I would like to apologize to those of you that read 'Draco Reads Machiavelli' – I lost my train of thought with that one and scrapped it. Well, actually, I reworked it into this story. Hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: do not own anything

After The War

Ron, Harry, Ginny and Hermione were back at Hogwarts completing their seventh year. There were considerably fewer students at Hogwarts – some had died and some were too afraid to return. Some parents only allowed their offspring to attend school upon hearing that the infamous Harry Potter would be the temporary instructor in Defence Against the Dark Arts for the lower school (staff numbers had also dwindled). The subject was not offered to Years 5 and above due to the staff shortage. Harry, however, thought instruction in this area was crucial and offered after-school lessons to any interested students. Taking classes, giving classes, quidditch and after school DADA lessons – Harry Potter was constantly on the go – and now he and Ginny were in the same year, they hardly ever left each other's sides.

Ronald Weasley had changed a lot since the war. Fighting alongside Potter on the winning team had given him a huge confidence boost, not to mention a boost to his popularity. Unlike his best friend Harry Potter, Ron was tall and solidly built with a rough and rugged sort of look. The Gryffindor Quidditch co-captains had named Ron as a new beater that year (although Ginny and Harry later confessed that they were desperate). He was still as hot-headed as ever and never backed down from a fight – though this just seemed to add to his alpha-male allure. It was not uncommon for a Slytherin girl to strike up a conversation with the Gryffindor red-head or for a young wizard to all but destroy his new robes in an effort to sport the now popular 'worn look'. Like his appetite, Ron's ego also seemed to be ever-expanding.

This attention lavished on Ron did not go unnoticed by his girlfriend; she was not amused. She was even less amused with Ron's new found ability to flirt (he swore it was all innocent). Hermione Granger had not miraculously blossomed into a stunning young lady. Her modest bosom had not inflated; she had not 'filled out' and become super-curvy nor had she suddenly taken an interest in make-up, fashion or in taming her mass of unruly curls. No, Hermione Granger seemed the same as ever. She still sat in the front of every class and annoyingly answered every question (correctly). She would often be seen trotting quickly along the Hogwarts corridors with more books than she could properly carry. She had been instrumental in getting Harry's afterschool DADA programme approved and functional, but when they deteriorated into ogling sessions for her boyfriend, Hermione stopped participating, finding solace instead in her books. Hermione did not teach any classes; she did not play quidditch and now she longer had afterschool DADA obligations. For a girl in a relationship, she spent an awful lot of time alone.

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It was amazing; really, how quickly the wizarding world had recovered from the war – almost as if a Dark Lord returning from the dead, seeking revenge on a teenage boy while trying to take over the world, was an everyday occurrence. It did dawn on many that it was, in fact, not the first time some overzealous megalomaniac had attempted to seize control – not even the first time with this particular Dark Lord. There were codes and statutes and emergency laws, most of which the average wizard had never even heard of, that came into play immediately after Voldemort's defeat. The justice system was as swift as the medical system (some emergency law). Non-war related cases were put on temporary hold and war-related cases were triaged and expedited. Some cases were even held and verdicts decided without the defendant present (some other emergency law). This gave aurors the power to execute or imprison war criminals when caught without need for a lengthy trial or time away from their jobs having to 'give testimony' and all that, as the criminals had already been tried. Such criminals would be able to appeal their judgments at a later date, provided of course, that they had not been sentenced to death.

The Malfoys' cases had already been tried. They had all gotten off easy. "Too easy" it was whispered in some circles. Draco's mother, Narcissa, had been acquitted of all charges. His father, Lucius, had been found guilty of aiding and abetting the Dark Lord. However, as he did not actually fight (he didn't even have a wand), he was sentenced to 36 months of community service. The Wizengamot, undoubtedly in an attempt to embarrass the Malfoys, decided that Lucius would serve his community by working in the Ministry of Magic – Department of Muggle Liaisons, under the auspices of none other than Arthur Weasley. Arthur, urged on by his colleagues, gave Lucius the position of 'Officer of Magical Affairs' – in the muggle Ministry – a position appointed by the wizarding world and formerly held by a muggle. It meant that Lucius Malfoy would have to work side by side with muggles, day in and day out, for 36 months, or spend time in Azkaban.

