Title: Crimes of Passion
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairings: Harry/Draco (past and present), past Harry/Ginny and Draco/Astoria
Warnings: Violence, sex, heavy angst, profanity, torture. Epilogue-compliant.
Summary: Draco was foolish enough to believe that his love affair with Harry Potter would last forever once it began. Then Harry committed a stupid, thoughtless crime that nearly resulted in two murders and left the wizarding world. Draco never knew why. Now Harry is back, but not contacting Draco—and Draco is determined to find out all the reasons.
Author's Notes: This will be an irregularly-updated fic of, probably, five or six parts. It gets pretty angsty in places; fair warning.
Crimes of Passion
Part One: As It Was
"Did you hear the news, Father?"
Draco didn't bother glancing up from the Prophet that he was reading. It was yesterday's, but that didn't matter. He hadn't come home until late yesterday evening, as usual, and being a day late with the news rarely troubled him anymore. He heard most of the rumors that mattered to his particular group at the meetings, after all.
And Scorpius was always willing to update him with the latest gossip.
"What news?" he asked absently, picking up a scone covered with butter and biting into it. He had to sigh as the thick, warm taste gathered in his mouth. He had never appreciated good food when he was younger, often bolting it because he wanted to get to Quidditch practice or a game of chess with his friends or a political meeting—all of them things that he thought more important than meals. Now he had pity for his child-self. How many wonderful meals had he missed, how many tastes had it taken him years to learn to savor, because of his impatience?
"Harry Potter's returned," Scorpius said with a certain relish. There was a nasty chuckle in the back of his voice. "After four years of exile. Imagine! The paper is having a field day with it already."
Draco discovered then that food could still taste ashy and unimportant when you were forty-seven years old. He lowered his scone and his paper both and stared at his son, who smiled back at him, fingers tapping on the edge of his plate as he waited for his father's reaction.
"What?" Draco whispered.
"I thought that would get your attention," Scorpius said with satisfaction. "Yes, here's the article." He held out the paper from that day, and Draco actually dropped his old one in the butter in his haste to reach it. Scorpius chuckled again and called for a house-elf to clean it up while Draco scanned the article Scorpius had been talking about.
It would have been impossible to miss, although Draco was grateful that Scorpius had prepared him so that he didn't simply pick up this Prophet tomorrow and stumble on it. On the front page was a headline that screamed SAVIOR RETURNS! The smaller one beneath it said, in letters that looked as if they would like to grow bigger and overtake the headline, Mysterious Cause of Exile Still Unknown!
Draco snorted to himself. He knew exactly why Potter had left the wizarding world. He had done something stupid and terrible when he came across two teenagers trying to sneak into the Ministry. He had all but tortured them, not using the Unforgivables but using Dark curses that were close to them. They would have died if someone hadn't found them and taken them to St. Mungo's no more than an hour later.
He stared at the headline and read a few words of the article until it came to him what he had been consciously avoiding. He couldn't do that, not with his son watching him. He took a deep breath and looked at the photograph that the Prophet had chosen to illustrate the article, half-hoping it would be an older one he knew, so that he could prepare himself.
It wasn't. It was a new one, and showed Potter ducking his face and whirling away, tucking an arm around his face as though that would lessen the guilt he should rightfully be suffering from. Draco had enough time to see the strands of silver that flickered among the dark curls now and the lines etched into his face.
Lines of suffering, Draco thought automatically. He had once known Potter well enough to recognize them as distinct from lines of mere age or laughter.
He flinched when that thought came to him. He had never really known Potter at all, he reminded himself sternly, not when he hadn't realized he was living and lying in bed with someone capable of cold-blooded torture. He had been fooled, just like everyone else. He had thought Potter was heroic, sacrificing, and more compassionate and courageous than Draco had believed he was in Hogwarts, given the way that he had been the one to approach Draco about fancying him after their divorces.
That "little fancy" had grown into a five-year love affair. The love affair Draco had once thought would last for decades.
"Are you all right, Father?"
Scorpius's voice was casual, but when Draco glanced up, it was to find his son's burning eyes fixed on him. Draco could understand why. He hadn't raised Scorpius in the same way that his father had raised him, and perhaps because of that, Scorpius was more like Lucius than Draco had ever been. He understood weakness and forgave it more readily in strangers than in his own family members.
