Unsurprisingly, Draco had crawled into the bath as soon as they arrived home, somehow planning a war from the safety of the tub. Refusing to come out of the bathroom, safely hiding his tail under the water and allowing no more than a single candle or two, he received and sent messages through Harry, slowly calling every dark wizard of fighting age to the house.
The gathering of dark wizards had all the air of a celebration. Far from being nervous, they worked busily through Narcissa's ancestral manor, casting jinxes on small trinkets and brewing potions which they poured their own blood into. Treating this as a grand night ride, perhaps the last one in England and the last one of all their lives, they meant to make a stand that their families would dream of for centuries to come.
A dozen cloth dolls, stuffed with hair and blood and fingernails, lay in a box, ready to be woken with a whisper to attack the wizards of the Ministry. Next to them, a myriad number of small bottles were sorted into groups—White Adder's Venom, Poisoned Dragon's Breath, Clawed Fire—so that they could be put into kits and handed out easily. Acorns had been gathered and grown into targets for the youngest Knights of Walpurgis to practice their attack spells now at the last minute. Their jinxes and curses rotted the vines, smashed through the knots of wood and reduced each target to shreds, making clear what would happen to any person unfortunate to be targeted.
All their preparations made Harry frown, though he said nothing. Every look he shared with Draco held an uneasy truce, knowing an argument brewed between them, one that neither could win because neither could change what they thought was right or wrong. But ultimately it was the simple mask that Harry balked at, taking a step back when Draco conjured it in the bathtub.
"I'm not wearing one," he muttered, glaring at the thing in Draco's hands. "Give it to someone else."
"You have to," Draco frowned, his own jaw set as he hissed in anger.
"I'm not a Death Eater," Harry snapped.
"Neither am I," Draco said, glad that Harry had shut the door before either of them started yelling. "Neither were most of the women and youngsters downstairs."
"That's not the point." Harry grumbled because he knew he'd worded it wrong. "I mean, it is the point, but—I am not going into any fight wearing one of those things. I spent half my life fighting against people in masks."
"I know," Draco said, narrowing his eyes. "Believe me, all of us know you used to fight us."
Harry sighed explosively and turned away, running his hand through his hair. "I'm not going to apologize for it—"
"And I'm not asssking you to," Draco snapped, though he tried to keep his voice down.
"But you want me to wear that—"
Harry gestured at the mask. Flat, featureless, it had two empty holes for his eyes and a grill over the mouth. He'd seen similar masks on the Death Eaters when they fought, and the only difference now was the lack of ornate designs or marks that could catch the light. The matte black finish was perfect for fighting in the darkness, like smooth, unpolished stone.
"Yes, this one," Draco said. "It's mine."
Breathing in once, Harry found he couldn't reply for a moment. "What...?"
"We all have one," Draco said. "Even if I never used it. Too young. It was one of the things in the cellar that didn't burn up."
"But..." Harry whispered. Not his own husband. "No, Draco, no..."
"You have to," Draco said. "I have my hood—"
"Oh, for God's sake!" Harry sighed again and went to the window, watching several dark wizards—he recognized a handful of them, some who had been at his wedding and some who had faced him at the end of a wand. "Draco—"
"We have the masks for a reason," Draco pressed. "If we go out there without them, how long do you think we'd last?"
"What're you on about?" Harry asked.
"During the fight," Draco said, "who do you think the ministry wizardss will go after? All the masked dark wizardss, or Harry bloody Potter?"
Harry didn't answer at first. He thought of answering that Lupin and the rest would be unmasked, but then Lupin's group wouldn't be in the midst of dozens of masked dark wizards. All of Draco's family and comrades would be perfectly cloaked, massing together like fish in a school, difficult to target. And Harry in the middle of it, maskless and easy to spot.
"I don't want to," Harry said softly. "I can't."
Draco didn't know how to force him. His husband had renounced Merlin and the Ministry in his wedding vows, but Draco couldn't throw that in Harry's face. The reason to wear it was obvious, as was Harry's absolute dislike of the mask.
"Isn't there anything else?" Harry asked.
