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:: :: :: :: ::
Tuesday, 16 March, 2004
“He's waking up!”
Draco squinted at the blurry faces floating above him and blinked his eyes a few times.
“Go get the Aurors, quickly!” It was Hermione's voice.
“Am I being arrested again?” he asked, his tongue stumbling over the words.
“It's all right, Draco, don't worry.” That was Manny, and the hand that stroked his arm seemed to belong to Manny as well.
“Right,” Draco said, and coughed. His mouth was horribly dry. He tried to sit up, and realized he was in a bed. “Where am I?”
“At St. Mungo's,” Hermione said. “You were the last to awaken, and we were worried.”
“How long was I–?”
“More than 12 hours,” Manny said, smiling at him. “You're up just in time for lunch.”
“Just overnight?” Draco asked, surprised. It felt like he'd been out for weeks.
And everything washed over him then – the memories, everything that had happened. Especially–
“Where's Harry?” His eyes were starting to focus, and he stared wildly around the room, looking for him.
“He's fine,” Hermione said, her voice hushed and calm. “He woke up a few hours ago.”
Draco stilled at the concerned look on her face. “What is it? What's wrong?”
Hermione glanced at the door and leaned forward. “They don't want you to see or talk to anyone else who was involved with the incident. There's going to be a commission and you have to testify–”
“I'm not joking. And I'm sorry, but–”
The door opened and Hermione sprang away from the bed. Manny stepped back as well, though not with as much haste. A stern-looking witch entered the room and stopped by his bed, looking down her long nose at him.
“Good to see you're awake, Mr. Malfoy. I assume you'll be feeling well enough to testify before the commission tomorrow?”
Draco frowned. “I'm not agreeing to anything until I've been told what's going on.”
The witch looked tired at this. “Mr. Malfoy, please remember that you recently escaped custody after being arrested for murder. You are hardly in a position to make demands.”
A murder I didn't commit, Draco thought. Relief spread through him, tangibly warm, and he smiled.
The witch gave him an odd look. She straightened her shoulders and pulled a piece of parchment from the pocket of her robe and unfolded it. “An investigative commission has been charged by the Minister for Magic himself to investigate the incident that occurred on the ninth of February 2001 at the secondary residence of Lucius Malfoy, and to ascertain the relevance of any new information recently recovered to said incident.” She looked up. “In other words, we want you to tell us what you now remember, in a hearing, under veritaserum.”
“And I don't have a choice, I suppose?”
“No, Mr. Malfoy. I'm afraid you don't.”
Draco scowled at the door after she'd left. “How much detail are they expecting, anyway?” he asked. There were certain parts of his newly-recovered memory that he'd like to keep private. Others, he'd be happy to shout to the rooftops.
The Auror who'd stationed himself by the door coughed, and Hermione bit her lip.
“You aren't supposed to talk about it at all until the commission tomorrow.”
“And why a special commission? Why aren't we going before the Wizengamot?”
“Politics,” Hermione replied, one eyebrow raised. “Fallin is the only one who could deny the Wizengamot the right to hear your testimony. Perhaps he thinks you know something that would incriminate him.”
“Visiting hours are over,” the Auror said, looking stern.
Hermione looked thoroughly annoyed. She took Draco's hand and squeezed it. “We'll see you tomorrow, all right? Harry said to tell you–” The Auror coughed again, and Hermione grimaced. “Well… goodbye for now.”
Manny winked at him and followed her out the door, leaving Draco alone with the grim-faced Auror.
:: :: :: :: ::
It was good to have a chance to catch up on his sleep, he told himself later that day. He hadn't been sleeping well for weeks, ever since he'd arrived in London , and he was more tired than he'd realized.
But when he slept, he dreamed – he relived things that had happened in the past with varying degrees of detail, sometimes with endings that differed from reality. Each dream jolted him awake, leaving him confused and worried. What if he didn't get it right? Would they know? And even though they'd cast the counterspell to perfidio, would they be able to talk about what they'd done? After everything he'd been through – even though he now knew he hadn't committed the murder he'd been charged with – what if there was still something he'd done that he could be sent to prison for?
