Pairing(s): Harry/Draco kind of, Hermione, Ron, Molly/Arthur
Summary: Would wizards still be wizards in a magic-less world?
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): Somewhat dark
Epilogue compliant? Post war, not epilogue
Word Count: 10,250
Author's Notes: The prompt asked for Hogwarts era, EWE, no next-gen, with bickering and make-up sex but with NO love-dovey 'everything's perfect' romance, H & D getting married. Well, this might be slightly more serious than I intended it to be, sorry about that.
No one noticed at first, the way the wards would flicker around Hogwarts, St. Mungo's and other wizard establishments.
No one sensed the change, how parts of the Forbidden Forest had vanished.
The war had just ended and wizards were divided between the wounded and the dead. Unlike before, Britain's wizard community just didn’t know where to begin or what to rebuild.
The first few days after the war, mass graves had to be dug up, bones identified, people re-buried, Muggle families contacted and trials begun. So many families lost, bloodlines ended. Parents cried over the dead bodies of their children and many of the pure-blood children who had survived watched as their parents were led into Azkaban.
They all naively believed all they needed to do was to get rid of the stench of death for the war to be truly over and the rebuilding to start. They were wrong.
An hour after the end of the war.
“Pansy,” Draco called to his friend. The remaining Slytherins gathered around, seeking comfort in the presence of friends and fellow classmates who had survived the war.
They were all victims here. They had all lost something, be it family, friends or their childhood innocence.
They had been made to watch as those they had once taunted were tortured or killed by those they had considered loved ones. They had become witnesses and, at times, perpetrators of the violence inflicted on the school by those who once used to tuck them into bed, wipe away their tears or teach them about magic.
“I didn’t think…” Draco reached to touch Pansy’s wet cheek, to reassure himself she truly was there. He had heard rumours…
Pansy reached to hug him, no longer able to stop the tears from flowing or hide the fear.
“What are we going to do?” Blaise asked, after everyone had had a moment to reassure themselves that their friends were alive. In the Great Hall of Hogwarts, they had gathered all the Slytherins, from the first year to the seventh. The war had ended for everyone, but not for them.
In the weeks and months before the battle, plans had been made by a selected few. Plans discussed in the dark, as the students had made their rounds, after classes had ended, whispers before bed. They had talked about what would happen if one side won or the other won. Contingency plans had been made by fearful children who had borne witness to nightmares come alive.
“We’ll separate the younger children into three groups. Pritchard and Baddock will take the younger years to Beauxbatons. Harper and Greengass will take the other group to Academia Baccheta in Italy. Nott, Goyle and Worrington will take the older ones to Durmstrang. You’ll be responsible for your group. Zabini, Parkinson and I, we’ll stay behind and look after the wounded ones, until they too are ready to leave. Nott, before you leave, contact Flint and Pucey, and perhaps some of the older Slytherins not involved in the war. See if they can help get some finances for the kids.”
Slytherin was no more. The House was dead, but the children would live on.
Even after all they'd seen and planned for, none of the students had expected this. “Draco, are you sure?”
He had always been a leader and they trusted him. He would never betray that trust.
“Look around you. Hogwarts…it’s done. By the time they rebuild, do you really think they will let Slytherin back in the fold? After everything?”
“What about my mum and dad?” a first year asked.
The older years shared a glance. Draco knelt in front of the boy. “If they weren’t involved in the war,” he paused, for the first time uncertain. There were still so many unknowns. “Many of our parents were either Death Eaters or related to Death Eaters. The Ministry will find our parents guilty and they’ll be Kissed. We’re going to do what Slytherins are best known for – survive. If I’m wrong, then you'll only be gone for a year. But if I’m right, you’ll be far from here and safe.”
The children, Snape had once told him, must be protected or Slytherins would lose another generation.
“Draco, what about the other kids?” It hadn’t just been Slytherins who had been affected. Death Eaters had been members of some Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and even a few Gryffindor families.
“We’ll take them as well.” Pure-bloods, didn’t matter the House, they would need to save them and, if in the end they were proven wrong…
As he told the boy, they could always come home.
“Have the older students Apparate the younger ones home. Take only what you need. Make sure you seal the homes before you leave. Meet us at Zabini’s lakehouse property in Venice. Come on, we must move quickly.”
They hugged each other and quickly moved on to gather the rest of the students.
In less than a month, the wizard community in Britain would lose over half of the children who were pure of blood. Homes of pure-blood families would be closed, sealed with the blood of their young heirs.
Those Slytherins who did remain were tasked with emptying the accounts from Gringotts and moving them to overseas banks. Children of pure-bloods who been orphaned were adopted by their older classmates and those children who were pre-Hogwarts were quickly moved to primary schools in Europe.
After his father’s trial and sentencing (five years imprisonment), Draco and his mother moved to France where he would attend Beauxbatons Academy of Magic.
Four months after the end of the war, the Forbidden Forest vanished. Six months after the war, so did Hogwarts.
“Have you learned anything?” Hermione asked.
Since the end of the war, Hermione, Ron and Harry had been staying at the Burrow, recuperating from the battle, pushed to the sidelines as the adults began the task of rebuilding.
Just the day before they had been told to stay put, not to leave the Burrow. Unease had settled within the wizard community. Unexplained disappearances were occurring now on a daily basis. Just yesterday, Arthur's work shed had vanished, and the wards around the Burrow had flickered. For one breathless moment, it had felt as though the house would fold onto itself.
For the past hour, the trio had been arguing.
"Do you think it's Voldemort?" Ron asked.
"No, I killed him," Harry reassured him, glancing at both his friends. "We destroyed all the Horcruxes." Didn't we? he thought to himself.
"Death Eaters?" Ron ventured to guess.
"They're in jail or awaiting trial," Hermione replied.
"Not Malfoy," Ron answered back.
"He's in Azkaban," Hermione reminded him.
"Lucius is, but not Draco," Ron corrected her, seeing the younger Slytherin as more dangerous than the father.
"Ron, I don't think..."
And on it went.
The diaspora of Britain pure-blood families happened far more quickly than anyone had anticipated or foreseen.
Sealing the wards around their ancestral homes had started a ripple effect that was far more dangerous than Voldemort.
