Draco Malfoy Harry Potter
Slash Action
Multiple Eras
Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire
Published: 07/16/2001
Updated: 12/01/2002
Words: 91,663
Chapters: 11
Hits: 102,985



Story Summary:
SLASH. London, 2003, and two old enemies have become partners in crime. But the wizarding world is out to disrupt Harry's none too peaceful existence ... sex, guns, rock n' roll, drugs and bad language abound in a fast paced romantic thriller.

Chapter 09

Author's Note:
Please be aware that this story contains



It was long after dark as Draco swung the Lotus into a parking space outside a plush residential apartment building. He turned off the headlights, and switched off the engine. Ron watched uneasily.

“Are you going to tell me what you brought me here for?” Draco asked. He picked up his gun from underneath the seat, where he had secreted it before picking Ron up. The other man's face paled at the introduction of the weapon to the equation.

“Just take it easy, Malfoy,” he began.

Draco shook his head. “I'm taking it perfectly easy,” he said. “I couldn't be any more easy if I tried. Now don't fuck me around, Weasley. I have so had it with you.”

Ron stared back at him. There was hatred in the other man's eyes - Draco could see it - sense it so clearly that it was damn nearly overpowering.

“We're here to pick up someone who can help us,” Ron said.

“Yes,” said Draco, keeping the gun trained on Ron. “That's the same load of bullshit you fed me last time I asked you that question. Now answer the fucking question properly.”

“That information is classified,” Ron said. “And allow me to remind you that threatening an operative of the IBME with an offensive weapon is an offence punishable by up to a year in Azkaban –“

“Tough shit. I'm not a wizard,” said Draco. “Get out of the car!”

Ron took one look at Draco's face … opened his mouth to say something, and then immediately thought better of it. He reached out and opened the door.

“Good man,” said Draco. He did the same, all the while not taking his eyes off Ron. Slowly, the two men got out of the car. Draco slammed his door shut.

“I think you'd better lead the way, don't you, Weasley?” he asked, motioning with the gun.

Ron nodded. “Follow me then,” he said.

Draco found himself being lead across the car park, which was filled with shiny, expensive cars, and through the glass doors of the apartment block. Draco, spying a closed-circuit surveillance camera watching them from on high, slipped his gun inside his jacket.

Inside, the building was even more lavish. The floor of the foyer was white marble, shimmering under the overhead lights. There were pot plants, and a small, whispering fountain, as well as several well-stuffed sofas. There was even a reception desk. It looked to Draco like the offices of some flash media company.

Ron, however, seemed to know what was what, and duly presented himself at the reception desk.

“Is Mr Longbottom in?” he asked, politely.

The receptionist tapped some buttons on her computer. “I believe so,” she said. “Do go on up. Can I ask you both to sign yourselves in?”

Ron nodded. “Certainly … got a pen?”

“They take their security seriously here,” Draco remarked, as Ron took up what looked like a normal pen and signed his illegible scrawl on some sort of computer screen. Draco watched, interested.

“If you could do the same please, sir?” The receptionist beckoned to Draco, who duly signed. This formality complete, they were directed over to the lifts.

“Who lives here that they need to do that?” Draco asked, as the lift doors slid shut. There was another television camera watching them.

“Oh, the Minister of Magic, lots of very important people,” Ron said, as the lift began to climb. Inside, the block was built like a shopping mall, with the flats ranged around a central atrium, climbing the entire height of the building. Exotic plants dangled their fronds over the edges of each floor, and dangling from the clear glass ceiling was an impressive minimalist steel chandelier, strings of light bulbs trailed down towards the lobby.

“This is a wizarding block?” Draco asked. It certainly didn't look like the regular Victoriana-twinned-with-Medieval-Gothic style he associated with the wizarding world. How shallow they have become, he thought scornfully.

Ron nodded. “Most of the big apartment buildings out here are,” he said. “The Ministry bought up a vast acreage when the Docklands Redevelopment Corporation was selling off industrial wasteland back in the 1980s. About fifteen thousand witches and wizards live here now.”

“I thought there weren't many more than ten thousand magical people in the country,” he began, a little uncertainly. The lift stopped somewhere around the eleventh floor, and the doors slid open.

“There was a vast population influx,” Ron said as they stepped out of the lift. “Follow me, please. After Voldemort was finally driven out of the country, a lot of people migrated into the country from abroad. There are about ninety thousand of us now. We're also having a baby boom comparable to the Muggle one of the 50s. The wizarding population should hit a hundred thousand by about 2010, we forecast.”

Draco was a little flabbergasted. “But I thought …”

“We've changed, Malfoy,” Ron said. “Whatever bollocks you want to feed yourself about the world you think you left behind, it has changed beyond measure since then.”

They arrived outside a plain, wooden door. “This is us,” Ron said, knocking sharply on it.

“Just a minute!” a voice came.

They waited, Draco surveying his surroundings anxiously. Even the familiar bulk of his gun, concealed within his jacket pocket, could not provide him with the sense of security that it usually did.

The door opened. And Draco nearly fainted.

The man standing there was absolutely divine! He was slim, well-muscled and tanned. He wore sharply cut, expensive black trousers and a skin-tight, black T-shirt with a flame motif running up one side.

“Ron! Good to see you. What can I do?”

“Hi, Neville,” Ron said. “Sorry to drop in on you like this … but …”

Draco made the mental connection. “I'm sorry … you're Neville Longbottom?”

Neville turned to look at him. “That's my name,” he said. “I'm sorry, I don't think I've had the pleasure …”

“Well of course you haven't had the pleasure,” Draco purred. “We just met, baby.”

Malfoy!” Ron snapped.

