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14 July 2010 @ 11:59 pm
Fathers, part 3c(ii)  

The Lemberg house is an imposing pile near Hainault Forest. Despite its high gates and electronic security, the two men Apparate to a point near the front door, and Harry takes the steps in a brisk leap before rapping with the knocker. The door swings in a little as he knocks.

A voice rings out from inside "Yes? What is it?"

"Mr Lemberg? Jonathan Lemberg?" Harry calls.

"Yes, who's there? And how did you get through the gate?"

"I was wondering if we could have a word about your cousins, Gallium and Aquila?"

Draco is impressed. When required, Harry can be veritably stealthy. They can hear a throat being cleared.

"Ah. Right. Do you mind letting yourselves in? I'm just in the middle of something very tricky here. To your left as you come through the door, straight through, I'm in the study."

Harry and Draco come through into the room indicated. The curtains are drawn and it takes them a moment to make out the figure sitting at the desk with a finger raised in the widely recognised gesture of 'just a second', phone held to his ear with the other hand.

Two things happen at once, then. The door slams shut behind them, and Draco notices that the finger is taped to a stick and the phone is taped to (the very dead) Jonathan Lemberg's head. Immediately after that the large number of things that Draco has shrunk into his robe pockets start falling out through the ripped seams and Harry throws himself at the door.

"Damn!" says Harry, and throws himself at the door again. It continues to not move. "OPEN UP!" he shouts to the outside. There is no reply.

"No no no …" Draco mutters looking down at the pile of items on the floor. He looks up sharply and pushes his way past Harry to the door. There he runs his fingers across the smooth surface, which continues along the walls with a barely visible crack.

"No!" he repeats, before climbing onto the low bookshelves near the door and reaching up to examine the ceiling. He jumps down and pulls back the carpet.

"Fuck! Buggering cunting fuck!"

He drops the carpet and looks up. Harry is looking down at him, and his face is not a picture of composure.

"Language, Malfoy," says Harry, making an effort to use a light tone.

Draco takes a moment to think. "All right." He takes a breath. "All right. I should mention that I learned every one of those words from working with your Aurors. We have a serious situation here. That pile of stuff on the floor is everything I've stowed in my pockets this week. The Shrinking Charms have been cancelled because this room is lined with MPP."

Harry nods to show that he is following. "What's MPP?"

"Magic-Proof Polymer. Fotherington was blathering on about Muggle blast boxes one day and it occurred to me that rather than have to keep warding off that section of the Room of Futures to use Muggle tech, we could build a little room inside it, so he and I cobbled this together from a thing he designed called a polymer and some spellcraft I created. We thought it might come in handy for your lot as shields in an emergency situation, too, because it will soak up a hex thrown straight at it. But if you make a box, it cancels out all the magic in the area enclosed by the box."

Harry takes a deep breath. "You invented this."

"Yes."

"A material that takes away the ability of a witch or wizard to do magic."

Draco smiles weakly. "You're going to laugh, but it had never occurred to me that someone would think to do something like this with it."

"Well, how did it get here?" Harry's eyes open wider as his brain supplies the answer before Draco can speak. "This is what was stolen from George's. Why didn't you tell me?"

"Speke listed it in his report!" Draco protests.

"But not what it meant." Harry leans against the door. "Bloody hell. All right. Well, Fotherington knows where we are, at least. So what else can you tell me about this stuff, is it strong? Does it protect us as much as trap us?"

Draco shrugs. "It's about as strong as timber, but we usually reinforce it with spells on the outside. You can make it virtually airtight if you do the seams well."

Harry's eyes widen and he looks to the door. The cracks are minuscule, and the MPP overlaps between door and jamb. "On the upside, it's a large room," he says, turning to Draco. "Ten by twelve metres, I would say, and that ceiling is over three metres. We should be good for a couple of days, if not more. And Lemberg over there doesn't smell too badly, at least."

Draco is walking around the room examining the walls and pulls up sharply as he nears the desk.

"What is it?" Harry demands, striding to his side.

"I fear we have more like two hours," Draco says quietly.

A belt of wires encircles the dead man's waist, attached to a complex mechanism and what Draco recognises as a similar explosive to that seen at the Bell Road house. The mechanism features an unsubtle numerical display on the front, which is helpfully labelled in hours, minutes and seconds, and moving inexorably downwards.

