"Was she…" Harry couldn't finish his thought.
"Whatever I witnessed, I will not tell you. You've had enough for a lifetime, seeing your father like that. Seeing your Mum, too, would probably be too much. So, for now, trust me when I say that Severus treated her respectfully."
Harry accepted Kingsley's explanation without comment. The last memory gutted him, leaving Harry completely numb to anything else. He sat on the floor, looking at his own hands, ignoring Kingsley safely extracting the memory from the Pensieve and stoppering it into the vial. So many thoughts crowded his mind, from seeing his Father, sprawled out in the stairs, looked upon with mild disdain by the one whose memories he shared, to the moment the memory went dark.
"Harry, ready to go?" Harry looked up at Kingsley like he was speaking gibberish. Kingsley reached out his hand and Harry gladly took it. He was helped up by the older wizard standing in front of him. "Come on you, let's get out of here. You've had too much to deal with today." Kingsley put an arm around Harry and they departed their small office.
Harry realized what was going on after they left the small office. "We're going to Mrs. Tonks house, right? What then?"
"After I talk with Andromeda for a few minutes, I'll take you to the Burrow. I spoke with Arthur earlier and he said that he'll have dinner waiting for you whenever you get home."
Harry felt a frisson of warmth wash over him. Home. He had a house, one he hadn't spent much time in and had to do something with it, eventually. But for now, he'd happily spend time at the Burrow, hopefully having some time to himself or maybe spend some time with Ginny, even if it was nothing more than just chores around the house. Maybe a kip on the couch after dinner wouldn't be so bad, at least until a nightmare would wake him up, so he thought.
The two men entered the lift and Kingsley tapped his wand onto the 4 button. Harry remembered that this was a particular lift and the only private way to get to the Department of Mysteries.
"You know that you can't talk about any of this to anyone, not until the Ministry gets settled some, right?"
"What about Mr. Weasley? It's not like I can share this with Ron and Hermione since they are on the other side of the world."
Kingsley sighed. "Yes, sure, Arthur will be fine. But no one else, not even Miss Weasley, unfortunately. It's not like I don't trust her but the fewer people who know right now, the better."
"Do you think Mrs. Weasley would say anything to anyone?"
"No but there are also her kids coming and going at the house and it might slip. I trust them but I can't take chances, not when we have so many people missing." Kingsley rubbed his eyes with his very large hands. "I don't want to give anyone any false hope until we know for certain."
The lift opened and the two men stepped out. Harry watched the gate close then the doors. The moment the doors closed, a wall appeared. "Wow, I see what you mean, sir."
"Minister's benefit, Harry. Only a special few get to use that one so no nattering about it."
"Sir," he replied back.
"Now we need to get the Floo so we can depart. Andromeda is expecting us." The men made their way through the myriad of corridors that make up the Ministry, navigating nondescript door after door, with so few designations for departments.
"Sir, are all of these offices empty?" I don't see anything on any one of them."
Kingsley stopped in the middle of the corridor. "This is a consequence of the coup. So many departments shuddered because there just weren't enough Purebloods to work the jobs. Those who came to work did so, but they were immediately promoted to directorships and other important oversight jobs. Those who actually did the work vanished or were banished, and even arrested for being Muggleborns. Once those arrests happened, whole departments ground to a halt. So much of the ministry fell into shambles that departments closed." Kingsley took a deep breath. "Our first priority was the vital offices, like the Aurors and Magical Law Enforcement, and then Floo Transit and International Portkeys. I also formed Missing Persons for a temporary office, to account for the possible thousands not yet accounted for. The odd ones like Sports and Magical Cooperation will have to wait. Who knew being a bureaucrat was such a pain in the arse?"
"I hope I can be of some help, sir."
"You are and you will, I'm sure. Come on. Andromeda is expecting us."
The men continued on, making their way for the public lifts. They turned a corner for the main corridor and stopped before running face first into Narcissa Malfoy along with Draco Malfoy.
"Minister," her voice was ice as she regarded both of them with casual disdain. "I heard that you were running affairs in the interim until a Minister is voted in." Kingsley didn't respond to her backhanded comment. "Mrs. Malfoy," Kingsley put his hand out and she finally relented, letting him take it and gently hold it a second before letting it go. "And Draco," Kingsley did the same yet Draco refused. Kingsley took his hand back without comment.
