Part One: The Laying Down of Arms
Temporarily borrowed from J.K Rowling.
Author's Notes: This story was inspired by Troy and the setting reinforced by Woman of the Dunes. Something about hot sun and sand is very appealing when one is stuck in a land of perpetual winter.
The Background: Although this story still takes place in a magical universe, magic is not easily channeled or refined, thus no wands. Magic-users such as Harry and Draco can pull energies from their environment to create one large blast of tangible power, which would cripple their enemies, but would never be able to execute something as complicated as transfiguration or delicate as household cleaning spells.
Summary: AU. As a gesture of good-will, the Champion of Gryffindor is sent to negotiate the terms of surrender with Voldemort's heir-apparent. A peace treaty won't be the only thing on the table. HD.
Squinting at the sun's glare, Draco Malfoy impatiently signaled for his retinue to move forward a few steps. The fan boy yelped and scrambled to follow his master, wincing as the sand burned the soles of his feet. Draco couldn't have care less as he scouted ahead with a makeshift telescope to assess the enemy's forces. When he heard Blaise's mount pull up beside him, the blonde prince murmured, "Are the men in position?"
His Captain's response was immediate. "Yes, Sire. The archers are in position and a second regiment has been instructed to guard our flank."
"Excellent," Draco said allowing a faint smirk to touch the corners of his lips. He scanned the horizon lazily, pleased to see that the enemy forces numbered significantly less than his own. Then again, as Draco's eyes caught sight of a small contingent, lead by a dark haired soldier, perhaps numbers wouldn't be the deciding factor in this particular battle.
The lone figure in scarlet robes sat on his horse easily, as if he had been in this position hundreds of times. Perhaps he had, Draco mused, if his reputation held any kernel of truth.
Harry Potter. The Champion of Gryffindor and the only man to have faced Lord Voldemort single-handedly and survived to tell the tale. That in itself was an incredible feat, for the Dark Lord was renowned for his masterful swordsmanship as much as he was for his vicious brutality towards all who would oppose him.Some said that Voldemort had simply been too overconfident in his abilities and had allowed young Potter to seize his chance to deal a crippling blow and escape. Other rumors, which were discouraged from being spread under pain of death, was of an ancient prophesy for which Harry Potter was dubbed the Chosen One--blessed with some divine power to end Voldemort's tyranny over the land once and for all. Prophecy or no, Draco felt a certain it necessary to put a stop to Potter before the dissent began to ferment amongst the Dark Lord's sworn vassals.
The pursuit of Harry Potter had now culminated in this battle, in which the last, limping forces of three great Houses banded together to make one final stand against the crushing might of Voldemort's undead army. The fourth House had thrown their lot with Voldemort, and had never looked back. One usually didn't when one was assured of being on the winning side.
Draco felt a wave of annoyance wash over him, dampening his sense of triumph. Unfortunately, the setting wasn't quite what he had expected. The opposing troops had marched relentlessly, finally meeting in the middle of a deserted wasteland, with nothing but sand stretching out for miles in either direction. No doubt it was chosen to minimize the casualties. The blonde prince sneered at the thought. Had he been on the other side, he would have conscripted every last man, woman and child from all three Houses in order to buy time as decoys. Citizens were expendable. They would've served well as human shields.
No matter, Draco thought dismissively as he snapped for water. Soon, the terms of surrender would be presented to Dumbledore's envoys. If they possessed half the intelligence Voldemort gave them credit for, they would fall to their knees and kiss the ground Draco walked on for allowing them to leave with the skin off their backs. The image pleased the blonde prince greatly. The sooner this farce was over, the sooner Draco could return back to civilization and enjoy his status as Voldemort's heir apparent.
Swallowing a mouthful of stale-tasting water, he threw the flask aside as he signaled his retinue to continue forward and maneuvered his mount towards the approaching figures. He was pleased to see three wore scarlet robes of the Order and that the one in the lead was the dark haired man he had previously spied through his telescope.
Both sides pulled up short, leaving about twelve paces between them. For a moment, there was absolute silence as the horses whinnied nervously, pawing the sand. There were three other individuals who had come with Potter, but Draco barely noticed their existence, concentrating all of his attention on the leader.
"Harry Potter," Draco smirked, adjusting his green mantle. "At last we meet."
"I would say it was my pleasure, but circumstances dictate otherwise," was the smooth reply. The dark haired man loosened his face coverings, allowing them to fall away to reveal a handsome, tanned face with a firm jaw. His nose was slightly crooked and there was a lightning bold shaped scar on his forehead, no doubt trophies from one of his many battles, but what drew Draco's attention were Potter's impossibly emerald green eyes, which were now blazing with righteous anger.
The blond prince felt his throat go dry, which had nothing to do with their desert surroundings. No rumors whispered in the barracks could have prepared him to meet the illustrious Harry Potter in person. The magical aura that emanated from the Chosen One was thick, rolling off of him in waves, saturating both parties with Potter's signature power. From the look on Blaise's face, this trait hadn't escaped his notice either, and the dark haired captain moved subtly closer to his prince. He needn't have bothered, for rather than feeling intimidated, Draco felt pleasantly intoxicated surrounded by the magically charged air. He snapped his fingers for water, which was promptly delivered by the fan boy. Even that tasted sweet on his tongue after a few seconds of being exposed to Potter's presence.
