Warning: Like three bad words. I didn't think it was enough for a M rating but let me know if I'm wrong please.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
When Harry woke up it was not in heaven like he'd wished for. It wasn't that he thought himself a saint or even all that good hearted; he had just wanted to go where his family was. He had a hard time believing that his mother was anywhere but heaven. When he woke up it was not to swirling white clouds and paradise. But neither was it fire and brimstone as had been predicted by several imaginative enemies and/or vindictive allies. He didn't wake up to Satan and demons and torture. There was no screams of pain. No, he didn't wake to hell.
But he did wake up. And that was the whole problem. He woke in a cold sweat like he'd just had a nightmare. His pulse racing, his heart pounding, and breath ragged. But that didn't make any sense at all. He was dead and the dead had no use for racing hearts and cold sweats. They had no use for touch and pain (unless in hell).
This could be hell he deduced; after all he was in his faithful, trusty cupboard. But that didn't seem right either. Of all the painful things he'd lived through the cupboard under the stairs hardly fit the bill for eternal damnation. At most he'd remember spiders and rumbling tummies of little boys with bad glasses and hair that never laid flat. But there was no mind numbing, spine tingling fear in this cupboard. Quite the opposite in fact.
This was his cupboard. The first place he could remember and the best defense against an enraged Uncle who thought being thrown inside was torture, not mercy. No, this was not hell. But it wasn't heaven either. So what was it? And why did he feel alive? Well, maybe not alive for he had never truly felt alive, but he could surely count himself among the living.
Another quandary about this slight predicament. Why was he so fucking short? Had he always been this short? Surly not. At seventeen he knew he could barely fit inside this cupboard, but he fit just fine at the moment. Had he been shrunk? Could you shrink people after they were dead? Would Snape sneer at him if he asked that question in class? Most likely.
He heard a familiar stomping above his head and dust filtered down as it was unsettled. A spider lost his perch. Harry recognized that spider. He'd once named it Max. Dudley shouted at him to hurry and finish the bacon. Aunt Petunia backed up the order. Harry-not knowing what else to do besides play along- rose and left his cupboard under the stairs.
And he found himself in a familiar routine; one he maneuvered through in blind shock. He couldn't wrap his head around what he was seeing. The family of three looked like they had ten years ago. There was no mention of freaky things or going into hiding. The glares he got were the customary ones and not the ones he'd started receiving after the Hogwarts letter-for there was a difference.
He didn't eat with them at the table. He had never liked to anyway. He did the dishes, the sweeping, the pruning, the mopping, the vacuuming, and the dusting. Then he left in that same blind daze. He wandered down Private Drive to Wisteria Walk and then finally out of Surry altogether.
The lost look never left his eyes and the shock he felt had rocked him to the very core. He couldn't understand what had happened to bring him here. For in his game of follow-along he'd happened to glance at the date on Vernon's paper. And he'd found the date to be ten years prior to what it should be. And that was when his brain caught up to what his eyes were screaming at him. This was not heaven; it was not hell; it not any kind of spirit world he'd ever heard of or even one he hadn't.
He was alive. And with that speeding heart, came the terrible realization that this was the past. His past. In all its twisted and painful glory. That was when the shock settled in and he forgot his surroundings. And he left-probably never to return.
When he became aware of himself-truly and completely aware-he was standing in front of the entrance to Diagon Alley with a stick clutched in his fist, for he had no wand. He was unsure of what he thought he'd do in this place but he opened the entrance regardless and stepped through. It was late and nearly every shop was closed. He walked in a straight line down the Alley, thinking.
When he came to Fortescue's patio he pulled out a chair and sat. He sat and he stared at the ground thinking of the last thing he remembered before waking up in his cupboard under the stairs. He'd been in a battle against the Snake Man and his people. He'd been caught in the chest by an Aveda Kedvra as he watched the man's lifeless body fall to the floor. He'd heard a scream and saw a light.
A green light. In the instant he'd seen its gleam in the corner of his eye he'd known what it was and what would happen. Known and accepted. He knew he should be dead and it was just his luck that something else entirely had happened. Something completely different and not right. Something like this.
He snorted in contempt at the situation. Why couldn't he have just died and gone to heaven to be with his Mum and Dad and everybody else? It had been over; his job had been done with.
"Hey kid," he heard and his black haired head whipped around. His eyes met those of a man he'd never met and probably wouldn't want to. He had a total of five teeth it looked like, all of which were yellow and gross. His clothes were baggy and dirty and not unlike Harry's own. He was undeniably homeless. He'd wandered out of Knockturn Alley, for Diagon was not friendly or accepting to outcasts and misfits.
"Yes, sir?" he asked as politely as he could, painfully aware that he was currently a little boy with no wand.
"Are you where you're supposed to be?" the man asked and while the tone was gruff and unfriendly the question brought something to the forefront of Harry's heart. He felt his chest tighten and the emotions well and all the hopelessness of the situation burst through the shock. The tears were falling before he could catch them and he shook his head in silence.
The man scratched at his dirt encrusted grey hair and then held out his hand for Harry to take.
"Well, then," he said. "Come wit me, and we'll get ya all straightened out." Harry had long learned that strangers were bad people, no matter how friendly they looked. This man didn't look friendly at all nor was he trying. What would have been a comforting suggestion had it come from a motherly woman came as an ominous promise from this man.
Had he been thinking straight Harry would have screamed and run. He would have run as fast and as hard and far as he could, dignity be damned. But he wasn't thinking straight so he reached up his now small hand and let the stranger pull him off the chair. He let the man lead him to the mouth of Knockturn Alley. He let him take him into the bowels of the place he'd been warned away from as a child-a real child.
As the sky got darker and the streets dirtier Harry began to feel the first pinpricks of fear creep back into his conscious.
"Sir, where are we going?"
