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15 June 2010 @ 01:50 pm
Fathers, part 3bi  
Oh my goodness, fic! Just a reminder to new folk that this was begun so long ago that Asteria/Astoria did not exist in those days and so the role of Scorpius's mother is played by a nice French witch named Helene.
Part one is here
And the AS/S prequel is here

Title Fathers, Who Could Do With a Spot of Sinning, Part 3b/3c or possibly d, e if things get out of control
Author blamebrampton
Characters Harry/Draco (eventually), Ron, Hermione, Narcissa, the next-gen crew and sundries.
Rating PG
Words 10,222 (this part)
Summary After their sons fall in large amounts of teenaged love at school, Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter decide it's finally time to talk like adults about their own ties to each other. If only they could. Meanwhile, events of national importance conspire to distract them.
Notes Absolutely nothing to do with Jo Rowling, Bloomsbury, Scholastic or any other media titans. But affectionately nicked from all of the above.
My undying gratitude to jadzialove  who manages to do a wonderful job of beta-ing while I do an appalling job of meeting any deadlines, and then go and introduce error afterwards. All the ghastly things should be blamed on me entirely, as my mentis has not been compos for years.
Thanks to libby_drew  who kicked this all off, norton_gale , who is also responsible, and raitala  and everyone else who nagged cheerfully. 


***************************


Fotherington shakes his head. “You don't want a Freezing Charm for explosives, sir,” he says. “You want a Time Stop Spell or a good pair of pliers and then you cut the red wire. Or the blue. Sometimes the green.”

“Thanks,” says Harry. “But my arm is getting tired. Could you possibly sort this for me now and run me through the theory later?”

“Sorry, sir.” Fortherington Apparates to the other side of the door. “It's the blue wire on this one, sir. Cutting it now. Right, you can let go.”

The instant that Harry's hand releases the doorknob, Fotherington swings the door open fully, and the remaining wires twang out of whatever had been holding them at the jamb. “It's safe, sir,” says Fortherington.

“You could have warned me,” Harry says.

“So you and Mr Malfoy could go a distance away and doubt my skills?” Fotherington asks.

“So we could all go to a safe distance and open the door with magic,” Draco says. “We're wizards.” He carefully omits the fact that both he and Harry failed to remember that when it came to Apparating to the far side of the door in the first place.

“Yes, sir,” Fotherington says, somewhat apologetically. “Um, is it standard Auror practise to come through the front door?”

“Yes,” says Harry.

“I ask because it's standard Muggle police practise, too. So whoever did this was probably expecting someone from the police or Aurors to come here and had a trap in case they did.”

Harry has reached the same conclusion a moment before and is walking quickly into the next room. “The windows, too. I'm betting the other doors and windows are all wired. Fotherington, there are any number of those little explosives, is it safe here or should we Apparate away and call in the Muggle police?”

Fotherington and Draco follow Harry. The younger man examines the explosives on the windows at the front of the room. “Same type,” he says. “Plastic explosive, electronic detonators. No receivers, they'll only go off if you break the circuit without disabling them first. It's all very old-fashioned, but comparatively safe.”

“Show me how to disable them,” Draco says.

“I'll take a poke around,” says Harry. “See if there's anything worth blowing the place up for, or if it's just a extreme way of slightly lowering Britain's law enforcement population.”

Draco nods, and turns his attention to Fotherington, who is wielding a specialised hand tool comprising several blades and pliery things along with his wand. “The trick,” says Fotherington, “is to cast a Time Stop Spell first, which considerably lowers the need for accuracy.”

“So it might not have been the blue wire at all?” Draco teases him.

“No, sir, it's absolutely the blue wire, see how the little light on the detonator is blinking, now I cast the spell, now I cut the wire, now I take the spell off and it's stopped blinking?”

Draco forces himself to wait a moment and level his voice before he says, “Fotherington, why would you take the spell off?”

“To check I cut the right wire, sir.”

“Of course.” The problem with the Department of Mysteries, thinks Draco, is that it attracts a certain sort of person. Thank goodness he rarely lets them out of the office. “Can you explain to me why a device intended to kill people has a safety feature?”

“For the person who puts it in, sir, in case they need to take it back out again. It's a very simple detonator: if you pull out either the red or the black wire, it breaks the circuit that keeps the switch in the off position and sends it to on, sending a charge that explodes the plastic. You cut the blue, and it means the switch is stuck in the off position, so the plastic is safe to handle.”

“Plastic?”

“Plastic explosive, sir. They use it in demolition work. This looks like old-school stuff, PE4 or Semtex, see how it's a bit slick?” Fotherington runs his finger down the side of the off-white sausage of putty that has been stuck along the back of the window frame. He absently sniffs his fingers. “Oh,” he says, and frowns.

“Oh?” Draco does not like that tone.

“It's the new stuff, more explosive than I thought, sir. Not to worry, won't go off without a charge, but if Mr Potter had accidentally triggered it, the whole house would have gone up.”

Draco swallows. “We did think a Freezing Charm would do it, works on burglar alarms and cameras.”

“Yes, sir. Not so much on bombs. Time Stop Spell, you can make them nice and local, just a few inches bigger than the device.”

While they have been speaking, Fotherington has snipped the wires on the other two windows in that room. They move onto the next room, and proceed through the house. After watching the procedure a few times, Draco asks to try it and Fotherington produces another of his multi-ended tools from his pocket.

“Just cast the spell, wait a moment, then snip straight and sure, sir. I think it's always the blue wire, but if you want to check, you can see here that the others are in loosely so they can be pulled out, while it's secure. You want to cut the secure one.”

Draco manages his first two under supervision, and is then left to manage by himself, though they work in the same rooms, for company as much as safety.

“A question occurs,” says Draco. “If they've wired every door and window, how did they get out after they did the last one?”

Fotherington stops in his work and stares. “That's a good question,” he says.

Draco manages not to smile at the younger man's surprise at being out-thought. “If the top floor isn't rigged, we can assume it was Muggles and a ladder. If it is, we're most likely looking for wizards.”

They finish the room they have been working in, then head upstairs to check. Its windows are free of explosives, and Draco and Fotherington nod with the satisfaction of having solved a mystery, albeit a small one.

Harry appears through one of the nearby doors. “Paperwork!” he says. “Reams of it! Muggle legal documents! It looks as though there's enough to incriminate all the main players!”

Draco and Fotherington both frown. “What?” asks Harry, no longer smiling.

