Disclaimer, Thank You's, Summary, and Author's Notes:
This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
This fic was written for the 2013 round of the hd_fan_fair, the H/D Book Fair, on Live Journal based on a prompt submitted by the lovely Vaysh11.
EWE. Ginny and Harry? Never happened. Largely canon otherwise.
Set four years after the Battle of Hogwarts, three years after Draco was abducted by person or persons unknown. Draco is now living in a small Muggle community and working in a library with no idea the Wizarding World exists, until one day, a bloke with a mop of just-shagged black hair comes in for storytime with a little boy to get out of the rain.
Thank you to my Project Team Betas, AryaEragonPrincessShadeslayer and Asille Nellum, for volunteering to beta the whole thing, as well as Arones and Valdemort18 for their help with the beginning. And, of course, thank you to vaysh11for submitting such an awesome prompt!
HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT
From where he sat on the floor, quietly playing with his Chudley Cannons action figures, Teddy looked up at his uncle. The little boy had never seen his uncle unwell before; Uncle Harry was always there, always ready to play whatever game Teddy wanted, always ready to read Teddy's favourite books to him, always ready to just be Uncle Harry, but now he sat with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands, rocking back and forth. Uncle Harry had hardly spoken to him since they left storytime at the library, but now he whispered to himself so softly Teddy couldn't understand what he was saying.
Grannie was sometimes unwell—not often, but sometimes. But then, Grannie was old. Uncle Harry was old, too, of course—all big people were old, after all—but not the same kind of old that Grannie was. Uncle Harry was young-old; Grannie was old-old. Uncle Harry had just turned twenty-two, Teddy knew—he was a big boy now, big enough to help Aunt Molly make Uncle Harry's birthday cake and count the twenty-two candles for the top of the cake all by himself.
Sometimes, when Grannie was unwell, Teddy would give her Daggy to hold. Daggy was Teddy's favourite toy, a stuffed dragon he'd had his whole life. Teddy knew Mummy had given him Daggy when he was still just a baby. Sometimes Daggy made Grannie cry, but sometimes he made her smile. Teddy couldn't understand old people.
Daggy sat beside him on the floor, watching the little orange clad figures fly around the Quidditch pitch Uncle Harry had helped him set up before moving to sit on the couch by himself. Uncle Harry always played with his Chudley Cannons with him, but Teddy knew sometimes even he himself didn't feel good and didn't want to play. Picking up Daggy, Teddy stood up and walked over to Uncle Harry.
"You can hold Daggy if you want to, Uncle Hawwy."
Harry lifted his pounding head just enough to look at his godson. He felt like his heart was trying to beat its way out of his body. Teddy stood in front of him, holding the stuffed dragon Tonks had got him only the week before she'd been killed at the Battle of Hogwarts, offering the plush toy to him. Rather than the toy, it was Teddy Harry reached out for, holding the small boy to him tightly, unable to let go.
Harry ran his hand over the child's head, across his shoulder, down his arm. His breathing was steadier than it had been a moment ago; he no longer felt like he was on the verge of hyperventilating, but his grasp on himself was still tenuous at best.
"Don't you feel good, Uncle Hawwy?"
Don't I feel good? Harry had no idea how to answer that question. He had no idea how he felt: overwhelmed, overjoyed, destroyed, torn apart, made whole.
Harry's mouth had gone dry, and he had to struggle to get the words past the painful lump that had formed in his throat. "My head hurts, is all." He swallowed twice and turned his head towards the window; it was dark, and the rain was coming down in sheets. Forcing a smile on his face, Harry returned his attention to his godson, letting his fingertips trace down the child's arm. "It's getting late. How about we get you into the bath?"
Unlike most little boys, Teddy loved bath time. He loved the bubbles and splashing in the water. Harry would be soaked through, there would be puddles on the floor and the water would have long gone cold before he'd be able to coax the child out of the bath and into his pyjamas.
Harry got through the rest of the evening with Teddy by rote. While the boy lived with his grandmother, Harry had his godson with him enough that their evening routine was firmly set: playtime after dinner, bath after playtime, story time after bath time, bedtime after story time.
There were variations on the norm, of course. Like today. Today had been anything but the norm.
They'd arrived in Ilfracombe on holiday yesterday and gone on a day trip to Lundy Island, visiting the Marine Nature Reserve. A wizarding family had set up a diving company, and thanks to Bubble Head Charms and an assortment of other magical enchantments to both screen them from the eyes of surrounding Muggles and safe guards to protect young ones, even wizards as young as Teddy could explore the array of marine life below the water's surface.
But today the forecast had called for rain for the afternoon and evening.
As the morning had been clear, they'd ventured out to explore the Tunnels Beaches, and while Harry had watched on, Teddy had played with other children in a seawater bathing pool, which, formed by the tides, existed for only six hours at a time. Then the promised clouds had rolled in, turning the bright afternoon sky dark grey with the promise of heavy rain.
Not long after the rain had begun to fall, the Earth itself had fallen from under Harry's feet, and he felt like he'd been in a free-fall ever since.
