Authors notes: I want to thank my BETAs Koorime and ChibiBecca. I would also like to appologise if people start craving cookies oo; Oh, and this Fic is set in Bath, Wiltshire, my hometown, so sorry if it sounds like a travel brochure at times ^^
They didn’t speak a single word on their way back to Draco’s hotel. Neither did they run. They simply walked, quickly and purposefully until the hotel came into view when they both slowed slightly; remembering the security the Auror’s had placed upon the building.
Harry tapped his fingers impatiently against his wand, glancing up and down the silent hallway as Draco wrestled with his hotel room door. Unshed and very bitter tears were stinging his eyes for the man he had been unable to help. The man whose body was now very probably lying slumped on the floor of the cellar in which they knew he had been murdered.
From all outward signs he had been under the Imperius curse, which just served to make Harry feel worse, for somewhere in that tortured body had been the real Colin Henderson, not even knowing, perhaps not even caring about what was going on around him.
He told himself he wouldn’t have been able to do anything anyway, for what could two teenage boys do against two very well trained Death Eaters? The only reason he had survived the attack the other night was because he had been fighting young initiates, plus they had been interrupted before they could strike the final blow by a room full of Aurors.
This didn’t help much. He pulled his glasses off and rubbed fiercely at his eyes, trying to get rid of the shameful feelings as Draco grew impatient with the door and pulled out his wand. The blonde looked cautiously up and down the empty hallway and muttered, “Alohomora.”
The lock clicked open and Harry put his glasses back on, distractedly following the blonde into his room. Because he wasn’t looking where he was going he walked straight into Draco’s suddenly still and tense back. He blinked and glanced over the other boy’s shoulder.
Professor Severus Snape was standing in the center of the room; his eyes narrowed menacingly, arms folded over his thin chest, tall form clad in his usual pure black and elegant robes. Harry swallowed his surprise at the look on the older man’s face. He hadn’t seen the Potions Master since his last Occlumency lesson at the end of sixth year; they had been making progress on his newfound talent, and despite all beliefs to the contrary, were actually making headway on mutual respect.
They weren’t friends, and never would be, but by now they could have perfectly ordinary and amiable conversations without sniping at each other about certain subjects. He hadn’t seen this expression aimed at him for quite some time and it made him uneasy.
“Sit. Both of you. Now.”
Snape pointed at the sofa before the merrily burning fire, his eyes still narrowed. They sat and he stood, facing them, between the sofa and the warm hearth, one eyebrow now arched in that familiar expression of annoyance.
“I had thought to find the two of you here when I arrived, an HOUR ago. But I now remember that it is near impossible to make Harry Potter stay still for any length of time, and find myself unsurprised.”
Harry made as if to defend himself, but was restrained by Draco’s hand on his arm. At this obviously familiar touch Snape’s other eyebrow shot up to meet the previous in a rare look of astonishment. He rallied himself well and continued, despite Harry’s own narrowed eyes, turning to address Draco.
“Obviously you were simply doing as the Headmaster asked, Draco, thank you.”
Harry gave Draco a questioning look, but received only a slight shake of the head so he turned back to his Potions Master who was once again looking a little surprised; a very strange emotion to find on the face of the one person who almost always had perfect control of their emotions.
Before the man could continue further, Harry interrupted him, “Why are you here, sir?”
Snape’s thin lips snapped together in annoyance before he answered. “I was simply sent to check up on the two of you and convey the message that your Aunt and Uncle are once again willing to receive you at their home, unless of course, you would prefer to live out the rest of the summer with the Weasleys who have offered. Apparently they were distressed to hear of the recent Death Eater activity in the area.”
If anything, Snape looked more sour than usual. But then, Harry mused, he always did when he spoke of Ron’s family, so it was to be expected. Apparently Snape wasn’t finished.
“Professor Dumbledore also informed me that you would both have something to tell me. Am I right in assuming that he is, as ever, correct?”
Harry and Draco briefly locked eyes, silently making the decision that they had to tell him what they had seen. Draco nodded ever so slightly and now broke his silence, turning to face their Professor as he did so.
