Harry Potter and the Unforeseen Hero
Chapter Three: Return to Hogwarts
The following day had passed before Harry's eyes in a daze. He had woken early that morning after a fitful nights rest. Gone were the vivid nightmares of old to be replaced with something all together more personal but equally as draining. Upon waking he realised that his body was still wrapped firmly in Draco's tight embrace. Harry had given up trying to articulate to Draco, or for that matter himself, just how much this meant to him. The world expected his strength, in fact it demanded it and Draco was his. He wondered how he had managed on his own for six long years but then of course he had always had Ron and Hermione.
After carefully slipping from Draco's arms that morning and creeping from the room to the kitchen via the drawing room Harry sat at the kitchen table and pealed back the waxy Hogwarts seal pulling the letter McGonagall had delivered from the parchment envelope.
Dear Mr Potter,
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is pleased to inform you that it will be offering a voluntary term of academic study between September 1st and December 15th this year.
The purpose of this voluntary academic term is, in particular, for those students whose studies have been disrupted by events of the past twelve months. Hogwarts has been liaising closely with the relevant Ministry departments to secure a one off NEWT examination schedule at the end of term therefore allowing all students the opportunity to leave Hogwarts with full academic qualifications.
This term, as mentioned, is optional – non-compulsory study. However, in light of the present restrictions in place at Hogwarts I must urge you, if you attend, for commitment to this program of study. Many teachers will be giving up free time in order to teach and physical space at the school is currently not in ample supply.
As non-Hogwarts students you will have the option via the floo network to return home at the conclusion of your studies on a Friday evening and arrive on time for your Monday morning class. During the week or at your own discretion full time, accommodation will be provided at the school.
Please consider your position carefully and advise me whether you intend to take up this voluntary term by midnight 21st August (I realise that this deadline leaves limited time for consideration however, timings have not been within our control)
Professor M McGonagall
After sitting in silence to consider the parchment, taking Draco a cup of tea, having a shower he and Draco had apparated directly to The Burrow.
The Burrow still filled Harry with a warmth and sense of happiness. Harry loved the topsy-turvy house - where nothing had a place and a sense of barely controlled madness existed. His hand had hovered over the doorknocker for a moment before wrapping it smartly to announce their arrival. The door had swung open and a pair of arms pulled him into a tight embrace
"Harry dear!" Mrs Weasley cried ushering them into the house. Despite having known in advance of the general public she still seemed to be struggling internally with how to greet Draco until she pulled him into a full embrace too. Harry noticed a look of surprise cross Draco's face for an instant, blinking and looking back it had disappeared.
Draco moved over to stand next to Harry. He knew both that this meeting would not be easy and that they needed one another, drawing comfort from each other's presence.
"How is everyone?" Harry attempted in order to cut the palpable almost physical weight pressing against their shoulders.
"As can be expected" Mrs Weasley had replied in a quiet mutter and with more confidence "Let me take you through, we have, of course, been expecting you" and she nodded towards Draco and led them through the kitchen and passed the Weasley clock. Harry looked at it with a deep pang in his stomach. Many individuals and families had suffered in the war but none more so than the Weasleys. The clock itself stood proudly, as it always had, but two of the hands were now missing.
Poor Charlie. Harry had not known Charlie Weasley well but he liked him. The Dragon worker had a gentleness that betrayed his tough job. He had taken a curse from a masked Death Eater. Molly had been inconsolable especially after the ‘Percy Incident'. The horn rimmed bespectacled Weasley had remained estranged right up to his disappearance. I think that was perhaps the hardest part for Mrs Weasley to deal with, never having the opportunity to reconcile.
She ushered the twosome into the slightly cramped, over stuffed and yet incredibly welcoming living room. It epitomised the rest of the house; the old wireless in the corner look battered and care worn, pictures of the family in wonky frames, well thumbed books stacked in the corner and sitting on the sofa where two ginger faces looked up at the entering party.
"Hey Ron" Harry whispered and the edges of Draco's lips flicked upwards in a sort of half smile of greeting. Of course it had taken Draco and Ron some considerable time and experiences to overcome past mistrusts but Draco was determined to make every effort, he couldn't begin to imagine how he would have been feeling had he been in Ron's position.
