A/N: This is a repost... because fanfic took it down and there have been requests for it to be added once more. I hope you all enjoy. I hope fanfic does not take it down again. I hope I am uploading the corrected version :O)
Disclaimer: I, of course, own nothing of this, at all; well, okay, maybe the idea, but that is the limit of ownership. The rest, including the most delectable and sexy Draco (and Severus), belong to Mme. Rowling
"…just as though the taboo were never anything but the means of cursing gloriously whatever it forbids" G. Bataille
He sees her haloed in the dim torchlight; her head, heavy with curls caught at her neck, tilts over an endless amount of parchment. The quill in her hand twirls first one way and then another.
The library is quiet, empty, as it normally is this time of year. Darkness blends with the limited light of the torches, casting shadows and moments of blackness within the rows of books.
The only sound is the movement of air.
A curl falls in front of her and a daft movement of her hand, born of endless movements before, tucks the rampant hair behind one ear. His own hand, aristocratic with long thin fingers, balls into a fist and absently rubs at a spot on his chest, just under his chin.
Once upon a time she would have felt him standing against the door. She would have looked up; something like panic would have fallen across her features before she recognized the form. Then she would have tensed. Her quill would have stopped, her eyes would have narrowed slightly, and her chin would have risen.
Whether it's because so many years have passed or because she no longer fears very much, or perhaps because she feels safe in this place, she does not look over, nor does she feel his presence.
She continues to stare into the shadows in front of her.
So his tall form, clad entirely in black, leans against the door and watches the woman in front of him. He traces her face with his eyes; the smooth cheek, the slightly pouted lower lip, the delicate but always firm chin. Always so very firm.
He realizes he is rubbing his chest and drops his hand, purposefully making it relax at his side.
He stands for a moment longer before moving away from the door, stirring the air, but so very quietly that when Hermione finally recognizes a presence by the slight flickering of the torches, there is no one there and she hears nothing.
Like his old Head of House, Draco Malfoy moves through the darkened passageways with a quietness and stealth only learned out of necessity.
The shadows welcome him. The moonlight catches and holds the gleam of his hair, a juxtaposition of light and dark, muted though, softened by something long passed and no longer talked about.
Movements are minimal, his hands and arms by his side, his stride long, eating up the stone, but casual, graceful, almost feline, assured.
Gaining the entrance to the Main Hall he pauses, smoothing the black robe with a hand decorated with a blood red stone and, with the same control that he used in the library, the same silence, he walks into the Hall.
He is one of the first to arrive to the meeting; the only other two occupants are Remus Lupin and his wife, Nymphadora Tonks Lupin, who are talking quietly between themselves. Lupin, always aware of his immediate surroundings, looks up at the approach of the dark figure.
Draco smiles slightly, a smile that no longer holds malice, but rather an old thought, one of shared experiences and lifetimes lived in one summer and winter.
"Mr. and Mrs. Lupin," Draco greets, voice quiet, smooth tones.
The torches around them flicker from his words.
Remus smiles in return and where there was once a tinge of dislike, there is none of that now, just recognition. Not friendly – no, never friendly – but with some of the same sort of familiarity, of experiences long passed but never quite forgotten.
Silver eyes turn towards the thin woman at Remus' side, her hair, as usual, bubble gum pink.
"Cousin," she says.
Draco inclines his head, smiling briefly before taking a seat down the table from them. There was a time when he would have been horrified to acknowledge the connection between himself and Nymphadora, out loud or otherwise. But that was before. Now he recognizes her for the relative she is, for the past.
Always the past.
Remus and Tonks continue to talk between themselves while Draco leans into the high backed chair, watching as other members of the Ministry, the Department of Magical Defense, and the Department of Magical Education slowly start to make their way towards the high table.
Headmistress McGonagall walks into the hall, inclining her head slightly as her eyes meet his, blatant relief on her face.
Draco responds in kind, though his features are arranged into a polite mask. He is there on her request. Hers and the current Minster of Magic, and although he is – for all apparent purposes – a guest, he is still Draco Malfoy, of the Malfoy Family, and there is more than one pair of eyes that look at him with something akin to fear and apprehension.
He carefully ignores them as he has for the past ten years, keeping his body relaxed, hands placed on the sides of the chair, palms upwards.
His wand is within his robes and the gesture of trust is apparent in his empty hands.
Only when the Minister of Magic himself walks in with his redheaded wife does Draco stiffen slightly. Though their animosity has long since vanished in the heat of a war and the years have changed them, they are still, and always will be, opposites and repel one another by their nature alone. But there is the past and when the Minister of Magic comes to the table Draco meets the emerald green eyes of Harry Potter without any emotion, though something still tightens in his gut at the hero of the Wizarding world.
