A Soul Search
(Part one of... two or maybe three, not sure yet.)
(Rated M for the possibility of all things going bad, and mostly safety)
(Contains DM/HP, and mention of GW/HP, currently drinking and some language.)
"Mr. Potter, I have an assignment for you." Kingsley said, striding into Harry's office. The Auror looked up expectantly; it had to be something interesting for Kingsley himself to come to Harry.
"Sorry sir, but I'm still working on the paperwork from the last case." Harry said, motioning to the monstrous stacks of paper. Kingsley looked it over and nodded.
"It won't be a problem, simply give a pensive memory to me and I'll have someone else take care of it." Harry's eyes widened a bit at this. What was so important that the Head of the Department was actually giving him special treatment? Normally Shacklebolt was half again as hard on Harry as any other Auror to 'keep things fair'.
"Well what's the case then?" Harry asked, and a huge folder was dropped on his desk.
"You see, we've recently been given suspicion that an old friend of yours has been making love potions." Shacklebolt said, as Harry opened the cover to see Malfoy's scowling face.
"I'd hardly call him a friend." Harry grimaced, skimming over the details. "But I'd hardly say a love potion is reason to involve Aurors."
"Yes, well, keep reading."
'Malfoy's Magic Mate Matcher Potion, available to you now for only…'
"Sir this has a typo." Harry grumbled, counting the zeros again.
"No typo my boy. Continue."
'50,000 galleons. This potion guarantees to give you a wonderful vision of your soul mate. This person is REAL and is out there, and really you can't put a price on love. So come now, find out your soul mate so that you can reach your happily-ever-after like many other patrons.'
"So he's selling high priced hallucinogens." Harry grumbled looking up at Shacklebolt, truly not comprehending the reason he was being involved.
"These 'hallucinogens' as you call them, have an interesting rating. One hundred percent of the people who have taken the potion have found 'true love' and are living with, engaged to, or have otherwise married to their 'soul mate'." Shacklebolt said. Harry's eyes widened a bit. "One hundred percent, minus the inventor of the potion."
"I'll get right on it sir." Harry said standing up.
"Now Harry, we've had our labs test the potion, and there's nothing in it that could cause a reaction other than what the potions seems to be made for. We need you to have Malfoy show you exactly how it was made. He's promised to co-operate with us, but if you think he so much as looks guilty of hiding something, I want you to arrest him and bring him in for an interrogation under veritaserum."
"Absolutely." Harry nodded.
"And Harry, you should know, it was on your word that Malfoy was allowed to stay a free man. If he goes to prison for this…"
"I understand." Harry said, hurrying out the door.
Harry stood outside the door of a three story house, white columns stretched up its front to the roof, and the windows were all dark, as if glaring at him.
"Hello Aur—Oh it's just you Potter, well then come in. I suppose I should have expected as much." Malfoy finished with a grumble as he opened the door to Harry.
"Malfoy, I don't know what you're up to-"
"Well then you're obviously not as good of an Auror as the Prophet makes you out to be." Malfoy interrupted with a smirk. Harry scowled.
"But if you pull anything, I will have you in Azkaban so fast your head spins." Harry growled.
"Of course, of course. I can't imagine things look too good for you right now anyway." Malfoy said, and his smirk almost seemed to be an honest smile. "Now if you'll follow me I'll take you to the lab and show you how the potion is brewed. Of course it is patented, so any use of it without my say so would devastated you financially, you understand."
"Sorry Malfoy, but that will have to wait until we gather all of the ingredients first." Harry said, and he felt himself smile as Malfoy's face dropped.
"Potter, that might take weeks! I normally just have most of them shipped to me!" Malfoy grumbled.
"Well any one that comes from an Apothecary can be tested there, so we won't need to worry about those. Just show me the ones you gather by hand." Harry said. Malfoy grimaced but couldn't argue without ending up in Azkaban.
"As you wish, follow me then." He grumbled. He kept his head high as he walked through the house, and Harry could hardly believe how messy it was. There were clothes everywhere, and food on plates that should have been washed. As they walked through the kitchen Harry wondered if Malfoy didn't brew in here, the whole room was a disaster area, cluttered and covered in filth.
