Social Gatherings, Part 2

Author’s note (5/5) – Thank you all for the kind words, but here and onreddit.

Update schedule – I don’t have plans yet, roughly weekly, I hope I’ll be ableto keep at least that up, although it will probably be shorter chapters. Theremay be a pause between arcs, additionally. I’m also learning the interfacehere, so I’ve updated this chapter and the prior to put in some scene breaks.

Update (5/6) - Typo update, and I had some confused writing (I’ll blame lastminute edits). I’ve updated Narcissa’s comment on wine and Draco’s thoughtsstarting with “It’s true.”

Chapter 2 – Social Gatherings, part 2.

The door’s knocker looked so menacing, so convincingly like a Krait poised tostrike, that Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres unconsciously paused beforegrabbing it and pounding the door three times. He turned to the assembledadults.

“It won’t be as bad as the Headmistress thinks,” he said.

Petunia and Michael exchanged worried glances on the doorstep of Malfoy Manor.As Muggles, Harry had told them they wouldn’t normally be able to see MalfoyManor, much less approach it. But the formal invitation in their hands,elegantly lettered and addressed, tamed the wards. Professor McGonagall hadoffered to join them; Harry had declined. Michael thought the house lookedlike the Haunted Mansion - black structures stacked hodge-podge on top of eachother with no right angles between walls, the only rectangle being the maindoor and the only squares being a few windows. Petunia, looking at it, justshuddered.

Michael Evans-Verres smiled nervously. His son had matured over the last year,but his social skills still trailed behind other children.

After a second, Hermione spoke up. “Maybe they didn’t hear. It’s a big house.”

Beside her, Leo Granger harrumphed slightly.

“I’m not sure this is such a good idea,” he said for the fourth time. Hermionekept her mouth shut and shifted her backpack nervously. _Your parents areallowed to worry because you died. _Things hadn’t been awkward when she cameback; her parents were too surprised and grateful. They’d gotten awkwardlater, after a few days. Then they’d noticed her teeth.

Harry reached for the knocker again as the door flew open. Everyone started tosay hello, but only one person finished.

“Honored guests, come in! Come in!” said the small creature standing in frontof them, dressed in what looked like a burlap sack. His large eyes beamed atthe entourage; long ears flopped as he nodded enthusiastically.

Roberta recovered first. “We brought some wine…,” she started to say but thecreature’s eyes, already cartoonish, grew wider and she lost her nerve.

“Brought wine! They dare …” it hissed, then paused with a look of horror“Mustn’t insult guests! Bad Dobby! Bad Dobby!” The elf turned and pounded hisface into the door frame with surprising force.

“What is that?” said Michael Evans-Verres, turning to the children. Hermionewas trying to persuade the elf to stop in slightly frantic tones, when Harryanswered.

“It’s a house elf. We have them at Hogwarts, but I’ve never seen one act likethis.” He ignored a particularly sickening crunch as Dobby’s head reboundedoff the door frame. Harry heard Draco shouting “Dobby! Back to the kitchen!”and the elf disappeared with a whampf right before his head impacted thedoorway. There was a sound of bowls crashing, followed by one bowl ringing asit rolled slowly to a stop.

Draco rushed out, smiling. “I’m sorry. Please, come in.” Draco bowed low.

“Mum, Dad” said Harry. “This is Draco Malfoy. Draco, my parents Michael Evans-Verres and Petunia Verres-Evans.” Michael shook hands with the boy, who stoodslightly taller than Harry, and examined him. Draco had slicked back blondehair a few brushes shy of perfection. He wore simple black robes and aslightly off-center cape, clasped with a silver snake. There were a few specksof dust on his cape, but the boy radiated calmness and poise more than anychild he’d ever met.

Except Hermione Granger, _Michael thought. _Must be a magical thing.

“Are we early, Draco?” asked Petunia, shaking his hand. Michael glanced at hiswatch, 7:01pm.

“It’s my fault” said Draco smoothly. “I didn’t think to tell Harry about it.You’re still on Hogwarts time, aren’t you?”

“Isn’t Hogwarts in the same time zone?” asked Roberta.

Muggles control zones of time? Draco thought to himself, horrified for abrief second before he realized it was just an expression.

“Trains” muttered Michael to Harry, who nodded.

Petunia looked at them and said “What do trains have to do with this?”

Trains, as Michael and Harry knew, led the impetus behind formalizing time.To be sure, ships had led the way, but travel by ship was measured in weeks,not days or hours. Before trains, every village and every town had its mainclock with no coordination between towns required. Only withindustrialization, with the need to precisely coordinate movement of itemsacross vast distances, did people make agreements when noon (or a dinnerparty) should occur.

So it made sense that magicians, who had never industrialized, wouldn’t haveagreed on precise standards for time across multiple locations. No spells said“Start at 11:30,” they all referred to noon, sunset, midnight, and other timeswith specific physical meanings. Actually, thought Harry, they probably dohave agreements, but I’ve never had an exact appointment scheduled outside ofHogwarts.

“Draco, these are my parents the Doctors Leo and Roberta Granger Mum, Dad,This is Draco Malfoy.”

