Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter
I've got a new story up for anyone that's interested. It's a Harry Potter/Vampire Diaries crossover with a (Fem)HP/Klaus pairing. I've been reading nothing but Klaus/OC fanfiction for the last month and a half and had so many ideas that I simply had to write one myself. ;D
Bellows of laughter had Lily looking up from the sink full of dishes she was washing to glance out the charming little window directly in front of her.
She smiled at the scene.
James and Sirius, overcome with hilarity, were holding onto each other in a fruitless effort to keep themselves upright, while her son, now sporting two tentacles for arms had nothing but bright pink bubbles escaping his mouth every time he opened it to demand that they change him back.
"Don't you think they should be treating this more seriously?" Remus asked from beside her, his brow crinkled with concern as he dried the dishes.
She sighed heavily, her eyes, almost against their will, flicking down to read the exposed front cover of the Daily Prophet lying folded on the bench beside her.
'Not Enough Fame for the Boy Who Lived!-He Wants More!'
"What am I supposed to do, Remus?" She asked quietly, her eyes roaming the black and white photograph of her son.
On a three second repeat clip, it showed Landon stumbling away from the reporters with a panicked look on his face, taking down at least four of the people around him in his haste to escape.
"None of us were expecting this reaction when we came out and said that he'd returned. I worry about him, all the time." Lily looked up into sympathetic grey eyes. "Landon loves being the centre of attention, he's always adored the spotlight and though that might not always be a good thing it has meant that, thankfully, that aspect of his fame never intimidated him." She looked down into the water. "He's never been afraid to see the paper before...this smear campaign is taking its toll, on all of us."
"He's resilient Lily, and Voldemort won't keep silent forever." Remus encouraged with a small hopeful tone.
A bitter smile twisted her lips, "To think that it's come to that...that we are hoping the Dark Lord will attack innocent people. That that is something we wish for..." She shook her head and grabbed a slippery glass from the soapy water, wiping at the rim with a sponge.
"He needs to be trained though," Remus stated seriously giving a pointed look to the debacle outside that was supposed to have been a lesson in combat.
"I'm just relieved that he's still laughing," Lily shrugged. "Truthfully, I don't know how he always seems able to look on the bright side of things. He gets the unfailingly positive attitude from his Father, I guess."
The werewolf frowned at the beautiful red-headed woman beside him, his enhanced eyesight able to pick up the dark smudges underneath her eyes even through the copious amount of makeup she was using to hide them.
He bit back the instinct to ask if she was okay, knowing how ridiculous it would sound. None of them were okay, least of all the mother of Landon Potter. But he couldn't help feeling that the stress so apparent in her face was something more than the already trying circumstances they were living under.
Lily had been acting withdrawn and introspective for weeks now, and for the life of him he couldn't remember if her behaviour had come on gradually or if it was triggered by something in particular.
Not liking the shadows in her emerald eyes that betrayed far away thoughts, Remus deliberately cleared his throat, "Perhaps you're right," He nodded to the scene outside in explanation when all she shot him was a look of confusion. Her thoughts must indeed have been far away. "I don't like the way Landon now shy's away from the media."
She laughed lightly and nudged his side with a playful elbow, "I thought that you'd be pleased. For years you've been saying that he enjoys his fame too much."
He shook his head sadly, "Not like this."
Lily hummed in agreement but she wasn't really thinking on his reply.
A question had been flittering about her head for the last half hour now, ever since Remus and she had been left alone to clean up from lunch. She desperately wanted to ask but she didn't know how she could adequately explain away her interest so it wouldn't look suspicious.
Her eyes darted outside and she bit her lip in indecision. She wouldn't get another chance like this. The times that she was alone with Remus for long enough periods where they wouldn't be overheard were few and far between.
Decision made, Lily drew in a deep breath and made sure all expression but mild interest was gone from on her features. "Are the Goblins giving you any information concerning the vaults of Azkaban's escapees, Remus?" She asked lightly.
Grey eyes immediately swung around to pierce her, "...I wasn't aware that you knew I was a part of that team."
Lily let amused exasperation fill her eyes as she tilted her head at the man beside her, "Don't be so stuffy, Remus. I simply overheard Blake at the last Order meeting mention that you and a few others were attempting to convince Gringotts to supply you with information on any movements within the vaults of convicted Death Eaters."
"Overheard?" Remus repeated with disbelief. "Blake's an auror, I doubt he's going around discussing confidential Order assignments to the person beside him as casual conversation."
She rolled her eyes and shrugged, "Fine, he had a tiny little privacy ward up. I was curious." She defended with a charming smile.
Lily watched with guilt as Remus's walls fell and he smiled at her before nodding. She always had been a superb liar.
The werewolf sighed heavily turning around so that he was resting against the counter, his back to the window. "The Goblins aren't budging. They refuse to surrender their neutrality and I got the impression that even if they were willing it wouldn't necessarily be our side that would gain their ultimate support."
Worry and dread started squeezing that knot that seemed to have taken up permanent residence in her stomach a few months ago, tightening to the point that Lily had to physically press a balled fist against her belly in an effort to somehow relieve the tension.
