Chapter 10

Harry apparated himself and Draco back into the center of Parselsmith, sending out a shockwave of magic as he landed that pushed the throng of people crowding the shop to the walls. Harry spared a quick scowl for Silver, one of his shop assistants, taking note of the fact that both Auror Grimstaff and Tyler Thurman were in the crowd. Silver shrugged and waved a hand at the people in the shop, as if asking what she possibly could have done to prevent the chaos.

Straightening from the crouch he had landed in, Harry turned to the crowd of people that had been shocked into silence by the blatant display of his power – not to mention the rude way he had applied it to them by forcing them all to maintain a respectable physical distance from him and Draco. Harry cleared his throat, and every person in the shop focused on him. While being the center of attention still made him uncomfortable, he had learned to live with it. Harry said, “I appreciate all the concern you have shown for my well-being by coming here, but, as you can see, I have returned unharmed. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to get back to the business of running my shop.” He beamed at the people around him, willing them to listen.

While some disgruntled grumbling could be heard in the crowd, there was a general murmur of assent. When the crowd began to break up into smaller groups, Auror Grimstaff stepped forward. Harry had to suppress a groan. Of course Grimstaff would have something to say. Of all the Aurors Harry had met over the years, Grimstaff was one of the most intolerant of Dark magic.

Auror Grimstaff stepped forward out of the crowd, having overcome the shock of being pushed around by Harry’s magic. He drew his wand and pointed it at Draco. “Mister Malfoy, I am apprehending you for the attempted kidnapping of Harry Potter.”

Draco stared at the man, a sneer of disdain on his lips. But Harry could see the tell-tale sign of terror in Draco’s eyes. While the two of them had never been friends, Harry still knew Draco’s body language well. After all, he had dealt with Draco’s fear on multiple occasions during their Hogwarts years, and he knew, if he left things as they were, that Draco’s trademark way of dealing with his fear would surface, and the situation may become unrecoverable. Of course, Harry had to admit that he was making the assumption that Draco still reacted to his own fear the way he had when they were teenagers, and it was very possible that Draco had matured over the years. But that was a risk Harry wasn’t currently willing to take – Draco was interesting, and the more Harry learned about the man, the more he was convinced that Draco would play a pivotal role in his life. What that role would be, he had no clue, but the way their magic interacted…well. That spoke volumes.

Draco took a breath, intending to reply, when Harry beat him to it.

“Stand down, Auror Grimstaff,” Harry said. “I’ve not charged Draco with anything, and I’ve also not been kidnapped, as you can see for yourself.”

Auror Grimstaff scowled. “It’s obvious that this man has put you under an enchantment of some sort, Mister Potter. Stand aside and allow me to do my job.”

Harry, just barely, refrained from rolling his eyes. Why was it the most intolerant of people always assumed he was under some sort of spell when he dared to utter words that contradicted their motives? It was like they didn’t trust Harry to know what he wanted. At twenty-four, however, he knew himself well enough to not allow himself to be bullied. “I’ve not been placed under an enchantment, Auror Grimstaff. If you can’t take my word on that, you may cast one spell to satisfy your own suspicions. Or, if you insist, I can accompany you to the Ministry where you can administer veritaserum to verify the truth of my words. Of course, I’m sure that such a trip will end up in the papers tomorrow, so I’ll let you decide whether or not you want to be known as the Auror who forced Harry Potter to take veritaserum without just cause.” Harry smiled at the man, allowing none of the mirth he was feeling show. Inside, he was revealing in the way Auror Grimstaff’s face rapidly lost its color.

“Mister Potter, surely you don’t mean to tell me that you intend to allow Draco Malfoy, a renowned Dark wizard, to get away with kidnapping you,” Auror Grimstaff said, voice shaking. “As a Dark wizard, he’s a menace to society, and it is imperative that he be placed in Azkaban with the rest of his kind.”

Harry offered Auror Grimstaff another sweet smile. “While I certainly appreciate the danger of Dark wizards, Auror Grimstaff, as I did, after all, defeat Voldemort, I think you have forgotten that I possess Dark magic of my own.” He gestured to the shelves behind him where three stone basilisk figures sat, waiting to be imbued with magic. “I am, after all, a Parseltongue. Would you have me arrested for that?”

Auror Grimstaff swallowed hard and spared a sidelong glance at Tyler Thurman, a well-known reporter for the Daily Prophet, before he replied. “Of course not, Mister Potter. You have never used Parseltongue to injure another human being. Mister Malfoy, on the other hand, is known to have used several Dark curses during the war, and the kidnapping he attempted today has shaken wizarding society very badly, as you are one of the greatest heroes alive.”

Harry did his best to suppress the urge to roll his eyes, and he managed it, but he didn’t manage not to grimace a little at being called a hero. He hated being famous for having defeated a Dark Lord because whether or not the Dark Lord had been a terrible creature that deserved to die, Harry was, essentially, famous because he had killed someone else. Famous for murder. He wondered how wizarding society would feel if he pointed out the insanity it took to turn a murderer into a hero. “Then rest assured, Auror Grimstaff, that Draco Malfoy acted in exactly the way he did in order to be of use to our society. If he had not taken me away from Hogsmeade when he had, then it is very likely there would be no Hogsmeade left.”

Shocked outrage rippled through the crowd. For the first time, Tyler Thurman, who had been watching in silence on the sidelines, spoke up. “Harry, what do you mean by that?”

Harry nodded to Tyler, keeping his face solemn while he was grinning to himself on the inside. That was exactly the soundbite that he had hoped Tyler, the only reporter he considered a decent person and a friend (when he wasn’t after a story), would pick up on. “Auror Grimstaff here would have you all believe that Draco kidnapped me for some nefarious purpose. In truth, however, Draco got me away from Hogsmeade just in time to keep me from losing control of my magic.” He lowered his eyes, trying to project sheepishness to the crowd.

Tyler snagged onto the story the way Harry had hoped would happen. “What do you mean, Harry? What happened?”

Harry smiled sheepishly, and this time, the sheepishness was real. The fact that he’d nearly lost control of his magic was unsettling, and it was a problem he needed to address. One he planned to address right after he got this mess handled. “One of my customers insulted Draco by insinuating he was nothing more than the son of a Death Eater, and I lost my temper. Draco got me away from Hogsmeade before any damage was done, and he lectured me about properly controlling my magic. If anything, Draco is the hero of the day, not me.”

Tyler turned speculative eyes on Draco. “Mr. Malfoy, is what Harry says the truth?”

Draco nodded, eyes wide as he stared at Harry. “It’s true,” he said, somehow managing to speak clearly.

“May I quote you on that?”

“Of course.”

Tyler grinned and gave an excited half-bow. “Thank you for your time, Harry.” He nodded to Draco in acknowledgement. “Expect to see an article about this in tomorrow’s paper.” He scowled at Auror Grimstaff. “If you dare to arrest this man after Harry Potter himself has declared him a hero, don’t think that won’t show up as well.”

Auror Grimstaff lowered his wand and scowled at Draco. “You’re escaped answering for your crimes this time, Mister Malfoy, but don’t expect me to be so lenient with you again.”

Draco rolled his eyes but offered a slight nod. Then he stared at Harry again, trying to figure out when the man had become so well-versed in the nuances of politics. Draco stretched muscles that had grown tense from the fear of being sent to Azkaban, then offered Harry a polite small. “See you next Wednesday,” he said.

Harry nodded in acknowledgment, then turned to deal with the crowd of concerned wizards who had morphed into a mob of avid shoppers.

Chapter Nine     Index     Chapter Eleven

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