Harry met the new and improved Draco Malfoy on a Tuesday afternoon. He had just managed to cajole Teddy into sitting down for tea when a loud pounding sounded at the door. Harry ignored it until Teddy asked, "Are you going to get that, Uncle Harry or do you want me to?"
Harry suppressed a sigh. At two in the afternoon, it could only be solicitors or reporters, neither of which he was in the mood to deal with, but he had been trying to impress upon Teddy the concept of being polite, which included answering the door and sending unwanted guests on their way. Politely.
"Stay here and finish your juice," he said and went to the door, wand in hand, just in case. He never expected to see Pansy Parkinson and Draco Malfoy standing on his doorstep.
"Don't just stand there gaping, Potter, invite us in," Parkinson demanded.
Harry thought he would prefer to have a pair of deranged lions roaming his house, but he stepped aside and allowed them in. Malfoy gave him a wan smile, causing Harry to blink at him in surprise, wondering at the lack of animosity.
"Sit down, Draco," Pansy ordered when Harry shut the door and followed them into the living room. Malfoy sat obediently on Harry's sofa and then looked expectantly at him. Parkinson paced near the fireplace. "All right, Potter, since no one else gives a damn, I brought him to you." She pointed a sharp-looking nail at Malfoy. "Fix him."
Harry's brow crinkled and he shook his head. "I'm… not sure what you mean."
Parkinson rolled her eyes. "Have you been living under a rock? Surely you know what's happened?"
Harry looked at Malfoy and frowned. He knew some of it, of course. Everyone knew. Rogue Death Eaters had invaded Malfoy Manor, killed Lucius and Narcissa, and set the place afire. House-elves had managed to put out the blaze before too much damage had been done. Draco had not been home at the time. "I know about the attack, yes," Harry admitted, throwing Malfoy a look that bordered on sympathy, but Malfoy's face was curiously blank, watching Harry with an enigmatic expression.
"Did you also know that Draco has been in St Mungo's for nearly a month?" she asked.
Harry shook his head. "I've been on leave," he said. He had taken the summer off to take care of Teddy, and also to re-evaluate his life and decide whether or not he wanted to continue in the Auror program. What he had once been so certain about now seemed rife with politics, paperwork, and an utter lack of excitement.
"So they told me. You must have missed the bit where someone returned to the Manor to finish the job. Draco was attacked and Obliviated. He remembers next to nothing." Her voice rang with bitterness when she added, "He barely remembers me!"
Malfoy frowned at her and then reached into his robes to pull out a small pad of paper and a self-inking quill. He scribbled on it for a moment and held it out for her. She closed her eyes as though fighting a comment, and then strode forward to peer at it. Harry watched the exchange, puzzled. Parkinson straightened and gave Malfoy a fond smile.
"I know you remember me from the Yule Ball, Draco. But that was eight years ago." She sighed and glared at Harry. "No one at the Ministry gives a fuck. They can't even find those responsible for the murder of his parents and they certainly don't care that he's become… this."
Malfoy's expression became more familiar, twisting into a haughty glare. He scrawled on the paper once more.
"Why—?" Harry began.
"He can't speak, Potter! Isn't it obvious? Half his bloody memory is gone; he can't speak and he's lost his wand… Fuck, he's practically a Squib now! Even with a wand, he can't cast any spells. I want you to fix him!"
Harry gaped at her. Draco Malfoy? Mute? Unable to snarl insults or make superior-sounding observations, or spew words of hatred and malice? It seemed like a gift! Like poetic justice. "But, if St Mungo's couldn't help him, what do you expect me—?"
"I don't care, Potter. Utilize your annoying brainy friend and the rest of the Gryffindorks and figure it out! The way I see it, you owe him."
Malfoy had stopped writing with a glare, apparently deciding that Parkinson had no intention of reading the words. He crumpled the page and then glanced around, possibly trying to decide what to do with it.
"How do I owe him?" Harry asked.
"You owed his mother a life-debt. Now that she's gone, the debt should transfer to Draco."
