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Chapter 23: Familiar Faces
All Was Well
Silver blonde hair slicked characteristically back, a swagger in his step and a small sneer on his pointed face, Draco Malfoy was physically the spitting image of his father twenty years previous. But there was something different about this Malfoy and it seemed to emanate from his very skin the way his father had oozed a sense of superiority and pride; there was something altogether pedestrian about this Malfoy. Perhaps it was the hastiness with which he walked, the slightly hunched over way he held himself or the passiveness of his sneer, but there were no airs and graces about this man.
It took him a few strides before he recognised Harry awkwardly hovering at the golden lift doorway.
“Potter?” he enquired curiously as he approached. With a small, but not unfriendly smirk, he observed, “Smaller Potter?” on noticing James, now only a few feet away.
“Malfoy,” Harry greeted him soberly. After their many uneasy meetings in the recent past, Harry still had absolutely no idea on what grounds they now stood. “What are you doing here?”
“I work here.” Malfoy replied automatically. Harry was intrigued to find there was no hint of malice or superiority in Malfoy’s tone as he said this, just boredom.
“You’re an unspeakable?”
“Twelve years this November,” Malfoy replied with a small sigh.
“Twelve years? I haven't seen you once." remarked Harry.
"Yes, well," muttered Malfoy, looking rather uncomfortable. "I do my best to keep out of everyone's way." he added, catching Harry's eye in a pointedly dark manner.
"And before that?” Harry asked before he could stop himself. His curiosity got the better of him. “Where exactly did you disappear to?”
“Merlin, Potter, what’s with all the questions?” Malfoy retorted, only slightly defensively. “You haven’t become a reporter for the Daily Prophet, have you? No, I’m sure I’d have read all about that…” he added bitterly.
When Harry failed to reply, Malfoy surrendered, “Russia, St Petersburg to be exact. We have a house there. Father thought it prudent to… you know, keep out of everyone’s way – for a while.” He confessed, wincing as he did so as though making such a confession was putting him in great jeopardy.
He seemed to steel himself after making this admission, as though determined not to give away any more family secrets. “I should be asking the same of you,” he continued eventually, raising a sceptical eyebrow.
“What are you doing down here with Potter Junior?”
James looked up at them with interested, wide brown eyes.
“I was giving James a bit of a tour, though why he’s so interested in this place I’m not so sure.” Harry explained.
Malfoy met Harry’s eyes darkly. Of course, now they both knew of the sinister secrets of this mysterious place, though it signified danger and an uncertain time in their lives for entirely different reasons.
“I want to see the veil.” James piped up, with more courage than Harry could have ever mustered in the same situation at James’ age.
“The veil?” Harry cried, rounding on his son as he finally cottoned on. “Is that what this is all about?”
James stared guiltily down at his boots. “Well, I wanted to see for myself – after what you told me on Friday night…”
Friday night indeed; Teddy had come around for dinner and someone at some point had made mention of Harry being a godfather, which led to discussion of Sirius which ultimately led to a curious nine-year-old boy asking his father how Sirius Black had died.
Harry did not like to reminisce about such things at all. He didn’t go in for harping on about the War, about his supposed great adventures and escapades – for the simple reason that majority of said adventures led to the death or demise of a loved one. To add to that, Harry considered nine years old very young; far too young to have one’s head filled with thoughts of Death Eaters and passageways to the afterlife. Ginny, on the other hand thought James could handle it. He was looking forward to informing her how right he’d been.
“The Veil, eh?” Malfoy drawled, considering James curiously. “You don’t want to see the Veil, kid. Not much to be seen, really – and I’m afraid I can’t show you anyway. Ministry rule.”
James visibly deflated. Harry shot him a pointed ‘we’ll talk about this later’ glare before turning back to Malfoy, frowning. “Thank you anyway,”
Malfoy brushed past him and pushed the ‘up’ button for the lift before digging his hands into his pocket and attempting to create an aura of casualness, as though this encounter with his former foe hadn’t unsettled him in the least. Really, thought Harry, at this rate Malfoy and James could start a club for people who liked faking nonchalance.
The rattling gates opened and Malfoy remained stationary, an expectant look plastered on his pointed face. “You’re not sticking around here unsupervised,” He told them. “Not on my watch.”
A little taken aback, Harry and James shuffled into the open lift. Harry tapped the button for the second floor, the golden gates shut tight and they were propelled upwards.
An awkward silence ensued as they rose higher and higher. Feeling a little protective, Harry held James close by placing a careful hand over his chest. James looked up at him with curious, questioning eyes to which Harry responded with a cocked eyebrow and yet another pointed ‘later’ look.
