Length of fragment: 3,900 words
Fandom: Harry Potter
Main character/pairing: Harry/Draco
Rating: as presented - PG
May changes be made to what you've already written?: It's yours now - have at it!
Notes to the adoptive parent(s): I started this shortly after HBP came out, but realized pretty quick that I was having issues with this Horcrux thing. Honestly, I'm still lukewarm on the whole plotline, but it's growing on me. Regardless, I don't plan on finishing this fic. I have an outline for the rest of the story, but you don't want or need it. Whatever ideas you come up with will be better than mine were, I'm sure. It was tentatively titled "A History of Us", but if you give it a nice home, you can name it whatever you like. :)
Fragment is under the cut.
When one pays for a ghost tour, one wants to be scared.
The imposing front door of 12 Grimmauld Place swung open, hinges creaking as the tour guide pushed it forward. She smiled to herself as several of the tourists shrank back from the sound, as though a creaking door were dangerous. Though around here, in this place, anything was possible, she supposed. She always pushed the front door open slowly, so as to maximize the eerie creaking sound. People appreciated it, although they may not realize.
After all, when one pays for a ghost tour, one wants to be scared.
She cleared her throat as several tourists arched their necks and strained forward, hoping for a glimpse inside. They wouldn’t be able to see anything. The Foundation, capitalizing on the haunted house idea, kept it dark. In fact, the house boasted minimum lighting as best. All the better to delight the tourists.
“Now,” she said in a clear voice, “before we venture inside, I would like to give a brief overview of the use of the house during the Second Coming.” Positive everyone’s attention was focused on her, she continued. “During the early years of Harry Potter’s life, specifically his first several at Hogwarts, Grimmauld Place was used as a gathering area and safe house for the Order of the Phoenix, the famed splinter group who opposed Voldemort during both the First and Second Comings.”
Several people referred to their brochures at this point. “This would be between the years 1992 and 1997,” she clarified for those who looked lost. As she spoke, she gave a discreet wave of the wand hidden in her sleeve, and a chilly wind blew through the door, ruffling the robes of several tourists. Several smaller children shrank back against their mothers. The guide smiled in satisfaction.
“However, it was during the year 1997 and beyond when the house saw most of its use.” She lowered her voice, lending drama to the narration. “That, of course, is when Harry Potter used the house for his dark experiments and also where he kept his prisoners - Death Eaters for the most part - while he…questioned them about Voldemort’s activities.”
The use of the Dark Lord’s name had several of the adults shrinking back. Never mind that it had been two hundred years since he had been vanquished. The guide gave an encouraging smile, all the while cheering herself for the reaction her group gave to the name, Voldemort. The geniuses responsible for reopening the tour knew what they were doing. People wanted drama. Fear and death lived here, but to be fair, so did triumph and love.
This particular tour had been closed for nearly twenty years, a victim of lagging interest in the Wars, although the Second Coming of Voldemort still provoked strong feelings in many.
Harry Potter was responsible.
The “Harry Potter” tour had opened again to great fanfare and a new marketing scheme. On occasion, the guide did feel a twinge of guilt for sensationalizing so much of the tragic young man’s life. But dying young accomplished what little else could for a person – it had made Harry Potter a legend. A legend above all others.
Near the back of the group of mesmerized tourists, a hooded figure bent over his brochure to hide his smile. Next to him, another cloaked figure, whose features were also hidden by his hood turned to whisper something to the first. The first figure chuckled.
“And now,” the guide said with a dramatic flourish, “let us enter.” She waved her wand and the door swung wide with another ominous creek. The tour guide glided in, giggling to herself when no one followed at her heels.
“Come now, Come on,” she coaxed. The group moved forward as one, subscribing to the theory that there was safety in numbers, and crowded into the entry hall. The guide motioned them forward, always with encouragement, never with impatience, and behind the last straggler, the front door swung shut with a noisy clank. A collective gasp from the group caused the guide to hide yet another smug grin. At the back of the crowd, one of the hooded figures snorted quietly in amusement.