“We followed two Death Eaters.”
Snape’s eyes widened slightly and his lips thinned in a fair imitation of Professor McGonagall’s severest look. He motioned for Draco to continue with the merest nod of his head.
“One of them was the man Harry had dinner with the other night sir. It was Blaise Zabini’s father; he used a glamour to look like a man named Colin Henderson-”
Both boys were shocked by the sudden look of recognition and anger on Snape’s face at Colin’s name.
“Where are they now?” His voice was clipped, quiet and brooked no hesitations, he sounded truly enraged.
“We followed them both to a house my father often used to meet with – people. They were in the cellar and had the real Colin with them.”
Harry nodded, taking over from the blonde sitting next to him, “He looked like he was under the Imperius curse.” Snape’s dark eyes moved to him and he continued quietly. “Zabini took the glamour off, he and the other one were arguing, but we couldn’t hear what they were saying. They looked like they were arguing over what to do with Colin though.”
His gaze dropped to the floor for a moment, “We couldn’t do anything sir, Zabini pulled out his wand and pointed it at Colin, and just as we were leaving there was a flash of green light.” He looked back up, “We think Colin Henderson is dead.”
“This isn’t what I was expecting to hear. When the Headmaster told me – anyway, thank you for the message. I – Yes. That explains things perfectly.”
Both boys exchanged a questioning look at the way Snape was reacting. Harry turned back to the Professor, “Sir?”
Snape appeared to calm himself. He refolded his arms and looked down his nose at the two boys seated before him. “I must go back to Hogwarts and inform Professor Dumbledore of this event. He has told me to tell the both of you to actually remain in this room for the rest of the day and not go wondering off again.”
He nodded a curt farewell and disapparated, leaving them both staring at the fire.
“Well, that was highly unexpected.” Draco leaned back into the sofa, eyes half closed as he stared at the fire. He felt Harry settle next to him, but didn’t look up. “Wonder why he sent Snape to check on us?”
“Someone we both trust for sure.” He heard Harry say quietly. He looked up, wondering how the other boy knew he trusted the older man. Harry was looking at him, obviously thinking along the same lines because he smiled slightly and tapped his head with one long finger.
“Broke through his defenses just before summer, saw you in there.”
Draco raised one eyebrow slightly, not liking the thought of Harry possibly knowing the kinds of things he spoke to his Head of House about.
“Don’t look so worried. I only saw it for a moment. You looked like you were having a talk of some sort, both looked comfortable. I swear that’s all I saw before Snape pushed me out.”
“What are you learning Occlumency for anyway?” He asked lightly, changing the subject, moving a hand to his hair, remembering for the first time that he had left it un-styled at Harry’s request. He smoothed some loose strands back, absently wondering why he didn’t leave his hair loose more often. “I mean, you kind of told me earlier that you’ve been taking it for two years, but you never actually told me why.”
Harry looked at him and he wondered at the emotion he could see in his suddenly dark green eyes. He looked pained, saddened. Even a little scared, not an emotion he was used to seeing on the raven-haired Gryffindor.
The green eyes closed and Harry turned away, back to the fire.
“I have a connection with Voldemort. Whenever he feels something particularly strong, any emotion, I feel it too, through this.” He pointed at his scar, and Draco saw the loathing in his normally peaceable features, “and the fact that we share blood.” He felt Harry shudder slightly, as if remembering something unpleasant before he continued.
“When I sleep I’m particularly vulnerable. In the summer before fifth year, Voldemort found out about it and realized it was two way. He could get what I was feeling as well. That’s when he started sending me visions.”
Draco leaned forward slightly, opening his eyes fully, wondering how the hell Harry had kept something like this hidden. Then he remembered the events in fourth year, the fainting fits and complaints about his scar hurting him.
“Have you always had this connection?”
Harry appeared to understand what he was on about. “Yeah. My scar absolutely kills whenever he’s near, or when he’s thinking about me. Once he returned in fourth year, the pains got worse though, the connection stronger, as he actually had a real body, and some of my blood.”
