Author's Notes: Before I begin, some quick author nothes.
This is the last episode of the Snitch Sequence.
The Snitch (or at least its prologue) was my first ever HP fanfiction, and I remain convinced that the sequence it began is, to date, my best, if only for sentimental reasons. This might not be the ending you've anticipated, or even a particularly good ending, but it is The End. I'd like to thank everyone who was involved in writing parts of this story, who betaed, and who discussed it with me at length. I'd like to thank the squillions of people who wrote me letters of encouragement, praise, and suggestions over the years 2000-2003, even when it seemed I'd given up on the story, and the fandom, completely. I'm entirely grateful for the support of Veela Inc., ex-veelas, oldschool veelas and new veelas. I'm sorry I haven't replied to every letter I've recieved, but I'd just like to say a massive, generalised 'thanks' and hope that'll cut it.
Four years after the shit had stopped going down, a pair of flying saucers flew over Malfoy manor. They bounced twice against the protective anti-dragon shields which covered the entirety of the premesis, narrowly avoided a mid-air collision, and then proceded to shudder about the sky overhead in little circles for a full minute until one of them stopped being a flying saucer and became a tall, burly, redhaired young man with the sort of tan that only very lucky Englishmen get on their holidays. With a small grunt of dismay, he fell through the barrier and landed sixty feet below in the Malfoy's Olympic sized outdoor pool.
He made a terrific splash.
With a great effort the dracimagus paddled to the edge of the pool and rolled out onto the decking, where he spat water, snorted water, and hacked up giant, phlegmatic gobs of water until he felt his lungs stop spasming. After patting his pockets to make sure that he had everything he really needed for this visit - sunglasses, check; wand, check; secret present, check - he sloshed his way toward the house.
Nothing happened when he knocked, but the door was open. He dripped inside, leaving the other flying saucer hovering outside the barrier.
A house elf turned up shortly and the dracimagus explained he was seeking audience with Mr. Malfoy (senior), and that he was very sorry for all the marks he'd made on the brand new carpets, but was sure it was nothing a drycleaning spell wouldn't fix. Considering this at length, the house elf came to an abrupt decision, bit him twice on the thigh, and then led the now hobbling visitor through a series of hallways to a large, if misplaced, foyer, complete with fountains, leather 'waiting' chairs, a broad oak desk and a wide variety of out-of-date fashion magazines.
The house elf left. The dracimagus went to the desk. There was a button on the desk which said, 'push me', and the wizard, who'd never been the sort of man to turn down a good button-press, jammed his thumb into it.
Which summoned a cross looking man with flinty eyes, an expensive suit, and a spectacular haircut.
"Can I help you?" he began, then stopped, glared. Harder.
"Name's Ron Weasley. I wanted to talk to Lucius Malfoy," said the wizard. "Nice haircut you got there, mate."
"He's not available."
"No, he's just not available, you stinking sack of shit."
Briefly Ron wondered about the Malfoy's secretary hiring policies. Then he shook his head. "Look, I won't take up much of his time. I've just got to drop something off. It's important, see."
The secretary's mouth tightened into a thin, cold line. "Now just you listen to me, you asshole," he growled, leaning over his desk, "you've got some bloody nerve coming in here, and you're very, very lucky I haven't -"
"Let him in," said someone else: the voice seemed to be emenating from inside the wall to the right of the desk. It was a syrupy, drawling and ultimately self-satisfied accent that Ron recognised immediately. He grinned cheerfully at the secretary, who said a particularly dirty word, and pushed a different, smaller button (which had, Ron observed, a 'don't push me' sign written on it) on the side of the desk. A door-shaped wedge of wall swung open before Ron's eyes. Ron blinked.
The secretary said, "I hope it smacks you up the ass, you sorry, sucky, stupid, son of a bitch."
Lucius Malfoy sat in his office. He was surrounded by books and ledgers, papers and pens. On his lap sat a small, golden haired child of indeterminate gender who was happily involved in strangling a kitten. Lucius, with his chin tucked on the child's head, was flipping through a large tome which looked suspiciously like it was of the 'Dark Arts' persuasion.
"Mr. Malfoy?" said Ron.
