Disclaimer: All characters belong to J.K. Rowling and I'm just using them for sinister purposes evil snicker
WARNING: Sexual content between males!This is rated Mature (M) for a reason. So if you're underage, or you might take offense to this, I'm not responsible for your choice to read this.
Author's Note: I am going to warn you ahead of time, this is a different take on Harry/Draco's relationship than I normally do. It's not as light-hearted. Draco is super stubborn in this because he's so full of anger not just because of how he was raised but because of everything he went through with the war and everything. The way J.K. Rowling portrayed him throughout the books was that he was arrogant, stubborn, cruel and judgmental and very reserved in his feelings. This is how I've portrayed him in this story. It doesn't end badly, it's just a darker take on how their romance develops.
Synopsis: Harry is distressed from the war and all the burdens forced upon him even after there is hope that Voldemort may be gone for good. Along with that uncertainty, Harry continues to distrust many people but especially Draco Malfoy after he bumps into him in the Ministry. Harry's suspicion surrounding the Malfoy heir heightens to obsession. And when Harry discovers a mysterious legend that could potentially destroy any hope of peace, he targets Draco as his suspect and trails him to a prestigious and mysterious school where things start to take an interesting turn.
The Daily Prophet
Since the end of last spring there has been death and destruction everywhere from England to Scotland and Ireland, raging around the world. You-Know-Who was gaining more power than the first time he caused massive chaos. Many people were fleeing to the muggle world for their lives and were trying to hide from the Dark Age. This reporter as well took time off but now it seems as though the Dark Age might be gone for good.
However they did it, Minister Scrimageour and the remaining Order of the Phoenix members managed to capture many of You-Know-Who's followers during an attack on a town. They had surrounded them with a massive anti-apparation charm. Without being able to escape they were easily outnumbered. A battle broke out but Minister Scrimageour and his aurors eventually won. The other day, Minister Scrimageour was interviewed and had this to say:
"It was a most difficult and risky choice but we were sure that if the death eaters were captured it would make it almost impossible for the Dark Lord to continue to be such a threat. After all, it is obvious he relies so heavily on his followers."
There you all have it. The Minister somehow, miraculously or maybe strategically, figured out where the death eaters would attack next and since about thirty death eaters and other followers were captured You-Know-Who has retreated. As long as the Minister continues to do his job so well the rest of us should be safe to continue our lives without hiding. When asked if he thinks You-Know-Who will try and wage a war again or obtain his followers in the near future, the Minister responded:
"It is unlikely as we have many of his allies which are being held in a new fortress prison Azcar, surrounded by giants and aurors. All of his allies will be executed after all of them have been given Veritaserum to tell us everything about the Dark Lord. So far, none have said he is plotting anything. It is clear he has retreated out of fear and as long as his allies are executed and the giants and vampires remain neutral, he will not return. I guarantee it."
Minister Scrimageour has saved us all! And very shortly any threats will be gone. And remember, the Minister will be appearing in various towns to speak so be sure to get his autograph!
The article was crumpled hastily into a ball and thrown into the fireplace. Slumping back against the velvet cushion of the chair, Harry watched the article magically disintegrate with a small sizzle. He was beyond furious at the Minister now. Minister Scrimageour had taken all the credit without having mentioned that it was Harry who tipped him off where the death eaters would be attacking next. He hadn't planned on telling the Minister, because the Minister expected him to fight in the front line with the rest of the aurors and remaining Order of the Phoenix members.
Harry knew if he had done that they would all have been relying on him to stand in front of them and defeat Voldemort's allies mainly by himself. Then again, Harry figured one of the main reasons Scrimageour took up the Minister position when no one wanted it during a time when the burden of a coming war was prominent was because Scrimageour thought that he would be able to get Harry to do most of the work for him. Essentially, it ended up that way even though Harry didn't work with him during the war.
