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 Beta 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!
An evil grin covered the intruder's face, the wand clutched in his hand pointed directly at them. "I've enjoyed our little game of hide and seek, Potter, but I'm afraid, as they say . . ." The cruel voice paused as a look of vindictive delight covered the man's features. "All good things must come to an end." His head shook in disgust. "You call yourself an Auror—dirtying yourself with scum like this one." He flicked his wand in Draco's direction. "Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon you and your filthy little secret. Darling Golden Boy of the Wizarding world. Hero of the Battle of Hogwarts. Vanquisher of the Dark Lord. Youngest Auror in History. Nothing but a filthy pillow biter." He spat, repulsed. "A fuck toy to Death Eater scum. Not bad enough to get up to that disgusting behaviour in private, you had to defile the Ministry of Magic with your sick perversion."
Draco's heart was hammering so hard he could feel it in his ears. His eyes flickered between the man who had attacked him three years ago and now held both Harry and him captive and Harry's injured arm. How much blood had he lost? Harry had said help would come, but how? And how soon? How was anyone to even know they needed help?
A memory flashed through Draco's mind. He and Harry were alone in a small alcove off a grand corridor. The buzz of a number of voices could be heard faintly, as if the crowd was some distance away. He was facing the opening of the alcove onto the corridor, only a small portion of which was visible from their secluded little niche, but Draco could see a floor of polished dark wood and a row of huge gilded fireplaces, each large enough for a grown man to stand up in. Harry and he were kissing softly and whispering to each other.
Seeing himself kissing Harry, Draco understood that all of the times he'd pictured himself and Harry together intimately, he'd not been fantasising but remembering. He and Harry had been lovers. But what then had caused them to fight so violently that Harry had used an unknown spell which had nearly killed him?
In his memory of himself and Harry in their alcove, Draco had leaned into Harry, who held him and whispered soothing words to him. Their kissing hadn't been passionate but tender, speaking to a relationship that ran deeper than merely the physical.
There had been somewhere Harry had said he'd needed to go, but Draco had not wanted to face someone or something again, saying he'd wait for Harry there. Harry had said he'd been wrong, that he wished they'd never come and had promised they would leave as soon as he returned.
After one last kiss, Harry had left, and Draco had been alone in the alcove.
Only moments after Harry had gone, the man now holding them both at wandpoint had come, his face a cold, cruel mask. He had aimed his wand at Draco, who had reached into his robe pocket—the same robes now hanging in his cupboard—for his own wand to defend himself, but he'd not been in time. His attacker had had his wand aimed before he'd ever entered the alcove, and almost the very moment Draco had seen him, a jet of scarlet light erupted from the tip of his wand. After that, everything was black.
"Disgusting that you be made an Auror when other, much more skilled wizards get rejected. Standards lowered for the likes of you when greater wizards than you are kept out unfairly. The Great Harry Potter—I took down the spells you cast to protect your Death Eater whore. I took him from under your very nose! I kept him hidden when you had the entire Ministry, nearly every witch or wizard in Britain, out looking for him! Child's play intercepting new reports of sightings. Almost too easy. Aurors! What are Aurors but a bunch of puffed up, self-important fools strutting around like bleedin' peacocks! Keep out superior wizards out of jealousy, they do! Afraid of being shown up, that's what it is! I've had a tracking charm on you since you left the Ministry on Friday, been following you, and you didn't even know it. How's that for Concealment and Disguise and Stealth and Tracking?"
His attacker seemed content to ramble on, taunting them; Draco only hoped the man would keep talking long enough for whatever help Harry had expected to arrive. Harry's eyes were open but unfocused. He seemed to be drifting on the edge of consciousness from the pain of his mutilated arm; his chest rose and fell with irregular breaths; his skin was a sickly shade and clammy looking.