Lucius kissed the child's cheek. "Look, Looshie," he said, prying its hands from the cat, which fell gasping to the floor. "This is Mr. Weasley. He used to be our poolboy and did naughty things to your daddy."
"Tee hee," said the child, slipping off his grandfather's lap to molest the cat again.
"Draco called his son Lucius?" Ron asked.
"No. I did. I wanted him to have a regal, fitting name, which also carried some family history and a certain - ah - legacy, I suppose you'd say. A smart, intelligent name. A name people would respect. A name that inspired confidence, trust, and a degree of involuntary sphincter twitching. We call him Looshie, so as not to get confused." He curled his lip. "I suppose you're here to reminisce over the good old days, because if you're here to collect the pay you failed to collect four years ago, you will be very, very disappointed, Mr. Weasley. Take a seat."
Ron took one, and tried to hide the convulsions of his sphincter. Lucius said nothing. Ron resorted to casual, friend-orientated smalltalk. "Guess you know that Remus and Severus are still in Africa," he said, aware he was on the verge of babbling, if he wasn't doing so already. "Living together. Not doing anything.. sexual, so Severus says. They're happy, though, oddly enough. Working on some new potion to cure werewolfism altogether, or something. Quite close to the new dragon farm Charlie, Sally and I have started. Still in its infancy, though. The business, I mean."
Lucius closed his tome. "Hermione and Sirius' Evil Prevention Agency is doing very well," he said, taking his cue from Ron, to Ron's great relief. "They've organised themselves with remarkable ingenuity. It seems that their idea of fighting against evil is to tie people up and have Hermione parade around in black leather, occasionally hitting them with a whip, while Sirius reads fanatical sermons on the importance of being good." He hummed. "A thriving enterprise. Cornelius Fudge now claims to be the most evil man in the universe, second only to our dearly departed Mr. Riddle. In fact, I have it on good authority that a lot of the Ministry's most prominent figures regulary demand Madame Hermione's assistance in ridding their internal demons." More humming. "I have the magical recordings of them in action, if you'd like to see.."
The idea that Percy might be party to Hermione's dominatrix endeavours had Ron's ass-twitch creeping for his gut. "No thanks, ma-Mr. Malfoy." He swallowed thickly, sought for more conversational material. "I heard in the papers that Viktor's been institutionalised. Something about being locked in a room with Draco for a few days. Bit of a shame, ain't it. I mean, me and him were never really chummy, but still. Poor guy."
"Cho Chang and Justin Finch-Fletchly are still operating the Blue Oyster, under my wife's instruction. Making a fortune between them. I believe that Longbottom boy and the Irish one are working with them, too." Lucius hummed some more. "Let me see, and Kaylena moved back into her aunt's house, entrusting our little Looshie into my care. My care and my wife's care, I should add."
He glanced toward the child, who had latched to the cat's tail. The cat's nails were clawed into the carpeting for dear life. "I think that brings us up to speed on all.. involved, wouldn't you say? So, if you don't mind, I do have some work to get to, but it was - ah, very nice catching up with you..."
"Harry," said Ron. "Harry and Draco."
"Draco's been writing to me. Not often. But sometimes. Hate mail. Sad mail. All kinds of mail. A few howlers thrown in there for variety."
"My son has quite the way with-"
"He misses Harry. He wants Harry back. And I owe him - fuck, I don't know that I owe him anything, but I feel - I don't know what you'd call it. I feel obligated to do something, so - so I thought -"
"That was a very interesting trick with the flying saucers," Lucius said, nodding toward the window. "Are they really less obvious than blimps, these days?"
"Don't change the subject," Ron snapped, then quickly added, "Sir." He dug a hand into his pocket, felt the hard edges of his secret present. "Please. Please, Mr. Malfoy. Could you, er, I had an idea, see, and I needed your help.."
"Weasley. Since the events that passed between Harry and Draco those years ago, I have refused, point blank, to attempt reconcilliation between them. I do not meddle any longer in the affairs of others - of family others, I should specify. I have learnt my lesson. My wife is proud of me. I limit myself to business, to pleasing Narcissa, and to caring for my grandson. And I dearly hope I do not make the same mistakes with Looshie as I did with Draco. I will do nothing more. I can do nothing more. There are some things which cannot be undone."
