Author's Note: I'm sorry this chapter is so late! For some reason, I had trouble writing it!
Chapter 7: In Which Matches Are Played With
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Sitting alone in a room full of broken porcelain was not fun. In fact, it was downright depressing. Draco was surrounded on all sides; broken pottery was everywhere. After some trial and error, he'd even managed to wrench some of the more vocal Malfoy paintings off the wall and destroy their canvases (his Great Uncle Bartholomew was currently rooming with Great Aunts Beatrice and Ophelia).
'What's your problem, boy?'
Draco rolled his eyes and twisted to tell off whichever portrait had made it through his fury unscathed, and screamed. Behind him stood an immense stone gargoyle, hands on its hips.
'Your Great-Great-Great-Grandmother was made of sterner stuff than you,' the grotesque statue sneered. 'Didn't even blink.'
'My Great-Great-Great-Grandmother was insane!' Draco snapped in retaliation. 'She went around claiming to have talked…to…' Draco trailed off as a new kind of dread filled him.
'Claiming to have talked to one of the gargoyles that sat on the manor gates?' the statue suggested, raising a stone eyebrow.
'I'm going crazy,' Draco said flatly. 'Does this mean I'm not really in the future, and I don't really think Potter's hot?'
'Wrong, no and no,' the gargoyle said, heaving itself through the broken china and onto a slightly damaged, but hearty, chaise lounge. 'You are not crazy and neither was your Great-Great-Great Grandmother. I'll never get you wizards: you can fly around on brooms, but you refuse to believe a gargoyle could be talking to you.'
Draco blinked. 'Dumbledore's gargoyle didn't talk,' he said petulantly.
'Yes, well, Albus Dumbledore probably wasn't willing to use Dark magic to make it talk,' the gargoyle said, rolling his stone eyes and setting a horrific grating noise echoing about the room. 'Now, do you want to know why I'm here?'
'Will I be visited by three ghosts?' Draco asked warily. 'Are you here to show me how everyone else would be if I were dead?'
'You already know how they'd be if you were dead, Draco, or did the time you've been gone not occur to you? The only people who would miss you, were you to die today, are Potter and Pansy Wood.'
Draco perked up. 'Are you here to discourage me from pursuing Potter?' he asked eagerly.
'Wrong again,' replied the gargoyle. 'I'm here because you're destroying valuable heirlooms.'
'Oh,' Draco said, disappointed. 'Is that what my Great-Great-Great Grandmother did too?'
'No,' said the gargoyle. 'She got lost in the rose garden.'
Malfoy Manor had once been famous for its gardens, especially its rose beds. Draco could still remember his mother taking the wives of his father's 'associates' out back to show off. And, although the gardens currently resembled those of Sleeping Beauty's castle, Draco could also remember a certain statue sitting atop a certain fountain.
'You're from the centre of the Grand Fountain!' Draco cried accusingly. 'The one I was never allowed to go swimming in!'
'The one you shagged Blaise Zabini against?' the gargoyle suggested.
'Yes! That – oh, ew.'
'I'm glad we agree.' The gargoyle had surprisingly human mannerisms, Draco reflected as a stone hand reached down to brush a particle of imaginary dust from a stone chest. 'I'm Stone, by the by, and I've been listening in on your conversations for the past couple of days.'
'Stone?' Draco sniggered. 'Really?'
Draco took a moment to bask in the superior feeling the gargoyle's name gave him before turning back to the issue at hand. 'Listening in?'
'Yes. I was created to protect the Malfoy line, and as you seem to be the last Malfoy, I decided to wade in and let my two-pence be known.'
'It's an expression I picked up during the Order occupation of Malfoy Manor, Muggle I believe.'
Draco winkled his nose distastefully. 'Aren't you supposed to be a Malfoy? Shouldn't you avoid influences like that?'
'I said I protected Malfoy's, not that I was one. And really Draco, this coming from someone who spent his exile with American Muggles and even managed to pick up an accent.'
Strangely enough, Draco felt as though he were being scolded by his father. Not that his father had had time for scolding really; mostly he'd given Draco cold looks and had a house-elf take away his toys for a day. 'I didn't mean to,' Draco mumbled, looking down at the ground.
'I'm sure. Now, do you want my opinion?'
