Disclaimer: The characters and settings portrayed herein belong to J. K. Rowling and her associates. I don't own them, and I am not profiting from this story.
Title: Learning Life Over
Summary: Harry was a workaholic Auror, and happy that way. He did not ask Malfoy to kidnap him and teach him the finer points of pleasure.
Warnings: SPOILERS for HBP, sexual content, adult language, minor violence. Also, a lot of this is unabashed hurt/comfort, so you will probably want to go elsewhere if you don't like reading that.
Chapter 1—No Holiday In Sight
"Have a good night, Potter."
Harry grunted a goodbye to Wormwood as the other Auror, his new temporary partner, left. He could practically feel the shaking head, though he didn't look up to see it. Wormwood had only worked with Harry for three weeks. He wasn't used to Harry's dedication yet, something he would have heard stories of but never seen.
Harry shrugged as he finished the report on the questioning of Robert Dashwood, a former Death Eater who had never advanced very far in the ranks when Voldemort was actually alive, but had gone on to bigger—and worse—crimes once his master was dead. It wasn't his fault, was it, that he had more time to devote to chasing and capturing Dark wizards? Other Aurors had what they called lives. So did Harry, although the others insisted he didn't. His life was his work.
It might have been different, once, but things hadn't worked out that way. Harry simply didn't have anyone left. The anniversary of the Weasley Massacre that had destroyed the Burrow and everyone whom he loved was the only day he left work so much as an hour early, and that was mostly because he wasn't fit company for anyone. He spent the extra hour walking back to his flat and staring at everything red he could find. It reminded him of Weasley hair, and Ginny, and Ron, and, by this point, even of the non-Weasleys who had died in the Massacre—Hermione, Remus, Fleur. It was the only connection he allowed himself.
He'd gone on from it. He'd gathered up all the hatred and the rage from that one terrible night, and thrown himself into the quest for the Horcruxes. He'd found them and destroyed Voldemort inside a month. At the time, he hadn't believed that he'd have anything left to live for.
But he had discovered a grim satisfaction when it was done. Not the killing—Harry still didn't like that—but in knowing that Voldemort was dead and couldn't hurt anyone else. He wanted more of that, the knowledge that he was bringing cases to a close and that the former Death Eaters, or people who had dared to cross the line to rape and murder and use of Dark Arts for other reasons, were no longer free to harm the innocent. So he'd become an Auror.
The years since then were a quiet twilight, lit now and then with bright flares when he finished a particularly difficult case, or was able to tell a victim or a victim's family that they didn't have to worry any longer. His life was a flood of statistics, names, personality traits, ambush locations, learned when need be and then forgotten as new ones came along to replace them. He actually liked it best when the captures were routine and his enemies didn't have a chance to struggle. Intense emotion wasn't something he appreciated that much.
They did keep assigning him new partners, but that was because most Aurors who wanted to work with Harry did it out of hero-worship. When they found themselves greeted with calm indifference and no friendship no matter how long they persisted, they eventually gave up. The Ministry really didn't mind. Harry had no ambition outside of chasing Dark wizards, and giving him new partners regularly was a small price to pay compared to what the Hero of the Wizarding World could have demanded from them.
Harry knew that. He didn't care. Why should he? It wasn't something to be outraged about, and he certainly had no one to be outraged on his behalf.
He continued working until the clock built into his desk chimed softly, signaling that it was eleven-o'clock. Harry rose to his feet with a faint smile. The clock was a gift from another of his departed partners, Felix Jones, when he found Harry asleep at his desk for the fourth night in a row. This at least insured that Harry went to his flat and got a certain amount of sleep in his own bed. Harry appreciated it. If he didn't sleep, then he wouldn't be at his best when the moment came to make the capture.
He made his way silently out of the just-as-silent building, nodding familiarly to those few people who prowled the Ministry at this hour. Barrow, an Auror whose horribly twisted leg had kept him out of the field for over a year now, had corridor duty from ten until two, and he was waiting by the lifts when Harry arrived.
"Finished the Dashwood case, then?" he demanded.
Harry smiled. Since Barrow couldn't fight again, he seemed to be living vicariously through the cases Harry solved. Harry didn't mind. He would have done much the same thing if he'd suffered a curse the Healers couldn't find a cure for—that is, if he didn't kill himself first.
"Yes. We couldn't use Veritaserum legally, of course, since he refused it, but he finally slipped up and mentioned a detail about the Bressbaums' window that no one could have known who wasn't there." Harry felt another flash of that firework satisfaction as he thought of it. He had been the one to trap Dashwood in the interrogation and finally make him break and confess his crime.
