Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I do own a house. Seriously, guys, I own a house. Now that I have it - I'm not entirely sure I was ready for it.
Author's Note: Okay - sorry to vanish again for a bit. Did you read the disclaimer? I got a house. And with it, a whole host of fun things. In other news, I received my adult card in the mail the other day, and promptly tried to return it, lol.
In all seriousness, this book is finished! Woo-hoo! Which means only the final book remains.
Draco turned. He was in the Department of Mysteries. The seven doors surrounded him. Only one was open – the door to the Veil.
He suddenly remembered the stream of dreams he had experienced, shortly after the battle at the Ministry of Magic when he had pulled Sirius from the Veil. He sighed, because from what he remembered of the dreams, there'd been a lot of vague statements and elusive hints about what he should do.
He had never liked being told what to do.
Still, he turned into the chamber and walked down to the Veil. Like usual, it was fluttering softly in an unfelt wind, and whispers seemed to drift from behind the fabric.
"Hello," he said, addressing the Veil. "Another riddle for me? Perhaps some ambiguous drivel that is meant to sound wise and prophetic?"
There was laughter, a collection of laughs really, and it sounded close – very close. Like it was in the same room as him. He darted around to the other side of the Veil, but there was no one there.
"You know what you have to do," said a voice, a female's voice.
Draco hesitated. "I understand that you can't die in a dream, but this isn't an ordinary dream is it? If I walk through this thing, is it going to kill me?"
"It's symbolic," said another voice – another female, but this one sounded younger than the first.
Draco braced himself and gently reached out to the Veil. It was lighter than a cobweb, and slightly cool and silky against his fingers, almost like he was pushing aside water. He took in a breath and stepped through.
At first, it seemed as if nothing had changed. He was still in the Veil room at the Department of Mysteries. He was still surrounded by stone steps and dim lights.
But then he saw the women. Three of them. They were clothed in white, such a pure white that it seemed to glow around them. But it wasn't just their robes; it was their skin and hair as well. They emanated light like fairy stones in water. They sat around an old loom.
Draco felt a sudden rush of fear and curiosity. He knew what they were, and he knew it had to be impossible.
They looked up at him. The eldest, stooped and hunched and wrinkled, laughed at him, a cackle, really. The youngest, who appeared about his age, fair and alluring, laughed as well, but also blushed and ducked her head.
The woman in the middle – both in position and in age – only smiled, motherly. "You read too many books, Draco."
"You're Moira," said Draco. "The Fata."
"We are not," said the motherly woman. "Not exactly. But we are appearing to you in a form you can understand."
Draco frowned. "I'm a genius."
"We do not doubt your grasp of the physical world," said the Mother. "It is why you have been chosen for this task. But you are small. And fixed. And limited."
Draco's mind whirled at what she said. Fixed and limited. Was that fixed in time and space? Were these three somehow beings beyond that? And limited – was that due to his physical form, or the fact that he existed on the physical plane of reality, or due to limited knowledge?
"Don't daydream," the elderly woman, the Grandmother, scolded. "Our forms aren't important, but your task is."
"What task?" Draco asked.
"Saving the world," said the youngest, the Maiden. She blushed again. "Or rather – saving the savior."
Draco took a step forward. "Harry Potter."
"Yes," said the Mother. "His soul is…," she stopped and seemed to consider what to say next. Draco knew that pause – he knew it because he used it as well, when he was trying to use small words to explain a complicated process to someone without his intellect. "Here, a metaphor," said the Mother. She plucked a thread from the loom and in her hand it changed and warped. She gestured Draco closer and he saw it wasn't one thread, but two, a white and a black thread, entwined. "The boy you call Harry Potter is entwined with another. This is his soul," she gestured to the white strand. "And this is the other's."
"Voldemort's," said Draco.
"Tom Riddle's soul," the mother agreed. "And Tom's soul," she pulled a little on the string, and Draco could see it wasn't just one string, but several strands.
"The horcruxes," Draco realized.
"They give him power. They give him life beyond what is his. And his thread in the loom of Fate is… well, causing a bit of a snarl."
She gestured to the loom, and suddenly a woven cloth appeared. She gestured to a spot where a tangle had developed.
