Give Me Wings to Fly With

Summary: Having Harry Potter locked up as a dangerous beast, the Ministry shows no signs of gratitude for the Defeater of Voldemort. Until there is a new threat to be considered...

Warnings: Violence (perhaps even some gore), cursing, established relationship (HPDM), Character Death

Disclaimer: Not mine but Rowling's.

A/N: This complete story will consist of 16 chapters plus an epilogue and it will be updated once/twice a week. AU after the fifth book.

Beta'd by the most awesome girl of the Channel Islands, purplerawr. Thanks, m'dear!

Chapter I - Discarded Heroes

Beings of Magic: Volume III, Dark and Beautiful (ch. 12, p. 455)

Valerius, or Black Veela as some call them, are a rare breed of magical beings, distantly related to Veela and Muriens. There is not much known about the history of the Valerius, except that they are ancient and possibly existed in even as so early as the Victorian Era. The number of the species has rapidly decreased, mostly due to their rather unstable and fierce nature that has lead them to be hunted, imprisoned or even killed, and thus, the last sighting of a full-grown Valerius was in the Dark Ages. Some say there is an ancient curse, going all the way back to the beginning of the Wizarding civilisation, that can turn a normal Wizard into a Valerius, but it is unlikely as the power such curse demands would most probably kill both the caster and the victim.

Only recent studies have shown that in the presence of their so-called pack, however, consisting of their mate (see p. 601) and most trusted members of their family, Valerius do not show any sign of aggression or hostility unless the pack is threatened. In fact, Valerius have been told to be very human-like and gentle when not left alone. Much of this, of course, is up to speculation as there has not been a Valerius to study on for centuries.

"I want to see him. Right now."

Draco Malfoy gave his best glare of death towards the prim looking witch behind the shiny counter in the lowest level of the Ministry, accompanied with a clenched fist hitting loudly against the wooden surface of the counter. Behind the enraged young man with silky, impossibly white locks of hair, an aristocratic face and pricey, smooth robes were two other people. A young, slim woman with her dark brown hair gathered together with a clasp and narrowed, hazel eyes and an equally young, tall and broad-shouldered man with flaming red hair and a deep frown across his freckled face.

Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley exchanged a glance before Hermione placed a calming hand on the irate blonde's arm while Ron stepped forward, his cold, blue eyes fixating on the haughty woman clad in Ministry robes.

"We haven't seen him for two weeks, Ms. Prissy," the redhead venomously hissed, towering over the counter with his very tall build but still somehow managing to keep his distance so that the Ministry guards wouldn't intervene. "That's two weeks, fourteen days if you aren't able to count."

"I clearly remember the contract saying that the time periods between the visits can be only seven days," Hermione stated coldly, shooting daggers at the witch while keeping a restraining hand on Draco's arm. "We have been trying to get in touch with him for a week now and I really think that the time for that visit is today."

"I am fully aware of the contract, Ms. Granger," the witch stiffly declared. "However, the circumstances right now clearly indicate that -"

"What circumstances, pray tell?" Draco sneered at her, his hand badly itching to snatch his wand from his pocket - before he recalled that his wand was with the security officials. That made him sneer even harder and his mood became more sour and glowering. Mainly to entertain himself and to keep his temper in check, he called images to his mind; delicious images involving a certain Ministry official very much in pain.

The witch sniffed. "There has been some complications -"

"Complications?" Hermione's eyes narrowed even further. "What complications and why weren't we informed?"

"Only his legal family would have the right for that knowledge -"

The witch wasn't able to finish her sentence this time either. Ron let out a strange, strangled sound and his red hair almost seemed to have caught fire.

"Legal family, you say?" he spoke with bitter spite. "If you're saying we aren't his family, then you've got some facts wrong, missy!"

"He's pretty much adopted into the Weasley clan," Draco hissed, a fact that he wasn't overly fond of, but could live with. The Weasleys had, after all, welcomed him with what some could distantly describe open arms – with a couple of exceptions – , even though they had every reason to reject the relationship Draco had with Harry and shun him. "And I am his fiancé. Isn't that family enough?"