"Explosives again?" Harry exclaims.

Draco shrugs. "It answers the question of whether this is all connected, at least." To be strictly correct, he adds, "Probably."

Harry pulls his wand from his pocket and aims it at the door, fiercely muttering a spell. And for an absurd moment, Draco hopes.

"That was stupid," Harry says, quietly, when nothing happens.

"Not at all. If anyone could find a flaw, it would be you," Draco reassures him. "But let's see if they've left any weak points we can physically batter through. The MPP is only as strong as whatever is holding it in place."

They spend the next twenty minutes manhandling shelves and carpets about the place, searching for weak points in the structure. A marble bust on a side table is converted into a handy battering ram, but the MPP is backed with thick oak timbers through much of the room and smooth stone on the exterior walls. At the windows, where Draco had real hopes, a strong spell is securing it from the outside. They do not move the body in its chair, but every other part of the room is looked over closely.

"Nothing," Harry says.

"I'm going to look at the bomb," Draco replies. Fotherington's lessons from earlier in the week are still clear in his mind, and he has even glanced over the more detailed diagrams that were included in the report. There is a paper knife, and a good pair of steel scissors on the desk, and he suspects that he may have one of Fotherington's multi-pronged tools back in the pile of pocket refuse.

He starts at the timer and follows the wires out.

He changes tack, and moves to the detonators.

Frustrated, he turns his attention to the plastic explosive, but it is wrapped around the other components in a way that offers no simple solution. He touches a finger gently to it, the smell is exactly the same as that he encountered before, but there seems to be at least as much in this one bundle as there had been scattered in small charges about the East Molesey house.

"Can you disarm it?" Harry asks. He has not moved from his place on the other side of the room, and so has missed much of Draco's head shaking.

Draco makes sure he is smiling brightly as he stands up and turns around. "Sadly, no. But I have solved a couple of other problems." He picks up a small cube from the desk. "This looks like one of the speakers the young folk in Futures play music through, I think the voice we heard was transmitted out of it. So whoever closed the door must have been watching and listening from outside."

Harry goes and bangs on the door roughly again. When nothing happens, he begins to kick it, and then fling himself bodily against it.

Draco gives him a moment to work out his anger, but when Harry continues, he moves quickly to stop him. "You are going to hurt yourself. Use your head. If you had planted a large bomb and trapped your enemies in a room with it, surely you'd take the opportunity to get as far away as you could rather than waiting around to see what happens."

"I prefer villains who stand around, gloating," Harry mutters, aware he has been foolish.

"Yes, well, not everyone is as ridiculous as Voldemort," Draco tells him, and is pleased to see Harry smile.

"You said 'trapped your enemies'," says Harry.

"I did. I've solved the case."

Draco goes back to the desk and picks up a large framed photograph. "This is the late Mr Lemberg," he says, pointing at the figure on the left. "This woman who is wearing a wedding band that matches his is Lucrezia Byford, who died some years ago, and this man on her other side is Martyn Byford."

Harry frowns. "That name is familiar."

"His son, Terrance Byford, tried to kill your son at school and ended up nearly killing mine."

Harry's mouth opens, but there are no words.

Draco knows how he feels. It had been the worst week of his life, watching his son pale and still in a hospital bed after an adolescent attempt at a deadly hex had come close to succeeding. The only consolations had been Scorpius's thorough recovery and Harry's constant support. The Byford boy had been sent down immediately. Draco had heard rumours he had been tutored at home before being sent to Durmstrang. He had thought nothing of him for years.

"You think …" Harry says at last.

Draco snorts. "There are limits to the possibilities of coincidence. I think that everything was designed to bring us to this point. There was every reason to suspect that we would thwart the Barrier attack, everything since has led us directly here. Lemberg was probably happy to help for the money, never suspecting that he was just another cog in the gears."

"So …"

"So that sense of being at the centre of the universe that I have always mocked in you may be slightly less delusional than I have made out," Draco says with an attempt at levity.

Harry sits down heavily on the floor.

Draco smiles. “Chin up, we’re not dead yet.” He looks around again. An unexpected exit does not appear. “All right,” he concedes, keeping his voice light. “We might be just a bit fucked.”

Harry shakes his head. “I’m so sorry,” he says, quietly.