A thought flooded his mind, one that frightened him more than any other: I killed Voldemort.
He didn't want to have been the one who did that. He squeezed his eyes shut at the very thought. After everything that had happened, he wanted nothing more than to run away with Harry and start a new life, something far away from the past and present. If Harry still wanted him, of course.
Draco sighed and rubbed his forehead with one hand, chastising himself for his insecurity. Of course Harry wanted him – they'd found each other twice, hadn't they? And Hermione and Harry had been right about him – he wasn't the one who had killed Ron. Even though the pain of Weasley's consciousness being ripped away from his own was still fresh in his mind, Draco felt a stab of fear that the memory wasn't real. What if his and Harry's memories didn't match? Would they believe him?
He managed to fall asleep again, but a particularly nice dream about Harry and a sofa left him awake and hard. He excused himself to the room's small toilet for a wank, but after a few minutes, the Auror, a pudgy man called Dermond, knocked on the door to ask why he was taking so long. It killed the mood completely.
Dermond played solitaire snap in his chair by the door for the rest of the evening, and Draco pulled the hospital sheets over his head, wishing tomorrow would come more quickly.
:: :: :: :: ::
Wednesday, 17 March, 2004
The Auror who relieved Dermond was a petite woman some ten years older than Draco. She smiled tightly at him as soon as Dermond left the room and held out a vial of clear liquid.
“Veritaserum,” she told him. “You're to take it before we leave.”
“When are we leaving?” Draco asked, yawning.
“As soon as you take it,” she replied with a wink.
They apparated from St. Mungo's directly to the room where the commission was to be held. It was small and windowless, and could have been anywhere in the country for all Draco knew. Draco and his Auror were the first to arrive, and for a few minutes, Draco wondered if his testimony would be solitary.
Others began to arrive, though – a few people who seemed to be Commissioners by dress; Cho Chang, who saw Draco and paled immediately; Severus Snape; his father, who was accompanied by two stern-looking Aurors; Director Bass of the Investigative Services office; and finally Harry, who was accompanied by Hermione and yet another Auror.
Harry's eyes met Draco's the instant he appeared across the room, but the Auror accompanying him caught his arm and steered him in the other direction. Hermione gave him a smile.
The sharp-faced woman who'd visited him in St. Mungo's the day before entered the room, dressed in formal robes. She sat between the other Ministry wizards on the dais.
“Hazel, if you please,” she said, turning to look at a witch in the corner of the room. The young woman produced a roll of parchment and a dictation quill and set the quill to work recording the proceedings. The Commissioner nodded her head in approval and turned back to face the rest of the room's occupants, who were seated in a semi-circle. “Will the Aurors for each witness come forward?”
The Aurors stood and congregated around the Commissioner and her colleagues, giving Draco a chance to look across the room at Harry. Harry looked back at him, and they just stared at each other for several seconds. When Draco smiled, Harry returned it, and Draco felt better than he had in days.
The Commissioner cleared her throat, and the Aurors dispersed, leaving the room through a door at the back. They were alone with the Commission. “Now that we have verified the administration of veritaserum to all witnesses, we are ready to begin,” the Commissioner said. “My name is Gwenog Horton, and I have been appointed to chair this Commission by the Minister for Magic.” She gestured to the men seated on either side of her. “My colleagues Mr. Pritchard and Mr. Warbeck will be assisting me in this endeavor. You are hereby advised that any testimony you provide today may be used against you should you be indicted for a crime.”
Draco suppressed the urge to scowl. It was typical for the Ministry of Magic to advise them of this after forcing them to take veritaserum.
“I will be questioning you in order to obtain a chronological account of what happened at the residence of Mr. Lucius Malfoy on the ninth of February, 2001 . The details of events discussed here will remain classified information and are not to be revealed to anyone outside these proceedings without the explicit permission of this Commission.” She gave them all a stern look.
