Gulls screeched overhead, flying low over the black, broken rocks of the seashore and turning sharply through the ocean spray. Muggle ships lined the harbor, but a stone path masked with a "Danger--Do Not Enter" sign charmed to ward away muggles led down the coast behind a rocky outcropping. Where the path ended at the coast's edge, Draco and Harry took a sharp right turn and disappeared onto pier 39 and a half, where a sparse crowd slowly marched onto a warped, barnacle-encrusted pier and up the gangplank of an ancient galleon.
"Looks like a ghost ship," Harry whispered.
Draco frowned in thought. The ship's sails, tattered and frayed at the edges, swayed gently in the wind. Creaking comfortably on the mild waves, the ship swayed as the small crowd made their way up the gangplank. The starred flag on the mast seemed out of place, not only because it wasn't muggle but also because it wasn't British.
"Ghosts can't steer ships," he said. "Or is that another muggle thing?"
Smiling, Harry tipped his head back and stared at the sky. "I guess. I'll explain when we get home."
Only a handful of people remained on the pier. Pansy stood at the back of the crowd, her hands tucked into a puffskein-hide muff. She craned her head to see up the path, and when she spotted them, she waved and moved towards them.
"I was worried you wouldn't make it," she said as she put her arms around Draco. She briefly glanced at Harry but did nothing more than nod once to him.
"Sorry, had to give the Ministry the slip," he said.
She nodded once and stepped back, but her hands lingered on his shoulders. Both were loathe to let go. For all they knew, they might never see each other again.
The dark wizards were leaving England.
Not all of them, and most of them were those that no one knew existed until now. Draco didn't recognize most of the faces on the ship. They came from the hidden families now reassured enough to come out of their exile, but only enough to scurry to the ships that would take them to different countries. Ships like these were usually expensive and took a few weeks to arrive at their destinations, but they were safer than taking Ministry-managed portkeys and far easier than flying.
"Draco," she murmured. "You're sure you won't leave?"
"Pansy..." he sighed. They'd had this discussion several times in the past few days, but he didn't stop her from trying again.
"Your manor is gone, and they know what you are," she said in a rush. "And there won't be much of us left here anyway. There's so little holding you here now--"
She stopped, giving him the annoyed look he knew he would miss. "Stupid reckless Malfoy," she muttered.
"Not as reckless as you think."
Draco reached into a pocket and brought out a brass wyvern no larger than his hand. Its outstretched wings glimmered in the sun, and Pansy took it with a knowing smile.
"A portkey?" she asked.
"Exactly. You're our escape route if things go bad here." He shrugged self-consciously as if he wasn't entrusting her with their lives. "Keep it some place with a lot of room."
She snorted at the extra effort he was making her go to, but anything she was about to say was cut off as the ship's sails unfurled with a sharp snap. The ship lurched forward as if eager to get underway, and the anchor's chain drew taut. Pansy gave a little cry of surprise.
"I have to go," she said, pocketing the little wyvern. "Draco, you have the book I gave you--"
"I'll write in it, I promise," he said. "And you'll write too?"
"Of course. I'll tell you what Grinset looks like." Once more she hugged him, closing her eyes for just a moment. "I'll put the statue somewhere safe."
"I trust you." He stepped back, still holding her in his hands. "You sure you'll be okay?"
Pansy nodded. "We're going together, so we won't be alone. And we've already got host families over there, other dark families. We'll be fine."
"Tell Theo I said to take care of you," he said.
"Sure," she said. As she backed a few steps away, she finally smiled once at Harry, but the smile was cold and full of poison. "If you hurt him, I will find out."
Harry hesitated, trying to think of a reply, and she halfway into the boat before he came up with something. The gangplank disappeared after her and the anchor came up out of the water. From the pier, Harry and Draco both watched the captain open a bag near the aft, releasing a strong wind to fill the sails. As the ship slowly slipped through the waves, Pansy appeared on the railings next to Theo and a young wizard Draco recognized as Kytel. They could only wave wordlessly at each other, and in a few seconds the ship had moved too far to do even that.