The Ministry witch opened her mouth again but this time, Hermione let go of Draco's arm and marched close to the desk, leaning over it. Her tamed, sleek hair was frizzling again like the way it did when they were still in school. Draco looked on with dark, gleeful anticipation, fully aware how a truly angry Hermione would behave. "You listen to me, you miserable little shit, and listen well. I know my rights and I happen to know his, too. I also know there shouldn't be anything preventing us from seeing him. So, I suggest you hop up from your nice little leather chair and skip off to let us in, or I swear to God, that by the end of this week, you will find yourself sacked, homeless and living off from the Muggle streets. If you're lucky."

The witch paled a bit and leaned back, away from Hermione. She took a moment to compose herself while Hermione stepped back to Ron and Draco. All three were glaring at the witch who visibly flustered under the immense waves of hatred.

"Fine, fine... " she finally muttered and quickly took a quill, scribbling something into a small piece of parchment which she sent off with a whispered word. Within minutes, a familiar door opened across the small hall and a guard peeked through, looking at them quizzically.

"Ms. Granger, Mr. Weasley and Mr. Malfoy are wishing to visit Mr. Potter," the witch told him, her voice rather rigid. "They have an hour, as usual."

The guard nodded and gestured the three occupants to follow him. With last glares towards the witch, Draco, Ron and Hermione took off after the guard and the door banged close behind them, sealing magically. The group of four travelled through the wide corridors with metallic doors on both sides, some with small windows with bars and names above them, occasional growls or suppressed whimpers echoing in the space. For someone never having visited the lower levels of the Ministry, the haunting, depressing atmosphere would have come as a shock, but regrettably, Draco, Ron and Hermione did have some hapless experience regarding the mostly unknown secrets the Ministry held.

Soon, they arrived at the end of the corridor where there was a door as well and a burly guard standing by. On the door, there was a sign with the words Extremely Dangerous, Off Limits Without Permission.

The sight of it always made Draco feel extremely bad. What did he ever do to deserve this kind of treatment? Oh yes, he just saved the world. He should be treated like a king, hailed and loved, but this is what he has become. This is what they made him become.

"Ms. Granger, Mr. Weasley and Mr. Malfoy to see Mr. Potter," the guard accompanying the three young people said and the door-guard checked his papers and ensured none of the visitors were carrying wands before nodding. "All fine."

The guard flicked his wand against the door and it clicked open after glowing blue for a second. Draco didn't wait for a second more and pushed through the door with Hermione and Ron not a step behind. They came into a large room with plenty of completely empty space on the sides for surveillance and a small area, barely the size of a tiny bedroom, restricted with strong bars in the centre. Inside the bars there was a small cot with grey blankets and a tiny toilet area with little privacy. A wrinkled photo of four, smiling people and a battered, stuffed toy-dragon were the only things telling there was actually someone living in the cage. For there was.

Beings of Magic: Volume III, Dark and Beautiful (ch. 12, p. 500)

The appearance of a Valerius is very human-like with some distinguishable features, the most distinct being its eagle-like, either midnight blue, dark green or black wings. The wings can be retracted, but not unless the Valerius is feeling completely safe and content, and there is no threat against its mate and/or pack. Much like the Veela, a Valerius changes appearance in danger or when its angered or devoid of any human contact. The eyes become completely black with no whites or pupils visible and Valerius' behaviour becomes animalistic and either feline or canine-like. The canines, which are long and sharp in normal occasion, as well, grow length in order to scare off the possible attacker. Normally, Valerius are able to speak human language, but when its strong urges and instincts take over, the species usually resorts to hissing and growling.

"Sweet Merlin," breathed Draco, who had reached the bars first. "Harry!"

Hermione took one look and swivelled around to face the guard trailing after them. "What the hell have you done to him?"

"He resisted when we tried to collect his blood," the guard shrugged, eyeing Hermione cautiously like she would jump on him anytime and claw his eyes out. Which, in all likelihood, was quite possible. "We had to secure our personnel by handling the situation."

"Handling the situation?" Hermione practically screamed. "Oh you will hear about this, mark my words."

