It was a late November night. Snow had fallen lightly in the streets of London, and Harry found himself again in a downtown muggle bar. He was hunched over a margarita and shivering rapidly when a familiar blonde slammed open the door. He spun around on the barstool, shocked to see the pureblood even get near a muggle town.
The Slytherin wasn’t struggling as much as the wizards who went to the Quidditch World Cup in terms of normal clothing, though. Malfoy donned a pristine white button-up and tight blue pants. Some inebriated person shouted, “This isn’t a gay bar, kid!” and Malfoy shot them a glare that said simply, if you don’t shut up I won’t hesitate to use my wand . But he proceeded, sidling up to Harry and sitting next to him.
“Hey, Potter,” he greeted the half-blood, a smirk playing on his pale face.
“What are you doing here?” Harry sibilated lowly, growing increasingly red.
Quickly, Malfoy lowered his voice and muttered, “Auror’s Department has got us paired up on a project, downtown a muggle has been attempting to charm objects, and it attracted the attention of one such Adonis Finch, a twenty-two-year-old wizard from Durmstrang.”
Harry turned to face his now-partner, and frowned in thought. He was too deep in contemplation to notice that the succinct movement had placed him between Malfoy’s knees. “From Durmstrang? Why―”
“D-don’t interrupt me!” Malfoy stammered, and Harry glared at him openly, evidently confused.
“I didn’t. You stopped talking, so I interjected.”
Realizing that Harry was right, Malfoy shouted, “Anyways!” A few muggles turned around to stare, and Harry instinctively grabbed Malfoy’s arm.
“Shut up,” he murmured. “We can talk outside.”
So Malfoy followed Harry out the door, trying to resist the urge to tell the Gryffindor that he had left his alcohol inside.
Within the hour, the unlikely pair found themselves in Malfoy’s office, surrounded by books. Harry was shivering as he tentatively flipped the pages, and the snow was falling heavily outside. Malfoy was intently attempting to successfully peruse over the Laws of Extramagical Regulation, Volume Five ; but eventually, he sighed laboriously and muttered, “Accio scarf.”
Immediately, Harry sat up straighter, protesting, “No, Malfoy, it’s fine, I don’t― I don’t need― I’m fine!” But Malfoy insisted, stating flatly, “I refuse to collaborate with an icicle. Take it.”
Despite assumed proclivities, Harry was very comfortable in Malfoy’s soft green-and-grey scarf. Malfoy kept scouring through the multitudinous volumes of Laws, and within the span of a couple of long hours, Harry had fallen asleep.
It was nearing three in the morning when Malfoy finally stumbled upon what he was looking for. He let out a profane but excited exclamation, and Harry groaned deeply. Surprised, Malfoy turned and found that Harry had become comfortable on his shoulder.
“Augh! Potter! You’re a grown-ass man!” he cried out, and Harry’s response was incoherent. Malfoy scoffed in disgust.
“What’s the big hubbub?” Harry asked groggily.
“Well, I found the― okay. I’ll just― yeah. In this such case, we need to first identify what breach caused the muggle ― Jeannifer Stingling ― to attempt magical practices. If it was a party within the Ministry’s ruling area―”
“You should’ve been in Ravenclaw,” Harry mumbled, his head resting on his arm languidly. “Would’ve been much better for you.”
A Ministry paper airplane has just hit him in the head, and he unfolded it quickly. “Oh... oh .” He turned to Harry. “The house was found ruined...wait, holy― oh, crap, Harry! We’ve got to get going!”
The blonde stood up quickly, and Harry fell forward onto the desk. He then picked his head up just to ask, “Like that?”
“You’re going like that? What happened to Draco Malfoy, world-class prat, constantly perfect-looking snob?”
Malfoy rolled his eyes, buttoned up his shirt, and ran a hand through his hair. “Is this satisfactory fuel for your misconceptions?”
In response, Harry muttered some things that sounded an awful lot like “stupid” and “Ravenclaw-worthy vocabulary.”
“Whatever. Seriously, Potter, we need to go now ,” Malfoy repeated in a deadpan. “It’s an emergency.”
“Can we Apparate?” Harry asked, suddenly alert. Malfoy nodded, and the two vanished with a crack .
The house was rather modern-looking, at least by Muggle standards. Fancy, simplistic, whatever. Malfoy didn't care for word etymology. He was more bothered about the fact that Harry looked like he had either slept in his clothes or gotten laid, and circumstance leaned towards the latter, less accurate assumption due to the added fact of Draco's presence.
Harry did not appear to have noticed this, so Malfoy did not bring it up. The Gryffindor had his wand out as he cautiously approached the house. “Hello?”
In a flash, Malfoy's hand was on his arm, pale fingers biting into his sleeve.
“Shhhh. If there is someone there, it's likely they weren't supposed to be there; so if they heard you they're probably gone.”
“I―” Harry fell silent. “All right, that's true. Sorry.”
“Yeah.” But, on the pretense of heeding any more prospective danger, Malfoy let his hand linger.
“M-Morsmordre!” stammered a light, silvery voice from inside the house, and Malfoy's breath caught in his lungs. He suddenly felt queasy, with an inexplicable stitch under his right ribcage.
“Flashbacks to your Death Eater days?” Harry muttered as the fingers clamped on his arm grew tighter.
“Shut up, Potter,” Malfoy responded quietly, nearly mute with fear.
“Make me,” Harry murmured, deliberately leading Malfoy forward. The Slytherin pretended he wasn't subconsciously imagining ways he could shut Potter up.
