To confirm - I make no claim (obviously) to the characters below, but am really happy to have had the chance to play with them and make something that is, I hope, enjoyable to read.
I will also admit that this is my first story so please let me know what you think. I am very open to constructive feedback and comment on the story so please, if you have time and would like to please, either comment or drop me an email on phill2818 at hotmail .co . uk
Harry Potter and the Unforeseen Hero
Chapter Sixteen: Hunting
"Harry can we have a word?" Hermione said.
It was early evening and Draco and Harry were sat on the sofa, after yet another excellent meal prepared by Kreacher, ensconced in an intense discussion about Voldemort and his movements prior to the blond's discovery and torture. He looked up from the conversation and nodded "Yeah sure; what's up?"
"In private, if that's ok" Hermione replied.
Raising an eyebrow he pushed himself off the sofa he had been occupying so close to Draco. It was a worrying state of affairs just how quickly he had grown attached to his roommate.
The foursome had celebrated the destruction of the Horcrux with two days well earned rest but all too soon it was back down to business and the preceding two weeks had been spent researching from morning to night. As Hermione was fond of saying; `no research was ever wasted research because it may come in handy later' but for Harry the two weeks had been frustrating. It felt as though nothing had really been achieved; they were no closer now to when they had been to finding their next target. The intensity, at which they had been working, under Hermione's watchful eye, had also restricted his time to progress whatever it was that was going on between himself and Draco. They had limited time alone together and much to Harry's silent disappointment Draco and he had not shared a bed since the destruction of the last Horcrux. Harry knew why this was of course; they were both nervous, true enough, but the main reason was that Hermione had taken to barging into their room early in the morning to start work on their research.
"What's up?" Harry asked again as he stepped into the kitchen and Hermione closed the door behind him.
"We wanted to talk about what to do next"
Harry pulled out a chair and sat down looking confused "Well why isn't Draco here then?"
"Because he is the reason we want to talk" Hermione cut in
"What about him?"
"Of course we will tell you but first I want you to promise that you will hear us out"
"Just get on with it"
"Do you promise?" she persisted
"Yes, fine, speak already!"
"It's obvious that you and he have come to some sort of unspoken understanding because you don't bicker nearly as much as when we first started out together"
Harry cut in "What's your point Hermione?"
"Our point is that when we discussed his coming along back in The Burrow it was because he had something we needed; information on the Horcrux. Now don't get me wrong he has been a good help what with brewing the potion to destroy the last one, researching and stuff but why is he still here? That's what we want to know. I personally don't have any issue with him being here as long as well all know why and are agreed on it" she looked up and then added almost as an after thought "It's the way we have always worked"
Harry felt mutinous it was now clear to him why he had felt that some of their discussions had been less than fruitful. His two friends had been holding out in the expectation that now the first Horcrux was destroyed Draco would be leaving their camp. He was also undeniably clear that it had taken them two weeks to speak up and ask this question. Feigning calm he didn't feel he cleared his throat and pieced his friends with an appraising look.
"He is a different person you know? To the one we had to endure at Hogwarts I mean. I think we should call him in here and ask him if he wants to continue to help and if he does he shouldn't be treated as the outcast of the group anymore. Unless you have forgotten he saved my life down in the basement and he also brewed the potion that destroyed what we found down there. We never planned to be on this quest, or whatever you want to call it, as a group of four but that is how it has worked out and not once have I felt that he has held back on me or our objectives" He raised an eyebrow and glanced at his friends. Hermione was looking mollified and Ron frustrated. "Oh and in case I have missed something, please do speak up if I have, I am not aware that he has been tormenting you or in fact has been anything other than civil? Am I wrong?"
Ron grunted a "no" and Hermione shook her head. Harry ran the palms of his hands over his face and returned a fixed gaze at the two of them.
"Then please tell me why are we having this conversation? Do you think he is secretly reporting to Voldemort? Surely you agree that having an extra pair of eyes working through this stuff is useful? As I said before we set out; I am not asking you to become friends but I am asking you to see that he is an asset?"
"Fine. I don't have a problem with anything you have said Harry but this is different to what we originally discussed but I do think we should ask him if he wants to continue; I don't think we want anyone here who is less than committed. Agreed?"
