purpose of tempering with future."

"What could be anyone's purpose other than that? Predict the future, know the future? Change the future? No matter how dangerous and mad, is it not the ultimate prize for… anyone?" I ask him.

"I think you misunderstood me Harry. Necromancy does follow some of the rules of Divination, but it is not the same. The price one pays is terrible, the process to learn, even for a born full-fledged necromancer is excruciating and when one has gone through all of that, and reach that other place, one realizes…" he pauses for a minute and a small shiver goes through him

"… I, realized that it is not at all what it is made out to be, but then again, my motivation of pursuing it in the first place was not conventional. I could have easily walked away from it all, ignored it for the rest of my life, it is the one choice every necromancer has, but for me, that choice was not there… So my perception of it might be different, because I did not choose necromancy, it was chosen for me through circumstances. Letting it not control me and controlling and excelling in it in return, was my choice, one which I am proud of."

The last statement does nothing to quell my anger at Draco being forced to choose necromancy against his will. Who forced him? His parents? Ambitious bastard that Lucius Malfoy was it is not too far-fetched that he might be the one to force it on Draco to please Voldemort? Did Voldemort know about Draco's abilities? I don't think he did or he would not have let Draco out of his sight for a minute, and Draco was pretty much on his own most of the time in the end wasn't he? It doesn't making any sense.

I looked up to see Draco watching me keenly, his face a mask hiding conflict which I could see in the steeliness of his eyes.

"Who forced you Draco? Who took that choice from you?" I ask him. I know he understands my tone, that I would not be placated on this.

He takes a deep breath and crosses his arms.

"You." He answers.

"Me?"

" Yes, you." He says his eyes and expression unwavering.

"I never…" I start not knowing where exactly I am going with that referral, but he cuts me off.

"Of course you never knew, you always knew too little, and I always too much."

"I don't understand!" my head is spinning. He is talking in circles. It is makes me angry when anyone talks in circles. He's accusing me of something that I would not do to my worst enemy in a million years. I know most terribly and intimately what it is, to not have a choice. To be forced into doing something.

"After Dumbledore's demise, I had to live with Severus for a few months to stay off grid whenever 'he' was at the manor. During that time Severus started teaching me advance legilimency. He taught me primary and basic of Occlumency during the fifth year. At that time I did not know why I had to learn it, but I guess now that it was to protect you mostly. He thought it wise to be the only informant of Voldemort's in Hogwarts and wanted to keep me out of the whole mess. I excelled in it from the beginning and it only came to more shine when I started practicing advanced occlumency and legilimency, especially because of the extra powers I was born with and even Severus was no match, so, I discovered through his memories that I was supposed to be a necromancer. One of the most powerful ones if trained right, to ever walk this earth, it was a shock to my system, but Severus assured me that I had a choice, that lasted for about a day because in the very next session I gained access to memories of some of Dumbledore's last sessions with my Godfather. I found out about the Horcruxes, and the deathly hallows, including the part that you would have to die in order to kill Voldemort permanently. I could reconcile with everything Harry, anything, but not the part where you had to die. That was unacceptable."

He pauses for a moment taking a deep gasping breath as if he still can't imagine me coming to such a fate. His eyes now fix on me, pinning me, urging me to see the truth under all the layers of resentments, mistrusts, oppositions. And I know I am seeing it. The truth of Draco Malfoy, which is a perfect amalgamation of Dark and light. Born to be terrible. The same way I was prophesized about, the same way Voldemort was talked about. Had we failed to see there was a third player in the game all along?

I always thought so. I always thought it was Dumbledore. For the first time tonight, I am wondering if I was mistaken?

"I knew it was essential for Voldemort to die, I had no wish to live my life in enslavement because that is what the Dark Mark was. But there is a monumental difference between 'not wishing' and 'not allowing Harry and I could not allow for it to come to your death. I had realized in full magnitude by then, how much I was in love with you. It was a terrible realization, in midst of a terrible time. And I knew I stood no chance with you in a million years seeing as we were on opposite sides of the war and even beyond that, I knew you hated me, but I could not let you die, yet you had to, it was absolutely necessary as well and I was sure that you would not think twice before sacrificing yourself for the greater good, the heroic wanker that you are. It was good that these realizations happened at the time that they did, because the realization of my true abilities was still fresh in my mind, it was not a hard connection to make. You had to die, I had to bring you back to life. It wasn't a choice at all."

