Pairing[s]: Harry/Draco and others.
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 3000 words
Summary: The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction. [William Blake]
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Interregnum - Chapter 13
Malfoy walked in a moment later, and Harry faced him with what he hoped was absolute calm. The air-gag in his mouth dissolved at a lazy flick of Malfoy's wrist.
"Did you enjoy the show?" asked Malfoy, cocking his head to one side.
"What do you mean?" asked Harry, though it came out a croak. He coughed and licked his lips.
"I see you did enjoy it, maybe even a little too much," murmured Malfoy, staring into Harry's lap. "My apologies."
Harry frowned, fighting to refocus his mind -- who the hell did Malfoy think he was, looking at him like that? "If you think an apology is going to get you out of trouble, I'm afraid I have some bad news."
"No, I don't think anything of the sort," said Malfoy. His whole bearing had changed; he seemed almost friendly as long as he didn't speak. "I'm just sorry you liked it so much -- I didn't think you would. Finite Incantatem."
Harry's bonds dissolved, and he got up from the chair, rubbing his left shoulder. Was that it? Had Malfoy just kept him there to make him watch...
"Here's your wand back," said Malfoy. "Have fun turning the place upside down. You won't mind if I supervise. Wouldn't want you stealing anything."
Harry took his wand, wondering if Malfoy had done anything unnatural to it, but it felt quite normal. "For the record, I think you're disgusting."
"Of course you do," said Malfoy, waving a dismissive hand. "Fortunately for both of us, I don't care what you think. So why don't you just conduct your little search and then go back to whatever hole you crawled out of? I'd really like to resume the life in which you're only an unpleasant memory."
Unpleasant memory, was he? Should've let the fucking prick die in the Room of Requirement. Harry was anxious to get out of here. He would have been quite pleased to erase tonight from his memory, but self-administered Memory Charms were far too dangerous and unpredictable, and he doubted Malfoy would oblige a request for one. Harry gathered his Invisibility Cloak up and stuck it in his pocket, then went back to the drawer he'd been examining, keenly aware of Malfoy's eyes on his back. He was looking for anything that tied the Malfoys to July twelfth -- too bad he didn't know exactly what.
Harry's search of the rest of this room was perfunctory at best; he just wanted to get away from there, away from the wall that he feared would turn into a window at any moment and show him something even worse, maybe Malfoy going at it with two others, one fucking Malfoy from behind, and the other shoving his cock into Malfoy's mouth. The image was so vivid that Harry actually closed his eyes and shook his head in a vain attempt to get rid of it. What was wrong with him?
Malfoy followed him from room to room, always taking a seat someplace prominent -- here a sofa, there a bed -- and watching him with not a word but lots of contempt. Harry could practically feel Malfoy's eyes on him every time he turned his back, and it was beginning to grate on his nerves, not to mention distract him from his task. But if he said anything, Malfoy might think he had got to Harry with his incessant staring. That Harry had inadvertently found himself in a pissing contest of this sort was even more infuriating. It was as though the intervening years had never happened and they were still fourteen. Well, Malfoy could stay fourteen for the rest of his life and see if Harry cared.
After an hour of fruitless searching, Harry gave up and concluded that if the Malfoys were up to something, they were hiding the evidence elsewhere. Shutting the last of the kitchen cupboards -- tea, more tea, and instant coffee -- he pocketed his wand and walked towards the front door.
"Found what you were looking for?" asked Malfoy, following.
Yeah, confirmation that you're still a prat, Harry almost told him as he turned around. "The Hit Wizards will be in touch with you regarding your inappropriate conduct during this search, Mr Malfoy," he said instead, in his best Percy imitation.
Malfoy stared at him, a smirk playing across his lips. "I look forward to their visit. Men in uniform just make me so hot, you know?"
Ugh, ugh. Harry scowled. "Good evening to you, Mr Malfoy." He thought he heard a snigger as he raced downstairs.
A golden sphere of light expanded far above the Atlantic ocean, filling with sounds from disparate parts of the world. The disembodied voices stated their call signs. After a brief silence, Queen spoke.
"It is my understanding that Harry Potter is in Berlin."
"He is," said Alpine. "My man thought at first that he had only come for that Quidditch match, but he's still there."
"You have a full record of his movements, I trust," said Queen.
"Full? Hardly," replied Alpine. "So far he's been seen visiting the supermarket and a Muggle adult novelty shop. After three weeks, I am sure he's aware of the possibility of observation and is making himself invisible as often as he can."
"It doesn't matter," spoke Niagara with a hint of impatience. "Berlin won't lead Potter or his puppet master anywhere."
"What worries me is that he's looking at all," said Queen. "Is it possible you've been compromised?"
"If anyone starts asking my sister any questions, I'll be the first to know."
