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Burning Petals

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“Harry you'll love it there! And it's Muggle, so no one will know who you are! We haven't been out for so long, please come with us.”

“Yeah, okay, I'll come with you. Can't hurt to visit your strange little medieval market, ‘Mione.”

Harry watched as a huge smile spread over Hermione’s face. They really hadn't been out for ages and this sounded better than visiting the Leaky, where he couldn't even drink a pint in peace.

The war had ended five years ago, but still people walked up to him to engage him in some kind of conversation or take pictures of him, not to mention the people asking him for autographs. He quickly learnt to say ‘no’ to them, but that didn't stop anyone.

So a small journey through time, in between a lot of Muggles, really could be fun. It was a bit like running away every time he visited the Muggle world, and he often thought about doing just that, running away and leaving the Ministry to their own miseries. It was tempting, especially after weeks like these, but he wasn't there yet.

For now, a few hours here and there had to be enough.

“You were right! It's great here! Have you seen the booth with all the pottery over there? And do you think they'll let me ride one of those donkeys? I've only seen kids on them…”

“Well, they are donkeys, they can carry you. I'm pretty sure you can ride them,” Hermione said, grinning. “But first I want something to eat and maybe a mead. What do you want to do Ron?”

“I want to see the knights’ tournament later and at least one of the musicians. Do you think we'll stay long enough to see the fire artists?”

“They're on pretty late… But sure, why not? It's Friday after all, and I already told everyone that they shouldn't even think about calling me in this weekend if they don't want to get hexed into oblivion. I told the Robard's the same, Harry. He shouldn't even think about calling you in. If you ask me, you should have stayed at home for the week after Tuesday night. It was irresponsible to go back to work after—”

“Yeah you’ve told me this all week. I'm fine ‘Mione. Last time it was way worse. Let's get something to eat.”

“Is Harry really—”

“Dancing with the kids of the artist? Yes.”

“And is that—”

“Yeah… the little girl in pink painted the butterfly on his face.”

“I was only gone for about ten minutes! How did all of that happen in ten minutes?”

“To be fair—the kids dragged him away while you were still here. They seem to like him.”

Ron stared, gobsmacked, at his best friend across the way who was currently dancing like a maniac with a horde of giggling, screeching kids, a pink butterfly decorating his cheek. He had no idea how Harry managed to do this all the time; letting go of his surroundings and acting crazy for a bunch of kids, or making friends with the strangest Muggles that crossed their path.

It was probably the fact that no one knew him in the Muggle world. But if anyone asked him, it was always the same answer—that he didn't know.

Looking back at Hermione, he didn't miss her tired look. “It's getting late, sure you want to stay for the fire show?”

“Yes! It's only one hour until its fully dark and I don't want to miss it! Besides, I love the mead here! I think I'll get us some more before Harry comes back.” Grinning, she stood up and kissed the top of his head before walking towards the booth that sold the best brew. They had tasted all of them and had agreed on which one was the best and stayed close to it after they had finished their shopping.

To Ron's delight it was the one closest to the small stage, so they didn't even miss any acts. Coming here was a great idea. Especially now that he'd seen how much fun Harry was having. This month really hadn’t been a good one for them. Harry had a close call at work, really close. And even after ending up in St. Mungo’s for twenty-four hours he had refused to stay at home and went straight back to work.

They had been bugging him about needing someone to go home to as Harry practically lived in his office nowadays. Either that or in the field, which had earned him his stay at Mungos in the first place. But he wasn't interested in finding someone so they had dropped it.

Harry flopped down on the bench and noticed, to his delight, that there was already a new cup of mead waiting for him.

“Thanks! Those kids were killing me.”

“Nice butterfly, mate,” Ron said, grinning.

“Thanks! Andrea said she wants to be an artist just like her mum one day. The kids told me about the fireshow! We really have to see it! Did you know that most of the artists are close, like a family? During the week everyone lives their lives, but on weekends they travel together to the markets to set up their booths and the kids get to just run around and play all day long. She told me that their fire artist is great; he doesn't speak much and no one knows where he is during the day but as soon as it gets dark he's always there to show them some tricks before his show starts!”

“Sounds like he's a vampire,” Hermione laughed before taking another sip from her cup.

“Yeah I thought the same but Jason said that Dragon has joined them for lunch or dinner a few times so the vampire theory is off the boat.”


