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11 December 2012 @ 11:28 pm
HAPPY H/D HOLIDAYS, AOIFENE!  
Author: eidheann_writes
Recipient: aoifene
Title: Strong and Strange
Pairing(s): implied Harry/Draco
Summary: On Christmas Eve, Draco learns some things about his past.
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Short, ambiguous, lack-of-Harry.
Epilogue compliant? Nope. I mean, in my head, Ron and Hermione are headed off to a happily ever after with full epilogue compliance, it’s what they did in the first several drafts, but that doesn’t come into play here at all.
Word Count: ~1,700
Author's Notes: Oh lordy, where to begin? When I was assigned your prompt, I panicked. Not for anything about the prompt itself, but it’s the final year of hols and suddenly I’m assigned to one of my favorite writers and, yeah, wee bit intimidating.... I hope I got at least the spirit of your requests, even if most of them are more by implication than explicitly stated.

Thank you to the mods for letting me come and play during the final year and especially taradiane for smoothly ignoring the panicked tones of my emails and getting me refocused and back on track. HUGE thanks to vaysh who, with two sentences completely changed the perspective of this and gave me the courage to try it again (and again... and again... and...) from the beginning. And, though this will wipe out any hope of remaining anonymous to her at least (not that I have a great track record of that anyway) to omi_ohmy for cheerleading me through the various drafts, trashings, and angsting about this.

Finally, as always alexa_black is a wonderful beta who manages both the carrot AND the stick when I make so many silly mistakes (and I make the silliest of silly mistakes). I couldn’t do it without you.




.x.x.x.

He collapsed into the overstuffed leather chair and stared into the fire that lit the dim room with a warm glow. His head still felt fuzzy, and the persistent feeling of missing something was gnawing in his brain and at his gut. “Merry Christmas, Draco. Sorry no present this year, have an Obliviate instead.” His voice sounded hoarse and weak even to his own ears. Dropping his head into his hands, he cursed Robards again for being so zealous. He didn’t think he had any first-hand memories of the past nine months that remained untouched by his heavy wandwork.

He blindly reached for the side table, hand closing around the glass of Old Ogden’s he mentally thanked the elves for having at the ready. He took a slow sip, relishing the feeling of sudden sharpness the smoky liquid burned into his muddled head. He finally pulled out the bright red memo from his pocket, unfolding it and reading the now-familiar words of the form.

Draco Malfoy,

Report to my office immediately for final debriefing on Case XX-XXXXXXX. Due to the confidentiality of this case, you and your partner, Harry Potter, are to be Obliviated as per Part XIV, Section VIII of the Auror Code.

This will not reflect poorly upon your record. Your work will be commended in your file and you will be receiving a bonus, in addition to the standard Holiday stipend.

Gawain Robards

Head Auror, DMLE

He refolded the memo with a frown, looking at the paper he’d stuck to the back of it. It simply read “I’m sorry”, but the scrawl was familiar, and Potter was the only person in the department who used that yellow Muggle stickypaper. He knew Potter had been his partner on the case missing from his memory; they somehow managed to work together for almost a year, and had done so well enough to earn a monetary commendation from their miserly department head; he was uncertain which part of that he found most surprising. The note had been stuck to his desk after the meeting with Robards, sometime between the quiet announcement that both Parvati Patil and Seamus Finnegan were not only off the force but were being remanded to Azkaban to await trial, and Draco gathering his things to leave for the Christmas holiday.

He briefly entertained the thought that Potter could resist Memory Charms as well as he could an Imperius, but pushed that aside with a brief chuckle. The expression faded quickly, however, as the question of exactly what the note meant continued to weigh on him. He wondered how they’d managed to work together, if they had been civil, if they had managed to become friends. The note seemed to imply as much. Unsigned, casual, and for all that he could not remember specifics of any time they spent together, the thought of binning the note caused the tight feeling in his gut to twinge even harder as something in his subconscious demanded no no no.

He sighed and drained the glass before approaching the desk under the window at the back of the room. The window was charmed, of course, and currently displayed a traditional winter wonderland scene. He spent a moment watching the twinkling of fairy lights in the grove of large fir trees before waving his wand and cancelling the glamour. The scene in the window shifted, still dark, still full of fir trees, but the sky was overcast and spitting out a miserable mixture of rain and sleet that was about as far as could be imagined from the winter ideal. It suited his mood much better.

