?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
16 February 2014 @ 02:09 am
Fic: A Young Radical's Guide to Love part 1  
Nothing to see here if you read this in 2012's HD Holidays, just posting so that I have everything on my LJ.

And yes, I do still owe several 'extras' to people. You are not forgotten! You are behind nursedarry's second sock, though. Damn lace patterns! And taradiane, I await only a week when I have time to get to the post office and no heatwave to finally send you a box full of chocs. One of us has been living in melty weather for most of the last year!

Author: blamebrampton
Recipient: cassie_black12
Title: A Young Radical’s Guide to Love
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, Ron/Hermione, Luna/Neville, Ginny/Dean, George/Angelina
Summary: Memories of the war are still fresh, which is all the excuse Decent People need to do appalling things. In this quietly waged conflict, Draco Malfoy is happy to be on the right side of things for once, and even happier to find he’s not alone.
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): None
Epilogue compliant? No. Set shortly after the end of the Second Voldemort War.
Word Count: about 66,000
Author's Notes: This was such a brilliantly modded fest, it was a joy to be involved. And I was so happy to receive cassie_black12 as my giftee, she is so lovely! jadzialove and raitala rescued me from the worst of my typos, though I am sure I managed to insert a few more, my brain and hands aren't talking to each other these days.

And for the trainspotters amongst us, this story is set in 2000, during the St Pancras Upgrade, while the Eurostar was still leaving from Waterloo International, which is nowhere near as sexy as the new station!






A Young Radical's Guide to Love

i. Draco







Draco was there when they came for Pansy.

He did not hesitate, just grabbed her arm and Disapparated at the first glimpse of red robes through the window.

She hit him as soon as they came to a stop near the secret greenhouses in Kew Gardens. “Draco! What are you …”

“Aurors,” he gasped, and her mouth opened to protest, while he realised that there could be wizards nearby and Disapparated them again.

This time they appeared in drizzling Penzance, outside a steamy-windowed cafe he had once sat in for no better reason than he was certain no one there had ever seen him before. He had passed a remarkable four hours at the height of the war, seeing no one he even vaguely recognised.

“Do you have Muggle money?” he asked her quickly.

“No, I … Draco, why me?!” Pansy wailed quietly. “I haven’t done anything!”

Draco reached into his pockets and pulled out a fold of papers. “There’s three hundred pounds there,” he said, grateful for his mother’s planning. “They have the right numbers on them, so you can just read them. Have some breakfast here, I’ve eaten the food, it’s good, proper stuff. They take your orders and leave your bill at your table here, just like in Florean’s. Have a long breakfast, then go for a wander and buy a change of clothes. Things you wouldn’t usually wear. Try not to spend it all. I’ll be back as soon as I can. Before night. Mother will come if I can’t.”

“Where are you going?” Pansy asked quickly, hiding the panic he could see in her eyes.

“When you’re not at home, they’ll look for you at the manor. I have to be there.”

She nodded. “Go.”

“Will you be all right?”

She smiled bravely. “It’s just Muggles. What can they do? I’ll be fine. Go.”

He did.

Mother was in her library when Draco ran in. “I never left,” he told her, snatching up a book on potions from a pile he had left near the door. “I’ve been with you all morning.”

“Who?” she asked, concise and with forced calm.

“Pansy. Safe in a cafe in Penzance. You’ll need to find her if they take me in, she’ll be shopping for clothes.”

His mother nodded. “Robe off,” she said.

Draco tossed the book onto the chair beside his mother’s, whipped off his robe and called a house-elf to return it to his room. He sat down and began to read with concentration.

It took longer than he expected. Nearly thirty minutes had passed before another house-elf announced visitors. The Aurors had followed the elf through the house, which spoke to a lack of breeding, but waited outside the door to be announced, which suggested this was just an investigative call and that no-one had seen Draco in the five minutes he’d been at Pansy’s.

And, indeed, the “Good morning, Mrs Malfoy, we were hoping Mr Malfoy could spare a minute to help us with our enquiries?” with which the lead Auror entered the room set the tone for what followed.