The man turned his attention to Draco, shaking his head in disgust, a malicious sneer on his face. "Bit of bad luck, that tide. How was I to know the high tide would be so low? Plenty high enough the week before, it was. I'd have stuck around, but I wanted to be there when they all realised someone'd snatched you. My big moment, if you will." He laughed sadistically. "Still, it all worked out in the end. Great fun it's been these three years outwitting the entire Auror department—so terribly clever they think themselves, you know." He gloated, "No, I suppose you don't, do you? I'm quite skilled at memory charms. Family trait. Terribly sorry to see our little game come to an end, I am. But I've learnt my lesson. If one wants a job done properly, one's got to do it oneself. If you want to drown a man, you've got to hold him under. Bit of a bother, really, but he stops fighting soon enough." The darkness of the man's features deepened as he grinned with evil pride. "Follow up with a few well cast memory spells and any witnesses will tell everyone they meet how wonderfully brave you were, fighting the undertow to save your brother. Call you a hero, they will.
"But now, I'm afraid our little reunion has gone on long enough. Celestina Warbeck is on the Witching Hour tonight on the WWN, and I don't want to miss it on account of the likes of you. So, I'm afraid it's time to wrap this up. But first. . . ."
He aimed his wand purposefully at Harry, and before Draco could react, he had shouted "Crucio!" Harry's body twisted in agony. His face contorted. He breathed roughly through tightly gritted teeth. A trickle of blood seeped from the corner of his mouth—he'd bit through his tongue.
Draco did the only thing he could. He didn't think; he just acted. He grabbed Harry's wand from the floor and waved it wildly at their attacker, shouting the word he remembered Harry shouting during their duel before Draco had fallen.
Two things happened almost simultaneously.
Their attacker fell to the floor, blood spurting from all over his body. He didn't cry out; the only sound he made was a strangled gurgle as he fell with a dull thud. Draco's spell had hit him with such force he was sliced nearly to pieces, and he was dead before he hit the floor, a horrible, sadistic look of enjoyment at causing his victim pain frozen on his face forever.
Semi-conscious, Harry groaned. His breathing was weak, and he lay limply on the ground.
A series of cracks sounded around Draco's flat, and suddenly, where there had been no one a second ago, several people now stood—men and women, some in robes, some not. All with wands drawn.
Eyes wide with disbelief and shock, Draco knelt at Harry's side protectively, still clutching Harry's wand and fighting to keep his hand from shaking. He was hoping against hope this was the help Harry had promised would come.
"Harry!" a woman screamed—the woman who had sat reading in the library yesterday afternoon, Draco recognised. She rushed forward, falling to the floor beside Harry, across from Draco. She called to the others, "His arm's splinched badly," and immediately began waving her wand over Harry with urgency, a string of Latin-sounding words falling rapidly from her lips.
An older man barked a series of orders, which the others followed immediately.
A man and woman rushed from his flat out into the corridor.
Two men—one of them being the ginger-haired man who'd sat at the table next to his and Harry's at the George and Dragon with a blonde woman last night—stepped toward the bloody pile that moments ago had been a man, and after identifying the body as being that of a wizard called Donald Claywell in tones of astonishment and disbelief, the other man and the body vanished with a crack into thin air. The ginger-haired man waved his wand over the blood covering the floor, and Draco watched, eyes wide in amazement, as the blood vanished.
Draco couldn't speak. His eyes bulged and his jaw fell, but his mind was racing far too frantically to form coherent thoughts, let alone give voice to those thoughts. He forced his eyes away from the spot and tried to focus on calming his breathing.
Beside him, the woman was focused on her work. Draco watched her, fascinated in spite of how completely overwhelmed he felt.
After several seconds, she spared Draco a brief glance and a friendly smile. "It'll be alright, Draco. You're safe now, and Harry's arm will be just fine," she assured him, and placing her hand over Draco's, she added, "Hermione Weasley. It's good to see you again."
