A/N: Hi all, hope you've had a wonderful summer! I thought it would be fitting to have the 3rd and final instalment of Solstice begin around the fall Solstice. I will try my best to update maximum every 4 weeks, although I will try more frequently than that-lots of feedback may inspire my muse. The chapters will be shorter than they were in Solstice II, I'm going back to writing shorter but hopefully more frequent like I did in the first Solstice.
Even though JKR has confirmed that Dumbledore is definitely dead, I still believe that Snape is on the side of good... which I must admit is a bit more challenging knowing now that he has killed. Hope you enjoy this final instalment there will be lots of twists – I think, so far, aside from this chapter nothing is recorded – it is all in my head.
If you have not read solstice I or II it might be a good idea to get yourself some eyedrops and backtrack before reading this or it will likely be rather confusing.
This chapter is dedicated to the memory of my own fluffy green- eyed, silver girl, Nymph.
Huge thanks to Catmint for beta-ing this chapter and for continually asking if I had anything ready yet. Thanks to Sarah and all others for their gentle hints to get a move on. The prompting made me finally take action.
Disclaimer: None of it is mine; it all belongs to the extremely talented JKRChapter 1: Muggle Madness
Harry Potter was not enjoying his summer holidays. He kept to himself most of the time, preferring to stay as far away from his relatives as was possible. Sometimes he felt numb, not quite believing that Dumbledore was dead. Other times an almost unbearable state of panic took over when he thought of that piece of Voldemort's soul that was inside of him.
His state of absence suited the Dursleys, who still had Dumbledore's visit from last summer fresh in their minds. Harry did not reveal that the headmaster had died. He knew they would have enjoyed that bit of information and seeing them happy over the headmaster's death would have made it impossible to not pull out his wand and hex them.
Harry listened to the news with growing trepidation: the police were hunting for a serial killer, whomthey believed was using some kind of undetectable poison to murder his victims. Countless Muggles were being found dead, with no apparent cause of death other than a look of mild surprise on their still faces. There was no mark on them and autopsies revealed nothing other than their hearts seeming to have mysteriously stopped. Every time Harry heard of another death, a combination of anger and despair welled up in him. He had to stop Voldemort.
He was getting a substantial bit of mail from Ron, Hermione and Ginny. Even Luna and Neville had written. Everyone was upset over Dumbledore's death.
Ginny's letters by far made him feel best. Her unwavering confidence in his ability to succeed warmed his heart especially during the days of self-doubt when he questioned how he could possibly succeed when the most powerful wizard of all time had succumbed. He hadn't heard anything from Snape, which disappointed him, but he knew the man had enough to deal with – Voldemort was in all likelihood demanding much ofhis time and Snape was dealing with his own grief over Dumbledore's death. Tonks, Moody and Lupin had been keeping in touch and for that he was grateful. However, the final conversation he had had with Snape stayed with him. He wasn't ready to share that with any of them yet. The thought that a piece of Voldemort's soul was inside him was horrifying. His stomach rumbled uncomfortably at the knowledge.
His thoughts moved on to Draco. He hadn't heard anything from the blond Slytherin since he hadleft. He had thought that a bond had formed between them but apparently Draco didn't, as he never shared his plans with him. Hermione kept explaining in her letters that the Slytherin's behaviour really wasn't Draco's fault. He was reacting to everything that had happened to him duringtheir sixth school year. Harry supposed that Draco was in shock and confused. All the more reason why he should nothave run away into a world of whichhe knew little.
"Harry! Harry Potter, get in here and start cooking dinner! Vernon will be home any minute now!" came Aunt Petunia's shrill voice.
Draco Malfoy stared warily at the big white square contraption in front of him. What was he supposed to do with it? He could see, a little further down, the insides of one of them churning wildly as white clothes spun around in a multitude of bubbles.
He tentatively reached down and tugged on the handle. It sprang open so fast that he lost his balance and toppled into his laundry basket.
An older Muggle stopped reading her newspaper to stare at him and chuckled softly. He threw her a disgusted look and hesitantly started gently placing his clothes into the strange machine.
"You might like to wash your whites and colours separately," the old Muggle advised.
Draco sneered, "No, I might not." He wished everyone would just leave him alone.
She shrugged. "Suit yourself."
He opened the box that Desmond, his employer and landlord, had given him and poured half of the blue powder into the machine. He slammed the door and stared at the knobs. He picked the settings and hit the 'start' button.
The large white block started making a loud noise and he could see water start to fill it. Fascinated, he watched as it started to swirl around his clothes and mix with the blue powder he had added. He smirked to himself proudly. He had done it without any help.
Suddenly frothy blue bubbles started to leak out and he jumped back in alarm.
"Wise guy! You're not getting away without cleaning this up!" a burly man bellowed at him as he rushed out of a back room and grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt. He practically threw him at a mop and bucket. "Clean it up and next time don't empty the whole box in!"
Draco was about to protest that he had only used half the box but somehow, judging by the angry look on the owner's face, that information wouldn't be relevant to him.
His face flushed pink as he cleaned up the bubbles and the water all the while under the watchful gaze of the hoard of Muggles in the laundrette. His detentions with Filch had taught him how to use a mop and bucket – much to his disgust. For the next 15 minutes he angrily tackled the frothy mess, wishing he could just sling the wet mop at all the despicable Muggle observers. He swore under his breath cursing their wretched existence. He finally finished at around the same time as his clothes. He hastily took them out and to his dismay noticed that almost everything that had been white was now pink or a dull pink gray. He shuddered when he noticed in amongst his clothes a bright red bra. Glancing around furtively, he gingerly picked it up and dropped it to the floor. With his foot he nonchalantly kicked it under the nearest machine.