Draco was all apologies: hadn’t left the house, had seen Pansy earlier in the week, she seemed well, had they tried Madame Malkin’s? Pans was known as a keen follower of fashion. His mother charmingly regretted that the two of them had decided on such a lazy morning and wished she could be of more help. She hoped everything was all right, there wasn’t anything serious to worry about, was there?

Not at all, they were assured. A purely routine enquiry. Hopes Miss Parkinson could assist with an ongoing case. Cards were exchanged with a request to let them know if they saw Pansy and a gentle suggestion that it would be to her benefit to clear all this up as soon as possible, not that ‘this’ was anything to be concerned about.

They politely refused Narcissa’s offer of tea, and thanked Draco for his assistance. Hands were shaken, and the same house-elf appeared to escort them – from the premises, as Draco put it in his head – and Draco sat down quietly to read.

After fifteen minutes, his mother reached over to pat his arm. “I’d better go and check your father missed the presence of Aurors before he takes it as an excuse to have firewhisky for breakfast. Again.”

Draco smiled weakly up at her. “I’ll give it another hour,” he said, quietly. In theory, the manor was impervious to Listening Charms, but he had learned caution and the Aurors could have left anything in their wake. There was no time to sweep for new magic now, it took a solid block of time and required concentration, and he had neither.

“If you’re gone before I come back, I may be out this afternoon, there’s some paperwork I need to see someone about.”

Draco nodded, understanding her meaning, and smiled gratefully at her.

When the time came, he went via the Ministry. As a ‘vital part of the Post-War Reconciliation programme’, he had an office.

In reality it was a converted storage room from the old International Magical Office of Law, which had moved to the new side of the Ministry when the new departments moved in. And he was less ‘vital’ than a handy figurehead. Junior Undersecretary for the Department of Domestic Magical Cooperation was Ministry shorthand for the chap we trot out whenever we want to make it look as though no one is holding any grudges since the war.

A fading poster greeted him as he walked into DMC. His own face, smiling tightly, alongside Potter’s, on which there was at least a vague expression of amusement, their hands shaking firmly in the lower half of the frame. Potter had listened politely to the publicity flunky who had suggested the image, refrained from laughing, even when Draco had been unable to hold in his spluttered “Really?!”, posed for the one, perfect shot, and left without chatting.

Draco had been almost grateful.

The powers that be had plastered the pair of them all over the Ministry and Diagon Alley for months. Draco had never been so grateful to live in Wiltshire and have a job that required very little actual work. The image was made doubly strange by the fact that he and Potter had, without speaking, agreed to avoid each other in reality, which had led to a very easy working environment. Draco was actually grateful for that.

The department’s administrative assistant was in his seat. Draco could never remember if it was Wallingham or Wellingham, and apparently was not alone, as there was a helpful sign stating ‘Broderick Wellingham’ on the front of the man’s desk.

Wellingham glanced up, surprised. “Mr Malfoy, sorry, I didn’t know you had anything on today …”

Draco waved him down. “It’s fine, I don’t. Just in to pick up my hate letters.”

Wellingham laughed politely, but nervously. Draco wasn’t really joking. For every “It’s wonderful to see that anyone can change” he had received – usually from lovely old witches hoping he might see his way to subscribing to their Home for Lost Kneazles, there were three or four that began with the wish to see him and his whole bloody family in Azkaban and went downhill from there.

It was a small price to pay. Agreeing to that poster and the rest had kept his father free. He had thought, for a while, that it had also signalled a genuine shift in the way things worked. A fresh start, without ‘sides’.

Idiot.

There was not much in the way of post. One was, thoughtfully, a card, so he could see the “Die Scum” without a return address and pop it into the bin immediately.

“Unpunctuated,” he commented to Wellingham, who had doubtless already read it.

“It’s shameful,” Wellingham muttered with some sympathy.

“I’d expect a comma, at least. Still, it would be worse to be loathed by competent people,” Draco said.