"I..." Draco faltered. He met Harry's look, wishing he hadn't lied to his husband before so that he could believably lie to him now. He had a thought, and as much as he would feel safer with Harry wearing a mask, there was something else he could offer.
"Your invisibility cloak," he said after a moment. "Can...can you keep it from falling off?"
"It doesn't take spells," Harry said, shaking his head. "S'why I don't trust it in a fight. Comes off too easy."
Draco nodded once. "Could it be pinned? Harry, I don't want you wearing it—it's too easy to snag or fall, and I couldn't see you in the fight. I might—any of us might hit you with a stray spell. Or if you fall and we don't notice—"
"'We'?" Harry echoed, grasping on a different thought. "What do you mean 'we'? You're not going out there. Not like this."
Harry waved at Draco's tail, hidden under the water. Even in the candle light, the tail was obvious, a long and lean shape under the surface that went still as Draco pretended it wasn't there.
"I have to," Draco said as if Harry was stupid. "I—"
"How?" Harry demanded. "Magic yourself up some legs? Look, just stay here with your mother. You can send word through the diary—"
"You can't run a war through messages!" Draco snapped.
"Then how are you going to—"
"—my broom," Draco said as he thought of it.
Harry sat by him, gently patting the spot where Draco's side became a tail. Hissing, Draco felt a flush coloring his cheeks, and he turned his head. He couldn't slither out of Harry's reach, though the warm hand felt delicious on his skin, enough to make his tail curl.
"You're a great quidditch player," Harry murmured. "But you still have to hold onto the broom with your legs."
Draco met his look evenly, baring his fangs out of indignation as his tail did little flips. And as his husband began to smile, sure that he would give in to logic, Draco suddenly breathed out and composed himself.
Harry frowned. Not good.
Then Draco leaned forward, sitting up and pulling himself forward over his bottom half so that Harry cringed, thinking he'd hear Draco's knees and bones breaking. But the snake tail bent smoothly and, after a little adjusting, Draco managed to pull himself up, facing Harry with his tail curled around himself.
"Ssorry," Draco said, smiling in smug self-satisfaction. "I think I can keep my balance-"
The effect was marred as he slipped on the tiles and pitched forward, landing on his husband's chest. His face burned in embarrassment, but the chuckle from Harry was good natured, more of a rueful sigh as Harry held him upright.
"Fine," Harry said, kissing the top of his head. "Show me you can ride a broom with just one hand. And...and I'll let you fight."
Draco's tail flipped again. 'Let him'?
An hour later, as the dark wizards finished parceling out their weaponry and dark artifacts, standing in the front garden and cheering each other on, Draco was on his besom, its vines curled securely around his tail and balancing him as good as if he had legs. His robe draped over the side, hiding his lower half, and the hood threw heavy shadows over his face. Hardly anyone could see his face, even if they probably guessed what he looked like under his robe.
He looked over his little army and felt his stomach twist. So few... If he'd thought last year that he'd be facing the ministry with such a pitiful number, he'd have given up hope of keeping their home and instead urged everyone to sail across the Atlantic to Roanoke. Not that there was no hope entirely, but the odds were so painfully stacked against them.
"We're ready," Lucius said, coming forward from the crowd. Severus stood beside him, and would probably spend the entire battle at his side. "Everyone who is coming is here."
Draco nodded once. He felt his mother's presence at the windows, but he didn't glance at her. If he saw the fear in her eyes, he wouldn't be able to go.
"Then we start now," Draco said, reciting the plan that they already knew. "Send our assassins. Leave an easy trail back to the opera house. We'll be there waiting."
Lucius brought the mask to his face, and with a whisper, it remained in place as if fixed. One by one, so did each dark wizard, until finally Draco put on his own, setting the dark stone against his skin.
What an instant change the mask brought. No longer himself, Draco felt the cool freedom of anonymity, of becoming the dark wizard that drove fear into the world, the legendary monster of the light wizards. No wonder his parents had always looked forward to night rides, grinning with nervous excitement just before they and the other parents left their children safe at home.
Draco felt a little twinge of sadness. If all went well, this might be the last night ride of their lives. Of course if things did not go well, it could be the last night of their lives.
