maxine_chan: (HP - HarryDraco paint by Sherant)
Maxine ([personal profile] maxine_chan) wrote2012-02-12 11:46 pm
Entry tags:

FIC: All the Answers - Chapter 26, part 1

Title: All the Answers
Fandom: Harry Potter
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Harry/Draco
Word Count: 11,600
Disclaimer: It's not mine. JKR is the brilliant mind behind HP.
Notes: This is a post-HBP 7th year fic that is not compliant with Deathly Hallows at all. Many, many thanks to my awesome beta, [livejournal.com profile] lksnarry1!
Summary: Finding himself saddled with Draco Malfoy is just about the last thing Harry expected to happen this year. Too bad ignoring the git is something he’s never been able to do. Horcruxes, war, and teenage hormones – no one ever said this would be easy!


--> All chapters can be found here. <--



previous chapter


~~Chapter 26~~


“Okay,” Draco said, lowering his wand from where it had been pointed directly between Mr. Granger’s eyes. “That should do it.” His hand twitched slightly, and all at once Mr. Granger seemed to reanimate, as if he’d previously been in some sort of trance. Harry and the others watched him warily as he blinked several times and then looked around at his wife.

“Well, we’d probably better get going, don’t you think?” he asked, and Harry felt some of the tension disappear from his shoulders. He’d been half worried the man’s voice would seem robotic and forced, but he didn’t sound as though anything out of the ordinary was happening.

“You’re right, we don’t want to miss our flight,” Mrs. Granger said. She turned and swept Hermione up in a hug, pressing a kiss to her forehead before releasing her. “Oh, but – my plants!” she said suddenly, glancing in the direction of the kitchen. “I forgot to get someone to water them!”

Hermione quickly reached for her mother’s wrist to get her attention. “I’ll do it, mum, no worries.”

“Nonsense, darling, you’ll be back at school soon,” Mrs. Granger said. “I’ll just ring Judy. She’s normally the one who comes over. I’m sure she won’t mind.”

“Right, of course!” Hermione said loudly. “Ms. Judy – you already asked her! Don’t you remember?” She directed a pointed look at Draco, who rolled his eyes, but the wand in his hand twitched obligingly again and the concern in Mrs. Granger’s eyes faded away.

“Oh, yes,” she said. “I spoke to her this morning. Well, I suppose we’re ready, then.” She stepped up beside her husband, smiling at him in adoration. “It’s been so long since we went on holiday anywhere. I still can’t believe you planned all this without me knowing!”

“I’m not sure how I managed to keep it from you, myself,” Mr. Granger said cheerfully, and also completely honestly. Ron snorted lightly, but a look from Hermione quickly shushed him.

“Alright, well if you’re ready, I can take you to the airport,” Charlie spoke up, and both Mr. and Mrs. Granger blinked at him. “Er – the Wizarding way. It’ll be quicker.”

“Wizarding way,” Mrs. Granger repeated. “Oh, that’ll be fun!”

Harry moved closer to Charlie, tugging on his sleeve and keeping his voice low. “When you get back to Grimmauld Place,” he started to say, noticing Ron lean in on Charlie’s other side, “tell the others they need to start putting other places under the Fidelius Charm, too. Safe houses, decoys, homes of people in the Order – anything.”

Charlie nodded. “To throw the Death Eaters off the scent, right? One step ahead of you, mate. Bill and Fleur are due back from France next week; I’ve already owled him about doing just that.”

“Can we get Hermione’s fireplace hooked up to the Floo network?” Ron asked. “Or is that – I guess the Ministry would know about it, huh?”

“They would,” Charlie said slowly. “But we might be able to get a private network going without notifying them. I’ll look into it.”

“One more thing,” Harry said, as he looked across at Draco and watched him drag a hand across his perspiration-dotted forehead. “We may need you to give someone else access here. But you can’t tell anyone who.”

