May 2016


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Fic: His Father's Keeper - part 1 - Harry/Draco, Lucius/Draco implied, PG13

Title: His Father’s Keeper
Author: [info]elfflame
Prompt: #3 (inspired by: The King Who Wished to Marry His Daughter and Catskin).
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, Lucius/Draco
Summary: When the Malfoys withdraw from society after the war, Harry wants to find out why.
Rating: PG13 for implications
Disclaimer: This story not intended to infringe, no money is being made. The characters and places do not belong to me. I’m just borrowing them for a bit.
Warning(s): Implication of murder and incest
Word Count: 11,538
Author's Notes: Apparently I am incapable of small stories right now. Thank you to Ceria and K for all their help in hand-holding and Betaing. I hope everyone will enjoy!  My contribution to the Bottom!Draco Fairy Tale fest, now that the reveals have been posted.

With the end of the war, the Wizarding World celebrated its end, mourned their losses, and punished those deemed responsible for those losses. The Malfoys and their fellow Death Eaters were all tried for their crimes, and most were found guilty and returned to Azkaban to live out the remainders of their very long lives.

Draco’s sentence was reduced to community service helping rebuild Hogwarts and Diagon Alley due to the fact that his major crimes had been committed when he was still underage. Narcissa, who had never committed any true crimes, was released on her own recognizance, and began the long process of refurbishing their Manor from what their former Lord and his followers had done.

Lucius’s punishment, long debated, was determined to be house arrest. Voldemort had already punished him more than the Wizarding world could, after all. By destroying his wand, he had reduced his ability to control his magic, and in essence made him a squib. All wand sellers were forbidden to sell the Malfoys a wand for him, and he was sent home to the Manor.

Between Lucius’s punishment and the fines placed on the family, the Malfoys were left struggling financially, and withdrew from Society. After Draco’s community service had ended, few in the community saw any of them again.

At least, not until the day Draco apparated to St Mungos with Narcissa in his arms. He told the healers as well as the Aurors who had later been called to investigate that she had fallen down the main staircase of the Manor. By the time healers got to her, there was nothing they could do for her.

A small funeral was held, and the Prophet reported how Lucius seemed barely able to stand without his son’s help. Some speculated that it was not grief, but the loss of magic that made him so weak. Others suspected that it was just a façade, and that he had personally been the one to cause her injuries, and should be thrown into Azkaban where he had belonged all along.

Once again, the Malfoys disappeared from the public eye, and this time, no one seemed to have any sighting of them. They became one of those urban legends—Malfoy sightings appeared in both the Quibbler and the Prophet. Lucius had been seen wearing his Death Eater robes torturing children and family pets. Draco had been seen on the grounds of Hogwarts, talking to Dumbledore’s tomb. Narcissa’s ghost had appeared in the Wizengamot’s chambers. None of them were ever officially proven or disproved. But that didn’t stop the two periodicals from printing the stories.

* * *

Harry was obsessed. Every time a new article about the Malfoys appeared, he read it ten times over before tucking the clipped article into a file that he’d been keeping on them since they had first disappeared. He’d told Ron and Hermione that he was just trying to make sure that the Malfoys weren’t just trying to lull the Wizarding world into a false sense of security before rising once more, powerful again.

His friends had glanced at each other at the explanation. Ron had shaken his head, and Hermione had sighed in that way that annoyed Harry so much. Why couldn’t they understand? The Malfoys were dangerous! He needed to make sure that they didn’t become the center of the next dark rising!

Still, they didn’t try to convince him to stop. Not like Ginny. They had constant fights about Malfoy. “Why do you care, Harry? He’s been punished! This is ridiculous!” Finally, he’d stopped talking to her about it. But he didn’t stop collecting the articles.

He never let it interfere with his work, though. On the few occasions they captured a stray Death Eater who had escaped the first round-up after the final battle, he might add a question here or there about the Malfoys—officially to see what role the Death Eater in custody had played in the final days of the war, but also to find out if they had been up to anything new since, and to sound out if perhaps, just perhaps, the Malfoys had resumed the role of leader for them. Unfortunately, he learned little he hadn’t already known before.

