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This is the last chapter of Changing of the Guard. This story may someday have associated stories set in the same universe, but is unlikely to have a novel-length sequel. I haven't said all I have to say regarding these characters; I think I could take another fic of the same length and still not have said everything regarding them. But the immediate issues are resolved, and all stories have an end.
Or at least, the end is beyond what we can see—and probably a different story.
Epilogue—Glimpses of a Changing Life
"But you've slept with women in the past, haven't you?"
Draco ducked his head if embarrassed, smiling, but privately he had decided that he would remember the face of that reporter. It was unfair that she should have been allowed to remain in Britain and openly write for the papers when Malcolm Therris had been forced into hiding for his exemplary work on the John Grey article. Of course, Therris was still writing under a pseudonym and collecting information as he could from his refuge—which Draco more than suspected was one of Harry's estates—but it was the principle of the thing.
"I have," said Draco. "I hardly would now. There's a certain philosophy I live my life by, which you may have heard of."
"Which philosophy?" The woman eagerly poised her quill over her parchment and stared at him with her lips slightly parted. Draco had learned to identify that look in the past few months. Some people seemed to think they could taste the reflected glory that came off someone who had slept with Harry Potter. Draco now understood why Harry had gone to such great lengths to disguise himself for ten years.
"Fidelity," Draco said, and showed her all his teeth. The woman flushed and looked down, but other reporters elbowed her out of the way and leaned forwards. Draco frequently gave public press conferences like this, since the fiction he and Harry maintained was that he was less "busy" in Harry. In truth, Harry still found confrontations with the public stressful, unless he had planned and utterly controlled the situation as he had in the public party or the trap to catch Grey, and he would begin to slip into another persona after less than half-an-hour. Draco was unwilling to encourage that except in the context of business.
He quite enjoyed the press conferences, rather than minding them. He got to influence the way thousands of people in the wizarding world saw gay and lesbian wizards and witches every day. It suited the fantasies he had once had of controlling the world, either openly or from behind a more powerful companion.
He knew some people had dismissed him because he was "Harry Potter's fucktoy." Draco also remembered their names, and he had already sent revenges into motion that might take years but would produce satisfying results in the end.
He was speaking on an impromptu stage built in the same field where the original party had been held, which had become an unofficial gathering place for the rebellion, including Nusante's people. Reporters could always find someone to talk to here with a decided opinion on what the homosexual wizards of Britain should do next. Several spirited debates about the changing laws had already happened here. And there had been other parties, smaller ones, but with Harry in attendance. No attackers had come after the second time, when Harry's wards had engorged the cock of one attacking wizard and had it lead him irresistibly to every man in attendance, including his own companions.
None of what they'd achieved was a perfect solution; someone had taken over Counterstrike, though someone with less force of personality and money than Grey, and continued to agitate for harder laws against homosexuality. But Draco was confident they would win in the end. Already more young pure-bloods had attended the gatherings in this field than had been at the party in Clothilde Castle where he and Harry had alarmed the other guests. He might have a hundred and twenty years left to live yet. He was quietly determined that he would see the changing of the guard, the growth of idiocy into acceptance and even astonishment that gay wizards and witches should have been regarded as different from anyone else.
He stepped off the stage, briefly catching Nusante's eye. The man looked away hastily. He had attended every press conference, and the parties, though he usually left the moment he caught sight of Harry. His face was always twisted when he looked at either of them. Draco smiled now. He'd heard that Nusante hadn't written a play in months, and barely left his house. He was still working through the guilt spell, then, and his own pride fighting what he would see as "irrational" emotions would make it worse.
Draco's foot had just settled on the ground when the world dissolved into chaos and light.
Draco could hear screams, distantly, but they seemed unimportant. He was involved in the quite astonishing pain of his own body. He flew through a region that lashed blazes of white radiance into him which hurt worse than the Cruciatus. When he breathed, he breathed agony instead of air. He was sure his father would have found it all intensely interesting, and might have been willing to go through the experience himself to understand it from the inside out.