"So you've gathered no intelligence? None?" Her voice was flat, emotionless as she stared out the window.
Remus shook his head not noticing the change in his friend's wife, too lost in his own musings. "Bill, before he, … well, he was a favourite among the Goblins and off the record, a few of them would pass information to him which he then passed on to us."
Lily bit her lip hard.
She had absolutely no right to be angry at Remus' lack of progress but that didn't stop the feeling, or the fact that Lily had to forcibly press her lips together in order to suppress the stinging rebuke on the tip of her tongue.
"They're getting their money in and out easily enough, we know that for sure. Most of them are paying for everything with cash which I can only assume is so we can't track them through their purchases."
"Most of them…" Lily repeated slowly, frowning as she looked out the kitchen window. "So…?"
Remus nodded with a smile. "You always have been quick, Lily." He complimented with a wry grin.
She could find no humour in the comment though. The scene playing outside her window had captured her completely. Her son and husband were laughing together, grinning widely at each other as the elder threw his arm over his progeny's shoulders in loving camaraderie.
Since the minute she'd read about the breakout there wasn't a moment that had gone by that Lily wasn't scared. Not a second's worth of reprieve. She was terrified…all the time. It was an awful way to live but God, she couldn't help it.
A barking, tail wagging Sirius casually bumped into Landon, knocking the teenager to the ground before sitting back on his haunches with a smug look.
She didn't want to lose this.
James…Landon…they could never know.
He could never know.
She spent every second of everyday dreading the possibility. It petrified her.
"It's not much, but we've got people watching the tavern in Knockturn Alley which, it would seem, is a favourite haunt for Death Eaters."
"We knew that already." Lily breathed out with bitter, angry disappointment.
She hadn't expected him to make so careless a mistake, but she'd hoped.
White, delicate hands curled tightly around the rim of the old fashioned sink and she leant forward until the joints in her shoulders, elbows and wrists were bearing all of her slight weight.
There was always the chance that Azkaban had damaged that darkly formidable mind. She'd hoped, prayed, that it might be so.
To be so lucky? For him to somehow, in someway be caught by the authorities? For this suffocating dread to lift from her shoulders, safe in the knowledge that he was behind bars? That he wouldn't find out? That he couldn't find out?
Good God, she hoped.
It was rhythmical. That click. Dependable. Never a millisecond late. It was there every time his heel connected with the bank's floor. With every swift step he took towards the exit. That unique sound of plain black boots hitting polished marble seemed to echo and reverberate through his mind like a drum.
It wasn't often that he was caught unawares.
When he'd rushed headlong into a handsome elderly lady in the middle of his wood outside Blackbourne orphanage and she'd turned around and adopted him, he'd been amazed. When he realised that he trusted Gabriel, Demetri, Julian, Astrid and even Marionette to keep his secrets, he'd been shaken. And when he'd landed in the middle of a room filled with Death Eaters, a tortured Mr Shields brought along for the ride, only to feel that magic and look into dark crimson eyes, he hadn't known how to react.
But Sweet Darkness...this was different.
Rudolphos Le'strange and Lily Potter...his parents.
It didn't seem real.
How was it even possible?! If he had been asked to pick an unlikelier pair he'd be hard pressed to name one.
Hadrian swept out of the grand double door exit and breathed in deeply.
The icy air was welcoming as it hit his lungs, the cold bite to his skin grounding him.
Without really seeing the platinum blonde, some subconscious control, nevertheless, had him verbalising a sharp, short command to follow as he strode past. It was a strange feeling. Some part of him knew exactly where he was going, but at the same time was so preoccupied that he hadn't an inkling.
His thoughts wouldn't leave him alone. Against his will, the tumult of questions that been too frozen by shock before began to fly through his mind, refusing to be silenced.
Why had they given him away?!
Whatcould possibly have motivated them to drop him off at a Muggle orphanage of all places?!
How had it ever even happened?!
The shouts and squeals of laughter around him seemed dim and remote, as if underwater. His body weaving swiftly through the overwhelming crowd of the Alley without any conscious direction, Malfoy heir at his side.
They both had spouses! Families! Responsibilities!
They were on opposite fucking sides of the fucking war!
Hadrian's pace slowed.
His thoughts, so deafening barely a second ago immediately stilled, silent.
…Unless,…they didn't know.
The realisation was like an arctic wind that froze everything in its path.
They didn't know.
Nobody knew about him.
Without wanting it, without permission or sanction, despite his own silent disbelief and inner fury at his reaction-because this was not meant to matter! An icy fury began to lick at his belly as the word that had silenced his mind seemed to now whisper from all corners.
He was a secret.
Hadrian's jaw locked and he picked up his pace.
They hadn't told anyone.
He was a dirty, horrible mistake.
Something never to be spoken of.
Something to be hidden away in the dregs of Muggle society and forgotten about.
Nothing but a skeleton you hoped would never come to light.
"Did you hear the rumours?"
Gabriel glanced over at his unwilling companion and nodded. "I suppose that that's why Hadrian wishes to meet with us." He stated unemotionally.
