SYNPOSIS: After defeating Voldemort, Harry finds that he doesn't know what he wants to do with his life. An opportunity arises for him, a potential job that's both dangerous and adventurous. However, Harry encounters more than a potential career; he bumps into Malfoy and begins to discover that Malfoy's situation is much worse than his. Harry and Malfoy's lives intertwine making for interesting and unexpected situations that ultimately begins to morph their heated rivalry into chemistry, altering their relationship.
WARNING: Male sexual situations. If you don't feel comfortable reading that, please don't.
Spoilers: HP books1-7. Also, there are spoilers for the HP 7 movie Part 2. I loved the battle between Voldie and Harry in the movie more than what actually happened in the book, so I'm going to use that briefly.
It was a crisp fall day when Harry stepped into his small one bedroom apartment. His apartment was located right on the edge of Scotland and England so he could be close to Hogwarts, in case he ever felt nostalgic and wanted to visit Dumbledore again, and also not too far from where the Weasleys were. After all, they were his second family, his only family now.
As Harry took his coat off and set it down on the table, he thought of Remus and Tonks again. He couldn't believe it had been three months already - three months since they died, and two months since the Hogwart's graduation ceremony. Harry still remembered holding his diploma, which magically changed colors, as he hugged Ron and Hermione and cheered with his other friends. They had thrown a feast in Harry's honor just before graduation to celebrate his defeat of Voldemort. He had never experienced that much attention all at once before. It had been overwhelming. A part of him didn't want to leave. He felt like he hadn't been able to enjoy everything Hogwarts offered because he had been so focused on surviving.
Sighing, Harry walked up to the bedroom where Hedwig lay curled up sleeping. She was getting old now and so she slept quite a bit. Harry didn't use her for errands anymore. He bought a brand new owl recently, a very young one that was a golden brown with streaks of red, which reminded him of Fawkes. He named him Sev, in memory of Snape. There was a picture of his parents and him as a baby on his nightstand. Alongside that was one of Remus, Tonks and baby Teddy. Thinking of Teddy brought back memories of the poor baby who had lost his parents in the war. Harry was probably the closest thing to family he had, but he had no way of taking care of him. If he was honest with himself, he didn't want to take care of a child.
In fact, despite wanting to carry on the Potter line so it wouldn't end with him, he wasn't sure he wanted children. He shook his head of the thoughts. Teddy had found a good home and had been adopted by friends of Mrs. Weasley. It was the best he could have hoped for. Mrs. Weasley said she would visit him. Harry had yet to visit the baby. The wound of losing Remus was still fresh.
A sound came at the window and Harry turned to see a large black and brown owl. Sighing, Harry opened the window. The bird dropped several letters with the Ministry seal on the back and after Harry gave him some coins and a cracker, he took off again. Harry closed the window and kicked the letters into the pile that had begun to form by his bed. The Ministry was trying so hard to employ him since he had graduated. He didn't want to become an Auror and he wasn't sure he wanted to work for the Ministry in any way. Harry just ignored them all. He had done his part; he had sacrificed a lot to stop Voldemort and had lost the remainder of the connection to his parents. He wanted to be left alone so he could figure out what he wanted to do with his life.
Harry decided to get some rest so he could forget about all that he had lost. He fell asleep the moment his head hit the pillow.
The next morning, Harry headed to the Opaleye, a new restaurant that had recently opened in Hogsmeade. It was on the other side from where The Three Broomsticks was. As he stepped inside, he could tell instantly why it was so popular. The entire ceiling had been enchanted to look like a sunrise. Clouds were drifting across the ceiling to various parts of the restaurant. Suddenly, a figure appeared in the ceiling. It was an enormous dragon with pearly-white scales glimmering over its body. It flapped its scaly wings and then turned its body to stare at him. The eyes were multicolored – blue, green and magenta swirled together. It flew away and vanished.
Turning, Harry saw Hermione waving at him from a table. He hurried over to the table where she and Ron were seated. Ron was eating what looked like fried dragon scales.
"That's not real is it?"
Ron swallowed and glanced down at his plate. "Blimey, no, Harry. They just make them look like dragon scales. They're really good, mate, you should try some."
"This is such a wonderful place," Hermione interjected. "Did you see the Antipodean Opaleye in the ceiling?"
"Is that the dragon?"