“So far everyone we have in custody or as a suspect is a witch or wizard,” says Draco. “So why are they using Muggle legal documents? And for that matter, Muggles don't use paper very much these days, do they, Fotherington?”

“No, sir, only for personal things and for really important things that need a signature in pen as well as a retinal scan. Business papers, like dockets and memos are all electronic these days, have been for years.”

“They wouldn't print things out?” Harry asks despondently.

“They might,” Fotherington allows. “Probably not, though.”

Harry leads them back into the room he emerged from, and there are, indeed, reams of paper stacked over a desk, in an incriminating fashion. He picks one up at random. “It looks real …”

Draco and Fotherington join in. Harry is right. There are Title Deeds and certificates of insurance for buildings that would have been destroyed by the flood, orders for steel and building supplies, copies of letters of introduction to members of parliament, bank records. It all looks tremendously real, and there are far more than fifty names here. Draco recognises a number of them as being wizards and witches he has heard of, and others he assumes are Muggles.

“Muggle house, Muggle papers, Muggle explosives, now names … Hindley had only a scent of the whole conspiracy,” he mutters. “I suppose I wouldn't tell a little idiot like that much, either, if I could help it.”

“You're right, sir,” says Fotherington, addressing Harry. “This does all look authentic. But it doesn't make any sense. Why print it out in the first place? And why leave it all here to be found in the second? I know they wired the ground floor up for destructive results, but surely they'd have considered that an Auror might Apparate inside rather than come through the front door.”

Harry looks mildly embarrassed. “I try to stick to procedure,” he says. “When I can. Sets an example.”

Fotherington nods distractedly.

“I think,” says Draco, “that there are two options. Either this material was all left here in the expectation it would combust when the house exploded, or it's a back-up plan, designed to be found and to set us on a false trail if the house did not explode.”

“Which do you think it is?” Fotherington asks, appalled to find himself so interested.

“It depends on how smart our crooks are,” Harry says. “Draco, can I borrow Fotherington? I want Fawcett and Lester to go through all of these with a fine-tooth comb, and then if Fotherington could add his level of analysis to Fawcett's general suspicion – hush, he's very good when he's sober – and Lester's grasp of intrigue, I think we will have covered all the ways of looking at it.”

Draco glances at his employee, who is looking a little nervous. “Can Lester bring the papers down to Fotherington so we don't need to move any equipment out of the lab?” he asks.

Harry agrees, and Fotherington relaxes. Draco can understand, the Department of Mysteries had been a wonderful refuge for him, too. He had hidden behind its tests and potions, buried in theory and research, until he had felt ready to take the next step back into the wizarding world. And then Harry had come bounding in with a case that needed his expertise, and ever since then his life seemed to involve an unusually high level of hexes, explosions and running after people.

Now that he thought on it, life around Harry was always like that. In comparison, the years that he had spent travelling the world after the war had been quiet and simple. Thank Merlin he had come back. Thinking of travel reminds him of his ex-wife, the ex-wife he had invited to tea this afternoon. Who is due to meet him at Malfoy Manor in five minutes.

“Right, Auror Potter,” Draco says smartly. “It occurs to me that you will need to bring your people in to search this building thoroughly and you'll probably want a few of mine to help you. An Analyst or two and a curse-breaker?”

“Sounds good.”

“In that case, I'll stop by the Ministry to send out a team, then I'm back to my holiday.”

“You're leaving me here with Fotherington?” Harry is confused.

“I'm not meant to be here at all,” Draco reminds him. “And I completely forgot that Helene was popping by this afternoon.”

“Ah.” Harry nods. “I suppose it's a mercy you're running late in England and not still in France.”

“Quite. Fotherington, try not to blow anything up, and whatever you do, do not explain to Mr Potter how to defuse a bomb, else he'll take to believing he can manage on his own and Britain will soon require a new Head Auror due to the old one being aerosolised.”

“Understood, sir. Can I go back to the department when the others arrive?”

“I'd prefer you to stay out here until everything is looked over, but once it is, you'll be of most use back with the Analysis team, since you're familiar with the situation. Research can do without you for a day or two, can't it?”

“Yes, sir. We're testing the new magic-proof structures, all basic stuff that doesn't need me.”

“Good lad. How's that girl of yours?”

Fotherington smiles as he looks down. “We're off for dinner and a film on the weekend, sir, and maybe an Historic House on Sunday if that goes well.”

Draco holds his smile in. “Be sure to offer to pay for everything, because you did the inviting, and to let her if she wants to, because you're fine with people not wanting to be indebted,” he advises. “And let her think she's just a tiny bit smarter than you, but that you're probably really good in a crisis.”

“I am good in a crisis,” says Fotherington. “Usually.”

“You are. Now keep yourself and Potter out of one until everyone else gets here. And with that, I'm off.” Draco raises his hand to Apparate.

“Draco?” Harry forestalls him. “Do me a favour and grab those scrolls from my desk when you're in my office and take them back to your place?”

“How do you know I'll be in your office?”

“You have tea with your ex-wife and four kilograms of expensive French confectionary sitting on my desk.”

Draco laughs as he Disapparates, and has just enough time to notice the look Fortherington is giving him. Another one. But it is too late to explain now.


***************************


Helene is sitting in the drawing room when Draco arrives home. “I hear you are buying me a house,” she says by way of greeting.

He kisses her cheek. “Word travels fast.”

“Matthieu Floo-called to see if I was happy with your choice of locales before he took your money. I assured him I would keep the entire conversation a complete secret, though you should know that I would prefer Le Marais or St-Germain, I'm encouraging my bohemian side these days.” She winks at Draco with good humour.

Draco laughs at the wink, and clutches his hands to his chest. “I was a fool to divorce you,” he declares.

“I divorced you! But of course you are a fool. Now, why are you so late and did you bring me any presents from Paris?”

“I've been solving crimes, and macarons and a little silk scarf woven by that new witch designer.”

“Marielle?”

“Yes, she's the one you like, isn't she?”

Helene makes grabbing motions with her hands, and Draco laughingly tells her that he has left all his packages on the hall table. With a dramatic sigh, she leaps up from her settee and follows him out.

“What are all the scrolls? Are you working on a new project?”

“Ah, no, they're Harry's. He's staying here for a few days to help cheer up the kids while Ron's in hospital. It's practical that way.”

Helene is nodding sincerely. “Absolutely, a purely practical decision. I might have to visit, too, since my favourite handsome men will all be here.”

