Zero Angle, I dangle, by fingertips, from the Ferris wheel of Life.
(Dec, 22nd 2020)
It is freeze-raining again, in words of Lily.
How I hate this weather.
I glare at the auror that is loitering just beside the apparition point. And that is all he is doing. He does not notice me until I have reached close enough to give him a nice box on his handle like ears.
He is an easy target for my frustration. After the lunch break I have just had.
Ginny had been… Ginny.
Always nipping at me for being easy with Lily and Albus.
And now just Albus.
I do not understand how a mother could give up on her child like Ginny has on Lily. It doesn't make sense at all.
"Why won't you let her be in peace? What use is all of it? What could this new shaman maniac do that the Healers at Mungo's couldn't? Why are you such a push-over with Albus? Will you at least fucking react to me when I am throwing a tantrum you bastard!"
It ended how it always ends. With me walking out. That is the only way it could ever end, I should have known. Is it wrong that I feel that her shouting and anger is fair? Is it wrong that it never angers me? The only think I can get angry about with her is when she accuses me of having favorites among my children. It was always her way, never mine. Yet I stand accused for one thing I never do.
I purse my lips and say nothing to the lazy Auror. He is here to report to me before going back to his post in Soho.
I listen and send him back to his post with new instructions. The louts who are breaking in people's houses and destroying properties in broad daylight through a petrol bomb like potion will soon be foiled. That is if the Auror does his job. I am only involved on personal request from Percy, because one of the houses that were broken in, belonged to the muggle Italian Ambassador and the orders had come directly from the Muggle Prime Minister.
Victoria helps. Always helps. With the tea and the music and then leaving me alone to brood. It seems I have gotten to the point where hope frustrates me even more than helplessness. And for some reason, I find myself hoping.
The man might have seemed an imbecile at first. But when I later reviewed the conversation. In bed. I realized exactly what he had done.
He had set grounding. He had established himself in control. He had established the fact fully that he was only doing this because we requested it so and that he was the only one who would be calling the shots. He would do his work but won't stand interference from us. It was a very subtle psychological trick. And then he had refused my offer to provide him with means of transport, establishing his freedom of choice to come and go as he pleases and should we displease him or whatever is the deal-breaker for him, he would leave on his own terms.
It is a good sign. I like that in a person. If you are good at what you do and are confident about it, never cow in front of anyone. Do everything on your own terms.
I am restless. An uneasy tug inside me is the only thing I can think about. I am anxious and angry too, a little bit still.
There is nothing I can pin-point, or fix myself at, so, I start pacing.
Pacing helps, pacing makes me feel like I am moving, going somewhere. Pacing feels like it is bringing me closer. Closer to whatever it is that I supposed to be getting closer to.
"Dear Harry…" Oh dear it is never good when she addresses me that way. It means that she disapproves of something I have recently done or am currently doing.
I turn to look at her.
"It's almost Four, You have a private appointment at Five in 's. Do you remember?"
Ah! It is better than pacing the office. The idea alone calms me down. Moving in the right direction it is.
"Yes! I remember! In fact…" I summon my robe and cloak and notice Victoria's lip purse some more.
"…I am going to go right now as there is nothing to do here…"
"At least fix your hair dear…" she sighs resigning.
I grin at her sheepishly.
"Don't you know? Messy is the new sexy?"
"You are going to see your daughter's healer dear, not a suitor." A little smile plays on her lips as she makes her way to button up my vest, which I only wear for formal meetings, as I strap in my wand holster on my thigh. Just because it looks more dangerous and menacing. As I move to shrug into my robe she snatches it from my hand.
"No, not this one. It has got rain stains! Honestly Harry I don't know why you don't use an impervious charm when you are out in the rain."
If there is anything such as rain stains, I wouldn't know as they are apparently invisible to me and only visible to female –motherly eyes.
She moves to the Wizard space adjacent to my office and brings out another robe, I raise my eyes to see that it is the Midnight Blue Steep cut one with the tastefully dulled silver buttons. I feel even more sheepish, I know how she hates to summon clothes. "Ruins the ironing Harry!"
