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05 June 2010 @ 01:39 pm
A day of sorrow and of fic! (aka Fathers 3a)  
raitala  is leaving fandom today. Or at least, over the next day or so, as she is travelling where connections are up and down and so are the chances to post to LJ, given how much else there is to do.

Her art has been a massive part of my fandom enjoyment over the last nearly three years, and I wanted to give her a little something. I asked her what she wanted, and she replied 'The same thing I have been asking for for two and a half years! Finish Fathers!' After spluttering that it had not been that long (it had) and that surely she would prefer something tiny and amusing (she wouldn't), I knuckled down to work.

It's still not quite finished, but it may well be before the end of the week at this rate. There was a brief period where I never thought I would say that, given that I was not allowed to pursue my alternate ending in which Harry and Draco finally pause to snog, only to be wiped out by an errant lorry. raitala  knows where I live, after all, and the fear of waking up with watercolour brushes up my nose was enough to convince me to stick to the original plan!

A little background for more recent friends: Fathers is my story with the stupidest title in the world, and it is so old, Astoria/Asteria still had no name in those days, so here she is Helene and French. It was written when norton_gale  asked me to continue a story called Sins of the Fathers, written in reponse to then sansa1970's lovely 20 Random Facts About Scorpius Malfoy. libby_drew , as sansa became, had a birthday yesterday, so dear, this is a bit of a present for you, too, And of course for Amber and everyone else who has been kind enough to wait patiently while I finish this beast. I notice that in the very first chapter of sins, I joked about my procrastinatory tactics and that I would have knitted a slip cover for the sofa, had I not written that. This month I have knitted three baby hats and two mittens in a bid to delay writing. Some things never change ...

Do drop over to rai's lj later today, as she will be partying there. As to why June 5, 2010, it's Draco Malfoy's canon birthday. Happy 30th, Draco. I never expected to find your pointy face as interesting as I did, but even very bad men deserve to have their capacities for growth and redemption investigated and encouraged. And you don't look a day over 25!

Title Fathers, Who Could Do With a Spot of Sinning, Part 3a/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 7887 (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.
The first scene was popped up on my lj in slightly rawer form a while back, but is here for inclusion in the main story body.
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.
And lasting love to raitala , who taught me the deep importance of cheekbones and armpit hair. Hush, she knows why that's an affectionate and not ridiculous thing to say!

Part 1

Part 2

The Welcome Witch seems less happy to see Draco this time. “It is very late,” she points out.

“Just here to pick up the children and give Mr Potter an update from the Auror office,” Draco replies

Mollified, she waves him through.

The hallway outside Ron’s room is quieter. There are two Aurors standing guard, Draco hands over the take-away that he has smuggled through and promises them drinks the following evening. They send him in; Ron is doing well and would like some company.

Draco enters the room quietly, but it quickly becomes apparent that Ron has plenty of company already. In addition to the six children snoozing on an expanded sofa, there is Hermione with Harry on one side of his bed, and Arthur and Molly Weasley on the other. Bill and Percy are standing with their parents, while George is at the foot of the bed, quietly acting out a complex tale, to judge by his hand gestures.

Ron spots him and waves him over. “The hero of the hour,” he says, grinning.

Draco shakes his head. “Hardly. Competent swimmer, perhaps. Everyone sends their love. Abbott wants you to know that she accidentally dropped your assailant twice as she was unloading him from the van.”

Ron grins. “Hannah loves me,” he tells Hermione.

“Hannah loves that you increase her pay every time she beats you in an arm wrestle,” Hermione tells Ron, smiling indulgently.

“And Fawcett asked me to check that your beautiful face had not been harmed.”

Both Ron and Hermione laugh at that.

Harry bites his bottom lip not asking questions, so Draco answers the ones he thinks will be uppermost in his mind. “We’ve convinced one of them to testify. He says we have all but a handful in custody, and he’s given names and addresses for the rest. Some of them are on the continent, Lester is hatching plans. Apparently they were looking to make a multi-billion Galleon profit in the rebuilding of the city.”

“Money?!” Ron is the first to give voice to his disgust. “Those twats were happy to kill me for cash?”

“You and thousands of others,” Hermione reminds him.

“Them too!”

Draco nods. “I’m afraid so. On the upside, no new crazed political movement, so that’s a nice change.”

Molly Weasley tuts loudly. “Stupid young people. Don’t they understand that after everything our generations went through they should be grateful they have their freedom and lives?”

“That includes freedom to cock things up, Mum,” Percy reminds her.

“Language,” she snaps, with what Draco recognises as a half-century of parenting habit. Percy pats her on the shoulder while she fusses with Ron’s pillows. She does not look around.

Draco smiles at Ron. “I’ve just come to pick up the kids, really. I’ll make sure they get a good night’s sleep and something nutritious in the morning before I bring yours back in.”

Ron smiles in reply. “Be a mate? Bring them all for a bit in the morning, then take them all back to your place. There’s no point having them here worrying all day when they could be out blowing things up and breaking their arms.”

“And that sudden flash of insight into your childhood makes me rather glad we couldn’t stand each other in those days,” Draco laughs.

Molly Weasley spins around and looks at Draco meaningly. He suddenly realises that banter between workmates may not translate to family members as she walks to his side and looks up at him.

After a moment’s peering, she speaks. “I want to apologise for misjudging you,” she says. “You have not been the man I thought you were for a long time.”

“Thank you,” he says in surprise.

She nods at him, then walks from the room. Arthur follows, patting Draco on the shoulder as he walks past. Draco looks around for an explanation.

“Closest you’ll ever get to a welcome to the family speech,” Ron tells him, grinning.

“Oh by all the Hogwarts ghosts,” sighs Draco. “Don’t tell me I’m a Weasel connection. I should have let you drown.”

Ron laughs. “Cheer up. Mum may be a handful, but Dad has an extensive collection of Muggle alcohols to go with his gadgets, and Charlie can dispose of any bodies you may have lying about.”

“Well, between that and Percy’s contacts, I suppose it’s not so bad a fate,” Draco muses.

