A loud crack signalled Harry and Ron’s arrival in a narrow lane, an immaculately trimmed hedge on their right, a less immaculate hedge on their left.
Harry immediately strode forward, leaving Ron to hesitate and then trot after him. There was something about the situation that rendered Harry unable to fully take is seriously. Whether it was that he had seen his partner in crime in his underwear that very morning, or whether they were about to be visiting the bloke who’d done his best to make their school years difficult, he didn’t know.
“This is so weird,” Ron muttered, “So weird.”
Harry privately agreed, but he knew that he had to treat this as a professional matter and that stopping this Greengrass from gaining too much illicit information that could potentially lead to an onslaught of nasty murders. The Greengrass family had all been in Slytherin (which naturally hadn’t surprised anyone) and as far as Harry could tell, were very far up the social standings. They hadn’t even been linked to any Death Eater activity, which made Harry suspect that they were a family who could talk the talk, but not walk the walk. Harry thought it was a strange time to suddenly start playing around with Dark magic.
A large iron gate greeted them and Harry’s memory shot back five years; this time, the gate did not request that they relay their names to it. Forcibly ejecting this memory from his mind like the way George had been ejected from the Three Broomsticks a mere week previously Harry and Ron pushed open the gate and strode up the gravel path that lay beyond it.
Albino peacocks stood in this path, but Harry tried to ignore them, focusing his entire focus on focusing on the large manor house, desperate not to lose focus, but secretly thinking, “Visiting Malfoy… I’d rather have my hair dyed pink and green.”
“Ouch!” Harry suddenly yelled, as his ignoring of the peacocks meant that he wasn’t looking out for them and consequently tripped over one. Ron sniggered and hastily helped Harry to his feet, beating the dust off of him.
Harry tried to regain his composure, desperately trying to push away the memories that were flooding into his mind
“Come on mate,” Ron said, taking lead and walking up some stone steps to a large ornate front door.
After a moment’s hesitance, he knocked loudly.
The door opened almost instantly by a woman with waist length blonde hair, who looked irritable and annoyed. Narcissa Malfoy.
“Who are you?” she demanded of Ron and Harry, “Potter,” she suddenly realised with a look of wide-eyed shock that she tried to disguise with contempt, “What are you doing here?”
“We want to talk to Draco regarding Ministry matters.”
A fleeting look of fear crossed Narcissa’s face, but it was quickly replaced by her previous look of annoyance.
“Fine. Wait here.” She slammed the door.
“Check it out!” Ron immediately snorted, gesturing to the closed door with his thumb, “Malfoy still lives with his mum!”
Ron continued to snort and snigger until a second pale blonde entity opened the door, looking cautious and wary. The man who still lived with his Mum: Draco Malfoy.
“Don’t worry Malfoy it’s not about you,” Ron snapped at once; the look of fear on Draco’s face lessened slightly.
“We want to know if we can speak to Astoria Greengrass,” Harry said, looking into his cold grey eyes, wondering bitterly why he looked so scared, “Guilty conscience Malfoy?” he thought scathingly.
“What do you want with her?”
“We want to ask her to marry us,” Ron said, his voice laced with sarcasm.
“I can’t let you do that,” Draco stood straighter and folded his arms defensively.
“Why? Surely you’re not going to marry her are you?” Ron snickered, “Can’t imagine why anyone would willingly get into bed with you every night. It’d be like trying it on with a Hippogr – ”
Harry trod on Ron’s foot; now was not the time to go aggravating retired Death Eaters. Harry scathingly wondered if “Death Eater” counted as a profession… did they get pensions now that Voldemort had gone, seeing as they now had no job?
“You know, it’s very stupid to go insulting people who you want to help you,” Draco laughed humourlessly.
“We’re looking for her father,” Harry intervened quickly, sidestepping slightly so that Ron was concealed behind him. This proved hard; it’s always hard to conceal tall people behind shorter people. Not that Harry was short in any sense, but Ron had to take the biscuit here.
“Shut up you nosy git! Where is she?” Ron stuck his head around Harry’s shoulder, meaning that Harry moved his head to prevent this happening.
“Trying to hide her from us?” Ron stuck his head over Harry’s head. Harry stood on tiptoe.
“Worried she’ll like us better?” Ron put his head over Harry’s other shoulder. Harry did the weird head jerk thing again.
