Chapter 1 : Apothecary
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Several half-giants passed by the castle which stood on a sheer cliff. They vanished underground beneath the Giants Causeway. One warlock was observing them from a big window of the castle. Owen Cadwagan, a chieftain of the Druid community in Northern Ireland, cast his gaze upon his daughter whose long hair was blonde like her mother’s. Her skin was as white as snow. She had the same beautiful green eyes as her father and which were a feature of Druid wizards and witches.
"Dara, you're seventeen. When you become eighteen, people here will expect you to find a suitable bridegroom. Your future husband must be a powerful wizard as a successor to me. Don't you have someone in your mind?" asked the chieftain. He blinked and noticed how his daughter looked like her beautiful mother, who he had loved very much and who had died when Dara was very young.
Dara’s father didn’t expect her to say, "I do, father. I want to meet Harry Potter."
"You want to meet the man who saved the English Wizarding World?"
"Father, he didn’t just save English wizards. He saved people all over the world from the evil of Voldemort! If Voldemort had survived, he would have invaded our lands." She stared at her father intently, which showed how much she was obsessed with a war hero, she had never met.
"Albus Dumbledore said the same thing when he visited here before you were born," said the chieftain. “He warned us that if we didn’t take his side, the allies of the Dark Lord would invade our land.”
"Then why are you still sheltering the evil women and evil men?" asked Dara.
"When the Dark Lord returned, Albus asked for my support, so I promised him I would maintain neutrality. But after the war the situation still hasn't changed. They haven't returned our magical lands yet."
"They are as evil as Voldemort," retorted Dara.
"Dara, our people lost the lands of Anglesey, Skye, Man, and Kernow sixteen hundred years ago. The time has come to get them back." He stated this so flatly that his daughter couldn’t argue.
In the Gathering Hall of Auror Headquarters, Harry, Ron and other trainees were listening to the lecture being given by the shaven-headed instructor, Proudfoot. They were still wearing heavy auror robes after practicing the Bubble-Head Charm in a big hot spring bathroom for Aurors and Hit Wizards on night duty. Young trainees had to attend some meetings there with them, so Harry and Ron came from Hogwarts where they were assigned to watch Malfoy. Draco was a prime target of Umbridge,too.*
Proudfoot was explaining that they could use their wands to detect the presence of intruders by their vibrations. "If you are used to these vibrations, you could find criminals hiding. But be careful. If you can feel these vibrations of your wand, culprits can also find you and they’ll attack you anytime. And if they appear in disguise at your side, you must confirm who they are by asking passwords."
Harry was thrilled to know that he could sense intruders by using his wand.
Two days later after Thursday night’s training session, Proudfoot commanded Harry and Ron," One of the players was nearly abducted in the Isle of Skye yesterday. I want you to join the tracing team from next weekend. We will search the magical areas there including the Quidditch pitch of Pride of Portree. Two of you had a fight at the ruins there with Williamson and Dawlish before, didn't you? You nearly captured the remaining Death Eaters, and the culprit, Lestrange and Umbridge, but you let them slip." Proudfoot stopped talking and fixed his eyes on Harry and said, "Potter, are you listening?" He raised his brow.
"What? Eh, Sorry, sir," Harry came to himself. He was seized with fear. He had recalled the fight at the ruins again. He shook his head trying to sweep away the memory of the traumatic experience at the Isle of Skye: He had a horrible memory of the mission. After Rodolphus Lestrange cast the killing curse mercilessly, scattered debris hit Ron. Harry nearly believed he was dead. Since then he had less confidence in becoming an Auror, so he asked for Dumbledore’s advice. His mentor’s encouraging words saved him but still he was sometimes seized with the fear that he might have lost Ron.
After the meeting at the Headquarters, they came back to Hogwarts. When Harry entered the Great Hall next morning, Ron, wearing a set of dark red robes, was already sitting at the long Gryffindor table with Hermione and Ginny.
"Morning mate. Have you eaten breakfast?" said Ron. His mouth was full of crumpet.
"Yeah. You’d better wipe your mouth, mate. Butter.” Harry gave a chuckle.
