LINKED WITH A PROMISE
* * *
Draco stared out the drawing room window, ignoring the summer rain flooding his mother’s rose garden. No one had told him the hardest part of the war would be the end. His parents were safe, but he wasn’t so naïve that he thought things would go back to how they were before. What worried him most was that he didn’t know what was going to happen.
The unknown scared Draco the most.
Once the war ended, Harry Potter became the savior of the wizarding world while Draco was branded a traitor. It didn’t matter to some wizards or witches that he helped out in the end. The howlers sitting on the coffee table were a testament to that. At least the number of howlers per day lowered to twenty, even though the number of poisoned items increased by two.
Draco was surprised Harry testified on his behalf. He thought Harry would want to throw him in Azkaban, not keep him around. He didn’t question it although there were many questions he wanted to ask. His surprised increased when Harry testified for Narcissa. Draco accepted it as Harry’s way of thanking Narcissa for saving his life. However, Harry wasn’t there for Lucius’ trial. After all the attempts Lucius made on Harry’s life, Draco knew Harry wouldn’t testify for his father.
Lucius’ trial was still in deliberation and did nothing for Draco’s shaky nerves. Narcissa fared no better, but kept a strong face for Draco’s sake. Draco pretended not to notice just like he ignored the many sleeping and anti-anxiety potions Narcissa took. Draco’s own condition was improving. He took a sleeping potion and an anti-anxiety potion.
It was the only way he could sleep and keep the nightmares at bay. Draco didn’t want to admit it, but he couldn’t hide it. The first night, he couldn’t sleep in his room. The screams and cries of the prisoners in their dungeon echoed in his mind. That night, he joined Narcissa on the couch. The second night, Draco slept in the guest room. The nightmares in his room were much worse.
The screams continued until the third week when images of Greyback took their place. When he woke up, his throat was raw from screaming. He couldn’t ignore the problem anymore. He started taking Madam Penelope’s Passionate Peaceful sleeping draught. He used that on nights when his nightmares became too much. He didn’t want to be dependent on it.
Draco watched the peacocks find some solace from the rain. He wasn’t bored, but he didn’t know what to do. His thoughts were too scattered to focus on a book. He didn’t feel like working on a potion or a similar creative project. All Draco wanted to do was sleep. He didn’t care how it sounded. It was something he wanted to do more than anything. The one thing he could think to do now.
Draco had heard about all the students in his year going back to Hogwarts to complete their last year, but he didn’t know if they would allow him back. He wanted to finish his last year, but he knew it wouldn’t be easy.
Draco closed his eyes and stepped away from the window. He passed the library when a house-elf walked up to him. The house-elf bowed low with her nose inches from the ground. “Good afternoon, Young Master Malfoy.”
“Good afternoon, Miffy,” Draco said.
“Mistress Narcissa would like to speak with you,” Miffy said, wringing her hands nervously.
“She only said it was important, sir…”
“Alright, where is she?”
“She’s in the living room.”
“Okay.” Draco walked away from Miffy who sighed in relief.
At least she’s not in her room today, Draco thought.
After the war, Narcissa didn’t take her fall from the society high life very well. Lucius’ trial didn’t help matters and her worry for Draco’s welfare was the topping on the cake. Narcissa was on a cocktail of potions, but it was the crocheting that had really worried him. He was still getting used to it.
Narcissa looked up from her book and smiled. “Hello, dear. How are you?”
Tired, drowsy, I want to do nothing more than just lay down and sleep, Draco thought, but said, “I’m fine, Mother. How are you?”
“I’m doing fine today.” Narcissa placed the book down, and rested her hands in her lap. “Draco I have a question to ask you.”
“Are you able to leave the house?”
Draco nodded. “I can leave, but I’m not allowed to use magic.” As part of the probation, he could walk around the Manor, but couldn’t go into Diagon Alley. He’d break it for Narcissa.
“I may have to ask someone else to do this. I don’t want you to get in trouble.”
“Mum, I can’t get into any more trouble. Whatever it is, I can do it.”
Narcissa looked at him warily before nodding. “Alright, I need some things from Diagon Alley and thought you could go for me, through we could have them delivered if that would be easier.”
“Will they send it to us? I remember our last package didn’t arrive on time,” Draco said. “When it finally did, it was mangled and torn apart. I’m surprised the contents survived the trip.”
Narcissa frowned lightly at the memory and nodded slowly. “Yes, I know. I don’t know what to do. Our healer told me we could pick up our potions from this shop in Diagon Alley. She told me they were trying something new. She gave us the option to have them sent here as well. I know you can't leave, but maybe we should have the healer bring our potions to us. What do you think?”
Draco thought about the different options. He could go to Diagon Alley and break probation. Or the healer could do their job and deliver the potions.
“Mum, are any of these items personal?” Draco asked.
Narcissa shook her head lightly. “No, just a refill on a couple of potions, that’s all. Maybe a robe, a bracelet, and another book to read. I would like some more yarn too. I’m almost done with this blanket.” She walked over to the chair where an uncompleted blanket of silver and green sat on the edge. The colors made Draco smile lightly. He walked over to Narcissa and touched the blanket slowly, not knowing if he should laugh or be concerned that his mother made a blanket.
Instead, Draco placed his hand on the blanket. “It’s lovely, Mum.”
Narcissa smiled. “Thank you, dear. Well what do you think we should do?”
“Let’s have one of the house-elves to do it,” Draco said.
“Yes, that sounds like a good idea. We can send Miffy. She’s fast and very obedient.”
“We can reward her with the chocolate biscuits,” Draco said.
Narcissa beamed. “Wonderful. Let me go fetch her. She shouldn’t be too far away.” She turned from the sofa and made her way towards the hallway. Draco watched her sway slightly before walking normal again. It was so slight, that only someone who knew her well would see her grace falter. Draco looked back at the blanket. He ran his fingers along the edge slowly. He frowned the motion didn’t calm him down this time.
Draco knew the gossip that he should be in Azkaban. That Narcissa should join him and Lucius should rot. Sure his father wasn’t the best, but Draco didn’t want him to rot. Draco wanted the other death eaters, the ones responsible for his nightmares, to rot. He only wished he could unleash the same pain on them. The same pain affecting his family now.
Draco didn’t realize how hard his grip on the blanket was until Narcissa’s voice broke through his thoughts. He looked up at Narcissa’s concerned eyes.
“Draco, are you okay?”
Draco looked up at Narcissa’s concerned eyes. He managed a nod and relaxed his grip on the blanket. “I’m fine, Mum. I was just thinking, that’s all.”
Narcissa nodded, but her eyes displayed her worry. Draco smoothed the blanket down on the couch and gave Narcissa a small, but reassuring grin. “Mother, do you want some tea? We can have the house-elves bring out your favorite flavor.”
“That sounds splendid, dear,” Narcissa said softly.
Draco nodded as he started walking to the dining room with Narcissa. He knew she wanted to go out shopping with her friends. Draco didn’t consider them worthy enough to be called that anymore. His feeling was backed by the pile of Howlers in Narcissa’s mail on the table. Draco didn’t know who received the most howlers during the day. His mother, his father, or himself each with the same claim and blame for what happened in the war, but Draco ignored the pile of ash in the place of his mail. He didn’t want to know who sent them and he was too tired to care.
“Mother, what would you like to eat?” Draco asked.
“Something light and airy. I’ll have to think about it.”
Draco knew her indecisiveness stemmed from Lucius not being there to add his opinion. Another by product from the stress of the war. He worried about the potions and the affect on her mind. He waited for Narcissa to place orders in Madam Marceline’s exquisite jewels soon. It would just take some time.
“Draco, what would you like to eat?” Narcissa asked.
“Something small,” Draco said as he walked in the dining room. “Perhaps a scone.”
He hoped it would stay down this time.
Harry looked outside the window of Ron’s room in the Burrow. Quidditch Weekly sat in his lap, it’s pages untouched. He watched Ron, Percy, and Charlie help Molly with the weeds in the garden. It was interesting watching Percy work around the house, doing whatever it took to make up for his previous behavior. He even accompanied Harry to Diagon Alley when he wanted to pick up something and checked out Fred and George’s shop.
Harry grinned at the memory of Percy’s first visit. Percy’s reaction was a mixture of pride and surprise at the objects Fred and George created. The section of Muggle magic toys made him swell with pride. The more mature jokes, pranks, and other types of toys made him flush. Harry laughed at the memory. It was one of the few things that made him laugh these days.
After the war, Harry didn’t know what to do. He was praised for saving the world and destroying Voldemort. However, he was haunted by the memories of how the goal was achieved. Harry still remembered everything as vividly as the day it happened. He could still feel the pain of being told Tonks and Remus died in the battle leaving a little boy in their wake. Harry could still see the arguments between him, Ron, and Hermione over things. Sometimes he dreamed of different Death Eaters in all their glory torturing his friends, killing his family, and making him watch.
During those times, Harry would take a walk to clear his head. But there were also times when he needed something stronger than a walk. He only used that on nights when the deceased Dark Lord. Harry wished he could fall asleep, but sometimes he didn’t. He didn’t know if everything would be there once he woke up. Some nights he would stare out the window and wonder how the other families were doing. How others who lost their loved ones were faring.
Harry didn’t know his place in the Wizarding world now that the Dark Lord was defeated and they were at peace. Ever since he was eleven, he knew he was destined to destroy the Dark Lord. At sixteen, he knew about the Horcruxes and that it was his task to destroy them. Now at eighteen, the Dark Lord was gone and he didn’t have a job to do anymore. Harry didn’t know whether to be relaxed or to be on guard for an even bigger threat.
Harry closed the magazine and placed it on Ron’s bed before resting his chin in his hand. He closed his eyes, but opened them when he felt sleepy. Harry tried to get into a routine, find a hobby, or something to do, but he couldn’t find anything. Except Teddy. He loved watching Teddy and spending time with Andromeda.
Teddy could always put a smile on his face. No matter how bad he was feeling. Harry spent the majority of his time with Teddy and Andromeda. He could sit for hours and listen to Andromeda’s stories of her time at Hogwarts. He found it funny that Professor McGonagall hadn’t change very much. Teddy was growing more and more every day and Harry enjoyed the way Teddy’s face lit up when someone smiled at him. It was better than the haunted look in Harry’s eyes.
He grew to hate mirrors and any reflective surface after the war. The state of his hair and the look in his eyes never changed. Harry didn’t see the reason to use the cursed things, especially one with its own opinion.
Harry smiled at the memory of his recent visit. Teddy had clung to his shirt while he talked to Andromeda. He knew she was worried about him. Andromeda reminded him constantly that he didn’t have an obligation to watch Teddy. In turn, Harry reminded Andromeda that he didn’t see it as an obligation; he saw it as the highlight of his day. Besides he liked being called a godfather, it made him quite happy.
A soft rapt on the doorframe took Harry’s attention away from the window. He turned to Hermione, who have him a soft smile. “Hi, Harry.”
“Hi, Hermione. How are you? How are your parents?” Harry asked. He remembered Hermione’s journey to find her parents. It took over three months of searching, but she found them safe and sound. Mr. and Mrs. Granger returned to England to resume their daily lives. Harry was happy for her. It was one of the good things to happen after the war.
“They’re fine. We’re going to have a vacation soon,” Hermione said as she walked into the room.
“Sounds nice. Where do you plan to go?” Harry asked.
Hermione shrugged slightly. “I don’t know. Somewhere tropical would be nice.” She took a seat on the bed, placing her hands in her lap. “So Harry, do you have any plans for today?”
“Not really. I have to speak at two memorials. Then I’m going to see Teddy, but I have nothing else planned. Why?”
“We were thinking of going out for dinner. You know, to give Mrs. Weasley a break,” Hermione said.
Harry chuckled softly. “Will she let that happen?”
Hermione smiled. “Mr. Weasley is making some progress so we’re hoping she says yes.” Her expression grew fond as she looked at the garden and the little garden gnomes through the window. Harry knew Hermione was trying to figure out something to say to lift his spirits.
“Would you like to join us? It’ll be fun,” Hermione said.
Harry shrugged indifferently. “I don’t know. Maybe.”
“Come on, Harry, you have to do more than speak at memorials,” Hermione said.
“I babysit Teddy,” Harry countered.
“Yes, you do,” Hermione said. “But I know Andromeda has told you to do something more. Something that you like, right?”
Harry opened his mouth to say something, then closed it. He could see the small look of triumph in Hermione’s eyes when he didn’t respond. Hermione cleared her throat. “We would really love it if you would join us. You don’t have to stay too long. If you get tired, Charlie, the twins, or Ron and I can take you home.”
“Is everyone going to be there?” Harry asked.
“Yes, but don’t worry,” Hermione said. “Ginny won’t ask you any questions. It’ll just be a relaxing night for family and friends.”
Harry closed his mouth again. Hermione answered the biggest question on his mind. There was another one he had when Hermione started talking once more. “The press won’t know. We can change your appearance if you want. Fred and George are doing really well with that new gum that changes your appearance. We have some Polyjuice Potion that can change you into Cousin Eric. That’s what Fred told me.”
Harry chuckled softly, unable to get angry at Hermione for attempting to get him out of the house. He tried to stay away from the public sphere as much as possible. The reporters harassed him at every public appearance he made and he tried to keep his appearances down to a minimum, but it was impossible to hide from the world forever.
Harry turned to Hermione, giving her a friendly smile. “Alright, I’ll go.”
“If you don’t want to do that then we can-wait what did you say?” Hermione asked in mid sentence.
“I’ll go. It sounds nice,” Harry said.
Hermione’s smiled happily, placing a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “That sounds marvelous. Let’s go tell the others.”
“Alright, but let me change first before I go downstairs. I know Mrs. Weasley would kill me if she saw me in my pajamas.”
Hermione nodded with a giggle. “She would, alright, I’ll let you change. I’ll come back when you’re done.”
When the door shut behind Hermione, Harry sighed lightly. He didn’t feel like doing anything, but at the same time wanted to do everything. It was a vicious cycle, but Harry couldn’t stop it. After changing into his clothes he checked the wards around Ron’s room and out in the garden. When everything was to his liking, he called Hermione back in the room.
Hermione walked in with a smile. “You look like you’re ready to go.”
“As ready as I can be,” Harry said.
Hermione cast a concerned look towards Harry, but didn’t say anything more. She nodded, turning around to go towards the landing. Harry walked out the room and closed the door behind him.
* * *
When Harry walked into the kitchen he was greeted by warm welcomes from everyone. Fred offered him a seat while Ron asked if he wanted something to drink. Harry politely declined the offer until Molly placed a plate of food in front of him. Harry looked up to protest, but stopped at the pointed look from Molly. Resigned to his fate, Harry ate the plate of stew and quietly asked for a glass of water.
Fred smiled. “We knew you couldn’t hold out for long. So what’s on the agenda for today?”
“I have another memorial to attend. Then I have to speak at the memorial for the house-elves who lost their lives in battle,” Harry said, pushing his food around.
“What are you doing afterwards, dear?” Molly asked, trying to lighten the mood.
“I’m going to go visit Teddy and Andromeda today. Teddy is becoming so big. He’s already trying to feed himself. Well, more food ends up on me, but Teddy ends up full in the end,” Harry said, smiling.
“That sounds wonderful, Harry. I’ll have to see him soon. To give you and Andromeda some free time. It’ll be good for you,” Molly said.
Harry’s jaw tightened. The idea of being alone with his thoughts didn’t sound appealing. He used one of his fail safe excuses, “I have therapy to go to.”
“Well, isn’t there a day you’ll be free?” Molly asked.
Harry shrugged. “I think so. I have to check the schedule again.”
“Well check it soon. The Ministry has to give you a break after all,” Molly said, walking around the kitchen.
Arthur nodded. “They will, don’t worry, Molly. So Harry, do you keep up with any of your mates from school?”
Harry nodded behind a spoonful of potatoes. “I talk to Neville and Luna, sometimes, but that’s it. Tell me, did I get anything from them today?” He looked up expectantly from his food.
George shook his head. “Sorry, nothing today, but you got the usual letters. You know praise, wedding offers, and gifts.”
“How many love potions today?” Harry asked.
“Five – well, six. One was hidden in the gifts,” Fred said.
Harry shook his head and tried to swallow another spoonful of meat and potatoes. After the war, his popularity skyrocketed if that was even possible. The Daily Prophet published a new article about him daily. People sent letters praising his heroics and they sent gifts as a way of thanks. Some of the craftier ones sent love potions hidden as regular potions.
If Harry didn’t check them, he would become a permanent member of St. Mungo’s for all the different witches who wanted him. A couple of wizards as well, but Hermione and the twins helped him hide those. It would be horrible for his preferences to come out, especially with Ginny asking about their relationship. A question he wasn’t ready to answer at that moment.
Harry looked over at Ginny. He could see her trying to resist the urge to pull him aside and ask him again. Harry quickly brought up another topic. “So, Hermione told me about dinner?”
“Yes, it’s been awhile since we ate out. I thought it would be a good idea, especially with Bill and Charlie home,” Arthur said.
“I don’t see why. We have enough food here for a feast and more.” Molly wasn’t hiding the anger in her voice.
“We know dear, but we thought we should give you a break. It would be nice to see Diagon Alley at night again,” Arthur said wistfully.
Molly huffed. “This isn’t a date, Arthur. I know how nice Diagon Alley is at night, but think of all the people that will be there. I don’t feel like hexing a reporter again.”
Harry bit back a laugh at the memory of that poor reporter who thought he could catch Harry when he visited Fred at St. Mungo’s. Before he could deny any rumors, Molly ended it with an enlargement hex. The reporter had to check into St. Mungo’s for a case of enlarged lips. After that Harry never had to worry about reporters swarming around St. Mungo’s again.
“Oh, come on, Mum,” Fred said. “Hexing reporters keeps them on their toes.”
George nodded. “They’d get soft without you on the case, Mum.”
Molly shot them a pointed look. “Oh hush you two, now. I don’t know. Will we be able to get to the restaurant peacefully?”
“I’m sure we can. There’s always that Polyjuice Potion we have ready,” George said.
“Hermione told me about that, but I don’t think I need it. I can tolerate the press in small doses.” Harry murmured into his glass.
Molly looked over at him in concern. “Dear, we don’t have to go unless you want to. I’m fine cooking a meal. I’ll even cook your favorites.”
“No, it’s fine, Mrs. Weasley. I can get through dinner. If anything happens, there are plenty of places for me to slip out and not be seen. I can always go to the Leaky Cauldron. I know they won’t mind.”
The worry on Molly’s face didn’t disappear from at the reassurance in Harry’s words. She wiped her hands on her apron and placed them on Arthur’s shoulders. “Dear, you know we will do anything to make you comfortable. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.”
“It’s fine. I want to,” Harry said. “My, um, therapist recommended that blending back into society will be good. I already make appearances at funerals and memorials, going to a restaurant would be a nice change of scenery. I can get fresh air too.”
Molly looked as if she wanted to object again, until she saw the determination in Harry’s eyes. She looked around the kitchen noticing the question in everyone’s eyes. Molly sighed turning a kind smile to Harry. “Okay, we’ll go out tonight.”
The kitchen erupted into cheers when Molly cut it. “Only for tonight. I don’t think I need a break, but if Harry wants to go then we can go.”
“Brilliant, Mum, now all we need to do is…” Bill started when a scream echoed around the kitchen. Everyone, except Fred and George, looked up in surprise. Harry dropped his spoon and jumped to his feet. “What’s that? Is everything okay?”
Fred and George were at his side immediately. “No worry, Harry. It’s just Percy.”
Harry turned his wild eyes to the twins, his hand gripping the wand tightly in his pocket. “Are you sure? What’s wrong with him?”
“Well…” Fred started when Percy stalked into the kitchen. He shot a glare at Fred and George who gave him cheeky grins in return. Percy received pranks daily. The twins mentioned it was Percy’s initiation back into the family
“Will you please explain to me why, in Merlin’s name, my hair is changing colors?” Percy said, his hair going from red to blue to lime green. Everyone around the table laughed as they watched Percy’s hair turn blue. Even Percy started laughing when he realized it had turned yellow. Molly walked over to Percy, taking the wet yellow strands in her hand.
“What happened?” Molly exclaimed.
“I was washing my hair with my normal shampoo in the shower. When I dried off, the mirror started laughing at me. I didn’t know why until I checked my reflection. There is something to change my hair, back right?” Percy said as his hair turned purple.
“You mean to tell me you don’t like the changes we made to your shampoo?” Fred asked.
“We thought it would go well with your new personality, Perce,” George said.
Percy glared. “I know I didn’t say anything about the garden snake in my trousers, the glasses illusion, and the gum that changed my breath. However, I cannot agree with the change in my shampoo. I would like the antidote immediately.”
“I don’t know, Percy. I think pink is more your color,” Ron said in between laughs.
Percy’s cheeks tinged pink as he noticed of the pink strand in front of his face.
“You heard your brother! Give him the shampoo to change it. If we’re going out, we’re going to look our best,” Molly said, marveling as the strands in her hand turned white.
At the sight of the white blond hair, Harry thought about Malfoy. A quick thought about his well being filtered through his mind before he hastily pushed it out. He didn’t need to think about something unpleasant in a happy moment. Harry’s mind went to another blonde instead. He felt better at the thought of Luna’s well-being. Harry turned his attention back to the scene in front of him.
“Fred, George, give me the right shampoo this time,” Percy said sternly.
Fred chuckled. “Alright, alright we’ll give you the right one.”
“Yeah, yeah, keep your shirt on.” George walked over to the stairs with Fred.
Percy huffed and pushed his glasses up his nose. “Well I wouldn’t be upset if my shampoo wasn’t switched. That shampoo is formulated with…”
Fred turned around waving away Percy’s statement. “We know, we know. Please spare us the lecture about your shampoo.”
Percy flushed as his hair turned a deep blue. He adjusted his glasses. “Yes, well, at least you know. It better not be another experiment,” he muttered, going up the stairs.
Harry sat back taking his hand off his wand. He was relieved that it was nothing big, just another prank by the twins. He did wonder why he’d thought about Malfoy. Harry turned back to his food pushing that thought aside once again. He had a memorial to go to in a few minutes. Harry would need his energy.
* * *
After having tea with Narcissa, Draco walked to his room for the first time since the war ended. The rain continued to come down heavily upon the windows and Narcissa’s roses. Draco couldn’t help, but notice how the weather reflected the mood in the house. The daily arrival of howlers and poisoned items did nothing to improve Narcissa’s spirits. Draco snapped at a house-elf to take the items away. The longer they stayed on the table, the deeper Narcissa would fall into depression.
It hurt Draco to see Narcissa so lost. He wanted to do something, anything, to make her happy again. But the only thing that would make her happy was something Draco couldn’t get. After everything Lucius had done during the war, Draco would be shocked if they didn’t sentence Lucius to the Dementor’s kiss. He hoped they didn’t for that would be the breaking point for Narcissa. It was something Draco didn’t need to see.
Draco opened the door to his room, taking in his neatly made bed, clean desk, Slytherin colors on the walls, and the other mementos from Hogwarts. His mind drifted to his housemates. Draco wondered if he could still call them friends. Well Pansy, Blaise, Theodore, and Goyle could qualify for that. He wrote to Pansy daily.
Pansy was going through her own batch of media scrutiny. Pansy’s mother was acquitted of the charges against her. Her father, however, was charged with the torture of several Muggles and wizards. According to Pansy, the trial was going to happen soon. Draco hoped it would go by quickly without too much media attention, but that was a hopeful wish at best.
The Ministry granted Blaise community service in exchange for information involving the war. In the last letter Draco received, Blaise described his work at the Wizarding library in England.
Draco didn’t think Blaise would continue, but his honor was at stake. Blaise wouldn’t tarnish that for all the galleons in his vault. Draco heard Blaise’s mother was working her way through the social circuit once again. Ms. Zabini would have a new husband soon, one that would improve her reputation in the Wizarding World once again.
Theodore’s father, Alec, sparked as many articles as Lucius. Aurors found Alec Nott hiding in the outskirts of England trying to sell bootleg potions and cursed items under the ruse of fine jewelry. It wasn’t easy trying to get Alec to go to jail without a fight. After the near death of two Aurors and the destruction of the street, Aurors finally put Alec away.
Alec’s trial was a couple of days after Lucius’. The media made sure to leave nothing out about either trial. Draco found it amazing how much time wizards and witches had on their hands. The last letter Draco received from Theodore he was living with his aunt until the trial blew over. Draco made a note to write to him soon.
Draco didn’t hear much from Goyle. He wrote letters, but received the same response. Goyle assured Draco, he was fine, alive, and trying to avoid the press as much as possible. Draco knew Goyle left out one important thing, Crabbe. Goyle refused to talk about Crabbe, even when they met at the Ministry on the day of Draco’s hearing. Draco knew Goyle missed Crabbed, but he couldn’t bear to bring it up; he was still dealing with that death as well. The last letter he received from Goyle said that the trial for his father was coming soon. That was two weeks ago and Draco hadn’t heard from him since.
Draco knew Goyle wasn’t dead, it hadn’t been announced in the paper, but he knew Goyle was nervous about the verdict. Who wasn’t? Draco looked over his room feeling a cold chill enter his body when he looked over at the curtains. They were still ripped from Greyback’s claws. He leaned against the doorframe as different memories entered his mind. The screams from the dungeons the cause for Greyback’s howls and Bellatrix’s haunting laughter. The way Greyback looked at him when he thought Draco was sleeping.
How Greyback ripped the curtains to scare him. Bellatrix’s laughter in the way Draco jumped or the way he squirmed away when any Death Eater was near. Draco slid down to the floor closing his eyes as the room spun around him. He gripped the doorframe, “MIFFY! MIFFY!”
The house-elf Apparated instantly to Draco’s side, her large brown eyes grew bigger at the ashy color of Draco’s skin.
“Young, Master Malfoy!”
“MY POTION! NOW!”
Miffy squeaked. “Yes, sir!” She Apparated away and was a back a second later with a vial of blue liquid. She ran over to Draco, placing the vial in his hand. Draco pulled the top of with his teeth, downing the potion quickly. He was so lost in his memories he didn’t hear Narcissa calling him.
“Draco, I heard you scream is everything--Draco!” Narcissa exclaimed, going over to Draco’s slouched form. She wrapped him in a tight hug pulling him away from his room. Draco started trembling and he gripped her arms tightly. Narcissa rocked Draco back and forth slowly the same way she did when he was a child. She turned to Miffy. “Make sure Draco does not enter this room again.”
Miffy nodded. “Yes, ma’am! Will the young master be okay?”
Narcissa looked down at Draco and the tears rolling down his cheeks. She pulled him closer, her own tears falling on her blouse.
“He will be,” Narcissa whispered. She continued rocking Draco until he fell into an uneasy sleep. She had three more house-elves put him to bed in one of the guest rooms. Narcissa sat on the couch in the room, staring at Draco sadly.
* * *
After lunch and the battle of the shampoo, Harry made his way back to Ron’s room. He had to speak at the memorial for the fallen students at the Battle of Hogwarts. He was not looking forward to that. Harry sighed, smoothing down the black dress robes slowly. After the memorial, he had to go speak at another one for the house-elves who had lost their lives during the Second Wizarding War.
The thought of seeing Dobby’s name among others brought tears to Harry’s eyes. He tried to blink them away, but it didn’t work. Harry felt the familiar ache in his chest as tears rolled down his cheeks.
“Harry, are you ready?” Hermione asked gently.
Harry looked up to Hermione and Ron in the doorway. He hastily wiped his tears away with the back of his hand. “Yeah.”
Harry didn’t have much to say. He opted to look outside the window again.
Hmm looks like it might rain soon. Harry thought. At least the weather was ready.
* * *
Draco opened his eyes slowly, the events from earlier replaying in his mind. He sighed softly sitting up in bed. He ran a hand through his hair swinging his legs over the bed. Draco walked to the bathroom and looked over noticing his mother sleeping on the sofa.
Two years ago, they would have been in the garden enjoying lunch. Now they were in the guest room of their house, their nerves too bad to go into their own rooms and relax. Draco sighed, walking over to the sofa. He placed a kiss on Narcissa’s cheek before walking back over to the bed.
There was bowl of soup, a few pieces of bread, and a cup of water on the night table. Draco didn’t have much of an appetite, but he couldn’t skip another meal. He didn’t want to add to Narcissa’s worry. He broke a piece of bread off to dip in the soup. Draco ate slowly, the food sliding tasteless down his throat. On the third piece of bread he out the window.
I see it’s still raining. Draco swallowed some more soup I wonder if it’s raining where Potter is. He shook his head at the thought, focusing on his meal with a new vigor. He didn’t eat faster, but concentrated on swallowing each drop. Draco placed the empty glass on the plate.
“Did the young master enjoy his meal?”
Draco looked over at Bizzy, another house-elf who worked with Miffy. “It was manageable.”
“Was there something the young master did not like?” Bizzy said, tugging on her ears nervously.
“No, the meal was to my liking, thank you.” It was bad enough he wanted to hurt himself, he didn’t need to see the elf actually do it.
Bizzy calmed down immediately. She nodded. “Is there anything else young master needs?”
“No, but make sure my mother eats.”
Draco looked over at Narcissa before turning back to Bizzy. “I do not require anything at this moment. I will call if I need something.”
“Yes, sir,” Bizzy said.
Draco couldn’t change with Narcissa in the room. He would have to ask one of the house-elves to escort her to another guest room later. A wave of exhaustion stopped Draco from doing anything else, so he slid under the covers stifling a yawn behind his hand. Bizzy took the plate and put Draco’s potion in its place. She checked on Narcissa before walking out the room. Draco turned over eyeing the potion on the nightstand. He debated on taking it, but decided against it. He only managed to loosen two buttons on his shirt before falling asleep.
* * *
The memorial was a respectable affair. Harry sat in the second row with Hermione and Ron, and watched the wizard leading the service speak highly of the students. He kept his eyes away from Dennis and his family, as long as he could. Harry finished the speech. Despite the lump in his throat he successfully kept the tears at bay. He apologized to the Creevey family before going back to his seat.
Harry the lost look on Dennis’ face would haunt him for a while. He was glad Hermione and Ron were there for support; grateful he hadn’t lost their support during the war. Harry didn’t think he would be able to speak at the memorial otherwise.
The memorial for the house-elves was harder than Harry thought it would be. He couldn’t stop the tears from falling during the speech. Memories of Dobby and how he helped them escape traveled through his mind throughout the ceremony. Hermione’s grip on his hand and Ron’s hand on his shoulder kept Harry’s breakdown at bay. Hermione dabbed her eyes and although Ron kept his face passive, he couldn’t hide the pain in his eyes.
Harry returned to the Burrow mentally exhausted. At least he had two happier events to look forward to. Hermione looked over in concern. “Harry, will you be alright to see Teddy?”
“Yeah I’m just a little tired, but it’s nothing too bad.”
“Are you sure? We did go to two funerals in one day. It wouldn’t be strange to rest after all that,” Ron said.
“I’m fine. Besides I told Andromeda that I’ll be there,” Harry said.
“You can always cancel. She’ll understand,” Hermione said gently.
Harry shook his head. “No, I’m not going to. It wouldn’t be right. Besides Teddy will be upset if I don’t show up.”
“Hermione, I know. I should rest and take it easy, but I’m fine. I’m not sleepy. Tired, but not sleepy. I promise I’ll take a nap if I need to, but I’m alright. Don’t worry.” Harry tried to smile reassuringly. He hoped it worked. Hermione bit her lip, fighting the urge to speak again. Before she could think of something Ron stepped up placing a hand on Harry’s shoulder.
“We’ll take your word for it, mate,” Ron said.
“No problem. Want to play chess? I got this brilliant chess set from Charlie and I’ve been waiting to trying it out,” Ron said, walking into the house. Harry and Hermione followed behind him.
Harry nodded. “Sure thing. It sounds great.”
They entered a conversation about Fred and George’s new products at the shop. Harry was content to listen to Ron and Hermione go back and forth over the benefits of vanishing vanillas and coughing caramels. Hermione and Ron were on the second round of discussion when they were greeted by Percy.
“Hello, Percy. Hey your hair is back to normal,” Harry said.
“Yes, they finally gave me the antidote. My hair may be back to normal, but I can’t go back into that bathroom for a while. That mirror won’t stop laughing at me.”
Harry chuckled as Percy gave an exasperated sigh. Percy looked over noticing Ron and Hermione’s bickering. He turned to Harry. “What’s the topic they’re bickering about today?”
“The benefits of the new lollies in the joke shop. Hermione doesn’t see many positive ones. Ron sees nothing but positive benefits. I don’t know who’s in the lead. I wasn’t keeping score,” Harry said.
Percy smiled. “I guess what the twins told me about their arguments were right.”
“Have we ever steered you wrong?” Fred said, walking in the living room with George.
“I don’t have enough time to count the ways you two steered me wrong,” Percy said, adjusting his frames.
“I wouldn’t say steered wrong, but in the direction you needed to go,” George said.
“Of course.” Percy smiled wryly.
Fred and George laughed as Harry cracked a smile. It was much needed distraction from earlier.
“Oh, Harry, you have a letter from Luna and another letter from a secret admirer,” George said.
“Where’s the letter?” Harry asked.
“On the kitchen table. We placed the one from your admirer in the pile,” Fred said.
“You did get the object didn’t you?” Percy asked.
“Yes, we did,” George said. “Don’t worry, Perce, we won’t leave it out for you to find.”
“This time,” Fred mumbled as George chuckled in agreement. Percy eyed the twins warily. “Okay, I don’t need to go through that again.”
“Oh I don’t know. It did help you get in touch with your romantic side,” Fred said.
“I didn’t know you had one in you,” George added.
“Percy, you know I wasn’t offended by it right. I thought it was hilarious.” Harry didn’t like that Percy felt so uncomfortable about the incident.
Percy’s cheeks tinged pink as he quickly adjusted his glasses. “I know, Harry, but it was my fault. I should have checked it before hand. I just thought it was one of the objects not sorted in the pile.”
“Wait! Did Percy admit he was wrong?” Fred asked.
“Maybe the world is ending,” George said.
“Maybe the effects of the love potion are still working.” Fred made a show of checking Percy’s temperature.
“Be quiet.” Percy shot the twins a glare.
Harry laughed. He didn’t know Percy was still embarrassed over the pendant incident. Harry had received a pendant from a rabid fan that was supposed to make him fall in love when he touched it. However, the person performed the charm wrong. Harry didn’t fall in love with anyone when he touched the pendant; whoever touched the pendant fell in love with Harry instead. Percy happened to touch the pendant and ended up falling for Harry.
The effects wore off after eight hours, but Percy’s courting technique was very nice. Harry didn’t know he knew so many romantic poems. When the potion wore off, Percy didn’t remember much of what he did. However, Fred and George remembered in full detail what had happened. It took Harry two hours to talk Percy out of his room. Percy took full notice of the items from then on.
Harry’s laughter quieted down when Luna’s letter poked through his thoughts.
“I’ll be back in a minute. I’m going to go get Luna’s letter,” Harry said.
“Alright, we’ll be here teasing Percy and the lovebirds too,” Fred said as George smiled.
Harry chuckled. “Try to go easy on them.”
“We’ll try,” Fred said.
“No guarantees though, mate,” added George.
Harry was still laughing when he entered the kitchen. He figured Molly was trying to get Arthur out of the garage again. Bill was probably with Fleur and Charlie was somewhere in the house, possibly napping. Harry knew he would see them all soon. He walked over to the table, looking for a light blue envelope with clouds. Harry grinned triumphantly when he found it. It wasn’t hard to mistake in the crowd of white.
He ripped open the envelope and unfolded the parchment inside.
Thank you so much for asking about the Snergles. I haven’t seen any since last summer, but Father and I are making plans to go look for them soon. I hope to find one before the summer is up. If you have any time I welcome you to join us. The isles of Ireland are beautiful in the summertime. Ireland also has the perfect weather for Snergles and Husingbottoms. Husingbottoms only come out at night, but they are as bright as fireflies. It would be a wonderful sight to see.
I look forward to the upcoming school year. It will be nice to see you, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny again. Maybe we can have lunch by the lake if the weather isn’t too bad. Father and I don’t have to leave until the last two weeks in August when the Snergles and Husingbottoms will be out. I am going to get some supplies for our trip in Diagon Alley tomorrow. If you would like to join us we can get lunch and ice cream. There is a new flavor I want to try.
If you are unable to make it then I will see you on the Hogwarts Express. Father has talked about changing the date depending on how long the Snergles will stay in Ireland. When I see you I can give you more information about them. How is your summer, thus far? Have you spotted any Flurrieths? They happen to be in England this time of year. If you see one please tell me. We can find more together and they are quite beautiful.
Hope you’re having a wonderful summer. Tell everyone I wish them the same and a hello.
It will be nice to see you.
Harry smiled. He didn’t know half of the creatures Luna named, but it warmed his heart to see it again. They started their letters a few months after the war. Luna sent the first letter wanting to know about Harry and if he saw any Bergles in the surrounding area. Harry was so surprised that the question didn’t ask about the war, he sent an answer back immediately. He didn’t know what Bergles were and wanted to learn more. Luna sent a response, Harry replied, and they continued writing ever since. Harry liked writing with Luna. She didn’t ask about the war or praise him for it. Luna only asked about Skewrets, Bergles, and Flurrieths. It made Harry feel like things were going back to normal.
During Harry’s second reading of the letter, someone entered the kitchen. He looked up at the questioning eyes of Ginny. Ginny looked at the letter then back up at Harry. Harry swallowed. His elated mood suddenly lowered when Ginny looked at the letter again. An awkward silence fell between them as Harry tried to think of something to say, anything to say.
Ginny beat him to it. “So. How are you?”
Harry nodded. “Fine.”
“How is Luna?”
“She’s doing fine. She’s going to Ireland with her father soon. Sounds like a nice trip.”
“It does. Harry…I…couldn’t help, but notice that you two talk a lot.”
“Well she’s my friend and I don’t see her as often as I see you.”
“But you don’t talk to me as often as you do her.”
“Harry, are we ever going to…”
“Ginny, Percy needs your help.”
Ginny and Harry looked over in the doorway at Charlie. He leaned against the doorway casually looking between Ginny and Harry. Ginny sighed turning to Charlie. “What does he need help with?”
“He’s having a Quidditch debate with Fred, George, and Ron and he could use your help down there,” Charlie said.
“How come you can’t help?” Ginny asked.
“My mates in Romania wouldn’t like it if I switched teams all of a sudden,” Charlie said, smirking.
Ginny frowned at Charlie before sighing. “I better help him. Merlin knows Percy can’t stand long between the twins and Ron.” She turned to Harry. “Can we talk later?”
Harry nodded. “Sure.”
“Okay,” Ginny said, turning around to go to the living room. When she was out of sight, Harry let out a breath and collapsed in a chair by the table. He ran a nervous hand through his hair. “Man, I thought I wouldn’t be able to get out of that one. Thanks, Charlie.”
Charlie smiled. “No problem. I knew it was only a matter of time before Ginny popped. I had a feeling she was waiting for the right moment to pounce.”
Harry chuckled. “Yeah.” He looked down at the rumpled parchment, smoothing it out quickly.
Charlie took a seat next to Harry at the table. He beckoned to the letter. “Is she special to you?”
“Yes. A special friend. Luna is only my friend, but I don’t know how to describe that. Do you think I should…” Harry trailed off looking at the letter.