“Don’t forget the sheer attractiveness of Bill and myself,” George chimes in.

“Yeah, sorry, you’re pleasant looking blokes, but it’s hard to look past Charlie,” Draco quips, raising a laugh from everyone except Harry, who pulls a face instead.

Draco moves to the position recently vacated by Molly and Arthur, and is pleased to see that Ron’s colour is good and his breathing even. But his hands move weakly and his legs aren’t even twitching. This is the first time Draco has seen Ron still, save for moments on jobs when he has sat in wait in a tension-filled crouch. It’s unnerving.

“How are you, Ron?” he asks. “Seriously.”

Ron nods. “A bit fucked. Legs aren’t working yet, will be a few weeks they say. Maybe two months before I can run again, three before I’m as strong. Arms work, but they feel pretty feeble. It’s like being the girliest girl ever.”

This last achieves its aim of shifting the morose expression from Hermione’s face. She sticks her tongue out instead.

Draco pats Ron’s arm. “You’re going to be all right, yeah?” He knows that this is not the best reassurance ever offered, but Weasley has a family for that.

“Yeah, I am. Cheers, mate.”

“You’re right. I was returning a favour, anyway.”

Ron laughs at this and turns to Harry. “See! Some people consider it manners to pay others back when they save their sorry white arses.”

Harry rolls his eyes. “Bloody hell, Ron, I saved the wizarding world, what more do you want?”

“Cake. And get-well chocolates.”

Hermione shakes her head. “Oh no. You can’t move, you’ll be the size of a house by the time you can walk again.”

“He can have a dose of our Confectionary Calorie Consumer,” George offers.

“Because diarrhoea is so pleasant when you’re unable to walk,” Bill adds sotto voce.

Ron takes Hermione’s hands in his. “I was thinking you’d help with my physical therapy, because you’d be an incentive as well as a hard taskmistress.”

“Right, visiting hours are over,” Percy announces briskly. “Nobody needs to see the two of you getting frisky.”

They laugh, but Percy is right, and Harry and Hermione are soon rousing the gaggle from the sofa – Lily mutters that she has actually been watching and listening the whole time.

“Draco,” Ron calls him over quietly while the others fuss around readying to leave. “Do me a favour?”

“Sure, what?”

“Take Harry home with you.”

Draco is very proud of his expression. It doesn’t change at all. It may hold for a trifle longer than is natural, but that’s another problem altogether.

Ron goes on. “He should be with you and the kids, you’ll distract him and keep him from brooding. He’d never ask, but I know he won’t want to be alone tonight.”

Draco nods understandingly while he tries to recall where his voice should be pitched. “Good idea. He can sleep in with James and Albus, keep them out of trouble.”

“Trouble?” Ron raises an eyebrow and looks pointedly at Rose.

“Relax. Killing each other trouble. James has decided that since he has a curfew with Rose, Al has one with Scorpius. It’s not his most popular decision.” Draco pauses. “Though Helene and I don’t really mind it. Mother has been machinating with the boys against him, I foresee bribery.”

Ron laughs. “Cheers, Draco.”

“Get well, yeah?” Draco steps out of the way to allow a tide of Weasley brothers to offer their goodnights. Five years ago he was on frigidly polite terms with these people. Now work, the children, Harry …

“Dad, Albus can take me home if you can take Lily and Hugo,” Scorpius is at his shoulder.

“Albus has had his Apparating licence for less than a month, and is yawning with tiredness. Harry, can you take the boys back to the Manor? You might as well stay over, too, there’s room.”

Harry looks at him with an expression too layered for Draco’s tired mind to decipher. “Thanks, I’d like that.”

Hermione’s expression is even harder to read as she sends Hugo to Draco’s side. “Thanks for taking care of them,” she whispers.

“It’s nothing. Get some sleep,” he replies, and ushers the children into the corridor, with each farewelling sundry parents and uncles as they go. Harry is a minute behind, his goodbyes more private.

“Home?” Harry asks as he emerges through the door.

“Home.” Draco agrees.


Narcissa is there to greet the troops on their return. Harry’s inclusion in the group passes unremarked, save by the slightest of eyebrow raises. She listens patiently to the updates, supplies alcohol for the adults and pumpkin juice for the young set, and then whisks away everyone under the age of nineteen for a spot of astronomy.

She is so swift, that Draco is surprised to find himself alone with Harry at the supper table.

“I did not pay her to do that,” Harry tells him.

Draco almost holds back his smile. “Show you to your room?”

“I thought I was sharing with the boys.”

“That was merely a threat. It’s a manor house, Harry, we have plenty of spare rooms.”

“Lead the way.”

The journey to Harry’s room is discursive. Several times he stops to ask Draco questions about a painting or an artefact. Ancient suits of armour provoke silliness, and Draco’s very-Great Aunt Lettice enjoys a pleasant discussion with Harry on the fashions of her day and why ruffs were more trouble than they were worth.

Harry is laughing by the time they finish their walk. “The Walnut Room,” says Draco, pushing open the door. “It’s in your old colours.”

Scarlet bedding with gold trim takes Harry back to the dormitories of his youth. “You shouldn’t have,” he teases.

“I didn’t. Helene coordinated the interiors to go with the furniture and panelling. Bathroom’s through this door,” Draco steps inside and opens another door, “though the bath’s only small, sorry. But you’ll find toiletries, toothbrush and towels. Pyjamas in here, they're old but clean, and I can send a house-elf to pick you up some clothes for the morning, or you’re welcome to borrow some of mine, I’m sure something will fit.”

Harry sits in the window seat and looks out over the night garden. “Thanks, Draco. Your home is beautiful, I don’t think I’ve ever told you that before.”

Draco should leave, but instead he sits in the chair beside the escritoire. “Don’t think you’ve ever had the tour. You’re usually here to drop off or pick up. There’s parchment in here if you’d like to write to Ginny, send her an update.”

“Did it at the hospital.” Harry shrugs. “Ron insisted she not hurry back, said he was fine. I don’t think he wants to see her until he’s standing up. She frets.”