From the corner of his eye, Draco saw a bright white, translucent form streak around the feet of the ginger-haired man before shooting towards the wall and vanishing. The man cast a last hateful glare at the spot where the dead man had lain before crossing the room to kneel beside the woman who'd said her name was Hermione. He grimaced when he saw Harry's arm. "Nasty splinch, mate," he said to Harry.
"Malfoy," the ginger-haired man continued, turning to Draco. "Ron Weasley," he introduced himself, holding out his hand, which Draco took mechanically.
To Draco's amazement, Harry grinned weakly. "Lucky I've got . . . th'bes Healer," he stammered. "Top'a . . . her class, I hear."
From the pocket of her robe, Hermione withdrew a miniature chest and tapped it twice with her wand, making it expand to several times its original size. From inside she withdrew a small phial, from which she poured a few drops of a brown liquid onto Harry's arm, which miraculously looked remarkably healed. The shattered bone fragments had been reassembled, and the muscle and tissue were weaving themselves back together in front of Draco's eyes. Replacing the phial, she this time retrieved a stoppered glass bottle filled with red liquid, which she handed to Harry with a sympathetic, "You know what to do."
With a sigh, Harry unstoppered the bottle and drank the liquid in one go, grimacing, apparently, at the taste.
"The worst of it's mended, but you've lost a lot of blood, Harry. It'll take time for that potion to work and for the bone and muscle to mend properly. You'll need to take it easy. Just because it looks healed doesn't mean it is."
Draco watched in amazement as the skin re-formed around Harry's arm. "It's like magic," he whispered.
Harry made a sound crossed between a chuckle and a moan. "Now do you believe me?" he asked.
"Got here as soon as we got the alarm you'd been injured, Harry. He'd cast his own protective spells, or we'd've been in sooner," said the ginger-haired man.
"All Aurors have spells placed on them that automatically summon help if they're injured and unable to do so themselves," Hermione explained to him in a whisper.
"Snape's Spell?" Ron asked.
Harry nodded grimly. "No choice."
"Nearly sliced the bastard to ribbons. Must've been augmented by the Salvio Hexia you'd cast; damned foolish of him to not counter it."
Draco looked from the woman to the man. His head was spinning. He felt overcome and in shock at seeing people materialize in front of his very eyes, of seeing Harry's arm ripped open and shattered and now being magically healed with astounding speed. Of having just seen Harry tortured.
Of having just killed a man.
It had all happened so fast. Only a short while ago, he'd been deciding what to make for dinner for Harry's and his date.
The older man—the leader, apparently—spoke next. "Reckon you must've got caught in an Anti-Disapparition Spell. He could come and go, but no one else could."
"Mr. Malfoy," the leader addressed him, introducing himself, "Auror Anthony Moore. We've been looking for you for quite some time, young man."
The man and woman who'd raced from his flat earlier returned. "All clear, sir."
"Obliviators," someone, Draco wasn't sure who, explained. "They make sure our world stays secret."
The man and woman—Obliviators, as he'd just been told—disappeared into thin air with two faint popping noises.
"It's called Apparition. It's one of the ways we travel," Hermione explained to him, her voice soft and her tone soothing. Draco felt himself nodding his head as if her explanation had made sense. He'd heard the expression of one feeling as if they'd been put through the wringer, and that was exactly how he felt, thoroughly wrung out.
"Draco? Are you alright?" Harry asked. The genuine concern in Harry's voice helped greatly in calming him. His voice hadn't just held concern, it had held love. He and Harry had been lovers, and Harry had been looking for him for three years.
Harry's fingertips touched his arm.
"Yeah . . . I think so . . . Yeah." He had no idea how Harry and he had had gone from the fight he remembered to being lovers, but they had. "Alright?" Draco asked him.
Harry grinned radiantly. "Never better."
Auror Moore spoke. "Cause of death of the suspect appears to be the curse known as Snape's Spell, augmented by the Salvio Hexia previously cast by Auror Potter. There'll be questions that'll need to be answered, but later. Our first priority is to get Mr. Malfoy to St. Mungo's. The Healers'll be waiting to see him. Is Auror Potter fit for travel, Healer Weasley?"