Charlie’s brow furrowed. “Alright…” Ron took a slight step back and seemed to be holding his breath as Harry shifted his weight from foot to foot. “Who is it?” Charlie asked.

“Well…” Harry hedged. “It’s – he’s–”

“Look, unless it’s a Death Eater or something–” Charlie broke off, his jaw hanging open for a second before he let out a noisy breath and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Christ, it’s a Death Eater, isn’t it? Merlin’s saggy tits, Harry, you’ve already got one you’re keeping around, is another really necessary?”

“Malfoy doesn’t count,” Harry and Ron said simultaneously, though Ron sounded far more resigned where Harry sounded forceful. “And anyway, Dumbledore trusted this man,” Harry continued. “He’s one of the few people who can really help us. We have to be able to contact him.”

“Who is it, then?” Charlie asked.

“…Professor Snape…” Harry mumbled, but Charlie heard him anyway and his eyes bugged out a bit.

Snape – but isn’t he the one who…?” He gestured feebly in Draco’s direction.

“He killed Dumbledore for Malfoy,” Harry confirmed, nodding. “Only because Dumbledore asked him to. It’s a long story, I can tell you more later if you really want to know.”

“No,” Charlie said faintly. “No, no. I’ll take your word for it. Mum reckons he’s still the Secret Keeper for Grimmauld Place, anyway.”

“He is,” Ron said helpfully. “Only a couple people are in contact with him. Moody and, uh – Dumbledore’s brother.”

Charlie still looked more than a little boggled. Harry cleared his throat. “Er…you might want to get Hermione’s parents to the airport.”

“Right!” Charlie said quickly, latching onto the change in topic. “Right, we should go.” He herded the Grangers away from whatever conversation they’d been having with Draco and Hermione, and grabbed the bags that had hastily been packed for them. “I’ll be in touch,” he said to Harry, as Hermione said her goodbyes one more time, and then seconds later the three of them were gone.

Hermione instantly looked over at Draco. “Still alright?”

Draco nodded slowly. He was a bit pale. “Still alright. Would you mind showing me where I’m sleeping? Think I need a bit of a lie-down.”

“I’ll take him,” Harry said, planting his palm on the center of Draco’s back, right between his shoulder blades, and directing him toward the stairs. “See you guys tomorrow.”

“Night, Harry,” Hermione said softly, a worried look in her eyes as she watched Draco.

Harry led him up to their bedroom, his stomach doing a little somersault when he pushed open the door and caught sight of only one bed inside. Draco stared at it, then at Harry, and when neither one moved nor offered up any sort of explanation, he said, “Oh, are we sharing?”

“Hermione’s house isn’t as big as Grimmauld Place,” Harry said, by way of explanation. His face felt warm. “Er, but I can sleep downstairs,” he added quickly. “If you want. On the couch.”

Draco gave him a look that said Harry was being exactly as silly as he suddenly felt. “Why are you such a daft git?” he asked, amused.

Harry shrugged helplessly. “Honestly, I wish I knew.”

“It’s just sleeping in the same bed,” Draco said. “We’ve done that before.”

“I know,” Harry said. He toyed absently with a loose thread on his sleeve.

Draco watched him for a moment, and then abruptly he rolled his shoulders back and straightened up. “Well, I’m very tired, Potter,” he said loudly. “I think I’m going to go straight to bed, and I’ll thank you not to molest me in my sleep. Because that’s all I intend to do. Sleep. None of what’s rattling around in your dirty mind.”

“Oh my God,” Harry said. “Yeah, okay, I think I can manage that.”

“…You could argue a little.”

“I’m sure it’ll be very difficult,” Harry said gravely. “I might have to tie my hands behind my back.”

“Or maybe above your head,” Draco mused. “You know – to the headboard.”

Harry stared at him.

“…And we’re clearly not there yet,” Draco muttered.

A knock at the door interrupted them before Harry could even begin to form a coherent thought about all that, much less a response, and Hermione poked her head through. “Just wanted to drop off your bags,” she said, handing them to Harry. “Is the room alright?”

