AN: My dearest followers, I was going to take a mental break from writing for at least 3 weeks while making my new flat a home, and settling in. But then this happened. I don't know how. I don't know why, it just started pouring out of me... So here is the first chapter of this new piece, a pairing I've only done once before, and only in a role play situation. The format is a deviation from my usual as well, which is odd, but it wants to be written like this so I am letting it be that way. I hope you like it, it's just an opening to a bigger picture and a development of a relationship that has been considered by many authors before. But still, I would truly be grateful for feedback, to know whether you would like some more. Happy reading!
The sun was just peeking over the horizon, the sounds of waking London reaching Harry's ears but he knew they had nothing to do with him at least for a few short blissful hours. He took off the watch from his wrist, noticing it was already 7 and he had to be back at work at 2 for an afternoon shift. Being the best of the group had its drawbacks, and one of them was being everywhere first and leaving last every time. While most of his colleagues were already in bed and dreaming happily, Harry made himself a cup of tea and stripped his sweaty shirt before opening the paper to skim the headlines.
POTTER'S RISE THROUGH THE RANKS CONTINUES!
He rolled his eyes at that one. Of course it was difficult at first, deciding what to do with himself after the war. They finished their NEWTs the summer after the battle and graduated at a special ceremony that September with the rest of their classmates who were grateful to have the summer months to catch up on all that was lost to them under the Death Eater regime at Hogwarts. It was then that the venues opened up, the offers started to come and Harry was drowning. He needed peace to mourn, and rest. He needed to breathe for a while. And he tried. He did that for a week, and while the first few days spent in sleep and with a book were nice, something was wrong. Something was missing.
He helped Hermione and Ron as much as he could, trying to be there for his friends who lost just as much as he did during the war, but it was difficult to watch the Weasleys grieve Arthur, Fred and Ginny. For a few days his mind was filled with 'what ifs' of his possible life with Ginny, but he soon realised it would have come to nought anyway. He had loved Ginny once perhaps, but looking back at their relationship after the war offered a new perspective and Harry knew he was nowhere near ready to be with anyone but himself for a while.
It was like a rebirth. Sitting in his dusty bedroom at Grimmauld place, Harry felt the need to do something. To no longer live in fear or the past, to move on from everything. And that meant leaving behind the little of his heritage that he had. Oh no, one doesn't forget where they come from, but Harry felt the need to escape the walls that reminded him of too many things. And so he did. The Black residence and inheritance were signed over to Teddy, whom he visited in many a free moment, Andromeda glad to have the help in looking after him as she was a woman of many years after all. His Potter inheritance was more than enough to afford him anything he wanted, and he knew Andromeda welcomed the funds as a Black.
When you have only a broom and a few knickknacks and books to your person, it is easy to start over. The first was getting a comfortable three bedroom flat in Soho. It cost a pretty penny in muggle money but his galleons remained plentiful enough to make the empty space into a home. For two weeks Harry painted, cleaned, lifted heavy furniture and shopped at the strangest places of muggle and magical London for those things that would bring him comfort. And once he was finished, all he did was sit on the sheep skin in front of the fireplace and took in his surroundings. His home now. The home of the man he was becoming.
Lifting himself out of his musings, Harry looked around and smiled. He was still here, in the same flat, two years later and barely anything had changed. Well, apart from the new teapot because he dropped the last one about a month ago, and the amount of clothing in his wardrobe maybe... Even the photos of his friends remained on the wall above the fireplace, despite the changes over the years. Which brought him to the second major headline and the ugly moving photograph of Harry's magic nearly getting the better of him in a fight with Ron in a very public place.
POTTER-WEASLEY FIGHT IN THE GOLDEN ROSE, A FINAL END TO FRIENDSHIP?
After their NEWTs and a bit of rest, Harry knew there was much to be done still. Last escaped Death Eaters, rise in crime rates and robberies... he contemplated many paths, even just packing up his things and getting the hell out of Britain. He didn't owe anyone anything after all. His mission was done, purpose served. But at the same time, the idea of a peaceful life filled him with dread. Years of running, always being active, always leaving his senses and magic open to threats had left their mark and Harry knew he would have no peace unless he chose a career that was active. And why not make it one where he could help the community heal?
The positions for Auror training were open until mid October and Harry signed himself up readily a couple of weeks after he received his NEWTs certificate. He had even been offered the position of an Auror without any training, but flatly refused to accept a position he did not earn. He wanted to excel and succeed because he could and knew how to. Not because it was offered to him. That was however when the first difficulties in his relationship with Ron and Hermione arose. Ron had taken time to mourn with his family and did not apply in time. It was November when he attempted but was declined, and told to sign up in May for the summer training. Of course he was impatient and asked Harry to speak up for him to get him a late admission. And Harry did something he had never done before, he refused his friend this favour.