Even so, Draco waited until the ship was a dot on the horizon before turning his head away.
"Take me back to the cottage," he said softly.
Harry didn't know how Draco could stand side-along apparition, but in the past few weeks since their wedding, he'd found that Draco wouldn't do anything if he could get someone to do it for him. He didn't know if it was because of all the fighting or if he was just that lazy.
"You really are a spoiled brat," Harry murmured without any heat, wrapping Draco up in his arms from behind. "Are you always going to make me do everything for you?"
"Forever and ever," Draco said. "I trust you."
A moment later they stood on the grassy clearing in front of the cottage. Draco stood still for a few seconds, taking a little time to study the house. Two-storied with narrow windows and stone walls, it looked more like a miniature fortress, notwithstanding the cellar and the hidden hearth. It did not look welcoming, but it looked strong and blended well into the landscape. Lilac blossoms covered the ivy draped over every inch of the house and the weeping willows around it gave it a feeling of permanence, especially since it was all growing out of season, but witch's gardens tended to do that.
Until they rebuilt the Manor, this was home. Comfortable, of course, and formal enough to receive visitors in a manner befitting Malfoys, but still...not his own bedroom or his father's library or his mother's workshop. He hoped the new Manor would feel like home, but that wouldn't be built for a long time to come.
In the past week since their wedding, he'd visited the ruins of the wizarding world with Harry and the Prime Minister, making appearances of reconciliation and helping with the clean up, at least until the Daily Prophet had stopped taking pictures for the day. Fortunately Draco's ragged and raccoon-eyed appearance convinced everyone that his laziness and apathy were really exhaustion and battlefield trauma. No one protested when Harry took him home, although if that was because he was dark or because they felt sorry for him, he didn't know.
He suspected Harry knew how little he cared about Hogsmeade, Hogwarts and all the other battlefields scattered across the countryside. The burned, blackened rubble of the shops held no interest for him. The roads smashed by giants and gouged by werewolf claws didn't impress him. Destruction no longer shocked him.
His home lay in smoking ruins for months now, and while other wizards had fled from Voldemort's army, he had fought them. Unwillingly, true, but he'd faced them, drawn blood, killed death eaters and a werewolf and even helped Harry kill the dark lord. Let the light wizards gossip about his exhaustion and apathy and arrogance. Reckless, cowardly Malfoy, only fighting when it suited his ends. At least he was willing to fight. Hogwarts was still standing while the Ministry had fallen, and he knew the wizarding world had noticed. Arrogant, reckless Malfoy or not, the dark society's victory ingratiated them somewhat with the light wizards. Even his father's time in Azkaban no longer mattered to anyone.
"Harry," Draco said slowly. "About my father..."
The thought lingered in the air, but only for a moment.
"He's been in the house, right?" Harry mused. "I know we've barely left the bedroom, but I can hear him sometimes, him and Snape."
"Mother's here, too," Draco added needlessly.
Narcissa rarely raised her voice or stomped when angry, but she made herself known by the spicy scents and the occasional explosion in the potions workroom. If Draco and Harry heard Lucius tapping his cane on the floor or heard Severus snapping at someone, no doubt Narcissa was close by. They never intruded on the boys, letting them answer their own owls from the Ministry for another photo opportunity or good will meeting.
"They've given us a lot of time alone," Harry said. "Or do we just keep missing them?"
"A little of both," Draco said. "They make a show of the Knights visiting with Aurors and being nice. We just don't go to the same burnt out ruins they visit."
Draco turned in Harry's arms and faced him, pushing the messy hair from Harry's eyes as the wind blew over them.
"You're still Harry Potter," Draco said. "But you're part of the Malfoy family, too. I know you don't like my father or Severus, but I promise they won't hurt you. It'll take time for everyone to get comfortable around each other--"
"That might be hoping for too much," Harry said. He sighed as Draco bit his lip in anxiety. "Look, I can't promise things will go perfect, but I promise I'll try not to start anything."