“It’ll do,” Draco said. He absently reached out to fiddle with the light switch, and then made a startled sound when the room suddenly plunged into darkness. Quickly, he turned the lights back on. “Sorry,” he mumbled sheepishly. “Forgot it did that.”

Hermione grinned a bit, but it faded after a moment. “Thank you,” she said. “For helping with my parents.” She peered at Draco. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yes,” Draco said shortly. When both Hermione and Harry adopted doubtful looks, he scowled. “The spell just took more out of me than I expected it to,” he said. “Everything’s fine now, honest. The spell’s done and they’ll remain under it until I take it off. Or die.” Harry’s eyes widened in alarm, and Draco snorted. “We’ll aim for the former, of course.”

“Of course,” Harry agreed, nodding fervently.

“Well, I’ll leave you to it,” Hermione said, smiling again. “Have a good night, boys.”

“Night, Hermione,” Harry said.

“Yes, goodnight, Hermione,” Draco repeated politely. Then he raised his voice and added, “Try not to have too much loud sex with Weasley! Remember you have guests right across the hall!”

Harry heard Ron give an indignant squawk a room away, but Hermione merely gave Draco a sly little smirk. “Same goes to you two,” she said. “Might I suggest a silencing spell? They really come in very handy.”

“Says the expert, I’m sure,” Draco said with a grin, while Harry proceeded to die of mortification.

Hermione,” he groaned. “Can you not? I like to pretend you’re still virtuous and unsullied!”

“Oh, Harry, really,” Hermione said, a touch exasperated. “It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Sex is a very natural thing, there’s no reason to–”

“Oh my God,” Draco said, reaching for the door. “Quick, shut her out before she sucks all the fun out of shagging.” He practically slammed the door shut in Hermione’s face, but they could hear her laughing as she crossed the hall to her bedroom.

Harry slumped back against the wall. “My brain,” he groaned. “Whatever happened to their, er – extracurricular activities being a topic of discussion that is off limits?”

“I’m not sure,” Draco said. “Can we please go back to that?” He held up his wand like it was a judge’s gavel. “I hereby vote to reinstate the aforementioned rule that there shall be no discussion whatsoever of anything that happens behind closed doors between one Hermione Granger and one Ronald Weasley. Members of the Wizengamot in agreement, say aye!”

“Aye!” Harry said quickly, raising his own wand.

“Then the vote is unanimous,” Draco declared. “This rule shall officially go into effect immediately following the closure of this trial. Which is now. Meeting adjourned!” He lowered his wand, propping his hands on his hips and lifting his chin in Harry’s direction. “There,” he said haughtily. “Problem solved.”

Harry grinned and reached out with both hands, circling them behind Draco’s neck and leaning in to kiss him. Draco made a soft, surprised sound, and he blinked owlishly at Harry when he pulled back. “You are such a dork,” Harry said, and Draco’s eyes promptly went from wide to narrow.

“If by dork you mean sexy and incredibly suave,” he said, flicking some hair out of his face.

“Sure,” Harry said. “We’ll go with that. Now come on – bed.”

They changed into pajamas and climbed into bed, hitting only one minor roadblock when they both tried to claim the same side. Harry eventually caved and let Draco curl up on the right side of the mattress. Harry took the left and lied there, still as he could, for about thirty seconds, before he decided to stop being ridiculous and rolled over to sling an arm around Draco’s waist.

Luckily, Draco only tensed up a little bit. “…Hello,” he murmured, resting a hand on Harry’s arm. “Getting cozy, are we?”

“I like touching you,” Harry admitted to the back of Draco’s neck. “Also, I like sleeping on my side and it seemed stupid to face away from you.”

“Wasn’t complaining,” Draco said. Harry felt him relax in increments, until eventually he released a long, sleepy sigh and inched backwards in Harry’s embrace. “Just don’t fling yourself out of bed in the morning when you remember who you’re sleeping next to and we’ll be fine.”