"You have your portkeys," Lucius said to his Knights, taking command. "If there are any changes, we'll send word."
Lucius and Severus vanished first with the soft pop of a portkey spell, followed immediately by the rest of their team. Comforting himself that they had successfully assassinated many other officials in the past, Draco took his own portkey and held it up, prompting all the rest to follow suit.
"Wait," someone said. "Where's Potter? Isn't he coming with us?"
Draco paused and raised his head slightly. This was what he was afraid of, one more uncertainty in a night where he couldn't afford to not know anything.
"I can't see you," he said to the night air. "Where are you?"
The whisper of rustling cloth came from his left. Invisibly, Harry hovered close and gently nudged Draco so that everyone saw him move.
"I'm here," Harry said loud enough for everyone to hear. "I won't leave your side."
"Bloody hell," someone—-Goyle, Draco realized—-said. "He really does have an invisibility cloak."
"But if we can't see him," another witch—-Miriam, and Draco felt relieved he could tell so many just by their voices. "Then we might hit him."
"Try not to blast anywhere too close to me," Draco said. "He'll be right on my tail—remember, he's a passing fair seeker."
A few snorts followed, and then the faint pops of portkey spells. A moment later, they all stood back in their home country, miles from the opera house on the edge of town, and they scanned the road and homes around them to be sure they were alone. Then, alone or in pairs, they fanned out through the muggle neighborhood and disappeared into the shadows, sneaking through gardens and darting along alleys in case the ministry had somehow learned of their plans and lay in wait.
"It'll take about half an hour to get into position," Draco murmured, knocking the end of his tail against the besom. The broom hesitated, still adjusting to the tail, then went up to a thick cloud overhead. Draco shivered but didn't complain. A little cloud was nothing compared to a blizzard.
"And then what?" Harry whispered by his side. "Your father'll come back with all those wizards on his tail."
"Then we pick them all off from the dark," Draco said, pausing. "You should know this—you helped come up with it."
"Not that," Harry said. "I know the plan all right. It's just...it's different being out here. We were working out our plans and everyone was pieces on the map, but now that we're here—Draco, we can't kill everyone. I can fight this thing, but I don't know what we do afterward."
Draco didn't answer at first, coming down swiftly towards the opera's roof. They landed behind the raised facade of elaborate stone scrollwork, giving them a good view of the street below. Beside them, a black bird cawwed and bobbed its head.
"Good, you're still here," Draco said to the bird. "We need you on the other side by the park—there's no one covering the corner there."
Vaisey, still undercover in his animagus state, cawwed again in acknowledgement and flapped off. Draco watched him go, then turned his attention to the streets around them.
He'd never cared before about the way muggles lay out their towns. As long as they were kept separate from his own world, he didn't want anything to do with them, content to pass overhead on his broom or safely nestled in a carriage. But now he had to face how close he lived to the vermin, and the sight of it set him on edge.
Looking over the streets was much different from simply looking at a map. There was the opera house, and the road before it that ran off into the distance both ways, wide in front of the opera to allow for all the traffic. Directly in front of them was a gray muggle structure that Severus had said was an office building, and beside that was an empty park with a few benches and some pitiful bushes. The whole area left little in the way of cover to duck behind, perfect for an ambush.
But Draco felt how keenly they were pressed against the muggle world, surrounded on all sides by the filthy things who didn't attack wizards simply because they didn't know the wizards were there. This place had been solely theirs, once—a place of dark power where a god once dwelt, now grown over with muggles like choking weeds.
So what if they won this war? Hogwarts was dead, emptied of its power, and without a school, the wizarding world would fragment and die out. Already the muggles claimed so much of England and the world, edging out magic like one more endangered species. And if muggles ever remembered the wizards...Draco shivered.
A hand clasped Draco's shoulder, and Draco glanced at Harry who had been abused by muggles and still treated them as well as people. The obscenity of it rankled in Draco's heart, that the Boy Who Lived had spent years with those monsters.
He still hadn't answered Harry's question. Frowning, he found that all his focus was on the muggle threat lurking just beyond the wizarding world, and then realized that was his answer.