Neville laughed. His laugh was light and deeply, deeply attractive. Draco was smitten. “Draco Malfoy, eh? Never thought I'd see the day. Get your head out of your arse pronto, Commodore. You boys had better come in.”

They followed him into the flat. Draco was very nearly sick with envy.

“Have a seat,” Neville said, beckoning them both to a luxurious, pure white sofa. There was a vast TV set and … Draco felt anger rising in the pit of his stomach … a better stereo than his; the very latest Bang & Olufsen. Draco had been salivating over it in the shop for some weeks now. Longbottom, of all people, had actually bought it!

“What can I get for you boys?” Neville asked.

“Passionate sex,” Draco gurgled without thinking.

“Just a coffee,” Ron said. “We're not staying long, we have to find someone …”

“Oh, who?” asked Neville, as he busied himself in the kitchen.

“Harry,” said Ron. “We want your help with him …”

“Gone nuts, has he?” Neville asked.

Ron turned and nodded. “Basically, yes,” he said. “You're our very best, Neville …”

Neville laughed again. Draco had to fight to hold himself back. This isn't right, he thought … you love Harry. Now stop making fucking eyes at Longbottom!

Neville turned to Draco. “I'm a shrink,” he said.

“He's not just a shrink,” Ron said. “He's one of the best in the parapsychological field …”

“You flatter me, Commodore,” Neville said. “Do you take sugar, Draco?”

“Nice trousers,” Draco squeaked. “Um … I mean no.”

There was a gurgling noise as the coffee machine got going. Neville came back through into the living room. “I run a private clinic,” he said, “over on St Barnabus' Court.”

He sat down on the sofa.

“Sorry, where?” Draco found himself asking. He made one last-ditch attempt to tear his eyes away from Neville's crotch, before reluctantly giving up.

“Oh, sorry, you won't know,” Neville said. “It's one of the main buildings here in Docklands. The big green skyscraper just along from Canary Wharf. Muggles think it's owned by the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank … we know better.

“Neville is one of the founders of the most prestigious wizarding health centres in the UK,” Ron said. “He also does some work with us …”

“When I can find the time,” said Neville. “I take it this is a business call, Commodore?”

Ron nodded, “Oh yes,” he said. “We need you to help us with Harry. We need you to talk to him … to try and talk him down …”

Neville nodded. “I see,” he said. “That could be difficult, you know.”

Ron nodded again. “I'm well aware of the possible complications,” he said. He was interrupted by the sound of his mobile phone ringing. “Excuse me one minute,” he said. He stood up and walked through into the kitchen.

Neville turned to Draco. “So … what have you been doing with yourself?” he asked.

Draco fumbled to find anything to say … 'salivating over your body' seemed somehow inappropriate. “I write,” he squeaked.

Neville leaned forwards. “Really?” he asked. “For Muggles, I take it?”

Draco nodded.

“Will I have read you anywhere?”

“A few musical magazines,” said Draco. “The Independent, Time Out …”

Neville relaxed. “Sorry, I don't read those. And Harry Potter's your boyfriend as well, I believe?”

Draco gave a start. “What? Sorry?”

“Harry … you are shagging. Aren't you?”

Draco stopped. He didn't quite know what to say.

Neville laughed again. “It's okay, Draco. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to tease you. I'm attached myself …”

Draco's heart shattered into a million pieces.

“… her name's Emma,” Neville continued.

Shit, he's fucking straight. Selfish bastard!

“… Emma Wilkinson. She works in Research and Development at the IBME … you'll know all about the IBME of course?”

“Bugger,” said Draco tearfully.

Neville leaned forwards, looking concerned. “Are you quite all right?” he asked. “Look … here's my card … make an appointment if you ever feel like talking about anything.”

Ron came back out from the kitchen at that moment, tucking his phone back into the pocket of his jacket. He looked worried. “That was Sirius,” he said. “No time for coffee - Neville, get your coat. We have to go now.”

Draco jumped to his feet. “What's happened?” he asked.

“There's been a car crash,” Ron said. “Harry's totalled himself. They've got him at hospital in Staines now. He's in the operating theatre … they don't think it looks good …”

“I thought Sirius was dead?” Neville started. “There was an unfortunate accident involving a grand piano and a five storey building in Glasgow.”

“We lied,” Ron said. “Look - I'll explain it all to you later. There's no time. Where's your car?”

“Parked outside,” said Neville. “Wouldn't it be quicker just to port –“

“We can't,” Ron said. “Draco doesn't have a unit. We'll have to drive it –“

“We can take my car,” Draco said.

“Your car is a two seater, dickhead!” Ron snapped. “Come on! Neville, get your coat!”

Five minutes later found Draco squeezed uncomfortably onto the back seat of Neville's red Alfa Romeo 156, heading back into London. Draco himself was very fond of fast driving. He enjoyed the element of danger, the frisson of adrenaline that coursed through his body when he cut someone up or ran a light that had just turned red … however, even he was faintly worried by Neville's suicidal driving.

“Shouldn't you have stopped at that light?” he asked, as Neville executed a hasty right turn onto Commercial Way, the long road that leads past the News International compound … Draco shuddered at the horrors within.

“Nah … no time,” Neville said. He dived out into the middle of the road and into the path of an oncoming bus in order to overtake someone. Draco covered his eyes and braced himself for the impact which never came. When he opened his eyes again, the Mini they had overtaken was still bumbling along behind them, and the bus was pulling into the kerbside to take on passengers … somehow the car had squeezed through a gap that couldn't have been more than four feet wide.

Draco goggled. “Exactly how did you manage that?” he asked.

Neville turned and flashed Draco a grin. “Easy,” he said. “If you know how it works …”

“I think you're scaring him,” Ron said.

“I know,” said Neville. “Isn't it fun …”

Draco leaned forwards. “What's fun? What? What are you doing?”