“Yeah that's what they call him. They’ve known him for years but nobody knows his real name so they went with Dragon. The kids told me he has the best show they've ever seen and that he shows them the trick where the fire looks like little blossoms whenever their parents aren't watching.”

“Sounds like magic, don't you think?” Hermione asked with a small grin.

“None of our business. Whoever it is, he's not doing any harm; the kids love him and the parents are happy enough to invite him for dinner and stuff. We're here for fun and not for the Ministry. Let's just enjoy the show.”

“Harry is right. The bloke can't be too bad if they like him that much, love.”

“I never said we should do something. I'm sure Harry will love his show.”

If the kids hadn't chosen that exact moment to come back and force him into a walk around the place to show him everything, he wouldn’t have missed the mischievous look on Hermione’s face.

“Look! Hermione, Ron! Andrea's uncle taught me juggling!”

“That explains where he has been for the last hour,” Ron whispered into Hermione's ear as he watched his best friend try to juggle with three balls, failing spectacularly after one hit him right on the head. “Looks like you need some more practice, mate!”

“Try doing it better you twat! Henry said I'm a natural,” Harry laughed. “He gifted me the balls to practice with at home. Might join them next year. They always need good artists.”

“We have thirty minutes before the show starts, should we go for a last walk around the booths before we slowly move towards the meadow to watch? Or are you leaving us to run away with them already?” Hermione asked.

“Nah, I'm totally fine with a walk. Like Ron said, I have to practice more before I can run off.”

“Well at least it's safer than your actual job, as long as you don't start juggling cannonballs. Could be worse. Get up Ron, I want to buy a bottle of that mead before we have to go.”

Sighing theatrically, he stood up and pulled Hermione with him. She was right, at least Harry wouldn't get hurt around here, that alone was a huge plus. He wasn't sure if he could handle another call like that; anything had to be better than hearing that the Death Eater your friend was hunting down had hit him with an unknown curse and that he was delivered to St. Mungo’s on an emergency portkey and no one knew if he'd be okay.

They managed to get a good spot at the meadow, not right in the front because they were a bit late thanks to testing free samples of every beverage the booth sold, but pretty close to it. Harry spotted the kids sitting on the ground close to them and waved when Andrea spotted him. She gave him a thumbs up and a big grin before she turned around to push the boy next to her hard enough to make him fall over.

“Ladies and gentleman, trolls and fairies, welcome to the last event of the day!” Speaker boxes around them came to life as the mysterious-sounding voice started the introduction. Harry craned his neck to see more and spotted at the far end a small, plump figure dressed in typical medieval robes who spoke into a microphone, followed by one of the bands, drums and bagpipes on the ready.

“We all know that fire brings death, but out of the ashes new life is born. Who better to tell us this story than a dragon himself? Clap your hands for Dragon, our magnificent fire artist!”

Harry watched as a figure stepped out of the shadows and towards the audience while the drums started a slow and steady beat that reminded him of a beating heart.

Somewhere, a flute started to play a hypnotising melody and Harry watched, with gooseflesh on his arms, as the man in front of them started a slow dance with firesticks in his hands, letting the flames lick over his arms and bare chest while his face was covered in the shadows of the night.

The music’s tempo slowly increased, and so did the artist. Harry watched, mesmerised, as his movements gained speed until the only thing left was a blur of flames. He dropped the small ones, and then out of nowhere he had chains in his hands, both burning on their ends. The artist picked up his dance again, leaving trails of lights everywhere Harry looked.

The kids were right, this was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

The dancer moved to the rhythm of the music; meanwhile, the flute went quiet, but the bagpipes started to play seconds later. Time passed without meaning while they watched the show.

The first act ended and the artist took a short break to light a torch and pick up a bottle from the ground. Harry knew what came next, he had watched a few shows like this before, and his body started to vibrate with anticipation. This was his favourite part, the fire breathing.

The first thing he noticed was a big emerald green dragon tattoo on the man's left forearm, it was truly beautiful to look at. It looked a bit like the horntail Harry had fought back in fourth year and his smile widened. That must be the reason they called him dragon, nobody could miss the tattoo, and the fact that he breathed fire from time to time probably did the rest.

The music stopped, and with a huge roar, flames sailed through the dark of the night. Harry was so fascinated that he nearly missed the brief moment that the flames lit the  man's face. But only nearly.