A slight smile crosses Harry’s face at that. Draco knows that Ginny Weasley would have yelled at Harry for being so stupid as to get her brother hurt, and that she would have understood without being told that Ron didn’t want her to see him like this. Sometimes he almost likes Ginny.

“Right. Well, breakfast is at seven, but if you’re tired, call for a house-elf and we’ll have something brought up for you.”

“I’ll be up.”

“Sleep well.” Draco stands to leave, but is held by a soft word.


Draco doesn’t look up at him. He knows it’s cowardice, he doesn’t care.

Harry speaks anyway. “What you said the other day, about the difference between being friends and trying to get into your pants, it’s not an either/or. No matter what happens, we are friends now. When I said home at the hospital, I didn’t mean your home, I meant somewhere that feels like home to my family. And that’s a handful of places. Our house, the Burrow, Ron and Hermione’s, Ginny’s mad flat, and now here.”

Draco still doesn’t look up, but he can’t help smiling. “Malfoy Manor feels like home to Harry Potter?”

“Draco …” Harry waits until Draco’s eyes meet his before he goes on. “Its occupants feel like family.”

They are both smiling now. “This might be the right time to tell you that Teddy started quietly visiting us about five years ago,” Draco admits.

“Oh I know that,” Harry waves his hand. “I am Head Auror, there are no secrets. And I know your mother set him up with that job in France so that he and Victoire could have some time away from Fleur, too.”

“You’re going to fit right into this family,” Draco sighs.

“I already have,” Harry grins at him.

“I’m going now,” Draco tells him. “Good night, sleep well.”

Harry nods, and Draco closes the door as he steps out through it. He leans against it for a moment.

Albus Potter is in the hall outside.

“Evening, Mr Malfoy,” he says.

Draco finds the boy’s eyes far harder to read than his father’s. “I was just showing Harry to his room,” he says.

Albus nods. “It’s all right, you know,” he tells Draco.

Surprised, Draco agrees. “Yeah, Ron will be fine, it will just take a few weeks.”

Albus looks as though he is about to say something else, but instead he just smiles. “Back up to the roof with your mum. Scorpius sent me on the chocolate mission in a bid to have some actually arrive. He doesn’t trust the house-elves, they keep trying to make him eat the varieties with fruit and nuts, Lily’s bribed them all.”

Draco laughs at the idea of his son consuming adulterated chocolate. “I hope you have some of the hazelnut for your sister.”

Albus holds up a block from his collection.

“Good night then. Make sure you’re all in bed by two.” Draco takes a few steps away before he stops and looks back. “And that’s two British Summer time, not whatever time zone my mother decides to calculate in.”

“Yes, Mr Malfoy, good night.”

“Good night, Albus.”


Lester appears at breakfast the following day. Only Draco, Scorpius and Rose are up. The other children went to bed at three minutes to two, Narcissa stayed up far later. Draco has knocked on Harry’s door once, received a muffled groan in reply, and decided that the Potter habit of sleeping in had to come from somewhere.

Cups of tea and mugs of coffee are handed out as requested, and Lester cagily hints that he needs to talk with Draco. Rose asks Scorpius to show her his new brooms and the two Ministry employees are left alone.

“So,” says Draco.

Lester takes a slice of toast from the rack and begins to butter it while he talks. “We’ve kept all the suspects separately, so none of them know who’s been interrogated. Everyone is being questioned as though we hope they will crack, everyone is being offered a deal. Granger-Weasley popped by first thing and asked that we put the whole case together before handing off the round-ups to the Aurors. There’s a lot of money behind some of those suspects and she doesn’t want anyone buying their way out of a conviction.”

Draco nods. He is aware of the irony here, but doesn’t care to dwell. “What time did you start the questioning?”

“Five-thirty. As soon as they had finished their mandated eight-hours’ sleep.”

“Nicely done. Who came up with that, Savage?”

“Of course. Williamson finessed it.”

Many years in Auror uniform have given Savage and Williamson an unconventional approach that has revolutionised Legal. Hermione despairs of them regularly. Draco smiles his approval.

Lester continues: “We’ll need Veritaserum for Hindley’s confirming statement. And more if any of the others choose to talk.”

“Good work. Would you like jam?”

“Yes, please. Thank you. So, as far as we can see, we have the British set cleaned up for the most part, but from some of the statements and what paperwork we can find, there was backing from Europe and we’ve made little inroad there.”

“Spain?” Draco asks, in hopes that two conspiracies will come together into one tidy package.

“France,” Lester corrects him ruefully. “The Minister is waiting till Head Auror Potter gets in this morning, but rumour has it he wants to send a team from MLE to liaise with the locals, see if they can help.”

“Given the French MLE’s track record, do you think that’s likely to help?”

Lester hastily swallows his ill-timed mouthful of toast. “No, but I think that given how bad their internal security is, there’s every chance the people we’re after will hear that we're still feeling our way in the investigation and be reassured. News has broken. I think Shacklebolt is hoping that the French will assume we know absolutely nothing and be lulled into a false sense of security.”

Draco nods. “If we're not actively pursuing them by tomorrow, they’ll be starting to relax, by the day after, they’ll be thinking they’re safe.”

“Exactly. The only flaw in the plan is at the moment, we actually do know nothing. Oh well. By the way, have you seen The Prophet yet today?”

Draco is not the least bit surprised that Lester has an early edition. The front cover depicts the mop-up teams down at the Barrier, with a headline reading ‘Crisis Averted!’ The story beside it credits Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley, who is expected to make a full recovery, with saving London and the lives of millions. Draco has a small smile as he recognises Fotherington sitting with his girl in the corner of the photograph.

“They seem to have accidentally left you out, sir,” Lester says quietly.

“We have an agreement,” Draco tells him. “They keep quiet about my family for the most part, I don’t hex any of them. It works well, on the whole.”

Lester chooses his words delicately. “That’s hardly fair, people should know what you do.”

“Everyone I care about already does,” Draco reminds him. “The unwashed masses have never been my concern.”

“It still doesn’t seem fair to me.”

“Yes, Lester, that’s because you’re young,” Draco says, patting his shoulder. “Young people care about these things. Old people care only about their children, their hairlines, and looking respectable in bathing costumes.”