The she whipped back around to put her eyes on her best friend, stifling a horrified gasp as she had a better look at him.

The Saviour of the Wizarding World, the best friend of Ron and Hermione, Draco's betrothed, the best graduated student in Hogwarts, the most talented Auror-trainee many had seen and the latest victim of Ministry's bigoted and old-fashioned laws; Harry Potter was laying on the cold, rough floor, curled into a ball. He was only wearing a pair of tattered jeans, from the time he had been apprehended, and his thinned upper body was bare, showing dark purple bruises over his ribs and shoulder blades. The once mighty and glossy wings rising from Harry's upper back, black with dark, rich red on the tips of the long feathers, were dulled and laying uselessly on the floor like a bundle of dead birds sprawled around Harry's body. His pale, even fragile looking face with hollow cheeks was resting against his other, neatly tucked hand, brilliantly bright eyes squeezed shut. There was a cut across one of his cheek and a busted lip made his mouth seem disfigured. Strands of jet-black, shaggy hair were covering his forehead, and at the same time, hiding the slowly fading scar there.

Draco was gripping the iron bars with whitened knuckles, his face pressed against the space betwee two bars. "Harry! Harry, can you hear me?"

Harry gave a small twitch, moaning a little. The wings fluttered slightly, feathers scraping the floor. A pale Ron glared at the guard shuffling restlessly nearby. "Open the door, now."

The guard gripped his wand tighter and shot a look at Harry, but reluctantly moved to the door of the cage. Something was whispered, a light blue light flashed and the door creaked slightly ajar with a shrill, warning buzz. That sound made Harry jolt and his darkened eyes snapped open like pools of glistering oil, not blinking as he trained his gaze on the guard on the door. The winged young man let out a low, inhumane growl, picking himself up from the floor with amazingly fluid grace bearing resemblance to a cat. He snarled at the guard with narrowed eyes, baring his predatory, white canines with animalistic hostility.

"Easy there," barked the guard, raising his wand threateningly and causing Harry to hiss venomously. Harry, however, backed away from the door, dropping into a low crouch while his wings, still matted and scruffy, were twitching in an agitated manner. His eyes, nevertheless, were the most intimidating. They were unnaturally bright in their blackness, though dulled by the captivity, and held nothing else than enmity and that certain wilderness only wild animals usually possessed. Yet, it was nothing new to Hermione, Ron and Draco, and they regarded the situation with worry and helpless sorrow.

"Harry, sweetie?" Draco stepped closer, unafraid. Harry, who hadn't seen anyone else than the guard yet, whipped his head towards him. The change was immediate. Harry inhaled a deep breath, blinked rapidly and his aggressive pose relaxed somewhat and he steadily gazed towards the blond until the look of recognition flooded into his eyes.

"Draco?" came the lost croak, and Draco sneered quickly at the guard.

"Can we go in?"

The guard nodded briefly and took a step away. "You know the rules by now. You have an hour."

No-one bothered to watch as the guard left the brightly lit room and the trio quickly entered the cage, the door closing behind them soundlessly. To an outsider, it would have looked an act of insanity, but people dealing with Harry knew better.

The moment the three youngsters were in the area isolated by the unbreakable bars, Harry let out a breathless sound and lunged towards them. However, instead of attacking them like many would have obviously thought, Harry latched himself onto Draco, wrapping his arms and wings tightly around the taller man. The black haired man nuzzled Draco's neck, making happy purring sounds like an oversized kitten.

"Missed you, Draco," Harry murmured, his voice hoarse and gruff. Bright green eyes, the blackness slowly fading, looked up into the grey ones, looking more human than before. Draco swallowed and pressed a gentle kiss on Harry's forehead. "Missed you, too, sweetie."

After awhile they broke off, allowing Harry to notice his other visitors as well. Ron and Hermione weren't disgruntled at not being noticed right away, it was natural, after all, that the foremost attention went to the mate first.

"Oh, honey." Hermione's tone was sorrowful. "What have they done to you?"