“They don’t loathe you, Mr Malfoy,” said Wellingham supportively – Draco caused very little work in the department. “You’re not like the others.”

And Draco smiled, and thanked him, and said goodbye, knowing that of course he was, especially now.

There weren’t many people in the corridors, and only one in the lift. Brown. Some sort of cousin of Lavender’s. Decent witch, in all senses of the phrase. She nodded a greeting, he smiled back.

“Good to see you,” she said. And Draco supposed that it would be, if you trusted that his continued presence in the Ministry meant things were genuinely working, genuinely different this time.

If he had courage, or a conscience, he would walk away and let them come for him next. But he had acid fear in his stomach and a left knee that wanted nothing more than to twitch convulsively, so he stood heavily on that leg and told Brown that it was good to see her, too, and who did she favour in the Quidditch this weekend?

She was skilled enough at social chit-chat to see them through all floors to the lobby, where he winked and whispered he was off for a quick fly since there was minimal work for him and she rolled her eyes and told him he was a jammy git and could come and help her out with paperwork whenever he felt the urge. But she walked alongside him to the fireplace, and he was profoundly glad of it because it meant he could pretend he didn’t see Percy Weasley, which meant he didn’t have to acknowledge the flash of contempt that always preceded Weasley’s own pretence that he could not see Draco.

“You should come along one lunch,” he told Brown. “I’ve got a spare broom …”

“If I ever get an hour for lunch. You should see the amount of forms this new visa system’s created.”

Draco smiled. “Now I feel guilty. I’ll come and give you a hand next time I’m in.”

And Brown’s eyebrows lifted, but she smiled in return. “Malfoy, if you’re serious, it would be brilliant. Give me advance warning and I’ll buy pastries on my way in.”

“You’re on, Brown!” Draco said, alive to the possibilities of the word ‘visa’. He stepped into the Floo, then out on Diagon Alley, where he was careful to be seen buying broom cleaner, before Apparating to Reading, where he spent a quarter hour looking pensively at random graves, before Apparating to Bournemouth, where he walked and stretched and checked the wind and limbered up as one might if one were contemplating an afternoon on a broom, and when he had been doing this for half an hour and attracted no attention beyond an Muggle walking his dog and commenting that it was nice to see a young person getting a spot of exercise despite the bad weather, he decided to risk it and Apparated to Penzance.

Pansy was in a dress shop when Draco found her. She was holding a plunging evening dress up against her in a mirror, but when Draco rolled his eyes, she showed him a dressing room full of demure skirts and jackets that she had previously selected.

“I thought I’d try on one nice thing,” she said. “Given I was still waiting for you. But now you’re here, I’ll pop it back.”

Draco shook his head. “Don’t be silly, Pans. Try it on. We’ve got time.” And he laughed at her cheeky grin and decided that he would come back and buy it for her, because she would need something to make her happy, wherever she ended up.

As it was, they bought her a plain tweed skirt and sensible shirt, with an oilskin jacket to pop over them both and knickers and tights for underneath. They were last season’s styles, from the sale rack, so there was money left over, even though Pansy had also had a good morning tea.

“I was nervous, so I ate cakes. It seemed like the best decision.”

“It was. Don’t fret about it.” Draco slipped an arm around her shoulders as they walked along the high street. The plastic of her shopping bags felt slippery in his right hand, but she was warm and tailored under his left. “In fact, we should have lunch.”

“We should get going,” Pansy corrected him. “I need to find somewhere to hide. Do you have a plan?”

“I do. Mother will be off buying you a fake passport this afternoon and I’m going to see my contact for more Muggle money. You’ll need to fill in a few hours, but then I’ll take you to London and get you onto the train to Paris. They’ll be doing what they can to monitor Portkeys and the Cross-Channel Conveyances, but they won’t be expecting us to use the Muggle routes. The worst we can expect is that they’ll have a list with names and photos, which we can get around.”

“Do you think they’ll be looking for me?” Pansy asked, and he could hear the effort she took to keep her voice level.