"Fine. DRACO" Harry agreed and then yelled for his roommate. A moment later the Slytherin poked his head around the door.
"Sit down" and Harry kicked out a chair from the table next to him. He continued as the blond took a seat. "Ron and Hermione have a question for you; don't you guy's?" Hermione turned her piercing look on Harry as if to say `thanks'
"Not so much a question, more a point of clarification, to be honest. You are still here"
"Very observant" Draco replied with a smile
"What do you mean why? I would have thought that was perfectly obvious"
"Not to me. You have done what you signed up to do and fulfilled the unbreakable vow that you took. From us at least you have your liberty. We have worked well together but we are not friends and I have never really been clear on your motives for supporting us other than that were fulfilling the terms of your vow. So forgive me Malfoy but no, I am not clear, why you are still here?"
"He killed my father, nearly killed me and has done god knows what to my mother" he shuddered involuntarily as the reminder of his mother and the state of her health remained a mystery to him "Events like that change a person Granger. I believe in some of the things he is trying to accomplish" he raised his voice as Ron piped up to interject "No, before you even ask, killing muggles and wizards alike is not one of the points we agree on. But I do think we run the risk of eroding our heritage if it is not respected and protected. BUT that doesn't mean that I believe the way to accomplish those goals is by having a mad man in charge. I want him gone as much as the next free wizard if only in the hope that some objective person can see the way we are living is damaging out future. You are one of the cleverest people I have ever met Hermione and it pains me to admit it. I hated you for it" Harry noticed the past tense but did not interrupt. He wanted to pull the blond into his arms as he now sagged down looking at the floor. "In fact I hated you with a passion for it. I can see that you as a muggle born are as intelligent, if not more so, than any pure blood witch or wizard. But you remain woefully ignorant of the history and heritage of the magical world. I think anybody pure blood, half blood or muggle born should be given the chance to learn and appreciate where we have come from. I guess you could say my view points have shifted with experience"
"I see" it was not often that Hermione was left with little to say but this was clearly one of those occasions.
"I am here because I want to be. I want to do whatever I can to get rid of him"
"Any other questions?" Harry glanced at his two best friends and then at Draco "I want this concluded today so that we can focus on what has to be done with no more distractions"
"No" Ron and Hermione had both muttered
"Yeah I have one" Draco looked up and glanced at the three faces looking at him and continued "why is it that Hermione feels the need to come into our room every morning. I fully understood why when Harry was ill but he is back to normal now. I mean, the Wesel isn't my type either do you suppose she is trying to catch one of us in the buff Harry?"
Lots of things happened at once Harry swallowed a snort of laughter, Hermione turned a shade of scarlet that uncle Vernon would have been proud of and Ron had drawn his wand and pointed it at Draco.
"Take it back" he spat "After that little speech you just gave you are still an arsehole"
Hermione laid a hand on Ron's arm and he lowered it slowly down. "Malfoy you have my word that I will no longer be entering your room but if either you or Harry are late for our morning starts..." and she turned her back on the group and stalked away leaving the threat hanging in the air.
"Prick" Ron spat and turned to follow his girlfriend out of the room.
"Do you think he likes me?" Draco asked as he turned to Harry
"I don't think so. But I do" he blushed as the words left his mouth and turned away to boil the kettle. A set of arms slipped around his waist and pulled him gently back into Draco's body. Inhaling deeply he absorbed the scent that had been plaguing him with its absence for the past two weeks. Something brushed his ear and pressed closely against it "I like you too"
"Is that why you saved me?"
"I have saved you twice if my memory serves me right"
"Yeah once from a basement and once from a load of Death Eaters you brought into the camp"
"That second one doesn't count"
"I would have had it covered"
"Of course you would have Potter. To be honest I thought we made a fair team. We were, after all, the only two that remained fighting"
The closeness of the blond and the intoxicating scent that he had been craving filled Harry with a courage he had never experienced before; confidence in a romantic situation. "Is that just in fighting or in general?"
"Well we have certainly seen it in fighting, both together and with each other, and I guess time will tell on the rest. Anyway, come on, time for bed"
He was awoken earlier the following morning by Draco, who was wrapped around him but still separated by a bed sheet, and was gently pushing his hair from his eyes.
"Hey. What time is it?"