Harry paused and Draco watched the emotions crossing his face, he diverted the other boy from his memories of Voldemort’s return. “So the Occlumency lessons with Snape?”
Harry nodded, apparently noticing the change in subject and looking vaguely thankful for it, “Like I said, he started sending visions, trying to make me do what he wanted. The Occlumency helps me prevent him from trying it again or letting him see what I see, know what I know.”
Draco nodded, understanding, and leant back into the sofa again, making himself comfortable. They would be in here for a long time after all. “Do you ever slip?”
He felt Harry stir beside him, getting himself comfortable before he replied. “Yes.”
Draco closed his eyes. He understood now that they had just spent the past few minutes ignoring the events of the day. He didn’t mind in the least, he didn’t really want to think about it.
“What happens?” he asked quietly.
He opened his eyes briefly when Harry rested his head against his shoulder, surprising him a little, but he didn’t move or tell Harry to get off, just closed his eyes again instead.
“It’s normally only happened when I’ve gone to bed too tired to remember. I spend the night seeing everything Voldemort’s doing and feeling everything he feels.” There was a long thoughtful pause, “I remember, this time last year, he was torturing someone, repeatedly using the Cruciatus curse because they wouldn’t let him touch them.”
Harry’s voice had gone quiet and Draco knew why. Harry was speaking of the time Voldemort had visited him. His eyes opened at the knowledge, but he said nothing. It sounded like Harry had only seen what had happened after he had gone back into the mansion, after the terrible hour of standing in that circle.
Harry was settling down comfortably now, he could tell, but he didn’t say a word to the raven haired boy leaning against him, for fear of what he may say, what he may already know.
“It’s alright. I won’t tell anyone.”
Draco relaxed slightly. Harry really had only seen what Voldemort tried to do to him, tried to make him do. He wondered briefly why Harry had slept so late that night, then remembered that that was the summer after the attack on the Ministry, the attack he had told him about only this morning, the attack when his Godfather had died. Harry had probably spent half the holiday not sleeping, just lying in bed staring at the ceiling or something similar.
Without thinking about what he was doing he moved his arm, placing it round Harry’s shoulders. For a second Harry didn’t move, then he leaned in closer and they sat in comfortable silence for a while, simply listening to each others quiet breathing.
“Thank you,” he whispered just loudly enough for Harry to hear him, but pretend he hadn’t.
Some time later, when the fire had reduced to glowing embers in the hearth, Draco looked up at the ceiling. They hadn’t spoken for a long time, simply sitting in comfortable silence, watching the flames as they burned down, lost in their own thoughts. He glanced over at the clock on the wall, slightly surprised to realise it was nearing six in the evening already.
He hadn’t realized either, until now, that he was hungry. After all, they hadn’t had breakfast. Or lunch for that matter. He turned to Harry and realized his eyes were closed. He looked way too comfortable, but he had to move or he’d die of starvation. Or something else equally melodramatic. Possibly blood loss to the arm.
He moved slightly and Harry opened his eyes, glancing up at him with a shy smile. “My arm’s gone dead,” Draco informed him regretfully.
Harry laughed lightly and sat up, glancing at the clock. A small start of shock at the realization of what time it was. Draco rubbed the life back into his arm with determination. “Better get some food brought up, I suppose. Can you do that? I never know what to do at muggle hotels, been buying all my meals in café’s.” He muttered on about muggles for a few minutes as Harry moved over to the phone and rang room service.
“I’ve ordered up some sandwiches and coffee. That ok?” Harry asked sitting back down again and stretching out. Draco nodded and did the same, wondering quite how ‘muggle room service’ worked. In any wizarding hotel you just had a menu to read from and the food would appear on the table, rather like the feast had worked in fourth year. Obviously all the food was already prepared by house elves, so this ‘room service’ was a little strange.
There was a knocking on the door a while later and Harry got up to answer it while Draco simply watched over the back of the sofa in mild fascination. Turned out it was just a young woman with a trolley. It was as simple as that.