All of his upper class affectations had vanished during the course of this speech: there were no sneers, no humming, pregnant pauses, no witty colour commentary, and it occured to Ron that this was as honest with himself as Lucius Malfoy ever got.
"Please leave my office now," said Lucius.
"Wait, no, wait. You have to see," Ron spluttered, rising from his chair and withdrawing the present-box. "You have to remember. I thought about it for so long, you can't tell me no right now. I flew halfway round the world to do this. Look in the box. Please. For Merlin's sake, Lucius."
Lucius said nothing. He sat very still. Then, to Ron's delight, he reached for the box, creaked it open an inch. He looked in.
"Oh," said Lucius.
He closed the box.
"Blame me for it, if it doesn't work," Ron said. "Say it's my fault. I pressured you into it. But it's the only way, Mr. Malfoy. I can't have them both hanging over my head any longer. I've a wife. A dragon wife, certainly, but still a wife, and she's going batshit listening to me talk about them. About the things I should've done, and the things I shouldn't've done. I can't just say 'shit happens' and leave it at that any more. Forget them, I need to do this. I need you to do this. I need to be -"
"Redeemed," Lucius suggested.
Ron fell back into his chair. "Maybe. I don't know any more."
Lucius said nothing. He passed the box from hand to hand.
"Will you do it?" Ron asked.
"I'll think about it," said Lucius.
As Ron and Sally skimmed back over the trees toward the English shoreline, Sally said, It ends here, Ronnikins, and Ron could only offer, a Guess so in reply.
When he'd left Lucius' office, the angry secretary had thrown a pen at him. When Ron went back to politely return it, the secretary growled at him, called him a few choice names, and told him that he never, ever wanted to see Ron Weasley again as long as he lived. It was only then that Ron noticed the tell-tale scar on the secretary's forehead, which had until now been concealed by his stylish fringe, and knew who it was he'd been talking to. Flintier, angrier, without the stupid glasses, but still Harry.
Harry Malfoy. And, in another world, another time, Harry Potter, Ron's closest friend in the whole world.
"Harry," Ron had said.
"Gobshite," Harry returned hoarsely. "Leave us the fuck alone."
It ends here, Sally said, but in the heart of him, Ron knew it already had.
For the first time in his life, Lucius did not seek Narcissa's counsel. She was out at a luncheon with Cho and Hermione, and their respective partners, but this was not the reason why he didn't bother her. There were some things a man had to do himself.
He spent the remains of the day teaching Looshie to play croquet, having instructed Harry to deal with all business affairs himself. Looshie seemed more interested in eating the grass than he was in the mallets and balls. He reminded Lucius of Draco at four: easily amused, easily aroused to tears, and just as easily consoled with the promise of father-playtime. When Looshie had vomited up all the grass, Lucius carried him around the manor grounds for an hour or two, while the sun set.
"See this?" he said, standing at the furtherest fence, and turning Looshie's chin with his cupped hand to gaze upon the impressive manor edifice, the surrounding lands, and the stream of late-night business people and staff members hovering about the entrance. "This is everything you will inherit."
Looshie burbled, laughed, and was sick again.
Lucius wiped off the front of his jacket with a hankerchief. "I know it's not much," he said. "But it's all I have."
Before going to bed, Lucius cast the spell. It had been a long time since he'd used it. Fifteen years? Or was it more? He couldn't remember. It felt like an eternity. As he let the thing go, he wondered if he hadn't overdone it. The faster it worked, he supposed, the better.
He tucked Looshie into bed, kissed him goodnight, and then, in a fit of fancy, let the boy play with the present for a while. As it bounced between the child's hands, Lucius felt a pure and unconditional love. It was a feeling so perfect Lucius was loathe to have it end, even for a moment, but - knowing that Narcissa would throw a fit if Looshie was cranky in the morning - eventually took the object from the boy and put him back to bed. He reset the magics on the present and closed it back into its box in readiness.
He visited Harry, next. At ten o'clock, Harry Malfoy was still at work in the office, scanning through various pieces of paperwork. The boy - the man, Lucius corrected himself - had quite the talent for accountancy. He stood and watched his adopted son from the doorway for a while, until Harry noticed his shadow and looked up.
