Draco Malfoy and the Strickland Case


Story Summary:
Harry Potter is still Head Auror and Draco Malfoy...well, no one's really sure if he even has a job. But Harry knows that he's definitely up to something, and with a psychotic killer on the loose...well, let's just say that things are going to get interesting.

Chapter 01


Disclaimer: I own nothing from the world of Harry Potter because if I had the ending would have been very different. This story will be mostly Action/Adventure/Humor mixed with a bit of Mystery and some good old-fashioned espionage and unresolved sexual tension. Epilogue Compliant.

I don't really seem to do long updates, but will try and post at least once a week to make up for that grievous failing.

Please review. Reviews make me update faster. They also make me write better.

Draco Malfoy and the Strickland Case

Chapter One

Draco Malfoy was up to something.

Harry Potter, Head of the Auror Department, a Respected Member in Good Standing of the Wizengamot, Husband and Father of three almost grown children had been hiding in a bush when he made this discovery, avoiding his wife and simultaneously taking a wee.

Hence the reason he was loath to tell anyone about his rather recent revelation.

It had been a stressful week all-around. On Monday there had been an annoyed owl from Headmistress McGonagall detailing James' latest harebrained scheme for the attainment of Everlasting Hogwarts Fame and the successful Acquisition of Girls. Then, on Wednesday, Ginny had found out he'd been avoiding weekly Couple's Night by claiming he had to work overtime on the Interdepartmental nightmare that was known - and feared - throughout the Ministry as the Strickland Case, while he was really spending the evening out drinking with Ron - who was in the middle of a relationship crisis at the moment, and consequently needed all the drinks he could get.

The screaming row that had ended that day had set off car alarms up and down the street and had had the neighbors on the phone with the police. Harry had been avoiding her ever since, which had proved surprisingly difficult to do...for the Head Auror.

He would have felt more embarrassed by this if he wasn't so busy ducking behind corners at the faintest sign of Ginny's irate scowl. He hadn't even gone home for the past two nights, electing to sleep at the office as the lesser of two evils; so now he had a back ache as well as a permanent scowl of his own from lack of appropriate rest.

Hermione, who had been legitimately working long hours on the Strickland Case had had absolutely no sympathy for him when she appeared in his office at two in the morning on Friday to get a sit rep.

She'd brought coffee with her so Harry had been inclined to let her in.

"It's all very well for you," Harry groused at her, stabbing violently at one of the reports that littered his desk. He hated paperwork. "You're free as a bird, single, unattached, perfectly able to go out for a drink with your best mate without having to check in with the old ball and chain."

"I'm sure Ginny would love to hear you calling that," Hermione said, amused and reproving at the same time. She never visibly rose at any of his mood swings - unlike the entirety of the Weasley family - and that made her ideal for calming Harry down whenever he got overworked and couldn't let off steam at anyone else.

Harry sighed. "You know I don't mean it." He paused a moment, twisting his coffee cup around in his hands. Hermione perched comfortably on the edge of his desk, perfectly willing to wait. "It's just, she's been difficult lately...and then there's this whole thing with Strickland which has got the entirety of the Department in a furor....and there's been another murder -" he ignored Hermione's sudden look of wide-eyed attention and ploughed on with the list of his own woes - "and James is doing so poorly that I'm afraid McGonagall's going to kick him out...and I haven't been sleeping and Ron spent all of Wednesday night going on and on about his relationship with Pansy Parkinson of all people!"

He found himself standing and yelling at the injustice of a Universe that saw fit to only give Ronald Weasley a problem with his new girlfriend.

"Hmm." Hermione looked, if possible, even more amused. "Yes, Rose told me about Pansy Parkinson." Her smirk would have convinced a lesser man to start running for the hills. "I hear she's high-maintenance." She sounded smugly satisfied.

Hermione and Ron's divorce had been....there was no other word for it, messy. Attacking birds had been the least of it. Harry had been, as usual, caught in the middle. Rose and Hugo had gleefully taken notes and still fondly used those months as an excuse to get themselves out of any and all trouble with both parents.

To be completely honest, sometimes Harry did as well.

He snorted now. "No more high-maintenance than the last one," he muttered. Hermione gave him a mock scowl.

"I resent that."

"And I resent that you're here, being all smug and amused in my office, at two in the morning."

"I brought you coffee."

"Yeah, because coffee is a valid excuse."

Hermione sniffed. "Coffee is always a valid excuse. Or so Draco Malfoy tells me on a daily basis."

Harry started at the name he hadn't heard in several years and Hermione hid the grin that wanted to surface on her face. She had had a feeling that would successfully derail him from his little pity party.

"Wait, you work with Draco Malfoy?" Harry's intense green gaze was suddenly pinned on her, the force of the focus that had defeated the Dark Lord and almost singlehandedly revamped the entire Auror Department, was hard to bear for even the most seasoned associates and next to impossible for the uninitiated, but Hermione welcomed its return like an old friend. There were things happening that her permutations and calculations were failing to explain and account for - she mustn't forget to investigate that newest murder as soon as she got back to her own office - and she felt that some things had to be shaken up a bit.

Harry's loud voice interrupted her thoughts. "You work with Draco Malfoy in the -"

Hermione's sudden glare cut him off. The Unspeakables were called Unspeakables for a number of very good reasons and this was one of them; people did not talk about them.

People weren't even sure what they did.

Not even Harry Potter knew what went on in the Department of Mysteries, although he had a better idea than most of the Wizarding Populace.