Draco had been in love with me since… When exactly?

'Fucking shame on you Harry Potter, he just told you he wished to bring you back to life from the dead and he is a fucking Necromancer and all you can focus on is when he fell in love with you?'

"You were… when exactly? How?" Confused, ashamed and intrigued, words escape me most ungracefully. There are a few realizations of my own pulling me in different directions.

He laughs a small amused laugh.

"I don't really know." His eyes become unfocusing in introspection.

"From the time we first met at Madame Malkins? The moment you refused my friendship? The Night I followed you and your friends to Hagrid's hut? The moment you caught the snitch right out of my hand in my first ever match as a seeker? The moment you made friends with that bad-tempered foul Hippogriff? The moment you emerged out of the water with that half-veela's sister and I felt as if I was the one drowning and could breathe again? The day you stood to take responsibility for your friends in front of Umbridge and took detention after detention without breaking and realizing that I did not hate you because you were opposing her and me but that you were doing it for someone that wasn't me? The day you almost killed me in Myrtle's toilet? The moment you took my wand from me when I was about to give it to you? The moment you pulled me up that broom to save me from burning to a crisp? I don't know Harry, not really, but I stopped denying it to myself when you almost killed me in Myrtle's Lavatory. Don't you see? It was always You and me. There is love between us now, but before that there was anger, resentment, hate. I could never be indifferent to you and from where I can see, it was the same on your side. It was just as strong then as it is now, though it baffles me still, the fact that Our paths were so fixed and different from the beginning. I still can hardly believe that I am allowed to call you Harry, let alone hold you, kiss you, make love to you. Not even in my wildest fantasies had I…."

And his voice breaks and I can't take the heart-stopping pain in my chest anymore, the need to have him in my arms, to assure us both that this is not a dream. To contain this happiness wrapped in sweet pain of accomplishment. If I feel this way, I can only imagine how he feels after suffering so much.

So I do. In a blink of an eye I find myself pulling him up and into my arms. Safe and secure and reassured.

"I made the deal with the keepers of the underworld Harry, for my initiation. I learned of the ritual in one of my ancestor's old journals. I had to bargain, I had to offer something in exchange for your safe passage back to the living world. In the end, they kept the piece you were there to discard and to keep balance proper and had to send you back with what I had given them."

"You… You made a Horcrux?"

I can hardly process the information. I do not know what to think. I know what that must mean if the answer is positive. Oh dear God! He has turned paler than the ghostly moonlight. I can see his hands trembling a bit. Eyes are fixed on a spot somewhere above my shoulder. I could have imagined a lot of things, but this could never have been one of them. I just cannot come to terms with it. I do not know how to react.

"Not a Horcrux exactly, but yes slicing a piece of the soul is the thing in common there."

"Cold-blooded murder." I say, the numbness spreading deep.

"Obviously…" he says tears filling in his eyes.

"Was it on one of your death-eater raids?" I know I sound harsh. The Auror in me waking up. I don't know why I ask this? Would it really make a difference. A cold-blooded murder remains a murder.

"No…" he shakes his head voice hardly above a whisper?

It keeps getting worse and worse.

"When?"

"During the final battle, in the forbidden forest. The timing had to be precise for it to work."

It is like a bucket of cool water on a hot head. The only time I did not see Draco was after I saved him in room of requirement, and that was when Draco had gone missing until his 'so called' remains were found on the Forest floor alongside the dead body of…

"Fenrir Greyback…" I whisper. Remembering the mutilated remains and pictures after pictures of it, Draco's blood on the scene. I had memorized the file. How many times had I wished to kill that abomination myself? It is the one possible cold-blooded murder I would have liked to commit myself, possibly with my own bare hands. It looks like my lover beat me to it. Suddenly I can only feel proud of him, though I shouldn't, it is murder. But he was going to die anyway wasn't he? And he was dealt exactly how he dealt others, innocents and helpless.

Draco nods. Tears finally falling.