"Just muddling through the books," he said. "Won't be up later than twelve, I hope."
"I see," said Lucius.
Harry chewed his lip. "Can I ask you something, father?"
"I'm sure you can."
"Why the fuck was Ron Weasley in my house?"
"He wanted to drop something off for Draco."
Harry sneered. "A love letter? Chocolates? Roses? Fucking prick. He just came here to rub it in my face."
"Ron is, apparently, happily married," said Lucius. "But to a dragon, so I'm not sure if that counts for much."
"Draco and I were practically married," Harry retorted, "but that certainly didn't stop him."
"No, it didn't."
"...you did say a dragon, then, didn't you?"
"Ours not to reason the ways of the Weasley mind," Lucius said. "That road leads to insanity, beastiality, but also, and I'm sure you'll admit it, a remarkably good tan."
"Fuck 'im," said Harry.
Lucius nodded. "Quite," he replied, and went away.
From the offices in the West wing Lucius proceeded to the East, choosing to walk the distance instead of apparating. Through the partly ajar of his son's room, he saw that Draco, too, was awake. Nestled in a hump of bedsheets, Draco was furiously at work on a manuscript which, according to him, was to become his autobiography. Lucius had once fished some of Draco's discarded pages out of his bin and discovered that the story of Draco's life largely consisted of Draco blaming other people for things, and long passages of virile self-hatred and impotent rage. His character sketches usually concluded with 'is a fuckshit'.
"Goodnight, Draco," said Lucius.
Draco looked up - red eyes, pink, pointed nose, hair awry. He'd stopped eating since the break-up, had grown as gaunt and angular as Harry. A wasted, ugly look. "Goodnight, father," he said, and sneezed.
Lucius came in and sat on the end of the bed. Draco put away his pages and hugged the sheets around his chest.
"Ron came over today."
"He did?" Draco almost, almost smiled. "Why? Is he here now? Where is he?"
"He's gone. But -" Lucius added quickly, before Draco's lower lip could commence trembling "- he did leave something for you." He passed the box.
Draco opened it, gasped. "No," he said. "No, it couldn't be. This isn't the same one, is it? I thought we lost that - gosh. On the last day of school, if I remember. Harry threw it, and I couldn't find it. I looked for hours and hours... I couldn't believe he'd thrown it. It meant - I couldn't believe... and Ron found it. All this time later..."
"Not the same snitch," Lucius said. "But a similar one, you'll find."
"I don't understand," said Draco. "Why'd he bring this to me? It's no use."
And to prove his point he threw the snitch from him, across the room, but it returned within seconds to float merrily about his temples. Draco grimaced and fell back onto the bed. "Ron doesn't know anything," he said crossly, batting at the golden ball like a cat. "No one knows anything. I hate them all."
"But not me," said Lucius, rising from the bed.
He left Draco and walked to his own quarters, where Narcissa was waiting for him with a coiterie of ready veelas. When she saw the look on her husband's face, however, she dismissed them with a word. They walked out onto the balcony together and held hands. Lucius couldn't find the right words, but two joints and a sifter of brandy later, he felt his throat loosen.
"I think I'm going mad," he said.
Narcissa patted him on the back. "Well, darling, it's about time," she said. "You wouldn't be a true Malfoy if you didn't go off the rails at least once and start sacrificing Muggle children on altars. You've already done it with goats."
Lucius blinked. "I never have."
"Sacrificed the goats, my love." Narcissa curled her slim arms about his neck, and nested her head against his chest. "Listen: whatever it is you've done, I'm either going to be very angry with you and demand consolation sex, or I'm going to be very impressed with you, and demand veela sex."
"Can you feel it?" Lucius asked in a whisper.
"Not yet, dearest, but if you move your hips a little, I might.."
"No, no. Close your eyes. Tell me what you feel."
Narcissa did so. "I feel.." she began a short while later, "..very small. I feel smaller than.. I feel smaller than our Draco. I.. I want to be him, and I love him dearly, but I can't help knowing that I've.. that I've lost in some fashion, and that I'm never, ever going to be as incredible as he is. I feel hollow. I feel.." She opened her eyes. "What on earth did you put in those joints, love?" she asked.
"Nothing," said Lucius, and had the good grace to look ashamed of himself.