"Left unchecked, this tangle can wreck a great deal of havoc," said the Mother. "The whole pattern might change, the cloth may fail."
There were questions Draco had. Questions about pre-destination and fate and free-will, but the Grandmother shot him a dark look. "Day-dreaming."
Draco pulled his thoughts back to the situation at hand. "So Voldemort needs to die."
"He should be dead already," said the Grandmother sourly. "But he's tied his downfall to his existence."
"He's tied Harry's soul to his," said Draco. "Meaning Harry can't kill him."
"The only one with the power to stop Voldemort is the only one who doesn't have the power," the Mother agreed. "You must give him that power again."
Draco bit back a groan of frustration because the reasoning seemed vague and circular – and there were problems with this logic from the start. Like – if Voldemort hadn't made Harry a horcrux, would Harry still be the one to stop him? Or if Harry was the Chosen One because he was a horcrux, but yet he couldn't kill Voldemort – then didn't that automatically exclude him from being the Chosen One?
"Day-dreaming," the Grandmother sing-songed.
Draco shook his head to clear it of all the questions tumbling about. "How?" he asked instead.
"Love," said the Maiden, and then her cheeks burned scarlet and she looked away.
The Mother laughed a little. "Love is the power that made Harry the savior. He has been protected by love for so long that he was imbued with its power, much like Tom is imbued with death. The fact that Harry is a horcrux is the snag that must be fixed."
"How?" Draco asked again.
The Mother held up the threads. "They must be separated. Harry from Tom."
"Yes, I get that," said Draco, getting a little testy. "But how?"
"Speak the unknown tongue in the words of the forgotten," said the Grandmother.
Draco bit back the urge to curse. "That makes no sense and gives me no information. If you want me to go on this quest, you're going to have to give me something I can work with."
"What separates Harry from Tom is love," the Mother explained. "You must split them in two, destroy the piece of Tom in Harry, and then Harry will be free to fulfill his destiny."
"Okay," Draco said slowly. He worked off of what little information they gave him. "So...love. Love is the power that can separate them. Love is being researched in the seventh door in the Department of Mysteries."
"Love," said the Maiden, and this time she didn't blush, but looked him straight in the eyes. She had familiar eyes, Ginny's eyes – and Draco wondered if that was on purpose or merely coincidental. "You've felt it. Embraced it. You understand it now."
"Pretty sure there are a whole bunch of Unspeakables working in the Love Chamber," said Draco.
"The words are in the chamber, but they do not speak the language," said the Mother.
"What language?" Draco asked.
"The language the savior speaks. He has given you the tools."
Draco raised his eyebrow. "Parseltongue?"
"Learn the language and the script."
"Script?" Draco asked. "What do you mean, script?"
"You'll find it. Now that you know what you're looking for."
And then the dream started to fade.
"Hey!" Draco said, because he had more questions, far more questions, but already the women were disappearing into the air, and the stone floor underfoot was falling away – and he was falling too – "Wait!"
Draco sat up with the strange, stomach-curling feeling that he'd just fallen a great height and landed in his own bed.
"Wait for what?"
Draco turned. Ginny was next to him on his bed, lying on top of the covers, propped up with his multitude of pillows. She had a book in her lap, her knees propped up.
Draco remembered her coming in. It was after dinner, in the evening. He remembered her complaining about being cooped up while she recovered, but it only had been two days since she was released from the hospital. She really should be taking it easy. That being said, the rest of the Weasleys had been rather overprotective. She'd come into his room to escape from their attention.
Draco looked down at the books scattered across his bed. He'd been working on his Parseltongue journal, and Ginny hadn't demanded his attention. Rather she'd sat beside him, and somewhere in the comfortable silence, he'd fallen asleep.
"You look tired," said Ginny.
Draco scrubbed a hand over his face and sighed. "Yes."
Sleep had been difficult as of late. Thoughts about Lucius, thoughts about Ginny – thoughts about Voldemort and the recently dead Claire.
And now this dream.
His head hurt. He dropped back onto the pillows and sighed. Ginny rolled over onto her stomach and propped herself up on her elbows. "What's going on?"
"I'm not entirely sure myself," said Draco.
Ginny reached out and smoothed back the hair from his forehead. Her fingers were soft and warm. It felt soothing. "Bad dream?"