“They’re looking for dozens of people, so we’re best off keeping low-key. Thorfinn Rowle’s still out there. They’re keen to get their hands on him. And Walden Macnair, they have to be looking for him.”

“And Theodore Nott,” Pansy reminded him.

“We don’t know where Theo is. Anyway, he’s just wanted to answer a few questions,” Draco tried.

“Like me,” Pansy said, refusing to pretend. “Like Blaise. And he’s been there for eleven days. I should have gone with Millie when I had the chance.”

Draco didn’t say anything. They had both told Millicent that she was being ridiculous, scaremongering and playing to the worst political prejudices. She had left anyway. And when they had taken Blaise in, he and Pansy had told each other that it really was just for questioning this time, and he had even managed to see him on day two, and he was well and in good spirits, and then he was ‘unavailable’, and people in the Ministry changed the topic quickly.

“Do you think I should buy a headscarf?” Pansy asked. “Cover up my hair. I could wear one of those wrap-around ones the Muslim ladies wear, though I’d need a longer skirt or trousers.”

“I was thinking Polyjuice,” Draco replied. “Someone about your size so you don’t have to worry about changing clothes. And if we find someone with your hair colour, it won’t matter if you change back on the train, because the other passengers will only have a vague idea what you look like, anyway. We can put a temporary charm on your passport photo, which will wear off at the same rate as the Polyjuice. Or you could go to Brussels if you prefer.”

“Paris. Better range of options for the next leg. I was thinking Spain, or maybe Switzerland – possibly Buenos Aires. And Polyjuice is a good idea. There are lots of brunettes about my size. Have you been brewing in advance?”

Draco wasn’t sure what to tell her. That he had put an escape plan in place even before Voldemort lost? That he some days felt so ill at ease in his own skin that he would happily exchange it for anyone else’s, if only to escape the looks of pity and contempt – sometimes mingled – for an afternoon?

He lied. “I was worried after the war, that my friends wouldn’t be safe. Once they finished arresting Snatchers and started arresting relatives and friends, I stepped up production. I was too slow to help Theo or Blaise, but I haven’t made the same mistake with you.”

And she snuggled against his side and wrapped her arm around his waist. He kissed the top of her head. He might not see her again for years after today. The thought flooded him with a mix of loss and nostalgic affection. He started talking before he began thinking, “You could go tomorrow. We could stay here tonight, there are plenty of hotels.”

Pansy stopped walking at that, but quickly replaced her surprised face with an amused one and grinned up at him. “I’d have taken you up on that a few years ago. Was dying to, at the time. Now I’m reasonably convinced that your half-hearted snogging was symptomatic of half-hearted heterosexuality.”

Draco blushed.

“And while I do love you and your pretty, pointy face, I’d hate to redefine our friendship with bad sex at this point.”

“It might be fabulous,” Draco insisted.

“I’m sure you’d be a tiger,” Pansy winked, “but the whole time I’d be wondering if you were thinking of Theodore.”

“I never even snogged him!” Draco laughed.

“Three photos of him in your notebook,” she reminded him.

“It was a boyish infatuation,” he said, trying not to laugh any more.

“It was a sign,” Pansy corrected him, and Draco gave in.

He folded her in his arms. “I’m going to miss you so much.”

“I’m not dying. I’m only going to Zurich. Or Buenos Aires. It will be fine, if a bit dull. No-one ever dies of boredom, they just say that.” And for all that she kept her voice light and teasing, there were tears in her eyes when she stepped back. “So. This Muggle money you’re obtaining on my behalf. You’re not robbing a bank, are you?”

“Perfectly legal methods,” Draco assured her.

“All right then. Let’s go down to the water and get something to eat. Then I’ll buy something to read and sit around looking poetic until you return and we stick one up the bloody Ministry.”

And Draco rested his forehead on hers for a moment and did as she suggested. He even let Pansy choose where they lunched, and ate the greasy fish and chips she ordered for him. She smiled when he promised to be back in less than two hours, and told him she wouldn’t panic until it had passed three.