“It’s fine,” Draco replies, automatically, scanning the wall yet again. After a few minutes, he realises that Harry hasn’t answered. He looks down. Harry is frowning.

“It’s not fine,” Harry says. “I think I’ve managed to get us both killed.”

Draco knows it’s technically true, but he’s not interested in admitting it. “I take it this means you don’t have a brilliant secret plan. Up to me as usual.”

“I should never have involved you … You're not an Auror, you're an Unspeakable. You belong at the Ministry, not gadding about after lunatics.”

“Well, someone has to look out for you while Ron's sick. Anyway, I chose to be here,” Draco says, coming to kneel beside his friend.

“Because you trusted me.”

“Still do. Listen …” Draco takes Harry’s chin in his hand and refuses to let him look away. “Listen. If we die today, and I am by no means certain we will, but if we do, our children are mostly grown, our ex-wives are brilliant and capable, our families have extensive support systems, and we’ll have left them all bucketloads of gold. We've also left the world a better place, and filled with people who count themselves our friends and loved ones. If this is all we get to do, we’ve done well. So shut up.”

Harry’s frown softens into sorrow. “If we die today, I’ll have killed you.”

“Merlin you’re an idiot,” says Draco. "We're not going to die." And although he knows it's probably not the best choice, it’s his, so he leans forward and presses his lips gently against Harry’s, and then more firmly, and he is amazed at how familiar it feels at the same time as being wholly unlike kissing the trembling lips of a terrified eighteen year old.

Draco feels Harry’s hands slip around his shoulders, and one of them tangles its fingers in his hair. Of course they’re not going to die, he thinks. Who dies when they have Harry’s hand in their hair?

After a long moment, Draco leans back. For some odd reason, he seems to have forgotten to breathe. Harry is looking at him with a familiar amusement.

“Does this mean you have a plan?” Harry asks.

“Oh yes.”

“And yet you just kissed me, which we’ve already established is confined to situations involving almost certain death.”

“Yes. It’s not a very good plan.”

At that, Harry’s face crinkles up with a proper smile. "All right then, tell me what to do."

They spend five minutes sorting through the materials that were previously in Draco's pockets, plus what can be scavenged from Lemberg's desk and around the study. The most promising elements are arrayed on the desk itself: one charge of explosive, three detonators, Fotherington's report and his fiddly pliers-and-things tool, along with scissors, a paper knife, lengths of cord and the speaker.

"Obviously," says Draco, "what I am really hoping for is that Lester realises we're not back, calls Fotherington, and mounts a rescue party at some point in the next sixty-eight minutes. But failing that, the door is the only weak point, and if we can blow it out without setting off the main charge, I think it will allow us to disarm the bomb magically."

"All right." Harry nods. "Do you know how to make a bomb?"

"Sort of. And Fortherington wrote a comprehensive appendix in his report. What I'm not entirely certain of is how much of the explosive to use: too little and it won't work, too much and I'll blow us up anyway."

"Right. What about detonating it?"

"I can cannibalise the wires from two of the detonators to add to the third and trigger it from as far away as we can manage."

"That's good! Now how do we stop the main bomb from going off?"

"We're going to need to build a bunker over here, to protect the bomb and us."

Harry blinks a few times. "The bomb and us?"

"Yes, we'll be tucked down beside it, that way we can maximise the amount of protection for everything that needs shielding rather than splitting it up. If I fail, at least we'll go quickly."

"Can't die," says Harry with a wink. "Haven't managed enough snogging. Am I right in assuming you'll be building the bomb and I'll be building the barrier?"

"You are." And because they might be about to die, Draco indulges himself and winks back. And because he would rather not, he then scoops up his materials and arranges them on the low bookshelf by the door and gets to work as swiftly and smoothly as possible.

Fotherington's notes are a good guide, but not exact, and he has no way of measuring. About half the window charge seems appropriate, so he breaks it off and rolls it out into a fine sausage. Sebastien has written that a quill thickness seems the minimum desirable, so Draco makes sure the sausage is twice this, then separates it into three. He sticks one down firmly over the door's lock, clearly visible through the MPP. Then the other two are added over the hinges.