Hermione answered that Apparating was out of the question until his arm was fully healed, but she had an emergency Portkey—Draco had no idea what that was.
Draco looked at Harry. All the questions swimming in his head must've been visible in his face because Harry promised to answer them all once he'd been seen by the Healers, who he explained were like Muggle doctors. Doctors, Draco knew. But he had no idea what Muggles were.
"He put a memory charm on you, Draco. That's why you can't remember anything. Not amnesia," Harry explained. "There are Healers, like Hermione, who can help you."
"There are others who can explain far better than I, Draco," Hermione said. "But it is vital you be seen right away by Healers specialising in memory charms."
Draco heard the urgency in her voice. He remembered the worry in Harry's voice when he'd asked how long he'd been remembering things. "How . . . how do I get to this St. Mungo's?"
Pulling an old crisp packet from the chest she'd enlarged and handing it to him, she answered, "Hold on to this."
"Harry?" she said, looking at Harry, who reached out his uninjured arm to touch the opposite side of the packet.
Draco didn't understand what holding a bit of rubbish had to do with getting to a hospital. He felt foolish and looked at Harry sceptically, but Harry just grinned at him and said seeing was believing, just to enjoy the ride. "Not to worry. It'll feel like a giant hook's got you right behind the navel and is pulling you." He compared it to the wildest rollercoaster Draco could imagine—times a hundred.
Draco suspected the crushing sensation he'd felt earlier had been Harry's attempt to get—Apparate was the word, he thought—them out before his attacker got in. He'd heard Auror—what was an Auror anyway?—Moore refer to Harry's injury being caused by getting caught in an Anti-Disapparition Spell. If what he and Harry were going to do was anything like that, he wasn't sure he'd like it at all.
"Ready then?" Hermione asked.
Harry looked at him, and Draco swallowed hard. He thought about asking if they could go by car or by train instead but resisted. "Ready."
"On three then," Hermione said before counting, " One, two, three." On three, she touched her wand to the old crisp packet.
The next thing Draco knew he felt as if something grabbed him from behind his navel—just as Harry had said. It was instant; the moment Hermione's wand had touched the crisp packet, Draco felt himself pulled forward by an incredible force. He felt himself speeding through . . . he didn't know what he was speeding through. The walls of his flat had been no obstacle. Wind whipped around them. Colours swirled around them. They were moving at an incredible rate of speed, and he had no idea what was propelling them—or more importantly, what was guiding them. Just as he felt panic begin to build up in him, he was slammed as abruptly into the ground as he'd been swept from it only seconds ago.
Seconds. It had taken only seconds.
Sitting on the floor, Draco looked around, winded and dishevelled and utterly bewildered. He absently thought that at some point in the near future, he was going to have some sort of complete breakdown after everything that had happened, but right now, he was too amazed by the fact that he was no longer in his flat.
As Harry helped him to his feet—how had Harry stayed on his feet and not ended up on his backside?—Draco looked around at his surroundings. However, before he could form much of an impression—that they were rather simple after such an extraordinary ride (on a crisp packet!) was all he'd had time to observe—he heard a strangled cry and something slammed into him as hard as the invisible force had pulled him moments ago.
Except this force was solid.
And it had arms. Arms that clutched him so tightly he once again felt crushed to the point of being unable to draw breath.
It also had blonde hair, the same shade as his own.
A woman with hair the same pale colour as his was holding him so tightly her nails had scratched him through his shirt. She was weeping into his chest fiercely, repeating his name between great gasping sobs.
Draco's own arms surrounded her; he whispered into her hair, "Mum. . . ."
Feeling a burning, prickling sensation behind his eyes as he watched Narcissa Malfoy run to Draco, crashing into him and nearly knocking him back to the ground, Harry quietly slipped from the room, giving the mother and son their privacy.