On level seven, a brief distraction came in the form of a pungent hag entering the compartment, only to make no form of communication, ensuring the silence. When she departed on the sixth floor, one level up, the silence becoming unbearable, Harry cleared his throat. “How’s your son doing, then?”
Malfoy grimaced, and for the slightest second, Harry thought he spotted a shadow of a smile. “Very well, thank you.” He glanced down pensively at James for a brief moment as the gates opened again. He nodded curtly, meeting Harry’s eyes and marched swift from the lift.
“So is he your friend, dad?” James asked, watching Malfoy striding down the corridor with a confused, slightly disgusted look on his face.
Harry could only shake his head from side to side as he watched Malfoy stride down the hallway through the closing gate.
“Good. He was a bit of a prat, if you ask me.”
“But I didn’t, did I?” laughed Harry, mussing James hair playfully. “We went to school together.”
But before Harry could call James up on his motives for taking this ‘tour’, the lift filled up again with a pair of young Aurors who bombarded Harry with questions all the way up to the second floor.
The doors shuffling open, Harry called out to his son who lagged behind, “Come on, then. We’ll find Ron and have some lunch.” He looked back to see James racing to catch up with him, a shiny paper something slipping from his trouser pocket. “James, you’ve dropped something.”
“Oh,” remarked James, spinning around to see what it was. By this time, however, Harry had walked over to pick it up for him. He turned the glossy fuchsia wrapper over in his hand. In bold silver lettering, ‘Tonsiliscious’ was emblazoned, in smaller script below, ‘Be bedridden by breakfast!’ There could be no doubt as to where James could stumble across this. Harry would have to have a word with his dear brother-in-law.
“Really?” he demanded half-heartedly, a smile on his face as he stared down his shamefaced son. “Impressive measures, James, but you could have just asked.”
“What’s the time?” asked Albus, poking his head between his parent’s seats from the backseat. “We’re not going to be late, are we?” he fell back into the middle seat with an anguished sigh before rounding on his little sister, “If we’re late, I’m going to get you!”
“Albus!” scolded Ginny, spinning around in her seat to stare down her usually mild mannered son.
Albus simply scowled. “I’ll… I’ll…” he stammered in hushed tones, the minute his mother had turned back around. “I’ll send Snuffles a bone covered in poison!”
“I heard that!” cried Ginny again, though this time she couldn’t bring herself to turn around in her seat, for what would no doubt feel like the thousandth time this car ride.
“I thought he was supposed to be our good child,” Harry muttered to Ginny under his breath.
“I’m a good child!” piped Lily, not one to be intimidated by her older brother’s half-hearted threats.
“Yeah, me too!” protested James, affronted.
Harry sighed as he manoeuvred the car into an available parking spot. “Yes, yes, you’re all equally wonderful.”
Harry ambled down the twilit hallway, the last rays of sunshine filtering through the open castle windows. Taking his time to bask in the peace and quiet, he meandered contentedly through the corridor and up a flight of stairs. His destination: the Headmistress’ office – not that he had any intention to see the Headmistress.
It was the last day of the school term. With the final lessons and exams blissfully complete, the schools’ pupils and staff were now enjoying themselves at the End of Term Feast, giving Harry the perfect opportunity to pay a visit to an old friend – with Professor Sinatra’s complete permission, of course.
Harry had returned to Hogwarts, as he had done many times now, to give the graduating Defence Against the Dark Arts pupils a lecture, both as a reward for their hard work and as inspiration as they entered into their professional careers. This year’s speech had been of particular interest to Harry, however, as the graduating class contained his very own godson.
Teddy Lupin, Hogwarts graduate. It blew Harry’s mind to think of it. Teddy Lupin – the tiny blue-haired squirt he’d held in his arms, Harry a hopeless mess of a teenager at the time – all grown up. Hadn’t only yesterday Harry chased him around Grimmauld Place, on one of the many occasions Teddy evaded him on his miniature broomstick? Wasn’t it only weeks, months ago, Harry had witnessed Teddy’s first sign of magical ability, sending books and sofa cushions flying as a four-year-old when Harry and Ginny refused to let him call them mum and dad? How he’d scooped the distraught little boy up into his arms and squeezed him so tight, bursting with pride himself… Then introducing him to James, then Albus, the Lily…
And now, here he was, a young man with a promising future; top of his Transfiguration class, set to commence a successful career in Healing. One of these days, he and Victoire would sort themselves out, come to their senses and in no time, there would be another blue-haired squirt wriggling in his arms.