"Appearances can be deceiving." He muttered about the house and Malfoy scowled at him.
"I would appreciate it if you don't comment about what you don't understand." Draco grumbled as he opened the door to a lawn completely covered in dandelions.
"Forget to tip your gardener?" Harry asked, looking out at the unkempt lawn.
"Acio Wished on dandelion seeds." Draco said, ignoring Harry's comment. A moment later what looked like a backwards snowfall drifted out of the ground and to Draco, hovering and compressing until it was the size of an orb. Draco nodded and cast a compacting spell so that the ball of fluff wouldn't fall apart when it was touched.
"The first ingredient is the wish of an innocent." Draco said, handing the ball to Harry.
"And how do you manage that?" Harry asked, already putting the ball of fluff into a special evidence bag that would keep it from contamination. "You're hardly innocent."
"Uncle Harry?" A voice rose up out of the fields of dandelions. Harry's eyes whipped from his godson to Malfoy and back again.
"Teddy!" He said, forcing a smile on his face as the boy charged into his legs. "What are you doing here?"
"Silly Uncle Harry! I live here!" Teddy laughed and Harry couldn't keep the frown from his face this time as he picked the boy up, cradling the… was he five years old now, boy in his arms.
"What do you mean you live here, what happened to Andromeda?" Harry asked, looking the boy over for signs of neglect or abuse.
"Aunty Andromeda got really sick, so she asked Uncle Draco to move in with him. He's letting us stay free of charge, but Aunty Andromeda sometimes pays the bills since Uncle Draco doesn't have any money."
Malfoy blushed a bit at the boy and then scowled.
"Now Teddy, what have I told you about talking about that sort of thing." Draco said with an air of authority.
"It doesn't matter, cause Uncle Harry will make it all better. He always does. The first time I fell off my training broom he used magic and I didn't hurt at all!" Teddy beamed and then began to squirm in Harry's arms. "Uncle Haaarry, let me down! I wanna go back to playing with the other kids."
With another frown Harry slowly let the boy out of his arms, watching as the boy raced off into the field of dandelions once more.
"Explain yourself Malfoy." Harry snarled, his wand out as soon as the boy was out of sight. Malfoy sighed and shrugged.
"That's just about it. Andromeda could hardly take care of herself, let alone Teddy so she asked to move in with me. I agreed. One day when I was thinking about potions, babysitting Teddy, I watched him blow on a dandelion puff. It got me thinking about innate magic and the implications of desires on potions ingredients, all well beyond you I'm sure, but I thought I might be able to use the dandelion seeds as a way to make a wishing potion. It was only after several more discoveries that I found I could make a Soul Mate potion instead." Malfoy said turning as if he was going back in the house.
"Teddy mentioned other children." Harry pointed out, still not lowering his wand.
"Well, honestly I couldn't ask Teddy to just stand around blowing on dandelions all day, so I started a daycare of sorts." Malfoy said, and this time did disappear back into the house.
"Who's watching the children?" Harry yelled, sounding outraged.
"Honestly Potter, do you think I'm such a git that I would leave children to fend for themselves? I've hired a few workers who watch them, all capable and all answering to Andromeda. She's been doing a bit better, not that you asked, says she enjoys telling the employees what to do. Yelling at them is more like it though."
Harry blushed now, still angry and more than slightly embarrassed. He hadn't known any of this was happening, to his own godson no less. He wondered what else had been going on in his life when he'd been otherwise involved with work as an Auror.
"Come on now, I'm not allowed to sell any more potions until this is all sorted out, so I'd prefer if you hurried along." Malfoy grumbled, moving back through the house and out the front door.
"Where are we going now?" Harry asked, following the man.
"Excuse me?" Harry asked, stopping just outside the door. Malfoy sighed and cocked his weight back on one hip.
"Hogwarts you twit. You know, that place we went to school? Big towers, dark lake, fought a battle there?" Malfoy said, his voice drawling and his eyes hooded in lazy contempt.