Hermione nodded. "That's the dragon this place was named after. It's one of the more rare dragons native to New Zealand. The last sighting was decades ago. They're practically extinct. I think the owners of this place support the Protect Our Scaly Friends company, or maybe it was the Dragon Protection Agency. I can't remember now."
She frowned, clearly upset that she wasn't sure about something. Harry just smiled.
"How have you two been?"
"Good. It's so nice to not have homework anymore," Ron said with a mouthful of food.
Suddenly, before Hermione could open her mouth a waiter appeared.
"May I get you anything?" he asked Harry.
"Er, do you have Butterbeer?"
"Sure do," he said grinning. "We have all kinds of flavors. And our specialty Butterbeers – our own recipes."
"Oh, er, I'd like to try one of the specialties."
"Wonderful choice! I would recommend the mocha raspberry fizz, or the ginger snap fizz. One of our top sellers is the sweet vanilla fizz."
"I'll try that one," Harry said.
The waiter nodded. "It will be out in a- blimey!" his eyes suddenly widened. Harry froze and glanced at Ron who was not-so-subtly pointing toward his forehead. "You're…you're Harry Potter!"
"Er, I'd appreciate it if you didn't let anyone else know."
"Yeah, poor Harry can never get a break from the press," Hermione said, giving him a sorrowful look.
The waiter just smiled and reached out to shake Harry's hand. "No problem, Mr. Potter, you can count on me."
With that, he apparated away and came back a minute later with Harry's Butterbeer. "Extra large on the house," he said.
Ron's eyes bugged out at the size of the large mug, at least twice the size of one of the larger mugs at Butterbeer.
Harry stared at it a little overwhelmed. "Er, thanks."
"Would any of you like anything else?"
"Er, no thanks," Harry said. He had eaten some eggs and toast that morning. Hermione also declined. Finally, the waiter vanished and Harry breathed a sigh of relief.
Harry stared down at his drink. It was foamy at the top and glimmered a little. He took a sip of the warm, relaxing beverage and was pleased to find that it was a subtle but sweet taste and it fizzed in his mouth like soda.
"So, Harry, have you decided what you want to do?" Hermione asked.
Harry sighed and shook his head. "No."
"Didn't you want to become an Auror?" Ron asked.
Harry took another sip and then shook his head. "To be honest, I never really had an interest. I only said that because at the time I was doing the best in my Dark Arts class and I figured that it was a logical job for me. Truthfully, it doesn't sound appealing at all, not after everything."
Hermione nodded and reached over to pat his hand gently. "I understand, Harry. You need a break. You've been through a lot; we've all been through a lot, but you especially. I'm sure you don't want to be fighting anymore."
"What about Quidditch?" Ron perked up.
Harry smiled. "Sorry, Ron, I love Quidditch, but I just think that I don't love it enough for it to consume my life like that, er, professionally that is. I don't know what I want to do."
"Well, what do you like to do?" Hermione asked, sipping her water.
Harry shrugged. "I don't know. I can't choose a class at Hogwarts, besides Defense Against the Dark Arts that I actually wanted to learn. Although Charms class was fun sometimes too."
Ron made a face. "Not for me."
Hermione scrunched her face in thought. "Well, it seems to me that you just love magic in general. It's a shame that you couldn't study sorcery like Dumbledore did."
"Sorcery?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, it's the study of all forms of magic. It requires continuous, in-depth research and practice. You have to mentor yourself basically through books. A lot of sorcery books were destroyed in the first war though. It doesn't do much for jobs these days either. If anything, you could work for the Ministry but it still requires some Auror training."
"Being an Auror isn't so bad. You get paid nicely," Ron said. "My dad got me a position in the Ministry as an assistant to the Department of Muggle Studies."
Ron didn't look thrilled. "He said it will be a good opportunity for me. I mean, being in the Ministry has great benefits, but it's so dull. I'd prefer to play Quidditch."
"You're trying out?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, I have been, but they still say I'm too amateur. Er, at least one league did. If that doesn't work out though, Charlie said I could get into dragon training!"
"Dragon training? Sounds brutal," Hermione said.
Ron gave her a look. "Not any more dangerous than Quidditch. I'd prefer fire to a bludger to the head. Besides, there's actually more money in dragon training now! Since dragons are still being hunted, though sparsely now, they've decided to protect them by putting them into competitions. And they show it live like a Quidditch game! It's like the Triwizard Tournament, except without the death and the dark lord."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Sounds promising. What do you do?"