Harry placed a hand on Ron's shoulder and squeezed as he edged past him and sat on the arm of the sofa. Harry and Draco had agreed that they would keep their distance whilst they met with Ron and so Draco remained opposite Harry. Harry's hand reached out to rub Crookshanks's chin. Mrs Weasley smiled affectionately and withdrew from the room promising to return with pumpkin juice.
"How are you holding up?" Harry questioned
"Ok, I guess" not exactly the wholesome response Harry had been hoping for but not all together unexpected. Harry became more uncomfortable as the disjointed conversation continued. Ron and he had never been the strongest when it came to chit chat. All of the heartfelt things that Harry had wanted to say where left stranded on the tip of his tongue as he failed to pull them together into a sentence that would mean anything. Mrs Weasley had come and deposited drinks on the rickety looking coffee table and discreetly withdrawn and some hour later Harry finally turned the conversation to the topics he wanted to discuss.
"I spoke with McGonagall yesterday, after the service" Harry began
"Wanted to talk to you about returning to Hogwarts for this extra term thing I guess?"
"That was part of it. Are you thinking of going?" Harry replied
"I don't know. I can't imagine being there you know, without Hermione you know?" Ron said
"Yeah, I was thinking about that this morning before we came over"
"It's all changed hasn't it?" Ron asked
"Yeah" Harry replied drawing a deep breath "be back in a moment, bathroom" Harry glanced apologetically at Draco and withdrew. Five minutes later Harry found himself back at the entrance to the lounge to find the two remaining occupants deep in conversation.
"...I think it's an opportunity to tell it how it is. Make sure that the sacrifices made by everyone don't go unmissed" Draco was saying to a Ron who looked both appalled and enthralled in the same moment
"I don't know if I can do it" he had said though in a hushed tone
"Of course you can. Harry and I will both be with you"
"Huhum" Harry had coughed in an almost Umbridge like tone as he re-entered the room. Draco had blushed, caught pre-empting a conversation Harry had been slowly bringing the topic around to.
"Well I take it you have heard McGonagall's proposal" Harry gave a pointed look at Draco who looked guiltily back in his direction.
"Yeah, I just heard"
Draco decided that now was the time to grasp the nettle with both hands "Harry, Ron I think this is a really good opportunity. We have the chance to explain to everyone exactly what happened without some old hag like Rita Skeeter putting her twist on it. I know this will be hard" the looks Draco received from Harry and Ron caused him to pale and reconsider his words "more than hard, painful and emotional. But we all struggled so much to achieve the impossible. Harry, you often say that you are fed with people seeing you as the chosen one well this is your chance to tell everyone how important Ron and Hermione were to you and why they owe such a debt to her sacrifice. Ron, I can't imagine how you must feel at the moment. I keep thinking what would have happened if it had been Harry and I don't know if I could do it either but think of all the good that she did that nobody would ever know about"
"Let me think about it, ok?" Ron muttered, barely audible.
"Sure, ok" Draco jumped in before Harry could offer any further opinion on the topic
"You never answered my question earlier Harry, about going back to Hogwarts. Are you going to?"
"Honestly, I don't know. I would like to finish my studies I guess but some how I cant imagine myself sitting up in Gryffindor tower studying" sGlancing over at Draco "I wonder if we would be compelled to fight if we went back"
Draco rarely smiled but there was an impish grin on his face as Harry finished his sentence. It wasn't that he didn't find things funny or that he didn't have a sense of humour but years of ‘training' to manage his emotions and with the weight of doing things the Malfoy way it was just something that didn't happen very often.
"Does that mean Potter you are going to be following me around like 6th year? Though I wouldn't mind watching Weasley here get caught with a backfiring slug charm" he nudged Ron's arm with the tip of his elbow to indicate his jest
"I shouldn't worry about that Malfoy my wand is working perfectly now, maybe I should show you" the flicker of a smile crossed Ron's face for the first time in weeks and Harry drew immense comfort from it.
"Trust me Ron, the last thing I want to be on the end of is your working wand" the innuendo was not lost on Ron who flushed red and glared at Draco.