The questioning began with Lucius, who was asked to recount the events that led him to plot against Lord Voldemort. Lucius described the Dark Lord's inexplicable decline, his own charge to search for the cause, and his ultimate realization that Voldemort was a detriment to the fight Lucius had been faithful to his entire life.
“When I left Azkaban, I should have found a way to leave my Lord's service,” he said. “But I was afraid. The Dark Lord was angry that I was unable to discover the reason for his deterioration, and his punishment was to inflict a similar fate on my wife. Severus and another trusted friend had worked with me, but I was the one who was blamed for our failure.” He paused for a moment. “She wasted away, and nothing would convince the Dark Lord to remove the curse or even to ease her suffering.”
Across the room, Draco wrapped his arms around himself, trying to keep his regrets at bay.
Lucius went on to explain how he had gathered together a group of men he trusted, others who had suffered at the Dark Lord's hand despite their loyalty. At that point, the Commissioner turned to Snape.
Draco had rarely seen the Headmaster looking more annoyed than he did at the moment. Draco imagined he would rather be anywhere than here, forced to testify in the presence of these people, and on a school day, no less.
“Lucius was not the only one who was punished for that failure,” Snape said, his voice clipped. “But that is beside the point. After Narcissa died, he was determined to have his revenge. He began to conspire, to gather others to him, and he was certain to fail. I was the one who advised him to approach the Ministry of Magic for assistance.”
“And why did you make that suggestion?” the Commissioner asked.
Snape's eyes narrowed. “There was little chance for success had he acted alone. I know how difficult it can be to deceive someone as powerful as…” Snape seemed to stop himself, and paused before continuing. “Cooperation with the authorities was a more promising route than the one he had planned.”
The questioning moved back and forth between them, revealing Lucius's discomfort with overthrowing the Dark Lord outright – he wanted to assume leadership of the remaining Death Eaters, something he could only do if they thought the Dark Lord had vanished and left Lucius in control – and revealing that it had been Snape's idea that the Ministry bring Harry into the picture.
“Potter was the only Auror who could work with Lucius in such a way,” Snape said. “And I knew he would kill the Dark Lord in the end, which was best for all concerned.”
Lucius's face hardened, but he did not respond.
“You knew this?” the Commissioner asked.
“Yes,” Snape said. “Unfortunately, I am rather familiar with Mr. Potter's disregard for direction from others when he has his own plan for proceeding. And it was common knowledge that he regarded killing Lord Voldemort as his destiny.” The last was spoken with a more than a bit of sarcasm, and Draco was surprised to see Harry smile in response.
The questioning moved on to Harry, whose explanation of how he had become involved overlapped with Snape's and Lucius's stories. “They were suspicious from the start, but I assumed Snape knew that I would never agree to anything less than destroying Voldemort. They insisted that one of their own work with my team, and I resisted as long as I could.” He cast a quick glance at Draco. “And then Ron suggested Draco. We knew he'd gone off to work in America , and we figured he'd be hard to convince, that he wouldn't want to work with us. We thought it would buy us some time, at the very least.”
“I was reluctant to bring Draco in,” Lucius said. There was a stiffness to his voice that hadn't been there the first time he'd spoken. “I had some difficulty finding him, as he was working undercover. But Severus had pointed out that I ought to be able to trust my own son.” He paused to glare at Draco. “I assumed that I knew where his loyalties lay.”
The Commissioner turned to Draco then, and he told his own story of working with Harry and Ron, of becoming aware that they weren't including him in their plan, and began to talk rather openly about his developing relationship with Harry before the Commissioner cut him off. The veritaserum was a tingling buzz at the back of Draco's head, pushing against his inhibitions. He'd once been trained to resist that tendency to tell more than he had been asked while under its influence, but he was long out of practice. He blushed and glanced at Harry, but Harry was being questioned again.
