Title: Can't Take the Heat - Part 1.
Pairing(s): Harry/Draco, minor Hannah/Marietta
Summary: Suspicious activity in Newcastle upon Tyne bring Harry and Draco chasing after what or who they don't know, followed by a secretive Hannah Abbott, who doesn't seem to know if she'd rather help or hinder.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Word Count: 15560
Author's Notes: I'll be forever grateful to my two betas who will remain anonymous for the time being.
I also wanted to thank el_em_en_oh_pee. Your request was all kinds of fantastic; I had trouble deciding just what to include, so hopefully this is to your liking. ♥
Harry's desk was full, bulging, overflowing to the floor with papers, and he groaned, sinking into his chair. He had only been gone for lunch break -- half an hour; surely there had to be a mistake. Surely there couldn't be this much work to do. So he'd procrastinated and half the contents on his desk had previously been there, but this -- this was ridiculous.
He rather missed the early days when they hadn't given him work because they were afraid of stressing out the saviour of the wizarding world, as annoying as that had been.
Harry tilted his chair on its hind legs in surprise, looking at the intruder upside-down. He'd know that drawl from anywhere, even if he hadn't spoken to Malfoy since Malfoy had become an Auror.
Well, no, that was a lie. They had spoken once in the past two years, the first day Malfoy had been accepted into the ranks. Harry had accused him of some ulterior motive (which he still believed, by the way), and Malfoy had said he didn't have time to deal with such childish behaviour. That had made Harry rather angry and Malfoy seemed so indifferent to him, simply making him livid so that he spent the whole next two years avoiding or ignoring Malfoy, only giving him glares.
It wasn't fair that Malfoy could just forget about him when he'd spent all their years in Hogwarts trying to make him miserable.
"What is it?" Harry said, trying for indifference, to throw it back in Malfoy's face, but achieving a growl instead.
"This." Malfoy tossed a thick file on top of Harry's desk, causing a wonky stack of papers to cascade onto the floor. The file fell with them, opening and spilling its contents all over the place.
Harry's chair promptly fell back in his haste to snatch the falling file, and his head slammed onto Malfoy's shoe, painfully. Wincing, he scrambled to the mess, attempting to right all the files and not have them mixed up. Malfoy actually had the gall to stand there for the full ten minutes, not saying a word or even smirking -- Harry had checked, repetitively.
By the time Harry had all the papers he thought to have come from Malfoy's file, he took his seat again, glaring at the unresponsive Malfoy, who seemed to be having a jolly old time observing his fingernails.
"This isn't another file for me, is it?" he asked, alarm in his voice. The two of them cast a look at Harry's desk, and Malfoy's face finally moved, amusement colouring it.
"In a way." His face darkened. "They partnered us together."
Harry blinked. Why'd he have to do paperwork with Malfoy?
Harry was walking out of the Auror meeting room three days later, Malfoy and Hannah Abbott at his heels. He still had a headache from all the work he'd had to finish because if he hadn't they weren't going to let him on this case, and there was no way Harry was going to back out, even if he was stuck with Malfoy. Although he'd destroyed the most evil wizard of their time at the age of seventeen, granted with Ron and Hermione's immense help, they wouldn't give him field jobs, preferring to hand over paperwork.
Malfoy was rambling about how he thought it was nothing, just some pathetic Muggles causing trouble and the other Muggles were too useless to fix it themselves. Harry was trying to remember why Hannah Abbott was there.
"What do you think, Potter?" Malfoy suddenly sneered, breaking off mid-rant.
Harry shrugged. "Oh, you know."
"No, I don't know."
Harry shrugged again, looking at Hannah for help, but she was busy staring at a small tree in Neville's office as they passed.
Malfoy snorted, and Harry was momentarily pleased to see he was pulling reactions out of Malfoy. Something besides that apathy.
"Let's get one thing straight," he said, halting and waiting until Harry turned towards him. "We are doing things my way. You just tag along and do as I say."
Malfoy nodded, smirking. "I'm the one who knows what I'm doing. You've never had a field job."
Harry crossed his arms and huffed. "Well, apparently they think I'm up for it now. I -- I bet I'm supposed to keep an eye on your suspicious arse!"
Annoyance flickered across Malfoy's face. He moved closer, fists clenched at his sides. "You're still holding onto that? I've been an Auror for two years now. No one else suspects me of anything. They must not, if they're pairing me with their useless Golden Boy."