“This isn't a normal car, Draco,” Neville said. “Look … watch this …”

“That light's red!” Draco yelled in panic. “You're going to rear-end that car!”

“No I won't,” Neville said. “I'll simply arrange matters so that nothing is in my way. It's perfectly simple magic, really. It's so patently suicidal for anybody to have done what I just did …”

Draco privately agreed with this … Neville had somehow not only avoided a fifteen car pile-up, but had also managed to cross a busy road without hitting anything.

“… that the Muggles simply don't believe it could possibly happen. Therefore there is nothing in my way. Now, Ron, what's the quickest way to get to this hospital?”

“Better follow the road down the Thames,” said Ron. “Hit the A3 at Elephant and Castle, then follow it out to Chiswick, and follow the A316 down through Richmond …”

“I know the way,” said Neville. “Turn right at Sunbury?”

Ron nodded.

“Cool … gotcha … mind if I turn the radio on?”

“Go ahead,” Ron said.

Neville glanced briefly at the radio. Draco did not know what he did to it, but it somehow turned itself on. He was very impressed. Soft music spilled out, and Neville glanced at it again. The little digital letters on the RDS display flickered and changed …

“… Coming up this hour, we'll be going live to Arjeplog in Sweden for the qualifying heats of this year's broomstick race … British hopes for the event rested largely on the newcomer David Webb … only just out of Hogwarts. First, the news this hour with Lee Jordan …”

“Thank you Greg. This is WWN, it's exactly six o'clock, and these are the headlines. An IBME spokesman has, within the last half hour denied claims that the public was fed false information regarding the death in 1996 of Harry Potter. Speaking at a press conference hastily convened, Arch-Chancellor Evelyn Macon-Beauchamp told reporters to keep their noses out of official business if they knew what was good for them. It is not yet known who leaked the story, although an internal investigation is under way …”

Neville and Ron glanced at one another.


It was very late in the afternoon, and darkness had long since fallen as they pulled into the car park at the Burton Manor Hospital, just outside Staines. The two men climbed out of the car and hurried inside.

Ron strode up to the front desk, elbowing a small queue out of the way. He flashed something that might have been a warrant card, but looked to Draco far more like a beer mat at the receptionist.

“Inspector Weasley, Metropolitan Police,” he said. “A Mr Potter was brought in here some time ago. It's vital that we speak with him now …”

The receptionist looked at Ron as if he had defecated on the floor.

“One moment, please sir,” she said, frostily. The occupants of the queue were all wearing identical angry glares stretched across their faces.

Ron tapped his foot. “Hurry, I don't have all day.”

The receptionist sneered. “Evidently,” she said. Draco merely hung back … he had no wish to be involved in whatever scene Weasley seemed intent on causing.

She tapped a few of the keys on her computer. “Mr Potter is in Theatre, at the minute. If you would care to wait in the foyer, I will have a doctor contact you when he's back on the ward.”

So they waited … and waited … and waited a little bit longer. Twenty minutes or more must have passed before Ron suddenly spotted somebody he recognised and jumped to his feet.


Draco looked over the top of the copy of Heat! he was reading. Ginny Weasley … for it was she … was standing over by the vending machine in the corner, tapping the buttons ineffectually. She smiled upon catching sight of her brother.

“Thank God you came,” she said. “Sirius is up with them now … Harry's still unconscious … but … oh … thank God you came.”

She fixed Draco with a glare that went well beyond pure, unadulterated hatred. “Malfoy,” she said. “I see you made it, too.”

“Malfoy and I were in a meeting when we got the news,” Ron said. “Look … is there anywhere else we can wait? This place is driving me nuts …”

“How do you mean?”

“Don't they have a relatives' room?” Ron asked. “There's always a relatives' room.”

“We were just sitting upstairs …” Ginny said. “You'd better come up.”


Draco didn't sleep that night. He fuelled himself up on coffee and cans of Red Bull bought down at the hospital's all-night canteen, and as soon as Harry came out of the theatre, his bare chest swathed in bandages, his face as pale as death and the faint scars from several cuts and lacerations across his face and neck, Draco followed them into a private room, and sat with Harry for the rest of the night.

The doctors' assessment of Harry's condition wasn't that bad. All were in agreement that he had been bloody lucky to have survived being hit head on by a juggernaut doing sixty miles an hour, and to have escaped with relatively minor injuries. Nevertheless, he did not regain consciousness at all …

He checked his watch. It was getting on for six in the morning, and his eyelids were so heavy they were practically drooping with sleep.

He reached out, lifted up the covers just far enough for him to slip his hand in and locate Harry's limp fingers. He clutched his lover's hand so tight it was almost painful, and he could feel the beginnings of tears filling his eyes.

“God, I love you,” he whispered. He leaned down and kissed Harry's hair lightly. He smelled of shampoo.

“Come back, Harry.”

Silence, still, perfect and complete. Outside in the car park a car door slammed.

“I won't punish you,” Draco whispered. “I won't turn you away … I won't even think of another man when we make love … I won't leave you … I'll talk to you … I'll be tender … I'll … I'll look after you and stay with you and be open to your touch and … and I'll love you. Just come back to me. Otherwise I can never forgive you for doing this to me …”

There was a slight hitch in Harry's breathing.

“Harry … please! Stop torturing me!”

There was a slight creaking as the door opened, and Draco heard the padding of soft footsteps on the carpet.

“Draco,” a soft voice behind him. Someone put a hand on his shoulder. Draco looked up. It was Sirius.

“You should go and get some sleep,” he said. “I'll sit with him for the morning. You look dog tired …”

Draco shook his head. “I can't,” he said. “I can't leave him.”

