Pairing(s): Harry/Draco implied
Summary: Sometimes, Harry wondered why he went back to Hogwarts.
Total word count: 1901
Original prompt request number: 204
Second prompt at link.
Disclaimer: This story/artwork is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author’s notes: The author mentioned is Thomas Wolfe.
Beta(s): Enslavement Thesis
Some days, Harry wondered why he had gone back to Hogwarts. Sure, once upon a time Hogwarts had felt like home for him. In fact, it was the only home he had ever really known.
So, after defeating Voldemort, thus fulfilling his purpose on life, and finishing his education - which admittedly was more to stop Hermione’s nagging than because of any desire on his own part - he felt unfocused. Adrift.
That was, until Minerva had offered him the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor’s position.
Some teachers, like Remus or Minerva, had told him stories that made teaching seemed like a noble, much needed, and incredible profession. You got the chance to change a student’s life. You, as their mentor, could help determine the course that those youngsters would take during their life.
Of course, as a student, he had not spared much thought about his teachers – and he did have a convenient excuse for that: what with fighting Voldemort and all. Yet, finally, as a teacher, he saw the glaring truth: teaching was a troublesome profession in which half of the time you wanted to strangle your students.
No wonder Snape had always seemed so sour.
Days like these were by far the worst. Harry had just reached the lowest step of the stairs to his office, when he heard the voices of approaching students.
“Don’t worry, the speccy old man won’t know about it,” the first student, no doubt a Slytherin, whispered.
“But isn’t he famous for defeating that Voldemort guy? The books said he's powerful,” asked the second one, also in a whisper.
Harry recognized him as another Slytherin, although his voice was less sure than his friend.
“Well, maybe he was, but it was yesterday’s news. He's old now, after all,” dismissed the first one readily.
Harry didn’t know whether he should sigh or scream in frustration. When he was hunting Horcruxes and fighting Death Eaters, it had never entered his mind that one day there would be an entire generation to whom Voldemort was nothing more than a bogey man, a myth.
The same generation also apparently regarded him as a bumbling old fool, although he was barely forty, and still far from losing his mind.
Apparently when you're fourteen, forty was ancient.
Silently, he sent an apology to Dumbledore.
Unfortunately, the ever-incompetent people at the Ministry didn’t share the same opinion of him as his students; hence his bad mood.
Their misconceptions seemed to reside on the other end of the scale. Instead of a harmless old man, to them he was an incredibly powerful, possibly dangerous wizard.
They had Flooed him earlier, pretending to ask his opinion about one or two trivial problems, in which he had reluctantly responded. His younger self would have believed that they needed his help. His older self, fortunately – or unfortunately – was a little less naive.
They just wanted to keep a leash on him.
Simply because he was teaching DADA and had been doing so for the last twenty-something years, Harry was obviously the next Voldemort in-the-making. And, being the Headmaster, he surely wanted to build a Potter army.
They courted him and kept tabs on his every movement.
In a sense, he believed they were glad that he had chosen to pursue a career at Hogwarts. Despite their misgivings, he couldn’t believe they would be any happier if he had followed his initial aspiration in becoming an Auror.
Still, on the other hand, it also made it harder for them to control him, since he was not directly under their supervision.
So, they visited Hogwarts now and then and Flooed unexpectedly. It was always the same pattern. They would word their questions carefully and skillfully, as if they were interested on his opinions or in the young wizards and witches education at Hogwarts, while at the same time nosing around for proof, or indeed any indication that he had any intentions to follow in Voldemort’s footsteps.
Either that or he was making his own government and obliterating the Ministry. A feat that had become more and more tempting with every visit they had made.
Yeah, Harry Potter often wondered why he had returned to Hogwarts.
After all, you could never really ever go home again, as that Muggle author said.
For a while, he entertained the thought of going back to his office, but then decided against it. The office was far from sanctuary for him. He had never bothered to re-decorate the place since becoming Headmaster, and never had the heart to throw away what bits and pieces both Minerva and Dumbledore had left behind. The room reflected more of its previous occupants’ tastes rather than his own.
Besides, when he put things there, somehow they often ended up broken, like the glass broom-riding figure Mrs. Weasley had given him, or the pottery pieces Ginny had brought back from her Quidditch trip to Africa.
He suspected Peeves had finally succeeded on gaining access to the headmaster’s room. If not, then maybe it was the work of his dear Deputy Headmaster, whose head Harry could swear had some screws loose.
Even the portraits seemed to have no respect for him. They tended to offer him unsolicited advice – and in both Phineas and Snape’s case, critiques – about anything and everything, from his way of handling school business, to his choice of robe that day.