"Just...just please try not to snap at anyone," Draco said. "I don't--I can't choose between you and family, I can't. And father said he won't intentionally bait you, but I know you two clash no matter what."
"Suppose I can't threaten to hit him if he says mudblood," Harry muttered.
When Draco stiffened, Harry winced and put his hands on Draco's shoulders, holding him a few inches away. Cupping his hand around Draco's cheek, he circled his thumb below the blonde's eye where his fist had connected before.
"I'm sorry," he murmured. "I hate that word, but--I'm sorry. I'll never hit you again, I promise."
Draco would believe that when it didn't happen, but he also didn't mention that Harry had hit him for manipulation, not for saying the word. He didn't see any reason to bring it up. With any luck, Harry wouldn't notice when Draco gently guided him to his own ends. All in Harry's best interests, of course. Besides, he'd had three excellent teachers who manipulated each other regularly, to varying degrees of success, and Harry was nowhere near as insightful as his parents or his master--Severus.
When they went inside, he heard his parents' voices in the parlor. Draco quietly removed the hooded cloak he used whenever he left the house and draped it over the chair in the hall. One of the elves would put it away.
"Draco, Harry," Narcissa called. "Where did you run off to today? I didn't know the Ministry had owled you."
"They didn't," Draco answered. "We went to see to Pansy off. I gave her the wyvern."
He steeled himself as he walked inside with Harry at his shoulder. She wasn't alone. Severus sat opposite her at the table with an array of ingredient bottles between them, while Lucius lounged in the chair by the fireplace reading. With a soft snap, Lucius closed what Draco saw was his father's diary and set it aside, giving his family his full attention.
"The last boat out, if I'm not mistaken," Lucius said. "I trust all went well?"
Draco nodded once.
"If you knew, why weren't you there, too?" Harry asked.
Wondering if he would be able to teach Harry etiquette, Draco winced slightly and hoped his father did not take offense. For Harry, he doubted the question was meant to be hostile, but he wished he'd phrased it as "Yes, I rather wish you had attended," or "I'm sorry, I thought you knew." During polite conversation, one simply did not speak to the head of the family in such a manner.
The room fell silent for a moment and Harry sat a little straighter, but his puzzled face revealed that he knew that he'd done something wrong but he didn't know what. Lucius paused before he answered.
"I felt it best if Draco and I do not attend the same gatherings," he said. "Especially in your presence."
Harry stiffened, but he didn't respond at first, giving Lucius time to explain. His hands flexed a little, though, betraying the rise in anger that Lucius' comment provoked.
"Two Malfoys and the Boy Who Lived?" Lucius continued. "That'd be a tempting target for anyone who wants this fledgling peace to fail. I would've advised you two to do the same except you need to demonstrate how joined at the hip you've become. Your marriage must not be seen as weak." He half-shrugged and leaned back in the chair, relaxing somewhat as it became clear that Harry would not harangue him.
"Besides, I saw the first ship off for Roanoke," he finished.
"'Roanoke'?" Harry echoed. "Is that a country?"
"The oldest magical town there," Draco said. "Most of the dark wizards will probably settle there, but there's another community called Grinset down the coast. They should be safe in either town."
"So how many dark wizards are left here?" Harry asked.
"Not many," Severus said. He dumped out a bottle full of leaves on a cloth spread on the table and began sorting them. "Not that there were enough in the first place. We wouldn't have survived a real fight against the blood traitors before, but now we'd be lucky to run away with our lives."
"Cheerful as always," Narcissa muttered.
"If you think we can take on the Ministry with less than a hundred wizards altogether, I'd love to hear your strategies," Severus said.
"I'm sure you could come up with much better ideas," she said, "since you find fault with everyone else's."
"I agree," he said, "that it's a terrible burden being the only sensible creature in the house."
"Sensible creatures by their very nature should know when to listen to their betters," she said.
"Then my betters by their very nature should be able to outwit me," he said. "Sadly, that is not yet the case."
Narcissa straightened in her chair with a dark look on her face. Severus replied in kind and Draco began to reach for his wand just in case he needed to cast a shield spell. Instead Lucius sighed and leaned back in his chair, looking over them like cats about to snap at each other.