“Draco,” Sirius said. “You need to sleep. This isn't good for you. You don't have to drive all the way home and I wouldn't recommend you do in this state. There's a hotel just across the road. It's only a Travelodge, but … it's cheap … and you need kip.”

Draco sighed, and rose slowly from his chair. “Just look after him,” he said, softly.

“Draco … I will,” Sirius said. “You know I will.”


“When can I go home?” Harry asked.

Draco looked crestfallen. “Never,” he said.


Draco fished in his pocket, and took out a small, framed photograph. It showed baby Harry and his parents, smiling, waving at the camera.

“This was all they found,” he said. “It was underneath a heap of other stuff …”

“Draco … what's happened to my house?”

Draco looked away. “It burned down,” he said. “They think arson …”

Harry went silent for a moment. Draco let the menu flop down in front of him, and leaned slightly closer.

“Arson?” Harry repeated. “But …”

Draco shook his head. “I'm sorry,” he said. “Your neighbours phoned me this morning. Everyone got out all right. Everyone's safe …”

Harry did not speak.

Draco ventured a slight cough. “Um … I really appreciate that this probably isn't the best time for all this, Harry. But would you like to see Hermione? She's been waiting outside ever so patiently … and I know she wants to see you.”

Harry did not speak.

“Please? Because I really need to get home, Harry. There's loads of stuff that I need to do, and I don't want to think that there's nobody keeping you company here when I go.”

Harry nodded silently.

“Harry … I'm really sorry. This is all my fault.”

Harry could only shake his head … his mind was somewhere else …

There was a flurry of movement overhead as the other players flashed past, Fred and George Weasley flanking the other players as they passed the Quaffle back and forth. Harry veered the Firebolt around to the left and gave chase. Twenty minutes into the game and he had not had a sniff of the Snitch yet …

… Harry hammered on the door.

on!” he said, bouncing from one foot to the other. “We'll only have time for one drink at this rate!”

The door opened. Draco was standing there, wearing a pair of smart black shoes, a pair of low-slung satin trousers which barely came up to his hips and a cropped T-shirt. A chain in the shape of a dollar sign was dangling from the waistband of his trousers, and he was festooned with jewellery. Harry observed that he had had his tummy button pierced.

not going out like that!” he said.

Draco looked crestfallen. “I am
meant to be going to a party,” he said.

“Nowhere will let you

“Not if you know where to go,” Draco winked. “I should take you to a gay club one day, Harry. I think you'd enjoy it.”

Harry shuddered.

“Look … if it'll make you feel any better, I'll put my greatcoat on over it,” he said. “But I was planning to …”

“…score! She scores. Fifty ten to Gryffindor!” Lee's voice rang excitedly around the Quidditch stadium. The crowds sitting high up in the stands had gone crazy. It was the last game of the season, and after a series of stunningly close matches, it had come down to this. Gryffindor and Slytherin had just ten points between them.

Harry pointed his broom upwards into the clear summer sky and soared into the air above the ruckus as the Slytherins, Malfoy shouting orders imperiously, waving his arms this way and that, surrounded Madam Hooch, demanding the goal be disallowed. The crowd was booing now as Harry circled the melee. There was a sharp blow on the whistle, and Ginny Weasley hurled the Quaffle back into play. The entire school went wild once again. Ginny was easily the best keeper Gryffindor had had in a long time … possibly even the best ever … even Oliver Wood, who had left some time ago, could not have lived up to some of the stunts she was able to perform on her broom. Harry winked at her … but she didn't notice him.

A blur of green … and Draco flashed past on his broom, the turbulence ruffling Harry's robes …

… the atmosphere inside the club was thick with booze-fuelled conversation and the smoke of a hundred different cigarettes. Harry and Draco took a booth in the corner, as far away from the pole-dancing as possible (as per Draco's request). The other man was meant to be meeting some friends of his – and then they were going to go to Heaven to party the night away. Harry had a long-standing appointment to meet Raquel, his current girlfriend, beside the London Eye at about ten past ten. They were going to see the new century in together.

The wide screen TV hanging above the bar was relaying satellite images of fireworks bursting over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Smiling faces were turned towards the sky, their expressions carrying a wave of hope westwards on the midnight tide. Harry was sick of it.

“Load of made up bollocks,” he remarked to Draco, who was keeping one eye on the TV … the picture had changed. Now it was China's turn.

“Nah,” said Draco. “You've got to admit it's sweet. And perhaps good things will come of it.”

Harry sniggered loudly. “Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks, bollocks,” he said. “The whole world is fucked and we know it. Celebrating another date isn't going to help matters.”

Draco sipped his cocktail delicately. “You're just one big fucking ray of sunshine really, aren't you?”

Harry laughed. “They can't even make the wheel go round properly,” he said. “And look at those grinning idiots queuing for the fucking Dome. We're ruled by lying turds and sexual maniacs, Draco. We are fucked. And on a night like tonight, it is the job of alcohol to relieve said fuckedness.”

“You're slightly fucked, aren't you?” Draco grinned at him across the table.

Harry nodded.

“I prefer the cold thrill of class A drugs, myself,” Draco remarked. “Ha … look at that.”

The images had changed again. Evidently someone at the BBC was getting bored too, for the screen now showed the sun rising over a vast expanse of ocean, accompanied by the Enigma Variations …

… the wind rushed through his hair as he dived. He could sense Draco somewhere behind him, urging his broom forwards … but Harry's Firebolt just about had the edge.

That was not to say that the two boys were not each other's equal when it came to flying ability. There was no trick that one had not perfected that the other had not either. Four years of watching one another's every move during games had honed their skills beyond merely good. There were, it was widely suggested,
no other seekers in the country to match them.