"What's wrong with you?" Demetri finally just came right out and asked.
Gabriel looked down at the worn wooden table of the booth silently.
Just when Demetri was starting to think that the French wizard wasn't going to say anything the blonde spoke. "I have to tell Hadrian something…something I never thought I would ever have to say, and I don't know how to do it." He muttered.
The Russian wizard frowned, bewildered by the words. Surely he wasn't supposed to be able to garner some sort of useful information from that was he?
"What are you talking about, Dalton?"
Gabriel suddenly looked up and sat back against the worn leather seat, "I've been going over and over this in my mind, and for the life of me, I'm starting to wonder if I was just blind to it, or didn't care enough to see it. Because even now, I can't remember anything that might have alerted me to the way Julian was starting to see us." He stated with obvious frustration.
Demetri, who had been looking at the wizard he'd never see eye to eye with like he was crazy, suddenly frowned with alarm at the mention of their mutual friend.
Gabriel ran his fingers through his long hair, tugging on the strands as he fixed Cartus with an expectant look. "I didn't see it! He's going around calling Hadrian evil. Spouting Light propaganda like he doesn't possess a brain and basically, without actually saying the words, declaring dark magic heinous! How do you miss something like that?! Please, tell me, because I'm at my wits end and Hadrian's going to be furious and right now I don't know whether to try and talk him down or help him!"
Demetri blinked, "Wait, what?" He demanded on a hollow laugh.
"Oh," Gabriel threw a careless hand in Cartus' direction. "Well, at least I know I wasn't the only one that missed it." He drawled bitterly.
"Stop," Demetri raised both his hands palms out in a sign to calm down.
He'd never seen Dalton like this before. His emotions were all over the place. Angry, confused, sad and nervous. But if he was hearing Gabriel right, he didn't blame him at all. In fact, he was surprised that Julian wasn't unconscious in the seat next to them about to become the recipient of an intervention.
Dalton suddenly seemed to lose all energy in his body, his shoulders sagging as he rested a fisted hand against his lips. "I'm so mad at Julian I could kill him for what he's done. And I don't think he even realises half the consequences that his defection will have." Gabriel laughed without humour and shook his head, his expression sobering. "Then I remember that I've lost one of my best friends…It sounds ridiculous, but it feels like," He shrugged with aggravation. "It's as if Julian died. He may as well have died." The blonde admitted quietly.
Demetri couldn't think of any words, his shock was too great.
"...I think I did this to him, Demetri." Gabriel whispered hoarsely.
Finally, with difficulty, he swallowed.
"Tell me everything," Demetri ordered.
Remus shrugged without comment, "It was a slim chance, Lily. We never really expected to come across any truly useful information."
"I know," She passed him a plate to dry, "But there was a chance."
"The only other thing we got was that the purebloods are stocking up on potion supplies, as you would expect."
Lily scoffed, "Of course, with the amount of money in their vaults I'm sure they can afford to buy all the potion ingredients in Britain; leaving none for us."
A warm hand on her elbow distracted her from glaring heatedly at the now cold water and she glanced up into warm grey eyes.
"Try to cheer up, Lily. I know that it seems impossible, but try to think of everything you have; a loving husband and a wonderful son. As it stands right now, you know that your child is safe. Although they might not be willing to admit it, there are many Mothers out there that don't have that comfort."
Remus looked over his shoulder at the now clear grass and realised that James, Sirius and Landon must have come inside.
"I feel pity for the parents that refuse to see the truth of Voldemort's return because they won't be able to protect their children. Their sons and daughters will suffer from their lack of willingness to believe and they'll hate themselves for it. And the tragic thing is, at the end of the day, when they're burying their child, they'll have no-one but themselves to blame for it."
The words were meant to warm her. They should have warmed her. But the longer Remus continued to speak, whether it was because she'd been thinking about this constantly or not, the words seemed to trigger thoughts that she hadn't had for years. Questions, regrets and memories of a small baby boy with her green eyes began crawling their way to the surface.
"Don't you see Lily? Unlike the millions of parents out there right now, your conscience is clear. You are doing absolutely everything to protect your son. Just like any parent ought to. Your child will be ready, Lily. You can't ask any more of yourself than that."
As he finished speaking a gentle smile was pulling up his lips and he finally turned to look at his friend, hoping that his words had eased whatever was haunting her so much.
He never expected the sight that greeted him.
Lily was white.
All the blood had drained away from her face. Her eyes were wide and filled with tears that wouldn't fall. Any blush in her cheeks had vanished so that the only colour in her porcelain appearance was the unique emerald of her eyes that looked enormous in amongst her delicate features.
Remus jerked upright, alarm rising in him quickly. In an almost instinctive move he reached out to grasp her forearms, trying to lend her some feeling of stability, he'd never seen the independent, fiery woman look so shell shocked before.
"Lily? Lily?!" He had no idea why he was yelling but her eyes looked so distant, it was like she wasn't even seeing him. Whatever was in her thoughts had consumed her.
"What's going on in here?"
Remus looked behind him and almost wilted in relief when he saw James striding into the kitchen making a beeline for his wife. An intense look dominated his face while hazel eyes darted around the kitchen looking for any visible signs of danger that could threaten his small family.
