Now Asleep, Now Awake
(May 1st 2000 – 4:30 pm)
It was a drab day. Drabbest of them all it seemed. Though it should not have seemed so, not for Draco. Even if it was a solar eclipse, this day should have felt like the day doors to paradise were opened to him, freedom should have ruled in the air, the imaginary sun should have finally dawned on him after the endless night that had been the last three years. It was anything but that.
The grey of the clouds was just that, grey and grim. The constant drizzle falling relentlessly on all happy, sad, grumpy and indifferent Londoners was just that, a grey and grim drizzle that stained more than washing away all that needed to be washed away. There was nothing cleansing about it, nothing liberating. Not for Draco.
"Pardoned!" was the only word Draco really heard. All else was just noise.
With the final strike of the gavel, the Wizengamot was dispersing. It was a tide of robes and hats and chatter at him through which Draco Malfoy tore. People around him were turning into shadows, conversations were turning to a distant hum. Making use of all his dulled faculties to the limit he followed the instinct that would lead him to his elusive goal. Fast, panicking, desperate.
It was a matter of life and death and Draco knew it. Though it seemed most of the things he had to do in the past three years had been just that, a matter of life and death. And these days, at times, when he was stowed away in his empty manor, he often came to the conclusion that he had failed at each and every one of them.
His mother had been killed, his father had been given the kiss. And he, he had become a social pariah.
And here he was. At the edge of sanity, running after the one last matter of life and death. Which was his own, unfortunately or fortunately; it was yet to be decided.
Draco held very little hope though. He had very little of it left, after three years of misfortune. And during his lonesome trekking of the manor grounds in the winter he came to accept the fact that, what he thought as being born to luxury and fortune, was in fact being born into vice and misfortune. It not only did not prepare him for what was to come. It took away the most important thing from his person. The freedom to make his own choice.
His wrong and disastrous choices were made for him, and the only thing luxury and false sense of superiority that was drilled into him did, was leave him unprepared for the kind of evil that would come to reside so near to him. The worst part was, that he had been forced into embracing it as well.
Not even given the choice of indifference.
It was not long before even the hum of the crowd he was still cutting through tuned out of his ears and all he could hear was the rapid thump of his own heart. He kept composing himself and breaking apart every alternate second as he made his way.
His vision was turning blurry around the edges. He knew he had over-dosed on the repressive potion and his body and magic was burning it all out rapidly, the overheat of the unsuitable reaction making him feel dizzy. But he kept on until he almost broke out of the Assembly hall. The sprawling chess board marble floor was like a huge optical illusion to his frayed nerves, concaving and convexing in patches where he tried to focus. Shutting his eyes tightly enough to make his eye sockets hurt he stepped on to it, sprinting across the seemingly endless length of it in the direction of the great mahogany gates. The sound of his rough breathing now joining the cacophony of his irregular heart beat in his ears and whimpers inside his chest.
He bumped into quite a few people-shadows along the way, but he cared nothing for it and even less for them taking offence. On the other side of the gates was the reception hall and communal Floo stations and that was Draco's destination. Pushing out of the dizzying atrium he finally made it to the reception hall. Eyes desperately scanning through the small queues in front of all twelve Floo stations, he spotted what he was looking for a few feet away from the fourth station on the far left wall which housed the departing Floos.
His shaking world came to a stop. It was as if all his veins were filled with lead. All desperation and burning energy seeped out of him dread replacing it. He was doomed and he knew it. A few more shadows bumped into him as he made his way towards his goal as if in a trance, a way similar to that of a wizard meant for a Dementor's kiss walks towards his fate, urged by misfortune and excruciating pain of loss and loneliness which was to be his only companion, he was almost sure of it.
Though, the small sliver of hope remained embedded in his heart was what was even more painful than all the pain that had been inflicted upon him.
He realized that the potion was almost gone. His instincts were still slow, but the connection was awakening. It won't all be under control for much longer and if this was to be done, it had to be done right then and there. He kept his pace and his focus somehow once he started moving again. The jet black hair worked as a homing beacon towards which he moved as the world around him was still slowed to an almost pause. Perhaps he was moving too fast.
The back was turned towards him, slim, but strong. The hair, a shiny black against the maroon of the Auror-in-training robes, head bobbing in a nod. Draco came to a stop a few feet away determined to be under control. There were people all around and his aristocratic training of years was not all in vain. The smaller a scene he made, the better. He was probably about to forfeit his life and though he was damned any way, he would be double-damned if he let it all happen without dignity. So it was to be done now, while it was all still under his control.