What happens when the bond between wizard and community is broken? When a covenant is sealed or forsaken?
Traditions long abandoned by all but the pure-blood families would be recalled and come to light, as long-forgotten promises would make themselves known and have devastating effects on those who remained.
The office of the Interim-Minister of Magic.
"But those tales were forgotten. Surely it no longer applies to us," said Minerva, Acting-Headmistress of Hogwarts.
A group of the former Order of the Phoenix and Ministry officials from the Department of Mysteries and Magical Law Enforcement were gathered in Kingsley's office.
They had for the past hour been looking over the documents brought to them by the research branch of the Department of Mysteries. None of them made any sense.
"So, we lost a few pure-bloods. This isn't the first time they've left," commented Hestia Jones, as she reread the documents.
"Not like this," corrected Kingsley. The mass exodus of the heirs of the pure-blood families had, according to the researchers, broken or strained the covenant the wizard community had with magic and its tie to the land. "In the past, those families who migrated to other countries never totally abandoned the land of their births. Some of their family members still remained. They never broke the covenant nor the bonds that tied their magic to Britain."
"Old wives' tale," Pierson, an Auror, argued back.
"No, my friend, I wish it were."
The covenant, a tradition passed amongst the pure-blood families to their heirs. The contract between wizards, magic and their land. The one thing that kept them separate and protected from Muggles.
"What happens now?" Minerva asked. The wards around Hogwarts were failing. They could not rebuild what they could not see, touch, or access. Should it remain lost forever...it was unthinkable.
"We'll need to contact the parents first, the ones who are in Azkaban," said Kingsley.
"And give them a deal?" interrupted Elphias Doge, a member of the Order.
"I don't like this anymore than you do, but we somehow have to re-establish those covenants before Britain becomes magic-less."
If anyone had bothered to ask the children why they had left, they would have answered their families had not built a society where they would be deemed second-class citizens. Where their culture was threatened and where they would be called upon to bear the sole burden of maintaining the covenant that protected their world.
The wizard world was too busy punishing and rebuilding to realize its wound had still not healed from this war nor the previous two wars.
Pure-bloods were tired of having their beliefs mocked by Muggle-born wizards who had no clear understanding of the magical world they now inhabited. They were tired of the rules imposed on them, rules meant to protect the Muggles.
The children had left because this war had taught them that their fears and needs would be ignored and, worse, manipulated by power-hungry men.
Yes, innocents had died, but casualties had happened on both sides.
Was one death worth more than another? No, but to have the death of a love one ignored, to equate all pure-blood as evil, as Death Eaters, was, for the children, unacceptable.
They and the blood of their ancestors had built this world of magic, and had kept it safe during two Muggle wars.
This war had taught them that hate was a dance between two partners. To blame one for the fault equally shared was unworthy of the legacy that had built this community.
En masse they had left and sought refuge in other wizard communities that would not forsake them.
They wanted a future that had been denied them by this war. They also wanted to feel safe. They wanted the cleansing of a new beginning, away from the extremes that had twisted their parents' beliefs, and those used by the other side to downplay pure-blood fears and concerns.
They had grown up and refused to be used and discarded, like pieces of a chess game, where they were the casualties, where their blood was the prize.
They left and, in the process, they broke the wizard community in Britain.
Stubborn fool. He refused to answer any of their questions and would only smile knowingly at the Aurors.
If Voldemort could not truly break him, did they think they could?
"You will answers my questions, Lucius," demanded the Auror, itching to wipe the smile off the Death Eater's face.
"Why should I? I think you already know the answers." The Malfoy patriarch smirked. None of this would have happened had their concerns been listened to. No Voldemort. No Grindelwald wars.
How was it that Britain had gone through three wizard wars while the rest of Europe and the Americas had remained unscathed?
It was not like they were more blood-thirsty. It was not like they were barbarians, well, not all of them. Lucius had to chuckle.
"You want answers, then let me speak to Potter."
The Burrow. Late evening.
"Dad!" Ron ears turned red. "You're embarrassing me in front of my friends."
"Oh, Ron, it's just Harry and Hermione," Molly said before shushing Ron and turning back to face her husband. "Now, Arthur, I don't care what Kingsley told you. Harry is not going to Azkaban to visit that horrible man."
"That poor child is still recovering. I won't have him harmed."
Arthur took his wife's hands. They were cold. He rubbed them gently. She was a good woman. A good mother and he'd struck gold when he'd married her.
"I'll be with him the whole time." They had already lost one child and as much as their remaining children, Harry included, insisted they were adults, to Arthur and Molly they would always be children. Too young to know any better.
"I don't like this," she insisted before she turned to pick up the dinner plates. "I don't like this at all," she repeated.
"Neither do I." Arthur turned to the trio. "But Lucius wants to speak to Harry. He may have some answers to what has been happening in our community." Arthur's smile was somewhat pained. "Harry, my boy, if you don't want to do this, you don't need to. We'll find another way."
"Why Harry?" Hermione asked.
"Don't know. But the sooner we find out, and stop whatever is happening, the better off we'll be."
Harry had always thought that with the war ending, he could begin having a normal life, or at least something that resembled normal.
"Just speak to him?" The last time he'd seen Malfoy had been at the trials. Draco had been there with his mother, with a few of the Slytherins who had remained. They had left soon after and Harry hadn't really thought much about them, till now.
"Just speak to him," reassured Arthur.
"All right." A part of him wondered if it would ever end. This constant need by the wizard community to have him to step forward and be its hero.
"We'll go with you, Harry," Hermione reassured him. Ron nodded in agreement.
"You sure?" he asked.
"We're Gryffindors. We don't know any better," Hermione teased back, and they all laughed.
Arthur rested a comforting hand on Molly's shoulder. The trio were children still.
"Oh, Arthur. If this is what we think it is," she whispered to him in fear. "Whatever happens, I never regretted..."
"Shh, Molly. I'll be fine, you'll see."
There were some traditions that were best forgotten.
Some traditions that asked too much.
He kissed her brow and smiled reassuringly at her. "I love you, Mollywobbles, with all of my heart and to my dying days."
