Our life is more than our work,
and our work is more than our job.
Folksinger Charlie King
Startled out of an afternoon nap, Harry looked around his room, but he was, as so often these days, alone. Too often, Hermione said. Maybe she was right, if he was hearing voices in his head.
“Got under it,” the voice added in an undertone - a man’s voice, somehow familiar, coming from a jumble of things on top of a chest of drawers. Harry got up to dig through them and found the Deluminator that Ron had insisted he borrow.
“Might be helpful,” Ron had said. “Gift from Dumbledore, and all.”
“I don’t think I’ll be needing to put out any streetlights soon,” Harry had told him, “and I’ll probably just lose it.”
“Being lost is when it’s helpful,” Ron said. “You know it brought me to you and Hermione when I couldn’t find my way back on my own.”
“How am I going to get lost? I almost never leave my house.”
“I know, mate, I know,” Ron had said gently, with a hand on Harry’s shoulder and a look in his eyes that Harry didn’t want to read.
Well, perhaps the Deluminator knew what Harry should do and where he needed to go. He certainly didn’t, anymore. He clicked it, and saw a ball of bluish light emerge, pulsing like the light around a Portkey. It floated slowly out of his room and down the stairs.
A little of Harry’s old spirit of adventure returned. He stuffed his feet into his trainers and ran downstairs. When he opened his front door, Harry saw the light hovering outside, waiting for him. Shutting the door of Grimmauld Place behind him, he stood on the top step. The light floated toward his chest. He let it enter him, and Disapparated.
He found himself at the seaside, facing a small girl in a swimming costume. With her black hair, grey eyes, and imperious air, she could’ve been the little sister of a young Sirius Black.
“Who are you?” she demanded.
“Why did you do that to my papa’s skin?”
“Do what…?” Turning, Harry saw a stunned-looking Draco Malfoy, dressed in swimming trunks, the towel over his shoulders not entirely hiding a scar across his chest.
“Er – I didn’t know that would happen,” Harry said.
“You shouldn’t use a spell when you don’t know what it does,” the girl said severely.
“You’re right, and I’m sorry,” Harry had to admit.
“I was behaving rather badly myself at the time,” Malfoy said after a moment. “Have you finished chastising our guest, Booboo?”
“Did we invite him?” The girl looked puzzled.
“Would you care for a biscuit, Potter? Be my guest. Sorry we haven’t any tea.” Malfoy turned to the girl. “Satisfied?”
Harry nibbled his biscuit. “Booboo?”
“It’s the name of a star, Eta Draconis, believe it or not,” said Malfoy.
“It’s not my name!” Not-Booboo protested.
“You’re lucky we didn’t call you… Zubenelgenubi!” Malfoy poked her and she giggled.
Something tugged at Harry’s memory. Malfoy had left England and married early, but his wife - Delphine? – had died at the birth of their child… “Mira Altair,” Harry said.
She beamed, gap-toothed. “It means ‘Amazing Flying One’. I’m going to play Quidditch someday. Do you like Quidditch?”
“He was a Seeker,” Malfoy said.
“Were you as good as my papa?”
“Well – we were pretty evenly matched, but my broom was faster,” Harry said.
“It’s not polite to boast,” Mira informed him.
“He was being gracious, actually,” Draco said, “giving me an excuse for losing to him so often.”
Caught in Malfoy’s gaze, Harry forgot to reply.
“How did you know my name?” Mira asked.
“It’s written on a tapestry in my house, in gold thread.”
“Really? Can I see it?”
“Now?” She bounced.
“Mira…” Malfoy sounded slightly distressed, but Harry couldn’t help smiling.
“If your papa agrees. We can have some tea to go with the biscuits.”
Draco looked down at his daughter, who was tugging at him, then over at Harry. He nodded slowly. “Why was it you came here, Potter?”
“I heard… the light was good.”
“You’re an artist?”
Harry imagined trying to capture Malfoy’s quizzical smile, his daughter’s vivid face, the sparkling water. Why not?
He laughed. “Anything’s possible.”
“Well – we’d better not track sand into the grim old place. My great-aunt would have screeched at that. Let’s rinse your feet off, Mira.”
Malfoy hoisted his daughter up, strode into the waves, and dangled her feet so the water washed over them. She squealed with delight as he dipped her up and down. “Oof, when did you get so heavy?”
Harry helped with the tricky business of drying charms and getting into sandals while avoiding a fresh coating of sand on the feet. “You’re good at this, Potter,” Malfoy commented. “Do you have children?”
“No, I take care of my godson sometimes.” Harry shook sand out of the towel. “I haven’t seen you in years.”
“We’ve been living in France.” As Mira ran to get a seashell she wanted to keep, Malfoy added abruptly, “Thank you.”
“Being courteous in front of my daughter.”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
Malfoy looked away. “The sins of the father…”
Harry knew that well enough. As Professor Snape’s pupil, he’d had plenty of his father’s sins visited upon him. It wasn’t really the model he wanted to follow.
Mira came running back and as they walked toward a wizarding beach hut where the Malfoys could change clothes, Harry and Draco discussed how to get to Harry’s house by Floo from a nearby inn. Apparating with young children was too risky. Then Harry Apparated home to cast a few quick cleaning spells, hunt up something for tea, and open the Floo connection in the drawing room for them, hoping this whole invitation hadn’t been too rash.
He felt better as soon as Mira appeared in the fireplace in a fit of energetic sneezing. Malfoy looked unruffled as he set his daughter down and greeted Harry. She shook herself like a wet dog and seemed quite cheerful as she said hello to Harry and made a beeline for the tapestry to start scanning the names.
Her father followed more slowly. He pointed for her. “Here I am, and here’s your maman. Can you find yourself?”
“Here! My name is the shiniest.”
“Because you’re the newest,” her father said.
Mira moved her finger over the tapestry, tracing the letters of her name.
“Where’s your name, Mr Potter?”
“Oh – I’m not on there.”
“It’s the Black family tapestry,” Malfoy explained. “Mr Potter is from a different family. Your grandmother was born a Black, so we are on the tapestry.”
“No, my mother. Mamie Narcissa.”
“What about my maman?”
“She is there because she married me. I think Mr Potter wants to serve tea now. Shall we sit and have some while it’s fresh and hot?”
Mira trailed back to the table and accepted tea and biscuits, but her mind was clearly still on the tapestry. “If it isn’t a picture of your family, Mr Potter, why do you have it in your house?”
“My godfather left me the house,” Harry said, wondering for the first time what the Malfoys might think of that. “The tapestry is for his family name.”
But Mira’s concern was for Harry’s feelings, not the house. “Don’t you wish your name was there too, Mr Potter? The gold thread is so pretty.”
It was hard to think of a family Harry had less desire to join than the Toujours Pur House of Black. Except perhaps the Malfoy family. He dodged the question. “Well, what can I do.”
“I know!” Mira giggled. “You could marry my papa!”
Malfoy, who had been quiet, choked on his biscuit at the same time that Harry choked on his tea. Malfoy recovered first and said, “Wizards don’t marry each other, O Best Beloved.”
“I know,” Mira said, “but why don’t they, Papa?”
Malfoy looked at his daughter for a moment before replying. “I really don’t know.”
“Probably no one thought of it,” said Mira. “But I thought of it!”
“You are a most ingenious girl. Still, it’s possible that Mr Potter wouldn’t wish to marry me, even for the inestimable pleasure of seeing his name in gold thread so close to your own.”
“You’re silly, Papa.”
Tea finished, Mira explored the room further after Harry assured Malfoy that the house had been thoroughly “de-Darked” to be safe for children. Curious, Harry couldn’t help adding, “You don’t know why wizards don’t marry each other?”
Malfoy shrugged. “I could say, because of tradition, and she would still ask why. I could say because of prejudice, and she would ask why. It’s faster just to admit that I don’t have an answer.”
Mira was peering out a window overlooking the street. “Do you have a garden, Mr Potter?”
Harry thought that would be a generous description of the patch of weeds behind his house. “Yes, but it’s not much to look at. I guess I could try to plant something…”
“You could have a puppy,” Mira said wistfully.
“You think I should get a puppy?”
“Mira thinks everyone should get a puppy,” Malfoy said. “But when we’re living in a flat and I’m not sure how long we’re staying in England…”
“What, you’re bored here? Don’t like the weather?”
“It’s not that.”
Thank you for being courteous in front of my daughter. The sins of the father…
“I’ll tell you what, Mira,” said Harry. “If I do get a puppy, you can help me walk it.”
Malfoy looked startled, but Mira beamed at him as she went to look at the tapestry once more.