Ron sat up in his seat. "Well, Charlie told me that the dragons that they have in protection breed and produce babies, of course, and then when they hatch he starts training them, you know, getting them used to humans. They get treated really well and they get to fly around huge areas and they have a charm cast upon them so they don't run away. They get lured back using magic too! And then there are these competitions where people ride dragons to race one another, and they even train them to do amazing things. People love it!"
"It sounds like you really want to do it," Harry said, "so you should just do that."
Ron nodded. "Charlie is trying to get me an interview right now. As soon as he does I'm going to Australia, that's where Charlie is right now. He moves around because they take the dragons and competitions to other parts of the world. Plus, the company also has a research department where they study all species of dragons and come out with books and stuff."
"That sounds interesting," Hermione said.
Harry and Ron exchanged a glance.
"Well, Harry, you'll just have to think of something you really want to do. Do some research on what's out there," Hermione suggested.
Harry felt disappointment wash over him. He didn't want to be lazy about it, but researching jobs didn't sound fun at all. And he had no idea what he was looking for anyway.
"Hey, you know, Neville just got a job in Herbology and he helped Dean get a job. Maybe the place he works for has openings. He might be able to help you too."
Harry felt a flutter of hope. "Yeah, that'd be great. I'll owl him tonight then."
"Perfect! Soon we'll all be in our own careers," Hermione said, smiling wistfully. "I can't wait to wait to start my apprenticeship at St. Gunhilda. I'm studying magical medicine, which includes analyzing potions and illnesses and even certain charms."
"Wow," Harry said. "I didn't know you were interested in medicine."
"Yeah, neither did I, but it makes sense. It requires a lot of study and research and expertise in potion making. I got good marks in potions, especially once Professor Snape was gone," she said with a humph. "Anyway, I love research and if I could help people, or maybe event my own synthesis of a potion to find the cure for something, that would be my dream! Just like Gunhilda."
"Who's Gundhilda?" Ron asked.
Hermione gave him a look and then glanced at Harry who shrugged. "Honestly! She's on a famous wizard card, you know. That's who the clinic is named after. She found the cure for Dragon Pox."
Ron shrugged. "Alright, well, we should be off. We're having dinner with the family. Er, you're welcome to join us Harry."
Harry suddenly felt out of place, staring at Ron's awkward expression for inviting him at the last minute. He knew why he hadn't had an immediate invitation.
"Er, it's alright, Ron."
Ron rubbed his neck sheepishly. "I would've invited you Harry, but I just didn't know if it would be awkward, you know, since you and Ginny broke up."
Harry nodded. "It's okay. Actually, I have to do some errands anyway, but maybe next time. Tell your mum and dad I said hi."
Harry stood up having finished more than half of his butterbeer and feeling rather content. Ron and Hermione stood up as well.
"Take care of yourself, Harry. And don't be a stranger. Owl me anytime," Hermione said, giving him a hug.
"Me too," Ron said, smiling. "You know you can come over for Christmas. You're always welcome. And I'm sure Charlie and Bill would love to see you again."
"Thanks, that sounds great," Harry said, smiling.
He patted Ron on the back and then he took off to go home. He wanted to owl Neville right away. Sighing, he thought it was funny that he didn't feel that disappointed he wasn't invited to dinner. Perhaps it was because he usually went over there several times a month, or maybe because it would be awkward with Ginny there. They had broken up at the end of their sixth year for safety due to Voldemort, and then once Harry had defeated Voldemort Ginny approached him wanting to reunite. Harry cared about her a lot, but he knew she would want marriage and she just didn't seem…right. She was beautiful, smart, kind – a lot like his mother. Maybe that was why; she was too much like her. She even had red hair.
It was more than that though. Harry's attraction to her wasn't that strong anymore and he was afraid that if they got involved again and he continued to feel that way, then Ginny would really be hurt. Truthfully, Harry also knew that Mrs. Weasley would not only push for marriage, since she and Mr. Weasley had been married young, but then kids soon after that. Harry was definitely not ready for kids. He wanted kids, but he didn't feel ready, and he also felt like he only wanted them to keep his parents and his bloodline going. Was that a good enough reason to have kids? Wasn't that selfish?
When Harry got home he mailed his owl to Neville hoping that something good would come out of it. At least if he had a job opportunity it would give him something to do. He was going crazy out of boredom and not knowing what to do with his life.
