Chapter 27 – Merlin

Draco sat nervously in Snape's office. He rubbed his fingers and fidgeted in the chair across from Snape's desk. The dark haired wizard had told him over breakfast that he had something serious to discuss with him. Draco jumped when Snape started talking.

"Something happened that you are not aware of. Something that I have kept from you. I want you to know I only kept it from you because I thought it was for the best." Severus looked serious and his dark eyes rested on Draco watching for his reaction.

Draco frowned. He couldn't imagine there being anything important enough to him that Snape would keep from him. Then a light dawned on him. "You knew that Dumbledore was alive?" he asked with resentment in his voice.

Snape's eyebrow rose and then he shook his head. "No I found out with the rest of you. This concerns your father."

Draco broke eye contact and shrugged. "He's dead. I don't want to talk about him. He's the past."

Snape sighed heavily. "After your father…'died', Weasley in a moment of unbridled concern transfigured your father's body into a balloon. Harry brought it to me upon my return to Hogwarts so I could decide whether to turn it over to you. Ron apparently figured you might need the body to grieve but he wasn't sure if it would just make things worse or better."

Draco had grown silent. Snape gave him time to digest the news. After a minute he stated.. "So you decided it would be best if I didn't know. That's fine. But I do want to know what you did with his body?"

"Well, this is where it gets complicated. Draco, when I transfigured the balloon back into Lucius I was shocked to find that he was still alive, barely, but alive none the less. I immediately attempted to heal him but his spine was broken. He was paralyzed. He hovered between life and death. Upon finding out he had lost his powers and would never walk again, he wanted to die and attempted to kill himself. Considering the state he was in, I felt, as your guardian, it would not be beneficial to you to see him as he was. I am sorry I kept that from you."

Draco had gone even paler than he normally was. He stared at Snape in disbelief. "Is he? Did he?" he whispered.

Snape swallowed heavily. "He lived. I had no choice but to send him to a muggle rehabilitation centre. I didn't know what to expect but given the state of mind he was in, I honestly did not expect him to live. But he surprised me. Draco your father is alive and he wants to see you."

Snape noticed how the blond Slytherin trembled

"I don't know how to feel. I can't believe my father is alive. Why did you keep it from me?" He bolted to his feet and backed out the door. "I don't want to hear anymore – I, I need time to think."

He ran out and up the stairs, he was about to bolt out the door, when Hermione saw him and grabbed his arm.

"Draco, what are you thinking it's freezing outside."

He looked at her with wide panicked eyes. "Why didn't you at least tell me?"

Hermione frowned. "What are you talking about? Tell you what?"

Draco narrowed his eyes and said hoarsely. "That my father is alive."

Hermione looked like someone just dropped a bucket of water on her. "What? Lucius isn't alive. What's wrong with you? Who would have told you something like that?'

Draco took a deep breath his heart pounding, he realized from Hermione's reaction that she really didn't know. "Snape told me."

She looked at him with disbelief. "What, no that isn't possible. You must have heard him wrong."

"Weasley transfigured what he thought was his dead body into a balloon and brought it back to Hogwarts so I would have a chance a to grieve. Except when Snape transfigured him back my father apparently was still alive. He's paralyzed and had no magic but he's alive. I just figured Weasley would have blabbed it to everyone within hearing distance."

Hermione looked amazed. "I can't believe Ron would have done something so sweet.'

Draco rolled his eyes. "Seriously that's all you can focus on? My father is alive."

"Where is he?" she asked.

"I…I don't know. I kind of ran out Snape's office after he told me." The Slytherin admitted. "Snape said something about a Muggle rehabilitation centre."

Hermione gasped. "He would kill them all as soon as he had a chance."

Ron and Harry came up to them. Harry asked, "You aren't planning on going outside are you? It's very chilly."

Draco sneered. "Thanks for telling me Weasley!'

Ron frowned. "What are you on about?"

"The fact that Lucius Malfoy is alive." Hermione stated glaring at him. "You could have at least told me."

Ron looked affronted. "Are you daft? He's dead."

"Did you or did you not transfigure him into a balloon and bring him to Snape?" Draco questioned coldly.

"Yeah, but I guess Snape decided that you would be better off without grieving over his body. He's dead Draco." Ron explained.

"No, no he's not. "Harry said quietly.

All eyes fell on Harry.

Draco looked the most betrayed. "You knew? And you didn't tell me?" He sounded almost hysterical. He turned to leave but Harry reached out and grabbed him. Draco tried to turn away but Harry cornered him against the wall. "Listen to me! I wanted to tell you. I argued with Snape. But he's your guardian and he was afraid that Lucius would guilt you into killing him. He wanted to die; he didn't want to live without his power and without the use of his legs. Snape didn't want you to live with that burden, he loves you. It wasn't an easy decision. In the end I honored his wishes and didn't tell you. You were already so hurt what good would it have done to hurt you even more."

