Author's Notes: Chapter Two has been complete for the world but I just didn't have time to upload this. Here it is though, for your reading pleasure. Again, there is an OC in this. She's basically a Michell-like character and there is a story involving her and Harry but it isn't romantic. Also, Draco might be a little OOC. I'm sorry, just tell me where and I'll keep an eye on it in the future.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Kings or Harry Potter. Though this idea is mine.
A line of royal guards, dressed in their military uniform lined the hallway and the excited chatter of thousands of people leaked through the closed doors. Excitement was in the air, it was infectious. Everyone was talking about Harry Potter and the speech that the king would make in just a few short minutes. The royal family looked poised and perfect waiting though there was no sign of the king nor his advisor. Draco resisted the urge to lean against the columns: his father enjoyed making people wait and making an entrance. Harry looked just as uncomfortable as he felt, playing with the buttons on his jacket and shifting from one foot to the other. Nat, as usual was watching everything, she could have been a living statue were it not for the subtle shift in her body every few minutes, probably to keep it from falling asleep.
"He's on his way," Narcissa said in her quiet tone to everyone gathered. She looked beautiful in a gold dress and black cardigan. Her blonde curls had been pinned back in a sophisticated up-do. She could have been a model in a magazine if not for her eyes, which were black as night and devoid of any warmth. Everyone straightened up at once, hearing the click of the king's walking stick against the ground as he came down the hallway, Severus as always, behind him.
"Lucius, the black suit again?" Narcissa tutted though there was a slight smile on her face.
"I felt it was appropriate for the occasion." He answered as Hermione hurried to clip a microphone onto his jacket. She pulled out a lint brush, carefully brushing off his shoulders. It was her job, as a Public Relations Agent and Assistant to make sure the entire family and anyone representing the family never looked less than perfect.
"I have your speech, sir." She said, holding out a handful of papers. Lucius waved it away, "I've written my own."
"Sir, you didn't tell me about writing your own speech." Hermione stammered, momentarily shocked.
"Ms. Granger, I believe I can handle one press conference. Now, let's not keep the people waiting any longer. Draco, straighten up. Mr. Potter, if you'll follow me." Lucius smiled as he stepped through the lines of guards and onto the balcony. Everyone else followed dutifully behind, Narcissa reassuring Hermione that everything would be fine. The girl tended to panic when things weren't planned ahead. Spontaneity made her nervous.
The crowd was deafening as Lucius stepped up to the podium, Narcissa, Draco and Nat on his left side while Harry, Hermione and Severus stood on his right. The king held up a hand for silence and the people obediently hushed though lights flashed, capturing pictures of the king.
"Today is a day of reckoning. A day that will never be forgotten. We are finally free, for too long Lord Voldemort has oppressed and stalked this kingdom, destroying the lives of the people. We have sacrificed time, money and our very lives to try to keep him at bay. To save not only ourselves but our children from his evil clutches." Lucius paused, looking at his own family. His hands gripped the wood tightly.
"But no more, the war is nearly over. It is at an end; we will find the remaining Death Eaters and try them for treason and the deaths of innocents. Lord Voldemort is dead, and it was by one of our own. A humble young man who stood up and fought back, dealing the final blow. His name will go down in history, an ordinary man defeating the Dark Lord himself. I want to give Captain Harry Potter, the purple medallion for bravery in the face of adversity. Harry, if you would step forward." Lucius turned to the young man and Hermione gave him a gentle push forward.
On wobbly legs with his heart in his throat, Harry walked up to the king. Lucius pinned the medal to Harry's jackets and placed his hands on his shoulders.
"Thank you for saving not only my kingdom but also my son," Lucius said and he embraced Harry. A thousand photos were snapped as the crowd and the press watched as their king hugged their hero. Lucius stepped back to the podium as Harry stood in shock, as if he couldn't believe what had just happened.
"Now, I'm sure you all have things to get back to, parties and celebrations. But try to remember not only how many lives have been lost to this war but also, how many lives have been saved. It's finally over. The new day has come and we can look to it without fear but with hope." Lucius concluded. There was thundering applause as he stepped down and shook hands with Harry.
Harry was caught up in the whirlwind as a million questions were shouted at him and nearly blind from the flashes from all the cameras. The day felt like it was dragging on; he felt haggard but everyone around him looked at ease in the hustle as if they had done this many times before. He could've hugged Hermione when she announced that the conference was over and that they could rest for a couple of hours before dinner. Harry had been shown to a room where he could get changed and freshen up in.