"To a place I know," the man answered. "We'll get you all squared away." They turned left and Harry found himself in a dead end little alleyway. There was a fireplace at the end, which was odd really. It was ornate in nature but modest and crumbling. There was some sort of Dark design on it that Harry didn't recognize but the nature of it was hardly surprising considering where he was. On the top of the fireplace sat a small bag and man took it down and handed it to him.
"You know how to use a Floo?" he asked and Harry nodded dumbly. "Good, go on then." He dropped Harry's hand and stepped back. He expected him to Floo somewhere but Harry didn't know where to go. He wouldn't know the Weasleys for another few years and his godfather was still in jail. Grimwauld Place was creepy when you were alone and he wasn't really supposed to know about Hogwarts. He was, after all, growing up in the Muggle World.
He shook his head. No, there was nowhere to go. Not yet at least. This wasn't right, this wasn't normal.
"Kid?" the man questioned and stepped forward again. Harry dropped the bag of powder and ran. He ran back the way he came in a blind daze so reminiscent of the state of which he'd left Private Drive hours earlier. He ran back to the Alley and as he passed the Dark Apothecary he smacked into someone emerging. He didn't stop as he sent the man reeling into the doorjamb but his head whipped around on instinct to see who it was. Emerald green met steel grey. Panic met furious. But Harry didn't stop. He ran and he ran until he'd reached the Leaky Cauldron. He burst through the pub and dove and weaved through the furniture and patrons until he'd made it to the street on the other side.
He didn't stop running until he'd found an alcove on the side of a building. He crouched down inside and shivered and huddled. He panted as he tried to regain control of himself but control would not come. His head whipped up towards the sky when he heard a large boom and the next thing he knew rain drops pounded the pavement.
He crouched and shivered in that alcove throughout the night. He breathed-in, out, in, out- in deep breaths but still control would not come. He heart still pounded and his head still screamed that what his eyes were telling him was wrong. He couldn't possibly be in the past. He was dead, he was hallucinating. Any moment the heavens would call off this cruel joke and Saint Peter would shake his hand and he'd go through to meet his parents for the first time. That was all he wanted. To meet them, just once.
He was wet and cold, his stomach grumbling, as he emerged from the alcove at first light. He fought for control again. He closed his eyes and stood, simply listening to the sounds of London awakening. Horns blared as taxis fought for control of the road, a bakery began its first batch of pastries, a truck rumbled past, a siren screamed. Crunch, crunch, crunch; slap, slap, slap. People walked on still wet sidewalks over the litter and leaves and papers.
There was a song playing on a car radio.
Do you feel alive? Do you feel alive?
Harry's eyes sprung open the emerald flashing with determination that had no guidance, no plan. But Harry was a Gryffindor and never before had he had true, honest to god guidance. So he decided to do what he did best. Wing it.
He began to walk but this time he let his feet carry him in a different direction.
"Sweetie, do you need help?" She was in her thirties, Harry believed. She had a genuine spark of concern in her eyes for the lost looking little boy standing alone in the Atrium. Her face was expressive. She had probably been a Hufflepuff.
Harry allowed his lip to tremble as he nodded his head in childish vigor. She gave him a small smile and held her hand out to him in much the same way the man from Knockturn had. But this time Harry was thinking a little clearer and his instincts told him she was okay. He took the offered hand and she led him towards the information desk.
"This little boy seems to be lost Clarence," she said. The man looked up from his paper to eye her and then looked down to Harry.
"Well, thas no good," he said with a Scottish accent. "Who're ye parents, lad?" Harry shrugged. The more childish he seemed the better. What did normal seven year olds act like? "Guardian?" the man amended.
"The Dursleys," he said shyly. They looked at him thoughtfully trying to put the name to face, or most likely, deed.
"Can't say I've heard o' 'em," Clarence said.
"Me either," the woman said. "What's your name honey?"
"Harry Potter," he said just as shyly and pretended not to notice their complete and utter shock. She gasped, he mumbled a curse under his breath, and Harry tried not to curse out loud. No seven-year-old should know the word that had leapt to his tongue in his irritation. He'd nearly forgotten about the whole fame thing.
"Harry, honey," the woman said, her tone suddenly a little more frazzled and urgent. "What are you doing here?" He shrugged a little half heartedly. He would love to know the answer to that question himself, although he doubted she was referring to the whole time travel conundrum.
"My Aunt said freaks belong with freaks," he said. It wasn't a lie; the horse faced woman had said that. Well, technically she'd screamed it but that wasn't really the point. The woman gave an almost panicked look to Clarence who was looking highly uncomfortable himself. Harry almost giggled evilly. He wasn't sure of his end goal at this point but surly leaving the Dursleys would be fine. He'd always thought that blood ward excuse to be a rather shoddy one anyway.
"Get the Minister," she said to Clarence who darted around his desk to do just that.
Thirty minutes later Harry was happily ensconced in the Minister's lavish office eating shortbread biscuits and inwardly cursing his shortness. His feet dangled a good foot off the ground and that was only because he wasn't sitting all the way back.
"Mr. Potter," an Auror Harry didn't know said softly and he glanced up at her through his fringe. "Did your Aunt say anything else?" Harry swallowed, burped, and answered.
"Nope, just said bye. Why?"
"No reason," she said, quickly dismissing the subject. Harry had been playing that game for a good twenty minutes now. He wasn't quite sure what he could get away with telling them so he'd guilted them into not wanting to hurt his feelings and letting the matter drop. He'd played it to the point where they weren't sure if he knew he'd been abandoned. And no one really wanted to be the heartless jerk to tell him. Now if only Professor Snape didn't show up he could continue playing the innocent and oblivious card.
There was a small congregation of Ministry officials in the corner. Harry was not pleased to note that Malfoy was one of them. Dumbledore was there as well. Both men kept sending him glances as he seemed oblivious to their attention. He corrected of them that misconception when he suddenly snapped his head in their direction, glared for a moment, and then allowed his childish persona to slip back into place. He swung his appallingly short legs just for good measure.