Barrow actually rubbed his hands together, blue eyes bright with glee. "And it was the famous Harry Potter dead-face that did it, wasn't it?"
"Maybe." Harry suspected that his countless calm repetitions of the same questions—never losing his temper, never varying his expression—had probably helped to crack Dashwood's stubborn protestations of innocence, but he had never given as much credit to that as other people seemed to. They attributed any criminal's confession to it, even when Harry's partner had done most of the work.
"Sleep well, Potter," said Barrow, with a sharp nod. "The sleep of the just." He stepped out of the way as the lift doors opened.
Harry murmured his thanks and rode the lift down. His mind whirled with names and facts concerning the upcoming Moly case. Aholibah Moly had served six months in Azkaban for participation in a Death Eater raid and been released, but now she was the main suspect for a use of illegal pain curses that had left the poor woman involved nearly as mad as the Longbottoms. Harry didn't yet know enough about the case to say whether he thought Moly guilty or not. But he and Wormwood would track her down tomorrow and see what she had to tell them.
He reached the Atrium and walked through it, sparing a few glances for the fountain in the center. He could remember the battle that Dumbledore and Voldemort had waged in front of it, if he wanted to. He didn't want to, really. It was years ago, and most of the participants in it were dead.
He rode the lift up to the deserted phone box in the equally deserted alley that concealed the entrance to the Ministry, hiding a yawn now and then. He'd make sure to eat when he returned to his flat, a sandwich or so, and then sleep the seven hours he always did before he could rise and return to work. Harry supposed he would need to slow down eventually—seven hours of sleep a night might be enough for a man of twenty-eight, but he would grow older—but that hadn't happened yet.
He felt a long moment of quiet contentment as he stepped out of the phone box and stared up at the stars. Maybe this wasn't what he'd envisioned doing or being years ago, but he liked his life. Helping people suited him.
Just as he drew his wand and prepared to Apparate, he heard footsteps behind him. Harry turned calmly. He was sure he was more magically powerful than whoever it was, and besides, most Death Eaters wouldn't just stroll up to an Auror.
"Lumos," he did say, when the figure drew near and Harry realized he didn't recognize the posture or the gait. He raised an eyebrow when the light caught on the gleam of blond hair. But, well, why not? Draco Malfoy was as likely to be waiting outside the Ministry as doing anything else, these days. He'd received a full pardon from the Wizengamot after the War, since he'd been coerced into letting Death Eaters into Hogwarts and had spent every moment after that night on the Tower lying low, committing no crime.
Harry hadn't kept up with news of him. What did grudges matter any more? And Malfoy's crimes had been petty compared to so many of those he dealt with daily.
"What can I do for you, Malfoy?" he asked, when he realized Malfoy had stopped walking, and the intent stare said that he'd come to talk to Harry and no one else.
"Potter," Malfoy breathed. "Just the man I wanted to see."
Harry felt a stirring of interest. There were usually only two reasons that people sought him out now, and he doubted Malfoy was one of the few still deluded enough to think he was something special and want a signature or photograph. "Do you have information about a case for me?"
For a moment, rage passed across Malfoy's face. Harry was a bit startled, given his calmness until this point, but sometimes victims were frozen and numb until the first mention of what had happened to them. He prepared himself to listen and make the proper sympathetic noises.
But then the rage vanished, and Malfoy murmured, "Hardly. I've come to give you your life back, Potter."
Harry's puzzlement increased. "Is this a prank?" he asked, honestly bewildered as to why Malfoy would want to play one on him. "Because you should know that I probably won't react the way you want me to—"
Malfoy abruptly lunged forward. Harry tried to get his wand in the way on instinct; he still didn't really think Malfoy had come to hurt him. But he'd let it lower when he recognized the other wizard, and he couldn't get it up in time before Malfoy's spell struck him.
Harry's eyes crossed, and he felt his body go limp, his grip on his wand relaxing. His mind raced, though, as he tried to figure who had put Malfoy up to this, and what they could possibly have to gain.
Revenge from an enemy? It could be, but Harry mostly didn't leave his enemies free. Or perhaps Malfoy had a tie to one of the cases Harry was currently investigating, and didn't want him to find out something crucial, although why he would be hanging around the Ministry of all places—
Malfoy caught him before he could hit the ground, and fumbled in his pocket for a moment. Then Harry felt the familiar tug of a Portkey.
His main emotion as they both vanished was annoyance. If Malfoy insisted on abducting him, Harry would definitely not make it to work on time tomorrow.