“There is nothing going on, despite what you and half the wizarding world seems to think.”

“Of course not. You are simply friends. Now give me my present!”

Draco is laughing as he hands her a small, beautifully wrapped box. Helene opens it and exclaims with glee, before kissing his cheek and knotting the delicate square of intricately woven fabric about her throat. She twirls and tilts her head from one side to the other to show off the gift to best advantage.

“I am irresistible, yes?” she asks.

Draco smiles. “You always were. I was so in love with you,” he tells her.

“I remember,” she replies with a laugh. “You were young, and foolish, and I was the most attractive person you knew.”

“You still are!” he says, gallantly.

“Liar. But I would not trade my time with you, nor our son. You drove me mad at times, but more often you made me happy.”

“We made the right decision to separate though?” It is almost a statement, but the slightest questioning inflection remains.

Helene swats him with the empty scarf box. “Don’t be ridiculous! Of course we did! I would have killed you long ago if we had not. I would have felt awful about it, too. And it wasn’t just this thing you apparently do not have with Harry, you were endlessly irritating.”

Draco is laughing too much to be annoyed. “Come on, tea and macarons while things are quiet. You can tell me your adventures and I'll fill you in on what's been happening at this end. You got my owl about Ron?”

“Yes, and I have written to him and Hermione, I will visit them when he has had a few days to recover.”

“I'm headed over in a few hours to pick up the children. Come with me, it will be a short visit if you're worried about tiring him out.”

Helene gives a short shake of her head. “More worried about myself. You know I don't respond well to hospitals. I panic, or become sarcastic.”

Draco pats her arm. “Be sarcastic, you'll fit right in.”

She smiles. “Dreadful man. Come on, I will make you tea, or some hot chocolate, and you can tell me about your day.”

Draco is not sure that he can, but he follows her nonetheless.


***************************


About five pm, Lester reappears at Malfoy Manor.

Draco meets him in the hallway. “Make it quick,” he says. “We're off to the hospital shortly, I was expecting you an hour ago.”

“I was … delayed,” says Lester uncomfortably. He evidently does not wish to talk about it.

“Tell me more,” says Draco.

Lester smiles grimly. “I Apparated to the wrong house, where I was accosted by two tipsy elderly witches who told me what a lovely lad I was and how wonderful you and Mr Potter were. It took four cups of tea and half a cake before I could get away.”

“Lavatory?” Draco offers.

“I stopped off home on the way here. Man was not meant to consume that much crystallised ginger.”

“I have French confectionary …”

“No thank you, sir.” Lester mostly conceals his slight shudder. “Fotherington asked me to pop in and tell you that he's gone back to the Ministry. Fawcett and I are going to work with him down in Mysteries, see if we can find anything in that mound of papers. He said to tell you that he'll be putting in for a day off soon, because he thinks he might be there all night. And maybe tomorrow night, too.”

Draco shakes his head. “Stun him if you have to, but see the lad gets some sleep, would you?”

“I will, sir,” Lester grins. “One other thing, do you have anything planned for the kids this weekend? Only I was going to treat Scorpius and Albus to lunch, catch up with them and see what their plans are for the summer.”

“Slothing about, I believe. I had nothing special organised, I think they'd be thrilled if you asked them. And thank you for checking with me first.”

“Not at all, I know how annoying it is to have someone gazump your plans.”

“Ah.” Draco smiles apologetically. “Sorry about that, I know you were organising a warrant through all the proper channels, but we were on the scene, and there was reasonable cause, and … well, as things turned out it was all for the best, just imagine if a Muggle policeman had come along.”

“Yes, sir. And I blame Mr Potter, sir.” The corners of Lester's mouth twitch upwards. “The Minister was saying that it probably wasn't worth his time signing the paperwork, just as your message reached us. He laughed, sir. Mrs Granger-Weasley is going to be cross, though.”

Draco nods. “She always forgives Harry. I know we should be more by the book. We're getting there. When I was a lad, things at the Ministry were … well, you probably studied that at school. They are better now, even if they're not ideal.”

“Yes, sir. They're getting there, sir. Before I go, Mr Potter asked me to give you this.” Lester pulls a small metal trinket from his pocket. “One of his Aurors found it in the gutter at the crime scene. He's not sure it's related to the crime, and we've not found any evidence on it to link it to anyone, but he thought you might have time to see if the symbols on it connect to any Muggle organisation.”

“I'm on holiday,” Draco protests.

“Yes, sir, he said you'd say that, and that it would give you something to do when you got bored.”

Draco looks at the object. It's less than an inch long and more or less a shield shape. At some point in the past there has been an image etched on it, but it was been largely worn away. A deeper etching or engraving remains, two decorative letters, BC, interlinked. At the top, there is a hole, with scratching about it, Draco guesses from a ring that has attached the trinket to something. “I'll look into it,” he says. “But it would be faster to have Eccleston or Ackeley back at the Ministry take care of it. I'll drop it in tomorrow for them, and keep a copy for myself.”

“Thanks, sir. Right, I'm back in, see if I can convince Fotherington to let us out before nine.”

“Lester,” Draco stops him. “Sebastien's only a few years older than you. Just tell him to shut up when he bosses you about.”

“I would, sir, but I have the feeling that he's a contact worth cultivating. And also that he could do something ghastly to me with no way of it being traced back to him.”

Draco thinks for a moment. “He definitely has the technical skills, but it's not in his nature.”

“Good to know, sir. I'll see if I can bribe him with dinner at the pub.”

“Ask him about Alice Peters. And you can give him a few tips, you're back to seeing that girl of yours, aren't you?”

“Mari? Yes, we're thinking about moving in together.”

“Good for you, Lester. Right, off you go, I need to get to the hospital.”

“Say hello to Mr Weasley for me.”

Draco promises he will and shoos the young man out. While he has been busy, Helene has absconded, and it takes ten minutes and promises of a slap-up dinner before he can convince her to come to the hospital with him.

On arrival at St Mungo's, he is glad he has made the effort. Ron's room has been filled with bright blankets and little touches from home, there is a table near his bed piled high with treats, and he is surrounded by relatives and friends. One look at Rose's pinched and slightly panicked face tells Draco the full story.

“Oh now, this is ridiculous,” Helene declares. “Have all of you been sitting in here all day exuding your appalling Anglo-Saxon stench? This room smells of forced jollity and cabbage. Out! The lot of you! Out into the fresh air and a good walk! He's not dying! Out!”