Harry desperately wanted Malfoy to hurry up asking, otherwise Ron would be sticking his head between Harry’s legs next. Not that this was possible with robes on, but where there was a want there was a way, and in all honesty Harry would rather Ron didn’t attempt it.
Malfoy’s deliberately useless answers were starting to annoy Harry now. He decided they needed to be straight with each other, rather than throw petty insults around like Ron was doing. To Harry’s surprised realisation, he noticed that Draco hadn’t done much in the way of returning these; he’d obviously matured…
“Look Malfoy, you don’t like us and we don’t like you. We think you’re a two timing coward, you think we’re pathetic losers because he has no money and I have no mum,” Harry said stonily, “But we need to find Fowler Greengrass. Can you please, just once, pretend that we’re best of friends and help us out?”
Draco’s face remained impassive throughout Harry’s speech, but eventually to Harry’s surprise, Draco invited them in. Actually invited them in. Invited them in. Like he stepped aside, opened the door and gestured with his hand for them to enter. Admittedly it was done in a jerky, cold manner but it was a willing invitation nevertheless.
Harry had been envisaging a situation in which he’d have to shout out his legal powers as an Auror (“I have the right to enter your home and make a damn awful mess if I think you’re doing Dark deeds!”) and point his wand into Draco’s face, uttering the deadly curse that would cause his bogies to grow wings and attack his face. Yes, Harry had learnt many tricks from Ginny, but this had to be his favourite. Along with some card tricks that she’d learnt from her father. They were always good for a laugh.
Harry and Ron skulked in, feeling distinctly awkward but desperately trying to hide it behind a façade of “I’m a tough trained Auror whereas you were just a smelly Death Eater” type of expression, which naturally looked fairly stupid but there were no mirrors for them to realise this in and therefore rectify their mistake.
Ron stumbled over the rug in the hall earning a soft snort from Draco.
Draco opened the door into the drawing room, a very sumptuous one at that, strewn with tapestries and dark furniture, a cavernous fireplace and an incredibly intricate crystal chandelier that Harry remembered had been destroyed the last time he was here.
“Astoria,” Draco said, “Aurors want to see you.”
And with that he stumped out the room and slammed the door once more (they were all for slamming doors in this household; they all seemed to be permanently angry.)
A tall willowy woman rose from an armchair and Ron’s jaw fell open.
“She’s nice,” Ron whispered faintly and Harry had to admit that Malfoy was one lucky prick.
“We’re here about your father,” Harry said, feeling it would be best to speak first before Ron said something stupid like “Go out with me. Please. I’m not single but I’m not married either,” after which Harry would grab him by the shoulder and hiss menacingly, “You will be next week though!”
“My father?” she repeated questioningly, raising a delicately perfect eyebrow that creased the skin of her silken porcelain forehead. Her deep blue eyes glittered curiously, glancing over Harry’s scar and finally coming to rest on Ron’s red eye, still not fully restored to normal blue and white self. “Why? What’s he done?”
“He has been detected having a hand in Dark activity, spying and has also been linked to several unpleasant murders,” Harry said, wondering why Astoria had started to look amused. Did she find this funny?
“I’m sorry but I haven’t seen my father for years,” she said, rolling her perfectly formed eyes, “But this is exactly the type of thing I imagined he’d end up doing. He was never the nice man, my father.” She subconsciously crossed an arm over her body and rested her hand on her shoulder.
Harry considered this a bit of an understatement; people who murdered for information and personal gain tended not to be very nice people.
“Were you in Slytherin?” Ron suddenly shot out, obviously digging for a reason that enabled him to unconditionally hate Astoria. This should hopefully curb the onslaught of attraction he had for her.
“No,” she said snobbishly, frowning at him as though insulted. “I was in Ravenclaw. If you’re looking for a Slytherin, you should speak to Draco.”
“Yes. We went to school with him. We know his house,” Harry said through slightly clenched teeth. Astoria of course knew this, despite being two years younger than them it was hard not to know what Harry Potter was up to. Or who his enemies were.
“Oh yeah!” she suddenly smiled evilly, “You hated Draco at school didn’t you? Do you have any evil stories about him?”