"RON" Mrs Weasley's bellowed as she stuck her nose around the door and lowered her tone to a much more motherly tone "Ron dear, can you help me please?"
"Back in a minute" he muttered darkly as he exited the room in Mrs Weasleys wake
Like magnets Harry and Draco were drawn together. It was quite unusual for the two to remain such a distance from the other, at least if they where in the same room.
"I know we haven't really had much of a chance to talk about the whole Hogwarts thing and I haven't asked you what you think, sorry" Harry offered as Draco's pale hand slipped into his own.
"I would really like to finish NEWTS, its what mother would want, but things will be difficult"
"Well where to start? The fact that I'm a Slytherin and most Slytherins supported the Dark Lord, I will probably end up dead in the common room! I haven't studied for years really, I don't know if you noticed but I spent a lot of 6th year rather diverted. You and I are" his cheeks flushed pink "well we are together now and to be honest I don't think everyone is going to be as nice about that as the Weasleys. I will miss the house and I guess..."
"You guess what?" Harry questioned as Draco turned from slight pink to a deeper shade
"I guess I can't imagine not being with you in the evening" he whispered. Which Harry took to mean night.
"Well we can always meet up in the library before bed" suppressing a chuckle
"Idiot. I don't mean for that" imperceptibly Harry raised an eyebrow "Ok, ok, that's part of it but hey I am used to going to sleep with this oaf I call my boyfriend, forgive me if I don't want to get cold sleeping on my own!!"
"It would be four nights a week and I am sure we can work something out for some of the time, after all it would hardly be the first time we had been caught out of bed after curfew. Could be kinda exciting"
"Yeah I guess, but what about the Slytherins". Harry really had to marvel at their relationship. Times, he thought, had changed. When the two had started to spend time together it had been strained and really only because no other alternative existed but to talk to each other. Information moved from sparingly given to freely shared and finally into proactively offered. If you had asked Harry at any point in his years at Hogwarts if he could imagine Draco confessing nerves about entering in the Slytherin common room... well he would have called that person a liar.
"I will protect you!" and Harry wrapped his arms around the blond protectively planting a kiss on the side of his cheek
"My hero" Draco replied with the dull Malfoy drawl and pushed his elbow in Harry's chest "I am however, perfectly capable of looking after myself. I was simply suggesting that it would be difficult but certainly not impossible"
Harry grinned "I know you can Dray. You have had to deal with more than enough to prove that"
"Yeah I know, got lumbered with you didn't I! Come on a camping trip Draco, save the world with me Draco. That's what I signed up for! Now look Potter you have turned me into a sap"
"The chickens had escaped..." Ron trailed off seeing Harry and Draco in a close embrace, although the following, undignified separation as the both jumped backwards from each other as if the magnet had been reversed was almost comical.
"Look you guys, I want to make one thing totally clear ok? I do not need a nursemaid, alright? I am not going to break into little bits. I want you to be happy, ok? I mean you can keep the snoging to yourselves but I can just about handle you looking at each other you know? "
"Ron we're sorry"
"Speak for yourself Harry, I was all in favour of asking him to join in" Ron grimaced and Harry shot Draco a look that conveyed only one message ‘shut up' "I jest Weasley, I Jest" An awkward silence was about to fill the air before Draco continued "How about making a pact"
"A pact?" Ron repeated whilst Harry's brow furrowed but remained silent
"Yes a pact. To look after each other whilst at school"
"Why would we need protecting?"
"Well! Harry needs protecting to ensure he isn't mobbed by his admirers, you need protecting from too many preying questions about how you are feeling and I need protecting from being lynched by the Slytherins in my sleep or by Harry's many admirers. We all get to go back to school, finish our studies and who knows maybe even pretend to have an easy life for a moment"
"Sounds like you need us more than we need you Malfoy" Ron observed
"I will make it worth your while" and Harry couldn't help but grin as Draco winked at him
"That's all very well for Harry and NO I don't even want to know how you make it worthwhile but, what about me?" Ron questioned, again with a faint glimmer of a smile at the corners of his mouth
"Don't you worry about that Weasley. I will make it worth your while. Trust me"
"Fine but it better be worth it. Watching your scrawny ass is not high up on my list of priorities"
"Ah so you have noticed my ass then Weasley" The crimson colour that so clashed with Ron's hair had returned "THAT Draco was not what I meant"
"Wait, wait, wait. So does this mean we are going back to Hogwarts?"