Harry had been on his own trying to figure out a more permanent way to destroy Voldemort by finding all his Horcruxes and eliminating them. The Minister thought it was a waste of time and that a better way was to surround them and outnumber them, but Harry knew better. He was aware that Voldemort was much more clever than that and even if the death eaters were outnumbered, Voldemort couldn't die or be defeated unless his Horcruxes were destroyed. The Minister didn't seem to believe him and Harry figured it was because the Minister didn't want to believe Voldemort was really immortal so he refused to believe in Horcruxes.
Harry had risked his life by forcing himself to get a premonition through his scar. He knew it was dangerous and that if he were to risk using his bond with Voldemort again the Dark Lord would have much easier access into his mind than before. Not to mention, it wasn't easy getting into Voldemort's head after he figured out Harry could. However, Harry discovered a useful potion by accident. He was brewing a dream potion to see if he could dream up a premonition and accidentally a bottle containing a freezing potion fell in. Harry thought it had ruined the potion, but Hermione had told him he had, miraculously, accomplished making a very advanced and rare potion: an astral projection potion.
When Harry drank it, he was able to concentrate hard enough to get through to Voldemort's thoughts without being detected, at least long enough to see his next plans. And he had decided on telling the Minister at the last minute because he wasn't sure he could do it by himself. It turns out that the Minister used his information to his advantage and managed to bribe quite a number of giants and former Order of the Phoenix members to surround the place, cloaked by invisibility. The moment the death eaters showed up they cast a massive anti-apparation spell and proceeded to battle and trap the death eaters with their advantage. However, they only went through with it because Harry had told the Minister that Voldemort himself wouldn't be there.
What made matters worse was that Scrimageour was also reassuring the public that Voldemort wouldn't return. Harry knew that as long as Voldemort was still alive he would be plotting his next moves. And it always turned out that every time one of Voldemort's plans failed, his next one was often more complex and harder to stop. Even without many of his death eaters, if the Minister managed to execute them all before Voldemort gained enough power or a plan to get his followers back, Voldemort would never quit. After all, when Voldemort was defeated by Harry as a baby he spent years as a bodiless spirit, doing nothing but possessing small animals and living in dark places just biding his time. That kind of patience and, in Harry's opinion, psychotic determination was impossible to stop or predict.
The Minister was being foolish but there was nothing Harry could do at the moment. Voldemort had probably figured out it was Harry who tipped off the Minister after many of his death eaters had been captured, Bella Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy among them. Snape had vanished without a trace and the other bunch of death eaters that hadn't been captured had fled into hiding. There was a chance that Voldemort would hunt out the remaining death eaters and force them to aid him—that was another risk. Scrimageour had said several days ago when he had given a speech in Hogsmeade, that he was sending out aurors and giants left and right to find the remaining death eaters. Harry doubted that would be enough. Voldemort would find a way to wreak havoc even without followers.
The Gryffindor portrait swung open and Hermione and Ron entered the room. Harry glanced over at them and saw that Ron was carrying a plate of food. Staring back into the fire, Harry wished yet again that it would all be over soon. If he could forget about Voldemort, the Ministry and the fame, criticism and torture that came with his scar, he would be satisfied.
"Harry, we brought you something to eat," Hermione said, smiling softly.
"I'm not hungry," Harry grumbled, pulling a leg up on the chair as he continued to stare into the fire.
He didn't notice the looks exchanged by his friends.
"You have barely eaten anything these past couple of weeks," Hermione urged.
Harry shrugged carelessly. "I grew up being starved by the Dursleys, remember? I think I can go a few weeks without eating much."
"Harry," Hermione said firmly.
Ron sighed, setting the plate down as he slumped onto a nearby couch. "Look mate, we know how you feel. It's hard for all of us."
"I know," Harry said quietly, glancing at Ron. "Is there any word about Percy?"
Ron's expression darkened. "No, mum's extremely upset. Even though we haven't gotten along with him, it seems he has just vanished. I mean, at least before we would know when he was with the Ministry or not."
"I'm sure he'll turn up," Hermione said hopefully.