It was a guest room, nothing special to any of the palace's residents but to Harry it was the three times the size of his room at The Burrow. He had a large queen-sized bed that felt like sleeping on a cloud when he laid down on it. The bed was covered with a maroon comforter and fluffy pillows. It had an adjacent bathroom where Harry took his shower in and a flat screen television on the wall. Surprisingly enough, there was a grand piano that was polished but when Harry's fingers touched the keys he could tell that it hadn't been played in years. His suit had been delivered and was hanging up in the closet waiting for him.
There was a knock on the door and Harry stood up.
"Come in!" He called. The door opened and Hermione walked in, chatting on her handheld device. She hung up as soon as she saw Harry though.
"Not dressed yet?" She asked, clicking her tongue disapprovingly. Harry shrugged sheepishly, "I lost track of time."
"Well that's why I'm here, have you showered yet?" Hermione asked. Harry nodded.
"Well, at least you did that much," Hermione grabbed his suit from the closet and laid it onto the bed. She pulled out his shirt, already pressed and put it beside the tuxedo.
"Put the shirt on, then the pants...we'll see which tie looks better once you've got those on." Hermione ordered.
"I can't get changed with you here," Harry said incredulously.
"Oh, for heaven's sake-fine, I'll be waiting outside. Tell me when you're done." Hermione said in exasperation, leaving the room with a shake of her head. The hero of Slytherin was shy. Best to keep that out of the press, though it was better than him being an exhibitionist.
Harry did as he was told and he opened the door to show Hermione when he was done. Her eyes grew large as she stared at him. He looked handsome in a black tuxedo and a deep red shirt with a gold tie. His hair for once wasn't looking like he had just rolled out of bed but like he had just run his fingers through it. It made him look just put-together enough not to stand out but laid-back enough to appear confident.
"Well?" Harry asked after minutes of her silent gaping. "Is it alright?"
"It's brilliant," Hermione finally said. "Draco has good taste." Harry smiled and gave her a hug, "thanks, Hermione."
"You're welcome," she smiled, hugging him back. "But we should get going, the party doesn't start for another hour but there's another photo op beforehand."
"Another one?" Harry groaned. He hated being photographed.
"I know, it's tedious but it's good for the king's image." Hermione patted his shoulder.
She lead him into another room with chairs and couches. Harry assumed it must be the den; Narcissa was already there outfitted in a two-toned purple dress. The neckline was modest though it did showcase her graceful neck. The back was completely open but not scandalously. Her hair was draped over one shoulder with a silver pin and she had matching diamond earrings. Nat had chosen a floral print dress that was held together by a thick black belt. She left her hair down and was wearing topaz earrings.
The king was dressed entirely in black much like the suit he had worn earlier in the day, though his tie was silver instead of dark green. Still, he made an imposing presence with his diamond walking stick and tailored outfit. They all looked up as Harry and Hermione entered but didn't say anything. There was one person missing.
"Where's Draco?" Hermione voiced his thoughts. Narcissa frowned, "he hasn't arrived yet. Will you go see what's keeping him? It doesn't do for the royal family to arrive late to their own banquet."
"Of course, I'll get Blaise on it." Hermione nodded, backing out of the room and leaving Harry on his own again.
"Had enough of public life yet?" Nat teased as soon as he sat beside her. Harry smiled, "yeah, it's a lot of work just be perfect all the time."
"Though you appear to be fitting in," she said.
"It's all an act," Harry whispered causing her to giggle. The door opened and Draco and Blaise nearly ran in but straightened at the last moment. Draco was flushed and Blaise had his usual smirk on his face but they sobered upon seeing Lucius' glare.
"You're late, really Draco, is that what you want to show the people when you're king? That you can't be bothered to show up on time," Narcissa chided her son. Draco bit back the retort about his father was always late that was on his tongue.
"I'm sorry, mother. It took me longer to get ready than I expected." Draco said, the words rolling out of his mouth as if he had heard this speech before.
"See that it doesn't happen again," she said and Draco nodded.
"What were you doing?" Lucius asked, staring at his son intently with some unidentifiable emotion in his eyes.
"I was getting ready, I apologise for keeping you, Father." Draco said quietly, breaking eye contact. Lucius said nothing just swept out of the room with Narcissa following.
"What's the real reason?" Nat asked, standing up herself. Blaise let a smile break out onto his face, "Draco was having a clothing meltdown."
"I was not!" Draco shot back. Blaise grinned, "whatever you say. Shall we, Lady Natasha?" He said turning to Nat and offering her his arm. She hit him in the shoulder with a roll of her eyes but took hold of the appendage anyway. She turned to her cousin and said, "are you coming, Draco?"
"In a minute," he replied back.
"We'll be sure to save you some wine; god knows we'll need it." Blaise muttered, escorting Nat out of the room. Draco's gaze was again focussed entirely on Harry, making the dark-haired boy nervous and he ran his fingers through his hair. Draco reached and placed his hands on Harry's chest. Harry could feel his heart hammering in his ears as Draco leaned closer.