“My dear people,” the guide began, “Here we are. You are standing inside The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. Its history is rich, yes, rich beyond imagining. Even before the Wars, this house had a story to tell. But that is for another time,” she said with a saucy wink. “Today, you will hear about the time when it belonged to the one and only Harry Potter.” Without another word, she turned and strode across the dark foyer, past the staircase, toward a pair of double doors. The crowd followed dutifully.
“The one and only,” the second robed figure said in low tones to the first. “Thank goodness. Don’t think I could have kept up with more than one.”
“You didn't always feel that way,” the first figure said, a hint of amusement in his voice.
The second didn’t answer. He gestured for his partner to precede him, and they followed the guide into grand library of Grimmauld Place.
Inside, the tour guide regaled the group with what she described as 'the lesser known facts' about the house. “Yes,” she said. “You might even call them secrets. For, officially, little is known about that time. You know the time of which I speak.”
As one, every witch in the crowd moved forward, straining their ears. The wizards, as one, rolled their eyes or wandered off to study the room. The guide continued her story to her now rapt, and overwhelmingly female, audience. “It was the year that Harry Potter vanquished the Dark Lord, Voldemort, and freed us all forever. The year he plotted, schemed, and worked tirelessly to punish those who deserved to be punished – and to redeem those that didn’t.”
Another sigh floated up from the group, now mostly witches. The first hooded figure gave a small pained groan and turned away. The second bent forward over his folded arms to disguise his laughter. A portly witch near the back raised her hand and called out, “You are speaking, of course, of when Harry Potter captured Draco Malfoy and held him here, eventually turning him to the Light.”
The guide pursed her lips, trying and failing to hide her disgruntlement at being interrupted. “Indeed,” she answered. “It was during this time that the two formed the famous alliance our children still learn about to this day. The very partnership that saved so many and bound those two young men together for all eternity-” the guide paused for effect, “-in love.”
This time, the twittering and sighing reached record levels. The first hooded figure returned to his partner’s side. “I’m not sure how much more of this I can take,” he whispered.
“Oh, please,” the second responded in a haughty voice, “this was your idea.” He slipped a hand from the deep fold of his sleeve and caught the other’s fingers in his. One hand was pale, the other darker. Both were unlined and looked, by nature of their bone structure, strong and capable. “Let’s stay. The memories…”
The first figure squeezed his fingers around his partner’s. “I know. All right, we’ll stay. I agree, the memories are overwhelming.”
The last word was delivered in an unmistakable bitter tone and the second figure sighed. “Thank you,” he replied in a quiet voice.
The guide motioned with her hands and the wayward wizards returned to the center of the room, scowling at their wives. “Of course,” the guide continued, “their romance was not an easy one, to be sure, and as you all know, riddled with pain, loss and deceit. But more about that later. Let me give you a brief history on this room. The library…”
The first hooded figure slipped from the crowd and made his way to the large fireplace. Slowly, he raised his hand to the mantel. He scowled at the layer of dust, so obviously left for effect, and with a careless flick of his wrist and muttered incantation, banished the cobwebs from the items lined up across the top. The guide faltered in her speech when a loud screeching alarm sounded.
“Pardon me, but there is to be no unauthorized magic in here, please remember. Not so much as an accio, as it will trigger the alarms. Thank you for your understanding.” She craned her neck over the crowd, trying to determine who had cast the illegal spell, but most others were looking around as well. After a moment, she gave up. “As I was saying, the library is home to over two hundred and fifty first editions…”
The second figure glided up to the first. “Naughty, naughty,” he scolded under his breath.
The first figure blew out a frustrated sigh. “Look at this,” he demanded. He pointed to a small figurine, a man crouched in the snow, building what looked to be a castle out of the icy drifts that surrounded him. It was covered in dust and grime.
The second figure caught his breath. “I never thought I’d see it again,” he admitted after a moment. He eased his finger toward the statue and stroked the cold metal. “Amazing.”
