Title: Turning Back
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco , implied past Draco/Snape
Summary: An illicit Time Turner can cause as much trouble as it solves.
Rating: hard R
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Epilogue compliant? post-war, but technically could be considered Epilogue-compliant
Word Count: 3500
Author's Notes: Happy hd_holidays, almosttherenow! This story was a bit of a stylistic departure for me but proved fun to write, so I hope it hits the spot for you. Thanks to my betas, C and S, for some much-needed advice – you put me back on track. All remaining nonsense is of course my own. Thanks to the mods for their unending patience, and for running another fantastic fest!
The first time I went back for a dead man.
I was young, angry, distraught, confused – there were plenty of excuses – and I did something utterly foolish, in retrospect. It was for family, for youthful love, or perhaps confused lust. That hardly matters now.
We were cousins of a sort and, briefly, lovers. Even blood ties pale against raw need and desperate desire – something I had learned much about during my last years at school. He had been my friend, comforter, and protector. But Severus was family first.
I was sitting, numb, in the Great Hall with the shattered remains of my family, when it slowly dawned on all of us that he had been absent for too long. Mother had last seen him with the Dark Lord, then… nothing.
I was least likely to be missed, so I slipped away to our supply cache, miraculously still intact in the forest. The chain slipped around my head easily, and with a few turns I was there, following silently.
My newfound bravery carried me only so far, and I watched in shock as the snake bit, and then as Potter, Potter, stole his last moments. I stared, frozen, awash in horror and shame. There’s no sugar-coating my reaction - had it been possible to do so earlier without discovery, I would have fled.
Instead I vomited up the remains of the meager bread and cheese the house elves had given us after the battle and stumbled away, humiliated. I hid the Turner away, vowing never to use it again.
Until, of course, I did.
The second time was for my family.
My life was calm for a time – few had the energy or inclination to trouble a failed Death Eater – so Mother and I grew accustomed to silence, and long days spent at home. Father never quite adjusted to the lack of society, and the loss of influence grated upon him quite heavily.
Then mother went missing.
She had gone to visit her sister, and when she hadn’t Flooed home for supper father went berserk. He railed at my Aunt through the fire, despite her protests that my mother had left by Floo at a reasonable hour, ignoring her obvious distress and calling her all manner of unprintable names. When he accused her outright of murdering her sister, Aunt Andromeda finally doused her fire with a jet of water, leaving Father spitting and angry on the hearth.
I crept away before he could turn on me, hiding in my rooms, impotent, until I remembered: the Turner.
A few seconds’ work and it was mid-morning again.
I dashed out of my rooms, and Apparated to my Aunt’s doorstep. She was surprised, of course, but invited me to join them for lunch.
Seeing my mother made me breathe easier, of course, but there was another guest – Potter.
We hadn’t met since the battle – not surprising, as I’d been a virtual recluse for the past two years, nursing my flattened pride and trying to reassemble the remaining pieces my shattered life – but he seemed to have weathered the time even worse than I.
The ill-fitted Junior Auror robes hung off his lanky frame, and his eyes sat dark and heavy behind his glasses, making his nose and cheekbones stand out prominently.
He reminded me of Severus, I realized with a sudden pang of regret – but I pushed such thoughts aside. My mother was in danger -- from Potter? Certainly not; he couldn’t. Why would he bother?
Of course, I had already ruled out Aunt Andromeda, so Potter was the only other option.
I watched him carefully throughout lunch, almost as intently as he watched me. He’d grown taller and filled out a bit, I realized, revising my estimates upward – the robes were simply constructed for Aurors of more simian build. Potter also proved capable of carrying on a conversation, chatting away with Mother and Aunt Andromeda in between making faces at Teddy. The other three tried to bring me into their discussions, with little success – I was preoccupied.
He was being downright civil to Mother and me. When had Potter learned to hide his intentions? I’d catch him out before he did… whatever he’d done to Mother. I met his eyes and stared, challenging him to spill his plans, and he stared right back.
Mother, on the other hand, saw my distraction and our smoldering glares as something completely different. She knew of my preferences (and possibly even of my relationship with Severus, though we’d never spoken of it), and Potter clearly had my undivided attention. Perhaps she thought my isolation would make even Potter attractive, despite our history.
She smirked at me, and quickly manufactured an excuse to venture into the garden with Teddy and her sister. How little she understood my motivation!