“Mr Potter, there are holes. Did it get burnt?” She frowned at the places where Sirius’s name should have been, and Andromeda’s, and other Blacks whose names Harry couldn’t remember. All blasted off the family tree for being “blood-traitors” or Squibs or otherwise deemed unworthy of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.
“You should fix it,” Mira said.
“My papa knows a good spell called Reparo.”
“I’m sure Mr Potter knows that spell as well, Mira. We should thank him for the tea, now.”
But Mira was still looking expectant. Harry had never paid much attention to the tapestry, except when the glow of new golden writing had appeared announcing Draco’s wife Delphine and later the birth of Mira. He’d certainly never tried to fix the thing, but he thought it couldn’t hurt to try. It would be good to see Sirius’s name, here in the house he’d left to Harry.
He slid his wand out and pointed at the tapestry. “Reparo.”
Nothing happened. He cast again. Nothing. “Maybe it would work better for a family member?”
Malfoy nodded and took out his wand. “Reparo.” Nothing. “Reparo.” This time the tapestry hissed. The holes remained.
“I guess that’s not the right spell. Maybe I’ll have to take a needle and thread to it,” Harry said.
“My papa’s good with needles.”
“Good with everything, is he?” Harry couldn’t resist asking, as Malfoy rolled his eyes.
“He’s my papa,” Mira said, as if that explained everything.
“Thank you for your hospitality. And forbearance,” Malfoy said.
“My pleasure,” said Harry, realizing that it was actually true.
“Bye, Mr Potter! Don’t forget about the puppy!”
Harry grinned and waved as Mira and her father left.
“Actually, I was thinking of taking up art,” Harry found himself saying. “Just as a hobby. Where do you think I should start?”
“What did you want to do? Drawing, painting, sculpture?”
Harry shrugged. He hadn’t thought that far – he just remembered the lightness he felt when Malfoy had asked, Are you an artist?
“Well, people usually advise starting with drawing,” Dean said. “You can pick up a sketchbook at the little art supply store near Flourish and Blotts.”
The shop was crammed with more types of art and craft supplies than Harry had ever imagined. He grabbed a sketchbook at random and as he went to pay, noticed a display of embroidery floss in a splendid array of colours. “Would this work to mend a magical tapestry?” he asked.
“That depends on the magic,” said the proprietor. “You could try this nice Stitch-in-Time thread, it comes in midnight blue or magenta. That’s probably your best bet.”
“I’ll take midnight blue,” Harry said. “And a needle, I guess.”
Back at Grimmauld Place, Harry tried in vain to get the needle threaded and was finally reduced to fire-calling Mrs Weasley. She had him hand the needle and thread through the fire, threaded the needle promptly, and returned it to him with an invitation for a family dinner on Sunday.
Harry thanked her and accepted before saying goodbye. He’d felt a little awkward around Mrs Weasley after he and Ginny had finally admitted to each other that their relationship wasn’t working, but a long time had passed since then. He and Ginny held no hard feelings toward each other. It was quite likely Ginny wasn’t even in the country now; she’d been restless after the war and finally taken up curse-breaking, like her brother Bill. She often went on the overseas assignments that Bill had cut back on now that he was a family man.
So why had Harry stayed away from the Weasley dinners? He realised that a long stretch of time had passed in which he hadn’t seemed to do much of anything. He’d been tired of focusing on crime with the Aurors; tired of the celebrity cults of professional Quidditch; tired of Ministry politics. He’d taken a break, waiting to figure out what to do next, waiting for his energy to come back, which never seemed to happen.
Well, now he had something to do, a small something: repair a few holes in the Black family tree. Harry knotted the thread, poked the needle through a singed edge of fabric where Sirius’s name should have been, drew the thread across the gap and jabbed the needle through the fabric on the other side. As he pulled it taut he heard a hissing noise and the bit of thread in the tapestry shriveled to ash.
At least the needle still had thread in it. Harry made another knot in the end of the thread and tried again, pulling faster this time, but again the thread blackened to a crisp and crumbled, and this time the needle was so hot that it burned his fingers.
He gave up on the tapestry, used the still-threaded needle and Stitch-in-Time midnight blue thread to fix a loose button on his favorite jacket, and took a nap.
“Not yet,” Harry said.
“I think you will be very happy when you get a puppy. Did you fix the holes in the tapestry on your wall?”
Harry had to confess that he had been unable to sew up the holes.
“We can’t hold Mr Potter responsible for what happened to the Black family tree,” Malfoy said. But Mira looked disappointed.
Just then Harry heard Seamus Finnigan calling to him, and Malfoy took his leave. It was good to see Seamus, though Harry had to dodge a lot of friendly where-have-you-been-and-what-have-you-been-up-to questions. He glanced back down the street, but Malfoy and his daughter were no longer in sight.
Potter, I’m very sorry to bother you, but I am concerned about Mira. She has been troubled by recurrent dreams about the Black tapestry, our names being burnt off, etc. I realise that this is not your problem and that the tapestry is in your home, but I would be grateful if you allowed me to attempt to find a solution. Regards, D. Malfoy
Harry wrote back immediately.
Malfoy, of course, let me know what I can do to help. Give my best to Mira. Harry
Now the tapestry had turned from a sewing project to a research project. He decided to call in Hermione.
“This really is not your problem, Harry. And I can’t imagine you’d want to meddle with Black family magic,” Hermione said.
“But it’s for a kid’s sake, Hermione. A kid with no mum who has bad dreams about losing her connection to her family.”
“How did you even get to know Malfoy’s child?”
Harry didn’t really want to bring up the Deluminator that had brought him to the beach that day. It was the same Deluminator that had brought Ron back to Hermione in the Forest of Dean. Harry wasn’t sure what that meant, but it felt private.
“She’s a great kid, you’d like her. And Malfoy’s changed.”
“Well, he could hardly be worse than he was. Nowhere to go but up.”
“Research, Hermione… You know you love it….”
He could see that the appeal of a puzzle to be solved was beginning to take hold of her.
“Hmmm. I suspect that focusing on the tapestry itself is going about it the wrong way. The holes in the tapestry just make visible the breaches in the family connections. I imagine that you’d have to heal the family relationships first.”
That was a daunting idea. “I guess that makes sense, but…. How can anyone patch up all those feuds when most of the people involved are already dead?”
“Not to mention that it’s a family full of bigots and mad people.”
“At least, since they’re dead, their madness and bigotry can’t interfere anymore. Even Walburga’s portrait finally ran out of steam and went silent.”
“Thank heavens. Hmm. Some sort of reconciliation ritual among the living family members might help. Is there anyone left who even carries the Black name?”
“Not that I know of – at least no one whose ancestors weren’t blasted off the family tree. Mira gave it the first chance for a generation to put out a new leaf somewhere.” Harry sighed. “I don’t know what I can do about the tapestry then, but thanks for the advice, Hermione.”
“Now I want to hear about you, Harry. What’s new?”
“Well… I’m taking up sketching.”
“Really? What have you drawn?”
“And I’m thinking of getting a dog.”
“The orange radishes?”
“They’re Dirigible Plums, actually.”
Luna, seer of thestrals, motherless child, least judgemental of friends. “Why don’t you come over for tea, Luna? I’d love to catch up with you. And I’d like to get your ideas about something.”
“I’d like to see Sirius’s name – after all, he’s the one who left me the house,” Harry said. “Although maybe he’s happier not to be included – he was really angry at his family. But if we could get Andromeda back too, then maybe Tonks would be there, and Remus as her husband, and Teddy. Those are relatives that Sirius would be glad to join, I think.”
Luna continued studying the family tree. “I think the best thing would be to find the nearest relation who is on the tapestry, and have them invite back whoever isn’t there. Narcissa Malfoy could ask Andromeda Tonks, they’re sisters. If Andromeda came back, maybe this little girl, Mira, could invite Teddy – they’re the same generation and some kind of cousin. And Andromeda and Teddy together could pull Nymphadora Tonks back, since she’s the link between them.”
“What about Sirius?” If his brother Regulus had lived… If Sirius had known that Regulus too had risked his life to defeat Voldemort… Harry sighed. Perhaps there was reconciliation possible behind the Veil.
Luna considered. “You’re his godson and heir, so you could represent Sirius. You could be invited by someone on the tapestry from your generation.”
“Draco, yes, that might work.”
“How do we all convince the tapestry that we’re sincere?”
“Just be sincere, Harry.” Luna smiled at him. “Since you want to be invited into his family’s House, you could start by inviting Draco to your house again.”
“And doing what?”
“You could paint pictures on the walls, I always enjoy that. Invent things. You could plan a trip to look for Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, maybe. Whatever family members do together.”