He noticed the flash of long red-hair and then widened blue eyes facing towards him from the other side of the turned away back. A sickening wave of fury and irritation rose in the pit of his stomach, mingling with his nausea and a shower of hurtful memories amidst darkness and clatter.
He cared very little if it showed on his face at this point. There was only so much he could control.
His throat started to ache as his whole body broke out in a cold sweat. He looked down at his feet trying to gain some kind of control on his fury.
Taking a deep scorching breath he looked up again towards the man that still was unaware of the presence behind him. Draco envied him as he always had. What would he not give for the same obliviousness towards the other's presence? But it was not to be. Never had been since he had laid his eyes on the person eight years ago. Draco had always been aware. Now he knew why, and if he did not keep in check, so will the rest of the world.
Nature or fate as you may call it had played him a losing hand, long before he was even born. Draco's fate had been written in nothing but blood and hate being born in the rain of stones with heart, body and soul made out of glass.
He licked his lips to no advantage as his mouth was just as sandpaper dry as his lips.
"P-Potter?" he did not know how he uttered the single word. But by Merlin's grace or curse it was done.
The back facing him stiffened and Draco stiffened in reaction, though only visible to the eyes of Potter's companion.
With an effortless grace that was most characteristic of Harry Potter, he turned around and sharp and cool emerald green eyes, which were huge and intense in that deceptively soft countenance were settled on Draco in a steely gaze, not giving a millimetre.
Draco was losing. Instincts warring, the nausea still not completely subsided. He was stuck somewhere in the centre of mindless suicide and bleeding worship.
"What do you want, Malfoy?" Ginny Weasley said sneering at him from Potter's side. Her contorted expression made her look ugly, but she wasn't ugly was she? No she was pretty! And the one standing by Potter's side, she was the one with the world in her hands. A Weasley? A faithless, opportunistic whore! (Which even in his feverish rage, a part of Draco knew she was not.)
Draco lost it then, not the control on his instinct, but the one on his temper. And as he was uttering the words and his face was changing its expression into just as much of an ugly sneer as hers, a part of him was oddly detached from the whole situation unfolding in front of him. It was as if he could watch it from a distance as a third person, who knew all the secrets of everyone present; he was watching clearly how the last thread of hope he had was snapping right in front of him by his own hands as if in slow motion.
"I do not think your name is 'Potter' yet, Weasley! So I would appreciate it if you would not respond to such, or is it too much of good manners to ask of a Weasley?"
As far as exchanges of insults went between Malfoys and Weasley, this one was atrociously mild, but its consequences would be much more far-reaching than anyone could have predicted. But in that moment, this mildly rude dialogue would doom Draco. Perhaps forever, and the saddest part was, that only Draco knew it. Only Draco would know how big a punishment can come from the mildest of insults.
Before the girl could answer, Potter stepped closer to him menacingly.
"You have some nerve, Malfoy! I just saved your arse from the Dementor's kiss and you come and insult those dear to me?"
It was as if someone had thrown an ice-cold bucket of water on Draco's hot skin. He realized with horror, the error he had just made. Yes, it was starting now. This was the moment that would stamp everything for Draco. But all Draco heard was the phrase, 'Dear to me.' Draco would never be that, he was somewhat realizing. Still he tried. But bloody Gryffindors never did stop and listen for a minute did they?
"P-Potter…Listen…" he said somewhere in the flood of soundless rush in his ears.
"NO, MALFOY! YOU LISTEN!" Potter snarled harshly green eyes full of venom and Draco's blood froze as his mouth shut and voice died in his throat. Draco Malfoy was listening and watching that acidic venom of hate, culminated over years perhaps. Birth and ignorance, that was what doomed Draco to this fate, it was stupid of him to even keep that little string of hope intact. He should have killed himself when he had the chance. Now, even that was going to be taken from him.
"I saved your arse only because I owed it to your dead mother! I would have gladly let you die as you are as much of a useless evil git and Death Eater scum as your bloody father was! Hear THIS! And remember it! And follow it! If you know what is good for you, you will leave this country and you will never show your face around here! If you know what is good for you, I will never hear Draco Malfoy's name. I will never see your ugly ferret-face again! If you know what is good for you, Malfoy, you will stay out of trouble and die a nameless death in an obscure part of the world, Malfoy! Do you understand?"