Lester smothers a laugh.

“You can relax, then,” says a voice from the doorway.

Draco watches as Lester looks from him, to Harry leaning rumpled against the doorjamb, then back to him, and swiftly sums up the situation inaccurately.

“Potter was still with Weasley at the hospital when I went to pick up the children,” Draco says, in what he suspects is a doomed bid for clarification. “We have a surfeit of bedrooms, it seemed only polite to offer him one.”

“Of course, sir,” says Lester with wide-eyed innocence.

Draco comforts himself with the knowledge that Lester won’t share his conclusions with anyone. He’ll just mentally file them in the Useful Things To Know About My Superiors part of his brain, a part Draco suspects takes up several lobes.

Harry ambles in and pours himself a cup of tea from the still-warm pot. “Any news?”

“Backing for the whole op seems to have come from France. Lester tells me that Kingsley’s waiting for you to come in.”

Harry makes a face while he sips his tea. “It was too much to hope for that it would all be wrapped up neatly by the time I got up, I suppose.”

“Yes,” says Draco. “It was. Not to mention that it’s eight and you were going to be up at seven.”

“But you’ve breakfast for me, yes?”

Lester’s eyes are like saucers, Draco realises and, as he replays that conversation in his head, he is forced to admit Lester’s suspicions could seem reasonable to the untutored mind. Probably not helped by the fact that Harry is still wearing his pyjamas. With the DM monogram.

“Yes, of course,” Draco sighs, indicating the still-warm plates and dishes on the nearby serving table.

“So,” says Harry. “France. Fancy coming?”

Lester is unable to hold in an undignified snort. Draco drops his head into his hands and considers weeping until they both go away.

Harry blinks at them and is saved from having to think before breakfast by the clattering arrival of James, who dashes through the room, grabbing two slices of toast from the rack and slapping bacon between them.

“Rose?” James asks between bites.

“Looking at Scorpius's broom collection,” Draco answers.

James grunts and wanders off in pursuit.

“It's his skills as an orator I'm most proud of,” Harry says after a minute. “So, France.”

“You shouldn't go, sir,” says Lester.

Harry looks at him sharply, and Draco is impressed to see that Lester does not even blink.

“We don't want to tip our hand. You are … a well-known figure. Your presence would only mean one thing. If we want to have a spot of independent snooping, it needs to be done by people who have plausible reasons for being in the area.”

Draco hears Lester's subtext clearly. “Like someone looking for a nice flat for his ex-wife.”

“Exactly like that, sir.”

Draco grins. “I'd probably drag one of my young protégés along to do the heavy lifting.”

“I was hoping you would.”

“I'll see if Al is available,” Draco can't help saying, if only to see the disappointment on Lester's face and the quick mental process behind Harry's eyes as he weighs up the advantages to Albus of learning realpolitik from a Malfoy against the fallout from the lad's mother and grandmother. Draco can even see the exact moment when Harry considers that Molly would probably be on board, given the events of yesterday.

“I am joking,” Draco says. “Scorpius would thump me. It'll have to be you, Lester.”

“Oh, I knew that,” Lester says, quite convincingly. “Albus has nothing on me when it comes to heavy lifting.”

“When do you want to head off?”

“After you finish breakfast? No time like the present, and if we find anything, Mr Potter may be able to act on it before the day is out.”

Harry looks quickly between the two of them. “If you find anything,” he says, “you are to leave it well alone and come back immediately. No putting yourselves in danger, no causing international incidents.”

Draco rolls his eyes. “You're wilfully ignoring the fact that, since 1998, every Malfoy you know has been dedicated to averting international incidents. Honestly, I'd have had an easier time of it were there rumours regarding me and goats.”

Harry grins broadly and Draco raises a hand in warning. “I will know where they originated and I will exact bloody vengeance.”

“Threatening the Head Auror over breakfast? I might have to run you in,” Harry says with a wink.

Draco sighs. “Lester and I are leaving now before his head explodes and I am forced to kill you.”

“Be back by five, and come straight to my office, both of you. I'll work the case from this end, with a bit of luck the three of us should be able to start pulling it together before the day is out.”

“I thought you might want to spend time at the hospital,” Draco says gently.

Harry shakes his head quickly. “I'll pop by, but Ron would want us focussed on the case. He has a large family to fuss over him, they'll keep him amused. I'll drop Rose and Hugo at St Mungo's on my way to work, and leave the others to decide how they'd like to spend the day.”

“Just don't leave my mother in charge, whatever you do.”

“I wouldn't dream of it,” Harry assures him.

Draco drains what is left of his now lukewarm tea. “Right. Lester, you done? Give me a minute to grab my travelling robes and a Paris Portkey and we'll be on our way. Do you need to stop at home or the office for anything?”

“No sir, passport and wallet in pockets, wand at the ready, wearing comfortable shoes.”

“Good lad. Get some more toast into you, I'll be back in a minute.”

Draco is on his way back from his room when he runs into Scorpius. “I thought you were with Rose,” he says.

“She's now with James, and I was a bit extraneous. I'm off to see if I can convince Albus to face the morning. What about you?”

“Off to Paris. Lester has a lead on the case and we're off for a spot of surreptitious snooping.”

“Without Mr Potter?”

“He's too obvious … Don't you dare giggle.” Draco finds it hard to resist joining his son in soft laughter and rolls his eyes instead. “What's the world coming to when I have to submit to having my son giggle at me?”

“Sorry, Dad. But you're right. If I had to describe Mr Potter in one word, it would be obvious.” Scorpius does not wink, and for this Draco is immensely grateful.

“I was referring to his presence as an Auror.”

“So was I. Mostly.”

“You're an awful child.”

“I take after my father.”

Draco smiles fondly. “No, you're far better. I've known your father for years and he's dramatically improved since you've been about.”

“Well then we take after each other, and that's no bad thing.”

“You go off and wake up your young man. And try to keep the others out of mischief while I'm away. Rose and Hugo will probably end up at the hospital for most of the day.”