"I guess so" Ron offered by means of a response to Harry's question. Harry was used to taking and accepting decisions made by majority rule and he was pretty confident that Hermione would not have objected to the agreed course of action. In fact Harry knew that she would have been very much IN favour. Draco of course, despite being a wanker at school, Harry knew had whilst maybe not enjoyed school per se excelled at academic study and if he had some how managed to convince Ron then who was he to argue.
"I have worked out how you can pay me back!"
"Already?" was the response with a raised eyebrow
"Yeah you can let me copy your homework!" no sooner had the words left Ron's mouth had his face contorted and the moment of elation was replaced with one of a man fighting with all his might to contain his emotions. Draco couldn't understand the sudden change and looked questioningly at Harry.
"Don't worry Ron. I know Hermione used to let you or rather us copy her homework but I am sure she will forgive you if you need some extra help you know?"
"I know" and with a sucking of breath and a dry sob "it's just so hard, all these little things pop up when I least expect it"
"I know mate" and Harry again squeezed Ron's shoulder in what he hoped would be a comforting gesture.
After another hour of chit chat and they had managed to steer the conversation back to a more comfortable point at which Mrs Weasley had entered the room to enquire as to whether Draco and Harry would like dinner. After explaining that Kreacher had already been preparing something and that they really should be getting home they agreed to return to The Burrow the evening after before their return to Hogwarts which would be in a couple of days time.
Walking back to the fireplace in order to floo home Mrs Weasley gave Harry and Draco a customary hug goodbye she had added that "I will write to Minerva and let her know you will be coming" and taking a handful of floo powder Draco called "20 Secrecy Avenue" and disappeared into the green flames.
Turning back from the fireplace Harry pulled Ron into a hug "Look I want you to know something ok? If you need anything or just wanna go flying sometime or whatever, we can do that ok? You are still and always have been my best friend and yeah if you need anything, anything at all tell me. No I am not just saying that because of well, Hermione, I would have said it anyways. You're my best friend and I don't want that to change"
"Turning into a bum boy has made you soft Harry" Ron replied grinning. Not just a corner of the edge token smile a proper grin.
Turning back to the fire place and picking up a handful of floo powder Harry turned to Ron "Oh Ron FYI I'm not the bum boy" with a wink and before waiting for a response Harry called the name of their home and disappeared.
He arrived to find Draco waiting for him in the living room "Talking about me?" he queried upon Harry's arrival.
"Might have been"
"All good I hope?"
"Oh yes very good I think" Harry replied with a mischievous grin
"So I have a question for you..."
"Granger honestly used to let you copy her work? It explains a lot!!" he could barely contain himself and it had now become apparent as to why Draco had chosen to stand behind the sofa. Harry made a run for Draco but cunning being one of Draco's Slytherin virtues he sidestepped. It took fifteen minutes for Harry to finally catch Draco and exercise the appropriate level of ‘Tickle Punishment'
"Alight, alright enough" the blond finally managed to stammer.
"So you take it back?"
"Take what back?"
"The implication that I couldn't do my own work" the ensuing argument was forestalled as Kreacher arrived announcing that dinner was in fact ready.
After a fantastic meal of beef casserole Harry had found himself dozing on the bed waiting for Draco to
"Tired?" Draco asked stepping into the room from their ensuite bathroom, towel wrapped around his slender waist.
Draco dropped backwards onto the bed and Harry was immediately on top of him pressing his lips firmly to the blonds. Harry could feel Draco's hardon beneath him. Kissing down his body and pulling the towel open to reveal his prize. Harry pulled the head into his mouth causing Draco to groan loudly. Bobbin up and down on the blond's firm member the moans getting louder until Harry took to flicking his tongue over Draco's head causing him to shudder. Pushing Harry onto his side Draco moved to Harry's member, devouring it in one motion. A short while later both were rewarded for their efforts.