Harry wondered what he was getting into. “Sirius would think I’m mad to spend time with Malfoy. It’s all very strange.”
“You just need to accept the extraordinary, Harry. That’s why I wear the Dirigible Plums. You don’t wear earrings, do you? I could make you a necklace from them instead – they are very helpful, and the orange colour would look nice on you.”
“Er, I really don’t wear jewelry at all, Luna.”
“It wouldn’t be nearly as effective, but you could hang the necklace from a doorknob, I suppose.”
“Thanks, Luna,” Harry said fondly. “You’re a true friend.”
“But as far as I know, my mother hasn’t spoken to my Aunt Andromeda since she was disowned. I know she has regrets, but she doesn’t speak of them. She’s certainly changed her way of life since my father passed away.”
Lucius Malfoy had died shortly after the war; Harry had seen the news reports. Apparently his health had been broken, and he hadn’t been able to cope with his disgrace.
“Where does your mother live?” Harry asked.
“In Paris. She’s opened a house of fashion, which is now recognised as wizarding haute couture. She’s quite a successful businesswoman. She prefers to be busy.”
“Do you think she would even be willing to come here to meet with Andromeda?”
“If it is really important to Mira’s well-being, she would, athough she and Mira don’t have the easiest relationship. She’d prefer a grand-daughter she could dress up, take out and show off, but Mira would rather be romping through a field or wading into a muddy pond, or curled up reading a picture book.”
“How is Mira? Is she still having nightmares?”
“Not as often, now that she knows we’re working on trying to fix the tapestry.”
“It’s not going to be easy,” Harry said. “Andromeda is – tough and independent, though kind to those she loves. But losing her husband and her daughter both in the war…”
Draco sighed. “Maybe we can lead into it slowly, plant the idea. Try to get them willing to talk to each other.”
“It might not be hopeless.” After all, Harry thought, he would never have expected to be able to talk to Malfoy like this. Maybe they could set an example. “Sirius liked Andromeda. Maybe if we could get his name restored to the tapestry, she’d be more willing.”
“So, you and I are supposed to just spend time together? You really want to do that, Potter?”
Harry shrugged. “I have time, if you do.”
“I should be looking for work, but there’s only so much I can do and watch Mira at the same time. You are welcome to join us sometimes. She likes you. I can’t promise it will be very exciting, though.”
“That’s all right. My life's not exactly a thrill a minute these days. ”
“Papa, are Muggles sad?”
“Mmm?” Draco glanced up from what he’d been reading. “I suppose everyone’s sad sometimes.”
“I mean are they sad about being Muggles.”
“I’m really not an expert on Muggles. Perhaps you should ask Mr Potter.”
This was said with no discernable sarcasm, so when Mira turned her eyes on Harry, he felt obliged to answer.
“Er… Mostly they don’t know they’re Muggles.”
Mira frowned at him and Harry tried again. “They don’t know there is anything else to be. They think everyone is a Muggle, so they don’t have a name for it. Most adults don’t believe in magic, even if the children wish for it.”
Most adults. His Aunt Petunia’s voice sounded shrilly in his head. Freak!
Then came another memory – not Harry’s own, but Snape’s, which Harry had seen in the Pensieve years ago, but forgotten. A vision of his aunt’s younger self, scowling at his mother and Snape when all three were children. Snape taunting Petunia. She’d written a letter to Dumbledore begging him to let her into Hogwarts to study magic, and received a “very kind” refusal. Petunia’s face crumpling. Freak!
Shaken, Harry looked back at Mira. “But I guess – yeah, I guess some Muggles are sad about it.”
“Poor Muggles,” she said thoughtfully.
Draco was looking at her, his face lit with a complex mixture of feelings. After a few moments he said lightly, “Well, but remember they do have some things we don’t. Like helicopters.”
“Like the one you almost hit on your broom, Papa?”
Harry was pondering whether that ridiculous childhood story of Malfoy’s might actually have been true, when Mira turned to him. “Have you ever flown in a helicopter, Mr Potter?”
She looked as avid as Mr Weasley with his Muggle artefacts. I should introduce them, Harry thought. “No, not in a helicopter, but I’ve flown in a Ford Anglia. And on a motorbike.”
“Oooh! Papa, can I…”
“Let’s work on your broom skills first,” Draco said, shooting Harry a quelling look that made him laugh as if he were a disreputable and charming bachelor uncle, rather than an aimless and lethargic ex-hero.
“No problems, really,” Harry said. “We get along fine as long as Mira’s there.”
“Of course you get along with the child, Harry. But your aim is to fix the tapestry by mending a family feud, and the person you had a feud with is Malfoy. That’s the relationship you’ll have to repair.”
He had to admit that her advice made sense, and when he bought it up later, after some hesitation Malfoy agreed. It was now possible for them to meet without Mira sometimes, since a witch named Sally-Anne Perks, who had been in their year at Hogwarts but moved to New Zealand after 4th year, had recently opened a child minding service in London while the wizarding infant schools were on summer holiday. Mira had begun to go to a play group there several times a week, so that she could make friends near her age and Draco could have some time for other things.
Alone with Malfoy at Harry’s house, everything seemed more awkward. Malfoy was silent and seemed a bit jittery. Harry cast around for something to say.
“So, Malfoy, are you a tattoo artist or something?” he asked, half-jesting, remembering a remark of Mira’s.
Malfoy sprang up, his eyes blazing. “What the FUCK is that supposed to mean, Potter?”
“What? I -”
Malfoy yanked his left sleeve up and held up his forearm. “Nothing there, see? I thought we were past playing bait the Death Eater but I suppose not.”
“I didn’t – oh hell, Malfoy, I’m sorry. I wasn’t even thinking about that.”
“Why else would you be talking to me about tattoos?”
“Well, I didn’t think you did embroidery, and I was pretty sure you weren’t a heroin addict…”
“I appreciate courageous women as much as the next person, but I’d hardly call it an addiction,” Malfoy said stiffly. “You aren’t making sense, Potter.”
“Your daughter said you were good with needles.”
“Oh.” Malfoy sank back down into his seat, pushed his hair off his forehead, and blew out air in a long exhale. He looked at Harry. “Magico-acupuncture.”
“I learned it from a Chinese wizard in Paris. There are energy lines – including magical energy – running through the body. They get blocked sometimes, and things get out of balance. There are certain points where you can unblock and rebalance the flow. Inserting very thin needles is one way to do it.”
“No, usually it’s very relaxing, actually. If I had my needles with me, I could show you. It’s helpful for all kinds of ailments and conditions. I don’t rely nearly as much on potions anymore.”
Malfoy looked down for a moment and then faced Harry again. “I’m sorry for flying off the handle just now.”
“No, it was a stupid thing for me to say. I wasn’t thinking.”
“It’s really only luck that I never got the Dark Mark. I wanted it, fool that I was, when I turned sixteen, but the Dark Lord said I hadn’t earned it yet. I actually tried to draw it on my arm, just to see how it would look. He found out and traced over the design with a Stinging Hex. It burned for a week.”
Malfoy stood. “Thanks for the tea, Potter.”
“You could have been worse,” Harry said quietly.
Malfoy laughed shakily. “Not quite as vile as possible. There’s a ringing endorsement.”
“I made some dangerous mistakes that year too, trusting the wrong person. Your chest has the scars to prove it.”
“You know there’s no comparison, Potter. But thanks for acting like there might be. I’d better go.”
Harry held out his hand. “Until next time, then.”
Malfoy hesitated, looking at Harry’s hand, then shook it quickly, nodded, and left.
“Sorry, I guess I’m tired.”
“Not enough sleep?”
“Sometimes I can’t sleep, other times it’s the opposite. I have a hard time getting out of bed, but I’m still tired.”
“Are you recovering from an illness?”
“No, nothing like that. I’m fine. It’s just – sometimes it seems like there’s no reason to get up. Like nothing I do really matters, so… why do anything?”
“Potter.” Malfoy was frowning at him.
“Yeah, lazy, I know.” Harry forced a laugh.
“If you are, you don’t seem to be enjoying it much. Sounds a bit like you’re being stalked by a Pogrebin, but it can’t be that or you’d have been devoured by now. Have you spoken to anyone about depression?”
“What? No, I’m okay. I mean, I’m not thinking of jumping off a bridge or anything. I just… I just don’t seem to know what my purpose is anymore.”
“Can’t you just pick something you like to do? Can’t your purpose be to plant a tree? Write a song? Raise a child?”
“What happened to you, Malfoy, aren’t you supposed to be a Slytherin of great ambition?”
“My ambitions changed. But you, Potter, don’t you think you’ve done your part already?”
