A/N Last installment. Thank you for reading and reviewing!
When Harry left to go home, he locked up his office at the same time as the Auror he had Immobilized two hours prior. Geoffrey Jangles, Ron had told him.
Their eyes locked across the hall.
He glared at Harry as he stalked towards him. "You're Head Auror, Potter," he said.
Harry looked at him grimly.
"Don't forget that."
That night, Harry couldn't sleep.
He went to work exhausted and looked balefully at his empty coffee cup.
Ron leaned in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest. "So I've narrowed the anniversary down to two days. It's either this Sunday or the next."
"Did you already decide what you're going to get her?" Harry asked.
Ron laughed. "No, I'm still thinking maybe-Oh. Hi." He straightened up suddenly.
Harry sat up at the voice and Malfoy appeared in the doorway.
"Potter," he said flatly.
"I'll be back, over, there, you know, in the..." Ron excused himself.
"Hi," Harry said, unable to hide the surprise in his voice. He heard the sound of Ron's office door clicking shut for the first time in years. Harry was thankful for the privacy.
"I wanted to thank you for yesterday," Malfoy started, stiffly. "I wasn't -" He licked his lips and paused. A wan smile twisted on his lips. "Actually, I was worried I would be fired when I came in this morning, to be honest."
"You wouldn't be, I saw what happened," Harry said.
"I know. No one's said a word. I wanted to thank you anyway."
There was a pregnant pause.
"Alright." Malfoy turned to go.
"Malfoy, wait," he said, putting a hand out though Malfoy was nowhere in reach. "There's something I've been meaning to say..."
"What?" he asked, stopping near the door. His collar was loose and Harry could see his pale neck dipping low into dark robes. His pulse beat steadily and Harry's was beating tenfold faster.
"I...Er..." Harry back tracked. He hadn't actually planned on telling Malfoy any time soon and now- (Good job, Harry he groaned internally). I like you very much, would you like to date me? I know we've had our differences in the past, enemies and all, but I think we'd be brilliant together? Harry's palms prickled uncomfortably and his throat went dry. It was ridiculous. It was just like 4th year, tongue-tied and flustered over talking to Cho. It was just like 6th year, holding Ginny in his arms and not knowing what to say, the sound of Gryffindor quidditch victory roaring all around them. His heartbeat was pounding loud in his ears now, thinking about the things he wanted to say to Malfoy but probably shouldn't. He swallowed hard and tried again, "I-"
Malfoy was frowning at him slightly in confusion, a shallow crease forming there between his bangs. He leaned against the doorjam, sharp shoulders digging into it as he waited for Harry to finish.
The back of Harry's neck heated and he put a hand there to rub at it anxiously. "Er."
He looked at Malfoy's face, the way his chin lifted just enough so that the line of his nose and the curve of his lips tilted up softly. Harry liked his sharp features that seemed to soften around him and his arrogance that didn't seem like arrogance any more. Harry liked his harsh mouth that could be gentle too, sometimes, just like this. He liked...he liked a lot of things.
Malfoy raised his eyebrow and what little resolve Harry had left in an instant.
"Nevermind," Harry mumbled, flushing to the tips of his ears and feeling the heat in his face.
Malfoy smiled. "I'll see you, Potter."
He left the room and Harry smashed a hand to his face. It was just like... how it always went. "I'll always be rubbish at this," he said to nobody in particular.
The alarms were shrill in Harry's ear and sounded off the walls of his office, nearly knocking him off his seat with the intensity of the first wave. They rang in every room and he could hear people milling around the hallway. He stood up and walked outside.
Ron was already there looking as confused as Harry felt.
"What is this, a safety drill?" Harry asked him, plugging his ears over the alarms blaring in every direction.
"I don't know, but it's really annoying!" Ron said back, wincing over the sound.
Shacklebolt and Dawlish were storming down the hall, robes flapping behind them, and Harry took this opportunity to ask.
"We have a minor ward malfunction," Dawlish explained irritably, his robes whipping around his legs from the abrupt halt. "Nothing wrong. It's okay, we've got Malfoy on it."