Pulling the door shut behind him and running his hand across his face, Harry thought about how very easily this afternoon could have turned out horribly different. If Hermione had not fetched that book . . . Had Teddy not mistakenly put it with his library books to be returned . . . If Harry had not realised he'd given Draco a book detailing Muggles witnessing proof of the Wizarding world and gone to his building, hoping to fetch it back before Draco could see it, when he did. . . .
He'd been able to Apparate into the building, but had he not tried until his wand had sounded the alarm that the spells he'd cast were under attack, he might not have been able to. Claywell may've already cast his own Anti-Apparition Spell by then.
Harry'd initially been heartbroken that out of all the memories he and Draco had made together that last year, their duel in sixth year in Moaning Myrtle's toilet was what he'd remembered. But had Draco remembered any or all of the times they'd made love, he'd not have known a spell to use to defend them against Claywell. Had Draco not remembered that spell—and kept his presence of mind in a horrifying situation enough to be able to cast it—that Harry had been able to Apparate to the flat wouldn't have made a difference.
Ron had been right. It had been foolish of Claywell to not take down the Salvio Hexia Spell Harry had cast. Harry suspected the Salvio Hexia had been the reason he'd been able to Apparate enough to splinch himself. The spell had strengthened any subsequent spells cast by his wand within its boundaries. It hadn't just been foolish to not counter it; it had been arrogant.
Just as it had been foolish of him to not ensure he'd left Draco where the high tide would take him—for which Harry would be forever grateful even if the Auror in him also recognised the poor planning.
It had also been foolish to not make sure the falsified reports he'd filed were filled in according to procedure. Ron had commented that he couldn't believe the person who'd filled them in had sat through the same lectures on proper paperwork procedures they had. He hadn't.
Harry suspected he knew what had kept Claywell from becoming an Auror. It certainly hadn't been his spellwork, at which he'd demonstrated his skill.
There was also the fact that the man had to have been a complete nutter, but of course, no one had known he was mad or he'd never have got work even in the file room in the Auror department.
From the limited interaction he'd had with Claywell, Harry had never thought he'd seemed the type who'd risk his life to save another person, but he'd never thought much on it. Everyone knew that as a teenager Claywell had tried to save his drowning brother, and who was Harry to question what a man might be capable of if his brother's life was in danger. But all the while Claywell had been guilty of his brother's cold-blooded murder and taking credit for heroically trying to save him. Rather than trying to keep his brother above water, he'd been forcing him under.
Claywell . . . C. l. . . . They'd never been sure the last name signed on the falsified reports began with an A. Cl in that cramped, scribbled script had looked like one letter when it had been two pushed too closely together. It was hard to believe, but in his arrogance, Claywell had signed his own name to those reports. He'd literally signed his name to his crime in front of the entire Auror department. He'd just done so completely illegibly.
Harry passed from one room to another in the suite of rooms Draco had been given in St. Mungo's. He found Andromeda sitting quietly by herself. Her face was buried in her hands, and she was rocking back and forth. So distraught was she that she didn't know Harry had entered the room until he touched her shoulder, making her jump.
"Andromeda? What is it? What's wrong? Draco's fine. His mother is with him now. He's . . . overwhelmed, of course, but. . . ."
At Draco's name Andromeda once again buried her face in her hands.
"Andromeda? What's wrong? Please, tell me what's wrong." Since the end of the war Andromeda had become to Harry something of what he suspected a favourite aunt might be like, and he hated seeing her in such an obvious state of extreme distress.
Lowering her hands, Andromeda looked straight ahead, her eyes heavy lidded and filled with guilt.
"I'm so terribly sorry. I don't know how I ever considered . . . how I ever thought, even for a second. . . ."
Whatever was weighing so heavily on Andromeda now was the same thing that had troubled her so badly the night before, Harry was sure. Whatever it was, he hoped she would confide in him. Whatever it was, it couldn't possibly be as bad as she felt it was.
She sniffled and dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief clutched in a ball in her hand.
