Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter nor do I own Draco Malfoy. If I did then these book would never have been sold to children ;)
A/N: Things I should mention before we start. This story has been thoroughly researched and where possible all Cannon details are correct. The only ones that are not are those that have been purposefully changed to suit my plot.
Whilst this is a work in progress it has been fully completed and edited up to chapter eight and has chapter plans drawn up for well after that so no worries I will be sticking around
Beta for this story was the beautiful and inspiring saras_girl without whom I would have given up long ago
When the Flames Die
Today is the greatest day I've ever known
Can't wait for tomorrow I might not have that long
I tear my heart out, before I get out.
Pink ribbon scars, that never forget
I've tried so hard to cleanse these regrets
My angel wing were bruised and restrained.
My belly stings
Today- Smashing Pumpkins
Saturday May 2nd 1998, Hogwarts Castle 6:30am
The flames around him rose higher and higher; the thick black smoke choking his lungs but still he walked forward. The wind shifted the cloud and before him he saw the Hogwarts grounds littered with the bodies of his fallen friends. The Weasleys, Hermione, Remus and Tonks all lay there. Neville, the Creevey brothers, Seamus and Dean also lay amongst the dead. The ground was spongy beneath his feet; he looked down and the grass was red with the blood of both enemies and friends.
From the smoke, emerged a lone figure making his way towards him through the pre-dawn light; a strong breeze whipped his hair and his cloak billowed out to the side. The smoke, the breeze, the glow from the fire all compiled to give the whole scene a strange somnambular feel. He raised his wand as he watched the figure approach but whoever it was didn't react. They simply kept walking towards him, their pace steady. Now he could make out light blond hair and a tall, lithe figure and recognition finally kicked in.
Malfoy. The two stopped not six feet from each other.
"So you did it then?" Malfoy's voice was barely above a whisper but it felt like he was saying it directly into Harry's ear, even so far as breath ghosting over his neck.
Malfoy finally looked at him and held his gaze. He felt his chest might burst. Tears ran from silver eyes and platinum hair whipped about Draco's face. A smudge of soot marked the pale skin on his left cheek and a trickle of blood, from a gash above his eyebrow, stood out in stark contrast.
"So what now?" Draco asked as Phoenix song began to resonate and dawn crept over the horizon.
Harry sat bolt upright in bed, the dream still burnt into his mind. He took a couple of deep calming breaths, willing himself not to throw up. His breathing calmed slightly as he realised the extremes his subconscious had gone to regarding the survival rate of his friends. They weren't all dead. Just a lot of them he thought morosely.
Throwing himself back against the pillows, he glanced at his watch. He was disgusted when he realised that he had not yet been asleep for two hours which, considering he had just had the most exhausting day of his life, was not even close to being sufficient. Closing his eyes again, he hoped he might drop back off but luck, it would seem, was no longer with him.
Malfoy's parting words echoed through his thoughts.
This was a very pertinent question. Somehow, Harry was still alive which was, in itself, surprising. But now he was beginning to realise that this phenomenon carried with it a whole host of other problems and responsibilities. This morning he had walked into the Forbidden Forest with every intention of dying for his cause, of sacrificing himself so that his friends could live on and be free.
He had imagined that today would bring a reunion with his parents, and Sirius, and Remus. That he would watch over his friends as they went on, without him continuously dragging them into trouble. It had never entered his comprehension that being the Master of Death would give him a degree of perpetuity. On reflection he realised that it was somewhat asinine of him not to have considered this as a possibility. Returning from death was starting to present him with challenges and his mind was refusing to still itself.
The idea of living, really living, was starting to present more responsibilities than he had previously thought possible. The most obvious of these was Teddy Lupin. He hadn't agreed lightly to become the child's Godfather. Admittedly, he had been in something akin to shock when he had assumed the responsibility but he more than most knew how important this role was, especially in the middle of a war.
He shivered as he realised just how similar Teddy's start in life would be to his own. But Teddy would have an advantage; he had a grandmother who would love him, not resent him as Harry's own Aunt had done. He would have a Godfather who was there and not rotting in a cell in Azkaban. He was determined that he would be there for the boy as he grew up and help Mrs Tonks in any way he could. Still sleep eluded him.
His thoughts wandered to Ginny and how she had looked stooping over that girl in the grounds with words of comfort on her lips, her fierceness as she had battled against Bellatrix Lestrange, eyes flashing with passion and intent. How small and fragile she had appeared as she leant against her mother's shoulder in the Great Hall. He already knew that the longing he had felt for her had dissipated and left in its place admiration, respect and a love that was entirely fraternal.