"Want to talk about it?"
Draco glanced away. "Not yet. Not until I figure out what it means." His brain lazily filtered through the dream and then locked onto a relevant fact. "The script," he said, and then sat up. He turned to Ginny. "Where's Bill? He's still here?"
"It's ten pm," said Ginny. "No one went any where."
"Good, good, good," Draco rambled, and then scrambled off the bed and ran for the door.
"I'm not chasing after you!" Ginny yelled after him.
"I'll be back!" Draco called over his shoulder.
He ran down the private wing of the manor to the guest wing. Bill and Fleur were in the southeast suite. He banged on the door, rather loudly.
There was some muffled cursing from behind the door but it opened. Draco felt a little bit bad, especially when he saw Bill's rumbled hair and the lipstick stains on his neck. That was Fleur's shade, and Draco could see she'd been kissing her way down to Bill's chest, and yet Draco knew that with the way the world was, no one would leave a knock unanswered. Not even for a private moment with one's wife.
"Something wrong?" Bill asked.
"You worked at the Merlin cave, right?" Draco asked.
Bill squinted his eyes. "What's this about?"
"You still have your notes?"
Now Bill looked decidedly shifty. Draco knew why. A could of years ago, researchers had found the supposed burial site of Merlin. The news had flared up rather quickly in the press, and hen was quickly hushed by the Ministry, and then the Unspeakables got involved and quickly confiscated everything inside. But they would have needed help. Help from a curse-breaker like Bill. And Bill – well, Bill was interested in codes and dead languages. There's no way Bill wouldn't have taken notes.
"If I say yes?"
"The runes on the tomb," said Draco.
Bill shrugged. "The runes appear in a few other ancient sites, just bits and pieces of them, why?"
"I want to see them," said Draco.
"Now?" Bill asked, looking a little pained.
Draco looked at him. He wanted to say yes, he needed them right now, but it was already ten o'clock. And Bill deserved some time off.
"Tomorrow," he said.
Bill let out a breath of relief. "First thing tomorrow," he promised, and then shut the door.
Draco turned and headed back to his room. Ginny was still on the bed. She looked up from her book as he came in. "Well?"
Draco shrugged. "It can wait."
She narrowed her eyes. Her still-short hair, although professionally styled now, fell over her forehead and brushed around her face. "Who are you and what have you done with my boyfriend?"
Draco smirked and stepped up next to the bed. "I can think of better things than work." He leaned down and brushed a kiss across her lips.
"I'm better than work?"
"Mmm," said Draco in agreement. He kneeled up on the bed so he could reach her lips better with his own. She wrapped her arms around his neck and returned his kisses.
Draco would have liked to go farther. He skimmed a hand under her shirt, just to feel the smooth skin on her stomach and reassure himself she was okay – and, if he was being honest, also because her skin was soft and he wanted to touch her – and then he pulled back and rolled over to flop beside her on the bed. He reached for the Parseltongue journal and ignored the frustrated look she gave him.
"They're your parents' rules," he said.
The rules were funny. When Arthur and Molly had sat Draco and Ginny down, and explained the rules, Draco had been torn between bafflement and hilarity. Sure – he logically knew that some parents had these rules, but being on the receiving end – and having Ginny turning scarlet from embarrassment next to him – had been quite the experience.
"I thought you were a Slytherin," Ginny said, the challenge in her voice.
Draco looked up at her speculatively. "That's true."
He dove in for another few kisses. This time both his hands slipped under her shirt. His fingers traced along the sides of her ribs. She squirmed a little, and huffed a laugh against his mouth – ticklish. He took the opportunity to delve deeper into her mouth, and then her hands were under his shirt. Her hands were hot and seared into his skin, up his chest, then down his back, gripping his shoulders, and then she pulled the shirt right off of him.
Draco was fine with that. He hitched up her shirt a little – not all the way off, just enough so he could lean against her and feel their skin together. She gasped; he groaned.
She pushed him back and he let himself be toppled over. She turned to stare at him – eyes tracing his face, then down his bare chest. He reached out to toy with a strand of her short hair.
"You're incredibly sexy," she said.
Draco raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"Mm-hm. Like a nine."