Hermione shook her head. She had bound her bushy hair back, which showed she had been preparing for N.E.W.T.s but she had got sucked into Head Girl’s chores. Harry could guess how she had been preparing for the tests. Ginny stood up and looked warmly at Harry. She looked more beautiful in the Great Hall. The bright magical morning sunshine of the ceiling was pouring over her long red hair. He took a step closer to her. He embraced her so tightly that it took her breath away. Ginny’s face turned pink and she barely whispered in his ears, "Morning, Harry." He was about to kiss her, when someone spoke to him.
"Good morning, Mr.Potter, Mr. Weasley. Are you ready?" said Dedalus who was wearing a top hat as usual. It was about time for them to go watching Malfoy who had been suffering from Umbridge's curse. Umbridge let Malfoy see the bad dream through his Dark Mark. She seemed to be waiting for a chance to take advantage of him. She had learned the eerie magic from Druids. According to the portrait of Snape, Ancient Druids sent their message through their tattoos but Voldemort had changed it into something more sinister.
“Eh, yes, we're ready," answered Harry, letting Ginny go.
"The Malfoy boy is to have an interview with an apothecary after class. Your duty is to go with him to Diagon Alley." Dedalus nodded towards Malfoy who was eating at the long Slytherin table next to Hestia. She noticed Harry's stare and waved her hand at him.
"Will Malfoy work at this apothecary?" said Ron.
"Well, he will just be on the job training to open his own apothecary shop,” said Dedalus.
"Malfoy will have his own apothecary?" Ron asked, stunned.
"Yes, he will. He withdrew his money from Gringotts last week, you know?" said Dedalus.
"Did he buy a shop?" asked Harry.
"Yes, he did. We accompanied him when he went to buy the shop in Hogsmead yesterday."
Harry thought Malfoy was shrewd. He didn't miss the chance to draw his money from Gringott’s. The Ministry had prevented Malfoy from drawing money till then for a punishment against his past sins, but after the threatening owl was sent to Draco by the criminal, perhaps Lestrange, Head Auror Robards and Kingsley’s plan was that if they lifted the ban for the ex-Death Eater to withdraw money from Gringott’s, the culprits would believe their threat had worked. Then they would reveal their evil intention; they wished to recruit Malfoy again, but it was clear that they wanted him with money.
When they visited the Apothecary by Floo Powder in the afternoon, Ron muttered wiping out soot and dust, "Yuk! Horrible smell. I can't stand a mixture of rotten eggs and cabbages."
The shop was filled with the characteristic smell of blended herbs, all kinds of vegetables and enigmatic dead magical creatures.
Harry felt Malfoy stiffen with tension next to him. "Malfoy, what would you use silver unicorn horns for?" Harry pointed at horns on a shelf. He tried probing to see if Malfoy had changed.
"Potter, I can't believe you were really at Hogwarts. What did you learn in the Potions class?" Malfoy raised his brow.
Harry bit his lip. His attempt to promote adult-like relations with his old rival shattered. Maybe the fact that Snape had been loyal to Dumbledore through the war put Harry out of gear. When Harry was about to retort, the shopkeeper appeared from the back room.
"Good afternoon, boys," he greeted them and he was surprised to see Harry. "Mr.Potter! I’m honored to see you in my shop. Thank you for defeating You-Know-Who." The old man held out his hand to Harry.
They shook hands. The shopkeeper asked Ron, “So who will help my shop? You? Mr.?" The shopkeeper seemed to misunderstand. He must have thought Ron was the apprentice.
"I'm Ronald Weasley. I'm also a trainee Auror," said Ron, who threw out his chest proudly.
"Oh, you're Mr. Weasley. Thank you for saving our world," the old man offered his hand to Ron.
Ron grasped his hand and mumbled, "You're welcome." Unlike Harry, he didn’t mind being in the spotlight.
"My grandchildren have your chocolate frog cards," the old man beamed at them.
"Our chocolate frog cards?" Harry and Ron exchanged glances.
"Yes, they do. Here are some. I bought them, too," the shopkeeper took the cards from the counter and showed the cards to them.
Ron took one of them, stared at it and said, "Blimey, it's me."
The old man handed another to Harry. He was wearing his simple grey T-shirt and jeans in the picture. Harry grinned at it. When he tried to ask the shopkeeper if he had a card of Hermione, Malfoy cleared his throat.
"When will you start the interview?"
