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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 7:19 am 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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The numbers Potter rattled off, as if they were completely standard, set Draco completely aback. He hadn’t even gotten a chance to glance at the contract, having felt too offended by the implication of the NDA that had met him at first sight.
It wasn’t that Draco wanted to believe in the worst in Potter, but he had very little reason to just trust his words for it. Gingerly, Draco plucked the contract out of the envelope, not wanting to give the NDA too much thought.
The words on the contract confirmed what Potter had just stated, mentioning Draco as an “specialist consultant”, a title that he had a very hard time recognising himself in. He was certain that someone at the ministry would have been able to crack the code as well, in fact, he was shocked that nobody had, so it all seemed like far too much.
“Oh,” he stated, feeling a little bad about having accused Potter of something so blatantly untrue, even if it made good sense for him to have believed so; or at least, so he thought himself.
“That seems very high for something I am certain that one of your curse breakers could have done just as easily.”

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 7:53 am 

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"Please," Harry dismissed without remorse, eyes dipping to one of the envelopes in his hands; this, he opened. "They haven’t, and they’ve had a month to figure it out."
The envelope revealed the collective work carried out by Cursebreakers and Aurors at the Death Eater house at Towthorpe; though composed of well over a hundred pages of parchment, Harry still thought it to be frustratingly thin, mostly describing the process of finding the house.
"Neither could the lads at Counterfeit Defense Spells, or any Healer I saw at St. Mungo’s. Nor the Hit Wizard who offered to help, Merlin knows why."
Harry skimmed over the file as he spoke, reading the same words for the millionth time and once again finding nothing that justified Malfoy’s sudden shyness, nothing that justified even paying for the work that had been executed. In private, Harry knew that a position at the Ministry didn’t always equate to sufficient competence.
He eventually closed the file, the stack of papers sinking into it, returning to the thickness of only the folder itself. Once again, it had revealed nothing new, but this time, Harry felt perfectly at ease.
"I have the files to prove it," he said, eyes finally meeting Malfoy’s. A grin was pulling at his lips, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to share it before Malfoy had signed away his right to talk about it. "Yesterday alone proved that you’re a better investment than any of them. The payrate is standard for a specialist, and I believe it to be well deserved. The DMLE agrees."


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 8:13 am 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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While Draco was certain that Potter was in no way flattering his abilities, nor downplaying what the ministry had actually been able to do on their own, he still couldn’t help but feel that the praise to him was completely unwarranted. He had spent years diving into a topic that was largely left without study, so it made good sense that he would know more about it and have some other spells, having had the luxury of time to completely deep dive into the topic at hand.
“Right,” he stated, eyes not leaving the contract in front of him, finding the situation uncomfortable, yet flattering. He wanted to be able to live up to the tittle that had been giving to him by the ministry, feeling a faint sense of redemption in the contract, even if he knew better than to get his hopes up too high.
He was never going to get a proper part of the wizarding community again, that much he knew, but he hoped that he would be able to experience less animosity directed towards him, and he felt that helping Harry Potter with breaking a curse was the way to go.
“Do I just sign here?” He asked, knowing the answer but also desperate to change the subject away from himself.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 8:51 am 

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Harry straightened his posture slightly at that.
"Yeah," he said, trying not to sound too relieved at Malfoy’s quick acceptance of the terms and conditions of the employment. "And a separate one on the non-disclosure agreement."
Harry understood that maybe that was, in part, because he held the perks of that decision in his hand, but he hadn’t much time or patience for Malfoy to halt his work to mull over whether or not he even wanted to continue. The question eased some of that worry, and it gave him a sense of resolvent, like Malfoy accepted the value Harry had put on his time. It wasn’t much in terms for their relation; it didn’t chance the fact that Harry was forcibly in Malfoy’s way, but at least Harry could rest easy knowing his stay was paid for. "The employment spans for the duration of the Towthorpe dismantling, however long that might be, but you’re free to quit the position with a two weeks’ notice."