Beings of Magic: Volume III, Dark and Beautiful (ch. 13, p. 522)

Valerius' blood is said to have some potentially magical abilities that can be utilized in several Potions. A few drops of the blood can enhance boosting and energizing Potions like Strength Boost Elixir as well as some certain Healing Potions. It can, however, be also used in Demolishing Potions to make them more explosive and volatile. Using Valerius blood is very challenging since the ingredient is very hard to come by due to the rarity of the breed, and collecting blood from a living Valerius may prove to be extremely hazardous for the collector.

Harry's wings twitched restlessly and a shadow flickered across Harry's features before the man offered a sad smile, his canines flashing a bit. "'Mione... Ron..."

Before long, the three old friends were engulfed in an embrace. It wasn't as long as the one with Draco, but affectionate enough. Soon, Harry pulled away, tilting his face upwards to observe his friends while Draco sneaked a hand around his slim waist. "It's good to see you... "

Hermione grimaced. "I'm sorry we haven't been here earlier, Harry. We tried, but they wouldn't let us see you."

Harry cocked his head to the side. "So it has been longer that a week, then?"

"It has, mate," Ron affirmed, settling down onto the floor to sit. "And I guess your condition is the reason why they haven't let us in."

"What did they do, Harry?" Draco's slightly growling voice asked, his hands tightening around Harry, who shrugged a bit, his feathers ruffling.

"I kind of overreacted when they wanted to harvest my blood again," Harry replied quietly, his fingers brushing against a faint bruise on his arm where the blood must have been taken.

"And they beat you up because of that?" Hermione's upper lip curled and her brown eyes sparkled with fury. "I'll have a word with them! They have no right -"

"Please, Hermione... " Harry's soft voice stopped her. It held no contempt, no anger, just resigned hopelessness. Draco hated it. "I attacked them first. It does no good, you know it too. "

"But Harry -"

Harry shook his head, a sad look on his pale face. "It'll just waste your time. You know how they are when dealing with me. I mean, they nearly put me to sleep because of this in the beginning... "

Hermione's eyes filled with tears of sorrow, pity and anger as she recalled the time when they had been fighting for the life of her best friend. It had taken the best solicitor, the Malfoys' solicitor to be exact, to give Harry a permission to live by the Ministry. They had been through hard times, and it wasn't that easier now, when Harry was locked up like a rapid wild beast. "Okay, if you're sure, Harry... "

Harry's small smile bared the sharp teeth. "Thank you, 'Mione."

"How have you been, Harry, otherwise than... this?" Ron gestured wildly with his left hand, peering upwards at his winged friend as he was the one sitting cross-legged on the floor.

"The same, I suppose," Harry replied with a nonchalant motion with his shoulder. "Better than in the start, though, I might say."

Yes, definitely better than in the beginning. Back then, Harry was in such a bad condition it was extremely difficult for him to form even three-worded sentences. The lack of human company, as he had been almost completely isolated (to his and everybody else's protection, had the Ministry idiotically claimed), had made him nearly forget himself in the middle of the chaos and darkness.

"I only remember flashes, you know that already. When you're not here, it feels like a dream. A nightmare. Like... I'm not in control." Harry's wings slumped along with his shoulders and he leaned back to get comfort from Draco like a dog would do with its owner when frightened.

"Don't worry, I'm here now," murmured the blonde into his ear, his breath swaying the strands of hair. "And some day, some day we'll get you out of here."

Harry didn't look like he believed him, but purred nevertheless against his chest, a happy, content smile spreading over his face when Draco ran his fingers through Harry's hair. Sometimes, it seemed that it was only the touch of Draco that kept Harry sane during his lonely weeks in the pitiful cage. When Draco was able to touch his mate, Harry calmed down even from his deeply agitated state. A fact the Ministry was busily ignoring.

Soon enough, Harry had received enough soothing from the blond and he glanced towards Ron and Hermione, curiosity and longing in his eyes. "So, how are things... at home? How is everybody doing?"

"Everything is fine," Hermione said easily, aware that Harry needed to know how the rest of his "pack" was doing. "Remus is working on Grimmauld Place, it's soon ready to be the new headquarters for Aurors. He sends his love, as always."

