AN: This story begins after the Battle of Hogwarts. It is NON Epilogue Compliant. It will be about friendships. It will have some romance, some non-canon relationships. This idea came to me while I was on vacation. It is different from my other stories. Chapters are being worked on, the ending is NOT written in stone yet.
May 3, 1998
Day after the Battle of Hogwarts
Boys Dorm, Gryffindor Tower
Harry Potter woke up and slowly rubbed his eyes. However he immediately regretted his actions as every muscle in his body seemed to groan in pain. Despite sleeping soundly in a warm bed with no fears of Death Eaters or of Riddle, and with no intruding thoughts or images from the truly defeated Dark Lord, his body was sore and exhausted. He rolled slowly onto his back and stared at the top of his bed for a few minutes as he considered what he had accomplished. He had actually done what he had thought he might never do. He had defeated the Dark Lord, he had survived, and the prophecy would no longer control his life. For the first time ever he finally felt free. He let out a long deep breath and enjoyed the sensation of the release of pent up tension.
As he laid in his bed contemplating his new found freedom he considered what else this would mean. Before he managed to get to bed last night he knew that the ministry had already hailed him as a hero, and that the Daily Prophet was planning to run a story, probably on today's front page, hailing him as "The Boy-Who-Conquered" or some other such tripe.
Harry wasn't sure he was ready to deal with a new round of attention. Slowly he pulled himself up and out of his bed. He managed to trudge to the bathroom and into the showers. He felt refreshed and more awake once he had managed to finish bathing and dressed himself in some fresh clothes. By the time he had managed to get himself ready Ron and the others in his dorm were also ready to join him for breakfast down in the Great Hall.
The house elves had already cleaned up the Great Hall and prepared breakfast for those who were staying at the school. Families who were still at the castle had been given rooms to stay in, the elves had converted old class rooms into dormitory style rooms. Several families would be leaving to make arrangements for loved ones who were killed during the battle, others were heading to St. Mungo's with family members who were injured and were receiving care at the hospital there as the infirmary here at the castle was clearly overwhelmed with the number of injured from the battle.
By the time Harry and his dorm mates arrived at the Great Hall many people had already arrived. When Harry walked in, everyone stopped eating. Initially they all just stared at him in silence, and then they started to applaud, and then Harry was receiving a standing ovation from then entire hall.
Harry started to feel a little embarrassed at the continued attention, but he managed to smile and wave slightly at the crowd as he followed Ron and the others to a table as they sat down to enjoy their breakfast.
Soon they were beginning to enjoy their food. Soon they were joined by Hermione and Ginny as well. Neville was sitting next to Harry on his right while Ron was on his left and the girls were sitting across from him. Luna joined them at their table as well.
"So, the ministry is calling you a hero now," commented Luna as she sat down.
"That's what I hear," said Harry as he was about to eat his breakfast.
"Well, all of the Death Eaters and the Purebloods are probably mad at him," added Ron, "probably all want revenge for what he did, taking out You-Know-Who and messing up their plans for society and all that."
Harry rolled his eyes at that comment. "Can't I ever get any rest from this?"
"You can do anything you want, Harry," said Hermione, trying to encourage him. "You always wanted to be an Auror."
Harry let out a long sigh at Hermione's words. "I think that I've had enough of chasing after the bad guys, or having the bad guys chase after me. I think that I've earned the right to rest for a while."
"But what about your N.E.W.T.s? You still need to take them to get a job," added a worried Hermione. "What are you going to live on?"
"I don't know, but I am of age," replied Harry, feeling tired with this conversation. "I may have inherited a bit more than just a trust vault after all."
"You're really going to back to Gringotts?" asked Ron incredulously.
"Don't see that I have much of a choice in the long run," said Harry, resigning himself to the inevitable confrontation he would have with the goblins.
Ron muttered under his breath, "That can't possibly end well."
Neville who had been sitting with them and listening in wondered what they were taking about returning to Gringotts. He decided he would just have to ask Harry about it later, perhaps when he returned the Sword of Gryffindor to him.