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 9:28 am 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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Having been put in a situation that he was fully unprepared for, Draco revelled in being able to do something as simple as reading a contract and signing it. From what he could tell, it was a very generous contract that had been drawn up for him, well paid and with very flexible conditions. There was no doubt in his mind that Potter had to be behind this, having a hard time imagining someone in the DMLE who would think of him this fondly, but he still had a hard time seeing just why Potter would think this highly of him.
Satisfied that there was no hidden terms or conditions in the contract, Draco signed his name, Draco L. Malfoy on the line, his script noticeably more flowey and artistic than his normal handwriting was. He repeated the gesture on the NDA, even if it still sat wrong with him. He didn’t like being made to sign something like this, but he knew that he was going to need to see restricted documents if he wanted to have even a sliver of hope of finding out what had stuck to Potter.
“Alright,” he muttered as he slid the documents, now signed, towards Potter. He had never attended one in his life, but he was left with the feeling of having just attended a job interview and he didn’t care much for the feeling.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 9:50 am 

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The sight of Malfoy signing the contract sent an irrational little thrill down Harry’s spine. Despite the inherent awkwardness between them, today was going above and beyond what he could have expected, finding Malfoy far easier to reason with that he had initially given him credit for. Harry realized that maybe that was another old prejudice he had to correct.
He uncrossed his legs, moving forward in his seat to reach the papers Malfoy was returning to him. The armchair poorly matched the height of the desk and shifting forward had given Harry another few inches in height, much more reminiscent of the distance he would have with someone at work. It allowed for better movement for Harry to retrieve his wand from within his jacket.
Harry glanced down at the papers, thoughtlessly confirming that the signatures matched. When they did, he rested the papers on the table top, tapping them with his wand; in response, they refolded and resealed in the same envelope they came in.
"Welcome aboard," Harry smiled, boyish and relieved, eyes lifting to meet Malfoy’s.
Seeming genuinely happy to be able to share their professional findings with Malfoy, Harry offered him the opened file and the two envelopes with the green seal of St. Mungo’s.
"Here’s what I have for you so far," he said, leaning back in the seat, pocketing Malfoy’s contract along with his wand, making a mental note that he had yet to receive the payroll form. "The folder contains everything we have on Towthorpe as of now. St. Mungo’s has sent over their summarized findings from the 7 Aurors hospitalized during the dismantling, the full journal entry from my hospitalization, and the rapport from my observation Tuesday. The Ministry hasn’t finalized their investigation on my fireplace, but I’ve asked for that, too."


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 11:52 am 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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The way that Potter welcomed him to the job, almost as if he was simply a new recruit for the auror academy and not someone with a long history of working against the DMLE, made Draco’s head spin a little. He knew that it wasn’t a lot, barely a twig and much less a branch for him to gain forgiveness, but he was going to be doing his absolute best to prove himself worthy of the trust that had been given him.
Somehow, Potter had decided that he was to be trusted with very sensitive information and while Draco loathed that this depended on whether or not Potter kept finding him agreeable, he was more than willing to put in the work to prove that Potter hadn’t been wrong.
“That will do just fine for now, thank you,” Draco stated, sliding the folders gingerly towards himself, almost as if he was afraid that they were going to attack or something like that. It had definitely been too easy to get those folders, and Draco found almost sick to his stomach at the prospect of overstepping. He was constantly walking on such a fine line and he just found that it had gotten even finer.
“I only read so fast anyway,” he said, trying to ease some of the tension, but unsure if he managed to do so.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 12:22 pm 