The two boys levelled out a foot above the pitch. The toecaps of Harry's boots grazed the grass as, slowly, he took his right hand off the broom. The Firebolt jerked slightly as Harry pointed the handle downwards just a fraction of an inch more … desperately trying to get that extra bit of speed that could win him the match. The knuckles of his gloves were practically grazing the grass now as his grasping fingers made contact with the fluttering Snitch.

Another Slytherin flashed across his line of vision. Probably the other player was twenty feet or more away, but Harry panicked … and barely remembering to hold onto the Snitch as realisation dawned upon the crowd and the roaring grew louder (at 170 points to 10, Gryffindor had very
definitely won the Quidditch Cup) … slewed his broom around to the right. He heard Draco's yell of surprise as he lost his grip on the broom, and fell the last few inches down to the grass, his leather knee protectors thudding on the dry earth. Draco rammed him from the side, and they collapsed in an untidy heap.

It took some minutes to detach themselves. Harry struggled free, but Draco seemed to have a leg jammed rather inappropriately between his thighs. Finally, he got free, and the two boys managed to extricate their limbs from one another. Draco sat back on the grass, looking dazed … his face flushed, his hair untidy, panting in a funny way.

“Good game,” Harry said.

Draco squeaked …

“… six … five … four … three …”

The last thought that ran through Harry's head before the world exploded was …
I hope those winking red lights atop the Shell Building are only TV cameras …

“… one!”

A ripple of cheering started up somewhere near Big Ben, and soon was spreading east along the river, gathering in pace. Harry could sense a swelling tide of noise. Raquel grabbed him around the waist, and kissed him.

“Happy New Year.”

A sudden bang, and a rush of flames along the Thames brought immediate light into the world … but Harry was too absorbed to notice as the first fireworks burst overhead and the distant dome of St Paul's began slowly to disappear in a cloud of spent smoke.


He opened his eyes.

Hermione sat down on the chair next to him. “Draco said it was all right for us to come and sit with you,” she said. “I really hope you don't mind …”

“You scared Ron away, right?” Harry asked, blearily.

Hermione nodded. “I'm so sorry you had to be … reintroduced through him, Harry.”

There was a pause. Harry ran his hands through his hair, and tried frantically to clear his mind.

“I think maybe I had to be reintroduced,” said Harry, quietly, after a minute or two.

Hermione smiled. “Maybe,” she said. “Whatever Ron and Sirius and Remus may say … you don't have to decide yet, love.”

She stroked his forehead.

“What happened to Ron?” Harry asked.

“How do you mean?”

“Him and … and Sirius. What happened to turn them into such horrible people?” Harry said. “What happened to them? They both … they both lied to me …”

Hermione stroked his hair. “Shush … shush … please Harry … don't fret over either of them …”

Harry shook his head. “Ron was my friend,” he managed. “I want to know.”

Hermione sighed. “Ron is a very complex man,” she said. “He's also a bit thick. He's just … Harry … you have to understand that whatever reasons the wizarding world has for wanting you back … and I don't want to go into those because for now they're absolutely irrelevant … but whatever Ron might say officially … inside he's been tearing himself up since you left Hogwarts …”

Harry turned away from her gaze at the mention of the name.

“Harry … he's so very sorry,” she began. “He so badly wants to be your friend … because you were the only one who was ever able to see him for himself, instead of some little kid forever in the shadow of his brothers. He worshipped you like his own brother, Harry. Surely those years you spent together count for something.”

Harry shook his head. “If you and Ron are my friends,” he began. “Why didn't you stand by me? Why did you let them do that to me …”

Hermione faltered. “Oh … we didn't know … Harry. If you'd just told us what was going on. We could've stopped it …”

“I didn't want it to stop,” Harry said.

“You didn't?”

She started stroking his hair again.

“No,” said Harry. “At least … I don't think so. I mean … I think … I had this dream …”

“What happened in it?”

“I think Draco loves me,” said Harry. “I mean … I know he does … and I think … I think I love him as well.”

“I see,” said Hermione. “What's the problem with that?”

“That is the whole fucking problem!” Harry blurted out. “How can I be gay …”

“Very easily. Harry, listen. It doesn't matter a flying fuck whether you fancy girls or boys, as far as I'm concerned. You were one of the best friends Ron and I ever had … and we don't want that to be changed by anything. You have no idea how devastated we where when you left us.”

Harry wiped his eyes dry on the sheets. “What if I do love Draco?” he asked.

“Well then,” said Hermione. “If you do love him, and you think he loves you … there's no problem is there, Harry?”

“I guess not,” said Harry. “Shit … what am I going to tell everyone?”

“That can come later,” said Hermione. “We all love you and we all really, really value you … even Ron and Sirius, even though they're such dickheads they can't say it …”

“They said such horrible things,” Harry said.

“I know … I know,” said Hermione softly. “They say one thing … and they mean another … and what they say has to be masked by this whole bloody official line. That's what's causing the problem.”

“May I ask a personal question?” Harry asked.

Hermione nodded.

“Why did you divorce? You and Ron, I mean?”

“Because we have the chemistry of wet cement,” Hermione said. “Ooh … all these bloody people who came crawling out of the woodwork saying Ron and I were meant to be together and how they had always known it, right from the start. Shit, Harry, what a load of bollocks! They really pissed me off.”

Harry grinned, despite himself.

“But we're not here to talk about my divorce,” said Hermione. “Besides … I was seeing someone else … until recently, anyway.”


“Harry, would you say it was okay to sleep with your ex's brother?”

Harry goggled. “Um … Draco would say go for it … but I'm not Draco.”

Hermione clasped his hand.

“Thanks,” she said. “I want to keep seeing him …”

“Who was it?”


Harry nodded. He had only met Charlie Weasley a couple of times.

A silence descended between the two of them.

“This feels weird,” said Harry, after a while.

“What does?”