She slapped him then, hard. "..It's that snitch thing again, isn't it," she hissed, her face blurring through his watery eyes. "I told you, it can't happen any more. We've wrecked them, we've ruined them, and we can't keep on doing it. There's only so much they can take. There's only so much I can take, for that matter. It's out of our hands, and out of your hands, and.."
"And I demand consolation sex," Narcissa concluded vehemently. "We'll sort it out in the morning."
That night, Harry Malfoy fell in love for the second time in his life.
It was a crazy-mad-desperate-screaming sort of love. It was so angry and needy and at the same time so aloof and unaffected, and it struck him right in his stomach like a solid punch. His head sung from it. His body shrieked for it. His bed felt so empty he imagined he might be sucked into the absence whole, as into a vacuum, and leapt out in his pajamas, shuddering, arms about his chest.
He felt. The effects of Snape's potion had left him, only to be replaced with this incredible, horrible desire which was so many times worse than perpetual apathy could ever be. Like knives in his gut, like nails down his spine. He needed, he needed to be needed and he needed the need of another needer and it was all so hideously complicated and very simple at the same time. He was so lost in the feel of it that he did not initially recognise its source. He knew only that he wanted something terribly, but the intensity of the emotion, especially after his long, clear run of potion-induced lovelessness, clouded exactly what that something was.
Magic, Harry concluded. Magic. Stupid, stupid magic. Lucius had undoubtably left open one of his illegal grimores, and one of the spells had crawled out to get up to some mischief. He went stamping up off the corridor, using all his willpower to ignore the weirdness in his brain.
He wanted to stamp into the library, but instead he found himself stamping straight past the double doors and on. Through the halls, through the manor, through great dusty empty rooms and freshly cleaned ones. Past someone wearing leopardskin underpants and someone else with a very heavy moustache and a muggle policeman's helmet. Portraits on the walls jeered and waved at him, the ghosts of Malfoys past. He did not know where he was going, only that he was getting closer.
It felt like sleepwalking awake.
He found himself in the East wing - Draco territory. They had divided the manor like this to avoid seeing each other, and it was almost but not quite like their days in school. Slytherins this way. Gryffindors that way. For Lucius' sake, rather than Draco's, Harry had abided by these unspoken rules; he'd kept his distance, because it caused less trouble that way. Now he was stepping over a threshold he hadn't ventured to cross for four full years. He was overcome by a sense of naughtiness, as if he were little more than a wicked child.
The East wing was colder than the West. Harry regretted not bringing a jacket with him. There were no amusing personalities to be found on this side of the manor - no hidden veelas, no crouching poolboys. Even the portraits seemed subdued. He trailed a hand along the wall. He walked. He needed.
Then he was at an open door. Light shone from within.
Harry stepped inside.
He saw Draco sitting up in bed, intent on the little yellow glowing ball in his hands. He did not look up as Harry shut the door.
"I thought you'd come," Draco said.
Harry hated him and loved him and needed him.
"It isn't real," Draco said. "Just a stupid magic trick. Just a stupid game. Just an idiot ploy of my father's that didn't work. Not real. Not even close to being real. And sometimes I wonder if it ever really was."
Harry trembled. He moved closer, because Draco was moving closer and because he could not run away.
"You really didn't want to love me," said Draco, shaking his head sadly. "If it's any consolation, I never really wanted to love you either."
He took Harry's hand.
"It's fairer this way," he said. "This way neither of us has a choice."
Morning arrived. To Draco it seemed earlier than usual. He wanted to get up but couldn't. He didn't want to break the spell. With the snitch flitting in circles above Draco's head, they lay facing each other, eyes closed, pretending to be asleep. It was wrong - it was a manipulation - but at the same time it was right and it was the rightness of it that Draco forced himself to concentrate on. Forget the past. Forget Draco's fuck ups and Harry's stubborness and the thousand fights they'd had, backward and forward, throughout the years since that school Quiddich game. Since then they'd both changed - perhaps irrevocably - and it struck Draco with some pride that the only constant had been his love. A fickle, self-centered love at times, and an angry, righteous one at others, but still, at base..
Harry said, "I'm awake, and I'm still here."
"You can go. You can take the snitch and leave, if you like. I'll understand."