He landed heavily, thrown against the stage, and then he came back to reality. His ribs hurt, and one ankle was twisted heavily enough that Draco thought it was at least sprained, and probably broken. He blinked furiously, but he couldn't see; afterimages crowded like trees in a forest at night across his eyes. Draco hissed and propped himself up by digging his elbows into the soil. Being blind when an enemy might be sneaking up on him bothered him worse than the rest.
An arm went around his shoulders, and Draco stiffened. But Blaise's voice spoke into his ear, soft and familiar. "Easy, Draco. You were the only one hurt, and even then, I cast a Mitigating Charm, so some of the damage was deflected away from you and hit the stone of the stage instead."
"Blaise? I didn't know you would be here." Draco turned his head from side to side, out of sorts. The afterimages still clouded his eyes. "What happened?"
"Some sort of device implanted in the ground next to the stage," Blaise said grimly, and Draco heard him mutter several soft incantations. "I have no idea if they knew where you were going to step," Blaise continued after a moment, "or if it was magical energy gathered under the soil and they simply concentrated it when they'd already seen where you intended to walk."
Draco paused, breathing softly. He noted that it hurt to breathe, but only on the outside of his body; that was an excellent sign he didn't have a broken rib. He felt as though someone had beaten him with sticks, but he would recover. His leg was more of a concern, and he motioned Blaise to check it whilst his mind raced towards the inevitable conclusion.
"I invented a device that did something like that," he said at last. "Or that could do something like that, if you used it in the wrong manner."
"Your leg isn't broken," Blaise said. "You can get around by hopping on me—" He paused. "What did you say?"
"There's a Muggle device called a mine," Draco said, and leaned his head back on Blaise's shoulder, blinking steadily straight ahead. His vision was clearing again, and now he could see the ravenous faces of the reporters as they hovered near. What a story they'll have to take home tonight, he thought, and part of his mind began making calculations about how much he and Harry and the rebellion could profit from this. "They use it for trapping the ground that enemy soldiers might cross, tearing feet off, that kind of thing. I invented a device that would use a similar force and could be buried underground, but it would only Apparate an intruder uncontrollably away, not hurt him like this." He took a deep breath. "Blaise, these bastards are using one of my own machines against me."
"Or one of your principles," Blaise said. "They'd be stupid to use one of Malfoy's Machineries against you when you've got those spells that could make life difficult for them if they did. Maybe they studied Muggle technology, too, and decided to apply the idea."
The afterimages were almost gone. Draco gave a smile that made several of the reporters step back and said out of the corner of his mouth, "Cast a Lightening Charm and a Levitation Charm so they can think I got up under my own power. Nonverbally, of course."
Blaise opened his mouth as if he would protest, and then he obeyed with no more than a faint sigh. Draco heard the disbelieving gasps as he planted a hand on the stage and heaved himself to his feet. He surveyed the crowd with scorn, as if he were seeking out and memorizing the faces of all those who had thought he was too wounded to move. Several more stepped away from him.
"Well," Draco said lightly. "It seems that a certain person intends to test the resolve Harry and I have made not to use violence." Always imply that you know who your enemies are, even if you have no idea. That was a trick Lucius had taught him and which Draco had only refined in the past month whilst he interacted with Harry's friends. A haughty glare when he was sure insults had been used, even when he hadn't heard them, made the Weasleys squirm in their seats like naughty children, and had brought the confessions of several pranks in the making.
"Who?" asked a voice that didn't belong to a reporter. Draco looked up and met Nusante's eyes.
"Why," Draco said, "I think the identity of our foe should be sufficiently clear to anyone who's been following our activities closely for the past few months." He planted his foot carefully on the ground. He would look as if he were walking normally, since his body was now so light the ankle had hardly any weight to bear, but the bruise had turned an impressive purple-black. Cameras flashed. Draco showed his teeth again.