"I know what you said, but why?" Harry asked, still not moving.
"Two of the key ingredients are there." He sighed and continued to walk, not caring whether or not Potter followed him. He did of course follow, but only so he could continue to pester the blonde.
"What do you need from there?" Harry asked warily.
"Shut up and hold on, I have special apparition authority." Malfoy muttered, grabbing Harry's arm and sending them twisting through space to the castle.
"Special apparition authority!" Harry's voice pitched as he looked around.
"It happens when the last of your money is used to rebuild a wing or two of a school." Malfoy grumbled and took off towards Hagrids shack.
"Now where are we going?" Harry asked. He didn't expect it when Malfoy whirled around on him, wand pointed and eyes deadly.
"I swear to Merlin Potter, one more unnecessary question from you and you won't be able to sit down for a month!" Malfoy snarled, his bored façade gone. Harry stuttered, not out of fright, no he'd faced much worse than an angry school rival, but out of curiosity. He didn't touch his wand but merely nodded. Malfoy looked him over warily and put his wand away. "Thank you."
That, Harry had not been expecting. He was glad the blonde had turned back around, because when those two words exited Malfoy's mouth, his own mouth fell open. This was not the same boy he knew from Hogwarts. Something was different about him.
"Malfoy? I thought I 'erd an apparition. Fawks isn't 'ere right now, but I'll call 'im back in a moment or two." Hagrid said as he made his way out of his shack and towards the two standing in the field. "What's that, bring someone wit' ya? Is that—Harry! How are you! It's been quite a while 'asn't it?" Hagrid grinned, wrapping his arms around the man as if he was still an eleven year old boy.
"Nice to see you too Hagrid." Harry grunted when he was allowed air again.
"What're ya doin' here?" Hagrid asked looking from Draco to Harry in an puzzled fashion.
"I have to check out Malfoy's potion. There's a rumor going around that it's less than scrupulous and- that it's not any good Hagrid, and so they assigned me to check it out." Harry said, corrected himself at Hagrid's confused face.
"Ah, well then you'll defiantly be here to see Fawks, just a moment then." Hagrid grinned and put two fingers to his mouth, blowing hard. Harry winced and put his hands over his ears at the sound. "Ah, sorry 'bout that, forgot you weren't used to it. 'Ere he comes."
Harry looked up to see a bird he never thought he would see again gliding in to land on Draco's shoulder.
"Fawks, as in the phoenix Fawks, as in Doumbledor's Fawks?" Harry asked.
"At's the one. He'd been a tame bird so long, and 'e really liked the school you see, so he comes to visit a lot. And when Draco came up with a potion to find soul mates that needed phoenix feathers, well he came back here to see what happened to Fawks."
Harry had only absorbed part of the information, he was too busy watching Draco feed the bird little bits of something from his pocket.
"Diamonds, phoenix love to eat 'em. Only thing they can use in their crop ya know." Hagrid said, looking at the two. Harry's eyes were still fixed on Malfoy's hands, watching as they stroked the bird, and then ruffled the feathers a bit. A few bits of downy feathers fell off the bird, who gave a trill before taking off again. Malfoy watched the bird go before reaching down and grabbing the feathers.
"Down from a Phoenix." He said simply. "For the immortality of soul mates."
Harry nodded, and took the feathers as they were handed to him. He put them in the evidence bag, just as he had the dandelions.
"We normally try to harvest them just before he molts, that way he won't miss them any. He doesn't seem to mind so long as he gets his snack." Draco said and bowed slightly to Hagrid. "Thank you for taking care of him."
"No problem Draco, you know I love it." Hagrid beamed. "Are you going to Romania next?"
"Shortly, but you know McGonagall won't let you have a dragon." Draco said with a soft smile.
"I know that, just wondering if you couldn't take a couple pictures for me of that new one they been workin with." Hagrid muttered, though it was clear he really had wanted another dragon.
"I'll do my best." Draco said. "Good bye Hagrid."
"Bye Draco, bye Harry. And Harry, it'd be nice to see you again sometime."
Harry nodded to his friend and hurried off after Draco, who was striding along the grounds of the castle as if he owned it.
