AN: I know! It's a new story and I haven't finished Ordinary yet! I have by no means abandoned the other story, it is at that crucial point where whatever I write will change it all forever and I have yet to be satisfied with a chapter to publish. That said, I got hit with a plot bunny, and this is the result, the beginning of Harry's journey to healing with a large dose of acapella. After all, harmonies heal all.
Chapter 1 – The Debt
Harry sat down at the table thinking this was perhaps the most surreal experience he had ever had. And after spending seven years learning magic, battling dragons, time travel, escaped convicts, fame, and actually dying, that really meant something. It all began yesterday, the eve of his 18th birthday- Harry received an owl requesting a meeting for the next day. This wasn't too surprising as after he finally defeated Voldemort in early May, he had been inundated with requests for interviews, jobs, product endorsements, and (much to Ron's laughter) marriage proposals. Typically the young wizard would roll his eyes at whatever ludicrous request demanded and end the issue with a well-controlled incinerous charm. However, this request caused Harry to throw caution to the wind and send an affirmative reply with the delivery owl. After all, how often does one get invited to tea at Harrods with Lucius Malfoy?
At 3pm on his 18th birthday, Harry Potter found himself having afternoon tea with Lucius Malfoy at one of the muggle world's most famous locations. Harry found himself flabbergasted by the older man. Similar to the previous war, Death Eater trials were handled swiftly. Unlike the previous trials, Harry and his friends worked endlessly to ensure justice was properly served, they were determined that there would be no more Sirius Blacks or Barty Crouch incidents on their watch. The results were punishments that fit the crime. Harry was adamant that those involved in the war that acted in a way that lead to Voldemort's downfall not be thrown away in Azkaban for eternity. The Lucius Malfoy sitting in Harrod's was a direct result of one of Hermione's more brilliant ideas. Former Death Eaters who had shown a true level of remorse and intellectual transformation before the fall of the Dark Lord were offered the option of Correction Through Magical Suppression in lieu of prison time. Simply, the accused would be sentenced to a time period in which they would be prohibited from using magic of any kind unless expressly permitted by the Ministry, including any form of self-defense. Their wands were taken magical tracers embedded into the skin.
Harry ogled the man before him while Lucius silently and calmly poured them each tea after a quick and gentle "Good afternoon Mr. Potter". After one month of living as a muggle, Lucius had "gone native". Gone were the fine robes and long platinum blond hair. In its place were fine cut dark trousers and a cashmire sweater, in blue. Harry could hardly believe this man could ever be mistaken for the pureblood wizard of his childhood. Unable to contain his curiosity any longer, Harry decided to just start the conversation.
"I never expected to be invited to tea with you in general, and definitely not in such a location. Why don't you tell me why I'm here so we can both get on with our days."
Harry nibbled on a sandwich while Lucius watched him over his cup for a few minutes before the older man finally replied.
"Harry," He interrupted. Lucius merely raised an eyebrow and continued.
"Harry. I asked you to meet me here today to repay a debt owed to you by my family and myself." Lucius raised a hand to stop Harry from interrupting what was sure to be his predictable 'No-one-owes-me-anything' speech.
"I may not be permitted to perform magic for the next decade, but that does not stop magic from impacting myself. Your actions in regards to my family both during and after the war has placed a debt on my family that has been recognized by our magic and therefore compels us to respond."
Harry scratched the back of his head. This conversation wasn't what he expected, he thought Malfoy would try to get him to convince the Wizemgot to reduce his sentence or do an article for the Prophet that would boost Draco's public opinion. What kind of thing did Malfoy want to give him for debts? Money? Property? Old wizarding artifacts?
"Okay, Mr. Malfoy,"
"Lucius," the man interjected.
"Okay, Lucius. I have to admit, this is the first time I have been approached about magical debts. What did you have in mind? I don't want your money."
"I'm not offering you money, more like a pre-funded opportunity," Lucius replied. Harry merely raised an eyebrow.
"Allow me to explain how magical debts work, as you are sure to be the recipient of several. Once a debt has been made and recognized by Magic, he who is in debt becomes aware by a feeling of both gratitude and an unconscious awareness of how to fulfill the debt. If the person whom the debt is owed- meaning you, does not come up with their own request, Magic encourages us to find it for ourselves. Once we have stumbled across a solution that would fulfill the debt, we are compelled to do so. In the case of the debt owed to you, Harry, by myself and my family, I have become aware of an opportunity I have the unique power to provide."