"Oh, are you the apprentice potions maker? What's your name?" the shopkeeper noticed Malfoy who was standing a bit far from them at the corner of the shop.
Malfoy hesitated, "Draco..Lucius Malfoy."
"Malfoy...Oh, Merlin! Are you a son of the ex-Death Eater?" the shopkeeper said in a trembling voice.
Mafloy bit his lip and looked down. Harry felt Malfoys anguish in his heart. He remembered Malfoy’s reluctance to identify Harry when he had been captured by Greyback and the Snatchers at Malfoy Manor in his seventh year.
"The Headmistress of Hogwarts only said that a talented Head Boy of Hogwarts would come. I didn’t hear the son of an ex-Death Eater would come," the old man showed his disapproval.
Harry felt he had to do something to dispel the shopkeeper’s suspicion and thought hard about what to say, but it was Ron who opened his mouth before Harry did. "Malfoy is a Potions Master. I can vouch for him. My brother, George who is a manager of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, will also guarantee him. We ordered him to deliver five hundred tester bottles of powders to the Ministry, and he carried it out," said Ron decisively. When George had asked for someone to help him make detection powder for the Ministry, Hermione recommended Malfoy and he did the job for money. *
"You mean George Weasley who's a manager of W.W.W?"
"Yes, he is, sir." Ron even grinned at the skeptical old man.
The shopkeeper stared at Ron, Harry and Malfoy by turns and said,
"Will you keep an eye on him while he works here?"
"Yes, we will. We will watch him this weekend," said Harry, and he glanced at Malfoy. Harry couldn’t fathom what the ex-Death Eater was thinking exactly but Malfoy seemed to be trying to be impassive, he looked the other way, which gave an impression that he wished it would finish quickly.
"Well, if two of you will watch him, I will hire him," the old man said.
While Malfoy helped the shopkeeper with stock taking, Harry observed goods and pictures on the wall. He saw a picture which was familiar to him. It was a picture of a castle by the seashore. Harry blinked and squinted at the picture. In the picture, a blonde-haired witch entered the castle and vanished.
"Excuse me, sir, but where is that castle?" Harry asked the shopkeeper.
"Oh, it used to be Druid's old castle on the Isle of Skye. It’s in ruins now."
Harry startled by the words and asked, "That is Druid's castle?"
"Yes, it was long ago, maybe 1600 years ago. It has been in ruins for ages," said the old man.
Harry surveyed the picture. The stunning view from an inlet set off the massive castle under the leaden sky. He waited for the blonde-headed witch to reappear but he didn’t see her again there. He looked around. On a shelf, he noticed some stones. He couldn't tell the difference between the stones.
"What are these?" asked Harry.
"They are, from the left, serpentine, greenstone, granite, limestone, slate and flint. Those Ancient Runestones have been used for curing the sick," said the shopkeeper. Each stone was a palm-sized one, and the old wizard picked up one of them, a greenish one, and allowed Harry to hold it in his hand. He had a cold feeling in the palm of his hand but couldn’t feel a specific magical vibration at all.
"Wicked! Do you think Hermione knows about these?" said Ron.
"Maybe. Can I buy one of them?" Harry asked.
Harry thought Hermione or Neville would be very interested.
"I'm sorry. They are rare stones and ‘not for sale’. We can get them only in Cornwall, the Isle of Skye and Wales. Sometimes we lend them to the healers of St.Mungo's." The shopkeeper started putting the rare stones in order carefully, cleaning them with a small piece of velvet.
Malfoy seemed to be listening to what the old man said with great interest. He tried to touch one of them, but he noticed Ron glare at him and gave up. The shopkeeper let Malfoy help to carry herbs and vegetables into a storehouse underground, and instructed him to write down the items on an old ledger. The shopkeeper avoided Malfoy, and mostly talked to Ron who got bored after glaring at his old rival.
Ron, who was still frowning a little, complained about the bad smell of rotten eggs to Harry, whispering, “We’ll have to wash ourselves in the Prefects bathroom to get rid of this disgusting smell.”
In the evening they returned to Hogwarts. At the night’s meeting of Prefects, Hermione raised a question, she was talking to Ernie, the Hufflepuff prefect. "I can't agree with you accusing Gryffindors of attacking Slytherins, Ernie. I heard some Hufflepuffs also attacked Slytherins this week."