The book he'd read to Teddy lay open to the last page of the story on Harry's lap. His breath shuddered, and his hands trembled. He felt ill. Needing something to do with his hands, Harry closed the book and set it on the small table beside his godson's bed before straightening the blankets over the sleeping child.
Not sure his legs would support his weight, Harry sat there for he didn't know how long, listening to Teddy's slow, steady breathing, trying to match his own to Teddy's.
Sometime later, Harry stood, swallowing hard, his hand gripping the back of the chair for support. Feeling almost entirely numb, he was only aware of the pounding in his chest and the churning in his stomach as he made his way through the cottage towards the fireplace that had been hooked up to the Floo Network and heavily warded for the duration of his stay.
Grabbing Floo powder and dropping to his knees, unable to feel the slate hearth beneath him, Harry lit the fire and threw the powder into the flames, watching them turn green, feeling oddly detached, as if he was an observer rather than a participant.
Falling forward onto his hands, he lowered his face into the green flames and called out. When a soft voice answered his tiredly, he spoke the words he'd almost given up hope of ever saying.
"I saw him. Draco. I saw Draco."
"You should've got his number."
"Don't be daft." Draco sighed, his eyes downcast as he absently toyed with his empty pint, tracing the bottom of the glass through the small puddle of condensation on the table. The local band they'd come to hear was playing in the back room, but the music barely registered in his consciousness. The only thing his mind seemed able to focus on was a mop of unruly black hair and a pair of preternaturally green eyes.
"Daft, indeed. A fit young bloke like him unable to take his eyes off you? Really, Draco, the poor boy looked beside himself when he left. Did you not see the way he kept looking back over his shoulder at you? I half expected him to run back in, grab you by the arm and drag you off. It was almost cruel of you to make him leave empty handed." His companion's words were followed by a dramatic sigh before she continued wistfully, leaving her voice trail off. "If a fit young thing like him were to look at me like that. . . ."
"Maybe I am cruel. Maybe I'm a cruel person." Draco's words were spoken so softly that had the band not been between songs, they never would've been audible to anyone, not even himself. Maybe that's why no one's ever come looking for me,he added silently.
Sitting across the table from Draco was his boss at the library, a very formidable woman in her early fifties called Joanne Hollingberry. Draco had been in Ilfracombe on the north coast of Devon for three years, and he had known Jo nearly that entire time, which effectively meant that he had known her nearly as long as he could remember. Draco had no memory of his life before waking up in hospital three years ago, in a place that had meant nothing to him, with a man whose face he hadn't known and whose words had made no sense leaning over him. Jo was not only his boss; she was his friend. For the last three years, she'd been the one who had kept him from losing what little of his mind he possessed. She could cut through the waves of despair and melancholy that sometimes washed over him, fight her way through the current when it felt strong enough to drag him under before it could wipe him off his feet and carry him away.
He wouldn't have lasted this long without her, and if, one day, she got tired of him and left him to fend for himself, he didn't know what he would do.
"Hey, now," Jo soothed. "Where'd that load of tripe come from all of a sudden, then?"
Spinach and liver and tripe . . . chocolate, peppermint and marmalade . . . but also grass, dirt, vomit, earwax, paper and bogeys. . . .
If Jo had said anything more, Draco hadn't heard it. As sometimes happened, he'd just . . . drifted away somewhere. While he had no concrete memory of his life before arriving in Ilfracombe, he sometimes had flashes of something else, something very different—so different as to be almost foreign, alien even. Things that made no sense, things he couldn't reconcile with reality. There was never anything he could quite grab hold of; the flashes he had were nothing but ephemeral wisps of smoke that dissipated before he could focus his mind on them.
Sometimes, what he saw in his mind during those brief flashes was so bizarre, it left him feeling certain he was going mad. He never told anyone of what he saw during the flashbacks. He was odd enough not knowing anything about himself other than his name; if people knew what he saw in his head sometimes, he was afraid to think what might happen. If he himself feared he was going mad, what might others think?
Anything could set off one of his odd flashes. Last month, while trying to make some kind of headway organizing the library's small storeroom—it shouldn't be possible for so much rubbish to accumulate in such a small area, surely—an old box had tipped over, and out had scurried a small, brown spider. Rather than seeing the spider in front of him, the image of another spider flashed through his mind—a spider the size of his hand, crawling on his face. He'd had nightmares for two weeks.
Just as troubling as the spider he'd seen in his mind was Draco's certainty that he'd been wearing robes. Long black robes with some type of emblem embroidered beside a green collar.
Truly unsettling was the fact that the robes from his flashback had been very like those shoved in a pile on the top shelf his cupboard at home—the robes he'd been wearing when he'd been found unconscious on the beach, the robes with the name Draco Malfoy sewn inside them.
Draco Malfoy, the name that, although he couldn't remember it and as odd as it was, he knew with absolute certainty was his name.
Across from him, Jo gave him a concerned look. He felt all out of sorts, like a fish out of water. He often felt that way, like he wasn't where he belonged, but tonight the feeling was particularly strong. Draco shook himself. Enough. He and his friends had come out tonight to the Bunch of Grapes for dinner and drinks and to hear this band play, and he hadn't heard a single song yet. One of his coworkers at the library had recently got engaged to the band's drummer, and they'd all come out after closing to celebrate the engagement and support the band. He would not allow one of his fits of melancholy to bring down everyone's evening.