It was frustrating, and Harry was getting nowhere. So when Rabastan Lestrange was captured, Harry grabbed at the chance. Again, he got nothing truly new from the man in regards to the Malfoys, but the fact that Lestrange was vaguely connected to the Malfoys meant that he could use it as an excuse to ask the Minister for permission to take a look in at the doings at Malfoy Manor.

Kingsley was nonplussed. “I don’t understand, Harry. You think they’re hiding Death Eaters from prosecution?”

“It’s possible, sir. Don’t you think it’s at least worth a look? After all, Rabastan’s brother is still out there somewhere, and he was married to Draco’s aunt Bellatrix…”

“The Aurors did a thorough search of the grounds after the War, Harry. What makes you think you’ll be able to find something they can’t?”

“I don’t know, sir. But…I have to try.”

Kingsley watched him for a long time before responding. “Are you certain you are the right person to look into this, Harry? Everyone knows how much you dislike the Malfoys. They could accuse you of a grudge.”

“And all I would have to do is remind them that I stood in Narcissa’s defense at her hearing.”

“Some might suggest that now that she is dead, you are allowing your hatred of them to resurface, Harry.”

Harry heard the rebuke in the Minister’s tone. “I have to do this, sir. Just to know for certain. If they were out in public more often, I would be able to let this go, but the fact that no one ever sees them? It only shows that there is something to hide. We need to find out what. I swear, I won’t make any move without checking with you or the head of the MLE first. All right?”

After a moment, Kingsley nodded. “Very well. But I want you to be careful, Harry. This is a dangerous line you’re treading. I’ve seen Aurors with vendettas before. They rarely end well.”

“I promise I’ll be careful, sir,” Harry said, relieved that he was at least being given this chance. He promised himself he wasn’t going to waste it by messing it up.

Now he just had to find out what Malfoy was up to.

He Apparated out to the Manor’s grounds the next morning. What he found shocked him. The grounds looked like they hadn’t been tended since the end of the war. The gardens were overgrown, the more exotic flora being strangled by weeds, and grass was encroaching on the pathway he walked up to reach the front door.

The steps looked like they had not been swept since Narcissa’s death, and the paint on the door seemed faded and dull. What had happened? Why weren’t the house elves taking care of the Manor any longer? Harry knew the Malfoys had at least a half-dozen of the creatures. Hermione was constantly going on about it, after all. What could possibly make them neglect their duties this way? Perhaps something had happened to Draco and his father?

Harry knocked loudly, trying to see inside, but the few windows looking into the hall were so grimy that he could not make out anything inside.

Scowling, Harry knocked again. He’d been right to be concerned. There was something very wrong going on here and he needed to find out what. When there was no response to his second knock, Harry made his way back down the steps and along the side of the house. Perhaps there was a door that he could get open elsewhere?

* * *

No one had bothered trying to visit in months. The family’s friends all knew that there would be no answer if they tried. That meant whoever had knocked was someone they did not normally associate with. The question was, was it family trying to reconnect after some time, an old friend or ‘colleague?’ Or worse, was it an Auror?

None of the options were good ones. Draco couldn’t let any of them in. If they discovered… It was unfathomable. He would have to find a way to chase them away.

Luckily, Lucius was dosed, so he wouldn’t have heard, but Draco had to get them out of here, whoever they were, and before Lucius woke. He moved to a window that overlooked the front of the house, but there was no one there. Perhaps whoever it was had left? Still, Draco had to be sure. He moved to a side window, and was horrified by who he saw moving towards the back of the house. Potter.

If there had ever been a worse time for Potter to appear, Draco couldn’t imagine it. He had to get rid of him. Now.

For a moment, Draco was lost for ideas how to do it. Until he saw him pass by the old well at the side of the house. It had one of the more ancient garden spells on it, and actually granted wishes. Simple ones to be sure, but it still worked, even after all these centuries. Just like the protective wards of the house. They had been built up, one generation after the next, but the older spells were still accessible, if one knew what they were.

One of the oldest of the wards was a basic ‘unwanted visitor’ spell. All Draco had to do was activate it. He closed his eyes, focusing on the protection of the house, and how dangerous Potter was. The ward did the rest. Before Potter knew it, he was standing back at the front gate.