His expression must have been obvious, for Potter frowned and shifted in his seat, looking subtly around for some kind of trap. "Is there something wrong?"
"Not at all," Draco all but purred. He saw as Blaise shot him an astonished look and ignored him. "Let's talk terms, Potter."
This seemed like the correct thing to say, for the dark haired man scowled and straightened himself. "I think we both know that talking won't get us anywhere, but for the sake of posterity," Potter cleared his throat. "The Order demands Voldemort cease his military activities on the borders, disband his army, and submit himself to a tribune to be tried for war crimes. He will be made to pay reparations to the families who have been affected by this war."
"That's where you're wrong, Potter," Draco drawled. "Seeing as how the Dark Lord cannot even mount a horse since you dealt him that crippling blow, he couldn't possibly have acted directly in any of the matters thus previously mentioned." The look of surprise on Potter's face was worth that little capitulation. Surely the Chosen One had a right to know just how close Voldemort had been to dying. "Had you struck a quarter-inch higher, we wouldn't be having this conversation. As such, Lord Voldemort is very much alive, but has been confined to his chambers, leaving only once a day to enjoy the sun and his private gardens."
"Don't listen to him, Harry! That boot-licking bastard would say anything to protect his master," the red-head behind Potter burst out furiously. He was quelled with a raised hand from Potter. Draco sneered. Weasleys never did have the proper breeding necessary to associate in polite company.
"I, on the other hand," the silver-eyed prince continued as if he had not been interrupted, "Have been named Voldemort's successor and have acted in his name for the past decade. So in truth, it is Iwho have committed all manner of atrocities and so it is I who would face a less than sympathetic war tribune—a prospect which is less than pleasing, I assure you."
"Then it seems that we are at an impasse," Potter said stiffly, his lips thinned perceptibly and Draco felt another rush of magical energy as the dark haired man tried to restrain his frustration.
"Not quite," the blonde prince said softly. "You haven't even heard our demands."
Potter shook his head. "Isn't that obvious? No doubt our unconditional surrender and eternal servitude."
"You're only half-right," Draco smirked still feeling somewhat light-headed. "In exchange for your unconditional surrender, I will allow the Heads of the Great Houses to keep their title and position in a lesser capacity. The political systems and social structures can remain, but they will be secondary to the infrastructure that will be implemented to oversee the governance of the populace. There will also be a modest yearly tribute that will be exacted based on annual production."
"I'd rather die than give this pompous asshole a single Knut," Weasely snarled.
"That can be arranged," Blaise said quietly, fingering the pommel of his sword.
"Enough!" Potter barked. His friend flushed angrily, but subsided, satisfying himself by glaring alternately at Draco and Blaise.
Potter's green eyes were trained intently on Draco. "We could fight, as we originally intended."
"You could pit your troops against mine," Draco conceded. "But surely you can see that my military power outnumbers your combined forces three times over. We would overwhelm you in numbers alone and I would never have to tap my reinforcements or reserves. Thousands of your kinsmen will be slaughtered needlessly, on top of the thousands that have already died to help you arrive at this point. There is no chance of retreat, no escape from this fate, but the one I offer now. Such a clear advantage allows me to be more magnanimous than usual.
"Of course," the blonde prince continued, licking his lips, pleased with the uneasy expression on Potter's face, "Should you decide to surrender, I would want a gesture of good-faith to ensure your continued cooperation."
Potter frowned. "Since when has a Gryffindor's word come into question?"
"These are trying times," Draco shrugged, feigning regret. "One cannot be too careful." Already, his mind was working out a plan to ensnare Potter, and from the look on the Chosen One's face, it seemed like he was ready to take the bait.
"And what exactly did you have in mind?" Potter asked, his green eyes narrowing in suspicion. At least he wasn't completely naïve.
"You," Draco said simply.
The red-head swore. "There's not a chance in Hell we'd hand Harry over to you! Not when every Death Eater has orders to kill him on sight!" Turning to Potter, he said, "Harry, I don't know why you're even humoring this bastard. Any promises he makes won't be worth the paper it's written on."
"And what reason would I have to kill the Boy-Who-Lived? The war will have ended and dissidents scattered. The figurehead position Potter is filling will have become obsolete and by the time the new government has been instated, it would be in my better interest to have someone with ties to the Great Houses by my side to off-set any thoughts of future rebellion. It would be a mutually beneficial partnership which will bring about a lifetime's worth of peace.
The silver-eyed prince smirked. "And besides, I do believe Potter is more than capable of defending himself against any wayward hexes hurled his way."
The Weasley opened his mouth angrily to protest, but Potter forestalled him by holding his hand out to Draco to shake, his jaw set in a determined line. "The conditions are fair. If you swear to uphold your end of the bargain, I don't see any reason not to do the same. I accept your terms, Malfoy."
"Excellent," Draco smiled, extending his hand to clasp Potter's. The moment their hands touched, there was a strange hum that rippled throughout Draco's body, making the ends of his hair stand up. Absently, he licked his lips again as he gazed at Potter through half-lidded eyes. Oh yes, this would certainly be a mutually beneficial partnership for both of them.