He disassembles the first detonator, pulling out the wires and small charge in the correct order. The blue wire is discarded, but the other two are cut in half, then each has its insulating cover scraped back at both ends, exposing the metal beneath. Draco plunges sets of ends and their accompanying small charges into each of the hinge explosives, leaving the other ends free. He repeats the wire removal from the second detonator and twists matching raw ends together into colour-coded Y's before sinking the bare junctures into the plastic over the lock and smoothing the explosive on top of it, along with the charge from the last detonator.

The remaining free ends are hooked up to wires of the last detonator and he packs his tools into his remaining pockets and tucks Fotherington's report under his arm. So focussed has Draco been on his work that when he turns around, he is amazed at the transformation of the room.

Harry has turned the desk on its side and buttressed it with overturned bookshelves. The many books have been packed into the cavity behind the desk, like nothing so much as printed sandbags. Unwilling to move Lemberg from his chair, Harry has dropped the height on the gas lift so that only the man's head protrudes above the bunker. The desk's drawer-filled legs are braced against the wall, and two sturdy oak bookshelves bracket it and provide some cover above, another is laid down in front, higher than the desk, to provide a little more protection.

Draco steps across to find that Lemberg has been packed in place with the heaviest books around his explosive garment, and that a space just big enough for two grown men remains beside the wall.

"Will it work?" Harry asks him, nervously.

Draco nods. "It has to. And look, there's just enough wire to get in there comfortably, so I can detonate it manually."

Harry eyes the door arrangement. "Will the electricity split off between the charges?"

"I think so. And if not, the percussive force of the first charge going off ought to be enough to set off the last." Draco tucks the remaining plastic in under the books on Lemberg's lap, grimly aware that it could mean the difference here as well as at the door.

"After you," he says, gesturing Harry into their makeshift bunker.

"After you," Harry insists.

Draco shakes his head. "No, I need to be able to get out quickly if things go slightly wrong, so I can fix them."

Harry looks as though he will argue, but years of field operations have left him with a clear sense of the necessary, so instead he climbs in, drawing his wand to be ready should all go to plan.

Draco follows, arranging himself with his back to the books, for greatest protection. Harry has his back to the wall, which is foolish, really, but Draco cannot bring himself to ask for a rearrangement. If he is to die, it should be looking at something he has …

"Draco?"

"Yes?"

"There are twelve minutes left. Do you want to wait a bit longer in case there is a team on its way, or should we try now and leave the maximum amount of time for a second try if it's possible?"

"Now," Draco says immediately. "It's far more sensible." He runs through his mental checklist one last time. He thinks they have done enough to live. Certainly he’s run out of reasons not to fire the detonators. For good or bad, this is it. Except …

“Harry?”

“Are you all right? What can I do?"

“Yes,” says Draco.

“Yes?”

“Yes.” Draco looks at him meaningly. Harry’s eyebrows raise.

“Oh, yes. I see.” Harry grins hopefully. “Is that a yes for after we get out of here?”

“No, because if we get out of here, it will go back to being a terrible idea. But it’s a yes for if we’d run out of options and were doomed to die, I know how I’d prefer to use our last twelve minutes.”

“Oh.” Harry appears to think for a moment. “You mentioned at the start this was a bad plan.”

“Shut up, Potter,” says Draco. He reaches out with his free arm to pull Harry close and cradle him tightly against his chest. Pressing them both against each other and the wall, he breaks the detonator's circuit.


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


On for part 3d
 
 
Current Location: still sofa
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: Mumford and Sons
 
 
 
wemysswemyss on July 14th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
Brilliant as ever.
You remain incomparable.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 10:09 am (UTC)
Re: Brilliant as ever.
You are far too kind.

(And you made me smile, as Mr Brammers and I have a longstanding joke whenever be buys a fantasy novel that has 'Comparable to Tolkien at his best' on the cover. Obviously, the two of us chorus 'This is not particularly good'. We're cheap dates ;-)
Azure Jane Lunaticazurelunatic on July 14th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
CLIFF. HANG. ER. *flails*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 10:12 am (UTC)
But no lorries! I will try to get the end up by Harry's birthday.
(no subject) - neensz on December 9th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Ali: Harry Potteralicambs on July 14th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
As cliff hangers go, this is a humdinger!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 10:13 am (UTC)
My passionate love for a good explosion comes in handy sometimes ;-)
Alexisjapanimecrazed on July 14th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, you're evil! This is great!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 10:50 am (UTC)
I was practicing my cackling at work today. The juniors fled. (Smart juniors!) Thank you!
being_herebeing_here on July 14th, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
Why do you stop there? WHY???