Harry rolled his eyes. "He owes me a life-debt. They should cancel one another out."
"Uncle Harry? I finished my juice."
Harry looked down to find Teddy lurking nearby. He dropped his hand to Teddy's hair, which was currently brown. He had been taught to school his hair and features into nondescript "normalcy" when meeting new people. Before Harry could urge him to return to the kitchen, Parkinson strode forward and crouched down to Teddy's level.
"Why, hello there," she said in a cheerful tone. "What a handsome young man you are. My name is Pansy."
Teddy beamed at her. "I'm Teddy Lupin!" he announced. "This is my Uncle Harry."
"I know. We are very old friends. And this is Draco Malfoy. He would say hello, but he can't speak."
Teddy's eyes went wide and he stared at Malfoy. "You can't?"
Malfoy shook his head solemnly.
"Then how do you ask for biscuits?"
Malfoy's lips curved into an amused smile and Harry stared at him. He had never seen Malfoy with such an expression—amusement, yes, but never untainted by malevolence. He looked very open and friendly as he bent his head and wrote on his pad. Teddy hurried over to look at it.
"Oh, you write notes! I can read!" Teddy announced loudly. He turned to look at Harry proudly. "I can read his notes!"
Harry smiled tolerantly and wondered how he was going to pry Teddy away from Malfoy and get the former Slytherins out of his house.
"I know, Teddy, you read very well for your age. Do you mind going—?"
Parkinson cut him off. "Actually, I need to go, Potter. I'll just leave Draco here with you and check back in on Saturday." Her tone was matter-of-fact as she slipped past him to head toward the front door.
"What?" Harry asked, spinning around to stare at her. "You can't do that!"
"Well, he can't come with me, Potter. I'm off to Switzerland with Mummy for the rest of the week. I'm sure you'll be able to help him." She raised her voice. "Bye, Draco! I'll be back soon to make sure Potter isn't mistreating you!"
"Mistreating? Wait! He can't stay here!"
Parkinson opened the door. "Of course he can. You have loads of space and he's no bother at all. You'll see. Ta until Saturday, Potter." With that, she traipsed down the front steps, waved almost coquettishly, and Disapparated. Harry glared at the spot where she had disappeared and peered up and down the street, searching for Muggle observers. There seemed to be none, thankfully.
"Damn her," Harry muttered and shut the door. He returned to the living room only to stop short in the doorway. Malfoy was sprawled on the floor next to Teddy. For a horrifying instant, Harry thought there had been an accident, but then he noticed that they each had a couple of Teddy's toy dragons in hand.
"…and this one is a nice dragon," Teddy was saying. "He comes in and stomps on the bad dragons that eat people. Like this!" Teddy slammed his dragon down atop several of the others with a loud roaring sound. His hair was bright blue. Harry sighed, rubbing his fingers into a headache that suddenly had his temples throbbing.
"Teddy, what have I told you about breaking your toys?" he asked.
"But you always fix them for me, Uncle Harry."
"I know, but I'm getting tired of doing it. You should try to keep them intact for a while, okay?"
"All right," Teddy said in a forlorn tone. "Draco, don't smash the dragons. Harry says to play nicely."
Malfoy nodded and met Harry's eyes with a grin. Harry did not return the expression.
"Teddy, will you take your toys upstairs and put them away? I need to talk to Malfoy for a minute."
"I thought his name was Draco."
"Yes, fine. I need to talk to Draco. Privately."
Teddy heaved a put-upon sigh, but gathered up his dragons and carried them out. "Bye, Draco, thanks for playing with me."
Malfoy smiled and waved as he got to his feet. Teddy thumped down the hall and up the stairs, bouncing like a kangaroo or a rabbit. Harry shook his head and admitted, "He's a handful. I have him for the summer, since Andromeda went to Italy for a much needed vacation."
Malfoy nodded politely and Harry realized he really had lost his memory. There was not a glimmer of recognition in his eyes at the mention of his Aunt Andromeda. "Do you remember me?" Harry asked softly.