"Yes, of course," Draco said, and folded the paper up and laid it next to his plate so that he could still see the photograph. Potter ducked away, and Draco shook his head. If he feels that guilty, why did he come back? Why did the Ministry allow him back, if his leaving was really a sentence of exile for his crime? Even Potter's trial and punishment had been shrouded n secrecy, never mind his motivation. "Surprised, that's all. I never thought I would see him again."
"Well, technically you haven't," Scorpius pointed out. "You don't have to see him ever again. It's not as though he would come back to the Manor."
"No," Draco said. "I put up wards against his entrance the moment he left for the Muggle world."
Scorpius smiled at him and went back to eating his breakfast. Draco glanced at the picture again. What he had told Scorpius wasn't true, but then again, Scorpius had never been that good at spotting lies. He had grown up in a world largely freed from the necessity of them once his parents divorced.
Ten years ago, that had been, a year before Potter came to him and confessed that he fancied Draco. Draco and Astoria had gone from King's Cross, where they had seen Scorpius board the train, and signed the papers.
Draco wondered what her reaction to the news would be. She and he had never really spoken again after they divorced; Draco had had the impression that she wouldn't want to be bothered with his small and petty problems. Now and then she visited Scorpius or sent him a gift, but Scorpius spent as much time at his own small house as he did at the Manor now, so his parents didn't have to cross paths.
It seems that the world has arranged things so that I don't have to meet either of my old lovers again, Draco thought, and then turned his mind forcefully away from that thought. It wasn't as though losing Potter had meant the same thing that losing Astoria did. He and Potter had been lovers, yes, in love, yes, but in the end, he hadn't known who Potter was, and he hadn't understood him.
It was best that exile separated them.
For a moment, the Potter in the photograph seemed to turn and look straight at him. Draco rolled his eyes at the abounding power of his own imagination and folded the paper over so that he could read the story on the second page.
"We've been warned that the Wizengamot might be considering a new law to restrict the sale of love potions," said Amanda Galloway, leaning forwards to rap her long, pointed nails on the table.
Draco concealed a groan as he wrote in the words on the list of notes he was responsible for keeping. "What's next?" he muttered. "A restriction on the sale of potions to grow wings?"
"You can't deny that there are experiments that have come close to being true love potions in the last year or so," said Mark Ringer at once. He sat on Draco's left and was leaning in aggressively as always, his jaw jutting out as though he would use it to smash through Draco's objections, or possibly his mere presence. "And there's no guarantee that the Wizengamot will interpret this new law as widely as it did the last one, to cover other potions."
That caused a string of unhappy murmurs from around the table. Draco smiled. He had made sure, over the years, that there was no more malicious edge to his smile, because that might give away his intentions. "Very well, Ringer. Then I place you in charge of investigating the genesis of the new law, and, if need be, finding a solicitor and barrister who can work for us in coming up with a legal objection against it."
Ringer stared at him in wounded betrayal. Draco simply kept up his smile, nodding slightly as he caught Galloway's approving eye. If someone was going to protest, get in the way, and make trouble, then they ought to be prepared to be of use. People like Ringer never were, of course. They wanted to have the pleasure of complaining and none of the work of finding a solution.
As the meeting of the United Potions Masters of Great Britain began to break up, Galloway stepped up beside Draco and lowered her voice. "I have something to talk to you about."
Draco nodded and pretended to be busy with his notes while the others left. He didn't normally keep a lot of secrets from them, but political caution was ingrained in him by now. They hadn't made as many strides as they could have in the last few years, perhaps, especially in persuading the public that certain "dangerous" potions either didn't exist or weren't Dark, but they hadn't lost ground, either, and they had achieved some respectable victories. It sounded as though what Galloway wanted to talk to him about might feed into another of those.
But when Galloway moved towards him, the expression on her face didn't indicate any political concern. It was rather…personal, in fact. Draco straightened his back and regarded her in silence. He had generally resisted any advances that wizards or witches made in the last four years. He needed no one's pity. Yes, he had divorced Astoria and lost Potter, but he was far from the first wizard to go through such trials.
They didn't often happen to Malfoys, granted. But Draco considered himself a successful Malfoy nonetheless, since he had safely raised one child to adulthood and hadn't died in the Dark Lord's war. True, he would feel safer when Scorpius chose his own partner and had his own child, something that showed no signs of happening yet.
"Have you heard about those who have seen Potter?" Galloway was even more self-conscious than Draco, checking around the room before she spoke.
Draco arched his eyebrows. "Near the Ministry, wasn't it? So they would have to be Aurors. I would imagine they'd want to question him on why he broke exile." He noted approvingly that his voice didn't tremble and his palms weren't sweating.