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That made Harry huff a genuine little chuckle, brows quirking as if Draco had made a good point. Added up, Harry must have handed over 200 pages of everything from warrants to forms detailing which items had been seized to medical examinations of multiple people.
"That’s fine," Harry assured; getting the files was a relatively easy and quick process compared to understanding them. "It’s a lot of bureaucracy to read through."
Harry had offered the addition as if to manage Malfoy’s expectations, but saying it out loud, he realized Malfoy might precisely find that either interesting or valuable.
"Make sure you keep track of your own hours, but otherwise take the time you need," Harry continued, tipping his head to look around the room for a clock; he found one behind him to his left. Harry wasn’t considerably hung up on whether or not Malfoy was terribly accurate on the time he spent working, but it was good to know he would be able to vouch for the fact that, at the bare minimum, there had been a clock to turn to.
"Lunch hour is paid, too," he added, when he realized the clock had passed one pm.
Harry’s attention returned to Malfoy and lingered there for a moment as he considered if there was anything else.
"I was wondering," Harry did say, his tone entirely different, a guest in Malfoy’s home and not a representative for his employer. "Do you mind if I sit somewhere else than in the kitchen? I was supposed to get back to the office tomorrow, and I have warned that I’m not coming in, but I expect that I’ll just get my work redirected here and there's no desk in my room."
Harry made a face, not sure if the distinction mattered, but they hadn’t talked about whether or not the his coworkers knew to send his work assignments to the Manor, and Harry preferred to be clear with the process. "Redirected home and then here."


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 12:34 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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While it made perfectly good sense that Potter would have to get back to work as well, it wasn’t something that Draco had even considered for a moment. He had been too caught up in his own work that it had been difficult to view Potter as much else but a subject, but he also realised that it was probably better if Potter had something to do while he was staying at the manor.
“Of course,” Draco stated, clearly a bit frazzled and ignoring any mention of lunch. He wasn’t going to give his hours too much thought, nor how much the DMLE apparently was prepared to pay him for it, so it was easier to just accommodate Potter’s other request.
He knew that there were several rooms in the manor that Potter would be able to use, but Draco was also considering just setting Potter up in his study together with him.
It would be a little intimate to share an office space like that, but Draco also realised that it would make much more sense. That way, Potter would be able to keep working and Draco wouldn’t have to go through the entire manor in case he needed him for something.
It was something he decided to give some thought, not keen on making a decision just yet.
“We will find space to accommodate you,” he stated, unnecessarily formal, but he was finding it hard to figure out exactly which tone to take with Potter.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 2:58 pm 

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While it hadn’t been much to ask for – in the vast expanse of the Manor, Harry felt certain there was a desk to spare – the willingness of Malfoy’s answer still left Harry with a feeling of pleasant surprise. There was something about the growing sense of consideration between them, however awkward it might feel in the moment. This morning Harry hadn’t asked for space, feeling like he hardly had any claim to it. This felt different.
"Brilliant," Harry said, genuinely appreciative, a smile easily on his lips.
He once again shifted, hands on the armrests.
"I’ll get out of your hair, then," he stated as he pulled himself out of the deep seat of the chair.
Once on his feet, he thoughtlessly tugged at his jacket, eyes dipping to the papers on Malfoy’s desk. "Let me know when you’ve filled out your Gringotts statements, and I’ll send them off to Admin."


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 3:20 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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_____
It was still fairly early and the manor was eerily quiet. It wasn’t something new to Draco and he almost took comfort in the quiet, liking that he was able to recharge his batteries before having to take Potter into consideration at all.
One of the folders was laid out in front of Draco, only the second of the three that Potter had given him, but he was well on his way through it. Despite his coy comment, Draco was a very fast reader and while a lot of it was unnecessary bureaucracy, he was absolutely fascinated by it all. It was something he would have assumed that he would never be able to get an insight into and it was intoxicating to actually get to read it.
Coote had made sure to make tea for him, but also knew better than to try and offer him breakfast, knowing his master well enough to even attempt.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 3:43 pm 