Commissioner Horton wove their testimonies together with remarkable skill, turning to each to pick up where the other left off. Draco became very self-conscious when they reached the point in the story when Cho had appeared. To his relief, Horton avoided questioning them further about such prurient details.
She was, however, interested in Harry's disappearances in the weeks prior to the incident. “Mr. Potter, were these illicit activities of yours in any way related to the physical and mental decline of Lord Voldemort?”
Harry did not seem surprised by the question. He avoided her gaze and appeared to be concentrating very hard to resist the impulse to answer.
“Mr. Potter,” she said again, watching him with a thoughtful expression on her face. “You have been asked a question.”
“I have the right to refuse to answer,” he replied.
Draco glanced at the others in the room – all seemed surprised by this turn of events. All but Hermione, who was studying her fingernails intently, and Snape, who was staring at Harry with an expression of suspicion.
“If you are able to resist the veritaserum, yes, you do,” Horton replied. “And I have the right to charge you with contempt for it.”
“I understand,” Harry said. It sounded as if he were gritting his teeth.
The Commissioner glanced at the men on either side of her, and they shrugged. This was clearly a question she wanted answered, and it was one Draco found himself intensely curious about as well. Had Harry been the cause of the Dark Lord's decline all along?
“I made a promise,” he said when she asked him a third time to explain. “And I won't break it.” Harry turned his gaze to Horton's face, and they stared at each other.
“Very well,” she said at last, and sniffed before turning back to Draco. “Then let us discuss the attack on Diagon Alley.”
:: :: :: :: ::
Four hours later, they had finally reached the moment Draco knew everyone in the room had been waiting for. The tension was palpable, and he didn't dare look at his father.
“And Draco was immobilized,” Harry said. He looked exhausted, as if he'd been struggling against the veritaserum the entire time. “Voldemort knew it had been a trap, and he performed Legilimancy on me in an effort to learn more. He realized we weren't alone, and that Ron was there in the room.” Harry paused, suddenly pale, and Hermione reached over to take his hand.
Draco was glad she had been allowed to attend, and that she could sit with Harry now. “He baited Ron,” Draco said, picking up the story when it was clear Harry couldn't continue. “Harry was defenseless at that point, and I was immobilized, and Ron… I'm sure he thought it was the only option. The Dark Lord cast the killing curse so quickly, and with such ease.” He didn't look at Hermione – he couldn't bear to do.
The room was silent, and Draco paused to glance at his father. Lucius was pale, with a strained expression on his face. Cho Chang's face was in her hands, and Draco couldn't see her expression at all.
“What happened next?” Horton prompted.
“I thought it was over,” Harry said. “I thought we were all dead, but Draco broke through the immobilus somehow, and…” He turned to look at Draco with an expression of amazement on his face, as if he'd just remembered all of this.
“I don't know how it happened,” Draco said. “I suspect it was an effect of the perfidio spell, but I was free, and the Dark Lord was…” he swallowed. “So I killed him.” There were a series of gasps in the room, and Draco kept his eyes on the Commissioner's face. “And it was over. We hid the body under the floor, and then I passed out. I don't remember anything more.”
“Mr. Potter?” Horton asked, turning to him. Harry nodded in response, concurring with Draco's testimony. Horton turned to Lucius. “Mr. Malfoy, what happened next?”
Lucius seemed unable to speak for a moment, but he finally cleared his throat and sat higher in his chair. “I was upstairs with Bellatrix Lestrange. Severus and a few others arrived, and we waited. We all began to grow anxious, and it became impossible to distract Bellatrix any longer. I took them down to the chamber.” He paused and took a deep breath. “There were three bodies on the floor, and no sign of the Dark Lord. We soon realized that only Weasley was dead, but we could not discern what had happened to Draco or to Potter. We assumed the Dark Lord had escaped.”
“Lestrange fled the scene,” Snape said, looking more interested in the proceedings than he had done all day. “I sent word to the Ministry that something had gone wrong, and Aurors were dispatched to the location.” He turned to look at Cho, who was staring stony-faced at the floor before her.