"We need to make it rain," Draco said. He looked up at Harry, growing increasingly excited the more he thought about it. "Yes, we have to make it rain, a real storm. Huge sheets of it coming down."
"'Rain'?" Harry echoed, looking up at the clear stars. "I don't think-"
"Yes, rain!" Draco said with the growing confidence. He'd never cast a rain spell-indeed, he didn't even know if one existed.
He mused on other spells he knew, picking them apart in his head. Bludregnian to bring forth blood from a long dead body, egeflod to cause uncontrollable weeping, styrman, haegl, breken... He couldn't just stick two words together.
Regnian...he could start with regnian, then add flod...but no, he needed to start with the sky.
He'd have to make a song. Not that he'd ever made one. But he'd seen Lucius write a handful of them, crossing out words and revising in new ones, and surely that was enough?
Sceo...twist? No, break. Sceo broken an regnian...
A sick urgency welled up in him. His father and Severus and all their knights could portkey there in an hour, or a handful of minutes. The entire war was about to break out right here in front of him, and he was trying to create a stupid song that probably wouldn't even work.
He shut his eyes and forced himself to focus. He had practiced magic for his whole life, practiced the potions, practiced the casting and practiced the words a thousand times over. He knew the translations. If he thought of it in English, sky break and rain flood-
"Sceo breken an regnian flod," he said out loud, tasting magic on his tongue. Old words, raw words called out to the power in the air and twisted it like clay. How easy the song suddenly came, as if he had been fluent all along and never realized it.
"Crase dune stein waeter," he continued. He didn't even have to think of the words in English first, nor translate them in his mind as he spoke. "Drifan min enemi aweg."
Draco felt his husband's hand on his arm, heard him ask something, but Harry's voice felt distant. The night wind-as wild as if it had been blown in from a strange country-swirled around them and picked up speed.
Clouds gathered, rolling with the wind, blotting out the stars and the moon until the muggle streetlamps were all that was left, pale golden circles more dirt than light.
"Sky break and rain flood," he said again, "crash down stone water and drive my enemy away."
As if watching himself from far away, he had the dim understanding that he was not speaking in English. The old language came to him as naturally as his own tongue. Harry asked if he was all right, his words hard to make out through the growing wind, and Draco paused in his spell to reassure him "yis, ic fin."
Then Harry was shaking his shoulder roughly, shouting, leaning over him to cast spell after spell. Casting curses, judging from the light, and Draco realized that the battle had started without him. Lucius and Severus had brought Fudge and his loyalists, and the dark wizards were closing the trap.
Draco no longer cared. There was something right in the water, something proper and correct in the rain coming down right this moment at this place. More than right-the rain wanted to come down, wanted to grow into a raging storm. All Draco had to do was let it.
"Since shadows cast and night I draw," Draco whispered in a rush, "hence rain and cleanse my soul, crashing like stones to drive my enemies away."
How beautifully his new spell merged with his cleansing spell! One flowed into the other like two rivers joining, like two storm clouds rumbling together. Rain struck his head and face in heavy drops, coursed down his body in rivulets, and he heard it rushing through the streets.
Again he recited the spell, cleansing himself and casting magic at the same time. The thrill of this accidental discovery exhilarated him, bearing him up even as the rain turned painfully hard. There were yells and shouts below, and he hoped he wasn't drowning his own men. He couldn't make out whose voice was whose over the growing scream of the wind, the sheer howling pressure as the current flew between buildings. There was the sound of breaking glass and wood and stone cracking.
Only when he felt the opera house shudder around him did he look up and see his work.
Already weakened by the exploding chandelier and the steady decay after being abandoned, the walls buckled under the hammering of the storm. Flecks of brick peeled away, stone buckled under furious water, and the rain slashing along the streets cut a groove against the foundation.
The opera house moaned, and Draco turned his attention from the rain to the building. The opera house had to be destroyed. If anyone had asked him why, he wouldn't have been able to to explain. He simply knew. Pointing his wand to the widening hole in the roof, he took aim at the grass covered rug and floor.