“I think you should do whatever makes you happy. You saved the world I think you deserve that much right?” Charlie grinned.
Harry nodded. “Yeah, I think so. I just want to take things one at a time, that’s all. That’s not too much, right?”
“Harry, if you wanted to declare a holiday you could and no one would question it. If you want to take things slow then you can. It’s your choice. Believe me don’t force yourself to do anything you don’t want to do. Okay?”
Harry looked up at Charlie, feeling something click inside him. He nodded slowly, “Okay. I won’t.”
“Good, so are you going to reply to your friend or help Percy? I’m going down to referee.”
“I’m going to reply to her now. I’ll be down to help Percy after. I think I’ll have enough time to do both before visiting Teddy,” Harry replied.
“Okay. We’ll see you down there.” Charlie clapped Harry on the shoulder before getting up. Harry watched Charlie walk downstairs, his good mood coming back slowly. He smiled softly as he looked at the letter. Harry walked upstairs going over the response in his mind. He didn’t feel bad about writing back to Luna today.
* * *
Draco sat up in bed rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and looked over at the couch. It was empty. Where in Merlin’s name was Narcissa? Last time she’d wandered off he’d found her trying to help the house-elves with the cooking. He was still amazed he’d managed to calm the damned creatures down.
Draco walked down the hallway going over places Narcissa could be in the manor. He stopped when he heard her voice in the sitting room. He turned in that direction, relieved that she wasn’t in the kitchen. As Draco approached the door, he heard another voice, a deeper, authoritative tone. He frowned, stopping at the front of the door. Draco pushed it opened slowly and slipped inside the room.
Narcissa looked up from the conversation and gave Draco a strained smile. “Hello, dear. You remember Auror Cunningham, don’t you?”
Draco looked over at the man sitting next to Narcissa. He forced a polite smile. “Yes, I do. Good afternoon, Auror Cunningham.”
“Good afternoon, Mr. Malfoy. I was just talking to your mother, if you would please join us,” he said, gesturing to the couch. Draco took a seat next to Narcissa. He hated these weekly meetings. The Ministry told them it was necessary to see if they were following the rules of their sentence. Draco knew the true motive. It was an excuse for the Ministry to spy on them. Just the smallest sign of Dark Magic would be reason for them to be carted away.
It made Draco sick. He hated every Auror that came by. He felt bad enough; he didn’t need to see their cold looks every week. Out of all the Aurors that visited, Draco loathed Samuel Cunningham the most.
When Draco settled next to Narcissa, Cunningham started talking again. “As I was telling your mother, because of the good behavior displayed during your sentence and the admittance of returning Hogwarts students, the Ministry has permitted you entry into Diagon Alley.”
Draco looked at Cunningham as if he had a second head. Did he just hear the news right?
“I’m allowed back into Diagon Alley? I thought I wasn’t allowed to leave,” Draco said tentatively. He didn’t want this to be a trick or another way to punish him.
Cunningham nodded. “You were allowed to leave under the rule of an emergency or something similar. However, with the upcoming school year, you’re allowed back into Diagon Alley. You will be allowed to shop for your school supplies and anything else you will need. Aurors will be placed around Diagon Alley for extra protection, but will not restrict you from entering any shop.”
Draco let the words turn in his head a minute. He could go back to Diagon Alley. Would he want to go back to Diagon Alley? Draco continued to think about the offer and didn’t not notice Narcissa’s worried look. Narcissa touched his arm gently. “Are you alright, dear? You can go back to Diagon Alley and shop. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?”
Draco nodded slowly. “Yes, it does.” He turned to Cunningham. “When does it go into effect?”
“When Minerva McGonagall sends us notice that she delivered your letter. After we receive it, we will allow you to shop in Diagon Alley and other places in the Wizarding World again. Any signs of trouble will be cause for immediate arrest and your sentence will be extended until the first day of the new Hogwarts school year. Is that clear?” Cunningham asked.
Draco nodded, his jaw tightening with the restrained anger coursing through him. If he lost any control, one of the vases would break. He didn’t want to do that to one of Narcissa’s favorites.
“I understand,” Draco said.
“Good,” Cunningham said. “We will have papers for you and your mother to sign upon the arrival of McGonagall’s letter. You are allowed to pick up medicine and the like, but no casual shopping is permitted. Do you understand?”
“Alright. During your time away, your mother will continue her sentence. However, she will be permitted to see you off at platform 9 ¾. Family and healers will be allowed to visit Narcissa during your absence. We will allow you to communicate with her by owl and Floo. Do you understand?” Cunningham asked again. He looked as if he was displeased by the orders, but continued to say them.
Draco noticed, but decided not to voice his opinion. “We understand.” He held back the urge to laugh at the thought of any family willing to see Narcissa.
“Yes we do,” Narcissa agreed.
“Good. Now as per procedure we will ask a series of questions about your week. You will be given Veritaserum to ensure the answers to these questions are correct. Are there any questions?” Cunningham asked.
“Yes. Why do we have to do this? Nothing has changed since the last week,” Draco said angrily.
Narcissa touched his arm calmly. “We have to do this dear. It’s procedure.”
“Mother,” Draco said, his true thought resting on the tip of his tongue.
“Your mother is right. If you don’t answer the following questions we will have reason to believe that you’re conspiring against the Ministry. If that’s the case then immediate arrest is necessary,” Cunningham said. Draco bit his tongue at the satisfaction in Cunningham’s voice.
Draco took a deep breath and exhaled it out of his nose. “Alright. Let the questioning begin.”
“Okay. As per procedure we have to issue Veritaserum to make sure you’re telling the truth.” Cunningham reached into his bag, pulling out a familiar phial of clear liquid. “Now we can put it in your tea or you can take it without anything. What do you want to do?”
“I would like mine with tea,” Narcissa said.
“I just want it,” Draco said.
Cunningham nodded. “Very well.” He placed the right amount in Narcissa cup, handing the phial to Draco. Narcissa drank her tea as Draco took the right amount. Draco hated the haze that followed, but it was the only way to make Cunningham leave faster. That’s the one thing Draco wanted the most.
When Cunningham could see the haze in Draco and Narcissa’s eyes he started the questioning.
“Have you had any contact with anyone this past week?”
“No,” Narcissa and Draco said.
“What type of mail have you received?”
“Howlers, poisoned items, and a letter from the judge overseeing Lucius’ trial. Nothing more has arrived to the manor,” Narcissa said.
“Besides healers, who has entered the manor?”
“No one has entered the manor besides our scheduled healer,” Draco said.
“Have you read any books containing Dark material?”
“No,” they replied.
“Any feeling from the Dark Mark?”
Draco gripped his arm before shaking his head. “No, there has been nothing.”
“Have you tried to use any unauthorized spells or magic of any kind?”
“We only used the standard magic for the wards and the manor. We haven’t used anything else,” Narcissa said.
“Any attempts to purchase a wand?”
“No,” Narcissa and Draco said.
“Any attempts to use a wand?”
“Have you sent any letters?”
“No,” Narcissa said.
“I have sent letters to Pansy Parkinson, Blaise Zabini, and Gregory Goyle,” Draco said.
“What was the content in the letters?”
“I asked them about their well being and the upcoming trials for their family. I didn’t ask anything else,” Draco said.
“Were there plans of any kind?”
Cunningham finished scribbling on his parchment before looking back up. “In the letters you sent the individuals, did you receive any Dark items of any kind?”
“What did you receive?”
“Nothing. They asked about my well being, the well being of my mother, and if I was going back to Hogwarts. We exchanged nothing else,” Draco said.
Cunningham scribbled on his parchment, but didn’t hide the disappointment in his eyes. Draco knew he wanted something interesting to take back to the Ministry. He wanted something he could use against them because it was unbelievable that they weren’t doing anything wrong.
Draco wished he could hex Cunningham back to the Ministry, but if he did anything Narcissa would suffer and he didn’t want that.
After scribbling on his parchment for a few more minutes Cunningham looked up again. “Okay. I’ll take these answers back to the Ministry. Until then you will continue to be under house arrest. Draco may leave, but Narcissa, you cannot. You may send letters and communicate with others. However, at any sign of suspicion the Ministry can step in and arrest you. Are these rules understood?”
Draco and Narcissa nodded. “Yes, we understand.”
“Well this has been a pleasant visit. I will not be here next week. Mrs. Watson will take my place.”
“Of course,” Narcissa said as Draco nodded. Great I have to deal with her and her disapproving looks around our house. Like her little hobby is any better. “I look forward to her visit.”
Cunningham nodded, standing up from his seat. He grabbed his notes off the table, tucking them away in his robe. Cunningham turned to Draco and Narcissa with another nod. “Have a nice afternoon. I’ll see myself out.”
Draco crossed his arms as he watched Cunningham walk out. “Mother, why do we have to go through these weekly visits? I thought the Ministry didn’t consider us a threat anymore.”
Narcissa gripped her skirt lightly. “They don’t, but the Ministry feels it necessary because of your father’s trial. I’m sure it will let up once we finish our sentence.”
Draco uncrossed his arms relaxing against the couch. “I look forward to that day.”
“I do as well, but we received some good news. You can leave and shop for your school supplies. Isn’t that nice dear?” Narcissa said, smiling.
“It’s great mum. I can get whatever we need from Diagon Alley now.”
“It’s wonderful news. I wonder when McGonagall will send the letter,” Narcissa said, relaxing against the couch.
If I get a letter. “I don’t know, but I’m sure it will be soon. Headmistress McGonagall is known for her timely responses,” Draco said.
“I can’t wait for it. You can go back and finish your time at Hogwarts. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?” Narcissa said happily.
Draco couldn’t break his mother’s good mood. Instead, he smiled and nodded. “Yes, Mother that sounds fantastic.”
* * *
“Well, Percy, I think we’re going to have to take you to a match so can see which team is better,” Fred said.
“Did you ever watch a game?” George asked.
“I did when I wasn’t busy.” Percy huffed.
“Translation: I never saw one,” Fred said as George agreed. Percy frowned as Charlie laughed. “There’s no rush. We can get a schedule from Qudditch Weekly and pick a game. It’s never too late to see your first Quidditch game.”
“Brilliant! We can make a day out of it,” Ron said.
“Wait. Will we have enough time to go before school? It wouldn’t be good to miss the first day. Not to mention we have to go shopping for our school supplies.” Hermione was looking worried.
“Don’t worry I’m sure we can make it in time,” Harry said. “We can go tomorrow.”
“Are you doing anything?” Ron asked.
Harry shook his head. “No, I’m free. Luna told me she’s going to be there tomorrow and we can join her.”
“Let’s do that. It’s been awhile since we saw Luna,” Hermione said.
“Can I come? I mean I should get started on my school shopping too,” Ginny finished quickly, ignoring curious looks from the twins and Charlie.
Harry hid his nervousness behind a smile. “Sure you can, Ginny. It is a bit early to start looking for school supplies, though.”
“There’s nothing wrong with starting early,” Hermione said.
Harry shared a chuckle with Ron before taking a glance at the clock. His eyes widened slightly at the time. “Oh man, I’m late. I better get to Andromeda’s before she thinks I’ve canceled on her.”
Harry stood up stretching a bit to get the kinks out of his legs.
“Harry, are you up to it? You’re not too tired, are you?” Hermione asked.
“No I’m fine, Mione. Don’t worry.”
Hermione looked at him in concern. “Alright. But remember to come back if you’re tired. You should get some rest before we go out to dinner tonight.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be back before then,” Harry said.
Hermione nodded, finally satisfied. “Okay. Tell Andromeda and Teddy we said hi.”
“Tell her that Mum can’t wait to see Teddy again,” Fred said.
“She feels it’s the beginning of the long and lovely road towards being a grandparent,” George added.
“Please don’t bring it up. I already got Mum to quiet down for awhile, but I know it’s the eye before the storm.” Charlie sighed.
“Mum has brought it up, but she has Bill and Fleur to interrogate. You’re off her radar for now, Charlie,” George said.
“Of course, there’s always Percy,” Fred said.
“I’m not going to take Charlie’s place. I have to wait my turn just like the rest of us,” Percy said.
“Oh, come now, you could always do him a favor,” Fred said.
Charlie nodded. “I am your big brother. Where’s my favor?”
Percy glared at him. “Don’t you start.”
Harry laughed. “As much as I would love to see how this argument turns out I think I should go now.”
“Alright, we’ll tell you about it when you come back,” Fred said.
“If it’s stopped by then,” George said.
Charlie waved. “See ya, Harry. We’ll tell Mum and Dad where you are when they come looking for you.”
Harry smiled. “Thanks.”
“Oh, before you go, Mum has some food she made for Andromeda and Teddy. She has a couple of blankets too,” Ron said
“Alright. Where are they?” Harry asked.
“In the kitchen. Let me go get them,” Ron said. Harry walked with Ron into the kitchen and tried to ignore Ginny’s gaze on his back. He really didn’t know what to tell her that wouldn’t make her mad. Sure he loved Ginny, always would, but he couldn’t see himself having a relationship with her. Not when he finally had time to think about what he wanted. Harry pushed his worries back while Ron placed the food and blankets on the table.
“There that’s the last of it. Mum placed it under a warming charm so everything should go over okay,” Ron said.
“Okay thanks.” Harry shrunk the blankets before putting them in his pocket. While he was trying to decide what to do with the food, he didn’t notice Ron’s look of surprise. Harry looked up. “What?”
“I didn’t know you could do that without a wand.”
Harry smiled sheepishly. “Yeah, it’s something I discovered a few weeks ago. I do it secretly so I don’t get even more attention. It didn’t scare you, did it?”
Ron shook his head. “No, it didn’t scare me, but it sure surprised me. Can you do anything else without your wand?”
Harry shrugged. “I haven’t tried anything else yet. I don’t want to risk blowing something up if it doesn’t go right.”
Ron waved the concern away. “Don’t worry. Mum and Dad are used to explosions. I can’t begin to tell you how many times Fred and George have blown up the house.”
Harry laughed. “I can imagine.” He looked back at the food then up to Ron. “Do you have a bag? I think that would be the easiest way.”
“Um, yeah.” Ron walked over to one of the cabinets and pulled a bag out. “Here you go.”
“Thanks.” Harry put the food in the bag. Once everything was secured, he walked to the fireplace with Ron.
“Don’t be too hard on Percy,” Harry joked.
Ron grinned. “We’ll try.”
Harry laughed gathering some Floo powder and throwing it in the fireplace. He shouted the location of Andromeda’s place before stepping into the flames.
* * *
Harry stumbled out of the fireplace into the living room of the small house, wondering if he’d ever be able to properly walk out of a fireplace. He was dusting some soot off his robes when Andromeda walked into the room with a smile. “Hello, Harry. Still having trouble with the fireplace?”
Harry nodded chuckling softly. “Yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of the Floo. Well, I’m fine now. How are you, Andromeda?”
“I’m fine. Well, I’m getting better. How about you?” Andromeda asked, dusting some soot out of Harry’s hair.
Harry flashed a tired smile. “I’m a bit tired, but I’m getting there.”
“That’s good,” Andromeda said. She eyed the bag in Harry’s hand and turned an amused look up to him. “Molly hasn’t slowed down, I see.”
“No. There’s a lot of food in the bag and I have some blankets for you and Teddy, too.”
“Sounds nice. Let’s go put the food up,” Andromeda said, turning to go into the kitchen.
Harry followed behind her, taking in the new decorations. Harry could see Andromeda tried to keep much of Ted’s design around the house. Harry tried not to dwell on those thoughts as he walked in the kitchen. He still found it unfair that Tonks and Remus couldn’t raise their son and Ted wouldn’t have a chance to be the doting grandfather. Harry didn’t know he was lost in his thoughts until Andromeda touched his arm.
Harry turned to her trying to hide the sadness in his eyes. Andromeda only smiled and patted his arm softly. “Where are the blankets, Harry?”
“Oh, right,” Harry said, digging in his pocket. He pulled them out, placing them on the table. Harry turned them back to regular size, placing his hand on them. “I wonder which one Teddy will like.”
“Teddy isn’t very picky, but I’m sure he’ll go for the one with the most color,” Andromeda said.
“I’m sure he will too. Let’s see.” He picked up the pile and walked into the living room while Andromeda finished putting up the food. Harry walked over to the bassinet by the couch on the side of the room. He placed the blankets on the couch and bent over to look at Teddy.
Harry put on his best smile. “Hello, Teddy!”
Teddy squealed in excitement kicking his feet as Harry laughed. He reached in picking Teddy up, cradling the baby in his arms. “How are you today?”
Teddy babbled a response, his hair color matching Harry’s.
Harry laughed. “That’s good. I’m doing good too.”
Teddy giggled, clapping his hands together as Harry walked over to the couch. He sat down carefully as Teddy started babbling again. “Really? Did that actually happen today?”
Andromeda walked in as Teddy babbled a response. Harry nodded while Teddy explained his day in baby language. She took a seat next to Harry.
“So, Harry, I heard that Hogwarts would be opening soon,” Andromeda said as Teddy played with her pinky finger.
“Yeah. Headmistress McGonagall sent a letter about it a few weeks ago. She told us she’s going to send a second official letter about going back as students. We might have to help with some things around the school, but it doesn’t look like it will be too bad.”
“That sounds good. Are you going to go back?”
Harry shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, I’ve been thinking about it and a regular school year does sound appealing, but I haven’t made a decision yet.”
“I think you should go back, Harry. You do deserve a school year where you are a student. There’s nothing wrong with that,” Andromeda said.
“I know. It’s just that I have this feeling, like I’ll miss out on something if I’m not here,” Harry said.
“Teddy and I will miss you, but we’ll be waiting for your letters. Teddy will not grow over night. There are still many firsts for him to experience. You won’t be here for some, yes, but you won’t miss them all. Besides, there are some more firsts for you to experience as well,” Andromeda said smiling.
Harry sighed softly, rocking Teddy gently. “Hermione told me the same thing. I want to believe that, but I can’t help that feeling I can’t explain. I just wish I know what to do.”
“I think I know the feeling you’re explaining. It sounds like the same feeling I had after I met Ted in my sixth year. I felt something I couldn’t explain. I thought if I didn’t take a chance with Ted I would miss out on something. After thinking and talking with Sirius about it, I made my choice and I don’t regret it. I think it’s time for you to do the same. Take this year in Hogwarts to do some things you like and I don’t mean watching Teddy,” Andromeda added when Harry opened his mouth.
“Enjoy yourself and we’ll be here ready to listen to all the stories. Won’t we, Teddy?” Andromeda cooed.
Teddy giggled around his tiny fist in response.
Harry sat back taking in Andromeda’s words. It did sound appealing. He could take the time in Hogwarts to see what he wanted to do with his life. Then again, would he have enough time to do that?
Harry looked back at Andromeda who knew more about choices and the results that come from them. Teddy was the result of Tonks’ choice to be with Lupin. Tonks was the result of Andromeda’s choice to be with Ted. Maybe there was a chance for him to do the same. He smiled. “I’ll think more about my choices and come back to you when I find an answer.”
“Good.” Andromeda looked down when Teddy started fussing. “I believe Teddy is hungry. Time to feed him and we can get a snack and some tea as well.”
“Time for some food, little guy,” Harry cradled Teddy in his arms and walked to the kitchen behind Andromeda.
“When we’re done eating, we can have Teddy pick the blankets,” Andromeda said.
“He has a lot of choices this time.”
Harry watched Andromeda bustled around the kitchen. She didn’t have the speed of Mrs. Weasley, but Andromeda held the same knowledge of her kitchen. Harry figured one obtained that knowledge after cooking in the kitchen for years. Andromeda had prepared Teddy’s bottle and was walking over to feed him, when Harry stopped her.
“I’ll do it,” Harry said.
“You don’t have to, Harry. I can do it,” Andromeda said.
Harry shook his head. “No, I want to do it. Can I?”
Andromeda opened her mouth to refuse, but closed it at the pleading look in Harry’s eyes. “Alright. Go ahead. I just don’t want you to feel that you have to do everything when you’re here. You are a guest.”
“I know, but I’m Teddy’s godfather as well. I want to do as much as I can before I leave,” Harry said.
Andromeda laughed softly. “You sound as if you’re going out of the country instead of to Hogwarts.”
“Well, it does take me away from everything for awhile,” Harry said, watching Teddy drain his bottle.
Andromeda smiled nostalgically. “Hogwarts does that. It takes you away, but also brings you closer to yourself, friends, and family.”
Harry nodded. “Yes, it does.”
Andromeda walked around the kitchen looking around for the tea. Harry noticed the brightness in Andromeda’s eyes when she talked about Hogwarts. He had a question in mind, but didn’t know if it was the right time for it. Harry took a small breath before asking his question.
“Can I hear more stories about your time at Hogwarts?”
“Of course, Harry. Which year do you want to know about?”
“Any year you want.”
Andromeda sat back with a thoughtful look, “Hmm, let’s see. They were all enjoyable. I have to pick one.”
“Take your time. I have all day,” Harry said, sitting back. Andromeda smiled as she started the stories with her sixth year when she met a determined Muggle born wizard named Ted Tonks. Harry sipped his tea while Teddy played his favorite game of knock the bottle off the high chair. It was Harry’s favorite game, too. He couldn’t think of anything more relaxing.
* * *
After Auror Cunningham’s visit Draco tried to read a book in the library. It was hard to focus on the words on the pages when he had so many other thoughts running through his mind. He was allowed back into Diagon Alley, which was good, but he didn’t feel like dealing with the patrons there. He would have to endure glares, hisses, scathing looks, and any other things they could throw at him. Draco could handle it he just didn’t feel like it.
Hogwarts floated through his mind. He could go back and finish his last year. Did he want to go back? There was always the option of hiring a tutor, but Draco doubted the tutor would do a good job. There was the option of studying abroad, but he didn’t want to leave Narcissa alone in England. That would require asking permission from the Ministry and he didn’t want to go through that.
The only other option he could think of was to go back to Hogwarts and face everything.
Draco didn’t know how many people would come back. Pansy would; she wouldn’t want him to go back alone. Blaise would be there if he felt like it. Goyle might join them, but it would depend on his mood. Theodore might if he felt it was necessary. He didn’t know how many Slytherins would come back or if they would get more in their house.
Draco sighed, marking his place before putting the book on the table. He wondered if anyone from Gryffindor was coming back. He knew Granger was. If she didn’t come back hell had officially frozen over. McGonagall would start cracking jokes and Pansy wouldn’t be devious. Draco had no idea if Weasley was coming back, but if Granger were returning Weasley would be right behind her. His thoughts fell to the next person in his mind, Harry, or rather, Potter. Would he come back? Would he want to come back? If he did, would things pick up where they’d left off between them?
Draco sighed softly. There were so many unanswered questions. What made it worse was that he didn’t have any way to answer them. Draco did want to return to Hogwarts and finish the year he missed. If he did that Narcissa would be alone. She would have the house-elves, but it wasn’t the same as another person. Draco stretched out on the sofa staring at the ceiling. If the ceiling had the answers it would be quite useful. He looked over at the book, deciding not to pick it back up. Draco curled up on the sofa instead.
This time I can sleep without the use of a potion, Draco thought as his eyes closed slowly.
* * *
Harry laughed. “I didn’t know people played jokes on Filch back then.”
Andromeda nodded with a smile. “Oh, yes. How do you think we made it through the school year?”
“By playing jokes on everyone else,” Harry said.
Andromeda laughed. “There was that too.”
Harry, Andromeda, and Teddy moved into the living room after they finished eating in the kitchen. Teddy picked out the blue blanket with the scarf pattern. Once he picked it, it was hard to get Teddy to leave it. After a tricky diaper change and another bottle of juice, Teddy was happy. He lay between Harry and Andromeda on the couch during Andromeda’s stories.
Harry played with Teddy while listening. He could see how Ted changed Andromeda’s views on different things. Ted was a good person to be around. He was light hearted, funny, and serious when the time called for it. He was the person Andromeda needed. Harry wondered if there was someone else out there to fill that role.
He looked up when Andromeda called him. She smiled. “Am I boring you already?”
Harry shook his head. “Of course not. I was just thinking that’s all.”
“Okay, but tell me if there’s something else you want to hear.” Andromeda looked over at the clock. “Are you going to stay for dinner?”
Harry started to nod when the outing to the restaurant entered his mind. He shook his head. “I wish I could, but I’m going to eat out with the Weasleys tonight. You and Teddy are welcomed to join us if you want to.”
“Thank you for the invitation, but I’ll pass this one. I’m not ready to take Teddy outside yet. I want him to have a stronger immune system first before I do. Contact me if you’re having a family dinner. I do enjoy those. Teddy enjoys them as well,” She added when Teddy babbled in agreement.
“I will. What time it is?”
“A quarter to seven.”
Harry ran a hand through his hair. “I guess I should get going.”
“I think so. What time are you going out?” Andromeda asked.
“I think you should go and get ready.”
“I’ll leave at seven. I want to feed Teddy one more time before he has to go to bed,” Harry said.
Andromeda smiled. “Alright, but don’t forget, Harry.”
“Okay,” Andromeda said. She started another story while Harry continued playing with Teddy. After her story about the pranks Arthur pulled while she was still there, Harry helped her feed Teddy. He offered to bathe Teddy and put him to bed, but Andromeda assured Harry she could do it. She shooed Harry away wishing him a good time at dinner. Harry reluctantly agreed, but thanked Andromeda for the food and tea. After wishing Teddy a good night, he finally walked to the Floo and left.
Andromeda shook her head, Don’t worry Harry things will work out. She turned to Teddy. “Time for your bath.”
Teddy giggled as Andromeda carried him to the bathroom.
* * *
Harry stumbled out of the fireplace into the commotion going on in the living room. Hermione was trying to smooth down her hair. Ron was messing with his robes. Fred and George were dressed, but at the edge of the stairs. Fleur was helping Bill dust off his robes while Molly fussed over Charlie. Ginny sat on the couch her hair pulled back with a flower pin. Arthur was in the corner of the room by the clock watching the chaos unfold with an amused smile. He noticed Harry standing in the doorway and beckoned him over.
“Harry, welcome back! How are Andromeda and Teddy?” Arthur asked.
“They’re fine. Andromeda says thank you for the food and blankets. Teddy enjoyed the blankets very much,” Harry said.
“I’m glad. Molly did use the softest yarn she could find for them. I wouldn’t mind having one of those blankets myself.”
Harry chuckled. “Yeah, they felt very nice.”
“If I gave you one, you would never get out of bed,” Molly said, walking over to them.
Arthur grinned. “I don’t feel like getting out of bed now.”
“Don’t remind me. Well, I’m happy to know they like them. I actually have two more I’m almost finished with. I’ll have those ready by your next visit.”
Harry nodded. “Alright, I’ll be sure to tell them.”
“Wonderful. Well, as you can see we’re getting ready here. Everyone is done or almost there,” Molly said, shooting Charlie a pointed look. Charlie suddenly became interested in his robes. Molly turned back to Harry with a smile. “I laid out your robes in Ron’s room dear. Hurry up and change.”
“Okay, but where’s Percy? I thought he would be finished,” Harry said.
Molly and Arthur exchanged a look that left Harry confused. Arthur cleared his throat. “When you were away another letter from a secret admirer arrived. Percy placed it on the table, but touched the cursed item again. So he’s still taking a while to get ready.”
Harry bit back a laugh as he nodded. “Do I have to be wary when I go upstairs?”
“Maybe. We don’t know how strong this cursed item is,” Molly said.
“Fred and George will take you upstairs. I know you don’t need protection, but this item does make the person very aggressive. We have no idea how Percy will react around you so we’re going to play it safe.” Arthur motioned the twins over.
“I’m sure it’s nothing too bad. Thank you for telling me,” Harry said.
Molly patted his shoulder, “Of course dear. Now hurry up. We don’t want to be late.”
“Okay.” He walked over to the stairs noticing Molly making a bee line for Charlie out of the corner of his eye.
“Yes, Mum is on the war path tonight,” Fred said.
“Charlie can only win the battle for so long.” George started mounting the stairs.
“I wonder how long it will last?” Harry said, walking up the stairs behind Fred and George.
Fred shrugged. “Who knows? But if Charlie wins this one, mum will be back tomorrow.”
George nodded. “Then the battle will reach overtime.”
Harry laughed. “I’m looking forward to it.”
“We all are,” Fred said.
“It is very entertaining, especially when dad steps in as referee,” George said.
“Then the battle really heats up,” Fred said.
Harry laughed again. He was grateful that the twins had kept their sense of humor. It helped him out after a hard day of speaking at funerals and memorials. He turned to walk into Ron’s room when someone grabbed his arm. Harry quickly turned around grabbing the person’s other arm in defense. He released his grip when he looked into Percy’s hazy eyes. Harry gently released his arms. “Sorry about that. I didn’t see you there.”
“It’s alright Harry. I like the aggressive side to you,” Percy said softly.
“Percy, I hate to tell you this, but I think we work better as friends,” Harry tried not to laugh.
Percy frowned in confusion. He’d opened his mouth to say more when Fred and George stepped next to him.
“Come on, Perce. It’s time to let Harry dress,” Fred said.
George nodded. “Not to mention you still have a few minutes before the potion wears off.”
Percy turned to glare at the twins. “I don’t see why I have to move. Harry is right there and I want to be with him!”
“Come on. Back in the room you go.” Fred pulled a struggling Percy back in his room with George. Harry looked at the door with an amused smile. Poor Percy, I’m sure he’ll be back to normal in no time. He walked into Ron’s room, his eyes falling on the dark green dress robes on the bed. Harry smiled. He may hate dress robes, but the color was nice.
He pulled off his traveling robe turning to the window. At least the weather cleared up.
* * *
Once Harry dressed and gave up trying to smooth his hair down he walked downstairs. It looked like Charlie won the recent battle. Harry could tell by his relieved smile and Molly’s peeved look. Percy was downstairs sitting in a chair with his head in his hands. He looked up flushing instantly when he saw Harry.
Harry smiled reassuringly. “It’s alright, Percy. That was a pretty powerful love spell.”
Percy mumbled an apology. Bill looked between Harry and Percy before landing on Harry. “Did he touch another item?”
Harry nodded. “Yeah, but there was no harm done.”
“Speak for yourself,” Percy mumbled as Fred, George, and Charlie laughed.
“You’re back to normal and nothing too bad happened.” Molly looked around at the group. “I suppose we can go now that everyone is dressed. Now Harry, are you sure about this? Because we don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”
Harry shook his head. “No, I want to go, Mrs. Weasley. I’ll be fine.”
“Yeah, and if any reporter tries to get you, Harry, Mum can always hex them,” Fred said.
Molly frowned at Fred. “It’s not like I want to.”
“You will if you have to,” Arthur said.
Molly shook her head. “I am not going to hex a reporter today. Now let’s have a good time and no testing new products on anyone,” she warned, shooting a pointed look at Fred and George.
They shrugged, trying to give their best “innocent” look. It didn’t work, but they tried anyway.
“It’s not our fault,” Fred said.
“That lady shouldn’t just take candy that didn’t belong to her,” George said.
Molly shook her head turning to Harry with an exasperated smile. She tried to smooth his hair.
“Now that we’re here and ready I think it’s time for us to go,” she said when it wouldn’t budge.
Everyone agreed walking over to the fireplace. Harry wiped his palms against his pants. He hoped things at the restaurant would go smoothly tonight. He tried to get some confidence, but it disappeared as he approached the fireplace. Harry took a breath letting it out before entering the Floo. He called the name of the restaurant before disappearing in a flash of green flames.
Harry stumbled out of the fire place at the Shooting Star, becoming the center of attention immediately.
“Isn’t that Harry Potter?”
“I think so.”
“Are the Weasleys with him?”
“Yeah, they are.”
“Is that Hermione Granger?”
“Looks like you won’t be the only celebrity tonight Harry,” Charlie said.
“Yeah.” He really hoped the night would turn out alright.
* * *
Draco woke up slowly. He sat up working out the kinks in his neck. Draco knew he should stop sleeping on the sofa, but it was more convenient than going to his room. He didn’t like the chill through his spine at the thought of his room. Draco sighed. It couldn’t be helped. He looked over at the clock noticing it was time for dinner. Draco stood up stretching a bit before walking out the den. Miffy would place the book in the guest room for him later.
Draco walked to the dining room going over his previous thoughts. He hated having nothing to do. It left him alone with his thoughts and he didn’t want to visit them at all. Draco took a seat at the table, flashing a smile at Narcissa.
“Hello, dear. How was your book?”
“It was fine, Mother. I fell asleep in the middle of it though,” Draco said. “How is your blanket going?”
“Wonderful. I’m almost done with it. I hope I can make you another one before you return to Hogwarts,” Narcissa said.
Draco gripped his fork at the mention of the school, but put on a pleasant face for Narcissa. “I hope you can too. It will be nice to carry one to school.”
Narcissa beamed. “Make sure you tell me your favorite colors. I know I can make one just before the school year.”
“I look forward to it,” Draco said sipping his soup. I can’t believe she’s talking about knitting more things. I hope father’s case isn’t putting too much stress on her.
Draco didn’t voice his worries. He nodded and listened to Narcissa discuss the different types of yarn instead.
* * *
Harry tried to eat dinner with eyes on him, but it wasn’t working very well. When he got up to use the bathroom, guests bombarded him with questions and autograph requests. Harry was able to get away with the help of Ron, Fred, and George. Harry sat back down to date offers and to people thanking him and the others for their work during the war. He didn’t want that to interrupt the night.
The Twins pulled small pranks on reporters, much to Molly’s chagrin. Molly shot any reporter coming their way a glare. Arthur talked about the new items he’d found in the lost and found in Muggle London. Charlie and Ginny talked with Percy about new events at the ministry.
Ron, Hermione, and Harry talked about Hogwarts. Hermione was sure Luna and Neville would return. Neville wanted to continue studying Herbology. He would start his apprenticeship with Professor Sprout afterwards. Luna wanted to return to enjoy another year with everyone before graduation. Ron was sure Dean and Seamus would return.
Harry had no doubt that a few Gryffindors from their year would come back. He wondered if anyone else from the different houses would come back. Harry wondered if Malfoy would come back.
The last time Harry saw Draco was at the trials. Draco looked paler than usual, but he looked well. In fact, Harry noticed that he didn’t look too bad in a Muggle suit. Harry shook his head when the thought passed through his mind. It was silly to think about the clothes Malfoy wore that day. Harry knew the chances of Draco’s return were slim, especially after Crabbe’s death, but Harry didn’t rule him out just yet.
Before Ron, Hermione, and Harry could debate more on the subject, a woman ran by screaming in terror. The woman mentioned something about her tongue growing and changing colors. The Twins’s smile said it all. Laughs rang around the table as Molly sighed and Arthur suggested that it was time to go. Harry agreed. He wanted to finish his Shepherd’s Pie in peace.
* * *
After dinner, Draco left Narcissa to her new blanket. He walked to the bathroom and noticed the soft but ragged towels on the racks. The worn bathroom rug on the floor, the cracked serpent soap dish, faded black and white tiles, and white tub. He looked at everything else in the bathroom, but the mirror. Draco didn’t want to look over there, especially at a mirror that pointed out how tired he looked. Draco knew that fact; he didn’t need an inanimate object to remind him.
Draco started the water for the shower staring at the stream for a bit before undressing. The bathroom on the same floor as the guest room was the only bathroom he felt comfortable in. The Death Eaters didn’t use this bathroom as often. Draco didn’t want to think about the things that transpired in the other bathrooms. It made him sick just thinking about it. Draco swallowed the lump in his throat. He wanted to keep dinner down tonight.
Draco stepped in the shower and sighed in bliss. The water felt quite soothing and it felt good having privacy to take a bath again. He didn’t have to worry about anyone spying on him or busting the door down just to ask him a question.
While he was shampooing his hair, his thoughts floated back to Potter. He didn’t know why. Draco blamed the Daily Prophet and the many articles they published about Potter. Draco didn’t know why the Wizarding World would want to know where Harry Potter shopped for clothes, but then again he knew that some people enjoyed those facts. His mind floated back to the trials.
Draco noticed that Potter hadn’t changed too much. He still had the messy hair, the green eyes, and that air around him that was so Gryffindor. However, there were some changes. Harry didn’t look scraggly anymore. He looked tired, but who didn’t look tired after the war? He did have an air of confidence that Draco couldn’t ignore.
Why couldn’t he ignore it?
Draco shook his head. All this talk about Hogwarts is bringing up these thoughts. My head will clear up after a round of sleep.
With his mind made up Draco finished washing his hair. Draco turned the shower off grabbing a towel to dry off. Draco was so preoccupied by his thoughts he didn’t notice the mirror.
“Don’t you want to see how you look?” the mirror asked.
“I’ll do it tomorrow.” Draco called back. He knew the mirror was angry, but Draco could care less. He walked to the guest room and changed into his pajamas, trying to figure out why his mind kept going back to Potter and his attendance at Hogwarts. He slipped into bed staring at the ceiling. It didn’t matter if Potter returned or not; the decision to go back to Hogwarts would be his own.
I’ll return and finish the rest of my year, whether Potter is there or not.
When Draco made up his mind he tried to go to sleep, but he didn’t feel tired. He sat up reaching for the book Miffy laid on the nightstand. Draco started reading. He wanted to finish the chapter tonight.
* * *
“That’s the way to end a dinner,” Fred said when they’d returned to the Burrow.
“Not to mention we got a chance to try out our new candies,” George said.
“Another plus in my book,” Fred said as George agreed.
“I can’t believe you two did that. That poor woman I don’t think her mouth will ever be the same,” Hermione said, shaking her head. Ron resisted the urge to laugh along with Charlie, Bill, and Harry.
Fleur giggled. “It was very funny. I ‘ike the joke very much.”
“Hey that woman kept pestering us, especially Harry. He already told her once that he wasn’t interested, but she wouldn’t listen,” Fred said.
“She’ll pay attention to what people have to say in the future,” George said.
“I thought I said no new products,” Molly said.
“It wasn’t a new product, Mum. That one was old,” Fred said.
George nodded in agreement. “It was Ton-tongue Toffee. It’s quite useful when you want to get out of class, a bad date, or any engagement you want to leave early.”
“I didn’t ask for an advertisement. I asked for no pranks, old or new. Now the evening is ruined,” Molly said.
Harry smiled. “I didn’t think it was that bad. The woman was quite annoying.”
“See? Harry agrees and he was the one she was pestering the most,” Fred said.
George nodded. “It’s true.”
“Still, it doesn’t call for you to use such force,” Percy said, cleaning his glasses.
“Are you agreeing with the woman, Perce? From the look of things you didn’t enjoy the group of people asking you questions,” George said.
Percy flushed a light pink, placing his glasses back on. “Doesn’t matter I may not have liked the questions, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to hurt the woman.”
“Yeah, right,” Fred said.
“Sure,” George added.
Percy huffed as Molly shook her head. “Tomorrow we’re going to have a nice meal here. That way we won’t have to deal with questions, reporters, and tongue growing toffees.” Molly sighed again at the snickers in the room. She turned to Harry. “Did you have a good time?”
Harry nodded. “Yes, I did. It was a lot of fun.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it, dear. I’m going to head off to bed. Before I go do you have any appearance to make tomorrow?”
Harry shook his head. “No I don’t have to speak at anything tomorrow. We’re going to go see Luna in Diagon Alley. We’ll probably get some school shopping done too.”