"He got what he deserved", "So much for the great Malfoys", "Working with muggles – isn't that funny"

Most agreed that it was a just and suitable punishment for Lucius Malfoy, although such sentiments were short-lived as Lucius quickly worked his way up the ranks in the muggle ministry. "When will the fools learn to never underestimate a Malfoy?" Lucius often chuckled over dinner. Now 'out' in the muggle world, Lucius had made [even more of] a fortune in dot-coms and real estate. In a few months he was appointed to the head of the Ministry by the muggles and was soon transferred to another, more powerful, muggle ministry all together. By the time Arthur Weasley tried to recall him, Lucius had already gained favour with the muggle Prime Minister who adamantly opposed the recall. The Prime Minister pointed out that muggle-magic relations had never been better and that Lucius was still fulfilling his community service obligations.

The matter ended before the Privy Council who informed the Chief Warlock in no uncertain terms, that while they respected the Statute of Secrecy, it was they the Privy Council and not the Wizengamot that had the final say on British Law and that the wizarding world, being part of Britain, albeit a secret part of Britain, was still subject to their final decision. Their final decision was that Lucius Malfoy was an invaluable asset to the muggle government and his appointment to Office would not be renounced because of some petty, malicious vendetta. The Wizengamot managed to convince the muggle government to agree to a magical screening, but after weeks of prying aurors not finding any charms, bindings, illicit potions or any other mind-altering spells or concoctions the Chief Warlock conceded that Lucius' good looks, aristocratic flair and cool demeanour were enough to win him favour in muggle politics. The Wizengamot backed down.

"Ironic" Lucius continued to chuckle over his food "that when it all boils down, the muggles are really the ones holding all the power" his countenance changed and took on a more sinister appearance as he added "for now".

Lucius Malfoy's opinions about muggles had not changed. But now he was driven about by muggles, they cooked his meals and washed his dirty socks, they waited on him hand and foot and pandered to his every need - only now it was perfectly acceptable. A little jinx here and an obliviate thereand no one could say a thing. In fact, most muggles that knew of his wizarding abilities were so in awe of him that they didn't mind being hexed every now and again. No, Lucius Malfoy did not need to change his view about muggles.

He was featured in the Daily Prophet newspapers everyday and on muggle television every other. He walked on red carpets and cruised the Caribbean on private yachts. He was on a first name basis with the British Prime Minister. He had lunch with the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace and dinner with the American President at the White House with a meeting with the UN in Geneva somewhere in between. His wife inspired fashion trends and his son played polo with princes. From Tokyo to Honolulu, Sydney to New York, Lucius Malfoy had become a household name. He was richer and more powerful now than he'd ever dreamt possible before the war.

Ronald Weasley almost choked on his pumpkin juice when he saw Lucius Malfoy's picture adorning People magazine as 'sexiest man of the year'. "Some people just always come out on top, no matter what" Ron lamented.

Draco Malfoy, like his parents, had also received "nothing but a slap on the wrist". He was under the legal age when he took the dark mark and orchestrated Dumbledore's assassination, and everything he did afterwards was solely in the interest of protecting his family "nothing more than any reasonable wizard in his position would have done" the Wizengamot concluded. His only sentence was to 'finish his NEWTS'. Another year at Hogwarts would have been like a prison sentence for Draco, except that his father took advantage of a minor technicality. The Chief Warlock never said where he had to complete his studies. Durmstrang was still administering exams the year of the war and, with a little coercion (in the form of galleons), eagerly offered the exams in English for 'displaced students'. With a plethora of private tutors and two months in the cold, Draco was soon back in England – a fully qualified wizard. In an unexpected show of generosity (re: a successful attempt to regain favour in the wizarding world), Lucius Malfoy offered to pay for any and all fifth or seventh year students to sit their exams at Durmstrang that year. He even offered access to [most, but not all of] Draco's private tutors. The Golden Trio politely declined. Some students, mostly Slytherins, took up the offer. Afterwards, they and their parents (as anticipated) lavished praise on the Malfoys and their generosity (although most of them felt queasy about being in Lucius Malfoy's debt).

Draco Malfoy, back in England, was now in business with his new best friend Blaise Zabini – Emzee Industries. Always excellent in potions, Draco had developed a new line made exclusively from ingredients easily obtainable in the muggle world. One potion in particular – one that improved alertness – was a rampant success and having received the 'go ahead' from the Ministry of Magic (both in the wizarding and muggle world) and various muggle Food and Drug Safety Administrations, Draco and Blaise marketed a diluted version of the potion under the guise of an energy drink 'Pink Buffalo'. Draco thought the name was ridiculous, but Blaise handled the marketing and it was an instant success. Very few people knew (or cared) that the Pink Buffalo company was a wholly owned subsidiary of Emzee Industries, and even fewer knew who the two major shareholders in Emzee Industries were . As far as anyone knew, Draco and Blaise were two filthy rich playboys who shagged anything in a skirt and pretended to be conducting research into the chemical and magical properties of common foods.

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It was January, the year after the war.