“We're meant to be friends and here we are … all conversation stifled …”

Hermione smiled. “That's always the way when old friends get together after a long time, Harry. I read it in a book once.”

More impenetrable silence.

“So, is Draco a good shag?”


“Sorry, sorry. I just thought, what with you being g … um … the way you are, Harry …”

Harry scowled.

“I don't even know if I am,” said Harry. “Honestly, whoever said that most twenty-somethings are reasonably sure about their sexuality quite obviously deserves to be …”

“Nobody ever said that, Harry. It's quite all right. Loads of people don't come out till they're in their forties or fifties.”

Harry shuddered.

“Is it painful?”


“I just wanted to know … Ron was never very creative …”

“Not if you prepare adequately,” said Harry.

Hermione raised an eyebrow.

Harry lowered his voice, and whispered, “Lubrication,” at her.

“Ah,” she said. “You mean like … WD40?”

“Draco probably wouldn't recommend WD40,” Harry said, grinning. “There're specialist products …”

“How interesting …”

They were both distracted from their sexually awkward conversation at that moment by the arrival of one of the dinner-ladies, who was wheeling Harry's sandwiches on a little trolley.

“How are you feeling now, Mr Potter … is that really your name, by the way?”

Harry sighed and nodded.

“How curious,” the dinner-lady said. “And would your friend …”

“Oh, Granger,” Hermione smiled. “Hermione Granger.”

The dinner-lady gave them both a very funny look. “Um … would your friend like some food too … we can serve visitors, no problem. If you'd like to order something from the menu …”

“Not for me,” said Hermione. “I had some Butterbeer and a couple of Chocolate Frogs earlier.”

The dinner-lady smiled at them as if they were quite mad. She bustled around the bed, arranging Harry's table and propping up extra pillows behind him. Then she left his sandwiches … which looked very good … much better than the limp, sad things you get in most hospitals, on the table, and poured him a glass of orange juice.

“No chance of some biscuits, is there?” Harry asked.

“Certainly … we have chocolate digestive, plain digestive, bourbon, ginger snaps, malted milk or coconut … and I think there are some of those tragic catering company own-brands somewhere, too.”

“Bourbon please.”

The dinner-lady smiled, and handed him a packet of biscuits. “I'll come back in a couple of hours for your things, Harry,” she said, as she departed.

“Properly I should perform a memory charm on her,” whispered Hermione, as the door swung shut. “But that was rather funny.”

Harry forced a smile, but it was too ambiguous to be taken either way. He felt all … cut up inside. He thought of Draco and his stomach seemed to ache with something approaching love.

“I don't want to go back,” he said, after a moment had passed by.

Hermione looked at him. “Sorry?” she said.

“To the wizarding world,” said Harry. “I'm sorry but … but I just don't … I just can't, Hermione. I've made my niche here. I have to sit in it. That's my decision.”

“Then,” Hermione began. She knew full well what would happen, because Ron was, despite his unearthly stupidity, was right. If Harry would not come back to the wizarding world, to face whatever demons he had to face, then the IBME would be unable to afford him any further protection. Sirius would be recalled, and the Muggle police would be let off the leash. And Hermione knew, from overhearing conversations and reading documents that Ron brought home back when they were married, that the Muggles had a dossier of files a mile high on Harry. They had enough evidence to put him away for twenty five years. It was, literally, only Sirius holding them back.

“You have to,” she said.


“If I tell you,” Hermione said. “I'll only be echoing Ron's words. We want you back to fulfil our own selfish needs, Harry … I mean … that is to say, because we miss our friend and we want to still be friends with him. But we also want you back to protect you, to protect you from yourself.”

Harry looked hurriedly away.

“Please don't cry …”

“What can I do?” Harry asked. His voice had gone all slurred and broken. “What can I do?”

“Come back to us,” Hermione said. “Please.”


“ … today we're in Norwich, making over the lovely home of Julian and Wendy Thomson … now, Julian, you've been trying ever so hard to do up the interior of your house, isn't that right?”

Draco changed channels. There was, without exception, nothing on whatsoever.

He suddenly felt very lonely indeed. He was very cosy, snuggled up under his duvet on the sofa, with a bottle of something alcoholic and many, many snack foods ranged round about his person. But there was nobody else there. Draco stared up at the ceiling, and tried to drown out the incessant burble of the television.

He had a sudden pang of longing for Harry. He closed his eyes and wished away the Harry fantasy, who was doing some surprising things with his legs, and tried with all his might to imagine something else … but Harry kept on usurping …

Draco opened his eyes again, and reached for the bottle. He didn't normally drink Jack Daniels neat … but this was kind of a special occasion.

I think I really do love him.

He pondered this revelation.

Maybe I don't.

He looked over at his computer, sitting on a table next to the door. In normal circumstances, Draco would've gone online and booked himself a classy escort to spoil him rotten. Today, he didn't much feel like doing that.

The phone rang again. Draco turned off the TV hurriedly, and picked it up.


“Ah, Mr Malfoy?”

“Speaking,” Draco yawned.

“This is Graham Chalmers,” whoever it was said. “I'm with the Met … we spoke yesterday over the phone about your friend's flat …”

“Ah, yes … thought I recognised the voice,” Draco said.

Chalmers chuckled. “Very good. Um, right, I'm just calling to update you on the situation here. Naturally we've had forensics all over Harry's flat all day …”

Draco froze. “R…r…really?”

“Yes. We've not found much, but I think we may have some leads to go on. Tell me … has your …”

“Boyfriend,” said Draco without thinking.

Chalmers coughed a little. “Has your boyfriend ever had any contact with a man called Wilbur Malone?”

The name rang a very, very faint bell somewhere deep within the recesses of Draco's mind. But for the life of him, he could not think where he had heard it before.