I settled into a chair in the study, determined to make awkward small talk with Potter until he finally snapped. Whatever it took to save Mother.
Somehow Potter and I chatted amiably for over two hours. We started with Quidditch, one of the few things I could properly follow from my self-imposed isolation, then the rebuilding of Hogwarts and changes in the Ministry. He talked of work, and of the Weasleys. The eldest was mostly recovered and expecting in spring, the next back to his dragons, another had buried himself in work at the Ministry, the remaining twin flipped between bouts of dark humor and despair, the one from our year was newly married and also a Junior Auror, and the youngest had taken off for Romania to learn dragons from her brother and fiancé. He rattled it off perfunctorily, seeming to care even less than I did, but gave me a sidelong glance at the last.
Potter seemed far more interested in the banalities I tossed his way. The intensity of his regard belied any previously-affected detachment, and I found myself leaning forward, unconsciously mirroring his posture as we prattled on about nothing. I tried to remind myself of the goal: to outlast Potter, to suss out his plans; but my resolve was complicated by my pleasure in the company of this surprisingly handsome young man. I barely noticed as the shadows lengthened, and the women returned to the sitting room.
Mother leaned over and gave me a kiss on the top of the head. "I’ll see you at home, dear."
Before I could move to stop her, she’d stepped into the Floo, crisply announcing "Malfoy Manor!" as she vanished into the green flames. My Aunt left the room, still cooing at Teddy, as I rose, shaking.
I leapt at Potter, shaking his shoulders as I pressed him deeper into the chair.
"What have you done with her?"
He stared at me, confusion scrawled across his face, until I dropped him and turned away.
"She didn’t make it home," I muttered, my voice as hollow as I felt.
It wasn’t him – I’d stake my life on it. Nobody looks that innocent. I dangled the Time Turner against my leg and stared into the fireplace.
"I came back to see what happened to her, but she’s gone."
A warm dry hand closed over mine, folding the turner into my palm. I turned to meet Potter’s determined, serious gaze.
"I’ll help you find her."
The third time I went back for Potter.
I followed as he dropped the Floo powder sample off with Weasley at the Aurors’ for inspection, and to Granger’s administrative offices for a Floo trace.
We’d checked first, of course. Father was equally livid this time, and the conversation played out exactly as before. It was strange, hearing it from the other side. I hung back, feeling a vicious sense of relief when Andromeda finally doused the Firecall.
The Floo powder proved unadulterated, but the network was another story.
Granger found a series of temporary reroutings, most from cheap apartments near Nocturne Alley, some from mid- to upscale residences like our own. A bit of cross-referencing showed one thing in common: all the residences harbored former Death Eaters.
Granger was shocked at my mother’s abduction. The amnesty had received general if grudging approval (most of the worst died with Voldemort), and the wizarding world had been relatively quiet since the war’s end.
Potter gripped the parchment, knuckles white, grimacing as she pointed out the public park firepits that occasionally popped up as alternate Floo targets. I thanked her – Potter was still incapable of speech – and we left with a purpose.
We found Mother on the way out.
Her beautiful blonde hair was colored a dingy brown, and she was cheerfully mopping the floor outside the basement men’s loo, dressed in old ratty janitorial staff robes.
She stared blankly when I called to her, brow wrinkling in confusion. Only Potter’s hold on my arm kept me from rushing to her side.
"She’s been Obliviated," he whispered. "You’ll only confuse her further. Let me do this."
I could barely move as he gently questioned her (she knew nothing). He made arrangements for a speedy transfer to St. Mungo’s, and contacted my father.
She was alive, and if we could find the person responsible for the spell it should be completely reversible.
It was too late to search further, and I couldn’t face Father while Mother was still Obliviated. We planned an early start the next morning anyway, so Potter installed me in one of the rooms at my Great Aunt’s old house, Grimmauld Place.
Perhaps it was the euphoria from finding Mother so easily, or the familiar comfort of her family’s home; despite my continued worries I fell asleep almost immediately and slept long and deep.
Potter woke me before dawn with a plate of buttered toast and eggs, wearing nothing but a pair of threadbare pyjama pants. It was a pleasant surprise, to say the least, and as I sat up to eat (carefully arranging the covers, as I’d neglected to borrow pyjamas and my morning arousal would have been clear - the joys of being a healthy 19-year-old ) he shyly offered me my old Hawthorne wand.