“We'll tag along, the Potters and I can be put to use running any errands the Weasleys need. If nothing else, Mr Weasley will want some pyjamas and books from home.” Scorpius thinks for a second. “Actually, Mrs Weasley will want books, Mr Weasley will want the papers to keep up with this week's Quidditch results.”

Draco shakes his head at his son. “Ron is brighter than he looks, you know. Has to be to keep up with his daughter.”

“I know. But what's the point of being my age if not to make mock of people your age?”

“Go. Make mock indeed, you dreadful child.”

Scorpius grins back at his father as they both head off in different directions. Draco still finds it hard to believe this bright, beautiful young man could have anything to do with him, but is daily grateful for the miracle of it.

Lester is finishing up toast with egg and bacon as Draco re-enters the breakfast room. Draco picks up an apple and slips it into his robe's pocket for later. Remembering his manners, he adds a spare.

“Say hello to Ron for me,” Draco tells Harry. “And tell him he's welcome to recuperate here if he'd like to. They could have the Crupmaster cottage, since that's all on one level, or there's plenty of room in the house if he doesn't mind being magicked up and down stairs. I'm fairly certain his family will prefer him at one of their homes, so in that case it would make me very happy to lend them a house-elf to help with the domestic side. Properly paid, of course.”

“He'll refuse,” Harry points out.

“Yes, but then you'll tell him I feel terribly guilty about not spotting his attackers in time and you'll have a quiet word to Hermione about factoring in the fact Ron's actually a very useful person and how much he won't be able to do for the next few months, and I live in hope that common sense will prevail and one of them will say yes. And they're not to think about payment, because we're friends and they have fed my son a great deal.”

Harry grins. “If that's how we're calculating indebtedness, James is ruining me.”

“Don't worry about it, Lily will scheme up a way to rescue you from penury. Lester, you done?”

Lester has just swallowed the last of his breakfast. “Ready to go, sir.”

“Right.” Draco pulls a small black book from his travel robes. He taps it with his wand. “Give it a minute, best grab hold now, though.”

Lester takes the other side of the book.

“Draco, be careful,” Harry says.

“I always am,” Draco says, and then the Portkey activates and the room is no longer there and after a long moment in which space is both compressed and elongated at once, he and Lester stop on a cobbled street in the Right Bank wizarding district of Paris.

“This way,” Draco says, familiarity making his steps sure. He leads them down a small lane and stops outside Agence Matthieu Liseron, a tastefully decorated establishment with neatly lettered cards describing properties available for sale or lease in the area. As Draco touches the window in front of one card, a spell activates and a vision of the house appears, first the exterior and yards, then a tour through the rooms.

“Nice spellcraft,” Lester admires.

“I am glad you think so,” a voice says beside them.

There is a tall wizard standing there, dressed in a fashionable Muggle suit. Draco knows him. “Monsieur Liseron, how are you today?”

“I am well, Mr Malfoy. And you?”

“Excellent. This is my associate, Lester Biggs. Lester, this is Matthieu Liseron.”

The two men shake hands and all three move inside the office. “Is there anything in particular that brings you to Paris?” the realtor asks.

“My former wife is looking for a new abode, I promised her I would do a spot of scouting for her and narrow down her choices. In fact, with her birthday coming up, I might just make it my little gift.”

Liseron smiles with a look that anticipates profit. “Certainly. Any particular locales?”

Lester's list of French suspects is small, three of them live in the same neighbourhood, Draco begins there.

It does not take until five o'clock. In fact, they appear in Harry's office just before lunch, weighed down with scrolls detailing the virtues of several attractive residences in the 16th Arrondissement, and several boxes of sweets. Since Harry had, the instant before, been gently talking with Fawcett about the latter's tendency to lose his mind while drunk, it's an awkward moment. Especially given Fawcett's sudden recollection of his declarations of passion for Draco the night before.

Draco smiles broadly. “Macarons for all!” he declares. “And the French connection is a total front.”

Fawcett takes a hazelnut macaron and scuttles to the back of the room while Draco explains. “Every house on that list is vacant. Every single one. The names we were given are their registered owners on paper, but Lester here could not find a single person who'd met any of them. And guess where the mail from each of them redirects to?”

Harry is grinning. “How close?”

“East Molesey.”


“I know.” Draco is as bemused as Harry. Not known as a hotbed of international criminal conspiracies, East Molesey is a place the kind would call pleasant and the accurate would call dull. “A house near the end of Bell Road.”

“We should organise a warrant and put a team together,” Harry says.

Draco grins. “You and Lester should, I'm on holidays.”

“Is the Minister in, sir?” Lester asks.

“I think so.”

“That's good. We're going to need special approval, it's a Muggle residence.”

“Buggeration. That's going to take hours.”

Lester nods cheerily. “Yes, sir, paperwork often does. But it is the backbone of a successful conviction.”

Harry frowns at him, then turns to Draco. “Biggs used to be far more deferential around me. This casual attitude is doubtless your responsibility.”

Draco shrugs. “Biggs has always been a mystery to me: either he sees us all as essential mentors in his inexorable progress upwards, or he's two steps away from becoming the next Dark wizard to hatch plans for European domination.”

“That's hardly fair, sir,” Lester says.

“You're right,” Draco agrees. “You wouldn't limit yourself, it would be world domination or nothing.”

“Thank you.”

They are interrupted by a throat being cleared at the back of the room. It's Fawcett. “Can I leave?” he asks.

“Of course,” says Harry. “In fact we all should, it's lunchtime. Except you, Lester, up to Kingsley's office with you and set about securing those warrants.”

“Yes, sir.”

Harry waits until the two younger men have left before he grins and lunges into the large pile of scrolls beside his desk. After a moment, he emerges, victorious, bearing one aloft.

“I knew there was something here!” Harry holds up the parchment. “Woman in East Molesey with a cursed teapot, she thinks it was one of her neighbours. She's only a few houses away from our target!”

“Let me see.” Draco takes the scroll.

“Mmmm,” he says, chewing on a vanilla macaron. “You're proposing we take this on as a public service, I assume.”