Draco remained silent and stunned. Wondering why he was still standing up straight when his soul was shattering? What held him up? He felt the sliver of hope dissolving like a wisp of smoke into thin air, the oppressive void filling his chest like hope never had.
Potter's gaze…that's right! That was what was holding him up. Potter's gaze full of disgust and hatred. Disgust and hatred addressed all at Draco, tenfold deeper than what was on display.
"I ASKED IF YOU UNDERSTOOD, MALFOY?"
"Yes," something answered for him.
"Good!" said Potter and suddenly fished inside his robe. Pulling out a wand and throwing it in Draco's face. It was Draco's first wand. The one that committed him to this fate. The one he remembered Potter snatching from him at the manor. The wand hit the side of Draco's cheek and then fell down clanging against the marble floor.
"Now get lost and remain lost, Malfoy!" Potter spat at him before taking the arm of Ginny Weasley and stepping into the vacant Floo a few feet away. Draco watched it all frozen on his spot. Draco watched his life burning before it melted and withered away into ashes and green flames. Draco watched as it never once looked back to see his ultimate destruction, Draco watched as it confined him to a life of excruciating pain and endless suffering. Draco watched, and when he couldn't watch anymore, Draco did as he was told.
(January 6th 2021 - 5:45am)
So beautiful in its slumber as I stand and watch it from the top of the hill where my humble abode rests.
That is what they call this hill.
With its ancient mystical Mulberry tree, rumoured to enchant those who taste its fruit and rest underneath it to forget all worries of life and just laze around till life passes them by.
If only it was that easy for life to pass by.
I admit it was this story that brought me to this place and it would be ungrateful of me if I claim that I have not felt welcomed here. The magic, beauty of the Mediterranean is pure here as well as peaceful and I have stood in this very place so many times watching the slumbering town beneath. Waiting. Wilting, oh so slowly.
But this morning is different.
So different from what I have always expected this morning to be like, in the end.
Though there is not much strength left, I celebrate still.
I feel justified. Accomplished.
Twenty years of endless suffering in banishment and excruciating pain. And my triumph can only last a week at most.
But, it is enough, it has to be. I have no regrets. Not anymore.
The golden line on the horizon tells me of sunrise. I remove my night-shirt. To face the sun one last time. Clenching my fist around the single knitted woollen glove, I stole so dexterously. I have been holding it for most of the night, it is my last solace, and I think I deserve it, I deserve this little piece of that which would be missed for a moment before it will be replaced by something newer better, but this, for me is the best I can have, and it can never be replaced.
My uncovered weak flesh faces the rising sun and I feel the freshest of sunlight on my chafing skin. I feel the over-whelming foreign magic burning inside my veins. It is consuming me fast. Faster now.
Soon, I will be too far gone to feel it all anymore. Or I maybe I will still feel it, but will not be able to make sense of it anymore. Soon it will all become senseless and mindless. And that, in my opinion, is called heaven.
I hear someone entering the room behind me. I am very sure of who it is.
Aali, My apprentice and employee. My adopted progeny. And my companion.
He is always loud, especially when he is trying to be silent. Always behind when he is trying to be ahead.
And to me, that is his most endearing characteristic.
"Ustad! When did you return?" he gasps behind me as I turn to look at him. He holds the watering can, filled to the brim. So reliable my Aali is. Broad, tall and brawny with his dark hair, distractingly stern brow and expressive olive-green eyes. He is scanning me thoroughly and worryingly.
"Last night…" I answer to distract him from his scrutiny.
"And you did not think to Floo me? Or call me on the phone?" he huffs a little. Yes, striving to hide his worry by acting normal.
"I did not want to trouble you…you are a family man now…"
"Yes, I am, and you are a part of that family…I worry about you…"
"Well, you won't be worrying for long then."
He freezes bent over the Twirlezil, watering can held aloft the magical herb, which is thriving it seems. Thanks to his careful affection and worry. But alas, I am not some herb, and Aali's careful affection and worry are not going to help me thrive. As things stand, nothing can.
That was a harsh way of breaking the news.
He turns towards me carefully. His clenched fist around the filled watering can trembling.
"What did you do?" he asks eyes wide, the kind of wide which means he is coming to a realization.