They are not friends, but they, like so many, are forced allies who have grown to respect one another.
It is why Draco is there.
It is why Harry Potter asked him to be there.
Harry and Ginny Potter sit down. There are only a few more to arrive but only one more for Draco and he feels a thrum along the nerves of his spine. His eyes, deceptively lazy, scan the entrance to the hall.
She knows he is there this time, must have known it, for as soon as her slim form enters the hall, her eyes immediately seek out his own.
A past, and in the past there were moments, decisions made that should have never been made, paths that should have never been travelled or should never have existed in the first place.
He sees it, the liquid darkness around the edges of her eyes, along the edges of her person. She flows with it, a tide, towards him. It pulls on the very same thing that tinges his person.
She is the one that looks away.
The meeting begins.
It is simple, what the Department of Magical Defense wants to do, a variation of the already existing Defense Against the Dark Arts class, just slightly different, slightly more…dark.
It's been coming for some time, since the end of the war, since the overthrow of the Magic of Ministry, since times changed.
Things are not what they once were.
Some say innocence lost is innocence never to be regained.
The Wizarding world knows the truth of the statement, though some refuse to see it, and others refuse to even acknowledge innocence at all.
Draco listens with a slightly amused look on his face as those around him argue the new curriculum, as well as the need for a more open-minded society. He doesn't say anything, doesn't voice his own opinion. In truth, he has very little opinion on the matter.
Moody is the first to break, bringing a large fist down on the table, his magical eye roaming wildly. "You are going to teach these children Dark Arts! You are going to let them dabble in something none of you understand."
The Headmistress opens her mouth to speak but is cut off by the clear tones of her Gryffindor Head of House. "They are already learning," the voice quietly says.
Her voice reminds Draco of rivers in the middle of deep woods, casting shadows from a barely apparent moon.
Moody's eye swirls and lands on Hermione. Her face is calm, poised, and she meets the eye without flinching. That curl, always the same curl, falls from behind her ear and her hand pushes it backwards.
Draco's hand twitches into a fist.
"She is correct," Headmistress McGonagall says. Tension slowly ebbs away at the calm and serious tones of the Professor and Head of Hogwarts. "The children, children born of those who fought in the last war, already know of magic which was once considered dark."
"Which is still considered dark," Moody corrects, but not loud enough to interrupt.
The Headmistress ignores him and continues. "The line is no longer set in stone Alastor, you must realize that as Department Head."
It is a very Slytherin way of keeping Moody placated and it catches Draco by surprise, looking on his former Professor with a slight smirk marring the right side of his face.
"There are parents that will not like it," another voice chimes in.
Draco moves his eyes away from the Headmistress to look on the woman who spoke. Her face is bright, open, and a name comes to him; Susan Bones, now, Susan Longbottom, currently head of the Department of Magical Education.
He has never paid much attention to the Hufflepuff, never paid much attention to Hufflepuffs in general, especially back in school. Nonetheless, he finds himself looking at a very pretty, very intelligent looking woman, her reddish hair tinged with silver and folded into a long plait down her back, a gold ring twinkling in the torchlight.
If Draco was still the boy he'd once been, he would have sneered at her when she caught him looking, made a disabilitating remark, watch in pleasure as she flustered and stumbled.
He is not that boy.
His lips rise slightly in a half acknowledgement.
It is enough for her to blush slightly and look away.
Once a Hufflepuff, always a Hufflepuff.
He sneers inwardly.
"The parents must be aware of what is taking place," Ginny says, her position next to Harry Potter powerful. All eyes, including Draco's, turn towards her.
She continues, leaning lightly forward over her protruding belly, "How can anyone not see what is right in front of them?"
"Some do, some don't want to admit it, some believe it's flat out not true." Remus supplies, his face lined. "The Headmistress is right, the line is blurred."
"And will continue to be blurred," a new voice says, this one belonging to a tall black man, the current Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Kingsley Shacklebolt.
The Headmistress nods pertly. "It's true. If we cannot address this now, if we refuse to address this now, there will be problems in the future."
Draco watches the ongoing debate with slight detachment. It doesn't concern him, not really. He doesn't care if the decision for the curriculum is passed or not. He has no children, doesn't plan on having children, and his presence in the meeting is not for debating the good or ill of teaching a child a certain amount of black magic.
His presence is in case the curriculum is passed.
After an hour, the decision is made because Remus Lupin finally looks over at the Minister of Magic and asks his opinion.