In retrospect, Harry shouldn't have fought the Ministry for the ex-Potion Master’s portrait to be installed in the Headmaster’s office. Dumbledore was an exception, but Harry couldn’t stand that knowing twinkling that his painter had somehow successfully emulated in the portrait’s eyes. It was as if he could see all of Harry’s secrets and read his deepest thoughts all over again.
“It is no use." The drawled voice from his side shouldn’t surprise Harry like it did. "Thinking, I mean. But, well, you're always one for a lost cause, aren’t you?”
Harry had wandered around in his own thoughts for so long that he didn’t realize the students had abandoned the corridor. He should have foreseen that, given how bad his day had shaped up to be so far, the appearance of a mocking Malfoy was a guarantee, much like the dessert following a main course.
“You must be the one who taught them to think of me as an old fool.” The accusation sounded silly once it left his mouth.
Not because it was unjustified or impossible - Harry would put all of his money onto Malfoy being the source - but simply because a Headmaster should not act so petulant.
“I'm hurt! How can you think so little of my Slytherins? Unlike Gryffindor, they can find the truth without me holding their hands.”
Someone, Harry thought, should tell Malfoy that he was an utter failure as a liar, with that smirk of his playing on his lips.
Still, perhaps it was because Malfoy thought that Harry was that stupid he would fall for the lie nonetheless, since Harry had seen how Malfoy dealt with the Ministry’s paranoid workers, and he knew for a fact that Malfoy could do it with straight face.
“No comeback Potter?" Malfoy sneered, "I never thought I would see the day you realized your own limited talent in communication and acknowledged that I am, like always, right.”
Harry gritted his teeth.
He had already had a horrible day, he definitely did not need a Malfoy on top of that, thank you very much. Especially if said Malfoy was hell bent on making it worse.
Why on Earth did he help convince Minerva to accept the git’s application as Potion Master, again? Oh yes, what said git had ungratefully termed as his 'Inner Gryffindor', his tendency to become a hero.
Draco Malfoy had finished his schooling in France, since after the war his name was more shunned than dragon pox.
Harry hadn’t heard about him for years, until one day he was suddenly back in England and standing on Hogwarts’ door step.
He had said that he had missed England, and apparently – to the surprise of no one – nobody in England had wanted to give him a job. He also had waxed a touching tale about how he had always regretted what he had done that night, allowing Death Eater's into the school and all, and how he had wanted to give something to the school to show his remorse.
Harry had often heard people from other houses say that Slytherins were just like the snake symbol of their house, slippery with a forked tongue. That day, he finally saw how much truth that statement had.
An hour after that, he had argued Draco Malfoy’s case with the conviction of the newly converted to Minerva. Two hours later, Hogwarts had gotten a new Potion's professor. The next day, Harry had begun to rue that and questioning his sanity.
How said Malfoy had ended up as Deputy Headmaster though, never ceased to baffle him.
When Neville -- after the birth of his first son -- had retired so he could spend more time with his family, the position had been left empty. Having replaced Minerva at that time, Harry, in his second year as Headmaster, had called for a meeting, and a vote, for Neville’s substitute.
To this day, he heavily suspected that somehow Draco had Imperiused everyone there: for they all had unanimously agreed to place him as the Deputy Headmaster. The only downside to this theory was that nobody had successfully Imperiused that many people at the same time.
His second guess was that Draco had used some kind of potion to bend the will of his victims. He was still hopeful about finding proof for this one.
Yes, Harry Potter had found himself wondering more and more about his reasons to come back to Hogwarts.
Yet, when night came, Harry was always reminded of the reason why Hogwarts was still home, despite everything.
Back at his quarters much later than usual, Harry was commiserating more and more with Snape each day (surely a sign that he had gone crazy). The students should know better than to procure a detention, thus force him to spend many miserable hours supervising them in a cold classroom, rather than reclining on his couch with his half-read Muggle Detective novel.
He forewent changing into his green pajamas -- he had been told that the green complimented his eye shade, and had been near forced into them every night hence -- and chose instead to go straight to the Firewhisky.
After a few large gulps, he started to feel better. Draco always said that he had a plebeian taste, but there was nothing like Firewhisky at the end of a difficult day.
Harry refilled the glass and brought it to the side table near his favorite couch.
Filling a second glass with wine, he placed it beside the first one.
Only after that, did he pick up his book, sit back, and try to restrain himself from looking at the clock every five minutes.
Precisely when the clock struck ten, the alarm he had placed on his fireplace to inform him of an incoming guest chimed.
Then, when he saw the infuriating, annoying, maddening, way too bright, unbelievably natural, precious white blond tumbling out of it, he knew in his heart that yes, despite all the changes and troubles, Hogwarts was his home.