Harry felt wary. "I'm sorry, it's very difficult for me to trust some kind of 'opportunity' from you."
Lucius merely nodded and pulled out a piece of parchment from the briefcase he had placed on the adjacent seat. "This is a document from the Ministry of Magic granting me permission to make a wizarding oath that what I am to offer you is to your interests with no efforts on my part to bring you and yours to harm. I took the oath on my magic in front of the witnesses listed at the bottom and they can offer a pensive memory that the paragraph written there is the entirety of the oath."
Harry sat back and let out a deep breath. The document seemed legitimate and the witnesses were people he could easily check up with. "Alright, I will still check the oath, but for now let's say I trust you. What did you have in mind for settling the debt?"
Lucius did something then that Harry had never witnessed before, he smiled. A genuine, gentle, smile. Harry had no idea how to react.
"Thank you, Harry. The explanation will involve some rather personal information about my family that I can hopefully entrust to you," Lucius said.
At Harry's nod, he continued. "Over the past few years, really since the war began, I have witnessed my son change from a lively, happy young man into the shell of his former self. As my son, he was thrusted into a role in the war that he both did not choose, nor understand until it was too late. As you are aware, towards the end of the war, the only goal my wife and I shared was to get our family, our son, out alive. With your help we achieved that goal, however; even though Draco survived, he was not living. His, not unlike your, childhood had been tainted by the Dark Lord. It would be impossible for him to be a normal teenager if he were to remain in England where he is considered a Death Eater and hated by much of the population, regardless of how he was thrust into the role."
Harry knew this was true. In the few months since the end of the war he had witnessed more than one Voldemort sympathizers attacked by the brutal mob-mentality of the great "survivors of the light". It would be impossible for Draco to expect to return to Hogwarts without facing extreme prejudice.
"My wife and I have decided to send Draco abroad," Lucius continued. "Draco is to finish his NEWTS at another school where instead of Draco Malfoy, Death Eater, he can simply be Draco, student. The day his acceptance letter arrived was the first time I have seen true joy on my son's face since he was 14 years old."
"Alright, I'm glad Draco has a plan to finish his education. I saw firsthand through visions of what he was forced to do. But, what does this have to do with me?"
Once again, Lucius smiled. Harry didn't think that would ever become normal to him.
"I want to grant your wish," he replied.
Now Harry was truly confused, "My wish?" he asked.
"Through Draco and others I have heard that you have dreamt of a life of peace where you would not be known as The Boy Who Lived or the Chosen One, but rather just Harry."
He blinked. How could Lucius have known? Next to having his parents back, his deepest desire was to be known and appreciated for himself, not some kind of hero
"How can I be 'Just Harry'? if you are suggesting I attend school with Draco, I seriously doubt that there is any school of magic where I will not be famous."
Lucius nodded. "You are of course, correct. Any school of magic that would be reasonable for you to attend you would face the same problems as Hogwarts."
"Then what are you suggesting?" Harry asked.
"I wish to provide you with the opprotunity to temporarily leave the magical world. A reprieve, if you will. Harry, you have faced things no teenager should ever face. Yes, the conflicts are over, but you need time to heal. You are not going to get that time in the Wizarding world. Everything you do will be noticed and recorded and shared with others. I am offering you an opportunity to go to a place where only a trusted few will know who you truly are. This will be a place where you get help to heal and simply be a child."
Harry stared at Lucius for a few minutes while the idea sunk in. He had to admit, that even though he was free of Voldemort, he was still in so much pain. Living at the Weasleys had been nice in the way he got to be around the people he loved, but it was also stifling. The recent loss of Fred tore at the family. Harry didn't know how to experience his own pain and issues amongst those who lost a brother or son. His nightmares continued, and he had to admit, he wasn't sure how long he would be able to last in such an environment. But, Harry had no idea where he could go. He still had Grimmauld Place, but the memories of Sirius were soaked into every room. There was talk about letting students return for an "Eighth Year" at Hogwarts, and no matter how much the castle had once been his home, Harry didn't think he could handle a year of stares and whispers and hero worship. Harry felt himself choked up at Lucius' offer. He was amazed this man knew what he needed. He cleared his throat and replied.
"Where would this be?"
Once again Lucius reached into his briefcase, this time pulling out a shiny muggle brochure. "Have you ever been to Ohio?"