"I don't know," He explained hastily, knowing how protective the Potter Lord was when it came to his family "We were just talking! I-I think I was- I was saying that Lily shouldn't feel guilty." The words, now remembered, came with a rush. "That she was doing so much more for her child than so many other mothers out there who-"
"Shut up!" James interrupted him with a stinging hiss, an almost frantic look in his eye.
Remus jerked back as if struck. He didn't understand, had he done something wrong? James certainly seemed to think so if the rigid way he was holding his body was any indication. But for the life of him he couldn't understand what in his words could possibly have upset Lily so.
The worried question from the doorway seemed to snap the redhead back to reality and suddenly Remus was fighting not to wince as her small white hands slid down to grip his own with admirable strength.
"Mum? Dad? What's wrong?" Landon asked anxiously.
Remus didn't know what to do when Sirius, standing beside Landon with a restraining hand on his shoulder, shot him a questioning look.
Abruptly, Lily let go of his hands, her eyes flickering up to James' stoic face.
They seemed to have a silent conversation and her features adopted an apologetic sadness which James eventually gave a curt nod of acknowledgment to, his mouth thin.
Remus could only watch as the normally affectionate couple stood together awkwardly, a tense air between them that the werewolf had never seen the like of before.
"Mum?" Landon shook off his godfather and stepped into the room.
Lily's face transformed into a genuine smile as she looked at her son, "I'm fine. Please, I apologise Remus." She said earnestly.
"Of course," he nodded to her hesitantly.
Why did he feel so uncomfortable?
"Landon, darling," Lily gestured to her son to sit at the table. "I only caught a glimpse of what you and your Father got up to outside but even I couldn't miss the tentacles. What on Earth happened there?"
Landon grinned and bounded over to give his mother a play-by-play. James' body gradually relaxing the longer Lily and Landon conversed together, the red-head giving her son her undivided attention.
Only minutes later the small family of three was laughing heartily, James and Lily holding each other's hand on top of the table in an undeniably sweet, loving gesture.
Remus and Sirius stood off to the side with perplexed expressions as the pair attempted to make sense of the rapid shift in atmosphere.
"What the hell happened?" Sirius muttered low enough so only the werewolf could hear. "James looked like he would have flayed you alive if you didn't stop talking, Remus."
"I don't know," The words seemed weak but honestly he had nothing else to tell the animagus.
"Don't give me that! What aren't you telling me?" Sirius whispered harshly under his breath.
Remus glared at the suspicious look the Black Lord was sending his way and leaned closer. "What aren't you telling me, Sirius." He corrected. "James tells you everything! What the hell did I say that was so bad?!"
Seeing the genuine bewilderment in the werewolf's eyes, Sirius glanced back over to the little family feeling utterly confused. "He hasn't told me anything..." The pureblood trailed off before shaking his head as if to dispel unwanted thoughts. "They're just stressed, Moony. You shouldn't take it to heart."
"I suppose," Remus murmured quietly.
Grey eyes flickered between the married couple thoughtfully, his quick mind working overtime. It was obvious that Lily and James were hiding something. The only question was if what they were hiding was any business of his?
Stumbling, he barely managed to keep his feet.
"Would you stop pulling me around!" Draco ripped free of Walker's grasp only to have to fling out an arm for balance when the uneven ground under him caused his body to tilt dangerously. "I'm perfectly capable of getting from A to B on my own two feet without any help from anyone!" He snapped hotly.
He'd been doing so well too, he groused internally.
While Walker had been inside the bank doing whatever secret thing he needed to do, Draco had come to the conclusion that things had to change. Ever since he'd landed in Berlin's magical shopping alley face first, Walker had been calling all the shots and he'd been letting him.
Trailing behind his classmate, jogging to catch up every few steps and generally looking like an obedient puppy as he'd been doing all morning was simply unacceptable for the heir of the Malfoy family…not to mention that when he'd realised what he must have looked like next to the poised Hadrian he hadn't been able to help from wincing in embarrassment.
Determined to turn over a new leaf in his dealings with Walker, unable to stomach the mere thought of once again being caught unprepared and unawares, made certain that his eyes didn't stray from the bank's doors even once since he'd taken up his post.
As soon as he'd seen Walker appear on the top step of Gringotts, Draco had hastily straightened from his leaning position against the tree he'd been banished to in the centre of the courtyard.
Hadrian hadn't even had the decency to make eye contact with him, he'd just barked out a 'keep up.'
Forcibly pushing his annoyance aside, he wasn't about to let that distract him from his next goal, mercury eyes had focused intently on Walker's stride as he approached him. At precisely the correct moment, right when the raven haired wizard was about to move past him and re-merge with the crowd, Draco fell cleanly into step beside him.
A private grin of satisfaction had curled up his lips and, irrationally, he'd glanced to his right to see if his companion had noticed.
Draco tried to step forward but had to quickly rebalance himself again. What the hell were they standing on?! Squinting at the ground didn't really help; it was too dark to make out anything but rocks and mud.
Frowning, he glanced up.