“I remember that day,” the first figure said solemnly.
The second man turned toward the first and stepped close. “Those times are far behind us. Far behind us,” he said. His kept his voice low, and the drone of the tour guide masked his words.
“Not so far,” the other replied. “I remember them well.”
“Now,” the tour guide interrupted, a twinkle in her eye. “It is rumored…” she let her voice drift off. The crowd twittered in anticipation. “It is rumored that somewhere in this library, Harry Potter hid something of incredible value.”
As one, the assembled witches and wizards swung their heads around toward the towering shelves of books. Multiple pairs of eyes scanned the thousands of bindings. Children peeked into corners. “A great treasure, beyond anyone’s imagination,” the guide continued, smirking when the indistinct mutterings grew and heads craned at even more impossible angles.
The two hooded figures stood at the back of the group. The first turned to the second and rolled his eyes, the gesture difficult to discern in the shadow of the hood, but the second knew the other’s reactions better than his own. “If they only knew,” the second whispered with a smirk.
“You had better hope they never find it,” the first replied. “It’s not exactly guided tour material, if you take my meaning,” he said, nodding his head toward a couple of children standing nearby.
“You worry too much.”
The first figure shook his head, but didn’t try to hide his smile. He tuned out the droning of the tour guide and let his mind drift. He wouldn’t normally relax his focus so much, but he felt safe here. He had always felt safe here. Nearly two hundred years later, and it felt to him as though it was only yesterday. That horrible, wonderful time. It was the year when all that was bad and good in his life clashed with frightening force and tangled into a mess of epic proportions. The year when enemies became friends and vise versa. When people came back from the land of death and those he cherished were lost to its embrace forever. No, he would not forget.
It was the year he had made Draco his, and had given himself in turn. And in the end, perhaps that was all that mattered.
Harry turned from the mantel, away the small statue, and joined the throng as they filed out of the library. Draco joined him. They didn’t speak, but that had never been a requirement between them. Each lost himself in the avalanche of memories that had tumbled down around them from the moment they had Apparated to the street in front of the house.
Harry saw Draco stare long and hard at a particular shelf as they passed, and he didn’t have to search his memory for why. His own thoughts were rolling back – back to a time that he had never given a label to before, but that he now understood quite clearly, had been the beginning of it all.
Seventeen-year-old Harry Potter stood in the library of his house. It was his house, regardless of that verbal trash Kreacher spouted. True to his word, Harry had not returned to Hogwarts that September of what should have been his seventh year at school. Instead, he had retreated to Grimmauld Place and plotted. Over the months, the loyal had gathered around him, accepting his leadership without question, and together they had faced the increasing threat of Voldemort.
Harry would never admit how many times he had despaired, positive they were fighting a losing battle. But too many people looked to him to bolster their own courage for Harry to verbalize his doubts. And now, after so many setbacks, finally, finally, they had managed a success.
Weeks of planning and one bold stroke had given the side of the Light an invaluable prize. In fact, Harry thought with a grin, it was on its way to him now. He paced the length of the library again, impatient for Ron and Hermione to arrive. It still smarted that his involvement in the plan had been struck down, unequivocally and with unilateral consensus. He hated remaining behind, but didn’t begrudge his friends their concern. The plan, despite its potential rewards, was risky. No one wanted to risk Harry. He grimaced. The whole sentiment made him sick.
He was pulled from his musings by a sudden commotion in the foyer and the tell-tale crack of a portkey apparition. He strode to the door and pulled it open, letting out a relieved sigh when he saw both Ron and Hermione safe. Glancing down, he saw a large lumpy sack at their feet.
He greeted Ron with a squeeze on the shoulder and Hermione with a tight hug. The touches, albeit brief, reassured him that his friends were unhurt.
He jabbed the bag with his foot. “This what I’ve been waiting for?”
Ron gave a tired grin. “It is.”