Harry heard the people in the corner raise their voices a little as some sort of disagreement began to come about. He glanced up just as he heard, "Hem. Hem." His head snapped around to face the door and he barely forced down an animalistic snarl. The pink toad went to join the men and Bones while the Auror tried to distract Harry with meaningless conversation. He ignored her in favor for watching and eating. The biscuits were quite good and he hadn't eaten in awhile.
"Mr. Potter," the Auror said, not for the first time, as she tried to gain and keep his attention.
"Harry," he said. "Mr. Potter was my dad." She smiled a little at the saying but her slight surprise told him it was probably not fitting with his persona. Damn. He'd have to work on being a child again, well, acting like a child again. He would not, under any circumstance, tell anyone about his time travel problem. He'd spent enough time being accused of being crazy.
"Harry," she said. "Are you still hungry? I can go get you something a little better than those biscuits." He looked down and found that he'd emptied the tin. Oops. He'd been hungrier than he'd thought. He set the tin down on the low table in front of him and shook his head. He then went back to people gazing.
His eyes kept catching Malfoy's, as it seemed the man was determined to stare him down. It wasn't really a surprise but he was supposed to be seven so it was a little creepy. Eventually the group moved over to his side of the office in order to start speaking to him.
Fudge looked at him with a bright smile to which Harry responded with a completely blank look.
"Well, Mr. Potter," he said. "It appears that we have a slight problem."
"What problem?" Harry asked bluntly in that way he knew small children to be capable of.
"Well, it seems you can no longer stay with your Aunt and Uncle," he hedged looking very much as if he was going to bolt at the first sign of tears. Harry, just to have a little fun, remained perfectly stoic.
"I already knew that," he said his tone conveying that he wasn't sure if the man in front of him was all that bright. He saw Malfoy's mouth twitch ever so slightly. Had he been a real child he probably wouldn't have caught it.
"Yes, well," the man continued and Harry forced the smirk away as it threatened to break out. It was just so easy! "Do you know why?"
"Yes," the boy replied.
"Really, why?" Fudge slipped. It wasn't very tactful but in his defense Harry had let them believe they'd have to break devastating news to him. Now that he was no longer ignorant or devastated the man was a little thrown.
"The frying pan hit Dudley," he said inventing something from whole cloth. He'd probably regret it later but it wasn't like he could be completely truthful with them anyway so why bother to even try? He was confident that Dumbledore would poke a hole in any story but if he made one up completely the man wouldn't have anything to go on at all. He'd be back at square one forever if Harry played his cards right.
"You hit your cousin with a frying pan?" the Auror asked, surprised. Harry had told her a little bit about his relatives so she would know who he was talking about. Harry shrugged.
"No, they just say I did," he said haughtily and crossed his arms in frustration. "I think the house is haunted. It just flew off the stove by itself!" By now everyone had caught on to what supposedly happened. "It hit him on the head and knocked him out," Harry continued. "He had to get ten stitches."
It was a rather violent display of accidental magic but they would probably still believe the consequences to be an overreaction by ignorant Muggles and he'd walk away the innocent and wronged Boy-Who-Lived.
"Ah, I see," Fudge said and then looked over his shoulder at Umbridge who stepped forward and leaned down until she was eye level with Harry. Admittedly she didn't have to lean far but it was still too close for comfort.
"Mr. Potter," she simpered and his eyes narrowed without his consent.
"What?" he snapped and he saw her eyes narrow at his disrespect.
"Is there anything you'd like to tell us?"
"Like what?" he asked snidely. "The lady who looks after me has bunches of cats?" Dumbledore's eyes twinkled like mad but Umbridge just looked faintly annoyed.
"No, Mr. Potter," she said in a patronizing tone that he loathed instantly. "Is there anything you'd like to tell us about your relatives?"
"They're right bastards?" he replied, the bad word slipping out of his mouth before he could stop it and he heard several people gasp. Not at the language itself but at whose mouth it had come from. Harry, to his credit, was able to keep a steady gaze with Umbridge. The toady woman withdrew and the group of Ministry officials closed ranks on him again to discuss who knew what. Harry found a spot on the ceiling and stared at it.
But then a hand clamped down on his shoulder and he jumped, his heart trying to escape through his chest. He looked up and saw Malfoy, his face blank and his eyes holding a certain gleam to them that Harry really couldn't place.
"That is quite the mouth you have Mr. Potter," he said smoothly. He then took the seat the Auror had just vacated to speak with the rest of the adults. "Do you care to explain where you were last night?"
Harry didn't respond. He'd known exactly who it was he'd crashed into as he'd fled in a blind panic. But that didn't mean he was going to say anything about it to the Death Eater.
"Last night I was at home," he said, shifting ever so slightly in his sudden discomfort.
"Hmm," the blond responded and the two entered yet another brief stare down before the man continued. "I am afraid I am a bit confused as to the correct order of the events that led you here, Mr. Potter. Do you care to help me straighten them out?"
"Not really," Harry responded. "You're the adult, you figure it out." His bluntness was getting Malfoy nowhere and Harry could see the slight irritation in the man's expression. It pleased Harry to no end.
"Very well Mr. Potter, if you do not wish to speak of it now, you do not need to," he said and Harry was a little surprised at how easily he seemed to cave. He was immediately suspicious.
"Why do you talk so fancy?" Harry asked, trying to be rude. Malfoy raised an eyebrow at the seemingly random question.
"Excuse me?" he said.
"Who're you trying to impress?" Harry pushed, his tone challenging. He'd always wanted to know why the blond man was so intent on speaking the way he did. Harry thought it snobby, not intelligent, and he wondered why Mr. Malfoy wanted to be purposefully snobby. It seemed counterproductive to him as nobody he knew liked snobbery. But then, Harry had never really associated with the upper crust. They just weren't to his tastes.
Malfoy's cool stare met Harry's glare before the boy finally lost and shifted his eyes to his feet.
