Title: Interregnum [Epilogue]
Pairing[s]: Harry/Draco and others.
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 2200 words
Summary: To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour. [William Blake]
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Interregnum - Epilogue
Aurora, Ontario, Canada. August 22, 2004, 16:08
The sun beat down upon the pavement amidst a humid haze Harry would never have associated with such a northern country. The suit he wore felt like ancient, rusted armour. The house he sought stood at the end of a long lane bristling with identical buildings. It wasn't much bigger than the others or indeed very different from them, but it had been built far enough from the street to require a long, twisty drive lined with young trees. The gravel upon the drive crunched beneath Harry's shoes as he walked closer. Somewhere behind him, a car roared away, sending a blast of second-hand rock music through the sleepy subdivision.
The house looked deserted from the front, but as he walked around it, marvelling at the absence of a fence, a lawnmower came into view. A man in a baseball cap sat astride it, scratching the back of his head as he made the engine sputter. Found you. Harry coughed.
Malfoy looked up and raised a hand in clearly automatic greeting, but the hand fell immediately. "You--?"
Harry walked towards him, his insides twisting more than they had any right to. "Hey."
Malfoy tugged the bill of his baseball cap down and sat back, folding his arms. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"That's what I'd like to know about you," said Harry. "You were hard to find."
"Completely intentional, and none of your business," Malfoy bit back, glowering. "Leave."
Harry, who had stopped a few feet away, didn't move. "Why are you on a lawnmower?"
Malfoy threw him a withering look. "Because I'm going to mow the lawn, obviously -- did you come all the way here to ask stupid questions?"
"Didn't you bring any house-elves with you?" Harry continued, undeterred. "I'm surprised."
Malfoy's look became pitying. He gestured at the street Harry had just left behind. "Would you like to explain my lawn-mowing gremlin to the Muggles who live there?"
So it was true. Malfoy had integrated and was living like thousands of other wizards in North America -- alongside Muggles, rather than apart from them. Harry hadn't believed it until this point; he was sure the place would be bristling with protective enchantments and behind a giant wall or several. "Impressive."
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "Oh, thanks, I'm ever so grateful that you came all the way here just to congratulate me on my common sense. Now leave. You're trespassing."
"I have a habit of doing that, don't I?" murmured Harry, thinking back to Berlin. Had it really been only a year? It felt like ten.
"Ron and Hermione are getting married next month. I need a date for the wedding. Will you come?"
Harry grinned. "Oh, come on. It'll be fun."
"This is ridiculous. You need to leave."
"I just got here. You're awfully rude."
"Good thing you can't arrest me for that," growled Malfoy.
"I can't arrest you for anything; I'm not an Auror anymore."
Malfoy looked up, eyes widening. "Shacklebolt didn't--?"
"No. No homosexuals allowed in the Auror Office."
Malfoy tsked. "You're not even a real homosexual."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You sleep with women."
Harry grinned again. "Didn't know you were following the Prophet's society pages."
Malfoy sighed. "Potter."
"This is pointless."
"Oh, all right. I'm just here to look around a bit. Going to visit Biggs in Colorado, too. I was thinking about moving. Maybe to Canada."
Malfoy made a face. "When did you decide that?"
"I've missed you."
The lawnmower roared to life, and Malfoy sprang to his feet. The engine died.
"Draco!" called a voice. Malfoy, his face flushed, climbed off the lawnmower. A woman ran out of the woods, her long, white-blond braid bouncing against her chest as she ran. "Lucius was teasing that squirrel again!" Harry realised she was dragging said Lucius along with her. Malfoy's dad looked sulky and resentful.
Narcissa skidded to a halt in front of Harry. "Oh. Hi."
"Mrs Malfoy," said Harry, bowing his head.
She giggled. "It's Cissy. I'm not an old lady." She turned to Malfoy. "Is he a bad man, Draco?"
Malfoy, who looked slightly less apoplectic, shook his head. "He's not too bad. Why don't you go back in the house? Tell Dusty to make you and Father some lemonade."
"I don't want any lemonade," declared Lucius. "I want watermelon."
"Watermelon, then. Go on."
"Okay." Narcissa turned on her heel and began hauling Lucius towards the house.
Harry stared after them, agape. "They're--"
"About eight years old," said Malfoy. "Give or take."
Harry looked at him. "Are they starting to remember--?"
Malfoy shook his head. "They never will. They'll reach their normal ages in another four years or so, but they'll never remember."
"Why not? Patrick Vaisey's regaining his memories--"
"Vaisey got hit by a different curse." Malfoy's eyes narrowed. "Bloody Millicent. She's the one who told you where I was, didn't she? Can't trust anyone these days."
It was true; as soon as he'd heard that Millicent had made a breakthrough -- from Neville, whose parents were now recovering similarly to Malfoy's -- Harry had gone to see her, knowing that Malfoy wouldn't pass up a chance like that.
"It's not her fault," said Harry, staring past Malfoy. "I wouldn't have stopped looking for you."
Malfoy shrugged. "Congratulations, then. You've found me."
This wasn't how it was supposed to happen. It wasn't what Harry had imagined. He'd thought it would be more like... Like those daydreams of yours. Ones where he's waited for you all this time. But there was nothing there. Just strained politeness, as though Malfoy was embarrassed for him.
And seeing Malfoy's parents like that, Harry realised that Malfoy probably hadn't even thought of him once since being exiled. It was only through Harry's intervention that Malfoy wasn't sent to Azkaban for failing to surrender the King of Kings through all those years, but Malfoy didn't know that; exile had been the official sentence.