He had expected this outcome for some time now, ever since the dreams had begun around Christmas. He would now have to tell her that they wouldn't be getting back together and he could only hoped that she wouldn't take it too hard. This train of thought was of no comfort to him, and allowing it space in his head did nothing to help him back to sleep. He sat up again and swung his legs off the bed, inhaling sharply when his feet came into contact with the frigid stone floor. He may as well get up. He could go down stairs start to help with the clean up; hopefully he would sleep better in his own bed at Grimmauld tonight.
There was going to be so much to do in the aftermath. There would be funerals to plan, to attend, Death Eaters to punish. Suddenly the image of Malfoy swam in front of his eyes unbidden; his attention fell upon the ten inch long hawthorn and unicorn hair wand that had been hastily discarded on his nightstand and an unhappy reality dawned on him. He was the only one who knew how Draco and his Mother had helped. The only one who knew that Draco had tried to defect last year on the Astronomy Tower and had, from what Harry had seen, been forced to deal with this failure ever since. He was the only person who could clear them of the charges that they would be sure to face.
Not even stopping to pull on shoes, Harry snatched up the hawthorn wand and barrelled out of Gryffindor tower. Two hours, he had slept for two hours. How long would it have taken the Aurors to start rounding up the Death Eaters in the Hall? How long before they figured out that the Malfoys were sitting there amongst the other survivors?
Well, not Lucius (and Harry thanked Merlin for that. Malfoy Senior's presence would have drawn attention fast), but Draco and his mother were. Reaching the marble staircase Harry threw a leg over the balustrade and slid the last few feet into the entrance hall. He leapt from the banister and landed, cat-like, placing one hand on the floor to steady himself. He straightened and walked into the Great Hall, feigning a nonchalance he certainly didn't feel.
It took him a moment to spot the Malfoys as they were surrounded by Aurors and in the end it was Professor McGonagall's shrill protestations that drew his attention to their whereabouts.
"Mr Malfoy is still a student at this school. Since when has it been Ministry policy to send children to Azkaban?"
"He is not a child, Professor, he is of age and bears the Dark Mark," the Auror explained, his tone impudent.
Harry's eyes shifted to Malfoy. He stood behind McGonagall; his head hung so that his hair fell forward in a curtain covering his face. His trousers were torn and a large shiny burn was visible on his leg. In all, he was a picture of abject misery and defeat, and Harry felt his heart go out to him. He was in this mess because his father was a lunatic and a moron who had put his own ambitions before the safety of his family. Had he been in Malfoy's position, had his mother been in Riddle's clutches with her safety resting entirely in his hands, he could not claim that he would have done any different.
"Look, I'm sorry, I really am, but you have no authority here." The Auror's disdainful tone cut into Harry's musings and he found himself getting angry. How dare he speak to the professor in that way? The Aurors had spent all year chasing him and indirectly working for Riddle. To suggest that McGonagall, who had worked her arse off for the Order, had no authority was unacceptable.
Stepping towards the party, he cleared his throat and eight sets of eyes fell on him. He immediately questioned the acumen of his decision to simply walk in here and intervene. Ah well, it was too late now, his presence had been announced. Summoning every ounce of Gryffindor bravery, he injected himself into the fray.
McGonagall looked at him curiously at first; her eyes widening in shock and surprise as he positioned himself alongside her, part of the barrier between the Aurors and the Malfoys. Finally, her features schooled themselves into a glare of resolve and superiority towards the impertinent Auror, a hint of a smug smile playing on her lips.
"Mr Potter?" The Auror looked at him quizzically.
"I have directions to take all Death Eaters to Azkaban to await trial." He was clearly hopeful that Harry might just step aside and allow it if he explained the situation to him: how naïve.
"I understand that." Harry wrestled to rein in the exasperation and frustration he was feeling toward this man. Condescending to him would get them nowhere fast. "But Mrs Malfoy and her son were captives of Riddle who helped immensely in the fight against him. Both of them have risked their lives to save mine on more than one occasion and without Draco's help I would not have had the necessary tools to defeat Riddle at all."
He took a steadying breath and turned to catch Malfoy's gaze. The expression he was wearing was beyond shock. He pulled the hawthorn wand from the pocket of his hoodie and offered it to Malfoy.
"Thanks for the loan."
Malfoy reached out carefully to take it, apparently concerned that any second Harry would snatch it back, laugh in his face and order him hauled off to Azkaban. Harry steadily held his gaze.
"If you hadn't lied for me, I would be dead right now, and so would Hermione and Ron. I know how much you risked doing that and I really appreciate it." Draco finally took the wand and Harry offered him a small smile as he left the hand that had offered the wand extended towards the blond.
Once again the surprise on Malfoy's face was almost humorous, but this time he didn't procrastinate and he grasped Harry's hand firmly and shook it once.
"Thank you, Potter."