Harry snorted, his breath rustling Draco’s hair. “That was an entirely different set of circumstances,” he said, tightening his arm. His fingers brushed against warm skin and he paused for a second before pressing them closer. When Draco didn’t say anything, Harry gathered up his courage and slipped them under the thin shirt Draco wore.

Suddenly, his heart was pounding.

All he had to do was let his hand drop a few inches lower, really. Right there. There was no reason not to, and nothing to be scared of. Draco wasn’t arguing. He just needed to slide his hand beneath Draco’s pants and–

Draco shifted, turning his head deeper into his pillow as he got comfortable, and then he let out a quiet little snore.

Harry’s shoulders slumped.

Of course.

With a soft sigh, he settled in behind Draco, keeping his arm snug in place and closing his eyes.

Maybe tomorrow.

* * *

The four of them settled into a routine over the next couple of days. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the most productive of routines, and instead mostly consisted of Hermione doing her absolute best to persuade everyone to focus already, Ron being fascinated by every single Muggle appliance in the house that his eyes landed on, Harry attempting to pay attention to Hermione – really, honestly! – but instead finding himself constantly distracted by Draco, who was busy showing off his limited knowledge of Muggles by happily upstaging Ron at every turn as he pointed out what each of the aforementioned Muggle appliances were.

For instance:

“That’s a mi-cro-wave,” he said early the next morning, as Ron pushed at some of the buttons on the box-like contraption. “Potter used it to make the occasional foul meal when we were at his relatives’ house over the summer.”

“The meals were already made,” Harry said. “I was just heating them up.”

Draco waved him off. “Whatever, they were still foul.”

“I’m not saying they weren’t, I was just clarifying that I didn’t make–”

Foul, Potter!” Draco interrupted. “Absolutely awful! In fact, I can’t believe you forced me to eat them.”

“You wouldn’t stop whining about how hungry you were! So I fed you, and then you wouldn’t stop whining about how bad the food was!”

“Excuse you, I wasn’t whining.”

“You were definitely whining.”

“I wasn’t–”

“Dunno, mate, have to agree with Harry on this one,” Ron interrupted. “You’re pretty good at whinging on about nonsense things.”

Harry grinned as Draco spluttered, feeling his mood lift even higher than it already was. He was feeling good this morning, which was apparently what happened when he started the day with Draco sprawled on top of him.

He had woken up to blonde hair tickling at his nose that morning, and it had taken him a few seconds to remember where exactly he was; a few seconds during which he’d swatted at the offending hair and Draco had grunted sleepily at him, before Harry had finally woken up enough to realize it was another body plastered against his own.

There’d been an elbow digging into his side and the body heat Draco had been generating was almost stifling, really. It had left Harry with an urge to kick all of his covers off – except he couldn’t, because one of his legs had been trapped beneath one of Draco’s and the blankets were all twisted up between them, with one side tucked firmly beneath Draco.

He’d slowly taken it all in, his lips curving upward into a small smile.

He was pretty sure it was something he could get used to.

Boys,” Hermione said, for what had to be the fifth time. “Can you please pay attention?”

Ron managed to tear himself away from where he was opening and shutting the dishwater (“Muggles use that to clean their plates and such,” chimed Draco helpfully. “Because, you know, they can’t use magic.”) and finally went over to take a seat at the kitchen table. “What is this we’re looking at?” he asked, frowning down at the parchment Hermione had spread out on the table.

“It’s a copy of the Marauder’s Map,” Hermione said, but then her brow furrowed slightly. “…Sort of. I made it before Harry sent the map to Neville, but it’s not exact.” She pointed at the one-eyed witch that hid the secret passageway to Honeydukes. “Obviously it doesn’t show you all the people in the castle and it doesn’t give you passwords and such. No one would ever know this is a way out of the castle from looking at this map, for example.”

At those words, Draco leaned forward and squinted at where Hermione was pointing. “How is that a way out of the castle?”