"What I was supposed to…it was the worst case scenario…" I say, knowing that making light of the situation is going to make his reaction more severe. But I need him to have his breakdown now. Where I can see it, soothe him, handle it. I need to be present, still in my senses for his good byes. His are the only ones I am going to receive. Rest I am only going to send, to those who are probably not even looking for them.
"What did you do, USTAD!?" he yells loudly at me, and I can feel the sound hitting my skin, aching. The watering can smashes on the side. As he takes a step towards me menacingly.
Yes, angry…Angry is good. Angry is as good as it will get. He has Sarah now. Aali is not alone. He will be fine. It will all be fine, painful for a while, but he will come through. And once the baby comes, he will be perfect again. Helping people, raising a family, never alone.
I have done my due.
"Only what was necessary, Aali…he had me make an unbreakable vow."
"NO! He did not! You offered to make an unbreakable vow didn't you? I know this! How could you?"
A tear escapes his olive eyes as I can see his heart shattering in his eyes.
"How could I not?" I ask him. And it's true, how could I not? It was the best deal I was going to get. Only, at that moment I had not really considered the fact that I might succeed. It was wrong of me. Severus would have disapproved.
"Don't you even start! You planned this, I knew that letter was the siren of doom, I knew! I felt it! I should have kept it back! I should…You can't do this! Ustad! You…" He shudders and takes a deep breath, shoulders hunched and all of a sudden he looks like the boy I found in my back lawn soaked in winter rain, curled in on himself breathing harshly to keep warm, scared and lonely but brave.
So brave. So thin and wiry, so beautiful.
"Aali…" I reach out to him the same way I had all those years ago, as he trembles fixed on the spot, moist eyes staring at me and I can see his heart burning with grief in his eyes.
I haven't been a total failure then. I have someone's love. Someone is going to grieve me after I am gone. It is a selfish thought, but I haven't been that in a long time, and now of all times it should be okay.
He reaches for my hand the same way he had done fifteen years ago, when he was nothing but a scruffy thin boy of ten years. And before I realize I am being embraced. He is the same height as me but much more solid and broad yet he manages to hide in my arms, like the little boy he will always be. My little boy.
He asks me as I sit on my recliner facing the French windows, his head in my lap as he sits on the floor next to me holding my shins in a death grip as he spills silent tears.
"A week…at most." His breath hitches audibly.
"And… And the pain?" his voice breaks at the end of the sentence.
"No more than three days at most…I am sure."
"I should never have given you that cursed letter. I am so stupid!"
"And see me suffer for how many more years? You could never be that selfish!"
"Yes, but how can you be so selfish?"
"I…." in truth, I have no answer for that. What can I tell this boy who is more to me than my own flesh and blood would have been? What can I tell him? That I was born selfish? That I was born to self-centredness and bigotry and only self-indulgence? This boy who worships the ground I walk on, who thinks I am an angel on earth if there ever was one. How can I tell him?
"No! I am sorry! I did not mean it that way. Of course, you have suffered enough, you deserve peace and it is selfish of me in reality. I should not be…But I am so angry, you are everything to me."
No, Aali, I am not anything to anybody. And I learnt the truth of that a long time ago.
(2 weeks ago)
Express O- Stamp Dated: 10th Dec 2020.
Honourable Ustad Beyazlamak,
c/o Yardim Eli Assc.
REDIRECT TO : USTAD BEYAZLAMAK
C/O Olive Tower Bell Monastery,
I am writing this letter to you as a last resort to an impossible situation. I have heard a lot of admiration for your extraordinary work in alternative healing magic through the grapevine for a few years now. I must admit , you are a difficult person to find. It has taken a lot of effort on my part to find even a reference address to reach you. But I am thankful to Yardim Eli Association who finally agreed to help me out in reaching you.
It is known widely that you are the most effective healer for curing the most mysterious magical maladies, considering your benevolent forte, I would also like to make a desperate request of you which I am hoping you will consider. It is of utmost importance to me and while I know how much it might ask of you, I am left with no other choice but to take the liberty and request this of you. If you accept or reject, it is solely in your hand.
It is just so that a loved one in my immediate family suffers from such a mysterious magical illness which the world class mainstream magical healers to date have been unable to cure.