The band had kicked back up and, forcing a smile on his face, Draco pushed his empty pint away and turned his attention to his friends. "There's a table open. Who's up for a game of skittle? Jo? I'll let you beat me."
"I always beat you. You're dreadful at any type of pool. And worse at darts."
"Then I'll pretend I let you beat me."
Taking the last chip from her plate, Jo rose to join Draco in a game, and, laughing, she popped the chip in her mouth.
In an instant, the good-humoured expression on her face changed. Her eyes opened wide, filled with fear. Her hand went to her throat. Her mouth moved as if trying to form words, but no sound came out. All around her, her friends began calling her name, their voices rising, drawing the attention of the patrons closest to them as Jo's panicked face quickly turned red.
Shouting now and jumping to their feet almost as one, Draco and his friends were gripped with fear. He was powerless. His good friend was choking, and he could do nothing but stand and watch helplessly. His right hand, hanging uselessly at his side, twitched. His fingers flexed and clenched, desperate to do something, but he had no idea what. He had no idea how to help a choking person. His mind raced—Do something! Do something! Do something! He felt certain there was something he could do, something that could help; he felt it down to the very marrow of his bones, but along with the first twenty or so years of his life, it simply wasn't there.
A chair was knocked over. Jo's face turned purple; her eyes bulged. How long had passed since she had taunted him over his abysmal skill at a pool table? Seconds? Twenty? Thirty? Had it been a full minute?
From across the room, a waiter ran to Jo. With the heel of his hand, he delivered five sharp blows to her back, directly between her shoulder blades. When the blows produced no result, he wrapped his arms around her middle, balling his right hand in a fist against her abdomen and covering it with his left. He spoke calmly and soothingly to her, reassuring her everything would be fine, she would be fine, but the look on his face—which Jo, fortunately, couldn't see as he stood behind her—did not match the calm confidence of his voice. He was as scared as they all were.
Beside Draco, Chloe Southway, another coworker of his at the library, jabbed nine-nine-nine into her mobile with a trembling finger.
Draco's stomach churned as the man wrapped his arms around Jo's middle and delivered hard thrusts to her abdomen, pressing forcefully upward. It appeared that he lifted Jo off her feet with each thrust, but just as the back blows had been, the abdominal thrusts proved ineffective. The obstruction remained lodged in Jo's throat.
Jo's eyes met Draco's, seeming to beg for help before rolling back into her head.
There was no conscious thought, his body reacted without need of direction from his brain. He moved purposefully towards his friend, his eyes locked directly on her throat. There wasn't time to think. From the moment Jo's eyes met his, Draco's body had begun to thrum with energy. He tingled with it from his head to his feet. His skin, his blood, his bones—he felt as if a current had begun building deep within him and was ready to burst forth.
His right hand raised towards Jo as if to point to her. With his mind focused on the thought of the chip stuck in his friend's throat, blocking her airway, one word shot through his head like lightning across the sky—ACCIO!
The waiter had delivered a blow between Jo's shoulder blades and had drawn his arm back in growing desperation to strike again, but before he brought his hand down a second time, the chip that had lodged itself in her throat shot back out, flying towards Draco and hitting him in the chest.
Immediately, Jo drew a sharp breath, then another. She sank heavily into a chair, one hand supporting her as she slumped forward against the table, the other still clutching at her throat. Her face had gone dark purple but was now returning to normal. No one spoke. Other than Jo's desperate, gulping breaths and the muffled sobs of someone behind him, there was no sound for at least five very long seconds until applause broke out all around them as the room erupted in cheers. Draco's friends were hugging, a few crying tears of relief. He didn't join in—couldn't join in. An arm wrapped around him low across his back, briefly squeezing him, withdrawing before he could force his body to respond, move to return the embrace. He felt paralyzed. His body had turned to lead where he stood.
Hands grabbed him by the shoulder, forcing him into a chair. A glass was pressed into his hand.
"Drink this, mate. You look like you could use it."
Draco obediently swallowed, unable to taste what he was drinking. He downed half the glass in one draught. Setting the glass down heavily, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
Draco nodded his head twice before he could force the single syllable through his lips. "Yeah." Inhaling deeply and slowly, he lowered his head, closing his eyes, his forehead pressed into his palm. "Yeah. Yeah, better. Thanks." Opening his eyes, Draco saw Julian Phillips sitting beside him. He nodded his head at Draco before turning his attention back to his fiancée, Kathleen, who was leaning against him heavily as she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. As soon as they'd realised what was happening, the band had stopped playing, and Julian had rushed from behind his drum kit to Kat's side the moment he'd seen who it was who had been choking. His own arms feeling very empty, Draco watched as Julian pressed a long kiss into Kat's hair, holding her tight.
There's chapter one! The whole story is written and betad, so updates will be fast. The story is about 57,000 words total. As it was originally written as part of a fest, it was written as a one shot, but I will be posting it here as chapters. I don't know yet how the chapters will be broken down, but most should be longer than this. Thanks for reading!