He rolled his eyes. "Not a ten?"
She nodded and then slid on top of him. "Do you want to guess when you're sexiest?"
"Definitely with you on top of me."
She shook her head and leaned down. "When you laugh."
And then her fingers dug into his sides at that worst possible spot, and he could help but jerk in response – and laugh – because it tickled – and she knew it. "Merlin – Ginny."
He tried to push her off – but she'd grown up with a house full of boys, and she had plenty of practice pinning victims down.
"Never going to stop," she said, fingers relentlessly pinching his sides – and it made him flinch and squirm and laugh in a way he never had before. "I'm going to make you laugh forever!"
And then he managed to flip her over – because he was trained in self-defense, and really, being tickled was not something Malfoys were that comfortable with – and she grinned up at him and kissed him. And kissing was good. Kissing was better than good, and much more acceptable than being tickled. Her hands dove into his hair, keeping his mouth right there, on hers, and her leg hitched up – her mostly bare leg, because she just has sleep shorts on, and that felt good too and –
"I believe there were ground rules set," said a voice from the doorway.
Draco rolled off Ginny onto his back – and it was a good thing his bed was as big as it was, or he'd be on the floor with the amount of rolling they'd both done. He looked over at Bill and sighed.
"Ugh, Bill," said Ginny, and there was a note of whining in her voice. Draco glanced at her. Her face was red. Embarrassed.
"Mostly that clothes stayed on," said Bill.
That was one of the rules that Arthur and Molly had set, but judging from the way Bill was frowning, they were his rules as well.
"That was my bad," said Ginny. She tossed Draco's shirt to him and he pulled it back on.
"I thought you were with Fleur," Draco said.
"I was, but then I got interrupted," said Bill, giving him a dirty look. "And then Lukas started crying, so I figured I'd torment you a little." Bill looked vindictively pleased.
Draco rolled his eyes, but then sat up straighter when he saw the stack of notebooks in Bill's hands.
Bill plopped then onto the bed. "All of my transcripts of the site. You'll have to weed through it."
"That's fine," said Draco, already grabbing the first one.
"What happened to me being more important than work?" Ginny pouted.
Bill grinned. "I don't even need to put anti-locking charms on the doors. Best way to keep you two decent is give Draco work to do."
Draco looked up, a little affronted. "I can resist work," he said, but the temptation of having the notes right there, at his fingertips, was very enticing. Especially because Ginny was right there too. He grabbed a journal, sat back, and then patted the bed beside him.
Ginny stuck her tongue out at Bill, who laughed and left, closing the door behind him. Ginny huffed out a breath and then snuggled up next to him.
"If we get serious, I'm going to set rules about work in bed," she said.
Draco blinked, startled for a moment. He glanced down at her. "I am serious."
"No – like, marriage serious," said Ginny.
Draco paused for a moment.
"Oh, crap," said Ginny, and she sat up. "Did I just freak you out with the M word? I swear, I'm not thinking about it – I mean – sure, every girl does, but I'm not putting that pressure on us, or on you, and – what's that look mean?"
Draco didn't know what that look meant because he wasn't sure what his face was doing. He knew what his brain was doing. It'd stuttered for a moment. He put the notebook down. "So... I think a lot," he said.
"I've noticed that about you, yes."
Draco rolled his eyes at her, but then forced himself to forge on. "I've never been close with anyone, not my old girlfriends – at least, not the way I am with you. My brain likes numbers and possibilities and probabilities, and -,"
"You've already pictured us married!" Ginny exclaimed. She laughed, and then covered her mouth. "I swear, I don't mean to laugh at you. It's just – usually it's the girl who stereotypically gets far to invested in relationships."
Draco shrugged. "I have plans in my head. For every possibility." He licked his lips a little, and then looked at her. "I like the plans with you in them."
Ginny smiled and her cheeks flushed. "Are they good plans?"
"Very good plans."
"Are we compatible?"
"Nearly perfectly," said Draco, and he let his mind carry him through those future plans, after the end of the war they'd have careers and marriage – and maybe kids, but he'd have to be convinced, and there'd be travel and excitement, politics and businesses. A good sort of life. Happy.
Ginny smiled again, wider this time. She pressed a kiss on his forehead. "I love your brain."