Harry had been busy, ever since he had entered Auror training. His life had been a blur of classes, work outs, field exercises and finally cases. Life outside of work had drifted to the wayside, not as important as taking care of the innocents. He tried to remember now the last time he'd seen Teddy before today, or the last time he had met Hagrid for tea and rock cakes. Brow twisted up in concentration, he still couldn't remember the dates. And speaking of dates, when was the last time he and Ginny had gone out?
"Hurry up Potter, Sprout doesn't like it when I bring guests unannounced." Malfoy said, waving the Auror forward as he knocked on the greenhouse door. A moment later the short Hufflepuff woman peeked out from behind the door and a large grin spread over her face.
"Draco! It's been too long, come in, come in." The woman grinned, waving her wand, and Harry felt a cascade of wards fall down. "Care to have tea? Oh… wait… you brought someone?"
Harry felt the wards pull back up immediately, and his former professor looked him over warily, eyes tracing his whole body before she flicked her wand in an unfamiliar fashion. Before Harry could act a cold wave of magic fell over him, probing him and nudging him, immobilizing him before it fell off of him all together.
"Mr. Potter." The woman spoke coldly and the wards fell again, but not all of them. "This is a surprise, what are you doing here?"
"I'm investigating Malfoy's potion." Harry said simply, following the blond into the room.
"I assure you, there's nothing wrong with that potion." Sprout said, her eyes fierce. Harry paused; he'd only ever seen her look this way when she was defending her own beloved Hufflepuffs.
"I'm afraid it's Auror business." He said gently as possible, but the little witch did not seem put at ease.
"Easy Pomona, I don't mind." Malfoy smiled, setting a hand on the woman's shoulder. Harry watched as she tensed at first before her stress seemed to melt away.
"Well, if you're sure you don't mind Draco… I suppose you need access to the belladonna?"
"That would be wonderful." The man said gently. He managed to not patronize her, but at the same time there was a sense of comforting coming from him. The small witch smiled and bustled about the room for a few moments, gathering shears and a few other gardening odds and ends, before leading them out to the green houses.
A complex series of wand motions made the greenhouse shiver for a moment before all the wards fell off of it, like water washing off around a stone. The Professor hurried in, and Draco followed at a leisurely gate, his eyes traveling back and forth as he inspected the plants. Finally they stopped in front of a set of familiar looking plants, belladonna.
"How much do you need dear?" The witch asked, looking over the leaves carefully. There was something strange about this belladonna though, and Harry realized that the flowers on it were silver. Pink belladonna they had used in healing potions, purple they used in poisons, but he'd never heard of silver belladonna.
"Just enough for one batch." Draco said, petting the flowers. Sprout nodded and clipped off a few leaves and berries, handing them to Draco. The man caressed the leaves gently before handing them off again. "Potter."
Harry took the plant and was putting it in the bag when the difference struck him. The leaves were soft, like velvet, and the petals smooth as silk, the berries plump and ready to pop.
"What is this?" He asked, going through his herbology in his head. He'd never heard of a plant that looked like belladonna but felt like this.
"Neutralized belladonna. It is neither poisonous nor healing, but magical in its sense of balance. It helps find the balance that soul mates need." Draco said, stroking one of the plants again. Harry nodded and put the parts in the evidence bag.
"Will that be all Draco?" Sprout asked, looking a bit saddened.
"Yes, thank you Pomona." Draco smiled, patting the woman's shoulder. She smiled gently and then turned, giving Harry a stern look.
"I hope this is the last bit of trouble you'll be giving him." She said, chin in the air before stalking out of the greenhouse.
"You'll have to excuse Ms. Sprout, she's never been quite the same since the Battle of Hogwarts. She's very nervous now, spends all her time with the plants. Neville had to replace her as Herbology Professor, but Minerva couldn't stand to throw the woman out, so she takes care of all the plants on the grounds." Malfoy explained as he moved back down the isles to the door of the green house. "The sun's setting."