“What? Like when he tried to kill Dumbledore you mean? And him.” Harry gestured to Ron, glaring at Astoria. Surely she knew something of her boyfriend’s past…
“That’s enough I think!”
The door into the room banged open and hit the wall. Draco was marching into the room, looking furious and embarrassed, evidently desperate that Harry and Ron wouldn’t go telling his beautiful girlfriend about what an arse he was at school.
“Draco! Were you listening outside the door?” Astoria giggled, a tinkling innocent sound that was completely at odds with her aristocratically smug and beautiful face.
“No! I’m just tired of being talked about. I haven’t done anything for years, and I want to know why Aurors are still calling at my home!”
“Because we missed you Malfoy and wanted to ask if you wanted to come to a special Hogwarts reunion,” Ron spat, “Now go away, and leave us here to talk with your unfairly fit girlfriend.”
“Oh Ron…” Harry closed his eyes in exasperation; there was no controlling what Ron said sometimes, especially when he was incensed. He was usually very professional at times like these, but the presence of his old school time enemy and a beautiful girl had seemed to have upset the careful balance of his mind a bit.
“You’ve just come here to get off with Astoria!” Draco accused, narrowing his eyes, “I knew it!”
“I did not!” Ron retorted hotly, in Hermione’s poshest voice, “I’m going out with Hermione and she’s far more beautiful that anyone on this planet!”
“What, the bushy haired Mudblood?” Draco sneered.
Ron let out a venomous snarl and dived towards his wand. Harry leapt between them, inwardly cursing himself into ever thinking this could work; how could he have been so naïve?
“MOVE HARRY!” Ron yelled, “I WANT TO GET THIS FERRET ONCE AND FOR ALL!”
“SHUT UP YOU STUPID WEASEL!” Draco yelled back, equally as mature as Ron with the animal insults.
Harry had to dive out the way just as Malfoy hurled a hex at Ron. Ron had to leap behind a nearby bookcase, causing the spell to hit the mantelpiece on the opposite side of the room, smashing a chunk of stone from it that crumbled all over the floor.
Astoria was watching as a fully-fledged duel erupted between Ron and Draco. She felt she should help but her duelling was so deadly she’d have them both writhing on the floor within seconds. Or so she thought.
“Not a spell Weasley!”
“STOP IT!” Harry roared, as a shield charm flew out the end of his wand, causing that barrier that would prevent Draco and Ron trying to murder the other, “THIS IS RIDUCULOUS! ASTORIA, YOU SAY YOU HAVEN’T CONTACTED YOUR FATHER FOR YEARS, IS THAT CORRECT?”
“Yes,” she said faintly, still standing in the same spot.
“I SHALL CHECK UP ON THAT LATER VIA SECRET METHODS. HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO YOUR SISTER LATELY?”
“No,” she said faintly, still standing in the same spot, “She and I don’t get along.”
“RIGHT. OK WELL I WILL CONTINUE THIS LEAD ELSEWHERE. RON, WE ARE GOING BACK TO THE MINISTRY! AND I AM GOING TO REMOVE THIS SHIELD CHARM. IS IT SAFE FOR ME TO DO SO?”
“Yes, why are you still yelling?”
“I DON’T KNOW.”
“Can you stop it Potter, you’re giving me a headache. Something you’re used to I’m sure, with that stupid scar and all,” Draco sneered, his trademark composure and sneering disdain for everyone except for himself back on form once more.
Harry finally removed the shield charm and stomped out the room, wondering how the situation could have possible gone worse.
He supposed Ron could’ve tried flirting with Astoria. But apart from that… it was a bit of a fiasco. A bit like the average Occlumency lesson with Snape.
Ron joined him halfway down the garden path a minute later, having wasted no time in stalking out Malfoy Manor and bashing Draco with his shoulder as he went past. This consequently meant that he had bounced off Draco into the doorframe, earning a snort and a suppressed giggle from the ever-fit/beautiful/gorgeous Astoria.
“Why do gits like him get great looking girls?” Ron seethed, slouching alongside Harry, “He’s just a stupid git. I hate him. Git.”
Without stopping to warn him Harry just grabbed Ron by the arm and Apparated back to the Ministry, hoping that Ron would get a minor Splinch injury and lose a chunk of his hair so he could think about what he’d just done.
Thanks to theelderwand for helping me make this chapter a little more accurate!
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