They ate in silence, both still refusing to mention what they had almost witnessed earlier in the day. It was still too soon after telling Snape the unfortunate news, though it was bugging Draco that a wizard had been working at the same place as Harry’s uncle.
“So what was that news you mentioned? Before we followed, well, you know.”
Draco looked up from his coffee, breathing in the heady aroma. He smiled as he remembered what Harry was on about.
“Oh, I ended up talking with that Skeeter woman for a while. She told me the muggles were blaming the Shire thing on a gas explosion by the way.” He watched as Harry frowned into his own mug.
“Anyway, I broke her Quick-Quotes-Quill.”
He grinned mischievously as Harry snorted into his coffee.
He continued grinning, “I broke her Quill.” He took a slow sip of the coffee before continuing, making Harry wait before he explained. He found he was enjoying this.
“She pissed me off. Kept trying to wangle a confession about the two of us out of me. She went on and on about how I’d gotten on so well with her in fourth year, how I’d helped her write all those lovely articles and so on.” He smirked slightly at the look on Harry’s face as he admitted this for the first time.
“She was blathering on about how much the two of us had fought over the years, and wouldn’t accept the fact that I’d grown up. Then I looked at what that bloody Quill was writing and, well, lost my temper I suppose.”
He made himself comfortable on the sofa again, trying to remember what it was the Quill had actually been scribbling. “Ah yes.” He managed to put on a fair imitation of Rita Skeeter’s actual voice for the quote, making Harry snort slightly before the words sank in.
“‘Young Master Malfoy refused to comment on the nature of his relationship with The Boy Who Lived, but it is obvious from previous statements that he is simply using Potter as a tool for his own ambitions.’”
Harry stared at him.
“That really pissed me off, so I shouted at her for a bit and then snapped her Quill in half. The crowd round us when I did this seemed to approve, they were quite pleased when she left, with her nose in the air, of course.”
He watched as Harry let this sink in fully, then as the mirth began to break through and shine in his eyes. Harry burst out laughing. A full, whole body laugh that nearly made him drop his mug.
“Oh my god! I can’t believe you did that!” Harry managed to say rather breathlessly, still laughing. “I wish I’d seen the look on her face.”
Draco grinned, enjoying the sound of Harry’s laughter, something he hadn’t heard first hand before. Of course he’d heard Harry laugh before now, but never because of something he’d said or done, always it had been as a third party as he watched from the other side of the room and Weasley had told him something. It was a strange, but nice feeling to be the one who caused the reaction.
He marveled at the feeling for a moment, not quite understanding it. Whenever his housemates had laughed at some joke or anecdote he’d told them, he hadn’t felt this way, he hadn’t even felt like this when his father or Snape had laughed at something he’d said.
He forced the feeling down and just grinned happily at Harry’s continued mirth, savoring it as if it may never happen again, memorizing the glint in the sparkling green eyes.
Harry snuggled down into the warm blankets, making himself as comfortable as possible before he could sleep.
He and Draco had made a makeshift bed on the sofa using spare blankets from the wardrobe and a couple of the pillows from Draco’s own bed. Apparently he only ever used the one anyway, so Harry didn’t feel too bad about depriving him of his bedding.
The fire was burning low now and made the room glow with a comforting orange light, reminding him strongly of the common room back in Gryffindor tower where he had slept on a few occasions last year, normally when he had been studying late at night or had needed time to be alone with his thoughts that he simply couldn’t get with Neville snoring away in the corner of the dorm room.
He could hear Draco getting comfortable in the bed and smiled to himself. He had thought there would be some awkward moments when they sorted out who was going to sleep where, but there had been none. There had simply been a silent understanding between the two of them and they had set to, making the sofa into an impromptu bed.
He glanced at the clock on the wall as he nested himself in the blankets. Eleven thirty? Well, it was earlier than he expected, but not so early that he’d be lying awake for hours before sleep finally overcame him. He yawned, realizing he actually was quite tired and heard a chuckle from the bed, followed by a yawn. He chuckled in turn and heard Draco roll over, muttering something about ‘shutting up.’