"I didn't think you knew," Galloway said, twining her fingers together. Her face was long and narrow, not naturally made for expressions of sympathy, but at the moment, she was trying. "They—your neighbors, Malfoy. They saw him near the Manor."
Draco narrowed his eyes, but said aloud only, "How interesting."
Inside his head, a cacophony had begun to bay and yelp, but he quieted it with a thought. It was important that he not reveal his weakness to someone who might take advantage of it. Galloway was as much a friend as Draco thought he had in his group—the rest were political allies and comrades in the cause of getting others to see that not all Potions decreed as such by the Ministry were dangerous and Dark, as well as fighting for more freedom and congenial conditions under which to work and brew—but she might seize an advantage over him. The only way to keep that from happening was to give her no chance to find one.
So he smiled and shook his head. "He must still think of the bond we shared with fondness," he said.
"You were one of the last people to defend him, I heard." Galloway leaned forwards, eyes piercing as she looked at him. "One of the last to believe that he was innocent."
Draco gave a choppy nod, but he wagered that it looked fairly normal to someone who, like Galloway, didn't have reason to suspect why it should be otherwise. "Yes. I was naturally reluctant to believe that someone I loved and trusted had done such a thing. I let my defense go when I learned the truth, of course."
Never mind that it had taken a private confession from Potter, a confession that Draco still didn't like to think on even now. Galloway didn't need to know that.
"Could he have sought you out for that reason?" Galloway frowned. "Because he believes that you might still defend him, and he needs powerful friends to return to the wizarding world?"
The moment she said it, Draco relaxed. He had been tense with the unanticipated appearance, tense with the thought of what Potter might ask him to do, but now it made sense. "Of course," he said. "But he is mistaken if he thinks to find a friend in me."
Galloway gave him a smile. "I notice that you didn't deny your power, though you might have, a few years ago."
Draco smiled back, and they began to talk about whether Draco should go over Ringer's head and do the legwork on researching the new law himself, which left the conversation they had been having in the dust entirely. Draco was grateful for it. He didn't want to think about what he might have given away.
Despite what he had managed to convey, Galloway's information was new to him. He had to get to a quiet place and think it through before he could decide how he would react.
When he did have that quiet place, his own drawing room in the Manor—a place that Scorpius never came, and neither had Astoria when they were married—he leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. He knew that he would have to prepare for Potter contacting him if he wanted to use Draco's good name, socially earned since the war, as a defense.
What would he do? What would he say?
It didn't take him long to decide, and didn't cost him the kind of painful fuming or hesitating that it would have even ten years ago. He was grown, now. He wasn't a helpless child whose offer of friendship had just been turned down. The worst that would happen was Potter contacting him and Draco, with a cool smile, reminding Potter that he had burned his bridges with Draco four years ago.
Scorpius stood in the doorway of the drawing room, staring at him intently. Draco stared back at him, startled and displeased. While Scorpius technically hadn't violated the sanctity of the room by crossing into it, he had never even opened the door without knocking before. Draco wondered what had changed.
"Son." His voice was cold despite himself, and Scorpius seemed to transform into a child again, moving backwards with a little fidget and a tiny bow of his head.
"Um, sorry," he said. "But I wondered what you were going to do if Potter showed up at your door." And his eyes were oddly bright again, even as he turned his head to the side and looked at Draco from beneath his hair, biting his lip.
Draco sighed. Perhaps Scorpius thought he should never have been involved with Potter in the first place, that it would have been simpler for everyone if he had remained single after Astoria. Draco could see the merit to that view, considering the way things had worked out.
But another thing he no longer spent time on now that he was an adult involved the endless regretting of his mistakes and chewing over of the consequences as if they were all his fault. Yes, he wished he hadn't accepted Potter into his home and his heart, if it came to that. But it didn't matter. His emotions were much less important than his actions.
If nothing else, gaining standing again in the Ministry and wizarding society had taught him that bit.
"I'll turn him away," Draco said, rising to his feet. "And teach him that he needn't think he can look for support from me, when he's the one who caused the trouble and then wouldn't tell me why." That was the last spasm of old anger and fear, the worst. Potter had tried to excuse himself with feeble "reasons" for why he had committed his crime, sure, but nothing that made sense for the man Draco had known, which forced him to conclude that all their togetherness had been a lie.
"Oh. Good." Scorpius's smile was brilliant this time. "I'll bet you show him that you're not soft when he shows up!"
But Draco never got the chance, because Potter didn't show up.