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Harry had slept spectacularly. Whether it was the mental ease of knowing that he had paid for both dinner and his lodging, or the simple fact that Kreacher late last night had sent over a change of clothes. For the first time sine Monday evening, Harry had slept in his own pajamas instead of the same spell-washed t-shirt.
It was well past 7 before Harry even made it out of his room, finally out of his formal uniform. The ease of the slacks and sweater after a shower seemed to prolong the lull of sleep, no leather or buttons pinching into his skin to perk him up. There were still a few hours before Harry expected any mail to arrive to him, having to bypass Grimmauld, and he looked forward to an uncharacteristically gentle start to a workday.
Surprisingly, he didn’t feel like that was spoiled by the sight of Malfoy at the dinette with what looked like a journal exert.
"Morning," Harry greeted, a smile to his voice. While Harry wouldn’t normally approve of the extremity of Malfoy’s workday, he felt quietly reassured by the apparent interest Malfoy took in the matter.
He approached the table but paused before seating himself.
"Mind if I join you?" he asked, not minding the alternative, perfectly able to see how the table barely contained the files Malfoy were reading through.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 3:58 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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Draco only briefly glanced at Potter as he entered the kitchen, noticing that he had gotten a change of clothes from his house elf. It probably didn’t meant anything, but Draco felt more relaxed with Potter out of the uniform, feeling a lot less like there was an auror watching him, even if Potter probably still had the thought pattern of one.
“Morning,” he replied, reaching for his tea and nodding softly at Potter’s question. It only made sense that they would eat their meals together, no matter how infrequent they were for Draco.
He knew that the manor was even more imposing to people not used to living there, so Draco almost felt like he owed it to Potter to at least make his stay somewhat enjoyable.
“Go right ahead.”

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2021 4:23 pm 

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Harry took a seat when offered but didn’t pull the chair into the table, his side slightly turned towards Malfoy as he stretched his legs. It made Harry’s hands fall at his lap rather than onto the table, if nothing else then out of common courtesy. The angle also better permitted him to make out precisely what Malfoy was reading, even if upside down on the table.
Before Harry could comment on it, another porcelain cup appeared onto the table. A moment after, a pitcher of steamed milk. Harry considered it for a moment, before picking off his glasses and helping himself to a cup.
"What have you gotten to?" Harry asked when he relaxed back into the chair. His voice was pleasant and conversational as if it had been a work of fiction Malfoy was reading, and not Harry’s own medical records. With a delay, a smile appeared over the edge of the cup when he lifted it to his lips. "Is it any good?"


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2021 3:04 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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“It’s enlightening,” Draco stated, figuring that there really wasn’t much else to say about it. It wasn’t a particularly nice read, but Draco definitely felt like he was learning things about the curse, even if the healers clearly hadn’t learnt a lot from their examinations.
It was all about the bigger picture thought and Draco felt that he definitely had the ability to see it clearer than most. Also, Draco had a lot more information than any of the others that had tried to diagnose Potter, so he tried to not be too judgemental about it all.
“You just tell Coote what you want for breakfast, he is listening,” he stated, before emptying his cup of tea. He should probably move his reading to his study, should probably take care with the files a little more, but it seemed rude to keep leaving Potter to fend for himself in the manor.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2021 6:06 pm 

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Malfoy responded so offhandedly - if not disinterestedly - to a question Harry had asked it jape that it took Harry a heartbeat to even hear the notion of progress being woven into the answer. It made his expression change, the sheer sense of intrigue easily managing to shake the last lingering lull of sleep.
"Really?" he questioned, but not before Malfoy urged him to eat. It derailed Harry’s train of thought, making him blink; food had suddenly become the last thing on his mind. Enough so that Harry abandoned the cup to his side, instead putting on his glasses back on.
"Yesterday’s was perfect," Harry spoke into the room, suddenly uncapable of thinking beyond the simplest answer to the question. His eyes were once again on Malfoy, mind once again stalling before he added a barely present: "Thanks, Coote."
Harry leaned forward over the lip of the table, eyes dipping to the upside-down script of his medical journal. Once again, he found himself looking for answers he hadn’t been able to find himself; this was entirely different, though, Malfoy’s small little comment hinting at the fact that, maybe, there was something to be found. It had Harry’s mind reeling with interest. "Care to share?"