(when is the next bit pls???)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 10:51 am (UTC)
Because I am evil!

I am hoping to have the conclusion up for Harry's birthday. And then I will take to drink!
spirillen: spririllenspirillen on July 14th, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Message from a long term lurker
This! Talk about a cliffhanger.

"I prefer villains who stand around, gloating" - this line just kills me!

Thank you, am greatly looking forward to the next installment! I have been checking your journal every day, mind if I friend you as I rather enjoy your non-ficcy posts too.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 11:33 am (UTC)
Re: Message from a long term lurker
Hello! Lovely to meet you. I would love it if you friended me, in fact, I've friended you as you seem so very nice!

And I am attempting to get the end up by Harry's birthday. It is possible this will happen. It is also possible that my history of LJ tardiness combined with my ghastly new job will render this plan something I pretend never to have heard of ;-)
Re: Message from a long term lurker - spirillen on July 18th, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
ladyjanevaladyjaneva on July 14th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
You evil evil person, a cliffhanger like that!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 11:37 am (UTC)
I cannot tell you how very tempted I was to add a bit more snogging and then end the whole story at that point!
(Deleted comment)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 11:47 am (UTC)
HEE! I love your Amy Pond icon! Young Amy rocks! And thank you very much, you're such a supportive person and it really does buoy me up after a tiring year!
Shezanshezan on July 14th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, LOVELY!!!!!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 12:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Jamfranalan on July 14th, 2010 10:51 pm (UTC)
You are just wonderful. And that is one hell of a cliff hanger!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 12:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks, dear! I will try to have the next part up in the not too distant future!
This Girlthisgirl_is on July 15th, 2010 12:24 am (UTC)
*dead of cliffhanger*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
DON'T BE DEAD! *Sends convenient JKR-style plot twist to make it all just a brief time in a waiting room*
(no subject) - thisgirl_is on July 23rd, 2010 05:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on July 23rd, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Meredyth: Draco's Not Impressedmeredyth_13 on July 15th, 2010 04:03 am (UTC)
THAT'S IT!!!

I'm calling in the ninja dog squad and attack kitty response team, AND my team of sleeper agents!

Should I mention that I know where Ersko is, and I'm fully prepared to send out teams of cute dogs and lost looking kitties until I track you down?

MORE!!!!!!!!

Oh, and in case you were wondering - this is brilliant! Still. Always. Forever.


<3 x 98792387498274982739483798
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
Oh god, woman, there are SO many cute dogs and cats around here that it is all I can do to not have a house over-run with wide-eyed long-haired creatures! And no jokes about doppelgangers!

And hurrah! I can't believe the end is in sight! (And still suspect it will throw up another plot twist and I will find myself slugging through an unexpected 30,000 words ...)
(no subject) - meredyth_13 on July 16th, 2010 01:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on July 16th, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
germankitty: hp dalek patronusgermankitty on July 15th, 2010 07:57 am (UTC)
I absolutely ADORE this!

Your Mature!Draco and Mature!Harry are awesome (liek, bestest EVAH!), their working relationship is beyond words, and even without the Al/Scorp background I just love the whole concept of the various kids and their assorted friends hanging out at the respective houses so casually. Everything is so refreshingly NORMAL, yanno?

I also like it very much that the younger generation (from H/R/G and D onwards) have no (or very little) problems with integrating the Muggle and Wizarding world as they need -- a logical step, IMO.

And that cliffhanger is JUST EVIL!!!

blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! The normality is exactly what Draco wants to hold onto, despite the temptations of changing things ... And YES, with a world less confronting to the Muggle-born, I feel certain that it would only be a matter of time before some of the kids were bunking off to the edge of the Forbidden Forest to see if they could pick up a wireless signal.
powerflower11powerflower11 on July 15th, 2010 12:19 pm (UTC)
Suspense! Awesome read as always, thanks for that! Can't wait for part 4 - or is it part 3d? ;)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 15th, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
3d! It's a three-part story, honest! And you're very welcome!
mahaliemmahaliem on July 15th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC)
This is so very, very good.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 16th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much.