“I'm not altogether sure,” he said, guarding his options, as he always did when the police wanted to speak to him.

“No business dealings or anything?” Chalmers asked. “I understand Harry bought a bar in Soho off Malone a couple of years back …”

Draco remembered that incident rather too well. What had been a struggling little bar on Old Compton Street had become a thriving hub of Harry's business, turning over a lot of money indeed …

“Mr Malfoy? Are you still there?”

“Yes … yes, still here,” Draco said. “I remember Malone … I think I may have met him a couple of times. Burly chap, Irish accent …”

“That's the man,” Chalmers said. “Are you aware that Malone has connections to the criminal underworld …”

Draco was suddenly rather panicked. He thought he was the criminal underworld. Usually Harry fielded this kind of call.

“Does he?” Draco squeaked.

Chalmers replied in the affirmative. “Indeed,” he said, “Malone is one of the most dangerous and most wanted men in Britain. Unfortunately he is a very intelligent man … we can never pin anything on him, there's never any evidence against the fellow. However, I think we might just have managed to come up with something. But we need to be able to link him to Harry, somehow.”

“I see,” said Draco, guardedly.

“Can you think of any reason Malone might have a reason for wanting to get to Harry?”

“None at all,” Draco lied.

“Hmm … well,” from the tone of Chalmers' reply, it was obvious he was taking that with a pinch of salt. “If you do think of anything, Mr Malfoy, you will phone us back?”

“Yes, of course. Was there anything else?”

“Not at the minute,” Chalmers said. “I'll be in touch. Thank you for your time.”


Ginny slipped into the room. Instantly, the air seemed to get just a little bit colder. Ice cold glares passed between both women. Harry felt goose pimples rising perceptibly all over his body.

“Hermione,” she said, nodding her head stiffly.


“Would you like to … take some time off?” Ginny asked, glacially.

“If Harry agrees,” said Hermione.

She got to her feet, and looked at Harry.

“Well … do you?”

“Harry,” Ginny said. “I have someone else here who'd very much like to see you again.”

Harry nodded silently. “All right,” he said. He leaned over, and tugged at the sleeve of Hermione's blouse. “Will you … will you phone Draco for me? I want Draco to be here.”

Hermione nodded. “I'll do that,” she said.

Ginny watched as she slipped past and out of the room. Then she smiled. “Thank God she's gone,” she said. “Harry … how are you feeling.”

Harry nodded. “It still hurts a lot,” he said.

“It will do,” said another voice. Harry's hair stood on end. That voice was one he knew well of old. It was generous and warm and awakened within every fibre of Harry's being a whole host of memories that he had suppressed …

He opened his eyes. There was another man standing next to Ginny. He barely came up to her shoulder, so ancient and wizened he now looked. But he maintained a very impressive beard, which dangled down in front of him, masking the robes he was wearing.


Dumbledore smiled. “Yes,” he said. “We met before, only the other day … however I thought that our conversation was too brief … I … I also fear, my boy, that my appearance startled you somewhat. I apologise most heartily for that.”

“Not at all,” Harry found himself saying.

“May I sit down?”

Harry nodded wordlessly, and Ginny drew up a chair.

“I am sorry,” Dumbledore said. “I should have known to have stayed on. I could have stopped all this happening …”

“All what?” Harry asked.

“All …” Dumbledore paused. “No … I'm sorry, Harry. When you needed us we weren't there … that is why I'm sorry.”

Harry found himself almost crying again. “Why did you go?”

“I thought, mistakenly, that it would be best,” Dumbledore said. “I thought, mistakenly, that Hogwarts would be better protected from the machinations and Machiavellian designs of the Ministry of Magic if I left … that is why I saw fit to leave you. I overestimated Professor McGonagall's ability to keep you safe from harm …”

“Nothing harmed me,” Harry said, quietly.

Dumbledore cocked his head gently on one side. “I would say that Lucius Malfoy did you a great wrong and a great deal of harm,” he said. “Wouldn't you?”

Harry felt anger rising inside him. “Why not just go the whole hog and say Draco wronged me, too! It's what you want, isn't it! It's what all of you want!”

Dumbledore looked taken aback. “No … no … not at all,” he said. “Harry … believe me I would never even consider saying that. I know you and Draco … Draco did you no wrong.”


“Don't think, Harry, that I am foolish enough not to be able to recognise love when I see it.”

Harry goggled. “But …”

“I thought it was obvious from day one,” Dumbledore said. “The animosities that both of you cultivated between yourselves could only culminate in so many ways. You should be thankful that it did so as love, rather than in a more violent form.”

“You're not angry?”

Dumbledore shook his head. “No,” he said.

“And it doesn't bother you?”

Dumbledore looked at Harry curiously. “Why should it do?” he asked. “Why should I have any objection at all? As far as I am concerned you are and always were a very pleasant young man whose sex life remained entirely your own business. Besides, if I went around expelling every student who had a passionate tryst with a member of the same sex at Hogwarts … I should have to expel most of the school. Your godfather and Remus Lupin included …”

Ginny and Harry goggled.

Really … I mean … um.”

Dumbledore waved his hand dismissively. “Harry,” he said. “I'll understand if you don't want to talk to me. I'll quite understand.”

Harry shook his head. He could feel tears welling up behind his eyes. He could see himself in the kitchen, at the Burrow, on the morning of the Quidditch World Cup Final, laughing and joking with his friends.


“Sorry,” he whispered. “I was just thinking.”

“About what?”

“About what I want,” said Harry.

“What do you think you want?” Dumbledore asked.

“I don't know,” Harry admitted. “I want to go home and I can't. I want to go to sleep. I want to go away for a very long time.”