"'Cissa, Sev', if you must fight, please do it outside. We've already burned down one house."
"Fine," Narcissa said in a clipped tone. "I'll be in the garden planting nightshade. One of us should be doing something useful at least."
"Oh yes," Severus drawled. "Because we certainly don't have enough nightshade."
Draco squashed his snort of laughter. Most of the bottles on the table were full of various nightshade parts, but it wasn't her fault if she hadn't been able to shop in Nocturne Alley yet.
"I suppose I could plant gorweed," she snapped.
This time Draco couldn't hide his wince. Gorweed attracted dragons, and he had no doubt Lucius knew about the dragons in Hogwarts now. He noticed Harry opening his mouth and quickly grabbed his wrist, giving him a quick shake of the head. For God's sake, he thought, don't attract their attention right now.
As she stomped off in snit, disappearing into the hall, Severus grabbed one of the bottles off the table and stood.
"If you'll excuse me," he said without looking at anyone, "I have to scatter tanglevine weeds throughout her garden and then hide for a few hours."
Once he left, Draco let go of Harry and breathed out. Beside him, Harry stared at Severus with wide eyes.
"Wow," he murmured. "Not at all like the Weasley's."
"You'll have to forgive them," Lucius sighed, closing his eyes and touching his temple as if he had a headache. "They do care about each other, but they can't stand not having the last word. Having him home all the time will just make the home that much louder."
"But..." Harry took a moment before he said anything, and when he spoke he sounded a little stilted, as if trying to make sure he didn't say the wrong thing. "You're the head of the family, right? Can't you just order them to stop?"
Lucius stared at him with wide eyes before he decided Harry was serious. A rueful laugh escaped from him.
"Order those two to stop? I can survive an assault from one, but two?" He shook his head once. "No, better to let them spend their energy on each other. Besides, they both had permission first."
Harry blinked. "They did?"
"Severus didn't leave until he was sure father wouldn't stop him," Draco said. "And mother only left once father mentioned going outside to argue."
Harry glanced at Lucius. Although he didn't say anything, the meaning in his look was clear. Harry would play by some of the rules for Draco's sake, but expecting him to ask permission for everything was out of the question.
Lucius returned the look, facing Harry as warily as he had when he met him in Dumbledore's office after thwarting his plan with the diary. The Boy Who Lived now a Malfoy, in marriage if not in name. Part of him rebelled against the boy even sitting safely in front of him and demanded revenge for every ruined scheme. But part of him admitted how Harry had crossed the Ministry and safeguarded Draco.
"I understand that you were learning dark magic for awhile," Lucius said.
Confused at the subject change, Harry just nodded once.
"I think it will be best if you continue learning our spells. Final exams will not be held for quite some time anyway while everything is being rebuilt, so you'll have time to practice." He tilted his head, not sure how Harry would react to the next thing. "You will also avoid joining the aurors."
Indignation and surprise clouded Harry's face. "What? I've been planning on that for years. I thought that was part of the big peace deal, that Draco'd be a knight and I'd be an auror."
"Some of those in the Ministry might have assumed that, but that's nowhere in the written agreements," Lucius said. "Besides, you're a Malfoy, whether you take the name or not. You have more important matters to keep you busy besides picking off stray death eaters."
"Acting as liaison between the dark wizards and the light," Lucius said. "They're touchy enough just being in the same room as us. Cooperation between the two sides will go much more smoothly when they have you to talk to instead of me."
"And I answer to you?" Harry demanded, brindling at Lucius' assumption that Harry would agree without question.
"You answer to the dark community," Lucius said. "Just as I do."
Harry narrowed his eyes. "And what else would I have to do?"
"Much of what you're doing now. Visiting people, making appearances, only now you will help set policy. You will help write the new laws and oversee their implementation."
"You'd be very powerful," Draco said softly.
"I don't care about power," Harry said.