Draco shrugged. 'Sure, what do you think I should do?'
'Burn it down.'
Draco looked up sharply. 'What?'
'Burn down Malfoy Manor.'
Harry had waited for five hours the next morning, and Malfoy hadn't Flooed or Owled, or shown up at his front door and drunk all his cooking Sherry.
Now, he was sulking at The Burrow. Or, if not sulking, looking despondent and glaring at Ginny every time she tried to ask him about 'Hugh'.
'What do you think happened?' Hermione was whispering just a hair too loudly to not be overheard.
'They must have fought,' Ginny murmured back. Honestly! If they were going to talk about him as if he wasn't in the room, couldn't they be quiet about it?
'We didn't fight!' Harry called to the small group. 'Leave me alone!'
'All right, Harry?'
Harry jumped and glanced warily over his shoulder at Charlie. 'No,' he said petulantly. 'They think I had a fight with Hugh.'
'Hugh? The American with blue hair, yeah?'
'Yeah.' Harry sighed.
Charlie reached down and grabbed Harry's hand, pulling him out of his seat. 'Stop sulking,' the muscular redhead commanded. 'Let's go to Diagon Alley. You can drown your sorrows in Fizzy Whiz Pop while we walk around.'
Harry sighed, again, and reluctantly nodded his agreement. Better to spend the day out shopping with Charlie than to spend it sulking – not sulking, he told himself firmly, just… sitting – at The Burrow listening to Ginny, Hermione and Fleur gossip about his imaginary love life.
After pinching himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming about talking to gargoyles named Stone instead of Potter's mouth, Draco decided to do something he probably should have done around noon.
He Flooed Potter.
Who wasn't home.
'Fuck,' Draco said, running a hand through his blue hair. He'd promised to get in touch with Potter today, hadn't he? So shouldn't Potter have been someplace where he could get in touch with him? Of course! Draco smiled and turned back to the fireplace. To The Burrow it was then.
When Draco reached the shack, Harry wasn't there.
'He went to Diagon Alley with Charlie,' Granger informed him cordially. 'Did you have a row?'
'Not really,' Draco said distractedly. Potter, in London with Charlie Weasley...the man who had kissed him on New Years Eve? Well, fuck that. 'Can I borrow your fireplace?'
It was with a strange sense of déjà vu that Draco asked the question. Fortunately, Granger stood aside as he cast a handful of Floo powder into the grate and called out his destination.
Damned if he was going to let a Weasley have what was rightfully his.
'It's not a big deal or anything,' Harry said miserably, dragging his feet as he walked through the streets of Diagon Alley with Charlie. 'He just didn't Floo me or Owl me or anything.'
Harry wasn't the only miserable thing that day: it was pouring down rain. He actually had to question Charlie's sanity if he thought that walking in the wet cold would make Harry feel better, especially without an appropriate cloak on.
'That's too bad, Harry,' Charlie said, wrapping an arm around Harry's shoulders. 'Hey – there's a nice restaurant, do you want to get lunch?'
'Do you want to get lunch? It's raining and you must be soaked without a cloak on – the restaurant will be warm and dry.'
Warm and dry did sound pretty good, but Harry could be warm and dry and eating for free at The Burrow. 'No thanks, Charlie,' he said, pushing away from the other man. 'I think I'll just head back to The –'
'D – Hugh!' Harry exclaimed, turning to face the other – wet – man.
Malfoy hadn't bothered to put a robe on, and was dressed in a plain white shirt and black dress trousers. Well, with the rain the shirt wasn't white so much as it was see through. And clingy. And wet.
'H-hi,' Harry stuttered. 'How are you feeling?'
'I don't know Potter, how do you think I'm feeling? My father is dead, my house is a death trap, my silk shirt is ruined, and you're out here consorting with Charlie Weasley,' Malfoy snapped, turning away. 'Come find me when you're through with your date.'
'Date? What date?' Harry asked.
Malfoy stopped and turned, mouth open in indignation. 'How stupid do you think I am, Potter?' he cried, walking forward and shoving Harry. 'Well fuck you, you dick! Stay the Hell away from me and my manor!'
Harry stumbled back into Charlie and stood there for a food five minutes, shell-shocked.
