September 1, 2017
Standing on the platform, with emotions vacillating between sorrow and pride, Harry Potter watched the train round the corner and vanish from sight. Two of his children were gone now, and before he knew it, Lily would be joining them. He vaguely registered footsteps approaching him, and though he knew it wasn’t Ginny, he didn’t turn until a long shadow was cast upon the ground next to him.
“Draco,” he said, acknowledging the presence near him.
“Harry,” Draco responded as he, too, watched the last train car roll out of sight.
Harry looked past him and saw Ginny and Lily talking to Hermione, while Ron appeared to be deep in conversation with Teddy.
“Bring back memories?” Draco asked nonchalantly.
The question startled him, he and Draco had come to some semblance of understanding years ago, but they never made small talk. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time they had spoken to each other.
Harry grinned. “Yes, some more fond than others.”
“I remember buying a bit of everything from the cart for the others. Mother and Father never allowed me to overindulge, so, of course, the first chance I got, I did.”
Harry forced the grin to stay on his face, but he was sure his eyes reflected the confusion he was feeling. “Yeah, I did the same thing as I’d never had money or treats before…Um, Draco, is there something you wanted to say?”
Draco gave quick nod and moved a little closer. The hairs on Harry’s arms stood up with Draco’s advancement, his Auror training alerting him to the unusual circumstances.
“Yes,” Draco whispered.
Harry leant forward as he could barely hear him speak. “Well, what is it?”
“I was wondering if you could come to my home tomorrow, say for tea?”
A laugh and cough erupted from Harry’s mouth before he could stop it. “What? Why?”
Draco balled his fists and shoved them in his pocket. “I would rather not discuss it here,” Draco said through clenched teeth.
Harry moved closer to Draco, knowing that his own advancement would make Draco uneasy. He glanced up and looked at him straight in the eye. “Draco, I won’t come unless I have some idea what it is about.”
Draco smirked at him. The look was even worse than when he was a child, and reminded him of Lucius.
“You know what I do for a living?”
Harry’s eyes blinked behind the wire-rimmed spectacles. “Yes, Draco, you research ancient wizarding sites. You travel quite often, and sometimes you take your family with you.”
Draco laughed. “Still keeping tabs on me, huh?”
Harry raised a brow, but didn’t respond and they both remained silent, staring at each other until Ron’s yell interrupted the moment. “Oi, Harry, we’re ready to go.”
“I’ll be there in a few minutes,” Harry yelled back as he stepped to the side; Draco’s body had blocked his view of his family. They were all standing and staring at him and Draco. Draco’s wife was off to the side by herself near the Apparation point. She looked about as pleased as the others did.
“Hey, Harry,” Ron said as he walked towards the two, “what’s going on?” He stopped when he reached Harry’s side. Harry almost laughed when he saw Ron’s stance; it was the one he used to intimidate captured Death Eaters. Of course, it had been years since there had been a Death Eater raid.
Harry put his hand on Ron’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “Ron, everything is fine. Draco and I are just having a little discussion. Will you please take Ginny and Lily home for me? I’ll be there soon.”
Ron stared at Draco and then glanced down at Harry. “Are you sure, mate?”
Harry smiled. “I’m sure.”
Ron walked past Draco, almost hitting his shoulder, but Draco stepped to the side. Draco looked over to his wife and nodded; she Disapparated with a crack. Harry looked over at Ginny and knew she was scowling at him. He nodded at her, and she put her arm around Lily’s shoulders, and walked away.
“Trouble in paradise?” Draco asked sarcastically.
Harry rolled his eyes. “Leave it, Draco. We’re fine; she just isn’t too fond of you.”
“And who may I ask is?”
Harry found himself stifling another laugh.
“You can laugh, Potter. It’s a joke. I’m not beyond making fun of myself,” Draco said, and then gave small smile that surprised Harry more than anything else that Draco had said or done so far.
“Are we back to Potter, Malfoy?” Harry said, and watched the smile disappear from Draco’s face.
Draco shook his head. “Forget it, Harry. Forget it. It would never work.” Draco turned his back and began walking towards the Apparation point where his wife had disappeared.
Harry sighed. “Draco, stop. Just tell me what you want.”
Draco lifted his hand and gave him a two-finger salute without turning around.
In a flash, Harry withdrew his wand and muttered a word. Draco stopped mid-step.
“Potter, remove it now!” Draco yelled.
Harry walked over to Draco and faced him. “No, not until you tell me why you wanted me to come over. What have I got to do with your work?”
Draco glared at Harry a moment before speaking. “It’s not something I wish to discuss in public.”
Harry looked around. “I don’t see anyone here but us.”
Draco snarled, took a deep breath, and then seemed to regain some of his composure. Harry was impressed. “And you and I both know that not everyone is seen if they don’t want to be. That’s not the main reason, though. It will take me awhile to explain the subject matter, and I’ll need to show you a few books to reinforce what I’m talking about. For some reason, only known to Merlin, I thought we might be able to have a decent conversation after twenty-five years.”
“Twenty-six years,” Harry said, and regretted the words the instant they left his lips. Before Draco could respond, Harry blurted, “Shit, sorry, Draco, it seems that I’m regressing back to being seventeen.”
Draco seemed to accept his apology, but remained silent.
“Fine, I’ll be there at tea time tomorrow. I’ll Apparate outside of the gates. If I remember correctly, the Manor has its share of Protection spells.”
Draco’s eyelids lowered and he bit his lower lip, almost chewing on it. Finally, he stopped. “You may Apparate or Floo into the drawing room. It’s up to you.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “You’d change your wards for me?”
“No, Harry, you’ve been welcome into the Manor since your victory. My mother insisted upon it.”