Susan Bones and Hannah Abbot had decided not stay at Hogwarts once the battle was over. With the trauma of their entire seventh year due to the abuse from the Carrows they were eager to return to the safety of Hannah's home. Susan had been spending all of her time out of school with the Abbots since the Death Eaters and Voldemort had murdered her Aunt Amelia during the war, leaving Susan as the sole remaining member of the Bones family. Officially she was now Lady Bones as she was legally of age, but with the war having only just ended she couldn't care less about her titles or the wealth which she had inherited from her family.
She was lying in her bed in the room she shared with Hannah, who had been her best friend for as long as she could remember. Susan could not even remember her parents, having been orphaned during the first war and raised by her Aunt Amelia. Tears felled her eyes as she thought about her aunt, the stern head of the DMLE who had been brought down by Voldemort during his return to prominence during the second war. "Bloody hell," she thought, "why didn't any of us listen to Harry during all those years? He never did lie to us, ever. He was right all along. He stopped Voldemort as an infant, he faced him multiple times while we were in school, but we always seemed to turn our backs on that poor boy."
Susan cried quietly in her bed as she thought about everything that happened to her, and to Harry, whom she barely knew. She even thought about how much they had in common. They both were orphaned during the war. She heard stories about how his godfather, Sirius Black, had escaped from Azkaban, but that he was really innocent, but then he died at the end of their fifth year, not long before her own Aunt Amelia was killed. All of this could be traced back to a corrupt ministry, and corrupt purebloods.
Susan was lying there and she came to a conclusion. She decided she didn't want anything to do with a corrupt magical society. Or at least she didn't want anything to do with this magical society for a while. She had enjoyed living with the Abbots, it was a comfortable home for her, but she needed to do something to get her mind off of everything that was reminding her of her Aunt, of the people that failed her parents, that failed her Aunt, that failed Harry Potter. She knew she had plenty of money, plenty of gold in her family's vaults. She made up her mind that she would move out on her own, find a place to stay, away from magical society, at least for a while.
"Now I just have to tell Hannah what I'm going to do," she thought to herself.
May 4, 1998
Great Hall, Hogwarts
In the aftermath of the Battle of Hogwarts, the wizarding world was slowing trying to pull themselves back together. Some students had already left school to return home. Muggleborns had come out of hiding. The interim Minister for Magic had already disbanded the Muggleborn Registration Committee, and Dolores Umbridge was already in a holding cell at the DMLE.
Some families had come together at Hogwarts, or at least at the remains of the village of Hogsmeade as there was plenty of work to be done for the rebuilding of both the school and the town. The DMLE itself was busy with trying to round up any of the surviving Death Eaters and any ministry employees who were linked to Voldemort's regime that had been in place during what was now being referred to by some as the Dark Captivity of the Ministry.
The house elves that had survived the battle however were ecstatic. They were busy. They had never been so busy before. They had meals to prepare for students and for families. They had so much clean up to do. They were even helping with rebuilding the castle walls. The goblins were set to arrive shortly to assist with the major reconstruction that the castle would require as well, but for now the Hogwarts house elves were just happily keeping busy doing everything they needed to do, and there was clearly plenty to do.
At one of the long tables in the Great Hall sat a group of students who were slowly eating their breakfast. The food was wonderful as usual, the war was over, but still they had little to be cheerful about, as they had lost so many friends and loved ones. Ron Weasley may have lost a brother and some friends, but he had still not lost his appetite. His girlfriend shook her head in disgust as she looked on and just moved her food around on her plate. She then looked over at the young man sitting next to him, the young man with the dark and unruly hair, and the scar on his forehead that actually seemed a little less red this morning. This young man, this Harry Potter, he too was just pushing the food around on his plate.
"Harry, you need to eat something," she chided.
Harry looked at her and her plate. "You're one to talk Hermione," he replied in a monotone.
