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in between we've found our way to live
it's so good to be alive in such a wonderful year
4th-Jan-2009 04:06 pm
Author: manikaitwing
Requestor: realmer06
Claim: #81 At some point during the aftermath of the final battle, Harry returns Draco's wand.
Rating: PG, some language

Harry stared at the ceiling of the Great Hall for the third time that morning. If Hermione or Ron thought it was strange of him, they said nothing about it. More than once, he caught his friends looking in odd places when nobody was speaking directly to them.

The reason was simple; if he looked at a table bench, he could still see Colin Creevey’s shoes pointing upwards - the rest of him covered by a blanket. And, though it had been scrubbed and cleaned, the floor between the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw table had Remus and Tonks lying together, staring up sightlessly.

Listlessly, he poked at the eggs on his plate and watched the yolk slowly began to bleed out. Harry knew the imprints of the fallen bodies weren’t going to leave him anytime soon.

He glanced toward the other side of the Hall, scanning for a white-blond head of hair and found it easily at the near-empty Slytherin table. Draco’s eyes were lowered, ignoring his mother who was nudging a plate of toast his way. Lucius stared into the distance beside him, looking exhausted and drawn. Harry was again struck with how similar they looked; father and son.

Ron noticed where he was looking.

“He and his parents are still around, are they?” he said darkly. Harry couldn’t blame him. Not since what had happened with Hermione at the Manor. “I should think they’d have been smart and ducked out while nobody was paying attention.”

“That wouldn’t have been smart, actually,” Hermione said. “It would’ve made them look worse. They must be banking on connections in the Ministry to keep them out of trouble.”

That twinge of pity for Draco that had been in Harry since the end of sixth year had not grown by much, but it hadn’t dwindled either. “What do you think will happen to them?” he couldn’t help but ask.

Ron gave him a strange look, but it was Hermione who spoke up. “If they’re marked, any of them, they’ll likely go to Azkaban. They’ll at least stand trial first,” she assured him, and swallowed her toast. “It won’t happen for a while though, Harry. The ministry is a mess. They’ve got to sort themselves out before anything else.”

“So while that’s happening, everyone who tried to kill us will be hiding or leaving the country!” Ron spat, disgusted. “Hardly seems fair.”

“The Aurors will be conducting arrests of course, but whoever they arrest will have to stay in holding cells until then. And there’s plenty of those - they had to be built to contain muggleborns after all.”

“Ha! Well, that bit them right in the arse, didn’t it?” Ron relaxed a bit, and grinned at Harry.

Harry returned it faintly, glancing again at Draco. The pale boy, like Harry, didn’t seem able to eat. Lucius said something to Narcissa lowly. She stopped waving bits of toast temptingly under her son’s nose and sat back, looking frustrated. Harry could see why; Draco already looked thin.

There was no sign of Goyle anywhere. Perhaps he had left the castle when he and Draco parted ways? Harry didn’t know, and he wasn’t certain who to ask. Other Slytherins were seated at Draco’s table, but Harry didn’t know any of them. All he knew was that they had snuck back into the school to fight.

“Harry, m’boy!” roared a voice, which shook him out of his study. Harry looked at the table, and closed his eyes. Slughorn, of course. He’d only shaken his arm nearly off his shoulder this morning.

Harry didn’t entirely loathe the man, but he thought it rather telling that Slughorn was more interested in being seen with him than in trying to rally the Slytherins that had returned. Whether or not Slughorn had even spoken to them remained to be seen.

A hand clapped him on the back. Go away, Harry told the salt shaker and forced a smile on his face. “Hello, Professor.”

“I was hoping to speak to you when you’re finished with breakfast,” Slughorn said, looking jovial and strained all at once. Harry was instantly suspicious, but he nodded.

“Good lad.”

“Actually,” Harry said, “I’m finished right now, sir.” It was the truth; he had lost his appetite some time ago.

“Excellent! Very well, then, let‘s go somewhere - ah - more secluded.” Slughorn waited for Harry to get up and marched toward the exit of the Great Hall. Harry followed, eager to just get it over with; whatever it was.

When they were in the corridor outside, Slughorn glanced about to make sure they were alone. Then he sighed and looked everywhere else but Harry. “My dear boy, I know you have a million things on your mind and bless you for putting them aside to deal with the worries of an old man. I wish to speak to you of the Elder Wand.”