Harry was stunned. “Really? Wow, I had…Will your mother and father be there tomorrow?” It would be hard enough spending time with Draco, but he didn’t think he could stomach Lucius. He held him no harm, but he still considered the man amoral for many of his past deeds.
“No, they’re still on summer holiday in Greece. Chantal, my wife, will be at the Manor, but won’t be joining us. Now, my leg is cramping, do you think you could remove your little spell?”
“Er, yeah, sorry, I forgot about that. Ginny just about Bat-Bogey Hexed me yesterday when I did it to Snuffles and forgot about him.”
Draco shook his leg as the removal of the spell left him free to walk again. “And Snuffles would be?” Draco asked, hoping it was not a nickname for another child. He thought there were only three Potter kids, but given whom Harry had married…
“Snuffles is our dog. The mutt was digging up the garden.”
Draco’s eyes rolled. “Of course, the family pet. Fine, tomorrow it is, then. Good-day, Harry,” Draco said and walked the final few steps before Disapparating.
Harry stood there looking at the empty space Draco Malfoy had occupied and wondered what the hell he had just agreed to. He shrugged his shoulders and walked into thin air.
The voices emanating from the kitchen below didn’t surprise Harry. It was tradition that extended family and friends spent the day together after seeing off whoever’s children were starting Hogwarts. Later in the evening, Neville would firecall and give them the list of houses the children were sorted into. Teddy had been the first, and he remembered Andromeda weeping with joy that he was a Hufflepuff. Then it was Victoire’s turn and they were all surprised that they had a Ravenclaw in the family. When it was James’s turn, Harry had no doubt he would be a Gryffindor. Albus, though, he wasn’t too sure about. A small part of Harry hoped he wouldn’t be in Gryffindor, as his older brother would definitely overshadow him. Harry snickered to himself when he thought about Lily. No, he wouldn’t be surprised if she was the first Potter to be put in Slytherin. The child was more devious than the rest, and rarely could they catch her in action, so her brothers paid the price. He loved her dearly.
Harry removed his robes, and hung them on the back of the closet door. The boots came off and he quickly changed into jeans and a jumper over his t-shirt. The trainers went on and he finally felt comfortable.
A soft hoot came from the corner of the room. He glanced at the white snowy owl perched on the tree branch stand and quickly turned away. It was Ginny’s owl, though technically it was his, as it was gift Ginny gave him for his eighteenth birthday. Even after nineteen years, he’d never got used to the bird. It wasn’t Hedwig and there would never be another Hedwig. Alba gave another hoot; Ginny didn’t like the name, but at the time it was the only name Harry could come up with. He left the room and bounded down the stairs as he normally did, pretending that this was just like any other day. He smiled knowing it wouldn’t fool anyone. He expected a full interrogation.
Harry took a deep breath, stepped into the brightly lit kitchen, and sat down at the head of the old wooden table. Ginny had enlarged it for the guests that were all present. Word had spread quickly, and everyone was staring at him, waiting for a report.
“Coffee, Harry?” Ginny asked as she poured him a cup. The sugar had already been added, and the drink was further diluted by copious amounts of cream. He took a few sips, and then filled his plate with sandwiches and fruit.
“Well?” Hermione asked. She was sitting between Ron and George.
“Well what?” Harry said innocently. “By the way, where are Lily and Hugo?”
“At the Burrow. Mum and Dad will bring them by later,” Ginny said quickly. “And don’t even try to change the subject again,” she added firmly.
Harry laughed. “Sorry, folks, but I really don’t have much to say. He wants me to come over tomorrow for tea.”
“And you said no,” Ron said assuredly.
“No, I said yes.”
“What?” Ginny exclaimed. “Why would you go see him?”
Harry rested his hand on hers and gave it a squeeze. “Because I’m curious. All he’d tell me is that it related to his work and that his parents were on holiday.”
“Well that’s a relief,” Ron muttered. “Do you want me to come with you? I mean it could be a…”
“Ron,” Harry sighed. “Don’t start. I know you’re not comfortable about the past, but might I remind you that you did help me save the bloke’s life. If you truly hated him, you wouldn’t have helped save him and Goyle.”
“Yes, and then we wouldn’t have Goyle’s sundry to go to in Hogsmeade,” Luna added. “I think it was worth it. Neville and I love his Chocolate Frog sundae.” Harry smiled and he knew Ron did too.
“So did he give any more hints?” George asked.
Harry shook his head. “No, he just said he would have to show me some books and that’s why he wanted me to come over. I really have no idea. Hell, I didn’t even know his wife’s name was Chantal until he told me.”
“She went to Beauxbatons. I believe she’s ze year older than you,” Fleur said. “Her family was once very wealthy, but her father went to prison for ze few years and was fined heavily.”
Harry’s interest perked up. “What did he do?”
“I think it was for fixing an election and for taking bribes.”
Harry brought his fist to his mouth and coughed. Ron said what they were both thinking. “So I imagine he and Lucius get along quite well.”
Fleur looked at Ron questioningly. “No, I think not. He is dead. He killed himself in prison. Maman went to school with Chantal’s mère. They’re not close, but they do see each other at social functions.”
“Has she ever mentioned anything about the Malfoys to your mother?” Angelina asked. George put his arm around his wife’s shoulder. She shrugged. They all knew that Angelina was never afraid to ask a pointed question.
“Zee only thing I have heard is that Draco’s parents treat her very well and often take her on holiday with them.”
Hermione leant forward and looked down the table at Fleur. “What is Chantal like? I mean I really can’t imagine a nice girl marrying Draco.”
“Shit, Hermione, that was my next question.” Angelina laughed.
“But she was ze very nice girl at school. A bit quiet given her family’s troubles. Zee scandal happened while she was in school. I didn’t know her very well, but I heard she was bright, and, as you saw today, quite beautiful.”