She spoke slowly, hesitantly. "Harry . . . you have to understand. I loved Narcissa when we were girls. It was always she and I. Bellatrix . . . even then Bella was . . . unstable." Andromeda lowered her eyes to the floor. "You have to understand how completely love can change to hate."
Harry could speak to the opposite. As much as he'd hated Draco when they were children, he'd loved him even more as an adult.
"When my family disowned me. . . .
"Mother and Father were never terribly fond of me, nor I of them. I was never quite the . . . proper pure-blood daughter, and they never troubled to hide their partiality to Narcissa and Bellatrix. That Mother and Father and Bellatrix disowned me came as no surprise. But Narcissa . . . I'd known, of course, that Cissy would have to give the appearance of casting me off, but never did I suspect she would truly disown me. I'd thought she would keep in contact with me in secret. But she didn't. I was as dead to her as I was to our parents and Bellatrix."
Andromeda's eyes drifted around the room, never settling on any one object for longer than a few passing seconds. She never looked towards Harry.
"In time, she became as dead to me as I was to her. Not long after Ted and I were married, we had our Dora. We were very happy and complete in our own little family. Eventually, of course, Cissy married and had her Draco.
"Then the war came."
Andromeda voice shook with emotion. Harry wanted to reach out and take her hand but resisted. He was afraid any interruption might leave her unable to continue.
"And I lost my Ted. Then . . . then . . . I lost my Dora . . . my darling girl . . . and poor Remus. My Dora loved that man as I'd loved my Ted.
"People throw about the expression 'die of a broken heart' carelessly, as if it means nothing. They don't understand that when you . . . lose a child . . . the pain is so . . . complete, it feels as if your heart literally does break, as if it has been physically ripped into pieces. The pain is so unbearable you can't understand how an organ can hurt like that and still be in one piece, beating as regularly in your chest as it always has. You don't understand how you can continue to draw breath when you hurt that badly, when the tremendous weight of your loss is pressing upon you. How are you not being crushed under such a weight? You don't understand how your body doesn't just give in to the pain shut down.
"Then you took up with Draco so soon after the war.
"Seeing him . . . I can't tell you how much I hated that boy. But it wasn't him I hated. I think I knew that even then deep down. It was his mother. My sister. I had lost my darling girl. But Cissy still had her son.
"I hated her for that, Harry . . . so much. . . .
"I wanted her to know what it felt like . . . to lose a child. I wanted her to know what it felt like to have every single breath you take hurt like razor blades slicing you apart inside . . . because you still breathe . . . but your child does not.
"And then . . . and then she did. Cissy did know what that pain felt like. Draco was gone. She'd lost him, and she knew what that horrible pain felt like.
"And I was glad for it. God forgive me, but I was so glad for it. . . ."
For the first time, she turned to Harry—her eyes, her expression, her posture, her tone . . . everything imploring him to believe her. "I swear to you, Harry, I swear to you, as unforgivable as it was for me to feel happiness at my sister's pain for even a second, it was no longer than that. I berated myself for rejoicing that anyone feel that pain almost as soon as the thought, the emotion hit me."
Harry knew better than anyone how much Andromeda had done to try to keep Draco's mother going these past three years. Andromeda had a good soul, a compassionate soul, but she was only human. She was a Black and shared the Black temperament. Harry didn't think that after the tremendous loss Andromeda had suffered her feelings were so very shocking. He was no expert on human nature, but he thought what she'd felt was normal enough. But it was clear that while the feelings had been momentary, Andromeda had felt the guilt they'd left behind for these three years.
"And then seeing her . . . seeing Cissy in that pain. . . ."
"Oh, Dromeda," came a voice both soft with sympathy and scratchy from tears.
Harry and Andromeda looked up. Mrs. Malfoy stood in the doorway beside Draco, empathy written all over her tear-stained features.