"Good. Now then, the reason I have called this meeting is that I have some wonderful news. The silver lion has been found."
The silence that followed was so utter that a distant roar of thunder filtered through the Conference Globe's mystical shell.
New York spoke first. "So you were right about its location."
"Indeed. It's in the possession of the Malfoy family. I trust all of you are familiar with the name."
There were several murmurs of assent.
"Retrieving it," said Queen with unmistakable triumph, "Shall not be a problem."
Hermione sat in stunned disbelief as the light on the map winked out. She had been sure, of course, that her trick would work, but deep down, she had not expected it to. The sabotaged Conference Globe had confounded her for such a long time that she had begun fearing that she was up against someone infinitely smarter than she was, and the thought had terrified her.
But she had worked it out in the end, and now she sat contemplating what she had heard, staring at the parchment in front of her, on which she had hastily scribbled down the essential points:
New York, Niagara, Jerusalem, Alpine, Siberia, Brisbane, Queen (A WOMAN) - loc.?
Watching Harry (adult shop??)
Puppet master? (Kingsley? Sy else?)
1 of them has a sister (Berlin?)
The silver lion - Malfoys involved?
She was almost certain that the codenames were locations, except for Queen, who was obviously the leader. Harry was being watched in Berlin, which was worrying, and he would need to be told as soon as possible even though he was already being very careful, obviously. The reference to a puppet master worried her: was it a disparaging way to refer to Kingsley or the Ministry itself, or did it hold a more sinister meaning -- like the Imperius Curse? These were the people who had used the Imperius Curse on Muggles and thereby nearly obliterated England. Hermione shook her head. It wasn't possible, not with Harry. He had fought off even Voldemort's Imperius Curse, and no one was stronger than Voldemort.
There had been precious little to identify any of the speakers. Their voices were probably augmented -- Queen sounded like a woman, but what if it was just a ploy? The one named Niagara had a sister, possibly in Berlin, and this would need investigating. Despite the various locations, the voices all spoke unaccented English, and were assumed to be familiar with the Malfoys. Hermione was sure this confirmed the suspicion that these were, indeed, the former Death Eaters. Even without names or faces, this was an enormous breakthrough, and she couldn't wait to tell Kingsley about it.
She racked her brain for any possible meaning of "the silver lion". Was it another codename, or was it an object? She needed to know. She was likely in over her head, but this couldn't wait. The Malfoys held a secret that would possibly lead to the heart of the mystery, and despite her fear, despite the nightmares she still suffered thanks to the mansion's peculiar brand of hospitality, she Apparated to the gates of Malfoy Manor and demanded entry, on her authority as an officer of magical law.
Dear Millicent and Patrick,
Upon your advice, I've done my best to work questions about Eva Kay into my conversations with Gran over the weeks since I saw you, and I think I now have all the information that Gran does. What follows is a summary of what I've learned. As the school year is starting very soon, I won't see Gran as often as I do now, and so this will probably be my first and last letter for a while.
Gran met Eva during one of those charity fundraisers Celestina Warbeck likes to organise; it was something to do with Sumatra. Gran only went because Celestina was supposed to sing (she didn't) and she wanted to see if Lobelia Parkinson would throw tomatoes like she always does (Gran and Lobelia made that bet back when they were still at Hogwarts). Eva introduced herself to Gran in the queue to the ladies' room and let Gran go in front of her. Since then, Gran and Eva have tea roughly once a week, and they mostly talk about current events, though Eva has asked her quite a few questions about our family. They share a mutual dislike of Minerva McGonagall -- nothing sinister, you understand.
As far as background information on Eva goes, there isn't very much. Gran says she was born in England, possibly Scotland, though she doesn't know how old she is -- mid-thirties is her best guess. At some point, Eva's family relocated to Iceland, which was where she spent most of her life. She returned to England after the end of the second war and has been here ever since. She lives somewhere in the north of England, though Gran has never been inside of her home: they always meet at tea shops.
I don't think that Gran has found any of my questions inappropriate; as you suggested, I did my best to steer the conversation towards topics that would let me ask about Eva. So I don't think she'll be mentioning to Eva that I seem a bit too interested in her. She's usually pretty straightforward with me, and if she thought I was asking too many questions, she'd say so.
I must admit that after all this, I can see why you might suspect Eva of being involved in something shady -- she is quite close-mouthed for someone who seems so sociable -- but I remain hopeful that it's all a misunderstanding.
Millicent finished reading and stared out of the open window, where Neville's owl had alighted minutes ago.
"Interesting," she murmured, watching a troop of garden gnomes march across the beet patch.
Patrick, who had been reading the letter over her shoulder, planted a kiss on the side of her neck, hugging her from behind. "Can we go back to bed now?"