My youngest sibling and only sister, Lily Luna, has been suffering from Magical seizures for the past nine months. The attack-like seizures started in the past March during a regular school session in Hogwarts where she read in year one. Due to gradually increasing frequency of these seizure-attacks, which start with immediate high fevers and magical backlash type of seizures her schooling had to be discontinued.
In the beginning, the seizures lasted only for a period of three minutes to four minutes and never happened more than once a day, leaving her fatigued for the rest of the day and also with an irregular magical flow for approximately two days afterwards, during which period her magical flow would range between MFF level 2 to MFF 7.8.
Once the school year was wrapped up and she was brought home, the attacks/seizures stopped for a whole month, before starting again with increased frequency (2-3 seizures/day) and longer seizure durations( 7-10 minutes).
Her appetite increased with the frequency of seizures, yet she continued to lose weight and also suffered from an increase in body temperature by 2 degrees. At this point she went through a number of magical tests to check what really ailed her. They tested her for most magical disorders known to old and modern magical healing, from magical epilepsy to Daenaryen magic disorder. She tested negative to all intrusive and non-intrusive magical tests. Meanwhile in the next two months the seizure frequency increased even more and rendered her in a constant state of delirium. Her MFF's constant fluctuating made it impossible to treat her even for the increased temperature of her body. Her health deterioration has gotten to the point that the Healers panel at St. Mungo's came to a unanimous decision to put her in a magical stasis coma, until they could figure out her ailment.
Being a second year intern at Healer's training myself and specializing in diagnostics to boot, I know that this will only delay which is seeming hopelessly inevitable at this point. I have spent hours and hours in researching the symptoms and what causes them. I have scoured all possible leads that knowledge in this part of the world provided me with, to no avail. I also branched out to researching alternative methods of healing, from Japan to Peru, from light magic therapy, to alternative black voodoo magic, but all my efforts have gone to naught and as a last resort I turn to you. I read about the six-head case that you cured an adolescent from while I was on a week long holiday in Antalya last summer. There was no direct address to you so I am sending this to Yardim Eli association under a wing of which you work. They have promised me that they will send it forward to you for which I cannot be grateful enough. I hope this letter reaches you in time. My family is in a constant state of despair as we see no hope shining for my most beloved sister, who lies in a stasiscal coma for the past whole month now.
So, I plead with you honourable Ustad, to agree to at least come see her once. Fee, assistance, logistics staying and travelling, my family is willing to provide anything you may require. Our only request is to come and see my sister once, my instinct tells me that if anyone can heal her, it is you, but as I have heard, convincing you is the toughest part of it all.
I hope you will consider this. I hope you will be able to cure her. And hope is the most precious thing that my family and I possess right now.
**A comprehensive report of all the tests conducted until now and her basic magical and physical data as well as HMC (Hereditary Magic Character) report, accompanies this letter. I plead, yet again, for the sake of my lovely little sister. I pray that you will consider treating her, you are our only hope.**
Albus Severus Potter
101 Bagshot Street
(Floo Address(FIC) – "101 Bagshot Street / New Potter Residence")
I stared at the letter for what felt like an eternity. Mind blank and silent at the name printed in a neat swift hand on the lower edge of the parchment.
Albus Severus Potter.
Albus Severus Potter.
Namesake of two of the greatest wizards I ever knew and carrying the name, flesh and blood of the third one.
Albus Severus Potter.
Son of Harry James Potter.
Thinking that name alone made my insides hurt.
"Well?" I was startled out of my reverie with Aali's voice, who loomed in front of me.
I gazed at him, as I wondered how much he should be told about this?
What exactly was 'it' then? I wondered.
"Is everything okay? You look like you have seen a ghost…" Worry was now starting to show on his face. He always did read faces too well.
I wanted to say that had I really seen a ghost, I would not have feel this way at all. But something stopped me from revealing too much to Aali. Something stopped me every time.
"I'm fine. Just a little unexpected," I said vaguely enough.
"It is from home?" he asked, blanking his face at my vagueness. This secrecy remained a sore-spot between us. And I missed the days when he only needed food, sleep, comfort and adventures.
"This is my home, Aali," I said plainly and made my way inside for a moment of peace.
Peace. What a joke.
There would be no peace now. It was gone.
Peace that I had culminated by relentless efforts during the past twenty years. Changing everything, even the material I was made of. Peace that I had earned from hard and at times dangerous work. Peace that had come to me in its sweet time with helping those who couldn't be helped. Loving the unloved ones. Caring without prejudice. Easing pain and suffering of others, because there was no cure for mine.