It was out of good intentions. Ron and Hermione needed time to rest and build up their relationship which started fully in May once the war was over. It was still a fragile union and Harry wanted them to be happy. Hermione was tired of staying at the Burrow and wanted to find a place of their own, start her own career, but Ron was stubborn. He wanted to be an Auror, and he wanted to be one NOW. They argued and went through times of silent treatment but Hermione managed to pull them together for Christmas and everything was alright for a while. That was until Harry revealed that he'd given away Grimmauld place and had his own flat.
Hermione seemed happy for him to start his own life and Harry invited them over. At first all was fine and well, but soon it became apparent that the little green monster would never quite leave Ron alone. And Harry never understood why. Ron had all he could ask for. A family, a beautiful girlfriend, and the skills to become accomplished and live more than comfortably. Instead he was jealous of Harry for spending his money and not being ashamed of who he was becoming.
The rows began anew and this time there was no stopping them. Their relationship would never again be what it once was, and Harry knew that. The breaking point came last summer when Hermione accepted a position in France at the Department of International Relations and left Ron. It was clear he was becoming someone she was not happy with and while Harry was sad to see them growing apart, he did not blame her. They would sometimes exchange a letter or a postcard, the last one arriving just a few days ago for the anniversary of war. Harry could see Hermione was a bit lonely in Paris from her words and firecalled her. They spent the evening together, talking through the flames and drinking in honour of the fallen. They were different people from who they once were, but still knew to rely on each other in hour of need.
Ron however, that was a different story completely. He drowned in self-pity and anger, pushing them all away for months as he vented his frustrations around pubs and clubs. Harry even had to arrest him once when he got into a drunken fight and knew this was definitely the end of Ron's future as an Auror. The article before him detailed their latest and most likely last fight, as Harry finally had enough. He had been the one to reach out to Ron to meet him at the Goldren Rose for dinner, to talk as a friends and see if there was anything the redhead needed helping with. Not only did Ron behave like an utter prat but started blaming Harry for his choices and failing until the row escalated. It seemed Ron had a problem with everything about Harry. His job, his enjoyments in life, his appearance, maybe even his very presence. So after Harry managed to get his magic under wraps, he simply told Ron they were done and took himself out of his presence. The night shift he attended afterwards was fun as word traveled fast, but he survived and hoped it would be soon forgotten with the rest of the cheap gossip in the Prophet.
That was when his gaze fell to the last headline.
MALFOY INDUSTRIES SOLD FOR 10 MILLION GALLEONS
Harry skimmed the article quickly as he sipped on the last of his cooling tea, his eyes pausing on a photograph of his ex-rival. Draco looked a little pointy as always, but there was an aura about him now, something he once saw in Lucius when he was at the pinnacle of power. It must be a Malfoy thing, he mused. Surprisingly he felt little resentment towards the blond. It was clear that Draco wanted a new life for himself just as much as Harry did, and appparently for him it meant getting rid of Malfoy Industries. Perhaps it was logical, considering Draco was pursuing a career as a lawyer, working with the Department of Law Enforcement on reviewing cases and pushing for prosecution on the more dangerous of the criminals. He was to finish his studies in a couple of weeks just as Harry, or so he heard from the rumours around the department.
He only saw Malfoy around a few times, but was either in a hurry out, or they simply nodded to each other without a word exchanged across the room in a briefing. They would most likely end up working on cases together in the near future, but Harry didn't give it much thought yet. They were no longer the boys from Hogwarts on the opposite sides of the battlefield, and he could only hope the blond would be civil if they had to establish a work relationship.
He finished leafing through the paper and sent it into the fireplace where he would burn it later over the wood. He checked his watch again.
He stripped and took a quick shower before crawling between the sheets of his large bed. Five hours of sleep will have to do...
"Uncle Ryry!" Teddy pointed to the young man and hurried towards him on his short legs.
"Hey there squirt." Harry smiled and bent down, picking him up and spinning him around in the security of his arms, much to the boy's joy.
Andromeda smiled and kissed both their cheeks. "Are you sure you have the whole afternoon off?" she asked, knowing Harry's schedule could sometimes be precarious.
"Yes, don't worry. We are done with the final tests and training, and they gave us the day off before the ceremony tomorrow. I would have come sooner but I had to do the food shopping in the morning." he explained sheepishly.