“Shut up,” he hissed again, clearly following a fresh train of thought.
“Should we go in?”
“Mor―” began the voice again. They coughed, and then repeated, “Morsmor―”
A sudden idea crept into Malfoy's head.
“Harry,” he spontaneously mumbled, “what if we pretend to be dark wizards? Maybe the good cop/bad cop type of thing―”
Harry smirked at Malfoy, blatant curiosity in his eyes. “That's a Muggle term. How did you…?”
A flush found its way to Malfoy’s ears. “Unimportant. So, we need to find out what happened to Adonis Finch. Maybe give him some of that Veritaserum or whatever, tie him up somewhere and get the information we need until we don't need him anymore, and then―”
“We'll send him to Azkaban ,” Harry interrupted calmly.
“Well, of course―Potter, I'm not a Death Eater anymore.”
“But you were once,” Harry said lightly. “Oh, and by the way, Draco? We're partners now. Call me Harry.”
They entered the house and found one such Jeannifer Stingling sitting on a bed, with a curious green book open in her lap. Seeing the two wizards in her doorway, she snapped the book shut and gasped.
“Where's Addy? Are you two wizards as well? How did― what―”
She grasped the book closer to her chest, and Harry was shocked to find his name on the cover.
“ The Half-Blood Prince ,” Malfoy muttered, his hand loosely intertwining with Harry's. He dismissed it as a nervous gesture, or maybe something for the disguise.
“You look like a Malfoy,” Jeannifer speculated randomly. Draco felt sweat budding at his hairline, and reddened.
“Uh, nope. I'm Armadeus Johnson. I― I hate purebloods….like him. Them.” Internally, Malfoy thanked Merlin that Harry had chosen to grow out his hair a bit, enough to pull back slightly. We're that not the case, he would have been recognized immediately for his scar.
“And I'm James Dilc,” Harry said. “We're here in lieu of Adonis. To teach you.”
“Oh, how thoughtful!” she gushed. Her gaze then moved down to their intertwined fingers. “Are you two…”
“Oh, no, Merlin; no,” Malfoy clarified immediately.
Harry frowned, but then directed his gaze back to Jeannifer and nodded curtly. Catching the hint, Draco dropped the hand, wiping the sweat off on his Ministry robes.
“So what are you going to teach me?” she asked, peering up at them in curiosity.
“Ehm...we’ll have to take you somewhere else first,” Draco began, peering over at Harry questioningly. Harry nodded assent, and Draco offered Jeannifer his hand. She took it, with a quizzical expression on her face, and then Draco felt Harry’s hand reach for Draco’s, before rethinking this action and taking hold of a fistful of Draco’s robes. The three then Apparated, with Draco heading the destination.
They landed outside the Ministry of Magic entrance, and after quickly getting Jeannifer in, it became apparent that most wizards and witches were at home, as it was before dawn. The three hurried on their way. Once they were in the Ministry office of the head of the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad, an nervous intern ushered a very disoriented Jeannifer away to be dealt with, and someone behind the front desk said, “Thank you very much, Mist― wait, Potter? And Malfoy?”
Harry opened his mouth to respond with the woman’s name, but an abnormally blue potted plant was right in front of her name plaque.
The woman lowered her brown-rimmed glasses and gasped mirthfully. “Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, partners! Merlin, I never thought I’d see the day.”
Slowly, Draco nodded, and backed away, Harry quick on his heels. He noted the way Draco was walking briskly, leaned forward and speed walking in a way that was more like falling and catching himself repeatedly. This, Harry thought, warranted note.
“You all right, Malfoy?”
Draco stopped in his tracks. “So we’re back to that, are we?”
Turning on his heel, Draco faced the other wizard. “A last name basis. Not in a professional way, mind you. It’s habitual, isn’t it? It’s been over a decade, sod it―” his voice gave way, and Harry could only stand and watch.
“What? M― Draco, no, that’s not―”
“You should head home. Get sleep. It’s pretty early in the morning, you needn’t be here yet,” Draco muttered, glancing at the clock on the wall.
“Are you gonna...head home?”
When Draco lifted his head, Harry finally got a good look at him. His hair was a mess, and rings hung under his eyes. The pale skin that was already stretched pretty taut across his face was nearly drained of any color, though when Harry reached his hand out to intercept Draco’s, some pink tinge spread across the pureblood’s face.
“No,” said Draco, looking very much like he knew he should be heading home. He shook Harry's hand off.
"You really ought―"
"Ought to go home and get any amount of rest, I know. Yeah, whatever. I'll see you later," Draco finished, harshly bumping Harry's shoulder as he walked away.
"RED ALERT," blared a voice. "HUMAN FEMALE MUGGLE HAS ESCAPED WITH AN ITEM FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF MYSTERIES. I REPEAT, A FEMALE MUGGLE HAS ESCAPED WITH AN ITEM FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF MYSTERIES."
Harry turned to Draco, who was seething.
"She can't get out on her own. She must have had help," he said through gritted teeth. “Maybe that intern helped.”
They both laughed.
"Do you think it was Adonis Finch?" Harry asked.
"Most likely. Damned dark magic."
A small smirk crossed Harry's face, before he realized Malfoy wasn't referring to dark magic that he had used― he meant Harry.
"I'm sorry, M― Draco, I―"
"Yeah, whatever. Let's go. Do you think it has something to do with that book she has?" Draco inquired as they began walking.