Thanks so much to Hedgwick 1175 for the wonderful image. The apartment block featured in this image is actually real and my inspiration for Harry's new flat.
Draco’s eyes opened up in disbelief. What was Potter on about? How could his mother’s death be connected with anything that the Dark Lord might have been trying to do to Potter?
Harry gave him a look that indicated how serious he was about the matter.
Malfoy shook his head. “Sorry, that cannot be. He can’ t have tried that with you!” he told him not wishing to elaborate.
“Why not?” Harry questioned, not understanding why his guest was so surprised and thinking that this was another ploy to get out of the situation.
“How much do you know already? I know you intruded into my thoughts, taking advantage of the fact that I was grieving. I know you did it when you came to my room that morning. I just can't believe that you could act so lowly! Also, I thought you were supposed to be rubbish at Legilimency,” Draco spat looking affronted.
“Look, I never did that on purpose. You obviously don’t know me at all, do you? I’m just not that kind of person, alright? Harry protested “Yes, I saw stuff…you already know that.”
“Well, then you will know yourself why you can’t be right” Draco retorted.
“No, I don’t. I wouldn’t be asking you now unless I really had to. I didn’t see the whole thing and I got it through your thoughts. I saw part of what you know but, of course, I didn’t see it happen.”
“So much for your Gryffindor honour!” Malfoy said snarling. “You make promises to sound like a gentleman, and then do whatever you want regardless.” Draco was now frustrated since he was well aware that Harry could force the issue by threatening him with Moody and Veritaserum once again.
“I made you a promise when I didn’t know that he could kill me that way too. Things have moved on since, I’m afraid. Also, I’m asking you on my own. I told you I’m not going to make the whole thing public knowledge.”
Malfoy glared at Harry disdainfully. “Anyhow, why should I care about what the Dark Lord does to you, give me a good reason, Potter?”
“Here we come again with the silly little game. I would have thought you should care because I’m helping you out, because I’m trying to ensure you stay alive yourself. Also, even if you are incapable of being grateful, because we’re now on the same side,” he tried to reason.
“Yes, we’re on the same side but that doesn’t mean that it has to be you the one who, well… Fame has really got to your head, hasn’t it? Do you really think that I have ever believed all that rubbish, about you being the Chosen One?” Malfoy replied in a mocking tone.
“That’s entirely up to you but, why do I get the feeling that you’re trying to show off, to be hard, like you were with Dumbledore?”
Draco now didn’t know what was best for him to do. The fact that Harry was convinced that this could happen to a male told him that he was not fully aware of the ritual, that he did not know what his mother had offered, and certainly that was something he had no desire to go into. But why was Potter so convinced that there was a similarity? He thought his best bet was to throw a question at him in turn.
“Ok, how about this: you tell me what you believe he tried to do to you, then I’ll tell you what I think.”
Harry realised that it had to concede something. “Ok, I believe your mother made a connection with Voldemort voluntarily and unilaterally. I did that too.” There was no point in keeping it a secret that his scar hurt at times and that he had visions of what Voldemort was doing, since Voldemort himself knew.
“You tried to play long distance Legilimency with the Dark Lord?” Malfoy scoffed.
“Something like that,” Harry replied maintaining his gaze.
“And what exactly did he do to you? They said you just had a cold,” Draco mocked again.
“He made me faint and then I had a very serious blood pressure drop, almost a fatal one, satisfied?” Harry hated having to admit this to Draco but had no choice if the truth was to be discovered. Then he added, “Look, I’m not interested in how she tried to give herself to him. I know why your little brain wouldn’t link it, because I’m male, yes, I cannot bear him a child; but can’t you see that this is not about the damn ritual, it’s about the connection. I believe that he has the power to control the body functions of people who try to connect with him without his consent!” Harry yelled at him almost despairing.
Draco shuddered. He went quiet. Obviously, Harry knew about the ritual. How had he managed to penetrate his mind to such levels though? although he supposed that the fact that he couldn’t get the details of how his mother had died out of his head hadn’t helped. Malfoy was now deep in thought.
“But that’s not what happened…” Draco let out, almost unwittingly.
“No, I know she bled to death, sorry to mention this,” Harry apologised in a soft tone of voice. “He tried to starve my organs of oxygen by the look of things. Maybe he goes for physical weaknesses or something, who knows! It seems to me that he’s trying something new and he’s doing pretty well. Now, all I’m asking you to confirm is whether or not your mother tried this voluntarily too, I don’t think it’s too much to ask.”
“Will you help me if I tell you?” asked Draco, to Harry’s astonishment.
“Help you with what?” Harry replied startled.