"Still early. Do you fancy going for a run?"
"Can't I stay here with you?"
"No. You can come with me for a run or stay here. At the express wishes of the Doctor" Draco raised an eyebrow imperceptibly "we have refrained from running but I want to get back into the habit"
Harry groaned, buried his head into Draco's neck and pressed little kisses into his neck. "Nice try Potter, but it won't work. Come on"
Forty minutes later found the two slowly jogging back to the familiar tree stump and lowering themselves back down as Hermione sat at the kitchen table looking distantly phased as Kreacher made her a cup of coffee.
"Nice run?" she asked politely and Harry grunted a non-committal response
"Yeah it was ok thanks. I am just going to take a shower" and as Draco departed to freshen up Harry sat down at the table opposite Hermione.
"You do know that I was only coming in to wake you up, don't you?"
"What are you talking about?"
"In the mornings; I wasn't trying to spy"
Harry laughed as the memory of yesterday evening came flooding back "Oh yeah, I know Hermione and so did Draco. I think he got a kick out of winding Ron up though and you have to admit there is no harm in knocking"
"I suppose so. Anyways it looks like I won't need to worry about that anymore as you and Draco are running again"
Harry grunted again.
"Well why do you do it if you don't want to?"
"Cus its good exercise, apparently"
"If you say so; see you shortly I am off for a shower"
The four eventually gathered together in the kitchen, which doubled as a study during the day, to continue their research in the hopes of determining both the identity and location of the next Horcrux. The atmosphere was still a little strained as Ron and Draco sat opposite each other exchanging menacing glances.
"So before we get started is there anything anybody wants to say?" Harry felt that his role was becoming closer to a mediator rather than the saviour of the wizarding world. Still, he reasoned, if he could do this he could do anything.
"I think we need to split our effort between researching and investigating. It's more risky but I think we need to consider exploring the major magical locations for clues. At the moment we don't know what we are looking for or where to look. This research is helping us identify possibilities, remember what Harry found in that book about highly magical locations such as Godric's Hollow or that bit Ron discovered in that old newspaper clipping about Voldemort being regularly sighted coming and going around the South West, but how will we ever know unless we start to look?"
"I think you are right Hermione" Ron put in but not breaking eye contact with Draco before eventually looking up and continuing "It makes most sense if the best researchers work on the book front" he looked pointedly at Hermione and Draco.
"Hang on a moment Wesel; I can fight just as well as I can look through books" Draco cut in
"Can you though Malfoy?" Hermione interrupted and Draco looked incensed "Ron and I fight ok because Harry taught us in the fifth and sixth year. Can you cast a Patronus charm for example or Advanced Memory charms?"
Draco was seen to grit his teeth and mutter `no' before the group agreed, reluctantly, that as of tomorrow Harry and Ron would venture forth under the invisibility cloak to explore agreed sites as required in the hope of unearthing information. They resumed their scouring of the endless books Hermione had ensured were present before leaving The Burrow. It was not a companionable silence. Draco was clearly frustrated next to him, though he would not express this with Hermione and Ron in the room. The day progressed slowly and Harry found he had to wait until lunchtime before he was left alone with Draco. He quickly plucked up the courage to press a kiss to his roommate's cheek before speaking;
"I could teach you, you know, if you wanted to that is"
"Teach me what?" The response wasn't rude but neither was it the tender voice he had grown accustomed to.
"Some of the spells Hermione mentioned and I am sure there are something's you could teach me that I don't know. I don't want to start using dark magic but there must be some boarder line spells that you could show me?"
There was a moment's silence and Harry swore he could almost hear the cogs turning in Draco's brain. "Ok, lets say I agree to this; I am not going to be calling you professor or anything like that you know!" Harry couldn't help but laugh.
"Of course not! Why would I want you to do that anyway!? We can go for our run in the morning and then before we go back down we can spend sometime swapping knowledge of useful spells?"
"Ok Harry" Harry grinned at the use of his first name. Of course this had been going on for a while but it still made him happy not to be thought of as `Potter'.
"We can start tomorrow then"
The afternoon progressed much the same as the morning; slowly. Before he knew it, the following morning, Harry found himself sitting on a fallen tree not far from the stump that would take him back into their camp.