"Mr. Potter." She clutched her purse in front of her with both hands, acting like it was a very weak shield against the two of them.
"Potter," Draco sneered. "Have they brought you in yet for the mess you made?"
Harry snorted, pointedly ignoring him. "Mrs. Malfoy," Harry regarded the stately witch before him, with immaculate robes and not a hair out of place. But it was a facade, Harry thought, in seeing the bags under her eyes, hidden so skillfully with a concealing charm that didn't quite cover the exhaustion, as well as her bloodshot pale blue eyes. He quietly wondered if she was weathering the storm of Lucius being gone again, possibly turning traitor on all of the others from the Coup to save their necks.
"Do you need help, Mr. Potter?" She stood still while Draco stood at his Mum's left shoulder, scowling.
"Thank you," Harry said politely and put his hand out.
"Don't mother." He gently put his hand on his Mum's shoulder but she shrugged slightly.
"Draco, later," she softly scolded and she reached out for his hand. Harry took it gently and squeezed it ever so briefly before releasing it. Her hands were soft, refined and delicate, but Harry knew that she was one of the most frightening women he now knew. Anyone who would lie to Voldemort's face and not betray herself was one extremely formidable witch. Thank goodness she valued Draco over Voldemort.
"Potter, you – "
Kingsley cut across him. "Mr. Malfoy, I suggest you wait. I think Mr. Potter might have more to say."
Harry glanced at the sallow appearing young man, wearing tailored robes but with hollowed cheeks and waxy ashen skin. His robes hung on him like they were a size too big, having lost weight too.
"Actually, sir, I won't. I doubt Mr. Malfoy would truly appreciate what his mother has done for everyone, including me. If anyone deserves our thanks, it's Mrs. Malfoy."
Harry knew that he had piqued Draco's interest with his cryptic comment but saw the immediate appreciation by Mrs. Malfoy by the slight tilt of her head and the very small yet fast smile before stilling her features.
"Minister, if I might have a moment of your time?"
"Why yes," he agreed and the two of them stepped down the hallway. Not a moment later, Harry heard a soft muted buzzing in his ears, ensuring their privacy.
Harry surreptitiously watched Draco standing across the hallway from him.
"Potter, you leave my Mother alone. She's been through enough."
"I am, actually. All I did was thank her. That's called being polite, Draco. I assumed you knew that, but then when you tried to betray me after I saved your life, I wouldn't expect you do."
"Listen, Potter – "
Harry turned and Draco backed up one step. "No, I won't. It's fortunate that Ron only punched you. You're damn lucky he didn't beat the bogies and make you look like Mad-Eye."
Draco ignored the obvious insult. "You'd have left me in there to burn, wouldn't you?" Draco crossed his arms and leaned against the doorway to a locked office.
"Ron would have. Hermione would have. I didn't."
The two young men stood there quietly for a moment.
"We're not friends, Potter."
"No, we're not. I believe I made that abundantly clear that evening standing in the front hallway at Hogwarts."
"I made an offering of friendship, Potter." Draco shut his mouth instantly, betraying his feelings.
"Yeah, after you insulted the first two people who were genuinely nice to me, you tosser. But then you can't fathom that, can you? I bet you're accustomed to people falling all over themselves because of the Malfoy name. Pshaw," Harry waved his hand around. "God, it's been years and you're still mental over that moment?"
"Of course I am!" Draco yelled but the other two didn't turn around. "Father was disappointed in me for my failure. I let him down." Draco went back to sulking."
"Well, you did yourself no favors being a git."
Narcissa walked back up with the Minister, shaking his hand politely. "Thank you for your time. I shall call upon you in the next week to make an appointment to discuss things further." She turned her face a mask and put her hand out to Harry. "And thank you for what you said, Mr. Potter. I appreciate it."
Draco stood next to his mother looking like he'd sucked on an over-ripe lemon.
"Don't expect such graciousness from me, Potter."
"Well, I was hoping for tolerance but if that's beyond you, that's fine," Harry cheeked.
Narcissa stopped and turned around, staring down both young men. "Draco, come along, now."