Malfoy nodded in a somewhat eager fashion. He pulled out his notepad and scribbled for a moment before tearing off the sheet and handing it to Harry.
I saw you in a robe shop when we were boys and I remember that I wanted to be your friend.
Harry inhaled in surprise and felt a curious sensation of guilt. He had rejected Malfoy's friendship when they were children. Surely he remembered that, as well? He looked up and started to speak, but Malfoy had been writing again and tore off another piece.
And you saved me from a fire.
Harry stared at him, only to find wide, guileless eyes staring back at him with something that looked puzzlingly like… admiration. It was almost disturbing, especially when Harry absently noted that without his familiar petulant, angry expression, Malfoy was actually rather handsome.
"Do you remember why?" Harry asked.
Malfoy shook his head and frowned. If his behaviour was faked, he was doing a damn fine job of it. Despite his annoyance, Harry was curious. He could think of no logical reason for Malfoy to pretend to be mute, and it was true that Malfoy's parents had been murdered. Harry gestured to the sofa and waited until Malfoy sat down before seating himself in a chair across from the blond.
"Do you remember anything about how you… lost your memory? Were you attacked?"
Malfoy smiled wryly, put a hand into his robe again and pulled out a folded parchment. He scrawled on the top of it with his quill for a moment and then leaned forward to hand it over.
Pansy told me you would ask, he had written.
The page exhibited a loopy handwriting that was far from Malfoy's elegant lines. It contained a sketchy account of Pansy Parkinson's observations and assumptions. She had found him lying on the floor in his bedroom at Malfoy Manor sometime after Malfoy had missed a scheduled luncheon date. The Malfoy house-elves were apparently useless, refusing to speak to Parkinson except to demand that she "fix Master Draco". Malfoy remembered nothing at all immediately prior to the incident. She had noted: Draco recalls almost nothing of his adulthood. He has only random memories that he cannot connect, although he seems to remember most of his childhood. The Healers say they have no idea if his condition is permanent, although I think they are merely being evasive rather than telling us the truth. I want my old Draco back. She had underlined the last sentence twice.
Harry looked up when Malfoy waved another page at him. He took it and read, Have I changed so much? Harry grinned wryly. The mere fact that Draco Malfoy was in his house and they were not shouting or exchanging hexes and blows answered that question.
"That remains to be seen, I suppose. Come on, if you are to be staying here, I guess we should find you a room." Harry got to his feet, but Malfoy remained seated, writing. He tore off the sheet and handed it to Harry.
I don't want to be a bother. I can go home, or back to the hospital.
Harry shook his head. The Malfoy mansion had been set afire. Harry had read the report and knew it was extensively damaged. And St Mungo's… Well, he hated to have anyone spend time there. Harry had been there enough to want to avoid it forever. And the truth was that Harry was curious. It wouldn't hurt to put Malfoy up for a few days and try to discover what memories were missing. Hermione would likely be intrigued.
"It's no bother. Parkinson—Pansy was right. I have plenty of room. In fact, you can have your choice of bedrooms. There are many."
He led Malfoy upstairs where they were quickly joined by Teddy, who bounced happily at the news that Malfoy would be staying. Teddy immediately gave him a tour of the house while describing the features of each room.
"And this one is the best!" Teddy announced as he flung open the final door. "It's right next to mine and across the hall from Harry's, so you will be close by if you have a nightmare and need to get into Harry's bed and snuggle. He knows lots of ways to scare off monsters."
Harry choked and covered it with a cough as he looked up to see Malfoy's grey eyes glinting with amusement. The air suddenly seemed thicker and Harry felt strangely warm as he realized the idea of Malfoy climbing into his bed was far less amusing than it should have been.
Malfoy handed Teddy a note and the boy read it aloud, struggling only slightly with the words. "'Well, I shall have to take this room, then.' Uncle Harry! Draco wants this room!" Teddy danced in place and Malfoy laughed aloud. A smile tugged at the corner of Harry's lips.