But the emotions on Draco's countenance were the polar opposite of his mother's. He pushed his mother behind himself as if to screen her from danger. His eyes were wide with fright, but they were steadfast. Never taking his eyes from Andromeda, Draco raised his hand toward Harry, reaching for him. "Harry . . . move away from her . . ." His voice was laced with fear, but like his eyes, it was steady, determined.
Both his mother and Harry tried to talk to him, to calm him, but Draco cut them off.
"You don't understand. She was there. Harry, she was there. It was her." Draco swallowed hard. He was afraid and rambling, but he was resolute. "I saw her. I remember her. She looked . . . demented. She was pointing her wand at her and she was screaming. It was horrible. She was on the floor and screaming and screaming and she was laughing, this horrible, cackling laugh and we were . . . we were . . . we were . . . oh, God . . . we were there . . ." His voice had drifted off, and his body sagged as if it suddenly weighed twice as much as normal and he was not strong enough to support the additional weight. "We were there," he repeated, horror-struck. "I was there. I . . . just watched."
Draco had been guided to a chair by his mother, who looked to Harry helplessly. Harry had a sickening feeling he knew what Draco was remembering as he stared at nothing. Just as Harry had the first time he'd seen her, Draco was confusing Andromeda for Bellatrix. Harry knew how many times nightmares of Bellatrix torturing Hermione had awoken him in a cold sweat and left him retching and trembling with guilt and shame.
"That woman . . . the one who fixed up your arm, she was on the floor, she was screaming. She was on the ground and she," Draco's eyes fell on Andromeda, hard and accusing, "she was . . . she was. . . ."
Going to Draco, Harry did now what he'd done dozens of times before. He took Draco's face in his hands, and keeping his voice calm and strong, he said slowly and firmly, "It's over, Draco. It's been over for years, and we're all safe now. What you're remembering happened, yes, but not how you're remembering it. It wasn't Andromeda. It wasn't. It was someone else. Someone named Bellatrix. Andromeda and Bellatrix were sisters. Bellatrix is dead. She's been dead for four years."
"But that woman . . . Hermione, she said her name was. . . ."
"There was a war, Draco. A terrible war, but it's over." Harry explained as briefly as possible about the war and that they'd fought on different sides. He explained how young they'd been, how their world's history had shaped their lives and their beliefs. He explained that Draco had believed in the cause he'd fought for as much as Harry had believed in his, but as time had passed and Draco had seen more, he'd begun to think differently. He told Draco how he, Ron, and Hermione had been captured and how they'd escaped. He told Draco what he'd done during the war and what he'd refused to do.
Narcissa told him about his father.
Andromeda told him about Tonks.
As they spoke, Draco listened in rapt attention, occasionally nodding as if something he'd remembered now made sense. A range of emotions passed over his face, everything from pride to shame and joy to grief.
Harry told him about Teddy, about how unhappy he'd been at having their holiday cut short and Harry's promise to the little boy that he could ask Mr. Draco from the library to come flying with them sometime.
"On brooms. We fly on brooms," Draco said, more to himself than to the others. To Harry he said, "I remember a broom. I thought I was going mad. It was mounted on the wall of a huge green bedroom, and we were—" Draco blushed, the red spreading down his neck.
A smile spread across Harry's face, knowing what Draco was remembering them doing in his bedroom.
Narcissa cleared her throat and looked away.
Andromeda dropped her eyes, the corners of her lips twitching.
It shouldn't have mattered—it wasn't as if Draco had forgotten him because what they'd shared hadn't mattered to him—but Harry was inordinately happy to know that their duel hadn't been the only thing he'd remembered them doing.
Holding her son close, Narcissa pressed a kiss in his hair. She'd not stopped touching him in some manner since they'd appeared in the doorway minutes ago, Harry had noticed.
There was still a long road ahead of them. Draco would have long sessions with the Healers as they both stabilized the memory charm Claywell had cast on him and peeled it away in a controlled, safe manner. Who knew how long that would take or even if they would be fully successful. There would be decisions Draco would have to make. He had a life in Ilfracombe he'd worked very hard to build and good friends there. He had a job there he enjoyed.