Harry blinked. Of all the things Slughorn wanted to talk to him about, he hadn’t expected it to be that. The Elder Wand was an issue he’d been expecting to hear about from Headmistress McGonagall, or Kingsley Shacklebolt. “Yes?” he asked warily.

“I’ve heard, as has everyone else by now, that you announced that it had been the Malfoy boy who’d truly won the allegiance of the Elder Wand. And that it was yourself that won his own wand from him.” Horace licked his lips nervously. “You’re a good boy, Harry. A very good boy who thinks of others before himself often - too often. And well, I’m sure you’ve heard about Malfoy‘s plight. What that poor boy has been through . . .”

Harry looked at him blankly.

“The Carrows you see,” Slughorn explained. “Were none to kind to him after your escape over the Easter holidays - nay, even before that they were unkind. Their unspeakable means of punishment for the students . . . Ah, you truly haven’t heard?”

“Ginny and Neville told me,” Harry said darkly. “I’ve heard some of what they did.”

“Good, good. Well, as it happens - not all students were safe from such treatment. Especially if they were held in disfavor of any kind. Not even Slytherins.”

“You’re saying after I escaped, I made things more difficult for Malfoy here?” It would make sense then, why Draco was so determined to be the one to hand Harry over to Voldemort. He wanted to save himself and his family - wanted to make up for being reluctant at the Manor in identifying Harry.

“In a way, m’boy, yes,” Horace went on, sounding a trifle impatient. “But the worst of it he brought on himself. You may or may not have yet heard of an incident during which the Carrows were teaching Unforgivables and practicing them on younger students who‘d broken minor rules. Miss Amelia Hornshaw I believe, in second-year, was to be punished for talking in class. They appointed Draco to demonstrate the Cruciatus.” Here Slughorn trailed off, looking unsure as how to proceed.

“Did he do it?” Harry prompted.

The Potions Master shook his head. “Before he could lift his wand, the girl burst into hysterics. Mr. Malfoy then claimed he was unable to perform the curse.”

Harry, who had pressed his lips into a thin line of anger at the Carrows, felt a tiny stir of admiration for Draco. “Why not?”

“He blamed it on his mother’s wand not working correctly, not giving him full allegiance since it had been given to him and not won, but the Carrows didn’t take that into account. He was punished most grievously - it is rumored that Fiendfyre was used.”

Harry paled. “What? But that would kill him, wouldn‘t it?”

“Not if you have enough control over it. There was said to be some horrid scarring, but I’ve only heard that by rumor. Mind, you’ll hear many more rumors circulating about Malfoy and so it’s best to hear all the facts from me.” Slughorn sighed. “My point is he is not a Gryffindor like you, Harry. His actions toward Miss Hornshaw, while chivalrous, were rather uncharacteristic. I‘m sure you’ll agree with me.”

Harry was stunned. It was very uncharacteristic for Malfoy to stick his neck out like that. But then, he remembered the look of terror and loathing on Draco’s face when he’d been forced to torture Rowle. And as for Goyle; Draco could have made it to the door himself, had he simply abandoned Goyle to the flames.

Draco refusing to torture a crying little girl didn’t require such a large stretch of imagination after all.

“I’m not going to think he’s this great heroic person or anything all of a sudden. Though from what I’ve seen, this war has brought out different sides in everyone,” Harry said.

“Well spoken, Harry. Well spoken. And now we’ve come to the real heart of the matter. You’ve fixed your old wand, so I’ve heard, and so you’ve no need for Mr. Malfoy’s. Had you any plans on returning it to him?”

No, he hadn’t. He hadn’t thought about it at all. “I could. I suppose perhaps I ought . . .” Harry trailed off at the look of panic crossing over Slughorn’s face. “Hang on, you’re saying I shouldn’t?”

“I am not saying you should not give back the boy’s wand, merely that you should be careful when doing so. You must remember, Harry,” Slughorn said. “The Elder Wand has allegiance to whomever that hawthorne wand will obey. Should you go to him honorably, and he attack you trying to gain the wand’s allegiance back -”

“Wait, what?” Harry interrupted, completely lost.

One minute Slughorn was regaling how Malfoy had defied the Carrows for the sake of another, and the next he was insinuating that Draco was going to leap out at him from behind piles of rubble.