"Harry and I are fighters," he said, speaking directly to Nusante. "That's different from being warriors, who can't operate outside a context of war. Fighters understand all sorts of struggles. This attack is an attempt to force riots, or maybe to persuade Harry to come forwards and unleash that powerful magic so many people are afraid will make him a Dark Lord someday. Neither will work." He folded his arms and lifted his chin. Blaise, understanding perfectly, conjured a faint breeze to sweep around his head and lift his hair dramatically. They'd used similar tactics in the Slytherin common room to foil the older years. "A large part of winning means choosing the grounds on which you will fight. And Harry and I will win."
He strode off, or so it would look to anyone watching from a distance. He did pause on the Apparition point before he vanished, to meet two pairs of eyes. One was those of Alice Moonstone, who had scandalized her father by attending some of the parties and all of the press conferences. No trace of the enslavement spell Lucius had tried to cast remained, and Draco could look at her without fear. So could Blaise, who Draco had sometimes seen hovering over her, and who he suspected might be the draw for Alice more than the rebellion was. At least, she had never missed a gathering that Blaise also attended. But now she stared straight at him and gave a grim little nod, quietly praising him for doing the right thing.
The second pair of eyes was Nusante's, and in them Draco saw the start of the hero-worship Harry would detest but which Draco had long thought was needed to heal the remaining rifts in the rebellion between their followers and Nusante's artistic friends. And since Nusante was going to worship him, and not Harry, Harry should have no objection to it.
Of course, Harry would have some legitimate reasons to protest if Draco didn't return home immediately and tell him what happened.
Draco spun on the spot and Disapparated.
Harry stepped out of the fireplace smiling. That was the first conversation he'd had with Ron and Hermione since their reconciliation that hadn't been filled with awkward pauses because of all the things they wanted to know and he didn't want to tell them. Hermione had got off on a tangent about the history of homosexuality in the wizarding world, and Ron had interrupted with harsh squawks, and Harry had corrected Hermione's history text. Hermione had been astonished that someone could correct a book—well, she had been astonished that Harry could do it, anyway—but she had responded graciously. Of course, she was greedy for more knowledge.
Harry shook the soot off his cloak and gave it to Kreacher, who appeared to take it with a worried look on his face. Harry paused. "What's the matter?" he asked. It was probably a tale of burned food or a Dark artifact that had chased Kreacher out of the attic when he tried to dust it, but such calamities didn't usually happen to the house-elf.
"Master Draco is feeling poorly," Kreacher said.
Harry immediately straightened. "Poorly?" he demanded.
"He was attacked." Kreacher blinked watering eyes at him, as if he found it difficult to see through his distress about the attack on Draco. "Badly bruised ribs and a leg he should be resting." He stamped a little and glared up the stairs.
"Why didn't he go to St. Mungo's?" Harry was already taking the stairs. Draco wasn't a fool. He would have known the Healers were the best people to treat a broken leg or sprained ankle, and he had none of Harry's investment in an air of mystery and privacy.
"He says he is 'pretending it's not as bad as it is to keep the people who want to see weakness away,'" Kreacher said, imitating Draco's voice with uncanny accuracy.
Harry opened the bedroom door with a hasty call of thanks to the elf and a request to bring dinner to bed, and vanished into the room.
Harry had already screamed at him and insulted his intelligence and thanked Merlin for Blaise and sworn vengeance on the person who hurt Draco. Now he had reached the part of his worrying routine that Draco liked best, when he tried to make him feel good in compensation for what he'd gone through.
Draco's upper body rested against pillows so soft and smooth that he could barely feel them; it was as if gravity had simply chosen to spare him a fall for reasons of its own. His legs rested on another pair of pillows, his sprained ankle tenderly wrapped round with cloth even though Harry had already used several frighteningly effective healing spells he'd looked up in the Black library on it. He was naked, and Harry had his head bent, nestled between Draco's hip and groin, carefully licking his cock.