I only wear this robe when I am meeting foreign delegations, when I have to look the part and face of the new MLE, the fit auror and savior of the wizarding world. It is practically more fitted to my structure than my own skin and brings out the menace. Showing off the muscles I have acquired over the years. Ron had definitely gone for the portly, but as it is, it is impossible for me to get fat.. Or grow a white hair. Where poor eye-sight has always been the bane of Potters, the perfect metabolism and slow ageing is a wonderful compensation. Had my age not been such a huge news, always. I can easily pass as a thirty-year old.
I imagine that this robe costs a lot but I had never had to pay for robes like these, they came every season and plentiful from a French designer Wizard, who felt like he owed it to me for ridding him of his competitor who had kidnapped his three children demanding to sign over his business as ransom.
At least Victoria has not brought out the weird dark purple/?Maroon one. The one she keeps insisting is 'Plum'. That one is just obscene. Makes me look nothing like head-auror and father of three that I am and am supposed to look like. I know it irks Albus when we are shopping muggle and people mistake me to be his brother rather than his father.
"First impression is the last impression Harry. Albus told me that the healer worked you up last night, now it is time to show him that though you will let him work peacefully, he should not expect to just troll all over you. He is a monk, dressing is the only place you can have advantage over him. He would probably be in a frock."
"A frock?" I can't even imagine what that would look like.
"Not really… but you never know with these Monk, mystic types." She smiles in that weird wistful way once the buttons are done up.
"You do know that you are ruining my son with giving him a taste for gossiping though don't you?"
I slip into my cloak and feel the shiver of an impervious leaving her wand. If it was anyone else, they would have found themselves frozen on the ground by now even before the spell reached me.
" You are Harry Potter, you can hardly blame us when the rest of wizarding world is doing it without any shame…" she smiles at me coyly.
"I hope you have a better weekend." She says clasping a hand on my shoulder reassuringly. I hope so too. Oh how I would give anything for that hope.
In the elevator I bump into Percy.
"I was hoping to catch you. Wanted to send a memo but then I thought..." he pauses for a moment while I wait, hoping he is not going to delay me.
"Audrey and I wanted to come see Lily whenever it could be convenient. Arthur wanted to do a full Christmas at the hospital and he has been at Audrey about it, it is becoming a week long sulk, so if he asks you when he comes to visit, could you just…"
"I'll handle it Percy, don't worry about it. I try to keep his time at the hospital minimal as it is. I know how close he is Lily and Molly also told me about the sleep-crying. So don't worry about it.
"He will only take your word for it Harry, you know how he idolizes you." And I notice for the first time how upset even Percy is about this whole situation. How I had not noticed it until now just proves me of my self-indulgence. Lily is just as much Percy's niece as she is Charlie's (who has been coming down every month to see her) George's or Ron's (who never fails to visit every single day.) As it is Lily is closest with Arthur, it was bound to happen with only three days gap between their births, Percy's only child and Lily used to spend most weekends at their home. I still have the letters full of delight both had co-written when both of them had got in Gryffindor. Arthur was the first witness to Lily's illness and the one who is impacted the most too. Lily has a way of hijacking one's life and more often than not it was Arthur's.
Now Arthur looks just as stationary as Lily does. And comes almost daily to the hospital with Molly since he has been back from school for Christmas holidays.
My dear child. My baby. Come back to us. I swallow down the clenching again quickly.
"The new healer will be here today, so I'll definitely owl you about when you can come and we will schedule around it."
"Thanks Harry.. At times like these I hate my position."
Yes, I know he does. Minister of Magic as he is. Youngest Ever. It is the price.
It takes me less than four minutes to get to . It is hardly Five past four and I am craving a warm cup of tea. The damp weather is my least favorite. I am only hoping that Ginny would take heed of what I said…Only thing I said in answer of her rant, that she should avoid coming to the hospital again today. I need to see this through properly for Albus and Ginny would make it all impossible.