Every face but Ron's and Hermione's gapes at Helene. Ron's is torn between laughter and worship, while Hermione is mouthing thank you. Molly Weasley starts to speak, but then thinks better of it and tuts disapprovingly instead, and begins clucking the children out while sundry brothers and other Weasley connections mutter, but depart before Helene can glare at them. In under a minute the room is down to Ron, Hermione, Helene and Draco, and Helene is flinging open windows to let the warm afternoon breeze in.

“There,” she says, satisfied. “Now, how are you feeling?”

Ron lets his laugh out. It is not the Weasley bellow that Draco has grown used to, but he is clearly stronger than yesterday. “Much better,” he says after a minute. “Now I can confess I feel wretched. I've been keeping a stiff upper lip since everyone rolled in at ten, it's been exhausting!”

Helene rummages in her small, fashionable purse and begins to extract large parcels from it. “Toiletries,” she says of the first one. “The expensive sort, because men never treat themselves, but it is pleasant to feel pampered when you are not well. Some sweet treats that you should hide for yourself and Hermione, Draco went to Paris this morning. And I hope you will forgive the familiarity, but I bought pyjamas. You are the same size as my father. Soft fine cotton for these warm days, and a pair of flannel ones in case it turns cold. When you are stuck in a bed for a few days, the fabric that is normally fine becomes stiff and unpleasant. These will be soothing. Shall I run you a bath?”

Hermione is laughing now. “Do,” she says, “he could do with one. And I'll wash your hair.” She addresses the last part of this to her husband. “You still smell like Thames, and it's not appealling.”

Helene is already in the bathroom, and the sound of running water is quickly heard.

“No wonder Scorpius has always been so perfectly ordered,” Ron observes.

“She doesn't like hospitals,” Draco explains. “They make her nervous and bossy.”

“Thank goodness, I've been smiling bravely all day and I just wanted to get clean and have a nap.”

“Why didn't you say?” Hermione asks, exasperated.

“Everyone was being so kind.”

Hermione throws her hands up in the air, and Draco smiles. He has been where Ron is, and knows the responsibility of the invalid to quell the worries of all their loved ones. In many ways, it is the easier place to be. Save for the pain, and the near-death.

Helene reappears. “Right. Not too hot, because it is a warm day and there's no point making you all sweaty. The towels were simply awful, but I had a few in my bag from home, so I've left them in there for you, as there is no reason you should suffer any more. Do you have any foods you would like, or novels you wish to read? I will tell everyone you are sleeping and not to be disturbed. What time should we bring the children in tomorrow?”

“Relax,” Ron tells her with a smile. “And thank you. Telling everyone I am asleep sounds like a terrific idea. Meanwhile, how have you been? Are you camping at the Manor with the marauding hordes?”

“I am considering it. Mr Potter is staying there, you know. He is always pleasant to look at. But then, I do not think he is there to see me, do you?”

Draco closes his eyes in the very faint hope he will open them and this conversation will not be happening around him.

Ron and Hermione laugh, and Ron insists Helene sit down so that they can chat briefly. “We hardly seem to actually talk, only exchange gossip about the children.”

“Well,” Helene says with a smile, “I am interested in fashion and the arts, you are interested in legal matters, and since so few designers and poets are arrested, we have had little to chat about.”

“Hermione's interested in fashion,” Ron says.

His wife pulls a face. “I'm theoretically interested in fashion. In practise, I have several nice frocks and then a whole lot of things that are easy to scramble into when running late.”

Helene laughs. “I know exactly what you mean. Do you know the trick? A lovely coat, or some accessories that you can throw on just before you Apparate. I match mine up into little sets and keep them together in separate drawers, that way it looks as though I have spent ages on something that takes a minute to take out and throw on.”

“I'll steal that idea,” Hermione says.

“Not at all, it's a gift. And are you staying here again tonight?”

Hermione nods. “I could go home, but I don't sleep well without snoring and muttering these days.”

“Then I hope you do not mind, but I have popped a few little things in for you, too.” From her purse she draws out a cache of toiletries, a fetching bathrobe and a pair of particularly foolish and high slippers. “Totally impractical, I know, but I thought they would make you both smile.”

“They're darling! Ooh! Is that some of Narcissa's skin cream?”

“Yes, she sends it with her love.”

“Do give her mine. She's terribly generous, it's so expensive, but worth it, just look at her.”

“She told me to tell you that they send her crates of it because she is so liberal with namedropping the brand among her friends, she is more than happy to share. And that I was to shake my head in disgust at the fact women have to be so much more conscious of their looks than men do, especially as we age.”

“Well, it is sexist,” says Ron, loyally.

“It is merely a sign that men are hopeless,” Helene teases. “If you had an ounce of care for us you would spend a fortune on potions to stay beautiful so that we would still enjoy looking at you when you are aged. Even the lovely Harry Potter is starting to crinkle around the edges, and soon I will have to make friends with younger men so I can look at them. Life is so tiresome.”

Her audience laughs, as she has meant them to, and Hermione tells her that she is dreadful. “But that's an excellent packing charm you've used,” she concedes.

“Surely you recognise it,” says Helene. “It's modified from the one you outlined in your article on the physics of space-altering charms.”

“You read that?”

“Naturally, my life is not entirely spent reading Sorcière a la mode, you know. But I thought that you could have gone further talking about compartmentalising within the altered space.”

Hermione nods. “Yes, I agree. I had to write to a very strict deadline and word count, and I'm still refining some of my thinking there. We should sit down and talk on it.”

“Absolutely. Should I steal you away from here for lunch tomorrow?”

“I should …”

“Go!” says Ron. “One of us has to get some fresh air this week. And it will be easier to convince my mother to leave if you do.”

Hermione pokes him in the arm. “I was going to say that I should go home and grab a change of clothes so I have something nice to wear.”

“Oh, good.”

“I will see you at one,” says Helene. “We should go now, leave you two to bathing. It is quite a large bath, I noticed.” To Draco's horror, she winks. Worse, Hermione winks back and Ron looks hopeful.

“See you both soon,” he says. “Talk more tomorrow. On trail of bad guys, hope to have result soon, good bye!”

Helene follows, and good byes are called after them. Once the door is closed, Draco kisses the top of his ex-wife's head. “You were magnificently mad,” he tells her. “Just what the doctor ordered. Now do you want me to call you a Knight Taxi or would you rather come back and stay with all of us? I will invite Harry swimming if you're at the manor, you could be in luck.”