Draco tried to remember the last time he had felt so comfortable, but was interrupted when he shuddered and went cross-eyed, bucking. Harry sucked the head of his cock into his mouth, then looked up at him and used some wandless magic that went past Draco like a wind in water. Draco could suddenly hear Harry's voice speaking directly into his thoughts, lulling but with an undertone that spoke of lust as red as embers. Not so fast. I have more to offer you than a quick orgasm.
"A quick orgasm is just fine with me," Draco gasped out.
Harry laughed darkly and returned to his task, licking and swiping the sides of Draco's erection with his tongue, never taking it fully into his mouth. And he had allowed the magical connection to open up between them for the first time in months; Draco knew Harry had been cautious of it and had wanted to make love without being driven into extremes of passion. But sometime between that last overwhelming fuck when they could read each other's emotions and bodies and now, Harry had learned to control the damn thing. Now Draco could feel it where Harry's tongue touched skin—brush after brush of fire, of heated satin, of quicksilver wetness—and then he would lose it when Harry's tongue traveled away again.
He growled and, once, screamed when Harry sucked hard on the vein on the underside of his cock and at the same moment sent his mind sliding effortlessly through Draco's, like a shark cleaving water. For a moment, just a moment, he was as fully bound as he wanted to be, remembering a conversation with Gryffindor yearmates he'd never had, thinking of Weasley and Granger as Ron and Hermione, experiencing the sensation of Harry's cock lying warm and unattended against his belly. And then Harry leaned back on his knees and smiled at him, eyes deep and lips swollen.
"Please," Draco breathed, and didn't care that he was sobbing like a child. "Please."
And then Harry dived and sucked, putting the full force of his concentration behind it, and the magic rolled over Draco. And Draco realized the bastard had added wandless magic to it. Intense sweetness seized him, threw him from the hands of a giant to the back of a dragon, and the buildup to orgasm lasted so long he thought he would shatter—
And when he came, he soaked himself and howled like a werewolf, and returned to himself with a sore throat and more bloody afterimages in front of his eyes. He lay, panting, against the pillows. The pain from his ankle had dissipated.
"How did you do that?" he murmured, opening his eyes and staring down at Harry in awe he didn't want to admit to.
Harry gravely extended his tongue.
Draco swatted him lightly on the back of his head. "Prat. How did you—heal me?" He moved his ankle tentatively, but yes, the ache was entirely gone, and when he undid the bandages, so was the bruise. When he reached up to feel his ribs, he could palpitate the skin as hard as he liked, and still he felt no more than the ordinary pain he would from doing so.
"Willed my magic to do it at the same moment as it was giving you pleasure," Harry said calmly. "It took extra impulsion from my emotions and from your magic, which reached out to me when you came. I wanted to make you feel good. My power decided that to make you feel really good, it had to take away your wounds as well as give you sexual satisfaction." He kissed Draco's hip.
"We'll have to find out who attacked me, of course." Draco caressed Harry's hair.
"Mmmm." Harry exhaled gently across Draco's cock, which couldn't revive yet but appreciated the attention, and then laid his head against Draco's calf and closed his eyes. He breathed so deeply and so slowly that Draco could almost believe he'd fallen asleep, and shook his head when Draco reached down to return the favor.
"Not right now," he whispered. "I want to relax before I have dinner."
Draco stayed awake long enough to eat—he remembered that—but then Harry was on him again, with his hands this time, and he fell asleep dazed and happy and utterly certain he and Harry would defeat this mysterious enemy as they had defeated every other.
He told himself later, when he opened his eyes and Harry had some evidence as to who was behind the attack, that of course he should have known Harry was plotting even as he rested in bed beside Draco. He hadn't fully opened his eyes in all that time. He was keeping them half-shut, or shut completely, not to disguise his lust—Draco could feel that through the magic that connected them—but to disguise his racing brain.
Harry studied the calendar hanging on the wall, then nodded gravely. He had another two days before he had to go and play Osiris for Lucille, the witch who was the last case he'd had before Draco.