"Faellen," he said, his voice lost to the wind, but the spell shrieked down and burst against the foundation.
The opera house screamed with torn metal, collapsing stone, and then the roof fell away leaving Draco hovering in the air. A flurry of cloth covered him, shielding him from sight, and Harry's warmth made him realize how icy the rain was.
Below them, the rest of the opera house came apart and floated down the street. A buffet of wind nearly took Draco off his besom despite the vines coiling around his tail, and he saw that it wasn't the exultation of new magic that had made him excited. He had literally brought down a hundred year storm in the middle of the muggle town, and the energy of the wind and water all glittering in the moonlight made him feel like part of it.
Finally the opera was nothing more than a foundation that soon lifted from its keystone and began to drift away in chunks, revealing a deep basement that swirled like a trapped whirlpool. And in the center of that whirlpool...
Draco narrowed his eyes, peering into the white waters, and he carefully guided his besom down toward it. Beside him, Harry cursed loud enough to hear over the thunder and matched his flight, shielding him from view. Draco didn't know if the fight was still going on. He couldn't see the streets for the heavy sheets of rain coming down, though he did see bursts of colored lights reflecting off the water.
As the last of the opera house broke away, leaving bare ground behind, one last chunk remained, but it wasn't concrete or stone. Or rather it was a large slab of black rock, as long as a coffin, jutting up from the pool that the basement had become. It shone in the light of the spells around them, and Draco felt himself drawn towards it, fighting the wind, reaching out one hand to touch the black surface-
As if he'd snapped his fingers, the rain vanished.
The sound of the flood faded.
Draco turned and looked around himself. Harry was gone, the other wizards were gone, and the rain was gone, leaving behind a gray sun. Dry, dusty fields spread out in all directions, with a tattered fence off in the distance and the wind blowing dust and heat. There was no one for miles, not even the faint smoke of a chimney. Just flat, endless fields of dust crumbling in the pale glare.
And by the coffin rock, the first sacrifice stood in front of him, her black hair turning brown in the light. He saw her not as the creature of magic she had become, but what she had been, a skinny teenager standing barefoot in the dirt, her homespun shirt reaching to her knees.
Behind her, a woman in a blood-red dress sat on the stone and stared at the sky, one hand shielding her eyes from the sun. As he watched, she began to unbraid her hair, letting the black waves spill down her shoulder. She stroked them once, fanning them out over her dress, before braiding them back up.
Morgan le Fey, Draco thought, his breath catching. "But why-?"
She turned, staring at him with milky white eyes that saw through him, then slipped off the rock and vanished. In the brief moment, Draco had spotted the dark stain on the front of her gown. Even on such a red dress, he recognized the stamp of spilled blood.
"Sacrifice," he said needlessly.
So that was why she had vanished, leaving her community and the battle and Mordred. She had come here and killed herself.
He looked back at the first sacrifice, and now she was covered in her cuts, naked and slashed to the bone. Her blood ran down her arms and dripped off her fingertips into the ground, turning dust to mud.
"This is the place," Draco murmured, more to himself than her. "This was the field."
When he'd first told Harry that the Bredgett Opera House was one of their dark places, he hadn't known how right he was. It was the first place where dark magic truly began. But why had Morgan come here? She'd died right when they needed her most, at the battle of Camlann between Mordred and Arthur.
Yes, he thought, understanding even as he asked the question. She died because of that need. The battle killed off many light wizards, but it was her sacrifice that kept their world turning, kept the dark wizards together and alive. Like Lily Potter had died for Harry, Draco thought. The oldest, strongest magic...to die so someone else might live.
A cold feeling welled up in his stomach. Mordred had battled Arthur, and Morgan had died for it. Now Harry and his family battled Fudge and the aurors, and here was Draco at the sacrificial spot. The parallels were too obvious to ignore.
"Why am I figuring this out?" Draco wondered, running one hand through his hair. "Why do I know this? Too coincidental, too-"
A memory of his dream struck him, and as he looked at the first sacrifice, a taste of thick iron filled his mouth.
"I drank your blood," he muttered, putting his hands over his mouth. "Oh Lord...like a goddamned mass. I drank her blood."