Giant oak trees on either side of what he could only assume was meant to be a path, had grown wild and thick creating a unique canopy of leaves and branches overhead. The foliage was so thick that only trickles of the noon-day sun were getting through.
That explained the mud, he thought, recalling the wet squelching noise that his lifted boot had made earlier with a grimace of unwanted understanding.
"You know I can apparate just as well as you can," Draco snapped angrily.
He looked up when no words answered his comment.
A disinterested Walker was pointing vaguely at his clothing, not even looking at him. "You'll have to change those into something a little less conspicuous." Green eyes were scanning the numerous shadows surrounding them instead, ignoring the blonde's earlier comments completely.
The expectation dripping from those words set his teeth on edge and it didn't help when he noticed Hadrian was standing firmly on his feet having evidently landed with perfect balance.
His eyes narrowed, "Why?"
But Walker was already moving down the ill-lit muddy lane. Draco glared at the back of his companion's leather jacket as he was once again, despite his best efforts, left behind. He was beginning to feel like a piece of luggage!
A smooth tenor voice drifted back to him. "Because your clothes practically scream 'come rob me, I have money'."
His eyes, previously combing the uneven ground for any dangers as he moved forward abruptly widened and snapped up. "Come rob me..." Draco echoed hollowly. "Just what sort of place are we going to?!"
The country lane appeared deserted; the only sound he could make out was that of his own hurried footsteps as he pushed himself to catch up. He had no idea where they were but the lack of people, muggle cars and the abundant amount of nature around them had led him to think they were in the country.
He supposed that it was secluded, quiet enough to possibly attract a fair bit of crime.
Uneasy, he quickened his step. His eyes, far too preoccupied with scouting for possible ambushes, weren't paying attention to where he was putting his feet and with a loud splash he fell forward into a water-filled pothole.
Walker spun around with a withering glare and Draco suddenly realised, faced with eyes he'd already forgotten the true intimidating intelligence behind, that this was the first time he'd looked at him since leaving the bank.
"Would you shut up!" Walker hissed quietly. The lack of volume didn't take away from the intensity of his order and Draco froze instinctively, one foot still submerged in the muddy puddle half-way up to his knee. "Stop moving." He ordered softly.
Draco watched with disbelief as emerald eyes deliberately closed, Walker took long deep breathes, just standing there in the middle of the lane. What the hell?! His mercury eyes darted around the tree-lined lane anxiously as he strained his ears in an effort to pick up noise that would betray any lurking individuals. Whether it was the soft volume of his warnings or the fact that for the first time Walker was acting less than relaxed, for some inexplicable reason he kept his silence despite his nervous bewilderment.
"Nothing," Hadrian murmured. "We're alone." He spoke clearly, eyes fluttering open.
"Did you just-?" Draco stuttered in shock. "Was that-?" Did Walker just use his magic to scan their surroundings?!
He swallowed dryly picking his foot out of the puddle without complaint. Great Darkness, if Walker had really used his magic as a tangible sixth sense…he shook his head numbly and brought a hand up to shield his eyes knowing that his shock and worry was displayed all across his expression.
Such control over one's magic was a lauded skill. Wizards and witches worked for years to become so familiar with their own core. It was a skill achieved through decades of hard work and even then it couldn't be done by the majority of people. You needed power, skill and absolute will power to exert that much authority over the inherent wildness of magic.
But if you managed it…? The difference in a person's spells! The types of magics that would be open to them…! But Walker was so young! No, it wasn't possible! It simply…he looked up to see Hadrian surveying him with an impatient look, his arms crossed over his chest as if he was debating something with himself…wasn't possible.
"If I answer your question, tell you where we are and what we are doing here, do I have your word that you will follow my instructions?"
Still reeling from the truly scary information he'd just uncovered about his companion's magical capabilities, it took a moment but finally, finally he slowly nodded his mute agreement.
By chance, a small shaft of sunlight caught his attention and instinctively his eyes followed the light. He wouldn't have noticed it but for that flittering sunlight; Walker's hands were clenched tightly at his sides, so tightly in fact that Draco would be surprised if the muscles in his forearms weren't threatening to cramp. A thought suddenly occurred to him and his gaze immediately darted up. With increasing worry he realised that nothing in those handsome features betrayed anything.
Walker gestured for Draco to follow him down the lane.
Shaking his head, he internally rebuked himself. No matter how strange or down-right frightening some of the things he was discovering today were, nonetheless, he needed to focus on the here and now.
As soon as the blonde was at Walker's side, slightly out of breath, the raven haired wizard spoke. "I am meeting some people I know at a pub that is at the end of this path. It's remote, cheap and the owner doesn't ask questions. As a consequence, it has a reputation for being safe from the authorities and, as you would expect, attracts clientele that operate in the shadier parts of society."
If Draco hadn't seen those clenched hands with his own eyes, nothing in Walker's tone would have given the heir beside him any reason to suspect that he wasn't perfectly in control. It worried him. How was he supposed to look out for himself and his interests if he couldn't accurately read his classmate? At all, apparently!
"So my clothes?" He fingered his robes hesitantly, not liking the sound of this.