"I don't want to."
"I don't know what we're going to do," Harry admitted. "I don't know if I can be fixed. Probably, if I ask father for help." He shrugged, dragging the blankets with him. "But I like this. It's.." he searched for the word. "It's comfortable."
"Comfortable. Why thank you for the sentiment, Harry Malfoy," said Draco in a tight voice, "and I shall count on your reference next time I feel the need to audition as someone's sofa."
"Don't be an ass." Harry held a hand over Draco's mouth. "Do you think they're watching us? The 'rents, I mean."
Draco pulled his hand away. "I wouldn't doubt it. They've probably got the old Draco album off the shelf and have flipped to the omniscient centerfold." He waved lazily at the ceiling, mouthed: "Hi mum, hi dad," before bursting out laughing. "I feel like I'm sixteen again," he grinned, punching weakly at Harry's upper arm.
"You certainly don't look it."
"We can't stay like this forever," Draco reminded him. "It was a test - I can see that now. I know how father thinks. A test to see what I'd do, and what you'd do. I don't know what it's proved, except that I'm bloody desperate and you're easily led. Mind games.. oh, wait a minute. There's something we've never tried," and before Harry could protest he'd grabbed the snitch from the air and pressed it between their palms. It fluttered. Draco held his breath.
"I feel madly in love with you," said Harry, to break the silence.
"I wouldn't use the word 'madly', but yes, I think I'm tending toward a similar -"
"Sentiment," Harry smirked.
"Quite. I suppose this little experiment proves that my love can kick the ass of your disinterest any day," said Draco, taking the snitch back and letting it go. "Which is something. A start. If this is what you want, I mean - a start. Have it all over."
Harry crossed his eyes, trying to think through the glaze of Draco-love that was clouding his judgement. "Draco. We're hasbeens," he said. "Let's face it. You're a cheap slut and I'm a raging hormone. We hate each other. We fight constantly. We go through hell together and we're still bitching when we come out the other end. We've battled Voldemort, we've tossed around magic medallions, we've flown with dragons, we've zipped back and forth across the globe, we've endured all your father's manipulations. We've faced down bloody Hermione, for goodness sake, and survived your mother on the rag, but there's nothing left for us. We're over. Our generation is done with. We're hopeless. You're a recluse and any love I ever had was destroyed by a bloody potion. Even now, the only reason we're even speaking to each other is through some bloody Dark Arts curse. In short, Draco, you and I are damaged goods. Beyond repair."
"Exactly," said Draco, sounding quite triumphant. "So let's face this, then, Harry - who else would have us?"
Lucius closed the album and looked at Narcissa. He couldn't see her very clearly, as they were both under their bed, huddled together.
"So small," Narcissa mumbled, clawing at him.
"Look on the bright side. At least you didn't sit up all night writing awful self-depreciatory poetry," Lucius groaned.
"Ergh," Narcissa groaned. "Not only do I feel like the least worthy mother in the world, but I also want to have sex with bloody Harry."
"Once I get up the nerve to climb out of here," Lucius promised, "I'll fix it."
Narcissa rolled onto her side and wrapped her arms around his waist, and started to weep uncontrolably. "I think, my love," she said as confidently as she could manage between snorts and sniffles, "you already have."
As he writhed out from under the bed, Lucius thought this over. Two sons, back in love, and possibly to remain so - at least so long as Severus Snape could come up with an antidote. A family business, prospering. A loving, beautiful, intelligent wife. And a yellow-haired grandson to continue the family line, and Lucius' name. All things considered, he had done alright for himself. And at least now he could say that he'd done alright by them, too. Just a few more loose ends to be tied, and a couple of new investors to seduce, and - above all - getting rid of that idiot spell before he threw himself out his own bedroom window, and he'd be ready to retire as patriarch of the Malfoy household.
Despite the I'll-never-be-good-enough litanies flooding his brain, and his desperate desire to curl up at the bottom of his sock drawer, Lucius Malfoy pursed his lips and began to hum. It was a weak sound, barely audible over the noise of Narcissa's moaning, but it was there all the same. He staggered to the door and pulled it open while draping himself over a cabinet.
"Cissy, my love," he moaned. "The world awaits us."
Return to Archive | prequel