Because Remus, Harry's godfather after Sirius' horrific death, was a known werewolf, he was strictly forbidden to come and see Harry, which agitated both the older man and Harry profoundly. Harry may have been of age already, but he still yearned to see the only father figure he had left.

"Dad got promoted at work," Ron grinned, a hint of pride in his voice. "He has now his own team at the department. Also, Charlie got the job as the professor at Magical Creatures at Hogwarts, did I tell you? Oh, and the twins opened their third store - you should hear their bragging: all day long how they're going to be world-wide famous and all."

"That's great, Ron." Harry's smile was genuine. "Your family really deserves the best. How's Bill, still instructor at the Auror training?"

"Yup. Ginny was his first student, actually."

Harry's whole countenance was content and slack as he listened the tales with avid attention, and no-one told him that Remus had been to hospital a short while ago after he got attacked by the Death Eaters still roaming around or how Bill had almost blown himself up trying some new curses. Harry was not that good at coping with bad news.

"And how's everything at our house, Draco?" Harry asked, getting a nearly dreamy expression in his eyes. He and Draco's house was a luxurious country house, surrounded by lush meadows, lavish forests and a sparkling lake. It was a place both of them loved and it was filled with good memories.

"Fine, sweetheart, it's fine." Draco caressed Harry's fluid wings carefully. "I just got the fence surrounding the northern meadow fixed. It would be so much better if you were there, though. It feels so empty when I'm by myself in that big house."

"I know," Harry murmured sorrowfully. His wings drooped a little again, mirroring his feelings. "I wish I could be there, too. When things go bad here... I try to think of an early morning at our house, watching the sun rise, the splashing of the lake reaching our ears... "

Draco couldn't find any words. He just held Harry tighter, burying his head into Harry's wild hair. It was always emotionally draining and frustrating to visit the Ministry, to witness once again how Harry's life had so radically changed. The sheer unfairness of it made Draco want to scream. But since the other option would be to leave Harry completely on his own, leave him to be consumed by the dark being he was sharing a body with – there was no other way.

"Do those hurt, Harry?" came Hermione's shy voice after a minute. The pair of young men looked up and saw Hermione observing Harry's damage with a worried frown on her face. Harry glanced down at his torso, licking his split lip.

"Not that much," he quietly replied, sweeping his hand cautiously over the bruises. "I heal fast."

Hermione obviously wasn't satisfied, but gave the offensive injuries one more glare, fiddling her empty pockets before letting out a huff. "I wish I had my wand with me. Damn the security!"

Harry gave a crooked grin, looking half amused, half sad. "You think they'd let you with your wands here? Here, into the cage of a Valerius?" A snort of laugh followed that. "They'd be too afraid I'd steal one of your wands and somehow, despite the wards preventing any magic performed by magical beings, manage to escape."

Ron shook his head. "Mental, they are."

"Haven't we already noticed that," muttered Draco with distaste, pursing his lips. "Bunch of bigoted hypocrites, the lot of them."

As on cue, the door to the room opened and the familiar guard with dark blue robes entered. "Alright people, the hour's up."

Knowing from previous experiences that begging for more time didn't help, Draco squeezed Harry one more time tightly and gave him a quick kiss. "Love you sweetie. Be brave."

"Love you too, angel," Harry murmured, reluctantly releasing his hold of the blonde. There was uncontrollable sadness, but also bright fear in his eyes. Being alone was what Harry hated and feared the most – alone, his memories of being Harry the human faded until they were nothing more than washed-out images. Hermione and Ron swooped him down into a last hug. "We'll come again, as soon as possible."

With the usual, grievous goodbyes, the hardest part of the visit, the guard gripping tightly to his wand ushered them out of the cage and clammed the cage door back closed as quickly as he humanly could. Harry dutifully remained where he was, staring after them with a lost expression. Draco blew him a kiss to which Harry smiled faintly, but they could see Harry's gaze glaze over as they walked away from the dreaded cage. At the door, his eyes had darkened and he was already snarling slightly, the intimidating wings spread taut and wide as he took the aggressive pose again, seeing nothing else than the threat of the guard once more.