"Oh, dad, must you?" whined Ron. "Ugh, not the kissing."
"Do you know Potter, the reason pure-bloods hate squibs?"
Harry hadn't even sat down before Malfoy asked him the question. "No."
The room was mostly bare, containing some chairs with a desk between them. Malfoy sat before him dressed in prison garb. Two Aurors stood behind him, wands out, ready to strike if need be.
Harry wasn't nervous. He had faced far worse things and it was not as though he was alone. Mr. Weasley, Ron and Hermione were right by him.
"It is hard to look at one's child and know you had done this to them. That you had cut off their magic."
Harry looked blankly at him.
"Squibs remind us of our actions," Lucius continued. "And for some families, pure-bloods, the shame and guilt are sometimes too much to bear. It's our undoing."
"What is this? What are you talking about?" Harry stared in disbelief at Malfoy. "What do squibs have to do with what's happening right now? Why magic is ... disappearing?"
"Hmm ... they don't teach this at Hogwarts, do they, Arthur?" There was a cruel smile on Lucius's face.
"That's enough, Malfoy," Arthur growled.
"No. I don't think it is." Lucius sat more comfortably on the chair. "It is amazing at how our education system has failed us." He stared at his hands. "Pity."
"Rubbish. Why do you want him here?" Hermione blurted out.
"Oh, child. I don't want him here at all."
Malfoy sat up and, even in his prison grabs, he was still able to command the room. "Let me tell you a little history, about two people, a covenant and blood." He smirked at the unease that settled in the room.
"Long ago, when Muggles were barbarians..." He laughed. "Amazing how they haven't changed."
"All right, I'm out of here." Harry got up ready to leave.
"Sit down, Potter," Lucius said, smirk now gone.
"Sit down, Harry," Arthur told him. "All of you."
Harry sat down.
"As I was saying, Muggles were barbarians. They killed everything that they feared or deemed strange. They destroyed and slaughtered without care. It got to the point that anything that was magical received an ugly death."
"Don't believe him, Harry," Hermione whispered to him.
Lucius ignored her. "Somehow the two worlds started to divide. Maybe because Muggles no longer believed in magic, they could no longer sense it. No one knows except that Muggles could no longer kill what they could no longer see. Elves, Veelas, Vampyres, Werewolves, they became parts of myths and fairytales, stories told to scare children and everything seemed to right itself again. We thought we too were safe, except...they began to burn us at the stake."
"They are not like that anymore," Hermione argued.
"If they can't stop killing each other, what do you think they would do if they found out we exist?"
"Their government knows," Harry told him.
"Only the heads of states, Harry, and they're Oblivated once they finish their term," Arthur informed him.
"As I was saying, unlike the other magical creatures, Muggles could still see us, so we needed to do something. After the persecutions, all the old pure-blood families got together and formed a covenant with the land, that allowed their magic to grow and flourish within a confined space. At first, the covenant was meant to protect the home, families, to strengthen wards. Later it was expanded to encompass the community. Each covenant strengthened the other, building upon previous layers."
"That's it? This is why you wanted to speak to him?" Hermione turned to Harry. "We'll look it up. There must be a spell to strengthen the wards. Everything will go back to normal, you'll see."
"Hermione, I don't think it's that easy," said Ron. He'd been keeping an eye on everyone: the way his father tensed up, how the Aurors gripped their wand. It was as though they were pieces in a chess game, and Ron didn't know the rules.
"No," Lucius agreed. "It's not that easy."
Lucius stared at Arthur as if daring him to look away. "At first the covenant was passed from one family member to another. It was assumed that after the first blood sacrifice, we'd all be protected. We were wrong. As time passed, more was demanded. Much more."
"So squibs are sacrifices?" Harry wanted to understand so he could just leave and fix it, and live his life.
"Sometimes the covenant demands the child's magic, other times their life. Isn't that right, Arthur?"
At his father's pale expression, Ron asked, "Why haven't I heard anything about this?"
Malfoy let out a bitter laugh. "Oh, that is another tale."
"You're wasting our time," Hermione insisted. "Tell us how to fix it or don't you know?"
"Would you kill your own child, make a cut along their wrist, deep enough for them to hurt and bleed, watch slowly as they die, as their breath becomes laboured? Would you do this time and time again to save the wizard world, to strength the bonds that keep us from Muggles, that protect our homes and communities?" There was no masking the hatred in Lucius voice. "Our family plots are litter with bodies of innocents."
Harry sat back, reeling.
"The covenant was meant to protect the family, not the community. The more members who are not part of the family who enter that community, the more demands are placed upon it. In turn, it requires more sacrifice. The reason we hate you, Potter, is that in order for you to be here, our children were sacrificed."
"No," Hermione shook her head. "That can't be right."
"I don't lie. Well, not about this." Lucius went back to staring at his hands. "Unlike magical creatures that can access any realm they so choose, we don't have that luxury. The covenant we made, the contract if you will, makes it possible."
"Magic would still exist," grumbled Arthur.
"Yes," Lucius agreed. "Magic will always exist, but there is a difference between the magic that exists in our world and theirs, and as fond of them as you are, Arthur, you know I am right."
"So, all we do is create a covenant?" Harry asked.
Unexpectedly, Lucius laughed.
"Lucius," said Arthur in a monotone voice.
"That old fool. That old twisted traitorous fool. Do you think one can just whip up a covenant? That all of this can be solved with a spell, from a book? That it is just a document that one can sign their name to? It is not a legal paper, child. It is our blood, our heirs, our young. If you want to blame anyone for what has happened, blame your old dead Headmaster. He refused to listen to us, to the demands and sacrifice that were asked of us."
"You're not worthy..."
"Oh, shut up, Potter." Lucius glared at him. "Dumbledore refused our pleas to stop accepting all those Muggle-borns. Worse, he refused to include them in the new covenants, refused to ask that they make the same sacrifice demanded of our children. He created this division. He let it fester and he coddled all of you. Made you think you could do want you wanted, demand what you wanted without any thought to the rules that existed." He breathed. "Traditions are there for a reason. In following the ritual, no matter how mundane, allows you to reaffirm your place in our world. It strengthens the bonds the community has built. Why do we teach you the basics of magic? It's to build your foundation, so you have an understanding of how it works. If we skip the basics, your magic becomes weak and you can no longer contribute to the society to which you belong."