Ginny Weasley sat next to Hermione and looked between the two os them. She was trying to think of something to say to both of them, but she couldn't find the words. She had tried talking to Harry yesterday but he seemed so distant. She had tried to get close to him, hoping that now that the war was over that their relationship would pick up right where it left off when Harry left last summer. She had been dreaming that her hero would return, and he had, and he had defeated the villain. She complained to Hermione about her frustration last night and Hermione had given her an earful. At first Ginny had wondered if Hermione was just trying to steal Harry away from her, but then Hermione made it clear that she and Ron were still together. Hermione had explained to Ginny that from Harry's perspective Ginny was a fan-girl, Ron's little sister, and the young girl that he saved all of those years ago from the chamber of secrets. Harry had been through a lot over the past year, and Harry may not be ready for a relationship, at least not a relationship with Ginny. Ginny was angry at first with Hermione and she snapped back at her, asked her how she could possibly know that. Hermione calmly explained that while they were on the run for months from the Death Eaters, trying to find the hidden items, they had many nights they were up talking, and eventually the topic of Ginny came up. Hermione was eventually in tears as she told Ginny what she had learned from Harry. "I probably shouldn't be the one to tell you this, but you know how shy Harry can be around girls, but I really don't think it's going to work out between you two. You're a good friend, and Harry is my best friend. I don't want to see either of you get hurt." Those words still echoed in Ginny's mind from the night before, but it still hurt to feel so distant from the young man she had been building up in her mind for so long as the man she thought she was destined to be with for all time. She tried to calm herself by thinking that there must be dozens of girls who thought the same thing — that they were destined to be with the 'boy-who-lived' — but she at least got to know Harry by going to school with him and by Harry coming by her home so often. And that's when she thought about it more clearly. Harry was there so often because he was Ron's best mate, and she was there because she was Ron's little sister. And she started to accept that she probably would never be much more than the little sister to the best mate of the Boy-Who-Lived. "Get over him and move on with your life," she told herself.
As she was thinking those thoughts she noticed someone walk up to their table.
"Potter, can I have a word with you?" spoke a voice in a tone that was more pleasant than the group of friends had ever recalled.
Ron stopped eating long enough to turn around and snap at the intruder, "Get lost Malfoy, Harry doesn't want to talk with you!"
"Ronald," snapped Hermione, "there is no need to be rude!"
Harry looked up at the blonde young man, "What can I do for you Draco?"
"I'd rather talk to you alone, this is personal, it has to do with something that happened the other day," stated Draco.
"You can talk in front of all of us," Ron answered for Harry.
Hermione kicked Ron under the table.
"Oi!" called out Ron as he winced in pain.
"I'm listening right here," answered Harry, clearly not making any effort to move.
"It has to do with something that happened in the forest," commented Draco, "and I would prefer to speak to you about it in private."
Harry raised an eyebrow, starting to realise what he may be referring to. Harry stood up as he answered, "I think I understand a little better."
Ron began to protest, "You can't just go with him, he's a snake!"
Harry turned back to Ron, "The war's over Ron. Malfoy knows I defeated Riddle, he knows the Death Eaters are defeated. Despite what you might think, Draco is not stupid, and based on what he said, I have every reason to trust him tight now."
"What's this about the forest, Harry?" asked Hermione.
"That's between Draco and me," replied Harry as he followed Draco out of the Great Hall.
Slytherin Girls Dorms
"Shouldn't we be heading to the Great Hall for breakfast?" asked Tracey Davis.
Daphne Greengrass was sitting in her bed, and Tracey's question distracted her from her musings for the past half hour. The heiress t the Greengrass Imports had been contemplating her life after Hogwarts, and she was afraid that her father may start to pressure her into an arranged marriage soon. She knew someone would have to take over the family business and there were no male heirs. One thought that was at least somewhat comforting was that there were no Death Eaters in the family, but with all of the recent infighting within the magical world, particularly with the perspective she had gained from her years in Slytherin she felt she had seen too much, she had had her fill of the pettiness and the manipulativeness that marred their world.
Daphne was roused from her contemplation as Tracey called her name once again, "Sure, I'll be right with you."
As they made their way towards breakfast, Daphne finally spoke up. "Tracey, what are your plans now, what with the war finally being over."
Tracey sighed briefly. "Don't know, I was hoping maybe I could settle down, maybe Blaise is interested in settling down too."
Daphne stopped and stared at her best friend. "But you're not even dating Blaise, the two of you have never been together."
"No time like the present to try and start," she replied with a big grin."