“Nobody in that family has a wand for their own protection - and considering what happened to Ollivander in their residence, I doubt the old fellow’s going to jump at the chance to craft them new ones. Draco has done one or two commendable things during this War, that is true.” Slughorn wiped at his brow with a handkerchief and stuffed it back into his robes.

“But you mustn’t deny the terrible stress he‘s under now. His parents might even put him up to it! Merlin knows, once the Ministry gets its act together, the Malfoys might all be incar -”

“Professor,” Harry said, firmly. He couldn’t get the image of Narcissa trying to feed Draco breakfast out of his mind, or how thin and tired and scared the family had all looked huddled together in the Great Hall. “There’s no way any of them would want anything to do with that much power - not after what they’ve been through.”

“Trust me,” Harry added, seeing Slughorn about to protest. “I’ve seen more than you think. But if I do decide on giving it back, I’ll be careful.”

“If you give his wand over,” Slughorn advised quietly, “You must choose your words carefully. Draco will be able to use it again if he accepts his defeat by your hands. But for your own part, there can be no hint of submission or apology - I’m serious, Harry. If you give back that wand, one little word could change everything.”

Harry smiled, despite everything. The day he was going to be apologetic or submissive to Malfoy was nowhere on the horizon. “Even if it does, I think he’s seen enough war for a lifetime. I doubt he’s going to try starting up another one.”

“Once again well spoken, Harry.” Slughorn put a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “I am relieved I at least got the chance to talk to you about this. You’ve got a wise head on your shoulders. If you feel so strongly that young Mr. Malfoy’s going to behave like a gentleman, you’ve got my support.”

“Er, thanks.”

Slughorn beamed and made his way back to the Great Hall. Harry watched after him blankly, mind a-whirl.

Draco Malfoy. Draco Malfoy had done something that Snape would have once referred to as ‘idiotically Gryffindor‘. Malfoy had tried to cover up and make excuses for himself of course; to do anything else would have been against his nature as a Slytherin.

Harry started to walk toward the Gryffindor towers. He wondered if he should talk to Ron or Hermione about this, but shot the idea down quickly. He knew what they’d say. And frankly, they had enough on their plates for now.

Ron and his family were still mourning Fred. Hermione was going to find her parents before the week was out. After everything he’d been through, Harry knew he could handle Malfoy by himself.

He told the Fat Lady the password and stepped into the Common Room - the elves had fixed it to the barest minimum. They had patched up the holes in the brick wall, repaired the fireplace, and were still cautioning students to have the utmost care when going to the upstairs dormitories. The stairs had been rather confused about who to let into their own rooms and still randomly sent students sliding back down into the Common Room. Harry decided not to test his luck and raised his repaired wand.

Accio Draco Malfoy’s hawthorne wand,” he said, and there was the sound of a trunk opening and slamming shut upstairs. In short order, a wrapped parcel flew down to the Common Room, draped with a brightly colored sock and part of a frog wrapper. Harry plucked the sock off and stuffed it into his pocket. The black wand dropped into his other waiting hand, still encased in brown parchment.

“Kreacher,” he called and with a soft {pop} the house elf appeared in the Common Room and bowed low.

“What does Master Harry have need of?” Kreacher asked, smiling. Harry returned it, glad to see him. He’d always feel a pang for Dobby, but Kreacher was here and alive and far less loathsome than he‘d seemed before.

“I need to speak privately to Draco Malfoy. But I don’t think I’m going to have luck if I go right up to him and ask.” Draco’s family would be protective and insist on going along. Harry was not fond with the idea of Lucius standing there while he negotiated a delicate wand allegiance. Even if he could avoid all three Malfoys being present, he knew every Gryffindor would insist on being there to make sure Harry was alright.

“You . . . You wish to speak to the Malfoy boy?” Kreacher’s face lit up. “On peaceful terms?”

From the look of pure bliss on Kreacher’s face, one would think Harry had just announced his intent to wed Malfoy.

“Er. Yes. I need you to convince him to come alone, and try to do it without attracting attention. I don’t want anyone in the Great Hall knowing except him and his family. They’d trust you, I think. You said you always got on with Narcissa. Tell her it‘s important and that he‘ll be safe. If he wants, he can even choose the meeting place.”

Kreacher nodded, then bowed again - still looking rapturous. He disappeared with a crack.

Harry sat down to wait.