"There is nothing wrong with proper grammar Mr. Potter," the man finally said. "In fact, you will find that it can very much help you." Harry considered that piece of advice and then discarded it.
"I don't wanna sound like a snob," he replied defiantly. "And my name is Harry. Mr. Potter was my dad."
"So he was," Malfoy said fluidly. Harry was positive that if he said the line enough times, to enough people he'd eventually have everyone calling him Harry. He preferred that to Mr. Potter, Potter, or worse, boy. "Harry, I am fully aware that your story is not a complete one, if any of it is true at all."
Ha! Finally! They came to the meaning of this entire waste of breath.
"Good for you," he snapped.
"Why were you in the alley last night?" Malfoy asked quietly, acutely aware that people may be listening behind him. The blond probably would have saved his questions for a more secure setting but he couldn't possibly know when he'd see Harry again. "What were you running from?"
"The devil," Harry said his voice hard. Much harder than it should have been. "He has red eyes and talks to snakes. Know him?" He saw Malfoy's eyes widen in shock and smirked. The man hadn't been expecting that.
"No, I am afraid I do not know him," the man responded and Harry shook his head and looked away. "Where did you see this devil?" The man tried to pass it off as a vaguely interested inquiry meant only to keep the conversation going. He would have succeeded too, had Harry not known who he really was. Of course the man would be interested to know if his Master was in Britain, Knockturn Alley no less, and hunting down the Boy-Who-Lived yet again.
"In my head," Harry replied, softly and not completely untruthfully. He had a feeling he would always have nightmares. "He's in my head. When I sleep."
"Hmm," Malfoy said again. "I see."
"I'm sure you do," Harry sneered in response, doing his best to imitate Snape at his most condescending. Malfoy quirked his eyebrow again.
"Harry, I do not believe I have introduced myself," he said. Harry was wondering when he would. He couldn't make fun of his name if he wasn't supposed to know it. Harry shook his head. "My name is Lucius Malfoy."
He stuck out his hand to shake and Harry slapped it in a friendly Muggle manner.
"'Lo Luce," he said and pointedly ignored the man's irritated huff. He was probably pushing his luck but, really, that was okay. He really didn't care. "So, what do you think is going to happen to me?" He wasn't sure why he asked. It just sprung from his mouth like so many other things tended to. Besides, he was curious as to what Malfoy would say.
"Well Harry, I am not entirely sure," the man said. "Any number of things really."
"Like what?" Harry pressed. "Orphanage? Foster care? We've ruled out live dissection right?" He received yet another surprised look at the remark.
"You will not be dissected child," he said with a strange texture to his voice. Harry briefly wondered if it was amusement. "It will most likely be foster care."
"Lucius," the Minister called the blond man who quickly stood up and rejoined the group. "We need to decide which family he'll go to." Harry propped an elbow onto his knee and dropped his head into his hand, the picture of adolescent boredom. He didn't dare let on to the fact that he was still listening to them.
"I suggest the Weasleys," Dumbledore said and Harry's heart leapt at the possibility. That would be such a great childhood! Unfortunately, it was shot down instantly.
"The Weasleys are struggling to make ends meet as it is," one of the unknown Ministry people said. "And their brood is entirely too big to give him the special kind of attention he may need to recover."
"Recover?" Fudge asked, a little stupidly.
"He's clearly a victim of neglect if not outright abuse," the man responded and Harry felt, more than saw, several assessing looks on his back. "He will need to go to a family that can take care of whatever special needs he may have as well as protect him." Harry scowled at the table as the man finished him. What did he know? Harry would be fine with Weasleys! Great even!
"What about the Jacksons?" Fudge suggested but Harry had absolutely no idea who they were. "They've fostered several children throughout the years."
"They are past their prime," Umbridge replied. "They won't be able to keep up with him and he very clearly needs a firm hand." Harry dearly wished he could let loose with the reply that was on his tongue but that would probably only confirm what the woman had just claimed.
"Well," Fudge said tiredly. "Where do you suggest he go?" Harry waited with bated breath for the answer to that one. He in no way wanted Umbridge deciding the fate of his second childhood. His first one had been bad enough he didn't want to be subjected whatever horrors she might cook up.
"I would suggest he go with you Lucius," she simpered and he very nearly lost it then and there.
"Me?" Malfoy replied sounding equally as shocked but not nearly as outraged as Harry was. "Why would you suggest me, madam?"
"Yes, what prompted that recommendation Dolores?" Dumbledore asked his voice a bit icier than normal. But who could blame him? The toad had just suggested that a Death Eater take custody of the Boy-Who-Lived. It was times like these that Harry wondered if he was the only sane person left.
"The Malfoy residence is renowned for its wards," she replied. "Lucius and Narcissa are also very firm parents and have both the money and time to care for a child such as Mr. Potter. I do believe they also have a son Potter's age. He will learn how to interact with proper magical children." Damn if that didn't sound like a good argument.
"I don't believe Harry will be very comfortable-" Dumbledore started.
"Oh, come now, Headmaster," Fudge said loudly, overriding the man. "The boy will be perfectly fine in Lucius's hands. I'm confident he and his wife will be able to provide a nice and structured home for the boy."
It was in the midst of his mental beratement of Fudge that Harry was suddenly struck with an idea. It was foolish and probably wouldn't amount to anything but that was just fine. He was a Gryffindor after all. It would no doubt do wonders for Lucius's position on all sides to have control of Harry. His fellow Death Eaters would be expecting him to turn Harry Dark or preparing to hand the boy over to the Dark Lord when he finally came out of whatever hole he was in. It would also vaunt Malfoy's reputation among the Light if Harry was healthy and happy under his care. He would be able to say 'I told you so' to all those people who had accused him of being a Death Eater.
But two could play it that way. If Malfoy was going to use Harry, Harry would use Malfoy too. He would be the perfect spy. The oblivious, abused Boy-Who-Lived. He could act cute and cuddly if it meant an upper hand.