“Because I killed a maniac?” Too late to save Fred or Remus or Tonks or…
“You can’t possibly be feeling bad about that. He’s the one who cast the Killing Curse. You’re the one who stood up to him. You and Longbottom.”
Harry stared at his hands. “Well, I knew I had to die, for Voldemort to die.” You’re raising him like a pig for slaughter, Snape had accused Dumbledore. But Harry accepted it. Dumbledore had been doing what he had to.
“You didn’t die, though,” Malfoy said.
“Not for very long.”
“It seemed longer when I was talking to Dumbledore, but I came back before your mother came to check on me, so it must have been just a moment.”
Malfoy was looking at him with that quiet listening frown.
“Just long enough to get rid of the part of him that was in me,” Harry clarified. “Break the connection.”
“Part of Dumbledore was in you?”
“Part of Voldemort.”
“You were – what, you were breaking off his Legilimency? You don’t have to die to perform Occlumency, Potter. What are you telling me?”
“No, it was a little part that had been there since I was a baby – since the scar. Voldemort didn’t know it. But sometimes I would be in his head, or maybe it was that he’d be in mine – I’d hear him laugh, or I’d see what he saw, or catch his feelings, when they were really strong. I’d have dreams. My scar would hurt.”
Malfoy’s face looked greenish.
“That’s why I knew Parseltongue.”
“He was in your head? It was horror enough having him in our house…”
“I saw you. With him.”
At the look in Malfoy’s eyes, Harry tried to backtrack. “Just once. I know you didn’t want to do what you were doing. Forget it, Malfoy.”
“What did you…”
“With Rowle. The Cruciatus.”
Malfoy was breathing hard and his eyes looked panicked. Harry reached over and grabbed his hand. “I shouldn’t have said anything.”
Malfoy clutched Harry’s hand. Gradually his breathing slowed. He stared down at Harry’s hand.
“I didn’t really mean to tell you all those things,” Harry said. “Could we, er, consider this confidential?”
“Yes. Please. Maybe we could go for a long hard broom ride or something now.”
“Sure. Good. Yes.”
“Except that I didn’t bring my broom.”
Harry didn’t have an extra broom, but… “Maybe you’d like to try the flying motorbike?”
“You sound surprised.”
“I guess I expected someone more…” Slim, blonde, elegant? “More like your mother.”
“You love your mother, don’t you?” Harry said, a little defensively.
“Of course I do, but I don’t want to marry her. Any more than I want to become my father.”
“So, er, how did you meet your wife?”
Draco laughed. “Well, I didn’t recognise her the first few times I saw her. There’s another photo of her on the mantelpiece.”
Harry saw a photo of Mira, and another photo of a goat. A sturdy, shaggy, black-haired goat that seemed to be laughing. And that turned into a young woman with a mischievous smile, and then back into a goat.
“She was an Animagus. I had gone to Provence with my mother, but I just wanted to be alone, so I had gone off and wandered onto a hillside, and there was this goat nibbling herbs in the sunshine. Not that I really noticed her at first. But then there was the time she was trying to read my book over my shoulder. And when I was back in Paris and saw the same goat in a park – well, you just don’t see those shaggy Provençal goats in Paris.
“Her parents were pushing her to get married, just like mine were. We avoided wizarding social gatherings together. We could make each other laugh. It felt like… a chance at a fresh start. We married each other before our parents could arrange marriages we didn’t want.
“She always seemed so strong, so healthy. I didn’t dream that giving birth could…” He broke off and squeezed his eyes tightly shut for a moment. “But the healers said it happens sometimes, that there is nothing that could have been done.”
“I’m sorry,” Harry said sincerely.
“It’s strange. I’ve been raising Mira for more years now than Delphine and I ever knew each other.”
“Mira’s a great kid.”
“She is the dearest freshness of the world, and I’d be lost without her.” Draco gazed at his daughter’s photo for a moment, and then shook himself. “Well. Would you like some tea?”
“Why are you staring at me?”
“Just trying to practice my sketching. You shouldn’t mind, you like to be stared at, don’t you?”
“Why would you think that?”
“Come on Malfoy, you can’t deny that you’re vain.”
“Certainly I deny it.”
“You must spend forever fussing with your clothes and hair.”
“That’s not vain, Potter, that’s courtesy to the people around me. I have to be careful what I wear, or I just look washed-out. We’re not all born with vivid colouring like you. All you need to do is keep your eyes open and not wear sunglasses.”
“Washed-out? You don’t look washed-out. You’re… glowy.”
Trust Malfoy to mock a person’s vocabulary. “You want me to say luminous? Or, what… Pearlescent?”
Malfoy snorted. “Sounds like cheap cosmetics.” But Harry noticed that his cheeks were now an interesting shade of pink.
Maybe coloured pencils would make sketching more fun.
Malfoy looked concerned. “You know, I might be able to help you with that. Acupuncture can relieve insomnia and fatigue.”
“Pricking me like a pincushion is going to help me sleep? Doesn’t sound likely. But nothing else has worked. I think I’ve built up a tolerance to Dreamless Sleep and I’m afraid of an overdose if I keep taking it.”
“Come over if you’re willing to try it. You can always tell me to stop.”
So Harry took the Floo to Malfoy’s flat and sat in a comfortable reclining chair. Malfoy took his pulse.
“My heart is beating fine,” Harry said.
“Pulse is important for diagnosis in acupuncture. Hmmm.” Draco frowned. “On the magical level, you have a knotted pulse.”
“What does that mean?”
“There’s a snarl in the magical energy flow. Actually, I’ve been wondering about that since you told me about your… connection to the Dark Lord. All those years of having an alien magic in your body may have pushed your own magical flow out of alignment.”
“No one has ever mentioned that before.”
“Well, this is a different theory of healing. I’ll try to open up some places that may be blocked. It will probably take repeated treatments to get the best results, but I think I can at least help you relax for now.”
“All right… what do I need to do?”
“Nothing, you can take your glasses off and lie back, I’ll just put the needles in and leave you to rest quietly. I hope you’ll fall asleep.”
Harry didn’t really want to watch the needles go in, so he closed his eyes. Draco moved quickly and silently, and to Harry’s surpise he didn’t even feel pain from most of the needles, except for brief stings from a few on his ears. There was a point on his palm, below his thumb, that seemed to tap latent grief, and Harry squeezed his eyes tightly to hold in a tear. There was a point centred on his forehead that relaxed him.
He heard Draco’s footsteps retreat and a door close. He let a few tears trickle out of the corner of his eyes, and felt eased. Peace settled over him, his breathing slowed and deepened, and he slid calmly into sleep.
He rose toward consciousness at the sound of a loud whisper. “Is Mr Potter taking a nap?”
A quieter voice said, “Yes. Shhh, let him rest. Come into the other room.”
Harry’s eyelids fluttered. There was a light blanket over him. It was warm and pleasant. He closed his eyes and slept again.
When he woke again, he felt rested and refreshed. He lay quietly for some time. Draco came into the room, saw that his eyes were open, and asked if he wanted to get up. Harry nodded.
“Lie still and I’ll take the needles out.” It only took a moment, and then Draco was handing Harry his glasses. “How do you feel?”
“That was amazing,” Harry said. “You should go into business. I owe you – that’s the best sleep I’ve had in weeks.”
Draco smiled, a rarer, shyer smile than Harry had seen before. “You trusted me, that’s payment enough. The treatment works better when you do it often at first. Come soon and we’ll do it again.”
Mira peeked in. “Are you awake, Mr Potter? Do you want to see the picture I made at play group?”
“Sure,” Harry said. “Wow, I love the colours you used.”
“Can I show you my stars, Mr Potter?”
“I’d love to see them, Mira Altair, but it’s hard to see many stars here in the city,” Harry said. “There’s too much air pollution and so many city lights.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem here,” Draco said. “Black family houses have wards extending up to block Muggle-made pollution and lights. If it’s late enough and not cloudy, you should be able see stars through the skylights in the ballroom as clearly as we could at school in Scotland.”
“What skylights in what ballroom?” said Harry.
“You haven’t used the ballroom?”
“I’m not much of an entertainer, but I think I’d know if there were a ballroom in my house. It would be pretty hard to hide. What gives you the idea there is one?”
“I haven’t been in it, but my mother told me about dances she went to here when she was young. You’ve never seen the ballroom? Must be some trick of wizarding space. Perhaps the house-elves collapsed the top story when it wasn’t in use so they wouldn’t have to keep it dusted. Or maybe the family shut it away after Regulus died.”
“Sirius never said anything about a ballroom.”