"The ceremony is tomorrow already?" Andromeda asked, her smile turning nostalgic. "I remember my Dora getting her badge and robes. It was a beautiful day, and we were so proud, Ted and I.." she said softly.
Harry nodded in respect of her memories. "This year it's a little different. Four of us are forming a new team, something like the hit men. We go in for the most dangerous cases. Our ceremony will be a part of the usual but we receive a badge and a second wand instead." he explained, looking down at the boy who was still hugging him close. "Will you come?" he asked softly, not sure if Andromeda would deem it a good idea.
The regal woman, one that had almost become a grandmother to him as well over the past years, looked at him and nodded with a smile. "Yes, we'll be in attendance if you wish it of us."
"It would make it more bearable." he offered just to hear her chuckle. "What do you think, Teddybear? Will you come see uncle Ryry tomorrow at work? With the Aurors, and Kingsley, and yummy food?" he asked the boy in his arms, tickling his side.
"YEEEAH!" Teddy giggled and wiggled to get down.
So Harry let him and watched the boy run around his legs happily. "It's settled then. I'll pick you both up tomorrow morning at 10 and we can go together." he suggested.
"That gives me plenty of time to get myself something appropriate to wear." she mused and pecked his cheek once more, ready to leave when Harry stopped her and handed her a golden card. "What is this?"
"A card, from Gringotts. It's connected to my account, and I trust you to have it and use it when you or Teddy need anything." he said, shaking his head when she attempted to hand it back. "No, please. I had it especially made for you. Teddy may have the Black inheritance but this is the least I can do until he can use it." he insisted and Andromeda finally ceased her protestations and put it into her handbag.
She patted his cheek silently and was on her way, glad to have the afternoon off. Harry watched her go before picking Teddy up again and heading for the toys.
Harry looked around the small family crowd gathered for them and noticed just how small it actually was. They started out as a group of twenty-five trainees for the Auror department alone. Now there was only ten of them, six for regular service and four special hit wizards. Harry was one of them, graduating with highest honours as a team leader. Receiving honors and certificates were also two new researchers for their team, and Draco Malfoy as the new legal liaison.
"Yum yum!" Teddy pointed and Harry chuckled, handing him back over to Andromeda as he went to get them all something to drink.
He himself rarely drank any alcohol, therefore picked some water for Andromeda and juice for Teddy and himself.
"Potter." he heard from the left and turned to look at the person beside him, even though he already knew who it was. That voice was unforgettable even after all the time he did not hear it.
"Malfoy." he replied just as evenly, thinking that the acknowledgment would be the end of their interaction. How he was wrong.
"I am not surprised to see you here today." Draco drawled lightly as he tried to choose between the bad wine and the even worse one. No, he would have to go for water.
"I am surprised you did." Harry said before he could stop himself but then turned a bit more to look at the blond and explain. "I mean I thought you'd want to start over somewhere like France, or elsewhere."
Draco's shoulders released an almost imperceptible amount of tension. Almost imperceptible, as Harry picked up on it with his senses and observation skills immediately. He had always been very much aware of body language. Ever since Uncle Vernon first hit him, it was means to understanding when to cover himself from an impending blow. And it seemed he was right to have explained his words because Malfoy nodded and reached for his glass again.
"You won't be that easily rid of me, Potter. You know very well that I live to remind you that you are not the center of the universe." Malfoy responded with a smirk, but there was no hostility this time. Merlin forbid but it looked like...no, Malfoy really was teasing him.
He shook himself mentally and turned away from the table. "I doubt I'd have missed it, but maybe I can bear with it a while longer." was all he said before heading back to his family support.
Honors, badges, and certificates were received, and they all remained a little while to celebrate. Teddy fell asleep on Harry's shoulder and he placed him back into the stroller, making sure the little boy was very much comfortable. "Thank you for coming." he pecked Andromeda's cheek and waved as she left to make lunch for her grandson.
He was just enjoying a discussion with Kingsley on new techniques they could use for gaining information and training when a large silver fox jumped into the room, shimmering as it sat down and opened its mouth to let the message out.
Wanted dead or alive, Rodolphus Lestrange spotted in the Forest of Dean, river bank on 14th mile..
Harry was already stripping his official robe, revealing the soft fighting dragon leather beneath. His other three team mates were already at his heel before Kingsley even gave the order.
"I want him alive, Auror Potter." Kingsley ordered firmly.
"Yes, minister." Harry replied and offered his arm to his team mates for side along as he lifted his wand high in the air, disappearing in a blink of an eye.