"He thought he was doing the right thing," commented Arthur.
"Oh, don't get me started on the Weasleys, Arthur," spat Lucius, before glaring at the trio. "Muggle-borns have to begin sacrificing their magic, that of their children and they will need to do so for generations to come."
"That's barbaric!" Hermione sat up. She would not listen to this.
"Yes, isn't it? You want access to magic. You want back your magical world, then pay for it or is the cost too great? Answer me girl!" She looked away. "I thought so."
"And if they come back?" asked Ron.
"The pure-bloods took their contracts with them. If they return, the covenant would be re-established but, believe me, the time of pure-bloods making the only sacrifice must end. For the wizard world in Britain to rebuild, sacrifices must be made by all."
They were back at the Burrow. Molly had served them food, but they hadn't really been hungry. Ron and his parents had gone out to deal with some family matters leaving Hermione and Harry behind. He wondered what they were talking about, if they were as dumbfounded as he was. He glanced over at Hermione.
She'd been quiet. She was never quiet.
"He's lying, Hermione."
"Is he?" She crossed her arms, and looked away. "Each day we wait, more is lost. Our wounded are dying, and we're all tired, Harry. Drained. Magic no longer works here. Not like it used to. Voldemort has won."
"No, don't say that." Harry paced. "I... we sacrificed everything."
“But have we, Harry?”
“What do you mean?”
“We never sacrificed pride. We thought we were right, always.”
“But we were,” Harry insisted.
“Death Eaters weren’t just made up of Slytherins, Harry. Professor McGonagall once proclaimed that I was the most gifted witch in centuries. I knew the theory behind magic, but it was never instinctual. I had to practice it, everyday, and I only worked on things that I knew. Respected. Quidditch, divination, they were things I dismissed.”
“It’s true. I thought them silly. I mean cards and tea leaves, how relevant or true could that be?” She gave out a bitter laugh. “It turned out to be so relevant that Voldemort would kill for it.”
“What are we going to do?”
“Talk to the families who have left. Try to get them to come back." She sounded hopeful.
“Would that be enough?”
“I think it has been years since anyone has ever talked to them. Talked and listened to their concerns. If we really want to rebuild our world, we need to stop dismissing other people’s fears and needs, and we need to do this before those children bind themselves to another school, another world.”
Barmy. Talk to them? For Harry, fighting Voldemort was easier.
"Couldn't the Ministry do this?"
Hermione gave him a look. "They'll muck it up, like always. If we want this done right, we have to do it ourselves."
"Save the world?"
"Hug the pure-bloods."
Laugh. "Oh, Harry."
"I'm going to have to wash my brain now."
Go talk to Malfoy, Harry. Make him listen to you.
Like that would work.
Bugger, how was he ever going to talk to the prat?
"Convince him. Talk to him. Get him to come back. You know you can Harry."
"Can't you do it? You're better at this, Hermione."
"I'd likely slap him and we can't have that."
So, how was he going to convince the biggest prat who ever existed to come back to England? Oh, and make sure his merry men came back with him?
Harry sighed deeply at the near impossible task. The fact that he was looking forward to arguing with the prat was a thought he pushed to the back of his mind.
“What do you want, Potter?”
Had Harry really had forgotten how obnoxious Draco was?
When he had Floo'd to Beauxbatons, they'd told him Malfoy would be in the library. A visit to the library, common room, music room, meditation room and two hours later, he finally found him, leaning against the wall near the classrooms, as if waiting for someone.
“Malfoy, could we talk?” Harry tried to send him a friendly smile but from Draco’s confused expression, he didn’t seem to be succeeding.
“Why? It’s not like we’ve done it before.”
“Look, you git.” Harry paused somewhat horrified that he had insulted Malfoy so soon after bumping into him again. Stupid annoying prat.
Draco just shot a look at Harry as if to say he hadn't left England to have his Gryffindork stalker cross the channel and continue to harass him.
At the glare, Harry let out a small huff. “I’m sorry.” He really was failing at this and wished Hermione had produced for him some cheat sheets.
“You’re what?” Draco asked in disbelief. “Look, you four-eyed freak.”
“I take it back, you arse!” Harry ignored the way his heart quickened as they exchange taunts. So he might have missed the fights. Not that he would ever admit this aloud.
Draco moved as if to pass him.
Neither of them heard a group of students approached.
“Draco!”a male student called as he broke away from the group and ran up to them just as Draco walked passed Harry. “What's he doing here?" He sent Harry a disdainful look.
“Baddock, it’s all right,” Draco reassured his fellow classmate.
“Is he stalking you again?” Baddock muttered, lips thinning.
He knew about that? “Wow, wait, you went to Hogwarts?” Harry asked, unable to hide the disbelief in his voice.
Both now stared at Harry.
“He’s a year below us, Potter!” growled Draco.
“What?” It's not as though he bothered to pay attention to anyone below his year.
"Prick," murmured Baddock.
“Look, you little midget,” responded Harry, frustrated that none of this was going according to Hermione’s plan.
“Baddock, just go. I’ll deal with this. Just make sure none of the students come down this hallway.”
Once the students went into their classroom, Draco pursed his lips. He seemed to be regarding Harry’s flushed face. “Why are you here, Potter?”
"Look, I just want to talk." Harry reined in his temper.
"Kill me more like." One of Draco's brow rose as if daring him to disagree.
"No, just talk." Maybe there was a chance for Harry to still salvage this, otherwise Hermione would box his ears.
"So talk." Draco crossed his arms.
"Um..." Harry blushed, feeling slight flustered.
"Yes?" Draco nodded encouragingly.
"Well..." Harry hesitated.
At Harry's hesitation, Draco seemed to have had enough."I don't have all day."
"Stop rushing me, you bastard."
Draco stepped forward.
"What." Malfoy poked Harry on the chest. "Do." Another poke. "You." Poke. "Want?" Followed by a harder poke.
"We're dying, or magic is dying. We need you guys to come back," rushed out of Harry's mouth.