Draco peeked out a window facing the gate to be certain it had worked, and smirked when he saw Potter’s astonishment. He waited for Potter to apparate away before he relaxed, though. He only hoped Potter wouldn’t decide to come back. He wasn’t sure how many times that spell would work on someone.

He was thinking of finding the documentation on the ward when one of the house-elves appeared. “Master Lucius has awoken, Master Draco, sir.”

Draco sighed, then nodded. “Tell him I will be there shortly.” Time to go prepare himself once more.

* * *

Back at the Ministry, Harry was trying to figure out what kind of ward had banished him from the Manor. Had he triggered something dormant, or had someone activated it themselves? And if there had been someone there, why hadn’t they answered the door?

He puzzled at the question for a few minutes, but then Ron came in with information about a case, and he was distracted once more.

It was only when he reached the end of the day that he realized he’d never figured it out. He asked his assistant to have the library send up any information on the Malfoy Manor wards, then went home for the day. He was supposed to be meeting Ginny for a night on the town, and didn’t want to be late.

Unfortunately, when he got home, he found an owl waiting with a message from her that she wouldn’t be able to make it tonight. Sighing, Harry headed back out for some take-away, then sat in front of the telly and tried not to think for a few hours. Unfortunately, the ruin that Malfoy Manor had become kept popping up in his mind. It bothered him. Whatever else, he knew Malfoy was proud of his home. Why would he let it get so run down? It didn’t make sense.

He made another visit the next morning but the wards pushed him away before he could even get to the front door this time. He Apparated to the Ministry, and began to peruse the notes his assistant had found on the wards. They were almost no help. It was infuriating. There had be a way to get past them, didn’t there?

Because if there wasn’t, this little mystery was likely to drive Harry spare.

* * *

Draco had put off the trip to Knockturn Alley as long as he could, hoping that his father might improve, but now, there was nothing for it. He’d run out of the last of the ingredients for the potions, and there was only one set of them left.

He would just have to be careful. If Potter was sniffing around, it was likely only a short time before he found a way past the wards. Draco had to be back as quick as he could. He had to keep Potter out. If Potter found out, it would destroy everything.

Dressing carefully, Draco pulled a robe on over everything, then prepared a dose for his father, and gave it to the elves, with instructions not to let him leave his own rooms except in dire need. The elves bowed low, then scurried from the room, and Draco pulled on his winter cloak. Hopefully he would be back before his father woke. Right now, it was the best he could hope for.

It was almost noon, and Knockturn Alley was nearly deserted at this time of day. Bright light shining on dark deeds never worked out well. Still, the shops were open, and there were a few people and creatures tucked away in corners selling things—or experiences, if that was what one was after.

Draco swept past all of them, heading directly for the apothecary just past Borgin and Burkes. They carried some of the less legal substances that Draco needed for his potions. And they were also well out of sight of the happy shoppers in Diagon Alley. He didn’t want to accidentally stumble across someone who knew him, after all.

The apothecary knew Draco well now, and had most of the ingredients easily at hand. He was quick to have his assistant prepare the rest while Draco paid for the lot, and Draco was able to make it back out to the street within twenty minutes.

Unfortunately for him, it was at the very same moment that Potter passed through the area.

The two men stared at each other for a moment before Draco gathered himself enough to Apparate away, but even had it been only a second, it would have been too long. Draco knew that now Potter would never give up.

* * *

Whatever Harry had been expecting when he’d gone to investigate Knockturn Alley that afternoon, it hadn’t been to see Draco Malfoy breaking his solitude from the Wizarding World by visiting the apothecary.

He’d gone inside to demand what Malfoy had been there to buy, but the proprietor had refused to tell him. And since Harry had no proof of wrong-doing, he had to leave with no answers but those he already had—like the fact that Draco had changed dramatically since the last time Harry had seen him. His hair was much longer. Not quite as long as Harry remembered Lucius’s hair being, but it was long enough to be pulled into a tail at the back of Draco’s head. And there had been dark circles under his eyes, too. In a way that reminded Harry of sixth year. Only then had Harry seen his old foe out of sorts and so worn. Had things really gone that bad for the Malfoys?