It annoys Draco but years of being annoyed by one Harry Potter does not mean much and he turns his head to see what the dark haired man says.
Really, it's about what he expects.
"I think we don't have a choice," Harry says, looking every person fully in the face, meeting their eyes before moving on to the next person.
There are scars, they all have them, Harry does too, though the scar that once made him famous is no longer. Other things make him famous now.
Harry's eyes linger on Hermione and a noticeable softening occurs around his eyes, the fine lines there moving upwards in recognition of their long history. He speaks to the woman, the friend. "I think what Hermione said was right. They are already learning and instead of ignoring it, hoping it will go away, the better approach is to meet and help define it." He paused, scanning the room then, "I think it's the only way," he says quietly.
Draco is amused at the way Potter manipulates the room, the crowd. He uses his position, his past, who he is, and not for the second time Draco sees very Slytherin qualities in a Gryffindor.
So the vote is cast, and the decision to create a curriculum of Dark Arts is made.
If Draco were still the darling of the Malfoy family, the Slytherin prince, he would have smiled in satisfaction, in triumph. As it were, he has nothing to smile about. He has no desire to immerse himself back into the world he'd almost drowned in ten years prior. He has no desire to help out the Ministry of Magic or any of its departments.
He is doing this because the Headmistress once forgave him for a mistake he'd made as that Slytherin prince.
And for the witch who sits at the end of the table, quill twirling once more between her fingers as she listens to the deciding vote.
"I don't agree with this Minerva, I want to let you know," Moody says, voice hoarse, clearly dismayed if his roving eye is any indication.
"I am quite aware of that Alastor, and as such I will want your help with this."
"But my duties…"
The Headmistress puts up a hand, "I understand your duties as head of your department, and I am not requesting you take over this, rather, your input and your critical eye will be needed in the future."
There is a pause and Draco feels the tension in the rooms rise.
"Who are you going to have head this?" Remus asks, always the brave one, always the one to cross that boundary.
The Headmistress opens her mouth but the Minister of Magic cuts her off.
"I have decided," Harry says, voice smooth, "Along with Professor McGonagall, the best to head this program is Professor Granger and," he pauses, for effect, the perfect politician, "Mr. Malfoy."
There is a moment of silence where the only thing heard in the room is the flickering flame of the torches.
Then voices erupt.
Draco is not interested in anyone's reactions, not anyone's but the woman who, for the first time since she'd seated herself, looks over and locks eyes with him.
Her eyes are bright, widening slightly, and Draco realizes no one told her of his role in this.
Bloody fucking perfect.
His hand clenches but does not rise.
But some things never change and he allows a smirk to play along the right side of his mouth. Anyone else would have missed it, anyone without their past, without the swirling shadow of connection, they would have missed it.
She does not.
Her chin, that stubborn chin, rises slightly.
She looks away and the smirk on Draco's face grows so that a grin, briefly, oh so very briefly, graces his features, before it too falls away.
Moody is going off about the complete insanity of the plan, several other less important individuals, clearly distressed, raising their voices with his, and for a moment that part of Draco, that small part that is still a Malfoy, the core of his essence, revels in the chaos in front of him.
Until the Headmistress claps her hand once, twice, and the room falls silent.
"I understand all of your anxiety; however, events from ten years ago require the participation of Mr. Malfoy and Professor Granger." The Headmistress glances briefly at Draco.
Draco inclines his head in a slight agreement.
"I don't have a problem with Hermione heading it; we all know she will do a most excellent job, but…" Remus says. His voice is tinged with worry.
Draco's face is polite of course, but only because he has spent years honing a control that could rival Severus Snape's. Inside he feels nothing but irritation for the once werewolf.
Remus was there, on the sidelines, not part of it, but he was there, he saw what it was he and Hermione had done, had been forced to do out of necessity and grief, along with numerous other reasons. Had he forgotten? Or had he grown so comfortable in his wholly light world of marriage, family, and not being a werewolf, that he had carefully put it out of his mind.
"What are you going to get out of this boy?" Moody suddenly asks, swerving to look at Draco, clear dislike on his features.
Draco knew the question was coming, and had thought previously on how to answer, deciding the truth was the best course of action.
"Nothing," he replies and his voice is dark, cold, indifferent. It's the first time he's spoken and several at the table shiver to hear it.
The tone does not help the feelings in the room as voices raise again, Moody, of course, the loudest among them.
"Then why?" The question is asked, the voice rising effortlessly and without volume over all the others, silencing the cacophony just as effectively as the Headmistress' claps had earlier.