Daphne just shook her head as she was amazed with her best friends attitude. Soon they were in the Great Hall which was fairly full, considering the events of the previous days. They each started to serve themselves food.
Daphne commented off hand, "At least the house elves are still here and are able to make us something to eat." She then looked around and noticed that there were very few people left at the Slytherin table. Many of their house mates had left during or immediately after the war. Then she turned to Tracey as she mused out loud, "I wonder what Pansy is up to now, considering she left right around the time the battle was about to start, when she was all but demanding that Potter be handed over to the Dark Lord."
Tracey spoke quietly so as not to be overheard by any of the younger students who were still present at the school and were seated at their table. "Apparently she is at her family's home, all depressed. Draco is clearly not worthwhile, especially with what happened during the battle. Or at least the rumours I have heard is that his family is in disgrace with the rest of the surviving Death Eaters, but that may not really matter to anyone anymore. But some people think that the new ministry may go easy on any surviving Death Eaters to help bring about peace."
"Like that will ever happen," added Daphne, "not with how the Carrows and Snape treated everyone but those in Slytherin over the past year. Not to mention the Muggle Born Registration committee."
"But they want peace," explained Tracey, "they have always wanted peace, give everyone a second chance and all that."
Daphne scoffed at those words. "That was Dumbledore, and he was taken out by Death Eaters over a year ago. And Draco was involved with that, as was Snape. And Snape is dead. No, they won't be let of lightly, I'm fairly sure of that."
"Well, then what are you going to be doing?" asked Tracey.
"I'm not sure," said Daphne as she nibbled on a roll and scanned the room to see who was still present, "but what I do know is that this whole magical society is sure messed up."
Tracey gave her a simple look that silently asked 'what do you mean.'
Daphne shook her head for a moment, then she answered her friend. "Just take a look at our new hero for starters."
"I can't," interrupted Tracey, "I don't see him anywhere."
Daphne glared at her, then she continued. "He was hailed as a hero when we were all just a year old, and yet no one knows exactly what happened. The Dark Lord was defeated, his parents were killed, he survived the killing curse, and ended up with that famous scar. Then he is hidden away for ten years. He shows up here and is more clueless than either Weasley or Longbottom. But then he starts having all of those grand adventures, almost as if those horrid story books were coming true."
Tracey was incredulous. "You mean you believe those stories from our first year?"
Daphne rolled her eyes at her friend, "The headmaster never denied them. And neither did Granger when I overheard someone ask her about it. We all knew about the troll incident on Halloween. Then, at the end of the year, they get all of this mysterious house points, and the garlic smelling, turban clad stutterer who also incompetent vanishes from school. Yes, I do believe that he was possessed by the Dark Lord and that Potter defeated him. That makes the score 2-0 for Potter. Even if he did spend the week in the infirmary afterwards."
"But what about second year," protested Tracey, "he wasn't the Heir of Slytherin like people suggested."
Daphne smiled at this as she had a ready reply. "No, but he did find out who was, and with the help of Granger again, he figured out everything that was going on. He discovered who, or what, was paralysing the students. He was always there for her. Now why the hell those two were never a couple, I'll never understand. It's like some grand mystery or some power somewhere just never wanted them to be together, but whatever. The rumour with the most credence about our second year is that there was a basilisk on the loose."
Tracey had heard that rumour too. "Then what happened to it? And why didn't you tell me about this before?"
"Because," Daphne added with a slight sting in her voice, "you're about as bad of a gossip queen as Lavender Brown. As far as the basilisk goes, either Potter killed it, which I would find highly unlikely, as he doesn't seem to be that powerful, but then again, he did just defeat the Dark Lord. Or he found a way to control it, which, considering were talking about a basilisk, most likely is a former pet of Salazar Slytherin himself, which would make controlling it very unlikely as week, so he must have had some help with this either way, most likely from the headmaster."
Tracey considered her friend's summary of their first two years in school and then she asked about the next year. "So then, what about our third year?"
