Pairing[s]: Harry/Draco and others.
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 3100 words
Summary: What is now proved was once only imagined. [William Blake]
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Interregnum - Chapter 15
As Harry stared into Lucius Malfoy's grey eyes, they blinked.
"Oh, thank God," Harry exhaled. "Mr Malfoy?"
Lucius blinked again, twice this time. "Are-- are you talking to me?" he asked in a bewildered, plaintively childlike voice.
"Yes, Mr Malfoy, I'm talking to you," said Harry, crouching next to him. "What happened here?"
"I really couldn't tell you," said Lucius, frowning a little bit. "I don't even know where 'here' is. Did you call me 'Malfoy'?"
"Yes," said Harry, dread twisting up in him. "That's your surname." Had Lucius been Obliviated?
"Curious," said Luicus, blinking rapidly now. "I don't seem to recall being named that. In fact, I don't recall being named anything. Isn't that ever so strange?"
Obliviated. But why? What did he know? And why hadn't they killed him, like they'd clearly meant to kill his son? Maybe like after the first war, he was only pretending. Trying to pretend to be the victim -- maybe he had stolen whatever had been in the hiding place. Maybe it was in his pocket right now, and he was trying to appeal to Harry's well-publicised tendency to try and save people. After five years of Auror service, nothing seemed impossible to Harry anymore.
Harry turned to Lucius and felt an odd stab of horror at the tears trickling out of the man's eyes. Genuine distress or really good acting? Harry didn't know, but he knew there was something familiar about the way Lucius was talking, something he couldn't quite grasp.
"I can't seem to move, young man. Are you in authority? Can you help me?"
Harry, who had skived off nearly all the Healing lessons during his training, shook his head. "I can't help you," he said. "But I'll get you to St Mungo's just as fast as I can."
The Mediwizards would know if Lucius was faking it, and Harry was sure Lucius would know that very well. He gripped his wand tightly, waiting for Lucius to spring up and try to run, knowing his ploy had been foiled.
But Lucius Malfoy just lay where he was, unmoving except for his fluttering eyelids and his mouth. "Is that a place of healing? I should like to go there quickly, please, young man."
Abruptly, Harry remembered: Lockhart, the fraudulent Defence Against the Dark Arts professor in second year. Gilderoy Lockhart had forgotten everything in the world when Ron's wand had backfired on him, but underneath the confusion, he had remained as self-obsessed as ever. And now Lucius Malfoy was displaying the same imperious attitude he always had, though it didn't come across quite the same without a sneer.
He pulled out his two-way and tapped out the call code for the Berlin Hit Wizards' office. There was no evidence of Dark magic here -- Memory Charms and Garrotting Gas were neither -- and he hoped he could get away with just the Hit Wizards. He didn't want the German Aurors involved in this. They wouldn't be worried about international incidents, and Harry did not want his crime scene taken from him. It was his. It had to be. Wizards didn't own the land they lived on; Muggles did. As far as the International Confederation was concerned, a crime committed by British nationals against other British nationals, anywhere in the world, fell under the jurisdiction of the British Ministry.
"Albert Franke," said the two-way. Harry looked at it and saw a middle-aged wizard with a pipe jutting from between his teeth. He'd seen the man during his trip to the Hit Wizards' office, and thought he had looked interminably bored. He also spoke English, which was excellent, as Harry didn't think that "guten Tag", the only German expression he'd mastered, would suffice at this moment. As Harry explained the situation, Franke's look of boredom vanished, as did the pipe.
Ten minutes later, a lorry pulled up to Malfoy's building, and several men in white uniforms hurried up the steps to the flat. Lucius Malfoy and the late Blaise Zabini were levitated into large open-top crates and carried down to the lorry. Any Muggles watching would have assumed that Malfoy was either going away for a while or moving out -- though the hour was late for either, Malfoy was a foreigner, and foreigners the world over did odd things.
Harry felt uneasy about leaving Malfoy at the safe house, but he couldn't do anything else. It was the only place where Malfoy could not possibly be attacked. If Harry tried to move him, they might be waylaid -- Hermione had said the safe house was under surveillance. Harry assumed they were dealing with the same crazy bastards who had nearly succeeded in a nuclear attack upon England; if they were capable of that, it would not do for him to get cocky and assume he'd thought of everything. That was how people died -- or, in the case of Lucius and Narcissa, became incapacitated. Draco Malfoy was in danger on foreign soil, and that made him Harry's responsibility whether Harry liked it or not. He didn't like it, not one bit, but he didn't have to. This was his job.
Draco had paced the length of the floor over a hundred times, and his mind was running out of likely distractions. Twenty large strides to cross the room lengthwise, forty normal steps, about eighty baby steps. The room was only nine strides wide. Eighteen normal steps. About thirty...
He died with a smile on his face. At least that's something.
Ninety-two teabags in the cupboard above the sink. Five large mugs and a mismatched saucer chipped in three places. Two jugs of milk in the cold cupboard. Draco contemplated dumping the sugar out of its container and replacing it morsel by morsel, so he could spend the next several forevers counting instead of thinking.