Living in Combe might be nice, Harry thought—finding himself thinking of Ilfracombe by the shortened "Combe" as Draco did.
And he knew he was getting well ahead of himself, but they did weddings at Tunnels Beaches, Draco had told him.
One must not forget that tomorrow was as filled with just as many memories as yesterday.
They simply hadn't been made yet.
The Lion Who Wanted to Love Written by Giles Andreae and illustrated by David Wojtowycz
Room on the Broom Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.
Draco was left on the beach during a neap tide, which occurs at the quarter moon phases of the lunar cycle. The high tides are lower and the low tides are higher. At the full and new moon phases of the lunar cycle the tides, called spring tides, come up higher and recede lower.
The Ilfracombe Incident of 1932 is one of the incidents of Muggles witnessing magical events covered in Muggles Who Notice. A rogue Common Welsh Green dragon attacked a group of sunbathers at Ilfracombe. A family of wizards on holiday, the Toke's (who I made family members of Donald Claywell), drove away the dragon and cast the largest group of memory charms seen in the 20th century on the Muggles. However some Muggles got missed by the charms, including "Dodgy Dirk" (who I made an uncle of Kat's) who maintains to this day that a "dirty great flying lizard" punctured his lilo, according to Harry Potter Wikia. A lilo is an inflatable raft or tube, I believe. The Toke family all received Orders of Merlin, First Class for their actions that day, and after Tilly Toke's death in 1991, her portrait was hung in Hogwarts in 1993 in a first-floor corridor, protecting a secret area. The password is Dirigible.
Places that I mention by name, such as street names, the Olive Branch, and the George and Dragon are real places in Ilfracombe. The items Harry and Draco order for dinner at the George and Dragon are real menu items, and the prices are accurate according to the menu I downloaded.
I described the library as accurately as possible, and the building it's in really does have the cobalt blue railings on the windows. A bit of trivia about the building that houses the Ilfracombe library: It was built on the sight of a former hotel and shopping arcade which burned in 1983, the Candar hotel. One person died in the fire. The lot seems to have sat vacant for quite some time before the new building was erected. In addition to the library, the building houses the Candar sheltered residential apartments, which is I believe basically the same as what we'd call assisted living on this side of the pond. The opening of Candar apartments was the last public engagement performed by Charles and Diana, as the Prince and Princess of Wales, in 1992. I read that in a couple places, but I couldn't find anywhere official to verify it.
Everything about Tunnels Beaches is true, even the segregated beaches for men and women. However, to the best of my knowledge, no dragon ever terrorized beachgoers by flying overhead and swooping down at them. Of course, I'm a mere Muggle, so I could be wrong. . . .
The tunnels were hand carved in 1823 by hundreds of Welsh miners, and the pick axe marks are still said to be visible on the tunnel walls today. Six tunnels were dug and five remain today, although only four of them are usable. Three bathing pools were built, two for the women and one for men, but only one of the ladies' pools remains today. From the Tunnels Beaches website: "Segregated bathing was tightly controlled; a bugler sat between the ladies' and the gentlemen's pools – if a man attempted to spy on the ladies, the bugler would blow an alarm call and the man would be arrested. Segregated bathing lasted 82 years! – In 1905 mixed bathing was allowed for the first time." Now, from what I've read, the men swam in the nude. The women, on the other hand, would've been covered from their neck to their knees. Even below the knee their legs would've been covered by stockings. I wonder if it ever occurred to the men to have a female bugler keeping an eye on women perving on the men as well? Probably not. Fools.
Made up spells:
Repello Veneficus—Repello Muggletum is the Muggle repelling charm. Veneficus is Latin for wizard. (According to Google translate, anyway.) This is the wizard version of Repello Muggletum; it repels other wizards or witches.
Permittas Mihi Ostium— Latin for "allow me entrance." (Again, according to Google translate.) Counter spell for Repello Veneficus.