Obtaining Muggle money legally was surprisingly simple once you understood that non-magical artefacts could be sold on the open market if they had a provenance, and to ‘specialist purveyors’ for slightly smaller sums if they did not. Mother had agreed that they had no need for a good many things that littered their home, so Draco spent the early afternoon liberating a particularly ugly trio of Meissen parrots, for what he suspected was at best half their actual value, despite the bill of sale to his Grandfather Abraxas, dated 1937. Still, it netted him £2500 and that was more than enough for ready cash.

What had shocked him, when they first began hoarding pounds, was how many of their possessions passed without comment in the Muggle world. Draco knew that many witches and wizards had achieved fame and been mistaken for Muggles through the centuries, but he was almost afraid to try and uncover whether that was the case in these instances, or whether his family had actually amassed a collection of genuinely Muggle items, valuing them even as they insisted their creators lacked value.

He most certainly did not ask his mother, who was waiting for him at home. “Everything all right, Draco?” she asked.

“Fine, thanks, Mother.”

“Marvellous. I picked up that book you were looking for while I was out today. On the green table in the hall, wrapped in red paper.”

He kissed her cheek. “You’re a treasure. Are you and Father in for the rest of the day?”

“I think so. You?”

“One more errand, off to see if I can make a deal on a vintage broom – it’s a 1926 Stickleberry Flyer, allegedly with the original bristles, which would make the asking price very attractive.”

“Promise me you won’t take off on a big flight,” Narcissa said, frowning subtext.

“The smallest of jaunts, and only if it’s safe,” Draco replied, honestly. “I’ll be home to eat with you.”

“Off you go then.” She hugged him briefly and he took a deep breath of her violet fragrance, as he did every time they said goodbye, in case he would need memories later.

The parcel was waiting for him, as she had said. He dashed upstairs and collected a few vials of potion from his room, then reached into the back of his wardrobe and withdrew a Muggle coat he had folded away under a pile of boots. A quick run through his mental checklist assured him he had not forgotten anything, and it was back to Penzance. By way of Teddington, Canterbury and Lewes.




~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~




Pansy was waiting for him, sitting under a graffitied brick shelter down by the sea and reading a Muggle magazine. She smiled as she saw him, relief and affection shifting the look of habitual ennui from her face.

“What on earth are you reading, Pans?” he asked as he sat beside her.

“I genuinely have no idea,” she answered. “These people seem to write about other people who wear dresses and have boyfriends. I had no idea being a Muggle was so easy, I could do it standing on my head.”

Draco flicked through a few pages. “I think these are the Celestina Warbecks of the Muggle world.”

Pansy looked over his shoulder. “You’re probably right. Shame, I quite like that frock, and thought those ones were hilarious. So. Are we off?”

Draco nodded. He pulled Pansy’s passport out of his pocket, along with her train ticket and a wallet full of cash, and one of the vials. “I’ve spelled it to change your name, it will revert when you tell it to. There’s a credit card in the holder, too, and one for a cashpoint. You’ll need to find a machine with this symbol, but I’m told they’re reasonably common. I’ve changed the names on them just like on your passport. You sign for the credit card – sign here on the back tomorrow when it goes back – and you punch in a number for the cashpoint one. I used my birthday. I went with Pandora Packer, so you’ll be likely to answer. Should be enough to fool any Muggle machines that might be looking for you.”

“Surely the Ministry won’t have …”

“I don’t know.” Draco shrugged. “I know they have links with the Muggle legal system, I don’t know what’s considered important enough to take advantage of them. Anyway, let’s find someone likely that we can pinch a hair from.”

Pansy grinned. “I am way ahead of you.” She produced a folded handkerchief, containing one black hair. “Was chatting with a shopgirl about my size and she thought I was ever so sweet for plucking it off her shoulder. Said she was a terrible moulter and it was so embarrassing. She ended up giving me a ten per cent discount on a lipstick, it was a fabulous bonding experience. I’m so very good at this hiding in plain sight thing.”