Harry took a shower and slumped down on the bed. Hedwig flew over to him and landed next to him. He stroked her feathers gently.
"It's wrong to be bored, isn't it?" Harry said aloud to Hedwig, who just cocked her head curiously. "I mean, this is what I wanted, a normal life. I'm so happy to be alive and defeating Voldemort gave me such…relief and confidence in my future, but I just don't know what to do with myself. My fame is always going to be a nuisance, but I'd rather have that than Voldemort any day," Harry said, wincing at the horrible memories.
He still remembered Voldemort chasing him through Hogwarts, furious that he had survived the killing curse yet again. Little did Voldemort know that it was because of the Horcrux. He remembered Voldemort's cold hand on his throat, how his magic burned him as he was choked and bound by the black binds. Mostly, he remembered the look in Voldemort's eyes as their wands clashed for the last time. Watching Voldemort disintegrate had been both shocking and disturbing. He didn't feel the relief until the battle was over and the surviving Death Eaters fled.
"I can't believe it's over. It consumed my entire life at Hogwarts. I probably missed out on a lot there," Harry mused. "Bella died, thanks to Mrs. Weasley. There were casualties, but thankfully a lot of my friends survived. Strangely, even the Malfoys survived."
Harry remembered the Malfoys fleeing the scene together. Lucius and Narcissa had only been concerned about Draco at the time, and also surviving. He knew that the Ministry would still come after them, however, for their crimes of serving Voldemort. Lucius especially because he had attacked Harry, tried to kill him, and was responsible for helping Voldemort to power. Not to mention he had nearly killed Ginny. Harry hadn't thought about any of the Death Eaters since that day. He wondered how many Death Eaters the Ministry had caught. So far, he had been ignoring the Minister and any Ministry members' owls to him.
Harry lay down in his bed and thought about Hogwarts. He missed those days. He missed Hagrid. He didn't get to visit him much, or at least he hadn't been motivated to go there more than a handful of times since graduation. It brought back so many memories. Harry was envious of the students there who would get to enjoy Hogwarts at its fullest with no war or fear or evil professors, like Umbridge and even Snape.
Thinking about Snape brought back a painful twinge for the older man. He had not only been a spy for Dumbledore the whole time, having carefully kept his feelings and memories locked away from Voldemort, but he sincerely cared about Harry. He had treated Harry so badly that it wasn't obvious at all. The saddest part was that Snape had been in love with his mom, Lily – so in love that he protected her even when she was married and with a baby; so in love that he never married or gave his heart to anyone else and that saddened him. Harry didn't even get a chance to say goodbye or start over with Snape after he learned the truth; he was already dead.
Then his thoughts strayed to a place he thought they wouldn't go: to Voldemort. What had really happened to him? Did he turn into that thing that Harry saw when he visited Dumbledore in limbo? Was Voldemort unable to move on to join his mother, his family, and stay in limbo for all eternity? Harry shuddered at the thought. Voldemort had conquered death, but that was his reward. He got his eternity, but it would be forever alone, forever powerless, and maybe even in agony. Death was much more merciful than that. When Harry had been prepared to die in the Forbidden Forest, with his parents' ghosts, along with Sirius and Remus, death wasn't so scary. He would get to see them again and have a second chance with them in the afterlife.
He was so grateful that he was alive, that he had his friends, and that the Potter blood wasn't gone yet. At the same time, he was missing something. What was it? Maybe it was just that he hadn't found his place in the world. Or maybe he really wanted to find his soulmate, like his parents had found each other. He wasn't sure exactly why he wasn't entirely happy, but he knew that he wouldn't stop searching until he found it.
A couple days later Harry received a reply from Neville:
I'm glad to hear from you! It's been a while. I'm sorry to hear you're still having trouble deciding what you want to do. Actually, it's good that you contacted me. I'm working for a herbology company called Heleborey who just expanded with another company that specializes in environmental research. They're looking for some new people to hire to fill in the position of their researchers. I know they would most definitely love to meet with you, not just because you're Harry Potter, but you fit their credentials. They need someone who's very magically advanced but also someone not afraid of challenges. I think you'd be perfect! I already spoke to the head of the Department of Herbology Research. His name is Dimitri Sage and he's already looking forward to interviewing you. Hopefully, you're available tomorrow around eleven. If not, you can contact him directly and set up another time. Good luck, Harry!