Like drinking magic from the source.
He took a step back. Twice now he'd slipped her grasp-brought back from drowning by Severus and then rescued from his own magic by Harry. Twice he'd escaped sacrificing himself, but here he stood at in her field, her place of power, and there was no one to help him. For all he knew, the field could be an illusion and Harry could still have his arm around him. It didn't matter. Draco stood alone.
And dark wizards were on the cups of dying out in England. Wasn't their survival worth his death? Wasn't this their promise, that the parents should die so the children should live? Breaking the oath of the wizarding world not to kill created a dark oath just as sacred.
Something glinted in her hand. Sick at heart at what he knew he'd see, he glanced down despite himself. The knife lay in her palm, rusted with centuries of blood, the edge as sharp as when it had slashed her to pieces.
She turned the knife over, making him flinch even though he knew she wouldn't stab him. The blade faced her, its hilt towards him.
His throat turned dry. No, he wanted to say, to turn his back and refuse to die. She'd had her chance and he slipped her noose each time-wasn't that good enough? He'd fully intended to die at Hogwarts, had accepted his fate twice. It wasn't his fault that he'd been snatched back to life.
Her eyes were dead as a corpse as she extended the knife to him. Implacable, uncaring. He saw his future in her, in the soft vanishing of Morgan. A dead stare, no breath, an endless field soaking in his blood, and there would never be enough blood.
He took the knife, turned it over so the blade faced himself. Half-expecting her to motion for him to hurry up, he was a little relieved that she waited.
"Of course you'd wait," Draco whispered. "You don't care. You're used to waiting. All you do is wait."
She didn't move. Draco's stomach lurched. Ghosts were more alive than she was. Whatever sacrificial magic did, it did not leave behind a ghost. It left behind revenants, drowned in so much dark magic that they became dark magic. A dark soul trapped in a torn body.
He tightened his grip on the knife, felt the familiar handle of a skinning blade, the faint curve of its edge. Rust made the metal fragile, but it would serve. It would be useless to stab himself-the blade wouldn't chop into his ribs. He'd have to slice his throat. Or go through the side, under his heart.
Setting the point just under his chest, he took several breaths, steadying himself. One last deep breath-one hand pressed against the blade itself to guide it... He looked up and met her empty eyes, patiently waiting for him to fulfill the promised sacrifice.
In one quick stroke, drawing blood on his palm, Draco snapped the blade in half.
As abruptly as turning a page in a book, he was out of the field, back in the battle as the storm exploded over him, erupting out of his hands in a violent fury, and the lashing wind and rain struck him like whips, beating him down to his knees. He'd fallen into the flood. Water that was more like ice stole his breath away as it coursed over him.
He tried to see where he was, but the storm turned the sky black, lit only by flashes of lightning. He didn't see the muggle buildings or even the greens and reds of spells-only the silver gleam of water flowing around the black coffin rock.
Lightning again, and he froze, staring in shock. She was in front of him, still pouring blood, her eyes gouged out like fountains, blood pouring from her mouth, and she wasn't alone. Morgan stood beside her, her own wound bleeding, and beside her Mordred, his face covered in gore from the terrible split in his skull.
And beside Mordred, Draco's own ancestor Eason, a gash down his stomach so his entrails hung out, deep stabs in his chest from a muggle's pitchfork. Next to him, a witch burned so that she was a mass of bleeding charred skin. And another witch beside her, her head caved in, and another wizard, and when Draco looked around himself, he was surrounded by the dead, their eyes empty and their wounds bleeding like rivers.
Recoiling in fear, he thought to raise the broken knife against them only to find it crumbled to nothing in his fingers. As he looked at his hand, the lightning showed him that the rain was no longer water.
But they weren't attacking him. They weren't even moving. They stood still, staring down at him, emptying themselves of both blood and dark magic. Even the first sacrifice held her hands out as if offering herself once more, only this time releasing the magic that she had once gathered to her.
The storm began to calm, still raining heavily but no longer screaming, just droning endlessly with the low rumbles of increasingly distant thunder. No muggle streetlamps lit the road, but he saw faint lumos spells here and there dotting the darkness.