"What's in it for us?" was Draco's quick response.
"That's it? That's all you care about. Slytherins." God, they were stark mad the lot of them.
"You came to me," Draco reminded him. "And, it's not just Slytherins I have to think about."
Before leaving England, Hermione had reminded Harry that not all pure-bloods who left had been Slytherin.
"Look, could we just start over?" Harry was unable to hide how tired he was. Hermione had been right. How can one convince the pure-bloods to come back to England, if they don't at least try to talk to them and befriend them? But saying one needed to do this did not make it easy.
At Malfoy's incredulous look, maybe not. Harry sighed. It really wasn't fair that he was always called upon to be the hero.
How many times did he need to save the wizard world? How much more would it demand of him? Had he reflected, Harry would have realized that there was much he shared with children of pure-blood families.
“Hi, um. I’m Harry.” He offered his hand. Maybe to begin again, one needed to have a new start or, in their case, a restart.
Draco first looked down at the offered hand, then glanced back up to Harry. Harry smiled, somewhat nervously, hoping to encourage Draco to take his hand.
Draco just rolled his eyes, sighed and then smiled. “Just Harry?”
Harry smiled warmly. “Harry Potter, you git. Now just shake my hand.”
“Gryffindork,” teased Draco softly. Draco shook his hand. “Hi, just Harry. I’m Draco Malfoy.”
"All right." Harry looked around him in relief. The earth hadn't opened up and swallowed him whole.
"I'm thinking." Harry took off his glasses and rubbed his hand over his face. This really had seemed so much easier when Hermione had explained it to him.
"Merlin, we're going to be here all day." Draco seemed put out and there was a pout forming upon his lips.
Harry caught himself staring. He nodded his head as if to clear his thoughts.
Looking at Draco now, Harry realized he kind of missed seeing him in Slytherin green, instead of the pasty blue uniform of the Beauxbatons Academy. His hair had also grown and a bit curled along his nape. He seemed older now and the nervousness he once displayed in sixth and seventh year had disappeared.
At the continued silence, Malfoy took pity on him. "Something is happening in Britain?"
"You don't know?" Harry seemed surprised by this.
"Why should I?" Draco's forehead furrowed. The past few months he'd been busy consoling frightening children, closing ancestral homes, consulting with lawyers, arranging finances and with Greengrass, Worthington and Zabini helped arrange schooling for some of the pre-schoolers.
He'd been fortunate enough that he'd been able to convince the institutes to create a day care program, in each of the schools. His mother, with the help of the elves, had also taken in children too young for pre-school. So, no he had not kept up with what was happening in Britain.
Harry had recovered enough to say, "It's your home."
Harry's left eyebrow rose high. "Harry," he corrected Draco.
Draco just rolled his eyes. Prat. "Harry, I spent the last few months taking care of my mum, the younger kids, getting everyone out and then coming here, and we've all missed more than a year of schooling. We're so far behind."
To think he had never appreciated all that Professor Snape had done for his students, his Slytherins. The care and attention he provided them. Not that he'd coddle them for the Professor was more likely to growl at then than to smile.
Merlin, to think he was now the impromptu Head of House for all these kids!
Harry gave Draco an appreciative nod, as if he understood the burden Draco carried. Perhaps he did.
"About that, you guys ever coming back?" He cringed as if he realized how bad that sounded. "Sorry."
Draco could not help but laugh. A Gryffindor was forever a Gryffindor regardless of their age or so-called maturity.
Draco flashed Harry a wide smile, trying to put him at ease. "I don't think so, Po... Harry." At Harry's answering nod, Draco found himself adding, "We're still having a hard time getting the younger years to settle."
"What's wrong with them?" Harry didn't need to fake his concern and his face took on a slightly strained expression.
"Nightmares. Many of them have lost parents, siblings, nothing is familiar." Draco was honest in his reply, far more than he had intended to be.
What was it about Potter that made him want to share with him how difficult this move had been and continued to be? What was it about having him here, expressing concern, that made Draco wish they had truly been friends, that he had someone to share the burden.
He broke out of his melancholy thoughts to say, "Look, whatever is happening back home, we're not involved. I can promise you that."
Harry rubbed the back of his neck, unable to hide his nervousness. "What do you know about the covenants?"
Draco frowned at him. "What are you on about?"
Harry cleared his throat. "We keep losing parts of Hogsmeade. They just disappear. Even Hogwarts keeps flickering out."
Draco leaned against the wall. Bloody hell. They hadn't thought of this. When they'd left, when they'd planned their escape, all they had thought about was starting anew.
"It... it... no. How?" This was certainly going on the record books, Draco was speechless. He shook his head as if to gather his thoughts. Guardedly he asked, "Seriously, how?"
"Your father said you all left. Took the covenant with you and whatever got left behind is stretched too thin, and now magic is collapsing onto itself. Or so Hermione explained."
"I need to talk to the others." Bugger. It had been hard enough getting everyone out. They had always meant to go back, at least that had been part of the original plan but now...to uproot everyone again especially when so many of them still had not recovered from the horrors they had witness was not something he could contemplate on his own. Was this was being an adult meant? Having to make impossible decisions even though one wished not to?
The moment stretched, on and on, until Harry asked, "You would do that?"
"I make no promises, Potter. But the others need to be informed." Protect the children, Professor Snape had once told him. He thought he had.
"Does life ever get any easier?" Harry asked as he anxiously shuffled his feet, realizing the news he'd brought had made Draco's life far more complicated.
"Bollocks if I know," Draco quietly replied.
Two weeks later
"Fuck'n bastard!" Harry stormed out of the Black library, wand in hand, intent on leaving Grimmauld Place. He was tired of the wait, of not knowing whether Draco would be coming back to Britain, or whether he had succeeded in convincing the other families to come back with him.
So, he didn’t trust the Slytherin. Why would he? After all, a hand shake did not make one a friend.
"Harry?" Ron met him at the bottom of the staircase.
"Don't try to stop me," Harry warned his friend.
"Wouldn't dream of it," Ron reassured him, "But..."
"What?" He just wanted to do something. Anything was better than sitting in the library staring at the Black Family tapestry.