Harry couldn't believe it. Neville was a lifesaver. He immediately went out to buy a nice formal outfit one with a white button down shirt and collar, and a nice pair of black work pants. He thought a tie would be a little too formal for a research department so he decided against it.
The next day when he showed up at the large multi-story building he found that the lobby had elevators like the Ministry building. They were much simpler and only went to their designated floors. Harry looked at the floor map glimmering on the stone floor as he walked in. He found that the Department of Herbology Research was on the third floor.
He went into the elevator and pushed the button. Suddenly, a person's hand shot through the elevator doors and Harry jumped, whipping out his wand from inside his robe. The doors opened and a young boy, probably younger than Harry by a couple years, walked in. The boy had glasses like him, but they were thick plastic-rimmed glasses. Harry had the simple thin-rimmed glasses with black frames that Remus had gotten him last Christmas. The boy glanced up at him as he entered and didn't smile.
"Sorry, I'm running late."
Harry just nodded and put his wand back in his robe. Feeling nervous about the interview, Harry wrung his hand through his hair, messing up his bangs and then straightening them out.
Harry turned and felt his stomach flip when he saw the look the young boy was giving him. It was then he realized what he had done. Wringing his hand through his hair had revealed his scar.
"You're Harry Potter!"
"Er…," Harry just stood there uncertainly. He really wished he hadn't let him on.
"I'm Cyprian Hengist," he said holding out his hand.
His expression was now one of excitement and Harry reluctantly shook his hand. "Er, hi."
He blinked, suddenly recognizing his last name.
"Are you related to Hengist of Woodcroft?" Harry asked curiously.
Cyprian grinned. "Yes, he was my great, great, great, however many, grandfather. He was the founder of Hogsmeade. My family still owns Hogsmeade, or at least the main village which my ancestor founded. We're still trying to bring in more and more business. Our goal is to expand it so that it takes over Knockturn Alley. We want to replace all those horrible useless shops with some good ones. Anyway, that's what my parents mainly do. I work here for the Department of Herbology Research."
Harry glanced at him surprised.
"It looks like you're going to the same place. Do you have an interview?"
"Wonderful! I know you'll get in!"
The doors thankfully opened and they both stepped out. Cyprian walked alongside him talking to him about the department.
"I know where Dimitri's office is so I'll take you to him. I assume you're going to do the outside research."
"Outside research?" Harry asked.
Cyprian smiled and adjusted his glasses. "Oh yes, I'm a researcher who compiles all the data and turns them into books which we sell in volumes based on our years of research. We always come out with a new volume of up-to-date changes and information about any new plants or species of plants that we've discovered. I stay here in the department and compile all the information while a team of wizards and witches actually goes out there to collect the data. That's probably what you'll be doing which is disappointing because that means I'll only see you when you bring back the data after an assignment."
Harry nodded awkwardly as Cyprian stopped in front of an office door. Dimitri Sage's name was gleaming on the door.
"No problem, Harry. Hope to see you around."
With that Cyprian grinned and turned to walk away. Harry breathed a sigh of relief once he was gone. He knocked on the door and in a matter of seconds it flung open on its own.
"Come in, come in. Is that you Mr. Potter?"
"Er, yes, sir," Harry said.
He heard a chuckle from somewhere nearby. "So polite. Well, I shouldn't expect anything less from you. You may take a seat."
Harry walked in staring at the large office with a marble floor, a simple brown rug that seemed to change designs magically, a tall slanted ceiling, and several plush chairs situated before a large black desk. Dimitri was sitting at the desk sipping a cup of tea. Harry sat down in one of the chairs across from him.
"Welcome, Mr. Potter. Neville has told me a great deal about you. He is one of our top researchers. He says that you taught him very well," Dimitri said, smiling.
Harry smiled back and nodded. "Er, yeah we grew up together. He taught me a lot as well."
"So humble you are, Harry," Dimitri said. "I like that about you. Not at all like the papers describe you. Of course Rita Skeeter changes her opinion every day so I scarcely believe anything she says. Tell me, Harry, what is it that brought you to consider our department?"
"Well, sir, I have been searching for what I might want to do, as a career, and Neville suggested that I might enjoy your department because it requires advanced magical training and it's challenging. Those are some of my strong suits," he said as he had rehearsed the night before. "I was top in my class in Defense Against the Dark Arts."
"Yes, your defeat of the Dark Lord proved that much," Dimitri said grinning as his eyes gleamed brightly.