“Wonderful. Write a list of the foods you want and I’ll make it,” Molly said.
Harry nodded. “Alright, I will, thank you.”
Molly smiled, waving it away. “It’s fine dear, don’t worry.” She stifled a yawn behind her hand. “Oh, excuse me. Is there anything else you need? Tea? Cake? Something to help you sleep?”
Harry shook his head. “No. I’m fine.”
“Alright, is there anything else anyone needs?” Molly asked, looking around the room. There was a chorus of nos. Molly eyed the room in suspicion. “If you’re sure I’m going to bed then. Good night everyone. And no explosions tonight!”
“Wouldn’t think of it, Mum,” the twins said.
Molly sighed, shaking her head as she walked up the steps. Arthur waited until Molly was out of earshot to congratulate the twins. “Good job on those toffees, boys. I’m glad it worked out.”
“Thanks, Dad,” the twins smiled.
Arthur checked with everyone about their plans for the next day. Everyone confirmed that they would still be at the Burrow and Arthur went to bed. When Arthur disappeared, Fred and George turned to everyone in the room.
“Now that Mum and Dad are gone, should we continue our earlier discussion about Quidditch?” Fred asked.
Percy shook his head. “No, I’m going to read before going to bed. Good night, everyone.”
“Night, Percy,” the room answered. Percy nodded before walking over to the steps. When Percy disappeared, George ran a hand through his hair messing up the neat style it was previously in. “So anyone wants to find a game to play?”
“Or help us plan any other games? The new school semester is starting after all,” Fred said.
“ I’ll help it sounds like fun,” Harry said. It would keep him busy enough until he was too tired to think.
Ron nodded. “I’ll help too. I might need some distractions this year.”
Hermione shook her head with a soft giggle. “I suppose a playful distraction won’t be bad.”
Everyone in the room looked over at Hermione in shock. Hermione looked around with a light flush on her cheeks. “What? I can’t suggest something that will distract us, but won’t disrupt our studies?”
“Yeah, but I thought you would stop us not, you know, support it,” Ron said.
“I’m not suggesting we do something too crazy, but a little one isn’t too bad,” Hermione said.
Ron ran a hand through his hair. “Are you sure you’re alright?”
Hermione huffed as everyone laughed. Fred smiled. “Don’t worry Ron. When Percy doesn’t want to go to work then we’ll know the world has ended.”
Charlie chuckled. “If that happens then I’ll be scared.”
Fleur giggled. “I’ll stay up to see some designs b’fore going to bed.”
“You’re not too tired are you? Do you want something to drink? Eat?” Bill asked.
“Bill, calm down. I’m sure she’s fine,” Fred said.
George nodded. “Yeah she’s pregnant not sick.”
“They’re right Bill. I’m fine don’t worry.” Fleur said with a reassuring smile.
Bill sat back against the sofa. “Alright, but let me know if there’s something you need.”
Fleur smiled. “I will.”
“How sweet. Now, let’s show you the plans we have for when the shop reopens,” Fred said as George disappeared upstairs to get their plans.
Ginny looked over at Harry with the same questions in her eyes. Harry felt uneasiness seep through under her gaze. He resisted the urge to run his fingers through his hair. Harry didn’t know how to tell her anything that wouldn’t her hurt feelings. Harry rubbed his sweaty palms against his jeans as George returned with many different parchments and a journal Arthur had given them for ideas.
Ginny opened her mouth to say something when Hermione jumped in. “Harry, would you like to go to the kitchen with me to get some drinks?”
Harry nodded his mind leaving his daze. “Sure, I don’t mind.”
“Wonderful, do you want something Ron? Ron?”
Ron looked up from Fred’s notebook. “Huh?”
“Do you want something to drink?” Hermione asked.
“Sure. Anything will be alright,” Ron said, turning back to the notebook with Charlie.
Hermione shook her head as Harry smiled getting up to go into the kitchen. When they were out of earshot, Harry gave Hermione a grateful smile. “Thanks.”
“No problem, Harry, but you should think about talking to Ginny. I’m sure she thinks something is happening between you and Luna. Is it?” Hermione asked reaching for cups.
Harry shook his head. “No, nothing is happening between us. Luna is my friend. I enjoy talking to her, that’s all I can say. I don’t see the problem in that.”
“I know you don’t, but I’m sure it looks different from Ginny’s perspective. It wouldn’t hurt to clear some things with her,” Hermione said.
“I know, I just don’t feel like thinking about that right now. It might sounds bad, but I can’t think about it. Whenever I hear from Luna, I know she’s alright and that I have nothing to worry about. I guess it’s easier to write a letter than talk with someone. I wouldn’t even know what to say,” Harry said, helping Hermione pour some juice.
“I enjoy talking to Luna as well. It’s nice to hear from her and I can’t wait to see her tomorrow. However, please think about it,” Hermione said.
Hermione smiled. “Great. Well, let’s go and join everyone. I’m sure they’re wondering what’s taking so long.”
“We are doing this without magic. It does take awhile.”
“I wonder if you’d be able to survive without magic.”
“I can manage, but it wouldn’t be too fun,” Harry said.
Hermione carried the tray of drinks out in the living room. Harry followed behind her absorbing what Hermione said. He knew Hermione was right. It would be better to let Ginny go and find a relationship than keep her waiting for him. He had to think of the right words to say. Harry sighed softly running a hand through his hair. He was sure he would find it eventually.
* * *
Draco finished the book and placed it on his night table. He felt like grabbing another book out of his room, but it was late. He was sleepy and that didn’t happen often. Draco didn’t need his potion either. He turned off the lamp by the bed and slid under the sheets, stifling a yawn behind his hand.
I wonder what Potter is doing. Draco closed his eyes.
* * *
Harry was one of the last people to make it to bed. Hermione, Ron, and Charlie stayed up with him as long as they could, but when Ron started snoring Hermione knew it was time for bed. Harry agreed and closed the journal, rubbing his eyes slowly. Ginny retired to bed a few hours earlier when she wasn’t able to get Harry alone. Harry wished her a good night and went back to the book to avoid her frown.
Harry could feel the sting in his eyes, but he didn’t want to sleep. He didn’t feel like having another nightmare, but sleep was something he couldn’t fight. Harry could always use a potion, but knew that would worry everyone even more. He took off his glasses, placing them on the nightstand. He sat on the bed grinning at Ron’s snore as he looked over out the window.
It felt good to see stars, but there were some people who wouldn’t see any again. Harry shook his head, turning away from the window and slipping under the sheets. He stared at the ceiling for awhile, too tired to push away any thoughts that would sneak in on him. Harry could deny them all in the morning.
* * *
Draco walked into the sitting room noticing the familiar Death Eaters in their usual spots. He held back a flinch when Bellatrix gave him a twisted smile. Draco nodded back before turning to the scene in front of him. He noticed Narcissa on the couch, pale as a sheet. Her skin was almost translucent as her hands twisted the material of her skirt. She looked up at Draco hiding her fear behind a mask.
“Hello, Draco dear.”
“Hello, Mother. Why was I called here?” Draco asked.
Before Narcissa could answer his question, Bellatrix stepped in. “We called you here with a chance to redeem yourself.”
“What?”Draco asked, not liking the way Greyback smiled as if Christmas had come early.
“The Dark Lord feels that even if you failed one task, your family’s loyalty makes up for it. So he has graciously given you another chance. Will you accept?” Bellatrix asked.
Narcissa looked caught between wanting to tell Draco no and nodding to continue her act. Draco eyed his aunt warily. “What is the task?”
Bellatrix smiled. “Why don’t we show him?” She stalked over to the other side of the room pulling back a curtain. The curtain revealed someone sitting in a chair with a bag over their face. Bellatrix laughed as she pulled the bag off.
Draco bit his lip to stop his gasp. It was Harry, beaten worse than when he last saw him. His glasses were gone and blood ran down his nose, joining the pile on his shirt. Different cuts decorated his face, and his arms were tied behind him.
Draco swallowed. “What is this?”
“Your task. The Dark Lord wants you to finish the job. Kill Harry Potter, Draco. Let the world know how weak their savior really is.” Bellatrix handed him a wand.
Draco looked over at Narcissa. She met his gaze with tired eyes. Draco knew now why Narcissa looked like she was going to be ill. He looked back at Harry his stomach, churning at the sight. However, he couldn’t back down; he kept telling himself that.
As Draco walked over the other Death Eaters in the room looked on in anticipation. Bellatrix broke out into another smile. “That’s it! Do it!”
Draco stood in front of Harry. He raised his wand, but stopped when Harry looked at him. The green eyes that once looked at him with such passion and intensity now looked back with dull weariness and dread. Draco faltered, his hand shaking as Harry continued to look at him.
“Do it now. What are you waiting for?” Bellatrix hissed.
Draco opened his mouth, but repaired Harry’s broken nose instead. Harry looked at him in confusion. Draco didn’t have a chance to explain his actions when Bellatrix gripped the back of his head, throwing him to the ground.
“You insolent boy! You would deny the chance to redeem yourself for our Lord?” Bellatrix screamed.
Narcissa stood up going over to him, but Bellatrix turned to her. “Crucio!”
Narcissa crumbled near Draco, screaming in pain. Draco turned to help Narcissa when a binding curse stopped him. Bellatrix pulled him up by the hair leaning close to his face. He could feel her warm breath and the smell sickened him.
“We have the perfect punishment for people who disobey the Dark Lord’s wishes.” Bellatrix smiled. “Greyback, do it!”
Greyback walked over to Narcissa as Draco’s eyes widened in fear. He tried to break out of the bond when Bellatrix pulled his hair. “No. This is your punishment. You deny the Dark Lord what he wants, we take away what you want.”
Greyback grinned as his hand tightened around Narcissa’s throat. Draco felt sick. The laughs of the other Death Eaters twined together with Bellatrix’s cackle. Tears started falling down his cheeks as he watched Narcissa fight and fight until…
Draco sat up swinging his arms wildly in bed. He looked over at Narcissa who looked back at him in concern. Draco didn’t have time to explain anything to her. He jumped out of bed, going over to the bathroom. Draco slumped over the toilet emptied the contents of his stomach in the bowl. Narcissa walked over to the doorway, fighting the urge to burst into tears. She hated seeing Draco like this.
She had just finished another blanket when Draco’s screams entered her room. Narcissa ran over with Miffy as Draco thrashed in bed. She was relieved to wake Draco up, but didn’t like that he wasn’t able to keep dinner down. Narcissa thought that Draco’s system had finally settled down. The healer reassured her that it had, but it looked like it was acting up again.
Narcissa sighed sadly at Miffy. “Get a glass of water and the potion.”
Miffy bowed. “Yes, ma’am.” She disappeared from the room with a pop.
Narcissa’s eyes were glued on Draco. She wet a washcloth ready to give it to Draco when he finished. Draco gave another dry heave before sitting back. Narcissa knelt beside Draco handing him the washcloth and Draco wiped his face with a shaky hand. He thought the nightmares were over. He thought he could finally go to sleep.
Draco frowned at the tears forming in his eyes. Narcissa wrapped an arm around him as Draco continued to wipe his eyes. He thought his dinner would stay down tonight, but that was a mistake. Draco leaned against Narcissa gripping her night robe as if she was going to disappear. Narcissa pulled Draco close petting his hair softly. Draco closed his eyes. Thank goodness it was only a dream. He leaned against Narcissa as she started to rock him gently.
Miffy returned with a pop, a glass of water and potion in hand. She handed them to Narcissa who nodded. Draco sipped the water, scrunching his nose at the aftertaste in his mouth. He stood up going to the sink to wash his mouth out. When half the glass was gone, he took the potion. Draco washed his face and finished the water before heading back to the guest room.
Draco slid under the covers and let the effects of the potion clear his mind. He blinked slowly at the wall, a few tears escaping his eyes making a trail down his cheek. Draco was too tired to wipe them away. He closed his eyes letting the potion take him to a dreamless sleep.
Narcissa placed a kiss on Draco’s hair. “Night, dear,” she whispered. She turned to Miffy. “Bring me my yarn I would like to continue knitting in the morning.”
Narcissa walked over to the couch, too weary to return to her room. She pulled the blanket over her, taking one last look at Draco. When his even breathing reached her ears, she closed her eyes. Narcissa hoped the next day would bring some happiness for Draco.
* * *
As Harry walked into the living room of The Burrow, he noticed the lack of noise and sounds. No one was there and the place looked ransacked. Harry’s throat went dry as he ran into the kitchen. He stopped, his eyes widening at the scene. Molly bent over the sink blood running down her head into the water below. Arthur not far behind her, in his hand laying outstretched its own puddle of blood as if he wanted to touch Molly one last time.
Harry ran from the scene, thundering upstairs. He saw Percy, broken glasses askew on his face, his arm twisted in a grotesque position. Harry continued up the stairs. He found the bodies of Fred and George, with Luna in between them. It looked like the twins had tried to protect Luna, but weren’t able to do it. Fred’s arm was across the landing with George’s leg. Luna was not mangled, but Harry could see the spot of red against the pale blonde of her hair. Harry heard a scream and it took a moment to realize it was his own.
Harry frantically ran over to the twins’ room coming upon Bill’s body. He was able to make it to Fleur, but it was too late. Fleur lay on top of him, her blood running down to mix with Bill’s on the floor.
Harry backed out, going over to Charlie’s old room. He pushed open the door smiling in relief at Charlie sitting at the desk. Harry walked over ready to tell Charlie the news until Charlie fell over. Crisscross marks decorated his chest displaying the outcome of the battle in his room. Harry backed out breathing deeply as he turned to Ron’s room. He found his wand ready to face whoever killed his family.
Harry walked over and stopped when he saw something out of the corner of his eye. He turned looking into the petrified face of Ginny. There were dry tracks of tears down her cheeks as she gripped her wand in a futile attempt to keep their attackers at bay. Harry fell by Ginny’s side looking into her lifeless eyes. He didn’t know what happened. He didn’t receive any news about an attack on the Burrow. His lungs pulled together tightly, it was becoming harder to breathe, but he couldn’t back out yet.
Harry stood up, wand raised ready to go check up on Ron and Hermione. He hoped they hadn’t suffered the same fates. He walked slowly over, pushing the door open with his foot. Harry looked inside; his scream caught in his throat at the scene in front of him.
Hermione was hanging from the ceiling, her wrists bound to the light in the middle of the room. Harry looked around for Ron, his heart clenching when he didn’t see him. His eyes widened when he saw Ron slumped over in the corner.
“Hermione! Ron!” Harry exclaimed, running over to Hermione first. Hermione looked up, her bushy brown hair sticking to the blood and tears on her cheek. She grinned sadly at Harry licking her chapped lips.
“Hermione, I saw what happened. I’m going to get you out of here,” Harry said, undoing the ropes around her wrists.
Hermione shook her head. “Don’t do it. They’re going to come back. We’re only bait for you, Harry. Leave now.”
“No! I’m not going to leave without you and Ron. You two are all I have left now,” Harry said helping Hermione down once the rope was undone.
Hermione shook her head. “Go back Harry. Leave. We’re only a trap.”
Harry placed Hermione’s arm around his shoulder, helping her walk over to Ron. He shook his head. “I don’t care. I’m getting you two out of here.”
Hermione closed her eyes, limping along with Harry over to Ron. Ron looked up at the sound of footsteps. “Harry?”
“I’m going to get you out of here, Ron. We’ll leave together and-”
“And go where? We can’t do anything. They know who we are, Harry. It’s-” Ron started before coughing wracked his body.
Drops of blood landed on his shirt and the floor under him, but it didn’t deter Harry. He knelt down towards Ron as he calmed down.
“Ron, we’ll find somewhere to go, but we have to move now,” Harry said.
Ron shook his head. “No, leave before they-”
“Well, well, well. Look at all the toys we get to play with,” Bellatrix drawled, walking in the room with Greyback and Scabior. Hermione tensed up against Harry as Ron shot Greyback a glare.
Harry pointed his wand towards Bellatrix. “What do you want?”
“Why, you of course, Our Lord wants you and we’re going to deliver. Your pathetic family put up a good fight, but I’m afraid they were no match for us.” An ugly smile twisted Bellatrix’s face.
Scabior sighed. “We could have kept the blond one, but I can settle for a brunette instead.” He smiled over at Hermione who hid her face behind her hair.
“You stay away from her!”Harry growled
“Are you trying to protect them?” Greyback laughed. “It’s too late. You lost and the Dark Lord has won. Now why don’t you come over here like a good boy.”
Harry’s face twisted in disgust as he got a stronger grip on his wand. “No! I’m not going anywhere with you!”
“You lost! Now come with us or we’ll make you,” Bellatrix said stepping closer with Greyback and Scabior.
Harry had spells to use, but they jumbled together in his head. Hermione tried to limp away as Ron used the wall to push himself up. He looked over at Hermione who nodded. Harry looked between them. “What…” He didn’t get a chance to finish when Ron grabbed Harry, going towards the window. Harry fought against Ron’s grip, but for some reason he couldn’t break out of it. “STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
Ron grinned. “Saving you, mate. We can’t have you dying too.”
“We love you, Harry,” Hermione said.
“We know you can beat him. See you,” Ron said pushing Harry out of the window.
Harry tried to hold on to the ledge, but Ron was too strong. He watched in horror as Greyback, Bellatrix, and Scabior approached Ron and Hermione. He stretched out his hand and screamed their names louder and louder until…
“Harry! Wake up!” Hermione exclaimed, shaking his shoulders. Harry woke up with a jolt looking around the room wildly. He pulled at his arms and legs and screamed when he couldn’t move them.
“Charlie, Bill let him go! He’s up now,” Molly said. Charlie and Bill let Harry go. He sat up, panting deeply. He ran sweaty hands through his hair and tried to focus on something. Harry jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom. He emptied his stomach into the bowl, his body shaking from the force.
Everyone stood around the bedroom and exchanged the same look of sadness. Ron and Hermione tried to calm Harry down when the nightmare started, but they couldn’t get close when Harry started thrashing in the bed. They were relieved when Harry finally opened his eyes. The sounds in the bathroom made the relief bittersweet.
Hermione and Molly walked to the bathroom. They saw Harry hunched over the toilet, his trembling arms holding the rim of the toilet. Molly prepared a washcloth placing it on the sink along with his glasses. Harry sat up when the tremors subsided and the dry heaves produced nothing more.
He took the cloth and wiped his mouth, then put on his glasses. “Thank you,” he said, turning to Molly.
“It’s alright, dear. How are you feeling?” Molly asked.
“Like I got rid of tonight’s dinner. I’m sorry.” Harry whispered sadly.
“Oh no, don’t worry. As long as you’re alright,” Molly said.
“Is there anything we can do for you?” Hermione asked.
“I want to sit outside for awhile. Can I?” Harry asked.
“Of course, of course. Everyone step back. Let Harry through.” Molly shooed everyone away as she walked back out to the landing.
Harry stood up and went over to the sink. He washed his mouth out with some water before trudging out the room.
“Harry, would you like someone to sit out there with you?” Ginny asked.
Harry shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. Anyone can join me if they want to.” He walked over to the landing. Harry looked at everyone before nodding to reassure himself that everyone was here and accounted for. Ron and Hermione followed him down the stairs, Ginny’s eyes on them the whole way.
Harry walked outside taking a seat on the bench with Hermione and Ron sat on either side. They didn’t offer any words of comfort, but to Harry their presence was enough. Harry turned to the sky and stared at the stars until he fell into a dreamless sleep.
* * *
Draco woke up to the familiar feeling of tears on his cheeks. Draco looked over at the couch. His expression softened at Narcissa’s sleeping form. He didn’t want her sleeping on the couch even if it was comfortable. Memories of last night came back as Draco sat up in bed. He didn’t want to be dependent on the potion, but it was needed if he was going to get any sleep in the future.
Draco ran his fingers through his hair. It was getting long, but he didn’t feel like getting a haircut.
Maybe I can grow it out. I can see how it looks, Draco thought, getting out of bed. Light taps on the window took his attention away from his hair. He opened the window to let the impatient owl in the room. Draco untied the letter from the owl’s legs and pointed it over to the treats. Draco smiled at Pansy’s familiar script.
I hope all is well. I’m doing okay. Just got over another visit from the Aurors. I don’t like them, but it’s that or have our house seized by the Ministry. Visits from pesky Aurors sounds better than living on the streets. Are you going back to Hogwarts? The Auror told me I would receive a letter soon, but I’m not holding my breath for it. If we do get letters, are you going to return? If you do, let me know. We can shop for our items together.
Hope to see you soon.
Draco folded the letter, leaning against the wall. So Pansy is expecting a letter too. I wonder if it’s true or just something they said to torture us.
A soft hoot interrupted his thoughts. Draco looked over to another brown owl hooting impatiently. He untied the letter and pointed to the treats. Draco looked down recognizing Goyle’s scribble.
Haven’t talked in awhile. Things have been very hectic over here. Aurors told me I was going to get a letter. Don’t know if it’s true or not. If I do get one and you get one too, do you want to go back together? I’ll go back to school if you do. Hope you’re doing okay. Talk to you soon.
Greg got the same notice. Maybe McGonagall wants us back she did see us as students after all. Draco folded the letter. It was the longest letters Draco had received from Goyle in a while.
It looks like Greg is doing better. Draco thought, going over to the night table. He placed the letters on the surface and walked over to the bathroom. He left the window open for any more owls. When the door closed, Narcissa opened her eyes. She sat up, looking over at the bed. She panicked for a second until she heard the shower in the bathroom. Narcissa sat back in relief.
After last night, Narcissa kept an eye open for any other signs of distress. She looked around the room noticing the owls flying in and leaving letters. Narcissa hoped it wasn’t any howlers, but she knew there was a fresh pile ash on the dining room table.
“Miffy!” Narcissa called.
Miffy popped into the room at Narcissa’s side. She bowed low. “Yes, ma’am?”
“What is the mail for today?” Narcissa asked.
“Howlers, letters for the schedule visit of upcoming Auror visit, a Hogwarts letter, and-”
“Wait, did you say Hogwarts?”
Miffy nodded. “Yes ma’am, there is a letter from Hogwarts. What should Miffy do with the letter?”
“Bring it here,” Narcissa said.
Miffy nodded. “Yes, ma’am.” She popped out of the room. Narcissa placed her hands in her lap. A letter from Hogwarts I hope it’s for Draco’s admittance for the next year.
Miffy popped back into the room holding the letter. She bowed before handing it over to Narcissa. Headmistress Minerva McGonagall’s handwriting was as familiar as the seal of Hogwarts. She placed the letter in her lap waiting until Draco arrived to open it.
* * *
After his shower, Draco looked in the mirror.
“It’s about time,” the mirror said.
“Shut it,” Draco responded. He looked over at his reflection. He didn’t like the red rim around his eyes, but that was the result of lack of sleep. His cheeks weren’t hollow anymore, but it was still hard to keep any food down. The nightmares made sure of that. His skin still looked pale, but not ashen. Draco touched the damp hair resting on the back of his neck.
It doesn’t look bad; maybe I can keep growing it out. Give myself a new look, Draco turned his head to the side.
“I like it. You look quite nice,” the mirror said.
“Thank you, but I think you’re just happy I looked at you for the first time in months.”
“Yes, there is that.”
Draco shook his head pushing back some hair that fell into his eyes. He dried off, placing the towel around his shoulders. Draco reached for the fresh clothes Miffy laid out. Once he dressed, he walked out the room.
Narcissa turned to Draco at the sound of the door. She smiled and held up a letter. “Good morning. Look what arrived, dear.”
“What is it?” Draco asked, going over to the couch.
Narcissa pulled her robe closer as she made room for Draco. “It’s a letter from Hogwarts.”
I suppose telling me that I’m not to soil their name with my presence. “That’s wonderful, Mother, let’s read it together.”
Narcissa smiled handing Draco the letter. Draco took it, breaking the seal and pulling the letter out of the envelope.
Dear Mr. Draco Malfoy,
Our records show an incomplete of your seventh year of education. You are invited to take that year again as an ‘eighth year’ student. Your grades will replace the ones missed in the last year. Your classes with be a mixture of general classes and specialized classes needed for your Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests.
Apprenticeships will be available for returning eighth year students. If you wish to be considered for an apprenticeship, please contact the school as soon as possible. Your application will be considered based on your Ordinary Wizarding Level results.
If you are going to join Hogwarts for the next school year, you have two weeks to reply to this letter. If you decide not come back, however, the Hogwarts staff wish you good luck in your future.
Please find enclosed a list of books and equipment required for the next academic year.
Enjoy the rest of your summer.
Draco stared at the letter in shock. He couldn’t believe McGonagall had given him an invitation. It didn’t make sense to him, but McGonagall was the type to have the student’s best interest at heart. It still didn’t shake his shock over the letter. He read it repeatedly, making sure there wasn’t a word he missed.
Narcissa smiled. “I knew your letter would come soon. Isn’t this wonderful, dear? You can go back to school.”
Draco nodded slowly, folding the letter back in place. He turned to Narcissa, putting on a smile. “Yes, that is wonderful, Mother. I expected the letter to arrive later.”
“Isn’t it good that it arrived now? With the ban lifted on Diagon Alley, you can get your school supplies, too. Oh, this is wonderful. Unless you have an apprenticeship set up somewhere?” Narcissa asked.
Draco shook his head. “No, I don’t. Another year at school sounds fine. It will give me a chance to decide what I would like to do as a career. I wonder if we’ll be separated from the other years.”
“I don’t think so. It doesn’t sound like something Professor McGonagall would do. Oh, I’m so excited about this. We must send a reply after breakfast.”
“Yes, that sounds nice,” If I got my letter then that means everyone else got one, too. Hmm, I guess McGonagall is trying to mend things her own way. I guess she’s not that bad, giving us a second chance..
* * *
Harry opened his eyes slowly, looking for his glasses. He was back in Ron’s room, in last night’s clothes. Harry put his glasses on and sat up in bed. He didn’t remember much from last night besides the nightmare and falling asleep between Ron and Hermione. Harry rubbed his face and sank back against the pillows.
At least I don’t have to speak at any funerals today. All I have to do is visit Luna, shop, and have fun. Oh and figure out how to talk to Ginny. Maybe I should ask Charlie again, Harry flushed lightly at the thought of Charlie. Harry noticed his thoughts strayed to guys lately. Sure, he still noticed girls there were some that were very pretty. However, Harry started noticing guys, too. Now that he had time to think, Harry started to wonder about his preferences. That was the only excuse for why Malfoy floated through his head so often.
Harry closed his eyes. Why is this happening now? Before he could think any further, someone called his name. Harry opened his eyes looking at Ron who stared back in concern.
“Are you okay?” Ron asked, walking over to the bed.
Harry nodded. “Yeah, I am. I think I’m still a little tired.”
“We can cancel shopping and change it to a later date if you want,” Ron said.
Harry shook his head. “No. I’m looking forward to seeing Luna. I can do it, don’t worry.”
“Okay.” Ron looked dubious. “But if you get tired tell us and we’ll go home. Luna will understand.”
Harry nodded. “I will.”
“Well, Mum has breakfast ready. I think you can find a place to sit. Don’t sit in the third seat to the left, though. Fred and George charmed it to move when anyone try to sits on it.”
“I take it that chair is for Percy.”
Harry chuckled. “I’ll keep an eye out for it.”
Ron smiled. “All right. I’m going to go tell Mum you’re up. See you downstairs.”
Ron clasped Harry’s shoulder before walking out the room. Harry smiled leaning back against the pillows. Maybe today will be a nice day. I sure need one.
* * *
Harry smiled at the warm greetings when he entered the room. He took a seat next to Hermione as Molly placed a plate of food in front of him.
“Harry, when are we going to see Luna? If you don’t have anything else to go to we can go earlier,” Hermione said.
“Sure, I hoped we could. I wrote back to her yesterday, so we should get a response today,” Harry said.
Fred waved the letters in his hand. “You’re right, you do have a response from her. It’s right here with your standard mail of the day.”
“A few love letters, a few packages, a couple of hate letters, a letter from Neville, and a letter from McGonagall,” George said.
“She sent the letter faster than I thought,” Molly said.
Harry accepted the letters, deciding to open Neville’s letter first.
I’m doing well, how are you? Me and Grandma went on holiday a few weeks ago. We didn’t go far, just to a nice little place in London. We got a chance to sight see and visit a Muggle café. That was very exciting, though I have a word of advice. If you ever go to a Muggle café don’t order a Venti coffee. It’s the tallest one they have there and it’s good. Only problem is you’ll be up all the night finishing projects and creating projects to finish. My grandma got something called a chai tea. It’s not that bad.
If you’re going to go back to school, I look forward to seeing you guys. How is everyone? Are Ron and Hermione okay? How is Ginny? I’ve been in contact with Luna and she invited me to Diagon Alley today. She said she’ll be there at around 1. She told me you guys will be there, too. It will be brilliant to see you all before school starts. I finished planting the mandrakes since our last letter. I helped my grandmother plant her roses, too. Have you kept up with Quidditch? Well, I’m sure we can talk about these things when I see you.
Hope your summer is going alright,
Harry smiled folding the letter back into place. “Neville said he’s going to join us today. Luna wants to meet up at one in Diagon Alley. I’m not sure where, but I’m sure it’s in this letter.”
“Can I read Neville’s letter?” Hermione asked. Harry handed Hermione the letter and she read it with Ron. Harry tuned out the twins bickering with Percy and turned to Luna’s letter. The time in Neville’s letter was confirmed in Luna’s, along with the place. Harry looked up as the discussion over the emotional state of chairs continued. He folded Luna’s letter, placing it on the table.
“Neville was right about the time. Luna said she’s going to be waiting with Neville in front of Floruish and Blotts,” Harry said.
“Good, we can shop for our books while we’re there.” Hermione grabbed one of the Hogwarts’ letters off the table.
“I hope McGonagall isn’t gonna make us take a lot of classes.” Ron grabbed another letter.
“A few classes won’t be too bad, I guess,” Harry quickly added at Ron’s horrified expression.
Hermione shook her head. “Honestly, Ron, a few classes could prove to be good. It can help with your Auror career or any career you choose.”
“She’s right, Ron. Have you put any thought into what you want to do?” Arthur said.
“A bit. Being an Auror does look good. I can’t think of anything else,” Ron said.
“I’m going to look into something dealing with Charms. If not, there’s always Quidditch. What about you Harry?” Ginny asked.
Harry looked up from the Hogwarts’ letter. He shrugged. “No idea really, but I would like to look into the Auror program. It’s sounds interesting.”
Ron smiled. “It would be so cool if we were partners.”
“I wouldn’t be the only newbie, that’s for sure.”
“Would you two get any work done? That’s the question,” Hermione said.
“We would-” Ron said.
“Eventually,” Harry finished.
Hermione laughed. “I can actually see that. Did you two get the invitation to come back?”
Ron nodded. “Yep, what do you think McGonagall meant with eighth year?”
“We won’t be treated special, will we?” Harry asked. He’d received enough special treatment after the war. He didn’t want Hogwarts to change as well.
“We’ll probably have certain classes set around our fields or whatever we scored high on in O.W.L.s. I don’t think we’ll have the same classes as everyone else, but we will probably have a combination of classes,” Hermione said.
“Will you guys still be in the tower?” Ginny asked.
“Maybe. McGonagall didn’t say anything else about it. I guess it’s official now,” Harry said, staring at the letter.
“You are going to go back, right?” Hermione asked.
Harry flashed Hermione a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry, I’m going back.”
Hermione sat back in relief. “Good, it’s better to be prepared then just to go in the Auror field blind.” She looked over as Harry and Ron stared at her.
Hermione flushed lightly. “Well, it is. I don’t care how much natural talent someone has. It’s still a good idea to go to school for a while. Will you two please stop staring at me, as if I have grown a second head?”
“It’s just, it’s been a while since we heard your school lectures,” Ron said.
Harry nodded. “Yeah, I wondered if you forgot about them.”
“I have a couple more, especially for this school semester,” Hermione said.
“Oh, I’m looking forward to that,” Ron said sarcastically.
Hermione shot a playful glare at him as Harry laughed along with the room.
“Well, Hermione is right. School is very important for any career you might choose. It will look good on your papers when you go looking for a job,” Percy said.
“Yes, and make sure to look for more tips about school from Percy in the mail,” Fred said.
“You’ll get a subscription each month on the academic and techniques,” George added.
Percy rolled his eyes. “Shut it, you two.”
Fred and George smiled as the room fell back into laughter. Fred undid the charm on the chair before Percy sat down. Harry looked over as Percy cautiously tested the chair. “Percy, how’s the chair?”
“Better. It’s as if it won’t act up anymore.” Percy touched the chair before moving it a little.
“Maybe it knows you won’t hurt its feelings anymore.” Harry raised his glasses before taking a drink.
“See, Percy, that’s why Harry’s chair loves him,” Fred said.
Percy shook his head, opting to read the Prophet instead of continuing the conversation.
Harry sat back contently enjoying his breakfast.
* * *
“Do you think it’s right for me to go to Diagon Alley, Mother?” Draco asked, turning to Narcissa.
Narcissa nodded. “Yes, it says right here that you’re allowed to go to the Alley, since we received the Headmistress’ letter.” She signed another letter before turning to the next parchment.
True, to their word, the Ministry sent over papers for Narcissa to sign after they received the letter from McGonagall. The Ministry would allow Draco to enter Diagon Alley again, but only under Auror supervision. Draco didn’t feel it was a proper time to enter the alley. Not with Lucius’ trial decorating the front page of the Prophet every day. Narcissa had finished another blanket and had one in the works. Draco couldn’t stop it, even if the actions continued to worry him.
“You should go out, if only for a little while. It’s not good to stay in the Manor all day.”
“Hmm, I don’t know. What will you do when I’m away?”
“I need to look over the stitches in the blanket I finished. I think some of the lines are crooked. That will keep me busy for most of the day.”
“Draco, I’ll be fine. Go to Diagon Alley. You can get the medicine and some of your schoolbooks too. Don’t you think that’s a good idea?”
“Yes, it is.”
Narcissa smiled. “Wonderful. You can go to Diagon Alley after lunch. You might see a friend there.”
I doubt it. “Maybe, Mother.” Draco folded the page with Lucius’ picture. He’d grown tired of articles about the trial.
* * *
After breakfast, everyone decided to do their own activities until the time to go see Luna and Neville. Hermione listened to Fred, George, and Ron have another debate over the right products for the store. Bill was out in the shed with Arthur, looking at another artifact Arthur had found. Charlie and Percy were with Molly tending to the garden. Harry sorted through his mail in the kitchen. He wrote responses to people, threw out love potions, and avoided howlers, and dangerous items.
While he was taking care of the responses, Ginny walked in. “Hi, Harry.”
Harry looked up putting on a smile. “Hi, Ginny.” He felt the familiar nervous knots twisting in his stomach. Harry didn’t think one should feel dread over their future girlfriend.
She took a seat next to Harry, eyeing the pile of love letters and items. “You sure get a lot of these.”
“Yeah. A lot of families ask me to marry their daughters. I even get some letters from a couple of guys.” Harry turned back to the letters.
“Guys? Do you ever answer those letters?” Ginny asked skeptically.
Harry shrugged. “Sometimes, why?”
“Oh, I just wondered because we haven’t gone on a date in a while. Is there…will there be something between us?” Ginny asked.
Harry placed the quill down feeling a lump in his throat. He’d tried to avoid this conversation as much as possible, but it looked like something Ginny wouldn’t drop. Harry didn’t want to hurt Ginny’s feelings, but he had to tell her. Ginny looked over at Harry in concern.
“Ginny, I have something to tell you. I think you shouldn’t wait for me.”
“Do you need more time?”
“No, I know more time isn’t what I need. I want to tell you--”
“I can give you more time.”
“Wait, time isn’t what I need. I have to tell you that--”
“I’ll give you some more time to think and then we can go on a date soon, okay?”
“Great. When you come up with a decision, will you tell me?”
Harry sighed softly in defeat. “Yeah. I will.”
Ginny nodded, standing up from the table. “Thanks, I’ll leave you to your letters now.” She walked back into to the living room leaving Harry at the table. Harry sat back, taking his glasses off and rubbing the bridge of his nose. That didn’t go the way I wanted. I don’t think she heard me. What am I going to do?
Harry took a breath didn’t want to be under more pressure. He placed his head on the table groaning softly. I hope school is easier.
* * *
“Harry, are you alright?” Hermione asked.
Harry looked up rubbing his eyes. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just dozed off for a bit. What time is it?”
“A quarter to one. Are you sure you’re okay to go? If you want to sleep I’m sure Luna and Neville will understand,” Hermione said.
Harry shook his head. “No, I can do it. I can’t wait to see them.” He stood up, trying to fix his hair a little.
Hermione eyed Harry warily, but nodded. “Okay, if you say so. Let’s go.”
“All right.” Harry walked over to the living room with Hermione. Ron and Ginny were standing by the fireplace. Harry greeted Ginny and Ron and tried to act naturally around Ginny. He hoped it didn’t look like he was trying to flirt. Ron looked between Harry and Ginny, but didn’t comment. He turned to Harry. “So, are you ready?”
“Yep, let’s go,” Harry said.
Ron nodded turning to the Floo. Harry stood behind Hermione, waiting for his turn. He stood near Ginny with his hands in his pockets. He didn’t want to give Ginny the wrong signals if she grabbed his hand.
* * *
Draco walked out of the Floo, adjusting his hat. The Auror eyed him suspiciously, but stepped aside and let him through. He could use a glamour, but didn’t know if it would go against the Ministry’s orders. Draco didn’t like to be under someone’s rule, but the Ministry was better than a maniac.
Draco walked around making sure not to bump into anyone. He only needed to grab some books, Narcissa’s medicine, and ask about a wand. Draco would ask for the wand later. He forgot he had to ask the Ministry for a new one.
Draco hated to ask the Ministry for everything. If he did anything without their approval, it would lead the Ministry to freeze their vaults. It really irritated him, but until the house arrest lifted the Ministry would have a close eye on him. Draco bit back his irritated sigh as he maneuvered around the crowds. Draco approached Flourish and Blotts stopping at the two people standing in the entrance.
Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom were outside the entrance, as if waiting for someone. Draco ducked behind another new shop, watching them. He could wait for them to leave or figure out a way of entering the store without being noticed. Lovegood was good at seeing things hidden in the shadows. He stood behind the pillar, his eyes widening at the crowd who met them.
Great. on top of being watched I have Potter to deal with. This day is turning out well. Draco thought. I’ll just go to the medicine store and pick up Mother’s potions. Then I’ll come back here. He gaze lingered on Harry for a moment before he walked away from the pillar.
* * *
“Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny! I’m so happy to see you all.” Luna smiled as her butterfly earrings fluttered lightly by her ear. Neville waved. “Hi guys. It’s nice to see you all.”
“It’s great to see you two. How are you?” Harry hugged Luna then clapped Neville on the shoulder. It was refreshing to see Luna’s earrings and bottle cap necklace.
Have you been keeping up with the Flueriths. I told Harry there are probably many around the Burrow,” Luna said, after everyone greeted each other.
“No, we haven’t seen any,” Harry said.
“Not if you look in the right places.” Luna walked inside and everyone trailed behind. They walked around the shop trying to ignore the stares of the customers. Harry jumped slightly whenever someone walked behind him. He didn’t mean too, but the action had become a reflex during the war. Harry didn’t want to scare people, but he didn’t like being surprised in that way. Luna appeared whenever that happened. She would talk with Harry about a book or an item she had noticed in the Muggle world.