He held Draco's shoulders against the wall, he could feel him trembling. His breathing was shallow and strained. "I'm sorry Draco, I'm sorry I didn't tell you."

"Malfoy, I'm sorry. I really only did it to help so that if you wanted you had a body to say goodbye to. I had no idea he was still alive." Ron said softly.

"I can't believe neither one of you told me! No matter what Draco should have been allowed to make the choice himself." Hermione stated angrily.

"I know." Harry stated softly. He let go of Draco's shoulders as he felt the anger leave him.

Draco's grey eyes looked into his. "What do I do now?"

In answer Harry hugged him briefly. "Whatever you decide we'll all be here if you want us."

He nodded. As harry let him go Ron came up. "I'm sorry," and gave him a hasty awkward hug.

Last came Hermione who just wrapped her arms around him tightly. His head sank into her shoulder and he closed his eyes.

Harry whispered to Ron. "I'd say that was our cue to exit."

Later just before dinner, Snape took Draco aside again.

"Are you all right?"

Draco half sneered. "Sure just splendid."

"You ran out before we could finish our conversation. A lot has changed. Your father has changed. He has fallen in love with his muggle doctor. He is moving in with her. He has no desire to move back into the wizard world. While he won't ever be able to walk on his own again, he can stand on his own. He desperately wants to see you. The decision is entirely up to you and I will support you no matter what you decide." Snape explained smiling softly at the look of complete shock on Draco's face.

"My father is in love with a Muggle?" he asked in disbelief.

Snape nodded. "Yes, head over heels I would say. Quite like you." He added.

Draco laughed softly at that. "I can't believe it."

"Neither could I at first, but it is true. Lucius wants to apologize to you if you are willing to hear it. I have invited him and Hester – that is doctor and ladylove to the Ministry of Magic. I thought that would be neutral ground and if you were willing to see him you could and if not…it would be fine as well." Snape explained.

Draco bit his lip. "I want to see him. He made peace with me before he died, he saved me-I had forgiven him but if he has truly changed so much…I want to see that."

Snape smiled. "That will make him extremely happy. I am very proud of you, Draco."

Draco hugged Snape, feeling the security he always felt with him.

"Does that mean I am forgiven?"" Snape asked.

Draco sighed. "I still wish you had told me, but harry explained why you didn't and I think feeling as I did back then, maybe I understand why you would want to protect me from that."

Snape kissed the top of Draco's head. "I am always in your corner, remember that."

A lump grew in Draco's throat and he coughed to clear it. "I know." He confirmed.

A few days later at the Ministry of Magic a very nervous Draco entered holding Hermione's hand and surrounded by Ron and Harry entered the lobby and laid eyes on his father.

Lucius was in a wheelchair and by his side stood a beautiful chestnut haired woman. She smiled at him warmly then moved away and went to get coffee.

Draco let go of Hermione's hand and on shaky legs made his way over to his father. As he got closer he saw that Lucius eyes were filled with tears and running down his face. Every few moments he brushed a hand over his face to clear them away. "Draco," he said with a shaky voice.

Draco sat down on a bench beside him. "Father, I can't believe you are alive. All this time I thought you were dead."

"In a way I was. I didn't want to exist like this." He waved his hand over the wheelchair. "I didn't think I could live without any magic, without any power."

"What changed?" the young wizard asked.

"Time helped and a stubborn, relentless, bossy muggle woman who somehow with a magic of her own made me see the world in a different way than I have ever seen it before. She opened my eyes, Draco. As you know I had done so many things wrong, made so many bad decisions. Hurt you beyond repair. I just want the chance to apologize to you – I know no words will ever compensate for what I did – I know that now but you are my son, and I wanted you to know that – I want you to be happy and live a wonderful life. And if you ever want to form a new relationship I would welcome the chance to prove to you I am a new man. I love you son." Lucius said tearfully.

Draco hugged him, tears running down his own face. It was inconceivable to him that his father was now the man he always wished he would be. A father who actually loved him.

He whispered. "I love you too, father."

They talked for a while longer and Draco expressed an interest to visit Lucius and Hester over the holidays. She joined them after a while and he liked her right away. She reminded him of Hermione a little.

They all went in together into the Ministry of Magic main hall. Harry went to join Ginny who was there with the remaining Weasley's. Luna grabbed Ron's hand and they sat together. Hermione and Draco sat with Lucius, Hester and Tonks.

The hall was filled with Hogwarts staff and students, aurors and a multitude of wizards and witches.

The hall grew silent as Albus Dumbledore came out to speak.