Perhaps he should talk to some of Malfoy’s remaining friends and see what they had to say?

The problem was getting them to talk to him. One door after the next was slammed in his face. It was infuriating. But he couldn’t just summon them to the Ministry. This still wasn’t a formal investigation, after all. Which meant waiting until he was able to “accidentally” run into any of them.

It took several late nights at the Leaky Cauldron before he managed to run into Goyle Jr there. His community service had been served alongside Malfoy’s, and Minerva had been pleased enough to give him long-term work helping keep the castle in repair even after. Or so she’d told the Wizengamot at his formal release from punishment. He’d been quiet enough in school, if menacing, but these days, he barely spoke at all. The loss of Crabbe, who had always been at his side as long as Harry had known him, had seemed to drain most of his spirit.

It took three drinks sent Goyle’s way before the other man came to find out what Harry wanted.

“Ain’t talking against Malfoy, Potter,” he grunted.

“I wouldn’t ask you to.” If someone had tried to get something on one of the Weasleys, he’d have said the same. “I just need to know what’s happened to him. Something’s wrong. Isn’t it?”

Goyle blinked at him for a few minutes, sipping at the ale Harry’d bought him, and Harry was about to take this as a lost cause when he finally spoke again. “Malfoy’s been having a hard time. His mum was always the strong one. Now that she’s gone…” He shrugged, then began to sip at his ale again.

“Have you been over there since she died?” Harry asked him.

Goyle shook his head. “Not since just after the end of the war.”

Harry frowned, but nodded and stood. “Thank you.”

“Potter.” Goyle caught his hand. “He’s a secretive one. Has been since sixth year. Help him?”

Harry was a bit humbled by the request, but in his mind’s eye, he could see Draco refusing to leave his friend to the mercy of the Fiendfyre. “I’ll do my best, Goyle.”

The half-smile was the most friendly expression Harry’d ever seen on the other man’s face. “Thanks.” Then he went back to nursing his ale as though Harry weren’t even there.

Apparently, Goyle spread the word that Harry wasn’t out to get Malfoy, but to help him, for the next day, he arrived at his office to find Pansy there waiting for him. “Um…hi. Can I…help you?”

She huffed. “You’re the one who knocked on my door, Potter. Greg said you were asking about Draco?”

Harry nodded. “I just needed to find out a few things.”

“Like what he’s up to? I seem to recall him talking about your snooping sixth year…”

“Oh?” Harry winced internally. It wasn’t the same, he told himself. He moved to his desk, pulling out a sheet of parchment. “So…do you know what he’s been up to?”

Obviously the response was too eager. Pansy’s eyes glittered as she considered him. “No,” she finally said.

Harry huffed then turned away. “Why did you come, then, if you can’t help me?”

Pansy laughed, though there was no humor in the sound. “Because someone needs to help him, Potter. Whatever has happened? This is as out of character for him as sixth year was. You knew it then, and you know it now. And if you can help him…”

Harry turned to meet her eyes. He’d started this with the suspicion that Malfoy was doing something wrong, but after this reaction from Pansy, and a similar one from Goyle…he knew he’d do whatever he could to help Malfoy. If Malfoy would just let him. “I’ll do my best. When was the last time you saw him?”

“My cousin’s wedding. The month before his mother died. The person you should talk to is Blaise. He saw him that week. If anyone knows…it’s him.” He could see the worry in her eyes.

“Zabini?” Harry hadn’t realized the two were that close.

She nodded. “After the war…they got closer. Spent a lot of time together before his mother died.”

“Thank you. I’ll go talk to him, then.”

Pansy smiled, then nodded. “And…if I think of anything…I’ll let you know. But if you hurt him…”

“I promise you, I will do everything in my power to help him, Pansy.”

She blinked at the familiarity, then nodded slowly. “Thank you.”

After Pansy left that day, Harry wrote a letter to Blaise requesting a conversation with him, then gave it to his assistant to send off. The response came halfway through the day. Blaise asked what Harry wanted to talk with him about. Harry owled back that he needed to ask him a few questions about Draco.

This time, the response was almost immediate: “Buzz off.”