Ron stood before Harry, blocking his exit. "Come on, mate, even I know you don't push a snake into a corner."
"What if they don't come back, Ron?" Harry clenched his jaw. He was itching for a fight, for action. "We didn't just fight Voldemort and win only to lose everything in the end."
As Ron bit the inside of his lip, he just stared at Harry with a sense of uncertainty that Harry had not seen in his friend for a long time.
"Maybe we needed to come close to losing our world in order to value it. I mean, how many times did you tell people Voldemort was back? How many times were you ignored or called a liar, Harry? How many sat on the sidelines and waited for others to fight this war, to fix it? If we lose our magic or can no longer be wizards here, maybe it would be for the best."
"You...you can't actually think that, Ron." Harry stared at his friend in disbelief.
Ron sighed deeply as he sat down on the last step of the staircase. He covered his face and rested his elbows on his knees. For a moment, Harry wondered if his friend was crying but then Ron looked up, eyes hard and old.
"Being a pure-blood, I didn't think much of it, you know. I thought, all those rituals we had, they're just something old people did. I thought, pure-bloods were snots and they probably were, are, but I think I get it now. Get the whole, why wizard traditions must be followed. Why they're necessary." Even by biting his lip, Ron could not keep back the anguish in his voice. "I used to be able to feel magic as I walked down Hogsmeade or when I used to visit my dad at work. I could feel it, like a caress along my skin, warm, like a kiss on one's forehead. I can't anymore even though I know it is there just beyond my reach. I hate that I took it for granted and that I poked fun at these old rituals that made us who we are. That I didn't even know my own family history because I never bothered to learn it and no one bothered to teach me."
Harry sat beside Ron. He had never looked at it that way. To him, this was just another battle that had to be overcome.
"I miss Fred, Harry. I miss him like crazy, but I knew him, you know. He lived and I knew him. To think, I might not have. To think his magic could have been sacrificed and he could have died or been made a squib. That's what pure-bloods had to do to their kids so we could have magic, and I hate that Fred is dead, and I hate the pure-bloods, okay." Ron's voice quivered. "I really hate them."
Ron took two short breaths and rubbed his eyes. "A hate that strong can make you do things, and make you think your kid, the one who survived, that they are special and need to be protected. Can make you angry because people keep allowing all these Muggle-borns in..."
"Ron." Harry put his hand on Ron's shoulder.
"No, just listen to me. Pure-blood families, they average two to three kids per family. Two to three, Harry. My family had seven. No," Ron shoved Harry's hands away. "Listen, go ahead and choose the two in my family who should live."
"Ron." Harry shook his head, he couldn't do it.
"You...Ginny," was the whispered reply.
"So no Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. No Bill or Charlie. No Percy, who, yeah, is a prick but he's done good." Ron passed his hand through his hair. "I couldn't choose and I would hate it if someone made me choose. If magic dies here, it dies. If the pure-bloods need more time, give them more time."
"It's not right." Harry countered.
"Nothing about this is right. Blast it, Harry, I love Hermione but if it was a choice between Fred's life and not ever meeting her, Fred would always win."
"Is it ever going to be over?"
Ron led out a dry chuckle. "Fuck, Harry. What the fuck do I know?"
An owl post finally arrived.
Like that would change things. This was a cock-up!
How the hell did one go about courting pure-bloods?
While the adults tried to do whatever adults normally do, Harry called in Dumbledore's Army. Things were difficult enough as it was and it was not as though it could get any worse. So, they were going to fix this.
No more adults mucking about. If the covenant demanded sacrifice, well, they were going at it with their eyes open.
Hermione and Ginny organized a meeting among the Hogwarts Muggle-born students. Ron and Neville were tasked with explaining to their fellow classmates what was at stake. They shared with them what they had learned from their families, the blood-rites, how the covenant worked and the sacrifices that would be asked of them for generations to come.
They were not all eager on crossing the channel and engaging children they had once looked on as enemies.
Hermione had been right in saying they were a prideful lot. It was only when they finally realized that they could lose their adoptive home and be cast away from the world they had fought and bled for that they decided to travel overseas and talk to the pure-blood children who were now studying across Europe and convince them to return.
This generation had carried the burden of the war against Voldemort and were no longer innocent children. They would not allow themselves to be cast aside and allow grown-ups to muddle through trying to find a solution. They would talk to their peers as equals and, one way or another, form a better world.
Hermione helped by creating scripts about what they could talk about, which had been jokingly referred to as cheat sheets, and warned them against hexing the ex-Hogwarts students.
They were going to get this right. They didn't almost all die just to lose everything.
At first, they Floo'd to Beauxbatons, Baccheta and Durmstrang and the talks lasted ten minutes. The next visit an hour.
After the visits, the Muggle-born students would meet-up at the Burrow. They had not expected to become interested in a world outside their homeland and to look forward to those discussions with those who had once been their classmates and, at times, enemies.
Over time, the visits changed. Sometimes Dumbledore's Army stayed to discuss just inconsequential things as the weather or the Quidditch Cup. Other times, the pure-bloods would ask about their parents, if Hogwart students had heard about them and if they were all right in Azkaban. The pure-blood students also talked about school subjects they had never learned at Hogwarts.
During a visit to Durmstrang the visiting Gryffindors had expressed an interest in the tale of the an immortal warrior living in the Ukraine and who originated from the East and was rumoured to be one of the seven samurai, originator of the wizard sword fighting rules.
Hermione and several Hufflepuffs had found themselves listening eagerly, when, during one of their visits to Baccheta, the pure-blood students there shared their class lesson about the language of spells. It was not magic's affinity with dead languages that made a spell powerful but it was the intent of the caster and sometimes where they stood on Earth in accordance to the planets.
The Ravenclaws took to bringing their notebooks along their visits to Beauxbatons as it was there were they learned how Apparition and the Patronus Charm came to be. At Hogwarts, they had never learned that the Patronus Charm originated amongst the native America tribes of the Pacific Coast, where one would go into a sweat lodge to discover their spirit animal. Nor had they ever been informed how the lost tribe of the Anasazi, referred to as the ancient ones, had created the Apparition spell.