And Luna’s book choices were enough for Harry to think of other things.
“Wait, you like this one?” Harry asked.
“Yes, I do. I feel that vampires aren’t represented correctly in our world. I would love to learn more about them. Oh and Merpeople, too. It’s a shame we can’t talk to them directly,” Luna said.
“I don’t think they like humans,” Harry said.
“They don’t, if you get too close a merperson will drag you underwater,” Hermione said.
“I wish they wouldn’t. There are some beautiful plants under the waves. They can make so many amazing things. Some of the best medicinal plants are on the ocean floor. I hope that we can make some agreement with the merpeople. I want to work with those plants,” Neville said.
“I didn’t know that.” Ron picked up a book, scrunching his nose at the dust.
Neville nodded. “I learned that from the book Professor Sprout sent me over the summer. I’m thinking about signing up for an apprenticeship with her when we get back to school.”
“You would be very good at it,” Harry said.
Neville smiled. “Thanks. I want to get better at it.”
Harry returned it and turned to another book. Neville’s kindness was another comfort. It was good to see Neville’s confidence hadn’t waned over the summer.
“Speaking of school, I wonder if they did anything about the Nargles over there,” Luna mused touching a romance novel.
Harry shrugged. “I hope they did. “
“If anyone can take care of it, McGonagall can,” Neville said.
Harry nodded in agreement. He walked over to the next aisle with Neville to look at Skeeter’s new book about the war.
* * *
Draco didn’t know it would be this hard to get a few potions. On his way to the store, he could feel the Aurors’ eyes on his back. It was unnerving, but Draco pushed through it. He shoved the hat further down on his head, but couldn’t hide his identity from the clerk at the counter. Draco looked around, trying to ignore the clerk’s disdain. He felt a weird churning in his stomach from it, but ignored it.
Just get the medicine and the books then leave. Draco thought. He noticed three wizards glare at him from the corner of the shop. Draco didn’t like the angry look in their eyes. Without a wand, he had no means of protection. Draco swallowed, trying not to show the chill of fear that traveled down his spine. He quickly took the medicine then exited the store. The three wizards followed him while the clerk turned back to her work.
Draco tucked the medicine away in his coat. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the three wizards walking the same way. Draco turned one corner and they followed. He made a left down another and they followed. Draco walked over to the entrance of Knockturn Alley. He couldn’t enter it, until the house arrest was finished. When the wizards made no move to avoid the entrance, Draco walked back into the crowded street.
Thoughts started whirling in Draco’s mind. He thought about the available options. There were three wizards, who didn’t look very happy to see him. Draco had no wand, so he couldn’t fight back. Aurors were around, but Draco doubted they would help. He could try to blend into a busy shop or make it to the Floo. Draco looked over at Flourish and Blotts deciding to try blending in first.
Draco walked in, going over to the side to look at cookbooks. He kept an eye on the three wizards who entered the bookstore. Draco reached for a book at the same time as someone else. He pulled his fingers back. “Go ahead.”
“Oh no, please. You go ahead.”
Draco up and locked eyes with Luna. She smiled. “Good afternoon, Dra-.”
“Excuse me for interrupting your shopping.” Draco walked away, but Luna followed.
“What’s wrong? It’s a perfectly good book. However, I don’t know if the Sleighers got to it first.”
“Sleighers. They normally change your decision about books, making you choose the next title. Is that what happened to you?” Luna asked.
“No.” Draco moved over to the textbooks.
Luna didn’t leave his side, but neither did the three wizards.
“Are you looking for a particular title?” Luna asked.
“I’m looking for a few books for school,” Draco said.
“Oh, so are we. Does that mean you’re returning?” Luna asked.
Draco nodded, filling his arms with books.
Luna smiled. “Wonderful. I think you should check out a book about potions, but it’s over in the back of the store.”
“Yes. It’s very interesting. You should pick it up before the Sleighers change your mind,” Luna said.
Draco looked over at Luna and noticed the butterflies fluttering softly by her ears. At least that hasn’t changed. “All right. I’ll go check it out.”
“Be sure to tell me how it is,” Luna said before walking over to Harry and Neville. Draco looked back at Luna, trying to digest why she would suggest going to the back of the store. He noticed the three wizards over the side Luna had walked to. Draco decided to check out the book. As Draco disappeared down the aisle, Luna tapped Harry’s shoulder. “Harry, I found a wonderful book about sleeping tips.”
“Oh, that sounds nice Luna. Where is it?”
“It’s in the back of the bookstore. You should go view it before the Sleighers make you change your mind,” Luna said.
“Sleighers make you change your mind about things?” Harry asked.
“No, only about books.”
“Okay, I’ll check it out. I do need to get more sleep.” Harry rubbed his eyes and followed Luna to the back of the store.
She’s right, this book is worth buying. Draco picked up The Best Thing about Potions putting it in his arms. He turned to go to the other side stopped as Luna and Harry walked his way. Draco looked over noticing the three wizards behind them. He buried his nose in the book moving slowly to the side.
The three wizards caught the movement, trying to push by Luna and Harry to get to Draco. Harry turned around glaring at the trio. “Hey, watch it. There’s enough room for everyone in here.”
“Yeah, and we would like for you to move it.” One wizard sneered.
Harry narrowed his eyes, causing a few books to shake lightly. “First, you push us. Then, you didn’t apologize to my friend and now you’re telling us to move?”
The books continued to move as Harry walked towards the wizards. Luna continued to browse titles as Draco looked up from his page. He’s not going to fight here, is he?
“Before you say anything you should apologize to my friend. Then go home and learn some damn manners,” Harry said angrily as a book fell off the shelf.
“Mr. Potter, what seems to be the trouble here?” Mr. Thompson asked.
Harry turned to the clerk. “I was browsing titles with my friend when we were interrupted.”
Mr. Thompson turned to the three wizards in the aisle. He glared at them grabbing the sleeve of one wizard’s robe. “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to leave.”
“If you don’t leave now I’ll be forced to call the Aurors. Please exit the store,” Mr. Thompson said.
One of the wizards looked over at Draco before turning to the other two. “Let’s go. There’s nothing we want anyway.”
“Yeah,” the other two responded. They walked out of Flourish and Blotts without too much trouble.
Mr. Thompson shook his head sighing softly. “I apologize for any inconvenience. Is there anything I can do to make it up?”
Harry calmed down and the books stopped shaking. He turned to the clerk shaking his head. “No, I’m fine. Thank you.” Harry turned to Luna. “Would you like anything Luna?”
“No, but thank you for the offer, it’s very nice,” Luna said.
She giggled as Mr. Thompson walked away. “We never seem to run out of excitement.”
“I’d prefer if it left us alone for awhile,” Harry said.
“Maybe we should go down the aisle. There are bound to be more books about the plants Neville discussed earlier.”
“Okay,” Harry said, walking down with Luna.
Draco looked over at Harry and Luna before turning back to his choices. He gathered the books and turned to leave when Luna walked over. She bumped into him, knocking the hat askew. Harry looked over, blinking in surprise. He didn’t think he would see Malfoy so soon.
Draco froze on the spot. Shit.
“I’m sorry the sleighers got in my way. I hope I didn’t hurt you,” Luna said.
Draco snapped out of his daze turning to Luna. “I’m fine.”
“I’m glad,” Luna said.
Harry walked forward a statement on the tip of his tongue, when Hermione called his name. He turned around as Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and Neville walked over to their section.
“Harry, what was that commotion?” Hermione asked.
“Just some guys who didn’t have any manners, that’s all,” Harry said.
“We met someone very interesting, too,” Luna said.
“Where did they go?” Ron asked.
Luna and Harry looked behind them to an empty spot. Harry shrugged. “I guess he got his books.”
“Yes, I hope we see them soon,” Luna said.
Harry nodded. “Me, too.”
“Well, let’s get our choices and leave. I want to get something to eat and some ice cream before we leave,” Hermione said.
“Yeah,” Harry said. Where did he go? Why did he leave so soon? That hat didn’t look bad on him. Wait, that’s not helping. Oh, well, I’ll think about it later. He grabbed a few more books with Luna before walking over to the checkout counter.
* * *
Draco gathered his books when Hermione and the others walked over. He paid for them and walked out the shop. Draco knew when he ran into Lovegood he would run into Potter. He looked the same. Same messy hair, same glasses, and same bright green eyes. Potter did look tired, though.
That’s not unusual. A lot of people are tired nowadays. Draco thought. Wait, why am I thinking about his eyes? I’m the one who needs some rest. He shook his head, looking around for any other disgruntled wizards or witches on the way to the Floo. Draco grabbed a pinch full of powder and threw it into the fireplace. He’d received enough fresh air for the day.
* * *
Harry was distracted during the rest of their visit to Diagon Alley. He looked in different shops for black dress robes or a black hat. His spirits fell when he didn’t see anything. Harry was once again searching for Malfoy. How did one person take over his thoughts so much? He felt like he was back in sixth year again. Harry sat back in Fortescue’s idly running his spoon through his sundae. He tuned back in to Hermione who was talking about the current tabloid articles in the Prophet.
“I couldn’t believe they wrote that about Oliver. I mean, who cares about some mystery person he’s dating. Isn’t that his business?” Hermione said.
“Now that everything has calmed down the Prophet is running out of things to write about,” Ginny said.
“There are plenty things to write about it. You just have to look in the right places to find them,” Luna said, happily munching on her caramel sundae.
The right place to find it. Hmm, that could work, Harry thought.
“Harry? Harry, are you okay?” Neville asked.
Harry snapped out of his daze and looked over at Neville. “Hmm?”
“Are you okay? You look a bit out of it,” Neville said.
“I’m fine. Just thinking about Hogwarts, that’s all. I mean, how are things going to be now?” Harry said.
“I’ve wondered about that myself. I hope we won’t have that much work to do,” Ron said.
I visited the school in the beginning of summer. It’s still going under renovations, but nothing too bad,” Neville said.
“I wonder if we’ll have any dances or something this year,” Ginny said.
“Who knows, but I’m looking forward to Hogsmeade,” Hermione said.
“I’m looking forward to the new school year. It sounds like it going to be quite delightful,” Luna said.
“It’s going to be surprising that’s for sure.” Harry swallowed some ice cream as his thoughts went back to Malfoy.
* * *
Draco emerged from the Floo, taking the hat off. He placed it in a house-elf’s hands. He believed the elf’s name was Bell or something similar. Draco couldn’t think at the moment. A pair of green eyes made that impossible. Draco frowned, walking into the sitting room. Why did Potter continue to be on his thoughts? It didn’t make any sense. Draco blamed the nightmare for extending the thoughts. That was the only logical reason.
“Mother, I’m home. I have the potions. I picked up a few of my schoolbooks, as well. Mother? Mother!” Draco exclaimed running over to Narcissa. Narcissa lay on the floor, her blanket forgotten on the table. A wave of dread hit Draco as he turned Narcissa over.
“Mother?” Draco asked, his voice wavering lightly. He didn’t like the way Narcissa’s skin resembled a sheet.
Narcissa groaned, opening her eyes slowly. “Draco?”
“Mother, are you okay?” Draco helped Narcissa sit up.
Narcissa touched her forehead slowly. “Yes, I don’t know what happened. I was sorting the mail when my fingers brushed an envelope. That’s the last thing I remember.”
“Do I need to get a healer?” Draco asked led Narcissa to one of the comfortable chairs in the room.
“No, I’m fine. I just have to be careful when looking through the mail next time.” She sat back pursing her lips in a thin line. “I received a letter from the Wizengamot about your father’s trial.”
“What did they say?” Draco asked.
“They said that they are still gathering evidence on your father. They still need to keep him in the Ministry for questioning. However, after the Wizengamot discovered that we protected Harry Potter, they removed the Dementor’s Kiss as punishment. He may serve time in Azkaban, but he doesn’t have to face the Dementor’s Kiss anymore,” Narcissa said. She turned to Draco, relief in her eyes. “Isn’t that wonderful, dear?”
Draco patted Narcissa’s hand. “It’s wonderful, Mother. I hope Father can return to the Manor soon.”
“I hope so. How did it feel to be outside again?” Narcissa asked.
Besides being stalked by three wizards and meeting Harry Potter again, it wasn’t bad. “It was nice, Mother. There were more people in the alley than I remember, but it was enjoyable,” Draco said.
Narcissa smiled. “Wonderful. No one tried to give you any trouble, did they?”
“Nothing I couldn’t handle.”
“Good. Did you send the response to Professor McGonagall?”
“I was thinking, maybe, we could get a tutor.”
“We can’t right now. The Ministry and the goblins at Gringotts monitor our vaults. I don’t think we’ll be able to get the tutor you need. Is there a reason why you want one?”
“What are you going to do when I’m at school? If you want I can-”
“I have my knitting and books. I’m going to visit Andromeda and her grandson when my house arrest is over. I’ve talked to her via letters for a while now. It would be good to reconnect with her again.”
Draco nodded. “Yes, but-”
“Draco, I don’t want you to miss this experience. You have a second chance to be a student, a true student, at Hogwarts. Do not let the opportunity pass you by. I want you to experience your last year as a student. Although, if you want, I can see about calling someone. If it’s something you really want,” Narcissa said.
Draco swallowed, Narcissa’s words hitting him deeply. During that horrible time when their house was the Dark Lord’s headquarters, Draco did fantasize about being a student. He thought about how it would feel to go to school without a crushing pressure of fear on his shoulders. He wanted walk the grounds of Hogwarts openly, instead of walking along the shadows. Draco had other daydreams about Hogwarts and taking someone to the secret places he discovered. However, he couldn’t tell that to Narcissa.
Draco shook his head. “No, Mother, I don’t want to get a tutor. I’ll go back to school.”
Narcissa smiled patting Draco’s arm softly. “Wonderful. Did you send the response back to Professor McGonagall yet?”
“No. I’m going to do that now. Do you need me for anything?” Draco asked.
“I’m fine. If I need anything I’ll make sure to call on Miffy or one of the other house-elves.” Narcissa assured.
Draco nodded. “Okay. I’ll return soon.”
“I’ll be here. I have to look over my blanket again. I think there were a few stitches I missed.” Narcissa picked the blanket up, examining her previous lines.
Draco walked out of the sitting room, leaving Narcissa with her blanket. He noticed that Narcissa was becoming better with her blankets. It was to be expected. Narcissa had made a new blanket every day since their trials. She mentioned crocheting and sewing next. Draco didn’t worry too much about the crocheting, but he did worry about the needles.
I hope Aunt Andromeda can help mother with that. Draco thought on the way to the guest room.
Narcissa started writing to Andromeda after she read an article about Teddy. Draco didn’t think Andromeda would write back. He was surprised when the first letter from Andromeda arrived. He hadn’t thought Andromeda would send more.
It’s good to see that there is some family that doesn’t completely hate us. Draco thought pulling out a fresh parchment. At least he didn’t have to worry about Narcissa too much while he was away. Draco took out a quill and a new bottle of ink. He didn’t know why it felt like he was signing his security away with his response. Draco had the option of not sending the letter. He could try to find an apprenticeship with someone. That was as likely as everyone in agreeing on one Quidditch team to barrack for.
However, Draco could send the response and get security from McGonagall. McGonagall may be a stern witch, but her heart held a soft spot for students. He could also ensure some sort of job with a letter from McGonagall. Since her promotion to Headmistress, McGonagall’s name had started to become as trustworthy as Dumbledore’s. His chest tightened at the thought of the old Headmaster, but as long as he steered clear of the Astronomy Tower it shouldn’t be that bad.
Besides, he grown tired of running away from things. The future was uncertain, but Draco was sure he could handle it.
With his nerves returned, he signed the letter. Draco stood up and went over to Lyra, one of the family owls. He tied the response on her leg, reaching up to rub her head gently. “To Hogwarts. I’ll give you more treats when you return.”
Lyra nipped Draco’s finger in affection before taking off. Draco watched her fly out the window, resting his head on his arms. Nothing to do now, but wait and see what happens. He stared out at the window watching the clouds travel lazily in the sky. Hmm, I wonder why do people stare at the clouds?
Draco looked at the sky for a while, before stepping away from the window. He walked over to the desk and looked at Pansy and Goyle’s letters. Might as well answer them since I’m here. Draco sat down, pulling Pansy’s letter forward. He discovered that replying back to Pansy successfully pushed thoughts of Potter away. Draco knew his mind would only allow the distraction for so long.
* * *
After they finished their ice cream, they walked to the toy store. Harry looked through the aisle trying to make a decision on a toy. Luna pointed out a selection that turned out to be better.
“Let’s send these one at a time. Andromeda would kill me if I sent all these toys at once,” Harry said.
“We can send a few now and a few later,” Luna said
“I hope Teddy will like these.” Neville placed some toy keys in the basket.
Harry smiled. “He will. Teddy isn’t very picky with toys. He’s only picky with people, but Andromeda said he’ll grow out of it in time.”
“That’s normal. Some children can be very selective. Some will not let anyone near them if they sense an aura they don’t like,” Luna said.
“You know, Teddy will make a face at some people. He won’t go near them and will reach for me or Andromeda. He likes Molly, though. He doesn’t mind when she picks him up, but Molly is, well, Molly. I can see why Teddy wouldn’t mind.” Harry placed a set of toys rings in the basket.
Luna smiled. “Mrs. Weasley is very nice. I have to thank her for the care package she sent. My father is putting together a thank you basket. We’re going to put souvenirs from our trips in there.”
“I have some seeds for Mrs. Weasley’s garden. Is it okay if I send it with you, Harry?” Neville asked.
Harry nodded. “Yeah it’s fine. I’m sure she’ll love them. We’ll have to watch the gnomes though. They like to dig up new seeds.”
“I’ll have to make sure to put in some extra seeds, then. I wouldn’t want her to lose them,” Neville said.
Seeds, toys, and care packages counted as a good way to end the day to Harry. He enjoyed the light conversation topics very much. It provided a good distraction from Malfoy. Harry felt a small jab of guilt at the thought, but shopping stopped him from looking around the alley. He didn’t need to do that. He needed the break from trying to do anything heavy. However, Harry knew that nothing truly worked out in his favor.
“Let’s look over here,” Luna said.
Harry nodded. “Sure.” He walked over to the other side discussing garden tips with Neville.
* * *
At around seven, Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny parted ways with Neville and Luna. Luna had to return home to prepare for her next trip before school. Neville wanted to check on a few of his projects before fiddling with a spell to get a television in his Grandmother’s house. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny wished Luna and Neville good bye. They wished Neville good luck in obtaining his goal.
They stepped out of the Floo into a semi-filled living room. Arthur looked up from one of George’s journals to greet the group.
“How was the trip?” Arthur asked.
Ginny and Hermione told Arthur what happened while Ron and Harry took a seat on the couch. He went through the day again and went back to Malfoy. He didn’t expect to see him again. It didn’t feel as awkward as he thought.
“Dinner is going to be done soon. I wanted to know is there anything you want to eat tonight, dear?” Molly asked.
Harry shook his head. “No, I don’t have a request. Thank you.”
“Are you sure? I can make anything you want,” Molly said.
“No, I don’t have any requests. I’m pretty happy with whatever you have,” Harry said.
“Though, Mum, if you’re taking requests I would like to have a pork chop,” Fred said.
“Roast beef for me, unlike Fred I’m trying to watch my weight,” George said.
Molly laughed. “Very funny you two. I already know what you want to eat.” She turned to Harry. “I mean it dear, don’t hesitate to tell me.”
“I won’t, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry said.
“Okay. I’m going to go finish dinner. Behave and don’t blow up anything before we eat.” Molly shot Fred and George a stern look.
The twins smiled. “We won’t, Mum.”
Molly shook her head in exasperation before turning to walk back into the kitchen. Harry sat back listening to Fred and George discuss what would work better for the distraction candies. Ron fiddled with the wireless while Hermione and Ginny talked about a recent article in Witch Weekly. He smiled enjoying the atmosphere not tight with tension. For awhile, Harry hadn’t known if something like this would happen again. He was glad that it did.
Harry didn’t realize he’d dozed off until he felt a light shake on his shoulder. He opened his eyes looking at Percy and Charlie. “I didn’t miss dinner, did I?”
Percy shook his head. “No, you didn’t.”
“Mum sent us in here to wake you up,” Charlie said.
Harry sat up stifling a yawn behind his hand. “Oh, thanks. I better get up before I fall asleep again.” He stood up and stretched.
“Harry, Mum asked if you would like to eat something light,” Percy said.
“No, I don’t. I’ll be fine. So, tell me. What did you guys do today?” Harry asked walking with Percy and Charlie to the kitchen.
“I checked in with the Ministry and I don’t have to return immediately. Then I caught lunch with a friend,” Percy said.
“I met up with a few of my friends at one of the local pubs. It was fun I remembered to sober up a bit before returning home. I don’t want to do that again,” Charlie said.
“What happened before?” Harry asked.
“Charlie stumbled in drunk once and knocked a lot of things over. Mum and Dad almost hexed him close to death,” Percy said with a smug smile.
Harry laughed as the back of Charlie’s neck turned red. “You were that pissed?”
“One my friends just got promoted at the Ministry. We were celebrating,” Charlie said, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Of course, but one can have a celebration in moderation,” Percy said.
“Thank you for reminding me of the lecture I got that night, Perce,” Charlie said.
“I only hope it can remind you for your future endeavors,” Percy said.
Charlie shook his head as Harry laughed taking his seat at the table. He listened to Charlie and Percy bicker while Molly filled his plate with food. Harry tensed at the roasted Cornish hen with steamed vegetables and rolls. It smelled good, but he didn’t want a repeat of last night. Harry would feel worse if he emptied Molly’s dinner in the bowl.
“Harry? Is everything alright?” Arthur asked. Molly looked over in concern.
Harry nodded his head picking up his fork. “Yes, I’m fine. I just wanted to thank you for the food.”
Molly looked over him closely before breaking out into a smile. “You’re welcome, dear. Now eat up.” She walked over to Bill and Fleur, ready to give Fleur another helping and Bill another lecture about his hair.
Harry nodded placing a steamed potato in his mouth. Please, please stay down tonight.
* * *
Draco ate his soup slowly making sure to take a good amount of bread with it. He’d fallen asleep after writing back to Pansy and Goyle. Miffy and Bizzy woke him to remind him of dinner. Draco had intended to ignore them and go back to sleep when Miffy mentioned Narcissa. He didn’t feel right leaving her to eat in the dining room alone, so he cleaned up and joined her.
He listened to Narcissa go on about her current project for Teddy. Draco had heard about his cousin before. He’d seen a picture of Teddy, but had never met him. Draco wondered if his aunt would even want him to be around Teddy.
“Draco, are you okay?” Narcissa asked, looking over in concern.
Draco looked up with a nod. “Yes, Mother. I was just wondering about Aunt Andromeda and Teddy. How are they?”
“They’re good. Andromeda received Nymphadora and Lupin’s Order Merlin, First Class honors. Teddy hasn’t been too much of a handful, but I offered my services if she needed it. Teddy sounds like he’s very energetic,” Narcissa said.
“How old is he now?”
“A few months. I have to ask her his age again.”
“Does Teddy need any toys?”
“She said that Teddy receives many toys from Potter, but she wouldn’t object to more.”
There’s his name again. Why does his name have to show up everywhere? “I want to send one to Teddy before I leave.”
Narcissa smiled. “That will be delightful. I’ll be sure to let Andromeda know. I’m sure Teddy will love it.”
Draco gave a small smile in return. “Yeah, he will.” He continued to sip his soup, adding to the conversation over the best colors for Teddy’s blanket.
* * *
Harry ended the evening with a game of chess with Ron. He listened to Hermione and Percy debate with Ron and the twins over the importance of pranks in school. The similarities between Hermione and Percy’s arguments surprised Harry. He didn’t think there was anyone who would agree with Percy. They retired to bed in the same fashion. Harry tried his hardest to stay up, but it didn’t work. He drifted off to sleep once he got into bed.
* * *
Draco retired to the guest room after dessert. Narcissa was busy with another blanket, but instructed Miffy to retrieve her, if Draco had another nightmare. Draco decided to read trying not to think of Diagon Alley. He tried to finish another huge tome of a book. Draco dozed off with the book in his lap. He woke up pushing the book off his lap before going back to sleep. In the next room, Narcissa undid another line. I hope Draco sleeps well tonight.
* * *
Harry twisted and turned in bed, gripping the bed sheet. Ron and Hermione were waiting for the moment to get help, if needed. Harry screamed sitting up in bed. He ran his hands down his face breathing into his hands heavily. Hermione walked over to Harry, placing a hand on his shoulder.
“Harry,” she said. Harry didn’t hear her. He could only see Bellatrix, Greyback, and other death eaters torturing Draco, the Weasleys, Hermione, Luna, and Neville. Harry had to watch unable to do anything.
Harry started shaking. “I couldn’t do anything. Nothing…”
“Harry, it was only a dream. It’s okay now, you’re awake,” Hermione said.
Harry looked up at Hermione with tears in his eyes. “I couldn’t do anything to save you or Ron or-”
“Shh, it’s fine, Harry. We’re here. We’re alive and we’re okay.” Hermione wrapped her arm around Harry’s waist. Ron walked over placing his arm around Harry’s shoulder. Molly and Arthur tiptoed inside the room while the Weasley children and Fleur watched from their rooms.
“Harry, dear, would you like something to drink?” Molly asked.
“Alright, I’ll go get some water,” Molly said, walking out of the room.
“Would you like to get some air?” Arthur asked.
“Okay Ron, Hermione. Let him up,” Arthur said.
Ron and Hermione gave Harry another hug before reluctantly getting up. Hermione handed Harry his glasses. Harry put them on before placing a shaky leg out of bed. He was relieved he’d kept Molly’s dinner down tonight. He hoped he’d manage it tomorrow night as well. Harry took a few deep breaths as he walked out the room. Ron and Hermione followed behind Harry.
“Would you like some company, Harry?” Ginny asked.
Harry shrugged, continuing down the stairs. Ginny sat back before making up her mind and following the trio.
Harry returned to the bench outside. He turned his weary eyes up to the sky. He hoped the nightmares would stop soon. Harry didn’t want to wake up his roommates at Hogwarts. Hermione and Ron took their places next to Harry. Ron made room for Ginny to sit next to Harry. Ginny placed her hand on top of Harry’s hand. She linked their fingers together feeling good when Harry didn’t pull away. Ginny squeezed Harry’s hand. She smiled when Harry squeezed back.
* * *
Draco gripped the bed sheet his knuckles, turning white from the strain. He twisted and yelled in his sleep telling Bellatrix not to torture Narcissa. He yelled at Greyback not to hurt Harry, but it didn’t work. Bellatrix placed him in a body bind curse so he could watch. Draco couldn’t move, he couldn’t speak, and he couldn’t help. That hurt Draco the most.
Narcissa ran in the room with Miffy not too far behind. She gripped Draco’s shoulders shaking them lightly. “Draco! Draco! Wake up!”
Draco woke with a start looking around the room in alarm. He looked up at Narcissa. “M-Mother?”
“Yes, Draco, I’m here,” Narcissa said, wrapping her arms around Draco.
Draco rested his head against Narcissa’s chest shaking in her arms. Narcissa hummed softly as she rocked him. Draco gripped Narcissa’s robe as if making sure she was still there. Narcissa didn’t mind. It only reminded her of Draco as a little boy after a nightmare.
“Miffy, go get his potion,” Narcissa said.
Miffy disappeared from the room. Narcissa turned back to Draco, hoping her hums would soothe him. Draco mumbled about Bellatrix and Greyback, but Narcissa shooed those names away. His shaking stopped as he continued to take deep, even breaths, but the images continued to flash through his mind.
Miffy returned handing Narcissa the potion. “Here you are, ma’am.”
“Thank you, Miffy.” Narcissa opened the vial, handing it to who downed it quickly. He settled back against Narcissa. His shaking slowed to a stop and he didn’t have to empty dinner in the bathroom. Draco closed his eyes. He hoped this trend continued. He hoped the nightmares would stop soon.
* * *
The following days continued in the same pattern. Harry would wake up, go to a Ministry functions with Hermione and Ron. When the memorials ended, Harry focused on therapy. Dr. Thompson was a nice man. He was the one therapist who agreed not to sell Harry’s secrets to the Prophet. Threats from the Weasley family cemented the deal.
Harry leaned back on the couch in the office and messed with his jeans.
“Hello, Harry. How are you doing?”
“I’m okay, I guess,” Harry shrugged. “I’m still having nightmares. I’m still lost about my career. I’m trying to tell my friend that we should just stay friends.”
“How is that working out?” Dr. Thompson asked.
“Not so well. I don’t think she’s listening to me.” Harry sighed.
“Are you being assertive?”
“She’s not going to know if you don’t tell her. We discussed this before.”
“I know, but it’s hard for me to do that. I told her before, but it’s not working.”
Dr. Thompson wrote a few notes in the notebook on the desk. “We’ll come back to that later. Tell me, what has your schedule been lately?”
Harry ran his fingers through his hair. “For a while I talked at memorials, but now that they’re over I just try to relax, until school. I’m staying at my friend’s house and going about my day. I visit my godson and his grandmother every day. He’s a really smart boy and I love talking to his grandmother.”
“You seem very close to them.”
“Any reason why?”
“It feels good looking at someone who just sees Harry. That’s it.”
Dr. Thompson wrote down another note. “I see. Do they expect anything from you?”
“No. Nothing besides feeding and bath time.”
“Does your friend’s family expect anything from you?”
“Just to relax before school.”
“Do you do that?”
“Most of the time. I’m still anxious when I leave the house or walk down Diagon Alley. I continue to check the wards and loud noise make me jump. Is there something wrong?”
“No. Your body is trying to adjust to the new changes in your life. You went from fighting and running to nothing. It will take your body time to regulate to the shift in environment, but when it happens, you’ll feel much better.” Dr. Thompson pointed to the water on the table in front of Harry. “Would you like some?”
Harry shook his head. “No, thank you.”
“Okay. What do you plan to do for school?”
“Finish the year I missed.”
“How does it feel to be a student again? You mentioned before that you didn’t get a chance to fully experience it.”
“I didn’t. There were too many things going on for me to finish properly. I hope to do that, this year.”
“I do too.” Dr. Thompson looked at the clock in the room. “We’re almost out of time. Is there anything else you would like to tell me? How is life at your friend’s house?”
“It’s great.” Harry smiled. He talked about life at the Burrow, until their time was up.
* * *
That night, after dinner, Harry sat on the benches. His thoughts strayed to topics he didn’t discuss with Dr. Thompson. Harry looked back at the sky, sighing softly. I wonder what Malfoy’s doing. He could still see Malfoy in the bookstore. He’d looked tired and weary, but who didn’t look that way after the war. Malfoy looked smaller like he hadn’t eaten in awhile. That can’t be too good.
Harry stopped going back to his last thought. He chuckled. I’m thinking about Malfoy, perhaps I have cracked.
“There you are. Ron and Hermione are looking for you.”
Harry turned around to Fleur, Bill, and Charlie who walked over to him with bowls of ice cream. He waved to them. “Oh, I didn’t mean to leave. I just wanted to look at the stars tonight.”
“They are quite nice. I don’t blame you,” Charlie said, taking a seat next to Harry. Fleur sat on the other side while Bill pulled one of the lawn chairs over to the bench.
Fleur handed Harry a bowl. “We thought you might like some ice cream.”
“Thanks.” Harry took the bowl poking at the treat before eating it.
“Do you want another flavor? We have more if you want,” Bill said.
Harry shook his head. “No, I’m fine. This is good.”
“Okay. Are you getting back with Ginny? She looks happy and Ron is elated.”
Harry tensed. “We’re hanging out together, but nothing more.”
“Ron keeps dropping hints that you’re going to be married soon. Is this true?” Charlie asked.
Harry poked at the melting ice cream. “Ron drops many hints. There are some of them that I miss and I’m not trying to miss them, but it doesn’t happen.”
“You will tell them about this soon, right? It wouldn’t be right to do something for the benefit of someone else and they’re hurt in the end,” Bill said.
“I know and I will tell them soon.” Harry gripped the bowl. “If I don’t become a proper member of the family will it upset you and Charlie?”
“Harry, as far as I’m concerned, you’re part of our family. With all the help you’ve given us I can’t help, but think of you as part of the family. I know Ron, Ginny, and Mum would like for you to marry and become a proper Weasley, but that has to be your choice,” Bill said.
“Bill and I are masters at going against the choices of the family. No, let me change that. We’re masters of doing what we want to do. I can’t tell you how many witches mum has thrown my way over the years,” Charlie said.
“Not to mention the times Mum has threatened to cut my hair and close the hole in my ear,” Bill added.
“What we’re saying is now is the time for you to make decisions on your life. Other forces will push you into things that seem to be in your best interests, but you’ll have to decide if it’s for your best interests. If that makes sense,” Charlie said.
Harry nodded. “Yeah, it does. I guess I have some decisions to make, but I have time to make them.”
“Yes, and you have more than enough time, too,” Fleur said.
Harry smiled. “I do have time. Thanks.”
“No problem. But don’t be so hard on Ron or Ginny, okay?” Bill said.
“I won’t. Don’t worry,” Harry said.
Bill smiled. “Alright, think we can name some constellations tonight?”
“I think so.” Harry turned to the sky, enjoying his ice cream. His head felt clearer than it had been for awhile. Harry had another thought, but decided to keep that quiet for a while.
* * *
The next few days found Draco trying to keep his temper as Auror after Auror visited the manor. After he sent his response to Headmistress McGonagall Winchester, his partner Cunningham, and Watson, an Auror specializing in families, showed up. They evaluated Narcissa and Draco on everything to their daily routine, to the places Draco visited in Diagon Alley, and the letters from Andromeda.
Draco knew the routine by heart. An Auror would enter the Manor, look at him and Narcissa in distaste, then make a sarcastic comment of their décor. After Draco and Narcissa took their Veritaserum then the questions would begin. The answers didn’t change often, but each Auror felt there was some unforeseen answer in them. Draco put in a request for a new wand, but Auror Winchester quickly shot down the chances of obtaining a wand in the following week. Draco would be lucky to get one at all when school started.
Draco bit back the curse on his tongue. He couldn’t say anything and the Aurors that visited them took pleasure in that. Draco noticed the slight twitch in Narcissa’s twitch with every sarcastic comment.
However, if they said one thing Lucius would be up for the Dementor’s Kiss. Draco couldn’t risk that. He feared that would push Narcissa over the edge. For Narcissa’s well being Draco kept quiet. His experiences in Diagon Alley didn’t approve. Angry wizards and witches continued to follow him, but he found escape routes each time. Draco knew it was only a matter of time before his luck ran out, but he didn’t stop. His trips to Diagon Alley were not attempts to see Potter again. Well, he was able to convince himself that when he left every day.
Draco didn’t like that Potter entered his thoughts again. He was supposed to hate the wizard not wonder about his well being. Draco could still see the way Potter looked in the bookstore. He had slight bags under his eyes, his clothes was baggy, well, baggier than normal. Potter’s hair was the same and his need to protect, but Draco knew that wasn’t going to change.
After dinner and desert one evening, Draco’s thoughts returned to Potter. He tried to focus on the words on the page, but couldn’t. He marked the page sitting back in his seat. No thoughts about Potter can be healthy. I should look into getting a healer. Draco sighed softly turning back to his book when there was a knock on his door.
“Yes,” Draco called out. The door opened revealing Narcissa with her current blanket.
“I wondered if you would like some company.” Narcissa asked.
Draco’s features softened he nodded. “Yes that sounds nice.”
Narcissa smiled walking into the room. She patted Draco’s shoulder on her way to the couch. Narcissa took a seat smoothing out her elegant sweeping skirt. She started on a row, clearing her throat softly. “Draco, son, I know we haven’t talked much, since, well, you know.” She paused starting again at Draco’s nod. “I just wanted you to know that you can talk to me. I want us to start improving our communication skills. I understand if there are things you would rather not talk about. You are growing up after all, but if there is something you want to talk about we can.”
Draco sat back fiddling with one of the pages. The threat of having their words used against them was gone. They now had the chance to talk. Could he tell Narcissa what was on his mind? He decided that it was time to talk to Narcissa.
Draco smoothed the page back out turning to Narcissa. “Mother, I do have concerns about returning to school.”
“What are they, dear? Is it because this will be your last year?” Narcissa asked.
“Yes, and I’m sure everyone is aware of our involvement in the war,” Draco said.
“The Prophet has done excellent work keeping the Wizarding World up to date. However, the war is over and we have changed. The past shouldn’t affect your time at school. McGonagall is good at keeping people on track. I don’t think you have to worry about much,” Narcissa said.
“McGonagall is good at that. She didn’t reject my response. She sent another letter with the things I will need along with a welcome back to school,” Draco said.
“See it sounds like it’s bound to go well. Is the school repaired yet?”
“No, I think we’re going to have to help with that. It doesn’t sound like we’re going to do too much, but McGonagall hasn’t released any details.”
“Well, McGonagall won’t make you do too much. If she doesn’t think it’s necessary.”
“It is against her normal duties. I suppose I’ll just have to see what she wants us to do when we’re there.”
“Yes, I can’t wait to hear about it. I’ll also look for the letter about your first day.”
“I’ll write after I’m settled.”
Narcissa smiled. “Good.” She turned to the window, laying the knitting needles down in her lap. “Looks like a clear night tonight.”
Draco turned to the window with a nod. “It does.”
They enjoyed the stars in the clear night sky as a peaceful silence entered the room. Narcissa turned back to her blanket after a few seconds. “Draco.”
“I wouldn’t worry too much about Potter and his friends. Pansy and the others are returning, yes?”
Draco nodded taken back slightly by the mention of Potter. “Yes, they are.”
“Then the transition should happen smoothly. However, remember Draco, take this year to think about what you would like to do. Whatever decision you make, should be something to make you happy,” Narcissa said, putting in another stitch.
Draco swallowed. “Mother…”
Narcissa placed her blanket down turning to Draco. “I will tell you, that nothing hurts more than regret over a changed decision. I only realized my younger mistakes at an older age. I’m able to set some of them right. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Keep this in mind while making a decision this year. Don’t forget to think about your well being. That is one of the important things to remember. Please remember that, dear.”
Draco looked down at the way Narcissa gripped her hands. He knew the last few years were harder on her than any one. He only learned of her relationship with Andromeda. If Narcissa could make strides to fix the past, maybe it was possible for Draco to do the same.
Draco nodded. “I will.”
Narcissa smiled, relief deep in her eyes. “I’m glad. Do you have any career in mind?”
“No, I haven’t thought about it,” Draco said.
Narcissa started knitting again. “Well take your time. I’m sure there is something for you.”
“Yes, I believe so, too.” Draco returned to his book. They held light conversation that carried on into the evening. Draco couldn’t think of a better way to end the evening.
* * *
Harry sat on a couch in the living room, watching everyone bustle around the Burrow. His trunk was packed and his bag sat by his foot as he watched Ron run upstairs and Molly fuss over Ginny. Hermione would meet them at the station. She wanted to get ready at home like her first year at Hogwarts. Harry grinned at the memories of his first year. Everything was so new and unusual without the worry of prophecies or evil wizards.