“Yes, of course. It's incumbent on us as department heads to keep our hands in so that we understand the operational needs of the witch or wizard on the ground.”

Draco gives him a measured look. “It's possible that I'm a bad influence on you. Also, there's no one here but us.”

“Sorry, it's automatic these days.”

“I'm not going to point out that it's wildly irresponsible,” Draco says.

“That's what makes it fun. Besides, we're only scoping out the environs. We can't go in without a warrant. Unless there's some obvious wrongdoing taking place.”

“At which point it would be our civic duty to take action,” Draco sighs. “Come on, you're just as much a bad influence on me. And if we go now, we'll still have time for a decent lunch.”


They find the witch's house easily enough, it's the one with the massive Disillusionment spell making it appear to be an uninviting locked-up neo-Georgian monstrosity behind a thicket of privet and honeysuckle. Looked at through unbespelled eyes, it is a reasonably large, neat cottage with a garden that speaks of an owner who has ample time for letter writing.

Harry marches them down the path and raps smartly on the door.

“Yes?” comes a firm voice from inside, without opening it.

“Auror department, Mrs Witherton. We're here to look at your teapot.”

“You'll need to identify yourself!” barks the voice, opening the door.

Draco can feel himself pulling a face at the absurdity of it all, but Harry has on his best Dealing With the Public expression and is cheerfully introducing himself as the old woman glares at them.

“I know who you are,” she says. “You've been in the papers since you were a baby. And aren't you the Malfoy boy?”

“Draco Malfoy,” he agrees.

Emmeline Witherton looks at them with keen, old eyes. “Aren’t you both meant to be back at the Ministry running things?”

Draco sighs. Old ladies and their tendency to accuracy are one of the banes of his life. Not that his mother is old, of course.

“In addition to being Head of the Department of Mysteries, Mr Malfoy is one of our leading curse-breakers,” Harry asserts. “As to myself, I mandate field actions for all of my top staff so that we can stay in touch with the issues affecting our Aurors on the ground.”

“So it’s not just an excuse for a day out of the office?”

Harry takes an explanatory breath and draws himself up to his full height, but is slightly undermined by Draco exchanging conspiratorial winks with Mrs Witherton. “It’s a lovely day,” he explains.

She smiles broadly at him. “And I can’t recall the last time I had two such handsome men in the house. Do come in.”

Draco takes the opportunity to step in ahead of Harry as they are ushered into a sunny sitting room. The inside of the house is much the same as the outside, save for the sunniest corner of this room, which holds a large rumpled tweedy chair with an old cap and book on its seat.

Their hostess sees him glancing at it. “Mr Witherton's, rest his soul,” she confirms. “Can I get you boys some tea? I have a lovely apple cake just out of the oven, or some ginger biscuits.”

“Apple cake would be lovely,” Draco says. Then he winks again. “And is the tea coming out in the cursed pot? Because it might be better to look at it empty.”

“Oh you duffer,” Mrs Witherton giggles. “It's the violet-pattern pot on top of the curio. And as long as you don't put anything in it, it's harmless.”

“I'll start on it while you're off with the tea. Do you need a hand? Auror Potter's free.”

“Oh that would be lovely. I've had such a time lifting that tray this week, what with my back …”

Draco is saved the details of said back's sufferings, but the look Harry throws at him as he trots obediently after the witch clearly states that he will receive a thorough recap after. Worth it, though.

The teapot presents an interesting challenge. It's definitely cursed, but specifically so. Although Draco can see the outline of the spell, it won't activate fully for him. He is up to his twelfth test by the time Mrs Witherton and Harry return.

“And of course, Mr Witherton could always pop it back into place by bending me backwards over the sofa, but no one else seems to have the knack. Any luck, dear?”

The last is directed at Draco, and he shakes his head apologetically, ignoring Potter's expression of glazed horror. “I think you need to touch it for the curse to activate.”

Mrs Witherton does, and the spell immediately kicks into action. The spout deforms subtly into what Draco can see is a spilling form, and the china starts sucking heat from the air within, which would no doubt lead to quickly tepid tea. He can feel the lurking projectile spells, just wanting to spout dark liquid about. A few flicks of his wand and muttered spellcraft and Draco has restored the pot to normal function, even the violets look brighter and better drawn.

His success is obvious. “Well done, dear!” says Mrs Witherton.

Harry has his serious Auror face on as he takes a slice of apple cake. “Do you have any idea who might have cursed it?”

“It was never the same after I lent it to Ermintrude Cowslip,” Mrs Witherton mutters. “She's witch enough to manage it, too.”

“Does she have reason to curse your teapot?” Harry asks.

“Of course not! We've been friends for years! In fact the only time we've ever had cross words was back when I was first walking out with Wilfred, Mr Witherton, she had her eye on him, but there was never anything there, it was me he loved, you see. But I should have known, he was the only man she ever showed an interest in.”

“I see,” says Harry.

“When did you lend the teapot to Miss Cowslip?” Draco asks.

“The end of March.”

“And, forgive me, but when did Mr Witherton die?”

“Just a little before that, dear. It was very sudden, quick and painless.”

“Do you think, perhaps, that she might still have been a little jealous? And that maybe she became rather mixed up in her mourning? Perhaps she cursed your teapot because she never quite got over you having the life she wanted?”

“But we're friends …”

Draco smiles gently. “Oh yes, you are. Notice how the curse is just inconvenient, not harmful. She made certain the tea would be tepid before it came spilling out everywhere. She never wanted to hurt you, just make a mess. And she probably knew you had other teapots you could use instead of this one.”

“Well, of course she did. That one was for best, she gave it to Wilfred and I when we were married … Oh … Oh the poor dear! I never suspected! She always seemed so happy with her work.”

“I'm sure she's terribly sorry about the whole thing,” Draco says kindly.

“Oh who cares about a teapot?” Mrs Witherton makes hurry-up gestures with her hands. “I'll have to go and see her, let her know how highly Wilfred always thought of her.”

“Does she live nearby?” Harry asks.

“Four doors down.”

“Not three?”

“I know where she lives, young man.”