Ron looked away and Harry remained silent for several minutes.
"I'm grateful those bloody murdering bastards are getting executed this weekend," Ron spoke up.
"Yeah, but Voldemort's still out there," Harry said darkly. "And as long as he's still alive there's always a chance at another war."
"But it'd be more difficult without his death eaters, right?" Ron asked.
"That's what the Minister wants everyone to believe. I think he believes it himself too," Harry's eyes narrowed. "But I know Voldemort by now and he's not the type to give up, no matter what."
"Bloody hell," Ron grumbled, rubbing at his eyes. "We've gone through enough already."
Hermione sighed heavily. "Yeah and it doesn't help that the Minister is making the executions public."
"Why? I think that's a good thing," Ron said heatedly. "Everyone wants to tell those murdering assholes what they think of them. I mean, if someone you cared about was murdered by them, wouldn't you want to watch them die?"
"Revenge isn't something I agree with," Hermione retorted firmly. "But at the same time, I do realize that keeping them alive even in the new fortress is dangerous because V-Voldemort will most likely attempt to break them out."
Ron winced at the name, but Harry hardly noticed. "Yeah, I can't wait till I see the Malfoys executed!" Ron exclaimed.
Hermione's head swiveled around, looking surprised. She opened her mouth then closed it. "Well, Lucius Malfoy for sure will be executed because it has been proven he was a willing follower and murdered quite a number of people, plus other crimes. His wife didn't murder anyone, but she's going to be executed anyway because she refuses to denounce her allegiance to the Dark Lord. Plus she has the Dark Mark as well."
" 'course she does! She's a Malfoy! They're all evil! And I can't wait to see the look on Malfoy's face when he and his family are ridiculed and killed in front of everyone!"
"If you mean, Draco Malfoy," Hermione said, casting a disapproving glance at him for his excitement in watching death, "he's not going to be executed."
"What? He nearly killed Dumbledore! And he's the reason the Death Eaters got into Hogwarts!" Ron exclaimed, sitting up in outrage.
"Maybe, but they can't execute people who are eighteen or younger. Malfoy is only seventeen like us. It's illegal to murder juveniles," Hermione said as if it was the most obvious fact.
Ron scowled in disappointment and clenched his fists. "Well, as long as he rots in Azkaban or some prison I'll be happy!"
"Can juveniles be sent to Azkaban?" Harry spoke up, having been lost in thought listening to them as they argued.
Hermione glanced at Ron nervously and then shook her head. "Not Azkaban. Juveniles can have their wands broken or taken away and be sent to a penitentiary only…well, they don't exist anymore."
"What the hell does that mean?" Ron snapped.
"Back in the early 1800's, much after it was ruled unjust to execute juvenile wizards and witches for crimes, they realized the penitentiaries weren't working out. Some reformed, but many didn't. Ironically, years later the number of juveniles committing crimes decreased even though the penitentiaries hadn't seemed to help so they decided to take them away. There was also a strong correlation between the criminal juvenile and the way they were brought up. Most of the time after that if a young person committed a crime but one or both of their parents or family members were involved in the Dark Arts or somehow connected, they sentenced the family or parents and just took away the wand of the juvenile and sent him or her to an orphanage," Hermione explained, pushing back her long, wavy brown hair.
"So what will happen to Malfoy then?" Harry asked curiously.
Hermione pursed her lips in thought. "I suppose, if anything, they'll take away his wand and keep him somewhere safe where he can't get in touch with any of his family."
"An orphanage?" Ron asked hopefully.
"Well, no, because until both his parents die he's not technically an orphan. Not to mention he only has less than a year, maybe only a few months depending on when his birthday is, until he's considered an adult so the likelihood of that is small," Hermione stated calmly, as Ron scowled again. "But he's going to have to make up for the things that he has done. I'm not sure if he has actually been charged with anything or not. He may just be forced to do community service for the Ministry or someone. And I'm pretty sure his wand would be taken away, at least until he completes a certain amount of community service tasks."