“Ms. Chang?” Horton asked. “I understand you were one of the first Aurors on the scene.”
She nodded and pursed her lips. “I hadn't known about the plan to trap Voldemort prior to that night. I knew Harry was working on something classified, but many of us were. It was a difficult time for me personally because…” She frowned, apparently trying to restrain herself from speaking too freely. “I led the team that collected the forensic evidence at the site. Harry had been beaten, and there were marks on Draco's hands that indicated he had likely done it. I tested the wands, and Draco's was the only one that had cast the killing curse.” She paused and looked up at the Commissioner. “I had reason to believe at that point that Draco had lured Harry into a trap, intending to hand him over to Voldemort. My questioning of Lucius Malfoy and later, Bellatrix Lestrange, only reinforced this theory. The evidence pointed to Draco Malfoy as the murderer of Ron Weasley.”
“You didn't consider the fact that Lord Voldemort had been present in the room?” Horton asked.
“But why would Harry have been left alive?” she asked, a tinge of desperation in her voice. “It was Harry he wanted to kill. Harry was the reason he was there that night in the first place. The most reasonable explanation at the time was that Draco had been working for Voldemort all along, and that he hadn't known Ron was there. And when Ron interfered, Draco–” She paused and took a deep breath before continuing. “I theorized at the time that Draco had engaged Harry in order to let the Dark Lord escape. You can read my report – it's still classified.”
“I also did not know what had happened,” Lucius interjected. “There was no reason not to believe the Dark Lord had escaped. Draco had been elusive all along, and when Ms. Chang suggested he might have betrayed us all, I found the idea quite convincing. And I will admit that I felt a bit of admiration for my son as well.” He frowned, as if he would rather not have said that.
“Why wasn't Draco arrested for the crime?”
Lucius glanced at Cho before continuing. “He was to be arrested, but when he finally awoke a few days later, he remembered nothing that had happened. I was told that Mr. Potter remembered nothing either, and I realized I had an opportunity. There had been no sign of the Dark Lord, and so I suspected Potter's team had succeeded in trapping him somehow. I decided to proceed with the original plan.”
Director Bass cleared his throat, and everyone turned to look at him. “Mr. Malfoy approached my office with an intriguing proposal. He assured me that the Dark Lord was incapacitated, and that he alone could keep him that way. He knew enough of the details of Harry Potter's mysterious ordeal that I was convinced he was telling the truth. He wanted us to keep the Dark Lord's disappearance a secret and assured that in return, there would be no further trouble from Death Eaters. No more attacks such as the horrible one in Diagon Alley. The War would effectively be over.”
“An arrangement was made,” Lucius continued. “I took Draco back to New York to where I had found him, and obliviated the details of the days since he'd awakened from his mind, so he would have no memory of having been away at all.”
“Under Fallin's orders, the smothering spell was established,” Bass said. “I saw to it personally.”
“And I was moved into another division,” Cho added, her voice barely more than a whisper. “I was told of the new arrangement, and was assured it was critical to provide stability and security for our society. And I…” She paused, and swallowed. “I was assigned to keep an eye on Harry, to make certain he didn't remember what had happened.”
Draco glanced at Harry, who had dropped Hermione's hand. “You were assigned to me?” he asked.
Cho looked to be struggling not to cry. “I had no choice. And afterwards, you didn't remember Draco. You were so sweet and caring, and I–” She looked up at him, her eyes bright. “It was easy to forget that you had left me for him, for a while. And I just had to make sure you stayed under the influence of the smothering spell.”
“You convinced me to work at the IS and leave the field,” Harry said, staring at her.
“I thought I was doing the right thing, at the time. I thought Draco had seduced you and lured you into a trap for Voldemort. I've thought it for three years now! Forgive me if it's a bit difficult to realize it was all a lie.”