Harry’s grin faltered at the thought of the current school year. There were no prophecies to worry about, but there were tests, homework, and the future. Could he keep up? Would the wards hold on the Burrow? Would everyone be safe when they were away? Harry started to have second thoughts about going back.
Arthur walked in the living room and took a seat next to Harry. “So, are you ready to go back?”
Harry nodded, rubbing his sweaty hands against his jeans. “As ready as I’ll ever be.”
Arthur laughed. “It’s alright to be nervous. I was nervous every year I went back to Hogwarts.”
“You were?” Harry asked.
Arthur nodded. “Yes, the new school year always bought some surprise I didn’t expect. Then there were the assignments, N.E.W.T.s., and sneaking out at night.” He laughed at Harry’s surprised look. “It was one more year of freedom before I had to grow up and start my career and whatnot, but I enjoyed it. I hope you’ll enjoy your last year too.”
Harry relaxed at Arthur’s words. “Thank you, Mr. Weasley.”
Arthur patted his shoulder. “You’re welcome.”
“There you are. I was looking everywhere for you.” Molly walked over. “Do you have everything, Harry?”
Harry nodded. “Yes.”
“Okay, we’re loading everything now. It’s time to go,” Molly said.
“Alright, we’re coming Molly.” Arthur and Harry stood up. Harry grabbed his bag and trunk as Molly yelled for everyone else. Ron and Ginny came down with their trunks and bags, grumbling along the way. Charlie and Bill walked into the living room with Fleur, the twins, and Percy.
“Don’t just stand there. Help them with their trunks,” Molly fussed before disappearing back into the kitchen.
Harry laughed, watching everyone scramble around the living room. Once Charlie and Bill had the trunks, they were off to the platform. When Harry and the Weasleys arrived at the platform, Hermione called them over.
“Hi guys, are you ready to go?” Hermione asked.
“I am, but I’m not looking forward to schoolwork and actually studying,” Ron grumbled.
“It beats running around,” Harry said. Hermione and Ron nodded in agreement. They couldn’t argue with that. They turned around when Fred and George walked over.
“The trunks are all packed away,” Fred said.
“Now the only thing left is Mum’s inspection and you can go,” George said.
“I think we’re next,” Ron said looking over at Molly fussing with Ginny. Harry turned to walk over when Fred and George pulled him back.
“What’s up?” Harry asked.
“We wanted to give you a little going away present.” Fred placed a bag in Harry’s hand.
George winked. “You know. To liven up the school year.”
Harry peaked in the bag. He laughed, closing it back and put it in his pocket. “Thanks guys, I’ll be sure to use it.”
“Anytime,” Fred and George replied.
Harry patted his pocket and went to Molly and Arthur. Molly fussed over Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny while Arthur told them to have fun and write often. Finally they were able to get on the train. It felt good to board the train without any worries of evil forces. He did keep an eye out for Malfoy, though.
* * *
Draco walked through the train, trying to find a place to sit. It was hard to do so with hexes, curses, and shoves thrown his way. Making it to the platform was easy. Draco and Narcissa had an Auror escort after all. Draco stood in a spot where no one could see them. He stayed with Narcissa, until it was time to board the train. Draco was worried about his mother, but she was planning on seeing Andromeda and Teddy and that calmed his nerves. Draco knew she could hold her own against the Aurors.
Draco kept an eye out for Potter on his way to the train. He tried to find him when a spell knocked over his luggage trolley. He looked again when someone tripped him up on the train. Draco thought he would run into him again, but it was hard to look when someone was pushing him against the wall. He decided to stop looking for Potter and try to locate Pansy and the other Slytherins.
It didn’t go as well as planned.
Draco couldn’t find a seat. It’s not like he had many options, what with all the warm greetings he received. He sighed, resisting the urge to hex the passengers on board. Ollivander gave him that wand for a reason; Draco was going to use it properly. He slipped into the first empty compartment he could find and leaned against the door, releasing a breath in relief.
“Why, we meet again.”
Draco looked up at those words and straight into Luna’s eyes. He waited for the hex to come, but nothing happened.
“Oh, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Nargles may be on this ride, but they’re not scary,” Luna said.
Draco eyed her carefully. “Nargles?”
“Yes, pesky things they are. But there is nothing to fear. You must be tired. Please sit down.” Luna patted the seat next to her.
Draco looked at Luna in disbelief. “You want me to sit next to you.”
Luna nodded. “Unless you need to use the bathroom first. If you don’t then you’re welcome to sit. Or are you looking for someone?”
A few names appeared in Draco’s head, but he didn’t say anything. “I was, but I couldn’t find them. I’m going to look for them when we’re at the school.”
“I’m sure the Nargles haven’t gotten to them. Too bad the Scingers aren’t here. They could point us to them.”
“Yes. They’re helpful in pointing out people we want to see.”
Hmm, people we want to see. Draco placed his hands in his pockets.
Luna wasn’t perturbed. “Would you like to look around some more?”
Draco shook his head.
“Would you like to sit? You can stand if that makes you more comfortable.”
“No, I can sit down. Do you mind?”
Luna smiled. “Of course not.”
Draco sat down carefully his hand on his wand just in case Luna wanted revenge for the time at the Manor. When Luna only smiled and returned to her book, Draco relaxed.
“Cauldron Cake?” Luna offered.
Draco eyed the cake warily, turning his eyes to Luna.
Luna placed the cake down on the cover of her book. “I assure you it’s not poisoned. It would ruin the flavor of the cake that way. I have Chocolate Frogs and those lovely jelly beans, if you like?”
“No, thank you, I’m fine.”
Luna nodded, placing the cake back in her bag. “I have more if you want some.”
“Would you like something to read?”
“No, I have a book of my own.”
“I have the Quibbler if you want a copy. It has a wonderful article about Marthels. They can sense danger.”
“Oh, I’ll check it out later.”
“Alright.” Luna returned to her book leaving Draco in shock. Luna didn’t do anything to him. He expected a curse or two, but only received a smile. Draco observed Luna a little while longer before getting his book. He looked at Luna out the corner of his eye. Luna didn’t notice or so Draco thought.
After a few tense minutes, Luna looked up.
“Do you see a Flurrieth around my head?”
“You’re staring at me quite intently. Flurrieths can make someone stare at another person for a long time. I wondered if one was around my head.”
“No, that’s not it.”
“Does it have something to do with the events of a few months ago?”
Draco swallowed, nodding lightly.
“Well, in that case I have to say that I have no grudge against you. The situation was out of your control. You had about as much control as a Scinger.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“Enjoy the rest of the ride? Why, yes I will.”
“Should stay with me, enjoy the ride and these lovely sweets.” Luna reached in her bag, pulling out a Cauldron Cake.
Draco couldn’t wrap his mind around Luna’s reasoning. He figured that was normal, but it still didn’t help.
“Want a Cauldron Cake? Very nice, Draco. I believe after what we experienced, the use of last names isn’t necessary. Unless, you would like to start over.”
Luna giggled at Draco’s shocked look. He didn’t mean to let his mask slip, but the news shocked him enough.
“I take that as a yes. So, let’s start over. Hello, my name is Luna Lovegood. What’s yours?” Luna asked.
“Draco Malfoy,” Draco replied warily.
Luna smiled. “It’s nice to meet you Draco. Would you like a Cauldron Cake?”
Draco looked at Luna’s face and didn’t see hate or anger in her eyes. She didn’t look like the other passengers, but Luna never looked like the other students. Draco took the Cauldron Cake slowly from her hands. “Thank you.”
“You’re quite welcome,” Luna smiled, returning to her book.
She’s not as crazy as rumors suggested. Draco bit into the Cauldron Cake slowly. He decided to stay with Luna for the remainder of the ride. It was better than going on a blind search for Blaise and the others. If they were on the train, Draco would see them in the Great Hall. He sat back and opened his book again. Draco relaxed for the first time since stepping on the train.
* * *
Harry wanted to go and look for Luna, Neville, and anyone else that had come back, but people swamped him whenever he poked his head out the carriage. After his third attempt he decided to enjoy the ride instead. He didn’t count on students searching for his compartment. Harry pulled down the shades and tried to read a Quidditch magazine.
He tried until Ron and Hermione started arguing. Normally Harry didn’t mind, but their recent arguments ended with Ron and Hermione snogging as if the Dark Lord was making comeback. Harry could tell this argument was going to end the same way.
Harry tried to think a way to extricate himself. The knock on the door saved him.
“Can I come in?”
“Sure thing, Neville.” Harry shifted along the seat so Neville could sit down.
“Thanks. I think those girls would have torn me apart if I didn’t leave soon.” Neville took a seat next to Harry. He looked over at Ron and Hermione and waved. “Nice to see you guys.”
Ron and Hermione stopped their argument with equally red faces. Hermione tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “Hello, Neville.”
“Hey, Nev. How are you?” Ron asked.
“I’m good, but I didn’t expect to get mauled like I did. I had people wanting to get my signature or trying to grab my shirt. I’m just glad I found you guys. I tried to look for Luna, but I don’t know where she disappeared to,” Neville said.
“Knowing Luna, she floated somewhere,” Ron said.
“She could be with Ginny,” Hermione added.
Neville nodded. “That’s true. I’m sure we’ll run into her once we get inside the castle. I’m not going back out there again.”
“I don’t blame you. I’m not going back out there either,” Harry said.
Harry sat back in his seat as Neville explained the last days of his summer. His nerves started to grow as they approached Hogwarts, but he resisted the urge to look out the window for any unseen force that could stop the train. Harry took a breath and counted to ten. There was nothing to worry about. He was a student on the Hogwarts Express with his friends. Harry relaxed enough to enjoy the rest of the ride.
* * *
“Draco, wake up.”
Draco woke with a start, looking around the compartment quickly before sitting back down in his seat. “Yes?”
Luna closed her bag. “It’s time to go. I didn’t want you to be left behind on the train. Then you wouldn’t be able to find your friends.”
Draco looked outside the window at the sea of students waiting for the carriages. The first years were on their way to the boats while the older students met up with their friends. Draco couldn’t see any recognizable faces from his year, not Pansy or even Potter. He ignored that thought and opted to change for school instead.
Luna sat by looking out the window while Draco changed. “The thestrals are very lovely this year. They are beautiful creatures, even if they don’t receive the attention they deserve.”
“Hmm,” Draco responded, closing his bag.
“Are you going to find your friends?” Luna asked.
“If they are here,” Draco said, putting on his bag.
“I know they are.” Luna stood up and adjusted her bottle cap necklace and her hair. She turned to Draco with a dreamy smile. “Time to go, we don’t want to be on board when the Nargles come around.” She walked out the compartment, leaving a curious Draco behind.
Draco walked out a few seconds later, trying to figure out Luna’s intentions once again.
* * *
“Any sign of Luna?” Ginny asked.
“No, I don’t see her.” Neville looked around trying to see among the sea of students in the Great Hall. They hadn’t seen her when they waited for the carriages.
Harry was keeping an eye out for Luna and Malfoy. He wondered if Malfoy was among the Slytherins that had returned. Harry looked over at the Slytherin table. Parkinson, Zabini, Goyle, and Nott were there, but they sat further down from everyone else.
I guess he didn’t come back after all. Harry shifted at the weird feeling of disappointment that settled in his stomach.
“I found her, wait…why is she walking with Malfoy?” Ron asked.
“What? Where?” Harry asked trying to spot them. His eyes widened in surprise as Luna walked with Malfoy down the hallway. Harry tried to focus on the questions around him, but he couldn’t. He wanted to know why Luna walked with Malfoy. He wanted to know if they rode together on the train. He wanted to know why he cared so much.
Harry didn’t have to wait for long. Luna waved goodbye to Malfoy once he walked over to the Slytherin table. The Slytherin’s return was another question on Harry’s list. Luna walked over with her trademark smile. “Hello, everyone. Has the Headmistress started her speech yet?”
Neville shook his head. “No, not yet--”
“Why were you walking with Malfoy?” Ron blurted out.
Hermione glared. “Ron!”
Luna didn’t seem surprised. “We rode the train together. I helped him look for his friends since I didn’t want the Nargles to get him before we left.”
“I doubt a worm like Malfoy has any friends. Besides the other worms that decided to come back,” Ron said sneering
“Ron, he has the right to return to school. Not even Malfoy can be denied a second chance at education,” Hermione reasoned.
Ron glared. “After what he did to Hogwarts he shouldn’t be allowed to come back. He should be rotting in Azkaban with all the other Death Eaters.”
“What would be the point of the war if none of the things stop? Malfoy was a victim of his upbringing. We shouldn’t mess with him,” Neville said. He flushed when everyone turned their attention on him. “Well, we shouldn’t!”
“Fine, but I still don’t think he should be here,” Ron said.
“Neville’s right, Ron. We should leave him alone,” Harry said.
Ron looked at Harry as if he’d announced giving up magic forever. “Not you too! Has the world gone mad?”
“Not to my knowledge,” Luna said. Ginny giggled as Ron sighed.
“Well, we can--” Harry started when McGonagall motioned for everyone to be quiet.
“Welcome back new and returning students. I’m happy to announce the reopening of Hogwarts. Our walls may need repairing and the classrooms rearranged, but that will not stop us from enjoying this school year.” McGonagall stopped at the applause.
“I know the Prophet has not left out any information about the current state of our world. Outside opinions will not change the way Hogwarts will run. Students will treat each other with the same level of respect that they show to their professors. I do not expect anything less, understood?” McGonagall’s sharp tone swept around the Great Hall; there was no room for discussion.
Harry peered over at the Slytherin table, locking eyes with Malfoy. He didn’t have the same withered gaze like that time in the bookstore, but he did look weary. The look disappeared as Malfoy glared and looked away. Harry frowned in confusion before turning back to McGonagall.
“Now, let’s welcome our incoming first years,” McGonagall said.
Hagrid walked through the hall with the first years, stirring memories of first year up from the back of their minds. Harry watched the first years file into the hallway and over to the Sorting Hat. Harry fought the urge to look over at the Slytherin table. He tuned in to the conversation going on around the table.
On the Slytherin side, Malfoy did the same thing. He’d noticed three students glaring at him since he walked in the Great Hall. Draco expected that; he ignored it and turned back to his food. The three students continued to glare at Draco throughout dinner. Draco didn’t look over. He focused on talking to Pansy and catching up with her.
* * *
After the sorting and dinner, McGonagall called the 8th years to meet in her office. Luna and Ginny wished Harry and the others a good night before going to their respective rooms. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville were curious to see how many students for their year returned. They filed into the office, looking at the door every time it opened.
Parvati and Padma Patil arrived a few minutes after the trio and Neville. Hannah Abbot and Erine Macmillan were next. Terry Boot slipped in with Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan. Theodore Nott was one of the first Slytherins to arrive. Malfoy, Parkinson, Zabini, and Goyle came in next, along with two more girls that Harry didn’t recognize. Lavender Brown was the last to arrive. She avoided their looks as she sat next to the Patil twins.
Everyone in the room huddled together with people in their respective houses. Harry looked over at Draco who ignored his gaze once again. He didn’t know why he tried to get Draco’s attention, but the man had been on his mind since they’d met in the bookstore. Harry concluded that he wanted to know what Draco had been doing since the trials. That was a reasonable question.
McGonagall walked into the office, and looked around at them all. She cleared her throat, getting their attention.
“Welcome back to Hogwarts everyone. I’m not surprised that many of your fellow peers decided to pursue others means to start their future. We will wish them good luck on their endeavors. We’re glad that all of you have decided to finish your education after the unauthorized break last year.” McGonagall stopped when everyone murmured in agreement. She started again when the room quieted down.
“As you know, your schedule will not be the same as that of the Seventh year students as many of you received an Outstanding for many subjects. The students that didn’t attend the last year will have to share a few classes with the seventh years. The Ministry has instated another class to your roster. You will take Muggle Studies along with the classes required for your career. You will also receive a free period where you can study or rest for the day.”
“You will share your classes with each other during the renovations of our school. Cleanup will happen during the weekend. We’ll only clean up during the week when it’s necessary.”
“Professor, is it possible for us to assist in the clean up?” Draco asked.
Draco surprised everyone in the room. He picked invisible lint off his robes as he waited for McGonagall to answer.
“It is good to see such enthusiasm so early in the school semester, Mr. Malfoy.”
The students looked up to Dumbledore’s smiling portrait. “Don’t mind me I’m just enjoying my time up here. It is nice to see some familiar faces here once again.”
Harry waved with Hermione and Ron. Draco paled and continued to pick at his robes.
“Good evening, Albus. So nice of you to join us,” McGonagall said.
“I wouldn’t miss the welcome back speech of the year. I shouldn’t interfere, though. Please continue.”
“Thank you.” McGonagall turned back to the students. “To answer your question, Mr. Malfoy, yes, you can assist in the clean up if you would like.”
“At what times?” Draco asked.
“The weekend and whenever you are available,” McGonagall said.
“Okay.” Draco nodded and fell silent again.
“Does anyone else have any questions? Yes, Mr. Weasley.”
“Where will we sleep?” Ron asked.
“Your new dorms are located on the third floor behind the gentleman’s portrait. I will escort you there after the meeting,” McGonagall said.
“Wait, are we all going to be in the same dorm?” Ron asked.
“Yes, Mr. Weasley. Will there be a problem?” McGonagall pursed her lips in a thin line.
Ron looked over at the Slytherins huddled together at the side. He shook his head. “No, ma’am.”
“Very good.” McGonagall pointed to Lavender. “Yes, Ms. Brown?”
“What if we have, um, certain things we need to take? Will we be able to take them?” Lavender asked.
“Yes, Madam Pomfrey has received the list of the medicines and other potions you may need. You can talk to her about schedules and any other concerns you may have,” McGonagall said.
“Professor,” Harry said, “can we still fly and play Quidditch?”
“Yes, you’ll be able to play for your house teams. Mr. Thomas?”
“Can we do art and similar classes?” Dean asked.
“Yes, those classes are available for anyone to take. It doesn’t count for your overall grade. It’s more of a recreational class instead. Mr. Finnegan?” McGonagall asked.
“Are we the only people coming back from our year?” Seamus asked.
McGonagall nodded. “I’m afraid so, Mr. Finnegan. I will let you know if we receive any more students. Are there any more questions?”
Everyone in the office looked around at each other, waiting to see if anyone had another question. When no one came up with one, they turned back to McGonagall.
“No, professor,” Hermione said.
“If you have any more questions feel free to ask me. I believe it’s time for bed. Follow me to your new dorms.”
The students followed McGonagall out the door as Dumbledore let out a cheerful good night. Everyone stuck to their own groups on their way up the stairs. McGonagall stopped at a portrait of a man dressed in a full tuxedo with a top hat.
“This is Gentleman Bradley. He is the portrait for your new dorm,” McGonagall said.
Bradley took his hat off with a bow. “Good evening my lady, good evening young men and women.”
“Good evening,” the students said.
“These dorms are refurnished rooms made specifically for eighth years. However, your house common rooms aren’t denied to you. I will leave the decision to you. It is getting late and you all have a busy day in front of you tomorrow. Rest up and I will see you in the Great Hall for breakfast,” McGonagall said.
McGonagall nodded to the group then turned to walk down the hall. Everyone broke off with their groups in a small conference on using the new dorms or going back to their old ones.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to be in the same room with them.” Ron gestured towards the Slytherin group.
“I don’t think they would cause any trouble,” Hermione said.
“You never know,” Ron said.
“Maybe we should try going back to our common room. I’m sure they’ll welcome us,” Parvati said.
“If we go back to our common room we’re not going to get any sleep,” Neville said.
“I do want to sleep tonight,” Harry said.
“We can always try it and see,” Padma said.
“What do you think they’re doing?” Ron asked looking over at the Slytherin group.
“I think we should ask them.” Harry stepped out of the circle and walked over. Ron grabbed his arm, trying to pull him back. “That’s not wise. You don’t know what they might do.”
“I thought Potter was old enough to make his own decisions, Weasley.” Blaise sneered.
Ron glared. “Isn’t there a rock you need to go hide under?”
“Ron, I’ll be okay.” Harry turned to Zabini. “Listen, we don’t want to fight, we just want to know if you guys are going to use the dorm.”
“I should hope so. It’s very comfortable,” Gentleman Bradley said.
Zabini narrowed his eyes. “Why do you want to know something like that?”
“Because--” Harry started when Ron jumped in. “Because we want to actually wake up in the morning.”
“What are you implying?” Nott spat.
“You know what I’m implying,” Ron spat back, stepping up to Nott.
“Don’t start--” Theodore started when Draco walked forward. He whispered to Pansy who let go of his hand.
“The Headmistress gave us two choices. We’ll make our choice and you can make your own. In the morning, we’ll see what happens. Sound good?” Draco asked Harry, ignoring the tension simmering between Ron and Theodore.
Harry nodded. “Yeah, it does. Is that alright with you guys?” He looked around the crowds.
There were varied sounds of agreement as Draco brushed past to address the portrait.
“I’ve made my choice.” Draco walked up to Bradley. “The password?”
“The password is the person behind this statement. ‘And though it is much to be a nobleman, it is more to be a gentleman.’” Bradley said.
“Anthony Trollope,” Padma answered.
Bradley smiled. “Very good. I can see I’m going to like you all.” He swung the portrait open and Draco walked inside. Pansy and the two girls followed.
“Theo, let’s go,” Blaise said.
Theodore scoffed at Ron and turned to follow Blaise and Greg inside.
Ron huffed. “I can’t believe them. Who let them back in?”
“The Headmistress knows what she’s doing. Where are we going to sleep?” Hermione asked.
Ron shrugged. “Haven’t decided yet, what do you think Harry? Harry!”
“Yeah?” Harry snapped out of his daze. I don’t get it. Malfoy didn’t put up a fight or anything. Not even an insult towards Ron or us. That’s odd.
“Well, where should we sleep?” Ron asked.
“At this point anywhere will be fine.” Harry ran his fingers through his hair.
“I’m going inside.” Lavender walked over to the portrait.
Parvati looked over in concern. “Lav…”
“No, I’m not going back. I can’t. They wouldn’t accept me,” Lavender finished softly. She muttered the password and walked inside.
“I’m going to join you, Lavender.” Parvati turned to her fellow Gryffindors. “Sorry guys.”
“It’s alright, go on,” Hermione said.
Parvati gave a quick thanks and walked over to the portrait. Erine, Terry, Padma, and Hannah agreed to go to the portrait for the night. They bid the other eighth years a good night and disappeared behind the portrait.
Neville yawned. “Going to our new dorms doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”
“We can try the Gryffindor Tower tomorrow. For now, let’s try this dorm out. It wouldn’t hurt, right?” Harry shrugged.
Hermione looked at the door, adjusting her robes. “I suppose.”
“I’ll try it. Are you guys coming with me?” Neville asked.
“I am. What about you, Seamus?” Dean asked.
“I’m in. I just want to go to sleep,” Seamus replied.
“Then it’s decided we go to sleep in the new dorms. Don’t worry, Ron, we’ll keep an eye on Malfoy and the others just in case they do something out of line,” Harry said when Ron started to bristle.
“Okay. But I’m going to sleep with one eye open tonight,” Ron grumbled, walking over to Gentleman Bradley with the rest of their group.
“Um, what was that guy’s name again?” Harry asked.
“Anthony Trollope,” Neville said.
“Very good. Have a good night,” Bradley called, swinging his portrait open. Harry followed everyone inside. He looked around at the common room, taking in the décor. It looked like a normal common room with the sofas, chairs, and loveseats in a mixture of house colors. There was silver along the rugs, red on the chairs, yellow on the tables, and blue by the floor. All four houses flags hung together over the fireplace.
Harry imagined it could be much worse.
He looked around and saw no one there. That wasn’t surprising it was late and they had class in the morning.
Neville walked around touching the sofa lightly. “This doesn’t look too bad.”
“Yeah, it looks fine.” Seamus walked around with Dean close by. Hermione did the same with Ron and Harry noticed the only other person without a partner was Neville. Neville didn’t seem to mind as he walked over to Seamus and Dean. Harry joined Ron and Hermione by the fireplace.
Harry pointed to the flags. “I guess McGonagall is working towards inter house unity, if these flags are anything to go by.”
“I’ll work with the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, but McGonagall is asking for a miracle if she thinks I’m going to work with snakes,” Ron said.
“Ron, they haven’t done anything,” Hermione said.
“Yet,” Ron replied.
“You don’t know that,” Hermione said.
“Yeah, that’s it. We don’t know,” Ron said.
Harry could feel another argument brewing between them and didn’t want to be around to hear it.
“Um, guys, I’m going to go to bed now. We do have to get up tomorrow,” Harry said.
“Dean and Seamus have already gone to the dorms. I’m going to join them. Night.” Neville waved and turned to go to the stairs.
Harry yawned and rubbed his eyes. “Yeah, I’m heading off too. Night.”
Ron said good night to Hermione and followed Harry down the hall.
Hermione giggled and walked towards the girl dorms as Harry and Ron walked to the boys’ side.
Harry chuckled at the goofy smile on Ron’s face. “I hope your face doesn’t stick like that.”
Ron’s flush deepened as he hissed. “Shut up. When you and Ginny get together you’ll probably have the same look.”
Harry felt a weird knot in his stomach at the thought, but tried not to make it known. He laughed it off. “I don’t think I’ll be that bad.”
“Sure.” Ron opened the door to their room and walked inside. It looked like their old dorms except with the combined colors of the houses. They looked around at their dorm mates, but the curtains hid their identity. They could see Neville and that settled their worries. Harry and Ron quietly got ready for bed. They wished each other good night before slipping underneath the covers.
Harry took off his glasses and placed them on the night table. He turned to the ceiling, going over the day in his mind. It would be the first time since he started school that no one would chase him. His life wasn’t in danger and his worry was classes the next day. Harry didn’t know if he should worry or enjoy it.
I’ll think about it tomorrow. Harry turned to his side and closed his eyes.
* * *
(September part 2)
“WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?”
Harry jumped up with a start, scrambling for his glasses. He nearly tripped out of bed with his wand raised.
“What? What?” Harry asked as Neville looked just as alert.
“They’re our dorm mates!” Ron yelled pointing over at the Slytherins in the room. Draco sat irritated on his bed his wand clutched in his hand.
“Of all the sights I could possibly wake up to, a screaming Weasel was not high on my list.” Draco hissed.
“Like I wanted a damn ferret on mine,” Ron snapped back, causing Draco to narrow his eyes.
“Ron, you woke us up for this?” Harry asked, falling back to his bed.
“Yes, I don’t want to share a room with them.” Ron pointed to Draco and Blaise.
“Listen, we thought Theodore and Greg would be here with us. When we arrived our stuff was here and we fell asleep waiting for them,” Blaise said.
“I think our stuff was put here for a reason. Because I don’t see Dean or Seamus anywhere,” Neville said.
“We’re over on the other side with Nott, Goyle, MacMillian, and Boot.” Dean walked into the room with Seamus.
“Did you hear Ron?” Harry asked.
“How could you not? He woke up the whole room,” Draco grumbled, moving his hair to the side.
Harry looked over at Draco taking in his loose hair. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Malfoy like that before.
Draco looked over catching Harry’s eye. He glared at him. “What? Do I surprise you, Potter? Contrary to popular opinion, I do sleep.”
Harry rubbed the back of his neck, ignoring the knot in his stomach. “Yeah, well, I didn’t think a Malfoy woke up so disheveled.”
“Time with Granger did you good if you can use words like that.”
“I knew that word.”
“Guys, please. It’s too early for this,” Neville said, stifling a yawn.
Harry and Draco glared at each other once more before turning away. Blaise’s eyes narrowed a bit, he wiped his face clean soon after. Ron glared as Neville walked back to his bed placing his wand under the pillow.
“Since I’m up, I call the bathroom first. We have to get ready to for class anyway. We’ll sort this out later,” Neville mumbled on his way to the bathroom. When the door closed behind Neville, everyone in the room started to prepare for the day. Harry expected Draco to say something or stop Neville, but he didn’t. Harry found that strange for some reason. He turned around when Ron tapped his shoulder.
“Hey,” Ron leaned closer to Harry, “did you sleep alright?”
Harry nodded. “Yeah, I did. I didn’t dream at all, so that was good.”
Ron grinned. “Okay.” He straightened out and walked over to his bed. “Hopefully we can change without any trouble.”
“There will be no trouble started, if one doesn’t cause it,” Blaise said coldly.
Ron glared at Blaise, clenching his shirt. “What was that?”
“You heard me. I won’t repeat it,” Blaise said.
Ron threw his shirt down and stalked over to Blaise when Neville walked out the bathroom. He walked over to Ron and turned him towards the bathroom. “I’m done now; why don’t you go next?”
“W-Wait! I’m not done with him!” Ron exclaimed.
“You don’t want to keep Hermione waiting on the first day of classes, do you?” Neville asked.
Ron opened his mouth to protest then thought better of it. He walked in the bathroom and closed the door.
Harry laughed. “That was brilliant, Neville.”
“Thanks. It was the right thing to do.”
“I agree,” Harry snickered, placing his wand back under his pillow. He stood up noting the absence of Draco and Blaise.
“Where did they go?” Harry asked.
“Next door with the other Slytherins. They nearly knocked us down to get over there,” Dean said.
“So much for unity,” Seamus muttered.
“Yeah,” Harry said looking at the door. Why did he leave in such a hurry? Why do I even care? He pushed it aside and got ready for the day.
* * *
“At least we can use the shower in here. I don’t want anything of mine to mix with Weasley’s things.” Blaise muttered.
Draco nodded. “I’m sure it has fleas and other unmentionable things.” Hmm, so that was Potter in the morning. I didn’t think his hair could be crazier than normal. Draco stopped placing his tie in his lap. Did I just think about him?
“Draco, are you okay?” Theodore asked. Blaise looked over hiding his curiosity under a look of nonchalance.
Draco nodded. “I’m fine. Just going over our schedule for the day.”
“We have to go out soon. I hope you have your hexes ready.” Theodore slipped his uniform shirt on.
Draco noticed Blaise studying him and lifted an eyebrow in question. Blaise turned back to the sink leaving Draco to clear his mind. He had to prepare to go back out in public. He couldn’t worry about Potter or his morning routine. Draco walked over to the bathroom when Terry shoved him hard against the wall. Draco gritted his teeth against the pain and shot a glare at Terry.
“Shit, what’s your problem?” Draco hissed.
Terry glared back. “You and the fact that you’re back here. You have no right!”
“I have as much right as you!” Draco pushed Terry back into Goyle who grabbed him.
“Change on the other side.” Goyle pushed Terry out the door. He threw Terry’s robes out and closed then locked the door. He walked back over and shifted through his trunk for his uniform.
“What did I tell you? Hexes at the ready,” Theodore muttered closing the bathroom door with a sharp snap.
Draco rubbed his shoulder and walked over to his robes. He could tell it was going to be a long day.
* * *
Harry and Ron walked downstairs to find the girls sitting on opposite sides of the common room. They walked over to Hermione who was glaring at Pansy.
“Good morning. What’s wrong?” Harry asked.
“They decided to hog the bathroom for most of the morning. I thought I was going to be late for breakfast by time they were finished,” Hermione said.
Pansy scoffed. “For others, beauty does take a while, but I don’t think you would know that.”
Hermione’s glare deepened as she pushed away from the table. “At least I don’t have to use piles of makeup just too look presentable for ten minutes!”
“You little--” Pansy started when Neville walked downstairs with Dean, Seamus, and Terry. Harry noticed Terry, Dean, and Seamus glaring at the Slytherins on their way out of the portrait. He didn’t see Draco or Blaise. Pansy and the other two Slytherin girls dashed up the stairs.
“They do know we have breakfast soon, right?” Neville asked.
Ron shrugged. “Who cares. They’ll slither down when they’re hungry. Come on let’s go,” He moved towards the portrait as Hermione, Dean, Seamus, and Terry followed. Neville stayed behind with Harry who stared at the staircase.
“Are you okay?” Neville asked.
“Yeah, I guess I thought they’d be down by now.”
“I thought so too, but we shouldn’t worry. It’s probably nerves or something.”
“I guess so. Want to get some breakfast?”
Harry looked at the staircase one more time before walking out with Neville.
* * *
“Pansy, I’m fine. Stop hovering,” Draco said, walking down the stairs.
“I noticed you weren’t downstairs waiting in the common room. None of you were,” Pansy said.
“It’s hard to get ready for school when our ink bottles exploded in our bags. We had to stop the curse and clean everything.” Theodore said.
“Who cast it?”
“Finnegan. He thought it was a good idea,” Draco said.
Daphne Greengrass frowned. “I always knew he was dumb.”
“He’s a Gryffindor. That should be obvious,” Pansy said.
“It’s a good thing you were able to clean everything before breakfast,” Tracey Davies said.
“If there’s any left,” Draco muttered, stepping out of the portrait. He could hear Bradley’s cheerful, “Good morning!” behind them.
* * *
Harry sat at the Gryffindor breakfast table moving his bacon around on his plate. He could hear Hermione going over their schedule for the morning with Ron groaning at the list. Ginny joined them at the table. Harry didn’t mind, but he didn’t know why Ginny glared when he waved. He greeted her. What did he do wrong?
“Hello, Harry. I see the Flurrieths are very lovely this morning.” Luna sat down next to him.
“Hello Luna. Do I have any in my hair?” Harry ran a hand through it messing it up even more.
Luna giggled. “They don’t land in your hair. They fly around your head.”
Harry had a question about the invisible creatures, but didn’t ask it. It made Luna smile and that made him feel better.
“Did you greet Ginny this morning?” Luna asked.
Harry almost choked on his eggs. “W-What?”
“She’s quite upset that you didn’t greet her properly,” Luna said.
“I was supposed to do that?”
Luna nodded. “Yes.”
“I didn’t know that.” Harry turned to Ginny, tapping her shoulder.
“Hold on, Parvati. What’s up?” Ginny asked.
“Sorry about not greeting you. I didn’t know,” Harry said.
Ginny sighed softly, but smiled. “It’s alright. I know you’re getting back into your routine. You’ll eat lunch with me, right?”
“Er, yeah, I can,” Harry said.
Ginny beamed. “Great, I can’t wait.” She turned back to Parvati, starting their conversation again.
Harry turned back to his breakfast. He didn’t feel excited over the prospect of lunch with Ginny. Nor did he feel the need to kiss her cheek or hold her hand. Harry didn’t feel anything. That was the problem: he didn’t feel anything.
Maybe I should see Madam Pomfrey. Harry grabbed another piece of toast.
“Oh, look, the Slytherins are here.” Luna waved to Draco. Draco looked at Luna in surprise, but returned the wave warily.
“They made it to breakfast after all. That’s good,” Harry said. He felt relieved to see them even if they did sneer in his direction. He watched them take a seat at the end of the Slytherin table away from the other students. It didn’t matter. Some of the students at the table moved further down the table.
Harry frowned. They’re not doing anything. They just sat down for breakfast.
“Can’t believe they have the nerve to show their faces here,” Ginny said. “Can’t they eat in their room?”
“You mean our room. We’re sharing a dorm with them,” Harry said.
Ginny gasped in disbelief. “What? Why don’t you demand a new room or just come back to the tower.”
“McGonagall set up the room for the eighth years. I think she wants us to work together or something like that,” Harry said.
“It’s a bunch of rubbish. How can we work with them?” Ron shot a glare at the Slytherin table. Blaise gave the two-fingered salute in return. Ron bristled and started to stand up when Dean shook his head.
“It’s not worth it.”
“He started it,” Ron grumbled.
“No, he didn’t. You did,” Hermione said.
“Are you standing up for them?”
“I’m saying don’t act like a git to someone and not expect them to retaliate in return. They’re eating breakfast like we are and not doing anything. We have more important things to do, like look at our schedule for the day.” Hermione pushed the parchment Ron’s way.
Ron grudgingly looked at the schedule. Harry looked over at the Slytherin table, noticing Theodore cleaning some food off his robes. It looked like the plates on the Slytherin side decided to revolt and spit their food back at them.
“Ron, why would you do that?” Hermione asked.
Ron looked over in confusion. “Do what?”
“Make their plates do that. I understand you’re angry, but that’s not right,” Hermione said.
“I didn’t do anything. If I did I would remember it. Now I find it funny, but I didn’t do anything,” Ron said.
Harry looked over at the Ravenclaw table and saw someone put their wand away. He frowned. I can’t believe this! Harry pulled his wand out and disabled the curse over at the Slytherin table. When everything settled down, he slipped his wand back in his pocket. Harry caught Draco’s gaze as he shifted back to the table. Harry saw something in Draco’s eyes, but it disappeared quickly.
Harry didn’t think much about it as he finished his breakfast. The tension from the war still hung in the air around the castle like a humid wave during summer. Wounds weren’t fully closed and many horrors continued to haunt the castle’s walls right along with the ghosts in the castle. Harry could understand that, but he wouldn’t understand unnecessary violence.
Luna saw the exchange between Harry and Draco, but didn’t say anything. She giggled, pulling out an issue of the Quibbler to look over.
* * *
“I can’t believe that happened,” Blaise grumbled, casting a cleaning charm on his robe.
“I’m not surprised. I knew something was going to happen, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon.” Daphne picked cereal out of her hair.
“After what happened last year, I’m not surprised.” Pansy swept toast crumbs off her shoulder.
“Who did it though?” Theodore asked.
“I bet it was Weasley. I know he wouldn’t hesitate to do something to us,” Blaise said.
“No, it was the Ravenclaw who’s been glaring at us since yesterday,” Draco said.
“Where?” Tracey peered around the Great Hall.
“There is one at the Ravenclaw table, one at the Gryffindor table, and one at the Hufflepuff table. They glared at us when we entered the Great Hall yesterday. I doubt they’re going to stop soon,” Draco said.
“We won’t see them in class so it doesn’t matter.” Goyle cast a cleaning spell and resumed his meal.
Draco saw the tight set of Goyle’s jaw. The hex affected Goyle more than he showed, but he held back. It was a common trait around the table. The plates acted correctly for the rest of the meal. Draco waited for the plate to act up again, but nothing happened.
What is Potter playing at? I thought he would find it funny. There has to be something he wants. I know it. Draco finished his bacon, trying to figure out Potter’s motives.
* * *
Breakfast ended without another incident. A glass did tip over Blaise and Draco’s heads, but a similar thing happened to Terry Boot so it was fine. Harry, Ron, and Hermione bid farewell to Ginny and Luna and walked to class. They avoided the many younger students who wanted to get a glimpse of the trio. He didn’t think it would be this difficult to walk to Transfiguration. Harry was relieved when they entered McGonagall’s classroom.
“I didn’t know McGonagall was teaching again,” Ron whispered.
“She would be the best to teach us. I heard there’s a new Transfiguration teacher for the younger students,” Hermione said, taking their seats.
“Good thing we’re not in the same class with them. I don’t think we would get anything done,” Harry said.
“It’s good to see you’re looking forward to class. I thought you would avoid it like it was an enraged hippogriff,” Hermione said.
Harry chuckled. “It’s weird, but I do look forward to class. I don’t look forward to our assignments or tests, but I do look forward to class.”
“It was a miracle to hope for that, but at least you’re in class,” Hermione said.
“I know how you feel. It doesn’t feel bad to be in class. I’m not ready to study again, though,” Ron said.