There was swishing of robes down the hallway as a young, smiling woman cameforward. “Draco, do introduce me to your friends and their parents.”

“Of course Mother.” Introductions were made all around. Draco had warnedMother that there would be misunderstandings and to just assume any socialblunder was made in ignorance instead of malice, so he didn’t mention thegifts. But there were limits, so after handshakes were made, and Draco hadaccepted the various bottles of wine, deserts, and flowers and set them in thedining room table, he continued the conversation.

“We were just discussing, Mother, that Muggle time doesn’t work exactly likeour time.” Roberta Granger glanced around the room and let out a soft moan asshe saw a grandfather clock at 6:50.

“Lily never mentioned anything like this” said Petunia.

“Oh yes, Draco said you are Lily’s sister.” Narcissa said, offering seats toeveryone. “I must admit I don’t see the resemblance. You are lovely, like shewas, but in a different way…. Lily reminded me of spring, but you seem morelike a northern summer.” Draco slowly released his breath. Mother would befine. Father had always said Mother possessed a natural social grace; but he’dbeen worried for the first few weeks. Narcissa’s prior awkwardness had beenthe pain of discovering her baby grown and husband dead. Now Draco feltconfident that Mother would ever-so-gently steer the conversation towardscommon ground. She’d already mentioned a mutual acquaintance with Harry’smother although Merlin knew how she’d find anything in common withHermione’s parents.

As Dobby and the other elves brought out the food, Narcissa put the empty winegoblet down. “This is surprisingly good wine, Roberta” And there it is,thought Draco.

“Why, thank you. I don’t have much experience, but the sommelier recommendedit…”

“Do wizards use magic to make wine?” asked Harry. “I know we can’t transfigureit, but is there anything in Herbology about helping grapes grow?”

“Why can’t you Transfigure it?” whispered Leo quietly.

“All Herbology lessons dealt with magical plants, but that could just mean itisn’t taught at schools.” Narcissa said, reflecting on what she knew aboutMuggles. “It wouldn’t be an appropriate subject for children, though.”

“It will change back later after you drink it, Dad” whispered Hermione.

“Well, then in that case,” said Harry’s father, “Muggle wine is probably, onaverage, about as good as Wizard wine. And since there are so many more Mugglewine makers…”

“Dad, wizards could enchant the soil and tightly control the environment, noteven considering…”

Leo blanched “So even simple magic is dangerous?”

“Do many Muggles make wine?” asked Narcissa.

“I don’t think that many do,” said Roberta, “but Hermione says there justaren’t that many wizards and witches.”

“Harry, even if you assume that the average wizard wine is better, the samplespace and standard deviation practically ensures that the best wines will beours.” said Michael.

“Dad,” Hermione whispered, “Transfiguration the most complicated magic. Can wetalk about this later?”

“It’s true,” said Draco, “the Muggle world is surprising. Muggles aren’tlike plays depict them.” His London excursions confirmed that. Did Harry setthis up. Is he investigating mother’s beliefs, to see if she’s … reformed? _Itwould make sense. Mother _had married a prominent Death Eater, after all.

“Ours?” Harry raised an eyebrow. He’d practiced for a year before he couldjust raise one. “You sound like a football fan. It’s not a competition.”Petunia glared at the men in her family, to no avail.

“You can imagine why we worry, Hermione…” Leo said as everyone took theirseats.

Michael, who had shown Harry literature on sports fan psychology, ignored thebarb. “I agree. That’s why I’m pointing out trade opportunities. Both worlds’standards of living could rise dramatically…”

“Of course I’ve thought of that, but we have to ease into it. Remember Dobby?”

“This is a lovely plate of food, Narcissa,” said Petunia warily.

“Yes, Mother, the lamb chop looks delicious.” Draco piped in cheerily as hecut a small piece off, trying to force all the conversations back to a singletopic. Draco didn’t particularly care for lamb, but he’d seen it on menusposted outside high end muggle restaurants, so he’d suggested it instead ofthe Dragon Tartare Father served. All things considered, this is going well.

Wine, Time Zones, amusing differences in etiquette, and other conversationtopics flowed with the wine. Narcissa’s offer to show Malfoy Manor was, ofcourse, politely accepted and so the parents were gone when the house elvesstarted removing the plates and cleaning up.

“Draco, can I ask Dobby some questions?” asked Hermione. A look of horrorcrossed Dobby’s face but he continued picking up dishes, each one disappearingwith a small poof as he grabbed it.

“Of course,” said Draco. “Dobby,” he said firmly. Dobby sighed and turnedaround.

“Dobby would be happy to answer,” he said morosely. He stood waiting.

“Why did you hurt yourself, Dobby?” she asked.

“Dobby must be punished! For insulting guests!” Dobby looked confused.

“Who made that rule?”

“Dobby … Dobby doesn’t know. It’s always been that rule.”

“Hermione, they are house elves” said Draco. “It’s what they do. They enjoyit.” Harry shot Draco a look. “Oh come on, they do. I’ve only ever heardDobby complain about one thing.”

“Dobby never complains, young master! Oooh, bad Dobby!” Dobby rushed towards atable leg. Draco snapped his fingers.