"The boy does need a firm hand," Malfoy was saying when Harry tuned back in after his brilliant epiphany. "He seems a bit…well."
"The term you're lookin' for is 'damaged'," Harry finally said as Malfoy struggled to find the most polite way to describe Harry. When all gazes flew to him he plastered an innocent look on his face. "What?"
"It is very rude to eavesdrop, Mr. Potter," Malfoy said evenly, momentarily forgetting Harry's order about his name. Harry scowled at him.
"You're standing two feet away!" he protested. "How am I not gonna hear what you're saying?"
"Put your hands over your ears," Malfoy replied. Harry couldn't tell if the man was joking or not, so he just stuck his tongue out at him. There, that was sufficiently childish. He really needed to figure out how seven-year-olds were supposed to act. He couldn't really remember how he had acted and even then it probably wasn't normal considering.
The adults turned back to their conversation and Harry was ignored. Dumbledore protested a little more but Fudge showed that he really did have a spine and stood firm. Harry wondered when, exactly, the man had lost said part of the skeletal system. Maybe if he hadn't the whole fifth year disaster would have been avoided.
In the end Malfoy received custody. Well, kind of. There was nothing official yet and the paperwork wouldn't even reach the man's desk until the next week but it was the thought. Despite being armed with his plan Harry was furious at the stupidity of his government.
"Son of a bitch!" he exclaimed as he brought down the empty biscuits tin down on the table with a loud clang. He turned a decidedly fake innocent look on his brand new guardian. "Sorry, bug."
Nobody believed him.
Harry didn't like Draco any better now than he had before. The littler blond was still taller than him, which irked Harry to no end, and still just as spoiled. He was insanely jealous that Harry was there but the dark haired boy really couldn't care less.
Narcissa Malfoy had hemmed, hawed, and fussed over him. Harry felt as if he was in a Twilight Zone and vowed that the first time she babied him he'd be gone, plan be damned. He didn't see much of Mr. Malfoy for the first week as the man was in the middle of some sort of business project. Insanely curious, Harry had tried to spy on the man only to be caught out of bed at one in the morning.
Malfoy had smiled knowingly at his terrible excuse and sent him back to bed, following him the entire way to make sure he actually went. Harry knew that the man simply thought he was up because of some sort of nightmare but it was still annoying to be put back to bed like a child, even if he technically was one.
Narcissa insisted on all sorts of arts and crafts in between primary school lessons. Harry quickly became bored out of his skull. He'd taken to hiding around the Manor to get out of the lessons but never seemed to be able to truly evade the blasted woman. She would always track him down in some remote corner of the east wing or dungeon (creepy!).
Harry had gotten quite a bit of practice with his pout. It never worked but one could always hope. The boy point blank refused to engage in finger paints or coloring books no matter how much it would make him look like a seven-year-old. He also refused to participate in play dates. Eventually, even Draco felt that there was something severely wrong with him.
Harry first became aware of Draco's concern when the blond boy had offered to share his stuffed dragon. Harry had stared at him in shock for nearly a full minute and then shook his head mutely, his mouth hanging open. Harry had overheard the boy telling his mother about the incident a little later.
"Why didn't Harry want to play with Scales?" he asked. "That always makes me feel better."
"Well, Draco," Narcissa replied. "Harry's very, very sad and sometimes that is very hard to overcome. He'll come around."
"When?" Draco asked. "He never plays with me." The last part sounded perturbed and it really didn't surprise Harry that Draco was able to sound both concerned and selfish at the same time.
"He will when he feels better," Narcissa replied tactfully. Harry itched to hear her say that sometimes it just wasn't about Draco.
"How long is it going to take?" the blond boy asked, persisting even though Harry could tell that Narcissa didn't want to talk about Harry's supposed recovery anymore.
"I do not know, honey," she replied. "But he's going to need all our help if he's going to not be sad." Harry's eyes widened. No, no, no, no! Don't suggest that! But the woman did and the next thing Harry knew Draco was determined to make him feel happy again.
It would have been cute if it hadn't been so damn annoying. Draco insisted he hang out in the toy room and make aimless chatter that didn't interest Harry in the slightest. The blond also insisted on a camp out in the living room and Harry found himself sleeping in a blanket fort two weeks after Lucius had brought him back from the Ministry.
Around two in the morning, Harry crawled out and made his way to Lucius's study. The man was an insomniac-much like Harry was-and was rarely in bed before three a.m. The door was halfway open and Harry silently approached stopping to look in at his new guardian.
The man fascinated Harry more than he'd like to admit. Malfoy was a hard worker who worked on various Ministry projects that were needed but would probably never have gone through without him. Harry had been surprised to find that one of those projects had been the children's ward at St. Mungo's. Malfoy had donated, stolen, and blackmailed for the funds almost singlehandedly.
He was gentle and loving to his wife and son. He was respectful to Harry and maintained his distance at the boy's signal for him to do so. However, he made it clear that Harry could trust him no matter how much Harry knew it to be a lie. But Malfoy was the one thing in Harry's current life that wasn't mind numbingly boring. And it was that if nothing else that drew the boy to him.
"You should be asleep Harry," Malfoy said softly without looking up from his study of the flames in the fireplace. Harry jumped as his smooth voice snapped him from his contemplation of the man.
"Sorry," he said for no real reason. He wasn't sorry in the slightest really. The word, just like most of the others, slipped out.
"Care to join me?" he asked. Harry seriously contemplated on keeping up his rude act towards the man. He'd called him several satisfying but not very polite things to his face over the course of the two weeks he'd been there. Harry wondered exactly how far he could push before Malfoy lost his temper. So far he was proving unnervingly calm. But Harry was dying for some conversation that was at least better than what he'd been getting.
He shrugged and entered the study warily. Malfoy smiled gently and beckoned him closer. He shuffled over until he was in arm's reach and he suddenly and inexplicitly found himself on the man's lap. Harry's brain screamed at him that this was just not right and that he should claw the man's eyes out with his chewed fingernails.