"Very well. I will have Kreacher prepare the room. He can… um… borrow some of my pyjamas for tonight." Harry flushed at the idea of Malfoy wearing his pyjamas and then mentally swore at himself. What was wrong with him?
Malfoy wrote another note. I will send to St Mungo's for my clothing. Many of my things are still at the Manor, but I cannot travel on my own. Malfoy grimaced when he handed the note to Harry, who realized being mute was a terrible handicap in the wizarding world. Malfoy would be unable to cast spells or even travel by Floo. He could probably Apparate, but not without a wand.
"Can you still fly? By broom, I mean," Harry asked.
Malfoy nodded and his eyes seemed to light up. Harry felt something akin to relief and realized he had been feeling sorry for him, which was alleviated slightly with the knowledge that Malfoy could still fly.
"Park! Park! Park!" Teddy yelled suddenly, taking Harry's hand and wrenching at it. For a small child, the boy was a brute.
"Teddy, I won't be able to use my arm if you pull it out of the socket," Harry said.
"What's a socket?"
Harry threw a pained look at Malfoy. "I usually take Teddy to the park in the afternoon. Would you like to join us?" It was more than a polite request—Harry didn't trust leaving the Slytherin alone in his house. Not that Harry had anything to hide, unless one counted the gay pornography hidden away in a locked chest inside Harry's wardrobe—and Harry most definitely counted that as something he preferred to keep hidden.
Teddy switched his attention, and his grip, to Malfoy's arm. "Come with us, Draco! Come with us! Come with us!" Teddy's hair turned from blue to bright pink. Harry had discerned no rhyme or reason to Teddy's hair colour changes—on rare occasions, his skin tone would shift, also.
Malfoy only smiled and nodded, seeming unperturbed by Teddy's roughhousing. Harry sent the boy to fetch a coat, even thought the day was warm. Teddy had a habit of getting wet. If the park contained water, Teddy would find it, generally by falling in.
How does his hair change colour? Malfoy wrote.
Harry spent the next few minutes explaining Teddy's Metamorphmagus abilities and how he had inherited them from his mother. Harry pushed away an onslaught of sadness at the memory of both Remus and Tonks and added, "His grandmother is your mother's sister. Teddy is your cousin."
Malfoy's eyes widened in surprise and when Teddy returned, the blond dropped to one knee and then swept the boy into a rough embrace.
"Hey! What did I do?" Teddy asked, but he giggled and squeezed Malfoy's neck with his small arms, taking care not to gouge him with the wooden unicorn he held.
When Malfoy rose, Harry was shocked to see brightness in his eyes that spoke of unshed tears. He caught his breath as Malfoy began to write. Harry was rapidly changing his opinion of the Slytherin and it was slightly alarming.
They say my parents were murdered, although I do not remember it. I feared I had no family left.
Harry felt a twinge of guilt and swallowed past a strange tightness in his throat. "Come on," he said and gathered Teddy nearer with a hand on his shoulder. "I'll Apparate all of us together. The park isn't far." He was not quite sure where to touch Malfoy and finally decided to pretend he was Ron by draping an arm around his shoulders. Malfoy stepped closer and Harry was assailed by the musky scent of Malfoy's cologne. Harry wondered if it contained a magical formula for attraction, because his senses suddenly felt tangled and he found it difficult to breathe. "Hang on," he said roughly and forced himself to concentrate on their destination, rather than the warmth of Malfoy's presence.
Hyde Park contained a hidden section known only to wizards, which was fortuitous for Harry. Teddy's lack of control over his abilities made mingling with Muggles a difficult endeavour. After a short walk, Teddy raced toward a flock of ducks, most of which took to the air, although a few of the more dense variety simply waddled quickly out of the boy's reach.
"It won't be long before he falls in the lake," Harry commented, watching as Teddy tenaciously hurried after a green-headed mallard, which took wing with a squawk when the boy leaped.