"Yes, er, and I was considering becoming an Auror in my fifth year, but I've decided against that."
"Ah, yes, it probably reminds you too much of your battles with the Dark Lord and his army."
Harry blinked realizing that it was very much true. The man seemed to understand where he was coming from.
"So you're uncertain exactly what you want to do then?" Dimitri asked putting his hands together thoughtfully.
Harry nodded. "Yes, sir, but I'm very dedicated to anything I put my mind to. I love magic, any kind of magic really, and I do like the idea of having to go out and explore the wizard world and its type of magical plants and species."
"Ah, so someone told you already what you might be encountering here," he said smiling. "The wizard world you say? Ah yes, you grew up in the muggle world didn't you?"
Harry nodded hesitantly. "Yes, sir, I'm half muggle."
"Ah yes, of course, I remember that now," he said taking another sip of tea. "So you're curious to get to know this world that your other half comes from. Sort of like a search for your identity."
Harry grimaced at the exaggeration but he just nodded. "Yes, I guess so."
Dimitri smiled. "Well, I think you've come to the right place. As I'm sure Neville told you, we specialize in plant and environmental studies. We come out with volumes on the observations and personal encounters with these plants and environmental species," he said taking out a book from his shelf and floating it down to him.
Harry glanced at the golden cover page which gleamed at him Volume Five: Plants with Healing Properties.
"We are a rather new and up-and-coming company. You see, there has been research out there on plants and their useful properties, such as in potions and whatnot, but much of the information is scattered and incomplete. My family created this company years ago, back before the Dark Lord first appeared, and it was when my father discovered a unusual property of the Helebore plant on his explorations. Anyway, he loved Herbology and read every book he could get his hands on, but many of the books were either vague or contradictory. You see, not many people actually take the time to go out and explore the plants in their natural environment to see what defenses they might have, or how they thrive, or even what they could possibly do for us. That's why we collect samples. We never endanger the plants or their environments, you see, we're just observers out to seek the truth. However, when in the field we require small samples to be taken so that our researchers back here can not only compile the information our teams observe out there in the wild, but also they test the properties in various potions and with various spells to see all the possibilities that a plant or plant species might possess. We are very thorough.
"You, Harry, have come at a most crucial time. We have been trying to hire people for our next volume, which is going to be called Dangerous and Carnivorous Plants."
Harry immediately realized why they thought he would be perfect for the job. It required some amount of danger or risk and since he had battled Voldemort numerous times they probably thought it would be easy for him.
"We are not trying to endanger your life at all, but there are species of plants out there that can be just as lethal as some nefarious creatures. Not many people are brave enough to venture out into the wild to observe these plants and get close enough to get a sample. You see, that's why we need you. We need to know what these plants are capable of and we need samples to see how beneficial they can be in a potion. Some of these more dangerous plants could provide cures for things like people who have been obliviated, or those whose minds have been altered. There were many casualties from the war, both of them, and many are still in St. Mungos or living their lives differently because there was only so much that could be done. We could really change the world with our research."
"Now, I will pay you a substantial amount for your service, Harry. I understand that there are some risks involved and some assignments can take weeks to finish in order to collect data. There are some spells I will teach you, not that you need to be taught, but they become useful in seeing what defenses and offenses a plant species might possess. Also, you will be provided specially charmed vials that will keep any samples you collect fresh no matter how long it takes you to complete an assignment. You will get your assignments by mail from me and you only have to come in to bring your samples and the observations you note, and also of course to receive your pay for that assignment. I will give you a guide sheet that you can take with you. It has questions about the types of things you should be watching for in your observations.
"Oh yes, and just so you're aware, we have a couple other people that we have hired recently. We usually have two people working on the same assignment because we like to make sure our observations aren't just a fluke. Sometimes other people encounter different situations with the same plant so we like to make sure our information is complete. This does not at all make your findings inferior or incomplete, you understand, we just like to be thorough. I just wanted you to know because sometimes when your assignments overlap you may run into teammates. You are welcome to work alongside anyone you wish, or you can do things independently. It's your choice. Most of the time, however, you will have different assignments from the other outside researchers. Do you have any questions?"
"Er, none that I can think of, sir."