"Yes, Mother." He turned heel and quickly walked away. Kingsley came to stand next to Harry. "Did she tell me the truth? Did she lie to Voldemort on your behalf?"
"She did, sir. She needed a way to get into the castle safely and my apparent dead body would be her way in. She knew I was alive and she still had the nerve to lie to Voldemort."
Kingsley let out a soft whistle. "She's bloody courageous, that's for sure."
"It was, sir. He could have easily sent someone else. But he chose Narcissa to do it." Harry sniffed. "It's a wonder that he didn't send Bellatrix to do it."
"If what she said is true, then he wouldn't have sent Bellatrix. She sent someone whom he trusted but only so far. He assumed that with Draco inside the castle she'd be amenable to his demands. Instead, she took an enormous risk, all in the faintest, slimmest, wildest hope that she could be reunited with her son."
"She told you all this?"
"She did. You'll corroborate it later including what happened afterward but for now I'll take it as fact."
Harry turned to Kingsley, towering over him. "I stand by what I said. Malfoy's a git but I still saved his life. I'd do it all over again, too, and not just because it meant Mrs. Malfoy would save me."
"Life sure is messy, isn't it Harry?"
"It is, Sir. I can't wrap my head around half of it."
Kingsley started walking towards the second set of lifts heading towards the atrium. They were already late for Mrs. Tonk's late afternoon tea, by their watches.
They went to the Floo and Kingsley yelled out her particular address and he disappeared in a whirlwind of green flames. Harry stepped in after him and repeated the destination, twisting away through various chimneys and fireplaces, catching faint glimpses of parlours and living rooms of so many witches and wizards.
He landed with a thud at their destination and saw Kingsley in the room. Harry stepped out of the enormous fireplace and saw Andromeda Tonks receiving a warm hug from Kingsley. Harry looked away, feeling like he was intruding on such an intimate moment between two of the remaining people left who meant something to him.
Harry looked at the mantle above the fireplace and saw the various wizarding pictures in silver frames. Ted Tonks, who always seemed to have a smile in every picture Andromeda every showed of him, laughing uproariously with Andromeda hugged into his side, looking quite petite compared to his stature. Next was Ted sitting in a rocking chair, holding a bundle of joy in his arms with shocking pink hair. The attire looked out of date so he guessed that the infant in the picture was Tonks and not little Teddy. In another picture were Remus and Tonks, waving at the camera that took their picture, looking tired and somewhat worse for wear, but smiling happily. In the last one, in the largest frame, was Tonks, looking exhausted and thin, holding a squirming Teddy to her chest, watching him with such a look of love on her face. Remus was sitting next to her bed, sleeping with his head thrown back and obviously snoring.
Harry secretly wiped his hand across his eyes at the last one. He knew that Ted had been dead a short time when Tonks gave birth to Teddy. Teddy's grandfather never knew of him.
Anger boiled in his stomach, that the bastards took away someone so precious to his Godson.
"Harry," a quiet voice behind him bade him turn around. He did and saw that Kingsley and Andromeda were sitting down across from one another with a platter of biscuits and half sandwiches and a steaming pot of Irish Breakfast tea, Ted's favorite. Harry's small plate in front of his seat included a rather large bar of chocolate, probably from Honeyduke's.
"Kingsley said you had a rough go of it today helping him. When he sent his Patronus earlier he asked if I'd serve tea when you arrived and have some chocolate on hand."
Harry regarded the courageous witch in front of him while breaking off an enormous piece of chocolate from the bar. He tucked into it and felt a slowly warming growth spread out from his stomach to his fingertips and toes. While Andromeda Black Tonks resembled her older sister some and virtually none to her younger one, there were marked differences between them now. Bellatrix never had such kind eyes or a collection of laugh lines on her forehead. No, the big difference now, besides the fact that her older sister was dead, who also murdered her daughter, was the myriad of wrinkles carved into her emaciated face.
"Harry, drink up before it gets cold. Irish Breakfast tea is grotty when it is tepid, much less cold."
Harry looked at the older witch and smiled. "Yes, Mrs. Tonks."
Andromeda tutted. "It's Andromeda, Harry. Mrs. Tonks was a kindly Muggle proprietor of a small inn in the Lake District."
Harry smiled, feeling the horror of the day slowly falling off of his shoulders.