Harry grinned as Hermione looked as if Ron had proposed with a diamond. She pulled out her supplies with a fond smile. Harry looked at the door when Ron returned the look. He didn’t want to watch his friends undress each other with him in the middle. He saw the other eighth years enter, but he didn’t see any Slytherins.
I wonder what’s taking them so long. Harry thought.
Goyle walked into the room first. He quickly took a seat at the back of the room. Blaise followed with Theodore; both looked like they wanted to curse the nearest body. They took a seat in the back. Tracey and Daphne, Harry learned their names at breakfast from Ginny, walked quickly to the back and sat down. Pansy and Draco walked in last. Draco carried his busted bag while Pansy held up her torn robe.
“What happened to them?” Harry asked.
“Looks like someone wasn’t happy about their return either,” Hermione said.
“It was crazy in the hallway.” Neville joined the trio at their table, placing his bag on the surface.
“What happened?” Ron asked.
“Someone cast a few hexes and they hit many of the Slytherins. I stopped the one unraveling Parkinson’s clothes and the one destroying Malfoy’s bag. Luna stopped the other curses and Professor McGonagall cleared and cleaned the area. She wanted to me to let the class know she’s going to be a bit late,” Neville said.
Harry’s anger flared at the news. “How could they? Did someone think it was funny?”
“I don’t know why you’re getting upset. They deserved it,” Terry said.
Harry spun around to face Terry. “No, they don’t.”
“Why are you defending them anyway? They don’t belong here. I don’t know why McGonagall accepted them,” Terry said.
“She accepted them because everyone deserves a second chance.”
“Are you sure about that? I don’t think any Death Eater should be given that chance.”
“ Dumbledore gave Snape a chance and he saved everyone lives. It’s not like they did anything to you.”
“They did because they’re still alive, but the people I love are gone!”
Harry gripped Terry’s shirt. “They lost people too! You can’t say that they didn’t lose anyone!”
Hermione and Ron tried to pull Harry away while Dean and Seamus pulled Terry away. Draco stared at the scene in confusion. He knew Longbottom had helped them; his sickening big heart didn’t chill after the war. Potter continued to be a mystery. A fight was going to start over their acceptance back in the school. He didn’t get it.
“What is wrong with Potter?” Blaise asked.
“I don’t know, but I’m sure it has something to do with his hero complex,” Draco said.
“Still, his behavior is odd,” Blaise said.
Draco nodded and turned back to the scene.
Harry and Terry were yelling at each other, trying to break out of their friends hold. It looked like a fight was going to break out, until McGonagall walked into the classroom.
“That is enough!” She waved her wand; Harry and Terry were back in their seats, but they couldn’t get up.
“That charm will hold until the last person leaves the room. You two will stay after class. I will alert your teachers about your tardiness,” McGonagall said firmly. She glared at them and turned to the board. Everyone settled down, but Harry and Terry glared at each other with venom in their eyes, until Harry looked away.
Who does he think he is? I can’t believe he would say something like that. He wouldn’t say that if he’d faced the same thing. Harry fumed. There is the bag Fred, George gave me, and I don’t know when I’ll get this chance again. He settled in his seat with a grin. Ron and Hermione looked over in confusion, but returned their attention to the board.
“Welcome to the first day of Advanced Transfiguration. I have taken the position of professor to finish your lessons in Transfiguration. Now pull out your books so we can begin.” McGonagall waved her wand at the board and the lesson appeared.
Neville dug in his bag for the book when something landed in front of him. He looked around before opening the note.
Neville turned around to Pansy who ignored him, but her eyes flicked over for a second. Neville nodded and turned back around. Pansy’s lip twitched as she focused on her notes.
* * *
Transfiguration went on without any trouble. No one would be foolish enough to do anything around Professor McGonagall. After class, Harry and Terry stayed for their punishment. When McGonagall finished issuing their punishment Harry and Terry walked out the room. He walked over to Ron and Hermione waiting outside.
“How bad was it?” Ron asked.
“I have to come back and write lines. When I reached 400 I can leave,” Harry said.
“That’s not too bad. At least she didn’t ban you from Hogsmeade or anything like that. Are you okay? You did get really angry,” Hermione said.
“I’m glad she didn’t. I didn’t mean to get angry, but when Terry picked on the Slytherins my control slipped,” Harry said.
“Terry was being an arse so it fits. I wanted you to take a swing at him,” Ron said.
“I don’t think that would be wise. It’s bad enough you already got detention on the first day. No need to make it worse,” Hermione said.
“I couldn’t help it. He really made me angry and it just came out.”
“We just started school again. It will probably calm down in time,” Ron said.
Hermione nodded in agreement. “Yeah. Come on, we have Herbology next.”
Harry nodded and adjusted his bag. He had to get a better grip over his anger. He didn’t want to be kicked out for hexing to next week.
* * *
Draco tried to go to each class without much trouble. It didn’t work out like he planned. Between being shoved, pushed, and almost hexed, he couldn’t make it to class on time. He didn’t hex anyone, but a few charms mysteriously hit many students. Classes passed by without much trouble.
Neville kept an eye on any wayward vines that might try to grab one of the students. Hermione continued to answer questions, but had a surprising opponent in Theodore. Theodore wanted to dispel the image his family provided. Pansy stopped a vine from wrapping around Neville’s throat. She felt that returned the favor, but Neville didn’t mention it. Harry watched Terry and Terry watched him with the same intensity.
Ron worked in between Harry and Terry to keep the bickering down to a minimum. It didn’t work when he left to get the pruning shears and Terry made a snide comment. Ron walked back to Harry and Terry tumbling on the ground. Ron and Dean broke up the fight. Harry and Terry had to visit McGonagall’s office later on that day.
After Herbology, it was a double period of Charms. Professor Flitwick was impressed that no one messed up the complex charms. Hermione found a rival in charms with Pansy. Draco had a few problems with his new wand, but after three tries, performed the charm. Harry looked over when Draco had trouble. He stopped the urge to go over and help. He felt good when Draco performed the charm correctly. It was another thing for Harry to think about during detention.
After Charms, it was time for lunch. Harry and Ron trudged down to the Great Hall with Hermione. She animatedly talked about their day and looked forward to the rest of their classes. Ron and Harry didn’t think it would be so hard to go back to classes. Harry nearly jumped at every sound in the castle. His mind knew the castle creaked and moved, but his body caught on seconds later.
Harry sighed quietly at the table. It’s only the first day back. You have to adjust and things will be better.
“Hey, guys. How was class?” Ginny asked as Luna joined them.
“It was fine, except I have detention,” Harry said.
Ginny’s face fell. “It’s tonight?”
“Damn. I wanted to watch the stars with you tonight.”
“Yes, I thought we could have some time alone. I guess we’ll have to wait until your detention is over.”
“Don’t worry. We can make plans for this weekend.”
Harry smiled. “I promise,” I wish you would listen to me when I say I only want us to be friends. I’m going to try again this weekend. I can’t let this continue.
Ginny beamed. “Great. The stars will look better on the weekend anyway. Hey, why did you get detention?”
“I got into a fight with Terry.” Harry picked up a sandwich.
“Why?” Ginny asked.
Harry shrugged. “Over something stupid.”
“Okay. I hope you don’t get into another fight. I want to see the stars this weekend.” Ginny reached over and grabbed Harry’s hand. Harry gave a smile and squeezed back. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings.
* * *
Draco ate his lunch warily, waiting for any trick from the morning to repeat. The morning wasn’t the best, but it was something. At least the hexes stopped around lunchtime. Draco had expected the sneers and hexes; he hadn’t anticipated the help from the Gryffindors
It was normal for Potter to save someone and for Longbottom to join him. Their interference kept Draco from hexing the whole school. Three students observing the eighth years end of the Slytherin table, unnerved Draco. He ignored them and continued with his lunch.
Draco had to prepare his mind for the rest of the day.
* * *
After lunch, the eighth years walked to Muggle Studies. Muggle Studies would be the first class to talk about Muggle life and culture. Harry wanted to know about their assignments and their teacher. Draco and his friends sat in the back of the classroom like before. There was nothing wrong with their bags or clothes so Harry calmed down. It didn’t stop Harry from glaring at Terry.
“Welcome class. My name is Mrs. Olivia Thompson and this is Muggle Studies. In this class I’m going to show you the ways Muggles live and learn in their world.” She waved her wand at the board and the subject of the day appeared on the surface.
“What are we going to do?” Harry asked.
“We’re going to look at magazines, books, and different pieces of technology that Muggles use to make their lives better. It’s the way they work magic in their world,” Thompson said.
“Are we going to look at tellys and stuff like that?” Ron asked.
Thompson nodded. “Yes, we’re going to look at different products as well.”
“Will we look at Muggle theater?” Hermione asked.
“Yes, it is very popular on the Muggle side of England. Their plays are different than our productions. I’m going to explain those differences. If it’s possible I would like to organize a field trip to the Muggle side of London to view a play, but we will have to see what Headmistress McGonagall has to say about that.”
“Why is this class important?” Blaise asked.
“This class is important because it will help you function in the Muggle world, if you happen to find your profession over there. Many things that we do would seem unusual to Muggles. This class is to help you prepare for that situation.” Thompson looked around the room. “Are there any more questions?”
When silence met her, Thompson smiled. “Alright. Let’s get to work.”
* * *
The first day in Muggle Studies didn’t go as badly as Harry imagined. He was able to go through class without anything happening. He sneered at Terry, but it didn’t go any further than that. The lesson was Muggle entertainment. Harry and Hermione knew many of the things Mrs. Thompson put on the board. Everyone looked confused with the different titles and names.
“I would like to see one of those films in a Muggle Theater,” Ron said on their way back to the common room.
“Maybe we can get Mrs. Thompson to make that one of our field trips,” Hermione said.
“It would be a good idea. I went to the theaters once, but that was it,” Harry said.
“How was it?” Ron asked.
Harry remembered Dudley eating his popcorn, tripping him on the way to the bathroom, and drinking most of his pop. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience. “It was good. There are sweets and popcorn, and the floor is really sticky. The movie was entertaining.”
“Man, I’m going to ask if we can have that as our field trip,” Ron said excitedly on their way to Gentleman Bradley.
“Good afternoon! I take it classes were exceptional today?” Gentleman Bradley said.
“Classes went very well today, but now we have to get ready for Potions tomorrow,” Hermione said.
“Didn’t Slughorn take a vacation?” Ron asked as Harry gave the password.
“Yes, but he should be back by now.”
“I think he’s going to be on vacation for a while,” Harry said.
“Who’s going to teach Potions, then?” Ron asked.
“I’m sure they’ll hire someone.” Hermione took a seat on the couch in the Common Room.
Harry took a seat in one of the easy chairs, putting his bag by his feet. He noticed all the eighth years in the common room except the Slytherins.
“Doesn’t the common room look a bit empty?” Harry said.
“Yeah the snakes aren’t here to mess with us,” Ron said.
“They didn’t mess with us during class I don’t think they would start now,” Hermione said.
“Still, it’s a bit odd that they’re not here. I wonder where they went,” Harry said.
Hermione looked at Harry wearily. “You’re not going to start looking for Malfoy and the other Slytherins are you?”
“Don’t worry; it won’t be like sixth year. I’m just curious, especially after everything that happened today,” Harry said. I didn’t think I was that bad.
“I’m sure they’re in the library or meeting with the Headmistress. We’ll see them again during dinner,” Hermione said.
“Yeah, they can’t go anywhere, so there’s no worry,” Ron said.
“Okay, if you say so.” Harry sat back and tried to focus on the notes from Transfiguration. He resisted the urge to go out and check.
* * *
Draco was on his way to the common room when someone pushed him against the wall. He gritted his teeth and counted to ten silently.
“Listen, I’m trying to get to my dorm, so if you would kindly--”
“My dad was right. You do look like that guy on trial.”
Draco swallowed, wrapping his hand around his wand. “Who are you?”
“Take a good look at me and you’ll see who I am.”
Draco looked up into a younger version of Auror Winchester. He narrowed his eyes. “I know who you are. You’re the son of the Auror that is supervising our house arrest.”
“Very good. You’re not as dumb as I thought.”
“What do you want?”
“You have no manners do you? My name is Daniel. It’s only the first day, but it won’t take long for you true nature to come out.”
“What do you want?”
“I’m surprised you didn’t get any jail time. Then again you are too pretty for jail; they would tear you apart.”
Draco glared feeling a knot begin in the bottom of his stomach. “What do you want?”
“My dad told me to let him know if you or any of your friends get out of line. I agreed and decided to let my friends help me. They have similar assignments.” Daniel walked over to the corridor calling over two people. Draco’s grip tightened on the wand when another young man and a young woman walked around the corner.
“This is Sarah and Sam. I’m sure you’re quite familiar with their parents.” Daniel said.
Draco counted the people in the corridor and the exits around him. He could hex Sam and make his way out of the corridor before Daniel chased him. He didn’t know what Sarah would do.
“What do you want?” Draco repeated.
Daniel grinned; it made the hair on Draco’s arms stand on end. “I have some homework in the future that needs finishing and I know you’re the one for the job.”
“I don’t do anyone’s homework, unless it’s my own. Now if you want to bully me I suggest you try another way.” Draco turned and walked down the corridor.
“I guess Rita Skeeter would love to know about the craft projects your mother has taken up,” Daniel drawled.
Draco stopped in his tracks. “What did you say?”
“I said Rita Skeeter would love to know about your mother’s recreational activities,” Daniel repeated.
Draco turned to Daniel. “How do you know about that?”
“My dad did a thorough search through the Manor the other day and told me what he found. I think it’s pretty interesting, but then again that’s just me. I’ll just give this little tidbit to the Prophet and--”
Draco swallowed the insult on the tip of his tongue. “What do you want?” I can’t have mother humiliated any more.
Daniel’s grin widened. “I don’t have any homework right now, but when I do I expect it to be done. Sarah’s books are too heavy for her to carry and she needs help. Sam doesn’t have the skills in Potions that I heard you have, but we can always work out a plan later.”
Draco pushed down the anger bubbling in his system. “Tell me and I’ll have it done.”
“Good to know.” Daniel pushed off the wall and walked down the corridor with a snickering Sarah and Sam. “Don’t worry; I’ll have more things for you to do later.” His voice trailed off into the hallway, until it disappeared.
Draco stood in the corridor shaking uncontrollably. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but he didn’t imagine things would slip out of control. He hit the wall in frustration. If Rita Skeeter got even the smallest wind of the news, it would hit the Prophet and the wizarding world the next morning. He couldn’t let that happen, but he didn’t want to be anyone’s puppet again.
I need a place to think. Draco thought about the eighth year common room, but didn’t feel like dealing with Boot or Weasley. He walked down the corridor and took a right, a place already in mind.
I know where I can go.
* * *
Harry played with the page of his Transfigurations book. None of the Slytherins, except Goyle, had returned to the common room. Goyle sat in the corner, a Charms book open on his lap. Lavender sat next to him, reading a Herbology book.
Harry wanted to go back to his room and check the map. He didn’t think Ron would notice, but Hermione would pull him back to finish their note outlines. Harry turned back to his book and continued taking notes. McGonagall’s appointment would be soon. It was a good opportunity to check then.
* * *
Draco stood in front of the Room of Requirement with mixed feelings. The room did appear, but there were many memories behind its door. He could still see the fire and Vincent’s face when it swallowed him up. The way Potter flew back to save him. Potter felt thin, but Draco didn’t care. He wanted to get out of the room the quickest way possible.
Draco ran his fingers lightly along the wood of the door. I wanted a place to relax and I got it. I go inside or back to the dorms. He didn’t like the second option.
Draco opened the door and walked in.
Draco looked over at Pansy who sat next to Blaise and Theodore.
“Pansy? What are you guys doing here?” Draco took a seat in the nearest chair by Blaise.
“Isn’t it obvious? We can relax here without any problems. I don’t have to worry about someone undoing the thread in my skirt or putting something sticky in my hair.” Pansy sat back, looking older than her years. “They won’t let me live down what I did in the Great Hall. It wasn’t my fault. If I didn’t do that he was going to kill my parents. I just wanted everything to end.”
“We all did. No one faults you,” Theodore said.
Pansy scoffed. “You should read the Prophet.”
“We can agree that the Prophet is a piece of rubbish,” Blaise said.
“It’s only fit to line the owlery,” Theodore said.
Draco nodded. “Very true.”
“Did you meet our fans?” Blaise asked sarcastically.
“If you mean Sarah, Sam, and Daniel, then yes I have. They just made my day,” Draco huffed.
“Can you believe they had the gall to demand such things? I’m not going to do it,” Blaise said.
“If we don’t, then our parents’ sentence will be extended,” Tracey said.
“What happens if we do and the same thing happens?” Daphne asked.
“What’s worse? Being a servant or having Rita Skeeter humiliating our families further?” Draco said.
The room fell silent, the statement hanging heavily in the air. Blaise broke the silence. “If that’s the case then we’ll work for them, until we get the information we need.”
“We don’t have anyone working for us like we used to,” Daphne said.
“Then we find it,” Draco said.
A murmur of agreement traveled around the room. It would be hard with McGonagall’s new rules, but not impossible. Information traveled through the castle daily. It wouldn’t be hard to find if one knew where to look. With the decision made, everyone took out their books and started on their homework.
* * *
At dinner, Harry was relieved to see Draco and his friends at their table. He kept an eye on the table throughout dinner, just in case another piece of silverware decided to revolt. It wasn’t hard to finish his homework, but it took more concentration than before. He couldn’t get comfortable in the common room without knowing the state of everyone in their year. It was something he hoped would pass with time.
* * *
Draco returned to the Room of Requirement after dinner to read the next lesson for Charms. He learned that Goyle had returned to the eighth year common room. At dinner, Goyle told the table that when Boot wasn’t around the common room wasn’t bad. No one messed with him. Lavender did sit with him, but it wasn’t annoying.
Draco believed Goyle, but he didn’t want to leave the peace of the Room of Requirement. Everyone in the Room of Requirement planned to go back to the dorms to sleep. It would be easier to get into their rooms with the rest of the dorm sleeping.
Draco sat back in his chair and tried to relax.
* * *
“You are to write ‘I will not disrupt class’ 400 times. When you are finished, you may leave. There is a monitoring charm in the classroom, in case a fight happens. However, that will not take place, am I correct?” McGonagall said sharply.
Harry and Terry nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Very good. I hope this does not become a trend.” McGonagall’s sharp eyes cut through Harry. Her tone reminded Harry of the many times he’d got into trouble during first year. It held the same effect on him, years later.
“No ma’am,” they responded again.
McGonagall nodded. “I will be in my office. Good evening, gentlemen.”
“Good evening, Headmistress,” Harry and Terry said as McGonagall walked out of the classroom.
Harry scratched the back of his hand before starting on his lines. He didn’t want to think about the last time he’d written lines, but the back of his hand continued to tingle. Harry rubbed his hand again and continued to write.
“Why did you defend them?” Terry asked.
“Because it was the right thing to do; they didn’t do anything,” Harry said.
“Still, I thought you--”
“Terry, I don’t want to talk about the past or anything like that. It’s a new school year and a time to start over. Can we do that?”
Terry looked over at Harry and the pleading look in his eyes. Terry turned back around, messing with the hem of his robe. “We can. I just had a bad summer, that’s all.”
“I’m sorry about that,” Harry whispered.
Terry quickly turned around. “No, wait; it’s not your fault. Look, I’m sorry about the fight in class. I just have to get my anger under control.”
“It’s alright; but don’t accuse someone of a crime they didn’t commit. It doesn’t solve anything.”
Harry tapped on the quill watching it take over writing the lines. He sat back rubbing the back of his hand. “Since we’re stuck here, what should we do?”
Terry performed the same charm on his quill and sat back. “I don’t know. Do you want play tic tac toe? It’s a Muggle game that’s in our book.”
Harry shrugged. “Sure, why not?” It sounds interesting enough.
Harry and Terry played tic tac toe while their quills scribbled furiously on the parchment. It helped pass the time. They didn’t fight either, even though it continued to feel tense in the room. Harry talked with Terry and learned a little more about him. He did his best to answer Terry’s questions. He avoided any questions about the last couple of months.
Their quills stopped writing two hours later.
“We’re done,” Harry said.
Terry nodded. “Do we leave them here?”
“Yeah, Professor McGonagall will pick them up later or they’ll be sent to her office,” Harry said.
“Okay,” Terry counted the tally of their games. “I beat you 48 to 50.”
“Good game, but I’ll beat you next time.” Harry gathered his things together.
“Maybe we can play again tomorrow?” Terry asked hopefully.
“Sure,” Harry said.
The corner of Terry’s lips twitched into small smile. “Cool.”
Harry returned it as they walked out the room.
* * *
Draco woke up with a start. He took a deep breath, relieved when smoke didn’t enter his lungs. Draco rubbed his face, sitting up in the chair. It’s just a dream, just a dream.
“Are you okay?” Blaise asked.
Draco nodded. “Yes, I’m fine. I didn’t mean to fall asleep, not in here. I wasn’t too loud, was I?”
“No. You turned and twisted in your sleep, but that’s it. Do you need to see Madam Pomfrey?”
“I hope not.” Draco stood up and started gathering his things. “Pansy, we’re going to leave. Are you ready?”
“Yeah, I finished my work hours ago. I just fell asleep.” Pansy yawned and grabbed her bag.
“It’s easy to fall asleep with no opposition around us,” Blaise said.
“Only Weasley makes the noise. Potter and Longbottom are quiet,” Draco said.
“That is surprising, but not unwelcome. I hope they’re sleeping by the time we arrive in our rooms,” Blaise said, walking to the door.
“If we can make it to our room without much trouble then I can sleep.” Draco followed Blaise with Pansy close behind.
“Those brats should be asleep by now,” Pansy said.
“They better be.” Blaise walked out with Draco and Pansy. The other Slytherins finished their work in the library or the common room. Blaise, Draco, and Pansy looked around for Filch, any Prefects, and their three followers. They only saw Filch, but managed to escape him. Gentleman Bradley greeted Draco, Blaise, and Pansy happily.
“Good evening. I thought you three wandered back to your old living quarters.”
“No, just lost track of time studying,” Draco said.
“An admirable endeavor. I anticipate the high grades that will be coming in. You need to rest for tomorrow. Password?” Gentleman Bradley said.
Draco gave the password and walked through the portrait hole with Pansy and Blaise. They relaxed at the empty common room. Draco took another deep breath. To make sure that it was fresh, clean, air and not the smoke that seemed to be in his lungs minutes ago. Draco and Blaise wished Pansy good night and walked up to their room.
Weasley’s snores and the closed curtains around Longbottom and Potter’s beds ensued an easy night. Draco and Blaise went about their nightly routine quietly. There was no doubt that Weasley would be up early again, if only to meet Granger before class.
“Night,” Blaise whispered, walking over to his bed.
“Night,” Draco said, closing the curtains.
* * *
When the room fell silent, Harry pulled out the map. “Mischief managed.”
He put the empty map back in his night table and settled under the covers. Harry stared at the ceiling, going over the top ten rules of Transfiguration, until he fell asleep.
* * *
(September part 3)
The following days consisted of the eighth years getting used to their schedules. Their Potions class didn’t have a steady instructor instead a few substitutes took over. Most classes ended up as study hour or free hour as many students didn’t study during that time.
Ron became used to waking up with Blaise and Draco as roommates. He did argue with Blaise over time in the bathroom. Neville became the peacemaker of their room. Arguments normally ended with Neville trying out a new Muggle game for their class to settle the argument. Harry enjoyed watching Ron and Blaise’s bemused expression at every new game Neville introduced.
Harry avoided the many fans who wanted to shake his hand or go out with him. He noticed that boys and girls vied for his attention. Some days he could handle it, other days he wanted some privacy. Harry would hang out in the Room of Requirement on the days he wanted some privacy. Ron, Hermione, and the fellow eighth year Gryffindors joined him. On those days, Draco and his friends had the common room.
Both parties didn’t know that the other was in the Room of Requirement, but it lessened the time spent with each other and lowered conflicts. Harry did check the Marauder’s Map when Draco stayed out late and Draco took the long ways to watch Harry go to class. They started to greet each other in the morning. Insults over their morning appearances didn’t seem as harsh as they had that first morning.
Harry started to notice Malfoy during class. He watched Malfoy’s brow furrowed when he moved the wand. The way Malfoy licked his lips when he repeated a spell. The way Malfoy relaxed when the spell worked caused Harry to let out a breath of relief as well. Harry looked away when he realized his actions. He didn’t know how to explain if Malfoy caught him.
Draco had a similar problem with Potter. He would look over in Muggle Studies as Potter answered different questions. His eyes would stray again in Herbology when they worked together on the same snapping plant. Draco noticed the way Potter’s smile reached his eyes at a joke Weasley made. Some days Potter enjoyed the attention at school. Other times he made a quick exit through one of the side corridors after class.
It surprised Draco. He thought Potter would enjoy the attention not shy away from it. Then again, Potter did many things he didn’t expect. Many of the Gryffindors exhibited the same behavior. Longbottom was around whenever someone bullied Pansy. When a cup of pumpkin juice emptied its contents over Blaise’s head, Finnegan hexed the student responsible.
Draco waited for Potter or someone to demand something in return, but they didn’t. Draco didn’t rule out the possibility of it in the future. Sam, Daniel, and Sarah made good on their threat. Draco received their homework at night, in the third corridor behind the suit of armor on the third floor. He returned it on the same spot hours before class the next day.
When Draco fought back, Daniel revealed another piece of information about Narcissa’s craft projects. Draco had no choice. The lack of information on Daniel prevented him for enacting any revenge. Draco completed the work in the Room of Requirement away from the other eighth years, except his friends who were busy with the same thing. Draco felt his pride wilt with every scratch on the parchment. He worked until he was too tired to dream.
* * *
“Harry, did you try Madam Pomfrey’s suggestions?” Ginny asked. They were outside sitting in one of the fields by the lake. Harry promised Ginny some time together at the start of the weekend and he made good on that promise. However, he didn’t see Malfoy at all in the morning. He couldn’t help, but wonder where Malfoy disappeared to.
Harry nodded. “Yeah.”
“Did any of her suggestions work?” Ginny asked in concern.
“Not really, but I haven’t tried all of them. I’m going to do one tonight.” Harry rubbed his eyes.
Harry had started to have flashbacks about the battles on the grounds. Sometimes he could smell the smoke in the corridor. He could feel the fire in the room and the smell of blood on his clothes. Harry tried to go to sleep, but it didn’t work. He stayed up for the rest of the night. After the third sleepless night, Harry visited Madam Pomfrey. The sleep suggestions were good in theory, but hard in practice.
“We can cancel our date if you’re too tired to keep going,” Ginny said, watching Harry stifle a yawn.
Harry shook his head. “No, I said we would spend time together and I meant it.”
They fell quiet for a few seconds. Harry turned to the lake to watch the breeze ripple the surface of the water. They were alone together, but Harry didn’t have a single subject to bring up. Normally, he counted on Hermione or Ron to think of something, but they were off “studying” as Ron put it, so Harry had to fend for topics on his own.
It wasn’t working so well.
Ginny picked with the grass by her jeans. “This isn’t very exciting, is it?”
Harry rubbed the back of his neck. “I guess not. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, you’re tired and we just started school again. We’ll have more things to talk about soon.”
“Okay.” Harry felt his stomach twist at the idea of coming up with another idea.
“Want to know how much the common room has changed?”
* * *
Draco stared at the ceiling in the Room of Requirement. The silence in the room gave him a chance to let his mind wander. His search of information on Daniel, Sam, and Sarah didn’t get the anticipated results. He only knew of their houses.
Sam was a Ravenclaw. Riddles and intricate coding kept his secrets safe. Sarah was a Hufflepuff, but no secrets left the burrows of their common room. Daniel was a Gryffindor and Draco knew no secrets were leaving that lion’s den.
Why are all Gryffindors so damn difficult? Draco huffed and turned to his side. He thought back to the way Potter acted. It varied from Potter being talkative one day to distant the next. Potter still greeted Draco and Blaise, but he looked tired.
Like that time in the bookstore, except it’s worse. Does he get any sleep at all? Draco turned on his back, moving a strand of hair away from his face. Is someone bullying him? Not everyone was happy with the defeat of the Dark Lord. Then again it would be hard to bully Potter with Granger and Weasley around. Why am I worrying over him? I have my own affairs to sort out.
Draco sat up and stretched along the couch. He’d finished his homework hours ago. He could do Daniel’s work later, the little git. Draco walked over and took a seat at the desk. He pulled out some parchment to write his daily letter to Narcissa. Draco had kept Narcissa’s letters since the first day back. It was good to know that Andromeda and Teddy lifted Narcissa’s spirits on days the Prophet had an article about the Death Eaters.
Good to know theProphetwon’t slow down any time soon. Draco rolled his eyes and continued writing.
* * *
Harry and Ginny had a similar awkward lunch at The Three Broomsticks. Harry pulled out Ginny’s chair and opened the door for her, but he didn’t feel any butterflies when she smiled or grabbed his hand. It felt more like a dinner between two friends, not a romantic date. After lunch and a walk through Hogsmeade, they returned to the castle.
“Do you want to come back to Gryffindor Tower with me? I can show you all the new decorations,” Ginny said placing her hands in her pockets.
“Sorry Gin, I’m kind of beat. I was thinking about going back to the common room and taking a nap. I’ll come by next time,” Harry reassured her.
Ginny smiled. “Okay.”
Harry walked Ginny back to Gryffindor Tower talking about small things along the way. They stopped in front of The Fat Lady who happily greeted Harry. Harry returned the greeting. He did miss seeing The Fat Lady every day after class. Ginny stopped; she turned to Harry and reached for his other hand.
Ginny smiled. “I’ll see you at dinner.”
Harry returned it. “See you.”
Ginny leaned up to kiss Harry, but the butterflies didn’t return. He turned his head as Ginny’s lips landed on his cheek. Ginny pulled back not hiding the hurt in her eyes. She slipped her hand out of Harry’s grasp and walked over to The Fat Lady. Ginny gave the password and walked inside.
Harry considered the option of going inside and apologizing to Ginny.
“I can always let a few things slide for love,” The Fat Lady cooed.
Harry shook his head. “No, it’s fine.” I’m sorry Ginny. He turned away from the door and walked down the hall.
* * *
After Draco delivered the letter, he walked back to the common room. He spent the afternoon reading in the common room with Greg and Brown. When Draco walked in, he was surprised to see Brown and Greg sitting together on the couch. Brown usually kept to the Patil twins or by herself when Draco saw her. She was relaxed around Greg, but tensed when Draco sat in the armchair next to the couch.
Her tension eased when Draco didn’t move except to turn the pages. People relaxed when he didn’t move or they realized he wasn’t going to hex them. Draco had a list of people he wanted to hex, but that wouldn’t be a wise course of action.
Dinner was quiet with the occasional plate and cup trying to put food on them. Draco engaged in a conversation with Pansy and Blaise about Poker, a Muggle card game explained in their book. He started to enjoy dinner, until he received a note from Daniel to meet him in the third floor corridor around curfew. Draco sent his response. He wanted dessert to last longer.
* * *
Harry and Ginny didn’t talk much at dinner. Ginny would look over at Harry with a guarded expression. She opened her mouth to speak then closed it and returned to her meal. Harry knew his dismissal was bad, but he couldn’t kiss her. He had to think of the right time to tell Ginny that they weren’t getting back together.
Harry felt a twist in his stomach at the thought of Ron’s reaction. Bill and Charlie took it well, but would Ron? Would Hermione understand?
He looked over at Ron and Hermione who were discussing something. Harry slipped in and out of the conversation, but he did know it had something to do with movies. It reminded him of the untouched homework in their room. Harry didn’t think about it. He joined the conversation at the table and finished dinner.
* * *
“Where the hell is he?” Draco hissed angrily. He leaned against the wall in the corridor closest to the Charms classroom, crossing his arms over his chest. He was in the correct spot, but Daniel wasn’t there.
He gripped the paper in his hand. This had better not be a set-up. Draco wanted to be back in the common room. He didn’t feel like wasting his time waiting in a deserted corridor, but the Prophet couldn’t get that information about Narcissa. Draco could imagine the headlines. The wife of a convicted Death Eater is slowly going mad. That would surely send the wizarding world buzzing.
Draco impatiently tapped his foot against the floor.
“So, you made it,” Daniel drawled, walking around the corner with Sam.
“I did. Now take your work. I do have a curfew.” Draco shoved the parchments at Daniel. This better not take long.
* * *
Harry couldn’t think in the common room. He slipped out when Ron and Hermione started arguing again. He walked down the hallway with no destination in mind. The silence in the empty hallways helped clear his head.
Harry watched the portraits leave their frames to visit each other. Ghosts flew down corridors letting each other in on the latest gossip of the school. Harry contemplated going to the kitchens for a midnight snack when he heard something in the corridor close by.
Harry stopped, waiting for Mrs. Norris’ cry or Flich’s yell. He moved forward when he didn’t hear anything. Harry peered around the corner his eyes growing in disbelief. What’s happening?
“What do you mean it’s not good enough? I finished the assignment, didn’t I?” Malfoy waved the parchment furiously in his hand.
The guy in front of Malfoy smacked it down. “You didn’t do it like I told you to. Go back and do it again.”
Malfoy picked the parchment up, ripping it to shreds. “I’m not doing it again. Finish it on your own.”
The same person shoved Draco against the wall. “Wrong answer.”
Harry couldn’t take it anymore. He pulled off the cloak and stalked down the corridor. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Shit.” The guy dropped Malfoy and ran down the corridor with his friend. Harry chased them down the corridor and turned the corner, but they had disappeared. He cursed and returned to the corridor and a surprised Malfoy. Harry looked down at the shreds of parchment on the ground then up at Malfoy. “What was that about?”
Malfoy pushed off the wall and dusted off his shoulder. “Nothing.”
Harry scoffed in disbelief. “Doesn’t look that way. Is something going on?”
Malfoy glared. “It’s none of your business. Just go back to the dorm.” He moved to walk by Harry when Harry blocked his path.
“I won’t until you tell me what’s going on.”
“Get out of my way.” Draco turned to go the other way when Harry grabbed the back of his robes. “Who are they?”
“None of your business. Let go of my robes.” Draco snatched at his robes, but Harry pulled them back.
“Not until you tell me what that was about.”
“Move! Do you want to get another detention?”
“I don’t care about that. What is going on?”
“I’m not telling you.”
“Damn it, why not?”
“Because you don’t need to know.”
Harry sighed, becoming annoyed quickly. “Why are you being so difficult?”
Malfoy narrowed his eyes. “Why do you care?”
“Because we didn’t fight to have same issues come up again.”
Malfoy stopped, fixing Harry with a hard stare. “Fine, but I’m not telling you out here. Follow me.” He turned and walked down the hall. Harry followed him out of the corridor and into an empty classroom. Harry closed the door and took a seat on a desk. “Alright, talk.”
Malfoy shrugged. “What is there to tell? It’s two people who don’t like that I’m back here. It’s nothing new.”
“That’s not it and I know it. You brought me here--”
“Only because you wouldn’t stop hounding me, until I did.”
“To tell me something and I know that wasn’t it. Just tell me what it is and we can leave.”
“Just because the Headmistress insists that we get along and work together doesn’t mean anything.”
“Stop trying to avoid the subject.”
“I’m not avoiding anything.”
“Will you just tell me? If you didn’t bring me in here to talk then why did you bring me here?”
Malfoy opened his mouth, but closed it again. He leaned against the desk, folding his arms over his chest. “I wanted to ask you something.”
Harry blinked in surprise. “What is it?”
“What are you doing? The fight with Boot, the counter hexes in the Great Hall, and the classroom. Why did you do that? Is there something you want?”
Harry didn’t know how to react. He scratched the back of his neck and shrugged. “I don’t want anything, but a calm school year. That’s why I did it and it’s why I’m asking you to tell me the truth.”
Malfoy looked at Harry intently, trying to find a hole in his story. He sat back when he didn’t find anything.
“Fine. The two guys you chased out of the corridor are the children of the Aurors who made my summer hell. They have certain information that the Prophetwould enjoy and I’m trying to stop that information reaching them. I haven’t found the information I need against them and until I do I have to do their homework and similar things for them.” Draco pushed a piece of invisible lint off his robes.
Harry flared at the news. “I can’t believe this! Did you tell McGonagall?”
Malfoy scoffed. “What is she going to do? If she punishes them then the news will only come out faster.”
Harry frowned. “So no one knows.”
“Their friend Sarah knows, and the others involved.”
Harry rolled his eyes at the discretion again, but he’d got this far. That was good. “You’re not going to tell me the others, are you?”
Malfoy shook his head. “No. You wanted to know why they messed with me and now you know.”
Harry wanted to know more, but knew Malfoy wasn’t going to budge. He resigned himself to going over the information he had. He didn’t think Malfoy was the only one being bullied. He heard from Neville that a girl cornered Parkinson earlier that week. Seamus told Harry a similar thing about Zabini. These attacks didn’t sound random and it looked as if only Slytherins were being attacked.
The thought of that caused a fresh wave of anger to bubble in Harry’s stomach. He pushed it down and thought the situation over again.
“What kind of information do they have?”
Malfoy glared at the desk behind Harry. “It’s about my mother.”
“Oh, um, is she alright?” Harry hadn’t forgotten Narcissa’s favor at the end of the war.
“She’s fine and it’s going to stay that way.”
They fell silent for a few seconds. Harry swung his legs lightly while Malfoy looked everywhere in the classroom, but at him.
Harry broke the silence first. “I can stop it.”
Malfoy looked at him in surprise. “Excuse me?”
“I said I can stop it. This behavior is dumb and there’s no excuse for it.”
“Your title as the Boy Who Lives Again can do a lot, but I doubt it can do that.”
Harry shook his head. “I’m going to stop it. You’ll see by the time we go on holiday break it’s going to end.”
Malfoy opened his mouth to deny it again when Harry locked eyes with him. The determination on his face and the sincerity burning in Harry’s eyes made Malfoy close his mouth and narrow his eyes.
“Fine, but don’t think I’m some damsel in distress. I don’t need to be saved, but your help could prove to be useful.”
Harry noticed Malfoy’s voice didn’t have the anger he expected. He sounded a bit grateful. “Alright, we can work on something tomorrow. Hey, what time do you think it is?”
Malfoy shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s probably a few minutes after curfew.”
“Then we can make it back to the dorm before Filch does his rounds.” Harry got off the desk and walked to the door. “Wait, are you going to be sleeping in the dorms? Or are you going back to the dungeons?”
Malfoy walked over to join Harry at the door. “That would be hard to do without the password.” He opened it and walked out the room.
Wait, did he try to be funny? Harry chuckled at the thought as he closed the door behind him.
* * *
Draco found Potter’s offer hard to believe. He didn’t understand why Potter wanted to help in the first place. However, it was hard to argue the minute he looked in Potter’s eyes. Determination replaced the wariness he’d seen since school began. It wasn’t that Draco noticed that or anything. It just made it hard for Draco to argue with him. That look stirred something that had brewed in him for a while. Well, longer than he cared to admit.
I can think about it when I’m in my bed. Draco walked through the portrait hole with Potter. Activity buzzed in the room the minute they walked through.
“Draco, there you are! We thought you were in the library or something,” Pansy said, going over to them.
“Harry, where did you go?” Hermione asked with Ron trailing behind her.
“I’m fine. I just ran into Potter and we had a little talk, right?” Draco said.