"You're a Death Eater!"
"Former," Malfoy corrected. "And I don't have to explain myself to you," he added before Harry could insist upon just that.
Dramatically, he stalked down the hall. Harry glared after him.
"This is going to be eventful," said Hannah before following Malfoy.
Harry glared at her too. She wasn't an Auror but Kingsley had said she had to come with them because she possessed information about the suspicious activity in Newcastle that they were to investigate. Harry couldn't remember if it was said what she knew, and if that was the case, why did she have to tag along? Likewise, if she hadn't told the information, why would they send her with them and not keep her for questioning?
Then again, she had to be better company than Malfoy.
"Oy! Mate!" A voice shouted from a cubicle. Harry paused and backtracked to find Ron playing with a Muggle bouncy ball and staring at him. "What are you doing?"
"Leaving for Newcastle."
Ron just stared blankly at him, the rainbow-coloured ball hitting him in the forehead.
Harry frowned. Apparently he had, with the worry of all the paperwork he had to finish, forgotten to tell Ron about it. Which meant he also forgot to tell Hermione and Ginny. They would flip. "I got assigned to a field case. With Malfoy. Something's going on up in Newcastle, and we're to check it out."
The ball soared through the air on the command of Ron's wand and resumed its bouncing. Ron pouted at it. "Didn't tell me. Hermione'll go psycho on your arse. And then mine."
Harry grinned. "Have fun then. She'll have to wait until I get back, so she'll take it out on you. Probably recruit Ginny to help."
The bouncy ball hit Harry on his cheek while he examined the pictures on Ron's cubicle walls.
"Have fun with Malfoy," Ron said, after Harry handed him the ball. He grabbed Harry's hand along with it and refused to let go, even though Harry tried subtly to pull away. Ron wasn't going to try kissing him good-bye, was he? Harry sure hoped not.
Instead, he released Harry's hand and sent Harry a cheeky look. "Now don't go getting any ideas with him, now, ay."
"Bye, Ron," Harry said forcefully and stalked away, irritated, Ron's chuckles following him to the elevator. Was sex all Ron ever thought of? But Ron had taken it too far, alluding to him and Malfoy having a tumble. Harry might be gay -- and Malfoy because Ron had some rough, lusty shag once with him when trying to scare a prisoner into confessing, or so Ron said; though Harry noticed the two of them never so much as looked at each other -- but he wasn't desperate. Or insane.
Then again, Harry thought bitterly as the elevator descended with paper airplanes fluttering about his head, that's what he got for shagging Ron a year ago as an experiment and then refusing to go into a relationship.
"About time," Malfoy drawled the moment Harry stepped out of the elevator.
Hannah laid eyes on him and promptly started to giggle. Harry hated giggling; Ginny did it all the time and she had a slightly hysterical giggle. Actually, at the moment he hated a lot of things. Spending who knew how long with Malfoy, and an annoying Hannah was not on the top of his 'things I'd like to do' list. And Ron had significantly dampened his spirits. He always felt so guilty for shrugging Ron off and telling him that no, he didn't want a repeat of that night because, gods yes was it good, but not because it was Ron so much as it was a cock.
"You've," Hannah started before bursting out again. Malfoy even cracked a smile. She tried again, "You've a memo tangled in your hair."
That's about the time Harry noticed the sharp pain wasn't a headache but a paper airplane caught in his bird's nest of hair. Hannah walked over and carefully dislodged it. It swiped Harry's face as if in anger before fluttering away. Harry glared at it.
"Well," Malfoy said, his foot-tapping audible over the rumble of voices in the main hall. "Now that you've finished flirting with your boyfriend, could you kindly cease glaring at random objects and people so we can Floo?"
Harry smiled. There was the irritation he had been aiming for all that time. Apparently Malfoy noted it too because he sniffed regally and commanded, "C'mon."
"No!" Hannah panicked, snatching his robe sleeve and fidgeting with wide eyes. "We, erm, can't Floo."
Lips thin, Malfoy asked, "And why ever not?"
Hannah lowered her eyes, and then looked over Malfoy's shoulder to Harry. "People could be checking the network. I mean, we don't know what's going on. Just in case."
And so they found themselves on the next train to Newcastle upon Tyne.