"Before Draco" and "After Draco." The two periods that divide my life.
The time between now and then should be enough to begin establishing contacts inside Counterstrike and the other anti-gay organizations it worked with and trying to find out who could have been so stupid as to attack Draco.
Stupid, Harry thought, as he opened his cupboard and pulled out his most traditional and sleekly-cut gray robes, because whoever had done it should have known that they would bring Harry Potter down on their heads like the wrath of Dumbledore and Merlin combined. And where Harry Potter went, a hundred other people followed.
Their enemy had no way of knowing that, of course. But he should have.
Harry faced the mirror and began casting glamours that shifted his appearance from moment to moment. When he decided on the one he liked, he would use Transfigurations to make it permanent. No doubt he would have to pass through many houses, estates, and secret meetings with anti-glamour wards hung all over the walls and doors. They would not want to take the chance that Harry Potter, who was so good at disguising himself as Brian Montgomery, could be among them.
Harry gave a vicious smile into the mirror that he liked the look of and decided to keep. Then he paused as his eyes darkened to a slaty color just this side of John Grey's. Yes, he liked that, too. So he had the eyes and he had the smile, and a moment later he had the hair, which darkened and became greasy and fell down his shoulders, and the skin, sallow and puckered with the stains of a man who worked often on potions.
Here's to you, Severus Snape, Harry thought, and cast the auditory glamour that would deepen his voice, though not make him sound exactly like Snape. There could be a few people who remembered Snape, where he was going.
"Hello," he murmured. "My name is Charles Awfen. I've heard about your group, and I believe I might be interested in joining."
Already new memories were growing in his mind, the memories of a boy who had grown up lonely and neglected by his mother after a gay wizard had killed his father. He had made extensive psychological studies and become convinced that homosexuality was connected to murderous impulses, but had never tried to publish any of his research, feeling it would be better if the perverts didn't know they had such an implacable enemy. He had been an admirer of John Grey and was saddened to hear he was not in Britain at the moment. For some information he wanted to use to complete his studies, he would let these men have access to some of his insights and his potions lab.
From there, it was only a matter of fixing some of the features by means of Transfiguration rather than glamour, and grooming some of the memories into shape.
On his way to the door out of Grimmauld Place, Harry passed the room where he had locked the reverse Pensieve. He paused for long moments, listening to more than feeling the tingle of Dark magic; Awfen was a man who conceptualized Dark magic in auditory terms.
Then he dismissed the locking wards with a swift motion of his wand he wouldn't be showing any of the people he met today and stepped inside.
"Voldemort. Nagini," he whispered, and the door of the cabinet popped open. He took the Pensieve into his hands and held it, staring into the awful emptiness in it. He could vanish into that void and never come out again.
Then he stepped back and sneered, placing the Pensieve carefully on the table in the center of the room. Charles Awfen was too proud to vanish.
A blast of pure white fire—Awfen specialized in fire spells when he decided to take up combat magic; he found the purifying nature and implications of flames soothing—and the Pensieve began to burn. He watched as the Pensieve melted and became slag, now and then fanning the magic with encouraging strength. He nodded when the Dark artifact was gone, and smiled when he thought he heard a very faint scream from the heart of the fire.
"That's what evil things deserve," he murmured.
He walked on his way and paused in the door of the house, smelling the evening air and fixing a destination in his mind. He would take two steps and Apparate.
In one moment now.
But he took that single moment on the doorstep to feel a dazzling pride that he was what he was, who he was, a wizard who commanded people and skills, memories and appearances, that his enemies could not even imagine, and who had the love of the one man who was able to accept all that and still hold Harry to a path of honesty, trust, and affection he would have lost to the whirling cloud of his personas otherwise.
Then the moment was past and he was off the doorstep, striding forwards two steps in the company of everyone he was. He Apparated with a strong sense of confidence.
How could such a wizard not have good hunting?