An hour isn't enough. It never is.

After the exhausting visit, Draco kindly declined Ron and Hermione's invitation to join them for coffee and set off to home, morose and glum as usual. There was no way in hell he could stay cheery and merry after witnessing the outcome of one of the most unjust and cruel decisions the Ministry had made in a decade. He Apparated to the grounds, letting the warm sunshine and the calming twitter of the birds wash over him like a healing blanket. With a deep sigh, he started the short trek along the winding cart road sided with meadows filled with beautiful, heavenly scented flowers and the occasional ash trees. The three-storey house, made of reddish, dark wood came shortly after into view. The pure white frames around the large windows were shining as if they were sparkling snow. It wasn't a palace or a manor, but it wasn't a plain, run-down hovel like the Burrow (Draco had seen quite a few times; as Harry's boyfriend, he had been invited to plenty of dinners and parties that had been held in the Weasley Residence) It was one of the kind, with vines climbing up the walls and window boxes with plush flowers and plants that covered almost half of the outer walls and white French doors Draco has specifically requested.

All in all, it was a home.

Draco stepped through the protective wards into the front yard covered in lilies, narcissus and sunflowers. A pond with a small fountain of a dragon and a phoenix made of marble was bubbling softly in the circle of said flowers. Sturdy oaks and elms were standing nearby, their leaves ruffling in the gentle breeze. A bright sparkle of the forest-surrounded lake could be seen just behind the house.

Climbing the few steps onto the large porch Draco inhaled the soothing scent of the flowers planted there, into small, ceramic flowerpots. Harry had planted them himself, before everything bad had happened. Standing there, in peace and quiet, Draco was very glad that there were no other people near. The whole place was Unplottable, of course, Muggles couldn't see it and there were very few houses in the neighbourhood. In fact, the nearest house was Hermione and Ron's, a couple of miles to the south.

Draco flicked the door open and went through to the cool hall with light panels and drawers dropped next to walls. He hanged his cloak on the coat rack and made his way slowly across the large room to the parlour, passing the wide staircase leading up, and flopped tiredly down into one of the armchairs. The parlour was decorated with good taste. Its walls were a mix of calming blue and beige, baby-blue chiffon curtains on the huge window letting the light flow into the room freely. Comfy sofas and armchairs were arranged in front of the spacious shelf holding the newest kind of Muggle technology, courtesy of Harry's Muggle upbringing; a plasma-television, DVD-player and stereos, and some artefacts such as Hogwarts graduating diplomas in frames. Between the sofa and armchairs was a low glass table, some haphazardly abandoned Wizarding magazines, newspapers, old mugs and a plate with something that remotely resembled a sandwich on top of it

These days, Draco didn't have that much energy to clean up after himself.

A massive fireplace held court in one of the corners. A jar of Floo powder was sitting on the mantel piece, as was a vase with a lone sunflower, charmed not to wither. On the empty space on the wall was a collection of moving Wizarding photos. Draco got up and walked to the pictures, feeling idle and lethargic. His fingers brushed against the frames.

One was of Harry's parents, next to Draco's. James and Lily Potter looked happy and radiant, as if they had no idea of the death warranties hanging over their heads at the time the picture had been taken. Lucius and Narcissa were more restrained and guarded, as it would be unfitting for a Malfoy to be anything else, but Draco imagined he detected a proud glint in his father's eyes and a small smile twisting Narcissa's lips now and then. Sirius Black and Remus Lupin alongside with James Potter were grinning in one the photos, arms casually slung over each other's shoulders. Words 'Prongs, Padfoot and Moony' were carved into the frame, the handwriting made by Harry's wand a little sloppy and curvy. Harry had explained the meaning of the words to him once. He had explained the broken friendship, the everlasting connection the three wizards would always have.