“A lie you helped create,” Harry retorted. “Did you ever love me? Were you even pregnant, or was that a lie as well?”
Cho gaped at him. “How dare you! After what you did to me, after what I've been through, how dare you suggest–”
“Hang on,” Harry said, his voice strained. “You lied to me. You manipulated me. God, you even got me to marry you!”
“You wanted it, Harry,” she replied, her lip trembling. “You were the one who insisted we could make it work, even after the miscarriage. I left you three times, and every time you begged me to come back. Have you any idea what it was like for me, knowing that you had pushed me aside for him, but not being able to be angry at you about it because you couldn't remember? To have it be my job to make certain you never did?”
“Oh, do shut up,” Draco groaned, unable to stand it any longer. Cho turned to look at him, and Draco scowled at her. “Your messy little divorce doesn't need to be on the record, you know. Yell at each other in private like normal folk and spare the rest of us.”
Cho looked away and said nothing more. Draco couldn't bring himself to look at Harry – he knew Harry wasn't in love with Cho, but the intensity of his emotion towards her made Draco uneasy.
Commissioner Horton cleared her throat. “I believe we are finished here. May the record note the alleged location of the remains of Voldemort. As head of this commission, I will issue an order to have them excavated. Meanwhile, I see no reason why Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy should not be released from custody.” She turned to Lucius and her eyes narrowed. “You, on the other hand, will still answer to charges of abuse of Muggles, Mr. Malfoy. You will remain in custody until a hearing can be arranged.”
Lucius scowled in response. Draco exchanged a glance with Hermione, who shrugged.
“The Commission will prepare a report based on this testimony, and the Minister for Magic will decide which details will be revealed to the public and how. Until then, you have been sworn to secrecy.” She stood, towering above them on the dais. “This hearing is adjourned.”
The Commissioners stood and filed out of the room. Another door opened, and Aurors entered to escort Lucius out. He straightened his robes as they approached, and did not look at Draco.
Snape gave Draco a curt nod before leaving, and Director Bass patted him on the shoulder as he passed. Cho lingered for a moment, as if she were hoping to speak with Harry, but he didn't acknowledge her at all. She sighed and left, closing the door of the hearing room behind her.
Harry was standing by the chair he'd occupied all day, staring at Draco as if he weren't sure what to do or say. Hermione gave him a small push. “Just go and kiss him,” she said.
Harry grinned, and a moment later, Draco found himself being quite thoroughly kissed.
:: :: :: :: ::
Saturday, 20 March, 2004
Draco stretched under the duvet, not yet wanting to be awake. The smell of coffee permeated the air, but he was warm and comfortable.
“Coffee?” he heard, and opened his eyes. Harry was standing by the bed, holding a steaming cup and smiling at him.
“No,” Draco groaned and pulled the duvet over his head. A cold hand wormed its way underneath and pressed against his stomach, and he yelped. He heard the distinct clink of the mug being placed on the bedside table, and then felt the bed dip as Harry slid under the duvet and pressed up against him*.
“I'll just tell them we can't come,” he said, trailing his lips down Draco's throat. “They'll understand.”
Draco sighed. Brunch at Hermione's house with Manny and his mum, and the children – he'd forgotten already. “No, we have to go. I'm getting up.” Harry's cold hand slid down a bit further, and Draco smiled. “I meant getting out of bed, actually.”
“We've got time,” Harry whispered, stroking his cock slowly.
“Aren't you sore after last night?” Draco asked. “And the night before that?”
“Not anymore,” Harry replied, leaning over to kiss him. “That spell works wonders. Besides, we have three years to make up for.”
Draco smiled at him. “I suppose we do.”
“And I was also thinking,” Harry began, then paused to kiss him, “that three years is quite a long time to have been dating.”
“Mmmm, yes,” Draco replied.
“So if you still want to move in–”
“I already have, in case you haven't noticed,” Draco said against his lips. “I haven't left your bedroom for two days. I just haven't brought my stuff over yet.”