"But you do care," Lucius said. "When your sense of justice is offended, you care enough to act in spite of everyone telling you not to. Do this, and you would no longer merely complain about the unfairness of the world. You could actually do something about it."
Harry didn't answer for a moment, lost in thought. Draco exchanged a look with his father, and Lucius' slight nod of his head told Draco to say something that would tip Harry over to agreement. Draco's mind spun in circles until he thought of something.
"Better you than someone who doesn't have the good of both communities at heart," Draco said, leaning against Harry and touching his knee. "I can't think of anyone else both sides would trust. But it has to be decided quickly, or else someone might try to step in and start dictating rules."
Musing for a few more moments, Harry finally looked at both of them. "Why me? Quit trying to steer me into it. I want the truth."
Lucius pressed his lips in a thin line and Draco sat back in his own chair, more upset at being forced to be straightforward than at being caught.
"Because you'll try to make it work, for Draco's sake if nothing else," Lucius said. "I have no doubt you'll tell me when you think I'm doing something wrong, but I also know you won't let the Ministry walk all over you. That's why. Now will you do it or not?" He considered demanding if Harry would do it or force Lucius to cast imperio on him, but he stopped himself in time.
To both their surprise, Harry smiled. "Of course I'll do it, Lucius. You only had to ask."
Lucius hissed and clenched his hands on the chair arms, tensing as if he meant to fight. Without asking permission to leave because he was sure he had it anyway, Draco grabbed Harry's arm and dragged him out of his seat.
"We'll just leave you be then," Draco said in a rush as he backed for the door. "Go off for a ride, maybe. A long ride. Don't wait up."
"Glad we got this decided, sir," Harry called over his shoulder as they escaped.
"Draco, I'd better not see you 'till after sunset!" Lucius yelled. "And take your worthless husband with you!"
"Wonderful," Draco grumbled as they rushed upstairs to their chambers. Harry's laughter did nothing to improve his mood. "Can't wait to see what dinner'll be like."
"Maybe a food fight?" Harry asked, smiling far too much for Draco's liking. "I could definitely see your family throwing things at the table."
Draco didn't mention that had happened once when he was an infant, but in the family's defense, they'd been under a lot of stress at the time. And the flying food had stopped Draco's crying and made them all feel better, so it worked out for the best.
"I'll be happy if they don't cook you," Draco said. He gathered their brooms from the corner beside the bed and handed the Firebolt to Harry.
Harry frowned. "They wouldn't, would they?"
"Never underestimate my father," Draco said. "Or Severus, or mother."
"What about you?" Harry asked, coming up behind him and nuzzling the back of his neck. "Can I underestimate you? You wouldn't cook me, would you?"
Draco smiled and tipped his head to the side, giving Harry better access. "Mm, I don't know. I've had a taste and I rather liked it."
"As long as you don't bite too hard..."
"You're mine now," Draco said. "I'll do what I want with you."
"I could say the same," Harry said. He wrapped his free arm around Draco and pulled him back against himself, holding him securely. "Who says you get to decide?"
"I'm a Malfoy," Draco said. He craned his head around for a kiss. "And we always get what we want."
"You forget, I'm a Malfoy, too."
"Exactly. You got me."
Harry laughed and let him go. "So where are we flying? We've got half the day."
"And some of the night," Draco said. "I want to show you what a night ride is like."
"Without the thievery and sporting with muggles?" Harry asked, echoing his past words.
"You'll sport with no one but me," Draco said, deliberately ignoring the part about thievery. He went to the window and eased sideways out of it, taking the air and leading the way across the sky. Harry followed at his shoulder.
The noise of the Malfoy house faded as they swept over muggle roads and towns, just high enough to be taken for owls by anyone who happened to look up. Harry flew a little closer and explained what the tv antennas and satellite dishes were, trying to convince a skeptical pureblood that the muggle vermin could put machines above the earth. Not to his surprise, Draco refused to believe that they had walked on the moon.
When they grew tired, they flew lower over empty fields, skimming across the grass and playing tag on their brooms. After several minutes of darting after Draco, Harry finally caught up and grabbed him off his besom, spilling them both on the ground. A couple of tumbles left Draco beneath Harry, and after a token struggle, Draco relaxed and let Harry pin down his hands.