I spot Albus straight away as I walk through the sliding doors, he is standing just by the reception desk which is decked in gaudy Christmas décor with Rose and talking to someone with a glee that is rarely seen on his face these days. I straight away take in the person who Albus is talking to…
First thing I notice is Silver white dazzling Hair. Tied in a neat tight braid that only reaches just under the nape of a slender yet strong neck. Broad but lean and sharp shoulders Snow white silk shirt and A snow grey cardigan and slightly darker neatly tailored trousers that are draped around legs that go on and on and on. A Dark grey-green Dragon-skin bag is slung across one shoulder and before I know I am close enough to actually see the mole on the side of this person's neck just under the hair line. He is tall, taller than me and Albus. And magical. Extremely Magical, though its benign extremely soft textured and nervous for some reason. It feels like a heady pleasant buzz you get after your first taste of butterbeer.
An impulsive flash in my mind goes off, a vision of me closing the distance of the few feet between us and draping myself around him like a second skin.
"Dad! Ustad Beyazlamak is here. Ustad, this is my dad Harry Potter. The famous Savior of our wizarding world, bane of dark wizards, etcetera, etcetera…"
This is Beyazlamak? The monk? He doesn't dress like a monk.
"Hello.." I say just as the man turns around
And Oh my dear God, the eyes.
So light a grey, almost Silver. Almond shaped and fair lashed, straight and delicate nose and high cheekbones. So patrician. Aristocratic and angelic and so so familiar. A firm mouth and a strong pointed chin. So familiar. My mind is gasping to make a connection. It is as if I know this face, as if I have always known it, seen it again and again time after time like in a dream which is so vivid but fades away as soon as you are awake. I know I am staring like an idiot but it is a mystery like none other. This face. I would surely remember if I had seen such a beautiful face so frequently. It is unforgettable. I am sure I haven't forgotten it yet but…
And then those lips open and a single word comes out of it.
And it is the voice. The voice. The voice that makes the connection, more than the voice the style, the manner, the curtness.
What in the name of heaven and hell is he doing here?
Malfoy! Fucking Malfoy!
He can't be Beyazlamak. Must be fooling, faking, lying…
After all those inquiries to discover his whereabouts after he had vanished off the fucking face of the world.
I had looked for how long?
Yes five years. Five fucking years.
And not a trace of him.
And here he now stands.
Posing as a Monk Healer. FROM FUCKING TURKEY.
No I had not asked anyone in Turkey.
Don't hex him! Don't hex him! Don't hex him. Some part of me repeats.
"Malfoy" I say flatly. It comes out sterner than I expected and for a split second the expression on his face is as if I have just stabbed him before it's clear and blank again.
"Malfoy?" I hear Albus say.
"Yes, that is what I was about to tell you and Miss Weasley…" He finally breaks eye contact with me, his silvery strange eyes switching to my son. I feel bereft for some odd reason. He is… so beautiful. Fuck sensibility, Malfoy looks beautiful. Awe-inspiring, magnetizing, stone-hard and cold, beautiful. I feel as if my breath has been knocked out of me. He has not aged, but grown. He does not look the age he actually is. He has that vulnerability to him, that aloofness. Though there is also a faded weathered feel to him, as if despite his pristine look he has seen a lot. Suffered a lot. My break of thought is broken with Albus' increased in incredulity and volume voice.
"…That you are Malfoy? The Malfoy? As in Draco Malfoy?" it is Rose this time. I look at both the children. Who both wear a strange mix of expression on their faces. Almost identical in their confusions.
This won't do. This won't do at all.
A million things are running through my head. I take a deep breath, a method I had taught myself in my beginning days of Auror practice. When I was just so angry all the time just beneath the surface and I had to keep it under wraps, always, lest I spilled it out in front of my wife. I used to be so buzzed and distraught all the time as if I had lost the meaning of life even when I was living a dream finally. Married to the girl of my dreams. Officially part of the Weasley clan, a child on the way and chasing the last remnants of death-eaters. Hunting them down and bringing them to justice. Erasing the last traces of Voldemort. But it was never enough. And my mask and control took a long time to make, but was flawless enough to hide my cracking psyche at most times.