“So he was where our informant said he'd be.”
Hermione nodded. “And completely unprotected. I guess I’m not surprised. It was an obscure location and unplottable to boot. If it'd been me, I would have felt safe enough to be there alone as well.”
Harry bit his lip. “Any sign…of the other?”
“None,” Hermione confirmed.
Harry swallowed his anger. Their plan had succeeded, after all. “Someday, Albus,” he whispered. To his friends he said, “Bring him into the library. I want to fit him with the bracelet before the stunning spell wears off.”
“Right,” Ron said and levitated the bulky sack through the doors behind Harry. He released the charm once inside, and the bag dropped to the floor with a thud. Hermione winced and opened her mouth to protest, but one look from Harry and she shut it again.
“Thanks,” Harry said. “Is Remus all right?”
Ron ran a hand over his face. Hermione noticed the gesture and came to stand beside him, lending what was left of her own flagging strength. “He’s fine,” she answered for Ron. “He and Tonks Apparated directly to Hogwarts to report to Professor McGonagall.”
“That’s a relief.” He dragged his eyes away from the motionless bag. “Upstairs, you two. Get some rest. You’ve got to be exhausted.”
Ron crossed his arms in front of his chest. “I’ll wait and make sure this one doesn’t give you any trouble.”
Harry smiled, but it was sad. “I think I can handle him, Ron.” He laughed outright as Ron flushed. “I think it’s better this way, anyway.”
“Sorry, mate. I didn’t mean to imply… I mean, you’re more powerful that I could ever-”
“Ron,” Harry interrupted. “It’s okay.” He signaled Hermione with his eyes. “I know what you meant, but I really want you two to get some rest, okay?”
They both hesitated. Harry found himself both loving and hating them for it. “Tell you what, help me get the bracelet on him, Ron. Hermione, double check the wards Remus placed on the house. Once that’s done, there’s not a chance in the world of him harming me or getting away. Then,” he emphasized, “I really want you to get some sleep.”
They both agreed. Hermione left the library to begin checking the wards. Harry had no doubt she would reinforce them while she was at it. He and Ron bent to their task. Ron withdrew his wand from his pocket, and with a quiet incantation, the ropes around the bag loosened and fell away.
Harry bent down and grabbed the closed end. Ron stopped him. “I can just vanish the bag,” he said.
Harry gave an evil grin in return. “That’s all right.” He grasped the material and pulled as he stood up. Like an early Christmas present, Draco Malfoy tumbled out onto the floor. Ron and Harry stood over him for some time, watching as his chest rose and fell evenly. Harry pushed his rising anger away. He reached into his pocket and withdrew a solid banded silver bracelet. Without looking at Ron, he crouched by Draco’s limp form and slipped it over his right hand. As soon as it was over his wrist, Harry spoke the spell Remus has taught him and the bracelet glowed red before shrinking to fit snugly against Draco’s skin.
Harry stood. It was done. On the floor, Draco groaned and stirred. “Just in time,” Ron mumbled.
“Go ahead upstairs, Ron,” Harry said, his eyes never leaving Draco. He looked back at his friend when Ron didn’t answer. Ron was frowning at him. Harry grinned as a wave of affection washed through him. He often wondered where he would be without Ron and Hermione. “Trust me,” he said, his voice insistent.
After a few tense moments, Ron gave a deep sigh and nodded. “Be careful,” he warned as he left. Harry listened as he met Hermione in the hall. Harry knew Remus’s wards, the ones designed to keep Draco in line, were perfect, and as he suspected, she didn't find any problems. He heard them climb the steps to the second and then third floor. When the faint sound of their bedroom door closing drifted back to him, he turned back to Malfoy.
He took a deep breath and withdrew his wand. “Ennervate.”
Draco moaned and rolled over, facing away from Harry. Harry knew the exact moment his enemy’s eyes opened, because Draco gasped and his body tensed. He reached for his wand, and not finding it, cursed under his breath.