"I... I'm sorry." Harry didn't feel quite real; it was as though someone else were speaking. He wanted to be anywhere but here. A place where Malfoy's troubled eyes and bland smile didn't exist. "Look, you're right. This was just... I just-- I'll go."
Malfoy's eyes flashed. "You just got here." He grabbed Harry's tie and pulled him in.
And even then it was nothing like the daydreams, in which Malfoy was always a bit cold and reluctant, in which it was always dark. Harry dug his fingers into Malfoy's hair as he kissed him, sending the baseball cap to the ground. The heat around them made Harry's head feel heavy, and the heat between them made his glasses fog up and his hands tremble.
Potter was less annoying whilst asleep. Well, no, that wasn't quite right. Everyone was less annoying whilst asleep; Draco supposed it was a fine thing that Potter was no exception. More importantly, was he really going to continue coming up with reasons to be repulsed by Potter? Potter shifted, revealing the pale expanse of his chest, gleaming softly with sweat. Tomorrow, the air conditioner repair man would come whilst Dusty hid Father and Mother in the woods. Living alongside Muggles certainly had its bad days.
Draco trailed a fingertip along Potter's bare shoulder. Potter had been sweating a lot more than this earlier, his chest and neck flushed so dark. Draco looked away. Potter had changed. No longer the scared little man Draco had first seduced, he was more like a good-natured large cat. Not unlike Blaise, actually, though Blaise had never once made Draco forget about all the others who had come before him. With Blaise, Draco had always been all too conscious that he was one of many. With Potter, he felt like the only one. Whether or not that was true remained to be seen.
Draco looked at the alarm clock, which had woken him minutes earlier. It had been a house-warming present from Sean and Jake. Instead of blaring loudly when it was time, it produced a miniature rubber mallet and thumped the sleeper until he was awake. Kitschy but useful when someone else slept in this bed.
"It's time," murmured Draco and pulled on a dressing gown. He tiptoed to the kitchen, where the owl already waited by the open window.
"Does Master care for a midnight snack?" asked Dusty, popping out of its cabinet above the stove.
"No," said Draco. "Go back to sleep." The cabinet door shut.
He pulled the box out from under the kitchen sink and handed it to the owl. "Take this to Albert at the Niagara way-station. He'll send it on." One last thing before he can put the past to rest. He watched the owl fly off and pretended not to notice that Potter stood in the kitchen doorway, though Draco could see his reflection in the closed half of the window. He wondered if Potter knew he could see him. He'd used a sheet to cover himself and his reflection looked like a child's drawing of a ghost.
"I couldn't sleep," murmured Draco finally, and noticed, with satisfaction, that Potter started. "Too much excitement for one day," he added with a smirk. Potter came up behind him, not touching, his mouth just hovering next to Draco's right ear. Draco didn't move. Who would break first?
Potter did. He flipped Draco around and pressed him up against the sink, opening his dressing gown and reaching around to cup his arse, his eyes still full of sleep, his mouth full of promise. Draco wasn't sure how long it lasted; all he knew was that Potter gave no sign of wanting to stop kissing him, and that felt better than it should have.
"Bed," breathed Draco. He didn't want to go anywhere, wanted to fuck right here, but Dusty was in its cabinet, and Dusty was a giant pervert.
"What were you doing, anyway?" asked Potter, trailing behind him.
Curiosity, Draco reminded himself. Harry Potter was not an Auror any longer. "Just returning something to an old friend."
Zurich, Switzerland. August 23, 2004, 15:30
They'd joined Eileen Prince for her shrewdness and worldwide connections, but she turned out to be just screeching fury out for revenge for her ne'er-do-well son's death, bent on destroying the established order in England as well as neutralising all the remaining Death Eaters. She had failed in the former but almost succeeded in the latter -- in March, the New York Aurors had caught both Lestranges and shipped them back to England. But she hadn't got them all.
Theodore Nott chuckled and put down Smith's latest report. Zacharias Smith had always been his plaything, not Prince's -- Theodore had merely lent him out. That was how Smith had managed to wash himself of all responsibility in the aftermath of Prince's death; he simply claimed to have been under the Imperius Curse, but now that the old hag was dead, he was free.
Shortly afterwards, Smith had obtained a rank-and-file job at the Ministry, claiming that he'd wanted to make reparations for the damage he'd caused. This enabled him to plant listening devices in the Minister's office. One of the things Theodore knew as a result was that Potter was going to America to train with their Special Division, so that he could come back and establish a Special Division in England, too. It was a secret held so tightly only Shacklebolt and Potter knew of it; not even Granger had been told. The British Special Division would be a completely secret force, and Potter would, to all eyes, remain a disgraced ex-Auror. Clever, but not clever enough.
For almost a year now, the Notts had been gathering information and planning their next move. They were both fugitives after last autumn's events, which made it more difficult to move around, but that was what people like Smith were for. Now that Potter was out of the way for the time being, and Granger was preoccupied with her impending nuptials, it was time to start moving.
He turned his attention to the package the owl had brought. Niagara Falls. "Father?" murmured Theodore. "Could it be that you've found the Black Hand--?"
But no, the box was too light to contain anything of substance. Shrugging, he opened it and extracted a bright red square of parchment -- a Howler.
"Really, Father," said Theodore, rolling his eyes. "Now what did I do?" He broke the seal.
"This is from Blaise, you piece of shit," said a cold voice.
The Howler exploded into writhing green smoke. A tendril wound itself round Theodore's neck and squeezed.