"Got you," Harry said, panting from exertion. "You turn faster than a bloody snitch on that old thing."
"Gonna let your snitch go?" Draco asked as he squirmed underneath him.
"No." Harry let go of one hand so he could touch Draco's hair. "Never."
In retrospect, Draco thought as he lay unclothed beneath Harry who had yet to even kick off his shoes, perhaps he shouldn't condemn light wizards for rutting on the ground. Although he knew dark wizards were at least smart enough to do it on soft grass, not rocky dust.
Later on, because Draco absolutely refused to walk into a muggle town, let alone stop to eat at one of their restaurants, Harry had to walk half a mile into to the nearby town, buy lunch and then bring it back for him. Draco didn't offer to help but watched with a sense of morbid curiosity as Harry spread an assortment of sandwiches and cookies in front of him.
"What are the cans for?" he asked, picking up a red and white can and shaking it to see if he could hear what was inside. The can was almost painfully cold.
"It's pop. You drink it." Harry popped the tab and tried not to laugh when Draco dropped his own can like it was a snake. "Here, you take this one. Just try it."
Draco looked inside to see what was inside, then slowly brought it to his mouth and took a tiny sip. The sharp bite surprised him, but he took another, deeper drink this time.
"Not bad," he conceded. He stared in surprise when Harry opened the can he'd dropped and a fizzy foam poured out onto the grass. "What on earth?"
"That's what happens if you shake them," Harry grinned.
After they finished, Draco made sure to wave his wand and flick the leftovers and trash away, as if he was destroying rid of evidence against himself. But he made sure to remember the name on the pop can so he could ask Harry to get more for him later.
They took to the sky again as the sun set. In the deepening twilight, Draco returned to the heights he'd flown at through Voldemort's blizzard. His memories of fear and pain faded as he replaced them with new ones, dipping through the clouds as the stars glimmered and the moon lit his way over the tree tops. The wind lifted him up higher and higher until he watched the land fly by like a patchwork quilt dotted with houses and barns. There was no need to hide from muggles or light wizards, and as they crossed the countryside he found himself smiling. He lowered his broom in an easy swoop and came back up again for the sheer pleasure of the night air swirling around him.
"You were right," Harry said. "It's even more beautiful when the sun sets."
"You can only see the stars at night," Draco said.
"Even the wind feels different," Harry said. "Wilder."
"Of course," Draco said. "The night's belongs to us."
Their sun still sets, he thought, and our stars will never fade.
He wondered if Morgan would be satisfied with this outcome, neither side winning but instead living together. Certainly Merlin wouldn't, and perhaps that alone would satisfy her. A handful of dark wizards had survived despite Merlin's best efforts, and all of the Ministry's machinations had done nothing but drive Harry to the dark and the dark into the light. He smiled to himself. Just like the fairytales where the hero fights a war and kills the evil villain for the hand of his beloved.
He thought it might make a nice story for the books, if anyone bothered to put it to paper.
Slowly Sailing Moon, a traditional dark wedding song
(translated from the old language)
Scribe's feather on his parchment
with ink and stone and quill,
he writes the ending of the night
and how the moon was killed.
Of how the stars all faded
and the wild winds were tamed,
how gold o'ertook the silver
all to the sun's acclaim.
And all across the kingdom
the proclamation swore
the sun would reign forever.
We'd see the moon no more.
The wheat and lambs and children
would grow up to the light,
the war between the day and dark
now ends without a fight.
Peace, proclaimed the kingdom,
nightmares, dreams and dusk,
the haunts along the traveller's road
no more shall trouble us.
And the people cheered their rulers,
"the night is gone at last,"
but the sun still sets, the shadows grow,
and the moon still sails past.
So sign your laws and promises,
and say the dark is dead,
and cower by the hearth fire
and hide within your bed
for the moon still sails slowly
and the night is all our dream
and we'll haunt your roads forever
while the wild winds blow free.