Knowing further letters were going to get him nowhere fast, Harry looked up Blaise’s address, then took an early day. He stopped by the building where Blaise’s flat was, but he didn’t go in. That could wait. Let Blaise calm a bit. Hopefully seeing him in person would help. Maybe then he’d realize he actually wanted to help Draco. And if not, at least Harry would have a visible reaction to work from. It was the best he could hope for.

Ginny owled a note that night that she was off to bed early due to practice for her team’s match that weekend, and that they could meet after the match Saturday. She enclosed a ticket with the note, a clear invitation for Harry to come to see the match. While it was nice to get a ticket, the note meant that Harry had nothing to do but have another night in. After supper and determining that there was nothing on the telly, Harry decided to make an early night of it himself.

The next morning, Harry woke with the sun and took his time getting ready before going to visit Blaise. Somehow, he doubted the man was an early riser, but maybe it would mean that the cutting edge of his temper would be dulled?

When he knocked on Blaise’s door, he had to wait for quite some time before there was an answer from the other side. “Who is it? Do you bloody well know what time it is?”

“Harry Potter. It’s seven thirty.” He glanced down at his watch to verify. “Actually, closer to a quarter to eight.”

“It’s not even eight?” Blaise yanked open the door, his normally deep golden-brown skin looking rather grey in the fluorescence of the hall light, his hair a mass of sleep-rumpled curls. “Are you bloody insane, Potter? What the hell could you possibly want at the crack of dawn?”

Harry rolled his eyes at him. “It’s hardly the crack of dawn, Zabini. That would be five o’clock. Or six.”

“If you visited to debate timing with me, you chose the wrong person, Potter,” Blaise snarled.

“I didn’t. Malfoy. I know you don’t want to talk against him…”

“I don’t.” He started to close the door, but Harry caught it.

“Just hear me out, Zabini? Please?”

Blaise glowered at him, then sighed, opening the door wider. “Fine. But I won’t do anything to get him arrested, so if that’s what you want, you can just leave.”

“I don’t.” It might have started that way, but now Harry just wanted to find out what had happened. In some ways, he felt almost responsible for Draco’s fate, given that his mother had basically saved his life. He stepped into Blaise’s flat, looking around at a rather sparsely-furnished, open floor-plan, then turned back to Blaise, who closed the door, then tugged his robe tighter closed.

“Fine. But if we’re going to do this, I’ll need coffee.” He turned away from Harry and led the way to the kitchen area. Harry watched as he set a pot to brew, then ran his fingers through mussed hair before turning back to glower at him. “Can’t even leave him alone now that he’s no longer a Death Eater? Obsessed much, Potter? The two of you…I swear…”

Harry frowned, trying to ignore the ‘obsessed’ comment. “And what is that supposed to mean, Zabini?”

“It means that he spent the first five years at Hogwarts being obsessed with you, then you spent the next year chasing him around Hogwarts, and you are apparently still obsessed with him even now. Well, maybe he doesn’t need you, Potter.” Blaise’s eyes narrowed.

Harry blinked at him. What on earth did that mean? “Well, someone has to help him. Something is wrong. I’m just trying to find out what.”

“If he wanted help, he’d have asked for it.”

“Asked who? From what Goyle and Parkinson have told me, he’s shut everyone out of his life. Unless…have you seen him lately?”

Blaise’s eyes shuttered. “Define lately.” The coffee pot signaled it was done, and he turned away before Harry could answer to pour himself a cup then take a gulp that made Harry wince. It had to be burning hot. But either it wasn’t, or Blaise didn’t notice or care. He only sagged back against the counter, his eyes closed. “Mmm…better.” His eyes opened and he looked at Harry. “I haven’t seen him since his mother’s funeral.”

“When was the last time you saw him?”

Blaise looked away, then sighed. “The night she died.”

Harry frowned at him. “You were there that night?”

Blaise swallowed, then nodded. “Believe me, I wish I could forget,” he said softly.

Harry could understand that. If Molly had died on a night he’d been visiting the Burrow with Ron…he doubted he’d ever get over it. “I’m sure it was hard on Draco,” Harry said softly.