Harry smiled at him and propped himself up on one elbow. “Really?”
“Yes, really. There's no getting rid of me now. But we're going to have to discuss this horrid décor, you know.” He closed his eyes, enjoying the feeling of Harry's fingers on his prick.
“It was all Cho's decorating anyway. I'm a bit tired of looking at it.”
“Are you still angry at her?”
“Yes, but…” Harry's hand stopped moving, and he stretched out beside Draco. “It's complicated. I feel a bit sorry for her. It was a horrible situation all around. And the thing is, it was partly my fault. I was so empty after Ron died, and I wanted to be in a relationship in a way I'd never done before. I pursued her, no matter how much she resisted. I've always thought it was a reaction to Ron's death, but…” He turned onto his side to face Draco. “I think now it was that I missed you. I just didn't know it.”
Draco curled around him, pressing his forehead into Harry's shoulder. They were silent for nearly a minute. “Things were quite weird for me when I returned to New York . I was desperately lonely, and I stopped going out with my friends. I lost all interest in clubbing and picking up boys. I had no idea what was wrong with me.” Harry's arms around him tightened, and Draco sighed. “And that was about the time Manny and I started to get to know each other. We got serious so quickly, and it was bizarre at the time. I didn't understand it. I thought I had fallen in love with him, but… now I think I was looking for you.”
Harry kissed the top of his head. “Does he know that?”
“How could he? I don't know if I should tell him.”
“Does he need to know? He's happy with Hermione, and he knows you're happy too. Why open an old wound?”
“Yes, well… that brings up another issue.” He paused, and traced a circle with one finger against Harry's stomach. “What are you going to tell Hermione about Ron?”
“I've already told her everything I could remember. But I haven't told her…” He trailed off, and Draco felt him swallow.
“That was my task. I suppose he wanted it that way.”
:: :: :: :: ::
They stepped out of the fireplace and into a lively room: Hermione was rushing about with a pot of tea, Manny was wrestling with the twins on the floor, and Guada and Molly Weasley were laughing raucously.
“Well, look who finally crawled out of bed,” Manny said, somehow managing to stand with Cally's arms wrapped around his leg.
“Good morning,” Hermione called, beaming at them. “I'll put a new pot of coffee on for you, Draco.”
“Thanks,” he said, and grinned at the scene before him. It was so unlike anything he'd experienced in his life, and yet, it was wonderful. This was a family, he thought, and one he oddly felt a part of.
Harry nudged him and nodded toward the kitchen.
“Now?” Draco asked.
“Why not? She'll appreciate it, Draco. And it's what he wanted.”
Draco nodded and crossed the small living room, having to stop once at Harley's insistence that Draco look at a picture he'd drawn. It was dark and squiggly, and it made Draco feel uneasy just to look at it.
Harley dashed away, leaving the drawing in Draco's hand, so he took it to the kitchen with him. Hermione was just pouring water into the Muggle coffee machine, and she turned to smile at him.
“He's been drawing those nonstop,” she said, glancing toward the paper in his hand.
“Does he remember anything?”
Hermione sighed and leaned against the countertop. “We aren't sure yet. He's said a few odd things here and there, but we won't know for a while. It may be that he remembers much of what Ron saw, but he can't make sense of it yet.”
“How do you feel about that?”
“I don't know,” she replied, looking uneasy. “I suppose we'll have to wait and see. The healers said they can teach him to use a pensieve in a few years, if it becomes too much.”
Draco took a deep breath, trying to work up his courage.
“How are you holding up?” she asked.
“I'll be fine. There's so much to process, and it's all a bit jumbled up in my head at the moment. The memories are very fresh, and I get a bit confused about what happened a week ago and what happened three years ago.”
“I can imagine. I think it's amazing though, that you and Harry...” She paused, as if choosing her words carefully. “That you met twice, and both times, you fell for each other.”
Draco smiled. “I suppose.” He didn't believe in fate, but he had to admit it was quite a coincidence.