The day had apparently gotten to them both, their rude awakenings in the early hours of the morning, Draco’s argument with Skeeter, and their attempts at espionage that afternoon had left them both remarkably drained, and they had only noticed when the sky began to darken.
He curled tighter and realised they had avoided speaking of Colin’s demise all evening. Except for his near mention when he had asked what Draco’s news had been, they hadn’t spoken of it once. It was obvious that neither felt ready to talk about it yet. Conversation had been a little tense because of it.
He closed his eyes and saw that flash of green light again, this time coupled with high pitched laughter. Two memories were blurring together, one from his first year of life, the other from that afternoon. He wished fervently that his happier memories were the ones that flowed through his mind every night before he slept, rather than the worst. It was a vain thought, one he had every night as he tucked himself in. He planned on asking Madame Pomfrey to make him something to help him sleep at night when he got back to Hogwarts, though he was sure he would be turned away and told to ask Snape instead.
His eyes opened again when he realised he hadn’t been practicing his Occlumency for the past few nights. Nothing adverse had happened, but he still worried about himself a little. Closing his eyes again he thought he could maybe give it one more night before he picked up again. He wanted to see what dreams he would have with the knowledge that he hadn’t been practicing.
His breathing slowed as he listened to Draco’s gentle breaths across the room, his body relaxed, the tension of the day leaving him as he gently drifted into sleep.
Harry was standing in the center of a circle surrounded by masked and cloaked figures. He could see that the eyes glittering behind every mask were on him and he basked in the knowledge. This was how it was meant to be, this is how it WOULD be once his plans came to fruition.
There was a gentle murmuring all around him and the two Death Eater’s standing directly before him moved apart, allowing two figures to enter the circle. Zabini and Osborne. The two idiots knelt before him in silence, ducking their heads in subordination.
He folded his arms, giving them both a look of pure rage when they finally looked up into his cat-like red eyes. He let that rage seep into his voice as he whispered, “Well?”
It was Zabini who answered him, who met his eyes straight on. “Henderson is dead, My Lord, I killed him myself. The body was reduced to ashes and then mixed in the hearth of his own home, as you ordered.”
For once someone who followed his orders to the letter. He had sorely missed this dedication since his loss of Malfoy. One day soon he would remedy the situation and get back what he had lost.
“Good.” The rage was thinly veiled this time and Zabini un-tensed slightly. “And Potter?”
Zabini instantly re-tensed, “We are still unable to locate him.”
Harry hissed an oath in parseltongue, making the two Death Eaters before him flinch. He couldn’t believe the inadequacies of these idiots. He had given them a simple order, retrieve the Potter boy. Everything had gone perfectly until the latest recruits bungled the job at the hotel. And now this. Dumbledore had obviously hidden the boy somewhere, and as his relatives were still in the city, he hadn’t many places to hide.
“We think the Malfoy boy is hiding him, My Lord.”
He hissed again and then barked at the two men to get up. They did so and stumbled in to their accustomed places in the circle, relief evident in the eyes behind the masks. He stood for a moment, thinking over the idea of Draco Malfoy defying him, backing out and siding with Dumbledore. It was not a pleasant thought.
He decided he would have to pay the insubordinate child a second visit, make him see the error of his ways. He smiled grimly at his decision, thinking of the many things he would put the child through if it did indeed turn out that he had fallen under Potter’s spell.
Harry took a breath and looked around at the silent Death Eaters, enjoying the fear emanating from them all. He said nothing for a moment and then in clipped tones said, “Now, bring me the latest recruits.”
Two of the robbed figures stepped out of the circle, side by side, and returned moments later leading two others, wrapped head to toe in large all encompassing cloaks. He smiled to himself. If these two were anything like the Malfoys had told him, they would do well.
The two new figures were pushed on to their knees before him and he lifted his wand, his eyes raking over their masked faces. He could see fear shinning in their eyes and reveled in it.
“Will you join my ranks?” He almost whispered, not even glancing at the two men standing behind the kneeling figures. The two initiates shook slightly and then glanced at each other, the Death Eaters around them and appeared to come to a decision.
“N-no,” they stammered in unison.
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