Harry ate his chicken sandwich and listened to the gossip about Draco. He really hadn’t thought about him for years in any depth. He remembered running into him at St. Mungo’s when Albus was born. He and his wife were just signing into the maternity ward as Harry was signing Ginny out. Draco had congratulated him, Harry had wished him good luck, and that was it.
“Neville talks to him.” Luna said unexpectedly.
“Talks to Malfoy?” Ron asked.
“Yes, they discuss extinct magical plants and their fossilized imprints that they leave. Draco’s even brought Neville plants from his travels around the world. Some have been quite rare and once he gave Neville some seeds that came from a flower that was believed to have been extinct for hundreds of years. Neville had the seventh-years see if they could grow them, and a few sprouted.”
Harry removed his glasses and wiped his eyes with a handkerchief. “Why hasn’t he ever told me?” Harry asked.
Luna shrugged. “Maybe he thought you would be mad.”
Harry sighed. “Why would I be mad? Look, I don’t hate Draco anymore. I used to hate him, when I was kid, but I really don’t even know the bloke.”
“Well then you should know that he really is quite famous in wizarding archaeology and anthropology. Daddy even travels long distances to go hear him speak. He tried to get Draco to take him on an expedition once, when there was rumour of a Glacier Dragon being seen.”
“What?” Charlie blurted out. “Glacier Dragons have never existed. However, that is interesting, because I did receive a letter from Draco about a year ago asking about them. I told him that they were as close to a myth as Blibbering Humdingers.”
“But, Charlie, Blibbering Humdingers do exist.”
Harry put his glasses back on and smiled when Ginny gave him a small tap with her foot under the table. Ron’s kick in the shins wasn’t as welcome.
“Um, he has also been by to see me at Gringotts,” Bill said. “We went out to lunch to discuss my work in Egypt. He wanted to know more about historical codes and code-breakers. That was just a few months ago.”
“You had lunch with Malfoy?” George asked, sounding completely befuddled.
“Yes, dear brother, I did. If you must know, he sent a letter of apology soon after the war. I think I still have it if you’d like to read it.”
Harry just shook his head. “Anyone else? Now’s the time to admit you all have been talking to Draco behind my back. Merlin did you all think I would be upset?”
Bill laughed. “Hell, Potter, tone down the ego. You never even crossed my mind when I was talking with him. I was more caught up in his adventures and discoveries he’s made.”
“Ooh, zat reminds me. I do remember Maman telling me that he discovered zee oldest Veela-wizard community recorded, about five years ago. It’s in ze French Pyrenees and they are still excavating zee site.”
“I remember reading about that,” Bill said. “And Draco actually discussed it with me over lunch. It’s quite a mystery, as all of the fossils are of wizards, both young and old. There isn’t a witch’s bone in the site.”
Harry’s stomach suddenly turned. The thought that Draco was travelling around the world and making significant discoveries sparked a feeling of jealousy. Or was it competition? For the first time since Draco asked him over for tea, he was excited to know what the man wanted to discuss with him.
“Daddy, wake up!” Lily said as she set down his morning coffee on the bedside table and poked his shoulder with her finger.
Harry opened his eyes, trying to focus on his daughter standing next to the bed. “Where’s your mother?” he mumbled.
“She had to go to the shop. Uncle George got some supplies in early this morning.”
Harry reached for his glasses, put them on, and glanced at the clock. “Ten o’clock! Lily, why did you let me sleep so long?”
The girl crawled over Harry and lay down next to him. “Because you never get to have a lie-in and I knew you didn’t have to work today.”
Harry turned over and looked at his daughter. She was still in her nightdress, but it was covered in spots of blue and red. “Lily, what’ve you been up to?” Harry asked hesitantly.
“Nothing, Daddy. Snuffles just wanted a bath and I think I used the wrong bottles of shampoo.”
Harry hid the laughter that wanted to escape and tried to look stern. “And what colour is Snuffles now?”
Her bright brown eyes showed a hint of fear. “Um, purple. Actually, lavender.”
Harry reached over and tickled her until she screamed for her absent mother. He relented and sent her to her bathroom to clean up. He sipped the coffee. Not only was it tepid, but it was overly sweet. He lay there thinking of Albus and wondering how his first day of classes was going. He hoped that James would be more of a true big brother and help him find his way now that they were both Gryffindors.
Harry loved days like this; he was rarely able to spend one-on-one time alone with any of his children, and Lily least of all. They cleaned up the dog until he was once again his shaggy, white, furry self, although much better smelling. The sun broke through by early afternoon, and they spent time in the garden preparing it for autumn. Lily had a natural love for flora and quizzed Neville every time he visited.
As the day progressed, he became more anxious to know what Draco Malfoy wanted to discuss with him. Ginny arrived home only minutes before he was due to leave. She was exhausted, but pleased that father and daughter had prepared tea for her. Harry changed quickly into his robes. Whenever he made an official visit to one of the old wizarding family homes, he found that dressing like a wizard helped ease the initial meeting. He kissed both his girls goodbye and Apparated to Malfoy Manor.
Images of long ago rushed through his head, as the portrait-covered walls came into view. He almost jumped as he saw Draco rise up from an armchair near the marble fireplace and walk over to him. His first instinct was to draw his wand; this room was filled with memories of horror. However, another memory came through; a memory of a young Draco not confirming it was him when the other Death Eaters so wanted it to be. He took a deep breath and released the grip he had on his wand in his pocket.
“Good afternoon, Harry,” Draco said as he approached Harry. He held out his hand and without much hesitation, Harry returned the gesture. For some reason, Harry expected a light grip and smooth hands, but he glanced down as the grip was firm and the hands a bit calloused. They were the hands of a working man.