“Well, I think you saw that too, about my mother. I don’t think she got to the right place, if you see what I mean.”
Harry sighed and closed his eyes for a brief second. It wasn’t like Draco to admit something like this, and to him of all people. The truth was that Malfoy was now at the end of his tether. He had managed very little sleep since Narcissa passed away, for she seemed to be trying to reach out to him every night.
“Yes, I know about that,” Harry replied softly, “I’ve thought about that too, you know. I’m not this uncaring person you believe I am. It’s just that I really don’t know what can be done. Maybe the ghosts at Hogwarts can give you some indication, I don’t know what else to suggest,” stated Harry sincerely.
“I think this is different, I don’t think she is one of them,” Draco said sternly but with a tinge of haughtiness. “You’re going to laugh at me now, Potter but, I’ll tell you what; I don’t care anymore. I was just wondering whether to get in touch with the Muggle priest, maybe he knows a way.”
Harry now realised how truly desperate the other boy must be for him to admit that he was willing to trust Muggle religion, being such a proud pure-blood. Harry thought for a moment.
“But I thought she was buried the Muggle way. I imagine whoever conducted the funeral did whatever had to be done…”
“Well, whatever that was, obviously hasn’t worked very well,” Malfoy snapped.
“And what do you want my help with, I mean, how do I come into this?” Harry truly didn’t get it.
“Well, isn’t it obvious Potter? You were brought up as a Muggle and your parents are dead,” Draco told him as if talking to someone really stupid.
“Yeah, and?” Harry still could not grasp where Malfoy was heading.
“Ok, I’ll have to spell it out for you then.”
Harry couldn’t but notice that Malfoy couldn’t speak to him in a civil manner even when asking for a favour, although he did realise that the whole Narcissa business was a very sensitive subject.
“Maybe you can talk to the Muggle priest,” Draco continued, “as I told you, I did a memory charm on him and he’s convinced I’m someone else, a Muggle in fact. Maybe you could explain to him that we are wizards and that we may need his help.”
“I get it! You want me to be the one to breach the statute of secrecy, I see!” Harry retorted beginning to lose patience. “So, I knock on this priest’s door, I tell him that I’m a wizard, that you lied to him and that we have a problem with a ghost, is that right?” Harry thought he had heard it all by now.
“Well, you seem to give the right impression, don’t you?” snorted Draco. “You had everyone wrapped around your little finger at Hogwarts, people pity you because your parents died when you were a baby and, essentially, you have a talent for falling on your feet.”
“Look, Malfoy I didn’t play poster boy for the Ministry and I’ve no intention of doing that for you either. If you think the priest can help, then you will have to use your guts for once in your bloody life!” Harry shouted, enraged at Draco’s cheek.
Malfoy did not appreciate this comment and locked his ice-grey eyes onto Harry’s but Harry’s expression told him that he wouldn’t budge. He realised that he had to go about it in a different way, “Ok,” he suggested, “Maybe he can help you about your parents too. You have seen them at times, haven’t you?”
Harry now shook his head, “Look, there is nothing wrong with my parents, right? I’m pretty sure that they’re where they’re supposed to be,” he spat out annoyed, feeling slightly hurt.
“Then, why do you keep seeing them and hearing your mother screaming and all the rest?” Draco asked defiantly.
“The screaming..., ok, I’ll be open with you, I think that’s a memory, a very deeply buried memory that the Dementors seem to bring to the surface. I was there when she died, even if I was one. I saw her being murdered! It’s a very old memory, that’s what it is. It doesn’t mean that she is still around,” Harry said hoping to close the topic.
“But they’re around you, Potter, and you know it. They cannot be in the right place and be still around you!” Draco replied almost taunting him, pleased about having caught Harry on something.
“First of all, I thought this was about your mum not about my parents. Secondly, I have only seen them twice; once in a mirror that shows your wishes and once after your former master’s wand and mine connected, so would you please, in Merlin’s name, leave my parents out of this! Harry commanded.
Draco remained silent and took his gaze down. Harry now couldn’t help but thinking about his parents, about the rumours concerning his mother and Snape. Snape… Snape and his godforsaken book which he now needed back! His brain was working fast, he began to think about how Draco smuggled the Death Eaters into Hogwarts. Maybe the cabinets had been left where they were. Perhaps that was how he could get to the Room of Requirement. He smiled at the thought, and was now on a better frame of mind.
Draco made a last attempt at persuading Harry, now looking more demure, “The reason I want your help is because you must know about Muggle religion, since you were brought up with Muggles. You can tell him that you support his faith and all that, and ask him to help us.”