"Your tie is crooked; didn't anyone ever teach you how to tie one properly?" The prince said softly. Nimble fingers pulled off his tie and redid the knot lingering a few seconds longer. Draco smiled, "well, let's get this over with, so you can get your fifteen minutes of fame and my father his photo op."
"Yeah," Harry said hoarsely, following Draco out of the room.
More photos were taken and Harry was barely aware of someone shoving a wine glass into his hand. He just drank it, already feeling a little better. He was introduced to thousands of people, important figures to the kingdom and some of the press. Hermione helped him steer clear of anyone too annoying, though and said that the excitement would die down around dinner. He spotted Draco chatting up a pretty dark-haired girl in a forest green dress. Blaise always at his side with two girls of his own. Nat seemed to disappear in the crowd; Narcissa had been parading her after what Harry could only think of as 'suitors.' The Queen was playing matchmaker.
A hand wrapped around his bicep, startling Harry so that he almost spilled his drink.
"I'm sorry," Nat said. Harry shook his head, "it's alright. Did you need something?"
"Fresh air, let's go out onto the terrace." Nat said. Harry agreed and they walked out onto the porch, fresh night air hitting them in the face and playing with the ends of their clothes and hair.
The gardens were the pride and joy of the palace. The grass was fresh green and manicured, the rose bushes carried their enchanting scent wherever they were. The fountain was lit up with hundreds of white lights looking like fairies had touched down on the earth. The gentle trickling of water soothed the ache in Harry's head and shoulders from standing for hours. The gardens boasted lilies, tulips, bluebells and every type of flower and tree. There were stone benches and steps with vines crawling up the sides. Harry had never seen such a beautiful sight in his life.
"I love coming out here, it's a nice escape." Nat said, leaning against the railing.
"It's beautiful," Harry agreed.
"I've wanted to meet you my entire life, Harry." Nat admitted. Harry looked at her sharply, "what are you talking about?"
"I'm sorry, I don't mean to-" Nat stopped and reached into her purse and pulling out a piece of paper. "This will help explain."
"Nat, I'm flattered but-" Harry held up his hands as if keeping her away. Nat handed the paper to Harry wordlessly, it was the pleading but hopeful expression in her brown eyes that caused Harry to accept the letter and open it.
He just hoped it wasn't another love letter. He had enough of those.
Harry was surprised to find his name scrawled in long, cramped writing as if the person had written it in a hurry. He ripped open the letter and unfolded it, feeling his heart twinge painfully as he recognised the writing.
I'm afraid I don't have enough time to go into everything I want to say to you. I'm not even sure you'll remember me; you were about five when I last saw you. I hope all is well and that the Weasleys are treating you right. I have no doubt that they are. Here's to your good health. I wanted to give this letter to you myself, wanted to be able to see you for one last time but I'm afraid that just isn't possible.
Instead I hope that Nat finds you and gives this to you. I'm sorry, Harry but I'm sure you've read the papers. They're calling me a murderer, said I killed your parents and Peter Pettigrew, the rat. But I swear that I didn't, Harry. Peter betrayed your parents, he led Voldemort to them and he murdered them in cold blood. I thank God every night that you were at the Weasleys that night or I don't know what would have happened to you.
I'm going into hiding, I'm trying to clear my name and stop Peter and Voldemort. Your dad would have been so proud of you; I know you're still young but I know you'll do great things. I'm so proud of you, Harry. Just know that I'm sorry I couldn't be there to watch you grow up. I love you so much, Harry. Stay safe and I hope that one day I'll be able to say that face to face.
P.S. Look after Nat. Please.
"He really wanted to give it to you himself but he went into exile and then hiding." Nat stammered, twisting her fingers together. "He thought you wouldn't remember him, he just wanted to let you know that you still had someone out there."
"Sirius, how could I forget?" Harry said, tracing his fingers over the letters of his godfather's name.
"I'm sorry." Nat said softly.
Harry's head snapped up, "sorry? For what?"
"I didn't find you sooner, I didn't even realise it was you until that day in the palace. You look just like James, it's remarkable." Nat shook her head.
"How long has he been gone?" Harry asked, tucking the letter away.
"Seven years," Nat admitted, looking down. "I used to get letters from him but there hasn't been any lately. Plus Narcissa screens all the mail that comes to the Royal Family, for all I know he's been sending letters and she's been throwing them out."
"I'm not asking for anything, Harry." Nat shook her head, "I just wanted to give you that letter. You don't need to apologise."
Harry stepped closer and wrapped his arms around her. Nat stood rigid for a second before her arms encircled his waist and she rested her head on his chest.
"You don't have to do this," Nat muttered into his jacket.