Harry smiled as he watched. “Hello, Draco.”
Draco spun his head around and cringed as soon as he did so. Harry knew the stunning spell was to blame. It always left the victim with a nasty headache. “Not feeling too well, I’d wager,” Harry said. He left his wand pointed directly at Draco.
“You won’t get away with this, Potter,” Draco spat, growling when his threat emerged as a hoarse croak from his throat.
Harry backed away and lowered himself into a chair. “Oh, I beg to differ.”
Draco growled again and tried to push himself onto his feet. Halfway there, he faltered when he spied the bracelet around his wrist. “What the hell is this?” he said.
Harry answered, even though the question had sounded hypothetical. “That’s my insurance, Malfoy. It prevents you from hurting me.”
Draco’s head swung back to Harry. “There’s not enough magic in the world to prevent that, Potter.”
Harry threw his head back and laughed. “Don’t believe me?” He lowered his wand and placed it on the table next to him. “Try it.” He stood up and walked over to where Draco was wobbling on his feet. Draco eyed him with a wary expression, then suddenly, without warning, struck out with his fist. Before his punch met Harry’s face, however, Draco fell to the floor with an agonized cry, holding his head.
“What the fuck?” he yelled.
Harry chuckled and squatted down next to Draco. “Every time you raise a hand to me, it will come back on you twofold, Malfoy. In fact, anytime I get hurt for any reason, by anyone, you’ll get a double dose of my pain and suffering.” He laughed again. “I’m sure I don’t have to remind you how often I ended up in the Hospital Wing. I seem to have a penchant for injury.” He stood up and met Draco’s glittering eyes. “And when I die, so will you. Convenient, don’t you think? If only I could hook old Voldemort up to one of these.” He held up his own bracelet-clad wrist. “One simple Avada Kedavra aimed at my own chest would end it all.” He walked back to the table and picked up his wand. “I’d even be willing to do it myself,” he added under his breath.
He turned back to Draco and shook his head as he saw his eyes darting to the door. “The house is warded to prevent you from leaving or sending messages - that goes for floo, owl or treacherous house elf. If you try, you’ll die a hideous and painful death. But don’t take my word for it.” Harry walked to the door and opened it. “Try it yourself.”
When Draco made no move toward the door, Harry clucked his tongue in false sympathy. He turned back to the hall and started climbing the stairs to his room.
Harry turned around. Draco stood in the threshold of the library, looking up at him. “What are you trying to accomplish here? Because I don’t care what you do, I will never willingly help or join you.”
Harry threw his head back and laughed. “Malfoy,” he said, once he could speak, “We wouldn’t have you if you were the last person on earth.” He turned and resumed his climb, leaving Draco disoriented, confused, and standing at the bottom of the stairwell.
The steady drone of the guide’s voice was gone when Harry surfaced from his memory. He took a deep breath and shook off the lingering unease. He knew Draco was behind him before the other man reached out and touched Harry’s arm.
“Traveling down memory lane?” Draco asked.
Harry nodded, still too affected to speak. The touch on his arm became a gentle caress. “It was a long time ago,” Draco reminded him. “And very little of it matters anymore.”
“I know,” Harry said, but his voice was skeptical.
Draco pulled on his arm. “Come on, you’re missing all the drama.”
Harry let Draco’s gentle humor ease his mind. “What now, pray tell?”
“Oh, the kitchen. Among other things, the esteemed Order of the Phoenix spilled their food on the very floor we'll be walking on.”
Harry laughed at Draco’s obvious irreverence. “Lead on.”
Harry pulled his hood closer around his face as they walked toward the kitchen, following the hum of the tour guide’s voice. Certainly, in these times, the chances of him being recognized in public were slim, but in this particular place, the danger was more prevalent.
And to be frank, Harry had no desire to explain to anyone why he was strolling through his old house some two hundred years after he had allegedly died. Or, he added to himself, why he looked no older than he had on the day Draco Malfoy had come to Grimmauld Place.