"The compartments are small," Malfoy complained. And a few minutes later, "Even smaller than the Hogwarts Express. And they were small."
"Shut it, Malfoy," Harry said, hoping to share an exasperated glance with Hannah but she was staring out the window, as she had been since she'd taken her seat half an hour ago.
"And what's with that ruddy bloke?" Malfoy asked, waving his hand to the smelly old man curled in the corner of the compartment. Try as they might, they couldn't rouse him to inform him he was in the wrong compartment, and Harry had adamantly refused to shove him out as Malfoy had wanted to do.
Before Malfoy could ramble on about the old man, or find something new to complain about, Harry intervened. "So why's she along?" He nodded towards Hannah, who hunched her shoulders in acknowledgement.
Malfoy held no qualms talking about her when she was right there. "Weren't you listening at the meeting?" Malfoy sniffed, crossing his arms and propping his legs across the aisle to rest on the cushion between Harry's legs. Harry sneered and shoved his feet away, but he only continued to replace them until Harry gave up
"Not really," he admitted, glaring at Malfoy's shiny, black shoes. Suddenly he felt the strong need to sit with his leg not sprawled out; he could feel the annoyance flare up his thighs, but Malfoy's feet rendered that impossible.
Malfoy's right foot made a short circle with the tip, and Harry glanced up at Malfoy's pointed, grinning face. "You do have a penchant for glaring at inanimate objects."
"Perhaps I was glaring at your feet inside your shoes."
Malfoy cocked his head. "Do you have a foot kink?"
Harry spluttered. Hannah even stopped pretending to be a fly on the wall and looked over, eyebrows raised in amusement.
"Because I'm not into that, Potter. Your little Weasel-bee might be, but you wouldn't want to cheat on him, would you?" Malfoy's face was alight with malice.
"I'm trying to talk about work," Harry gritted. He crossed his legs Indian style and placed them on top of Malfoy's legs.
Malfoy huffed and slipped his legs out. "I told you, leave it to me."
"Tell me anyway."
Hannah turned back to the window when Malfoy glanced at her. "All right. She's here because she ran to the Aurors and brought to our attention some suspicious activity up in Newcastle upon Tyne. Mysterious fires, businesses randomly closing and switching ownership, influx of unexplained murder, that type of thing. Shacklebolt thinks she knows more then she lets on, but she didn't give anything away during questioning, so she was given the option of tagging with or staying for intense questioning. Like anyone with some form of a brain, she skipped the intense questioning."
"Like when you and Ron shagged in front of the prisoner?" Harry couldn't help but ask. He mentally scolded himself. He didn't want to talk about what his best mate and schoolyard enemy had got up to.
Silence filled the compartment. Hannah turned her attention back to them and looked even more amused at the sight of Malfoy's gawking. Harry was chagrined that she seemed to not take sides.
A disgusted mutter fell from the corner near the door. "Sick fairy boys." And then the old man stood and swept from the compartment, leaving the scent of rotted fish behind.
A short snippet of laughter fell from Malfoy's lips, but then he was glaring at Harry. "Weasley tell you that? Disgusting. I was high; the bloke we captured had tried to drug us to escape. Never again." He shivered. "I despise freckles."
"I find freckles cute," Hannah piped.
Malfoy frowned at her. "Well, then you're in luck. The Weasleys procreate like there's no tomorrow."
Harry kicked him in defence of two of his best friends. Besides, since the war had ended four years ago, there were less Weasleys than to begin with. Though Bill and Fleur seemed intent on fixing that. Fleur was pregnant with her fourth child already. Ginny liked to joke that Bill found her even more attractive when she was fit to bust with child.
But by the time Harry had thought of something to snipe in return, the time had passed. Hannah was staring out the window in the door this time. Malfoy was switching between twiddling his thumbs in impatience and rereading the file, even though it was only a three hour train ride to Newcastle.
When they arrived at the central covered railroad station it was nearing dusk. Harry stumbled out of the train after them, wincing when its whistle blew for no other reason than to cause him discomfort. He needed a good twelve hours of sleep to make up for his loss over the past three days. Malfoy seemed to find the whole ordeal funny because he kept stealing Harry's luggage and tossing it in the sea of people so Harry had to rush after it.
By the fourth time, Harry was beside himself. "Knock it the bleeding fuck off, would you!"
Malfoy bristled. "Touchy, touchy."