“You’re a genius,” Draco agreed, taking the hair. He dropped it into the vial, in which the brown liquid turned a pretty shade of rose, stoppered it, and passed it to her. “Give that a good shake.”

He took another, smaller, vial of liquid from his pocket, followed by one containing a single pale hair. He added the latter to the former, and shook it until its liquid was a uniform sky blue. “Right,” he said. “Let’s go find somewhere quiet, swallow these down and be on our way.”

Pansy smiled bravely. “Let’s.” She stood up and picked up a soft canvas bag that was stuffed rather full. “I popped into a few more charity shops,” she admitted, catching his glance. “You can get a lot for not very much!”

“Very sensible,” Draco told her. “You’ll look very authentic to the passport people.”

“I even bought a toothbrush, toothpaste and shampoo. And a lipstick. Because if I were a Muggle, I’d need them, according to someone called Liz Hurley and her Top Travel Packing Tips. Apparently I also need a sarong, but I have no idea what that is, so bugger it.”

Draco put an arm around her shoulders. She was really going. “You’re going to do brilliantly,” he said, rather than I’ll miss you. Take me with you.

“Will the passport people ask me why I’m going to Paris?” she asked.

“They might,” he answered, unwilling to admit that he had no idea.

“I’ll say to see the museums. And I know they have forms to fill in, so I’ll just read them carefully to make sure I do and say the right thing.”

“That’s my Pans. It’s a new passport, so you can just say this is your first trip.”

She nodded. They were in a quiet little street now, with a dark gap between buildings that was a perfect Apparation point. Without talking, they unstoppered their vials and drank down the contents. Draco’s tasted oddly like mint tea.

“Right,” said Draco, looking away so that he would not see Pansy’s face shift before him, aware he should have taken one last good look before it did. “Right. That’s that. Give me your vial, I’ll take them home. Hold on to my arm. Are you OK? Right then –” he took a deep breath – “Off to Waterloo.”

They appeared under a tree in a grove to the north of St Thomas’s Hospital, deep in shadow, where any young couple might have ducked for a moment of private passion. Draco was holding Pansy so tightly that any Muggle looking would have looked away politely, perhaps with an indulgent smile.

“Give me your bag,” he said. “I can at least be a gentleman until we have to part.”

She smiled up at him and handed it over. “I quite like this face,” she said. “I see what you mean about choosing people like us, I can wholly believe that’s your body.”

“He’s a dancer in a modern Belgian company that I met in a bar,” Draco confessed.

“Slumming it with the Muggles?”

“Hiding with the Muggles. And this one was very handsome and bought me two drinks in an attempt to weaken my virtue.”

Pansy grinned. “Did it work?”

“It would have, if I had any virtue to weaken.”

“Do I look as pretty as you do?”

“Prettier,” Draco said with conviction. “Come on, you’re booked on the six o’clock and you have to get through the gates.”

He led the way up York Street, past the triumphant arch of Waterloo and into the arched glass extravagance of the international station. Muggles bustled past on all sides, all blissfully unconcerned with two disguised young people in their midst. Draco’s spirits began to lift. He would see Pansy safely off, then head home, having stopped to pay a ridiculous price for an antique broom. She would write to the post office box no one knew he had a key to, and he would find her in her safe new home, where he could flee once everyone was away from danger and they could … Could wait, hoping that one day things would change enough that they could come home.

He straightened his shoulders. Bugger the lot of them. If that’s what it took, then he would move to Buenos Aires or Zurich and be done with it.

Pansy’s grip on his hand tightened. “We go through there, where it says Departures, don’t we?”

“You do. I kiss you and wave goodbye. We’re in the right place. And we’re in good time. Don’t fret.”

“I’m not fretting, I’m being on time.”

And they both began to laugh at that, because in all probability it was the first time Pansy had been on time for anything in her life.

It was the laughter that nearly saved them. They had reached the queue for immigration and looked so at ease that the two Muggle-clothed Aurors patrolling the line walked straight past them, even as Draco recognised them for what they were: the tall one had been interrogating him only a few hours ago. Pansy followed his momentarily shocked gaze and stiffened.