"I hope you made him suffer." He need not be miserable for doing a public service, metting out the right punishment and doing it all for… Well, according to Draco, Me.

His head shoots up, silvery eyes wide, shocked and wet.

"It was an ingenious setup, so many targets with one arrow." I say simply.

"I don't regret it for a moment Harry, he was a monster, the things I had seen him doing... In the end killing him was a pleasure...I will do it a hundred times more if I got the chance."

"And I would join you every time Draco. He was a monster, there was no redeeming that beast, he ruined lives just for the fun of it. He was the one who turned Remus Lupin and almost killed Bill…"

"I swear he was not supposed to come to Hogwarts Harry. I had no choice."

" I know your life has been nothing but a series of non-choices. I know exactly what that feels like and I was on the right side of the war, I can only imagine what it would have been like to be on the wrong side. I stopped hating you the moment you refused to kill Dumbledore. You knew what was at risk and yet you refused. People may have thought you weak Draco, but I know strength when I see it."

"Oh and did I pay for it… The moment I decided to do the right thing, life became a living hell for me. I knew I was going to die, I wished for it, only the fantasies of you kept me going through it. I was spying on the death-eaters and Voldemort, I was pretending to be weak and helpless and that takes much more effort and pain than if you are actually weak, I was discovering my sexuality and pining over the love of my life who hated me with a passion and with whom I saw no chance of redemption." He smiles a little bitterly fingers rubbing the palm of my hand. I kiss his temple. Inhaling the beautiful lemony scent of his hair.

"And there were days when the falsehood of my fantasies left me in much more pain than being treated to cruciatus for hours on end. I had made plans you know, even if you find it hard to believe, I had made plans to default to your side, I had to just find a way out for my mother. I knew I could not do much for father. I had planned that I would come to you, pledge loyalty to you once she was safe. Fight by your side. Die taking a spell for you. I had this fantasy where I would take a cutting spell for you and then you would hold me as I died."

"Just shut the fuck up you idiot!" I can hardly take it anymore! I pull him back into my arms. Kissing the devious curve of those perfect lips away. Fucking manipulative Slytherin! Making me feel bad, but I can't help loving it. Loving every part of it. I shower him with kisses. While he languishes like a feline. Actually purring.


The lunch with Andromeda the next day is the only reason we lie down with the false intention to sleep at all, in truth. For me, it is the quiet time that I am craving. I need my thoughts to settle under the barrage of declarations and revelations that have been made today, all in one day. It's hardly been forty-eight hours and Draco has ingrained so deeply into me, that though he is the main reason for the chaos around me, to let him out of my arms even as he sleeps is unimaginable.

And he sleeps. Within twenty minutes of lying down. The moment we stop snogging like teenagers that we aren't anymore but are definitely making up for it, he is gone deep into sleep, without a warning, his back against my chest, his fingers entwined with mine on his abdomen. So pliable and carefree. Draped only from waist down in stunningly ridiculous black silk trousers. That makes my blood sing in my veins, and I thought the towel was a tease.

There are so many real and horrific things in our shared past I realize. A relationship that started with nothing but bias, bigotry, rivalry and enmity, at least that is what I had thought all along, and I was alright with that too. I was in favor of forgetting the past, as it seemed to me, and start anew with Draco, forge an entirely new relationship. Draco is right, there was always something between us. Because there was no one that made me feel alive like Draco. Even in Hogwarts. No one had the power to wound me up like Draco. Draco alone could make me react in the harshest of ways with just a sneer or sarcastic and condescending quirk of a brow. And that was the only time, as I recall now, when I felt… alive. I had friends, friends that I would not give away for the world, friends I chose for myself and who chose me back. If one looks at it, there was only one person who had the real equal place of being my enemy. A unique designation that only ever fit Draco. With his cocky struts, venomous tongue and lashing sneers which I gave back as good as I got.

There was only ever Draco in that unique place. Voldemort was a murderer and a maniac and never an equal. No, that place only Draco held. Every other Slytherin was an extension of Draco's. Draco was the reason I became what I became. I never did tell the Sorting hat to put me in Gryffindor, I only insisted on not being in Slytherin because that is where that rude git who so easily insulted my newly forming friendships sat.

"Anywhere but Slytherin." I had said.