Harry tried to storm past him but the station was too crowded with late arrivals and departures that he ended up bumping against Malfoy the whole time, trying to keep Hannah's blond head in view. She was slipping through the crowd so easily, as if she did this all the time. Then again, he didn't even know her occupation.
"Hey, where's your baggage?" Harry asked, suddenly noticing Malfoy wasn't trying to shove through everyone with a bulging bag.
Malfoy gave him a look that clearly said he found Harry thick. He simply patted his pocket. Harry flushed. Of course, he could have just shrunk it all. The different mentalities of those who grew up with magic and those who hadn't.
They had to be in the main centre because it looked like it, with shopping centres and commercial buildings heaped side by side, sagging against each other yet managing to look important.
"Where are we going?" Malfoy asked when they'd managed to catch up to Hannah, for she seemed to know wherever they were heading. Maybe she worked in Newcastle.
She answered briskly, "I booked us a room at Jurys Inn Hotel. I could only get a triple room though, sorry. As in a double bed and single bed." She grinned over her shoulder, managing to step around a spilt ice cream. "I bet they'll be no troubles with you two sharing."
Harry and Malfoy both swore colourfully at her.
"And who bleeding told you that you could book everything, huh?" Malfoy growled, snatching her forearm and whipping her around.
Hannah's eyes widened and she looked in fear at Malfoy, something dark in her brown eyes. Her gaze dropped to the hand holding hers, and up a bit. Harry remembered that she had lost her mum back in sixth year to Death Eaters and hadn't been back to finish their year.
Malfoy just brought out the bad in everyone, Harry thought bitterly.
After the incident on the tower that night, Malfoy hadn't been heard from, on either end. It wasn't until after the war that Malfoy came out of hiding along with his mum. The Ministry had been so hard up for money because of war funding that they had accepted a large donation from the Malfoys meant as collateral for Draco Malfoy's freedom.
Which was why Harry had never understood why the Auror division kept him on as an Auror. Surely they weren't that hard pressed for employees. He couldn't be that good either, because from what Harry had seen so far Malfoy was the same as back in school. He thought himself above everyone, in charge, and snooty. Though he was more confident because he didn't need bodyguards anymore to function.
"I just thought," Hannah said gingerly, removing Malfoy's hand with nimble fingers, "that it would be easier if I arranged it beforehand." She glanced down the street. "There's a convention for something or 'nother, but if you want to go looking for another room, be my guest."
"All right." Malfoy stalked off.
Hannah shared a glance with Harry, who was frustrated with the both of them. From what he understood, Hannah was nothing more than a tag-along they hoped knew more than she said, and Malfoy was nothing but a spoilt brat who wanted everything his way.
All Harry knew was he was dead tired, so he ignored Hannah and stormed after Malfoy. He stepped between him and some woman he was asking instructions from, not caring how rude he was being. "Forget it, Malfoy. I'm tired, it's getting late, and we're not going to find another room. Just because you want to get your own way... Well, forget it. Let's go to Jurys Inn."
With that, he grabbed the furious man's wrist and pulled him back to Hannah, who led the way straightaway. Malfoy complained the whole time.
"Look, Malfoy," Harry finally compromised, cutting him off mid sentence. He was developing a headache and fingered his temple gently. "How about, for the sake of this job, let's work together -- be friends, so to speak. Then we can figure out what's going on and go back to hating each other. Or ignoring each other. Or whatever the fuck you want. Okay?"
Malfoy glared down at his hand for the longest time. A small cluster of people came up behind them and tried to push their way through the doorway of the hotel, but Malfoy refused to move.
"I told you to let me handle everything," sneered Malfoy, but he snatched Harry's hand roughly, pumped it once, and swept past him to the registration desk.
The bellboy took Harry's bag, giving the other two an odd glance, and led him to their room mere minutes later. Harry tipped him heavily in gratitude, then collapsed on the large bed, inhaling the flowery fabric softener and submitting to sleep instantly.
For the second morning in a row, Harry woke to find himself draped over Malfoy -- dratted double bed. But this morning was different because he could hear the birds singing instead of a steady, heavy rain pounding against the hotel. Plus they had someplace to check out. It was a music venue just down the street that had ten deaths the other day. They had heard it on the accompanying telly in the room. The cause was unknown. From the descriptions they read, it sounded like the killing curse.