The coffin rock lay in front of him, and moving slowly for fear that the dead would lunge at him, he crept close and crawled clumsily up on top, finally seeing how far the gathered dead stretched. He couldn't see the end of them, all standing as still as gravestones, all showing the terrible way they each died. They stretched out in all directions, a vast field of his ancestors that had waited for centuries.
Finally, as the storm abated, they began to fade. He couldn't tell at first because of the deep night and the clouds, but as the rain turned to a mist, the dark wizards disappeared into the fog, vanishing with the light wind. Draco shivered as he turned, seeing if any were left behind. Only Eason and Mordred, and then Morgan, and then the first sacrifice, the last to go.
Her head tilted and the empty sockets of her eyes fixed on him. He expected anger or relief. Something. Voldemort had died spectacularly. Surely she would go in a burst of blood or scream or at least dive into the rock.
And then she was gone.
Not knowing what to do, Draco stared at where she had stood for several long seconds. She'd been here this whole time, and now she was gone. Heaven? Had that even been her real soul, or just a construct of dark magic?
"What in the bloody hell was that?"
Draco blinked. Was that a Weasley? Oh, right. He'd forgotten all about the fight. Someone lit a powerful lumos beside him and threw a cloak over his shoulders, although he didn't know why. The cloak was soaking wet and-oh. Oh dear. He noticed the way the breeze blew over him and pulled the cloak closer around his legs. Sometime during the deluge he had changed back without noticing.
"Draco?" Harry asked, trying to see his face. "Are you all right?"
"I..." As if he'd been shaken out of a deep sleep, Draco craned his head and squinted through Harry's spell. "Did you see it, too?"
"Nevermind that," Harry said breathlessly. "You need to do your cleansing ritual-"
"But you couldn't have missed them," Draco insisted. "There were hundreds of them all bleeding and-"
"Draco, look at yourself!" Harry yelled, grabbing his shoulders and shaking him once. "Your covered in dark magic."
So he was-positively dripping, Draco found. Dark magic coated him as if he'd rolled around in the mud, too thick to see most of his skin. And yet there was no pain, none of the crushing suffocation he'd felt before at Hogwarts. He scooped a handful of the black glop in one hand, letting it slide through his fingers. Pure dark magic. It felt a little like cold honey.
"Can you hear me?" Harry said. "Oh hell-scithenes sceadu-"
"It's all right," Draco interrupted him, putting his fingers to Harry's lips. "It's not hurting me...listen, can I borrow your wand?"
"It...it isn't hurting?" Harry asked. He narrowed his eyes, studying Draco. "Are you sure?"
"I'm not dying and I'm not mad," Draco assured him. "Promise. Your wand?"
"Um, Draco..." Harry looked over his shoulder, scanning the aurors and Knights. "I don't know if we're going to start fighting again."
Draco sighed in irritation. After what just happened, he couldn't be bothered to fight, not when he had just turned his entire world on its head. Didn't anyone feel the change that had just taken place? Or was the only one who had seen the dead wizards and the rain of blood? He looked at the wizards standing on the battlefield, thoroughly drenched like wet hens. A few of Lupin's lot were even holding sagging aurors against their shoulders-Draco frowned. And Nymphadora had even gone and rescued bloody Fudge. Brilliant. At least the bastard was unconscious.
"Fight's over," Draco said with so much confidence that he surprised himself. "Let me have your wand, just for a moment. I promise I'll give it back."
"I wasn't worried about that," Harry said, but he drew his wand and handed it over.
Draco didn't have to think about the spell, translating English to the old tongue. It simply came to mind as if he'd been born speaking it.
He didn't even have to imagine the clothing he conjured-the darkness shaped itself into a tunic and pants with a belt to clasp it snug. It was little old fashioned, something he had seen in a dream perhaps. It certainly felt like homespun, not the soft material he usually favored, but it was perfectly tailored and, best of all, dry.
Standing up on the rock, he took a long look around himself. Yes, the buildings were gone, though not the entire town. Draco saw the outline of muggle houses against the stars, but the field itself was clear. If there had been muggles on the field when the fighting started, they had joined the pile of rubbish no doubt jammed at wherever the flood had ended.