“Just tap the statue and say Dissendium,” Ron said, grinning smugly. “It leads to Honeydukes.”

“And you’ve used this?” Draco asked, his eyes flicking toward Harry.

Harry shrugged. “I used it to come throw mud at you in third year,” he said, and Draco gaped at him.

That’s how – and you were wearing your Invisibility Cloak – that’s why your head was floating around Hogsmeade!”

“Something like that,” Harry said, his own grin turning a bit smug now.

Draco scowled. “And how many of these passages out are there?”

“Seven,” Harry replied. “That we know of, anyway. Some don’t work anymore.”

“Have you used all the ones that do work?”

Harry shrugged again, but before he could answer Hermione cut in. “That’s not important right now,” she said, sounding far past exasperated by this point. “I thought we might be able to use this to help us figure out what Voldemort’s planning to do.”

“Get into Hogwarts,” Ron said. “I thought we knew that much already.”

“Yes, but why?” Hermione said. “And how?” She uncapped a red marker, which Draco and Ron looked at curiously, and started marking X’s over all the entranceways into Hogwarts. “If he was just going to march on Hogwarts, he wouldn’t need the map. If he was going to use the secret passages in, Wormtail could probably just tell him where they are. There must be something else he needs the map for.”

“Maybe he wants to know who all is in the castle?” Ron suggested.

“He’ll probably need to know where everyone is when he makes his move,” Harry agreed.

“This map isn’t complete,” Draco said abruptly, and they all looked at him. He pointed at where the seventh floor was. “It’s missing the Room of Hidden Things.”

“The Room of Requirement,” Harry said, understanding dawning. He took the marker from Hermione and added a room where it should be on the map. “My dad didn’t know about it. It’s possible Voldemort didn’t either – until last year.” Draco winced a bit, and Harry absently reached out to touch his arm, still talking. “He could be adding it to the map.”

“They confiscated the Vanishing Cabinet from Borgin and Burkes, though,” Hermione said. “So it’s not like he could use those again to get in.”

Harry frowned. “Well, then maybe he wants the room for something else.”

“If he wants it at all,” Ron added.

“Maybe he wants to hide something there,” Draco said. “Or…maybe he already did. Maybe that’s where the last Horcrux is.”

“The shield is the last Horcrux,” Harry said, and Draco rolled his eyes.

“But if it’s not,” he said. “Just…a what if scenario.”

Harry shook his head. “I’ve been in the Room of Requirement when it’s like that – when it’s the Room of Hidden Things. I never felt anything weird like I do when I’m around one of the other Horcruxes.”

“It’s a really big room, Potter,” Draco said impatiently. “It’s possible you just didn’t get close enough. And it’s called that for a reason – there’s no better place to stow something you don’t want other people to find!”

“So, what, is he trying to get it back?” Harry asked. “That doesn’t make sense!”

“Actually, it kind of does,” Hermione said softly. “If there’s something there – if – well, he knows what you’re doing now, doesn’t he? He knows what you’re after. So…”

“…I don’t know,” Harry said, rubbing at the back of his neck. “It just – doesn’t sound right. There’s got to be something else he’s trying to do.”

“Do you think you can charm the map to have it show other things besides people?” Ron asked. “Maybe he’s looking for something else entirely.”

“Like what?” Hermione said, and Ron shrugged.

“Could be anything – just look at what we’ve come across there in the past six years. The philosopher’s stone, the Mirror of Erised, and you can’t forget the Chamber of Secrets – that’s also not on the map. There could be any number of things he wants from Hogwarts.”

The room went quiet for a moment. Harry sighed and pushed his hand back into his hair, wishing not for the first time that this could all just be over. Hermione got up to make herself some more tea, letting in an owl that was flapping outside the kitchen window while she was at it.

“That’s a coffee machine,” Draco said out of nowhere, when Ron stared for too long at the complicated looking thing sitting on the counter. Ron scowled at him.