“Well, he’d spent years in Azkaban, hadn’t he? That can narrow a person’s focus. To put it mildly.”
“I want to look for my stars,” said Mira. “Can we go look now, Papa?”
“Mr Potter’s star-viewing room isn’t open right now, Mira. We’ll go to the countryside some night and look.”
“Can you open your room, Mr Potter?”
“Er, I’m not sure how. I’m sorry, Mira.”
“My papa could help you. He’s a – how do you say it, Papa?”
“Magico-architect. When I can find work.”
So, somehow, Harry found himself on the top floor of his house, trailing along with Mira as Malfoy waved his wand at the ceiling, murmuring spells, and tapped the walls with it like a carpenter looking for a stud. Finally he made a noise of satisfaction and exchanged a few words with a sleepy portrait that looked like Cavalier version of Sirius, in plumed hat, lace collar and ringlets. Malfoy twirled his wand at the door of what Harry had been sure was a linen cupboard. It swung open to reveal a staircase.
“Awkward placement,” Malfoy commented. “The guests have to traipse past all the floors with the bedrooms. But if they couldn’t extend out the back into the garden, I suppose it was the only way to have the skylights.”
Mira was ready to scamper up, but her father told her to wait while he checked that it was stable and lit the floating candles with a spell. Harry followed him up and cast a few spells to check for Dark magic. Everything seemed safe, so Mira came up to join them in the spacious, mostly empty room.
There were indeed skylights, but the sky was clouded over and no stars could be seen.
“Look, Papa, a piano!” Mira said. “Make it play music so we can dance!”
Malfoy went over but instead of sitting down to play, did more wand-waving and murmuring. Eventually the keys began to lilt out a slow waltz. “One of those old player pianos,” he said.
“Dance with me, Mr Potter,” Mira said, holding out her arms and looking expectant.
“Er – I’m not much of a dancer,” Harry said.
“Papa, come show Mr Potter.”
“All right.” Draco looked relaxed and amused. Instead of going to dance with his daughter, he was holding his arms out to Harry. “Care to dance, Mr Potter?”
“What?” Harry laughed, which Malfoy seemed to take as consent, slipping an arm around him.
“Relax. All you need to do is follow my lead.”
“Why do you get to lead?” Harry objected, standing his ground as Malfoy moved forward.
“Because I’m the one who knows what I’m doing…. just move back, Potter, it’s a dance, not a fight.” Malfoy sighed. “You’re just constitutionally incapable of being a follower, is that it? All right then, we’ll switch, but don’t blame me if I have to back-lead.”
He didn’t really seem annoyed as he rested a hand on Harry’s shoulder.
Am I actually going to waltz with Draco Malfoy? Harry wondered.
It seemed he was. The music flowed on as Harry drew Malfoy closer, feeling the warmth of his back through his robes. They were almost the same height. Candlelight softened Draco’s face, made his hair glow. Those murmuring lips were saying something again, amused, gently teasing. Harry looked at them.
“Mmmm?” he said.
“I said, you might want to move.”
Harry moved toward Malfoy, who melted back away from him. Harry stopped and Malfoy moved a step to the side, shifting his weight. Then he was moving toward Harry, the light pressure of his arms signaling Harry to step back too.
“Just let it come naturally. Like riding a broom.”
Waltzing was nothing like riding a broom, but it wasn’t so bad. The sheer oddness of it was refreshing, in this newly discovered ballroom that was surely the most innocuous secret Grimmauld Place had ever revealed to him. As Harry gained confidence, Draco ceded more control, and Harry fell into the rhythm, moving toward his partner, drawing him back. Luckily there was a large empty room to move through, no one to run into.
Except Mira, who was twirling around in happy swoops. “You should dip him, Mr Potter!”
Somehow this struck Harry as a good idea. He slid his arm down to hold Draco firmly around the waist, and bent swiftly forward. Startled, Draco cried “No!” as a foot slid out from under him, and they were falling in a tangle of limbs.
Harry found himself lying on Draco Malfoy’s chest. “Oops,” he said.
“Do you do everything small children suggest?” Malfoy asked.
Harry realised that they were bobbing gently about a foot off the ground. It wasn’t at all uncomfortable, really. “Nice Cushioning Charm,” he remarked. “Wandless, too.”
“Essential spell for parents,” Malfoy said.
“Mmmm,” Harry said, distracted.
“Of young children,” Malfoy added.
Malfoy’s hair was slightly disheveled. Harry brushed a bit of it away from his eyes for him. His eyes seemed to be getting darker.
“Children,” Malfoy repeated. “Such as my daughter? Who is here?”
“You are silly, Mr Potter,” Mira said, looking down at him.
“Hear that, Potter? Very silly.”
Harry, who found that he didn’t really mind being very silly, rolled sideways onto his back. The Cushioning Charm was dissipating gradually and he settled gently onto the floor.
“As for you, Miss Dip,” Draco continued as he sat up. “Speaking of silly, you’ve been watching too many old dance films with Mamie Narcissa.”
“Your mother likes Muggle films?” Harry leaned on his elbow to look at Malfoy.
“She claims that Fred Astaire must have been a wizard to dance that way. And she likes to look at the clothes. The plots are rubbish, though.”
Fascinated, Harry tried to picture the Malfoys in a Parisian cinema, watching old Hollywood musicals. He wondered if they ate popcorn.
“I like the funny man best,” Mira said. “In the movie where the other funny man dances in puddles.”
“Donald O’Connor, yes, he is funny. Have you ever seen Singin’ In the Rain, Potter?”
Harry just laughed. Through the skylights he could see that wind was pushing the last wisps of clouds away. The night sky was as brilliant as it had been at Hogwarts. “Look, Mira. Show me your stars.”
Mira snuggled against her father’s other side as they all stretched out on the floor. They dimmed most of the candles and Harry lay looking through the skylights of the House of Black, listening to the quiet voices of father and daughter looking for and pointing out the stars they were named for – Draco the long winding Dragon constellation of the north, Altair the Flying One, brightest star in the constellation of Aquila, and Mira, “wonderful, astonishing, amazing,” in the constellation of Cetus, a variable star which every year disappears into dimness and is reborn to brightness. A phoenix of a star. And perhaps, like Fawkes, one with the power to heal.
Harry was sleeping better now that he got more exercise, and many nights he fell asleep smiling, with a mental image of Draco flying, all flushed face, windswept hair and sparkling eyes. Or, sometimes, Draco lying under him, eyes darkening, lit by starlight and floating candles.
No time to think about that now, Draco would be here any minute. Harry remembered that he’d picked up some new broomstick polish that he thought Draco might like to try, and ran to get it. He heard the sound of someone arriving in the Floo and as he returned with the polish, found Draco at the door of the drawing room.
“Harry, I haven’t liked to ask, but why do you have an orange radish hanging from the door-knob? It’s starting to wilt,” Draco said.
Must need to renew the Stitch-in-Time thread. “It’s a Dirigible Plum.”
“A radish by any other name would be as strange, when it’s hanging from a drawing room doorknob.”
“Accept the extraordinary, Draco.” Harry examined the orange ball more closely. It was shrivelling up a bit. “So you think it really is just a radish?”
“I’m not going to eat it to find out. Where are you getting your home decorating tips from, The Quibbler?”
Harry grinned. “Close enough. Don’t mock Luna, she’s been very supportive.”
“Luna Lovegood is utterly amazing, and we would all do well to imitate her grace under pressure. We would not do well to imitate her fashion sense.”
“Speaking of fashion, how is your mother? When do you think we should try to bring her and Andromeda together?”
Draco sighed. “I guess we shouldn’t put it off any longer.”
“But first let’s go for a ride,” Harry said.
Draco’s face lightened. He looks happier too, Harry thought.
Draco gave Harry a laughing smile. “Definitely. Let’s fly.”
Narcissa Malfoy arrived with Draco. She looked elegant as always, cool and composed.
Andromeda stood abruptly. “This was a mistake.”
For the first time Harry had ever seen, Narcissa Malfoy faltered. “Andromeda – please.”
Andromeda faced her sister, rigid with anger. “I lost my husband and my child. My only child, Narcissa. My grandson is an orphan. How could you?”
“How could you?”
“I…” Narcissa’s eyes fell. Her voice shook. “I am sorry for your losses.”
“Not only mine. All over this land, wizards and Muggles alike grieve the ones they lost to the mad ambitions of Voldemort and his lickspittle followers like Lucius.”
Narcissa flinched. “Lucius and Draco were all the family I had. You were gone, Bella was in Azkaban. You left, Dromeda. You just left me. What did I know but what our parents had said? What Lucius said?”