"Finally someone is up," Hannah said from her perch on a chair at the window.
Harry slid off Malfoy embarrassingly, but she didn't seem to notice what it looked like. "What time is it?" he croaked, and then cleared his throat.
"Noon." She looked over and grinned, her pink face turning even pinker with excitement. "Are we going to check out the Metro?"
Harry nodded and dug his nails into Malfoy's shoulder, his favourite way to wake him for Malfoy made a screeching sound that caused Harry to laugh.
Sure enough, after the third pinch Malfoy yelped and sat straight up. "Bloody fuck! Leave me alone."
"C'mon," Harry replied cheerily, bounding from the bed before Malfoy could hit him. "We're going to the Metro Radio Arena."
The whole time they readied and ate, Malfoy complained. Harry began to understand he wasn't a morning person, or more likely a just-woke-up person. And that he liked to complain. It drove Harry around the bend. Hannah seemed to take it all in stride and simply ignored him, which made it all the more annoying to Harry.
"Let's get to it then. I'm not waiting around," Malfoy said curtly the moment he placed his napkin down. He pushed the chair back and strode out of the hotel dining room, forcing Harry and Hannah to rush after him or be left behind.
When the three of them reached the door, Malfoy stopped and stared at Hannah in bemusement. "And where do you think you're going?"
"With." She looked at Harry.
Malfoy shook his head. "You're staying here."
Instantly, her whole body tautened and she stood straight, feet pressed beside each other, gaze level with Malfoy. Harry rather admired her at the moment. "I'm supposed to come with. The head Auror had me co--"
"Yes, yes," Malfoy interrupted savagely. "But Shacklebolt isn't here, is he? Why don't you go run along and owl him while Potter and I, the Aurors, not suspicious people, do our job."
He departed. Hannah glowered at his back before looking at Harry.
Feeling guilty, Harry tilted his head away from her and followed Malfoy, trying to decide if he was glad Malfoy referred to him as one of the Aurors or angry because Malfoy was suspicious and would continue to be until he explained himself.
Then again, Harry snorted. Malfoy probably had no explanation that would colour him in light so he'd always be suspicious.
"But you are suspicious," Harry announced once they were past the sidewalk, feet out of time on the worn sidewalk.
Malfoy faced him but continued walking. Harry held his gaze.
"Fine," Malfoy sighed. "You really want to know about me being an Auror?"
Barely breathing, Harry nodded. This had to be some game. Malfoy wouldn't really tell him.
"I'm there to find out all the information I can so I can become the new Dark Lord." Malfoy faced front again, sidestepping a little kid with whipped cream smeared around his lips.
Harry crossed his arms and stopped. But Malfoy kept going so he was forced to run to catch up. "Tell me for real, yeah?"
"That's what you wanted to hear, wasn't it? That I'm out for blood and revenge for my father's death. That there's no way I could want to have a life for myself and maybe, perhaps, get those back who killed my father. They were the Death Eaters, if you skewed up the facts."
Harry frowned at his bitter tone, feeling guilty, oddly. He shouldn't feel guilty. Nevertheless, he found the single two-syllable word clawing up his throat and falling out strained. "Sorry."
"You know what, Potter," snapped Malfoy, moving in front of Harry. "I'm tired of this shite. They don't let just anyone become an Auror, you know." He gave Harry an once-over. "Well, they probably let you in on sight since you're Harry Potter and all. But trust me, they had just as many doubts and suspicions about me as you still do. I went through vigorous questioning and they set tests up for me, tricks, to see if I could be trusted. I passed."
"And, all right, perhaps you are right. I don't want to be an Auror. I don't fancy going around and capturing my old friends, my parents' friends, people I'd grown up with. Decidedly not pleasant. But I still do it because it keeps my name up. After the war it was in shatters, not that you'd understand. Besides, it keeps me in contact with the Ministry. Gives me something to distract me from...other things." Malfoy faltered, face turning pink.
Harry bit his lip. It was almost as if seeing Malfoy in a new light. The wind riffled through his hair; it wasn't slicked back as in school, though the roots looked faintly greasy. It hung down to his cheekbones, the soft breeze blowing it in front of his intense grey eyes.
"Let's...let's go, ay?" Harry smiled tentatively and waited for Malfoy to move. He blinked at Harry for a second, and then headed down the sidewalk, movements jerky, unsure of what had just happened. At least, that's what Harry thought it meant because he felt that way.