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2021 11:30 am 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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The interest that Potter was showing the work was surprising to Draco, taken aback by the fact that he wouldn’t just let Draco do all the dirty work and only get interested when there were news. It took a little getting used to, and still Draco wasn’t sure whether or not Potter was genuinely interested, or if he was just interested in getting Draco moving.
“Mostly loose hypothesis,” he stated, not wanting to make it sound like he had it all figured out by now. He still felt that he was in the best position to help Potter figure it all out, but he was no miracle worker and it was an exceedingly hard case to crack.
However, it was irresistible to get to think out loud to someone, not at all something that Draco was used to getting to do.
“I have read through all the journals, and it seems that everybody is experiencing that same symptoms, except for you,” he started, looking briefly up at Potter, before looking down at the papers in front of him again, finding that looking at Potter was too intimate for his liking.
“They don’t deviate by a lot, not enough that a healer has picked up on it anyway,” Draco continued, clearly in his own head about it and trying to think of a logical answer to it all. “But enough to confirm me in my original theory that you are the catalyst.”

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2021 1:32 pm 

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Harry nodded as Malfoy spoke. With the added information from the run-ins with the wards this week, Harry could see sense in his symptoms being different than those of his team; he didn’t think neither he nor Malfoy had any doubt that whatever magic they had encountered, it had latched to Harry exclusively.
It was the mention of the word catalyst that made Harry frown, the first piece of information that made Malfoy’s statement hard to follow; what flashed across Harry’s expression wasn’t doubt but confusion. He shifted in his seat, eyes ducking to the papers in an attempt to trace that phrasing back to St. Mungo’s; in the back of his mind, he felt certain he hadn’t seen that in writing anywhere. But then again, Malfoy seemed to see things beyond what was written ink on paper.
"I wasn’t the first to go in," he said. Despite the challenge of his phrasing, it leaned closer to a question. "Nor did I do anything when the spell struck."
Harry’s eyes returned to Malfoy, wanting to learn even despite the furrows still between his brows. "How does that make me a catalyst?"


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2021 3:02 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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“You triggered the ward,” Draco stated, as if it was the clearest thing in the world, pouring himself another cup of tea with a flick of his wand, which was lying next to the rapports on the table. It was however extremely clear to Draco that the wards were the only things that both Potter’s office, the old house and the manor had in common, so there had to be a connection there.
Draco was absolutely certain that an old place like Towthorpe would have some kind of ward that would seem unnecessary to dismantle at first, but was fickle enough that it would be able to create read damage in case it was triggered. How exactly it got triggered was a whole other question, but there was absolutely no doubt in Draco’s mind that that was what had happened.
“I think that you triggered an old ward, probably something that seemed harmless at first sight,” Draco stated, mindlessly flipping through the pages of the report in front of him, as if flipping the pages was going to give him the rest of the answers.
“I am hoping that the last folder might give him the last insight that I need, but I feel fairly certain that that is what happened,” he stated, finally glancing up at Potter again, finding him to be much closer than he had first anticipated. Draco countered this by leaning back into his chair and taking a sip from his tea, cherishing the distance.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2021 3:42 pm 

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Harry’s brows relaxed in a moment of exasperation, having to put genuine effort into hearing Malfoy’s words at face value, not letting his brain try and make sense of them. A decade working as an Auror had his brain trying to problem solve as it unfolded, but time and again Harry had to come to terms with the fact that none of the explanations he could come up with would be accurate. Attempting to make sense of a subject he only knew peripherally was pointless, but it didn’t stop his mind from trying.
Almost making a caricature of the silence, a plate of two fried eggs and toast appeared onto the table in front of Harry, making him lean away from the table.
"Why did I trigger a ward if I wasn’t the first to enter?" Harry eventually said, rephrasing the same question with a different infliction. Even listening attentively, Harry felt like Malfoy had glossed over that fact.
Having lost his appetite, Harry placed it off to the side; Coote, from somewhere unseen, immediately put it under a cooking grade stasis to keep it warm. Harry didn’t lean back in, though he desperately wanted to, fingers itching to revisit the files. "I know tailored wards exist, obviously, but what about me would be different?"


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