Draco looks over at Hermione and is not surprised to see genuine curiosity there. So many things have changed, so very many things, but the curiosity, the questions, are still there.
For some reason it comforts him.
For some reason it soothes the irritation sparkling along his nerves.
Draco is honest. "Because of my life debt to you, and to Professor McGonagall."
No one knows about his life debts, no one, and the cacophony begins again, but Draco ignores them, continuing to share a look with Hermione.
She has forgotten, probably through disuse more than anything, how to completely hide her feelings and he sees them, swirling in the dark brown eyes; curiosity, yes, always curiosity, questions, irritation of her own, and under that, underlying it and supporting it, a growing fear, a growing panic.
That piece of hair falls from behind her ear.
A hand comes up, tucking it back.
The place on his chest flares to life.
He sees red, hazed red, filling, colouring around his vision.
He looks away.
The conversation continues to circle around him but he is focused on the memory. The haze brings it, the leap of flames in a fireplace, a white feathered quill revolving around and around, first one way and then another. A piece of hair from the hastily arranged knot at the top of her head, him leaning over, the weight of it, the look of it in the orange and yellow flickering light, calling his hand.
She had startled, catching sight of his hand out of the corner of her eye, and then stilled, looking up at him as he pushed the piece behind her ear. She'd smelled of mint, of tea, of something flowery that he learned later, a long time later, was lavender.
"It's decided then," the Headmistress announces, pulling him from the memory, from the red haze. She turns and pierces Draco with her signature look. "Mr. Malfoy, if I could speak with you before you leave."
Draco inclines his head and then watches as everyone rises and slowly leaves the hall, voice falling and moving across one another.
The Minster of Magic stops in front of Draco. Green meets silver once more and Harry slowly nods. "Thank you for doing this Draco," he says quietly.
A lot has changed. Harry Potter has changed, Ginny Weasley, now Ginny Potter, has changed, her small arm curled into that of the Minister of Magic, belly stretching the robes in indication of the newest arrival to the family.
They have grown, developed, become different people.
But some things never change.
Draco smirks. "You owe me Potter," he says.
Draco sees Ginny's hold tighten on her husband's arm, but Harry just smiles and nods. "I do Draco."
Harry Potter, Minister of Magic, turns with his wife.
Draco watches his old enemy leave, then scans the rest of the Hall.
In the years following the war Draco became an honest man, at least with himself, so he acknowledges the disappointment for what it is when he sees, during his exchange with Potter, Hermione has slipped from the Hall.
He wanted to speak with her.
If just to say something inconsequential.
Or even cruel.
But she left, perhaps knowing, perhaps remembering, and he is the last to rise from his chair, following the rigid spine of the Headmistress.
Once seated in the Headmistress' quarters, teacup balanced in his hand, black clad legs stretched out in front of him, Draco watches in ill-concealed amusement as his old Professor tries to find words to explain what is worrying her.
"It will be fine Headmistress," Draco finally says in the silence, sipping at his tea, watching the older witch's features move from surprise then relief.
She sits down in the chair opposite him, pouring herself a cup. "You don't believe working together will be a problem? I understand you have not spoken to each other since young Ron Weasley's funeral."
Nothing outwardly indicates the sudden clench of stomach muscles, the spasm of nerves.
Draco takes another sip of his tea and then places it on the table between them.
He catches the Headmistress' eye and holds it. "I'm sure you know that Professor Granger is first and foremost a professional, intent on teaching children, intent on creating this program in order to help future wizards and witches. That's why, if I'm not mistaken, you did not feel it necessary to tell her of my involvement." Draco does not miss the look of guilt on her face but ignores it to continue. "You will find the same professionalism from me."
The Headmistress slowly nods. "I thought as much, but Severus was… not worried, of course, but when replying to my inquiries in his last letter, he sounded cautious."
Draco allows the irritation to show, for a moment, just a moment, but the Headmistress sees it.
She waves her hand, "He is just concerned for you."
"Of course," Draco says, moving the annoyance to the side, to be dealt with later. "But I can assure you, whatever Professor Granger's and my relationship consisted of during those days was a result of the nature of the time and has been effectively left in those days. We, the Wizarding world, has moved on Headmistress, and I, as well as Professor Granger I'm sure, have moved on as well. We've all changed Headmistress."
It is enough for his former Professor and soon Draco is released from her presence, once more walking the dark passageways of his old school, making his way towards the front entrance and towards the moonless night.
But a small voice, a voice he recognizes as that of his honest self, whispers in the shadows.
But some things never change.