"Come on now Harry you can't tell me you won't miss that when we are at Hogwarts"
Pulling Draco into his arms he replied "You know I will Dray, I don't wanna think about it"
Several days later Harry and Draco had found themselves back at The Burrow to find the rest of the remaining Weasley family their. The evening past pleasantly with Mrs Weasley serving an excellent meal of roasted beef and all the trimmings. It was however noticeable that Ginny was not the bubbly person Harry had become accustom to. Surrounded by the whole Weasley clan and having Draco who was still less than 100% comfortable didn't allow Harry the time to dwell upon it.
Unlike the main school body the ‘8th Years' would arrive by floo at Hogwarts later that the rest of the school. As Ginny was still at school neither Harry, Ron or Draco saw Ginny that morning as she sat stony faced in the kitchen waiting for Mrs Weasley to go with her to platform 9 ¾. As it was the three boys enjoyed an afternoon of 1 on 1 Quidditch in the back garden. With Ron playing goalie, against both Harry and Draco it seemed like five minutes had passed when Mrs Weasley was calling them in and passing them the jar of floo powder, wishing them luck for their final term.
"I'll go first shall I?" The raven-haired boy enquired of the others and with limited protest he had called out "Hogwarts, 8th year fire place" as had been instructed. McGonagall had made it plainly clear that she would not be accepting 8th years traipsing in and out of her office.
Stepping out of the fire Harry took a moment to examine his location. It had to be said that for all his foreboding it felt good to be back. The place had an air of the familiar. Looking around there was a fairly small group of faces he remembered, Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws and one solitary Slytherin. Neville Longbottom called across the room in greeting which was echoed with degrees of enthusiasm from Zacharias Smith, Hannah Abbott, Cho Chang and Seamus Finnigan. The solitary Slytherin face of Pansy Parkinson looked at him her dark eyes piercing him. Moments later Ron stepped through and was met with a similar reception but as Draco stepped through the fireplace the atmosphere tightened.
Pansy's mood lightened "Oh Draco thank goodness, I thought I was to be the only one" and she rushed up to him and hugged him. Harry observed Draco carefully from a distance unsure how the situation would unfold. One thing he was sure of however, was that he was nervous. Actually nervous was probably not the word, very anxious he decided. However, Draco handled the next five minutes would set the tone for the next few months of Harry's life and whilst nothing would pull Draco away from him, he was confident of that, this first major interaction would define the next phase of their relationship. Sure the Weasleys were very accommodating, although shocked it had to be said, when they had first found out and obviously the Daily Prophet had felt the need to add its expert opinion on their ‘friendship' but the past twelve months or so had been isolated with the Ron, Harry, Hermione and Draco limited in for the most to interaction between their group. So that was why Harry stood pale, anxious and expectant.
As etiquette would dictate Draco had returned Pansy's smile, after all she was one of the few Slytherin families to declare themselves neutral on Lord Voldemorts return. Rudeness, his mother had lectured, should not be tolerated it was after all limited effort to be courteous.
Hugging his Slytherin compatriot in return he smiled. "How are you Pansy?"
"Well, quite well thank you. You?"
"Likewise, though a lot has changed. I wanted to introduce you to someone" Pansy looked questioningly at Draco but her lip curled upwards in a half smile that Draco took for accent.
"Harry" Draco had called, stretching out his hand in his direction and placing his hand in the crook of Harry's back as he came into range he spoke just loudly enough for the small group of fervent onlookers to hear without it feeling like an announcement.
"Pansy I would like you to meet Harry. Harry it's my pleasure to introduce Pansy. Of course you know each other of sorts but perhaps as things have changed somewhat a reintroduction might be in order?"
To say that Harry had not been expecting this and was rather taken aback would perhaps be an understatement. Not graced with the experience of social occasions he stammered not knowing if he should be embracing as old friends, formally shaking hands or doing absolutely nothing. In all fairness Pansy herself looked rather unsure as to the appropriate response but mercifully, and as Harry often found, luck resolved the situation for him as Professor McGonagall cleared her throat and stepped into the room.
"I am pleased that so many of you have made it. Welcome back to Hogwarts".