He had attempted to Disapparate, to no avail. He had tried the door -- locked. There were no windows he could see. Safe, Potter had said, but Draco felt trapped. Only the very young and stupid felt safe when they had no control, and while Draco was quite young, he was far from stupid. What was this place? Was Draco under arrest? Had Potter said so whilst Draco had been too dazed to comprehend him?
You killed him, you know. You should have been the first through that door.
It was a voice Draco knew well. He had had entire conversations with it back in his sixth year at Hogwarts, and he had thought it gone forever, but now it was back as though never gone: mocking, cold. Draco Malfoy, you are such a blithering failure. Your parents are going to die. Just accept it. Accept it. Accept...
"No!" said Draco, stopping in the midst of his pacing. He glared at the unsuspecting kitchenette cupboard across from him. "My parents didn't die. I did my job--"
Did your job? Snape had to finish it for you, and now Snape is dead, just like Blaise, and soon your parents will die too. Because everything you touch turns to shit; haven't you noticed that by now?
"Fuck off," said Draco to the voice, and decided that it was high time to stop talking to himself. If he tuned it out, drowned it out, maybe it would go away again, for good this time. It wasn't even real and Draco wasn't sixteen anymore. And if he couldn't bring himself to think about Blaise, he certainly wasn't going to have an esoteric argument with himself about things he'd done in his wayward youth. He needed something else to count. His gaze roved about the room until he saw a stack of parchment propped against the wall next to one of the unused beds. Reading was even better than counting. He just hoped it wasn't magical law.
Disbelief mingled with raw panic when Draco read the heading across the top page of the sheaf he was holding.
Routine surveillance record: Draco Malfoy/male/England.
Beneath the German, the same words were helpfully handwritten in English. The first page held personal information -- height, weight, hair colour, eye colour, wand details, current address, standing with the local Gringotts branch. On the next page was a grid -- a calendar-grid for the month of June. The page after that, July. German everywhere except for the calendar pages -- there, the places he went to were written out in careful English, nouns capitalised the German way. Draco's knuckles tightened as he stared at his life, reduced to quill-scratches on clean parchment.
He set the surveillance record aside and picked up the next item in the pile -- another sheaf of parchment, virtually identical to Draco's, but with Theodore Nott's name across the top. He expected the next one to be about Blaise, but it was Potter's search warrant from two weeks ago, decorated with a coffee-stain near the top left corner. Draco sorted parchment from one pile into the other -- more warrants, this time for surveillance on foreign soil. Letters of authorisation. A half-written note to someone named Biggs.
At the very bottom of the original pile lay a glossy Muggle porn magazine. Not just any porn, either: two nude boys with all-American faces grinned from the cover, the words FRAT BOY BONANZA cunningly obscuring their most pertinent body parts. Draco didn't need to open the magazine to see that it was well-thumbed. The pages stood slightly apart from each other, with uneven creases here and there.
For the record, I think you're disgusting.
Suddenly, it seemed so simple: Potter had gone round the bend after the prank Draco had pulled on him. Hadn't he blustered about the trouble Draco was in? Hadn't Draco waited, day after day, for the Hit Wizards to show up and give him what-for? They had not come. They hadn't, because Potter had never told them to. Potter had bought this shitty magazine and brooded over it instead, and then used his Auror connections to spy on Draco. He had watched Blaise fuck Draco and he had wanted to do a little fucking of his own.
Potter had approached Draco in the club, intent from the first to lure Draco back to his flat, and Draco had fallen for it -- why wouldn't he have? He'd always enjoyed corrupting the so-called straight men. Except for Blaise, all of Draco's partners were straight, because it was fun to watch them try and reconcile their old-boy posturing with having their cocks shoved in just as deep as Draco would let them -- and loving it. Potter must have learned that, too, somehow, Draco was sure. He hadn't counted on Blaise being there -- even Draco hadn't known Blaise would accompany him until late that evening -- but Draco was sure it was Potter who had set the Garrotting Gas trap. He was an Auror, after all; they knew magic not taught at Hogwarts. Nothing stopped him from a surreptitious wand-wave as they'd made their way upstairs.
Rage clouded everything in his mind, even the raw grief Draco had, until this moment, fought. He didn't need to, anymore: Blaise deserved revenge, not grief. He had been murdered, and Draco knew exactly who had murdered him. Potter was probably in Draco's flat now, getting rid of the body and planting false evidence.
That didn't fit. Potter couldn't have known that Draco would do that. What more, Potter had begun to follow Blaise in. Why would he have done that if he had been the one to set the trap? Draco hunted through the new pile he'd made and found Theodore's surveillance record. What on earth did Potter want from Theodore?
The doorknob rattled, and Draco sprang to his feet, drawing his wand. His whole body was tight with the sincerest confusion -- he'd been so caught up in spinning his wild tale of stalking and obsession that he'd forgotten how much he wanted to get out of here, to regain some measure of control.