But his body merely tensed and Malfoy whispered in his ear, "It's okay Harry."
To Harry it wasn't okay but he really didn't have much of a reason to leap up off of the man without making himself seem even more damaged than they already thought he was. But then the man shifted and his arms came around Harry. One arm supported his back while the other brought the boy's feet up so that he was curled up on top of the man. This also meant that Malfoy could see his face.
"Have you slept at all tonight?" the man asked. Harry wondered how much the man knew about his sleeping patterns but decided not to chance it. He shrugged. Malfoy frowned. "You need to sleep more."
"So do you," Harry retorted, annoyed. He looked at Malfoy a little closer and really wasn't all that surprised to find what he did. "Are you drunk?"
"A little," the blond admitted. Well, that explained this sudden need of his to cuddle. Harry vowed to never go near Malfoy again unless absolutely positive that the man was sober. He abhorred the idea of being a teddy bear.
"That's bad for you," Harry responded truthfully. Really, it was. Liver damage and all that.
"Do not worry about it Harry," the man responded with a slight slur. The blonde's arms came around the 'boy' a little tighter. "Do you have nightmares?"
It was such a strange question considering who was asking him. If it had been anyone else he might not have laughed in his face. Might.
"I fail to see what is so funny about this," Malfoy frowned at him. But Harry couldn't stop giggling at the absurdity that was suddenly his entire life. He continued on for a couple of minutes and eventually the Death Eater just stopped looking at him. His grey eyes stared blankly into the fire and he seemed to be contemplating something important. Like the universe or candy cane stripes and how they got them to always come out so perfectly.
When Harry calmed down he slid off the man's lap and snuck back to the sheet fort. There he lay down and waited for sunrise, breakfast, and another day of mind numbing boredom.
The eleven year old blond boy rolled his eyes at his foster brother's antics as Harry-for once-could barely control his excitement. They were going to Hogwarts today and the Malfoy family had never seen the black haired boy more excited and giddy.
The Platform was as crowded and chaotic as Harry remembered from the last time he'd been a first year. It brought back a sense of nostalgia so powerful he had to blink back tears. There was a familiar group of redheads not far from him and he probably would have drifted over but Narcissa demanded his attention.
"Be good, boys," she said with a smile. "And make sure to eat something besides sweets."
"But how else will we rot all our teeth?" Harry asked innocently. She just gave him one of her patent mother looks that told him quite plainly to shut the hell up and listen. He got that look a lot. He couldn't help it if his utter boredom in life made him say things he shouldn't. Besides he was technically an adult, he'd say whatever he wanted to no matter how short he was.
"Harry, please behave," she repeated. "Especially for Severus." The Potions Master had become a common figure around the Manor. Harry suspected he was spying for Dumbledore but he also seemed to genuinely enjoy being there.
Draco insisted on calling him 'Uncle Severus'. Harry, in all his maturity, insisted on calling him 'that gunk-maker'. He'd received several lectures about respect but eventually had worn them down to the point that they never really bothered to correct him anymore. He'd also refused to set foot in the Potions lab in the dungeon and thus found a reprieve from both Draco and Snape.
Giving the appropriate scowl he nodded at her command and she swept him into a hug. He hadn't been expecting it but luckily managed to restrain himself from lashing out. That was hardly a nice good bye for anyone. Malfoy-whom Harry no longer fled from on principal-patted him on the shoulder. When both boys were thoroughly convinced they'd be missed they boarded the train.
He'd point blank refused to be sorted anywhere other than Gryffindor. He had several reasons for doing this. His biggest one was that the only other House the Sorting Hat would consider was Slytherin. While Harry really didn't buy into the whole Slytherins are demons from hell mentality the other Lions had, he just didn't want to be near Draco.
It sounded harsh even in his own head and while he had grown to have at least some sort attachment to the other boy he still didn't want to be around him very often. He'd always operated under the policy that Draco was to be taken in small doses, much like Voldemort and Snape.
Draco had looked a little stricken by the fact that his beloved foster brother was in his rival House. Harry just grinned maniacally at the prospect of officially being the only Gryffindor in Malfoy's house. His smile was so twisted that the other first years quickly became nervous of him. Oops. He needed to learn to tone it down a bit.
The Malfoys may scarcely notice his 'quirks' anymore but then, they were made of sterner stuff.
Harry passed through classes with an ease that was to be expected. First year material was far too easy for him and he always passed the practical with flying colors. Draco was a bit shocked; Ron indecisive; Hermione downright jealous. Harry had made friends with his two best friends again even though the two refused to be friends with each other. It would have made it awkward if Harry bothered with such feelings.
Draco would occasionally snatch him away from wherever he'd been holed up in to do something with him, no matter how much Harry protested. Harry figured he'd inherited his mother's ability to locate people in remote places. That, or there was a tracking spell on him. He wouldn't put it past the Malfoys.
The only contention Harry really had with his House was on the first night. Some older students had assumed he'd be a mini Malfoy after having been raised by them. A colorful string of Muggle curses (something no fancy pureblood would be caught dead knowing) quickly disassembled that notion.
Classes the next day had been fun and Harry instantly began contemplating how best to oust Quirell. He suspected that the most fun way would be to steal the stone himself and watch everyone squirm. Oh, the possibilities.
Potions was a bit of a conundrum for Harry. He refused to purposefully fail anything and so, did as well in it as any other class. Snape seemed to think that made him a Magical prodigy. His other Professors were starting to draw the same conclusions and Harry did nothing to stop it. He really didn't see the need to.
The problem was when Snape instituted private lessons to give Harry a chance to challenge himself while they figured out what to do with him. They weren't as miserable as they could have been but Potions was just not a subject Harry particularly liked regardless of the teacher's attitude towards his person.