Without warning, Walker flicked his wand and the rich black robes and expensive boots abruptly morphed into a generic looking jumper and slacks. "Are like a red flag in there, yes." He muttered distractedly, his thoughts clearly on the meeting ahead of him.
"So it's like the Hogs Head?" Draco nodded to himself.
He could handle that. He and his friends had often snuck down to the pub in the last two years to get a shot of fire whiskey on a Hogsmeade weekend. He didn't know why Walker was making such a fuss.
The body beside him abruptly stopped.
Hadrian turned slowly and looked him straight in the eye, exasperated frustration easy to read in their depths. Knowing what he now knew about exactly how well he was able to read Walker, Draco had no doubt that it was deliberate.
"I'm not expecting any trouble in there, Malfoy. It's one of the appeals of this type of establishment; no one talks about the other people they see in the place. But, if something does happen you won't be dealing with law abiding, moral people." Walker stated seriously.
Despite knowing that this was neither the time nor the place, Draco couldn't help from appreciating the symmetry of Walker's features once again. It was infuriating, especially when emerald eyes suddenly rolled with bored knowledge and he had to look away in embarrassment.
He just didn't understand why someone would wish to hide their attractiveness. It wasn't a surprise considering his heritage, but Draco had experienced on multiple occasions the benefits of having an undeniably handsome face. People were more willing to forgive you, try to gain your attention, take notice of you. All in all it made life easier and, however shallow; it was something that every single person noticed, no matter how much they might wish not to. Case in point? Hermione Granger.
"Malfoy!" Walker barked impatiently at him. "Concentrate. Because most of the people in there don't know the meaning of 'he's had enough' or 'walk away'. They are liars, sneaks, murderers and thieves. But above all else, they want to pass by unnoticed. So don't give anyone a reason to take an interest in you, got it?"
Perhaps he should be taking more notice of the warning but honestly, even if it was that bad he'd been to Knockturn Alley with his father a number of times and he'd never had a problem. He doubted he'd see anything he'd never run across before.
He was far more interested in voicing the theory that had just occurred to him.
Draco's face adopted a speculative look as he observed Walker. "Is that what you were doing at Hogwarts? Passing unnoticed? Making sure that no one had a reason to become interested in you?"
Hadrian exhaled with a small smirk, "Just don't do anything stupid." He continued forward at a brisk pace, "I'm in no mood to save your hide from a well deserved beating."
The pair turned the corner and, without warning, sound burst to life all around them. Hollers and laughs and calls for alcohol that had been muffled by a sound dampening ward were deafening now that they'd crossed the perimeter.
Draco immediately lifted both hands to cup his ears, the drastic change from silence to over a hundred loud, raucous voices actually painful.
Having seen Walker's enviable way with crowds in Hallow-fed, Draco stuck close to his side as the raven's taller figure navigated through the drunken rabble with ease.
"Watch where you're going, would you?!" A middle aged man holding two tankards of beer scowled at him darkly.
"S-sorry," He apologised hastily.
He'd almost bumped into the man a second ago; too busy staring at the drunken wizards duel going on on the snow covered grass to his right.
Without waiting for a reply, whether friendly or not, he quickly skirted the broader figure and darted around him.
Jogging up the old stone pathway filled with cracks, he relaxed slightly when Walker came back into view. The Malfoy ward had been true to his word, continuing forward toward the dark wooden door to the pub and leaving him to deal with whatever problems he got himself into.
He hadn't thought Walker was being serious with his last, almost throwaway comment about not bailing him out of anything that might happen in the pub. He glanced behind him nervously, suddenly feeling much more vulnerable than he had a moment ago.
That was when he realised that despite having been to Knockturn Alley with his father, he'd never been anything more than respectfully wary of the people and environment. Not because he didn't understand its very real dangers but because he'd always had the comfort of knowing his father would keep him safe.
This was a whole different situation.
He was alone here. There was no one to bail him out if he got into something he couldn't handle.
Merlin, he didn't know whether to feel empowered or terrified.
Rushing to catch up, he was at Hadrian's side as he pushed open the door. No signs of the same nervousness that Draco was feeling were evident in the muggleborn, and somehow, the blonde didn't think Walker was faking his lack of concern.
He peered at Hadrian thoughtfully. To be so relaxed and self assured as to walk into a place as volatile as this without hesitation spoke volumes for both Walker's capabilities and confidence. It felt surreal. Looking at Walker now, knowing that he had them convinced their whole school careers that he was a brown-nosing coward incapable of standing up for himself, when in reality; an immovable force had been lurking beneath the surface this whole time.
Clouds of smoke rushed outside in the small space of time it took for both of them to slip inside, you couldn't even hear the ring of the brass bell that announced the presence of a new customer amidst the swell of noise.
Hadrian tilted his head in a gesture to follow him and climbed up a discreet wooden staircase just to their left. Upstairs was just as crowded but it was filled with booths and tables as dozens of people ate their meals.
Scanning the crowd, emerald orbs caught the careful wave of a familiar figure and quickly stalked forward, a nervous blonde at his heels.