"I want to thank you for the letter and we're family. Our parents were best friends," Harry said, "so why can't we be?"
"Because we don't know each other," Nat pointed out.
"So, we'll get to know each other. It's not that hard, I'm Harry and I live with the Weasleys. My best friend's name is Ron, I like chess though I'm not very good and quidditch. What about you?"
"I don't know," Nat shook her head with a laugh. "I like to read, my best friend is a girl called Hannah Abbot, her dad's one of the palace security guards. I also like helping out at the hospital and I intern there as a Healer."
"You're a healer?" Harry said impressed.
"I was born with the gift; apparently my mother had it as well. She was a nurse." Nat nodded, finally releasing Harry.
"See? We know each other already." Harry smiled.
"You're a bit peculiar," Nat shook her head with a grin.
Harry was saved from responding by a chorus of screams coming from inside. Harry and Nat both turned to the French doors and opened them into chaos. People were screaming and running for the nearest exit while four guards tried to escort Narcissa and the rest of the Royal Family. Harry grabbed Nat as they stepped inside.
"Nat!" They turned at the sound of Blaise's shout. "Where have you been?"
"What's going on?" Harry asked as the handsome young man ran up to them.
"Someone let a poisonous snake loose in the middle of the banquet." He said.
"Where's Draco?" Nat asked.
"I don't know but they're evacuating the Royal Family. The king and queen are waiting for you." Blaise shook his head, "we need to go, come on." He grabbed Nat's hand and pulled her towards the guards.
"Harry?" Nat asked, worried as she fought against Blaise.
"I'll be fine; I'm going to find the prince. Go with Blaise." Harry said as he took off, pushing through the crowd. Nat reluctantly followed Blaise and was pushed towards the exit.
Harry had screamed himself hoarse calling out the prince's name. He ran around, trying to spot the aristocratic nose, or any glimpse of Draco but people kept pushing him in a panic and it was getting harder to keep upright. Finally he spotted it, the familiar shock of white-blonde hair on the ground, pressed against the table and along with that revelation came the large slithering body of the snake.
Its body was dark green with a white underbelly. Its body was as thick as Harry's torso and its head was nearly the size of his own. It's forked slid along its mouth as if licking its lips in satisfaction of the palpable fear on Draco's face. The prince's eyes were wide and Harry saw him trembling in fear. The snake slid along his body, wrapping itself around Draco's leg and curling closer to his bared neck.
Ssstop! Harry shouted in his mind, the snake paused in its movements as if cocking its ears to listen more closely. Its tongue pressed against the bulging pulse point on Draco's neck in a painstakingly slow movement. The prince let out a little whimper as he sat frozen in fear.
I sssaid ssstop!
The snake's head swivelled to stare at Harry. Did you ssspeak to me human?
I did. Leave him alone.
You are a Parssseltongue. You have a rare gift indeed.
Who sssent you?
The other one who ssspeaks to sssnakes. He sssaid that the young one mussst die.
Leave him alone.
Would you command me?
No. I don't like to give commandsss.
Then what will you give me if I leave, human?
Protection. Leave and you'll be sssafe.
Sssafe...do you ssswear?
Yesss, I ssswear.
Then I will desssisst.
The snake inclined its head and then crawled up Harry's leg and body to wrap around his arm, licking the shell of his ear before resting on his shoulder. Harry pet the snake's head once then turned to the stares of the entire ballroom. He ignored them all and reached out a hand toward Draco who stared at it dumbstruck.
"Are you alright? He didn't hurt you, did he?" He asked, unsure. Draco shook his head slowly and pulled himself to his shaky feet, staying away from the snake still on Harry's shoulder.
"Harry, did you realise that you could talk to snakes?" Draco asked just as Lucius and Narcissa came over.
"Well, Mr. Potter, it seems you've saved my son's life for a second time. Are you aware that the founder of our country could also speak to snakes?" The king said his grey eyes probing Harry's green ones, making him squirm uncomfortably under their unyielding gaze.
"Yes, sire, I was." Harry nodded.
"Good," Lucius nodded. "Well a debt like that can only be repaid in full, and I owe you two. What would you like, Captain Potter, anything you wish?"
"Sir, the only thing I ask is that I'm able to keep the snake. He was only following orders." Harry said.
"Whose orders, Potter?" A greasy-haired man dressed entirely in black asked.
"I'm not sure, but it has to be another Parseltongue." Harry said. The king nodded, "it is done, Captain Potter. You may keep the snake as my thanks. Ms. Granger will settle everything else, come Draco."
With that final thought, Lucius swept away flanked by his guards and family with Draco hurrying after them. Harry could feel the stares on his back as Hermione ushered him out of the ballroom and up the stairs. The whispers followed him all the way to his room.
So much for blending in.