"Well, that year was fairly uneventful, other than his being hunted down by the escaped Sirius Black," Daphne began in her recap of their school history. "Black did manage to get on to the school property at the end of the year. He was even captured. Somehow, though, Potter was involved and was attacked by all of those dementors that Fudge demanded be posted as a means of protecting us, or specifically Potter from the crazed mass murdered. Remember how the dementors went after him during that Quidditch match? Apparently at one point Potter drove off over one hundred or more at once."
"But that would be impossible," stated Tracey.
Daphne shook her head. "A: we're talking about Potter here. B: we're talking about creatures that the ministry clearly can't control and have been shown on multiple occasions to enjoy attacking Potter."
Tracey rubbed her forehead as she tried to understand what Daphne had told her. "Over one hundred?"
Daphne nodded, "That is the current report based on several fairly reliable sources. Then that brings us to the Tri-Wizard Tournament."
"And his desire for extra glory," added Tracey.
"When did you start sharing Draco's morning pumpkin juice, girlfriend?" asked an amazed Daphne. "You actually still believe that foolishness that was spread by Draco and others? Who has more fame and glory than Potter as it stands? Only Dumbledore, and after yesterday, I would say that even he doesn't anymore. When have you ever seen Potter truly try and draw attention to himself? Never. Snape or Draco baiting him doesn't count. Snape, or Draco, or even Weasley claiming he was doing so doesn't count either."
Tracey considered her friends words for a few moments and the turned and stared at her. "You know, this is starting to sound like you've been staling him for years!"
Daphne glared at her best friend. "I just simply pay attention to all of the people around us, especially those who stick out. Potter always manages to stick out. And with being three years behind the other students in the tournament, he still managed to actually win the tournament. That set of thing ought to catch anyone's attention."
"But what about Diggory?" asked Tracey.
"The boy who was killed? What about him? Potter told everyone, he was killed," answered Daphne.
"But the reports in the Daily Prophet were that Potter was lying," stated Tracey.
"And those reports have all been proved wrong," countered Daphne, "as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named clearly did come back, and did attack Harry, so that's at least 3-0 in favour of your young hero." Daphne couldn't hold back a slight chuckle at that. "And now he was just defeated by Harry yesterday, and from what we have heard the Dark Lord is truly gone now and can never come back, which puts the tally at 4-0 in favour of Potter."
Tracey just shook her head in frustration as Daphne continued to quote the score as though it were a game. "Besides, if Potter had lied about what had happened," Daphne continued, " the Ministry of Magic could have easily proved that he spoke lies, but they could not."
"Fine," replied a frustrated Tracey. "But then what about fifth year?"
"Potter tutored most of the school," she said, "other than Slytherin house. He survived attacks from Umbridge. I think the whole reason why she created the Inquisitorial Squad was just to try and catch Potter and disgrace him. He was her only real target."
"How the bloody hell do you know all of this?" wondered Tracey.
"I pay attention to everything going on," answered Daphne with a smile. "I may never have liked Draco, but I paid attention to what he said. I read between the lines of what the Daily Prophet published. I listened to what Professor Snape would tell us, yes the man was clearly biased against Potter. It took a while to sift through everything that came across, but there was information there to be gleaned. Also, I got to know Granger in some of my classes. Even listening to Weasley spout off against Malfoy could give you clues about the truth that was out there."
"A true Slytherin," replied Tracey with a grin.
Daphne simply smiled as she considered that she also had other sources that she was not about to reveal to Tracey. The family business of imports and exports allowed her father to overhear a lot of information, and required him to be very skilled in certain techniques which his daughter had to learn as well.
Entrance to Hogwarts
Outside of the Great Hall Draco suggested they find an empty classroom where they could talk in private. Harry scoffed at the idea. "That's not going to be easy," commented Harry, "as there aren't many rooms left after the battle."
Draco shrugged his shoulders. Then they headed outside to the grounds and Draco cast a muffliato charm around them so that no one would overhear their conversation.
"My mother saved your life," he stated simply.
Harry looked at Draco. "So, you're saying that I owe you or her a life debt?"
Draco shook his head. "No, nothing so drastic, but I am requesting a favour."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "I'm listening."