Oh, there were still rumors of him appearing around the Manor; Draco's nearest wizarding neighbors said that he was so often in Wiltshire, standing on a hill at a distance or sneaking past their wards and guardian magical creatures, that he never seemed to leave it. And the papers were rehashing the story of their old love affair, and the way that Draco had defended Potter at first, before abruptly backing off.
That second, at least, Draco had anticipated. He always had the choice not to read the papers, and the wards around the Manor kept away Howlers from people who weren't already friends or related to him by blood. Skeeter was the only reporter who might have been bold enough to try and corner him in his brief journeys between his meetings or the shops in Diagon Alley and the Manor, and she and Draco had had an altercation a few years ago that left her with an excellent understanding of what would happen if she tried. So Draco could ignore that part of it if he wanted.
But why Potter would come to his country and then not to his house…
It puzzled Draco, and it bothered him, but he didn't let it take over his life the way he might have a few years ago. He read, and he studied, and he ate the delicious meals that the house-elves prepared for him, and he slept at night with a clear conscience. He might wonder why Potter was there, yes, but he had nothing to fear from his mere presence.
Scorpius didn't seem to think so. Every time Draco looked up, his son's critical eyes were on him. But Draco was also used to that, and able to shrug it off. Scorpius always had been more like Lucius, sure that he would have done things differently and better in Draco's place. Draco found it no trouble to accept the implied comparison and go on.
Scorpius was young; things like honor and social reputation mattered more to him. Draco was actually quite relieved to be out of that phase of his life.
He did think, however, that he was no better at living with uncertainty than he had ever been. Potter had shown up near his house. That must mean he had come for some important reason. Draco wished that he would show up and get it over with.
When Potter didn't, Draco thought he had only one choice, but he wasn't sure it would work. So he acted without Scorpius knowing about it. That way, at least, he wouldn't have to stand before the judging eyes of his son.
His own judgments still hurt less.
The old spell that they had invented, the one that would track the other's wand core, still worked. And while Draco knew, intellectually, that there could be other wizards out there who had phoenix feathers in their wand cores similar to the one that Potter possessed, he still believed that the way the wand tensed and rang in his hand indicated there was only one person he could be growing close to.
He came around the base of one of the small hills that guarded the Manor from a casual approach, and found Potter standing there, staring towards the fence that marked the boundaries of the gardens. His eyes were bright and sick with longing, and his wand was in his hand, but pointing at the ground.
Draco waited, to see if this was a trap and Potter would react to his appearance in a moment. But nothing happened. Potter just kept standing there, sick and weak, until Draco couldn't stand it any longer and cleared his throat loudly.
Potter leaped in the air and whirled around. He landed panting like a startled rabbit, staring directly at Draco.
Draco shuddered as the recognition went through him the way fear had apparently gone through Potter. Yes, this was the man he had seen in the photograph in the Prophet, with some strangeness about his face. But it was also still the man he had fallen in love with, if a wild-eyed, shadowy version of him. Potter had beard stubble growing all over his chin, which he would never have had in the old days since Draco hated it, but that jaw remained the same.
His eyes had acquired new terrors, but their color was still the same, and Draco was half-sure he saw a familiar flicker of desire in them, too.
"Draco," Potter whispered, his eyes flicking down as if he wanted to check that he still stood on the solid earth instead of floating in space. "Why did you—you must have known that you would be better off avoiding me."
Draco didn't know which it was, Potter's use of his first name or his half-threat, but he abruptly lost his temper.
Flicking his wand, he Summoned Potter's wand. Potter let it go without expression, though he watched with those same wide, watery eyes as Draco caught it. Draco didn't put it away, because he had no intention of keeping it. He was going to have a short conversation with Potter, shame him into stating why he was here, and then do his best to throw him out of the wizarding world so that he would never have to see the idiot again.
"You thought that spying on me would make me feel sorry for you?" Draco shook his head, his mouth drawing down into a sneer. It had been a while since he had done that regularly, but he still knew how to do it, and felt an old, bitter pride at the thought. "You know nothing about me. I knew nothing about you. And that was the whole trouble," he added. He knew Potter must have been deliberately lying to him the whole time they had been lovers, though Draco still hadn't figured out how he had done that. Potter was such a poor liar that Draco should have known at once if he attempted to pull off something even half that ambitious.
"I wasn't spying on you," Potter said. His emphasis fell on odd words within the sentence, and he took a step nearer, reaching for his wand. He seemed surprised when Draco rapped him sharply across the knuckles with the hawthorn wand.