Draco interrupts. “We should possibly go and have a word with her, there have been reports of suspicious activity in this area.”

“Well that's hardly likely to be Ermintrude, she's a respectable retired Herbologist. More likely those Muggle neighbours of hers, in and out at all hours, those big automathingies driving up and down, and never anyone actually there when you knock to complain.”

“That's the house three doors down?” Harry confirms.

“Yes, aren't you listening? Now if you're done with that tea and cake, I should be on my way.”

“We'll walk you down,” Harry says.

Mrs Witherton beams. “That's very kind of you. Give me a moment while I find my hat and bag.”

Draco waits until she has left the room before he grins. “You're appalling,” he tells Harry.

“This from Mr I Have Psychological Instincts?”

“I blame Scorpius, he's always on at me about looking for deeper reasons behind crimes and problems. No, I was talking about your subtle attempt to gain easy access to our suspected crime scene by generously accompanying our charming hostess to visit her friend who will be so impressed by having the Boy Who Lived Twice appear on her doorstep that she will doubtless pick up on your desires to have her suggest you search the highly suspicious place next door and give us an easy excuse for what would otherwise be an illegal entry.”

Harry blinks at him. “I lost my way in that sentence after 'subtle', which is funny, because I think you did, too.”

“Ha,” says Draco. But nothing more, because Mrs Witherton is back.

Draco and Harry walk her down the road. Ermintrude Cowslip sees them coming and throws open her door as they walk down the path. “Oh for heaven's sake, Emmeline, you haven't called in the Aurors? I know I behaved poorly, but that's simply ridiculous. Fine, drag an old woman in, leaving her cats to starve and … aren't you Harry Potter?”

'Yes, Miss Cowslip,” Harry says.

“Well, that's remarkable. I knew your father when he was a lad, lovely boy. Such a bad business, still, well done you, what? Are you here to arrest me? If not, do come in.”

They traipse inside and narrowly avoid another round of tea and cake (ginger this time). Harry instead asks Miss Cowslip about her neighbours, and he and Draco sit back until they have enough complaints to give reason for a quick look next door. They leave the two women to their talk, which sounds as though it will be long and gentle.

“You're shameless,” Draco tells Harry.

Harry grins lecherously, and Draco laughs even as he shakes his head.

The house next door is large and over-renovated. Despite its tasteful front, it is more unwelcoming than Mrs Witherton's had appeared. There is a tall fence with two locked gates. The windows are curtained, and red lights blink on top of surveillance cameras that are none-too-well hidden. Draco thinks this may be intentional, they warn the would-be burglar that they will be seen, that it is too much trouble here and they should go elsewhere.

Draco waves his wand: the cameras go dim and the gates open.

“We're near the extent of my skill with Muggle-tech,” he tells Harry. “If their systems are really complicated, we'll need to bring in some assistance from one of the younger chaps in Mysteries. They're all obsessed with it.”

“It's not as though many of our crimes cross over into the Muggle world,” Harry says supportively. “Far better that you be a genius in the old-school techniques.”

Draco smiles evasively. “Yes, I've been meaning to mention that. I am at the top of the game for Magical Research and Innovation. More new Spells and Potions than anyone else in the department. But that's really where my strengths lie. Everything else I'm quite good at, but not the best. Though certainly the most widely accomplished. But, I’m not really one of the leading curse-breakers. In fact, I’m probably the worst of all the actual curse-breaking staff.”

Harry is surprised. “But they all praise you to the skies!”

“Oh I’m good enough for most things we come across, but the truth of the matter is that none of them want to risk their genius running around on hare-brained frontline Auror actions. I think they consider me expendable. I should never have employed Fotherington, I think he might be nearly as good as me in the New Things department, and don't think the rest of them haven't noticed. If I ever suddenly disappear, focus your attention on Bakhtin and Amundsen. Now stand still.”

Draco opens the gate slowly and takes an apple from his pocket. He lobs it down the path towards the front door. Nothing happens. He removes the other apple, this time aiming for the porch step. Again, nothing. “All right, it looks as though we'll probably be right to get to the door at least.”

Harry takes the lead here, and walks straight in to ring the doorbell. Although they can hear it buzzing inside, there is no stir within. After a few tries, Harry peers in through the glass beside the door.

“Quite empty, it doesn't even look lived in. I'm going to open the door.”

“Freezing Charm in place?” Draco asks, then realises who he is talking to and smiles apologetically at Harry.

“It's about to be, I've also done up my shoelaces and had a healthy breakfast.”

“You had pain au chocolat, egg and bacon.”

“Hush. I'm performing a complex spell.”

“It's an Alohomora. You done?”

“Yes …” and Harry stops what was probably going to be a witty riposte mid-breath and instead stares down at the gap in the doorway which he has just opened. “Draco, do you know much about Muggle explosives?”

“Not a lot. I take it that's not the ideal answer?”

“Not as such, no. Do you think a Freezing Charm will be enough to stop something from going bang if I accidentally pull the wires out?”

“Can't really say. Shouldn't you let go of the door?”

“I would, but I'm not convinced I haven't half-pulled the wires loose as things are. So I might stand here holding it very still until we're certain.”

“Ah. I'm just going to pop up to the office and grab Fotherington.”

“Sounds terrific. I'll be here.”

Draco smiles. “Try not to die while I'm gone.”

“You're not really worried.” Harry smiles back. “If you really thought I was likely to die, you'd snog me opportunistically before you went. You have form.”

“Or slap you upside the head for being such an arse.”

“Or that,” Harry agrees. “Don't be long.”

Draco nods, and is gone.