Ron murmured something under his breath but Harry was too far away to hear what he said. He wasn't sure how much Malfoy had done, or if he had committed anything as high as murder. The blond hadn't been able to kill Dumbledore, but it had been a while now since the end of sixth year so there was no telling what Malfoy was like or even what he had done since then. Harry couldn't believe the war had ended so abruptly. Technically, it had begun the previous year when Voldemort was after the prophecy in the Ministry but even during years prior Voldemort had attempted things. So perhaps the war had really begun when Harry came to Hogwarts.
Still, raids upon towns and many deaths and disappearances all happened soon after Dumbledore's funeral. From what Harry heard the adults say, it was much more disastrous than the first Dark Age when Voldemort first came to power years ago during the time that Harry's parents were alive and part of the Order. Percy went missing and a number of Hogwarts students either vanished or were murdered. Pansy Parkinson's family vanished so it was unclear whether they were in hiding because they had willingly joined Voldemort's ranks during the war, or if they had been killed.
Most likely after all the Death Eaters were forced to drink Veritaserum, the Ministry would know most of who had been killed. And Blaise Zabini had been killed during a Death Eater raid. He and his family had also joined Voldemort's ranks. He had been killed by an auror who had been targeting another Death Eater that was attacking him and the other Death Eater apparated out of the way in time, but Blaise had been thrown off his feet and when he had landed his neck snapped. Many others had been injured as well. St. Mungo's was completely packed and families were still in hiding because they were too afraid to come out.
Hogwarts still had many students because it remained one of the safest places, but Harry knew that Hogwarts was always a main target of Voldemort's. So as long as Voldemort was alive, he would try and find other ways past the shields. Luckily, since Draco Malfoy's clever scheme, the Room of Requirement had been sealed off entirely. Harry had also heard recently that the other schools that had been shut down, such as Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, among others, might be reopening by Christmas, which happened to be only a couple months away.
"I think I'm going to go to bed," Hermione said, standing up. "I'll see you both tomorrow."
"Night," Harry said quietly.
Ron nodded to her and watched as she went up the stairs toward the seventh year girl dorms. Silence hung around them and Harry stared back into the fire. After a few minutes, Ron cleared his throat to get his attention.
"I think I'm going to go to bed too," he said, stretching as he stood up.
Harry nodded wordlessly and Ron disappeared up the stairs to the seventh year boys' dorms. Although he hadn't gotten much sleep over the course of the war, especially the past few weeks as Voldemort's terror spread and death hung like a cloud in the air, Harry didn't feel like going to bed. Footsteps sounded and Harry thought at first that Ron was coming back downstairs until he realized it was coming from the direction of the stairs leading to the girls' dorms. He glanced up expecting to see Hermione but instead Ginny appeared looking tired and pale in her long white nightgown. Harry glanced away awkwardly, hoping that she would be too tired to talk.
"Harry? I thought I heard voices," Ginny said softly as she came further into the room. "You can't sleep?"
He shrugged half-heartedly. " 'spose not."
"Are you afraid that You-Know-Who will get into your mind?" Ginny asked, looking a little nervous.
Harry glanced up at her and slowly shook his head. "No. I've mastered Occlumency. Even if he did figure out it was me who tipped the Minister off, in which case he'll know I had used my scar to spy on him, I've blocked off my mind again so he can't get through."
Ginny's lips curled into a small smile. "That's a relief."
Uncertainly, Harry watched as she approached his side. "Er, it's kind of late," Harry said, trying to hint that he didn't feel like talking.
Ginny's eyes dimmed for a minute and then she rested a hand on Harry's arm. "Harry, I just want you to know that…well, I know you broke up with me at the end of our sixth year, after Dumbledore's funeral and all, to protect me. And I know we haven't really seen much of each other since the war really broke out and…," Ginny hesitated and glanced downward.