The Muggle-born students slowly realized that they were all just kids, caught up in this stupid adult game.
So sod them all.
Draco, you poor excuse for a wizard, when are you coming back?
It might not have been Harry's most eloquent owl post but he'd been waiting impatiently for Draco to contact him.
He was also upset, that all his friends had been invited to visit the ex-Hogwarts students on trips outside of their school and Harry, aside from the Court us owl post, had yet to hear back from the prat who has started it all.
Malfoy, stop pissing around.
Harry looked down at what he'd written. Okay, maybe this was not the way to get Draco to pay him any attention but it did not seem fair that his friends were out there having a great adventure while Harry waited at the Burrow. Forgotten.
He was glad he had crumpled the paper when he received Draco's owl post.
Potter, has anyone ever told you, you're completely off your trolley? Good thing I know Gryffindork speech, so yeah, I grant your request for a visit. Git.
Harry laughed at the message.
Harry met Draco and a group of ex-Hogwarts students in the outskirts of Beauxbatons. They had portkey to a preschool and picked up several of its students.
He was surprise when he found himself enjoying the trip through Muggle Paris. Like a general leading his army, Draco efficiently directed his group through the crowded streets of this French capital. Young wizard children pressed their noses to window shops, intrigued at what they found inside.
"Why are you doing this?" Harry ventured to ask. They were in a playground, sitting on a bench, enjoying the clear sun-filled day. Some of the younger kids were trying to figure out how to use the monkey bars. Others were buying sweets from the street vendors.
"What do you see around you?" Draco asked him. A small black-haired child had fallen asleep on Draco's lap.
Harry hesitated, wondering if this was a trick question. "Um...kids in a park."
Draco smiled as if pleased by Harry's answer. "Right. Kids in a park."
Harry watched him closely, as if seeing Draco for the very first time.
Draco returned Harry's regard. They broke eye contact when the little boy in Draco's arms shifted in his sleep. "Shh..." Draco murmured before turning to Harry to explain. "Somewhere along the way, we've forgotten how to be kids."
Harry nodded, remembering how at the start of the trip he'd been greeted by solemn children, who were now laughing and running around the playground.
"But why Muggle Paris?" Harry was intrigued by this change in Draco from a spoiled boy to...a mother hen, not that he'd ever say that aloud for Draco might just hex his balls.
"Quite a few of them have had Muggles either killed or tortured in front of them." Draco reached to adjust the little boy's hat, making sure it covered his sleeping face from the sun. "Your last memory of a Muggle should not be of them covered in blood."
Harry could not quite suppress his surprise. He had never thought about that, yet Draco had. He had taken the time to care not only for the physical but emotional state of his young charges.
In Slytherin you'll make real friends. Those cunning folks use any means to achieve their end, the Hat had once sung. Only now, Harry understood the message in the song.
"You really care about all these kids."
Draco glanced over at Harry. "Yes," his expression softened. "I promised Professor Snape I would."
But even Harry could see this was more than just a promise a student had made to a favourite teacher.
"So, who's the little imp?" Harry had been surprised when some of the pre-school kids they had picked up had clamoured around Draco.
Draco chuckled. "Caspian Herbett Witte." He rested his chin on top of the boy's head.
“You’re related?” Harry ventured to guess.
“All pure-bloods are in one form or another.” As if guessing that Harry wanted more information, he continued, “I’m his guardian.”
“Oh,” Harry had not expected that.
“You have a problem with this?”
Harry shook his head. Hermione had mentioned something about how those pure-blood children left orphan had been adopted by their older classmates. The fear among the survivors had been that the orphan children would be placed in a Muggle orphanage.
The little boy again moved. Blue eyes suddenly peered from underneath the hat. “Dwaco?”
Cas's hat fell off as he sat up and rubbed his eyes. He blinked a few times at Harry, yawned and then turned to face the playground.
Harry knew the instance the child had truly awoken by the way he perked up and waved to his friends. The boy sent them both an impish grin before he eagerly got down from Draco’s lap to join the other children.
“We’ll need to start heading back soon.”
“Can I…” When Harry had been invited on this school trip, he’d not known what to expect. Even now, it seemed surreal.
“Yes?” Draco asked, moving slightly so he could stare at Harry but still keep an eye out on his charges.
Harry looked over the children playing in front of him. They were just kids like him, except here they had a second chance.
“You’re not coming back, aren’t you?” How could Britain compete with this?
Neither of them said anything, then Draco got up and placed his hand on Harry’s shoulder. “We don’t know.” He went to collect the kids.
Harry wondered if his friends had had better success than he, in convincing the pure-bloods to return. He doubted it.
They exchanged a few more owl post in-between Harry’s visits. If it weren’t for the fact their world was in jeopardy Harry would have enjoyed these visits more. As for his relationship with Draco, they seemed to have come to an agreement of sort.
He couldn’t say they were friends, for Draco was not like Ron or Hermione. He just knew they were something, still unexplained and new. Something that only made sense to both of them.
Look, you poncy albino, we need you lot back in Britain.
Things were becoming more dire, and he wished they would just make a decision and put Harry out of his misery. Would Draco return or would he stay in France?
It's not that simple. You want our blood, you bloody vampyres. We've seen enough of that to last our bleeding lives. We don't want false promises, Potter.
Oh, and when I said courting, I didn't mean me.
Upon receiving that owl-post Harry had blushed and had spent the rest of day on his broom, flying somewhat aimlessly, trying to run from an image of a teasing Draco.
They all thought they would have a bit more time, but, like everything in life, it all went belly up.
One Tuesday, they lost St. Mungo's; the next Thursday, Gringotts; and by the beginning of the following week, the offices that housed the Department of Mystery disappeared.
"No word?" Remaining Order members met at Kingsley's Interim-Ministry of Magic office. They had even invited the trio.
"We need to start planning for the evacuation of the remaining families. We've had discussions with our European counterparts and they are willing to accept some of our families." Kingsley had hoped to give them better news.
"Some?" asked Arthur.
"Pure-bloods mostly. Muggle-borns will be decided on a case-by-case basis," Kingsley confirmed.
"We can't accept that," interrupted Harry.
"Those who aren't provided asylum will be Obliviated."