“Don’t look,” Draco whispered.

“What do we do?” She didn’t move her lips.

“Wait. Stay in line. Hope for the best.”

“I want to run.”

Draco did, too, but for all that there were plenty of Muggles about, they were mostly queuing in an orderly fashion and there were plenty of uniformed men walking around among them. He was fairly certain that running would not be the right thing to do.

“They’re looking for us, we don’t look like us. We’ll be fine,” he said, with more conviction than he felt.

And then one of the Aurors surreptitiously drew out his wand, and Draco knew that he would have a spell to reveal other wands in the vicinity – because it’s what he would have done in his place – and he was torn between simply Disapparating them both and running off alone, so that Pansy could escape to safety, and before he could make up his mind, a hand closed around his elbow and a voice said “The newsstand? You’ve walked straight past it, sir. I’m headed that way myself, let me show you.” And when he turned around, the voice belonged to Harry Potter, who had a tight grip on his arm.

Draco hesitated for a moment.

“I know it’s you, Malfoy, which means this is Parkinson and you have about ten seconds to trust me before Williamson finds out who you are,” Potter said without moving his lips.

Before Draco could protest, Pansy gave a terse nod. “Thank you so much, I was going to go mad with boredom, and I do want to see what Liz Hurley is wearing this week,” she said loudly.

Potter led them both away, muttering that he was helping some lost Muggles and would be five minutes as he passed his fellow Aurors.

Draco made an effort. “I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about,” he said.

“You’re wearing Dragonskin boots,” Potter said, quietly. “Everything else is very good, especially the coat. And Pansy’s outfit is perfect. Exactly right. But I know those boots. I’ve seen you wearing them in the Ministry.”

“Ah.”

“What are we trusting you to do, Potter?” Pansy asked.

“Get you out of here undetected.”

“I have a ticket for the train, and a passport,” she said, evenly.

“No good. MLE are convinced Death Eaters are using Muggle transport to leave the country. The trains, ferries and planes are all under surveillance.”

“I’m not a bloody Death Eater.” And her voice cracked a little there, though she kept her face still.

“I know,” Potter said and he walked a little faster.

“So where are you taking us?” Draco asked.

“WH Smith. After that, you can go wherever you like. But if you want me to help you, you’ll go to my house at Grimmauld Place. Do you know where it is?”

Draco nodded slightly. “I’ve been there before, when I was little.”

Potter scribbled on a piece of paper as they walked. He passed it to Draco. “Here, this will get you in. The password is ‘Augusta Longbottom’s Hat’.”

“And what do we do there?” Pansy asked.

“Wait. I won’t be long.”

“How are you going to explain us not coming back to the queue?”

“If anyone notices, I’ll tell them you were tourists and thought this was the train to Basingstoke.”

Draco couldn’t stop himself. “Why are you helping us?”

Potter shrugged.

Pansy answered for him. “It’s what he does, isn’t it? Don’t question, Draco, let’s buy a magazine, look lost and get out of here.”

“Sensible, Parkinson.” They were standing outside WH Smith now. “I have to go straight back, but I’ll leave here as soon as I can. There are a lot of us who don’t agree with what’s been going on, and we’ve started to put some plans in place. You’ll be safe.” He paused for a moment, then added, “Malfoy, you should drop Pansy off and then wait for me at the Ministry. You should be seen alone as much as you can today. We can come up with some rational reason why you’d be following me home later.”

“I can go to your house alone,” Pansy said.

And Draco was surprised to see a faint smile cross Potter’s face. “Best to take Malfoy with you. Hermione’s there, and she hates him less than she hates you.”

He was gone with that, walking back quickly to his two underlings who were still haunting the queue in the distance. He walked with that particular Auror stride, so that Draco could see where the red robe would be furling, despite the actual jeans and jumper.

“Do you have any change?” Pansy asked him. “I’ve spent most of mine, and I don’t want to pull out the bundle of notes you gave me.”

He looked down at her, confused.