"I wasn't spying on you," Potter repeated, and glared at Draco as if he should just simply accept his word for it, as if everything else he had done wasn't clue enough that he shouldn't be trusted. Draco sneered again. The young part of himself, everything that Potter appealed to, was rising to the surface, and at the moment, he didn't see why he should stop it.
"You'll excuse me for wondering what you're doing here, then," he said, "when my house is the only wizarding dwelling in the county that you used to visit regularly."
Potter half-closed his eyes, and the expression of anguish on his face looked as if it were genuine. Draco nodded, a little impressed, but not about to actually believe in Potter or anything like that.
"If I told you," Potter muttered, "it would negate the whole point of lying to you in the first place."
Draco laughed without humor. "What are you lying about now? Other than not spying on me, that is. And I know what you did. I had no choice about knowing." Thick bitterness choked him and surprised him, a little. He hadn't known how much he still cared about the deception that Potter had tricked him with. He should have been able to let it go, but he couldn't, and the hatred for what Potter had done burned in the center of his chest.
"Right," Potter said. Draco opened his eyes-when had they closed?-quickly enough to surprise a nearly identical expression of bitterness on Potter's face.
Draco shook his head. "State your real purpose for being here, or I'll contact the Ministry and let them ask you."
"You could do that." Potter arched forwards, apparently trying to reach for his wand without seeming to reach for it, but Draco was wise to that trick and moved it back. Potter went still, eyeing him intently. "But the Ministry knows all about me already. They're the only ones who do."
Draco had to stare at that. Did Potter still believe that he was the big, strong Auror who could never make a mistake, who had perfectly carried off the facade of being a hero? He had to know that wasn't true, not after his exposure in all the papers. "My neighbors know you're here. My son does. The papers do. I do. How is that restricted to the Ministry?"
Potter's face twisted, and the ugliest laughter Draco had ever heard came out of his mouth. "If you only knew, Draco," he said, and Draco shivered as though an icicle had gone through him. "If I could tell you-"
Then he flushed and turned his head away, clearing his throat. Draco could hear him muttering, "God, Harry, you nearly gave the game away."
"What game?" Draco demanded. His blood was burning now, and even in the midst of his fury, he had to wonder whether what he had taken as adulthood in the last four years was really just the boredom of having no one around who could challenge him. "If someone's playing with me, I want to know about it."
Potter gave him a bleak look. "No, you don't. That's why I had to lie to you in the first place."
"As though I would rather not know my lover was a murderer and torturer," Draco retorted. "Oh, excuse me, would-be murderer, considering that someone rescued those children you tortured in time."
Potter opened his mouth as though to say something, then bowed his head and shrugged his shoulders wearily. "Right."
Draco studied him with narrowed eyes. Potter wasn't supposed to give up that easily. He was supposed to rage and fight on. But Draco reckoned that anyone could change in four years of exile from the real world, and perhaps that Potter he'd known had been a mask and a lie like all the rest.
Potter shivered and glanced once towards the Manor. "I don't think anything's going to happen tonight," he said, apparently to himself again. Draco cleared his throat loudly, but Potter ignored him. "There would be more signs if something was."
"You've found a victim outside the Manor's wards," Draco said, moving forwards and spreading his arms. "Me. I'm amazed that you don't strike now, while you have someone helpless in front of you and you're alone."
Potter stared at him as if he were speaking French. "You're not helpless."
Draco dropped the two wands he held. He was flushed with exhilaration and anger, knew he was being stupid, and didn't care. "Now I am. Come on, Potter, don't you want to torture me? Don't you desire it?"
Potter's eyes flashed brilliantly, and Draco had the impression of a wolf leaping out of the darkness at him as Potter grabbed his arm. For a moment, they were close again, and Draco felt sweat spring out all over his body at the sensation.
"I wish I could be with you," Potter whispered into his ear. "I love you."
And then he had snatched his holly wand and Apparated, all before Draco could even convince himself that he had really heard what he thought he heard, much less do anything about it.
With a wince at the creaking in his knees, Draco bent over to pick up his wand, all the while running Potter's wild words over in his mind. What kind of game was he playing? Why did he expect Draco to believe his lies even now? Why stay around the Manor when he hadn't even made an attempt to approach the wards?
Too many unanswered questions. Draco was tired of them.
Which was why he was going to find the answers. Four years ago, he hadn't done that.
If he had to lose his lover and the life they had built together, he was at least going to know why.