"Stupid Muggle contraption," he cursed as he looked at his rosy coloured clothes. House elves were horrid, stupid creatures but at least they got his clothes clean and the clothes retained their correct colour.
The old Muggle woman walked by without saying a word, but Draco saw her smile as she glanced at his pink clothes. He flushed again before packing up and heading back to the pub.
The news that evening reported more attacks on Muggles – though they did not, of course, use the word "Muggle" as they were unaware that such a word existed, or indeed that they themselves were Muggles.
The entire Dursley clan glared at Harry as if these deaths were directly his fault. Feeling dejected, Harry headed up to his room. He sat on the bed and Circe immediately jumped up to his side. The little kitten was growing and her fur was getting more and more fluffy. She nipped his hand in a way that made him think of Hedwig. The owl's death was still painful for him. Circe's presence in the otherwise hostile Dursley household kept him sane. He loved waking up in the morning to her curled up in his arms, licking his nose and purring loudly. She also made him laugh with snores that almost matched Dudley's.
His thoughts went back to the destruction thatVoldemort was causing. He had to do something. He had to get that piece of evil soul out of his head.
He worried about Hermione and her parents. What if Voldemort went after her, knowing what her death would do to him? He couldn't lose anyone else that he loved. He had realized this summer that he loved Hermione and Ron and the Weasleys especially a little redheaded dark-eyed one. They were the family that he had always wanted and always missed.
After washing up, he lay down on the bed, wistfully wishing that he was at The Burrow.
Late that evening, Draco found himself itching to use his wand.He scowled at the dirty dishwater as he reached in to soak the plates, cups and utensils. His hands would never look good again. This was house elf work – certainly nothing a pureblooded Malfoy should be doing. Yet finding a job with no experience was justabout impossible. As it was, the pub owner had had to show him how to wash dishes. He'd looked at him quizzically when Draco had politely asked him to demonstrate how to wash dishes. But Desmond, the kind, elderly, Irish owner didn't make fun of him and patiently showed him what was expected.
Draco couldn't get access to his accounts at Gringotts. Apparently nothing could be removed until his mother's estate was settled. He was lucky in that he had a roof over his head, being allowed to rent the one room area over the pub. It was dingy and old but at least it was clean. He had quiteliterally run in horror at some of the flats he had previously looked at, complete with rat and cockroach infestations.
The days were his to do as he pleased but he usually laboured long into the night washing dishes. Desmond hadhad to correct him on anumber of occasions when the forks weren't quite clean or a plate was left with a food-encrusted corner. Gradually, as he improved, he found thathe enjoyed Desmond's company and the praise he gave when everything was sparkling by night's end. It may have beentrivial work but at least it was appreciated. He even got excess food at the end of the night but Desmond wouldn't let him have any beer, the mysterious drink that Muggles seemed to love to guzzle. He wondered if it tasted anywhere near as good as Butterbeer. He quickly discovered that being 17, an of-age wizard, meant nothing inthe Muggle world. He was still considered a minor for another year. He wasn't even allowed to serve alcohol in the pub.
His appreciation for Muggles had not grown – aside from Desmond, the rest were loud, obnoxious, uncouth louts. They seemed to have nothing better to do than fight about the latest soccer game, which Draco deemed a pathetic substitute for Quidditch, and swill beer until they turned into a bunch of blabbering idiots. Constantly the bar rattled from the loud roars for some lame team called QPR or Palace.
He found himself unexpectedly missing Potter's company. Potter may have grown up as a Muggle but at least he had some refinement. He wondered how Potter was getting on. He felt rather guilty for having not said goodbye to him but Potter had his cheering committee; he really didn't need a troublesome Slytherin. Yet he missed him. He had picked up the telephone number that Hermione had given him on a number of occasions in order to call her but everytime he went near the phone and grabbed the receiver he quickly replaced it without even dialling. He had watched the patrons of the pub use it on a number of occasions but it seemed so foreign, so unlike using the Floo or an owl.
He wondered about Hermione. Did she think about him at all or had she and the Weasel gotten together? A wave of anger washed over him at the thought. He also thought of Pansy, was she at least missing him? He hadn't told her where he was going. He wondered if she would still stick by him, knowing that he had switched sides and had lost any power he could have had. Somehow he didn't think so – Pansy was fickle. She adored the Malfoy name as long as it camecomplete with power and money. He was likely worthless to her now.
He wondered if his exile from the life he had known was helping him at all. He still had terrible nightmares ranging from his almost-fatal beating to the Dark Lord's attack. Sometimes he hated waking sweat-soaked, alone in the dark. He missed Snape; his presence was, at times, a calming influence. He wondered if Snape had made any attempt to look for him or if he had decided that life was better without his untrusting, resentful ward. He thought back to their last conversations. He hadn't meant to make him feel that way. In retrospect he knew thatSnape had only been trying to help him. He thought of Snape, McGonagall, Harry, Hermione, Tonks and, with a wince, Dumbledore. They were his family now. He knew thatSnape loved him and he knew thatMcGonagall and the rest of them truly cared about him. He knew thathe had been stupid. Maybe running away like this did make him realize what he had left behind. His heart gave a painful stab.
His thoughts were disrupted by a loud commotion in the pub. Curious, Draco dried his hands and cautiously made his way to the door.
Two Muggles were fighting. He sniffed disdainfully, suddenly remembering using his fists against Potter in their fifth year. He had ended up with a broken nose that Pomfrey hadrapidly repaired but Potter had been banned from Quidditch by Umbridge.
It seemed like a lifetime ago.
Next Chapter: Draco is horrified to see a familiar face, Harry learns something mysterious about Petunia.