Part 3b
she had the face of an angel & the body of a devil: [stock] lemon eyesnuclearsugars on June 5th, 2010 04:24 am (UTC)
OOH OOH. I remember this story! I read it when I was in my lurking days! I'm so glad to hear that something positive came from Rai's leaving, which is the anticipation of the end of this story arc! *scurries to read*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
She threatened to beat me soundly if I didn't finish it for her. Alas, it's still going strong, 10K past the last word above. I am incapable of short stories!
salviagsalviag on June 5th, 2010 06:54 am (UTC)
so glad to see this updated again! but i think i've forgotten crucial bits. Harry is so self-assured and confident; Ron saved from danger by Draco... *scurries away to reread previous parts*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
I had to re-read the whole arc twice and take notes! Never again will I put anything down for so long!
jegviraag on June 5th, 2010 08:42 am (UTC)
Yes, I've been waiting ages for this to be finished! I'm so excited!! :D

I need to re-read but I'm so looking forward to it! ♥
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2010 03:43 pm (UTC)
It's not quite finished yet! There are at least two more parts, maybe three if I get carried away. If it strings out to four I shall just beat myself with something stick-like.
being_herebeing_here on June 5th, 2010 08:52 am (UTC)
Oh oh oh oh! I'm so happy to read this! I love your writing, and the language you use, and the pace you write at. Wonderful! And then you cliff hanger me! Evil lady! There had better be no lorries coming up, you hear me?
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
Cheers dear! And I promise that any lorries that may find their way into the tale will be there purely for the delivery of items, and will be driven by experienced and safety conscious drivers!

The next part will be up soon, fingers crossed the part after that will be, too!
(no subject) - being_here on June 5th, 2010 04:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 5th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
goddessrissgoddessriss on June 5th, 2010 11:00 am (UTC)
Hello, you
What a lovely way to start my Saturday! I vote for the opportunistic snogging, by the way. Wonderful to see this updated. Looking forward to seeing how it ends!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Hello, you
Hello, you, oh serenely iconned one! And you and Harry both ;-) I, too, am looking forward to seeing how it ends. While I know roughly, this story has had a will of its own the whole way through and I don't expect it to stop now. At least the narrative and I are talking again!
Lisbet Karlsdottirlisbet on June 5th, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)
Hee! What a great day to log into LJ! I found tons of new fics celebrating Draco's birthday, and then this wonderful treat, too!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
It is a SPLENDID day in H/D land! Have you been over to Rai's goodbye post and read Cal's comment fic? Terrific stuff! I feel as though I woke up and found it was a surprise fair day!
illereynillereyn on June 5th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
Yay Update!

Loved all the wit - particularly between Scorpius and Draco. One can really see the similarity and affection between them! And yes, Draco, Scorpius is by far classier than you were at his age (Underhanded mockery compared to crude insults of 'Potty!'? No contest). But that just means you're a sight better parent than Lucius, and to see this indulgent but wise grandmother side of Narcissa is wonderful too.

*Looks forward to ore!*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)
Oh I am so glad you like that part! Not having done anything horrible to his son's psyche is the first item on Draco's list of Things I Did Well in this story ;-)

More will be up, soon, I just need to get sane files to my incredibly patient beta.
lrndnglrndng on June 5th, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC)
I went into a spot of hyperventilation when i saw you updated !!!!

The new chapter was definitely worth the wait.

I adore pretty much everyone. All your characters are believable and lovable.

I esp. Love Biggs hahaha
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2010 04:48 pm (UTC)
*Passes you paper bag and pats your shoulder till hyperventilating passes*

Thank you! And I am so sorry it was such an appallingly long wait. I am thrilled you love Biggs. Just how much of the world he plans to dominate, I'm not yet sure, but I feel certain he will do so benignly.
wemyss: hd kiss 1wemyss on June 5th, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC)
Cue the Etta James.
At last....
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 9th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Cue the Etta James.
As it happens, I do an excellent rendition of that very tune ;-)
Pureblood Princessraitala on June 6th, 2010 08:33 am (UTC)
Ah! I re-read Sins of the Fathers and the earlier portion of this yesterday and I enjoyed it all so much again! I love how strong every single character is - clearly defined and beloved in so many different ways. I really don't know how you can manage to flesh out so many characters at once, some of them original too, but who fit right in with the gang. Ah, Lester - what a little champion he is!

Harry is indeed so obvious :D

I love how you weave the deeply emotional stuff about family and friendship in with all the light-hearted banter. I SO can't wait for the next bit! ♥♥♥
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 9th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
The next bit is on its way, off with the beta now (including parts you have not had as a preview). STILL NO LORRIES!

And it is easy flesh out everyone, I just think of them all as people. Mad, wacky people, for the most part, just like the ones I associate with (I have made you all sound like American comediennes with red hair, but you know what I mean.)

Thank YOU for your loving nagging, without which I may never have finished this.
Loyaulte Me Lie: auror!Ronshocolate on June 6th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
*has caught up*

*loved all the plotty Barrier stuff*

*still likes your Ron best*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 9th, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC)
That is because Ron is delightful. I love that icon, it is absolutely how I see him on the job, as it were ;-)

(And AGES after writing all the Barrier stuff I caught an episode of Spooks that had almost the exact same plot. I was mortified, but could take comfort in the fact that it was a case of great minds thinking alike, since it was screening about two years late in Australia. Still, Rupert Penry-Jones, phwoar ...)
shadowclubshadowclub on June 6th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
I had forgotten how much I enjoy this story! I love the sense of familial belonging and how the characters had sort of settled into themselves. I very much am looking forward to an update!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 9th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
By the weekend! Since this part was so appallingly late, I am hurrying with the rest. Though not immoderately, my epic levels of procrastination are still insisting I can't actually finish the damned thing yet ;-)
Jocelyn Lavingroolover on June 6th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
See, the best bits about having a long gap between bits of stories are that (a) when an update DOES appear, it's enough of a surprise to put you in a really good mood; (b) you immediately have to drop everything and go and re-read the previous bits. It's like a LAW.

I really, really enjoyed this - can't wait for the rest! Thank you :-)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 10th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for making my epic tardiness look as though it had a silver lining! You are a darling!

And hurrah! The next bit is off with my lovely beta, hope to hear back from her very soon. Thank YOU!
(no subject) - groolover on June 10th, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
mahaliemmahaliem on June 6th, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC)
This story is sooo good. I'm enjoying it immensely.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 10th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you! That's how I always feel when I read your writing. (I have banned myself from reading your Rai fictlet until I have another 5K of this finished, you will never know what a carrot that has been!)