Dumbledore nodded. “I understand why,” he said. “I really do. But I don't think that will help. Putting off facing your demons until later will only make the experience worse when you finally come to it. For your sake, Harry, this is something that must be dealt with. I seem to recall having that conversation with you before. And wasn't I proven right, then?”

Harry looked down at the covers. “Please,” he started. “I think … will someone get Draco here please?”

Dumbledore nodded, and rose. “I'll make sure he's on his way,” he said.


The Arch-Chancellor was not a happy bunny.

“Words fail me,” he said, fixing both Ron and Sirius with an angry glare. “How you could both have been so pathologically stupid. I ought properly to have you thrown out of this organisation –”

“Sir, with all due respect –” Sirius began.

“The whole Potter case has been handled with a terminal lack of sense, it seems to me,” the Arch-Chancellor went on. “I almost begin to regret allocating the funds I did to it.”

“But we need –” said Ron.

“You need nothing,” the Arch-Chancellor said angrily. “Thanks to you, we have a major security leak on our hands.”


“Have you looked at the Evening Prophet?” the Arch-Chancellor asked.

“No, Sir,” Ron said, effecting humility.

“Well then,” the Arch-Chancellor said. “Perhaps you had better see what is going on in the big wide world today.”

He pushed a folded newspaper across the desk towards the two men. Neither of them made a move to touch it.

“It's quite all right,” the Arch-Chancellor said irritably. “I haven't rigged it to explode, or anything.”

Ron stepped forwards gingerly, and picked up the newspaper. He let it fall open in front of him.

“Why don't you read it out?” the Arch-Chancellor asked snidely.

Ron did.

“Prophet reporters have today uncovered a scandal running deep through the veins of the Ministry of Magic. We can today sensationally reveal in these pages …” he broke off. “Shit …”

“Shit indeed, Commodore Weasley,” the Arch-Chancellor said. He leant back in his swivel chair, and began to twiddle his thumbs. “Read on, do …”

Ron continued. “Web of lies and deceit … we the people … fed falsehoods by those corrupt men who would lead us … bring down the Ministry?”

The Arch-Chancellor nodded. “The Ministry has not yet reacted,” he said. “Although I suspect that when they do, the words head, a, platter, Weasley's, on, and silver will be involved in some way. Although not necessarily in that order.”

Ron spluttered. “Incompetent, bumbling IBME top brass!”

“I've never heard it put so succinctly.”

“Sir, they're calling for my job!”

“I know. I've already read it,” the Arch-Chancellor said.

“Demand the resignation of Commodore Weasley … unfit to practice!”

“So it would seem. Commodore … what do you suppose this scandal is about?”

Ron glared, and flung the paper angrily to the floor. “I know damn well what it's about, Sir!” he snapped.

The Arch-Chancellor, whose face was already red from far too much gin, spluttered. “Commodore Weasley, you are already facing the loss of your job! I will have no insubordination from you!”

Sirius stooped to pick up the newspaper. He began to read.

“The Prophet can reveal, exclusively in these pages tonight that we were told lies (in bold type) and deceived in the most blasé and callous way imaginable. We all thought that Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, had died in 1996 following his expulsion from Hogwarts for offences that remain undisclosed. In fact, Harry Potter is alive and well. Bumbling IBME operatives have themselves revealed through their incompetence a paper trail a mile long. We can now reveal to our readers that a cover up of immense proportions, involving the Ministry of Magic itself …”

“I need hardly add,” the Arch-Chancellor added. “That you are both summarily dismissed from the Bureau. You will receive, as per your contracts, three months working salary. My secretary will deal with the formalities.”


Author notes: I'm sorry it was such a wait. Writer's block is a terrible thing to deal with. Anyhow, many of you deserve thanks. Betas Stacey and Mara and Plot-Wrangler John were all instrumental in helping get this chapter out on time. Rhysenn and Viola couldn't be on board this time (Viola only because I clean forgot to send it to you) but were much missed.

Reviewers. Thanks so much to everyone who reviewed on HP_Paradise and at the Snitch list, and via private email, especially the folks on my LJ list, especially those of you who kindly thwapped me the other day. I read your comments and really appreciated them, and I'm sorry if any of you didn't get a reply. The following lovely people reviewed at Fiction Alley; Aprika91, Ariesgirl13, Ashwise (:schnugs: the Fellowship), Astrea77, Aurumlupi, AVK, Barb, Black Goddess, Cat Samwise, dagan, Emily Anne, Evangeline, Fearthainn, Fringe Elementis, Gemini C, Gileonnen, halo and wings, Hannah, heidi (who we love), Honeyduke, jacey, Jo (Princess of Fangirls, amongst other things), jen beckett, KneazleHP, Kearie, Kivessa, Kristin, Lady Rhianna, leprechaun babe, Liz, Lizzy, Luxxy, Magenta, Mantha, marley, Megami, Micaela, Minx, MissMona, Nyx Hymera, Pink Cat, PiperX, plu, PNBK, Princessa Urd, purple scorpion33, QuidditchMom, Saitaina, Seren H, sevenfumidracos girl, shimmers fade away, shiree, Slytherin Goddess, SpeakEasy, Sophia, Sweetfires, theoretical gutter.

Thanks to Aja, Constantine, Frances and everyone else sailing on the Guns & Handcuffs, especially those who I have forgotten. The special award for person who reviewed in the most places goes to Paige. Extra schnugs go out to the entire Fellowship, especially Monica who may consider this part of her birthday present. Also Geralynn for being groovy, Christian for answering many questions, Cassie for general loveliness, Emily for taking Cassie down a peg or two every so often. Lastly, thank you to whichever vision of loveliness codes this for Fiction Alley.

DO review. I appreciate it more than some of you realise, and I love reading your comments. I'll try and reply to as many as I can, though time is short, as I have to go write Chapter 10 now.