“Harry,” Hermione said suddenly. She was holding the copy of the Daily Prophet that had just been delivered, scanning one of the articles. “Do you think maybe we should just ask Professor Snape what Voldemort’s plan is?”

Harry blinked. “…That would probably save us a lot of trouble, yeah. That is, if he knows.”

“I’ve a feeling he does,” Hermione said, and she turned the paper around so they could see the article she was reading. “Because he’s just been made the new headmaster.”

“Of Hogwarts?” Ron exclaimed, as Harry grabbed the newspaper from Hermione. “How – he’s supposed to be in hiding! He’s a wanted man.”

“Not anymore,” Harry said, reading quickly. “Apparently new evidence came to light over winter break.” He made a disgusted sound and passed the paper off to Draco. “Your dad got a mention,” he said, and Draco snatched it out of his hands before Harry had even finished his sentence.

“What evidence?” Ron asked.

“They’ve pinned Dumbledore’s murder on Draco,” Hermione said. “And since there were…no witnesses present,” she glanced at Harry as she said this, “they’re saying Professor Snape showed up at the Ministry to submit his memories for viewing.”

Ron groaned. “The bloody Ministry,” he said, and Hermione nodded.

“Harry’s been painted as a pathological liar again,” she continued. “And they’re saying Professor Snape showed up on the tower to stop Draco.”

“Only he was too late,” Draco said, scowling down at the paper. “This is such rubbish!”

“It’s ridiculous, is what it is,” Hermione said viciously. “There’s no explanation for why Professor Snape stayed quiet for so long, there’s no reasoning behind him becoming headmaster – people are just supposed to blindly believe all of this! And they will, because everyone’s too afraid to question anything right now!” She sat down heavily in one of the chairs at the table, arms crossed tightly over her chest and her lips pursed. Harry and Ron shared a look, but didn’t say anything. It was best not to when Hermione got riled up like that.

“They’ve made my father a professor?” Draco suddenly squawked. Ron’s eyebrows shot up, and Hermione huffed.

“Defence Against the Dark Arts,” she said in a singsong kind of voice, and then muttered, “Unbelievable.”

“But – why?” Draco said. “I thought for sure – I mean, after what he did – I was positive he was dead. And now he’s…teaching? This means he’s in on whatever the plan is, right? I don’t – it doesn’t make any sense!”

“I don’t understand it either,” Harry said, frustrated. “I’ve no idea what’s going on.”

“I think we need to owl Professor Snape,” Hermione said. “You wanted to get in contact with him anyway. We’ll set up a meeting. Charlie will allow him access here, and we’ll see what he can tell us.”

“Sounds good to me,” Ron said, leaning back in his chair and craning his head in an attempt to see into the living room. “So, are we done for now? Hermione, can I…?” He gestured toward the door, and Hermione waved him off with a sigh.

“Just go,” she said tiredly, and Ron was out of his chair not two seconds later. Draco fidgeted for a second, looking back and forth between the Daily Prophet, Harry, and the direction Ron had gone, and then he succumbed to curiosity and set the paper down on the table before slipping out to follow the other boy. Hermione looked at Harry with a small, amused smile. “He’s gone to eye up my dad’s new video games, I guarantee it,” she said. “Dad was showing him a bit before you two got here.”

Harry snorted, and from the other room they heard Draco say, “That’s a tele-vis-ion, Weasley. The Muggles use it to–”

“For fuck’s sake, Malfoy, I know what a bloody telly is!”

Harry and Hermione looked at each other again and laughed.

* * *

A few days later, Harry found Hermione opening and closing the cabinets in the kitchen as if she thought their contents might change each time the door shut. He watched her for a moment, and then when she opened the same cabinet for the third time, he had to speak up. “…Are you looking for something?”

Hermione whipped around to face him, her cheeks coloring slightly. “No, I was just–” She walked over to the fridge this time, sighing as she eyed the nearly empty shelves inside. “We need to go shopping, is all.”

“Is…that a problem?” Harry asked slowly, and Hermione gave him a faintly annoyed look.