"I mean, this is the first time I've really had the chance to talk to you since things have calmed down so I just wanted to let you know, in case You-Know-Who comes back and we're separated again, that I still have feelings for you. I always think about you and…and even though we didn't really get to be a couple, I hope that once You-Know-Who is defeated for good maybe we could then have our chance to be together," she finished softly, her cheeks darkening slightly.
Harry felt his stomach flip uncomfortably. He certainly didn't want to hurt Ginny's feelings. It was true during his sixth year he felt a crush on her, stronger than the one he felt for Cho, so he had kissed her and she instantly had agreed to be his girlfriend. Now, however, he didn't have the same feelings. He wasn't sure if it was because he was so exhausted and afraid that the war wasn't over, or if he just really hadn't been in love with her like he had thought.
"Harry?" Ginny spoke up, turning her sad, questioning eyes upon him.
"Sorry, I'm tired," Harry said, rubbing his eyes.
"Did you, um, hear what I said?" she asked tentatively.
Uncomfortably, Harry nodded. "Er, yeah and I appreciate everything you've done. I know it has been hard for you and Ron, you know, since Percy has vanished, and—"
"Harry," Ginny interrupted, coming to stand in front of him. "That's not what I'm talking about. I mean about us. I know you were protecting me before and if You-Know-Who is really gone then we can be together!"
"Ginny," Harry shook his head, "Voldemort isn't dead. He's still out there, alive and most likely planning his revenge. Every time his plans fail he tries even harder the next time. And I'm certain he's beyond furious and a furious Dark Lord isn't exactly a cup of a tea."
Furrowing her eyebrows, Ginny nodded sadly. "I understand that, Harry, but…," she stared at him looking a little frustrated. "Don't you think that You-Know-Who already knows you well enough? I mean, he has been watching you for such a long time and he got into your mind back in fifth year. I'm sure he knows who all your friends are, Harry! Including me," she said as Harry licked his dry lips nervously. "That means that even though you distance yourself to protect all of us You-Know-Who still knows who you care about. So really, distancing yourself and forcing yourself to be alone like this is all for nothing! If You-Know-Who knows all us anyway, then why do we have to apart? Why do you have to do everything on your own?"
"I don't do everything on my own, Ginny," Harry said quietly. "You guys still help me."
"Yes, but you still distance yourself, Harry. Why can't we be together? If You-Know-Who already knows all of us then he may already know how we feel about each other," she said as Harry glanced away. "And if…if something happens to you, Harry—"
"It'll be better if we're not together, Ginny. If we were a couple then it'd be harder if something did happen, wouldn't it?" Harry questioned, shifting uncomfortably. "Ginny…I…"
Ginny stepped back one as he hesitated and she bit her lip. "Do you…do you not want to get back together?"
Harry stared up at her, his mouth partly open. He had never been in this sort of situation before but for the life of him he couldn't find anything to say. He tried to remember the advice Hermione gave him and the little experience he had had with Cho, but it was no use. Ginny's lip quivered as she stared at him.
"H-Harry?" she stammered. "Do you or do you not want to get together with me, even after the war is over?"
Swallowing the large lump that seemed to accumulate in his throat, Harry stared at her gently and slowly stood up.
"I…," he hesitated, seeing that Ginny was on the verge of tears. "I do, but I just…Voldemort could come back worse than ever."
Ginny's tears didn't fall and she seemed relieved after he said that. Smiling shakily, she nodded and then grasped his hands in hers. "Harry, I understand why you're afraid. I'm afraid too, but we shouldn't have to be apart. If we let You-Know-Who terrify us then that's giving him control. I'm sure that's what he wants. Look…I know you still want to protect me, so how about we spend time together in secret once in a while?"
"Ginny, er, it's too dangerous, even in Hogwarts. The more time I spend alone with you, the more memories of you I'll have in my mind. If Voldemort ever does get an opportunity into my mind he'll know for sure…and then you'll probably become a main target. Voldemort has never used Ron or Hermione to get to me in the past and he knows about them, but if he thinks you're different…," Harry trailed off, swallowing nervously.