"I almost caught that one, Uncle Harry! Did you see?"
"I saw, Teddy," Harry called. He wasn't sure what Teddy planned to do with a duck if he ever caught one, but it did conjure images of the bird sitting in a cage in Teddy's room. Not for the first time, he wondered if he should get Teddy a pet; he just wasn't sure what sort of reception an animal would receive on Andromeda's return. He supposed he could keep it at Grimmauld place, as long as it was not a gigantic dog or something…
Harry's pondering was interrupted by a note Malfoy held out for him to read.
You don't seem to like me.
Harry glanced at Malfoy, tugged at his forelock nervously, and then shrugged. If Malfoy ever recovered his memory, he would recall it well enough on his own. "We have something of a history," Harry admitted.
Malfoy drew in a sharp breath and wrote, Were we lovers?
Harry's jaw sagged when he read the words and it took him several moments to process audible sounds. "No! Merlin, no!"
Malfoy frowned and scribbled. Harry watched Teddy chase another duck until Malfoy thrust a paper before him. He took it.
Are you homophobic? I did not mean to cause offense.
"No, of course I'm not homophobic," Harry snapped. "In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm—" He choked off the words, realizing he did not want to reveal his sexual identity to Draco Malfoy, of all people. "Never mind. What I mean is that you and I… well, we never got on. Not since we were children. You really remember nothing about Hogwarts?"
Malfoy shrugged and wrote. I have flashes, sometimes. I remember you playing Quidditch and I think we had Potions together. You were always glaring at me, now that I think about it. And I remember you had two friends that I envied.
That was another surprise. Malfoy envied Ron and Hermione? "Why?"
Malfoy shrugged and his white teeth worried his lower lip for a moment, drawing Harry's attention. Because they were with you.
Harry's breath caught and he stared at Malfoy, whose pale cheeks tinted with a faint blush that caught Harry off-guard. Merlin, he could not be having this conversation with Malfoy, whose horrid personality had always kept Harry from thinking of him as even remotely attractive. He wondered if Malfoy's memory loss had eradicated the nastiness, or if this Draco had been lurking beneath the other the whole time.
Thankfully, Teddy chose that moment to tumble into the lake with a yelp and a splash and Harry left off examining Malfoy's handsome features to hurry over and fish the boy out.
Harry knelt before the fireplace in the kitchen and put a Floo-call through to Luna, who worked at St Mungo's in the Spell Damage department. He was not quite ready to call Hermione and admit that Malfoy was living in his house, if only temporarily.
Luna did not seem surprised to hear from him, but then, she never seemed surprised about anything. Harry explained about Pansy tossing Malfoy on his doorstep.
"It's lucky Draco remembers anything at all, really," Luna said. "Remember Gilderoy Lockhart? He still has trouble recalling his own name. At least Draco retained most of his personality, as well as the inherent memory of who he is. It almost seems as though specific blocks of memory were destroyed, whereas poor Professor Lockhart has scattered widespread damage."
"You think Malfoy's attackers were trying to hide something specific?" Harry asked.
"It appears that way."
"And nothing can be done?"
"Memory is a delicate thing, Harry, and there are not many people willing to dedicate the time to work on it. We have other, more pressing, maladies at hand. There just aren't enough Healers."
Harry sighed and nodded. Mind Magic was a rare field and the specialists preferred to focus on mental aberrations such as psychosis, or the study of why certain wizards were Squibs. "And Malfoy's inability to speak?"
Luna smiled at that. "He is not unable, he has simply forgotten how. I am confident that he can relearn that particular skill, although it will require patience. He needs to be taught as you would teach a child, in order to create new neural connections."
Harry doubted he would be able to teach Malfoy to speak by Saturday when he had to return the blond to Parkinson's care, but at least it was promising news.
"Who is working on Malfoy's case?" he asked.
"At the Ministry? You would know better than I, Harry."