By the time he had come to his senses, he was snug in Charlie's arms and Malfoy was out of sight.
'I'll burn it,' Draco growled, throwing his shirt to the ground. 'The whole thing.'
'Where's Potter?' Stone asked placidly, picking Draco's shirt up off the ground. 'Shouldn't you take all the stuff you need out of the manor before setting it one fire?'
'Potter's dead to me,' Draco growled. 'And who bloody cares about any of the shit in here? I'm going home.'
'Don't you 'Draco' me, Stone! I'm the human one here; you're just a remarkably life-like statue!'
'And how do you think I got this way?'
'That's right, I was human once too – a Malfoy,' Stone sneered. 'Your Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Uncle, as far as I can tell.'
Draco looked the gargoyle over. Other than the snarky personality, he could see no residue of anything Malfoy in Stone.
'You're Great-Great-Great...' he paused. 'My brother decided I was a blood traitor and bound my soul to the gargoyle which – at that point – sat atop the house. I live forever, but I'm stuck in the body of a gargoyle,' Stone shrugged. 'Until, that is, the manor is utterly destroyed.'
'Is that why you want me to burn it down? So that you'll be set free?'
'Well, yes,' the gargoyle said matter-of-factly. 'But I also think it will stop the spell.'
Draco sighed. 'Much as I'd enjoy setting something on fire right now, I haven't decoded all the symbols in the manor – how do I know that the charms won't just shut out the fire or that the fire won't make the spell worse?'
Stone shrugged again. 'You don't.'
Harry really was sulking this time. And all right, maybe he had been sulking last time too, but… well, but.
'Great,' he mumbled. 'Now he hates me.'
'It's all right, Harry,' Hermione soothed. 'Charlie will go over and explain everything to him. Where's he staying?'
'Staying?' Harry asked.
'Oh, is he living here, then? I suppose that makes more sense. Just tell me the address and I'll have Charlie pop over.'
'Oh,' Harry said, sitting up straight. 'No, that's all right, Hermione. I can do it myself.'
'Harry,' Hermione scolded. 'Really, you're in no condition to have another confrontation with Hugh.'
'Sure I am,' Harry said, almost frantically. 'We have to talk through out issues like mature adults so that we can come to a mutual understanding of our relationship and where it's headed.'
'It's the only way to make our relationship long-lasting and fulfilling!' Harry tried.
'Oh Harry!' Hermione exclaimed, throwing her arms around him. 'I knew you'd read that book on relationships eventually! Did you like it? Obviously it has helped you.'
Relationship book? Harry thought. What relationship book?
Hermione was happy though, and it looked like she was going to let him go, so it probably didn't matter. He needed to talk to Malfoy; the man had looked like he had been prepared to do something drastic.
'So… can I go now?' Harry asked cautiously.
'Yes,' Hermione beamed. 'Remember Chapter Six!'
Wondering if chapter six of whatever book Hermione had, apparently, given him would be of any relevance, even if he had read it, Harry Flooed to his apartment, and from there to Malfoy Manor.
Draco was cleaning out his mother's jewellery when he heard footsteps come up behind him.
'Not now, Stone,' he said irritably. 'I'm cleaning out my mum's dressers.'
'Oh,' Potter said. 'Who's Stone?'
Draco turned and glared at Potter. 'What are you doing here, Potter?'
'I came here to apologise and to tell you there's nothing going on between me and Charlie,' Harry explained softly.
'Why would I care, Potter?' Draco asked, pulling a box of silk scarves from beneath an elegant wardrobe.
'I'm not sure, but I thought I should make that clear anyway,' he paused. 'What happened to the clothes you were wearing in Diagon Alley?'
'They were wet, ruined, and I didn't want to catch a cold. I'm heading back to my own time now, after all,' Draco answered snidely.
'You are?' Harry asked, surprised. 'Can I come too?'
'I expect you'll be pulled back when I break the spell,' Draco said reluctantly. 'Have fun with the rest of your life.'
'Er,' Harry said. 'You too, I guess.'
'Of course,' Draco said. 'Goodbye.' With that, Draco turned his back to Harry, flicking his wand to levitate all the clothing and jewellery he'd taken from his mum's rooms.