It felt like an hour, but it truly wasn’t very long before Kreacher popped back, looking very well pleased with himself. “The Malfoy boy has agreed to meet alone. Sixth floor bathroom.”

Harry’s grin crashed into a frown. Draco wanted to meet there? In that same bathroom? He’d have thought Draco would never want to go there again - not with him. Unless he wanted to rub Harry’s face in the worst mistake he‘d ever made. That seemed likely.

“Did he say why?” Harry asked lowly.

“Only that the sixth floor bathroom is least likely place to be disturbed.”

Because it belonged to Moaning Myrtle. Harry had a feeling of foreboding. He had to have been right earlier - about Malfoy not wanting to start a war again. Malfoy couldn’t be planning to attack him out of revenge. The Slytherin boy was a git, but he’d never struck Harry as stupid.

Then he realized something. More than likely, Draco wanted to be standing in the middle of that sore reminder to ensure that Harry couldn’t make him feel ashamed of his own mistakes.

Harry smirked, confidence returning little by little. The sixth floor bathroom was neutral ground in that case; where both he and his rival would be equal. He followed Kreacher out of the Common Room and down the corridor to the stairs.

* * *

Draco was feeling along the walls with his hands and muttering to himself when Harry arrived. Raising a pale arm, he knocked on one tile and then another.

Harry wondered briefly if the Slytherin had cracked under pressure and was now insane.

“Uh, hello Malfoy,” he ventured.

Draco only hissed for quiet and felt his way along the wall to on another tile. He muttered the same incantation and knocked thrice. The tile glowed white-blue for an instant and much to Harry’s surprise, the head of Moaning Myrtle popped out.

With a series of loud sighs and groans, she extracted herself from the tile and hovered above the wet floor. Almost immediately, she burst into noisy tears.

“Do you have any idea how horrible that was?!” she bellowed, flying an angry circle around Malfoy. “Trapped in a wall for almost an entire week?”

“Actually,” Draco drawled, still ignoring Harry’s presence, “You were in there for the better part of five months. Must not have been that bad if you thought it was only a few days.”

“A few days? A few days, he says! Do you even care how lonely and bored I was?!” she shrieked now, fists clenched. “To be trapped in a wall for five months?!”

Draco sighed. “It was that or be exorcized by the Carrows . . .” he explained again, “I’ve already told you -”

Myrtle only wailed louder and floated into one of the cubicles. “I wish I had been exorcized! Some friend you are! You think it’s so great to be stuck in a wall, maybe you should try it for half a year!” she sobbed.

Malfoy shook his head. “I came back for you. I said I would.” Myrtle ignored him save for an increase of volume in her sobbing. Before long, the bathroom floor would be covered with water.

“You’re welcome,” Draco answered dryly. He rolled his eyes and walked toward Harry. “So, what did you wish to see me about, Potter?”

Harry was taken aback, but he recovered quickly. “Why would the Carrows try to exorcize Moaning Myrtle?”

“Why are you the hero of the Wizarding World and still have such awful hair?”

“Excuse me?” Harry asked, indignant.

“I asked a question first. I’ve got many others, so we can stand here all day trading stupid questions if you like.” Malfoy made a show of cleaning his nails on his robe. “Or you could just answer the first one.”

Harry decided to just get on with things.

“I’d like to give you back your wand.”

That made Draco look up. His pale eyes narrowed. “Why?”

Harry blinked. “Don’t you want it?” He hadn’t planned on Draco being suspicious.

“I’m to sit and beg for it, is that your plan?”

“No! Look Malfoy, I just . . .” Harry was dangerously close to sounding submissive. He pressed his lips together. “Here’s the situation. You were the master of the Elder Wand until I disarmed you. You must have heard that by now. I’d like for you to have your wand back, but the Elder Wand’s allegiance must stay with me.”

“And I suppose you’re going to use it for good deeds?” Draco asked flatly.

“No,” Harry snapped. “I’m not going to use it at all.”

It was Draco’s turn to look surprised. “You . . . aren’t? But nobody would argue with you. There’s going to be a mess rebuilding and r-rounding up your enemies,” he stammered. Harry saw fear replace scorn for just a moment. Draco tried to make his face impassive once more. “You’d be powerful.”

“I know. I don’t want to be.”

“Why not? Everything would be so easy! You could rebuild places that meant something to you that were destroyed. You could put anyone in Azkaban, and nobody would argue with you -”

“Then how am I any better than Voldemort?”