“You have a mind of your own, have you not?”
“Please – Andromeda…”
Desperate to be away from this scene, Harry glanced at Draco, who had come to stand beside him. Draco turned to him, silently wrapped an arm around Harry’s waist, and Disapparated them.
They Apparated to an unused bedroom on the third floor. Harry had accepted by now that Draco had his own history with this house, from childhood visits with his mother to her aunt and uncle before they died. Perhaps this room had been Draco’s then. Harry stood quietly, feeling the warmth of Draco’s arm through the fabric of their clothes. He studied Draco’s drawn face and tried to offer comfort.
“Andromeda sounds harsh sometimes, but she’s fair.”
“Fair?” Draco’s arm dropped and he moved to look out a window. “If she is fair, we’re doomed. Mercy is the only hope for Malfoys once we’re talking about the war. If you were fair, Harry Potter, you wouldn’t even talk to me. I’m not sure why you do.”
Harry couldn’t bear the slump in Draco’s shoulders or the bleak tone of this voice.
“Why do I talk to you, Draco? I’ll tell you. I spent my time lying around in a grey fog until one day out of nowhere I heard you say my name. And then suddenly I was in the fresh air of the seaside, with sun sparkling on the water, being interrogated by a bright-eyed little girl and offered biscuits by her funny, charming, adoring father, who somehow was you. And everything has been better ever since.”
Draco had turned to face Harry, his face softening. Harry moved toward him.
“So it was the biscuit,” Draco murmured.
“Idiot,” said Harry.
The moment hung suspended.
“What do you mean, you heard me say your name?”
“Ron had loaned me his Deluminator. You can use it to put out lights, but also, sometimes, when it feels like you’re stumbling alone in the dark, it gives you light back. You hear someone say your name, and let the light inside you, and then there you are. With the person you need to be with.”
He was minutely aware of their breathing, of the space between them.
“I heard a voice say ‘Harry Potter. Scarred it, saved it. Got under it.’ And when I arrived, your daughter said, ‘Why did you do that to my papa’s skin?’”
He heard Draco’s breath catch in his throat. Harry took Draco’s hand and slowly brought it to his lips. “I’m sorry I scarred it.” With his other hand, he stroked Draco’s cheek. “I’m glad I saved it.”
He let his eyes say the rest, lost in Draco’s gaze until they were drawn down, down to those lips that were parting to breathe his name. Draco’s warm arm was around his waist again, drawing him close, and there was one more moment of hesitation, an exquisite anticipation, and then they were kissing. Slow and sweet at first, and then with an eager urgency, until Harry said “Never mind under your skin, just let me under your robes,” which surprised a crack of laughter out of Draco.
“Believe me, I would love to,” Draco said, pulling back to smile at Harry and catch his breath. “But with my mother and my aunt downstairs trying to mend a rift that’s older than I am…” He paused for a kiss. “I can’t give you the attention you deserve.”
“How am I ever going to get enough time alone with you, you responsible family man?”
“If my aunt and mother don’t hex each other, maybe we can recruit them to babysit.”
“Good plan. Do you think it’s safe to go back down there?”
“Soon.” Draco sounded distracted. He drew off Harry’s glasses. “Much better. Now I can see your eyebrows.”
“You have gorgeous eyebrows.”
“No one has ever commented on my eyebrows before.”
“I can’t help it if the world is full of unobservant people.”
“Personally, I’m much more observant with my glasses on.” But then Draco kissed him again, and Harry had no attention to spare for anything other than the man in his arms.
Finally Draco sighed. “I suppose we’d better check downstairs.”
Harry retrieved his glasses and they walked down to find the two women standing by the front door.
“We need more time to talk,” Andromeda announced. “Harry, would you take Teddy for a few days?”
“Of course,” Harry said.
“Thank you. I will bring him here – he is visiting his grandfather Lupin at the moment. Narcissa and I will be in the Isles of Scilly.”
Narcissa stepped forward to embrace her son, said goodbye, and they were gone.
“Well, that looks like progress,” Draco commented. “So much for the babysitting plan, though.”
“What’s in the Isles of Scilly?”
“Puffins? And two strong-willed witches, soon. Speaking of which, I’d better go pick up my witchlet. Her play group will be over soon.”
“We should get her and Teddy together and have a picnic.”
“Just come by here and we’ll plan something.”
“All right.” Draco moved toward the door and then turned back to catch and swing Harry’s hand with a smile. “Bye then.”
Harry tugged him back into a kiss, until Draco pulled away breathless. “Play group. Must get to play group.”
“Your hair’s a mess – let me fix it.”
“You’re one to talk. If you start running your fingers through my hair again I can’t answer for what I might do. Going to the play group now.”
“Be like that, then.”
“They get on like a house afire,” Draco observed. “It must be nice to have a cousin.”
“I can’t say I enjoyed it much,” said Harry. “But – Tonks would have been your cousin. Did you ever meet her?”
“She was brilliant. She was a Metamorphmagus, like Teddy - used to make pig faces to make us laugh. And brave - she was in the Order of the Phoenix.”
“Then she wouldn’t have thought much of me.”
“If she met you now…” – if she’d lived that long....
Draco rested a hand on Harry’s shoulder, and they watched the children splash up glittering drops of seawater, Mira hiccuping with laughter as Teddy made faces for her, his hair seaweed-green.
After all those arrangements, Draco looked tense and pre-occupied. Harry wanted to see again the beautiful sated peace of Draco’s face when he was spent from passion. So he stroked, and kissed, and peeled off clothes, and held, and licked, and sucked, and moved against and over and in his lover until they both came and collapsed in each other’s arms. And he forgot about getting dressed, or going home. They slept.
A cry broke into Harry’s sleep and he started awake, feeling the bed shift on the other side. He grabbed for his wand and glasses, having to scrabble to find them in the unfamiliar room. In his alarm and disorientation he was almost in the hallway before he remembered that he was in Draco’s flat, and naked. “Accio clothes,” he whispered, and a dressing gown of Draco’s sailed into his hand. He wrapped himself in it and stepped quietly toward the half-open door of Mira’s bedroom, which was now softly lit. Draco was sitting on the bed, stroking his daughter’s hair. She looked up.
“Mr Potter’s here,” Mira said with a drowsy frown.
“Yes,” her father agreed quietly.
She blinked at Harry and turned to her father again. “Did he come on a sleepover?”
“I didn’t know grown-ups had sleepovers.”
“Sometimes they do.”
“You didn’t tell me.”
“It was late. Do you want some hot milk?”
“He has a dressing gown like yours.”
“It does look like mine, doesn’t it. I think hot milk would help you sleep.” Draco moved to get up, but Mira shook her head and snuggled up against him.
“I could get you the milk,” Harry offered, and heard a reply that sounded like “nunnaninnimun.”
“With honey and cinnamon,” Draco said. “Thank you.”
By the time Harry had found everything in the kitchen and managed to heat the milk without scalding it, Mira had fallen asleep again.
Draco stood in the kitchen barefoot. “She gets bad dreams sometimes.”
“We’ll work harder on getting the tapestry fixed.”
“Maybe this isn’t going to work out.”
“We’ll think of something. I can do more research. Andromeda and your mother are talking, that’s progress.”
“I don’t mean the tapestry, I mean -” Draco waved his hand between Harry and himself. Harry felt a chill.
“What? What’s wrong?”
“I can’t just… I have to think of Mira. She needs stability.”
“And I’m not stable?” That stung. Sure, Harry had been depressed for a long time, but he’d been so much better lately.
“You… you could have anyone, Harry.”
“Anyone but you. Is that what you’re saying?”
“Someone without the complications of single parenthood.”
“Fatherhood has made you who you are.” Harry reached out a hand and tugged Draco over to him. “It was seeing how you care for Mira that made me want to know you now… Love looks good on you, Draco.”
Draco searched his eyes and then let himself be drawn into a long kiss. Afterwards, Draco began, “You could find someone simpler….”
“But you’d better not,” Draco finished.
“Just as well. I wouldn’t know simple if it bit me.”
Draco laughed into the side of Harry’s neck. “Like this?” He set his teeth lightly on Harry’s earlobe and nibbled.
“Bed, you sexy thing,” said Harry.
After they had stopped to pet every dog whose owners permitted it, they reached the playground, and Mira ran off to climb around, nimble as the goat that her mother had sometimes been. She found a sandy-haired little boy to play with, something that involved a lot of running and shrieking and laughing.
Harry chatted with a few of the other parents. There was a lull in the noise and he looked to see Mira standing oddly quiet. Harry walked over.
“What did your mum say?” the boy was asking. Mira was silent.