“I’m buying magazines. If I’m going to be stuck sitting with Granger all afternoon, I’m going to need as many stupid dresses to laugh at as possible.”

Draco handed money over without looking at it. “Do you think he was telling the truth?” he asked.

“Definitely. Granger hates you on principle, she hates me personally.”

“About being safe.”

“He got us away from those Aurors.” She snatched up a selection of titles, most with exclamation marks involved and shuffled them over to the counter to pay. “And it’s not as if we have a lot of choice. I’m going to put my hope in him playing true to type and being revoltingly righteous about the whole thing. Right, I’m done. Are we going?”

Despite the attractiveness of Apparating to Inverness and finding a nice, quiet croft, Draco nodded. “We’re going.” He walked them back towards the domestic part of the station and then through the first exit, looking for a dark spot unpenetrated by CCTV. There he opened the fold of paper in his hand, read “Number 12 Grimmauld Place”, took Pansy’s arm and Apparated.

From the outside, the house was as he remembered it. A tall terrace, somewhat grim in demeanour and with severely outmoded window treatments. But the exterior stairs had been swept and there was, of all things, a potted ficus standing beside the door.

“Should we knock?” Pansy asked.

Draco thought for a moment. “I think we should just go in. If Potter’s let us in on the secret, that should be enough to get through the door.”

“Augusta Longbottom’s hat,” Pansy announced.

Nothing happened.

She shrugged, and twisted the doorknob. This more prosaic approach worked, and they both stepped inside.

“That was easy,” Draco said, grinning. “When do you think we say the …”

His tongue stilled. Dust gathered from the corners of the hallway, assembling into a form that was wretchedly familiar to Draco. He knew it from the first lines of the eyes, and then the whole face cohered, and a hand pointed an accusatory finger, and the mouth opened …

“Augusta Longbottom’s hat!” Pansy shouted.

The form of Albus Dumbledore dropped from the air. Behind it, a more tangible figure appeared.

She was holding a wand and pointing it at them.

“Knowing the password grants you five seconds to explain who the hell you are,” Granger said.

“Draco Malfoy,” Draco replied quickly.

She lowered the wand a little.

“Malfoy. And that’s?”

“Parkinson,” Pansy supplied. “Potter told us to come here.”

Granger looked anything but pleased.

“Polyjuice?” she asked. “Bloody hell. Harry could have let me know, I can’t even confirm it’s you.”

“You slapped me in the face once,” Draco offered.

“And I slipped a vial of stinking potion into your bag in second year,” Pansy added, Draco wasn’t sure that helped.

The wand dropped a fraction more.

“Are you both staying?”

“Potter told me to go back to the Ministry …” Draco began.

“Go.”

“I’ll just …”

“Go.” Granger’s voice made the command clear.

Draco turned to Pansy, who smiled bravely at him. “I’ll be fine,” she said. He squeezed her hand

“I’ll be back.”

And since there was nothing else to do, he ducked out the door, checked the road in both directions, and was about to Apparate to the Ministry when he remembered that he still had the wrong face on. In the end, he had walked a reasonable part of the way there before he caught a glimpse in a shop window and saw his own familiar pointy chin.





~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~>~





Part two
 
 
 
Loyaulte Me Lie: tell shocolateshocolate on February 15th, 2014 04:01 pm (UTC)
And for the trainspotters amongst us, this story is set in 2000, during the St Pancras Upgrade, while the Eurostar was still leaving from Waterloo International, which is nowhere near as sexy as the new station!

I love this note.
NathalieWeasleynathalieweasley on February 16th, 2014 01:12 am (UTC)
Damn. Here I was thinking you had written a sequel. :P I don't know if I ever commented on your original posting over at hd_holidays, but I loved this fic!

Off to re-read...
cassie_black: Love you more than...cassie_black12 on February 16th, 2014 11:59 am (UTC)
I still love you for this, just so you know ♥
Tarataradiane on February 24th, 2014 11:23 pm (UTC)
LOL no chocs necessary. Honestly. Please don't give it a moment's thought. :)