"Esteemed guests and colleagues we are here today to honour some remarkable people. A large number of people here today are to be commended in assisting the magical world to finally be free of Voldemort's influence. Please everyone give yourself a hand in whatever part you played in ensuring our freedom. I also want to recognize our brave aurors many of who lost their lives in this long fight. I give my condolences to all the brave fighters who families sit here today mourning their lost loved ones. "He cleared his throat. "I especially want to thank those who helped and guided the one person who had the most at stake in this battle. Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy would you please come up here?"

The three looked startled and shaken, Hermione blushing profusely and gripping Draco's hand so tightly he winced made her way up to the stage followed by Ron who remarkable was also red in the face. Dumbledore smiled and handed each of them a Laureate of Merlin bronze wand that magically swished around on its stand and shot off sparks. "Thank you brave ones for ensuring that Harry Potter not only had support but the love of friendship backing him in his trials." He smiled and looked out into the audience. "Harry Potter, please come up here."

Harry swallowed heavily his heart racing wildly. He was never good with acknowledgements and being the centre of attention. On wobbly legs he made his way up to Dumbledore.

"I would you like you all to note that since the demise of Voldemort," he paused and lightly brushed Harry's black hair off his forehead. "that Harry's scar has steadily been growing fainter. I believe I speak the truth when I say Harry never wanted the attention of that scar and all the notoriety that went with it. Harry as long as I have known him has been a humble hero. In fact he's probably cringing inside right now as I ply all this praise on him."

Harry chuckled lightly at that.

"Harry Potter, your parents Lily and James Potter would be so proud of you, as we all are. Our gratitude can't be adequately expressed with this but please accept this "Laureate of Merlin of the Highest standing" as a minor token of our esteem." He handed Harry a Silver wand slightly bigger that the one Ron, Hermione and Draco had received.

Dumbledore hugged him tightly. "Thank you Harry. I always knew you could do it."

After a deafening round of applause they returned to their seats. Ginny wrapped her arms around Harry and snogged him in front of everyone. Molly just rolled her eyes and shook her head but she was smiling as she did it.

"Now onto the last item on our agenda. There was one man who was engaged in this battle far more in-depth than any us. At a huge risk to himself he took the Dark Mark was perceived as one of Voldemort's closest Death Eaters. He spend years undercover enduring numerous cruciatus curses and forced at times to do things beyond his conscience. Voldemort considered him his closest personal assistant, his spy but in reality Severus Snape was always one of us. Reporting back to me on all known Death Eater plans. He did this under the threat of death for years. In the last few years he guided Harry and his friends, he became a guardian to Draco and he truly became the son I never had.

"To Severus Snape I award the Order of Merlin!" Dumbledore announced joyously to ear splitting applause.

Gasps suddenly echoed throughout the audience as Severus stepped foot on stage. Some people almost didn't recognize him. Severus Snape had washed his hair. Long gone were the greasy hair that had become his trademark over the years, in its place were black wavy locks. Locks unbeknownst to some that his Fiancé Tonks loved to now run her fingers through. Severus Snape was no longer the ill tempered git he once was, he was now a much happier man albeit currently very shocked and humbled.

Dumbledore enveloped him in a tight hug. "I'm proud of you son!" he handed him the large Golden wand that waved gently emitting a golden light.

With shaking hands Snape took the Order of Merlin. Not knowing what to say the usually acerbic professor looked out over the audience, his eyes settling on Draco, then Harry and lastly on Tonks. He said a clear "Thank You." And then shocked the audience again who had just managed to calm down from seeing the washed hair, by smiling broadly.

He left the stage after once again shaking Dumbledore's hand, went down and in front of everyone hugged Harry Potter.

The events at the Ministry of Magic were spoken of for years to come and as time passed and children were born and then grandchildren…stories were told of the battle with voldemort and they always concluded with the remarkable awards ceremony and what had transpired there.

A/N: Well my wonderful readers it is done. On an amazingly snowy February day, over 10 years after starting Solstice, so much has happened in my life, in the world and I'm sure in all of your lives. It's been a long ride to completion. I thank you all for your support, your feedback, your encouragement. I hope to someday soon get my very own novel published. I wish you all loads of friends, love, health and success in your lives. I'm not writing an epilogue but I will let you know that in my version Draco and Hermione had 2 children – Tessa and Zodiac Malfoy. Ron and Luna had 5 children (2 sets of twins) – Arthur, Geoffrey, Hexi, Cassiope and Zephyr (as I'm sure you have guessed Ron named the first two and Luna the other 3). Snape and Tonks had twins a boy and a girl (they are mentioned in "Severus Snape and the Three Christmas Ships"). and lastly Harry and Ginny had 3 children…Lillian, James and Arthur.

and they all lived as happily ever after as one would wish.