In a moment I was back to wretched. I should have been above all of it by now.
A child was suffering inexplicably somewhere and I was sitting here thinking about…
I skimmed the letter again full of dread.
Lily Luna. Lily Luna Potter.
Luna. I remembered Luna. I remembered seeing her in Nicosia about a decade ago. Frazzled, but more grounded accompanied by her husband and sons, twins, identical too.
She looked happy and satisfied. Complete.
And I had felt like ripping my heart out.
Such a waste I was.
She did not recognize me though our eyes did meet across the café.
I was equally glad and sad about that.
In the weeks that she had been detained in the dungeons of the manors, we had developed a tentative friendship though we never spoke a word to each other. But I saw in her eyes the kindness and understanding that I did not find in the eyes of even my so-called best friends. Not that they knew any reason to be kind towards me. It was as if she knew my secret, as if she knew what I was suffering from. That look of kindness was the only reprieve I had for the day after. Even in the aftermath of her escape, despite the excruciating punishment I had to endure at the hands of my own aunt, I often thought about her and missed her. I could never begrudge her. But it was not so easy to flee from my own cage was it?
Potter could not have named his daughter after a better and braver witch.
It was time for me to be brave too. It was time.
A child was suffering, and even if that child belonged to Harry Potter,I would die before I fail to heal that child.
Especially because she belonged to Harry Potter.
I would show him who I was now. I would show him change.
I owed him my life, though at times I did wish that he had not saved me.
And then bind me to a half-life.
Not that there could be any other kind of life for one such as me.
"Death Eater scum"
No, he needed to be showed this change.
I will not fail, I would die before I failed to heal a child who needed my help.
And I realized with that thought, that it may be the perfect chance to do just that. Only failure was not an option. And dying would be a reward.
"Aali!" I yelled. He knew the tone, he would come running for it.
"Ustad! What is the matter?" he was panicked, soil smeared on his face from where he had been working in the garden.
"Clean up! You have a Floo call to make."
Half an hour later we Apparated inside my office and haphazard testing lab in Nicosia. It was the nearest and safest place I knew of from where it would still be impossible to track me.
"So, what do I say?" he asked me for the umpteenth time.
"You will say that Ustad Beyazlamak is interested in taking a look at his sick sister, but will only travel so far, if his father, the legal guardian of the child and the head of the household personally calls Ustad Beyazlamak on the phone and gives his express consent that he wants Ustad Beyazlamak to treat his daughter and wants him to travel all the way to UK for this purpose. And then you will give him the phone number to the hotel suite we are staying at and ask him to call in the evening only between the hours of five and seven…UK time."
"Why are you making this so complicated? I don't understand." He was wary, he had the right to be that. I hated to make him do anything he did not want to, but here we had no choice. He was already angry about my suggestion for travelling given my condition which only he knew about. But I knew in the end, Aali would stand by all my decision, no matter how much he opposed them. I was his father, teacher, best friend all-in-one.
Giving him a stern look that would shut away all other arguments or queries to come, I answered the most obvious one.
"I am making this complicated so it will look important and they will take my treatment seriously. It is of utmost importance that we handle this right, Aali! I might be the only person who can save that little girl. And I don't want to fail for their lack of faith in my abilities, so we have to make an impression. We have to be taken seriously."
"It is not because it is Harry Potter's daughter, is it?" he asks me, a sardonic brow raised.
I froze. Did he know? How could he know? How could he? I had doubled my suffering over the years by resisting to call that name even once. I thought I had been so careful.
"This is not some celebrity thing is it Ustad? Because if it is, I must tell you it is most uncharacteristic of you and I am extremely disappointed…"
Oh. Thank you, God! He didn't know.
"No! No no no no! No such thing, you idiot! It is as I am telling you! Now just do as I say!" I shoved him towards the Floo-place. The shove was more symbolic, as I could hardly move him an inch on my own. The sturdy git.
Huffing and rolling his eyes he crouched in front of the fire place grabbing a huge fist of Floo powder from the side, piece of paper with the instructions and hotel suite phone number in hand, and threw the powder into the magic flames that still made me nauseous to look at for days once the memories hit again.