“Good afternoon, Draco,” Harry responded in kind as the handshake ceased.
“Tea will be served in the library, if you don’t mind. I thought it would give us more time to discuss why I’ve asked you here.
“That’ll be fine. I’ll admit you have me curious,” Harry said, and he couldn’t help but look around the spacious room. He didn’t think one thing had changed since the last time he had been here, except the chandelier had been replaced.
Draco grinned. “I was hoping that would be the case. Now if you’ll follow me, I’ll take you to the library.”
Draco led him through to the next room by way of massive sliding doors. The room was less formal and Harry guessed it was where the family gathered at night. The furniture was less austere and the walls a warm taupe; another door, smaller than the last, led to a wide dark wood-panelled hallway. Harry’s head turned back and forth, looking at the landscape paintings mounted on the walls. He had no idea if they were fantasy or real. A part of him hoped they were real. Doors followed by open arches led through rooms Harry could only imagine the use of. All were impeccably decorated. Draco stopped at the end of the hallway, he placed his hand on the blank wall and another door appeared. Harry shook his head, wondering how many mysteries this place held. Draco opened the door and let Harry step into the newly revealed room first.
Harry stared in awe at two walls of shelves reaching up two storeys, and another wall covered with two seemingly ever-expanding family trees, on either side of a fireplace. Even from this viewpoint, he could see that there were no names smudged out. Expansive tables were covered in stacks of more books and some large sheets of parchment, which Harry guessed to be maps. Large comfortable chairs and couches were gathered around the one fireplace. An extraordinarily large painting of an ethereal-looking dragon was hung over the mantle, and what Harry could only guess to be souvenirs were scattered about on any shelf they could be squeezed onto.
“It looks like a mess, but really things are organised the way I need them.”
“It’s brilliant,” Harry whispered as he turned slowly in place trying to take it all in.
“Come over here by the fireplace and sit. Chantal will have a house-elf deliver tea soon.”
Harry almost stumbled on the fringe of the massive rug covering most of the wooden floor as he made his way through the tables and chairs toward the far wall. He couldn’t help but notice the maps and papers filled with lines and circles and notes. There were silver instruments of all shapes and sizes scattered about. He smiled at the small piles of crunched up paper balls shaped into pyramids.
He sat in the brown leather wing-backed chair by the fireplace. The two family trees caught his eye once again. It was nice to see Sirius and Tonks’ names. The Malfoy tree, he could see, had three separated trunks. One with very English names, another French, and a third he didn’t recognize. He squinted as some of the branches from one side crossed over to another, Draco’s included. He looked away and was quickly caught up in the artefacts displayed on the shelves. Draco lit the fire and sat near him.
“Chantal, she’s French?” Harry mumbled, not knowing why he said it. He was much more interested in the artefacts around the room.
“Yes, I had to go to the continent to find a bride who would have me.”
Harry’s head jerked back and looked at Draco. He was glad there was a mischievous grin on his face. “I…I didn’t.”
Draco chuckled. “I know, but Greg and Blaise tease me about it. My wife is an old family friend. We are distantly related on my father’s side. She’s my fourth cousin,” he said, pointing to the Malfoy family tree.
A tray of delectable savoury sandwiches appeared on the table before them, along with tea and accompaniments. As Draco leant over and poured them both cups, another tray of small cakes and biscuits arrived. “Sugar—milk?” Draco asked.
Their hands curled around the teacups as if warming them.
“It’s from the Sahara region,” Draco said as Harry took his first sip and showed a bit of confusion over the taste. “I like the hint of mint it contains. So, Harry, another Gryffindor, I presume?”
Harry lowered his cup. “Yes, and yours is a Slytherin?”
Draco raised a brow. “Of course, did you expect anything different?”
“No, not really, but don’t be surprised if my last is cast into the dungeon.”
Draco’s eyes widened. “Really? Do tell.”
Harry set down his tea and selected a warm lamb sandwich. Ginny hated lamb and he only ate it when they went out for dinner. “My Lily is quite mischievous, and unlike her brothers, she covers her tracks well. I know she’s done something, but I can’t prove it, so she gets away things more than she should. Also, it doesn’t help that she’s a girl: she has me wrapped around her little finger. Boys are easier.”
Draco smiled. “I wanted a girl.”
The bit of lamb stopped in Harry’s throat. He coughed and managed not spit it out.
“That is after Scorpius was born. Unfortunately, Chantal had two miscarriages and we cannot have more children.”
“Oh God, Draco, I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” Harry suddenly felt like shit. He remembered how difficult Lily’s birth had been. They were so close to losing her. The Healers shooed him away from Ginny, and knocked her out with a spell before they magically cut her open and pulled Lily out. Harry could still envision how blue his baby girl was with the cord wrapped around her neck. He had helped deliver babies before; every Auror trained for it, and almost every field Auror had at least one experience. Harry had even watched a few magical caesareans, but when it was his Ginny, his baby…
“It’s okay, we’ve moved on, and Scorpius didn’t seem to mind being an only child. I had always wanted a sibling, preferably a sister, but in the usual Malfoy manner, once the boy came, that was enough,” Draco added almost with disdain.
Harry felt a need to change the subject. He sipped his tea looking around the room trying to pick one object out to ask about. The framed moving pictures on the mantle caught his eyes. They were of Draco and his family on some of his expeditions. He couldn’t help but smile when he saw a picture of Draco and a young Scorpius dressed in khaki garb and safari hats. They were standing in front of a few ancient looking rock huts on a green mountainside. He thought the older man next to them must have been a guide. He almost spit his tea out when he realised it was Lucius. “Where was that taken?” Harry asked, pointing to the picture.