“You have no idea,” Blaise said, meeting his eyes again. “I know he blames himself. I think…” Blaise shook his head, then finished off his cup, pouring a second.

“He couldn’t have known she was going to fall, though…”

Stilling with his cup mid-way to his mouth, Blaise looked at him, then put it back down. “She didn’t just fall, Potter… Didn’t you know that?”

“What? What do you mean? She fell down the stairs. I thought she’d tripped. Are you saying that’s not what happened?”

Blaise was silent for a moment, and Harry could almost see the wheels turning in his mind, examining every angle before answering. “She was pushed.”

“What? Why? That wasn’t in the report! I know that it was investigated. How…”

“Draco didn’t want them knowing. He couldn’t bear it. Losing…” Blaise took a deep breath, then looked away, as though not meeting Harry’s eyes would make him less culpable for telling him. “He didn’t want to lose them both.”

Harry blinked at him. “Lucius…?”

Blaise nodded.

“How could he defend…?”

Blaise met his eyes now, and glared. “You wouldn’t understand, Potter. He has always been so close to both of them. To have lost them both in one night…it would have destroyed him. Don’t you see?”

“But…if Lucius killed her…”

“I don’t think he meant to.” Blaise turned away again, setting his cup in the sink. “He was…not himself that night. That’s why Draco blames himself. That he hadn’t watched him closer.”

“But if he’d told someone…”

Blaise turned, glowering darkly at him. “Lucius Malfoy is a convicted Death Eater. What would you have done then? If you’d heard that he’d been responsible?”

Harry didn’t want to admit that Blaise was right, but he was. “Fine. So…you think he’s…keeping him from hurting anyone else, then?”

Blaise sighed. “I don’t know. He won’t even answer my owls any more. What will you do?”

“I’m not sure,” Harry said. “But I have to try something, don’t I?”

“I don’t know. But…thank you. For wanting to.”

Harry nodded, turning to leave.


Harry turned back to meet Blaise’s worried gaze.

“Thank you for trying.”

Harry sent him a sad smile, nodded, then left.

It was so much information—too much, really. And now, Harry wasn’t sure what to do. So he went to the only person he knew could actually help him think it out—Hermione.

The problem was, he didn’t want to spill Draco’s secret. Which meant he wasn’t sure how to tell her. So he kept the story abstract, leaving out the names involved, and hoped she wouldn’t ask too many questions. Luckily, she seemed to understand it was an investigation, and was content with talking out the bits he had told her.

“So you’re worried he might be in danger, then?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe?”

“But he won’t talk to you?”

“No. Every time I’ve gone over there, no one has answered the door.”

Hermione nodded. “So…what you need to do is let them know you won’t leave until you do talk to them.”

“But the wards—they keep pushing me outside the boundary of the property.”

Hermione looked surprised. “How old is the property? That seems a very strong ward… Most wards of that sort are fairly old. And require direct activation, or true malice on the part of the visitor…”

“That’s what I thought. Is there any way through something like that?”

“Well…it depends how strong they are, really. But it’s mostly about intent. If you concentrate on trying to help him, it should ignore any request from the occupant to push you away.”

“You think?”

Hermione nodded. “Depending on how old it is, of course…”

Malfoy Manor was at least three generations old, but likely a good deal more, if Harry knew the Malfoys. “And if it’s more than a century or more?”

“Well…then it would depend on how well it had been kept up in recent generations.”

“Would it be worse, or better?”

“Depends on the family, I suppose.”

Harry nodded. “I guess I’ll have to be careful, then.”

“Harry…promise me that you’re not doing something foolish?”

Harry laughed, then patted her hand. “And when am I not doing that, Hermione?”

She gave him a pained smile. “Just…be careful, okay?”

Harry nodded. “I will, Hermione. I promise.”

The problem with all this was that his friends knew that even if he meant what he said, he simply couldn’t help himself when it came to his impulses. He sent an owl to Ginny saying that he wouldn’t be free that night, and stopped at the Manor on the way home.

This time when he knocked, he made sure to focus on helping Draco, and his concern about what might be happening to the other man. When the wards didn’t push him away after more than a minute, he relaxed and knocked again. “Let me in, Malfoy! I’m not leaving until you talk to me!”