She links her arm around his. “I think we should host a party. Invite all the Aurors and your good-looking Unspeakables, I know you have three or four. Oh, and that Nordic god of a curse-breaker, Amundsen.”

“He hates me.”

“Yes, but I feel sure he will like me given the chance. August, before the children go back to school. And it should be a fundraiser, why not for the hospital, since they spend so much time looking after your people. I will invite all my friends and they will donate large sums to stand near attractive, powerful men. And women, too. Clothilde in particular will pay for that.”

Draco has a momentary image of Helene's friend Clothilde meeting Hannah Abbott and can't quite decide if it could be a beautiful thing or a path to certain disaster.

“Anyway, I will come back to the manor with you. I would like to see our son and his young man. Is it really not an intrusion?”

“It's really not.”

Helene pats Draco's arm. “I like you so much better now we are divorced.”


***************************


Harry appears at Malfoy Manor well after the rest of the visiting party has decamped on adventure to rescue one of the aged peacocks from the top of the Crupmaster's cottage. Shouts of laughter have been drifting across the garden to where Draco is sitting in the conservatory for more than an hour now. The brisk trot of Harry's footsteps as they come through the house towards the door is not unexpected, but the time is.

“Sit down,” Draco says, as Harry comes through the door. “Everyone is outside, but we have supper for you if you want it. And there are even a few macarons left in that box – I hid it from mother.”

Harry drops into the other comfortable chair that looks out over the garden through the glass. He takes a macaron, and the glass of Ogden's Old Draco pours for him.

“Any results yet? Or have you spent the evening with Kingsley lecturing you on protocol?”

“Guess what was in those papers?” Harry asks.

“False leads?”

“That's what I was expecting,” Harry agrees, “but Lester, Fawcett and Fotherington went through them carefully and it's all authentic, incriminating stuff that ties in perfectly with the intelligence we've been able to piece together from every other direction. Fawcett's coordinating teams to go out and pick the culprits up tonight. They're probably bringing them in even now.”

“That's … unexpected.”

“Yes. And a deeply stupid thing for apparently smart people to have done. I am suspicious.”

Draco nods his agreement. “Still Muggle and wizarding details together?”

“Yes. And a much longer list of people who appear to have been roped into a scam to help fund the whole thing. Mostly Muggles, that list. They were promised excellent returns, but expected it to be made on a normal property development. Not rebuilding after a national disaster. I think that we can add fraud charges to the rest.”

“Good work. Have you found the one who's responsible for all those explosives?”

“We'll know tomorrow when we've interviewed them all. Tonight, Fawcett is pulling them out of their nice warm beds to get what sleep they can in Ministry cells, and we'll start fresh at nine.”

“If you get out of bed early enough.”

Harry leans out of his chair and looks around the conservatory.

“What are you doing?” Draco asks after a moment.

“I'm finding it hard to believe that no one has walked in just as you said something that sounds compromising.”

Draco smiles ruefully. “It's your ears, Potter. They take these perfectly normal, ordered statements and turn them into crazy talk.”

“It's the universe, convincing everyone we're shagging until you give in and decide we ought to be.”

Draco smiles and shakes his head. “Really, it's a wonder Lily has any manners at all. She must have inherited them from her mother. Though it's clear James takes after you.”

“James?” Harry laughs. “That little monkey had a harem of girlfriends when he was four and at Miss Miggle's Magical Nursery.”

“You're right. Clearly you are nothing alike, my chaste friend. By my count you’ve only ever kissed three people.”

“I’ve kissed more than three people,” Harry protests.

Draco cannot help himself. “Oh yes? My count has you at Cho, Ginny and me. And I am not talking pecks on cheeks. Go on, I want names.”

Harry takes a slug of his drink. “Ron,” he says.

“Ron?!”

“It was a long time ago. We were drunk, Hermione slipped me five Galleons. We’re not allowed to talk about it.”

“Confirms everything I ever thought about the three of you.” Draco thinks for a moment before he adds: “Especially Granger.”

“It was horrible,” Harry muses. “He kept swilling his mouth out with whisky – which was clearly an over-reaction, it's not as though I used tongue – and she laughed so hard she fell off her chair.”

Draco knows how Hermione felt; he has dropped his own head back against his chair and is laughing immoderately.

“Later on, I asked Hermione if she'd had any vague ideas of a threesome, and she just started laughing again. Actual tears ran down her face. She's one of my very best friends, but I'll never fully understand how her mind works.”

“Never change, Harry,” Draco gasps, clutching his sides.

Harry smiles as he stands up. He ruffles Draco's hair in passing. “I won't. I'm off to grab some food, then bed. Oh, hello Mrs Malfoy.”

Of course.

“Hello, Harry,” says Narcissa. “I thought I'd see if I could snaffle any more macarons before I turned in myself.”

"That's early for you, usually you're up late teaching my children how to do something astronomical or astronomically expensive."

"I still say that James would make an excellent racing flyer, and it would only cost about one hundred thousand Galleons to set up an international league." She is teasing, and Harry laughs agreeably.

"Leave it to him in your will," he suggests.

"Oh he'll be ancient by then," Narcissa counters. "Off you go, I am going to sit with my son."

"Good night, then."

"Night, Harry," Draco calls, pushing away the vague idea he had of following him for a spot of supper, because his mother will never believe that he didn't continue following Harry for the bed part of the evening. "You're a dreadful old woman," he tells her.

"I know!" She peers about until she spots the patisserie box that Draco has not hidden well enough. "But you have to admit, as bad influences go, I am a benign and charming one."

"You are," Draco agrees. "Even if you are one who has almond sugar crusting the front of her robes."

"Be quiet, or I shall start forgetting your name and feigning incontinence. And since my clothes are far too nice, that will involve chamber pots and effort and you know how much I hate that sort of thing."

"Not just a spell?"

"Oh Darling, who has a spell for manufacturing urine?"

After a pause, they both say "George Weasley" together and laugh quietly.

"How is Ronald Weasley?" Narcissa asks. "Helene said he looked tired and drawn, but as though he will recover. Is that right?"

Draco nods. "It will take a little time, but he'll be fine."

"Is Hermione well? Did Helene pass on my best wishes?"

"She is, and Helene did. Hermione was thrilled about the skin cream, she was touched you thought of her."

Narcissa smiles. "And what about Harry?"

"He's upset, thinks that Ron being hurt is his fault somehow. And this case keeps getting stupider. Now it looks as though there are Muggles involved, so we'll need to see if anyone's been breaching the Statute of Secrecy, as well as everything else. It's a lot to juggle."