He shook his head. "I took a leave of absence in order to care for Teddy over the summer. I haven't been to the Ministry in a month." In truth, Harry was not completely sure he wanted to return at all. Auror Training was not what he had expected—it seemed like little more than a continuation of school, with classes in Applied Magical Theory and hours of mundane meetings and ludicrous levels of paperwork that included essays regurgitating everything they had learned. Very little of it appeared to have practical use.
Harry could have contacted Kingsley Shacklebolt, but he was not eager to listen to pointed questions regarding when he planned to return, plus it was doubtful that Kingsley would divulge information about an existing case.
Which left Ron and Hermione. Ron was still in Auror Training and he would be more than willing to dig up anything Harry needed, but Ron was less than subtle and any mention of the name Malfoy might cause him to balk. Hermione was more reliable, but far less inclined to do anything she viewed as "breaking the rules", especially since she had started working in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
Harry thanked Luna and then went to the attic to send owls to Ron and Hermione. He had found it was usually better to deal with them both together. To his surprise, a third owl stood on a perch between his owl and Teddy's. Harry had finally broken down and acquired a replacement for Hedwig, although this one was a burly screech owl he had named Attila. Teddy also had an owl, a buff-coloured bit of fluff Teddy called Olaf.
Malfoy's eagle owl was immediately recognizable. It hooted in a forlorn fashion and Harry fed it an owl treat before attaching the notes to Attila and Olaf's legs and sending them off.
He nearly bumped into Malfoy on his way back down, arriving at the bedchambers just as Malfoy was exiting Teddy's room. Malfoy smiled at him and pantomimed sleeping. Harry peered into the room to see Teddy lying on his bed, sound asleep, covered with a light blanket. For a single, terrifying moment, Harry wondered if Malfoy had done something to the boy and that he was not sleeping at all, but then Teddy rolled over and drew one of his stuffed toys closer with a sigh. Harry's heart resumed beating and he felt a flare of guilt for allowing old habits to colour his view of Malfoy.
He turned to the blond, who had written another note and held it out expectantly.
He's delightful. Thank you for allowing me to spend time with him. I don't think I like children very much, but he could be the only family I have left.
Harry resisted the urge to crumple the note, his guilt having grown tenfold. "Well, there is also his grandmother, your Aunt Andromeda." At Malfoy's blank look, Harry added, "Your mother's sister."
I don't remember her.
Harry nodded, thinking how sad it must have been for Andromeda to have been denied a relationship with her own sister's child, merely because she had chosen to marry a Muggle. For a moment he felt a flash of anger at Lucius and Narcissa, immediately buried, because they had paid the ultimate price for the choices they had made.
"Your owl is in the attic, by the way."
Malfoy's eyes lit up, making him look simply breathtaking, and then he hurried for the stairs, leaving Harry to stare after him in bemusement. Damn it all, but he was actually starting to like this Malfoy.
Harry was in the kitchen, preparing dinner, when Malfoy returned. Harry turned to smile at him, but his expression faltered when he saw that Malfoy looked distressed.
"What's wrong?" Harry asked.
Malfoy sat down at the table and took out his familiar quill and parchment. I remember the owl. Seeing him again made me think of other things, like my mother sending me sweets at school. Pansy told me that my mother was murdered. I wish she hadn't told me, because then I could pretend she was still alive.
"But… it's better to know the truth, no matter how harsh, don't you think?" Harry asked softly, sitting down across from him.
Malfoy smiled wanly. I've often found the truth to be more of a hindrance than an asset.
That made Harry smile. "Now, that sounds like the Draco Malfoy I know."
Malfoy looked serious as he wrote and pushed the note across the table. Why do you hate me?
The "do" disturbed Harry, even though it had only been a few hours since he had, indeed, hated Malfoy. "I don't. I mean, I suppose I did, but we were in school and we were both under a lot of pressure from… things. Circumstances. You know. Or you don't know, if you can't remember, but…" Harry realized he was babbling and probably not making a lick of sense.