* * *

Draco hadn’t wanted to answer, but when the wards no longer seemed able to get rid of Potter, there was no other way for him to deal with this before Lucius woke and went to deal with Potter himself.

“Surely you understand that when someone doesn’t answer, they want you to leave them alone, Potter?” Draco asked once he’d opened the door.

“This isn’t something I’m willing to just let pass by, Malfoy. Something’s wrong. Let me help you.”

The words made no sense. Harry Potter, helping Draco Malfoy? Since when was that a possibility? “Mind your own business, Potter. I can deal with my own problems.”

“Can you? Is that why you’re locked up here in a crumbling manor with your father?”

Draco felt his cheeks heat. “I didn’t ask your opinion, Potter! Now butt out!” Draco tried to close the door, but Potter caught it.

“I don’t think so, Malfoy. And I’m not the only one. All your friends asked me to help you!”

Draco didn’t let his astonishment at that show. “They wouldn’t! They would never go to you!”

“Maybe not, but every one of them I talked to hoped that I could help you. Now, are you going to let me, or am I going to have to force my way inside?”

And that was all it took to get the wards to work once more. Draco raised his chin. “Leave. And don’t bother coming back.” The wards pulsed around Potter, and he vanished from the doorway. Draco glanced down the drive to see where he reappeared, then satisfied that Potter wouldn’t try to storm the Manor again, he slammed the door hard, wishing he could have done so right in Potter’s face.

* * *

Harry knew he’d made a mistake as soon as the words had left his mouth. Luckily he’d had a few spells ready, just in case. He was only able to cast the first before the wards pushed him off the grounds, but Draco still had the door opened when he appeared outside the gates, so he quickly cast the other towards him, hoping it would work. Standard tracking and surveillance charms, but they might still answer a few questions.

And there were more clues to add to what Harry had already gathered. In Knockturn Alley, Draco’d been wearing a long dark robe, and had his hair slicked and pulled back, so that it had looked fairly normal. But he’d obviously not had time to prepare today. His hair had been loose around his face, long and…waved? And the robe he’d been wearing…there had been something off about it. Not a formal robe. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He’d have to think more about it.

He apparated to the office, then set the final charm on a piece of parchment to take any possible notes from the tracking charms. All he could do now was wait and see what kinds of conversations Draco might have in the next few days. As soon as the spell was cast, words began to scrawl across the page, and Harry had to tamp down on his curiosity. There was too much else he needed to attend to. He would take it home with himself tonight and look then. He finally had to stuff it in a drawer to keep himself from reading it, then began to work on paperwork for other cases.

By the time Harry left the office for the day, he had almost forgotten. There was just the vague memory that there was something he had been meaning to take home with him, and it was only when he raised his wand to apparate home that he realized what it was. He pulled the parchment from the drawer, then tucked it in his pocket.

Ginny was waiting for him when he got home, and Harry was surprised how annoyed he was by the fact that that meant he wouldn’t be able to see what Draco had been up to during the day. “Ginny. What are you doing here?”

She snorted. “Glad to see you, too. I thought we had a date tonight.”


“Let me guess,” she said with a scowl. “You’ve made other plans?”

“Not exactly, Ginny. I just…”

“You just what, Harry? I haven’t seen you in a week! You would think you would be happy to see me!”

“I’ve been distracted, okay? And it’s hardly my fault I haven’t seen you! You’ve been practicing!”

“‘Distracted?’ You mean obsessed. Don’t tell me you’re still stalking Malfoy?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Oh, come off it, Ginny! What would you know? You haven’t been here.”

“That’s not a denial, Harry,” she said, her eyes narrowing.

“It so happens I am working on something involving Malfoy. But it’s a case, and not an ‘obsession,’ okay?”

“Right. And how did you end up assigned to the case may I ask?”


“No. It made no sense in school, and it makes no sense now, Harry. Why do you care what happens to that blood purist, anyway? He deserves anything that happens to him!”

Harry blinked. There had been a time when he and Ginny had agreed on everything. Or at least, he thought they had. But this… “Everyone deserves help, Ginny. If you can’t understand that…maybe I’ve made a mistake.”