Ginny just shook her head and then threw her arms around him. "Harry, you're so sweet! It'll be hard, but…but I know you just care about me, so…so we won't be a couple," she said, looking down sadly. "But once You-Know-Who is defeated then we can be together."
Harry smiled reluctantly and Ginny reached up and kissed his cheek. Then she waved goodnight and walked back up to her dorm. Harry slumped back into his chair and sighed heavily. It was so hard to understand what to do. His life was already complicated without his confusion about Ginny and thoughts of his future. He knew he had liked Ginny before and he knew that she had good qualities: she was pretty, smart and he knew her and her entire family very well. He also knew that there were still plenty of guys who were envious of him because he was with her, so why wasn't he excited about being with her?
Tiredly, Harry stood up and went up to his room. Ron was already snoring soundly as he passed. When he reached his bed, however, there was a letter lying on it. Curiously, Harry adjusted his glasses and opened it.
To Harry James Potter,
The Minister of Magic requests a meeting in his office tomorrow morning at ten. It is of vital importance.
Crumpling the letter up, Harry glowered in the dark. He finally changed into his pajamas and set his glasses on the nightstand next to the bed. He certainly didn't feel like seeing the Minister, but it was an obligation no doubt. The Minister always used his position when necessary to get Harry to speak with him, or rather to listen to him try to persuade him to become his puppet. And it was the weekend too—just what he wanted to do first thing on a Saturday. Sighing irritably, Harry closed his eyes and fell into a restless sleep.
As the rays of early morning sunlight came through his curtains, Harry reluctantly slid out of bed and got dressed. He flew to the Ministry and headed up to the Minister's office by way of the elevator. Several flying pieces of parchment were in the elevator with him, but Harry took no notice. He slumped toward the Minister's office and knocked briefly. The door opened by itself and Harry went inside.
Minister Scrimageour was sitting at his desk with a small glass of what appeared to be Firewhiskey, but Harry wasn't sure. He knew it was a very expensive alcohol in the wizard world. He only knew that because Lucius Malfoy would often boast about having an entire collection in his mansion.
"Harry, please sit," the Minister gestured to the cushioned chair in front of his desk.
Reluctantly, he obeyed and waited silently.
"As you might know, Potter, it is difficult to maintain peace," Scrimageour spoke as he stared at him. "There are many buildings to repair, quite a number of funerals and a lot of paperwork. Now I have spoken with the public, trying to calm them down and let them know that peace is on its way and to not fret about another war. The vampires and giants have made an agreement to remain neutral, but I won't feel better until it's magically binding. That's where you come in, Harry," he smiled as he stood up.
"I want you to become my right-hand assistant. That way with you also reassuring the public there won't be so much panic. And I'm sure the vampires and giants would be more likely to seal a magical contract knowing you're asking them."
"Why? They think you're the one who defeated Voldemort on your own," Harry said bitterly.
Minister Scrimageour shook his head, still smiling. "Harry, I was doing you a favor. I know that you don't like a lot of attention so I thought that not including your name would give you a bit of space."
Harry pursed his lips angrily and crossed his arms. "You purposefully denied that I even helped at all! If it wasn't for me Voldemort would've taken over!"
"And that is why I want you by my side," the Minister continued. "With you helping out around here, Harry it would give you the experience necessary for becoming an auror, which is what you said you wanted to be back in your fifth year, and it will keep the public from becoming chaotic. Now, I know you have studies to do so I won't interfere with that, but in your free time you can come and help out here. So, what do you say?"
Harry's eyes narrowed. "I can't."
"Harry," Scrimageour sat on the edge of his desk and stared at him, "think about how much you're helping the public."
"I can't because I don't agree with you," Harry said firmly. "I know Voldemort's going to try to come back."
"Most of his allies will be executed in the next few days and once we have a magical contract with the vampires and giants, the Dark Lord will have very few allies."