Malfoy frowned and Harry tugged at the hair over his scar, wondering how he was supposed to "fix" Malfoy if he recalled next to nothing about the past decade of his life. He realized wryly that perhaps some things were better left forgotten—there were many, many things Harry would like to do without. He pushed the thought away in order to concentrate on Malfoy.
"Maybe if you write down a memory of Hogwarts, I can try to fill in the blanks? I might be able to get a Pensieve, also. Did they ever attempt that at St Mungo's?"
Malfoy shook his head. I don't think they cared enough.
Harry was about to protest. His experiences with the staff at the hospital had always been positive, but he closed his mouth abruptly, acknowledging that he had probably received preferential treatment that might not be extended to the son of known Death Eaters.
Do you really want to help me, or should I go?
Harry read the words and then looked into Malfoy's calm grey eyes. He knew he should ask him to leave. After all, Harry had Teddy to think about and Draco Malfoy had never brought him anything but trouble. Still, Harry owed Narcissa Malfoy a life-debt and now that she was gone, he would never be able to repay it. Harry knew without a doubt that her last wish would be that Harry help her son.
And Harry did not think anyone else would help Malfoy. Pansy had as much as confirmed it by bringing him here.
Shutters dropped over Malfoy's eyes and Harry realized he had waited too long to speak. He reached out a hand to snag the fabric of Malfoy's sleeve as the blond moved in a way that suggested he meant to shove his chair back and depart.
"No! I… I want to help," Harry said, not releasing Malfoy's sleeve. "Please, don't go."
The tugging pressure against his fingers increased for a moment and then relaxed. Malfoy studied him and then nodded. Harry felt relief that surprised him with its intensity and he found that he really did want to help Malfoy, although he realized wryly that Hermione would instantly attribute it to his "saving people thing".
"Thank you," Harry said. "Now, I need to make us some supper, so if you'll humour me by writing something down, I will reward you with my feeble attempt at cooking." Harry released Malfoy's sleeve and then impulsively put his hand on Malfoy's wrist and squeezed. For such an awkward gesture, it seemed somehow… right.
Malfoy looked at Harry's hand but did not pull away. At last, he nodded and shrugged and then Harry did let go, with a flash of something that was almost pride at the knowledge that he had touched Malfoy in a friendly fashion—and survived. Perhaps it was a new beginning.
Malfoy began to write and Harry returned to his cooking. Kreacher tried, but his skill in the kitchen was appalling, so Harry had largely taken over the chore of feeding them all. Thanks to his years of near-slavery at the Dursleys', Harry thought he was not a bad cook. Teddy, at least, never complained, except when Harry made him eat certain green vegetables, but he supposed that was to be expected.
Harry had planned to make a simple pasta dish, but with Malfoy for company, he decided to attempt pan-fried ribeye steaks and boiled potatoes. The sound of Malfoy's scratching pen was largely drowned by the sound of frying meat, so Harry made sure to glance over every so often to make sure Malfoy was still working. The blond head bent over the parchment and he wrote diligently, filling a page easily. Occasionally, Malfoy's mouth would open and his white teeth would worry at his lower lip.
The smell of food must have awakened Teddy from his nap, because he appeared in the doorway, yawning, and then made his way to the table where he crawled into Malfoy's lap. Malfoy shoved his parchment and quill away without a moment's pause, which impressed Harry, even though it was already obvious that Malfoy was taken with the boy.
Teddy's head rested on Malfoy's shoulder and he blinked sleepily, cradling his favourite sleep time toy—a plush wolf. "Wha's for supper, Uncle Harry?"
"Steak," Harry replied and stabbed a piece of the meat with a fork before depositing it onto a plate. The other two quickly followed.
"Really? Not noodles?"
"Really. Not noodles," Harry repeated with a smile. He drained the potato pot with a spell and then slid the hot tubers into a bowl before Levitating it to the table. A salad he had made earlier still sat in the crisper, so he fetched that along with a loaf of crusty bread and some butter.
"You must be special," he heard Teddy whisper loudly to Malfoy.