"Well, it loves you too."
She snuggled back down again and he draped one arm over her shoulder. There was a matter of ending a war before he could start his future with her.
And yet, as she drifted off to sleep, and as he continued to read through notebook after notebook, he realized that the odds of starting that future any time soon were growing slimmer and slimmer.
Harry sighed and looked at his school trunk. He wondered if it was even worth packing because it seemed every time they were trying to get to Hogwarts, things were delayed. Getting Hogwarts repaired had pushed the return back. Then there was the attack on the train. And the sticking around while Ginny recuperated a little – not that everyone needed to stay back – it'd just sort of happened that way. It was nearly February now.
Harry turned, Draco was leaning in the doorway. "Don't tell me there's another delay?" he said, because Draco was decidedly not in his school uniform. He was wearing business robes over a suit. Originally the plan was that they'd all Floo to Hogwarts after breakfast.
"No, I just have a business thing to attend to real quick," said Draco. He shrugged a shoulder casually. "Might get to Hogwarts in the afternoon – or the day after."
Harry nodded and then looked back at his truck. He really should have packed last night then. A thought struck him, and he turned back to Draco. "Wait, what are you here for?"
Draco wasn't really one for social visits. He watched Draco shrug again, casually, and yeah, that was a danger sign because Draco was everything except casual. Harry set down the clothes in his hands and fully faced the Slytherin. "What's going on?"
Draco stepped fully into the room and shut the door. "Do you trust me, Potter?"
"Enough that you could call me by my first name," said Harry.
Draco smirked. "Harry, do you trust me?"
Harry thought about it, really thought about it. He thought about first learning who the real Draco was – not the snotty git who'd tormented him for six years – well, five really. He'd been halfway passable in the sixth year. He thought about Draco rescuing him from the Dursleys, and then beyond.
"Yes, I trust you."
Draco nodded once, decisively. "Then trust me now, Harry. You are the Boy-Who-Lived. You are the one that's prophesized about. Only you can kill Voldemort."
Harry paused for a moment. If this was important for Draco to tell him, then – "Could I not be the savior?"
"Did you just listen to a word I said?" Draco demanded, irritation in his voice.
"You just brought up the possibility that I can't kill Voldemort."
"No, I removed that possibility."
"Which meant it was a possibility to begin with," said Harry.
Draco sighed heavily and, in Harry's opinion, a tad bit theatrically. "Look, Potter," he started, but it sounded like deflection, and Harry was sick of people not telling him the truth.
"Who brought up that possibility?" he asked pointblank.
Draco shook his head. "It doesn't matter."
"It does to me."
Draco shook his head again, but Harry already knew the truth. "It was Dumbledore, wasn't it?"
Draco's eyes flickered a little in surprise. Harry was a little affronted. "I'm not stupid, Draco."
"You're not half-stupid," Draco allowed. "I just didn't think you'd want to be open to the possibility of Dumbledore not believing in you."
"I'm an orphan," said Harry. "I grew up in a cupboard under the stairs, in a rather unpleasant family, with only hand-me-downs to wear and never enough food to eat. Dumbledore's admitted he kept me there for my own protection, but he's the most powerful wizard in the world. You'd think at the very least he could have conjured me a sandwich every now and again."
It hurt to say the words out loud. Words that he'd been thinking for a while. Sure, Dumbledore had done his best to explain his reasoning, and yet Harry couldn't help but feel that his decisions had been based on treating Harry like a weapon, and not a child.
He watched Draco glance away for a moment. Really, the Slytherin was becoming increasingly easy to read.
"You don't have to feel sorry for me," he said.
Draco glanced back. "I don't feel sorry for you. I'm pissed off on your behalf."
"Oh," said Harry. So he'd misread that one then. "Well, thanks, I guess. But that doesn't change the fact that Dumbledore thinks I'm not longer the Chosen One. Why is that, by the way?"
Draco paused for a moment, but Harry had an inkling of suspicion on this as well. Draco's pause just confirmed it. "It's you, isn't it?"
"It's not me," said Draco quickly. "I mean, I am the one that Dumbledore thinks could save the world, but I'm not the chosen one."