"Expelliarmus!" he shouted as Potter walked through the door. Then he ran, faster than he ever had in his life, to get out of his hell-hole and Disapparate before Potter had a chance to retrieve his wand. The sweet summer air rushed into his lungs, and Draco had never tasted better air, not even in Wiltshire -- it was freedom. He hadn't realised how trapped he had felt until this glorious moment.
He ran chest-first into an invisible wall, which moulded itself to his shape and rebounded, sending him flying several feet into the air and then sprawling on the floor. His wand clattered away like a child's toy. The door slammed shut. Trapped again, caught. How? How was this possible?
"Get up," said Potter.
Draco ignored him. The floor was cold, and his body ached where he'd hit. Maybe if he pretended he was seriously hurt, Potter would take him out of here, take him someplace Draco could escape.
Potter moved closer and now loomed over Draco, his face blank. He was crazy. There was some explanation for Theodore and for after you, but Draco was sure he'd been right.
"What the fuck did you think you were doing?" Potter demanded, and crouched down next to Draco. "You could have been seen!"
That didn't make any sense, and Draco spoke, somewhat unwillingly. "What are you talking about?"
Potter opened his mouth, but seemed to think better of it. "Nothing," he said. "Get up."
"Why?" sneered Draco. "Isn't this where you want me? On my back?"
Potter blinked, and his eyes darted to the pile of parchment Draco had been examining. Draco didn't need to look: he knew what Potter would see. The magazine with its FRAT BOY BONANZA lay right where Draco had dropped it when he'd heard the door. Amazingly, a flush crept into Potter's pale cheeks.
"I don't remember saying you could go through my papers," he muttered.
"But I did," said Draco. His head began to throb. "I saw your little stalker calendar, Potter. I know what you're up to."
"Stalker--" Potter began with a look of utter confusion, and then shook his head as though warding off a bad memory. "Malfoy, I know you've just been through a shock, but what the everloving fuck is wrong with you? I'm an Auror. Surveillance is part of my job."
Draco began to interject, but Potter talked right over him. "Let me guess, you think I killed Zabini so I could have my wicked way with you, kill you, and then dump your body somewhere in Albania?" He must have seen the look of dismay on Draco's face, because he laughed and dug his fingers into his messy black hair, tried to run them through, then gave it up as a bad job. "Lay off the comic books, Malfoy. And get up. I didn't bring you here to wipe the floor with you."
Cautiously, Draco sat up, so surprised by Potter's nonchalance that he forgot all about pretending to be deathly injured. . His head ached in earnest now, and he had to focus all his attention on Potter to keep the image of the green claws round Blaise's neck away from his mind. He would not yield to grief, not here. Not in front of Potter.
"Why did you bring me here?" he asked.
"I told you," said Potter, picking up his wand. "It's the safest place for you right now. No one can come in or out without an Auror present. I hope they won't even know you're here." He took a Foe Glass out of his pocket. "I don't think you were seen."
"They?" Even if Potter wasn't a stalker, he was still a nutter, Draco decided. Pressing the heel of his palm against his throbbing left temple, he got to his feet, not wanting to let Potter talk down to him like this.
Potter stared at him for a moment and pocketed the Foe Glass again. His jaw worked, his forehead creased, and Draco realised that he was witnessing a feat of which the bards would sing to the ages: Potter was thinking.
"Sit down," said Potter, indicating the bed he'd led Draco to earlier.
Draco didn't move.
Potter leaned down, picked up Draco's wand, and handed it to him. "Sit down, Malfoy."
Draco understood that Potter would not say another word until he obeyed, and sometimes you had to give a little to get a lot. He sat down, but not on the bed Potter had indicated. "There. Happy now?"
"The Death Eaters are back," said Potter.
Draco gaped at him. "Excuse me?"
"They're back," Potter repeated, fixing Draco with a level gaze that was at the same time unnerving and awe-inspiring. "Only this time, they're better organised and a hell of a lot smarter."
The pain in Draco's head exploded behind his eyes, and he looked down at his hands, folded in his lap. His vision swam. Voices from the past bubbled to the surface of his mind in jeering laughter.
Will you babysit the cubs?
"The Dark Lord--" Draco began, but Potter cut him off.
"No, not him. He's gone. They've got a new leader, though we don't know who it is. What happened to Zabini and your father tonight was Death Eater work."
"My father?" Draco asked, agape. "My father?"
A shadow crossed Potter's face. "He's alive," he said quickly. "He's at St Mungo's with total memory loss. Your mother, too." He paused. "I'm sorry."
Draco looked back down into his lap and told himself to wake up. This was a nightmare -- it had to be. First Blaise, then his parents? The people dearest to him, gone or badly hurt: that was the stuff of his worst nightmares and it could never ever really happen. Not to him.
"Whoever set the Garrotting Gas trap was after you." Potter's voice seemed to come from a great distance; Draco would be waking up at any moment now. "You know something about what they stole, and they didn't want you telling anyone. We're going to make them think they succeeded. Tomorrow, the Daily Prophet and the Kurier will announce your tragic death."