Finally turning to the desk itself, he tapped a careful three-two-three rhythm on the top left drawer with his right index finger before bringing the tip of his wand to the keyhole. “Reserio Mysterio” he intoned quietly, removing his wand when the drawer briefly glowed blue. He reached forward slowly, this time with his left hand, and opened the drawer, pulling a thin, leather-bound book from inside. He was one of the best strategists the Auror department had, in part because he had read and paid attention to every miniscule detail of the Auror Code; he knew it better than most. He knew being Obliviated was a risk should any case he was assigned prove embarrassing for the Department or Ministry, so he had taken steps to minimize the damage. The book in his hand was, put simply, a diary. It contained nothing that violated the confidentiality of his cases, he wasn’t dumb enough for that, but detailed other things he might deem important: his days, his thoughts, “Things that might be lost due to an overzealous boss,” he finished aloud with a faint twist of his mouth.

He flipped the book open to the marker, noting the entry was dated the previous evening. He scanned the text quickly, feeling the blood rise into his cheeks before it all fled his face and left him feeling lightheaded. He closed the book again. Why would he be referring to Potter as “Harry” and why would he be spending Christmas Day at Grimmauld Place with him? Leaving the book on the desk, drawer still hanging open, he hurried to the door and yelled, “TIPPY! FIREWHISKY!”

.x.x.x.

He downed the first glass in a single, burning gulp. The second he sipped as he stared between the platter of turkey sandwiches Tippy had brought with the bottle and the diary sitting innocently on his desk. He finally turned away from the food entirely, taking the bottle back to the writing desk and flipping the diary open again. The entry remained the same, though he noticed on a second reading that he had actually agreed to spend Christmas Day with Potter. Harry. Whichever it was. It made no sense. Why would he be invited? Why would he agree?

He took a pull directly from the bottle, afraid to look through the diary and see what sorts of things it may still contain. He glanced again at the fire, and at the dish of Floo Powder on the mantle. He could toss a pinch in, demand Harry--Potter explain this, explain everything. It simply hurt so much, hurt that he wanted that friendship so badly. He wanted the entry to mean something, mean that they were friends, the kind of friends who could spend a holiday together. He needed that, and he’d felt adrift since the end of the war when most of his House had gone their separate ways.

He wasn’t going to acknowledge that he’d always wanted it from Potter.

He looked at the book again, this time turning it back a page. He glanced at the date, Sunday December 18, and began to read.

Harry finally worked up that famous Gryffindor courage and managed to kiss me. It was a pleasant change from the blushing and stuttering he’d been doing until then. Of course, he followed it up by slipping on the ice and falling on his arse. I laughed at him. He laughed, too, Merlin help me.

.x.x.x.

An hour later saw him sprawled on the rug in front of the fire, whisky and diary in hand. The entries were all like that. He still wasn’t entirely certain what was going on, but he knew himself well enough to read between the lines and interpret. He’d always thought Harry attractive on some level; his power, his disregard for authority, his damned famous eyes. He knew Potter was, if not gay, then at least open to relations with either gender, the Prophet made sure of that much. It had simply been nothing he’d spent time thinking about; he knew it would never apply to him.

Except apparently it did. It applied to him very particularly, and then the memory had then been wiped from them both. He laughed at that; his words to himself earlier that evening coming back to him again. He raised the bottle, saluting both the diary on the rug in front of him and the fireplace beyond as he repeated his earlier words to himself. “Merry Christmas, Draco. No present this year, you’ve already received it. But don’t worry, you can have an Obliviate instead.”

He reached into his pocket again, pulling out the memo and stickypaper once more. He knew he was too drunk to Apparate or Floo, but the message was impossible to ignore any longer. He wondered--hoped--Harry really could resist Memory Charms as he’d half-teased himself with earlier. But maybe he’d simply discovered a stash of Draco’s quills in his possession.

He fumbled in the desk for parchment and quill and, after a good deal of thought, attached the piece of stickypaper to it. “What does this mean?” was scrawled underneath it. He frowned at the parchment; his handwriting was atrocious and anyone who knew him as well as Harry likely did after months working together--“And apparently flirting and kissing,” he added in an undertone--would know he was upset. He finally shrugged, added “Harry,” as a salutation and signed it “Draco.”

“Let that say what it will,” he muttered as he rolled and sealed the parchment. He placed it in the outgoing tray on his desk, where it disappeared. Shortly after, he saw the silhouette of one of the Manor’s eagle owls against the slowly clearing sky.