" 101 Bagshot Street, New Potter residence," he said loud and clear. All irritation and scepticism was gone from his voice. I moved to the far left window, just out of the range of the Floo view. My heart was beating so fast that I was sure it was going to leap out of my chest at any moment and bounce around the room like a rubber ball at the most inopportune moment. And this was after taking the calming draught less than ten minutes before.
The flame burned idle for ten seconds before it finally connected. International network problems.
The view of a cosy modern living room rose in the flat wall of flames with just a slight tinge of green. Just like Muggles, wizards had also made improvements in technological departments. It was only mandatory that the Potters were connected to the Ultra -9F network.
A dog lay leisurely just in front of the view. It came alert straight away as the Floo must have flared in the grate in front of which it was languishing. It scrambled up quickly and barked short loud barks with its snout turned upwards.
What was that all about?
A few seconds later someone walked into the Floo view.
And the bouncing heart stopped in my chest.
But that was just me. Frozen in time. Standing again in front of a huge Floo place, life bleeding away. Green and ashes. Memories were seeping into the present. And at the time, there was just no time for that. I will not be paralysed like this.
On a second look, I realized that though he looked extremely like young Harry Potter, this was not him, but his son. Most definitely son. Harry Potter was not a teenager anymore.
"I am calling for a Mr Albus Severus Potter on behalf of Ustad Beyazlamak," Aali said, dignified and professional, just as any assistant of a high-profile something would ask, I was oddly proud of him. Potter's child against my own. Because no matter the technicalities, Aali was my child, my son.
The boy almost leapt into the fireplace it seemed as to how fast he crouched in front of the fireplace .
He was handsome, but looked tired and was still in some sort of pyjamas.
"YES! Yes! I am Albus Severus Potter,” he almost shouted. smoothing his dark hair with one hand for some strange reason. "I wrote the letter to the honourable Ustad. I did not think I would get a reply so quickly. Though I do hope you are calling me with good news!" He smiled nervously. Definitely not the same Potter.
The boy was blabbing.
"Well, my master has instructed me to tell you, that he is interested in treating your sister, but only on the condition that your father, the legal guardian of your sister, calls him on the telephone himself and make the request of Ustad Beyazlamak to travel all the way to the United Kingdom to treat your sister personally."
"Wow! Thank you! Thank you so much! I do not have words! My father is just upstairs, I can call him now to the Floo to make the request right now if that would be acceptable."
What? Now? No! Not face to face. Never! He would never agree to this if he knew who I really was. He cannot know before he makes the request. I want to tell Aali, but he is not looking at me. This is going to be ruined.
"No, Mr. Potter, my master is not here at the moment and he would like to receive this request personally, he is very particular with his requirements. It is the least you can do in return for the favour he is about to do you. Kindly ask your father to call him on the phone number that I will give you now, between the hours of five and seven on your side. Not before or after."
I am a little startled at how Slytherin and superior Aali sounds. I wonder if I have given him that. I had always admitted to myself at times begrudgingly enough, that had Aali ever gone to Hogwarts, he would have been sorted into Gryffindor before the hat even touched his head. For a moment, I was not so sure anymore.
"Yes, definitely yes, it would be no problem. I am sorry that I did not mention phone number in the letter, we do have one at home." The boy is smiling most hopefully. His eyes sparkling.
"Excellent, then I hope that will allow your father to call within the hours I have specified. Please note down the number…"
A few minutes later the Floo extinguishes on another special note of gratitude from the boy.
Albus Severus Potter.
He resembled his father very strongly. Same bright eyes, dark, thick indomitable hair, perfectly balanced face, though his jaw was squarer than his father's, more like his mother and had a tiny addition of a light spray of freckles on his nose and cheeks.
He had intelligence and easy charm when days were good, I could tell. But very little charisma, nothing even close to his father's.
Albus Potter in his heart of heart was a happy boy. A normal boy.
Harry Potter was a haunted one.
Which added to his mystery.
And beauty too, for those who had the eye for that kind of thing, which I did.
Harry Potter even underneath the layers of careless over-sized clothes, bedraggled hair and hideous glasses was a monument. A true hero, half god – half human. Different from everyone no matter how much he tried to pass off as ordinary and how much he tried to blend in, he stood out. He was unique. He was on a plain high above all others, without even knowing it.
I smiled at my folly. The thought that I ever held even that bleeding sliver of hope in my heart was funny.
I never stood a chance.
And now I would make sure that the chance would not stand me.