“Have you got a lot of money readily available?” she asked. Harry opened his mouth to answer, and Hermione held up a hand before he could. “Muggle money,” she clarified. “We can’t exactly stroll up to Gringotts to exchange our Galleons.”

“Oh,” Harry said sheepishly. “Well, in that case – no.”

Hermione sighed again. “I suppose we’ll just have to use my mum’s emergency credit card.” She headed into the living room where Ron and Draco were staring, enthralled, at the television. Harry couldn’t help but snicker at the display as he followed her. Draco had done his best to ignore the telly when they were at the Dursleys’ that summer, but here, now, after he’d finally let his shields down around them, he clearly didn’t have any problems letting his curiosity show. “Come on, Harry, you need to come with me,” Hermione was saying, opening the closet by the front door and pulling out her coat.

Harry blinked at her. “I do?” he asked, as Hermione reached up and started searching around for something on one of the shelves.

“Go where?” Ron spoke up, swiveling his head around to look at the two of them.

“The store,” Hermione replied. She pulled down a wallet that Harry guessed contained the aforementioned credit card. “And yes. I’m not going by myself, and those two obviously can’t come.”

“Why not?” Ron asked, pouting a bit. “Why can’t I go to the Muggle store?”

“You’d spend too much time ogling everything and we need to be discreet,” Hermione said. She picked up a pair of car keys, eyeing them thoughtfully.

Harry’s eyes widened a bit. “You can drive?”

“I got my license over the summer,” Hermione said, as Ron straightened up even further and leaned over the back of the couch.

“I’m coming,” he said determinedly. “I won’t stare at anything, I promise. Can I drive?”

No,” Harry and Hermione said simultaneously, and Ron scowled at the two of them.

“I’m a good driver!”

“Didn’t you crash a car into the Whomping Willow second year?” Draco asked, finally tearing his eyes away from the television to lift an eyebrow at Ron.

“That was years ago,” Ron said, though his face suddenly flamed up at the memory. “And I was driving it just fine before that happened! Wasn’t I, Harry?”

“…Er.” Harry coughed, averting his eyes. “You – that is. Well...” He trailed off and shrugged, and Ron let out a big harrumph and spun back around in his seat, slouching down against the cushions and crossing his arms over his chest.

Hermione rolled her eyes a bit. “I’m sorry, Ron, but we have to be quick about it and Harry’s already familiar with Muggles and everything! Anyway, we’re not going to drive. The car would be too obvious.” She put the keys down and instead hooked her arm through Harry’s. “We’ll just have to Apparate. Are you ready?

“I – suppose?” Harry said bewilderedly, still wondering how exactly this task had landed on him.

“Have fun,” Draco said, already focused on the television again. Harry tried to see if he recognized what they were watching, but he felt a tug on his arm and Hermione Disapparated them away before he could figure it out.

They landed in an alleyway beside what looked to be a small market. Hermione glanced around briefly before letting go of Harry’s arm. “I think we’re okay.”

“You could have let me cast a Disillusionment charm or something,” Harry said, resting his hand against the wall until he found his bearings. “Or given me time to grab my Invisibility Cloak. Rush much?”

“…I know, I’m sorry,” Hermione said, pressing the heels of her hands against her eyes for a second before pushing her bushy hair out of her face and tilting her head back to look at the sky. “I just needed to get out of there for a little while.”

Harry’s brow furrowed in concern. “Everything alright?”

Hermione nodded and pushed away from the wall, heading out into the street and away from what Harry had assumed was the store they were supposed to be going into. “Fine. Everything’s fine. Do you want to grab lunch real quick? There’s an excellent deli just down the way.”

“Hermione…” Harry rushed to catch up with her, falling in step beside her when he did. “Are you sure we can be away for that long?” He lowered his voice, eyes darting around them. “We don’t know that they aren’t still watching the house.”