I’d frankly given up ever seeing it again – the replacement wasn’t nearly as good, as I could hardly go back to Ollivander’s – and it was all I could do not to blow him then and there.
I suppose Potter wouldn’t understand fellatio as a token of gratitude anyway, so I took the wand and my breakfast, thanked him carefully, and settled for ogling his barely-clad arse as he left to dress. The morning was off to a promising start.
We quickly identified the most recently-used fire pit from Granger’s map, but no discernable magical signature remained. The forest was empty that morning, few hikers willing to venture out in the late-autumn chill. I cast a quick replication spell on the map and we split the remaining sites, hoping for some clue to present itself.
I was some distance away when I heard Potter yell. I broke into a run, but was still several clearings away when I heard the new, cold voice yell "Obliviate!" There was a dull thud, followed by silence. I froze, considering my options.
Clearly Potter couldn’t, or didn’t, counter; he’d never been able to manage a non-verbal spell, even when Severus had tried to provoke him into it. Nothing had changed.
My hand closed on the Time Turner I still carried in my pocket. A quarter-turn, and I made it back to the clearing in time to see Potter staring incredulously at a red-haired man.
"You can’t do this, Percy," he said, voice rising.
"Someone has to." The man – a Weasley, obviously – pushed his glasses up a narrow, freckled nose and sighed. "They must pay for what they’ve done. My solution is a relative kindness."
"You have no right!" Potter was so agitated he didn’t see Weasley reach for his wand, but this time I was ready.
My whispered spell was stronger than I’d expected – my old wand fit me so well, and power can multiply under stress – that Weasley’s spiteful Obliviate rebounded. The combined force of the spells flung him to the dirt, where he lay out cold and spread-eagled on the dry grass.
Potter stared at him blankly – had I been too late?
"Potter!" I yelled, running towards him. "Are you still with me?"
He turned, blinked twice, then grabbed me before I could get my wand up and shoved me against the nearest tree. I suddenly found a palm on my arse and a face full of Potter, as he leaned in and began to snog me vigorously. I was so surprised it took me a moment to realize his other hand was occupied shoving my robes aside and undoing my flies.
My moan seemed sufficient to encourage him, and he abandoned my mouth, dropped to his knees, and sucked me off right there in the park.
He had more enthusiasm than skill, but bloody hell - for a 19-year-old boy who’s lived in seclusion for several years, any blowjob that doesn’t result in permanent penile damage can be counted a win.
This? It felt wonderfully, toe-curlingly glorious. I came in ridiculously short order, but was saved from embarrassment when I noticed Potter had already brought himself off. All the danger, I suppose – he’d survived by learning to get off on it. I suppose it was that or piss himself - and I was certainly happy with his choice.
Potter smirked up at me, licking his lips. Clearly he did recognize a good thank-you blow. I gave him a hand up, and we sauntered over to Weasley.
I considered giving him a solid kick, and another for Mother, but instead helped Potter levitate him back to our Apparition point for the Aurors to retrieve.
The last time I went back was for me.
Mother recovered fully, and Potter soon became a fixture at dinners at the Manor. Though Potter never stayed over, it was obvious to all that our relationship was more than platonic, much less antagonistic.
Father disapproved, but tolerated it out of love for my mother. An heir was highest on his list of filial priorities, and despite Potter’s wealth and influence his gender removed that option by default.
Mother, by contrast, adored Potter. He’d apparently done her a service in the war, which coupled with her recent rescue (and his clear devotion to keeping me happy, and thoroughly well-shagged) made him a virtual member of the family in her eyes.
Even Potter’s most virulently Gryffindor friends were starting to warm up to me. Percy’s arrest had shaken them, and Mother’s recent peril made me a sympathetic figure, so I did my best not to stick a foot in it by exercising a bit of judicious self-censorship. I saved my most inappropriate thoughts and commentary to share with Potter later, taking joy in his helpless laughter as we lay in bed, naked and spent.
I was happy for the first time in years; of course something had to change.
"They just told me the application went through," Potter said, scraping the ground nervously with his trainers and completely failing to meet my eyes. "I’m to spend two years on the continent. A year in Stockholm, a year in Berlin."
He looked up sheepishly.
"Will you come with me?"