Draco flinched. “Don‘t. I never . . . I never want to hear that name again.” His hands shook and he concealed them by folding his arms.

Voldemort was dead and gone. His name would no longer bring death, but he’d left yet more scars in his wake. Harry decided not to press the issue. There was a silence in the bathroom save for the echo of dripping water and soft snuffling from Myrtle’s stall. She had apparently quieted down to listen.

“You’re really not planning on using the Elder Wand? Even though you know the war is just barely over? It could start again somewhere. If someone you love is in danger - you’re not going to go back on your word and take it along to the rescue?” Malfoy asked lowly, when he could speak without trembling.

“I’ll be tempted. I won’t lie. But the Elder Wand will stay here, at Hogwarts.”

Draco was still paler than normal, but he nodded. “That’s . . . smart of you.” He admitted slowly, as if it pained him. “What would be even smarter is if you destroyed it. But I don’t think it can be, can it? Or you’d think it would have been already.”

“I don’t know if there’s a way. Dumbledore needed it, for me to defeat Vol- er, I mean Riddle,” Harry corrected himself. He glanced at Draco, who’s arms were still crossed. His earlier façade of haughtiness seemed to have been shaken loose and now he was staring at the drain in the floor as a spider crawled out of the grate and scuttled to a corner.

“If anyone could have found it, it would’ve been him,” Malfoy said quietly. “He would’ve searched and found it, then he would’ve done it. Don‘t you think so?”

To Harry’s mind, Draco had just proven he deserved his wand back. He wanted nothing to do with the Elder Wand, just as Harry had said to Horace Slughorn. In a very odd way, Harry felt almost proud of him.

“Yeah. He would’ve left something for me at the very least - telling me how to do it.” Harry pulled the black hawthorne wand out of his pocket and extended it handle first to Malfoy. The pale-eyed boy lifted his head, and returned Harry’s gaze evenly.

“You’re sure about this? You’re sure if I take it, I won’t get . . . the allegiance of both wands?” Draco asked. “Because my family is enough of a target as is, Potter. I won‘t have them endangered.”

“You’re not any better than me, just like I’m not any better than you. Not here, not now. For once, we actually share something in common.”

“And what’s that, Potter?” Draco asked, without derision.

“Neither of us love war.”

Draco stared back at him for a long moment, then lifted his arm. His fingers took the hawthorne handle and briefly touched Harry’s for a moment, before Harry let go. Draco looked at the wand for a moment and then turned from Harry, flicking it at the space over the cubicles. There was a shimmer and then white things began to float down from the ceiling. Harry realized in short order that it was snow.

Malfoy appeared satisfied, and his grin didn’t waver - not even when Myrtle burst out of her cubicle shrieking. “Snow! Most girls get flowers or chocolates after they’ve been away for five months but no, not Myrtle. I get snow!” she ranted.

Draco only laughed, and waved his wand again. The snowflakes turned into pale blue delphinium blossoms, plopping wetly wherever they landed - some even landed in the toilet bowls.

“Oh ha, ha, ha! Very funny, I don’t think!” Myrtle flopped in the window and sulked, though Harry noticed she was eyeing the way the delphiniums prettily floated along in the currents made by the drain.

Draco turned and left the now decorated boy’s bathroom, and Harry - not really wanting to be left with Myrtle when she was agitated or otherwise - followed him.

“Do you know how long it’s been,” Draco said lightly, when they were half a corridor away, “Since I just wanted to fool around like that? To do something with magic that didn’t have to mean anything purposeful.”

“You mean since you had fun?” Harry supplied.

“Exactly,” Malfoy answered. He glanced at Harry sidelong. “I still think your hair is awful. Does that mean we’re still not friends?”

“Sure,” Harry said, without rancor.

After a moment, Draco spoke up again. “You wanted to know about Myrtle and the Carrows.”

“Right,” Harry had almost forgotten. “Why would they go after a ghost?”

“They wanted to get rid of certain presences at the school,” Draco answered. “Moaning Myrtle was one of them. At first the Carrows thought . . . Riddle would want her to stick around. She was his first kill and all that. But he gave them the go-ahead to get rid of her, so they set about it. Crabbe was talking about it to Goyle, that’s how I learned early on.”