He gasped as he spotted the face, a face he hadn't seen in years. Not since he went into hiding after the trials five years ago. His legs gave in and Hermione had to support him for a few seconds to keep him on his feet.

“That's Malfoy. ‘Mione, that's Malfoy! How?”

“Yeah I see that. Do you want to go? Are you okay?”

“No! I mean yes, I'm okay! But I don't want to go, I want to see the rest of it! Sorry, bit surprised, that's all.”

His whole body shook as he watched the rest of the show; every fireball Malfoy breathed into the sky lit up his face and Harry couldn't stop staring at it. He looked totally relaxed as the flames burst around him, always a small smile on his face, and Harry couldn't cope.

The show ended with Malfoy letting small flames lick over his bare chest before he put them out in his mouth, and everything around them went dark once again.

The crowd cheered as the music stopped and the lights around them turned on, but Malfoy was gone.

It took Harry three weeks to track down the group Malfoy usually travelled with.

Harry had needed a few days to come to terms with what had seen...and then determined that he needed to know more, see more, talk to him.

And that is how he found himself hidden under his invisibility cloak, trailing behind the children who went to watch Draco's warm-up like they always did.

Staying at a safe distance, he watched the children gather around a small clearing behind the tents, and only seconds later Draco stepped out of one of them and smiled at his little audience. Without hesitation, he looked once around them and lit up a small flame.

What Harry watched then was thirty minutes of pure delight. The kids whispered and giggled over Draco's tricks and he kept the flames low enough to not gather any unwanted attention to their little show. Towards the end he sat down on the ground in front of the children and placed a few cotton balls in front of him, then looked around once again to make sure nobody was watching them before he returned to his task.

“Same rule as always, don't tell them. Yes?”

He could barely make out Draco's whispered words but the children all nodded and whispered a ‘promise’ or ‘yes’ back.

Smiling, Draco snapped his fingers towards the first cotton ball and it lit up. He repeated the action with the other ones until all of them were small flames dancing between him and the kids. Covering the first of the flames with his hand, he smiled widely at them and when he pulled it back Harry could see a small flame in the shape of a cherry blossom. It was probably the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Who would have thought that Draco could do such beautiful things, and all of it without using his wand.

He watched, mesmerised, as Draco transformed all of the little cotton ball flames into beautiful fiery flowers, the third one clearly a narcissus, but the last one was the one that nearly made him cry.

As Draco pulled his hand away to show the children what it was, Harry stopped breathing. In front of them there was a beautiful lily, the colours of the petals changing slowly, from a deep red to a light orange and a beautiful yellow, while the base of it was burning blue and green.

A light blow from Draco over the burning flowers and they started to grow, entwining around each other unit they burst into a rain of sparks.

The kids jumped up and cheered and Draco ushered them away with a laugh.

Once Harry found it in himself to move his legs and walk away, the kids were all gone and Draco still stood in front of his tent, unmoving.

“Potter, wait. Please.”

Harry froze in his tracks and turned back around to find Draco looking directly at him. He had no idea how that was possible, he was wearing his cloak, Draco shouldn't be able to see him.

Pulling his cloak off, he looked at Draco, “You knew I was here? The whole time?”

“Yes. I thought you'd come back after I saw you a few weeks ago. You won't tell anyone, will you?”


“Thank you.”

“Your flowers—the lily—it was beautiful.”

“That one was for you, I'm glad you liked it.”

“For me?” Harry's head swam, why would Draco make a flower for him?

Reaching out his hand for Harry to see, Draco conjured another lily in his palm, and with a small smile he dropped it into an empty jar and closed the lid before handing it over for Harry to take. “For you, Potter. Watch my show tonight?”

Taking the jar in his shaking hands, he looked up into Draco's silver-grey eyes and nodded. He couldn't trust his voice to work right now. But Draco understood nevertheless, a small smile later he was gone, vanished into thin air, and Harry stood alone between the tents.

Swallowing around the lump in his throat he took a closer look at the lily, it was just as beautiful as the first one he had seen and his eyes filled with tears.

Blinking them away quickly, he made his way towards the place Draco's show would start in about thirty minutes.

“Harry! You're back again! Uncle Henry asked if you’ve practiced your juggling like he said you should!”

“Of course, little sunshine! How's it going with your drawings? Want to paint my face again? I enjoyed last week's tiger very much!”