.x.x.x.

The sky had cleared fully, and he had been comfortably lulled asleep by the combination of warmth from the fire at his back and cool from the glass window to his face, when he was shocked by a chime and the color of the room tinting green. He blinked and stiffened when he heard a familiar--beloved--voice over the connection. “Malfoy? Are you there?”

“I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.” - Vladimir Nabokov

 
 
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( 128 kisses — Leave a comment )
emrys_mk: baby harry - destinyemrys_mk on December 12th, 2012 05:18 am (UTC)
Short, but memorable, and so very sad! If there is one spell that has always fascinated me more than any other, it is "Obliviate." The idea of someone wiping my memory of even a single memory is scary, and to think that someone could make a person forget they were once in love ... that is a tragedy. Poor Draco, but so happy Harry has come to the rescue; I think he retained his memories, or, at least I hope so.
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you, dear. I love Obliviate, and Hermione choosing to obliviate her parents is one thing that always always always stood out to me in the books. That, and the questions about memory restoration are what seeded this story for me.
(no subject) - awickedmemory on January 24th, 2013 04:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eidheann_writes on January 24th, 2013 05:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - awickedmemory on January 24th, 2013 05:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eidheann_writes on January 24th, 2013 05:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Dragonfly_lily: Draco-snowdragonfly_lily on December 12th, 2012 05:33 am (UTC)
Short, but sweet. I'm going with the idea that Harry can beat the charm.
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:20 pm (UTC)
I'm glad. :D I love happy endings myself. <3
vampisandi: vampisandivampisandi on December 12th, 2012 07:11 am (UTC)
I'm sure Harry remembers :D
Nice story!
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you <3
Who you set out to be. Isn't always who you become: christmasdrarryxlover on December 12th, 2012 07:20 am (UTC)
Very interesting read. I love the idea of Aurors being Obliviated and you touch upon the dangers of the spell. Really well written, and I'd love to see more. Does Harry remember or do they have to work together (again) to figure out what's happened between them? Wonderful premise, very well executed.
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you <3

The auror thing just seemed to click. You hear about confidentiality with police work in the real world and that sort of thing, what form would it take if you had the power of Obliviate at your disposal? It's the ultimate guarantee.
MelusinaHP: H/D clench from art by Reira21melusinahp on December 12th, 2012 07:28 am (UTC)
Wow. So, so much in so few words. This fic had more emotional impact on me than anything else posted so far. What a horrific, yet beautifully tragic and sadly believable concept. I love how much story you told without spelling very much out at all. And I love the hint of hope in the end.

Beautifully done. xxx
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you. <3 And thank you for the rec. When Omi messaged me and squeed that my fic was posted and had already been recced, I turned all sorts of red colors. It meant a lot to me that this meant something to you, and the fact that you were someone who was friends with my giftee made me sigh in relief. Because, quite frankly, I was terrified turning this in, because it is so short and so ambiguous, and so not my original intent.

Thank you <3
(no subject) - melusinahp on January 15th, 2013 03:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
omi_ohmy: Winter branchesomi_ohmy on December 12th, 2012 08:54 am (UTC)
Oh, well done you! I know how hard you worked on this, how many words you binned along the way: it was worth it. This was fabulous, a wonderful glimpse into a story, and a great glimpse into Draco. It carries real emotional punch and is beautifully written. Obliviate carries such potential, and I think you've hinted at so much here. Well done, you. <3
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you. And for the cheerleading. And all the support. And the letting me angst all over you.

You are marvelous, and when I say I wouldn't have gotten this out without you, I'm so not even stretching the truth a bit. <3
noorphoenixnoor on December 12th, 2012 08:59 am (UTC)
Oh wow. This is amazingly done. I love that its short, I think. Makes it that much more powerful. (Also pretty sure Harry remembers!) Beautiful :)
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you <3 I'm really glad this had an impact, especially because it was so short. :)
Dora: HBC - So?dora_the_nymph on December 12th, 2012 09:30 am (UTC)
I came over here on Melusina's rec and I am so glad I did. This is such a fascinating premise, it is amazing how you managed to get so much into so few words. I love that Draco would keep a diary in case he got obliviated and all the little hints of the case. The spark of hope at the end is just the icing on the cake.
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I've thanked melusina above as well, but it really made me sigh in relief that this seemed to have such an impact. I was terrified turning it in because it was so short and ambiguous and I was terrified it just wouldn't work. Comments like this gave me the ability to take a deep breath and relax a bit. <3
Mab: Emily in thoughtmab on December 12th, 2012 09:49 am (UTC)
This was really stunning. Such a powerful story told in so few words! I loved it!
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much <3
lamerezouille: antisocial #1lamerezouille on December 12th, 2012 10:00 am (UTC)
It's amazing how satisfying this piece can be whilst letting so many questions unanswered. So short yet so powerful. I loved it! ♥ ♥
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad you felt this was satisfying all on it's own. I was very nervous turning this in because of the length and ambiguity, and I'm completely floored by the positive response.