“So . . . Why’d you-”

“Why’d I help her?” Draco supplied for him. “Nobody else was going to. Myrtle‘s happiest being miserable and feeling like a victim. You saw her sense of gratitude. It was horrendous.”

“If you think that, then-”

“I still like her, alright?“ Draco admitted finally, looking vexed. “I’d miss her if she was gone. She’s miserable and hilarious and a good person to talk to when you’ve got nobody you can trust. And she’s possibly the only girl in the school who thinks you’re a heinous murderer. If she hadn‘t been so distracted by me, she probably would‘ve attacked you with toilet seats.”

Harry was suspicious. “You were hoping to see that? I suppose that‘s why you chose the bathroom?”

“No. Well, partly yes - I was hoping. Truthfully, she was the real reason I agreed to see you at all, Potter. I promised her I’d let her out when she was no longer in danger, but Mother would hear nothing of me going alone through the castle to do so. Not until Kreacher gave his word that I’d come to no harm if I went to talk to you.”

Surprisingly, Draco had only mentioned Sectumsempra in brief anecdote, for which Harry felt grateful.

The boys walked together in silence, each savoring the moments before the inevitable awkwardness. They were saved from it when Hermione came tearing around the corner and nearly collided with Harry. “Oh, sorry - HARRY! Where have you been - you must come to the Great Hall!”

“What? Hermione - what’s wrong?”

“I know how you feel and yes, they should be taken into custody, but she isn‘t the one to do it - I can’t believe she even dared show her face. She’s claiming Ministry business and nobody can get near her, or the Malfoys . . .”

Hermione trailed off and looked at Draco, noticing him for the first time. “What,” he rasped. “What are you talking about, Granger?” One of Malfoy’s hands closed tight around the hawthorne wand.

“Umbridge,” Hermione said, informing and somehow trying to warn him all at once. Draco was gone in the next moment.

Harry and Hermione flew after him as fast as their legs could move them, but Draco had been faster still and the door to the Great Hall was slowly closing shut again before them. Harry couldn’t believe he’d been so stupid. He’d given Draco Malfoy back his wand and he should have known the Malfoys wouldn’t be safe here forever - he should have known Draco would get it into his head to protect them at any cost.

“Malfoy, wait!” He bellowed, slamming himself against the Hall door and stumbling inside. Slughorn, having failed to do more than delay Draco by attempting to grab him, stood with part of a torn cloak in his hands and naked alarm on his face.

“ . . . all will be arrested and put on trial for your part in the war, and make no mistake - you won’t be claiming immunity by the Imperius curse again, Lucius Malfoy,” Umbridge was saying, her voice amplified over the Hall’s clamor. Several students, including nearly all the present Slytherins, were attempting to break down the barrier that her guards had raised so that the arrest of the Malfoys could continue uninterrupted.

Headmistress McGonagall had managed to get one foot and most of her face in, but she could go neither forward or backward and was shouting at Umbridge noiselessly. Harry couldn’t hear what; she had likely been silencio’d.

Umbridge held out a sheet of parchment, reading aloud the official charges while repelling any effort on the Malfoys’ part to move against her with a few simple flicks of her wand. She could have simply petrified them, but seemed to enjoy humiliating the two wandless people at her mercy.

“This is what I told you about the Ministry having to pull itself together!” Hermione whispered frantically by his ear. “There are factions now out for blood or out to feather their own nests and cover up their mistakes - and I knew she would be one of them. But I didn’t think she’d actually try and come here.” She wrung her hands. “It all happened so fast.”

“She’s outnumbered by teachers and students - someone’s contacted Shacklebolt by now, surely. What does she think she’ll gain by arresting Death Eaters who’ve already surrendered and handing them over?” Harry demanded.

“Do you really think they’re going to make it to any sort of holding cell? They know what she was up to the whole time, Harry! The Malfoys are witnesses. She‘s only still here because she‘s waiting to get her claws into their son!”

Cold dread permeated Harry’s body. In vain, he looked for Draco amid all the confusion, blocked by bodies either scrambling to help or move out of the way.

He saw a flash of white blonde hair and started forward, pushing and elbowing his way through the chaos. He had to do something - anything, to stop more bloodshed from happening.

He didn’t reach Malfoy in time; a bright blue jolt of magic struck the parchment out of Umbridge’s hands, sending it up in an arc of live embers. Draco had charged forward through the barrier - allowed solely because he was one of the accused - and was charging still when Umbridge turned, cutting a brutal slash in the air with her wand. The force of the spell flung him back and slammed him into the legs of the Ravenclaw table within the barrier.

