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Special Gifts

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Disclaimer: Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy do not belong to me. (A state of affairs that I mourn on a regular basis.) They belong to the Scottish Lady, and the Big Movie Studio. I make no money from fraternizing with them. I do it because it's fun!

A/N: When I wrote "That Which Divides Us", I touched upon Clairvoyance. It is a subject that has always fascinated me, and something I would have liked to see more of in the Potter books. Since it was really a very peripheral subject in those stories, I decided to take it upon myself to explore it a bit more fully here.

 

SPECIAL GIFTS

PROLOGUE

 

The slender figure moved along the boggy moor in the meagre light of near-dusk, a brisk wind catching his heavy dark cape like plucking fingers, pulling strands of long black hair from the binding at the nape of his neck to tease about his pale face. Clouds hung low over the desolate landscape like bruises on the sky, grey and blue and deepest green, and the sound the wind made as it chased across the barren space was like the mournful howl of a lost soul, or the wailing cry of a doomed lover. There was nothing warm or comforting here, just endless space, flat planed vistas, thick undergrowth, rocks, and desolation.

He moved with a lithe grace that belied the thick clothing and heavy hiking boots he wore. The stark black pants, black shirt and full black velvet cape made him look like a spectre from another time, especially in combination with the white skin, and dark, arching brows. He paused near a small, struggling garden, looked around at the meagre offering of plants, neatly labelled in short, precise rows, and bent to his knees fluidly, pulling a black leather glove from one hand, then a small penknife from a pocket. Moving easily, he sliced a few shoots from a plant that had mossy, grey-green leaves, closed and re-pocketed the knife, and stood effortlessly, holding the herbs in an elegant, long-fingered hand.

He paused then for just a moment, staring up into the pewter grey sky. Far, far above, a hawk cried, circling with the wind, its wings spread and its head tucked, and a small grim smile pulled at the corners of surprisingly full lips. He turned and moved back along the inhospitable stretch of ground the way he’d come, heading toward a small stone house that sat snuggled against a rise in the land, its thatched roof beginning to sport a growth of the moss that covered the terrain. A small tendril of white smoke lifted from the rock fireplace and golden light shown at a wavy window, the only signs of comfort for miles around.

He paused to stomp mud from his boots on the flagstone step, then pushed open the rough wooden door, which dragged noisily across the small porch. Stepping into the tiny cottage, he set the herbs on a scarred kitchen table, then untied the heavy cape and let it fall across a wooden chair.

The cottage consisted of one large room, with an iron cooker and set tub with cistern to the left, a rock fireplace with a merrily burning peat fire to the right, and a large, rough hewn bed in the middle against the far wall. There was the one wooden table and two chairs, and a worn arm chair and ottoman facing the fire, a lamp on a scarred table beside it. That was the extent of the luxuries the house provided, but for two large book cases, one on each side of the fireplace, filled to the edges with volumes of every shape and size. Even Spartan as it was, it still managed to convey a certain warmth and welcome. It had stood in just this spot for nearly three hundred years, being occupied and abandoned about equal amounts of time. This time, it had been inhabited for three years, and though it was modest, the wood plank floor was clean, and there was a colourful quilt on the bed and a hardcover book turned upside down on the ottoman to hold the reader’s place. Even in a place as desolate as the centre of a Scottish moor, there was a feeling of ‘home’ about the tiny space.

The man went to the fireplace and sat easily on the floor, picking up a long handled metal hook and pulling an iron cauldron away from the flames. Turning to a smooth stone set into the middle of the hearth, he picked up a very sharp silver knife. The heavy ring on the third finger of his left hand, hammered gold with a square cut emerald at its centre, picked up the firelight, and the flames were reflected in the deep green of the stone. He began to meticulously chop the pungent leaves into small rectangles with elegant strokes of the long, pale fingers, dropping a precise number into the bubbling liquid within the pot then picking up a wooden spoon and stirring the leaves down into the mixture, three times clockwise, one time counter clockwise, before repeating the entire process again. A pungent steam began to rise from the contents, and after dropping the last of the herbs into the mixture and repeating the ritual of stirring, he pushed the pot back into place over the fire and pushed himself up from the floor.

“So what’s in the pot?”

He turned and found the muscular, ginger-haired man seated on the foot of the bed, Levi clad legs out in front of him and crossed at the ankles, cross-trainers sloppily tied. His jumper was cobalt blue, which brought out the blue of his eyes, and his smile was impish.

“Rabbit stew,” was the ironic response, a small answering smile pulling at the corner of his lips.

“Bet it smells good.”

“It does.” He reached back and pulled the leather thong from his long hair and shook it out, running his hands through it. It fell to just past his shoulder blades: thick, shiny and black.

“You need a haircut.”

He looked up, eyes narrowing slightly. “So do you.” The ginger-hair was looking sort of long and chunky, curling over his ears. But then, it had looked just that way for over a decade.

“Har har, very funny.”

Efficient hands smoothed the long hair, caught it once again at his nape, and the mass was tied back into a neat tail with a minimum of effort. He walked toward the tiny kitchen area and opened a bread drawer, took out a chunky loaf of homemade bread, and walked back to the table. Retrieving the knife from the hearth, he quickly and effortlessly sliced two thick slabs from the loaf, leaving them lying on the spotless wood.

“I miss food.”

This was said wistfully, and the dark-haired man looked up at the redhead. “I believe that, the way you used to put it away.”

“You’re hilarious tonight.” This was said with a healthy dose of sarcasm, and the brunet smiled slightly. “Company’s coming.”

The brunet sighed, crossed back to the tattered kitchen cupboards, and took down a bowl, a ladle and a spoon. “I know. I’ve been told. This week, right?”

The redhead nodded. “Probably two, three days.” The dark head nodded absently. “You know what they want?”

He shook his head, and the long hair dragged across his back. “Not exactly, just generally.”

“They want you to come back.”

“Probably.” He went to the hearth and knelt, setting the bowl down, reaching out with the hook to pull the pot of stew towards him. He stirred it again without really paying attention, his gaze vague and far away. “There’s something, but I can’t seem to pick up any specifics.”

“You’ll go?”

He shrugged, reaching for the ladle. “Depends.” He dipped some of the thick soup into the wooden bowl, and then stood, walking carefully to the table before setting it down.

“Are you ready to go back?”

He looked up at the question, his brow furrowing. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s time; maybe it isn’t. I’ll have to hear what they have to say.” He sat then, picking up his spoon and one of the slices of bread. He had it half way to his mouth when the redhead spoke again.

“It’s time.”

He paused and looked up, staring into the brilliant blue eyes, green eyes wide behind the round lenses of the wire framed glasses. “You’re sure?”

“Yeah. They must really need you, to come to this God forsaken place to get you.”

His lips curled in a slight smirk. “I’ve ignored the owls.”

“Prat.”

“Git.”

They exchanged a fond smile.

“I love you, you know.”

The brunet’s smile grew misty. “I love you, too. I always will.”

“Go back, Harry. It’s time.”

Harry Potter sighed softly, setting his spoon aside. “I wish I knew for sure.”

“There’s only one way to find out. Go back.”

The silence spread out, and Harry looked back towards the bed. Where Ron Weasley had sat just moments before, the bed was empty, and the quilt remained straight and smooth, neatly tucked, no sign of having been sat upon. Unfazed, Harry picked up his spoon and tucked into his stew.

TBC