"Voldemort doesn't need them!" Harry exclaimed. "He can force whoever he needs to do his bidding! He's just biding his time until he can figure out how to attack when we're most vulnerable! He's not going to give up unless he's dead!"
Scrimageour sighed heavily. "Harry, you have to understand that in this world there is no perfection. We can not have complete peace, but we can come close enough. The Dark Lord wouldn't dare attack when we have the upper hand. Now, I'll give you until tomorrow evening to give me your answer. You're free to leave."
Harry opened his mouth then hastily got up and left the room. He was incredibly furious with the Minister, so much that he wasn't paying much attention. He slammed into something and fell backward.
"Er, sorry," Harry grumbled as he stood up.
"Well, it looks as though the famous Harry Potter lacks coordination," a voice drawled.
Harry's eyes slowly rose, taking in the tight black jeans and tight long-sleeved silver shirt up to the blond bangs flowing at the sides of a fair-skinned face. Two intense silver-blue eyes stared heatedly into his own.
"Malfoy! What the hell are you doing here?"
He pulled out his wand and Malfoy's eyes narrowed. "I wouldn't do that if I were you, Potter. I'm here on the Minister's orders."
Malfoy smirked and pushed his blond bangs back from his face. Harry glowered at him.
"Why the hell would the Minister let you wander around freely?"
Narrowing his eyes, Malfoy took a few steps closer. "That's none of your business Potter. But that's always been your problem. Always too nosey for your own good. From what my father said, your Godfather was too nosey as well and look where it got him."
"Shut the hell up!" Harry snapped, lunging out at him.
Malfoy gracefully dodged his punch, smirking widely. "You've still got a temper, Potter. You better watch it."
"Yeah, well I heard your two murdering parents are going to be executed!" Harry shot back harshly.
Malfoy's expression darkened as his sneer turned into fury. He lunged back at him and Harry dodged his attack, bringing his wand up to hex Malfoy but unexpectedly Malfoy twirled around and kicked his wand right out of his hand. Then Harry found a fist smack right into his cheek throwing him backward. His glasses fell off his face as he stumbled and hit the wall. Seconds later, he felt rough hands grab him and angrily throw him up against a different wall. Harry released a soft groan from pain and opened his eyes to see a blurry face in front of his. Malfoy had picked up his wand and had it pointed at him.
"My parents may be in Azkaban Potter," Malfoy snapped, pushing his arm against Harry's throat so he wouldn't move, "but at least I don't have a whole lot of enemies after my blood! You're going to end up like your Godfather one of these days!"
Without another word, Malfoy pushed him against the wall harshly and released him. When Harry finally found his glasses and his wand, Malfoy had already disappeared around the corner. Harry couldn't believe Malfoy was walking around freely, in the Ministry no less! Then he remembered what Hermione said about Malfoy being too young for Azkaban or execution, which meant he was most likely doing community service or something for the Ministry. He did not trust Malfoy at all.
Harry flew back to Hogwarts enraged about Malfoy not being locked up like his parents. To his distress, he found Ginny sitting in the common room. She got up as he entered and he felt his stomach flip uncomfortably once more.
"There you are Harry! When you weren't down at breakfast I became worried," Ginny said, approaching him.
"I'm fine. The Minister needed to see me," Harry said quickly.
Ginny's eyebrows furrowed. "Was it serious?"
"No," Harry lied. "Look I'm really tired and—"
"Harry, I hardly get to see you. And I know about what we talked about the other night, but…I want to spend time with you," Ginny said, staring up at him pleadingly.
Harry swallowed, feeling like he wanted to be swallowed whole. He was hoping someone would come into the common room to save him from this confrontation, but no one did.
"I was thinking, Harry. There's this dance coming up right before Christmas and I was hoping we'd get to go together. I think McGonagall arranged this to calm students down since many families still believe the war isn't over. But…would you want to come with me?"