Harry had explained what he had found when the DA was first formed, lots of people that did not know the basics, and walked through them one by one with Draco. Being a Malfoy he was not surprised to learn that Draco was familiar with all of the more complex spells that had been taught at Hogwarts but was far less proficient at the simple ones. They practiced before going down for breakfast. After a good breakfast of bacon and eggs Harry and Ron, safely concealed by the invisibility cloak, aparated to the outlying Wizard village of Clanborough. Hermione had found reference to the location in an old Daily Prophet article. Several unexplained disappearances had occurred during the last war and Hermione had felt it was a good candidate for their first reconnaissance mission.
It was raining in the village of Clanborough and the tiny droplets of precipitation landed on the cloak. It wouldn't be long Harry conceded to himself before they were drenched through. They moved carefully though the village stopping every so often to cast the identification spell that had helped them to great effect in identifying the last Horcrux. After three hours of searching and watching they agreed that there was nothing there and returned to the camp.
"Anything?" Hermione asked as the two stepped down from concealed entrance
"Nothing except rain" Ron complained
"Well I wasn't anticipating you finding anything first time out. Go and dry off" she reeled off without looking up.
October gave way to November and the routine continued; Draco and Harry would run for a short while first thing in the morning and then exchange knowledge on spells of interest. Ron and Harry would then explore the latest location that took Hermione's interest before returning in the afternoon and supporting the group's research effort. Harry and Draco would then sit up until gone midnight talking.
They would often talk of inconsequential matters; small talk that ranged from their various interests, such as Harry's music or Draco's love for potions, to events that had occurred at Hogwarts. Harry was beginning to concede that his feelings for Draco were deepening the more he got to know him and understood what made him tick.
True to her word, not that it would have mattered as Draco and Harry were always up before Hermione, she had not once entered their room. Draco had mustered the confidence to transfigure the two single beds into one double so that the two could sleep more comfortably. Despite this however, they had not broken the invisible boundary of dispensing with the sheet that separated them. Once or twice Harry had woken up and quickly moved away from Draco when he realised his hardness was pushing against the blond's backside. The last time that this had happened Harry was pretty sure that Draco had been aware of the sensation and could have sworn he heard a moan of disappointment when he moved his hardness away from the blond and pulled on some sweat pants in preparation for their run.
Draco pulled himself from the bed and made no attempt to hide the tent that was protruding from his boxers and pulled his own sweat pants up before walking over to Harry and giving his lover a kiss good morning "I don't want to sleep on top of the sheet anymore". Harry gulped at the implication of this statement and if possible his hardness stiffened further.
"Ok" was all he could manage in response.
"Then I am looking forward to tonight" Draco replied before running his hands underneath his raven-haired lover's shirt.
"Coomeee onnn" Harry spluttered and pulled Draco out of the bedroom and towards the exit.
Thirty minutes later found the two sat on the ground next to their usual log with Draco leaning back into Harry. "So is there anything you want to go over?"
"Not really. Don't forget we have been doing this day in day out for almost three weeks. You can learn a lot like that. What I would really like to do is be able to practice with you but that isn't possible"
"It's a shame we aren't at Hogwarts"
"Well I bet if we went to the room of requirement and asked for a practice room then it would be there for us to use"
"I hadn't thought of that"
"And you call yourself smart" Harry chided pressing his lips to the teen's neck.
"Shut up Potter"
"Don't worry Dray; we will get our chance to fight all too soon I think"
"I know I would just rather go into that situation having practiced a bit!"
"We could always practice against each other"
There was long pause before a quiet voice whispered, "I don't want to fight you"
"I know, me either, but I thought I would suggest it" and he gave the teen a squeeze "Its at times like this I wish I could ask Lupin because I bet he knows some spell or charm or something that would give us a chance to practice"
"I think I might see if I can find something this morning. Do you know where Hermione is sending you two today?"
"No idea. I know it's important that we look but I have to be honest it's a little frustrating to constantly be coming back with nothing"
"I think we are missing an important bit of the puzzle that would help us narrow it down. The challenge is that right now...."
"Harry, Draco; are you up here?"
The two teens scrambled to their feet and separated as Hermione appeared from around the corner of a nearby tree.
"Yeah we are here Hermione" Harry called as she approached eyebrow raised.