Draco shifted uneasily as he searched for the right way to explain what he was trying to say. "My family's name is clearly not what it once was. The ministry is still against us because of my father's actions." He paused as he gathered his thoughts some more. "The Death eaters, my father's former associates and co-conspirators will be out for revenge against my entire family. They will want to make an example of us, so I figure the safest place foe me is the last place they would look for me."
Harry nods in agreement, understanding a little of what Draco is saying. "It won't be easy for you."
"And why not?" asked Draco defensively.
"You won't fit in among muggles," Harry stated simply.
Draco scoffed, "How hard could it be?"
"For you? It would be very hard," Harry stated emphatically. "We would have to change your name. Come up with a plausible back story for who you are, where you came from. You would need to get a job."
Draco's face became more pale than usual. "I'd have to work?"
"Get over yourself Malfoy," laughed Harry. "Yes, you would have to work. Then we'd also have to get you a muggle ID so you could even get a job in the first place. We'd have to find a place to live and all that." Harry thought for a moment and then he continued. "Before you even can get a job, as I said before, you would have to learn how to fit in to muggle society."
"I can do all that," sneered Draco, "how hard can it be?"
"For many wizards," answered Harry, "it is near impossible."
"I'm not your average wizard," stated Draco.
"Of course not," agreed Harry. "Or else I wouldn't have agreed so quickly to this."
Draco paused for a moment. "Wait a second Potter, you did seem to agree to this too quickly, too easily. Why?"
Harry grinned slightly. "I have my own reasons. Meet me here, tomorrow, say about 3 in the afternoon, we'll speak more."
Harry started to walk away, when Draco called him back. "How do you know you can trust me?"
Harry turned back and laughed. "It's quite simple, Malfoy, you need me for this more than I need you. You asked me to do you a favour. This is one huge favour. As I recall, about eight years ago you offered me your hand in friendship, stating I needed to make the right sort of friends, and that you could help me there. Maybe this is the day I finally take you up on that. But perhaps it is you who have finally learned that you need help in making the right sort of friends. If is true that the remaining Death Eaters are coming after you, you do need my help. I can help you there. Hiding out in muggle London. You won't stand a chance. Most wizards wouldn't, particularly not Death Eaters. I have my own reasons for choosing to go live amongst the muggles, so this may prove to be mutually advantageous. So, it may just be the Slytherin thing to do, for me to help you, not the Gryffindor thing."
Draco stared at Harry in surprise at his answer.
"Oh, and Malfoy," added Harry, "in case you didn't already know this, the sorting hat wanted to place me in Slytherin. But as I had already met you a couple of times, and I was determined not to be placed in the same house as you as you had come across as a grade A git, I told the hat to put me somewhere else."
Draco's jaw dropped. "I had no idea that you could tell the hat what house to place you in."
"You should have known," commented Harry, "why else did you think the hat placed you in Slytherin so quickly?"
Susan sat with Hannah at a table in the garden out back.
"Please explain to me again why you're doing this," stated Hannah.
"I just need some time away from the magical world," repeated Susan. "So much has happened, and not much of it has been good."
Hannah frowned, "But why go live among the muggles? Can't you just stay here? We don't have to hang out with others. We can avoid Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade and all of that." Hannah then gasped as she came to a realisation. "You don't want to be around me anymore, is that it?"
Susan put her hand to her mouth as she realised her best friend got the completely wrong message. "That's not it at all! You're my best friend in the whole world! I just need some time away from everything. I've lost my parents, my Aunt, and the ministry never did much to try and protect us. In fact, the one person who actually ended the war, the ministry tried to paint as a crazy git, and we even believed the lies the Daily Prophet printed about him. We even wore those stupid buttons during fourth year."
Hannah blushed, "I did, as I recall, you refused to wear them."
Susan smiled at her friend and held her hand, "I didn't want to point that out. But our whole class kind of turned our back on Potter time and again."
Hannah looked down at her feet, "I even accused him of some awful things in second year."
"But he still welcomed us into the DA during fifth year," added Susan.
Hannah looked up, "It's pretty amazing that he put up with us, considering the way everyone continued to treat him."
Susan turned and looked off in the distance. "I wonder what Harry's going to be doing now."
Hannah looked at her friend and worried what would become of her when she went to live among the muggles.