Harry and Ron exchanged looks.
"Did you know they are attacking Slytherins?" asked Ron.
"Eh, well, I know one of the Gryffindor Quidditch players tried to attack Slytherin players," said Harry.
Hermione continued to speak. "We can't ignore them attacking Slytherin students any more. A truce in the Wizarding World should start here. We must get rid of house discrimination."
"Yeah, we understand what you say but how can we stop it? Most of the students don't feel guilty bullying Slytherin students," said Ernie.
A Ravenclaw Prefect opened his mouth, "How about requesting Aurors to patrol?"
All the Prefects looked around at Harry and Ron.
"Us?" said Ron perplexed.
"Eh, we are assigned to guard a Head Boy from the remaining Death Eaters, not to patrol," said Harry. His words seemed to create a tense atmosphere.
Then Malfoy opened his mouth, "Potter, Weasley, patrol for them. I'll be with you anyway. I'm a Head Boy. I also have an obligation to protect the students of my house."
Nobody objected to what Malfoy offered. Harry and Ron followed Malfoy who walked down the stone steps into the darkness. Their footsteps echoed in the labyrinthine passages.
"I didn't know that Slytherin students were being bullied by other students," said Ron.
"Most of our eighth years haven't come back because they were afraid that we would be attacked by other houses," said Malfoy dispassionately.
"I don't think all the students of Slytherin are harmful. But what the Death Eaters did was unforgivable. They tortured innocent people. They killed their parents and their relatives. They took the dearest people from innocent people by force. You understand their sorrows, don't you, Malfoy?" said Harry quietly but strictly.
Malfoy stared at Harry's eyes and said, "Yes, I do understand. I even witnessed.." but he halted.
Harry raised his brows and asked, “You witnessed what?”
Just then a sobbing voice echoed from a side room. It was a girl student. Her long hair was dark brown and her eyes were grey like Malfoy’s. "Astoria, what happened?" Malfoy spoke to her gently.
Astoria Greengrass stopped sobbing and looked up. She looked surprised to see Harry and Ron.
"They are Aurors. You don't have to be afraid. Tell me why you were crying," said Malfoy reassuring her.
"They hexed me. They took my potions report away while I was stunned," said Astoria.
"Who took your report?" asked Harry.
Her eyes brimmed with tears but she hesitated to say.
"Tell us. We'll catch them and we'll return your potions report to you," said Ron.
"Maisie Cattermole and Maura Alderton. Hufflepuffs," said Astoria.
The names, Cattermole and Alderton sounded familiar to Harry. Just then Ron groaned and said, "Merlin's beard. Mrs. Cattermole. Harry, do you remember?"
Mr. Alderton had been sentenced to the Dementor's kiss by Umbridge last year in the Ministry. Harry and Ron helped Mrs. Cattermole to run away from the Muggle-Born Registration Commission last year.
"Yes, I do remember." said Harry.
"Miss Greengrass, we'll bring them here. Are you OK with them?" Harry asked Astoria.
She nodded with her worried look. Harry conjured his Patronus and his silvery stag leapt away. Soon Ernie Macmillan dashed down with two other girls.
"I saw your Stag patronus, Harry. It spoke in your voice and told me to fetch Maisie and Maura. "
Black-haired sixth year, Maisie Cattermole began to speak timidly, "Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley, I'd like to say thank you for saving my mother's life in the Ministry last year." She whispered something into Maura's ear.
Maura took out Maisie's crumpled parchment reluctantly from her pocket and said,
"I'm sorry for hexing her. And thank you for helping my father from the jail last year, Mr. Potter."
Harry nodded, took Astoria's report and returned it to her saying, "Is this yours?"
"Yes, it is," answered Astoria.
"Why did you hex her?" Harry asked the two Hufflepuffs.
They kept silent and Maura opened her mouth, "It was revenge. Slytherins tortured us. Carrows made us torture first years. The Death Eaters were all from Slytherin. After they took over the Ministry, my father was sentenced to the Dementor's kiss," huffed Maura.
"We can't accept Malfoy, a son of ex-Death Eater as a Head Boy," said Maisie and she stared at Malfoy with hatred.
Malfoy kept his poker face. Ron whispered to Harry. "Harry, this is beyond our control. We should call the Headmistress or Hermione."