“What did your mum say?” the boy repeated, cheerful and oblivious.
“Hi, Mira,” Harry said, coming to stand behind her. She pressed herself back against his legs, still quiet.
“Are you ready to go?” he asked. She nodded and he took her hand. “We need to leave now. Bye,” Harry told the little boy.
They walked back hand in hand. “It’s hard to know what to say sometimes, isn’t it,” Harry said. In the wizarding world, so many children had lost parents in the last war that people were more sensitive to those who were orphaned, and no wizarding child would have kept asking.
But Harry remembered when he’d started school in Little Whinging, having no answer when kids asked “What does your dad do?” or “Is your mum coming to pick you up?” Standing silent, turning away. Or days when the Dursleys had left him home alone, and he’d answered the phone to have some well-meaning stranger ask to speak to his parents. What could he say? They’re dead?
“My mum died when I was a baby too,” he told Mira.
She turned to look at him. “But she loved you very much, and she wanted you to be happy. And she would be very proud of you now,” she said, as if reciting something by heart.
“Yeah, she did, and… I hope so,” Harry said.
“And your papa loves you more than anything and he will always take care of you.”
His throat tightened. “He did – he tried – he died too,” Harry found himself saying.
What was he doing, telling his griefs to this little girl? What if he frightened her, what if she worried about Draco now?
Her eyes widened, but there was nothing but sympathy in them. She squeezed his hand. They kept walking.
“I will consent to rejoin the family,” Andromeda said, “but not under that motto.”
They all looked at the top of the tapestry. Toujours pur, it read, ‘always pure’: a monument to pure-blood bigotry.
Andromeda cast several spells to remove the words, but they remained. “I’ll burn them off,” she said, but Mira cried “No! No more holes!”
“Let’s add words instead,” Draco said. “We’ll work around the words that are there. What can we celebrate that is pure?”
“A pure heart,” Harry said, looking at Mira Altair.
“And to be sure that ‘pure’ doesn’t sound too narrow -” Draco paused and looked at Harry. “A generous spirit.”
“It’s not honest to say this family has always had those things, any more than to say it’s always been pure-blooded,” Andromeda argued.
“We’ll recommend them, then, as something to strive for.” Draco cast a spell, tracing in the air. When he was finished, a line of golden words was suspended before their eyes. “It means ‘always cultivate a pure heart and a generous spirit’. Can we agree?”
“Yes,” said Andromeda. Mira and Teddy nodded. Narcissa agreed.
Draco cast another spell, and the golden letters moved toward the tapestry. The fabric rippled and wriggled as if trying to escape. “I need back-up,” Draco said, and Narcissa and Andromeda drew their wands.
“By our blood we command you,” Andromeda said, her wand fixed on the tapestry. “We reclaim the House of Black!”
The golden script sank into the tapestry, rearranging the words that were already there. The new motto gleamed across the top of the tapestry: Cultivez toujours un cœur pur et un esprit généreux.
“Now I’m ready to rejoin,” said Andromeda.
Narcissa faced her. She looked as though she were about to begin a solemn and ritual speech, but then her mouth quivered and her eyes filled. She held out her hands. “Sister – Andromeda – please come back to me. Help me rebuild this family with the strength of love.”
Andromeda took her hands. “Sister, Narcissa, make this a family of welcome for all of us joined by love.”
As they held hands and gazes, slowly the hole next to Narcissa’s name began to fill in, ends of thread lengthening, weaving, joining together . A glint of gold appeared, and Andromeda’s name wrote itself across the tapestry. They waited.
“Where’s Teddy’s name?” Mira wanted to know.
“Maybe we need his mother first,” Harry said. And for her, Tonks, they needed her father first, Ted Tonks. Muggle-born. Would the tapestry accept that?
“I know how to bring Teddy,” Mira said. “Make a line. Hold hands.” She grabbed Draco’s hand in one of hers, and Andromeda’s in the other. “Now we call him, and if he can’t break through us, he’s on our team! Teddy, you run to us when I call!”
Teddy laughed, backed up a little, and his hair flashed blue.
“Red Rover, Red Rover, send Teddy right over!” Mira called.
Teddy ran the short distance towards them, holding back so as not to hurt his younger cousin’s hands. Mira held tight, and Teddy bounced back giggling from Draco and Mira’s clasped hands. He toppled into his grandmother’s arms and was swept up in a hug. “We’ve got you now!” Mira cried.
“Look at the tapestry!” Harry said. There was a ripple of energy down where Teddy’s name should be. A line of gold sprang from across Andromeda’s name and spelled out T-E-D…
“Teddy!” Mira crowed.
“No, that’s his grandfather,” Andromeda said, her voice breaking. “My husband.”
T-E-D T-O-N-K-S, and then a line down to N-Y-M-P-H-A-D-O-R-A, and a line across to R-E-M-U-S, and Harry had tears in his eyes. T-E-D-D-Y was spelling itself impatiently below at the same time as L-U-P-I-N was finishing in the line above, and from both ends a line sprang to connect Teddy to his parents.
“Hooray!” shouted Mira.
“Sirius,” Harry said shakily, “you need to come join the party.”
Draco spoke. “Sirius Black, I am your first cousin once removed. Like your brother, Regulus, I took a wrong path and realised it too late, but am trying to make amends. Your family needs your integrity. Please come back.” He took Harry’s hand.
“Sirius, I miss you. Look, your favorite cousin Andromeda is here on the tapestry now. And Tonks, from the Order of the Phoenix, you remember? And she married Remus! Remus is here! And their son, my godson, Teddy. Now I’m a godfather, can you believe it? This is Harry, Sirius. Please come home.”
The tapestry rippled as the hole next to Regulus’s name closed up, and through wet eyes Harry saw the gleam of gold. S-I-R-I-U-S.
Harry felt giddy. Draco put an arm around him and Harry leaned into his embrace.
Narcissa produced some champagne she’d brought from France and proposed a toast. Everyone was laughing and hugging and the children were cheering and bouncing up and down.
After a few more toasts, Andromeda and Narcissa began to call out more names for the tapestry. “Uncle Alphard! Come back! Your nieces want you and your nephew Sirius is waiting for you.”
“Who is the one who married the Weasley? Cordelia?”
“Cedrella. Cedrella Black Weasley! Come back!”
The tapestry appeared to have entered into the spirit of things, and was closing up the rest of the holes on its own, supplying the names they had forgotten.
“Look, there’s Phineas. And Marius, he was the Squib, wasn’t he?”
“And Isla who married a Muggle. I’d forgotten about her.”
Mira and Teddy started chanting “It’s our House and we’re all here! It’s our House and we’re all here!”
“You two wild things need to get out of the house for a while, I think,” said Draco, but no one was ready to leave the room with its new glowing names quite yet. Harry kissed Draco when he thought possibly other people were looking elsewhere, but he couldn’t be bothered to worry much about it. Finally they all went out for a walk in the park.
They headed for the door with their purchases. Draco was supposed to meet them after he finished his own shopping.
There was a sudden commotion in the street, a Body-Bind Curse and someone shouting about Death Eaters. Harry ran out the door. Down the street he saw an elderly wizard with an outstretched wand pointing at Draco, who stood petrified with a jumble of packages at his feet.
His heart in his mouth, Harry went for his wand to disarm the attacker and release Draco. Just then Mira shouted “Papa!” and bolted toward her father. The unknown wizard turned with his wand upraised.
Instinctively Harry slammed a Shield Charm around Mira. He thought relief lit Draco’s eyes, but at that instant the attacker grabbed Draco’s arm, and with a pop of Disapparition both were gone.
Harry swore and ran to Mira. She was sobbing as he scooped her up. “I want my papa! I want my papa!”
“I know, I know. We’ll get him back. Hush just a moment, can you, sweet one?”
Harry summoned a Patronus and sent it off to alert the Aurors to the abduction.
Mira clung to him. Harry was desperate to go after Draco. “I want to go look for your papa, Mira, but I have to get you somewhere safe first.”
“I want to go with you!”
“You can’t, dear heart. Your papa would want you to be safe. Let’s take you to Andromeda and Teddy, and then I can go help your papa. Can you be brave, so we can go quickly?”
His only answer was a storm of tears. Harry carried her grimly to the nearest public Floo, hoping that Andromeda was at home.
He went to talk to Ron. “I’m tempted to start Apparating to places at random and call out his name.”
“In the dark? I think you ought to go home and try to get some rest. Sorry, mate, I just don’t see what else you can do. Start fresh in the morning.”
Harry went home, but couldn’t sleep. He tossed and turned, worried, heartsick, lonely. Missing Draco. Missing Mira. How must Draco be feeling? Because Draco was alive – he had to be alive – Harry couldn’t bear to believe anything else.