Dimitri nodded. "Wonderful! I think you're perfect for the job so you have now been hired! I shall give you your first assignment today. You can start as early as tomorrow. There is no real time limit on these assignments, although our goal is to finish each volume by the end of the year so we have at least one that comes out every year. I have already prepared your first assignment, and here's the sheet for your observations and the spells to use to aid you," he said, handing Harry several documents. "I look forward to working with you, Mr. Potter."
Harry shook his hand and left the office feeling relieved yet overwhelmed. He was to start at early as the next day. The job didn't sound particularly difficult although it would depend on what sort of plants he was asked to encounter. Harry waited until he got back home before he opened the assignment letter.
Assignment One: Venomous Tentacula
This species of plant has spiky, dark red vines that can ensnare a person. It is in the same family as Devil's Snare, only the black circular spots on its vines are venomous, hence its name. What we don't know is exactly what happens when the black spots gets too close to a person. How does the poison seep out? That is one thing you will want to watch out for.
Also, we don't know much of its defenses if it's attacked, or even its vulnerabilities. This plant has been unable to be studied because no one has dared to get close enough to take samples. Their seeds have been used in potions before but they are extremely hard to come by. One must go into the wild and find ones that have been dormant from winter but haven't awoken yet. On its vines it will have produced some seeds in place of its poison but it's been in short supply for a long time. It would be most beneficial if you could retrieve a section of the plant that has a black venomous spot on it so that we may research the type of poison it produces. The only reason we know it is venomous is because an old researcher back in the day saw his friend get killed by it and barely escaped. There is not much else we know about this plant.
Please discover its defenses, offenses, and especially its vulnerabilities. If you can find samples of ones that have just started growing, the less mature ones, so that we may see how it grows that would be an extra, which you will certainly be rewarded for. From what we do know, one area it may reside in is the Wellesley Islands in Australia. It likes to live in very deeply dense clusters of forests, but they are very good at hiding. We believe that it likes to be near water as well.
Best of luck,
Harry stared down at the letter with raised eyebrows. They weren't starting him off easy, that was for sure. He cringed at the memory of Devil's Snare. So this plant was like Devil's Snare only venomous, which made it worse than Devil's Snare. That meant that perhaps it didn't have the same vulnerabilities as Devil's Snare. He would have to get a train ticket to get as far as he could and then he would have to rent a flying car. The flying car would probably take him to the islands but then he would need his broom to fly around and search for the plant. It would be a very long trip, but he knew the money would be good. Most of all the experience would help him figure out what he might want to do with the rest of his life.
Harry wrote letters to Ron and Hermione, telling them the good news, and then a thank you letter to Neville. Feeling as though things were looking up, Harry decided he would take on the assignment the following morning. He packed some of his potions that he thought might be useful on the trip, and studied the spells that Dimitri had given him. Just as he was getting undressed for bed a beautiful bronze-feathered owl appeared in the window. Harry let the large bird in and Hedwig watched it carefully. It was carrying a letter with a golden seal on the back – the Minister's seal. Harry paid the bird and watched it fly away before he opened the letter.
Dear Mr. Potter,
I hope this finds you in good health. It has been a while. I don't mean to trouble you, for I know that you have probably gotten numerous letters from members here at the Ministry. However, I must inform you that your presence would be greatly appreciated at an upcoming ceremony being held in your honor. The other Ministry members and myself have felt that you have sacrificed so much for your age, and have been through such an ordeal ever since you were a child, that you deserve acknowledgement for your struggles.
We would like to award you with a gift and celebrate the fact that our world is now looking toward brighter days, thanks to you. This celebration is in two weeks and I thought I would give you a heads up. It will be taking place here at the Ministry in front of other members of the Order and Ministry. I hope to see you then.
Harry smiled. He was very grateful that Kingsley Shaklebolt had become the next Minister after Scrimageour was killed. There was no better nor courageous man than Kingsley. He had helped protect Harry on numerous occasions. He hadn't seen the man since the Battle of Hogwarts. That's what it was being called now. Already there had been numerous articles about that night, and Harry's defeat of Voldemort. He just wanted to put everything behind him, but perhaps this celebration would be the closure he needed.
The next morning Harry was up early, making sure that Hedwig and Sev had plenty of food and water before he left. The trip to Australia was a long one. Despite having a magic train, it took a few hours before he reached the platform in which he then transferred to a flying car. The driver of the car was so ecstatic to have him aboard he nearly got caught flying into a building by muggles. Thankfully, he kept the invisibility shield intact. Harry fell asleep part way through the car ride.