“Good. So you’ll go back to your boss, then, and tell them someone else should take the case?”


She frowned. “No? But you said…”

“I said I made a mistake. Yours was assuming that I was agreeing with you that he didn’t deserve help.” He turned away from her and moved to the kitchen. “I think it would be best if you left, Ginny.”

“You…you’re choosing Malfoy over me?”

“I’m choosing my values, Ginny. If you can’t share them…” The words hurt to say, but he forced them out. “Then maybe we shouldn’t be together.”

There was a long silence behind him, and finally he turned to look at her. Her cheeks were flushed with anger, and her eyes wide. “You’re dumping me? You can’t dump me!”


“No! Do you know how long I waited? How hard I tried for you? You arse!”

“I never asked you to, Ginny. I do care for you, but if you can’t understand this…”

“No. Fuck you, Harry!” She shook out her hair, breathing hard. “Just don’t come crying to me when everything goes wrong.” And then she apparated away.

Harry moved to the couch, falling onto it with a groan, and burying his face in the cushions. This was not how he’d wanted to start his weekend. And what was he supposed to do with his tickets? He was fairly sure that if he showed at the stadium that he’d be tossed out on his ear. At least, if Ginny had anything to say about it, he would be…

And then there was Ron. How would he react? This could be a disaster. Ron didn’t have a great temper at the best of times. Harry could only imagine how he would react to the idea of Harry dumping his sister. Best friend or not, Ron would let him have it.

Still, the more he thought about it, the more he knew it had been the right choice. Things had been rocky for them for some time. Possibly since they’d gotten back together. Ginny’s expectations had been so high, no amount of magic would have helped Harry meet them. Unfortunately, that didn’t make him feel any better. Now he was miserable and alone, instead of miserable but at least in a relationship. He wasn’t sure the payoff of not being nagged was worth it.

He was only pulled out of his funk when his stomach rumbled, and decided to go down to the corner Indian place and get some take away. He didn’t think he could manage to concentrate on anything right now.

He didn’t remember the parchment until he came back with supper and was taking off his jacket and heard the crinkle. At the sound, everything else was forgotten. He pulled the parchment from his pocket and spread it out on the table. At first, there seemed little of interest. Draco grumbling about him, which made Harry smirk. Orders to elves, which made him wonder why the place was so run down if the Malfoys still had house elves. Something about potions for Lucius… A long stretch of nothing, and then…

What Harry read horrified him. At first, he wasn’t sure he was even reading it right. Draco went from calling Lucius father to calling him by name. And the things he was saying…he couldn’t possibly be doing what Harry thought…could he?

He’d expected dark dealings, or that Lucius was somehow hurting his son, but this…this went beyond immoral. It was enough to make Harry sick.

It sounded as though Lucius was using Draco—as his lover. The question was, why?

Harry spent a lot of time thinking that night. Draco needed more help than he’d expected. Either his father had somehow blackmailed him into this, or he was trying to shield his father somehow, or…well, there could be any number of reasons, really. He just had to find out what was really going on.

He went back to the Manor the next morning. This time, he didn’t need to focus on his concern before he was able to get past the wards. He shrugged through them as though they weren’t even there. He had to help Draco. Even if Draco insisted he didn’t need it.

This time, the door opened almost immediately. “I told you to leave, Potter.” Draco frowned when the words had no effect.

“I can’t. Not with what I know, Draco. Let me help you.”

“You don’t know anything, Potter!” Draco snarled. “Now get out!”

“I know more than you think.” He held out the parchment.

Draco looked at it with a sneer that faded to horror as he read, then he pulled back, looking up at Harry with wide eyes. “What did you do?” he asked, horrified.

“Surveillance spells. I had to know.”

“You didn’t! You didn’t have to know anything! This is…private!”

“I wanted to help you!”

“I didn’t ask for your fucking help, Potter!” Draco snarled, his face turning scarlet now, though from anger or embarrassment, Harry couldn’t say.

“Well, someone needs to help you! You’ve pushed away all your friends. You’re looked in a crumbling mansion trying to keep him there… Do you really think this is healthy?”

“I can help him! If people would just leave us be!”

“You’ve been alone with him, Draco! For months. When will it start to help?”