"I have no idea what Draco Malfoy does with his time," Hermione continued calmly, as though nothing untoward had almost been said. "And I certainly don't work with him." She made sure to keep her voice cool and unconcerned, and above all to not pause as though she was planting bait. "I just run into him every morning at that coffee shop I like to go to in Shoreditch."

"Draco Malfoy goes to a Muggle coffee shop?"

Honestly, sometimes Harry sounded like a broken record. Hermione hid another inappropriate grin and tsked sharply. "Never mind about Draco Malfoy, Harry, we were talking about you and Ginny and then you got derailed by Ron and Pansy Parkinson." Her nose scrunched up at the thought. She still didn't like the woman.

"You know, her latest album sold out even in America?!" There was true outrage at this injustice in her voice, although to be fair no one who went to school with her could have predicted that Pansy Parkinson would become the British Wizarding World's biggest pop star. Her top single of Burn the Wand at Both Ends had broken records held by Celestina Warbeck.

No one would have predicted that Ron Weasley would go into business with Blaise Zabini and create the Wizarding World's largest and most innovative pharmaceutical company either.

When Harry had told him to take a break from the Aurors after his divorce from Hermione, that wasn't what he had had in mind.

But within a half-decade Ron Weasley had started with only the business sense he had acquired working in George's store - as well as the skills of Neville Longbottom as Chief Herbologist - and created an Herbal Shop that actually sold remedies that worked. Enter Blaise Zabini and his trust fund, his seemingly limitless connections and his personal charm and you got WZ Pharmaceuticals; a place on the cutting edge of research with orders coming in from around the world.

If the Weasley Twins had gotten all the innovation of the family, well their youngest brother had gotten all of the business acumen.

Ron Weasley was one of the richest Wizards in all of Britain.

Hermione Granger was an Unspeakable.

And Harry Potter was still Head Auror.

Hermione leveled herself off the desk, placed her almost empty coffee cup down on the flat surface, and went around the other side of Harry's desk. He had slowly sat back down in his chair and was tiredly rubbing his eyes under his glasses. She placed a gentle arm around his shoulders and rested her head softly against his.

The Strickland Case was taking everything out of all of them - Unspeakables and Aurors alike - but she knew that Harry was feeling something in addition to that whole mess. She knew because she had been in the same place several years ago now.

It was that boxed in, caged feeling as though you were slowly suffocating and there was absolutely no air for you to breathe in even though every other person around you was breathing just fine. It was that feeling that hit you just before you fell asleep at night, that question of Is this it? It was that bemused resignation that crept up on you in the morning as you got up and found you were numb at the idea of going to the office for one more day, working through one more case report, have one more meeting, talking at one more presentation even though you knew that your words wouldn't make any difference to anyone, anywhere.

It had taken her a long time - longer than she was comfortable admitting to anyone, even herself - to pinpoint what it was that didn't fit. Now she thought that Harry might be going through something like that as well, but she knew that the only person who could figure out that something was wrong was Harry himself.

Still, there was nothing to say she couldn't give him a slight nudge in the right direction.

"Why are you really unhappy, Harry?"

And Harry, with his vague thoughts on an angry Ginny, and a satisfied Ron, and a brilliant, scarily perceptive, innovative Hermione, and a Draco Malfoy who got coffee in Muggle London, and a psychopathic murderer on the loose, had no answer for her.

"It's going to be alright, Harry," Hermione told him softly, before giving him one last hug and departing.

He spent the next hour going over their conversation in his head, and even as he fell forward onto his desk and into exhausted slumber, he had no idea what to make of it.

She had a way of doing that, Hermione. Attacking a conversation from all sides so that you didn't know which way to turn and you had no idea what she was really after even when the conversation was over and she had breezed back to wherever she had come from.

So now here Harry was, too early on a Friday morning for someone who had been sleeping in a chair for the past two nights, in a bush, trying to avoid his wife and covertly attempting to watch Draco Malfoy who was standing only five hundred meters away from him - the closest he had been since the War.

And he was looking decidedly shady just standing there in his fitted Muggle clothes with his expensive watch and his expensive shoes and his steaming cup of coffee and the weak London sun shining off hair that was as white-blonde as it had always been.

Harry glared and hoped that the force of his faze would cause the other man discomfort.

He'd had to stop by the house that morning in order to grab his invisibility cloak. It had been a calculated risk because even though he knew that Ginny would catch him - and she did - the fact that the first words he'd thought of that morning were Draco Malfoy had convinced him that it was only going to go downhill from there.

Obsessed, Hermione had called him numerous times in sixth year. Even after the War he'd been after any and all news that related to the Malfoys and Draco in particular. Ron and Hermione, in the throes of their new relationship, had fondly shaken their heads and proceeded to ignore his rants on the topic, but Ginny had fought with him about them.

She hadn't liked how fixated he was on that family, and Harry, eager to make up for leaving her behind for a year, had done his best to put Draco Malfoy out of his mind.

And he'd lain there, more or less uneasily, for the past two decades, until Hermione's casual words had brought him back up, and now Harry had this sinking feeling that he wouldn't be pushed back down again.

So he'd braved the wrath of Ginny, successfully dodging her even after she'd traced his Apparition and come after him, and now he was watching Draco Malfoy from the cover of a bush, in the midst of winter, from the corner of a Muggle apartment building.

And Draco Malfoy was definitely Up To Something.

It was a strangely comforting thought, as tough something that had been missing for years had suddenly clicked, audibly, into place.

So Harry watched and waited and glared, and when Malfoy, catching sight, apparently, of a small, brown-haired Muggle woman across the street, tore after her like the Dark Lord himself was on his heels, he set off in hot pursuit.