When they reached the green Metro Radio Arena, which was much further than 'just down the street,' it was to find the area still roped off, a small group of police and investigators clustered around the door.
"Oy!" Malfoy yelled. Harry jabbed him in the side but he only glared at Harry.
An important looking man in a sharp suit walked over and demanded them to leave the premises or go to the other end where the journalists were waiting.
Malfoy held out a plastic card at an angle that Harry couldn't see, but the man waved them in, giving Malfoy a cursory look. As Malfoy walked up the walkway Harry distinctly caught the man checking out Malfoy's arse. Harry followed his gaze, watching the smoky material clutch his arse with every step.
Harry scrunched his nose and caught up with Malfoy. "Where'd you get the card from?"
"The Ministry gave me it."
Harry pouted. "I didn't get one."
Malfoy grinned at him. "You're my trainee. I'm a private investigator."
"Fantastic," Harry answered dryly. Then, "Did you know that bloke was checking you out?"
"Really?" Malfoy turned, walking backwards. "Ah, he'd hideous. Did you see that nose? Almost as bad as Snape's, but bigger."
"I thought you liked Snape."
Malfoy leaned in close, as if telling a secret, his unique cologne, spicy and sweet, surrounding Harry. He liked the scent. It helped him fall asleep, though it was always duller then because Malfoy showered before slipping under the silken sheets.
"He just gave me what I wanted. Barely had to do a thing in that class. Besides, he knew my father so it was easy to manipulate him."
Harry stared at him for a second, gauging if he was kidding. Malfoy grinned at him and laughed. His laugh was infectious; Harry found himself joining in. He'd seen Malfoy laugh before but it wasn't like this. This was a carefree laugh, the kind bubbled out when around your friends. It was much nicer than his malicious laugh.
And it was odd, because that easy, comfortable feeling lingered through the rest of their investigation. Half way through they had managed to cajole their way into the performance room the murders had happened in. The sharp man with Snape's nose was with them, overseeing their motions.
"Potter," Malfoy whispered, leaning close so his chin was resting on Harry's shoulder. It would have looked like they were a couple to the man. "You can do good magic detection charms, right?"
Harry nodded. He had got good at them during the war when searching for Horcruxes. Hermione must have drilled Ron and him on them for hours and hours until they were able to perform them almost as well as herself.
"Good. I'll distract the Muggle. You cast the charms."
And with that Malfoy sauntered over to the man, a devilish look on his face. Harry watched, entranced, as Malfoy leaned against the wall, making the Muggle turn to appraise him. His lips were moving slowly, the hint of a tongue peeking out to wet his lips every now and then. He even went as far as to touch the bloke's arm.
Harry heard the low rumble of the Muggle, and then they walked out of the room, Malfoy tossing Harry a wink over his shoulder.
The moment the door shut, Harry pulled out his wand and cast the spell. It wasn't until he was in the middle of the stage, groaning in frustration, that he detected something. There was a strong, black mist aligned with the spell right where he was standing. In fact, Harry noted with growing triumph, there were similar spots all over the stage. He counted ten. Clearly they were from some dark magic. The killing curse, Harry bet.
Concentrating, he made ready to cast a magic signature spell when the door openly loudly, Malfoy's forced laughter spilling in as warning. Dejectedly, Harry shoved his wand in his jacket pocket, out of sight.
"Oh, Potter," Malfoy said, feigning surprise and guilt. "Forgot you. Come on." He turned and said something to the Muggle, but Harry didn't catch it as he hopped down from the stage.
"That's where the murders happened, you know," the man said, his gaze slipping right off Harry and onto Malfoy.
"What else do you know?" Malfoy fingers were twiddling with the edge of the bloke's sleeve.
"Oh, you know." He lowered his voice, aiming for dramatic. Harry caught the flicker of annoyance on Malfoy's face. "It was in the middle of a showing -- the Pantylickers. All of a sudden the stage was full of this bright green light. There was some lighting mix-up. But when it faded all the members and some of the people from backstage were lying there, dead. And we can't find anything wrong with them. One girl had cancer, and another a weak heart, but none of that would have caused it."
"Fascinating," Malfoy said, glancing at Harry. "Well, we have to be off. Charming meeting you."
"Hey!" The man fumbled in his multiple pockets, finally extracting a business card. "Here; my number. Give me a call, yes?"