"Would you both excuse us for a moment? I think Malfoy and I need to have a word… In private."
"But….Dad…" Albus starts to protest but quiets down when I shoot him a look everyone notices. He pales a little and shoots an apprehensive look at Malfoy. Who carries such a passive look that on that face that it is almost alarming.
"Come with me…" I say simply. I feel him look up and once I have started walking I can feel him behind me, matching step for step. If he has something nefarious on his mind he sure is not showing it in his body language.
Before I realize, I am stepping out of 's. Where do I take him?
Merlin's bollocks! It is cold!
I turn to look at him and can see him shivering with it as well.
It is almost instinctual how my hand reaches out and clasps around his wrist.
He shudders. Honest to God shudders. And for once I am thankful for my woolen gloves.
When I pull, he comes easily, fluidly. It is eerie.
"You were travelling to England in December and that is what you decided to wear?" I say looking pointedly at the flimsy looking cloak still hanging draped across his satchel, as we reach across the road and next to the apparition booth.
He looks at me for a long moment and I realize that the expressions on that face are no longer giving me any idea of what he is feeling. It has been too long. I don't know his expressions any longer. Not when they are not disgust, hate, mockery, poison.
"It is adequate, were I given a chance to actually put it on before…" He trails off looks away shakes his head a bit and then looks back at me. And his expression is…
I don't know what to call it but it is unsettling.
The best I can do is ignore it as I move aside from one of the doors of the apparition booth and signal him to get in.
He does without question and I follow without an answer and then disapparate to the only place I can think of where the pending conversation or interrogation can take place.
We apparate in a back alley of the building where one of my generic apartment/safe house is situated. It can also easily and most comfortably turn into an interrogation/captivity cell, off the records of course.
He follows me this time without prompting. As we enter the building the security guard sends a salute my way I nod in his direction which is a signal that all is well. If I wave my hand at him, it means that it is trouble. And he would immediately inform the MLE SWAT.
As the escalator door closes I press the button to the seventh floor.
"You are being incredibly cooperative." I say when I notice the tension in him. He is standing rigid and straight a hand clasping and unclasping around the strap of his dragon hide satchel.
Just as we pass the second floor I remember. Stupid stupid stupid. I have to cover my error.
"Oh… and while you are being cooperative, why don't you hand me over your wand?"
His head shoots up to look at me, eyes widened. He has gone paler if it was possible.
"Just so you don't get any ideas…" I add. Why I am try to reassure my ex-arch-nemesis I have no idea. I actually have no idea what I am going to do right now. Interrogate him, yes. But did I have to bring him here, to one of my most secret safe house?
A dangerous thought passes my mind for a split second.
'Has he already cursed me?'
No, that is not possible. But what do I know, what he is capable of and what is possible with him. He did manage to hide from me for twenty years. As arrogant and showy Malfoys were, Draco had slipped off the grid with horrifying ease. Leaving no traces behind to his whereabouts. Manor on a lockdown through blood wards, only selective house-elves allowed in and out of the household.
Thank fully at that very moment the escalator opens.
This time he steps out first without my prompting. Almost as if sprinting out.
And I am hardly out of the lift when he turns around faster than I have ever seen anyone move before and his wand is pressing against my neck. Before mine has even reached my hand.
"Is this the kind of idea you were thinking about Potter?"
His voice is calm, very calm.
I can't help but feel how funny the situation is.
"Why are you smiling?" he asks, eyes narrowed.
I flick my wrist silently summoning his wand.
The one in his hand doesn't budge. But a wand does fly into my hand.
And it is familiar. The surge of magic. The feel of it. The surrender of it.