"What on earth just happened?"
Hermione's question rang loudly through the group. Draco took a moment to see who was still standing. Most of Lupin's ragged group remained, the Weasley clan easy to spot among them, and Dumbledore's Order stood between them and the aurors, too well seasoned to drop their guard even if they had just survived a watery hell. His father's Knights slowly edged back together, murmuring amongst each other and figuring out who was who. Someone in the back of the group was jotting names down in a diary, and Draco wondered who in the dark families had managed to straddle the Knights and the Children of Samhain.
He smiled. How easily the knowledge sprang to his mind now.
"You saw them, too?" he asked, raising his voice when he realized he had whispered. "All the dead?"
"Like a zombie movie," she nodded. "I was on my broom. I couldn't see the end of them."
Draco hesitated, then decided he'd ask Harry what a zombie movie was later.
"I can't explain now," he said after a moment. "It'll take too long. We...we've stopped fighting, right?"
No one spoke for several seconds. And then in the back someone called out "you promise not to make it flood again?"
There were several nods of agreement. Draco was struck at how all sides suddenly felt such camaraderie in having survived the torrent and how all the will to keep up the battle had been ripped away. It probably helped that most of them knew each other and were friends before Fudge and cultural brought them to blows.
"Merlin," one of the aurors groaned. "I didn't even know Fudge was rounding up other aurors."
"And forgive my asking," Dumbledore added, "but how did you summon the rain? That's not any spell I know of."
"And what was with those dead people?" Ron demanded again.
"I insist we discuss this indoors," Severus snapped, sounding like the wet cat that he resembled. "It's damn cold."
"Harry and I are staying," Draco said. "We need to keep the muggles out of this place and get them to move away, and I can't cast that kind of spell myself."
Severus pointedly looked over his shoulder at the washed out road where the muggle buildings and lamp posts had all floated away. "You cleared out part of the town. That isn't enough?"
Draco smiled tiredly. "Not for a school."
Dumbledore made a soft sound of understanding, quickly followed by Lucius and Lupin. And then no one was going home just yet.
The Battle of Bredgett, as it came to be known in later years, ended with all sides weary not from fighting but from surviving, and from another hour laying the charms that would repel muggles from the town. Draco didn't think that would be such a hard task considering how much of their business district he'd just destroyed. And then everyone gave everyone else a wary, cautious look that threatened more fighting if anyone started flinging spells around, and they all portkeyed or apparated home.
Draco and Harry were the last to leave, sitting side by side on the coffin-shaped rock. Draco leaned against his husband, drowsing on his shoulder, and Harry took Draco's hand and locked their fingers together.
"You're not gonna start dripping dark magic again, are you?" Harry asked as he rubbed Draco's hand, warming him. "You scared the hell out of me."
"I don't think so," Draco said. "I think I know how the dark lord managed to stay alive now."
"Sheer power. He held enough magic that it sort of protected him against itself." Draco struggled to describe it. "Like taking so much poison that you get immune?"
"So you're as strong as him now?" Harry asked with a chuckle. "Care to duel?"
"No," Draco said quickly and laughed. "I think not."
The laughter faded, and the only thing they heard was the wind blowing over the field. Hollow and cold, the wind cut through his clothes and made him shiver. Draco put his free hand around Harry and held him close. He would've felt unutterably lonely if he didn't have his husband there. As if they were the only ones left in the world.
"You know I didn't mean to," Draco said, meeting Harry's eyes. "Right? I hate them, but I didn't mean to get rid of everything around us like that. I didn't even have control over the storm."
"I believe you," Harry reassured him. "You looked just as surprised as everyone. You will tell me what happened, right? You looked damned terrified for awhile there, and you wouldn't answer me."
"I will," Draco nodded. "Tomorrow. Today? I don't know what time it is... I'll explain everything when we wake up. I think I understand what I did now, why it worked out this way."
"Yeah. Dark magic was based on one very old oath." He closed his eyes and breathed out. "And I broke it."
To be concluded...