Minerva sat down in shock. "Kingsley, that can't..."
"Either you are a wizard who has access to our world or you're a wizard who does not." Kingsley had hoped they would have been able to find another solution but they had run out of time.
"That's unacceptable," said Hermione.
"Ms. Granger, the communities are unwilling to absorb a large exodus of British wizards."
"But they accepted pure-bloods," Minerva countered.
"They are accepted because they strengthen the covenant that exists in their own communities."
Ron jaw dropped. "That's bull!"
"Be that as it may, Mr. Weasley, they will not risk what has happened to us to happen to them. We are asking them not only to absorb Muggle-born from their own area but also to absorb ours. They pick whom they accept on a case-by-case basis. They will not change the rules to accommodate us."
"Families like the Weasleys, who have failed in the past to contribute, will be accepted on a trial basis."
"What does that mean?" asked Minerva.
"Their children will be tested," Kinsley told her. "Laws enacted against Veela, Giants, Mermaids, Werewolves, Vampyres and other magical creatures will be abolished. Families accepted may not leave their communities for at least two generations."
"It's a prison!" shouted Hermione.
"I don't believe many would call living in France, Germany, or Italy a prison," answered Kinsgley.
Even if only pockets of our world remain, it is important enough to save.
Come back, please
The ex-Hogwarts students had agreed to meet in Zabini’s lakehouse property in Venice. They had been arguing for the past few days.
It had not as though they had actually wanted to leave Britain, but now that they had and that a few months had passed, the decision before was one that was threatening to split the group.
Here, in their new schools, they’ve been offered a second chance. To begin their lives without having to carry the burden of their parents' sins or be made to feel ashamed for the magic that Flooded through their veins. Then there was the group who wished to go home, to the comfort of the familiar, to parents, who even though in Azkaban were still parents after all.
Deals were made. Friendships tested.
They were pure of blood, and Draco, as he glanced across the room, could see the magical bonds each student had with the other.
If only half of them returned, the burden of the covenant would be too great, its demands too encompassing. They might as well become elves.
But if they stayed, while they would be provided with a new start, there was no guarantee that their magic would take root in this new land.
Apart they were weakened; only together would they all survive.
Draco held up his wand and let the tip flash stars to catch everyone’s attention.
Was this what Professor Snape had felt as he prepared his students for war? If he had been here, he would have barked at them for their stupidity, and grouchingly given them a nod of approval. Draco missed him far more than he missed his father.
Draco took a deep breath, raised his head. It was time to decide.
I always knew you were a bit dim.
Listen up. We have decided to return but certain conditions must be met. If they aren't, well...
You and the others will probably not like them, but this is the best we can offer.
Now stop being a chump.
Draco was the first to return. Harry met him at the Apparition point, just outside the Ministry building.
“You’re here.” Harry felt like grinning except for the blank gaze reflected off Draco’s face.
As they entered the building, they were met with Aurors, who nodded their heads at them in respect. Neither said a word, not even when they were met by Kingsley, the Interim- Minister of Magic.
They walked to a part of the building Harry had never seen; the Department of Magical Records that recorded each birth, death, marriage and contracts between magical creatures, wizards and all those who lived upon this great land.
As they travelled through the building they had gathered a following as if all wanted to bear witness.
There, in the middle of the room, on a wooden stand, sat a book. It was closed but Harry could see that it was quite old.
Taking a deep breath, Draco stepped forth and opened it.
“What is that thing?” whispered Harry to Kingsley.
“It contains the names of all the wizards past and present.”
Draco seemed to be looking for his name and upon finding it, he took out his wand then murmured a spell that made a cut along his wrist, deep enough for him to bleed and have it spill onto the book. As he bleed into the book he solemnly proclaimed, “I, Draco Malfoy, give thee my magic to protect my home, my family, and the community to which I belong. I give thee my blood, the source of my power. I pledge thee my life and that of my children be they of my loins or those whom I protect. I enter into a covenant with you.”
A light glowed forth from the book and encompassed Draco.
Once it was over, he turned to all those who watched and said, “They’ll come.”
Bit by bit, the pure-blood families who had left began returning to Britain. Only a few members, however, as though testing their welcome before allowing their most vulnerable members back.
At the end of the day their demand was simple; the burden of protecting wizards from the rest of the Muggle world had to be shared by all members of the community. From now on, Muggle-borns would be welcomed into the wizard society on a case-by-case basis.
Those Muggle-born children who did not make the cut would be turned into squibs and allowed to live a normal life among Muggles.
It seemed cruel to the survivors of the war, but as parts of their community began to reappear, and as Muggle-born wizards began the process of having their magic catalogued to become part of the wizard society, they began to appreciate the sacrifice that had been demanded of those pure-blood families.
The toughest decision was to abandon Hogwarts.
"It's my home," Harry said helplessly.
"Harry, there are parts of Britain were magic doesn't work. Too much blood has been spilt. Just a few days ago, Zabini and Worthington took the kids out on a school trip through Muggle London and Manchester, and there were patches where it felt as though they were walking blind. Whatever happened there destroyed magic. Hogwarts is the same." There was no denying Draco's gentle tone.
Harry closed his eyes, his hands clenching into fist. He let his head hang for a moment, then lifted it to face Draco."But it's Hogwarts." There was no hiding the wistfulness of Harry's voice.
"And people were tortured there. It would take much of our magic to clean and erase all the evil that occurred there. Not just from what Voldemort did but from what was allowed to fester which allowed Voldemort to rise. The envy and pettiness. The divisions between the Houses. We can't lose another generation of wizards to it." Smiling now, Draco added, "You'll love it at Beauxbatons. There aren't any favourites. You do good, that's all that matters."
Harry took a deep breath."You'll be there?" he asked. There was a glint in his eye.
"Yes. I'll be there."
Harry took one of Draco's hands in his. "So, this is where you tell me to piss off."
Draco laughed, as if relieved. "No, you pansy. This is where I tell you to stop chatting me up and just kiss me already."
"Slytherin," Harry affectionately called him.
Draco's answering smile was relieved. "Gryffindork."
So, it wasn't a perfect ending but it was the kind of beginning Harry could live with.