"Hello again old friend…" I can't help but greet the wand. We have known each other very intimately for several years. Malfoy looks like he is about to be sick staring at the wand in my hand. His wand. The one I had…
"If I had some nefarious designs on your family Potter, this would not be the way I would go about it." His voice is gravelly and he is suddenly all out of breath. The wand withdraws and he takes a step back, then two, until his back is against the wall. He ducks is head down leaning against the wall knuckles white around his clasped greyish wand. I have never seen a wand of that colour.
"Then what is the meaning of this? What is meaning of your being here? Showing up after twenty years?"
"Just what I said. Your son wrote me a letter. Your daughter's life is in peril and I owe you a life debt and its time I paid my dues before closing this chapter forever. It would be easier if you just believed me now, because interrogating me would not do you a whole lot of good." He gives the stretch of the corridor a disdainful look. So he knew my intentions all along.
"It is hardly a surprise Potter, you are as predictable as always, acting before you think, leaping before you look, so arrogant with power you hold over…people."
He looks vulnerable and strangely exhausted all of a sudden his silver eyes are staring at me. it is a blink and miss movement when his free hand twitched and the wand that I had just confiscated from him flies back to him. And just like that we are back to square one. Though he tucks the wand back inside his side pocket and his fingers ease slightly on the other one as well. So now that it is obvious that there is no getting out of this situation and it is I actually who is at disadvantage, I decide to abandon the Gryffindor way and take another approach to unravel the mystery that is this man before me.
"A life-debt? I considered it settled when your mother helped me in the dark forest Malfoy…" he interrupts me immediately.
"Not for saving me from fiendFyre Potter! I owe you my life for testifying in my favor in front of the Wizengamot. They would have given me the kiss if it wasn't for you. So I owe you for that. I know you won't believe me but I would have come to cure your daughter even if I did not have a life-debt hanging on my head. It is what I do. I have taken an oath. But because you are too frigid to believing in my goodwill, I give you a proper, logical reason for me being here, apart from the goodness of my heart."
In my heart of heart, I know he is telling the truth. But what do I really know about him? And to think that this is the truth is almost as astonishing as it is real.
"So you are saying that you really are Beyazlamak? And are here to try and cure Lily?"
"Yes. That is exactly what I am saying. Beyazlamak is not a name, it is a title. But it is more my name than Draco Malfoy ever was so I would appreciate it if you would call me Beyazlamak."
In the end, the shrewd Auror mind wins over the desperate father which is a surprise even to me. It could be that this all is a deception. It could be that he has some larger scheme. Some terrible plan. I am not only a father am I? I also have a civil and professional responsibility and for all I know he might be an imposter. A double bluff. An imposter pretending to be Malfoy pretending to be the monk healer.
Merlin, and he has involved my son.
"Tell me something only Draco Malfoy would know."
A pale perfect naturally arched eyebrow goes up and a smirk starts appearing on that mouth for the first time, and that alone is an answer enough that this is the real Draco Malfoy. Right now I must be looking like the most incompetent Auror in the history of Aurors.
Forgetting to confiscate his wand. Bringing him to a top-secret safe house, and only now asking him to prove his identity. What is wrong with me? It is as if my mind has gone to sleep and I am working on auto-pilot. Must be the shock.
"Though, due to my father I always had to support Tutshell Tornadoes, I was genuinely always a fan of Falmouth Falcons, but couldn't express it because they happened to be a favorite of yours as well."
I wonder for a second why of all the things he could have chosen to prove his identity, it was this. More stupidity! What is wrong with me? Has his beauty rendered me am idiot? I have seen much more and have been effected so much less.
I realize that there are not many things that only Draco Malfoy would know and I would know too.
Except perhaps things that I came to know about him when I was following him in the sixth year, suspecting him to be a death-eater, which turned out to be the truth.
Or about that night on top of the astrology tower when Dumbledore died.
A flash of memory lights up my mind and I can almost see Hermione stalking up to Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle, wand drawn, fury radiating from her. Malfoy whimpering in desperation and fear and then moments later after Ron and I had stopped her from doing something she would regret later, the satisfying crunch of a punch straight in the pointy face. Malfoy doubling over face and hands covered in gushing blood and scrambling for the end of his white uniform shirt under which he was wearing..