Lips thin, Malfoy nodded. The card fluttered to the bottom of the first trash bin they passed. "Bloody annoying he is. Terrible pick-up lines. 'Do have a map? I'm lost in your eyes.' Honestly."
"No way!" Harry chuckled.
"Yes," Malfoy answered darkly. "So, it was the killing curse, right? What'd you find?"
"Dark magic killed them. The spots were sporadically around. I think it was the killing curse too. But I didn't get the chance to find out the magical signature."
Malfoy frowned at him. "Couldn't have helped anyway. We're not allowed access to the files of everyone's magical signature. Nobody really is; invades privacy. Not many people can cast the spell anyway." He narrowed his eyes. "But of course you'd be able to."
"Do you think it's Hannah?" Harry asked, not wanting Malfoy to revert to his attitude before the trip.
Malfoy shrugged. "Honestly, I don't think she has it in her. Former Hufflepuff, you know. But I definitely think she knows more than she lets on."
Harry didn't reply to that. He felt Malfoy shouldn't categorize people into such groups. Harry had done that, but during the war he had found that not everything was black and white. Gryffindors weren't all saints on the light side and Slytherins evil. Though, granted, most of them were gits.
Either way, he'd keep a vigilant eye on Hannah.
Even the way they were walking while shopping showed the tables had turned. For all the bickering they still partook in, it was no longer Harry against Malfoy with Hannah watching, but Harry and Malfoy against a confused Hannah. Even more so, it showed in their speech.
"Did you read the owl we got this morning?" Malfoy asked as he grabbed the most expensive brand of popcorn on the shelf and tossed it in the cart Harry was pushing.
"About Ernie Macmillian, Anthony Goldstein, and Katie Bell having gone missing? Yeah." Harry tilted his head. "Why, you think it's connected to this? But that happened down south more, not Newcastle."
Malfoy crouched down to read the label of the pretzels. They had been in the snack aisle for the past ten minutes. Apparently Malfoy loved snacks, though his figure gave nothing away. Hannah had long since abandoned them for the freezer aisles, which suited Harry just fine. He didn't like to talk about work with her around, and ever since they had visited the Metro Radio Arena three days previous, Malfoy had taken to talking about their suspicions of her when she was around. He claimed it would make her crack under strain.
"Look at it this way," Malfoy said to box. "Why would Shacklebolt send it to us if he didn't suspect?"
Harry crossed his arms, utterly unconvinced.
Malfoy huffed, stood, and shoved the box into Harry's hands instead of the cart.
"Listen," Malfoy tried, waving his hands softly in explanation. Harry had noticed he liked to talk with his hands. In fact, Harry had started to notice a lot of things about Malfoy. He picked his left thumb when unsure, hummed when brushing his teeth, and snored so faintly that it was impossible to detect unless your ear was millimetres from his mouth. "If it is related to what's going on here, then that means the person may have attended Hogwarts when we were there. If you realised, those people were all there when we were."
Harry had noticed. But he'd also noticed -- "Those people at the Arena were Muggles, not Hogwarts graduates. And all the other people suspected to be connected were Muggles. Random."
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "You're crushing the box. Put it in the cart."
"Why couldn't you?"
"So obviously it makes Abbott a sole suspect. All Hogwarts students missing. Besides, she seems to know all this information. She could have done it and then felt guilty. Her Hufflepuff mind taking over."
Harry didn't mention that before Malfoy said it couldn't have been her. Instead he pointed out, "One person from each house but Slytherin."
Malfoy instantly frowned. "If you're implying--" he started coldly.
Harry interrupted quickly. "No, no, I was just saying. I didn't mean. I know you didn't."
Malfoy sneered, eyes still hard. "Your problem is that you trust too much. Maybe I did do it, and I'm trying to push all the attention on Abbott."
"Then you wouldn't have said that," Harry said confidently.
"Unless I knew you'd react that way."
Suspicion laced Harry's mind. But no, Malfoy was just messing with him.
Malfoy sauntered ahead, finally exiting the snack aisle, and then a tower of soda cases collapsed on him.
Harry yelped, his alarmed voice blending with Malfoy's shout of pain. Abandoning the cart, Harry rushed forward and dropped beside the mess. Malfoy's one leg was sticking out, the rest buried underneath.