“They couldn’t have seen us leave,” Hermione replied in the same quiet tone. “And without Draco, they can’t track you. We won’t stay out long, but – Harry, I just need some space to breathe for a minute.”

Harry nodded, but he couldn’t help frowning. “Are you sure you’re okay? Ron hasn’t done something stupid, has he?”

“Ron’s always doing something stupid,” Hermione said with fond exasperation. “But no, it’s nothing like that. Honestly, I’m just tired of being cooped up inside for so long. I feel like I haven’t properly seen the sun in months!”

“Getting a little stir crazy?” Harry asked, grinning slightly, and Hermione nodded.

“Very much so.” She hooked her arm around Harry’s again, smiling at him. “Also, I miss you! Lately it seems I’m always with Ron and you’re always with Draco.” Harry flushed a bit and Hermione laughed, bumping her shoulder against his. “Understandable, of course, but still. You should tear yourself away from him and talk to me more often.”

Hermione,” Harry protested weakly. “It’s not like I’m – glued to his side or something!”

“You are a bit. But it’s alright. I’ve barely had a chance at all to talk to you about the whole thing, though!”

“…We don’t have to do that now, do we?”

Hermione just gave him an impish grin and pulled him into the deli.

* * *

Draco managed to keep his eyes glued to the television for approximately thirty seconds before it occurred to him that Harry had just up and left him in the house alone with Weasley.

“…Did Potter just up and leave me alone in the house with you?” he asked, lip curling upward in a sneer.

Weasley gave him a flat look. “I’m sure you’re really bothered by it,” he said, and then his eyes abruptly widened. “Hey, they left us alone! Brilliant.”

“What?” Draco sat up, watching as Weasley jumped off the couch and dashed over to mess around with the telly. “How is that brilliant? Weasley, what are you doing? Don’t change it, I’m watching that!”

“You’re sitting there insulting it every five bloody seconds. And besides, I’ve got something better. Hermione’s dad was showing me – it’s this thing called a video game.”

“Video game?” Draco repeated, his nose wrinkling. “I’m not interested. Put the other thing back on.”

“No,” Weasley said simply. “We’re going to play this racing game.”

“…Does it involve racing brooms?”

Weasley looked over his shoulder and raised an eyebrow. “It’s a Muggle game, you twit.”

Draco scowled. “Well, what the hell are you supposed to race with, then?”

“Karts!” Weasley said cheerfully.

“…Karts.”

“Yeah. Now if only I could…get it to bloody turn on.”

“Do you mean, like – carriages? Are they pulled by something? Not thestrals, obviously – being a Muggle game and all – but...?”

“No, they’re more like small cars.”

“What the hell is it with you and cars?”

“I like them!” Weasley said defensively. “You’ve never even been in one, have you?”

“Of course not!” Draco exclaimed, as though the mere idea was offensive. The television screen flashed then, and suddenly an odd, three-dimensional looking letter N popped up. It floated around for a bit, while Weasley let out a triumphant sound and messed around some more. Draco wondered what exactly he was doing, but he didn’t say anything. He didn’t want Weasley thinking he was actually maybe-possibly-kind of interested in this…video game thing.

“Okay, that should do it, I think,” Weasley said, sitting back on his heels. They watched as the screen went black, and then a gold-lettered word popped up.

“…Nin-ten-do,” Draco read, but before he could question it, the word disappeared and the television blared loudly to life with too-cheerful sounding music and weird looking, cartoonish characters that vaguely reminded Draco of the old Martin Miggs comics he used to read under the covers of his bed so his father wouldn’t know.

“Yes!” Weasley cheered. “It worked!”

Draco frowned. “Alright, look, I’m going to need some kind of alcohol in me straight away if I’m going to attempt to play some dodgy looking Muggle game. Do you think Hermione’s parents have got anything hidden away?”

Weasley looked thoughtful for a moment, and then he grinned. “Better,” he said. “I’ve still got half a bottle of Firewhiskey left.”

* * *


part 2





You can also read it at Skyehawke.

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