Then there was a picture of Draco with his Slytherin gang of Blaise and Pansy, and of Harry in his own gang of Gryffindors, as memories from their more carefree school days. A few were showing the four unexpected friends, Draco, Harry, Ron and Hermione. It had been a great shock to the school, yes, when Harry and Draco had bluntly announced they were together in their seventh year. No-one had expected the rage and petty hatred to change into roaming passion and, finally, to tender love. The press, naturally, had had a field day once they found out that Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived was seeing Draco Malfoy, the son of a Death Eater. The writer of the most scathing articles, Rita Skeeter, somehow mysteriously disappeared after having written that the boys were together only because Draco was only after Harry's money.

What Draco loved the most, however, was the biggest photo of him and Harry. It was from the time everything was still well and good, from the time they had just bought the house. The two of them were sitting on a bench at the shore of the lake, leaning into each other with the comfortableness only few could achieve. Draco was cupping Harry's face as they were sharing an affectionate kiss in the shadowed light of the sunset. It was a beautiful snap of a beautiful moment never forgotten.

Draco let out a tired sigh, turning away from the photos he could stare at for hours, lost in his own thoughts. Dwelling in the past did no good, he knew it. It was just hard to accept the truth sometimes. Every day, Draco still expected to hear Harry's footsteps from the porch and then he'd see him coming in with that bright smile of his that could chase every shadow away from Draco's nightmares. Seconds after, however, Draco always remembered that Harry would not walk through the front door anymore and he would clench his fingers around his wand, resisting the urge to tear the whole house down.

Footsteps echoed in the empty, soundless house as the blonde trudged to the large kitchen, equipped with all sort of fancy stuff Harry had insisted they'd buy, but still managing to look cosy. Harry had liked to cook the Muggle way: it calmed his nerves, he had said. Trying to shake his head free from thoughts of Harry, Draco opened the fridge and picked a bottle of soda. He reached for a glass from one of the cupboards, his gaze shifting involuntarily towards the shelf in which Harry kept his small notebooks filled with recipes of delicious meals. Most of them had come from Molly Weasley, but some of them Harry had invented himself, always uninhibitedly venturing with exotic ingredients, producing unusual dishes from rye pudding to rutabaga casserole. Draco hurried to grab the glass and turned to the shiny counter made of the finest of marble, filling the glass with the blissfully cool liquid.

His thirst satisfied, Draco slowly walked out of the kitchen smelling of spices and fresh fruits and vegetables, and ascended the beautifully carved stairs upstairs, wandering into the spacious bedroom. It was a snug room, the walls painted light green and dark red, representing their former Houses of Hogwarts. A wide bed with pale blue covers rested beside a great window, right next to the glass door leading to the balcony. A desk covered in parchments and quills was put next to a narrow bookshelf holding just a few books - most of their books were in the library on the third floor. More photos were hanging on the wall, artfully framed, alongside with a colourful painting of Hogwarts.

It had been done by Dean Thomas, a Gryffindor who had died at an unnamed Death Eater's hand at the end of their seventh year at school. Draco hadn't really known him, he had been more of a Harry's friend because of his House, but he had agreed to put the painting up as a tribute to the fallen boy. It was a pretty painting, after all, with plenty of amazing details and a hopeful atmosphere with its bright colours. Draco could almost sense the calming effect Hogwarts always gave him just by looking at the painting, seeing how the light shimmered in the castle's numerous windows, seeing the vast grass field with small people scattered all over on the hot summer day, the peaceful lake by the castle, a few ripples on the otherwise immobile surface. Draco brushed his fingers against the painting, and moved on.

A door lead to a bathroom, another to a very large closet for clothes. Some ornaments were placed onto a shelf, including the snitch Harry had caught in his first game and the small, silver statue of a fierce dragon with green jewels as eyes that Harry had given to Draco on his 18th birthday. A stuffed toy animal in the form of a roaring lion, its fur made of Cashmere with golden threads and deep red rubies as eyes, sat on top of a drawer next to the bed. It had been a gift from Draco to Harry on his 18th birthday. Meaningless trinkets for some, but irreplaceable items for Draco and Harry.

Draco fell on the bed, blankly staring at the white ceiling. He found himself, despite his efforts, thinking back to the time the peace in his life had shattered.