Then Ernie cut in and said, "Did Astoria Greengrass do something wrong to you?"
"Professor Slughorn has a partiality to her. He gave her more points than she deserved. He gave us less point on our report," said Maisie.
"Well, you should have talked with Professor Slughorn first," said Ernie sternly."I'll ask you again. Did she hex you? Did she hurt you?"
"No, but.." Maisie and Maura murmured.
"Well, Miss Greengrass, I'm very sorry that sixth years from my house hexed you and took your potions report. Fifty points from Hufflepuff. If you do such a thing again, I'll take off more points from your house," said Ernie and he let them go.
"Miss Greengrass, it will take more time for them to apologize to you, but I promise I'll make them apologize to you," said Ernie.
"Wow, Ernie, you sound like a Head Boy," said Ron
Ernie grinned and said, "Well, Professor McGonagall told me she was thinking I should be a Head Boy but she explained she chose to designate a student from Slytherin as a Head Boy to reduce prejudice against Slytherins and I agreed," said Ernie.
While they were talking, Harry noticed Malfoy take Astoria's hand and lead her to the Slytherin Common Room.
After patrol they went back to the Head Boy's room. Harry and Ron kept watching Malfoy by turns through the night. But Malfoy was not disturbed by the Dark Mark on his arm at all. It seemed that Umbridge had given up for that night.
Next morning while Harry and Ron were yawning over breakfast, Hermione kept asking about their night patrol. "Fifty points? Did Ernie take off ten points?"
"Yes, he did. Didn’t I tell you?" said Ron. He yawned again.
"Well, I didn’t expect Ernie to take off points from his own house. I ought to give him more credit," said Hermione.
"Yeah, he handled it very well. Have you encountered similar matters before? How about Gryffindors?" Harry asked her.
"Old and new seventh years are OK. They control themselves for you, Harry," said Hermione.
"For me? What do you mean?"
Hermione stared at Harry's eyes and said, "They are very proud of you. They understand that self- control is noble. They decided not to attack Slytherins for you. You are our hero, Harry."
"Hermione and I keep an eye out for bullies," said Ginny.
Hermione giggled and added, "Ginny announced she would do a Bat-Bogey Hex against anyone who bullied a weaker student."
Harry beamed at Ginny. Ginny smiled back and said, "Your guarding Malfoy had much influence on us. The boys who saved the Wizarding World are guarding an ex-Death Eater."
"Well, we are just doing our duty," said Harry and thought for a while. Dumbledore’s Portrait might have given Kingsley and McGonagall instructions to protect Malfoy before this year started.
"How are other year Gryffindor students?" Harry asked Hermione.
"I'm sorry we couldn't stop first and second year students from harassing Slytherins," said Hermione looking annoyed.
"Could you grasp any information about that?" asked Harry.
"The Slytherin prefects told me that two Slytherin Quidditch players were harassed in the boy's bathroom last Wednesday night," said Hermione.
Harry was sure she meant Andrew, a young new member of the Gryffindor Quidditch team who had just joined recently. "Do you know who did that?"
"No, I don't. I've just heard they were hexed in the boy's bathroom and an Auror found them and released them..," then Hermione hit the mark and said, "Harry, was it you?"
"Yes, I was there. I know who did that. But I won't tell you who he was for his honor. I believe he will not do that again," said Harry.
"Did you talk him about that?" asked Ginny.
"Yes, I did."
Ginny looked as if she sensed something and said, "Is he?.."
"Ginny, don't.." Harry placed his index finger on his lips to hush Ginny. Under the cover of his invisibility cloak, Harry had caught Andrew bullying players from the Slytherin team, in the boy's bathroom.
"Well, I understand their feelings. Think about what they have done to us. If I stay here and see Slytherins every day, I will hex them," said Ron.
"Ron! You were a Prefect and now you are a trainee Auror. Don't say such a thoughtless thing," Hermione admonished.
Ron stood up, stretched and said, "Harry, let's go. We'll see Malfoy to the Apothecary."
Author's note: *Please refer to the first novella, “Harry Potter and the First Mission”.
This chapter was rewritten with advice of a great beta, chinaglaze who is still working on this for me, so it's still WIP. Thank you for your reviews. Your review makes me keep on writing fanfic stories. Thank you, again, JoanneK for your wonderful work for this.
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