Both Lucius and Narcissa screamed his name, but Draco lay still and did not respond.

“Attack against a Ministry official,” Umbridge declared smugly, turning back in the direction of Draco‘s parents. “I should think your family would have stopped adding to the list of charges, Luc--”

Her greatest mistake of that night, was forgetting that she had merely toyed with the Malfoys’ ability to move, rather than render them securely immobile. Narcissa’s movement was nearly too fast to chart as her right fist connected with Umbridge’s face, knocking the woman arse over pink bow and painting her knuckles red.

Narcissa paid no heed to the resulting explosion of cheers and applause from the Great Hall, merely ran to Draco’s side with Lucius following.

Seeing their leader down had prompted Umbridge’s goons to flee and they had good timing; Harry caught sight of Shacklebolt and his own personal guard of Aurors clearing the way for him.

Anxious to find out if Draco was unharmed, Harry started again to push through the crowd. Ahead was mostly Slytherins, and he could hear Zabini lauding cool praise upon Narcissa‘s handling of the entire matter.

Draco’s voice rose in complaint then, demanding to know why they were all too busy congratulating a stellar right hook to care whether he was dying of some horrible unknown curse. Several Slytherins gleefully started speculating diagnosis, complete with elevating stages of horrific side effects. Draco looked content to bask in the attention.

Harry had a better view of him now and aside from a nasty weal where Umbridge’s curse had struck him across the base of his throat, Malfoy seemed fine. Just one more scar. He caught glimpses of others after Madam Pomfrey arrived, shooing away all the Slytherins interested in becoming her temporary interns.

She made Draco tilt his head back while Narcissa unbuttoned the top half of his shirt so Pomfrey could apply salve, both women gently slapping his hands down when he protested and tried to do them back up.

He saw the lines made by Sectumsempra, and he saw what looked like severe burns that had yet to fade, even with the aid of magical healing. Fiendfyre. Draco caught him looking and managed a smirk. “If we’re having a comparison, Potter, I think I’ve won.”

“Actually, I think having more scars means you’ve lost,” Harry answered, putting his hands in his pockets. Draco was able to create the illusion of having landed on his feet - even when he was nearly flat on his back, being tended by his mother and the school’s head nurse.

“Yes, but the girls don’t really think that. I look like I’ve gone through hell and back. You on the other hand look like you’ve gone and bonked your head on the cabinet door.”

Harry actually laughed. Then he heard Hermione’s voice as she relayed a statement to one of Shacklebolt’s Aurors and felt guilty. Draco seemed to sense this and nodded congenially, shooing Harry away with a flick of his fingers in the way of a tired king dismissing a jester. Harry chose to ignore that, and inclined his head politely to Narcissa and Draco and even made an effort toward Lucius, who just as stiffly returned it.

He withdrew, and let the returning Slytherins fill the void. He and the Malfoy family would probably have very little to do with each other for several years. Too much had happened for it to be otherwise. He suspected they’d be alright though; he heard Shacklebolt talking with them and congratulating Narcissa heartily for her excellent wandless defense.

Umbridge was burbling as Medi-wizards loaded her onto a stretcher. Harry lingered, listening in amusement as she demanded a set of pink earmuffs for the darling happy little cauldron-pot skipping around on his precious little toesie-woesies.(1) He had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, but it was no less entertaining.

“Just when you think it’s over,” Ron said, joining Harry as he walked toward Hermione.

“It’s far from over, Ron. I wish it was,” Harry said, meaning it for both of them. They would have no more adventures for a while at least, but that didn’t mean trouble wouldn’t occasionally stop in for a visit. “Hermione’s right. We’ve got a mess to clean up.”

“But not just us,” Ron said, attempting a smile. He sighed blissfully. “And not while camping, thank Merlin.


(1) If you haven't read Beedle the Bard, you might not get that reference to 'Toadstool Tales'.

5th-Jan-2009 02:08 am (UTC)
Go Narcissa!!!

I liked it very much, Draco was so very IC. And everything is still far too complicated; exactly as it should be.
8th-Jan-2009 04:24 am (UTC)
hehehe, Narcissa was fun to write in this.

Glad you think Draco was IC - I was worried I made him too soft.
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