“Dobby, stop.” Draco’s voice was calm. “Tell them your complaint. It’s fine.”

Dobby, eyes downcast, shrank into himself, then flashed an apologetic look toDraco. “Dobby likes Young Master and Mistress. But Old Master, when Mistresswas gone … Old Master …” Dobby sputtered, looked longingly at the table leg,then lowered his voice to a hiss, ”… forbade us …” Dobby sobbed a few breaths,“from cleaning Mistresses Room!”

“It’s ok, Dobby. Things are better. The room is nice and clean now, isn’t it.”

Dobby, sniffing, wiped his noise on his sleeve. “Oh yes, Master!” Draco wavedhis hand back to the table and Dobby, with a quick bow, went back to removingthe silverware.

“There. You see?” said Draco.

Even Harry smiled. “Whoever made them was evil, but …” he shrugged. “They seemhappy.” He turned to Draco, “She was going on about liberating House Elves allsummer.”

Draco smiled. “First Azkaban. Then … Kitchens Everywhere!” Hermione frowned.

“S.P.H.E.W. – The Society for the Protection of House Elf Workers?” said theBoy-Who-Lived and Draco started laughing.

“It’s not funny” she fumed. Draco kept laughing. She shook her head, hairflowing perfectly back and forth “I thought we were here to discuss lessonplans.” Draco’s chuckling slowed. Harry wiped his eye. Hermione reach into herbackpack and pulled eight lengthy scrolls and some loose papers which shepassed to Draco. “These scrolls are my notes.” She glared at Harry. “If youhave anything to add…”

Draco took them carefully, setting some on the clean table to get the rest.“The papers aren’t yours, Harry?” Draco knew Muggles preferred loose paper toscrolls.

“Professor Quirrel’s lesson plan for first years” said Harry quietly. “Theyfound them in his things.” Draco gasped, while Harry continued. “It’s not aspellbook. It’s just notes on what he thought was appropriate for first years,which spells to teach, which lessons to teach after typical mistakes, roughdrafts of speeches. It won’t make sense to anyone who hasn’t had the course,these aren’t notes, more like …. reminders.” And Voldemort practicingthinking like David Monroe pretending to be Quirrell.

“Wow. He had notes for each year?” Harry nodded as Draco glanced through thepapers.

Draco reluctantly set the notes aside. He’d read later, when there were noguests. “I don’t know why you need me for this.” He looked at Harry, but itwas Hermione who spoke up.

“There’s an awful lot of stories going around. Awful rumours. It’s going to beawkward for everyone. I wasn’t around but I know you worked quite hard. AfterI…” Hermione couldn’t make eye contact. “We were all Generals, fair andsquare. You deserve this is much as we do.”

“More,” said Harry.

Draco nodded. “I’ll look at your notes later and send an owl with thoughts.”There was no rush, it was only July. After a pause he asked “Can a Patronusfind someone hidden?”

Hermione shook her head. “I don’t think so.”

Harry continued “That makes sense, otherwise Aurors could always track peopledown.” He paused, “Now that you mention it, I wonder how they find people whowant to be found…” he trailed off, lost in thought. “Typically people tellthem where to look…”

“Who are you looking for?” Hermione asked. Harry was barely paying attention.Draco shrugged.

“Snape.” He paused for a second, but when there was no question he continued.“Harry and I are … reforming Slytherin.” Hermione’s eyes widened.

Harry, eyes still closed, quietly said “He’d approve, but he won’t come back.”

Draco nodded. “This is a bad time. So many of us lost parents. I know most ofthe families, but I don’t know them well. Without Father … there’s going to bea power struggle. Struggles. Not just adults. And I …” he shrugged. “I coulduse the information he has. He’d know who was sympathetic. He’d know when I’dbe wasting my time.”

It’s not fair to say this conversation caused a war to stir inside ofHermione. But it caused a small skirmish. By now she’d recovered and asked“What about Professor Slughorn?”

Draco shook his head. “Outside the school, yes. Inside? He knows less than Ido. By all accounts he’s fairly aloof, except for his favorites. He may knowmore about the families, but he hasn’t even met most of the students.”

Harry opened his eyes. “I’ll try to send a message to Snape. I can take outadvertisements but I don’t think…” he trailed off as the adults camegaloomphing down the stairs. Narcissa was staring at him and said “Oh, Draco…”

and Harry felt the dagger in his head, no fire, pain, just a careful opening_of his thoughts and memories. _My son is my heart … _the dagger pausedbriefly … _Allies? Allies! … _now moving again … I want to see if you canlearn the Patronus Charm …. thoughts flashed quickly as Harry set defensesaround his private life My hand wasn’t working _… Harry realized that hedidn’t need to shield everything, Narcissa wasn’t looking for details aboutHarry, except as they related to Draco … _does the rest of that matter, myson? No, father. …. Dumbledore burned her to death. _As quickly and quietly asit entered, the knife left

“…could you please have Dobby bring desserts? I assume you kids want some aswell” said Narcissa, smiling at them all.

Harry Potter piped up “Yes, please!” sounding like a normal eleven year oldboy for the first time all evening.

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