“Ok, I need to go to Muggle London soon anyway. You go and talk to this priest and tell him whatever the hell you wish. If he needs convincing, I can back what you’re saying, that she needs to cross over and all that, but I’m not going to be the one to breach the statute of secrecy and that’s a promise! The Ministry wants my blood enough as it is. You, however, have little to lose since you’re in so much danger anyway. That is my final offer, Malfoy, take it or leave it! Also, you still haven’t answered my question. Did your mother made a connection with Voldemort voluntarily and without his consent?”
“Yes, Potter, but you knew that already,” Draco answered curling his lip.
Arthur and Molly Weasley went to bed relatively early, leaving the rest of the inhabitants of Grimmauld Place and their guests to enjoy themselves best they could. Molly had almost become angry with Arthur for suggesting that she mustn’t reveal to anyone Remus’ whereabouts given the current political climate. She had understood perfectly well whom he had meant by that. Did he not have feelings for his own son? She had now become convinced that either the vision had been planted or that Percy was under the imperious curse. Mr. Weasley had promised her to keep his eyes opened at the Ministry and to try to figure out what the situation was, especially as to whether there was any truth in his wife’s theory regarding the curse in question. However, nothing seemed to pacify Molly. Both Mr. and Mrs. Weasley felt very drained by it all. Once inside the bed, Arthur attempted to comfort her by surrounding her with his wiry, yet relative strong arms. She welcomed this sign of affection and she let herself go. She did no longer have to pretend and cried to her heart’s content onto Arthur’s chest. They remained joined in a tender embrace until both fell asleep.
The following morning rose wet and muddy, even a bit chilly for the time of the year. It reflected well the general mood inside of Grimmauld Place, Harry thought. He was the first to get up and was surprised not to find Molly Weasley potting about in the kitchen preparing breakfast for everybody. He smiled wondering whether perhaps someone had given her a tranquilising potion. He did have a prime suspect. This was the kind of thing, he thought, Ginny would do.
He knew he had promised Mr. Granger to get back to his place to try to find a suitable property to purchase. He just had this gut feeling that they should have their own base before they ever attempted to break into Gringotts. Somehow, he sensed that they would need the new place to hide if they managed to escape. If they were followed back to their current residence, they would be giving away its location, even if their pursuers were unable to see the actual building. A large Muggle apartment block would be a much better place, too many addresses to be searched, too much confusion, besides they would not be compromising the safety of their fellow Order members. Hermione ought to go back to her father’s too. It had been most unfortunate that events had unfolded the way they’d done and that they all had had to leave so soon. Also, there was very little Hermione could do at Headquarters in any case. Ginny and Ron, however, or at least one of them, ought to stay at Grimmauld Place keeping an eye on Molly, hopefully cheering her up a bit as well.
There was also the issue of the potions book, but that now seemed easier to accomplish. Harry thought that, with all the mayhem, it was unlikely that the cabinet in the Room of Requirement had been removed. Of course, Draco had told Dumbledore, but the three of them had been alone at the top of the tower when Malfoy had confessed to this. People had concentrated on the fact that the Headmaster had died, not on the details of how that had come about. Now, the next question was whether its twin was still at Borgin & Burkes. Questioning Malfoy on the matter would be useless since he seemingly hadn’t been in contact with Death Eaters since his murder attempt and, even if he had, he doubted very much that he had been privy to anything at all. He could always go there under his invisibility cloak and find out. But, of course, yes, Malfoy could tell him where exactly in the shop the artefact in question had been in the first place. He would have to take the opportunity to ask him about this now that Draco was almost begging for his help with the priest.
Harry was miles away in pursuit of these thoughts when he heard footsteps. He was pleasantly surprised to see that it was Ginny. She sat by his side after setting the kettle to boil the Muggle way, since she wasn’t yet of age. He briefed her on his general plans but omitted to mention the business of Narcissa’s ghost in consideration for Malfoy. Ginny appeared pretty excited about the apartment idea. Harry decided to go upstairs and show her some brochures that Hermione’s father had given him to browse through. He thought about asking her to follow him to his room but then realised that there was no need to get caught there by her mother and dampen Molly’s spirits even further.
“Wait here a second,” he told her smiling, stealing a very quick kiss on his way up the stairs.
He came back with the brochures in question. Ginny was curious and was the first to take a look at them.
“Merlin’s beard, Harry!” she was now astonished at the sight of the properties. Most of them were very modern, obviously very exclusive too. “How much would that be in our money?” Ginny enquired looking at the price guide of one of the developments, realising that whatever it was exactly, it looked like an exorbitant amount.