Dinner was a relatively quiet affair, mainly due to the fact that Malfoy could not speak and Harry was reticent to discuss anything of import in front of Teddy.
Teddy, of course, babbled almost continuously, explaining to Malfoy the intricacies of how his toys interacted with one another. He assumed the serious mien of a Hogwart's professor, only once going off on a tangent to warn Malfoy about the terrible flavour of Brussell's sprouts and how they were not meant for human consumption. He suggested that Harry ought never to make them again, even if Malfoy should happen to like them. Malfoy smiled, nodded, and appeared interested through all of it.
Harry had to smile; he had only made sprouts for Teddy on one occasion before quickly adding the items to the list of foods the boy would not touch.
After dinner and a light dessert of pear tart and custard—purchased, since Harry's cooking skill did not extend to afters—Teddy persuaded Malfoy to accompany him to his room for a game of Exploding Snap. Harry helped Kreacher clean up after the meal and then caught up on his correspondence, thinking it was rather nice to have another adult in the house to assist with childcare.
Finally, after several games, a story from Harry, and two trips down the stairs for water, Teddy went to sleep, leaving Harry to peruse the notes Malfoy had written.
I remember dressing up as a Dementor to frighten you, but I don't know why.
Harry remembered. "You were being a prat," Harry said. "I don't think you were really trying to kill me, although it might have been the end of me if Dumbledore hadn't been there. Of course, that was because real Dementors showed up." Harry explained briefly about the politics surrounding the occasion, as well as Umbridge's involvement.
Malfoy smiled. I remember Umbridge.
Harry scowled, recalling Malfoy and his minions on Umbridge's Inquisitorial Staff. "You were a bit power-mad at the time."
Malfoy snorted a laugh. His eyes gleamed with a silvery light as they bored into Harry's from across the tea table. I know Umbridge was horrible, but it was far better to be on her good side. That much I remember.
Harry instinctively rubbed his hand. The words were largely invisible now, tiny faded lines visible only in certain light, but the memory would never weaken. "You have a point there," he muttered.
Tell me about the war.
Harry drew in a short breath when he read the words. He hated to talk about the war, especially since it often resulted in nightmares brought on by his less-than pleasant memories. He supposed it wouldn't hurt to discuss Malfoy's participation in the war, in a general fashion.
"Do you remember Dumbledore?" Harry asked.
Malfoy nodded and wrote, Only vaguely. He was like Father Christmas and always seemed too bloody cheerful. I think you were his favourite. Pansy told me he was dead. Did it happen during the war?
Harry nodded, suddenly unwilling to expose Malfoy's part in that particular event. He remembered how shaken Malfoy had been as a boy, torn between duty and what he knew to be right. Harry could see it more clearly now; then he had simply hated Malfoy. Now, sitting across from him and looking into eyes that seemed nothing more than curious, Harry felt the last dregs of his anger from that event leaking away. Dumbledore had known what he was doing.
"Do you really want to know about the war?" Harry asked.
Malfoy shook his head. Are there any pleasant memories of us?
Harry laughed at the question, amazed. "Us? As in you and me?" Malfoy nodded and Harry shook his head. "There was no us. We were never friends."
Malfoy's open expression seemed to close in upon itself, making Harry regret his words. He sought for something to say while Malfoy wrote, but the blond got to his feet and handed Harry the page. I'm very tired. Thank you for allowing me to stay. I'll try to find another place tomorrow.
Harry stood and put out a placating hand. "No. Wait, that's not what I meant. I mean, we weren't friends then, and it's not like we are now, but I said I would help you and I was serious. I am serious. I want—I would like it if you stayed."
Harry tugged a hand through his hair, hardly believing he was practically begging Draco Malfoy to stay. Malfoy grimaced, but wrote nothing, giving Harry no hint as to his thoughts. Finally, Malfoy sighed and nodded before turning and making his way to the doorway and up the stairs. Harry heard the bedroom door shut and sat back down with a sigh, wondering what he had gotten himself into and why it seemed so important to stick with it.