"Are you just saying that because you don't want to be the chosen one?" Harry asked.
"Merde, Potter," Draco swore. "When did you become insightful?"
Harry grinned a little, because surprising the resident genius felt good. "I like to think people just underestimate me."
"Or maybe you play up the incompetence," said Draco, narrowing his gaze.
"I'm not Slytherin," Harry said. "So, tell me, why can't you be the chosen one."
Draco shook his head. "Because that's not the way this works."
"That seems vague."
"Maybe it is. Maybe it just makes sense. Occam's razor, Harry. Simplest solution. "
Harry didn't know what a razor had to do with anything, but he didn't like the way Draco was just glossing over any possibility that he could be the chosen one. "So you're saying you couldn't kill Voldemort," he challenged.
Draco rolled his eyes. "Of course I could kill Voldemort."
Harry opened his mouth, wanting to know what was taking so long then, if Draco was so sure he could kill Voldemort, but then Draco continued. "Anyone with nuclear launch codes could kill Voldemort, but then we're also taking out a big portion of England with the initial strike, not to mention the entire country, and probably Ireland as well, with nuclear fall out."
"Do you have nuclear launch codes?" Harry asked.
Draco gave one of his dramatic eye-rolls up to the heavens. "That's not really the point here. The point is, you're the only one who can kill Voldemort personally, wizard-to-wizard, without blowing up the entire country. So remember that. You're the Chosen One, no matter what anyone says."
Harry wasn't quite convinced. Draco gave him a dark look. "You said you trusted me."
"I do," said Harry.
"Then trust me on this. No matter what anyone says, no matter what reasons they give you, you're the Chosen one."
"What kind of reasons."
"Reasons that won't matter once I get through with them," said Draco, and there was a note of promised murder in his voice that made Harry a little nervous. "So, don't doubt yourself."
Harry laughed a little. "That's pretty much all I do."
Draco blinked once. "Really?"
Harry shrugged. "Huge crises," he said. "Getting bigger and longer each year. It took up nearly all of fifth year, now that I think about it."
"Huh," said Draco. "Well, stop it." He turned, his hand reached for the door, and Harry suddenly realized what was happening.
"How long are you going to be gone for?"
Draco turned back. "Just a -,"
"Don't say just a day, and don't say it's just business," said Harry. "I know a goodbye when I see it."
"You call this a goodbye?" Draco asked – and there he went, deflecting again.
"What are you doing?"
Draco shrugged. "Taking care of those reasons people will say you can't be the Chosen One."
"And it's going to take a while, isn't it?"
Draco sighed and leaned back against the door. "Yeah."
"Is it dangerous?"
Draco shrugged. "Probably."
"You don't have to do that for me."
'I'm not doing it for you, Potter," Draco said, and then he stopped and amended it, "Not just for you. You're the only one who can stop Voldemort. Voldemort is a threat to the world. So it's also for me."
"Yeah, but apparently it's really complicated."
"It's never not complicated," said Draco, and he turned to go again, but Harry stopped him. "Do you trust me?"
Draco turned once more. "Sure. You're the savior after all."
Harry let that go. "Say good by to Bill and Ginny."
He could immediately tell what Draco thought of that suggestion. His face screwed up ever so slightly.
"Trust me on this," Harry said. "I know more about relationships than you, and I definitely know more about Gryffindors. At the very least, write a letter."
Draco hesitated. "They'll get a note, saying I'm okay."
"Write a letter. To each of them. They deserve that."
Draco nodded. "Okay."
He turned for the door a third time
"Stay safe," Harry said.
Draco turned at the doorway. "Back at you, Potter. And remember, you're the chosen one."
Harry nodded. "I trust you."
He wasn't the only one who found the words somewhat amusing. Draco huffed a small little laugh. "Whatever is the world coming to?"
And then he turned and left. Harry looked back at his trunk, that still needed to be packed, and then back at the empty doorway. He wondered how long it'd take to see Draco Malfoy again.
And that concludes this story. All odds and ends will hopefully be wrapped up in... The End Code. Which will come out maybe at the end of summer. I want to make sure I have all my plot lines straight before starting - and I'd like to keep to a posting schedule as well.
So - please leave a review, let me know what you think, and thanks for sticking with me this far!