“Peru. It took us two days to hike to the site. We spent about a week there. All we found was some old pottery and tools. The site registered as having some magic surrounding it, but the place was Muggle. It was still a good time. I must admit a fondness for the Southern constellations.”
Harry closed his eyes for a moment, absorbing what he was hearing. Three generations of wizards adventuring into the wilds. He played with his children and took great care of them, but never in his imagination did he ever think to take them on adventures. Why? he asked himself. The answer became clear. Home was safe. He wanted to be near his home and he wanted everyone to be safe.
Harry selected a lemon tart from the tray of sweets. “And where did you get that painting? It’s amazing. What type of dragon is it supposed to be?”
The expression on Draco’s face transformed into one of complete seriousness. He set down his plate and wiped the invisible crumbs from his face with the white cloth napkin. “That, Harry, is why I asked you to come here. It is a rendition of a Glacier Dragon.”
Harry wiped away the powdered sugar he was sure was covering his lips and stared back up at the picture. “Charlie said last night that they were a myth. Of course, Luna said her father disagreed.”
Draco groaned. “Yes, Xenophilius believes in them. He came to me and said he heard of one being sighted in the Antarctic. I, of course, declined to go.”
“So they are a myth,” Harry stated more than asked.
“As much as the Hallows were a myth.”
Harry’s head flinched and focused back on Draco.
“It took me a few years to figure out what the Elder Wand was. I know you own the Cloak, Harry, but tell me, did you ever have the Resurrection Stone?”
Harry stared at Draco intently, trying to read his intentions for asking. Curiosity was all that came through. Of course, Draco was much better had at hiding his thoughts and emotions than him. He had to be, to have survived his sixth and seventh years at Hogwarts. “Yes, but it’s gone now.”
“Good, I wouldn’t want some rogue Dark wizard trying to bring back Voldemort.”
A shot of adrenaline shot up Harry spine at the thought, and that Draco had used the name. “No worries about that. So you believe there was such a thing as a Glacier Dragon?”
“Not was, is. One has been sighted and documented by a very reputable wizard. The painting was created from his description. What do you think of her? She’s a beauty, isn’t she?”
Harry had thought the dragon looked ethereal, and upon closer inspection, he could see that the iridescent scales covering her body and the thin, leather-like wings caused this impression. Her face was fierce—coal black eyes, with a long snout—but it was the fire coming out in jets of blue and green flames that was truly frightening.
“I still don’t see why you invited me. Maybe you should’ve called upon Charlie Weasley again.”
“Would he have believed me? Besides, it has to be you.”
“Why? And why are you so interested in a dragon? I thought you studied ancient wizarding civilizations.”
Draco groaned and gave a deep sigh. “I do, but it is all related, can’t you see that? We didn’t always live in houses like this.”
“Most still don’t,” Harry interjected.
Draco’s face contorted at the interruption. “You know what I meant, Potter.”
“Sorry, I’m used to being around my in-laws where bantering earns me points.”
“Quick wit is usually appreciated, Harry, but what I’m about to tell you about could possibly lead to the greatest accomplishment I will ever make in this field.”
“Go on, Draco. You have my undivided attention,” Harry replied.
“Yes, I’m an archaeologist, but I’m also an anthropologist, so what I do involves more than digging for bones and cultural items. It’s much deeper than that. I want to know what these people did, what they ate, and how they survived.” Harry watched with interest as Draco’s hands moved through the air stressing his points. It struck him again that the long thin hands were strong and rough. His face already had thin wrinkles around his eyes and Harry realised it was the few times he had been able to watch Draco close without having sneers thrown at him. Harry couldn’t for the life of him figure out what colour his eyes were. He always thought they were grey, but now with the fire, they seemed almost silver. Harry blinked when he realised he wasn’t paying attention to Draco after all.
“I’m sorry, can you repeat that again?”
Another deep sigh came from Draco. “I said that I’m finding that the ancient wizards had a symbiotic relationship with some of the magical creatures. You do know what symbiotic means, don’t you?”
“Yes, Draco, I know what symbiotic means. Which reminds me, I heard about the Pyrenees site. Do you think that is the origin of Veela-wizards?”
Draco chuckled. “Very good, but I didn’t mean that close of symbiotic relationship. But, yes, it could be the origin.”
Harry noticed the hint of pride in Draco’s last statement. The smile grew wider. “Have you figured out why there were only males? Or do you think there is a female burial site nearby?”
Draco worried over his lower lip and the grey-silver eyes flashed with excitement. “I can’t prove anything at this time, but I’m getting close. I will tell you that I do not believe there were any females.”
Harry leant forward as if he didn’t quite hear Draco correctly. “Then…I mean…how?”
Laughter reverberated through the room. It wasn’t a dismissive laugh, it was one of joy, but only Draco knew the reason why. “Harry, I’ll tell you some of my secrets but not all. Now let’s get back to why you are here. Come over to the table and I’ll show you the area of interest.”
Harry poured another cup of tea and followed Draco across the vast cluttered room to the table nearest the only window in the room. Harry glanced outside and saw the clouds were gathering again, and a few horses running across a vast field of green drew his attention. “Harry,” Draco said, showing annoyance once again with his inattentiveness. Harry looked down at the table covered with one large map. The map was of a huge island, and areas on the west coast where many smaller islands abounded were marked with notes, lines, and circles.