"Here you are, Mr. Potter! Oh, by the way, may I have your autograph?"
Harry signed his name on the back of a Daily Prophet article, paid him, and then got on his broom. The Wellesley Islands were very stunning; he passed over large hills covered in forestry. He had no idea where to start searching. Harry flew for a while until he saw something interesting. It was a large area of land, completely isolated and without any buildings, or homes. There were clusters of forests and just beyond it was a lake or a pond. It was the perfect place to start.
Harry dove down toward the area at a high speed, feeling the rush of adrenaline like when he used to play Quidditch. He dove down toward the trees, making sure to dodge any tall branches. He saw the body of water in the distance and immediately sped forward.
Suddenly, something came in his peripheral vision but he was too slow to react. The object came flying at him from his left and struck him head-on. Harry was flung off his broom and managed a quick levitation spell just before he hit the ground. He groaned loudly, but thankful that nothing was broken. He slowly picked himself up and cursed loudly when he saw that his broom was nowhere to be found. He tried to call it with his wand to no avail.
Harry turned, startled at the sound of another voice. He walked over through some trees and saw that there was another broom dangling from a tree. It had a large crack down the middle of it which meant it would be of no use. Harry stopped when he saw another body, a male figure standing up wiping off his clothes. Thankfully it appeared to be another wizard. Perhaps it was another teammate like Dimitri had mentioned. If it was, Harry certainly made a bad first impression.
"Er, sorry about that, I didn't see you."
The man whirled around and Harry's jaw immediately opened in shock. The all-too-familiar gray-blue eyes narrowed the moment they laid on him.
"Malfoy!" Harry blurted out, his eyes wide and disbelieving.
Moving his blond bangs out of his face, Malfoy's eyes narrowed. "Potter! What the hell are you doing here?"
"Me? What are you doing here? I'm here on business."
Malfoy's expression turned sour. "Don't tell me you were sent here by Dimitri."
Harry gapped. "Wait, you're…you work for Dimitri too!"
Malfoy cursed and brushed off his jeans. "Just my luck!"
Harry stared at him, not having seen him since the Battle of Hogwarts. He remembered seeing Malfoy looking so defeated that day with his parents. Harry had recently saved his life that day as well. Flashes of memories came at him of the times Malfoy's cold exterior had been down: the time he was crying in the bathroom and then the time he was crying when attempting to kill Dumbledore. The night Voldemort had nearly taken over Hogwarts, Malfoy was looking so pale and fearful; it wasn't like him. He was looking more like the old Malfoy now, scowling and cursing. His tone didn't have as much hatred to it like when they were growing up together, but he still seemed very cold and distant.
"Did you get the Venomous Tentacula assignment?" Harry asked.
Malfoy gazed up at him and then rolled his eyes. "Obviously, Potter. Where the hell is my—fuck!"
Malfoy's eyes widened when he saw his broken broom. "Fuck, Potter, look what you did!"
Harry instantly felt his anger boil. "It wasn't my fault! You came out of nowhere! Why didn't you see me and get out of the way?"
"Because your fat head was too big to escape!" Malfoy snapped. "How the hell am I supposed to do my job and get out of here without a broom?"
"I can just get mine and…," Harry trailed off as he felt his throat constrict. "Oh shit."
Malfoy just stared at him. "What now, Potter? You lost your mind as well."
"My broom, it flew off! I don't know where it is! I can't even call it!"
"It's probably broken like my broom, Potter, because of your brilliant flying moves!"
"Shit!" Harry exclaimed, wringing his hands through his hair. "Maybe if we send up sparks someone will see it."
"What, like some muggle? We're miles from any town anyway!" Malfoy snapped.
Harry just stood there dumbfounded. Not only was he working in the same department and on the same assignment as Malfoy, but now he was in the middle of nowhere on an island, stranded with Malfoy.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Author's Note: Hey guys, I'm back! I know it's been a while! I haven't had much time to do fanfiction because of school and work, but I'm attempting to do this story. I should have a chapter out each week, as long as I'm not swarmed with homework. This story I hope will have a similar feel to Captivation and Pure Rhapsody with a bit of its own uniqueness.
As you guys know from my other stories, the romance progresses gradually to make it believable. I estimate that the actual romance will start by chapter 7 or 8, but in the meantime there will be situations leading up to it that are just as important. They do need to bond a little first, hehe! I will try to update as quickly and as often as possible!