"Is he okay?" one of the bystanders asked.
"Get the manager or someone," another person commanded.
A young woman ran off. Harry looked up to see if she was going to a cash register and noticed someone else slinking in an aisle, her face so red he could see it aflame from where he was kneeling. Her blond hair moved from sight, and Harry was left cursing Hannah and tapping Malfoy's leg, trying to get a response.
"Bloody fuck," Malfoy groaned, voice muffled. "Stop hitting me, Potter, and make yourself useful. Get the bleeding boxes off me."
Harry grinned, his stomach righting itself. He blinked in surprise as he pulled the boxes off him, a few people from the gathering crowd pitching in. It wasn't until some man helped Malfoy to his feet and Harry locked eyes with him, that Harry realised he had been worried about Malfoy.
It seemed colossal. But instantly Malfoy was complaining about his bruises and wanting to see a Healer, and Harry forgot it at once, thanking the helpers, shrugging off the manager's offer to drive them to a hospital, and trying to make Malfoy shush.
After seeing the nearest Healer, Malfoy wanted nothing more than to lay in bed, make Harry fetch stuff for him, moan in supposed pain even though the Healer had deemed him right as rain, and curse Hannah. Harry was regretting ever having told Malfoy he suspected Hannah.
Luckily for her though, she didn't return to their room until Malfoy was sound asleep. She paused when she saw Harry was awake, but Harry lay back down and faced the wall.
Harry was tired of playing mediator between Malfoy and Hannah. He just wanted the case to be over so he could return home. Not that there was much at home for him. Well, there was Ron, but he was always hitting on him. There was Hermione, but she randomly lapsed into sourness towards him for supposedly taking Ron from her, even though they had broken apart beforehand because it just wasn't what Hermione had expected it to be. There was Ginny, who still fancied him and couldn't grasp the fact that he was gay.
Though he still loved them all and would rather spend time with them than this irritating lot he was stuck with.
Not to mention he was bored stiff. A reply from Kingsley had arrived the morning after their shopping trip, saying that Hannah was to be present at all their investigations because something might trigger her to divulge more information. Malfoy, in way of protest, refused to leave the building. Harry was stuck keeping them from killing each other; Hannah grew quite fierce when being attacked.
At the moment, Hannah was milling about the room mindlessly, gathering dirty clothes, and Malfoy was in the shower licking his wounds. Hannah had scratched a pretty good cut in his hip, though Malfoy had given her a purple eye. Harry had stopped intervening after the first day. If they wanted to rid the world of each other, who was he to complain? He'd be able to return to London quicker.
"Going to the laundry room," Hannah said. Harry suggested cleaning the clothes with a wand but she just walked out, dragging a huge trash bag full of clothes. It looked like all the clothes.
Harry was reading through the file again, some comedy on the telly, when the shower stopped. A few minutes later Malfoy cursed loudly and stomped out of the loo. "Where is it? Where'd Abbott go?"
"To do laundry," Harry answered, not looking up from the file.
Suddenly the file was ripped from his hand. Harry looked up, glaring, and his mouth turned dry. Malfoy was standing there with his hair pasted to his head, small rivers running down it and over his pale face, neck, chest, stomach, and ending on the towel slung low about his waist.
"Where's your clothes?" Harry croaked, touching his throat and clearing it.
Malfoy narrowed his eyes. "Exactly! The little bitch took them."
"Then get something different," Harry suggested, fiddling with the collar of his shirt.
A strangled growl twisted from Malfoy's pink and wet lips. "No, Potter. It's all gone. I've half a mind to go down there and..." He left he threat hang and shook a fist in the air, the fist that had been holding the towel in place. The knot unwrapped dangerously, but Malfoy grabbed it with the other hand so that one hip hung out, the angry red welt gleaming in the afternoon sun penetrating through the window.
"You should get dressed."
Malfoy nodded. "Then I'm taking your clothes." And then he moved to Harry's dresser and dropped the towel.
Harry choked on absolutely nothing. He couldn't stop staring. That bloke at the Metro with the Snape-like nose sure knew what he had been looking at. Malfoy had the fittest, most scrumptious looking arse Harry had ever seen. All curves and smooth and beautiful.
"Like what you see?" Malfoy joked, smirking, before slipping out the door in hot pursuit of Hannah.
Harry grabbed a pillow and pushed it into his lap, focusing on the telly.