“Ok, let me calculate it,” Harry said blushing a bit but knowing that if they were now boyfriend and girlfriend, she did have the right to know, “Ok, over two million pounds, so, five pounds to the galleon, this one is approximately 400,000 galleons then,” Harry replied timidly, pointing at a building that the leaflet claimed was the winner of an architectural award.
Her eyes opened up denoting something between surprise and terror. “Harry, have you lost your mind?”
He got held of her affectionately and sat her on his lap, hoping no-one would come just yet. “Look,” he started, “either I spent it, invest it, as Hermione would say, or Umbridge gets it all,” he looked slightly sad when he said this.
She looked into his eyes as if looking for answers. He kissed her forehead softly and said, “Look, there is enough in the pot to go about, ok? The idea is really to spend a large sum in something outside of the Ministry’s domain, that’s the whole point of it.”
She knew Harry was rich, but she was so astonished that she seemed almost frightened. “But I thought you’ve only managed to take out twenty per cent…”
“I’m using the money at Gringotts for this, you see. The goblins cannot support me openly but haven’t stopped the credit card either. I know in Umbridge’s eyes this is kind of illegal,” he went on to explain.
She now laughed out loud. “To hell with Umbridge!” she exclaimed in high spirits.
“Anyway, this doesn’t represent the whole twenty per cent,” and as he said that, he blushed again. “Gin, I'd much rather live at the Burrow any day and I’m not just saying that, it’s much more homely. This is pretty and luxurious and whatever else, but this is the Muggle world, no Quidditch pitch, just a communal gymn, you see,” and he played with her red locks as he said that, “but the Muggle world is far safer and much more anonymous. Busy business people live in this kind of place, everyone comes and goes, nobody notices. I have plans for the place, the study group, for one, also it would give us somewhere private to talk about… you know.”
“Can I come and live with you too?” she asked excitedly, as if day dreaming. “I know Ron and Hermione will!” she now protested.
He smiled. “I’d love that more than anything else at this moment in time, but Ginny, you’re sixteen still, I mean, please don’t kick me or anything, it’s not me saying that, but think of your parents,” he quickly clarified, still running his fingers through her hair.
“Why do I have to date someone a year older. Why couldn’t I stick to boys in my own year, you patronising git!”
“You will come plenty of times, the study group, remember? Your mum cannot insist we hold it at Headquarters, can you see?”
She had to accept that Harry was speaking some sort of sense but she still wasn’t happy. What was it with the younger Weasley siblings that they felt constantly left out, Harry thought.
She decided it was best if she calmed down for a minute. There was enough drama going on in that household as it happened. Besides, she usually got the last word in the end. After all, experience had told her that perseverance was a fairly strong weapon. In that vein she continued looking at the brochures.
“Harry, this building is amazing, I mean, if you are so determined to splash out like that. Incredible kitchen, awesome, most of the walls are made of glass, it'll be like living in a boat floating on the sky!” Ginny was now persuaded.
“Let me have a look,” he told her almost taking the glossy advertising feature from her.
The development in question looked in fact like a wedge, a vertically truncated pyramid. It had been built apparently four years before. It was actually the award winning one that they had read about out earlier. It went from three stories on the east flank to twenty on the north-west, with progressive ascension. It appeared to be a conglomerate of five connecting blocks joint by futuristic clear glass elevators. In fact the whole western façade was entirely glassed, maximising what were undoubtedly breath-taking views over the river Thames.
“I love it,” Harry said unable to contain himself. “I just bloody love it!” He look at the name and location of the building: “Montevetro, 100 Battersea Church Road, Battersea, London, W11 3YL” Harry sighted with excitement and lifted Ginny up in the air and swirled her around forgetting that someone else could come in. “I know your mum won’t be pleased, Gin, so it may not be this year, but I promise you, if at all I can, that, at some point, we will live there together!”
At that very moment, the couple realised that someone had just entered the room. They were Remus and Tonks holding hands, looking a bit dishevelled but clearly grinning. Remus this time, instead of telling Harry off, smiled at him. Happiness obviously had a funny effect on people.
Fred and George came to the kitchen next looking as mischievous as ever. Tonks smiled back at them. This was her way of letting them know that she had outsmarted them, that the prank they had intended by placing exploding cherubs under their bed hadn’t worked. Ginny and Harry glanced at each other with obvious complicity, even though they didn’t know for sure what the joke had been about.
In fact, almost everyone apart from Malfoy and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley followed very shortly, including Mr. Granger, who had stayed the night and looked pleased to see Harry looking his normal self. He also glanced at the brochures as he caught Ginny’s gaze and understood that Harry was now ready to put the plan into action.
Harry decided at that point that it was about time to wake Draco up. He had a priest to convince and himself, a property to buy.
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