Harry stopped himself at the thought of that, shook his head disapprovingly at his own ridiculous sensibility and sense of nostalgia, took a deep breath and continued down the corridor.
Reaching the gargoyle guarding the entrance, Harry smiled broadly at the sheer excitement of his imminent meeting. Digging around in his robes pocket, he eventually found the scrap of parchment on which he had scribbled Sinistra’s astronomy themed password.
“That’ll do,” grumbled the gargoyle before turning and permitting Harry entrance.
Part of Harry always anticipated the Headmistress’ office would look just as it had during his sixth year and he was always a little alarmed when it wasn’t entirely the same as he had imagined. But surprisingly, the chamber was relatively unchanged in the time since Dumbledore’s death. Thick tomes still filled the many bookshelves and where there once sat silver, intricate instruments, shining telescopes and solar system models were now displayed.
Before Harry could address the person - or portrait, rather - he had come specifically to see, another silver-haired former school head greeted him. "Good afternoon, Harry." said Professor McGonagall in her portrait. It was quite bizarre to be speaking to this Professor McGonagall, when he had very recently spoken to the real Professor McGonagall, the Professor McGonagall who had retired to a small Scottish fishing village and not the Professor McGonagall who still monitored the Hogwarts hallways through the school's network of portraits. "How lovely to see you," She continued, smiling warmly. "You'll be wanting a private word with Albus, I presume. Come along, Severus."
"Thanks, Minerva," Harry replied, before turning grimly to Snape's portrait beside her. "Severus," Harry greeted him respectfully. Frowning, Snape heaved a sigh and nodded solemnly in response, before slipping out of frame.
Finally, Harry turned his attention to the portrait directly above the Headmistress’ desk. A beaming face shone down at Harry, his piercing blue eyes full of glee. In his portrait, Albus Dumbledore sat up in his chair and brought his hands together, pensive, under his chin.
“Harry Potter, to what do I owe the immense pleasure of your company?”
“No reason, sir,” Harry grinned, grinning up at Dumbledore. “Just in the neighbourhood.”
“Is that so?” said Dumbledore. “It’s been a while, Harry. I trust whatever has kept you from visiting your old school teacher is of the upmost importance.” He mused sincerely. “How are you, Harry? The lovely Mrs Potter?”
“Fantastic, on both accounts.” Harry fell into the familiar chair across from the desk. How natural and wonderful it was to sit in this old chair - the very chair he had occupied when first hearing of prophecies and Horcuxes – now discussing a contented life he could never have imagined in his wildest dreams as a Hogwarts student.
“The children?” asked Dumbledore, Harry lighting up like a jack-o’-lantern on Halloween at the mention of his absolute favourite subject.
“James starts here next term. September,”” Harry replied before gasping in realisation, “Three months…” The thought of it was a small stab in the chest, but he pushed aside his minor anguish. “I’m sure you’ll see plenty of him, he’ll give Sinistra a run for her money.”
“And my delightful namesake?” asked Dumbledore, his shining blue eyes a twinkle.
“He’s wonderful. They all are. Lily’s doing great; I can’t believe how big she’s getting. It’s scary even. She’ll be here soon enough, breaking hearts – Merlin forbid. She’s like that, cheeky and very pretty – she takes after Gin there… And Al, he’s just such a good kid. He’s a brilliant chess player. He’s given up taking on me, Ron’s the only one in with a chance to beat him.”
Dumbledore considered Harry for a pondering moment, “Nothing gives me more pleasure, Harry, than to see you bask in the glow that is familial love.”
Harry grinned a little sheepishly. “And Ted,” he added, “all grown up…”
“A remarkable young man, I might add,” Dumbledore agreed. “He has served his school as Head Boy with tremendous success.” Harry nodded, smiling. “You should be very proud.”
“More than you could ever know.” Harry replied.
Dumbledore had no words for that, but the glint in his eye spoke volumes.
Author's Note: Bah, I really cannot bring myself to give this a proper proof read, so for now, this'll have to do. I apologise if it's atrociously mistake-ridden! This'll be the last update for a bit, I imagine, since I am clearly deranged and have signed myself up for NaNoWriMo! Even if I crack - which is quite likely - and drop out of NaNo, I have so much craziness going on in November I'm thinking that the next update won't be up until December at the earliest. So good news I guess for those of you bemoaning the end of this here story! Credit to datbenik513, writergirl8 and FannyPrice for correctly deducing who was behind the door! Five points awarded to your respective houses. Nicely played. That is, quite sadly, the end of the road for our dear friend Mr Malfoy in this story. Isn't it nice that HP and the Malfster can be civil? You're awesome readers, I think you're swell, adios 'til December! x