“Greenland,” Draco answered before Harry could finish asking the question. He leant over the table, and pointed to a spot in the Artic Ocean on the West Coast of Greenland. The sleeve of his black robe knocked a few quills and inkpots around. “Damn things,” Draco said and stood back up. He quickly removed the offending material. Harry was shocked to see Draco in jeans and t-shirt; he flinched when he saw the faded grey Mark on his left forearm. Draco leant back over and pointed once again to the spot. Harry couldn’t help but notice the long body with lithe muscles and not a hint of softness. Draco could have been in his early twenties. Harry worked at keeping in shape, as field Aurors were required to, but even he had softened a bit since hitting his late-thirties. Harry held onto the sleeves of his robe and bent over to look. There was nothing there. Surrounding Draco’s pointed finger were other islands, but he failed to see even a speck of black in the surrounding blue.
“I don’t see it Draco. Is there a spell?”
Draco laughed as he stood up and slapped Harry on the back. “Is there a spell? Oh, Merlin, is there a spell.”
Harry was bewildered at Draco’s reaction. Not only had he touched him, but he almost seemed like a crazy person, laughing at a joke no one else got.
“Yes, Harry, there is a spell; it hides the whole fucking island. It’s stronger than a Fidelius in that only the Secret Keeper knows it’s there and only he can take you there. Even though you may have been once, you cannot go back again unless he takes you.”
Harry stood back up. “I’ve never heard of such a spell before. How do you really know the island exists?” He didn’t mean to sound accusatory, but throughout his years as an Auror and lecturing on DADA, he prided himself on learning every spell he came across.
Draco snorted. “Another reason why I wanted you to come here, so I could back up what I was saying. In this case, though, the physical evidence that I can present is weak. It’s all based on a legend.”
The silver eyes —yes, silver, Harry thought— stared at him once again as if trying to read him. The lower lip was grasped between white teeth.
“Draco, what legend?” Harry asked in a quiet tone.
Draco turned his back on Harry and stepped next to the window, and opened a cupboard at the bottom of a bookcase. He withdrew two snifters and a bottle of brandy. “Will you join me?”
Harry nodded. “Just a little. I have to be at work early tomorrow morning.”
Draco set the glasses on the table and poured each of them a healthy amount. “Did you read your sons stories at night?”
“Yes, of course, both Ginny and I did, and still do for Lily.”
“What was their favourite?” Draco asked, he took a sip of the golden liquid and then added with a friendly laugh, “Besides Harry Potter, the Chosen One.”
Harry coughed on the sip of brandy he had just taken. “Fuck you, Malfoy,” he said with his own laugh.
“Not in this lifetime, Golden Boy,” Draco bantered back.
“Lets not go there, but in answer to your question, they enjoyed the stories of Merlin, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, The Dragon Riders, of course, and some Muggle books you are probably not familiar with.”
“Ah, I might surprise you there, but never mind that. Now tell me what your favourite book to read to them was. I don’t believe you knew about magical books when you were a child.”
A lone ray of sunshine shot through the window, across Draco’s face, and onto the map. Harry studied the face asking him questions about children’s books. The face looked weathered, as if exposed to too long to the elements, be it sunshine or wind, he didn’t know. “I guess I would say the Dragon Riders. I liked the idea of wizards and the magical creatures…. Oh, sweet Morgana, Malfoy, you believe they existed.”
Draco chuckled. “Sweet Morgana? There are no children present, Harry, you can swear. But, yes, you are correct, I believe they existed. Now, can you piece the rest of the puzzle together?”
Harry took the last sip of his brandy, not having remembered drinking what came before. “Let’s see, a Glacier Dragon has been spotted, Greenland, makes sense since much of it is covered in an ice sheet. However, it still wouldn’t offer complete protection from Muggles or other creatures, so an island would be preferable for a Dragon to hatch her eggs. Now if there were such wizards as Dragon Riders, they would live with the dragons on the island and make sure they were cared for and protected. Well, I guess they would protect each other.”
“Very good, Harry,” Draco said and poured each of them another dose of brandy.
“So do you believe the Dragon Riders still exist?”
Draco shook his head, as he lifted the glass to his lips. Harry waited for Draco to speak and took another large sip of the alcohol. He was sure the brandy was helping, but it struck him that he and Draco had been talking for over an hour, and they hadn’t physically come to blows, or even come close. In fact, Harry admitted, he was rather enjoying his time here.
“No, I think they are an extinct race, but it’s fascinating that one of the Glacier Dragons remains.”
“So what makes you think this is the island, and the Glacier Dragons are the ones that allowed wizards to ride them?”
Draco picked up the bottle and walked back over to the fireplace. Harry followed and they both resumed their previous places.
“I traced the legend back to its earliest forms. I’m sure you will enjoy the irony, but the legend originated with Muggles. The story appears to be the same in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. However, there is another version that I uncovered in the Americas and Western Asia. The former from the Norse, and the latter was taken from the Dorset, predecessors of the Inuits. Both tell a similar version of men riding dragons and an island where they lived. The island was not hidden at that time. Where they differ is how the island and its occupants disappeared. In the version, we are familiar with it was because the Gods were jealous and there was a war between them and the Dragon Riders. The Gods won and pushed the island under the ocean. The Inuit account says it was the men of white who fought the Dragon Riders, and when the white men were losing, they poisoned the people, and then warmed the waters causing the island to float away.”
Harry sat there in a daze, he wasn’t sure that he had moved at all while Draco was talking. His thoughts were of dragons in the air fighting back all those who came to take their island. Draco’s hand reached, and more brandy was added to the snifter Harry held. “So what do you think happened? I mean, if this is all true.”
A roar of thunder echoed overhead, and before Draco could speak, rain pelted against the tall window.
“I think it’s a combination of the two. There was probably a wizard-Muggle war and that’s when the island was put under the spell. Later, I imagine, things calmed down, and once again they had more interaction with those on land, which brought them in contact with the Black Plague in the mid 1350s: the poison. There’s one more tale and that is the mass exodus of dragons that the Labradoreans speak of. They have a story that tells of Glacier Dragons, which is the first time the name is used, flying overhead in formation, as if migrating.”