"That's not what I meant." Narcissa reaches across the space between their chairs and takes Draco's hand. "That man loves you"

"He …"

Draco starts again. "It's complicated, Mother. There was a thing, and then there was another thing, and now we're both middle-aged and alone and he thinks it would be a good idea, but I think he's probably just lonely and harking back to high points of his youth. And since there were only about three of those, it's all completely out of proportion."

"You love him."

"I love a lot of people. At least ten. Certainly nine."

"Draco, why do you make things so difficult?"

"It's how I was raised." Narcissa squeezes his hand and shakes her head at him, so he tells her the truth. "I don't want things to change"

"Why would they change?"

"I loved Helene, now we're divorced."

"So? You were in love, you had a beautiful life together and a wonderful son, you grew apart, and now you are marvellous friends."

"You forgot the part where we were vicious and hateful to each other. If it hadn't been for Scorpius, I'm not sure we ever would have spoken again."

"So? You and Harry will argue, it's what you do. Your sons will insist you keep talking, even if you come together and then move apart again. You're inventing difficulties."

"Mother …" Draco sighs. "Please. I'm happy with things as they are. I know what I'm doing."

This squeeze of his hand has a different feel, Draco knows it is his mother's version of an apology. Out across the garden comes the tortured scream of a peacock that has been rescued from a spot it did not particularly wish to be rescued from.

"Should we head down and see who's been pecked?" Narcissa asks.

Draco stands and offers her his arm. "My money is on Hugo, especially given I suspect he was the one who spelled the damned thing up there in the first place."

"I have always meant to get rid of them, but nostalgia stops me every time."

Draco smiles. "They make us look tremendously sane by comparison."

Narcissa's laughter drifts back towards the house through the open garden door for at least a full minute.


***************************


Thursdays are usually quiet days in Draco's life. When there are no unexpected disasters to occupy his time, they tend to be days of peaceful research and paperwork at the Ministry. So it is a minor shock to the system to find himself in charge of six unruly young people in Diagon Alley.

"Fortescue's!" Lily is demanding. Despite the eponymous ice-cream manufacturer having not been seen for a quarter century, the parlour still bears its old name, and every year or two the Prophet reports a possible sighting of Florean.

Rose and James support Lily's plan, as it will allow them to sit together with ankles entwined for a good half hour. Hugo is loudly complaining that he has developed lactose intolerance, while Scorpius and Albus are agitating for a visit to Abercrombie's Astronomy Market.

Draco cuts them off. "Ice-creams first, sorbet for Hugo, then you can all have some shopping time, while I hide."

The sundaes have only just made it to the table when Fotherington bursts through the door. Draco ducks under the table, but he is too late, and is rewarded with the sight of an upside-down Fotherington looking at him below the tabletop, concerned.

"Have you lost something, sir?"

"I'm on holiday," Draco complains.

"Yes, sir, I'm here for ice-cream for me and Lester. We're still working our way through all those papers."

"Oh." Draco looks at his shoe. "Excellent! Laces still tight, I was worried." He takes the conversation back above board. "I thought you'd established that the papers were all authentic and suspects had been hauled in accordingly."

"Yes, sir, but I think there's more information we can learn from them. Doesn't it bother you that they exist at all? And that they were so conveniently there?"

Draco can't help himself. "It does."

"I'm heading back to do some analysis now. And I've been working on the explosives, too. I'll let you know my findings as soon as I have them if you'll tell me where you're off to next."

Scorpius is shaking his head, but Albus and James have that Pottery look about them, where things can be put to one side for the sake of a case and no one thinks it odd. "I'm on holiday," Draco repeats weakly.

"Dad," Scorpius says, resigned. "We're old enough to take care of ourselves. We can shop for a few hours. I won't tell Mum. And we'll all keep Lily and Hugo from destroying anything."

Draco frowns. Then looks from Rose and James to Scorpius and Albus. "You four are going to pair off, one set of you take Lily and the other Hugo."

"Dibs Lily," says Rose quickly.

Hugo isn't even surprised.

Draco turns back to Fotherington. "I'm going to finish eating, then I'll pop by the Ministry to see how you're going. Try not to get dairy product over any of the more expensive instruments."

"No sir. Hope to have some results for you by the time you get there."

"Good lad. Off you go."

James waits until Fotherington has picked up his order and left before he speaks. "Should we be worried?"

"Of course not. Why would you think that?"

"Only your person mentioned explosives."

Draco nods. "Fotherington is one of my leading young researchers. We're working on a case for your father where some wizards and some Muggles seem to have planned a crime together. There were some explosives left at one of the crime scenes, but it's nothing to be worried about."

"Is this connected to the attack at the Barrier?" Albus asks.

"It is. It looks as though either that conspiracy was broader than most members realised, or else there was another one behind it."

"Why did they have explosives?" Scorpius asks.

"To get rid of evidence," Draco replies quickly. "That's all." And while that may not be wholly true, it is close enough.

Scorpius looks at him closely. "So they're not targetting anyone?"

"Sometimes criminals are just in it for the classic motives, Scorpius. In this case it was money. Certainly there could have been an horrific death toll, but we were lucky. Now it's just a case of unwinding all the threads and catching all the culprits. Unspeakables will find the clues, the Aurors will go out on the hunt, and Legal will ensure that the criminals are locked away. Nothing to fret about for any of you, only for them. It's not always a personal vendetta, son."

"Not always," Scorpius smiles.

"Eat up, your sundae is melting."

A good three-quarters of an hour pass before Draco makes it into the Ministry.

As he comes out of the lift, he runs into Bakhtin and Amundsen battling each other with brooms. They pause in their fencing to let him pass through the corridor.

"Aren't you on holiday?" Amundsen asks, as Draco goes to open the door.

"Yes, but you're not."

"Testing an hypothesis," says Bakhtin quickly. "You inspired us at the Barrier and now we are trying to see whether Amundsen is correct when he postulates that physical danger focusses the mind."

"Get back to work soon, or I will administer a more effective experimental model," Draco says, stepping through.

The Entrance Chamber spins about him and he steps through the door that leads to the Room of Futures.

“Sir!” Fotherington's voice sings out the minute Draco walks in.

“Any results, Fotherington?”

“The test results are just in. The paper is Muggle, but the ink isn't.”

Draco stops. "Magical ink? But you said the documents were real."