Sliding into the worn red leather booth the deafening sounds of the pub instantly quietened.
When no body immediately followed his own onto the seat, Hadrian looked up to see an open mouthed Malfoy staring at the people he was meeting with shock.
Rolling his eyes, he snapped out a hand and caught the blonde's wrist; with a none too gentle tug, he pulled the idiot into the empty space beside him.
"Wasn't it just ten minutes ago that you were stomping your feet and yelling that I didn't need to haul you around everywhere?" Hadrian commented in a dry tone.
Hadrian watched the winter sun set alone.
Gabriel had apparated away at least ten minutes ago. After it became clear that Hadrian didn't want to talk about Julian the blonde had finally just left, not knowing what else to do.
They'd travelled at least half a kilometer away from the isolated pub. Gabe had insisted for reasons unknown to him at the time. Demetri had stayed behind, less than happy in his volunteered role of babysitter for the blonde menace.
This day was just full of surprises, wasn't it? He thought bitterly, the irony of Julian's betrayal didn't escape him.
A soft coo was the spotty brown owl's only herald as it swooped over the high rose hedge lining the country lane to alight itself on Hadrian's shoulder.
"Now who might you be from I wonder?" Hadrian murmured under his breath as he raised a hand to stroke the animal's wing, using the other to deftly untie the letter that was attached to its outstretched leg.
When the bird flew off without waiting for a reply Hadrian raised an eyebrow, intrigued.
Drawing his wand he cast a multitude of diagnostic, anti-surveillance and detection charms on the letter but found nothing. It was clean. There wasn't even a simple spell to make sure that only he might read the contents.
Peering down at the unassuming yellow parchment, his eyes narrowed suspiciously at the unfamiliar handwriting on the front before he turned it over looking for any sign as to who had sent it to him.
Fingering the edges for a moment in indecision, Hadrian shrugged and slipped a finger under the wax seal at the back and pulled up. Both his spells and his innate magic was telling him that there was nothing dangerous about the letter and if there was one thing he trusted, it was his magic.
It might interest you to know that the Ministry, led by Arthur Weasely, plans to conduct a raid on Malfoy Manor at 4pm. It was pushed through the ministry quickly so that the team of aurors would have the element of surprise. Officially, they are looking for dark artifacts. In reality, they are looking for William Weasely, Nymphadora Tonks and Mundungus Fletcher, members of the Order of the Phoenix.
I hope this information reaches you in time and is of use.
Hadrian read through the letter twice, not sure what to make of it. If this was true...
"Tempus," He whispered.
"Gentlemen," Hadrian called politely, his tone was perfectly cordial and one might easily make the mistake of believing its truth. Folding the letter in half he slid it safely into the breast pocket of his leather jacket. "Is there something I can help you with?" Turning fluidly so that the bushy rose hedge was now at his back, Hadrian eyed the dozen or so wizards that had managed to loosely circle him intently.
From behind an un-kept giant of a man stepped a middle aged woman, wand gripped firmly in her hand.
Her hair was long and black. Her eyes, brown, were placed too widely on her face to ever be considered anything other than perhaps striking. And despite the considerable weight she had lost from her previously very plump figure, Hadrian recognised her instantly.
He smirked. "Veronica," Hadrian gave her a mocking nod of acknowledgment.
The woman instantly bristled, the abrupt way she straightened her already upright posture causing the hem on the old fashioned woolen dress she was wearing to quiver against the winter grass at their feet.
Hadrian looked pointedly at the grubby ramshackle group of thugs surrounding him. "Bit cliché isn't it?" It was beyond obvious what Veronica intended to do. "Where'd you get the money to pay them anyway?" He asked with a mildly interested tone before shooting her a vicious grin. "After all, the Belgium authorities took your entire fortune away from you, didn't they?"
"Shut your mouth boy!" Her hiss was like a whip, her brown eyes thunderous as she shook with anger. "Your arrogance borders on stupidity. Do you really think I don't have friends willing to give me money? Friends that wish for nothing more than to see you burn?" She abruptly stepped forward, hands fisted strongly at her sides. "I've waited a year for this. A year to get my revenge and by Gods, I intend to enjoy your pain before I kill you." Veronica spat at him.
He wasn't paying attention. His mind far busier analysing the best way he could get out of this. Apparation was out; he'd felt the ward go up just before they'd appeared. Hadrian idly fingered his wand, ready to draw it with the smallest of signs. Most of the men circling him looked to be forcing themselves not to attack; their eyes were eager and violent.
No conscience here would be troubled by his murder.
"Honesty Veronica, if you could only hear yourself." Emerald eyes rolled. "I don't know why you're acting so self-righteous. I only did to you what you have managed to do to many other prominent families in Belgium. I doubt any of the people that you ruined hunted you down with flea-bitten mongrels at their sides in order to exact their revenge."
"You destroyed my life!" She shrieked hoarsely. "They came to my house. Destroyed everything I owned, storming through room after room breaking priceless heirlooms as if they were nothing! Because of you! You told them!"