“What a wonderful love story,” she said, and grinned. “You should write about it.”
“I'm a crap writer,” he replied. She laughed, and Draco reached out to take her hand. “Hermione, I…” He paused, and her expression fell, as if she knew what was coming.
“Draco–” she began. He could feel her trembling.
“I have a message for you,” he said, struggling to keep his voice steady. “From Ron.”
She closed her eyes and shook her head. “Draco, please–”
“I promised,” Draco said, unable to keep the emotion from his voice. “I promised him I would do this.”
She opened her eyes again, and a tear streaked down one cheek. She took a shaky breath and nodded.
Draco pulled her into a hug and whispered Ron's words into her ear, feeling her shake against him as he did. He said it again, and again, until his throat was so tight he couldn't get the words out any more. She sobbed against his shoulder and he held her, remembering the feeling of Ron's consciousness being ripped away from him, remembering the agony he'd felt from Harry, and the emptiness afterward. Had his father felt any of this when his mother died?
Hermione clung to him and whispered, “Thank you. Thank you for that.”
They emerged from the kitchen ten minutes later, both red-eyed, but smiling. Manny took her hand when she sat beside him, and brushed her hair out of her face.
Draco sat next to Harry on the sofa, leaning into him. Harry put an arm around him and tugged him closer.
“All these young people in love,” Molly sighed, giving Guada a knowing glance.
“That reminds me,” Manny said. “We found Colby and Heather a few days ago.”
“Really?” Harry asked. “Where?”
“At Heathrow, trying to leave the country,” Manny replied. “We brought them to the office for questioning and offered to put them up long enough for them to testify against Lucius Malfoy.”
“I wondered where the Muggle abuse charges had come from,” Draco said. “What will happen to them after that?”
“We're going to arrange a work visa for Heather so she can go to the States with Colby. They only agreed to testify on that condition – and that their memories would not be modified afterwards.”
“I can't blame them,” Draco said, shifting closer to Harry.
“But is that really wise?” Hermione asked. “What if they tell people what they know?”
Guada snorted. “Who would believe them?”
Draco grinned. “I know a witch who writes for one of the big American tabloids. Maybe I should give them her number.”
Harry clamped a hand over Draco's mouth. “No more bright ideas from you.”
“Well, I'm starving,” Hermione said, standing. She flashed them all a sheepish grin, then waved her wand at the empty table. In a swirl of color, it was filled to overflowing with more food than Draco had seen since his days at Hogwarts. “Breakfast is ready,” she said, twirling her wand in her fingers.
“What the–?” Harry said, gaping at Hermione.
She smiled at Guada, who winked back.
“Thanksgiving charm,” Manny said, standing and stretching. “Mom's an expert.”
Everyone stood and began to file over to the table, but Draco caught Harry's hand and held him back.
“What is it?” Harry asked.
“Thank you,” Draco said, squeezing his hand. “For everything. I haven't been so happy in years, and it's because of you.”
Harry smiled. “This is the calm before the storm, you know. Just wait until that Commission Report is released and the world learns you were the one to kill Voldemort.”
“Shush,” Draco hissed, glancing over at the table where everyone was shoveling food onto their plates. “I don't want anyone to know. I don't care who gets the credit, as long as it isn't me.”
“I don't want it either,” Harry replied, grinning. “But don't worry. We'll think of something.”
“I just don't want things to change. Not yet, anyway. I need some time to get used to the idea.”
“I know,” Harry said, pulling him close. “So do I. But for now, this is all I need to get used to – having you in my life every day.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Could you be a bit more sappy, please?”
“Oh, yes,” Harry replied, and said in a voice that was much louder than necessary considering the distance between them, “I love you, Draco Malfoy.”
There was a whoop and a few declarations of “aww” from across the room, and then Draco's witty retort was cut off by a kiss.
But he didn't mind. He'd get Harry back for it later – in ten years or so.
:: :: :: :: ::
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