"They are, sir."

Lester joins in. "We've checked them against the bank records and titles, every single one of them is authentic, it's just …"

"They were printed using a wand, not a printer," Fotherington finishes.

Draco comes over to look at their results. "So, what, someone's gone to a Muggle's house and stood there spelling information out of a computer?"

"They might have, sir, but they could have done it even more easily." Fotherington holds up the ballpoint pen that he insists is faster than a quill. “You could copy everything that was in those files wirelessly onto the key in this pen 25,000 times, at least, and all in about two seconds. There's probably a spell for doing that, but I've never bothered to find out because it's so easy to just use technology. Then you can take it anywhere you like. As for printing it out, all you'd need to do is encode computer styles into your spell, otherwise it's as simple as an Automatic Letter Charm.”

"What about the explosives?"

"They're one hundred per cent Muggle," Fotherington says. "The detonators are a bit old-fashioned, though the plastic explosive is new. Fawcett is off with Muggle Liaison now, talking to their police about where someone would source that sort of thing. He says it's likely that they will be able to come up with a very short list of suspects."

"Excellent work," says Draco. "I'm very impressed with both of you, and with Fawcett."

Lester beams. Fotherington frowns. "Really?"

"Yes, Sebastien."

"But we haven't solved the case yet."

Draco shakes his head. "Relax, you young perfectionist. Cases aren't solved by single discoveries. They're solved by the piling up of facts. You've given us some excellent details today. Both of you have."

Fotherington smiles then.

"I do praise him occasionally," Draco tells Lester.

"You do," Fotherington agrees. "Last December and the March before that."

Draco holds in a laugh. "That was remiss of me, Sebastien. I meant to praise you on Tuesday, too. You did excellent work at the Barrier."

"That's a significant increase in praise frequency, sir."

"Try not to let it go to your head. Right. Thanks for the update. Can the two of you write up your report and get copies off to Harry and whoever's running Legal while Granger-Weasley is away?"

"Savage, sir," says Lester.

"Really?" The word slips out. "No wonder you're trailing after me, Lester."

"Oh that's instructions, sir. When all this turned out not to have any connection to my Spanish case, he told me to make sure you and Mr Potter didn't accidentally kill anyone."

"We never kill people," Draco protests.

"No, but I was also to look out for maiming, terrifying, detaining and dropping off things."

"Savage can talk, he was all over the plan to use Abbott in the Hindley interrogation."

"Yes, sir, that's just this side of ethical, according to Mr Savage. I'm to make sure everyone stays on the right side."

"We …" Draco is about to protest when he remembers what he had wanted to do to Hindley's face the other night. He has always been able to stop himself, as has Harry, but perhaps one of the reasons they can is that they know there are eyes watching. This is, after all, what the Ministry should be. Accountable, self-policing, and all those other words he has used in meetings since he became a department head. "We appreciate the extra set of eyes. And the help along the way."

Lester smiles. "Thank you, sir. I'll be sure to tell Mr Savage."

"And I'll let Mrs Granger-Weasley know her lectures on procedure have actually had an effect in her department. She'll be thrilled."

Lester pretends he is hurt, but Draco catches the smile before the younger man looks away.

"When we tested the explosives …" Fotherington begins.

Draco cuts him off. "You what?"

"Tested the explosives, sir."

"Here? In the Ministry? Muggle explosives?"

"Just a very small amount. In a safety chamber. I did loads of research to make sure it was safe first."

"Fotherington …"

"Are you taking back the praise, sir?"

"Just tell me what you discovered."

Fotherington walks over to the other side of the room, where a small cube of transparent material stands, its inside smeared with black residue. "I modified the detonator to work on a timer and used one fiftieth of the explosive amount that was in each original charge."

"And?"

"And that house would have been blown to smithereens, along with several on either side. But the detonators are very robust and hard to set off unless you're really trying, so I'm not certain it was actually meant to blow up. I had an idea for another test … "

"Sebastien," Draco keeps his voice calm. "Did you keep all the explosives from that house?"

"Oh no, sir, that wouldn't be safe. I only took one charge and three detonators." Fotherington pulls a bag out from under the table behind them and opens it to show his stash. "Fawcett handed over the rest to the Muggles for safe disposal."

Draco holds out his hand, and Fotherington gives him the bag.

"I've written up a report, sir," Fotherington says in a small voice.

"Thank you. And don't be nervous, I'm disappointed in Lester, not in you. You were acting in the proper spirit of scientific inquiry, whereas Lester should know better. What did you use to make the box?"

Fotherington pulls his report from the table behind him, cheerful again. "Some of the MPP that came in for trial. Its stronger than we thought it would be, so if you can hold it together with a charm from the outside, it makes a good testing vessel."

"MPP?" asks Lester.

"Magic-Proof Polymer," Draco explains. "It's spelled to create an area that stops all magic inside an enclosed zone, while not affecting what happens outside the enclosure. We've been warding off areas so that we can use Muggle tech inside the Ministry, but it takes up a lot of time and energy. A room of MPP will give us all the research space we need. And, apparently, solve some of our other testing difficulties as well. Good work, Fotherington, no you can't have your bag back."

Draco shrinks the bag, and Fotherington's report, and pops them both into his pocket. "I'm off to find a band of ravening adolescents. Anything else you need before I'm gone?"

"Are you going back to Wiltshire? I'm still working on the ink. Where should we send updates if we have any?"

"I'm going to pop in and say hello to Ron first, then I'll be home with the hordes. Try to keep it to a minimum, I'm on holiday. And yes, I will say hello to the Weasleys for both of you."

Amundsen and Bakhtin are still battling as Draco leaves the office, but, as a mark of respect, they have brought out a junior researcher to take notes.


***************************

Part 3bii (because word limits are evil!)
 
 
 
Azure Jane Lunatic: bomb techazurelunatic on June 15th, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC)
*cackling* Peacocks on the roof!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 16th, 2010 01:09 pm (UTC)
I have lived in a few houses that had peacocks: the urge to slaughter the buggers is universal after a few nights of deathly shrieking. All that pretty tail flumphing is simply a technique to distract humans on missions of murder ;-)
Azure Jane Lunaticazurelunatic on June 24th, 2010 06:51 am (UTC)
My aunt (Aunt-Fayoumis, the less-local of my two paternal aunts) has a peacock who got dubbed with a very inelegant name due to his habit of shrieking for his mother in the middle of the night ... while perched on the roof ... underneath the bedroom window.
(Deleted comment)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 16th, 2010 01:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you, dear! *Smooches back*
ladyjanevaladyjaneva on June 16th, 2010 05:52 pm (UTC)
"Hugo is loudly complaining that he has developed lactose intolerance"

I heart you for including that!!! Hugo has my utmost sympathies.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 18th, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
I have to confess, it was written after an ill-advised hot chocolate ;-)
jolinar_rosha: kirk loljolinar_rosha on June 16th, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
“No, sir, it's absolutely the blue wire, see how the little light on the detonator is blinking, now I cast the spell, now I cut the wire, now I take the spell off and it's stopped blinking?”