The voice that once sent spikes of anger up Harry’s spine, now held him in a trance. It was melodic and soothing; he didn’t want to interrupt with questions, even though he had many. He couldn’t remember the last time he had let his mind wander into thoughts of fantasy and new discoveries. It brought back the same feelings he had as a youth when Hagrid told him he was a wizard and when he first saw Diagon Alley. It wasn’t that his work wasn’t challenging or interesting, though in the early days it was more so, it was that it was all the same. Bad guy does something bad, good guy catches him, bad guy goes to Azkaban. Harry suddenly realised his mind was wandering too far and that he was a bit pissed. It wasn’t the best situation to be in, sitting in Malfoy Manor having too much to drink. He set his brandy down on the table and pushed the glass out of his reach. Draco arched his brow and did the same. Harry somehow felt comforted by that action.
“Any comments?” Draco asked.
Before Harry could answer, a flash of lightning streaked through the sky and the low grumble of thunder immediately followed. Draco picked up his wand from the table and raised the fire. The food disappeared, but the sweets remained.
Harry turned to Draco and just looked at him, spending a few moments collecting his thoughts of the grown man sitting near him. He was the real deal, a scientist who went out on adventures. Draco held his stare with no comment. “Draco, my guess is that I could ask you any question, and you’d pull out the books and maps and explain everything in detail, but I’m still curious as to why you’re telling me these things.”
Draco let out a silent whistle. Harry almost laughed at his expression. He could tell that Draco was about to say something, or admit something, that was more than difficult for him.
“Yes, I could go into detail over any question you ask, and I’m hoping that you’ll want to know everything in detail after I tell you why I asked you to come over. The details are important, Harry. Details have saved my life out in the wild, and details are what make me the best in my profession. I imagine the same is true for you in yours. Bravery only gets you so far, being so familiar with things that you can see, understand, and predict what will happen next is what moves us ahead in our fields.”
Harry gulped. In some fanciful way, Draco had just paid him a compliment. He acknowledged that Harry hadn’t been just handed his position as the Head of the Magical Law Enforcement. “Go on,” Harry said with more patience than he was feeling.
“I have met with the Secret Keeper of the island. We have talked over the past year at least a dozen times. He finally admitted that the Glacier Dragon had been seen recently, but more importantly, Harry, he said that the legends were true. He has a book, more like a diary, that has been passed down through his family for the last ten centuries. I was only allowed to view it once, and then for only a short period. About six months ago, I asked if he would take me to the island, as I only wanted to study it and not disturb anything. I wanted to know what the Dragon Riders did, what they ate, how they lived in such a harsh climate, and exactly what their relationship with the Glacier Dragons was.”
“You can really tell all of those things by just looking at a site?” Harry knew the question sounded dumb, but he couldn’t imagine discovering what they ate or how they lived from just bones and a few instruments or weapons.
Draco looked at him earnestly. “I could ask you the same thing about your job. How you enter a crime scene and know what is an important clue and what isn’t? How to read another’s intent, and so on. Experience is the greatest teacher, isn’t that the saying?” Draco said grinning.
“Only if you learn from it,” Harry snickered.
“Yes, that is the key: learning from experience. Well, to continue, the wizard denied my request. I, of course, wasn’t ready to take no for an answer, and sent him my papers and write-ups of my previous expeditions to show him my sincerity. About a month ago, I thought I’d hit a brick wall. Everything I ever sent to him was returned to me. It was probably the lowest day of my career. However, an owl woke me the next morning with a missive from the wizard saying that he was in Copenhagen for a few days and that he wished to speak to me. I ended up meeting him in Amsterdam, which I must say is an interesting city to visit, but that’s another story. We were sitting in an open air coffee shop, and he told me he’d take me to the island, but with one condition, and that condition was that I bring you along.”
“Me?” Harry gasped. “Why the … Oh, bugger, you must’ve hated to hear that.”
Draco laughed. “Yes, it took all of my control not hex the old man in a public place. However, he did explain why and I accepted his reasoning. Part of the spell is that while he is the Secret Keeper, he is not allowed on the island. He is able to take his boat up to the shore, but not step out of it. His concern is with the dragon, and whether she’ll accept me or not. While he is most impressed with you ridding the world of Voldemort and now being the Head of the Magical Law Enforcement for Britain, what he was most enthused about is that you had ridden a dragon. If something happened to him, he wanted to ensure that I had a way off the island. The dragon is not affected by the spell, no animals are, with the exception of Muggles and wizards.”
Harry’s brow furrowed. “It was an old, blind, scarred-up dragon, Draco. The poor thing was just pleased it was getting out. I don’t even think it knew we were on it.”
“Exactly,” Draco said emphatically. “The reported accounts of the breakout said you were the first one on the dragon, and that Ron and Hermione followed. Old, blind, or whatever, Harry, dragons do not want anyone riding them. The only way it is possible, according to dragon tamers and the Secret Keeper, is if the dragon trusts you and knows that you mean it no harm. Very much like that Hippogriff back in school knew.”
Harry’s thoughts were racing with images of seeing a Glacier Dragon, of being on an adventure. What would Ginny say? Would the Ministry even let him go? How long would they be gone? Where exactly were they going? What would they wear, eat….
“Potter!” Draco said loudly.
Harry jumped. “What?”
“You were off in your own world and not listening. Do you do that on your job?”
“I obviously can’t say yes or no right now, but how long would we be gone?”
“One week on the island is what I’ve been given. It isn’t much time, but with enough planning ahead, it should suffice.”
“Soon. The next few weeks are the tail end of when the temperatures and long days are at their peak. If we don’t make it then, we’ll have to wait until next year, probably June.”