Harry followed the man and paused at the door, looking out as the sun was, indeed dripping lower and lower over the lake. The sky was lit up with a thousand colors, and the clouds were shimmering like enchanted gossamer. He turned to Malfoy to say that they would continue tomorrow, but the words shriveled up in his throat.
The colors of the sky played themselves over the man's face, making him look enchanted. His blond hair was practically spun gold in the light and his eyes were mercury against the peaches and lavenders that washed over his skin. His profile was sharp, like mountains cutting through the sky, proud and defiant of the way things were suppose to be. But there were circles there, under his eyes, purple bruises from rubbing at his face too much, and his cheeks were too hollow. He looked under fed, and stressed, but somehow still magnificent…
"Potter?" Malfoy asked, turning to him. With a small smirk the man set a finger on the bottom of Harry's chin, and he wondered for a moment if he was going to be pulled in for a kiss. But then a slight pressure was applied, until Harry found that his teeth clacked back together, closed. "You shouldn't gape so, a pixie might find your mouth a nice abode."
Harry blushed slightly, hoping the colors of the sky would mask it.
"Ah… I'll see you tomorrow?" Harry asked, rather dumbly.
"I have to take you home first." Malfoy smirked, but it wasn't a cruel smirk. "You can't apparate out of here, and I might as well bring you all the way back, as it's doubtlessly closer than my abode."
Harry paused, about to object before conceding that it was significantly less dangerous to apparate in smaller jumps. He nodded and gave Malfoy the coordinates to his apartment just on the outside of London. He jerked a bit when Malfoy dropped an arm around his waist, before remembering that the more contact that was had when doing side alongs, the less likely you were to get splinched.
They landed with a muffled crack and Harry steadied himself a bit, somehow it had been a rather more dizzying apperation that most. Looking up at the large brick building he frowned. He could always tell his room apart from the rest, the general lack of anything in the windows was a telling factor, as was the fact that the shades were always drawn and the blinds always closed.
"Potter," Malfoy said, bringing Harry back to reality. "If you would be so kind as to not show up until eleven tomorrow, I would be much obliged. I know you most likely want to get this case over with quickly, but I'd rather the parents whose children come to the daycare didn't see you sniffing about."
Harry nodded, not sure what else to say. He would have to start working on the case file tomorrow anyway, so it would work out well enough. He studied Malfoy, looking for that ethereal quality that had effected him earlier, by the lake, but here, in the grimy streets, he looked just the same as always. Shaking his head he chided himself for such thoughts. This was Malfoy after all.
"Right, see you tomorrow then." He nodded and watched as the man popped out of existence.
He climbed the stairs to his room slowly, absurdly tired though the case hadn't been particularly stressful. Waving his wand silently the wards dropped and he entered the room. A dozen or so unopened letters were waiting for him on the kitchen table, a few from Ron and Hermione, but most of them were junk. Sitting down he cast a few precautionary spells before opening a few of them. Ron's letter went on about how the Cannons were doing, and how he couldn't wait to go back home and see Hermione and the children, and would Harry stop by when he was home. On the other hand Hermione's letter went on about how the children were doing, and that they hadn't seen him in a while, and did he know Ginny was engaged?
He dropped the letter, stunned, and then reread it and checked the date on the letter. It was about three days old, and tried to process what the letter had said. Ginny had met some chap a few months ago and they had gotten on wonderfully, and Hermione thought it was all too soon, but Ginny seemed happy, and the man was nice.
Standing up, Harry went to the cupboard and opened it, grabbing a bottle of Fire-whiskey and moved to the cabinet. He had the glass down before he turned away from it, opening the bottle and pouring it down his throat.
Merlin, how long had it really been since he'd seen Ginny? He hadn't even remembered breaking up, but now that he thought about it, he did remember her saying that if he missed one more date they were over… God, that had been about a year ago. Harry set the bottle down and wiped his mouth before going over the other letters. Most were invitations, would he come and speak at an event, or did he want to work for this department or that. He sunk into a familiar drinking game, every time the word hero was used he took another swig of whiskey and before he knew it, he was trashed, laying out drunk on the kitchen table.
((Comments? Questions? Concerns? Please review!))