A.xpectopatronads on December 12th, 2012 10:22 am (UTC)
Judging by Harry's ability to follow rules, I'd say he remembers more than he probably is meant to haha. This was wonderful, you told so much in so few words. Well done, MA.
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you. And Harry does seem to be good at sneaking through the cracks of what things *should be* isn't he? :D
Bring forth the tale of dicks: curlewbirdsofshore on December 12th, 2012 10:25 am (UTC)
Wow, mystery author, you gave me the tingles! I loved this, the *fumbles for words* restrained kind of resonance of it. You've created something here in this short fic that's a lot more meaningful than many 20k offerings.
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:33 pm (UTC)
*tingles you back*

I'm glad you liked it, and I'm completely amazed by how universally supportive everyone has been with this odd little piece of a fic.
besamislabios: navidadbesamislabios on December 12th, 2012 11:25 am (UTC)
Oh I loved this! I loved the premise and hopeful ending. Wonferful read. ♥
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much <3
secretsolitaire: xmas jakesecretsolitaire on December 12th, 2012 01:02 pm (UTC)
Wonderfully done! I like the openness of the ending.
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you <3 I was a bit nervous about the openness of the ending, so I'm so very glad it worked.
indyonblueindyonblue on December 12th, 2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this. It's full of emotion that shines through each sentence and I think to be able to encompass a whole relationship in just a few words is truly remarkable.

Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoyed and that it worked. <3
Nenne: Grabby handsnenne on December 12th, 2012 01:49 pm (UTC)
And then what happened? Does Harry remember? Will he believe the diary if not? There must be more!
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:39 pm (UTC)
There is more. :) I like Vaysh's comment; if the emotions are still there, the obliviate doesn't matter. :)
welcome to villa cariño!capitu on December 12th, 2012 02:15 pm (UTC)
You mystery writer, are such a tease!

It was wonderful. OF COURSE I WANT TO KNOW MORE, but of course I can fill the blanks to my heart's content. Lovely work.
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you <3 And I'm sorry for the tease. :) I was very nervous about submitting this, so I'm glad you enjoyed it.
On The Turning Awayotta_ff on December 12th, 2012 02:26 pm (UTC)
Beautifully tragic. I hope more than anything that Harry remembers something but even if he doesn't, perhaps he'd be willing to look over the diary with Draco and piece things together...or start again. Very moving.
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you <3 I wasn't really intending on tragedy, I love happily ever afters. But working together to start again sounds lovely.
fantasyfiend09: Rain Postcard Red Rahlfantasyfiend09 on December 12th, 2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
This is a wonderfully-crafted, poignant piece. I worry that Harry calls him Malfoy if they'd previously been on a first name basis. Yet I am heartened that Harry immediately rushed to see him. My interpretation is that Harry doesn't remember anything, but the feelings are there, pulling him back to Draco's side. So long at the feelings remain, new memories can be made. :)

I'm sorry this story gave you such trouble, but take heart that the result is exquisite.
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you <3

I think Vaysh summed up my feelings best: if emotions are still there, obliviate doesn't really matter. Details are just details, and can be worked through.
(no subject) - fantasyfiend09 on January 18th, 2013 04:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 06:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
altri_uccellialtri_uccelli on December 12th, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
While usually I’m one to clamour for sequels, I thought you did an excellent job making this beautiful and complete in itself, despite the fact that one of the central tensions—’does Harry remember?’—was not explicitly resolved. You made me believe that a happy ending was in store for Draco, which is so resonant at this time of year when beginnings and hope are being celebrated by some.

I’ll just mention one part of this that particularly struck me (though the whole thing was a pleasure to read): Draco cancelling the glamour to turn the view out of his window from a charming wonderland scene to the reality of rain and sleet. To me that captured Draco’s growth as a person, as someone with the fortitude and integrity to see the truth even if it weren’t pleasant. It echoed how much he wanted to know the truth about Harry and what had happened between them. Just a small moment, but a powerful one for me.