Harry felt his whole body tense as he stared at her. He knew if he said no she'd break down into tears and Ron would eventually find out. He wouldn't know how to explain it to any of them. And he knew he'd just get into more trouble if he said he didn't have feelings for Ginny anymore. Ron and Ginny would be angry at him for a long time. He didn't want to have to do that unless absolutely necessary, but…what else could he do? Harry's eyes suddenly widened and he cleared his throat.
"Er, Ginny, there's something I have to tell you."
"What is it, Harry?" she asked gently.
Harry wrung his hands nervously and then approached her. "The Minister requested that I work at the Ministry between classes. He says he needs me to sustain peace and make some magical contracts. I won't be around much at all."
Ginny's eyes widened and she looked as though she might cry. "B-but…couldn't you decline?"
Harry felt his heart hammer in his chest but he shook his head. "No, the Minister practically demanded that I have to do this. And I don't want to get in trouble with the Ministry. I already have enough problems to deal with as it is."
Slowly, Ginny bit her lip and glanced down. Taking in a deep breath she raised her head and tried to smile.
"I understand, Harry. I know…I know it's not your fault."
"Ginny, you don't have to wait for me," Harry blurted out. "You deserve much better. And I don't know if Voldemort is going to come back or if I'll even really be able to see you at school. I might not be eating in the Great Hall either, depending on how often the Minister needs me. And…I know it's hard, but it might be…er, safer for you to…to date someone else," Harry managed to get out.
Looking a bit hurt, Ginny stared at him while she wrapped her arms around herself. Finally, she ran to him and threw her arms around him.
"Oh Harry!" she sobbed. "You're such a good person. I know you're doing this for me. And…I don't want to have to leave you," she said, pulling away as tears dripped down her cheeks. "I've been in love with you for so long and I just…I thought we'd be together."
Harry swallowed thickly. "Ginny…you know I'll always care about you and your family. You've all been like a second family to me, but I don't know what's going to happen in the future. And it's…it's unfair to you to have to attach yourself to someone who's hardly around."
"I k-know, Harry…Ron's even said that too. He told me that while he understands you're a great guy and that he knows I like you so much, that I might be happier with someone else."
Harry opened his mouth in surprise, feeling a bit angered by that. "Ron said that?"
Ginny glanced up at him, wiping at her eyes and nodded. "Yeah…and I know it seems like the better choice. Even you are telling me to find someone else, but…I can't just forget about you Harry."
"You don't have to forget about me, Ginny. Er, I mean, we'll still be friends. And we'll still be able to see one another over holidays and sometimes in school. I just think it would be safer for both of us if we remained friends and…Ron's right," Harry said, "you'd probably be happier with a guy that you can see regularly."
"Yeah," Ginny said reluctantly, embracing him tightly.
Harry awkwardly patted her back, rubbing up and down a couple of times. Although he was angry that Ron was talking about him like he was a bad boyfriend, it turned out to be helpful so he didn't have to admit to Ginny that he didn't have feelings for her anymore. Some time passed before Ginny pulled away.
"I'll never forget you, Harry," Ginny said quietly, gently stroking his cheek with her hand.
Harry thought for a second she was going to kiss him, but she pulled away and headed for the portrait. Harry watched her, wondering if she was going to hate him forever. When she glanced over her shoulder, however, she gave him a small, shaky smile before she walked out of the common room. Harry sighed with relief and slumped down onto one of the couches.
For several minutes he just stared into space, contemplating what had just happened. He had told Ginny he would be gone and he knew working for the Minister would provide that, but Harry desperately hated the Minister. However…if he could somehow compromise with the Minister and tell him he'd help out some, but that he wouldn't become his assistant. That way instead of following the Minister around, Harry could possibly just help out with paperwork and such in the Ministry. That way, he'd be able to keep a close eye on Draco Malfoy.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Well, it appears it's going to be another multi-chapter! I don't expect it will be longer than ten chapters, especially if I keep the chapters nice and long. And I hope to finish it by the time I go back to school. Let me know what you think!