“Yes! I already picked a motif for today! If we hurry up we can get it done before we have to be at Dragon's tent!”

“Well we could do it afterwards, we have a bit of time left when you get back.”

“Oh no! Dragon asked us to bring you along today! He wants to talk to you afterwards but he wouldn't tell us what about, just that we have to bring you with us if we want to see the flowers again tonight. So you have to come with us, Harry!”

Harry looked at her, surprised, Draco hadn't spoken to him since he had asked Harry to watch his show the other night. He hadn't missed a single one of them since. He was pretty sure Hermione had a suspicion about where he went every weekend for the past six weeks, but she hadn't said a single word about it. In the meantime, Harry had befriended most of the people who travelled around with the little market and therefore had never had the chance to watch one of Draco's little shows for the children again. The adults would invite him to their camps, and he gladly accepted, even if he missed the show. But he had realized that people could find it strange if he came to their markets just to hang out with kids all the time, and he never missed Draco's actual show. Besides, he could marvel at Draco's lily every night anyway. He had placed it on his nightstand the first night and it burnt there ever since.

“Well okay, then let's hurry up and get my face painted! I brought your mom the herbs she wanted so we should paint my face there today, okay?”

“Alright! Hurry up Harry!” With that, she ran towards their camp and Harry tried to keep up with her so he wouldn’t get lost and have to ask his way around to find them again.

Twenty minutes later he sat with the kids in front of Draco's tent, a small silver dragon on his cheek, and waited for him to come out and start their show.

“You haven't missed a single show since I gave you the lily.”

“You noticed?”

They sat close to each other in front of Draco's tent, a small flame dancing on the ground by their feet, the kids all gone after the flowers had burst into sparks.

“Of course. You think I could successfully hide away from our world for years without any spells that would warn me if some other wizard were around who could recognize me? I noticed Granger the second she passed by, at the market where you first saw me. I knew she would spot me there between the others, but I didn't do anything about it. Usually I cast something to keep them away, a quick notice-me-not or something like that, but I didn't. And I knew the second the three of you entered the market. I watched you with the kids that day and knew you wouldn't tell on me, so I did my show without covering myself like I would have done if I wasn't sure about it.”

“Why didn’t you cast your notice-me-not when Hermione passed by first?” Harry asked quietly.

“I hoped she'd come again—and bring you with her.”

Harry's head snapped up and he stared at Draco, “Why?”

“Honestly, I have no idea. Sometimes I miss the magical world. And that day, the second I spotted Granger, I missed you. Merlin we were so dumb back in school and it took me five years in exile to realize it. And then you were there, and I knew you'd seen me, and I hoped you'd come back. Because you always came back. And you did. Every week. Why did you come back for me?”

Harry knew the last question wasn't only about the last few weeks. He remembered the last time he came back for Draco, they were surrounded by flames there too, but this time it was different, and they both knew it.

“I'd always come back for you, Draco.”

It wasn't exactly an answer, at least not one that would explain anything at all. But Draco seemed to understand everything Harry had tried to say through it.

One moment later Draco laughed out loud before he threw his arms around Harry's neck and pulled him into a kiss. They only broke apart when an alarm shrieked and Draco had to go to perform his show.

He laughed again as he pulled Harry to his feet, and kissed him again, before tugging him towards the field where everyone was already waiting for him.

“Stay with me after the show?” Draco asked with a huge smile on his lips.

Harry smiled back and gave Draco another kiss before he shooed him away. Of course he'd stay. If the choice were his alone to make, he wouldn't ever leave.

One year later

The Boy Who Lived - Where did he go?

Dear readers,

Harry Potter, our beloved young hero, hasn't been spotted for the last few weeks and today we got the news he quit his promising position in the Aurors Office two months back without telling anyone about his plans for the future.

He was set to become the next big star of the Ministry, but now all is lost.

We have to ask ourselves what happened to force him to go into hiding.

Speculations are everywhere, from a horrid love affair with a Troll to horrendous betting debts with Goblins.

We asked Ronald Weasley, long time best friend of Harry Potter, if he knew where he went but he only laughed and said he ran away with a Death Eater to camp with Muggles all year long.

Even to our ears, this sounds like a blatant lie. We'll try to get some authentic news and keep you updated with everything we find out!

Rita Skeeter