“Right,” Harry agreed. “The talk took longer than expected.”
Ron looked at Draco suspiciously. “He didn’t do anything to you, did he?”
“Oh, yes, because we have to make sure Potter is safe first and foremost.” Blaise snapped, causing Ron to glare.
“We do. I don’t see anyone jumping up for him,” Ron sneered, pointing at Draco.
“We were worried!” Pansy exclaimed.
Hermione crossed her arms over her chest. “It doesn’t feel the same.”
Pansy narrowed her eyes. “You little--” She started when Draco touched her arm and shook his head. “Don’t. I’m fine and nothing happened.”
Pansy checked Draco for any outward scratches or bruises. She stepped back, satisfied by her search. “Okay, come with me. I need help with this potion. It’s annoying me.”
“Sure.” Draco walked away with Pansy and Blaise as Ron and Hermione surrounded Harry.
How is he going to do anything if he can’t get five minutes to breathe? Draco sat down with Pansy at the nearest table and opened the book.
* * *
Draco woke up to the same morning routine. The exception being that Ron gave a tight nod in his direction and didn’t start his morning fight with Blaise. Draco didn’t think he was in the right room. The confused look on Blaise’s face suggested the same thing.
Neville sat up running a hand through his hair. “Did I oversleep? I didn’t hear any yelling this morning.”
“No, it’s just a good morning.” Harry grinned. He walked to the bathroom when Ron walked out.
Draco waited for his insult, but it didn’t happen. He received the glare, but no remarks about his appearance or being a ferret. It annoyed Draco, but he felt relieved not dealing with it. Blaise received his glare, but no insult. He gave a curious look at Draco, hidden by his passive face.
Draco shrugged; he didn’t know what was going on.
“Hey, we don’t want to be late,” Harry said, going over to the dresser.
“Right.” Draco grabbed his clothes and started his morning routine.
The morning continued to be strange when Draco walked down to the common room and saw Harry waiting by the portrait hole. He perked up when Draco approached.
“Um, I was wondering if we could walk to the Great Hall together,” Harry asked.
“Why do you want to do that? Where’s Weasley and Granger?” Draco noted the absence of Harry’s shadows.
“I told them to meet me in the Great Hall. Where’s Blaise and Pansy?”
Draco frowned. “When did you start using our names?”
Harry shifted from foot to foot, placing his hands in his back pockets. “I figured since we’re working together and have to learn more about each other, I’ll start using your names. I mean, you have them so it’s only right.”
“Alright,” Draco replied slowly. “I suppose you want me to use your names, as well.”
Harry nodded. “Yeah, I think it would be the step in the right direction.”
Draco eyed him suspiciously and adjusted his bag. “Very well, you may call me Draco. If you want to know about Blaise and Pansy, Blaise is going to be a little late. He told me something about borrowing a book from Finnegan. Pansy told me yesterday she was going to see Madam Pomfrey in the morning.”
Harry relaxed and took his hands out of his pockets. “So, that leaves me and you.”
“It appears so.”
“So, do you want to walk down?”
Draco agreed with a slight shrug of his shoulder. “Sure.”
They left the room together and walked to the Great Hall. On the way there, Harry asked questions about Draco’s summer. Draco provided short clipped answers to the questions, prompting Harry to ask more. When they were outside the doors of the Great Hall, an airy, “Good morning,” greeted them.
Harry grinned. “Good morning.”
“Morning,” Draco greeted.
Luna smiled. “Did you two sleep well?”
“Not bad,” Harry said.
Draco adjusted his bag. “Could have been better,”
“The Sneighers didn’t get you, did they?” Luna asked.
“Sneighers?” Draco asked.
“Yes, they appear in the middle of the night and stop you from sleeping. When that happens, I take a walk. The castle is quite lovely at night. I suggest that method when you can’t sleep,” Luna said.
“That sounds like a good idea,” Harry said.
Draco was skeptical about the news. “The ghosts come out around that time, correct?”
Luna nodded. “Yes, but they’re not scary. They have very interesting stories.”
“I think I can take my chances without the ghosts,” Draco said as they walked into the Great Hall. Their arrival caused quite a stir. Draco looked around in confusion. “What is going on?”
Luna giggled. “I believe this is something quite monumental.”
“Huh, why?” Harry asked.
“You two walked into the Great Hall without killing each other or arguing. I heard that was the proper entrance in the past,” Luna said.
“It is surprising. Why are you walking with me again?” Draco asked.
“We’re in the same classes. Don’t you think it’s appropriate?” Harry asked.
“I don’t think so, but something tells me you’re not going to listen to any sensible thing I say today.”
“I didn’t do it before. I don’t think it will change now.”
Luna giggled she watched Harry and Draco argue until they separated to sit at their respective tables. Harry and Draco’s entrance in the Great Hall sparked questions from many people. Ginny looked over at Harry in shock. “Why did you walk in with Malfoy?”
“We have our first class together, so I thought it would be a good idea.” Harry grabbed a piece of bacon before Ron could take the whole plate.
Ginny frowned. “That doesn’t explain anything. That’s Malfoy, why are you walking with him?”
“It explains a lot of things. I didn’t want to fight this morning, so I thought it would be better to just walk in with him. It’s something McGonagall wanted us to do, so I’m taking her advice,” Harry said in between bites of toast.
“Wait, I don’t get it. Ron, do you hear this?” Ginny turned to Ron who nodded. “Harry explained all of it to us last night. I still don’t get it.”
“It does sound unusual, but we aren’t going forward if we keep bringing up things from the past. I don’t think the Slytherins will do it though,” Hermione said.
“Do what?” Ginny asked.
“Be respectful to us. But Harry thinks it will work. I can’t speak for everyone, but I will make an effort,” Hermione said.
“I’ll do it if they do it,” Ron said.
Harry smiled. “Thanks guys.”
Ginny shook her head in disbelief. “I can’t believe this. I hope it works, but I wouldn’t count on it.”
I’m going to make sure it does. Harry shot a hex at a male Hufflepuff who charmed Draco’s plate to move away from him. When the green boils appeared on the Hufflepuff’s hand, Harry finished his pumpkin juice.
* * *
The day continued in much the same fashion. Draco didn’t receive as many hexes as a few days ago. The insults died down. They didn’t disappear completely nor did the shoves in the hallway, but he didn’t arrive to class bruised or fixing his bag. It felt good to walk through the corridors without keeping an eye on his bag or clothes. Not like, he would tell Harry about that.
In class, Harry sat near the area of the Slytherins. Harry worked with him in Charms, Transfiguration, and relieved their boredom in History of Magic. He taught Draco the Muggle game of tic tac toe. It didn’t make sense to Draco at first, but he picked it up after the tenth game. He felt the rules were still a bit ridiculous.
When they traveled from class to class, Harry stuck close to him. Draco wasn’t used to Harry being so close and pleasant around him, but it didn’t feel bad. They continued to bicker, but not with the same anger as before. Draco noticed the day for the eighth year Slytherins was better overall. Pansy didn’t wait in the bathroom for the halls to clear before class. Greg and Theodore didn’t curse or hit anyone in the halls. Blaise didn’t resort to hexing others when they tripped him in the greenhouse.
Draco didn’t find any information on Daniel, Sam, or Sarah, but the day ended well.
* * *
Harry hated to use his name to push anything, but people listened when he did that. Well, some people listened to him. A few thought he was crazy for trying to defend the Slytherins. Harry didn’t know why those people insisted on reminding him of the war. He had very clear memories of the war and it was the reason why he wanted to stop the harsh treatment. Harry knew he could join in, but that wouldn’t make things right. They deserved a second chance like everyone else.
Besides, Harry learned that Draco could be an enjoyable person when he wasn’t being a prick.
* * *
(October Part 2)
For the following weeks, the animosity in the school lowered. There were small incidents like Pansy fighting off two Ravenclaw girls or Blaise getting detention for the hex in Charms. Draco received detention after fighting in the hall before Potions.
McGonagall wasn’t able to contact Slughorn for another year. McGonagall hired Professor Shepard as a substitute. Shepard was resourceful about Potions. Draco didn’t mean to fight on her first day, but a seventh year Gryffindor bounded his ankles. He fell on the dungeon floor, scattering his things everywhere. Harry undid the hex, but couldn’t stop Draco from jumping on the kid. Draco didn’t care about detention.
After the fight, things in school slowed down again. Draco didn’t stand back and let Harry do all the work. When a fan cornered Harry, he chased them away. It was easy for an ex-Death Eater to chase a fan away. When someone couldn’t take a hint that Harry didn’t want to date, he cleared the air for them. It did cause a few questions to rise in Draco.
Draco thought once everything settled down, the Weaslette would be on Harry’s arm. However, it didn’t look to be the case. He saw Granger and Weasley together, but that didn’t surprise him. Pansy hanging around Longbottom surprised him. Greg and Brown, and Blaise sitting with Thomas and Finnegan marveled Draco. He looked forward to the explanation in the future.
Draco watched Harry decline dates from male and females alike. He wondered which Harry liked. Draco enjoyed male dates. If he had to date a woman he wouldn’t mind, but he’d rather date a guy. He speculated about Harry’s tastes and if they were the same.
* * *
Harry opened the door to their dorm and searched the room, walking over to join Draco by the table. “Hey, you’re here.”
Draco peered up from his Potions essay. “I am. What do you want?”
Harry took a seat next to him. “I wanted to know how things are.”
Draco placed his quill down. “I can walk through the halls without the worry of someone trying to push me down the stairs or shove me against the wall. The walk to Potions has been easier. I can finally eat without my plate spitting the food back at me. Other than that, nothing much.”
“Okay, good. At least some people are listening to me.” Harry sat back and ran his fingers through his hair.
“I noticed mornings are different. Is that your doing also?”
“Yeah, Ron likes beating Zabini in games more than arguing. Neville can take a break from being a referee, too, so it works out.”
Draco noticed the bags under Harry’s eyes. “Are you sleeping?”
Harry shook his head. “Not really.”
Harry gave a tired smirk. “Are you worried about me?”
Damn that smirk makes him cute. Draco returned it. “Maybe. I have to make sure my bodyguard is in top shape.”
Harry laughed. “I’m your bodyguard now?”
“Yes. It’s wonderful having someone dirty their hands, so mine can stay clean.”
“Still narcissistic, I see.”
“You act as if that’s a bad thing.”
Harry and Draco gave each other a level look before Harry started laughing. Draco smirked as he marked his book and closed it. “You should go to sleep.”
“Why?” Harry stifled a yawn.
“Because you’re yawning and you’ll probably go to sleep right in front of me. That doesn’t seem like a smart decision, seeing as you’re surrounded by beds.”
“I guess. I don’t want to fall asleep at dinner or anything like that.” Harry stretched. “Oh, before, I go, have those guys messed with you at all?”
“Daniel and Sam? Nothing out of the ordinary, just the standard insults and assignments.”
“You’re still doing their work. I thought it would stop by now.”
“I’m sure they’ll get the hint when they start failing.” Draco smirked, patting the finished assignments on the table.
Harry grinned. “That sounds better. Where are you going to be?”
Draco shrugged. “Maybe the library or the common room.”
Things became better in the common room after the fight between the eighth years. The tension snapped after they met in front of the Room of Requirement at the same time. They worked through their differences in the hospital wing and detentions. The mandated unity day McGonagall created helped as well.
“Alright, um, see you in a bit then.” Harry walked over and got into his bed.
“See you,” Draco said softly. Why is he working so hard? Things have changed since the beginning of the year and I’m slowly getting the information I need. Shaking down shops in Diagon Alley because your parents are Aurors is not a good idea. He looked over the notes for his essay and rolled the parchment up. Draco tidied up his books on the desk and left the room.
* * *
Harry woke up hours later and felt better than he had before. He couldn’t believe Draco sounded almost concerned about his health and lack of sleep. Harry had to admit that his original plan of helping Draco had changed these past months. He didn’t mind working with Draco or showing him a new game.
Harry hadn’t expected a crush to form once he became familiar with Draco. It wasn’t going to go down soon. He had to tell Ginny that he didn’t plan to go any further than friendship. Harry didn’t look forward to the conversation. He rubbed his eyes then put on his glasses.
Harry walked out the room and downstairs into the common room. He greeted Ron and Hermione, taking a seat on the couch next to Draco. It didn’t seem weird to sit next to him anymore.
* * *
“So, Harry, what did you want to talk about?” Ginny asked.
Harry asked Ginny to meet him in the corridor closest to the Gryffindor common room. He wiped his hands on his jeans and took a breath.
“I wanted to talk to you about our relationship.”
The spark of happiness in Ginny’s eyes made Harry’s chest clench.
“Great! I was hoping we could have a date--”
“No, Ginny, there’s not going to be another date.”
“W-What do you mean?”
“I mean, we should just stay friends.” Harry whispered.
Ginny frowned. “I gave you more time. That wasn’t enough?”
“I’ve been trying to tell you that--”
“Just tell me how much and I can--”
“Ginny! Listen to me!”
Ginny stopped and frowned in confusion.
Harry took another breath and continued. “It’s my mistake. I haven’t been voicing my opinion as loud as I should have. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be any more than just friends. I’m sorry about leading you on and making you think something different. I hope we can still be friends.”
“You told me we would go forward in our relationship.”
“I’m sorry if I said something like that, but I don’t want to go forward. I would really like for us to stay friends.”
Ginny shook her head. “I can’t believe this! You told me it would happen. That we would be together, but we’re not! Why did you lead me on?”
“I tried to tell you don’t wait for me, but you didn’t! I don’t know how many times I can say I’m sorry, but I am. I didn’t mean to lead you on, but I didn’t know how to tell you. I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”
“I believe that’s too late Harry. If you wanted to end things with me you should have told me instead of making me believe that something would happen between us. I’m not an unreasonable person I would have understood if that’s what you wanted. I should have known though. Our last date wasn’t exactly exciting and we don’t spend half as much time together as Ron and Hermione.” Ginny sighed. “At least you told me before our relationship grew further. Is that all?”
Harry nodded. “Yes.”
“Okay. I would like to be by myself for awhile.”
Ginny walked past Harry and down the hallway to the Gryffindor common room. Ginny’s words cut him, but he couldn’t deny the truth in them. Harry’s stomach twisted in knots on his way back to the eighth year common room. He hoped he didn’t screw their friendship up too badly.
“Did something happen?” Gentleman Bradley asked when Harry stepped in front of his portrait.
Harry sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “Yes. It wasn’t very good. I walked away before I did any more damage.”
“A gentleman does know when to walk away. I am sure the damage will be fixed in time.”
“I hope so.”
“It will.” Gentleman Bradley smiled. “A gentleman can live through anything. Password?”
Gentleman Bradley swung open and Harry walked through.
“Mr. Potter, can you help Mr. Malfoy decorate the tree in the Great Hall?” McGonagall said.
“Sure thing. Professor.” Harry climbed down the ladder, missing the pleased look on McGonagall’s face. He looked around for Draco in the surrounding area. A few months ago, Harry would have fought against it. Now it didn’t seem to be so unusual.
The holidays bought another opportunity for the eighth years to work together. They decorated the area around their dorm room with suggestions from Bradley. He did help, even if they had to update his suggestions a bit.
Harry noticed that the abuse towards the Slytherins died down in the weeks before the holiday break. The downturn was attributed to the other eighth years involvement or the treats Harry left the tormentors. He had to make sure to give Fred and George a generous gift for Christmas. The insults were around, but Harry couldn’t stop that. He could barely control rumors from his fans. Harry didn’t like to think he had fans.
The upcoming holidays brought many questions. Would Draco return to the Manor to be with Narcissa or stay at the school? Could Harry go to the Burrow and not be awkward around Ginny? He broke the news about his true feelings around the end of November. It didn’t go as well as Harry had hoped. Ginny didn’t hex him, but she gave him a long, angry talk.
Harry couldn’t be too mad. He did string her along during the summer and a few times at school. Her anger was justified, but he didn’t know how the family would react, especially Mrs. Weasley. Ron took it better than he’d thought. He fumed and asked questions for three days, but settled down after a talk with Hermione. Ron mentioned a letter from Bill, Charlie, and the twins that helped to curb his anger.
Harry made a note to buy them a gift as well. He walked past Hermione and Pansy. Those two got on better than he expected. He moved past Neville and Hannah who were decorating the tree near Bradley with Padma and Parvati. Goyle carried a tree down the hall with Lavender who carried a box of decorations. Harry noticed they spent a lot of time together. It seemed to work for both of them.
Harry walked down the stairs, greeting Ron and Blaise who were on their way to decorate around the door of the Great Hall. Ron and Blaise weren’t buddies, but they could be civil around each other. He talked with Ron and Blaise about their holiday plans and the current things on sale in Hogsmeade.
Harry left Blaise and Ron by the door with Dean, Seamus, and Terry. He walked into the Great Hall, looking around for Draco. He spotted Draco by the tree closest to the Staff table. Harry thought Draco would levitate ornaments not put them on the tree by hand. He noticed the way light softened Draco’s hair.
I wonder if it always looked so soft. Harry looked on for a few more minutes before walking over. He hadn’t had have any luck trying to make his crush go away. He hoped Draco wouldn’t pick up on it and mock him for it. That would dampen his holiday spirit.
“Hey Draco, Professor McGonagall wanted me to help you.” Harry called up the ladder.
Draco placed another ornament on the tree then climbed down. “Sure, but can you handle it?”
Harry chuckled. “I think I can manage.”
Draco smirked and pointed to the box by the tree. “Pick up an ornament and try to keep up with my design pattern.”
“I hope I can follow it. It looks so hard,” Harry groaned dramatically and walked over to the box.
Draco’s lips twitched. He can actually be funny. “For you I suspect it would be. Try not to hurt yourself.”
“I’ll try,” Harry grabbed an ornament and walked back over to the tree.
Draco chuckled and flicked his wand towards the box. Another ornament floated over to Draco and landed in his hands. He climbed back up the ladder while Harry decorated on the bottom of the tree. They fell into a comfortable silence with Harry decorating the bottom of the tree and Draco working on the spot above him.
After a few minutes Harry asked, “What are you doing for the holidays?”
Draco stopped on his way down the ladder. He frowned lightly and shrugged. “I don’t know. I could go back to the Manor and see Mother, but I think she’s going to be with Aunt Andromeda. A few people are staying here in the castle, but I’m unsure about my own plans. What about you? Aren’t you going to the Burrow?”
Harry nodded. “Yeah, I am, but I’ll be back after break. Until then, well, you can--”
“Write? Is that what you were so elegantly trying to tell me?”
Harry flushed, nearly dropping an ornament in the process. “Y-Yes. I mean if you can or want to.”
Draco placed a snowman on the tree and turned to Harry. “Sure, I’ll write. But I expect a response back since I took the time out to write.”
“I’ll write back so you won’t miss me too badly.”
Draco chuckled, walking over to the empty box of ornaments. “I think you’ll miss me more.” He picked it up and moved to the door, leaving a flustered Harry.
I think he flirted with me. He flirted with me and now I think I’m blushing. I hope Ron doesn’t see it. Harry followed behind Draco to retrieve more ornaments.
* * *
Draco continued to flirt with Harry in subtle ways. He brushed against Harry in the hallways. Wrote different notes during study times in Potions and brushed their fingers together during their game days. He decided to try subtly to get his feelings across. Harry responded well to the first one so Draco continued.
Hermione kept an eye on Draco for any signs of mocking or insults. She relaxed when Harry’s mood improved. Pansy did a similar check with Draco. Ron tried not to make a face when Harry flirted back. Blaise shared the sentiment.
Draco decided to go back home for the holidays. Narcissa wrote that her sentence ended earlier due to good behavior. She was going to spend the holidays with Andromeda and Teddy. They had started to mend the gap between each other. It was slow, but it was better than nothing. Narcissa was going to discuss the fate of Lucius’ trial when Draco returned. Draco didn’t look forward to that news, but he had to face it.
Draco shared a compartment with Luna, Pansy, and Longbottom. Blaise and the other Slytherins decided to stay behind at school. Draco knew Greg had stayed behind for Brown and Blaise could finally have time alone with Finnegan.
He started to find more information about Daniel, Sam, and Sarah. They liked to push their power around with the younger students, especially the ones in Slytherin. Draco needed more information before he put a plan in action. It was good to have the information for the New Year.
A knock on the door interrupted Draco’s thoughts. He looked up to see Harry outside and waved him in.
“Hello, everyone. Do you mind if join you guys?” Harry asked.
“Of course not,” Luna said as everyone greeted Harry.
“Thanks.” Harry took a seat next to Draco.
Draco placed the bookmark inside the book and closed it. “I thought you were sitting with Ron and Hermione.” He could say their names now without twitching.
“Yeah, um, Hermione is going to stay with her parents until New Year’s. We’re going to see her afterwards, so I decided to give them some privacy,” Harry said.
“That was very nice of you. However, I should check and make sure that no Nargles are around. They love to come out during the holidays.” Luna stood up, placing her book down in the seat. “I’ll return with some treats soon.” She flashed a smile and walked out.
Pansy looked between Draco and Harry with a knowing look in her eye. Draco recognized that look. He knew Pansy had something planned.
“Neville, why don’t we go get some snacks. I want to take some home and show my grandmother,” Pansy said.
Neville nodded. “Sure I was going to take some back, too. We’ll be back in a bit.”
Pansy grinned. “Don’t have too much fun.”
Harry messed with a loose thread on his jeans. Draco frowned at Pansy. “Don’t you have treats to retrieve?”
Pansy giggled. “Yeah, yeah.” She walked out the compartment with an amused Neville.
When the door closed behind them, Harry and Draco didn’t look at each other. Draco traced the patterns on his book while Harry analyzed his jeans. After a few seconds, Harry cleared his throat. “I see you decided to go home.”
“Yes, I wanted to see my mother, Aunt Andromeda, and Teddy. He sounds like a sweet little boy and Aunt Andromeda is nice.”
“I might see you. I like to visit Teddy and Andromeda. He’s my godson and I try to make time to see him.”
“I didn’t know that. I suppose I will see you after all. However,” Draco straightened in his seat, placing the book back in his bag, “I have a present I would like to give you. I believe it’s fitting after the help you’ve given me.”
“Alright. What is it?” Harry asked. He didn’t have time to think before warm lips pressed against his own. Harry sat in shock. He didn’t think Draco received his flirting well. Harry wasn’t the best at it, but it looked like he was wrong. Draco started to pull away when Harry pulled him back. He moved a little too roughly as his glasses bumped Draco’s face.
Draco pulled back, a light flush on his cheeks. “Wait.” He reached up and took off Harry’s glasses.
Harry blinked as his eyes tried to focus on Draco’s fuzzy face. “I-I can’t see you.”
Draco leaned forward placing Harry’s glasses in his lap. “Can you see me now?”
“I can,” Harry whispered.
Draco grinned and kissed Harry again. Harry let out a small moan as Draco slowly placed a hand against his cheek. Their lips moved against each other slowly. New sensations traveled over their bodies as the kiss deepened. Harry gripped Draco’s shirt as their tongues slid together slowly. Draco combed his fingers through Harry’s hair, tangling them in the locks.
As soon as the kiss began, it ended. Harry pulled back panting deeply. His lips, head, and body tingled all over from the sensation of kissing Draco. He never imagined it would feel so good. He looked over at Draco who had a similar blissful look on his face.
“Can I have my glasses back?” Harry asked.
Draco passed them over. “Sure.”
When Harry could see again he turned to Draco with a smile. “That was quite some gift.”
“I’m known for my gift giving skills. I have to say, not bad.”
“Really? Because that was my first kiss with a guy.”
Harry frowned. “Shut up. If I was that bad, how come you kissed me again?”
Draco chuckled. “Because it felt really good and I wanted to.”
“Oh, well, I wanted to, too.” Harry looked back out the window before pulling the shade down. “I don’t need anything leaking to the Prophet.” He took off his glasses again. “Can I have another present?”
“Greedy, but I’ll let it slide for the holidays.” Draco leaned forward and pressed his lips against Harry’s again. Harry wrapped his arms around Draco’s neck, sliding his fingers through his hair.
I was right; it is soft. Harry moaned when Draco deepened the kiss.
* * *
“Wait, what?” Ron asked.
Harry pulled the blanket tighter around his shoulders. They were on the couch in front of the fire. Harry had had another nightmare and Ron sat up with him. Harry decided it was time to reveal the truth behind his little smile. The Weasleys noticed it and questioned him about it, but Harry didn’t tell. Harry had a hard time focusing on the questions when his mind replayed the kiss repeatedly.
Harry slipped it out when he talked in his sleep hazy state. He expected Ron to wake the house not stare at him as if he’d grown a third arm.
“I’ve been writing to Draco. I think we’re going to be in a relationship when we go back to school.”
“Okay, so do you like blokes now?”
Harry nodded. “Yeah, I have noticed them lately and going back to school confirmed it.” Really, watching Charlie in the garden confirmed it, but I better not say that.
“Wait, what about me liking blokes?”
Ron shrugged. “It doesn’t matter to me. You can like who you like as long as they don’t treat you bad or anything. I guess we won’t be brothers anymore.” He sadly picked at his blanket.
“We’ll always be brothers.”
Harry smiled. “Of course. After all we’ve been through I can’t really see us not being brothers. Does that make sense?”
Ron laughed. “Yeah, that makes sense. Okay, as long as we can stay brothers then that’s great. You haven’t answered my other question. Why Malfoy? I’m sure you can find plenty of guys to be with. Why pick him?”
Harry grinned. “He’s not that bad once you talk to him. Shouldn’t you call him Draco now? After all the game nights and weekends rebuilding, I think you’re on that level now.”
Ron scoffed. “I only use that name when it’s necessary. Does that mean I have to start hanging out with him now? I’m barely making it with Zabini.”
“I don’t know. We’re not together, yet.”
Ron scrunched his nose up. “I wished it was another bloke like Seamus or…whoops.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “Wait, what? I didn’t know that.”
Ron scratched the back of his neck. “Yeah no one was supposed to know. Can you keep it quiet?”
“Yeah, I will. I didn’t know that, though.”
“I think we’re going to learn more when we go back.”
“I think so, too. So, are you okay with me?”
“I’m fine, as long as I don’t have to watch you two kiss.”
“I watch you and Hermione kiss all the time.”
Ron flushed. “That’s different.”
Harry laughed. “I don’t think so, but I’ll try to remember the rule.”
Ron scrunched his nose in mock disgust and Harry laughed again.
* * *
“Father is going to Azkaban? For how long?” Draco asked. His good mood started to disappear when Narcissa mentioned the trial. They were over at Andromeda’s house, sitting in the living room. Teddy played with his stuff dragon while Andromeda cooked dinner. Narcissa had another blanket in her lap. Draco noted that her stitches were better; Andromeda properly helped.
“For a few years. I don’t know how long before he gets out, but it’s going to be a while.” Narcissa sighed, placing the knitting needles down.
“Why did it take so long to come up with a verdict?”
Narcissa’s lips twisted into a bitter smile. “Your father was in the inner circle, closer to the inner workings of the Dark Lord.” She looked over at Teddy and continued when Teddy didn’t look up. “Because of that the Ministry felt it was good to prolong your father’s trial. The Wizengamot wanted to make sure they had all the information and files they need to put your father in Azkaban for a long time. I wanted to write to you as soon as I found out the news, but I didn’t think it was wise to put it in a letter.”
Draco reached over and grabbed Narcissa’s hand. “It’s alright. I just can’t believe they waited so long for that reason. Is there any way to shorten the sentence?”
“No, I don’t think there’s any way to do it. I only hoped to know how long the sentence will last.” Narcissa covered her mouth when her voice broke.
Draco squeezed Narcissa’s hand. “It will be alright, Mother. I’m sure there is some way to shorten the sentence and we can see Father in a few years. Is he up for the kiss?”
“They’re still deciding. I know they have a decision made, but they like to wait to tell us. I just wish they did, so we can stop waiting.” Narcissa gripped her skirt. She looked down when Teddy tugged her skirt. Teddy held his hands up, babbling to her. Narcissa softened, reaching down to pick Teddy up. “Where’s your stuffed dragon?” she cooed.
Draco placed it in Teddy’s hands. “Here it is.”
Teddy squealed and hugged the dragon to his chest. Draco chuckled, patting the dragon’s head.
“I believe that’s Teddy’s way of changing the subject.” Andromeda wiped her hands off with her apron as she walked into the room. She smiled at Teddy before sitting down next to Draco on the couch.
“There’s enough of the trial in the Prophet and in the letters piling up on the table at the Manor. We can talk about it after Teddy is asleep.” Andromeda played with Teddy’s hand. Teddy laughed, kicking his feet.
Andromeda smiled and turned to Draco. “You haven’t told us how school is going. Has anything big happened?”
I kissed Harry on the train ride back home. “There was a fight amongst the eighth years. Many people weren’t hurt, but we did spend time bonding in the hospital wing.”
“How bad was the fight?” Andromeda asked as Narcissa agreed.
“By the end of the fight I had water coming out of my ears along with a broken nose. Potter had sprouted blue boils on his hands. There were various black eyes and split lips. Greg almost broke Thomas’ jaw protecting Lavender Brown. Longbottom protected Abbot and the Patil twins I believe. However, Boot managed to hit Longbottom in the stomach.” Draco ticked off each event on his hand.
Narcissa frowned. “I can’t believe Professor McGonagall allowed this.”
“She didn’t. She found us fighting in front of the Room of Requirement. I don’t believe I have ever seen McGonagall that upset before,” Draco said.
Andromeda laughed softly. “I can only imagine the look on her face. Is everything okay now or is there still tension among the eighth years?”
“Everything is getting better slowly. In fact, I’ve gotten to know Harry,” Draco finished softly, looking at the picture of Harry and Teddy on the mantle.
Narcissa didn’t look angry. Her eyes widened slightly in surprise. She looked over at Andromeda who smiled in amusement.
“How is Harry doing?” Andromeda asked.
“He’s doing fine. McGonagall has us working together more often, so I see him around,” Draco said. I hope I’m not smiling or looking happy again.
“I hope he comes to visit us soon. I know Teddy won’t be the only one happy to see him,” Andromeda said. She turned to Teddy and cooed again.
“I would like to know how he is and if he’s treating you correctly. I have to be sure after that fight you had,” Narcissa said, tickling Teddy’s stomach.
Draco nodded. “It would be interesting,” If his letters are anything to go by. He was pleasantly surprised when Harry wrote back. Draco hoped Andromeda didn’t notice any of the letters. In his opinion, she looked too amused when he mentioned Harry.
* * *
Harry told Hermione about Draco, after she arrived at the Burrow. She wasn’t surprised about it. Not after she’d watched Harry flirt with Draco daily. However, she was concerned.
“Are you sure about this? I know he’s changed since the war, but we don’t know how much he’s changed,” Hermione said.
“I’ve talked to him; he’s changed,” Harry said.
Hermione pursed her lips, crossing her arms over her chest. “I don’t know.”
Harry rubbed her shoulder. “I’m going to be fine. The worse thing that can happen is if we try to strangle each other and that’s not going to happen.”
“Are you sure? There are times I want to do that, especially when we’re in Potions.” Ron joined them at the kitchen table.
Harry chuckled while Hermione sighed softly. She reached over and grabbed Harry’s hands. “I just want you to be safe.”
Harry squeezed her hands. “I will, don’t worry.”
Hermione relented after seeing the confident look in Harry’s eyes. “Alright, but if he makes one wrong move, I’m going after him.”
Harry smiled. “I’ll hold you to your word. How are your parents?”
Hermione smiled and went into the story of her vacation. Harry felt good that Ron and Hermione decided to give Draco a chance. He wondered if the same would happen with Draco’s friends.
* * *
A few days into their break, Harry visited Andromeda, but didn’t expect to see Draco and Narcissa. He noticed the knitting needles in Narcissa’s lap. Draco took Harry to the side and explained the situation. Harry didn’t know the details surrounding Lucius’ trial and made a note to check it out with Kingsley. He knew he couldn’t get Lucius out of Azkaban, but he could lower the sentence.
During the visit, Harry and Draco played with Teddy. Harry had an embarrassing talk with Narcissa about Draco. Draco stayed in the kitchen during the fight while Andromeda laughed. Teddy enjoyed the extra attention and games. Harry and Draco found ways to sneak kisses during the visit.
* * *
It wasn’t long before the break was over and they had to return to school. Draco shared a compartment with Luna, Neville, and Pansy while they talked about their holiday breaks. Luna visited Greece with her father and looked for a Giurg, a certain bird. Neville tended to his greenhouse with his grandmother. Pansy walked around Diagon Alley with her mother and shopped.
While Luna explained Giurgs to Pansy, they saw Harry at the door. Neville welcomed Harry inside.
“Hi everyone, can I join you?” Harry asked.
“Sure, I was just telling everyone about Giurgs. They come around when relaxation is in the air,” Luna said.
“Giurgs? Where are they from?” Harry asked taking a seat next to Draco.
“Greece. The climate is perfect for nest building,” Luna said.
“How do you say the name again?” Pansy asked.
Luna turned to Pansy to explain the meaning when Draco turned to Harry. “Wanted to give Weasley and Hermione more alone time?”
“Yeah, and I wanted to see you.” Harry smiled.
“Oh, how nice. I wanted to see you, too.” Draco couldn’t deny the warmth spreading through his chest at the sincere look in Harry’s eyes. He leaned against Harry’s shoulder. “I’m not ready for N.E.W.T.s.. Are you?”
“Not really, but I’m sure it won’t be that bad. I hope it isn’t.” Harry rubbed Draco’s back.
“It shouldn’t be,” Draco said.
“Aww, how cute!” Pansy cooed as Luna giggled.
Harry looked away sheepishly. Draco frowned at Pansy. “Quiet or I will tease you about Longbottom.”
Pansy stuck her tongue out at him. “You do it anyway. What’s the difference?”
Draco smirked. “I’ll just tell him about--”
“You wouldn’t!” Pansy shrieked. Neville looked on in surprise.
“Try me,” Draco said smugly.
“I have things on you too!”
Harry and Neville laughed as Luna giggled and watched the fight. Harry and Neville hoped they wouldn’t be too busy.
* * *
They were wrong. When the eighth years’ schedule picked up, it left little time for anything else. Harry didn’t know how McGonagall was able to teach Transfiguration and handle her Headmistress duties at the same time. Draco had to split time between his own work and making Daniel, Sam, and Sarah fail. They didn’t waste any time seeking Draco out.
“What the fuck is this? I thought you knew what you were doing?” Daniel snarled, throwing his Charms essay on the floor.
Draco crossed his arms over his chest, giving him a cold look. “The trial is over. I’m not your puppet anymore.”
“What about the information about Narcissa? I can let that leak and…”
“Do it if you want to. What can you do that the Prophet hasn’t accomplished?”
“Are you saying that you want people to ridicule your family further?” Sam asked.
“I’m saying that you can’t do any worse, since the trial is done.” Draco pushed off the wall and turned on his heel. “Find another puppet.” He walked away and disappeared down the corridor.
Daniel balled his fist. “Damn it, we had him. There must be something we can do to that Death Eater trash.”
“We’ll figure something out,” Sam said.
Sarah agreed and walked out the corridor. Daniel and Sam followed her.
* * *
Harry started to notice something was wrong. He hung out with Ron and Hermione and played Quidditch when he had time, but he didn’t spend enough time with Draco. Harry did have a busy schedule between N.E.W.T.S. studying and Hermione’s tutoring. He knew it wasn’t an excuse. Harry wanted to spend time with Draco. He set up a date on Valentine’s Day in the Astronomy Tower.
* * *
On Valentine’s Day, many couples were revealed. Dean picked back up with Ginny and they seemed to be happy. Ginny stopped glaring at Harry and started talking to him again. Goyle and Lavender didn’t surprise many people. They didn’t seem to separate after the fight. The surprise was Neville and Pansy. Harry knew Neville and Pansy had grown closer during the semester, but he didn’t know they were dating.
The relationship caught Draco by surprise as well. Neville did protect Pansy as fiercely as Greg protected Brown, but Draco didn’t think they would go out. When Pansy pointed out the same fact in Draco’s relationship with Harry, Draco quieted down. Well, he stopped questioning Neville daily in the common room.
* * *
Draco walked into the Astronomy Tower, wrapping his robes closer to keep out the cold air. He didn’t know why Harry wanted to talk here, but it made sense. Harry would pick one of the most used romantic spots in the school. However, the idea made the corner of Draco’s mouth turn up slightly.
He may be corny, but it’s oddly cute, Draco thought, running a hand through his hair. He walked over to the window, looking outside at the sky. Draco noticed the stars littering the sky in intricate patterns, creating a mosaic against the night sky. The overcast clouds kept out the moonlight, but a few beams managed to peek through.
Draco sighed softly. It’s a nice night.
“Hey, you’re here.”
Draco turned around looking at a disheveled, but relieved Harry. He nodded. “Yes, I’m here. I felt it was an invitation I couldn’t pass up.”
Harry grinned. “I’m glad you decided to give my invitation a thought.” He walked over, smoothing down his robes. “I’m sorry I’m late. It was quite a hassle trying to get away.”
“It’s Valentine’s Day. I can imagine all the proposals you received."
Harry nodded. “I don’t even want to know how many love potions I got today.”
“I didn’t receive any love potions, but I did get a few notes. Out of the few notes, I favored Luna’s. It was creative. ”
“Hey, you gave Luna a compliment. I should tell her.”
“Do it and I’ll hex you to the next holiday.”
Harry laughed, causing a smirk to appear on Draco’s lips. “So, how is everything? It’s been awhile since we had a chance to talk and I wanted to see if anyone was giving you anymore trouble. Are they?”
Draco shook his head, trying to push down the sudden heat that appeared. “No more than usual. I still get shoved, pushed, called a Death Eater, and similar creative names, but no one has tried to hurt me anymore.”
Harry sighed in relief. “Good. I was hoping for that.”
Draco eyed Harry suspiciously. “Did you do something?”
Harry smiled with a shrug. “I held up my end of the bargain. Remember, I told you I would get them to stop and I did. Well, I haven’t been able to get the names to stop or the shoving, but no one has tried to do any bodily harm to you. That’s good. I have to find a way to stop the names and shoving, though,” he muttered under his breath, missing the look of surprise on Draco’s face.
“You’re still on about that.”
Harry stopped muttering under his breath, turning to Draco. He nodded. “I told you I would do it, right? My point is getting across slowly, but it’s happening. I wanted it to happen sooner, but better than never, ri-” Harry stopped when Draco kissed him. Harry blinked in surprise, but he didn’t stop the kiss. He put his hands on Draco’s waist, pulling him close. Draco hummed, sliding his fingers through Harry’s hair. Harry moaned softly, turning to the side to deepen the kiss.
Draco pulled back after a few blissful seconds. “You ramble too much.”
“Like you don’t,” Harry said.
Draco chuckled, leaning forward to kiss Harry again. He pulled back when another question entered his mind. “Is that the only reason you called me out here?”
Harry grinned, rubbing Draco’s sides. “Well, I wanted to see you in the moonlight. You look nice in the sunlight. I wanted to see if the effect was the same.”
Draco smirked, placing his hands on Harry’s shoulders. “Do I disappoint?”
Harry placed his arms around Draco’s waist, shaking his head. “No, but you do look better in the moonlight.”