"How is your school year faring Mr. Potter?" the professor asked during one of their lessons. Harry glanced up briefly from his Dreamless Sleep potion. He was contemplating stealing some of it.
"Fine," he said shortly purposefully leaving off the 'sir'. Old habits die hard and all that. Snape didn't seem to notice and if he did he didn't see fit to comment.
Harry pounded on the Slytherin common room door, which was nothing but a blank piece of wall. He smiled widely when a prefect opened it for him with an irritated expression on his face.
"Hi," Harry said brightly and then slipped under the older boy's arm and into the common room behind him.
"Hey!" the teen protested loudly, gaining everyone's attention.
"Harry?" Draco asked, perplexed to see the Gryffindor there. It was odd enough for anyone to visit another House but for the Boy-Who-Lived to visit the Slytherin common room just wasn't right or normal. It didn't seem to matter to anyone that he was Draco's foster brother seeing as he had publicly made fun of the Malfoy family on many different occasions. But really, Harry made fun of everything.
"Come with me," the Gryffindor demanded. Draco blinked in surprise.
"Go with you where?" he asked warily, knowing from experience that Harry often ended up in strange places.
"I want to show you something," Harry responded ignoring the decidedly interested looks everyone within earshot was giving them.
"Show me what?" Draco insisted.
"Yes, a really cool thing," Harry said irritated that Draco wasn't already up and moving. Before Hogwarts he would have been but now he had a reputation, responsibilities, blah, blah, blah.
"No." It was Harry's turn to blink in surprise. He'd expected simple reluctance but outright refusal was not what he was prepared for. He wasn't sure how to respond and so he did what he did best. Crossed his arms and pouted.
"Because I know you," Draco responded. "You're likely to lead me into the Forbidden Forest somewhere."
"It's not dangerous," Harry pressed. He was starting to think he'd never get Draco in front of the Mirror of Erised.
"Says the kid who tried to play tag with Hippogriff," Draco snapped and both boys ignored the shocked gasps.
"No, really it's not," Harry said, ignoring the blonde's comment for the most part.
"Go back to your dormitory Harry."
"Fine," he huffed and turned to go. "I'll go get a Hufflepuff. At least they love me!" The last he shouted on the way out of the door which slammed shut behind him. He left Draco to deal with the ramifications of his visit without so much as a spare thought.
The night before everyone went home for the holidays, Harry flopped down onto the bench at the Slytherin table thoroughly ignoring the stares coming from every direction of the hall. Draco looked up from his meal to stare at him from across the table. Harry gave him a wide smile.
"What are you doing here?" Parkinson asked.
"None'ya business," Harry snapped at her ferociously. She jumped back in surprise at his tone, her eyes wide. Harry saw Marcus Flint stifle some laughter.
"Be nice Harry," Draco admonished but his tone was tired. He'd been running interference between his foster brother and his House all year and it was quickly starting to wear his patience. Maybe if Harry was less combative and a little more couth, things wouldn't have been so bad. Although the blonde wasn't even sure if Harry was aware of the depth of the waves he was making. He resolved to discuss it with him over the break.
"I'm nice," Harry grumbled back and Draco rolled his eyes.
"Sure," he pacified. "Why aren't you sitting with your friends?"
"I can't find Hermione," he responded randomly. Draco didn't know why he came to him about this type of problem. It wasn't like he would know where she was, although there was really only one place he would consider.
"Did you try the library?" he asked.
"What library?" Draco stared at the smaller boy, hoping that he was joking.
"What do you mean 'what library'?" he snapped. "The Hogwarts library!"
"Hogwarts has a library?" Harry asked, a confused expression coming onto his face. Because he had already been through all this once before Harry hadn't had to set foot in the library yet and so had decided to pretend it didn't exist, just for fun.
"Have you honestly never been to the library?" Draco asked, incredulously. Harry shook his head no and noticed that a good many of Slytherins were ogling him.
"No," Harry replied. "Where is it?"
"The fourth floor," his foster brother said.
"Does Hermione go there often?"
"Is that why I can never find her?" Draco just shook his head and preceded to ignore the other boy.
Harry spent that Holiday break sneaking out of his room at night. He would go out the window, down the handy vines, and to the edge of the wards half a kilometer away. It took him a while but he got the locket, the ring, the diadem, and the cup. Using much the same methods as he had the first time around with Ron and Hermione. None of them had been destroyed but he was beginning to collect them and they were hidden under the loose floorboard in his ridiculously large closet.
He was soon ready to begin his search for Nagini, which wasn't nearly as easy as it required international travel. His body wasn't able to handle that type of Apparition at this young age so he ended up withdrawing a huge sum of money from his Gringotts account to hire someone else to do it for him. He met with the man nearly every night for a week in a shadowy corner of Muggle London close to the back entrance to Knockturn Alley. They were unpleasant meetings. He was quickly growing tired.
Harry's feet felt heavy as he crossed the lawn, just before dawn. He felt supremely lucky to get to the window without falling, and inside. However, in his exhaustion he failed to notice something of critical importance. That is, until the man cleared his throat. The lights came on and Harry found himself faced with Lucius, arms folded across his chest, and looking angrier than Harry had seen since his trip back.
"Well," the man said. "Look at what we have here. A little hooligan." Harry didn't respond. He had no idea what he could say to the man. He hadn't thought of any type of excuse should he get caught. In retrospect, that was highly stupid as there hadn't been a time he hadn't been caught in some way. "Where have you been?" Harry still didn't respond. His mind, as tired as it was, just couldn't come up with anything worth saying to placate the man. "Harry."
"Where have you been?" the man hissed through his teeth. Harry winced; that meant he was really, really mad.
"Knockturn Alley," Harry replied, not about to be intimidated by Lucius Malfoy. Who cared if the blond jerk didn't approve? He didn't. He was technically an adult so he'd do whatever he wanted.
"And what, pray tell, were you doing in Knockturn Alley?" the man asked, furious but containing it.