And so the fates entwined from that point. Putting us both, never side by side, always opposite, apart and always face to face. And while I had always too much on my plate every single year, Draco apparently only had me. Even if as an enemy.

And now as a lover.

A lover who was once a sworn enemy. The enemy Draco gave his heart to. The enemy who almost killed Draco and then saved him, and the enemy for whom Draco would not think twice to give away a part of his soul. To murder in cold-blood. Go through excruciating pain and loneliness.

And what have I done for Draco?

Nothing, not a thing as of yet.

Magnificent, powerful and Charismatic Draco Malfoy, the bouncing ferret.

A necromancer, master of death, controller of the underworld and a hell-bending Legilimens and Occlumens.

And plain, simple, Harry Potter.

A fair Dueler, a bored auror with eyes like pickled toad.

And excruciating bad luck, followed by good luck to get out of that bad luck.

We are so different, me and him, like night and day.

And perhaps that is why it will work. Together, we will cover all fronts.

Draco stirs.

It is only been two hours the silent Tempus tells me.

I hold him closer to my chest and feel him relaxing again, a sleepy sigh leaving his lips.

The first course of action would be to lay down extensive protections for Helga's bode. Teddy is related to both myself and Draco and could become an obvious target for Minatio's malice. I decided to do it with Draco's help when we are there at lunch later today.

Ron and Hermione are pretty well-protected since both of them are very keen on protection and privacy. Ron being and Auror and Hermione being an unspeakable. But I remember what happened at Dumbledore's tomb, and I will not be taking any risk with my best friends. So maybe I will drag Draco to the cottage for tea. I need to take Hermione and Ron into confidence regarding this anyway and Draco will just have to trust them. In some things it is a package deal as cliché as it may sound.

I realize, I also need to scan and filter the MLE department in the next few days. It will have to be done under Robard's radar who will only make things difficult. Chain of command and all that sod that I just can't be bothered with right now when I have so much on my hands. Ron will have to be in on it which will automatically involve Hermione, and I am just not willing to bring her into this. There was a time when it would have been unimaginable. But Hermione is a mother now. Things change when children come into the equation. Burrow of course.

So extra protection for family members. Code yellow.

Under radar scanning at the department.

And Erik Stoltorm. It was about time we had a little chat.

No matter what Draco thinks. I will not sit back while those whom I love are jeopardized for my sake.

Draco expects no less than that, he himself had said as much in the bar.

Which brings me to the Pontner impostor I had encountered earlier and I realize that I have not told Draco about it or asked him about the peculiar conversation he was having with that git Stoltorm. Or that after telling me he needed space and walking out on me he had gone straight to that git Stoltorm, a close curtained private meeting with Stoltorm who he clearly had some kind of history with, and who had asked Draco for a kiss by the end of the conversation. So, 'that' kind of history maybe?

Draco had refused though. So that was good.

Draco snuffles a little and changes side. settling his face quickly in the nook between my neck and propped on my arm. bringing my attention back to him.

Face relaxed, eyes closed and movement behind those eyelids. He is dreaming.

I realize that he must have been through hell in the past seven years.

What had that bastard said to Draco?

"What sort of twisted fucking logic was behind what you did to save the life of the person who you loved and who absolutely loathed you back? What sort of logic is behind giving up taste and sleep for someone who you can't even tell what you are? What sort of twisted fucking logic is there in these matters Draco?"

I am surprised I remember it almost word to word. Giving up sleep and taste? He sleeps well enough. Eats heartily too. What was that git on about?

Draco had split his soul in order to save my life. Traded a piece of himself for the piece of Voldemort.

Does losing a part of one's soul affect them in a physical way? It definitely had for Voldemort, but then he had made numerous and Draco just one. There was no scar on me that hurt, no sign that I carried something extra alongside my own intact soul. I will have to explore this further. Possibly with full disclosure from Draco.

I look at the angelic sleeping face of my necromancer again. So harmless he looks, at peace.

He does not look like the master of… Underworld.

Or someone who is missing a piece of his soul.

Is that what happened during our love-making earlier? Some kind of reaction between souls?

I don't know when I start dreaming too, about dark Dragons, huge trees and fiery green eyes.