There wasn’t a wasted word here; a perfect little jewel of a fic. And the last sentence, with its beloved, followed by the Nabokov quote...fantastic ending.
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much <3 I'm really floored and amazed and full of wonder that this pulled as strong a response from people as it did. I was terrified when I submitted, simply because it had become something so far from my first draft and original intent.

And thank you for leaving such a thoughtful comment, it made the butterflies lingering from turning this in much easier to handle. <3
(no subject) - eidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - altri_uccelli on January 16th, 2013 02:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - eidheann_writes on January 16th, 2013 10:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
Truthful Plum Logical Horsemegyal on December 12th, 2012 07:09 pm (UTC)
Ohhh that was short and mysterious. All kinds of questions popping up in my mind, but the cool details of magic distracted me. I actually flinched a little at the end, just because it did!
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:47 pm (UTC)
Oh dear! No flinching!

I'm glad this worked, I was trying to present a small little snapshot and was terrified that it was going to be all risk and fall completely flat. Thank you <3
rickey_a: accio fandomrickey_a on December 12th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
oooh, intriguing little vignette. It certainly stands on its own, but it's also a bloody tease. :)
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Both were somewhat by intent, I'm just so very pleased that it worked. <3
charlie: kataraignatiustrout on December 13th, 2012 12:01 am (UTC)
I love the idea of this fic; "obliviate" has potential for such fascinating stuff, and I really like the idea of having to obliviate aurors due to the sensitivity of some cases. I tend to like long fics best, but I'm actually really glad this was so short. The length really lent itself to an emotional and intriguing little fic!
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you. The obliviate and aurors thing just seemed to go together; you hear about confidentiality all the time-- how better to guarantee it? I had a horrible time trying to get the bigger story told, so I'm glad the shortness worked for this. <3
icmezzo: pic#114764502icmezzo on December 13th, 2012 02:42 am (UTC)
Wow. Brilliantly executed. This was very well done, powerful in its brevity.

I prefer to think Harry *doesn't* remember. He gets rather lucky with those sorts of things and is supercrazypowerful and such, but I rather like the idea of the two of them having to work for it, starting at the beginning knowing what they could be, and having the chance to reach for it a second time. That falling part of new relationships is so precious; I wouldn't want them to have to go without it.
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm so so so so so glad this worked, and I'm so glad I can finally say THANK YOU for the recs and squees. (It's so HARD talking to you on twitter and having this giant elephant in the room for a month.)
(no subject) - icmezzo on January 15th, 2013 11:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Angst Queen: dracoaoifene on December 13th, 2012 02:47 am (UTC)
Yay! Gift fic all for me! *hugs it* I must say, I owe Mel for reccing this story otherwise it might've taken me days to actually realize that my gift fic was up *facepalm*

I really enjoyed this vignette. It really is kind of the perfect set up to a longer fic (And I seriously don't think I'm the only one who will say that I'd love to see more *g*). You did a wonderful job in laying down the backstory, hinting at a much more complicated and layered plot. There are a lot of things that can happen in 9 months after all! *laughs*

I really liked how the writing in this vignette is so tight. Not a single line is wasted. We were able to see how cunning Draco is, how the bureaucracy of the Auror department still hasn't changed, and even how wonderfully stubborn Harry is (going to see Draco at the sight of his Owl). I also adore that you've given the readers the choice to fill out what happens next. This kind of endings are sort of a personal favourite of mine. I'm already trying to suppress about 5 different plots of how it could have ended! *laughs*

I thoroughly enjoyed this fic! Thank you, mystery writer and happy holidays!
Marianne: defaulteidheann_writes on January 15th, 2013 03:18 pm (UTC)
whew! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wasn't joking when I said in the A/N that I panicked a bit, in part because of who the gift was for, and in part because this felt like such a risk... :)

And yes, I definitely owe you more. I've got a lot of stuff written for this that never actually came together into something cohesive, my idea was just a bit too much for my skill-level at this point. So since I couldn't tell the bigger picture, I worked to try and make the small view as... good as I could get it.

I've loved your fic for years, and I'm glad I could do something that said a bit of a thank you for all the smiles and tears you've given me. *bows*
(no subject) - aoifene on January 17th, 2013 06:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
( 128 kisses — Leave a comment )
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