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A Difficult Endeavour

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Chapter One

Dear Miss Donnelly,

I am sorry to say that I must head to France for business and will not be able to join Draco today. I appreciate you responding to me last week with the details of this experiment that St Mungo’s has asked you to spearhead, and I must say this is ambitious. I do not know what the outcomes will be, or whether they will be positive. I know you wanted my outright participation in all sessions, and while at first I was more than happy to give you just that, my job has become much more busy and unpredictable as of late. So I must entreat you to follow this endeavor as well as future sessions without me.

But I have one request. You and I both know that this will be difficult on Draco. Please make sure he has the support he needs, when he needs it, even if he doesn’t look like he wants it.

Warmest Regards,

Astoria Malfoy

Laurel Donnelly was jolted from thinking about the letter that she could now recite word for word to the task at hand when one of her clients broke the silence.

"Are we waiting on anybody else?" Harry Potter inquired as he looked around the room with the many chairs. The woman he asked gave a kind smile.

"Just three more, but they're likely to come at the same time."

"I still don't like this, not one bit." Ron Weasley grumbled from where he sat beside his wife, Hermione, who patted his hand in reassurance.

"Honestly, Ronald, I know this is a bit unorthodox but this might actually do some good."

"Let's hope so. I would very much like to sleep." Ginny murmured, trying not to wake the three month old bundle in her arms. When the door swung open, everyone gaped in surprise at who stood in the doorway.

"Apologies Miss Donnelly, Astoria had to travel unexpectedly to France for the day and I couldn't arrange a minder for Scorpius. Hey mate, why don't-" Draco Malfoy, who was currently struggling to get his two year old son's jumper off whilst the child was jumping with excitement, paused as he recognised the other occupants of the room.

"Mr. Malfoy, please do come in."

"What is the meaning of this?" He demanded as he absently managed to get the jumper off his hyperactive child and usher him into the room. The door closed softly behind them.

"Take a seat, Mr. Malfoy, and I'll explain." Scorpius, used to this routine, waddled over to where the toys were packed nearly into a box. He started searching for what he wanted whilst his father sat down, and it was only then that the small boy realised they weren't the only ones in the room. He glanced shyly at the strangers. He snatched up a toy dragon, hugged it to his chest, and moved unsteadily toward his father. Draco hoisted him into the chair next to him.

"Please do explain why our confidentiality agreement is becoming null and void, this instant."

"All will be explained, Mr. Malfoy. First, let me introduce myself to you, Mrs. Potter. We've not had the pleasure of meeting. My name is Laurel Donnelly." The kind smile was back in full force as her eyes rested on the new mother. After a wary glance at Draco, Ginny focused on the woman.

"I'd shake, but, you know, baby. Nice to meet you too. Harry's been rather open about his meetings with you, so I'm happy with what you two have been doing."

"Appreciated. So, I'll start off with my qualifications, yes? This will help explain why you're all here and, as Mr. Malfoy accurately pointed out, voiding confidentiality agreements. First off, I received my magical education at Ilvermorny, the North American school of magic. From there I did an apprenticeship at St. Mungo's, primarily in the psychological injuries and maladies unit, which specialised in anything from paranoid schizophrenia to spell forced insanity. Did three years, finished the apprenticeship, and then went to a muggle university to receive a psychology degree. That took six years. Then I came back to the wizarding world and freelanced as a therapist. Recently, Mungo's approached me, which leads me to why you're all here."

"Well…?" Draco grumbled under his breath. Scorpius, perhaps sensing his father's discomfort, stood in his chair and reached over to pat his father's shoulder.

"Dahdee, no sad." Draco swung his son into his lap.

"Sorry, mate. Continue, Miss Donnelly." Draco spoke calmly this time, but didn't miss the slightly astonished glances the Golden Trio and the Weaslette threw his way.

“They approached me with an idea for a study. The effects of group therapy on survivors of war. Now I have done a version of this: while the war was going on, I was in the northern regions of Canada, where there are large groups of First Nations people who had been affected by the war.”

“How were they affected?” Hermione asked, her curiosity – as always – getting the better of her.

“Well the Canadian government has had the tendency to ignore these groups – there is a lot of animosity because of what colonisers did to the First Nations groups in the past. So this tendency to ignore these groups, as well as the spirituality of these groups, made them easy targets for Death Eaters in the area who wanted to use their magic for unknown reasons, or just thought they were less than fully magical. So I did group therapy with these groups, as the majority of the groups do most things together anyway. It was quite successful, actually. They were really able to help each other. Now, I’m not saying that we suddenly have to sit around a campfire and sing Kumbaya, I’m not even saying you have to become friends. But I think that doing this would very much help with gaining some understanding and perspective.”

“I think it’s a good idea.” Harry murmured, reaching blindly for his wife’s hand; his eyes seemed to be looking inward, elsewhere.

“Mr. Malfoy?” Donnelly tentatively prodded him for some kind of acknowledgement of the situation. His head snapped up from where he was looking at his son, to meet her eyes.

“Yes?”

“What do you think about this idea?”

“At the moment? I think it’s bollocks. Do you not realise that they have probably shared everything with one another? It’s the Golden Trio we’re talking about here, of course they have. And now that they’re all related to one another, even more reason for them to be sharing.”

“Malfoy, we haven’t.” Harry’s eyes danced over in Draco’s direction before flitting away.

“Yeah right, Potter, you can’t expect me to believe that.”

“I can tell you as of right at this moment that there are things about the war that I haven’t told Ron and Hermione.” This time, Harry didn’t look away from Draco. It was Draco’s turn to look away in disgust.

“Why are you trying to reassure me, Potter?”

“Because I think that out of all of us, this… experiment or whatever it is, will help you the most. Unless you’re afraid to.” Harry murmured the last under his breath, but he knew Draco had heard it.

“Excuse me? Afraid? You’ve got to be off your nut, Potter. Fine. Fine. Miss Donnelly, what’ve you got for us?”

“I’m glad you asked, Mr. Malfoy.” Laurel waved her hand and journals appeared in front of every adult.