"That you were bribing countless politicians in order to operate your very lucrative corner of the black market?" Hadrian crossed his arms. "Of course I did. I told you not to get involved with the Scarlett affair, I told you to stay away from Britain." He shrugged without remorse. "You've done the same to people that got in your way."
The slight crinkle noise from his pocket reminded him that he was on a clock.
She laughed brokenly, "I sheltered you and your Mother on countless occasions…was it really so easy?"
"Yes." He stated coldly.
She nodded, a sick smile curling her lips, "Then I'm going to enjoy this even more than I was expecting to."
Hadrian ducked. A swiftly conjured shield blocked the real threat, a silent bone-breaking curse from his left.
He needed a distraction.
A giant wall of fire, pumped high with more magic than this spell was intended to handle drove his attackers back. Taking the opportunity, Hadrian waved his wand at the muddy lane beneath his feet levitating grains of sand into the air; a skilful twist of his wrist transfigured the grains into tiny, almost microscopic shards of glass.
Dodging the angry red spell Hadrian glimpsed two charred figures screaming in the grass obviously having been too close to the flames to escape their heat.
"Flank him!" Veronica's voice screamed instructions to the more brawn than brain rabble.
Twisting in his spot, narrowly avoiding a spell that whizzed past his ear, Hadrian flung his arm out and propelled his glass forward on a conjured wind.
Knowing that the glass would need time to work, to affect their sight, Hadrian finally let loose with a torrent of spells.
Adrenaline racing, his body moving constantly as he dodged and weaved his way out of danger, Hadrian began to methodically take them down one by one. His opponents for all their appearance were experienced and ruthless. They didn't fight fair and had no problem shooting a spell at his turned back.
While Hadrian was the far better dueler he was still battling twelve wizards and a fairly talented witch with a penchant toward cruelty. It was hard to avoid everything, to adequately defend against the onslaught while also harassing them with his own curses.
It started with misaimed spells.
Jets of light began flying off course. Disrupting the ranks. Taking out allies with friendly fire.
Then the cries of dismay and pain and shouts of confusion flooded the field.
More than four of them were in various crouching positions now, hands stretched out in front of them, wands discarded beneath their feet. Hadrian dispatched them easily.
He took down three more that were less affected in the time that it took for Veronica to begin healing her mercenaries' eyesight.
Two newly healed men ran at him from behind while he finished dispatching a comrade in front of them. Spinning, he didn't have time to raise his wand and hurriedly curled his hand into a fist in front of his face. The man on the left dropped, clutching his throat. Turning his attention back to the mountain sprinting at him, face red and practically frothing from the mouth, Hadrian's eyes suddenly widened, sensing the incoming spells.
Throwing himself out of the way he barely managed to dodge the synchronised cruciatus curses flung at him from both sides in enough time.
The mountain tackled him with a bellowing war cry, his head hitting the ground with painful force. Hot breath panted above him, the stench wretched.
"You sure do a lot of damage for someone so young, don't you, you little bastard." The wheezing breathes were suddenly the least of his problems. Meaty hands wrapped tightly around his neck and squeezed.
Instinctively, Hadrian curled his hands around the man's wrists and tried to loosen the choke hold.
"Aw," Veronica laughed gleefully, walking forward so that her dark features were within his line of sight. "It does my soul wonders to see you brought so low, Hadrian."
Angry that he'd allowed himself to be put in such a position, Hadrian glared at her blackly before letting go of the man's wrists. His arm snapped up, the heel of his hand connecting with wizard's nose. With a loud audible crunch it broke, the cartilage pulverised.
The mountain holding him down fell back with a yowl of pain.
Hadrian drew in a deep gasping breath.
"Avada Kedavra." A masculine voice snarled darkly.
The green light of the killing curse connected with one of the two remaining men. He fell to the ground, lifeless.
Hadrian didn't bother to look. He already knew who it was. Flinging his wand out, the last remaining wizard suddenly clutched at his chest. His face twisting with agony, he fell to his knees before collapsing to the ground with a dull thud, his heart having exploded in his chest.
Emerald eyes settled on the suddenly frightened looking figure of Veronica Fay. Climbing to his feet, Hadrian deliberately ignored his unexpected ally. His magic, so sensitive to other's magical signatures, was well aware of the identity of his…'rescuer'.
"Hadrian…please…" She begged pitifully.
"Mercy? Really?" He sneered at her with cold eyes. "But you so enjoyed seeing me brought low, did you not?"
Eyes wide and panicked, Veronica swallowed dryly. "Please," was all she could say.
"Avada Kedavra," Hadrian stated clearly, watching the petrified horror abound in her brown orbs with a feeling of deep satisfaction.
She fell back, her eyes open, dead.
Hadrian let his eyes slowly drift over the thirteen bodies at his feet before he finally turned to face his ally.
"So, what should I call you?" Hadrian raised his eyebrows expectantly; a small sarcastic smile twisted his lips. "After all, Rudolphus seems unnecessarily formal between Father and son, wouldn't you agree?"
Don't think Hadrian's very happy with you Julian ;D Anyone think they know who the letter might be from? Anyone think that Hadrian will even care if the Malfoys get in trouble? (GRIN)
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and welcome any feedback!