"Bet Malfoy caused it," Jangles muttered from the wall. Harry whipped around forcefully.
He snapped at him before Dawlish could respond. "Will you shut it about Malfoy already? He's brilliant at his job which is more than I can say for you."
Jangles' scowl turned into a smirk as his eyes focused behind Harry.
Dawlish put a hand on Harry's shoulder. "Good on you for standing up for him, Potter. You can write up the ward report then, thanks for volunteering."
Harry's mouth spluttered open and Ron shot him a "sorry, mate" look.
Harry waited for the alarms to shut off before using his mirror to contact Malfoy for details. Maybe he could spit it out now that he had had some time to practice what he wanted to say in his head. He took a deep breath.
Malfoy's office came into focus in his glass, swirling a darker grey than normal. He wasn't in the room. Harry exhaled in equal relief and disappointment. The lights were off and he had to squint to see. The office was empty but his desk actually had paperwork spread across it for once. Harry grinned. The giant text book lay open, abandoned. Malfoy must've left in a rush to fix that ward, he thought. Harry's eyes paused on a familiar folder and his heart caught in his throat. He saw his green tab for the Muggle incident and his sloppy handwriting across the front. Fergilius Fern.
Dread filled Harry's gut like a tide and clenched down, pinning him to his seat. His head was swimming. What was Malfoy-
He heard the sound of the door knob turning and quickly put his mirror down. The scene slipped off the smooth surface and then it was only reflecting the head lights from Harry's ceiling.
He sat there for a few moments, blankly processing nothing. He quickly checked the Ministry archives again for the name. Fergilius Fern was back in the system. Except he couldn't read anything in the profile beyond the Ministry tags. British citizenship. 54 years old. Enlisted in the Wizard Protection Program. File: Classified information. Unspeakable Access Only.
He ran a hand through his hair and down his face. What-
A thick stack of papers that flew into his inbox startled him. He pulled it out to read the note attached.
Was told you got stuck with the report. Since you hate writing these...
It was the full report on the ward malfunction, completely filled out.
Harry's stomach churned before sinking like a stone, heavy with unease.
"Relationship trouble?" Hermione asked, opening the door for Harry. He had been pounding at it relentlessly. His heart beat quickly but his mind was racing ahead of it.
"Hermione, I need to ask you something important-" he said, pushing his way into her and Ron's home.
"Okay," she said, wrapping her bathrobe about her tightly against the wind. She shut the door behind him.
"Is Ron home?" he asked.
"He's out with Seamus. Harry, what's wrong?"
"What do you know about the author B.P. Appearo?"
Her eyes brightened and Harry was glad she recognized the name. "He writes textbooks on transport," she said.
"Wards and transport?"
"Yes." Hermione clasped her hands together. "Have you read them?"
"No," Harry answered coldly. "I haven't. Explain it to me. Please."
"Oh, you should read them for yourself if you have the time. He's famous for his dimensional theories. He writes about transporting matter, you know, like- like food, a train. Or even a person. It's supposed to be extremely hard to do, and I doubt anyone actually can, but there are spells and diagrams."
She paused to see if Harry was following. He nodded.
She drew in a deep breath and went on, "It's not the same as apparition, not really- because you can apparate someone with you or take something with you only if you are holding on to them physically. Transport is different, there is no contact, and takes much more magic. It drains a Wizard so that they can't perform even the simplest spells. Or worse, if you move more matter than you have magic for, it causes damage to the body. It's not like splinching, because you're not quite leaving something behind, but it's more internal and Harry, am I going too fast? Have I lost you?"
Harry's mind was flickering between the last things she said. Can't perform the simplest spells. Malfoy couldn't heal the bruises on his face, or test out his old wand that day Harry gave it back. He couldn't even Alohamora the door to Harry's house let alone apparate home that night. It's not that he didn't use his wand to fight that Auror, he couldn't.
Damage to the body was clear enough already. Harry thought about the scar on his chest, the limping and the blood. The damage was getting progressively worse. What was Malfoy trying so hard to transport?