Draco forces himself to wait a moment and level his voice before he says, “Fotherington, why would you take the spell off?”

“To check I cut the right


This had me basically rolling. :D

and no matter how many chapters I read, I *still* can't believe how absolutely *brilliant* your writing style is. I bow to your awesomeness.

I was going to read both parts together, but in the middle of my reading this a huge cockroach walked in ('cause my mother had forgotten to close the veranda door). So the monster had to be slayed - and now it's late.
damn.

oh well, at least the reading yuminess will last longer this way. :D
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 18th, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
You are the most fabulous antidote to writerly blues! Thank you! And EEEEK! to the cockroach. Snakes, spiders, sharks, I am fine, cockroaches see me run shrieking!

(And you just know that would be what Fotherington would do, and be staggered that anyone would think it improper ;-))
grey_hunter on June 19th, 2010 10:28 am (UTC)
I haven't read the chapter because I'm waiting for the fic to be completed but if you post as html and not as rich text, you can easily post up to ~11000 words in one post. Copy/pasting into rich text reduces word count because it also transfers invisible formatting characters (not just italics - try saving anything into html format from word and open it in a text editor and you'll see how much unnecessary junk there is in it). You'll need to put in the tags for italics and bold and whatever else you want (easily done with mass-replace and the application of macros) but if you click auto format then you won't have to bother with the tags for line breaks at least.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 19th, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
I do for the story bodies, but the C&P of headers has been my nemesis. I'll give it a go for the next one! (Assuming it's that long. Which it probably will be ...)
grey_hunter on June 19th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
Assuming it's that long. Which it probably will be ...

Which is one of its appeals. Because I am a total size queen. ^^ (Everyone should be in at least one aspect of one's life.)
Loyaulte Me Lie: Hermione gave upshocolate on June 21st, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
“Ron?!”

“It was a long time ago. We were drunk, Hermione slipped me five Galleons. We’re not allowed to talk about it.”


You spoil me!!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 21st, 2010 07:45 pm (UTC)
I wrote that bit two years ago, and knew it would come towards the end. Since you have been reading this I have been longing to find its natural home, and did a small dance of much joy when it came about!
Loyaulte Me Lie: Hermione gave upshocolate on June 21st, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)
*is predictable*

I do like Hermione's reaction.
sevs_babesevs_babe on July 8th, 2010 04:35 am (UTC)
Hello! I'm a former lurker, that has now vowed to let authors know when I think they have written great stories! And you are one such author!

your post epilogue world is amazing. The level of detail and craft you put into your stories is just,...guh!

Your blend of detail and dialogue is just perfect in how I like a story. Your OCs as well as the old ones are so believable and all flow perfectly.

Thank you for not making Ron an idiot, (some people don't realize that he had to grow up some time), Not making James a dumb jock bully, and making Narcissa actually likeable! I could go on and on here...

I think you managed to avoid the cliches of next-gen because you built your universe so quickly after HP&DH came out, and boy am I glad for it!

This is a refreshing read, that pulls me emotionally in many ways, and hope that I don't have to lurk for another 2 years to see if the boys, excuse me, the men, can stop being gits and finally get together! :)

simply put, you are awesome in ways I can only hope to be.

Cheers!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 26th, 2010 07:21 am (UTC)
ARGH! I suck! Thank you for leaving such a lovely, encouraging and kind comment, and I am so sorry that I totally failed to respond to it. I can only plead absolute lack of organisational ability (which may well come as no surprise to you at all). I use up all of my functionality at work, alas. The end is being worked on with gusto at the moment, so I hope to have it up soon, and you are most thoroughly awesome! Your kindness and encouragement are magnificent and qualities in all too short supply in the modern world.
lotus_lizzylotus_lizzy on July 14th, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
Glad to have caught up with this series! You have such a way with words and phrases that I spend most of the time amused at Harry and Draco and forget there is an actual plot there! <3 Glad you've written another chapter and I can't wait for the next one!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 26th, 2010 07:24 am (UTC)
Oh Lizzy, I am the pooest responder to comments in the world!!! But thank you, dear. More story coming soon, am just flicking through to remind myself of small side plot lines I need to wrap up!
red_day_dawningred_day_dawning on November 28th, 2010 05:38 am (UTC)
I love this story! Adored the prequel, but was so hoping that Harry and Draco would spring into bed/love/romance, so this is marvelous. You write stories that make me smile. And snigger, chuckle and smirk.

In a rather random aside, do you know how terrifying I found Helene's gallic efficiency here? "Do you know the trick? A lovely coat, or some accessories that you can throw on just before you Apparate. I match mine up into little sets and keep them together in separate drawers, that way it looks as though I have spent ages on something that takes a minute to take out and throw on.” I have to concentrate to be sure my socks match (and sometimes they don't.)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on November 28th, 2010 05:46 am (UTC)
One of the advantages of having terribly ill behaved parents is that there is often an ex-girlfriend of either my father or mother who I can use as the basis for side characters. This characteristic of Helene's comes from one of Dad's old gfs, and she confided to me both this trick and the fact that three or four times a year you should take out every accessory you owned and rearrange them so that it all looked fresh and new.

I applauded her genius at the same time as accepting I would be one of those women who had an entire wardrobe that would fit in two drawers and a shelf, plus a handful of character-filled jewellery pieces and scarves ;-)

As to odd socks -- many of the coolest people I know are never seen in anything but! (And thank you!)
brighterlovebrighterlove on March 30th, 2012 09:33 am (UTC)
lmao! This is just hilarious, I want to live in your universe, clearly since I should be asleep.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on March 30th, 2012 11:47 am (UTC)
GO TO BED! The internet will almost certainly survive the night. (And if solar flares or Russian cyberactivists do their worst, it'll be back up by Sunday.) But thank you, there's nothing a comic writer appreciates more than a good off-laughed arse!