A silver blue shirt…
"Ah! I knew it! I knew that was a Falcon shirt that I saw when you tried to stop your nose bleeding when…."
"Granger punched me in the face… yes… Because of that horrible beast. I mean did I not get hurt enough because of that animal already? It was after me from the beginning."
Yes. This is Draco Malfoy alright if he thinks he was the victim in the whole Buckbeak debacle.
But still, a question is forming in my mind.
"What was the curse you used on me on the Hogwarts express after you petrified me in the beginning of the sixth year?"
Yes, only Draco would know the answer to that. I had not even told Hermione and Ron about that.
This time it is not a smirk, in fact his face is carefully expressionless.
Though his hand twitches slightly.
My grip on my wand grows tighter.
"I did not curse you Potter, I stomped on your face and smashed your nose." He says plainly. Eyes wary.
That he did, and it bloody hurt.
So it is Draco.
I close my eyes. Confusion, desperation, melancholy, nostalgia and just sheer terror fill me up and for a moment I am internally grasping at my floating mind.
How can I trust him? Why do I want to trust him?
I can't. I can't take the risk. I can't put my whole family at risk just because my instinct is telling me I can trust Draco Malfoy, who I could trust when he was seventeen and a weakling, a scared squirell, but this Draco Malfoy is not that Draco Malfoy at all. He is more composed, very strong, and fearless apparently, also with better skills in magic than myself. Benign the magic may seem that oozes from him, but it is no guarantee that it is not a camouflage. The man has stayed out of sight for twenty years and has appeared out of thin air with a flimsy excuse just when I am at my most vulnerable. As a wizard as a man.
"I know what you are thinking… and I knew before coming here that this precisely would be your reaction. Which is why I came up with a solution to our little trust issue before I even came here."
It is infuriating beyond expression how he is reading my mind, how he is using my desperation against me, how he is gloating. How he knows that even after all possible risks I want to give him a chance for some reason. I hate it that he has reduced me back into a petty teenager who would never back down from an insult and throw back ever worse.
"I don't think anything you can say or do will make me trust you Malfoy. Your father never cared for another's life, and you were always petty enough to hit when one is helpless, petrified. I have never known you to play fair, so nothing you can offer me, can make me trust you…"
It is as if he is changing sizes and colours in front of my very eyes without it being visible and somehow it seems that my words have affected him. Drastically.
The conversation is over. The interrogation is not happening. And though something in me wants to stay and speak to him some more, I know it is better that we part ways now. I have a son to explain things to and to bear angry lashes from and I have a daughter to look down at in a hospital bed and know that when it came to risk and eventuality, I chose safe.
I press the button for the lift and it opens immediately. The doors have hardly slid open fully when I hear him say from behind.
"What if I say that there is something that I can offer you in order to make you trust me?"
He can't. The faded mark on his arm will never let me trust him. Even if I had once allowed his life to be spared despite the mark. If there is one thing I am sure of, it is that everyone with that mark is fully capable of carrying the biggest grudge against me for all eternity.
"What can it possibly be?" I find myself asking without intending to. The door pings and waits opened for me to step inside and walk away from this worse kind of temptation against desperation of keeping my family and home and life together. There is a pause. A pause long enough for the door to ping again and slide to close again. When his voice come again it is a little warped in the sound of sliding steel doors of the lift, but the words are unmistakable.
"What if I offer you an unbreakable vow?"
The words have an echo to them that I can feel down in my soul. My intuition lightens up.
An unbreakable vow.
It is not an offer any wizard makes easily. It is the last resort. It is a dangerous and risky undertaking. One mis-step and the penalty is death. It is dark and forbidden. Not to mention illegal.
But there is nothing less than this that I could settle for.
I turn around to look at him. To see any trace of falsehood on that face.
The paleness and graveness of his face tells me the whole truth. In the end, I am a father and fathers will do anything for their children.