He grabbed his wand, cast Lumos, and went down to the drawing room. By the light of the wand he examined the tapestry. There was Draco’s year of birth. No year of death. He was alive.
In the flood of relief, Harry realised that he could send a message. He might not be able to find Draco, but his Patronus could. He summoned a happy memory and up floated an image of Draco in bed, morning sunlight on his bare chest, laughing, his eyes drifting down to Harry’s mouth as he moved toward him for a kiss.
“Expecto Patronum!” Harry gave the Patronus his message: “Draco – I’ll find you. I’ll bring you home. Mira is safe. I love you.”
Unable to speak, Harry held him so tightly that he could feel the motion of Draco’s breathing. Finally he pulled back to ask, “Are you hurt?”
“No – just tired – and thirsty – Where’s Mira?”
“With Andromeda and Teddy. I was so worried. We should get you to St. Mungo’s to be checked.”
“I’m all right…”
“You can barely stand. I’m not taking any chances. I’m taking you there, and then I’ll get Mira.”
Perhaps Draco had run out of energy for arguing. Harry took him to the hospital reception and waited until he was admitted. “I’ll be right back with Mira,” he told Draco as he left.
When Harry returned with Mira and moved to go up to the Spell Damage wing on the fourth floor, the Welcome Wizard at the reception desk stopped him. “Only family members are permitted to visit the patient while his condition is being assessed.”
“But I’m the one who brought him in,” said Harry.
“Only family members…”
“We are family. I have his daughter with me.”
“She may go in when an attendant has time to accompany her -”
“I’m not sending her with a stranger!” Harry said as Mira clung to him.
“He’s my lover.”
“That is not a recognised…”
Harry swore and whipped his wand out. “Expecto Patronum!”
He sent his Patronus to Draco with a message: “They’ll only let family in to see you. Marry me?” The silver stag bounded away.
The desk attendant was shouting at him to put his wand away, but was soon drowned out by the Sonorus boom of Draco’s voice echoing through the hospital. “Yes, Harry Potter, I will marry you, if that’s what it takes to get you in here!”
“Good enough to be getting on with,” said Harry. “I’m off to visit my husband now.” He hoisted Mira up into his arms and took off in the direction the Patronus had gone, leaving the Welcome Wizard sputtering.
Once they found Draco’s room Mira squirmed out of his arms and ran to her father. Harry hung back a moment until Draco reached out and pulled him down to sit on the bed. “I’m fine, I’m fine,” Draco said. “Now that I have you two, I’m fine. Exhausted, but fine.”
“I’ll let you sleep, then... I should notify the Aurors.”
“Don’t you dare leave me,” Draco whispered.
“Wasn’t going to,” Harry said.
“Never mind Aurors. Get closer.”
Harry studied him.
“Truly, Harry, there is no danger. I just want you.”
“Mira, let’s take our shoes off,” Harry said. “Pull back the covers so we can get in. Our family is going to take a nap.” He closed the bed-curtains with his wand, and cast a quiet Shield Charm.
The hospital bed was narrow, but as they all had their arms wrapped around one another, it didn’t much matter. Mira made a contented mumur as she snuggled up against her father. Harry pulled the blanket up over them all. He pressed a light kiss to Draco’s cheek. “Nice use of the Sonorus charm.”
“Nice Patronus, O My Betrothed.”
“I’ll teach you how to make one. You concentrate on a happy memory.”
Draco smiled, his arm tightening around Harry. His eyes drifted shut. Mira’s eyelids fluttered.
Harry watched the two of them, their faces peaceful, their chests rising and falling steadily. His own breath slowed and deepened, following their rhythm, and he slept.
“I’d feel safer if you were at Grimmauld Place, until this is sorted,” Harry said.
“I’ll tell you what happened tonight, after Mira’s asleep,” Draco said.
“Mira, would you like to come on a sleepover to my house?” Harry asked. She nodded.
They had a quiet dinner. Mira was subdued, and fell asleep soon afterwards, leaning against her father on the sofa as they looked at a storybook. Draco carried her upstairs to the bedroom next to Harry’s that they had made ready for her. Harry followed.
“I don’t want to leave her alone up here,” Draco said.
“Come sit in my room and we can talk. We’ll hear her if she wakes.”
Draco followed Harry into the bedroom, but made no move to sit.
“Draco… I will listen to anything you are willing to tell me. And then we need to find this wizard and stop him before he does something like this again.”
“He won’t. He’s just an old man.”
“A crazy, dangerous - ”
“Grieving old man. He lost his daughter, years ago. She was murdered by Death Eaters in the first war.”
“But what’s that to do with you? You were a baby then.”
“He thought…” Draco’s face twisted. “He thought I was my father.”
“You don’t look anything like him.”
Draco gave a tired laugh. “I doubt many people would agree with you.”
“You don’t. You’ve grown into someone completely different. Anyone who can’t see that is an idiot.”
“Well, he was just an old man who’s been living alone for too long with only his grief for company. And when he saw me, something snapped.”
“What did he do? Did he hurt you?”
“No, he tried a few spells to punish me, but he didn’t have the heart to make them effective. Mostly he just talked, talked and cried. I couldn’t say anything, because of the Body-Bind Curse.”
“Finally your Patronus came. It confused him. He didn’t know why it called me Draco, instead of Lucius. He switched to Incarcerous, but loosened the gag so I could speak. I told him that I wasn’t Lucius, I was his son. I told him that I was sorry about his daughter. I told him that I had a daughter too.”
“So he believed you?”
“Not at first. We were both very tired by then.”
“Why did he change his mind?”
“He showed me his daughter’s picture. He was sobbing. I cried too. He said… he said that my father would never have cried.”
Draco was shaking. Harry wrapped him in his arms.
“She was just a little girl, Harry. She was just Mira’s age.”
“Oh, Draco.” Harry held him while he wept.
“Come.” Harry drew Draco to the bed and they shed their clothes and lay together quietly. Harry stroked Draco’s hair and they slept.
Early the next morning Harry woke to find his lover smiling at him. Harry moved to kiss him but Draco pushed him gently onto his back, then planted kisses down his body until Draco took him in his mouth. Harry’s hands trembled on Draco’s head. He was lifted by passion until he cried out and fell back.
Draco took Harry’s hand down and placed it on himself and they moved together until Draco too cried out, and Harry drank in the beautiful sight of his lover’s face lost to passion. Undone by love.
They slept again and woke when sunlight spilled warmly over them. “Well,” Draco said, “now that we’ve announced our engagement to the wizarding world at large, what are we going to do about it?”
“I don’t care about the world at large, but I never want that to happen again, some officious prat in a hospital trying to keep me from seeing you because he’s decided we’re not family.”
“I’m not sure what’s necessary for the Ministry to recognise a marriage. I suppose we can always make our own ceremony. Mira might enjoy being a bridesmaid. She and Teddy could pelt each other with flowers.”
“Hermione would fight a legal battle for us. And if that tufty-haired wizard who always does the marriages and funerals won’t do it, I’ll bet Luna would be willing to officiate.”
“As long as I don’t have to wear radishes.”
“Those either. My mother will be wanting to design the robes, and I feel sure that jewelry made of orange produce will clash with whatever she comes up with.”
“You and Mira should move in here. There’s loads of room. You could open a magico-acupuncture studio and an architectural office both.”
“Don’t you think that having an Unplottable address might be bad for business?”
“Spoilsport. I’ll give art classes for children. We’ll have a room just for messing about with paint. Mira and I can run a dog-walking business for Muggles in the neighborhood.”
“Oh, you two are going to gang up on me and get a puppy, I can see it now.”
On their return from a honeymoon in the Isles of Scilly (to see the puffins), Harry, Draco and Mira stepped out of the Floo into the drawing room at Grimmauld Place. The afternoon sunlight seemed to make the lettering on the tapestry gleam even more than usual. Mira ran over to the wall. “Look! It’s our House and we’re all here!”
“Mmm-hmm,” Harry said, feeling a little tired at the thought of unpacking.
“We’re all here!” Mira repeated. She tugged Harry and Draco over to look.
On the other side of Draco’s name, a new golden line linked to a new golden name. Harry Potter.
“See? Isn’t it pretty?” Mira said.
“It’s beautiful,” Draco said.
Harry’s eyes stung. Let anyone try to keep me away from my family again, he thought fiercely. If the Ministry doesn’t like my marriage, they can take it up with the tapestry of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.
He looked at his husband and his daughter. “Beautiful,” he repeated. Pure hearts and generous spirits.
Anything is possible.