Harry looked back up at the dragon painting and couldn’t help but smile. “I’m interested, but I‘ll need to talk to Ginny and Kingsley about it. And before you say it, I know you don’t want me telling them exactly what this is about.”
“I’m going to give you some books in which I’ve marked the text of interest. I want you to read them, Harry. This will not be some little vacation getaway. The environment is harsh and any mistake made can cost either or both of us our lives,” Draco said as he rose from the chair and began walking around the room gathering books from different tables.
Harry stood and toured the room, looking at the artefacts from around the world. There were masks, statues, jewellery, pottery and weapons made of various elements. His interest was piqued by an intricately carved white knife. It appeared to be made of bone, and carved with birds he thought looked like Veela. He reached out to touch it and jumped when Draco yelled, “Stop!”
Harry stepped back. Draco was at his side, with an armful of books. “What is it?” Harry asked.
Draco set the books on the closest table, withdrew his wand, and pointed it at the knife. “Sorry, but I put a nasty hex on it to protect it. You can pick it up now.”
Harry lifted the knife, and it did appear to be made of bone. The handle alone was carved, the thin seven inch blade appeared to have just been sharpened. But most curious of all, he felt the magic concealed in it.
“It’s a ceremonial knife I found at the Pyrenees site. It’s made of whale bone.” Draco said as he peered over Harry’s shoulder. Harry became acutely aware of the presence of strength, and not just magical strength that Draco was emitting. Draco didn’t fear him.
“What type of ceremony would call for such a knife with this much magic contained in it?” Harry asked as he turned the weapon over again, staring at the Veela.
“The blade core is Veela feather. It was used during a birthing ceremony,” Draco whispered so close to Harry’s ear he felt the exhalation of air.
“To cut the cord?”
“Yes, among other things.”
Harry coughed and set the knife back down. “Circumcision?”
Draco laughed, stepped away from Harry and picked up the books. “No, you prat, they didn’t cut their boys. I believe it was used for a caesarean birth, but I can’t prove it yet.”
Harry spun around. “Bloody hell, Draco, you think the Veela-wizards could have children!”
Draco’s eyes sparkled and he gave Harry an impish grin. “I’m not saying another word, and neither are you to anyone about this. I just have to find one more piece of documentation to back it up. I have two, but it requires three for it to be considered a viable theory.”
Draco handed Harry the books, and led him out of the library and back to drawing room. Harry still felt the effects of the alcohol, but he also felt like he just stepped out of dream.
“Do you think you can let me know in a few days? I don’t mean to pressure you, but time is, as they say, of the essence.”
Harry nodded. “Yes, I’ll talk with Ginny and Kingsley.” As he said the words, he realised he had, in some way, already committed himself and it felt good, really good.
He was about to Disapparate, but instead he shifted the books and held out his hand. “It’s been an interesting evening, Draco.”
Draco smiled as he held Harry’s hand in his grip. “That it has, Harry.”
“Draco,” Harry said as he released their second handshake that night, “I have to tell you that I’m really impressed with your work and what you’re doing with your life.”
Draco’s face blanched and his eyes shut.
If Harry didn’t know better, he would have sworn Draco was about to cry. He reached out and touched Draco’s forearm. “What is it? Did I say something wrong?”
The silver eyes opened and reflected sadness. “No, not at all. I think I just had too much to drink.”
Harry grasped Draco’s arm tighter. “No, Draco, that’s not it. And I’m not going anywhere with you unless we tell each other the truth. If we’re going to be partners on this expedition, we can’t mistrust each other. Now I asked you a question, and I would like an answer. Did I say something wrong?”
Draco chuckled. “Ah, the Auror appears after all. No, Harry, you didn’t say anything wrong, your words meant more to me than you know. I just wish I could hear it from the others.”
“Severus and Dumbledore,” Draco said softly.
Harry let go of his arm and stepped closer to Draco. “Why them?”
“Fuck, Harry, don’t you know? Don’t you remember? My mother, Dumbledore, Severus, and you, you all saved my life that last year. For a year afterwards, I stayed in this place never leaving once. I couldn’t figure out why anyone thought that I was worth saving. My mother, yes, but the rest of you…I didn’t get it. My father finally snapped me out of it. After a huge row, he told me that I may never know the answer, but that I should prove to all of you, and to myself, that you made the right decision.”
“Fucking hell, why didn’t you just ask me? Okay, I know why you didn’t, but hell, you saved my life when I stood in this room nineteen years ago. I knew what you had done, or rather hadn’t done, that day. I also saw you in my visions, being made to torture people you didn’t want to. You were being used. I admit I never liked your skinny arse, but I knew you understood that you had made the wrong choice in supporting Voldemort. But you learned from that experience, and everyone deserves a second chance. I’ve never regretted pulling you out of that fire or taking down that Death Eater. And if you need to, or just want to, hear it again, I think it’s brilliant what you have done with your life.”
Draco sighed and bit his lower lip again. Harry was sure it would be bleeding soon from being chewed on so roughly.
“Plusyourwandlikedme,” Harry mumbled quickly.
Draco released a small chuckle, coughed, and then began to laugh again almost uncontrollably.
Harry took a quick sweeping glance around the room of horrors, as he thought of it, and then looked at Draco. “Look, Draco, if we do this expedition together, when we get back, the first thing I’m going to do is take you back to Hogwarts, and into the Headmaster’s office. I’d like those two stubborn bastards to know that both of us came out of it okay, and that we both were worth saving and protecting.” Harry grimaced for second.
“What?” Draco asked, still smiling.
“Long story, I’ll tell you on the trip. Let’s just say there were a few minutes there when I wasn't sure that saving and protecting applied to me.” Harry chuckled.