"Yeah totally fine, why?"
"Nothing; just sounded like a tussle"
"No, I don't think so? Draco?"
"Nope, no fighting here"
"Hmm, ok. Well come downstairs its time to start"
She swept away in a Snape-esk style again raising an eyebrow in Harry's direction.
"Do you think she saw?" Draco whispered to Harry as they walked back to the stump entrance.
"I think she saw something but I don't know what. She was looking at me strangely but I don't think she saw everything" he whispered back.
That day saw Harry and Ron sent to a tiny village in the South West of England called Warleeggan. The village was rumoured to be a magical stronghold but like so many of the times before it turned up nothing of any significance. In fact it showed limited evidence of any magical activity at all.
They returned with a growing sense of frustration at the lack of progress these wanderings where achieving to find Draco and Hermione in an excited conversation.
"...just think about it for a moment Hermione. It makes sense!"
"Yes, yes it makes total sense"
"What does?" Ron asked as he slumped down on the chair and gratefully accepted a cup of steaming coffee from Kreacher.
"Consider what we know" Draco must have been excited, Harry reasoned as he focused his attention on Ron and smiled in an almost friendly way "The last Horcrux was created as a result of the death of Caradoc Dearborn, right?"
"Yeah I remember"
"Well I was looking today through this book" and he pointed at a crumbling book on Wizard duelling and it didn't take Harry long to rationalise why that book was of interest. "I found this spell right, which is of absolutely no interest to us at all; at least in terms of finding the Horcrux's"
"Well that is good news lets have a party!"
Draco frowned at Ron before continuing "But what it DID do is make me think. What if the piece of information we have been missing was how the Horcrux's were made"
"But we know that already. You have to kill" Ron interjected.
"Exactly!! But we never really considered the implications of that"
"Which are?" Harry could tell that Ron was getting frustrated at being half told the reason for Draco and Hermione's excitement and frankly Harry could sympathise with his friend.
"The implications are that he needed to murder in order to make the things. Now what else do we know about Voldemort? He is obsessed by power so is it likely that he would use just any old muggle to create these important artefacts? No! Of course not; he would have identified key people that he felt were worthy adversaries or powerful witches or wizards that would enhance the strength of the Horcrux. So our missing link was not knowing where to look; our net has been spread too wide. We know that Caradoc Dearborn was powerful; he was Dumbledore's number two after all. Harry also told me about the ring and that makes sense too; if he murdered his own father in order to create it! It would have deep ties to blood magic. So you see what we need to do is to identify powerful witches or wizards that were murdered or disappeared during the first war. Then when we have identified a good possibility we need to find out as much about that as possible. Of course it's completely possible that the Dark Lord will have moved the Horcrux from the location of its creation but I am not so sure that is the case. Again think about the ring and the thimble all stored in or close to their creation"
"Yeah that makes sense! Well done mate that makes total sense" Ron affirmed and got up and slapped Draco on the back in a friendly acknowledgement of the step forward they had taken. All Harry could do was grin at the blond before winking and leaving the room announcing that he needed to take a shower.
Draco excused himself moments later under the pretence of needing to use the bathroom before Harry embarked upon a long shower. He found Harry waiting for him sitting on the end of their bed grinning as the blond walked in the door.
"Clever. Very clever"
"Thanks" and he blushed under Harry's appreciative stare.
"I couldn't have thought of that you know"
"Well I didn't make the connection until I was looking in that old duelling book"
"What was in there that made you join up those dots?"
"Well I was looking in the book for a charm that would help us to practice together"
"Oh right, did you find anything?"
"Yeah I did. A little charm called `certo assimulo' or in everyday English `fight simulation' but anyways we can talk about that later. I was looking at the Latin for fight `certo' and it just made me think of some powerful wizard battle's and then that got me thinking about powerful wizards. I know it doesn't totally make sense but who said the brain was supposed to be totally logical"
"I think it's amazing" Harry said fervently and stood up stepping forward towards Draco
"Really?" Draco asked and swallowed the lump that appeared in his throat as Harry approached him
"Yeah" and he pressed his lips to the blonds'
"I thought you were going to have a shower?" he offered lamely
"Only if you are coming with me?" Harry grinned and walked towards the bathroom peeling of the layers of clothing as he went.