So his job was dangerous, Malfoy had told him that himself. But that didn't explain the Wizard in Protective Services. Why he had gone missing from the system, and why he was back now. Perhaps this was a part of Malfoy's job too, but plucking identities from Ministry archives hardly seemed normal protocol, even for an Unspeakable and-could Malfoy be practicing transporting people? Transporting Fergilius Fern? No, that made no sense. Hermione even said she didn't think it was possible, why would the Ministry send Malfoy on a wild goose chase?
He snapped back to her. "Sorry, Hermione, I was just thinking."
"That's alright. Did that help much?"
"Yes, thank you." Harry stood up.
"By the way, Harry, erm..." Hermione tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. "Do you think you could figure out from Ron what date our anniversary is? I keep feeling like it's coming up and I can't remember the date at all. Please don't tell him I said so."
Harry laughed so hard Hermione asked him twice if he was mental.
When Harry Floo'd in to work in the morning, there was a huge hubbub in the office. Everyone was excitedly talking about a sentence at Azkaban but Harry barely heard a word anyone said to him. He was still thinking about Malfoy. He needed to talk to him.
"Harry!" Ron shouted from a group of junior Aurors crowded in the hall.
"Hey, Ron," Harry said, shifting by them to get through.
"Um," Ron said, looking up tentatively. "I know you're sort of friends with Malfoy, now, so do you think he's going to come in to work today?"
"Yeah, probably, why?"
Ron showed him the front cover of the paper. "Lucius is being Kissed today. They've had it scheduled for ages. Did you know? I always just skip to the comics-"
"Oh my God."
Harry bolted to the lift.
Malfoy's fucking office was empty again and locked. Harry pried at the doorknob, both hands on the handle and a foot to the doorjam. He froze suddenly and almost on a gut feeling, turned to head towards the bathroom at the end of the hall where he heard soft voices.
Harry rushed in with his wand out before him. He was trembling in anger and fear and his heart wrenched wretchedly in his chest. Everything was confirmed in an ugly instant.
An old and greying Lucius Malfoy was standing next to his son who was bleeding profusely from his nose, his mouth, his throat- Harry couldn't tell- it was all pooling together and seeping angry and red into his robes.
Lucius looked to his son, his flaring nostrils the only sign of panic on his face.
"This is Fergilius Fern," Draco croaked out, gesturing to his father. "He's in the Wizard Protection Program."
"Malfoy," Harry warned, pointing his wand like an accusing finger. He briefly wondered why the wards weren't going off until he remembered Malfoy had been the last one to touch them.
"Lower your wand, Potter," Malfoy ordered. An air bubble slipped to the side of his mouth in the oozing blood. His legs were shaking. "Potter, lower your wand!"
Harry didn't. He thought about Malfoy kissing him that morning when Harry asked too many questions. He thought about Malfoy coming on to him in the mirror after becoming Head Auror.
Do you think hes using you? Hermione had asked.
Malfoy shoved his own wand into his father's hand. "GO!" he shouted.
Lucius hesitated for a moment before accepting it and bolting out the door. Harry let him and heard Lucius cast a disillusionment charm behind him.
Malfoy's face was tense but his eyes were clear as he looked at Harry. He was still breathing heavily, ragged and loud, his chest heaving violently under stained robes. Harry's wand hand dropped to his side. Malfoy closed his eyes and slid down into a sitting position on the floor. His fingers left red smears on the ground where they dragged. Harry was trying to speak but his chest was too tight and his throat was closed around a lump of hurt that ached and burned. His lungs and limbs were on fire. The smell of blood was metallic and sticky and Harry hated the taste in of his mouth. He hated everything. Malfoy opened his eyes again and winced with the effort. His lips were parted and blood caked the corners of his unapologetic mouth.
"You're Head Auror, Potter. Don't forget that."
Harry raised his wand again, determined.
"Harry!" Malfoy's voice was strained.
"Expecto Patronum!" Harry flicked his wrist and a blinding white stag burst from the tip of his wand. He kneeled beside Malfoy, taking his hand in his and bringing it to his chest. "I've just sent for help, just hold on. What will we tell them when they come?"
A/N I hope the overall theme of guilt transfer was transparent.
-Edit- 8/16 Do you guys really want another chapter/sequel? :/