“We’ll just have to compare it tomorrow. Won’t we?” Draco whispered, connecting their lips once again. Harry pulled Draco close, his hands resting on the small of Draco’s back. Draco slid his fingers through Harry’s hair, moaning softly. Harry never thought he would find an appropriate use for Draco’s mouth or his sharp tongue. Harry moaned, happy that he'd found such a good use. They kissed softly in the moonlight. In that moment, the idea of curfew didn’t exist.
* * *
Draco didn’t think his relationship with Harry would last, but it did. Harry started to bring him around his friends. It was tense at first. Draco didn’t talk much and answered questions with short answers. Harry worried that he pushed everything too fast, but relaxed when the tension eased gradually.
Draco found an opponent in Wizard’s Chess in Ron. He could see why Blaise came back for a rematch. Hermione didn’t open up until Draco mentioned his method on researching Runes. From Runes, their conversation expanded to books and other practical things. Draco’s friends joined them and they started to hang out together. Everyone wasn’t the best of friends, but they could be in the same room without arguing with each other. That was an improvement.
* * *
Things were going well for awhile, until N.E.W.T.s study started to wear everyone thin. The study sessions and notes cut into everyone’s relationship. Harry stayed up late writing essays while Draco outlined his notes for Transfiguration. The lack of sleep caused many arguments to rise in the common room again,especially during the last week of March.
“Do you have to write notes that way?” Harry asked.
“I’m writing notes the way I normally write. I’m not loud like you over there,” Draco snapped.
Harry glared. “I’m not loud, you are.”
Draco ignored him and continued to write.
“Where are my notes for Charms? I can’t find them!” Hermione exclaimed, digging through her bag.
“Trying to work over here,” Draco grumbled.
Ron looked up from his Potions book. “We’re all trying to work. You’re not the only one. Leave her alone!”
“Shut up, I can’t concentrate. I need to figure out how to end this paper,” Pansy snapped.
“I can’t think here. I’m going to the library,” Hermione said as she gathered her things.
“I’ll join you.” Ron stuffed his notes in his bag.
“Go ahead. It’ll be quieter in here anyway,” Draco finished under his breath.
Harry rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I’m going back to the dorm to work. I can’t concentrate.”
“Blaise and Theo are reviewing. Try not to disturb them with that loud quill,” Draco snapped.
Harry glared. “I hope the common room can take your loud thinking. Honestly, I’m tired of hearing you mutter under your breath with every line.”
Draco pointed towards the stairs. “Then leave. No one is telling you to be here.”
“Fine.” Harry picked up his books and stormed towards the stairs.
Draco rubbed his eyes. I can’t wait until N.E.W.T.s is over.
* * *
“Draco, you look tired,” Luna said. They were outside under Luna’s favorite oak tree in front of the lake.
Draco stifled a yawn. “I stayed up studying for N.E.W.T.s. Aren’t you studying for them, too?”
Luna nodded. “Yes, but I take breaks. It’s very important to do so with an exam this important.”
“This is my first break in weeks. That stupid exam is so draining.”
“Why do you think it’s stupid?”
“Because exams can’t guarantee someone’s future.” Draco turned to the lake and stared out at the water.
“Tests are unable to see the future, but the passion in the test can determine the job. Giurgs are good examples of this. They’re not seen as very bright, but they have enough passion to make their nests stand out from all the other birds. That’s how I take tests. I do my best and make sure it shows.” Luna picked up a flower and twirled it around in her hand.
Draco looked over at Luna who smiled. Her words eased the pressure of his future. He didn’t know where an ex-Death Eater could have a future, but he was going to try.
“I’ll work on it.” Draco relaxed against the trunk.
“Good, but I think you should get some sleep. Do you have a study session?” Luna asked.
“Not today, I’m going to meet up with Harry later.”
“Rest. I’ll see you later on at dinner.”
“Okay, I will.” Draco stood up and brushed his pants off. “See you at dinner.”
Luna smiled. “See you.”
Draco waved and walked up towards the castle. After their fight in the common room, Draco had been ignoring Harry’s attempts to talk. He focused more on his work and helped the Slytherins in their year. The fight seemed silly when he calmed down. He accepted Harry’s invitation to talk. It would make things easier between them. It would get Blaise and Pansy to stop pointing out the ridiculousness of the situation.
Draco walked down a deserted corridor when a body bind curse hit him. He fell to the floor and cursed. “What the hell!”
“Are you going to work for us now or do we have to drag you back?” Daniel asked.
“Fuck you! I’m not doing it anymore. Let me go!” Draco yelled.
“Wrong answer.” Daniel kicked Draco hard in the stomach. Draco groaned, trying to protect his body, but couldn’t move because of the body bind. Sam kicked him in the same spot and Draco bit back his groan. Sam and Daniel started to pummel his body with punches and kicks. Draco closed his eyes and waited for it to end.
“GET AWAY FROM HIM!”
Draco’s eyes opened at that voice. Weasley?
“Shit, it’s Weasley. Get out of here,” Daniel yelled, ducking from the curse Ron threw. Sam looked down at Draco before following Daniel.
“Damn, I almost had them.” Ron ran over to Draco and released him from the body bind. Draco sat up. “This is how imagined my day.” He touched his lip and looked at the blood on his fingers. “I’ll get Pansy to patch me up.”
Ron shook his head. “You have to go to Madam Pomfrey. Come on let’s go.” He stood and helped a grumbling Draco up.
“I don’t need your help.” Draco wrapped an arm around his waist.
“Harry would kill me if I didn’t take you to Madam Pomfrey. Not to mention what your friends would do to me.” Ron walked out of the corridor, carefully supporting Draco.
“Tell him I’m in the hospital wing.” Draco flinched when he touched the back of his head.
“Can you make it there?”
“Yes. I don’t need to be carried if that’s what you thought.”
Ron made a face. “Of course not. I’ll leave you right here.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Draco flinched again and tightened his arm around his waist. Ron noticed it and moved faster to the Hospital Wing.
* * *
Harry rushed into the hospital wing, looking around for Draco. Ron told me he brought Draco here, but where is he? He looked over, his eyes widening at the pale figure in the bed. The sheets high around Draco’s neck his chest rising and falling evenly. Harry eyed the bandages on his arms, a bruise under his eye, and the way Draco looked smaller in the bed. He walked over to the bed slowly, trying to keep his anger under control.
“Good evening, Mr. Potter. I’m glad Mr. Weasley gave you my message,” Madam Pomfrey said, walking over.
Harry nodded, taking a seat in the chair next to Draco’s bed. “What happened?”
“Mr. Weasley found Mr. Malfoy in one of the corridors beaten. Mr. Weasley carried Mr. Malfoy in here where Mr. Malfoy asked for you before he passed out. I asked if Mr. Weasley had anything to do with it, but he assured me he didn’t. He’s with Headmistress McGonagall right now. Before Mr. Weasley left, he told me about the four sets of footsteps running from the scene. Is there some trouble happening among the eighth years? Or is this something different?” Madam Pomfrey asked.
“No, the eighth years have come to an agreement. We haven’t fought since the beginning of the school year. This has something to do with three seventh year students. I don’t know their names too well, though,” Harry said.
Madam Pomfrey pursed her lips into a thin firm line. “I hope Mr. Weasley can shed some light on this. Because I don’t want any more students in here for the same thing.”
“Yes ma’am,” Harry said.
Madam Pomfrey nodded. “Well, Mr. Malfoy will wake soon. His injuries are healed, but there will be no flying for awhile.”
“I’ll tell him when he wakes up.”
Madam Pomfrey’s expression softened at the concern in Harry’s eyes. “You can stay until curfew, Mr. Potter.”
Harry smiled. “Thank you.”
Madam Pomfrey nodded before walking over to her office. When the door closed, Harry looked over at Draco. He placed his hand against Draco’s cheek, caressing it slowly. “I’m gonna get them back. I know I will. I’m glad you’re alright, though.” He stood up leaning over the bed. Harry placed a soft kiss on Draco’s lips, cupping his cheek gently.
Harry pulled back, resuming his seat in the chair. He took Draco’s hand and waited for him to wake up.
* * *
Draco opened his eyes slowly and saw the bandages on his arms. He sat up, touching the bandage on his head. Draco closed his eyes, recalling the events that earned him a hospital bed. He knew most people didn’t handle rejection well, but to respond with violence wasn’t very smart. Draco sat back and rubbed his thumb over the fingers resting in his palm. He looked over at a dozing Harry.
Draco shook his head. He tells me I don’t receive enough sleep. At least Weasley is good at delivering messages. He shook Harry’s hand. “Harry, wake up.”
Harry woke with a jolt, looking around the room wildly. He turned to Draco, calming down slowly. “Draco, you’re up!”
“Yes, I am. I’m glad you made that observation,” Draco said.
Harry grinned and leaned forward to touch Draco’s cheek lightly. “How do you feel?”
“I feel okay. I’m tired, but other than that, I’m fine.” Draco leaned into the touch. He looked up at Harry. “How are you?”
“I’m fine. I’m angry that I didn’t stop this in time, but I’m fine,” Harry said.
“No, I should have been there. I told you I would stop it, but it doesn’t look like I’ve made much progress.”
Draco slid his hand over Harry’s, linking their fingers together. “You’ve done more than you think. Me, Pansy, Blaise, even Greg can walk around Hogwarts without too much trouble. This was an isolated incident and nothing more.”
Harry shook his head. “No, it’s not right. If we walked together I could have stopped it.”
“You would fight and then be in more trouble.”
“It would have stopped.”
“It would have made things worse and solved nothing.”
“I don’t even remember why we were fighting in the first place.”
“We were tired from studying.”
“Still, I was being stupid and it was uncalled for. I’m sorry about that and I should have walked with you and umpf!”
Draco leaned forward to seal the gap between them. Harry leaned into the kiss cupping Draco’s cheek gently. Draco closed his eyes leaning into the kiss. Harry slid his fingers in Draco’s hair, looking to deepen the kiss when a disgusted groan reached their ears.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.”
Harry broke the kiss and looked over at Ron, Hermione, and Luna. He flushed, smiling sheepishly. “Hi guys. I, um, we didn’t hear you.”
“I don’t think I can get used to you being in a relationship with someone, even if it is with Granger,” Draco said.
Harry shook his head as Ron glared and Luna giggled.
“It’s good to see you’re closer to a speedy recovery,” Luna said.
Draco nodded. “I feel very good. Madam Pomfrey will have me out of here in a few days.”
“Wonderful news! We should host a celebration when you have recovered,” Luna said.
“I told Headmistress McGonagall what happened. She told me she needs the name of those guys to punish them,” Ron said.
“I know who they are I can give it to her,” Draco said.
“What if they come after you again?” Harry asked.
Draco narrowed his eyes. “I’ll be ready for them this time.”
Harry opened his mouth to respond when they heard a quiet, “Excuse me?”
Everyone in the room turned to the doorway, watching Sarah walk into the hospital wing. She gripped the strap of her book bag nervously. “Um, I’m sorry. I overheard you talking about what happened. I just can’t be quiet anymore. They told me it wouldn’t go this far.”
“What wouldn’t?” Harry asked. Draco caught the anger in his voice. He placed a hand on Harry’s arm, trying to calm the brewing storm.
Sarah swallowed. She looked around for Madam Pomfrey before speaking again. “They told me, they wouldn’t hurt Malfoy. They said they only talked to him and things got out of hand.”
“Oh yes, that’s why I’m sitting the hospital wing with a few broken ribs and fractured skull. They have such a way with words,” Draco said, his tone dripping with sarcasm.
Sarah flinched as if she took a blow. She leaned to the side gripping the strap of her back until her knuckles turned white. “They didn’t tell me about this. I didn’t want you to be hurt. I-”
“So you knew what was going to happen and you did nothing?” Harry asked, eyes narrowing. Draco gripped Harry, making sure his nails dug into his arm.
Sarah shook her head. “No, I didn’t know about the fight, but I knew Daniel and Sam were going to talk to you. I just didn’t know it would become violent.”
“Why didn’t you join them?” Ron asked.
“Sam and Daniel told me they were going to talk to Malfoy. That’s it. They said nothing about hurting him. I’m sorry about all of this. I didn’t mean for things to get out of hand,” Sarah said, moving from side to side nervously.
“What if things were worse? What would you do then?” Harry asked.
“Harry-” Hermione started when Harry shook his head. “No, she didn’t hit Draco, but it’s like she did.”
“He’s right. I didn’t do anything and Draco became seriously hurt. I can’t do this anymore. I want to help catch Sam and Daniel. I want to do something useful,” Sarah said.
“I don’t know if we can believe her,” Harry said.
“I want to, but can we?” Ron asked.
“We can. She’s not as bad as Samuel and Daniel. She’s manageable,” Draco said.
Luna walked over, standing in front of Sarah. She stared in her eyes for a few seconds before smiling.
“She can help us. Her eyes hold no malice and Flurieths fly around her. I know she’s good,” Luna said.
Draco turned to Harry. “You can’t argue with that.”
“I can’t, but I don’t want this.” Harry gestured to the bandages. “To happen again.”
“I don’t either, but I can’t sit in the hospital wing until the end of the semester. We need to get whatever plan we have in action, so I can continue with my school year. Well, so we¸ can continue with the year,” Draco said.
Harry grinned. “Yeah, that sounds nice. Okay I’ll work with her.” He turned to Sarah who started messing with the loose strand on her bag. “Sarah, yeah?”
“Yes?” Sarah said, looking up immediately.
“Will you work with us on this?” Harry asked.
Sarah nodded. “Yes, I will.”
Harry nodded. “Okay, because we’re going to need to know more about Winchester and Cunningham.”
“I can tell you anything you need to know,” Sarah said with a determined set to her jaw.
“Good, we’ll meet later in the common room,” Harry said.
“Why can’t we meet in the Room of Requirement?” Draco asked.
“We can, but we have to do something to them,” Harry said.
“Well, Blaise and Pansy won’t mind. Greg doesn’t care either way and who cares what the younger students think. It’s not like they can do anything anyway,” Draco said.
“We might be able to get one of the younger years as a look out for us,” Ron said.
“I can talk with a few of the younger students in my potions class. We have such lovely conversations about different articles in The Quibbler,” Luna said.
Sarah looked over quizzically. “I never heard of those creatures before. Are they covered in Care of Magical Creatures?”
“Oh, they are very amazing creatures. When we have time I would love to explain,” Luna said.
“That wouldn’t be too much trouble would it?” Sarah asked.
Luna smiled, shaking her head. “No, I look forward to it.”
Sarah smiled back, relaxing for the first time since the conversation started.
“Sarah, are you going to meet with Winchester and Cunningham tonight?” Draco asked.
“Yes, we’re going to study and hang for a little bit before going to sleep,” Sarah said.
“Alright, can you see if they have anything else planned? We also need to see how long this is going to last,” Harry said.
Sarah nodded. “I will. Sam has been talking about something lately. He’s going to tell me about it when we meet tonight.”
“I’m going to be in the hospital wing for another few days or so. Try to come sometime in the afternoon or early in the morning since that’s when I’ll have the most visitors,” Draco said.
Sarah nodded again, opening her mouth to confirm when they heard someone call Draco’s name. Everyone turned to Pansy who made a beeline over to Draco’s bed. She eyed Sarah before greeting Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Luna. Pansy turned to Draco, her eyes going over his bandages. She clicked her tongue against her teeth. “I couldn’t believe it when Ron told me about it. Are you okay?”
Draco nodded. “Yes, I’m fine. A little tired, but I can catch up on my rest while I’m here.”
“Okay, I already told Blaise, Theo, and Greg. They’ll be here later on,” Pansy said.
“Alright, where are they?” Draco asked.
“Blaise is in the Greenhouse with Sprout and Longbottom. Theo is finishing something in Transfiguration. Greg is helping the new captain put up stuff at the Quidditch pitch. They wanted to go see you immediately, but couldn’t get out of their jobs. I was just doing some research for this Muggle Studies essay. That’s why I was able to get here so fast,” Pansy said touching Draco’s hand. “I’m glad to see you’re alright.”
“Yeah I’m fine. I’ll be out of here soon.” Draco gestured over to Sarah. “I don’t believe you two have met. Sarah this is my friend Pansy. Pansy this is Sarah.”
“Oh, I know who she is. Your mother is Elizabeth, right?” Pansy asked, narrowing her eyes.
Sarah nodded, gripping her bag again. “Yes, she is. I’m sorry about that. My mom is a bit stubborn. It’s hard to change her mind about things.”
“I see, I believe that’s why she came around so much and insulted my mother’s color scheme,” Pansy said.
“I’m sorry. Her attitude has changed since the war. It’s going to take a while and a lot of convincing to change her attitude back to what it used to be,” Sarah said.
“Well, I hope it changes soon. Now why are we getting acquainted, Draco?” “She’s going to help us get the guys who did this.” Draco touched his bandages.
“Really? What are you going to do?” Pansy asked.
Sarah swallowed, trying not to lose her nerve under Pansy’s gaze. “Sam and Daniel trust me, they can tell me their next plans without too much trouble. I don’t want to see anyone else hurt.”
“Do you really think I’m going to trust you? You've got me looking over my shoulder at every turn. So why should I work with you?” Pansy snapped, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Because I know I can get Sam and Daniel to stop. If I can’t then I’ll get them in trouble. I just don’t want to do this anymore,” Sarah said.
Luna walked over, placing a hand on her shoulder. “I believe she’s telling the truth.”
Pansy looked in Sarah’s eyes, taking note of the helplessness in their depths. She sighed, casting a look around the room. “Are you all willing to work with her?”
Ron nodded. “I am.”
“The Skagars aren’t around her, so I know she’s telling the truth,” Luna said.
“She can help us get closer to Winchester and Cunningham,” Hermione said.
“I am, but I haven’t trust her completely yet,” Harry said.
Draco nodded. “She’s not as bad as the two imbeciles she works with.”
Pansy mulled over it for a few seconds before nodding. “Alright. I’ll work with you, but don’t think I’m not going to keep one eye open for you.”
Sarah nodded. “I understand.”
Pansy returned it. “Good now-”
“I am very happy to see that you have come to visit the wing to check on Mr. Malfoy. However, if he wants to get out of here faster, he needs to rest. You need to make it back to your dorms before curfew,” Madam Pomfrey said, walking over to Draco’s bed.
“She’s right, I’ll see you later. Maybe Theo, Blaise, and Greg can get a small visit in tomorrow,” Pansy said.
“Maybe, but I’ll see them when I’m out. We don’t have to have a Slytherin reunion in the hospital wing. I’m hurt, not dying. There’s no need for a bedside vigil,” Draco said.
Pansy giggled. “Of course, well, take care.” She hugged Draco and stood up. Draco patted her back lightly. “Take care, don’t fret I’ll be out soon.”
“Can’t wait,” Pansy said, walking to the door.
Luna squeezed Draco’s hand. “I wish you a speedy recovery. Hopefully the Nargles will not interrupt that.”
“I hope not.” Draco squeezed her hand back.
Luna smiled before walking away and over to the door.
“Well, then, good luck and all that.” Ron nodded.
“Yes, well, that’s what I’m hoping for. Say, Weasley, for assisting me in the corridor earlier and delivering the messages, you have my gratitude,” Draco said.
Ron nodded. “It’s nothing. I figured you wouldn’t want anyone to find out through rumors.”
“Yes, I wouldn’t,” Draco said.
“I’ll see you soon, well if you’re not with Harry the minute you come out,” Ron said, flashing a smile to Harry.
Harry grinned. “Thanks.”
“Anytime.” Hmm, maybe the git has changed, Ron thought as he walked over to the door.
Hermione laughed softly behind her hand, turning her gaze to Harry and Draco. She smiled. “I’ll make sure to get your work from your other classes. I don’t think you’ll want to fall behind.”
“I don’t. I can catch up on everything later,” Draco said.
“Yes, it will not be too difficult. Mal-Draco I’m happy it was nothing too serious. I know you’ll be out in no time,” Hermione said.
Draco nodded. “That’s what I have in mind.”
“Make sure you get a lot of rest,” Hermione said.
“I will. Someone has to be there to make sure you keep fresh during class,” Draco said in a light tone.
Hermione grinned. “I would like to see you try.” She patted his bed before joining the others at the door. I have to tell them I sent the bracelet. I thought Draco was bad for Harry, but he’s not. I have to apologize.
“Please get better soon,” Sarah said. She quickly walked over to the door before Draco and Harry could say anything. The things Draco wanted to say could wait.
* * *
Ron, Hermione, Pansy, Luna, and Sarah waited for Harry outside. Sarah stood further away from the crowd, trying not to get into any more trouble. Luna walked over to Sarah, striking up a conversation. Ron, Hermione, and Pansy sat back. They tried to figure out how Sarah could flinch around Luna.
Pansy shook her head. “I knew they hated us because of what happened, but I didn’t know they would go so far.”
“It was a good thing I like to take that route after class. I don't know where he was trying to go, but it didn’t matter. He needed to get to the hospital wing,” Ron said.
“That was a very nice thing you did, Ron,” Hermione said.
Pansy nodded. “Yeah, it was.” She rubbed her arm in an attempt to calm down her nerves. “Listen, thanks for doing that. I’m sorry I accused you of hurting Draco before. It’s just, well, you were always there when Draco was hurt and I-”
“It’s okay. I know. I thought about that one day and each scenario did look suspicious. I wasn’t any better when I accused you of hurting Harry. There’s plenty of blame to toss around here, but I think we can get past that,” Ron said.
Pansy smiled. “Right. You know Weas-Ron, maybe we can get along.”
Ron grinned. “I think so, too.”
* * *
Harry sat back. He was content. They had a plan ready, once they fixed a few holes here and there it would work. He hoped it would work. Harry would have hexed Sarah, but Luna saw something in Sarah. He decided not to do it.
Harry turned to Draco, who looked back at him. It was good not to see anger in Draco’s eyes. Madam Pomfrey conveniently walked to her desk for another file and Harry linked his fingers with Draco’s, keeping their gaze.
Draco smirked. “You’re being very affectionate. Are you sure you’re not a Hufflepuff under all that Gryffindor pride?”
“Oh, I’m just making up for lost time, believe me.” He leaned forward, bringing their lips together in a heated kiss. Harry slid his fingers into Draco’s hair pulling him close. Draco gripped Harry’s shirt, kissing him back. It had been a week since Harry shared a kiss with Draco. He resolved not to make that mistake again.
Harry pulled away first, his labored breath fanned against Draco’s lips. “Think I’m a Hufflepuff now?”
“I’ll have to do some thorough research when I’m out,” Draco whispered.
Harry smiled stepping back from Draco. He didn’t break the link between their hands. “I’ll be back tomorrow, try to get some sleep.”
“Okay, I will. You better be here tomorrow or you’ll be the one in this bed.” Draco emphasized his point by squeezing his hand.
Harry chuckled. “I’ll keep that in mind. See you.” He walked back, pulling his hand from Draco’s gripped.
Draco nodded sitting back against the pillows. “Bye.”
Harry waved, walking towards the door. He stopped by Madam Pomfrey’s office. “Good night, Madam Pomfrey. Thank you.”
Madam Pomfrey smiled. “You’re welcome. Good night Mr. Potter.”
Harry smiled, walking out the door. When the door shut behind him Madam Pomfrey closed the file. She stood up with Draco’s potion. It’s a good thing to see those two finally getting along. She walked over to Draco’s bed ready to perform her weekly check.
* * *
Harry joined the crowd by the door, walking with them down the hall. Harry turned to Sarah. “We’re going to go to our common room. Are you going to meet up with Winchester and Cunningham?”
Sarah nodded. “Yes.”
“Okay, when you’re done, meet us in the Room of Requirement. Tell the Knight that I invited you. He’s quite picky and takes his job very seriously,” Harry said.
“Okay,” Sarah answered.
“Alright, we’ll see you soon,” Harry said.
Luna patted Sarah’s shoulder in reassurance. “Good luck.”
Sarah relaxed as she nodded again. “Thank you. See you guys soon.” She gave a shy, tentative wave before turning down the corridor. When Sarah was out of earshot, Luna walked over to Harry.
“I forgot a few books in my dorm. Would you like to come with me to get them?” Luna asked.
Harry nodded. “Sure thing.” He turned to Ron, Pansy, and Hermione. “Go ahead before us, we’ll be there soon.”
“Okay,” Ron said as Pansy nodded.
“See you,” Hermione said, walking turning down another corridor with Ron and Pansy.
When they were out of earshot, Luna turned to Harry. She smiled. “I’m glad you decided to take this walk with me. We have many more to catch up on.”
Harry returned it with a nod. “We do. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to walk with you lately.”
Luna waved it away. “Don’t worry about it. You were very busy and I understand that.”
“Thanks, things have been so crazy lately. It’s been a struggle just to keep up.”
“Returning to a routine is something you have to move into. It’s like a when Giurg makes a nest with its mate,” Luna said.
Harry nodded. “I don’t think I’ve been moving in quite smoothly.”
Luna giggled. “No one said that a Giurg nest building was easy, Harry. It takes time and patience from both the Giurg and its mate to be comfortable. It happens in time, though.”
Harry absorbed Luna’s words. Hmm, it sounds like building a relationship. He blinked in surprise when realization dawned on him. He smiled, turning to Luna who gave him a dreamy smile in return.
“I believe it’s time to go retrieve my books,” Luna said.
“Yeah.” He could always count on Luna to give the best advice.
* * *
Harry visited Draco in the hospital wing every day. He sat at Draco’s bed and updated Draco on different events that happened around the school. Harry felt guilty about not walking with Draco that day. No matter how many times Draco reassured him that it wasn’t his fault. Harry wouldn’t feel better until Draco left the Hospital Wing.
Draco didn’t like being in the wing at night. He didn’t like the shadows that danced to an unknown rhythm against the walls. He liked it when Harry used the invisibility cloak to visit him. It was easier to fall asleep that way.
Draco could tolerate the wing in the daytime. Many people visited him and stayed until visiting hours were over. When Blaise and Theo visited, they asked about the fight and who did it. Draco didn’t bite his tongue on the names, but he stopped Blaise and Theo from finding Sam and Daniel. He wanted to be there to watch them get into trouble.
After two weeks, Madam Pomfrey discharged Draco from the wing. After he received the note from Madam Pomfrey for his teachers, he walked outside to Harry. Harry pushed away from the wall and walked over to Draco.
“Hey, how do you feel?”
Draco rubbed his shoulders. “After all the potions and sleep, I feel good. I need to catch up on my studying, though.”
“You won’t have to catch up on much. Hermione made a study guide and it’s easy to use.”
“How easy is it?”
“Hermione made it. It has everything you need to know and more.”
“Good, then I won’t be far behind.”
“Nope.” Harry ran a hand through his hair. “Hey, can we not go to the common room just yet? It’s been a while since we were alone.”
Draco smirked, placing his hands on Harry’s chest. “Missed me?” He purred.
Harry flushed a bright red. “No. Well, maybe.”
Draco chuckled. “No need to be embarrassed. I have that effect on people.” He leaned up towards Harry’s ear. “We can go to the Room of Requirement. I promise we won’t be disturbed.”
Harry shivered at Draco’s words. He turned his head and placed a kiss on Draco’s temple. “Lead the way.”
* * *
“Mr. Malfoy, please take a seat.” McGonagall pointed to the chair in front of her desk. “Now I understand that you were attacked two weeks ago by two fellow students, correct?”
Draco nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Mr. Weasley delivered the message, but he didn’t have the names of the two young men involved. Do you know them?”
“Minerva, I suggest you give Mr. Malfoy some tea or some sweets to calm his nerves,” Dumbledore said.
McGonagall pointed to the bowl on her desk. “I don’t have many sweets, but I do have Chocolate Frogs and Cauldron Cakes.”
Draco waved the offer away. “That’s alright.”
“No Lemon Drops?” Dumbledore asked in surprise.
“I don’t favor them very much,” McGonagall said.
Dumbledore clicked his tongue and shook his head. “Shame, they are so good too.”
McGonagall gave Albus an amused look and turned around to Draco. “What are their names?”
“Daniel Winchester and Samuel Cunningham. Sarah Watson used to follow them, but she stopped.”
“I see. They will be dealt with immediately. I’m sorry about what happened, Mr. Malfoy.”
“It’s alright, Professor.”
“Would you like to talk about it?”
“No ma’am, I’ll be fine. I would like to go back to the common room and catch up on my studying.”
“Very good. Good luck with your N.E.W.T.s and I’ll speak with you later.”
“Good evening, Mr. Malfoy,” Dumbledore said.
“Good evening, hHadmaster. Good evening, Headmistress.” Draco got up from the chair and walked out the room. He smirked. You can talk with them after they’re finished spitting up flies.
Harry came up with the idea for Sarah to give Sam and Daniel, the twins’ new creation. It was a candy charmed for the user to spit up flies. It was the twins’ best invention. Draco could finish studying without any problems.
* * *
The eighth years made it through their N.E.W.T.s without too many problem. Hermione was upset that she didn’t get the highest marks in Runes, but was pleased with her results. Things fell back to normal after Sam and Daniel were put in detention. Sarah stopped talking to Sam and Daniel and grew closer to Harry, Draco, and their friends. Ginny got to know Draco and his friends. She agreed that Harry and Draco did fit well together. She would have to get used to seeing Draco, though.
After N.E.W.T.s the eighth years threw an end of the year party. Firewhiskey made the games very interesting. Everyone learned something new about the other. Harry and Ron learned things about each other that would take some time to forget. Draco felt the same about his friends. The last weeks of school passed by in a blur of hang outs and parties.
On the last train ride on the Hogwarts Express, Harry and Draco found a compartment to ride back together.
“So this has been quite a crazy year,” Harry said, his head resting in Draco’s lap.
Draco nodded, combing his fingers through Harry’s hair. “It has, but it was one to remember.”
Harry smiled. “Yeah, it was. I know I won’t forget what we did after the leaving feast, not to mention, the party.” His smile grew at the light flush on Draco’s cheeks.
Draco cleared his throat, trying to push the color away. “You forgot to mention what we just did a few minutes ago.”
It was Harry’s turn to flush, shifting lightly in Draco’s lap. “Yeah, well, I won’t forget it either.”
Draco grinned, looking out the window. He had no idea he would be on the train leaving Hogwarts with Harry in his lap. There were many things Draco didn’t think he would do. He didn’t think he would consider Luna a friend. A blunt friend, but a friend he could count on like Pansy. Draco had no idea Pansy would be Neville’s girlfriend or Goyle would be Lavender’s boyfriend. Theodore had a good career working with Charms. Draco looked forward to his training as a healer. He knew Harry would do well as an Auror.
Draco chuckled, causing Harry to look up. “What’s up?”
“I just thought about our career choices. Me, a healer, you going into Auror training. It oddly fits,” Draco said.
Harry nodded with a smile. “Yeah, it does. Don’t remind me of training; I want to enjoy my time off before that.”
“I thought it was something to look forward to. I’m not too thrilled about my healer training.”
“You shouldn’t fret about that. You’re a natural.”
“Of course, but with you as an Auror, I know my work will be cut out for me.” Draco sighed softly, shaking his head.
Harry smiled sheepishly. “Well, at least I’ll keep you busy.”
“For once, I agree with you.” Draco grinned.
“There’s a first time for everything,” Harry said.
“This year is full of surprises,” Draco said.
Harry laughed, leaning up to press a soft kiss against Draco’s lips. Draco leaned into the kiss, resting his hand against Harry’s cheek. Harry broke the kiss to sit up better in Draco’s lap. Draco pulled Harry close, resuming the kiss once again. Harry slid his fingers through Draco’s hair as Draco moaned softly through the kiss.
They pulled apart slowly. Draco placed a light kiss on Harry’s lips before pulling apart completely. Harry rested his forehead against Draco’s lightly with a smile. “I don’t think I’ll ever tire of that.”
Draco chuckled. “Addicted to me already?”
Harry winked, nipping Draco’s bottom lip. “Maybe, who knows?”
Draco smirked. “Well, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of kissing you either.”
Harry smiled, placing his arms around Draco’s waist. “I can’t believe you gave me a compliment. Next thing you know you’ll start saying how much you love me.”
“I shudder whenever I think of that day,” Draco said, placing his arms around Harry’s neck.
Harry laughed. “You can’t wait for that day, admit it.”
Draco smirked. “I’ll admit it once your hair lies flat.”
Harry smiled resting his head against Draco’s shoulder. “Let me know when we’re at the platform.”
“Okay.” Draco grinned playing with Harry’s hair. He loved the unruly locks, but he would reveal that to Harry later. The image of Harry’s shocked face caused Draco to chuckle softly.
* * *
Harry didn’t realize he'd drifted to sleep until Draco shook him lightly. “Hey, wake up.”
Harry grumbled, shaking his head. “No, I don’t want to.”
“It’s time to leave.”
“We should go.”
“I swear I’m never going to get used to this.”
Harry popped up at the sound of Ron’s voice. He turned to the doorway looking at an amused Blaise, Luna, and Hermione while Ron looked like he wanted to throw up.
“I don’t see why, Ron. Many people have sex in the compartments. It’s easy to maneuver in the seats, ” Luna said.
Blaise nodded. “Too bad Weasley will just miss out on it.”
“Hey, we did something. Why Hermione-umpf!” Ron stumbled at the hand Hermione placed on his mouth.
“Ron! Please!” Hermione exclaimed, flushing lightly.
Harry laughed, rubbing the last of sleep out of his eyes. “I guess it’s time for us to leave, right?”
“I’ve been telling you that, but you didn’t want to listen,” Draco said.
Harry got out of Draco’s lap stretching lightly. “I know you like your voice, so I let you talk.”
“I’m flattered, but we should get going. I want to relax first before I meet Pansy for lunch. You’re welcome to join us, if you want,” Draco said.
“I can make it.” Harry smiled. “We’ll still have enough time for our date, as well.”
“Merlin, first Harry then Neville, is there anyone else I should know about?” Ron said.
“No at the moment. All the available spots are full. We’ll let you know if any more spots open up.” Draco smirked.
Ron glared as Harry, Luna, and Blaise laughed. Hermione giggled, shaking her head in exasperation. “Ron, it’s not that bad. I would love to go to lunch. Are you coming?”
“Sure, why not. If I can survive this year, I can survive lunch,” Ron said.
Draco smirked. “Do try not to be late.”
Harry returned it. “I’ll try.”
Ron groaned. “I can’t take this flirting. I’m going to be outside if anyone needs me.” He walked away, shaking his head and grumbling about tricky snakes.
Hermione giggled. “He’s still adjusting, but he’ll be fine. We’ll meet you outside, guys.”
“Try not to have sex in here. You won’t have enough time,” Luna said.
Blaise laughed when Harry blushed. He turned to Luna. “I have no doubt they will have time for such activities later. We can wait for them outside with Ron and Hermione. While we wait, tell me what you want to do for the Quibbler.”
Luna smiled. “I have many things planned. I can’t wait.” She started to describe the topics to Blaise as they walked down the hall.
Hermione turned back to Harry and Draco. She smiled. “I’m glad you two are happy.”
“Thanks, Hermione,” Harry said.
Draco nodded. “Thank you Gra-Hermione.”
Hermione beamed. “I thought you two would never stop being stubborn. I thought it would take even longer for you two to shag.” She laughed at the way Harry’s flush deepened and Draco’s eyes widened in surprise.
Hermione calmed down, smoothing her shirt down. “I’m going to go meet Ron before he starts muttering something else. I’ll see you guys.” She flashed another smile before walking down the hallway.
When Hermione’s footsteps disappeared, Harry turned to Draco. “Did Hermione just say that?”
“I believe she did. I didn’t know she had it in her,” Draco said getting out of his seat.
“Hermione has been full of surprises, but I’m glad she approves of us now. Even if she didn’t, I wouldn’t mind,” Harry said.
Draco raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Why not?”
“Because your approval is the one that matters. So, do you approve?” Harry asked.
“I believe this shows that I do.” Draco stepped forward, slipping his arms around Harry’s neck. He leaned forward, licking Harry’s bottom lip before taking it between his teeth. He sucked on it slowly, loving the soft moan from Harry. Draco released Harry’s bottom lip slowly as Harry wrapped an arm around Draco’s waist.
Draco turned his head as Harry cradled the back of Draco’s head. They met together in a soft kiss. Their lips worked against each other as their hands tried to pull the other closer. It wasn’t a kiss fueled with anger-filled passion or desperation. It was a kiss fueled by tenderness. There was another emotion in the kiss. An emotion Harry and Draco didn’t want to admit to, yet. It filled their chests and shone in their eyes when they pulled away.
Harry smiled. “I’m glad you do.”
Draco smiled back, humming in agreement. “Yes, that’s known to happen. What’s wrong?” He noticed Harry’s curious stare.
“A smile, I can’t believe it,” Harry said, squeezing Draco’s hand.
“Stranger things have happened. Contrary to popular belief, Malfoys can smile. We don’t do it often for fear of the debilitating effects it can cause.” Draco squeezed back, walking out of the compartment with Harry.
Harry sighed in relief. “Yep, you’re still the Draco I know.”
Draco smirked. “Would I be any different?”
“No I don’t think so, even if popular opinion wants it to happen,” Harry said.
“I can’t please everyone. I’ve accepted that fact,” Draco said.
Harry chuckled, stopping in front of the door with Draco. “Well, do you want to go out like this?” He held up their hands. “Or do you want to, you know, keep it secret.”
“No, I want to walk out like this. Besides if the press causes us too much trouble, Pansy will hex them,” Draco said.
“Yeah, Molly will too. Well, are you ready Draco?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be, Harry.”
Harry smiled opening the door to the entrance of the train. Draco took a breath before walking outside with Harry. He looked around noticing Hermione and Ron talking with Fred and George. Pansy waved to them as Neville smiled. Luna and Blaise talked to Xenophilius who didn’t look surprised that Luna was on Blaise’s arm. Sarah looked comfortable around George. Draco’s eyes widened in surprise at the sight of Molly and Narcissa holding a conversation, he didn’t think it was possible
“You are going to visit me, right?” Harry said.
Draco nodded. “Yes, but you’re going to visit me at the Manor. Mother looks forward to having tea with you in the gardens.”
“Sounds nice, I’ll go, but only if you agree to come to the Burrow for dinner. Molly can’t wait to have you over,” Harry said.
“Me invited to a Weasley dinner, what has the world come to?”
“It’s probably in the same universe where I’m a guest at the Manor,” Harry said.
Draco chuckled. “Of course.” He resumed his observation of people at the platform. Draco stopped when he locked eyes with Ginny. Ginny looked between Harry and Draco before locking eyes with Draco again. She gave a polite smile and nod, turning back to her conversation with Luna.
Harry sighed in relief. “That went better than I thought.”
“Yes, it did,” Draco said.
Harry squeezed Draco’s hand. “Don’t worry, she’ll get used to us in time.”
“I’m sure she will. At least she stopped glaring at me.”
“I told you Luna would help us.”
“She has done much for us. We have to treat her to something special soon.”
Harry nodded. “I agree. We should go over, Pansy looks impatient.”
Draco chuckled, walking over to Pansy and Neville. “Longbottom will help her calm down. She won’t kill us, yet.”
Harry laughed following Draco and trying to avoid Pansy’s glare. Draco grinned and nodded to Neville who waved. Draco and Harry didn’t know what lay ahead in the future, but facing it together didn’t seem too bad. Harry and Draco worked better together, after all.