The thought of going back to bed and possibly ending up naked in full morning's light still filled Millicent with vague trepidation. She was ashamed of how she looked without clothes on. Her husband's continued desire for her made her even more ashamed than ever, which made no sense.
"I think we should go to Iceland," she said.
"Milliceeeeent," whined Patrick, burying his face in the curve of her neck. "Bed is closer."
She sighed. Being married was nice and all, but she could do without all these weird emotional hiccups that turned her into a total girl.
Harry's dislike for classical music was reaching a brand new level. Two weeks of shadowing Nott, and all he ever heard and saw were violins, pianos, cellos, and various other instruments of mass torture. Maybe he lacked finesse like Ginny always said, but classical music bored Harry to tears, and it was just his luck that his mark in Berlin was studying to conduct magical orchestra performances.
Theodore Nott was a diligent student, Harry had to admit -- he spent the first week going to recital upon recital during the days and then practising on a miniature set of instruments at home in the evenings. During the second week, the recitals appeared to be over, but whilst Nott started to make time for other pursuits, he still attended more concerts than Harry thought could possibly exist. He interacted mainly with his teachers and people in the local music scene. Twice he paid a visit to Malfoy's flat, and Harry wondered if Nott, too, was a poofter. He didn't think it was possible for three of the Slytherins in his year to be bent as scenic railways, but they were Slytherins, after all.
At the end of it all, Nott did nothing out of the ordinary. More importantly, he showed no sign of being in contact with his father at all, and Harry was beginning to realise that he would never find anything in Berlin. Theodore Nott was very obviously not involved in any Death Eater schemes, and if his father was, it would probably be news to Theodore. He just did not behave like a person who had something to hide. There was always something in those who lived with secrets -- a nervous tic of some sort -- that a skilled Auror or Hit Wizard could spot. Nott was disgustingly normal, aside from possibly being a shirt-lifter.
Harry was staring into the mirror above the sink in the small bathroom of the Auror safe house, wondering idly if he ought to shave, when his two-way mirror began to shout for him. He walked out into the living area, which resembled a barracks with metal-frame beds lining the walls, leading to an open kitchenette. It was on one of the counters that Harry had emptied his pockets before his shower. He identified himself and flipped the mirror open, finding himself face to face with a distraught-looking Hermione.
"Harry, something terrible has happened," she said by way of greeting. "Narcissa Malfoy has been taken to St Mungo's with severe spell damage; they hope she might recover but they say it's like the Longbottoms all over again."
"That's terrible," said Harry, frowning. Why would anyone want to harm Narcissa Malfoy? "But--"
"Oh God, I forgot. I thought I talked to you already, but it was Kingsley. I worked out how to listen in to the sabotaged Conference Globe, and I heard a conversation between some or all of the Death Eaters involved."
She quickly relayed to him what she had heard -- cities all over the world, Harry being watched in Berlin, the Malfoys' possession of some silver lion -- but after she was done, Harry was as bewildered as before. "So you went to Malfoy Manor and found Narcissa unconscious?" he asked.
"No. She refused to tell me anything when I first went to see her, but an hours after I left, I got a message from her saying she had hidden the King of Kings in her son's flat in Berlin."
"The King of Kings?" repeated Harry. "Is that the lion?"
"It must be, but she must've been distraught when she wrote the letter, see? It might have some sort of family significance, and the old pure-blood families usually have their own names for things. Anyway, she told me to come back so she could tell me how to unlock the hiding place in Draco's flat. When I came, no one answered at the gates. I feared a trap, so I called for backup and waited. We heard a scream from one of the open windows, so we forced our way inside, only to find Narcissa on the drawing room sofa, barely breathing." Hermione panted as she spoke.
Harry exhaled. "Wow," he said. "You've had a lot more excitement than me. All I get is bloody violins. So I'm to speak with Malfoy, then?"
"Yes. I haven't allowed word to reach him about his mother, because I don't think he should come here; I don't think it's safe," said Hermione. "You can tell him after you've got this lion, or King, or whatever it is. But try to convince him not to come here, to hide if possible."
Harry, who had planned on never seeing Malfoy again in his life, sighed again. "Sometimes I hate this job," he murmured, bidding Hermione good-bye and snapping the mirror shut.
He still had Malfoy's surveillance records somewhere, and he found them after some rummaging in the pile of parchment on the floor. The safe house had never been intended for this sort of work -- it was designed and approved for sting operations, not prolonged stakeouts. There wasn't even a writing desk, just beds, running water, and a decrepit stove. Harry leafed through the reams of parchment the Hit Wizards had given him. Malfoy lived a life so well-ordered he might've been born German -- he did the same things every day at the same time, and week after week, he followed the same routine. The only variations happened on weekends. Today was Friday, and on Fridays, Malfoy would be at Die Hitze, a club in East Berlin.
A gay club.
Just fucking wonderful.