"What do you think Lucius?" Harry snapped. "Whatever it fucking takes!" Lucius stopped; shocked into silence by what his foster son had just said. It had been at least a year since Harry had held any kind of venom in his voice when speaking to him and it saddened the aristocrat more than he was willing to admit to suddenly hear it again.
"What are you talking about?" Lucius asked, suddenly a little more willing to listen. He knew that Harry did the things he did for a reason and not just because he was as crazy as he seemed.
"I'm in the middle of something kind of important," Harry said. "I hadn't been planning on involving you in any of it until the fighting broke out but it seems I won't get my way. Again."
Lucius's eyebrow arched at that.
"What are you playing at?" the man asked.
"If Voldemort were to come back tomorrow, would you side with him or with me?" Harry asked forcefully and suddenly. Lucius didn't have a response for that. "You need to think about it Lucius because it's only a matter of time. But let me give you a hint." He crossed the room quickly and got into the other's man face as much as he could with his short stature. "Snake man isn't gonna win. I will. Now get out of my room, you fucking Death Eater."
"Harry," Lucius started but didn't get the chance to finish. The boy's Magic swelled up and out of his body, his anger feeding it more than anything ever could.
"Get out!" Lucius found himself being thrown from his foster son's room, slamming into the wall out in the corridor and the bedroom door being slammed in his face.
Harry and Lucius didn't talk to each other for the rest of the break. The man hadn't informed his wife of the incident but she knew there had been some sort of fight. The two of them had never been this stony towards each other before. Harry didn't care. He had what he needed and that was it. It took almost nothing to get his hands on the Diary and it too joined his small stash under the floorboards.
Draco asked once or twice why they were fighting now but Harry staunchly refused to say anything about that night. It wasn't any of Draco's business really. The Slytherin needed to learn to butt out, plus he didn't want anything getting back to Narcissa. Harry actually liked the woman and he didn't want to jeopardize his relationship with her. Also, no one had ever told Harry about Lucius being a Death Eater and while they had expected him to find out at Hogwarts, Harry was supposed to ask about it. He knew he was and he knew that it looked odd that he could possibly know more than his supposed eleven-year-old life allowed.
Harry continued his work at night unabated, but by the third night after the incident he was hardly surprised to find Lucius once again waiting for him in his room. The time to leave for Hogwarts was fast approaching and if the man didn't settle it now he would probably never have the chance. He had learned over the years that Harry was hardly a patient person and if he was left alone to stew the resentment would only grow.
The boy spotted him immediately, sitting in the arm chair in the corner.
"You," the man said before his foster son could say anything.
"I would side with you," Lucius replied. The man got up and left. And that was that.
Two nights before he left for Hogwarts Harry got his hands on Nagini. With Voldemort preoccupied at Hogwarts, the snake was left almost completely unprotected. The weakened Dark Lord had no means to protect her while he was away, not that he thought she would need it. After all, almost everyone thought he was dead, few knew of the Horcruxes and no one was supposed to know of them in detail.
The man Harry had paid had found the snake with relative ease once Harry gave him the location of where Wormtail had located Voldemort, back in regular time. Harry was hardly surprised to learn that the spectra hadn't much moved around. The snake was stunned and Harry promptly brought her back to the manor with the other Horcruxes.
Soon enough the boy had the locket, the ring, the diary, the cup, the diadem, and the snake all burning at the edge of the Malfoy estate via Fiendfyre. Harry chuckled to himself as he watched the flames dance, his wand moving the same way the flames were dancing, controlling it. He wished it had been this easy the first time.
The battle went much the same way as it had the first time. Ron and Hermione had both gallantly and bravely accompanied him through the maze of obstacles that were supposed to protect the stone. Once again, he'd left them behind as he stepped through the flames to face Quirell and Voldemort on the other side. This time however, Harry didn't try to fight them. He allowed Quirell to cast the Killing Curse at him, and felt the pain as the intruding soul shard was killed.
Harry didn't enter the spirit realm that time. He'd known what his decision would be before he ever walked into the chamber. The boy couldn't focus through the haze that drifted down on him as he lay on the floor trying to regain his senses, knowing he was at his most vulnerable. However, he was cognizant enough to notice when his Magic began to buck free of his body. It was panicking, trying to find an anchor, twisting and writhing much like a snake would.
He heard Quirell scream out and Harry saw the man's skin bubbling and burning as it had the first time around. Only this time Voldemort was not able to escape the same fate. The possession anchored him to Quirell's body and he was unable to break free. With no Horcruxes remaining to protect what was left of his life, the monster passed, his scream of agony the last thing Harry heard before his Magic finally settled and he lost consciousness. The last thing he saw, however, was the Dark Lord and his servant, but the man from the Alley. The old, homeless man with no teeth; the man who had taken him to that fireplace. Harry smiled. He understood it now.
He'd addressed the later to Lucius. He knew the man would be able to understand it the best and know, even if just instinctively, what to do with the story. Harry didn't know where the fireplace would take him, nor did he really care. However, he felt it wrong to leave without some word of explanation. Despite being at odds with the Malfoys more often than not, they had taken him in and tried to treat him as one of their own. It was more than he could ever have expected of them really.
He stood in front of the fireplace, Floo powder in hand and marveled at the events that had brought him back to the dark, little side alley. The man wasn't here but Harry hadn't expected him to be either. He needed no guidance from him. No little clue or prodding. Things were better this time around. Things had, more or less been fixed.
Voldemort was dead; the Malfoys were free; evidence had been left that proved Sirius innocent. Everyone was still alive and free to do with their lives as they wished. His job was, once again, finished and the only thing he truly wished for was to go home.
With that last thought he stepped forward, threw the powder in, and entered the green flame.
He vanished with a whoosh!, leaving behind the cold darkness of Knockturn Alley and all its devious mysteries.
For anyone who cares, the song that Harry hears on the radio in the beginning is Love Like Rockets by Angels & Airwaves.