I stared in shock.
"I’d understand if you don’t want to," he mumbled, staring fixedly down again. "It’s awfully sudden. Your family is here – it’s not fair to ask you to leave for me…"
My mind flashed to images of Potter in Stockholm, surrounded by tall, gorgeous blond men…
"No!" I snapped, and he slumped even further. "No, I want to go. Just let me speak with my parents."
His smile was brilliant but fleeting, shifting into a wry but hopeful grin. "The Portkey’s Monday at 8am, if you decide to come."
I gave him a deep, searing kiss and Apparated home.
Mother was ecstatic, of course - she loved to travel, and assured me of regular visits – but Father was uncharacteristically silent all weekend.
On Sunday night after Mother had gone to bed, he found me in one of the spare rooms, packing my dress clothes. Magic, while perfect for many things, simply ruins silk, so I was putting shirts into the trunk by hand.
"You can’t do this," he said quietly.
I politely ignored him.
"I won’t let you." He summoned my wand, and before I could react, cast locking charms on the windows and doors, leaving me there in shock.
I slept fitfully, tossing and turning in the unfamiliar bed, alternately cursing my father and my own gullibility.
Eight A.M. came and went, as did noon. By mid-afternoon I had mastered my fury and frustration in favor of the obvious plan.
Father returned just before teatime, and seemed pleased to find me sitting serenely in the middle of the bed.
"It was for your own good," he told me. "I knew that, given the chance to consider your actions, you would choose the proper path."
"Thank you for your confidence, Father," I said, staring back at him calmly. "My responsibilities have become clear. What would you have me do?"
"I’ve had a productive conversation with the Greengrass family," he said, smiling down at me. "They’re prepared to offer marriage with their younger daughter."
"Shall we discuss details over tea?" I stood and smoothed the wrinkles from my trousers.
"You needn’t worry," Father answered, smile turning tight. "I’ve already negotiated full details of the alliance. It’s a standard one-heir, five year minimum contract."
"Fine," I agreed hastily. "May I have my wand?"
"One thing first." He held out a small silver ring. "You must seal the contract."
I hesitated a moment too long, but finally took the ring. I recognized the thin silver snake with dull emerald eyes – a particularly nasty family relic, from the days marriage contracts needed to be enforced. Brutally.
Father touched it lightly with his wand, and the snake slithered around my ring finger, showing its fangs. If I violated my spoken vow, the ring would take my life. I tried and failed to control my shaking hands.
"Pledge yourself to Astoria," Father said, clearly enjoying my discomfort. "Now."
My thoughts racing, I held my hand upright, ring facing outwards, and tried my best to speak clearly.
"I pledge myself to Astoria Greengrass from this moment forward." The snake’s eyes flashed, blinding me, and when I could see again the ring had reverted to smooth cold silver. The eyes, however, glowed gently to signify its continued attention.
I swallowed and lowered my hand, testing the ring gently. It was far too tight to remove.
"Very good," Father said, smiling at me. "We will join the Greengrass family for dinner." He turned away. "Your wand is in your rooms."
I waited until he had gone then collected my wand, the Turner, and my shrunken trunk. A few quick turns put me back to the morning, and I immediately checked the ring.
It was loose, and the snake’s eyes had were dull.
I ripped the ring off my finger, threw it to the floor, and incinerated it on the spot. Let the house elves deal with the scorch marks – I had had enough.
Still shaking, I shoved the Turner back into my pocket – it could certainly come in handy. I hastily Apparated to the international Portkey office, and made it indoors just a few minutes before 8 a.m.
Potter looked up at me, and despite my assurances the week before he still looked surprised I had actually come. Any second thoughts I might have had about defying my father vanished when I saw that smile.
I wrapped my arms around him. He looked up at me with a dazzling smile, and I bent to kiss him, entwining our tongues as the Portkey tugged us away, together.
We landed in Stockholm with an uncomfortable lurch, sending us falling to the snow in a flurry of arms and barely-suppressed giggles, my trunk jammed into my side even through the thick layers of my cloak.
Potter’s glasses fogged as he breathed, still staring at me in wonder. I pushed them up and kissed him once again for good measure.
"I hope you don’t miss home," he said, squeezing me tighter.
"I’m with you," I whispered, suddenly breathless, turning my face into his warm chest. "Wherever it is, we are home."