'Are you taking all that back with you, then?' Harry asked, pointedly ignoring Draco's hint and following him out of the room. 'Want some help breaking the spell or anything?'
'I can light a fire by myself, Potter,' Draco snapped. 'Go home and wait to be transported back to your own time.'
'Light a fire? Why are you lighting a fire?'
'I'm burning down the manor, if you must know,' Draco replied. 'Now shoo, I've still got my rooms to clean out.'
'I can't help?'
'No.' Draco left the room.
In hindsight, giving Malfoy a head start probably hadn't been that good an idea.
Leaning on the gargoyle standing mysteriously in the hallway also turned out to be a bad decision.
'I say!' the gargoyle exclaimed. 'Watch where you put your hands, Potter!'
Harry leapt back from the statue, whipping his hands around behind his back. 'I didn't mean to!'
'I should hope not,' the gargoyle said, wiping imaginary particles of dust from its chest.
Harry blushed. 'I, um…'
'Stone?' Malfoy called, coming around the corner. 'Who are you – oh.'
'This young man just tried to feel me up,' the gargoyle – Stone – said, pointing n accusing finger at Harry. 'Shall I leave you to deal with him?'
'He was supposed to be gone already,' said Malfoy, glaring at Harry. 'Go away, Potter, I don't need your help.'
'Are you sure you should burn down the manor?' Harry asked, following behind Malfoy when he turned and walked away. 'I don't see the logic behind it.'
'Well, I hate this house,' Malfoy sneered. 'And Stone told me to.'
'Do you often listen to statuary? Because there was this one chatty little figurine in the trophy room at Hogwarts that was always saying…'
Harry shut his mouth and continued to trail meekly after Malfoy, albeit silently this time.
'Stone is my relative, a Great-Great-Uncle to the power of ten or something. It's quite confusing.'
'I'll say,' Harry agreed. 'You're related to a gargoyle? You don't look like it.'
'His soul is trapped within the gargoyle, you idiot!' Harry could practically hear Malfoy's eyes rolling.
'Oh. Well, how does that make him an authority on what to do here?'
'Well, he would have seen the Death Eaters cast their spell.'
'I… fuck. And he thinks we should burn down the manor?'
'No,' Draco said, shaking his head. 'He thinks I should burn down the manor.'
Men and gargoyle stood outside Malfoy Manor, piles of riches surrounding them.
'This can't be everything,' Potter said dubiously, eyes scanning the relatively small pile of stuff. 'I mean, there has to be more.'
'The Ministry cleaned out a lot of it,' Draco explained. 'Plus my parents had a lot of the heirlooms and more expensive things put into Gringotts shortly after the war started. The Goblins don't care about Wizard politics, to them a vault is a vault, and unless you have the key you're not getting in.'
Potter nodded, casting a furtive look back at the manor. 'You're just going to…burn it? It's your childhood home.'
'And what a delightful childhood it was.' Draco sighed. 'Potter, I live in America now, I've even got the accent to prove it. There's no point in me keeping this big old house empty and alone when I'm perfectly happy with my life overseas and have no plans of ever returning here.'
'Oh,' Potter said. 'What about the land?'
'I'll sell it, I suppose,' Draco said, shrugging. 'It'll probably be worth more on the Muggle market anyway so getting rid of the manor is a good decision.'
'Are you sure?' Potter asked rather desperately. 'What if you want to come back to England in the future? Where will you stay?'
'With Pansy, I suppose,' Draco answered. 'Or in a hotel. If I'm desperate I'll let you know, all right?'
Potter bit his lip and nodded. 'But…what if this doesn't work?'
'You'll have a live-in boyfriend.'
'But the library – all the books you have? The dining room itself! If the fire destroys it, but doesn't break the spell, what will we do?'
'We'll get on with our lives,' Draco said firmly. 'I'll go back to New York, and you'll read as many Transfiguration books as you can. It's a chance we're both going to have to take.'
'Well,' Potter snapped. 'Thanks for asking me about taking said chance before deciding to go through with it!'
'I tried telling you about it!' Draco sneered. 'You were in the middle of a date!'
'I was not!' Potter protested. 'Fine!'
'Fine, light your house on fire!' Potter spat. 'See if I care!'
'Incendio,' Draco said calmly, pointing his wand at a manor wall.